109AW annual Greenland season comes to a close

  • Published
  • By Jaclyn Lyons
  • 109th Airlift Wing

The New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing has wrapped up its annual support to the National Science Foundation in Greenland as Airmen and LC-130 “Skibirds” returned to Stratton Air National Guard Base on September 22, 2021. 

The unit had an extended season of March through September, providing support to National Science Foundation research sites on the ice cap in Greenland.

The unit supplied 1.3 million pounds of cargo, thirty-two-thousand gallons of fuel and delivered 910 passengers, flying a total of 678 hours.

The season this year was two months longer than typical seasons in past years, adding on a month in March for additional training at the beginning and another period at the end in September to fulfill a need of the National Science Foundation to transport a construction team from Summit Station.

“Going up in March was beneficial to get the initial put in of Raven Camp,” said Major Jacob Papp, chief of Arctic operations,  “This allowed us to keep a cadre of instructors and evaluators current to then provide instruction for the following on flight period”.

Raven Camp is the training site on the ice cap that is used for qualifying and training on skiway landings and arctic operations. 

“This allowed us to keep a cadre of instructors and evaluators current to then provide instruction for the following on flight period,” said Papp.

 An additional 8 day flight period was added to the end of the season in order to fulfill a National Science Foundation need in pulling a construction team from Summit Station, the year-round staffed research station near the apex of the Greenland ice sheet.

This season was more robust than the condensed three week season last year. COVID was still a concern but the unit, National Science Foundation and Danish Government were able to communicate and formulate and plan of action.

“In addition to the normal hurdles that our mission brings such as weather, aircraft availability, and flying to the most austere locations in the world, COVID-19 presented logistical planning that required more coordination with outside agencies,” Papp said.

The unit will immediately begin preparing to deploy for Operation Deep Freeze in October. Operation Deep Freeze, the military component of the U.S. Antarctic Program, is managed by the National Science Foundation.  The unique capabilities of the ski-equipped LC-130 aircraft make it the only one of its kind in the U.S. military, able to land on snow and ice.