Monday, May 07, 2012

Big demand for aircraft painting

Hamilton's new Aviation Painting Services is taking off. The joint venture owners are planning a multi-million dollar expansion by 2014 to take narrow body jets. 
Large overseas narrow-body aircraft could be regularly flying into Hamilton in a couple of years for a paint and total makeover if the pace continues at the city's new $3 million Aviation Painting Services.

The four-month-old hi-tech and certified operation at the Ingram Road site of Hamilton International Airport has painted 15 turbo-prop passenger and commercial aircraft, light planes and helicopters since its first commission to paint Eagle Air B1900s black with silver fern livery.

The demand for the services of New Zealand's only purpose-built aviation painting facility has surprised its joint venture owners, who are now planning a multi-million dollar expansion by 2014 to take narrow body jets.

APS has had to turn away jobs to paint large aircraft, because its biggest temperature-controlled 32mx32m painting booth is not large enough.

The lost work goes to Australia.

Phil Hanrahan, a Hamilton businessman whose company Riverlea Interests has a 50:50 investment in APS with the Waikato Aviation Cluster, said to make the proposed stage two development pay, it would have to attract overseas aircraft.

The expansion could cost up to $10m and would probably involve additional investors, he said. Land next door has been earmarked for expansion.

More research was needed but the Hamilton Airport site had the advantage of not being as expensive to develop or operate as a venture in Sydney or Auckland.

APS has transformed two Eagle Air B1900s to black for Air New Zealand and has one more to finish, said general manager Phil Byrne, an engineer seconded from Field Air to set up the facility.

"Air New Zealand wanted to do the black planes over the holidays so we opened on Boxing Day and have been flat out since."

The creation of APS has provided new work and extra skills for up to 30 contractors from Te Awamutu-based company Fleet Image, who have been trained in aviation electrostatic processes and equipment, Byrne said.

The planners of APS, which was opened with the help of a grant from NZ Trade and Enterprise, budgeted for 50 "jobs" by the end of this year, its first in business. It has done 49 already, Byrne said. Jobs can be painting a wing or another aircraft part.

The operation is booked up until nearly the end of the year, he said.

The big painting booth can take up to eight aircraft at a time.

It has an 8mx32m hydraulic lifting door and can be heated to 60-70 degrees.

Booths are ventilated and sealed from utility areas to keep out dust and dirt.


Blue Grass Airport (KLEX) since Comair crash

 If you fly out of Blue Grass Airport, or if you are a pilot, navigating the runways today is vastly different compared to August, 2006 when Comair Flight 5191 crashed.

Airport Executive Director Eric Frankl says, "As you can see now, obviously these two runways are separated, they don't cross one another."

Like many airports planned and built just after World War II, Blue Grass Airport had runways that crossed each other. When Comair Flight 5191 took off on the shorter runway, 2-6, they actually crossed over the longer runway, 2-2.

Frankl says, "In fact, Lexington used to have a third runway that crossed in this direction here, and there were three runways that crossed. That was not uncommon in World War II days. We would not build airports in that way just to avoid that confusion."

Blue Grass Airport already had plans to get rid of the short runway before Comair crashed. Today a new, longer runway, 9-27, has replaced the one 5191 used. The newer one does not cross the main runway, making it harder for a pilot to use the wrong runway like the Comair crew.

Don Evans, veteran pilot, says "The changes that have been made to this airport, make this particular scenario really not a possibility because of the way you have to get to the new runway. But nothing is fail safe."

Although it was not a factor in the Comair crash, changes have been made in how pilots take-off. They are no longer allowed to taxi into position right behind another plane cleared for take-off. The second plane must stop and wait at what's called the hold short line, not on the same runway as the plane about to take off.

"It slows things down a little bit, it gives the air traffic controller a chance to get a better picture of what's going on," Evans explains.

The investigation into the Comair crash revealed the captain and first officer were not focused totally on flying as they taxied away from the gate, talking repeatedly about topics that had nothing to do with safely getting the plane off the ground and that they failed to cross check and verify the plane was on the right runway.

Because of the Comair crash, it is now required training and standard operating procedure for the cockpit crew to double check their position during taxi. Officer Don says the Comair crash serves as a reminder to every pilot across the country.

"No matter how well you're trained, no matter how many hours you have flown, no matter how good you think you are, one simple choice could make the difference. Because like in this case, they had two choices to make, and the wrong choice was made, for whatever reason. And a lot of people lost their lives."


