Chance of a lifetime – Carsten Zillgen, Pilot
Ever since I was a young boy, I knew which path would lead me through my professional career. The great joy I felt when taking off towards the sky and flying away in addition to my general interest in aviation, made me become a professional pilot. It all started in a gliding club when I was 14 years old. Then my first step into a helicopter was later followed by 26 years of service in the military and for a civil air rescue operator. Now, with the help of just a little bit of luck – or was it fate? – I may call myself one of the pilots joining the Polarstern expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctica.
After extensive preparation and trainings for the mission, I found myself flying to Tromsoe, Norway, to embark the research vessel Polarstern for my very first arctic expedition on August 3, 2018. While it took years to prepare myself professionally, I had then only a short time to get used to the ship, the freezing cold of the Arctic, the movements of the waves etc. Plus, I had to meet my new team and catch up on the rules and regulations on the Polarstern. During this expedition we had the chance to repeatedly fly to the coast of Greenland transporting the scientists to the right location to get samples of rocks and sediments for seismic research. All the while surrounded by ice floes, snow covered summits, sharp pointed glaciers and pure wild nature.
However, the most difficult challenge I had to face was staying away from my loved ones for such a long time. Though, after all, missing them showed me more how much they mean to me and that I always carry them with me in my heart.
As incredible as it sounds after so many years of operating helicopters, there is always more to learn and discover and I’m sure, this journey was only one of the many delightful experiences yet to come!
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