Thursday, May 10, 2012

Livingston Municipal (8A3), Tennessee: Airport boasts positive project, but not without headaches

By Liz Engel Clark 

LIVINGSTON – Ten shiny new T-hangars have been constructed at the Livingston Municipal Airport, but don’t try renting out these storage spaces for your airplane. They’re already sold out.

The hangars, which have bi-fold doors, water availability, plug ins and restrooms, are part of a two-pronged project that will ultimately quadruple the storage capacity at the Overton County airfield, located north of town on Airport Road. There’s already a waiting list for next year’s phase of the project, which will include the construction of 10 additional T-hangars at the site.

Johnny Halfacre, who’s chaired the airport committee since 1997, says Livingston Municipal’s been a busy place lately. The new hangars are part of a laundry list of improvements made over the last 10 years or so, including, most recently, a runway extension to 5,200-plus feet, so larger aircraft can land, a terminal remodel that affords pilots Internet access, trip planners and a full kitchen, and security upgrades that will include fencing and eight surveillance cameras.

Most all the projects were completed using federal grant money. When all the T-hangars are fully complete, he estimated its price tag at $1.5 million. Prior to the project’s undertaking, Livingston Municipal Airport, which is city owned, had just six hangars, and 14 planes were based in Overton County; eight were being stored in a maintenance hangar.

The new hangars were scheduled to be available to pilots starting May 1.

“We think by May 1, we’ll have 24 planes based here, and we think by May 1, 2013, we’ll probably have approximately 40 planes based at Livingston,” Halfacre said. “We’re growing. For a town our size, we have one of the nicest airports in the state.”

The T-hangar project did run behind schedule – about 60 days over, Halfacre said. The contractor, Freitag Construction of Crossville, will likely be hit with the overage costs associated with the delay – for the engineer that needed to remain on site while construction was ongoing – but that total was undetermined at press time. Halfacre considered the matter settled.

“They started on time (and weather delays) were part of it,” Halfacre said. “There was a lot of dirt to move and apparently, they didn’t have enough equipment and that’s where they got behind.”

And while airport officials have yet to put pen to paper in order to gauge the airport’s economic impact on the community, “We do have a list of businesses and factories that are using the airport now that weren’t 13 years ago,” Halfacre said. “We have a city industrial park and a county industrial park and we have the (Tanimura & Antle) lettuce plant out on (Highway) 111. All those factories use the airport for their business.”

The T-hangar project is expected to have a positive impact, at least, on fuel sales – both jet fuel and avgas are available. More hangars also mean more revenue for their rentals.

“We’ve got people in Livingston who have planes elsewhere. With this, they are going to bring their planes back home as soon as space is available,” he said. “They’ll be able to fly in and out of Livingston as their home base.”

Light sport aircraft guru Doug Hempstead gives talk on Allegro LSA planes

Doug Hempstead told LGA members the light sport aircraft Allegro LSA produces get better gas mileage than any of his automobiles.

Listening to Doug Hempstead talk about flying can cause one’s imagination to take off and soar. Those dreams don’t necessarily have to be brought back down to earth, thanks to the light sport aircraft Hempstead’s company produces.

The president of Allegro LSA, which currently operates out of Littleton, Hempstead was the featured speaker at last Wednesday’s monthly meeting of the Lake Gaston Association. He gave details on the airplanes the company produces as well as future plans he and wife Betty hold for the company. 

Allegro LSA deals in pretty much all aspects of light sport aircraft (LSA) in relation to the single-engine, one- or two-person airplanes the company produces. That includes production, inspections and sales and rentals as well as pilot training and certification.

Even though LSAs are small, low-energy aircraft, Hempstead said they are exceedingly safe, economical and user-friendly.

The Federal Aviation Administration approved LSAs in September of 2004 and completed rules and regulations for the category the following May.

“We’re about seven years into this, and it’s been incredibly successful,” Hempstead said.

LSAs are limited to a maximum weight of 1,320 pounds (1,430 pounds if intended for water operations) and a maximum air speed of 120 knots (138 mph), in addition to other regulations.

The Hempsteads started out as U.S. importers for LSAs and eventually bought an LSA producer out of the Czech Republic called Fantasy Air, moving it stateside.

The Allegro airplanes the company produces might be small and light, but that doesn’t mean they’re low on performance. In many cases, Hempstead said the Allegro outperforms the ever-popular Cessna 172.

“It will take off much quicker, climb much faster, cruise as fast, has a 45 knots stall speed, which is less than a 172, has a 12-to-1 glide ratio, which is much better than a 172, and it can land in as little as 300 feet,” he said.

In addition, Hempstead said Allegros are incredibly cost-effective and fuel-efficient, functioning on about a fourth of the operating cost and a fifth of the maintenance cost of a Cessna 172.

Hempstead recommends 87-octane automobile fuel to fill the 17-gallon tank on the Allegro, which usually burns fuel at a rate below 3.5 gallons per hour.

“Our planes get better mileage than any of my vehicles do,” he said.

For a normal take off, Allegros require about 350 feet, and they can land in as little as 300 feet. Their rate of climb is around 1,000 feet per minute, and the 12-to-1 glide ratio means the plane will glide 12 times farther than its elevation in the absence of thrust.

Obtaining a pilot’s license with a sport pilot rating requires 20 hours of training, which Allegro LSA can accommodate at its flight school, housed in Sanford, N.C. Sport pilots can operate in the U.S. or a foreign country that accepts the U.S. sport pilot certificate, which includes multiple European countries.

Sport pilots are limited to daylight flying with three miles of visibility or greater, can not tow an object and are not allowed to travel more than 10,000 feet above sea level or 2,000 above ground level, although private pilots with the correct medical rating are allowed to fly at night and take LSAs higher. Allegros have a service ceiling of 15,000 feet above sea level.

Among the interesting aspects of sport pilot certification, a person who has completed the 20 hours of training and holds a valid U.S. driver’s license is eligible to operate an LSA, provided he or she hasn’t had their pilot medical rating revoked in the past and doesn’t have any judicial limitations or administrative orders applied to their driving privileges.

“That means that if you have to wear glasses to drive, you have to wear glasses to fly,” said Hempstead. “If you get in trouble and the police say they’re only going to let you drive to and from work, you can only fly to and from work.”

Allegro LSA’s flight school in Sanford also serves as a distribution center, however all production of the Allegro airplanes take place at the company’s location at 231 U.S. 158-East in Littleton.

“We’re really proud to say that the only thing that we buy outside are the engines, the propeller, the instruments, the brake system and the fuselage, and those are done through our molds,” said Hempstead. “Everything else that’s done for the aircraft, we manufacture from raw materials in our own facility.”

Toward the end of the year, the company plans to move to a new facility at the Halifax-Northampton Regional Airport.

