A Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) crew have for the first time carried out a medical evacuation of a patient out of Antarctica using night vision goggles.
The aircrew on board a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules left Christchurch for McMurdo Station at 10.25pm yesterday, arriving back in Christchurch shortly after 2pm today, the NZ Defence Force (NZDF) said in a statement.
The 13-person crew, including two NZDF medical personnel, used night vision goggles to land the aircraft in the dark on the ice runway – the first time the RNZAF has flown a medevac mission to Antarctica using the technology.
The patient, a member of the United States Antarctic Program, was not suffering from life-threatening injuries and is now receiving further medical treatment.
“The aircrew and supporting New Zealand and US personnel in both Antarctica and in New Zealand did an outstanding job to complete this difficult medevac,” Air Commodore Shaun Sexton said.
RNZAF base Auckland commander group Captain Andy Scott said the Air Force team had been attempting to travel to Antarctica since last Saturday, but their efforts had been hampered by poor weather.