109th Airlift Wing Wraps up Antarctic Science Support Mission > Air National Guard > Article Display

109th Airlift Wing Successfully Completes Mission Supporting Antarctic Scientific Research

At the Stratton Air National Guard Base in New York, the 109th Airlift Wing has successfully wrapped up its yearly mission, Operation Deep Freeze. This mission plays a crucial role in aiding scientific research.

From the start of October to the end of March, a team of 366 Airmen stationed at McMurdo Station in Antarctica dedicated their efforts to flying missions. They navigated across the continent and to New Zealand using five LC-130 aircraft equipped with skis.

These LC-130 aircraft, operated by the 109th Airlift Wing, stand out as the world’s largest ski-equipped planes. This unit is unique in its operation of these aircraft.

Throughout the mission, the team accomplished 114 flights. They managed 62 intra-continental trips and 52 journeys between Antarctica and New Zealand. In total, they transported 1,100 tons of cargo, 1,500 passengers, and 68,000 gallons of fuel.

The primary goal of these missions was to deliver supplies to the South Pole and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet stations.

Col. Rob Donaldson, the commander of the 109th Airlift Wing, expressed immense pride in the Airmen. He highlighted their dedication and the sacrifices they make annually to contribute to Operation Deep Freeze.

Donaldson praised the Airmen’s adaptability and experience, which were key to overcoming challenges and completing another successful season in Antarctica. He emphasized their role in demonstrating global power projection on an international stage.

“Our mission-ready Airmen continue to demonstrate their exceptional training, experience, and skills,” Donaldson remarked. They ensure the safe operation of the LC-130 in the most challenging environments, aligning with the strategic goals of the Department of Defense and the Air Force.

Operation Deep Freeze is a collaborative effort involving multiple services and agencies. It supports the National Science Foundation, the primary organization for the U.S. Antarctic Program.

This mission provides essential logistical support to scientific research in Antarctica. It enables significant discoveries in climate science, geology, biology, and more.

Looking ahead, the 109th Airlift Wing is gearing up for the upcoming scientific support season in Greenland, starting in mid-April. The Airmen are set to fly missions to research stations on the Greenland ice cap, continuing their vital support for scientific exploration.