Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Argentina pilot fighting forest fire survives crash

THE pilot of a plane being used to fight a forest fire in Argentina's Patagonia region has survived a crash, officials say.

Firefighters found the pilot, whose plane went down while battling the out-of-control fire in the province of Chubut.

The pilot was taken to a hospital in the tourist town of El Hoyo, which was declared an emergency area because of its proximity to a burning hill, Chubut forest service chief Rodrigo Robeta said.

The blaze has scorched about 100 hectares on the hill, Robeta said.

The emergency management office has evacuated dozens of tourists who were camping around the Los Alerces lagoon, located across from the burning hill, which is in the Andes mountain range on the border between Argentina and Chile, Robeta said.

The drought in Patagonia has helped fires on both sides of the border to spread, Robeta told Argentine radio station.

The fire was caused by someone and is out of control despite the efforts of about 80 firefighters to put it out, El Hoyo Mayor Mirco Szudruk said, adding that aerial water tankers began providing support on Wednesday.

About 30 people living in the forest near the burning hill will be evacuated in the next few hours, Szudruk said.

Tens of thousands of hectares of forest have burned in neighbouring Chile in the past few days.

The biggest blaze has destroyed more than 19,000 hectares of forest and cropland in the southern Chilean region of Bio Bio.

A fire affecting Torres del Paine National Park in Chile's remote southern Magallanes region has destroyed more than 13,300 hectares since last week and is being fought by about 1,000 people, including soldiers and forest service personnel, as well as firefighters from Argentina and Uruguay.

SeaPort Airlines raises concerns in some communities, hopes in others

Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian
Connie Nicholson, a pilot with SeaPort Airlines, checks the prop on her craft after a flight from Astoria in this 2010 photo. SeaPort announced a change in its operating strategy recently, which includes dropping flights between Portland and Seattle.
NEWPORT – On Jan. 15, SeaPort Airlines will start flying out of North Bend. After that, it will add service to Jackson, and Nashville, Tenn. And in March, the airline will begin flights out of Yakima and Wenatchee, Wash.

The question is: How long will it last?

In less than three years, SeaPort has added and abandoned service in five different communities, most recently announcing last week it would abandon its Portland-to-Seattle route and cease operations at Seattle's Boeing Field.

That has some people questioning SeaPort's motives. Are they sincere about their commitment to small town air service? Or are they in it for the subsidies, the incentives and free marketing?

A SeaPort official says the airline is trying to make things work for everyone -- but it can't fly where it can't make a profit.

Still, the Portland-based airline has lost some fans.

"Their track record is not very good at this point," said Newport Mayor Mark McConnell. "If I was a city of people trying to make a decision to help them out, absolutely I'd be leery about giving them a whole of money up front." .

SeaPort started service between Portland and Seattle in the summer of 2008, and the following spring, subsidized by $4.5 million in state and federal grants, began service to Newport and Astoria. It left Astoria about the same time the subsidies ran out in March 2011, then added a stop in Salem in late April. The airline left Salem after barely three months, giving less than a week's notice to the city that spent $10,000 marketing it.

"I was shocked, upset, angry," said Tim Hay, chairman of Salem Airport Advisory Commission. "Normally, they give 60-90 days notice. We were given five days notice. That doesn't seem right."

The airline also stopped service in Newport in July 2011, ending two years of often contentious communications with the city for failing to honor stipulations in the contract.

Tim Sieber,  SeaPort vice-president of strategy and corporate development said the airline tried to make it work in the coastal towns and Salem, but there were just not enough passengers to make it profitable.

"We tried to use more economical planes to lower costs," said Sieber. "We stayed in Newport after the subsidy, and tried the stop in Salem. That didn't even pay to cover the cost of wear and tear on the brakes to be quite blunt about it."

But it was a different story in Idaho Falls, where airport aviation director Len Nelson says business was good and getting better. SeaPort began flying Idaho Falls to Boise in July 2011, but gave notice they were leaving less than six months later.

"We were really, really disappointed to see them leave," said Nelson. "We were just starting to fill the airplanes up. Out of nine seats, we were filling it a lot of times, and averaging five – six passengers a flight."

The problem with the Idaho Falls/Boise route had to do with the long distance – 200 miles – and the airline's plans to switch from the Pilatus PC 12 turboprop to the more economical, but slower Cessna Caravan, Sieber said. The flight in the PC 12 takes about an hour, but in the Cessna, it's closer to 1  1/2 hours.

"There were some lessons learned in Boise/Idaho Falls," said Sieber. "There is a direct highway link. Traffic wise it was good, but there was a tipping point where people were willing to fly in an airplane and then as you edge up the fare, people say, no, I'm going to drive."

The recent lessons learned have inspired SeaPort to come up with a new profile for the airports it wants to service, Sieber said.

In the future, it will look to develop routes in rural towns that are not linked to bigger cities by interstate highways and they'll aim to keep to routes less than 200 miles. They are also looking for airports where other airlines are already flying.

In North Bend, that's Sky West. The airline will end its daily flights to and from Portland next month, but will continue flying from North Bend to San Francisco. Airport executive director Therese Cook believes SeaPort has a better chance at success with the North Bend/Portland route than Sky West because it is flying smaller planes, but with more frequent flights – three a day.

The airport isn't offering any subsidies, but it is waiving landing and counter space fees for the first six months, providing personnel on the tarmac and at the customer service counter for the first four months and will also market the airline.

"We did the math, basically the revenue exceeds the waivers," said Cook. "No matter the history of Seaport, I have to look at a whole new scenario. We are a different airport. I honestly believe Seaport is going to be a really good fit."

Aerolineas Sosa building upon Grand Cayman-Honduras route

A Central American airline that established commercial passenger service between Honduras and Grand Cayman last summer has reported steady growth during recent months, including a sizeable jump in holiday traffic.

