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APC Lofts/George and Jennifer Rankin

By Silvio Mattacchione BA MA A number of years ago one of the most successful racing pigeon breeding operations in the entire USA was owned and operated by one Campbell Strange. The name of the farm, known worldwide, was "Oak Haven Farms". Campbell was well known to key European players. When Mr. Strange retired the facility was purchased by Canadian Chris Peeman and it continued for a number of years .At the time that "Oak Haven Farms " was operated by Mr. Strange it was and remained at the very top and their final dispersal set an American record. But all things eventually come to an end and so it was that the dominance of "Oak Haven Farms" also ended. It's interesting to note that "Oak Haven" was located in that Figure 1 George and Jennifer Rankin/APC Lofts. bigger than life state "TEXAS". Well it now turns out that it is just possible that another new racing pigeon breeding operation has been brought to life in that great state of Texas that, some say, may soon have the depth to rival the dominance of the former "Oak Haven Farms". Just outside of Houston there is a small community called Cypress, Texas. Large scale commercial and residential development began in Cypress in the early 1980's and totally transformed this once rural area into one of Houston's largest and most desirable communities. Located along Highway 290 it's only 20 miles northwest of Houston. Cypress has two distinct geographic profiles separated by Highway 290. The area north of US 290 is forested and thickly wooded, while the area south of 290 is predominately ranchland and grassy prairie dotted with scrub brush, Live Oaks and Post Oaks. The Cypress urban cluster ranks 50th in the top 100 highest-income urban areas in the United States. It is interesting to note that the 77429 Zip Code is one of the most affluent zip codes in Harris County. Well this is precisely the area that was chosen by George and Jennifer Rankin to become their country retirement refuge after they sold their extremely successful engineering manufacturing business in 2006. It is interesting to contemplate how people come into and out of one's life. Though I have never personally met George or Jennifer Rankin my initial contact with George resulted from an article that I wrote about Mr. Andrew Skrobot, a Canadian who had spent the great majority of his adult life as an educator within the "Canadian Educational System" in the beautiful province of New Brunswick. Andrew had then just retired and was an excellent racing pigeon fancier who had established the "Le Tour De Maritime" one loft race and had a keen eye and wonderful ability as a racing pigeon photographer. Needless to say I wrote about Andrew in, I believe 2002, and his photographic ability, the article was published around the world and was read in the "American

Racing Pigeon Digest" by, you guessed it, Mr. George Rankin. George needed a photographer to take shots of over 100 birds and together we arranged for Andrew to visit George in Houston and photograph those birds. George was delighted, Andrew was delighted and they had a wonderful time together and eight years went by until George and I had another opportunity to communicate. Believe it or not George Rankin's name did not come up again until this spring when Nikolaas Gyselbrecht asked if I knew anyone in the Houston area. I said I didn't and then Nikolaas mentioned "George Rankin" and in an instant all of those memories flashed back into my head and I told Nikolaas that I would get back to him once I located a number for George. When I explained to George that the founder of PIPA was going through Houston and asked if he had time for a visit the answer was "yes" and Nikolaas was able to spend some quality time with the Rankin's. It is interesting how these things happen, how a person seems to come into your life at precisely the moment that he or she is needed. There is serendipity to it! .

Figure 2 summer shot of the APC loft viewed through the lovely rose garden.

George Rankin was born on June 14 1936 in Redding, Stirlingshire Scotland to William B. Rankin and to his mother Jean Jack. George participated in many activities including the "Boy Scouts" (then called the Boys Brigade) stamp collecting, model airplane building reading and swapping books. Additionally George was an accomplished Bagpipe player playing in a "Bagpipe Band" having begun lessons at the age of eight.

Educational Background

George attended Maddiston Primary School at age 12, was admitted to Falkirk Technical High School for 4 years and then admission to Royal Technical College in Glasgow Scotland to earn an Engineering degree .After these studies were completed George was accepted to the University of Houston in Texas and eight years later he had two additional degrees including one in Mechanical Engineering and another in Mathematics. George devoted the majority of his working life to developing a manufacturing enterprise that put to use all of his technical studies.

