We are ready to fly! Everything is set in the tent to process the data and the instruments we use to collect data are either on the plane or on a pallet and ready to be loaded onto the plane right before the flight. And now we just wait….
We were set to fly our first flight yesterday morning, but were delayed due to mechanical problems. The LC-130, a modified version of the C-130, has skis on the bottom of the plane instead of wheels. One of these had a problem, so we had to wait to fly until they fixed the ski.
Today, we were prepared to fly again but this time the weather got in our way. Up in McMurdo, it is a beautiful sunny day, but down on the ice shelf, the entire area is covered in a thick fog. Visibility was terrible so all flights were grounded.
There was another potential oportunity to fly this evening if the weather cleared but a flight crew member got sick so that flight got cancelled anyway.
As you can see, all lot of things have to come together to get our plane in the air. Weather, mechanical problems, and health issues all have the potential to throw us and other plane missions off track. And then, the back-log of flights due to all the delays can delay us even more. Supply flights to other stations are critical and can therefore a higher priority than our science flights.
So we wait, and keep busy with instrument checks and procedure practice and documentation edits, so that when the times comes to fly, everything ticks along perfectly.