Members of the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing will be off to Antarctica this week.
The Stratton Air National Guard Base unit will begin its annual support for the National Science Foundation as ski-equipped LC-130s head south on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Two aircraft will depart on the five-day, 11,000-mile trip to Antarctica on each day. A total of six ski-equipped LC-130 aircraft will be on the ice during the October to February period. These aircraft will support the National Science Foundation's research in the Antarctic running supplies and people to field camps across the continent and the South Pole station.
The ski-equipped LC-130s operated by the 109th Airlift Wing are the only aircraft in the United States military capable of landing on snow and ice. This is the 24th year that the 109th will support operations in Antarctica.
The New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing plays a critical role in supporting National Science Foundation research across Antarctica. About 120 members of the New York Air National Guard will be deployed to Antarctica throughout the support season. The Airmen deploy for 30 to 60 days each, working two 12-hour shifts to cover 24-hour operations, six days each week,. They work a half-day on Sunday.
Based at the United States Antarctic Program base at McMurdo Station, the 109th is slated to fly more than 350 missions across the continent, with more than half of those moving passengers, cargo and fuel to the South Pole. The majority of supplies that reach the United States Amundsen–Scott base at the South Pole are ferried there by the 109th Airlift Wing.