HIPPO II: Flight 10 - Northern Polar Regions

November 21, 2009

Research Flight #10 (RF10) was completed and was a success. The NSF/NCAR GV reached 83º North and completed five dips including low approach in Fairbanks. All of the dips were to 500 ft and all were over the recently formed ice cover with occasional large cracks, some of which showed open water. Interesting contaminated air masses were observed on the out-bound leg of the flight. On the return leg, the NSF/NCAR GV climbed to 45,000 feet and entered stratospheric air with high concentrations of ozone. High temperatures in the stratosphere (-41C) did not allow the NSF/NCAR GV to reach altitudes higher than 45,000', even though the pilots tried.

Despite the combined effort of the entire crew and the use of night vision goggles, no polar bear sightings were reported. (Bummer...perhaps next time). Snowfall and darkness at the last dip at 83º North did not allow the team to spot for bears in the Polar night, so after completing the last 500 ft level leg, they turned around and headed back for Anchorage. Unfortunately, they did not return far enough South in time to see a second sunrise of the day as the crew was able to in January. The moonrise was reportedly quite nice, however.

Video: RF10 Forward Looking Camera