Everything You Need to Know About Icing, Deicing, and the Travails of Winter Flying
AS ANOTHER WINTER STORM bears down, about the last place you’d want to be is headed out to the airport. Delays and cancellations pile up, causing a ripple effect clear across the country and beyond.
What is it, exactly, about winter weather that wreaks such havoc for air travel?
Low visibilities, strong crosswinds, slick runways, potential icing — all of these things spell trouble for pilots, and cause air traffic backlogs. But, as a rule, they aren’t phenomenon that airplanes or their crews can’t handle. Generally, it’s not the in-the-air aspects of a snowstorm that cause chaos, it’s the on-the-ground aspects: Runways and taxiways need to be plowed and treated, while tarmac logistics go to hell as snow and ice accumulate. Luggage and cargo handling, fueling — everything slows to a crawl as personnel and ground equipment get bogged down in the slush.
Planes, meanwhile, cannot take off with ice or snow adhering to the wings. Parked at the terminal, an aircraft collects precipitation the way your car does — via snowfall, sleet, freezing rain or frost. (Thanks to supercooled fuel in the wings, frost can form insidiously even with temps above freezing.) The delicious-looking spray (apricot-strawberry) used to remove it is a heated combination of propylene glycol alcohol and water. It melts away existing snow or ice, and prevents the buildup of more. Different fluid mixtures, varying in temperature and viscosity, are applied for different conditions.
I am on the way to Padang, West Sumatra. In order to get there I am having to fly through Tokyo, Kuala Lampur, and finally, Jakarta. It has been a long voyage thus far. A few shots from Tokyo can be seen above. Walking around in Tokyo International Airport, I felt as if I had descended into one of Japans most desired video games: “Hello Katamari“. Everything was so orderly. The simplicity of it was unreal. Small plants placed beside water fountains for subtle accent. Neutral and off-white colors employed for an organic, unpresuming atmosphere. Furniture low to the ground. I was captivated by every last minute detail. I am now in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia heading to Jakarta.
Wanting to get a taste of success in Charlotte International Airport, I pulled a fast one on the concierge at the U.S. Airways Club & Business Center. Simply put, I breached security and gained entry into the Club with little effort. The Club is comprised of upper echelon individuals of the traveling masses. Furnishing a demographic of such grade, it must endow travelers with the highest of quality. With that said, one can assume this place is very classy. Its urban attitude and contemporary library-themed architecture make you feel as if you are kinfolk of the Kennedy family. The prerequisite to getting into a league of this capacity – I’m assuming – is a net worth of at least 3 million dollars, a limitless supply of personally monogrammed oxfords, a handful of honorary degrees, and one Clydesdale horse.
Knowing that I could never achieve such status, I was forced to swindle my way into the lounge. Once I was in, I made my way to one of the self serve breakfast bars. In premeditation, I asked myself: Ben, do you really want to take this food? ARE YOU KIDDING ME…HELL YEA I DO! As I yelled this within the confines of my pea-shaped head, a smile, illuminated with shrewdness, was revealed. This was immediately followed by me packing my suitcase with an assortment of muffins, fruit and yogurt. As inherited from my hunter-gatherer ancestors, my instincts led me to garnering the maximum amount of goods that would fit in my satchel. In the midst of the taking, I felt no remorse.
When it comes to U.S. Airways, I express zero gratitude. For those of you who don’t know, U.S. Airways has ridiculous bag fees that take advantage of travelers who possess oversize baggage, e.g. four hundred dollars for a surfboard bag traveling within the continental United States. They have upset me, and others I know, countless times. I believe it is only fair of them to return my pain and suffrage in the form of fruits, yogurts, and muffins. Which happened, unbeknownst to them. This did make me feel a little better, although, I’m not satisfied. I haven’t even begun on how I want to be compensated for the monetary losses I have incurred over the years. Hey, U.S. Air! I’ve had my eye on a 14th century castle in Scotland for the past few months; 96,000 sq ft, 42 bedrooms, and an illuminated display of manuscripts to name a few features. I think Nicholas Cage has his on the market.
With this rage pent-up inside me, I am destined to find a way to climb the corporate ladder of US Airways. Operating with rigor, I will painstakingly make it to the confines of upper level management, and, with a solid Jean-Claude Van Damme front kick, detonate into their conference room where a thorough ass-slapping is to be ensued. While all this is occurring, not one time in my mind do I regret intervening on the quarterly “Bag Fees: How to F**k Our Customers” meeting that I just turned into a shit show.
Yes, this may be somewhat militant, but I believe its an efficient way of getting goals accomplished. Hey, George Bush did the same thing and he chalked up a couple wins during his presidency. Aside from my desires to completely obliterate U.S. Airways off the face of this earth, I had a well balanced breakfast. And guess who’s tab it was on? U.S. Air’s!
Container port in Singapore. The country
is about 3.5 times the size of Washington D.C. and has a population of 5.2 million people.