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South Pole Station Rescue: Plane Completes Risky Transport of Two Sick Lockheed Martin Crew

Jun 24, 2016 05:22 AM EDT
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A Twin Otter plane rescued two sick workers at the remote research facility on the South Pole. The dangerous rescue was completed afther plane survived a 10-hour flight to the station from Chile and back.
(Photo : Rob Jones/National Science Foundation via Getty images)

The South Pole is located at the Southern Hemisphere of the Earth's axis location. Reaching the South Pole is one of the most dangerous flights on Earth; the farthest point in Antarctica from any coastline. The inaccessibility of the South Pole makes it interesting for explorers but risky for those who work there. Like the two workers who were successfully rescued by a plane after a dangerous rescue mission using a Twin Otter plane.

The two unidentified patients from the research facility Amundsen-Scott on the South Pole was transported to Chile from the Antarctica in a 10-hour flight using a two propeller plane Twin Otter. The patients are "seasonally employed" by Lockheed Martin Antarctic Support Contract.

The Twin Otter aircraft is the only aircraft capable of flying in sub-zero temperatures. A condition that prohibits most planes to reach the South Pole in Antarctica. The plane successfully transported two workers in need of immediate medical treatment from a research facility on the South Pole. The plane survived a 3,000 mile roundtrip according to the Guardian.

From Chile, the flight of the Twin Otter aircraft lasted 10 hours per way carrying a three-member crew, a medical team and two patients. The rescue mission was completed at 9:41 pm on June 24. From Punta Arenas in Chile, the two patients will be taken to an undisclosed location where they will be given ample medical treatment said a spokesperson of Amundsen-Scott.

Aside from the hazards of the flight, the crew had to determined if the other patient is sick enough to risk being flown on the dangerous rescue flight. "They are balancing the health and safety of the flight crew and the health and safety of the patient," Peter West, spokesperson of Amundsen-Scott said in an interview with CNN.

Amundsen-Scott on the South Pole is managed by the National Science Foundation and their policy will not risk a mid-winter flight if it is not a necessary because flying in those conditions also means endagering the lives of their workers. But after consultation with medical professionals, they have decided to transport the patients in a medical facility where they will be given proper medical care not available in South Pole.

Despite the success of the rescue and transport of the ailing patients, there was no information released about the condition of the patients including their identity. But in report from CBS said that the patients are two U.S. contractors with Lockheed Martin and according to a nurse at the hospital, one patient is a female suffering from a "complicated" gastric problem and a male worker who allegedly suffered from a heart attack.

Kenn Borek, the heroic Twin Otter pilot, flew the aircraft with two propellers designed specifically to fly in extreme cold and to land on skis on the snow.


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