Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cheaper Now to Fly into Kalaupapa - Hawaii

Richard Schuman, above left, owner of Makani Kai Charters, speaks at the blessing ceremony for the new air service to Kalaupapa, which uses a nine-seat Cessna Grand Caravan, above right, for the 30-minute flight. Top right, local musicians entertain at the ceremony.

There are two ways to reach Molokai’s isolated settlement of Kalaupapa. You can ride a mule or walk along the 3.2-mile trail that descends the 1,700-foot cliff along 26 switchbacks, or you can fly. Those are the only ways to leave, too.

“It takes me about one-and-a-half hours to hike up the trail to ‘topside’ and then I’ll have to catch a ride or a taxi for $30 one-way to the Molokai Airport,” says Kaohulani McGuire, a National Park Service ranger, who has been working at Kalaupapa National Historic Park since she arrived as a consultant in 2000.

McGuire is one of the many Kalaupapa residents thrilled with January’s launch of federally subsidized air service between Honolulu and Kalaupapa.

Makani Kai Air Charters, a subsidiary of Schuman Aviation Company Ltd., now offers twice-daily service each way on Mondays through Saturdays and one round trip on Sundays. The round trip cost is $154.56; Kalaupapa residents pay only $77.28. Prior to this service, Pacific Wings had been charging $550 round trip without subsidies.

Makani Kai uses two nine-seat Cessna Grand Caravans for the 30-minute flight.

The Federal Department of Transportation awarded Makani Kai the contract in December and the company is receiving Essential Air Service subsidies of $932,000 per year for the next two years.

The EAS is a federal program that guarantees small communities served by certificated air carriers before deregulation maintain a minimal level of scheduled flights.

“It’s about freedom,” says Mark Miller, state Department of Health administrator for Kalaupapa. “It’s going to make a world of difference to the people who live and work at the settlement. It will give many of them the ability to travel again and lift a feeling of isolation that so many residents have felt for a long time.”

There are now 14 Hansen’s disease survivors living at the settlement.

Kalaupapa resident Ivy Kahilihiwa, 74, says she’s excited about the new air service.

“I travel to Oahu about four to five times a year for medical treatment and pleasure,” says Kahilihiwa, who arrived in Kalaupapa from Kauai when she was 20 after contracting Hansen’s disease. “It’s cheaper now, so I’ll be able to travel more often.”

Tourists also have another option now. The Department of Health limits the number of visitors each day to 100, explains Miller. “We probably get around 40 to 50 each day, but now it’s more affordable and possible for more people to visit and enjoy Kalaupapa.”

Get a Permit Before You Go

State law requires that visitors to Kalaupapa get a permit beforehand.
Damien Tours arranges permits for its clients; others can call this Molokai number, (808) 567-6924, to get a state Department of Health permit.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Newark Liberty International Airport (KEWR): Dozens of TSA employees to be retrained or disciplined following a crackdown on lax, improper screening

A TSA management crackdown on lax or improper screening at Newark Liberty International Airport has resulted dozens of agency employees’ being taken off the job for retraining or discipline, according to TSA and union officials.

To pick up the slack, sources say, the agency has had to call in replacement screeners from outside Newark Liberty, a so-called 9/11 airport with a history of high-profile security breaches and leadership problems.

TSA officials have been trying for years to improve Newark’s security screening but its lapses have remained a continuing frustration, and at times an embarrassment, for the agency. The latest effort to improve screening operations began last year under Newark Federal Security Director Donald Drummer, who had replaced Barbara Bonn Powell in April following a scathing internal analysis of the airport’s operations made by Powell’s own managers.

The analysis painted a bleak picture of poor performance and low morale that it blamed largely on inadequate training.

Word of the crackdown surfaced late in January, a month after a baggage screener was observed sending two checked bags to be loaded onto an aircraft without hand-searching them, despite their having raised red flags while being X-rayed. At the time, TSA and union officials said six other screeners had been taken off the job for re-training.

As of this week, however, a TSA and a union source said the number of screeners taken off line for retraining had grown to at least 45. A third source, also with the TSA, put the number at around "two dozen screeners."

Also, sources said, the TSA had brought in at least 15 members of an elite corps of roving TSA employees used to fill gaps around the country. The officials quoted for this story declined to be identified because they were talking about security matters.

"We have 45 officers on administration duty statues and the investigation is still on going," said a TSA supervisor in Newark. "We also, as of Saturday, have 15 officers from the National Deployment Force at our airport."

TSA Administrator John Pistole was at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday to launch the airport’s PreCheck expedited screening program. Asked about the Newark situation, Pistole declined to confirm any specifics, but addressed the crackdown in general terms.

"Anytime there’s an allegation about any type of improper screening or, clearly, misconduct, we takes those allegations seriously," Pistole said. "We initiate an immediate internal investigation to assess those allegations, and then, as appropriate, once our investigation is concluded, we take appropriate disciplinary action, which, if warranted, could lead up to dismissal. And so, without commenting on the specifics, that’s where we are."

Yesterday, an official of the American Federal Employees Association, the screeners’ union, released a statement on behalf of the transportation security officers, or TSO’s, taken off of screening duty at Newark Liberty. "AFGE has been in contact with the officers involved and are aware of the situation at Newark," said the official, Mecca Scott, an AFGE national organizer and former Newark TSA screener. "The TSO’s involved have and will continue to fully cooperate with TSA to fully clear up this matter. In the meantime, TSOs have been reassigned to administrative duties."

Lisa Farbstein, a spokeswoman for the TSA, released a statement on the Newark situation yesterday.

"TSA is committed to ensuring the highest level of security for the traveling public. We are also committed to continuing to improve the work environment for our officers," the statement said. "Due to the ongoing investigation it would be premature to comment further at this time."

Obituary: Ralph Waldo Emerson Cox Jr., DDS - Aviation Pioneer in Cape May

Ralph Waldo Emerson Cox Jr., DDS

For a detailed look at Ralph's life, visit To share condolences, please visit

COX, RALPH WALDO EMERSON JR., DDS - aviation pioneer in Cape May passes away peacefully at age 97 on February 25, 2012. Born December 30, 1914 in Pittsburgh, PA; he attended the University of Pittsburgh and graduated from dental school in 1938. Ralph's dream was to fly aircraft, so he volunteered for the US Army Aviation pilot program. He joined the US Navy and flew anti sub patrols along the US Eastern Seaboard and the coast of Spain.

After Ralph's discharge in 1941, he supported the war effort joining American Overseas Airlines and Pan American which flew Sikorsky S44 flying boats. After the war, Ralph formed his own airline company "Ocean Air Tradeways" based at NAS Wildwood (now Cape May County Airport). Subsequently, the airline name was changed to US Overseas Airlines (USOA) and became an overhaul base and the largest employer in Cape May County. During its operating history, USOA was a major participant in the Berlin Airlift, Korean Airlift, and special airlift from Guantanamo Bay during the Cuban Missile Crisis. During the 1950's USOA operated scheduled services to the Philippines, Okinawa, the Far East, San Juan, and the Caribbean. USOA was a major developer and pioneer of low cost coach passenger air service in the US transcontinental market to the islands of Hawaii. In 1964 Ralph opened the Wildwood Canadian Campground near his home in Rio Grande.

In the early 1970's Ralph participated in the US Congressional hearings which lead to the enactment of the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 giving birth to the low cost airline service that we have today. Ralph is survived by his two children: Maureen Harris and Ralph Waldo Emerson Cox III; his son-in-law Jeffery Harris; and his three grandchildren: Ian and Andrew Harris and Kelly Cox.

There will be a funeral service at 11:00 AM on Saturday, March 3, 2012 at the Evoy Funeral Home, 3218 Bayshore Rd, North Cape May, NJ 08204; where friends may call from 10:00 to 11:00 AM. Interment will be private.

The family suggests donations in Ralph's memory to the NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum, 500 Forrestal Rd, Rio Grande, NJ 08242.
 For a detailed look at Ralph's life, visit To share condolences, please visit

Published in The Press of Atlantic City on March 1, 2012

Free Spring Lecture Series at Historic Cold Spring Village. Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum at the Cape May County Airport (KWWD)

CAPE MAY - Historic Cold Spring Village’s 9th Annual Spring Lecture Series will take place on four consecutive Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. All presentations will be held in the HCSV Welcome Center Museum, with the exception of the kickoff event on March 21, which will be held at Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum at the Cape May Airport. There is no charge for admission to these programs; speakers will be available for book signings and meet and greets afterwards. The Spring Lecture Series is made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission.

Featured speakers for 2012 are:

Wed., March 21 - Naval Air Station Atlantic City: Did you know that Atlantic City International Airport began its life during World War II as an important base for naval aircraft protecting Allied shipping from German U-Boats? Dr. Richard Porcelli will discuss his new book, Images of America: Naval Air Station Atlantic City and examine the wartime origins of our region’s most important aviation facility. To be held at the NASW Aviation Museum at the Cape May Airport.

