Five LC-130 aircraft (ski-equipped Hercules) are used for remote field party put-ins. Each aircraft has a different operating weight. The operating weights can differ as much as 2,000 pounds between aircraft. This fact poses a problem for planning cargo loads for the put-in flight. You will not know until the day of your flight which aircraft you will be flying on and, therefore, what the aircraft operating weight will be. Contact the Fixed-Wing Operations Coordinator for load-planning advice.
Be flexible and be prepared to switch from one put-in flight to two put-in flights. Before put-in, you can incorporate an air drop of fuel and supplies with your aerial reconnaissance (recce) flight to the region. This may reduce your overall weight to a "One Flight Put-In."
To prepare for more than one put-in flight, you must plan to put enough food, fuel, and equipment on the first flight in case the second flight is delayed. There have been cases where a field party waited two weeks for a second flight that was supposed to arrive on the same day as the first flight. Be flexible and develop alternative plans for your field work.
Plan your put-in loads so you can do field work if the second flight is delayed. We suggest that on the first flight you take half of your food, half of your fuel, and half of your snowmobile issue, in addition to your science equipment. This way you can start working in the field if there is a delay in the second flight.
7.2a Aerial Reconnaissance
An aerial reconnaissance (recce) is recommended for many field parties to 1) determine landing site options, 2) select traverse routes, and 3) inspect the area for crevasses.
Airdrops and ski drags are authorized on recce flights. Recce flights are useful for reducing put-in weights. Food and fuel can be air-dropped during the recce at the proposed put-in site or at resupply sites along the route.
Note: Each bundle of food or fuel that is airdropped has approximately 200 pounds of assorted equipment that must be returned to McMurdo (i.e., parachute, straps, cardboard, and plywood).
The recce flight will be conducted at various altitudes down to 200 feet to look for crevasses and other surface hazards. Before the reece flight, coordinate with the Polar Transport Aircraft Commander (PTAC) to ensure that one field-team member is placed on the flight deck and in communication (via headphones) with the pilots during the recce phase of flight to assist in selecting the optimum landing site for put-in. Everyone on the aircraft should use all available windows to look for crevasses along the proposed route or campsite. Sometimes the "focused" view of a porthole will allow the detection of a crevasse that might be overlooked by those on the flight deck with the "big picture."
As for all Antarctic flights, you will need to wear your Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear and carry your emergency bag of spare clothing.
You should consider taking maps, cameras, and binoculars on your recce flight. If aerial photos are desired, contact the Fixed-Wing Operations Coordinator. Please note that mapping quality photography is only available if planned in advance of the field season.
7.2b Flight Schedules
The Fixed-Wing Operations Coordinator develops the daily LC-130 flight schedule, makes daily communications with all LC-130 remote field camps, and is your point-of-contact for any LC-130 questions, schedule changes, and resupply information once in the field.
All schedules and schedule changes must be submitted at least 72 hours in advance.
7.2c Movement Control Center (MCC) Briefing
Schedule a briefing at the MCC. MCC personnel will give you an overview of the cargo system and discuss packaging and documentation of cargo to and from the field, including hazardous materials.
7.2d Equipment Packing
When packing your equipment for LC-130 put-in, you should put essential camp set-up items together and make them easily accessible. The weather may be marginal during your put-in, and it's difficult to unpack and sort through equipment without having some of it blow away.
Make sure all essential life saving equipment is on your first put-in flight. Do not forget radios, sleeping bags, stoves, fuel, matches, food, and tents.
Boxes, triwalls, banding equipment, and pallets are available in the Science Cargo building (Building 73).
7.2e General Cargo
All cargo must be turned over to Science Cargo at least 48 hours prior to the flight.
Science Cargo personnel will help you weigh boxes once they are packed. You must mark each box with its weight and cube. The only items allowed for loose load are snowmobiles and Nansen sleds.
Science Cargo will turn all your cargo (including hazardous) over to the Cargo Park with the proper documentation. The Cargo Park is responsible for palletizing all cargo for LC-130 flights and then turning the cargo over to Strip Cargo. Strip Cargo is responsible for getting cargo onto the proper flight.
7.2f Hazardous Cargo
All hazardous cargo must be packaged and flown in accordance with military regulations. A list of common hazardous cargo is in Appendix A.
Identify all of your hazardous equipment (including science supplies, BFC equipment, and MEC equipment) and turn it over to Science Cargo, where personnel will package all hazardous materials in accordance with military regulations.
7.2g Frozen Food
Frozen food must be packaged and stored in the BFC Food Room freezer until your cargo is turned over to the MCC. Once turned over, the frozen food is stored in the galley freezers. A few hours before your flight, Strip Cargo personnel will transport the frozen food to the aircraft.
If the flight is delayed or canceled, it is wise to ensure that all frozen food is returned to the galley freezer. There have been problems with frozen food thawing because it was left at the airstrip when a flight was delayed or canceled. The system is not flawless -- it's in your best interest to follow up on some things to ensure that they are done. Refer to Section 3.4 for more information.
