Local News

Man-made snowstorm traps Raleigh tourists in China

Posted November 3, 2009
Updated November 4, 2009

— A man-made snowstorm forced more than 100 business executives and politicians from the Raleigh area to sit in an airplane on the tarmac at a Beijing airport for 13 hours Sunday.

Airplane sits on tarmac for 13 hours Airplane sits on tarmac for 13 hours

The group was on a nine-day trip to China, sponsored by the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, that was designed for people to gain new business contacts and see sights from the Great Wall to the Forbidden City.

"I wanted to learn more about the culture, and we did," said Phylis Sharpe, whose husband, David, is in the LED business in Apex.

The group flew from Shanghai to Beijing in preparation for the flight back to the U.S. when they experienced a not-so-great wall of snow in the Chinese capital.

"When we arrived in Beijing – surprise – it was snow. It was snowing heavily," Raleigh City Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin said.

According to media reports, Chinese meteorologists seeded clouds to bring winter weather to Beijing in an effort to combat a lingering drought. The move coincided with a cold front, however, producing a heavy snowfall instead of rain.

Ground crews at the airport were caught off guard, and the plane was left sitting on the tarmac during the snowstorm.

"It took them forever to get (the plane) de-iced," David Sharpe said.

"We were on the plane almost 13 hours before taking off," Baldwin said, calling the experience hellish.

"If part of the agenda was 12 hours sitting on a plane, I wouldn't have signed up for it," David Sharpe said.

The delay was only the start of the arduous journey back home. The actual flight lasted another 12 hours, meaning everyone spent more than a day on the plane.

"I experienced 1:45 a.m. twice (on the plane)," Baldwin said.

Once the plane landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, almost everyone had missed their connecting flights home and had to pay out of pocket to purchase new tickets.

"I think that what happened is unfortunate because that's the taste that many people are going to be left with," Baldwin said. "I'm kind of treating this as child birth (and use) selective memory. I'm going to remember the good parts, and that's what I'm going to focus on."

The group arrived back in the Triangle on Monday.

"We got home safe. That was the bottom line," Phylis Sharpe said with a laugh.


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  • StaggerLee Nov 4, 2009

    Rev Rb: IT WAS A SIGHTSEEING TRIP. The article made it sound like a business trip because it the majority of people who went were Chamber members (business people), but there was no business agenda attached to the trip. Heck, some of the couples took their children.

  • EverythingTicksMeOff Nov 4, 2009

    fedupinbenson: These weren't politicos and Americans don't sit in planes for 13 hours. Time to start reading the news, perhaps?

    And about these "chemtrails": Oh my! Time to get out the tinfoil hats. If you look up chemtrails, you will see that they are supposedly the result of a secret conspiracy by governments to spray unknown chemicals on populations. Well, this wasn't a secret was it? The Chinese admitted it, and there were no unknown chemicals involved, it was the chemicals they used to seed the clouds. The internet is going to destroy society, I fear.....

  • EverythingTicksMeOff Nov 4, 2009

    Rev RB, you pay for the ticket, you do what you want. Basic principle of a free society.

  • fourfivesix Nov 4, 2009

    awesome! i vote for the snow on xmas eve thing too!

    Cobrraaaaalalalalala!!! (GI Joe reference, Cobra Commander's weather dominator).

    i, for one, welcome our new weather overlords.

  • wattsun Nov 4, 2009

    With all the denials from the US in the past about Chemtrails. China admits they do it.
    Google HAARP or Man Made Hurricanes and Chemtrails.
    Weather Modification though probably not perfected is Very Real.

    In 1997 then U.S. Defence Secretary Cohen expresses concern about eco-terrorism using scalar electromagnetic weapons.
    Others [terrorists] are engaging even in an eco-type of terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves... So there are plenty of ingenious minds out there that are at work finding ways in which they can wreak terror upon other nations...It's real, and that's the reason why we have to intensify our [counterterrorism] efforts."

    Secretary of Defense William Cohen at an April 1997 counterterrorism conference sponsored by former Senator Sam Nunn.

    Quoted from DoD News Briefing, Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen.

  • pmck Nov 4, 2009

    So, is that what they're spraying almost daily over the Triangle? Why won't anyone tell us what it is they're spraying? Who's paying for it?

  • StaggerLee Nov 4, 2009

    Sound Tech: The Chamber only facilitated this trip. All cash was paid out of the participants' pockets. It was simply a tourist trip that was made up of business people. There were only a few politicians, and every penny was paid out of their own pockets.
    The Chamber is a member supported organization. They do not receive taxpayer money.

  • Sidekick Nov 4, 2009

    Act like a tourist, you get treated like a torust.

  • Sound Tech Nov 4, 2009

    Once the plane landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, almost everyone had missed their connecting flights home and had to pay out of pocket to purchase new tickets.

    I wonder whose pockets they are talking about. I would be curious to see if it is the taxpayers pocket.

  • Adelinthe Nov 3, 2009

    "...and see sights from the Great Wall to the Forbidden City."

    How nice for them.



    Ya go for business, you just conduct business, you don't act like you're on a nice sight-seeing jaunt.

    God bless.