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An A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, left, and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft participate in an icing test while a T-38 Talon aircraft, top, acts as a photo chase plane. (Photo: U.S. National Archives)

The Lost Art of Airborne Ice Accretion Testing

On Oct.31, 1994, American Eagle flight 4184 impacted the cold Indiana turf as the aircraft suffered from supercooled droplets freezing and compromising the use of the ATR 72’s ailerons. The immediate impact of this new concept of supercooled droplets would create a massive increase in the use of airborne icing tankers in the United States and simultaneously start the downfall of airborne testing facilities. While proving an aircraft can handle icing conditions is not uncommon, the early use of icing…