Po­lar pi­lots

Antarc­tica’s unique en­vi­ron­ment throws strong winds, fog, drift­ing snow and many other chal­lenges at pi­lots work­ing for the Bri­tish Antarc­tic Sur­vey

Pilot - - CONTENTS - By: Robin Evans

Bri­tish Antarc­tic Sur­vey pi­lots cope with snow, ice, mov­ing fuel dumps and other chal­lenges

About twice the size of Aus­tralia, Antarc­tica is the largest, high­est and coldest wilder­ness on earth. Cov­ered in ice mil­lions of years old, up to sev­eral kilo­me­tres thick, it rises onto a po­lar plateau ten thou­sand feet high. Moun­tain­ous belts, peak­ing at Mt Vin­son’s 16,050ft, punch through this. The in­te­rior is alive with crevasses and glaciers grind­ing to­wards the coast, and th­ese in turn are hugged by vast, float­ing ice shelves, now show­ing in­creas­ing signs of in­sta­bil­ity. As glaciers re­treat and ice sep­a­rates, to­po­graphic sur­veys are con­stantly up­dated, of­ten from the orig­i­nal sur­veys of the 1960s. In 2017, Mount Hope was re­clas­si­fied as the

high­est point in Bri­tish Antarc­tic Sur­vey ter­ri­tory at 10,654ft− satel­lite data re­vealed it had been un­der­es­ti­mated by al­most 1,000 feet.

Fly­ing over the Antarc­tic surface is a bit like skim­ming over cloud at speed−all white val­leys and peaks stretch­ing forever−but it’s hard not soft. There’s even a word for the un­du­lat­ing forms, sas­trugi. “They’re wind-blown lumps like sand dunes, set like con­crete,” ex­plains Rod Arnold, Head of Air Op­er­a­tions at BAS. Orig­i­nally a bi­ol­o­gist, Arnold has ex­pe­ri­enced fif­teen Antarc­tic sea­sons, which has proved use­ful in his sub­se­quent role man­ag­ing a team of twenty, half of them pi­lots. His ten­ure has seen BAS’S scope broad­ened beyond the po­lar re­gions, and the award of the Honourable Com­pany of Air Pi­lots’ Johnston Tro­phy in 2017 for out­stand­ing air­borne per­for­mance. BAS’S head­quar­ters out­side Cam­bridge is part cut­ting-edge sci­ence hub, part a re­minder of Bri­tish con­tri­bu­tions to a remarkable his­tory at the end of the earth.

Pi­lots can ex­pect around 400 hours and thirty weeks of an­nual de­ploy­ment. Du­ties in­clude all as­pects of air­craft op­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing load­ing, clean­ing and re­fu­elling. Pi­lots must have a CPL/IR or ATPL, with 2,500 hours min­i­mum. A Twin Ot­ter rat­ing, ski time or other spe­cific fly­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is not re­quired. “The background of our pi­lots is very well spread,” says Arnold about the di­ver­sity of his team, “but we do look for a

thread of sin­gle-pi­lot ops within that.” BAS pro­vides survival train­ing, ground­school re­fresh­ers and sim­u­la­tor train­ing. “The sim­u­la­tor adds many use­ful tech­niques: white­out landings and over­weight per­for­mance, for ex­am­ple, to give us a huge level of pre­pared­ness.”

Bri­tish Antarc­tic Ter­ri­tory is wedge-shaped, ra­di­at­ing from the South Pole to 60˚S, be­tween lon­gi­tudes 20-80˚W. It cen­tres on the Antarc­tic Penin­sula, the clos­est point to South Amer­ica, giv­ing an over­lap with Ar­gen­tine and Chilean ter­ri­tory, also in­clud­ing The Falk­lands. Many na­tions make ter­ri­to­rial claims, but th­ese were placed in abeyance by the 1959 Antarc­tic Treaty, which binds all to­gether in sci­en­tific co­ex­is­tence. Arnold sum­marises: “in this sort of en­vi­ron­ment, we don’t turn our backs on each other, it’s about get­ting the job done.”

