by Airman 1st Class Christopher R. Morales
JBER Public Affairs
12/9/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- If
driving in snow is a hassle, imagine flying. Instead of every turn
being a skidding accident waiting to happen, blocky wings couldn't get
the right lift and flying straight would be an impossible task.
While the roads and parking lots on base have snow plows clearing the
way, global ground-support aircraft deicers clear aircraft for the
"Snow and ice can accumulate on the wings and severely affect aircraft
performance and our ability to accomplish the mission," said Air Force
Capt. Michael Hayes, 525th Fighter Squadron 'Bulldogs' standardization
and evaluation officer. "Deicing allows aircraft to continue to operate
despite the harsh Alaska winters."
Aircraft aerodynamics are paramount to proper flight, and heavy layers
of snow, ice and frost can weigh the aircraft down, freeze the flaps'
movement and disrupt the airflow providing lift. The combined efforts of
contracted truck drivers and deicer-qualified Airmen with deicing and
anti-icing capabilities prevent those problems and more.
"Deicing basically removes all the snow, ice, frost - everything from
the aircraft," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Paul Lampe Jr., 3rd Maintenance
Squadron aircraft deicing non-commissioned officer in charge. "The
anti-ice [solution] is used right before takeoff so, as it is taxiing
down the runway, it doesn't refreeze before it gets off the ground."
There are two types of deicing machines available on Joint Base
Elmendorf-Richardson to fit the need of any size aircraft. The standard
GL-1800 deicer works on regular aircraft. The extended-reach deicer can
cope with taller aircraft like the C-17 Globemaster III, Lampe said.
"Basically, we deice anything that comes en route as far as C-5
[Galaxy], C-135 [Stratolifter], and C-17," Lampe said. "We [also] do
transport aircraft like C-12 [Huron] and C-40 [Clipper] to C-130
Deicing an aircraft takes place right before it flies, for maximum
efficiency. To plan a deicing, the flightline schedule is passed down to
deicing NCOIC, who plans accordingly.
"Depending on the aircraft and weather, usually [deicing is] real quick, from 30 minutes to a couple of hours," Lampe said.
Weather is a primary factor when deicing. If it snows four inches
overnight, or slush freezes into a thick layer of ice on an aircraft,
there is work to be done. The time it takes to finish the job depends of
the size of the aircraft and the current weather, such as if it's still
The deicing program runs from October to April or whenever the snow falls.
There are many jobs that only grow more difficult in the cold, but some
jobs are only available during the winter. The deicers, behind the desk,
driving the truck, and operating the deicing machines, are one of the
many definitions of an Arctic Warrior on JBER.