Erickson lifts Oracle boat sails into retirement days prior to its rendezvous with destiny, on a “clear-blue-22” day, the Erickson Aircrane made its 350-mile journey from Central Point, Oregon, and lumbered into the San Francisco Bay area, flying past such national icons as Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. Its destination: San Carlos Airport in the heart of Silicon Valley. Its mission: to preserve — and make — history.
It all began last year when Erickson was asked to perform a high-profile lift job for technology titan Oracle. For more than 35 years, the Silicon Valley-based company has been a leader in database software. Over the decades that leadership has expanded to the entire stack, from servers and storage, to database and middleware, then on through applications and into the cloud.
Hardware and software advancements aside, Oracle has also used its technology and innovative spirit in areas that would seem counter-intuitive — such as sailing. Did you know that racing sailboat USA-17, designed and crewed by ORACLE TEAM USA, would make history by winning the 33rd America’s Cup in 2010 off the coast of Spain? The 90-foot by 90-foot trimaran platform was powered by a wingsail 223 feet long. For perspective, that’s bigger than the wingspan of a Boeing 747. Such a huge sail helped the multihull boat travel over two-and-a-half times prevailing wind speed.
Can we fly it?
Having secured the world’s oldest international sport trophy, USA-17 was lifted into retirement on May 10 this year by Erickson Aircrane to its final home at Oracle headquarters in Redwood City, California. The flight time from the beginning of the lift to set down was only a few minutes, but the entire job
was a year in planning. I asked Jason Weber, Erickson’s project manager, to walk me through the planning for a job like this? He said the first step begins with the basic question: can this object be flown? “We have been flying oddball things for over 40 years and this 90-foot by 90-foot racing yacht was a first for us,” said Weber. “There were many considerations to take into account. We don’t fly things just to fly them.”
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