One of the most fascinating types of commercial trucking is heavy hauling. Most big objects, such as multistory buildings, are built on-site. However, the outdoors isn’t a suitable environment for building other big things such as large machines or specialized structures. They’re built indoors at point A, and then transported to point B via heavy hauler trucking. Many of the biggest of these operations are logistical masterpieces.
One of the heaviest things ever moved by road freight was a 4891 ton (9.8 million pounds) evaporator unit for a desalination plant in Saudi Arabia. Heavy haul trucking has made many technological marvels possible, such as cold war spy and reconnaissance planes, and the spacecraft used in manned space flight. Here are two of the most notable heavy hauls:
The SR-71 Reconnaissance Plane
The SR-71 was America’s answer to the shoot down of Francis Gary Powers’ U-2 spy plane over the Soviet Union in 1960. The SR-71 cruised at mach 3.2 at 85,000 feet. It is said that its speed and altitude were so extreme, that by the time it was picked up on radar and targeted by a missile, it was already out of range. During its 25 years of service, it was never shot down by a missile or other means, though many attempts were made.
During the 1960s, the SR-71 was hauled via heavy hauler trucking between Burbank and Palmdale, California. For security reasons, it was completely encased so that it couldn’t be viewed by people on the ground or by orbiting satellites.
The Space Shuttle Endeavor
The space shuttle Endeavor was the fifth and last shuttle built. It was decommissioned in 2011 after its final flight. In 2012, it was flown piggybacked on top of a 747 jet from Edwards Air Force Base to the Los Angeles International Airport. From there, it was heavy hauled 12 miles to the California Science Center.
Hauling the 170,000-pound craft with wings spanning six highway lanes through the streets of Los Angeles was no mean feat. This move required a lot of planning and route preparation. About 400 trees were removed, power lines were raised, and traffic signals were taken out. There were many tight squeezes where the wing tips cleared trees and buildings with minimal room to spare. The effort required a team of engineers and a 160-wheeled carrier.
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