Cold weather doesn't freeze Flying Viking mission

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Kerry Bartlett and Tech. Sgt. Bob Sommer
  • 934th Airlift Wing public affairs
The Christmas snowstorm of 2009 that dumped about 16 inches of snow in the Minneapolis area was quite a mess at a very busy time of year. As it is well known in the North, a significant snow fall is usually followed by cold temperatures. Two weeks later, during the January UTA, the temperatures were struggling to get above zero.
While this weather is nothing new to the people of Minnesota, the cold climate calls for special equipment and procedures to ensure the success of winter operations for aircraft.

When snow is in the forecast, the 934th Civil Engineer Squadron operates under the snow plan which prioritizes the snow removal and designates personnel to operate the snow removal equipment.
"It is the NCOIC that gives the 'go ahead' to begin plowing," said Staff Sgt. Nathan Olson, pavement and construction equipment operator at the 934th CES.

"We start with the aircraft parking ramp, then main roads, and finally side streets," Olson added.

The snow is plowed into rows and then the big snow blower with an auger system measuring approximately five feet by eight feet, is used to blow the snow into a field or dump truck so it can be hauled away.
Due to the proximity to the airfield, only sand is used on the roads, Olson explained.
On the flight line, one to two hours before start up, heaters blow 150 degree air into the engine nose cone to prevent seals from leaking when the engine is started. This procedure is needed when the temperature is below 32 degrees Farenheit.

"The cold is the C-130's worst enemy" said Tech.Sgt. Rodney Beck, aircraft mechanic at the 934th Maintenance Squadron.
Even security forces can fall victim the extreme Minnesota weather.

"The cold takes its' toll, with me usually starting with my hands" said Staff Sgt. Grace Bisch.
Aircraft heaters are used to keep security forces personal warm as they check identification cards at the main gate.

"The heaters help a lot" said Bisch, who on a typical UTA weekend may spend up to two hours at the front gate. "We rotate in and out of the guard building just long enough to warm up slightly."

Personnel rotate between several outdoor posts throughout the base during a normal shift.

From the front gate to the flight line, the cold weather climates require unique procedures and hearty souls to ensure mission accomplishment.
Sergeant Olson summed it up this way, "We have a mission to do, so we work in the cold. It's what we do," he added.