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Project Details.

An Initial Informal Narrative of Some Project Mechanics.
Updated 13 December 2017:  I updated all content from the beginning to the editing advisory note within the text and will continue this work.  But all this material will also be restructured into categories which are more efficient to use as soon as practical.

Site Studies:

Our team has partially studied a modest set of site location and logistics options.  An area adjacent to Shintomi Nyutabaru has progressed to the level of multiple conversations with local officials.  We've also studied Oita Airport and its surrounding area as a potential site for transferring the aircraft from an airport to a barge or similar ship (the initial exploration and bulk of the Oita study and an important transport study were performed by superbly capable team member Ueda-san).  These are exploratory conversations and studies - fully thorough studies have not been completed, nor have overall logistics selection decisions been made, nor draft proposals composed, and no commitments have been made by any parties.  However, important preliminary work is progressing.

Shintomi:  At this time a location adjacent to Shintomi Nyutabaru is our primary focus in part because it appears to offer the least challenging transport logistics.  It's very straightforward and quite economical since the aircraft can simply land at the airport and then be towed to the adjacent final site by a relatively ordinary airport vehicle.  A fence would have to be dismantled and then rebuilt, a very low cost element.  Otherwise no special nor expensive transport elements are required.  Shintomi Nyutabaru's fighter jet flights are noisy but also fascinating - they are extreme performance aircraft and, viewed with a peacetime perspective, quite inspiring.  The environment is rural and beautiful and might be relatively free of corrosive salt air.  The location is rather distant from any other social or business activity sites - it's almost solely farm country. It's not served by a nearby train station and too remote for most bicyclists, so transport by car is generally the only practical means to access the site.

Nonetheless I find Shintomi very appealing.  And I believe the site offers an important civic opportunity:  The 747 home could be used as a very engaging venue to connect citizens with SDF members in a unique environment.  Possibilities include regular "Party with Hot Dog Jet Pilots" days in which citizens and students of all ages could be free to socialize with SDF people in the 747 home, creating friendships and understanding of our mutual interest in maintaining peace in a complex world.  A robust connection of trust and understanding between citizens and the SDF is of course very important for the country, and in my view the 747 home should be utilized as another tool to nurture that connection.  My hope is that Shintomi Nyutabaru people will find Concert on a Wing events appealing enough to attend many of them too, and thus leverage another opportunity to nurture connections with citizens.

Nichinan / Nango:  Three separate sites in Nichinan are were explored too.  My first impression is that the southern most site, Nango Town District Port, is the only one which is practical for transport logistics.  It's an intriguing site in a broad ocean port area yet essentially within Nango city, and on relatively high ground and thus highly visible to a significant portion of Nango's residents, businesses, and port traffic.  It's also adjacent to a small public park.  So it offers quite unique advantages and deserves further study.  The aircraft would have to be barged to the site though (perhaps from Oita Airport), and thus transport would be more complex and expensive.  But this site offers a more intimate connection to a small city than others and is thus quite interesting.  In my view beautification of the site and surrounding area would enhance the popularity of the 747 home to the city's citizens - if well rendered the site and surrounding area might become quite popular as a place for individuals and families to relax, socialize, and in some measure recreate.  My sense is that development of the area would require an extended period of time (due primarily to ordinary civic budget limitations), but it has sound fundamentals and thus considerable potential.

Aoshima / Kodomo no Kuni:  A site in or adjacent to Kodomo no Kuni very near the gorgeous small island of Aoshima, which is adorned by a charming shrine and connected to shore by a short foot bridge, is also being studied.  It's immensely appealing in many respects - it's a recreational beach area and popular social environment which attracts all ages, though perhaps most especially young adults, and home of appealing beach related stores, restaurants, hotels, and of course Kodomo no Kuni itself, a recreation park for young kids.  Efficient public train and highway transportation are both within very easy walking distance as well. It would be a superb location for Concert on a Wing events in my estimation.  However itÕs a salt air environment so corrosion of the aircraft is a serious concern.  And like the Nango site the aircraft would have to be barged from an airport and then towed from the barge over raw beach and then erosion control concrete structures to the site, so transport would be complex and expensive.  However in my estimation transport is sufficiently feasible - my primary concern is metal corrosion.

General Commentary:
(Will be restructured into categories soon.)

Currently we face four fundamental challenges:

1.  We must illustrate all aspects of the project to the bureaucracy and all interested people in a manner which inspires confidence, excitement, and a clear sense of value - we must provide a compelling story which convinces almost everyone that the project will be executed very well and will be good for the community and its people, and thus deserves their support.

2.  A home site must be located and secured.  It must be within clear towing distance from an airport or a barge accessible location.  And if a beach related location ideally have offshore prevailing winds.  Then we must design and fabricate landing gear support structures with a tsunami related tethering system, retractable access stairs and ramps, and electrical, water, and sewer service stanchions on the home site.

