The Dome is Home--South Pole history 1975-90

the dome at dedication time
The new station as it appeared at dedication time. This is a U.S. Navy/NSF photo from the USAP
photo library (link to original). Here's a closer view, an NSF photo courtesy Jerry Marty.

Summer 1974-75 

Old Pole is turned over to civilian management from LT Bob Braddock, the last Navy w/o OIC, on 5 November, to begin its final summer of operation.

first flight manifest

Here's a preliminary manifest, sent down to the last Navy crew at Old Pole before the civilians arrived. This message, with many familiar names, was found on the floor of the galley (!) and is now part of the 1977 Pole Souls archives.

The first flight was on 2 November; VXE-6 BUNO 159120 piloted by CDR F. C. Holt. Yes, CAPT E. W. Van Reeth and NSF rep Dave Bresnahan were on board.

100m drill hole completed in front of the science building (21 November). The borehole was marked by a PVC pipe in front of where we parked and plugged in this Trackmaster in 1976-77.

Trackmaster parked in front of the drill hole/science building The new dry coring auger was developed by John Rand and colleagues at CRREL; a University of Nebraska team led by Bob Rutford (with John Rand et al) drilled it north of the science building in 15 hours of actual drilling time. The core is now at SUNY Buffalo; the project was reportedly written up in Science in 1975, but I couldn't find the article. Some of this information I learned from Dr. Rutford when he visited Palmer Station in March 1990 as the U.S. SCAR representative. Here are July/August 1975 Antarctic Journal articles by John Rand and Chester Langway, and scientific data from OSU. Rutford would later lead the RISP project. This 1977-78 photo (taken after I left) is © Thierry Cappelle, used by permission.

H&N puts the finishing touches on the new station.

the station entrance sign

One of these tasks involved putting the famous sign up over the station entrance. Here it is still partially in the box. Wonder when folks first began to think it was grammatically incorrect? In any case, this photo is a bit of deja vu, since the replacement sign was a significant photographic backdrop in the January 2008 dedication of the elevated station. This photo, from Dick Wolak, was actually taken in 1973-74 when the sign was installed. As for the wording of the was not left to a subcontractor...rather it was specified on the NAVFAC design drawings for the domed station. Here is a 1974-75 photo of Dick Wolak under the sign.

VXE-6 airboat makes its appearance in McMurdo.

the first hovercraft

The 20-foot aluminum vehicle was capable of "flying" a few inches above the snow/ ice surface at speeds up to 60 mph. It was tested on trips between the airfields and McMurdo (more information and a news clipping).

dome sliding
Dome sliding became a popular sport even before the new station was formally completed. This activity caused more than one serious injury and was eventually declared off-limits, not that that stopped it (photo from Dan Bolton).

"Last Supper" meal served in the old station galley (1/4)

the last meal in Old Pole
A neat picture from w/o Stu Rawlinson. Notice that nothing on the table resembles what the place looked like more recently.

For last-minute cleanup, aircraft 917 was towed to its present location a few days before dedication (several years previously it had crashed in front of the new station, where it had remained).

moving the 917 wreckage

Here Elena Marty is using brute force to move 917 to its present location...the detached tail was moved separately. Here is the full story of 917, with more pictures of the move.

New station formally dedicated January 9, 1975. Completion of construction was sometime later...(read on)

gift boots

The first civilian station manager of the new station, Richard Wolak (right) receives mementos for the new station (a photo of Amundsen at Pole, and replicas of his boots) from Tore Gjelsvek, director of the Norwegian Polar Institute and SCAR president, during the station dedication (AJ 3/75).

Yes, the dedication ceremony did have an official program:

dedication program title

At left, a portion of the cover page of the souvenir program. This copy happens to be the one saved by Dick's the entire thing, with an extra!

Two C-130s crash at Dome C on January 15, first one is damaged by a JATO bottle, the second is damaged during rescue landing.

CAF (the original) constructed 200'+/- east of the fuel arch. It was buried supposedly for longevity (the concept was that it be modules in wonder arch, but that could not be bought in time).

The other last-minute design change, the annex, built for additional berthing after it was determined that more than 16 people would winter. It was half of original emergency camp which was supposed to be under wonder arch near present site of GCA. Another module of the building had been dropped, and there was not enough wonder arch for it anyway.

Dick Wolak turns off the lights at Old Pole for good (3 February).

bottom of the Holy Stairs entrance

Dick Wolak wrote about this event, and the last summer of operation of the IGY station, in this feature article which appeared in the Fall/Winter 2002 issue of the Polar Times. At left is his January 1975 photo looking up the Holy Stairs towards the vestibule at the top.

Radiosonde tracked to 44,264m (2/1) a record to date. Pressure 1.8mb.

RISP (Ross Ice Shelf Project) completes second field season, preliminary geophysical research, no drilling yet.

Two pet puppies delivered to Pole, a gift from Scott Base.

the last Husky pet at Pole

This did nothing more than stir things up. The dogs, supposedly intended as winter pets, were evacuated after a few days, as you can see by reading the relevant message traffic. AARGH!

Airborne radio-echo survey flights near Vostok detect what would be defined as the 3800 square mile Lake Vostok, with the liquid water surface 13,000 feet below the ice surface.

Winter 1975 

Manager: Dick Wolak; population 17 (list and photos)

First winterover at "New South Pole".

Completion of construction defects occupied much of the winter project list--major efforts to debug generators, fire alarm, all-call, etc., and bring necessities over from old Pole.

Another major winter project-building shelves. There were none in the arches....

Original snow melter did not work, needed temporary replacement.

Appendicitis case treated nonsurgically with medication.

Automatic CO2 discharge in power plant triggers hour-long outage.

NSFA relocates its main operations from Davisville, RI to Port Hueneme, CA.

Summer 1975-76 

The third plane crashed at Dome C; only 3 hercs available, most work at Pole cancelled due to lack of aircraft.

Construction camp not opened.

Snow melter replaced with a more permanent model.

Bar relocated from south end of galley (1976-88 pantry area) to second floor.

the bar in its original location in the back of the galley
Photos of this corner of the galley as it looked during the 1975 winter--before this bar was moved upstairs--are rare. This shot is thanks to w/o Stu Rawlinson. For some reason the design team for the elevated station decided to duplicate this feature--the only bar facility inside the current station is, well, you know.

Zoller site (S-150) operated 3 miles SE of dome with white hut on sled (still around in 2013 as the skua shack) and adjacent temporary generators.

Siple closed because of a hepatitis case.

Winter 1976 

Manager: Dan Morton; population 18 (list and photo)

Additional tables arrive for the galley, now there are enough for all of the winterovers to sit at a table and eat at the same time.

CO2 system in power plant goes off automatically (gremlins, no fire); power off for an hour just like the previous winter.

Urinal installed in the fan room of the bar, hooked up to the hot water.

More shelving in the garage, pp, biomed arch built.

Summer 1976-77 

the dome in 1976-77
Here is Stu Harris' picture of the inside of the dome, with the ubiquitous trash bucket sitting in front of the galley door. Note that in 1976 there is lots of room for a tractor to bring a 10-ton sled in and turn it around. Oh yes, I must say that most of the good photos from 1976-77 got put on the main portion of this web site.

Construction camp #1 head/galley burns down the day after station opening, the largest fire in the history of the US Antarctic program to date. No injuries occurred except for some frostbite, but many personal belongings/wallets/passports were lost. Jump to more information about the original construction camp...

the construction camp galley

Inside the galley, which was bigger and better equipped than the one in the dome. It was to be operated for the summer and construction folks--something that I resisted strongly, but was overruled on. If the place hadn't burned down, the history of summer life at Pole during the dome era might have been considerably different...(1975 NSF photo courtesy Jerry Marty).

Construction camp #2 head/galley jamesways built; two generators moved to create emergency power plant in former construction garage; cable laid to allow power feed to/from emergency power plant; backfeed into station and main power plant demonstrated successfully.

12V lead-acid D-8 battery recovered from the snow melter after the water started tasting funny--major water system cleaning conducted.

First official USGS survey marker placed at Geographic Pole (16 November).

Bicentennial Pole marker
Something the USGS folks brought with them to commemorate the Bicentennial as well as the visit of the USGS topographic division director (rest of the story). Oh yes, it disappeared in 2 days.

This was NOT the first survey marker... before this, the US Coast and Geodetic Survey had primary jurisdiction, and they placed one in 1959. Old Pole USGS folks put out at least one more. Of course all of these disappeared as well.

Japanese science team visits Pole (December).

Japanese scientists at Pole I don't remember this...perhaps it was a short visit on a turnaround flight. But from the sun angle it was not at night. From left: Dr. Katsutada Kaminuma (geophysics, seismology; professor at NIPR), our SSL Tadashi Yogi, Dr. Takeshi Nagata (geophysics, geomagnetism; director of NIPR), and Dr. Tetsuya Torii (geochemistry; professor at Chiba Institute of Technology). They're at the Pole where our marker (above photo) had been. Dr. Nagata was the leader of early JARE expeditions which established Syowa Station in January 1957. In 1976-77 Drs. Torii and Kaminuma were part of the first successful meteorite search in Victoria Land. Dr. Torii was a discoverer of the mineral Antarcticite (Wikipedia reference) in the Dry Valleys in 1965. The visitors presented me with a Japanese doll as a gift to the Pole station.

