Thursday, January 17, 2013

Model plane hobbyists know the risks of lithium-ion batteries

By Craig Timberg, Updated: Thursday, January 17, 8:25 PM

A scale model of a Reaper drone rumbled down the runway and lifted into the gray Canadian sky, powered by a plastic propeller and a lithium-ion battery. When the tiny plane crashed back to earth a few seconds later, white smoke began rising from the wreckage.

“Why is it on fire?” one of the hobbyists asked the other, moments before bright orange flames began shooting from the crash site.

 The weary reply, captured on video, was: “Battery.”

Small, potent lithium-ion power packs have transformed the world of radio-controlled model aircraft, much as they have allowed smartphones to get thinner, power tools to work longer and electric cars to go farther. But a pair of serious incidents this month involving rechargeable batteries in Boeing 787 Dreamliners have highlighted what model-airplane hobbyists long have known — lithium-ion technology comes with inherent dangers.

Considering the sheer numbers of lithium-ion batteries — more than 4 billion rechargeable cells were made last year, according to industry figures — fires are not common. After a battery-powered Chevy Volt ignited after a test crash in 2011, federal investigators said electric cars were no more vulnerable than gas-powered vehicles, more than 20 of which catch fire each hour in the United States.

Yet some risk persists, and the results can be startling. When a cellphone battery overheats — a rare event — it can eject itself with a loud “pop,” leaving singe marks behind. Lithium-ion battery packs can have prolonged fires as each cell, typically the size of a man’s finger, gradually ignites.

“It could be a smoke bomb. It could be a flamethrower,” said Gerard Back, a senior engineer with Hughes Associates, a fire-protection company in Baltimore that investigated the Volt incident. “I’ve seen them look like every type of firework you can imagine.”

Boeing and other manufacturers are keenly aware of this peril and have built in safety features designed to keep voltages within safe limits, prevent short circuits and confine damage when problems do occur. Lithium-ion batteries in laptop computers and other consumer devices are supposed to shut down rather than allow overheating that might cause a fire. In such ways danger is minimized, though not eliminated.

The technological trade-offs play out in especially stark relief within the sprawling world of radio-controlled airplane enthusiasts, who regard lithium-ion batteries with a mixture of fear and devotion even as they subject them to unusual stresses. The result is widespread acceptance that the same portable power source that allows for fast, long, graceful flights also occasionally causes these fragile toys to burst into flames — often, but not always, after crashes.

“They make life a lot better, a lot easier, but you have to manage the risk,” said Dave Brewster, 43, a professional pilot from Toronto who flies radio-controlled model airplanes as a hobby. “Everything in flight is mitigating risk.”

It was Brewster’s Reaper drone that crashed and caught fire on its maiden flight in August 2011, destroying a model that cost him several hundred dollars and hours of work. Like many who have suffered such mishaps, he uploaded video of it to YouTube for what amounts to an emerging genre of lithium-battery-related disaster films starring radio-controlled models — not just planes but cars and boats, too. (The flaming wreckage of a twin-engine model plane, posted in October 2009 and viewed more than 479,000 times, is accompanied by a soundtrack of bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace.”)

Piper PA-28-180, N9554J: Cool pilot lands crippled plane on Highway 70, Oroville, Butte County, California

Pilot John Schneider, 67, of Susanville, proudly displays the emergency checklist that helped him bring his crippled plane to a successful emergency landing on Highway 70 at about 8 a.m. today.
 (E-R photo/Ty Barbour)

Butte County Sheriff deputies help to move the light plane that landed on Highway 70 at about 8 a.m. today so it wouldn't pose a traffic hazard. John Schneider, 67, of Susanville, the pilot and lone occupant of the Cherokee 180, landed the aircraft without incident.
 (E-R Photo/Ty Barbour)

John Schneider stands near his airplane minutes after making an emergency landing on Highway 70, about 10 miles east of Oroville, on Thursday morning. 
Photo submitted.

OROVILLE —A cool-thinking 67-year-old pilot from Susanville successfully guided his crippled plane to an emergency landing on Highway 70 at about 8:30 a.m. today. According to Enterprise-Record photographer Ty Barbour, John Schneider was alone in his Cherokee 180 single-engine plane on his way from Susanville to Oroville to visit an aunt. 

 Somewhere over Quincy he suffered engine trouble. Schneider told Barbour the Quincy airport was heavily fogged-in and there was no chance of landing there.

He said he immediately began trying to gain altitude and about the time he reached 10,000 feet the engine entirely died.

From then on he was flying a glider continuing in the direction of Oroville.

At one point he reportedly considering trying to land on the Highway 70 bridge over Lake Oroville, but he decided he had enough altitude to continue a little further.

He got to a point where he could see well down Highway 70. He told Barbour when he could see the highway was clear he brought the plane down on the highway in the vicinity of Cherokee Road.

He came through the emergency unscathed.

The plane has been moved from where it landed to a turnout about 200 yards away so the highway is clear.

Schneider said if there had been traffic on 70 he had an alternative plan to land in an adjacent field.

Authorities are currently making plans to remove the plane from the roadside.

Story, Photos, Reaction/Comments:

The pilot of a small single-engine airplane made a successful emergency landing on Highway 70 after his engine quit Thursday morning, Jan. 17. 

