Friday, September 22, 2017

Hastings Municipal Airport (KHSI), Adams County, Nebraska: Council mulls options for airport’s future

Members of the Hastings City Council spent more than half an hour during their work session Monday discussing what they want the Hastings Municipal Airport to be.

Councilman Paul Hamelink, who serves as a council liaison to the airport advisory board, requested discussion about the airport organizational structure at the work session.

“I think it’s something we want to look as an opportunity for economic development for the city,” he said. “For that to happen, we’ve been addressing issues of how we structure the city for other departments, and this is a good opportunity to do that (with the airport).”

One option would be establishing an airport authority. However, Hamelink said because an airport authority would operate autonomous of the city, that is something he opposes.

“Because I see this as an opportunity for economic development, it ought to involve things like Hastings Economic Development Corp., the chamber of commerce, those sorts of things,” he said.

The airport is currently overseen by the city’s engineering department.

Councilwoman Ginny Skutnik asked Hamelink if there are needs that are not being met.

Hamelink said it’s more like opportunities not being met.  

He would like to see the airport operate similar to the Hastings Museum or Hastings Public Library with a functioning board that’s under the umbrella of the city.

Councilman Butch Eley presented Nebraska municipal airport statistics courtesy of the airport advisory board.

Hastings is in the middle based on population of communities with an airport but is the only airport that does not provide aircraft maintenance, flight instruction, aircraft rental and fuel truck services.

“Which is why when people are flying into those other airports they are spending a lot of money on fuel at those airports,” he said.

Skutnik asked how many potential new businesses are asking for aviation services.

Mayor Corey Stutte said the city has had “quite a few” businesses he described as “near wins” that have flown into the community, assessing Hastings.

“If some of these businesses that would bring in 150-300 employees into our community actually happen, they’ll be shuttling people back and forth from their headquarters,” he said. “They would like to fly into Hastings versus Grand Island. From HEDC’s perspective, I do think they see it as an economic development opportunity.”

The area west of the airport is designated for use as an industrial park.

Because of the economic development potential with the airport, Hamelink suggested the city’s development services department might be the best department to oversee it with a part-time employee taking that oversight role.

Stutte asked Hamelink if the city needs a fixed-base operator to run the airport.

Hamelink agreed that would be a good move.

Stutte suggested the city put out a request for proposals for a fixed-base operator to run the airport.

“That doesn’t mean we’re necessarily committing to anything, but at least it gets us off of center where he have been sitting on this issue for the last year,” he said.

Hamelink questioned whether the city could put out a request for proposals if the airport oversight structure has not been identified.

City Administrator Joe Patterson said moving the airport under the oversight of the development services department would be quite a change with regard to city structure.

“It may have merit, but we need to do a lot more discussing and looking at how other cities are managing that resource,” he said. “We know where we’re at. The question is, what does our community need it to be? I’m not so sure we’ve done enough soul searching to really answer that question. Certainly, from what we’ve inherited 17 years ago (from the airport authority) to where it is now from a plant perspective is totally different.”

He said he would work on drafting a request for proposals for an FBO.

The council also went into executive session to discuss personnel.

Original article can be found here ➤

REVA: Air ambulance crew rescues pregnant military member after Irma

It was an unforgettable mission after an unprecedented storm.

“It is usually a lush, green, tropical island, and we broke out and it was completely brown. The trees were bare. There were no leaves,” said REVA pilot Ben Watsky.

REVA is a medical air transport service with a team based at Schenectady County Airport. After Hurricane Irma ripped through the Virgin Islands, Ben was part of a REVA crew called on to rescue a 35-week pregnant U.S. military member who was trapped in her home on St. Thomas.

“You could see the houses on the coastline and the cliffs, windows were blown out. Roofs were off their houses,” said Watsky.

The woman was flown to a hospital outside Washington, D.C. She and her then-unborn child were both believed to be in good health at the time.

“It was a situation that could’ve turned into a medical emergency. It wasn’t currently, but if she waited any longer, it probably would’ve been,” said Watsky.

The trip was made using one of REVA's new Hawker 800XP airplanes. Two pilots were on board with three medical personnel. The plane can make its way to the U.S. Virgin Islands and back without having to stop and refuel.

Company officials say in recent weeks, their entire fleet has been focused on the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. They’ve transported nearly double the normal number of patients for this time of year.

“We’ve also converted some of our aircraft to more of a cargo configuration,” said Philip Spizale, REVA’s chief sales officer.

In addition to its normal business, REVA is also delivering essential supplies to areas devastated by recent storms.

“Fly those over to Puerto Rico to where the people need it most, and then as soon as we have access, throughout the Virgin Islands where the hospital systems are going to be in dire need over the coming weeks,” said Spizale.

They’re giving back to the very communities that helped REVA get off the ground, allowing them to fly these lifesaving missions.

“It’s like no other flying job that you can do. Having the opportunity to fly these aircraft and go pick these patients up and help people interact one-on-one is absolutely rewarding,” said Watsky.

Story and video:

Incident occurred September 22, 2017 at Buffalo Niagara International Airport (KBUF), Cheektowaga, Erie County, New York

CHEEKTOWAGA – An American Airlines flight from Chicago made an emergency landing at Buffalo Niagara International Airport late Friday afternoon.

American Airlines flight 3299 was scheduled to land in Buffalo but declared an emergency after pilots noticed a problem with the plane’s hydraulic system according to NFTA spokesperson Helen Tederous.

The flight is operated by regional air carrier Envoy Air.  The Canadair Regional Jet CRJ-700 landed safely around 5:40 pm.  There were 62 souls onboard.

Original article  ➤