On Wednesday, July 17th, we embarked on the journey that we all hope will change our lives. I woke up at 3:30am to the sound of my multiple alarms ringing. I showered, packed my last belongings, and headed down to the hotel lobby to board the military shuttle buses waiting for us. After processing time in the military base, we finally got to see and board the C-17, a military cargo plane that is meant not only for transporting people but also for transporting helicopters, boats, etc.
What came next during the flight cemented that this trip would be the trip to change my world view and remind me that I have not yet seen anything this world has to offer: I was able to sit in the cockpit.
After the plane took off, the loadmasters told us we could visit the air-guard pilots in the cockpit. Loadmasters can be juxtaposed to flight attendants, with the exception of their high level of safety training and the holstered firearms they carry with them around on the aircraft. I will never forget the absolute peace and serenity I felt when I visited the pilots, Frank and Matt, in the cockpit. The sky was the palest blue and below the plane was a nearly uniform sheet of clouds.
The pilots were great conversationalists and commended our group for the research we were to conduct in the Arctic.
We exchanged pleasantries and goodbyes with the pilots, and shortly after we landed in at the Thule, Greenland, U.S. Air Force base to begin our expedition. A quick bus ride off the base followed by a short boat ride, revealed our long-awaited home for the next 3 weeks: the icebreaker Oden. She was larger than any of us had expected her to be, and far more comfortable as well.
Once aboard the Oden, we oriented ourselves to the ship, had dinner, and began setting up some of the scientific equipment to be used in the Physical Oceanography theme, my research focus for the next 3 weeks. We stored away our ROV’s, drones, ADCP’s, and other miscellaneous machinery to be used. Afterwards all of the scientists on board spent some time looking at the
stunning icebergs scattered across the water. After we had gotten our fill of these massive pieces of art, we went our separate ways and got ready to sleep. I turned in at 11pm, with the sun still shining high.