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Dashing through the snow

During the ride, I sit in the wingman's seat. A wingman makes sure the driver is aware of objects up ahead, whether it be a car, a mailbox or a fence on the side of the road. Because Ed and I are doing some of the main roads, I do not have to act as wingman on this trip.

"With neighborhoods and parked cars is when a wingman is needed," Ed said.

Our route consists of plowing Wade Road, then taking a left on Sicker Road, which runs along the Albany International Airport, turning right onto Runway Road and then back down Sicker.

The seat isn't uncomfortable, but Ed warns that if you sit in the wingman's chair for too many hours it can become a drag. The loud revving of the engine, the scraping of the plow along the road and the tedium of staring at the wing-plow can start to get to you.

But for the time being, watching massive amounts of snow being moved to the side of the road is pretty fascinating.

Ed is working the plows, pulling a lever to lift up the wing since the area we are driving over has already been taken care of. He said moving those levers keeps you focused, along with a constant watch for manholes. Going over one, Ed said, will really wake you up.

Years ago, Ed said, drivers had to first act as wingmen for a few runs before being handed the reins. But driving the plow doesn't take any special skill or a lot of training, he said; it all depends on the person.

A day in the life

Ed said that what really wears out a plow driver are the 20- to 30-hour storms.

"I stop for coffee quite a bit," Ed said. "Go in after each route is done and spend a half hour in Stewart's. That seat's gonna get to you."

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