Saturday, December 3, 2011

Airport manager on Allegiant's announcement: "I was very disappointed"

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT-TV) After a year and a half, Allegiant Airlines is ending its service from Twin Falls to Las Vegas.

Andrew Levy, President of Allegiant cited 'due to lack of market demand' as a reason to cancel the service.

The carrier's last day will be January 1st.

Allegiant officials say any customer with a reservation past that date will be contacted for a full refund.

We spoke to Magic Valley Airport Manager Bill Carberry who says after the seasonal cutbacks this fall, advance sales didn't look promising.

Carberry says, "I was very disappointed to hear they'd be leaving the market...people started filling up the planes, taking advantage of the flights. But I think the problem was the ticket prices. As costs have been going up with fuel and other areas in the airline business, as ticket prices started to creep up, we weren't seeing people respond to that. And the profits weren't there right now."

Sky West still remains at Magic Valley Regional Airport.

The airline offers three daily flights to Salt Lake City as a Delta connection.

Beechcraft F90 King Air, N90QL: Plane Crash Raises Concerns About Air Traffic Proximity. Midland, Texas.

Dozens of planes fly over the neighborhood near Midland Airpark every day. But now Friday's crash is raising questions for the residents about how safe they are, and if something like Friday’s event could happen again.

"It was surreal. You normally see this stuff on television happening to somebody else, but not in your own backyard," said Cary Love, who lives near the site of the crash. More than 24 hours after a plane crashes into their neighborhood, Midlanders are already analyzing what could have been done to prevent it. "The planes coming back seem to be really low and sometimes you can pick up a rock and throw it at them. It's kind of scary," Love said.

"The planes fly too low. There are some planes that come through here. If I'm in my backyard, I swear to God that I can touch the wheels," said Ann Mussinan, who also lives in the neighborhood.

But others say the chances of it happening again are highly unlikely.

"Airplane crashes are a very rare occurrence and one crashing into a house is unbelievable. There's an old movie quote about a house being hit by a plane. You should buy here now because the odds of it happening again are astronomical," said Grant Guess, who lives near the site.

"That's going to remain in this neighborhood. Maybe the community will come together now and push who ever controls the airport to correct the problem," Mussinan said.

As they try to pick up the pieces from Friday’s chaos, many say they're now ready to move on.

"It happened. I think the neighborhoods attitude is let's get back to normal," said Mussinan.

Administrators with Midland International Airport tell CBS 7 this isn't the first time a plane has crashed into a building in Midland. They say the last time it happened was in the mid 90's. The plane crashed near the staples building on North Loop 250.

Cirrus SR20 G2, Aerosim Flight Academy, Boston Aviation Leasing: Accidents occurred July 22, 2015, April 21, 2014 and November 22, 2011

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA277
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, July 22, 2015 in Lake Wales, FL
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR20, registration: N610DA
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

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 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.

On July 22, 2015, about 1044 eastern daylight time, a Cirrus SR20, N610DA, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while performing a go-around at Lake Wales Municipal Airport (X07), Lake Wales, Florida. The certified flight instructor (CFI) was seriously injured, and the student pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the flight from the Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB), Sanford, Florida to Page Field Airport (FMY), Fort Myers, Florida. The instructional flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to preliminary air traffic control (ATC) information, the CFI reported to ATC that the airplane was displaying a low oil pressure indication and he was experiencing smoke in the cockpit. The CFI then declared an emergency with ATC and was provided radar vectors to and cleared for landing at X07. 

According to witnesses at X07, they watched as the airplane approached runway 17. They stated that as the airplane reached the runway threshold, it appeared to abort the landing, "throttle up," and continued to fly down the runway. The airplane then made a left turn towards the departure end of runway 6. As the airplane reached the end of the runway, witnesses reported that it seemed "slow and wobbly," then began a descending left turn. Witnesses stated that the airframe parachute was deployed prior to impact. 

Examination of the airplane was conducted at the accident site, and all major components were accounted for at the scene. The wreckage path was oriented on a heading about 320 degrees magnetic, and was 46 feet in length. Examination of the right wing revealed that it was splintered and the fuel tank was breached. The cockpit was broken away from the fuselage and crushed, and the fuselage displayed crush damage throughout the hull. The empennage was intact and revealed impact damage. The left wing was intact and approximately 12 gallons of fuel was defueled from the main tank. Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit controls to all flight control surfaces. A cursory examination of the engine revealed that it was impact damaged and crushed aft towards the firewall. The propeller was fractured off of the engine crankshaft and located in the debris path approximately 20 feet from the main wreckage.

