Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pilot Who Buzzed Santa Monica Pier in Military Jet Goes to Jail

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KTLA) -- A pilot who buzzed the Santa Monica Pier in a military jet has been ordered to jail.

David G. Riggs surrendered to authorities Wednesday to begin serving a 60-day sentence.

The 48-year old was convicted of violating a rarely used provision of the California Public Utilities Code that is designed to protect the public from careless and reckless pilots.

Jurors found that Riggs endangered the public by making low-level passes over the Santa Monica Pier on Nov. 6, 2008, to promote a movie his company was making about a maverick squadron of Americans and Russians on a secret mission to Iran.

The 48-year old was also ordered to clean beaches for 60 days and to pay more than $6,000 in penalties and court fees.

During the stunt, Riggs flew a 1973 Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros, a Czechoslovakian jet trainer that was popular in the Soviet bloc during the Cold War.

Video captured Riggs buzzing the pier at speeds of up to 350 mph.

The jet made several low-altitude passes over the pier and pulled up into a steep climb before hitting the popular Ferris wheel.

Several 911 calls were made in response to the impromptu air show.

"I am out here by the beach, the Santa Monica Pier, and there are two military jets buzzing. I mean, they're coming in close. They're maybe 10 feet above it (the pier)," one caller said.

Another caller reported seeing a jet "flying very, very, very low to the water."

This was not Riggs first brush with the law.

Riggs has served time in Hong Kong for passport fraud, according to court documents.

He was also convicted several times in Missouri on wire theft and federal fraud charges, according to the documents.

Investors in his film ventures also are pursuing civil cases against him.

Bird Strike Prompts Helicopter Emergency Landing: 2 Hurt In Incident, Emergency Workers Say

JACKSON, Miss. -- At least two people were hurt when a helicopter they were riding in was forced to make an emergency landing at Jackson International Airport after the aircraft was hit by a bird Thursday evening.

The bird broke the windshield of the helicopter, prompting the emergency landing at about 7 p.m., according to the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority.

The pilot was taken to an area hospital with unknown injuries. A passenger was taken to another hospital, emergency workers said.

Three other passengers were expected to be OK, emergency workers said.

The incident was under investigation.

Vijay Mallya close to sealing a $370 million deal to save airline: Report

LONDON: The chairman of Kingfisher Airlines, Vijay Mallya, said in an interview with a newspaper on Friday he was close to sealing a $370 million deal with an Indian private investor and a consortium of banks that would save the airline.

The Bangalore-based entrepreneur told a newspaper he was nearing a deal with 14 banks led by State Bank of India that would provide the loss-making carrier with working capital of Rs 600 crore ($118 million). He did not name the banks.

Mallya, a flamboyant liquor baron who owns a Formula One motor-racing team, told the paper he was finalising a separate $250 million equity injection from an unnamed wealthy Indian individual to recapitalise the cash-strapped carrier.

He added that he was about to conclude a deal with the banks to reduce the interest rate which the airline is currently paying on its $1.4 billion debt pile.

Shares in Kingfisher, which is named after its parent firm's best-selling beer, have lost around 68 per cent of their value so far this year. The airline, which listed when it bought out budget airline, Air Deccan in 2008, has never made a profit.

The airline became India's No. 2 private carrier since it began operations in 2005 as the economy boomed but it has become one of the main casualties of high fuel costs and a fierce price war between a handful of airlines which, between them, have ordered hundreds of aircraft for delivery over the next decade in an ambitious bet on the future.

Cessna 172M Skyhawk, C-GPHV, Rockcliffe Flying Club: Accident occurred November 17, 2011 at Ottawa-Rockcliffe Airport (CYRO)

The wrecked Cessna lies where it came to rest off the Rockcliffe Airport runway, its broken landing gear plainly visible.

The 1976 Cessna 172M Skyhawk is registered to the Rockcliffe flying club. 

All three people onboard a small plane walked away after it crashed at Rockcliffe Airport Thursday afternoon.

The small four-seater plane came off the runway and ended up on its belly with broken landing gear at about 2 p.m., said emergency responders.

The pilot managed to turn the engine off and there was no smoke or fire, said Ottawa Fire Services spokesperson Marc Messier.

The 54 year-old male pilot and another passenger, 48, were not injured.

Air National Guard: Big Flats, New York, woman flies transports into war zones. Pilot takes after her dad in the cockpit

Air National Guard pilot Keri Villemarette, a Big Flats native, sits at the controls of a Boeing C-17 military transport jet, parked Thursday at the Elmira Corning Regional Airport.

Big Flats -- Keri Villemarette was interested in flying from an early age.

That's the influence of her father, Dave Manchester of Big Flats, a pilot with Corning Inc.

These days, Manchester notes that Villemarette's plane is bigger than his -- a lot bigger.

That's because she flies a massive Boeing C-17 military transport jet for the Air National Guard and has spent most of the last seven years flying in and out of combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Villemarette, who is based in Jackson, Miss., got a chance to visit her family this week when a mission brought her close to the area, and she parked her supersized jet at the Elmira Corning Regional Airport.

"My dad started flying coincidental with me being born," said Villemarette, 40, a 1989 graduate of Horseheads High School.

"It's been in my family my whole life. I was fascinated by it. I decided that's what I wanted to do."

Villemarette, a standout athlete in high school, attended Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss., on a softball scholarship and majored in aviation.

She wanted to become a commercial pilot, but some friends got her excited about opportunities with the Air National Guard, and she joined in 1995.

Villemarette has been on full-time active status for several years, and she pilots a plane big enough to fit two tractor-trailers and then some.

Her missions involve flying cargo into war zones and airlifting wounded military personnel out.

It's a demanding -- and sometimes scary -- but exciting job, she said.

"The theater is quite active, but I've never had any injuries or damage. We are trained for this," Villemarette said.

"You have a job to do, and you focus on doing that job. You don't forget about the threat, but you pay attention to the job.

"What lingers is the personal stories of carrying groups back to their families," she said.

"That's what I think about, getting them back home as quickly as possible and getting them care. I think about reuniting them with their families."

In four more years, Villemarette will have 20 years of service with the Air National Guard and can think about retiring.

In the meantime, she's already planning on transitioning into a new career with a cargo shipping company.

At some point, she might even have time to spend with her husband Roger, who is a commercial pilot. The two are often flying in opposite directions.

And what does her dad think of his daughter's choice of careers?

"It's a good career, but what she does makes us very proud, with her contributions," said Manchester, a former Big Flats Town Board member.

"We're just very proud of her, that's all."

