View Full Version : Rescue Mission Antarctic

20th Apr 2001, 05:38
CALGARY - A pilot who has flown hundreds of hours in the Antarctic says the rescue mission now being attempted has never been done before.
Four Calgary pilots are on their way to the south pole to try to rescue an American
doctor who is suffering from pancreatitis.
No one has ever flown into the South Pole Research Station so late in the season and
Bob Heath says it doesn't get any harder than
this. "There are very little landing facilities, extreme cold, darkness," he says.

It was -62 degrees Celsius on Tuesday and the sun set for winter six weeks ago. Heath,
who is with Kenn Borek Air the same
company making the rescue mission, has flown the same Antarctic route as the southbound pilots hundreds of times. They are heading for the British research station at
Rothera. From there, it's a 10-hour flight to reach the doctor. "They'll have an hour's fuel remaining when they get into South Pole Station," says Heath. "The nearest alternate to South Pole Station this time of year is about five hours away." Heath says the pilots will have about two hours to refuel, evacuate the doctor and get out. Despite the odds, he's confident the pilots will make it.
"I would say, given their operating experience and their experience on the aircraft, that they have a very good chance," he says. Heath says with winter settling into the south pole, flying will soon become too dangerous.

CBC on-line.

Four brave guys in two Twin Otters. Best of luck, hope you don't need it.

20th Apr 2001, 08:34
RT, do you know who the crews are? I'm assuming Sean Loutit is flying one Twotter. Curious to know who the other guys are.

20th Apr 2001, 08:52
Sean Loutitt and Mark Carey in one a/c,
Tony Szekely and Matt Gacek in the other.
Two mechs also along with them.
Currently in Puntas Arenas waiting on the weather. Need a 10 hour window before heading off over Drake Passage. This was supposed to be an USAF Herc job initially. Cancelled for some reason and Kenn Borek called in.

20th Apr 2001, 14:05
I am sure I have met those guys when they ferrying twotters from Canda to the Maldives and back via Glasgow, I refuelled there aeroplanes think they were owned by Kenn Boerk Air and leased out and were being overhauled in Canada.

Good Guys!

Better to be up there wishing you were down here than be down here wishing you were up there!

20th Apr 2001, 14:30
The three LC130 Hercules that were originally intended to perform the rescue can not operate at temperatures below -55c

The current temperature at the pole is in the minus 60s, hence why the plan was changed to use the Canadian Otters, which can operate up to -75c.

23rd Apr 2001, 03:54
SANTIAGO, Chile (CP) - Canadian flight crews arrived safely in Antarctica on Saturday, completing the first stage of a daring rescue mission to evacuate an ailing American doctor from the icy bottom of the world. Flying into high winds and near-total darkness, two Twin Otter aircraft operated by Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air Ltd. left Punta Arenas, Chile's southernmost city, at 6:30 a.m. ET.
Steve Penikett, general manager of the company, which specializes in cold-weather aviation, said from Calgary the planes flew six hours, 40 minutes across the Drake Passage and landed at the British Rothera base on Adelaide Island where it was -26 C.The team will stay there about 24 hours and then, weather permitting, one of the Twin Otters will fly across the barren, ice-covered continent to the windswept station at the South Pole to evacuate the doctor while the other plane remains as a backup.

25th Apr 2001, 07:23
According to the ten o'clock news, one of the Twotters has made it to the pole. They're supposed to rest "overnight" and return to base tomorrow. Way to go, guys!

25th Apr 2001, 07:38
Plane Arrives for South Pole Doctor (http://news.lycos.com/headlines/World/article.asp?docid=APAP-South-Pole-Rescue&date=20010424)

My hat is of to the pilots of this rescue mission. The South Pole in winter. That takes courage.

25th Apr 2001, 13:55
Highly confusing. UK news sources last evening showed how the New Zealand Air Force single-handedly carried out rescue mission with a Herc, from NZ to McMurdo, but no mention of the Otters.

Looks like there are two missions going on.

[This message has been edited by newswatcher (edited 25 April 2001).]

25th Apr 2001, 16:24

Yes there are two rescue missions, RNZAF C130 to Mc Murdo for about 10 US personnel and 2 Otters for the South Pole Base Doctor.

25th Apr 2001, 18:13
From Defpotec's link to the news wire story on the South Pole rescue mission:
"Eight-seat, small, propeller plane".
They completely forgot to mention the pilots were sitting in an open cockpit, wearing leather helmets, in constant spiritual communication with Charles A. Lindbergh as they bored on through the polar night.
On the Canadian TV news last night, viewers were treated to shots of a C-130 taxying in to, presumably, McMurdo in the dark as the announcer babbled on about the Twin Otter reaching the South Pole.
When will the news media stop peddling tripe on aviation-related stories?

25th Apr 2001, 19:02
Pretty good AP newwire story out this am in states. Appears at the time of story they were still RON at the pole and would fly out today, may already be on the way. Appears they got a wx window for "only" -78 F and 11kts wind, high overcast.

Love that media...the only thing they missed was being guided to the Pole by flying saucers.

25th Apr 2001, 19:32

Go, the mighty Twotter......

