Buzz Aldrin: Altitude sickness forced South Pole evacuation

Aldrin remains in New Zealand hospital

By NICK PERRY, Associated Press
NASA via Wikimedia Commons

1930: Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin Jr., the former American astronaut who was the second person to walk on the moon, is born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. Also a U.S. Air Force pilot, he was the lunar module pilot for Apollo 11, the first manned lunar…

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand - Buzz Aldrin says he was evacuated from the South Pole last week because he became short of breath and began showing signs of altitude sickness.

The 86-year-old adventurer, who was the second man to walk on the moon, released details on Sunday of his dramatic medical evacuation from Antarctica. He is continuing to recuperate in a hospital in Christchurch, New Zealand.

"I started to feel a bit short of breath, so the staff decided to check my vitals. After some examination, they noticed congestion in my lungs and that my oxygen levels were low, which indicated symptoms of altitude sickness," Aldrin said. "This prompted them to get me out on the next flight to McMurdo, and once I was at sea level, I began to feel much better."

Because of the thick ice that blankets Antarctica, the South Pole sits at an elevation of 2,835 meters (9,300 feet).

Aldrin said in a statement he still has some congestion in his lungs and so has been advised to rest in New Zealand until it clears up, and to avoid the long flight back to the U.S. for now.

"I’m looking forward to getting home soon to spend Christmas with my family and to continue my quest for Cycling Pathways and a permanent settlement on Mars. You ain’t seen nothing yet!” said Aldrin.


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