This year the field training officers at Casey station are Mick (Senior Senior or the Wizard), Billy and myself (James.) Unfortunately Mick feels like he is the only Field Training Officer (FTO) waving the Australian flag and feels outnumbered by us South Islanders, which is kind of true. So Billy and myself are nurturing him through to voyage three, when another Australian FTO (Tim) who will replace our Senior Senior FTO will eventually feel the same sort of love the Mick has grown to know so well!
It was a nice feeling at the start of the summer season to get to Casey station in one day from Hobart via McMurdo; even though there were new expeditioners and Joe who wished they could have a little stay over so they could have a look around.
After landing at Casey ski landing area I was amazed at how little snow there is and how much blue ice there is exposed. It must have either been a dry winter or very windy!
Once all had settled in on station we had a good storm which is always good for those new to the icy continent to experience. I got the six new aviation lads to experience the storm by navigating 500m off station, so they get to feel the power of Mother Nature and where it all can go wrong quite easily if they don’t follow the right procedures. Once we got back to station I had Steve demonstrate how to get into a bivvy in 50knots winds. Well done Steve, nine out of ten!
The storm had cleared and off into the field we go, first off the block is the aviation lads, keen as! Four days of survival, field travel on quads and Hägglunds driver training. There were some tired lads by the end of the four days.
While the aviation lads were in the thick of their training, Mick and Billy were out training all our new and old expeditioners as well as the Aurora Basin traverse team in survival and safe field travel.
I am amazed at how little sea ice there is and how fast it has disappeared, also how warm the temperatures are for this time of the season.
This year we have a recreation programme over the weekend which the FTO’s will guide trips, like skiing to Wilkes, guided quad trips, ice climbing, polar camping etc. This will make sure over the busy summer that people can get off station and see the sights during their down time.
Not long now until we get on the water with the boats.
As I type we are expecting the first A319 flight of the season from Hobart with a new wave of fresh faces to train.