“We need to be on an airfield for testing delivery and so forth,” said Hempstead. “What’s happening now is we’re having aircraft that are coming in for inspection or repair, and once they land at the airport over there, we’ve got to go over with a trailer and pick them up, disassemble them, haul them here, do the repairs and haul them back there.”

Transporting new aircraft to the airfield also involves disassembling and reassembling, not to mention, dealers and customers must be driven to and from the airport.

“It’s just time-consuming and expensive for us to do that,” Hempstead said.

Allegro LSA takes great care to ensure customers are getting a top-quality product .

“When we build these aircraft, we don’t want them to last a lifetime, we want them to last lifetimes,” said Hempstead, who noted the planes are built strong enough to withstand an emergency landing.

“Even if the plane landed upside down, the people inside would not be hurt,” he said.

Allegro LSA offers three models of the same aircraft, with the price ranging from $89,000 to $99,000.

The company currently has 11 employees but is planning to increase its workforce to between 35 and 38 by the time it moves into its new facility, with a goal of producing two planes per month.

Allegro LSA has several initiative going. It’s working with Halifax Community College to produce a sport pilot training program based at the Halifax-Northampton Regional Airport. It’s also got a contract through an American company to sell a minimum of 10 planes per year to China.

“I’m really pleased with that, because we import so much from China, it’s my pleasure to be able to stick something back to them,” said Hempstead.

Grumman Acft Eng Cor-schweizer G-164B, N6993Q: Pilot uninjured in crop duster crash - Linn County, Oregon

A 68-year-old pilot was not hurt after a crop duster made a hard landing near Millersburg in Linn County Thursday morning.

Sgt. Art Sprague, spokesperson for the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, reports that sometime before 8:15 a.m., a single-engine Grumman Ag Cat was landing on a private strip at 33627 Hoefer Drive when it went off the runway and landed on its nose in a blackberry patch.

Kent Wooldridge of Albany, the only person aboard the plane, was not injured. He told responders that the left brake failed as he approached the end of the runway, causing the plane to pull to the right.

The propeller and wings of the plane sustained damage, the sheriff’s office said.

The Federal Aviation Administration will be conducting an investigation.

Mooney M20J/205 MSE, Sheridan Air LLC, N9154K: Fatal accident occurred May 09, 2012 in Sterling, Pennsylvania

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Final Report:

Docket And Docket Items  -  National Transportation Safety Board:

National Transportation Safety Board  -  Aviation Accident Data Summary:

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA327 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 09, 2012 in Sterling, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/19/2013
Aircraft: MOONEY M20J, registration: N9154K
Injuries: 2 Fatal,1 Serious.

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.

The pilot landed at the airport for the first time, and he and two passengers went to dinner with family members. They returned to the airport after dark for the return flight to the pilot’s home base. According to the surviving passenger, the pilot initiated the takeoff roll from a taxiway intersection and did not utilize the entire runway. The 2,478 foot-long runway had a 2.4 percent upslope in the takeoff direction, with a prominent hill and trees located past the departure end. The airplane became airborne at the runway numbers, which were just before the displaced threshold, and the stall warning horn sounded immediately after liftoff. The pilot attempted to climb above the trees; however, the left wing struck a tree, and the airplane crashed into the woods about 0.37 miles past the departure end of the runway. The airplane impacted the ground inverted and caught fire. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of a pre-impact mechanical malfunction or failure. According to the aircraft manufacturer, the expected takeoff roll for the airplane at the time of the accident was about 1,490 feet on a level runway, given a gross weight at takeoff of 2,714 pounds. Maximum gross weight for the airplane was 2,900 pounds.

The surviving passenger reported that the pilot did not utilize a checklist and did not complete any weight and balance calculations. The pilot should have aborted the takeoff when he realized he wasn’t going to liftoff in time to clear the trees.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s decision to take off on an uphill slope without utilizing the entire available runway, and his failure to abort the takeoff when he realized he wasn’t going to liftoff in time to clear the trees at the end of the runway.

"The Aerodrome Information was updated June 14, 2013."


On May 9, 2012, about 2225 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20J, N9154K, was destroyed following a collision with trees and terrain after takeoff from Spring Hill Airport (70N), Sterling, Pennsylvania. The commercial pilot and one pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured and one passenger received serious injuries. The airplane was registered to a corporation and was operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was destined for Republic Airport, Farmingdale, New York (FRG).

The surviving passenger reported the following. He arrived at FRG earlier on the day of the accident for the flight with the pilot and the other passenger. He stated that he was in the aft seat at all times, the other passenger was in the right, cockpit seat at all times, and the pilot was in the left, cockpit seat at all times. The pilot performed all flight duties and the other passenger did not fly the airplane. The flight proceeded to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where the pilot had the fuel tanks topped off. He did not recall the pilot performing any weight and balance calculations, nor did he observe him using a checklist at any time. He recalled that the pilot stated they were, “…a little overweight from Farmingdale.”

During the flight, the pilot elected to land at 70N since it was closer to the other passenger’s parents, who were picking the group up for dinner. He stated that the pilot had not flown into 70N before. On the first attempt at a landing, the pilot acquired the runway late and commenced a go-around to lose altitude. An uneventful approach and landing were then made.

After dinner, the group returned to 70N for the return flight to FRG. The pilot was aware of the hill at the departure end of runway 23, since they had seen it in daylight hours during their arrival at 70N. After ground operations, the pilot taxied the airplane to runway 23. He lined up for takeoff at the intersection of the taxiway and runway 23; he did not back taxi to the end to utilize the entire runway. The pilot advanced the throttle to begin the takeoff roll. The runway lights were on and appeared normal. The airplane became airborne at the departure end numbers, just prior to the displaced threshold. Immediately after liftoff, the stall warning horn activated. The pilot was “unable to recover from the stall.” As the flight approached the trees at the end of the runway, the airplane began a turn to the left of the runway centerline. He could see the trees approaching, and estimated that the airplane was about three feet above the trees. The left wing struck a tree, and they “went down.” The airplane landed upside down, and caught fire immediately. He was able to climb out of a rear window that broke out during the impact.

When asked about engine performance, the passenger stated, “I didn’t hear any problems with the engine at all.” Shortly before the crash, he recalled the front seat passenger asking the pilot, “Are we going to be OK?” to which the pilot answered, “I don’t think so.” He also stated that the wind was “very light” at the time of departure.

The father of the front seat passenger was interviewed after the accident. He stated that none of the occupants of the airplane had been to 70N before. The flight departed runway 23 from the intersection closest to the departure end of runway 5. He stated that all the taxiway lights and the runway beacon were working.

A witness reported hearing the airplane's engine, followed by the sound of the airplane colliding with the trees and ground. She went outside her home and could see the wreckage on fire. The surviving passenger came running out of the woods, calling for help.


