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Disperse rain for Olympic closing
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The Xiayan aircraft overcame considerable difficulties to guarantee a clear sky above the Bird's Nest on Aug 24 for the Olympic Closing Ceremony,Chengdu Business Daily reported on Sep 17.

This May, Xiayan flew from Guangshan Flying College to Beijing to ensure clear weather during the Olympics. The aircraft, valued at US$12 million, had two main tasks: physical logging to anticipate upcoming weather systems, and waiting for orders to remove clouds above the Bird's Nest.

Huang Xinjian, Vice General Manager of Samsung General Airline Company, heads up the crew of six. They entered a cloistered life style as soon as they arrived in Beijing.

Two hours before the Closing Ceremony, all crew members scrambled for action and completed pre-flight checks. Captain Wang Leibin and Copilot Huang Xinjian, accompanied by two meteorologists, flew straight into the sky at 18:25 on August 24.

The plane has an air speed of 296km/h. With visibility near zero, they changed to automatic control and controlled their course, speed and distance with their instruments without batting an eyelid. At an altitude of 6000 meters, the cloud layer blocked up with the thermometer reading 10 below zero. “Boosting anti-icing, deice!” Wang Leibin decided. If the propeller iced up, there would be hell to pay.

The headwind was intense – even under night-flight mode the plane was shaking. “We must make sure that the meteorologists are comfortable…” Wang Leibin maintained stability by taking control of the plane. Analysis indicated a likelihood of thunder and lightning that can pose a serious risk to the plane. In the presence of storm conditions the pilots need to use radar to stay in the clear. But on this occasion the task required that Xiayan probe into the heart of the thick clouds.

As the aircraft's physical detection systems were already switched on, cloud thickness and humidity and other relevant weather conditions were transmitted to the ground experts. Data came back indicating convective clouds advancing to the northeast and about to hit Beijing city.

The aircraft traveled back and forth in the clouds; the silver iodide dispersal was successful. At about 7 pm, stars were to be seen in the sky over Bird's Nest. The crew returned to land with a sigh of relief – only 30 minutes left to the start of the Ceremony.

Xiayan aircraft is the most advanced of meteorological aircraft, originally a US produced training plane refitted with weather modification and atmospheric sounding equipment. The data-transmission system can furnish real-time out and return transmission including latest data from radar and satellite. Its maximum effective load (including fuel) is 1872 kilograms, maximum velocity is 450 km/h, flight duration is 7 hours, and maximum range is 1482 km.

(China.org.cn by Jessica Zhang, September 18, 2008)

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