Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Training for winter: Comms and Fuels

I got to spend all morning yesterday getting trained to do the Communications Operator job, primarily focusing on following flights to and from South Pole from McMurdo. None of the Comms operators stay for the winter, so it falls on the shoulders of a few people in the winterover crew to take care of their responsibilities as long as there are still planes flying on the continent. We will work the last LC-130 flight out of Pole for the season, and then will also provide back-up support for flights to and from McMurdo from Christchurch. It was a lot like working the flight operations on SOHO, and by far the most difficult thing is sorting out all the different radio channels you are listening to at once. I had a lot of fun doing it, and look forward to getting more acquainted with the whole process (and making announcements on our PA system). Despite a strong urge to do M*A*S*H-style addresses, I'll be keeping it professional.

In the evening I also attended the first training session for the fuels operations that will have to happen over the winter. We have to take care of running the fuels for the last flight, any flights over the winter (hopefully none), and the first flight or so that come back into Pole in the spring. Over the winter our crew will also have to break down some of the fuels infrastructure and put it into storage until we set it up once again in the spring to start supporting aircraft operations.

I started to get this different vibe which totally screamed "this is winter" during the second training session. It was sinking in that we're on our own and everything that must be done to keep the station running will be done by us few folks, with no physical assistance from the rest of the planet. That's both a bit daunting, but extremely exciting at the same time. I'm definitely doing what I need to be doing in my life right now.

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