Monday, January 23, 2012

Roatan Floatplane Rescue and NBC Interview

Floatplane crash in Roatan - Atkins family.   Larry Forseth from beach retreat talks about the events that lead to the rescue of the Atkins family.




Floatplane crash in Roatan - Atkins family.   Larry Forseth from beach retreat talks about the events that lead to the rescue of the Atkins family.

Bird strikes at Northern California airports spike in January

Pilots report the number of bird strikes at three of Northern California's busiest airports appear to spike in January.

The latest statistics show SFO had 71 bird strikes in January of last year, San Jose had 72 and Sacramento had 34. Those numbers plummeted in February with just three bird strikes at SFO, three in San Jose and four in Sacramento.

Biologists point out Sacramento's airport sits in the middle of a major, wintertime flyway for migratory birds.

Northern California's latest bird strike took place on Saturday when a United Airlines flight bound for Houston returned to Sacramento airport after hitting a bird. The bird damaged one of the jet's two engines.


AirTran to stop flying to and from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Air travelers thinking about flying from Harrisburg International Airport to Orlando, Florida, may want to start planning their trip now.

AirTran Airways will cease operations at the Harrisburg-area airport come Aug. 12, Southwest Airlines, the parent company of AirTran, announced recently.

"The airline industry continues to face many challenges, including significantly higher fuel costs," said Bob Jordan, Southwest Airlines executive vice president and CEO and AirTran president in a news release. "We must do everything we can to operate efficiently and profitably, align service with customer demand, and deliver the legendary customer service for which both airlines are known."

AirTran offers one daily nonstop flight out of Harrisburg. The destination for that flight is Orlando.

Harrisburg isn't the only airport losing AirTran services. The company will also put a halt to its flights to and from Allentown; Lexington, Ky.; Sarasota, Fla.; Huntsville, Ala.; and White Plains, N.Y., come August.

Air travelers with flight reservations, or passengers that plan to make reservations, to or from those airports don't need to alter plans for flights prior to Aug. 12.

Gulfstream jets not just for business

A specially outfitted Gulfstream GIII jet has recently returned to NASA’s Dryden Air Base in Palmdale, Calif., after spending a week in Hawaii, collecting data over the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island.

The plane, which is owned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, features a radar pod mounted on its underbelly that sends pulses of microwave energy from a sensor on the aircraft to the ground, detecting and measuring very subtle deformations in the Earth’s surface.

The radar collects volcanic data from an altitude of about 41,000 feet. This year’s flyover is the third such in the last two years, the first in January 2010 and the second in May 2011. Those two sets of data successfully imaged the surface deformation caused by the March 2011 fissure eruption in Kilauea.

Flights earlier this month traced the same path as part of future studies of the volcano’s changing deformation patterns.

Airport expansion information on county website. Carroll County Regional Airport/Jack B Poage Field (KDMW), Westminster, Maryland.

Information on the proposed Carroll County Regional Airport in Westminster is now available on the county government's website.

The proposed project calls for expanding the runway 1,300 feet so that it totals 6,400 feet in length. If the board decides to move forward with the project, the county must fund approximately $1.85 million of the $74 million expansion project. The board is scheduled to vote on the proposal Thursday.

The website includes information gathered by commissioners, questions and answers from David Jones, of Delta Airport Consultants, and Carroll County Regional Airport Manager Joe McKelvey, as well as information from county staff.

The information is available at

Anyone who would like to comment on the proposal is urged to contact the commissioners by email at or by phone 410-386-2043.

Blackpool Flight Academy: Come fly with us ...

Anthony Savage, the new Managing Director of Flight Academy flying school based at Blackpool Airport. Anthony in his company's hangar. 

Tony Savage set out to buy a yacht. He ended up buying a flying school.

It’s a bit of a leap – particularly for an ex-Royal Navy man – and Tony blames “the missus.”

Tony says he didn’t stand a chance of convincing his wife Trisha Maher to join him for a life on the ocean wave.

“She didn’t want to be parted from her family for too long,” he says.

No wife, no yacht, but Tony got hooked into something very different by one of those targeted “if you’re interested in yachts you may be interested in this” advertising links on the website concerned.

The link led to Blackpool Flight Academy. The price was considerably steeper than the yacht but Tony saw the potential – and the only way was up.

“I’ve never been the type to sit still for long and I really fancied seeing the world – this seemed the next best thing,” he admits. He wanted a change from website design so set off for a bit of groundwork alone – not even mentioning it to his other half.

It was only when he sat in a state of the art Cirrus SR20 – the top of the range Bentley of the private aeroplane world – he abandoned his water wings and set his sights higher.

“I went overboard for aeroplanes,” admits the new managing director of Blackpool Flight Academy who, for the record, cannot fly. He’s having lessons himself when time permits, joining the scores of other would be pilots there for pleasure, private, commercial or even aerobatic flights.

He broached it cautiously with Trisha. “What if...?”

“No” came the answer. Unequivocally.

Undeterred he let it rest for a week. Then he took her out for a surprise drive. “We often do that kind of thing so she didn’t suspect a thing,” he admits.

The mystery trip ended at Blackpool Airport. “Ooh, are we going away on a surprise holiday?” asked his wife.

“I told her I had something much better in mind.”

They pulled up outside the imposing hangar which houses the impressive flight academy fleet of nimble little Aquila, Cirrus, Piper, Garmi, Cessna and Slingsby aeroplanes – the Slingsby being a nippy little aerobatic two-seater piloted by a cheery chap who regularly takes it out for a spin...literally.

“You’ve not lived until you’ve dropped like a stone from 3-4000ft,” says Tony. “It’s a rite of passage.”