The plane was operated by Aerosim Flight Academy Inc., based out of Sanford was being flown by Flight Instructor Anthony Arzave, 32, and student pilot Sheng-yen Chen, 26, who were both hospitalized after the accident. Chen later succumbed to his injuries. Cirrus SR20, N610DA, accident occurred July 22, 2015 near Lake Wales Municipal Airport (X07), Lake Wales, Florida.

Heroic effort at plane crash site

Every weekday, Jared O’Conner makes the 90-mile trek from his Osceola County home to join a small work crew working on safety upgrades at the Lake Wales Municipal Airport.

For the first few hours of his shift last Thursday, it was a non-eventful day, his large front-loader doing its routine business of moving dirt.

But in the blink of an eye, O’Conner and his co-workers saw their day switched from ho-hum to heroic when a small single-engine plane went down about a quarter-mile from the Lake Wales Municipal Airport.

“We got on scene, but we weren’t aware of exactly where the plane was located,” Lake Wales Fire Chief Joe Jenkins said. “We could first see the parachute, and that’s when we noticed it.”

The first responders jumped into a “gator” four-wheel drive vehicle provided by the airport to initially get to the site, a swampy area that was clearly not going to be accessed by conventional fire and rescue equipment.

“They had all their medical equipment, but we didn’t have all of the extrication tools,” Jenkins said.

That’s when O’Conner and members of the Dickerson Florida work crew swung into action. They loaded rescue equipment into the bucket of a front end loader that lumbered through the marsh, cutting a path to the downed plane.

“It was definitely a team effort. It was a great example of public-private relationship. They were more than willing to do anything we asked them to do, above and beyond,” Jenkins said. Extrication tools were needed to cut the plane’s dashboard away from student pilot Sheng-yen Chen, a 26-year-old from China.

Chen passed away over the weekend from his injuries, but his instructor, Anthony Arzave, while still hospitalized as of Monday, is in stable condition.

Sources on scene said Chen was unconscious during the rescue effort, while Arzave was able to communicate some with medical personnel.

Chen was transported from the crash site in the front-loader bucket along with a couple of first responders. They were taken to a nearby pickup truck which then transported the victim to a waiting ambulance.

“Had it happened on a runway, it would have been a lot more simple, but you just have to kind of improvise. It was an usual vehicle to move a patient to be sure, but when you looked around, the helicopters couldn’t even land in that area because it was too wet,” Jenkins said.

The plane sustained heavy damage, and Jenkins said he was surprised anyone survived the crash.

“I am, to be honest with you, really surprised,” he said.

O’Conner said he didn’t hesitate for a second to offer the company’s equipment and aid, estimating that the crash was probably 2,000 feet from a spot where rescue vehicles could reasonably be staged.

“It wasn’t exactly a normal day,” O’Conner said. “I didn’t even think. We knew people needed help, so that’s what we did.”

Kathy McBride, onsite representing the engineering firm Hoyle, Tanner who is overseeing the airport construction project, was outside near the railroad track crossing on Airport Road when she saw the doomed plane overhead.

“We noticed him coming in and then he seemed to accelerate and pull back up, and we thought ‘that’s odd’ and then he curved to the left,” she said. “I never heard anything.”

The plane was equipped with an emergency parachute, which investigators are trying to determine whether or not it was actually deployed or may have opened upon impact.

There was at least one worker who heard an ominous sound.

“We heard a pop,” said Austin Berg, who also works for Dickerson. “I think it was the parachute opening.”

From afar, however, there was no other obvious signs of an impact, the workers said.

“There was gas leaking there, but there was no explosion like you see in the movies,” O’Conner noted.

Despite the challenging conditions, both Jenkins and the workers estimated it only took about 10 minutes to get the victims out of the wreckage.

“It really went smooth, extremely smooth. The guys did a wonderful job,” Jenkins said, noting that the department hasn’t done any specific airport training. “It would have been easy to become overwhelmed by the situation, but they didn’t miss a beat.”

According to a report in the Taipei Times, Chen was one of about 50 pilot trainees for China Airlines — that nation’s largest carrier — that are being schooled at the Aeorism Flight Academy in Sanford, which according to the airlines, was formed in 1989.

The report said the injured pilot came to the academy last year, and was scheduled to finish his flight training by the end of this year. He would still have needed an additional year of training once he returned to Taiwan, the report added.

O’Conner and workers from the Dickerson crew are to be honored for their efforts at next Tuesday’s meeting of the Lake Wales City Commission which starts at 6 p.m. in city hall.

“Their sole objective was to do anything and everything we needed them to do,” Jenkins added. “They made it a lot easier and a lot faster. We’re fighting the clock at that point. We need to get them transported and get them to a hospital.”


LAKE WALES -- A student pilot injured in a plane crash last week has died. 

