Hello everyone, Thank you for your kind attention. This week’s edition features Hercules, icebergs, crushed drums, ice climbing, international visitors, search and rescue (SAR) training, electricians and the little gingerbread man that could.

The Adventures of Hercules

In January this year, Davis station played host to a proof of concept project initiated through the Antarctic Modernisation Taskforce as part of future aviation capability development intended to enhance the AAD’s current ‘Inter’ and ‘Intra’ continental aviation capabilities.

The concept, in this case, was to prove that large wheel ski equipped aircraft can operate to semi-prepared ski landing areas in the height of an Antarctic summer. If successful, this would then allow the AAD to consider including this capability in the support of the Australian Antarctic Programme in the future.

The large wheel ski equipped aircraft used in this proof of concept flight was an LC-130 Hercules.

A similar proof of concept flight had been successfully completed at Casey station last year. This year it was Davis’s turn to put theory into practice up at ‘Woop Woop', the Davis Plateau Ski Landing Area (DPSLA).

Preparations for this proving flight had begun in earnest several weeks earlier with the Davis Air Ground Support Officer (AGSO) team and army surveyors preparing an extended ski landing strip to accommodate the specific landing requirements of the Hercules. They did this in conjunction with their regular aviation duties, at all hours of the day and night and in a range of tough weather conditions.

The window of opportunity for the flight was a period of several weeks where the weather windows at Davis, Casey (the alternate landing site) and the American base at McMurdo — the point of departure of the flight — all had to line up to ensure that the aircraft had acceptable conditions to take off, fly and land in. This involved an extended standby period at Davis and Casey where our communications officers, MET teams, AGSOs and a variety of support staff were up at all hours, maintaining contact with the American’s ‘Raven Ops', ably facilitated by our ‘man at McMurdo', the AAD’s Mr Matt Filipowski. Weather conditions postponed the flight on a number of occassions and by mid January our window of opportunity was nearing its end.

Finally, on the 15th of January the clouds parted and the Hercules, complete with six crew and Matt lumbered into the skies above McMurdo and flew the 5.6 hours to Davis. Up at the DPSLA, our AGSO team were there to greet the aircraft as it finally touched down.

The new arrivals were ferried down to Davis very complementary of the ski landing preparations; finding it ‘firm, smooth and fast'. A testament to the landing conditions being the recommendation of a significant maximum departure weight increase arising from the post-mission debrief.

With the stars and stripes flying down on station, the C130 aircrew enjoyed a warm welcome on station. Taken for a tour by DSL David Brett which ended with a taste testing at the brewery and a hearty dinner.

The following morning they departed with an additional four passengers, Scientists Andrew ‘Clobbs’ D, Stacey D and our two resident army surveyors Tony B and Danny P on board. Lifting off with 19 drums of Davis fuel on board and a departure weight of 130,000 lbs the Hercules took to the skies and headed home to McMurdo. Job done.

And concept proven: that large wheel ski equipped aircraft can operate to semi-prepared ski landing areas at the height of an Antarctic summer.

This achievement is due in no small part to the combined efforts of many staff at Kingston, McMurdo, Casey and Davis. Of the latter, congratulations in particular to our AGSOs, comms operators, diesel mechanics, heli-resources crew, MET staff, station support staff and brewmaster / consummate host, Mr David Brett.

Below some technicals on the flight:

Date of flight
15/16th January 2015 Aircraft and six crew remained overnight at Davis
Cargo McMurdo — Davis
881 lbs (Ice Cap Basler equipment boxes)
Cargo Davis — McMurdo
2082 lbs (4 x AAD pax and personal effects)
Flight time to Davis
5.6 hours
Fuel uplift @ Davis
5000 lbs (19 Drums)
Aircraft departure weight
130K lbs

Sparkies at work

Infrastructure project works are continuing. The electricians have this week taken a step forward with the installation of the gland plate. The gland plate is where the new cables enter the new waste water treatment building.


