How Do Whales Fly?


UPS Solves Logistics Problem for Georgia Aquarium
ATLANTA, Oct. 17, 2005 - Two Beluga whales were picked up in Mexico City by UPS Airlines today and flown 1,331 miles to Atlanta for delivery to the Georgia Aquarium.

The relocation, handled jointly by the Georgia Aquarium and UPS Airlines, transferred the giant mammals from an amusement park in Mexico City.

The whales are named Nico and Gasper. Each is about 12 feet long and weighs about 1,600 pounds. A Boeing 767 cargo jet was used for the move because of the special tank dimensions and the 26,000 pounds of combined weight of tanks, water and whales.

"The movement required engineering modifications to the aircraft's load floor to handle enormous custom tanks that locked in place," said Bland Matthews, the UPS Airlines loadmaster in charge of the move. "The success of this relocation took much of the experience and training I have in aircraft loading, weight and balance as well as great teamwork."

Matthews travels the world handling special moves for UPS but usually oversees the loading of heavy equipment for military charter flights. He was pressed into service for the movement of Nico and Gasper to ensure their tanks would be secure on the plane and that the transfer could be performed safely.

The placement of Nico and Gasper inside the aircraft was computed precisely to straddle the aircraft's center of gravity. Maintaining proper balance impacted how the whales were loaded onto the plane, where their tanks were locked into place as well as the aircraft's takeoff and landing speeds.

The environmental controls on the main cargo deck were pressurized to simulate an altitude of 5,000 feet with an air temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

UPS pilots flew as high as 37,000 feet to stay above any rough weather that might have caused undue stress for the whales.

The UPS flight was flown by Capt. Bob Knight and Capt. Lou Casale, both management captains and flight training supervisors.

After landing at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the whales were unloaded and secured to a custom-designed UPS trailer for a police escort to the Aquarium. The tractor-trailer was driven by Charlie Smith, one of UPS's Circle of Honor drivers with 30 years of safe driving. The Circle is reserved for men and women who have driven for 25 years or more without an accident.