Sunday, November 6, 2011

Octogenarian pilots ready to soar

MIAMI - A. Jay Cristol took his first flying lesson at 15. He couldn't afford the $10 for a one-hour class, so he stayed up for only 15 minutes - enough time to get him hooked for life.

The chief judge emeritus of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Miami still logs in hours whenever he gets a chance. He recently toasted his 82nd birthday - and more than six decades in the air.

Unusual? Not really. Cristol is one of about 110 members of the Florida chapter of the United Flying Octogenerians.

The group's requirement for membership: You must have been the pilot in command of an aircraft after your 80th birthday. This is no small feat because a pilot must take a physical annually and a flight test every two years.

"It just charges my battery," Cristol said about his weekly flights out of Opa-locka Executive Airport in Miami.

Cristol is in good company. Fellow UFOer Rogelio Corvo Jr. joined the Cuban Air Force at 17, attended cadet training in Texas and joined the U.S. Air Force. He flew in the Korean and Vietnam wars. Honorably discharged with the rank of captain, he switched to commercial airliners. Now retired, he owns a Cessna 172.

A couple of times a week, he soars out of Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport in Miami, sometimes for a quick hop to the Bahamas, occasionally as far as Missouri. He just turned 83.

"I'll fly as long as I'm healthy," he said. "This has always been what I wanted to do."

Charles Lopez, a retired Miami pharmaceutical executive, serves on the UFO board of directors. He acquired his wings in his mid-30s, when he lived in Puerto Rico. The delay was not for a lack of desire but a lack of funds.

His parents named him after Charles Lindbergh because he was born on the same day in June 1927 that the famous pilot arrived in New York after his flight to Paris. He grew up building planes from Popsicle sticks.

Now 84, Lopez takes his Cessna Cardinal II for a spin at least once a week. When he's airborne, he said, "You see things from a different perspective. You see the big picture, and you get a sense for being above it all."

UFO was started in 1982 by 25 aviators who wanted to bring together old pilots still flying. The organization now counts almost 1,000 members, most in the United States but also in Canada, Argentina, France and the United Kingdom.

Many are retired military and commercial pilots who still fly their private planes. The oldest member is 97. At one time, UFO boasted a 102-year-old member who voluntarily turned in his pilot's license after hitting the century mark - but still flew as a co-pilot.

In addition to a passion for flying, UFOers say they share a can-do attitude.

New UFO President Don Newman, a retired pharmacist and attorney from the Clearwater, Fla., area, quoted the late Norman Vincent Peale when talking about fliers: "The most important thing is not God, country, job and family. It is your attitude toward God, country, job and family."

Other pilots gathered around the tarmac on a hot September morning agreed.

"Some people get old and they get a complex," Corvo said. "They say, 'I'm too old for this. I'm too old for that.' Why?"

Displaying that can-do attitude, Newman, 88, flew his Beechcraft Bonanza V-tail from his central Florida hangar to Kendall-Tamiami for a newspaper interview. Why bother with a phone when you have wings?

He brought along a student, who listened with amazement to the older pilots' stories.

After decades in the cockpit these men have seen plenty. They remember when there was no radar; when pilots, not computers, plotted flights manually; and when six or seven briefcases of charts were necessary on longer flights.

"A lot is done for you now," Cristol said. "So I've done my best to keep up with technology."

These pilots' advanced age usually prompts a raised eyebrow or two.

"You get one of two reactions," Lopez said. "Some people tell you, 'Wow, that's great! How do you do it?' Then others say, 'Wow, that's dangerous! I don't want to be around anywhere this old goat is flying.' "

Age has changed UFOers' habits. They don't fly as often or as far. They don't go out in bad weather. They're more cautious, not only about their equipment, but also about their skills.

 Cristol periodically submits to a voluntary flight check with a flight instructor. Lopez won't go up at night.

"You have old pilots and you have bold pilots," Lopez quipped. "But you don't have old, bold pilots."

For more information about the United Flying Octogenerians, go to

Airbus Tries to Exploit Training Time Needed for All Nippon Airways Pilots on Boeing 787


TOKYO—All Nippon Airways Co. is taking significantly longer to train pilots for its new Boeing 787 jets than the aircraft maker and aviation-safety experts had expected, a surprise that Boeing Co. rival Airbus is trying to exploit.

ANA's training program for initial groups of pilots flying the twin-engine 787 Dreamliner takes about five weeks, ANA officials said. By contrast, Chicago-based Boeing for years has promised airlines that one of the new aircraft's major advantages would be short and relatively simple training requirements, typically lasting a week or less for many pilots.

The difference poses important cost and safety implications for ANA and other airlines waiting to take delivery of hundreds of 787 jetliners. Typically, the longer it takes an airline to run pilots through mandatory training, the higher its costs.

Minimizing the length of pilot training has become a major point of competition between Boeing and Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. At many airlines in Europe and elsewhere, only two or three days of training are required for pilots to shift between certain Airbus models. Boeing has been marketing the 787 by stressing that Boeing 777 pilots switching to fly the latest model typically should require no more than five days of training.

Officials at Airbus are trying to use ANA's 787 training time as a way to promote their own planes, arguing in recent sales pitches that Airbus planes are a better choice partly because pilot training is faster and therefore less costly, according to industry officials.

An Airbus spokeswoman wouldn't comment on whether Airbus is using ANA's long training time for the 787 to market Airbus jets.

Roei Ganzarski, chief customer officer for Boeing's flight-training organization, said ANA opted for "a few extra steps." That's the "choice they made along with the Japanese regulator," he said, to "introduce this brand new airplane." Mr Ganzarski declined to comment on training periods adopted by other carriers.

To continue reading, subscribe.  Already a subscriber?  LOG IN

Missing Man Formation: Monroe air show honors fallen pilot. (North Carolina)

Jack Mangan

MONROE, N.C. – The Warriors and Warbirds Air Show wrapped up in Monroe on Sunday, but not before honoring one of their fallen pilots.

Three vintage T-28 Trojans performed a “missing man” formation in honor of Jack Mangan. He was a fellow T-28 pilot who died in an air show accident in West Virginia on September 17th.

The formation also honored the service and sacrifice of all our veterans. 

FLORIDA: Man arrested after chase ends on Tampa International Airport (KTPA) property

Michael Shane Johnson

TAMPA — A man was arrested early Sunday after leading police on a chase that ended with him scaling a barbed-wire fence surrounding Tampa International Airport, authorities said.

Officers tried about 1 a.m. to stop a car driven by Michael S. Johnson, 27, of Tampa near 4400 W Tampa Bay Blvd. according to an arrest report. Johnson accelerated, sparking a chase.

He crashed into a patrol car before hitting a fence, police said. He bailed out and climbed the fence, lined with barbed wire.

Officers continued to chase him onto the airport property, police said. He was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail on $19,750 bail, facing charges of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, fleeing and attempting to elude a law enforcement officer, driving while license revoked, reckless driving and trespassing.

Tampa man smashes into police car trying to escape officers

TAMPA -- A Tampa man crashed into a police cruiser and hopped a barbed-wire fence onto airport property while trying to escape police this morning, according to an arrest report.

