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Canadian plane lands at South Pole for medical evacuation

Click to play video: 'Canadian planes taking part in risky Antarctic rescue mission'
Canadian planes taking part in risky Antarctic rescue mission
WATCH ABOVE: Canadian planes are now en route to rescue sick workers at an Antarctic research station. It's located in a place so remote, dark and cold that no one flies in our out this time of year and it's so dangerous that rescue missions have only been attempted twice. Reid Fiest looks at what the pilots are up against. – Jun 21, 2016

A Canadian plane has landed at the South Pole in an attempt to carry out a medical evacuation from an Antarctic research station.

The Twin Otter plane owned by Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air took off from a British station, some 2,400 kilometres away, early Tuesday morning, bound for the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, where a patient requires hospitalization.

READ MORE: 2 Canadian planes waiting to complete dangerous mission in ‘total darkness’ of Antarctic winter

The patient is a seasonal employee with the company Lockheed Martin and is in need of medical care that is unavailable at the station.

“The plane will now remain at the Pole for roughly 10 hours to allow the air crew to rest. The crew will then assess weather conditions at both the Pole and the British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera Station before flying back to Rothera,” the U.S. National Science Foundation said in a statement. A second Twin Otter plane from Kenn Borek remained at Rothera.

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WATCH: The U.S. National Science Foundation says two Twin Otter planes from Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air will wait at a British station in the Antarctic until weather permits them to fly another 2,400 kilometres to the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station to evacuate a seasonal employee. 
Click to play video: 'Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air may rescue second patient from South Pole'
Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air may rescue second patient from South Pole

It’s mid-winter in Antarctica and the foundation said flights in and out of the station are usually not planned between February and October due to the extreme cold and darkness.

The foundation said the aircraft that Kenn Borek Air flies are able to operate in extremely low temperatures and are able to land on skis. As there is no tarmac runway at the South Pole, it says the aircraft must land in total darkness on compacted snow.

Kenn Borek provides contractual logistical support to the Antarctic Program, according to the foundation, and conducted similar evacuations in 2001 and 2003.

Officials are deciding whether a second patient needs to be brought out as well, but they didn’t give any details on the person or condition Tuesday.

READ MORE: Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air may rescue second patient from South Pole

With files from The Canadian Press

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