7 October 1998

727 Home conversion project, another delay

Hi all,

The expected Hillsboro Airport arrival date has been delayed again, this time to 16 October 1998.  I haven't been advised as to the cause of the delay.  For more information please see the web site at:


(or HypatiaInc.com, then click on the very last character, a "4").

The first page and the "Tasks Agenda, Logistics, and Weather" link contain the most timely information.

My sincere apologies for these continued delays.  In practical terms, this has been a single vendor environment, so my ability to affect this situation is very limited at this time.

Again, terribly sorry for the delays.  If you need to chat to discuss any particular problems this has caused or could cause, please call anytime or email.  I'll certainly do my best to address your concerns and compensate for the difficulties the delays have caused.

Thanks much & regards, Bruce


6 October 1998

6 October 1998 727 Project Newsletter (and response to a message from Bob Peacock)

Hi Bob,

I've forwarded a copy of this to the newsletter group - I hope you don't mind.

Nothing dramatic is new.  But driven by worry about the weather issues, and specifically about the turf crossing elements of the tow to the Fair Complex grounds (the Cornell Road crossing), I requested information from Boeing about the aircraft's weight bearing specs (evidently also referred to as the TLI specs).  My contact there, Dick Schleh, faxed some weight specs which appear to be configured for folks who are concerned about runway issues, but they don't provide the contact area of the tires - just total weights and effective weights under certain dynamic conditions such as braking.  I thanked Dick for the information, but advised that for my project the tire contact area is a critical factor, and asked whether he had that information.  But his response, while fully helpful in tone (we have a good report), suggests that Boeing is reluctant to provide a contact area spec - they view that as the domain and responsibility of the tire vendor.  So I need to contact Goodyear or Firestone or similar to get the contact area specs, which would then provide the basis to check the validity of:

My pogo stick test method: Thinking about the damp turf issue, and realizing that some form of test is needed to determine whether a turf crossing could be accomplished on some particular day, I ran some weight density numbers for the aircraft and for my pogo stick, and they are very roughly similar.  Assuming a contact area of 1.5 square feet for each of the four main tires (6 square feet total), and a total weight on the mains of 90,000 pounds, the weight per square inch is about 104 pounds.  My pogo stick has a contact area of, I'm guessing, about 1.5 square inches (I'll measure that soon), and I weigh 123 pounds, so the pressure that I apply with the pogo stick is 82 pounds per square inch.  I could remove the rubber cap on the end of the pogo stick to reduce the contact area to very roughly .8 square inches, or I can jump up and down to effectively magnify my weight.  Bottom line is that since the aircraft weight bearing numbers and my pogo stick weight bearing numbers are similar, I should be able to jump up and down on my pogo stick on the turf, then examine the resulting impressions in order to judge whether the turf can reasonably hold the aircraft.

It's just a first order test though.  It doesn't account for whatever significant second order effects may exist.  One might be water displacement from the center of larger contact areas toward their perimeters, which would reduce the weight bearing capacity of the perimeter areas, and potentially the total weight bearing capacity.  But I suspect that whatever second order effects exist can be more than offset by planking with the 3/4" plywood.  So my feeling at this point is that if the turf can pass the pogo stick test, it's likely that a planked crossing should be viable.  Planking is no fun - it would have been so much easier if we had acquired the aircraft during the dry period.  But if planking makes it work, it seems well worth the effort to me.

I don't have any news from Aero Controls as of Monday.  On Friday however, Tom Bristow acknowledged that he did receive your fax of the Port's contract, and that he still felt that a delivery date of 9 October 1998 (not 10 October as in the original newsletter) could be achieved.  But I don't know how reliable that date will prove to be.

Thanks Bob and regards, Bruce


2 October 1998

Schedule delay, weather, and please advise if you're unable to monitor the web site.

Hi Everyone,

If you've been monitoring the web site, you already know that the arrival of the aircraft has been delayed again, this time to 9 October 1998.  Since the project is dependent upon predominantly dry weather, these delays seriously threaten its viability during this season.  I haven't studied deadline issues in detail yet - my impression earlier this year was that our timing allowed plenty of seasonal margin.  However, a deadline threshold is now needed - it's become a big issue.

