Z-fids Newsletter No. 25

October 2010

      Z - F I D S    N E W S L E T T E R   No. 25   18 Oct 2010 

Editor: Andy Smith  (email andy@smitha.demon.co.uk)
Website: www.zfids.org.uk

Report from Halley
Paddy Power, the current Halley Winter Base Commander, has sent the
following notes which give a flavour of the past winter and an
indication of the hectic summer to come. Thanks to him for that.

"Another winter is coming to end here at Halley. It has been a
great winter with another good team. It all seems to have gone so
fast that when Andy asked me to write something for the newsletter
my mind went blank and winter merged into one and it was hard to
pull out highlights as the whole winter has been one.

One of the highlights was the 24-hour film festival. This started
out as a small thing but over the years has grown in size. This
year there were around 40 entries from a wide range of Antarctic
and Sub - Antarctic bases. We entered 2 films, one called "Night
watch" and for most of you, you will remember the joy of doing
night watch!! All the entries are available online.

We have been very lucky this winter with the amount of auroras,
which have been visible (clear nights).  It was even possible to
get our winter group photo done with an amazing aurora going on
behind us, and that took two nights to get right! [See the 2010
page on the Z-fids website.] Where Halley plays nice it then has a
way of balancing it out! This year we seem to have an excessive
amount of snowfall and were nearly at the annual average by
Mid-Winter and we have had quite a bit since. I wait with bated
breath for the Met figures in December. At least we are all experts
with shovels.

This winter has been the second last at Halley-5, with Halley-6 due
for commissioning in the summer season of 2012. This leads me to
the plans for this summer.

In a little over 2 weeks the first of the summer team return (late
October). The majority of inputs this year are by plane. People
will fly to Cape Town; from there they fly to Novolazarevskaya blue
ice runway with ALCI (Antarctic Logistics Centre International) and
Dromlan (Dronning Maud Land Air Network). Once on the ice they are
transferred by Basler Aircraft to Halley. The ES (RRS Ernest
Shackleton) is only bringing in 14 people! Again both ships will
also make an appearance at Halley with the ES doing both first and
second call, and the JCR (RRS James Clark Ross) coming at the end
of summer to move passengers to the Falkland Islands.

Proposed plans for this summer are to finish all external works and
most of the mechanical and electrical works on the modules. Weather
this year won't be a factor! There will also be a small team of
10-12, working out at the Halley-6 site. They will be raising the
infrastructure and masts that are already in place so that they are
still above the surface for the commissioning year.

If all runs to plan the idea is to move two energy and two
accommodation modules from Halley 5 to 6 before the end of this
summer. That will be a sight to see. Each module weighs around 90
tonnes and has to pulled 16km. This will allow them to start
running part of the new Halley-6 building from first input in
summer 2011/12.

It is going to be a manic summer this year with station numbers in
excess of 110 but we are all looking forward to it. Ben Mapston the
new WBC will give you an update after summer by which stage I'll be
sunning myself in Las Vegas and getting ready to sign myself up for
my 3rd Halley Winter and try to join the select few to have done

Mick Blackwell
It is sad to have to report the death in June of Mick Blackwell. He
was seconded from the Met Office to be Chief Scientist at Halley
Bay in 1959, for the International Geophysical Cooperation. Nelson
Norman has written the following tribute:

"In the passing of Michael J. Blackwell science has lost a very
notable and highly respected geophysicist. Of greater moment for
the survivors of the first FIDS base at Halley in 1959, they have
lost a universally respected and greatly admired chief scientist.
All who worked with him whether as scientists or as support
personnel had reason to remember him over the years as a friend and
most excellent colleague. He was recruited by the wise Sir Raymond
Priestley for Sir Vivian Fuchs was crossing the Antarctic at the
time, and the choice was a wise one.

