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Special Delivery: UPS Moving Ancient Terra Cotta Army


UPS 747-400 Air Freighter, Trucks Deliver Terra Cotta Warriors from Shanghai to Four U.S. Museums

LOS ANGELES, May 2008 - In the second century BC, the mighty armies of Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang stormed neighboring states on horseback and on foot. Today, a detachment of life-size terra cotta warriors unearthed near Qin’s tomb invaded the United States in a decidedly more 21st century fashion: aboard a brown-tailed UPS 747-400 air freighter.

UPS (NYSE:UPS) today unloaded an exhibit of the 2,200-year-old Chinese terra cotta warriors, horses and other artifacts at its West coast air hub in Ontario, Calif., after a long flight from Shanghai. Over the next two years, they’ll tour museums in Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

“We’re proud that UPS has been selected to ship these fascinating and priceless artifacts from China to the United States,” said Bob Lekites, president of UPS Airlines. “This move requires an incredible amount of planning and logistics and UPS definitely is up to the task.”

Few know that better than UPS Airlines loadmaster Bland Matthews, who is leading the UPS team coordinating the shipment. Matthews has coordinated some of UPS’s most unusual and challenging shipments, including deliveries to the Georgia Aquarium of four whale sharks from Taipei, Taiwan, and a pair of beluga whales from a Mexico City amusement park.

Matthews is most proud of UPS’s shipment of an entire Army field hospital from Reno, Nev., to New Orleans just a few days after the levees broke in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

More than 8,000 of the terra cotta warriors and horses were buried with Emperor Qin in 210-209 BC. Chinese farmers digging a well in 1974 near Xi’an in China’s Shaanxi province discovered the Terra Cotta Army still guarding the emperor’s tomb.

The U.S.-bound exhibit was packed in 42 specially-constructed crates for movement in the 747-400. The nose of the massive air freighter, the newest in the UPS fleet, rises to allow the loading of the large cargo through the front.

UPS flew the warriors from Shanghai to Anchorage, Alaska, then on to its Ontario air hub where workers loaded them on three UPS Freight trucks equipped with air-ride trailers for the trip to the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Calif. The exhibit premieres at the museum on May 18.

“The long-awaited and highly anticipated arrival of the first emperor’s Terra Cotta Army in the United States for the first time is truly an historic event,” said Bowers Museum President Peter Keller. “Our UPS driver is a familiar face here at the museum, but I have to admit we’re a lot more excited than usual about this particular delivery.”

From the Bowers Museum, UPS will move the exhibit by truck to other U.S. museums before flying it back to Shanghai. The moves include:

* October 2008: Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Calif. to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
* May 2009: High Museum of Art in Atlanta to the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
* October 2009: Houston Museum of Natural Science to the National Geographic Museum at Explorers Hall in Washington, D.C.
* April 2010: National Geographic Museum at Explorers Hall in Washington, D.C., to Beijing.

UPS Airlines (NYSE:UPS) is the ninth-largest airline in the world, operating 268 aircraft that feature some of the industry’s most advanced in-flight technology. By offering customers a global portfolio for shipping air freight, UPS’s express and international air solutions help business expand globally. UPS air operations are headquartered in Louisville, Ky., and encompass more than 1,900 flight segments each day serving more than 800 airports around the world. For more information, visit To get UPS news direct, visit


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