The penny dropped pretty quickly for Trisha. “Unlike many other women when Trisha goes quiet it usually means she’s interested,” says Tony. “We walked around the academy and she was quiet but asked some questions – the right sort of questions. And then she said, if you can make this work, let’s do it.”

Their two-year-old daughter Tia is just as enamoured of aviation. “She can’t wait for the chance to fly one herself,” Tony admits.

He admits he got a bit of a sinking feeling when head engineer Tim Skinner said: “if you want to get into aeroplanes dig a big hole, pour your money in it, and then forget it.” But Tim, 42, who works for Silverstar Engineering maintaining and servicing aircraft for the academy and other private and commercial pilots across Europe, says his dad, also in aero-engineering, said much the same of his and his son’s profession. “I was 12 when I started helping him.”

Academy trade is picking up nicely thanks to voucher sales, trial flights, lessons, allied courses, use of the facility by the air ambulance, and even the cafe underpinning the flying club-like ethos but open to all.

Tony says the voucher sales pay the bills. “We’re also the only flying school, I understand, which uses Aquila as learning aircraft.”

If the Cirrus SR20 is the gas guzzling Bentley of flight school the Aquila is the 60mpg bubble car – a nimble two seater with glass cockpit which, as fitter Alex Cross, 20, who works for Silverstar, says: “Means you can see from any angle, even upside down, not that I want anyone to fly that way.” He loves the Cirrus which has an emergency parachute system within the airframe. “Mechanics like to stay on the ground but if I flew anything it would be the Cirrus because it minimises risk of lethal crash and has the best of everything.” His dream is to work on a Spitfire or Lancaster – as head engineer Tim has.

The academy, which counts Craig Allardyce (football legend Sam’s son) among pilots, offers trial lessons, solo flights, private and commercial licences, and even instrument ratings via a Cessna simulator rated an aircraft proper by the Civil Aviation Authority which helps clock up the flying hours without breaking the bank.

Jack Porter, 74, who developed a taste for adventure in the Merchant Navy, has 20 hours under his belt since being treated to a trial lesson. “I could play golf but this is more of a challenge,” says Jack. “I want to keep my brain going. My instructor Dennis Barrow doesn’t flap, he says the only difference is younger people react faster, I tend to think through consequences of actions. I love it. I enjoy navigation rather than circuits, take offs and landings, particularly in the Aquila in crosswinds! You can be over Arnside or Sedbergh in no time, the Acquila can shift, 105 knots – around 115mph. My youngest son, an engineer, gave me the kick up the backside I needed to do this. Do it, dad, he said, if you don’t do it now you never will.”

Blackpool Flight Academy is based in Hangar Eight, call (01253) 349072, for more information visit

Airblue crash inquiry


The Peshawar High Court has expressed dissatisfaction over the standard of the inquiry into the Airblue crash (Jan 20). The news item shows equally inept arrangements for paying compensation to the families of the victims.

Both the ministry of defence and CAA must accept responsibility for the shoddy inquiry and Airblue for the delay in payment of compensation.

This was not a case of small aircraft accident. It was the worst disaster occurring in Pakistan which took away 152 valuable lives. It remained in the headlines for a long time and was also discussed in these columns.

It seems that the federal government was quite happy about the investigation ordered by the DG CAA by his own staff. The gravity of the situation demanded that the federal government should have intervened and itself ordered a board of inquiry under rule 282 etc of the Civil Aviation Rules, 1994. After all, these rules are meant to be used.

The chairman and members of the board should have been composed of specialists of high calibre having legal knowledge and experience in aeronautical engineering or other specialist knowledge as provided in the rules.

This ought to have evoked confidence in the conduct and outcome of the inquiry which is now lacking. This would have also obviated the need for a fresh inquiry ordered by the high court which appears rather late in the day.

As regards the delay in payment of compensation to more than half of the families of the victims and many court cases filed by the anxious families of the victims, blame must be shared by Airblue, despite the high amount of compensation stated to have been given to some.

I feel it was the duty of the airline to inform the families through prominent newspaper advertisements and other means that they have to have the necessary succession certificates to claim the compensation. Had this been done, there would been fewer problems and minimum litigation.


Feds OK Rockford airport's charters to London, Hawaii

ROCKFORD — Weekly nonstop charter flights offering low-cost service from Rockford to London and Honolulu have been approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Charter World Solutions, doing business as Mokulele Tours, plans to make its inaugural flight from Honolulu International Airport to Chicago Rockford International Airport on Friday, April 13. It has scheduled its first departure to Honolulu on Sunday, April 15. It plans to continue a Friday arrival-Sunday departure schedule through August, according to its DOT filing.

Rockford-to-London flights are scheduled to begin Friday, May 4. Mokulele will make a return trip from England Sunday, May 6. It is planning departures from Rockford to London’s Stansted International Airport on Fridays through August, and return flights to Rockford on Sundays.

“This is just another step forward in the process to bring a new service option to Chicago Rockford International Airport,” said Bharat Puri, airport board chairman.

Mokulele will use a 218-passenger Boeing 767-200ER (extended range), leased from Air Transportation International of Little Rock, Ark., for the flights, according to the filing.

When both routes start, a flier in Honolulu could take a direct flight to London through Rockford, and vice versa, with the option of flying only half the route to the Chicago area.

“With one flight a week, we’re barely touching the market,” said Ron Hansen, owner of Mokulele Airlines, which provides small plane service in the Hawaiian Islands, and Charter World Solutions.

Hansen said tickets are likely to go on sale within a week.

Hansen was involved in proposed Air Plus charter flights from Rockford to Croatia and Serbia last summer. But the inaugural flight was canceled five minutes before takeoff last June by Swift Air, the company from which Air Plus leased the plane.

