For the reasons stated above, the Alaskan Air Command categorized the Greenland resupply mission as a "Calculated Risk" operation. We knew the risks for accidents were greater when we operated on the Ice Cap. Our goal was to accomplish the mission while minimizing accidents, and prevent any personal injury or loss of life.

The winter of 1972 was particularly severe on the Ice Cap. By April 1972 no resupply flights had been made to Dye II for over a month due to weather. Food and supplies were being rationed to the personnel that manned Dye II, emphasizing the desperate need for the cargo we planned to deliver. The station itself was beginning to freeze up due to the extreme temperatures. Station personnel had been moved to the center most rooms because that was the only area at the station that remained above freezing. Additionally, one of the Dye II station personnel had been notified that he should return home immediately because his young daughter was critically ill and not expected to live.

On the fateful day of our mission to Dye II the weather was again out of limits. The surface wind was reported to be a 35 knots direct cross wind to the runway with gusts to 50 knots. The maximum allowable crosswind component, based upon Lockheed performance charts, was 35 knots. Visibility on the surface was reported to be zero with blowing snow. The wind chill factor was minus 80 degrees requiring a waiver from Alaskan Air Command. The marginal weather conditions were communicated to the Command Headquarters at Elmendorf AFB, along with our justification for why we believed the flight should proceed. Approval was granted!

The C-130D crew was composed of Colonel James R. (Jim) Larkins, Pilot (and Vice Commander of the 21st Composite Wing, Elmendorf AFB, AK), and Lt. Col. Charles T. (Charlie) Heifner, Instructor Pilot (and Ops. Officer of the 17th TAS), Major George Langfield, Instructor Navigator, Major Bruce Coffin, Observer (C-124 pilot), one student navigator, one flight engineer, and two loadmasters, all from the 17th TAS, Elmendorf. We knew we were about to launch on one of those "calculated risk" missions, but hoping for a break in the weather, we were determined to complete the mission to Dye II. 

Prior to the approach we carefully reviewed the proper technique to set the web-footed beast down without having an accident. Since neither a wing low or a crab technique could be effected safely it would be up to the skill of Larkins to successfully take out the wind drift correction and set the aircraft on the snow runway at the precise moment before the wind began to drift the aircraft sideways across the runway. Both pilots possessed the supreme confidence that comes with experience and believed that with a little cooperation from the wind gusts the actual landing could be accomplished successfully, but it was now time to fish or cut bait.



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