Around a month before the survey equipment was tested in the lab and then packed for the short journey to Duxford. As in 2005 the weather was sunny mostly over the test flight schedule unfortunately it turned very wet at the conclusion of the trials just as FBL was due to star at the Fairford Air Tattoo.
Time is always pressing during flight trials and chances to get the camera out are scarce but non the less been at Duxford gives ample photo opportunities.Flight trials over meant some serious packing of the 2.5 tonnes of equipment required to conduct a major survey was packed. A fair amount of the weight is made up of the packing cases required to keep the rain and snow out on it long journey south. The survey equipment includes a weather fax (this allows our pilots to forecast the Antarctic weather. As well as the primary survey equipment there is a duplicate set of spares which allows for rabid repairs and turn around as time available is very limited so needs to be maximised. Ground power is supplied from solar panels and a number of small Honda generators (and this season a Diesel generator capable of using JetA, this means we can use up the dregs in the drums not used by the aircraft thus saving wasted fuel important -"as fuel in such a remote location is worth more than a 30 year old single malt!").
Preparation is everything as it is hard to pop to the shops, so the months prior to packing I spend my time thinking what spares, what equipment and improvements I need to make the season go that little more smoothly - "thing are 100 times easier when done back in Cambridge than on the ice at -35°C ".
So having packed, raised the shipping paper work and consigned the cargo to stores I was able to depart for a holiday in Uganda helping lead a group of Northumberland Scouts in the renovation of the Lookwide building I helped build in 1991 at the National campsite at Kaazi just outside Kampala on the shores of Lake Victoria.
Now is the waiting, as I am due to fly south on the 1st November.