The cancellation came as the Federal Aviation Administration investigated training materials and qualifications of crew members at Swift Air.

Swift was fined $100,000 for canceling the flight. Air Plus, which sold more than 3,000 tickets, gave refunds to customers and was forced to cancel 13 scheduled round trips after Swift grounded its plane.

The Hawaii and London routes were made public on Dec. 15 when airport commissioners offered $1.4 million — $700,000 per route — in revenue guarantees for World Charter Solutions, to fly from Rockford to Honolulu and London for a year.

That figure represents the most the airport would have to pay if the routes turned out to be duds.

The airport also agreed to spend a maximum of $300,000 in marketing support for both routes to begin at least 60 days before the first flight. It has been waiting for the DOT approval to begin marketing the routes.

Zach Sundquist, passenger service development manager, said the airport likes to have a minimum of 90 days to market a new route. Under public charter rules ticket sales are held in escrow until the flight is completed so that in the event that a flight is canceled money can be refunded.

Pilot dies in attempt to rescue wife from blaze

After jumping from the second floor of his blazing home in Chatuchak district yesterday, a Thai Airways pilot ran right back into the inferno to rescue his wife - but was engulfed by flames and died even as she saved herself by also leaping.

Police found Narong Tantijattananont, 53, burned to death with a fire extinguisher held tightly in his hand on the stairs to the upper floor.

Narong's wife Jongkolnee, 52, the director of the Metropolitan Electricity Authority's Bang Khen office, sustained a broken leg, spine injury and head wound.

She was taken to Mayo Hospital while their son Mark, 23, who had jumped with his father, was being treated at Vibhavadi Hospital for a shoulder injury.

Police and firemen at 5am rushed to the residence in the Yoocharoen Estate on Phaholyothin Soi 40 and took an hour to extinguish the fire, which started on the first floor and quickly spread to the second.

Police were investigating the cause of the conflagration that destroyed the whole house and a car in the garage.

Samit Chanthanop, 33, said he smelled something burning and then spotted flames rising from his neighbour's ground floor at 4.40am. After calling police, he and other neighbours sprinted to the house with fire extinguishers but couldn't pass through the locked gate.

Then they saw Narong and his son jumping off the second floor and the son was hurt. Narong grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran back into the house, but Jongkolnee then followed by falling from the second floor.

The neighbours sent the injured to hospitals but never saw Narong come back out.

POLL: “Which Kahului Airport (PHOG) Runway Repair Option Do You Prefer?”

It emerged recently that the Federal Aviation Authority would no longer fund patch maintenance of Kahului Airport’s primary runway, prompting Hawaii to perform a full repair.

Since then, the state Department of Transportation has been working with various stakeholders to resolve the situation. Three main options have emerged, and are listed below.

It should be noted that the FAA will pay for 75% of the cost of the repair project, while the other 25% will come from “airport user fees” (according to DOT).

The DOT says economic impact of a complete shutdown for two months of all wide-body aircraft could result in a large reduction in tourists (50%, HTA figure) and potentially cost up to $350 million (Department of Business Economic Development & Tourism figure). Subsequent options are designed to mitigate or eliminate the cost to the local economy.

The issue is to be discussed in a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Pomaikai Elementary School Cafeteria, where options will be presented. The community will have an opportunity to have input in the decision.

Read more and poll:

Kahului Airport (PHOG) Improvements Meeting Scheduled Tonight. Kahului, Hawaii.

KAHULUI -- The State Department of Transportation invites the general public and all interested parties to an informational meeting Monday night regarding the Kahului Airport Runway Structural Improvements Project.

This meeting will be held at the Pomaikai Elementary School Cafeteria, located at 4650 South Kamehameha Avenue in Kahului, on Monday, January 23, at 6:30 p.m.

The purpose of this meeting is to inform the public about the current condition of Runway 2-20, present several repair options that are being considered and discuss possible short-term and long-term effects of these options.

The meeting will provide the community an opportunity to identify and respond to areas of concern and interest relating to each of these options.

New airline fare advertising rules go into effect Thursday

Starting Thursday, new U.S. Department of Transportation rules will require airlines to include the cost of all mandatory fees and taxes in the advertised price of an airfare. Prior to Thursday, airlines were allowed to disclose taxes, baggage fees and other charges separately from the fare they advertise to consumers.

"Airline passengers have rights, and they should be able to expect fair and reasonable treatment when booking a trip and when they fly," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement released Monday. "The new passenger protections taking effect this week are a continuation of our effort to help air travelers receive the respect they deserve."

The new rules mean that prices will initially seem higher to fare shoppers, but will actually better reflect the complete cost of an airplane ticket. Other regulations will also be going into effect that require airlines to disclose potential baggage fees more clearly on the first screen displaying a price quotation for a specific itinerary. Consumers will also have the ability to hold a reservation without payment for 24 hours or cancel a reservation without penalty within 24 hours as long as reservations are made one week or more before the flight date.

The advertising provisions take effect on Thursday while all other new regulations go into effect on Tues., Jan. 24.

Regulations enacted last year limiting the amount of time airlines can hold passengers on the tarmac have already resulted in the DOT fining American Eagle for a May 29 incident in which planes full of passengers were stranded on the O'Hare tarmac over the three-hour limit. Rules were also enacted requiring airlines to refund baggage fees if bags are lost in transit and to better compensate passengers who are bumped due to overselling.

For information about the new rules, click here.

Fear of flying? Don't watch this video

IF you're a nervous flyer, this will put the wind up you.

A video featuring spectacular airliner landings during strong winds at Dusselldorf Airport in Germany has gone viral, clocking up more than 1.5 million views less than three weeks.

