Delayed four days in Christchurch, we were eager and ready for our southbound flight to the ice. All passengers received a brown-bag lunch while boarding the aircraft and are encouraged to eat a large breakfast, prior to boarding, in the event that visibility in McMurdo declines during flight, forcing the pilots to turn back for New Zealand. This potential and dreaded change in course which can transform a five hour trip to ten is referred to as a Boomerang; we did not Boomerang, thankfully. We are required to wear some of our Extreme Cold Weather gear (ECW) onto the aircraft, but once aboard bunny boots are ripped off, parkas (or big reds) unzipped to be draped over shoulders as blankets, and snow pants fall to the floor. Windows are small and sparse in a C-17, the engine so loud conversation becomes strained and difficult; feeling cozy is almost the best one can do. But prior to landing, there is an announcement: cool air will begin flowing through the cabin. The chill compels us to throw our ECW back on and prepares us, as much as cool air in an aircraft can, for whatever weather awaits. Bundled in my ECW, I am thoroughly warm as I step off the plane and onto the blinding, sparkling sheet that is the Ross Ice Shelf.
* Julian Spergel, graduate student at Columbia University, is also blogging about his experiences on the ice with ROSETTA. Check it out here!