 John Schneider, 67, of Janesville, was flying from Susanville to Oroville when his Piper Cherokee 180 began to sputter over Quincy about 7:40 a.m.

Schneider, who immediately called Susanville Municipal Airport Manager Steve Datema with his cell phone to report the problem, said he couldn’t land at the Quincy airport because of fog.

According to Datema and the California Highway Patrol, Schneider glided the stalled plane down the Feather River Canyon, looking for a place to make an emergency landing.

“As you probably know, there aren’t a lot of landing spots in the canyon,” CHP Public Information Officer Doug Garret said. “He did a great job, especially under the circumstances he had to deal with. He didn’t panic.”

Schneider, who is considered a very experienced pilot, has more than 1,500 hours of flying time and is commercially rated.

About six minutes after experiencing complete engine failure, Schneider landed the four-seated plane on Highway 70, a few hundred yards east of Cherokee Road. The landing was about 10 miles east of Oroville in Butte County.

Garret said Schneider was able to avoid cars on the road and landed the plane at about 70 miles per hour.

“It only took a few seconds after he touched down to get the plane off to the side of the road,” Garret said. “He did it in less than 300 yards. It was a pretty impressive piece of flying.”

Schneider was the only person in the plane. There were no traffic injuries or accidents at the scene of the landing.

Story and Photo:

 It was an emergency with fatal implications. John Schneider took to the skies en route to Oroville from Susanville Thursday morning, just like he had several times before, but this time was different. "I thought I bought the farm," according to Schneider. "There's not much you can do. Your training just kicks in, and it was just glide, go through the emergency procedures." 
    Schneider weighed his options, looking for a place to land, but Quincy was fogged in, and the Chester Airport was too far. "I thought, well, I'll climb as far as I can, as long as the engine is running. So, I got up to 10,000 before it quit."

    With gliding as his only option, Schneider did everything in his power to keep his Piper Cherokee 180 in the sky, before he finally spotted a possible landing area. "I saw the bridge, and I thought, well, looks like the highway is about the only spot. Hope there isn't any truck, or car."

    Highway 70 was free of cars, and Schneider was able to land safely. Meanwhile, Johns Uncle, Jim Christie, was waiting for him in Oroville, unaware of the climactic highway landing. "I was down at the airport waiting for him, and I didn't bring my cell phone. So, finally I called my wife, and said have you heard from John? And she said, yeah, he's landed on Highway 70, by Pentz Road."

    Jim, and John both credit John's 30 years of experience for the successful landing. John told our crews "it matters a lot. I've got about 2300 hours, and I fly fire recon, so I do a lot of low level flying." But John admits the conditions were perfect for the landing with light winds, and no cars on the road. Which reminded him of a guardian angel figurine, given to him by his Aunt Irm, who told him the trinket would keep him safe as long as it was with him. Either way, the 67 year old pilot says he plans to capitalize on his apparent lucky streak. "I'm gonna go buy a lottery ticket."

Story and Video:

Caribbean Airlines messes up and leaves passengers stranded for two days


Published on January 14, 2013 


"Caribbean Airlines makes passengers wait 2 days to get from Trinidad and Guyana to JFK. Discourteous staff and no representation from Caribbean airlines for over 15 hours while persons were stranded were the order of the day. Baggage not released and we are still waiting to board. Here's a clip from the scene here where are still waiting on 5am to go Buffalo on Jan 14th, after departing Trinidad on the 12th."

Opinion: It's the airport, stupid (poll) - Colorado Springs

It’s happening again. In a story all-too-familiar, another airline has added flights and tried to capitalize on the Colorado Springs Airport only to give up a short time later.

Last year in April, Frontier announced plans to begin six new nonstop Airbus flights to connect the Springs directly with Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle, and San Diego. The company also proposed direct flights to Washington’s Reagan National Airport but failed to win federal approval of its proposal.

The Frontier experiment was the biggest development at the Springs airport since 1996, when Western Pacific Airlines established it’s start-up hub in Colorado Springs. Western Pacific’s strategy was to compete with Denver International Airport by using low fares to attract passengers from metropolitan Denver.

Western Pacific’s strategy was great for filling planes, but not so good for making the company profitable enough to stay in business.

Frontier added flights with no intention of attracting fliers away from Denver, which is the airline’s hub. It would make do with passengers in southern Colorado and Colorado Springs, a city that’s grown in population by 35 percent since the Western Pacific days.

Alas, the airline learned that too many Springs residents are in the habit of flying out of DIA. As the fifth busiest airport in the United States and the 10th busiest in the world, DIA offers seemingly irresistible options for affordable travel.

The problem airlines have with Colorado Springs isn’t the airport. It’s a great facility that’s much more user-friendly than DIA. Fliers park closer and easier. They wait in shorter lines for ticketing, baggage check and security. It’s no harder to get from Denver to the Springs than from the Springs to Denver, so just as DIA attracts customers from here the Springs airport should attract customers from Denver.

Colorado needs two major airports to keep prices more competitive. More importantly, the Springs needs a thriving “big city” airport to help create good jobs. City leaders talk unceasingly about the need for more jobs and economic development, but the lack of a abundant nonstop flights to other major cities may undermine efforts to attract desirable employers.

