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From helicopters to bulldozers, McChord supports Operation Deep Freeze

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Todd Wivell
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Continuing the Defense Department's longstanding support of the National Science Foundation, a Joint Base Lewis-McChord crew, made up of 62nd and 446th Airlift Wing members, safely completed another run to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, Oct 8, as part of their contribution to the U.S. Antarctic Program.

Typically the crews of Operation Deep Freeze take on passengers and pallets of cargo; however, the most recent trip consisted of transporting a helicopter out to the station and brought back a bulldozer to Christchurch, New Zealand.

The aircraft was an Eurocopter AS350 B2 single engine helicopter that did not have its blades attached. The blades were loaded separately in a crate and then installed once the helicopter was taken off the C-17 Globemaster III at McMurdo Station.

"This helicopter will be used to transport personnel around the ice," according to one of the helicopter pilots. "It will also be used to lift and move cargo around and has the capabilities of lifting up to 1.5 tons."

During the return flight to Christchurch, the crew took back a Caterpillar D-8 bulldozer.

"The C-17 provides tremendous capabilities to the USAP by transporting large equipment such as the helicopter and dozer," said Lt. Col. Rob Schmidt, the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander and 62nd Operations Group deputy commander. "Those stationed at McMurdo greatly appreciate the mail, fresh fruits and vegetables we deliver but being able to transport this unique and heavy equipment is a key component of the C-17 ODF airlift capabilities."

USAP operations started Sept. 29, and will continue through early spring of 2015, however due to the changes in weather during the last few seasons the rotations of the McChord crew and aircraft at Christchurch will end in November 2014.

NSF manages the USAP and maintains three year-round stations on the continent.