Skibirds Pick up the Slack

A swarm of seven LC-130 transports is airlifting researchers and supplies back from McMurdo Station, Antarctica, as the summer research season there ends. The Skibirds are slated to make their final shuttle flights this week from McMurdo to Christchurch, New Zealand, according to a Feb. 13 release from the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing in Scotia that operates these ski-equipped airplanes. The LC-130s provide support to the researchers each year, but normally, the Air Force uses C-17s for the airlift out of McMurdo at the end of the season. However, the New York Air Guardsmen had to step in this year since warm temperatures and volcanic ash turned McMurdo’s ice airstrip to mush, preventing C-17s from landing there, states the release. “The unique capabilities of our aircraft have made it possible for scientists to do their work and get the most of the Antarctic summer research season,” said Col. Shawn Clouthier, 109th AW commander. The wing deployed an extra LC-130, making seven in total, to help provide the extra support.