New stick-built elevated clean air facility constructed; NOAA equipment moved out of the old facility upwind of the fuel arch. It was buried 20 feet below the snow surface.

the new Clean Air building

Here, folks are putting the finishing touches on NOAA's new 56x24 foot Clean Air Facility, which was completed from scratch in about 2 months, thanks to double-shift work and excellent management by superintendent Pat Haggerty. Since 1974-75, NOAA had occupied a facility constructed from large packing crates buried 20 feet below the snow surface, upwind of the fuel arch.

This structure was designed to be jacked up in the future, but as engineer Frank Brier had explained to me earlier in the Anaheim office, the method of jacking it up was not included in the design. Here's an earlier photo of the upwind side of the building under construction, from the October 1977 Antarctic Journal.

Cosray platforms set up, cosray lab put in skylab "coatroom" (2nd floor).

setting up the cosray lab
When Marty Pomerantz showed up with his equipment, no one had determined where to put it, so that was up to Stu Harris (the w/o cosray person, at left) and myself. And the platform for the detectors was missing, until Stu found it while wandering around the McMurdo cargo yard (more information).

First half of weight room (metal building) built.

The first "ice cube" is built in the garage arch in front of the garage doors.

New freshie shack built (not the present one, built later (?).

UCLA wood hut built behind science building for gravity "earth tides studies, to replace the nonmagnetic hut which was needed for Alex Zaitsev's geomagnetic studies. His hut was buried between skylab and fuel arch for Russian scientist.

Station equipment fleet: 1 D8, 1 D4, 4 955's, 1 Thiokol trackmaster, one skidoo.

Balloon inflation tower (BIT) platform extended.

Pole balloon launch in 1980

The added cantilevered platform section is clearly visible here in this 1980 photo from Mike Savage.

Vendor mechanic from GG&H arrives for the first top overhaul of the power plant generators.

Qantas runs first Antarctic tourist flight over the Antarctic Coast from Sydney in January...fare was 187.

Mammoth Mountain Inn (MMI) completed in McMurdo.

Mammoth Mountain Inn

The building was ready for occupancy in October 1976; I was one of the early occupants when I returned for R&R in January...and finishing work was still going on. The building was needed to house the increasing numbers of science and contractor personnel (photo from the H&N report in the October 1977 Antarctic Journal.)

RISP fails to drill through the Ross Ice Shelf... although other aspects of the project proved successful. Team members included folks from CRREL (John Rand and Tony Gow), Nebraska (John Clough, Karl Kuivinen), and Wisconsin; support included a Twin Otter chartered from Bradley Air Services and piloted by Giles Kershaw.

RADM George J. Dufek, commander of the Naval Support Force Antarctica during the IGY era, dies (2/10).

Winter 1977 

Manager: Bill Spindler; population 21 (list and photo)

Old South Pole station is sealed or so it was reported in the Antarctic Journal. Not really, actually nothing happened.

First w/o electrician; shelving is constructed in helium arch for heavy electrical supplies.

Operating theater built in Biomed (back room with green tile on the walls).

Installed phone cable to CAF (plastic insulated) at -45F temperature (one pair was still in service for fire alarm in January 1990).

Installed oil furnace in the BIT.

Installed electric heat in second floor of Skylab (cosray).

Installed first of several A-frame hoists in garage.

Second Pole winter appendicitis case, treated without surgery.

Pan Am Flight 50, the 747SP "New Horizons" (N533PA), makes record-setting round-the-world over-the-poles flight (28-31 October) to mark the 50th anniversary of the airline.

Pan Am flight over Pole It started in San Francisco, flew north first and refueled at London and Cape Town, and passed over us before heading to Auckland and back to SFO in 54 hours 7 minutes (the record would stand until November 2008). There were celebrity passengers including Miss USA, Miss England, and Miss Universe. And 18-year-old Brian Baum (his archived story). Documentation: the photo at left taken by comms guy Jerry Gastil at Pole as he was talking to the aircraft on radio. And there's also this YouTube video, which depicts the celebrity passengers and the stopovers, but doesn't get the view over the South Pole quite right. This was NOT the first civilian passenger round-the-world flight over Pole...that was Pole Cat in November 1966. Another, 2 years later, was the Polar Byrd I flight in November 1968.

Summer 1977-78 

Gary Rosenberger (NOAA/GMCC 77 w/o tech) killed in motorcycle accident near Queenstown, NZ.

2 941B's shipped to Pole replacing retrograded 955's.

Zoller remote aerosol sampling project moved into CAF.

D-4 falls through the roof of the garage at Old Pole, major rebuild required.

D4 falls into the buried Old Pole garage

No, neither I or Kevin Bisset know what operator Warren Lincoln was doing over there. And I have no idea how they got the D4 out. But it was back at work in a few weeks, although (per Kevin) neither Warren nor the D4 were ever quite the same afterwards. Here's another view (photos from Kevin Bisset).

SATTRACK moved from east end of comms into the science building.

Ross Ice Shelf Project (RISP) "holes through" 1375'-thick ice in 10 hours using rocket-like hot gas drill.

Winter 1978 

Manager: Mike Pavlak; population 22 (list and photo)

First suspicions arise that the original sewer outfall is settling.

First winter with videocassettes (not many).

McMurdo's "Chapel of the Snows," built in 1956, destroyed in a spectacular fire (8/22) (more info and photos).

Summer 1978-79 

Dr. Harold Muchmore
A familiar scene in the mid to late 70's--Dr. Harold Muchmore and his team would show up on the first flights to check the bodily fluids of the w/o's (U.S. Navy photo by David Thompson from the Antarctic Journal, September 1979). According to the caption, Dr. Muchmore is drawing a blood sample from 1978 USGS w/o Gary Foltz at the end of his winter.

Surveys confirm that the dome is settling towards the sewer outfall (which also the side of the heavy downwind snowdrift).

High temperature record set on 27 December: -13.6C/+7.5F (this record was broken on 25 December 2011) the previous record was -15C/+5F in January 1958.

New power feeds are run to GCA (dug by ditch witch) and to CAF; 75 and 150 kva transformers in power plant arch are moved.

Support columns in comms and met (bent brace) are installed.

Wall is built to separate stair area from cosray lab in skylab.

Installed a replacement oil furnace in BIT.

The freshie shack is not big enough, it is replaced with a larger one (perhaps the ground floor of the one torn down in 2004).

Carbon steel snow melter at summer camp is replaced.

A new snow melter is installed on top of the old one; hatch and ladder are built.

The first "UCLA hut" (geomagnetic hut) is buried in the science field.

Zoller's hut is removed from clean air sector, as his air sampling project turned over to NOAA.

First informal site tests of solar astronomy are conducted by Marty Pomerantz's team. They are successful, in part due to...

...the first season of full-time NSF on-site representation. This year, the first rep was astronomer Larry Randall, the program manager for radio astronomy.

Siple II station is completed and occupied.

Galley remodel--utensil shelves are built, cooks reefer moved to just inside the 1970's/80's main entrance door (where coffee urn was), etc.

Two totally-buried berthing Jamesways (originally shop buildings part of construction camp #1 next to the construction camp garage/emergency power plant at summer camp) are removed.

Vestibule is added to biomed.

First annual "Scott's Hut" race is held at McMurdo (3 December).

Winter 1979 

Manager: Ron Peck; population 17 (list)

what's for dinner?

Folks in the galley....seated at left is Dan Reed, who previously spent a couple of years on the Hero, and came back to the ice to help build the Beardmore camp in 84-85. Standing is manager Ron Peck, and at right is engineer Daryl Leed (NOAA photo by John Bortniak).

The bar is remodeled (a hardwood floor is put in; it remained until the 1987 winter) and a video machine is installed.

The pool room is remodeled (and Admiral Byrd's sweater moved there from the galley wall).

First year of met operation by support contractor instead of science (the met people were from NOAA in 1975 and the New Zealand Meteorological Service between 1976 and 1978).

First woman winterover is doctor Michele Raney.

Michele Raney listening to music in the bar

Michele is in the bar, perhaps enjoying the latest sound system (NOAA photo by John Bortniak).

Steam cooker is installed in the galley, the first of many.

Spent catalyst is emptied out of the power plant exhausts and reordered (maybe it never showed up, anyway it was never replaced).

Installed day tank in the BIT for furnace, along with 12kw of electric heat.

Water cooler installed in annex.

GCA is moved to the berm for the winter; it proved very hard to move sleds with D4 plus both 941's.

Summer 1979-80 

Two sprytes, D6 arrive, D4 is gone, the Thiokol trackmaster is bermed (and eventually retrograded).

Two D8 engines are retrograded.

Marvin landplane arrives to replace the earlier smaller unit.

First floor of skylab, (later the CUSP lab) is enclosed to protect area and exit door from drifting snow. Exit stairs and door are installed in the east wall.

