Flying to Antarctica

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All packed for the flight. The green bag is carry on luggage. The black bag is all the NZ gear. The suitcase is all my other clothes, and the boots you put on once ready to board.

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Headed over to the International Antarctic Centre.

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Got checked by the US Centre for Disease Control that I don’t have Ebola and then into the departure terminal.

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It seems Mike Moore actually got to open a building during his six weeks as Prime Minister!

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And got this far and then got told our flight had been cancelled due to very strong winds causing turbulence near the bottom of the South Island.

We had been warned this could happen, but it is unusual that it is bad weather conditions in NZ that stop a flight, as opposed to Antarctica.

So we trekked back to the hotel we had checked out of 30 minutes earlier and managed to get our rooms reissued to us for another night. Spent the day in Christchurch and then we tried again the next morning.

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Yes! Today we got to check in and went to the pre-departure lounge where you spend around 45 minutes watching videos. Very different to commercial flights. For example on a Hercules there are no oxygen masks – instead they have oxygen hats or helmets you put over your head.

There were 32 people flying today and the capacity for a Hercules is 30, so they said two people would be bumped to a later flight on the basis of their priority list. I was convinced a blogger would be bottom of the priority list, but didn’t get bumped so went through security screening and then onto the bus.

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The bus takes you from the terminal out to the tarmac.

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And time to board the Hercules. There are other planes that fly to Antarctica but at present the runway is a little slushy so the only planes that go there are the Hercules as they can land on skis.

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The other planes have actual seats. The Hercules is basically a cargo plane and they just make room for a few humans around the side. So it is an eight hour flight on webbing.

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The cargo is in the main body of the plane with you, at the rear.

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Got allowed up to the cockpit.  Great view from there but the glare means you need sunglasses.

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And this is the toilet. Not quite the same level of privacy as on a commercial plane!

The Hercules is very very noisy. You can’t have a conversation over the noise and you wear headphones or earplugs for the entire flight.

I’ll do a separate blog on the views coming in, and the landing.

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