7.2h Field Operation Communications Center (FOCC) Check-In
Remember to stop at the FOCC to obtain a Frequency Assignment Plan and your radio call sign.
7.2i Radio Briefing
At least two members of your field party should attend the MacElex Electronics Shop (ET Shop) radio briefing. ET Shop personnel will issue your field radios and will instruct you on their use.
7.2j Weather Briefing
At least two members of your field party should attend the briefing at the NSFA Weather Office (located on the 2nd floor of Mac Center, Building 165). Weather Office personnel will provide instruction on making weather observations and about how to relay weather observations to McMurdo. You'll also be issued a meteorological kit, which includes a thermometer, an anemometer, an altimeter, and a cloud identification chart. Refer to Chapter 9: Weather for more information on taking and relaying weather observations.
7.2k Preparation of Flammable Liquid Containers
Empty containers that originally contained fuel must be rinsed with "purging fuel" prior to air shipment. Fill (at least) three 5-gallon jerry cans with "purging fuel." Ask Science Cargo personnel for more information on purging procedures.
7.2l Ski-Way Marker Equipment
Make sure to pack a few extra bamboo poles, flags, and large black garbage bags to use as ski-way markers for your pull-out flight. The flags also help identify wind speed and direction.
7.2m Bag Drag
You'll have a "bag drag" (i.e., a weigh in of field personnel and their baggage to determine aircraft load) at least six hours prior to your flight. Sometimes "bag drag" is the evening prior to an early morning flight. At this time, you must "check in" all your personal gear (i.e., clothes and all personal items you want with you in the field). These checked-in items will stay with the plane in the event of a flight cancellation.
You will be allowed to hand carry one piece of baggage when you board the plane. Make sure to put shoes, clothes, and a toothbrush in your hand carry in case the flight is canceled. In addition, your radios and weather kit must be hand carried. This is to ensure that the radios will be warm and that you can establish communications with McMurdo before the plane leaves you in the field.
1. Check the Flight Schedule.
The flight schedule is posted in the Galley and the Chalet. by about 8:00 p.m. the evening before each flight.
2. Attend the Pre-Flight Briefing.
The Principal Investigator (PI) and/or the most experienced field-team member should attend the pre-flight briefing at the Williams Field passenger terminal or other location prearranged with the aircraft commander. Weather considerations and alternative put-in sites should be discussed. To enhance flexibility, questions such as: "Is it possible to traverse to the work area if put-in at a different location?" may arise.
3. Report to the MCC.
Report to the MCC for transportation to the airstrip two hours before the scheduled departure time.
4. Inspect Your Gear.
Do not assume that all your cargo and flight details have been taken care of. Inspect your snowmobiles -- make sure you have possession of the keys. You must have survival gear: radios, sleeping bags, tents, stoves, and food. Double-check your cargo manifest against what you can visually see on the aircraft. If something is missing, don't be intimidated! Tell the Loadmaster that the Aircraft Commander must stop the flight. The Strip Cargo representatives will need to be advised that equipment is missing.
Movement around the aircraft is directed by the aircraft Loadmaster. Listen and follow his/her directions!
7.4a Camp Put-In Procedures
After the air crew drops you off, and before they can leave you in the field, you must make radio contact with a fixed station: McMurdo, South Pole, Byrd Surface Camp, or a Siple Coast field camp (depending on season). You must also erect a shelter (tent). The most efficient way to do this is to split in two groups. One group will set up a tent (well away from the aircraft and turning area). The second group will set up the radio and antenna (well away from the aircraft) and establish communications.
Establish Communication with a Fixed Station
7.4b Marking Grid North
One member of your party should consult with the aircraft navigator or pilot in order to set the altimeter (in the meteorological kit) and to determine the location of Grid North. Use two bamboo flags to mark Grid North. All heading references given to aircraft and all wind direction information given during scheduled weather reports will be in relation to Grid North. Review the heights and distances of local features (if any) for passing weather information. See Chapter 20: Antarctic Navigation for a discussion of Grid North.
7.4 c Daily Communication with Mac Ops
At a pre-arranged time everyday, you must have radio communication with McMurdo via Mac Ops. Radio communication between some areas of Antarctica and McMurdo is poor. Sometimes it is necessary for field parties to relay between South Pole Station, a major field camp, or another remote field party for daily check-in. See Chapter 8: Field Radios for more detailed information on communications.
You may be required to give weather observations in your daily communications. Be prepared with the proper weather information in the correct order. (Refer to Chapter 9: Weather.) You might also be asked to relay weather information for another field party. If a field party fails to communicate for a period of 72 hours, a Search and Rescue (SAR) effort may be initiated.
7.4d Communications with the Fixed-Wing Operations Coordinator
In addition to your daily check-in with Mac Ops, you have the option to communicate with the Fixed-Wing Operations Coordinator at 9:00 am and 2:00 pm daily. At this time you can pass along information, make resupply requests, request schedule changes, or request camp pull-out times.