Wed., March 28 - The First Steamship to Cross the Atlantic: For thousands of years, ships plied the seas of the world powered only by sails or oars. With the voyage of the steamship Savannah in 1819, sea travel was forever changed. John Laurence Busch, author of Steam Coffin: Captain Moses Rogers and the Steamship Savannah Break the Barrier, will examine the vital importance of the Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic.

Wed., April 4 - Civil War and the Ludlam Legacy: In the 1860s, young Jesse Ludlam of Dennisville finds himself orphaned and thrust into the horror of the Civil War. To save his family’s shipyard and to avenge the death of his parents, he must find a way to survive. Author William Watson will discuss his most recent novel, The Ludlam Legacy, the story of a Cape May County teenager in the midst of our nation’s most tragic conflict.

Wed., April 11 - Historical Fun through Children’s Books: Historical fiction is a wonderful tool for getting young people interested in history, and can be fun for adults, too! Award-winning author and artist Trinka Hakes-Noble will explore the uses of history through a discussion of her book, The Scarlet Stockings Spy, the tale of a brave girl in British-occupied Philadelphia who aids George Washington’s army during the American Revolution.

The Village is located at 720 Route 9, three miles north of Victorian Cape May and a mile and a half west of the southern end of the Garden State Parkway. For more information, please contact Jim Stephens, HCSV Deputy Director for Education and Interpretation, at (609) 898-2300, ext. 17, or visit

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Orchard Park, New York: Teen aims to fly solo

“I love going up and flying. I see myself doing it as a hobby and a passion.” –Abby Sullivan, junior, Sacred Heart Academy

When most teenagers think of extracurricular activities, flying airplanes is not the first thing that comes to mind. For 16-year-old Abby Sullivan, however, flying is almost second nature.

Abby, a junior at Sacred Heart Academy, began flying planes when she was 14 years old. Her experience with recreational flying began long before that, however. Her father often took her up in her family’s plane when she was younger, and she has had an interest in flying ever since. In her family, flying is not just a method of transportation; it is a hobby.

Although it might seem difficult (not to mention nerve-racking) to learn how to fly a plane before ever driving a car, Abby did not think twice about it when she first started out. In fact, she was eager to learn herself after flying with her parents so many times.

“I can see how people who only fly in commercial planes would be intimidated by it,” she says, “but flying smaller planes is completely different.”

That small plane that she flies is called a Skycatcher, a light sport aircraft that she has dubbed a “lawnmower with wings.” Right now, Abby, of Orchard Park, is training to get a permit that will allow her to fly by herself. To do so, she will not have to take any written tests like teenagers hoping to get their driver’s permits must take; instead she will have to “solo,” or complete an entire flight without her instructor in the plane.

The only requirement for soloing is to be 16 years of age, but it takes a lot of practice to learn to fly a plane alone. Abby’s current training consists mostly of short flights in

which she takes off and lands in the same airport; after her lessons, she usually flies with her dad for fun, sometimes to Pennsylvania and back. She says that flying schedule usually depends on her other activities, as she also rides horses, plays the piano and performs in school musicals.

“I fly a lot during the summer,” she says, “but during the school year it’s more sporadic.”

We often think of pilots as relying solely on GPS to track their routes, and for commercial airlines that is usually true. However, pilots of small planes like Abby’s have to be much more focused on their surroundings. All planes

are required to have at least basic navigation systems, but to get a permit, it is important for pilots to know where they are and where they need to go just by looking out the windows. Abby says that although student pilots have a tendency to pay more attention to the GPS screen than to what is going on outside, instructors stress the importance of flying by sight.

“I have GPS,” Abby says, “but you’re supposed to fly visually as much as possible.”

This can be tricky when flying in weather conditions with low visibility, so Abby says that to solo, you have to “learn what your aircraft can handle.” Essentially, this means being able to tell if the weather is clear enough to rely more on sight than on GPS.

Once she has soloed, Abby will be able to fly alone in a single-engine plane, which can fly only in good weather conditions. She says that most people stop training after they can solo, but those who do continue can obtain a license to fly multiengine, or propeller, planes. This certification is more difficult to earn because you have to learn to fly through clouds and conditions with low visibility; these conditions require much more reliance on GPS than the “VFR (visual flight rules) conditions” –good conditions –that single-engine planes fly in.

To get a multiengine license, pilots have to perform a “cross-country” flight, meaning that they must fly to different airports that are at least 50 nautical miles from their starting location. However, this extra training is worth it for more serious pilots, because only multiengine planes can fly on days when visibility is poor. Abby says that her ultimate goal is to get a multiengine license.

In Abby’s type of plane, you can fly wherever you want as long as the conditions are good. Her family flies to different places around the country when they go on trips, but she says that they try to avoid the busier airspaces where commercial airlines fly.

“We try to stick to uncontrolled air, and not to fly into the huge airports,” she said.

It’s much easier for small planes to fly where they will not interfere with large commercial planes. Still, she says that pilots of small recreational planes can fly to any airport as long as they are registered.

Like most 16-year-olds, Abby is also learning how to drive a car; she says that it is hard to compare driving and flying because the two require entirely different skills. When flying a plane, takeoff and landing are the trickiest parts, but once you are in the air, you can relax more than you can when driving a car.

“I think it’s a completely different skill set,” she said. “With flying, there’s not much to do once you’re in the air.”

Her advice to teenagers who are interested in flying is to not be intimidated, and simply try it.

“Don’t be afraid of not being capable,” she says, “because if you really want to, you can do it.”

Although she is not currently interested in a career as a pilot, Abby says that flying is something she plans on doing for the rest of her life.

“I really love doing it,” she says. “I love going up and flying. I see myself doing it as a hobby and a passion.”

Meredith McCaffrey is a junior at Sacred Heart Academy.

Civil Air Patrol shows off new home at airport

CAP officials push the squadron's airplane into the hangar at the CAP's new facility at Yuma International Airport on Friday.
Photo by Joyce Lobeck/Yuma Sun

The new CAP facility is being provided by the Yuma County Airport Authority in one-sixth of the building formerly used by FedEx on the west of the airport before it moved into its new complex.
Photo by Joyce Lobeck/Yuma Sun

“Amazing” was one cadet's response to the new home for Yuma's Civil Air Patrol squadron that was shown off during an open house Friday afternoon.

Until now, the squadron has been shunted from one temporary classroom to another, observed Cadet Jackie Taylor, a CAP member for six years.

Now the squadron has a permanent home to call its own. The new CAP facility is being provided by the Yuma County Airport Authority in one-sixth of the building formerly used by FedEx on the west of the airport before it moved into its new complex.

“Very awesome,” echoed Cadet Kelsey VanSant. She said she had belonged to CAP in Phoenix and thought that facility was awesome. But the new Yuma facility has it beat.

“We've been like orphan children,” said William “Scotty” Haskell, public affairs officer for the Yuma Squadron 508 of the Arizona Wing. “We were an aviation organization without aviation. Now we're in a corner of the airport. We can see planes come and go.”

Perhaps best of all, the new facility includes a hangar to store the CAP airplane out of the elements, which will protect it and extend its life. It also will make the airplane more comfortable to work on and be much more accessible to cadets as they learn to fly, he said.

Just inside the hangar is a training room with two flight simulators of a cockpit complete down to the noise of the engine if you turn up the sound, Haskell said.

“One cadet walked in and his face lit up when he saw the simulators,” said Craig Williams, airport director.

“The adults were happy, too,” added Haskell.

The facility also has a lunchroom and upstairs is a classroom that will be used for the first time Saturday morning for a safety briefing by Federal Aviation Administration Safety Team.

Rob Ingold, president of the Airport Authority, noted that part of the organization's mission is to promote safety and to get young people involved in aviation.

So when the idea was pitched to create space for the CAP in the vacant FedEx building, the board “embraced it 100 percent,” he said. “We hope it will encourage more people to fly at the airport.”

Haskell said the organization currently has about 28 cadets ages 12 to 18 and 23 senior members age 21 and older from all walks of life. He expects that number will increase with the new facility.

“We're really grateful the board put this together for us,” Haskell said.

Williams figures it was a great investment. He estimates the Airport Authority spent about $100,000 on the project to replace flooring, do some painting, redo the parking lot and improve the fence around the area — renovations that were needed anyway.

That also includes buying the simulators, Williams said, explaining that “our goal all along was to enhance flight training for young people.” He added that the facility will be available to local flight instructors.

In addition, Williams said, CAP is a big help to the airport and the community with its emergency operations. The organization also provides emergency radio services and it promotes aviation safety.

Haskell said that CAP was formed 71 years ago, just six days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. During World War II, CAP patrolled the U.S. coastline for German submarines.