Bob Connor, a representative in the Cayman Islands for Aerolineas Sosa, said Monday the Honduras-based carrier had to bring in extra flights to support additional holiday travellers and their luggage. A pair of Wednesday flights were added – the first on 21 December, 2011, and the latter today (Wednesday, 4 January, 2012) – to complement the regularly scheduled flights offered by the airline on Fridays and Sundays since August.

Mr. Connor said Aerolineas Sosa, which offers twice-weekly roundtrip passenger service between its hub at Goloson International Airport in La Ceiba, Honduras and Owen Roberts International Airport in Grand Cayman, also had to fly in a cargo plane to help with excess holiday luggage. Aerolineas Sosa operates the route with a 50-seat Bombardier regional jet.

Though the addition of the Wednesday flights was a temporary response to increased holiday traffic and not scheduled for routine service, Mr. Connor said demand for the regular Friday and Sunday flights has grown steadily since August. He said further growth may lead to additional routine service, as is becoming the overwhelming trend for carriers throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

On 19 August, Aerolineas Sosa flew its inaugural flight between La Ceiba and Grand Cayman with fewer than 10 passengers.

“I would say it took a few months to build up to what it is now,” Mr. Connor said. “(Typical flights) now go out with about 30 passengers, maybe more.

“Holiday traffic was very busy with all of the flights fully booked (50 passengers) up through the holidays,” he said. “Flights are full coming back from Honduras until 13 January.”

On Fridays and Sundays, the plane regularly departs La Ceiba at 11am, Cayman time. Return flights are scheduled to leave Grand Cayman at 1pm. The flight takes about one hour. Single passenger roundtrip airfare is US$249.

“I would say the public has responded quite well,” Mr. Connor said. “We received several compliments from people about the low airfares allowing them to travel for the first time in years. (Airline ownership) is very pleased with the way things are going. Right now they have said they plan to stay with the Friday and Sunday flights. It just depends on demand to say whether they will pick up additional flights.”

Prior to August, only Cayman Airways had flown regularly scheduled commercial passenger flights between Honduras and Grand Cayman, offering the large Honduran national population and their relatives in Cayman direct air travel. In 2009, the national flag carrier of the Cayman Islands established service between La Ceiba and Grand Cayman after a string of other airlines failed to maintain reliable service along the route. Cayman Airways offers flights between the destinations on Mondays and Fridays.

In recent years, led by significant growth in Brazil and Panama, the Latin American and Caribbean air transport market has been a bright spot in the aviation world, witnessing the development of a new travelling middle class and vastly improved airline safety records.

Plans to tap the lucrative South American market have long been touted by Cayman government officials and tourism industry leaders, and again was at the heart of a public discussion led last month by government’s acting tourism chief Shomari Scott. Whether that means additional routes by government-owned Cayman Airways or the introduction of other Latin American carriers operating to and from Cayman remains unknown.

But the Latin American market is the only region in the world to generate aggregate profits for three consecutive years, leading airlines to desire a significant footprint in a region featuring robust growth. Strong economic growth, market liberalisation and industry consolidation have helped drive positive results, according to the Centre for Aviation, an aviation industry think tank. Rapid growth is expected to continue throughout the region.

“Economic growth is enabling the rise of a new travelling middle class,” said Airbus’ Rafael Alonso, vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean. “At a time when the global economy is trying to stabilise, Latin America’s GDP is growing faster than the world at an average annual rate of 5 per cent, while the region’s middle class is expected to surge 75 per cent in the next 20 years.”

Airbus and Boeing, the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world, both forecast significant continued growth in airline traffic and airframe demand throughout Latin America in the years to come.

And Cayman isn’t going without experiencing an uptick of its own.

Through October 2011, the most recent period for which figures have been released, air arrivals to the Cayman Islands have increased 14 consecutive months compared with the same time frame the previous year. While the overwhelming majority of passengers continue to arrive from the United States – roughly 80 per cent of all air arrivals – the largest percentage of growth during the past year has been seen in the upsurge in traffic from Canada.

Much of that increase is attributable to the introduction of service by low-cost Canadian carrier WestJet in November 2010, the last airline to bring commercial passenger service to Cayman before Aerolineas Sosa. WestJet flies non-stop three times a week between Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and Grand Cayman.

Overall, the Cayman Islands were on track to welcome more than 300,000 air arrival passengers in 2011. That figure is down from the total during the heyday of 1998 when Cayman welcomed more than 404,000 passengers, but better than the past two years when fewer than 300,000 arrived.

Maintaining the trend of increasing air traffic in the region, including to and from Cayman, will be met with challenges, not the least being continued global economic uncertainty and the necessity for airport facilities upgrades.

Canadian Commercial Corporation, an international firm specialising in primary contracting and procurement services, signed a nonbinding agreement with the Cayman Islands Airports Authority in August to explore the feasibility of potential upgrades at both Owen Roberts International Airport and Gerrard-Smith International Airport in Cayman Brac.

The airports authority has stated it will not discuss the status of findings between it and the Canadian firm before the expiration of the memorandum of understanding between the entities on 1 February, 2012.

“Looking around (Latin America and the Caribbean), it is clear that investment in runways and airport facilities has not kept pace with the region’s impressive traffic growth,” said Tony Tyler, chief executive officer and director general of the International Air Transport Association.

However, “Taking a long-term view of Latin American aviation, one can only be optimistic,” Mr. Tyler said.

Engineered materials arrestor system: San Francisco International Airport runway project is rolling along

The FAA is requiring the installation of spongy material meant to stop runaway planes on runways at SFO.

The planned installation of spongy material at the ends of San Francisco International Airport’s runways — to protect passengers if aircraft overrun the landing strip — is about to enter the design phase.

The airport must install these so-called runway safety areas within three years to comply with Federal Aviation Administration requirements. While the agency requires a 1,000-foot safety area, it has provided an exemption for two of SFO’s four runways, which have no room for them since they are constrained by the Bay and Highway 101.

