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109th Airlift Wing Wraps up Antarctic Science Support Mission

  • Published
  • By Jaclyn Lyons,
  • New York National Guard

STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. - The New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing concluded its annual Operation Deep Freeze mission, marking the end of another productive season supporting scientific research.

From October to March, 366 Airmen worked at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, flying missions across the continent and to New Zealand in five ski-equipped LC-130 aircraft.

The LC-130s flown by the 109th Airlift Wing are the largest ski-equipped aircraft in the world, and the 109th is the only unit that operates them.

The unit completed 114 missions — 62 between locations on the continent and 52 between Antarctica and New Zealand — moving 1,100 tons of cargo, 1,500 passengers and 68,000 gallons of fuel.

The on-continent missions were to resupply the South Pole and West Antarctic Ice Sheet stations. 

“I am so proud of the dedicated, hard-working Airmen who sacrifice their time away from family annually to support Operation Deep Freeze,” said Col. Rob Donaldson, commander of the 109th Airlift Wing.

”With veteran flexibility, honed by years of deployment experience, the Airmen worked through the challenges, completing another successful season on the ice while demonstrating global power projection on a world stage,” he said.

"Our mission-ready Airmen continue to showcase the superior training, experience and skills needed to fly the LC-130 safely in the harshest environments while embracing Department of Defense and Air Force strategic aims," Donaldson said.

Operation Deep Freeze is a joint service, interagency mission to support the National Science Foundation, the lead agency for the U.S. Antarctic Program.

It provides logistical support to scientific research in Antarctica, facilitating discoveries in various fields, including climate science, geology and biology.

The 109th now prepares for the scientific support season in Greenland, which begins in mid-April. The Airmen will fly missions to National Science Foundation research stations on the Greenland ice cap.