Video: Training K9 Dogs on Helicopters - North Fork Helicopter of Cutchogue, New York


Contributor Jeff Cully took this footage of K9 rescue dogs from Long Island Search and Rescue and local EMS volunteers getting used to getting into and flying in helicopters during a training session in Cutchogue on Saturday. Ray Feeney, chief pilot for North Fork Helicopters based in Cutchogue, was the instructor.

The volunteers and dogs started the training at 9 a.m. and ended the session at 2 p.m. This is the third year the program has been offered. Members of rescue teams regularly work with helicopters, but there has been no local training up until this program.

“The basics are to teach EMS personnel how to work around the helicopters, general safety and to get the dogs used to helicopters,” Cully said. “Some people cannot handle helicopters and the same goes for the dogs.”

Story, video and photos:

‘We’re totally in the dark’: Kings County Municipal Airport manager - Waterville, Nova Scotia, Canada

Art Patton, manager of the Kings County Municipal Airport, says there is a lot of uncertainty within the airport community over the future of the site. 
Kirk Starratt

A feasibility study announced May 1 to explore moving Kings County Municipal Airport, has stirred up more questions than answers.

Airport manager Art Patton said the study would determine whether or not to relocate the airport or close it in order to allow a possible expansion of the Waterville Michelin plant. The plant and airport are both located in Cambridge.

“The conclusion is obvious,” Patton said. “The only thing they can decide is to close the airport. I don’t think anybody believes the county can afford to build a new airport.”

Patton said the provincial and federal governments are not likely to spend that kind of money either.

“We feel it’s an asset to the county and an important part of the infrastructure,” Patton said. “Lots of people who fly in here tell us we have one of the nicest airports around.”

He said there are significant costs associated with maintenance and it would be nice to know what the future will hold. One potential hangar owner has approached the municipality and another has picked a site.

“Those are dead. No one will build here now,” Patton said of the hangar projects. “There’s a lot of uncertainty now. We’re totally in the dark.”

Patton said the $100,000 the province has committed to a feasibility study would be better used compensating hangar owners who would have to take their structures down.

Patton said the airport spends $247,000 a year on operating costs, most of which is spent locally, and there are three businesses located at the airport that depend on the facilities, pay taxes and have employees. The airport spent $158,000 on fuel last year.

He said the 70-year-old facility, once a private airstrip and later a municipal airport, has been a flight training facility throughout its existence. Hundreds of successful pilots have been introduced to aviation there, he added.

Patton said if there were 200 jobs to be added by a Michelin expansion, the airport wouldn’t like to move, but would support the added employment for the county.  
District councillor Basil Hall, a former pilot and aircraft owner who flew out of the municipal airport for 12 years, will serve on a selection committee for the study project. He also serves as a municipal representative on the Waterville Airport Co-op’s board.

Hall said he has mixed feelings because his attachment to the airport goes back a long way. However, if a Michelin expansion were to happen, the positive economic benefits would outweigh his personal feelings for the airport. The economic impact of the airport is significant, he added, but wouldn’t compare to an expansion at the plant.
Hall said he hopes the study doesn’t show the airport should close.

“We’re hoping for the best possible recommendation for the airport at the end of the day,” Hall said.

He added the co-op board members remain positive but there are concerned people in the airport community at the moment.

“If you’re a hangar owner, what do you do with your hangar?” Hall said.

He said he hopes he can make a contribution to the steering committee with his perspective on the airport and bring pertinent questions forward.

In 2007, the annual economic spin-off of the airport to Kings County was estimated to be in excess of $1 million.

Airport by the numbers

The Kings County Municipal Airport is located on the 94-acre airport site 16 kilometres west of downtown Kentville.

The airport features a 75-foot wide, 3,500 feet long paved runway and a 30,000 square foot paved apron with tie downs.

There are 11 hangars at the site, housing 32 aircraft.

The airport has averaged 750 aircraft movements per month, 8,800 per year, since 2000.

There are three office buildings at the airport and Valley Search and Rescue’s headquarters are located there.

Police investigating 'very suspicious' death near Lee's Summit Municipal Airport (KLXT), Missouri

LEE'S SUMMIT, MO (KCTV) -  A burned body has been found near the Lee's Summit Municipal Airport.

A spokesman for the Lee's Summit Police Department said the death is considered "very suspicious." The body is an adult, but the sex has not been released.

The body was found in the backyard of a home across the street from the Lee's Summit Municipal Airport. The body appears to have been burned including the ground around where the body was found.

The home is in the 200 Block of Northeast Strother Road.

Chopper5 is over the scene. Police have crime tape around a dark-colored pickup. No immediate word on the truck's connection to the case.

