Fresh veggies for Antarctica due today

DEIDRE MUSSEN
Last updated 05:00 15/08/2013

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Scott Base staff are salivating in anticipation of the arrival of the first winter flight to Antarctica because it is laden with 100kg of fresh food.

It is about four months since Antarctica New Zealand's 10 staff and five Antarctic Heritage Trust conservators last tasted fresh fruit and vegetables.

"Last time, it was like Christmas," Antarctica New Zealand mechanic Lex McKenzie said by phone from Scott Base yesterday, recalling his first experience of "freshies" after wintering over three years ago.

The first of two WinFly trips, as winter flights are dubbed, is scheduled today. A United States Air Force C17 Globemaster was due in Christchurch yesterday and expected to land at the Pegasus ice runway at 5pm today.

McKenzie, 50, said the plane's arrival would be bittersweet for the close-knit Scott Base winter team, because two trust conservators would return to New Zealand on it. "It is quite sad because, being such a small group, you become like a family."

Staff at New Zealand's base were allowed to order little treats to be delivered on the flight, along with a bag of mail.

"I'm getting some fresh music DVDs - heavy metal, head-banging stuff," McKenzie said.

The last scheduled flight left Antarctica for New Zealand on March 9. However, emergency flights by C17 Globemasters evacuated sick American staff on April 22 and May 10. Night-vision goggles were needed for the latter trip.

The final sunrise at Scott Base for almost four months was on April 24, but next Monday, the sun would peep over the horizon there for the first time since then, sparking another celebration, McKenzie said.

"We're planning a wee trip out to Pegasus runway, because it's the best place to see it."

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- The Press

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