Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Fasten your seat belts...

...stow your tray tables and put your seat-backs in the upright position. In only about two years from now the first aeroplane will be coming into land on St Helena. Just here to be precise.

The runway will go from the small squarish hill on the left to behind the mounds on the right. All 2.45 km of it.

Things are progressing well, all on time and on budget so far and now they are testing out claddings for the buildings. I am not sure which one they have chosen but I like the top one on the right.

It is a massive project, they have drilled 16 bore holes to fill these reservoirs. 

They need all this water because behind those mounds where the runway ends, there is a valley, or gut, as they are called here, and it needs to be filled in. Not a little valley, oh no, a 200+ metre deep valley. They fill it 80cm layer by 80cm layer, compacting it as they go. The fill material, which is spoil from levelling other parts of the site (ie taking the top off a hill or two), has to be dampened so that it compacts properly. Once it is filled, it will be left to settle for six months before they build the runway on top. They predict that it will settle by 3mm.

They also make these. 1500 a day to build the terminal, the control tower, offices, fire station and everything else they need.

This is the bottom of the control tower. It has another two floors to go on it. 

The runway, taxiway and apron are laid by a machine, one strip at a time. The surface has to be incredibly accurately flat.

This is alternate strips of the apron. The gaps are filled in afterwards.

And here is the clever machine.

Now here we are down on the top of the valley fill. 72% of it has been completed.

It will be filled up to the level of the top of these markers.

Although the Gut was called Dry Gut, it does contain a stream in the rainy season, so a channel has been cut to take the water through to the next valley. You can see it on the right of the picture below, going passed the bottom of the fill.

So, sit back, relax and enjoy the most amazing view of this beautiful island as you come into land.

One day, I'd like to come back here by plane. Maybe you could come too.


1 comment:

  1. Given my boat phobia, that's another place in the world about to be opened up. Hoorah!
    Quite an undertaking though.