I walked to the elevator to greet whoever was coming to see me, just as door was opening.
Phil, Robin and Bob Jackson stepped off the elevator.
“I get another look at the inside of the lion’s den; you have expanded a lot since I was here last time,” he said.
“Yes, we have and all of Lorrie’s division was moved to the Morton building; she has offices both here and there.”
“Bob, are you going as chaperone?” I asked.
“Yes. Mr. Gifford sent an email that the medicines being donated for Nimule were being shipped to you in two weeks. He CC’ed me on the mail asking if I could finagle a seat on the plane to take video and pictures for them. I knew there would be plenty from you but he carries a big stick, if you know what I mean,” Bob replied.
That conversation ended as Rachael and her parents stepped off the elevator.
“Glad you made it, so you are up for a challenge?”
“Yes, I so glad you asked me to go with you. I was so excited when Dad asked if I wanted to go. We are not late, are we?”
“No there is plenty of time! The doc is waiting; Maryann is going to lead you where you are going. But first I need you to understand we are going on a military type transport plane. This is not first class fare.”
“That’s OK, that will make it more fun,” Rachael replied.
“Are you three OK with that?” I directed at Bob, Robin and Phil.
“I don’t know about fun but it sure sounds like an adventure,” Bob replied.
“Well, let’s get the process started; follow Maryann to the docs,” I replied.
“The shots are being billed to JBG,” I stated.
Our company Doctor Greg Burns’ practice had grown as JBG had. When we first started we went to him because he had been the family doctor to both the Jones and the Coles. It was a small practice; one doctor and a couple of nurses.
Now it was located in a new building with four doctors and several Physicians Assistants with a nurse for each one. There was a lot of medical equipment that usually was found in emergency centers. They could do x-rays and blood testing in-house.
The good thing was they billed us direct at a cash price for all the new employment physicals and shots. They had agreed to keep all of our employee records off the system because of our security status. Marcy even bought the filing system for them.
I was ready close down the computers and go to the house with the girls, when my phone rang one more time.
“Ambassador Jones, Johnson Black; I made some calls and I found the response time for Mr. Pope’s office to be unacceptable and changes are being made as we speak. Mr. Pope will call you personally to apologize for the long wait and the response from the north-east service center personnel to your request.”
“There is a standing policy that if an area cannot handle a customer’s needs they are to request help from the other service centers. Work load fluctuates; we have other centers that are not working up to capacity and can use the work.”
“The techs you requested will be there Monday morning. They are flying out of the Southern and North Western service centers direct to you. I also took the liberty to look at your account to look at your parts purchases for the aircraft you have repaired. They will bring multiples of those parts with them and anything else they think they will need to speed up the repair process, based on your descriptions,” he said.
Then he added, “I am terribly sorry that you needed to go the route that you did for a solution. From my viewpoint it is somewhat depressing. We spent so much time, effort and money to improve service and then one hard head can wreck it all in one call. I can promise you it will not happen again.”
“I appreciate your help; thank you,” I replied. Only time would tell for sure, I thought.
We were up at three; all of us – including Crash – wanted to see the takeoff. Crash had Lorrie take pictures of him and the plane with the crew; he wanted them framed and placed in the terminal building by his original crop duster.
When we arrived the crew was stowing their luggage and finishing up preflight inspection. Major Culpepper was checking things behind them, looking over their shoulder.
We walked Adam off to the side after they were finished. Lorrie handed him the lockable cash bag that we sent with all out of the US flights. There were some places in the world that did not take credit cards or they added large fees to take the card.
For this flight the bag contained 200 thousand dollars that Adam signed for. The C5 held 50,000 gallons if the tanks were empty; at 4 bucks a gallon, one fill up would wipe out the 200k.
The flight planning they had done called for an air tanker from the US air base at Moron Spain to refuel just off the coast of Africa to top off the tanks, replacing the estimated 25,000 gallons they would use. That would allow them to make the destination without landing.
If there were technical difficulties that prevented the in air refueling, they would have to land to do it, most likely at Morocco. The same thing had to happen on the return flight.
It was a lovely arrangement for JGB either way; the Air Force cross-billed the state department, then they billed JBG, then we billed the state department plus add on fees to the logistics support part of our contract. Even if we used the card or cash, the add-on applied.
We wished the crew safe passage, luck had nothing to do with it; it boiled down to training, equipment and planning for any contingency.
From inside we watched the engine run-up and listened to the tower instructions for the IFR flight, and then permission to take off.
The big turbofans started screaming and the big plane started rolling, picking up speed, lifting into the air well before the end of the runway. It was exactly 0400.
We decided to go back home and nap before we had to go to work; as we turned onto 301 N there were police and fire trucks blocking the road. There were two tractor trailers lying on their sides blocking the roads directly across from the end of the runway.
“Oh crap,” the jet blast from the C5 had blown them over from 75 yards away; they must have been empty. I guessed we were not going home after all.
I wondered what time Bob and his engineers started work and if they would be eating in the restaurant this morning. The rest of the takeoffs with the C5 would be from the other end of the runway until a blast deflector could be built near the highway. The only thing that could be blown over on that end was soybeans.
A state police car followed us back to the terminal building.
“Did you have any planes take off from the airport earlier?”
“Yes we did; a big one. Was anyone hurt?” I asked.
“No, both trucks are pretty much junk, no freight though; both were empty,” the officer replied.
“Were they independents or fleet owned?” I asked.
“They were both independent operators,” he replied.
“We need to replace their trucks so they can keep making a living. Let’s go see what they had and what we can find when the truck dealers open up,” Marcy said.
Marcy and I followed the trooper back to the highway in time to see wreckers flip both trucks upright.
Both trucks were only a couple of years old; one was a Pete 389, the other was a Kenworth 680. I originally thought both trucks could be repaired until I got close and had a good look at them. Both cabs were twisted pretty badly; the best thing was to call a salvage company and part them out.
Cars and trucks were Marcy’s thing so I left it to her to take care of it. We were at fault and self insured, so it made more sense just to replace the trucks and trailers fast than deal with lawyers and litigation paying for lost revenue, down time and anything else the lawyers could think up.
I made it to KCC on time by leaving the girls to take care of the truck fiasco.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.