After clicking publish last Monday at 3am I decided to check my work email one last time and found a notification that I was to report for flight transport the next morning. Nine of us (including my roommate Amy) lucked into fuel cache duty, which meant flying out to Round Mountain to dig fuel drums out of the snow. After a short weather delay, we caught a van out to Williams Field and boarded the smallest plane I've ever flown on, a Twin Otter.
Over the course of two weeks, our pilots had flown this very aircraft from Alberta, through Central and South America, to the Antarctic Peninsula and South Pole, finally arriving at McMurdo for the Summer season. Our flight was much shorter, only about 35 minutes each way, but it was easily the most beautiful flight I've ever been on. Some of my favorite moments in the last few years have been when I felt the smallest (see here, here, here, here, and here). Flying through the mountains, seeing nothing but more mountains in the distance and knowing that we were less than 100 miles into a continent the size of the lower 48 whose largest settlement we had just left, makes one feel rather small rather quickly.
Before we landed we did a few "low and overs" to check out the landing conditions and Amy and I were sitting in the back of the plane eyeing the vomit bags, but we landed shortly thereafter and spent about 30 minutes at the fuel cache site before a 35 minute return flight.