On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee approved the airport’s request not to put the design project out to bid since there is only one company, New Jersey-based Engineer Arresting Systems, authorized by the FAA to do the work. The installation must be completed by December 2015. The design contract is $420,000.

The federal government will pay for 75 percent of the expected total $200 million project, according to a financial plan adopted in May 2010.

The so-called engineered-material arresting system is described as “crushable concrete placed in beds at the end of runways to stop aircraft overruns. The beds cause the tires of an aircraft to sink into the lightweight concrete and the aircraft decelerates as it rolls through the material.”

The technology has been installed on 58 runway ends in 40 airports in the U.S., with the first system of its kind installed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in 1996. As of October 2011, there were seven incidents where the system stopped overrunning aircraft, according to the FAA.

The full Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on the bid requirement waiver.

Residents near Bowman Field Airport (KLOU) don't want trees removed. Louisville, Kentucky.

Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) - A controversial meeting is underway between residents near Bowman Field and officials with the Louisville Regional Airport Authority.

New FAA safety guidelines could bring down or trim hundreds of trees in two neighborhoods, around Seneca Park and Big Springs Country Club.

WHAS11's Maggie Ruper talked to residents who say they're not happy about the proposal.

Residents voice more frustration over tree-cutting plan at Bowman Field Airport (KLOU) Louisville, Kentucky.

Kylene Lloyd/ The Courier-Journal

At the second meeting in less than three weeks, Louisville residents expressed their frustration over a Regional Airport Authority plan to cut trees on private property and in parks and golf courses near Bowman Field to make take offs and landings safer.

More than 125 people attended a meeting held by the authority Wednesday night at the Breckinridge Inn.

At times, many in the audience could be heard groaning or collectively saying “no” to comments by authority officials or the moderator, Stan Lampe, president of Kentuckians for Better Transportation.

The format prohibited public discussion, requiring instead that participants submit questions in writing. But some objected to not being able to ask follow-up questions or express their opinions and spoke anyway, contributing to tension at the meeting.

Dan Gimbel, a Kinglsey resident, was among those who insisted on talking. He said he was concerned about large trees in his large yard as well as the aesthetics of the whole community near Bowman Field.

Lampe responded: “I guess the question is, ‘Do you want to hold your own meeting?’”

As some people started to groan, he quickly added, “I'm sorry.”

The tree-cutting proposal was announced in early December and presented in a public workshop Dec. 19.

Federal Aviation Administration officials told The Courier-Journal last week that as the airport's approach systems become more modern, based on global-positioning systems, there are new requirements for expanded airspace protections. They said the Louisville airport has a problem meeting those requirements, and that trees obstructing one approach forced the closure last year of one runway on nights when there is poor visibility from inclement weather.

Metro Councilman Tom Owen, who represents the area, has scheduled a third public meeting for Jan. 19. He has promised a moderated but more open meeting format. Owen will be joined by Metro Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh at his meeting, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Douglass Community Center, 2305 Douglass Blvd.

The Dec. 19 meeting featured officials at several stations talking to people in groups about how their neighborhood areas might be affected. Some complained, so airport officials Wednesday night added an auditorium-style presentation, followed by written questions and answers.

About an hour and 15 minutes into the meeting, Lampe sought to break it up and send people to separate rooms to see how their properties might be affected. Small groups formed in nearby rooms to look over maps.

Katy Schneider, who is helping Mayor Greg Fischer form a city tree board to advocate for the Louisville's urban forest, said she doesn't live near the airport, but came to learn more about the issue.

She said she was disturbed by the airport officials focus on individual property owners.

“It will affect the whole community,” she said of the tree cutting. “It will affect Seneca Park. That's what bothers me.”

Authority spokeswoman Trish Burke said after the meeting that her office has emphasized local homeowners because they are the one who are going to be most affected.

Estimates of how many trees would need to be cut vary.

Michael Hayman, the Seneca Gardens arborist, estimates as many as 1,000. Miller earlier told a reporter it could be as many as 200 but that officials won't know until they conduct a survey.

Neighbors sue Ashland Gun Club east of the Ashland Municipal Airport-Sumner Parker Field (S03), Ashland, Oregon

Three neighbors have sued the Ashland Gun Club and the city of Ashland, alleging that lead ammunition is contaminating the environment and stray bullets are striking the property of one of the neighbors.

Dr. Edward Kerwin and Cathy DeForest and her husband, Leon Pyle, filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Medford on Dec. 23.

They are represented by attorney Tom Dimitre, who is also chairman of the Rogue Group Sierra Club.

The gun club has leased city-owned land east of the Ashland Municipal Airport since the 1960s.

DeForest and Pyle own a 5,085-square-foot 2007 home on 13 acres on Emigrant Creek Road southeast of the Ashland Gun Club, according to Jackson County records.

Kerwin built a 19,045-square-foot house on 56 acres on Dead Indian Memorial Road to the north of the gun club in 2004, according to county records.

The gun club's various shooting ranges generally point to the north and northeast. Kerwin alleges that bullets are striking his property.

Pyle said this week that he can't discuss the lawsuit at this point. DeForest and Kerwin were each out of town and unavailable for comment.

City Attorney David Lohman said he cannot discuss the lawsuit in detail.

But he said that city officials worked hard to incorporate environmental safeguards when they renegotiated a lease with the gun club in 2011.

Among other provisions, the lease tasks the gun club with regularly cleaning up lead on the property. It also places the responsibility for final lead clean-up on the gun club, should the site ever cease operations as a shooting range.

The neighbors' lawsuit targets the city, the gun club and seven past and present members of the gun club's board of directors — including city Finance and Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg.

The lawsuit contends that activities at the gun club are violating a number of environmental laws, including federal laws to protect water and endangered species.

