Friday, August 31, 2012

Aircraft expo to feature latest private planes

Some of Arizona’s leading aircraft dealers will show off their latest planes next week at the 4th Annual Arizona Aircraft Expo in Tucson.

The event, aimed at business aircraft owners and prospective owners, is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. next Friday (Sept. 7) and Saturday (Sept. 8) at the Million Air private-plane facility at Tucson International Airport, 1840 E. Valencia Road.

The free expo, one of three held annually in Arizona, will feature the latest models of general-aviation aircraft from Cessna, Cirrus, Beechcraft, Pilatus, Piper, Lancair, Quest, CubCrafters, Aviat, and more. A similar expo was held near Lake Havasu City in May, and another one is slated for Scottsdale in November.

The event also will highlight ownership services needed in acquiring aircraft, including representatives from Aviation Tax Consultants, AirFleet Capital, Pinnacle Aviation Insurance and Airport Property Specialists.

An ownership seminar will be held on the Friday of the event at 11 a.m., focusing on subjects including insurance, financing and tax implications for ownership.

For more information and to register online, go to

Toronto, Canada: For aviation devotees at Pearson, it’s all about the airplanes

 It’s warm, it’s sunny and it’s Wednesday — perfect conditions for plane spotting in Toronto.

Warm is good because, well, warm is good.

Sunny is good because that means you can see a long way.

And Wednesday is good because Emirates airline flight EK-241 will be sailing in from Dubai at about 3:45 p.m. — which is excellent.

“It should be here in about two hours,” says Ben Rotem, 15, who is what you might call a plane-spotter’s plane spotter.

The Thornhill high school student is a purist, even by the exacting standards of a rare and unusual breed — aviation zealots who like nothing better than to gather at airports and watch flying machines as they take off and, especially, as they land.

“Most people, they see a machine,” says Rotem, who will enter Grade 10 this fall at Stephen Lewis Secondary School in Thornhill. “For us, we see the power behind it. For my age, I have a rather deep understanding of aircraft.”

Dressed in a grey T-shirt, plaid shorts and dark sneakers, Rotem intends to be an airline pilot. Just now, however, he seems to be every mother’s idea of an ideal son — clean-cut, courteous, a bit precocious maybe and, above all, passionate about what he loves to do.

It’s just that what he loves to do might strike some people as being a wee bit compulsive.

“My parents, they do sort of think it’s a bit weird,” he admits. “I’m the weird one in the family.”

Opinion » Editorial: Eagle cam stars need a new home - Norfolk, Virginia


Opinion » Editorial: Eagle cam stars need a new home

None of the outcomes Norfolk faces to reduce the likelihood of another collision between plane and eagle holds much appeal.

Moving the eagles from their nests at the Norfolk Botanical Garden, adjacent to the airport, slams a hammer on the heartstrings of thousands who have watched eaglets hatch and followed episodes of the male eagle's efforts to court a new mate via the eagle cam.

Leaving the eagles at the garden could bring a fresh round of mourning if another of the endangered birds - a female eagle died after hitting a plane last year - meets its demise near a runway. And the potential for a more catastrophic result - a fatal plane crash, rather than $150,000 in damage - looms with every takeoff and landing.

That's by far the worst possible scenario. That risk means Norfolk must bear the sadness and make the effort to move the birds.

The danger is not far-fetched. Last week, an audit from the U.S. Inspector General criticized the Federal Aviation Administration's paltry efforts to monitor bird strikes at airports. Such incidents have soared in the past two decades, from 1,770 reported in 1990 to 9,840 reported last year.

But reporting is voluntary, which means the FAA has no idea of the real magnitude of the problem. An assistant inspector general said the office examined 40 of 209 airports and found that 21 of those did not know whether the FAA had reviewed their bird strike assessments and plans, or even whether they were required to conduct assessments or develop plans.

That's lackadaisical oversight of an issue that challenges safety at every airport in the country.

Twenty-four people have died as a result of birds colliding with planes since 1988, according to the report, and 235 have been injured. The toll on planes has been catastrophic: According to the FAA, 54 planes have been destroyed or damaged beyond repair. The FAA puts the annual cost of losses due to wildlife strikes at $600 million in the United States.

And the FAA ranks eagles as the sixth most damaging species in strikes to aircraft in an assessment that tallies the damage caused and its effect on flight.

Geese also pose problems - they rank third on the list, after deer and vultures, and caused one of the most famous examples of the terrible potential for calamity when birds and planes meet. U.S. Airways Flight 1549 lost both engines when it struck geese shortly after take-off from LaGuardia Airport in January 2009; the pilot famously landed the plane safely in the Hudson River.

Techniques to scare birds away - loud propane cannon blasts, recordings of predators' calls - must be used in conjunction with other methods, including making the area around airports less inviting to birds. And they must include another threat - in some cases, actual killing of birds like geese or ducks to avoid habituating wildlife to irritating sounds.

