Saturday, October 13, 2012

Piper PA-23-250 Aztec B, Island Birds, N5553Y: Accident occurred October 13, 2012 in Charlotte Amalie, United States Virgin Islands

http://registry.faa.gov/N5553Y

NTSB Identification: ERA13LA019
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 13, 2012 in Charlotte Amalie, VI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/12/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-23-250, registration: N5553Y
Injuries: 3 Fatal,1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The accident airplane departed over water on a dark night and flew toward its destination airport at an altitude of about 1,700 feet above the water. Radar data showed that the airplane began a gradual descent on about the same heading before it leveled off at 200 feet above the water. The airplane continued at 200 feet above the water for another 18 seconds before its radar target disappeared about 5 miles from the destination airport.

The surviving passenger stated that she had flown with the pilot on this flight many times before. She stated that during the en route portion of the accident flight, the pilot flew progressively lower to "get under the weather." The passenger stated that she could see lights on the shore near the destination airport, and could see that it was raining. She recalled light turbulence and observed the pilot make his "usual" radio call. She next remembered the airplane "hitting a wall," and the airplane filled with water. She said that the pilot broke the window on his side of the airplane, and that she and the pilot egressed through it. She did not see any of the other occupants of the airplane after that. When asked if she noticed anything unusual with the flight or if the pilot provided any warning before striking the water, the passenger said no, and indicated that everything was normal.

Examination of the wreckage revealed damage consistent with a high-speed, shallow-angle impact with water, and no evidence of preimpact mechanical anomalies.

Weather data and imagery were consistent with the passenger’s account of flying beneath outer rain bands associated with a developing tropical storm southeast of the accident site. There was little to no illumination from the moon. Based on a search of flight service and commercial vendor records, the pilot did not obtain a weather briefing or file a flight plan before the accident flight.

The destination airport was tower-controlled, but the tower was closed at the time of the accident. The runway was located along the shore, with the approach end surrounded by water on three sides. Multiple instrument approach procedures were available for the airport; however, those instrument approaches were not authorized while the tower was closed. A caution printed in the plan view of the approach charts stated, "CAUTION: Pilots may encounter false illusory indications during night approaches to Runway 10 when using outside visual cues for vertical guidance."

It is likely that the pilot descended the airplane to remain clear of the lowering clouds and descended into the water due to the lack of visual cues.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's attempted visual flight rules (VFR) flight into marginal VFR conditions on a dark night over water and his failure to maintain sufficient altitude, which resulted in the airplane’s controlled flight into water. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's inadequate preflight weather planning.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On October 13, 2012, about 0458 Atlantic Standard Time (AST), a Piper PA-23-250, N5553Y, was substantially damaged during a collision with water in cruise flight near Charlotte Amalie, United States Virgin Islands (U.S.V.I.). The airline transport pilot was not found after the accident and is presumed fatally injured. Two passengers were fatally injured. One passenger survived the accident, and was found at sea with serious injuries. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the business flight carrying newspapers which was operated by Rainbow International Airlines under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight departed Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (TISX), Christiansted, U.S.V.I. about 0445 and was destined for Cyril E. King Airport (TIST), Charlotte Amalie, U.S.V.I.

Review of radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that a target identified as the accident airplane climbed to 1,700 feet after departure from TISX, where it leveled in cruise flight on a 330 degree heading for about 2 minutes. The airplane then entered a steady descent on the same approximate heading for the next 10 minutes until it leveled at 200 feet. The airplane cruised at 200 feet for the final 18 seconds of the flight until the radar contact was lost, approximately 5 miles from the destination airport.

The surviving passenger was interviewed by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). She stated that she was acquainted with the pilot and had flown with him on the newspaper carrying flights "many" times before. During the en route portion, the airplane flew progressively lower to "get under the weather." The passenger stated that she could see lights on the shore near the destination airport, and could see that it was raining. She recalled light turbulence, and observed the pilot as he made his "usual" radio call. She next remembered the airplane "hitting a wall" and "seeing a flash" before the airplane filled with water. She said the pilot broke the window on his side of the airplane, and that she and the pilot egressed through it. She did not see any of the occupants of the airplane after that. When asked if she noticed anything unusual with the flight, or if the pilot provided any warning before striking the water, she said no, and indicated that everything was "normal."

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with multiple type ratings. His most recent FAA first class medical certificate was issued June 1, 2012. He reported 17,000 total hours of flight experience on that date.

The pilot's most recent FAR Part 135 flight review was completed 12/30/2011.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was manufactured in 1963 and was registered to Cardair, Inc. It's most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on September 12, 2012, at 6,576 total aircraft hours.

The accident airplane was not listed in the operations specifications of the Rainbow International Airlines 14 CFR Part 135 operating certificate.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

An NTSB Senior Meteorologist provided a study of the weather surrounding the route of flight and the accident site at the time of the accident. A tropical storm advisory (Rafael) was in effect.

