GLENVILLE, N.Y. — The U.S. military air crew that evacuated former astronaut Buzz Aldrin from the South Pole is a New York-based National Guard unit that specializes in missions to some of the world's most remote places.
The 86-year-old Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, fell ill this week while visiting Antarctica. The National Science Foundation helped provide an air lift by requesting the help of its military support, the Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing based in Schenectady County.
The unit, the only one in the world to fly ski-equipped aircraft, is currently on its annual Antarctica mission. One of the 109th's LC-130 Hercules "Ski Birds" was used to evacuate Aldrin from the South Pole to New Zealand, where he's recovering in a hospital Friday.
The unit also flies missions to Greenland and Canada's Arctic region.