Ten UVU Aviation Science students spent their Fall break in Memphis, Tennessee getting a Behind-the-Scenes VIP Tour of the Fed Ex facility and operation.
The students were given inside information on how the entire Fed Ex system operates, including tours of the Fed Ex tower, the ATC radar control rooms, the Global Operations Center, the flight scheduling labs and numerous other facility tours. They also had Q&A sessions with high ranking Fed Ex executives. “It was amazing to watch how professional their whole operation really is,” said Mike Degener, a Senior from Kaysville, Utah. “This trip really exceeded my expectations as a future pilot. I want to work there!”
Blake Sudweeks, a member of the UVU Aviation Advisory Committee and himself a Fed Ex Captain, was the tour organizer and leader. “These UVU students are just beginning their flying careers and I wanted them to see what the pinnacle looked like,” he said. “This is Mount Everest. These kids are seeing the largest, most efficiently run airline in the world.”
At 11pm on the first night in Memphis, the group was allowed in the Fed Ex tower where they watched the beginning of the “nighttime sort” as 152 Fed Ex aircraft began arriving from all over the world. Those planes were quickly unloaded, their cargo sorted by 7,000 workers (12,000 during Christmas) utilizing 3,700 motorized vehicles along with 290 total miles of conveyor belts. Then all 152 aircraft were reloaded and airborne again by 5:00am. Fed Ex officials said approximately 675,000 packages and 750,000 Fed Ex letters were transferred during that particular nighttime sort.
“They were landing planes from both East and West on the same runway just a minute apart,” said Linsey Nelson, a Junior from Bountiful. “And it happens every single night, that’s the amazing thing,”
The next day the group was allowed a rare close up hands-on tour of a beautiful new Boeing 777. The huge aircraft is the newest addition to the Fed Ex family and provided some jaw-dropping sights for the students. “The cargo bay is big enough to have a game of football,” said Jeremy Stutz, a Junior from Salt Lake City. “And sitting down at the controls of the most advanced cargo carrier in the world was just a thrill.”
Perhaps the highlight of the trip for these future pilots was the chance to actually “fly” in one of eight Fed Ex flight simulators. The simulators are actual aircraft cockpits mounted on hydraulic lifts and fitted with state of the art graphic displays and computer systems giving the operator a chance to train Fed Ex pilots in every situation imaginable. Referred to as “The most expensive video game in the world” the multi-million dollar simulator was an instant hit with the group. The UVU students took turns at the controls of a full-scale cockpit of an MD-11 aircraft. The sim operator was able to give them a variety of views and challenges. One group took off from Memphis in 40mph winds… did a touch and go in Hong Kong… buzzed the Eiffel Tower in Paris…. flew through a thunderstorm in New York harbor… then landed in the fog back in Memphis… all in the space of 30 minutes.
“Oh yeah, the simulator was by far the coolest thing ever,” said Emma Pitts, a Sophomore from Anchorage. “They didn’t throw any flaming engines and control failures at us though!”
Students making the trip were Jyrl Clegg, Jeremy Dalley, Mike Degener, Tree Gore, Jordan Hermansen, Heather Lombard, Eric Nance, Linsey Nelson, Emma Pitts and Jeremy Stutz.
The trip was conceived and planned by the UVU Aviation Advisory Committee. Future trips for additional students are under consideration by the Committee.
PICTURES…. PICTURES….. Some really cool pics (and videos) of the trip can be seen by CLICKING HERE. (Tip: to see larger pics, click on “Slideshow” in the upper right corner)