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Thread: Airfield Snow Clearing

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    SuperMod Peter Kirk's Avatar
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    Default Airfield Snow Clearing

    Topical question (It's snowing now if your'e reading this months later!)

    What equipment or procedures were there for snow clearance?
    I can see a hard surface might be easier but what about grass or mesh/grid/matting surfaces? I recently saw a snow clearing diagram in a book but for the life of me can't recall which airfield or book.
    Last edited by Richard Flagg; 21-07-2009 at 10:55.

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    Senior Member Denis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Airfield Snow Clearing, Edited for extra content...

    I have seen images of jet engines mounted on the back of truck chassis for snow clearance. Even a time expired Gloster Meteor with the wings cut off outboard of the nacelles, and fitted with a tow hitch on the front Oleo leg..honest! See post 39 on this thread:
    http://forum.keypublishing.co.uk/showth ... nce&page=2
    During WW2 the method was more manpower based, I spoke to the former Photographic Intelligence Officer from 21 Squadron a couple of years ago. He told us of clearing snow from Hunsdons runways with shovels and brooms, only to restart at the other end and work back because of continued snowfall!
    A bit like the Forth Bridge paint schedule by the sound of it
    Last edited by Richard Flagg; 21-07-2009 at 10:55.

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    Default Re: Airfield Snow Clearing

    The jet engine was called a machine for runway de-icing or MRD. i think they went out of service in the seventies. Most RAF airfields fit snow blades to fuel bowsers in october and remove them in april. The snow and ice plan usually involves getting the acess roads to the airfiled clearded first and then the runways and taxiways. Once the runway is cleared ATC will then do a mu-meter run to get the breaking action.

    The mu-meter is a machine towed behind the ATC land rover.Mu is the co-effacient of friction so you get a number which equated to the breaking action. Dead easy isnt it!
    Last edited by Richard Flagg; 21-07-2009 at 10:56.

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    Default Re: Airfield Snow Clearing

    The dreaded MRD. What memories. The people in the Engine Bay used to look after the MRDs and every week on a Friday we had to train the on-coming snow and ice team. It was always good fun getting the Derwents started.

    When we had to use them in anger things could get exciting. They were normallt banned from the runways because if you got the nozzles too low or the bowser moved too slowly the fragile tarmac of the runway could be melted. They could go on the runway thresholds, the hangar aprons and the ASP, which were all surfaced in concrete. I have seen them pick up huge sheets of ice and frozen snow and hurl them up hangar doors or for yards and yards across open ground.

    One little party trick to hastle the bowser drivers was to wait until the bowser was on icy ground and then slowly nudge the throttles on the Derwents until the thrust from the engines matched the traction from the bowser's wheels. The bowser would then sit there, its drive wheels slowly churning round but the MRD combination stationery. Of course, you dare do this only on concrete otherwise tarmac would mely. I often saw the bitumen caulking between concrete slabs melted and spread in a thin film across the adjacent concrete.

    Now we get to the non-PC bit. In the old days snow and ice action was handled at "Blacktop Control". Blacktop was used as the codeword because the aim of the snowclearing activity was to make sure that the surface of the runway remained 'black', and not 'white' - ie, covered in snow. I am sure that this terminology is not used today.

    Whenever I was Blacktop Controller I always preferred to use the Sicard high speed brushes, which were far more effective at clearing snow of the runway than blades. I noticed on some of the TV news reports this evening that BAA are still using Sicards - hopefully a bit newer than the ones we had nearly 35 years ago!
    Last edited by Richard Flagg; 21-07-2009 at 10:56.

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    SuperMod Peter Kirk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Airfield Snow Clearing

    There used to be a "runway" dryer at Santa Pod.
    Last edited by Richard Flagg; 21-07-2009 at 10:56.

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    Default Re: Airfield Snow Clearing

    Blacktop is still the term used (or it was when I left in 2001) just like when a runway is unavailable it is black.
    Last edited by Richard Flagg; 21-07-2009 at 10:56.

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    Last edited by kebecker; 07-01-2010 at 14:57. Reason: link updated

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    Senior Member mawganmad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Airfield Snow Clearing

    Blacktop is still a used term in the MoD. Machines used are S26s with Snow plow attachment, Sicards and Land Rovers pulling Urea sprayers/spreaders to prevent re icing. There are only some camps that will go to the effort of totally clearing the runway, usually the ones that have vital moves.

    PNK the Santa Pod machine is not primarily a dryer, it is to heat up and soften the tarmac at the start end of the strip, this gives great traction for drag race launches. Same goes for bleaching and burn outs for the rear tyres.
    Last edited by Richard Flagg; 21-07-2009 at 10:56.

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    Default Re: Airfield Snow Clearing

    Once the runway is cleared ATC will then do a mu-meter run to get the breaking action.

    The mu-meter is a machine towed behind the ATC land rover.Mu is the co-effacient of friction so you get a number which equated to the breaking action. Dead easy isnt it![/quote]

    How I hated that machine !!
    Last edited by Richard Flagg; 21-07-2009 at 10:56.

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    Default Re: Airfield Snow Clearing


    photographed this at kemble a few years ago
    is it a snow blower for want of a better word
    Last edited by Richard Flagg; 21-07-2009 at 10:56.

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