PRISM logo

Polar Radar for Ice Sheet Measurements

Curved ice line
Jagged line

Home>Virtual PRISM>Daily Journal

Jagged line
  Monday, January 9, 2006

Today started with a bit of a rush, so we apologize for this journal entry being a little late. Several members of the team (Prasad, David, Jennifer, Abdul, and Jerome) were planning to leave WAIS and go to McMurdo on a flight that was to leave WAIS at 5:00 p.m. About 9:00 a.m., we learned that our flight had been cancelled, but that one of the support people at WAIS had gotten quite ill and so they were going to Medevac him back to McMurdo on a flight that was to leave at noon. Since the other flight was not coming in, they allowed four of our team along with some other support people to also go on the Medevac flight. Unfortunately, Abdul was not able to get on the flight. There is a flight tomorrow, so hopefully he will not be held up long. So we had to quickly finish packing and get our baggage out to be palletized. Then we had to do some logistical planning to ensure that the rest of the radar work and packing will be completed.

There has been lots of blowing snow this morning and yesterday, so the air was loaded with ice crystals. When we were done packing, we went outdoors and saw the most beautiful rainbow. It was almost like a column on either side of the sun down to the ground. It was spectacular. David said it was a �halo� with two �sundogs.� Sundogs are paired flat shiny disks on either side of the sun that are caused by the sun�s rays refracting through ice crystals that are oriented horizontally. Sundogs are also sometimes called �parahelia.� A �halo� is also caused by light refracting through cirro-stratus clouds that are composed of ice crystals. They are typically white, so it is somewhat unusual to see a halo with rainbow colors.

We boarded our flight, and that too was interesting. The Medevac crew had set up two stretchers like bunk beds in the front part of the aircraft. Basically, the stretchers were attached to cables. They had also strapped in a huge oxygen cylinder. The upper bunk and one row of seats were used to hold the medical equipment, and they were able to administer an IV, oxygen, and medications, and monitor the patient�s heart, throughout the flight. It really was a lot like the inside of an ambulance.

After the patient was loaded on the plane, the other passengers were allowed to board with their carry-on luggage. The plane went down the runway, but was unable to take off. It tried and failed a second time. The crew came back and had all the passengers except the medical technician and patient move to the back of the plane. They then moved all the baggage further back, saying that they were having trouble lifting the nose of the plane. It seemed like they also added some fuel at this time, though we really couldn�t see out of the airplane windows. Then we tried again. Still not off the ground. So some of the crew hurried to the back end of the plane and came back with shovels. They opened the door and went out and worked on the snow on the runway. Someone on the plane said that sometimes when the skis on the plane get too warm, they stick to the snow and can�t get unstuck. Whatever they did, when they got back on, the plane was able to take off. All the passengers heaved a sigh of relief, because we all wanted to see the patient get to the hospital in McMurdo. Once in the air, we were allowed to move back to our regular seats and everything from there on was excellent.

We arrived in McMurdo around 5:00 p.m. to gorgeous weather and bright sunshine. The sea ice has broken up a lot and a lot more snow seems to have melted off the hills around McMurdo. You could see Mt. Erebus and Mt. Terror very clearly along with Discovery Peak and some of the Royal Society Mountains. It was really gorgeous.

Jerome and Jennifer are staying in McMurdo for a few more days, but David and Prasad are flying out tomorrow. So before they could settle in for the night, they had to do all the preliminary bag weighing and check-in that precede every flight. They call this procedure the �bag drag� because you have to bring all your gear to the flight terminal and let them weigh it on the night before the flight. Jerome and Jennifer picked up their baggage and took it to their dorm rooms. New dorm rooms were assigned to all, so it was time to meet the new roommates, get a bite to eat, take a warm shower (hooray!) and sleep in a bed instead of a sleeping bag.

All in all, the day seemed to work out well. We were much impressed with the dedication of the professionals on the plane and the medical technician in ensuring that their patient got to a hospital.

NOTE: This was the entire journal entry, not just page 1.

PRISM © 2002, 2003 is brought to you by
NSF logo
National Science Foundation University of Kansas
NASA logo
KTEC logo
Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation
University of Kansas logo
University of Kansas