More about the Virgin rollout aftermath

More than a week after the truncated SpaceShipTwo rollout event at Mojave Air and Space Port, it’s increasingly clear that the decision to evacuate the event averted a disaster. Airport general manager Stu Witt described the evacuation to the Bakersfield Californian, saying he made the decision when he saw the wind lift up a corner of the giant main tent twice. “When I made the call it was calm,” he said. “People probably thought I was from outer space.” It did, though, turn out to be a wise decision, since it was only a little over a half-hour after the announcement that winds collapsed the giant tent. “I believe there are people living today because of the decisions made that night,” Kern County supervisor Jon McQuiston said.

Getting some people to evacuate was a challenge, since by that point the party was in full swing. Some people tried to get their coats and other items they had checked, only to be turned away by police and firefighters, the Tehachapi News reported Friday. Witt told the Bakersfield paper that one firefighter had to resort to his experience as a football lineman to “convince one gentleman to annul his marriage to the vodka bar.” But most were cooperative: “When the gentlemen with guns say you need to get out, people get the picture,” Kern County Deputy Fire Chief Mike Cody said.

Meanwhile, event organizers are responding to criticism that they had not properly prepared for this contingency. “We’ve heard, ‘You don’t know how to set up tents,’ since this happened,” Richard LoGuercio, owner of the company that supplied the tent, told BizBash, “but I’ve got guys in the back with 20 to 30 years experience. Am I embarrassed that this thing went down? Absolutely not.” The tent, valued at $200,000, was insured, he said.

The caterers of the event were thankful that they were able to salvage the food. “It was a proud moment to be able to shortly afterward tell Richard Branson that even though there was a lot of damage, we saved the food,” Janine Micucci of Along Came Mary, the event’s caterers, said. That food, she said, was then donated to the needy.

1 comment to More about the Virgin rollout aftermath

  • Peter

    Don’t you know… Arnold has to destroy every set he works at. No wait, that’s Stallone.

    Actually, that looked to be a very sturdy tent with the aluminum frame and all. Mojave is notorious for its winds but Virgin couldn’t of expected winds that strong on that night. I’m glad to hear that WK2 and SS2 were undamaged by it… I wonder, was the model of SS1 or the scale models of WK2/SS2 damaged?

    Well, now they know not to have unveiling or rollout events on the actual runway!

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