As a city of 420,000 residents, in a metropolitan area of 650,000 — with enviable potential for continued population growth — Colorado Springs should easily support a major airport with a greater abundance of airlines and flights.

Attracting great companies, and helping those we already have, involves making Colorado Springs more attractive than competing markets. The Convention and Visitors Bureau, the City Council, the mayor, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners and the Regional Business Alliance should make the airport among the highest priorities.

We know city leaders work hard to attract airlines, and they should take credit for getting Frontier to add routes last year. But the promotion we hear, telling people to fly out of Colorado Springs, underwhelms the listener.

Anyone in Colorado Springs knows recreational and business travelers who fly DIA almost by default, without even considering their local options. It’s an old habit that’s hard to break.

The loss of recently added flights by Frontier is disappointing, to say the least. But we should not give up. Instead, we should fight for the airport like never before. Community leaders should persuade Southwest Airlines to give this airport a try. When they say “no, not right now,” keep on pitching it. But recruitment is not nearly enough. Community leaders should also partner more with airlines to promote the benefits of flying to and from Colorado Springs.

Help the airlines make this work. Have the courage to take on DIA and get more people from southern Colorado, and Denver, flying from Colorado Springs.

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Airblue hearing: Peshawar High Court asks for black box transcript

PESHAWAR:   The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has asked the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to present the transcript from the black box of Airblue flight ED 202.

The court added that investigations have not been conducted in accordance with the terms of references provided by the court.

A PHC division bench comprising Chief Justice (CJ) Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Irshad Qaisar issued the orders while hearing a writ petition filed by politician Marvi Memon against the Airblue administration.

During the hearing, the bench was informed that since ICAO experts have highlighted that the Safety Investigation Board (SIB) is not an independent entity since it falls within the ambit of the Civil Aviation Authority, it will soon be converted into an separate body.

The summary in this regard has been sent to the prime minister. The CJ then directed the Ministry of Defence to expedite the procedure and immediately make SIB an independent body to ensure transparent investigation into aviation accidents. “The SIB should not even be influenced by the defence secretary,” he said.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) senior legal advisor Obaidur Rehman Abbasi told the bench that all relevant records will be produced before the court on the next date of hearing, February 19. He said all material will be made public after a meeting between officials of the Ministry of Defence, SIB and CAA on January 28.

The Islamabad-bound ED 202 Airblue flight crashed in the Margalla Hills on July 28, 2010 killing all 146 passengers and six crew members.

Compensation to legal heirs

Compensation to legal heirs Airblue’s Counsel Abdul Latif Yousafzai informed the bench that families of 127 crash victims out of 152 have been compensated.

Yousafzai added the civil suits of other victims were registered in Sindh and Islamabad high courts too. On this, the court questioned Umar Adam, counsel for the petitioner, who replied that he will consult his clients and will inform the bench in the next hearing about whether to proceed with the petition in Peshawar or solve their cases in other high courts.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2013. 


Piper PA-31 Navajo, XB-EZY: Se desploma avioneta en Chiapas; hay 8 muertos - Plane crashes in Chiapas, 8 fatalities -- Angel Albino Corzo International Airport, Mexico

Eight people, three of them children, were killed Thursday when a small plane crashed just seconds after it took off from an airport in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, authorities told Efe. 
Mexico City, Jan 17 (EFE).- Eight people, three of them children, were killed Thursday when a small plane crashed just seconds after it took off from an airport in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, authorities told Efe. 

 The aircraft, a Piper Navajo, plunged to the ground and burst into flames at Angel Albino Corzo Airport near Tuxtla Gutierrez, the state capital.

The plane's destination was Oaxaca city, capital of the neighboring state of Oaxaca, personnel with the DGAC civil aviation agency said.

Operations were suspended at the airport following the crash, which left the area shrouded in a dense cloud of smoke.

The plane was carrying six passengers and a crew of two, state emergency services chief Luis Manuel Garcia Moreno said, citing preliminary reports.

  "Lo que yo vi es que los cuerpos están completos", señaló Luis Manuel García Moreno, director de Protección Civil de Chiapas.

La aeronave Piper Navajo Modelo PA-31, con matrícula XB-EZY, se impactó cerca del área donde se encuentran las oficinas de la Coordinación de Transportes Aéreos de Chiapas, fuera de la pista, en una zona de pastizales.

Tras el impacto la avioneta se incendio lo que generó una gran columna de humo.

Al lugar llegaron Bomberos, elementos del Grupo de Respuesta Inmediata de la Policía Estatal, Protección Civil y Policía Municipal de Chiapa de Corzo.

El fuego se propagó entre ocho hectáreas de pastizales de la zona.

García Moreno informó que durante 5 horas fueron suspendidas las operaciones en el Aeropuerto Albino Corzo.

Añadió  que las posibles causas del accidente fueron los fuertes vientos que azotan la zona, originados por el frente frio numero 21.

La avioneta viajaría a la ciudad de Oaxaca y las autoridades no han dado a conocer la identidad de los pasajeros.

La aeronave quedo bajo resguardo de las autoridades de Aeronáutica que iniciaron las investigaciones del accidente.

