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Photographer's Note

A frequently repeated aphorism about the month of March claims, "In like a lion, out like a lamb!" This certainly was not the case a few days ago when I was flying out of Providence, Rhode Island. Winter, it seems enjoyed a last hurrah shrouding New England with varying depths of snow. It was only 15 cm (6 inches) in Providence, not enough to cancel flights, but inconvenient enough to have to deice. While waiting to board a Southwest Airline flight, I saw the deicing crew spraying the plane with deicing fluid, and happily I had my camera handy.

The fluid sprayed is usually a Propylene or ethylene glycol that expedites the melting of the snow and ice... especially on the wings. In order for airplanes to get "lift," the wings must have the proper cross-sectional profile — a curved surface on top of the wing, and a flat surface on the bottom. This way air rushing over the top of the wing has to travel faster — in order to cover a greater distance in the same time — than the air passing across the bottom surface. Bernoulli's Principle in physics explains that the difference in the velocities of the air on top and bottom will create greater upward force on the bottom of the wing than downward force on the top. Thirty years ago a commercial airplane just taking off from National Airport in Washington, DC, fell into the Potomac River with a number of lives lost, precisely because of ice buildup on the wing that changed the cross-sectional profile of the wing. The expression "deicing" (or "de-icing")has been part of the American vocabulary since Air Florida Flight 90 fell into the Potomac 30 years ago.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5933 W: 454 N: 10199] (34109)
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