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McChord reservists begin 2007 Operation Deep Freeze

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Shane Cuomo
  • Air Force News Agency
A C-17 crew from McChord Air Force Base, Wash., flew the first mission of the 2007-2008 Operation Deep Freeze season to Antarctica Aug. 20, delivering passengers and cargo to an isolated research station.

The crew of Regular Air Force and Air Force Reserve Airmen landed 15 miles from McMurdo Station at Pegasus Runway. During the season, McChord C-17s will airlift scientists and support people to start early pre-summer projects, augment maintenance personnel and prepare skyways and ice runways at the station.

These missions are part of WinFly, the first of three phases for Operation Deep Freeze that sets the stage for the U.S. Antarctic Program. The other two seasons of Operation Deep Freeze are main body and winter.

In addition to the McChord C-17s, LC-130s from the New York Air National Guard and other aircraft necessary to support the mission, as well as Coast Guard icebreakers and the Navy Cargo Handling Battalion One provide critical port services at McMurdo Station.

"We bring people down who will begin construction on what is called the 'annual sea ice' runway, which is very close to McMurdo," said Lt. Col. Jim McGann, 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander.

When people arrive at Antarctica, they travel about one hour over the ice from Pegasus Runway to McMurdo Station.

Every year teams carve out a 10,000 by 220-foot sea ice runway. After it's completed, the trip to the station takes just 10 minutes, allowing quicker downloads and less exposure to the weather.

"We like it because they build us a nice runway. They like it because the C-17 is closer, and it makes the travel time a lot quicker," Colonel McGann said.

Operation Deep Freeze is a demanding mission due to the extreme adversity of the environment and remoteness of Antarctica.

For WinFly, and for all of the seasons, there are few options. The C-17 carries unusual loads and has to deal with weather that can change in 30 minutes. To meet the challenges, a joint force of Airmen works to complete the difficult tasks safely and efficiently. (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)