“It has a rich history.”

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fifth Annual Wings of Dreams Airfest returns to Keystone Heights

The year is 1943. Rosie the Riveter is encouraging women on the home front as soldiers are sent overseas. Zoot suits, jazz and American pride reign supreme.

Fast forward 70 years; this World War II culture can be found at the 5th Annual Wings of Dreams Airfest at Keystone Heights Airport.

Seeing rare warbird planes — including the B-17 Flying Fortress and the only restored and fully operational B-24 — along with first-hand accounts of wartime experiences and aerial performances are just some of the experiences visitors will have from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and 9 to 11 a.m. Monday.

Bob Oehl, executive director for Wings of Dreams, said nobody encompasses this time period better. “We turn this place back to 1943,” he says.

This year’s event is expected to have the largest number of World War II veterans in attendance, including seven Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), five Iwo Jima survivors, two Tuskegee Airmen and one Pearl Harbor survivor, Oehl says.

“Instead of watching a Hollywood movie or reading a book, you can personally ask them questions about what was done to save our world,” he says.

The last event, held in 2010, drew 20,000 people out from all over the country. Oehl says he expects the same turn out this year.

Visitors can see flight demonstrations and tour bombers for a tax-deductible donation ($12, $6 ages 12 and younger) and attend veteran symposiums. This year the Airfest will offer expanded youth activities, such as building a model airplane and then having a veteran who flew the same model sign the wing.

World War II re-enactors, a classic car show and a veteran tribute concert also will entertain visitors.

The signature event of the weekend, the Big Band Hangar Dance, will feature a 20-piece swing band performing the classic songs from the era. For $45 a ticket, guests will enjoy a 1940s-style dinner buffet and swing-dance performances in a decorated airplane hangar reminiscent of 1940s USO shows.

Oehl said the activities are free for veterans because they have already paid their country.

“This is going back to the roots and sacrifices made by these men and women,” he said. “Now we owe them.”

The air show also features such rare World War II planes as a B-24 Liberator — the last of its kind.

The B-17 Flying Fortress, a four-engine heavy bomber, is one of the most recognizable planes in the war and will be making an appearance this weekend. There are only eight left in the world.

Oehl said he believes the most important aspect of the event is hearing the stories of those who fought in the war. He hopes people of all ages will learn about their country’s history.

“If you don’t know your history, you’re doomed to repeat it.”

The 5th Annual Wings of Dreams Airfest

What: Aerial fly-bys and performances, demonstrations, hands-on activities and appearances by the Collings Foundation’s “Wings of Freedom Tour” offering tours and rides in a B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator and TP-51C Mustang.

When: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday through Sunday, 9-11 a.m. Monday

Where: Keystone Heights Airport, 7100 Airport Road, Starke
Admission: $5, $2 children 5-12, free for World War II veterans and children 4 and younger.

Flights: Rides available in the Collings Foundation planes with tax deductible donations ranging from $425 to $3,200, call 800-568-8924 or see

Dance: Big Band Hangar Dinner/Dance, 6 p.m. Saturday, $45; benefits the Wings of Dreams Foundation.

Airport plan public review set for March 8

Submitted Photo - An aerial view of the Collin County Regional Airport from the north shows a new runway under construction. The runway will have a four-inch asphalt base coat that will be covered with 17 inches of steel-reinforced concrete.

Collin County is growing rapidly in population, and the Collin County Regional Airport must grow rapidly with it.

McKinney city officials and members of the McKinney Airport Development Corporation (MADC) have been aware of this for several years, and continue to work diligently to see that the airport grows in such a way to meet the growing needs of the county and region.

An Airport Layout Plan has just been completed, and the MADC and its agent, Kimley-Horn Associates, will be offering stakeholders and the public an opportunity to view the plan during a public viewing between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday, March 8 at McKinney City Hall.

"The plan illustrates the organization's vision for the future layout of the Collin County Regional Airport to include short-, mid- and long-term projects that may be implemented as demand and funding availability dictate," said Ken Wiegand, MADC executive director.

The plan identifies the location and footprint of a General Aviation Terminal complex, additional aircraft hangars, vehicle parking expansion, a second future runway and taxiway to access the airport's east side, on-and-off airport access roads and future runway extensions.

There will not be a formal presentation at the March 8 review, but airport staff and planners will be on hand to discuss the plan and answer questions.

"With the completion of the runway project later this year, we will have completed a $66 million Capital Improvement Program (CIP) that began in 2002 with a master plan update," Wiegand said. "The CIP was designed to upgrade and repair existing infrastructure and focus on preparing the airport for operations by transport aircraft. A new CIP will be drafted from the soon-to-be-approved Airport Layout Plan, which is simply a brief update of the master plan of 2002-04."

Wiegand added, "The airport will no doubt seek additional federal funds in the future to support the new CIP."

The McKinney City Council is expected to vote on the proposed Airport Layout Plan sometime in March.

Six McKinney officials, including four representing the city of McKinney and two representing the MADC, spent two days in Washington, D.C. in mid-February briefing top senior Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials and four members of Congress from North Texas on the status of the airport capital development program.

They included Wiegand, MADC Chairman John Wroten, Mayor Brian Loughmiller, Mayor Pro Tem Travis Ussery, Councilman Roger Harris and City Manager Jason Gray. They flew out early on Feb. 15 and returned late on Feb. 16.

"We thought face-to-face communication with members of the administration and legislative branches of government would enhance our efforts to seek funding through existing programs of financial assistance when we need it," Wiegand said.

He said the FAA has invested $24.9 million so far in improvements at the airport, and MADC officials anticipate that the FAA will provide another $4 million this year. The state has invested $8.6 million and the city of McKinney has provided $13 million, which includes about $4.2 million from the McKinney Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) for the runway's additional width and weight-bearing capacity. The improvements are needed to meet airline standards and support the operations by heavy transport aircraft.

The FAA has also invested $1.5 million from its federal control tower construction funding program. The city of McKinney has provided about $750,000 to replace a short, temporary wooden structure with a 100-foot modern tower from which air traffic can be controlled on the new runway and on areas of anticipated future development.

"We are well into the third phase of a three-phase runway construction project," Wiegand said. "The new runway should be operational by August 2012, and the project is scheduled to be complete by Thanksgiving 2012."

He said the new runway is a replacement runway, which once operational will turn the existing runway into a parallel taxiway.

"The runway is being constructed after five years of environmental studies and the collection of multi-year funding grants from FAA and TxDOT," Wiegand said. "Its purpose is to meet federal safety design standards and accommodate larger aircraft."

He said the existing runway was rehabilitated in 2007 and can now accommodate operations by Boeing 737 aircraft, the kind flown by Southwest and other major airlines.

"Our new 7,000-foot runway is also being constructed to accommodate a 1,500-foot extension when demand dictates," Wiegand said. "Length plus the weight-bearing capacity will dramatically enhance our capabilities to handle most transport aircraft operating in the world today."

Brazil's Olympian Task: Cleaning Junkyard Airports Before the Games. Rotting Jet Carcasses Litter Tarmacs; Plane-Loving Judge Attacks Bureaucracy

Photo Credit:  Luiz Silveira/ Agncia CNJ
Judge Marlos Melek with a decaying jet at Congonhas Airport in São Paulo.

The Wall Street Journal

BRASÍLIA—Getting Brazil's overcrowded airports ready to play host to soccer's 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games has run into an unexpected obstacle: airplane cemeteries on the tarmac.

At airfields from the muggy Amazon to bustling São Paulo, weather-stained aircraft missing doors, engines and even the odd nose cone rust away in plain sight. The failed fleet includes everything from weather-beaten Boeing 737s in Rio de Janeiro to a World War II-era Douglas C-47 cargo prop idled in the Amazonian outpost of Tabatinga. It has been sitting there for 16 years.

The junked jets are monuments to the turbulent history of Brazil's airline industry. Bankruptcies over the decades have stranded hundreds of planes in legal limbo, alongside dozens of smaller aircraft captured in drug-smuggling busts.

The planes are left to rot while Brazil's glacial courts ponder what to do with them, a process that can take more than a decade. One grounded airline, TransBrasil, went broke in 2001.

Brazil's jet junkyards are becoming an Olympian problem. Some are blocking expansions to handle planeloads of World Cup and Olympics fans.

Four rust-stained jets are impeding construction to double the terminal in the Amazonian city of Manaus, a World Cup game site.

In Brasília, the bothersome Boeings sit where a new terminal is planned.

"I've been scratching my head wondering where I can drag them next," said Antonio Silveira, a manager at Brasília's Juscelino Kubitschek airport.

Some Brazilian airports have taken to washing the unwanted jets so passengers will think they are merely waiting to take off.

Airplanes are decomposing within sight of the control tower in many Latin American cities. In the still poor region, clunkers are saved for spare parts. But Brazil stands out for the sheer size and number of junked jets impeding its aspirations to aeronautical modernity.

