Canadian's to the rescue


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Total darkness’: Calgary planes fly to South Pole for risky rescue mission

[[COLOR=#0000ff]Kenn Borek pilots assist Antarctic rescue](javascript:setCurrClipPage(1);playClip(892819);setCurrClipIndex(0):wink: Pilots from a Calgary-based company are heading to the south pole to retrieve an ailing scientist. Bill Macfarlane has more.[/COLOR]
Last Updated Sunday, June 19, 2016 2:51PM EDT
Two Calgary bush planes are flying to the South Pole in a rare and risky mission to rescue a worker in medical distress from a remote research station.
The Twin Otter aircrafts, from Alberta-based airline Kenn Borek Air, were dispatched to the isolated Amundsen-Scott South Pole station because they are designed to endure severe cold and are equipped with skis, allowing them to land in snow, the U.S. National Science Foundation said in a statement.
Officials say the planes could arrive at the research station as early as Sunday, depending on weather conditions. Details of the worker’s medical condition and identity have been withheld to protect their privacy.

But the harsh Antarctic winter – which sees temperatures drop as low as -80 C as darkness blankets the continent – will add a layer of extreme difficulty to the emergency rescue, according to the NSF.
“As there is no tarmac runway at the South Pole, the aircraft must land in total darkness on compacted snow,” the NSF, which runs the research station, said [COLOR=#006699]in a press release.[/COLOR]
The planes will attempt to reach the ailing worker and bring them “to a hospital that can provide a level of medical care that is unavailable at the station,” the NSF said.
Flying to the South Pole in the midst of winter is exceptionally rare. Flights to and from the research station usually aren’t chartered between February and October “due to the extreme cold and darkness,” the NSF said.
But the Calgary-based airline has experience in these challenging conditions. Kenn Borek Air has made two similar Antarctic evacuation missions before: one in 2001 and another in 2003.
The small propeller-driven planes left Calgary Tuesday on the first leg of the cross-continental journey. They were chartered to arrive in southern Chile and then fly to the U.K.-led Rothera Research Station, located on the northern tip of Antarctica, the NSF said.
From there, one plane will remain in Rothera to provide search-and-rescue capabilities, while the second crew ventures another 2,400 kilometres inland to the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.
A pilot who flew in Kenn Borek’s previous two rescue missions said the 10-hour journey from Rothera to Amundsen-Scott will be riddled with challenges, but the crew is getting plenty of support.
“It’s not just Kenn Borek carrying a couple of guys on a Twin Otter. You feel like you’re part of a bigger team project heading down there,” pilot Sean Loutitt told CTV Calgary.
Indeed they are. Due to the mission’s complexity, crews with be working in tandem with several U.S. experts, including weather specialists from the U.S. Navy, medical experts from the University of Texas and a Colorado-based Antarctic logistics contractor.
Limited fuel capacity means the crew will have to work with Antarctic weather forecasters to determine if an ideal “weather window” opens up, and allows them to reach the base, Loutitt said.
“Ultimately, it is the guys in the plane that have to make that decision to continue or not when there’s questionable weather,” he said.
An NSF spokesperson told that, as of Sunday afternoon, the two planes remained on the ground in Punta Arenas, Chile.
“They are awaiting favorable weather to fly to the British Antarctic Survey Station at Rothera, where they will prepare the aircraft and await favorable weather to make the flight to the Pole,” NSF spokesperson Peter T. West said in an email.
The Amundsen-Scott South Pole research station is one of three year-round NSF-led operations in Antarctica. According to the agency, 48 people spend the winter in the station studying a wide array of topics, including the atmospheric effects of greenhouse gases, dark matter, black holes and the history of the universe.
Three Canadians from Kenn Borek Air died in 2013 during an Antarctic flight when their plane crashed into a steep slope on the Queen Alexandra mountain range. At the time, the NSF [COLOR=#006699]held a memorial at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station for the crew, who were flying from the station when the accident occurred. [/COLOR]

I wish then well… Roy

The Latest: Plane Lands at South Pole for Medical Rescue

The Latest on efforts to rescue sick worker from U.S. science station at South Pole (all times EDT):
5:45 p.m.
Federal officials say a rescue plane has landed at the South Pole to evacuate a sick worker from a remote U.S. science station.
The small plane made the 1,500-mile, nine-hour trip on Tuesday through the dark and cold from a British base on the Antarctic peninsula. Two of the 48 people at the South Pole station are ill and at least one of them needs medical care off the continent.
The National Science Foundation, which runs the station, said the flight crew will rest for 10 hours. Then early Wednesday morning, the Twin Otter plane will return to the British station and then head to a hospital outside of Antarctica.
The station is isolated from February to October because it is too cold and dark for routine flights.
11:24 a.m.
A daring South Pole medical rescue is underway. An airplane left a British base in Antarctica Tuesday for the 1,500-mile trip to evacuate a sick worker from a U.S. science station.
Athena Dinar, spokeswoman for the British Antarctic Survey, said one of two Twin Otter planes began the trip Tuesday, while the other is still at the Rothera station on the Antarctic peninsula.
The National Science Foundation which runs the South Pole station decided last week to mount the unusual rescue operation because a staffer needed medical care that can’t be provided at the station. The foundation has not identified the individual or the person’s condition but said the worker is an employee of Lockheed Martin, which provides logistical support.

