The drop in temperatures this week was a reminder that winter is coming. 

And staff members at the Columbus Regional Airport Authority are taking extra steps to make sure the runways at John Glenn Columbus International Airport and Rickenbacker International Airport are clear when snow and ice arrive. 

The team held a Snow Rodeo event Oct. 18 at John Glenn to test the group's skills in navigating a maze of cones. 

The goal?

To get through the course without knocking down cones. 

"These guys are demonstrating their skills," said Brad Ontrop, Columbus Regional Airport Authority airfield-maintenance manager. "They are trying to have fun today before the old dreaded snow comes."

According to a fact sheet from the airport, the staff uses 60 pieces of heavy-duty equipment, from snowplows, large snow brooms, snow-blower trucks, deicer trucks, loaders and dump trucks to larger multitasking equipment. 

"We want to make sure these guys know exactly what they are doing," Ontrop said. "What levers to pull, where to go, what to do and not to do and where to put the snow. The more that it's ingrained in them and the more practice they have, the better off they will be when the snow is actually flying."

Washington Court House resident Greg Leach was the individual winner of the Snow Rodeo. 

During snowfalls, each airport features teams who work 12-hour shifts throughout the day. Ontrop said each team gets about 40 hours of training.

Adam Garsky, a 27-year staff member at the airport who lives in Pickerington, drives multitasking equipment, which resembles a small semitruck that can plow and blow snow off runways at the same time.

The airport has six such vehicles. 

"When a storm hits and we have a priority snow-removal event, we take these out and we can clear off a runway with one pass-through (which takes 18 minutes)," Garsky said. "This helps keep operations moving smoothly through the airport and make sure everything stays on time."

"It's a really quick and high-functioning piece of equipment," Ontrop said. 

cpugh@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekChris