Each of us in the Communication team works 2 shifts a day in the tower. Today for example I worked the morning shift with Pete and the afternoon shift with Crispin then Callum and Crispin took over for the evening shift and Pete had “second night gash” in the evening.
A typical shift in the tower will involve flight following and base radio communications.
The computer on the left is used for AFTN flight planning. This is where we submit the AFTN flight plan intentions and update departure and arrival times for each flight. Next week we will be changing to the AFPEX web-based flight planning application https://ts1.flightplanningonline.co.uk/ instead of the UDP based installed Copperchase AFTN client software. This will make the client PC easier to administer and eliminate the need for a dedicated established network link through to Swanick NATS centre.
Also on the left side of the desk are our antenna choosers and rotator.
We have 4 HF antennas. A North-South, an East-West, a Rotatable log periodic and an emergency HF. The emergency antenna is connected directly to our batter powered iCOM ic- 78 which we only use during power downs. The other 3 antenna we can switch between our 3 HF transmitters.
The main console of the desk has our 2 skanti HF sets and the marine and aero VHF units.
The right hand side PC we use to pickup weather observations from the internet and
On the right corner of the desk we have our Iridium and Cisco VOIP phones.
This afternoon I helped out on a boat trip to recover one of the sea gliders from South Cove.
There are in fact two science teams here this year using sea gliders. The particular glider I went out to help collect had an acoustic instrument deployed that can detect krill. Another glider is being used to conduct survey missions underneath ice shelves.
The gliders have an internal bladder that can be inflated and deflated to displace water. When the glider bladder is inflated the glider it is buoyant and rises and when the bladder is deflated the glider gradually sinks. The wings and fins allow the glider to move and make progress as it rises and sinks.
The gliders transmit their position back to base via a satellite link.
Throughout the summer Fossil Bluff fuel depot/cottage is manned by 2 people out from Rothera on 2 week stints. This is typically one of the Base General Assistants (GAs) and one other random person from base.
The team at Fossil Bluff do meteorological observations for the incoming aircraft, refuel aircraft and manage the fuel depot. Last week I found my name had come up on the roster. Yipee, Paula (GA) and I would be spending new years at the Bluff.
The twotter flight to the Bluff is a spectacular 1 hour and 40 minutes up the King George Sound and the weather was dingle for my flight.
The first day we scampered up the scree slopes to Giza point for views across the sound. On the second day I clawed my way up the steep and scee-ey slope behind the cottage.
Our baking options were limited by the lack of baking powder and having only a Reflex heater for an oven. So jammy doughnuts seemed to be the best option. Against the odds they were huge success and we sent boxes of doughnuts out to various field parties on flights stopping for fuel at the Bluff.
When the wind was calm and the sunshining the verandah was easily warm enough for a bucket bath and sunbathe.
New Years day was perfect weather and no-flying. The wonderful Paula prepared a picnic lunch on the verandah.
My stay ended all too soon. After a fabulous 10 days with the wonderful Paula I boarded the Twotter flight back to Rothera for a proper shower.