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CASPER is a Go for Launch at Rogue Valley Int'l-Medford Airport

The Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport received approval in early summer from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), to launch its new fog seeding mechanism.  The “cable attached system providing effective release” system – CASPER – for short, was tested throughout the 2010, fall months.
After making it through the Safety Management System protocols with the FAA, which includes criteria from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport received their Certificate of Waiver this summer.  In coordination with the local Air Traffic Control Tower contracted by SERCO, and Cascade Approach control, CASPER will be ready for launch this winter, if or when, the weather presents the required conditions in which it can be utilized.

CASPER was fabricated in the airport operation’s shop and field tested last summer.  Initial testing focused primarily on whether the concept would work.  Based on the same principles as a fertilizer spreader, the mechanism disperses dry ice particles while attached to a helium filled balloon, which is tethered to a moving vehicle. The spreader works via remote control and is winched up to approximately 500 feet where it disperses the dry ice particles over the fog.  “We know from past experience that the device works in terms of dispersing the ice particles from an aircraft, the question now is, will it work from a balloon,” states Bern Case, Airport Director.

The past practice for fog seeding utilized an aircraft that would take-off with a load of dry ice.  The aircraft would then fly over the fog layer with an individual grinding dry ice out of a portal as the aircraft flew back and forth over the fog layer.  The ice particles would then come in contact with the moisture contained in the fog causing it to freeze and dissipate.  This effect is what would cause the snow like conditions over the airport.  Temperatures have to be below freezing for fog seeding to be effective.

“We believe that the device could be as effective as an aircraft, have a quicker turn-around time, and be safer,” adds Mr. Case, “however, we won’t know for sure until we have the weather conditions necessary to warrant testing CASPER in a real world setting.  At this point, we’re thrilled to have the go ahead to see how well our efforts will pay off.”

The airport along with the other agencies involved has developed a safety plan which will be followed when CASPER is deployed.
For further information please contact Bern Case, Airport Director, or Kim Stearns, Public Information Officer, at (541) 776-7222.


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