Lynden Air Cargo is back in Papua New Guinea. "We are operating out of the capital city of Port Moresby and the city of Lae to support Exxon," says Captain Charlie Wallace. For the past several years, Lynden Air Cargo has been involved in Exxon's Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project to construct a gas plant and pipelines on the island. Lynden's Hercules aircraft are delivering heavyweight construction materials and other equipment. Charlie is pictured with Captain Eric Feige (far left) and Flight Engineer Bill Kenney (right). "This picture shows the flight crew with a local tribeswoman in full traditional garb," he says. "It's always exciting to be working in new locations and meeting local people."
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Lynden Air Cargo recently completed a three-month peacekeeping mission for the United Nations (UN) to ensure safe and legal elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It also established a new line base in Accra, Ghana, to provide parts and repairs to its aircraft serving the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region.
"This photo (pictured above) is of our two planes at our new maintenance base in Accra, Ghana," says Jim Davis, Vice President Commercial Operations. "As our footprint increases in the MENA region, it has become important for us to build a line station facility with a large inventory of aircraft parts. This will save shipping costs, allow us to get the parts to areas where we operate more quickly, and improve our repair time which will have a direct impact on customer satisfaction."
During the peacekeeping mission Lynden's main operating base was in the DRC capital city of Kinshasa, but both Lynden planes were also positioned in other locations to help move cargo throughout the country and into Entebbe, Uganda, which is the regional logistics hub for the UN.
"One of the two aircraft was also temporarily positioned in Kenya to help move cargo out of Mombasa to Kalemie, Goma, and Kinshasa," explains Project Manager Rock Molanga. "Compared to the previous UN peacekeeping mission we supported in 2016–2017, this one was more complicated because of the current political and security situation in the DRC. The president has been out of mandate since December 2016 and this election was already postponed twice. The elections finally took place Dec. 30 and Felix Tshisekedi was elected president in the first democratic transition of power in the country's history." Over the two years Lynden was onsite, the elections were plagued by problems such as fire that destroyed the voting machines, militant attacks and an Ebola outbreak.
In addition to supporting the electoral process in developing countries, Rock is confident that Lynden Air Cargo will have many opportunities in the MENA region in the future. "The UN is present in most of the post-conflict countries in Africa." Lynden's aircraft capabilities are well-suited for the area because of the lack of infrastructure and roads throughout the African continent.
"Antarctica was the final continent on our checklist," says Lynden Air Cargo President Rick Zerkel. "Now we can cross it off." Lynden Air Cargo has joined a short list of operators that serve all seven continents by starting a new project in support of an Italian Antarctic Expedition team doing research on the icy land mass.
The month-long mission lasted from Oct. 30 through Nov. 30 and involved carrying supplies from Christchurch, New Zealand to Italian base Mario Zucchelli Station and Phoenix Field at McMurdo Station, the U.S. base in Terra Nova Bay, Antarctica. According to Lynden Air Cargo Captain Pat Madland, Terra Nova Bay is about 2,000 miles and 7 hours from Christchurch, and Phoenix Field is 300 miles further south and about 8 hours flying time. "This was accomplished with an augmented crew to allow for rest," Pat explains. "We also carry a loadmaster and mechanic." The whole operation requires nine people on the ground in Christchurch.
"This high-profile project illustrates Lynden Air Cargo’s capabilities in remote locations," says Adam Murray, Director of Business Development and Marketing. "With 98 percent of the continent covered in ice, there are no cities or villages. This is another addition to our capabilities and we hope to provide this service next year and on an ongoing basis if possible."
The flight crew includes Captains Pat Madland and Thomas Lindberg, First Officer Josh Havel, Flight Engineers Bill Spencer, Clint Swanson and John Worley, Loadmaster Leonel Lopez and Aircraft Mechanics Travis Blaszak and Dan Spears.
"The cargo on the first two trips to Terra Nova Bay consisted mostly of helicopters. We carried two Squirrel helicopters on each trip. Since then, the cargo has been scientific equipment and food," Pat says. "Although it’s exciting to go to Antarctica, Lynden Air Cargo crews are used to flying to remote locations in challenging conditions. Antarctica closely resembles Greenland with its mountainous terrain covered with an ice cap. Much of the continent is around 10,000 feet high although we landed on sea ice runways at sea level. Most of our Lynden crews have been to six continents and it’s nice to add the seventh."
