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The first sunrise over Scott Base heralds the start of flights into Antarctica next week, following four months of total darkness and six months of isolation for New Zealand’s winter-over team on the Ice.
The initial flight of the annual winter programme, known as WINFLY, departs from Christchurch on Monday.
The US Antarctic Program (USAP), which is managed by the National Science Foundation, and Antarctica NZ are long-time partners through a co-operative logistical agreement that provides US Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft in support of the multi-national mission.
The crews and personnel are part of a US Air Force-led joint task force conducting Operation Deep Freeze, which has supported the USAP and Antarctica NZ since 1955.
As such, the flights next week will supply both the New Zealand and US Antarctic stations with scientific equipment and building supplies along with fresh fruit and vegetables, mail and sundries.
They will also deploy key personnel early for the upcoming summer research season, which begins in October.
Scott Base Winter Manager Glenn Powell said the New Zealand winter-over team has had a busy few months focusing on completing the Thomson Building Project.
The kitchen, dining and recreation areas have been renovated and a new lounge has been added.
“The winter team has worked incredibly well together and we’re very proud of the effort put in to this major building project,” Powell said.
“We even finished the project ahead of schedule, so I’m extremely happy.”
Powell said the winter-over team of 20 was looking forward to the arrival of 'freshies' (fresh fruit and vegetables), as well as an influx of new people.
Several Antarctica NZ staff will visit Scott Base during WINFLY week to review work done over winter, plan for upcoming projects and ensure operations are on track for the summer science season.
The biggest project for the 2007-08 season will be ANDRILL, the multi-national geological drilling project involving New Zealand, the United States, Italy and Germany. An advance party of nine people will arrive next week to start setting up the ANDRILL site, based 35 kilometres west of Scott Base on the sea ice.
Antarctic Heritage Trust is also sending a team of two professional conservators, who are specialists in the conservation of cultural materials, to the Ice next week.
They will spend the summer continuing the conservation of artefacts from Ernest Shackleton’s only Antarctic hut.
The four conservators who have wintered over will do a hand-over before flying back to New Zealand next Friday.
Mainbody flights, which mark the start of the summer season, begin on Tuesday 2 October.