With a determined scowl, Captain Dan O'Mara advances the throttles to taxi the C-130 out for an open-snow takeoff at Milicent. After several attempmts, Capt. O'Mara made a successful departure using rocket assistance for added power.

Men from the site remove bags of mail and a package from a Hercules

John Rand, a CRREL engineer, heaves a silvery tube into the aft cargo compartment of the C-130. The tubes contain the ice cores recovered from the drilling operation far below the Greenland Ice Cap.

Airlift squadron delivers scientists to ice cap

Aircrews of the 17th Tactical Airlift Squadron at Elmendorf have joined forces with scientists and engineers from Denmark, Switzerland, and the United State's Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, to further explorations of the mysteries of Greenlands ice cap.

The C-130 Hercules of the 17th provide transportation for the teams and their equipment. The research will delve into snow accumulations, temperature changes, pressures and ages of the ice cap samples.

Flights to resupply and for movement of the teams' will continue throughout the remaining summer months. Last week, site Milcent was fully operational and sending core samples from its ice drilling machinery to laboratories at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

To Spend 10 Weeks

The CRREL and Danish Geophysical Institute teams, headed by Dr. Chester Langley and Dr. Sigfus Johnsen respectively, will spend a total of 10 weeks on the ice cap. The first four weeks will be spent at site Milcent and the last six weeks of research will be conducted at site Crete.

"Two holes will be drilled in the ice and snow at Milcent to a depth of 500 meters (more than 1,600 feet)," John Rand, IC CRREL engineer, explained. "During the drilling, core samples will be taken and shipped back for more complete studies."

On the first flight to Milcent, Maj. Ralph Hatch, 17th navigator, picked up on his radar metal poles that had been left at the location on previous expeditions. Using these tiny radar returns in the immense whiteness of the ice cap he directed the C-130 to the precise location for the teams to begin their work.

Aircraft Eliminate Drudgery

"Without the flights by these aircraft," a team member remarked, "our efforts would be impossible." The uniquely equipped aircraft eliminate the laborious, time consuming drudgery of surface movement onto and across the rugged ice cap. By landing near a desired location, heavy loads can, be off-loaded and put to use in minimum time.

Open-snow landings present many possible problems. Crevasses and rough ridges may be obscured from vision by surface snow. Conditions of the snow can prevent easy movement of the heavy aircraft.

Capt. Dan O'Mara, 17th pilot, found such snow conditions on his resupply trip to Milicent. "When I saw we only had 38 knots (approximately 45 miles per hour) with full power on our first run, I knew we had problems," he said.

To get the aircraft in the air again, a slide area had to be packed by the slow movement the Hercules. Then many runs were require while operating the aircraft at its maximum capabilities before the C-130 lumbered into the air.








Air Force photos by Maj. Ken Barker








With props spinning, the C-130 taxies within a few feet of the camp for off-loading of cargo and supplies.

Newspaper article circa August 1972.

Courtesy of:
Mearl A. "Burt" Nichols
Firebird Navigator

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