NCAR-Boulder and NASA are using hi-tech aircraft to help improve Front Range air quality.


KUSA - Have you been buzzed by a large, slow-flying airplane? From now until mid-August, we'll be seeing some low flights as researchers study our summer air quality.

Denver and other areas along the Front Range have ozone levels higher than the Environmental Protection Agency considers to be healthy. Even when ozone levels are not high, moderate amounts sustained over long periods of time can create respiratory health issues in people.

Beyond the health impacts, recent studies have shown that high ground-level ozone decreases crop yields, which would have a significant economic impact here in Colorado.

There are two airplanes you will see flying as low as 1,000 feet above the ground; a C-130 operated by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and an Orion P-3, which is a NASA aircraft. It may be possible to see both planes on any given day because the researchers plan to fly both at the same time to make the most observations in the shortest time.

If you'd like to see the planes yourself, there is an open house on Saturday, Aug. 2 from 8 a.m. until noon at the NCAR hangar located at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, 10802 Airport Court, Broomfield.

There is more information about the open house here:

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