Sunday, February 19, 2012

Plane Restoration Fundraiser Also Commemorates Veterans

Duluth, MN - On Saturday evening, the American Legion Post 71 in West Duluth was abuzz with Northlanders, City Council members, and local veterans—spanning the gap from World War II to the present day.

Reason one: raise money for the Commemorative Air Force restoration project of a 1942 PBY Catalina Bomber—a World War II era float plane that served in both the Pacific and Atlantic theatre as a search, rescue and reconnaissance patrol bomber.

"The PBY Catalina crew was the crew that spotted not only the Bismarck in the Atlantic, but also the Japanese fleet as they were steaming toward Midway," said Commemorative Air Force member Warren Johnson.   As the silent auction and dinner fundraiser continued, however, it became clear that Northlanders were gathered together for another reason—to share stories and gain insight from veterans whose experiences overseas helped shape the region.

"Wayne Johnson flew P 49 Warhawks, and he was with us this evening. And he's in his 90's—not that many more opportunities to sit with someone of that age, and share their stories, and get an idea of just what it was like for them," said Commemorative Air Force member Peter Prudden.

City Council President Dan Hartman said the dedication that the Northland has to honoring our veterans is what makes our region unique: "We as a community, I think, are incredibly unique because we have three local museums in our area. We have the Commemorative Air Force—which is our fundraiser for tonight. We have Veteran's Memorial Hall, which is part of the St. Louis County Historical Society. But also, we have the Richard I Bong Heritage Center in Superior. So, in our region we have three great local museums, and that's pretty rare to have. Most don't have any."

According to Northland resident Jody Roberts, the lessons we can learn from our veterans are important lessons for the next generation: "I have grandparents that served in World War II, and I want my daughter to understand how important the veterans are to this country, and to this community." for the BPY Catalina? That, too, serves an educational—and memorial—purpose.

"That will go on the air show circuit to promote education, and the history, and [as] a tribute to the veterans that flew them," said Prudden.  The silent auction went on to raise over $1,000 for the restoration project.  Restoration of the BPY Catalina is scheduled for completion by 2014—just in time for fourth fest—where it will be flown over the Duluth harbor, and land in the bay.

San Marcos Municipal Airport (KHYI) dreams big with new tower and terminal

It's a small airport by most standards, but everyone here has big dreams.

Last September, the San Marcos Airport opened its new control tower. It's a big deal for an airport this size. It provides an extra set of eyes for the pilots - and an extra measure of safety.

"Having the tower on board - having that additional safety - envelopment, kind of umbrella over the top of us - I think it's important," said Shane Schmidt, who recently became a pilot after finishing his training at the airport.

Air traffic increased 40% in 2011, with an average of 3500 takeoffs and landings per month. More air traffic means more revenue for San Marcos.

Stephen Alexander is the airport's aviation director. "Airports are always or should be viewed as a city within a city, in that they have all the economic engines and the economic trickle-down effects that cities have, but on a smaller scale, specific to the airport. So hotel stays, jobs, tax base, etc. - all go up and all increase when the activity at your airport increases as well,” he said.

Another key part of the airport's growth is the addition of Redbird Skyport, a pilot training center and general aviation terminal. It's state-of-the-art, with a hangar that connects directly to the lounge and restaurant.

"In aviation we say the first thousand feet of the runway is the most important thousand feet of pavement for the city because it brings a lot of tourists and people into the city and business traffic," said Randy Clark, a sales executive with Redbird Skyport.

The tarmac, left over from the old Gary Air Force Base, covers more than 1300 acres. There are three runways, the longest of which is 6300 feet. It can accommodate a jetliner as large as a Boeing 737.

Atop the 100-foot tower, air traffic controllers have a 360 degree view. They man the tower from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., 7 days a week. When the tower is unmanned, air traffic is handled by Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The runway is lit all night to accommodate nighttime traffic.

Clark says overall airport traffic is significant, and the city gets a good portion of the fuel revenue from that traffic.

The airport is hoping to attract more future pilots with its new facility. Schmidt just completed his pilot training at Redbird Skyport. "Having a brand new facility like this I think is probably the reason why I'm here.I searched for several years looking for a place to be, and kind of the run-down, dingy, little airfield places just didn't work,” he said.

While this airport may be smaller than others, it has big dreams - and is working to make them come true.

SpiceJet offloads disabled passenger

Kolkata: In yet another instance of discrimination against disabled people, a woman was today offloaded from a SpiceJet flight from Kolkata to Goa.

Jeeja Ghosh, a teacher at Kolkata's Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy and a frequent flier across the country and abroad, was offloaded because the pilot felt she was not fit to fly. She has travelled alone in the past, but the pilot did not allow her to do it this time.

The 42-year-old Jeeja Ghosh, who has lived independently in the UK as a student, is outraged at the incident.

Speaking to NDTV, Ms Ghosh said that such people "do not deserve to hold the job". She demanded that a show-cause notice be issued against such people.

Ms Ghosh said that other passengers "tried to convince the pilot to let me fly, but he was adamant".

Demanding action against the pilot, she has filed a complaint saying today's experience was not just humiliation for her but the entire community across the country of people with disabilities who are however completely able to travel by themselves.

The airline later issued a statement apologizing for the inconvenience caused to the passenger. The airline expressed regret for the incident, and said that the matter will be investigated and action taken.

Midland, Texas: Resident Reacts After Third Plane Accident in Three Months

Midland--"Lately after this last one it doesn't surprise me, we're more conscious, but it doesn't surprise me a bit," said Israel Herrera, Midland Resident.

Herrera lives on the 4500 block of Trevino, if that sounds familiar it's because that's the neighborhood that was struck by an airplane last December.

With today's accident making three incidents in the past three months, some say it's a growing issue.

"Before we didn't think about it, when we're in the backyard, and now all of a sudden three of them, it just makes you more aware when you hear a plane," said Herrera.

"It is a bit of a concern, that this neighborhood and those other apartments are close to the runway and I think something needs to be done," said Tim Mulvahill, Midland Resident.

According to city officials just before one this afternoon, a single engine Cessna carrying three people overshot the runway and crashed into a nearby ditch.

Though no one was hurt, it leaves a mark on those that live nearby.

