Killing Time Flying To McMurdo – Photo by Dale Mole’

After 10 months at the South Pole it is finally time to head home.  The new medical team (finally!) arrived, turnover completed, and bags packed.  Weather and aircraft mechanical issues delayed our departure for several days…but eventually our LC-130 arrived and approximately 30 “Polies” boarded this wonderful flying machine that would transport us back to friends and family.  It all seemed a bit surreal.  After after hundreds of never ending days, it finally has ended…or at least it is the beginning of the end.  Our route home is usually Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station -> McMurdo Station, Ross Island, Antarctica -> Christchurch, New Zealand -> CONUS (CONtinental United States).  Some are getting rest and relaxation in prior to heading home, while others are flying straight back.  I fall into the former group with time spent in New Zealand, Australia, and Bali…which I will dicuss in future blogs.

Flying Over The Trans-Antarctic Mountains – 5 NOV 2012 – Photo by Dale Mole’

During the long winter months I covered the 840 miles separating South Pole and McMurdo Station on a treadmill, running 4 1/2 miles each day usally at an altitude of over 11,000 feet.  Now we were going to cover the disctance in just about 3 hours.   After almost of year of seeing nothing but flat, white snow and ice, it was spectacular flying over the Trans-Antarcic Mountains, seeing signs of glacial flow, and the broad expanse of the Ross Ice Shelf. 

Our LC-130 Arriving On Ice Runway – McMurdo Station, Ross Island, Antarctica -5 NOV 2012 – Photo by Dale Mole’

After a smooth landing on the “ice runway”, we grabbed our carry-on bags and headed to the waiting “polar limo” for a short ride to “Mac Town.”  So many strange faces…

Antarctic Limo Service Upon Arrival At McMurdo Station – Photo by Dale Mole’

Three people inhabit a berthing room at McMurdo, but since they were fellow Polies it didn’t seem like you were sleeping with strangers.  I had been closer (at least physically) to these people for the last year than any other humans on earth.  The mattress on my bed sank in the middle…making it more like a hammock than a bed.  I guess it is fortunate I am a Salior.  At least no one in the room snored, so I am thankful for this temporary shelter in my onward journey…


8 thoughts on “Departure

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience. Hope you and Susan have a safe and exciting trip on your upcoming itinerary. Looking forward to pictures from Bali and Mt K. That is one of your goals, isn’t it? Fair winds!! Carrole Ronk

  2. Dale,

    So glad you are heading ‘north’. I’m sure your family is looking forward to seeing you in person as are we. Enjoy your R&R!

    Your shipmate,

  3. Dale,
    Fare winds and following seas!
    Congrats on Mission Accomplished, see you and Susen back in DC.
    Regards, Dave and Carla .

    1. Thanks much! It is good to be back! I am finally getting over the jet lag and will start posting again soon. I noticed your “” e-mail address…I have owned a few Spitfires over the years and enjoyed them greatly. Thanks for taking the time to comment and thanks for reading the blog!

      Warm regards,

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