Racing Pigeons and Future Opportunities

It is an interesting story an anecdote that I have often outlined to interested parties. Often I have been asked how it was that I got into racing pigeons given that neither my Mother nor my Father really liked them. I would always respond that in my youth in the late 1950's and early 1960's in Toronto, neighborhood "pool halls" (quite seedy at the time and not the greatest moral influence) were quite common and many young boys lost their direction in these facilities. When my Mother realized that I had developed a passion for pigeons she literally "forced" my father to build me a small loft insisting that even though she did not like the idea of me wasting my time with pigeons at least, she insisted, I would be home, safe in my backyard and out of the "pool halls"! My Mom was adamant that she did not want me to become a "gambler" or "pool hall shark"!In time my fascination with pigeons turned into my occupation as I eventually became a publisher of "niche market specialty books" including books on pigeons, waterfowl, peafowl, poultry, parrots and other small animals. So my childhood fascination with birds set the stage for my future occupation. Who knows what I might have ended up as, if I had developed a real fascination for "pool"? With this personal story in mind I often ask fanciers of whom I write if they have similar experiences and typically they do as is the case also with George Rankin.

From Rubber Pigeon Markers to Athletic Scholarship

My first year racing pigeons I did not have a clock and had to run about a half mile from my loft to Charlie's loft with the rubber marker after removal from the birds leg upon its arrival. Having watched me run Charlie gave me confidence to enter an annual local 10 mile Gala foot race with 100 or so 18 plus year old young men home on furlough for the Gala from the Korean War. At age 16 I had never thought of running 10 miles but after passing Charlie's loft on the way up the steep hill to

the Church I found myself alone in front and went on to complete the race in record time. Competitive running became a factor in my life which led to an athletic scholarship which brought me to the USA to compete for the University of Houston for 4 years. I ran on teams which won NCAA and AU Cross Country Championships in 1960 for the University of Houston and was a member of a 4 by one mile relay team which set a , long since eclipsed , Canadian record in Toronto in 1958. Andrew Fleming was a lifelong pigeon flier who was also my Falkirk High School science teacher and from his science class I learned that varying a small amount of baking soda mixed with pottery clay changed the stiffness of the clay. The abandoned quarry and junk yard next to where I had my loft had been used to retain pumped up local coal mine water and tailings for over 100 years and the water level in the Quarry had lowered exposing a surface in places which was black clay like compacted coal dust some of which Angus Gillespie the property owner dug out daily to stoke a heating stove which smoldered overnight in his work shed . I mixed Baking Soda into some wetted coal clay in an old pan and heated the pan on top of the stove and within a short period the wetted coal clay and baking soda stiffened to produce a handle able briquette weighing several pounds. Angus had often talked about the value of his coal dust but he had not figured out a way to get the difficult to handle material to market. Scotland relied on coal fires and stoves in people's homes in the 50,s for warmth year round but lump coal burned up within 4 hours and fires died out overnight. Briquettes which smoldered and burned slowly overnight had a ready market and Angus and I made square metal strip molds from old fuel drums to dry the soda laced briquettes in by heating them on a metal plates sitting on top of the work shed stove. Living in a rural area to get the briquettes directly to people's homes Angus and I scavenged enough parts and pieces from abandoned US military vehicles in the quarry to make a flat bed delivery truck. A highly profitable business was established which supported my education and costs to keep and race pigeons. One problem I overcame was getting the heavy hard to handle coal dust clay from the quarry to the work shed by slurrying it in the quarry then pumping it downhill to a holding pit set up next to the workshop. I found an old manually powered mine dewatering pump and lengths of cast iron pipe which had been abandoned in the quarry when mining operations had stopped close by some 30 years prior. When restored the pump became an essential element for production of Briquettes and I learned to be proficient at maintaining and repairing it. Powering the pump for about an hour every day I later theorized helped build muscle which probably made me run better. Part of the athletic scholarship granted by the University of Houston was that the University would provide assistance finding a summer job for me between semesters. One company offering a summer job manufactured oil field pumps