For the final move to my property, the fuselage has to be transported over bare turf, including a prune orchard and a young Douglas Fir forest, neither of which have surface grass or other stabilizing foliage.  At about 30 tons, we simply can't do it in the normal manner once the ground is saturated with rain.  Similar problems exist for the Cornell Road crossing and the Fairgrounds display and work site.  But the final move to my property could be the most difficult, especially since it's the last transport task, and thus likely to be the wettest.

I'll continue to consider these issues.  However, if the track record of aircraft delivery delays continues, the decision process might become simple and obvious - the project would have to be put on hold for seven or eight months.  That hasn't happened yet, but I am very concerned.

I've reverted back to email for this message because, in the heat of the battle, I vaguely remember being advised by someone that they were able to receive email, but not able to access the web.  If you're that person, please email me to let me know who you are so I can set up a notification process for you (or better yet, please establish web access for yourself).  For the rest, I'll continue to keep the web site up to date as usual.

Thanks & regards, Bruce


10 September 1998

Hi all,

This will be brief due to time pressures.  The web site at http://Leppo.com/~hypatiainc/BC727200.html has become the focal point for news, replacing most of these newsletters.  I'll still send out a request for plankers to this mailing list, probably early next week.  But for everyday developments, please check the web site, especially the tasks agenda link.

Gotta Go!

Regards, Bruce


27 August 98

Hi all,

Please advise if you want to be removed from this email list - I don't want to pester anyone.

Since my last message, the City of Hillsboro has informally indicated that they've reviewed the 727 project on the Fair Complex grounds and have no objections.  That's good news of course, and, as a result, at this time no known significant impediments to the project exist.  But formalization of permits and other authorizations remain, so hidden hurdles might be lurking.  But for now, it's off to the races.

Tom Bristow with Aero Controls advised Wednesday morning that it would take about two weeks from receiving a landing authorization from the Port of Portland to the time the aircraft would arrive at the Hillsboro airport.  That's longer than I previously understood, and such delays are a concern since the working season is waning.  It'll take three or four days to get the cascade of formal authorizations in place, so it appears that the landing date is in the area of 15 September.  (The effective trip time for the aircraft is now the controlling scheduling item - everything else can be arranged in a shorter time.) My impression is that 15 September is slightly after the West Side Light Rail opening activities, which evidently avoids a potential activities conflict.

If you could possibly pitch in with planking, I'd sure appreciate it.  If so, you'll probably want to read the following section.

Planking: I have to arrange delivery of 3/4" thick plywood to the airport so as to be ready for planking the taxiways.  The main landing gear aren't supportable with a four foot wide plank because the tires are spaced almost four feet apart themselves.  So either the plywood will have to be laid with the four foot dimension in the direction of travel, or they'll have to be laid in pairs on each side, one under each tire, abutting each other directly under the landing struts.  The planking distance is about 1,600 feet, so if the paired 8' orientation works, 200 front to back shifts will be required on each side, with each shift involving four sheets, meaning that 800 moves of plywood will have to be accomplished.  If laid in the 4' direction, twice as many shifts of half as many sheets are required, thus again totaling 800 moves.  Choosing between the two techniques may be a matter of which system provides the most efficient lateral movement, and while I can speculate, I think we'll have to try them both and experiment a bit to discover which best conserves energy.  In any case, it will be a lot of work - too much for continuous duty.  So alternating at least two crews will be necessary or we'll run out of human endurance.  A minimum of eight sheets of plywood will be required if the first technique is utilized, but I'll provide at least twelve to cover breakage or other needs.  I'll put holes in the sheets and loop ropes through them to provide a more efficient means of dragging them.

Pondering the endurance question further: I don't know what 3/4" plywood weighs, but it's undoubtedly pretty heavy.  While it's easier to drag over asphalt than uneven surfaces, 1,600' is almost a third of a mile.  And it's stop and go dragging - no momentum advantages.  If laid in the 4' direction, we'll effectively be dragging at least 4 sheets the full distance.  I think it more likely that we'd use 6 sheets so the aircraft can move 8' rather than a measly 4' per shift cycle.  That's the equivalent of dragging one sheet two miles.  More actually because they're not being dragged in one direction - it's more of a semicircle or a shift right, shift forward, shift left sort of affair.  Perhaps the equivalent distance is more like four miles.  It's a daunting task, and my gut tells me that we should have at the very least ten strong souls - and the more the better.  (Ten would imply that each person has to drag one sheet the very rough equivalent of .4 miles - a bit less than half a mile.  I'd better drag one a bit in the next few days to see whether that's a realistic expectation.)

