View from the cockpit, left to right: Hudson Bay, Canada, the Niger River, Niamey, and Tabubil, Papua New Guinea.
A Lynden Air Cargo crew completed a full circle of the globe in under two weeks in February. "This doesn't often happen in our fleet, but it's a testament to how much of the globe we can cover in a short period with one crew," says Dan Marshall, Charter Manager. "It was no small task with all of the COVID-19 restrictions on top of typical logistical challenges that had to be overcome with each country. It makes this an extra special accomplishment."
Captain James Wallace was joined by Mason Gaines, Jimmie Mizell, Ronald Pine and James Love for the noteworthy flights. The trip began in Kelowna, B.C. after installing external fuel tanks used for longer Trans-Pacific flights. From Kelowna, the crew flew to Maui, HI and from there to Nauru, a tiny country in Micronesia, followed by Brisbane, Australia, to Tabubil, Papua New Guinea (PNG), to Port Moresby, PNG, to Darwin, Australia, to Bali, Indonesia, to Gan, Maldives, to Entebbe, Uganda, to Niamey, Niger, to Las Palmas, Gran Canaries, Spain, to Bangor, Maine, and the crew made its last stop in Anchorage. The "live leg" for the flight was from Brisbane to Tabubil, PNG to transport a critical switchgear to replace one that had shut down the Ok Tedi Gold Mine. The gear was too tall to fit in any other aircraft capable of landing at the remote runway there. The flight gave the Lynden crew the opportunity to swap out an aircraft that was due for a heavy maintenance check in Niamey, Niger.
"Our customer helped us obtain landing permissions on Nauru for a tech stop between Hawaii and Brisbane," Dan explains. "All of our normal airports denied entry due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. Captain Wallace and his crew overcame so many hurdles with pandemic restrictions, including hotel lockdowns, to deliver a challenging load to a very remote destination in PNG."
The Lynden flight operations and crew operations teams found unique solutions, always staying ahead of the aircraft with hotels, catering, fuel, and anything else they needed to keep pushing forward. The maintenance team provided the critical external tank installation in less than 24 hours in Kelowna to maintain the initial schedule as close as possible. "This is the first time in recent memory that a single crew has fully circumnavigated the globe with our own aircraft," Dan says. "In addition to the flight crew, our operations and maintenance production teams got all the pieces to fall together to make this trip successful."
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View from the cockpit, left to right: Hudson Bay, Canada, the Niger River, Niamey, and Tabubil, Papua New Guinea.
South Sudan is the newest country in Africa after gaining independence from Sudan in 2011. Since then it has been plagued by civil wars, ethnic violence and unrest. In 2020 the government and opposition forces signed a peace agreement, but the operating environment remains challenging.
Lynden Air Cargo's aircraft N409LC and crew arrived in Juba, South Sudan, last December to fly supplies to Rubkona Airfield near the town of Bentiu where the United Nations' largest refugee camp is located. It was the first time a Lynden Air Cargo aircraft and crew was based in South Sudan and the first time operating into Rubkona for the World Food Programme. Rubkona has very little infrastructure, so the Lynden plane landed on a dirt airstrip with visual flight rules operations only. Over the next three weeks, the crew averaged two flights per day for a total of 25 relief flights. The last flight was completed in January.
In advance of the crew arriving, Lynden Air Cargo Director of Safety Michelle Fabry and Project Manager Corné Steyn flew to Juba to meet with airport officials, vendors and the representatives supporting the World Food Programme. The threat level remains high in the area, so each flight required a security assessment and release prior to takeoff.
"We had contingency plans in place in the event that conflict erupted with pre-determined locations to divert and relocate as necessary and backup communication devices," Michelle explains. "I was most impressed with the positive attitudes, teamwork, and patience displayed by each crew member, even after multiple delays in getting started, COVID restrictions, and anything else that came up. Our team completed the campaign safely, without incident, damage or injury. We truly appreciate their extraordinary efforts."