At 0453, the weather reported at TIST included few clouds at 3,300 feet, a broken ceiling at 4,600 feet, with 10 miles of visibility in light rain. The winds were from 070 degrees at 9 knots gusting to 15 knots.

The terminal area forecast for TISX in effect at the time of the accident expected northeast wind at 4 knots, visibility better than 6 statute miles with thunderstorms in the vicinity and a broken ceiling at 3,000 feet agl in cumulonimbus type clouds.

The terminal area forecast for TIST in effect at the time of the accident expected wind from the east at 8 knots with visibility better than 6 miles, showers in the vicinity of the airport, scattered clouds at 4,000 feet, and a broken ceiling at 10,000 feet.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite number 14 (GOES-14) infrared image at 0445 depicted an area of enhanced clouds associated with the developing Tropical Storm Rafael to the southeast of the accident site. In the vicinity of the accident site several towering cumulus type clouds were evident, and were associated with rain showers immediately east of the accident site, and over the route between TISX and TIST.

According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the moon was in the eastern sky, 9 degrees above the horizon, with 5 percent of the moon's visible disc illuminated.

The weather data and imagery were consistent with the passenger’s account of flying beneath outer rain bands associated with the developing tropical storm southeast of the accident site.

According to a search of Lockheed-Martin flight service and commercial vendor records, the pilot did not obtain a weather briefing nor file a flight plan prior to the accident flight.

AERODROME INFORMATION

Cyril E. King Airport (TIST) was located about 2 miles west of Charlotte Amalie, USVI, at an elevation of 23 feet. The airport was tower-controlled, but the tower was closed at the time of the accident. Runway 10/28 was 7,000 feet long and 150 feet wide, and was located along the shore, with the approach end of runway 10 surrounded by water on three sides. Instrument landing system and area navigation approaches were published for Runway 10, and a very high frequency omni-directional range approach was also published for the airport.

The instrument approach procedures were not authorized while the tower was closed. A caution printed in the plan view of the approach charts stated, "CAUTION: Pilots may encounter false illusory indications during night approaches to Runway 10 when using outside visual cues for vertical guidance."

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

Examination of photographs taken by divers revealed the airplane came to rest inverted on the ocean floor. The right wing was partially separated but remained attached to the airframe. Both engines were in their respective nacelles, and the landing gear appeared extended and locked, or in transit. The photographs revealed that no landing gear doors remained attached to the airplane.

Hydraulic deformation and tearing of the left wing and the belly skin of the airplane was consistent with a high-speed, shallow-angle impact.

The airplane was recovered on October 20, 2012, and examined by a representative of the Piper Aircraft Company as well as FAA aviation safety inspectors. The examination revealed control continuity from the cockpit to all flight control surfaces, and no evidence of any pre-impact mechanical anomalies.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The pilot was not recovered, and therefore no medical or pathological testing was conducted.


 NTSB Identification: ERA13LA019
 Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Saturday, October 13, 2012 in Charlotte Amalie, VI
Aircraft: PIPER PA-23-250, registration: N5553Y
Injuries: 3 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. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 13, 2012, about 0458 Atlantic standard time, a Piper PA-23-250, N5553Y, was substantially damaged during a collision with water in cruise flight near Charlotte Amalie, United States Virgin Islands (U.S.V.I.). The certificated airline transport pilot and two passengers were lost, and presumed fatally injured. One passenger survived the accident, and was found at sea with serious injuries. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the cargo flight operated by Rainbow International Airlines under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135. The flight departed Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (TISX), Christiansted, U.S.V.I. about 0445 and was destined for Cyril E. King Airport (TIST), Charlotte Amalie, U.S.V.I.

Preliminary radar data revealed that the target identified as the accident airplane climbed to 1,700 feet after departure from TISX, where it leveled in cruise flight on a 330 degree heading for about 2 minutes. The airplane then entered a steady descent on the same approximate heading for the next 10 minutes until it leveled at 200 feet. The airplane cruised at 200 feet for the final 18 seconds of the flight until the radar target disappeared, approximately 5 miles from the destination airport.

The surviving passenger was interviewed by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). She stated that she was acquainted with the pilot and had flown with him on this flight "many" times before. During the en route portion, the airplane flew progressively lower to "get under the weather." The passenger stated that she could see lights on the shore near the destination airport, and could see that it was raining. She recalled light turbulence, and observed the pilot as he made his "usual" radio call. She next remembered the airplane "hitting a wall" and "seeing a flash" before the airplane filled with water. She said the pilot broke the window on his side of the airplane, and that she and the pilot egressed through it. She did not see any of the occupants of the airplane after that. When asked if she noticed anything unusual with the flight, or if the pilot provided any warning before striking the water, she said no, and indicated that everything was "normal."

The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with multiple type ratings. His most recent first class medical certificate was issued June 1, 2012. He reported 18,000 total hours of flight experience on that date.

The airplane was manufactured in 1963, and its most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on September 12, 2012, at 6,576 total aircraft hours.

The airplane was recovered on October 20, 2012 and examination of the wreckage was scheduled for a later date.

