Central Plateau, North Island

Central Plateau, North Island
View from a friend's farm

Monday, 27 June 2016

Antarctica Rescue in June 2016


Antarctica Credit NASA

Antarctica, Photo Credit of NASA.

All photos and text in italics  are courtesy of the Internet, the National Science Foundation and other journalists  and photographers who have followed this rescue and evacuation from start to successful ending.

There was very little coverage of this on TVNZ, and I have to thank Julie Palais  ( Program Director at NSF) for her updates on Facebook.

A twin otter plane lands at Amundsen-Scott  South Pole Station, photo courtesy Robert Schwarz, National Science Foundation

A Twin Otter Plane lands at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, photo is courtesy of Robert Schwarz, National Science Foundation ( NSF) June 2016.

On Tuesday 14th June, 2 Twin Otter planes from Kenn Borek Air Limited left  Calgary , Alberta, Canada, on their journey to the South Pole,  to   evacuate  a seriously ill worker,  a seasonal worker with Lockheed Martin  at the Scott-Amundsen base who required hospitalisation.  This is mid winter there, no daylight, temperatures about minus 60 Celsius,  (-70F) with the wind chill bringing it down to minus 75 Celsius.. The distance is a staggering 16,700 km, or 10,376 miles. On each plane there was a pilot, co-pilot, engineer and  a medical team member.

Kenn Borek Air  has a fleet of  43 aircraft including  26 de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter.

On 26 April 2001, Kenn Borek Air used a DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft to rescue Dr. Ron Shemenski from the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station. This was the first ever rescue from the South Pole during polar winter. To achieve the range necessary for this flight, the Twin Otter was equipped with a special ferry tank.

Details of the DHC-6 Twin Otter for you who like technical details.

The aircraft's fixed tricycle undercarriage, STOL ( Short take-off and Landing)  abilities and high rate of climb have made it a successful cargo, passenger, and medical evacuation plane.

Maximum Seating: 19 passengers, 2 pilots

Maximum Payload: 3,500 pounds

Cargo Door Size: 56" x 50"

Baggage Area: 126 cubic feet

Maximum Range: 4.5 hours, 750 miles

Cruise Speed: 165 mph

Fully I.F.R. Equipped, Including Global Positioning System

Operates on small wheels, floats, skis, wheel skis, tundra tires

Twin Pratt and Whitney PT6A-27 turbines rated at 620 shaft horsepower each


Kenn-Borek- DHC-6 300 Twin Otter on skis

Kenn Borek  DHC-6 300 on skis at Rothera, Antarctica.  Photo courtesy Internet.

This was a huge undertaking and  and included contribution from many areas , weather forecasts from  the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems        ( SPAWAR) Centre Atlantic,  expertise from the University of Texas Medical Branch,  various contributions from ASC.,  NSF’s Colorado based Antarctic logistics contractor as well as assistance from other nations.All those at airports who gave flight tracking data information and updates.

Tuesday 14th June 2016.

From Calgary to Denver, Colorado, 5 1/2 hours, 1447 km (899 miles)

Denver to Texas 1495 km (928 miles)

Texas to Liberia  ( Daniel Oduber Intl, Airport) 2306 km (1432 miles)

Liberia to Ecuador 1446 km ( 899 miles)

Ecuador  to Punta Arenas 5932 km (3685 miles)

Punta Arenas to Rothera 1612 km (1001 miles)

Rothera to South Pole 2497 km, (1551 miles) a 10 hour flight.

  The planes arrived at Rothera on June 20th.’The plane had to be fitted with skis to enable it to land at the South Pole, where there is only compacted snow for a runway. One plane flew to the South Pole, the other remained at Rothera as a back-up if a rescue was needed.

Thursday, June 23, 2016, 2:36 PM - Canadian aircraft have completed the medical evacuation of two people working at a research base in Antarctica.

The two workers, details of whose condition have not been released, were extracted from a base at the South Pole, which is enduring the harsh conditions of the Antarctic winter, and ferried by two Canadian-owned Twin Otter aircraft to Chile. The patients were later taken to an undisclosed medical facility.

