Thursday, February 23, 2012

Funeral Arrangements Set For Gaby Humpal

CORPUS CHRISTI - Funeral arrangements have been announced for a local woman killed in plane crash in Colorado on Sunday.

A rosary for Gaby Humpal will be recited in Spanish on Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 6:30pm at Seaside Funeral Home.

There will also be a viewing on Sunday from 9:00am to 9:00pm at Seaside as well.

The funeral service for Gaby will be held Monday, February 27 at 11:30am at Bay Area Fellowship.

Bay Area Fellowship is located at 7451 Bay Area Drive.

The burial will follow at 1:00pm at Seaside Memorial Park.

Seaside Memorail Park is located at 4357 Ocean Drive.

Gaby was with her husband, Scott, and their three kids at the time of the crash.

They were on their way to Steamboat Springs for a ski trip.

The pilot, Hans Vandervlugt, was also killed.

Scott and the children continue recovering in Colorado.

  Regis#: 4772A        Make/Model: C414      Description: 414, Chancellor
  Date: 02/19/2012     Time: 2235

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Fatal     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Unknown

  City: HAYDEN   State: CO   Country: US


INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   2
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   1     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Pass:   5     Fat:   1     Ser:   4     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    

WEATHER: 2235Z 29010G14 1/4SM OVC004 M02/M03 A2962

  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: DENVER, CO  (NM03)                    Entry date: 02/21/2012 #

Ontario's air ambulance system frustrating doctors, politicians

An Ornge helicopter is seen in this file photo.
Photograph by: Chris Mikula/The Ottawa Citizen , The Windsor Star

WINDSOR, Ont. — An Ornge air ambulance that went to the wrong hospital earlier this month caused such a long delay that doctors at Windsor Regional Hospital rushed a newborn to Detroit instead of to nearby London, Ont., for emergency surgery.

Incidents like the one on Feb. 3 happen frequently enough that Windsor Regional has given doctors the go-ahead to send patients to Detroit if they think the air ambulance system will take too long to transport them to an Ontario hospital.

Health Minister Deb Matthews has faced calls for her resignation amid allegations of financial mismanagement and operational troubles at Ornge.

The CEO of Windsor Regional said hospital staff waited for four-and-a-half hours after calling for an air ambulance to transport the baby boy to a London hospital for emergency neonatal surgery, which can't be performed in Windsor. David Musyj said the doctors who sent the infant to Detroit made the right call. "They did a very appropriate, commendable plan with this particular patient and knock on wood, this little guy comes home."

Opposition parties have been relentlessly hammering the Liberals over Ornge. The Ontario Provincial Police is investigating some of its financial dealings.

Provincial Conservative member Frank Klees told the Ontario legislature on Thursday that a whistleblower at Ornge has told him of 13 incidents, which he said were part of a pattern of potentially deadly operational problems at Ornge.

Klees told the legislature that the information obtained from the whistleblower shows there were four consecutive nights in London and three in Sudbury when the air ambulances were grounded because there weren't enough pilots to fly them.

New Democrat member Taras Natyshak expressed frustration in the legislature Thursday with the difficulties investigating Ornge.

"That's no accident. Ornge has been designed that way," Natyshak said. "Why did the (Liberal Premier Dalton) McGuinty government design Ornge to be free from public scrutiny?"

Musyj said Windsor Regional decided last month to issue a written memo to clarify a long-held, commonly understood practice at the hospital: patients who can't wait for an air ambulance go to Detroit, regardless of what the central dispatching system says. So far, Musyj said OHIP has always covered the cost of the cross-border transfers, but if the province ever fights the hospital on it, Windsor Regional will foot the bill.

"What we're saying to our clinicians is, you make the call and we will support you as an organization. And that's very important. Clinicians need to hear that, because otherwise, arguably they're stuck in the middle. And we don't want them to feel that way," he said. "We do not want money to be the driving decision maker here. We want the patients' needs to drive the decision."

In 2011, Ornge transported nine patients from the Windsor Regional to other health-care facilities in Canada. An additional 52 were transported to Michigan hospitals.

So many patients are sent to Michigan because it's close, not because of Ornge's troubles, Musyj said. But other places in Ontario don't have that option.

"Not every community is Windsor. They don't have that safety valve. When they need to transport a patient out of their community, they need to use Ornge."

Musyj said he welcomes the police investigation into Ornge. "We have to now bring back confidence in the system, the air ambulance system in this province. And bringing the OPP in to investigate the financial misadventures is very appropriate, needs to happen."

Meanwhile, the baby boy is still in hospital in Detroit, where he will remain until his condition is stable enough to transport him back to London or Windsor. His twin sister is still in the neonatal intensive care unit of Windsor Regional, where she is doing well, Musyj said.

Pakistan - Retrieval of Walton land Plane crash strengthens Punjab government case

LAHORE, Feb 23: The crash of a two-seater plane in Model Town seems to have strengthened the Punjab government’s case to retrieve its land at Walton from the Civil Aviation Authority.

“The Punjab government has long been asking the CAA to return its land at Walton but the latter refuses on one or the other pretext,” a representative of the Punjab government told Dawn.

“Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has taken a strong exception to the incident and steps will be taken to ensure shifting of the flying clubs from the residential area,” Dr Saeed Elahi, a parliamentary secretary on health, said.

He further said the Punjab government also wanted expansion of the road network at Walton because of traffic issues.

A CAA official confirmed that the authority only owned the land of the runway while the remaining tract belonged to the provincial government.

“After the sad incident, it will not be easy to retain the provincial government’s land,” he said. However, he said, unless the provincial government offered the authority an alternate place the shifting of the flying clubs from Walton was not possible.

“The flying clubs cannot be stopped from functioning as they are part and parcel of the aviation field,” he said.

On the other hand, some PIA engineers have blamed the Civil Aviation Authority for not having a strict check on the operations of the flying clubs.

