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Can Airplanes Take Off and Land in Snow and Ice? (What Airports Do When It Snows ) [De-icing & Plowing]

Bad weather can hamper many travel plans – especially if that weather involves ice or snow. And given the dangers involved with flying in wintry conditions, it would be smart to check up on how well airplanes can operate in snowy and icy weather.

So, can airplanes take off and land in snow and ice? Yes, airplanes can take off and land in snow and ice – if the right precautions are taken. Plowing the runway, and de-icing both the runway and the plane can make it safe for airplanes to operate in wintry conditions. However, sometimes conditions are too dangerous for any flying to take place. 

In this article, we will take a look at the steps that must be taken for airplanes to take off and land in snow and ice safely. We will also cover the relative safety of flying in snowy weather, and hopefully, we’ll put your mind at ease about flying during the winter.

Is it safe to take off and land in snow and ice?

Some of the busiest airports in the world, like the ones in the United States and Europe, see a lot of snow and ice during the winter season. And coincidentally, the holiday season for both these regions also falls in winter. So reducing air traffic is not an option for airports and airlines during this time. Life has to go on, and in fact, at a higher volume than usual.

To enable air travel in harsh winter conditions, airport officials and airlines have developed certain procedures to make it safe to take off and land during snow and ice.

Unless conditions are extreme, airport officials usually allow for takeoff and landing in snow and ice. However, they do take numerous precautions before approving aircraft for takeoff or landing. As mentioned above, these precautions include plowing and de-icing runways, as well as de-icing planes.

Plowing snow & de-icing runways

As we’ve already mentioned above, it is technically possible to land on an icy or snowy runway. Since airplanes are extremely heavy, it is unlikely they will skid like a car or truck would on icy roads. Also, they can easily pass through snow or slush.

However, these do conditions do greatly diminish the airplane’s ability to apply its brakes. This is why airport officials try to keep the runway clear of snow and ice.

Snow is easy to deal with: it can simply be plowed or shoveled out. Then to remove the remaining slush or the ice that can form on the surface of the runway, airport officials use sand or a chemical that breaks the bonds of ice and snow (like potassium acetate).

Most airport officials don’t allow take-off or landing on snowy/icy runways. If the pavement isn’t completely clear, they will almost always delay outbound flights and ask inbound planes to maintain a holding pattern until the runway can be cleared. And sometimes, if the conditions are too harsh for easy clearing, planes may divert to an alternate runway or airport.

However, in some rare instances, planes are allowed to land on sub-par runway conditions. This will only occur if the plane is experiencing a mechanical malfunction or a lack of fuel. It’s still not unheard of, though.

It’s important to note that merely removing the snow and de-icing the runway isn’t enough for a plane to take off or land. While it is technically possible for a plane to use a snowy/icy runway, there is one other factor that prevents them from taking off in these conditions: ice on the plane itself.

De-icing aircrafts

Airplanes are huge metal tubes, and therefore accumulate a lot of ice on their surface. If not removed, this ice can prove to be more dangerous than landing on a snowy runway.

Aircraft designs are so meticulous and precise that even a small layer of snow or ice on their surface can hamper their performance. This is why airport officials and airlines have to perform a de-icing of an aircraft before allowing it to take off again. If you’ve flown during the wintertime, you most likely have experienced a de-icing delay.

Why is de-icing airplanes important?

To understand why de-icing the aircraft is so important, you must understand how it is that airplanes take flight.

There’s a physical force known as lift that arises when any solid object (like an airplane) deflects the flow of a fluid (like air). The resulting force counters the gravitational pull experienced by the plane, helping it take flight and stay in the air. The propeller or the engine of the airplane helps it move forward.

The aerodynamic design of the aircraft is the most crucial element in helping it stay in the air. Of course, a little bit of ice is bound to accumulate during a long flight. But if proper precautions are not taken, and ice is carelessly allowed to accumulate on the surface of an airplane, it could seriously alter the streamlined flow of air over the aircraft body.

An accumulation of ice on an aircraft can result in some serious turbulence or aerodynamic failure that results in a crash. The tragic crash of USAir Flight 405 is one example of ice causing a fatal accident.

Safety of Flying in snow

There is one more scenario that we would like to discuss in this article: the safety of flying in the snow. What if a plane decides to take off while it’s snowing? Or if it simply starts snowing while the plane is in flight?

