Sunday, October 30, 2011

Vehicles I drive

Another photo of a Delta out on the ice road.
The workhorse of the Shuttle fleet are the Ford 4x4 E350 12 passenger vans.  These V8 powered vans have lift kits and huge tires to navigate the snow and ice roads.  Nice rigs that are fun and easy to drive.

We also have three 4 wheel drive Airporters that will hold 20 passengers. These are often used to carry passengers to and from town to the Ice Runway.  Similar to the vehicles used by rental car companies at many US airports.

Antarctica ex-US Navy Delta

Delta Dawn at the Scott base Transition.

The cab of Delta Dawn.

Delta Tina Marie on the Ice Road.

Delta Tina Marie staged at the Ice Runway ready for passengers.

Delta Dawn at the shop in McMurdo.

These are ex-U S Navy Deltas that we use here in McMurdo.  It is 40' long and articulated with a catepiller diesel engine. It carries 18 passengers in an un-heated box. The cab will hold a driver and two passengers.  The tires are almost six feet in diameter.  These were bulit in Canada in the 1970's & 1980's. We have three passenger Delta's here in McMurdo, Delta Dawn, Tina Marie and Gale.   There are also freight Delta's here.  The best part is I get to drive these monster trucks!  Watch out!

Monday, October 3, 2011


Antarctica – The Dream
Ever since I was a kid and picked up my first book of the continents, and saw Antarctica way down south at the bottom of the world, I’ve dreamed of going there. Antarctica is remote, cold, dry and barren. With so many friends working there (many I know from my time in Alaska) I decided it was time to check it out.  I have accepted a contract position with Raytheon Polar Services to work as a Shuttle Driver at McMurdo Station from October 2011 to February 2012. Raytheon Polar Services Company (RPSC) provides the logistical support for the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) . The USAP is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with the goal of supporting the Antarctic Treaty and furthering scientific research.
Where is McMurdo Station?
McMurdo Station lies on the southern tip of Ross Island, on the shore of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. It is 2,200 miles due south of New Zealand at 77 ° 51 ′ South, 166 ° 40 ′ East.  While the continent of Antarctica is 98% covered with ice, McMurdo Station is built on bare volcanic rock.
Who is at McMurdo?
McMurdo Station is the largest American Base in Antarctica. The population in summer is around 1,200 people with fewer than 200 in winter. McMurdo serves as the logistics base for American operations in Antarctica as well as a science research facility. The station includes an airfield, heliport and harbor, as well as over 100 buildings. While the primary focus of American operations in Antarctica is science, most residents of McMurdo are support staff including cooks, mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, and the like.
What’s The Weather Like?
It’s pretty cold at McMurdo. The average annual temperature is around 2°F, with the average high around 8°F and the average low around -5°F. While I’m there, from October through February, it will be spring and summer. October will be the coldest, with average high temperatures around 4°F, and lows around -10°F. December and January will be the warmest, as it will be summer. Average highs in December are around 31°F and lows around 21°F. Temperatures at McMurdo can rise to 40°F on warm summer days.
Where Will You Live and What Will You Be Doing?
While at McMurdo, I will be living in a dormitory with at least one roommate. Food service is cafeteria style. Housing and food are provided for those working in Antarctica. In the photo above, the four large buildings in the upper left are the dormitories. Below them, toward the center of the photo, is the medical clinic (with the purple/reddish roof). The beige building between the dorms and the clinic is building 155 which houses the cafeteria, offices, etc. I will be transporting people and supplies from the airstrip to various destinations in McMurdo, as well as providing shuttle services within McMurdo. I will be driving a Ford Van, an Airporter van or a Delta.  A Delta is a huge wheeled vehicle made for snow and ice. I will be working 5 twelve-hour shifts or 6 -10 hour shifts per week.  And through the course of my contract, I will work all 3 shifts, a day shift, a swing shift and a night shift.
Why Are You Doing This?
People have asked me if I’m crazy. Maybe I am.  I’ve always wanted to go to Antarctica.  I have been very fortunate to have lived, visited or explored the other six continents, so this will be my seventh and final one.  One more bucket list accomplishment.  But more than that, the chance to see an area of unique beauty and endure a different climate, working with old, and new friends.      I consider myself very lucky. I’m fortunate to have the support of family and friends here at home and be at a place in my life that I can do this. I am excited for the opportunity!