Antarctic mercy mission to evacuate sick scientist

01:18, Sep 22 2009

A sick American scientist has been evacuated from Antarctica after a full-day mission yesterday.

After receiving a request for help from US authorities, a Royal New Zealand Air Force Hercules left Christchurch at 7am and arrived back at 10.50pm with the 51-year-old on board.

He had been suffering cardiac problems and was immediately transferred to Christchurch Hospital. His condition is understood to be stable.

An air force spokesman said the Hercules landed at the base at 2.30pm, refuelled and loaded the sick man on board before taking off for the "uneventful" return flight about 4pm.

The man had been working as part of the US Antarctic Programme and was believed to be in a serious but stable condition, the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the air force is preparing for its spring flights to Antarctica, which begin next month.

The series of flights will bring home staff who have wintered over, take in summer staff and deliver fresh supplies.