This four-engine turboprop transport airplane, the backbone of U.S. transportation within Antarctica, provides much of the air service between McMurdo Station and New Zealand. The LC-130 is the polar version of the familiar C-130 cargo plane; its major unique feature is the ski-equipped landing gear, which enables operation on snow or ice surfaces throughout Antarctica. The plane also has wheels for landings on prepared hard surfaces. It was introduced to the Antarctic program in 1960; the National Science Foundation's fleet numbers six, operated by the U.S. Air National Guard.
The plane has a cargo area of 12 by 3 by 3 meters. It can, as an example, carry 12,200 kilograms of people and/or cargo from McMurdo to South Pole (728 nautical miles or 840 statue miles), then return to McMurdo without refueling. It cruises at 275 knots. Wingspan is 40 meters; length overall, 30 meters.