An intense dust storm blew through downtown York on Wednesday night, gathering strength on its way to Utah.
That’s not a weather report, but a description of York-made industrial equipment that was on display for visitors as part of an open house at Air Dynamics Industrial Systems Corp.
The Roosevelt Avenue company specializes in air pollution control systems, environmental simulators and industrial vacuum systems. The 50,000-pound behemoth that roared for guests under the roof a former air conditioning factory is one of Air Dynamics' Desert Wind sand and dust environmental simulators. The simulators are used by the military and aircraft manufacturers to test the effects of desert conditions on everything from electronics to helmets, guns, missiles and jet engines.
The machines do that by blasting the hardware with intense doses of gritty dust, in temperatures of up to 160 degrees. Components from 16 manufacturers go into fabricating the custom simulators, which are assembled by a team of five.
"It's something that we're really proud of," said general manager Aaron Lehman, who spearheaded the design and fabrication of the environmental testing simulator.
That pride runs deep: This is a family business, founded by Lehman's father, Dan, a U.S. Air Force veteran.
The company's seventh such machine built since 2009, the latest Desert Wind simulator soon will be shipped to the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, a U.S. Army testing center for defense against chemical and biological weapons. The York-built machine will aid Army technicians in evaluating how intense desert conditions affect equipment, munitions and weapons.
For the family-run company, founded by a veteran, it's another opportunity to serve the nation — as the region's industries have been doing for generations.
"York is a great place for this," Dan Lehman said. "We have a great workforce."