The purpose of the 97/98 Antarctic survey season was to provide survey control and vertical and oblique aerial photography around Mawson, Davis, Beaver Lake, and the Prince Charles Mountains in support of the ANARE mapping program as well as providing survey support for other ANARE science programs. The following team carried out this survey work:
Christopher Watson - Antarctic Division Volunteer Surveyor,
John Hyslop - LANDINFO Surveyor.
The Antarctic Division's Brief to Surveyors which outlines the details of the program is included in Appendix A. The survey program for Antarctica 97/8 was divided into two main areas of interest. Mawson station from Voyage 2 to 4 which included photo control of offshore islands, aerial photography of penguin colonies with the Linhof camera, Mawson tide gauge network and updating the station map.
Davis station from Voyage 4 to 5 which included aerial photography of the Rauer Group and Larsemann Hills, aerial photography and tide gauge work at Beaver Lake, and vertical and oblique aerial photography in the Southen Prince Charles Mountains. Also photo control at Scullin and Murray Monoliths and photography at Mount Brown, Mirny offshore island and features between Mirny and Davis. At Davis station surveys included Station detail surveys tide gauge connections and lake water levels in the Vestfold Hills.
At Casey station during V2 stop over survey work was requested at the wharf area, levelling and detail survey updates.
The following suggestions are made.
1. The flight program be upgraded to allow a digital map to be shown on the screen.
2. The pilots display did not work in the helicopter and the problem needs to be fixed. I suspect it may have been due to the setting in the flight program. I had difficulty understanding what all the settings meant and perhaps more documentation may help.
3. Because of 2. more reliance was placed on the air crew navigating from the monitor and hence felt the need for more control over the display eg. Zooming in and out and run selection.
4. A video drift sight would be a great advantage. If this were somehow attached directly to the camera there would be more room and less leads involved.
5. Some of the film spools were too tight on the cogged drive shaft. At Beaver Lake when loading film in a black camera bag in the helicopter I had to wind the new film onto another spool that would fit. The spools need to be checked.
The need to return the helicopter to Davis each day seems to me to be an extremely expensive requirement. To get to the Southern Prince Charles Mountains is an eight hour return trip. 11 hour flying is about all the pilots can do in a day which does not leave much time for productive work. We did have an opportunity to do aerial photography on the way but on the two days we went to the PCMs we decided to make the first priority the main destination and hope for time on the return trip, but each occasion we were too late and returned by the most direct route. I could not help thinking how much more work we could have done if the helicopters had been based at Beaver Lake for a few days.
There were also days when the weather was fine and suitable for flying in the PCMs but we could not leave Davis through bad weather on the way.
This method of operation also understandably placed pressures on using the helicopters to the fullest. The last days flying in the PCMs was done with 4 people in the back of the S76. We then were asked if we could take 300kg of equipment back from a Mawson Escarpment camp. That made photographic operation a bit cramped but by then the weather was against further photography.
I felt that through Joe Johnson, station leader and Jim Wilson, chief pilot we got excellent support for the photographic program but with the S76 deployed in the area of operation we could have achieved a lot more.