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National Science Foundation HomeNational Science Foundation - Directorate for Geological Sciences (GEO)
Polar Programs (PLR)
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Division of Polar Programs

Antarctic Infrastructure and Logistics (AIL)
Frequently Asked Question about the U.S. Antarctic Program
U.S. Antarctic Environmental Policy
President's Memordanum Regarding Antarctica (Memorandum 6646, February 1982)
U.S. Policy on Private Expeditions to Antarctica
View PLR Staff
U.S. Antarctic Policy
USAP stations & related facilities
bullet McMurdo Station
bullet Crary Science and Engineering Center
bullet Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station
bullet Palmer Station
bullet Field Camps
USAP support resources
bullet USAP aircraft support
bullet USAP aircraft landing areas
bullet USAP ship support
bullet USAP traverse support
GEO Organizations
Atmospheric and Geospace Science (AGS)
Earth Sciences (EAR)
Ocean Sciences (OCE)
Polar Programs (POLAR)
Polar Programs Organizations
Antarctic Sciences (ANT)
Arctic Sciences (ARC)
Antarctic Infrastructure and Logistics (AIL)
Polar Environment, Safety and Health (PESH)
U.S. Antarctic Program sites
USAP.gov — The U.S. Antarctic Program web portal
PolarIce (USAP Science Support Website)
USAP Marine Operations Services
Antarctic Treaty sites
U.S. Annual Report to the Antarctic Treaty
Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs
Antarctic Treaty Secretariat
Antarctic Treaty Committee for Environmental Protection
Polar Programs Information
Contact Polar Programs
Polar Programs Budget Information
Related Polar Links
Polar Programs Publications list
Philatelic mail
Polar Programs webmaster

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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