Dr. Martin Pomerantz continues site tests for solar astronomical telescope...

first funded astronomical telescope

This was his first funded Pole astronomy work--using an 8-cm heliostat feeding a 5-cm refractor; it had been set up near what would later be known as Pomerantz Land. The team obtained 120 continuous hours of observation beginning on New Year's Eve, when the skies suddenly cleared while the New Years Eve party was underway. Little did we know... (more information and photos).

First running of the Round the World Race on 2 December 1979, organized by runners Martha Kane (Savage) and Casey Jones... this event has become an annual tradition...Bill Spindler came in second in (I think) 1986...

the first Race Around the World

Bill Smythe, Martha Kane, Eric Fossat and Alan Parkinson near the end of the race... photo from Martha Kane Savage. Here is her description of the event.

Berthing Jamesway is erected at summer camp, torn down at end of the season.

New cargo office is put into helium arch, former supply/cargo office had been in room in south corner of annex.

helium arch with the cargo office at left

The cargo arch as it appeared a few years later (1984-85 photo from Pete Furtado) with the cargo office in its original location. During the 1989 winter the cargo office was moved against the back wall. Here's my 1989-90 inside photo with Stan Wisneski and Nancy Brandt. No, MAPCON hadn't made its appearance yet.

Casey Jones, summer cook, is killed in fan room when snow from intake stack buries him (9 January; his was the second death at Pole, the first occurred on 14 February 1966, when Navy supply man Andrew Moulder was crushed between a cargo sled and the LC-130 ramp during aircraft unloading).

Casey Jones at the Ceremonial Pole

Here is Casey contemplating some future race...obviously somewhere north of here. This photo is courtesy of Martha Kane Savage. Here are more photos and information, and the link to Martha's memorial page.

Air New Zealand tourist DC-10 (flight TE 901) crashes into Mt. Erebus, 257 killed (28 November).

Air New Zealand crash site
The crash was New Zealand's worst air disaster; the death toll included 200 from NZ, 24 Japanese, 22 Americans, 6 Britons, 2 Canadians, and one each from Australia, Switzerland, and France. While flying conditions were generally clear, at the time of the crash the aircraft was off course, flying below cloud level with no surface definition. More information and photos...

The crash of TE 901 severely dampened planned ceremonies to mark the 50-year anniversary of Byrd's 1929 Pole flight.

some folks flew to Pole to commemorate Byrd's flight over Pole 50 years earlier Approximately 25 DV's traveled to McMurdo for the event, including two members of Byrd's first expedition. Most of these people flew to McMurdo on 28 November at the same time as TE 901 was heading south, and their C-141 flight crew had been in radio contact with the Air New Zealand tourist flight. The anniversary flight, with a planned ceremony at Pole, had been scheduled for 29 November, but the aircraft and flight crews had been involved in the search for the crashed DC-10 and were unavailable. About half of the group did travel to Pole on the 30th (left). Here's what actually happened.

New undersnow power plant fan duct installed from fan room.

Stairway and tower built at east end of fuel arch, and access tower with ladder on the front of the arch at west end.

Sewer line in utilidor freezes up, filling the utilidor with about a foot of frozen sewage. It is repaired and leveled, the "ice" is chipped out; a new outfall is created, and the first sewage lift pump placed in service.

PICO does two shallow cores (100-150') with new drill 2 miles west of station.

Ice cube (28x35x3 ft deep with timber foundation) installed in helium arch.

Chileans construct 4300' gravel runway on King George Island suitable for wheeled aircraft...and tourists.

McM activity--first two 200 series dorms are occupied; next 3 are well underway; power plant footings set; contractor takes over shuttle bus operations from NSFA.

Winter 1980 

Manager: Bruce Gaylord; population 17 (list and photo)

Martha Kane

The second female to winter at Pole was grad student Martha Kane, who was working for Bartol on the cosray project. Here she is dealing with some of that infamous teletype tape which was used to transmit data summaries back to Delaware (most of the data was on magnetic tape that was shipped out at the end of the winter) (U. S. Navy photograph by Dana Babin).

Here is a hero shot of Martha from her husband Mike Savage.

Old outfall supposedly measured at 150' deep.

Boiler operated all winter to heat station.

Significant problems with fire alarm.

Support contractor changes from H&N to ITT.

Installed closed circuit TV in power plant so that it could be watched from comms.

Howard Evans in comms

The new elevated station features an elaborate web-based TV monitoring system to keep track of isolated unmanned areas like RF, the power plant, and the fuel arch, but the idea isn't new. Here's the first system, set up to let comms folks like Howard Evans here keep an eye on the generators (photo from Mike Savage).

Major problems with sewage lift pump, clogged with tampons (a more heavy duty model is needed).

Summer 1980-81 

Exhaust fan installed in end of utilidor.

Summer camp #3 power plant (the present [1990] "old" one) built. D330 engine moved from old plant. D342 (100kw) generator #2 replaced with present [1990] 50kw...and a new snow melter installed.

"Solar-polar" site (later known as Pomerantz Land) constructed 5 miles south of the station for solar telescope observations.

the Solar Polar telescope tower
Here's the first serious solar telescope at Pole...the predecessor site for what happens nowadays in all of the buildings across the runway including the one that bears Martin's name. For quite a while this quadrant of the station south of the Dome was called the "dark sector" or the "quiet sector" and there were plans to locate other instruments in this area; however it was too far away from the station for power supply and an easy commute. Here's a photo of the telescope from another angle, from Nick Majerus.

More information about the project is in this October 1981 Antarctic Journal article "Polar Solar Observatory" by Martin A. Pomerantz, Arne A. Wyller, and Ulf Kusoffsky.

Here is more information about Dr. Pomerantz, with more recent photos of this site... (NOAA photo by Cindy McFee).

And another solar telescope is tested near the fuel arch.

NSO's solar oscillation telescope This project was run by what is now the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, NM. Specifically designed for Pole and for quick erection, it was an f/100 refractor with a 10.64 cm aperture; the image was reflected several times, periscope style, inside the vertical tube. It included computer-controlled electronics. It was erected at the end of November by the field team (Robin Stebbins and Richard Mann, seen at left). Unfortunately, no solar oscillation data could be obtained because of radio-frequency-interference issues and problems with the focal length of the instrument, but crude measurements were taken and sky conditions recorded. It was disassembled and shipped back to the observatory on 9 January; the field team stayed for 2 more weeks, attempting unsuccessfully to make sky brightness observations. Because of the poor weather, the site team questioned the suitability of Pole as a site for astronomy.

Reference and photo source: "Extended observations of solar oscillations" (Antarctic Journal., October 1981). The instrument was returned to Pole in 1982-83; more information (including a schematic of the telescope) is here.

Telephone cable run to GCA via end of garage arch and summer camp #2 power plant (later the site of the "power junction box").

Transglobe expedition arrives at Pole after wintering near Sanae in cardboard huts (15 December).

The Transglobe team arrives at Pole The Transglobe Expedition, a British venture created and led by Ranulph Fiennes, was an effort to circumnavigate the globe via land and sea...nominally along the Greenwich meridian and the antipodal International Date Line. The plans of course involved crossing both the South and North Poles. Amazingly, they did it, despite many close calls. At left, a photo of the the three-man team arriving at Pole on snowmobiles. I met the team in Los Angeles after their successful Antarctic crossing...but at that time they still had to deal with crossing the Arctic Ocean via the North Pole. Here is the full story of their venture, including exclusive Polie photos.

CUSP lab is installed in what previously was the exit from skylab--it had been enclosed the previous summer. The exit door is relocated to south side (where it remained).

VLF antenna erection
One of the main projects in the CUSP lab was this VLF loop antenna located 3000' from Skylab and half way between CAF and the HF antenna field. This Stanford project looked at the solar wind, which can freely pass through the magnetosphere in this area, the "polar cusp." Data was compared with satellites (Antarctic Journal, October 1981). Winterover Bill Gail's photo of the CUSP lab is just below.

Ceremonial Pole repainted in red/white stripes.

the Ceremonial Pole in its original IGY colors
The Ceremonial Pole had been orange and black ever since it was that flagpole that had been painted in those colors in McMurdo in 1957...but it was now time to lighten things up a bit. At left...the Pole in its original colors just before it was repainted. Here is a larger view along with the before/after photos and credits.

McM Fortress Rocks dump site established to replace former Winter Quarters Bay site.

The Winter Quarters Bay dump site being burned This photo was actually taken by friend Mike Savage in January 1980 as he deployed for his Pole winter. At the time of its creation in 1980-81, the Fortress Rocks landfill was considered to be a major upgrade from the previous practice of putting the trash/junk/old equipment/hazardous waste onto the ice and letting it settle into the bay. Ten years later they'd start to dig up and recover all of the landfill stuff. Thanks also to Kelly Shane for commenting and confirming what this photo was depicting--the burning of burnable waste on the WQB ice. Here's a closer ground level look at that, er, lovely Antarctic scene from about the same time frame, from Nick Majerus.

Winter 1981 

Manager: Tom Plyler; population 17 (list and photos)...

...including Graeme Currie, the second Australian w/o (Graeme currently holds the record of 11 Antarctic w/o's for an Australian)...

...and NOAA LT Cynthia McFee.

