A frozen lake becomes a helipad: It’s not possible every winter, but this season it’s cold enough for planes to land on Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire.
The runway is about 800 meters long and can only open when the ice is at least 30 cm thick, explains Paul La Rochelle, director of this airport – the only ice airport certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US air transport agency.
“We don’t drive our trucks yet if we don’t have 30 cm of ice. If we have 22 cm there, 30 cm there, 25 cm but somewhere else, we don’t open.” La Rochelle, who goes out every day to measure the thickness of the ice, says it is not So that the thickness is the same everywhere. “
This weekend, the thickness had reached 50 cm, and the airport, which opened a week earlier with employees from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, saw several planes land.
Not without difficulties.
“The ice is slippery. Lots of pilots say that,” says Carol Newola, Runway Operations Manager.
“Turning and stopping has become difficult maneuvers, although it is very easy to do on paved paths or with lawn, but it is completely different here on ice.”
“There’s a little layer of snow on the ice that gives a little bit of hold, but it’s not great,” she added.