Hugh Pickens writes "Renee-Nicole Douceur, the winter manager at the Amundsen-Scott research station at the South Pole, was sitting at her desk on August 27 when she suffered a stroke. 'I looked at the screen and was like, "Oh my God, half the screen is missing."' But both the National Science Foundation and contractor Raytheon say it would be too dangerous to send a rescue plane to the South Pole now, since Douceur's condition is not life-threatening. Douceur's niece Sydney Raines has set up a Web site that urges people to call officials at Raytheon and the National Science Foundation. However, temperatures must be higher than -50 degrees F for most planes to land at Amundsen-Scott or the fuel will turn to jelly. While that threshold has been crossed at the South Pole recently, the temperature still regularly dips to 70 degrees below zero. 'It's like no other airfield in the U.S.,' says Ronnie Smith, a former Air Force navigator who has flown there about 300 times. A pilot landing a plane there in winter, when it is dark 24 hours a day, would be flying blind 'because you can't install lights under the ice.' The most famous instance of a person being airlifted from the South Pole for medical reasons was that involving Jerri Nielsen FitzGerald, a doctor who diagnosed and treated her own breast cancer. Using only ice and a local anesthetic, she performed her own biopsy with the help of a resident welder. When she departed on October 16, 1999, it was the earliest in the Antarctic spring that a plane had taken off."
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