As a former maintenance foreman “retired” at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, I can attest to the origins of the mysterious noises coming from the airport! The eerie, hellish sound is from graders blading hard-packed snow and ice. They usually work in groups of two or three, and the interactive sounds between them are interesting to say the least! It’s a sound that reverberates for miles.
Imagine a giant chalkboard with steel blades attached to a large curved piece of iron grader “moldboard.” It creates harmonics that are almost indescribable. I have heard and made the sound many times in my 34-year career at the airport; it is also an absolute necessity for keeping the aircraft operating areas clear of ice and hard packed snow. While it is acceptable to have some snow and ice on roads, it is not for aircraft operating areas. They must be kept snow- and ice-free all winter. While not easy to listen to, it is the sound of the airport being kept up to Federal Aviation Administration requirements to keep our amazing airport open and operating at its best!
— Fred Klouda
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