S: Chronicles of The Old Antarctic Explorer
BC: THE NAVY'S VXE-6 FLIES ITS LAST ANTARCTIC MISSION The U.S. NAVY made its final flight in support of the National Science Foundation (NSF) on February 16, 1999, 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, 109th Airlift Wing based in Schenectady, N.Y. For more than four decades, the Navy Squadron VXE-6 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 Navy cargo aircraft flight by Antarctic Development Squadron Six, 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 on Saturday, February 20th at the Christchurch International Airport, the 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 March 27, 1999 at the squadron's home station at the Point Mugu Naval Air Station in California. The Schenectady, NY based 109th is now the world's only ski-equipped C-130 unit. Source: National Science Foundation - February 16, 1999
FC: Chronicles of The Old Antarctic Explorer | 1955 ~ 1999 | O P E R A T I O N D E E P - F R E E Z E | V X E - 6 A N T A R C T I C D E V R O N S I X
1: Table of Contents | Chronicles of The Old Antarctic Explorer "O P E R A T I O N D E E P F R E E Z E" Antarctic Development Squadron Six VX-6 (1955 - 1968) VXE-6 (1969 - 1999) | i | Forward....................................Page iv Mission.....................................Page 01 Winter Over Views.....................Page 03 History......................................Page 07 Preserving the Past....................Page 11 Air Support................................Page 13 Aircraft LC-130 & UH1N..............Page 15 Para Rescue..............................Page 33 Damaged Aircraft.......................Page 37 Historical Huts............................Page 39 Antarctic Wildlife........................Page 47 Edge Corner..............................Page 55 Under Water..............................Page 57 Scott Base Views........................Page 59 Willy Field Strip Rats ..................Page 63 Then and Now............................Page 65 Old Antarctic Explorer Resolution..Page 79
2: The cold, mysterious continent located at the bottom of the Earth. It's majestic realm is filled with wondrous sights... snow and ice that seem practically endless, and natural wildlife in its purest form. A virtually inaccessible domain that less than one percent of the world's population has been able to experience. Venturing deep within its frozen terrain and unlocking the many secrets of our planet's history, the National Science Foundation heads up the program known as... "OPERATION DEEP FREEZE" | A n t a r c t i c a ... | ii | A n t a r c t i c a ...
3: To perform such a unique mission, it takes special personnel who display courage, sacrifice, and devotion to the work they do in an environment that can be brutal and unforgiving; where temperatures average seventy degrees below zero and winds gust in excess of one hundred miles per hour. Some of the people supporting this task of exploration were part of one of the most unique squadrons in the United States Navy... a squadron known as ANTARCTIC DEVELOPMENT SQUADRON SIX | iii | To perform such a unique mission, it takes special personnel who display Courage, Sacrifice, and Devotion to the work they do in an environment that can be brutal and unforgiving; where temperatures average seventy degrees below zero and winds can gust in excess of one hundred miles per hour. Some of the people supporting this task of exploration were part of one of the most unique squadrons in the United States Navy... a squadron known as ANTARCTIC DEVELOPMENT SQUADRON SIX
4: Forward When Naval photographer, Eddie Martin, first found out the Navy had a program enabling US Naval personnel to work in the Antarctic Program, like many of us, he was hopeful that an opportunity to be able to visit Antarctica would present itself. Eddie's dream would finally come true in 1991. His transfer orders placed him with the Antarctic Development Squadron Six (VXE-6) based out of Point Mugu, California. Eddie started this publication to share some of the images he took during his time on Antarctica during his 1992-1993 and 1997-1999 seasons. Another major contributor to this book is enlisted sailor, AE-3 Rick Morales. Rick's good fortune placed him with the VXE-6 Squadron straight out of boot camp in 1979. Rick served on the Antarctic program from 1979 to 1984. He worked as a C-130 aircraft electrician at Williams Field and he also served on the squadron's Para Rescue Team from 1982-1984 performing rescue training missions on the continent for that 'just in case' moment. This is the only Squadron in the US Navy that worked, serviced and explored the vast Antarctic regions. VXE-6 allowed thousands of young men and women the privilege to travel to a place so few people ever get to leave their footprints. Although we were only a part of the "Puckered Penguin's" domain for a portion of its 44 year history, the impact of what we experienced will last a life-time. Was it cold? "YES!" Was it isolated? "YES". But, all the personnel involved with "The Operation Deep Freeze" were some of the best people that we've ever had the honor and privilege to work with. We would like to thank the flight crews, the squadron's support staff and the many various antarctic personnel that helped with the capturing of history in a very special place known as Antarctica! | iv | Naval Photographer Eddie Martin
