Longyearbyen…first rotation launch

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19 September 2007

Last wednesday morning, the good news came out. The first rotation with Tara was going to take place.

Since yesterday, the Twin Otter was waiting on the Longyearbyen airport runway. The tanks had been filled and all the refueling, a total of 340 kg, was well distributed in the cabin. But the weather conditions were not statisfactory. Fog, wind, rain, Troy, the pilot had decided to postpone the take-off.
 
That morning, everybody had woken up at seven. Silently, the ten people around the table with their coffee were awaiting the verdict. Romain, the logistics director first called Grant Redvers, the chief of base. “Hello Grant, what is the weather this morning?”. “Minus eight degrees on the ground” “Right, I’ll put you through to the pilote”. After this short conversation between Grant and Romain, Troy politely carried out a true cross examination.
 
 He isolated himself in a corner of the living room with a notebook “Mornin’ Grant” and Troy reviewed all the weather parameters of the day. Temperature, pressure, wind, visibility, state of the runway… End of the conversation. With one bit of interesting information: Troy had just asked Grant to set up plastic bags to mark out the runway. The weather of the day even offered a fallback position to land on station North in Greenland. In case things got bad on Tara.
 
A last call to the tower and the green light was given. For the five chosen of the day, a scientist, a photographer, two cameramen and a film maker, the count down had started. After several days spent at a rather slow pace, one had to to regain ones’ spirits quickly and forget nothing. Everybody rushed joyfully towards their rooms, each one finishing up their packing in just a few minutes. But with this morning electrochoc, there was a new perspective in view : unless a counter order came out, they would be walking on pack ice three hours later. Some for the first time. At 9H40, the Twin Otter took off.

Vincent Hilaire