Rescue Flights from VXE-6 and USCG
including the rescue of the "In The Footsteps of Scott" Expedition
MAYDAY, I SAY AGAIN, MAYDAY...
This 1984 VXE-6 rescue cover and the USCG cover further down the page serve well to epitomize what a polar philatelist seeks in his philatelic "career".
This first cover preserves a small bit of history, and a real-life drama. VXE-6, with an American pilot and a "Kiwi" Flight Lt., flew this flight from McMurdo Station, to take a recovery team to rescue a man stuck in an ice crevass(e) on 24 November 1984, in a Twin Huey. His comments state: "A task extremely well carried out by a diligent and humble crew. Could see for miles. You wouldn't catch me walking around that area."
Backside of top cover.
US COAST GUARD RESCUE OF BRITISH EXPEDITION:
"IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF SCOTT"
Three Britons trekked 883 miles to the South Pole, delighted to have retraced the steps of the ill-fated 1912 Scott Expedition. Led by Robert Swan, 28, with Roger Mear, 35, and Gareth Wood, 33; they took two months to reach the South Pole on January 11, 1986, becoming the first men to walk to the pole since 1912. They were picked up by a U.S. C-130 "Hercules" aircraft two days later. As you may recall, their support ship, the Southern Quest, was crushed by pack ice and sank. The three had originally intended to be picked up from the ship by a light plane, such a ski-equipped Twin Otter.
The private expedition retraced British Explorer Capt. Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated 1912 attempt to be the first to reach the South Pole. Scott's expedition reached the South Pole on January 18, 1912, only to be crushed to find a Norwegian flag and tent left by Roald Amundsen of Norway, who had become the first man to reach the South Pole a month earlier!
The Amundsen expedition did not walk to the pole, but traveled on skis and quite wisely used sledges pulled by dogs. Scott (who did not like dogs and opted for ponies instead--which were ill suited for the Antarctic) along with four companions, died in a snowstorm while attempting to return to their base camp.
Go here to see a full size image of an autographed souvenir cover from the
"In the Footsteps of Scott" Expedition.
Click on the above image for a full-size version
Go here to see the back side of above cover
The above cover is an extremely rare documented helicopter flight cover from the rescue operation undertaken for the M/V Southern Quest, (which has erroneously been entered in the flight data cachet as the "Ocean Quest" *) My information would estimate probably no more than four or five of these covers exist, if even that many, making it more valuable than some of the earlier polar classics!
WINFLY Mid 80's Postmark Date anomaly - the flight occurred over a full year before the date of the postmark, presumed the clerk used wrong year slug which is rather common or had just received new equipment.
Go here to see a companion cover from the same 1985 WINFLY flight that received a 1986 postmark
A great page about the aircraft used in Antarctica, with excellent photos
The VXE-6 unofficial page; (unit is now disestablished)
* WEBMASTERS NOTE: As to the apparent confusion here as to the name of the sinking vessel, I wonder if this particular pilot might have been in Antarctica a year or so earlier and perhaps came in contact with the crew of Al Giddings during his visit?
Giddings was a legendary underwater photographer and producer of a somewhat forgotten television documentary in 1985 hosted by certified beauty queen Shawn Weatherly (1980 Ms. Universe)--later to achieve no small fame on the sitcom Baywatch, et al.
That particular mini-series was called "Oceanquest", and if you do remember it, it was actually quite well done; the lovely Ms. Weatherly did several dives while she was in the Antarctic and in other waters. Alas, she seemingly does not respond to fan mail, autograph requests (I lost a few polar covers on that account!) or inquiries about her participation in the documentary or Antarctica. In fact, she was nominated for an Emmy award that year in her role as host of the series, in the Outstanding Individual Achievement in Educational Programming category. Beauty AND brains...a deadly combination! Can you tell I am a Shawn Weatherly fan as well as a polar philatelist?
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QSL.net/KG0YH page last updated 08-19-2002