At 0453, the weather reported at TIST included few clouds at 3,300, a broken ceiling at 4,600 with light rain. The winds were from 070 degrees at 9 knots gusting to 15 knots. According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the moon was in the eastern sky, 9 degrees above the horizon, with 5 percent of the moon's visible disc illuminated.


IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 5553Y        Make/Model: PA23      Description: PA-23-150/160 Apache
  Date: 10/15/2012     Time: 1200

  Event Type: Incident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Unknown

LOCATION
  City: ST CROIX   State:      Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT REPORTED MISSING NEAR ST. CROIX, VI

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


OTHER DATA
  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER


  FAA FSDO: SOUTH FLORIDA, FL  (SO19)             Entry date: 10/18/2012
 


Captain Kirby Hodge

 
ST. CROIX - What began as a search and rescue mission more than a week ago, ended Saturday when search and recovery crew members located the Piper Aztec aircraft that crashed Oct. 13 in waters south of St. Thomas.  

Sunday morning crews were brought in to remove the bodies of Rachel Hamilton and attorney Darwin Carr from the plane that had crashed just before sunrise with Hamilton, Carr, pilot Kirby Hodge and Valerie Jackson Thompson on board.

Hodge remains unaccounted for and Thompson, who was rescued hours after the crash, remains in stable condition at Schneider Hospital.

Government House spokesman Jean Greaux Jr. said that the aircraft was located on the ocean floor, five miles southwest of the King Airport runway, a little more than one mile northeast of where the plane disappeared from the radar screen a week before.

Greaux said DPNR Commissioner Alicia Barnes made the official calls to notify the families that the two passengers were confirmed dead and the medical examiner will be contacting them to do the official identification of the bodies before an autopsy is conducted later this week.

Family and friends continued to grieve on Sunday, and Hamilton's mother, Ramona Hamilton, said finding the bodies brings a sense of closure for them.

No information has been made available as yet about funeral or memorial services.

Thompson continues to recover at Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas, where families say she continues to be under close observation by her doctors and has been recovering slowly. She initially had been expected to be released after a few days last week, but took a turn for the worse, and is now also struggling after confirmation that her cousin, Hamilton, has been confirmed dead, according to Thompson's father, Valencio Jackson.

Despite Hodge still being missing, Greaux said the recovery mission has been officially suspended, but some consideration has been given by members of his family and the aviation community to do a few more independent missions, including sweeps of the many cays around the island in hopes that his body may have washed up in recent days.

Greaux said that situations such as this do not happen often and there is much to learn for all of the parties involved.

He said an official debriefing meeting will be held later this week that will include the government agencies, private entities and all of the volunteers who were a part of the search, rescue and recovery efforts.

"Through this, we found Capt. Cleo Hodge and the pilots of Ace Flight Center as very valuable resources," he said. "They provided essential information about the how, where, when and what, when it came to the flight information."

Saturday afternoon about 1 p.m. an area of oil sheen was discovered on the ocean's surface, and dive crews entered the water at that location in search for the missing aircraft, according to Greaux. Divers went into more than 100 feet of water and spotted the aircraft.

The aircraft was resting on its roof with one wing-tip separated and the other wing bent under the body of the aircraft; the engines were not separated from the wing.

Though scraped and dented, the fuselage, otherwise, was generally intact.

About four hours after the plane was located, the fuselage was floated and towed by Sea Tow Inc., using an inflatable air bag device. Divers secured the plane's openings and began the slow process of towing the aircraft to St. Thomas to facilitate removal of the bodies and securing the aircraft for investigations into the cause of the crash.

Greaux said recovery crews, including a number of local government agencies, a salvage company and a number of private boat operators had been involved in the search missions.

"At sunrise Sunday, the multi-agency team pulled the craft into a small jetty area and raised it more out of the water near UVI's marine center," Greaux said. "We removed the bodies at that time, and then proceeded to take the plane out of the water."

Neither of the two passengers had been fastened in their seats when they were found, Greaux said.

According to Greaux, a crane had been positioned from Saturday night and was used to lift the aircraft from the water and onto a waiting platform truck where it will remain for processing by the local and federal agencies handling the parallel ongoing investigations.

Eric Weiss, spokesman with the Transportation Security Administration Board, and Ronald Herwig, speaking on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration both have said that their agencies have launched investigations into the crash and will be deploying on-site investigation to the territory once the plane was located.

Greaux said Sunday the agencies are expected to have men on the ground as early as today.

A Coast Guard helicopter had located Thompson in the water around 2 p.m. - nine hours after the crash - and vectored in a marine unit from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources to rescue her.

Thompson had been swimming and struggling to stay afloat in the water without out a life vest, according to her statement to authorities.

She said the flight from St. Croix to St. Thomas had appeared to be a normal one with just minor turbulence along the way until she felt the aircraft hit the sea.

She said she felt water rushing into the plane and someone held her and pushed her out of the plane and into the cold dark Caribbean Sea, but she did not believe that the others aboard the plane were able to make it out, because the plane was sinking fast and she never saw anyone again.