Flight instructor Anthony Arzave, 32, of Lake Mary, and student pilot Sheng-yen Chen, 26, of China, were in a Cirrus SR20 plane when it crashed near a runway at the Lake Wales Municipal Airport last Wednesday.

Chen succumbed to his injuries over the weekend.

Arzave remains at a local hospital and in stable condition.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. 

Cirrus SR20, N610DA, Aerosim Flight Academy: Accident occurred July 22, 2015 near Lake Wales Municipal Airport (X07), Lake Wales, Florida 

Date: 22-JUL-15
Time: 14:44:00Z
Regis#: N610DA
Aircraft Make: CIRRUS
Aircraft Model: SR20
Event Type: Accident
Highest Injury: Serious
Damage: Destroyed
Activity: Instruction
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Orlando FSDO-15
State: Florida



Taipei, July 24 (CNA) One of Taiwan's major international airlines on Friday confirmed that one of its student pilots has been injured in a plane crash in central Florida. 

China Airlines said its representatives will accompany relatives of the student pilot to the United States and the company will do its best to help provide medical care for the young man.

News reports in Florida identified the man as Chen Sheng-yen, 26, a would-be pilot receiving a year-long training at Aerosim Flight Academy based in Sanford near Orlando.

He was flying with instructor pilot Anthony Arzave, 32, when their Cirrus SR20 crashed Wednesday morning (local time) near a runway at the Lake Wales Municipal Airport to the south of Orlando, Bay News 9 reported on its website.

An emergency parachute on the Cirrus SR20 was activated although investigators said they don't know if the parachute had been deployed by the pilots or deployed on impact, the report said.

The two were taken to a local hospital, the report said, adding Chen was in critical condition while Arzave's condition was listed as stable.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Bureau.

According to Aerosim Flight Academy Inc., the company that runs the flight school, Arzave, a certified flight instructor, and the student experienced difficulty at the Lake Wales Municipal Airport during a routine training flight before the crash.

China Airlines said Chen is one of around 50 student pilots being trained at Aerosim Flight Academy, which was founded in 1989. Chen began his training late in 2014 and was scheduled to receive more training after returning to Taiwan late this year. 


Statement from Aerosim Flight Academy Inc: 

"At approximately 11 a.m. Wednesday morning, July 22, 2015, an Aerosim Flight Academy Cirrus SR-20 aircraft crewed by a Certified Flight Instructor and student experienced difficulty at the Lake Wales Municipal Airport during a routine training flight. The instructor and student were transported to a local hospital for medical evaluation and care. 

"At the present time, Aerosim is gathering all available information on the condition of the crew, status of the aircraft and potential causes of this incident.  Aerosim is working closely and cooperating with all local, state and federal entities to ensure that a proper and complete investigation is conducted.

"The safety of our students and instructors is our top priority.  We remain in close communications will all authorities as the incident remains an active investigation."

Read more here:

LAKE WALES | The two men injured in Wednesday's plane crash at the Lake Wales Municipal Airport have been identified. 

Flight instructor Anthony Arzave, 32, of Lake Mary, and student pilot Sheng-yen Chen, 26, of China were injured when a plane belonging to Aerosim Academy Inc. out of Sanford crashed into a swampy area near the runway at the airport before 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Lake Wales Police Department.

The men were airlifted to a local hospital, where they remain. Arzave is currently listed in serious condition, while Chen's injuries are considered critical, police said.

Police said the plane came equipped with a parachute, which deployed during the crash, but it is unclear whether it was deployed by the men or upon impact. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board have been working with police, but have not yet determined the cause of the crash.

A small plane carrying two adults crashed Wednesday morning in a marshy area next to Lake Wales Municipal Airport, according to Polk County Fire Rescue.

Both adult males, an instructor and a student, were flown to a local hospitals.

According to Lake Wales police, both victims are alive. Their names will be released once family is notified.

Both suffered serious injuries, and as of late Wednesday, one of the men was still in surgery.

Emergency responders received a call about the crashed Cirrus SR20 aircraft about 10:45 a.m. The flight departed from Orlando-Sanford International Airport and was headed for Page Field in Ft. Myers, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Lake Wales was not on the flight plan, so it's possible the men were attempting an emergency landing while en route to Ft. Myers.

The plane crashed just short of the runway.

Investigators said during a news conference the parachute which can be seen in photos and video from Action Air 1 is actually part of the plane.

The operators of this particular plane can deploy the chute in an emergency. It's unclear how high the plane was when the chute was deployed.


LAKE WALES, Fla. (WFLA) -Two men are in the hospital with serious injuries after their plane crashed near the Lake Wales Municipal Airport Wednesday morning. Investigators tell us the men were airlifted to a nearby hospital after they were pulled from the wreckage. The plane hit the ground in a swampy area next to the airport, which shook many nearby homes. 

