Oil fighting gear flies into Gulfport - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Oil fighting gear flies into Gulfport

By Doug Walker – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Workers at International Cargo toil in the sweltering heat, getting ready to welcome an unusual guest, one of the biggest jets in the world. 

Company vice-president  Mike Alise calls it a historic day.  "We were contracted a couple of days ago in reference to this 747 coming in this morning with equipment on it and supplies for the oil relief and we're here this morning to get that plane unloaded." Alise said.  "This is the first cargo plane to touch down here in Gulfport since this facility has been put together." 

From the horizon, the jumbo jets touches down, while all other air traffic is halted for the landing.  The 747 taxi's in closer, and the pilots emerge, after a grueling 8 hour flight from Alaska. 

After that, the cargo bays open, and it's time to unload, a process that will take several hours, according to operations manager Ryan Hollingsworth.  "We're looking at somewhere around 20 to 30 pallets, they're about 20 foot long of oil skimming equipment and oil booms."

The process is slow, and then bad news.  One of the tracks on the unloader isn't working, so good old fashioned human pushing is used.  It's backbreaking work.  

Even though the cargo facility is a commercial venture, Alise says it's good that they can help out in times of need, in times when there's oil in the Gulf.  "When something unforeseen happens like the oil spill, we're just happy that Gulfport can step up, do our part and help the community and help the entire gulf coast in this dilemma that we're faced with right now." 

And it's a dilemma that Mike and his partners hope to help alleviate, at least a little bit, in the coming days.

The equipment unloaded today will be taken by truck to Mobile.  It will then be deployed along the coast where the need is greatest.

Another cargo plan full of oil fighting gear is expected to arrive in Gulfport next Tuesday evening.

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