Hodge had delivered a shipment of The Daily News newspapers to St. Croix and was returning to St. Thomas about 4:40 a.m. with a shipment of St. Croix Avis newspapers and the three passengers when the plane went down. Searchers found a bundle of The St. Croix Avis newspapers about 3 miles west of Buck Island off St. Thomas the next day.

Hodge is the only occupant of the plane still unaccounted for as of early today.

Greaux said Friday night the search crews had initially been using plotted paths based on Hodge's most probable flight path and the fact that Hodge was located eight miles away from the airport when he last made contact with the St. Thomas tower. Greaux said searchers later received information from the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Florida that gave a more specific location of where the aircraft was when it disappeared from the radar before the crash.

Hodge's plane fell off radar shortly thereafter at 4:57 a.m., more than 17 minutes into the 20 minute flight.

The U.S. Coast Guard led the rescue mission until they suspended the search and pulled their resources after three days. The mission of the remaining crews then shifted to that of recovery and was led by DPNR with the ultimate objective being to locate the aircraft and recover the missing passengers.

Greaux said the private and public multi-agency recovery team has also included: VITEMA; the Office of the Governor; St. Thomas Rescue; the V.I. Port Authority; and Sea Tow Inc. On Saturday, the Medical Examiner's Office and the V.I. Police Department's Forensics Unit joined the recovery efforts which were completed Sunday afternoon.

http://virginislandsdailynews.com


 
A crane lifting the plane from the waters adjacent to Cyril E King airport. 
Photo credit: The St. Thomas 
Source and Government House

 
The aircraft in water. 
Photo Credit: The St. Thomas 
Source and Government House

US Virgin Islands – A second body has been found aboard the Piper Aztec aircraft that crashed in the US Virgin Islands just over a week ago. 

 The St. Thomas Source is reporting that a crane lifted the bodies of Rachel Hamilton and Darwin Carr from waters adjacent to Cyril E. King Airport runway today (October 21).

Earlier reports indicated that the plane was spotted yesterday with one body aboard. However, when the aircraft was fully removed from the waters a second body also emerged.

Pilot Kirby Hodge is still missing.

The lone survivor, Valerie Jackson Thompson, was pulled from the water about nine hours after the plane crashed on October 13 during one of its usual newspaper delivery trips between St. Croix and St. Thomas.

On Thursday, the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Team in Florida provided local authorities with radar coordinates that were very instrumental in locating the plane early yesterday afternoon.

A search team found the aircraft after spotting oil sheen on the water relatively close to where the crash took place.

According to the St. Thomas Source, “the aircraft was lying on its roof with one wing separated but the fuselage generally intact”.

It took the search team several hours to remove the plane using an inflatable air-bag device as well as the crane.


http://bvinews.com


Philipsburg:--- Relatives of Anguillian Pilot Kirby Hodge and the passengers that were on board flight 5553Y-AZTEX are upset with the conflicting information they are being fed regarding the survival and search and rescue mission. 

Saturday evening relatives of Captain Hodge and other Anguillians were rejoicing when they were told that all six persons on board the aircraft were found alive. 

Hours later their joy turned into sadness when they learnt that the search and rescue mission was called off due to the inclement weather conditions and that only one female passenger that was on board flight 5553Y–AZTEX that left St. Croix en route to St. Thomas early Saturday morning crashed was rescued. 

The female survivor told rescue workers that all six of the passengers including her child exited the aircraft alive but they all got separated due to the bad weather conditions and high waves.

Information from San Juan Towers now states that the search and rescue was called off because of inclement weather and darkness of the night.

Earlier on Saturday afternoon, SMN News received information from the Towers at PJIAE which stated that they were informed that all the passengers were found in a raft drifting while the pilot swam to a nearby key. SMN News also received the same information from the Towers in Martinique.

Late Saturday evening SMN News was told that the information they received remained the same. However, information from St. Croix Airport states that only one female passenger was rescued and up to press time the other five passengers were not located including well known Pilot Kirby Hodge. 


The passenger that was rescued SMN News learnt was taken to St. Croix while scores of family members of the victims and the pilot gathered at a beach in St. Thomas to see if the Coast Guard was going to show up with their loved ones.

Kirby Hodge is a well known pilot and businessman from Island Harbour Anguilla. He owns Rainbow International Airlines which is responsible for air evacuation within the region.

This latest crash came just one week after an aircraft crashed on the V.C. Bird International Airport in Antigua where three persons including the pilot lost their lives.


Story and comments:   http://smn-news.com

Related:
http://theanguillian.com/2012/03/anguillian-airline-offers-improved-air-ambulance-services/

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – AN Anguillan pilot and five passengers who were earlier today (Oct. 13) involved in a plane crash and reported missing were found alive.
 

According to the St. Maarten News Network’s website the plane’s captain, Kirby Hodge, and passengers were found alive by rescue workers in St. Croix.
   
 Sources close to Hodge’s family in Anguilla suggest that the five passengers were found drifting in a raft that was prepared for them by Hodge while he swam to a nearby key.

