South Pole flier stranded in Antarctica

The first person to fly a home-built single engine plane over the South Pole is stranded in Antarctica after his aircraft ran short of fuel, a New Zealand official said on Wednesday.

    Jon Johanson in front of his single engine plane

    But the US and New Zealand bases there have refused to supply any fuel, the official added.

    Australian pilot Jon Johanson left Invercargill, New Zealand, on Sunday, and flew his RV-4 airplane 5880 kilometres and 26.5 hours to cross the pole. 

    He had planned to continue to Argentina, but stronger-than-expected headwinds ate into his fuel reserves, forcing him to land on Tuesday at the McMurdo base run by the United States, just a few kilometres from New Zealand's Scott base.

    No petrol station

    Johanson's partner, Sue Ball, said from Australia that the flier wanted to return to New Zealand and had asked both bases for 400 litres of fuel. 

    Both refused.

    "The US actually doesn't run a gas station in Antarctica... and nor does New Zealand," Antarctica New Zealand Chief Executive Lou Sanson told The Associated Press by phone.

    "Currently he is unable to get fuel." 

    The bases try to deter tourists, insisting visitors must be self-sufficient. 

    "He appears to have gone in there without a search and rescue plan and without a contingency plan if things go wrong, and he's expecting the New Zealand and United States governments to pick up and be his contingency"

    Lou Sanson,

    Antarctica New Zealand c

    hief executive

    "He appears to have gone in there without a search and rescue plan and without a contingency plan if things go wrong, and he is expecting the New Zealand and United States governments to pick up and be his contingency," Sanson said, adding that the bases had not been notified of the flight. 

    However, Sanson said US staff at the McMurdo airfield provided Johanson with food and shelter. 

    "We are prepared to give him a seat out on the first available plane" back to New Zealand, Sanson said.

    "And we can make arrangements to ship his plane out (by sea) at his cost." 

    Johanson has previously flown the same plane around the world three times, and over the North Pole.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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