Weather permitting will take of in ten hours for return trip .
So cold the fuel freezes

I have always told my American friends in Florida that their TV news casts are censored.

Watched Good Morning America and CNN yesterday and today. Both times, they covered the rescue attempt and both times they failed to mention that the rescue was being performed by Canadians!

This is the second time the same Canadian firm has flown to Antartica to perform a rescue.

Why the paranoia about the Americans recognising the Canadian help?

Last Updated Wednesday, June 22, 2016 11:57AM EDT
A Canadian plane has left a South Pole research station with two ailing workers, partially completing a risky mid-winter mission.
The U.S. National Science Foundation said on Facebook that the Canadian Twin Otter turboprop plane flew out of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station early Wednesday morning.

**Canadian plane at South Pole for medical rescue **
Risky South Pole rescue mission on hold until weather improves
‘Total darkness’: Calgary planes fly to South Pole for risky rescue mission](

The Twin Otter aircraft flying an Antarctic medical-evacuation mission leaves the National Science Foundation’s Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station en route to the British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera Station. (Division of Polar Programs - National Science Foundation / Facebook)
While earlier reports said there was only one worker in need of medical attention, NSF spokesperson Peter West confirmed to CTV News Channel that there were in fact two.
The plane will now make the roughly 2,400-kilometre journey to the British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera research station, located on the Antarctic peninsula. From there, the patients will be flown off the continent to receive medical attention.
West said the flight from the Amundsen-Scott station to the Rothera station is expected to last about 10 hours, and a medical professional is aboard the plane in case the patients require medical help.
Flying to the South Pole during the winter is extremely rare. Lack of light and extreme weather conditions make flying risky, with temperatures so low they can freeze jet fuel. On Wednesday, the temperature at the South Pole was -60 C.
West said this mission is especially daring, coming so late in the winter season.
“This has never been attempted before at this time of year, this time of winter in Antarctica,” he said. “It’s been done slightly earlier in the winter, but not at this time of year.”
West said, while the pilots have so far faced relatively mild weather conditions, they remain vigilant.
“The pilots are not relaxing their caution at all, because they are flying in the darkness over Antarctica,” he said. “I’m sure they’re being very, very careful.”
There have only been three emergency evacuations from the Amundsen-Scott Station since 1999. Alberta-based airline Kenn Borek Air provided the planes for two of those missions, and supplied two planes for this evacuation.
In 2013, three Canadians from Kenn Borek Air died when their plane crashed into the Queen Alexandra mountain range in East Antarctica.

Canadian plane reaches Chile with 2 patients rescued from South Pole

A Canadian plane carrying two ailing workers from a remote research station at the South Pole has arrived safely in Chile.
The aircraft left Antarctica on Wednesday evening and arrived in Punta Arenas at approximately 9:41 p.m. ET.
Earlier in the day, British Antarctic Survey spokeswoman Athena Dinar said the two workers, whose medical conditions and identities have not been released for privacy reasons, had left the Rothera research station located on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.
**W5: Flight into Darkness **

The Twin Otter aircraft flying an Antarctic medical-evacuation mission leaves the National Science Foundation’s Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station en route to the British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera Station. (Division of Polar Programs - National Science Foundation / Facebook)
The plane had picked up the two workers from the remote Amundsen-Scott station, located roughly 2,400 kilometres from the Rothera base.
The approximately 10-hour flight from the South Pole station to Rothera was perilous, Peter West with the National Science Foundation told the Canadian Press.
While earlier reports said there was only one worker in need of medical attention, West said Wednesday that there were in fact two.
A second Twin Otter plane that had been waiting at Rothera as a backup aircraft completed the final leg of the journey to South America.
The evacuation flight made headlines this week due to the perilous nature of the mission.
“The conditions at this time of the year…are extremely cold in the South Pole,” Dinn said. "In the southern hemisphere, we’ve just gone into the coldest day. Yesterday was mid-winter.”

  • [FONT=“Arial”]Flying to the South Pole during the winter is extremely rare. Lack of light and extreme weather conditions make flying risky, with temperatures so low they can freeze jet fuel. On Wednesday, the temperature at the South Pole was -60 C.[/FONT]

West said this particular mission was especially daring, as it comes so late in the winter season.
“This has never been attempted before at this time of year, this time of winter in Antarctica,” he told CTV News Channel. “It’s been done slightly earlier in the winter, but not at this time of year.”

