My name is Gary Langefeld and I am involved in vintage aircraft restoration. In late July of 2016, I was instrumental in selling a vintage airplane located at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio to a gentleman in Melbourne, Australia. The aircraft was an award winning, very valuable and rare 1942 Beech Staggerwing D17S, a single engine closed cockpit biplane that carries 5 people.
PROBLEM: How was the new owner, who lives in Melbourne, going to get his precious Staggerwing to Australia? It is nearly impossible to fly a single engine airplane from the U.S. to Australia for quite a number of reasons. I offered to give the new owner an estimate of costs to ship the aircraft door to door from Cincinnati, Ohio to Wangaratta, Australia, and the owner agreed.
SOLUTION: I contacted Mike Morgera at Musca Shipping Company and asked him to meet with me and take a look at my problem. We met at the hangar where the airplane was housed and I said: ``I'd like to ship this airplane to Australia. It is very valuable and very fragile... it's covered with fabric which can easily be punctured and must be wrapped in flannel before packing.`` Mike didn't even flinch. He responded by saying that he didn't see any big problems to speak of.
I estimated my costs to disassemble the aircraft and supervise the packing and crating. Mike assembled his costs to crate and ship to Australia. The two were added and the customer was contacted with a final cost for door to door shipping. The quotation was approved by the customer on August 18th.
THE PROCESS BEGINS: The disassembly process went smoothly enough...actually a little faster than we thought. We were way ahead of Musca, time wise. After the wings were removed we found that the tail section was too wide to fit the container... we proceeded to remove the entire tail section. Mike and I made a final measurement and discovered the fuselage was still 6`` too wide to fit in a standard 40' ocean going container. This slowed us down to Mike's pace. The wings and all other components were being wrapped in flannel, stretch wrap and packed in custom fabricated crates lined with 4`` of soft foam and 4`` of dense foam for ultimate protection.
Meanwhile, hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the U.S. closing all ports including the ones Musca was intending to use prior to going through the Panama Canal. Mike checked out Baltimore and found another solution. Baltimore shippers saw cargo backing up and decided to price gouge, dramatically increasing our shipping costs. Mike looked at Charleston. He got some satisfaction there. Then, a hurricane came up the eastern seaboard.
We still had to reduce the width of the fuselage and the only way to do that was to raise the landing gear. Musca's people went to work designing a cradle to support the airplane with its landing gear up. They fabricated it in their shop and the whole thing now fit in a standard 40' container. The work was impressive.
We were anticipating the ports reopening... guess what? Along came Hurricane Rita!
Mike Morgera went to work again. The two containers were now going by rail from Cincinnati to Los Angeles, loading on a ship and sailing for Melbourne with a stop in Singapore. Mike held the costs to the original quotation. The shipment was due in Melbourne on November 21st.
I received word in December that the containers had arrived at Wangaretta. All of the crates and the fuselage were unloaded and opened. My client was extremely pleased to discover that every single part of the aircraft arrived safely and in excellent condition. Not one scratch, not one scuff! He commented: ``I have never seen anything so well and efficiently packed in all my experience with international shipping.``
The hard work performed by the staff at Musca Shipping Company paid off! I am convinced that the two containers with all the parts for a 1942 Beech Staggerwing airplane arrived safely in Wangaratta Australia because of the attention to detail from start to finish by the enthusiastic staff of Musca Shipping Company.
Without the tenacity and creativity of the people at Musca, this project would never have been accomplished. Thank you Mike Morgera and all the people who helped make this project a success!``
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