Pushing the limits: How two sick men were rescued from dark and freezing South Pole
Going to the edge of the world to save to lives...
Two days after winter began in the Southern Hemisphere - the sun will not rise at the South Pole till in September - a team of determined professionals pushed the limits of what can be achieved by the man and his machine.
Two workers, employees of Lockheed Martin, fell sick at the Amundsen-Scott station run by the US National Science Foundation. The station is located just 250 metres from the geographical South Pole.
They had to be evacuated...
No flight operations are carried out Amundsen-Scott from February through October - the coldest and darkest months – it was too risky!
Enter the specialists: Canadian company Kenn Borek Air, which provides contractual logistical support to the Antarctic Program. They had carried out two similar operations in 2001 and 2003 but in better weather conditions.
The challenge was bigger this time but the team -a pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer and medical worker – was nonplussed.
Making a trans-continental journey from their base in Canada, the crew flew into Rothera, a British station on the Antarctic peninsula on Tuesday. Their machine - A specially designed twin Otter turboprop plane that can operate in freezing temperatures.
After taking rest for 10 hours, the crew, taking advantage of a favourable weather condition window, embarked on a 10-hour, 1500-mile dark and cold trip to Amundsen-Scott.
With the aid of South Polewebcam and some light because of the full moon, the Kenn Borek Air aircraft landed on compacted snow at the Amundsen-Scott Station.
Another 10-hour wait later, the plane lifted back into the dark Antarctic sky with the two sick men onboard and returned to Rothera.
The men have since been shifted to Chile.