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Snow Clearance

Old 6th Jan 2010, 20:43
  #41 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Birmingham
Age: 48
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USAF loadsa money.
RAF not a lot of money

decent Snow and Ice kit costs
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Old 6th Jan 2010, 20:51
  #42 (permalink)  
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The USAF aircraft are fitted with winter, Northern European tyres especially designed for these adverse weather conditions.

The RAF aircraft are not.
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Old 6th Jan 2010, 21:36
  #43 (permalink)  
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Can remember a winter in Binbrook, sitting in the bar with a Q1 or Q2 plaque around my neck and in a goon suit, reminding me not to drink. If the hooter went off, the jet would be towed onto the runway and pointed in the appropriate direction while we arrived in our batmobile land rover, the snow plough would give it one last shot and turn back to face down the runway with their headlights on - and off you go! And you tell the youth of today...........
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Old 7th Jan 2010, 01:02
  #44 (permalink)  
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What memories

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Old 7th Jan 2010, 01:18
  #45 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Two Tone Blue
Certainly happened at Waddo in the winter of 81/82 [I think that was the year]. OC Eng arranged for an endless procession of bowsers with blades, up and down, up and down the rw for hours. They compacted the snow into ice, which the blades subsequently rode over without any effect. We ended up with ice nearly a foot thick on the rw edges, which could then not be attacked by the MRD due to attrition on light fittings! I spent 3 days out there [on the grass in a LR] trying to unravel the mess; it only got better when Waddo swapped a staff car for Scampton's snow-clearing enormous lawn-mower thing, which was eventually able to eat its way through the snow/ice banks.

We remained Op capable throughout, though ... except probably NOT for landing.
Hmm. I remember that, except IIRC it was the Duty Senior Snow Clearer Chap (a sqn ldr engineer) who made the decision to keep going - when the bowsers towing the Sicards were compacting the snow since it was coming down so densely. Really, the sensible decision would have been to leave it alone. But it would have been a brave man who explained to the Stn Cdr that the best thing to do all night had been to do nothing - especially as the entire station Vulcan force would have had to come off state. Allegedly we were fit to operate with half the runway clear.

Generally, though, snow clearance worked fairly well in those days. I've been wondering how things worked now. They don't, mostly, it would appear.
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Old 7th Jan 2010, 06:19
  #46 (permalink)  
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About 26C at the house today. Couldn't find the little umbrellas for the drinks however.
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Old 7th Jan 2010, 09:18
  #47 (permalink)  
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We had a standard scale of essential ground equipment needed to support our deployments back in the early 1980s - long before we became involved in Middle East wars.

One essential deployment was imminent and the new SEngO started getting involved. He came through to our office and asked what equipment was available at a certain USAF base. We went through his 'tick list' and he was quite happy until it came to 'aircraft de-icing'. We needed a cherry picker to reach the top of the tail and a huge amount of de-icing fluid for a VC10.

"No, sir, sorry, but there isn't any at that base"
"But there must be - we have to be prepared for 24 hour operations!"
"Well, there isn't!"
"Sir, do you know the name of the civil side of the aerodrome?"
"Err, no. Can you tell me?"
"Yes - the military side is called Hickam AFB - and the civil side is Honolulu International, Oahu. In the Hawaiian Islands!"

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Old 7th Jan 2010, 10:31
  #48 (permalink)  
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@ kiwibrit ... your memory may well be right. I do however recall having a heated discussion with OC Eng somewhere near the northern RHAG on the subject!
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Old 7th Jan 2010, 10:34
  #49 (permalink)  
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Back in the early 80's I used to quite like driving in the snow on the airfield until the fateful day when our trusty Land Rover went u/s with a frozen engine (so much for RAF anti-freeze!). I duly went over to MT and borrowed a mobile death trap - a Land Rover fitted with the anti-fod Bar Tread tyres.

I managed to get about half way around the peri track of the secret airfield (now inhabited by rocks) at about 5mph before the damn thing wouldn't stop or steer, it drove itself off the road and overturned.

I was then informed a rather irate WO i/c MT was on his way to inspect the damage. He also made the mistake of using a Land Rover with Bar Tread Tyres in the snow and only got about 200 yards before he too was upside down and shouting for help.

I seem to recall they reverted to normal tyres on Land Rovers not long after.

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Old 7th Jan 2010, 11:45
  #50 (permalink)  
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Two Tone Blue - looks as though you were closer to the immediate action than I, at the time. Whoever was involved in the decision, it was not much fun trying to clear up the mess afterwards. All ranks from squadron leader down were out futilely hacking with make-shift implements at the highly compacted snow. I do recall that the lesson was learned to minimise traffic on snow after that
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Old 7th Jan 2010, 12:56
  #51 (permalink)  
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and for some reason Lyneham decided in the 70's that only an Air Eng could operate them ...
For some reason it was the secondary duty of a new Air Eng on the Sqn ....

That makes total sense, you wouldn't want to tie up a valuable resource such as us ground Engineers as they used to at Brize
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Old 7th Jan 2010, 13:58
  #52 (permalink)  
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Snow clearing, 216 Sqn style... it's quite cheap- $10 per brush from Walmart... it's my GEM of an idea- no-ones stealing it!!

