Plane returns with sick Antarctic base worker after daring rescue mission

A plane has left the South Pole after a nine-hour journey over the icy continent to evacuate a sick worker from a remote U.S. science station. The aircraft is now making the marathon 1,500-mile journey back to Rothera - a British base on the Antarctic peninsula. The pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer and medical worker rested for at least 10 hours before refuelling and setting off for the return leg of the trip with the patient. A second worker is also ill but it is unclear whether he too has been evacuated from the American base, which is run by the National Science Foundation.

If you are complacent it will bite you. Things can change very quickly down there.

Tim Stockings, operations director at the British Antarctic Survey in London

The workers are employees of Lockheed Martin, which deals with logistics at the station, but they have not been named and details of their medical conditions have not been released. Normally, planes do not travel to the polar outpost from February to October because of the dangers of flying in the pitch dark and cold. It was minus 60C (-75F) at the South Pole as the Twin Otter plan arrived on Wednesday. “It went all according to plan,” said Peter West, spokesman for the National Science Foundation.