5: v | AE-3 Rick Morales
6: M I S S I O N | 1 | S U P P O R T | S U M M E R O P E R A T I O N S October - March
7: 2 | S U P P L Y T H E C O N T I N E N T | T R A N S P O R T A T I O N
8: 5 | 3 | Imagine a day when the Sun never sets. Now imagine a day without it rising. Sound pretty extreme? Well that's exactly what happens for 6 months at a time in Antarctica. The amount of daylight or night-time in Antarctica depends on where you are – the closer you are to the South Pole, the more powerful the effect. The 'Winter-Over' months in Antarctica begin in April and end in late September. The moon and stars are the continent's only source of natural light, that is, when the clouds decide to give way to such a spectacular event. The average outside temperature falls to a frigid -70.0 C (-94F) in the winter months and then rises to -25 C (-13F) as spring approaches. Ah, Spring is in the air. The climate of Antarctica is the coldest on the entire planet. Antarctica has the lowest naturally occurring temperature ever recorded on the ground on Earth: -89.2 C (-128.6 F) at Vostok Station. Late September and October is considered the sunrise months as the sun begins to peek above the horizon showing its first signs of Spring. From November to March, the sky in Antarctica is filled with daylight 24 hours a day because the Sun moves across the sky, low above the horizon, but never sets. The weather is generally extremely dry throughout the year with the summer temperatures usually averaging around 0 - 2.0 C (32F-36F). With each passing day, the Sun's path gets closer to the horizon, until March, when it spends the days skimming the horizon. This is followed by a month of eerie twilight, marking the beginning of the almost 24-hour darkness of winter for the next 6 bone chilling months. | Sunrise Vs. Sunset in Antarctica
9: 6 | The weather in Antarctica can be highly variable, and the weather conditions can often change dramatically in short periods of time. There are three classifications for describing weather conditions in Antarctica. At least one of the following criteria must be met for each category. Condition 1 Wind Speed over 55 knots (60 miles per hour) Visibility less than 100 feet (30 meters) Wind chill below -73 C (-100 F) Description: Dangerous conditions; outside travel is not permitted Condition 2 Wind Speed of 48 to 55 knots (55 to 63 miles per hour) Visibility 1/4 of a mile to 100 feet (402 to 30 meters) Wind chill of -60 C (-75 F) to -73 C (-100 F) Description: Unpleasant conditions; outside travel is permitted but not recommended Condition 3 Wind Speed below 48 knots (55 miles per hour) Visibility greater than 1/4 of a mile (402 meters) Wind chill above -60 C (-75 F) Description: Pleasant conditions; all outside travel is permitted | 4 | Weather Condition Classifications | 4
10: 5 | Winter Over at the South Pole
11: 6 | Standing at The Center of The Earth | South Pole Aurora Lights
12: H I S T O R Y | 7 | Through a letter of agreement between the National Science Foundation and the United States Navy, Air Development Squadron Six (VX-6) was commissioned at Naval Air station Patuxent River, Maryland on January 17th, 1955 to provide air support for scientific research and exploration on the continent of Antarctica. During early DEEP FREEZE seasons, the squadron operated a variety of aircraft, including the P-2V Neptune (The Connie), DeHavilland Otter, C-57 Skymaster, C-117 Skytrain, R4D C-47, C-121 Super Constellation, and the CH-19 Sikorsky helicopter. In 1956, VX-6 was relocated to Naval Air Station, Quonset point, Rhode Island and conducted seventeen annual deployments from that location. In January 1969, the squadron was re-designated to Antarctic Development Squadron Six (VXE-6), and in 1974 was reassigned to Naval Air Station, Point Mugu, California, where it remained based until the Squadron's disestablishment in 1999.
13: 24 | 8
14: 9 | Early Birds
15: 24 | 10 | Aircraft From The Past
16: 11 | One of the things to make VXE-6 stand out from all the military commands that I've encountered was its amazing historical archive. It seems that the people attached to this unique command maintained a sense of pride in preserving the many accomplishments (and struggles) it encountered throughout its forty-four year mission. During my career, I've seen many places purge their image archives when deemed “necessary”, not the case with “The Word's Southernmost Airline”. Articles, imagery and film - all maintained as best as it could. A project I took on shortly after converting the traditional “Photo-Lab” to an all “Digital” facility was to electronically scan as much of the commands historical data as possible. Restoration was one of the key challenges my personnel and I encountered.… Newspaper and magazine articles had discolored; slides, negatives and prints sustained damage over the course of time. Learning to correct for those imperfections and still maintain the integrity of the originals was a time consuming and painstaking process. Pictured are some examples of the original and restored files that are now maintained at the Naval Historical Archive in Washington D.C. ~ Eddie Martin | PRESERVING the PAST | Repairing worn and damaged photo of a P-2V Neptune during a JATO (Jet Assist Take Off).
