Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Does Anyone Have A Helicopter?

The next morning, after the first “night” of sun shining in my tent, we still had no word on a helicopter. Discussions were taking place as to repairing the compressor in our current ship which could take 2-3 days. In arctic time, that is code for a week plus with weather. There were also satellite phone calls to other helicopter companies to see if we could at least get the rest of our gear and team to camp. Around midday the distant thud-thud-thud was heard as our helicopter approached camp over the hills on the horizon. Fixed? After touching down we learned that dispatch has cleared the pilot to fly limited weight flights with no passengers. Apparently there was a manual in-flight fix to bleed off the compressor allowing flight, however no guarantee for how long or how well this could continue. When a pilot lands and says he heard some clunks in the engine, well that’s not a helicopter you want a ride in anyway.

Limited weight flights? The pilot opened up the cabin which was filled with the food coolers. That’s a move in the right direction. Gradually over the course of the day we had most of the camp supplies arrive by flights that could be contained inside the Bell helicopter cabin. Interestingly enough this also included our 19ft and 14ft Zodiac inflatable boats. Over the course of the next couple days we continued setting up camp, inflating boats, and setting up a filling station with our two compressors and filling SCUBA tanks. I built up the underwater cameras for project and documented the operations as much as possible. Still no word on a helicopter solution. 

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