Big planes are heading back to the ice as airmen from Joint Base Lewis-McChord run flights to supply researchers at the National Science Foundation’s Antarctica operations.
Pilots and loadsmen from Lewis-McChord’s 62nd Airlift Wing and 446th Airlift Wing are regulars on annual missions for Operation Deep Freeze. Their marquee plane – the C17 Globemaster – has been delivering supplies to Antarctica since 1999. This year, the mission is expected to take place from Sept. 26 through February 24.
“This is my favorite mission,” Lt. Colonel Christopher Von Thaden told an Air Force public affairs writer. “We get to help scientists make important discoveries, it’s a completely peaceful mission, there are no hostilities… you’re even nice to the penguins.”
Thirty-two active-duty and reserve airmen from Lewis-McChord also played a key role in the early phase of this year’s Deep Freeze. In August, they delivered 200 tons of advance cargo and 400 passengers from New Zealand to the base in Antarctica.