The single runway (10/28) at Mataveri International Airport (IPC/SCIP) on Rapa Nui1 has (at least according to Google Maps) a few paved protuberances emanating from partway down its northern edge which serve no obvious purpose:

That tab's supposed to be glued UNDER the terrain, not on top of it!

I wondered if at least some of them might be the old turnaround pads from before the runway was lengthened in the early 1980s, but:

  • if that were the case, one would not expect them to still exist in what at least appears to be good condition a third of a century later, and
  • they look far too small to be turnaround pads emeritus - compare, for instance, the turnaround pad at the approach end of runway 28:

Pretend, for a moment, that that dropoff isn't there, and concentrate on the turnaround pad.

Does anyone know what these appendages are, and what purpose they serve?

EDIT: As @MikeSowsun points out, the runway would not only have been shorter then, but narrower as well (not having needed to serve widebody jets or distressed spacecraft), meaning that the turnaround pads themselves could be smaller, and that they'd have been at least partly paved over when the runway was widened (leaving only the outboardmost portions visible); this still doesn't address the issue of "how come they're still visible a third of a century after being abandoned", though.

1: Also known by its colonial names of Easter Island and Isla de Pascua.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Some of the older aerial photos available in Google Earth show a painted turnaround arrow on the larger pad. Perhaps that's designed for smaller planes that need less space and a shorter runway. $\endgroup$ May 7, 2019 at 4:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If you look closely at the top circle of the top picture, you can see the nose wheel line for a turnaround pad. $\endgroup$
    – user71659
    May 7, 2019 at 4:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I suspect they were probably old end of runway turn around pads from when the runway was shorter and narrower. As "user71659" says, I can see the nose wheel line still present on the larger one. $\endgroup$ May 7, 2019 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeSowsun: Still doesn't explain how they still exist in fairly good condition, though. $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    May 8, 2019 at 3:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ They could still be available for smaller aircraft which don’t require full length takeoff. This would save taxi time, fuel and keep takeoff noise more inside the aerodrome area. $\endgroup$ May 8, 2019 at 8:58

1 Answer 1


It isn't a change in the runway length.* It was last lengthened in the 80s to serve as a Space Shuttle emergency landing site (latimes.com), and the length hasn't changed since.

Between c. 2007 and 2011 (sorry clouds got in the way) the runway was resurfaced in stages. In one stage, the runway was shortened and given a temporary (small; cheap) turnaround pad (with centerline markings as well). When this happens, the declared distances are amended.

When the work was done, a new proper one was built, and the temporary small one became vestigial. Note the X marking in the second image, and note that many runways utilize mid-runway turnaround pads to shorten the taxi time back to the terminal (on the west end).

* well, in a sense, it was

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.