First of all, it seldom snows at the altitudes at which your typical commercial airline flies. Most commercial planes fly at between 31,000 and 38,000 feet. And while clouds can form at any altitude up to 60,000 feet, the types of clouds that create snow (frontal cirrostratus, altostratus and nimbostratus clouds) typically form at below the 10,000-foot mark.

Also, the temperature at which an airplane cruises is usually around -70ºF (or -56ºC). This temperature is safe for an airplane to fly in. So unless the visibility is seriously impaired due to bad weather, flying in typical winter conditions is usually pretty normal.

If you want to feel even safer, know that modern airplane pilots are well trained on how to navigate and land an aircraft during extreme conditions. So you can rest assured and trust your pilot to land you safely even if the weather takes a turn for the worse.


It is technically possible for airplanes to take off or land in snow and ice. And in emergency situations where there isn’t enough time for the runways to be cleared, they may actually need to do so. The one major problem with landing in snow or ice is that the braking mechanism of the plane becomes inhibited.

However, despite it being possible to land and take off in snow or ice, airport officials take the proper precautions by clearing the runway beforehand. They may use sand or chemicals like potassium acetate.

But just clearing the runway isn’t enough. One of the most crucial steps in taking off during snow and ice is the de-icing of the airplane itself. Airplanes accumulate ice particles and snow on their surfaces while flying/grounding in cold and icy conditions. The de-icing removes the accumulated ice and helps the plane regain its aerodynamic streamline design, which is necessary for taking and maintaining flight.

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Travel Inspired Date Ideas For An Amazing Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, it’s the perfect time to start planning that special date to celebrate your love. From taking the benefit of the local art scenes to escaping the city and planning a trail on nearby mountains, there are numerous ways travel-loving couples can actually celebrate their love on Valentine’s Day.

Plan a Glamping Experience

Glamping is basically a form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than camping. This Valentine’s Day, head to spend the night in a cozy tree house or go book a cabin in the woods. Trust us; you will remember it for life.

Go on a Surprise Getaway

For the most romantic date idea, what could be better than travelling together? Pre-book everything without letting your special one know about it. Book the flights of any romantic city, make some hotel reservations and do some research on what to do, see and eat. After all, it is a celebration of your love.

Wine & Dine Together

If you are fretting over your Valentine’s Day date ideas, the best possible way out is to plan a Wine & Dine together. Be it whatever the cuisine (preferably his/her choice), enjoying that will surely make your Valentine’s Day special.

Sailing Adventure

Valentine’s Day is intended to be full of romance and to put together a perfect gift for it is indeed a tough task. Flowers and candy may be dreamy, but they’ve also been done before. So, this time set sail for an exciting sailing adventure with your partner. To witness some of the amazing sunrises and sunsets of your life to journeying through the world, it is among the best travel-inspired date ideas for Valentine’s Day.

Booking an Exclusive Stay

Make a grand gesture this Valentine’s Day by making reservations for a truly special stay. Whether it is an overwater bungalow, a private villa or a luxurious suite, this amazing thought will most likely to wow your date like never before. You can also get the customization done just you like you want.

Take them for a Spa Day

When you are tired of the usual chocolates and flowers, how about going for couple spa day on this Valentine’s? Everyone loves to be pampered and this is one of the safest bet to think for a Valentine’s Day date.

A Perfect Road Trip

There is something more than a beach or the mountains to make lasting memories. And that’s just travelling together. This Valentine’s Day, try something exciting and new. A road trip with the love of your life is perfect and one of the most romantic escapes. Rent a car (if you don’t have), play some cheesy Valentine’s Day songs and get ready to hit the road.

Give them a Travel Present

Nobody knows your special ones more than you. So, depending on what they love you can think of a perfect travel present on Valentine’s Day. These could be any adventure activity, cycling, fishing, meditation & yoga retreat or a movie night.

Go Trekking Together

Away from the hustle and bustle of mundane life, the best date idea for Valentine’s Day is to go on a trek with your loved one. Forget the world and bestow your love to make memories forever. Go to some place where you two connect, around nature and whispering wind, and create some unforgettable romantic memories together.

Book Tickets for a Musical Festival

Attending a music festival with your partner is an excellent idea. When you guys love both music and party, then the festival will surely bring your partner and your relationship more closer.