Cynthia at the Pole signpost

Cynthia was the third woman to winter, the first female NOAA Corps member to do so, and the only woman to winter at any of the USARP stations this year. here are a couple of more photos of her as well as more information, references, and a news article.

The Pole skiway officially named the "Jack Paulus Skiway" (February).

Pole skiway sign
Jack Paulus was an extremely skilled and well liked VXE-6 pilot who served 3 tours with the squadron for a total of nine deployments between 1969 and 1981.

Interestingly, when this formal dedication happened in February 1981, Pole had already technically closed. And in addition to the two VXE-6 aircraft on station (not in the photo), there was also this visiting Russian aircraft carrying scientists...perhaps from Vostok.

More information about "Cadillac Jack" Paulus, as well as several Navy and Air Force skiway maps, is here.

First South Pole Marathon...Chuck Huss does 26.2 on Patriots Day 20 April, (date of the Boston Marathon) on the treadmill in Biomed.

Chuck Huss training on a treadmill in biomed

This isn't actual documentation of the marathon, but it is the scene of the event. Chuck Huss in Biomed during a training run. Hey, note the headphones! (photo from Chuck).

First midwinter airdrop at Pole.

San Francisco skyline painted in CUSP lab of Skylab by Bill Gail.

The new CUSP lab with the San Francisco skyline painting

The Stanford VLF recording equipment had also been installed in here during the summer--this was an adjunct to the Siple project. This area had been an unheated basement the previous year (photo from Bill Gail).

The front wood addition to the weight room is erected.

Buried UCLA vault hut is replaced.

Lab benches from the old buried CAF are recovered and installed in seismo area.

Summer 1981-82 

Two 955L's (kathy and amy) are new on site.

Fire detectors replaced in galley with newer (pre-1989) 12-16 volt models; a beginning of a gradual upgrade throughout station.

McM "Public Works Garage" (heavy shop) burns down in a spectacular fire (1 December).

the heavy shop fire
This remains the most serious fire in USARP/USAP history, superseding the October 1976 disaster I witnessed at Pole. The cause was a malfunctioning electric toilet which had been installed 3 days earlier. This photo is from Allen Cull...all of the rest of the details, photos, and links to video are here.

Summer camp #3 is completed with two berthing huts J1 and J2; stainless steel snow melter installed; the old camp constructed in 1976-77 is removed.

Summer camp power plant rewired and load tested.

Hydrogen generator arrives, installation started.

the Clean Air Facility with the dome in the background

Here is 1982 NOAA winterover Robert Williscroft's picture of the Clean Air Facility looking back toward the dome; this is a less common view than most. The link to his original photo...and his home page.

Second year of rocket-launching campaign at Siple Station.

the Siple rocket program This was one of three Nike-Tomahawk rockets launched this season; 3 others had been launched in 1980-81. The rockets, weighing more than a ton, carried a 240-lb payload to 120 miles. The project was coordinated with Arcas rocket launches as well as balloons at both Siple and Roberval, Quebec, the magnetic field conjugate point. The goal was to measure magnetospheric wave-particle interactions, including "energetic electrons." (US Navy photo by Paul Delsignore, Antarctic Journal, March 1981). Here's one of several Stanford papers once on the Stanford VLF site with more details about the rockets and the project.

Winter 1982 

Manager: Pat Kraker; population 18 (list and photo)

Earliest 300 club in history (well, until April 2012 perhaps).

300 Club participant
Yes, 7 April! Probably the only such event documented under ambient light conditions. This was a cold beginning to the winter that set the record Pole cold temperature a couple of months later (see below). I have no idea what time the 300 club was run in 1982 vs 2012, but the magic -100F temperature occurred several hours earlier in 2012 than it did in 1982.

This is NOAA guy Robert Williscroft (Thanks Robert!). Here's a link to his extensive slide show from his year at Pole.

First "power conservation" problems, 175 KW average load, brownouts at 220 KW.

Started removing ductwork from the science building.

Low temperature record set on 23 June: -82.8C/-117.0F (this record is still in effect in 2015) old record was -80.7C/-113.3F on 22 July 1965.

Fuel bladder #8 caught fire, burned from shorted blanket wiring (9 October).

the fuel arch after a bladder fire The aftermath of the fuel bladder fire. Not everything burned, so you see puddles of DFA sitting on top of the rubber sheeting which was under the bladder (and insulated from the fire by the ambient -58F ambient snow temps). Around the bladder you see stacked up fiberglass insulation. An electric heat blanket was put atop the bladder in use, and covered with this insulation. Unfortunately the heat blanket wiring insulation cracked under the cold...and short circuited. This is the result. Here is another picture looking the other way, photos thanks to Robert Williscroft.

Serious electrical fire at Vostok (4/12) destroys power plant; the emergency generators stored in the same building were also lost. The station engineer was killed in the fire, and the remaining 20 men had a rough winter using makeshift heaters and scrap generators.

Falkland Islands War puts the Southern Ocean on the world map one early engagement the British garrison and BAS station on South Georgia was captured by 2 Argentine naval vessels including the (!) Bahia Paraiso (3 April).

Summer 1982-83 

Nose strut damaged on opening flight aircraft

parking meter in front of 131
Dan Parkin, a 1983 w/o, was sitting next to Marty Pomerantz on the fateful first flight by XD-03 (131). After the hard landing, Dan commented to Marty, "Oops, something broke." Marty (who of course had been an many many such flights) replied, "Naw, they come down hard like that all the time." The Pole folks scheduled for the second flight were bumped for aircraft mechanics and spare parts; they were told that there had been a "small" problem. When they eventually flew in and saw the old 917 wreckage at the end of the runway, they surmised that if that was the "small" problem, they were in for a rough year.

The aircraft was parked off the runway and inside of the taxiway for awhile...eventually the station folks decided it had overparked and put this parking meter in front of it (left, photo by 1982 w/o Robert Williscroft). The red flag says "South Pole, Flag Up, Time Expired." Of course there was also a parking ticket on the windshield.

commemorative sign When the repair crew discovered it would be 3-6 months to get a replacement part, Dan Parkin told them that there was one down at the end of the runway (on 917), they just had to go dig it up. Interestingly, NSF representative Dick Cameron bet GFA John MacMillan $10 that they wouldn't be able to salvage anything usable. But they did; here is documentation of the payoff. (John would winter in 1983 in supply.)

The sign at left was discovered during the demolition of the dome freshie shack in 2003-2004. Here is a closeup of the list of names on the sign. This photo is by Scott Smith, with help from Steven McLachlan. The "small problem" story was told to me by SM Rich Wiik.

Prototype AGO (Automated Geophysical Observatory) set up at Pole.

prototype AGO
This was the latest and greatest prototype for those AGO's that are out there today. Earlier units had used radioisotopes to generate heat; this one used a catalytic conversion of propane. It took 35 100-lb propane tanks to keep this going for a year (Antarctic Journal, 1984 review issue)

Solar brightness telescope reinstalled.

solar brightness telescope
This was an automated portable periscope-style refracting telescope with a 10.64 cm aperture, used for long-term monitoring of solar oscillations. It was first brought down in 1980-81 by a team from what is now the National Solar Observatory (NSO). In 1982-83 it was returned and erected near the fuel arch as seen at left. Observations were taken that season and in 1984-85 (more information, photos, and references).

The NSO (along with Bartol and NASA) have conducted similar observations beginning in 1994-95.

Prince Edward, Queen Elizabeth's youngest son, visits Pole.

Prince Edward at Pole

He was flown to Scott Base (where he stayed) aboard a RNZAF C-130 on 9 December, and returned to Christchurch on the 15th; his stay on the ice included visits to McMurdo and Lake Vanda as well as a flight to Pole in a VXE-6 LC-130. He was the first member of the British royal family to visit these stations, although his father Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, had visited British stations in the Antarctic Peninsula area in 1956-57.(more details and photos).

Explosion-proof wiring put in helium/cargo arch and BIT.

PICO takes cores from 755' electromechanical drill hole inside skiway triangle; they also test a solar-powered version.

Garage arch "ice cube" is excavated and water added.

Lead-acid battery is unearthed from snow melter during cleaning (hmmm).

Dome structural/settlement survey is conducted, with assistance from Temcor (dome vendor) representative.

Power conservation problems continue.

Both the orange and black D8's are retrograded for rebuild at Gough Gough and Hamer in New Zealand; they would be returned to the ice (McMurdo) a year later.

Switchgear is cleaned; buried feeders are excavated, separated, and put in tray.

GCA and CAF feeders are separated.

New sewer outfall run, with masticator type lift pump.

Hydrogen generator is placed in service.

Coils are cleaned on air handlers in the science building and galley.

Siple VLF dipole is extended from 13 to 26 miles.

Winter 1983 

Manager: Richard Wiik; population 20 (list and photos)

Runway chained in the fall, thought to be a good idea (!)

Wiring added for blankets on all fuel bladders.

Explosion proof heaters added in BIT.

Alternators are found to be dirty (replacement plans considered).

Hydrogen generator works well, used for almost all met balloons.

Science building and skylab rewired to 3 phase.

More problems with fire alarm system and brownouts.

