Delayed in New Zealand

Date:  Wednesday, September 30, 2009

We were scheduled to fly from Christchurch to McMurdo Station, Antarctica today, but that didn’t happen.

Yesterday about 120 of us met at the Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) to be fitted for our Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear.  They have a warehouse full of parkas, hats, boots, gloves, base layers, etc.  The ECW gear that is assigned to you depends on where on the continent you work and if you have to work outside.  Being an air traffic controller, I will be working inside and at McMurdo.  This means I won’t be spending long stretches of time outside in extreme temperatures.  So, I wasn’t assigned as much ECW gear as others.

While at the CDC we learned that the flight that was supposed to leave for Antarctica the day before (Tuesday) was cancelled due to bad weather.  There were approximately 120 people on that flight also.  So, those folks were leaving today and our departure date got pushed back.

I should explain a little about the flights from Christchurch to McMurdo.  There is usually only one flight per day.  The plane is typically a C-17, which is a large military cargo plane.  The C-17 has enough fuel to fly all the way to McMurdo (5 plus hours) and return if they can’t land due to weather.  When the plane can’t land, it and returns, they call it a “boomerang flight.”  That is what happened to the flight that left today – they were boomeranged.

What this means to me is another day delay.  The earliest I will be flying to Antarctica will be Friday, October 2 (my Mom’s Birthday), which is 2 days after our initial scheduled departure.  It is pretty likely we will be delayed even more.

Another interesting note:  we watched Monday Night Football live on Tuesday afternoon.  Things are little bit odd being on the opposite side of the world than what I’m used to.

The skies have been too cloudy to see the southern hemisphere stars.  I’m hoping it will be clear tonight.

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