Mel Thunderbolt | Week 5 Antarctica – Riding the Wave of Life
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Week 5 Antarctica – Riding the Wave of Life

Just like living life anywhere in the world, here too we ride the wave of life.

The amazing, then the bitterly awful cold, then the amazing again and between is the mundane. The Groundhog days.

There are the days when I question myself and my never ending burning desire for adventure while I think about what’s next after here.

The days I question myself for being here in the first place while I count how many days left on the calendar for the 20th time.

Yesterday was not one of those days.

Then there are days that are so euphoric that the day becomes a moment. A moment in our time lapse of life that will never be forgotten.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Two days ago, our second plane arrived. All the way from Canada.  
A sexy, nimble Twin Otter.

There was great excitement at camp as we welcomed our new Canadian team mates Mike, Don and Andrew.
Cody’s been waiting here for his plane and crew mates for a while now so he was most excited.

I was just finishing cleaning up after making fresh bread for lunch yesterday when Mike, one of the pilots for the Twin Otter, came in and told me they were going for a test flight and asked if I would like to come with.
I definitely think this was Cody’s doing.

I dropped everything, grabbed my GoPro and headed to the plane outside the mess tent.

Just when I thought my day was made, I was told to get into the co-pilots seat in the front. Cody was giving me his seat. Up I climbed.

I was so mesmerized by all the controls while putting on my headset and Mike was talking to me but I was speechless for once. There I was sitting up front with Mike in a Twin Otter, overlooking our Ice Runway, about to take off over our hostile environment in Antarctica.

As the engines started up, I turned around to look back into the plane to see Cody, Jason and Kurt all smiling at me. I had the biggest smile of all.

Moments later we were off, racing across the ice and I held my breath as we lifted effortlessly into the sky.

Oh, the view!

The vastness of it all from above gave a totally new perspective. Our camp, our little village, looked like a tiny spec on the white ice as we flew towards the jagged rocky mountain cliffs in the distance. I pulled my window down while holding tightly onto my GoPro and filmed it all.

We approached the rugged cliff faces and as we weaved through the mountain tops I could see beautiful white snow petrels circling their nests. Then we dipped down low following the contours and the icy ground felt so close.

Looking down from above I could see the many treacherous crevasses covered with a thin layer of snow. They look like ripples in the ice but stepping or driving over one could be game over as the snow layer gives way and down it goes, deep into the ice core. They are scattered all over the place and you don’t know you’ve stepped on one until it’s too late. Just like a landmine. They are all around us.

We started heading back to camp and Mike asked me if I wanted to have a go.

Oh. My. Word.
I pulled back on the yoke and we climbed higher and then I pushed forward as we descended down. It was incredible.

There I was flying a plane in one of the most beautifully remote places on the planet.

We landed back at camp and I was on Cloud 9. I didn’t really care about making dinner and I couldn’t stop smiling for hours.

All I knew was the flying bug had bitten and all I could think about was when I could do it again.


Mel Thunderbolt