The article begins:
When Boeing's C-17 military cargo jet carried Keiko the killer whale to freedom two years ago, the flight grabbed headlines around the world. It was the only aircraft with enough heft and agility to ferry the 9,050-pound mammal and drop him off at a tiny airstrip near his native waters in Iceland.
But it does not tell that after landing with Keiko on the tiny dirt airstrip on Heymaey, Iceland it was sitting there for two weeks while having its landing gear repaired....!
Anyway, it was really impressive that it could actually have made it with a little better luck. Last time I landed there it was in a BN Islander, and I didn't think that the RWY was one inch too big.
I just wonder if there is a civil market for such an expensive and specialized plane. At the time when the AN-124 overcapacity dries up, then this world will be filled with old and cheap 747 classics ready for a fast cargo conversion, some including a front door.
If it's a question about lifting outsized cargo out of short runways, then there is always the option to take off with almost empty fuel tanks to the nearest real airport for refueling. An old 747 or even a brand new Airbus Beluga will do that much more cost efficient.
For buying such a plane, and make it earn money, there really has to be a very special transport demand, which seems to be unknown today. You can't make money on having a plane for transporting killer whales to Iceland once every fifty years.
Best regards, Preben Norholm
Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs