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NY Air Guard's 109th Airlift Wing wraps up Antarctic science support mission

  • Published
  • By Ms. Jaclyn Lyons
  • 109th Airlift Wing

The New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing, based at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia New York, has successfully concluded its annual Operation Deep Freeze season, marking the end of another productive season supporting scientific research in Antarctica.

Between October,2023 and March 6, 2024, 366 Airmen worked at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, flying missions to locations across the continent and too New Zealand.

Five ski-equipped LC-130 aircraft were used to fly the missions.

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 which operates them.

The unit completed a total of 114 missions. Sixty two of those were to and from locations on the continent. Fifty-two were trips between Antarctica and New Zealand.

A total of 1,100 tons of cargo, 1,500 passengers and 68,000 gallons of fuel were moved throughout the season.

The missions completed on-continent were re-supply for the South Pole Station and West Antarctic Ice Sheet station. The aircrews flew 1.7 million pounds of cargo, delivered 68,000 gallons of fuel, and transported 706 passengers.

"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.

Despite facing challenging weather conditions and logistical hurdles, the dedicated men, and women of the 109th Airlift Wing remained committed to ensuring the success of this vital operation, Donaldson said.

Donaldson added that he feels the robust team effort showed a steadfast commitment to mission accomplishment.

"With veteran flexibility, honed by years of deployment experience, the Airmen worked thru 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, inter-agency mission in support of the National Science Foundation, the lead agency for the United States Antarctic Program.

The mission aims to provide logistical support to scientific research activities conducted in Antarctica, facilitating groundbreaking discoveries in various fields, including climate science, geology, and biology.

The 109th will now begin preparing 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.