The video, shot by German Martin Bogdan and posted to his 'Cargospotter' YouTube account, shows a number of airline jets attempting to land during strong crosswinds, one after the other, shot from the front of the runway.

Due to the strong winds, the jets approach the runway at unusual angles, occasionally tilting to compensate as they come in to land.

The video was shot on January 5 at the airport, early in the afternoon as a storm raged.

Mr Bogdan said the reaction to his video had been "incredible" and he had received great feedback from viewers all around the world.

While the footage is bound to strike fear into the hearts of nervous flyers, John Holmes, flight training manager for Ansett Aviation Training, says there's nothing to worry about.

Holmes, who is involved in training many Australian and foreign pilots including pilots for Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Tiger Airways, says pilots can't get their licence unless they're able to cope with crosswind landings.

"Even for a basic licence, even for light aircraft, part of the requirement is you have to be able to land in crosswinds," he says.

"Looking at this video, the wind is possibly in the order of about 30 knots I'd say – so it's pretty strong."

In a post on YouTube, Mr Bogdan said the winds were about 35 knots, with gusts up to 55 knots.

Mr Holmes said that, despite the strong winds, pilots were still able to use automatic systems to complete landings.

"Auto-land functions on most modern aircraft can normally handle the crosswinds up to the maximum the aircraft is certified for … when you see the automation on an aircraft handle a crosswind landing, it's amazing."

While the aircraft in the video appear to almost hang in the air as the slowly come into land, Mr Holmes said this was likely an optical illusion caused by the angle the video was shot from.

Mr Holmes said Australia was reasonably fortunate that its airports generally didn't experience severe crosswinds. However, there was occasional "windshear," which can be caused by air-flow over nearby hills.

"That's a change of air direction and velocity on an aircraft on approach – and that can be quite exciting," he says with a laugh.

But he offered some words of assurance for nervous flyers.

"I think the video looks worse than it actually is – it's not unusual for pilots to land in a crosswind … it's not dangerous. The only time it can become a real problem is if the unexpected occurs, but pilots are always ready to open up the throttle, go around and have another go."

Inside Boeing's 787 Dreamliner during a stop in Rockford

ROCKFORD (WREX) -  While the 787 is in Rockford you can see it through RFD's fence. But it's not open for tours. So we take you inside with our camera. From front to back, the plane is revolutionary.

"It's a great airplane for people and the people so far that have flown on it just really love it," says Boeing VP and Chief Project Engineer for the 787 Mike Sinnett.

But it's more than just a project to him. Something like this consumes your life. He's been on it more than half of his 21 years at Boeing. And he's flown in the Dreamliner anywhere from 40 to 50 times.

Sinnett says, "Working with the airlines we developed in parallel the sonic cruiser configuration and a conventionally configured airplane. And at the end of the day the airlines really voted that they wanted the efficiency, and not the speed."

Passengers will see that speed anyway. The plane burns about 20% of the fuel current jets do. Which means fewer stops. We get to where we want to go faster. In fact the plane just set an around the world record. And while passengers are along for the ride, the 787's designed to make them more comfortable.

"Bigger windows, Better lighting, smooth ride, all make for a better flying experience," Sinnett says.

Because the plane isn't made of aluminum like other airliners, engineers can increase the humidity and pressure inside the cabin which makes a big difference on long flights.

"It's really a pleasure to fly," says Captain Mike Bryan, 787 Project Pilot.

Like Sinnett, Captain Bryan has spent a lot of time with the 787 - 6 years - although up front on the flight deck. He's got experience flying fighters in the navy; a big difference from a heavy jet like this.

"When you get down to just flying the column and looking out it's a very nimble, accurate airplane," Bryan says. "And when you come in to land, combining the head up display with its velocity vector you can really just place it right where you want to put it."

Captain Bryan adds airline pilots who've taken a tour love the 787 and are anxious to fly it. So are some passengers.

"We'll get the plane finished up and delivered and you'll be flying one of these in the back before you know it," Bryan says.

Your chance to do that comes soon. Boeing's delivered 5 Dreamliners so far to All Nippon Airways in Japan. United-Continental will be the first American company to fly the Dreamliner.

Northern Tier, NewYork, Man Faces Federal Charges; Attempted To Bring Gun On Plane

Elmira, NY -- The Northern Tier man accused of trying to bring a loaded gun onto an airplane now faces federal charges.

63-year old Michael Rinehart was arraigned on federal charges on December 16th after he attempted to bring a gun on a plane at the Elmira Corning Regional Airport in December.

He was then released.

Rinehart was charged with possession of a weapon in Chemung County.

His attorney says he is charged with attempting to board an aircraft with a concealed dangerous weapon on the federal level.

Officials say a security officer at the airport's checkpoint detected a .38 caliber revolver loaded with five rounds of ammunition in the Detroit- bound passenger's bag.

The officer also found a 9 inch knife and a utility knife.

District Attorney Weeden Wetmore says he's waiting to see the outcome of the federal charges before he decides to prosecute Rinehart locally.

Gassed Up Chainsaw on Plane?

Big Flats, N.Y. – The next time you’re getting your luggage together to get on a plane, you may want to leave the fuel for your power tools at home.

But, you can bring your chainsaw.

TSA officials said a passenger tried to check-in a chain saw with fuel at the Elmira-Corning Regional Airport on January 10.

The saw is allowed; the fuel wasn’t.

TSA officials removed the gas.

Luckily, the passenger was able to make his flight, with the chainsaw checked… not gassed up, of course.

Ground broken for $791 million Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (KFLL) runway.

Broward County Mayor John Rodstrom officiates the groundbreaking for the expanded south runway at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
(Susan Stocker, Sun Sentinel / January 23, 2012)

Decades after it was first envisioned, ground was broken Monday on a new $791 million runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

It was a day some thought would never come, and some hoped wouldn't.

