By Tech. Sgt. Kerry Jackson
13th Air Force Public Affairs
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii, (10/21/10) -- A New York Air National Guard LC-130 Hercules, equipped with retractable ski-wheels, departed here Oct. 18 to support the U.S. Antarctic Program and the National Science Foundation's research at international sites throughout the Antarctic continent.
The uniquely-equipped aircraft is necessary for the movement of people and cargo vital to the AP's and NSF's research and exploration efforts in Antarctica. The U.S. Air Force, Navy, Army, and Coast Guard are lending operational and logistical support to support these efforts as part of Operation Deep Freeze.
"The LC-130 provides the Deep Freeze mission an extraordinary capability and permits us to carry out challenging missions in an unpredictable climate and environment," said Col. Paul Sheppard, the Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica deputy commander at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. "I continue to be impressed with the capability of this aircraft."
The LC-130 is the largest aircraft to be fitted with retractable ski-wheels. The main skis are 20 feet long and 5.5 feet wide. The nose ski is 10 feet long and 5.5 feet wide. The complete ski set weighs 2.8 tons.
The New York Air Guard's 109th Airlift Wing is the only organization in the world that flies the ski-equipped LC-130s. The Air National Guard has been flying people and supplies on its ski-equipped aircraft to Arctic and Antarctic outposts since 1975. Only 10 such aircraft exist in the Air Force inventory.
"This is a great mission to be a part of and (the LC-130 is a) great ski bird to fly" said Lt. Col. Chris Sander, an LC-130 pilot from the 109th Airlift Wing who has flown the aircraft for 17 years. "I enjoy the challenge of the weather and the support we're providing the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Antarctic Program because of the work they're doing."
The support provided by JTF-SFA, led by 13th Air Force officials here, includes strategic inter-theater airlift, tactical deep-field support, aeromedical-evacuation support, search and rescue response, sealift, seaport access, bulk fuel supply, port cargo handling and transportation requirements.