For years, air-traffic controllers in Brasília complained about losing visual contact with small planes as they approached the runway, where a decaying TransBrasil Boeing 767 and other jets blocked the view. Workers finally moved the jets.

Much of São Paulo's cramped Congonhas domestic airport is a ghost town of dilapidated jets wedged at odd angles among vacant hangar bays, warehouses and even a six-story office tower, all left in legal limbo by the 2005 failure of Vasp SA, among Brazil's oldest carriers.

Congonhas officials want to use the space for remote gates to ease chronic congestion and delays. But they can't touch the old Vasp complex while bankruptcy proceedings drone on.

Trying to resolve the mess is Marlos Melek, an earnest 36-year-old federal judge who spends his days investigating corruption by lower-court officials. Last year, he proposed expanding his mandate to include extracting planes from legal quagmires and helping sell them to create more airport space.

A year into the effort, called Airport Free Space, Mr. Melek has removed 14 planes. Many more should be gone in March.

The process is slow going because the bespectacled magistrate has no real authority. His mandate is to try to convince bankruptcy judges, creditors, state and federal agencies, and civil and military aviation authorities that everyone would be better off turning the planes over to him.

Mr. Melek is an avid pilot, and being a plane buff helps his cause. On a recent visit with an airport official, Mr. Melek broke the ice by displaying photos of planes on his iPhone. Then he launched his sales pitch about cleaning up the wreckage of Brazil's volatile past. It has been a long time coming, but now, Mr. Melek said, sports have made airport efficiency a priority. "People think this is all about the World Cup," he said, adding, "I don't even like soccer."

Back in 2006, Mr. Melek tried and failed to rescue a flock of commercial jets grounded five years earlier by the bankruptcy of TransBrasil. He proposed leasing the idled jets and using the revenue to pay creditors. The idea was quashed by a judge in the case.

Instead, the planes withered under the Brazilian sun and rain. Today, many are worth less per pound than discarded soda cans are, Mr. Melek estimates. "The Brazilian bureaucracy killed those planes," he said.

Mr. Melek doesn't want bureaucracy to kill again. For example, he personally retrieves planes seized in drug busts, since it can take weeks to commission professional pilots for the job. Being there helps avert appeals by defense lawyers. Since Mr. Melek is a judge, he can overrule any objections on the spot, he said.

In January, he ventured to a remote ranch on the edge of the Amazon to pick up a Cessna 206 propeller plane allegedly used to transport cocaine. Showing up unannounced at an alleged drug trafficker's ranch deep in Brazil's lawless interior can be dangerous, so Mr. Melek went with three heavily armed Federal Police and wore a pistol himself.

The Cessna's owner was already in jail. But his wife and ranch hands were there. "We wanted the element of surprise so they wouldn't have time to harm the plane, but that made our arrival very tense," he said.

Mr. Melek turns alleged drug planes over to Brazilian authorities who need them to work in areas inaccessible by road. But first Mr. Melek sticks a decal with his court's initials, CNJ, on the planes' tail fins and snaps a photo of his prized catch to email to his buddies.

So far, the aviation industry is cheering. When Mr. Melek got the green light to dismantle three crumbling Boeing 737s at Rio de Janeiro's Galeao airport, airplane maintenance firm TAP M&E Brasil SA paid the bill. The skeletal 737 remains that had been rusting outside TAP's shop for the past seven years were hurting TAP's maintenance image, Chief Executive Nestor Koch said.

But bidding farewell to the aircraft can be bittersweet, too. Josafa Candido, a 30-year Vasp veteran appointed caretaker of its Congonhas ghost town, said he was sad to see a giant airplane shredding machine ordered up by Mr. Melek reducing three Vasp Boeing 737s there to piles of scrap. "There are lifetimes in those planes," said Mr. Candido.

Read more, photos and video:

Bangor International Airport director making a departure

BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- Bangor International Airport Director, Rebecca Hupp recently announced that she is leaving.

Hupp has lead the airport staff for over a decade. But in March she's leaving for a new job as the airport director in Boise Idaho. She says she will be jumping from B.I.A.'S 250 thousand passengers a year to the Boise airports 1.2 million passengers. Hupp says changes in air security is the biggest difference since she started. She also says there are several completed projects that she is proud of. The runway reconstruction project, environmental improvements around the airport and additions to service.

Hupp says," I think the attraction of Allegiant Airlines was great addition to out domestic service. And the fact that we were able to retain the military transit flights even though 1 of our competitors offered to do it for free. That speaks volumes of the quality of people we have working here. That people are willing to pay to come to Bangor rather than go some where else that's free. "

Rebecca Hupp also says she believes travel numbers for B.I.A. are up 30 percent in the first 2 months of the year. She also says the airport is beginning new non stop air service to Washington D.C. on March 25th.

Barstow-Daggett Airport (KDAG), Daggett, California: County evicts airport residents - Properties too expensive to maintain, officials say

A street at a 17-home residential area at the Barstow-Daggett Airport is shown here Wednesday. Built in the 1940s and later transferred to the county, the rental properties are the only ones of its kind in San Bernardino County, officials said. The county moved to evict all residents Monday because it was unprofitable to continue operating the units.

DAGGETT • Virginia Coleman, 76, received a note Friday at her home at Barstow-Daggett Airport from her landlord, the San Bernardino County Airports Department.

“Public Notice,” it said. “Important Meeting Regarding Your Future Residential Tenancy at Barstow-Daggett Airport.”

At the meeting Monday, Coleman and the other residents at the 17 county-owned homes at the airport were all told that they were being evicted.

Coleman, who has lived in her home since 1967 with her husband, Jay, said she thought she would one day be taken out of the house in a box.

Now “I’m going to be taking boxes out of here,” Coleman said.

The homes, built in the 1940s by McDonnell Douglas and then used as officer’s quarters for the airport’s military presence, were later transferred to county ownership. The county offered them for rent and continued to maintain the properties ever since.

But now, with the county facing a $100 million structural deficit over the next five years, officials are acting quickly to close down the properties.

The problem, County Public Information Officer David Wert said, was that the county spends almost five times as much to maintain the properties as it receives in rent.

It costs the county $225,000 per year to provide potable water to the homes, Wert said. The properties have an on-site water plant with four wells, but the county must inspect and maintain the plant in order to comply with state and local regulations.

The county also spends $22,000 per year on insurance and about $120,000 each year in staff time providing landlord and administrative services to the properties. It costs an additional $53,000 each year for an on-site sewage plant to serve the homes. The properties generate $92,000 in rent each year for the county, Wert said.

“The county isn’t in the subsidized housing business,” Wert said.

Wert said rents would have to be $2,400 a month for the county to break even — far above market value of the properties, which rent for about $450 each month.

Wert said it was only recently that the Airports Department identified the homes as a wasteful expense for the county.

For residents like the Coleman family, the homes represent a lifetime of memories.

For Coleman’s adult grandson, Scott, who lives down the street with his mother, the home is where he remembers spending every holiday. It is also where his mother grew up.

“Every Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter has been in this living room,” Scott Coleman said.

Wert said the county’s human services agencies would work with residents to help them find new places to live, and the Department of Aging and Adult Services would work with affected seniors. Residents will have 60 days to move out and will receive $500 to cover their moving expenses.

Alan Hamm, manager of Daggett Aviation, which contracts with the U.S. Army to provide services at the airport, said the problems with the water system could have been avoided. The sudden move to evict residents was a “just a bomb,” Hamm said as he radioed directions to an approaching small plane and a pair of Apache helicopters buzzed overhead.

“That was a rude awakening.”

Hamm, who has worked at the airport for 30 years, said the buildings once provided key housing to defense contractors who outfitted World War II-era warplanes like the A-20 Havoc, which were manufactured in Santa Monica and Long Beach, brought to the Barstow-Daggett Airport and then flown to Alaska to be given to the Russians, who used them to fight Nazi Germany.

More recently, the county has constructed new lighting for a taxiway, extended another taxiway and launched a $2.44 million project to remodel the runways’ electrical system as part of a modernization project.

Coleman said she liked living at the airport because it was far enough from major towns that she did not have to worry about people breaking into her home. The small, isolated nature of the neighborhood meant that everybody knew each other, she said.

Scott Coleman said he was thinking about holding a block party with his neighbors before they all would have to go their separate ways.

“I don’t think there’s any other place like this, because it’s a big family,” Virginia Coleman said.

Diamond Aircraft sales bounce back

Diamond Aircraft is bucking a global trend, with sales of its piston-powered aircraft climbing while the industry remains stalled.

Just-released sales figures show the aircraft maker, beside London International Airport, increased sales in 2011 by 33% over the previous year.

But the total still pales in comparison to Diamond's peak in 2007, chief executive Peter Maurer said.

