16 January 2013
Air Force Air Cargo handler Corporal Nicola Lang at Scott Base in Antarctica
Sending fish parts, penguin bones and live clams to New Zealand from Antarctica is not your usual run of the mill job, but for Air Force cargo handler Corporal (CPL) Nicola Lang it is part of a normal day in Antarctica.
CPL Lang, 25, is currently deployed to Antarctica as part of the NZ Defence Force Scott Base Support Team who provide communications, plant operations, cargo handling and operations scheduling support. The team of eight personnel are drawn from Navy, Army and Air Force.
CPL Lang attended Queens High School in Dunedin and joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) in 2005 as an alternative to going to university. Back in New Zealand she works at Air Movements at Rongotai in Wellington as an Air Mover - managing passengers and cargo through the terminal, and dealing with VIPs and foreign visitors.
"It’s a great job and in the three years I’ve spent at Air Moves I have travelled to a large number of places including Darwin, Townsville, Dubai, Afghanistan, Penang and now Antarctica," she said.
At Scott Base CPL Lang processes all the inwards and outwards cargo for the permanent staff and the scientists who stay at the base.
"Some of the scientific samples can be a bit strange. I’ve sent back live clams, penguin bones and dissected fish as well as scientific samples like rocks and ice cores.
"The people are the best part of the job. There’s a huge range of different people here that come from diverse backgrounds.
"The environment is pretty amazing and I’ve managed to get in some cross country skiing and have enjoyed doing the walks around the base," adds CPL Lang who returns to New Zealand later in February.
The NZ Defence Force has been involved in Antarctica for over 50 years, supporting Antarctica New Zealand and the US Antarctic Programme, helping New Zealand play its part in the international effort to safeguard this pristine environment.
Around 200 NZ Defence Force personnel will support the mission at various stages this season. The NZ Army Light Engineering Team will carry out a number of projects to ensure facilities and equipment can withstand the harsh winters. The mission will peak in February during the annual supply ship offload where Defence personnel will work round the clock in 24 hour daylight and freezing conditions to unload containers and move cargo to McMurdo and Scott Bases. Throughout the season the tri-Service Scott Base Support Team provide communications, plant operations, cargo handling and operations scheduling support.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force provides a number of C-130 and B757 flights moving supplies and personnel, an Airdrop Rigging Team assists with a C-17 training drop, a small number of personnel support the US Air National Guard with maintenance tasks, and the Harewood Terminal Team in Christchurch are kept busy throughout the season. The Air Force also provides emergency recovery and search and rescue standby for US aircraft operations
For further information, contact Defence Communications Group on 021 487 980.