Celebrating Our Nation's Finest

By Marilyn Ramsey

Our Custom Transportation
On September 28, 2002, Saturday, a team of approximately forty people assembled at the FAA building in Hawthorne, CA. On this day, the AIAA Wright Flyer was lowered to the floor by MIM Rigging of Long Beach, partially disassembled and loaded into the special show truck which will be the transporation for the National Centennial of Flight Tour.


Now it, our airplane begins its journey cross country. As of this writing, October 2, the display has arrived at the first stop, Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, NV. The team checked in with security at the front gate at about 9:00 am. Only one minor glitch - our names were not on the list. Merrie Scott, AIAA Centennial Tour Project Manager, got on her cell phone and called her contact at the base. As she stood talking to him (with her back to the door), in walks the contact who was also on his cell phone. He walked up behind Merrie as he quietly continued his phone conversation with her. Suddenly, she turned around with a surprised look on her face, and we all had a good laugh.


Unloading the Flyer is much easier than loading. We have mounted the airplane on a stand with rollers, and we can simply roll the Flyer sideways until it is supported by a forklift as the truck pulls away. To load the airplane, the process is reversed. But with mere inches to spare in a standard 53 foot trailer (the first eight feet or so is occupied by the step up for the fifth wheel), backing up into a stationary airplane requires a very skilled driver.
Unloading the Flyer Unloading the Flyer Unloading the Flyer


Moving the canard structure
Nellis AFB volunteers help move our canard structure prior to it's installation
At approximately 10:00 am this morning, the truck also went through some very stringent base security. The Wright Flyer Team was met by a wonderful group of volunteers from Nellis AFB. We were told that when the call went out for volunteers to assist us in unloading and set up, more than fifty of our county's finest had stepped forward (who says one shouldn't vounteer for anything in the military?). Twenty were selected to participate, many off-duty and on their own time. We salute these great men and women based at Nellis AFB. The set up, with all its many details and logistics involved, came to a very successful conclusion at approximately 3:30 pm today. It continually threatened to rain, but the weather held until we unloaded and moved everything inside the hangar.


The last item on the list was to move the truck over to its designated parking spot. Then, the team wanted to check out a recommendation for dinner at Memphis Barbeque, the first food we had eaten since 8:00 am in the morning. Incidently, the entire day during the set up, the team got to see previews of the coming air show! Lots of airplanes were up and flying right outside our hangar.


Thursday, the team has a day off from the base. However, there is video and photo footage to convert/download/email. Part of this journal will be used as an update by the AIAA Los Angeles Section Newsletter, along with photos. Friday is Press Day. The Wright Flyer Project Chairman, Jack Cherne, will fly in for interviews and catch some of the air show.


This airshow will be unique, security-wise. No private vehicles will be allowed on base. The 250,000 expected each day will drive to the local race track to park - and will be shuttled in on buses!


The Aviation History Pavilion
Our home at Nellis AFB, in the Aviation History Pavilion


Saturday and Sunday, we will be manning the display, answering questions and talking to visitors about the project, the Wright brothers, and their airplane. Sunday, the show closes at 5:00 pm. Then, the extended team gets together once again to disassemble the display and get the truck on the road for Houston.


Group Photo
From Bldg. 290, Bay 3, at Nellis AFB, next to the "Home of the Thunderbirds", we offer a special thanks to all of our volunteers, both military and civilian.

First Row: Marilyn Ramsey, Bill Haynes, MSgt. Curtis L. Swift (57th Wing Historian), Bert Konle, and the Harris Family
Second Row: Nicole (AIAA) Adolfo Ibarra, Jim Mendrala, Sue Mendrala
Third Row: Airmen of the 57th Wing (third from the left is MSgt. Chesley W. Caddell, also 57th Wing Historian).


Copyright 2002, AIAA Wright Flyer Project, all rights reserved.

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