Evacuation flight lands safely at South Pole

April 24, 2001

A twin-engine plane has successfully completed an historic 1,300-mile Antarctic flight to the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, bringing a new physician to replace Dr. Ronald Shemenski.

Dr. Shemenski, 59, recently suffered a bout of gallstones and associated pancreatitis. The evacuation flight will return him to the United States for treatment. Dr. Betty Carlisle, recently the physician at NSF's McMurdo Station in Antarctica, will remain at South Pole station until the end of the Antarctic winter, in early November.

"I am delighted to hear that the plane has arrived safely," said Karl Erb, who heads NSF"s Office of Polar Programs. "I salute the aircrew on this historic and unprecedented flight. We all will rest easier knowing that Dr. Carlisle is on hand to safeguard the well-being of those who are helping to advance the frontiers of science through their work at the station."

The de Havilland Twin Otter, flown by a Kenn Borek Air Ltd. aircrew, touched down at 8:02 p.m. EDT at 90 degrees South latitude.

The 1346-mile flight from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) Research Station at Rothera was completed in less than 10 hours. The plane left Rothera at 10:34 a.m.

The temperature at the Pole at the time of landing was -68 degrees Celsius (-90.4 degrees Fahrenheit) with a four-knot breeze.

The aircrew will remain on the ground at least another 10 hours to ensure they are sufficiently rested before attempting the return flight to Rothera. The departure of the return flight will be contingent on favorable weather at Rothera.

Scientific research at the South Pole Station ranges from the study of the origins of the universe to the behavior of the "ozone hole."
Editors: B-roll of Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, an animated locator map, and Twin Otters at Rothera Research Station are available.
Contact NSF's Dena Headlee, 703-292-8070/dheadlee@nsf.gov.

National Science Foundation

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