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Melton handily transports Huey helicopter from Bristow to Tulsa for space museum



Melton Truck Lines transported this Huey helicopter from Bristow, Oklahoma, to Tulsa, Oklahoma, a distance of some 40 miles. (Courtesy: MELTON TRUCK LINES)

TULSA, Okla. — The phone rings at the Melton Truck Lines office in Tulsa.

“Good morning. Melton Truck Lines. You say some manufactured steel to ship? No problem.”

It rings again.

“Good morning. Melton Truck Lines. You say you have some metal building components you need to transport? No problem.”

It rings a third time.

“Good morning, Melton Truck Lines. You say you have some HVAC equipment to ship? No problem.”

It rings yet a fourth time.

“Good morning, Melton Truck Lines. You say need to transport a Huey helicopter from Bristow to Tulsa? No problem.”

“That’s not our everyday move,” Russ Elliott, Melton’s executive vice president and chief operating officer said as he talked with a reporter for The Trucker recently about a call from the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium. “We could have moved it clear across the country, but it only had to come from Bristow, which is about 40 miles southwest of Tulsa. It wasn’t a long move, but an important one.”

The chopper Melton moved to Tulsa was actually a replacement.

Elliott said several years ago the museum acquired a Huey from somewhere in Arkansas and had it restored.

But the rotor blades got stuck in a bridge while being moved to downtown Tulsa for a Veteran’s Day parade, yanking the chopper off the trailer and destroying it.

Melton had worked with the museum in the past, including transporting a disassembled DC-3 on three trailers from Michigan to Tulsa.

The DC-3 is a fixed-wing propeller-driven airliner that revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. It has a cruise speed of 207 mph, capacity of 21 to 32 passengers and a range of 1,500 miles.

Melton Truck Lines driver Michael Maines, an Air Force veteran, poses with his driver manager Carolyn Douthat beside the trailer carrying the Huey helicopter. (Courtesy: MELTON TRUCK LINES

So when the museum called Melton, which has established a very positive relationship with Tulsa and the surrounding area, asking for assistance with the Huey, “we didn’t bat an eye. We said, ‘sure, we’ll pick it up and then bring it on in here.’ And then I went down to our safety department and said, ‘alright, go figure out how to get a helicopter on one of our step-deck trailers and get us safely here.’”

Fortunately, the helicopter was not heavy.

“It didn’t weigh a lot, but it is as wide and maybe even just an inch or two wider than our trailer width,” Elliott said. “We used a 53-foot, step-deck trailer, which some people would refer to as a single drop. And even at that it was a little over 12 feet tall.”

To make sure there would be no problems along the route from Bristow to Tulsa, Melton hired a pole car to run the route several weeks before the actual move just to make sure the truck and trailer wouldn’t have any trouble on bridges or with low-hanging wires.

Then, the carrier repeated the exercise on December 5, the day of the move.

Melton’s safety department actually went to Bristow on the day of the move, supervised the loading of the chopper and assisted the driver.

“First, they removed the rotor blades because the rotor blades on a helicopter are very flexible,” Elliott said. “They left the mast and just strapped it down by the landing gear.”

The Melton safety group then strapped down the chopper by securing the landing gear to the trailer.

“It certainly wasn’t one of those deals where we just turned a driver loose and said, ‘hey, go pick this helicopter up, bring it all up here,’” Elliott said. “We have several folks in our safety department that I consider to be genius experts when it comes to figuring out how to strap things down.”

The driver in this case was Michael Maines, an eight-year Air Force veteran who’s been with Melton four years.

The significance of transporting a Huey was not lost on Melton’s leadership, which chose the carrier’s Military Pride tractor to pull the trailer.

Huey is the nickname for the Bell UH-1 Iroquois, a utility military helicopter developed by Bell Helicopter to meet the United States Army’s 1952 requirement for a medical evacuation and utility helicopter, that first flew in 1956.

The Huey first saw service in combat operations during the Vietnam War with around 7,000 helicopters deployed.

“We have five trucks that we call our military trucks,” Elliott said. “They’re wrapped with an eagle and veterans drive those trucks. It meant a lot to Michael to be driving that day.”

Just as it meant a lot to the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium to have another Huey to display.

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House Appropriations Committee approves FY2020 transportation budget



The FY2020 THUD appropriations bill includes $677 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

WASHINGTON — The House Appropriations Committee Tuesday approved the fiscal year 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies bill on a vote of 29-21.

The legislation funds the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other related agencies, including the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

In total, the legislation provides $137.1 billion in budgetary resources, an increase of $6 billion above the 2019 enacted level and $17.3 billion above the President’s budget request. The bill includes $75.8 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $4.7 billion over the 2019 enacted level and $17.3 billion over the President’s 2020 budget request.

“This year’s Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development funding bill represents a positive, inclusive vision for our country,” said House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Chairman David Price. “It makes forward-looking investments in our housing and transportation infrastructure, while ensuring concerted attention to safety, the needs of the most vulnerable, and resilience.  It will benefit all American communities — urban and rural — and lays the foundation for economic growth and opportunity. I’m thankful for the collaborative effort by all our members to pass the bill through committee and look forward to working together to enact it into law.”

“The Department of Transportation should prioritize safety, and this bill would equip the Department to fund safety upgrades on our roads and rails as well as safety research,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey. “The bill also would provide adequate funding for the federal share of one of the most important transportation projects in our country to advance commuter safety and the economy – the Gateway tunnel between New Jersey and New York. Additionally, robust investments in the bill, such as increases to CDBG, HOME, and Lead and Healthy Homes, would make our communities heathier and safer, and critical language would protect the most vulnerable, including undocumented individuals and their U.S. citizen children and LGBTQ youth, against eviction. With this bill, we have the opportunity to invest in our infrastructure and fundamentally improve the lives of our constituents.”