The lawsuit states that the defendants are polluting nearby Emigrant Creek and its connected wetlands, which threatens coho salmon habitat. They are also contaminating the ground, the lawsuit says. The lawsuit states that the city has added to problems on the land by dumping street sweeper debris near Emigrant Creek.

The neighbors are asking a judge to block activities at the gun club that violate environmental laws, to require the defendants to pay for soil and water sampling arranged by the plaintiffs and to pay for any needed environmental restoration.

The neighbors also want the defendants to pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines for every day they allegedly violated the Clean Water Act — dating back for decades.

They also want payments for attorney's fees, costs, mental anguish and other damages.

— Vickie Aldous

69 years after hero American war pilot died, family find his lost plane 13,000ft up a Himalayan mountain

Wreckage: The C-47 was discovered over 13,000ft up a mountain in the Chinese province of Yunnan

Transport plane: The C-47 was used to fly in supplies to China as they fought the Japanese occupation forces

It took 69 years, but at last a family has ended its grieving for a dead American airman after the discovery of a plane lost over China during World War II.

The wreckage of the C-47 transport aircraft was found 13,400ft up a Himalayan mountain - the final resting place of co-pilot Jimmy Browne.

For decades, his family had wondered about his fate and whether the plane might ever be found.

Browne was just twenty-one when the C-47 was shot down or crashed on a flight between Kunming in China and Dinjan, India, on November 17, 1942.

Now thanks to the persistence of Browne's cousin Bob Willett, a retired banker, the search for answers is over.

Mr Willett, from Merritt island, Brevard County, Florida, said: 'It could be said that these efforts were like tilting at the windmill.

'But to those involved, it is very personal and emotional.'

Browne was with pilot John J. Dean and Chinese radioman K.L. Yang on a mission for the China National Aviation Corp (CNA). during the Japanese occupation of China.

They were flying over the intimidating Himalayan mountain range known as 'The Hump' which was the only way of getting supplies to keep China fighting a million Japanese occupying forces.

Flight 60 left Kunming where it had dropped off a load of gasoline and ammunition, and was heading back to Dinjan when it disappeared.

They were first American CNA casualties. Browne, from Winnetka, Illinois, was not forgotten, but his family could not afford to mount an expedition to find out what happened to him.

It wasn’t until Mr Willett met Arizona businessman and adventurer Clayton Kuhles that the hunt became a reality.

Mr Kuhles had brought closure to other families through his self-financed searches for American pilots lost and unaccounted for during World War II in China, Burma and India.

He led the team which found and identified the wreckage in China’s Yunnan province. It was one of only a few CNA aircraft losses that had never been recovered.

The book Aluminum Trail lists official reports of all aircraft lost flying 'The Hump' at over 700.

The number of aircrews killed is well over 3,000 - many still unrecovered in the vast and rugged Himalayas.

While the U.S. Government has established agencies to deal with the airmen still missing, most of the aircraft found in recent years have been the result of private expeditions or accidentally discovered.

Read more and photos:

Grounded for life: One year after crash, JS Air finally closes its doors. (Pakistan)

A fatal accident and declining oil exploration activity mark the demise of the charter air service.

KARACHI:  A year after a deadly accident killed 21 people, JS Air – reputed to be have been one of the leading chartered air service providers in the country – has decided to shut down its operations after several of its customers were scared away towards its competitors, senior company officials told The Express Tribune.

“We were not making any money so there was no option but to cease the operations a couple of weeks back,” said Munawar Alam Siddiqui, chairman of JS Air. “All our clients switched to other service providers.”

JS Air’s downfall started when one of its Beechcraft 1900C-1 crashed minutes after take-off from Karachi airport on November 5, 2010, killing all 21 people on board. The victims included 15 engineers from the Italian energy firm ENI who were going to Bhit gas field in Dadu.

Siddiqui said that the company kept paying all of its employees, including its pilots, for a year but finally decided to pull the plug when it became clear that demand for JS Air’s services would not revive. “We invested $7 million to start JS Air and could not even recover that capital investment.”

The airline was started in 2005 with three leased aircraft and quickly built up its market share.

Another reason for the airline’s demise was the declining number of petroleum geologists travelling to remote oil and gas fields. Energy sector companies formed the bulk of JS Air’s clientele, which included such names as Pakistan Petroleum (the second largest company in the country), Australian mining giant BHP Billiton, Dutch petroleum services giant Schlumberger, and European oil firms ENI and OMV.

Industry experts say that all charter services are dependent on the oil and gas companies, which have now rolled back their exploration and drilling operations in recent years due to security concerns.

The Civil Aviation Authority has at least 20 charter companies registered, with a total of 85 aircraft. Yet most industry experts say that most of these companies exist only on paper. Apart from JS Air, the two other major companies in Pakistan are Schon Air and Aircraft Sales and Services.

Bad luck seems to have played its part in JS Air’s demise as well, said Siddiqui, a licensed pilot who has pictures of vintage aircraft and their models all over in his office.

In 2007, it successfully earned rights to start a domestic air service in Sri Lanka. “That was a very good deal for us. We were ferrying passengers and cargo. But then the war against the Tamil Tigers ended, the roads opened up and there was no need for our aircraft.”

JS Air is owned by Jahangir Siddiqui and Company, the holding company of the JS Group, which is also a shareholder in the passenger airline Airblue. “So there was no incentive for us to go into regular air transport business,” said Siddiqui.

The CAA’s attempts to introduce a liberal aviation policy for promoting charter air services have so far met with failure. A few years ago, former CAA Director General Farooq Rehmatullah envisaged letting investors build private airstrips in small cities and towns.

Aviation industry officials insist that appetite for air travel has to be created as rural income has improved on the back of higher wheat, rice and sugar prices. “But still, these wealthy landlords travel by road in Pajeros and Land Cruisers from their villages to cities,” said a senior CAA official.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2012.

