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Sunday night fog diverted Medford flights, resulting in delays today

 Posted: 10:20 AM December 16, 2013

Seven Sunday evening flights destined for the Medford airport were diverted, creating scheduling chaos this morning.

Airport Director Bern Case said the CASPER unmanned balloon system for dispersing dry ice pellets was able to break up fog today, allowing planes to come and go.

"We've had one Horizon flight come in and go out, but we're going to be playing catch-up for the rest of the day," Case said.

The problem for passengers is that there were no planes on the Medford tarmac this morning, meaning all commercial airlines were waiting for inbound flights from other West Coast airports.

"The one that came in taxied back out and took off, probably for Portland but it could've been Seattle," Case said. "It's been a little chaotic."

Case said passengers should stay in close contact with airlines.

"Don't assume they will be early or late," he said.

Visibility was well above the minimums this morning, Case said. But most of the 17 scheduled departures are up in the air, because of Sunday's events.

"It's a double-whammy when planes can't get in," Case said. "Because you can't get out if you don't get in."

Thanks to the Cable Attached System Providing Effective Release — a helium balloon hoisting a 75-pound dispersal cylinder high enough to release fog-busting pellets — the airport was able to navigate through most of the wintry challenges posed last week.

"We had some delays and one diversion for an hour before it got back in the air and then here," Case said this morning. "As fog goes, last week went pretty well. Last night, not so well."

"We got one flight in and the fog was so thick they gave up and had to be diverted," Case said.

He wasn't sure where the plane set down.

"Each airline has different agreements."

— Greg Stiles


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