The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. He reported a total flight experience of 272 hours on his commercial certificate application, dated July 11, 2011. The pilot’s personal flight logbook was not recovered.


The airplane was a single engine, low wing, retractable gear airplane, serial number 24-3372. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-360 engine rated at 200 horsepower.

The aircraft maintenance records were not recovered after the accident.


The 2253 surface weather observation for Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport (MPO), Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania, reported wind from 310 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 nautical miles (nm) or better with light rain, few clouds at 7,000 feet, ceiling 9,000 feet broken, temperature 13 degrees C, dew point 7 degrees C, and altimeter setting 29.64 inches of mercury. Sunset was about 2008 and evening civil twilight was about 2039.


A lighted hill, about 29 feet high, was located about 201 feet beyond the runway 23 departure end. Runway 23 was 2,478 feet long, including a 400-foot displaced threshold at the departure end, and had a 2.4-percent upslope. All airport lighting was reportedly operational at the time of the accident.

The intersection of the taxiway and runway where the takeoff roll was initiated was about 200 feet from (beyond) the approach end of runway 23.


The accident site was situated in a wooded area, about 0.37 nm southwest of the departure end of runway 23. The airplane wreckage was found inverted, on a heading of 090 degrees. All structural components of the airplane were located within the area of the main wreckage and there was no discernible wreckage path. A post-crash fire consumed a majority of the cockpit, cabin, and left wing. Several broken tree limbs were located adjacent to the wreckage; they exhibited smooth, angular cuts and black transfer marks.

The landing gear were found in the extended position and the wing flaps were found in the “takeoff” position.

Flight control rod continuity was established from the burned cockpit area to the rudder, elevator, and ailerons. The left aileron control rod was intact and connected to the left aileron. The bracket holding the forward eyelet of the left aileron control rod was separated from the underlying structure. The right aileron control rod was broken immediately next to the aft eyelet. The fracture exhibited indications of an overload separation. The eyelet remained attached to the right aileron. The pilot and co-pilot control wheels were linked together via control rods.

The engine was removed from the firewall and examined at the accident site. The propeller remained attached to the engine. The exhaust system was partially impact-separated from the engine; it was removed and the heat shroud was removed from the cabin heater assembly and inspected. No exhaust gas residue was observed. The engine was separated from the airframe and was suspended by a chain using a front loading tractor and back hoe. All rocker covers and spark plugs were removed. The spark plugs displayed an extended service life and a color consistent with normal combustion when compared to a Champion Spark Plug wear guide. The engine was manually rotated using the propeller; suction and compression were observed on all cylinders. The valve rocker arms were observed rotating in a normal manner. The accessory gears were observed rotating. All cylinders were examined using a lighted bore scope; no defects were observed. Nothing was observed during the course of the examination that would have precluded this engine from making rated power prior to impact.



A postmortem examination of the pilot was performed at the offices of Forensic Associates of NE PA, Wayne Memorial Hospital, Honesdale, Pennsylvania, on May 11, 2012. The autopsy report noted the cause of death as “Multiple traumatic injuries secondary to airplane accident (pilot)” and the manner of death was “accidental.” The report stated that the pilot was dead when the fire erupted.

Forensic toxicology testing was performed on specimens of the pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The CAMI toxicology report indicated no carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, or drugs.

Pilot-rated Passenger

A postmortem examination of the pilot-rated passenger, seated in the right cockpit seat, was performed at the offices of Forensic Associates of NE PA, Wayne Memorial Hospital, Honesdale, Pennsylvania, on May 11, 2012. The autopsy report noted the cause of death as “Combined effects of smoke inhalation with carbon monoxide poisoning and pulmonary edema and heat secondary to airplane crash and fire” and the manner of death was “accidental.”

Forensic toxicology testing was performed on specimens of the pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The CAMI toxicology report indicated 19 percent carbon monoxide in the blood. No cyanide or drugs were detected in the blood. The blood was unsuitable for analysis for ethanol.


Aircraft weight and takeoff performance was estimated using for the prevailing conditions at 70N at the time of the accident. According to the aircraft manufacturer, the expected takeoff roll for the airplane at the time of the accident was about 1,490 feet on a level runway, given a gross weight at takeoff of 2,714 pounds. Maximum gross weight for the airplane was 2,900 pounds. Runway 23 had a 2.4-percent upslope. The aircraft manufacturer did not have performance charts that incorporated runway upslope.

The body of Patrick Sheridan was carried from St. Ignatius Martyr Church after Sheridan’s funeral service on Tuesday.

Long Beach resident Patrick Sheridan, an aviation student at SUNY Farmingdale, was killed in a plane crash on May 9 in Pennsylvania.

Hundreds of people turned out on Tuesday morning to say goodbye to Patrick Sheridan, a Long Beach resident and Farmingdale State College aviation student who died in a plane crash on May 9, at age 34.

“These are my aunt Rose’s words: Patrick has left us too soon,” said Sheridan’s cousin Doreen Cooper, referring to Patrick’s mother, Rosemary. “He had a dream to become a pilot, which he did accomplish. He left us doing what he loved best — flying.”

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the crash occurred shortly after 10:30 p.m. last Wednesday. After taking off from Spring Hill Airport in Sterling, Pa., the plane, a four-seat, single-engine Mooney M20J with Sheridan at the controls, crashed in Wayne County, in northeastern Pennsylvania. Sheridan and Casey Falconer, 19, of Garden City Park, were killed and a third passenger, Evan Kisseloff, 21, of Oceanside, was injured but survived. Kisseloff took part in Farmingdale’s commencement ceremony last Saturday, which honored the two dead students.

“As far as the campus mood, there have been a lot of tears here,” Patrick Calabria, Farmingdale’s vice president for institutional advancement, said last Friday. “We’re devastated — especially students in the aviation program who knew the students who were killed … I didn’t know Patrick personally, but I’m told he just loved flying, that it was his dream.”

The flight the students took was not associated with any college program, the school said. They were apparently on their way to visit Falconer’s family in Pennsylvania. Sheridan was a licensed pilot.

According to Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the NTSB, the agency is investigating the accident. A preliminary report was expected to be made available on the NTSB website this week, but it will be a year before a final report is released, Knudson said.

The plane was registered to Sheridan Air LLC, which lists Sheridan as the owner and an address on Tennessee Avenue in Long Beach, where his mother lives. According to his Facebook profile, Sheridan was a 1996 graduate of Long Beach High School and attended Nassau Community College. He founded Sheridan Air last May, and was a senior at SUNY Farmingdale.