“I heard like a loud sound I heard the plane going and I heard a loud boom,” said Mireya Cardona who lives just behind the airport. She and her family watched as helicopters landed and airlifted the men to the airport. We understand the victims were a pilot and a passenger.

An Orlando based Federal Aviation Administration team made it to the scene Wednesday afternoon. Investigators are still waiting on the NTSB team from Atlanta to arrive. Meantime, they are not releasing the names of the men on the plane until they can reach their families. Lake Wales Police could not tell us if the plane was leaving the airport or landing. Skydiving schools located at the airport shut their doors for the day after the crash.

Lake Wales police tell News Channel 8 that someone called 911 to notify them of the crash around 10:45 Wednesday morning. They found the men still in the aircraft once they arrived. They were using a four wheeler Wednesday to access the crash site which was in a wet swampy area.

Lake Wales, Florida -- Two people have been airlifted to the hospital after their small plane crashed at Lake Wales Municipal Airport late Wednesday morning. 

An FAA spokesperson says the pilot and passenger were on a Cirrus SR20 that departed from Orlando Sanford International Airport and was headed to Page Field in Ft. Myers when it appears it tried to land at Lake Wales Municipal Airport.

Based on aerial footage from the scene, it appears the pilot had deployed the plane's parachute to help land the plane safely.

The FAA is continuing to investigate the crash.



NTSB Identification: ERA12CA082 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, November 22, 2011 in Brooksville, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/16/2012
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR20, registration: N497DA
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

According to the pilot, while in the vicinity of an unfamiliar airport, he used his global positioning system (GPS) to align the airplane with the runway. During the landing roll, the airplane impacted mailboxes and fences, and the pilot realized that he had landed on a residential street. The runway was about 1.5 miles to the west. According to a representative of the flight school that operated the airplane, there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane. Examination of the airplane revealed that the wings sustained substantial damage.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's incorrect identification of the runway, which resulted in an off-airport landing and subsequent collision with objects. 


According to deputies, the 22-year-old student pilot said his GPS indicated that Citation Road in the Pasco Trails subdivision was a Pilot Country Airport landing strip. The airport is less than three miles from where he actually landed.

His Cirrus SR20 plane hit some mailboxes, small trees and a fence. No one was injured in the landing. 

Dave Torro saw the plane land in his neighborhood and tells 10 News he spoke with the pilot afterwards.  According to Torro, the pilot was from China and did not speak English well.

"He said, 'We land here all the time ... this is Pilot Country.' And I'm like, 'No. It's not.  This is a horse community and you got them mixed up,'" Torro recalls.
The plane had taken off from Sanford. The FAA will be investigating the incident.

Spring Hill, Florida -- It appears the pilot of a single-engine plane mistook a Pasco County neighborhood for a nearby airport landing strip.

Photo Gallery: Plane hard landing in Pasco

The 23-year-old student pilot said his GPS indicated Citation Road in the Pasco Trails subdivision was a landing strip.

The 23-year-old student pilot said his GPS indicated Citation Road in the Pasco Trails subdivision was a landing strip

NTSB Identification: ERA14CA2
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, April 21, 2014 in Sanford, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/05/2014
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR20, registration: N497DA
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

During the supervised solo flight, the student pilot had completed three previous circuits in the traffic pattern, with two of the three landing attempts aborted. On the fourth landing attempt, a 70-degree right crosswind "blew" the airplane off the left side of the runway. The student pilot then applied full engine power to conduct a go-around, and the airplane "veered left and banked 45 degrees to the left." The student pilot stated that the airplane continued left "no matter how hard I pushed the control stick to the right." The student pilot also reported that there were no mechanical deficiencies with the airplane that would have prevented normal operation. According to FAA Advisory Circular AC-61-23C, Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge:

"The effect of torque increases in direct proportion to engine power, airspeed, and airplane attitude. If the power setting is high, the airspeed slow, and the angle of attack high, the effect of torque is greater. During takeoffs and climbs, when the effect of torque is most pronounced, the pilot must apply sufficient right rudder pressure to counteract the left-turning tendency and maintain a straight takeoff path."

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The student pilot's failure to maintain directional control during the aborted landing. Contributing to the accident was his failure to compensate for torque, P-factor, and the reported crosswind conditions.

During the supervised solo flight, the student pilot had completed three previous circuits in the traffic pattern, with two of the three landing attempts aborted. On the fourth landing attempt, a 70-degree right crosswind "blew" the airplane off the left side of the runway. The student pilot then applied full engine power to conduct a go-around, and the airplane "veered left and banked 45 degrees to the left." The student pilot stated that the airplane continued left "no matter how hard I pushed the control stick to the right." The student pilot also reported that there were no mechanical deficiencies with the airplane that would have prevented normal operation. According to FAA Advisory Circular AC-61-23C, Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge:

"The effect of torque increases in direct proportion to engine power, airspeed, and airplane attitude. If the power setting is high, the airspeed slow, and the angle of attack high, the effect of torque is greater. During takeoffs and climbs, when the effect of torque is most pronounced, the pilot must apply sufficient right rudder pressure to counteract the left-turning tendency and maintain a straight takeoff path."