Shortly after 1 a.m., Tampa police officers tried to pull over Michael Shane Johnson, 27, in the 4400 block of Tampa Bay Boulevard, but he sped off, according to the report. Officers tried to block his car, but Johnson hit the accelerator and crashed into the marked patrol car.

Johnson, of 2829 W. Leroy St., Apt. A, ran away and hopped a barbed-wire fence onto airport property, the report states. But officers soon caught up with him.

He was arrested on charges of aggravated battery on a law-enforcement officer, fleeing to elude police, trespassing and driving with a revoked license.

KANSAS: Manhattan Regional Airport flying toward success

For Steel and Pipe Supply, traveling to vendors and employees was fairly straightforward: The Manhattan-based company had a private jet.

Bringing customers and vendors in, however, was a different, more expensive, story.

“It was an absolute two days lost in their schedule,” said company president Dennis Mullin.

But since 2009, visits from vendors Steel and Pipe Supply have been on the rise, despite the dip in the economy. And, Mullin said, there is one main reason for that: The daily commercial flights at the Manhattan Regional Airport.

“There’s no question that it’s helped us maintain and even gain new business,” he said.

Steel and Pipe Supply clearly isn’t the business filling seats.

In the two years since American Eagle first flew out of the airport, the Manhattan Regional Airport has doubled its annual passengers — from 25,074 in 2009 to more than 50,000 anticipated this year. It is running at an average of 85 percent capacity, said Shane White, assistant director at the airport.

The demand has increased flights from two a day to, starting Nov. 17, five. In 10 days, American Eagle will offer a second flight out of Manhattan to Chicago O’Hare each day. It is offered one flight to Chicago since November 2010 and three flights to Dallas-Fort Worth since April 2010.

And the airport already needs more space — about 25,500 square feet of it. Construction on some of the expansion is expected to start in 2013, White said.

But the success of the airport reaches beyond its 12,500 terminal, director Peter Van Kuren said.

It is stimulating more business at local companies. It is helping local businesses, even Kansas State University, with recruiting. It is helping the city, with an unemployment rate of 6 percent, weather the economic downturn. The nation’s rate rested at 9 percent.

And the airport is helping keep the millions of travel dollars once lost to Missouri in the state, Van Kuren said.

“The best part about this is not only is it good for quality of life for the individual, it’s a huge economic impact,” he said.

Manhattan’s airport has contributed to $22.9 million in economic activity, the creation of 233 jobs and an additional $6.5 million in payroll, according to a study from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Still, Van Kuren said, the airport isn’t reaching as far as he would like.

The airport is capturing about 19 percent of its catchment area, Van Kuren said. He would like to see that in the 30 percent range.

The Manhattan airport draws some passengers from Topeka, and hopes to increase that, Van Kuren said.

Despite that, Eric Johnson, director of the Metropolitan Topeka Airport Authority, said he loves what is going on in Manhattan — because Topeka can do it, too.

“They’ve got 55,000 people in Manhattan and we’re sitting at 126,000?” Johnson said. “We can do this.”

What Topeka needs, and what helped Manhattan get its airport, is a revenue guarantee to give carriers a little insurance for their investment, he said.

Manhattan secured a $2 million grant from the state so it could compensate American Eagle if its flights flew at 70 percent capacity. The city only had to dip into its local match of $250,000 during the first few months. The agreement ended in August with the entire $2 million going back to the state, Van Kuren said.

To that end, Topeka continues to look for funding, Johnson said, though it hasn’t been successful in the past three or four years.

He is focusing on 50-passenger regional jets to fly to places like Dallas, Memphis, Denver and Chicago.

Although the effort seems to be grounded, for Johnson, the question of whether Topeka will get a commercial airline again isn’t a matter of if. It is a matter of when.

Opinion: Air India is fast becoming a national disaster

Our national carrier is in deep trouble. A loss of Rs 20,000 crore, a debt of Rs 40,000 crore, a clueless management, an owner who just does not understand how airlines are run, a fast deserting clientele and 30,000 hapless employees stuck in the middle. There just seems to be no hope for its future. The airline was once the pride of India as well as emerging markets, but today it is a pale shadow of itself, and is fast becoming a national disaster.

There are many excuses doing the rounds for this sorry state of affairs. That the government did not adequately fund the airline earlier, which is true. That the airline took on huge debts to buy new planes which were unnecessary, which is not true as its entire fleet was aged, possibly becoming obsolete in the near future. That the government opened up the industry, allowed private carriers, massively increased bilaterals and compromised Air India's privileged monopoly, driving it to ruin.

These voices are striking back and holding up the expansion of the industry, denying the private airlines more international rights, and generally working against the Indian consumer. It is a throwback to the bad old days when Air India was India, and what was good for Air India was good for India, and the consumer be damned! The civil aviation ministry then was a ministry for Air India, not a ministry for India with the objective to further the interests of the Indian consumer.

Over 10 years ago, the IT industry in Bangalore requested the government to have direct flights from Bangalore to the US and Europe as clients were reluctant to come otherwise. Air India refused saying it was not a priority. We then asked the government to allow overseas airlines to provide the connections.

From the ministry prompt came the reply informing us that it was their prerogative to decide for us, that there was something called bilaterals, which they decided, and we could fly out of Delhi if we wished and we were not right in championing the cause of overseas airlines. In short, saying their objective was protecting Air India, not consumers and that 'Air India was India'!

The same voices seem to getting stronger again. As citizens, we need to make the point clear. Air India's interests are not India's interests. That the ministry and government should protect consumer interests and that means an open sky policy, more freedom for all airlines in India, whether private or public sector to fly overseas freely, the expansion of bilaterals in areas where Indians wish to fly and to put consumer interests first before all others.

It is also time to consider whether we need a 'national airline' at all. This is a concept which most of the world has given up, and if we want one why cannot a Jet Airways or Kingfisher Airlines be our national carrier?

Missoula skydiver injured in Griz game jump has nearly 2 dozen fractures

Courtesy photo

Blaine Wright, 53, a 37-year skydiving veteran, turned his parachute at the last second during a skydive into the Washington-Grizzly Stadium last Saturday to avoid crashing into the student section of the crowd before the UM-Weber State football game.

Thoughts, well-wishes

To send a card or letter to Blaine Wright, write to: Harborview Medical Center, 325 Ninth Ave., Seattle, WA, 98104-2499, attention patient Blaine Wright. You can also email him by finding the "email a patient" link at To send a gift to Wright - such as flowers or a balloon - call (206) 744-3495.

The "pops" that a witness heard when Blaine Wright slammed onto concrete last weekend outside Washington-Grizzly Stadium turned out to be more than just a few broken bones.

Wright, the Silvertip Skydiver recovering at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, has nearly two dozen individual fractures from his skull to his left leg, and was just moved Friday night from the intensive care unit into his own room.

Ever since the skydiver plummeted onto a concrete retaining wall outside the stadium on Oct. 29, friends and others have been trying to reach him at the hospital - not knowing the severity of his injuries, said his sister Beth Cole of Missoula.

"He's not at this point able to receive visitors or telephone calls," said the Hellgate High School teacher. "But he can receive cards and well-wishes."

