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Press Release 99-009

Navy Flies Last Antarctic Mission


February 16, 1999

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

CHRISTCHURCH, NZ -- The U.S. Navy made its final flight in support of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) U.S. Antarctic Program today, bringing to an end an important 44-year era in naval aviation.

Logistical support for the U.S Antarctic Program is now carried out by the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing, based in Schenectady, N.Y.

For more than four decades, the Navy squadron had played a vital role in shuttling personnel and cargo to Antarctica and to research locations throughout the continent.

The last ski-equipped LC-130 cargo aircraft flight by VXE-6, the Antarctic Development Squadron, was made from McMurdo Station in Antarctica to Christchurch, New Zealand at dusk, where it was met by a large crowd of well-wishers.

The people of Christchurch will honor the aviators and support personnel of VXE-6 Saturday, Feb. 20 on the grounds of Christchurch International Airport, staging location for U.S. Antarctic Program operations in New Zealand.

"This is a proud but somber day for the men and women of VXE 6 and the U.S. Navy," stated Commander Dave Jackson, the unit's last commanding officer. "For more than 44 years, the U.S. Navy has committed itself to leading the way in the support of science in Antarctica. Today, I am proud to say that our mission is done."

Decommissioning ceremonies for VXE-6 will be held on Mar. 27 at the squadron's home station, Point Mugu Naval Air Station in Oxnard, Calif.

The Schenectady-based 109th is now the world's only ski- equipped C-130 unit.

For more information or to arrange interviews with Cdr. Jackson, contact: Operation Deep Freeze spokesman Maj. Bob Bullock in New Zealand at 011-643-358-1495 or 011-643-358-1407 or after hours at 011-643-358-8129. Photos of the last Navy takeoff from Antarctica are available upon request.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Peter West, NSF, (703) 292-7761, pwest@nsf.gov

Program Contacts
Maj. Bob Bullock, USAF Christchurch, N.Z., 011-643-358-149, bullock@usaf.mil

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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