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Clay “Competes” In The Buffalo Airport Snow Removal Equipment Rodeo

Brad Hohman

It’s an annual event at the Buffalo Airport. The crew that handles snow removal holds a fun event call the ‘Equipment Rodeo.” Airfield Superintendent Tom Dames ( Marine Corps Pilot Ret.)  gives his award winning crew a chance to show off their skills and “practice” for the upcoming snow season.I had a chance to be a part of it today. Of all the things I have covered, this ranks close to the top as one of the most unique and exciting things I have seen.Thanks to Brad Hohman for taking the time to film and photograph this.Snow Removal? It’s 70 Degrees!

It was a perfect morning to watch the crew maneuver around the obstacle courses and even had a make shift “hockey puck” that they had to navigate around a course and shoot at a goal! The power and size of these plows, brooms, loaders and blowers is pretty sweet to see up close. It is vital that these operators be as precise as possible in a real snow removal situation. They don’t have a lot of time in between flights and with the amount of flights that come in and out of BNIA, the job can have some stressful moments. We are lucky to have such a dedicated and hard working crew here in Buffalo. There are many winters that go by and the runways stay open. Often times the delays that we see are a result of other cities/airports. Compared to other hubs the size of BNIA, the crew here leads the way. Many other airports look to them for advice/strategies.

What’s Today’s Winner Get?

The operator with the winning time today gets the GRAND PRIZE! The best parking spot for one year!! It a good prize in WNY for any business, but when you are in snow for a living, the closer to the shop you can park the better!

My Turn On The Loader

I have a new appreciation for those of you that are loader operators. It is not as easy as you make it look. Even with a guide sitting with me in the cab…I still wasn’t very good. It was fun trying though! I also got to ride shotgun in on of the plows and one took a glance in one of the cabs of a “broom.” I learned that they don’t use salt on the runways. The salt is too corrosive for the aluminum planes and loose salt doesn’t go well inside of jet turbines. Yet, the crew has to get down to pavement.I mean there is no way around it, the planes have to have a surface clear of snow and ice in order to stop when they land. It’s often a 24hour job in some of the snows/blowing snows we get.

Big Thanks!

A big thank you to the NFTA and to Tom and his crew for allowing us to watch them compete and learn about what they do. I’d love to be back when the snow is flying and who knows if this radio thing doesn’t work out….nah…who am I kidding, I have  no skills when it comes to this stuff! I’ll stick to my shovel and my 20 foot driveway!

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