Victoria University Antarctic Research Expedition Science and Logistics Reports 2006-07: VUWAE 51
We used two Bombardier skidoos (SWT 10 and 08) for traversing Whitehall Glacier. These skidoos are easier to drive and to start than the older Alpine II models. However, in soft snow the pulling capacity of the Bombardier is less than that of an Alpine II and at steeper slopes, we had to assist pushing the Nansen sledge manually to avoid the skidoo to be drawn down-slope by the weight of the sledge. Also, in soft snow, a second person had to sit on the front skidoo to enhance traction, which was possible once we radar scanned the area for crevasses. In addition, both skidoos showed signs of fatigue with hairline cracks developing in the chassis of the variator. Overall, the skidoos were reliable and performed well. We are grateful for the in depth discussion with Scott Base mechanics T.Griffith-Jones prior to our field deployment on maintenance and safety issues as well as on necessary adjustments for high elevation deployment. The skidoos were well prepared and fitted with spare parts and we received professional and useful advice during field deployment via radio.
The field deployment with the DC-3 was highly successful, efficient, and a practical alternative to a potential Hercules field deployment. In preparation for field deployment to a new site, we met with the pilots, discussed satellite images and digital elevation models of the site. The crew provided us with aircraft pallets which we pre-packed and plastic wrapped. Total cargo weight of 5,400-5,800 lb for deep field input combined with the large cargo volume makes the DC-3 a very efficient aircraft for medium size field parties. The landing at this new site was smooth and unproblematic. Three flights accommodated the cargo input of almost 15,000 lb. The loading and unloading of the aircraft was fast and relatively easy even for heavy equipment, such as skidoos or fuel drums, with the built in crane system and ramp. We would like to thank the crew for their professional, practical, and friendly approach and attitude.
In the second half of our field deployment, the DC-3 was committed with other field programmes. Instead, the Mario Zuchelli Station based Twin Otter proved also highly efficient in picking up ice core boxes, passengers and remaining cargo. The communication with the crew at Mario Zuchelli Station was at times difficult from the field site because of radio problems on our site, and assistance from Scott Base was much appreciated. We are also grateful for the professional and friendly assistance of staff at Mario Zuchelli Station and the Twin Otter crew
Field deployment to Mt Erebus Saddle was carried out with HNO. Despite difficult weather conditions, the deployment and pickup of cargo and passengers was very professional, efficient, and safe. A total of eight loads were deployed to the site including six sling loads, which were pre-packed under supervision of the flight crew, R.McPhail and R.Fletcher, prior to the scheduled flight day. All sling loads travelled well and high efficiency of the crew and the SB support crew (B.McDavitt and J.Burton) ensured that all cargo was deployed safely and quickly. The extensive regional and local experience of R.McPhail is invaluable. We are grateful for the exceptional support by HNO.