Members fret over Baltimore County plans to close Essex Skypark Airport (W48), Baltimore, Maryland. County wants to reforest area in 5 years; aviation enthusiasts fight plan

Max Lichty of Middle River opens the door of his 1946 Aeronca 7 AC airplane, which he keeps at Essex Skypark.   (Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun / December 28, 2011)

  ( Patrick Maynard, Tribune / January 4, 2012 )

By Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun

7:17 p.m. EST, January 4, 2012

Tom Katzenberger calls the Essex Skypark "a blue-collar airport" — a place where the pilots have dirt under their fingernails.

"All of us change our own oil," said Katzenberger, who owns a small concrete construction company and flies a 1996 Maule, a four-seat airplane. "All of us fix our own flats."

Katzenberger and other members of the Essex Skypark Association recently learned the waterfront airport could be lost, and with it an aviation tradition that they say they couldn't afford to continue elsewhere. Members have no plans to leave — and they're gearing up for a fight.

Baltimore County officials have developed a plan to clear the site's 2,000-foot runway and its hand-built hangars, planting the area with oak and maple trees to improve water quality, protect native species and replace forests destroyed by development elsewhere in the county.

The local government has owned the property since 2000, when it spent $2.1 million to buy more than 500 acres on the Back River Neck Peninsula from the Shapiro family through the Maryland Environmental Trust. Since then, the airport has leased land from the county just as it did from the previous owners.

"[The airport] is a 40-acre doughnut hole in the middle of a 500-acre forest," said Vince Gardina, director of the county's environmental department.

County officials say they never agreed to let the skypark association stay permanently, and that they expected the group to eventually leave the site after the county bought it.

The group now has five years to move or close the skypark.

"The airport's woven into the fabric of the community," Katzenberger said. "I don't think the county is aware of how passionate we are."

He said nearby Martin State Airport, which provides an array of services to pilots – including a lounge with recliners and a big-screen TV, and rides to local hotels and restaurants -- is geared toward people with more money.

Martin State is far larger, with a 7,000-foot runway and about 270 aircraft, including corporate jets and military aircraft, spokesman Jonathan Dean said. A T-hangar costs $195 a month to rent, compared to $95 at the Essex Skypark. Pilots can't perform major maintenance work on their planes at Martin State.

The atmosphere at Essex, which has 46 aircraft, is "much more laid back," said skypark association president Ron Lane. Pilots enjoy fixing their own planes. They gather for coffee in a cottage-like building where model airplanes dangle from the ceiling.

Association senior trustee Max Lichty learned to fly at the Essex airport in 1959. The 74-year-old retired Bethlehem Steel machinist is still at it today, piloting a 1946 refurbished Aeronca that took him more than two years to build.

"On a fixed income, this is one of the few airports that I can afford," Lichty said.

The airport, which opened in 1942, goes hand in hand with the area's aviation history, the skypark group contends. During World War II, the Glenn L. Martin Co.'s plant, where workers built the China Clipper and B-26 bombers among other aircraft, spurred rapid population growth in Middle River and Essex.

Aviation buffs have feared that the county would want the skypark property before, but this is the first time officials have spelled out a specific plan for the land, Katzenberger said.

Last year, the association failed to give 120 days notice that it wanted to renew its five-year lease, in what members say was a clerical error.

Then, in a letter sent to association members in November, a county attorney said the county would put them on a month-to-month lease and would not renew the association's five-year lease until the members turned over a relocation plan.

"The County purchased the property in order to permanently protect the exemplary forest, wetlands and buffers that are present," the letter states. "We now wish to enhance these natural resources, and significantly improve water quality in the adjoining Back River, by converting the area occupied by the skypark to a forested state."

The skypark group regularly talks with county officials about issues such as a project to stop erosion along the shoreline, and the county had not indicated its plans before sending the letter, association members said.

Long ago, the paved runway and grassy field were farmland. An aviation enthusiast named William Diffendahl bought property in the late 1930s and early 1940s, Lane said.

Today, the area is important to the county's forest management plan, Gardina said. Planting trees would protect birds and other wildlife.

The county also could generate revenue by charging developers who clear forests elsewhere to plant at the peninsula site in what's known as a "forest mitigation bank," Gardina said.

And removing impervious surfaces and reforesting the area also would help the county meet some of its obligations under requirements that Maryland and other states cut pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, he said.

Environmental protection was the reason the county bought the land, Gardina said.

"The airport happened to be there, and at the time, they made a decision to allow them to continue," Gardina said. "And at this point, we're trying to deal with multiple environmental issues, including the Chesapeake Bay watershed issues, as well as the fragmented forest."

The skypark group says it has taken care of the land and that the surrounding neighborhoods have embraced the site. Local kids learn to fly there. Families gather for an annual fly-in called Wings and Wheels every September. Boy Scouts camp there, and volunteer firefighters have used the site for training.

Carl Maynard, president of the Back River Neck Peninsula Community Association, said neighbors support the skypark, as long as the group takes care of the land and doesn't expand.

"The skypark itself lends that atmosphere of the old, country-type feeling down here," Maynard said.

Association members believe the easement indicates that the family that sold the land to the county wanted the airport to stay. The document exempts the airport from a prohibition against commercial activities on the property.

County officials say they have no legal obligation to keep the skypark open. Don Mohler, chief of staff to County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, said the group let its lease lapse, adding that the officials believe they are giving members plenty of time to move.

"Five years by anybody's standards I think would be a very fair time frame to find an alternate location," Mohler said.

Katzenberger called the idea of finding another location for the skypark "ridiculous."

"If you told any community, 'We're going to put an airport in,' they would probably be up in arms," he said. "I don't think we could find land, and I don't think Baltimore County would give us the zoning."

Crisis averted at airport

EMERGENCY services rushed to the Port Macquarie airport this morning following reports of an attempted emergency landing.