That's not an option with eagles, nor should it be. Eagles have been endangered for many years but have rebounded. Even in greater numbers, their symbolic importance to our nation means killing them is a crime.

Find the eagles a nice new neighborhood away from the airport's runways. Move the camera, too.



Why Planes Crash: An insider’s take on the aviation industry

David Soucie, former FAA investigator and author of the bestselling memoir, ‘Why Planes Crash: An Accident Investigator Fights for Safe Skies,’ is currently at work on his next book. 
Summit Daily/Erica Marciniec

Friday, August 31, 2012

By Karina Wetherbee
Summit Daily

Anyone who has ever been in an airplane, high over farmland tapestries or turbulent ashen gray waters, knows that unique feeling of surrender, when one gives over one’s fate to another, trusting in the skills of a well-trained pilot and the safety of a masterfully-built aircraft. At the same time, given this same scenario, a frequent flier knows the occasional feeling of doubt about whether or not all the pertinent mechanical systems have been checked and all airline employees well rested.

Some say that ignorance is bliss, that too much information can lead to increased anxiety, but others are firm believers that information and transparency are what keep systems running smoothly.

They’re goals that David Soucie, former aviation industry executive and author of “Why Planes Crash: An Accident Investigator Fights for Safe Skies,” spent a career fighting for, in an effort to ensure aviation safety.

A Colorado native and current resident of Summit County, David Soucie knows a bit about things that fly and even more about things that should fly, but fail to. In his memoir, the author documents his own trajectory from cocky and youthful airplane and helicopter mechanic to an airline safety inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration, an organization that, according to Soucie, has often been its own worst enemy when it comes to efficiency and effectiveness.

“Airplane safety — what people don’t know could kill them,” Soucie determined after 30 years in the industry, an opinion supported in his book by numerous stories of outdated decisions, cut corners and overlooked errors that led to dramatic accidents with tragic outcomes.

After watching several colleagues perish due to preventable hazards, Soucie made the conscious decision that what the aviation industry needed was more inter-agency collaboration. In “Why Planes Crash,” he claims that the Federal Aviation Administration suffers from the age-old problem that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, and often doesn’t care.

Soucie documents the steps he took to increase safety, which too often is pushed aside for profit. While struggling to maintain a normal family life with a new wife and a young child, Soucie’s career took him far afield from Colorado to Oklahoma, Washington D.C. and Hawaii. Through a series of tragedies and his efforts to determine their root causes, he ultimately came to develop a technology-based information-sharing network to help airlines, mechanics and regulating bodies utilize data for informed decision-making.

Despite the heavy use of mind-numbing acronyms so rampant in government agencies, the book makes for a good layperson’s read, with important messages hung on Soucie’s captivating life stories.

In a world where air travel is cheaper and more commonplace than ever before, Soucie’s “Why Planes Crash” reminds us that our watchdog agencies often walk a fine line between operational tools benefiting society’s needs and bloated departments bent on justifying their own existences.

As Soucie states, “I came to believe that the willingness of airlines and manufacturers to sacrifice safety for profit was the root cause of accidents. There was a nonprofit version of this insight as well, as practiced by the FAA. The FAA routinely sacrificed aviation safety in favor of promoting aviation.” Think on that the next time you head to airport — or not. After all, ignorance is bliss.

A Denver Post bestseller, “Why Planes Crash: An Accident Investigator Fights for Safe Skies” was authored by Soucie with Ozzie Cheek and released in October, 2011. Soucie lectures on the topic of choice in corporate and organizational decision-making. He is currently at work on a new book. For more info, visit

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Wings Field Airport (KLOM), Blue Bell, Pennsylvania: Wings and Wheels to touch down next weekend

Planes, trains and automobiles will be hitting the tarmac for what promises to be a day of food, fun and entertainment, all for a good cause.

The 22nd annual Wings and Wheels Show and Family Fair will be held Sept. 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Wings Field, 1501 Narcissa Road, Blue Bell. Tickets are on sale for $8, and there is no charge for infants and children in strollers.

The event will feature classic planes and cars, a steam engine locomotive, a presentation from the Franklin Institute’s traveling science show “Flight,” live animals from the Elmwood Park Zoo and the return of the popular “Wing-Off”chicken wing tasting contest.

Additionally, many pilots will provide flights in their planes for $25 and $50 for those who want to fly on a vintage bush plane featuring glass sides that offer a spectacular view from the air. All pilots are certified by the FAA before they are allowed to take passengers up for a ride, event officials said.

The Wings and Wheels Show has evolved over the years into a well-known “community event,” said Ellen Spoehr, executive director of Angel Flight East (AFE), the nonprofit behind the event.

Last year, work had been done to the field, forcing the event to be postponed, she said, but this year promises a return to form. Featuring 60 unique cars, including the Model A and military vehicles, a steam engine locomotive and children’s activities like a moonbounce, Spoehr said the event will be a hit.

All proceeds from the event benefit AFE.