Alaska man stranded in snow 3 days survives on frozen beer! Cheers!

Clifton Vial, 52, climbed into the cab of his Toyota Tacoma on Monday night in Nome to see how far a road winding to the north would take him.

More than 40 miles out of town, at about 9:30 that night, he found out. As Pink Floyd's "Echoes" played on the stereo and temperature dipped well below zero in the darkness, Vial's pickup plunged into a snowdrift.

"I made an attempt at digging myself out and realized how badly I was stuck," Vial told The Anchorage Daily News. He was wearing tennis shoes, jeans and a $30 jacket from Sears. "I would have been frostbit before I ever got the thing out of there."

Vial found himself alone near Salmon Lake, on a road that doubles as a snowmachine trail in the winter and stretches inland from the Bering Sea city. Far beyond the reach of his cellphone, Vial slipped into a fleece sleeping bag liner and wrapped a bath towel around his feet. He occasionally started the truck to run the heater and listen to the radio.

Was anybody talking about him? Did they know he was missing? By the third day, Vial said, the truck was nearly out of gas. "I felt really pissed at myself," Vial said. "I shouldn't have been out there by myself unprepared for what I knew was possible."

Normally Vial carries a sleeping bag, extra gasoline and other survival gear in the 2000 Toyota, he said. But on this trip he had few supplies, no food and no water. Even his dogs, a pair of labs that usually accompany him on drives, stayed home.

Vial kept busy trying to think of ways to stay warm. His wife and daughter were out of town, searchers said. No one would know he was gone until he failed to show up for work at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"He's a very punctual employee," said John Handeland, general manager for Nome Joint Utility System, where Vial works as an operator mechanic. "By 4 o'clock we figured something was wrong."

No one could reach Vial on the phone. Co-workers patrolling the town that night found no sign of his pickup.

Handeland called police on Wednesday when Vial missed work for a second day.

The Nome Volunteer Fire Department was alerted and Vial's co-workers and volunteer rescuers drove surrounding roads in search of the Toyota.

One searcher drove 41 miles along Kougarok Road -- just a few miles from where Vial sat shivering and stranded in his pickup -- but saw no tracks. The searcher turned back as daylight disappeared and the road conditions worsened, Handeland said.

Troopers joined the search. Rescuers looked for Vial on the ground and from the air, in planes and from a helicopter.

"When we get called on situations like this, it's a needle in a haystack," said Jim West Jr., a Nome fire department captain and search and rescue coordinator.

For Vial, the cold was worse than the hunger, he said. Still he scoured the pickup in vain for food.

His only provisions: Snow, and a few cans of Coors Light that had frozen solid in the cab.

Vial ate the beers like cans of beans. "I cut the lids off and dug it out with a knife," he said.

The overnight low temperature in Nome dropped from about 12 below Monday night -- not counting windchill -- to 17 below on Wednesday morning, said National Weather Service meteorologist Charles Aldrich.

Battling for warmth, Vial wrapped a bath towel around his feet and placed another over his knees and thighs. He shook his ankles and knees to keep moving. He stuffed rags in his clothes and unraveled tissue paper, jamming it down around his feet.

"When I was just sitting there in my coat in the sleeping bag liner I would pull my arms inside my T-shirt to try and utilize my body heat as much as I could," Vial said. "That worked fine for some time, as far as keeping my torso warm and my arms. But my legs and feet where getting pretty cold."

The wind rumbled like airplane engines, Vial said. He thought about his daughter, and about what would happen if no one found him in time.

"I tried to sleep when I could," Vial said, "but I knew that I might not wake up."

When he did close his eyes, Vial said, strange and vivid images appeared. "Saw my daughter. Saw my job. Saw some things that didn't look like people."

He would picture himself driving around Nome, saying hello to friends, only to snap awake and find himself back in the truck, freezing.

At one point Vial decided he would only fire up the pickup's engine once a day. "(The gas tank) was on `E' and the gas light was coming on," he said.

Vial never heard the rescuers arrive. It was early Thursday afternoon, three days after he first became stranded in the snow, when they pulled up behind his pick-up. A co-worker and another volunteer opened the door to the truck, he said.

They gave him a Snickers bar -- it seemed too dry to eat, he said -- and an orange soda.

Vial described the more than 60-hour ordeal in a short phone interview Friday from Nome. His daughter was home from Anchorage.