Council appoints members to oversee airplane issue: John Wayne-Orange County Airport (KSNA), Santa Ana, California

Some community members are saying the planes from John Wayne Airport are flying lower than they used to be.

Complaints that commercial planes are flying lower over Laguna more often than in the past have been dismissed by the Federal Aviation Administration, but city officials heard differently Tuesday night.

The City Council voted unanimously to appoint council members Steve Dicterow and Toni Iseman to work with the public to pressure FAA about the noise. Residents are urged to contact the FAA and to provide letters with specific instances of airplane noise impacts to the FAA and the city.

"FAA said [planes] are flying at the altitude they always have," resident Kerry Barriga said. "Not true."

Flights heading east out of John Wayne Airport take off out over the ocean and when they reach a certain altitude turn bsack over the coastline. The sooner they turn back toward land, the lower the altitude.

"Pilots will tell you they are turning earlier," Barriga said.

However, retired airline pilot Scott Roberts said pilots are only doing what they are told to do and he doesn't see a problem.

Residents from Canyon Acres to South Laguna told the council the problem is noise.

"You won't hear planes flying at 10,000 feet over Laguna," said Wolfram Blume, who flies a small plane out of John Wayne Airport. "At 4,000 feet, they will wake you up."

City staff, which tracks flights, said they have not seen a violation of the altitude limit at which the planes come over Laguna or in flight patterns.

"Well something changed," said Councilman Robert Whalen.

He said flights start at 7:04 a.m. out of JWA.

"You can set your clock by it and it continues boom, boom after that," Whalen said.

Iseman sponsored the agenda item after residents began calling and e-mailing her with complaints.

"It is evident from public testimony that there has been a change," Iseman said.

She and Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson will ask for assistance from federal politicians when they attend the League of Cities meeting in Washington, D.C., in March. Dicterow was asked to contact Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

Laguna will also continue to monitor the JWA settlement agreement negotiations with Newport Beach and the county, which would extend the current agreement, covering such items as curfew, passenger levels and the number of noise-regulated average daily departures.

The city will also show support for the Ontario Airport's effort to take local control from Los Angeles World Airports. Ontario officials would like to increase their flights, which might syphon off some flights from JWA.


New expansion brings jobs, money to North Texas Regional Airport/Perrin Field (KGYI)

GRAYSON COUNTY, TX -- The US Aviation flight school plans to grow its operations at North Texas Regional Airport in the next couple years, adding instructors and maintenance staff.

A collaboration of the airport, Grayson County, Denison Development Alliance and SEDCO helped to bring the expansion here.

US Aviation President Mike Sykes said the support of the county is one of the reasons they decided to expand here.

"And it's a great airport," he said. "It has an ATC tower, which is very important. Multiple runways, open terrain around the airport, so from a safety perspective."

And an expanded flight school means more traffic through the airport.

Airport Director Mike Shahan said the increased traffic will bring in more money from the FAA, which is less taxpayer money the county has to spend.

"Right now, the county is paying that cost," he said. "And so that'll save us $200,000 a year."

The last flight school out at the airport shut down unexpectedly in 2010. At the time, it owed tens of thousand of dollars to students and the cities of Sherman and Denison.

SEDCO said they settled a lawsuit with Air Safety Flight Academy for an undisclosed amount of money. But said they did not recoup all of their losses.

SEDCO president Scott Connell said they did things differently this time - like not giving out incentive money upfront.

"The best thing about it is that this is a company that's been here for six months," he said. "And have shown some great growth in their training process."

And while this is a major economic grab for the entire area, Grayson County officials say it shows the importance of what can happen when the entire county comes together for one common purpose.

"We realize that we're not competing against each other. It's a global economy. So that's the real story here," said Grayson County Judge Drue Bynum.

"We see it as a long term relationship. It's really a relationship that already exists," Connell said. "But it's nice to be able to put it together for a concrete project to support an industry."

The Airport said the expansion is a major step into becoming a self-sufficient operation.

Shahan expects traffic to increase from around 40,000 operations a year to around 100,000.

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Air Force sets meetings on proposed transfer of Eielson F-16s

FAIRBANKS—The Air Force plans to hold public meetings in the Fairbanks area and in Southcentral Alaska next month to prepare for an environmental analysis of its proposal to transfer Eielson Air Force Base's fighter squadron to a base in Anchorage, according to an Air Force notice filed Thursday to be published in the Federal Register today.

The purpose of the meetings is to get public comment to help determine the scope of the environmental analysis. The Air Force's proposal has drawn broad opposition from Fairbanks and state leaders, including from all three of Alaska's members of Congress.

Meetings will be held 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 4-5 in Anchorage and in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and Feb. 6-7 in Fairbanks and North Pole, according the Air Force notice. The notice says that specifics of the meetings, such as location, will be publicized at least 15 days prior to the meeting dates.

Under the proposal, 18 F-16s of the 18th Aggressor Squadron, and three backup F-16s, would move to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, along with 542 military positions. Eighty-one positions would be eliminated in the transfer, which would leave Eielson with 559 military personnel and 210 civilian personnel in fiscal 2015.

