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109th Airlift Wing Airmen heading for Greenland to support science research

Greenland 2021

LC-130 Skibirds from the 109th Airlift Wing take off to fly to Greenland on March 10, 2021. The 109th goes to Greenland every year for training and to provide support to the National Science Foundation.

STRATTON ANGB, N.Y. --

Airmen of the 109th Airlift Wing kicked off their annual support for National Science Foundation research in Greenland on Wednesday March 10, as 80 Airmen and two LC-130 aircraft left Stratton Air National Guard Base for Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.

This is the first of several rotations of aircraft and personnel from the Scotia air base to Greenland. About 400 Airmen will participate in the resupply missions which go from March to August.

A few weeks were added in March this season so that the aircrews could get more training time in the arctic environment.

Major Jacob Papp, an LC-130 pilot, explained that the added training time is crucial for aircrew to experience the same type of terrain and remoteness that is in Antarctica.

It is important to practice and learn to plan for the vastness of the land, the limited resources and for taking off and landing on the snow runways, he explained.

Many additional measures are in place this year due to Coronavirus restrictions. The crews will quarantine and test before departing for Greenland and quarantine and test again once they arrive in the country. These safety measures have been coordinated with Greenland and Danish governments.

The Airmen and aircraft of the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing provide support for the National Science Foundation by transporting fuel, cargo and passengers to and from the various camps throughout Greenland.

The wing anticipates completing about 50 missions this season to support resupply of Summit Camp, a year-round staffed research station near the apex of the Greenland ice sheet.

"It's important to make sure we do all the right things as far as requirements go and really just take care of each other," said Col. Christian Sander, the commander of the 109th Airlift Wing. "It's going to be a lot of hard work but we can handle it."

The wing flies the LC-130 which is a ski-equipped version of the Hercules tactical transport aircraft. The LC-130s are the largest aircraft in the world which have the ability to land on ice or snow.

Kangerlussuaq is used as a launch and recovery base because it is home to Greenland's largest airport.

During the 2020 season the 109th completed a shortened three week season, delivering 30,000 pounds of cargo and nearly 40,000 gallons of fuel to Summit Camp so they would not run out of food or fuel through the winter. The wing did not fly nearly enough training flights during last season.

The 109th also supports Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica, and in the summer months, the unit flies to Greenland to not only continue their support for the National Science Foundation but to also train for Operation Deep Freeze.