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The aircraft mission - Antarctica's hidden world

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The agencies involved in this exciting project are:

  • United States National Science Foundation (NSF);
  • British Antarctic Survey;
  • German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR);
  • Australian Antarctic Division (AAD);
  • Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration; and the
  • Japanese National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR).
Nine aircraft are involved in this ambitious project. In addition to the two specially equipped science aircraft from UK and US, seven others will support the project by transporting people, fuel, equipment and supplies to both field camps.

Fuel to AGAP South will be moved by air and by overland traverse from where it is currently stockpiled. An overland traverse will head out of South Pole arriving at AGAP South on 10th December. Air drops using a C17 are planned for four dates in November to bring additional fuel to AGAP North.Chief Pilot Alan Meredith

2-3 December 2008: GAMBIT. The BAS twin otter survey aircraft will move to AGAP-North. The survey team will also move to AGAP-North in a BAS support Twin Otter (VPF AZ). The BAS Twin Otter survey aircraft will remain at AGAP-North for 37 days maximum. The goal is to complete 43 survey flights. If weather and field conditions are good flights could take as little as 29 days.

11 December: The USAP aircraft will transfer to AGAP-South to be in place when the early GAMBIT science team arrives.US Twin Otter

17 December 2008: The USAP utility twin otter aircraft begins its deployment of 25 seismic stations for the GAMSEIS project. Of the 25 sites to be visited, 15 stations are to be new installations; 10 existing stations are to be serviced (~3 hrs per station to be serviced). The stations to be serviced actually take more ground time than the “to be installed” stations. This process includes removing the battery data logger box from the ice, brought back for service at AGAP-South and put into another box installed at another site. Sixteen flight days with a double crew are targeted for this effort.

17 December 2008 – 10 January 2009: GAMBIT- USAP Twin Otter aircraft begins flying at AGAP-South. Fifty-four flights are necessary to complete the science program. Assuming a production rate of 1.85 flights per day from the Lake Vostok survey, 39 flights are likely to be completed in the 21 day planned flight operation window. Any option to begin survey flights sooner will facilitate the completion of the science program. The USAP Survey aircraft will conduct flights that require refuelling at a location know as AGO-1 and AGAP-North.

5–10 January 2009: The BAS Survey Twin Otter and team will work from AGAP-South. If fuel is available at AGO-3 the BAS Survey Otter will acquire the geophysical lines over the northern Recovery Lakes at the end of the season. The airframe will transfer back to McMurdo via AGO-1. 

10 January 2009: the USAP Survey aircraft will transfer back to McMurdo where the geophysical equipment will be removed. The aircraft will be released to other projects on 16 January.

16 January 2009: The BAS aircraft will depart McMurdo via Pole for Patriot Hills and Rothera on. The survey team will depart with NSF through New Zealand