A Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) cargo plane will fly to McMurdo Station, Antarctica to transport several U.S. citizens to New Zealand, some of whom require medical attention that cannot be provided in Antarctica.
The wheeled, C-130 aircraft will leave Christchurch, New Zealand on Monday, April 23 (Christchurch time) to pick up the patients from the main U.S. research station in Antarctica. The patients are all employees of Raytheon Polar Services Co., which supports Antarctic research under contract to the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). At their request, personal information and information about their medical conditions is being kept confidential.
The RNZAF is undertaking the mission at the request of NSF through the New Zealand Antarctic Institute. NSF manages the U.S. Antarctic Program. New Zealand and the United States cooperate extensively in the airlift of researchers, cargo, and support personnel to and from Antarctica during the research summer season, which lasts from October to February.
"The USAP is extremely grateful to the RNZAF for undertaking this mission," said Karl Erb, who heads NSF Office of Polar Programs. "This action exemplifies the spirit of partnership that characterizes the relationship between the U.S. and New Zealand Antarctic programs."
The flight is unrelated to the evacuation of Dr. Ronald S. Shemenski from NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.