Barrett-Jackson Preparations – The Story of John Courtemanche

By: Angel MedFlight Contributor

Angel MedFlight Technician John Courtemanche

Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance is preparing for the 2013 Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction, January 13th-20th. Located at Westworld in North Scottsdale, Barrett-Jackson has hosted some of the most exotic and sought-after vehicle auctions in the world. One of our medically-configured air ambulances will be on display – the Learjet 35. But before we can get to the show, we have to take our jet down 2 miles of very public Scottsdale roads, with several tricky areas to clear our 39 foot wingspan.

Behind the transportation process is Angel MedFlight veteran technician, John Courtemanche.

Will the jet fit? John verifies measurements.

It is 7AM, cold, and the sun is beginning to make its way over the horizon of the McDowell mountains to the East. John is making his way to the Westworld entrance gates to take measurements. The entryway needs to measure a minimum of 40 feet to get the plane through. As John begins the measurement, on-lookers are attracted to the unusual activity, but it was a successful trip as John was able to determine that the wingspan would clear the gates safely.

What route is the best? John canvases the streets.

Next on the agenda, John evaluates the best route to take providing the width he needs. There are about 4 possible streets that can be accessed after leaving the Scottsdale Municipal Airport. Again, he needs at least 40 feet. After a brief consultation with the pro that arranges the “Parade of Planes,” Brian Mackin, John drives the route and looks for obstacles. Not only does the street have to be wide enough, but the wingtips will have to clear fences, signs, trees or plants along the way. After many more measurements, there will be two areas that will be a challenge the night of the parade.

What obstacles are in the way? John eliminates loose ends.

One problem after determining a route and taking measurements: the sidewalks. John will need to create ramps from the top of the sidewalk to the street (approximately 6 inches). The difference in weight distribution could negatively affect the suspension of the aircraft. “After reviewing the route several times, I know where the ramps need to be placed to make this transfer happen safely,” John said.

The payoff.

The roads will be dark and desolate. The transfer will begin at midnight and John will be accompanied by a police escort.

“The trip will be exciting,” says John. “A police escort, a jet, and at the head of the pack is me in a small tug-and-tow. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

John will be driving the “tug and tow” vehicle that will pull the massive 11,000lb Learjet 35. The “tug and tow” vehicle is approximately 6′ wide, 4′ tall, and 9′ long, weighing in heavier than the jet (about 12,000lbs).

John has a lot on his prep schedule for Barrett-Jackson. As the trusted technician of our fleet, we know the Learjet 35 is in great hands.

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