Thursday, January 7, 2010


I made it home in 2009, but only barely, arriving at SFO in the early afternoon of Dec. 31st.

The days of waiting for the C-17 were also days of snow, which was beautiful, but limited our outdoor opportunities. The picture above is actually in color! The snow also caused a 24 hour flight delay, from Dec. 29th to Dec. 30th.

The 30th was sunny, which was doubly fortunate because we had to wait outside while the plane landed and then while they unloaded the incoming cargo and loaded the outgoing. The flight was fairly quiet - there were only about 20 of us. The cargo load was also light - my seat had a view of a large hydraulic jack, used, per the stencil, to raise airplane noses. I'm not sure what it was doing in Antarctica, or why it rated air cargo back.

One nice thing about the wait was that we got to see both the C-17 and a Basler land. A Basler is a re-engined, updated DC-3 - a 60+ year old airframe from a 75 year old design! These are the mid-sized transports, between the smaller "Twin Otters" and the larger LC-130's.

We got back to Christchurch around 8 pm that evening, leaving just enough time for dinner and a nights sleep before catching an 8:40 am flight to Auckland. Unfortunately, there was no time for another visit to the botanical garden.

Auckland was a rough return to civilization. First, there was a 5-hour layover. This was followed by an introduction to post-Dec-25th airport security. After the metal detector and X-ray machines, we were frisked and our carry-on luggage was minutely inspected. Quite a contrast from the -17, where the security check was a reminder not to pack anything sharp in your carry-on luggage.

Now that the trip is over, I will post less frequently to the blog. I have a few more trip-related posts, but, in the longer term I want to talk about how our data analysis is going, what we've learned from ARIANNA, and how it fits into the wider world.