in Houston and I got the job that summer and for 4 additional summers worked in the Engineering department of the Continental Emsco Company. I came up with a radically different designed pump which could cut down on oil field mud pump failures and a US patent was applied for based on my design. Years later I started a business building high pressure pump systems for Petrochemical Plant and Oilfield Equipment Pressure testing which utilized my design. The high pressure pump was successful and the design gave my company a competitive edge for 30 years until it was sold in 2006 to an International Public Company. Along the way I was awarded the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Thayer Engineer Of The Year award in 2005 and in that same year I was also the recipient of the US Waterjetting Technologies Pioneer award given for contribution to the High Pressure Waterjetting Industry. During a trip to Europe in 2000 and while visiting old friends and relatives for a few days in Scotland I was looking out of the window of a cousins living room at a neighbor across the street pruning roses in his front garden. My cousin said you know him that is Andrew Fleming your old science teacher who tells me every time we talk that he still has pigeons bred down from a bird you gave him when you went abroad. I had given away all but one bird before leaving for North America but there was one bird I had become attached to that I could not part with until the night before leaving which I took to Mr Flemings house hoping he would like to have Dr. Andersons Bricoux. Andrew Fleming was a spry 94 years old still pruning roses and tending his loft and pigeons and he bubbled with enthusiasm when took me into his loft to show me offspring descended from 40 years of breeding down from Dr. Andersons Bricoux.. Mr Fleming had raced pigeons for 60 years and had dreamt of winning Scotland's National race from Rennes in France but had never been very close. When I got back to Houston I called Jos Thone and told him of my meeting with Mr Fleming and we arranged for Jos to have a proven pair of long distance birds delivered to Mr Fleming. Next year at age 96 a yearling out of the Thone pair placed 16th out of 2800 birds for Andrew Fleming in the Scottish National Race from France.

Racing In Houston 1961

George started racing pigeons in Houston in 1961 while he was still in college and became friends with Kenneth Warren who also raced pigeons. Kenneth was a Biology PHD candidate majoring in Genetics. George and Kenneth cooperated for the next 15 years racing and breeding hoping to improve their results mainly flying pigeons acquired locally from successful fliers. They had slightly better performances during that period working with the local birds until Kenneth decided to buy some birds from Pierre Dordin based on reports of his performance in Europe. The Dordins were physically different pigeons that won out of turn up to 400 miles for Ken and George. Over the next three years Dr. Kenneth Warren bred the Dordins applying his genetics knowledge and came to the conclusion that like the local birds we worked with for so long if the Dordins were pure bred no significant improvement in their racing performance resulted. Ever

growing business demands forced George to let his pigeons go in 1979 but he maintained contact with Dr Warren over the next 20 years during which time he bought Janssen Bros birds from Mike Ganus and according to Kenneth the increase in performance of the Janssen competing in races up to 600 miles at the local level was even more remarkable than the performance increase they experienced with the Dordins.

Advanced Design The APC Loft

To say that the loft of George and Jennifer is rather unique would be a little bit of an understatement. It is however what one might expect from a pigeon fancier who also happens to be an award winning engineer, designer and manufacturer all rolled into one. It is not surprising that the scientific method permeates everything that George does, how could it be otherwise for that approach in fact is the habit of a lifetime of training. The APC loft design is without a doubt the result of at least 50 years of George's reading about and thinking about and viewing first had all of the most advanced features intended to ensure a safe and healthy home and then incorporating them into an advanced steel modular design. This unique design also incorporates "work reduction" methodologies while also ensuring air flow control, floor cleaning, food and grit dispensing and most especially safe fresh automatic watering.

Figure 3 Interior view of unique APC facility.

APC is best described as a combination pigeon racing and breeding loft housed in a 2 storey 160 foot long by 24 foot wide building which has an attached separately air conditioned 36 foot wide by 40 foot long management working and entertainment facility complete with sitting room, washrooms, kitchen and an office. On a recent visit to Houston here is how a seasoned world traveler and fancier described the APC Loft : "...simply the nicest loft I've ever seen. In fact it's a disservice to call it a "loft" al all, because the first floor has a reception area and living room that is as nice as my house, chandelier and all! It has all the amenities of "home", including a couple bathrooms, a full kitchen and an office...and that's just downstairs! "

