construction worker here

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    Operator Guy

    Hey all. I just found this board after reading and searching the net for the last few days.  I see they have dozer operators down there and thats what I do.  I’ve read a bunch of threads here but nothing comes close to answering my specific questions and points so here goes.
    1)  I saw people saying they were traveling from all over to go to the job fair.  Must I go to this job fair to gain employment?  I live in NY and I’m not going to Colorado just to hand my resume to somebody.  Not that I cant be bothered, but I just dont have that kind of money to spend on something that might have me being 1 of 500 people applying for the same job.
    2) I saw somewhere that winter people can bring 150 pounds with them.  Now is that 150 in the suitcases you bring from home, 150 that is seperate and gets palatized (TV’s, computer, blankets etc),  or does it have to do with the weight of the gear that gets issued in NZ. 
    Basically what im asking is how much stuff can i walk out of my house with.
    3)  For the winter people that are there, are all the recreational activities still going?  I’m sure the holicopter rides and travel oriented stuff is scratched, but are the bars, gym etc all still open?  What about the bases radio station and AFN/AFRTS?
    4)  I plan on  bringing a laptop as I saw someone say he had one in his room. Does shortwave radio work down there?  What about a scanner (the kind that scans radio signals, not pictures)?  And what about XM or Sirus salalitte radio?  Can their signals be recieved down there?  I know if I ask them they’ll have no clue  :p
    5) Now for the big one.  I have searched and searched for a sit saying “I ran a dozer at McMurdo and made this much money”, but I havnt found one.  I’m hoping beyond all hope someone on this site can come under an assumed name (or e-mail me) and give me a general range for the salary the earn down there doing my job.  I suspect the company might instruct you not to go spreading that info around, but help a brother out if you would. 
    6) How long does this whole process take?  I plan on calling the number listed tomorrow.  I’m hoping he says they need my job to be filled for the next rotation.  If he does and likes my resume, what is the first step?  Physical and dental I’m sure, done at my own cost.  If thats passed I’m guessing its the phyc(sp?) evaluation.  If passed…..I go somewhere to interview?  Colorado?  Assuming a get clearance on all my tests and they like me, how long should I expect to wait to go?  Does anyone get picked up and leave on the next rotation or does everybody have to wait a few years at least?  If these events are out of order please let me know.
    7)  Now this is what I am and what I’ve done.  I operate dozers, loaders, excavators as well as forklifts if need be.  I was in the army for 7 years doing that. 
    Ive been to:
    1) Hawaii- volcanic desert on “the big island”
    2) Alaska- In summer, on Annette Island, near Ketchikan.
    3) Macedonian/Serbian boarder with the U.N.  Ran a dozer mostly clearing a really, really long road covered with lots and lots of snow.  Real cold.
    4) Spent a year in Germany drinking beer mostly
    5) Spent a month in the Mojave desert running a dozer and driving a “Hummer” or a HMMWV.
    6) Spent a month in Lousianna operating in a swamp basically.  Lots of mud and lots of rain.  We had to sleep outside in that stuff too.
    During the 4 months in Hawaii and Alaska I shared a room with either 30 or 20 guys with bathrooms not only shared by all, but also down the block.  Some thing for the year in Macedonia, but the showers were in the building and only shared by about 150 guys living on that floor.
    The bottom line here is that I’ve been in worse situations then what this place sounds like, and I handeled it all just fine.  Since the 3 years I’ve been out I havnt gone anywhere and I hear theres nothing like a winter in Antarctica. 
    I’m hoping in 5 or 6 months to be standing beside one of you down there, freezing, and cursing the day we ever decided to make the trip.  I cant wait!


