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."
When Lynden Air Cargo finished its projects in Democratic Republic of Congo last year it decided to give back to the people of Uganda. Using proceeds from the sale of surplus equipment, Lynden Air Cargo Director of Maintenance James Schneider contacted Godfrey Kitagena, General Manager of Air Serv, a Lynden partner, to find a worthy non-profit organization.
Godfrey found a school taking care of orphaned children, Children Safe Uganda, and used the money to buy and donate food items and bedding. "We delivered the donations to the school in Kajjansi," he says. "We bought rice, beans, rice flour, cooking oil, blankets, mattresses and bar soap for the school which houses approximately 450 students. From what we saw and heard, the donation was very timely and the teachers and students were deeply grateful for the donation, especially during the pandemic. Everyone appreciated Lynden's generosity and kindness."
Children Safe Uganda, formerly Bweya Children's Home, opened in 1968. It serves orphaned and abandoned children and those needing rehabilitation.
It was an unusual request. Instead of needing a quote or information, Peter Kite of the U.K. sent a message to the One Lynden customer service group to find out about the specific green paint code used on Lynden's 1954 Kenworth tractor No. 27. The iconic truck pioneered truck service to Alaska on the Alcan and is now a rolling museum. Customer Care Manager Barbie Hemphill fielded Peter's question and sent back the PMS paint number and a variety of information about the truck and the Lynden companies.
"As I live 5,000 plus miles from you in Southern England, I am never going to be a customer, so I fully understand if you are unable to help me, as you need to concentrate on real customers," he wrote in an early email to Barbie.
Now retired, Peter was a driver, logistics manager and supply chain consultant during his long international transportation career. His hobby is building 1:25 scale American semi-trucks.
"On one of my trawls seeking details on 1950s Kenworths I came across No. 27," Peter says. "The pictures resurfaced last year when I was developing ideas for two 1950s Kenworths, one a low-mount and the other a high-mount, the latter becoming No. 27. It had its derv (British term for diesel) tank mounted on top of the chassis, a configuration which I had yet to build. It would be a challenge, as well as fitting with my interest in trucks running the Alcan."
Peter's collection includes 58 1:25 scale trucks built over 46 years. "I build mostly U.S. trucks but also make British Lorries in 1:50 scale," he says. "I started building in 1974 as a relaxation from my day job in transport, hence building U.S. trucks rather than British ones as I was dealing with them at work."
Peter's model of No. 27 is painted in the correct Lynden green paint specification and is 12 inches long. "I hope you enjoy the end result," Peter writes in a final email to Lynden. "Many thanks again for your invaluable help. I could not have done it as well without you."
In what has become an annual tradition, Samaritan's Purse and its Operation Christmas Child project received a helping hand from Alaska Marine Lines and Lynden Transport. According to Andy Collins, Service Center Manager in Kenai, the Lynden team arranged for trailers to be dropped off at the Samaritan's Purse hangar at Soldotna Airport. Additional trailers were positioned in Fairbanks and Juneau. The trailers are then transported to Anchorage Baptist Temple and on to Fife, WA for final distribution overseas. The shoeboxes are filled with gifts and sent to underprivileged children in over 100 countries. "Lynden's contributions have an effect on thousands of children who receive the shoeboxes each year during the holidays," says Program Coordinator Craig Farris, President of Expressway Transportation, a partner in the project for the last 15 years.
Lynden Logistics supports humanitarian, relief and health programs in many challenging, underdeveloped corners of the world. As a global freight forwarder, Lynden serves as a logistics partner for customers by simplifying complex logistics requirements during health crises and natural disasters.
In Seattle, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center works with Lynden to help meet its goals of researching and fighting cancer globally, including low- and middle-income countries, as well as supporting COVID research efforts today. Lynden coordinates and ships materials and supplies to Uganda and other destinations to support the Global Oncology group and laboratories within its research group in Uganda.
Fred Hutch is just one customer of many that Lynden Logistics’s Global Health and Humanitarian group is attracting during the COVID crisis. “This part of our business is growing, and we are receiving praise from our customers,” says Lynden Logistics President John Kaloper. “We are proud to be associated with these life-saving medical and research groups, and Fred Hutch is a recognized leader in this field.”
Lynden’s ability to call upon the multimodal capabilities of its sister companies for air, sea or surface transportation allows customers to trim costs, set reliable timetables and budgets and take advantage of knowledgeable, experienced planning resources. “Our experience with global transportation and logistics means that we take on the challenges of this type of coordination so U.S. government agencies like FEMA, USAID, multi-national companies, non-profit organizations, and other businesses can concentrate on assisting those in need,” Kaloper explains.
Lynden’s recent work includes the shipping and warehousing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from China, temperature-controlled shipping of frozen COVID test kits, movement of biological material for use in the search for a Coronavirus vaccine, and handling other fragile and sensitive freight for global customers.
