Before the BELARE 2005 expedition

Somehow surprisingly the Belare 2005 Logistic Survey expedition kicked-off in warm Cape Town South Africa with Johan Berte attending the Dromlan meeting. In this pre-Antarctic season meeting last arrangements are made for air-support and other logistics in the Droning Maudland area of East Antarctica. Traditionally Cape Town is also the last chance to acquire supplies for the different expeditions.

Taking the first Antarctica flight of the season and prior to the planned on-site activities Johan Berte visited the Norwegian Troll station which has been upgraded to an all-year station in 2004. The first over-wintering crew took over in November and this offered the opportunity to exchange experience on the station's performance.

Visiting the Troll station helped benchmark the new Belgian station's conceptual design. Aside from the engineering aspects Johan had some time to participate in the Norwegian training program on rescue in crevasses. On the 7th of November, a call from the Russian Novolazeravskaja station abruptly ended the Troll stay. The Basler T67 airplane was already on its way from the German Kohnen station to pick up Johan and bring him to the Russian Station Novolazeravskaja.

The next days on the Russian station were used to prepare the second stage of the expedition: a visit of the construction site preceded by an air-reconnaissance of the Breid Bay coastal area. Arriving early on the Russian station also brought up the opportunity to participate in the creation of a fuel depot on the Belgian construction site on the 8th of November. This unforeseen trip to the Utsteinen nunatak before the arrival of the rest of the team resulted in a reassuring finding: the automatic weather station (AWS) and the under-surface storage trench of the 2004 expedition survived the harsh winter conditions and looked intact. With the Antonov engine cooling down rapidly only little time could be spend on site.

On the 10th of November the Spanish "Tierras Polares" expedition was flown to a location on the Antarctic plateau across the mountain range above the Troll station. Johan participated in this flight. The plateau, about 2750m above sea-level here, was found in excellent atmospheric conditions (hardly wind, clear sky and "only" -25°C). After unloading and helping with the assembly of the big sledge, the airplane returned to Novolazeravskaja, flying low over the magnificent Filmbulheimen mountain range.

Early in the morning on November 11th the second Ilyushin 76 flight of the season came from Cape Town bringing the rest of the team (Alain Hubert, Maaike Vancauwenberghe and Frank Pattyn). The team prepared for the feeder flight on the 12th. One of the last things to be tested on site was the INMARSAT satellite data transmission equipment. This didn't work as anticipated because of insufficient bandwidth.