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New York Air Guard Begins ’23 Support for Greenland Research

  • Published
  • By Jaclyn Lyons,
  • 109th Air Wing/Public Affairs

STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. - Three LC-130 “Skibirds” and 75 Airmen from the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing are supporting National Science Foundation research in Greenland.

The 109th flies the largest ski-equipped aircraft in the world, capable of landing on snow and ice. They resupply American scientific research in Antarctica when it is winter in New York and in Greenland in summer.

The Airmen departed at the beginning of April in the first of five rotations of 75 to 100 Airmen and three aircraft throughout the summer support season, which ends in August.

The Airmen fly from Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, near Schenectady, New York, to Kangerlussuaq International Airport in Greenland, their operating base.

This year, in addition to the regular National Science Foundation resupply missions, the focus is ski-way training for Airmen from the 109th.

A ski-way is a groomed snow landing area that allows the LC-130s to land safely.

The 109th is the Air Force’s formal training unit for LC-130 ski qualifications and Greenland is the primary training area, said Maj. Jake Papp, chief of Greenland operations.

The 109th will also complete two Barren Land Arctic Survival Training (BLAST) classes with 20 Airmen in each class. The training is required for all Airmen who travel to Antarctica and Greenland.

Students learn to use arctic tents, camp stoves to boil snow and make water, cold weather rations and a portable hyperbaric chamber to treat altitude sickness. The students also learn how to make cold weather shelters from blocks of snow cut and stacked together.

The BLAST school is run by the 109th Airlift Wing’s aircrew flight equipment section and “survival, escape, resistance, and evasion” experts, known as SERE instructors, from the 66th Training Squadron from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.

The 109th flight equipment personnel facilitate all the logistics for the course and set up the training base. The SERE personnel teach the techniques to survive in the arctic environment.

The training occurs in the same area the 109th primarily uses for ski-way training.

“We use Raven Camp, which is a 6,000-foot groomed ski-way that is only a 25-minute flight from Kangerlussuaq to train new aircrew members as well as core crew members current with ski operations,” Papp said.

In 2022, the wing’s Airmen flew 585 hours transporting 1.4 million pounds of cargo, 67,700 gallons of fuel and 892 passengers to science stations in Greenland.