    Well, a few questions and about as organised as anything here.
    I found the job site after typing in “antarctic employment” on a search engine. I sent in the online app and I got a call back after about 6 weeks, I was due to deploy in August but messed up the passport and had to leave in October for Mainbody instead. I was in touch with them by e-mail and phone during the process and did not meet anyone from te company until I got into LAX to fly to New Zealand. I did not meet anyone from my department until the plane down to the ice itself so you do not have to go to the job fairs, it ay help but its not required.
    I believe that people who are depolying for 6 months are allowed only 75 pounds weight, those staying for a year get the 150 pounds allowance. You get your Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear and what you do not wear counts as part of your allowance. You are allowed a carry-on as well as your laptop on the flight, anything big will have to be shipped from Cheech through the APO, but they may be a while before it gets here.Anything you have shipped from the states shall be going through the same APO. Blankets and bedding are available here unless you prefer to bring fitted sheets.
    Bars are open less frequently and a few activities are still ongoing but I have heard they are less due to weather. I heard that the workout areas are open all year. The radio and TV are still available and as bad as ever.
    A lot of us here have laptops and there are phone lines which you can connect to the network in but no broadband in the rooms yet. Not sure about shortwave and scanners, heard there was a SW club here but not certain. No XM or Sirius radio but you may be able to stream in off peak times when bandwidth usage is lower.
    Not sure about the money other than to tell you that you will be earning less here than where you are, its about 56 hours a week and so not the most l;ucrative prospect available.
    I got all my paperwork done in a few weeks and the medical and dental were not a problem at all. As I wrote earlier, I applied in May and was due to leave in August, heard a lot of folks went the same way and some who waited much longer, depends on the needs.
    Sounds like you are crazy enough for this place and were well trained for here while you were in Germany. Most dorms have 2 per room except 155 where you may have 3 other roommates and gang showers. Winter deploys are sent mostly after new years.
    I am here 7 weeks now and sue to be here until next August, so you may indeed be standing next to me wondering how the hell we ended up here after all.
    Best of luck in your quest.

    Operator Guy

    Alright, thanks for that usefull info.  What I got the most out of that is that i dont need to travel to get the job and its possible to leave somewhat quickly.  The other stuff I’m still shadey on  Thanks though


    Hey Operator Guy;

    You dont have to turn in a resume at the Denver office or go to the Job
    fair, just follow the instructions at and be sure to submit an
    application. I would recommend sending it with return reciept so you know
    it makes its way to the Raytheon Office. As for the wages paid…that is a
    company secret, if you work as a 49er or other organized labor pool then you
    may be a bit disappointed with the first years salery paid bi-weekly but if
    you work in a merit shop you might be somewhat pleased. You would be
    working for the Government thru Raytheon Polar Services and you should know
    your government doesnt like to pay very well until they know you have
    experiance (down there). First and formost you need the “Adventure Spirit”
    to go there the first year. Take a look at the web site I listed about, it
    has a section called the Participants guide…that can answer many of your
    questions. I was there as an Electrician two year, the place has its ups
    and downs but most of all its “Up's”. Its worth the experiance for a summer
    season (next summer, this one is under-way) or winter if you like it cold
    and darn about 3.5 months of the season 24/7 and verying degress of DARK the
    rest of the 6 months.



    Operator Guy
    Here’s my take on your questions.
    1)As Lucky and Rick both said, there is no requirement to go to a job fair or visit the Denver office. If you email an application, it will get thrown in the pile with the other 500 people applying for the job, many of whom never had an intention of going. Going to the job fair gives one advantage. You meet the recruiters and if you are lucky you can get phone numbers to keep in touch. As with any job hunt anything you can do to make you stand out from the masses helps. I think most of the people who go to the fair and get hired would say the experience is worth it.
    2) Winterovers get 150 pounds baggage allowance on the flight down here. Summer people get 75 pounds. This includes everything you check including cold weather gear. It does not include anything you stuff in your pockets or your hand carry bag. The hand carry must fit in an approximately 2 cube box. None of this includes anything you mail to yourself. The mail gets low priority on flights and may get delayed for a month or more, but if you are willing to pay priority mail rates then you can mail most anything that will fit the US Mail size limits. If you are a winter over then mail early as the last flight is around Feb 25 and we don’t get another flight in until the end of august. Your package could sit in Christchurch for the whole winter.
    3)Recreation.-What makes a good winterover person is an ability to inventive about recreation. The bars are open, but not as often, All the gyms are open, but there aren’t enough people for serious teams. The most popular winterover sport is bowling. Some years over half the population gets into the bowling leagues in winter.
    The aerobics and weight gyms are actually easier to use in the winter as there are less people vying for the same machines. We have a recreation dept, but they tend to do things that impact the entire station. The inventive people get together in small groups and do their thing. For the most part if you are game to host a small rec event and do the work to organize it, then the recreation dept will do all they can to support it. By the way in the summer the helo rides and snowmobile trips are by lottery, so don’t expect that you will get on. Ask any more rec questions later.
    4)By all means bring the laptop and digital camera as well. You can go to the coffee house or computer kiosk and plug into the net. The connection is something like one dsl link that is shared by everyone at the same time, so the speeds can be very fast or very slow depending on how many are on at the same time. You cannot connect in your room during the summer. In the winter there are a limited number of dial up connectons. The speeds are16 to 50kbs. Very Very slow. Convient in your room but easier and faster to use in the coffee house. We get great shortwave signals down here if you can put up an antenna. The ham radio operators will often let you join them at the ham shack and let you go on the air or just listen around the world.  Don’t bring a scanner as all you can do is scan the same channels you listen to all day long as an operator. I’ve never heard of anyone geting XM or Sirus so I’m of no help there.
    5)Pay. Cant help you there. I’ll agree with the others that the pay is generally less than the same job in the states. However all your expenses are covered. The flights are free, the food is free, no electric bill or rent, the med clinic is free. Most people would say that even though you make less per hour, the net result is you have more money in the bank at the end of the year than you would have back home. A side benefit is travel. At the end of your contract you are dropped off in New Zealand with a free ticket home to use whenever you like. Most trade the ticket in to help pay for trips to the islands, Australia etc.And that’s after you play in New Zealand for a while.
    6)The wait? No telling, especially if you aren’t going to fair. I’ll let the others answer than one.
    write back with more questions
    hope this helps


