North Pole ski update: Barneo runway under final construction

Posted: Apr 04, 2011 12:30 pm EDT

(By Correne Coetzer) Attention! The opening of the airfield, Barneo is not far away! assured the Russian crew. Construction on the runway is nearly finished. Not an easy task because the ice floe is difficult reported the Barneo team and the weather was deteriorating at 89°N.

In the mean time more last degree teams are gathering in Longyearbyen, together with the teams already waiting to fly to Barneo. Eric Philips and his team, who are to ski all the way to land, reported that their possible drop-off at 90°N is April 5; three days behind schedule.

Barneo Ice Station

On April 1 the wind was still too strong in Murmansk, Russia, for the Ilyushin-76 to get off the runway. The Barneo team said in their update that plane was loaded to maximum capacity and take-off in high winds at that airport is risky because of mountains at the end of the runway.

A change in the wind over the weekend gave the Ilyushin-76 a chance to get in the air with the two tractors, fuel drums and rest of the Barneo paratroopers/staff. All were dropped at a position identified as suitable location for a runway for the Ice Station.

Three tractor drivers worked in shifts around the clock with the other staff to get the airstrip constructed. Good weather in Murmansk allowed the Ilyushin to make a third successful fuel supply to Barneo.

Latest weather at Barneo according to their April 4 update: This morning the wind was still blowing at 20m/s, it was snowing and visibility dropped. The weather is expected to improve though and the fist technical flight is ready to fly in.

The coordinates of the drifting camp:
April 1: N 89° 10'30'' and E121° 44'06''
April 2: N89° 08' and E116° 21'
April 3: N89° 06 '499'' and E115° 12'027
April 4: N89° 06'499'' and E115° 12'027''

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The Ilyushin-76 from Murmansk dropping fuel, tractors and Barneo staff.
courtesy Barneo Ice Station, SOURCE
One of the tractors that landed on the ice.
courtesy Barneo Ice Station, SOURCE
Fuel drop.
courtesy Barneo Ice Station, SOURCE
Tractor drivers jumping in tandem.
courtesy Barneo Ice Station, SOURCE
More Barneo paratroopers/staff.
courtesy Barneo Ice Station, SOURCE
Barneo staff working the runway on a difficult ice floe.
courtesy Barneo Ice Station, SOURCE
The tractor drivers working around the clock.
courtesy Barneo Ice Station, SOURCE
The three tractor drivers
courtesy Barneo Ice Station, SOURCE

courtesy Barneo Ice Station, SOURCE
One of Barneos Mi-8 helicopters in deteriorating weather this morning.
courtesy Barneo Ice Station, SOURCE
The Ilyushin-76 crew finished their job after three air drops and flew back to Russia.
courtesy Barneo Ice Station, SOURCE
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