Loft Construction is Unique

The APC Loft has 22 compartments. Eight compartments are 12 foot long by 6 foot wide and house 60 active Breeding Pairs. Two 5 foot wide pens hold 30 pairs of breeders on rotation standby and an 80 bird race team is managed in 4 separate 12 foot by 5 foot compartments. One 12 by 5 compartment is set up for weaning babies and 3 compartments each 12 by 6 can accommodate up to 150 young birds. Three compartments are either empty or hold reserve stock and one isolated compartment is set aside as a quarantine station. All compartments can be entered from a central 8 foot wide service corridor running the length of the building and they can also be accessed on one side via a 5 foot wide trapping area corridor on the outside wall of the building. All compartments have controlled access to external overhanging aviaries equipped with showers Figure 4 George demonstrates swivel and bathing pans. Separate upstairs air conditioned capacity of feed trough. compartments serve as feed storage and hospital rooms and an internal 8 foot by 12 foot hydraulic lift platform and stair raises personnel, feed and supplies from ground level to the upper floor.

The Floor

The upper floor is covered by a patented commercial chicken farming plastic grid floor which is low in thermal conductivity and resistant to bacteria growth. Support framework for the upper floor is galvanized steel and the lower floor is concrete with a lengthwise wall to center slope into a wash drain system. Construction material selection inside the bird's compartments enables each compartment to be pressure washed weekly. Waste is washed down through the upper floor

and sluiced on the ground floor into the drainage system. A sump and pump dispense lower floor washed waste beneath shrubbery surrounding property the loft is built on.

Drip Drinking System

Each compartment has continuous drip drinking pans sitting 2 feet above ground. Overflow from each drip pan collects in a potable water piping arrangement which feeds the overflow to a fish pond next to the loft.

Ventilation

Upper floor walls running the length of each side of the building have large doors which can be set to direct air flow in and out of the building. A 14 foot high cathedral canopy running the length of the building has adjustable louvers for additional seasonal air flow regulation. Each loft compartment is separately lit in addition to having overhead lighting in the service corridor etc.

Frequent European Trips

During frequent business trips to Europe I made arrangements to visit the World Pigeon center in Hostel Belgium and met Jos Thune for the first time there in 1999. The WPC was a meeting place on a daily basis for pigeon fliers at that time and Jos would introduce me to top fliers whenever I visited the center. I attended the Golden Duif awards in 2004 when Jos won for the fourth time and had an opportunity to rub shoulders with the European racing pigeon fraternity.

George Loved The Concept

Jos Thone was a principal partner in the World Pigeon Center and shortly after George got know Jos the WPC partnership dissolved. Dr. Warren was Dean of a Houston University and was contemplating retirement. Clearly George had property and assets suitable for building a facility similar to the WPC in Hoeselt and the central Idea of the American Pigeon Center partnership was that Jos and Ken would contribute birds and George would build and jointly manage a state of the art pigeon loft etc. in Houston with them. Possible drivers for the three of them were, Jos wanted someone to sell his birds in North America. Kens health was failing and he needed help to maintain his 969 breeding program and George was enthralled with the WPC concept and intended to set up its equivalent in Houston.

Jos Thone Decision Made In 2000

APC is best described as a combination pigeon racing and breeding loft housed in a 2 storey 160 foot long by 24 foot wide building which has an attached separately air conditioned 36 foot wide by 40 foot long management working and entertainment facility complete with sitting room, washrooms, kitchen and an office. Currently the main goal and focus at APC is an ongoing refinement of high quality families of racing pigeons. George's experiences in the 60,s with Dr.

Kenneth Warren were most influential in shaping his current views about breeding racing pigeons. George decided to start a loft in 2000 with pigeons from Dr. Warren and Jos Thone. These pigeons are still cultivated to this day.

