NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Astrophysics Science Division | Sciences and Exploration

This website is kept for archival purposes only and is no longer updated.

Previous day ----- Main journal page ----- Next day

TIGER in Antarctica, November 12, 2003


Getting on the C-141 Early the next morning I check out of my hotel and take the shuttle to the Antarctic Center. After getting into all my gear (which is required), I and my luggage get weighed. We see a safety video for the Air Force C-141 that we'll be taking down to McMurdo, and go through security and customs. There is even a drug-sniffing dog that checks us and our luggage. I'm standing next to a guy when the dog (a black lab) sits and alerts on his belt. He pulls out a very small baggy and the dog's handler congratulates the dog and gives him a treat for passing the test.

Getting on the C-141

Eric enroute to McMurdo This looks to be an easy flight. There are less than 30 people going down to McMurdo and cargo takes up the rest of the plane. It's not roomy or comfortable, but it's better than my trips two years ago (see Arrival! November 9, 2001). The two aisles of web-and-frame seats are the same, as is the fact that we are all overdressed. But we have a little more room and ability to move around than last time.

Eric in the C-141 enroute to McMurdo

Inside the C-141 There is actually room at the back of the plane because they had to remove a couple of pallets (hopefully not the one with our luggage) because the plane was overweight. We ask if we can go back there and stretch out but we're told we can't without oxygen masks. They only pressurize the part of the cabin that has passengers and there's not enough oxygen back in the cargo area.

The Air Force guys and gals are quite friendly and we do a fair amount of talking on the way down. With this flight is the Major who is in charge of the logistics into McMurdo for the Air Force. She spends some time on the flight studying military history (working towards a promotion), but also talks with us for quite a while.
Inside the C-141

Looking out of the cockpit The few small windows are all back in the (unoxygenated) cargo area, but I get a few pictures taken out the cockpit window. Here is the approach to the continent.

Looking out of the cockpit of the C-141

Looking at Mt. Erebus from the cockpit Here's the plane coming in on the north side of Ross Island (see McMurdo Local Geography ) with Mt. Erebus, the southernmost active volcano on Earth, dominating the scene.

Looking at Mt Erebus from the cockpit as were heading into McMurdo

C-141 after landing on the ice shelf It's a smooth landing, less than 5 hours after leaving Christchurch. We get on a small bus, and then to the Chalet, the main NSF office here at McMurdo. We get a briefing, but most of the newcomers have been here before, so it is a brief briefing.

I get my room assignment. Unfortunately, it is one of the worst rooms on the base. A four-person room with no window, crummy furniture, a lot of traffic, and no convenient TV lounge. Pretty horrible. I'll ask to be moved, but it may be a week or two before that happens. This room is normally left for people who are only spending a few days in McMurdo, but I hear from several people that they've really messed up the room assignments this year. Oh well. At least I'm the first one in the room and grab the best bed.

C-141 after landing on the ice shelf


Dr. Eric R. Christian
Washington, DC 20546 USA
This page was last modified on November 13, 2003