Why Did US Use Windowless 747s To Fly Citizens Home From China?

Do evacuees even know where they are? 

2 jumbo jets, both without windows, land in California carrying Americans escaping virus zone |

Feb 5, 2020

FAIRFIELD, Calif. (AP) — Two jets carrying about 350 Americans fleeing the virus zone in China landed Wednesday morning at an Air Force base in Northern California.

Some will be quarantined at a hotel on the base for 14 days while others will be quarantined at a Southern California military base, officials said.

Guests and staff at the hotel on Travis Air Force Base were moved out ahead of the planes’ arrival, said Technical Sgt. Traci Keller.

The Americans were evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, which is at the center of the new virus outbreak.

The base is near the city of Fairfield, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco,

Other planes carrying Americans from Wuhan will arrive Thursday at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas and Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska, where they will be quarantined, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said.

The U.S. Northern Command tweeted that the planes that arrived in California carried about 350 people. Keller had no information about their health, but CDC officials were expected later Wednesday to provide more information about the evacuees.

One of the planes was scheduled to leave Travis Air Force Base later Wednesday to take Americans to the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego, where those people will also be quarantined for 14 days, the U.S. Northern Command said.

Also Wednesday, health authorities in the U.S. started shipping diagnostic test kits to labs in the U.S. and abroad.

By the start of next week, testing for the virus will be done closer to patients, rather than at the CDC’s lab in Atlanta, and states will begin to communicate test results to the public.

The CDC plans to update the U.S. case counts three times each week on its website.

“Now is the time to act so we can slow the introduction and impact of this virus in the U.S.,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “This is the beginning of what could be a long response.”

The Americans were evacuated a week after another jet with 195 American evacuees from Wuhan arrived at March Air Reserve base in Southern California. They remain under a 14-day quarantine at the base.

The new virus is a member of the coronavirus family that’s a close cousin to the SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past.

Here’s what we know about windowless 747s … 

Albert Riva, The Points Guy – The hundreds o fAmericans who have been evacuated from Wuhan, China in recent days amid the coronavirus outbreak have returned to the U.S. in a most unusual way: aboard cargo jets.

The U.S. government chartered for the occasion a Boeing 747 freighter from Kalitta Air, a cargo-only airline based in Ypsilanti, Michigan, instead of a regular passenger airplane.

The 747 was fitted with passenger seats for this flight, according to a post by Facebook page Airline Secrets Exposed, which says it publishes submissions from airline insiders.

An image published by the Facebook page shows the main deck of a 747 freighter with several rows of seats in 3-4-3 layout.

The image shows at least 200 seats, consistent with what we know about the plane, which had 240 seats installed.

Passengers would have had no windows, since the cargo versions of 747 do not have any on the main deck.

The 747, a 18-year old freighter registered N705CK, stopped in Anchorage to refuel on the way from Wuhan to March Air Reserve Base, near Riverside, California.

Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, said at a news conference on Wednesday, after the plane had left Alaska, that the plane was able to carry 240 people but only held 201.

“The whole plane erupted into cheers when the crew welcomed them back to the United States,” Zink was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

We have asked Kalitta Air for confirmation of the authenticity of the images, and whether the plane has been decontaminated after landing in Riverside, but haven’t heard back by publication time.

It’s not clear at this time why the government decided to charter a cargo jet specially outfitted with passenger seats, instead of a regular airliner.

We do, however, know the 747 has a peculiarity which makes it ideally suited for evacuating potentially contagious people: Its upper deck, where the cockpit is, can be closed off from the passengers on the main deck.

Indeed, according to the AP, the flight crew stayed on the upper deck for the whole flight, sealed off from passengers, and did not get off the plane in China … Read more. 

Feb 4, 2020

The New York Times – The United States has begun its second airlift of American citizens out of China.

“Two planes have departed Wuhan en route to the United States,” the State Department said in a statement Wednesday night.

Little information was immediately available on the planes’ destination.

But it was believed that like the first Americans evacuated from Wuhan, the passengers will be taken to a military base and directed to remain there pending medical tests.

The first evacuees were flown from Wuhan on Jan. 29, and their plane stopped in Anchorage to refuel and for the passengers to be given initial screenings.

The Boeing 747 then continued on to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif. Source. 

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