Daring rescue saves expert at Antarctica base

Australian jet makes rare winter landing on risky ice runway to evacuate US scientist in need of emergency surgery.

    Australian government A319 Airbus succeeded in landing at McMurdo Station on the tip of Ross Island [AFP]
    Australian government A319 Airbus succeeded in landing at McMurdo Station on the tip of Ross Island [AFP]

    An Australian aircraft has made a rare mid-winter emergency flight to Antarctica involving landing on an icy runway to evacuate a member of a US government expedition in apparent need of urgent surgery, US authorities have said.

    The US National Science Foundation said the medical evacuation was carried out on Thursday when a A319 Airbus from Australia's Antarctic research program was due to land with the American patient in Christchurch, New Zealand.

    The Airbus had already completed the most perilous part of its journey when it touched down on an ice runway or landing strip known as Pegasus near McMurdo Station, one of three year-round research outposts the National Science Foundation
    runs in Antarctica.

    Flights to Antarctica are usually only made in the summer, but the NSF said the patient, an American member of one of its projects, "may require immediate corrective surgery".

    Antarctica is currently emerging from its six-month-long night. There is now a period of twilight during the day that may have assisted pilots in landing on the ice runway.


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.