"There's probably no project that's been talked about more," Broward Mayor John Rodstrom told a thick crowd next to the runway site Monday.

Though it was conceived of well before the Great Recession, politicians and business leaders hailed the runway for the construction jobs it will bring — an estimated 11,000 — and the infusion of money into the economy — an estimated $1 million per day at the peak of construction next year.

"Yeah!'' someone in the audience shouted when the job figure was announced.

The runway will be an engineering spectacle, one of the most significant public works projects in the state this year and next, officials said. The runway will slope eastward until it's six stories tall, crossing over the FEC railroad tracks and U.S. 1.

Work begins this month on the $179.9 million bridge that will support the tallest portion of the runway, where it crosses over the highway. Drivers will be the first to notice, as they're sent on a veering path on a new, temporary roadway, to allow work over U.S. 1 to go on without closures, Aviation Director Kent George said.

When it's built, the pathway pilots call "nine right, 27 left" will operate as a second main runway, allowing more jet traffic and reducing delays, George has promised.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, said it's not unusual to be stuck on the tarmac on a ground hold.

"This is really, truly a historic moment in our community," she said.

The federal government is picking up $250 million of the runway tab, and the state will contribute $129 million, George said. The remainder will come from charges passengers pay on their plane tickets.

The runway project was easily one of Broward County's most controversial public works endeavors, and not because of the cost.

"Nothing has been more gut-wrenching," Rodstrom said.

The airport is near homes in Dania Beach. The city has fought the runway for at least two decades.

But Monday's historic event wasn't the place to retread those controversies. The county was giving out baseball caps for the occasion and had a huge showing including U.S. Secretary of the Department of Transportation Ray LaHood, the acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration Michael Herta, Wasserman Schultz and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, the honor guard for the Transportation Safety Administration, and all nine county commissioners.

Even Rodstrom, who represents Dania Beach and voted against the runway, wore a smile and climbed into a backhoe to dig into a mound of dirt and scatter it on the ground, a ceremonial beginning.

"A few of you told me this morning you remember when this was a little, small airport," LaHood said. "Look what happened."

Some Upset Over Plan for Essex Skypark (W48), Baltimore, Maryland

County officials have said they want to take control the property at the 70-year-old Essex institution in order to plant trees and address other environmental issues.

Tom Katzenberg's 1996 Maule is one of more than 40 aircraft housed at the Essex Skypark.
Credit Courtesy of Tom Katzenberger

Tom Katzenberger said flying does not have to be something only for the wealthy.

To understand that, he said, one only needs to check out those who house aircraft at Essex Skypark. There, about 46 aircraft are housed and many of them were built  by the pilots.

“The people who use Essex Skypark have wrinkled faces and weathered skin,” said Katzenberger, who is president of Community Concrete Restoration and owns a 1996 Maule. “It’s a blue-collar airport in the truest sense.”

But, Katzenberger and others with the Essex Skypark Association, which operates the airport, fear that the 70-year-old Essex institution will soon be a thing of the past if Baltimore County gets its way.

Vince Gardina, director of the county’s department of environmental protection and sustainability, said the county wants to clear the 40 acres of the skypark in order to plant trees, improve water quality along Back River, replace forests destroyed by other development in the county and help to mitigate other pollution issues along the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Baltimore County has owned the property since 2000 when it purchased 500 acres from the Shapiro family through the Maryland Environmental Trust, Gradina said. The Essex Skypark Association had signed a series of five-year leases with the county since then.

But when the association failed to renew its lease last year on time, Gardina said, that gave the county the opportunity to move forward with its plans for the skypark land. The county’s current plan is to allow the skypark association five years to find a place to relocate before taking over the property.

“This is a case of a private organization using public property,” Gardina said. “The reason the county purchased the land in the first place was to preserve natural resources and help protect the environment.”

Katzenberger said that closing the skypark would be a blow to the community’s deep aviation heritage, which dates back to World War II when Glenn L. Martin set up shop in Middle River. The skypark was originally built by William Diffendahl and housed up to 200 planes in its early years.

“What a shame,” Katzenberger said. “They need 40 acres so some developer can get their project through."

Katzenberger was referring to the skypark being converted to green space to replace open land lost elsewhere in the county to development.

"There’s got to be more to wanting to close the skypark than planting some trees,” he added.

Katzenberger said that the skypark is a local educational facility where generations of eastern Baltimore County residents, including former astronaut Tom Jones, learned to fly. The grounds have also been utilized by local Boy Scout troops and area families just interested in seeing an airplane up close.

Katzenberger said it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to find a new location suitable for a skypark. To help garner additional support, the Essex Skypark Association has launched an online petition where people can sign and leave additional comments.

“In most cases, either a community doesn’t want an airport or an airport doesn’t want a new community built next to it,” Katzenberger said. “This is a case where the community and the airport want to exist together and the county doesn’t seem to agree.”

Gardina said it was never the county’s intention to keep the skypark open indefinitely, and the lease lapsing provided the county the opportunity to press forward with its plans.

“Five years is plenty of time to find a new location,” Gardina said. “The steps being taken by the county are in line with the Maryland Environmental Trust. This is about protecting the local environment.”

Brian Dolan has housed an aircraft at the skypark for 20 years and learned to fly there more than 40 years ago from his father. He said the loss of Essex Skypark would be devistating to the community, and would end events such as the annual Wings and Wheels fly-in in September.

"It's a family place and sewed into the fabric of the community," said Dolan, 66, of Towson. "It would be a huge loss to take something away that the community wants."


Lawsuit Filed in Mayo Helicopter Crash

CLAY COUNTY, Fla.-- A lawsuit has been filed in the case of the helicopter crash near Green Cove Springs last month.

