1949: New fog-dispelling system demonstrated for the first time at Los Angeles Airport | Aviation Week, April 11, 1949


LOS ANGELES - Oil flames from 392 triple burners encircled a runway and approach zone at Los Angeles Municipal Airport, as the first public demonstration of the new thermal fog dispersal system, commercial development of wartime FIDO, was set off by electric switch.

The $842,000 heater system warms the air over the runway three degrees, thus increasing its ability to absorb the water vapor which is fog. The result is to produce ceiling heights despite fog of 400 ft. to 300 ft. in the approach zone; 250 ft. in the touchdown zone on the runway, and ranging down from 200 to 75 ft. on the rest of the runway.

Five major airlines using the airport, American, TWA, United, Western, and Pan American, have underwritten the $386,541 advanced by the Los Angeles Department of Airports to go with a federal airport grant of $455,459. The airlines have agreed to pay the city's share in five years and pay operation and maintenance costs of the system.

It will not be put into regular operation for several weeks until CAA and Weather Bureau personnel are trained to operate it.

The system burns No. 2 diesel oil, the cheapest available. It can burn off enough fog for a plane landing at cost of $75 to $80, depending on fog density. For a 50-passenger plane this would be a cost of about $1.50 a passenger. Airlines expect it to payoff in savings of cost of transportation of passengers from landings at more remote alternate airports, and in overtime on airline personnel due to fog conditions.

Solid fences to shut off glare of the flames from motorists have been erected at selected intervals along the lines of the burners.

Burners and under ground fuel system have been developed by Todd Shipyards Corp. Combustion Equipment division. The three-jet burners atomize the oil under 1000 lb./psi. and it is ignited by electric units. Heat is controlled by varying back pressure on fuel oil return lines which increases or decreases discharge capacity of the nozzles. Control makes possible flames from three to 15 ft. in height.

The line of burners extends 6000 ft. along both sides of the main east-west runway including a 2000 ft. approach zone at the east end.

High intensity runway lights (100,000 candlepower) with five stages of brilliancy, and a slope line lighting system, together with radar and ILS, are expected by Los Angeles officials to make the airport the "best equipped all-weather airport in the world."

Participating in the first public demonstration were Harold Jones, CAB member and former Los Angeles attorney; Clarence Young Los Angeles airports department manager and former CAB member; Joe Marriett, sixth region CAA administrator, Mayor Fletcher Bowron of Los Angeles; Robert L. Smith, airport commission president, and other officials.