Antarctic Season Debrief

Airmen of the 62nd Airlift Wing and associate Air Force Reserve Command 446th AW at JB Lewis-McChord, Wash., flew more Antarctic support flights during Operation Deep Freeze 2011-12 than during any previous season, according to officials from the units. Detached to Christchurch, New Zealand, the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron’s single C-17 shuttled a total of 5,155 personnel and 3,165 tons of cargo between Christchurch and McMurdo Station, Antarctica, they said. Taking on cargo normally shipped by sea after McMurdo’s pier was damaged in high winds, the squadron flew a total of 74 sorties—besting the previous season’s record by six flights. Commanded for the first time by a Reservist, the 304th EAS conducted its first South Pole airdrop and first C-17 night-vision winter-evacuation flight from McMurdo this past year. All told, the season was “pretty impressive for one small squadron with one airplane,” summed 304th EAS commander Lt. Col. Bill Eberhardt. Deep Freeze’s season concluded earlier this month. (Lewis-McChord report by Sandra Pishner)