New world record low temperature at Vostok: -89.2C/-128.6F on 7/21, supersedes old record -88.3C/-126.9F from August 1960, still in effect.

Summer 1983-84 

More of the fire alarm detectors were replaced a newer type--skylab, CAF etc. (they'd all be replaced again when the new system was installed in 1989).

Preliminary leveling of power plant is conducted.

Garage floor and station arch bulkheads are rebuilt.

Conservation--power loads dropped 50kw.

Lift pump is replaced.

Pomerantz Land is not operated, first time after 4 seasons.

Female pilot Brooke Knapp flies the private Gulfstream III jet "American Dream II" over Pole (11/16) on a McM-PA flight with 8 aboard, part of a record-setting (45-1/2 hour) transpolar circumnavigation.

100' met tower is erected near CAF.

new met tower

The new tower was built from standard scaffolding material, similar to the one that had been erected at Plateau Station in the 1960's. It's been a station landmark ever since, although it might have been moved once. It supports NOAA and other project instrumentation and is a good place to take photographs from.

I've never seen the American flag flying from the top; perhaps that was to mark its completion (photo from Allen Cull).

Replaced rusty grid in snow melter with aluminum.

VXE-6 aircraft 159131 takes famous large-scale aerial station photo.

the 1983 aerial photo

Newer images of McMurdo and other Antarctic sites have appeared, but 131 crashed before the Pole photo could be updated. This map page has details on the availability of this image, and the clue to its latent secret...

Transfer switch system is installed in the power plant arch for emergency backfeed if power plant is damaged.

French drilling team sets up inside taxiway triangle for hot thermal probe drilling, after some success it gets stuck at 1100'. Another sampling drill is lost at 623'.

PICO drill camp
The French drilling camp and separate PICO camp, seen here, were located in the midst of the taxiway triangle. PICO (Karl Kuivenen/Bruce Koci et al) was using an electromechanical coring drill to extend the 1982-83 hole to 1160'. PICO lent their hot-water drill to the French crew who tried unsuccessfully to recover the sampling drill. Here you see a Twin Otter in the background (photo from Allen Cull). Here is the October 1984 Antarctic Journal article describing the French project.

S-123 SPOT (South Pole Optical Telescope) pier dug; 3" automated "SPOT-1" telescope installed.

the SPOT-1 telescope This was the first of several iterations of this University of Florida (UF) project in which John Oliver was involved. This instrument had an 8 cm objective and a 50 cm focal length. The idea was to observe variable stars and similar objects with a filtered automated photoelectric cell. The telescope was to be a prototype for larger units, but despite Oliver's second telescope, SPOT-2, installed in 1985-86, the concept of optical observations at Pole never proved practical.

This is somewhere near CAF, this view is looking west; in the background GCA is to the left and the French drilling camp is to the right (Antarctic Journal, 1984 review issue).

Interestingly, one of the UF principal investigators on this project was Brad (Frank Bradshaw) Wood...Brad had accompanied Marty Pomerantz on a trip to Pole in November 1968 to evaluate the feasibility of an astronomical observatory. Unfortunately this was during a period when Marty was having zero success in getting such a project funded.

Optics room is built in 4th floor of skylab.

Reconfigured skylab heating system (fan in a box) is reworked to heat domes on roof only, the thermostat is shorted.

INMARSAT equipment installed on Observation Hill...

INMARSAT site on Ob Hill
...and NSF makes the first INMARSAT call from McM on 1 December. At left is a circa 2015 image showing the location of the first INMARSAT earth station, which was officially commissioned in February 1984. However, this station didn't last long, as the satellites were repositioned to a location blocked by Mt. Erebus. In 1984-85 the INMARSAT equipment was moved to Black Island. More information about the Black Island satcom station is here.

"Seven Summits" expedition does Mt. Vinson (Chris Bonington on 23 Oct. 1983, the rest on the 30th).

Frank Wells at Siple The group included Dick Bass, Frank Wells, Rick Ridgeway, Chris Bonington and cameraman Steve Marts, along with others including Japanese climber Yuichiro Miura (famous for the movie The Man Who Skied Down Everest--yes, he skied down) and his cameraman Tae Maeda. This was the third Vinson ascent. Reinhold Meissner had wanted to join, but Dick Bass and Frank Wells refused, as this would have meant that Meissner would have become the first to complete the Seven Summits. Others along: pilot Giles Kershaw flying a modified DC-3 Tri Turbo, copilot Sandy Brin, engineer Rick Mason, and Chilean Air Force officer Captain Frias from Chile, which was considering a future charter of the Tri Turbo for their Antarctic operations. The summit was successful, and on the way back to Rothera, pilot Giles Kershaw radios Siple...after being told the beer was cold, he stops for fuel and is given 250 gallons (1 December). The 11 folks stay at Siple 5 days. The photo of Frank Wells at the top of the ladder from Siple 1 to Siple 2 is by Rick Ridgeway, from the book Seven Summits by Dick Bass et al. Here is a 9 March 1986 Los Angeles Times article about the venture by Rick Ridgeway, one of the book authors.

Appendectomy conducted (13 February) on Russian traverse between Mirny and Dome Dr. Igor Mogirev...on radio engineer Valentin Gorbachev. Assisting in the surgery was Vladimir Papitashvili...who is the current NSF Astrophysics & Geospace Sciences program director (more info).

Winter 1984 

Manager: Bob Hurtig; population 19 (list and photo).

Skylab panels are added on each floor, wiring is upgraded.

Had to turn on lights to provide minimum efficient load for generators.

Mt. Erebus erupts violently starting 9/13 through the end of the year, throwing 33-ft-diameter bombs up to 2 miles away from the crater; the most significant activity ever recorded to date.

The U.S. federal criminal code is modified to make major crimes (murder, rape etc.) illegal for US civilian citizens in Antarctica (previously no law applied). This was Public Law 98-473, the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 (Part H, chapter XII; 18 USC 7). In 1989, NSF would arrange with the U.S. Marshals Service to set up a legal presence in Antarctica.

Radiator/engine cooling problems are encountered.

Summer 1984-85 

Added vents/outside ducts to cool computer areas.

New UCLA gravity vault is constructed with trench.

Pomerantz Land is occupied....

Dr. Pomerantz, with a French collaboration, successfully tests the first infrared (submillimeter) telescope EMILIE.

the EMILIE telescope site

The apparatus seen here was set up at Pomerantz Land, where "the sky noise was a factor of 10 less than at Mauna Kea, heretofore the world's best infrared site," according to Marty. This was the first use of liquid helium at Pole, and (guess what) the project was curtailed by difficulties with helium delivery (more information and credits)

SPOT-1 telescope reinstalled; building built around pier.

Snowflake hut built.

Cosray platform jacked.

AGO upgraded with new thermoelectric generator.

the Lockheed AGO module
This unit was originally set up in January 1983, but was modified during the 1984-85 season to add the heat exchanger, baffled air intake and heated exhaust seen here. Of course this was a Jack Doolittle project, but 1977 Polie Stu Harris was also involved in this installation. What's inside? here's a cutaway view (Antarctic Journal, 1984 review issue) and a schematic diagram (AJ, 1985 review issue)

CAF renovated, sampling equipment replaced.

Jamesway J3 erected at summer camp.

Railings put on roof of skylab(?) so reported; if so, they did not stay long.

Glycol system reworked/loop valves added, system flush (which was not needed).

DEC disk-based computer system supplants HP units which used paper and mag tape; computer room rehabbed and enlarged to accommodate new equipment.

ATS-3 radome erected for first Pole satellite phone link.

SPSDL (SP Satellite Data Link) using low-orbiting polar satellites set up to send high speed (well, 9600 bps) data to McMurdo.

SPSDL antenna The satellites included NOAA's Landsat 4 and 5 and NASA's Nimbus-7. From McMurdo, the data path was the new commercial INMARSAT satellite link, which had been set up in 1983-84 using antennas on Observation Hill, and moved to Black Island in 1984-85). The SPSDL/INMARSAT system was used by Pole through 1993-94, when it was replaced with a more direct link. After that, it was tested to track satellite launches from Vandenberg AFB. At left, a picturesque photo of the antenna at Pole from Allen Cull. I have more info, but for now here's the October 1985 Antarctic Journal article and this diagram, both by NASA Mike Comberiate. Also, Pole finally got ATS-3 phone access from this project--something Siple and Palmer had since 1976.

The French drilling Jamesway is removed and stored; the thermal probe is left behind in the ice.

D8 assembled.

New ductwork installed in east end of garage.

First year of NCEL dome settlement survey.

VXE-6 aircraft relocating a geology team encounters a crevasse (28 November).

XD-02 in a crevasse
This incident occurred near the head of the Starshot Glacier, in the Holyoake Range about 300 miles south of McMurdo. After the first takeoff attempt, the aircraft encountered a crevasse field while circling for another try. There were no injuries, and everyone evacuated the aircraft quickly through the forward door (!), helicopters evacuated everyone to McMurdo by the next morning, but the aircraft required replacement of two engines and propellers. Have a look at the story and the photos.

Skylab ductwork in cosray etc modified; thermostats rewired to operate controllers; overcomplicated damper controls removed.