Jennifer Rankin (Jiang Yan Ling)

George's wife's name is Jennifer (Jiang Yar Ling ), she was born in Xian in central China and her parents were Medical Doctors with no known involvement in pigeons. Jennifer and George first met at an oil industry conference in 1989 while she was on a visit to Houston Texas in connection with a Chinese Government mission to obtain an Exim Bank loan to develop Chinas offshore oil and gas industry. I had been to China several times on business, was single, said Ni hao (Hello) to her and flew over the Great Wall to became hooked for life...again. George and Jennifer first had a traditional Chinese marriage in Beijing in 1989 and were married again in formal Western style in Houston in 1990. Soon after George married Jennifer, Jennifer gradually took command of the administration of their manufacturing company. Her experience as and transition from Neurologist to company executive brought many benefits to the then 25 year old organization and the company grew rapidly and earned a solid reputation for excellence and integrity. Following the sale of their manufacturing company Jennifer now has time to be fully involved in day to day operation and strategic planning of the APC Loft and she is focused on ensuring that their pigeon related activities earn APC Loft a breeding and racing reputation for excellence and integrity in both North America but especially in China. Jennifer believes (as does PIPA) that China poses an incredible opportunity for those dedicated to the production of quality racing pigeons from proven performance bloodlines. Recent successes by APC Loft are due largely to the special care given to breeders and babies by Jennifer who has added Chinese Herbal materials to the breeder's food which stimulate the babies digestion and immune systems. (In fact the photo of the mix and ingredients looks a great deal like the formula that I myself developed back in 1992 which included moistening the seed and grains with either wheat germ oil or olive oil, then adding nutritional yeast, kelp, spirulina, wheat grass, a proprietary mineral supplement, a probiotic as well as a popular horse supplement I used to enrich the iron content of the blood. Once all was added the contents were mixed well and fed to the pigeons moist every day)

Getting birds super healthy in advance of the breeding season is mandatory and keeping drafts from blowing on nestlings while ensuring clean quality high protein feed and fresh air is available

Figure 5 Nutrition is the key. You are what you eat!

all the time in artificially extended daylight hours is necessary for proper nourishment of growing babies. Vitamin supplements, probiotics, grit and calcium stone help ensure a good start in the nest provided a scrupulously clean, never run dry, chlorine free water supply is available.

Jennifer graduated from Shanghai Medical School specializing as a Neurologist. She was a teacher of medicine and practiced in Beijing and Shanghai teaching hospitals for 6 years. When China began opening up relationships with the West in the early 80,s she visited The Bush administration on behalf of the Chinese Government to help negotiate a loan from the US Exim Bank to fund development of Chinas offshore oil and gas field. Jennifer's working interest in the APC loft and birds started after they sold their manufacturing business in 2006 and purchased a country home outside Houston to operate the APC loft from. After studying the pedigrees of the Thone line birds in our loft Jennifer has interacted with Jos to realign the APC Loft breeding program to focus on breeding some famous Thone birds which have become popular in China. She also takes care of an APC web site and communicates with Jos and an Asian distributer and customers who are buying Thone bred Kleine Figo offspring. APC employs one helper to clean the loft and Jennifer supervises his activities to ensure the loft is cleaned properly to her hospital standards. The breeding sections of the loft are co managed by Jennifer and I and she now prepares food and adjusts additives given to all birds in the loft.

APC ESTABLISHED 2001

The APC loft was built in Houston in 2001 and 50 pairs of Jos Thone birds were imported in 2002. Magazine and Auction advertisements were made offering Thone/ Peters and Warren/ Ganus pigeons in 2002 and 2003... with disappointing results. Dr Warren died early in 2003 and his birds were brought to the APC Loft. Goals and priorities changed and Jos and I decided to begin entering one loft races in hope of placing well in

Figure 6 Birds exercising at APC Lofts.

those events..

Learning how to play the one loft game successfully took a long time during which time Jos never wavered in his desire to have APC Loft continue to try and establish that Thone/Peters birds had what it takes to be competitive in North America. Beginning in 2004 activities associated with the sale of my business kept me from giving the APC Loft the personal care and attention to breeding and racing that is necessary to excel in the sport and it was not until the business sold in 2006 that my wife Jennifer had time to take an interest in the Loft. Jos Thone sent 40 birds to an Auction in November 2008 in New Jersey. I attended the auction with Jos and afterwards he and his wife went to Houston and spent a few days with Jennifer and George. The Marketing strategy for putting APC Loft on the map and accelerating potential sales of Thone pigeons in North America was taken over by Jennifer who had just earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and unknown to George until Christmas morning 2008 Jennifer and Jos bought Kleine Figo to enhance the APC /Jos Thone connection. Kleine Figo was sent to Jos Thones loft where it is being bred directly to top Thone hens. To date 5 Kleine Figo /Thone birds are in the APC Loft in Houston Texas, Jos has a similar number he works with in Belgium and approximately 30 youngsters have been sold worldwide. The Kleine Figo experience has been positive and it now serves as a model for growth and enhancement of the APC/Thone partnership.