Big Flats, N.Y. —  While some people show off their shiny new SUV when they return home to visit family, Big Flats native Keri Villemarette has an even roomier ride.

That massive C-17 military cargo plane that’s been parked on the runway at the Elmira-Corning Regional Airport the past few days? That’s hers. It cost about $200 million.

Well, actually, it belongs to the Air National Guard, but she’s the pilot. A mission brought her back to her hometown this week.

Some may remember her as Keri Manchester, a standout softball and soccer player who graduated from Horseheads High School in 1989.

After attending aviation school at Delta State University, she became a pilot with the Mississippi Air National Guard’s 172nd Airlift Wing, based in Jackson, Miss.

Villemarette, 40, has spent the past seven years on active duty with the Air National Guard, and her primary role has been to ferry injured troops from the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, an American military hospital in Germany.

From there, she also flies troops back to military hospitals in the U.S., such as Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

“Somebody will be injured on a battlefield, and then treated at a local hospital,” Villemarette said. “They have wonderful surgeons from all over the world that are in the theater that stabilize the guys enough to get them on the airplane, and when they’re stable enough to fly, we take them to the bigger hospitals outside of the conflict area.”
The C-17’s cargo bay transforms into a flying hospital that can carry up to 36 injured troops and a staff of nurses and medical technicians. Beds, oxygen masks and other equipment fold down from the interior walls.
It usually flies with a crew of 3 pilots and 2 loadmasters.

Despite its hulking size – it’s 174 feet long, has a 169-foot wingspan and a maximum gross weight of nearly 300 tons – the C-17 is capable of landings and takeoffs from unpaved airfields in hostile territory, day or night.

“The fields that we go into are typically the most targeted airfields in the region, so you’re always on your toes,” Villemarette said.

But it’s also a job that can be very rewarding, she said.

“I enjoy the opportunity to do such a noble mission, which is getting these guys back to their families as soon as possible,” she says.

The C-17, manufactured by Boeing and also known as the Globemaster III, is an impressive aircraft – not just for its sheer size, but also for its versatility.

Aside from its medical evacuation capabilities, it can also be used to carry 102 troops and their gear. It can also haul tanks, helicopters or trucks; and it has skids for holding pallets stocked with food and supplies.

The tanks hold 245,000 gallons of fuel, good for about 2,500 miles, and can be re-fueled in midair.

Along with military uses, C-17s are often used for humanitarian missions, such as bringing rescuers and supplies to Japan in the wake of this year’s earthquake and tsunami.

Aside from being a pilot, Villemarette is also a C-17 instructor pilot for the Air National Guard.

“My role as an instructor takes place as we’re doing missions, but we also have local training flights (at the base in Mississippi), where we practice things ranging from air refueling, when we need a tanker in the sky; to assault landings, which is landing on a short field using night vision goggles; and low-level operations, when we fly close to the ground at high speeds,” she explained.

After seven years, Villemarette ended her active duty status in October. She’ll now be a traditional reservist, flying part-time for missions involving natural disasters and transporting Guardsmen.

Her next endeavor?

In December, she’ll start a two-month training program, and she’ll soon be flying 747s for Atlas Air Cargo, a Miami-based freight hauler.

But as long as flying is involved, she’ll be happy.

“What I enjoy about flying is ... my goodness, how do I put it in words? It could be a completely overcast day, and I can see the sun shining, because I’m on top of the clouds. It’s wonderful,” she says, with a hint of a Southern accent gained since she left Big Flats.

Villemarette’s first flights were in gliders above Harris Hill in Big Flats, and with her dad, Dave Manchester, who’s a corporate jet pilot for Corning Inc. She’s wanted to follow in her dad’s footsteps “since about fifth grade.”

And now, she’s showing him up with her C-17, he jokes.

“It’s funny, because I’m a pilot, and my brother is also a corporate pilot, and Keri’s husband (Roger) is a commercial pilot,” Manchester said. “So the three of us guys will be sitting around talking about flying, and Keri will be like, ‘When you guys want to talk about a really big plane with four engines, let me know.’”

In-air scare: Woman tries to open exit door during flight to Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. – Passengers on a cross-country Delta airlines flight from New York City to Portland got a scare when a distraught woman tried to open a cabin door while the plane was in flight.

Michelle Pendley, sitting in first class on Delta flight 386 Wednesday evening, said the scene was like something out of a movie when a distraught, screaming woman made her way to the front of the plane and tried to open an exit door.

Flight crew members restrained her and pulled her away from the door, Pendley said. Pendley snapped photos of the incident with her cell phone as crew members worked to calm the woman.

The flight was not diverted and the plane landed safely in Portland. The woman was taken into custody but reportedly was released and was not charged with a crime. The woman was also attended to by paramedics at PDX.

“It was surreal, like it wasn't happening or, you know, it was part of a movie or something,” Pendley told KATU News.” You know, things go in slow motion or something.”

PDX airport police and Portland police have not said yet if the woman will face any charges or what caused her to attempt to exit the plane while it was in flight.

Federal agents are also looking into the incident. The woman involved was not immediately identified.
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Feds investigating BWI flights to Cuba: Department of Transportation concerned that company is advertising before having its license approved to fly from Baltimore

It was undoubtedly exciting news: Baltimore would become one of the few spots in the U.S. offering flights to Cuba, a Communist nation largely off-limits to American travelers.

But one critical item had been overlooked: the paperwork.

The Florida travel company that plans direct flights from Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to Havana is being scrutinized by federal officials for promoting its plans before receiving the necessary approval for charter flights.

"They're licensed to fly out of another city, but not Baltimore," Charles E. Smith, a U.S. Department of Transportation attorney looking into the matter, said Thursday.

Tampa-based Island Travel & Tours Ltd. raised eyebrows at the agency after BWI announced this month that charter flights between Cuba and Baltimore would begin in March. The government is working to determine whether the Nov. 4 announcement violated rules that prevent advertising before charter flight schedules have been authorized, Smith said.

William Hauf, president of Island Travel, said he had just returned Thursday from Cuba and had no knowledge of the federal inquiry. After consulting with Island Travel's attorney, Washington-based Pierre E. Murphy, Hauf said he was confident that none the company's actions were inappropriate.

"We have not done any advertising; the press release was put out by a third party," said Hauf. "Our plans were based on pending DOT approval."

The announcement was made via email by BWI and posted on the airport's website. The same release had also been published on Island Travel's website but was removed Thursday night.

The statement was not an advertisement for flights, said Jonathan Dean, the BWI spokesman who sent out the announcement.

