It’s 2 weeks and 1 day since I arrived in Praia, Cape Verde, and what a whirlwind it has been. We’ve been incredibly busy setting up the X-band radar and have achieved an incredible amount in a short space of time, even if I do say so myself! We’ve had a great team of people without whom this wouldn’t have been possible – James Groves and Dan Walker (NCAS IT and all round superstars), John Bradford (Radar Engineer from Chilbolton) and Ryan Neely (NCAS/ICAS Lecturer & Instrument Guru).
We spent the first 5 days putting the radar back together – not too much of a jigsaw but it had to be done slowly and carefully. Then came the momentous day of craning the radar onto the platform. If I was a cat, I think I would have lost a few lives, after being put through the horror of this procedure! I certainly think a few more grey hairs have come through. Let’s just say that things are done “a little differently” in this part of the world and we had to supervise every single part very closely or else we’d be sat crying with a rather broken radar right now. Thankfully after several hours of deliberation and much shouting, we had completed our task and went back to the hotel for a well earned rest.
The following week we got stuck into the IT, setting up the office container for operating the radar and collecting the data. Having not yet had the radar operating continuously in one location for any period of time, we’re doing a lot of things for the first time and therefore we’re discovering a lot of bugs. This whole experience has been a big learning curve for myself and the team. I think it puts us in a good position for our future projects though. It was sad to say goodbye to James and Dan last Thursday, and of course everything started to go wrong during their last afternoon! But thankfully after we got a super duper new internet link installed on Friday we could skype them perfectly this week and make progress on our to-do list.
The FAAM aircraft arrived today; it was fun to see it land and taxi past the radar. Should be plenty more photo/video opportunities over the coming weeks. As I write this I am killing time until I go to the airport to pick up Alan Blyth and Zhiqiang Cui, who are part of a group of 20 people arriving tonight to join the project, including Jim McQuaid and Hannah Price from ICAS. The first potential flying day is Thursday, I hope we’ll be ready!