Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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109th Airlift Wing embarks on Canadian mission

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Albany/HV: 109th Airlift Wing embarks on Canadian mission
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SCOTIA, N.Y. -- The massive grey aircrafts are the only LC-130 ski-equipped planes in the country, and they are stationed right here at the Air National Guard Base in Scotia.

"We obviously have a responsibility to provide military ski support to commanders in the polar regions," said Lt. Col. Cliff Souza, the Chief of Tactics.

On Friday, two of the aircrafts, and 40 men from the base will be taking off to participate in a bi-lateral exercise in Canada to support military operations important in emergency situations. The exercise marks the first trip of its kind.

"We have the ability with the ski plane to go out and land and set up operations at locations that might act as a staging area for other search and rescue forces," said Souza.

He is in charge of the mission. Souza said the biggest challenge for his men will be at the very beginning of the week-long mission, landing safely.

Souza said, "We haven't gone out to land on the sea ice in about 15 years up in the high arctic."

The 109th Wing will be able to bring fuel and supplies to the staged deployed locations in one trip. It would take the aircrafts used by the Canadian Airforce ten trips.

Souza said this is the first time in recent history the two nations are working together, and with an expected increase in need for aircrafts in the Arctic, working simultaneously is important.

"We have the capabilities and knowledge to do that here in Schenectady, but we can't always be the ones going out and building these things ourselves. so we need to work with our supporting customers," said Souza.

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