Mick's job was very onerous, for the time for preparation was very
short from the time FIDS decided to take over the Royal Society
base at Halley Bay to his departure. No doubt Sir Raymond gave him
good advice and Bill Sloman must have provided great support but
the responsibility was Mick's and he accepted this difficult task
with a quiet confidence which was the mark of his scientific
leadership throughout the year. Always with encouragement in
difficult times and never an angry word he earned not only the
respect of all his colleagues but their total loyalty and support.
He spent hours working on the clapped out Decca Radar set and much
other equipment which was well past its sell-by date after the
Geophysical Year and got it to work. He was ably supported not only
by his colleague David Limbert, who died last year, but very
specially by the support scientists provided at the last minute by
the South African Weather Bureau, Gordon Artz and Johannes Bothma.
They were not only a tower of strength to Mick but did much help in
the scientific leadership which Mick so outstandingly provided. He
was an example to us all both as a scientist and as a very fine

Dick Strafford
Another death to report. Hugh "Dick" Strafford died on 25th June
2010. He was Radar Technician in 1965, having been seconded from
the RAF for the season of 1965. He later became an author, see
Tony Haynes comments "Great bloke and great fid!"

BAS Club AGM & dinner 2011, Bristol
Alec Hurley has asked me to give a plug for this event which will
take place aboard the SS Great Britain in June next year. I don't
have the exact date, but no doubt details will be available on the
BAS Club website and in the BAS Club Magazine in due course.

The Milky Way and aurora seen from Halley
Antony Dubber (the chef at Halley) has had a rather striking photo
of the Milky Way seen behind the Halley-VI module published in the
Daily Telegraph on 11 October as Picture of the Day. The next in
the same gallery is his picture of the aurora over Halley. There is
a link on the 2010 page of the Z-fids website.

New Halley website
www.halleybay.com has been set up by Adrian Woodroffe (electronics
engineer 1998-99).

Fan trace
The September 2010 issue is now online. See
It contains an article by Henry Wyatt who wintered at Detaille
Island (Base W) in 1957 and Stonington (Base E) in 1958. He
describes an experiment on the physiology of the sledge dogs which
involved collecting, drying and weighing their turds!

British Antarctic Oral History Project
As members of the BAS Club may know from the last BAS Club
Magazine, this project is now well underway. It is a joint project
between the BAS Club, British Antarctic Survey, UK Antarctic
Heritage Trust (with additional funding from the Government of the
British Antarctic Territory) and Scott Polar Research Institute.
The aims of the project are:

* To preserve and make accessible the unofficial history of the
British presence in Antarctica, within living memory, by recording
the reminiscences of a sample of those individuals who were
personally involved
* To acquire first-hand accounts of events, activities, background
culture etc which are unlikely to be represented in official
* To capture an essence of individuals by recording their memories
in their own words and/or still or moving images of them in

The recordings and transcripts are preserved in the BAS Archives.
Copies are available for loan or purchase - contact
basarchives@bas.ac.uk for more information.

More details are available on the web page:
Much of the work is being done by volunteers. I am a volunteer
transcriber, which involves listening to the audio recording of an
interview and typing up the words spoken into a document, making
them electronically searchable. Although this is time-consuming, I
am finding it most interesting. If anyone would like to get
involved in the project as a volunteer, or would like more
information, please get in touch with me.

Close encounter with an iceberg
In May, a 60km-long iceberg known as B15-K drifted close to the
Brunt Ice Shelf. Fortunately it passed safely without affecting the
ice shelf near Halley, no doubt to the relief of those on base
plotting its progress.

Z-fids website
Contributions for the website are always welcome, whether they are
amusing anecdotes, interesting pictures or anything else of
relevance to Halley Bay. Just sent them to me and I will add them.

As usual this newsletter is being sent out by email only, to 385
people. If you are on email but have not received it by that route,
please register or re-register on the website (links on the home
page). 372 people have now registered on Z-fids. If you have, your
name will be shown as a link on the appropriate year page(s).


13 January 2011
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