Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

Kanger: You Can’t Get There From Here

Not today anyway

A C-5 Starlifter visited Kangerlussuaq airport last week, bringing cargo and people north to Greenland. Under wing: two C-130s, the workhorses of NSF's polar programs. All photos: Ed Stockard

The ash plume from Iceland’s exploding Eyjafjallajokull volcano drifted toward Greenland today, leading officials to close airports on the island’s southwestern coast, including Kangerlussuaq, the main logistics hub for the National Science Foundation’s polar research program in Greenland.  Scientists and support personnel  bound for Greenland waited in Schenectady, near the Stratton Air Base, in Scotia, New York, from which the Air National Guard 109th Airlift Wing flies the ski-equipped C-130s.

Last week while many of Europe’s airports were shuttered due to the ash cloud, Greenland’s airports remained open and program personnel arriving from the US were able to reach Kangerlussuaq—some in the gigantic C-5a Galaxy airplane that visited from Stewart Air Base in Newburgh, New York. But the winds shifted on Monday, sending the cloud on a westerly path toward Greenland.

The Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing, which provides the C-130 heavy airlift for the U.S. polar programs, will monitor airport closures and meteorological information, daily making go/no-go announcements for personnel waiting for flights to resume.

The C-5a Galaxy with the agile Ken Borek Twin Otter taxiing by.