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Polar Parachutes: A C-17 last week completed the first-ever mid-winter airdrop in complete darkness over the South Pole during an extended mission from Christchurch, New Zealand. The Globemaster's crew delivered critical medical supplies during the Sept. 1 flight. After a routine resupply stop at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, the crew lifted off for Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, two hours distant, safely delivering two mini-pallets despite high winds. "During the winter, the only option was to airdrop supplies in," said Lt. Col. Edward Vaughan, acting joint operations director for Operation Deep Freeze, the US military mission that supports US scientific research on the barren continent. Forward deployed to Christchurch, the C-17 crew from JB Lewis-McChord, Wash., made the drop 10 days into Deep Freeze's winter flying support mission as part of the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. (Christchurch release)