STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. - The New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing flew more than 180 missions from October to March to support National Science Foundation research in Antarctica.
The wing deployed 420 Airmen and five ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules transport planes to the southern continent as part of Operation Deep Freeze, the Department of Defense logistics support for the National Science Foundation’s Antarctica program.
Missions flown by the 109th Airmen included transporting personnel, equipment and supplies from Christchurch, New Zealand, to McMurdo Station, the largest research station in Antarctica, and to research stations throughout Antarctica.
During the support season, the 109th Airlift Wing used its fleet of LC-130 Hercules aircraft, which are specially modified to operate in extreme cold.
The aircraft are equipped with skis for landing on ice and snow and can transport cargo and personnel to remote locations across the continent.
The LC-130s flown by the 109th are the largest ski-equipped aircraft in the world.
“I am extremely proud of our multicapable Airmen and the team’s efforts put forth this year for the Operation Deep Freeze mission,” said Col. Christian Sander, commander of the 109th Airlift Wing. “We were able to complete additional intercontinental missions than originally planned.”
The season began with 46 planned intercontinental missions, but the number grew to 68 when more personnel had to be transported via aircraft to McMurdo.
The Airmen completed more than 1,500 flight hours and transported 1.2 million pounds of fuel, 2.2 million pounds of cargo and 903 passengers.
The 109th Airlift Wing is based at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, New York. The unit has been supporting Operation Deep Freeze since 1998 and has played a critical role in enabling scientific research in Antarctica.
“We have truly demonstrated agile employment of our LC-130s in the harshest environment known to mankind and operate at the peak of our skill sets supplying the United States Antarctic Program and the National Science Foundation unmatched logistical support, all while maintaining an impeccable safety record for our Airmen and aircraft,” Sander said.
With the completion of the support season, the 109th Airlift Wing Airmen return to Stratton Air National Guard Base, where they will prepare to deploy to Greenland to support science research beginning in April.