Monthly Archives: January 2015

Communications Tower

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.

Communication Tower
Communication Tower

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 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.

Sea Glider Recovery

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.

Glider wings
Glider wings

The gliders transmit their position back to base via a satellite link.

We used the coordinates transmitted by the glider to find it
We used the coordinates transmitted by the glider to find it
Then manhandled the glider onto a cradle
Then manhandled the glider onto a cradle
Safely back in the Bonner Lab where the acoustics can be retrieved from the instrument
Safely back in the Bonner Lab where the acoustics can be retrieved from the instrument

Bicycles of Rothera

Not sure how they came to be here but Rothera has a few base bicycles. People use them for transport and recreation.

When there is no flying it is possible to tag-out for a recreational bike ride up and down the 1km long runway

Rothera Tagout Board
Rothera Tagout Board
Cycling on the Runway
Cycling on the Runway
Paul the Generator Mech is a regular
Paul the Generator Mech is a regular

The bikes are also used for transport down to the southern stations and occasionally for the short trip across to the hangar.

Rogers Bike Outside Fuchs House
Rogers Bike Outside Fuchs House
Base Bike Kept in the Miracle Span


There are also a few options for indoor cycling.

ridgeback-stationary stationary-bike


New Years at Fossil Bluff

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.

01-vbbloading-fuel 02-layers 03-melt-water

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.

giza 10-fern-fossil 15-seat

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.

19-frying 199-doughnuts 25-doughnut

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.

18-hny 22-isabelle


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.