On thin ice
Airfield rebuilt every year on annual sea ice near McMurdo Station
Posted November 11, 2011
The U.S. Antarctic Program builds a temporary airfield on the sea ice in McMurdo Sound every year for use by both ski-equipped and wheeled aircraft that provide transportation to and from the continent, as well as those that support research to far-flung field camps. Construction begins before the summer field season in October, and the airfield is in operation until early December, when the sea ice begins to soften and melt. Operations are then moved to an airfield call Pegasus White Ice Runway on the thicker permanent ice shelf. Types of aircraft include the Twin Otter and U.S. Air Force LC-130, both seen above. The advantage of the Annual Sea Ice Runway is its proximity to McMurdo Station , less than a 10-minute ride away. Transportation to Pegasus can take upwards of an hour, depending on snow-road conditions. Below are additional photos from the sea ice runway.