7.1 Planning for LC-130 Transport to the Field
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
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.
7.2 Preparing for Camp Put-In
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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.
7.3 The Day of the LC-130 Put-In Flight
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!
7.4 In-the-Field Procedures
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.
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.
7.5 Preparating for Camp Pull-Out
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
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]
7.6 Camp Pull-Out via LC-130 Aircraft
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
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!
7.7 Returning to McMurdo Station
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
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
On to Section
8: Field Radios.