Airmen at Joint Base Lewis-McChord call their annual assignment supplying researchers in Antarctica their most dangerous noncombat mission. For the 500th time, they made that trip safely in a C-17 Globemaster III to an outpost near the bottom of the planet.
The Air Force today crowed about the achievement for McChord Airfield’s 62nd Airlift Wing and 446th Reserve Airlift Wing. McChord teams have been supplying scientific research at McMurdo Station since 1997. They’ve been using a fleet of C-17 s since 1999.
“Knowing that during these missions we have directly contributed to the advancement of scientific research and provided a lifeline to the isolated continent is a great feeling,” said Lt. Col. Brent Keenan, who is commanding Operation Deep Freeze.
“I look forward to flying the next set of 500 missions,” he added in Air Force news release.
The Air Force missions to Antarctica support National Science Foundation researchers out of McMurdo Station. They fly from Christchurch, New Zealand to an ice runway at McMurdo. The 2,000-mile trip takes about five hours.
This year, the Air Force plans to fly 48 missions to McMurdo and back.
“We are extremely proud of this milestone; 500 missions is a significant accomplishment,” said Col. Wyn Elder, commander of the 62nd Airlift Wing at McChord. “Team McChord’s support to the National Science Foundation is an important and rewarding mission.”