STRATTON ANGB, New York – The New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing launched the first of five LC-130 “Skibird” aircraft to Antarctica Oct. 19 to support National Science Foundation research.

The LC-130 version of the C-130 Hercules is the largest aircraft in the world able to land on snow and ice on skis. The aircraft are equipped with eight-bladed propellers for the turboprop engines to provide additional power.

Throughout the four-month support season, 420 Airmen will deploy for the mission.

The Airmen will operate out of the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station, flying personnel and supplies throughout the continent from November to March.

During Operation Deep Freeze, the Navy and Air Force work together to resupply U.S. science stations in Antarctica.

“With a standard four-month season of operating on the Antarctic continent ahead of us, I am extremely confident in the men and women of the 109th and their ability to execute our specialized mission with the highest level of professional skill,” said Col. Christian Sander, the commander of the 109th Airlift Wing.

The 109th Airlift Wing is key in supporting climate research and other scientific activities during the Antarctic summer.

“This season is planned to resemble a ‘normal’ pre-COVID operating model where crews and support personnel are swapped out on a regular basis throughout the season. Some COVID mitigation precautions will be taken to minimize impacts in Antarctica,” said Maj. Shay Price, the wing’s chief of Antarctic operations.