Lynden Air Cargo's crew included: Captain Warren Woods, First Officer Isaac Ufford, Flight Engineer Chris Allen, Loadmaster Leo Lopez, Mechanic Milton Beaver, Mechanic Tim Buchholz, and Project Manager Corné Steyn. Some members of the crew are pictured above.
Captain Warren Woods had words of praise for his entire crew. "I'm amazed at the team I was allowed to work with, many sharing their vast local knowledge of Africa," he says. "Leo Lopez is not only a Loadmaster; he is a magician. He gets things done with limited resources, and his dedication to getting the job done safely is very important on campaigns like this. He earned the trust and respect of all the customer handlers, aircraft loaders and security personnel at Rubkona."
According to a member of the World Food Programme Aviation Unit in Rome, "The cooperation was brilliant between the two UN agencies and Lynden Air Cargo. World Food Programme is looking forward to future cooperation, as Lynden has proven once again to be a reliable and professional operator."
Lynden Logistics Senior Vice President Dennis Mitchell was elected to the board of the Airforwarders Association (AfA) on Nov. 16.
The AfA serves as the voice of the air forwarding industry and represents nearly 400 member companies dedicated to moving cargo throughout the supply chain. The association's members range from small businesses with fewer than 20 employees to large companies employing more than 1,000 people and business models varying from domestic to worldwide freight forwarding operations. The AfA helps freight forwarders move cargo in the timeliest and most cost-efficient manner whether it is carried on aircraft, truck, rail or ship.
“Dennis is a highly respected member of the AfA that was selected by our membership for a board position. His skills and expertise in the transportation industry will help guide the AfA in its ambitious agenda toward continued success,” says Brandon Fried, AfA Executive Director.
Mitchell will be sworn in on Jan. 5 to serve a three-year term as one of eight AfA board members. Lynden Logistics Vice President Laura Sanders also served a 12-year term on the AfA board from 1999 to 2012. Lynden Logistics has been a member of the AfA for more than 25 years.
Mitchell brings 26 years of Lynden experience to his board position as well as background as a business owner. He owned his own customs brokerage firm from 1986 to 1994 prior to joining Lynden in Anchorage. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Supply Chain Management from the University of Alaska and is a licensed customs broker. Mitchell is also the former chair of the board of directors for the Anchorage Economic Development Corp.
Hawaii's animal shelters had been overcrowded since the Wings of Aloha transfer program that provides off-island adoptions was paused due to the COVID pandemic. Air Charter Service, Wings of Rescue, Greater Good Charities and The John R. Peterson Foundation came up with the perfect solution: the largest pet rescue flight in history. But they needed a plane. A big plane. One large enough to carry nearly 600 dogs and cats collected from five shelters across Hawaii.
Enter Lynden Air Cargo and its flight crew. On a Wednesday in late fall, dozens of staff, volunteers, and foster families worked day and night to prepare the animals for the long journey to Seattle where they would receive a second chance in new homes. Dubbed the Paws Across Pacific flight, it took months to coordinate.
"Thomas Howe of Air Charter Service reached out looking for a unique solution to a unique requirement, which we felt was right up our alley," says Dan Marshall, Lynden Air Cargo Charter Manager. "We were able to fly our C-130 aircraft from Oakland, CA to each location to pick up the animals and reduce the loading and unloading that other operations would require by using a spoke/wheel approach. We linked the four locations together and then launched from Hilo direct to Boeing Field in Seattle."
Island by island, kennel by kennel, hundreds of shelter animals made their way into the massive Hercules. Most of the animals were already adopted upon landing in Seattle and around 120 of the cats and dogs continued their journey to shelters in Washington state, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. The flight was covered by national media and provided some heartwarming good news for many people who are overwhelmed by pandemic updates.
"It was a pleasure to be involved in this monumental transport of pets," Dan says. "Our crews reported that the Greater Good team was one of the most organized and efficient groups we have ever encountered. Thomas Howe pulled it all together and ran an excellent operation coordinating between all the groups involved, and we heard positive feedback about Lynden and our flight crew."