The 53-year-old Wright, a 37-year skydiving veteran, turned his parachute at the last second during a skydive into the stadium Saturday to avoid crashing into the student section of the crowd before the UM-Weber State football game. Battling gusting winds, he then clipped a tree, causing his parachute to collapse. His body hit the concrete wall just outside a small lawn on the southeast corner of the stadium.

Here's the tally of the injuries Wright suffered, according to Cole:

a collapsed lung

seven pelvic fractures

seven broken lumbar processes in his lower vertebrae (processes are small bone protrusions attached to vertebrae)

two skull fractures;

a hip fracture

four broken ribs

a broken arm and a broken leg

numerous cuts, abrasions and hemorrhages

The accident prompted UM officials to discuss the future of the longstanding relationship between the Silvertip Skydivers and the university. On Friday, UM announced it would allow jumps at least through the end of this year's football season.

So three Silvertip Skydivers parachuted into the stadium before the UM-Western Oregon game on Saturday to uproarious applause. The jump, dedicated to Wright, brought his sister to tears. Cole has been keeping a bedside vigil next to her brother in Seattle, but recently returned to Missoula.

"It was pretty emotional for me to see them come in," said Cole. "I've watched my brother skydive since I was a kid. They announced it was dedicated to Blaine, and it was very emotional.

Wright, who is unmarried and an independent aerospace engineer from Whitefish, faces months of recovery - an undetermined number of weeks at Harborview, followed by further recovery and rehabilitation in an as-yet-to-be-determined separate facility.

And he also has a wheelchair in his future during that recovery, since there can be no pressure on a fractured pelvis as it heals.

Still, Wright is feeling upbeat, said Cole.

"He is doing well, but he has a long road ahead of him," she said.

Western Montanans - including his "hundreds of friends" in the area - may not have appreciated just how seriously injured Wright is, Cole said.

He'd like to speak with everybody who calls, but talking is an exhausting endeavor in his condition.

"He can speak but it's extremely exhausting for him to do so," she said. "So our conversations are short because they're so tiring for him."

Thoughts, well-wishes

To send a card or letter to Blaine Wright, write to: Harborview Medical Center, 325 Ninth Ave., Seattle, WA, 98104-2499, attention patient Blaine Wright. You can also email him by finding the "email a patient" link at To send a gift to Wright - such as flowers or a balloon - call (206) 744-3495.

Aircraft have been unable to fly in or out of Lukla: Bad weather strands trekkers near Mount Everest.

  • The U.S. Embassy in Katmandu says more than 1,500 trekkers are stranded
  • Aircraft have been unable to fly in or out of Lukla
  • Supplies in the remote town are limited, the embassy says
(CNN) -- Bad weather around Nepal's iconic Mount Everest has stranded more than 1,500 trekkers in the area of a town near the mountain.

Aircraft have been unable to fly in or out of the airport in Lukla, where supplies are limited, according to the U.S. Embassy in Katmandu.

"Stranded tourists may wish to consider the option of trekking down to Jiri, where bus transportation to Kathmandu is available. The Government of Nepal does not plan to evacuate tourists to Kathmandu at this time," the U.S. Embassy said in a statement late last week.

Lukla, located in northeast Nepal, is a popular starting point for people on their way to the world's tallest peak.
Tourists have been stranded there since Tuesday, according to the Xinhua news agency.

"We have our flights on stand-by. As soon as the weather visibility improves, our teams are ready for rescue," said Nepal Army Brigadier General Ramindra Chhetri, Xinhua reported.

United Arab Emirates Civil Aviation Authority goes after air safety violators

The number of airlines operating in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) registered with the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority totalled 768 operators with 595 aircraft registered aircraft, according to UAE General Civil Aviation Authority Director General Saif Al Suwaidi. During the current year 83 aircraft have been registered. While the total for 2010 was 512 aircraft and 409 for 2009. The majority of which are operated by Emirates, Etihad Airways, Air Arabia, Fly Dubai and RAK Airways.

The statistics indicate the number of airline personnel working for the national airlines totalled 8,184 cockpit crew, 3,093 maintenance engineers, and 31,268 cabin crew.

The UAE authorities banned 10 foreign air operators (permitting only two this year), compared to banning 19 in 2010 and 22 n 2009, bringing the number of operators banned 51 air operators during the past three years.

It suspended the work of 13 non-local pilots, engineers and air traffic controllers this year, compared with 14 last year, bringing the number suspended to 27 people during the past two years.

Al Suwaidi emphasized the UAE has been transformed into a regional hub and leader in the airline industry globally, attracting talent worldwide. While there are many challenges, most notably the failure to meet the need of recruiting locally trained staff based on operational cost, security and integrity factors of this sector. Al Suwaidi mentioned there is a complete absence of any clear policy or legislation despite the sensitivity of the sole dependence on foreign labor.

Socata Trinidad GT, LX-SAR: Gear Up Landing and Rescue Mission. de Megève France altiport.

by seduke1968 on Nov 1, 2011

"We did not know, what will happen in the next 4 minutes. I was filming the approach for my personal video files, than it happens. The crash. Right after the crash, we don't knew what was happening. We all survived. This video shows the approach to the altiport megève. Both, the pilot and the mountain rate teacher have several thousands of flight hours and a huge experience, but it happens, that the gear was forgotten. On the video you can hear the warning signal of the plane, that indicates, that the gear was not pulled out. No one was harmed by the crash.

After the crash, we tried to move the plane, but we had to get a tractor, to pull the crashed plane from the runway. You can see this in the further video.

So,  I can give you the following advice:  Check your gear twice or use a plane with a fixed gear.

The flight was on the 29. August 2009 at 10:19 AM."

At 1:38 the flight instructor asks: "You didn't lower the gear?"

   Rescue Mission Altiport de Megève:

Socata Trinidad GT, LX-SAR: Gear Up Landing and Rescue Mission at Altiport de Megève in France.

by seduke1968 on Nov 1, 2011

"We did not know, what will happen in the next 4 minutes. I was filming the approach for my personal video files, than it happens. The crash. Right after the crash, we don't knew what was happening. We all survived. This video shows the approach to the altiport megève. Both, the pilot and the mountain rate teacher have several thousands of flight hours and a huge experience, but it happens, that the gear was forgotten. On the video you can hear the warning signal of the plane, that indicates, that the gear was not pulled out. No one was harmed by the crash.

After the crash, we tried to move the plane, but we had to get a tractor, to pull the crashed plane from the runway. You can see this in the further video.

So,  I can give you the following advice:  Check your gear twice or use a plane with a fixed gear.

The flight was on the 29. August 2009 at 10:19 AM."

At 1:38 the flight instructor asks: "You didn't lower the gear?"

Rescue Mission Altiport de Megève after airplane crash:

San Diego’s East County Expands Ban On Sunday Helicopter Flights, But Residents Complain Noise Continues As SDG&E Pushes Forward On Powerlink.


November 6, 2011  – On Friday, the County Department of Planning and Land Use announced a new amendment to noise variances granted to SDG&E for Sunrise Powerlink construction.

Due to residents' complaints, the County has banned Sunday flights over the Carveacre area, according to LeAnn Carmichael at DPLU. The County is also considering requests from other communities seeking broader bans on Sunday flights in the Alpine and Lakeside areas.

