Flights to McMurdo: The C-17

Flights into Antarctica for the U.S. Antarctic Program are conducted by the 13th Air Force’s Operation Deep Freeze, flying C-17 transport planes from Christchurch, NZ to ice landing fields near McMurdo Station.

They’re big.

C-17 offloading a helicopter at Pegasus Field. (Photo: Dominick Dirksen/NSF)
C-17 offloading a helicopter at Pegasus Field. (Photo: Dominick Dirksen/NSF)

Lt. Col. Ed “Hertz” Vaughan blogs about Operation Deep Freeze and a season stationed at McMurdo in Dispatches from Antarctica. Flight to the Ice describes the flight from Christchurch to McMurdo.

Heading south

We’re scheduled to checking wearing our cold weather gear (see pics) at 10:30AM today (Saturday, we’re 4 hours behind California time and one day ahead). It’s about a 5 hr flight in the C-17 plane that will be taking us south — the workhorse transport plane.

Time to get ready to move…

We'll be wearing full cold weather gear when we board the "ice flight" -- might get toasty...
We’ll be wearing full cold weather gear when we board the “ice flight” — might get toasty…

There are a variety of cold weather gear to choose from. What you wear depends on how severe the weather is.
There are a variety of cold weather gear to choose from. What you wear depends on how severe the weather is.

IMG_1018

“ice flight” tomorrow — hopefully!

It’s been a busy few days in Christchurch, NZ getting ready for travel down to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Yesterday we were outfitted with our cold weather gear, which we’ll be wearing when we board the plane for our ice flight — hopefully tomorrow.

Weather conditions at McMurdo determine whether we will be on the ice tomorrow. If the weather turns bad (often wind conditions can become to severe), it’s possible that we’ll be forced to turn around and “boomerang” back to Christchurch.

Still no confirmation that we’ll be heading south…

McMurdo Weather

Current conditions and live webcam at McMurdo are linked on the sidebar at right –>

The team is scheduled to fly from Christchurch to McMurdo 31 October. They only fly when the visibility is good. Forecast looks good!

More detailed conditions can be found on Weather Underground, McMurdo.

October 27, 2014 6:00 PM UTC

Temperature -8° C 18° F
Wind Chill -15° C 5° F
Wind Speed 10 knots