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NY Air Guard, Brazil partner on Antarctic flying

U.S. Air Force Airmen, assigned to the 109th Airlift Wing, New York Air National Guard, pose for a photo with members of the Brazilian Air Force's 1st Squadron, 1st Transport Group at Galeao Air Base, Rio de Janerio, Brazil, during a State Partnership Program exchange Sept. 17, 2019. The 109th AW specializes in Antarctica operations and discussed Artic flying with their Brazilian counterparts. The New York National Guard entered into a state partnership with Brazil in March, 2019. (Courtesy photo)

U.S. Air Force Airmen, assigned to the 109th Airlift Wing, New York Air National Guard, pose for a photo with members of the Brazilian Air Force's 1st Squadron, 1st Transport Group at Galeao Air Base, Rio de Janerio, Brazil, during a State Partnership Program exchange Sept. 17, 2019. The 109th AW specializes in Antarctica operations and discussed Artic flying with their Brazilian counterparts. The New York National Guard entered into a state partnership with Brazil in March, 2019. (Courtesy photo)

SCOTIA, N.Y. -- Six Airmen from the 109th Airlift Wing, New York Air National Guard, traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sept. 14-21, 2019, as part of the New York National Guard's new state partnership with the Brazilian armed forces.

The pilots and maintenance personnel visited their counterparts in the Brazilian Air Force's 1st Squadron of the 1st Transport Group at Galeao Air Base in Rio and talked about Antarctic flying operations.

Just as the 109th AW specializes in supporting American science operations at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, the Airmen of Brazil's 1st Squadron support the Brazilian research station in Antarctica's South Shetland Islands.

“We went to do an overview of each other’s missions; finding the similarities and differences in the rules and regulations that govern us and to share flying techniques in the harsh Antarctic environment,” said Master Sgt. Chris Collins, a flight engineer assigned to the 109th AW.

The most significant difference between the two units is that the Brazilian Air Force operates between South America and Antarctica while the 109th AW works mainly within Antarctica, flying to different locations throughout the continent from McMurdo Station.

But, Collins explained, the missions all deal with the same difficulties forecasting weather and responding to complete as many missions as possible.

"Aircrew are the same all over the world," said Lt. Col. Seth Barrows, a navigator at the 109th AW. "We all experience the same types of pressures to get the job done. We learned there are differences in our rules and how we operate, but overall we face the same challenges, and it was interesting to find those similarities."

The National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program pairs states with a partner country's armed forces or equivalent to create a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.

The New York National Guard has had a state partnership relationship with the South African National Defense Forces since 2003.

The partnership between the New York National Guard and the Brazilian armed forces began in March 2019 during a ceremony at the U.S.S. Intrepid Museum in New York City.

The Rio meeting was the first exchange between the 109th AW and the Brazilians. The hope is to collaborate more to keep learning from each other.

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