CHICAGO-United Airlines, upon announcing a historic first quarter loss of over $600 million dollars due in part to stormy weather, will embark upon a weather modification program in conjunction with the scientific community, Native American tribal dancers, charlatans and psychics, the company's top executive noted today.
The company, which attributed over $200 million of its loss to bad weather during the first three months of the 2014 calendar year, will employ a variety of techniques to keep thunderstorms and ice away from its main airport hubs such as Chicago's O'Hare, Newark, Houston, Denver, San Francisco and Washington DC Dulles, noted Jeff Smisek, the company's president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board.
If they are successful, the airline hopes to sell its weather-modification services to other airlines, airports, government agencies, the Super Bowl and other major sporting events. United officials are also thinking about the Shakespeare festival in New York's Central Park, the 4th of July celebrations around the country as well as the Canada Day celebrations up north and a variety of music festivals big and small. "We'd like to get the contracts for the 50th anniversary of the Monterey and Woodstock music festivals," Smisek said. "All of those contracts will bring in the money and make the skies friendly-at least for our bookkeepers."
A variety of techniques will be used, depending on the location of United's operations. For example, Denver, which is in the western part of the Great Plains of the United States, is subject to thunderstorms with their hail, lightning and tornadoes in the summer and heavy snowfalls in the winter. United's weather modifiers would use drone aircraft to seed potentially severe thunderstorms with silver iodide or barium while simultaneously firing artillery into the clouds to break up the hail and the storms' updrafts, noted Bill Starbuck and Al Leyden, the co-chiefs of Operation Rain, Rain, Go Away, the current project name for United's weather modification project.
The Newark and Houston bases are in the hurricane belt. Plans call for aircraft from those airports to fly into incoming hurricanes and tropical storms and drop enough silver iodide or aluminum (United says it plans to get its aluminum from such aircraft boneyards as Davis Monthan Air Force base in Tucson, along with such supermarkets as Winn-Dixie, Kroger and Safeway.
Other techniques would involve the hiring of Native American tribes, noted for their rain dances, who would devise new dances to keep winter storms away from such United hubs as O'Hare, Newark and Denver. For long-term forecasting, United will hire John Edward and Sylvia Browne to determine when winter weather might hamper its operations.
And United is even planning to turn to Los Angeles-most notably, Hollywood--for help in its attempt to predict and control the weather. Rain, Rain, Go Away has recruited New Age guru and actress Shirley MacLaine to predict potential flight delays several years into the future. Backing her up will be such talent as Robin Williams who played an extraterrestrial in the 1970's television show Mork & Mindy and later was the voice of a genie in the Disney animated cartoon Aladdin. "We're not sure what to do after his three wishes run out," noted Leyden. "Perhaps that last wish should be for an unlimited number of future wishes. Then we'll always have fair weather and unlimited operations."