“The CAA is lenient in dealing with some four flying clubs at the Walton Road. As we have seen the poor condition of most of the planes, there should be a strict monitoring of the aircraft the flying clubs are using,” a senior engineer told Dawn. He said now the CAA should review its “lenient” policy towards the flying clubs. Besides, it should also consider the proposal of shifting these clubs from the residential areas.

Another engineer said the CAA must make public the findings of the investigation into the incident so that other flying clubs in the country could take appropriate safety measures .

FOX 5 INVESTIGATIVE REPORT: Air Traffic Controllers Caught On Video

Updated: Thursday, 23 Feb 2012, 10:04 PM EST
Published : Thursday, 23 Feb 2012, 10:04 PM EST


MYFOXNY.COM - Westchester County Airport is a growing destination for seven different commercial airlines, from JetBlue to U.S. Airways and its one of the busiest airports in the country serving the corporate world.

Seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., air traffic controllers guide flights serving nearly 2 million passengers a year.

Sometimes 100 planes take off and land in an hour.

A source, that Fox 5 News is not identifying, says, "I'm upset and extremely concerned with things taking place at Westchester tower."

Risking a career or worse, the Westchester controller that is Fox 5's informant, documented many instances where fellow controllers had their eyes anywhere but on air traffic.

We're talking about sleeping, reading, texting.

"It poses an extreme threat to public safety. If someone's not paying attention 100%, attention, between separating arriving and departing air traffic, you could have a near miss or worse."

The video and photos provided to Fox 5 News appear to show up to ten air traffic controllers at Westchester Airport, where the job is all about watchfulness.

They are supposed to be scanning the skies, bringing incoming flights in safely and sending departing airplanes off without incident but some look more like dozing passengers. They are apparently sleeping in the control tower while on duty, others reading, or playing with their cell phones, or working their laptops.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules stipulate that "cellphones must be in the off position while in the operation. Personal reading material and electronic devices are not permitted in operational areas."

The FAA wouldn't agree to an on-camera interview with Fox 5 News. It did, however, provide an explanation.

The FAA sent Fox 5 News a statement saying, in part, that the elevator at the Westchester tower is out of service and because the permanent break room is eight flights downstairs, both the controllers union and the FAA came to an agreement to make the back portion of the tower cab the temporary break room.

In an email to Fox 5 News, an FAA spokesperson said, "The use of cell phones is strictly prohibited in the tower, however, employees have temporarily been permitted to use devices for texting and e-mail only on their personal breaks, but not when on position directing air traffic."

But, according to Fox 5's source, the video shows controllers sleeping and using electronic devices while in position on the job in the tower, which the FAA says is not allowed.

Under no circumstances are air traffic controllers ever allowed to sleep anywhere in the tower. But Fox 5's source says controllers have been sleeping and using distracting devices at the Westchester tower for years, well before the elevator broke.

The source also says it is not difficult to get distracted while in the tower. The control tower is a small, confined 5-sided room and approximately 12-feet in diameter.

And air traffic insiders say sleeping on the job is the worst kept secret in the industry. At least six air traffic controllers across the country were caught napping last year.

Anne Whiteman was an air traffic controller at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport for 26 years. She left in 2009. She made headlines after blowing the whistle on the FAA for covering up what she described as serious errors and safety violations.

"We had a controller that actually fell asleep and you can hear him snoring over the frequency because he fell over and keyed his microphone button," Whitman says.

The FAA investigated Whiteman's claims, and found its Dallas managers were intentionally covering up mistakes. It vowed to clean up the system.

Four years later, the FAA tells Fox 5 News that the agency "is committed to ensuring the safety of our nation's airspace for the traveling public" and pointed to what it called "a landmark agreement with controllers to reduce fatigue."

The FAA made work rule changes including, giving controllers an extra hour of rest time in between shifts and requiring FAA managers to work more early morning and late night hours to ensure greater coverage.

The Fox 5 News source says it has not helped.

"It hasn't changed one thing at Westchester tower; the way people sleep on the job," the source says.

Alan Yurman is a retired safety investigator for the NTSB. He says it's vital that every member of the team in the tower pays close attention-even during the hours when air traffic slows down.

Yurman says, "It's sort of like a traffic cop, a traffic cop at school when its busy directing traffic and all of a sudden he decides, 'Oh, the traffic's not that bad. I'm gonna go in my car and take a nap' and some little kid comes out of school 'cause he's called home or something, and walk across the street and gets hit by a car. Is that ok?"

"You never know. You have to be ready from the minute you sign on until the minute you sign off," Yurman says.

In video from the Westchester tower provided to Fox 5 News, a supervisor is openly using his personal laptop.

He's supposed to be overseeing the tower crew.

Whiteman says, "He should be fired tomorrow if this video is of a supervisor working on his personal computer."

The consequences of not paying careful attention could not be more serious.

In 2009, a tour helicopter and a small plane collided over the Hudson River.

The controller, based at Teterboro Airport, was found to be working alone, yet on the phone conducting personal business.

Video provided to Fox 5 News showed a Westchester controller with his head down on a desk.

On another day, the same controller appears to be trying to find a comfortable resting position. Part of his problem could be the headset that he uses to communicate with pilots that he was wearing.

"I can't tell what position he's working but he's waiting for the next pilot to call and wake him up that's his alarm clock," Whiteman says.

Another piece of video shows another controller seeming to be fast asleep while he was supposed to be working ground control.

Other video shows two controllers. One appears to be playing on his smart phone while the other controller appears to have fallen asleep while reading his book. Sleeping and reading are both major infractions in the tower.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) sponsored legislation to ensure pilots have adequate rest between shifts and additional training requirements after a fatal 2009 crash near Buffalo.

Asked about her reaction to the video she said, "It's quite concerning. I travel with my children. In fact, just this weekend we came home to see our family. I had both my children on a flight with me. I want to make sure they are traveling in a safe environment."

She wants the FAA to take a careful look at the video and photos obtained by Fox 5 News.

