A good deal has gone on since the last entry, but I've either been working very hard or having a giggle with my kites, so I've not had much time, or energy, to form the experiences of the last couple of weeks into words. I've mostly been occupied with other people's projects. My work for the summer is to install a couple of servers and some VLF experiments, all of which I can be getting on with once the ship takes the summer away.
I have installed another LPM. This time a less exciting flight to a location only an hour or so from the base, through skies covered with a quilt of clouds. These let through light in all directions and smear out shadows. Taking off in these conditions is easy, especially as Halley comes with a darkened horizon over the ice-free ocean to the North. Landing when you can't quite see the ground is less easy. Armed with knowledge of the site, a gentle glide, and a tiny bit of vision, it's possible for the pilot to fly the plane at the ground without knowing exactly where it is, sure that once they hit the snow they'll know they've landed. We didn't quite have to follow this procedure at M77 as a depot of drums marked our destination and gave us a dark spot to aim for. As I was sat in the back I couldn't see these ahead of us, and the only warning I had of approaching land was the unexpected thump as we touched down our skis.
The site itself was very like A80, but without the majestic mountains ringing the horizon. Not only is the site flat, it's configured so that the LPM is a kilometer away from the fuel depot, so I had a good long walk through soft sticky snow dragging a heavy sledge to the instrument. As the visibility was getting worse I laid out a line of flags so as not to lose my way back to the plane. At the start I was worried that this precaution might be required as I'd lost sight of the instrument shortly after leaving the plane and only spotted it again when I was about half way there. The install went smoothly and I retreated, taking the flags back out as I returned to the plane, ready to fly back to Halley.
Down here we take safety very seriously, and while we can walk about the base by ourselves we rarely leave the confines of the perimeter without another person to raise the alarm if problems occur. Being a twenty minute walk away from anything and everyone else, out in the middle of a white nowhere, felt very alone, and slightly liberating.
Around the station work is cracking on. Small models of the current station and its eventual replacement are being tested to check that the computer simulations of snow accumulation were correct. So far the new design looks like it will perform better than the current brick on stilts while looking a little more like a moonbase. Parallel to this, the garage is receiving an extension and refit ready to be redeployed to the site of the new station. It's also been moved much closer to the Laws platform and now sits firmly in the view from the window of the bar where before there was only whiteness and sky. The reconfiguration of my landscape remains a little confusing, as I often use the buildings as markers for where I am, where I'm going, which way the wind blows when I'm kiting, and where the holes are when I'm skidooing. I'll readjust to the difference soon enough, but there'll be another week or two of falling over and feeling a bit misplaced.
Outside of work the traditional game of football defied custom and ended without injury. After the events of last year I kept well away, but did take a few photos to aid the inevitible FIFA investigation.
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