Government not turning its back on REDjet

Government is not about to turn its back on this country’s nationally designated airline REDjet, treating it as “some cast-off child”.

However, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart says that his Government has to ensure that all the I’s are dotted and T’s crossed before any steps are taken to invest taxpayers’ money in the private sector company. He said it is imperative that Government determine that the company is following all the rules and this country can truly realise value for money at the end of the day.

The Prime Minister made the comments during a wide-ranging address to those attending a meeting of the St. Lucy branch of the Democratic Labour Party in Pie Corner last night, where he touched on several issues including the effect of the recession on Barbados and the wider world, CLICO and the closure of Almond Beach Village.

Speaking more about REDjet, which suspended operations in March of this year citing concerns about the heavy subsidies that other airlines serving the region receive, Stuart said that he has asked the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Senator Darcy Boyce, to secure a copy of the company’s balance sheet so that they can see what has gone on in the company to date. He added that after this is done, they will be able to determine what should go on in the company in the future.

“It is a nationally designated airline and Barbados is not going to resile from that. The movement of visitors through the Caribbean increased during the time that REDjet was in the air and we have no particular interest in frustrating that.

“Barbados has a vested interest in ensuring that people from other parts of the Caribbean visit this country. Our largest source market for tourism is Britain, our second largest is the United States and our third largest is CARICOM, so we
have a vested interest in people being able to get here and get here at economical rates,” he told the gathering.

With that in mind, he noted that this country pays a few million dollars yearly to American Airlines to get that carrier to bring passengers from the United States to Barbados and vice versa, and as such, he maintained, Government cannot in good conscience support American Airlines which does not belong to us, and turn its back on REDjet.


Van Heeswyk Lightning, N62JV: Accident occurred June 01, 2008 in Marana, Arizona

(Court House News) A company that sells build-your-own-airplane kits may be liable for the death of an man who crashed in his creation, an Arizona appeals court ruled.

Gerard Van Heeswyck put together an Arion Lightning airplane distributed by Tennessee-based Jabiru USA Sport Aircraft LLC on behalf of the Australian Jabiru Aircraft company.

He bought the plane kit from Arion aircraft retailer Greg Hobbs and built it in Hobbs' hangar, located in Marana, Ariz.
After an inspection, a test pilot made a successful maiden flight in the plane. Van Heeswyck then flew the plane without incident between February and May 2008.

On June 1, 2008, however, the propeller assembly detached and Gerard died in the crash.

Gerald's wife, Susie, sued Jabiru on behalf of his estate. His daughters, Kristen and Victoria Van Heeswyck, joined the lawsuit against Hobbs, Jabiru and Sensenich Propeller Manufacturing.

A Pima County dismissed Jabiru for lack of personal jurisdiction, but the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division II, found that Jabiru had enough business contacts in Arizona to be sued in the Grand Canyon State.

"In 2006 alone - the year Gerard purchased the Jabiru 3300 engine - Jabiru's distributors sold at least 61 Jabiru products in Arizona, including five engines," Judge Garye Vasquez wrote on behalf of the Tucson-based court.

"While these sales may have accounted for only one to two percent of Jabiru's sales nationally, they amount to the 'minimum contacts' necessary to satisfy the due process clause," the April 24 decision states.

NTSB Identification: SEA08LA149
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, June 01, 2008 in Marana, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/08/2008
Aircraft: Van Heeswyk Lightning, registration: N62JV
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

While maneuvering adjacent to a private airstrip at a low altitude, witnesses reported observing the propeller assembly separate from the airplane. The pilot maneuvered towards the airstrip and leveled out on runway heading about mid-length of the runway. As the airplane crossed over the end of the runway, it banked to the left and descended into terrain, impacting an open desert field adjacent to several residential homes. Examination of the airplane revealed that the airframe and both wings were structurally damaged. The propeller assembly, including the propeller flange extension were found separated from the engine crankshaft. No further anomalies were noted with the airframe and engine that would have precluded normal operation. The attachment bolts were installed on a painted surface of the propeller flange extension. The paint surrounding this area was flaking away from the surface. Evidence of thread locking material was observed in the threaded areas consistent with installation instructions. Examination of the attachment bolts revealed that four of the six bolts exhibited fracture surfaces consistent with fatigue. One of the four bolts exhibited a multifaceted fracture surface with multiple origins around the circumference. Hardness of this bolt was checked and found to be within the specified hardness range.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The insufficient clamping force resulting in a fatigue fracture of the propeller extension attachment bolts and subsequent separation of the propeller assembly in flight. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's failure to maintain sufficient airspeed to avoid an inadvertent stall while maneuvering during the emergency approach to the airport.

