NY Air National Guard unit gears up for South Pole mission

SCOTIA, N.Y. (AP) — Members of an Air National Guard unit based near Albany are gearing up for their annual mission to the South Pole.

National Guard officials say an LC-130 cargo plane and its crew from the 109th Airlift Wing will be taking off Friday morning from Stratton Air National Guard Base in Schenectady County.

They’ll be heading for McMurdo Station in Antarctica, where the unit 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.

The crews will transport scientists, fuel, supplies, medical supplies and more throughout the season, which runs through February.

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