Air Force officials have said they can save $227 million over five years by moving the squadron, but the projected savings have become a serious area of dispute between defense officials and those opposed to the move.

Public comments about the planned environmental impact statement will be accepted either verbally or in writing at the meetings.


Essential Air Service: Essential or wasteful?

Today a story ran about Cape Air, which is funded in part by federal Essential Air Service subsidies. Rural communities such as Cape Girardeau that lie a great distance from a major airport once could be made eligible to receive the funds, but no more can qualify, due to recent changes to the law.

The 122 currently qualifying communities can use the funds to attract and retain an air carrier. The thinking is that, without the subsidy, the community would be isolated from the air travel system and ticket prices would be unaffordable for local residents.

There are always comments in stories about subsidies in which people say they think they aren't necessary. And comments saying they are important.

What do you think? How important is it to make sure the Cape Girardeau area has access to a public airline, if it means using federal subsidies? How important is it to local business to maintain the link to air travel?

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Minute Suites coming to Chicago O'Hare International Airport (KORD), Illinois

Between the throngs of travelers and frequent delays, flying in or out of O'Hare can make a traveler feel like they need a good nap. Now they can have one without leaving the airport.

As part of a massive plan to bring in new revenue, the nation's second-busiest airport will soon feature Minute Suites -- resembling mini-hotel rooms in terminals.

Up to 29 suites will include a daybed/sofa, desk, television and a computer with Internet access. They also have individual thermostat and adjustable sound suppression systems. An hour will cost $30, or travelers can stay overnight for $120.

Five Minute Suites are at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (the country's busiest,) and 13 at Philadelphia International Airport. They also are set to open at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Minute Suites co-founder and CEO David Solomon, a Chicago native, said business travelers are the company's "bread and butter" but said he also sees use by plenty of passengers on delayed flights.

The rooms are part of a plan to generate $5.6 million in new annual revenue for the city. There are nine other deals included in a proposal currently in front of the City Council, including plans for a spa and massage space and a number of other chain stores to be constructed throughout the airport.

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Bucket Falls Midair From Military Aircraft, Damages Vehicles: San Diego Police Department officials said the bucket contained a fuel additive that is added to military planes

A bucket dropped from a plane and crashed through the roof of a business.

A five-gallon bucket fell from a military aircraft Wednesday night and damaged vehicles in a Miramar auto repair shop, San Diego Fire Department officials said.

The bucket crashed through the roof of Renegade Performance in the 6300 block of Marindustry Drive sometime between 4 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. Thursday.

An RV and several vehicles were impacted by the pieces of the ceiling and bucket that shattered when the bucket fell through. The RV sustained the bulk of the damage.

The bucket accidentally fell from an MCAS-based MV2 Osprey at about 7:20 p.m. Wednesday, said Lt. Tyler Balzer with MCAS Miramar.

Balzer said the bucket was strapped down, but at some point it came loose and fell through the auto repair shop. The bucket broke apart upon impact, spilling the cleaning solution.

The bucket contained "non-toxic environmentally friendly" material, said San Diego Fire Department Battalion Chief Glen Holder.

A HazMat team was called to the scene Thursday afternoon as a protocol measure. They have not yet determined if the material is toxic or not. 

There was no one present in the shop when the bucket landed, and no injuries were reported. Employees discovered the damages when they arrived to work Thursday morning.

The owner of the business would not comment on the incident.

MCAS Miramar tweeted about the incident just after noon on Thursday:

    A Mrmr-based aircraft accidentally dropped a 5-gal bucket of non-hazardous cleaner N of Mrmr yesterday. No injuries, more info to follow.

    — MCAS Miramar, 3rdMAW (@MCASMiramarCA) January 17, 2013

There is no estimate yet of the cost of the damages, but MCAS is working with the owners of the business to cover all damage costs.

Story, Photos, Reaction/Comments:

South Carolina man sentenced for staging death, unnecessary U.S. Coast Guard search

Cox was the subject of a three-day search in Murrells Inlet in January 2011. The U.S. Coast Guard, S.C. Department of Natural Resources, and the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office searched the air, ground, and water for Cox. His boat was found in the water of Murrells Inlet Jan. 17, with his keys and wallet inside. His truck was found parked nearby. 

Harvey Cox, 60, will spend the next 20 years in prison for faking his death to avoid a Criminal Sexual Conduct charge and causing a rescue mission that lasted several days and involved a number of agencies, as well as possessing child pornography.

A Florence man who was being investigated for a sexual assault on a minor in 2011 was sentenced Thursday for staging his death that included leaving his car at a Murrells Inlet boat landing, said U.S. Attorney William Nettles. 

 Harvey Cox, 60, was sentenced to serve 20 years imprisonment for staging his death and intentionally causing the U.S. Coast Guard to conduct a search and rescue mission when no help was needed and for possessing child pornography.

He also must pay the Coast Guard $51,094.25 to cover the cost of the fraudulent search and rescue operation.

The charges stem from Jan. 2011 when state authorities were investigating Cox as a suspect in an alleged sexual assault on a minor. Florence and Marlboro county authorities had scheduled a meeting with Cox for Jan. 19, 2011.