AFE is a volunteer pilot organization started in 1989 that provides all expense paid flights for medical patients who lack financial resources to travel commercially or have a condition that makes it impossible to use public transportation, according to Kristinia Luke, mission coordinator for AFE. The organization travels as far as 1,000 nautical miles to help patients get to where they need to go, she said.

“All travelers must be ambulatory and medically stable, able to board an aircraft with little assistance and able to fly in light aircraft without on-board medical support,” according to an AFE publication.

In addition to helping medical patients and their families get to the medical care they need, Spoehr said, AFE provides disaster relief and compassionate flights. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, pilots representing the organization flew in supplies to help. Additionally, compassionate flights are given to people who have special circumstances such as a person dying who wants to spend their remaining days with their family members who happen to live on the opposite side of the country.

All funding for AFE is provided through private donations, said Jim Devine, chairman of the events committee, which allows for more than 400 missions to be flown each year. Many pilots “adopt” a patient or family and fly them to wherever they need, which Luke said is “great to see.”

While the organization has been running for more than 20 years, the most difficult task, Spoehr said, has been community awareness.

“Our job is to get the word out. We exist,”she said.

Devine said fundraising efforts have helped spread the word but social workers are the people the organization tries to make aware of the program the most. He said oftentimes their clients are the type of people AFE are able to help the most, they simply may not have known it existed.

Along with the private donations, events similar to Wings and Wheels are held to raise money, Devine said. The organization also makes appeals to donors and supporters and regularly applies for grants, which he said can be a rigorous qualification process.

For more information about AFE, visit or call 215-358-1900. 


Fort Wayne workers see fruits of their labor with visit from fighter jet demonstration team

An F-22 comes in for a landing Thursday morning at Fort Wayne's Air National Guard base. Two of these high-tech stealth fighters are in town for the air show this weekend. Only one jet will fly; the other is for backup. BAE Systems global defense and aerospace company helped sponsor their visit for the air show. BAE employs 97,500 worldwide and its sales in 2011 exceeded $31.4 million. The plant in Fort Wayne makes vehicle management systems, 33 different modules, that help the plane fly. (Photo by Ellie Bogue of The News-Sentinel)


FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Although the average air-show spectator may not know it, the world's most advanced fighter jet relies on a sophisticated flight computer system largely built in Fort Wayne when performing its awe-inspiring stunts.

Members of the U.S. Air Force's F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team - in town for the Fort Wayne Air Show - visited employees of BAE Systems on Thursday, giving workers a rare firsthand glimpse at the important role their product plays in the Raptor's overall performance and the safety of its pilots.

About 50 BAE employees met the F-22 demo team - comprised of one pilot and half a dozen crew members - when it arrived Thursday with two Raptors at the Fort Wayne Air National Guard base on Ferguson Road. The visit came as a big morale-booster for employees who make critical parts for the F-22 but rarely, if ever, see the finished product, said Thomas Le, a BAE engineer who helped organize the event.

"It's just neat to see all your work going into a portion of the fighter jet," Le told The News-Sentinel ( ). "You get to see the finished product, and it's really cool."

F-22 demo pilot Maj. Henry "Schadow" Schantz and his crew also toured the BAE plant, 2000 Taylor Street, spoke to employees about the Raptor and held an hour-long question-and-answer session.

While BAE builds primarily commercial products, military work represents about 20 percent of the Fort Wayne plant's business, said company spokesman Jeff Benzing. The plant employs more than 1,100 people, including at least 100 directly involved with military programs, he said.

The plant makes circuit cards that comprise much of the Raptor's "brain," transmitting data from the pilot's control stick to guide the plane's movements, said Corin Beck, director of the company's fixed-wing avionics division. The plant also builds computer flight systems for the F-18 Super Hornet fighter jet and the UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters.

The F-22 can hit Mach 2 - or between 1,200 and 1,300 miles per hour - and pull off dizzying maneuvers safely because of the Fort Wayne-built system, which essentially thinks for itself and adjusts the pilot's commands based on current conditions, Schantz said.

"This aircraft is very, very, very smart," he said. "It will go where it thinks the pilot wants to go, in a very efficient manner."

Although pilots consider each of the Raptor's parts important, the aircraft could fly safely without some of its components, Schantz said. But without the circuit cards produced at BAE, Schantz said, he could never get off the ground.

Beck said BAE prides itself on its reliable products, noting that the last F-22 - production of new Raptors ended earlier this year - came out of assembly without a single defect. Schantz also thanked workers Thursday for making quality parts, saying the digital flight system helps him focus on missions and land safely.

"Thank you guys so much for what you do, bringing us home safe each and every day," Schantz told workers.

Le, the BAE engineer, said he sensed a mutual respect between the Raptor crew and the local workers who help build the aircraft.

"They get to see the people who build the products, and we get to see the people who fly and maintain the F-22," he said. "I think there's a lot of respect there."
Information from: The News-Sentinel,

(Story distributed by The Associated Press)