“Our campus is in shock, and we are all trying to come to grips with this tragedy,” said Calabria. “Our hearts are with the family and friends of the two students who died. President [W. Hubert] Keen has released a message to the entire campus community and has reached out to the families of the victims to offer whatever comfort and support is needed, as well as to the student who survived.”

St. Ignatius Martyr Church was filled with mourners at Tuesday’s 10 a.m. funeral mass, with many people wiping away tears.

“She was devastated,” Deacon Tom Evrard said of Sheridan’s mother, a widow who raised Patrick and his brother, Phillip, after their father died unexpectedly about 30 years ago. “But she’s at peace. She’s very religious and she works very hard for the church.”

Evrard said that Rosemary Sheridan is involved in a number of outreach programs at St. Ignatius. “‘Woman of the church,’ they call her,” he said. “She’s a very holy, prayerful person.”

Neither Rosemary nor Phillip Sheridan spoke during the funeral service, but Patrick’s cousin Dan McCormack recalled fond memories. “He was a good kid, and he was always on an adventure somewhere, always on the run, and it’s very sad that he had to go so early,” McCormack said. “I’m going to miss him.”

McCormack, who played bagpipes outside the church before and after the mass to honor the family’s Irish heritage, said that Sheridan was always “doing his own thing,” and his mother said that he frequently invited neighbors to fly with him.

“He saw and visited more places in a very short time,” said Cooper. “He was looking for something. He will be missed, but I believe he is in a far better place today and he is at peace. He is fulfilled.”

Alex Costello and Anthony Rifilato contributed to this story.

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA327
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 09, 2012 in Sterling, PA
Aircraft: MOONEY M20J, registration: N9154K
Injuries: 2 Fatal,1 Serious.

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 May 9, 2012, about 2225 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20J, N9154K, was substantially damaged following a collision with trees and terrain after takeoff from Spring Hill Airport (70N), Sterling, Pennsylvania. The certificated commercial pilot and one pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured and one passenger received serious injuries. The airplane was registered to a corporation and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was destined for Republic Airport, Farmingdale, New York (FRG).

Reportedly, the flight arrived at 70N earlier in the evening after refueling at Lancaster, Pennsylvania (LNS). After the pilot and passengers returned to the airport, the flight departed on runway 23. Radio and radar contact with air traffic control was not established. The airplane crashed about 0.37 nautical miles southwest of the departure end of runway 23.

An initial examination of the wreckage revealed the following. The accident site was situated in a wooded area. The airplane wreckage was found inverted, on a heading of 090 degrees. All structural components of the airplane were located within the area of the main wreckage. A post-crash fire consumed a majority of the cockpit, cabin, and left wing. The landing gear were found in the extended position and the wing flaps were found in the takeoff position.

A lighted hill, about 29 feet high, was located about 201 feet from the runway end. Runway 23 had a 2.4-percent upslope. All airport lighting was reportedly operational at the time of the accident.

A witness reported hearing the airplane's engine, followed by the sound of the airplane colliding with the trees and ground. She went outside her home and could see the wreckage on fire. The surviving passenger came running out of the woods, calling for help.
Casey Falconer, a college student from Garden City Park who died in a plane crash in Pennsylvania last week, was devoted to aviation.
That’s the way Jean Radagan, professor of aviation at Farmingdale, recalled Falconer who she taught in her general aeronautics class in his freshman year. 
“He took flying very seriously. It was like his life’s passion,” Radagan said of Falconer, who had been a sophomore at Farmingdale.

She said the 19-year-old aviation major was universally liked by his peers.

He was very, very likeable. All the students loved him. He always had a smile on this face,” she said. 

Radagan said she recalled that Falconer would sometimes sit on the end of the runway listening to the sound of tower operations.

“He was almost addicted to the flying scene. He absolutely loved it,” she said.  

Graveside services for Falconer were held at Pinelawn Cemetery on Tuesday morning.

Falconer, 19, and fellow aviation student Patrick Sheridan from Farmingdale State College were killed last week when the plane Sheridan was piloting crashed shortly after taking off from Spring Hill Airport in Sterling, PA last Wednesday night.

The fixed-wing single-engine Mooney M20J apparently lost power minutes after it was airborne and reportedly crashed into the ground and burst into flames.

A second passenger in the plane, Evan Kisseloff, 21 of Oceanside, also an aviation student at Farmingdale, survived the crash.

“There was a point when I knew there was going to be an impact. I didn’t know when it was going to be, but I knew that it was going to be,” said Kisseloff in an interview posted online after participating in graduation ceremonies at Farmingdale on Saturday.

Kisseloff said he recalled the left wing of the aircraft striking a tree limb just before impact. He said he screamed for the others to get out of the plane as he crawled to safety but heard no response.

Falconer and Sheridan were pronounced dead at the scene.

Falconer’s wake at the New Hyde Park Funeral Home was thronged with people seeking to pay their respects to a young man some remembered as an Eagle Scout.

Members of the Falconer family declined to speak with reporters.

Kisseloff recalled that he and Falconer met when Falconer first started attending school in Farmingdale. He described him as a friend and confidante.

“He was the kind of person you could go to about anything,” he said.

He said he particularly appreciated Falconer’s sense of humor. 

“He had an adult sense of humor, a very mature sense of humor,” Kisseloff said. “His jokes still play in my head every day.”

He said he would remember both of his schoolmates for their devotion to aviation.

“I’m going to remember their love of flying,” Kisseloff said. “This field is based on passion, and that’s what I’m going to remember about them.”    

  Patrick Sheridan (left) and Casey Falconer (right)

Casey Falconer and Patrick Sheridan, the Farmingdale State aviation students killed Wednesday in a plane crash in Pennsylvania, are being remembered today (Monday, May 14th). 

Visiting for Falconer, who was 19 and lived in Garden City Park, takes place from 2 to 5 p.m. and from 7 to 10 p.m. at New Hyde Park Funeral Home. A funeral service for Falconer will be at the funeral home Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Visiting for Sheridan, who was 34 and lived in Long Beach, is being held from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at Christopher T. Jordan Funeral Home in Island Park.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated for Sheridan Tuesday at 10 a.m. at St. Ignatius Martyr Church in Long Beach.

 "In Our Hearts Patrick and Casey"
The message at the Farmingdale State College commencement
 (Credit: CBS 2)

Three days after a plane crash claimed the lives of two Farmingdale State aviation students, the wreck’s lone survivor joined his classmates Saturday at the school’s 93rd commencement ceremony.

Evan Kisseloff, 21, of Oceanside, survived a Wednesday night crash in Sterling, Pa. The plane reportedly stalled on takeoff from Spring Hill Airport – bound for Republic Airport – and crashed.

Patrick Sheridan, 34, of Long Beach, and Casey Falconer, 19, of Garden City Park, died in the accident. The school remembered the two with a moment of silence, led by Brian Maher, Director of the Long Island Educational Opportunity Center, who gave the invocation.