    — Antarctic memories

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    Operator Guy

    Thanks for all the info.  Any of you know by chance approx how many operators they have in the summer or winter?  I was wondering if the pay rate is higher in winter too.  Thanks in advance


    The exact # of operators is something that only Mike Peel can tell you since
    he is down there again but I can tell you that they hire more in the summer
    season than in the winter months since there is a lot more going on down
    there during the summer season. Just fire in an application and take a


    Operator Guy

    Well I talked to someone today that told me they actually need an operator NOW for the summer.  I guess I could leave late since I think all the summerers are already there.


    Go for it! But before you pack your bags….Vote in this election. I have
    no Idea what your political side is but if you dont earn over 200,000.00
    dollars a year and keep an open mind with all the issues…not just a couple
    that are intended to hit your panic button I sugest giving this country a
    fresh start with Sen. Kerry. He's a working mans man, he also believe's in
    our second amendment rights as well as Everybody's rights under our
    constitution. Which by the way…you wont have while your working on the
    Ice, but hey…its only for about 5 months.


    Operator Guy

    Hey, for those of you down there now, are the operators ever at the base?  If theyre 400+ miles away working on a road they certianly arent coming back too often, especially since a dozer travels around 7 mph.  I’m thinking they might rotate half the operators back and forth every couple of weeks.  Is this true?


    I think you’ll find all the dozer operators working within 8 miles of McMurdo all the time.  But what do I know, I’m a shuttle driver.  Best wishes for a safe season.  Ice Friend


    When you get hired you will generally work out of either McMurdo or the South Pole stations. At McM most of the work is done to support McM activities. At this time of year the operators have been working up to about 10 miles out building the snow and ice runways. Doing road maintenance and support for construction also are regular things. There are duty snow removal and forklift support operators as well. Some of the outlying camps that are accessable by vehicle while the ice is thick will be resupplied by Delta’s or Challenger tractors driven by heavy equipment operators. You generally would not be out for any great length of time. Fleet ops runs a 24 hour operation in the summer so you could be on night shift (a misnomer since there is no night here in the summer).
    The conditions at the pole are similar. It’s colder but not as windy, some say that considering the wind chill, it”s easier to stay warm at the pole than here at the start of summer. During the late summer the temps here go above freezing so it’s way warmer than the pole. The pole sits on top of 10000 some odd feet of ice so the temp difference is similar to being at sea level and then going to the top of a 10000 foot mountain. Big temp drop. The equipment operator jobs would be similar. Science support, runway support, town support. No dirt to move around as in McM  just snow.
    No extra pay in the winter. You will either love it or hate it. Generally if you think you would enjoy the winter then you will. If you go into it knowing you are going to have a hard time then you might. Once the last plane leaves in Feb, there is no way to get out until the next plane arrives at the end of August. You and your family have to be somewhat comfortable with the fact that if anything happens to you or them (ie sickness, birthdays, weddings etc.) you will not be able to show up no matter what.
    You seem interested enough to enjoy this place for the summer. If they need someone then apply, You probably won’t regret it.

    Operator Guy

    OK, ive seen your name around here a bunch.  You’re down there now?
    The reason I said what I did about being gone for awhile was because of this Iceway to the south pole I’ve read about.  Its possible its already done, or the plans been scrapped.  Last I heard they were 400+ miles into it.  Whats the scoop?
    And as far as applying goes, I called and talked to a lady that said there were still openings of this summer.  Now I wouldnt think I’d be going since its so late even if they do need someone bad.

    Operator Guy

    OK I just read the other thread.  Mike Poole.  Not that that name rings a bell or anything, but at least i know who you are now.

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