Jack’s Journal: Cherry Capital Airport Grooming

With winter on the wane, we can reflect back on clearing our snow or driving on slippery roads. 

There is one place that not only has to keep things clear, they have to be able to show the pavement! 

Cherry Capital Airport’s maintenance crews are tasked with the job, and they have the equipment to get ‘er done!

“We typically will attack it with a plow first. We have an underbody plow on our multi-function piece of equipment.  Then we have a sweeper, which is a polly and steal sweeper. Then we have an air blast on the back,” says Dan Sal, director of maintenance.

And these machines are big and they move big snow. The runways, taxiways and aprons have to be snow free.  When a jet is coming in fast, those wheels have to be able to grab and safely stop the aircraft.  To keep an eye on the conditions, they have a little help. Embedded in the runway are sensors that feed information back to the maintenance crews.

“We have runway sensors that tell us surface temperatures, tell us if there is moisture or ice.  We also have a sub-surface temperatures,” explains Dan.

That way they can keep an eye on the time of freeze, do they treat with sand, liquid chemicals, or solid deicers, or a mixture of the three.  These machines are huge, but they have to cover a large area quickly. The main runway is over a mile long and 150 feet wide.  A source of pride is the big spring snow of a few years back, as the region was shut down Cherry Capital never closed.

“No we didn’t. We kept our crews on around the clock which is what we do in any snow event.  We run half crews for 12 to 14 hours. Then bring on the other half for 12 to 14.  So when others were closed, we were still open.”

Categories: Jack’s Journal