A meeting of concerned residents in Lakeside’s El Monte Valley last week was “heart-breaking,” said Laura Cyphert, a Lakeside Planning Group member and co-founder of the East County Community Action Coalition. “There were many people from the community who testified as to the devastating impact the construction was having on their lives, including reports of children being nearly injured when their horse was spooked by a helicopter.

Visitors who live outside the valley also testified that “the helicopters were making it impossible to enjoy El Monte Park, which is a popular weekend location for birthday parties, group events, and family picnics,” Cyphert said, adding that the variance allowing SDG&E to fly seven days a week is also adversely impacting horse boarding facilities and visitors to El Capitan Reservoir.

Last week, the County amended a variance to grant relief in a portion of the valley from Sunday flights, but did not prohibit flights related to construction at the eastern end of the valley.

“So effectively, we still have the constant stream of helicopters flying over homes and parks en route to more distant construction sites,” Cyphert complained, adding that residents plan to ask the county to extend a no-fly zone to cover the entire El Monte Valley on Sundays.

SDG&E requested the variances allowing seven days a week of helicopter flights in hopes of hastening construction before December 1, when all flights must stop for the winter in these areas due to eagle nesting season.

Meanwhile, today ECM received an e-mail from Alpine Planning Group Lou Russo, whose home overlooks Bell’s Bluff in Alpine, where he and neighbors have complained of noisy Sunday flights for the past two weekends.

“Nine a.m. Sunday morning,” he observed as the buzz of helicopters filled the air, “and they’re still at it.”

Cessna 210B Centurion, N9741X: Emergency Landing at Yeager Airport (KCRW), Charleston, West Virginia

Photo Courtesy: Yeager Airport

A Jackson County pilot is forced to make an emergency landing at Yeager Airport.

It happened around 12pm Sunday.

John Upton was flying his single engine Cessna from Ravenswood to Cincinnati, Ohio.

Shortly after takeoff, he noticed that there was a problem with the landing gear.

Upton decided to fly to Yeager Airport in Charleston because they had the proper emergency equipment to handle the situation.

There was a small fire when he attempted to land the plane, but firefighters were able to put it out.

Upton was the only person on board and didn't get hurt.

The single engine plane was placed on a trailer still leaking fuel and towed to an isolated spot near the general aviation area. The accident blocked the airport's main runway for a time.

Bell 206B, N63Q: Accident occurred October 04, 2011 in New York, New York

NTSB Identification: ERA12MA005 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 04, 2011 in New York, NY
Aircraft: BELL 206B, registration: N63Q
Injuries: 1 Fatal,2 Serious,2 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 4, 2011, at 1525 eastern daylight time, a Bell 206B, N63Q, registered to a private owner, crashed into the East River during takeoff from East 34th Street Heliport (6N5), New York, New York. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the airframe. The certificated commercial pilot and one passenger were not injured. Two passengers sustained serious injuries and one passenger was killed. The flight originated from 6N5 at 1524.

The pilot stated to NTSB investigators that he was taking friends on a local sightseeing flight. He stated that he landed at the heliport, picked up the 4 passengers, and initiated a takeoff to the northeast. The helicopter climbed to a pilot-estimated altitude between 30 to 50 feet over the East River. Shortly thereafter, the pilot experienced a problem which included a small left yaw. He then initiated a right turn to attempt to return and land at the heliport but the helicopter became uncontrolled and impacted the water. After water entry, the helicopter rolled inverted.

During the impact, three-fourths of one main rotor blade separated and was not recovered from the river. The remainder of the helicopter was recovered and transported to a hangar for examination. The engine was retained for a subsequent examination.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, and rotorcraft helicopter. He reported a total flight experience of 2,287 hours, of which 1,500 hours were in helicopters, including 420 hours in the same make and model as the accident helicopter.

The helicopter was manufactured in 1976 and equipped with a Rolls-Royce (Allison) model 250, 400-horsepower, turboshaft engine. The most recent annual inspection was performed on October 2, 2011. At that time, the helicopter had accumulated approximately 11,580 total flight hours.

A third woman has died from injuries she suffered in last month’s tragic East River helicopter crash, The Post has learned.

Harriet Nicholson, 60, was pronounced dead earlier this morning at Bellevue Hospital, where she had been in critical condition since the Oct. 4 disaster, sources revealed.

The cause of death was “respiratory complications of near drowning” and the time of death was 3:22 a.m., according to the medical examiner’s office.

Nicholson’s daughter, Sonia Marra, 40, was found dead in the wreckage. Marra’s partner, Helen Tamaki, 43, died Oct. 11 at Bellevue of complications caused by a lack of oxygen to her brain after she nearly drowned in the tragedy.

Nicholson’s husband, Paul, 71, survived the crash relatively unscathed, as did pilot Paul Dudley.

The family had been visiting New York to celebrate Marra’s 40th birthday and were going for a quick sightseeing tour past the Empire State Building when Dudley, 56, lost control of his 1976 Bell Ranger chopper just after taking off from the East 34th Street Heliport.

The copter had been through a routine inspection two days prior to the fatal crash, and NTSB investigators have ruled out engine failure. A final report on the exact cause could take up to a year to be released.

FAA Investigates Lasers Shined On Planes At La Guardia Airport (KLGA) New York, New York.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating after lasers were pointed at two airplanes at LaGuardia Airport on Saturday night.

Officials say a laser was pointed at a Jetlink flight that was landing around 6 p.m. Saturday and another was pointed at a United plane about an hour later.

Both planes were approaching the same runway at LaGuardia.

FAA officials say they are trying to determine where the lasers came from.

The agency says laser beams can temporarily blind or distract pilots, and federal law prohibits any interference with an aircraft pilot.

Yukon popular place to watch NAS Jax Air Show

Just across Roosevelt Boulevard from Jacksonville Naval Air Station, and over the railroad tracks, is the tiny community of Yukon.

There are a few businesses, a church and about a dozen or so RVs or mobile homes.

On a given weekend day, J.L. Trent’s Seafood and Grill and Murray’s Tavern bring in at least a couple hundred people.

But on a year like this one, when the NAS Jax Air Show is going on across the street, those numbers can easily double or more.

From a outdoor bar stool, a bench or a back of a pickup truck, visitors in Yukon have a front-row seat to one of the most unique - and one of the noisiest - shows in town.

Parts of the area are public property, and people parked for free. Others parts are privately owned, and a $5 donation was collected to benefit the Boy Scouts and the Fisher House, which helps provide free or low-cost accommodations to military families when loved ones are getting treatment in a military medical center.

Kurt Schindler, 61, brought his daughter Devon Schindler, 15, to see the Air Show from Yukon, because he found it easier than dealing with traffic across the street.

“I don’t go over to the base,” Schindler said. “It’s a pain in the neck.”

Father and daughter arrived early and sat on the back of the pickup truck while their dog, Shaggy, walked around on a leash held by Kurt Schindler.

As the show started around 10 a.m., Shaggy seemed a little skittish by the sounds coming from the sky, but not too much that it stopped the dog from continuing to sniff the ground and eat some grass.

From where they sat, they couldn’t hear any radios broadcasting parts of the show. They couldn’t tell you what was in the air at any given time, they just enjoyed the show.

And the company.

“It’s mostly an excuse to get out and spend time together,” Devon Schindler said.

