KANGERLUSSUAQ, Greenland – The New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing gave Greenland Premier Múte Bourup Egede and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken a close-up look at one of the wing’s LC-130s, which are critical to conducting climate research on the Greenland Ice Cap.
Blinken was in Reykjavik, Iceland, for a meeting of foreign ministers of Arctic nations. He took a helicopter tour of Greenland’s ice cap and fjords with the prime minister May 20 and then stopped at the Kangerlussuaq airport, which serves as a home base for the Airmen of the 109th Airlift Wing when they are conducting missions in Greenland.
The visit, a State Department spokesman told WAMC radio, was made to highlight the importance of the climate research done in Greenland and the role of the United States in supporting the research.
“It was an opportunity for the secretary to see the good work of the men and women who are part of the New York Air National Guard. And obviously, while they're based in upstate New York, they're doing critically important scientific research to understand why the climate is changing and what we can do to resolve this crisis,” State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter told WAMC radio.
The wing, based at Stratton Air National Guard Base outside Schenectady, New York, flies the largest ski-equipped aircraft in the world. The planes carry supplies to scientists collecting ice cores and other climate research data in Greenland.
This visit marked the first time Greenland’s new premier met with U.S. military personnel.
Maj. Shay Price, a LC-130 navigator, conducted a tour of the aircraft and explained how the 109th supports the National Science Foundation, an independent agency of the U.S. government, through airlift and logistical support.
Pele Broberg, Greenland’s minister of foreign affairs, trade, business and climate, and Jeppe Kofod, Danish minister of foreign affairs, also attended.
Greenland is an autonomous province in the Kingdom of Denmark.
Tracy Sheely, a representative of the National Science Foundation, spoke to the group about the foundation’s operations in Greenland. This includes Summit Station, the only high altitude, high latitude, inland, year‐round observing station in the Arctic. Then she turned the conversation over to Price.
“I thanked the government of Greenland for their support of our flight operations and training, as well as thanking the Joint Arctic Command for their continued assistance while in Greenland. Access to the Greenland Ice Cap is critical to training LC-130 crews and support personnel to safely operate in polar regions,” Price said.
Price said 109th aircrews rely on survival training at Raven Camp, a remote location on the Ice Cap, to ensure they can safely operate in Greenland and Antarctica.
“LC-130 operations in Greenland not only showcase their critical role in supporting multinational science efforts, but also ensure our aircraft, crews, and support personnel are fully mission-ready for polar operations around the world,” Price said.
Price thanked the Danish Joint Arctic Command for its technical assistance over the many years the 109th has operated at Kangerlussuaq.