On June 1, 2008 about 0816 mountain standard time, an amateur built Van Heeswyk Lightning experimental airplane, N62JV, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near Marana, Arizona. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant of the airplane, was killed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The local personal flight originated from Ryan Field Airport, Tucson, Arizona, about 0559.

Witnesses located adjacent to the accident site reported to a Federal Aviation Administration Inspector (FAA) that they observed the airplane over fly a private airstrip at an altitude of about 100 feet above ground level (agl) to the northwest. As the airplane passed over the end of the airstrip, witnesses reported observing the propeller assembly separate from the airplane followed by the engine "revving up". The airplane was observed making a "tear-drop" turn towards the airstrip and leveled out on a southeasterly heading about mid-length of the airstrip. The witnesses stated that the airplane continued flying on the runway heading. As the airplane passed over the end of the runway, it banked to the left and descended into terrain.


The pilot, age 62, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. The pilot also possessed a repairman experimental aircraft builders certificate. A third-class airman medical certificate issued June 30, 2003, with the limitation stated "must wear corrective lenses for near and distant vision." Review of the pilot's logbook flight records revealed that as of the pilot's most recent logbook entry on May 19, 2008, he had accumulated 640.5 hours total flight time, of which 9.8 hours were in the accident make/model airplane. The pilot had logged 5.3 hours within the previous 90 days and 2.2 hours within the previous 30 days to the accident. 


The experimental amateur built two-seat, low-wing, fixed-gear airplane, serial number (S/N) 7 was built by the owner/pilot. It was powered by a Jabaru 3300 engine, rated at 120 horse power and equipped with a Sensenich EX-Pitch Composite propeller. According to FAA records, the airplane was registered to the pilot on November 8, 2007. 

Review of the airframe logbooks revealed that the airplane was initially inspected and issued a special airworthiness certificate on December 24, 2007. The most recent maintenance performed on the airplane was conducted on May 4, 2008, at a total airframe time of 6 hours.

The Jabaru J ALL Constructors Manual, dated January 30,2008, states the following installation instructions and requirements for the installation of the propeller flange extension: 

"Objectives of this task:
To remove the universal propeller flange that is shipped with the engine and fit the model specific propeller flange extension to the crankshaft. While this is a straightforward mechanical task it is most definitely a critical task and care must be taken. The universal propeller flange is lock wired in place, however the depth of the propeller flange extension makes the use of lock wire almost impossible and so we use a strong Loctite to keep the flange securely fitted. This means that the cleanliness of all threads is critical. This task will require 2 people: 1 to stop the crankshaft from moving and 1 to loosen and later tighten the cap screws. This task is intended to be performed by the kit builder with the engine mounted to the aircraft. In the factory we do this task while the engine is fitted to a mobile engine stand so some of the photos will be slightly different to what the kit builder could expect to see.

Materials and equipment required:
Loctite 620
Thread cleaner – Loctite or Acetone
5/16" Hex drive socket, or alternately a 5/16" Allen key cut straight and fitted to a 5/16" socket
Torque wrench, set to 30 ft/lbs or 40 Nm

Remove the universal flange
The universal flange is held in place by 6 x 3/8" UNF Allen head cap screws, all of which will be reused. Cut and remove the lock wire from the 6 cap screws, then heat the cap screws with a heat gun in order to loosen the Loctite. Lock the engine from turning by holding a large blade screwdriver in the ring gear teeth between the starter motor and the adjacent alloy block (circled in the photo above right). Crack each cap screw in turn to break the Loctite seal and remove each cap screw and the related washer. Set the cap screws and washers aside for later use. Remove the flange and discard.

Clean and prepare the screws and hub
Clean the cap screw threads with a wire brush - make sure that there is no residual Loctite in the threads. Clean all threads with cleaning solvent (Loctite cleaner or Acetone) and dry. Run a 3/8" UNF flat bottomed tap all the way into each bolt hole in the hub, apply a cleaning solvent (Loctite cleaner or Acetone) into each hole and then blow dry with compressed air. Check that each thread is absolutely clean and dry before proceeding.

Fit the propeller flange extension
Set your torque wrench to 30 ft/lbs or 40 Nm and place it on top of the engine. Apply a few drops of Loctite to each screw hole, place the propeller flange extension on the hub and fit the 6 cap screws and washers. Have your helper lock the engine from turning and tighten all the cap screws firmly then torque each cap screw to 30 ft/lbs or 40 Nm, working in a criss-cross pattern as shown at right. Re-check each cap screw, applying steady pressure on the torque wrench until the torque value is reached. In the factory we have the workers change places at this point so that the torque values are set by one person and double-checked by the other as an additional safety measure."