Just across the street from where the Schindler’s truck was parked, Gary Rubbert, 50, was standing outside Murray’s Tavern chatting with friends. He comes to Yukon a few times a month - to enjoy the seafood at Trent’s and the dart competitions and Taco Fridays, when he can, at Murray’s.

He couldn’t picture a better place to enjoy the Air Show Sunday.

“We get to hang out with our friends over here,” Rubbert said. “It’s more of a tailgate atmosphere.”

Back in the early and mid-20th Century, Yukon was filled with and surrounded by military housing.

When Mike and Bob Justiss were growing up in and around Yukon, the community had a meat market, restaurants, laundry mat and numerous other shops. Over time, many of the businesses closed, including the post office in the old house that now serves as an office for Yukon Industries Ltd., owned by the Justiss brothers.

“It just kind of dwindled,” Mike Justiss said.

But the Yukon Baptist Church remains, as do Trent’s and Murray’s. The brothers own much of the land in the eight-acre community, though not where the church sits. They’re hoping to bring more businesses to the area - so they like to see these days when the streets are full and the businesses are hopping.

“Our theme is ‘Yukon Rising,’” Mike Justiss said.

'Helicopters needed for crisis situations in India'

New Delhi: Political will and regulations are urgently required to launch helicopter operations to maintain law and order and emergency medical services in India as the demand to deal with these situations was rising, a senior chopper firm executive has said.

"A strong political will is needed to consider heli-operations in India. The first aspect is to finalise the principles and then make regulations and guidelines. All this is required to be undertaken urgently," Eurocopter's Director (Market Development) Michael Rudolph said here.

To questions on funding for acquisition of helicopters for law and order or medical services (HEMS), he said while the state would have to invest on equipping the law and order machinery better, HEMS operations could be funded by non-profit organisations, charities or such foundations.

Asked about problems relating to government funding, he said, "In the European Union, a mere 0.4 per cent of the annual health budget is spent on helicopter ambulance services. So it is not a very big deal".

In this context, he referred to Eurocopter operations in several countries including the US, the UK, Brazil, France and Germany and said, "Our helicopters provide services ranging from traditional air support to multi-role intelligence and police air operations."

He said a major role of these choppers, functioning with the police and security agencies, was on prevention, intelligence gathering, detection, reduction of risks and intervention.

These operations were carried out by airborne observation and surveillance, C3 (command, control and communication), troop deployment and commando intervention when required.

Besides, helicopters were also being used for a variety of activities ranging from traffic control, firefighting, disaster search and rescue to patrolling of harbours, borders and coastal surveillance, prevention or control of oil spills, pipeline monitoring, Rudolph said.

In India, he said Eurocopter choppers were flying with various private and state-run companies. They have also started operating with oil firms and paramilitary forces now.

"Eurocopter helicopters are designed to respond to these emerging challenges and we have a wide-range of products which are the best to accomplish highly complex missions. Our solutions pave the way for launching airborne law enforcement operations in India," he said.

Rudolph said the equipment on board of helicopters with the US police include items like thermal imagers, searchlights, moving map systems, night vision goggle and platforms for tactical team transport and deployment.

In some cases, they also have a six gigahertz video downlink system that allows the helicopter to broadcast images to a central receive site, as well as portable handheld units.

"With a modern product line, Eurocopter has responded to the increasing security requirements around the world by adapting helicopter family very specifically to meet the demands of homeland security and rescue operations," he said, adding, this was the reason why Eurocopter had cornered over half the share of public services market like police, border patrol and coast guard.

"Thus with its expertise and product portfolio, Eurocopter can offer solutions that will pave the way for launching helicopters in airborne law enforcement role in India," Rudolph said.

South Africa: State spending on new jets 'is simply wrong'

Government's first priority should be to resolve the chaos in the South African Air Force's VIP transport squadron before spending substantial amounts on long-range jets, the Independent Democrats (ID) said on Sunday.

"It is shocking that on more than two occasions the safety of the deputy president [Kgalema Motlanthe] was at risk, and that important state business could not be conducted due to technical problems," ID parliamentary leader Joe Mcgluwa said in a statement.

"We call upon the minister to expedite the investigation of all factors which may lead to safety risks including background checks on pilots and crew as well as travel history of all aircraft used to transport the president [Jacob Zuma] and the deputy president."

Safety measures should be done by the department of defence to curb unnecessary expenditure, he said.

The state was expected to spend R1.6-billion on two new long-range jets for Zuma and Motlanthe, according to a report in the Sunday Times.

The department of defence told the publication that a tender was out for the purchase of two new business jets for their exclusive use after technical problems on VIP flights.

"It is important that we ensure transparent procurement processes as we are accountable to the taxpayers, especially since a large fraction of South Africans are still subjected to poor service delivery and a distinct lack of basic services," said Mcgluwa.

Earlier, the Democratic Alliance said it was "simply wrong" to spend such a substantial amount on the jets.

"The fact is that it is simply wrong to spend R1.6-billion on business jets when millions of people in our country do not have housing, health or access to basic services," DA MP David Maynier said in a statement.

Maynier said he would schedule a meeting with Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu in order to get a full and comprehensive briefing on the planned acquisition.

Technical issues
In 2009, on his way back from an African Union summit in Libya, Motlanthe's airplane made an emergency landing on a dark runway in the Democratic Republic of Congo after it had missed a fuel stop in the Central African Republic.

In September, the airplane flying him to the opening of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand missed its first landing slot "as a precautionary measure", according to the defence department.

The secretary of defence, Mpumi Mpofu, has resigned and Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano, the head of the air force, has also tendered his resignation after Motlanthe missed an official state visit to Finland last month because of mechanical problems in the aircraft he was supposed to use. -- Sapa and staff reporter

NORAD concluding exercise in Washington region today

WASHINGTON — NORAD is finishing up a training exercise that began with flights over the Washington region earlier this week.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command began its Falcon Virgo 12-02 exercise Wednesday. The exercise is designed to test NORAD’s ability to intercept and identify suspect aircraft.

Flights in the capital region are taking place at two times each day — between 11:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. and between 2:30 and 5:30 a.m.

The flights are scheduled to conclude Sunday.

In Pictures: The Lucky Tupolev 154M, RA-85684. (Russia)

It was an unbelievable luck that on September 7th, 2010, the crew of the plane carrying 72 passengers on board, managed to make an emergency landing on an abandoned runway near Izhma Village. Since then, the lucky Tu-154 has been called ‘a miracle of Izhma’. The company ‘ALROSA’, the second largest diamond-mining company in the world, which owns the plane, did not leave it in taiga but spent over 20 million rubles (65o thousand dollars) to restore it and make ‘the lucky aircraft’ fly again.

RAW VIDEO: From the inside and evacuation of forced gear up landing. LOT Polish Airlines Boeing 767-300, SP-LPC, Flight LO-16. Warsaw, Poland

American Airlines Boeing 737-800 Ice pick found on D.C.-bound plane

A "crude ice pick" was found on a D.C.-bound flight this morning, causing all passengers to be evacuated, officials said.

Shortly before 8 a.m., a passenger of American Airlines Flight 1054 found a "crude ice pick" in the back pocket of a seat, according to an airlines spokesperson.

