Another nightshift… It’s 3 AM and I have to stand outside in the cold to have a mere feeling of being awake. Coffee is not doing its job anymore, I ran out of Mate Tea (for those of you who don’t know, Mate is a local tea from Argentina with half as much caffeine as coffee but with supposedly double the buzz…) and I still have 3 hours of my shift left…

As you probably noticed my last few blog posts got shorter and further spaced apart. That is not because there is nothing to write about, but actually that there is very little time to write anything. My last few blog posts were written somewhere over multiple nightshifts. What do we do on nightshifts you might wonder? We follow the flight and instructing/helping our operator on board from the ground.

My typical 2-day cycle starts at 01:00-02:00 AM walking home from the restaurant/bar after dinner. Sleep till 08:00, check all emails in bed before a quick breakfast at 09:00. At 10:30 some flight planning and preparations start in my room before we head to the hanger at 13:00 (with a brief stop at the bakery for lunch). Once at the hanger, forecasts, planning, meetings, presentations, and a lot of debates follow. At 16:45 a go/no-go decision is made with regards to the evenings’ flight; this means looking if the phenomena we intend to measure is still there, can the aircraft manage to fly in the turbulent conditions, can they return (i.e. will the runway be covered by fog upon return), etc.

Finally, we have a brief breather where I attend to emails, coordinate the Ozone-sonde releases across Chile, Argentina and Antarctica, and do some admin. Today I even fitted an interview in with a crew doing a documentary on the campaign. At 19:00 Halo starts moving and we are all outside to watch the take-off at 20:00. Then the night shift starts… If Peter takes the first shift, I can go to the hotel to sleep from about 21:30 till 12:30, whereby I head back to the hanger for the second shift. This then lasts until Halo is parked at about 05:30. I then try to get another 2-3hours sleep before the second day starts… The following day is the same as the first, starting with checking my mails, going to the hanger, debate and plan, lots of meetings till 21:00, head to the bar/restaurant for some food… Quoting the movie Edge of Tomorrow the cycles goes ‘live-die-repeat’…(I’m exaggerating a little bit if anyone from Human Resources is reading this 😉 )

About Markus Geldenhuys

Markus Geldenhuys was a PhD student at the Institute for Energy and Climate (IEK-7, Stratosphere) and a HITEC fellow. During his PhD, he was working on gravity waves observed by the infrared spectrometer GLORIA. He was responsible for forecasting, flight planning and data processing during the SOUTHTRAC Campaign.

One Response to “Another nightshift …”

  1. GT from SA

    Hi Markus,
    Ek verstaan jy is redelik oorwerk en voel soms g…vol vir die omstandighede om jou! Ons bid vir jou en dankie vir die effort terwille van “signs and to make the world a better place. You are a champ!”


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