He planned to visit a doctor Friday afternoon, then return to work.

Vial's legs felt as if they'd been beaten, he said, but he found no signs of frostbite. "I weighed myself last night," he said. "I lost approximately 16 pounds."

Original article and comments: 

Navi Mumbai airport land: Govt does U-turn, to review land ownership statement

Five years after acknowledging that a plot of land in Navi Mumbai, where the new airport is planned, belonged to the Bivalkar family, the state government has decided to review its statement made before the court in 2005.

The government decided to review its own order after Cidco approached the Bombay high court expressing apprehension that they may lose about 157 acres, which is part of the land where the airport is coming up.

Advocate General Ravi Kadam and assistant government pleader Nitin Deshpande told the high court. “We will file an application for review of the high court order dated December 8, 2005, where the government had not challenged the ownership and title of Bivalkar family,” said Kadam.

The government had said that in 2005 it was aware of the arrangement betweenBivalkar and the state. It said it had quashed the order of the district collector, Raigad, which said the land belonged to the government.

The need for review arose after the high court asked the government to make its stand clear on the ownership issue after Cidco’s petition. “It is a serious issue and a big project cannot be held up due to lack of coordination between two government departments. Make your stand clear,” it said.

Cidco has filed a petition seeking that the government not give back about 157 acres of land to the Bivalkar family as the government had acquired the land in 1950s. The Bivalkars were awarded compensation. The land is also private forest and under the Forest Act, 1975.

Following Cidco’s petition, an affidavit was filed by Gangaram Bivalkar (67) and his brother Yashwant (62) stating that only the redevelopment right had been passed on to the government. Mahendra Ghelani, their counsel, said the ownership rights were with the Bivalkars. The land was given by Bivalkars to the government to manage it under the Forest Act, said Ghelani. As the government failed to take steps to restore the land to Bivalkars as per their statement in 2005, they have field contempt of court petition which is pending.

Operation Good Cheer uses planes to deliver gifts for foster families

A group of people gathered at the Jackson County Airport and looked to the sky Saturday, waiting for Christmas presents to arrive.

It wasn’t a delivery from Santa Claus, unless he traded in his sleigh for a Cessna.

Operation Good Cheer organizers and volunteers from around Jackson County welcomed planes that were full of gifts for foster families. Planes took off from Oakland County bound for 200 airports throughout Michigan.

“As the planes come in, we greet them and help unload all of the gifts,” said Diana Ripley, Operation Good Cheer coordinator for the Jackson and Ann Arbor offices of Lutheran Social Services.

Ripley said her organization’s staff will sort and distribute the Christmas gifts to about 106 foster children.

This year, more than 4,500 children, teens and adults with disabilities who are in foster care, residential treatment and group homes in Michigan will be opening gifts on Christmas, thanks to the efforts of 48 private child and family social service programs.

Donors give a variety of gifts, ranging from new gaming systems to clothing.

Amy Mansfield, foster care supervisor for Lutheran Social Services in Jackson and Ann Arbor, said they were out to do a good deed Saturday. Staff from Jackson’s Family Services and Children’s Aid office helped, too.

“We are trying to help kids who need it most,” said Tomee Poole, 18, a volunteer from Jackson.

Joe Hass of Troy took out the back seat of his Cessna to make room for four new bicycles. He has been a pilot for Operation Good Cheer for six years.

“It’s astounding how many people and kids are helped by this,” Hass said.

“I love to fly, and this makes it that much better.”

Betty Haas Pfister, a Woman With Wings, Dies at 90

“No, no, you can’t go up!” Betty Haas’s father insisted that day in 1940 when the family went to an air show in Bennington, Vt. But when her parents left, Ms. Haas, then 19, sneaked back to the airfield, paid a dollar and, as she liked to say, “squished into a seat” for a ride on a tiny plane. 
It was the first of hundreds of flights that Betty Haas Pfister would make — dozens as a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, during World War II, and many more as one of the nation’s most successful female competitive pilots. (And not counting those as a Pan Am stewardess in the days when women had a much harder time getting hired as pilots.) 

Ms. Haas Pfister, a two-time winner of the All Women’s International Air Race, died on Nov. 17 at her home in Aspen, Colo., her daughter Suzanne said. She was 90. 

After that first flight, Suzanne Pfister said, “Mom made a deal with her father that she would stay in school if he paid for flight lessons.” 

By the time she graduated from Bennington College in 1942, Ms. Haas Pfister (she went on to marry Arthur Pfister in 1954) had logged enough flight time to be accepted as a member of the WASPs — an Army Air Forces attachment created to fill the void when male pilots were deployed overseas. 

