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NSF Press Release


NSF PR 03-100 - September 12, 2003

Media contact:

 Peter West

 (703) 292-7761

Update: Planes go to Antarctica

ARLINGTON, Va.—Aircraft are expected to arrive this weekend at British research station in Antarctica, where they will await the first favorable weather to fly to NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station to evacuate an ill worker spending the winter there. NSF manages the three U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) research stations and coordinates all U.S. scientific research and logistics support on the southernmost continent.

The patient, an employee of Raytheon Polar Services Co. (RPSC), of Centennial, Colo., NSF's Antarctic logistics contractor, has requested anonymity. NSF is honoring that request. The patient remains in stable condition, but concern about a worsening condition is prompting the evacuation plans.

Two Twin Otter aircraft, operated by Kenn Borek Air Ltd. of Alberta, Canada, under contract to RPSC in support of the USAP, are expected to arrive at the British Antarctic Survey's station at Rothera by Sunday. There they will await the first available weather window to fly to the Pole.

Due to the complex interaction of flight logistics and Antarctic weather, NSF officials continue to consider whether a U.S. military aircraft, staging from New Zealand, could be used to assist in an evacuation, flying to McMurdo Station, NSF's logistics hub on the coast of Antarctica, where it would meet the Twin Otter arriving from the Pole, some 1200 kilometers (800 miles) away.

NSF also has requested through the New Zealand Antarctic Program to have C-130 Hercules aircraft from the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RZNAF) 40 Squadron stand by to make a flight to McMurdo to meet the Twin Otter.

The various contingencies are being considered to accommodate the possible deployment of a long-range aircraft as well as to take advantage of features of different aircraft to use the several airfields at McMurdo Station.


For South Pole updates see:

For a fact sheet on astronomy at the South Pole, see:

Several recent observations taken at the South Pole have help describe the nature of the universe in its infancy. For more information, see:

For more information about Kenn Borek Air Ltd., see:

For background on the evacuation of Dr. Shemenski, see:

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