Sky King Inc. — a California-based charter company that partners with Island Travel for its Cuba flights — had also not been made aware of federal scrutiny, according to company President Frank Visconti. He said Sky King has received the necessary approvals to fly to Havana from the U.S. from the federal government and Cuba.

Island Travel is licensed to fly from Tampa to Cuba, according to Department of Transportation records. It has been approved to provide 13 flights with Sky King that originate in Tampa between early November and the end of January.

Hauf said he hoped that the federal government's inquiry into the Baltimore flights would not deter customers from taking the company's Tampa flights, which launched this month.

Organizing travel to Cuba is complicated, but everything had appeared to be in order for Island Travel and BWI.

Federal rules limit passengers to "purposeful" travel, including family visits by Cuban-Americans and trips for religious, cultural, academic, journalistic and professional reasons, or for business that is exempt from the long-standing U.S. trade embargo on the country.

The airport received federal approval from U.S. Customs and Border Protection this year to host passenger charter flights between Maryland and Cuba, Dean said. In July, Island Travel secured landing rights from the Cuban government.

Island Tours is authorized by the federal government to be a carrier and travel service provider, according to an October 2011 document from the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

But Island Travel neglected to file a "public charter prospectus" — in essence, a flight schedule required for all charter flights, regardless of their destination.

Under federal regulations, "no charter operator shall operate, sell, receive money from any prospective participant for, or offer to sell or otherwise advertise a charter or series of charters until" the Department of Transportation accepts the prospectus.

The company will file an amended charter flight schedule Friday that will include the flights planned for Baltimore, said Hauf, who is optimistic that the filing will not push back the company's plans to start flying from Baltimore to Havana in 41/2 months.

No tickets have been sold, no money collected and no advertising — aside from the Nov. 4 announcement — has taken place, said Hauf. Still, he wishes he'd filed the prospectus sooner.

"We hope this won't delay anything, as a result of this misunderstanding," said Hauf. "The truth is, I should have been more cautious."

Smith, the Department of Transportation attorney, would not discuss potential penalties if the agency determines any advertising rules were violated.

In mid-August, the agency fined a company for violating the agency's rules governing charter flight advertising in 2009. According to an agency statement, Atlanta-based Aviation Advantage Inc. was fined $150,000 for several violations, including promoting flights "without listing the name of the charter operator or the airline operating the flights, as required by DOT rules."

Travel to Cuba from the U.S. has been restricted since 1961, soon after Fidel Castro took power and nationalized American businesses on the island.

Cities that now offer flights to Cuba include New York, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago and Tampa.

The Island Travel flights from Baltimore will operate at fixed times on Wednesdays and will take about three hours and 15 minutes, said Hauf. Because of complicated ticketing requirements and hefty charges to land in Cuba, a round-trip ticket to Cuba will cost about $800, he estimated.

Hauf said he expects the flights from Baltimore to mainly serve diplomats, nonprofit organizations and academics. Maryland does not have a large Cuban-American population like that of other metro areas currently served by charter flights to Cuba.

Earlier this month, Dean said that the Island Travel flights would apparently be the first nonstop service ever between BWI and Havana. The airport has no record of scheduled service before Castro came to power, he said.

About a decade ago, charter flights between the cities were exchanged when the Orioles played Cuba's national baseball team.

Authorities Investigating Two Plane Crashes In Arkansas, One Of Them Fatal

Federal authorities are investigating a small plane crash that left two people injured in Arkansas.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman says the single-engine experimental Zodiac went down shortly after taking off from the Clinton Municipal Airport about 4:45 this afternoon. The spokesman did not know the extent of the injuries but said a medical helicopter took one person to a hospital. FAA records show the plane is registered to a resident of Bee Branch.

About 50 miles to the south, a second plane crash has left one person dead. Police reported the fatality and a debris field from a small aircraft. The FAA says the aircraft went down about four miles south of Perryville near the Ouachita National Forest. Investigators say that makes it difficult to access the area.

Airport Board again delays Hilton Head landing fee vote, told new revenue agreement 'promising'

A vote to recommend charging private pilots flying into Hilton Head Island Airport was postponed again with officials saying they need more time to negotiate for more revenue from the company that provides flight support for general aviation.

Beaufort County director of airports Paul Andres said Thursday that a deal with Signature Flight Support "appears promising," and he hoped to have "something definitive" for the county Airports Board by Dec. 15.

"We're not far apart in our ideas to modify the agreement to better align with the needs and interests of the airport," he told the board.

Signature Flight Support opposes the landing fee. Its regional vice president, Byron Gray, told the board Oct. 20 he was willing to find alternatives to give more money back to the county in lieu of the landing fee.

General aviation accounts for a majority of traffic at the airport but pays a small fraction of its expenses, Andres has said. The county receives 3 percent of all revenue Signature collects from fees charged to private pilots, including fuel sales.

Gray said Savannah is already taking business from the airport because of Hilton Head's constrained 4,300-foot runway. A landing fee would only continue to drive away business at a time when air traffic has declined because of the struggling economy and Delta Air Lines' departure from Hilton Head last fall.

Air traffic at Hilton Head has fallen about 12 percent from last year, according to board member Will Dopp. Passenger counts are down as well, he said.

"If we're making progress in discussions, then we should defer" a vote on landing fees, chairman Joe Mazzei said.

The airport charges commercial flights a landing fee of $1.31 per 1,000 pounds, as well as firefighting fees, which pay for operating costs.

The board is considering a landing fee of $10 or $1.65 per 1,000 pounds, whichever is greater, to private aircraft based elsewhere that fly in and out of Hilton Head and do not pay long-term fees.

The Hilton Head airport would be the first in the state to charge such a fee, which was proposed to make the airport more self-sufficient.

The airport's cash position has improved over the last five years, but it is still negative and has been for most of the last decade, said county chief financial officer David Starkey.

But Andres and other county officials have argued the airport is "cash flow positive," but depreciation makes it appear unprofitable.

Hilton Head posted $38,000 in operating income July through August with depreciation factored out, Andres said.

Depreciation, Andres argues, is irrelevant because the Federal Aviation Administration pays for most improvements. The better measurement, he said, is cash flow from operations, which has been positive during the past several years and ebbs and flows with the timing of FAA reimbursements.

Air India Express pilot flirts with danger 4 times, grounded

In the course of landing an aircraft, an Air India Express commander took 4 erroneous decisions, endangering a Boeing 737 aircraft and its 87 passengers.

