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What it’s like to take off and land at the world’s hottest airport at -50 degrees Celsius

What it’s like to take off and land at the world’s hottest airport at -50 degrees Celsius

Troll airport. Photo: @polarinstituttet

Troll Airfield has the most challenging runways for any self-respecting military or commercial pilot, no matter how many career years he carries behind him. Everything can go wrong in a matter of seconds.They are at the mercy of ice and bad weather, as temperatures can reach minus 50 degrees during the arctic winter. Only the most experienced professionals dare – and have the necessary permits – to land and take off at this small airport located at the end of the world, or almost, surrounded by snow on all four sides.

state-owned norwegian, Troll Airport is located at one of the northernmost points of Antarctica, on a glacier 1232 meters above sea level in Lazarev, 6.8 kilometers from the scientific base from which it takes its name, 235 kilometers from the coast of Princess Martha, in the mysterious Queen Maud Land. It is controlled by the heads of the Norwegian Polar Institute, a station dedicated to climate, environmental and mapping research. It consists of a blue ice rink that is 3,300 meters long and barely 100 meters wide, was officially opened in 2005. For scientists, access to these distant lands is possible only from Cape Town International Airport, one of the three capitals of South Africa, where the legislature is located. Instead, it acts as a nerve center to facilitate the movement of researchers residing in the area for a reasonable period of time who need to travel to other scientific bases located in Antarctica.

Commercial or private flights are not yet permitted at Troll Airport, viz. From Cape Town, the long-range planes that usually fly to the place are of the type Lockheed C-130 Hercules, with an approximate flight time of nine hoursand the Ilyushin II-76 five and a half hours away from the South African city. For internal connections between search bases, it is typical for the Basler BT-67 to complete the flight. For a year now, massive Boeing 767s, operated by Icelandair, have also been seen landing and taking off in these icy lands.

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The average annual temperature of the Antarctic desert is minus 25 degrees, although the temperature changes during the four seasons are extreme. while in summer the temperature is around zero, In winter, thermometers drop to minus 50. Added to this are the random storms produced by the air pockets, which are difficult to predict.

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In addition to the extreme weather conditions, an added complication for experienced pilots flying to and from Troll Airport is this It is not possible to maneuver using the machine’s landing system. They must use visual rules of flight with no references. There is not a single building or structure around it, only a blanket of white snow and ice stretches as far as the eye can see. In the summer, when the sun shines brightly in the sky, visible 24 hours a day (known as the midnight sun), it is easy for the runway to radiate blinding light, making it more difficult to maneuver powerful aircraft.

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