Lynden Air Cargo, Alaska West Express and Alaska Marine Lines were part of a major wildlife conservation project to relocate 100 wood bison from Girdwood, AK to remote Shageluk, AK in late March. Alaska Marine Lines donated containers that were retrofitted into 'bison boxes' to hold seven animals each. The animals were trucked from Portage to Anchorage for loading into Lynden Air Cargo's Hercules aircraft and the one-hour flight to their new home near Shageluk. The animals were nearly extinct at one point and have not lived in the Shageluk area in almost a century.
Photo credit: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center/Doug Lindstrand
Lynden companies donated containers, employees, equipment and discounted the flights to help the effort. "Wood bison are the largest land animal in North America, and it took Lynden's Hercules aircraft, capable of landing on the short gravel runway at Shageluk, to transport them," says Jim Davis, Lynden Air Cargo Vice President of Marketing and Sales. "We have always been a niche operator, but this move made our top 10 list of unusual moves. We are proud to support this uniquely Alaskan effort."
Photo credit: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center/Doug Lindstrand
Lynden's commitment included Loadmaster Ike McGowan accompanying the animals on the flights and Director of Cargo Operations Jerry Stout loading the animals into the bison boxes at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage, AK. Alaska West Express Driver Doug Scott transported the containers to the back of the Hercules for loading in Anchorage. "It was a huge undertaking. The animals were brought in from the pens, then radio-collared, vaccinated and shuttled through a chute into the containers," Stout explains. "We moved 100 animals with no incidents. All of them are alive and doing well."
"It's been a privilege to work with the Lynden crew. They have been great partners, and we appreciate their support in bringing wood bison back to Alaska's wild," says Cathie Harms, Regional Program Manager for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Division of Wildlife Conservation.
“We were asked to fly from Anchorage to Seattle and pick up two engines to take to Cordova for one of their aircrafts that had experienced maintenance issues,” explains Jim Davis, Director of Marketing & Traffic for Lynden Air Cargo. “We headed out of Anchorage, got into Seattle about 2 a.m., departed at 4 a.m. and delivered the engines to an Alaska Airlines maintenance crew that was standing by in Cordova. Two days later we made a second night flight to retrieve the engines they had removed and take them back down to their maintenance base in Anchorage. It’s always nice to get positive feedback about our performance.” Lynden’s Hercules is shown making a night delivery in the photo above.
Lynden Air Cargo recently welcomed a new Hercules to its fleet, N407LC/P2-LAE, and it is already hard at work in Papua New Guinea. “Historically we only certify a new aircraft every five years or so,” explains Paul Willing, Lynden Air Cargo Vice President of Maintenance. “Getting the aircraft ready and showing compliance with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations is a major undertaking, especially for aircraft that have been operated under foreign registry for their entire service lives.”
Since the new Herc was destined for operation in Papua New Guinea (PNG), Lynden Air Cargo had to earn an FAA airworthiness certificate plus a certificate from PNG. “Once we were cleared with the FAA we were only halfway there,” Paul says. To earn a certificate of airworthiness in PNG, Lynden Air Cargo was required to apply for and receive a US Export Certificate of Airworthiness, deregister the aircraft, apply for registration and certificate of airworthiness in PNG and demonstrate conformity with PNG requirements. This was all accomplished in record time – 144 days to be exact.
“The effort was nothing short of Herculean,” Paul says. “The 144-day N407LC/P2-LAE bridging and certification project included many firsts for Lynden Air Cargo, including a concurrent avionics modernization upgrade and installing systems different from our fleet standards.” Lynden Air Cargo President Judy McKenzie agrees that it took a team effort to bring the Herc online with the rest of the fleet. “This is an exciting milestone for us,” she says.
