...EAA, State Department Involved
The plight of Johanson, who has circled the world three times in his RV, has sparked a major reaction in the aviation community. EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski said senior officials of his organization were in contact with government and NSF officials most of the day Wednesday trying to work something out. He said the issue quickly went as high as the State Department in Washington but by AVweb's press deadline Wednesday there was no indication Johanson would be able to resume his flight. Knapinski said it was his understanding the Antarctic base doesn't have any avgas but, even if it did, officials probably wouldn't sell it to him. Knapinski said it's been a long-held rule in the Antarctic that if you aren't part of an official, self-sufficient expedition there, you become a rescue operation. Under those policies, a trip home is the only option. The NSF news release says neither the Americans nor the New Zealanders "supply or stock fuel for private individuals." Although it's been reported that Johanson rigorously researched the forecast weather on his proposed route, his Antarctic hosts have apparently not been moved by his explanations. "The pilot should have made the decision to abandon his original flight plans much sooner when faced with these weather conditions and returned to Invercargill in New Zealand," said Sanson.