When we arrived last Wednesday to the Oden, we realized that while the crew unloaded our luggage, we had a lot of free time, so I and my fellow NPP friends used this time wisely and explored the accessible areas of the ship. I soon found the highest point I could safely climb.
My favorite thing we’ve done so far happened on Saturday afternoon. We had been told about the plans for the day before so the suspense was already building, but we weren’t sure if it would actually happen because of the changing weather and fog … but then we were told to put on our float suits and prepare to ride the helicopter! We had seen the two helicopters the first day, which left us wondering if we were actually going to take a ride in them. The day had come and that question was answered.
The helicopter crew had to prepare, though, so we were left waiting in the storage room down under the landing pad. The sweat was building on our bodies as we sat in room temperature conditions. My middle layers were sticking to my skin so I succumbed and gave my arms a breath of fresh air. A few of us sat in chairs and napped while another lucky few lined up first and were able to ride over before my group.
At some point, it looked like we were finally up, so I donned my clothes once more and waited patiently by the door for an OK. The helicopter and ship crew had the specifics down for when we could move toward the helipad so that we would be safe while entering the cockpit and buckling into our seats. A few long minutes passed before we could move, but once we were out, the deafening beating of the air made by the spinning blades overtook my senses. We removed our hats and set any sunglasses over our eyes so they wouldn’t be lifted off our heads and thrown out to sea. We walked up the stairs and saw one of the machines with its rotor spinning indicating its anticipation of our arrival. Approaching the helicopter and the crewmember standing outside, I reached out with a sailor’s grip and entered the vessel. We had practiced this the day before, so we were all familiar with the procedure.
The purpose of us flying was so we could get to Pond Inlet, an Arctic Inuit community with a population of just about 1600 people, according to the locals. I met an awesome artist named Alex Anaviapik. We met in line for the barbecue that the community had prepared for us. Alex told us about and showed us her art, mostly digital, that she creates. Along with this, Alex is a research mentor for the participants of Ikaarvik, a scientific community present across Nunavut that serves to bring together science values and traditional Inuit values.