THIS ELMENDORF-BASED C-130D was damaged in June during a scientific airlift operation 400 miles east of Thule on the Greenland Ice Cap. It took a crew about 33 hours to replace the propeller and engine under trying conditions. Elevation at the site was 8,000 feet. Temperatures were never above 20 degrees. The plane was one of two from Elmendorf used to fly in the scientific mission.





An Elmendorf Air Force Base plane was damaged during a supply lift operation 400 miles east of Thule, Greenland, in late June, the Alaskan Air Command revealed publicly for the first time last night. The plane, piloted by Captain William E. Bless of the 17th Troop Carrier Squadron, was damaged when the right outboard propeller struck a ridge of snow. The propeller was bent and the engine badly damaged as the plane taxied to the unloading area on the Greenland Ice Cap on June 20th. Crew members of the damaged C-130D spent the Arctic night on the ice cap. Meanwhile, a second plane in the flight returned to Thule for men and equipment to repair the aircraft.

The next morning, according to the Alaskan Air Command, another engine and maintenance team arrived from Thule. The crew, led by SM/Sgt. R. H. Pierce of the 21st Operational Maintenance Squadron set to the task of changing the engine and prop. Unnecessary personnel returned to Thule aboard the supply craft.

On the afternoon of June 22, Captain Bless and his crew returned with a scheduled load of supplies for the site. By evening the repaired C-130 was cleared for takeoff to Thule. The work has taken approximately 33 hours and was accomplished under trying conditions, the Alaskan Air Command reported. Plywood paneling had to be flown to the site to support maintenance equipment. A crane to lower the damaged engine and to lift the new one had to be erected.

The damaged plane was one of two used to fly scientific personnel and equipment to the "Blue Ice" site where scientific instruments were to placed. On September 15, the 17th Troop Carrier Squadron began returning the scientific mission from the Blue Ice site.

Newspaper article:

Anchorage Daily News
Anchorage, Alaska
Wednesday, September 28, 1966

Article courtesy of:

William E. "Bill" Bless
Aircraft Commander
17th Troop Carrier Squadron