All three people on the helicopter died in the crash. David Hines was the procurement technician from the Mayo Clinic on board the helicopter.

His family is suing the helicopter's operators, SK Helicopters and SK Logistics. The helicopter's owner, Abraham Holdings, is also a defendant, along with the pilot's estate. 

The suit says pilot Hoke Smith -- who also owned S-K Helicopters or SK Jets -- should not have made the decision to fly Dec. 26th because of poor weather conditions that morning.

Christine Hines, one of Hines' daughters, said Monday, "I don't exactly blame him (Hoke Smith). I just want justice for my father and for the doctor and even for the pilot -- Hoke Smith. It's not out to get anybody. It is justice. I don't want this happening to someone else's family. This is horrible."

Robert Spohrer, attorney for the Hines' family, said this was a weather-related wreck. "And that's the responsibility of the pilot. There is no flight important enough that's worth the lives of its passengers."

Spohrer continued, "The pilot should have checked the weather, seen the weather minimums were below what could safely be maneuvered and said to the folks at Mayo, 'The weather is going down. It's not good to make the trip. We need to put the doctor and the technician in an ambulance and get them to Shands and get them back up here.'"

The pilot, Hines and Dr. Luis Bonilla of Mayo were on their way to Gainesville to recover a heart for a transplant operation at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.

Bert Clark worked with Hines several years ago at the Mayo Clinic.  Clark said there was enough time to safely transport a heart via ambulance.

"It had been done before. My question is, 'Why couldn't it have been done this time?" Clark said Monday.

Spohrer said the flight should have been scratched, "given the ground fog and the overcast ceiling at 300 feet above ground level. And we know the area of the crash was 100 feet above sea level, so this gives a narrow band to maneuver in the dark."

The Hines' family is also suing the helicopter's owner, Abraham Holdings. Spohrer said according to state law, the owner of an aircraft is responsible for its safety.

Spohrer explained the BELL 206 helicopter did not have a radar altimeter.

"It's an optional piece of equipment, but when flying at low levels it's important to have that," Spohrer added.

First Coast News placed a call to SK Logistics Monday afternoon. Gary Fernandez answered. He said he's the chief pilot there. He also said Derrik Smith, the owner's son and vice president of the company, is no longer at the business.  Fernandez said Smith had another job offer and moved on within the last few weeks.

Fernandez said he didn't know much about the lawsuit.

The Hines family is suing for a minimum of $15,000. 

Hines' youngest daughter, Crystal Griner, said their father's loss has been difficult. "He was here one day and gone the next. It wasn't like he was dying from a disease. He the blink of an eye."

First Coast News placed a call to the home of Hoke Smith's widow. A woman who answered the phone said Mrs. Smith was not able to talk and added that the crash has been a tragic ordeal for the Smith family as well. 

Christine Hines said her family sends condolences to the Smith family.

Los Angeles man busted for smoking medical pot on Newark-bound flight, police say

A 43-year-old man was arrested for allegedly smoking marijuana in the bathroom of a JetBlue flight from Florida to Newark this morning, officials said.

Adam D. Blumenkraz, who gave authorities a Los Angeles address, was in the bathroom when the flight from Orlando began its approach to Newark Liberty International Airport, said Al Della Fave, a spokesman for Port Authority police. A flight attendant knocked on the bathroom door, and when Blumenkranz emerged, the attendant smelled a strong odor of pot, Della Fave said.

Blumenkranz later told police who met him at the gate in Terminal A that he was permitted to use marijuana for medical reasons, and produced a bag of marijuana and a glass pipe for smoking it, Della Fave said. He was promptly arrested.

"You just can’t do that on a commercial airliner," Della Fave said. "You cannot smoke anything, regardless what the issue is."

Blumenkranz was charged with possession of less than 50 grams of a controlled dangerous substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, and then released, Della Fave said.

Blumenkranz could not be reached. The Willshire Boulevard address he gave authorities is an office where a company official said Blumenkranz used to receive his mail but no longer had any connection to the company.


Carroll County Airport (4M1) requests line of credit. Berryville, Arkansas.

BERRYVILLE -- Airport business dominated the quorum court meeting Friday when Justices of the Peace heard from Lonnie Clark, who came forward with several requests.

Clark, who serves as treasurer on the Carroll County Airport Commission, was there with several other commission members to plead their case.

First and foremost was the commission's request for a line of credit to complete a transaction that has been lingering for years.

They are attempting to buy out the remainder of a 99-year lease on land that is county-owned airport property and currently in the hands of a man who lives in Ireland most of the time.

The history of the lease is complicated, dating back to the 1980s, and changing hands over the years.

The commission is nearing the end of a lengthy buy-back process but is $45,000 shy of the $201,000 goal.

Clark told the Justices of the Peace it was imperative they buy the lease back. He said they didn't expect to use the line of credit they were requesting -- but wanted it as back-up should their other options fall through.

Those other options, he said, include securing FAA grant money; getting general improvement funds from the state legislature; or raising the money themselves.

Dave Teigen, chairman of the airport commission, answered questions about the leased land, saying it is located south of the terminal, it is the logical place to build new hangers, and, because of its lay of the land, it would provide most of the fill-dirt required when it comes time to expand the runway.

"Expansion is critical," he said. "As we build hangars, that dirt can be used as fill."

He guessed 90 percent of the runway expansion's fill-dirt could come from that property -- if they can buy back the lease.

Clark and Airport Manager Sheila Evans both answered questions regarding the airport's value to the people of the county -- above and beyond its value to pilots and the local tourist industry.

Clark, who has been with the airport since 1965, said simply, "We wouldn't have a LaBarge without it."