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Wreaths Across America needs volunteers

Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by Maine businessman, Morrill Worcester, in 1992.  The organization is seeking volunteers to help lay wreaths on the graves of service members at military cemeteries.

According to their website, the organization's mission is to Remember, Honor, Teach, which they carry out in part by coordinating wreath laying ceremonies on the second Saturday of December at Arlington, as well as veterans' cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond.

They also organize a week of events including international veteran's tributes, ceremonies at State Houses and a week-long "Veteran's Parade" between Maine and Virginia where they stop along the way to spread their message about the importance of remembering the nation's fallen heroes, honoring those who serve, and teaching children about the sacrifices made by veterans and their Families to preserve America's freedoms.

To register online go to

Boulder seeks eminent domain authority to force land sale near airport. Boulder Municipal Airport (KBDU), Colorado.

The Boulder City Council is poised to authorize the use of eminent domain to force a Boulder County property owner to sell his land in order to preserve future federal funding for the Boulder Municipal Airport.

Barry Barnow, a longtime pilot and owner of Boulder Valley Aviation, owns a piece of land at 5864 Rustic Knolls Drive, just outside the airport.

He's been locked in a battle with city officials for years because his property has a half-century-old "through the fence" agreement that gives him the legal authority to taxi an aircraft from his land directly onto the airport runway.

Though there is an aging hangar on the Barnow's property, he does not currently use his through-the-fence authority. But Barnow says he has plans to build on the property and take advantage of that legal right in the future.

City officials say they have to acquire either the property or the access agreement in order to meet Federal Aviation Administration guidelines and maintain federal funding for the airport.

"Staff believes authority to condemn the property is necessary in this circumstance as informal negotiations and efforts to provide the city's appraisal to the property owner have been unsuccessful," a memo sent to City Council on Thursday reads. "Such authority will allow staff to commence the formal negotiations, which are a prerequisite to filing the court action."

The council will be asked Tuesday night to approve the use of eminent domain if those negotiations fail.

"It's definitely not our first choice," said Kathy Haddock, Boulder's senior assistant city attorney.

But she said the city's efforts to work with Barnow have failed, leaving no alternative but to force the sale.

While it's possible the city would go after only the access rights -- which staffers value at no more than $5,000 -- officials wrote in the council memo that forcing the sale of the entire property is in the city's best interest. Doing so would enhance the safety of the airport by creating an additional buffer between it and neighboring houses, as well as preserve the property's "natural state," according to the memo.

If you go

What: Boulder City Council meeting

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Boulder Municipal Building, 1777 Broadway

Confessions of an Airline Baggage 'Thrower'

Ever wonder why airlines lose, delay and damage bags? We asked an airline baggage handler who, of course, spoke to us anonymously, what it’s like in the belly of the beast and on the tarmac. What he told us might help you arrive with your bag and its contents intact.

What goes on behind the curtain?

You might be amazed at how much manpower it takes to put a passenger aircraft in the air. Obviously, the majority of time, you’ll only see the pilots, flight attendants, and gate agents. That already is a lot of people, but there are more people working outside to get you to your destination. Once you leave your bag at the check-in counter, it goes through a series of conveyer belts, where it may or may not be opened and searched by TSA, until it reaches the pier for your departing flight. It is then sorted into carts by one ramp agent who then brings it planeside for other ramp agents to load on the airplane. You may not be able to see much from your window seat, but we can see all around the tarmac. Other than bags, there is a lot of other cargo that gets transported by air. We see everything from human remains, to mail to fruits and vegetables coming on and off the plane. We’re also the guys directing the plane to its parking position at the gate, securing the aircraft, and hooking up the ground power and air. Also, since planes don’t go in reverse, we are the guys driving the push back tug, ensuring that aircraft do not come in contact with each other.

How do bags get damaged?

I’m not going to lie, your checked luggage takes a beating. They call it “throwing bags” for a reason. There isn’t an easy way around this. Airplanes are only making money while in the air and no airline wants an airplane on the ground too long. Due to the nature of some aircraft, it would be impossible to turn around a 737 or 757 in an hour or less without throwing bags because it’s just faster.

On these planes, there are only two long and narrow cargo holds where your luggage goes. One agent puts the bags on the belt loader, which carries it up to an agent inside the cargo hold who throws it 50 feet to the back where another agent stacks all the bags as if it were a game of Tetris. Wheels and handles oftentimes break or crack on impact and anything fragile inside that is not packed well doesn’t stand much of a chance. Don’t put red wine or alcohol in your suitcase ever. I would never check any fragile items in a soft sided suitcase, unless it was professionally packaged. Those fragile stickers don’t get noticed very often in the rush of loading bags unless it is an obvious shape, such as a musical instrument. I am a musician so I take special care of those, but not everyone is a musician.