"I've watched them fly right over me, I've watched southwest fly right over me, I just think that whatever is going on, somebody maybe needs to look into it," said Donna Blakely, Midland Resident.

"It just makes you kind of nervous that maybe you're not as safe as you used to," said Alvino Ureste, Midland Resident.

Ureste also says he just wants him and his family to feel safe.

"Sure they've got a lot of planes going in and out, it'd be nice if it would just get moved further away, so that we would feel safe," said Ureste.

The City of Midland crews responded to a call in reference to a plane crash at 12:53 pm at Midland Airpark.

A single engine Cirrus SR22 four-seat plane was landing at airpark when it went off the end of the runway.

The plane was occupied by one pilot and two passengers.

No injuries reported at this time.

Investigation will be done by Lubbock FSDO.

Tasa Watts
Public Information Officer
City of Midland

Midland--We spoke with City of Midland officials who say that a pilot flying a single passenger aircraft veered into a ditch after overshooting the landing. The pilot was the only one in the aircraft and no injuries were reported.

The pilots name has not been released at this time. 

Moore airport upgrades prompt outcry from some residents

WHISPERING PINES - The Moore County commissioners appear poised to approve budget ordinances that will allow upgrades at the county airport.

But at least one local group is voicing concerns about the spending at the Moore County Airport and is questioning the airport authority's long-term plans.

Airport Director Ron Maness said he hopes work can start by summer on a 400-foot addition to the runway and a relocation of a localizer antenna, which pilots use for landings. Crews also will cut trees on 12 acres recently purchased by the airport authority.  The county has accepted $3.1 million in grants from the Federal Aviation Administration and the N.C. Department of Transportation for the work. A $344,445 county match is required, money which Maness said will come from an occupancy tax on area hotel rooms.

"The key is that, for the most part, the occupancy tax comes from visitors who come from outside Moore County," Maness said. "We're not taking it out of the pockets of the local taxpayers."   The Moore County Airport is located on 500 acres at N.C. 22 and Airport Road, three miles north of Southern Pines. Twenty-three people work at the airport and about 6,000 small planes take off and land there every year.

Commercial planes haven't landed at the airport since Delta Airlines discontinued service in 2007. An airport task force has been formed to explore re-establishing commercial service.  Maness said the improvements are being made to meet safety standards set by the FAA. Still, he said, attracting a commercial airline is a goal of the airport authority.

"We'd definitely like to have service back in here," he said. "And I think the community would love to have it, too."   The 400-foot extension of the runway, called a displaced threshold, can be used for takeoffs but not for landings, he said. The grade of the land at the end of the runway will also be decreased for safety reasons.

The addition, which is being done on the runway's northeast end, will bring its length to 5,900 feet. Maness said the extension does not change flight paths and will be done within the airport's existing fence line.  But not everyone is happy about the airport's plans and the money needed for the project.

Whispering Pines resident Fred Korb and his son, Dave, have incorporated Taxpayers to Stop Airport Waste LLC to voice their concerns about possible airport expansion and the use of tax money by the airport authority.

The Korbs have been a presence at meetings of the airport authority and the county commissioners in recent months. The airport authority meeting on Tuesday ended with a heated exchange between Dave Korb and board member Bill Bateman.

"We don't want it to be a large commercial airport and we don't want them taking any more liberties with the tax money of the county, state and federal government," Dave Korb said in a phone interview last week. "Our goals are rather simple and they're shared by hundreds of people who have signed our petition and responded to our blog."   Dave Korb said a key concern he has is that a portion of one of the most recent state grants was funded with money from a state highway fund. Money in the highway fund is collected mostly by gasoline taxes.

Richard Walls, director of the state DOT's Division of Aviation, said money from the highway fund can be used to upgrade any transportation infrastructure, not only highways.   Still, the use of the money for the airport makes the Korbs question whether other funds have gone to alternative uses.

Dave Korb was clear about one thing: He and his father don't plan on going away.   "It's going to be really nasty," he said. "The outcome is going to very, very ugly and it's unfortunate because we may take down some people we really respect."

Man charged with trying to carry loaded gun onto a plane at Chicago Midway International Airport (KMDW), Illinois

A Chicago man was arrested at Midway Airport on Saturday morning after an X-ray scan of his luggage showed he was carrying a loaded handgun in his laptop bag, prosecutors said.

Willie T. Thomas said he forgot the chrome semiautomatic .25-caliber Beretta pistol, loaded with eight live rounds, was in his bag when he went to the airport to board a flight to Atlanta to visit family, said his attorney, Michael Schmiege.

Thomas, 51, of the 8300 block of South Wabash Avenue was charged with attempting to board a plane with a weapon, and Cook County Judge Edward Harmening ordered him held on $30,000 bond Sunday.

The gun formerly belonged to Thomas’ deceased aunt, his lawyer said, and a police report indicated he has a valid state firearm card.

Thomas, an employee of Chicago’s Streets and Sanitation Department, would not have intentionally carried a loaded gun to the airport, Schmiege said, because that would be “about the stupidest thing anyone could ever do.”

Robinson R22 Beta II, Vertical CFI Helicopters (operator / private owner), N7508Y and Beechcraft 35-A33 Debonair, N433JC: Accident occurred February 19, 2012 in Antioch, California

NTSB Identification: WPR12LA109A
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, February 19, 2012 in Antioch, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/21/2014
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22 BETA, registration: N7508Y
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

NTSB Identification: WPR12LA109B
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, February 19, 2012 in Antioch, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/21/2014
Aircraft: BEECH 35-A33, registration: N433JC
Injuries: 3 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.

