Friday, February 15, 2008

Station Close

Midday Wednesday, a rumor began to circulate that due to weather, station close had been pushed up a day to Thursday. Few rumors spread as fast as a station close rumor, and within half an hour, everyone knew about it. At 4pm, an all-call went out, telling everyone their bags had to be packed and ready at cargo by 7pm, and to be ready for an early morning flight the following day.

This of course caused a mixture of joy and panic to bubble up through the community. The SPT crew went into panic mode and started filing complaints with the chain of command. Rooms were madly being packed and cleaned, and there was a general frenzy throughout the station. By dinner, things had settled down a bit, and everyone had brought out the last of their liquor stores. Several bottles of wine, champagne, and whisky later, I went to bed while the rest of SPT went to the science lab to put in one last heroic night's work.

The following morning, there was a peculiar vibe through the station. Excitement mixed with exhaustion mixed with sorrow and giddiness. SPT folks were madly dashing about putting out one last fire, then quite suddenly, it was time for the last flight. Everyone said their farewells, and the winterovers gathered beside the runway to watch it depart.

It's a tradition for the last flight to do a low-altitude flyby after takeoff, buzz the station, then wave its wings goodbye. The plane taxied to the far end of the runway, skied past us and took off, disappearing behind its contrail. About 5 minutes later, it returned, accidentally flying through the clean air sector's no-fly zone, missing the crowd by about 1/2 mile. They circled again, and this time flew directly over us, giving an impressive wave.

We're all alone now. No way out until November.

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