Friday, January 19, 2007

Falling Ice Mobilizes Neighborhood

Anyone catch this story on NBC10? Seems that a 3 pound chunk of ice fell off an airliner that had just taken off from Philadelphia International Airport and smashed theough the roof of The Myers Family home in Woodlyn, PA. This article in the Delaware County Daily Times says the ice that opened a huge hole in the Myers Family roof was "...a combination of human waste and liquid disinfectant, (and) is the material that drips from a leakage on an aircraft’s septic system." It used to be called blue ice, but airlines stopped using the blue disinfectant. It's so common, it's made it into references in mainstream TV and films. The FAA confirms the ice came from a plane, but claims that such incidents are rare. I'm not so sure. A simple Google search turns up dozens of similar incidents. The Delco Times searched its archives and came up with 2 other similar incidents in the area immediately south and west of the airport since 1994. This document says that in the UK , there are about 31 "icefalls" a year. I don't know about you, but 31 incidents of heavy things unnecessarily falling off planes and pummelling the earth is too many. According to Wikipedia, PHL is the nation's 9th busiest airport, so I guess one can expect some noise and soot from the overflying planes. But chunks of plummeting pee? It seems like there should be som method to kep this stuff INSIDE the aircraft during flight rather than letting it ramdomly smashing into homes and recreation centers. This guy apparently fixes planes for a living and seems to agree, but notes that there is some thought that atmosepheric onditions may be to blame as well. The most interesting part of the the story is that the hunk of human waste seems to have galvanized the neighborhood to oppose the proposed runway expansion and airspace adjustments planned at Philadelphia International. Several other locales have similar objections. For the record, my house is not on a busy flight path top PHL, but I grew up not far from where the most recent icefall incident happened in Woodlyn. I support the proposed changes to the airspace design in the region and the runway expansions. I know from personal travel experience that the expansions are necessary for PHL to continue to maintain airline competitiveness in the area. We need to bite the bullet and make these changes, to encourage more airlines to schedule flights here. That will help competitiveness and decrease fares. Not to mention lower traveler stress. Yeah it may sound as though that will only hurt folks who travel by air, but that simply isn't true. More congested airspace and flight delays will result in substantial loss of commercial activity at the airport and in the region. We can't afford to lose any more jobs around here. We need the longer runway and new flight paths. We also need planes that don't drop frozen pee on houses.
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