Thursday, April 15, 2010

Flying to Greenland

This year I don't spend much time at home. This time it's off to Greenland. From the US it can be a long way, either via Copenhagen or Iceland. As federally funded scientists we get to take advantage of military flights. About once a year, NSF contracts the New York Air National Guard to fly a C-5 Galaxy to Greenland. This is the largest aircraft in the US military and can transport up to 200,000 pounds. It is quite an impressive sight when it shows up at the airport in Kangerlussuaq (West Greenland)

Usually, we get to fly in the military transport workhorse: The C-130 Hercules. Here is one, looking tiny in the distance underneath a C-5 turbine. The Air National Guard operates C-130 on wheel skis, so they operate on the icesheet, both in Greenland and Antarctica.
For some reason, Kangerlussuaq also had a visit from the German military. The picture shows two C-160 military transport planes. These are supposed to be replaced with a new European transporter, the notoriously delayed and over budget A400M.
But here is the real workhorse of Antarctic and Greenlandic glaciology: The Twin Otter, flown by Kenn Borek Air from Canada. They have the largest Twin Otter fleet in the world.


  1. Have a great trip!! Any sign og the icelandic volcano ash cloud?

  2. No ash clouds here. The wind mostly comes from the West, so Greenland doesn't seem to be affected (except, perhaps, the Southeast).