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12 mobile photography tips… how to take better pictures with your smartphone

Want to improve the pictures you take with your smartphone? These essential mobile photography tips will help

Smartphones are more popular than ever, and many people are switching to them to take their holiday snaps and fill their family photo albums. The best camera phones are small, convenient and always with us – but some moan their image quality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

We say the power is in the hands of the photographer. In the right hands, beautiful images can be captured with whatever smart device you have in your pocket. All it takes to improve your phone shots is to learn a few tips and tricks to get better with your smartphone photography. So here are ten mobile photography tips to get yourself smarter results.

1. Get the right exposure

Usually, all it takes to expose your photo correctly is a click of the shutter button. But occasionally, you’ll find that what you’re photographing (ie your subject) is either too dark or too bright. This is particularly a problem if some parts of your image are much brighter (or darker) than others

To adjust for this on the majority of smartphones, simply tap on the area of your screen where the subject lies, and your camera will automatically adjust the exposure to balance it out. Be aware of bright surrounding areas which will be so bright that their details will be lost; sometimes this effect enhances an image, but you may want to recompose to remove anything too distracting.

2. Get close – but not too close

Most smartphones can focus close to the subject, but all lenses have a minimum focusing distance – that is, a point in front of the lens at which it doesn’t focus any closer.

If you’re very close and your subject is still blurry, back away until it becomes sharp. It won’t take much, perhaps a couple of centimetres or so. This way you’ll have a sharp image of your subject and be able to crop in on it later to increase its apparent size.

3. Use the grid

On most smartphone cameras there’s a built-in grid that shows the screen sliced into three sections, and this stems from probably the most well-known rule in photography: the rule of thirds.

Here, the idea is that if you place your subject along one of these lines, or at one of the intersections, you’ll end up with a stronger composition. With landscapes, for instance, try to place the horizon so that is either a third of the way down from the top of the picture, or a third of the way up from the bottom. And if you are taking a picture of a person standing in a picturesque spot, don’t have them standing right in the middle of the frame – have them slightly to the side.

4. Use window light

The flash on your smartphone is harsh and unflattering. Typically situated right next to the lens, the light comes head-on in relation to your subject and provides you with no dimensionality.

The cheapest and quickest way to get beautiful images is to use the light from your window. If you can, avoid direct sunlight spilling through and opt for the shaded window. Soft, diffuse and wrapping light will complement your subject much better than anything harsh and direct. The simplest way to get great portraits indoors, therefore is to ask your subject to step into a better lit part of the room.

5. Get down level

Most of us are used to whipping out the phone, taking a snap and walking off. Yet, when it comes to photographing children or pets, this is rarely the best approach.

By looking down on the child or pet we’re repeating the same angle in which most of us see these subjects all the time. Crouching down to be at the same level as them, however, gives a viewpoint similar to that of your subject.

Get your lens level with your cat, for example, and you’re instantly transported to their world, with towering doors, high-up picture frame, or enormous trees. Getting down on your knees, or even lying down on the ground, will often give you a more dynamic looking pictures.

6. Block out lens flare

There’s no telling when a good photo opportunity might present itself, and with the smartphone being the camera you’re almost guaranteed to always have on you, it’s likely you’ll snap a picture in less than favorable lighting conditions.

For example, a setting sun might provide you with a lot of lens flare. The solution? Simply block this light with your hand placed alongside the lens – just be careful not to get your fingers in the shot. Similarly, street lights after dark will play havoc with your city scenes, unless you recompose the image to minimize the problem,.

A little recomposing might be necessary to allow your hand to block the light without getting in the frame, but this is a sure-fire way to eliminate flare and glare at a moment’s notice.

7. Put your selfie technique to better use

Don’t just rely on that front-facing lens to make your new profile picture – it’s extremely handy for shooting a variety of hard-to-reach places too.

Trying to capture an image of a ceiling or something else from ground level, for example, can be awkward when using the standard rear-facing camera, as it can often require you to crouch down to an uncomfortable position. With the front-facing camera, however, you can view such a composition clearly and make whatever adjustments are necessary, with all controls easily accessible.

8. Shoot through windows

It’s probably not a good idea to start snapping images through the neighbor’s windows, but shooting through your own can reveal an otherwise-hidden opportunity for some fantastic photos.