 Reports circulated that Captain Hodge, who owns Rainbow International Airlines, and his passengers may have disappeared after taking off from St. Croix sometime after 6:00 a.m.
 

Hodge is a popular Anguillan pilot and well known entrepreneur, who is responsible for air evacuation within the region and delivering newspapers to the island of St. Croix from St. Thomas, was returning back to St. Thomas from St. Croix after picking up several passengers.
 

This morning, Air Towers in San Juan Puerto Rico contacted St. Maarten and Martinique to inquire if the flight manned by Captain Hodge had landed at any of the two airports.

 Shortly after rescue workers were dispatched in search of the aircraft.

  It was later understood that the wreckage of the aircraft was found but none of the passengers were located.

  Many family members and friends who prayed for Hodge and his passengers’ safe return rejoiced at the good news that they were all alive.

     This is the second plane to have crashed in the region over a seven-day period.

     On Monday (Oct. 8), Montserrat was in mourning following a crash of the national airline in Antigua late Sunday afternoon.
   
   Reports stated that shortly after 4:00 p.m. October 7, a British Norman Islander nine-seat aircraft operated by Fly Montserrat had crashed shortly after takeoff from the V.C. Bird International Airport.
   
    There were three passengers on board along with the pilot, Jason Forbes, who was pronounced dead on the scene. A woman, later identified as Annya Duncan, a Jamaican national and teacher at the Montserrat Secondary School also died in the aircraft. A 57-year old Guyanese woman was the other victim.

    The woman was said to have died shortly after arriving at the Mount Saint John Medical Centre and the sole survivor is a British national, who is said to have sustained bruises, lacerations and a broken ankle and that none of his injuries were life threatening, according to official reports.
   
   Fly Montserrat also resumed its regular scheduled service on Monday among Antigua, Montserrat and Nevis.



http://www.sknvibes.com

Airport do-it-all keeps 'em flying: Florence Regional, South Carolina ... Maurice Lemmond has fixed planes (and more) at KFLO for 43 years

Maurice Lemmond,  Director of Aircraft Maintenance

Director of aircraft maintenance Maurice Lemmond checks one of the engines...

By: Gavin Jackson | SCNow 

 Published: October 13, 2012

FLORENCE, S.C. --


He can fix and rebuild the engine, change oil filters big and small, figure out what’s making that rattling sound and even talk you through an emergency landing.

And, he can do it all day long and has been for more than four decades.

Tending to the needs of aircraft – all the needs – is all in a day’s work for Florence’s Maurice Lemmond, the mechanic (and more) extraordinaire. His career has spanned nearly half a century, 43 years to be exact. With it comes a wealth of knowledge and responsibility, including telling people that their single-piston Piper, twin turbo prop Cessna or
Learjet needs some work.

“It’s a bit like being a doctor,” Lemmond said. “You have to tell them there’s a problem and here’s what we have to do about it.”

For some of those problems Lemmond even uses medical tools, like a dental scaler to locate tiny holes or even a baroscope – a scientific device used for measuring atmospheric pressure – in a plane’s engine to see what’s going on inside.

“People kind of look at us funny when we use the baroscope, but it works,” Lemmond said.

Those are just some of the tools the soft-spoken and knowledgeable Lemmond – technically, the director of aircraft maintenance at Florence Aviation, which is the Florence Regional Airport’s Fixed Base Operator located on the west side of the airport’s grounds – uses every day.

Lemmond says his work requires knowledge, skill and even a bit of gumption.

“It’s a lot of responsibility,” Lemmond said. “Sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night to think of stuff you need to do or take a look at. There’s always something going on.”

Round the clock

It’s a surprise he ever has time to sleep. When he’s not working in the Florence hanger where, on a recent afternoon, three aircraft sat in various states of repair, he’s at the Lake City Airport working on planes or helicopters, or he’s at various other airports around the state and region, working on planes or performing inspections.

If he does get a chance to sleep, he might get a call like he did the other day for a US Airways Express flight that hit a bird while landing. It wasn’t serious and it occasionally happens, but he needed to inspect the engine and make sure of it.

Lemmond, 61, is one of only a handful of mechanics that can inspect planes in the state. Since every plane needs annual inspections and charter planes need them even more regularly, he’s pretty busy. One of the planes he was working last week was Piper Cheyenne IIXL, a charter in for one of its semi-annual inspections.

“It’s a challenge and it keeps you on your toes,” Lemmond said looking over the turboprop Cheyenne, which seats up to seven people. “You’re dealing with peoples’ lives. If this thing quits, they can’t just pull over onto the side of the road like a car, so we try to keep everybody safe and compliant with regulations.”

No surprise

Lemmond’s vocation is no surprise. Even as a toddler, his parents tell him, he was a gearhead, taking apart things and putting them back together. Tinkering continued into his youth with his bicycle becoming a regular patient and then it was off to Florence-Darlington Technical College for a degree that took him to working on planes at 18.

Planes, not cars?