“Our hearts are heavy and our spirits are saddened as we face this tragedy together,” Maher said.

Amazingly Kisseloff, who was largely unharmed from the crash, marched with an estimated 600 fellow Farmingdale State students Saturday at Nold Hall. Kisseloff received a Bachelor of Science with honors in Aviation Administration.

“I’ve been looking forward to this day for a very long time,” Kisseloff said. “I remember being in the emergency room asking the doctor, ‘Am I going to be able to walk on Saturday?’”

He did.

Flanked by his parents, Alan and Nancy, and siblings, Jared and Brittany, Kisseloff recounted the fateful flight from just days earlier.

Sheridan owned the single-engine plane, which the trio took on a day trip from East Farmingdale to Lancaster, Pa. and then on to Spring Hill Airport to meet Falconer’s parents for dinner.

They all hugged Falconer’s mother, shook his father’s hand and said their goodbyes at the airport, Kisseloff said.

No more than three minutes after takeoff, according to Kisseloff, the stall alarm went off. Then a wing clipped a tree and the plane hit the ground.
“The first thing that came to my mind after impact was, ‘This is not how it’s going to end for me. This can’t be it,’” Kisseloff said.

Kisseloff, who suffered a cracked left rib and stitches in a heavily bandaged right hand, said he managed to escape through the rear passenger window before the plane burst into flames.

On Saturday, he donned a graduation robe and cap and took his place unassumingly in the procession.

“We’re very proud he accomplished what he accomplished,” said dad, Alan Kisseloff, who came up from Ormond Beach, Fla. to be at graduation. “Our hearts go out to the Falconers and Sheridans. No parent should ever have to suffer this kind of loss.”

Video - Interview with Evan Kisseloff

Evan Kisseloff survived the crash that killed two other students at his Long Island aviation school.  Farmingdale State University said Friday that Evan Kisseloff was expected at Saturday's commencement.

Patrick Sheridan (left) and Casey Falconer (right)

Air safety investigators at the accident scene of the plane crash in Wayne Co, Pa.
 (May 11, 2012)

 Air safety investigators at the accident scene of the plane crash in Wayne Co,. Pa. where two Long Island students were killed and one survived.
 (May 11, 2012)

Wayne County Emergency Management Director Steve Price stands by police tape on Bortree Road, Sterling, near Spring Hill Airport in northeastern Pennsylvania, where a plane crash killed two people Wednesday night, authorities said. A third passenger survived.
 (May 10, 2012) 

The charred debris of a private plane which crashed after taking off from Spring Hill Airport in Sterling, Pa. 
(May 10, 2012) 

 The mother of the pilot of a plane bound for Republic Airport in East Farmingdale from Pennsylvania shows a photo of her son. 
(May 10, 2012) 

 The mother of the pilot of a plane bound for East Farmingdale from Pennsylvania shows a photo of her son. 
(May 10, 2012) 

Meghan Campisi, 29, a neighbor and long-time family friend of Casey Falconer, gets emotional as she remembers him. 
(May 10, 2012) 

 Casey Falconer, 19, of Garden City Park, pictured on his Facebook page, and pilot Patrick Sheridan, 34, of Long Beach, were killed in a plane crash in northeastern Pennsylvania. 

 An undated facebook photo of Pilot Patrick Sheridan, 34, of Long Beach. 

An undated Facebook photo of Casey Falconer, 19, of Garden City Park. 

Andrew Salatti, 21, called 911 after he witnessed the crash of the fixed-wing, single-engine Mooney M20J plane that killed two Long Island aviation students from Farmingdale State College, a third student also in the flight program, survived.  
Andrew Salatti was watching an episode of "House" with his mother and younger brother when he heard a plane's engine stall. A thunderous crash followed moments later. "The whole house shook," Salatti, 21, said Friday. "We opened the blinds and saw a huge fireball."  From his house in rural Sterling, near Spring Hill Airport, Salatti had a clear view.

Steve, Patrick, Mike

Video - Interview with Patrick's mom

Graduating students of Farmingdale State College arrived for commencement on Saturday morning. And just steps away was a congratulatory message, mixed with a message of sadness for the two students who died in a plane crash on Wednesday.

The students are excited for their day, but at the same time they’re realizing that those two students will never get to do this.

“It’s so sad because of all the work and dedication that they probably put into it,” Chris Dunn of Massapequa Park told CBS 2′s Ann Mercogliano. “It’s just really sad.”

“Everyone is going to try to put it behind them right now and enjoy this special day,” Nick Field of Hauppauge added.

Three students were on board the private Mooney M20J when it crashed. They were leaving Sterling, Pennsylvania for Long Island.

Piloting the single-engine plane was 34-year-old Patrick Sheridan of Long Beach. He, along with 19-year-old passenger Casey Falconer of Garden City Park were killed.

Evan Kisseloff of Oceanside is the only survivor and he’s still recovering from the crash, but he planned to attend commencement.

His father described how his son saved his own life.

“The first thing Evan yelled to everyone was, ‘Get out, Get out,’ Evan’s father, Alan, said. “But he didn’t get any response from the two passengers up front. But he saw a window was broken and he was able to pull himself out.”

“I’m happy that at least one person made it out,” one graduate said. “I can only imagine how he’s feeling right now.”

At Farmingdale State College and at Republic Airport, flags are at half-staff. Falconer was an only child, and the day trip was to have dinner with his parents.

Neighbors fondly remembered the two men who loved to fly.

“I heard that [Casey] had a passion for becoming a pilot,” Falconer’s neighbor said. “He was such a nice kid and he helped the neighbors.

STERLING, Pa. - The two aviation students who died in a Pennsylvania plane crash will be remembered at Farmingdale State College's commencement ceremony Saturday.

The names of the victims -- Patrick Sheridan, 34, of Long Beach, and Casey Falconer, 19, of Garden City Park -- will be read aloud during the invocation. Electronic signs at the entrance to campus will also carry a message in memoriam, college officials said.

The lone survivor of the Wednesday night crash, Evan Kisseloff, 21, of Oceanside, is expected to attend the graduation, receiving a degree in aviation management.

"It will be felt. Everybody is going to be thinking about this," said Paul Pilipshen, 39, of East Islip, who is graduating Saturday and knew Sheridan.

At the crash scene in Sterling, Pa., investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board examined the charred wreckage Friday, searching for clues.

Ralph Hicks, NTSB's lead investigator, said 80 percent of the plane was destroyed by fire after it crashed in a wooded area 2,250 feet from the end of the runway at Spring Hill Airport.

"Every piece" of the plane has been accounted for, Hicks said. He said the wreckage will be hauled to a hangar in Clayton, Del., where investigators will try to determine the cause of the crash.