Gillibrand says, "These images are extremely disturbing. If that is indeed the case, then our air traffic controllers falling asleep on the job has to be reviewed and investigated in full."

Last June, four people: pilot Keith Weiner, his wife, their 14 year old daughter and her young friend died in a fiery crash after their small plane plunged and burned in Armonk, just after take off from the Westchester airport.

The plane was heading north. It tried to circle back to the airport before crashing into a heavily wooded area.

The last audio transmissions heard were between Weiner and a controller at Tracon. Tracon deals with traffic en route in the New York area. The transmissions show the pilot urgently wanted to return to the Westchester airport.

The final cause of the crash has not been determined but the informant tells Fox 5 News that the controller in charge was not in the tower during the accident.

The informant says the supervisor was out of the tower for approximately an hour and forty-five minutes prior to the crash.

"Right before he left tower cab he announced he was going down to grade papers."

The pilot's last recorded transmission shows he was unable to make contact with Westchester tower for an unknown reason.

The FAA told Fox 5 News the audio indicates the pilot, Keith Weiner was "communicating with an entirely different air traffic facility."

Yurman says, "No, not that he can't get a hold of anybody, his emergency might be so great he doesn't have enough time to go back to the radios and change frequencies back to the tower."

The controller in charge that day, had nothing to say when contacted by Fox 5 News.

Fox 5 News contacted the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. It has not provided an official response. Fox 5 News also contacted each of the controllers shown in the video. None of them wanted to speak to Fox 5 news.

The Westchester County Airport Manager had not comment and referred Fox 5 News to the FAA.

The FAA says it consolidates the controllers positions and rotates them several times per shift, based on the complexity and volume of air traffic. However, controllers who fail to perform their duties because they are sleeping on the job, can be suspended or fired. The FAA also tells Fox 5 News that air traffic controller management became aware of a portable television stored in the tower. Since then, it has been removed and it is investigating the matter.

Last year, another whistleblower came out alleging controllers at the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center were endangering passengers by chatting, texting and even watching movies when they should be monitoring planes. That is still under investigation.

No Happy Landing After Airplane Sale

Ben Engel
Business Lawyer

Dean C. B. Freeman’s LLC sold its airplane for $300,000 in 2007. It didn’t turn out to be a happy landing.

Mr. Freeman was the sole member and manager of Tradewinds Group, LLC. According to a recent decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals, in 2006 Tradewinds sued Robert C. Martin for allegedly breaching a contract to build an airplane hangar. While the lawsuit was pending, Tradewinds sold the airplane, its only meaningful asset, and distributed the sale proceeds to Freeman, who was paying its litigation expenses. Tradewinds initially won the lawsuit, but that judgment was reversed on appeal. Mr. Martin was declared the prevailing party and was awarded $36,645.40 in costs.

But by that time, the LLC had no assets to pay, due to the sale of the airplane. Normally, an LLC owner is not responsible for the LLC’s debts, but courts can pierce that veil of protection in certain cases. Martin successfully sued Freeman personally, persuading the court to pierce the veil and hold Freeman personally liable for the cost award because Freeman had gotten the airplane sale proceeds.

Freeman appealed, resulting in turbulence within the Colorado appeals court. Two judges upheld the veil piercing, holding Freeman liable because he received the airplane sale proceeds at a time when the LLC was subject to potential liability from its lawsuit against, such as the cost award. The court said that action defeated any rightful potential claims by Martin.

But one judge dissented, stating that the veil should only be pierced if the LLC form was misused in a manner that was criminal, unlawful or intended to defeat a creditor’s claim, which he said didn’t happen here. He pointed out that when Freeman received the sale proceeds, he believed Tradewinds still had enough value to cover any reasonably possible LLC debts on the horizon. He also said that after a company’s primary asset is sold, it makes sense for the company to be dissolved and its assets distributed to the owners. He also noted that the sale took place two years before any obligation to Martin arose, and Martin had asserted no counterclaim in the underlying lawsuit.

Legal brief.  The case discussed is Martin v. Freeman (Colo. Ct. App. Div. VII, February 2, 2012). Appeal of trial court judgment piercing LLC veil. Held, judgment affirmed. Defendant held LLC’s alter ego. On matter of first impression, use of corporate form to defeat rightful claim held not to require showing of wrongful intent or bad faith. Dissenting judge believed that rightful claim prong of veil piercing test not satisfied by showing of cause and effect absent wrongful conduct.

Modesto Airport: Man Charged With Conspiracy to Steal Federal Property

(Press Release) U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that 22-year-old Kody Estepp of Modesto, made his initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Gary S. Austin on charges of conspiring to steal federal property from the Modesto Airport.

According to the criminal complaint filed last week, Estepp and his co-conspirators broke into lighting towers around the Modesto Airport on several occasions in January 2012. After breaking into the lighting towers, they stole copper wire from the enclosed lighting systems, causing three of the four Medium Intensity Approach Lighting Systems of the Modesto Airport to malfunction. The stolen copper wire is owned by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Copper wire theft is a problem of epidemic proportions in Modesto, California,” said Modesto Police Department Sergeant Aaron Tait, Supervisor of the Crime Reduction Unit. “It is more than a nuisance as it can endanger critical infrastructure and public safety. Combating copper wire theft is a priority of the Modesto Police Department. We are working in collaboration with state and federal agencies to arrest and prosecute those who steal copper wire.”

This case is the result of an investigation by the Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General and the Modesto Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Grant B. Rabenn is prosecuting the case.

If convicted of the charges, Estepp faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Anyone with information about recent copper wire thefts can call Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Tipsters also can e-mail tips through the Crime Stoppers Web site,, or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing "Tip704" plus your message. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.


— Be watchful and report any suspicious activity.

— Most thefts occur on street lights overnight.

— Thieves usually break into the street light poles and cut the copper wires before leaving.

— Thieves will return later and pull the copper wire from the poles.

— A sudden outage on a street light could be a sign that the wires have been cut and will be pulled.