3.  An aircraft must be secured and flown to an airport in Kyushu.  Then its flammable or toxic fuel and hydraulic fluids must be well drained, its engines removed by proper service procedure (unless old and thus of no flight value), and engine conduits sealed.  (A nontoxic substitute fluid should replace the original hydraulic fluid.)

4.  We must devise transport and site preparation logistics which will be safe, efficient, economical, reliable, minimally inconvenient to others, and minimally damaging to the environment.  And those logistics must inspire exceptionally high confidence in Airport officials.  We must then execute the move flawlessly.

It's a big project.  But we can do these things.

I had more than sufficient liquid assets to fund the project in late 2014, including contingency funding, but subsequent personal stock investment losses rendered me unable to simply purchase an aircraft and land outright with cash.  However in 2017 I substantially restored my asset positions so once again I'm able to execute this project with cash.  I'm still eager to create a partnership with an interested airline but that's no longer required to execute this project.  Nonetheless we must avoid monetary waste in part because efficiency of execution is a very important element of establishing credibility for this vision.

I'm very confident that an efficiently and elegantly executed project will prove to be a superb use of money and trust - I believe all partners will be very happy with the benefits they derive from any resources dedicated to this project.

I also believe very deeply in the fundamental value of the project - I feel it's strikingly worthy in many important respects and might spawn a new global industry.  And I believe I can articulate the many positive elements of the story well and reasonably dispel concerns (demo Eigo de dake - futsu wa Nihongo de dekinai, sumimasen).

But many aspects of this project will be challenging.  Yet we all seek to associate with something special in life - connections with unique and exciting projects or adventures give us a profoundly necessary sense of accomplishment, dignity, and fulfillment - they enable us to breathe with a sense of pride.  So as we struggle with tough challenges we'll know in our hearts that the effort required to tenaciously forge them into successes will be well worth it.

However I don't mean to portray the project as more difficult than it actually is.  Viewed in basic terms we must simply fly a 747-400 to a suitable airport, drain or replace its fluids, transport it to the home site and onto pre-built landing gear support structures, remove its engines, and finally attach electricity, water, and sewer using the normal Boeing ramp connectors.  While not easy, this is an achievable project and in its simplest conceptual form it's rather straightforward.  Ultimately this project offers more reward than challenge - it's a beneficially asymmetrical project.  And I bring experience to this endeavor - in most significant respects I've done this before.

Nippon's last commercial 747-400 was evidently destroyed for components and scrap metal in Tupelo, Mississippi, USA about two years ago, so a native JAL or ANA 747-400 will not be available for this project, alas.  So I'll seek a 747-400 from another country which can be retired with a last flight to Nippon or ferried.  A promotional partnership with the original airline will be considered as well.  Alternately I may be willing to over-paint the aircraft in JAL or ANA colors, in partnership with them of course, but with a vigorously open acknowledgment that the Nippon motif is not meant to suggest it was an ANA or JAL bird, but simply to honor the heritage of Nippon's profound historic connection with the very special 747.

Initial modest studies of logistics for transport from an airport to a remote home site such as the Aoshima area via fireworks barges have been conducted, but at this time the site weÕre primarily focused upon is adjacent to Shintomi Nyutabaru, and thus airport to home site transport logistics are exceptionally easy.

The aircraft's flammable and toxic fluids must be drained at the destination airport because it's the best equipped location for such service and it renders the aircraft safer for all subsequent activities.  Regulations might prohibit use or the fuel in other aircraft.  If so an alternate use, such as farm tractors, will have to be identified.  A sufficient holding tank will be required to house the fuel until distributed to alternate use vehicles or other destinations.  Similarly a suitable holding tank will also be required for the hydraulic fluid.  And we need to identify its fate - my guess is that regulations will prohibit aircraft use of the fluid, and due to its toxicity it's probably not suitable for use by any public entity.  Perhaps provisions for recycling the fluid already exists at the airport, but we must verify this and insure that those provisions are of sufficient capacity.

It may also be necessary to either remove several wing tank cover panels or inert the fuel tanks with nitrogen to eliminate the possibility of a fuel vapor explosion.  This needs to be considered very carefully since empty tanks can be a maximum explosion hazard - if ordinary air mixes with fuel vapor they are effective a vapor phase chemical bomb which any spark discharge could ignite.  My guess is that removal of tank cover panels substantially reduces the danger by providing relatively safer explosion pressure venting, but of course removal of the panels is a mechanical process and thus could create a spark.  Expert advice is needed to address this serious safety issue.  We must also discuss the environmental impact of the fuel vapors as the tanks slowly dry (including fuel which vaporizes from within internal materials over a very lengthy time (months at least) before dropping to insignificant levels).