According to a witness, the pilot had used his facility to build the airplane and had always brought his own expendable items in a small toolbox. Family members of the pilot reported that Permatex Medium Strength Threadlocker Blue was found within the pilot's toolbox along with various other sealants. 


Review of recorded data from the Tucson International Airport (TUS) automated weather observation station, located 32 miles southeast of the accident site revealed at 0753 conditions were: wind from 150 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear sky, temperature 24 degrees Celsius, dew point minus 8 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 30.00 inches of Mercury. 


Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the airplane came to rest upright within an open desert field adjacent to several residential homes. The fuselage was partially separated aft of the cabin area. The wreckage debris path remained within about a 30-foot circumference to the main wreckage. Two bushes, about four feet in height, were observed on the forward and aft sides of the right wing and appeared to be undamaged. All primary flight controls were located within the accident site. The propeller assembly and propeller extension were found separated from the engine and were located about .62 miles northwest of the accident site. 


The Pima County Medical Examiner's office conducted an autopsy on the pilot on June 2, 2008. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was "…blunt impact."

The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot. According to CAMI's report, carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and drugs were tested. Unspecified amounts of Alfuzosin and Metoprolol were found within the blood and liver specimens. 


On June 5, 2008, at the facilities of Air Transport, Phoenix, Arizona, the recovered airframe and engine were examined by a representative from Arian Aircraft under the supervision of the NTSB investigator-in-charge. 

Flight control continuity was established throughout the airframe from the cockpit controls to all primary flight control surfaces. No mechanical anomalies were noted with the airframe.

The engine remained attached to the airframe and exhibited no external damage. The propeller assembly, including the propeller flange extension was separated from the engine crankshaft. The engine was removed from the airframe and disassembled. The engine crankshaft, propeller flange extension, and attachment bolts were sent to the NTSB Office of Research and Engineering, Materials Laboratory Division for further examination.

Examination of the bolts revealed that four of the six propeller flange extension attachment bolts that attach the propeller extension to the forward end of the crankshaft were fractured in the threads where the bolt intersected the forward face of the crankshaft. The fracture surfaces on the four bolts exhibited signatures consistent with fatigue cracking and overstress. One of the four bolts exhibited a multifaceted fracture surface with multiple origins around the circumference. Hardness of this bolt was checked and found to be within the specified hardness range. A light green material was observed between the bolt threads and the crankshaft threads, consistent with a thread locking material.

Heavy fretting damage was observed on the aft side of the propeller flange extension where it contacted the crankshaft forward face. Wear matching the thread pattern of the bolts was observed on the bore of the attachment bolt holes in the propeller flange extension. 

Most of the surfaces of the propeller flange extension were partially covered with a silver colored paint. In some areas, the paint was flaking from the surface. In areas where the paint was adhered, the paint could be easily removed by scratching with a fingernail. A sample of the flaked paint was removed from the surface with tweezers, and the paint deformed easily under pressure from tweezers. No paint was observed on the surface that mated to the crankshaft or on the surface that mated to the propeller. However, paint was observed on the forward side of the propeller flange extension in the attachment bolt area including the washer contact area, and on the aft side of the propeller attachment flange. 

Silver colored paint covered surfaces up to the edges of the washer contact areas on the propeller flange extension. Light gray, dark gray, and orange material was observed on the surface of the propeller flange extension in the washer contact area.

Nice Work! Sonex Turbo Rotax 42 In/Hg 5250RPMs - Ground Testing

Video by impultion
"Some more ground-testing with the boost set to about 40". It delivers an awesome lot of power. Would be great fun to buy a tensiometer measure the static thrust."

Video by impultion 
"Another day with approx 1 hour ground running. Got up to about 4800rpms after the video shots that was the first one today with a propeller. Its a 68" warpdrive propeller only intended as a ground testing prop. Only som sanding and painting of the cowling left, putting the wings back on with new wingroot seals and she is more or less ready for to take to the skies."
 Sonex #37 Rotax Turbo First Start-up

Pilot lied about experience, Iowa flight school tells regulators - Livingston Aviation credited with disclosing information that man listed flight hours he never completed

An Iowa flight school tipped off federal regulators that a man training to become a pilot had falsely inflated his experience to get a license allowing him to fly privately using instruments, court records show.