"They are higher than 2010, but they are still low numbers. It is nothing to jump up and down about."

The London plant sold 187 planes last year, compared with 139 in 2010. In 2007, the company moved 473 planes.

Diamond's increase in sales comes at a time when the aviation industry globally is flat. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association, in its 2011 outlook report, said piston-aircraft sales across the U.S. dipped 1.5% last year, to 860.

At the end of 2011, global sales dropped 3.5%, to 1,865 units, it reported.

"We are trending in the right direction, and I am cautiously optimistic as we watch the market develop. We don't want to end up with a lot of inventory," Maurer said.

That is a common story across the region's manufacturing sector, where industries are experiencing a slow, steady improvement of their bottom lines, said Steve Glickman, director of business retention and growth at the London Economic Development Corp.

"Companies that are proactive and into continuous improvement are finding that business can be good. It's about finding niche markets and filling unmet needs. If manufacturers can do that, they can be in good shape.

Diamond recently delivered 12 two-seater aircraft to the Ecuadorian air force to be used for training. They're valued at about $200,000 each.

The U.S. air force has more than 50 Diamond two-seater aircraft it uses as trainers.

"It's a very safe aircraft, it has great flying characteristics. It is low cost, with a low fuel burn," Maurer said.

In November 2010, Medrar Financial Group in Dubai bought a majority interest in the London plant from the Dries family in Austria, who maintain a minority interest in the local plant.

Diamond employs about 240 workers.

In the spring of 2010, the company laid off about half its 400 workers after the federal government refused its request for a $35-million loan to aid in developing the D-Jet. The Medrar sale gave the company the money it needed.

Diamond is making its fourth prototype of the D-Jet, a five-person light jet it hopes to start manufacturing and selling in about two years.

Advisory: Rhode Island Airport Corporation to Hold Special Board Meeting and Press Briefing

Media Advisory/Photo Opportunity

Contact: Patti Goldstein, 401-691-2272,

Rhode Island Airport Corporation to Hold Special Board Meeting and Subsequent Press Briefing

On Thursday, March 1, 2012, the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) will hold a special meeting of its Board of Directors. Immediately following this meeting, there will be a special press briefing with the RIAC Board, RIAC President & CEO Kevin Dillon and Governor Lincoln Chafee. The briefing will address the Warwick City Council vote on the Memorandum of Understanding, the runway financing and construction schedule.

WHO: The Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) Board of Directors, RIAC President & CEO Kevin Dillon and Governor Lincoln Chafee.

WHAT: Meeting of the RIAC Board of Directors and subsequent press briefing.

WHERE: Mary Brennan Board Room, T.F. Green Airport, 2000 Post Rd., Warwick, RI.

WHEN: Thursday, March 1, Board Meeting at 9:15am, Press Briefing at 9:45am.


Cary, North Carolina: Pilot Gets a Ride on Cessna’s “American Patriot” Jet

Ernie Capone (at left) shows some visitors the American Patriot Mustang

Air Force veteran Chris Provencio, a chief pilot for Cessna, helped initiate the program.

Story by Lindsey Chester. 

Photos courtesy of Barbara and Ernie Capone.

Cary, NC- My friend Ernie Capone alerted me about a ride he got in a special plane last week: Cessna’s “American Patriot” jet plane making an appearance at RDU airport.

Free Flights for Wounded Vets

The “American Patriot”  Cessna Mustang is a four passenger jet that was specially painted to become part of the Veteran’s Airlift Command in the Fall of 2011.

Cessna donates the cost of crew and fuel to provide free transportation to wounded military and their families.

It’s Cessna’s way of giving back to the soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The plane was showcased at RDU airport here in the Triangle on Saturday Feb 25th.

The “American Patriot” had its inaugural mission on November 10, 2011. It’s described here in General Aviation News:
The unique paint scheme that salutes the men and women who serve or have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. On each side, the “Patriot Defender” character holds a shield featuring the four branches of the Armed Forces as a large American flag unfurls down the side of the aircraft.

The Mission

When the plane isn’t busy on its missions helping the military, it takes flights to promote the Veteran’s Airlift Command mission.

Veteran’s Airlift Command (VAC) prioritizes veteran’s of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. When soldiers are returned to the US, these flights can bring soldiers and family together during the healing process. They use a national network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots to complete these missions.

“Many of our veterans return from combat facing devastating injuries and long-term rehabilitation. Many times, they are recuperating hundreds of miles away from family. Our goal at VAC is to be that bridge that brings families together to help our veterans heal,” said Walt Fricke, VAC founder and air boss. “We are fortunate to have Cessna join us in providing our wounded warriors with this crucial service.”

Riding the Patriot

Ernie, a licensed pilot, Cessna employee and Cary neighbor, had hoped to fly the jet, but a tornado warning on the trip between Charlotte and RDU grounded those plans. “I was supposed to fly it over from CLT on Friday but the Wx (weather) was nasty,” Ernie said by email. “I sat right seat and observed one of our highly experienced chief pilots get from Charlotte to Raleigh in about 38 minutes.  The airplane is a pilot’s dream.”
“The cabin will support 4 passengers traveling in comfort at 340 knots, aka about 400MPH, at 35-40,000 feet toward their destination covering around 1100NM (nautical miles).”

“As to it’s mission of goodwill in support of wounded veterans,” Ernie’s note continued, “the plan is for it to fly 2-4 missions per months since the program got underway in late Oct. ’11.  Thus far we have flown 8 missions.  When not in use for this mission, Cessna utilizes the aircraft for field events including demos and static displays.”

SkyView employee arraignment continued: Tracy Municipal Airport (KTCY), California

MANTECA — A 30-year-old SkyView Aviation employee facing vehicular manslaughter charges appeared in Manteca Superior Court on Tuesday, Feb. 28, for his first arraignment hearing.

A private attorney representing reported SkyView employee Eric Rode-Olsen asked Manteca Judge Ron Northup to lower the bail amount from $150,000 to $60,000. He also told the judge that he would be willing to keep Rode-Olsen’s Swedish passport locked in his office, which would prevent him from leaving the country should he be bailed from San Joaquin County Jail.

Rode-Olsen is accused of crashing his late-model BMW into the Delta-Mendota Canal around 11:40 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, killing one of three passengers he was allegedly driving. That man is now presumed drowned.

The passengers in the BMW, all Swedish students in the SkyView pilot training program, were reportedly in Rode-Olsen’s car as it traveled down one of the Tracy Municipal Airport runways before the car crashed through a fence, launched off a levy and landed in the water.

Three of the car’s occupants, including Rode-Olsen, escaped the swift waters. The body of the fourth passenger, a 23-year-old man from Sweden whose name has not been released by the Tracy Police Department, has yet to be recovered.

The defense attorney told the judge Tuesday that Rode-Olsen’s employer from SkyView, reportedly company owner Richard Ortenheim, was present in the courtroom. The attorney also said Rode-Olsen was living with him.

While considering a bail reduction, Northup asked the defense attorney if Rode-Olsen had a pilot’s license, and he was told no. After reviewing the bail, the judge said he was willing to lower it to $100,000.

The defense attorney also asked the judge if he would delay the next court hearing for a few weeks to allow him time to gather additional evidence, including the results of Rode-Olsen’s toxicology tests. The results seek to determine whether there were any drugs or alcohol in Rode-Olsen’s system at the time of the accident.

The judge agreed to set the next arraignment hearing for March 21 at 1:30 p.m. in Manteca Superior Court.

According to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s county jail website, Rode-Olsen was still in custody as of 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Southwest Florida International wishes closer to granted: Advisory panel urges port authority to accept $14 million in state money for parallel runway.

Two long-range projects at Southwest Florida International — a second runway and a commerce park — are a step closer to reality.

On Tuesday, the panel of businesspeople that advises Lee County commissioners on airport matters:

Recommended accepting a $14 million Florida Department of Transportation grant, which is earmarked for the runway project; and

Asked commissioners to OK a contract for $508,654 with David Douglas Associates Inc., for design work for Skyplex Boulevard.

County commissioners, sitting as the port authority board, will weigh in on these topics and others when they next meet with the Airports Special Management Committee. That begins 1:30 p.m. March 12, at the international airport’s Conference and Training Center.

The second runway will be built south of the passenger terminal and parallel to the existing runway. The latest grant brings state transportation’s total investment in the parallel runway to more than $32 million.

Groundbreaking for the runway itself is still many years off: Mark Fisher, deputy executive director for development, estimated it could occur around 2020.

Elements necessary for that runway to be used, however, are well under way. They include a new aircraft rescue and firefighting facility, which is under construction and could be finished by summer; and a new air traffic control tower. On the latter, a location has been set. “We’re working to secure funding,” Fisher said.

The second runway alone is expected to cost more than $300 million, said Bob Ball, Lee County Port Authority executive director.