Use reflections from outside to frame a portrait or provide a mirror-like reflection for a distorted view on the world. If you happen to come across some stained glass, or windows that are bevelled, even better. Use this distortion to your advantage – just try to keep it minimal around your subject so that it’s still clear what you’re photographing.

9. Give it a wipe

Smartphone manufacturers design their products to be scratch-resistant and fairly hardy over their lifetime, and this is especially true of the camera lens. One small scratch will ruin any and all photos, so it’s no wonder that this is particularly hard wearing.

However, although scratch-resistant, you will need to occasionally clean these. A quick blast of hot breath and a wipe with the shirt usually does the trick, but glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth will do a better job of cleaning the dirt off of the lens. Oh, and don’t forget to do both front- and rear-facing lenses.

10. Search for emptiness

With wide-angle lenses it’s easy to capture everything in the scene, which is precisely why you should seek out areas with large negative space – that is, simple, frame-filling backgrounds. For example: by making a big expanse of blue sky the priority, you’re making your subject more apparent when framed at the bottom of the image.

11. Keep it steady

Unwanted blurred pictures can be a particular problem when shooting in lowlight conditions. But you need to watch your shooting technique in any situation. Don’t take a picture while the phone is moving – hold it steady, and gently press the trigger button. That way you will ensure you are not to blame for any camera shake.

Moving subjects (such as shots of friends and family) can bring their own blur problems… And one of the best tricks here is simply to take multiple pictures. One will almost certainly be sharper and less blurred than others. You can weed out the duff ones before you show everyone your winning shot.

And in some situations, such as for cityscapes after dark, the best pictures will almost always be taken by using a smartphone tripod. And if you haven’t got one of these, rest the phone on a surface (or wedge yourself against a wall) to keep the phone as steady as possible.

12. Explore the angles

Older or more basic mobile phones will just have the one rear lens for you to play with. But the best camera phones available today will usually also give you a wide-angle and a telephoto lens for you to switch over to. This choice of focal length gives you a chance to shoot a wider range of subjects well, and to add variety to your photo album.

However, there is no pressing need to upgrade your handset. There are plenty of add-on lenses for smartphones that will allow you to zoom in that bit closer, or to fit more of the building into the frame. These are a great investment for those wanting to get more creative with their picture taking.

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Top 13 Hottest Sports Destinations

2022 is a great year for spectator sports with plenty of major football, rugby, tennis and golf tournaments taking place. This year also offers a great opportunity to actually get out there and try the numerous sports on offer across the world.

Barcelona in Spain

Barcelona places itself firmly on the sports stage after hosting the 1992 Olympic Games. And in fact, the Spanish city has since seen a double footfall of travellers, which is largely attributed to the games. Simply a fantastic destination for individuals who love outdoor charms of Mother Nature while engaging in several physical activities, Barcelona offers a combination of year-round clement weather and natural geography. It is considered as a center of sports activities as it holds various game competitions such as wake-boarding, biking, in-lining, snowboarding, and skiing.

Sydney in Australia

Sydney is one of the world’s great places to spend sports holidays with a rich sporting legacy left after the successful Olympic Games which were held here in the year 2000. Sydney offers a wide variety of water sports and outdoor activities (as you’d expect) such as skiing, snorkelling, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking, surfing, water rafting, hiking and horse riding. Certain areas along its coast also offer power sports such as water skiing and jet skiing. It also allows its visitors to simply go sailing. The Apia International Sydney tournament, a joint WTA Tour and ATP World Tour tennis tournament, is also held here each year in January at the Sydney’s NSW Tennis Center.

Vancouver in Canada

Vancouver is the west coast’s haven for numerous recreational sport activities. And since hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the variety of quality of sports and amenities on offer has slid up an extra notch. Travellers can enjoy numerous outdoor activities such as snowshoeing or skiing during winter and kayaking or hiking during warmer months. You can also join the enthusiastic locals at the beaches, on the trails on Vancouver Island, or watching a hockey game. From the BC Lions to Vancouver Canucks, there is surely a sport for everyone.