Generator #2 removed, overhauled, and the old alternator with oil-soaked windings replaced with a Kato alternator.

FSI engineer on site to conduct glycol heating survey.

Sewer lift pump replaced.

Hydroconstant (Peerless) pump installed in the power plant--the old hydropneumatic tank is too big to get out of the building.

Emergency power feeder installed from summer camp to GCA.

New kitchen appliances in galley including propane grill, fryer, hood, propane shack.

Balloon inflation structure and aurora tower ("skylab" above science building) removed from Old Pole to discourage access and reduce drift profile.

Meteorite ALH84001 discovered in the Allen Hills by NSF researcher Roberta Score (12/27) was since determined to be from Mars (here's a good Houston Chronicle article about the discovery).

First documented Pole wedding--Patty Manglicmot (Manuel) and Randall Chambers, on 11 February (more information).

McM construction--new atmospheric research building at Arrival Heights.

Winter 1985 

Manager: Ed Duplak; population 19 (list and photo)

Center yellow window in galley was broken, it was replaced with a clear pane.

Major problems with frozen annex plumbing.

More warm and cold air ducts removed from science building and comms.

Chromalox heaters installed in the skylab lounge.

CAF feeder damaged--it was on 2 phases for most of winter.

Radiant heater added in galley propane shack.

Kitchen hood modified (bent out) to catch fumes.

80-90kw peaks noted on feeder #8, reason never found; probably defective meters and electric heaters.

Garage lights moved to clear a-frame hoist.

Removed comm fire detectors in anticipation of replacement.

Water filter holders replaced from plastic to metal.

Ductwork, fresh air intake and one fan removed from the comms mechanical room.

Joseph C. Farman at Halley Bay (BAS) alerts the world that some ozone may be missing, later confirmed by review of NASA satellite data.

Summer 1985-86 

Addition built to back of science building for massive UPS equipment.

Upgraded computer to pdp 11-73.

Prototype AGO testing is complete after 3 winters; the hut is left at Pole.

Telescope hut constructed for SPOT-2 (SPOT-1 didn't work).

John Oliver and the SPOT-2 telescope

Here is the new telescope before installation in its 8x12-foot building--the instrumentation would be inside. Principal investigator John Oliver is on the left. The telescope had two mirrors and a 7.8 cm lens and used a photomultiplier to measure brightness of stars or sky areas. More information, photos, and references are here.

First attempt to raise CAF with mechanical jacks, didn't work.

Installed safety rail on roof of CAF.

New feeder to CAF installed through fuel arch.

New emergency power plant module erected--later this would be known as Mickey's 2005 2/3 of the structure was the Cheese Palace and the other third was part of the summer camp weight room.

Old Peter Snow Miller used during dome construction is dug out.

old Peter Snow Miller
The Swiss-made machine (data plate) was dug out from near Old Pole and driven to the station, where it was given some basic repairs and taken out to mill snow. It worked fine, but it was missing the snow dispersal chute and had a rather large hydraulic leak that couldn't be fixed with parts on hand. It was retrograded (or perhaps reburied) (above photos by Nick Majerus). Here's an earlier photo of it from Jim Mathews; after being dug out, it was being warmed up to start.

Power plant leveled/new loading dock/ramp/arch lighting built.

Utilidor H2O/glycol lines leveled/reinsulated.

Catalytic converters were removed from the generator exhaust stacks after it had been determined that there wasn't any catalyst. The original spent catalyst had been removed in the 1979 winter and reordered, but it hadn't been replaced. A 75F decrease in stack temperature and 8-10% increase in power was noted.

First phase of station PM program instituted.

More ducts ripped out of comm and science; another kitchen vent hood added.

Jamesway J-4 built at summer camp.

Store storage building (former S-123 SPOT-1 hut) put into dome.

Juice machine is moved and a piped-in faucet is installed, and the Sears refrigerator is moved. This kept confusing me (!)

Additional cargo building is set up outside cargo arch.

Addition to science building is constructed behind the "science ET shop" AKA BOS to house a noisy UPS unit.

First year of draftsman on station to update/revise drawings.

Significant increase in O&M management of facility construction projects.

Generators 1 and 3 overhauled in garage/Delco alternators replaced with Kato.

Electronic Woodward governors are installed on all 3 engines.

"Footsteps of Scott" expedition arrives/departs with controversy.

the Footsteps of Scott expedition approaches the station
The expedition members approach the dome, after circling around so the sun would be behind them for better photography. Not long after this picture was taken, station manager Lee Schoen informed them that their expedition vessel Southern Quest, which had been beset off Ross Island, had been crushed by the pack ice...(more photos, info, and credits).

Second 26-mile antenna installed at Siple perpendicular to first.

Second documented wedding at Pole.

Sasha Zemenak/Lee Schoen wedding
The couple: Sasha Zemenak, the winter cook, and station manager Lee Schoen. The date? Well, for Lee it was 1 February, and Sasha was standing on the 2 February side of the date line. The McM Navy chaplain officiated; Dr. Brad Craig was the best man, and Sue Monaco was the bridesmaid. The rings were from small Caterpillar thrust bearings! Here's another photo of the couple (photos and info from Lee). Here's another photo of the event in the galley, by Matt Myers, from Pete Furtado. Oh yes, as of June 2011 they were still happily married and living in Alaska! (Photos and info from Lee.)

Winter 1986 

Manager: Lee Schoen; population 17 (list).

Hydrogen generator gives up.

Major problems with radiator leaks/thermal stress.

Sewer lift pump replaced/outfall froze.

Boiler/office end of the power plant jacked up 1-1/2".

Another heater added in the galley propane shack.

Another set of new heaters installed in the BIT storage room.

PM program disappeared(?)

Massive studies underway to confirm ozone depletion; NOAA begins regular ECC ozonesonde launches in March.

Summer 1986-87 

Pomerantz Land not opened.

Two ITT Antarctic Services employees die after falling into a crevasse near McMurdo (23 November).

Matthew Kaz and John Smith Matthew Kaz (left) and John Smith, along with Thomas Powell, were returning from a hike to Castle Rock. They left the marked trail for a shortcut to Scott Base. The victims fell 70' into the crevasse. Tom hurried to McMurdo to get help. The resident SAR team was out of town, but a substitute rescue team extracted the unconscious men from the crevasse. They were pronounced dead at the McM medical facility. The bodies were flown out to New Zealand and onward to their home towns--Matt was from San Carlos, CA, and John was from Portland, OR (December 1986 Antarctic Journal article). John's wife Sandra Jean Smith instituted a wrongful death suit against the US claiming the "United States was negligent in failing to provide adequate warning of the dangers posed by crevasses," which went all the way to the US Supreme Court where she lost in 1993 (case details). The photo (and title quote) are from Eric McGrosky from an earlier social event...and here is the program of the Chapel of the Snows memorial service, as well as a San Jose Mercury News article about the deaths, also thanks to Eric.

Station DFA loop significantly repiped.

Ceremony held to mark the 75th anniversary of Amundsen's and Scott's arrivals (14 December).

75th anniversary photo

Unlike the 50th and 100th anniversary celebrations, this one was much more subdued...nothing much more than a group photo of Polies with Norwegian, British, and American flags taken for posterity. Still, I recognize a few of these folks. And there was cake (details).

New 10,000 gallon DFA bladder installed for summer camp; the first in several years.

Interim power plant installed at Pole...

South Pole Rural Electric Association This project had been created by the ITT/ANS engineering manager Mickey Finn starting in 1985-86...three timber modules prefabbed in McMurdo, housing two D342 Caterpillar engine generators. The idea was to provide additional power as the station generators weren't able to keep up with the increasing load. I didn't find out about this until after I arrived at Pole on Christmas Eve 1986. In my photo here, the load bank was being set up to test these units...of unknown vintage or rehab status...but nominally these were good for 150kw at sea level, which Palmer Station was at...but Pole was not. The rest of the story...

CAF jacked 11'-11".

jacking up the Clean Air Facility

We are in the midst of jacking up the Clean Air Facility using manifolded hydraulic jacks on each column, along with jacking legs and all-thread rod to support the structure between lifts. The facility remained powered up and on line while all this was happening...(more info and photos).

New fire hut erected in front of the annex.

Lockheed "all-sky camera" replaced with new system using electronic imaging and videotape.

Installed wiring and gear for new summer camp power plant, including new 500mcm cable almost to the dome, and new transfer switch etc in fan room arch.

Installed glycol heat in CUSP lab (did not work until replumbed following year).

Load tested new and old summer camp generators with load bank from McM.

First cosmic ray background measurement project operated.

first major CMBR experiment
The project was a 1.2m offset telescope with a switching scheme connected to two one-pixel (!?) bolometers. The research team was led by Marty Pomerantz, Mark Dragovan and Tony Stark of Bell Labs, and Bob Pernic of Yerkes Observatory. This was the first of several projects to be located at what would come to be known as CMBR land (more information, references, and another photo).

Giles Kershaw with Charles Swithinbank, in an ANI Twin Otter, make first wheeled landing at Patriot Hills (4 December).

The 109th Air National Guard makes its first deployment to the ice with 2 LC-130's (1/17), in 12 years they would take over VXE-6's mission.

