Originally, Richard was supposed to leave McMurdo on December 18. He was scheduled to fly on an Airbus A319 owned by the Australian Antarctic program, rather than the New York Air National Guard LC-130s that currently provide most of the flights on and off continent. In order to preserve the ice runway out at Pegasus, though, the Airbus flights are scheduled for the middle of the night, when the ice is most frozen. While the LC-130s have skis and take off and land at Pegasus all the time, the Airbus has to have conditions exactly right for it to work. The A319 ended up getting delayed twice, for a total of 48 extra hours on the ice for Richard. This also meant that when Bob's scheduled departure on an LC-130 on the 19th left before Richard, and Richard only narrowly beat Kenichi's regularly scheduled departure on an LC-130 on the 20th. Makoto was also initially scheduled to fly out on the Airbus, but the flight was delayed and he ended up on an LC-130 on the 21st.
Unlike the C-17 we flew in on, the Airbus is a normal passenger plane and actually has windows you can see out of and look at the scenery. Richard got a pretty awesome picture of Mt. Erebus from the air:
This means that the only Super-TIGER people left in McMurdo are JohnE and I. We've been working the McMurdo monitoring shift as usual. Otherwise, life hasn't been too exciting. I walked out to Hut Point on Thursday and Friday because I had heard that someone had seen penguins out there the other day, but didn't have any luck. Saturday I hiked up Observation Hill again because the weather was nice. EBEX had a launch attempt on Friday, but they ended up having to come back in because the weather turned for the worse. It sounds like EBEX and BLAST are both at the point of waiting for an opportunity to launch. Since the two science lectures this week were from the other balloon projects, with Barth Netterfield from BLAST giving the Sunday lecture and Asad Aboobaker from EBEX giving the Wednesday Crary Lab science lecture, I signed up to give the Crary Lab Science Lecture on January 9, just after Sean and Thomas arrive back for recovery.