Santa's Sleigh on the way to Europe5 December 2016
While most people in Europe were cursing at their alarmclock or snoozing a few minutes extra before the first day of another working week, an iced-up 747 Freighter, filled to the brim with Christmas presents for the European holidays, was descending into a remote airport deep in a cold and frozen Siberia.
The heaviest November-snowstorm in the history of Novosibirsk filled the airport up this morning with snow and howling winds up to 50km/h, creating heavy turbulence, shifting winds and moderate icing to our engines and fuselage all the way down to barely-visible the runway.
While our alternate airport's runway was already closed due to unforeseen heavy snowfall, we considered ourselves wise and lucky to have taken at least 30 minutes of extra fuel for our flight in case we could not land during our first attempt.
Tolmachevo tower told us already during the approach that the runway was nearly completely covered in a few mm of snow and frost, resulting in a 'braking action medium'; meaning that the brakes of our airplane would have more difficulty finding enough friction to slow us down.
Since we saw it coming already before we even started our descend, our previous calculations showed us that the runway was still long enough to make it to a safe stop under these conditions, though we could not afford to land too far after the beginning of the runway. No time for sloppy flying today ;)