To prepare for a research flight takes quite some time and involves many people. It starts in general 3-4 days in advance when some scientist sit together over the forecasts and think about the most interesting atmospheric situations to probe. Two days in advance they hand over a preliminary flight plan to the HALO flight operations team. These colleagues from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) talk to Air Traffic Control (ATC). A day in advance this preliminary flight plan is updated with the recent forecast.
The day of the flight the preparations start roughly 4 hours before take-off. Today at 3:45 am the first instrument operators started preparing for the flight. Some instruments need to be cooled down, others need to heat up or the pumps need time to get the instruments operating properly. At 6:20 am a final pre-flight briefing took place, where all instruments have to give their go for the flight. At 6:45 am HALO was pushed out of the hangar. Today was a very rainy day in Ireland. Rain running into the inlets on top of the aircraft, would distort our measurements in flight, as the stratosphere is very dry (a factor of 1000 compared to the ground). Therefore, we try to minimize the time when HALO is outside in the rain. Furthermore, today HALO was parked in a special way, so the wind was blowing away from the inlets.

HALO fueling in the rain. Picture by Peter Preusse.

The fueling car was a bit delayed, but due to the effort of the flight operations team and the flight crew, we managed to get ready in time. Today we wanted to fly through the very busy air space of Shanwick, which is the air space most used for transatlantic flights. Unfortunately, we had to wait for the final clearance of the Shanwich Oceanic Control before we could finally take-off for our 9 hour flight at 08:20 am.

About Isabell Krisch

Isabell Krisch is a PhD student at the Institute for Energy and Climate and a fellow in the HITEC stipend program. During her PhD she will measure gravity waves in the atmosphere with the airborne infrared limb imager GLORIA.

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