“The more we can do using grants, passenger facility charges and pre-planning, ... the less impact the project will have on rates and charges to airlines,” Ball said. That’s important to attracting and retaining air service, Ball noted.

Skyplex Boulevard is a road that’s planned to make airport property that’s not needed for aviation more attractive to developers of technology centers, office parks and the like. It will begin on Daniels Parkway, roughly opposite the easternmost entrance to JetBlue Park, and stretch to Chamberlin Parkway, which borders the northern portion of the airfield.

The new ballpark begins its spring training schedule this weekend. “It’s obvious there will be further development between the ballpark and Lehigh Acres,” Ball said.

There’s no start date as yet for the road. Ball called Skyplex Commercial Center “a long, long-term program” that could unfold over as many as 30 years.

Mooney M20E Super 21, Niclan Corp., N9224M: Accident occurred February 26, 2012 in San Antonio, Texas

NTSB Identification: CEN12FA170  
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, February 26, 2012 in San Antonio, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/13/2014
Aircraft: MOONEY M20E, registration: N9224M
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

After takeoff, when the airplane was about 200 feet above ground level, the tower controller noticed the airplane in a right turn and instructed the pilot to make a left turn to the northeast. An incomplete radio call from the pilot indicated he was turning back. The controller saw the airplane flying southwest at a low altitude and shortly thereafter saw a cloud of black smoke about 1/2 mile south of the airport. Two other witnesses saw the airplane suddenly roll to the right and enter a nose-down dive, indicative of a stall. Evidence at the scene showed that the airplane impacted terrain in a nose-down attitude and came to rest inverted. There was a postimpact explosion and fire.

Based on the pilot's lack of previous experience in flying an airplane with a turbocharged engine, and the evidence of detonation found in the postaccident examination of the engine, it is likely that the pilot inadvertently overboosted the engine during takeoff and initial climb, which resulted in a partial loss of engine power. Based on the sudden change of flight direction, it is likely that the pilot became preoccupied with the partial loss of engine power and lost control of the airplane. The instructor should have been able to successfully complete an emergency off-field landing, but it does not appear that he attempted one.

This instructor had been using a series of psychotropic medications, culminating in his use of paroxetine, which would have been disqualifying for him to act as a required flight crewmember. Major depression itself is associated with significant cognitive degradation, particularly in executive functioning. While the exact degree of impairment from the instructor's incompletely controlled depression and his use of impairing medications at the time of the accident is impossible to determine, it is likely that there was some impairment in cognitive functioning as a result of his uncontrolled depression. Further, the instructor had sleep apnea, and that, combined with his recent use of sedating medications, chronic pain, and depression may well have contributed to his failure to take control of the airplane and conduct an emergency of-field landing after the partial loss of engine power.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's inadvertent overboost of the turbocharged engine during initial climb, which resulted in detonation and a partial loss of engine power followed by the pilot's failure to maintain airspeed and the instructor's delayed remedial action, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident was the instructor's improper judgment in acting as a pilot with disqualifying medical conditions and while taking impairing medications.


On February 26, 2012, about 1709 central standard time, a Mooney M20E airplane, N9224M, impacted terrain during initial climb after departure from Stinson Municipal Airport (SSF), San Antonio, Texas. The certified flight instructor (CFI) and the pilot were fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by Niclan Corporation, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a positioning flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed SSF at 1707, and was destined for Gillespie County Airport (T82), Fredericksburg, Texas.

The pilot was cleared for takeoff to the southeast from runway 14 with instructions to turn left to the northeast because of traffic approaching the airport from the south. After takeoff, when the airplane was about 200 feet above ground level (agl), the SSF tower controller noticed the airplane in a right turn and again instructed the pilot to make a left turn to the northeast. An incomplete radio comment from the pilot indicated he was turning back. The controller saw the airplane flying southwest bound at a low altitude and shortly thereafter saw a cloud of black smoke about 1/2 mile south of SSF.

One witness was watching the airplane while it was turning to the right. He saw the wing of the airplane then suddenly roll sharply to the right and the airplane pointed about 45 degrees nose-down and the airplane went into a dive. A second witness heard sputtering, looked up and saw the airplane as it banked to one side and dove toward the ground. A third witness also heard sputtering and then heard the sounds of a crash and an explosion.

Evidence at the scene showed the airplane impacted terrain in a nose-down attitude and came to rest inverted. There was a postimpact explosion and fire.


Certified Flight Instructor

The CFI, age 63, held an airline transport pilot certificate with airplane single and multiengine land, airplane single engine sea, glider, and instrument airplane ratings. He held a type rating for CE-500. In addition, he held a flight instructor certificate with airplane single and multiengine, glider, and instrument airplane privileges. He was issued a second class airman medical certificate, with limitations, on February 3, 2012.

The CFI's pilot logbook was not available for examination; however on his most recent medical certificate application he reported that he had logged 20,825 hours of total flight experience; with about 120 of those hours in the previous six months. No other records of the CFI's flight experience were available. For most of the time following his retirement from military service the CFI had been working full-time as a flight instructor, with most of that activity at SSF. The CFI was known to usually fly from the right cockpit seat any time there was another pilot in the cockpit, who would be flying from the left cockpit seat.


The pilot, age 54, held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single land. He was issued a third class airman medical certificate, with limitations, on September 17, 2010.

The damaged parts of the pilot's logbook that were found in the wreckage showed that he had 209.1 hours of total flight experience in airplane single engine land. 127.5 of those hours were in complex airplanes, and about 110 hours were logged as flight instruction received. There was no evidence that the pilot had ever before flown an airplane with a turbocharged engine.

The pilot, who was a law enforcement officer, had recently been receiving that flight instruction from the CFI in order to earn his instrument airplane rating and a commercial pilot certificate. Of the most recent 45 flights in the logbook, 29 of the flights were logged as flight instruction received from the CFI. Most of those flights were in a similar Mooney M20C and included the pilot's most recent flight review which was completed on June 6, 2011.


The four-seat, low-wing, retractable landing gear, single engine airplane, serial number (s/n) 1183, was manufactured in 1966. It was equipped with a 200-horsepower Lycoming model IO-360-A1A engine, serial number L-2509-51A, which drove an MT-Propeller, model MTV-12-B/180-59B, 3-blade wood composite propeller.

The engine had been modified with a turbo-normalizer system manufactured by M-20 Turbos, Inc., which was installed on July 21, 2009, under FAA Supplemental Type Certificate Number SE01643AT and SA01642AT.

The airplane had been modified by the installation of a redesigned pilot's and co-pilot's instrument panel equipped with a Garmin G500 dual screen Primary Flight Display (PFD) and Multifunction Display (MFD); Aspen EFD 1000 Pro Flight Display; Avidyne WSI AV300 Datalink Receiver; J.P. Instruments EDM-930, Engine Data Monitoring System; a back-up electric attitude indicator; and other modifications. The airplane was also equipped with an S-TEC 30 autopilot.

A review of the airframe logbooks and engine logbooks showed that the most recent entry was made on September 1, 2011, with entries certifying that an annual inspection had been completed at 6,343.2 total aircraft hours and 6,343.2 total engine hours since new. The total time since major overhaul for the engine was listed as 980.1 hours. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records show the airplane had been registered to the current owner since March 6, 1998.


The automated weather observation station at SSF, issued at 1653, reported wind from 170 degrees at 8 knots, visibility of 10 miles, overcast clouds at 3,400 feet above ground level, temperature 17 degrees C, dew point temperature 10 degrees C, with an altimeter setting of 30.04 inches of mercury.


At 1653:30, N9224M (voice identified as the pilot) contacted the SSF Federal Contract Tower (FCT) controller and advised he was ready to taxi with information Romeo

At 1653:47, the controller responded

At 1653:51, N9224M (voice identified as the pilot) advised he was VFR and going to T82

At 1653:59, the controller issued taxi instructions to runway 14

At 1654:06, N9224M (voice identified as the pilot) responded he was taxiing to runway 14

At 1654:16, N9224M (voice identified as the CFI) requested flight following, and during the next minute there were several exchanges between the controller and N9224M (voice identified as the CFI)

At 1706:51, N9224M (voice identified as the pilot) advised ready for takeoff runway 14

At 1706:58, the controller instructed N9224M to "turn left northeast bound" and gave clearance for takeoff

At 1707:06, N9224M (voice identified as the pilot) responded he was departing runway 14 and was turning northeast bound

At 1708:46, the controller instructed N9224M " … ah left turn to ah northeast"

At 1708:59, N9224M (voice identified as the pilot) said "mooney nine two two four turning back for ⦠" (there was a change in the sense of urgency noted in the voice of the pilot and the end of the transmission was cut off)

No further communications from N9224M were received.

