Canadian pilot who died in Antarctica fall once called conditions 'sheer hell'
A Canadian helicopter pilot has died of injuries he sustained in a fall down a crevasse in Antarctica.
David Wood, 62, slipped and fell down a crevasse on Monday, during a helicopter refuelling operation near an Australian research station. Wood fell about 20 metres into the crevasse, and was critically injured in the fall, according to the Australian government.
The fall occurred during a refuelling operation involving two pilots, each flying solo in their helicopters. The pilots were sling loading fuel, which consists of transporting barrels hung by cables from the bottom of the aircraft.
The Australian government says the pilots had already dropped off their fuel barrels, and had just landed to retrieve the cables when the fall occurred.
"After disembarking from his aircraft, Mr. Wood fell into a crevasse," the government said.
The other pilot on the mission made radio contact with Wood after his fall, then flew back to Australia's Davis Station, located about 45 minutes away, to get help.
Wood was rescued from the crevasse about three hours later, and airlifted back to a medical facility with critical injuries. The Australian government says Wood was treated by "a team of specialists on station and in Australia via telemedicine."
However, they were unable to save him, and he died of his injuries.
Wood had more than 30 years of experience as a pilot, and had "worked extensively in both the Antarctic and Arctic," according to Dr. Nick Gales, Australia's Antarctic Division Director.
"Mr. Wood was a respected colleague and friend to many in the Australian Antarctic program, with which has been involved for a number of years," Gales said in a news release.
In a February 2015 interview with another Davis Station employee, Wood spoke at length about his flight experience, which included multiple stints in Antarctica. He said he keeps returning to the frigid continent because "it reminds me of the Canadian Prairies in winter."
Wood also described flying in Antarctica as "sheer hell."
Wood was from Winnipeg Beach, Man., and often spent his summers flying charters and fighting forest fires in northern Canada, his friend told the Canadian Press.
Wood said in the interview that he has a son and daughter living in Melbourne, Australia.