I Spy Mission Log - Entry 07B/Team 2
Brennan is helped by Kerr into the nearest Sno Cat. Hogan, Baragali and Thompson up pack the remaining gear and pile into the second vehicle. Doors are pulled shut and they drive off.
The driver of the lead car turns to Hogan. "Tell us again what happened back there..."
"Like I said on the radio, we were called into Siple from New Zealand to help with cleanup after the latest storm. Much of their sensitive electrical equipment was damaged. About five miles from land, something struck our craft and decompressurized the pilot compartment. That's when we lost our pilot."
Remembering Kerr's story, Hogan plays along that he is just one of the team. "Brennan, our copilot, kept the plane aloft and later landed the damaged craft as best he could. He still hasn't recovered from the landing."
The crew seem genuinely surprised at what happened. "In this land of extremes, unlucky events seem to happen more often."
The trek is slow, the small caravan only travels about 15 miles per hour. The spider web frameworks on the front of the vehicles are crevasse detectors and can only function at slow speeds.
The howling wind puts a visible chill into the team, so the rescuers pour out reconstituted coffee from thermoses for everyone. Visibility in the storm is almost nil.
After about twenty minutes of contemplative silence, the base comes into view.
The first structure seen stands beside a drilling platform derrick. This building turns out to be on the far side of the complex away from the airport.
The complex is comprised of sixteen transparent acrylic Quonset huts surrounding a central dome. This dome stands 45 feet above the surface of the surrounding snow and ice, and is 150 feet across. The dome is composed of 665 triangular transparent panels supported by an aluminum gridwork.
The Quonset huts and the geodesic dome emit a violet light through their transparent walls. This violet glow is reflected on the snow outside the complex and can sometimes be seen up to a mile away or on clouds above the complex (or so one of Whiteout's personnel says). The violet color comes from ultraviolet lamps used to raise plants in the Antarctic darkness.
Four 60 foot tall, 3-bladed windmills stand around the perimeter of the dome. Over the top of some of the buildings, a 100 foot high tower can be seen with its six supporting guy wires.
Before you drive down a concrete vehicle ramp, you can barely see two runways intersect to the left of Whiteout base. The airport consists of two hangers and two sheet metal structures. Barrels of aviation fuel and gasoline surround the buildings.
The ramp slopes down 15 feet to large metal doors. A closed-circuit surveillance camera is fastened to the ceiling just outside the set of double doors. The doors open automatically into a 20 foot wide tunnel, then close and lock again after you pass through.
Eight side passageways branch off the large tunnel to subsurface units within the complex. These tunnels and smaller trench-like passageways are not heated directly, but they are a lot warmer than the outdoors. The temperature is about freezing (32 degrees F.), and there is no wind. The tunnel ends in another pair of heavy doors. Two open-faced snowmobiles are parked here.
The group is invited to stay with the crew of Atlantis II, in the male's guest quarters (first room down the second hallway on the right) and the female's guest quarters (first room down the second hallway on the left).
The men's guest dorm has eight beds lining the west wall; the east wall lined with eight lockers. The floor is carpeted in light blue shag.
The women's guest dorm has eight beds lining the west wall; the east wall lined with eight padlocked lockers. The floor is carpeted in light blue shag. There are two clotheslines strung across the room with stockings and sweaters draped across them.
After unpacking your gear from the Sno Cats, Brennan and Kerr are lead to the second room down the last passageway on the right. Before making the turn, a video camera can be seen above the second pair of heavy doors. Brennan is admitted to the male's medical facility.
This unit is divided into three small rooms. The Triage room has first-aid supplies, examining equipment, and medicine on shelves along the west wall. In the center of the sterile Operating room is an operating table that doubles as a dentist's chair. Crowded into the rest of the room are an anesthetic set up, trays, and cabinets containing surgical tools and a respirator. One locked cabinet contains drugs, sterile packaged dressings, and splints.
The Sick room contains three hospital beds and three clothes lockers. A desk and two chairs stand near the door leading to the south. The staff doctor, a woman named Hope, finds no outward reason why Brennan would still be so disoriented.
The two guards from the rescue stand alert outside the guest dorms, not so much to keep you in, but to watch you. You are told dinner is in an hour, after which base personnel would like to speak with you.
Robert Brennan Col. Hogan Jack Thompson