USAF LIEUTENANT COLONEL ED VAUGHAN SPEAKS AT MGC AVIATION CAMPUS
By: Tricia Purser Release Date:10/01/2012
(Cochran, GA) - United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Ed Vaughan recently spoke to students on the Georgia Aviation Campus of Middle Georgia College about his work in Operation Deep Freeze, where he served as the senior U.S. military officer in the Defense Department’s support of the National Science Foundation’s research in Antarctica. Vaughan was deployed to McMurdo Station in Antarctica for 50 days as commander of the Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica.
Operation Deep Freeze provides air and maritime cargo and passenger transport throughout the Antarctic Joint Operations area. In accordance to the Antarctic Treaty, Antarctica doesn''t belong to any nation, and military activity is banned except for its use in scientific research, said Vaughan. "We helped maintain the U.S.’s presence in Antarctica," he said. “The National Science Federation ran the mission, and the Department of Defense held a support role. With other nations, everything is done quid pro quo in the interests of science and research."
The United States Antarctic Program, which is funded and managed by the NSF, studies Antarctica and its relationships with the rest of the world. The program is made up of scientists selected from universities and other research institutions, and works to accomplish three goals: understand the region and its ecosystems; understand its effects on various global processes; and to use the region as a platform to study, according to the NSF website. "Scientists work on atmospheric science, astrophysics, and climate change, to name a few," said Vaughan.
In their operations, Vaughan and his team used LC-130s, which are aircraft equipped with skis that allow it to land on snow and ice as well as regular runways. Since the station is located in a remote area, accuracy in their work was key. "Once you get so far out, there is a point of no return,” he said. “There is a zero percent margin for error."
Besides providing air logistics, Vaughan and his crew performed other duties for the station. "The ski planes have other applications," he said. "For example, they can be used to take people out when they''re sick." Overall, the team performed 400 to 500 missions per year.
To provide students with a glimpse of life at McMurdo Station, Vaughan showed videos featuring the dorms the teams lived in, as well as glimpses of the roads covered in soot from nearby Mt. Erebus, an active volcano. He also showed videos of the LC-130s landing and taking off, so students could get a sense of the aircraft in action.