Moai on Easter Island

Moai on Easter Island

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The coolest ATV ever: The Hagglund

One of the first things that I noticed when I got off the plane in Antarctica was all the strange vehicles around.  Some of them were modified versions of vehicles that many people would see every day such as a Ford F-350 or a passenger bus, but here the F-350 has tracks and the bus has tires as tall as I am.  Others were new to me like the Tucker Sno-cat, Pisten Bully and Hagglund.  Here are two more recent articles by some of my coworkers about the vehicles of Antarctica and Ivan the Terra Bus.

Hagglund 007, also called Moonraker, parked near the wind turbines between McMurdo and Scott Base.

At first I saw the Hagglund as one of the least appealing looking vehicles around.  I saw it as a pretty boring box with tracks.  Unfortunately, sometimes it is hard to be happy with what you have, but I had always wanted to drive all the other types of vehicles that were cruising around town and out on the sea ice.

After a full summer of driving the Hagglund a few times a week, it quickly grew on me.  After driving them all around McMurdo Sound and Ross Island I learned about all the gnarly terrain that these vehicles can cover.  They are supposed to be able to traverse a 30 degree slope before they flip over, but the pucker factor starts just after 10 degrees.   They are also supposed to be amphibious, but the bilge pumps in ours don't work and it really wouldn't make that much of a difference anyway because none of the doors fully seal.  Back on that topic of always wanting more: the Kiwi Hagglund has all of it's working parts AND they have carpeted ceiling!

Hagglund 007 during SAR training on the McMurdo Ice Shelf during a mid-day sunset.

They Hagglund was put into production in 1980 after a couple of prototypes were tested.  This might explain why it looks like a box with a set of tracks.  They are used all over the world primarily for military, search and rescue and firefighting use.  But they seem to be becoming more popular as a recreational vehicle.  If you are so inclined you can purchase one here.

A few other people helped me love the Hagglund even more.  One woman on a recreational trip last summer had worked in McMurdo for a few years and one of the things on her Antarctic bucket list was to ride in a Hagglund.  She was super excited to just sit in the cab and get a few pictures taken, let alone zoom across the bare sea ice at around 20 mph in it.  They are reported to top out at 34mph; I think I've hit 25 or 26mph going downhill.  Stats also say that it can hold 17 people, but with all of our search and rescue gear we can barely fit our whole SAR team of 10 people in it.

During the second medevac this winter the crew from the C-17 took more photos of the Hagglund than anything else at the airfield--granted it was dark and there wasn't much else to see.  I've definitely come to love the Hagglund over the last eight months down here.  One of my favorite parts about the Hagglund is sitting in the backseat with a pair of earmuffs (since the engine is right in the center between the seats) and being lulled to sleep by the smooth rough sound and vibration of the vehicle.  If I don't get to drive any other type of vehicle in Antarctica I'll be pretty happy with the Hagglund.

Even the penguins love the Hagglund.  Penguins waddle and slide up to anything that is new in the environment.  This led to some amazing encounters this summer, but here these penguins soon lost interest in us and headed toward Hagglund 120, otherwise known as Hansel.  Hagglund 121, Gretel, spent most of the summer in the shop.

1 comment:

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