Granted, not many of us will ever go to Antarctica…
Let alone fly there, but if you do, then landing on a runway of snow will be an experience like no other. Not only will too much pressure cause the runway to crack, but it’s also slippery and the aircraft could sink into the ice. Shame, snowshoes for planes haven’t been invented yet! In 2015, a Loftleidir Icelandic Boeing 757 passenger jet successfully landed on Union Glacier’s blue ice runway–opening the door for travelers to the planet’s coldest continent.
Courchevel. The best way to describe the airport in the upscale French Alps resort Courchevel is to compare it with a ski jump. Incoming aircraft (only private plans have permission to land) need to accelerate after touchdown so they will make it to the end of the up slope runway, while departing aircraft experience a short length of leveled runway with a sheer drop off into nothingness at the far end. Pilots need to be very experienced to land here, as the runway has no approach procedure or lighting aids, which makes maneuvers in fog, blizzards, and low clouds almost impossible.
Timing is everything at Barra Airport, off the west coast of Scotland, where aircraft land directly on the beach. When the tide is out, the triangle of runways in the wide shallow bay of Traigh Mhòr, is marked by permanent wooden poles at their ends. At full tide, Barra’s three runways are fully submerged, so flight times change with mother nature’s cycles. For emergency flights at night or in a case of decreased visibility, car lights are used for illumination and reflective strips are put on the sand. But nerve-wracking take off and landings aside, there’s something to be said for building sand castles and getting a tan while waiting at the airport.
Article credit: Fodor’s
Photo credit: Aero Icarus/Flickr