American pilot Richard Norton, with Calin Rosetti, overfly Pole in a single-engine Piper Malibu Mirage aircraft (Jan) on a flight from Marambio to KGI, part of a transpolar round-the-world mission.

Norwegian Monica Kristensen attempts a 4-person round trip to Pole from the Bay of Whales--the first significant female-led expedition.

Monica Kristensen sets off for Pole They used two dogsled teams and headed up the Axel Heiberg Glacier to the plateau, but because of a late start they decided to turn around on 29 January, 280 miles away from Pole at 86S-127W. I was at Pole when this was underway, and it evoked much interest and tension. Monica would later reach Pole twice more by air in failed attempts to retrieve Amundsen's tent. The first was a 1991-92 private glaciology venture which received NSF support at Pole but focused on recovering the tent for display at the 1992 Winter Olympics. Later, Monica was at Pole in December 1993 when her snowmobile traverse group encountered crevasses, suffering one fatality. All details are here.

321 recovery effort underway at D59 (6820'S-13731'E) (full story from the Antarctic Journal and more info).

McMurdo construction--dorms 206/207 and heavy shop closed in; the footings had been set the previous winter. New/present Water plant (desals) completed.

Winter 1987 

Manager: Steve Bonine; population 17 (list and photos).

Major bar remodel almost finished; new (and final) bar fabricated by Eric Merriam (per plaque); obsolete projection booth removed.

Concern about power plant governors results in new power supply installation for them.

Carpenter shop/gym renovation completed.

Summer 1987-88 

First wheeled DC-4 flights establish ANI's camp at Patriot Hills (21 November).

first large aircraft landing at Patriot Hills
This landing came after surveys by glaciologist Charles Swithinbank and his landing here the previous season in a Twin Otter piloted by Giles Kershaw.

This DC-4, piloted by Jim Smith, included passengers Charles Swithinbank, Giles Kershaw, and two ANI camp staff. In this photo the aircraft is being refueled in -13F temperature, 35 knot winds, and -67F wind chill. The Chileans (in red suits) had arrived earlier in FACH Twin Otters. This photo is by Charles Swithinbank. Also of interest, this historical blog post by ALE.

LC-130 #131 crashes at D-59, the 321 recovery site...two killed (9 December).

not a good day

Two of the 11 people on board were killed. This was the only aircraft equipped and scheduled to do an update of the big 1983 Pole aerial photo. Here is my coverage of the crash with a photo as well as links to more information including the March 1988 Antarctic Journal article. And a month later...

...the salvaged C-130 #321 would fly to McMurdo from D-59 (10 January). (Antarctic Journal story).

321 about to leave D59
A month after the tragic crash, 321 took off from the D59 site (left) where it had been for 16 years...after reaching McMurdo, it would eventually fly north to New Zealand and back to the US for refurbishment. The photo at left is from this June 1988 Antarctic Journal article...the rest of my 321 coverage is here.

New stairs, platform, and stair to roof of CAF erected.

new CAF stairs

All of this new structure was aluminum, to save weight. The project also included a new LIDAR hatch in the roof. Given all of the instrumentation up there, it's hard to imagine that the only roof access until now was a ladder.

Here are more pictures and details.

Major landscape changes--14 SPASE I array module boxes and hut are set up in front of fuel arch, and S-111 antennas (riometer array of 64 antennas and chicken wire grid) erected near CAF.

SPASE array boxes behind CAF This picture was actually taken a year later in January 1989, but it gives a good perspective of the SPASE boxes in front of CAF, and the new platform around the side of the structure, as seen from the top of the met tower. SPASE was a joint project between Bartol and Leeds--there originally were 16 1-meter-square plastic scintillator detectors (two of the 14 boxes held two detectors). The boxes were spaced on a 30m hexagonal grid. The intent was to detect cosmic and gamma rays by having multiple scintillators detect the cascades ("showers"--perhaps 50-100m in radius at the Pole altitude) of particles produced when these rays interacted with the Earth's atmosphere. Interestingly, the control building in the center of the ray was called the "cell," nicknamed "Nigel's Cell" for Nigel Smith, the first project winterover in 1988. It was activated 21 December 1987 and removed 10 years later. Here's an archive of the old Leeds U. website with more pictures, and here is an article by Dr. Pomerantz et al (from the Antarctic Journal 1989 review issue) with project information and the detector layout.

Pomerantz Land operated.

SPOT-2 (S-123 University of Florida) optical telescope removed. Neither unit performed well, as sky clarity in the optical spectrum was no better than in temperate latitudes.

SCBA air compressor installed in fire shack.

Upwind fuel arch bulkhead dug out and reconstructed.

the fuel arch upwind bulkhead
The bulkhead was starting to buckle and needed some reinforcement. At the same time, the entrance to old clean air, upwind of this, was also dug out because one of the grantees thought some instrumentation had been left inside (it hadn't, and my photos of it didn't turn out). Note the door opening at the top of the access stairway had been erected inside. At left in the photo of the stairway, the old buried at-grade doorway we used in 1977 is barely visible behind the bottom of the stair. Before the wall got rebuilt I was able to use that doorway one last time. The downwind bulkhead was also a bit stressed; I don't know if it was ever rebuilt before 1998-99.

New phone exchange installed along with touch-tone phones.

New VAX computer equipment installed.

Major power plant switchgear rewiring and cleanup to increase output, reduce losses, adjust meters and simplify power changes; followed by load test--result--more power capacity from generators, but only perhaps a 200KW rating.

Repaired hydrogen generator returned from vendor, installed up in BIT, plumbing never arrives, unit was never used again and eventually shipped out.

Galley building jacked and leveled.

Much Equipto shelving installed everywhere.

Skylab main panel and CAF panels replaced.

The first NGA tourists arrive at Pole from Patriot Hills in Twin Otters (11 January) piloted by (guess) Giles Kershaw.

first NGA tourist flight to Pole

Nineteen American and Canadian tourists paid between $20-30K for this 3-hour visit to Pole. I never saw the pilot; of course I would have recognized Giles from our first meeting here in 1976. I didn't learn he was the pilot until years later. Here's a view of fellow Polies watching the passengers disembark, and here's the crowd heading to the ceremonial Pole for hero shots.

Winter 1988 

Manager: Mike Constantine; population 19 (list and photo).

The 28-foot Sea Tomato completes historic rowing voyage from South America to Antarctica (6 March).

the Sea Tomato The 4-man crew included Jay Morrison (in yellow), who wintered at Pole in 1980. In this photo they're battling 50-foot seas off Cape Horn near the beginning of the historic voyage. The rest of the story and pictures from this January 1989 National Geographic article in Jay's section of Mike Savage's excellent web site.
I'm working on more detailed coverage of this event, but for now have a look at this January 2020 ExplorersWeb article by freelancer Martin Walsh in which he describes the life and times of the venture leader Ned Gillette. Martin includes this photo of the original Sea Tomato launch in Punta Arenas on 2 January 1987...from left, Ned, Bud Keene, Jon Turk, and Mark Eichenberger with the champagne bottle. Due to bad weather the venture was postponed for a year, and Bud and Jon were replaced by Jay Morrison and Fred Trombly. The source of the launch photo (and many others) is Eva Schandl's website. Two other great photos--first, the arrival photo of the Sea Tomato on King George Island, shared with me by Mike Trombly. Secondly, a photo of the boat a few years later in Puerto Williams, across the Beagle Channel from Ushuaia, on the road from the naval station to the airport. It was donated to the Chileans as Ned didn't have $$ to ship it back to the US and presumably it is in a Chilean naval museum perhaps in Valparaiso. This photo was shared with me by the late John Splettsoesser.

Bar renovation completed.

Bridge crane assembled over power plant engines.

Treaty nations give initial approval to CRAMRA ("Minerals Convention") (2 June) to allow and regulate mining; second thoughts come quickly.

Summer 1988-89 

Giles Kershaw, the late famous British pilot (Footsteps, Transglobe, RISP, SOL, etc etc), and Australian Dick Smith, show up from Davis in a Twin Otter for Thanksgiving dinner.

plotting and scheming

They get to smell and photograph the turkeys, but all they are given is a cup of coffee, per NSF. Here is their aircraft parked in front of the station. This venture was actually the beginnings of a round the world trip.

Electric fryer, broiler installed in kitchen to replace propane appliances; counter top upgraded.

Hovercraft makes its debut at McMurdo.

the new hovercraft at McMurdo

This was a Hover Systems Husky model 1500 TD, a US-built version of the British Griffon, heavily modified for Antarctica. The vehicle was an experimental model, and according to its nameplate it was number 0001, the first model of this type. It saw service for several years. Here... more information, photos and credits.

Eleven skiers arrive at Pole, supported by ANI (17 January).

first group
of skiers to reach Pole

This was the first group to use the route from Hercules Inlet (17 January) The 11-member team included Mike Sharp and Martyn Williams, who helped found and develop ANI, and the first women to reach Pole by land: Tori (Victoria E.) Murden and Shirley Metz (more information and photos).

Also more tourists fly in from Patriot Hills.

The D7 arrives.