— Report to police anyone who appears to be working on a street light and does not have a City of Modesto or a Modesto Irrigation District uniform.

Source: Modesto Police Department

Read more here:

Copter crash probe to look at preventive tech

As Marine Corps investigators scour the wreckage of two helicopters that collided near Yuma, Ariz., killing seven Marines, they are likely to consider whether advanced technology designed to prevent midair collisions could avert such incidents in the future, a Marine spokesman said Thursday.

The Marines, six from Camp Pendleton, Calif., and one from Yuma, were training for deployment to Afghanistan when their AH-1W Cobra and UH-1Y Huey crashed at about 8 p.m. Wednesday in a remote section of the Yuma Training Range Complex.

Marine investigators Thursday began combing through the wreckage, communication logs and flight plans at the outset of two investigations, said 1st Lt. Tyler Balzer, spokesman for Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, north of San Diego.

One investigation will seek to assign responsibility for the crash, and the other will look at how to make inherently dangerous combat training safer, Balzer said.

Advanced technology for avoiding midair collisions will “certainly” have a role in the safety investigation, which will also look at equipment maintenance, training and procedures leading up to the crash, Balzer said.

“Whenever they look at something like this, they look at what technologies the Marine Corps could try to develop to prevent” a similar accident, he said.

Since 1980, the Navy has recorded 33 aviation incidents with seven or more fatalities, according to April Phillips of the Naval Safety Center in Norfork, Va.

In 1999, the Navy mandated installation of collision-avoidance systems on new and existing Navy aircraft. The Navy has also been testing radar technology to help airmen avoid midair collisions, but it was not installed on the types of aircraft involved in Wednesday’s crash.

The UH-1Y Huey and the AH-1W aircraft are equipped with lights visible by day and night and with night-vision goggles, says Capt. Brian Block, spokesman for Headquarters Marine Corps. No other midair-collision-avoidance systems are installed on the UH-1Y or the AH-1W aircraft, Block said.

The Cobra and Huey were training together, carrying explosives, along with at least two other aircraft, according to Col. Robert Kuckuk, air station commander for the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma.

The Yuma range, with its desert terrain, is similar to what Marines would encounter in Afghanistan, and the aircraft used are identical to those used in combat, said Cpl. Steven Posy, a Miramar spokesman.

Adding technology to combat helicopters would have to be carefully considered, because weight and space are scarce, said Jay Brown, executive director of the Combat Helicopter Pilots Association, a veterans group.

Brown, who flew combat missions in Vietnam, over the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War and in Operation Desert Storm, said any technology that uses radar or emits a radio frequency could be self-defeating.

“Radar is a transmitter, and the people you’re fighting, the enemy, have the capability to detect transmitters,” Brown said. “It would be tantamount to flying across the battlefield with a big red flag. You might as well turn your lights up and say, ‘Here I am.’ “

Trinity Helicopters pilot looking to introduce girls to aviation

Yellowknife, N.W.T. - A local female pilot has made it her goal to get more girls in the sky.

Kirsten Brazier is organizing a Women of Aviation World Wide Week event here in Yellowknife called “Skies No Limit - Girls Fly Too” and she is doing it all by herself.

Brazier said that only around five to six per cent of pilots in North America are women, something she wants to change.

“I’ve lived all over the North, bush flying on both floats and skis, and a lot of the time, in fact, I would say most of the time, I’ve been the only woman for a great distance around me,” she said. “I just find that really disappointing.”

Brazier attributes the low numbers to women not seeing it as a possible career for them and she hopes the event next month will open girls up to the idea.

She said girls ages eight to 19 will have the chance to take a free helicopter ride to show them the joys of flying.

“There’s something really incredible that happens when you put someone in an aircraft that they’ve never flown in before and it’s just the most magical thing,” she said. “It’s just like a Disney experience. You can’t even put it into words, but it usually results in a huge smile.”

She hopes to take 500 girls for a ride during the event.

Plane clips building at Prince Albert Airport: No injuries were suffered

Cariboo Air Dash 8 airplane, paNOW.

An airplane clipped a terminal building at the Prince Albert Airport yesterday when the plane was attempting to move into a parking position.

“All we know is that the plane’s wing tip clipped the overhang on the terminal building, so it’s very minor damage,” said Gail Summerfelt, manager of the Prince Albert airport.

She added the part of the building hit was just a crawlspace and was not structurally important.

“I don’t know about the plane because I’m not a plane expert, but very minor damage to the building. And it will be under investigation.”

Sommerfelt acknowledged that there were people in the building at the time, but no one was injured and there were no passengers on the plane at the time of the incident.

“It was moving slow, like a turtle and it just grazed the corner of the building. Like I said, not very much damage.”

The plane involved was a North Cariboo Air Dash 8.

Beechcraft 58 Baron, United Aviation Associates LLC, N99EZ: Accident occurred February 23, 2012 in Cypress, Texas

NTSB Identification: CEN12LA169
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, February 23, 2012 in Cypress, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/13/2013
Aircraft: BEECH 58, registration: N99EZ
Injuries: 1 Serious,1 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 pilot was performing an instrument approach to his destination airport. After the airplane descended beneath the clouds on the approach, both engines experienced a total loss of power. Examination of the airplane revealed that there was no usable fuel aboard.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's improper preflight planning/preparation and in-flight fuel management, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion during the approach to the destination airport.

On February 23, 2012, about 1859 central standard time, a Beech 58, N99EZ, experienced a total loss of engine power on both engines during a visual approach to West Houston Airport (IWS), Houston, Texas. The pilot subsequently made a forced landing about 7 miles northwest of IWS and near Cypress, Texas. The commercial pilot sustained serious injuries and the passenger was uninjured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wing. The airplane was registered to United Aviation Associates LLC and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Night marginal visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan had not been filed for the flight that originated from Vicksburg Municipal Airport, Vicksburg, Mississippi, and was destined for IWS.