" Kliene Figo" : A Big Surprise!

Here is what George had to say: "The Kliene Figo purchase by Jennifer Rankin in December 2008 at the dispersal of Kees Boua" ($80,000.00) as a big surprise on Christmas morning and the magnitude of the purchase took my breath away until I grasped the commercial potential of my present and the deal with Jos. Jos is a front

runner who has a keen sense of the best direction to take to remain at the top of the Pigeon Sport and I am privileged to benefit from his leadership." Over the years George has purchased birds from Jos Thone because he is a consistently successful flier, he is a personable responsible man who adds credit to the sport of racing pigeons. George advises that Jos ; " had inherited Thomas Peters birds and has time and again made improvements to their racing performances is an inspiration to me to try to emulate to some degree the success Jos amazingly continues to have every year."

Having concluded great racing pigeons have a higher probability of breeding good pigeons than good pigeons have I was fortunate to be able to start off in 2001 with top birds from two families which had consistently produced a number of great pigeons for quite a number of years, the Janssen Bros 969 line obtained from Dr Warren/ Mike Ganus and the Thomas Peters / Jos Thone line which I brought in from Belgium. APC Loft competes in The Gulf Coast Homing Pigeon Association which has imposed a limit of 15 pigeons per loft per race on its members and most stock birds have not had an opportunity to be raced. Some APC stock birds are returns from One Loft Races. This year APC loft has shipped out 250 birds to 35 One Loft races and currently has 100 young birds which will compete in the GCHPA young bird 2010 series of races.

APC The Breeding Plan

APC loft breeder selection is directed at maintaining the lines developed by Thone/Peters and Warren / Janssen. George advised that his plan regarding breeding and racing pigeons is to try to continuously improve the performance of APC Loft bred birds. At this time 90 pairs have been chosen to breed from at APC Loft. About half the pairings are based on phenotype and pedigree and half are based on race performances of individual birds. Additionally there are 500 stock birds in the loft 70 % of which are from the original Jos Thone pigeons and 25 % are 969 Janssen derivatives with another 5% being Van Loon/ Janssen birds via Campbell Strange and Chris Peemans Oak Haven Farm. Jos chose the initial pairings for the birds he sent to George in 2002 and his family of birds have been closely bred in the intervening years.APC Loft has had good racing success cross breeding Thone and Janssen bird Any expectation I had at the outset for future success coming from working with the Janssen and Thone birds was based on past experience and an understanding that family quality and the health of all birds housed together in a pigeon loft affects the amount of success a loft ultimately Modern racing pigeons tend to be strong backed, hard muscled, tight vented; pin tailed with streamlined apple shaped bodies and have a straight tightly closed throat valve. Most importantly from an aerodynamics standpoint birds wing forms undoubtedly affect the speed and duration of a bird in flight and I have attempted to learn to select birds as being suitable for a given number of flying hours based on their wing forms. Pedigrees are necessary as a starting point when deciding on the selection of racing pigeon breeding stock however breeding from pigeons acquired solely based on their pedigree without

Figure 7 Nikolaas visits APC Lofts near Houston Texas Spring 2010.

consideration of the bird's performance or its own breeding ability is risky if one has aspirations of producing better than good racing pigeons. APC Loft breeding selection logic is to: First select breeding pair birds from the same family having similar forms which have demonstrated better than good homing and racing ability. Second: select similar but unflown brothers and sisters to the first group then compare each groups offspring's racing and homing ability. If the first groups offspring are performing better than the second group take this with caution to be an indicator you may be heading in the right direction. Keep testing and verifying your breeding program this way every year. Figure 8 Typical APC Lofts breeding section. . Top performing race birds are bred back to a parent and brother and sister offspring from these matings are used to check type consistency. Offspring from brother and sister mating are not raced but may be crossed with another line to produce youngsters for racing. Offspring from a brother and sister and half brother and sister mating from two successful lines when crossed often produce exceptional birds with hybrid vigor which become the next generation of "better than good "racers.