MUMBAI: It was a quartet of mistakes that could have had disastrous consequences. In the course of landing an aircraft in a strong crosswind, an Air India Express commander took four erroneous decisions, one after another, endangering a Boeing 737 aircraft and its 87 passengers. Luckily, it all ended with damage done only to the aircraft and the commander's flying record.

The potentially fatal incident occurred on November 3 on the Cochin-Salalah Air India Express flight IX 441 when it landed after three attempts at 9.45am, local time. After a very rough touchdown, the Boeing 737 aircraft hurtled down the runway only to jerk sharply as two tyres burst. One wing almost scraped the runway surface and the landing gear was damaged before the aircraft came to a halt near the runway end. The commander was so flustered that even after the plane stopped, he kept the engines running and did not release his foothold on the brakes for about 15-20 minutes till an engineering team arrived to tow away the aircraft.

Confirming the incident, the Air India Express spokesperson said: "The landing was not in keeping with our standard operating procedures. It indicated a disregard for the SOP by the commander."

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation is investigating the matter.

The series of faulty decisions began when the flight reached Salalah ( Oman) airspace and the pilots were informed by the Omani air traffic controller that the wind speed on the ground was 25 knot (46 kmph) gusting (sudden bursts of high-speed wind) to 35 knot (65 kmph). "The aircraft should not have attempted a landing in Salalah as the crosswind (wind blowing across the runway) speed was about 35 knot," said a source. The SOP manual disallows a landing when the surface wind speed is beyond 25 knot, and in this case, it was not only about the wind speed but also about wind direction. Landing in a crosswind is more difficult, as an aircraft is prone to drifting laterally as it approaches the runway.

At this point, the commander should have diverted the aircraft to Abu Dhabi, the alternate airport listed in the flight plan. An aircraft is flown to an alternate airport if the commander perceives that a safe landing is not possible at the destination airport (it is mandatory to carry enough fuel to fly to the alternate). There are instances where experienced commanders have managed to land safely in a strong wind and taken care to ensure that the flight safety department of the airline concerned was not informed about it. "But the best of pilots follow the norms. If a landing is in violation of an air safety norm, it is not done," said a senior commander.

The AI Express commander too tried to land in Salalah, but had to abort the landing. After the first failed attempt, he took the aircraft up 6,000 feet and after 10 minutes attempted a second landing, only to fail again. Finally, he decided to divert to Abu Dhabi, which is one hour, 15 minutes away. But that wasn't the end of the matter. "The commander entered the wrong data into the Flight Management System and it threw up a scare," said the source. "It showed that only six minutes of flying time would be left on reaching Abu Dhabi, which was insufficient to make a landing." In reality, the aircraft had 4.7 tonnes of fuel on board, and the fuel needed to reach and land safely in Abu Dhabi was 4.5 tonnes. But since the commander was under the impression that the aircraft was short on fuel, he panicked and decided to return to Salalah.

It was now the commander's third attempt at landing in Salalah in poor weather, which is something air safety experts warn against. Several airlines worldwide have banned a third attempt at landing at an airport in poor weather and made a diversion mandatory. Air India, however, does not have such a policy yet-the airline spokesperson said this was "under review".

During the third attempt, the commander decided to do an autoland although the cockpit crew was not trained to do so. In an autoland, the aircraft directly takes inputs from ground-based navigation instruments that give guidance to an aircraft on descent profile and horizontal manoevering. But there are wind speed restrictions for autoland, and a 35-knot crosswind is way above the permissible limit for a B737. "The commander also disregarded the limitations by Boeing Company for autoland operation," said the airline spokesperson. "The matter is under investigation by our air safety department."

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Two plane crashes in two central Arkansas counties

PERRYVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Authorities say one person has been killed in a plane crash, the second aircraft accident reported in Arkansas on Thursday.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said law enforcement officers reported the fatality and have confirmed a debris field from a small aircraft about four miles south of  Perryville. Lunsford said the site is near a forest and difficult to access.

The Ouachita National Forest is located south of Perryville. Lunsford says few other details were immediately available about the crash.

To the north, another airplane crashed near Clinton in Van Buren County about 4:45 p.m.

Lunsford says the two people aboard the experimental aircraft were hurt after the plane went down shortly after taking off from the Clinton Municipal Airport.

The FAA is investigating the cause of that crash.

Boeing deal gives other Wichita businesses hope

(WICHITA, Kan.)—  Nobody felt the downturn in the economy more than Lewjene Schneider, she sells homes.

"We might as well shut our doors for a few years. It has been absolutely dead in real estate," she said.

That's why when she found out about the latest Boeing order, she was excited.

"People are going to make more money and feel confident about their job and their going to want to move to a bigger house and improve their life," said Schneider.

Schneider thinks she'll start seeing business pick up as soon as this weekend. She's added staff to her office and is working on new marketing materials, all in hopes that the big Boeing announcement will inspire people to buy houses.

"It's a great sense of stability for the entire community not just people that work there," She said.

Including businesses around Spirit Aerosystems. The people who run a burger joint near there say they are equally excited and hope the big order will allow people to eat out more.

"It's going to be a lot busier and help a lot of other local businesses," said Walt’s employee Kim Hopper.

While it's not known exactly how this order will impact Spirit, the good news gives everyone a little hope, something that's been lacking for the past few years.

"This could be the start of the economy coming around and things getting better for everybody," said Hopper.

Deputy Jumps Out of Helicopter to Apprehend Suspect

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office arrested a Fresno man after a lengthy pursuit that reached speeds of over 100 mph Wednesday afternoon.

Just after 3:00 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, deputies were called to a home located near Cornelia and Muscat Avenues for a theft in progress. This same location recently had metal tanks taken.

When deputies arrived, they saw 24-year-old David Grimaldo walking around the rear of the property. Grimaldo ran to his to his pickup truck and sped off when he saw deputies approach. He tried to run deputies off the road as he fled, and deputies pursued.

During the pursuit, Grimaldo’s truck struck a chain link fence at McKinley & Grantland Avenues, dragging a 25 foot section behind him as the pursuit continued. The pursuit lasted about ten minutes and covered more than ten miles just west of Fresno.

The pursuit finally ended when Grimaldo drove onto private property near Herndon & Dower. Near the San Joaquin river bottom he crashed his truck, then got out of the vehicle and started running towards the river bottom. As ground units closed in, Eagle One dropped down to the river bottom where the flight officer was able to jump to the ground, chase Grimaldo down, and take him into custody.

Grimaldo was arrested on two counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer and felony evading, and was later booked into the Fresno County Jail.

Helicopter tours now available on the Western Slope. Grand Junction Regional Airport (KGJT), Colorado.