The in­ter­na­tional sci­en­tific com­mu­nity peaks at around 5,000 dur­ing the Antarc­tic sum­mer be­tween Oc­to­ber and March, af­ter which most peo­ple de­part, leav­ing hardy, over­win­ter­ing per­son­nel. Whilst early ex­plo­ration (see ‘A his­tory...’, p.67) fo­cused on the most ob­vi­ous facets, Antarc­tica now hosts pro­found re­search into its depths. “Antarc­tica holds the key to un­lock­ing se­crets of our past, as well as help­ing pre­dict the fu­ture,” says Arnold. He high­lights its unique sci­en­tific draw: geo­physics, cli­mate sci­ence, oceanog­ra­phy, ge­ol­ogy and as­tron­omy−all de­pen­dent upon air sup­port.

The largest Bri­tish Antarc­tic fa­cil­ity−and the Air Op­er­a­tions hub−is Rothera Re­search Sta­tion, founded in 1974-5, on the western coast of the Antarc­tic Penin­sula. Per­ma­nently oc­cu­pied, Rothera has evolved or­gan­i­cally and is cur­rently be­ing mod­ernised. “To­gether with the com­mis­sion­ing of the soonto-be-launched RRS Sir David At­ten­bor­ough, this rep­re­sents the largest Gov­ern­ment in­vest­ment in po­lar sci­ence in­fra­struc­ture since the 1980s” re­veals Arnold. Con­struc­tion of a new wharf at Rothera is un­der­way to ac­com­mo­date the new ves­sel, which will re­place two ex­ist­ing BAS ships, dis­plac­ing some lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port back onto the Air Op­er­a­tions team.

The 900 me­tre gravel run­way at Rothera serves as a gate­way into Antarc­tica. Arnold ex­plains, “We spray it with sea­wa­ter and the salt crys­tals help bind it to­gether, an es­tab­lished Cana­dian tech­nique.” The pri­mary threats here are strong winds, blow­ing snow or fog-in­duc­ing warmer air ris­ing off the sea. “At Rothera there’s noth­ing up­wind of us. No ma­rine ser­vices or au­to­mated buoys, so the fore­caster is de­pen­dent on models and val­i­da­tion by satel­lite im­ages, as well as ob­ser­va­tions sent in reg­u­larly from field camps−all field per­son­nel are trained in met ob­ser­va­tion. We do get storms track­ing through, par­tic­u­larly around the shoul­der sea­sons that pump snow onto us.”

At the Antarc­tic Penin­sula base, 900km south of Rothera, lies the 1,200m blue ice run­way of Sky-blu, el­e­va­tion 4,700 feet. “It’s a nat­u­ral fea­ture, but any­where blue ice is en­coun­tered you know it’s windy, as the snow is con­tin­u­ally scoured off the surface,” con­tin­ues Arnold. “Sky-blu used to be con­sid­ered deep-field but is now the geo­graphic cen­tre of our field op­er­a­tions; the air­craft have re­ally helped us open up the in­te­rior.” A net­work of un­manned de­pots and tem­po­rary camps with names such as FD83 (Fuel De­pot 83˚S) stretches beyond the Pole. BAS serves this Europe­sized area with four Twin Ot­ters and one Dash-7 to com­ple­ment land-based con­voys. Sor­ties into the con­ti­nent are flight-planned, par­tic­u­larly as the traf­fic fun­nels into cor­ri­dors, all na­tions us­ing com­mon VHF/HF fre­quen­cies. “It’s a small enough team for us to al­ways know where our as­sets are. We know from hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres out that some­one’s com­ing: they’ll want the fore­casts from us and vice versa.”

In 2018, the Twin Ot­ter achieved the mile­stone of fifty years of BAS op­er­a­tions. The Falk­land­sreg­is­tered work­horses are the back­bone of op­er­a­tions, carrying per­son­nel, sup­plies or sci­en­tific equip­ment. A proven as­set and plenty of time spent camp­ing on the ice in­spired its af­fec­tion­ate nick­name, the Twin­nebago.

The Dash reg­u­larly op­er­ates to Stan­ley in the Falk­lands or Punta Are­nas, Chile. This re­quires spe­cial pro­ce­dures: flights may turn back at point-of-no-re­turn (PNR) if con­di­tions de­te­ri­o­rate. De­par­ture and des­ti­na­tion weather re­ports are manda­tory un­til a flight com­mits, the Rothera run­way kept ster­ile once the Dash passes PNR. Mean­while, the Twin Ot­ters are the main­stay of deep-field de­liv­ery and sci­ence, flown sin­gle-pi­lot with a sec­ond crewmember. “It’s re­ally mo­ti­vat­ing for sta­tion staff and the in­de­pen­dent check of a col­league is in­valu­able,” says Arnold.

