New York Air National Guard 109th Airlift Wing Begins 23rd Year of Antarctic Missions on Friday

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A New York Air National Guard LC-130 takes off in Antarctica.

STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, SCOTIA, NY (10/13/2011)(readMedia)-- The New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing kicks off its annual support for the National Science Foundation in Antarctica as the first ski-equipped LC-130 heads for Antarctica on Friday morning, Oct. 14.

Members of the Media are invited to interview crew members and wing leaders and observe the aircraft depart.

WHO: Members of the 109th Airlift Wing.

WHAT: The departure of the first LC-130 from Stratton Air National Guard Base for the American base at McMurdo Sound. 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 23rd year that the 109th will support operations in Antarctica.

WHEN: 9.a.m. Friday Oct 14, 2011 (9 a.m. arrival time allows a chance for crew interviews. The aircraft is due to leave at approximately 10 a.m.)

WHERE: Stratton Air National Guard Base, Scotia NY

Coverage Opportunities:

There will be opportunities to interview members of the crew heading for Antarctica as well as leaders of the 109th Airlift Wing. Visual imagery opportunities include crew members heading for the aircraft and the LC-130 taking off on the five-day trip to Antarctica.

Members of the media wishing to cover this event must contact Lt. Col. Jody Ankabrandt at 518-344-2396 or (cell) 518-542-7106 in order to obtain access to this secure military facility.

Background :

The New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing plays a critical role in supporting National Science Foundation research across Antarctica. From October to February several hundred Airmen from the 109th Airlift Wing and seven LC-130 ski-equipped cargo planes will be supporting the U.S. military's annual Operation Deep Freeze mission. About 100 to 120 Airmen will deploy each week for 30 to 60 days.

These aircraft will support the National Science Foundation's research in the Antarctic running supplies to field camps across the continent and the South Pole station.

Based at the United States Antarctic Program base at McMurdo Station, the 109th is slated to fly about 400 missions across the continent, with more than half of those moving passengers, cargo and fuel to the South Pole. On average the wing moves about 12 million pounds of cargo each season.

All supplies that reach the United State's Amundsen –Scott base at the South Pole are ferried there by the 109th. The wing's members work 12 hour days for six days each week and then work a half day on Sunday.

Wing members rotate through McMurdo. The minimum tour is three weeks at the station. All wing members who go to the Antarctic receive specialized survival training.

The maintenance crews normally attain a 95 percent reliability status for the aircraft, allowing the flight crews to carry as much cargo as possible to remote Antarctic outposts. The wing accumulates roughly 4,000 hours of flying time in the 16 week season; almost as much as most units fly in a year.

U.S. military support for Operation Deep Freeze is a Pacific Command responsibility organized as Joint Task Force -Support Forces Antarctica. The Joint Task Force includes cargo and fuel tanker ships provided by Military Sealift Command, active- duty and Reserve C-17 support from the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings at JB Lewis-McChord, ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules flown by the 109th AW of the New York Air National Guard, as well as Coast Guard icebreakers and the Navy Cargo Handling Battalion One to provide critical port services at McMurdo Station.

The airlift part of Operation Deep Freeze operates from two primary locations with C-17s situated at Christchurch, New Zealand and LC-130 Hercules forward based at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, beginning in late October.