Friday, December 11, 2009
The one good thing about the Moore's Bay 'boomerang' was that it let me come along on the recce expedition to look for a site for the internet repeater. We got back to the heliport around 1:30, just in time to be on time for the 2:10 flight to Mt. Discovery. Lunch was two small packages of pretzels - nothing but the best for us.
This time, we went in an AS350 "Astar" Eurocopter. This is a smaller, single engine copter that seats 5(?), including the pilot, in a single cabin. This time, I got to sit up front; there are windows all around, and it definitely felt 'airy.' There was even a window right by my foot:
The switch by my toe controlled the intercom.
We flew for about 30 minutes, following our earlier route (we had passed Mt. Discovery going to/from Moore's Bay.
The top picture shows 8796 foot high Mt. Discovery, taken partway up the side. The photo below, taken looking in the other direction, shows Minna Bluff:
McMurdo station is off the the left, while Moore's Bay is to the right. We were looking for a site with good line-of-sight in both directions. We quickly spotted several possible sites. The first possible site was on top of this rocky point:
To me, it didn't look big enough to land a helicopter on. Pablo (our pilot) made a pass, then decided that, although he could land there now, this feat would not be repeatable if the wind were higher. So, we moved higher up the mountain, and found a larger flat area for a helicopter, with several reasonable points to put a repeater on:
Bill and I got out, and, although intervening clouds prevented us seeing McMurdo, he was able to contact them with a line-of-site VHF repeater. At the same time, we had a view of Moore's Bay. It was quite a bit colder than in McMurdo, and it was surprised how quickly I got out of breath walking around. Still, I was astonished when Bill told me that we were at an altitude of over 5,000 feet. I really hadn't felt us climbing. And, going back, we didn't seem to lose altitude.
A good site found, there was no need for plan B, an alternate possibility on Minna Bluff. The photo below, from our return flight, shows Hut Point, with McMurdo station in the middle, between the two peaks:
And finally, a view of McMurdo, as we came in to land:
We're scheduled to try again for Moore's Bay tomorrow at 9:00 am, so I'll sign off now.
Posted by Spencer Klein at 12:02 AM