Today was my first flight and it was awesome. Everyone on the DC-3 kept commenting on how it was the most perfect day for flying they’d seen in a long time. Not to mention we were able to get the lidar working in flight and the gravity software update appears to have fixed the gravity meter. So on top of the beautiful weather, for the first time in a long while (i.e. before my time), we had all instruments on the plane working at the same time. It was a victory all around. Photos throughout this post.
This evening consisted of a lot of hanging out and slowly getting together a plan for doing a GPS survey of the runway tomorrow to accompany a similar flight survey. Two of us are going to ride on a snowmobile towing a sled with a GPS antenna strapped to it. Getting that mess in order took some time. We had to splice a new cable for the setup, test and retest the GPS receiver to make sure it will work tomorrow. There was also battery charging, bolting the antenna to a pallet, and then strapping the pallet to a sled.
Once that was more or less together, I got a snowmobile lesson since I’m the driver for tomorrow’s adventure. I’m pretty much an expert at these lidar tests, after all. I couldn’t imagine them going on without me. My partner in crime promptly decided he would be the passenger operating the GPS receiver so that he could use me as a wind shield. We’ll see how that works out. Another newbie on the team will be doing a training flight tomorrow so I’ll be in base camp during the day to prepare for the snowmobile survey.
Tonight after my initial lesson on turning the thing on, I took the snowmobile out to the runway with a handheld GPS to get waypoints for the flight tomorrow. Essentially I set a mark at the four corners of the runway. And had a fantastic time doing it. I got all suited up because it’s near 0 F outside. Then I headed out to the runway and opened up the throttle. The speedometer doesn’t work, so I have no idea how fast I was going, but it goes up to 130 mph and I opened it all the way up. I can’t say it felt like 130 mph, but let’s just say that 2 miles of runway went by pretty fast. I would guess I was going more than 60 mph. The kicker is that I couldn’t cover my face that well because it would fog up my sunglasses. Not a good thing when you’re going 60 mph on a snowmobile.
Anyway, today was frigid but pretty awesome. We’re hoping for more good flying weather tomorrow and we’re starting the day at least an hour earlier than we have been. That means I’m still up til 1 or 2 in the morning and get up an hour earlier. It’s a bit grueling, but at least we’re able to fly and get some work done in the meantime. Can’t say I won’t be happy to be back in a real bed in a real building with a hot shower sometime next week.
My time in Antarctica is quickly winding down… only about 12 more days until I’m scheduled to be off the ice.