New York State Division of Military & Naval Affairs
10/15/2012 - STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, SCOTIA , NY (10/15/2012) --
LC-130 "Skibirds" leave Capital Region on Oct. 16 and 17 for South Pole
The New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing kicks off its
annual support for the National Science Foundation in Antarctica as
ski-equipped LC-130s head for Antarctica on Oct. 16 and 17.
Two aircraft will depart on the five-day, 11,000- mile trip to
Antarctica on each day. A total of six ski-equipped LC-130 aircraft will
be on the ice during the October to February period. These aircraft
will support the National Science Foundation's research in the Antarctic
running supplies and people to field camps across the continent and the
South Pole station.
The ski-equipped LC-130s operated by the 109th Airlift Wing are the only
aircraft in the United States military capable of landing on snow and
ice. This is the 24th year that the 109th will support operations in
The New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing plays a critical
role in supporting National Science Foundation research across
Antarctica. About 120 members of the New York Air National Guard will be
deployed to Antarctica throughout the support season. The Airmen deploy
for 30 to 60 days each, working two-twelve hour shifts to cover 24 hour
operations, six days each week,. They work a half-day on Sunday.
Based at the United States Antarctic Program base at McMurdo Station,
the 109th is slated fly over 350 missions across the continent, with
more than half of those moving passengers, cargo and fuel to the South
Pole. The majority of supplies that reach the United States Amundsen
-Scott base at the South Pole are ferried there by the 109th Airlift
Despite the cold, the maintenance crews normally attain a high
reliability rate for each aircraft, allowing the flight crews to carry
as much cargo as possible to remote Antarctic outposts. The wing
accumulates roughly 3,000 hours of flying time in the 16-week season.
This is almost as much as most Air National Guard C-130 units fly in a
All maintenance performed on the aircraft is done outside on the snow
and ice without the use of hangars. This requires maintainers to undergo
specialized training for both maintenance procedures and personal
extreme weather survival training.
U.S. military support for Operation Deep Freeze is a Pacific Command
responsibility organized as Joint Task Force -Support Forces Antarctica.
The Joint Task Force includes cargo and fuel tanker ships provided by
Military Sealift Command, active- duty and Reserve C-17 support from the
62nd and 446th Airlift Wings at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the
ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules flown by the 109thAirlift Wing of the New
York Air National Guard, as well as Coast Guard icebreakers and the Navy
Cargo Handling Battalion One to provide critical port services at
The airlift part of Operation Deep Freeze operates from two primary
locations with C-17s situated at Christchurch, New Zealand and LC-130
Hercules forward based at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, beginning in late