July 8: It was a day like any other. A light aircraft prepared to take off from an airstrip south of Tokyo, Japan. But it was no ordinary flight. For, the plane took off from a metal airstrip right in high seas — a floating airstrip. Japan has claimed that it is the world’s first of its kind, says a report in ‘The Asian Age’. Four big steel companies and 13 shipbuilding firms came together for this project. They say their creation is unsinkable. Japan’s shaky government must be longing for an unsinkable platform like this to keep afloat.

The World's First Floating Airstrip
The World’s First Floating Airstrip [Illustration by Sudheer Nath]
‘Megafloat’ is a moveable airstrip one km long and three metres thick. What is unique about it is that it can be broken up into several parts, and reassembled at any other place. Much like building blocks. Each part can be transported on barges. For now, the airstrip is moored at the port of Yokosuka, near Tokyo.

The makers of the airstrip say that it has several advantages. It can face typhoons and powerful waves without any problems. The biggest advantage is that unlike airstrips on land, this one will be immune to earthquakes too. And in a country that is prone to earthquakes, that is a big plus point. For, the floating tarmac can be turned into an emergency centre for evacuation for people from quake-hit zones.

There are plans to test the airstrip by having heavier aircraft take off from and land on it.