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Thread: What are They Used For?

  1. #1 What are They Used For? 
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Driving in my car
    Living near Niagara Falls Iím accustomed to seeing power lines. Iíve noticed this one particular item on lines that cross the Niagara River between Canada & USA. Thereís big red balls attached to some of the lines and we never knew what theyíre used for. Some people think theyíre there to prevent critters from using the line to get from one side to the other and some think itís to prevent/scare birds from settling on them.

    Actually the red balls are for low flying aircraft pilots to see and alert them of the danger. There is a company that runs a helicopter business that flies tourists down the Niagara Gorge to the Falls. Thereís a cable car that operates on Canadian side that takes people across Niagara Whirlpool. Interesting to note that thereís no red balls on those cables and I do remember an instance when a helicopter pilot got snagged on them. Managed to breakaway from entanglement and put chopper down at nearby golf course.

    Iíve always thought lights were the devices of choice to warn pilots of ground danger. These balls are not lit up and donít know if a planeís radar would pick them up. What other devices that are not lights are used to warn pilots of approaching obstacles?

    How did they arrive at the size and weight for these power line attachments and is there a limit to how many a line can safely hold?

    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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