Earlier this year Lynden Air Cargo PNG completed their 1,500th flight into the Highlands of Papua New Guinea as they continue to deliver cargo in support of the PNG LNG gas development project. “This is an extraordinary achievement,” says Lynden Air Cargo (PNG) President Greg Vaughan. “There are not many in the industry who could deliver 1,500 loads into a remote place like Tari and do it safely and reliably. Congratulations to the crews on a job well done.” Lynden uses three of its Lockheed L-382 Hercules aircraft to fly machinery, equipment and supplies from Nadzab Airport in Lae to the remote Highlands for the Project.
Add a six-seat Eclipse 500 business jet to the list of unusual items that have flown inside Lynden Air Cargo’s Hercules. The C-130 was put into service last year when a private aircraft was damaged upon landing in Nome, AK.
“The owner needed to get it out of that remote spot and down to a repair facility in Henderson, NV,” explains Lynden Air Cargo Sales Manager Bob Barndt.
After investigating a complicated barge route to transport the plane south, Glenn Austin, Director of Quality at the repair shop VNE Jet, Inc., contacted Lynden seeking alternatives. “We had a short window of time to disassemble the plane and design and build a custom crate to transport the disassembled aircraft parts,” Glenn says. “Weight and dimensions were major concerns as well as protecting the aircraft from the environment and added damage.”
Bob and Glenn devised a plan to fly the crated Eclipse to Anchorage via Lynden Air Cargo then transfer it to a Lynden Transport van for a dedicated ride down to Nevada. Lynden crews carefully loaded and unloaded the 8,600-pound crate via forklift at each transfer point: Nome, Anchorage and Henderson.
Glenn has heard a few horror stories of aircraft that were repairable only to be destroyed in recovery shipping. “We have scheduled multiple aircraft transports in the past and have a track record of never adding damage, so we were very concerned when choosing a carrier,” he says. “When we uncrated the aircraft, it was great to see that it fared well without even a scratch. We were very happy with Lynden’s service.”
VNE designed the 8x8x32-foot Eclipse crate for strength and versatility. A cable was installed on both ends so it could be winched in and out of tight cargo spaces. Only 260 Eclipse aircraft were produced so it was important to the company to protect this one so it can be repaired and put back into service.
“We used many Lynden resources on this custom move,” Bob says. “If we are asked to do this type of project again, this is the model we will use. Aircraft salvage operations could be a whole new niche market for us. “
Lynden Air Cargo’s N403LC is shown here on one of the 81 aerial oil-dispersant missions Lynden flew in support of BP’s Deepwater Horizon response efforts in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year.
View from inside the plane
The first L-382G began flying missions in April, followed by the second aircraft, N401LC, in June. Both aircraft finished work in the gulf in July when the well was permanently capped. Flights operated out of Stennis International Airport in Mississippi. Chief Pilot and Captain Mike Redmon and 35 Lynden Air Cargo employees were involved in the project.
Lynden Air Cargo has helped with disaster relief all around the world, including relief flights to Haiti in early 2010 and delivering emergency supplies to Samoa and Indonesia after the earthquakes in late 2009.
There were plenty of teachable moments at Lynden Air Cargo this spring when a a high school aviation group from Chevak, Alaska, toured the facilities. Seven students and Chevak Aviation Instructor Ryan Walker learned about Lynden's operations and then toured the company's management offices, warehouse, flight operations, ramp and aircraft and maintenance building.
The group is similar to the "Build a Plane" group Lynden Air Cargo hosted last year from an Alaska rural high school.
Ryan began teaching elective aviation courses at the remote Chevak High School last fall, including an advanced class to prepare students for a private pilot written test.
"Flying is such a vital part of life out here and it's a real opportunity for these kids to make a living and help their communities in Western Alaska," he says.
The school is planning to buy a Rans S-6 kit plane students can build as part of the Build a Plane program. Ryan is also part of an effort to create a new nonprofit to put flight instructors in village schools across Alaska. AVSTEM International - short for aviation, technology, science, engineering and mathematics - will seek financial support from tribes, native corporations, school districts and other sources.
"Learning to fly improves math and science skills and gives students career choices in an industry that buzzes overhead daily," Ryan explains. Ethan Bradford, Lynden Air Cargo Manager of Technical Services, says it's always rewarding to host students. "We had a great time, and we hope it was a good experience for these young aviation cadets."