Op­er­a­tions must be to­tally in­de­pen­dent, sup­plies fer­ried in and all waste re­moved. Fuel is the lifeblood of the Antarc­tic, air­lifted through­out the net­work. “It’s a pyra­mid of fuel, some­thing that crit­i­cally lim­its our lo­gis­tics,” ex­plains Arnold. The Dash is par­tic­u­larly use­ful here, free­ing up the Twin Ot­ters to work else­where. “It takes seven hours fly­ing and six drums of fuel in a Twin Ot­ter to de­liver four drums on­wards to Sky-blu; the Dash-7 can drop six­teen drums twice a day.”

The em­bed­ded value of fuel in­creases the fur­ther it is fer­ried. While cash does not change hands be­tween na­tions, six fuel drums at Rothera might be worth two at a re­mote field lo­ca­tion, the same for team mem­ber berths or spares. Arnold re­veals: “We couldn’t sup­port our pro­gramme with­out that quid pro quo with other op­er­a­tors un­der the aus­pices of the Antarc­tic Treaty.” He notes an en­cour­ag­ing de­vel­op­ment, “The RAF has re­cently started air­drop­ping fuel−a massive short-cir­cuit of our dis­tri­bu­tion plan­ning to fa­cil­i­tate re­mote sci­ence.”

All struc­tures soon dis­ap­pear un­der fresh snow. Fuel de­posits are marked by empty bar­rels on long poles. “The bar­rel acts as a vis­ual marker and will ap­pear on weather radar. We spend a lot of time find­ing and then dig­ging up our fuel!” There’s also a more in­sid­i­ous force−the ice streams that drain the con­ti­nent. “Our fuel is of­ten not quite where we left it. One party found their camp to be mov­ing at two me­tres a day.” In mar­ginal con­di­tions, this could be crit­i­cal. Scott’s 1911-12 po­lar mis­sion poignantly il­lus­trates this. He, Wil­son and Bow­ers died of exposure in a tent on the Ross Ice Shelf where they still lie, slowly com­press­ing down­wards into the ice, mi­grat­ing to­wards the coast. In many decades they will re­turn to the sea in­side a calv­ing ice­berg.

“The work pat­tern and time zone are dic­tated by where the op­er­a­tional sup­port is based, ini­tially our fore­caster at Rothera,” ex­plains Arnold. “If based out of Mc­murdo (the US Sta­tion on the Ross Ice Shelf) or the Pole, we would switch to their time zone and op­er­a­tional sup­port, par­tic­u­larly as their fore­casts would be is­sued in their time zone.” As fieldwork is weather de­pen­dent, teams are per­mit­ted the flex­i­bil­ity to man­age their work­load. Dur­ing con­tin­u­ous mid­sum­mer day­light, work might con­tinue around the clock. Work­ing pat­terns might also be shifted for op­ti­mum tem­per­a­ture, vary­ing from 0˚C at Rothera to -30°C on the plateau, and colder at the Pole. “You can go from work­ing at Sky-blu in full Antarc­tic gear to barely sub-zero in the north,” re­veals Arnold.

The pi­lot’s view

Vicky Auld has ex­pe­ri­enced five Antarc­tic fly­ing sea­sons, ben­e­fit­ting from her pre­vi­ous role as a BAS me­te­o­rol­o­gist. “I orig­i­nally joined BAS be­cause I was keen to con­tinue cli­mate change stud­ies,” she re­calls. She was one of a dozen over­win­ter­ing specialist­s work­ing at Hal­ley Sta­tion, a mod­u­lar lab­o­ra­tory on the Brunt Ice Shelf, cur­rently oc­cu­pied only in sum­mer due to ice in­sta­bil­ity. Her ex­pe­ri­ences of the Twin Ot­ter buddy sys­tem had a sur­pris­ing ef­fect. “Fly­ing wasn’t on my radar un­til one too many co-pi­lot flights.” This prompted a ca­reer change and ini­tial time on the Dash 8-Q400 in the UK be­fore re­join­ing BAS. “I came in with rel­a­tively low hours com­pared to the ex­pe­ri­ence of some of our new re­cruits, but plenty of Antarc­tic field ex­pe­ri­ence, the part that is un­known for most. I feel I am still sup­port­ing an area of sci­ence that is im­por­tant to me.

