Two Storms, Two Airports... And A Lot Of Broken
The tornado "just came through in an instant," Lima County
Regional Airport (KAOH)manager Cindy Pyles told the local paper.
But what a destructive instant it was.
An initial count had 18 aircraft destroyed by the Thursday
twister at the airport, one of two hit by devastating storms that
cut a swath of damage through Ohio last week. Aircraft ranging from
the Sheriff's Office helicopter to trainers and even jets were
destroyed, while other machines were damaged -- and only two to
four survived in airworthy condition.
Despite material damage that runs into the millions, no human
injuries were reported at the airport.
Before the storm, Pyles's most serious problem was a contentious
drainage-ditch plan. "It makes me sick," she told the Lima News as
she looked on as awed workers collected pieces of abstract metal
that were once parts of aircraft or buildings. "I think we've
salvaged two planes out of this mess."
Another storm -- this one hitting Wednesday night -- also
wrecked havoc at Wood County Airport (1GO) near Bowling Green,
about 45 miles northeast of KAOH. Airport worker Sara Teasdale
discovered the damage when she drove out to check how the airport
fared Wednesday night.
"I went out and checked by the hangars and I was like, 'Oh my
God,'?" said Ms. Teasdale.
Airport manager Mike Hodges told the Toledo Blade the storm
destroyed the southernmost of three 55-by-220-foot aircraft storage
hangars, and badly damaged a second one. As you can see from the
photos, the planes inside suffered.
"It basically lifted the building up and took it off its posts
and transplanted it," Hodges said. "Of the 18 planes [damaged],
there were probably at least a dozen that were close to totally
Eyewitness Elenore Austin, who lives next to Lima Regional's
access road, noted the sudden and unexpected nature of the
"Oh man, it was just black. Boy, was I scared."
Two of AOH's four hangars were shredded by the twister's violent
winds. Firefighters from several departments --including Perry
Township, Lima and Westminster -- responded to the airport. When
they saw standing pools of avgas from breached fuel tanks, they
escorted everyone out -- at least until they rendered the fuel
safe. County officials declared a state of emergency.
In addition to the tornados, extreme weather lashed other parts
of Ohio as well, creating problems ranging from power outages to
flooding. A fireman in Wellington in the northern part of the state
drowned trying to rescue two teenagers trapped by a flooded
Tornados are the most powerful windstorm known, with winds of
over 100 and even over 200 miles per hour. Short of keeping the
aircraft in a military-type Hardened Aircraft Shelter, there are
not many things that aircraft owners and operators can do to defend
against property damage caused by these storms.
(Aero-News thanks reader Brad Gilmer for his photos of the
devastation at Wood County Airport, and sends our thoughts out to
those who were hit by the storms.)