The ice pick was found during the boarding process in Miami. The passenger reported the discovery to the flight crew who then notified authorities.

The item was removed and the aircraft swept out, according to a news release from TSA.

All 160 passengers on board the Boeing 737-800 had to be deplaned and screened. A police K9 also searched the aircraft.

The flight was delayed by 85 minutes, but without further incident. The flight is slated to arrive into Washington Reagan at 12:04 p.m.

Vietnam Airlines Airbus A321: Passenger opens emergency door as aircraft was ready to take off.

A domestic flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi was delayed for over two hours on Saturday after a passenger opened the emergency exit door as the airplane, operated by national flagship carrier Vietnam Airlines, was ready to take off.

Nguyen Duc Duy, identified as a 22-year-old college student, suddenly flung the emergency door open by pressing the “Open” button next to it when the Airbus A321 was on the runway, according the authority that manages Tan Son Nhat Airport where the flight VN1162 was scheduled to depart at 8:30 pm.

The evacuation slide was shortly inflated and thus the captain demanded an immediate postponement.

Duy explained he had just wanted to open the window to enjoy the view outside, as he was sitting beside the door, and thought the button was meant for it.

He was a first-time flyer, Duy said.

The other passengers were transferred to another flight which took off more than two hours later.

The student is facing fines of up to VND20 million (US$960) as prescribed by local aviation regulations, the authority said.

Cessna T210L Turbo Centurion, Victor Pantaleo (rgd. owner), N732BX: Accident occurred Sunday, June 26, 2011 in Romeoville, Illinois

NTSB Identification: CEN11FA425 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, June 26, 2011 in Romeoville, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/21/2012
Aircraft: CESSNA T210L, registration: N732BX
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

According to the passenger, the pilot had successfully completed two touch-and-go landings, and during the climbout, the engine lost power. The airplane impacted trees, a power line, and terrain. A postaccident examination of the airplane revealed no fuel in the wing fuel tanks, and the gascolator only contained about 2 ounces of fuel. Only a trace amount of fuel was found in the engine’s fuel manifold valve. The passenger said that the pilot had drained the fuel sumps, but he did not recall whether the pilot had fueled the airplane. A subsequent examination and operational test of the airplane’s engine was performed. No defects in engine operation were detected and the engine produced full rated power during the test.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

A total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion as a result of the pilot’s inadequate fuel planning.

On June 26, 2011, about 1431 central daylight time, a Cessna T210, N732BX, impacted trees, a power line, and terrain, during a forced landing after a loss of engine power near Romeoville, Illinois. The private pilot was fatally injured and the passenger received serious injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage during the impact. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual flight rules (VFR) conditions prevailed for the flight which was not on a flight plan. The flight originated from the Brookeridge Airpark (LL22), Downers Grove, Illinois at an unconfirmed time and was en route to the Lewis University Airport (LOT), Romeoville, Illinois.

The airplane was owned by the pilot and based at LL22. LOT is located 10 miles south-southwest of LL22. The passenger in the airplane reported that they departed LL22 with the intention of completing some touch and go’s at LOT. He stated that they had just completed two touch and go maneuvers and were climbing out when the engine quit. He stated that the pilot attempted an off field landing short of the airport. The passenger stated that he remembered the pilot draining the fuel sumps before takeoff but could not remember if they ever put fuel in the aircraft.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with single-engine land airplane and instrument airplane ratings. He was issued a third class airman medical certificate, with a limitation requiring the pilot to have glasses available for near vision, on November 10, 2009. He reported 5,850 hours total flight time on his most recent airman medical certificate application. His most recent flight review was completed on May 31, 2011. The pilot’s flight logbook was not available for review during the investigation.

The airplane was a 1976 Cessna model T210L airplane, serial number 21061397. The airplane was a six seat, high wing monoplane of predominately aluminum construction. It had a tricycle retractable landing gear configuration, and was powered by a 285 horsepower, turbo-charged six cylinder engine. The engine was a Continental Motors model TSIO-520-PCH, bearing serial number 513067.

The airplane had accumulated about 5,160 hours at the time of the most recent annual inspection. That inspection was completed on August 16, 2010. About 9 hours had accumulated on the airplane since that inspection.

At 1440, the weather conditions recorded at LOT were: wind from 110 degrees at 7 knots; visibility 10 miles; scattered clouds at 2,000 feet above ground level (agl); temperature 27 degrees Celsius; dew point 14 degrees Celsius; altimeter 29.93 inches of mercury.

The airplane came to rest on the side of an embankment near the intersection of Airport Road and Illinois Route 53 in Romeoville, Illinois. During the impact sequence, the airplane struck trees and a power line. The resting location of the airplane was about 2,100 feet east-northeast of the approach end of runway 27 at LOT. The airplane came to rest facing east having struck a tree during the impact sequence. Impact evidence indicated that the airplane was travelling in a southwest direction prior to its impact with the tree. The airplane struck the tree on the forward right side of the fuselage which was crushed rearward and inward. The airplane’s engine was separated from the airframe and located about 50 feet southwest of the main wreckage. The airplane wreckage was removed from the accident site for further examination.

Examination of the airplane in a hangar at LOT was conducted on June 30, 2011. The engine was separated from the airframe and was resting on a wooden pallet. The engine was lifted using an engine hoist. The propeller was removed during the examination. The upper spark plugs were removed and a borescope examination of the engine performed. No defects that would prevent engine operation were detected. The engine rotated freely and compression and suction could be felt on all cylinders while rotating the engine. The magneto impulse couplings could be heard while rotating the engine. Spark was detected on all spark plug leads during rotation. The fuel manifold valve was opened and a trace amount of fuel was found. The engine was shipped to Continental Motors for a possible engine run examination.

The airframe was substantially intact. The airplane was positioned level and the wings shored up to keep it level. The wings and tail surfaces remained attached. The landing gear was in the retracted position and the flaps were in the up position. The elevator trim tab actuator was measured to be 1.55 inches equating to a 0 to 5 degrees tab down deflection. There was buckling of the aft fuselage in a downward left direction. There was leading edge damage to the left wing that was consistent with the reported impact with the overhead power line. All control surfaces remained attached and all hinge locations were intact. Continuity was confirmed from each control surface to the cockpit area. No fuel was found in either wing fuel tank when checked with a fuel strainer cup. The gascolator was removed and its contents drained. An estimated 2 ounces total quantity of liquid was drained from the gascolator. Of that 2 ounces, about 1-1/2 ounces appeared to be 100LL aviation gasoline and ½ ounce appeared to be water. The sample was tested using a water detection paste to confirm the presence of water. The separated layer was confirmed to be water.

A subsequent examination and test run was conducted on the engine from the airplane on October 11, 2011 at the Continental Motors facility in Mobile, Alabama. The NTSB investigator in charge was present for the preparation and engine test run. Several engine components that had sustained impact damage during the accident were replaced with substitute or repaired parts prior to the engine test run. Subsequently, the engine was placed into an engine testing cell and run at various throttle settings from idle to full throttle. No defects were detected in the operation of the engine during the test run. The engine was able to produce full rated power output and exhibited no hesitation or stumbling during throttle application.