“To move into sin­gle-pi­lot com­mand of the Twin Ot­ter in the Antarc­tic en­vi­ron­ment was a huge chal­lenge,” says Auld.

“It’s a pyra­mid of fuel that lim­its our lo­gis­tics”

“In the field ev­ery­thing re­quires judge­ment, rather than work­ing to the very spe­cific lim­its of the com­mer­cial world. The per­sonal lim­its you might set for yourself then change as you recog­nise your judge­ment and abil­ity im­prove with ex­pe­ri­ence.” She de­scribes how dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines com­bine in prac­tice. “It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing process get­ting to un­der­stand what the sci­en­tists want, and how we can best achieve it. Our sci­en­tists are of­ten pleas­antly sur­prised to find out how in­ter­ested all the staff are in their projects.”

De­pend­ing on prior ex­pe­ri­ence, it typ­i­cally takes three sea­sons for new pi­lots to com­plete all as­pects of train­ing. The first sea­son cov­ers ba­sic ski work and nav­i­ga­tion, in­clud­ing the first Antarc­tic solo. “No doubt a trip to Fos­sil Bluff, a small fuel de­pot about 1hr 40min south of Rothera” says Vicky, who still con­sid­ers the route a favourite. “On a good day we fly past ice­bergs, seals, whales, glaciers, snowy peaks and stun­ning melt­pools. Mag­i­cal days, es­pe­cially when you share it with a per­son for whom it’s the first time sat up front.” Exposure to deep-field work might come via five- to ten-day trips with ei­ther a line trainer or bud­dy­ing with ex­pe­ri­enced col­leagues.

The sec­ond year builds in op­er­a­tional di­ver­sity: sci­ence sur­veys, low level and moun­tain fly­ing. The third sea­son in­tro­duces the most chal­leng­ing sites, “in­clud­ing those that have never been landed at be­fore, within moun­tains, or on crevassed glaciers that test your de­ci­sion mak­ing to the limit” she ex­plains. “Some flights in­volve larger field camps on flat ice sheets, where ve­hi­cles have of­ten groomed smooth ski­ways for us. There seems a dis­pro­por­tion­ate num­ber of times when the wind isn’t blow­ing down the ski­way, so some­times the de­ci­sion to land off-strip into wind is safer than tak­ing a strong cross­wind on skis.”

She de­scribes the as­sess­ment of un­pre­pared sur­faces, first study­ing satel­lite pic­tures and maps of ice move­ment, then wait­ing for a day of suitable con­trast con­di­tions. Pi­lots will ‘trail’ skis over the surface to as­sess how much snow cover there is. “This dic­tates if we will choose to land on wheels or skis.” The process is sim­i­lar to site se­lec­tion for PPL forced landings: obstacles, surface, slope, slots and sas­trugi. “We fly over and around the in­tended site, of­ten from dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions to get sun an­gles that give the best surface con­trast be­fore you’re happy to trail. We then fly back at low level over our trails look­ing for any crevasses or slots that might have opened up. With ski landings, we choose sites where we can trail skis for an ap­pro­pri­ate dis­tance so that we can land, stop and take off again in our tracks.”

Th­ese tech­niques quickly be­come in­grained. “Lots of dif­fer­en­tial power to as­sist the nose­wheel when steer­ing on the snow, and on land­ing, in the ab­sence of brakes, plenty of re­verse thrust. Al­ways pro­tect the nose­wheel as sur­faces can be very rough with large, hard sas­trugi,” she cau­tions. “Yoke fully back for take­off and im­me­di­ately on touch­down. The Twin­nebago is a very for­giv­ing air­craft to fly. Her dou­ble slot­ted ailerons work in uni­son with the flaps and the wide beta [pro­pel­ler pitch] range gives ex­cel­lent STOL per­for­mance.” There’s an­other, un­ex­pected skill. “Be­ing good with a shovel is es­sen­tial! You will spend hours dig­ging out fuel drums, sci­ence in­stru­ments, tents and ski­doos.”