Evans said the airport brought in $2.5 million in grant money last year, money that was awarded to local firms and money that stayed in the community. She also noted that medical helicopters use the airport to transport patients, along with fixed-wing aircraft to carry the critically sick to speciality hospitals.

The JPs gave their nod of approval for the line of credit, saying an ordinance would need to be drafted for consideration at their next meeting.

They did not act on Clark's second request when he asked the quorum court to restore a $30,000 building improvement line item that had been in the airport commission's budget before, but had been omitted. He said there were hangers in need of repair and the commission could use some of the money to pay for model airplane display cases. He said the commission has been offered an extraordinary "museum quality" collection of model airplanes -- if they can provide display cases to protect the collection. He said they are working with the state prison industry on the display case project and have been quoted upwards of $8,000. "That could come out of the $30,000," he said.

Clark also inquired about sick leave pay former airport manager Perry Evans never collected, and an appropriation to shift Evan's vacation and comp time pay so that it doesn't come out of the commission's 2012 budget.

JP Ron Flake responded to the sick leave pay question by saying it would be one of the policies that gets reviewed by a proposed County Personnel Committee.

That committee, to include JPs Lamont Richey, Don McNeely and Flake, has the backing of County Judge Sam Barr, who said he recently appeared before state auditors in Little Rock who questioned $7,700 spent by one department on two cell phones last year, the whereabouts of a $7,700 grinder that likely doesn't exist, and the fact that two elected county officials, himself and JP Dan Mumaugh, both sit on bank boards that do business with the county.

On that point, the JPs passed an ordinance, on its second reading, allowing the county to continue doing business with the two banks because the accounts were in existence before Barr or Mumaugh were elected.

In other business, JP John Howerton proposed that the road department use money in a CD to purchase needed road equipment, road department foreman Devoe Woodworth outlined current and future road projects, JP Flake suggested setting aside money in capitol improvement accounts for road projects and jail and dispatch system upgrades, and Sheriff Bob Grudek presented his annual report. 

'Spider Pig' Balloon Catches Fire in Arizona

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Spider Pig, the special shape balloon that flew in the 2011 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, caught fire at a show in Arizona on Saturday.

A Phoenix, Arizona tv station reports the balloon had been tethering above the ground at a show near Carefree, Arizona when the rope holding it down snapped. It took off and part of the envelope caught fire briefly. The pilot, 71-year old Wayne Bond is credited with looking out for members of the audience by flying the balloon about a half mile away.

Bond is an experienced pilot who has a career of over 8,000 flights and saw something similar to this about twenty years ago.

It's not exactly clear yet as to how much damage Spider Pig sustained or how long it will take to be repaired. No one in the crowd was injured in Saturday's incident.

Opinion: Wisconsin isn’t a ‘flyover’ state when it comes to the aerospace industry

By Tom Still | Wisconsin Technology Council

The announced move of Kestrel Aircraft Corp. to Superior may strike some skeptics as a curious landing strip for a company in the business of making small passenger planes. Don’t bail out on this story just yet. Wisconsin has more air and space credibility than meets the eye.

While more than 60 percent of the nation’s aerospace jobs are clustered in six states — Washington, California, Texas, Kansas, Connecticut and Arizona — Wisconsin can stake claim to a small but growing aerospace industry.

Those assets range from university-based space research in Madison to the world-renowned Air Venture in Oshkosh to commercial manufacturers such as Gulfstream, a General Dynamics subsidiary with a plant in Appleton.

The newest addition to Wisconsin’s aerospace cluster is Kestrel, which will move its headquarters and production from Brunswick, Maine, to Superior. The company already has engineering and design offices just across the border in Duluth, Minn.

Gov. Scott Walker and other state and local officials announced last week that Kestrel, lured by a mix of tax credits and loans, will create 600 jobs by 2016 through production of single-engine turboprop planes that seat six to eight passengers.

Gadsden County Sheriff's Office confirms name of Mississippi plane crash victim. Cessna 150G, N73JK. Quincy Municipal Airport (2J9), Florida.

Jerry Golden is the man in green, courtesy of Mike Golden. He is pictured with a plane he owned before the plane that was crashed.

QUINCY, Fla. - The identity of a pilot killed in a Quincy plane crash has been confirmed by the Gadsden County Sheriff's Office.

The man is 61-year-old Jerry Golden.

The plane crashed on the edge of a wooded area off of Ball Farm Road near the Quincy airport. No one on the ground was injured.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation. It's unclear what caused the crash, though weather in the area at the time of the crash included fog with limited visibility.

On Monday morning, we were contacted by the brother of the victim, Mike Golden.

Mike Golden, of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, says that the family is "in a state of shock" following the news of the crash.

Mike Golden says that Jerry Golden lived in Ocean Springs, Miss., and worked, in Jacksonville, for a contractor involved in helicopter manufacturing.

He also says that the Quincy Municipal Airport was a regular fuel stop for Jerry Golden.

Mike Golden says that he received a text from his brother was on the ground in Quincy; however, he didn't expect any messages saying he made it to his destination.

He says that Jerry Golden was an Air Force veteran and that, "safety had been deeply instilled in his mindset". He adds that Jerry Golden had his private flying license since he was 19 years old.

Ulysses Jenkins, with the Gadsden County Sheriff's Office, says that they couldn't confirm Jerry Golden's identity until they had contacted the man's family.

'Precautionary Evacuation' Of Flight At Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (KBWI)

A "precautionary evacuation" was ordered after an inbound flight landed safely at BWI Marshall.

Airport spokesman Jonathan Dean told WBAL News that a United Express flight from Richmond to Dulles was ordered diverted to BWI after the pilot noticed a landing gear indicator light.

