January 6 & 7 (Mon. Tues.)
Trip from Washington to Miami, flight was uneventful, but at the Miami airport, had trouble finding the gate for the LAN Chile flight and walked from D wing to A wing then all the way back to to the E wing. I needed the exercise. On the Miami to Santiago flight (overnight), LAN Chile provides great service but I still could not get much sleep. At the Santiago airport , I was able to change my flight to Punta Arenas from departing at 6 PM to the next flight that departed in the morning. Mark Rawsthorne of A.N.I met Roger Colburne Sr. and Jr. and myselt at the the Punta Arena airport droves us to our hotels. Checked into the Finis Terrae hotel and got caught up on sleep.
Jan 8 (Wed) Punta Arenas
Rachel Shepard came and checked out my clothing and gear. It was OK.
I Walked around town, went to the main square and other streets around it. Also went to an Internet Café to read emails, and send a few.
That evening. I attended the A.N.I. meeting with all people making the trip to South Pole. They gave a slide show of the Antarctica in general, and the Patriot Hills camp. The pilot of the Russian IL-76 discussed the air[plane and flying in the polar regions.
I met some of the people taking the trip. · Were told to be prepared to go on the next day (Thursday). They would call us at our hotels with the
status of the flight.
Jan 9 Thursday
In the morning, A.N.I called with the news that the the runway cross winds are too high for a safe landing. They would provide us an update in the afternoon. Again walked around town, went to the municipal pier were there were a couple of cruise ships docked, then up the hill to the army camp, and the park with the cross. I think I have seen all of Punta Arenas. In the late afternoon, A.N.I. called to say that the winds had not improved, no flight today, they will contact us in the morning. Used the Internet Café to read and send emails.
Jan 10 Friday
A.N.I called in the morning, weather report was that the winds are still too high, but seem to be getting better. Would call in early PM for a further update on the flight status. ANI called in the early PM to say it was a go, and we would be picked up in front of our Hotel at 3 PM.
Rode a bus to the airport with every one on the flight. At the airport, we went through the baggage check for our carry on bags. Then returned to the bus go out to the IL-76.
The IL-76 is a large airplane with a big (wide and high) body, since it is a military transport and cargo plane. Low quality airplane passenger seats were placed at the front of the cargo compartment of the plane. The cargo was placed to the rear behind the seats of the plane. The passengers and cargo were took up only a fraction of the cargo space. The cockpit was two levels, the upper level had the pilot controls and engineers, while on the lower was used by the navigator. There was a crew of twelve (Russians) on board the plane. There were at least two pilots and copilots, in addition to the navigator, radioman, engineer, and cargo loading specialist. We boarded the plane through the rear cargo ramp, after the cargo was placed aboard.
The flight to Patriot Hills took more than four hours. There was plenty of room to walk around the plane, and there were a two portable toilets on board. Only had four porthole windows to view the sights. The A.N.I. staff served sandwiches and chips and drinks during the flight.
I was able to visited to the cockpit about 2 to 3 hours into the flight and saw ice bergs in the ocean, which meant we were getting near Antarctica.
We arrived at Patriot Hills at 9:45 PM, to bright daylight. The whiteness of the place is stunning, only the blue sky, the black rocks of Patriot Hills, and in the distant, the specks of color that are the tents of the camp, provides color. I took pictures of the airplane and camp as I walked in. However I lost these pictures when my card failed, and I had to reformat it. At the dining tent we met the staff and got our tent assignments.
I switched my tent assignment to share a tent with Robert Rodergas and Luis Carulla, since Tim Carlson wanted to share a tent with Hans and Urs. They had been together for more than a week in Punta Arenas.
We have a briefing at 12:30 from Fran Orio. She gave us the plan for going to the Pole. There would be two groups, one group, seven of us, would go to the pole on Saturday, and the other group, consisting of ten people, would go on Sunday.
Our group, first group, consisted of Tim Carlson,, Hans Weiche, Urs Glauber, Cynthia Wolfe, Dick and Molly Byers, and myself. I was originally assigned to second group, however I switched with Luis. Luis wanted to go with the Monsignor Livornio Andreatta who was planning to conduct a mass at the South Pole. Everyone in the second group was Catholic, and also wanted to go with the Monsignor.