Wednesday, February 24, 2021

A frozen lake transformed into an airstrip


A frozen lake turned into a landing strip: This isn’t possible every winter, but this season it’s cold enough for planes to land on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.

Nearly 800 meters long, the runway can only open when the ice is at least one foot thick, explains Paul LaRochelle, manager of this airport – the only ice airport approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US air transport agency.

“We don’t drive our trucks so far if we don’t have 30 cm of ice. If we have 22 cm there, 30 cm there, 25 cm yet in another place, we do not open. Not until it’s the same thickness everywhere, ”says LaRochelle, who goes out every day to measure the thickness of the ice.

This weekend, the thickness reached 50 cm, and the airport, opened a week earlier with staff from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, saw several aircraft land.

Not without difficulties.

“The ice is slippery. Lots of pilots say so, ”says one of the runway operations manager, Carol Niewola.

“Turning and stopping become difficult maneuvers, although they are very easy to do on paved tracks or with grass, but here on the ice, it’s very different”.

“There is a small layer of snow on the ice which gives a little bit of grip, but it’s not great,” she added.





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