Sunrise as Mission Scientist!
This photo is from the last C-130 flight I was on, from my seat in the cockpit of the plane. We had just turned around after reaching a longitude of 85 West and were on our way back to Arica. Night flights leave around 3am, and after many hours of darkness, these sunrise moments lift everyone's spirits and energy spectacularly. The coolest moment on the flight is usually right after sunrise, when the plane dips back into the cloud for more in-cloud measurements. It is hard to capture with a photograph. It gives me a sense of being immersed in the cloud, like being wrapped in a blanket.
Another really wonderful thing about this flight for me was that I was the official 'mission scientist'! A couple postcards ago I described trying out the mission scientist role, being the person communicating between the scientists and the pilots, but in that case the real mission scientist was on the plane. This time it was just me for the full 9 hours! Of course, many experienced and knowledgeable scientists were aboard, so if any problem occurred, I was not alone. We actually did have a problem -- in the first half hour of the flight, the computer system went down and we were no longer recording most of the data! I could no longer see anything on my computer about where we were, the winds, or how high and thick the clouds were! Everyone on the flight pulled together, telling each other what information they had access to, and we kept the flight going! It was a wonderful example of teamwork and dedication to science. Luckily, within an hour, a technician on board fixed the problem and things became a lot easier.
What a great experience!!
Postcards from the Field: Climate Science from the Southeast Pacific