The Australian Antarctic Program is celebrating a decade of flights to the frozen continent’s blue ice runway, improving access for hundreds of scientists and expeditioners.
Wilkins Aerodrome blue ice runway in Antarctica (named after the legendary patron and pioneer of early Antarctic aviator, Sir Hubert Wilkins), has improved access to the continent with 131 flights carrying more than 1600 people landing on the runway since it officially opened on 10 January 2008. Where the ship takes weeks, Wilkins Aerodrome gives the ability to fly expeditioners and equipment between Australia and Antarctica in just over four hours. A Skytraders Airbus 319 and Royal Australian Air Force C-17A are used for the flights, landing on the glacial runway which moves about 12 meters each year.
Wilkins Aerodrome is located at 66°41′27″ South, 111°31′35″ East, in an area of Antarctica known as Wilkes’ Land, approximately 70 km South East of Casey Base (WAP AUS-Ø2) and serves as the Antarctic terminal for the intercontinental air service.
The facility operates between October and March each year.