An autopsy of the pilot was performed on June 27, 2011. The pilot’s was attributed to multiple traumatic injuries sustained in the accident.

The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute forensic toxicology report noted the presence of Ibuprofen and Quinine in the submitted samples. Specifically, the report noted:
Ibuprofen detected in Urine;
Quinine detected in Urine;

Ibuprofen is a nonnarcotic analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent. It is available in prescription, as well as nonprescription, forms.
Quinine is an anti-malarial used in the treatment of malaria and leg cramps. It is an additive in tonic water.


 June 26, 2011 (ROMEOVILLE, Ill.) (WLS) -- One person was killed and another was seriously injured when a single-engine plane went down near Lewis University Airport in suburban Romeoville. 

 The plane took down power lines when it crashed and caused outages that affected 1,000 ComEd customers. Because of live wires, ComEd had to turn the power off before emergency crews were able to help the pilot and the passenger.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the plane took off from Brook Rdge Air Park in Downers Grove and witnesses say it looked like the plane had problems and was hoping to land at the Lewis University Airport.

But, it never made it. The owner of the Cessna 210 plane killed its owner, 68-year-old Victor Pantaleo. Hours after it crashed, the plane was removed from the lawn of the St. Charles Borromeo Pastoral Center.

It was about 2:30 p.m. when Wayne Brown and Vince Piazza looked up in the air and saw a small plane in a slow descent.

"We looked up, the plane couldn't have been more than 25 feet above our head on a steady downward hill," Brown said.

"You could tell it was going down," Piazza said. "As it was going down, it was a steady descent. It was kind of wobbling back and forth."

Watching from a used car lot just a few feet away, Brown and Piazza heard the plane crash as it clipped power lines on its way down.

"We heard the initial first hit on a tree and then we heard a crash on the power lines explode back, and by the time that was all happening, we were turning the corner, the first one on the scene," Brown said.

The men say they immediately called 911 and ran to the plane to help, but couldn't.

"It was a helpless feeling because we couldn't get to plane. There was power lines on it and there was fuel that we smelled," Brown said.

"We noticed that the power lines were down on top of the small-engine aircraft. There were two male subjects aboard the aircraft. Both, at the time, were still alive," Romeoville Police Sgt. Brian Bulmann.

Witnesses say the pilot was unconscious. His passenger was screaming for help.

"The passenger was, like I said, half ejected out of the plane, so he was still seat-belted in but half out of it, because it took most of the hit on the passenger's side. And he was moaning and groaning and screaming to get out of the plane and the police officer told him to hold tight because the power lines were all hot and they had to wait for ComEd to come and shut the power lines off," Piazza said.

FAA officials say the plane owner Victor Pantaleo died at the hospital, but they do not know if the 68-year-old was piloting the plane or if he was the passenger.

The cause of the crash is still unknown. 


ARFF personnel follow Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 139 guidelines for annual training, whereas all department members are trained annually on the ARFF standard operating guidelines (SOGs) and several practical scenarios to keep up their skills. As with ARFF, department members not on a specialty team receive basic first responder training in technical rescue and other disciplines. It is this basic training in ARFF and technical rescue that provided the foundation for a rapid response and aggressive rescue of two victims onboard a 1976 Cessna 210 that crashed about a half mile northeast of KLOT on June 26, 2011. It was reported that the plane had just taken off from Runway 9 and was circling back around to land on Runway 27 because of apparent engine trouble.

At approximately 1430 hours, WESCOM (our regional 911 center) received a call for a plane down near State Route 53 and Airport Road in Romeoville, Illinois. Callers reported that a plane had crashed into power lines and hit a tree and aircraft passengers had possibly been ejected. WESCOM immediately dispatched our predetermined ARFF response to the area given by the caller.

Read more and photos:

Operation Migration marks decade of helping whopping cranes

MILWAUKEE -- An effort started a decade ago to return the whooping crane to its original numbers in eastern North America seemed outlandish at the time but Operation Migration is still going strong.

Each year since 2001, workers in Wisconsin don crane-like costumes to raise chicks hatched in captivity. They then teach young cranes an annual migration route to Florida using an ultralight plane to lead the way.

There are now 104 birds in the flock, including 20 breeding pairs. The group is well on its way to accomplishing its goal of 125 self-sustaining birds, including 25 breeding pairs.

This year's flock of 10 Wisconsin birds left central Wisconsin on Oct. 9, led as usual by an ultralight. Late last week, they were in Illinois.

Air show puts magic of historic fighter jet on centre stage: Swept-wing Hawk One from 1950s is a star at Abbotsford event

Hawk One is the last airworthy Sabre fighter jet in Canada, a remnant of an era when the Sabre was Canada's ticket to the space age, when farm boys learned that if you were good enough, the Sabre could take you to 50,000 feet, seemingly to the edge of space, where the horizon gives way to an indigo heaven and the earth is more distant than the stars.

Is a priceless artifact worth risking in airborne acrobatics?

The answers lie in the theatrical performance that is a modern-day air show: a play staged in three acts.

Act 1

Ninety-two years before this year's Abbotsford International, Canadian air shows began in earnest with a performance by returned First World War warriors led in a formation by Victoria Cross medal winner William Barker at Toronto's 1919 Canadian National Exhibition.

The attraction has spanned decades, and continues today at Abbotsford, B.C., where an average of 125,000 spectators brave traffic jams, sunburn and portable toilets.

They could just watch it on YouTube. But no one does.

An air show has high grass, blue skies, tents and crowds. It's an elemental setting that evokes circuses and other extravagant performances. There are untamed beasts (fighters), strongmen (cargo lifters) and comics (a jet-powered outhouse and a 500-km/h school bus).

Of course, there are beauties too.

Hawk One, painted in the all-gold scheme of the RCAF's Golden Hawks display team, is a svelte sophisticate, a shape that says '60s space age cool.

A high-performance aircraft like the Sabre makes the miraculous appear easy. It's a streamlined beauty housing the powers of a beast - a turbojet heart that channels a continuous explosion, a plume of superheated gas that propels the aircraft.

It's not just beauty that fascinates us.

Even in 1919, Canadians were hungry for the sight of aircraft, but some were also tantalized by the risk inherent in early flight.

Hawk One team leader Dan Dempsey is also author of A Tradition of Excellence, the comprehensive record of Canadian air display teams. In it, he relates a newspaper report that said Barker's team at the 1919 CNE jolted the throngs into "gasps and cries" when "they thought the airman was plunging down to destruction."

Now, the greatest risk to the crowd at a Canadian show is sunburn and a sore neck.

An air show brings easily injured human beings and high-speed jets into close contact. Private pilots like myself, toddling along at 120 m.p.h. must maintain 1,000 feet of altitude and distance from anyone within 2,000 feet. For the show, the limits are reduced, under strict conditions, to improve the spectator's view. According to Dempsey, Transport Canada has cleared high-speed performers and aerobatic teams to blaze along 1,500 feet from front the row and 250 feet off the ground.

Is the audience too close to the uncaged beast?

The key is the distance from the crowd and the direction of the aircraft. During the preshow practice, we were allowed into the pilots' safety briefing. Officials there emphasized two principal rules: A minimum distance of 1,500 feet from the front row for aerobatics; Any movement closer than 1,500 feet must be restricted to straight and level flight.

