The Journey Home

Due to weather making us wait over a week for our flight out from Wasa, with very little work to do, we were all ready and eager to come home. We just had to keep waiting until the weather allowed us to leave. We had been told by ALCI (the flight operator) that they hoped to fly us out on Monday 27th Feb. Though by this time, we’d learned not to get our hopes up until the plane was on its way to us. Yet we still needed to be prepared each time the plane ‘might’ come! So we had a few practise runs before the time eventually came. Thankfully the weather was clear everywhere it needed to be for the Basler to fly and collect us on Monday 27th Feb. We had to prepare the airstrip ready for the plane. This simply involved setting out a line of snow filled bin-bags to give the pilot some perspective, and setting of a smoke signal as the plane approached.

Photo: Setting of the smoke signal as the plane approached so that it was easy for the pilot to see exactly where to land.

Photo: Lidia – the Basler airplane we took for the first leg of the journey home!

Photo: It’s not often that you have to both build, and then dismantle your airstrip! We used snow-filled bin bags spaced 100m apart to provide some perspective for the pilot.

The plane was loaded with all our equipment, while Neil and Jenny dismantled the airstrip (collected the bin-bags) and in no time at all, it was time to say goodbye to Wasa. This raised mixed emotions. Of course we were all eager to get home, however Wasa had become our ‘home away from home’. We had shared such a wonderful time there and it was saddening that our time together there was coming to an end.

Photo: Walking down to the airstrip and saying our final good-bye to Wasa… at least for this time.

We had a very smooth flight to Troll. The Basler cabin is unpressurised, as such we could really feel the effect of being at 3000m altitude. Many of the team slept the entire journey. The rest of us were busy studying and photographing the landscape below. Particularly as we flew over the Borgmassivet – next year’s field area!

Photo: The few team members who didn’t sleep the entire flight were busy checking out next year’s field area – the Borgmassivet.

Photo: From the plane window… it seems the Borgmassivet will be a challenging area to work next year. Thankfully it is not all this steep!

We were very fortunate that there was a flight leaving Troll for Cape Town in the afternoon of Mon 27th Feb. However, we were not all able to take this flight because there was space for only 7 of us. Some of the team very kindly volunteered to wait for the second flight out, and for the last seat it was a case of pulling straws… As we couldn’t all be on the same flight we had to say goodbye to our fellow team-mates. It really felt as though the expedition quickly came to an end at this point. It’s sad to say goodbye to the people you have shared such wonderful experiences with, and been with 24/7 for the best part of 2 months!

I don’t think any of us could have imagined the style in which we left Antarctica. We knew the plane was a Falcon 7X private jet, but it was in complete contrast to the Basler! Watching the jet come in for landing was very impressive; the plane was incredibly quiet!

Photo: The Falcon jet touching down at Troll.

Photo: Three very different airplanes on the Troll airfield. A Twin Otter in the foreground, our trusty Basler parked behind it, and the Falcon jet coming to a stop.

Then we stepped on board…. it was pure luxury and we were a bit like kids in a candy shop.

Photo: An improvement on First Class. The interior of the private jet we flew in to Cape Town. The cabin probably isn’t usually so packed with kit bags…

Photo: Doctor Henrik perfectly sums up how we all felt to be on board such a luxurious aircraft!

Another very smooth flight and we were in Cape Town. In yet another case of complete contrasts, it was a bit of a shock to return to the ‘real world’ full of people, noise, and colours other than differing shades of white and blue. Of course the heat took some getting used to as well! After a day in Cape Town it was time to get home to friends and family… and back to work! [if !supportLineBreakNewLine] [endif]

#WasaStation #Travel #Storm

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