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The Air National Guard's Newest Cold Warriors

  • Published
  • By SSgt Michael O'Halloran
  • 105AW Public Affairs
The air temperature on the ground was -25 degrees Celsius when New York Air National Guard Capt. James Cartica, a pilot with the 137th Airlift Squadron made his first rough field landing ever.

He "nailed it",  landing a 105th Airlift Wing C-17 Globemaster III onto the compacted snow and gravel runway on Victoria Island,  here on March 23, 2015.

He made a a Semi-Prepared Runway Operations, landing well within the 500 foot landing zone of the 4,500ft runway and with surface conditions providing good traction and braking ability.

Cartica and aircrew members Maj Ryan Daugherty, Maj Paul Jancsy, and Capt Michael Rose, kept the engine running as - loadmasters, Tech Sgt. Adam Croxton and Staff Sgt Michael Segretti rapidly brought aboard their cargo:  two pallets, and six  New York Air National Guardsmen of the 109th Airlift Squadron. Meanwhile flying Crew Chiefs, Master Sgt Gregory Shaver and Staff Sgt Joseph Fitzsimmons monitored a nose gear strut that had been leaking fluid during the first few days of the trip.

Total mission ground time, a mere 35 minutes.

This Arctic landing, Cartica's "best experience in the C-17 to date", was a first for the 105th.The National Guard Airmen were landing at a primitive runway in the Canadian High Arctic as part of the U.S. Military participation in Canadian Forces Operation NUNALIVUT 2015.

NUNALIVUT is a Canadian sovereignty exercise held annually since 2007 that exhibits the interoperability of Canadian, U.S., and other military allied forces along with additional Canadian government institutions in the High Arctic.

The New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing, which flies ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules "Ski birds" participated in the NUNALIVUT exercise in 2014 and is also part of NUNALVUT 2015. This year the 105th Airlift Wing took part as well.

The 105th became involved in this year's Arctic exercise because the 109th Airlift Wing needed support so they could participate in their second exercise with the Canadian Air Forces, Rose said.

The C-17 crew transported a landing zone survey team from the 109AW and a full load of C-130 support equipment to Yellowknife, in Canada's Northern Territories, prior to landing at Cambridge Bay.

Of the 8 man flight crew, only Maj Ryan Daugherty and Capt Michael Rose had any SPRO landing experiences." The particular type of airfield surface at Cambridge Bay was new for all of us," Rose said.

The 105th is no stranger to missions involving extremely cold weather.

In April of 2008 the unit, flying the C-5 Galaxy at that time, began transporting U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) personnel, vehicles and equipment to Thule Air Base in, Qaasuitsup, Greenland, located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

The wing also engaged in airlift support of the 109th Airlift Wing's mission: moving Airmen, equipment and supplies to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, the former site of Sondrestom Air Base, where they support the NSF and conduct real-world training in polar tactical airlift operations. Additionally Stewart airlifters began transporting 109th Antarctic mission support personnel and cargo to Christchurch New Zealand in 2008.

Most recently the 105th's home station which is located in the Mid-Hudson valley has experienced two brutally cold winters. Working in double digit below zero temperatures, the New York Air National Guardsmen maintained, launched and flew C-17s supporting Air Mobility Command mission taskings in bone chilling air brought down from the north by Polar Vortexes.

The thawing of the Polar Regions has made a large part of the planet, once only accessible to a resilient native population and intrepid adventurers open to exploration and transit, said Col. Timothy LaBarge, the wing's commander. That means more missions for the 105th, he said.

"The 105th Airlift Wing has highly trained personnel, the necessary equipment, and the experience to support the Department of Defense's ability to conduct strategic airlift operations to the Arctic and Antarctic regions," LaBarge said.