BAS air­craft are red for vis­i­bil­ity against the ‘flat white’; up­per sur­faces black for ther­mal benefits in the ab­sence of de-ic­ing. Some op­er­a­tors use full skis with­out wheels. Auld de­scribes BAS wheel-skis. “We use the hy­draulics to move the skis up and down around the wheel, with a bucket that slides un­der.” A re­cent G950 cock­pit up­date was stag­gered across sea­sons to con­firm it could with­stand ex­treme tem­per­a­tures. In­ter­nal mod­i­fi­ca­tions al­low rôle flex­i­bil­ity: cargo (dou­ble doors and a strength­ened floor) and

sci­ence (un­der­floor cam­era bay, de­ploy­ing drop­son­des or laser scan­ning).

Two air­craft are fur­ther mod­i­fied. One is rigged for air­borne geo­physics to sense grav­i­ta­tional and magnetic fields. Lasers mea­sure the ice surface, whilst ground­pen­e­trat­ing radar senses the earth be­neath. This al­lows sci­en­tists to visualise the con­ti­nent with­out its icy jacket. Con­cealed be­neath are moun­tains, plains and rivers. Mod­el­ling ice vol­umes en­ables pre­dic­tions of world sea-level rise−ev­i­dence sug­gests this would be 58m if all po­lar ice were to melt. The BAS fleet has flown a to­tal of 593,000km of geo­phys­i­cal sur­veys.

The sec­ond mod­i­fied air­craft holds Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Air­borne Sci­ence In­stru­men­ta­tion (MASIN). A nose-mounted tur­bu­lence probe and wing hard points sup­ply var­i­ous in­stru­ments for sam­pling water vapour, trace aerosols and con­den­sa­tion nu­clei. Un­like ground or space-based meth­ods, only air­craft put sci­en­tists in­side their medium of in­ter­est. Vicky adds: “With an at­mo­spheric sci­ence background, I par­tic­u­larly en­joy at­mo­spheric sur­vey work, in­ves­ti­gat­ing cloud struc­tures, air chem­istry and pol­lu­tion mea­sure­ments.”

Ex­ter­nal nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems are min­i­mal. Rothera has an NDB/DME and a GPS ap­proach, nav­i­ga­tion is oth­er­wise nom­i­nally VFR. Charts dis­play a web of ra­di­als an­no­tated with dis­tance/time/fuel data. Cur­rent pen­guin colonies are marked to avoid over­flight, plus re­port­ing points, au­to­mated weather sta­tions, fuel de­pots, and run­ways are de­picted as blue ice, gravel or groomed snow. Magnetic vari­a­tion ranges be­tween 20-40°. Vicky ex­plains, ‘We work in magnetic in our nor­mal op­er­at­ing area, then move to true for some ar­eas of op­er­a­tions to­wards the magnetic pole and in grid when vis­it­ing other bases or close to the Pole.”

The big­gest daily threat is the weather: BAS has Met Of­fice fore­cast­ers based at Rothera to cover an op­er­at­ing area the size of Europe. “They are ex­tremely com­pe­tent and of­ten ar­rive with prior Antarc­tic ex­pe­ri­ence, but,” she cau­tions “they are analysing out­put from models that have very lim­ited in­put data for our area of the world, which means

Nav­i­ga­tion is nom­i­nally VFR... Magnetic vari­a­tion ranges be­tween 20-400

any fore­cast is likely to be less re­li­able.” This means the daily fly/no-fly de­ci­sion mak­ing process can be de­mand­ing. “Of­ten when the de­ci­sion is to wait and see for an­other four hours you can feel drained be­fore you’ve got air­borne.” This is where the fatigue man­age­ment plan encourages self-aware­ness where mar­ginal con­di­tions, area un­fa­mil­iar­ity, and fatigue levels may in­flu­ence de­ci­sions. Re­as­sur­ingly “our Flight Ops Man­agers al­ways sup­port in­di­vid­ual de­ci­sions not to fly even if flight duty pe­riod would al­low it.”

