A New England Patriots team plane that usually carries football players touched down in China to load up with 1.2 million N95 protective masks.
Video and pictures of the event show workers in masks and full-body suits at Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport loading box after box of the scarce and valuable personal protective equipment onto a red, white and blue plane emblazoned with the Patriots logo and “6X CHAMPIONS.”
The plane was permitted to be on the ground in China for a maximum of three hours, people familiar with the matter said, and the crew was required to stay on the plane while a ground crew loaded the cargo. It took 2 hours and 57 minutes. On Thursday, that plane will land somewhere more familiar: Boston Logan International Airport.
The mission for the masks had to overcome lots of red tape involving visas, landing permits and $2 million dollars for the gear that was paid by the Kraft family (Robert Kraft owns the New England Patriots NFL franchise).
'I’ve never seen so much red tape in so many ways and obstacles that we had to overcome,' said Robert Kraft, the Patriots’ owner. 'In today’s world, those of us who are fortunate to make a difference have a significant responsibility to do so with all the assets we have available to us.'
The long list of hurdles is chronicled in the WSJ piece.
While the masks will land in Massachusetts, 300,000 will be headed to a different destination - New York.
Sports rivalries are easily overlooked at this time of unity.