One of the Twin Otters flew from the British Antarctic Survey's Rothera Station some 2,400 km to the U.S. National Science Foundation's Amundsen-Scott research base at the South Pole. After arrival, the crew rested 10 hours, after which the weather conditions were deemed suitable to fly out with the two patients, along with a medical technician.

That Twin Otter returned safely to Rothera, where the patients were transferred to a second Twin Otter, which flew them to Punta Arenas in southern Chile. They arrived safely on Wednesday.

I am sure that all who were involved in this mission can be grateful for a successful outcome, and those of us who cannot imagine the vastness of  Antarctica can read that it is  larger than USA, sorry all my friends in Canada, I could not find the overlay map for you. But Antarctica is about 1.4 times as big as Canada. This is USA overlaid on Antarctica.


USA overlaid on Antarctica for comparison

Quotation of the day from Dr Martin Luther King Jr.,

“ Our lives begin to end

the day we become silent about things that matter”

Greetings from Jean


eileeninmd said...

Hello Jean,

I was following this rescue mission on the news. I hope the two workers who were sick are OK now. I am so happy there was a successful outcome. Happy Sunday, enjoy your new week ahead!

TexWisGirl said...

an amazing effort. and thankfully, a successful one.

Inger said...

There has been coverage of the rescue misson here. Such brave and caring people. And your overlay map is amazing.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

What a rescue!

Thanks for sharing ~ FlowerLady

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

I missed a few of Julie's posts, and enjoyed catching up on what I missed -- Thanks for posting. It truly was captivating and an amazing rescue, and I'm so glad that it went well for everyone!

Jocelyn Thurston said...

I heard this story on the news. I am in awe of these teams who are able to rescue people under harsh conditions. Heroes amongst us.

Susan Heather said...

Thanks for posting that - I heard one small item on Radio New Zealand news.

Hannah said...

That was an amazing trip, I did not realize it would take so many days to fly down there, Jean.

Tanya said...

Very unteresting. I'm hoping to hear that the workers are in good health and will be able to rejoin their crew.

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

What a journey. I wonder what trouble w get into when we explore where we can't survive!
(ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

Nancy J said...

Update from the Internet. The two patients have been transferred to hospital by ambulance, and all details were to be kept private. Nothing so simple, as I read that a nurse had given out the facts that one lady was the most serious with gastric problems and was taken off by stretcher, the other a man who had suffered a heart attack, and he walked from the ambulance. Surely private should be just that, I am sure they are both so grateful for all the help and rescue, and since then have found a blog page with more photos. 100belowzero,wordpress.com
and this gives a far better picture than I did. You will need to find her page labelled medevac.

KB Bear said...

I hadn't heard a thing about it but what a huge undertaking! I'm glad it was successful.

Jim said...

What an incredible rescue!
I didn't know that Antarctica was that big, Jean. Thanks for this information and geography lesson.

Sandra Walker said...

Well I sure didn't know Antartica was that big either! I am feeling a little, make that very proud, that a fellow Canadian, an Albertan no less, were the rescuers! I was born and spent most of my life in Edmonton Alberta, just 3 hours north of Calgary. Contemplating that kind of cold and utter darkness makes me shiver. It also makes me even more jaw-dropped and eyes wide contemplating the expeditions on foot to the South Pole...Thanks for this!

Lara B. said...

Oh my Goodness - they could make this into a movie! Thank goodness for brave men and women like this. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to work on Antarctica, and how much worse i would be if you were ill.

Fundy Blue said...

What a fascinating post, Jean! I had heard of the successful rescue expedition, but not with so much detail. when I first started to scroll down, I thought Antarctica was some beautiful flower until its lower half came into view. I did like the technical data on the Twin Otter. Bush planes hold a special place in my heart, even bigger ones like the Twin Otter. I do remember being proud to hear that it was Canadian airplanes out of Calgary that undertook the rescue. You can take the Canadian out of Canada, but you can't take the Canadian out of my heart! But I hadn't hear that they landed in Denver! So double proud! It's gratifying to see how so many people working in so many places can come together to help one person. This is humanity at its best, and so often we're hammered with what is bad. Thanks for sharing this uplifting story, my friend!

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

I haven't heard anything about this, other than what you have written!