[FONT=Calibri]Canadian pilots dodged an iceberg on take-off, flew in ‘total darkness’ during South Pole rescue mission[/FONT]

The hardest part of piloting a bush plane to the South Pole, says a Canadian flight crew, was not landing in complete darkness. Nor was it flying 2,400 km over Antarctica, in a bid to rescue two sick workers from one of the most isolated human outposts on the planet.
[FONT=Georgia]Greatest fear was running out of soup: Canadian crew downplays dangerous rescue mission to South Pole]([/FONT]

The Calgary-based crew that flew to a South Pole research station on a daring medical mission sang songs and snacked on hot soup during their perilous trip.
Pilot Wally Dobchuk and the rest of his team from Kenn Borek Air played down last month’s assignment as they cracked jokes at a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday.
“Running out of spicy Thai soup, which we did,” deadpanned Dobchuk when asked about his greatest fear.
Read more…
No, the hardest part was taking off.
To reach the Pole’s Amundsen-Scott research station on June 21, the Calgary-based crew left from Rothera, a British station on the Antarctic coast — and immediately had to navigate a slim, snowy runway, mountainous scenery and icebergs jutting into the air.
“It wasn’t a ‘holy cow, we have to get out of the road’ kind of thing,” said Wallace Dobchuk, the flight captain. “(But) it could have been a problem if we had any mechanical issues on take-off. Once we got past that, we were into total darkness.”
Through it all, they emerged safely, and won praise from Antarctic research veterans for their tenacity and courage. The National Post spoke with Dobchuk, first officer Sebastian Trudel and engineer Michael McCrae days after the crew returned to Calgary — two weeks after their dramatic mission came to an end.
Leah Hennel / Postmedia NewsPilots Wallace Dobchuk, right, and Sebastien Trudel, centre, with maintenance engineer Mike McCrae, left, in Calgary on Tuesday.

What conditions did you encounter on the South Pole flight?
Dobchuk: It was a calm morning at Rothera, with overcast skies. During our two-hour preparation period, the weather started to deteriorate. I couldn’t really tell what the sky was doing, with it being dark. But the wind picked up to about 50 km/h.
By the time we departed, we were almost thinking we would miss our weather window to leave there, because we knew there was another frontal system moving in that day into Rothera. We were trying to get out in front of it.
We got up into cruise and basically just cruised along in smooth conditions for the entire flight. The farther along the trip we went, the colder it got. The whole flight took 9.6 hours.
How did you decide when to leave for the South Pole?
Dobchuk: I think the weather we wanted was more based on Rothera. The South Pole, we knew was going to be good for a couple days — cold and clear. It was forecast to be quite cold in the South Pole, around -70 C, so we were hoping to get there before that.

But Rothera was our big one. It’s a coastal base, and the weather there is more of a factor. There are high winds. It’s in mountainous terrain. The runway is only 2,800 feet long. On the end of it is an area where icebergs typically gather. We actually had one of the icebergs lit up with Ski-Doos, these all-terrain vehicles. We pulled a couple of those down that belonged to the British guys, and they lit up the one iceberg that was right off the end of the runway.
The direction we took is actually northbound, straight towards a glacier and mountainous area. We know that’s coming, but we can’t see it. We had to make a turn back the other direction out over the water, where there’s a lot of wind flow coming off the glacier.
Turning downwind out over the bay at a low altitude is probably the most uncomfortable thing of the whole trip — the first five, 10 minutes.

What was landing at the South Pole like?
Trudel: The folks there, they groomed a real nice ski way. They used their tractors, whatever equipment they had there that they could use in the cold. The only difference landing there rather than another airport at night was the darkness around the site.
How dark was it?
Trudel: Just walk in a closet and turn the light off, I guess.
McCrae: There were some pictures taken with high light exposure that really deceived what the actual light looked like to us. The moon was out, but the only real way you could see was with the reflection of the station lights.
Dobchuk: Sebastian and I just briefed for it as if we were in clouds — as if we couldn’t see anything. The whole flight to the South Pole, we were in dark conditions. The window of twilight at Rothera is between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. local time. We departed prior to that and did the whole thing at night.
British Antarctic Survey via Associated PressTwo planes from Kenn Borek Air used in the rescue mission, shown here at Rothera, a British research station on the edge of Antarctica.

How did you feel at the end of the flight?
Trudel: We knew two big flights were behind us — going from Punta Arenas, Chile to Rothera, and then onto the South Pole. We were tired, of course. It’s a long day. But we still had that adrenaline, excitement to get the two flights done and to get the job done.
McCrae: I think everyone was quite happy we arrived at the South Pole. It’s a very rare occurrence this time of year, to get a flight in. To see a few new faces and get the patients out, they were pretty happy to see us show up. Everyone there gave us a good hand. The cooks made us a good meal when we arrived, some good steaks.
Was it tougher than other flights you’ve made?
Trudel: We fly in lots of extreme conditions — summer, winter, fog, ice, snowstorms, we fly around in mountains a lot. All of that together, it worked out really good. If there were a doubt, we’d just consult each other and do the right thing at the right moment.
It’s a big accomplishment that we all pulled off — not only the crew that flew down, but people back in the office, the maintenance, all the logistical work. People were real happy to see us back. It was a little bit of a celebration day, for sure.
*This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. *

  • Not bad for a couple of 50 year old Canadian planes .*