Moving Experience

Cover Story Moving Experience Lektro Inc.'s rise to the role as the official tug of the National Business Aviation Association's Annual Static Display has provided important feedback for design engineering and customer service writes...

"One thing that comes to mind was when it was in Houston, in 1991. We called it the 'Static Display from Hell.' We're out there, it starts pouring down with rain, and in comes President Bush (George Sr.) as well as Vice President Dole, flying in on separate airplanes. They literally stop the static display — we can't move. Freeze, you're not moving — wherever you were when they arrived, that's where you stayed. This went on for about two hours during the middle of the teardown of the static display — on top of a torrential downpour. So, there we were, everyone wants to leave, we've got planes backed up all over the place, we have the airport shut down and we can't move."

He continues, "In Las Vegas, the static display had such a huge impact on the aircraft flying community in and out of Las Vegas, we were joking that planes were delayed all over the country, all over the world because one Falcon or Gulfstream was taking off with five people in it and a 747 couldn't land because we had the airport tied up."

"We had one airplane, a Gulfstream, in Atlanta that was parked on the asphalt and it sunk, the asphalt just gave way. We took two of the Lektros and hooked up to the gear and we actually extricated it out there and there were cameras and we were the 'tug of the day' to be able to get the aircraft out without having to get tow trucks and cranes in there."

"All in all, the static displays have been 'uneventful.' It's a lot of work," says Paulson, "we have a huge inventory built up prior to the show, but once the static display gets over with, after three days of show, a day to set up and a day to teardown, we go away exhausted — certainly a lot work, a lot of mental strain, but it's been interesting to be involved with the static display."

Certainly, this experience has offered Lektro the opportunity to research and develop new and /or improved features for their products.

"The NBAA static display certainly gives us the opportunity to see all the aircraft that's out there and if we need to fine tune something, it gives us hands-on experience of what the customer faces, explains Paulson. "Being able to have that many aircraft at one place at one time has certainly helped expedite our engineering processes and any kind of modifications we want to make. So it's definitely been a 'win-win' situation for us to be involved with the static display."

Lektro's first NBAA show was in 1985 and they brought a small unit that had a 15,000-lb. capacity.

"It was apparent that the NBAA category of aircraft were far bigger than this 15,000 lbs.," says Paulson. "These were okay for Learjets, King Airs, and Citations; but this was a market that had a lot larger aircraft."

So, Lektro decided to stretch the tug. Their first effort was to handle aircraft from a Hawker on down and the Hawker version became a best seller.

"As we sold more of those," Paulson continues, "customers said, 'That's great, but we need one for a Challenger.' In 1989, we built one to handle those."

Later, with Gulfstream's assistance, Lektro developed a 100,000-lb. sit-down version in 1992 to handle that range. Four years ago, Lektro came out with a model that handles 180,000 lbs. knowing the BBJ was coming out.

"The customer," says Paulson, "has been the driving factor for us."

From Mink Feeder Cart to Aircraft Tug: An Abridged History of Lektro Inc.

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