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November 3, 2005

The new Long Duration Balloon facility at Williams Field, Antarctica


November 3, 2005: The LSU crew had a relatively uneventful and straightforward trip from Baton Rouge to McMurdo this time.  After leaving Baton Rouge on October 26 at 3:20 pm we had no delays in flights through Dallas, Los Angeles, Auckland NZ and finally arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand at about 10:00 am on October 28.  As we crossed the international date line on the flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, October 27, 2005 does not exist in our history.  

As you may already know Christchurch is the staging area for the U.S. Antarctica Program where U.S. Air Force cargo aircraft, such as the C-17 Globemaster, make regular round trips to McMurdo Antarctica carrying passengers, equipment and supplies.  It is also the home of the Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) where everyone going to the ice continent is issued and must be checked out on their Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear.  This is a relatively straight forward process and one of the pictures here shows several members of the ATIC team in their ECW getting ready to board the C-17.  Prior to leaving New Zealand for the ice, we also had a spare day which we used for a day trip to Mt. Cook, the tallest peak in the New Zealand "alps".  

After flying to and from McMurdo several times in C-141 aircraft with their web seating, crowded conditions and bathroom consisting of an oil drum equipped with a shower curtain, the trip in the C-17 was luxurious.  There were only about 30 people on the flight and a seat pack was installed that provided 20 cushioned "airline" seats with about twice the legroom available on a regular commercial flight.  Further, there was ample room to get up, move around the cabin and access the flush toilet lavatory even through 3/4 of the rear of the aircraft was taken up with cargo.  The trip took 5 hours to get to McMurdo, but we needed to burn off another hours worth of fuel in order to lighten the aircraft enough to land on a shortened runway.  We finally arrived in McMurdo at about 3:00 pm on Monday October 31.

That same day we took a quick trip out to the new Long Duration Ballooning (LDB) facility at Williams Field which is shown on the top of this page.  The left most building in the picture is the ATIC payload building and the interior of this high bay building is shown to the immediate right here.  Next to the ATIC payload bay is the bay that CREAM will use this season, followed by the new riggers shop and the telemetry building.  All of these buildings were constructed during the Antarctic winter near Scott base and then pulled on their built-in skis to their present location at Willy.  When we arrived Raytheon construction crews were still swarming all over the building trying to finish them up and we hope to move in and begin ATIC setup within a few days.

Several pictures from our trip to New Zealand and McMurdo as well as some pictures from our first days on the ice can be found in the ATIC-3 Picture Archive.  


Several LSU ATIC team members in their ECW gear getting ready for the flight to McMurdo


View of the spacious, new payload bay at the LDB facility that ATIC will use this season

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