A National Transportation Safety Board Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report, Form 6120.1, was not received from the pilot.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration inspector, the pilot requested and received a local instrument flight rules clearance to IWS. The pilot received radar vectors for a global positioning system runway 15 approach. The pilot then requested and was issued a visual approach clearance. The cloud height became lower, and the pilot began to descend. Air traffic control warned the pilot that they received a low altitude alert, which was then followed by the right engine running rough. The pilot turned on the fuel pump and the engine began to run smooth. The pilot thought that the engine driven fuel pump had failed. Both engines then experienced a total loss of engine power and the pilot attempted a forced landing to a baseball field. There were children on the field and the pilot attempted to land on a road next to the field. The airplane touched down on a school playground and the landing gear collapsed. The airplane slid for about 100 feet and struck a telephone pole tearing the wing near the engine cowling. There was no evidence of usable fuel present in the airplane fuel tanks.

The pilot was trying to land at West Houston Airport about 7 p.m. when he had mechanical problems with his Beechcraft Baron 58, officials said.

At first, the pilot attempted to land in a baseball field near Fry Road and Cypress North Houston.

"As he got closer to the field, he noticed there were kids there," said trooper John Sampa, of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

He was finally forced to set down in a small patch of land behind Warner Elementary School, 10400 Warner Smith Boulevard.

The force of the impact sheared off the right wing of the twin-engine airplane, then struck a wooden fence separating the school from a neighborhood. Flying debris caused minor damage to a house, Sampa said.

"I give great credit to the pilot for landing the way he did," Sampa said.

The pilot was taken to Memorial Hermann Katy for evaluation. He did not appear to have any visible injuries and was able to walk away from the plane, officials said.

Sampa didn't know if the pilot was able to trigger a mayday alert before landing.

The pilot, who is in his 30s, and the plane are from Vicksburg, Miss. Sampa said the pilot was coming to the Houston airport to pick up a passenger.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

The pilot has not been identified.

HOUSTON – A small plane made a crash landing Thursday in the playground of an elementary school in northwest Harris County, Harris County Precinct 5 deputies said.

It happened around 7 p.m. at Warner Elementary School in the 10700 block of Fry Road.

The plane did not hit any buildings, but houses may have gotten debris, officials said.

The pilot was taken to the hospital for cautionary reasons.

No injuries were reported.

A twin-engine plane has crash landed on the playground of Warner Elementary School in the Cypress area. The plane went into fences of some houses then crash landed on the school's property. The pilot was transported to an area hospital by ambulance and was alive, and but his condition wasn't immediately known. A Cy-Fair ISD spokesperson says the plane missed the school and no damage was done to the building. The campus is expected to resume classes Friday.

Hang-glider impaled by tree branch

WOOD IN LEG: A 59-year-old man's leg is impaled with a piece of wood after a hang gliding accident at Fairhaven yesterday. 

A 59-YEAR-OLD man was impaled by a three-inch thick tree branch in a hang gliding mishap near Fairhaven yesterday.

Surgeons at Melbourne's The Alfred hospital last night removed the 60cm-long branch that pierced his leg when he struck a tree at 30km/h in bushland near the Fairhaven Surf Life Saving Club.

It took paramedics about 15 minutes to negotiate the thick scrub to get to the man, who sat beneath a tree in pain.

He was flown to The Alfred with the branch through his leg and resting against his femur shortly after 4pm, more than two hours after being impaled.

Ambulance Victoria paramedic Belinda Owsley said the man lost control of the hang glider about 2pm, crashing into the forest.

"He's seen some powerlines and diverted to avoid them," she said.

"He was travelling at 30km/h and he's struck a tree and one of the branches has penetrated his right leg just above the knee. The branch has snapped off on impact."

Ms Owsley said paramedics were forced to stabilise the man with doses of morphine and ensure the branch remained still in his leg to avoid bursting an artery.

"We had to leave it in. They (doctors) need to X-ray the leg to determine whether it's near any arteries and it's likely the surgeons will remove it," she said.

"The area of the leg it's in, there's a possibility it's close to the femoral artery, which is quite dangerous."

Ms Owsley said it was a difficult extrication for paramedics.

The man underwent emergency surgery last night and was in a stable condition when the Geelong Advertiser went to print.

Corpus Christi Army Depot celebrates military aircraft engine milestone

CORPUS CHRISTI — Whether in the deserts around Bagram Air Field or the mountainous region of Tora Bora, Afghanistan offers terrain like no other American armed forces have fought in before, Col. Christopher Carlile said.

Takeoff, maneuvering and landing of Black Hawk and Apache helicopters takes reliable engines that give pilots power when they need it most.

For the Afghanistan War effort, that engine evolved into the General Electric T701D conversion engine — 2,000 shaft horsepower, twice as durable and 5 percent more potent than its previous version — and all rebuilt, upgraded and readied for battle at the Corpus Christi Army Depot.

The essential mission has saved soldiers' lives, said Carlile, commander of the depot.

"Remember, take care of the soldier and everything else takes care of itself," Carlile told workers and others gathered Thursday at CCAD's Engine Test Cell Facility.

On Thursday, the team of maintenance, repair and overhaul workers celebrated its 3,000th engine overhaul, a milestone which depot, company and union officials hailed as a fitting symbol of pride for the 6,000-worker facility that generates an economic impact of more than $2 billion to the Coastal Bend.

"These engines support the most advanced fighting force the world has ever seen," said Roderick Benson, CCAD director of engine production, adding the work is an example of the faith the military has in the workers of South Texas.

The engine overhaul program began in February 2006 using kits developed by General Electric. Since then, workers have installed about 855,000 parts to upgrade the engines.

The work is the product of a government-business partnership between the depot and General Electric that began in 2000, when the depot and the company entered a technical and engineering services supplies contract for the T700 family of engines.

The agreement brought in General Electric's technical support to work alongside depot employees, company site manager Tony Conrad said.

