A rescue mission is underway at the South Pole in an effort to save the life of a worker to save the life of a employee of Lockheed Martin, which provides logistical support at the station.
The South Pole rescue is currently underway in one of the most inhospitable places on the planet.
A small Twin Otter plane is en route from the outer edge of the frozen continent to the Amundsen-Scott Station - a 10-hour flight to the bottom of the world, the National Science Foundation said.
As North America celebrates the first days of summer, the South Pole is enshrouded in total winter darkness with unimaginably cold temperatures that hover around 60 to 70 degrees below zero.
At those temperatures, plane equipment can malfunction and fuel and hydraulic fluid can turn to jelly.
“Antarctica is cold, dark, and the mission dangerous for even the most experienced pilots,” according to a tweet from Alexandra Witze, a correspondent for the journal Nature.
Your #SouthPole correspondent is going to disappear for a little while now to meet another deadline.
— Alexandra Witze (@alexwitze) June 21, 2021
Only two other winter rescue operations have ever been successfully attempted — in 2001 and 2003 — since the station opened some 60 years ago.
“We are very, very concerned and will be until this is over,” said Kelly Falkner, director of the foundation’s polar programs.
The name of the sick worker has not been released, nor has his or her condition. The worker is an employee of Lockheed Martin, which provides logistical support at the station. A second person may also need to be evacuated.
There are 48 people “overwintering” at the South Pole, according to the National Science Foundation.
This year, the last flight left the pole in mid-February. The next one was not expected until November.