McMurdo, on the way home

(Ok, so I’ve been sitting on this post for nearly a month…)

The rest of the flight from the pole back to McMurdo was uneventful. I spent a good hour staring out the window at the passing mountains underneath – only the top of which poke through the snow and ice. The ice flows are amazing to see from the air. The thought of ‘will I ever see this again?’ can’t help but run though your mind. A unique experience indeed. I looked around for a place to stretch out on top of some of the cargo pallets only to see some feet hanging over the top of the only accessible place. When I looked back up toward the front of the plane, I could see that my “seat” (canvas and web straps hung between aluminum supports dropped down from the side of the plane) had been taken by two people who had sat up in the cockpit during take-off. Not that there is assigned seating by any means, I figured this was a good sign. Perhaps I could get up into the cockpit for the landing? I went and asked the load master if I could go up, but there was already someone up there.

I sat and talked (yelled really) with him for a few minutes. He told me about how as a member of the NY ANG they fly both in Antarctica and in the north in upstate NY and Greenland. He said he often sees the same people on flights in the north that he saw a month earlier leaving the pole. Some people follow summer around the globe, others follow winter it seems. He ended up handing me his business card (it never occurred to me that people in the military would even have business cards) which has a photo of a C-130 landing (or maybe taking off) with quotes around it: “Ski Plane Adventures“, “You call… We Haul“, “50 Below… Good to Go” and “If It’s too Cold… You’re to Old“. On the back is a shot of a C-130 landing at the pole stating the temp of -50° C. If you want to inquire with the NY Air National Guard on “Ski Plane Adventures” let me know, I’ll get you his contact info…

Here’s a shot (and a movie) looking back at the C-130 which took me from the the pole to McMurdo station:

C-130 in McMurdo having arrived from South Pole

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