Getting the Air Force involved turned out to be a great idea, in my opinion. I should've gotten more photos, and maybe even video of this recovery operation, but I spent a good deal of the time thinking I was about to see this whole rig rollover and watch my friend be maimed or killed. There was a ridiculous amount of inching forward and back, shouting about trailer tires hanging off into space, trying to get traction, and so forth, but we finally got the tractor loaded out and down onto level ground. The trip home was about as uneventful as could be, with the high point being a stop for lunch at one of those little country gas stations that sells fried chicken and fixin's.
Heading north on I-65, we saw a Ford Explorer sitting somewhat upright in the ditch to the side of the interstate. This was right before the Clermont exit, where the Jim Beam distillery is located. As we got closer, it was clear the truck had been in a violent rollover. As we slowed to see if we could help, fire and EMS vehicles began coming down the Clermont off ramp (against traffic) and we could see that the Explorer had the remains of a trailer underneath it! Now there was a haul that had gone terribly wrong, but at least there was no one in it when it rolled. The tow vehicle appeared to be fine although the two young men I assume were driving it stood in the grass looking at the carnage, and the two cigarettes each had lit were visibly shaking as we rolled by. It seemed like Eric shaved about 10-15mph off our cruise speed after that.
We unloaded at home and while I wasn't expecting much, this little Ferguson has some serious brakes left on it! They had done an acceptable job of holding it on flat ground, but I stood on them halfway down the ramp when unloading and stopped the tractor cold. There's one thing I don't have to worry about for the moment, right? The rotted tire/wheel I mentioned earlier aired up just fine and is still holding this morning, but it will need all four replaced. The dry rot was magnified when we got it pulled out into broad daylight. I'm planning to keep this one so can't get too concerned about the investment in new rubber. The serial number became faintly visible in the improved light, as well. TO-433XX, which I'm reading as being a 1951 model.
Trailered up and ready to hit the road: