David Pullinger, a helicopter pilot with more than two decades of Antarctic service, has been awarded the 2009 Antarctic Medal.

The award was announced today by Her Excellency, Ms Quentin Bryce AC.

Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, has congratulated Mr Pullinger, describing his contribution to Australia’s Antarctic Program as outstanding.

'Mr Pullinger’s experience in Antarctica spans more than 20 years, during which time he has been an integral part of project teams, with responsibility for the planning and execution of delivering research teams to deep field locations,' Mr Garrett said.

'Our air operations are vital to the success of the work we do in Antarctica, transporting personnel and equipment to inland areas critical to Australia's work on climate, biodiversity and the environment.

'Helicopter operations also play a significant role in supporting sea ice physics and marine science.

'David Pullinger’s significant contribution to 16 Australian Antarctic expeditions, and his valuable support to the Italian, German and Japanese Antarctic programs, have earned him high regard from his peers and colleagues in Australia and internationally,' Mr Garrett said.

The Australian Antarctic Medal was established in 1987 and is an awarded in the Meritorious Service Awards category of the Australian Honours System. The Australian Antarctic Medal replaced the (British) Imperial Polar Medal and its variations, which date back to 1857 for service in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.