Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Final approach for Runway A-1...?
Traveling the Eyre Highway (A-1) across the Nullarbor Plain last night, I came upon a road sign for an Emergency Airstrip. I thought, "That's odd!?! Why would someone construct a runway hundreds of miles from any services? There are NO people, NO towns, and, I would imagine, NO reason to land a plane here. Why spend the money for a airstrip?"
300 Meters later, I got my answer!
They didn't build a separate runway; they painted runway markings on the highway. And I was on final approach for Runway A-1!!!
About the image: I'm parked in the center of the highway with the van lights on high. I shot this image using an external strobe to light the area. The off-kilter angle of the shot is meant to suggest the view from the cockpit of a plane on approach. The gravel shoulders of the road, difficult to see in this image, have been widened considerably to accommodate the wingspan of an RFDS plane.
R.F.D.S. stands for Royal Flying Doctor Service: http://www.flyingdoctor.net/.
There are four such emergency airstrips along the Nullarbor highway which are used to deliver emergency medical services to this remote region of the country. I spent at least 30 minutes parked in the middle of the road to take these images and never spotted another vehicle. This section of the road is the longest, perfectly straight stretch of highway in Australia; it's 146 km long - almost 100 mi.
Now that's a runway!!
Posted by Jeff at 9:55 PM