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Story by: Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt - 109th AW Public Affairs
Dated: Fri, May 23, 2014
SCOTIA, N.Y. -- Richmor Aviation at the Schenectady County Airport was packed with people taking shelter from the weather, hoping it would pass so they could complete the mission they set out to do ... pull a 109th Airlift Wing LC-130 Skibird aircraft 15 feet in the fastest time possible.
Rain, thunder, lightning and a tornado warning put the Airplane Pull, hosted by the Unified Military Affairs Council, on hold for a little while, but the weather did pass, and the 109th AW’s team of 25 was up first to set the bar for the event. 14:48 seconds was the time to beat.
About 20 teams competed in the event, including a team from the Navy. UMAC has been planning the event for months, with the intent to raise awareness and money to help support local military events. The 109th AW jumped on board and offered their ski-equipped LC-130, weighing in at about 90,000 pounds, to pull as well as a team to kick off the event. The unit’s aircraft is the only one of its kind in the U.S. military, supporting the National Science Foundation in both Antarctica and Greenland. Currently, the unit is in full swing as they provide airlift and polar airdrop support to NSF and several allied nations in Greenland and above the Arctic Circle. In October, the unit will kick off their annual Operation Deep Freeze mission in Antarctica.
Members of the 109th Airlift Wing, including the community manager, Capt. Ashley FitzGibbon, and the command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Amy Giaquinto, were part of UMAC’s Airplane Pull planning committee. They coordinated with command to approve using one of the unit’s aircraft, with maintenance for the logistics of using the aircraft, and brought together a team of 25 Airmen to represent the wing.
"As soon as I started to advertise the event, people throughout the base started asking how they could be part of the team," FitzGibbon said. "It was easy to pull off with the excitement of all our members and the integral support of the 109th Maintenance Group. Without the maintainers, this event would not have been possible." While the base played an integral part of the event, it was the entire community that pulled it all together. "There were so many people throughout the community that made this event possible," Giaquinto said.
Despite the looming weather, the event was a success all around. The 109th AW team was proud of their effort, and many said although challenging, it was a lot of fun. "It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be," said Capt. Melissa Cucchi, 139th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. "It was great to be able to get everyone out here and be so involved with the community." "Events like this are what make my new role as community manager so fulfilling," FitzGibbon said. "Seeing our members come together and give back to the community distinguishes our Wing from others, while truly representing our core value of Service Before Self."