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South Pole Rescue: Small Plane to Try to Land on Skis in Dark

Image: South Pole Rescue: Small Plane to Try to Land on Skis in Dark

Aerial view of the U.S. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. (DAVID MCCARTHY/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 21 Jun 2016 08:13 AM

A rare South Pole rescue may be attempted this week with a small airplane landing on skis in the dark to evacuate at least one sick seasonal worker at the Amundsen-Scott research station at the bottom of the world.

Two Twin Otter Canadian airplanes landed at Antarctica's Adelaide island Monday at the British research station Rothera, where one is waiting for allowable weather conditions to complete the 10-hour trip to the South Pole. Forty-eight people live at the Amundsen-Scott station, reported the Washington Post.

The trip is being made in the middle of an Antarctica winter, with a six-month long polar night, where temperatures can fall to minus 100 degrees, noted the Post.

"We try to balance our decisions with all of the risks involved," Kelly Falkner, the director of polar programs for the National Science Foundation, told the Post. "It's a very serious decision that we take to move in this direction."

The National Science Foundation said an unidentified crew member requires "a level of medical care that is unavailable at the station," reported NBC News.

"After comprehensive consultation with outside medical professionals, agency officials decided that a medical situation at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station warrants returning a member of the station's winter crew to a hospital," the National Science Foundation said, per NBC News.

Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air, the company involved in the evacuation, has done two similar missions. The plane will land in snow without a runaway, along with being in complete darkness.

The Calgary Herald said unpredictable weather and howling winds will also present a challenge for the airplanes. A lack of fuel options also leaves the trip with few margins of errors, noted the newspaper.

The U.S. Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center and the University of Texas Medical Branch are assisting in the evacuation, said NBC News.

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A rare South Pole rescue may be attempted this week with a small airplane landing on skis in the dark to evacuate at least one sick seasonal worker at the Amundsen-Scott research station at the bottom of the world.
south pole, rescue, plane, land, skis
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2016-13-21
Tuesday, 21 Jun 2016 08:13 AM
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