With all the aviation comes refuelling. With refuelling comes empty drums. Empty drums are dealt with by the drum crusher. This fantastic piece of equipment has a two stage process to wash the drums clean and then crush them. The now flattened drums are stacked in containers to be sent back to Australia to be recycled. This season approximately 500 drums have been crushed.

Via Law to Progress (II)

The imminent departure of the helicopters to Mawson has seen a flurry of activity, as weather permits. This week a group headed out to Law Base for some hut maintenance, about 40 minutes flight away. Law base is in very close proximity to three other countries’ stations — Progress 2 (Russian), Zhongshan (Chinese), and Bharati (Indian).

The group was invited to spend some time visiting Progress, and the invitation was readily accepted. It was a great pleasure to be able to visit another station and see how other programs run. A tour of the station was followed by the chance to take afternoon tea and get to know our Russian counterparts. Too quickly it was time to leave, not after exchanging some gifts and extending the invite to the crew from Progress 2 to come and visit us as soon as they can.

A visit from India

Last Friday at around 1700hs we had a semi-surprise visit from the Indian station Bharati. Along with a dozen or so of the Kamlov’s crew and their resupply ship’s crew we had the pleasure of welcoming a group of Indian engineers, physicists and the Indian station leader Mr Kailash. Also present was the Indian Antarctic Programme Director (logistics), Mr Javed Beg.

During the tour of station infrastructure, they were very complimentary about the facilities in the MET building, Green Store, workshops and MPH. They were particularly impressed with the finish on the WWTF slabs and the site services, as were the Russians on the quality of homebrew and workmanship on the stocks outside the LQ which they put to effective use.

Gifts were exchanged, with Davis station receiving a handcrafted model of the Taj Mahal, exchanged for some high quality locally produced handcrafts, caps, pins and a selection of Australian wines.

Sincere thanks to everyone for warmly welcoming the visitors. Special thanks to Dennis B, Damian T, Scotty W and co, for whipping up some welcome drinks and nibbles in under a minute. Thanks to Brendan H, Ron W, Theo, David B, Dennis and Jan for the tours of their respective areas, and for Seamus L’s extremely generous donation of handcrafted gifts (wrapped by Dr Jan) which were very well received.

The visitors boarded their Kamlov around 1000hs (with a parcel of little envelopes addressed to their station from around the world, courtesy of our post-master Paul) and flew off into the sunset with the best wishes of all assembled.

We look forward to welcoming them back soon.

SAR training

As we are an isolated community, one of the aspects of life down here is that we have to become our own search and rescue (SAR) team. During the week a group of winter expeditioners were taken up to Trajer Ridge for three days of technical SAR training. Led by field training officers Marty B and James H, the group learnt, refreshed, and practiced aspect of SAR access in snowy and icy conditions.

Camping out in polar pyramid tents for two nights, the team covered abseiling, walking and working wearing crampons, ice climbing, stretcher lowers and hauls, and crevasse travel, all under the watchful eye of the FTO’s to make sure we were working safely and effectively.

Iceberg dead ahead

G.B Brendan works out

I am very excited to be filing my first ‘hot out of the oven’ news reports about life here at Davis. Many people have asked me how our expeditioners keep fit while they live in Antarctica. Keeping fit is very important for health and well being and is great for morale. Weather permitting, people can get outside for walking and also cross country skiing at some stations but we are confined to the indoors for a large portion of the year.

Luckily here at Davis we have excellent indoor activity options. Our gymnasium has a large range of cardio and weight training equipment plus a spacious mat area for Pilates, yoga and other exercises. The green store also has a huge indoor climbing wall for those who are good with heights. More sedate options include table tennis, pool and darts (although sometimes they do resemble full contact sports!) With our chefs providing us with such wonderful meals and such tempting treats, thank goodness we can work it off!

Until next time, this is Davis’s roving reporter G.B (Ginger Bread) Brendan signing off.

[DISCLAIMER]: The real sub-sub-editor of Davis Icy News, Brendan H would probably like it known that he has nothing to do with this section of the news and in fact was on SAR training when it happened. Whilst a Xmas gingerbread man remains the property of its namesake, Brendan H is probably not responsible for this one becoming self-aware and self-publishing.