The helicopter and airplane collided midair. Both aircraft sustained minimal damage during the impact but substantial damage during the subsequent forced landings. The airplane pilot was performing a local flight and was not in contact with air traffic control (ATC) before the collision. The helicopter pilot was receiving visual flight rules flight following services from ATC throughout the flight. The helicopter pilot transitioned between two ATC sectors before the accident. On multiple occasions, the controllers for each sector misidentified the last three digits of the helicopter’s call sign. Additionally, the controller in the accident sector issued a traffic advisory using the wrong call sign. Further, an aircraft with the same last three digits as the helicopter’s incorrect call sign made radio contact with the controller shortly before the collision, which increased the confusion. Audio data revealed that the air traffic controller provided multiple traffic advisories to the helicopter but did not issue an alternate or immediate course of action in accordance with ATC procedures despite the fact that the aircraft’s converging flightpaths had triggered the radar conflict alert system. Radar playback also revealed that, at that time, the controller was receiving a visual alert on the radar console. This alert was also observed by a controller in an adjacent approach sector who called the radar assist controller warning of the threat. The assist controller responded, “yeah, we’re givin’ him traffic.” A few seconds later, the radar targets merged. The helicopter pilot stated that she received and complied with the traffic advisories by performing a visual scan but that, based on her communications with the air traffic controller, she did not perceive the situation to be urgent. Radar data revealed that the helicopter descended 600 feet before the collision but that the pilot did not inform the air traffic controllers about the descent. Further, as the airplane got closer and the traffic advisories were issued, the helicopter pilot began turning north, which brought the helicopter directly into the path of the approaching airplane while simultaneously placing the airplane behind her immediate field of vision. Shortly after, she sighted a silhouette of the airplane and propeller at her 4-o’clock position. She performed an evasive maneuver to the left but then felt the helicopter being struck. 

Neither the airplane pilot nor the occupant observed another aircraft near the airplane before the collision. Although the airplane pilot was not receiving traffic advisories from ATC, it was still the pilot’s responsibility to maintain a proper visual lookout to avoid other aircraft in the area. The helicopter’s left navigation light was inoperative when tested after the accident; however, this most likely did not affect the outcome because the left side of the helicopter would not have been visible to the airplane pilot at any point during the flight.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The failure of both pilots to see and avoid the other aircraft during cruise flight. Contributing to the accident was the failure of air traffic control personnel to issue the helicopter pilot with a prompt and appropriate alternate course of action upon receiving a conflict alert.


On February 19, 2012, about 1845 Pacific standard time, a Beech 35-A33 airplane, N433JC, and a Robinson R22 Beta helicopter, N7508Y, collided midair near Antioch, California. The airplane was owned and operated by the private pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a local flight. The helicopter was registered to Spitzer Helicopter Leasing Company and operated by the commercial pilot under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 as a solo cross-country flight in preparation for obtaining her helicopter rating. None of the aircraft occupants were injured. The helicopter was receiving flight following at the time of the accident, and departed Hayward Executive Airport, Hayward, California, about 1815, with a planned destination of Sacramento Executive Airport, Sacramento, California. The airplane departed Byron Airport, Byron, California, about 1835. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and neither aircraft filed a flight plan.

The airplane pilot stated that he performed an uneventful preflight inspection during which he confirmed all lights were operational. They departed Byron with the intention of performing three night landings, and 30 minutes of flight over Antioch and the Sacramento Delta area. After departure, they climbed to 2,500 feet mean sea level (msl), on a west heading. The pilot pointed out the local power station below to the passenger, and then discussed aircraft lights that he could see above and far into the distance; a few seconds later they felt a collision. Neither occupant observed another aircraft in close proximity prior to the collision, and the pilot was concerned that they may have struck a tower or bird. The airplane immediately began to shudder, and roll to the right. The pilot looked to the right wing and could see a hole, and a piece of tubing protruding from the leading edge. He established airplane control, and began a 180-degree climbing left turn to 3,000 feet. He confirmed that his landing lights were on throughout the flight. Although his transponder was switched on and set to 1200, he had not established radio contact with any air traffic control facility prior to the collision.

The pilot elected to return to Byron Airport. While en route, he established radio contact with Northern California Terminal Radar Approach Control (NORCAL), who told him he had struck a helicopter. He maintained straight and level flight by utilizing continuous left aileron and rudder control inputs. During the final approach segment, the propeller speed began to decrease and he was unable to maintain altitude. As the airplane began to slow down, it began to pitch to the right despite his left control inputs. The airplane subsequently landed hard in a field short of the runway.

The helicopter pilot stated that she departed Hayward with a route that was to follow highways to Concord, Antioch, and ultimately Sacramento. She contacted NORCAL Approach for flight following once she had reached Dublin, and was issued a discreet transponder code. Once over Concord, the approach controller transferred her to Travis Air Force Base Radar Approach Control. She continued the flight, and stated that a short time later she received a traffic advisory from the Travis controller. She turned on the helicopter's landing lights to increase her visibility, and began looking for the traffic (she further reported that she may have turned off the light a short time later.) She stated that based on her communication with air traffic controllers, she did not perceive the situation to be urgent. She thought she received two traffic advisories in total. The flight continued and she initiated a left turn to the north, while relaying this information to the controller. A short time later, she caught site of the silhouette of an airplane and propeller at her 4 o'clock position. She performed an evasive maneuver to the left, and then felt the helicopter being struck. She did not know the extent of the damage, and elected to immediately perform a precautionary landing. The area below was unlit and dark, and she was aware that it included significant areas of water. She therefore selected a road as her emergency landing spot. During the approach she could see multiple automobiles and diverted to a spot adjacent to the highway. She raised the collective control between 50 and 75 feet above ground level, the helicopter landed hard, and rolled onto its left side.


Radar and Audio

Radar data and audio recordings for the accident were provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and United States Air Force (USAF), and reviewed by an Air Traffic Control Specialist in the NTSB Operational Factors division. A complete report is included in the public docket.

The data revealed that the pilot of helicopter N7508Y initially attempted to make contact with NORCAL approach about 1821. The controller did not reply, and about 3 minutes later she made a second attempt. The controller replied utilizing the incorrect call sign of "Helicopter 7508W" and the pilot, utilizing the "08Y" call sign, requested flight following to Sacramento Executive Airport via Concord and Antioch. The controller again responded with "08W", and provided an altimeter setting. The pilot restated her call sign, and the controller responded now utilizing "08Y", expounding that her transmissions were, "fairly scratchy and hard to read." She was provided with a transponder code and the flight continued uneventfully for the next 6 minutes, after which time the controller asked her to contact Travis approach.

At approximately 1832, the pilot made contact with Travis approach utilizing the call sign "Helicopter 7508Y." The controller replied with the call sign of "08W", while asking her to verify altitude. The pilot responded with an altitude of 3,000 feet and restated her call sign as "08Y", and again the controller replied with the incorrect call sign. The pilot retransmitted the correct call sign and over the next few exchanges the discrepancy was resolved, and the controller responded with the correct call sign.

