Mill Glacier (Plunket Point)

wheeled landing on the Mill Glacier
NSF chartered Twin Otter on deck on wheels at Plunket Point, January 1989

[from "Airfields on Antarctic Glacier Ice" by Malcolm Mellor and Charles Swithinbank, CRREL Report 89-21, 1989 full report (PDF)]

Mill Glacier (Plunket Point) [85ºS-167ºE]

1. Proven ice runway 4500 x 60 m (15,000 x 200 ft) with maximum longitudinal grade not exceeding 2% and transverse grade not exceeding 1%. [163'/343']

2. High probability of finding ice runway 3840 x 60 m (12,600 x 200 ft) with maximum longitudinal grade not exceeding 1.5% and maximum transverse grade not exceeding 1%.

3. Runways are aligned into the prevailing wind and have clear approaches (1:50 glide slope) and clear climb-out path (1:50).

4. Although the surface would be improved by planing to facilitate smooth landings and take-offs, the natural microrelief may be within the landing-gear tolerance of C-130, C-141, and CUB aircraft

5. The runway adjoins a vast area of ice- and snow-free desert on which permanent structures could be erected. Access between desert and icefield is suitable for ordinary wheeled vehicles.

6. Crevasse-free route available for surface travel to South Pole (300 miles).

7. Adds nothing to round-trip distance McMurdo-South Pole.

8. Runway is perpendicular (in grid terms) to the long runway at Mt. Howe, so could prove a useful alternate under high wind conditions.


1. The site is 140 miles farther from South Pole than Mt Howe.

2. The runway has a significantly greater slope than the Mt Howe runways.

Charles Swithinbank
South Pole
15 January 1989

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