Fahad Nabeel Hussein Al-Daous pleaded guilty Friday during a hearing in federal court in Des Moines to one count of making a false statement to the Federal Aviation Administration. Prosecutors agreed to drop a second count under a plea agreement, which revealed that information given to the FAA by Waterloo-based Livingston Aviation prompted the investigation.

Hussein Al-Daous admitted that he falsely listed more than 130 hours of flying he did not actually complete in a logbook the FAA requires pilots to keep of their hours, under a scheme that would allow him to obtain a commercial pilot’s license without paying for nearly as many flights required.

He faces a maximum of five years in prison when he is sentenced in August, but is likely to receive less time behind bars under federal sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors agreed to recommend that he be credited for cooperating and pleading guilty.

The aspiring pilot went through flight training at Livingston Aviation during 2010 and 2011. On May 21, 2011, prosecutors say he traveled to an airport in Ottumwa to apply for an instrument-rated license so that he could fly in conditions when instruments are required such as cloudy or bad weather.

Hussein Al-Daous listed on the application that he had completed the requirement of more than 50 hours of cross-country flight time as a pilot in command through Livingston Aviation. But he failed a test flight with an FAA examiner, and was denied a license. Hussein Al-Daous came back to the airport six days later, again filled out an application, and was issued a license after passing the test flight.

Court records do not detail how many hours Hussein Al-Daous truly had flown, but say he did not meet the minimum requirement for the instrument-rated license.

He applied for Livingston Aviation’s commercial pilot training program in September and that’s when the fraud was uncovered. The flight school compared his FAA logbook with its own billing records, which showed many of the flights he claimed he had made had not been paid for and had not happened.

Hussein Al-Daous admitted to falsifying his logbook and submitting inflated numbers to FAA investigators, even providing a chart showing which flights had been falsified during a meeting in Des Moines. He provided similar information during an interview with special agents from the FBI and the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General at his home in December, court records show.

Even after he obtained his instrument license, he continued to falsely list flights and “intended to use this falsely inflated flight data to obtain a commercial pilot license,” according to the plea agreement. In all, his logbook shows 90 hours of flight and 41 hours of cross-country flight hours that he did not complete.

Hussein Al-Daous has been released pending sentencing. Since his indictment in February, he has been free on the condition that he not leave Iowa and surrender his Saudi Arabian passport. Prosecutors say he has dual citizenship in U.S. and that country, and he needed an Arabic interpreter during court proceedings.

His attorney, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the general manager of the flight school did not immediately return phone messages Monday.

Terrorists eye small airplanes

WASHINGTON - Al-Qaida's most recent edition of Inspire magazine urges sympathizers to take advantage of opportunities to attack Americans in the U.S. homeland, using whatever means necessary. 

Small airplanes may be among their most sought-after weapons. 

U.S. intelligence officials have publicly stated al-Qaida no longer has the capability or the operational cover to dispatch 19 people to hijack jumbo passenger jets as they did during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. But smaller airplanes are within their reach. 

Just days before the 10th anniversary of the attacks last year, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI warned in an unclassified bulletin: "Al-Qaida-inspired violent extremists will likely try to identify and exploit vulnerabilities and gaps in general aviation security, which may make attacks using small aircraft appear more achievable." 

"General aviation is still the Achilles heel [of U.S. aviation] when you look at this sector [of transportation]," says Fred Burton, vice president of intelligence at Stratfor Global Intelligence. 

"To be blunt, you don't have the degree of scrutiny on the domestic private air flights that you would have with an inbound foreign flag carrier with our no-fly list and so forth." 

The wide open, hard-to-police spaces of the 1,969-mile U.S.-Mexico border are a major concern. 

"Even with the most sophisticated ISR surveillance-type of equipment, if somebody is determined to fly under the radar, both literally and figuratively, they probably can," says Jay F. Joseph, a retired Marine colonel and aviator.

Joseph's concerns mirror those laid out in a portion of the FBI/DHS bulletin, which read:
Lone offenders without ties to violent extremist organizations and members of terrorist groups such as al-Qaida, with general aviation training and knowledge, pose a potential threat to the Homeland because their plans to misuse or steal small aircraft would be difficult to monitor and predict.
"You could pop up from a rural ranch property or from the west into the air channels and drive a plane into downtown Houston in some kind of chemical or oil target," Burton says. 

That possibility is particularly challenging, considering the established link between powerful drug cartels located in Mexico and terror organizations. 

