First we see a dark dot way off in the distance, then over Newcomb Bay and past the station the big grey bumble bee of a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-17 approaches the Drop Zone up on the plateau with our precious cargo.
We’ve been sending weather updates since 0230 hours in the morning, five hours before take-off, to let the aircrew know that the weather is perfect down on the ice today for our parcel to be delivered. Three knots of wind; we couldn’t ask for better conditions for 1000kg to be dropped from the back of a plane attached to two large khaki parachutes or, as we’ve learnt this week, the Aerial Delivery Equipment…
Right on time, the C-17 does its first pass over the Drop Zone (DZ). A tarp is spread on the Point of Impact (PI) to indicate to the aircrew that the DZ is clear of personnel and vehicles and we’re ready to receive. Around she loops and then BINGO! Back ramp is down, cargo is launched, parachutes open, and our huge crate of mechanical parts (and a mail bag!) floats gently to the ground.
After another quick pass to confirm the drop and to give us a little dip of the wings in greeting, the beautiful piece of aeronautical engineering (it just shouldn’t be able to lift off the ground) turns and starts its return home to Australia. Our first sign of life in over seven months and it’s all over so quickly.
Thank you to the Australian Defence Force for your support to the Australian Antarctic Program today. We’re now good to fix Wilkins’ snow blowers and make sure the runway is ready for our escape to warmer climes in just over six weeks. Next time you visit you’ll be able to land and spend some time with us (and you'll be taking some of us home with you!).
In other exciting news, this week the Traverse Team successfully completed their trip to Law Dome in record time, leaving Monday and back for lunch on Wednesday. I’ll leave it to them to tell the tale in next week’s news. Stay tuned.
So just a little bit of excitement to get us over the hump before we head into October and the cleaning and preparations for handover to the new team.
What a week! And who said winter in Antarctica is boring and monotonous?
Rebecca (Casey Station Leader)