“I always liked to see airplanes,” said Lemmond. “As a child my parents would take me to the airport to see planes take off in Charlotte, and I love the mechanical side. And I like to fly, too; I’m a pilot so it all kind of worked together.”

He liked planes, but he does the car thing, too. In his spare time he rebuilds automobiles.

“Well I’ve always liked cars and still do and I’ve restored several old muscle cars,” Lemmond said. “I still got one, had an old Oldsmobile 442 and recently got an Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser wagon a month ago that I’m working on in another hangar.”

Joey Rogers, president of Powers Aviation and a pilot, said Lemmond’s skill is like a security blank for the airport.

“The biggest thing is safety and the No. 1 thing in safety is to make sure your plane is maintained well, and we count on people like Maurice to do that,” said Rogers. “[Maurice] has been doing it for a long time.”

Rogers learned to fly 27 years ago in one of Lemmond’s planes.

When Lemmond was just 25, he took over the maintenance business at Florence Aviation after the owners basically threw up their hands and turned it over to him. From there he grew it, expanding to the current hanger he’s called his home—or operating room—since 1987. Since then he sold the FBO business to Powers Aviation in 2001, which allowed him to focus just on maintenance and not so much operations. Powers Aviation donated the property to the airport in 2008.

Lemmond, however, stayed put. And probably always will.

“I’m just going to keep on keeping on until I get tired of it and as long as I enjoy it and keep my health good like it is, I’ll keep on,” Lemmond said. “I don’t feel any different than I did 40 years ago.”

Story, photos and comments:  http://www2.scnow.com


 http://www.airnav.com/airport/KFLO

Sky show under way over Daytona Beach

DAYTONA BEACH — Morton Parks looked out over the ocean, his bronze star and purple hearts and other ribbons prominently displayed on his shirt, as the Canadian Snowbirds Demonstration Team roared across the sky.
 

Parks, 86, was one of about 35 World War II veterans who got a sneak peak of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Wings and Waves Air Show Friday as performers practiced the schedule for this weekend's free event.

The show, which started off Saturday at 11 a.m. and continues through 4 p.m. today and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., is centered in front of the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort and includes close to 20 performances including three jet teams — the Snowbirds, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the Black Diamonds.

Parks, of Holly Hill, who survived D-Day in the 116th Army Infantry and was wounded twice during his service, was in awe of the performance.

"Wow. There they go. Look at that," Parks said as the Snowbirds flew out over the ocean. "Wasn't that beautiful?"

Rick Grissom, producer of the air show for Embry-Riddle whose father was a B-17 pilot in World War II, said he wanted to honor the veterans with a special viewing on a deck outside a banquet room at the Hilton. Bright House Networks sponsored a lunch for the event, Grissom said.

"We wanted to do it in a nice manner so they could leisurely watch it without fighting the massive crowds," Grissom said.

Read more here:  http://www.news-journalonline.com

Aeroplane thriller flies close to Nigeria’s reality: Last Flight to Abuja

 

It is perhaps an unlikely theme for a blockbuster film in a country with a dire air safety record: a near miss in which a pilot steers a smoke-filled aeroplane to safety. 

 In Nigeria, Last Flight to Abuja has become the first home-grown production to outsell Hollywood films this year. Crowds have been packing ­cinemas to see how the Nollywood fiction matches the reality of taking an internal flight in West Africa's most populous country.

The film took a record-breaking eight million naira ($50 400) in its first week of release in Lagos. It has toppled this year's box-office hits The Amazing Spider-Man and Ice Age: Continental Drift and has grossed  the ­second-highest income in West Africa after The Dark Knight Rises.

"Each time I fly in Nigeria, it's a nervy experience. All the shaking, the bumpy landings, the unexplained noises as the aeroplane starts off five hours after you're supposed to have arrived at your destination," said the director, Obi Emelonye. "The film was an accumulation of all those ­stories."

The timing of the film's release coincided with a Dana Air aeroplane smashing into a Lagos slum, killing 163 people. Relatives of the dead encouraged the director not to ­cancel the film's opening so as to keep aviation safety in the spotlight.

"The timing was spooky because it was supposed to be an era [that was] behind us. I felt I had a social responsibility to show [improvements] we could make with just a little change of attitude – being proactive," Eme-lonye said.

Bad experience
Audiences have given the fictional white-knuckle ride a positive reception. "When I watched it I thought that's how a country with big dreams like Nigeria should be able to handle an aviation disaster," said cinemagoer Daye Sola, who has spurned domestic carriers since a "bad experience" 12 years ago.

Yet not everybody is convinced by the fairy-tale ending in which emergency workers are at the scene before the aeroplane's dramatic touchdown.

Femi Alade, whose house is within sight of the spot where the Dana aeroplane crashed, is a rare person from the slum who has watched the film. "Someone like me, I have never entered an aeroplane and I will not do so. I enjoyed the film, but afterwards I remembered how people were looting and police were beating the crowds," he said.

"The emergency reaction wasn't realistic; it was just too prompt," said another filmgoer, Ohimide.

