Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Flooding The Transition

This isn't a current picture, but you'll get the idea.
Every winter, Fleet Ops is tasked with Flooding the
Transition. What is this you ask? Ok...first the
Transition, or it's official name, The VXE-6 Transition.
It's the area where land and sea ice meet and can be very
broken, rough and choppy. That's where Fleet Ops comes
in. Every year, a road is built over the Transition.
Most years it serves as the jumping off point of the
Pegasus Shortcut Road, cutting the trip to Pegasus Field
almost in half. It also goes to the Ice Runway that is
built during WINFLY. However, the Ice Runway won't be
built this year, so it makes the road doubly important
as the main "expressway" to Pegasus. I always wondered
why the Transition had to be flooded. It's in Ice already
after all. So while eating lunch today with Nick who works
in Fleet Ops and is one of the guys flooding the Transition,
I asked him...why? His quick make it smooth.
Simple as that. Kind of like spreading new asphalt onto
a road to make it more drivable. Only in this case, water
is used to "flood" it. After it's flooded, layer after
layer of snow is bulldozed on top of the Ice to give it
thickness. It seems odd to add Ice to a place that is nothing
less than the iciest place on Earth. But that's exactly what
they do. And to do this, they add a million gallons of water.
Yes...a Million...with a big "M". No exaggeration. It seems
like its a waste of water, but it really isn't. We get our
water directly from the sea, where it is processed using
reverse osmosis to make it drinkable. They're just placing
processed sea water back into the sea. All of this to make
a much smoother road...oh I forgot to say...It will melt and
become impassable by slushy pothole. I
guess it's job security for Fleet Ops. Kind of like filling
in the potholes back home every spring.

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