"We're looking at the whole, big picture. We'll take it apart and see what's left," Hicks said.
The crash occurred about 10:30 p.m., with the three students en route to Republic Airport in East Farmingdale. The single-engine Mooney M20J apparently stalled on takeoff, clipped some trees and slammed into the ground, authorities said.

Sheridan, the pilot, was a student in the school's professional pilot program, as was Falconer, the college said.

Sheridan's license was in good standing, with no record of any enforcement actions by the Federal Aviation Administration, officials said.

Investigators haven't determined whether Sheridan was also instrument-rated, which is required for nighttime takeoffs.

The students had dinner Wednesday with Falconer's parents at their home in the Poconos, and were returning to Republic Airport at the time of the crash.

Kisseloff, who suffered a cracked rib and bruises, was treated and released. From the rear passenger seat, he escaped the burning plane by crawling through a window, then called for help, authorities and witnesses said.

Wayne County Coroner Edward Howell said autopsies on Falconer and Sheridan were completed Friday. Toxicology tests, routine in NTSB investigations, were also done, he said.
No results have been released.

Ben Struck, chief flight instructor at the Farmingdale college, said he and the 30 students in the pilot education class are grieving and trying to figure out how to honor the students who died.

"They were good kids," he said.

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Counselors will be available Friday at Farmingdale State College on Long Island after two aviation students were killed in a plane crash in northeastern Pennsylvania.

WCBS 880′s Sophia Hall reports

Federal investigators hope to figure out what exactly caused the single-engine aircraft to go down Wednesday night. Authorities said the plane hit some trees while taking off from an airport in Sterling Township.

Killed were 34-year-old pilot Patrick Sheridan of Long Beach and 19-year-old Casey Falconer of Garden City Park.

A third passenger, 21-year-old Evan Kisseloff of Oceanside, survived. He was treated and released from an area hospital.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports Alan Kisseloff, Evan’s father, said it was pure luck that his son made it out alive. “Evan was in the back seat of the plane. The plane landed and flipped over, but he saw that the window of the back of the plane was broken and he was able to pull himself out,” Kisseloff told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. Kisseloff said the plane caught fire and his son wasn’t able to save the others inside.

Patrick Calabria, Farmingdale’s vice president for Institutional Advancement, said “Our campus is in shock and we are all trying to come to grips with this tragedy.” Clabria said the three were in a privately owned or rented plane and they were visiting friends and family. “It’s very tough on us and of course, toughest on the families,” he told WCBS 880′s Sophia Hall. It could take at least five days before the NTSB issues a preliminary report on the crash.

Reaction to Wayne County Plane Crash 

 Officials have released the names of the people involved in a fatal plane crash in Wayne County.

The four-seat, single-engine plane crashed in a wooded part of Sterling Township Wednesday night.

The pilot, Patrick Sheridan, 34, and a passenger, Casey Falconer, 19, were killed.

A passenger, Evan Kisseloff, 21, survived. All three were from New York State and all three were students in an aviation program at a New York State school. The pilot was certified.

The plane, according to school officials, was a private one the students were using for a personal trip.

“The airplane was actually inverted and about 75 percent of the airplane was destroyed by fire but the aircraft is all in one place but upside down,” said Ralph Hicks, National Transportation Safety Board Investigator.

While transportation officials investigate what led to the fiery crash, people reacted to the tragic news.

“Planes are really safe but every now and then something happens,” said James Scrobola of Wyoming.

Scrobola is 17 years old and learning how to fly. He said aviation students especially need to be careful when in the sky. The more you fly, he said, the better you get.

“It’s like driving a car, basically. It’s time you need, more and more time. Practice makes perfect,” Scrobola added.

John Kuzma has been a pilot since 1955. He is also an aircraft mechanic who said planes are safe, but anything can happen. Kuzma is familiar with the area where the Wayne County crash happened and said he thinks the runways in that area are short, and at night, of course, it can be hard to see.

“You have to be a fast thinker and have your head screwed on right, that’s what you have to do, ” Kuzma said.

NTSB officials said they expect a complete report on the crash in a year.
The two individuals killed and a third injured in a plane crash in Sterling Township late Wednesday were all aviation students from a New York college, authorities said today. 

Wayne County Coroner Edward R. Howell identified the two individuals killed in the crash as the plane's owner, Patrick Sheridan, 34, of Long Beach, N.Y., and Casey Falconer, 19, of Garden City Park, N.Y.

Sheridan — who owns the Sheridan Air LLC that the plane is registered to — was flying the craft when it struck trees upon takeoff from the Spring Hill Airport and crashed.

Both Sheridan and Falconer were pronounced dead at the scene by the Wayne County Coroner's office.

A second passenger, Evan Kisseloff, 21, Oceanside, N.Y., survived the crash and was transported by Lifeflight to Geisinger Community Medical Center from the scene.

All three individuals were aviation students at Farmingdale College at the State University of New York, Howell said.

Peter Knudsen, a spokesman for the National Traffic Safety Board, said the plane's flight plan listed Farmingdale, N.Y., as its destination.

Autopsies for both deceased victims are scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday.

The scene of the crash has not been opened to the media.

Authorities are securing the scene of the crash until investigators from the National Transportation and Safety Board arrive later this afternoon to inspect the damage, said Steve Price, Wayne County Emergency Management Agency coordinator.

The plane, a Mooney M20J single-engine model, crashed at about 10:30 p.m. while trying to take off from Spring Hill Airport in Sterling Township and appeared to have run into trees, Price said.

The plane caught fire in the crash and was extensively burned before responders from several area fire departments managed to extinguish the flames, Price said.

The crash came just four days after another plane crash in Wayne County.

On Saturday, Rock Hill, N.Y., resident Jeffrey Gilbert, 67, was killed after he crashed his Cessna 177 at Cherry Ridge Airport.

That crash is still under investigation by the NTSB.

Original story:

A small plane that crashed near a northeastern Pennsylvania airport, killing two aviation students from a Long Island college and injuring a third, was not flying as any part of a college program, a spokesman said Thursday. 

The pair who died in Wednesday night's crash were identified as 34-year-old pilot Patrick Sheridan of Long Beach, N.Y., and 19-year-old passenger Casey Falconer of Garden City Park, N.Y. Authorities identified the surviving passenger as 21-year-old Evan Kisseloff of Oceanside, N.Y. 

Wayne County coroner Edward Howell said all three men were students in the aviation program at Farmingdale College at the State University of New York. Howell said autopsies will be conducted Friday. Farmingdale spokesman Patrick Calabria said the plane was not owned by the college and the flight was not part of any college program. 

"The campus is in shock," Calabria said. "We're all trying to come to grips with this. Our hearts are with the family and friends of those killed and injured." 