At 1838, the controller, once again utilizing the incorrect call sign of "08W", provided a traffic advisory to the helicopter pilot regarding a twin Cessna airplane. The pilot replied stating, "is that for 08Y?" and the controller replied in the affirmative, now utilizing the "08Y" call sign. Ninety seconds later, the controller gave a second advisory, stating that the Twin Cessna was at her 12 o'clock position, southwest bound and at 3,900 feet. A few seconds after that, the controller reported that the traffic was no longer a factor, and the helicopter continued uneventfully.

Approximately 1840, a target appeared on radar approximately 11 miles southeast of N7508Y transmitting a beacon code of 1200, and an indicated mode C altitude of 1,200 feet. This aircraft was not in communication with air traffic control, and was later determined to be N433JC. About 1842, the controller asked N7508Y how much further east she would be flying, and the pilot responded, "We'll be over Antioch Bridge but be turning [.]bound soon, zero eight yankee." The radar controller responded "roger traffic one o'clock 6 miles northbound altitude indicates two thousand six hundred appears level," and the pilot replied, "zero eight yankee." Fifty seconds later, the controller advised the pilot that the target was now turning northwest bound at a range of 4 miles, and the pilot replied that she was turning northbound. Immediately following this response, an airplane with the call sign Cherokee 9808W, called the approach controller requesting visual flight rules (VFR) flight following. The controller confirmed contact, and asked the Cherokee to standby. Over the course of the next 73 seconds the controller corresponded multiple times with the Cherokee (utilizing the call sign "Cherokee 08W" and "08W") and a Piper Tomahawk (call sign 11T). Audio data revealed a beeping sound during the controller's transmissions, which was consistent with an automatically generated aural conflict alert. Radar playback data also revealed that at that time the controller was also receiving a visual alert on the radar console. During that period the Travis Approach Radar Assist controller (Radar Associate Position) received a land-line interphone call from a NORCAL approach controller who had also received the alert, and was concerned about the proximity of N7508Y and N433JC. The assist controller responded, "yeah, we're givin' him traffic." Radar data indicated that the helicopter and N433JC were now at the same altitude of 2,600 feet, within 1 mile of each other and closing. The Travis Approach controller then transmitted, "Zero eight yankee traffic now twelve o'clock less than a mile east, correction, westbound two thousand six hundred indicated." A few seconds later the radar targets merged, and the pilot of N7508Y transmitted, "MAYDAY MAYDAY HELICOPTER GOING DOWN."

Examination of the radar data revealed that the helicopter's mode C reported altitude varied between 2,600 and 3,300 feet during the period it was receiving flight following. No other targets were observed in close proximity to the two aircraft leading up to the collision.

Interpretation of the voice recordings revealed that although the helicopter pilot always reported her correct call sign, background noise and the inflection of her voice often resulted in the last digit, "yankee" sometimes sounding like "whiskey."

Airframe Examinations

Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that a forward portion of helicopter's right skid had become lodged in the leading edge of the right wing, midspan. A 6-inch-long section of one propeller blade tip was missing, and the spinner sustained crush damage and a black paint transfer next to the back plate. During the forced landing the airplane sustained substantial damage to the wingtips, firewall, and the fuselage just aft of the left wing trailing edge.

The helicopter sustained damage during the collision sequence limited to the forward right skid, and the center section of the left skid, which was not recovered. The helicopter did not sustain damage during the collision, which would have prevented normal flight. The helicopter rolled over during the landing, most likely because of the separated landing gear skids. As it rolled, the tailcone came away from the fuselage, and the forward cabin struck the ground. The landing light switch was found in the "OFF" position following the accident, and subsequent testing revealed that the lamp was operational. The rear (white) and right (green) navigation lamps illuminated when tested, however, the left (red) lamp did not light. Examination of the filament revealed that it had broken away completely at both posts.

Additional Information

FAA Order JO7110.65U prescribes air traffic control procedures and phraseology for use by persons providing air traffic control services. According to the order, "Controllers are required to be familiar with the provisions of this order that pertain to their operational responsibilities and to exercise their best judgment if they encounter situations that are not covered by it." The order contains the following applicable excerpts:

"Section 2-1-1, ATC SERVICE:

The primary purpose of the ATC system is to prevent a collision between aircraft operating in the system and to organize and expedite the flow of traffic, and to provide support for National Security and Homeland Defense. In addition to its primary function, the ATC system has the capability to provide (with certain limitations) additional services. The ability to provide additional services is limited by many factors, such as the volume of traffic, frequency congestion, quality of radar, controller workload, higher priority duties, and the pure physical inability to scan and detect those situations that fall in this category. It is recognized that these services cannot be provided in cases in which the provision of services is precluded by the above factors. Consistent with the aforementioned conditions, controllers must provide additional service procedures to the extent permitted by higher priority duties and other circumstances. The provision of additional services is not optional on the part of the controller, but rather is required when the work situation permits."

Section 2-1-2, DUTY PRIORITY:

Give first priority to separating aircraft and issuing safety alerts as required in this order. Good judgment must be used in prioritizing all other provisions of this order based on the requirements of the situation at hand."


Issue a safety alert to an aircraft if you are aware the aircraft is in a position/altitude which, in your judgment, places it in unsafe proximity to terrain, obstructions, or other aircraft. Once the pilot informs you action is being taken to resolve the situation, you may discontinue the issuance of further alerts. Do not assume that because someone else has responsibility for the aircraft that the unsafe situation has been observed and the safety alert issued; inform the appropriate controller. NOTE-

1. The issuance of a safety alert is a first priority (see para 2-1-2, Duty Priority) once the controller observes and recognizes a situation of unsafe aircraft proximity to terrain, obstacles, or other aircraft. Conditions, such as workload, traffic volume, the quality/limitations of the radar system, and the available lead time to react are factors in determining whether it is reasonable for the controller to observe and recognize such situations. While a controller cannot see immediately the development of every situation where a safety alert must be issued, the controller must remain vigilant for such situations and issue a safety alert when the situation is recognized. 