A dual marine/tarmac plane was forced down on the main runway due to low fuel.

Complications arose from one of the plane's landing gears failing to engage.

The two pilots on board managed to land the stricken plane safely with minimal damage to the plane and just a minor hydrolic oil spill on the runway.

Cessna 150M, N8855U

Nathan Papes/News-Leader

An instructor and student pilot were not injured this afternoon when a single-engine Cessna aircraft was forced to land in a field just south of Interstate 44.

Near the 95-mile marker, the airplane landed without damage about 2 p.m.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper Rob Savage said the student was controlling the plane when the engine quit for an unknown reason.

The instructor then took over the controls and landed the plane safely in the pasture.

Both the student and instructor declined to comment at the scene.

(Northview, MO) -- A flight instructor's quick thinking is to thank for a smooth emergency landing in a Webster County field Wednesday afternoon.

A flight instructor and a student were flying a Cessna when the engine stopped working. The flight instructor managed to land safely in this field near Northview. It's just 300 yards south of I-44 near mile marker 94.6.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says the pair is lucky they landed without any problems.

"They were fortunate there was a good open field that was flat and fairly level and then they made the best of it with wind conditions especially," says Cpl. Rob Savage.

There's still no word on why the engine stopped working during the flight.

STRAFFORD, Mo. -- A student pilot got a memorable lesson in making emergency landings on Wednesday afternoon. He and his flight instructor had to set down a small Cessna in a pasture east of Strafford.

The two told a state trooper that the engine quit despite a full load of fuel. There was no damage to the plane.

The manager of the private Springfield Downtown Airport wasn’t sure whether the plane could be flown home or would need to be hauled back on a truck.

Tom Martino sued over experimental plane crash

By David Migoya
The Denver Post

A New Mexico man who blames consumer advocate Tom Martino for a crash that demolished an experimental airplane the radio personality once owned now wants him to pay for the ensuing pile of bills.

A week before Christmas, James Cooper filed a $152,000 claim in Martino's bankruptcy case in Denver saying the August 2011 crash of a gyroplane was the result of modifications Martino made to the craft when he owned it a year earlier.

In addition to the purchase price, Cooper wants Martino to pay every dime it's cost him to own the plane — including the meals, lodging and fuel he bought learning how to fly it in Las Vegas earlier last year, court records show.

Cooper, an Albuquerque resident, claims Martino was involved when he bought the airplane, but that Martino never told him about the modifications he'd done on it.

Not true, Martino says, adding Cooper is simply an unskilled pilot who crashed a plane and is now "lining up" to collect from the wealthy radio and television personality.

Cooper purchased the 2008 Celier Xenon RST aircraft in January 2011 for $90,000 from Golden-based New Course Aviation, which had gotten it in a trade with Martino months earlier.

The plan crashed in a field on Aug. 27, 2011, in an unspecified location. Cooper was uninjured and no investigation of the crash ensued, papers in the bankruptcy case show.

Cooper, who did not return calls for comment, claims in court papers that the crash was the result of engine failure from "fuel vapor lock" caused by modifications Martino had made to the craft's fuel and exhaust systems.

Martino said Cooper had engine problems with the aircraft several times before the crash, and had fueled the plane with automobile gasoline containing ethanol, a practice prohibited by the manufacturer.

"He heard I have a bankruptcy and that I have millions of dollars so he's lining up," Martino said. "He's a student with no skill and crashed an airplane. He's an idiot."

Too, Martino said he disclosed all his modifications in writing and certified inspectors had approved of the work before Cooper bought the plane. None of those modifications, however, were what Cooper asserts.

Cooper said he's got an offer to sell the airplane for scrap and parts. Martino's lawyers say Cooper's wants to "simply get rid of the evidence to prevent all parties from being able to properly investigate the cause of the crash."

It never rains, but pours for Air Zimbabwe

Air Zimbabwe is now grounded after its only plane, a Boeing 737, servicing domestic and some regional routes developed a technical glitch on one of its engines on Monday.

Passengers flying from Harare to Bulawayo and Victoria Falls yesterday failed to travel after their flight was cancelled.

Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive officer Innocent Mavhunga could not be reached for comment as he was said to be in a meeting while board chairperson Jonathan Kadzura said:

“I cannot comment on the matter because I am in Mutare right now. I will only be in a position to do so on my return.”

But, an official at the Customer Services Desk yesterday confirmed the Harare-Bulawayo flight had been cancelled.

“There was no flight today because the plane broke down. Maybe tomorrow there will be a flight if they have successfully fixed the plane,” she said.

Insiders said Air Zimbabwe could no longer use its other aircraft, the Boeing 767-200ER, for local flights as it was too expensive to ply the domestic routes.

The Air Zimbabwe sources said the engine developed a fault, but could not be fixed because most of the workers were not reporting for duty.

The bulk of the national carrier employees have not been reporting for duty in protest over non-payment of salaries for nearly six months.

“We have gone for around six months without salaries. How do you expect us to be reporting for duty when we can’t even fend for our families?”

said an employee who requested anonymity.
The workers last month detained the airline’s bosses demanding payment.

The airline owes workers more than $5,6 million in outstanding salaries.

Last month, a United States firm American General Supplies, which supplies the national airline with spares, attached the 767-200ER at Gatwick Airport over a $1,5 million debt.

To compound the airline’s woes, the Boeing 767-200 went on to develop a fault in London and had to be repaired first before flying back home after the debt had been settled.

Transport minister Nicholas Goche has reportedly ordered Air Zimbabwe to suspend all its regional and international flights for fear the national carrier could have its remaining aircrafts attached by debtors.