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO)_ There is a news way to see Western Colorado. Gateway Canyons Air Tours here in Grand Junction is adding a helicopter to its aircraft fleet.

The AStar B3 is the first helicopter service in the Grand Valley.

The aircraft is already a star, being the only one ever to land on top of Mount Everest.

"What it adds is the ability to get intimate with the scenery for those folks who maybe couldn't or don't want to hike in the the very rural country side of the area," says Mike Gullotti, pilot for Gateway Canyons Air Tours.

Flying out of the Grand Junction Regional Airport, it's an opportunity that's expected to bring in some much needed tourism to the valley.

"People who come here from Europe and see this part of the country will just be in awe of the red rock country," Deanna Strand, pilot Gateway Canyons Air Tours.

The smooth ride is complete with, leather seats and ceiling to floor views something you could pay top-dollar for but this is an experience tour officials say they want everyone to be able to afford.

"Even if they wanted to get a gift certificate for under $100 to offer their spouse a little helicopter adventure we can definitely do that," says Strand.

A one-of a kind way to enjoy the beauty of the western slope that's one of a kind.

While Gateway Canyons Air Tours does have hourly and half hourly rates they say they are willing to give clients the option of different fly times to make it more affordable.

In the future they also plan to use the new helicopter to fly skiers to different resorts and golfers to and from different courses.

United Arab Emirates criticizes 'unworkable' French fighter bid

France's Dassault Aviation is seeking unacceptable terms for the sale of up to 60 Rafale fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, a senior Emirati military official said Wednesday, casting serious doubt on the future of the highly anticipated arms deal.

The comments from the deputy supreme commander of the UAE's armed forces, Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, come just days after a different European defense consortium unexpectedly said it had been asked by the Emirati air force to assemble a rival fighter bid.

Dassault has been in talks with the UAE for several years in an effort to sell the Rafale, which is currently used only by France. Dassault has marketed the twin-engine plane to several countries but has yet to find an overseas buyer.

Sheik Mohammed is also the highly influential crown prince of the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi, and his criticism Wednesday could signal a final blow to Dassault's UAE bid.

He noted French President Nicolas Sarkozy's active role in trying to advance the sale, saying Paris did all it could diplomatically to try to close the deal.

"Bilateral relations have never been stronger and his constant personal intervention in this process has sustained Dassault at the forefront of our considerations," Sheik Mohammed said in a statement carried by the official news agency WAM.

"Regrettably Dassault seems unaware that all the diplomatic and political will in the world cannot overcome uncompetitive and unworkable commercial terms," he added.

On Sunday, the European defense consortium Eurofighter said it has been asked by the UAE air force to assemble a bid to potentially supply it with Typhoon fighter jets. The request follows preliminary discussions on the fighter that took place with British government officials last month, Eurofighter said.

Eurofighter says it is working hard to respond to the request. The consortium includes British, German, Italian and Spanish aerospace firms.

Both the Typhoon and Rafale saw action in NATO's mission over Libya. The UAE was among the most active Arab members in that campaign, deploying six of its F-16s and six Mirage fighters.

Emirati officials got another chance to compare the Rafale and Typhoon this week at the Dubai Airshow. Both planes performed in aerial flight demonstrations, as did American-made F-15, F-16 and F-18 fighters.

China to Open Up Airspace for Private Jets

ZHUHAI, China - China plans to open up more of its military-controlled airspace to general civilian aviation, in a move set to boost the use of private jets, the official Xinhua news agency reported Thursday.

China will open airspace below 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) to non-military aircraft across large sections of the country from January, Xinhua quoted an aviation official as saying.

Restrictions initially will be lifted around six cities and cover almost one-third of China's total airspace, the report said.

The move is aimed at promoting China's aviation industry, particularly the use of private planes. Under current regulations, private jets must seek approval to fly in low-altitude airspace, and the time-consuming procedure is seen as dampening demand for such executive travel.

Dubai air show: United Arab Emirates says Rafale proposal 'unworkable'

DUBAI, Nov 16 (Reuters) - A long-awaited French deal for Dassault to sell at least 60 Rafale fighter jets worth an estimated $10 billion to the United Arab Emirates hit a new snag on Wednesday when it said proposed terms were "uncompetitive and unworkable."

The deal, which has been in the works since 2008, was thrown into doubt earlier this week when it became clear that the world's fourth-largest oil exporter had asked for details of a rival aircraft, the Typhoon built by the Eurofighter consortium.

A French source close to the deal said the negotiations were ongoing.

"There is no failure," the source said. "It is part of the negotiating process ... the UAE is trying to include the Eurofighter to negotiate the price."

Earlier on Wednesday, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, deputy of the country's armed forces, said in a statement the French President's Nicolas Sarkozy's personal intervention had kept Dassault at the forefront of considerations and that "he could not have done more diplomatically or politically to secure the Rafale deal."

"Regrettably Dassault seem unaware that all the diplomatic and political will in the world cannot overcome uncompetitive and unworkable commercial terms," he said.

Officials at Dassault Aviation, which builds the Rafale, declined to comment. Dassault shares closed about 7 percent down on the news.

A UAE government source close to the deal blamed the current impasse on the "arrogance" of the planemaker, despite French military officials saying they were confident about securing a deal and hopes of finalising the sale at the Dubai Air Show.

"There is a shared frustration in both the UAE and French leaderships at the apparent arrogance of Dassault," the source said.

"Rather than using the strength of the bilateral relationship to close the deal out they are attempting to use it to hold out on pricing and a deal structure that hasn't changed in more than a year and that has been significantly bettered by all competitors."

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday ahead of the UAE statement, French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet, who had just returned from the Dubai Air Show, said he was still confident Paris would secure the deal.

"The Rafale is not more expensive than the Eurofighter, and it's less expensive than American products, so I think Rafales will be sold," he said, reaffirming talks were in the final phase, but declining to give a date for their conclusion.

The United Arab Emirates and its Gulf neighbours share the West's concerns that Iran is using its nuclear energy programme to develop weapons, a charge Tehran has denied. Saudi Arabia inked a deal for U.S. arms worth nearly $60 billion a year ago.

The UAE is also in talks to buy Lockheed Martin's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, an advanced missile defence system.


Dassault has still not found a foreign buyer for its multi-role Rafale, billed to be one of the most effective fighter jets in the world, but also one of the most expensive.

The aircraft has received a great deal more interest since it was deployed in the NATO mission in Libya this year, its first ever combat operation and negotiations are also ongoing with Brazil and Switzerland to sell the jet.

French air force chief General Jean-Paul Palomeros told Reuters in Dubai the Emirates air force was "very keen with Rafale".

