Flying with the 109th - It's all about the mission with George Alston

Area men and women fly with the 109th - George Alston

This is the second of a two-part series on members of the 109th Airlift Wing based in Scotia. After focusing on the home lives of George Alston of Delmar and Bradt Primary teacher Karolyn De Vito last week, this week we focus on how they perform their military duties in Greenland during a recent deployment.

See the photo gallery from Greenland here

See Part 2 of Karolyn De Vito's story here

Kangerlussuag, Greenland -"Twenty feet, 15 feet, 10 feet, 5 feet," the navigator calls over the headset of the LC-130 just before the skis touch the ice runway at a remote camp on the Greenland ice sheet.

The multi-million dollar aircraft carries fuel, scientific equipment and most importantly, the scientists and crews themselves, as it taxis to a stop on the snow under a bright blue sky.

The 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard is the only transportation available for many of these camps, but for air crews onboard this mission, it was also on-the-job training.

As Lt. Col. George Alston, 43, unbuckles his shoulder harness from the co-pilot seat, he gives the aircraft commander in the other seat an affirmative nod. It was a smooth landing.

The Delmar resident is a LC-130 instructor pilot and chief of aircrew training for the unit. His job is to train crew members to fly in the polar regions.

"One way to describe what we do in regards to training is that we have a schoolhouse at the 109th for our LC-130 mission," Alston said. "My job is to help run the schoolhouse."

"Instructors like George take brand new personnel and bring them up to Air Force standards," said Major Carlyle Norman, deployment commander for the 109th for the two-week tour in July. "The new crews have multiple hours of training. They train on the ground, then the instructors take them out and do the training in the field."

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