Teams pull massive 737 jet in unusual charity challenge
Teams competing in an annual charity event at the Alberta Aviation Museum will have to pull this Boeing 737 jetliner in order to win bragging rights and cash for the charity of their choice. (photo courtesy of the Alberta Aviation Museum)
Published Saturday, July 7, 2012 6:25AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 7, 2012 4:22PM EDT
A team of Edmonton firefighters pulled a 68,000-pound Boeing 737 jetliner 300 feet for a good cause to take first place at the Alberta Aviation Museum's annual Airline Pull Saturday morning.
The feat of strength saw the team take hold of a single long rope attached to the jet and pull it 300 feet in just 43.72 seconds, handily beating the Solicitor General’s Sheepdogs, who came up with a second-place time of 51.72 seconds.
In the unique charity fundraiser, teams of 20 competitors pay $200 to enter the contest. Each team is allowed two 100-foot runs, which serve as a warm-up before the all-important 300-foot race against the clock, pulling the airliner along a ramp at Edmonton's City Centre Airport.
The time to beat was 44 seconds for the 300-foot run, a record set last year.
The firefighters not only set a new record, their win also netted $1,200 for the Edmonton Fire Fighter Burn Treatment Society.
When contestants first eye up their opponent at the event, they're usually somewhat intimidated, Tom Hinderks, executive director of the Alberta Aviation Museum, told CTVNews.ca from Edmonton before the event got underway.
After all, even a team of 20 sturdy Albertans looks pretty miniscule compared to a 68,000-pound Boeing 737 jetliner, which the team will have to haul down a runway if they want to earn a payoff for the charity of their choice, and a year's worth of bragging rights.
"They're intimidated from the start, and when they get up beside it -- because most people never get up beside an airliner anymore -- it's a pretty massive piece of equipment," said Hinderks, who founded the event.
Hinderks said teams are often wowed by the sheer size of the plane, but once they get the aircraft rolling, they pick up speed quickly.
"What people forget is aircraft are designed to be light, so in spite of its size it's only 31,000 kilograms as it sits on the ramp without anyone in it and they are designed to roll because that's how we take off and land," Hinderks said.
In addition to the contestants, a volunteer airline pilot sits inside the plane to steer and operate the brake, and a volunteer ground crew is on-hand to move the plane around the tarmac.
Hinderks said to his knowledge, the Alberta Aviation Museum is the only museum with a fully operational 737 among its exhibits, and the contest provides a unique opportunity to interact with an airliner.
"It's fun, it's exciting to watch, it's going to a good cause and all the money goes to the cause...and really, how many chances does someone get in their lifetime to pull a 737?" Hinderks said.