Airport snow-busters gather in Buffalo

Apr 25, 2016

While most people are thinking spring, hundreds of self-proclaimed "snow bosses" at airports across the country are in Buffalo this week with winter on their minds.

The 50th Annual International Aviation Snow Symposium is underway through Wednesday at the Buffalo

International Aviation Snow Symposium in downtown Buffalo
Credit Robert Creenan

Niagara Convention Center. The event allows vendors to showcase new equipment and airport officials to network and discuss the latest snow removal tactics.

More than 800 people are attending an event that has been hosted in Buffalo for the last 31 years. It was initially held at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport before moving to the convention center in downtown Buffalo in the mid 1990s. Carlton Braley serves as chair of the symposium's academic committee.

“Buffalo’s been like a second home to me and they treat us like gold," said Braley, who work at the Manchester Boston Regional Airport in New Hampshire. "Pretty much anything we need or ask for, they

Credit Robert Creenan

roll out the red carpet for us so we feel comfortable here. And Buffalo gets its share of snow, so it makes sense.”

Numerous technological advances are on display at the symposium, including snow-busting chemicals, in-pavement sensors, weather forecasting equipment and brooms that are 26 feet wide and can be driven at 40 miles per hour.

Events include presentations by expert speakers, information sessions and something new this year called the Snow Plow Rodeo.

“Airports have sent their top operators," Braley told WBFO during an interview in the convention center. "We're going to put them through tests, and they’re going to be evaluated based on how accurately they can move this large piece of equipment through an obstacle course, how close they can back up to things, how close they can put the plow. And at the end of this week, we’ll have a king of the rodeo.”

Since this is an international event, there are also representatives from other countries.

“A lot come down from Canada and a few come from Europe, also," Braley said.