Mike Braun, former Drug Enforcement Administration chief of operations, told WTOP in 2008 and reiterated to Congress last October that "the nexus between drugs and terrorism is growing at a rate far faster than most policy makers in Washington, D.C. choose to admit, and far fewer will even talk about." 

He and other intelligence and security experts have long-warned U.S. officials about the confluence between them and the resources at their disposal, including large airplanes. 

"The cartels have great resources in terms of both personnel and aircraft to breach the security of the southern border," Joseph says. "And for whatever reason, if the activities, whether they be illegal or illicit, and if somebody wants to penetrate that border, they certainly can and it is virtually at will." 

The DHS/FBI bulletin also warns:
Al-Qaida and its affiliates have maintained an interest in obtaining aviation training, particularly on small aircraft, and in recruiting Western individuals for training in Europe or the United States.
The bulletin laid out three events involving small planes since 2002, including in April 2009 when a "Turkish-born Canadian stole a Cessna 172 aircraft from a flight school in Thunder Bay, Canada and flew hundreds of miles across the United States on an apparent joyride before landing on a dirt road in Missouri." 

Authorities in Texas point to a 2010 crash in Austin where a disgruntled software engineer crashed his plane into the IRS building, killing himself and igniting a massive fireball in the building. Several people were hospitalized in the attack. 

Recognizing that loopholes in general aviation exist, Burton says "short of adjusting our intelligence collection capabilities to monitor those kinds of flights, there's very little that you're going to be able to do to prevent that [attacks like the IRS crash]."

Flying Ace: Dave Dale of Owen-Ames-Kimball Company • Gulf Coast Business Review

Dave Dale, president of Owen-Ames-Kimball Company, once flew crop dusters in Kansas for a living. He stands here with his plane and co-pilot Hank.

Name: Dave Dale 

 Age: 53

Position: President

Company: Owen-Ames-Kimball Company

Industry: Construction

Headquarters: Fort Myers

Passion: Flying airplanes. Dale owns a Cessna 310 that he keeps in a hangar at his airpark home in north Fort Myers.

How he started flying: “My mom and dad were pilots; they flew for pleasure,” Dale says. “I started flying in my early 20s. I was going to escape construction and get into commercial flying.”

Flying for a living: “I did have an offer from Aloha Airlines,” Dale says. It was in 1987 and the pay was $10 an hour (flight time only) as a co-pilot on a DeHavilland Twin Otter. It was a part-time job for 80 hours a month and you had to be ready within 45 minutes’ notice any time. “It was in Hawaii, where a loaf of bread was $3,” Dale says. He turned down the offer.

Crop duster: Dale took a job as a crop duster in Kansas for a few years in the late 1980s, a kind of flying that requires precision and daring because you’re flying 10 feet off the top of the crops. Flying under power lines was routine. “It’s a lot quicker to go underneath,” Dale smiles. “I’ve had to miss deer,” he says. “It paid 65 cents an acre,” says Dale, who said he could spray 500 acres on a good day. “I never crashed,” he says. “It’s not as death-defying as it might look.”

Aerobatic flying: Dale did some aerobatic flying when he was younger. “It just pushes the envelope on flying, and you can do it safely if you have the right equipment,” Dale says.

Air sickness: “The only reason I ever was sick on a plane was when I was hung over.”

Flight instructor: Dale maintains his flight-instructor license, but he doesn’t consider himself a good teacher because he says he lacks the patience. Teaching a person who’s never flown before is more challenging than someone with experience. Plus, the demands of running a construction company don’t leave much time for giving flying lessons.

Flying commercial: Dale rarely flies commercial, and he doesn’t like it when he has to. “There’s no part of it that’s enjoyable now,” Dale says. “Now, it’s just an inconvenience.”

Stay cool: You have to be ready for any emergency that might arise and sometimes act counter-intuitively to maintain airspeed. “You can’t duck or wince,” Dale says. “You have to focus on what you need to do.”

What’s on his to-fly list: “I’ve never flown helicopters, so that’s on my list,” Dale says. “A few years ago I got my seaplane rating.”

Favorite plane: Dale loved flying a Waco bi-plane with its open-air cockpit and loud engine. “It flies like a truck,” he laughs.

Fringe benefits: One of the pluses of owning a plane is that you get invited to fishing and hunting trips because you can fly your buddies there quickly. For example, he’s planning a trip to Rum Cay in the Bahamas to fish with Steve Shimp, Owen-Ames-Kimball’s retired chief executive. “It’s a 35-minute run to the Keys,” he says.

