It has been an early winter here in much of the United States. Winter Storm Cato dumped a mix of snow and rain on the Eastern Seaboard, leaving 400,000 customers without electricity on Thanksgiving morning and delaying traveling for millions of motorists and air travelers. Yet, for all the inconvenience of this early snowstorm, it is unlikely any Americans had to do what some Russian air passengers had to do to complete their journey 100 miles north of the Arctic circle.
70 passengers aboard a chartered UTAir Tupolev Tu-134 in Igarka, Russia were delayed 24 hours on their journey to Krasnoyarsk because the tires were frozen to the ground. The passengers disembarked from the aircraft to lighten the weight for the airport tractor to push the Tu-134 to the runway. The temperatures had dropped to minus 51-degrees Celsius in the northern Arctic location. The oil and gas workers used brute strength to free the jet from the ice. The passengers pushed on the wings to move the plane backwards about 5 meters so the tractor could position it for takeoff.
The brakes had frozen because the wrong type of grease was applied to the landing gear that is unsuitable for extremely cold temperatures. The aircraft was able to safely take off and land at its destination.
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Image credit: LiveLeak screenshot