Earlier this year Lynden Logistics' Wendy Pavlik, Dave McGeath and Ollie Ladd had to keep calm and carry on while waiting out a blocked ocean shipment to Lebanon for nonprofit partner Hearts in Motion.
A full container-load of donated medical supplies, including walkers, bandages and wheelchairs, was loaded in Schererville, IN destined for Lebanon. Unfortunately, as the shipment was enroute, protestors shut down government and blockaded streets in Lebanon. Wendy and Dave kept in close touch with their contacts at Hearts in Motion to let them know that they were doing all they could to resolve the restricted shipment.
The container was consigned to the Government of Lebanon but protesters targeted anyone in the government as part of the corruption problem, so none of the government officials that normally would release the container from the port were in a position to do so. After three months of effort, an inside diplomatic contact secured approval to take delivery of the container and distribute the contents.
"The end result is that our professional perseverance provided the support our customer needed. The work Lynden employees do to serve challenging international locations keeps the Lynden name high above all others," Ollie says.
Lynden Training Center's Tyler Bones and Don Werhonig traveled to Sainshand, Mongolia last year to teach HazMat Operations Training to 67 students representing National and Local Emergency Management Agencies (NEMA and LEMA), the Mongolian Railroad and military personnel. The training and exercises were coordinated by the U.S. Army Pacific as a way to coordinate interagency response, humanitarian assistance and improve the Mongolian first responder's ability to conduct response activities. Both Don and Tyler volunteered for the trip supported by Lynden.
"We were asked to be involved in this exercise and exchange because of our experience with transportation, hazardous materials response and training. The State of Alaska's sister country is Mongolia, which is why they reached out to Alaska participants," Tyler explains. The Mongolian Railroad connects Russia and China and hazardous freight is hauled through Mongolia daily. The local fire departments have very limited training on handling a hazardous materials incident, so Tyler and Don prepared them for a potential disaster involving a railroad incident that releases hazardous materials into a community.
The exercise and training was not only attended by U.S. and Mongolian personnel, there were also representatives from Japan, Australia, Kazakhstan and 20 other countries.
"For me, Mongolia drew several parallels to the way we live our lives here in Alaska. The people work hard, have a passion for emergency response, and take their jobs very seriously. I made long term friends while working there."
"They are protecting their communities with minimal equipment, old apparatus and huge hearts," Tyler says. "This training has reminded us that professional emergency responders exist throughout the world." Lynden Training Center is available to provide remote training worldwide, but this was the most remote location ever visited by the trainers.
Jim Davis, Lynden Air Cargo Vice President of Commercial Operations, joined Director of Compliance and Government Contracts Samantha Davis and Customer Service Manager Dani Myren to share Lynden Air Cargo's capabilities with representatives from the mining and construction industries and members of the U.S. Embassy in Ghana, Africa last month. Samantha Davis is pictured above with some of the attendees. Around 30 people gathered at Air Ghana's offices for an informational reception. "Coordinating an event like this in Africa was a new experience for us, and we were delighted to see such a variety of regional organizations interested in learning more about Lynden Air Cargo," says Dani. Lynden Air Cargo has a maintenance base in Accra, Ghana.
During the trip, a handmade Alaska Kuspuk was presented to one of Air Ghana's staff for her assistance to Lynden Air Cargo during a previous trip. Jim is presenting the gift to her in the photo to the right.
Lynden Logistics wrapped up a project this fall assisting one of the largest U.S. government contractors as they upgrade naval base facilities worldwide. Starting in January, Lynden's Seattle and Miami teams started moving 11 oversized modules from Pennsylvania to Florida for barge transport to locations in the Caribbean.
"The huge loads required permits and night travel to minimize impact," says Senior Account Executive Eric Klunder. "They also required top secret escorts for barge travel and other special procedures due to military protocol." Eric relied on sister company Alaska West Express and Sales Manager Jim Earl to review the project specifications. Jim and his team are considered the experts in heavy haul and military assignments.
Lynden also arranged air charters to deliver a variety of construction materials to naval base sites. "We set up five charters from Miami using a Saab 340-A prop plane and four charters using 737s for heavier items," Eric says.
International Operations Agent Michael Redmond and District Manager Sulaisa Rejo (pictured to the right) received the freight, consolidated it onto pallets and transferred it to the Miami airport for transport. The shipments contained lumber, concrete, caulking, epoxies and other chemicals that required dangerous goods paperwork and 'safety data sheets' for air clearance. Some of the materials required repacking and screening. All dangerous goods declarations were filed for the airlines and the flights were ready for takeoff.
The last 737 charter included something a little extra from Lynden's Seattle team. "Over the many months we worked with these customers, we heard that they had few creature comforts at their remote work site," says Kristina Jordan, District Operations Manager in Seattle. "We thought it would be nice to send them a little treat, so we had Sulaisa buy several boxes of Dunkin' Donuts for them."