ztc021999 aa1a www.radiocom.net Info: NCO
The Quincy Mass. Patriot Ledger, Wed.,Feb.17,1999 w/CLOSE-UP
Navy ends supply flights to South Pole ( XD-04 last take off pix ) By Peter James Spielmann Associated Press
The last Navy plane flew out of Antarctica today,
ending an American Naval tradition of polar service
stretching back more than 160 years.
Operation Deep Freeze, the mission to supply American
and New Zealand Antarctic bases on the Ross Sea
coast, was turned over last year to an Air National Guard
detachment operating out of Schenectady, N.Y.
The Navy phased out its operations over several years
to cut costs, finally turning over the last of them to the
Air National Guard, which also supports U.S. Military
bases in the Arctic Greenland.
Naval traditions in Antarctica go back to Brittish Capt.
James Cook's first expedition into Antarctic waters in
1773, when he first sighted the ice barrier surrounding
The U.S. Navy sent its first expedition south in 1838,
when Lt. Charles Wilkes explored about 1,200 miles of
the Antarctic Peninsula.
U.S. interest in Antarctica waned until the 20th
century, when Adm. Richard E. Byrd, who claimed to
have flown over the North Pole in 1926, reported a flight
over the South Pole in 1929.
In 1946, Byrd led a massive Navy exercise to prepare
the U.S. military to fight the Soviet Union in polar
Antarctica was chosen because war games in Alaska or
Canada would have been too provocative.
Byrd led 4,700 men on 13 ships and 33 aircraft into
Antarctica, pioneering the use of helecopters and ice-
breakers. The exercise was by far the biggest expedition
ever sent to the continent.
The Navy's rugged support force for the continent
include the " Puckered Penguin's " six Bell Huey helicopters that airlifted scientists and their
cargo to remote Antarctic stations.
Other pilots also belonged to the Navy's VXE-6 flight
detachment, which flew six aging C-130 Hercules
The planes brought in supplies and people, landing on
either skis or wheels, depending on whether they set
down on snow or ice runways.
The last Navy flight from McMurdo base was a C-130
Hercules cargo plane from the VXE-6 squadron.
Fifty Americans have died in Antarctica since the
Navy renewed its modern expeditions in 1955.