17: 12 | Repairing a "Water Damaged Photograph. | Corrected and cleaned newspaper articles. | Discolored and worn Newspaper article. | Image of LC-130 in flight over Antarctica, cleaned dust and scratches and color corrected for "yellowing of the aircraft.
18: A I R S U P P O R T | 13
19: 14 | The LC-130 Hercules is a turbo-prop transport made by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. Utilizing a combination wheel & ski tricycle landing gear, the Hercules is capable of landing on concrete, asphalt and ice runways with its wheels down, and on snow surfaces (finished or unfinished) with its skis down. This aircraft was used principally for direct delivery of cargo, and to "air-drop" supplies to the various camps and stations throughout the continent. It also flew reconnaissance and photographic mapping missions, as well as search and rescue missions. The U.S. Air Force introduced the ski-equipped Hercules during Deep Freeze ’60. The U.S. Navy obtained four improved models during Deep Freeze '61, improving the mission supporting science exploration in Antarctica. Six additional models were brought into service through 1976, operating a total of ten LC-130’s throughout the command's forty-four year tenure. | LC-130 "Hercules"
20: SQUADRON AIRCRAFT | 15 | LC-130 “Hercules” Length - 97ft 8 in Wingspan - 132ft 7in Height - 38ft 4in Maximum Gross Weight - 135,000lbs Average Payload: Maximum Cargo - 25,000lbs Maximum Fuel - 10,000lbs Cargo Compartment - 3,700 cu/ft. Fuel Consumption - 672 gal/hr Fuel Capacity - 7,150 gal Additional fuselage tank - add 3.600 gal Maximum Cruising Speed - 340mph Crew - 9 Engines - 4 Allison T56-A-16 Turbo-Prop Rated horsepower - 4,591
21: 16 | UH-1N “Huey” Length - 57ft 3in Width (elevator) - 9ft 4in Height (Tail Rotor to ground) - 14ft 7in Diameters: Main Rotor Diameter - 48ft 8 in Tail Rotor Diameter - 8ft 6in Maximum Gross Weight - 10,500lbs Maximum Internal Payload - 1,600lbs External Payload - 2,150lbs Forward Max Speed - 130 knots Sideward Max Speed - 35 knots Rearward Max Speed - 30 knots Fuel Consumption - 90 gallons per hour Crew – 3 Engines - 2 Turbine Rated Combined Horsepower - 1,800
22: AIRCRAFT XD-01 LOCKHEED LC-130R-2 US Navy Buno: 160741 Build date: 1976 History: Owned by the National Science Foundation, operated by VX-6 / VXE-6 from 1974 to 1997. Transfered to AMARC in 1997, removed in 1999 for NSF / NYANG conversion to LC-130H specs. | 17
23: AIRCRAFT XD-01 LOCKHEED LC-130R-2 US Navy Buno: 160741 Build date: 1976 History: Owned by the National Science Foundation, operated by VX-6 / VXE-6 from 1974 to 1997. Transfered to AMARC in 1997, removed in 1999 for NSF / NYANG conversion to LC-130H specs. | 18
24: AIRCRAFT XD-02 LOCKHEED LC-130R-2 AIRCRAFT US Navy Buno: 160740 Build date: 1976 History: Owned by the National Science Foundation, operated by VX-6 / VXE-6 from 1974 to 1997. Transfered to AMARC in 1997, removed in 1999 for NSF / NYANG conversion to LC-130H specs. | 19
26: AIRCRAFT XD-03 LOCKHEED LC-130F AIRCRAFT US Navy Buno: 148321 Build date: 1959 History: Owned by the National Science Foundation, Operated with VX / VXE-6 from 1961 - 1971, crashed and left in place for 17 years in Antarctica, recovered and repaired, returned to VXE-6 from 1993-1999. Placed into storage at Davis Monthan AFB 29 Mar 99. | 21
28: AIRCRAFT XD-04 LOCKHEED LC-130R-1 AIRCRAFT US Navy Buno: 159130 Build date: 1973 History: Owned by the National Science Foundation, Operated with VX / VXE-6 from 1974 - 1999. Placed into storage at Davis Monthan AFB | on 29 March, 1999. | 23
30: AIRCRAFT XD-05 LOCKHEED LC-130R-1 AIRCRAFT US Navy Buno: 159129 Build date: 1973 History: Owned by the National Science Foundation, operated by VX-6 / VXE-6 from 1974 to 1995. Transfered to AMARC 1995. Selected for the NSF / ANG conversion to LC-130H. | 25