That's just half of it though, because about 19 hours later, in the middle of the night, the aircraft will have to be moved back along the same route, thus repeating the planking task, and then across Cornell Road to the Fair Complex grounds.

It's a lot of work.  But there'll be a certain exhilaration to it since it's a bit of a unique experience.  So please pitch in if you can, and let me know as soon beforehand as possible.  The first planking will be early, near dawn, and the second starting at about 1:00 AM.  Please don't get skittish because you're worried that you may not be strong enough.  I think this will be primarily a matter of overall endurance, and so the more people the better so that individual endurance requirements will be minimized.  Even us wimps can shuffle thick plywood if we work in pairs on each sheet, and can rest half or two thirds of the time.

In the meantime I'll reinvestigate the possibility of altering the route slightly to use turf where possible, thus avoiding the need to plank vulnerable asphalt during part of the route.

That's all the I have in the way of headlines and volunteer relevant items.  Some agenda items are listed below, but they're just details, and mostly serve to organize my thoughts and work.

· A tow truck will be required to move the aircraft during the planked moves described above.  Hillsboro Towing or Speeds towing are good candidates.  I'll line one up.  Tom Bristow promised that a 727-200 tow bar will arrive with the aircraft.

· The aircraft will have to be defueled during the 19 hour holdover at Global Aviation I need to establish an agreement with a reliable vendor to remove the fuel.

· The fences where Cornell Road will be crossed will have to be laid down for a yet to be determined distance.  I'll arrange that and their immediate repair with the original fence vendor or similar.

· The airport service road ditch just north of Cornell Road will have to be filled in with railroad ties or sandbags or some other material so as to support the plywood planks as a final cover.  I need to acquire and deliver the fill material.

· Steel planks and suitable equipment will be required for the Cornell Road crossing.  Power rent companies may have the necessary planks and equipment.  (It may be possible to rent a couple of steel planks from the County Road Office if they're not in use that night.) I need to arrange all that.

· Electrical power availability needs to be worked out at the Fair Complex.  If not available, I'll need to acquire a generator and a safety can for fuel.

· Environmental materials need to be ordered, meaning a spill absorbent roll and a drain cover.  The absorbent roll is a hydraulic fluid spill precaution for the Fair Complex turf and the drain cover is to keep fuel from going down the ramp drain at the Global Aviation site if there's a mishap during defueling.

· Further study of the dip problem on my neighbor's property is needed.  I think I'll measure the height, width and shape of the dip and create a profile drawing of it, lofting in a scaled drawing of the fuselage in the transport configuration.  Then I'll have a better means to investigate the extent of the challenge and try to visualize some good strategies to handle it.

I'm about to add some truck transport route notes to the web page at http://Leppo.com/~hypatiainc/BC727200.html if you're interested.

As always, as best I can, I'll try to keep you posted.  Remember, plankers are needed!

Thanks much everyone and regards, Bruce


23 Aug 98

Hi all,

Sorry for the information gap.  I've been pretty busy tending to numerous support and lobbying efforts in order to keep the Hillsboro project site option alive.  Here's the latest:

As far as I know the aircraft is still in Greece, but I don't have current feedback from Aero Controls.  It's possible that they've flown it to their facility in Shelton, Washington while awaiting my efforts to get the Hillsboro site approved (there's freight in the aircraft that they might have decided was best brought over).  But I just don't know yet.

Regardless, my efforts center on getting the Hillsboro site approved, and while it's close, it's not at all guaranteed.  I've given up on trying to convince the Port of Portland to host the dismantling portion of the project at the Hillsboro Airport.  But they have given verbal approval to allow the aircraft to land at Hillsboro if I'll then move it promptly to the Fair Complex.  The Fair Complex remains eager, and the County will allow the Cornell Road crossing.  The only relevant authority which hasn't verbally signed off is the City of Hillsboro.  They recently changed zoning for Fair Complex land due to the West Side Light Rail, eliminating light industrial.  That doesn't necessarily prevent the project, whose nature for zoning purposes is a little hard to define and reasonably arguable, but it does make it a gray area.  I've restructured the Fair Complex portion to include public viewing and tour time slots during the disassembly / home conversion phase, which better fits the Fair Complex charter and strengthens my position for the zoning question.  This was incorporated into the formal proposal to the Fair Complex, with a copy routed to the City of course.  The bottom line is that everything now appears to hinge on the City Manager, and he's expected to make a decision very roughly Tuesday.  If approved, we'll get the aircraft here as quickly as possible.  But if not, there'll be delays as I lobby and restructure where necessary to try to resolve whatever concerns the city found.