Calabria said the college aviation program has existed since the 1960s, and has a pilot training track and an airport management track. Currently, approximately 200 students are enrolled in the aviation program. 

Sheridan was a senior, as is Kisseloff, according to Calabria; Falconer was a sophomore. 

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

Farmingdale College statement:
"Our campus is in shock and we are all trying to come to grips with this tragedy. Our hearts are with the family and friends of the two students who died. President Keen has released a message to the entire campus community and is in the process of reaching out to the families of the victims to offer whatever comfort and support is needed, as well as to the student who survived. Students, faculty and staff are being encouraged to use the campus personal counseling service which is standing by if they need," said Patrick Calabria, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Farmingdale State College.

Ramona Airport (KRNM), California: Death takes a friend

With children’s gifts in the background, Bo Donovan, who died April 24, points to something at Ramona Airport during the Toys for Tots campaign at the airport in December. Donovan started the annual Toys for Tots drive at the airport, with toys coming from every county airport. 
Sentinel file photo

Death takes a friend

By Maureen Robertson

The community lost a friend recently. Bo Donovan, Ramona Airport manager for the past six years, died April 24 at age 67 after a brief illness.

Donovan, whose career started in radio broadcasting, was a master communicator who was comfortable with himself, the public, and the media. He kept the airport in the community’s eye as one of the town’s key assets. Not a person to shine the light on himself, he brought attention to airport happenings and people, whether it was an open house with aerial fanfare and family fun or a visit from a Scout troop or special aircraft. His was an open-door policy, and he was eager to lead anyone interested in learning more about the airport on a tour. He could be relied on to present clear, no-nonsense reports if an accident or other major event occurred, and he remained accessible in emergencies, even sleeping at the airport during the 2007 wildfires.

Donovan made Ramona Airport air-central for the Marines’ annual Toys for Tots drive, turning it into a festive as well as worthwhile event. This past December, a row of 34 bicycles, surrounded by boxes and bags of toys, lined the walkway, and Donovan invited everyone — those arriving on the ground and from the air to donate toys for less fortunate children — to stay awhile, enjoy a hamburger, and visit.

A man who loved his job, he made Ramona his home. He compared managing the airport to managing a city. “We have law enforcement issues, we have regulatory issues, we have tenant issues, we have security issues, we have safety issues, we have infrastructure here. We’re just like a little city,” he told the Sentinel last year, providing a new perspective of the airport.

As airport manager, Donovan saw community outreach as one of his duties, and he seemed to relish it. If asked, he’d arrive at a meeting with a thorough presentation about the airport, from its early days in the 1940s to plans for the future. When the call went out for a sheriff’s citizens advisory group in Ramona, Donovan volunteered and served as chairman of its Community Safety Subcommittee. When the Main Street Parade returned last May, he was in it.

He viewed safety as a top priority. Next came serving the community. He welcomed everyone and encouraged residents and visitors to bring their children and grandchildren to the viewing area to watch the planes take off and land.

“I am here to serve not only the people here at the airport, people that are coming to and from the airport, the aviators — but the community,” he said in a Sentinel interview.

He was a true friend to Ramona, and his death, which came as a surprise to many who can’t imagine the airport without him, leaves a void.

Maureen Robertson


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Bo Donovan, Ramona Airport manager for the past six years, waves to the crowd as he participates in the 2011 Main Street Parade last May. He died on April 24. 
Sentinel file photo

Sky Diver's Daughters Fight State Farm on Death Benefits

MADISON, Wisc. (CN) - After making 7,000 successful jumps, a veteran parachutist died unexpectedly when he passed out shortly after jumping from an airplane and before deploying his parachute. His two daughters say his insurance company won't pay $400,000 in death benefits because of an exclusion that doesn't apply. 

 William O. Doherty, who was 53 when he died, made the jump so he could take pictures of other parachutists, his two daughters say in federal court in Madison.
Erin Doherty and Kelly Doherty say State Farm Life and Accident Assurance Company refused to pay their father's death benefits because his policy contains this exclusion: "Descent from an aircraft while in flight." But the daughters claim the cause of their father's death is unknown, since a coroner couldn't examine his body to discover why he passed out.

 "Within moments of his exit," they say, their father "lost consciousness and began to descend to earth in a backward fall with his arms and legs trailing upward. He made no sound. He made no gestures or movements. He drifted away from the group of parachutists. He did not pull the rip cord on his parachute; though the parachute was in working order. He contacted the ground without having deployed his parachute."

They admit that their fathers' death occurred during a descent from an aircraft, but say "his death was not causally related to, nor did it result from, descent from an airplane in flight."

 The daughters say "there is no medical proof possible as to the cause of death" because an autopsy could not be performed on his head or brain due to the violent nature of the fall.

Doherty held two life insurance policies from State Farm - one with a basic death benefit of $200,000 and a second with a basic death benefit of $50,000, plus a "universal life" death benefit of $150,000. Both listed his two daughters as joint beneficiaries.

Their father died on Sept. 20, 2008, but despite properly making claims and written demand for payment, they say State Farm refuses to make the pay-outs.

William Doherty was making the dive with Sky Knights Sport Parachute Club, which is near the airport in East Troy, Wisc. The club didn't return a call for comment.

His daughters are seeking payment of the $400,000 death benefits under a breach of contract claim. They are represented by David Albright of Eagan, Minn.

Drunk-Driving Charges Dropped Against Ex-Federal Aviation Administration Chief

FAIRFAX, Va.—A judge on Thursday tossed out drunk-driving charges against the former head of the Federal Aviation Administration after seeing video of the traffic stop and ruling that the officer had no legitimate reason to stop the driver.

Randy Babbitt, 65 years old, resigned his post in December after news of his arrest became public.

At a trial Thursday, General District Judge Ian O'Flaherty dismissed the case after seeing video that showed Mr. Babbitt making what appeared to be a normal left turn into a parking lot, even though the officer had said that Mr. Babbitt had been driving on the wrong side of the road.

Judge O'Flaherty called the traffic stop a "hunch" and dismissed the case before prosecutors could even present evidence of Mr. Babbitt's alleged intoxication.

Mr. Babbitt's lawyer, Peter Greenspun, disputed the fact that Mr. Babbitt was intoxicated in the trial's opening statement. He said the first breath test administered gave a result of .07, under the .08 legal limit. It was only subsequent breath tests that showed an intoxication level above .08, and Mr. Greenspun said police aren't allowed to give multiple tests until they get a result they like.

Mr. Babbitt, after the case was dismissed, told reporters he was glad to have the matter behind him and spoke graciously about the officer who arrested him.

"He certainly was acting in good faith," Mr. Babbitt said of the officer. In an emailed statement, Mr. Babbitt said, "I am thrilled the charges against me have been dismissed at trial and I have been found not guilty. "

Mr. Babbitt said he doesn't regret resigning from the FAA and that he plans to work in aviation consulting.