2. Recognition of situations of unsafe proximity may result from MSAW/E-MSAW/LAAS, automatic altitude readouts, JO 7110.65U 2/9/12

b. Aircraft Conflict/Mode C Intruder Alert. Immediately issue/initiate an alert to an aircraft if you are aware of another aircraft at an altitude which you believe places them in unsafe proximity. If feasible, offer the pilot an alternate course of action.

c. When an alternate course of action is given, end the transmission with the word "immediately."


Emphasize appropriate digits, letters, or similar sounding words to aid in distinguishing between similar sounding aircraft identifications. Additionally:

a. Notify each pilot concerned when communicating with aircraft having similar sounding identifications.

b. Notify the operations supervisor-in-charge of any duplicate flight identification numbers or phonetically similar-sounding call signs when the aircraft are operating simultaneously within the same sector."

RIO VISTA, CA - A small plane clipped a helicopter just before 7 p.m. near the Rio Vista Municipal Airport Sunday evening, according to authorities.

The two-seat Robinson R22 helicopter crashed about eight miles south of the airport around 7 p.m., just off Highway 160 in Sacramento County, said Deputy Jason Ramos of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.  California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Bradley says the woman pilot suffered minor injuries.

Emergency officials on scene said the pilot came down about 50 feet from the highway. She was able to shut off the fuel tank and walk to the road where passersby had stopped to help.

The pilot suffered cuts to her hands and was taken to an area hospital to be checked, according to Ramos.

The plane, a six-seat Beechcraft Bonanza, nearly made it to the Byron Airport in Contra Costa County approximately 20 miles away before landing short of the airport. Ramos said that pilot also sustained minor injuires and was taken to the hospital.

No one else was onboard either aircraft.

The helicopter is leased to Vertical CFI, a training school in the Bay Area, and owned by Spitzer Leasing in Hayward. The pilot's flight purpose Sunday was unclear.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will be taking over the investigation.

Body of Indian stuck at Muscat airport after coffin not loaded on flight

Relatives in India in anxious wait for remains of man who is reported to have committed suicide

The dead body of an Indian expatriate has been lying at Seeb Airport in Muscat in Oman for two days now, as an Indian airline’s cargo handlers “forgot” to load the coffin on the plane.

Relatives have been waiting to receive and cremate the body of the dead man who committed suicide about 15 days ago.

Airline and cargo officials are now working to repatriate the body of Jinesh Chandran (24) who killed himself on February 5 at Saham in Oman.

The body was to be sent home by an Air India Express flight from Muscat to Kozhikode at 1.45pm and his relatives were waiting at Kozhikode airport to receive the body.

C M Jabbar, a Muscat-based social worker of Kairali, a socio-cultural organisation, said: “It is the first time that a coffin was forgotten by ground-handling staff at the airport. The coffin is in a big box and no one can miss the box as all the names and details of the airline and the dead man are written on the box."

He said arrangements were being made to repatriate the body on an Air India Express flight on Sunday. “When we repatriate a dead body, normally the box is handed over to the airport cargo staff and the rest is their responsibility,” he said.

“The man had died about two weeks ago and our social workers struggled to send the body home but there was a long delay due to public holidays and an additional official holiday. The Indian Embassy in Muscat and social workers supervised the post mortem and other procedures to repatriate the body. It is unfortunate that the dead body has been stranded in the airport for two days now,” he added.

“We had completed all formalities to repatriate the dead body and Air India Express was supposed to carry the dead body from Muscat to Calicut at 1.45 pm on Saturday and relatives had been informed about the arrival of the body,” said another social worker from Kairali.

According to Air India officials, the cargo containing the dead body was not loaded on time and the problem occurred in the cargo handling and clearing section in the airport. According to the cargo agency, they had deposited the box containing the body at Seeb Airport at 11.30am on Saturday, but the cargo handling section failed to load it on time, leaving the dead body stranded there.

Rajeevan, uncle of the deceased man, waiting to receive the coffin at Kozhikode airport, said: “It is unfortunate that the cargo handlers forgot to load a dead body. About 15 family members and friends had arranged an ambulance and reached the airport to receive the dead body.

All other arrangements had been made to cremate the body. We enquired at the cargo section of Air India and they have assured that the body will reach by Sunday’s flight, which leaves Muscat at 2.25 India time.”

“We had paid Rs4,000 to arrange an ambulance and we are again arranging another ambulance for today. Instead of carrying the dead body, we travelled back from Calicut to our native place in the ambulance. Jinesh left for Oman about a year ago and it is very unfortunate that he is coming back in a coffin.”

Another reason for the delay in repatriation of Jinesh’s body was that his Omani sponsor had asked the family of the dead man to pay Omani riyals 1,500 (about Dh 15,000) to meet the body repatriation expenses.

The Indian embassy and social workers intervened after which the sponsor agreed to bear the expense, Jabbar said.

Air Fiesta to feature vintage Russian jet fighter

Randy Ball's vintage MiG-17F fighter is currently on display at the CAF RGV Wing Museum at the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport, 955 S. Minnesota Ave., and will fly during Air Fiesta 2012, March 24-25. The aircraft first entered service with the Soviet Air Force in March 1960.

It would’ve been unthinkable just a couple of decades ago, but a Soviet-era MiG-17F fighter is laying over in Brownsville for a few weeks.

The rare aircraft is on display at the CAF Rio Grande Valley Wing museum at the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport, and will be among the stars of Air Fiesta 2012, taking place March 24-25. Randy Ball, the plane’s Tyler-based pilot/owner, said the North Vietnamese Air Force’s MiG-17s were the bane of U.S. pilots during Vietnam. While the aircraft is only "only marginally supersonic," he said, it was much more maneuverable than the American fighters — including the MiG’s primary foe, the F-4 Phantom.

"We got to fighting (the MiG-17) in Vietnam," Ball said. "If we got into a tight fight with it, it could just go around pulling Gs. We didn’t have anything that could. I have ‘fought’ numerous times against the F-4 and you can just turn inside of them. Until the F-16 flew in 1976 it was the tightest turning fighter in the world."

