Helping Out Down Under

When an Air Force C-17 was grounded in Antarctica Oct. 26 due to an engine problem, the Royal New Zealand Air Force sprang into action to assist by flying a new engine part and three USAF mechanics down to the frozen continent in one of their P-3 Orions the following day. Lt. Col. Jim McGann, commander of USAF’s 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, the C-17 unit involved in Antarctic flights, said the RNZAF personnel were “simply phenomenal” in their response. “Their efforts reduced the C-17 ground time by a whopping 72 hours minimum,” he said. The 304th’s C-17s haul cargo and personnel between Christchurch, New Zealand, and McMurdo Station, Antarctica as part of Operation Deep Freeze, the US military’s support of US scientific research on the barren continent. These activities are managed by US Pacific Command’s Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica at Hickam AFB, Hawaii. ODF’s 2008-09 season began in September. (Hickam report by Capt. Genieve David)