Carlile said the results have been a boost to business for General Electric and a boost in efficiency and cost savings for the government, which has shifted the focus from profits to serving soldiers.

"Our profit is reducing cost," Carlile said. "That money we save goes back to the taxpayers."

The engines are rebuilt and upgraded at a cost of about $400,000 each. They would each cost $900,000 bought new, Carlile said.

The Army has saved about $6 million since the program began.

The partnership has reduced the average time needed to turn around engine projects from 261 days to 78 days, and the amount of time an engine stays in use has increased 18 percent, Conrad said.

The work could continue for another four or five years as workers serve a fleet of about 8,000 aircraft, Conrad said.

Savage storm rips-off hangar doors

Advance Aviation employees can’t believe their eyes on Wednesday morning.

EMERALD charter company Advance Aviation was counting its blessings after extreme wind gusts ripped hangar doors from hinges during a storm at Emerald Airport on Tuesday evening.

"When I heard the noise, I had no idea what it was," chief pilot and chief executive Alec Mercer said.

As luck would have it, the hangar was unusually empty at the time, with most of the fleet parked well away from the doors.

"I heard a loud bang and rushed out to see what the noise was all about and found what I found," Mr Mercer said.

"We were very lucky there was nobody working in the shed at the time.

"If the storm had happened earlier in the day it might have been a different story."

It is believed severe wind created a vacuum in the hangar, ripping the doors outwards.

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting afternoon storms and showers throughout the Central Highlands during the weekend.

"At this stage, we can't tell how severe they will be," bureau senior forecaster Mike Marrinan said.

"On the day, if they are going to be severe, we will issue a warning and let people know. The atmosphere is very unstable throughout much of Queensland at the moment."

He said 100-200mm had fallen in some parts of the Central Highlands during the past few days. Some hail was reported in Emerald on Tuesday.

Are those drones over Boise? Yes

BOISE, Idaho (WTW) — Idaho Power Co. fish biologist Phil Groves doesn't want to see any more of his colleagues injured or killed in helicopter crashes while doing research.

So he has embraced technology typically used by the military and hobbyists: drone aircraft.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game frequently surveys salmon nests in streams and tributaries. It's common practice to use planes and helicopters for biologists' annual wildlife counts.

In August 2010, a helicopter chartered by Fish and Game crashed in Downtown Kamiah, killing biologists Larry Barrett and Danielle Schiff and pilot Perry Krinitt.

"It really struck home hard for me," Groves said. "I had flown in that helicopter. I had known Larry Barrett very well. ... Gosh, I had been in that helicopter many times. That could have been me."

To find a safer, more affordable way to count fish nests, Groves used his research skills to find a good alternative. Idaho Power ended up investing about $16,000 in small, maneuverable, remote-controlled aircraft from Germany called Hexakopters.

Groves and his Idaho Power colleagues sometimes test their little aircraft, with red and blue LED lights flashing, in a Garden City field near the Boise River.

"If someone has seen it flying around they'd say 'What the heck is that?' " Groves said.

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan die down, technology used by the military is being scaled down, reinvented and adapted for civilian purposes.

That includes remote aircraft, which the Federal Aviation Administration terms unmanned aircraft systems. The rest of the world calls them UAVs — unmanned aerial vehicles — or just drones.

The FAA worries about interference with commercial air traffic — and drones don't have technology like airplanes do to help them avoid in-air collisions.

Also, drones come in a huge range of sizes and with varying degrees power and operator abilities. Crashes pose a serious risk to those below, officials say.

So the FAA said it wouldn't allow any but government and hobbyist use of the machines.

But earlier this month, Congress inserted language into an FAA funding bill allowing broader use of drones — after intense lobbying by drone makers and potential customers.

Under the new law, within 90 days the FAA must allow police and first-responders to fly drones under 4.4 pounds, as long as they keep them within 400 feet of the ground and meet other requirements. The agency must also allow for "the safe integration" of all kinds of drones into U.S. airspace, including those for commercial uses, by Sept. 30, 2015.

It must also come up with a plan for certifying operators and handling airspace safety issues, among other rules.

The agency probably will not be making privacy rules for drones. Although federal law until now had prohibited drones except for recreational use or for some waiver-specific law-enforcement purposes, the agency had issued only warnings, never penalties, for unauthorized uses, a spokeswoman said.

For drone makers, the change in the law comes at a particularly good time. With the winding down of the war in Afghanistan, where drones have been used to gather intelligence and fire missiles, these manufacturers have been awaiting lucrative new opportunities at home.

The market for drones is valued at $5.9 billion and is expected to double in the next decade, according to industry figures. Drones can cost millions of dollars for the most sophisticated varieties to as little as $300 for one that can be piloted from an iPhone.

"We see a huge potential market," said Ben Gielow of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a drone maker trade group.

The U.S. Geological Survey recently took over a fleet of decommissioned military drones and partners with research organizations for special projects.

One beneficiary of that arrangement was Jennifer Forbey, an associate professor of biology at Boise State University.

In July, Forbey and partners at the USGS and the University of Idaho used drones in the southern Idaho desert east of Magic Reservoir to map the habitat of pygmy rabbits.

A video camera was mounted on a remote-controlled airplane. Previously, Forbey had to map sagebrush from the ground. The rabbits use sagebrush as food and shelter.

"If you walk out there, it would take months," Forbey said. "(The USGS drones) are filling in a big gap."

Meanwhile, Idaho Power's Groves is in a multi-year test of his drones against the traditional helicopter method for counting salmon nests in Idaho waterways with dams.

So far, the data gathered via Hexakopter are right on, Groves said. And no biologists have been hurt or killed in the process.

Groves will admit to a few broken Hexakopter blades when he's crashed the units. But they are easy to fix.

Leo Geis is the owner of Idaho Airships, a Boise aerial photography firm. He'd embraced the drone as a tool until the FAA said no one could use them for commercial use.

