Which airport (/field, /strip, /skiway) is the "biggest", "most supported" on Antarctica?


  • has the most permanent staff (do any?)
  • has the most runway facilities such as say runway lights, markings, length, aircraft weight possible, surfaced (are any?), etc?
  • has the most or any fueling facilities?
  • the most or any ground support facilities? repair facilities?
  • is opened all or at least the most months of the year?

What's the state of the "best" airport (or analogue) in Antarctica?


1 Answer 1


You can find a full list of airports on the continent here, the majority are ice/snow runways with two gravel runways at Rothera Air Facility and TNM. Supported is a loose term down there, however Williams Field which services McMurdo Station is groomed and has fuel available. Phoenix Airfield which also serves McMurdo can accept wheeled landings and seems to be marked in some capacity. Marble Point (a helicopter landing site) is also operated by the US, has fuel available and is operable 24 hours a day in the summer and has weather reporting.

The full operations of the (US) bases can be found in this document which states

Williams Field is serviced by MLS, TACAN, and RNAV (GPS) approaches.


Phoenix Airfield is serviced by TACAN, MLS and RNAV approaches.

which is a solid set of approaches all things considered.

At least two fields have runway lighting

Airfield lighting systems are established at Phoenix and Williams Fields. The NSF Prime Contractor maintains airfield markings and lighting systems in accordance with AFMAN 32-1076

McMurdo even offers ATC!

All that considered Williams/Phoenix are your best bets but if you are trying to fly there on your own keep in mind:

All navigational and approach aids are intended strictly for use by USAP (United States Antarctic Program) approved aircraft only. The use of NAVAIDs by non-USAP aircraft are strictly at the pilot’s own risk.

All of the fields are "weather permitting" as are the flights so "open" all year is relative to weather conditions and other considerations.

  • $\begingroup$ Amazing answer! (What's USAP ?) $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Oct 14, 2019 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ United States Antarctic Program. nsf.gov/geo/opp/antarct/usap.jsp $\endgroup$
    – BowlOfRed
    Oct 14, 2019 at 20:50
  • 15
    $\begingroup$ "intended strictly for use by USAP" and "strictly at the pilot’s own risk" -- Is this saying "please don't use these" or just "go ahead, but not our fault if something goes wrong"? $\endgroup$ Oct 15, 2019 at 16:36
  • $\begingroup$ Indeed , that's' a critical question ! @TheGuywithTheHat $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Oct 15, 2019 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ While this answer is absolutely AAA 1st class cabin, it would be great to hear from someone who flies there and has a local-knowledge answer! $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Oct 15, 2019 at 17:36

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