What it Takes to Plow Every Inch of Snow off the Airport Runway

Snow plowing is a full time job for Cherry Capital Airport.

Many parts of Northern Michigan were under winter weather advisories Monday.

But you couldn’t tell that by looking at the runways at the Cherry Capital airport.

There, every inch of pavement is plowed tediously so planes can take off and land safely.

“When it’s snowing we have to remove it, if it rains and freezes we have to remove it,” said Dan Sal, the assistant director of operations and maintenance at Cherry Capital airport. “Very little snow or ice will cause bad friction, that’s why we have to get it down to the pavement every time.”

The friction on the runway has to be tested during snow removal. It needs to be exactly correct.

To do this, snow removal is quite literally a full-time job. The task of clearing more than two miles of runway and taxis requires 20 people and a fleet of huge equipment, including 67-foot snow maulers, blowers, scrapers, and highly specialized technology.

“When [the snow starts] we’ll sweep it down to the pavement and if it’s too deep for the sweepers, we’ll plow it,” said Sal.

They plow constantly. It’s hard work and precise science. It’s been harder recently with the up and down temps.

“[There’s been] a lot of freeze and thaw which is tough out here because when it thaws, it freezes at night and we have to treat it every night,” said Sal. “We have to watch the weather all the time getting weather, updates watching the forecast and the radar and planning around that weather.”

Sal says he treats every flight like a special event. That requires special work to make sure it’s safe.

The Cherry Capital has an app to help travelers track weather and flight information.

To learn more, click here.