Overnight Sensation Page 3
Part 3: From the vantage point of the crowd on the tarmac, it looked like the highest part of the boat-cradle combo was not going to make it!
By Capt. Bill Pike — December 2004
One of Beyel’s riggers counterattacked. He ran over and complained about the Russians’ silly obsession with the nearness of the cranes to the airplane. “These Russkies don’t understand nothin’,” he charged, “which is one of the reasons why our country’s number one and theirs ain’t!”
Fortunately, the whole world loves ice cream. The welcome spirit of détente soon descended upon the project thanks, I’d say, to a brief lunch break enlivened by free Klondike bars, courtesy of Signature Flight Support. Then, at approximately 4 p.m., the two cranes began lifting both the boat and cradle together, slowly and simultaneously, eventually positioning them on the ramp—or rather on the flatcar poised to roll up the ramp into the cargo bay. The delicacy required was spellbinding. Basically, it involved three guys from Beyel: two crane operators and one rigger who was hand-signaling both. Toward the end, head honcho “Super Dave” Mandich turned to me and announced proudly, “Guess you figured out by now, the word drop just ain’t in our vocabulary.”
One final burst of excitement came about 6 p.m. Litschauer and I stood together watching as the Russians slathered the rails with grease and began slowly and carefully winching the Sun Sport into the airplane. At the halfway point, however, an awful question began to assail the assemblage: Had either Polet Cargo Airlines (the owner/operator of the 124) or Sea Ray made a ghastly miscalculation? From the vantage point of the crowd on the tarmac, it looked like the highest part of the boat-cradle combo was not going to make it!
All was well, though. Eventually a loftier vantage point, gained by dispatching a lookout to poke his head through the shrink wrap near the high port, produced a collective sigh of relief. The cargo bay accepted the Sun Sport with the calculated clearance: two inches.
The Antonov hit the trail for Spain not long after. Right on schedule.
Sea Ray Boats ( (800) SRBOATS. www.searay.com.
This article originally appeared in the November 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.