Instead, on Jan. 17, 2011, Cox sent his fishing boat adrift with his wallet and car keys and left his car at the boat landing in Murrells Inlet before taking a cab home to Florence. He left the state in another car.

Fishermen found the boat the next day signaling a distress call that launched a search involving marine sweeps with boats and helicopters that lasted for 10 hours before it was called off.

Authorities discovered continued activity of Cox’s phone and learned about the cab ride. He was arrested in Florida in March.

During the investigation, police found sexually explicit photographs of a minor at Cox’s home.


Gourmet food arrives at Toronto’s Pearson airport

Move over Wolfgang Puck!

Local chefs have just begun to take over the culinary landscape at Toronto’s largest airport, with the opening of celebrity chef Massimo Capra’s near-fine-dining, fresh food restaurant, Boccone, in Terminal 1.

“It’s full service with a wine selection that is quite delicious,” Massimo said Thursday. Though the official opening is on Tuesday, Boccone is already serving Pearson travelers.

In an ongoing makeover of the airport’s eateries, other new hot spots have added technology to the menu, including iPads for diners to order from and play with while they eat.

At Boccone, “90 percent of the food is made in house,” says Capra. “It’s same that you would have at Mistura.”

Capra says he had to jump through hoops to provide the quality of food he serves at Mistura, his celebrated Toronto restaurant. That was due to all the guidelines and the limited number of Pearson Airport’s authorized food suppliers.

And he’s aimed high — trying to give travel-weary flyers coming through Terminal 1 a proper dining experience. Boccone offers warm wood paneling, red leather banquettes and a serene atmosphere.

The upgraded Pearson restaurants — only for travelers who have been through security — range from fancy sit downs to bakeries to grab-and-go joints, and promise to be an improvement over typical airport food.

Limp tuna wraps and greasy burgers will stick around, but they’ll rub elbows with fare from some of Greater Toronto’s best chefs.

Think haute Japanese at Acer, a new restaurant courtesy of celebrated restaurateur Guy Rubino of Strada on Spadina Rd. Or seek out paninis at Feta Panini Bar, by the ubiquitous Mark McEwan of North 44, Fabrica, and McEwan’s grocery.

Heirloom Bakery, the first of the new crop to open a few weeks ago, offers healthy, artisanal soups, salads and sandwiches to the sky weary. Corso, by chef Rocco Augustino, will bring pizza and pasta to Terminal 3.

Boccone’s wait staff are poised to serve travelers just off, or about to get on, national and international flights. Staff must be able to get airline passengers and their families, and possibly even their luggage, in and out of the restaurant in 30 minutes or less.

What’s on Boccone’s menu? Flavours inspired by Milan that include veal and pork meatballs with Italian Sausage, homemade tomato sauce and crispy polenta ($18), the Massimo panini — beef, asiago, dijon, aioli ($12) and a ricotta cheesecake with blueberry sauce ($9).

Diners may catch a glimpse of Capra himself. While Chef Damian Wills, formerly of Scaramouche and other fine-dining restaurants, will helm the airport kitchen, Massimo spends a lot of time there.

“I’m here all day every day,” he said from restaurant.

“It is my food the way that I want to make it and it is the way that I impose it. I’m here and I taste almost everything.”


Airport cafe worth the trip even if you're not flying: Chicago/Rockford International (KRFD), Illinois

By Brian Leaf 

ROCKFORD — Airport restaurants usually serve captive audiences. So they often sell mediocre, overpriced food to people worried more about destinations than dinner.

So it was satisfying to find quality, affordable food at Airmenities Cafe at Chicago Rockford International Airport.

I visited Airmenities on Jan. 10 with fellow Register Star reporter Greg Stanley.

I’d been here once before. Greg hadn’t and couldn’t find the cafe, which has no sign and is tucked behind an open glass door near the baggage carousel.

But the visibility of Airmenities is likely to ascend soon when it expands service upstairs in the airport’s boarding gate area. Details are still being worked out. But if our lunch visit is an indicator, the food will be a hit with ticketed passengers.

“Our overall philosophy is we want high quality ingredients, flavorful food at reasonable prices and quick service,” said restaurant owner Colene Vivian.

Airmenities, which includes a small gift shop, is an order-at-the-counter kind of place. A chalk board menu lists breakfast items, sandwiches, salads, soup and beverages, including beer and wine. Everything is under $7.

We were the only customers this day, understandable because there were no midday flights. Alberto Espinoza took our order. We joked about salad, then went for guy food — shaved prime rib, pulled pork, cheeseburger, breakfast pizza, fries and two bottles of water. The bill: $24.50.

We had just settled into metal patio chairs at tables near the baggage claim when Espinoza brought the food. We cut everything in half and shared.

Greg went after the cheeseburger ($3.50). “I’m for it,” he proclaimed. I found it adequate, but nothing set it apart from other cheeseburgers.

I liked the battered fries ($2). They were hot and crispy. One order was enough for two.

The breakfast pizza ($4.50) was tasty — egg, bacon, sausage and cheese on a thick pita-sized flatbread that had a crunchy, toasted edge.

Our shaved prime rib with grilled onions ($7) flowed over the French roll it was served on. A mild horseradish sauce on the side was a nice addition. The meat was tender, moist and tasty. I like horseradish, but I craved a little au jus, a light sauce for beef.

