Thursday, April 28

Tulsa Mission

The Flagship's next mission is to Tulsa, OK where American Airlines employs over 8,000 people in their maintenance facility. American spends $72 million a year for local goods and services and has an estimated $2.6 billion impact on the local economy. This facility was established in 1946.

Hey, doesn't she look like a movie star in this photo? Definately in the spotlight!! And for a lot of folks to see.

The purpose is three fold. To celebrate the opening of a new maintenance hanger, to appear at a fund raiser benefiting the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and to get buffed.

The original plan was to go up on Tuesday, April 26th, but the Noknowhengo Tribe was active and the trip actually started on Thursday, the 28th. Airplanes damaged by the tornado in St. Louis a few days prior were now in Tulsa for repairs and so there would be no buff job.

This new hanger cost $9.8 million. It is 81,400 sq. ft, measuring 370 ft. by 220 ft. and 70 ft high, a bit longer than a football field. There are two doors 66 ft tall by 190 wide. There are two bays that will accommodate a wide bodied airplane in each. The immediate use of it will be for MAUI or Mid-life Avionics Upgrade Initiative on 124, 757s.

Today's crew on the trip from Alliance are Steve Jacobson, Dave Buffington, Gene Christian and Tom Taff. After a sumptuous breakfast at The Snooty Pig, the crew headed to Alliance. John Thatcher with help of an Alliance mechanic had previously done a 30 day inspection and Jeff Selby was on hand to aid in getting the mission launched.
Upon arrival in Tulsa, Tom Taff did a few touch and gos to practice his landing skills. There was a tv camera on a firetruck filming the action. Then at 1PM the Flagship did a scheduled fly-by for the media. After landing, 13 people loaded up for a PR flight, after which the plane was taken to an AA hanger for the night. Paul Crider, managing director of this base rode the jump seat during this flight. Museum board member, Lee Hubby, was also on the flight.

The mission on Friday and Saturday was to try to sell flights using the Sparks Aviation FBO as base of operations. It seemed that the media coverage of the event failed to mention that the plane was available for tours and flights and so the anticipated crowds did not materialize.
Jim Gentry was our "man on the scene," seeing to all the needs of the crew. He found hanger space and was involved in the daily movement of the plane back and forth to the FBO. Jim is involved with the Commemorative Air Force and a crew member of its B-29. On one of the trips to the FBO, Jim was invited to taxi the plane. He claims that it ate his lunch, but was assured by the three retired 777 pilots on the scene that he had out performed their first attempts at this task. That's him hugging the prop.

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