The commuter plane landed safely at BWI and the passengers and flight crew were taken off and then bussed to the terminal.

There were no injuries, Dean said.

The airline was planning to get the affected passengers to Dulles.

Statement From ExpressJet Airlines:

ExpressJet Flight 6060, operating as United Express from Richmond, Va., to Washington Dulles International, diverted to Baltimore/Washington International Airport this morning after an indication that there may be an issue with the landing gear. The flight landed safely, and as a precautionary measure the crew deplaned the aircraft through the boarding door away from the terminal. The aircraft has been moved to the terminal and we are currently working to re-accommodate passengers to Washington-Dulles, or their final destination.

Yakovlev Yak-52TW: Air crash pair 'wouldn't have had a chance'

One of two men killed in a plane crash in a Feilding park was a well-respected doctor who specialised in aerobatic flying.

Palmerston North doctor Ralph Saxe and a friend died when a Russian-built Yakovlev-52 aeroplane crashed into a sports field, near a children's playground, in Timona Park about 10.45am yesterday.

Police said the plane had taken off from Taonui Aerodrome, just outside Feilding, about 25 minutes earlier. Dr Saxe and a friend were on a private flight. It is not clear who was flying.

Witnesses heard the plane going down and rushed to the scene of the mangled wreck, which had dug into the ground from the impact. The crash was unsurvivable, one onlooker said.

The site was cordoned off yesterday and tents were erected to preserve the wreckage for a Civil Aviation Authority investigation now under way. The scene examination is expected to take several days.

Inspector Mark Harrison noted that Timona Park, which is nestled in a residential area of Feilding, contained a children's playground and was popular with the community.

"There were a large number of people in the park at the time and it is extremely fortunate that no-one on the ground was hurt," he said.

Witnesses described hearing the Yak cruising in the air above southern Feilding, with no obvious problems, before a loud bang and a "revving sound" as it fell out of the sky, avoiding rooftops by as little as 100 metres.

Tingey Ave resident Bob Cale, whose house backs on to Timona Park, saw the plane hurtle towards the ground at a 45-degree angle and hit with tremendous force.

"It was going so bloody fast, they wouldn't have had a chance to [crash] land the thing ... there was no walking away from that."

Sandra Elliot said she saw the plane, trailing smoke, career towards the park. It appeared to be listing to the right, suggesting the pilot was steering it towards the open, she said.

"I'm very thankful that he was able to steer it away from all these homes ... this could have been a much bigger tragedy."

Her son, Jordan, headed to the scene and saw the propeller had been flung into the nearby playground, she said.

Manawatu Aero Club member Clyde Rowland described Dr Saxe, 51, as a "fine pilot" who specialised in aerobatic flying and had performed for the public at air shows up and down the country.

"He was one of the nicest blokes I had ever met in aviation.

"The flying world is a brotherhood ... some people fly and they never join in anything else.

"But he [Dr Saxe] was one of those guys who was part of everything and excluded no-one from the circle."

Dr Saxe, a New Zealand citizen who hailed from Pretoria, South Africa, came from an aviation-oriented family, who shared his passion for the skies, Mr Rowland said.

"Ralph's great passion was for older, unusual aircraft ... he had quite a collection. He was a man who had a never-ending enthusiasm for aviation – that's him in a nutshell."

Dr Saxe owned at least four planes – a Yak, two DHC-1 Chipmunks and a Beechcraft Bonanza.

MidCentral District Health Board member Jack Drummond described his friend of 15 years as an outstanding go-getter and entrepreneur who did great things for Palmerston North medicine.

"He was very good forward-thinking, an extremely competent practitioner. He's been into everything that's progressive in medicine," Dr Drummond said.

"But he was also a very much-liked person and I'm very, very sad to hear [about his death]."

Family gathered at Dr Saxe's Palmerston North home yesterday declined to comment.


Yakovlev 52 aircraft are described as "a pleasure to fly".

The plane was designed as an aerobatic trainer aircraft in the Soviet Union after World War II.

Since the fall of the iron curtain many Yak-52 aircraft have been exported, and they can be bought new from Romania.

A Yak-52 airman said the aircraft was extremely reliable, well-built and without any vices. The Russians designed them specifically for aerobatic exercises. "They're a pleasure to fly."

Meanwhile, a civilian aerobatic team based in New Plymouth plans to go ahead with a display involving the aircraft at Tauranga Air Show next weekend.

"We'll be taking a [Yak-52] team over to Tauranga next weekend and that's really about all I want to say on the subject," pilot Brett Emeny said. "They are fantastic aircraft to handle."

About 10 North Island Yak-52 pilots regularly put on displays at New Zealand air shows.

Cessna 210: Safety-conscious pilot praised for helping rescuers speed to British Columbia crash scene

Rescuers in British Columbia are praising the pilot of a small plane for decisions they say helped make a difficult and dangerous rescue a little easier.

Canadian Forces Search and Rescue pilot Capt. John Edwards says the pilot of the Cessna 210 was using a flight tracker system which requires routine radio check-in.

When the single-engine plane with four people aboard missed one of those checks at 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning, a local search began almost immediately over Big Creek Provincial Park, 130 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake.

The plane also carried an emergency locator beacon, leading private teams and two Canadian Forces aircraft right to the crash site — a measure that one rescue technician says gave crews more time to concentrate on safely parachuting through blustery winds to the remote scene.

Just hours after the Cessna went down, three of the four people on a wildlife tracking mission were out of the aircraft and being helicoptered to hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

Crews needed a little longer to pry a fourth person from the wreckage, but that victim is now recovering from unspecified injuries, and Edwards says the pilot's strict schedule and use of key equipment were keys to everyone's survival.