Ice Runway

When you work in the north, lots of things are different. Since you’re surrounded by snow and ice for many months of the year, you learn to make tools of them.

Northern ingenuity.

So, what is this? It’s a frozen lake runway. There is another nearby airport (quite a large one, actually) that’s on dry land, but here, summer float planes can become winter ski or wheel planes just off Latham Island on Great Slave Lake.

Happy Wednesday. 🙂

26 thoughts on “Ice Runway”

  1. I can’t say I’ve seen an airport with a frozen lake runway or one that caters to summer float planes! I wonder who came up with the idea to try to turn a frozen lake into a runway.

    1. There are lots of float planes up here. People hire them to go fishing or to go to isolated tourist camps. It can really open up summer travel. Ice runways have been used since the 1920s, particularly for getting into and out of isolated communities. Wop May, a WWI fighter ace and bush pilot, pioneered a lot of this type of flying. I did some of my first flying with the club he founded – Edmonton Flying Club.

  2. I miss Buffalo Joe and Ice Pilots. One of my neighbours, a retired air traffic controller used to make some pretty harrowing flights in the Whitehorse and Yellowknife areas, before switching to control. In Canada, you make do with what you have and we definitely have ice. Stay well Lynette. Allan

    1. Yes, I enjoyed that show as well. Oh yeah, I know about those flights. I could tell a few hair-raising stories and a couple of times I have kissed the ground afterward. Thanks, Allan; you stay well, too.

    1. No studded tires. The landing roll is usually longer because it’s a nice smooth surface with little traction. This runway is also longer to compensate, and we add the surface conditions to our calculations for landing distance. There are a number of other factors. Aircraft tires regularly experience very cold temperatures in flight, so the rubber compound is already designed for a very wide temperature range. As well, most aircraft have separate brakes on each wheel, and we also make use of reversing propellers, so the forward momentum is very quickly reduced. We also don’t turn the aircraft (the way you would a car) at speed, so we don’t need the sideways friction that a car needs.

  3. I’ll bet it’s a longer rollout! I still remember being on a commercial flight that used every inch of icy runway, and drifted some making the turn at the end. I was glad to be wearing my seat belt!

    1. That can be rather unnerving. You may have experienced a cross-wind which could have caused some drifting, especially in icy conditions. Your pilots were probably working very hard on that landing!

          1. All of my work revolved around Otters,twin Otters,Beavers and helicopters.
            We went into places very few people saw. I never saw an airport of any size until the project was done and I went back home.

          2. Yes, there used to be a lot of that type of flying in the north (there still is, although less than there used to be). I love the Otters and Beavers. Great aircraft. 🙂

    1. Thank you very much. It’s not much more difficult than a dry runway landing. We have to be more cautious about the landing roll distance and cross winds can be problematic, too. Pilots always need to be respectful of conditions and also “on.”

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