Martin Steel

The journey to Antarctica - Part 1

As I write this I’m sitting in Cape Town, South Africa, waiting to fly first to Novo and then to Halley Research Station in Antarctica.

Strictly speaking, I suppose you could say the journey began back in July when I went for an Interview with British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in Cambridge and the following day they were nice enough to offer me the job of Summer ICT Engineer at Halley.

On Monday this week the real journey began, I said goodbye to friends and jumped on a train down to Heathrow Airport to take the first of 3 flights to Halley.

The flights to Halley from Cape Town are operated by a company called ALCI, they operate flights from Cape Town to a number of different countries stations via a blue ice runway just next to the Russian Novolazarevskaya Station in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica (conveniently shortened to Novo). For a flight to go ahead you need a few days of good conditions in both Novo, and the other stations people are flying to and from. To make sure they don’t miss the all important weather windows they get all the passengers down to Cape Town a couple of days early.

The weather in Antarctica has been poor this last week, delaying my flight down by a couple of days. On the plus side this has given me a few days to kill, so I’ve been down to see the penguins at Boulders Beach, visited the Cape of Good Hope and been on a mini safari.

If the weather decides to play ball, I’ll be boarding a Boeing 757 (their normal Ilyushin IL 76 isn’t available) down to Novo early tomorrow morning and then a Basler BT 76 (an upgraded DC3) to Halley.

Expect the odd picture or two to appear once I’ve got the right cables, as I cleverly checked them in for the Antarctic flight a couple of days ago.