Thursday, December 21, 2006

South Pole Air Drop

Wednesday was a historical day for the US Antarctic
Program. A C-17 completed an airdrop of supplies
(mostly baking items for some reason) at the South
Pole. This is momentous because it will someday
change how cargo is sent to the Pole. Right now
all cargo is sent via LC-130 planes that hold a
lot, but nowhere near as much as an LC-130.
Eventually they're talking about building a runway
for the C-17's to land but for now, they can't
so an airdrop was necessary.

The C-17's were flying at only 1200 feet when they
dropped the cargo and nothing was damaged. These
are the same C-17's from McChord Air Force Base
in Washington State that bring us down here and
take us back each year. Because I'm in Air Services,
I'll get to ride in the cockpit during takeoff from
McMurdo when I eventually leave here. That will be
a lot of fun.

When the cargo landed on the Polar Plateau, it created
only a 2 foot hole in the snow which is much less than
is possible. The mission was deemed a success and I'm
sure there are lots of people who are glad it wasn't a
big flop. Otherwise there would have been big craters
with lots of broken crates in them.

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