32: AIRCRAFT XD-06 LOCKHEED LC-130F AIRCRAFT US Navy Buno: 148320 Build date: 1959 History: Operated with VX/ VXE-6 from 1961 to 1999. In 1996 ownership was transferred from the US Navy to the National Science Foundation. Stored at AMARC Davis Monthan AFB, AZ 09 Mar 99 to June of 2002. | Removed from AMARC in 2002 for reassignment to VX-30. | 27
34: AIRCRAFT XD-07 LOCKHEED LC-130F US Navy Buno: 148319 Build date: 1959 History: Owned by the National Science Foundation, Operated with VX / VXE-6 from 1961 - 1971, crashed and left in place for 17 years in Antarctica, recovered and repaired, returned to VXE-6 from 1993-1999. | Placed into storage at Davis Monthan AFB on 10 March, 1999. | 29
36: 31 | LH-34D Sikorsky 1960's
37: 32 | UH-1N Huey 1970 Forward
38: AE3 Rick Morales | Master Chief Blankenship | Rick Poedtke | Basic Jump Wings Under 10 Jumps | 33
39: Rick Low Altitude Para-Rescue Exercise 1982 | Naval Parachutist Badge 10+ Jumps & Free Fall Qualified | 34
40: 35 | '71 - '74 | 1982 Season | 1981 | PARA RESCUE TEAM
42: One of the Navy's most unusual--and well-known--squadrons was deactivated after 44 years of service. Antarctic Development Squadron (VXE) 6 was deactivated in a 27 March 1999 ceremony (effective 1 April) at NAS Point Mugu, Calif. Cdr. David W. Jackson was the last CO of the Ice Pirates. VXE-6 originally was established on 17 January 1955 at NAS Patuxent River, Md., as Air Development Squadron Six (VX) 6 in conjunction with the Navy's evolving role of providing support for scientific exploration on the Antarctic continent. The squadron had its roots in Operation High Jump, an extensive aerial survey conducted in December 1946 by RAdm. Richard E. Byrd as his fourth Antarctic expedition. VX-6 began its first deployment in support of Operation Deep Freeze, as the exploration effort became known, in November 1955. The squadron completed nine long-range exploration flights and transported the personnel and materials needed to construct Little America Base Camp, the naval air operations facility at Hut Point, and South Pole Station. Upon return from its first deployment, the squadron changed its home base to NAS Quonset Point, RI. Over the first 15 years of operations, VX-6 flew a variety of aircraft: R4D-5L/6L (LC-47H/J) Skytrains, R4D-8L (LC-117D) Skytroopers, R5D-3 (C-54Q) Skymasters, R7V-1/1P (C-121J) Constellations, P-2V-2N and P2V-5L (LP-2J) Neptunes, UC-1 (U-1B) Otters and HUS-1A (UH-34E) and HUS-1L (LH-34D) Seahorse helicopters. Beginning in 1961, four ski-equipped UV-1L (C-130BL, later LC-130F) Hercules transports were added, dramatically increasing the squadron's lift capability. The LC-130Fs were augmented during the early 1970s by six LC-130R versions. At this time, the LC-130 became the only fixed-wing aircraft type operated by the squadron, with the exception of an EC-130Q and TC-130Q used for crew training during the early 1990s. UH-1D "Hueys" augmented the LH-34Ds in 1970, but both types were replaced by the UH-1N (later HH-1N) helicopter beginning in 1972. The HH-1Ns were operated by VXE-6 until replaced in April 1996 by contractor-operated helicopters. VX-6 was re-designated VXE-6 on 1 January 1969. Its nickname, the Puckered Penguins, eventually became the Ice Pirates. In 1974 the squadron's home base changed to NAS Point Mugu in California. | iv
43: v | VXE-6's annual deployments to Antarctica, staged from its detachment site in Christchurch, New Zealand, accomplished many "firsts." In 1955, two P2V-2Ns and two R5D-3s forged the first air link between Christchurch and McMurdo Station. In 1956, an R4D named Que Sera Sera became the first aircraft to land at the South Pole. In 1958, a UC-1 made the first "wheels on dirt" landing in Antarctica. In 1961, the squadron made its first mid-winter fly-in, in this case to evacuate a Soviet scientist from Byrd Station. In 1964, an LC-130F conducted the first flight from Capetown, South Africa, to McMurdo Station; the first