Just before Christmas, I grabbed another opportunity to go flying from Rothera. The plan was to do some test-drops of new air-deployable probes, whilst getting film footage of
them that could be analysed by the scientists involved in the project. If the probes passed the test, they would later be deployed at remote sites across Antarctica, where they would sit and feed data back to the scientists at Rothera over a satellite link.
We got airborne in a pair of Twin Otters. I was in the back of the chase plane, with a startling array of photographic equipment beside me. We flew in formation with the plane deploying the test probes, a few tens of metres behind and to the side of it, well away from the trajectory of the flying objects being launched from it.
Initially we did a couple of circuits around Rothera to make sure that everything was working as planned, and then hit the ‘record’ button and filmed the test drops on the snowy plateau above the bas. My primary concern was keeping the cameras running and pointing in the right place, which isn’t too easy in a small, vibrating plane!
Although the real work was now complete, there was a brief delay before we could land again at Rothera, as the larger Dash-7 was just returning from a resupply flight to the Sky-Blu depot and had priority use of the runway. Happily for us, this meant another few circuits over the clear blue seas and icebergs around Rothera, and also the opportunity for the pilots to do a bit more formation flying as they escorted the Dash-7 in.
We weren’t in the air for very long, but the conditions were incredible for photography. Some of the aerial shots of Rothera give a really good feel for just how small and insignificant the base is, in the grand scheme of things.