February, 2001
updated: March 1, 2001; 07:00 GMT

Summer People Departing on the Last LC-130 Until Late October

(Eating in the Galley ----(that's me - front left)----, January, 2001)

On February 15 South Pole Station officially closed for the winter. That means that after the last LC-130 aircraft left the remaining 50 winterovers are isolated for 8-1/2 months until the first plane of the next season arrives in late October.    (Last summer passengers waiting to leave)       (Last passengers boarding plane)       (last plane out)

We had a fire and trauma drill about a month ago. The Doctor and the trauma team had to go outside the dome and prepare and transport a "victim" back to Biomed in the dome.
      (preparing the "victim")      (Trauma photos courtesy of Dr. Shemenski)       (transporting "victim")        (down the slope to Biomed)
The Doctor also had us perform a drill for a "victim" of altitude sickness. We put him in a portable, hand pumped hyperbaric chamber to "lower" his apparent altitude by raising the pressure in the bag.      (portable hyperbaric chamber)      ("victim" comfortable inside)

Once the station closed there has been much work to do to prepare the station for the cold dark winter. First of all,  aircraft and station JP-8 fuel lines, valves and hoses had to be removed and brought inside,  and all of the approach and aircraft skiway flags had to be removed. The runway flag lines reached out over 2 miles so we took a tracked vehicle called a Sprite. We also experienced a "sundog", which is a colorful complex set of rings around the sun formed by ice crystals in the air. The temperature during flag skiway flag removal was -48 F.
    (last set of aircraft approach flags near Sprite)     (view of the station from several miles out)     (covered in snow at 55 below)    (removing flags)    (sundog at last flag)     (driving the Sprite)       (sundog near dome)     (portion of sundog directly above us)       (next 2 photos by Dr. Shemenski)       retrieving skiway flags      skiway sprite    .

Now that it is getting colder we must dress with more protection against the cold and wind. The temperatures in late February are getting to be in the -60's F. We all must pack our emergency bags that contain clothing we might need in case the station burns down and we are forced to retreat to our emergency tents. Every person has one personal bag which is stored in the emergency Jamesway tent. There is also an emergency power plant, and stocks of emergency food and medical supplies.
  (head gear for temps between about -40F to -60 F)      When the temperatures drop below that and to -100 F additional head gear and clothing will be required.
Robert Schwartz, a former winterover, gives a good description of extreme cold weather gear on his website.  (extreme cold weather gear)

Then bamboo flaglines had to be set every 10 feet to all of the remote locations that we will walk to during the darkness including my antenna field that is 3/4 mile away from the dome.
    (flagline to the dark sector)       (flagline to Atmospheric Research Observatory (ARO))

Some of us toured the inside of the completed portion of the new station. The first 1/4 of the station has been erected and closed ready for winter interior construction. This portion of the station includes the "beer can", the enclosed staircase from the under ice power plant, shops and garage arches to the new elevated station as well as the galley and berthing for 50 people when it is finished next year.

1) under-ice tunnel from "beer can" staircase (about 8 flights of stairs to new station 2nd floor) to the new power plant

2) the dome and skylab through a future galley window of the new station

3) future kitchen and galley

4) inside second floor of new station showing where upper berthing rooms will be. These rooms will each have a window.

5) inside second floor looking from the berthing wing to the future kitchen and galley area.

6) looking out of a rear window at the new power plant arch, old garage, carpentry shop, and the new garage arch.    The smoke can be seen exhausting from the generator number 3 stack.

7) looking toward the clean air sector and the blue ARO building where I walk each day to take care of 2 science projects.

8) looking out a galley window at both the ceremonial and geographic South Poles.   The astronomy dark are in the background one kilometer away.

9) close-up of the ceremonial South Pole ..you can see some of the skiway flags behind the pole

10) close-up of the geographic South Pole.    The line of previous years poles extended, at about 10 meter spacing, into the distance.

11) the dome from a future upper berthing window.

12) the dome from another window.

13) close up of dome out of a galley window.

14) dome and sun and "beer can" stairwell enclosure on the right

15) hypertats and elevated dorm from rear window.

16) close-up of hypertats

17) skiway and TACAN navigation aid structure

for some more excellent links see Bill Spindler's links and web site .

NEXT MONTH..............SUNSET........March 21st