Friday, October 10, 2014

From helicopters to bulldozers - McChord supports ODF

by Master Sgt. Todd Wivell
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

10/9/2014 - CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand -- Continuing the Department of Defense's longstanding support of the National Science Foundation, a 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 to include mail, fresh fruits and vegetables and other supplies for those assigned to the station but on this particular mission, they transported 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 down-loaded from the C-17 Globemaster III at NSF's McMurdo Station.

The weight of the helicopter and blades increased the total weight of the cargo by approximately 4,900 pounds.

"This helicopter will be used to transport personnel around the ice," stated one of the helicopter pilots that flew on the C-17 as a passenger on this particular trip. "It will also be used to lift and move cargo around and has the capabilities of lifting up to 1.5 tons."

With the cargo pallets, the helicopter and the 62 passengers on board, the C-17 had a combined cargo weight of 49,200 pounds. Add that in with the fuel weight and weight of the aircraft, the weight limit on this mission was almost maxed out.

Maximum take-off weight for the C-17 Globemaster III is 585,000 pounds and maximum cargo weight is 170,900 pounds.

That weight limit was pushed further to the limit when on the return flight to Christchurch, the crew picked up a Caterpillar D-8 bulldozer.

The bulldozer did not have its blade attached but still had an approximate weight of 49,200 pounds.

"The C-17 provides tremendous capabilities to the USAP by transporting large equipment such as the helicopter and dozer," said Lt. Col. Rob Schmidt, 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."

U.S. Antarctic Program operations for started Sept. 29 when the U.S. military kicked off the 2014-2015 season and will continue through early spring of 2015, however due to the changes in weather over the last few seasons the rotations of McChord crew and aircraft at Christchurch will end in November of 2014.

NSF manages the U.S. Antarctic Program and maintains three year-round stations on the continent.

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