Yet after news of Eurofighter's pitch emerged, the deal appeared to be blown open to greater competition, including from Boeing's fighter jets.

The company said it had briefed UAE officials recently on its F-15 and F-18 combat planes.

"We have not responded to a detailed set of requirements or anything like that. We have been asked for information on both platforms (F-15 and F-18)," Paul Oliver, its vice-president for Middle East & Africa, International business development, Defence, Space & Security, told Reuters in an interview.

"We have provided, through the U.S. government, information on these platforms. We have been providing information off and on for over a year."

Discussions between the UAE and Dassault were nearly derailed a year ago when Boeing was first asked for technical information on its warplanes.

The UAE has pressed for the aircraft's engines to be upgraded with extra thrust and for better radar, industry sources have said, but Palomeros said UAE officials are satisfied with the plane.

The Eurofighter is built by Britain's BAE Systems, Finmeccanica of Italy and European aerospace group EADS on behalf of Germany and Spain.

Boeing, however, said there was increasing local interest in its combat jets.

"There has been interest in the region. We have a couple of other customers who have expressed interest in the F-18 (apart from UAE)," said Boeing's Oliver. "They don't talk to me about competitors... but it is the big news of the airshow. I believe the UAE is looking at all their options."

Branson could make airport payment from tourism fund

The Branson Board of Aldermen will consider Tuesday whether to make the city’s next payment to the Branson Airport from Branson’s tourism marketing fund.

The city agreed in a 2006 contract to pay the airport $8.24 for each passenger brought to Branson. The payment does not include passengers on round-trip flights originating in Branson. The contract was updated in 2010 to make it easier for the city to audit the airport’s traffic numbers. It also required the city to make payments to the Branson Regional Airport Transportation Development District rather than directly to the airport.

According to city spokesman Jerry Adams, the board will consider making the $195,000 payment from the city’s tourism tax reserve fund. He said the city can use tourism tax funds because they will partially reimburse the airport for a $500,000 television marketing campaign in Chicago with the airport began regular flights to the city.

The payment would actually go to the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, which also committed money to the marketing campaign. The chamber would then pay the money to the transportation development district, which would make it available for the airport to pay its bond debts.

Adams said representatives from the airport and chamber have approved the idea.

The city makes payments to the airport every six months. The current payment represents passengers who flew from Jan. 1 to June 30 this year. If approved, the city will have paid the airport a total of $933,442

Zenith Aircraft - Zodiac: Two injured in plane crash at Clinton Municipal Airport (KCCA), Arkansas.

CLINTON, AR – A plane crash near the Clinton Municipal Airport has injured two people.

According to the Clinton Police, the plane that crashed was an experimental plane with a “bubble canopy.” Apparently the canopy blew off as the plane lifted off from the Clinton airport. The pilot tried to land back at the airport, crashing in a field nearby.

Police say the pilot, Steven James, was airlifted to a hospital in Little Rock. The passenger was taken to a local hospital via ambulance. Their conditions are unknown.

The accident happened after 4:30pm.
CLINTON, Ark. — Authorities say two people were hurt when a small airplane crashed near Clinton in central Arkansas.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford says the single-engine experimental Zodiac went down shortly after taking off from the Clinton Municipal Airport about 4:45 p.m. Thursday.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford says the single-engine experimental Zodiac went down shortly after taking off from the Clinton Municipal Airport about 4:45 p.m. Thursday.

Lunsford says the two people on board the aircraft were hurt, but he didn't know the extent of their injuries. He said one person was taken by medical helicopter to a hospital.

According to FAA records, the plane is registered to a resident of Bee Branch.

Lunsford said the FAA will be investigating the cause of the crash.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.  -  Plane crash in Clinton -  the incident occurred around 4:30 p.m. and is being investigated by the Clinton City Police Department.

A single-engine experimental aircraft carrying two people crashed under unknown circumstances after departing from the airport in Clinton and did not make it out of the city limits.

One crash-victim has been med-flighted to UAMS, and the other is currently at Clinton Medical Center. The plane is at a total loss.

Don't cash in on Kingfisher crisis, Directorate General of Civil Aviation warns airlines

NEW DELHI: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Thursday warned airlines against trying to cash in on the demand-supply crunch caused by Kingfisher's massive flight cancellation in this peak travel season. DGCA chief Bharat Bhushan said airfares are being monitored very closely. In past few days, airfares have soared as almost all airlines are charging at the upper end of their fare levels.

"There are price bands. Probably, airlines are operating on the highest bands. ... Some upward movement due to large scale cancellations by a big airline (Kingfisher). We are closely monitoring the fares. They should not go beyond the price band," Bharat Bhushan told reporters. The biggest problem is being faced by passengers of cancelled flights as they have to book last-minute tickets from other airlines at the highest possible fare levels. Kingfisher has cancelled a large number of flights since last week. Bhushan said he expected fares to "level off" soon.

The government's power to monitor fares is very restricted as airlines have been asked to specify a fare range for each sector every month and be within that range. Changes, if any due to factors like hike in operating cost, van be made only after informing the regulator.

However, this means an airline can say it will charge between Rs 4,000 and Rs 25,000 for any sector, so no action can be taken if it charges towards the higher end of the spectrum.

But the aviation ministry has now decided to act in one area where it has full power - airlines taking slots and simply blocking them by not operating flights on many of them.

Avantair, Inc. Takes Delivery of 100th Piaggio P.180 Avanti in the United States. Fleet size now at 57 aircraft

CLEARWATER, Fla., Nov 17, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Avantair, Inc., the industry leader of fractional aircraft ownership in the light jet cabin category and the only publicly traded stand-alone private aircraft operator, announced today that it has taken delivery of the 100th Piaggio Aero P.180 Avanti aircraft.

The centennial aircraft, serial #1216, was recently delivered to Avantair's headquarters in Clearwater, Florida. Avantair operates the world's largest fleet of Piaggio Aero aircraft and is the manufacturer's largest customer.

"We at Avantair are very proud to be the recipient of the 100th Piaggio P180 Avanti in the United States. Piaggio Aero is our longstanding partner and this magnificent airplane has helped us to grow our market share across all of our private aviation programs," said Steve Santo, CEO of Avantair. "Piaggio Aero's Avanti II provides exceptional comfort, speed, safety and unparalleled value to our customers and we are pleased to be the exclusive fractional and card provider of this aircraft in North America."

"Our 100th Avanti aircraft delivery in the USA is a major milestone for Piaggio Aero and a true validation of how well suited the P 180 Avanti is to the market in the United States with both private and commercial operators," said John Bingham, president and CEO of Piaggio America.

