At least one sick worker from a U.S. research station at the South Pole is now flying toward medical help, thanks to rescuers from Alberta.
A Twin Otter plane owned by Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air took off on the return flight Wednesday morning. The 24-hundred kilometre flight from the remote outpost in the pitch black and frigid cold of the Antarctic winter is so treacherous, only two medical evacuations have been attempted in the last 60 years.
Peter West with the US National Science Foundation says it’s still a perilous 10-hour flight back to the British Rothera Station on the Antarctic Peninsula.
“It’s cold, it’s very dark.” West says. “It’s Antarctica, so they’re crossing a huge and empty territory. Antarctica itself is the size of the US and Mexico combined, so there are many factors they’re dealing with.”
However, West says that fuel line freezing isn’t one of them.
“The Twin Otters are rated to fly in temperatures as low as minus 75 Celsius, and the temperature didn’t as far as I know at pole reach that that temperature during the flying period.” he says. “On average, the pole temperatures are about minus 60.”
There was the possibility another patient would have to be flown out, but West couldn’t confirm either way. (ms, News Talk 770)