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109th Airlift Wing Makes Historic South Pole Landing

American Forces Press Service

STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Scotia, N.Y. , Nov. 3, 2006 – An LC-130 Hercules from the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing touched down at the South Pole on Oct. 30 to commemorate the first plane landing there 50 years ago.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
A U.S. Air Force LC-130 Hercules from the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing touches down at the South Pole Oct. 30. U.S. Air Force photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

On Oct. 31, 1956, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Gus Shinn landed a ski-equipped R4D-5 (a Navy version of the DC-3) named "Que Sera Sera" at the South Pole. On that landmark day, with temperatures near minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit, Shinn kept the engines running while Navy Adm. George Dufek stepped out of the plane and became the first person in more than four decades to stand at the Pole.

This week, Skier 00, assigned to the 109th Airlift Wing in support of Operation Deep Freeze and piloted by Air Force Maj. Carlyle Norman, continued the tradition with the landing of a ski-equipped LC-130 in a ground temperature of near minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit, 109th AW officials said.

“This commemorative landing signifies much more than just the first aircraft landing at the South Pole,” Air Force Col. Anthony German, 109th AW commander, said. “It is a testament that our U.S. military is uniquely equipped to support the National Science Foundation and U.S. Antarctic Program in its mission to explore Antarctica. The 109th Airlift Wing is proud to be a part of this legacy.”

From 1955 until 1999, the Navy's Antarctic Development Squadron 6 flew various aircraft, including LC-130s, in support of the U.S. Antarctic Program. In 1998, at the Navy's request, the Air Force and Air National Guard took over command of Department of Defense support to the program. The Navy unit continued to augment the Air National Guard with LC-130 flights until it was disestablished in March 1999.

The 109th Airlift Wing is the only unit in the world to have the ski-equipped LC-130 aircraft with responsibility for supporting scientific research in the northern and southern polar regions.

(From a 109th Airlift Wing news release.)

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