At 1709:04, the controller said "mooney two four mike traffic a mile southwest of the airport cessna entering right downwind"

FAA Air Traffic Control radar showed at total of four returns from N9224M. The first two radar returns at 1708:32 and 1708:41 had altitude data at 800 feet. The last two returns at 1708:46 and 1708:55 had no altitude data.


The airplane impacted in a flat unimproved field. The debris trail from the main crater led on a direction of 330 degrees for 57 feet to the main wreckage. The wreckage came to rest in an inverted position with the nose of the airplane oriented to about 360 degrees. All major components of the airplane were observed at the accident scene.

The initial impact ground scars were 44 feet wide from tip to tip and showed the airplane impacted terrain in a partially inverted mostly nose down attitude with the end of the right wing oriented to about 190 degrees and broken pieces of green glass in the area corresponding to the impact with the right wing tip. The ground scar corresponding to the end of the left wing was oriented to about 010 degrees. The main crater corresponding to the impact from the propeller was deeper than the other portions of the ground scars and contained portions of a broken propeller blade.

The engine was separated from the engine mounts and came to rest upright. All three of the wood composite propeller blades were separated from the hub and were found at the scene. Two of the propeller blades displayed chordwise smearing and impact gouging on the leading edges, the third propeller blade was fragmented into smaller pieces which prevented examination of the blade faces.

The non-steel parts of the fuselage were almost completely consumed by fire. The right wing was observed inverted with impact compression damage all along the leading edge. About three feet of the outermost leading edge was crushed aft at about a 20 degree angle. The left wing was separated from the fuselage and had flipped to an upright position with similar impact compression damage all along the leading edge. Both ailerons remained attached to their hinge points and the flaps were still attached or partially attached to the trailing edges of both wings. Both fuel caps were observed still attached.

The empennage and about 5 feet of the tail cone were resting on its right side with the left horizontal stabilizer pointing up nearly vertical. The vertical stabilizer was nearly parallel to the ground. The right horizontal stabilizer was bent up and inboard, nearly parallel to the vertical stabilizer. The elevator and rudder remained attached at their hinge points and the empennage remained attached to the tail cone. There was a compression bending crease at about a 45 degrees angle across the left side of the tail cone forward of the tail cone aft bulkhead. The elevator trim tab was observed to be near a cruise trim setting.

The right main landing gear was in the retracted position in the right wing with part of the middle gear door still attached. The left main landing gear and the nose wheel were broken and separated.

Aileron control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to the right aileron where the pushrods were impact broken and separated from the bellcrank and aileron. Aileron control continuity was also confirmed from the cockpit to the left aileron. Rudder and elevator control continuity were confirmed from the control surfaces to the tail cone, but could not be confirmed to the cockpit due to the impact and fire damage. All control surface counterweights were observed at the scene.

The main cabin door was located beneath debris near the right wing root and all locking pins were in the extended position. Two AMSAFE Aviation Inflatable Restraint system inflator bottles were observed in the wreckage. Due to fire and heat damage it could not be determined whether or not they may have discharged at impact.

The postaccident examination of the airframe revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

After documentation at the scene, the engine was removed and examined separately. The engine exhibited impact damage and exposure to heat and fire. The propeller hub remained attached to the flange on the crankshaft. The magnetos and ignition harness were fire damaged and could not be tested. The oil sump was breached by fire. All of the rear accessories were damaged and partially consumed by fire. The valve covers and the top sparkplugs were removed. The spark plugs appeared clean and had a very clean bead blasted appearance. The gaps on the fine wire electrodes were observed pushed closed on the top number two and top number three spark plugs.

The crankshaft was rotated by hand and thumb compression was established on all cylinders. Engine drive train continuity was confirmed throughout. The cylinders were borescope inspected and signs of detonation were noted with a bead blasted clean appearance. The number one and number three cylinders were removed to facilitate photos of the cylinder heads and pistons. Three of the fuel injectors were removed; one injector was captured by molten material. One injector was found free of debris, and the other two were blocked by what appeared to be carbonized oil from exposure to heat. The fuel flow divider was opened and no anomalies were noted, other than heat damage to the diaphragm. The fuel servo showed signs of heat deformation and the servo inlet screen was captured by molten material. The oil pickup screen was found free of debris.

The turbo-normalizer system was examined. The turbocharger was deformed by heat and the impeller was seized with molten aluminum. The absolute pressure relief valve (pop-off valve) was also heat damaged and could not be moved. The turbocharger housing and pipe clamps were intact.


Certified Flight Instructor

An autopsy was performed on the CFI by the Bexar County Office of the Medical Examiner in San Antonio, Texas. The cause of death was listed as multiple traumatic injuries.

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the CFI by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Aeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The toxicology report stated: NO CARBON MONOXIDE detected in Blood; NO CYANIDE detected in Blood; NO ETHANOL detected in Urine.

The following additional findings were noted:

Amlodipine detected in Urine
Amlodipine detected in Blood
Azacyclonol detected in Urine
Azacyclonol NOT detected in Blood
Fexofenadine detected in Urine
Fexofenadine detected in Blood
Paroxetine detected in Urine
Paroxetine NOT detected in Blood
0.116 (ug/mL, ug/g) Tramadol detected in Blood
Tramadol detected in Urine

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chief Medical Officer reviewed the factual report narrative, the autopsy report, the toxicology results, the CFI's FAA airman medical certification file, and the CFI's personal medical records.

FAA records showed the CFI was first issued an airman medical certificate in 1987. In 1990 he reported a hospital admission for "hypertitis" and having previously had a negative evaluation for hematuria. On that visit, a heart murmur was detected but the pilot reported it had previously been evaluated. On a FAA airman medical certificate application in 1993 he denied taking any medications and reported having previously had surgery on a knee and shoulder. He was granted a first class medical certificate, limited by the need to wear corrective lenses. In 1997 he reported to the FAA that he had had his tonsils removed but in 1998 he recorded the procedure as a "UPPP" which stands for uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. This is a surgical procedure performed on the posterior parts of the throat to limit snoring, usually on patients diagnosed with sleep apnea. There is no record of any further evaluation by the FAA and the CFI did not report a diagnosis of sleep apnea.

In 2006, the CFI reported treatment for hypertension and after he supplied additional information about his cardiovascular condition, he was issued a second class airman medical certificate. The CFI continued to be medically certificated and his last FAA airman medical exam was performed on February 2, 2012. At that time he reported taking Lotrel for his hypertension (a combination medication containing amlodipine and benazepril). His blood pressure was measured at 129/78.

The toxicology testing revealed amlodipine in urine and cavity blood; fexofenadine (a non-sedating antihistamine marketed under the trade name Allegra) in urine and blood and its metabolite azacyclonol in urine; paroxetine (an antidepressant marketed under the trade name Paxil) in urine but not in blood; and tramadol (an opioid pain medication marketed under the trade name Ultram) in urine and in cavity blood at 0.116ug/ml.

A review of the CFI's personal medical records revealed the following diagnoses: sleep apnea, (treated with surgery in 1996 but reportedly requiring the use of a CPAP machine), nasal allergies, hypertension, gout, chronic joint pain, esophageal reflux, prostatism, depression, and anxiety.

The medical records demonstrate the most current prescriptions prior to the accident for tamulosin (used to improve urine flow in men with prostatism, marketed under the trade name Flomax), tramadol (a opioid pain medication that is a schedule II controlled substance and is marketed under the trade name Ultram), meloxicam (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory analgesic, marketed under the trade name Mobic), esomeprazole (heartburn medication marketed under the trade name Nexium), allopurinol (increases the excretion of uric acid and is used to prevent attacks of gout, marketed under the trade name Zyloprim), finasteride (used to improve urine flow in men with prostatism, marketed under the trade name Proscar), and paroxetine (an antidepressant marketed under the trade name Paxil).

The CFI's personal medical records showed he had been treated with tramadol once or twice daily since at least 2009 but continued to report chronic pain. In addition, in May, 2011, the CFI reported feeling depressed and was prescribed sertraline (an antidepressant marketed under the trade name Zoloft). In August 2011, the prescription was switched from sertraline to paroxetine (Paxil). His personal medical records showed the CFI had been intermittently treated with paroxetine at least as early as 2007. In September, 2011, the CFI reported to his primary care doctor that his depression was incompletely treated and that he was having trouble concentrating. He requested and received an increase in his paroxetine dosing. Although the CFI visited his primary care doctor, his urologist, and a rheumatologist in the ensuing months, there is no record of that any of his physicians addressed the status of his depression after September, 2011.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Bexar County Office of the Medical Examiner in San Antonio, Texas. The cause of death was listed as massive traumatic injuries.

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA, Aeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The toxicology report stated: NO CARBON MONOXIDE detected in Blood; NO CYANIDE detected in Blood; NO ETHANOL detected in Urine. The following additional findings were noted: NO DRUGS listed above detected in Urine.

