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Courtesy: New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing The 109th Airlift Wing, the only unit in the United States military equipped with ski landing gear, has provided airlift support for the National Science Foundation's South Pole research since 1988. Since 1999 the unit has been the sole provided of this type of airlift to the National Science Foundation and United States Antarctic research efforts. By Lt. Col. Edward Vaughan Operation DEEP FREZE (ODF) has its roots in the storied history of the US Navy's explorations in Antarctica. As far back as 1839, Captain Charles Wilkes led the first US Naval Expedition into Antarctic Waters. In 1929, Admiral Richard E. Byrd established naval outposts on the Antarctic coast and began conducting photographic and geologic mapping operations around the continent on snowshoe, dog-sled, snow mobile, and airplane. On November 28, 1929, Byrd and his crew made their historic first flight over the South Pole. After several more expeditions to Antarctica, in 1946, Byrd organized the US Navy's Operation Highjump, which put more than 4000 people and numerous ships and other craft into the area of the Ross Sea. In 1948, Commander Finn Ronne led an expedition that photographed over 450000 square miles of the continent by air. The International Geophysical Year 1957--58, or IGY, as it was known, marked a turning point in Antarctic exploration. With the IGY, science would become the primary focus of the US presence in Antarctica. Preparing ...