Cessna 172P Skyhawk, Civil Air Patrol Inc., N54872: Accident occurred January 03, 2012 in Conroe, Texas
NTSB Identification: CEN12TA122
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Tuesday, January 03, 2012 in Conroe, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/20/2012
Aircraft: CESSNA 172P, registration: N54872
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

The airplane was at 1,600 feet mean sea level with the engine power set at 2,300 rpm. When the airplane was about 6 miles from the airport, the pilot heard a loud “boom” and the engine lost all power. The pilot did not have sufficient altitude to glide to the airport, so he landed the airplane on a street. When the airplane was on final approach to land, it collided with power lines. The pilot was able to land the airplane, but was forced to swerve to the right to avoid oncoming traffic. The right wing struck a utility pole, which resulted in substantial damage.

A postaccident engine examination revealed that when the crankshaft was turned, there was no movement of the intake or exhaust valves or magneto gears. The rear crank gear bolt was loose and the gear dowel pin was sheared, which would cause the camshaft and rear accessory gears to stop turning. Metallurgical examination revealed beach markings at the aft end of the crankshaft approximately in plane with the aft face of the crankshaft where it mated to the crankshaft gear. There was fretting damage on the crankshaft gear, wear on the dowel pins, and wear on the lock washer, indicative of movement as a result of insufficient clamping force from the attachment bolt at the time of installation. The engine had accrued 752 hours since it was overhauled in August 2007.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
Failure of the rear crankshaft gear dowel pin due to improper installation, which resulted in a total loss of engine power.

On January 3, 2012, about 2145 central standards time, the pilot of a Cessna 172P, N54872, made a forced landing on a street in Conroe, Texas, after the engine lost power. The pilot, the sole occupant on board, was not injured. The public use airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), Maxwell AFB, Alabama, as CAP flight 4272. Dark night visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed at the time of the accident, and a company flight plan had been filed. The flight originated from the West Houston Airport (KIWS), Houston, Texas, approximately 2120, and was en route to Lone Star Executive Airport (KCXO), Conroe, Texas.

According to the pilot’s statement, engine power was set at 2300 rpm (revolutions per minute) and the airplane was at 1,600 feet msl (mean sea level). When the airplane was about 6 miles from the destination airport, the pilot heard a loud “boom” and the engine lost all power. The pilot did not have sufficient altitude to glide to the airport and landed on Highway 105 and North 6th Street in Conroe, Texas. When the airplane was on final approach, it collided with power lines. The pilot was able to land the airplane, but was forced to swerve to the right to avoid oncoming traffic. The airplane struck a curb and spun around. The right wing struck a utility pole, resulting in substantial damage.

On January 24, the engine was disassembled and examined under the direction of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector at the facilities of Fritz Aviation in Fredericksburg, Texas. CAP records indicate the engine had accrued 752 hours since it was overhauled in August 2007. When the crankshaft was turned, no movement of the intake or exhaust valves or magneto gears was observed. Upon removal of the rear accessory case, it was discovered that the rear crank gear bolt was loose and the gear dowel pin (part number STD 1065) was sheared. According to the FAA inspector, there was a line on the dowel pin, similar to a pre-existing crack. According to the attending mechanic’s report, the sheared dowel pin would cause the camshaft and rear accessory gears to stop turning.

The crankshaft gear, attachment bolt, and crankshaft dowel pin were submitted to the National Transportation Safety Board’s Materials Laboratory for examination. According their report, the dowel pin was fractured from the aft end of the crankshaft approximately in plane with the aft face of the crankshaft where it mated to the crankshaft gear. Magnified optical examination of the dowel pin fracture revealed a relatively flat transverse fracture with beach markings indicative of fatigue progression initiating at two locations on opposing sides on the outer diameter of the dowel pin. The fatigue region emanating from the origin area (primary origin area) was substantially larger than that emanating from the upper side. The cylinder faces of the dowel pin appeared relatively smooth and reflective consistent with wear of the original surfaces. The wear was present around most of the dowel pin periphery. The dowel pin’s diameter was reduced an estimated 0.005 inch by wear adjacent to the fatigue origin leaving a visible step. The crankshaft gear exhibited fretting damage on the forward face consistent with relative motion at the gear-to-crankshaft interface. The lock washer on the aft side of the crankshaft gear showed wear damage corresponding to contact with the underside of the attachment bolt head.

CONROE, TX (KTRK) -- A plane made an emergency landing in the streets of downtown Conroe, according to the Conroe Police Department.

The incident happened at around 9:50pm Tuesday at 6th Street at Davis.

The pilot has less 100 hours of flying time and has only had her pilot license for about three months when she came face to face with an emergency no pilot ever wants to see.

Officials say 22-year-old Sarah Chantal Rovner took off last night from West Houston Airport on assignment with the Civil Air Patrol. About six miles out her plane lost power.

At first Rovner hoped to glide back to the airport, but the plane was not going to make it. So Rovner decided to land on East Davis Street in Conroe. Once she touched down Rovner's plane hit a small power line, then after turning onto 6th Street the plane knocked down a sign. The wing was sheared off after she moved out of the way of an oncoming car.

"The one thing that I would say is that I'm looking forward to flying with her," said Lt. Col. Bob Beeley with the Civil Air Patrol. "She is an excellent pilot. She did a good job. She did what she was trained to do."

The plane belongs to the Air Force and will be turned over to the insurance company. Investigators still don't know why her engine lost power.

Officials at the scene of an emergency landing Tuesday night say the pilot is lucky to be alive. Sarah Chantal Rovner, 22, of Houston made an emergency landing on Davis Street in Conroe when the single-engine Civil Air Patrol aircraft she was piloting developed mechanical problems.

The plane went down around 9:30 p.m.

Rovner brought the plane down near the intersection of Davis and Sixth Street, clipping a power line. There were no injuries related to the emergency landing and minor damage to the aircraft, although emergency response teams were called to address fuel leaking from the aircraft.  The FAA Registry database listed Civil Air Patrol Inc. as the registered owner of the plane.

