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   Vol. 16 No. 55
Tuesday June 27, 2017

Riders In The Sky
Riders In The Sky
      We were thinking about shipping horses recently just as the third leg of America’s Triple Crown occurred at The Belmont in New York City on Saturday, June 10 (The Kentucky Derby & Preakness have already taken place).
      Above Belmont, giant Emirates A380s arrive on final into John F. Kennedy International Airport, just near the tracks.
      The horse shipment is the oldest gag in air cargo.
      In the early days of air cargo, flaks ran to the airport pressroom every time horses were on the manifest.
      At Idlewild International Airport in New York City  (today JFK International) that meant an obligatory first stop at the JFK Animal Shelter next to the old Cargo Building 80, where horses were properly looked after as they moved in and out of the gateway.
      At the animal shelter, reporters could get the latest scoop from Bill Gillen, who ran the place from a second floor office complete with an old steel desk that opened up to pop out a manual typewriter.
      But Bill never typed, so in a very early example of adaptive reuse, Bill replaced the typewriter with a full bar.
      In between shipments and on long rainy nights or during midwinter permafrost, out popped the magic desk. While the horses munched their oats and readied for their airborne adventure, many typewriters clacked with the deftless prose of airport reports from well-lubricated members of the fourth estate weaving yet another unforgettable tale of the horse.
      In the old days when freighters had reciprocating piston pounders for engines, handlers would actually back the animals onto a Lockheed Constellation of Seaboard World or Pan Am.
      Up a narrow ramp that looked like a pig run went the giant animals.
      Horses, as you may know, are rather easily spooked, and riding an airplane was not much in vogue with our four-legged friends (and our guess is it remains the same even today).

Emirates Moves 100

Riders In The Sky      All of that brings us to the latest horse gag from Emirates SkyCargo. Recently, EK moved nearly 100 thoroughbred horses.
      But what a different ride it was in 2017. The stallions came to the airport in gleaming, temperature-controlled vans and handled in individual roomettes complete with grooms.
      The horses were transported from Liege, Belgium, to compete in the first three legs of the Longines Global Champions Tour in Mexico City, Miami, and Shanghai.
      EK operated a total of 10 dedicated freighter flights each carrying 25 horse stalls to transport the equine champions and their grooms.
      Here is a fond musical salute from someone you may have never heard before.
      In 1949, artist Vaughn Monroe sung this tune and it topped the hit parade charts, becoming the number one song in America.
      These days, every time we see another horse shipment arriving from places well travelled or taking off for somewhere yet to be discovered, the soundtrack that comes to mind is the eerie call of  “Riders In The Sky,” and we are brought back to the sweet, slight Irish voice of Bill Gillen entreating us to relax, the lamp is lit.

Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend •
Film Editor-Ralph Arend • Special Assignments-Sabiha Arend, Emily Arend • Advertising Sales-Judy Miller

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