Intervention on Hailuoto Airfield


The Hailuoto Airfield is located on the southwestern coast of Hailuoto island

Already on the evening we arrived in Hailuoto we took notice of a grovel runway next to our accommodation. It turned out that it was actually an airfield that is still in use. That really gave our imagination a spark, and it seemed only fitting that we would do the final intervention of the camp, our grand finale, on the airfield.

We decided do a sound piece dedicated to the empty, rarely used airfield. To start off the work, we researched the history of the airfield. Apparently the airfield used to be a crucial part of Hailuoto infrastructure, as flying was the only means of transportation to and from the island for the parts of the year when it was not possible to take a ferry or drive on ice to the mainland. These days the ferries traffic throughout the year, and the airfield is used only occasionally and in emergencies.

Antti Suomalainen, Timo Viialainen and Antye Greie-Ripatti setting up the airfield piece

One of the early ideas for the piece was to write a short dialogue for a pilot and an air traffic control communicator. While researching the language these communicators use, we discovered, a website where you can listen to live air traffic control discussions from hundreds of airports around the world. We thought that these live streams were surprisingly interesting on their own, and ended up using them as the main material for the piece.

We placed four speakers in the middle of the runway with an iPhone or an iPad running LiveATC app connected to each speaker. One speaker was transmitting ATC communication from Haneda Airport in Tokyo, the second from Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, the third from Kota Kinabalu Airport in Sabah, Malaysia and the fourth from Kuopio Airport, the only Finnish airport featured in LiveATC.

The sporadic four-way chatter created a distinctive soundscape for the airfield. It sounded like the communicators from four different airports were communicating with each other, filling the empty runway path with a feeling of urgency. We wanted to document the installation in a special manner, and the end result can be heard below:

Text: Niklas Nybom