Marlborough abuzz, Frost Fighters attack!

The control tower responds “yes Hotel-Echo-Lima-India. You are free to start”.

Nelson helicopter pilots made a mass exodus to Marlborough on Thursday and Friday nights this week to join a squadron of “Frost Fighters”.

Frost Fighters?

At this time of year the fruit and the leaves on the grape vines are vulnerable to any unseasonably late cold snap / frost. And it has been reported that in recent years up to 100 helicopters have been in the air over Marlborough buzzing the vineyards.

Helicopters, although a very expensive option, prevent frost damage by circulating the warm air trapped above the freezing conditions closer to the ground.

They weren’t required on Thursday night, but there’s talk of being on standby for the next few nights. According to an article in The Nelson Mail there are 670 Helicopters in NZ, and 85-90% of them will be out on a big frost night at this time of year.

Helicopters were also on standby in other wine growing regions of NZ. Happened a few times last year too.

In recent years we have seen local growers implement large windmill type objects that spin wide blades as a substitute for what the helicopter can do.