Meet “Snow Lizard”
Plow, broom and blow!
That is what our newly acquired airport snow removal equipment does in one operation! Her name (“her” gender was specified by our Secretary-Treasurer Kate Burke-Rosales): Snow Lizard.
The mission of improving the methods and effectiveness of snow removal at Northeast Ohio Regional Airport has evolved over the years. Traditionally, the airport would plow and, if required, snow blower the runway. This method often resulted in some level of residual snow and ice contamination on paved surfaces along with the associated degradation of safety to aircraft operations.
Approximately eight years ago, employees Bill Burgess and Tim Skidmore assembled what some have called “Frankenstein”. They took two old, green Idaho Norland chassis the Authority obtained from Erie International and merged components to create one operational unit. As luck would have it, our tenant Gary Liljenberg informed us that Burke Lakefront had a snow broom they wished to dispose of at no cost which we “graciously” accepted. Bill and Tim assembled the broom to the chassis and the ACAA was –for the first time – in a position to broom pavement during snow events. The limitation of this unit was the width of the broom which required numerous passes to clear our 100’ wide runway.
Based on the positive results of brooming vs. plowing, the Ashtabula County Airport Authority (ACAA) pursued the acquisition of a larger, dedicated airport broom/blower unit. A suitable used Oshkosh unit was located for sale at the St. Louis Lambert Airport at a cost of $45,000.00. The unit was purchased with a charitable donation and has become the backbone of the ACAA snow removal operations.
It was noted that the ACAA had no redundant snow removal equipment equivalent to the Oshkosh unit. The ACAA set out to identify for purchase a second unit to address this need.
ACAA Board member Lance Bushweiler discovered an advertisement for a unit up for bid in an aviation related publication. The unit had enhanced capabilities. In addition to brooming and blowing, the unit was also equipped with a plow. This allows for plowing, brooming and blowing in one operation vs two separate operations which reduces the time to clear the runway and return it to service. In addition, included with the purchase was a “dustpan” which permits for the dry brooming of FOD (Foreign Object Debris) from airport pavement.
The ACAA Board of Trustees approved bidding on the unit with funding from a private donation. On December 30, 2019, the ACAA was the successful bidder and formalized arrangements with the Salt Lake City Airport for payment and training of Bill Burgess in the operation of the equipment. The unit was disassembled and loaded on four trucks by Atlas Rigging & Transportation for transport to Ohio. The total cost of the project (equipment, rigging and transportation) was $56,267.40.
Snow Lizard has been re-assembled and placed into service thus enhancing the ACAA’s ability to reliably provide a runway free of snow and ice contamination to all arriving and departing aircraft.