A South African company specialising in trips to the earth’s coldest and most remote continent has requested an emergency medical evacuation flight to Antarctica to rescue one of its clients Buzz Aldrin – one of the first two humans to walk on the moon.
The mercy mission was confirmed on Thursday by the National Science Foundation (NSF)‚ which manages the US Antarctic Program.
“The National Science Foundation has agreed to provide a humanitarian medical evacuation flight for an ailing visitor from its Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station to McMurdo Station on the Antarctic coast and then to New Zealand‚” the organisation said in a statement.
“The patient is Buzz Aldrin‚ who‚ in 1969‚ became one of the first men to walk on the Moon‚ as part of the two-man lunar landing crew of Apollo 11.
“The request to NSF‚ which manages the US Antarctic Program‚ came on December 1 (local time‚ US stations in Antarctica keep New Zealand time) from The Antarctic Company‚ a private tourism firm based in South Africa‚” it said.
It is unclear at this stage if Aldrin was a customer who had used the company to travel to Antartica.
The air bridge between the South Pole and McMurdo will be done using a ski-equipped LC-130 cargo plane‚ flown by the 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard.
“The flight to New Zealand will be scheduled as soon as possible. NSF will make additional statements about the patient’s medical condition only as conditions warrant‚” said the statement.
Dr Vasily Kaliazin‚ a director of The Antarctic Company told TMG Digital that Aldrin was a client who had travelled to the South Pole but he was unaware of the rescue operation.
The NSF is a US federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of science and engineering‚ “tasked with keeping the United States at the leading edge of discovery in areas from astronomy to geology to zoology”.