If you are aged 16 years or under and have ever wanted to help write a new chapter in Australia’s Antarctic history, now is your chance.

Name the New Planes Runway Competition is a nationwide competition to name Australia’s first Antarctic-dedicated aircraft and the new ice runway at Casey station on the Antarctic continent. The competition was launched in Sydney today.

The competition is open to all full-time students at Australian schools up to the age of 16 years. Entry to the competition is through the Australian Antarctic Division’s website.

The new runway is over 3000 metres long and is located approximately 60 kilometres from Casey station and on flat glacial 'blue’ ice. It will be one of the world’s most remote runways and Australia’s first official runway in Antarctica and the aircrafts’ main base on the frozen continent. Australia claims around 42% of Antarctica and has three continental stations — Mawson, Davis and Casey.

Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary with Ministerial responsibility for the Antarctic, said the competition follows a long held tradition of Australians helping to name Australia’s important infrastructure in Antarctica. A competition to name a new Australian Antarctic vessel in 1988 resulted in over 2000 entries from across Australian. The eventual winner, a 12-year-old student from New South Wales, selected the name Aurora Australis, a name that remains with the vessel to this day.

“This competition is a wonderful opportunity to involve our young people in an exciting part of Australia’s Antarctic history and at the same time learn more about the fascinating frozen continent to our south and the important role Australia plays in scientific research there,” Dr Stone said.

“The Australian Government has been working towards the introduction of this intra-continental support service for some time and the arrival of this aircraft is a significant step for our Antarctic program. Modifications to the CASAs mean they will be able to cover greater distances without the need to land and refuel so frequently, minimising the need for fuel depots on the ground and reducing the likelihood of spills — all good news for the environment.”

The winning entries will each receive a notebook computer with the winners’ schools to get an Australian Antarctic Division multimedia resource package valued at around $500.

The competition closes on Wednesday 22 September at 5 pm.

The first of two specifically-designed CASA 212–400s arrived in Sydney earlier this month following successful test flights in Greenland. The first intra-continental flight is scheduled to depart Hobart for Antarctica in late October.