For the Department of Transportation, the bill provides a total of $86.6 billion in total budgetary resources, $167 million above the 2019 enacted level and $3.7 billion above the President Donald J. Trump’s budget request.

Of this amount, some of the items the bill includes are:

  • $677 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, $10 million above the 2019 enacted level and $1 million above the President’s budget request. None of the funds can be used to enforce the use of ELDs by carriers transporting livestock.
  • $48.9 billion for the Federal Highway Administration, $404 million below the 2019 enacted level and $1.7 billion above the President’s budget request.
  • $1.75 billion for discretionary Highway Infrastructure Programs, $1.5 billion below the 2019 enacted level and $1.45 billion above the President’s budget request.
  • $1 billion for the Newsal Highway Traffic Safety Administration, $44 million above the 2019 enacted level and $81 million above the President’s budget request.



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John Christner Trucking’s John Mallory wins TCA safety award



John Mallory, recipient of the Truckload Carriers Association Clare C. Casey Award, serves on the American Trucking Associations' Safety Management Council for driver recognition and accident review. (Courtesy: TRUCKLOAD CARRIERS ASSOCIATION)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Truckload Carriers Association has named John Mallory, John Christner Trucking’s director of safety, as the 2019 TCA Safety Professional of the Year and made him recipient of the Clare C. Casey Award.

The award was presented during the TCA’s 38th Annual Safety & Security Division Meeting in Memphis.

John Christner Trucking is located at Sapulpa, Oklahoma.

The award is bestowed upon a trucking industry professional whose actions and achievements have made a profound contribution to enhancing safety on North America’s highways.

“John has an absolute passion for our industry, particularly making it safer,” said John Christner Trucking’s vice president of risk management Shannon Crowley. “He spends much of his free time in pursuit of just that.”

In addition to being employed by John Christner Trucking for 13 years in its safety department, as well as a third-generation professional truck driver for more than two decades, Mallory has an extensive list of accomplishments.

Crowley said Mallory was persistent in obtaining his safety professional credentials once arriving at the company.

“His tenacity is what got him in the door and that same tenacity is what led him to achieving his Certified Director of Safety designation and becoming our director of safety,” Crowley said.

During his career, Mallory has served on the Oklahoma Safety Management Council for 12 years, is a member of the Oklahoma Trucking Association, and serves on the American Trucking Associations’ Safety Management Council for driver recognition and accident review.

He is also a recipient of the John Christner Trucking, Inc.’s Pete Osborne Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017; Oklahoma State Management Council’s Past Chairman Award; and Oklahoma Trucking Association’s 2012 Safety Professional of the year.

He serves as a judge, chairman and as “The Duck” mascot at the Oklahoma Truck Driving Championships.

“John is a great leader in his church as well as other organizations such as Truckers Against Trafficking,” shares his wife, Dianne Mallory, who nominated him for this award. “He is most loved by many for his role as ‘The Duck.'”

Crowley said Mallory is a pillar in his community. He serves on the Tulsa Tech Truck Driving School advisory council, is a member, usher and greeter at Life Church in Owasso and Catoosa, Oklahoma, and is active in the Owasso Police Department K9 unit training canines and officers how to maneuver around and inside 18-wheelers. He also participates in the annual Sapulpa Truck Touch.

On behalf of John Christner Trucking, Mallory has accepted numerous Fleet Safety Awards from TCA, several other industry associations, and both Walmart and Tyson Foods.

“John is always eager to learn, willing to participate, and simply will not be outworked. If there is someone more deserving of this recognition, I haven’t met them,” Crowley said.

Nominees for TCA’s award must exemplify leadership and demonstrate the goals of protecting lives and property in the motor transportation industry while serving their company, industry, and the motoring public. The award is named after Clare Casey, a safety professional who actively served TCA from 1979 until 1989. He was devoted to ensuring that all truckload safety professionals build a strong safety network, and was instrumental in forming the first annual Safety & Security Division meeting in 1982. The first Clare C. Casey Award was presented in 1990, one year after his death.





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FMCSA accepting applications for military pilot program for 18- to 20-year-olds



During the military pilot program, the safety records of the participants will be compared to the records of a control group of drivers. (The Trucker file photo)

WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said Monday it is accepting applications for a pilot program to permit 18- to 20-year-olds who possess the U.S. military equivalent of a commercial driver’s to operate large trucks in interstate commerce.

“This program will help our country’s veterans and reservists transition into good-paying jobs while addressing the shortage of truck drivers in our country,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

As directed by Section 5404 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the pilot program will allow a limited number of individuals between the ages of 18 and 20 to operate large trucks in interstate commerce — provided they possess the military equivalent of a CDL and are sponsored by a participating trucking company. During the pilot program, which is slated to run for up to three years, the safety records of these drivers will be compared to the records of a control group of drivers.

“We are excited to launch this program to help the brave men and women who serve our country explore employment opportunities in the commercial motor vehicle industry. With the nation’s economy reaching new heights, the trucking industry continues to need drivers and have job openings. We encourage veterans and reservists to apply and to learn more about this exciting new program,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond Martinez.

The program was revealed by Chao in July 2018 during a news conference in Omaha, Nebraska, which was attended by Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; and Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., himself a military veteran having served in the United States Air Force United States Air Force from 1985 to 2014, reaching the rank of brigadier general.

“This innovative program offers a way for our younger veterans and reservists to transition to the civilian workforce. I personally thank Secretary Chao and officials with the DOT who continue to find ways to utilize the training and talent of the men and women who served in uniform for our country,” Bacon said.

To learn more about this program and how to apply, visit

For complete information on USDOT’s Veteran transitions programs into the civilian careers, visit 




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