MAYVILLE - David Akin has already been to the very edge of the world.
Now he's going back.
Akin, a Mayville native, will be traveling to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, where he will work as a heavy equipment operator for the United States Antarctic Program.
Mayville resident David Akin will return to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, to work as a heavy equipment operator for the United States Antarctica Program. Akin departed recently for a six month deployment.
"The United States Antarctic Program is part of a much larger worldwide ongoing effort to collect scientific data in many realms of scientific study," Akins said. "I am scheduled to depart on or about (Saturday) for a six-month deployment to work for the fleet operations department of Raytheon Polar Services, who is the primary contractor that manages all the logistical operations and facilities for the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Program on the continent of Antarctica."
It wasn't a national search or word of mouth which alerted Akin to the opportunity to work in Antarctica. Rather, it was a small, 10-word classified advertisement from the Stars and Stripes newspaper, which Akin read while he was stationed in Weatherfield, England, as a combat engineer with the 819th Red Horse Squadron.
"It (the ad) said, 'Spartan living conditions, long working hours and harsh, unpredictable weather,'" Akin said. "I said to myself, 'Someday I'm going to do that!"
"The mission was science on a grand scale."
At first, Akin said the scale and scope of the program was hard to comprehend.
"As I became involved in my first season on the ice at McMurdo Station, it became apparent that this was similar to many large-scale military operations I had been involved with, but with a twist," he said. "It was planned, organized and operated by very capable professional people from the National Science Foundation and 'the mission' was science on a grand scale. That is what makes this program so awesome."
To prepare for his return trip, Akin said he must be considered qualified in his profession, go through a thorough background check and pass a drug test. Then, he must pass a rigorous medical and dental examination as well as immunizations.
Akin said he must plan all of his expenses while traveling and the entire time he is gone. Gear and equipment must be able to clear customs.
And lastly, Akin said - bring a calling card to call home.
"Last, but not least," Akin said, "plan to share with the family and folks back home what this experience and the science that goes on down there is all about."
Once he arrives at McMurdo Station, Akin said he will be given his room assignment, go through orientation and safety briefings and then get up to speed on the status of the projects he will be working on.
"The big project for the season is to consolidate airfield operations from the three active airfields down to one," Akin said. "The one remaining will be expanded to accommodate all airfield operations to full FAA and USAF specifications."
While he is stationed in Antarctica, Akin plans use his experiences to teach students at Chautauqua Lake Central School since, he said, students will get to see real science happening in the real world.
"I am in the planning stages of setting up communications with some elementary classrooms back here in the states while I am 'on the ice,'" Akin said. "It should be an interesting educational opportunity for some local school children."
Staying in Mayville will be Akin's wife, Sheila, and son, Alexander.
While he will miss his family back home, Akin said the trip has offered him the chance to experience new things and take part in something not everyone else has done.
And, it won't just be business in the ice, snow and freezing temperatures.
"While on the ice on my last trip, I joined the local Christmas choir and ended up singing traditional Kiwi Christmas Carrols to the local host nation New Zealanders at Scott Base and the entire base population at McMurdo Station, as well as to remote field camps via short wave radio," he said. "It was fun and a great way to make many friends."