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Thu, Feb 27, 2003

USAF Reservists Support Antarctic Mission

Brrrr!!!

Reservists from Air Force Reserve Command's 445th Airlift Wing left for Antarctica, Feb. 12, aboard a C-141 Starlifter. The aircrew members are participating in Operation Deep Freeze, a passenger and cargo service for the U.S. National Science Foundation's research facilities in Antarctica.

The reservists flew to Christchurch, New Zealand, the staging point for deployment to Antarctica's McMurdo Station. During their two weeks in New Zealand, they will make several trips each week to Antarctica to transport people and supplies. The missions to the bottom of the world are flown in three phases. The initial preparation phase, called Winfly because it occurs during winter in Antarctica, begins in August. The re-supply phase takes place during the continent's spring and summer from the end of September through mid-November. The re-deployment phase takes place in February.

In October, 445th AW aircrews airlifted people, supplies and equipment to McMurdo Station for scientific operations at the beginning of the south pole summer. With the dark Antarctic winter on its way, the 445th AW will provide passenger and cargo service for foundation people to return to New Zealand.

Operation Deep Freeze "missions are the most difficult missions we operate in a non-combat environment because there is no margin for error," said Col. David Walker, from the 4th Air Force operations division at March Air Reserve Base, Calif. "The weather conditions in Antarctica are like nowhere else in the world."

Average temperatures in Antarctica range from minus 70 F in the interior during the winter to 36 degrees along the coast in the summer. Winds can gust up to 200 mph. The 445th AW has been participating in Operation Deep Freeze since October 2001 along with the 452nd Air Mobility Wing from March ARB. C-141s have been resupplying the National Science Foundation community in Antarctica since 1966.

Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft are in the process of taking over the mission as C-141s are being phased out of service. (Courtesy of AFRC News Service)

FMI: www.af.mil

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