About Avantair

Avantair, the sole North American provider of fractional shares, leases and flight time cards in the Piaggio Avanti aircraft, and the only publicly traded stand-alone private aircraft operator, is headquartered in Clearwater, FL, with more than 500 employees. The Company offers private travel solutions for individuals and businesses traveling within its service area, which includes the continental U.S., parts of Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico, at a fraction of the cost of whole aircraft ownership. The Company currently manages a fleet of 58 aircraft. For more information about Avantair, please visit: .

Forward Looking Statements

This press release may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, with respect to Avantair's future financial or business performance, strategies and expectations. Forward-looking statements are typically identified by words or phrases such as "trend," "potential," "opportunity," "pipeline," "believe," "comfortable," "expect," "anticipate," "current," "intention," "estimate," "position," "assume," "outlook," "continue," "remain," "maintain," "sustain," "seek," "achieve," and similar expressions, or future or conditional verbs such as "will," "would," "should," "could," "may" and similar expressions. Avantair cautions that forward-looking statements are subject to numerous assumptions, risks and uncertainties, which change over time. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and Avantair assumes no duty to and does not undertake to update forward-looking statements. Actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in forward-looking statements and future results could differ materially from historical performance.

In addition to factors previously disclosed in Avantair's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") and those as may be identified elsewhere in this press release, the following factors, among others, could cause actual results to differ materially from forward-looking statements or historical performance: general economic and business conditions in the U.S. and abroad, changing interpretations of accounting principles, generally accepted in the U.S., changes in market acceptance of the company's products, inquiries and investigations and related litigation, fluctuations in customer demand, management of rapid growth, intensity of competition. The information set forth herein should be read in light of such risks. Avantair does not assume any obligation to update the information contained in this press release.

Avantair's filings with the SEC, accessible on the SEC's website at , discuss these factors in more detail and identify additional factors that can affect forward-looking statements.

SOURCE: Avantair, Inc.

Airline fights disclosure in New York home crash suits

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Lawyers for families of passengers killed when a plane crashed into a house in 2009 have tried to turn the public against the airline in hopes of getting bigger settlements in wrongful-death lawsuits, the airline says.

A motion filed in U.S. District Court by regional airline Colgan Air and its parent on Thursday requests a protective order designating as confidential all deposition transcripts and other material produced by Colgan as it defends itself against dozens of lawsuits filed since the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 near Buffalo.

All 49 people on board the Newark, N.J.-to-Buffalo flight and a man in the house were killed when the plane experienced an aerodynamic stall and went down in suburban Clarence.

The motion comes after the public release last month of internal Colgan emails that raised doubts about pilot Marvin Renslow's qualifications to fly the type of aircraft that crashed.

The emails, made public after Colgan agreed to lift a confidential designation, created a media firestorm when federal accident investigators said they hadn't seen them while determining the cause of the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board last week ordered Colgan parent Pinnacle Airlines Corp., of Memphis, Tenn., to turn over previously withheld records regarding the qualifications of the Flight 3407 pilots.

Colgan attorney David Harrington wrote in his motion for a protective order that it's now "abundantly clear that the jury pool in the western district of New York has been tainted and that Colgan will not be able to receive a fair trial before an impartial jury in the district."

Harrington said he had to seek the order to halt the families' lawyers' "purposely reckless and harmful media strategy," which he called disappointing and unprofessional. He wrote that "plaintiffs' true motives are to poison the jury pool and to create a negative public opinion of Colgan for use as leverage in settlement negotiations."

Attorney James Kreindler, who represents several families, called the charges "nonsense."

"There is absolutely no attempt to influence a jury pool in this case," Kreindler said.

The airlines and families disagree about what should be labeled confidential, he said.

"To me, confidentiality can only be used to protect trade secrets or privacy information of individuals," he said. "They want to keep the truth from the public, and I vehemently object."

Attorney Hugh Russ III, who also represents passengers' families, called the motion a pre-emptive strike to prevent information about the airline's operating policies and procedures from being made public.

"There's a lot of information that would be incredibly damaging to Colgan and Continental that they are seeking to prevent from seeing the light of day," he said, declining to elaborate.

Pinnacle, late Thursday, issued a statement saying all the evidence would be available to jurors at trial.

"Public release of hand-picked portions of trial evidence threatens to taint the jury pool before a fair trial can begin," the statement said. "This motion is intended to prevent that from happening."

Several of the lawsuits have been settled, and others are before mediators. Terms haven't been disclosed. Those that aren't resolved are on track for a March trial.

Lawyer: Man will plead guilty in midair incident on flight diverted to St. Louis

ST. LOUIS • The man accused of trying to open the door of a passenger jet while it was in flight on Mother's Day is competent to stand trial but will plead guilty, lawyers said Wednesday.

Reynel C. Alcaide, 34, was arrested after being subdued by passengers and after Continental's Houston to Chicago flight was diverted to St. Louis. While the plane was in flight, Alcaide pushed past a flight attendant and pinned her to part of the plane while repeatedly trying to open an exit door, according to charging documents filed earlier this year. He was charged the next day in federal court with a crime involving an aircraft and interfering with a flight crew.

Since charges were filed, Alcaide has been evaluated by two Washington University doctors, court records show.

Alcaide's public defender, Michael Dwyer, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Terry Adelman in court Wednesday that Alcaide was competent. He also said that Alcaide, who has only been charged by complaint and not indicted, would enter a guilty plea to an information soon.

In court earlier this year, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Drake said that Alcaide had been returning from a trip outside the country to visit family. Alcaide is from Mexico and is a legal permanent resident.

Alcaide reportedly told interviewers that he was having marital problems and had tried to commit suicide before, Drake said.

Air raging Kentucky man convicted in Gander, Newfoundland

A Kentucky man has been convicted of assault following an air rage incident that forced a plane to land in central Newfoundland earlier this week.

William Peterson, 63, was taken off an American Airlines flight after it diverted to Gander on Monday.

Thursday in court Peterson said he assaulted several members of the flight crew after drinking beer and taking prescription drugs.

He apologized saying his actions were out of character.

Peterson was fined $10,000 and ordered to pay almost $19,000 in restitution.

Sikorsky Meets Accelerated UH-60M BLACK HAWK Helicopter Deliveries for Sweden

STRATFORD, Conn., Nov. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Sikorsky Aircraft, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.  today delivered to the U.S. Army the fourth of 15 UH-60M BLACK HAWK aircraft for further transfer to the Swedish Defence Material Administration (FMV).