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Old 7th Jan 2010, 14:12
  #53 (permalink)  
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Is it tech?........................

Seems like you are dumping them all over the shop, there is one parked on DHL's Apron at EGNX if my eyes are not decieving me as I gaze out of the office window..

I remember a 10 sqn (pilot I believe) many moons ago coming up with the bright Idea of adding "pink" dye to the deice fluid so you could see if it had an even coating............. Needless to say is was not looked into

I seem to remember in the mid 70's after years of shovelling at Odius they finally bought a sicard and on it's first outing in earnest with the heavy snow they drove it over one of the rolls of barbed wire alongside the taxiway which it did it's best to digest and that was that so to speak.... lol

Mk1 shovel was redeployed

Last edited by NutLoose; 7th Jan 2010 at 14:22.
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Old 7th Jan 2010, 14:52
  #54 (permalink)  

Forewarned is Forearmed
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Spent Five hours in a Rolba Snow blower here yesterday although built in the 70's it did an excellent jod shifing snow banks that the ploughs had created.

We purchased Three ex RAF Sicard brushes back in the 80's which were modified in house by our MT section (converted from V8 petrol to Diesel engines).
Two were in Service yesterday the third is being brought back into service tonight after a certain person decided to fill the Hydraulic tank on one of our new super new mega expensive brushes with Diesel

Still have one of your C-130's here which diverted in to us last night, due Wx nice to see you anytime
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Old 7th Jan 2010, 17:19
  #55 (permalink)  

Champagne anyone...?
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USAF loadsa money.
RAF not a lot of money

decent Snow and Ice kit costs
Everything "costs" old chap, it just depends on your priorities. Given some of the tosh we spend our money on I find it unsurprising that we happily denude ourselves of an "all weather" capability in this way. Hey ho.

Ps. The USAF don't have loadsa money
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Old 7th Jan 2010, 17:22
  #56 (permalink)  
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A South Atlantic Tale

It was in darkest RAF Stanley in the winter of 1983 [obviously 6 months displaced from UK]. Apparently the coldest winter since WW2. My experiences at Waddo had prepared me for the worst.

It fell to me to collect, from the jetty in Stanley, a newly-arrived flt lt joining my sqn. It was well past sunset as we bumped through the deep snow and ice to the airfield, where he was given a coffee. He was then invited to don all possible clothing, pick up a shovel, and join the entire stn out on the rw, chipping ice from the RHAGs to keep the airfield operational. The wind was so strong that people were being blown over on the ice, and the max anyone could keep going was about 1 hour.

Q remained flyable throughout ... probably.

Ahhh ... those were the days, when even the RAF were men!!
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Old 7th Jan 2010, 17:51
  #57 (permalink)  
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Whilst acting OC Ops at Thumrait in the 80's, I (foolishly) read SFO's (AKA the shortest book in the word of aviation) where I discovered that I was responsible for the implimentation and management of the Station snow plan. Fortunately the experience I had gained many years earlier as OC Station snow plan RAF Tengah proved to be invaluable.
Strange the secondary duties which came my way!
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Old 7th Jan 2010, 17:58
  #58 (permalink)  
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Today's story....

Well, firstly i must apologise for not having a story from '67, '79', '89 or even '99!
Things i've learnt today at the not-so-secret Oxonian Airfield (Sorry Beags...but the secret's out now!):

1. Apparently, Urea is a potent substance and can no longer be used. No S**t Sherlock - that's why it melts snow!

2. Apparently, we can no longer afford the right equipment, or a sufficient stock of the requisite fluids to do the job.

3. We only have sufficient assets to free one aircraft in a day, when that aircraft goes u/s, it takes another day to free its replacement.

4. There's something very wrong when Sqn aircrew have to dig out their own aircraft to get the job done. Not that they mind, of course.

5. Our techies are capable of building the most immense snow penises.

On a wider note - is it me or is all the media coverage incredibly self-pitying? It's all about poor us...don't travel, go to work, walk the dog or pick your nose for fear of slipping. How's about spending some of that valuable airtime explaining to the untrained how to drive in these conditions, or that it might be a good idea to buy a shovel to dig yourself out of it!

Just a thought
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Old 7th Jan 2010, 18:39
  #59 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2008
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@ Romeo Oscar Golf ... I think you may be "pulling the plonker", as I have no recollection of a snow plan at Tengah.

@ Uncle Ginsters ... yes, Urea could create havoc with the local water supplies, IIRC. Limited usage only ... and elderly gentlemen, now abed, would have a midnight 'urge' to pee

Bottom line, snow-clearing is a bloody complicated exercise.
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Old 7th Jan 2010, 18:45
  #60 (permalink)  
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Location: Once a Squirrel Heaven (or hell!), Shropshire UK
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Dear Mach 2

Please could I have my shirt back!

As one of the Acklington students it seemed we spent most of those 5 days out on the runway with shovels, brooms and pickaxes (and copious amounts of rum) until it was finally declared usable by SATCO. Cue two Cranwell JPs in, 4 out, a touch and go by one of the first C130's in RAF colours - followed by another blizzard and yet another 6 days clearing snow.
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