Using night vision equipment and navigating around volcanic ash hazards, a C-17 Globemaster III and crew from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., alongside aeromedical evacuation and critical care air transport team Airmen, successfully evacuated an ailing Antarctic government contractor from McMurdo Station Antarctica, June 30 2011.
The C-17, known for its ability to rapidly conduct tactical airlift and ambulatory patient movement, successfully delivered the ailing patient to Christchurch NZ medical personnel, traveling more than 4600 miles.
Active duty and Reserve Airmen attached to this mission assembled the full range of medical and support capabilities and less than 18 hours after being notified of the mission arrived in Christchurch NZ for staging. The crew, comprising a CCATT, an aeromedical evacuation team, pilots, loadmasters and maintainers, planned side-by-side with interagency partners as they faced the challenge of safely evacuating the patient out of the Antarctic. "Flying into Antarctica is always a challenge, though we have the training and experience to make operations such as this one routine," said Lt. Col. Robert Wellington, the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander, permanently stationed at JB McChord. "Use of night vision goggles is a core competency of C-17 crew members and by developing and refining procedures over the last four years we were able to successfully complete our mission in a dark, arctic environment."
According to the colonel, the team couldn't have accomplished the mission without the tremendous support of JB McChord active duty and Reserve operations and maintenance units, Air Mobility Command and the Tanker Airlift Control Center, Pacific Air Forces and 13th Air Force, and JTF-SFA.
Gravity always wins!