Molson's, DHC Buffalos and Twin Otters...the three best things to come from Canada.

25th Apr 2001, 20:03

You obviously didn't read the newspapers; it seems they were guided to the pole by two reindeer with red lights on their noses http://www.pprune.org/ubb/NonCGI/tongue.gif

Go for it guys - you've obviously got large ones, but not made of brass :)

What goes around . . .
. . often lands better!

26th Apr 2001, 00:52
ExSimGuy - Now that's what I call Gross Error Navigation - RAA (Reindeer Assisted Approach) only available at the NORTH pole - and Antarctica just happens to be at the other end of the world! ;)

But gotta say, this adds new meaning to comment "Cool!" doesn't it?

(I Sit, I Watch, I Smile)

26th Apr 2001, 05:45
Newswatcher, over here we didn't know the Kiwis were running a rescue mission, so that makes us even. :)
Rockhound, Sean Loutitt's daddy is named Lindberg, I believe. No kiddin'.
Skybiter, shouldn't that be Moosehead, the Thunderchicken and Beaver? (Molson's gives me the trots) :)

[This message has been edited by pigboat (edited 26 April 2001).]

26th Apr 2001, 08:14
According to the late news, the boys are back at Rothera Base. Congrats!

26th Apr 2001, 19:56
Morning news today was interview with National Science Foundation head of polar programs and they made it to Rothera and were getting ready to go to Chile for a comemrcial flight back to CONUS.

First time I was in atwin Ottor was from LAX to Palmdale to Mohave to IYK. Never got over 3,oo ft and half the pax and the copilot lost their lunches. It was July and 110 in the shade and their was no shade. What an A/C.

27th Apr 2001, 02:10
"When will the news media stop peddling tripe on aviation-related stories?

It happens with every field of activity that takes more than two days to master. I don't think aviation has any sort of special arrangement with the Journalistic Tripe Factory, I really don't. In the meantime I can't help but feel that a slightly better understanding of the journalist's job wouldn't go amiss round these parts. Dull, worthy, accurate stories don't make it past the sub-editor.

If you've ever bought anything more sensational than, say, the Financial Times or the Herald Tribune, you're part of the problem too.

I am not a pilot; I am not a journalist; now I'll get back to my allotted place down the back with the other SLF. Thankyou for letting me eavesdrop on your conversations - it's fascinating (most of the time).

27th Apr 2001, 17:10
Now back in Punta Arenas. Mission completed successfully.

27th Apr 2001, 19:14
You miss my point. I was complaining of the factual errors or malapropisms made by the media in the reporting of the south polar rescue mission by the Twin Otter - typical of aviation reporting (and many other subjects of a technical nature). A journalist or broadcaster should surely be able to put together an interesting story AND get his facts right.
To call the Twin Otter a small, eight-seat, propeller plane is at worst wrong and at best misleading. It is a Canadian-designed and -built aircraft, yet the Canadian news media hardly mentioned this fact.
Like you, I am neither pilot nor journalist, merely SLF. I happen to be a geologist and I would not illustrate a paper I had written on basalt with pictures of granite. Yet the Global TV news in Canada illustrated their story on the Twin Otter mission with clips of a hulking C-130 with all four engines turning, It's just plain shoddy reporting.
That's all I have to say for the moment - I'll now join you in the cheap seats.

D Beaver
27th Apr 2001, 22:23
As an ex-resident of Calgary and someone who spent some time flying in the Arctic in Twin Otters (CSD and CSF? if I remember correctly), I have been following this thread with interest.

Having often helped to button one up for the night in "normal' conditions (-20C to -30C), I wondered if there were any special procedures used for the overnight at the South Pole (-100C with the windchill), and I was going to post a request for information .

However, this morning I found an excellent site (http://cbc.ca/cgi-bin/view?/news/2001/04/26/rescue010426) which answers my questions. There is a video report (http://cbc.ca/clips/ram-lo/hunter_polarescue010426.ram) filed from Ken Borek Air's hangar in Calgary, with shots of their Twin Otters, including a picture of their aircraft shutdown on the ground at the Pole (Rockhound - not a C130 in sight!) and more interestingly, an interview with Captain Loutitt (http://cbc.ca/clips/ram-newsworld/thomas_loutitt010427.ram) where towards the end, he provides some detail about operational limits and pre-start procedures. He comes across as very low-key and professional. Well done to the crew and all involved.

As an aside, anyone interested in Twin Otters and/or floatplanes and who finds themselves in Vancouver with time and money to spare should take the Twin Otter flight from Vancouver Harbour to Victoria Harbour and back - a magical experience - aaah de Havilland.

27th Apr 2001, 22:49
I flew the good old Twotter on the coast of Labrador for a couple of years and have great memories. Floats in the summer with 20 legs a day, some no more than 10 minutes and almost all landings in salt water. We were once tied to a dock in a tiny place called Black Tickle when the force of the wind snapped the ropes holding the dock to the shore. Picture, if you can, a Twin Otter with a 10'x10' section of dock tied to it, steaming around the harbour! Great entertainment for the residents.
Alright, alright! Enough with war stories, I know.
I never did anything that compares with the Borek guys and my hat is definately off to them.