Australian jet in Antarctica rescue mission

August 9, 2012

An Australian medical team and government jet have been dispatched to Antarctica to attempt a landing on an ice runway to rescue a sick scientist from the United States' McMurdo Station base.

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), a branch of the government's environment department, said the US National Science Foundation (NSF) had requested assistance in the tricky emergency mission.

NSF spokeswoman Debbie Wing said no US aircraft were available so Australia agreed to loan an Australian A319 Airbus to fly the patient out. The Royal New Zealand Air Force will provide search-and-rescue coverage for the flight.

"The Australian team will be positioned in Christchurch, New Zealand later today and will fly to McMurdo Station when weather and light permit," the AAD said in its statement.

Antarctica is emerging from a six-month period of night and Wing said the pilots plan to arrive at an ice runway near the station during a "period of twilight at mid-day that could assist pilots in landing."

She did not identify the patient but said he or she "is currently stable but may require immediate best delivered at a more capable facility than available at McMurdo."

AAD director Tony Fleming said all nations with an interest on the icy continent "work together very cooperatively in these sorts of in Antarctica to provide support when and as required."

Medical evacuations from Antarctica are relatively infrequent, with the last such rescue taking place in October 2011, when a US scientist was airlifted from McMurdo after suffering a stroke at the Amundsen-Scott .

Approximately 30 nations operate permanent research stations in including the US, China, Russia, Australia, Britain, France and Argentina.

Explore further: NSF-chartered Plane Crashes While Taking Off from Remote Antarctic Field Camp

Related Stories

Australia's Antarctic claim 'at risk'

August 8, 2011

Australia holds the largest claim to Antarctica but risks losing it in any race to unlock the frozen continent's potentially vast mineral and energy resources, an influential thinktank said Monday.

South Pole website celebrates a century of science

December 15, 2011

A century ago, two groups of explorers crossed the Antarctic continent, competing for the distinction of being the first to stand at the geographic South Pole. Norwegian native Roald Amundsen and his men won that race. His ...

Recommended for you

Horn of Africa drying ever faster as climate warms

October 9, 2015

The Horn of Africa has become increasingly arid in sync with the global and regional warming of the last century and at a rate unprecedented in the last 2,000 years, according to new research led by a University of Arizona ...

Could 'The Day After Tomorrow' happen?

October 9, 2015

A researcher from the University of Southampton has produced a scientific study of the climate scenario featured in the disaster movie 'The Day After Tomorrow'.

Image: Sentinel-1A captures Azore islands

October 9, 2015

This Sentinel-1A radar image was processed to depict water in blue and land in earthen colours. It features some of the Azore islands about 1600 km west of Lisbon, including the turtle-shaped Faial, the dagger-like Sao Jorge ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.