Sikorsky is building and delivering all 15 UH-60M aircraft to an accelerated 18-month production schedule that began in May, 2011. Seven aircraft are on schedule for delivery to the U.S. Army September through December, with eight additional deliveries through the fall of 2012.

The FMV is procuring the 15 aircraft via the U.S. Government's Foreign Military Sales program. The accelerated build schedule will enable the Swedish Armed Forces to deploy three UH-60M aircraft to Afghanistan in April, 2013. The Swedish Armed Forces will use the aircraft for medical evacuation, utility, and search and rescue missions.

"The Black Hawk Utility Helicopter (UH-60) is the world's best current and future force utility helicopter," said Gregory D. Gore, Deputy Project Manager, U.S. Army Utility Helicopters Project Office. "The UH-60 provides all commanders with rapid and agile maneuver capability through air assault, general support, command and control, and MEDEVAC missions. These features will provide Sweden an unparalleled asset to support their primary mission of medical evacuation and troop transport in Afghanistan as these aircraft are fielded in 2013."

Mr. Gore made his remarks during the delivery ceremony today at Sikorsky Aircraft's Stratford headquarters attended by senior members of the FMV and the Swedish Armed Forces.

Sweden is the first European country to acquire the U.S. Army's UH-60M BLACK HAWK aircraft. Introduced into service with the U.S. Army in 2007, the 'M' model is the latest variant of the world's most successful medium-lift military utility helicopter. Sweden's aircraft come equipped from Sikorsky with an advanced flight control system to reduce pilot workload, full night vision device capability for night operations, and a state-of-the-art communications suite.

The U.S. Army will further modify the aircraft with a variety of equipment, including an exterior rescue hoist, gunner seats, armored floor, stackable litters, a cockpit heater and environmental control system.

Swedish aircrew -- already flight qualified in UH-60M aircraft at the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence, Fort Rucker, Ala. -- will receive follow on unit training at the Swedish Air Force base in Linkoping following the arrival of the first four unmodified aircraft in Sweden in early 2012. Sikorsky Aerospace Services and Swedish defense and security company Saab will provide maintainer training and long-term logistics support for the fleet.

"Close collaboration with the U.S. Army is enabling Sikorsky to build these UH-60M BLACK HAWK aircraft 18 months ahead of a typical production schedule," said John Pacelli, Sikorsky's Vice President for International Military Business. "We're very pleased our joint efforts will meet Sweden's urgent requirement for new helicopters and associated training and logistic support in time for deployment."

BLACK HAWK helicopters of all variants flown by the U.S. Army in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters of war have accumulated more than 1.3 million fleet flight hours without a single Class A material failure. The combined operational sortie rate in both theaters stands at 85 percent. The U.S. Army's total BLACK HAWK helicopter fleet exceeds 1,945 aircraft.

More than 3,000 BLACK HAWK helicopters of all variants are in use today, operating in 30 countries. Designed to stringent U.S. military standards, the BLACK HAWK helicopter has become the leader in multi-mission type aircraft. Among the mission configurations it serves are troop transport, medical evacuation, electronic warfare, attack, assault support and special operations.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in aircraft design, manufacture and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., provides a broad range of high-technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.

SOURCE Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.

Timothy Spreen Resigns As Menominee-Marinette Twin County Airport (KMNM) Manager.

In a meeting that was quicker than it normally takes to check luggage, the Twin County Airport Commission unanimously accepted the resignation of manager Tim Spreen.

Spreen had submitted his resignation by email on Wednesday, Nov. 9 to board chairman Jim Pearson. At the meeting of the commission on Nov.10, Pearson read the note into the record:

“Twin County Airport Commissioners: Please accept this as my letter of resignation as the Twin County Airport manager effective 11/9/2011 at 12:00 p.m.

“Be assured, I will not un-resign in the days to come.

“Thank you for the opportunity and respect that have made my 2 years and 10 months an enjoyable experience.

“Sincerely, Timothy K. Spreen”

The Nov. 10 meeting was originally called to discuss renewing Spreen’s contract. Prior meetings of the commission wrangled with the oft-times contrasting open meeting laws of Wisconsin and Michigan.

Word was received on Tuesday, Nov. 8, that Menominee County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Hass had worked out agenda language that allowed the commission to enter into closed session to deliberate the contract.

With Spreen’s resignation now, little remained on the agenda to discuss so the meeting was adjourned barely after 10 minutes.

Commissioner James Furlong made the motion to accept the letter of resignation and to send out a letter to Spreen on behalf of the commission thanking him for his service and wishing him good luck in the future. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Ted Sauve.

Commissioner Dale Berman said the commission “had no option other than to accept the letter.”

Pearson said he had talked to Spreen about the disadvantages of his timing, as the resignation was without notice. Commissioner John Hartz was far more critical … not of Spreen, but of some of his fellow commissioners. He said, “I think Tim was frustrated by the way he has been treated by several members of this board. This has been going on for two and a half years and they finally got their way and I’m very disappointed in this board.”

Spreen was not present at the meeting.

During the public comment section of the meeting, Everett Anderson, a pilot, said, “The taxpayers of Menominee and Marinette County have lost one of the better managers that we have ever had. Not only was he a professional aircraft mechanic, but he was a professional in what he did.”

Commissioner Nick Lakari looked to the future of the airport. His concern was filling the vacancy and suggested that maybe Menominee County could take a lead role in finding a replacement since employees of the airport are considered Menominee County employees. He also asked if the airport keys and other airport property had been secured and Pearson answered the question in the affirmative.

Berman questioned if procedures were in place to help with snowplowing and other tasks. He felt that both counties could help in that regard. Further, he stated, “There’s a more immediate problem - we have one lineman at this time of year. To put this on to one lineman - have we got somebody available?”

Pearson felt that the commission could hire a temporary person if warranted. He also offered to contact the counties about the situation.

Dave Arndt, a Menominee resident, questioned Spreen’s timing. “I think Mr. Spreen could have been the nicest guy in the world, but I think there could have been a little more professionalism, when he quit so soon. I don’t think a manager should do that.” He further suggested putting something into the job description for manager something to prevent it from happening in the future.

In the one other item brought up during the meeting, Sauve informed the board he has spoken with Wisconsin Congressman Reid Ribble’s office about finding an aircraft to put on display by the airport entrance. Sauve stressed the phrase “at little or no cost.”

After the meeting, Pearson said he would contact the Federal Aviation Administration and the Michigan Bureau of Aeronautics to see if there were requirements for a minimum level of staffing and where to go from here.