But the star of the meal: The pulled pork sandwich ($5). Vivian said it is slow cooked for five hours, then piled high on a hamburger bun with commercial BBQ sauce on the side. The pork was tender and juicy, not greasy.

 “There’s your moneymaker right there,” Greg said, noting that he’d order it again.

When I go back to Airmenities, and I will, I’ll try a steak or chicken wrap.

The restaurant is at the airport, so parking is free. Enter the terminal’s north doors.

You’ll see the airport’s baggage carousel, and behind it a restaurant that’s worth a trip, even if you’re not going anywhere.

Airmenities Cafe

Address: Chicago Rockford International Airport

2 Airport Circle, Rockford

Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Also opened two hours before every scheduled flight. Takeout is available.

Phone: 815-987-9647

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Kachori-craving pilot delays flight by an hour


An Air India pilot faces suspension after she defied orders to switch her scheduled Mumbai-Jodhpur-Delhi flight for a later, direct flight from Mumbai to Delhi. Her reason for doing so? She wanted to fly via Jodhpur to pick up an order for the city's famous onion kachoris that she had placed. Her refusal to swap flights delayed the Mumbai-Delhi flight, left without a pilot, by an hour.

On Sunday, Captain Smriti Trehan was instructed by Air India to operate the 2pm Mumbai-Delhi flight. However, she chose to ignore the order and operate her originally scheduled 12pm flight, which had a halt at Jodhpur, all for the love of kachoris. Trehan, from Delhi, was staying at a hotel in Mumbai when she received the instruction to switch flights. However, she reached the airport in time for the 12pm flight and informed the airline's operations department that she would operate that one.

Sources say that Trehan had ordered a batch of pyaz kachoris, which were to be delivered to her at Jodhpur airport. As soon as her flight landed at Jodhpur, the package was delivered to her, and Trehan took off for Delhi without delay. Meanwhile, it was chaos at Mumbai airport as AI's 2pm flight was left without a pilot. It took the airline an hour to find a replacement, and the flight eventually took off at 3 pm.

The incident was later brought to the notice of senior AI officials, who ordered an inquiry into the matter. Sources revealed that after the inquiry was ordered, two senior officials tried to scuttle the issue. However, pressure soon mounted on Air India, and the inquiry was kept open.

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Embraer signs contract with Aldus Aviation

SAO PAULO--Embraer SA  signed a contract with Irish leasing company Aldus Aviation Ltd. for the delivery of as many as 35 airplanes, the Brazilian plane maker said Thursday.

The contract, which can reach a value of up to $1.56 billion, includes a firm order for 20 airplanes--five ERJ 175 planes and 15 ERJ 190 planes--as well as the option to buy another 15 planes in the family of E-jets, which seat 70 to 120 passengers, Embraer said in a regulatory filing.

The firm orders were already included in the company's order backlog for the fourth quarter, which reached $12.5 billion at the end of 2012, Embraer said. At the time it published the firm orders, however, Embraer declined to identify Aldus as the customer.

Aldus exclusively leases Embraer-manufactured planes and has clients in Europe, the Middle East, Australia, and Central and South America, according to the filing.

Embraer also announced Thursday a $211 million contract with Brazil's air force to update five surveillance planes, part of its effort to expand defense contracts as commercial and executive aviation still struggles under a sluggish global economy.


Survey: Who Owns Business Jet Operators?

Research and Markets ( has announced the addition of the "Survey: Who Owns Business Jet Operators?" report to their offering.

The business jet market is extremely fragmented due to regulatory limits on foreign ownership and the few barriers to entry it takes to launch. Although regulatory burdens are increasing, many founders (pilots or mechanics) are prepared to cope with these because they are committed to running aviation businesses. 

Most operators are privately owned and run by owner managers that are not looking to sell, but private equity companies and high net worth individuals have shown interest in the sector with deals likely to happen in 2013 and 2014 as the market recovers. However, there is a big spread between what investors want to pay and what owners think their business is worth. 

Some consolidation has happened but new start-ups outweigh the number of mergers and this will continue to happen as people's passion for running an aircraft manager outweighs the (significant) risks in starting-up.

Key Topics Covered:

1.0 Executive summary
2.0 About Corporate Jet Investor
3.0 Introduction
4.0 Private owners
5.0 Stockmarket listed aircraft managers
Case study: Hangar 8's failed acquisition plans
6.0 Airline subsidiaries and subsidiaries of listed companies
7.0 Private equity
Tables and Charts included.

Companies Mentioned

- Empire Aviation
- Sentient Jet
- Oxygen Aviation
- NetJets China
- JetSuite
- Keystone Aviation Services
- Nomad Aviation
- FAI rent-a-jet AG
- Flight Options
- FAI rent-a-jet AG
- JetBird
- Sentient Jet
- Privatair US
- National Air Services
- Jet Republic
- Keystone Aviation Services
- Landmark Aviation
- Gama Holdings Ltd
- Gama Middle East and Africa
- Blink
- Flight Options
- Pegasus Elite Aviation
- ExecuJet
- DayJet
- DC Aviation
- Empire Aviation
- Group
- JetBird
- JetDirect Aviation
- Dexter
- JetBird
- JetSuite
- Pogo Jet

For more information visit

Col. Mark Fluker to step down as F-35 maintenance chief

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE — When Col. Mark Fluker arrived in 2009 to help set up maintenance operations for the military’s newest and most expensive fighter jet, he had a staff of only nine people.

