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NEWS & BLOG

SPOTLIGHT ON ANTARCTICA AIRPORT

2 September 2015


Utilised by the US Antarctic Program, there are three runways that make up this ‘airport’ of sorts. The principal runway is the Ice Runway, due to its location close to the McMurdo station. Capable of handling aircraft such as a Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, Boeing C17 Globemaster III and Lockheed L-100-30 Hercules, pilots have said it’s just as stable to land on as concrete. However, the weight of the plane causes it to sink into the ice, so a laser light is trained upon the aircraft, ready to alert flight crews to relocate it should it reach the 10-inch level.

The second runway is the Williams Field or Willy Field Airfield which is made of compacted snow, on top of 80 metres of ice. Whilst the Ice Runway is operational from October to December, Williams Field is in operations from December through to February. Whereas the Ice Runway is available to wheeled aircraft, Willy Field can only support ski-equipped aircraft landings.

The final airport serving Antarctica is the Pegasus Field, named after a Lockheed C-121 Constellation that crashed here trying to land with practically zero visibility in 1970. Luckily no one was injured and the remains still lie buried in the snow. As a blue ice runway, and the most southern, unlike its counterparts it can be used year round, and, like the Ice Runway, is accessible to wheeled aircraft.

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