Ball, who is also an airline captain, has 1,000 flying hours in Soviet jets, the most of any pilot in the country. He’s also the only pilot FAA-certified to perform unlimited jet aerobatics day or night. The "unlimited" designation means he’s approved to fly as low as he wants over the runway during aerobatic performances — even at night. The MiG-17 was the first Soviet jet, and one of the first jets in the world, to be equipped with an afterburner.

"It flies unbelievably," Ball said. "It is a Ferrari in the sky. One of the passes I make is a very low pass close to the crowd where I accelerate to 0.9 the speed of sound. I make at least one pass each show at that speed, so people can see what 700 mph looks like close to the ground."

Piloting the single-seat fighter is an exhilarating experience, but also challenging, he said.

"With an aircraft of its vintage, with its severely swept wings, flying slow for example is a significant no-no. What I mean by slow: For that airplane, touchdown speed is almost 170 mph."

The MiG cruises at more than 500 mph and burns about 400 gallons of jet fuel per hour. It features a functional ejection seat and original machine guns mounted under the nose. This particular aircraft entered service with the Soviet Air Force in March 1960 and took part in the Soviet crackdown on "Prague Spring," the 1968 Czech uprising, according to Ball. In 1982 it was transferred to the Polish air force reserve and flown by a general who had flown the identical plane as a young captain, he said.

In 1990, the year before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the aircraft was stripped from the inventory and put in a field to rot. Ball acquired it in 1994, and a four-year restoration was completed in 2001. A retired MiG-17 can still be had for roughly the price of a new Chevy Suburban, though restoring, flying and maintaining one entails a great deal of expense.

Ball’s MiG, nicknamed "Check-Six," is one of a handful of vintage jets flying the North American air show circuit these days. Since once plentiful spare parts are becoming scarce and expensive — former Eastern Bloc countries were required to destroy their stockpiles of Soviet hardware as a condition of joining NATO — this generation may be the last to see vintage jets like Check-Six fly, Ball said.

Air Fiesta Chairman David Hughston said Ball’s MiG would be a prominent part of this year’s air show, particularly the show’s focus on Vietnam-era aircraft, though a number of World War II aircraft will be on hand as well.

"We are spending a lot of money on our Vietnam segment," he said. "We think it’s the right thing to do. We have a lot of Vietnam vets in the Valley, and we had the opportunity this year to get the MiG and a lot of other classic Vietnam-era aircraft."

Those include a Douglas A-26 Invader, a Douglas Skyraider, and a Bell Huey helicopter — the United States’ ubiquitous, all-purpose workhorse during Vietnam.

"We did score a Huey," Hughston said. "It was an expensive score, but we’re going to have a Huey. The expensive part about having the Huey isn’t so much the appearance fee, it’s the fuel to get it down here. But we think that it’ll really add a lot of atmosphere."

Pilot Uninjured, Safely Lands Plane in Hamburg, Minnesota

A 42-year-old Minneapolis woman was uninjured when she was forced to land a plane in a plowed field near Hamburg.

Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson says the incident happened Saturday afternoon. The woman was the only person on the plane when her instrument panel lost power and she had to land.

Olson says the Piper 28 aircraft landed safely without damage.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

Helicopter charge doesn't dislodge stranded deer

Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Times Review
A helicopter with a B.C. Conservation Officer Service member on board charges a deer stranded on a gravel bar in the middle of the Columbia River near Centennial Park on Feb. 19 in an attempt of force it off the small island.

Even a swooping charge by a roaring helicopter couldn't convince a Big Eddy deer to hoof it to safety on Sunday.

The deer was reported to authorities after spending an unknown number of days stuck on the small gravel island in the Columbia River. You can see the deer from Centennial Park – though the animal is easy to miss if you aren't looking for it.

RCMP officers in more than one vehicle and a conservation officer took action on Feb. 19. The conservation officer boarded a helicopter to check out the scene. The helicopter circled the island a couple of times before swooping down in an attempt to drive the deer off the island towards the Big Eddy. Although the deer did run briefly, it didn't jump into the river and remained on the island after the helicopter left a minute later.

An RCMP officer on the scene told the Times Review that the conservation officer felt the water between the island and the Big Eddy was shallow enough for the deer to make it off on its own.

Other than the small flurry of activity on Sunday, no further actions are planned.

In Pictures: Calstar Helicopter in Walnut Creek’s Ygnacio Plaza Shopping Center

The Calstar air ambulance helicopter made an appearance at the Ygnacio Plaza Shopping Center in Walnut Creek on Sunday afternoon.

According to our friend “The Martian”, the helicopter landed in the center to educate the people about its service and show off its capabilities.

Thanks to “The Martian” for the information & the photos!

Click on this link to learn more about Calstar1, which is based at Buchanan Field Airport in Concord.

A Plan to Restrict Flight Paths, to Hush the Blender Over Long Island

Published: February 19, 2012

Howard M. Lorber, a businessman who has been flying a helicopter between the Hamptons and the city for a decade, still savors the thrill of the ride: when he flies along the South Shore of Long Island, he rides by Coney Island and checks up on one of his businesses, Nathan’s Famous; when he travels by the North Shore, he gazes at the sprawling estates dotting the Gold Coast.

But starting this summer, Mr. Lorber’s view from above might be restricted to the water. The Federal Aviation Administration, at the longtime urging of Senator Charles E. Schumer, intends to adopt regulations to eventually ban most helicopters from flying directly over Long Island, except in emergencies.

Under the proposals, which are a response to years of noise complaints, helicopters bound for the Hamptons would be forced to skirt the shoreline. That would keep them away from favored routes over the North or South Shore, or down the center of the island along the railroad tracks.

Fliers like Mr. Lorber said the quality of the ride might suffer. And the changes would add about seven or eight minutes to the trip, increasing costs.

“Generally, the most direct route is over land,” Mr. Lorber said. “Helicopters are expensive. So it’s going to cost you a little more.”

Some fliers suggested that the restrictions could be dangerous. Lorenzo Borghese, a pilot of Italian royal descent who appeared in the ninth season of “The Bachelor” on ABC, recently hopped on a helicopter to the Hamptons to check out an $8.9 million estate he was interested in buying. He said that the skies were clogged enough already.

“Imagine taking a four-lane highway and making it smaller,” Mr. Borghese said. “It’s a horrible rule. The whole thing of the helicopters is to make things quicker.”

