Friday, June 24, 2016
Kudos on successful and rare winter-time medical evacuation from South Pole
I am sure that most of you are aware of the evacuation of two ill workers from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station at the bottom of the world. The South Pole is in the midst of winter, six months of darkness and brutally cold and often windy conditions. Flights into and out of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station cease from February through October, resuming in summer. This medical evacuation is only the third time workers have been evacuated from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, earlier evacuations being in 2001 and 2003 (http://www.inews880.com/2016/06/22/dangerous-antarctic-rescue-mission-continues-for-alberta-pilots/?sc_ref=facebook, http://www.nature.com/news/daring-antarctic-rescue-mission-sets-off-for-south-pole-1.20135?WT.mc_id=FBK_NatureNews).
Kenn Borek Air Ltd, of Alberta Canada has a large fleet of Twin Otters, specializing in flying into polar regions, the Arctic and the Antarctic. The Twin Otters can operate in very cold conditions, down to -75C (http://www.nature.com/news/daring-antarctic-rescue-mission-sets-off-for-south-pole-1.20135?WT.mc_id=FBK_NatureNews). Two Twin Otters left Alberta on June 14th, reaching Punta Arenas, Chile on June 16th, bad weather delayed their departure for the Rothera Research Station until June 20th. (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/kenn-borek-air-south-pole-june-22-1.3646966). One June 21st, one Twin Otter and crew, including a medical technician, made the dangerous ten-hour, 1,500 mile flight to the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station while the second Twin Otter and crew remained behind in case a search and rescue was needed (it wasn’t).
There is a nice article from the CBC dated June 17th where you a former Kenn Borek Air pilot who flew to the Antarctic on the 2001 and 2003 medical evacuation flights about what flying in the Antarctic in the dead of winter is like and the perils of such a flight.
I am very glad that these flights to evacuate the two workers from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station were successful. I know that many agencies as well as Kenn Borek Air were involved in the evacuation operations. We are all very thankful that the Twin Otters made these flights successfully. Kudos to all who were involved in the evacuation operation. A round of applause to the pilot and crew who flew to and from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, and for the pilot and crew in the second Twin Otter who were ready to fly a search and rescue.