British OAEs Malcolm Mellor (since 1947) Charles Swithinbank (since 1949) show up for NSF survey. of blue ice runway sites--Mt. Howe, Plunket Point etc. using Twin Otters based at Pole.

Twin Otter on deck on wheels on the Mill Glacier
At left, one of the NSF-chartered Twin Otters on deck on the Mill Glacier at Plunket Point (the convergence of the Mill and Beardmore Glaciers). On wheels (yes, look closely). My visit to these sites, along with CRREL engineer Wayne Tobiasson, was perhaps a boondoggle, as I had assisted in some of the survey and logistics planning. This flight was the culmination of the project, which had involved Malcolm Mellor and Charles spending time camping and surveying the sites with assistance from a few Polies (my photos and data from this venture).

Siple Station closed after brief final season.

J5 erected, 321 module set up nearby.

"Meteor burst" comms link with McM tested successfully (bouncing signals off of meteor electron trails).

Comms addition started.

foundation for the comms addition

Winterover carpenter Ray Brudie sets the foundation timbers for the comms addition, using a water hose to create some Antarctic cement.

CMBR site set up 6000 feet south of station with generator module, liquid helium dewars etc. Pomerantz Land is also operated.

Dome survey results in discovery of broken base ring beams after major foundation excavation effort.

New power plant designed, generators purchased.

in the power plant office

The power plant office, complete with state-of-the-art communications--a VAX computer terminal and a touch-tone phone. Here I (right) am discussing the future of this venerable power plant with wo's Jordan Dickens (power plant mechanic, behind the desk) and electrician Dwight Oylear

Sewer line fixed, outfall house built.

New permanent "Chapel of the Snows" dedicated in McM (29 January).

The Bahia Paraiso, a 430' Argentine vessel, runs aground, capsizes and sinks 2 miles west of Palmer Station, dumping 125,000 gallons of petroleum products off Arthur Harbor and 300+ people onto Gamage Point.

Winter 1989 

Manager: Bill Coughran; population 20 (list and photo).

Comms addition/O&M office finished, occupied.

Pantry area (S end of galley) upgraded for coats etc.

Power plant addition structure built.

new power plant addition

Brand new, and as yet quiet and empty, here's the sliding door into the new power plant addition, which would house the pumps and radiators for the 3412s...

Several rooms in upper berthing renovated, the "sewing room" next to the fan room converted into berthing and a new lounge created down the hall.

ETHERNET computer network installed.

Wind speed record: 48 knots (55 mph, 92 km/h) on 24 August.

Added duct for air circulation and some glycol heat in annex.

Cargo office moved to end of cargo arch.

Installed new Pyrotronics fire alarm system.

Rod Jensen

It's a few years later (1998 winter to be exact) but here's Rod Jensen puzzling over that Pyrotronics fire alarm panel we installed in 1989 next to the dart board in comms, along with all new detectors and lots of wiring. photo courtesy Robert Schwarz

Fuel leak in fuel arch piping discovered after 40,000+ gallons lost.

First C5-B landing at McMurdo ice runway (4 October) with 72 pax, 2 helos on board, as well as cargo.

C-5 landing at McMurdo The aircraft made another trip a day later; each flight carried 2 completely assembled UH-1N helos for VXE-6, along with passengers and other cargo. After it landed, there were concerns about how much the ice would deflect (US Navy photo by JO1 Dan Simon, Antarctic Journal, October 1990). Here's another US Navy photo by PH2 Dick Meenan, showing the passengers boarding in Christchurch.

Summer 1989-90 

Coordinator Mike Patterson introduces Carhartts to the official Pole O&M wardrobe.

Bill Spindler in the O&M office

Okay, so you get a hero shot, this is me in the O&M office (the second floor of the just-completed comms addition, the store is on the other side of the wall to my right). Nude (Mike Patterson) had surprised us all by passing out these bibs to everyone at one of our first safety meetings in the gym. Nude took this photo of me at the end of the season when I was writing up my final report on the generator installation.

Power plant upgrade--1 new 3412 installed along with much piping and electrical work; engine load tested to 350KW, required to support many new science modules erected up wind of the station this year

unloading the new generator

At left, the first of the three new generators is being unloaded from the LC-130 aircraft that transported it from McMurdo. They had arrived on the vessel in January 1989 and had been stored in the heated warehouse on Observation Hill at the site of the former nuclear and water plants. Here's the full story of the 1989-90 power plant upgrade, complete with some Bill Spindler hero shots :)

Asbestos discovered in power plant exhaust system and elsewhere; some was removed or stabilized by the A-team (Navy environmental health team); this plus material delays cause power plant completion to be delayed until next season.

Sewer line, frozen all winter, replaced again.

Black hut moved, stairs put up to roof.

SPASE array expanded with 8 more boxes plus lead sheets; huts for lidar and Cerenkov telescope (GASP) erected.

New TACAN van arrives for GCA.

Dome jacking/leveling and base ring structural repairs completed successfully after massive excavation effort; major panel repairs remained to be done the next year.

dome structural repairs underwaydome node repairs

At left above is one of the panels we removed to make these repairs. At right is a closeup of one of the foundation base nodes that needed fixing. Just inside you can see one of the screw jacks we used to support the area while the repairs were made. While the TEMCOR (dome designer/vendor) tech rep was on site, we discussed jacking methods for raising the entire of the options being considered for using it as part of the new station.

Massive comm cable relocation, cable trays, utilidor completed in support of dome project; massive rhombic erected south of snow mine.

new comms utilidor

The original skylab tunnel (left) along with the new comms/emergency escape utilidor.

SPSDL antenna moved closer to skylab utilidor.

SPSDL antenna This antenna had originally been erected in 1984-85 much closer to the dome, but it had to be moved so that the dome snowdrift could be excavated. Two other photos--this one shows some of the dome digout in the foreground, and the rather extensive scaffold erected for the construction of the new SPSDL antenna in the right background. This photo shows the antenna in its original location at the beginning of the summer before it was dug out and moved. The system was used to transfer batches of email and data from McMurdo to and from the Pole VAX system. The use of the Pole terminal was discontinued in 1993, and the McMurdo terminal was converted in January 1994 to support the NASA NAILS project which did remote satellite tracking and data collection.

CMBR site operated again with some different groups.

J6, DNF Jamesway erected.

New seismic vault constructed to "age" for the winter.

new future seismic vault
The construction of this vault was for the initial involvement of the IRIS collaboration at Pole. It was buried for the winter before any instrumentation was which time it was designated Vault V1. Eventually the seismographic instruments near the station were replaced with the SPRESSO installation several miles away, which was completed in 2002-03.

Passive solar heated modules built, put into use for warming shacks etc.

Will Steger shows up with dogs and ABC news.

Will Steger's expedition
This was the six-man International Trans-Antarctica expedition that crossed the entire continent from the tip of the Peninsula to the Russian Myrnyy base. I was there for the arrival of this "Soviet Antarctic Expedition." Here's the rest of the story with more photos.

Reinhold Messner and Arved Fuchs show up on foot.

Messner and Fuchs
The two showed up on New Years Eve with a German TV team that had arrived from PH by air. Unlike Steger's group, they didn't get any official support, but they stayed in summer camp (and slept in a Scott tent near the Pole). (more info, photos AND the audio lecture they gave) recorded live in the gym!

New upper air system, replacement for GMD, received and installed temporarily in new hut by DNF.

Summer camp lounge/galley destroyed by fire late in season.

summer camp lounge after the fire
The building consisted of a short Jamesway lounge section in front, attached to a modular wood structure housing the galley--it was red-sided to match the head and power plant. The fire sprung up late Saturday night, perhaps from something smouldering in a trash can, and left behind this charred structure with grotesquely melted video gear and telephone.

Many visits by NSF environmental teams, Metcalf and Eddy engineers doing conceptual plans for new station.

First IceStock concert at McMurdo.

sign at the first IceStock

This event was created by Dane Paul Terry, little did he know at the time that it would continue to be a major cultural event to this present day. Oh, I was at Pole so obviously I couldn't go. With thanks to Jim Mastro.

First VXE-6 C-130 wheeled "blue ice runway" landing on the Mill Glacier near Plunket Point (confluence of the Mill and Beardmore Glaciers) (26 January).

Herc landing at Plunket Point The site was studied for use by large aircraft with cargo for the new Pole construction. The test landing (which NSF essentially had to order VXE-6 to do, as they were leery) provided data for the eventual development of the Pegasus runway. I'd visited the site as part of NSF's blue ice runway study. This photo, by Malcolm Mellor, is found in Charles Swithinbank's December 1991 CRREL report Potential Airfield Sites in Antarctica for Wheeled Aircraft (available here). The report addresses 93 potential sites, including Union Glacier (now being used by ANI / ALE).

Above-ground construction of the "McMurdo Station Science Facility" underway.

structure for the new Crary Lab
The upper two pods of what would later be named the Crary Science and Engineering Center (CSEC) were framed out when I showed up in November 1989 and took this photo. The first portion of it would be enclosed that season. I took this photo from near the main entrance of the old biolab (Eklund Biological Center/EBC) next to the Chalet Here are more photos including a few from the 1988-89 season.

continue to 90's history