Reviewing and updating the strategy: If approved, the aircraft will land at Hillsboro early one morning, will taxi on runway 30 - 12 to a specific exit ramp, and then be towed, while asphalt protective planking is shuffled under the main gear, over taxiways until it reaches Global Aviation, where it will be defueled and sit.  Then at about 1:00 AM the next morning, it will be towed with planking until it's on runway 30 - 12, then towed without planking to the edge of Cornell Road, then towed with steel planking across Cornell Road, then towed across turf to the Fair Complex site.  There it will be dismantled during working hours, and will be available for public display and tours for one or two hours after working hours (I'll host the public interaction).  That should last two to three weeks.  Emmert International will then move the fuselage, wings and tail structure to my land.

The planking job is harder for this strategy because much more planking distance is involved, and two towing trips are necessary, one in the early morning, but during daylight, and the other at about 1:00 AM.  So if you're interested in helping with planking, stay in shape and carbo load.  But hold off on specific plans for now - I don't have dates yet.

Other items: The Salem site, as a backup, has fallen through - they don't want to host the project, citing the same problems as before.  And there are lots of other details which aren't worth trying to describe here, including concerns about possible conflicts with the West Side Light Rail opening festivities (VP Gore is evidently scheduled to be on hand), a dip in the road on my neighbors property which complicates the fuselage move, weather concerns due to the closing season, and so on.

As best I can, I'll try to keep you posted.

Thanks much everyone and regards, Bruce


7 Aug 1998

Hi all,

Evidently the 7 August 1998 date of arrival confirmation I received from Aero Controls earlier was based on old or bad information, and wasn't valid.  I'm now told that the aircraft is still in Greece, and is at least a week away, with a solid arrival date yet to be established.

But this might be good news since my continued lobbying with the Port of Portland might lead to a strategy to get the aircraft into the Hillsboro airport after all, though perhaps only very briefly.  The primary plan I'm pushing now is to use the Fairgrounds site, were administrative support seems firm, to dismantle the aircraft.  Getting it to the Fairgrounds would be a matter of landing on runway 12, running out to the end of the runway, and then immediately towing it across Cornell Road, with all this to happen in the middle of the night, perhaps 1:00 or 2:00 AM.  The roads management folks can permit this, but need a week to set it up, so the arrival delay may dovetail with that requirement.  So contrary to the indication earlier that the Port would not allow the aircraft to transit to a neighboring site such as the Fairgrounds, it might after all.  We'll see.  Here's the recent history:

Part of yesterday's effort was to try to understand just what the Port administrator's fundamental concerns are, and to develop new plans to deal with them.  But they remain a little vague, so I have to speculate a bit, and try to propose solutions to each possible concern.  One may be environmental risks during the offloading of fuel and hydraulics from the aircraft, and another may be related to a lease requirement, which fixed based operators (FBO's) who rent Port property must follow, that aircraft maintenance not be performed on open ramp space, but rather only within hangers.

At first glance, these issues shouldn't matter to the Port of Portland if the aircraft is towed to the Fairgrounds or the Rodger's Instrument Corporation site.  But on Wednesday the Port denied access to those sites anyway.  Perhaps the Port is concerned that it might be viewed as guilty by association in the event of an environmental accident, even if it occurs on another organization's property.  Perhaps it also feels that dismantling the aircraft on an adjoining site would, again by association, lead airport property lease holders to want to perform maintenance in the open on the airport grounds.  Guilt or by association or rule management problems by association really shouldn't be strong enough reasons to deny my project, and I need to try to convince the Port of this fact.  If my speculation that these are the most important concerns is correct, I've got a better chance of convincing the Port that they can be managed in the context of a dismantling project conducted on a separate site than on Port property.  But it also seems worth trying to persuade the Port to reconsider their site for the dismantling work (it's the most efficient option) by adding new proposals which bolster confidence that the environmental issues will be well managed, and by suggesting that the dismantling work can be effectively described in a manner that clearly differentiates it from maintenance or service activities.  So at this time I'm pushing the Fairgrounds option, and there may be somewhat less resistance to it now.  But I also plan to add addendums to the proposal to address the speculated airport site concerns.

