The hot weather in central Illinois is affecting crops, health, and aircraft. Temperatures in triple digits means thinner air, and planes have to work harder to get lift. Ken Rittenhouse of Bloomington's Image Air says high temperatures mimic conditions found at higher altitudes. He says the twin city airport is pretty close to sea level:
"Anytime you operate above sea level you get less performance. And today, for example, density altitude at Bloomington on a hot day, could be 2,500 to 3,000 feet"
Rittenhouse says another problem is engines develop less power as the atmosphere gets thinner on hot days. Fran Strebring, spokeswoman for the Central Illinois Regional Airport, says their runways can handle the longer take offs and landings that can result from hot, thinner air:
"Our newest runway that we opened, originally back in 1996 in June and then we lengthened it from 6,400 feet to 7,000 feet the next year and then 2003,2004 we lengthened it to 8,000 feet"
Strebring says that's the north-south runway. She says runways have to meet very stringent standards, and there have been no problems with runway integrity during the current heat wave.
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