Piper PA-28-160 Cherokee B, N223BT LLC, N5768W: Accident occurred January 03, 2012 in San Angelo, Texas
NTSB Identification: CEN12LA124 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, January 03, 2012 in San Angelo, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/20/2012
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-160, registration: N5768W
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

While on the downwind leg of the landing pattern, the flight instructor asked the student to switch fuel tanks in order to balance the remaining fuel. Shortly thereafter, the student added power to adjust his approach path to the runway but the engine did not respond. The student switched back to the previous fuel tank; however, engine power was not restored. The airplane was substantially damaged during the forced landing. The flight instructor stated that, during the previous flight, the student had mentioned that the fuel selector valve did not have a noticeable detent position and asked if it was normal for the selector to rotate 360 degrees. The flight instructor was not familiar with the accident airplane and its various nuances and had not flown it before the day of the accident. A postaccident examination of the engine, fuel selector valve, and fuel systems revealed no anomalies. A representative of the airplane’s manufacturer indicated that the fuel selector valve was an older type that allows the valve to rotate without restriction; newer valve designs restrict travel so that the “off” position cannot be selected without depressing a stop. The airplane was not operating in weather conditions favorable for the formation of carburetor icing at the time of accident. The reason for the loss of engine power could not be determined.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
A loss of engine power for undetermined reasons.

On January 3, 2012, approximately 1730 central standard time, a Piper PA-28-160 airplane, N5768W, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near San Angelo, Texas. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The instructional flight was being conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. The certified flight instructor and student pilot were not injured. The local flight departed the San Angelo Regional Airport (KSJT), San Angelo, Texas, approximately 1705.

The flight instructor reported that they were performing touch-and-go landings in the traffic pattern. While on the downwind leg, the flight instructor asked the student to switch fuel tanks in order to balance the remaining fuel. Shortly thereafter, the student added power to adjust his approach path to the runway and the engine did not respond. The student switched back to the previous tank; however, engine power was not restored. During the forced landing, the right wing struck a tree and separated from the airplane.

The flight instructor stated that during the previous flight, the student had mentioned that the fuel selector valve did not have a noticeable detent position and asked if it was normal for the selector to rotate 360 degrees. The flight instructor was not familiar with the accident airplane and had not flown it prior to the day of the accident. He stated that he was not familiar with the various nuances of the accident airplane.

An on scene examination of the engine, conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), revealed no anomalies. On February 29, 2012, the fuel selector valve and fuel assembly were examined by investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board and Piper Aircraft. The examination revealed that the fuel selector valve was firm to rotate with notable detents at the prescribed positions. The fuel lines, filters, and fuel pump were free of blockage. The reason for the loss of engine power was not determined.

The temperature and dew point at the time of the accident were 15 degrees and minus 7 degrees Celsius respectively. A review of the carburetor icing probability chart, located in the FAA's Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin CE-09-35, dated 6/30/2009, revealed that the airplane was not operating in an area favorable for the formation of carburetor icing.

Photo by Patrick Dove

Patrick Dove/Standard-Times
A Piper Cherokee B aircraft is wedged against a log cabin after crash landing at the KOA Campgrounds near Lake Nasworthy in San Angelo. The pilot of the four-seat, single-engine airplane was lining up for a touch-and-go at San Angelo Regional Airport when the aircraft lost power and crashed, said an official with the Department of Public Safety. The pilot and passenger were uninjured.

SAN ANGELO, Texas — A single-engine airplane crashed Tuesday afternoon at the KOA Campgrounds near Lake Nasworthy a few miles east of Mathis Field, San Angelo's main air terminal.

The Piper Cherokee four-seater, low-wing plane, occupied by a student pilot and an instructor, was headed to Mathis Field and lost power while switching fuel tanks, State Trooper William Dykstra said.

Neither man in the plane was injured, Dykstra said, and both were checked by EMS personnel at the crash site, where firefighters, state troopers, county deputies and city police responded.

San Angelo Regional Airport Director Luis Elguezabal said he could release only limited information because the crash occurred off airport grounds.

He said the plane was doing touch-and-go maneuvers when the airport tower lost sight of it.

"I was contacted by the (Police Department) and came to assist," Elguezabal said.

He said information on the crash has been passed on to the Federal Aviation Administration for a formal investigation.

The plane struck a mesquite tree as it landed, shearing off one of its wings, and came to rest lodged against a log cabin. No one on the ground was injured, Dykstra said.

The student pilot is from San Angelo, and the instructor is from Winters, Dykstra said.

Their names were not released at the scene.


A Piper Cherokee single-engine airplane crashed Tuesday afternoon at the KOA site near Lake Nasworthy a few miles east of Mathis Field, the main air terminal for San Angelo.

Firefighters, state troopers, county deputies and city police could be seen at the crash site.

FAA records show the plane is registered to a San Angelo owner.

The four-seater, low-wing plane, occupied by a student pilot and an instructor, was headed toward Mathis Field and lost power while switching fuel tanks, Texas state trooper William Dykstra said. Neither of the men in the plane was injured in the crash, Dykstra said, and both were checked by EMS personnel at the crash site. No one on the ground was injured, he said.

The plane struck a mesquite tree as it landed, shearing off one of the wings, and came to rest lodged against a log cabin. No one on the ground was injured, Dykstra said.

The student pilot was from San Angelo and the instructor was from Winters, Dykstra said.

Their names were not released at the scene.

  Regis#: 5768W        Make/Model: PA28      Description: PA-28 CHEROKEE, ARROW, WARRIOR, ACHER, D
  Date: 01/03/2012     Time: 0000

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Substantial

  City: SAN ANGELO   State: TX   Country: US


INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Pass:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    

  Activity: Training      Phase: Cruise      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: SAN ANTONIO, TX  (SW17)               Entry date: 01/04/2012