The regulations aim to stop almost 10 years of complaints from Long Island residents over the helicopters hovering endlessly above, especially during summer weekends. Mr. Schumer said that helicopter noise ranked in the top five complaints among his Long Island constituents.

“Talk to anyone who lives in scores of communities from Floral Park and Port Washington,” Mr. Schumer said. “It’s an awful disruption when you invested your savings in your home and you can’t enjoy your house or sit in the backyard from Memorial Day to Labor Day.”

Long Island residents, who often encounter noise from planes arriving and landing at Kennedy International Airport in addition to the helicopter noise, said they would welcome the change. Mary-Grace Tomecki, a Floral Park resident who lives near the train track route, said that during the summer helicopters passed overhead every five minutes and it sounded like “being in a blender.” She said it made it difficult to tend to the morning glories and tomatoes she grows.

“It would be an incredible improvement in quality of life,” Ms. Tomecki, an academic adviser at New York University, said of the ban. “It means actually being able to have a barbecue on Friday night and be able to talk.”

Long Island communities and politicians have been trying for years to reduce the noise. In 2008, the F.A.A. introduced voluntary regulations encouraging helicopter pilots to fly along the coast of the North Shore. Mr. Lorber added that local airports had also introduced rules. For example, helicopters at Southampton Heliport can take off only at certain times. Helicopter pilots who violate these rules could face fines and lose flying privileges.

Robert Grotell, special adviser to the Eastern Region Helicopter Council, said data showed that helicopter pilots had complied. A study his group conducted during the most recent Fourth of July weekend showed that 93 percent of helicopters followed the requests made by the F.A.A. He added that helicopter pilots had been using the central track route less frequently.

“We have been using the North Shore route, and our compliance numbers have been very, very high,” Mr. Grotell said.

But Long Island residents disagree and point to the endless racket they still hear above. Sue Auriemma, a stay-at-home mother who lives in Manhasset along the North Shore route, said that shortly after the voluntary rule was introduced, the noise dropped. But now she hears a helicopter pass over her home at 6:45 every morning that makes her windows and dishes vibrate. The helicopters continue through the day, she said, adding that her family tracks them online by the tail number, altitude and destination airport.

“It was as though the agreement went out the window,” Ms. Auriemma said.

The path to the proposed helicopter flight restrictions has been somewhat indirect. In May 2010, the F.A.A. proposed a rule mandating that helicopters traversing Long Island travel by a northern route and stay at least 2,500 feet in the air along the coastline. Mr. Schumer asked the F.A.A. to add a South Shore option.

After the proposals seemed to stall last year, Mr. Schumer tried to include them in an F.A.A. reauthorization bill that passed in the Senate. When that version fell through, Mr. Schumer started working with Ray LaHood, the transportation secretary, on an alternative.

Last month, the two men agreed that the F.A.A. would complete regulations for the North Shore route by Memorial Day and start enforcement by the Fourth of July weekend; plans for a South Shore route would be started in the coming months. Mr. Schumer said he was confident the regulations would move forward this time.

“I have the commitment from the secretary of transportation,” Mr. Schumer said. “He understands the problems.”

That decision worries helicopter industry leaders, who fear that the regulations will have national implications. Matt Zuccaro, president of the Helicopter Association International, said that for decades helicopter companies had worked with communities on a voluntary basis.

“If this is going to be the model where the F.A.A. is going to be mandated and react to every noise complaint or somebody saying, ‘I don’t like helicopters,’ I don’t know where the end of this is,” Mr. Zuccaro said. “Where are we supposed to fly?”

In pictures: Singapore Airshow

The Singapore Airshow is as much for defence deals as for commercial aviation. The region's pockets of instability, such as disputes in the South China Sea, ensure that countries continue to spend on their military capabilities.

Photo Gallery:

An air of kindness: Texas pilots provide free flights for people with serious medical conditions


Above: Robert Davis, left, and Jim Hurst are seen in front of their airplanes in a hangar at the East Texas Regional Airport.


Richard Hamilton checks a grounding strap Feb. 10 at the Gilmer Municipal Airport before fueling his plane for a flight to Houston. 


Dr. Richard Hamilton fuels his plane for a flight to Houston Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 at the Gilmer Municipal Airport.


Dr. Richard Hamilton pulls his Beechcraft from its hangar at the Gilmer Municipal Airport before a flight to Houston Friday, Feb. 10, 2012. 

Michael Cavazos
Grace Flight pilot Jim Hurst helps Holly Sanders of Decatur into his plane this past Sunday at Houston’s Hobby Airport before taking off for the East Texas Regional Airport. Sanders had reconstructive jaw surgery after having a tumor removed.
Atrio of Longview pilots are using their time and aircraft to benefit people with serious illnesses.

Robert Davis, Richard Hamilton and Jim Hurst are part of Grace Flight of America, an organization that provides free transportation to and from major medical centers for people with cancer or other life-threatening medical conditions. None of the three men are professional pilots — Davis and Hamilton are dentists, while Hurst owns an auto dealership.

“I like to fly, and I like to help people,” Hurst said. “This allows me to get some flying time in and feel like I’m actually accomplishing something, not just spending my time and money on a hobby.”

Hurst has been involved in the program for almost a decade and has flown more than 200 Grace Flights.

“The people you meet doing this are great,” Hurst said. “I realize how lucky I am when I’m providing transport for somebody with a serious illness.”

The majority of the flights are to or from Houston’s Hobby Airport, and most of the patients have cancer and are being treated at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. However, patients with a variety of ailments being treated in places around the country can and do take part in the program.

Pilots log onto the Grace Flight website to find out when transportation is needed and choose the flight that best suits their schedule. Longer flights are divided into legs, and a pilot can fly all or part of a route.

Hamilton is an Air Force veteran, although he didn’t learn to fly while in the service.

He is a relatively new participant to the program, having started flying with Grace Flight in 2008.

“It’s very rewarding,” Hamilton said. “I’ve only been flying for about six years, but participating in the Grace Flights is absolutely awesome. I’m glad I have the capability to be part of this program.”

Like the other two pilots, Hamilton had high praise for the ground crew volunteers and office staff of Grace Flight.

