It has been more than a century since Roald Amundsen of Norway conquered the South Pole, using transportation that was available to him and his crew at the time. Today, scientists and ecological tourists have mastered the ways to get into and around Antarctica.
Expeditions are now safer than ever with GPS, radar stations, ice mobiles, and by following strict exploration protocols. In addition, hotels in Antarctica have never been more comfortable, accommodating, and life sustaining.
Traveling by air into Antarctica
There are dozens of airports constructed throughout the northern latitudes of Antarctica, each owned by different countries depending on the Antarctic territorial claim (according to the Antarctic Treaty of 1961).
You may be most concerned about the materials used to build the runways in Antarctica. Perhaps you fear that landing your private jet on any of these airports might damage the wheels or suspension. There are two types of runways in Antarctica — dirt and blue ice runways. Dirt runways are mostly used by lightweight high wing aircrafts like the Cessna 172 Skyhawk.
Although jets can land on these dirt runways, it is highly recommended for aircrafts like Embraer Phenom 300 and similar, to land on blue ice runways. These are naturally flat surfaces and are as tough as concrete. Blue ice is compacted glacial ice that took eons to harden — forming thick, solid and flat open surfaces.
Landing on blue ice in Antarctica
Pilots who specialize in landing on blue ice will meet you and your flight crew for a full briefing session in Cape Town, South Africa with important information on navigation and landing. Generally, the technique to land safely upon touch down is to reverse thrust, coupled with air braking, as applying normal brakes wouldn’t work on the slippery blue ice.
Blue ice runways have been the most reliable landing strips for massive aircrafts like the C-5 Galaxy. Engines of typical aircrafts are positioned far up from the ground to have any significant impact on the ice, so melting ice has never been an issue. If any ice melts on the runway, the frigid weather instantly refreezes it.
Wolf’s Fang Runway
Your Antarctic flight will direct you to Wolf’s Fang Runway, the only private Antarctic airport, located in the British territory. It is specifically designed for small jets, less the heavy cargo aircrafts. High level maintenance of the runway and flight hangar will ensure that your jet will remain safe from damage due to the elements.