7 .5a Pull-out Schedule and Retrograde Advisory
Coordinate your pull-out schedule with the Fixed-Wing Operations Coordinator. When doing this, you'll need to pass information regarding the weight, cube, and type of retrograde cargo you have. Of particular importance is the number of fuel drums (full and partial) for retrograde. Field samples will generally replace the weight of food and fuel that have been consumed.
7.5b Waste Retrograde
Remote deep-field groups must retrograde all waste. This does not include human waste. See Chapter 14: Waste Retrograde for simple methods of waste handling in the field.
7.5c Equipment Staging
Your camp must be entirely broken down; the gear must be staged, palletized, and ready for quick loading when the aircraft arrives. All pallets should be right side up (noted by the red stripe along the edge -- this indicates the top of the pallet), broken free of snow and ice, and ready to be towed by snowmobile to the rear of the aircraft.
Nansen sleds should be loaded only with Scott tents. If you overload the sleds with other gear, they may be damaged when they are off-loaded. Everything except tent(s) and radio(s) should be arranged as shown in the diagram on the following page. Note: Snowmobiles and fuel drums (both full and empty) should be staged in this pile.
7.5d Preparation of Flammable Liquid Containers
All items/containers that contain flammable liquids (with the exception of vented stoves and snowmobiles) must be drained and rinsed with "purging fuel."
Do not rinse or purge stoves -- it ruins them!!!!
* [See figure Wind Chart Pict 2]
7.5e Hazardous Equipment Repackaging
All hazardous equipment should be repackaged similarly to how it was shipped (e.g., matches in foil, 12-V batteries in wooden boxes, etc.). Partially full drums should be tightly capped and tipped on their side to confirm a good seal.
Snowmobiles must have between 1/4 and 1/2 tank of fuel in them for aircraft transport. No more and no less!
7.5f Ski-Way Preparation for the Pull-Out Flight
To help the pilot identify your location in poor surface/horizon conditions, mark the ski-way location with a series of bamboo poles and black trash bags. Make sure you do this before the aircraft arrives! Place a pole and flag at each end of the ski-way location.
Ski-ways are marked with ski-way markers (one on each side) every 500 feet down the length of the 6000-foot ski-way. These markers are made from ventilated garbage bags or gravel sample sacks placed over 6-foot bamboo poles. Two 12-foot bamboo poles with red flags are placed at each end of the ski-way, as shown in the diagram on the following page.
Total Requirements for Ski-Way Markers:
26 trash bags
52 six-foot bamboo poles
4 one-foot bamboo poles with red flags
7.5g Hourly Weather Observations for the Pull-Out Flight
When an aircraft mission(s) to your site is planned, you will be required to begin hourly weather observations six hours prior to the scheduled launch of an aircraft, and continue hourly observations through the landing of the aircraft. See Chapter 9: Weather for more detailed instructions on giving weather observations.
* [See figure Skiway Markers Pict2]
The aircraft will be running during your pick-up. If you are not prepared for an expedient loading, you and/or your gear may be left behind because of fuel considerations.
Loading an LC-130 aircraft in the deep field is a slow and smoky process. The engines will be reduced to tick over, but will still produce enormous blast, kerosene smell, and noise.
7.6a Communication with Incoming Aircraft
It is the responsibility of the person on the radio to pass along all requested information to the incoming aircraft. Know the condition of the ski-way, the current wind conditions, and the altimeter setting. Using a signal mirror can help the aircraft commander tremendously in making a quick approach to your camp.
While on final approach, the aircraft commander will not want to respond to any radio transmissions, but he/she will appreciate short statements pertaining to any changes in weather conditions--particularly wind directions. Be sure to communicate all information pertaining to cargo loading well before arrival, so you don't interfere with the aircraft during final approach.
7.6b Loading the Aircraft
The Loadmaster is responsible for coordinating the loading of the aircraft. One member of your group should approach the Loadmaster (when signaled) for instruction on loading.
Arrange for a visit (via the BFC staff) to the duty loadmaster at the Ice Runway or Williams Field. Spend about an hour to see how the loading system works in the deep field.
Snowmobiles should be driven nose forward onto the aircraft only by those familiar with their operation.
7.6c Last Minute Camp Pull-Out Details
Take down the tent(s) and disassemble the radio(s) and antenna(s).
Retrieve the ski-way markers.
Before take-off, take one last look to make sure you have everything and make sure everyone in your group is on the plane!
After returning to McMurdo, do the following:
1. Return all your field equipment to the appropriate work center.
2. Package and mark cargo that will be retrograded to the U.S. Specific instructions for this process are outlined in the "Instructions for Packaging and Shipping" document which is sent to all grantees prior to the field season.
3. Provide feedback regarding your field support to ASA and NSF. Discuss any problems or recommendations with the responsible work center Supervisor or Manager. This will assist everyone in improving the level of field party support.