"I had some gorgeous Swiss-made helicopters," said Geis, a former air traffic controller. "When the FAA came out with their statement, I sold everything to one guy."

These days, Geis rents helicopters or planes for his photography work.

In inexperienced hands, drones can hurt or kill people, he said. His drones had 5.5-horsepower engines with 6-foot-long blades, he said. He described them as giant food processors, traveling between 30 and 50 mph.

"For a couple thousand bucks or less you can buy something that will kill someone, that has no maintenance regulation, no pilot certification," Geis said. The operators "can have five hours under their belt and try to do this for a living."

One local photographer is doing just that, advertising online the use of drone photos to sell high-end real estate in Eagle, Meridian and Boise. That photographer didn't return calls from the Idaho Statesman.

Less restrictive rules for drones are on the horizon, but that doesn't explain what Boise residents are seeing in their skies.

They could be drones, or could be anything, Geis said.

It's hard to tell the size of moving aircraft from a distance, he said. And Boise police, Meridian police and the Air Force based at Gowen Field say they don't have or use any drones.

The Idaho National Guard base is now sporting a newer, smaller helicopter, Col. Tim Marsano said. And Geis notes that some very tiny helicopters are being used by training schools in the Treasure Valley.

"They are common and they do a lot of work," Geis said. "They could very easily be mistaken for a drone or an unmanned vehicle."

Lahore, Pakistan - Remains of deceased Cessna pilots handed to relatives

LAHORE: Dead bodies of both pilots who were killed in a Cessna plane crash have been handed over to their relatives here in Lahore, Geo News reported.

Earlier, the bodies of both flying instructor Anita Qureshi and an under-training pilot Faisal Waqar were taken to Jinnah Hospital for autopsy.

The bodies would be flown to Karachi for burial.

The unfortunate private plane crashed in the porch of a house in the Model Town area of Lahore on Thursday killing the trainee pilot and instructor.

Flying Into Profitability? Why Air India Express is planning to return or sublease four of its 21 aircraft

In a bid to turn profitable independent of its parent, Air India Express is keen on returning or subleasing four of its fleet of 21 B737-800 aircraft and reducing the revenue sharing with Air India from 25 per cent to 12.5 per cent. Air India Express’s losses have also been mounting along with those of its parent company and now stand at Rs 1,500 crore (accumulated losses).

But these are, however, a small fraction of Air India’s accumulated losses, which according to some recent estimates have touched a jaw-dropping Rs 20,320 crore. Also, the airline is saddled with working capital loans of Rs 21,200 crore, fleet acquisition loans of Rs 22,000 crore and vendor dues of Rs 4,600 crore.

According to company sources, Air India Express has neither the pilots nor the routes to utilise 21 aircraft. Moreover, some of the aircraft that have been taken on lease are very expensive and, in some cases, they have almost no exit clauses built in.

According to airline officials, the carrier currently has 102 commanders whereas for its 21 aircraft fleet, it needs a minimum of 130. This is likely to go up once the new norms for duty hours for night flying come in.

As per the new rules, if one crosses two time zones in a day, then the rest period should be doubled. Since the Air India Express model was based on night flying, this will affect its operations a lot; it basically means having more pilots for the same aircraft.

Of the 21 aircraft, 17 are owned by Air India and four are on lease. Earlier, the airline had four more on lease, which they managed to return. But officials say the airline can do with returning another four planes as these are costing $1.2 million a month in lease rentals alone. “We are unable to utilise so many aircraft. We don’t have the pilots, but even more important, we don’t have that many routes and don’t require this size of fleet,” says one official. According to him, the ideal fleet size for the carrier is 18.

With not enough pilots and with a change in the duty-hour requirements for pilots on night-flying (which are due to come into force later this month), the airline is keen to sublease some of these planes. “The demand for B737s is quite high and we are exploring whether we can sublease these planes,” says an official.

The second factor that has been leading to losses is the fact that the airline has to share a large percentage of its gross passenger revenue with Air India from which it sources many services. “Which airline is profitable to this extent? If 25 per cent of the revenue goes, clearly Air India Express will remain heavily loss making,” says one official. It had been decided by Arvind Jadhav, the former chairman and managing director, that this revenue share would be cut by half to 12.5 per cent, which will give the airline a better chance for survival.

The civil aviation ministry and airline analysts argue that Air India Express could be hived off from the main company to effect a turnaround.

Broken Bow police arrest two, seize drugs, more than $100,000. Broken Bow Municipal Airport/Keith Glaze Field (KBBW), Nebraska

BROKEN BOW — Officers from Broken Bow Police Department seized drugs, paraphernalia and more than $100,000 in cash late Monday night after apprehending two men accused of leaving the scene of a hit-and-run accident.

In a press release, Police Chief Steve Scott said the two men were en route to from Chicago back to California by plane when bad weather forced them to land at the Broken Bow Airport Sunday night. The men borrowed an airport courtesy car and stayed at a local motel.

The accident led to the arrest of the driver and second man who was the pilot of a plane. The pilot gave consent to a search of the plane, and that is where the cash was found.

For more on this story, check back here or see Friday’s Hub.

1 still critical after hangar collapse at Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport (KPUJ), Atlanta, Georgia

As federal investigators surveyed the scene, one man remained in critical condition Thursday after a hangar collapsed at the Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport.

The contractor worker, whose name was not released, was one of two people injured when the hangar, still under construction, fell Wednesday afternoon, according to the Paulding County Fire Department. The two men, both contractors from outside of Paulding County, were on top of the hangar when it collapsed, Blake Swafford, the airport director, told the AJC on Thursday afternoon.

One man, Swafford said, was able to hold on to part of the building as he fell. But the other, the man who remains in critical condition, fell to the ground, Swafford said.

The man with minor injuries was treated at WellStar Paulding Hospital and released, MaryAnn Phipps, spokeswoman for the fire department, told the AJC. The other remained in critical condition at WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, Phipps said.

Investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were at the airport Thursday trying to determine what may have caused the collapse, a spokeswoman for the airport said. Wind may have been a factor in the collapse, Swafford said.

Swafford said the hangar construction likely will be delayed about a month and, hopefully, will be completed this summer. It's the second major delay for the project, which was previously delayed because the concrete slab was not level, Swafford said. The slab wasn't believed to have caused the collapse, he said.

When it opened in 2008, the Paulding airport was the first jet-ready airport to open in Georgia in more than 30 years. It is located about 30 miles northwest of Atlanta, near Dallas.

In October, the Salute America 2012 Air Show is planned at the airport.

PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. —  Investigators with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration returned to a hangar at the Paulding County Airport on Thursday looking for clues as to what caused the construction project to collapse, injuring two workers.

"In this particular case, you had a wall that collapsed," said OSHA Regional Administrator Benjamin Ross. "So you want to see whether the root cause was a failure to install some safety device to ensure that the walls would be erected."

Channel 2’s Richard Elliot uncovered problems with the construction project last December when airport officials found workers had not properly poured the concrete slab for the hangar. The project was delayed until a new subcontractor could be hired, but officials don't believe that had anything to do with the collapse.

"It didn't quite meet the specifications, so we're going to have to do some grinding on the slab to in order to level it out," said Airport Manager Blake Swafford. "We think it had absolutely nothing to do with the strength of the slab or the usability of the slab. We certainly don't think it had anything to do with the issue we had with the steel."

Swafford believes gusty wind conditions had something to do with the collapse. He said the construction had reached a "vulnerable" stage and may have been more susceptible to the wind.

"The winds up here can be vicious," said airport neighbor Patti Smith.

Smith is part of a group of neighbors long opposed to the airport. She thinks it never should have been built in the first place, in part because of the wind.

"I've seen some wind, but here it is more unpredictable," said Smith.

OSHA said the investigation into what went wrong could take anywhere from 10 days to several months.

Authorities still are not releasing the names of the two injured men, but did say one was released from the hospital. They said the second man remains in critical condition at Kennestone Hospital.

Crash killing 7 was one of deadliest for Marines in years

SAN DIEGO — A collision that killed seven Marines in one of the Marine Corps' deadliest aviation training accidents in years occurred over a sprawling desert range favored by the U.S. military because its craggy mountains and hot, dusty conditions are similar to Afghanistan's harsh environment.

Officials were scrambling Thursday to determine what caused the AH-1W Cobra and UH-1 Huey to crash during a routine exercise Wednesday night when skies were clear and the weather was mild.

There were no survivors in the accident near the Chocolate Mountains along the California-Arizona border.

It was the fifth aviation mishap since March involving the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing headquartered at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego. Throughout the Navy and Marine Corp, there have only been two other aviation training accidents in the past five years involving seven or more deaths, according to the military's Naval Safety Center.

'It's an unfortunate consequence of the high tempo of operations," said retired Marine Col. J.F. Joseph, an aviation safety consultant. "They're out there working on the edge trying to exploit the maximum capabilities of the aircraft and their tactics. Just by the virtue of that, in becoming combat ready, these unfortunately are not uncommon occurrences."

The Marine Corps and Navy, nonetheless, stand out in their efforts to mitigate that risk and make training as safe as possible, he said.

With 17,500 Marines and sailors, including personnel stationed at Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona, the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing conducts hundreds of aviation training exercises a year so troops can get as much experience as possible before they go to war.

The number of Marines killed in the latest crash shook the military community. Chaplains and counselors were called in to talk to troops. Six of the Marines killed were from Pendleton — the West Coast's largest base — and one was from the base in Yuma.

Their identities will not be released until their families have all been notified.

Two of the Marines were aboard an AH-1W Cobra and the rest were in a UH-1 Huey utility helicopter. They were flying in a remote section of the 1.2 million-acre Yuma Training Range Complex as part of a two-week standard training called "Scorpion Fire" that involved a squadron of about 450 troops from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

The helicopters collided near dunes at the edge of the Yuma range about an hour before the range was to shut down for the evening. Ground troops were in the area, but they were not affected, said Gunnery Sgt. Dustin Dunk, a spokesman at the Yuma base, which is a 90-minute drive from the accident site.

Part of the exercise involved having helicopters low on fuel descend to ground troops that have set up a refueling outpost, Dunk said.

He did not know if that's what the pilots were doing at the time of the crash.

"Our training is always evolving, safety is paramount, and being prepared is paramount," he said. "It was a very standard exercise for what we do. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family members ... Our investigation will look to see what went wrong and how to correct it."

The AH-1W carries a pilot and gunner and is considered the Marine Corps' main attack helicopter. The UH-1Y, which is replacing the aging version of the Huey utility helicopter first used during the Vietnam War, carries one or two pilots, a crew chief and other crew members, depending on the mission.

Hueys often are used to pick up and drop off ground crews, while Cobras hover by ready to fire if the Huey comes under attack.

In other crashes in the past year, a twin-engine, two-seat AH-1W Cobra helicopter went down in September during training in a remote area of Camp Pendleton, killing two Marine pilots and igniting a brush fire that burned about 120 acres at the base north of San Diego.

In August, two Marines were ejected from their F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet as it plunged toward the Pacific Ocean. The two Marines spent four hours in the dark, chilly ocean before they were rescued. Both suffered broken bones but survived.

In July, a decorated Marine from western New York was killed during a training exercise when his UH-1Y helicopter went down in a remote section of Camp Pendleton.

Another Hornet sustained at least $1 million damage when its engine caught fire on March 30 aboard the USS John C. Stennis during an exercise about 100 miles off the San Diego coast. Eight sailors, a Marine and two civilians were injured.

In one of the worst accidents in the past five years, an AH1-W flying in formation with three other Marine helicopters on a nighttime training mission from Camp Pendleton to San Clemente Island collided with a Coast Guard C-130 airplane in October 2009, killing two aboard the Marine helicopters and seven aboard the C-130.