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National Science Foundation HomeNational Science Foundation - Directorate for Geological Sciences (GEO)
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Aircraft Landing Areas

C-17 at Pegasus Ice Runway, August 2004

A C-17 cargo jet sits at the Pegasus White Ice Runway near McMurdo Station, Antarctica, in November 2012. The U.S. Air Force provides air support between Christchurch, New Zealand, and McMurdo Station, Antarctica, for the U.S. Antarctic Program. (NSF photo by Peter Rejcek.)

A permanent, hard-ice runway for wheeled planes — the Pegasus White Ice Runway was completed in 1992. The runway is located about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from McMurdo on the glacial ice of the McMurdo Ice Shelf and has a thin compacted "white ice" pavement that can support wheeled aircraft from throughout the austral summer, except during the warmest months.

 

 
Williams Field, McMurdo's skiway on the Ross Ice Shelf

Williams Field, McMurdo's skiway on the Ross Ice Shelf, operates from December to February of each year. (NSF photo by Peter Rejcek.)

Williams Field, a skiway 15 kilometers (9 miles) from McMurdo on the Ross Ice Shelf, is the aerodrome for ski-equipped airplanes. Wheeled airplanes use a harder, smoother runway on sea ice in October and November and into December, when the sea ice usually begins to break up and become unusable, or the white-ice runway Pegasus on the McMurdo Ice Shelf.

 

The Annual Sea-ice Runway near McMurdo Station. On the left are LC-130 airplanes flown by the New York Air National Guard. To the right are Twin Otter and Basler airplanes flown by Kenn Borek Air. (NSF photo by Peter Rejcek.)

Annual sea-ice runway

 

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