Chapter 193

At seven we met the fuel company on the airport access road. We had four jets that would hold all the fuel that was on the refueling truck and there were several refills needed on the tarmac. Several more were scheduled to return today; that would finish out the first tanker. Lorrie had shifted around planes to make flights – with no fuel at the island – a complicated matter and all of our planes were nearly empty.

We had an audience as soon as the fuel truck rolled through the opened gate, several with cameras. The Carolina Aviation fuels salesman went through a complete training program with our guys and me. He described what every knob, switch and pull lever did and why. He had a notebook that belonged in the truck at all times and one for our files.

After the hands on, he had another book with the refueling procedures on every jet we owned and leased. Each one had colored pictures of where every valve position needed to be on the plane and also on the truck. Our two guys and I each refueled a plane using the guide with the salesman looking over our shoulder. He insisted we use the guide and offered information to clarify a particular instruction or answer a related question.

The truck ran out of fuel on the plane I was refueling.

The tankers followed us to the gym. After they were put on planks to keep them from settling into the ground – if we had a downpour – there was another hands-on demonstration on how to refill the fuel truck.

The process was started and 300 gallons pumped in, then all hoses were disconnected and another person started and ended. The process repeated until we had each done it three times and we all felt comfortable with it. I would most likely not refuel a plane or refill the truck but I wanted to know the procedure in case we had any problems.

As a transportation driver in the Marines I had ferried fuel many times. The setup in this truck was much easier. Probably that was because this was a new truck with all the latest filters and all the valves were air operated. I needed sunglasses; the stainless steel tank was so polished.

Before the end of day we had used 10,000 gallons of Jet A getting all the planes back full and the county airport authority was out 15 thousand dollars. Lorrie ordered another trailer of fuel to replace the empty one.

The icing on the cake was when our fuel truck had to refuel the County EMS chopper. They had not received a notice that there was no county fuel at the Island airport and they had had a very busy morning. Once they had landed, by regulation they did not have enough fuel onboard to take off again.

Again the news team was at the airport following the fuel story. Various stations had been in and out all day. The news team recorded the shouting match between the county divisions and then us refueling their chopper. They even recorded our mechanic refusing to take any money for the fuel.

Robby had called for permission to refuel the chopper. I told him to do it and take no money, and to tell them, “The community needs the chopper on duty more than we need the money.” He was to just run a ticket and write on it ‘Donation to Queens Anne County’ with the chopper N number so Marcy could account for the fuel. A meter ticket was done on every plane refueled for accounting. With Marcy every nickel needed to be accounted for.

I did not tell him that we could not legally refuel the chopper and take money until later. Even though the fuel truck was brand new and had a North Carolina state meter inspection sticker, it could not be used in Maryland to sell fuel until the meter was Maryland inspected. A gallon in North Carolina is the same as in Maryland but the powers to be did not see it that way. I was not going to give the county any reason to nail us.

After lunch the appointments started, with the Feds first. Marcy had told all employees that no one was to answer any question or give interviews unless Jason or Jenny was there with them and all questions went to the public relations department, and that was Ching Lee and Vicky first.

Unless I was requested to be in the question sessions, I stayed out. The FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, The Maryland State Police – all questioned Lorrie at length; Jenny and Jason were both with her. They were followed by the county prosecutor and two county sheriffs’ department detectives. I wondered why they were even questioning us at all. The problem was within the county system or external as in a terrorist threat or the developers had started a new tactic to try to close the airport.

Jack Rush, our chief pilot also did pilot training as a sideline on the weekends or when he was not flying for us and he also recertified our pilots for instrument rating. I wondered what the makeup of his students were. I left a message for him to call me. Pilot training had tightened up considerably since 9-11. As a passing thought I wondered if his students needed a second look.

Wednesday and Thursday I needed to be at KCC; I had several meetings and I was to meet with Richard Bozman to monitor the progress of the dorm rebuild. Richard had gone out on a limb and I wanted to stay on top of the progress since I had hired him and he reported to me.

We were on the news again tonight on several different networks. The county was in the hot seat so that made them an easy target. One station ran with the fuel truck arriving and the training. They made a big deal that I was out there and refueling planes. The other Washington station had the chopper incident and they were headlining both repeatedly.

The county was also in the news. The clip and commentary was on the FBI and Homeland carrying boxes of records out of the county finance building and records from the commissioners’ offices. There were no county officials to be found to take reporter questions.

Edit by Alfmeister

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