Rio de Janeiro in Brazil

Considered an outdoor paradise, Brazil offers all types of outdoor and sports activities imaginable, from hand-gliding to horse riding; from canoeing to mountain biking; to sailing; to mountain climbing; to walking; to scuba diving; and to kite surfing. Establishing itself as the hottest sports destination in the world, the most popular sports with Brazil’s tourists include sailing, kite surfing, and wind surfing. Depending on the wind, Brazil’s weather and waves provide its visitors a great infrastructure to practice various aquatic sports.

New Zealand

From zorbing to bungee jumping, to the more conventional activities of tramping and skiing across spectacular landscapes, New Zealand offers its outdoor tourists a whole host of sports choices. A sports mad country, New Zealand started the commercial bungee jumping that has spread to many parts of the world. For the entire year, it caters many other sports such as motorsport, equestrian, horse racing, rowing, cycling, diving, swimming, tennis, golf, and touch rugby. The ISF World Softball Championships, a premier international softball event, will take place in Auckland, New Zealand on March 2013. New Zeeland is also home to the ‘9 Great Walks’ including the Abel Tasman Coast, Heaphy Track and Kepler Track.


Morocco has been keeping up with travellers increasing interest in sporting holidays. It offers magnificent trekking opportunities, impressive tennis and golf facilities, ski resorts, adventurous off-piste skiing, and excellent fishing areas. The country’s national sport obsession is football. Tourists can join some of the beach kick-about games or just enjoy watching local cup matches or league. Try a biking adventure in the High Atlas Mountains. Also, the country offers excellent water sports like diving, kayaking, river rafting, swimming, surfing, windsurfing, yachting, and sailing. In December 11-21, 2013, it will host the FIFA Club World Cup, the 10th edition of the FIFA-organized football tournament.


Malaysia is one of the major locations for many sports spectators and enthusiasts. It has been a host for numerous international sports events such as Formula 1, golf, power boat racing, cycling, and motorcycling. Travellers can climb and hike up to the Mt. Kinabalu summit and can walk and trek the jungle in Sabah. It also holds other popular sports including football, squash, badminton, and hockey. The country is not only abundant in sports facilities, but also a popular location for water sports, sailing, and diving.

South Korea

Just voted Asia’s Leading Sports Tourism Destination, South Korea offers a hot climate, an extensive coastline, and numerous national parks, South Korea offers numerous recreational and sporting activities. It offers traditional martial arts like judo and Taekwondo; global sports like baseball and football; several world-class and affordable golf courses and golf club memberships; popular water sports such as diving, sailing, and boating; and spectacular walking and hiking trails.


Qatar considers sports as one of the nation’s most important social activities. There exists a wide range of options for those who are interested in either as spectators or partakers of the sports activities. Its most popular spectators’ sports are cricket and football. The country’s extensive coastline along with the hot climate make various water sports, sailing, boating, and diving popular choices for many visitors who wish to take part in such sporting activities. The 21st edition of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, a part of the ATP World Tour 250-Series, has just been played in Doha’s Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex. And of course Qatar is preparing to host the 2022 World Cup.


Just voted the Caribbean’s Leading Sports Tourism Destination, Jamaica is a leader in sporting activities; Jamaica offers unique opportunities to whet its visitors’ appetite for excitement. It offers a wide range of sporting activities including diving, snorkelling, dog sledding, fishing, sailing, golf, horse riding, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, tennis, river boating and rafting, zip lining, and tennis.

London in UK

Fresh from hosting the hugely successful 2012 Olympic Games, London offers a great deal to sports enthusiasts. There’s just about every sport you can imagine; archery, watersports, wrestling, bowling, martial arts, horse racing, snooker, cycling and greyhound racing. The Olympic legacy is thriving and very noticeable. The mainstream sports of football, cricket, rugby, golf are omnipresent.

Sochi in Russia

One of the hottest sports destinations right now, the city of Sochi will showcase its sporting prowess to the world in early 2014 as it hosts the Olympic Winter Games and also the Paralympic Winter Games. Running from 7 to 23 February 2004, expect 15 different sports including snowboarding, luge, ice hockey, bobsleigh, alpine skiing and biathlon.

Silk Route, Central Asia

The Great Silk Road is made of the Central Asian countries Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. And the best way to explore these countries is just as the nomads and travellers would have done in centuries gone by; on horseback and on foot. The four thousand mile Silk Road beckons with each country retaining its own unique culture and history.

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