Bags can also get damaged by loose ends getting caught in the belt, which can tear off straps, zippers, or handles. Handles also break off many times if the bag is packed extremely heavy and we try to pick it up by the handle.

One good thing about the larger aircraft (747, 767, 777, 787, etc.) is that they are all loaded by machines. Your bags are just put in a can and that can is loaded on the plane by machine so there is no bag throwing. So theoretically there’s a better chance of your bag coming out unscathed if you fly in one of those jets.

How do bags get lost?

Sometimes the airport code is read incorrectly and it gets put in the wrong cart and brought to the wrong plane. Someone might mistake VCE for NCE or PDX and PHX. It happens, but not that often. It is always important to ensure you have the correct destination on your bag tag and to keep your receipt. Secure your contact information on the outside and inside of the bag in case the outside tag falls off. If your bag ends up in a different destination, it won’t get re-routed until it reaches wherever it went and is scanned. We try to scan all the bags going on a flight, but the scanners are all wireless now and don’t always work due to bad connections or getting locked up. If time is of the essence, your bag may not get scanned. Also, if you have a tight connection, you may be able to make it, but your bag may not. On smaller regional flights, many times bags are not loaded or taken off due to weight and balance limits. This is for safety reasons and ensures a safe take off and landing weight. So try to avoid those planes.

Finally, there’s the old “fell off the truck” scenario. Not in the sense that someone took your bag, but that it actually fell off the cart on its way to or from the aircraft. This happens all the time and sometimes will delay your bag if it is not noticed by anyone right away.

What kind of suitcases get damaged least/most?

Cheap bags that you buy at the discount store break very easily. If your handle is sewn on or is very flimsy, it’s probably going to break. If you travel a lot or pack heavy, make sure you buy a quality, durable bag. Hard-sided suitcases will get less damage, but also look for well-designed handles that are attached with rivets and some sort of protection around the wheels. Speaking of wheels, the best bags to get are the “spinners” with four wheels on the bottom. We like these, because we don’t have to throw them when loading. We just glide them down the belly of the plane so your bag and its contents will suffer much less damage.

Why don’t airlines cover certain things?

My best guess as to why airlines don’t cover common damages, such as wheels, handles, and straps, is because they break so often that they would be paying out all the time.

Have you ever seen theft?

I have not personally seen anyone take anything from a bag and keep it but I wouldn’t say that it never happens. There are no cameras inside the belly of the plane. When I have to check a bag, I always use the TSA approved locks to lock the suitcase. I do this not only to prevent someone from easily taking something, but also to keep the bag closed. We see open bags all the time because the zipper just started coming apart, and yes, things do fall out of these open bags. Sometimes, we see it and can put whatever came out back in the bag it came from, but sometimes there are just random items strewn around the belly. If it’s a random piece of clothing or a shoe, those won’t go down the baggage claim belt too well and oftentimes just get discarded eventually.

How can passengers prevent their bags from going astray?

The main thing to do is keep your bag tag receipt so you can track your bag. If it didn’t get scanned on the flight, it will get scanned eventually when it reaches a station. Also, try to plan sufficient ground time for your bag to make its connection. Thirty or forty minutes isn’t always enough at a big airport like Atlanta.

What’s it like to work in that environment?

It’s fast paced, loud, and potentially dangerous. Hearing protection is a must, but not everyone wears it. Really not a good idea considering you are working around jet engines. Speaking of jet engines, they are very dangerous. There is risk of jet blast and suction that wouldn’t end pretty if you were careless. This is one of the main points emphasized in training. In general, training was all about safety. You have to be aware of your surroundings at all times. It’s a labor-intensive job that involves working with heavy machinery and in all weather conditions.

What are the best/worst things about the job?

I’ll start with the worst and end with the best. The all-weather aspect of the job can be brutal when it is pouring rain or extremely cold. This also slows down the operation tremendously, which oftentimes results in fewer breaks due to delayed flights. One of the worst aspects is getting in very uncomfortable positions and loading heavy bags. If you thought your space was cramped on the airplane, try loading around one hundred 30-to 50-pound bags in a space you can’t even kneel down in without ducking. The worst aircraft to load is the old MD-88, called the “Maddog” in the industry. It almost feels like you’re loading bags in a coffin.

The best part of the job goes with out saying. Travel benefits. It’s the primary reason that most, if not all, employees work for an airline. Granted it is standby travel, but being able to travel on a whim anywhere in the world for little to no money is simply fantastic. I’m able to visit my family and friends on a regular basis and see parts of the world that would probably not be possible without working for an airline. It’s also a relatively stress free job and can actually work as a stress reliever. On nice days, it is such a joy to be working outside and getting a good workout in the process. As long as the weather is nice, it sure beats a day at the office.