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Crews finish Intruder installation

Crews worked more than 12 hours Thursday to give visitors to Oak Harbor a patriotic reminder of the intertwinement between the Navy and the Whidbey community: a mounted A-6 Intruder at the corner of Highway 20 and Ault Field Road.

Personnel from Chugach Industries and DEL-JIN, INC. began preparing the formidable crane at 5:30 a.m. and put the aircraft in place. The crew from Chugach had the plane rigged by 7:45 a.m. and the Intruder in the air by 8:25 a.m. DEL-JIN was contracted by Chugach to move the aircraft from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station to the site.

“They took charge in getting the permits and getting the aircraft moved to the site,” said John Ball, Chugach lifting and handling manager for the job. “The crane operator who works for DEL-JIN supported the lifting of the aircraft.”

It became painfully clear when the plane was lifted over the three poles that the fuselage would not clear the stanchions. At approximately noon, the plane was lifted off and the base mounting bolts of the two front poles were loosened to allow for just enough play.

Welders from Washington Ironworks, the Oak Harbor company that made the poles, arrived to drill larger holes and the action started up again between 1:45 and 2 p.m.

“Shortly after 4:30, all three points were sitting down firm and we put the nuts on the upper mounts,” Ball said. His crew managed the rigging and handling of gear.

The project wrapped up at 5:45 p.m..

“It was good to get it done,” Ball said. “I tell you.”

With Chugach, Larry Cook was the rigger in charge of directing the crane movement and Larry Hunt operated the rigging to manipulate the aircraft into place. Geri Braulik assisted with the line handling.

“This was certainly a huge team effort,” said Rich Bennett, Chugach project manager. “It looks great.”

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