It doesn’t add up: There’s no way to justify a private plane if finances were all that counted. Dale uses it to get to distant job sites and shoot aerials of construction projects, but even then he doesn’t charge the company. “It’s almost impossible to make an airplane pencil out.” Costs include hangar space, engine-maintenance, fuel and insurance.

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Job keeps Howard Moma grounded • Taylorville Municipal Airport (KTAZ), Illinois

Photo Credit:  Herald & Review/Mark Roberts 
Howard Moma is something of a one-man show at the Taylorville Municipal Airport. In addition to his main duty as record keeper, the 12-year employee cleans the facility, mans the phones and mows the grass along the airport’s six runways.
Photo Credit:  Herald & Review/Mark Roberts 
Harold Daugherty of Taylorville, several who visit the airport daily, looks over a jigsaw puzzle at the airport.

By Tony Reid

TAYLORVILLE — Howard Moma must go down to the airport again, to the lonely field and the sky.

And all he asks is some tall tales and a few travelers to share them with, by and by.

Moma’s job title at the city-owned Taylorville Municipal Airport is actually records clerk. He logs the planes that drop in and fly out and reports to airport Superintendent Bill Newberry, who also happens to be superintendent of city-owned Oak Hill Cemetery and therefore a man who already has a grave workload.

So that pretty much leaves the 68-year-old Moma as the sole hands-on airport employee, handling everything from the grass cutting (he estimates he mows the equivalent of more than 15 miles about every two weeks on the 300-acre site) to changing light bulbs and making a clean sweep of the restrooms.

And he loves his five-day-a-week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job. He’d landed at the airport in 1996 after retiring from a 31-year career working at the Caterpillar Inc. plant in Decatur. Moma didn’t know a thing about flying, although he’s since learned how, and says the urge that made him taxi towards a post-retirement career was the prospect of a deceleration into frustration if he didn’t find something to do after Caterpillar.

“Being retired is not easy,” he explains, sitting behind his neat counter with a model of the Wright brothers’ plane that started it all dangling from the ceiling above his head. “What do you do with another eight hours a day? So I came out here even though I’d never been to the airport before.”

It turned out to be a natural fit for a guy with an easygoing personality who cruises along on a current of down-home friendliness. His approach is appreciated by the single-engine pilots who arrive to share flying war stories, fret about the weather and maybe grab a cup of coffee or heat a snack in the microwave. The coffee maker and microwave, by the way, along with other creature comforts, were personally provided by Moma; there’s a cup on the counter for contributions to the java fund.

Outside are self-service gas pumps where pilots pull up like motorists and swipe their plastic to fill ’er up before heading back into the wide blue yonder. And with aviation fuel prices of a shade over $5 a gallon to go along with the warm welcome waiting inside the neat airport building, the whole Taylorville experience tends to promote a rapid climb in pilot mood elevation.

“You land at a big airport, and gas is going to be $7 a gallon,” said Craig Gifford from Minneapolis, who was flying something called a Bellanca Viking on his way home. “I just loaded 50 gallons and, at a savings here of $2 a gallon, that is worth one hundred bucks to me.”

He’s a member of the United States Advanced Aerobatic Team and was returning from a practice session in Florida. He enjoyed his brief stop in Taylorville and promised, when he’s passing this way again, to flip out of the sky and dive down for a return visit. “Nice airport, good and fast fuel pump and nice, cheap fuel price,” he said with a smile for Moma. “If I’m on this route again, I’ll be back, you betcha.”

Other visitors drop in more often — like every day — and don’t arrive by plane. One of them is an 89-year-old World War II paratrooper who drives up to shoot the breeze with Moma and work a jigsaw puzzle with him. Some of their previous efforts are tacked up on the wall, including a fiendishly difficult World War II scene of an American fighter attacking a Japanese carrier. A whole bunch of that puzzle is nothing but blue Pacific and Moma said it took them more than two weeks just to get the ocean backdrop assembled.

“The other day, a guy come in, I think he was from New York, and said, ‘Here’s your puzzle,’ ” said Moma. “He told us the last time he was here he saw us working a puzzle and decided he’d bring a new one with him.”

These pilot types are clearly a considerate breed, and Moma said some of them also have a very down-to-earth approach to life in the clouds. He cites the example of one aerial wanderer who had explained to him his simple midair restroom philosophy and how he knew when it was time to re-embrace the surly bonds of earth. “That pilot told me he fills up with fuel before he takes off and keeps an empty gallon jug with him in the cockpit,” said Moma.

“He said ‘When the jug gets full or the plane’s tanks get empty, that is when I am landing.’ ”

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