After delay, NY Air National Guard unit departs for South Pole mission

SCOTIA, N.Y. (AP) – A New York Air National Guard unit’s annual mission to the South Pole has begun after being delayed by maintenance problems with a cargo plane.

National Guard officials say an LC-130 cargo plane and its crew from the 109th Airlift Wing departed early Friday afternoon from Stratton Air National Guard Base in Schenectady County.

The departure was originally scheduled for 9 a.m. but was delayed because of maintenance problems with the aircraft.

The unit is heading for McMurdo Station in Antarctica, where it will support the National Science Foundation for the 28th season of Operation Deep Freeze.

The 109th is the only unit in the U.S. military that flies ski-equipped LC-130s capable of landing on snow and ice. During the South Pole mission, a total of seven “Skibirds” and about 500 airmen are expected to be deployed, with 330-plus missions planned.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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