Sunday, January 06, 2013

What's a Boomerang flight?

A Boomerang is a flight that lands right back where it started.

Yesterday we boomeranged, so I'm still in Christchurch. Yesterday we all got the airport and weighed in for our flight, and then began waiting. There's always some significant waiting time, and so by the time we actually boarded the plane, it was 2 hours later. Then after another hour, we took off. After just about an hour's flying time, the crew noticed something wrong with the airplane- nothing that was actually putting us in danger, but in a situation like this, they want the airplane to be in top condition. 

The C-130's flight endurance is about 10 hours, and it's about an 8 hour flight from New Zealand to the Antarctic. Most of that flight is over the Southern ocean. If you do the math, you might figure out that if the weather got bad in McMurdo just before the aircraft arrived, it wouldn't have enough fuel to return to New Zealand, which would be a Bad Thing. So after about 5 hours of flying, the flight reaches a point they call "PSR" or the Point of Safe Return (apparently it used to be known as the Point of No Return, but this frightened people, so they changed it). Usually the news that the flight has passed PSR ripples through the aircraft, since PSR is the last place from which the flight can return to Christchurch.

Ok, too many words. But the silver lining on this cloud is that having an extra day in Christchurch allowed my lost luggage to catch up to me; I finally managed to lay my hands on it this morning. So, we're set to head out again this morning. Fingers crossed!


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