The NTSB Chief Medical Officer reviewed the factual report narrative, the autopsy report, the toxicology results, and the pilot's FAA airman medical certification file.

FAA records showed the pilot was first issued an FAA airman medical certificate in 1977. He was continuously certified through 1983, then again in 1991. He did not report any medical problems or medications on any of those airman medical certificate applications. He reapplied for medical certification in 2010, when he reported hypertension and high cholesterol with the use of lisinopril (a blood pressure medication marketed under the trade name Prinivil) and simvastatin (a cholesterol lowering agent marketed under the trade name Zocor). The pilot's most recent third class airman medical certificate was granted on September 17, 2010. The autopsy found no significant natural disease was identified by the pathologist.


Several impact damage and fire damaged items which may have contained non-volatile memory (NVM) were removed from the wreckage and were examined at the NTSB vehicle recorder division in Washington, D.C. The items examined included a: Garmin GTS 800 Traffic Advisory System; Garmin G500 dual screen PFD and MFD; Garmin GNS430 GPS/Nav/Comm unit; JPI EDM-930 engine data monitor, Apple iPhone, and a Digital Camera.
No data was recovered from any of the units examined.


According to the FAA Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, page 6-14: "On most modern turbocharged engines, the position of the waste gate is governed by a pressure-sensing control mechanism (which is) is automatically positioned to produce the desired MAP simply by changing the position of the throttle control. Other turbocharging system designs use a separate manual control to position the waste gate. With manual control, the manifold pressure gauge must be closely monitored to determine when the desired MAP has been achieved. Manual systems … require special operating considerations … it is possible to produce a manifold pressure that exceeds the engine's limitations. (an overboost in pressure) may produce severe detonation ... To help prevent overboosting, advance the throttle cautiously to prevent exceeding the maximum manifold pressure limits."

According to the FAA Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, page 6-19: "Detonation is an uncontrolled, explosive ignition of the fuel/air mixture within the cylinder's combustion chamber. It causes excessive temperatures and pressures which, if not corrected, can quickly lead to failure of the piston, cylinder, or valves. In less severe cases, detonation causes engine overheating, roughness, or loss of power … Preignition occurs when the fuel/air mixture ignites prior to the engine's normal ignition event. Premature burning is usually caused by a residual hot spot in the combustion chamber, often created by a small carbon deposit on a spark plug, a cracked spark plug insulator, or other damage in the cylinder that causes a part to heat sufficiently to ignite the fuel/air charge. Preignition causes the engine to lose power, and produces high operating temperature. As with detonation, preignition may also cause severe engine damage, because the expanding gases exert excessive pressure on the piston while still on its compression stroke. Detonation and preignition often occur simultaneously and one may cause the other. "

According to the FAA Airframe & Powerplant Mechanics Powerplant Handbook; AC 65-12A, Chapter 10: "Unless detonation is heavy, there is no cockpit evidence of its presence. Light to medium detonation may not cause noticeable roughness, observable cylinder head or oil temperature increase, or loss of power. However, when an engine has experienced detonation, we see evidence of it at teardown as indicated by dished piston heads, collapsed valve heads, broken ring lands or eroded portions of valves, pistons and cylinder heads. Severe detonation can cause a rough-running engine and high cylinder head temperature.'

"According to the Champion Aerospace Aviation Service Manual; AV6-4, page 10: "The affect of (detonation) will sometimes damage spark plug electrodes or crack the insulator core nose."

The FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual, Chapter 8, contains the following instructions regarding fitness for flight: "CAUTION- The CFRs prohibit a pilot who possesses a current medical certificate from performing crewmember duties while the pilot has a known medical condition or increase of a known medical condition that would make the pilot unable to meet the standards for the medical certificate." In addition: pilots are prohibited from "performing crewmember duties while using any medication that affects the faculties in any way contrary to safety."

According to 49 C.F.R. 61.53, Prohibition on operations during medical deficiency ; "no person … may act as … pilot in command, or in any other capacity as a required pilot flight crewmember, while that person: (1) Knows or has reason to know of any medical condition that would make the person unable to meet the requirements for the medical certificate necessary for the pilot operation; or (2) Is taking medication or receiving other treatment for a medical condition that results in the person being unable to meet the requirements for the medical certificate necessary for the pilot operation."

The manager of the fixed base operator (FBO) provided records showing they had refueled the airplane about 1125 on the morning of the day of the accident. The main tanks of the airplane had been "topped-off" with 19.3 gallons of 100LL aviation gasoline from the FBO's 100LL avgas fuel truck (Truck #2). He also reported that immediately following the accident the FBO had stopped fuel sales and quarantined the truck. The manager took fuel samples from the truck and performed a "white bucket test". He reported that the fuel was the correct blue color and was clear and bright. He also performed a "white paper test" and the fuel evaporated in about 30 seconds with no residue or stain. Both tests showed that the fuel had no contamination from water, or foreign particles. During both tests the smell and feel of the fuel showed that there was not contamination from jet fuel or diesel fuel. The manager reported that the FBO lifted the quarantine after the satisfactory fuel quality tests were completed. On the next day the manager repeated the "white bucket test" and the "white paper test" under the direct supervision of an FAA inspector. Those fuel quality tests were also satisfactory.

NTSB Identification: CEN12FA170 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, February 26, 2012 in San Antonio, TX
Aircraft: MOONEY M20E, registration: N9224M
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On February 26, 2012, about 1709 central standard time, a Mooney M20E airplane, N9224M, impacted terrain during departure from Stinson Municipal Airport (SSF), San Antonio, Texas. The airline transport pilot and the private pilot rated passenger were fatally injured. There was a postimpact fire and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by Niclan Corporation, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a positioning flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed SSF at 1707, and was destined for Gillespie County Airport (T82), Fredericksburg, Texas.

A preliminary review of the air traffic control communications from the SSF air traffic control tower revealed the pilot made an incomplete radio call about 1708 that he was going to turn back. The air traffic controller saw the airplane flying southwest bound at a low altitude and shortly thereafter saw a cloud of black smoke about one mile south of SSF.

The air traffic controller activated the crash phone. A police department helicopter responded quickly and took airborne video of the aircraft rescue and fire fighting (ARFF) units as they arrived and extinguished the fire.

This is the crash site of Mooney M20E Super 21, N9224M that exploded on brushy property owned by the San Antonio Water System in the 1900 block of Rilling Road around 5:10 p.m. last Sunday February 26, 2012. The plane took off from Stinson Municipal Airport and was bound for Fredericksburg and then turned back toward the airport after departing. The crash killed both men on board.

This is the crash site of Mooney M20E Super 21, N9224M

National Transportation Safety Board Air Safety Investigator Tom Latson speaks to the media Tuesday February 28, 2012 near the site of a plane that crashed last Sunday shortly after 5:00 p.m. . The plane took off from Stinson Municipal Airport bound for Fredericksburg and then turned back and crashed in a field south of the airport. Two men in the plane were killed. The plane is being removed from the field for further investigation.

SAN ANTONIO - The family of one of the men killed in Sunday's crash near Stinson Airport spoke publicly about the crash.

The two men killed in the crash have been identified as 63-year-old Willie Bolton, of Schertz, Texas, and 54-year-old Forrest Horecka, Jr., of Marion, Texas.

Bolton, a veteran pilot, was believed to be flying the Mooney M-20-E, with Horecka as his passenger.

Horecka, a deputy with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department, was also a veteran pilot, and was working on getting his commercial license.

Horecka’s family said they are struggling to find answers in wake of the tragedy.

“I already find myself trying to talk to him when he's not here, and I just can't imagine if it's going to get any easier," said Horecka’s wife of 29 years, Carol Horecka. “He’s not here anymore, and we have to move on. But it's hard."

Horecka worked for the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department for 20 years.

While the NTSB continues to investigate the crash, Horecka’s family said they are planning his funeral and visitation for early next week.

NTSB Identification: CEN12FA170
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, February 26, 2012 in San Antonio, TX
Aircraft: MOONEY M20E, registration: N9224M
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On February 26, 2012, about 1709 central standard time, a Mooney M20E airplane, N9224M, impacted terrain during departure from Stinson Municipal Airport (SSF), San Antonio, Texas. The airline transport pilot and the private pilot rated passenger were fatally injured. There was a postimpact fire and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by Niclan Corporation, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a positioning flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed SSF at 1707, and was destined for Gillespie County Airport (T82), Fredericksburg, Texas.

A preliminary review of the air traffic control communications from the SSF air traffic control tower revealed the pilot made an incomplete radio call about 1708 that he was going to turn back. The air traffic controller saw the airplane flying southwest bound at a low altitude and shortly thereafter saw a cloud of black smoke about one mile south of SSF.

The air traffic controller activated the crash phone. A police department helicopter responded quickly and took airborne video of the aircraft rescue and fire fighting (ARFF) units as they arrived and extinguished the fire.