Cloud-bombers get clear instructions for big day

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 September, 2009, 12:00am

The first day of October is usually sunny and dry in Beijing. Nevertheless, the air force of the People's Liberation Army has mobilised an unprecedented amount of equipment and personnel to make sure the weather co-operates this October 1.

Cui Lianqing, weather bureau chief of the air force command, said data compiled by the air force over the past four decades showed the probability of low cloud was 36 per cent and the chance of rain less than 20 per cent on the day.

Overcast skies and rain are seen as enemies of the gala to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China because they would mar the visual effects of the planned military fly-past and dampen the uniforms and spirits of the parading soldiers.

So the air force has turned 18 cargo planes and 260 crew into climate combatants to spray an environmentally friendly chemical in the sky to prevent the formation of clouds and rain. At the slightest sign of bad weather on October 1, the planes will take off at dawn and sweep the sky until the problem goes away.

'The more equipment we mobilise, the better effect we will get and the larger the area under our control,' Cui was quoted by Xinhua as saying. 'The scale and scope of this mission is unprecedented in the history of the People's Republic. There are only a handful of countries in the world that have the capability to organise and achieve a climatic operation like ours.'

Cui said the air force had conducted six experiments this month and the results had been satisfactory.