International One Loft Racing

International one Loft Racing has the "Sun City Million Dollar Pigeon Race" as an n outstanding example of what can be done to make the Racing Pigeon Sport more interesting and enduring. China, Taiwan and Thailand have International One loft Races which need to improve their communications capability in order to increase International participation. Western countries, in particular North America , are losing fliers faster than cultivating them and if the present decline in fliers continues the International One Loft Races may be one way the Racing Pigeon Sport in North America stays alive. One loft racing in my opinion will be the only sustainable method of racing pigeon in the near future in North America. An unregulated industry is growing around One Loft Racing in North America and wide extremes are encountered with regard to the management and value obtained when sending birds to the majority of these races. A small percentage of One Loft Races have taken a page from the SCMDPR book and are building their client base and providing value.

Eye Sign

I have been unable to understand so called Racing Pigeon Eye Sign and liken the practice to storytelling where no two eye sign experts ever tell the same story about a particular eye.

APC and Sun City Million

Last year APC Loft sent a single reared pigeon named Maddiston to the SCMDPR which was bred and fed with Jennifer's prepared food. Maddistons Thone bred mother was 12 years old and its Thone bred father was 10 years old. Maddiston was the first bird in the SCMDPR Hot Spot Averages after 4 races last year and it finished in 7th place overall after the 5th and final Hot Spot to be remembered as a remarkable performer considering conventional age related pigeon breeding wisdom. Jennifer forecasts there is a substantial business opportunity for North American racing pigeon breeders in the rapidly growing 21st century Chinese racing pigeon market place which she is preparing to enter. One last piece of trivia. George sent 6 pigeons to the SCMDPR last year He named them after villages next to the one he grew up in Scotland... Maddiston I had one sister her name was Sheena. There were 4800 birds entered in the SCMDPR. Gerard Koopman had 70 plus birds in the race, one was named Sheena. Maddiston was in First place after 4 Hot Spots and Sheena was in Second place. The above happenstance is astronomically improbable. After the 5th Hot Spot Maddiston finished 7th and Sheena was 14th.George's sister was born in Maddiston on Sept 19/1940. George was quoted as saying" Loving pigeons lifelong as I have nothing accomplished in life beforehand quite equaled the thrill and anticipation I experienced following that SCMDPR 4th Hot Spot. Sadly Maddiston did not return from the final SCMDPR race but it will hold a place in his memory on a par with Dr. Andersons Bricoux."

Special Honors

Part of the athletic scholarship granted by the University of Houston was that the University would provide assistance finding a summer job for George between semesters. One company offering a summer job manufactured oil field pumps in Houston and I got the job that summer and for 4 additional summers worked in the Engineering department of the Continental Emsco Company. George came up

Figure 9 The office portion of the APC Lofts.

with a radically different designed pump which could cut down on oil field mud pump failures and a US patent was applied for based on my design. Years later George started a business building high pressure pump systems for Petrochemical Plant and Oilfield Equipment Pressure Testing which utilized his design. The high pressure pump was successful and the design gave his company a competitive edge for 30 years until it was sold in 2006 to an International Public Company. Along the way George was awarded the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Thayer Engineer of the Year award in 2005 and in that same year George was also the recipient of the US Waterjetting Technologies Pioneer award given for contribution to the High Pressure Waterjetting Industry. George and Jennifer Rankin and their APC Lofts enterprise is strategically placed to play an exceedingly important role in the development of a huge market for racing pigeons in China. Jennifer Rankin has the credentials, she has the contacts, she and George have the savvy and yes they have the quality of pigeon which makes their new enterprise a guarantee that all sides will prosper! Good luck to you both but for all that it is worth, my opinion is this, your success is assured and your future Asian customers will thank you for their Figure 10 Another view of the APC Lofts office. good fortune! In short order I believe that we will see a very important and long term relationship develop between the Rankin's and the PIPA family. It makes perfect sense to me

Web page:www.us-apc.com

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