My first time going to California to visit my friends over at 10-4 Magazine was a very interesting and exciting time this past July. After not even being there for 24 hours, I found myself on the road with “Big E” (Erik Sieben) going “on assignment” for the magazine. He told me we were going to the high desert in Adelanto, California to see a Peterbilt pulling a 767 airplane fuselage.
When we got to the spot the truck was parked, we couldn’t believe our eyes. There was a 21 foot high, 21 foot wide, and 170 foot long airplane fuselage with what looked to be a miniature Pete 379 sitting in front of it. The nose, wings, and tail section had been cut off of the airplane and it was sitting on a custom-fabricated trailer. Cory Barden was the lead fabricator – he was the guy responsible for welding and customizing all of the parts and pieces of the trailers to make everything work and fit right for this 78,000-pound plane move.
One week later, on July 23, I found myself in the same situation with Erik on the freeway. He said that he had one last fun-filled day planed for me before I was to get on an operational plane back home to Chicago, Illinois. We were going back to the same spot we were one week prior, only this time the heavy-hauling Peterbilt had an even more unique load behind it – the 44 foot wide and 130 foot long wing section of the 767 fuselage we had seen the week before!
When we finally arrived, a lot was already happening. Construction crews were taking out sections of fence and building ramps to get this massive load out of Southern California Logistics Airport in Adelanto, CA. We couldn’t believe how small the truck looked with 25 feet of wing hanging out over the front of the hood. There were construction workers and supervisors walking all around, making sure everything was to par – it was quite the scene.
John Sykes is the driver of the truck. John is a “heavy haul” expert with lots of loads and years under his belt. He hauls a lot of 24 foot wide loads for the railroad, but these two airplane loads are the largest he has ever moved. After talking to him for a while, I could see he was chomping at the bit to get rolling, since he had a 100-mile drive north to the China Lake Naval Weapons Center ahead of him and the permits only allowed him to drive 3-5 mph (when he moved the fuselage he was able to go 25 mph). Both moves were done at night, since there is less traffic. With the help of six highway patrol officers, two pilot cars, a co-pilot in the passenger seat, and three people walking out in front of the truck and one behind, they closed the highway in 10-mile stretches to prevent any accidents with cars or pedestrians. Describing the wing section move, John said, “It’s like an elephant riding a tricycle!”
I asked John if he was nervous with these loads and he calmly said, “No, it’s just another load!” The fuselage went really smooth (done in one night) and he was not nervous at all to move the wing section. After seeing John pull the load out of the airport onto a small dirt road where it would sit until nightfall, I was disappointed I had to catch a plane to go home the next morning. Now, I really wanted to watch him pull this massive load down a California highway.
But after a fun-filled week with my friends at 10-4 Magazine, it was time to go back home to work. I had a great time in California and can’t wait to go back. It was really cool to see these two huge loads, but the most satisfying part of the trip was the time spent with my friends at 10-4 Magazine – in fact, we are no longer friends – we are now family! I am proud to be part of the 10-