Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

Turnover Begins

Get 'em in and get out: deep-freeze temperatures at the station mean winter flight operations at Summit are fast-paced and intense, and managed to the second. Photo: Ed Stockard

At Summit Station, the turnover schedule during winter can resemble a moving target, subject to change upon change upon change, usually due to weather on the ice cap. But yesterday, despite brisk temperatures at the station, one could have set her watch by the timing of the turnover flight, which brought a new crew and fresh freshies to the U.S. National Science Foundation-funded research station at the apex of Greenland’s ice sheet.

“All was smooth and flawless,” Ed Stockard reports. That’s a fitting end to a winter phase notable for its harmony (if you don’t count the optical lollapalooza lighting the sky).

A tiny, ski-equipped Greenland Air twin otter slides in for a landing at Summit Station on Friday. The twin's exhaust hits extreme cold temperatures and creates ice fog, which lingered in the still air for some time. Photo: Ed Stockard

“Phase 1 mechanic Will Beyer had the fuel sled ready for the plane,” Ed continues.” The science techs—Katrine Gorham, Adam Maerz and Matt Okraszewski—were our ground crew operating snowmobiles and taking care of passengers and cargo. I got to play control tower dude. Despite near -60 temps and massive amounts of machine-induced ground fog all went well and in about an hour’s time the plane had come and gone. There went our peace and quiet!  But in came our salvation for a timely parole!  The next flight is ours!”

But first, a few days spent handing the reigns to the phase two team: Ben Toth, Station Manager; Shannon Coykendall, Science Tech, CPS; Don Kirkpatrick, Mechanic; Lance Roth, Science Tech, IceCaps; Ben Gross, Science Tech, NOAA. PFS station operations personnel, manager Tracy Sheely and mechanical engineer Russ Howes, are also along to help with transition and check on station facilities.–Kip Rithner

Another twin otter will return to Summit in about a week to retrieve the phase one team. Photo: Ed Stockard (

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