Amy Mills, an employee at Seattle Area Feline Rescue, sent a message about the project to Lynden's Facebook page. "I was on the receiving end of this flight. We were a destination shelter for some of the cats," she writes. "When the plane taxied to the hangar and I saw Lynden Air Cargo on the side, it was an added bonus to the day. (Lynden patriarch) Hank Jansen was a neighbor of my grandparents in Lynden, WA. Lynden Transport will always catch my eye and make me smile. Thank you for helping all these pets and the people who work so hard to protect and care for them."
Lynden Air Cargo has transported many animals over the years, including whales, horses, bison and Icelandic ponies.
Bode Hostetter is a huge fan of Lynden Air Cargo's C-130 Hercules aircraft. Knowing a charter would be visiting their remote Alaska village of Noatak, his parents reached out to Lynden to see if they could purchase some Lynden items for Bode's fourth birthday. "I have a 4-year-old boy that just loves seeing the Lynden Herc flying to Noatak," writes Brent Hostetter. "I am curious if you sell merchandise or something with a picture of the herc?"
"We were glad to help celebrate Bode's special day," says Dani Myren, Lynden Air Cargo Customer Service Manager. Dani sent a birthday package on the next charter flight including a T-shirt, hat and a model of a C-130. "You and the crew made his day," Brent writes. "He did not stop playing with that model all evening yesterday. I had actually been trying to find that model online for him."
Earlier this year the Alutiiq Tribe of Old Harbor, AK was awarded three bison bulls from Yellowstone National Park to improve the genetic diversity of its Sitkalidak Bison Herd. The catch: the bison required transport from Montana to Seattle, from Seattle to Anchorage and from Anchorage to Homer Spit. The final destination required a boat ride to Sitkalidak on Kodiak Island.
"I was informed that on special occasions Lynden Transport may transport livestock," says Cynthia Berns, Vice President of Community Affairs for the Old Harbor Native Corp. "So I called Paul Friese in Anchorage."
Paul Friese, Vice President of Alaska Sales for Lynden Transport, responded to the call with the usual can-do attitude. Gathering all the details, he quickly put the team in motion. Lynden Driver Clay Bonty met the FedEx plane in Anchorage, carefully loaded the special 20-foot container containing the three bison and headed to Homer, AK. "This was a very special project," Paul says. "We were happy to be involved and assist the Alutiiq Tribe."
The container weighed in at 4,500 pounds, plus three bulls at 1,200 pounds each, for a total weight of 8,100 pounds. Once Clay reached Homer, the container was loaded onto a landing craft vessel bound for Sitkalidak Island, pictured right.
The transfer was a historic moment in returning Yellowstone bison to tribal lands. These particular animals are important to tribes because they are the genetically pure descendants of the bison that tribal ancestors lived with. In the case of the Sitkalidak herd, the new bulls will introduce genetic diversity for herd survival. "Our herd is managed to provide food security for our community of 230 residents and tribal members throughout the state," Cynthia explains. "In 2017, DNA testing was conducted on the herd, and it was suggested that we integrate new genes into the herd for long-term health and survival."
The bulls are settled in and doing well. They are outfitted with GPS collars that provide hourly updates on their status. "From trucks, plane and landing craft, these animals have come a long way. A huge thank you to our supporters at Lynden Transport for safely getting the bison to Homer and secured on the vessel for the last leg of their journey."
Five years ago, Lynden was involved in another bison relocation project using Lynden Air Cargo's L-100 cargo plane. Employees spent three days loading 100 wood bison into special containers in Portage, AK for truck transport to Anchorage via Alaska West Express. All 100 animals were loaded in Anchorage and delivered safely in three flights to Shageluk for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Another L100 Hercules joined the Lynden Air Cargo fleet this fall. After a major overhaul and conformity heavy check, N410LC was delivered to Anchorage in October. "The aircraft was purchased in Africa from Safair in 2017," explains Ethan Bradford, Vice President of Technical Operations. "Our dedicated maintenance, quality control, records, contract vendors and other Lynden Air Cargo personnel have spent many thousands of hours getting it ready to serve our customers." October 8 was N410LC's functional test flight out of Singapore.
