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    New York National Guard Airmen build a snow runway in the High Arctic to Support Canadian mission

    New York Supports Operation Nunalivut 2016

    Photo By Master Sgt. Jamie Spaulding | An LC-130 "Skibird" from the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing sits on...... read more read more



    Story by Airman 1st Class Jamie Spaulding 

    New York National Guard

    LITTLE CORNWALLIS ISLAND, Nunavut, Canada—Eight Airmen from the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing spent two weeks carving a snow and ice “skiway” on this uninhabited High Arctic Island so ski-equipped LC-130s could transport supplies in support of the Canadian Forces Operation Nunalivut, 2016.

    Beginning on April 4, the American airmen braved temperatures that averaged -47 degree Fahrenheit, to prepare a snow runway, or skiway for the LC-130s.

    After the mile-long skiway was marked with flags, the Airmen used snowmobiles to drag specialized groomers –similar to those used to prepare a snowmobile trail—along the route. Working two snowmobiles at a time the groomers worked from the center outward in a circular motion to keep the skiway clear.

    The eight Airmen who were part of the team were among 50 109th Airmen who participated in Canada’s Operation Nunalivut; a three-week joint exercise conducted annually among U.S., Canadian and Danish forces in the Canadian Arctic.

    This is the third year the New York Airmen, based at Stratton Air National Guard Base, Schenectady, New York, have participated in the Canadian military exercise.

    The skiway construction team completed the skiway construction in a matter of days. They continued to maintain the skiway against the austere weather conditions until the first LC-130 could land on April 13.

    Within two days, the 109th flew six missions to the camp, hauling 47,500 pounds of cargo and nearly 60 passengers. In support of the entire exercise, including deployment and redeployment, the 109th flew 11 missions and hauled a total of 91,700 pounds of cargo.

    “What we do is an extremely big asset to other entities up in the North, both foreign and domestic,” said Maj. Matthew Sala.

    This is the third year Sala has been part of the skiway construction team for this exercise.

    “By partaking in these exercises, we hope to show those other agencies that we’re out there because people have no idea the 109th can do what we do. And every year, time and time again, I get introduced to these people are like ‘Wow, we had no idea that the New York Air National Guard had the capability of doing this,” Sala said.

    Along with Little Cornwallis Island, the remainder of the group of Airmen, consisting of aircrew and maintainers, operated out of Resolute Bay, Canada, and Thule Air Base, Greenland, with two LC-130s.

    "Our support for Operation Nunalivut allows us to demonstrate our full range of polar expeditionary airlift capabilities in a joint U.S. and Canadian environment," said Col. Shawn Clouthier, the 109th Airlift Wing commander. "I'm proud of our Airmen for the great work they are doing in showcasing our unique mission all over the world."

    The Canadians have ski-equipped Twin Otter aircraft which don't have the lift capacity or range the 109th LC-130s have.

    The LC-130s are able to provide up to 9,000 pounds of cargo per flight as opposed to 1,200 pounds the Canadians' Twin Otters can carry.
    The LC-130 is able to transport in one trip what the Twin Otters would need 10 flights to move.

    Operation Nunalivut is a sovereignty operation conducted annually since 2007 in Canada's North. According to the Canadian Forces Joint Task Force-North, the exercise provides an opportunity for the Canadian Armed Forces to assert Canada's sovereignty over to northernmost regions; demonstrate the ability to operate in the harsh winter environment in remote areas of the High Arctic; and enhance its capability to respond to any situation in Canada's North.

    Nunalivut means "land that is ours" in the Inuktitut language of the eastern Inuit people who live in the region.

    The 109th Airlift Wing's LC-130 aircraft--- the largest aircraft in the world which can land on skies-are used to provide support to National Science Foundation research operations in Greenland and Antarctica.



    Date Taken: 04.22.2016
    Date Posted: 04.26.2016 10:24
    Story ID: 196516
    Hometown: SCHENECTADY, NY, US

    Web Views: 393
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