factor which plays any significant role in this high adventure in the
far north is the dedication and skill of the aircrews who carry-out the
annual airlift operation. For the most part, they and the ski-equipped
C-130's represent the only physical links the ice-captive Dye Sites
have with the outside world.
Every landing and take-off made on the ice cap is a calculated
risk resting solely in the skill of the men in the cockpit. Airborne
radar and "being talked-in" are standard procedures for each landing.
The runways and parking ramps servicing the Dye Sites consist of no
more than bulldozer smoothed stretches of ice and snow. Diesel fuel
and other POL products air lifted by C-130 aircraft to the Dye Sites are
packaged in 500 gallon collapsible bladders at Sondrestrom from the
main tank farm. These bladders, like the larger ones used for storage
at the sites are cylindrical in form. They were originally so designed
for quick unloading operations, but unfortunately this is limited to
hard surface operation. There, they can be rolled out of the aircraft
and to storage, by one or two men relying only on muscle- power. On ice,
especially Chat covered with a coat of loose snow, this becomes a physi-
cal impossibility. Consequently, when the "Bladders" are filled at
Sondrestrom, they are lashed in pairs on heavy equipment drop pallets.
Three such pallets constitute a full C-130 load which represents three
thousand gallons or about 25,000 pounds. From time to time, small
amounts of miscellaneous materiel, supplies, personnel, mail, etc, are
also carried with the three pallets. On arrival at the Dye Sites, bull-
dozers, winches and sleds are used to drag the pallets from the C-130's
cargo hold and to the storage tank area. As empty bladders accumulateat the Dye Sites they are loaded on the empty C-130's for the return trip to Sondrestrom.
Fighting for every minute of flyable weather, this operation is
highly reminiscent of other famous air lifts of past USAF history. Sel-
dom, unless the airworthiness of the aircraft is suspect, are engines
shut down for the off-loading operation. While the engines idle, waiting
ice cap ground crews join forces with the C-130 loadmasters to draw these
ungainly cargoes onto the snow and permit speedy returns to Sondrestrom
for the next load. Under ideal conditions - if all goes well, if tied-
down chains don't snarl, if the load doesn't skew and hang-up in the
cargo compartment - the C-130 can discharge its load of six bladders in about 20 to 25 minutes. Unloading difficulties in the Arctic tempera-
tures even in its "summer-time" are frequent, however, and turn-around
unloadings are not achieved on every sortie. The altitudes at which the
Dye Sites #2 and #3 are located also contribute to the difficulties of
unloading. Dye Site #2 has an altitude of 7650 feet and #3 lies at about
8700 feet. The air gets thin at this height especially where heavy
manual exertion is required of personnel accustomed to much lower levels.
This is especially hard on the aircrew personnel assisting with the off-
loading operation. The normally prevailing sub-zero temperatures also
contribute liberally to the further discomfort of these arduous physical
demands. This, then, is the broad picture of the annual POL airlift to
the interior ice cap radar sites. Against this challenging and forbidding
backdrop, Captain Glenn and his crew established a unique and unparalleled
record of achievement.