STG: On the Road to the Sky

Aug 06, 2004

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Many specialized transportation projects involve unique requirements for the handling of store fixtures, exhibits or electronics. This story describes such a project, but one with rare historical overtones. It aptly illustrates the strength and diversity in the Atlas network for answering unusual needs with innovative logistics solutions.

Sometimes, circumstances have a way of taking you places you never dreamed you would go. For Atlas agent Lewis & Michael, Inc. in Dayton, Ohio, circumstances took them around the country last year in a dramatic celebration marking the centennial of powered flight.

Early in 2002, Operations Manager Dave Couch received a request from his father, a materials consultant, for assistance with logistical planning and transportation for a group of students who were building a replica of the Wright Brothers' famed 1905 flyer. "Dayton is the home of the Wright Brothers," says Dave. "And 2003 would mark the one hundredth anniversary of powered flight. The idea was of immediate interest."

The project was being sponsored by Utah State University (USU), where senior students in mechanical and aerospace engineering, along with students in industrial technology and education, were working in a two-year timetable.

Dave explains that the project was especially intriguing because the design team was using modern composites, reasoning that if the Wright Brothers were building their craft today, they would use the best-performing materials available.

wrightflyerscheduleDave spoke with Jeff German, Corporate Sales Manager, about the idea of supporting the endeavor with a donation of time and equipment. "I was enthusiastic because I knew that it was helping a worthwhile cause, and our agency would gain good public exposure," says Jeff. "Once I became personally engaged in the project, I came to appreciate just how much a privilege it was to be involved."

Dave says the first step was to consult with the design team on how the craft might be efficiently transported to the many different locations it was scheduled to appear. "Sometimes, transportation ends up as one of the last considerations," says Dave. "But in this case, it was an essential part of the design process."

It was critical, says Dave, that the plane could be quickly assembled and disassembled for transport. For this, Lewis & Michael used a 53 ft. electronics trailer. "The whole craft weighed maybe a thousand pounds, but it took up every bit of the trailer," says Dave.

Lewis & Michael also provided logistics expertise to help the design team confront such considerations as the potential stresses on the plane and how to most safely and effectively secure the load for trouble-free transit.

On July 4, 2003, the USU Wright Flyer appeared beside an F-16 Fighter and a B-1 Bomber at Wright Patterson Air Force Base where President Bush addressed the Dayton Celebration of Flight. During the following months, the flyer made appearances at air shows and celebrations across the United States, thrilling onlookers with a glimpse of what those first glorious forays into the sky must have been like.

"It was personally rewarding to see what a profound effect this project had on the young people who were involved," says Jeff. "It was something special... an experience I'll never forget and will always treasure."

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