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LC-130 Hercules heads home to New York Guard base

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Mikaley Kline
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

After being deployed 80 or more days and spending 14 days getting the LC-130 Hercules ready, the Airmen assigned to the 109th Airlift Wing, Stratton Air National Guard Base, New York, departed from here to return to their home unit.

The Airmen were deployed in support of Operation DEEP FREEZE.

Operation DEEP FREEZE (ODF) is a joint service, inter-agency support for the National Science Foundation (NSF), which manages the United States Antarctic Program (USAP). Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica (JTF-SFA), provides Department of Defense support to the NSF and the USAP through ODF.

Lt. Col. Carlisle Norman, 109th AW evaluator pilot, has been participating in ODF missions since 1996.

“This is my 24th ODF season,” said Norman. “It’s a lot of fun flying the ODF missions because the aircraft is so versatile and it’s something different than our regular mission.”

The LC-130, also known as a Skibird, is a four-engine turboprop transport aircraft that is the backbone of U.S. Transportation within Antarctica and also provides air service between McMurdo Station, Antarctica and New Zealand.

“We can carry 92 passengers or up to six pallets of cargo weighing 40,000 pounds, depending on how long the flights are,” said Master Sgt. Mike Hill, 109th AW Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief.

For Norman, one of his favorite parts of the mission is the people he works with.

“I like that we are a guard unit. So I’ve known most of these guys for 20 plus years,” he said. “Our maintenance people are some of the best in the world. I know everybody says that, but what our guys do, where they do it and how they do it in those locations is amazing. It’s incredible to watch them fix airplanes when the temperature is minus 20 or 30 degrees. It’s rewarding for me knowing that we are like a family.”

The U.S. military's support of U.S. Antarctic research began in 1955. Pacific Air Forces operates on a 24-hour basis to provide the NSF complete joint operational and logistic support for ODF.

“We’ve been working with the NSF since we’ve had the mission,” said Norman. “They contract us to do their flying. They come to us and say, ‘we need X amount of things moved from point A to point B. Can you do it?’”

“We take a look at it and work with them to make it happen,” he added. “It’s a very good working relationship and we’ve had that relationship for years.”

The ODF season runs annually, August 1st through July 31st.