Army helicopters to conduct icing tests in U.P.

KI SAWYER — Starting next month, residents and others living or traveling in Marquette County may see a number of unusual aircraft flying around.

Officials with the U.S. Army Redstone Test Center in Huntsville, Alabama will be conducting icing tests for several months. One of the aircraft is a Chinook Helicopter equipped with the Helicopter Icing Spray System, known as ‘HISS.’

The other is a Beech King Air Helicopter. The Army will be testing how certain aircraft fly in icy conditions.

Steve Schenden, the director of operations at Sawyer International Airport, says the weather conditions in the Marquette Area make it perfect for the Army to conduct their tests.

“The cold weather is the main thing,” said Schenden. “Sometimes if they can find natural icing conditions that’s preferable, but if not they have the helicopter with the tank that can spray water. Some people may notice a little bit of color to the water a little bit of green food coloring there. Then there’s a chase plane that goes along with them. He films it from the side so when they get back they have film of it.”

The testing will begin in mid–February and is expected to last through early May. This is the third year in a row the Redstone Test Center is conducting ice testing missions in the U.P.