U.S. flight to the Soviet station at Vostok; and the first demonstration of Trimetrogon photography to map the Antarctic continent. During Deep Freeze '90, a VXE-6 LC-130 made the first wheeled landing on a "blue ice" surface, near the Beardmore Glacier. In October 1991, an all-female crew flew an LC-130 to the South Pole for the first time to begin Deep Freeze '91. VXE-6 was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for a 1978 mission during which it evacuated five Soviets critically injured in the crash of an IL-14 transport aircraft. The rescue flights covered 3,650 miles (round trip), about 24 hours of flight time. During Deep Freeze '88, an LC-130F that had been buried in ice and snow since a 1971 mishap was recovered and eventually restored to service. Unfortunately, an LC-130R involved in the recovery effort crashed, killing several squadron crewmen, accenting the unforgiving nature of flight over Antarctica. After the Navy shut down its Antarctic support force in March 1998, VXE-6 assisted the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing during its final season (19981999) in assuming the mission of Antarctic support. Raytheon Systems Company subsequently modified the squadron's three remaining LC-130Rs to Air Force LC-130H standards. During its service, VXE-6 transported more than 195,000 passengers, 240 million pounds of dry cargo and almost 10 million gallons of fuel to sites in Antarctica. Twenty-five Navy personnel and one Marine died while carrying out the squadron's Antarctic operations.
44: 37 | Not Always Smooth Sailing | Damaged Aircraft
46: 39 | H I S T O R I C A L H U T S | Discovery Hut
54: 47 | Antarctic Wildlife
56: 49 | Emperor Penguin Life-Cycle
61: 54 | Skua Gull
62: 55 | Edge Corner
64: 57 | Under Water Marvels
66: 59 | Views From McMurdo and Scott Base | Views
67: 60 | Willy Field in the distance
68: 61 | Blue Ice . . .
69: 62 | Caves
70: 63 | Willy Field Strip Rats
71: 64 | Willy Field Workshop | Our Living Quarters at Willy "Home Sweet Home"
72: 65 | During the final season for VXE-6 to deploy to "The Ice", a project came to mind as I was restoring many of the images in the historical archive. By coincidence, some of the pictures I had taken in recent times had an amazing similarity to images taken in the past. | "T H E N & N O W"
74: 67 | "T H E N & N O W"
76: 69 | "T H E N & N O W"
77: 70 | "T H E N & N O W"
78: 71 | "T H E N & N O W"
80: 73 | "T H E N & N O W"
84: 77 | "T H E N & N O W"
85: 78 | Transportation Today
86: Know Ye By All These Presents; and to all Emperor Penguins, Seals, Killer Orca's, Skua Gulls and All Living Denizens of The Frozen Continent of The Midnight Sun. Know Ye That: The Old Antarctic Explorer With my Royal Consent has passed the gateway to the bottom of the world to a land of ice that has no borders, where the courageous commune among all that is wild and free in the glaciate territory known as Antarctica. Be It Further Understood That the land of Icicles, Herbies and Snowflakes was embarked upon by the mighty Operation Deep Freeze with its great Fleet of C-130 Hercules and UH-1n Helicopters of the VXE-6 Air Devron Six Squadron at 90-Degrees 00-Degrees S. Latitude and 0-Degrees 00-Degrees E. Longitude During its 44 Years of Service and Explorations of the Frozen Southern Wastes of Antarctica from 1955 to 1999. That I, Puckered Pete, Rider of the Southern Winds and Sovereign of all the Frozen Reaches it touches, do hereby declare these hot blooded Neophytes to my Royal Domain to be True and Trusted Ice Encrusted Old Antarctic Explorers. Be It Known: That by the virtue of the power invested in me; I do hereby command all of my loyal subjects that live and breathe on this land to show due honor and respect to all Old Antarctic Explorers. Disobey This Order Under Penalty Of This Royal Courts Displeasure Puckered Pete, Royal Antarctic Explorer | 79