13 December 2017:  The rest of the material on this page has not been updated yet.  Please bear with me as I continue to update and refine this commentary:

The aircraft's engines must be removed by proper service procedure at Miyazaki Kuukou as well assuming they have significant economic value, which is likely.  All engine related conduits must then be fully sealed.

A search for a suitable home site is under way.  I believe it's necessary to consider sites which are rather distant from Miyazaki as acceptable due to the difficulty of finding a more intimate site.  If the project captures people's imagination to the extent I think likely, they'll travel to it in significant measure, especially for special events.  And an efficiently and elegantly executed project might spawn more, perhaps including one much closer to central Miyazaki.  Design and construction of home site infrastructure should be relatively straightforward if water, sewer, and electrical service are available nearby.  However, detailed infrastructure planning awaits location of a home site.

An important home site consideration is tsunami or typhoon flood resistance, for which I offer this initial appraisal: Consider the dimensioned drawing from Boeing in their 747-400 Airport Planning Specs document, page 27.  The bottom of the fuselage stands 2.16 to 2.47 meters above the base of the landing gear tires.  The cargo bay floor stands 2.73 to 3.13 meters above the base of the tires.  The main cabin floor stands 4.75 to 5.2 meters above the base of the tires.  The upper cabin floor stands 7.55 to 7.94 meters above the base of the tires.  The maximum numbers will likely be utilized since the aircraft will contain comparatively very little fuel and, generally, minimal cargo and human load, and the landing gear struts will be inflated to near maximum extension.  It might also be suitable to utilize very roughly half meter high pillars to support the landing gear.  If so 50 cm should be added to all the figures above to give heights above ground level.

That suggests the floor of the upper deck would stand about 8.44 meters above the ground, a considerable height.

But the larger safety benefit will derive from the sealed nature of the aircraft itself.  Jetliner cabins are sealed pressure canisters - stated generally, the cabins of intact aircraft do not leak.  In fact they do leak slightly if not actively pressurized.  But only modestly, which suggests a suitable pump could reliably bail water faster than it would leak in, and thus keep the entire interior, including the cargo bays, almost completely dry.  Or the cabin could be pressurized enough to force all seals to close as they do in ordinary flight.  Or both.

A danger is that outside debris, if pushed by water currents with sufficient force, might puncture the fuselage, in which case leakage might become profuse.  So in my view it would be wise to install a robust pump, one capable of bailing a rather substantial flow of water, plus a long endurance and well protected internal power source.  A native axillary tank should be utilized for fuel (not the largest tanks, such as the wing tanks - they're unnecessarily large and important for flotation).  It should be sealed and filled with fuel which is dedicated to an emergency generator which would serve multiple needs, including a robust submersible water pump located in a cargo bay slightly below floor level.  Location of the emergency generator should be quite high, or in a highly protected but ventilated location which would reliably remain dry.  In my estimation locating it high in the vertical tail might prove to be the most practical design.

The aircraft will be allowed some flexibility so that it can easily withstand even the most powerful earthquakes or some water born tsunami or typhoon debris, yielding somewhat to unusually strong forces to minimize damage.  So each landing gear pillar should have a bowl shaped top to allow the aircraft to roam a bit during an earthquake or typhoon, and include an angled lever type tethering column which would allow the aircraft to rise on top of tsunami water and remain flexible for maximum waterborne debris damage resistance, but not drift away.  The system would return the aircraft to its pillars as the water recedes.  The electrical, water, and sewer service cables and conduits and their support stanchions must be both flexible and automatically stress detachable (this isn't a substantial challenge).

Dry earthquakes and typhoon winds are of minimal concern.  The aircraft was superbly designed to withstand far greater forces of impact and winds.  Flooding is the only significant danger, and this project will be designed to manage floods very reliably, providing a lifeboat refuge for local people.

Due to salt air exposure, corrosion management logistics are an important consideration.  Certain especially vulnerable areas, such as the entire landing gear mechanisms and engine mount infrastructure, will require additional protective coatings which must be applied promptly after site arrival.  And a land site with offshore prevailing winds is highly preferable.  But in any case perfect corrosion prevention won't be possible - the aircraft will, sadly, have a limited life in a salt air environment.  I need to study this issue further.  However, I don't consider it a serious threat to the viability of this project at this time.

I'm more grateful than I can express for the support already building around this project.  More must be generated of course, until we achieve a tangible sense of traction and momentum - until then we're still just grasping for a secure foothold.  But I do feel hopeful - my sense is that we have a good start based upon an at least partially shared vision.  I hope we can build upon that until we're in full motion, with nothing left but to actually push all the physical pieces into position.

If we execute this with elegance, skill, and economic efficiency, using a full bird (but sans engines), in my view the results will be truly inspiring.  And may lead to some remarkable changes in humanity's utilization of these superb aerospace castles.

And therein lies opportunity for ambitious and vigorous people with exploratory hearts and clear, unimpeded vision...

Bruce Campbell

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