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News > OW News > ANTARCTIC ADVENTURES

ANTARCTIC ADVENTURES

We recently caught up with George Hood (B. 14-19) on his return from Antarctica
26 Feb 2024
OW News
An endless expanse of ice and snow
An endless expanse of ice and snow

George Hood - the first Wrekinian to work in Antarctica

George who recently returned from the Sky Blu deep field base in Antarctica shared some of his experiences whilst working in freezing temperatures and dazzling sunshine. 

What was your job there?

My job title was ‘Mobile Plant Mechanic’, which involved maintaining and operating all the vehicles owned by British Antarctic Survey. These ranged from heavy plant machinery such as loading shovels, excavators and pistenbullys all the way down to skidoos.

What possessed you to go to Antarctica? 

Some years ago I saw an advert for a similar job in a construction magazine and it just stayed with me. After completing my degree in Agricultural Engineering at Harpur Adams University I wanted a challenge and  an adventure.  I noticed the job was adveertised again in the same magazine, so I  applied, thinking I would never get it. Two months passed and I had given up hope but out of the blue I received a phone call to attend an interview and got the job!

How long did it take to get to the base?

It takes three days to travel from England to Rothera Station, which is situated on Adelaide Island to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula, but getting there is very weather dependent and it can actually take a lot longer.

I flew from Heathrow to São Paulo, then to Santiago, on to Punta Arenas in southern Chile and finally out to the Rothera Station, on the British Antarctic Survey twin propeller  'Dash 7’ aircraft.

How cold was it? 

The coldest temperature I experienced was at Sky Blu where the temperature dropped to minus 35 degrees centigrade.  At the height of the summer, when the sun was shining and no wind, it reached a barmy zero degrees and everyone dressed in shorts and t-shirts! The wind chill factor was the worst, and temperatures could change in seconds so it was always necessary to have a shovel and extra clothes within reach at all times.

Most memorable part? 

The most memorable part of the job was being based 450 miles away from the main station at Sky Blu where I helped with a refueling airdrop.

This involved 575 drums of aviation fuel being parachuted out the back of an Ilyushin Il-76 (a Russian-designed transport plane) over four days. Myself and another mechanic were tasked with collecting all the fuel drums which were spread out across the snow and ice. Driving around in the sun, collecting oil drums across a dazzling white landscape is truly something I will never forget.

George will be returning to Wrekin soon to give a talk to our pupils. We can't wait to hear more about his adventure! 

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