If there was a team to beat at the annual Multiple Sclerosis Plane Pull Portland, it’s the North Berwick Operations folks working for the dependable engine company. Leading and cheering his team on is jet pull veteran Max Pelkey, an inspector in the Non-Destructive Test (NDT) section of the North Berwick plant.
“I’ve been doing this since they started in 2005," Pelkey said. "We got an email that read, ‘Do you want to pull a plane?’ It sounded crazy to me, but I said, ‘Sure!’"
The Operations team has won the past two years, and had every intention of continuing that tradition on a chilly Maine morning in June. North Berwick actually fielded two teams, as Engineering joined the ranks of the fundraising effort as well.
“We’ve got 25 people, 25 guys and girls out there who are willing to give it a shot. It all comes down to how well can you really pull an object? There’s obviously ways to pull things better. But the Operations guys have been really great, mentoring us on the strategies on how to pull something like this,” said Ryan Hanc, a project engineer.
The overall mission is to pull a FedEx Boeing 757 a short distance in the least amount of time. The Engineering team went first, and was cheered on by their Operations colleagues. In the end, the group had a respectable time of just under six seconds.
“It’s one big family. We all help each other out. This is great,” Hanc said.
By the end of the day, it was clear tradition would continue, as Operations finished with the best time of just under five seconds.
“It’s pretty intense. Plus, you got people right next to you. You have to get in a rhythm and do things right. But it’s also bragging rights, you know?” said Bobby Boucher, a thermal spray coater for the Operations team.
In the end, both Engineering and Operations leave feeling good about their efforts, as the event raised more than $24,000 to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
“Our employees come up here on their own. Everyone lives 30 minutes to an hour and a half away from here, and they come up and do this every year because they know the impact it has for a great cause. We’re Pratt & Whitney – we are who we are,” Pelkey said.