I poured myself a large mug of straight black coffee. Duke asked, “Don’t you want a couple of donuts to go with that coffee?”
“No, I have this girlish figure that I have to look after,” I said with a laugh. “It is easier not to eat than it is to work it off.”
Tony ran the meeting starting with a PowerPoint of the complete construction process. He took time to point out and explain every detail of things that he thought were even closely related to the needs of an emergency plan.
The water tower with the 8 inch water mains and fire hydrants made impressions with the fire fighters. The sprinkler systems in the terminal and in the main sections of the agency hangar that was labeled as hangar A on the prints and in the JBG hangar also brought notice of approval.
There were two fire hydrants within 200 feet of the fuel farm and Tony agreed with the suggestion that we install dry hydrants in the big pond that collected all the water runoff from the airport. A dry hydrant would allow the fire department to quickly refill taker trucks from the pond as an alternative water source in a major fire event.
Tony gave a detailed explanation of the fuel farm and the safety features built into the system for fire, fuel leak prevention and containment.
He opened for questions at 1:30; that lasted until almost two. A break was then on tap. It was during the break that the two planes from Tucson called the tower. They were 100 miles out as I listened to the conversation over the speaker.
The agency guys in the tower immediately responded with airport information. It only took seconds before Jenny, Marcy, Ching Lee, Vicky and Lorrie was asking if I was going to join them watching our new planes land.
“Gentlemen, a couple of our new planes are inbound to land and park on the tarmac. We are going to walk to the end of the hangar to watch. You are more than welcome to follow us and look at the hangar on the way,” I said.
We listened to the communications from the tower to the planes on a portable radio as we made our way through the hangar. The 200 we pushed in there yesterday was still there. It was being cleaned tomorrow for a Tuesday flight to North Texas. A G5 and two King Airs were getting the same treatment for flights mid-week. The hangar was going to allow Lorrie to polish the outside of the planes as well as the inside and while kept in a hangar, they would stay that way longer.
We were standing midway of the tarmac when the first of the two turned on the final leg 10 miles out to follow the glide slope to the runway.
I could hear the planes coming. A C130 with those 4 turbine engines with multi blade propellers had a definite sound of their own and the two of them together – most likely a mile or more apart – was distinctive.
All of the JBG employees that were on site had made their way to where we were standing. Across the way at the agency a crowd had assembled in front of it; they had also been listening to the tower communications.
I heard the tower tell the two planes that they had an audience. Then I heard both of the planes request permission for touch and go’s. “Permission granted.”
A few minutes later the first plane touched tires at the marked spot for a glide slope landing then added full power and lifted off into the assigned pattern. It was clear of the runway when the second plane did the same thing.
After the planes had cleared the runway all the agency people walked over; there must have been twenty of them including Frank and Eric. I wondered why DHS and the CIA were in the hangar together today.
Frank handed Lorrie a sealed envelope, “Flights for them every week for the next two months,” he said.
One of the mechanics in full PPE (personal protective equipment; goggles, hearing protection with built in head phones to communicate with the pilots and ground control) walked out to the flight line to assist in parking the planes.
The planes made a large turn on the tarmac and parked side by side. The rear ramps were lowered before the turbines were shut down.
The crews came out the side door whooping and hollering. Lorrie, Marcy and I were standing together. All six of them were from the CIA approved pilots list.
Kenny Tarr was the first to say anything. He was standing in front of Lorrie. “I don’t how many arms you had to break to get these planes but they are beauties. I will retire from the airline to fly one full time if you have that much work for one,” he said.
Lorrie just laughed and pointed at me, “She made the deal; ask her what she had to do. I hope you all feel that way because there is a four day flight Thursday to Monday for both planes,” she replied.
“Both planes are filled to the max with spare parts. There is also a tow bar in one of them,” Kenny said.
I walked around the planes like everyone else was doing. Kenny was right; both were packed full of spare parts, tires, wheels, propellers, even a couple of reconditioned turbines still in the shipping crates and a lot of things I did not know. Robbie knew, “We will carefully unload these tomorrow and store it in the other empty hanger until we get to sort it all out,” he replied.
I asked the county group to head back to the meeting room to finish the meeting, leaving the girls with the planes and the pumped up pilots and agency guys.
There were plenty of conversations from the fire chiefs, emergency management and commissioners as we made our way back to the room. In the room I asked, “Any questions I need to answer to complete the emergency planning?”
Duke asked, “How much fuel does one of those planes hold, if I may ask?”
“With the extra tanks, 10,000 gallons,” I replied.
“The county royally fucked up by not expanding the airport,” he replied.
“We told you in the meeting, you had to make a decision and you made the wrong one. We would have preferred to stay at the Island Airport. It was close and convenient. I really did not want to spend the millions this has cost. But now we have a state of the art landing systems, on site radar, automatic snow removal system and the list goes on and on,” I said then added, “Marcy will be able to tell us in six months how much fuel profit you lost.”
Allen Hostettler was the director of the county emergency services. He asked, “If our choppers need help in bad weather or to land, will there be a problem?”
“No, I will get you the contact numbers as soon as everything is finalized. It is in the planning for the tower to be 24/7 and probably the restaurant, but not for the general public after 6 or something,” I replied then added.
“I am not opposed to EMS keeping your choppers here; we have plenty of hangar space. The main bay in the super hangar is 11 acres and there are side hangars on both sides. The side hangars are 70 feet deep and 100 feet long; there are 24 of them.”
We returned to the emergency plan for two more hours before we had a finished outline for them to work up a final draft with. Allen promised to have it ready within 10 days for a final interdepartmental review and a final plan in our hands in two weeks to send to all the required agencies and the insurance company.
All the girls, pilots and JBG personnel were back. It was time for everyone to go home; it had been a long weekend. Marcy and Lorrie were going to shift schedules – as it were – to give people time off next week.
Lorrie handed me the schedule that Frank had handed her. The first flight on Thursday was 4 days long to someplace I had never heard of in South America. The flight path was out over the Gulf and Atlantic with in flight refueling. “What are we getting into?” I wondered.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Joe H.