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A thankless job: City crews preparing for heavy snow at Billings airport

McCarthy Snow Plow
Airport Snow
Posted at 5:15 PM, Feb 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-20 19:15:24-05

With a hectic week of weather on the forecast, the city of Billings is working hard to keep the airport's runways clean to avoid travel delays.

While the snowfall might make travelers uncomfortable, it's business as usual for Mick McCarthy. He has been plowing the runways at Billings Logan airport for 29 years, helping make sure that travelers arrive at their destinations safely.

“I mean, a lot of times, it’s vacation," McCarthy said on Monday. "We all like to go on vacation and don’t want to get that messed up. So, we try to keep the airfield usable."

It's a thankless job, and one that often means early mornings for McCarthy, who said his 12-hour shift typically begins around 3 a.m. Still, it's a responsibility that he takes pride in.

“I’m pretty proud of what we do around here," McCarthy said. "If we’re not the focus of everything, that means we’re doing our job. A lot of what we do up here goes unnoticed."

And while their service may fly under the radar, that doesn't mean the snow removal isn't appreciated. Danielle Cooper was one of the many travelers leaving Billings Monday. For her and her daughter, it was crucial that their flight departed on time.

“We rely on going to Denver weekly for awhile here for my daughter’s medical appointments," Cooper said. "We were a little worried we weren’t going to be flying out in the morning due to the snow. So we’re thankful it’s still on time."

Airport Snow

And Cooper wasn't the only traveler concerned about potential delays. Steve Kornetsky and Randy Sue Polluck were visiting their daughter in Sheridan, Wyoming, but needed to get back to California for work.

“We were very worried that we wouldn’t get out today," Kornetsky said. "It’s very important that they’re out there so that our plane can come in and get back out."

For them, seeing a sign with the words "On Time," was a big deal.

"It's a huge relief," Polluck said. "Otherwise, we're cutting it too close for the next flight."

With the bulk of the storm still to come, many planning to travel later this week are still anxious. But McCarthy said that he and his staff will do all they can to keep these flight departures on time.

“We got a lot of new guys on the crew here, a lot of people just learning what’s going on," McCarthy said. "But they all step up and follow our veteran guys and get the job done for the airport to stay open."