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Monday, 20 May, 2002, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Marooned explorer's last gasp rescue
Polar explorer Dave Mill
Dave Mill was making his third attempt at the journey
A British explorer who was marooned on an ice floe near the North Pole has told how he was "in heaven" after being rescued.

The 34-year-old contacted Canadian rescuers via an e-mail and sent them a digital picture of a runway he had cleared in the ice using his sledge.

Dave Mill set out last month on an attempt to become the first man to complete a solo and unaided walk from Canada to the North Pole.


I think you have to put the pilot's feat up there with Michael Schumacher, given the skill and finesse with which he landed an eight-tonne aircraft on the ice

Dave Mill
However, his third attempt at the journey was scuppered by delays, leaving him trapped on an ice floe.

Mr Mill, from Kenmore in Perthshire, was rescued by plane and taken to Resolute Bay in Canada.

He told BBC Scotland that the sound of the rescue plane represented the possibility of "sanctuary".

"If you hear it, you know it is close. He (the pilot) was looking for me, so I just put two flares in the shotgun and just banged them up.

"It was fantastic. It was great to see him."

Speaking later, he said: "I think you have to put the pilot's feat up there with Michael Schumacher, given the skill and finesse with which he landed an eight-tonne aircraft on the ice.

Dave Mill
Mr Mill was trapped on an ice floe
"It was an incredible piece of flying."

Mr Mill said the pilot had also "scared the living daylights out of me" by touching the top of his tent with the plane's wing as a prank as he was packing up his equipment.

When he got on board he was greeted with a joke about the fact he had not had a bath for several months

"But after we took off he came up and said he had a surprise for me," said Mr Mill.

"He then gave me a food box with my favourite cheese and tomato sandwiches in it. I was in heaven."

Going back

The adventurer is expected to fly home to Scotland at the weekend.

His father John Mill said it was "magic" to know that his son was now back in Resolute.

"I am a very proud father even because of my son's achievements so far," he said.

However, he said he expected his son to return for another try.


He hasn't completed his dream so he will be going back

Dave Mill's father John
"He hasn't completed his dream so he will be going back," Mr Mill said.

Mr Mill's friend Jamie Findlay said: "He was about 300 kilometres shy of hitting the North Pole.

"He was in an area where usually, in past years, the ice has been fairly stable, but it has literally been breaking up before his eyes."

During his trek Mr Mill experienced a close call with a polar bear - as well as receiving a telephone call from acclaimed singer-songwriter David Gray.

Frostbite

Mr Mill set off from Canada at the end of March in his third attempt to complete the journey.

Last year he returned home after setting a new record for walking solo and unaided towards the North Pole before melting ice forced him to abandon his attempt.

Mr Mill was also on the back-up expedition that followed Sir Ranulph Fiennes in 2000 when the English explorer had to abort his attempt due to frostbite.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's Aileen Clarke
"It is new technology that ultimately saved his life"
Dave Mill's father John
"It was very dangerous indeed"
Friend Jamie Findlay
"Dave is absolutely thrilled"
See also:

20 May 02 | Scotland
18 May 02 | Scotland
25 May 01 | Scotland
03 Apr 01 | Scotland
17 May 00 | Scotland
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