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Wrap and Roll: Flight 93 Memorial

Wrapped tractor-trailer raising awareness for 9/11 memorial.



Many feelings are brought to the fore when honoring the fallen. Typically, these might include sadness, devotion, and anger, among others. And when it comes to honoring those who were on board Flight 93 on 9/11, you can another to the mix: service.

Certainly that’s the case with Paul Graefen, vice president of sales for Harbor Graphics. His company jumped at the opportunity to help produce a vehicle wrap for the “93 Cents for Flight 93” campaign this past September.

“Once we heard about the charity, we decided we wanted to be involved,” says Graefen. “Harbor Graphics is very proud and excited to be able to contribute in this way. We’re humbled and honored by what we view as a small contribution to a very worthy and important group.”

The 93 Cents campaign, which aims to raise a minimum of $1 million toward the construction of an official Flight 93 national memorial through donations of 93 cents at a time, officially kicked off this past September 10 at a ceremony by students at Shanksville-Stonycreek School, just miles from Flight 93’s Pennsylvania crash site. At the ceremony, a key component to the campaign would be unveiled: a 53-foot Daimler Freightliner tractor-trailer sporting a vinyl wrap honoring the Flight 93 heroes, complete with all 40 names of those on board.

Eagle’s wings
Before Harbor Graphics could begin its work, however, the graphics for the wrap had to be designed, a task that fell to design firm Deitrick and Associates Interiors, based in Akron, Ohio. Sharon Deitrick, the company’s owner, is founder of the 93 Cents program and a member of the Flight 93 National Campaign. The design required graphics for both the trailer and the tractor.

Originally, the intent for the primary tractor image was to incorporate an eagle head that had been used on the charity’s 2002 medallion coin, Deitrick says. Using Corel Draw, as well as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, art director Ann Akins set out to re-create the eagle head in vector format, but couldn’t get the vector art to flow with the many curves and contours of the tractor, so she turned to an engineering team at Daimler, which helped iron out the issues and allow the vector art to work.


The trailer graphics included several different graphic elements. Most of these—group shots of students and Boy Scouts, company logos, and lettering—stayed consistent from the project’s inception to its end. The primary image of the eagle wings, however, required an evolutionary process.

“I asked Martin Alvord, our part-time graphic designer, to work on eagle wings from photographs while Ann created the eagle wings in vector. Martin, meanwhile, searched the Web for a wings image that would tie in with our eagle head.” The design crew “fell in love” with an image Alvord found from Alaska-based wildlife photographer Ron Niebrugge—which, in the end, won out over the vector design.

As with most projects, time was a challenging factor, says Deitrick. Designers had three weeks to produce the graphics, ensure they worked, and send them to Harbor for printing and wrap, and have it all completed before the inaugural run on September 10.

Job filled with challenges
In Benton Harbor, Michigan, Harbor Graphics ( received the image files on disk from Deitrick. With no further color corrections or tweaking needed for the images, they were ready for output. Harbor took a lot of care to ensure the graphics were reproduced as close to perfect as possible.

Rather than use a template, the rig was measured by hand, and from that information the graphic panels were created. “I’m not sure if a template is available or not,” Graefen says. “There probably is, but doing it by hand allowed us to use our experience, creativity, and expertise to ‘create’ the graphic for the best appearance and ease of application.”

“As with most images of this size, panel line up and color match are critical to the success of the overall presentation,” he continues. “We laid out the complete graphic for quality inspection before the final mask and cut operations.”


Harbor turned to its 6-color, 60-inch EFI Vutek 150 and Vutek Colorburst RIP for output, utilizing Imagin B-free Pro 2.1-mil, pressure-sensitive vinyl and Permacolor Rayzor 1.5-mil overlaminate film from Mactac (the Stow, Ohio-based company donated the media). In all, Harbor produced more than 8100 square feet of vinyl (29 panels), and finished with the shop’s 60-inch GBC Orca III laminator.

To perform the install, a team from Harbor as well as Mactac met at the headquarters of Scranton, Pennsylvania-based Road Scholar Transport, the company supplying the tractor-trailer. It took the two installation groups two 12-hour days to complete the job, which wasn’t without its challenges.

“While the trailer wrap was straightforward and something we have done hundreds of times, wrapping the tractor—with its compound surfaces—was a challenge that required extra time and precision during the process,” Graefen says. “Wrapping something like a tractor requires an installer team with a great deal of experience.”
“One challenge that we needed to overcome was the wrap of the plastic bumper,” Graefen points out. “The standard bumper on that model is a high-end, durable, hard plastic that would not work as a long-term graphic surface. We could have put the graphic down on it, but it would not hold up over time.” To remedy the problem, Road Scholar stepped in and replaced the plastic bumper, purchasing a metal aftermarket bumper that would allow better adhesion for the vinyl.

Awareness rising
Once the wrap was installed, the rig headed for its debut in Shanksville, where it received a welcome reception. The congratulations were secondary, however, compared to the pride felt by those who worked on the project.

“Our employees were allowed to use their skills in a way that will have an immediate impact in the efforts to raise awareness and funds to honor our fellow citizens who responded so heroically when the events of 9/11 were thrust upon them,” Graefen says.
There’s also been some dialogue about creating a scale model of the truck: “We are discussing creating the miniature of the truck now to encourage others to see the power of graphics in raising awareness,” Deitrick says. “Certainly, this creation has helped us to keep the memory of the 40 heroes of Flight 93 alive and to build a permanent memorial for their final resting place.”

The tractor-trailer will continue to promote the 93 Cents for Flight 93 ( campaign as it rolls to its destinations across the country through September 2011, the campaign’s official end date.





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