‘Lay­ing up’ is an­other skill re­quired of pi­lots. A tem­po­rary home in a tra­di­tional cot­ton tent with a primus stove and paraf­fin lamp: BAS sticks to proven meth­ods. Meals might be de­hy­drated ra­tion packs or frozen-down from the near­est base kitchen. “We al­ways have enough food, shel­ter and fuel for a min­i­mum of seven days for each per­son” says Vicky. “If more than three peo­ple are aboard we take an ex­tra tent, pots box and food box.” The air­craft carry two HF ra­dios and two satel­lite phones (one of which can be de­tached from the air­craft) with ex­tra bat­ter­ies and a por­ta­ble so­lar charger.

Even th­ese rugged air­craft may need protecting, de­pend­ing on tem­per­a­tures and what fa­cil­i­ties are avail­able. “If we’re

in the Arc­tic or at the South Pole we of­ten have access to power” she con­tin­ues. Crews use Tan­nis heaters (elec­tric pads shield­ing the bat­ter­ies and en­gine oil ar­eas) and en­gine na­celle blan­kets. “A Twin Ot­ter cold-soaked down to -35°C will start with­out any overnight pro­tec­tion.”

Full en­gi­neer­ing cover is main­tained at Rothera. In the field, BAS op­er­ates un­der a Min­i­mum Equip­ment List that al­lows a prag­matic ap­proach to tech­ni­cal is­sues. Air­craft might dis­patch with some IFR nav­i­ga­tion kit un­ser­vice­able if con­di­tions are con­firmed to re­main VFR for in­stance. “We are al­ways able to call en­gi­neers to dis­cuss prob­lems in the field,” she adds.

When asked what she would never get into an air­craft with­out, her re­sponse is prac­ti­cal. “One du­vet jacket, two pairs of sunglasses, and at least three pairs of gloves.” She sum­marises her ex­pe­ri­ences, “Antarc­tica can be mag­i­cal but al­ways ex­pect the curve­ball.

Rod Arnold sums up: “I think peo­ple imag­ine us as ecow­ar­riors. We’re work­ing with some of the world’s lead­ing sci­en­tific au­thor­i­ties. They pro­vide the data for policy makers to use in fu­ture plan­ning. Many of the state­ments in the in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change (IPCC) re­ports are un­der­pinned by BAS re­search. We’re re­spon­si­ble for lo­gis­tics, but im­mersed in a sci­ence or­gan­i­sa­tion. The sci­ence might want a new in­stru­ment flown next sea­son. It’s not just the sci­en­tist’s prob­lem to worry about how to do that – it’s ours and that’s the em­pow­er­ing thing. It stops be­com­ing about the moun­tains and ice­bergs, amaz­ing though they are. We do it for the mis­sion and the team we’re work­ing with.”

The ul­ti­mate tes­ta­ment to the skill of the pi­lots comes from their in­ter­nal cus­tomers. A note from a sci­en­tist’s blog ob­serves: “The only pi­lot I’ve taken my tent down for in the field be­fore the air­craft landed: the high­est com­pli­ment I could pay an Antarc­tic pi­lot.” It’s a re­minder that BAS deals in fun­da­men­tal survival, both short­term for their per­son­nel and long-term for all of us.

BELOW: em­peror pen­guins on sea ice be­fore the RRS James Clark Ross, named af­ter the great Royal Navy cap­tain and po­lar ex­plorer

ABOVE: field team sort­ing weights be­fore a camp move on the Larsen Ice Shelf, Twin Ot­ter in the background

ABOVE: ‘fuel dig­ging’ at Sky-blu, gen­er­ally a man­ual exercise else­where on the con­ti­nent

BELOW: me­te­o­rol­o­gist turned pro­fes­sional pi­lot Vicky Auld

ABOVE: BAS pi­lot Steve King checks en­gine oil level be­fore a sor­tie from Sky-blu

ABOVE: sport­ing a tur­bu­lence probe, BAS’S Masin-equipped Twin Ot­ter over the Fuchs Ice Pied­mont, Ade­laide Is­land

Giv­ing an idea of its huge size, the BAS op­er­a­tional net­work (right) is laid over a map of Europe and North Africa

Pi­lot Doug Cochran on an aerial pho­tog­ra­phy task over­head Ade­laide Is­land

Be­ing mar­shalled to a halt at the sub­glacial fresh­wa­ter Lake Ellsworth drill site

The Dash-7 touches down at Sky-blu, Pis­ton Bully tracked ve­hi­cle and cargo of ice cores in the background

Fly­ing the flag for the UK in An­tar­tica

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