These rules are one reason there is no record of injury to a Canadian spectator.

The backstage safety briefing is really the culmination of detailed planning that began eight months earlier in Las Vegas.

Each December, at the International Council of Air Shows convention in Las Vegas, 2,000 delegates like pilots Dan Dempsey and Robert Mitchell converge in a mass casting call, and prospective performers make their pitch to organizers. With show dates in hand, Dempsey turns it over to team co-ordinators Jeff Hill and Real Turgeon.

Hill and Turgeon work the phone to clarify myriad minutiae - hangar space, pilot aerobatic credentials, the voltage of the engine start cart - it all has to be checked off.

Later, the co-ordinators liaise with Transport Canada to demonstrate that the performance is safe.

The co-ordinator also works the mike during Hawk One's routine. This is no job for a poseur pilot. Hill and Turgeon have decades of flight experience, both having served a stint as voice of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds demonstration team. Nor is it a job for the inarticulate. As Hawk One gambolled in the air at Abbotsford, Hill's effortless patter wove real-time description with historical anecdotes.

The theatre has been chosen and the announcer knows his lines.

Act 2

The spotlight's now on Hawk One's aircraft maintenance engineers, who act as the backstage stewards of Hawk One.

At Abbotsford International, the role fell to Chris Adams, a 20-year aviation industry veteran and one of the few engineers qualified to work on everything from Second World War piston-engine hotrod fighters to supersonic jets.

It's a gruelling one-man show he put on at Abbotsford, spending sometimes 12 hours each day tending the jet, putting children in the seat and polishing spectators' handprints from the Hawk's gleaming wings.

There's more to his role than keeping the jet flying. As it is for the team pilots, a significant part of his time is spent engaging the public.

Adams says, "Most people remember it flying ... you get people coming up all day saying, 'I remember seeing the Golden Hawks flying in Chatham, or I remember seeing them flying in Toronto,' and you end up spending 15 to 20 minutes with them."

With the jet fed and polished, Adams bows out. The pilots attend a final safety briefing. After that, it's a waiting time, when the pilots mingle with the crowd and then slip away.

Act 3

Show time.

Mitchell and Dempsey shared the flight duties, but it fell to Mitchell to fly the jet for the practice-day rehearsal. Being on stage is nothing for this aviation veteran, who is also a bona fide stage actor. The line between air show and stage vanishes as Mitchell retreats into a pre-show ritual.

He finds a quiet spot on a taxiway, and walks through the show, flying one hand through the routine, eyes closed, visualizing the jet in the air.

Like the best performers, and I've seen a number - downhill ski racers, Olympic champions - when the curtain goes up, the game is on.

Dempsey and Mitchell do not disappoint. Theirs is a demanding triple test: Fly hard, fly safe and make it look easy.

Although the focus is on the 12 minutes of Hawk One's performance, their flight to centre stage began decades ago. The ascent is arduous and only a handful can gain the experience to reach the summit.

Only ex-military pilots like Dempsey and Mitchell have the jet aerobatic experience. It's a matter of cost. The Sabre can burn up to 2,800 litres of jet fuel an hour. Dempsey says, "We're up to $5,500 per hour to operate the jet." After initial training, even experienced jet aerobatic pilots require "four to five trips ... to get an individual comfortable doing low-level aerobatics."

The journey doesn't end with in-house training. Both Dempsey and Mitchell must be qualified by the International Air Show Council and demonstrate to Transport Canada that they're safe. An experienced pilot requires an average of six hours of training to meet the required standards, mounting to a total cost of $30,000 for that time in the air.

"The important thing in all of this," says Dempsey, "is flight safety."

Can safety throttle the thrill? Humans are a fickle audience. We want a safe show, but one that entrances us with a display showcasing the outer limits of human ability.

Consider the physics.

Diving down the backside of a loop, Hawk One travels at 500 feet per second. Pulling out at 250 feet pleases the crowd, but leaves only a half second before contact with Mother Earth.

Self-preservation requires a Plan B. The singer has Auto-Tune, the trapeze artist a safety net. Even the lion tamer has a gun.

For the Hawk One pilots, experience and skill are the Plan B. Adding up shows and practices, Dempsey and Mitchell both have more than 1,400 performances to their credit. This vast experience allows them to thrill the crowd and survive.

As the Hawk soars above Abbotsford International, the crowd is enthralled by the jet's gyrations in its carefully choreographed routine. Hawk One's flight is an illusion - that a human can make graceful art of the caged explosion that is the jet fighter.

Still, the greatest illusion lies beyond the visual beauty: During Hawk One's performance, time doesn't wind to a stop. It flies backward.

You crane your neck and daydream - this is what the Sabre sounded like when it ruled the skies of Europe. And so on with the other performers - so that's the growl the Spitfire made over Dover's white cliffs. That's what a Cormorant rescue helicopter looks like when it saves someone from a floundering vessel.

Dempsey says, "People can close their eyes and visualize the Golden Hawks when they see our Sabre fly ... people get way more out of seeing an airplane fly than just (seeing it) sitting in a museum. Getting a chance to actually sit in such an iconic aircraft after the show just enhances the experience."

It's not just the ability to evoke history that makes the venture worthwhile.

Dempsey says, "Sure there's an element of risk in everything we do in flight," but he points out that, "there are a lot of young people out there who are motivated by Hawk One and who are too young to know anything about the Sabre ... and the history and heritage of our veterans."

When they see the jet fly, "it spurs them to ask questions, and that's a really important part of what we do."

So in the end analysis, is it worth risking the Hawk?

The jet has played many roles, all of them tinged with risk. Yet, this turn on the stage, before thousands of spectators, is the performance of its lifetime. In one 12-minute flight, Hawk One revives an entire history of challenge, personal transformation and national achievement.

The risk is negligible; the payoff is priceless.


Doomsday defender, space age artist, career inspiration. Hawk One, a 1954 Canadair Sabre fighter jet, has been all these things, but for three days in August in Abbotsford, B.C, this swept-wing jet was a performer, one of the stars on Canada's biggest open air stage: the 2011 Abbotsford International Air Show.

Canada's largest aerial display is the subject of this third instalment in the Postmedia series on the Discovery Air Hawk One 2011 tour.

For this four-part project, writer Karl Wilberg teamed with filmmaker brother Chris Wilberg, who is shooting a companion documentary for North Vancouver's Barney and Oscar Films.

The first two stories detailed the earlier personae of Canada's Sabres and its pilots. In its initial guise, the Sabre was a formidable Cold Warrior and as the mount of the RCAF Golden Hawks - the premier Canadian display team of the '50s and '60s - a vehicle for modern art and the inspiration for a generation of aviators.

In the hands of its current owner, aviation preservation group Vintage Wings of Canada, the Sabre is still used as a catalyst to inspire young Canadians.

At every stop, pilots Dan Dempsey, Robert Mitchell and astronaut Chris Hadfield seat kids in the cockpit and encourage them to pursue their dreams.

After pre-season events in Gatineau, Que., and on Canada Day in Edmonton, the Wilbergs followed the Hawk to Abbotsford to explore the enduring attraction of the air show, investigate the paradoxical blend of safety and performance, and ponder the magic of a live act.