The Flying Antarctic Dentist

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Hate these commutes…..don’t you? If people would only brush their teeth! Seems that there are dental problems on the Russian Ice Breaker “Krasin,” “savior of the American Antarctic Program,” according to Russian news releases…… and there’s only one man for the job: The Flying Dentist of Antarctica! Barbara, our PA at McMurdo General Hospital who speaks pretty good Russian, and I don our capes and helmets and team up to save Antarctica from dental decay.

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First stop is the American Icebreaker which we land on after taking a tour up the ice cut for 30 minutes.

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There are actually five ships in the area with a French Cruise Ship arriving within a day. These aren’t the “Holland America” kind of boats but huge industrial research vessels (usually Russian) that are now taking paying passengers into McMurdo. The Kapitan Klebnikov is such a vessel and is pictured below. Note Castle Rock in the upper right hand corner of the photo–see our climb of that peak in the archives.

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After departing the Polar Star and passing the Kapitan Klebnikov, we sight two distant blemishes on the foggy horizon–the fuel ship Paul Buck and our destination the Krasin. We make a smooth landing on the back deck of the Krasin and depart with our dental gear for the Captain’s suite.

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We spend about three hours on board and after our patients are taken care of are served a sumptuous lunch of borsch with sour cream, freshly baked bread then chicken and pasta. Now, that’s Russian hospitality!

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After lunch, we conduct an unescorted tour of the Krasin and await the helicopter’s arrival. On board with us is Anatoly, who will be the guest of the clinic and then McMurdo in general. He is now excited as we are as we power across the Ross summer ice towards McMurdo Station.

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The crushed ice below our spinning blades reminds me of a big daquiri which gives me a great idea when we return to terra firma. I decide that the dental department needs one of these red helicopters for better patient access and maybe Barbie and I could create action figure dolls. We imagine royalties from the new Dental Emergency TV series…..the possibilities are endless. Move over James Bond!

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