“They do a good job of coordinating schedules and making sure people are on hand to transport patients from the airport to the hospital,” Hamilton said. “It’s just a neat group of people and something that’s a lot of fun to be a part of.

“Unfortunately, because of the cost of fuel, it’s not something I can do quite as often as I’d like,” he said.

Recently, Hamilton has been spending most of his in-the-air time flying his father back and forth to Houston for medical treatment.

Davis took a break from flying for about a decade, when his children were small and his dental practice was getting established, but got back into it in 2007.

“Being part of Grace Flights allows me to really enjoy flying,” Davis said. “When I’m up there transporting a patient, I know I’m accomplishing something important, not just having fun.”

Davis said he was torn between commercial aviation and dentistry as a teenager. He finally decided to pursue dentistry professionally, because flying was something he could still do as a hobby.

“It wouldn’t have worked the other way around,” Davis said. “I don’t think people would have let me fix their teeth if I was only doing it for fun. Also, this has allowed me to retain the joy of flying; it’s not a job for me, it’s just a pleasure.”

Grace Flight is a needed program, he said. The network makes sure patients have door-to-door transportation from their home to the hospital and back.

“I believe God put us on this planet to be of service to one another, and being part of Grace Flights is one of the ways I try to serve both the Lord and other people,” Davis said.

“Everybody who’s involved with this program is very giving, very helpful,” Davis said. “I feel like I get way more back from it than what I put into it.”

About Grace Flight

Grace Flight of America does not require a passenger to meet financial guidelines to qualify for a flight. The group’s primary mission is to fly people for scheduled medical treatment not available locally, such as chemotherapy or specialized surgery.

The group asks that passengers have a compelling need before they ask for transportation.

The group’s pilots donate time, aircraft and expenses to help people who otherwise would not be able to travel for medical treatment.

Go to or call 1 (888) 500-0433 to find out about requirements and how to submit paperwork.

Shannon Airport’s future ‘lies in cargo’ (Ireland)

By Gordon Deegan
Monday, February 20, 2012

Shannon Airport is dead unless it is totally re-engineered, according to a leading Irish aviation executive.

Advancing the case for the outright privatisation of the airport, chief executive of Avolon, Dómhnal Slattery said "the private ownership of Shannon Airport could allow the airport to flourish".

Speaking at an Ennis Chamber of Commerce event, Mr Slattery said: "The reality is that Shannon has been moribund, strategically, for the last 15 years and we have to find a strategic future for it."

Mr Slattery began his aviation career at Shannon under Ryanair founder Tony Ryan at Guinness Peat Aviation.

Since establishing Avolon in May 2010, Mr Slattery has led the Dublin-based firm to raise $4 billion (€3bn) to create a portfolio of 95 aircraft with 26 airline customers in 18 countries.

Mr Slattery said it is very hard to rationalise Shannon’s existence as a passenger airport in Ireland in the 21st century because of the road network that exists now.

The Co Clare native said: "My feeling is the future for Shannon is not in passenger air travel.

"There will be passengers going in and out of there — we do need to have a hub airline, whether it is a low-cost carrier like Ryanair — but the future for Shannon lies in being a global cargo hub.

"Cargo is growing at twice the rate of passenger travel all over the world so cargo is a very sustainable business. It is the place to be and Shannon and its environs is ideally positioned and if you could turn it in to a global cargo hub, the number of people working in the airport would be multiplied dramatically."

He revealed: "We at Avolon have reached out to one or two of the very large cargo players to see if we can open up a strategic conversation about them coming to Shannon and if they won’t come, why not and what can we change to make them come?"

Leo Varadkar, the minister for transport, is examining options concerning the future ownership of Shannon and has already stated that the airport will remain in public ownership, arguing that it is a strategic national asset.

The Government is considering the option of selling an equity stake in the airport and Fianna Fáil transport spokesman Timmy Dooley said yesterday that complete privatisation is not the way to go for Shannon.

Mr Dooley, who attended the chamber of commerce function, said: "Mr Slattery deserves to be listened to, but I believe that the airport should remain in state ownership.

"If it was to be privatised, the focus would be solely on making profits rather than providing benefits for the wider region."

Clarinda man killed in crash after take-off. Schenck Field Airport (KICL) Clarinda, Iowa

Photo Credit:  Bob Eschliman

Crash scene investigators sift through the debris of an aircraft that crashed shortly after takeoff Sunday, Feb. 19, from Schenck Field-Clarinda Municipal Airport. The pilot of the aircraft, who has not yet been identified, died in the crash. No one else was aboard.

Bob Eschliman
Publisher, Clarinda Herald-Journal

A plane crash Sunday afternoon in a farm field south of Clarinda has claimed the life of a community business leader.

According to a press release from the Page County Sheriff's Office, a 9-1-1 call was received shortly after 1:30 p.m., reporting a small aircraft had crashed near a farm home in the 2300 block of R Avenue south of Clarinda. The pilot of the plane, 53-year-old Jac Crain of Clarinda, died at the scene.

According to other Clarinda-area pilots, Crain was scheduled to fly the BD-4 single-engine experimental aircraft owned by Crain Construction, also of Clarinda. Hunter Crawford, 12, was outside his home, approximately a half-mile from the crash scene, when he saw Crain's aircraft heading in a southwest direction at an altitude of approximately 200-300 feet.

He said the plane appeared to be turning back to Schenck Field-Clarinda Municipal Airport when the crash occurred. The debris field left behind was less than 200 yards from the farm home at 2345 R Ave.

"It was a white plane, a little too big to be a remote-controlled airplane," Crawford said. "It looked like it just couldn't regain altitude to get back. It hit the ground and immediately it was in a million pieces."

According the FAA records, Crain's aircraft was built in 2003 and was certified for airworthiness in 2005. The aircraft was an "amateur-build kit" with a Lycoming engine capable of speeds up to 190 mph. The BD-4 has been marketed for general aviation use since 1968, despite its experimental designation, and has a high safety rating, according to National Traffic Safety Bureau records.

Page County Sheriff Lyle Palmer said Crain was the only occupant in the aircraft when it crashed. Crawford said emergency crews were on the scene within two minutes. And, while there was some smoke associated with the crash, he said he did not see any fire.

Palmer said the Federal Aviation Administration is still investigating the cause of the crash.