McMurdo station is a busy place by all measures. But when a plane arrives with food and mail, a certain frenzy breaks out all over the base. It is quite exciting to watch certain operations jump into action as soon as the wheels of the cargo planes touch down.
A few days ago, a C-17 arrived. The list of passengers was short, which was good news for those of us awaiting mail, and great joy for those of us missing "freshies" (fresh produce). Freshies and mail only arrive when there is room on the aircraft after their weight and the weight of their luggage is calculated. As soon as a cargo plane arrives on the ice, the trucks and forklifts sprung into action. The food and mail, loaded onto pallets, is plucked from the back of the aircraft, and carried up to the appropriate building on the base. Eager teams open their doors to greet the forklifts and offload the cargo.
A few days ago I was an innocent passerby who saw crates of bananas and lettuce arrive. JOY! I ran back to the lab to tell my friends that we would be having bananas and salad with dinner! We all cheered!
Meanwhile, the mail room busily sorted through the mail that was delivered. Mail for field teams with helicopter support is sent down to the helicopter hangar. Mail for McMurdo residents is sorted by name, and those lucky souls who receive packages get their names posted on the McMurdo Operations website, summoning them to come to the post office to pick it up.
It is, indeed, a happy day in McMurdo when an aircraft arrives with cargo!