The reality is undoubtedly grimmer. June's accident marked the start of a tumultuous period in which half of Nigeria's domestic airlines have been grounded. Africa accounts for 14% of the world's aeroplane crashes, although it has only 3% of global traffic.

Whistle-blowers have claimed that heavy debts in the aviation sector routinely compromise safety. In some cases, insiders say, aeroplanes have been dangerously overloaded with fuel to avoid paying refuelling fees in each country.

Inquest
David Kolawole's seven-month-old daughter survived the initial Dana Air impact. But emergency services took 45 minutes to push through the crowds thronging the slum's narrow mud roads. At the local hospital, staff members were unable to save her amid electricity blackouts. "In a country where people are prepared she could have been saved," Kolawole said.

An inquest revealed other failings, including emergency staff who had not been trained to put out an aircraft fire with chemical foam rather than water. The aviation ministry has cleared Dana Air to fly again, although an inquiry continues.

Safety in Nigeria improved after two aircraft crashed within two months in 2005. But public distrust has returned since the country's most popular airline, Arik Air, was briefly grounded when aviation workers raided its offices, saying they had not been paid. Hailed for its fleet of new aeroplanes in a creaking industry, Arik had mopped up passengers in West Africa's thriving market as competitors floundered.

Accusations of financial mismanagement have threatened to engulf the sector, which has grown as air travel has become an alternative to being transported along the region's often poorly maintained roads.

"We had situations where some of our aircraft were flying with only one engine working rather than pay[ing] for the cost of maintaining two," said a former employee at the suspended Air Nigeria airline.
 

Source:  http://mg.co.za

Bonhams to sell example of aeroplane made famous as the hero of the Battle of Britain

A Hurricane fighter aircraft like one of the many that defended British shores during World War II's Battle of Britain will be the star attraction at the Bonhams sale of Collectors' Motor Cars and Automobilia at Mercedes-Benz World Brooklands – the spiritual home of the Hurricane – in Weybridge, Surrey, UK, on Monday 3rd December.

The Hurricane, the Royal Air Force's first monoplane fighter, had its finest hour during that battle, where it shot down more enemy aircraft than its famous service partner the Spitfire.

Brooklands, where the Bonhams sale will take place, has its own history with the aircraft: it was assembled and first flown in prototype form there in 1935, and altogether more than 3,000 Hurricanes were produced on site – one fifth of the total built.

Hurricane Mk XIIa 5711 (G-HURI), equipped with 12 Browning .303 machine guns, was built in 1942 and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force the following year, remaining in Canada for the duration of the war. Its service history has proved elusive, but it may have protected convoys on the east coast shore line from German U-boat activity, or been used as a training aircraft.

Struck off charge from the RCAF in 1947, it was bought by a Canadian syndicate. It was later restored to flight, making its first post-restoration flight in 1989, before being acquired by the Historic Aircraft Collection in 2002 and housed at the IWM Duxford in Cambridgeshire.

Following extensive program of refinements including the fitting of the correct Merlin engine, G-HURI now flies as 'Z5140', with the code letters HA-C and in the Battle of Britain colors worn by a Hurricane IIB flown with 126 Squadron during the siege of Malta. During the Collection's ownership it became the first Hurricane to return to Malta since World War II, and this summer was the first to fly to Russia since that time, where it flew in the presence of Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Moscow Airshow.

At 32ft long and 13ft high, with a wingspan of 40ft, this half-ton aircraft is capable of a range of 900 miles and a maximum speed of 322mph. It is offered for sale with an estimate of £1.4 million - £1.7 million.

Tim Schofield, Director of the Bonhams UK Motor Car Department, said: "This Hurricane is one of only a handful of these iconic aircraft still flying today, and is presented for sale in highly original condition.

"We expect it will be a lot that will generate much interest among buyers at our December sale, and will complement the important motor cars we already have consigned for the sale."

The Hurricane joins a number of important motor cars consigned for the December sale, including:

- 1931 Invicta 4.5-liter S-Type Low Chassis Tourer (£500,000 -600,000)
- 1938 Jaguar SS100 3.5-liter Sports Two-Seater (£220,000 - 280,000)
- 1935 Ford Box Van used as Lance Cpl Jones's butcher's van in classic television series Dad's Army (£20,000 - 30,000)

Source:  http://www.bonhams.com/press_release/11532/

Miramar Air Show Inspiring Next Generation of Aviators


The largest military air show in the country is underway tonight at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. About half a million people are expected to watch the three-day show. It runs through Sunday and features the Blue Angles and hundreds of other aircraft and military personnel.

The clouds and wet weather are moving out of San Diego just in time for the Miramar Air Show weekend. Plan to get to the air show as early as you can, says Marine Lt. Col. Stefan Maroudis.

"We have more than enough stuff that you can see and do in a day, in fact you could probably come the entire weekend and not see everything fully," Maroudis said.

He says it's more than just flying acrobatics and a show of military might. The Miramar Air Show is also about recruiting the next generation of aviators and showing the public how their tax dollars are being spent.

