Little people doing huge things
December 11, 2003 6:45 AM   Subscribe

Austrailian pilot stuck in Antarctica That story is interesting enough, but the background on the pilot (just your typical nurse-midwife homebuilt avionics adventurer) available here is fascinating. I love reading these stories about common folk following their dreams and accomplishing huge things. Dare I say inspiring? Lifted from SlashDot
posted by dirtylittlemonkey (13 comments total)
But both the Americans and a nearby New Zealand base refuse to give him the fuel, saying they do not want to encourage tourism in the Antarctic.

True. You start selling fuel in the Antarctic, next thing you know.... MTV Spring Break Antarctica 2004.
posted by bradth27 at 7:04 AM on December 11, 2003

If they're not running a gas station, they are certainly running a hotel. Room and board? Pffft.
posted by jon_kill at 7:11 AM on December 11, 2003

Here's some more info on Jon.
posted by angry modem at 7:23 AM on December 11, 2003

Inspiring? He went in there with no backup plan and expected other people to jump and bail him out. What if he ran out of gas far from anywhere, rescuers would have risked their own lives to rescue him. That is not heroism it is reckless endangement of other people.

There is a myth about Antartica about man versus nature. In the old days it was true, you went on a mission and you either came out or died trying. It was true heroism. Those days are gone, you can still die trying but other people will try to save you in the process, it is false glory.
posted by stbalbach at 7:31 AM on December 11, 2003

Bah.. stbalbach: Yes, I find building your own aircraft and flying aroung the world a few times to be inspiring. Now once the RocketGuy gets his thing going I might raise the bar a bit.
posted by dirtylittlemonkey at 7:43 AM on December 11, 2003

I'm with stbalbach. The high Alps have been opened up to tourism, and now every year rescuers are injured and die because of idiots who want to go and "conquer nature" without adequate planning.

The whole "extreme adventure" concept looks to me like a steaming pile of lifestyle marketing. It's about as inspiring as the guys who try to "test their personal limits" in hot-dog eating contests. Let's stop celebrating people who selfishly take risks for their own little personal satisfaction, and reserve the word "hero" for those who take risks to help other people.
posted by fuzz at 8:07 AM on December 11, 2003

The guy is an idiot.

My father crewed a S&R boat here in British Columbia for about 15yrs. And he probably spent much of his time helping stupid people. His favourite were the one who went sailing with only a road map from the BCAA as a nautical chart.

Yes, I am impressed he made his own airplane, but I would be much more impressed if he also had some sort of contingency plan as well.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 9:19 AM on December 11, 2003

"The US actually don't run a gas station in Antarctica... and nor does New Zealand," Antarctica New Zealand Chief Executive Lou Sanson told the Associated Press news agency.

That could be the best quote I've heard all week.
posted by jonah at 10:16 AM on December 11, 2003

Hmm, OK, so I guess I am prejudiced, but I didn't know that the term midwife could be applied to a man,
I figured it would be some word in the husband- family, like husbandry. Oh-well.

Also, here is the Antarctic Sun, on-line newsletter of mcMurdo station.
Administered by Raytheon so at least some of your American tax dollars are well spent,
as for whether they have a gas station, I don't know.
posted by milovoo at 10:42 AM on December 11, 2003

The whole "extreme adventure" concept looks to me like a steaming pile of lifestyle marketing.

Of course it is. But many of you here and on /. seem to be implying that all "adventure" of this kind falls in the same category. No matter how much marketing bullshit there is, it doesn't make mountain climbing any less worth doing.

This guy failed, so sure, enjoy the schadenfreude all you like. But I think his motivation was probably good, even if his plan was inadequate.
posted by sfenders at 10:47 AM on December 11, 2003

contingency plans? you are kidding, right? he was flying his single-engine prop plane over antarctica, i think you all caught that... my god. give the man his fuel and let him go.
posted by kid_twist at 11:14 AM on December 11, 2003

It's tragic that our governments don't recognize this for what it is -- a fantastic profit opportunity!

...the scientists should be offering the guy all the fuel he needs, at the wholly-reasonable price of $500/liter or thereabouts.
posted by aramaic at 12:33 PM on December 11, 2003

No, the US or New Zealand don't run a gas station in Antarctica. What they do instead is run scientific research stations to study astrophysics, marine biology, and the ozone hole. I know this because I just spent a winter at the South Pole (I was a cook).

While it's noble to want to accomplish a "first" at the pole, it's unwise to not properly prepare for an expedition with the expectations that others will be there to bail you out if you run into trouble.

Johanson seems like a nice-enough guy, but if the National Science Foundation or NZ-Antarctica use their resources to aid him in completing his expedition, they will find themselves in this same situation again and again (especially since this one has received so much press, at least here in New Zealand).
posted by culberjo at 2:28 PM on December 11, 2003

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