They are our swallows at San Capistrano, the newly arrived CPS summer staff. Harbingers of the research season to come, they flock to Summit Station just ahead of the first group of scientists, to assist with final preparations. And they arrived last week during a warm spell.
A warm spell that softened Summit’s long skiway enough to bog an LC-130, Skier 92, on 28 April. After repeated unsuccessful passes down the strip, the New York Air National Guard 109th Airlift Wing's flight crew bunked at the station, along with the phase three winter staff and others who had been trying to depart on the outbound.
CPS staff worked the heavy machines up and down the skiway all night to prepare for the next round on Thursday.
The Air National Guard sent the big guns--or propellers--on Thursday: Skier 93, fitted with special 8-bladed propellers. Skier 92 offloaded all of its passengers and most of its cargo, and after five passes, it finally was able to lift off for Kangerlussuaq. Skier 93 soon followed, loaded with passengers and cargo from the original plane, after only two passes down the skiway. “The eight bladed prop makes an amazing difference,” wrote station manager Ken Jessen.
Read about the NP2000 8-bladed propellers in this field notes blog post.
With planes off the skiway, Summit staff continued preparing the station for spring researchers. Noted polar explorer (University of Colorado) Koni Steffen will stop in during his Twin-Otter-supported maintanence visit to the automated weather station at Summit.