We’re still in McMurdo. We were scheduled to leave this morning, but our flights were delayed 24 hours.
That’s pretty typical. And given the airfield conditions this year, quite expected.
McMurdo operates its flight traffic off of two air strips. One, called Pegasus, can handle large, wheeled aircraft like Airbuses and C-17s. Willy Airfield, however, is small and can only take planes with skis like C-130s. The large planes can travel quickly, making the flight from Christchurch in about 5 hours. The C-130s are slow and take about 8 hours.
Because Pegasus has not frozen up the way it usually does, all C-17 and Airbus flights were cancelled. So, rather than 100 people leaving on one flight per day, those 100 people are being split up into 3 flights of 35 or so on the C-130s. More flights mean more variables and, likely, more delays.
So, now it’s a waiting game.
We were allowed the day to pack up our room and do any last-minute logistical things around town today. We returned our skis, did laundry and cleaned our room.
At 4:30 p.m., we are scheduled to drop our bags off at the transport office. They will weigh everything (including ourselves) and take our checked luggage.
At that point, things should be in line for a Saturday departure.
But, we still have two hours before we drop off our bags. And even when we do, it doesn’t guarantee an on-time departure.
Only time will tell how long our McMurdo journey will last.