I've verbally proposed that, if desired, the ground under the entire fuselage and wing area be covered by a special spill absorbent material to reduce the possibility that any fluids could get into the turf, and that a leak containment pallet for 55 gallon drums or other containers be utilized on site.  I showed a sample of the absorbent material and a catalog page describing it and the containment pallet (both from an industrial vendor named "New Pig") to the Hillsboro Airport administrator.  I also discussed the project with a local business which provides hazmat cleanup services, and proposed that, if desired, their hazmat truck be on the site while the fluids are offloaded, so that if any accident should occur, they would be able to respond instantly, and thus substantially limit the damage.  The "New Pig" materials would cost about $1,500.  The cost of the hazmat truck hasn't yet been quoted.  I expect that it would be painful, but manageable.

I've been working on the Salem site too, as a backup.  The airport administrator there sites the same problem with outdoor service and maintenance not being allowed on their leased property.  But they have a paved area that's large enough for the job, so the environmental concerns aren't as large a factor.  But of course Salem is much less desirable than Hillsboro since it's a much longer, tougher and more expensive job to truck the fuselage, wings and tail structure from there to my land.

As before, hold off on any planking plans for now.  I'll do my best to keep you up to date.

Thanks much and regards, Bruce


6 Aug 1998

Hi all,

A hitch, and a likely schedule change:

I've got to be brief due to the pressures of trying to handle changing plans, so in short: The aircraft is still due 7 August 1998 (tomorrow), and that date now seems firm, but unfortunately HIllsboro now appears very unlikely as the landing site.  The Port of Portland's higher level administrators just advised that they're not willing to host the project, nor allow the aircraft transit to a neighboring site such as the Fairgrounds.  They seem to want to keep the project out of Hillsboro altogether, for reasons which are not yet entirely clear.  I'll be lobbying again today (Thursday) to try to understand just what the fundamental difficulty is, and to try to resolve it so that the project can be structured in such a way to benefit everyone, but I'm not very optimistic about my chances - the Port folks don't seem eager to consider options or to study the project any further.

I've got a lot of work to do to try to find a fast alternative - nothing's very attractive.  Salem's a possibility.  But it may be that we'll end up back at Shelton, Washington.  Overland transport costs will be much higher from either location, alas.

So hold off on any planking plans for now.  I'll do my best to keep you up to date.

Thanks much and regards, Bruce


3 Aug 1998

Hi all,

Sorry for the sparse updates - I've been very busy.

The aircraft is due very roughly 7 August 1998 (this Friday) probably at Hillsboro, in the morning.  If you're interested, I need plankers - folks who will help move sheets of plywood from back to front to keep the main gear from damaging the airport taxiways as the aircraft is towed across them.  As currently planned, it shouldn't be too much effort - we should be crossing the taxiways at just two points.  I'd prefer folks who have enough savvy to stay focused and careful under potentially hazardous conditions, and who don't dawdle - we tie up a runway and distract tower operations during the task, so the quicker we get it done the better.  But strong arms, backs and endurance will help too - it's thick plywood and two layers are required per side (so four sheets must be moved, two per main gear, per forward shift).  So some youth elements wouldn't hurt so long as safety and focus can be maintained.

The pay is: A piece of the action!

However, this is an adventure with some risk elements, and you must be willing to embrace the risks yourselves.  That is, you must reasonably understand that there are some risks of personal injury or death, or damage to property, and you and your family must agree not to hold me liable for any accidents associated with the project.  Please don't sue me!

(In the off chance that this becomes an issue, please, no discussion with anyone from the press at this time.  If unavoidable, refer them to me for a brief written statement.)

If you or others are interested, please email or call me soon.  Remember that the date is approximate at this time.  I should have a solid date later.

Thanks much and regards, Bruce



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