The addition of N410LC brings Lynden's fleet to 14. "We operate nine Hercules aircraft; one is a parts plane and four are on lease back to Safair," Ethan explains.
"This was some of the largest and heaviest equipment ever moved by Lynden Air Cargo," says Charter Manager Dave Beach. Lynden assisted DeBeers and Priestly Demolition, Inc. in their Victor Mine decommission and remediation project by flying oversized equipment out of Timmins, Ontario, to remote sites in Canada to ease the burden on the winter ice road.
"It was a team effort due to the size and complexity of the cargo. It required multiple trips to assist in the preparation and two of our most experienced Loadmasters, Leo Lopez and Matt Hise, on the job during the 16-day project," Dave explains. "The flight crew was exceptional, completing flights in difficult fall weather conditions in northern Canada. This equipment was some of the largest we have hauled in this quantity to date. Normally there are one or two pieces required to a location. This was several pieces over 17 flights, with very little margin for error due the sheer size and weight."
Lynden has worked with DeBeers out of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories since 2006, but this is the first project outside of that yearly work. "Both DeBeers and Priestly Demolition expressed their admiration at the professionalism of Lynden's crews and operations department. "We will likely see much more work with both of these groups in the years to come," Dave says.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) asked Lynden to fly its L-382 aircraft to the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) to assist after violent clashes between two armed groups left many dead and injured. Over a two-week period, Lynden Air Cargo crews made 18 trips to deliver 600,000 pounds of food, shelter and vehicles to 25,000 displaced people in Birao.
"This work was very special as our crews volunteered to go and rallied to get it done while showing compassion for the humanitarian efforts going on in this region," explains Jim Davis, Vice President of Commercial Operations. "We received the initial request from the WFP to fly six trips in the C.A.R. which is a country in Africa that we had yet to operate in. Our aircraft based in Accra, Ghana, was ready to respond to the request." After the six trips, the WFP immediately requested 12 additional flights. This was not the normal cargo Lynden moves, but critical supplies going to a refugee camp so remote that very few aircraft types can operate on the runway.
"We have the best crews in the world, no question. This project gave us all a great sense of pride in what our company does around the world," Jim adds. "To see the hands-on efforts and genuine enthusiasm for the work the crew accomplished was heartwarming."
Most employees stayed well past their scheduled duty days to see the project completed despite weather delays that extended beyond the original departure date. "It truly was a humbling experience volunteering for this work," says Captain Kyle Zerkel.
"This crew embodies the Lynden Everyday Hero spirit in parts of the world we never imagined we would serve when we started the company over two decades ago," Jim says. "Thanks to the following employees for their efforts during this campaign: Aleksey Alekseyev, Bill Kenney, Philip Ansley, Kenny Horwood, Milton Beaver, Leso Tshimologo, Rock Molanga and Kyle Zerkel."
"We could tell that the Lynden Air Cargo pilots and ground staff were driven by the humanitarian cause. They were experienced with the challenging environment and their knowledge of the French language was a big plus in communicating with the local staff. Thank you for the excellent effort," says Sandra Legg, WFP Representative in Bangui, C.A.R.
Lynden Air Cargo completed another Hercules modification this summer, installing a "Short-POD APU" to enhance the reliability and performance of its aircraft. According to Lynden Air Cargo President Rick Zerkel, the size of the project required Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval.
"It took about a year and thousands of hours to take the military data and convert it to an FAA-approved package, conform the kits, convert an existing Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), modify the airframe, install and test, then compile and finalize over 1,000 pages of reports and manuals," Rick explains. The project required support from multiple groups inside and outside Lynden Air Cargo, such as the staff from the FAA Aircraft Certification Office, engineering representatives, personnel from Lockheed and Kellstrom Defense, KF Aerospace and Lynden Air Cargo's Quality control team, engineering, publications, maintenance and special projects.
The upgrade kit provides aircraft operators with increased reliability, quicker engine starts, and reduced maintenance and operating costs by replacing the out-of-production gas turbine compressor/air turbine motor with a modified APU that will help standardize the fleet with the other APU-equipped aircraft.