Mr. Babbitt was arrested in the city of Fairfax after attending a Dec. 3 dinner party with friends. Mr. Greenspun said Mr. Babbitt, a resident of Reston, Va., was unfamiliar with Fairfax roads. Several witnesses at the dinner party were prepared to testify that Mr. Babbitt drank 2½ or three glasses of wine at the party over a period of nearly four hours and that none saw any noticeable impairment.

"It is not against the law for Mr. Babbitt to have two or three drinks" at a dinner party, Mr. Greenspun said. "There was no reason for him not to get in that car."

Prosecutors had opposed the judge's decision to dismiss the case. They argued that the officer did have a legitimate reason to pull Mr. Babbitt over because of the way in which he made the turn and because they say he failed to use a turn signal.

Northwest Florida Beaches International (KECP), Panama City, Florida: Airport police chief resigns, arrested ... Former deputy faces gun theft charges

 WEST BAY — The former airport police chief was arrested and charged Wednesday afternoon for a 2006 incident involving the alleged forgery of documents and theft of weapons that were scheduled for destruction.

Tony Walker resigned from his post as police chief of the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport on May 3 when airport officials were notified a criminal investigation was being conducted.

Walker was employed by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office from 1994 to 2009 and when the alleged theft took place he was assigned to the property and evidence section.

“The allegations are that when he was over the evidence room he was supposed to destroy weapons that were confiscated and he did not destroy them,” said Walker’s attorney, Waylon Graham. “He used them for his personal use and then sold them to pawn shops.”

Walker faces felony charges of grand theft, dealing in stolen property and tampering with evidence.

An investigation was launched three weeks ago when it was discovered Walker sold 23 weapons to local pawn shops on three occasions. Sheriff’s investigators noticed the large amount of unusual guns and began looking into their origins.

“We noticed an assortment and a large number of weapons that had been sold at pawn shops,” said Sheriff Frank McKeithen. “We found that one weapon was taken from a 2006 destruct order.”

When sheriff’s investigators learned the guns were sold by a former employee, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was brought in on the investigation.

“This is not something we like to do, but when this happens we have a track record that we deal with it,” McKeithen said. “It’s not swept under the rug or taken lightly.”

About 20 of the weapons Walker sold previously had been in the custody of the Sheriff’s Office as evidence. The Sheriff’s Office collects evidence such as drugs and weapons and they are disposed of in various ways. Drugs can be burned, cars can be sold at auction and guns can be traded or destroyed, McKeithen said.

“The evidence is stored in what we thought was a safe environment,” McKeithen said. “For the 2006 destruct order, (Walker) was in charge and everything was done to process, but not all the property was destroyed. … It was signed off by two people and we thought we had procedures and maybe we need to do something different.”

Investigators believe that prior to the weapons’ scheduled destruction, Walker falsified documentation to indicate they had been destroyed.

“Some forgery and manipulation of records was done by him,” McKeithen said.

A warrant for Walker’s arrest was issued Wednesday afternoon, and he turned himself in at about 3:30 p.m. He was released on bond after he was booked in jail. The investigation is ongoing and there could be additional charges against Walker, authorities said.

 “Tony regrets what has taken place and he feels he has let down the Sheriff’s Office and the people who work there,” Graham said. “He feels really sorry.”

If Walker is found guilty of the charges, he will no longer be allowed to serve in law enforcement.

“He’s probably remorseful because he’s going to jail,” McKeithen said.

An earlier version of this story is posted below:

The chief of police at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, who resigned recently while under investigation by the Bay County Sheriff's Office, was arrested on felony charges this afternoon.

Tony Walker, who left the Sheriff's Office in 2009 to take the job as airport police chief, is charged with stealing guns slated for destruction in 2006 during his tenure as a deputy.

According to a news release from the Bay County Sheriff's Office and Sheriff Frank McKeithen, about three weeks ago investigators learned that Walker, who was a sheriff's deputy prior to become chief of police at the airport, had pawned nearly two dozen weapons locally. The serial numbers on those guns revealed that about 20 of the guns "had previously been submitted as evidence at the Bay County Sheriff's Office, and had been scheduled for destruction" in 2006.

But Walker, the release said, "stole the weapons prior to the destruction, and falsified documentation indicating that they had been destroyed." At the time Walker was working in the department's property and evidence section.

Walker was booked into the Bay County Jail this afternoon on charges of grand theft, dealing in stolen property and tampering with evidence.

Walker served as a sheriff's deputy for 21 years before becoming chief of police at the airport in October, 2009. At the time, airport executive director Randy Curtis said Walker was hired for his education and experience.

Long Lake, New York: Cessna 172 being towed by a Big Chevy Pickup through a slushy mess on a frozen lake


April 27, 2012 by ifoundjim 

Wow... Old school on how to get a Cessna 172 wheel-plane onto a supposed frozen runway in Long Lake NY. What a mess this is.

Student lands first solo flight at Watertown International Airport (KART), New York

Cody D. Nichols, 18, of Chaumont completed his first solo flight April 29 in this Cessna.

Watertown Daily Times

Cody D. Nichols, a senior at Lyme Central School, Chaumont, accomplished a feat April 29 that he’d been dreaming of since he was 7.

The 18-year-old from Chaumont flew a Cessna 172 Skyhawk by himself, successfully taking off and landing at Watertown International Airport near Dexter.

“When I got up in the air, I looked out the window and thought, ‘Wow.’ It was both exciting and nerve-racking,” said Mr. Nichols, who enrolled in a training course offered by Mike Williams Flight School this past winter. He plans to acquire his flight license this summer after logging 50 hours of air time.

Mr. Nichols said the course, which includes a 50-50 blend of coursework and flight time, has been a growing experience. But the most formidable hurdle, he said, is the art of landing an airplane.

“It’s a lot more challenging than I thought it would be, especially when there are crosswinds,” he said. “That’s why we picked a calm day for my first flight.”

Mr. Nichols will enroll in the fall at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, to study environmental biology. Eventually, he would like to use his aviation skills to do independent research at remote locations.

“I’d like to fly into areas with a seaplane,” he said.

Mike Williams Flight School, which has a staff of four flight instructors, can enroll up to eight students in its training programs. Students can start training at age 16, fly solo at 17 and acquire a license at 18. Completion of the program varies, as some students have finished in three weeks and others train for months, depending on their schedules. The cost of the program is $169 an hour.

“I try to make the course fun for students,” owner Michael C. Williams said. “There is reading and coursework, but students learn by flying the planes.”

Graduates have used their licenses in a range of professions, working for police and government agencies and as pilots for commercial airlines, Mr. Williams said.