Flying to Antarctica
Most of us have flown in a plane, and have a general idea of what it feels like to take off, turn, and land. However, when you must rely on just these feelings to determine what your plane is doing, it’s an entirely different experience! Emma, Sophie, and Lars finally got to board the plane to Antarctica on Friday, after four days of delays. We took an early shuttle to the airport, gathered all our baggage, and donned all the required Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear required for the flight. We would be landing on the coldest continent on earth, and therefore needed to be wearing our “Big Red” parkas, wind pants, boots, hat, gloves, eye protection, and neck warmers.
After checking our bags, we grabbed a quick breakfast and had one last briefing in the large passenger lounge/terminal area. There was a simple security screening process, and then we were loaded into buses for a short drive to our plane. You think you’ve seen a large plane, until you’re staring straight up at a massive C-17 jet – it looked more like a big gray building than a plane! As we were boarding, we received a generous bagged lunch and a water bottle to hold us over. Stepping into the plane was almost like stepping into another world. It was just as big on the inside as it looked on the outside, and there were a variety of seating types. There were normal airplane seats that were palatized in the back and middle of the plane, and there were jump seats all along the sides. The only windows were tiny portholes in the front and rear doors of the plane, so we had to use our other senses to figure out when we took off.
The plane ride was very loud, but luckily, they had provided ear plugs as we got on the plane. The flight was about five hours, and most people spent this time sleeping, reading, or (if the person was Emma) bouncing up and down with excitement for the last hour of the flight. As we started to near our approach, we could take turns looking through the small window to see down to the continent. WOW! It was white everywhere, with some mountains, sea ice, and icebergs scattered around. The pilot told us when we started our descent, but we had no idea how close to the ground we were until we actually touched down.
“Welcome to Antarctica”, the pilot said, and we began the most exciting adventure of our lives!
Written by: Emma Weitzner