Mawson landing area moves inland

Instant airport

Video transcript

From Mawson station on the coast, the ice sheet rises to a high plateau. 

Jagged mountain ranges puncture the glittering ice.

Jan Wallace, Medical Officer Up on the plateau here I just love the expanse of the horizon and the massive sky. It’s a landscape of epic proportions up here, and the mountainscapes around us are just spectacular.

Tom Dacy, Mechanical Supervisor You don’t get many better views than what you get from Rumdoodle Hut and around the lake. There’s some great walking areas around there, and the Rumdoodle Hut this year, we’ve given it a bit of a refurb, so it’s in top condition.

A team of expeditioners from Mawson station is heading 20 km inland to Rumdoodle.

Star of the convoy is a well-worn four-tracked monster.

Tom Dacy The Pioneer, she’s a great old girl, a brilliant machine for this sort of task. Got a lot of payload capacity, carry all our fuel, our refuelling sleds that’s needed, and any cargo back to station. It’s a good overland vehicle for the Antarctic conditions. 

They mark out an 800 metre runway for flights between Antarctic stations.

Jan Wallace We’re about to receive a plane here from Davis station, so I’m up here in several roles. Hopefully not as the doctor, cos that would be part of an emergency response. Today I’ve been the Hagg driver, and chauffeur for the new passengers coming home.

This area has been used for aviation in the Australian Antarctic Territory since the 1960s

Tom Dacy Normally we’d use the sea ice as a landing area, but the sea ice is no longer usable due to deterioration, so we’ve come up here with all our equipment to receive the plane and its passengers.

Today’s weather report: visibility ‘unlimited.’

Conditions are right for a perfect landing.

‘Rumdoodle International Airport’ is open for summer travel!

[end transcript]

When the sea-ice off Mawson research station can no longer support planes, expeditioners move the landing area 20 kilometres inland.

The mission involves a small convoy of Hägglund snow tractors and a four-tracked heavy hauler travelling up the ice plateau to prepare for an intra-continental flight.

The landing area near Rumdoodle Hut is a flat expanse of ice sheet that’s been used for aviation since the 1960s.

The field hut at Rumdoodle was refurbished this year by the winter team of Mawson expeditioners.