National Guardsmen off to Antarctica
Ozone depletion, global warming, climate change - all are subjects scientists are studying right now in Antarctica. But did you know the New York Air National Guard is an integral part of this research? Twenty-four guardsmen took off Tuesday for the frigid continent, in a mission dubbed "Operation Deep Freeze." YNN's Megan Cruz has the story.
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GLENVILLE, N.Y. -- "8:30 a.m. take off?"
Guardsmen at the Stratton Air National Guard Base in Glenville finish prepping one of their LC-130s, fueling up for Antarctica Tuesday morning.
About 24 guardsmen will be onboard as part of Operation Deep Freeze.
"Such a unique mission, there's nothing else like it out there in the world," said Captain Daniel Marchegiani.
From October to February, 120 guardsmen from the 109th Airlift Wing will be in and out of Antarctica to help support the National Science Foundation. The federal agency is there to study topics like climate change and global warming.
"Getting the personnel and their equipment out to the locations where they're going to study what they need to study," said Marchegiani.
Marchegiani will pilot one of the planes, whose landing gear is specially equipped with skis.
"Largest aircraft in the world that can land on snow," he said.
It's the Captain's 6th year making the trip. He says the neatest part of his job is, "going to a location no one has ever been to. So the scientists get together and say they want to do some research here, we do a survey to make sure it's a safe place to land, we go out there and land and no one's ever been on that piece of snow until we touch down. That's pretty cool," he said.
What's not cool? Being cold.
"Coldest I've seen at the Pole is minus 45 degrees," said Marchegiani.
The 11,000-mile trip to Antarctica will take 5 days: they'll go from Glenville to California, Hawaii, the Samoan Islands, New Zealand, then Antarctica.
Most of the crew will stay for an average of 8 weeks.
The Captain says he's glad to serve - for science and his family.
"It's kind of a family tradition," he said. "My father was a pilot with the unit for 22 years, and now I'm here doing the same thing."