As summer is around the corner, we are in full swing down here at Casey. This week I have had to do some trips up to Wilkins runway which is 80km inland from Casey station. That does not seem too far, but with poor visibility and very poor surface definition (ability to make out the ground) it can take up to five hours each way. We had to go up to help with refuelling the Wilkins aerodrome, which involves towing an 8000 litre fuel trailer behind a Case quad tracked vehicle. While we were there, we also took the opportunity to help with some communications work and mechanical issues.
This year we hope to open the blue ice runway about six weeks earlier than the previous years. It is hoped this will allow us to bring in all our summer personnel via Wilkins, and avoid making use of McMurdo station (USA), which requires us to fly a Hercules that is fitted out with skis to land on the ski landing area which is only 11 kilometres from Casey.
This week we have had some good days up at Wilkins to get the snow clearing on the runway all done. The guys at Wilkins are taking advantage of the nice ‘warm’ weather of −20°C and little wind of five to ten knots. That is warm compared to the weeks beforehand which saw temps below −60°C with wind chill!