Skibirds Head to Antarctica

The New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing in Scotia recently deployed airmen and three of its ski-equipped LC-130 Skibird transports to Antarctica in support of National Science Foundation research on the barren continent. One LC-130 departed Scotia for the South Pole on Oct. 18, while two more aircraft set out on Oct. 22, states a wing release. Three more LC-130s are expected to deploy later this year to help move supplies and people across Antarctic field camps and the South Pole research station, according to the release. At any one time, about 120 of the wing’s airmen will be deployed for this mission. The on-continent flying season runs from October to February. The wing has supported this research for 26 seasons, but “due to fiscal constraints,” it will fly fewer missions this season, said Col. Shawn Clouthier, 109th AW commander. The LC-130 airlift support occurs under the auspices of the US military’s Operation Deep Freeze, which provides sea transport and airlift for the Antarctic scientific research. (Scotia report by TSgt. Catharine Schmidt)