"We have aircraft, we have ground vehicles, all kinds of military equipment and standing in front are the Marines who operate that equipment. We love interacting with the crowd, especially when a child will come up to you with big eyes and ask if you're a pilot, you can just see the joy on their face because they're so excited to meet you," Maroudis said.

Maroudis is a heavy lift aircraft pilot whose job is to transfer humvees and large artillery pieces on the field of battle. He's been a Marine for 17 years and says as a kid he was always interested in flying like the Blue Angels.

"I was big into models as a kid, my father was in the Signal Corps, so that was part of my interest as well," Maroudis said.

The theme of this year's show is "Marines in Flight: Celebrating 50 years of Space Exploration," because Marine Col. John Glenn became the first American astronaut to orbit the earth in 1962. The gates open at 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Source:  http://www.kpbs.org

Rare mail service plane donated to Owls Head museum

Owls Head — A rare 1930 Pitcairn PA 7S Sport Mailwing has been donated to the Owls Head Transportation Museum by the estate of Stephen Pitcairn and the Pitcairn Trust Company.

"This is an exciting donation for the museum," said aircraft conservator ...

 

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http://knox.villagesoup.com/place/story/rare-mail-service-plane-donated-to-owls-head-museum/909266

WestJet names its new regional airline 'Encore'

Calgary - WestJet’s new regional airline, which will compete with Air Canada in some of Canada’s smaller markets, now has a name.

Following a vote by WestJet employees Thursday, the Calgary-based company announced its new airline — which is expected to begin flying in the last half of 2013 — will be called WestJet Encore.

“We were looking for, as we developed a short list, something that related to WestJet and our proud 16-year history,” said Bob Cummings, WestJet’s executive vice-president of sales, marketing, and guest experience. “We brought low-cost travel to Canadians, and we’re now going to go into smaller communities and bring low fares to them.”

WestJet received a total of 842 suggestions after the company asked employees to weigh in on possible names. Eventually, company officials narrowed the list down to two, Echo and Encore, which were the names employees chose between on Thursday.

In June, WestJet formally unveiled the Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft it will be using for Encore. An order has been placed for 20 planes, with the option to purchase 25 more.

Since the company announced in January that it was considering launching a regional airline, the interest from small-and medium-sized communities whose residents feel underserved by their existing air service has been huge. Nanaimo, B.C., launched an extensive social media campaign to attract WestJet’s attention while Brandon, Man., collected more than 10,000 signatures on a petition. Penticton, B.C., declared their city “WestJetville” for a day.

WestJet plans to announce which communities it has chosen for initial service in early 2013. Destinations will be added in stages over a period of several years.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/bombardieraerospace

http://westjet2.mediaroom.com

http://www.edmontonjournal.com

Chihuahuas take flight: Suffolk Executive Airport (KSFQ), Suffolk, Virginia

A Piper Saratoga airplane took off from Suffolk Executive Airport on Thursday afternoon with an unusual load of cargo.

Carriers full of live Chihuahuas — 24 dogs in all — were stacked Tetris-like into the plane’s tiny cargo hold and on top of unused passenger seats. Pilot Matthew Kiener and his friend Byron Hamby had flown to Suffolk earlier Thursday to pick up the dogs from Chihuahua Rescue and Transport Virginia/Carolinas coordinator Carla Johnson.

The dogs, originally 32 of them, had been rescued from a man in Gates, N.C. He and his wife had been raising Chihuahuas for many years, Johnson said. They were taken care of until she fell ill and died a couple years ago, she said. The man, too, began to get sick and learned after testing that he is highly allergic to the dogs.

The woman’s sister, who lives in New Jersey, contacted Chihuahua Rescue and Transport for help. She drove to North Carolina a couple weeks ago and picked up a few dogs she had found homes for among family and friends. Associated Humane Societies of New Jersey agreed to accept the rest of the dogs and try to find loving homes for them.

Read more here:   http://www.suffolknewsherald.com

Leading Oregon’s Civil Air Patrol: Klamath Falls airport director will serve as Wing Commander

John Longley will soon be earning a lot of frequent flier miles. The Klamath Falls Airport director will travel from Portland to Brookings in the lead position for the largest civilian Air Force auxiliary in the state.

During the first weekend in October, Longley accepted the Oregon Wing Commander position for the Civil Air Patrol, a civilian volunteer group of aviators that is part of the United States Air Force Auxiliary.

He’s been involved with the organization since 1997, working with management for the Pacific Northwest.

“After a while, it becomes important to you,” Longley said.

His decision to seek the appointment had been on his mind for sometime. It became a concrete decision five months ago. 


Longley says he’s always had an interest in aviation. As a young man, he served in the U.S. Air Force and went on to a long career in city management. His work as a manager allowed him involvement with the Marina Municipal Airport, northwest of Monterey, Calif. He eventually moved to Klamath Falls, where he was introduced to the Civil Air Patrol.

Read more here:   http://www.heraldandnews.com