Gib Finney’s sequel to THE POWER OF UN
Baby Icebergs
10 June 2008, Finney @ 7:07 pm

[This post written 6/10/08; position: lat -57’49”, long -44’28”; temp 1C; wind chill -13C]

Today was a better day almost all the way around. First, at the science meeting this morning, Paul showed us some video the RC airplane made before it crashed. See above. The plane got some totally awesome pictures of the top of the iceberg as it was flying over. So its last flight was not wasted at all. The scientists got some valuable information from it. Like…the top of this iceberg is way flat, and looks pretty smooth, too.

Another good thing was that Paul told us they have two more planes. I sort of knew there was a second plane, though we have never seen it. But there are also enough spare parts to make a third plane, too. Ash just about jumped for joy when he heard this, and Rainy and I breathed a sigh of relief. Rainy said, “Whew, I was getting worried about Ash, he was so sad,” and I agreed. It was very great to see him smiling again.

Also, we three saw the mysterious comment on yesterday’s post from “Snowball.” This answers some things we were curious about. As Kim was getting the plane ready to fly, we noticed something in his pocket, and later he put the something on the wing of the plane and took a picture of it. Now we know the something was Snowball, a little white cat who seems to be a stuffed animal, but who knows. Strike seems to be a stuffed animal, too, but with unusual powers. Maybe Snowball has them, too. See above. At first, we thought Snowball was going to ride on the plane. This seemed pretty dangerous, and I guess it was. So I’m glad Kim kept him (her) in his pocket instead!

Other exciting stuff: it was foggy and windy, but the wind is coming from the north. I know this does not sound especially exciting, but wait, there’s more. At home, wind from the north is totally bad news, because it’s cold. But everything is backwards down here. In the Antarctic, the north wind is coming from warm places, maybe even from the equator. So we have had warmer temperatures today. So warm, in fact, that big hunks of the iceberg have been breaking off. It’s weird, but when hunks of an iceberg or glacier break off, it’s called “calving,” as in cows having baby calves. I guess this sort of makes sense, especially when you see an iceberg that has just calved, and all these baby icebergs are suddenly in the water.

We have not actually gotten to see the iceberg calve. It happened at least twice today, but when nobody had their camera out. Sometimes, nobody sees it at all. We just see the big waves and the baby icebergs afterwards. First Mate Rachell gave us a talk about being sure to keep all the outside hatches closed in case we get a big wave from the calving. Then we had another emergency lifeboat drill, which is always fun. This time we got to get into the lifeboats again and strap into our seats, which I like a lot because it feels like being a paratrooper getting ready to jump out of a plane.

Tomorrow, more adventures I am sure.


Taps for Orange
10 June 2008, Finney @ 6:32 am

[This post written 6/9/08; position: lat -57’49”, long -44’28”; temp -4C; wind chill -5C]

I am so totally bummed and so deep in mourning that I can hardly write tonight. The cool little radio-controlled plane, the orange one, crashed today. Just when it looked like it was time for a victory loop, too!

Everything seemed to be going great. The engine was doing great. It was all warmed up. Kim guided it through the takeoff, and the takeoff was just perfect. It went up really fast. There was practically no wind, which was why they decided to fly it today. The GPS beacon was loaded into the Nerf football, the controller was inside the Radio-Warm muffin to keep Kim and Steve’s hands warm while they flew the plane. It swooped up off the helodeck and climbed above the iceberg. After that, Steve controlled it with a second control set from up in the ship’s ice tower (more about which on some future, happier day).

Everything was going great. Then, as Steve banked the plane to bring it back over the iceberg, a cable in one of the ailerons snapped and he couldn’t control it anymore. It plummeted into the water, and I mean plummeted. It totally broke to pieces when it hit the water. The engine broke off and sank. The wing broke in half. It was so sad watching them fish the pieces out of the sea. Poor Ash. He has been looking forward to the flight so much and was so jazzed about it it’s almost like he was the one who hit the water. He didn’t even want to eat dinner tonight. Plus, the ROV got lost last night and they haven’t been able to find it yet. It has not been a great day.

On the other hand, we saw a Southern Right whale while we were waiting for the plane to take off! These are very rare, so we’re lucky to have seen one. He came up right beside the ship, just like he was curious. And right near him there was a whole flock of penguins playing around in the water! So we saw real penguins and a real whale today for the first time. Also, Strike hasn’t said a single thing in the past 24 hours. 🙂