Monday, 12 July 2021
I’m excited, today is my first flight on HALO during the CIRRUS-HL campaign. Actually it’s already the 13th flight of the campaign, so other operators (the scientific crew of the plane) have had a lot more stories to tell as of yet. But honestly, I’m not new to HALO whatsoever, because during past campaigns in Ireland 2017 (WISE) and Argentina 2019 (SouthTRAC) I accumulated certainly more than 200 flight hours on HALO. Nevertheless there is excitement, as instruments, sequences, science goals and last but not least people are different at each campaign.
I get up, do my morning routine, have a breakfast and get ready to go. In my rucksack, I carry my laptop, power supply, a pre-cooked meal, fruits, water, chocolate, sunglasses, wallet and passport. Today I drive the 15 kilometres to my workplace, the special airport Oberpfaffenhofen (IATA: OBI, ICAO: EDMO) by car (not by bike as usual), because it’s going to be a very long day.
I arrive at my office to check for the latest instructions that the flight planners and forecasters provide. I print the plan and head over to the hangar. There, Laura has been around way earlier in order to prepare our instrument for the flight. Since there isn’t any power over night, the vacuum of our mass spectrometer needs to be pumped and maintained as early as possible in the morning.
All operators meet for the preflight briefing. Tina, who leads this flight from the ground today, gives last instructions and updates on the objectives of this flight. Valerian will be her counterpart in the plane who can make decisions on the flight plan, in coordination with the pilots. After this 10 minutes meeting, we are ready to go. The plane is fueled, the instruments are prepared and some already set to measurement mode. I and the other operators board and take our seats, which are luckily comfortable enough for our extended flights. Everybody connects their laptops to power and the local network, which allows us to monitor and control the instruments from our seats. Soon after, the engines are started, the door is closed and we taxi (roll) to the runway.
to be continued …