The entire 33rd Fighter Wing, in fact, had only 60 people, mostly high-level command staff.

They were tasked with building the F-35 program from the ground up. When Fluker arrived, the now state-of-the-art airplane hangars weren’t just empty, they didn’t exist. A lone I-beam had been put in place.

Today, the wing has grown to 1,500 people. As commander of maintenance operations, Fluker oversees about 390 maintainers who work on a fleet of 22 F-35s, the largest in the world.

On Friday, Fluker, 51, will step down from his post, his first move toward retirement this summer after 30 years in the air force.

Navy Capt. Lance Massey, the maintenance group’s deputy commander, will take over.

Fluker’s years at the forefront of putting the new F-35 into action have been the highlight of his career, he said.

“This has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said Wednesday. “There is no other place I’d rather be in the Air Force than right here.”

Building a program from scratch had its challenges.

Fluker was rushed to Eglin in August 2009 to serve as deputy commander of maintenance in advance of the arrival of the F-35s. That didn’t come for more than two years because of cost overruns and performance problems.

“It was very frustrating, but it turned out it was probably a good thing, all said and done,” he said.

The team was able to work through a lot of problems before the first aircraft arrived.

They pored over newly developed maintenance manuals and sent back corrections that would make the procedures safer and more efficient.

Several maintainers were shipped off to test units to learn about the jets.

They made improvements to the hangar and built a tire and wheel repair shop.

Finally, in July 2011, the first F-35 touched down at Eglin. They were ready.

Seventh months later, in March 2012, the jet took to the sky.

In the nine months since, the 33rd has been able to fly more than 1,000 hours in the F-35, said Col. Andrew Toth, the wing’s commander.

“This is a commendable achievement that could not have been accomplished without (Col. Fluker’s) unwavering dedication and leadership,” Toth said.

Maintenance for those first flights took great leadership and responsibility on behalf of everyone working to service the planes, including the newer staff sergeants and senior airmen, Fluker said.

“I am immensely proud of those guys, down to the youngest one,” he said. “They have really proven how professional they are.”

He said some of the younger guys were given a high level of responsibility that they might not have gotten in other air force jobs because they were working with such a new aircraft.

They are charged with maintaining a $150 million jet, the world’s most expensive fighter. That comes with the need to report to high-ranking officials on maintenance issues and all the challenges they face, Fluker said.

“I’ve got a 19 year-old standing tall and briefing and telling a general all about the airplane,” Fluker said. “Every time I see it, it just makes me proud.”

The maintainers are the often unsung heroes of the fighter jet. No pilot could take to the sky without them, Fluker said.

Every flight requires eight to nine maintainers to work about five-and-a-half hours to prepare an F-35 for takeoff. That’s if nothing goes wrong.

Using several complicated computer systems, they check for discrepancies and make sure every system is working properly. They walk around the airplane to look for aberrations and leaks, check gauges and tire pressure, and replace parts or refill fluids.

Then the plane is service ready, but not yet set for takeoff. Another round of checks is conducted with the pilot in the cockpit. As a final precaution, they roll the plane forward to check the underside of the tires.

 “Then we go launch that airplane,” Fluker said.

One highlight for Fluker was when the group designed its own training procedure to certify maintainers to do their own engine runs. Now they don’t have to call a pilot in to power up the plane to check if a repair they made did the trick.

 “Nobody else in the Air Force does that,” he said.

The training center at Eglin should start graduating maintainers next January. Lt. Gen. Christopher Bodgan, the F-35 program director, said recently that Eglin will remain the “center of the universe” for the jet’s maintenance training.

Toth said Fluker’s greatest accomplishment was helping bring a fledgling program to fruition.

 “When Col. Fluker arrived over three years ago, what you see here around the 33rd Fighter Wing — in terms of personnel, structures and F-35 aircraft — was only a vision,” he said. “His greatest feat was helping make that vision a concrete reality.”


Light Sport Aircraft ownership


Published on January 16, 2013 
Video by LOOP TV

Whats it like to own and operate the Flight Design CTLS?  Whilst in the Loop design laboratory I found a jar of extra bits from our CT test. Hear what its like to live with a LSA from Flight Design, as we chat with a couple of owners. With a few hundred hours under their belts on this model between them who better to tell you what it is actually like to own?

Flying high with Jerry Trimble Helicopters: McMinnville Municipal Airport (KMMV), Oregon

Thursday, January 17, 2013 | Sarah Acosta

As Jerry Trimble climbs into his Robinson R22 helicopter and makes his way through the checklist – fuel valve on, mixture rich, rotor brake off, master switch on, magneto switch to start – it could be you sitting to his left.

Trimble and his wife Allison Row recently expanded their helicopter business to a more familiar locale – Smithville.

Row is originally from the area and the daughter of the late Irvin Row, who was instrumental in the growth of Smithville Crawford Municipal Airport. The Irvin Row Airport Terminal, a lounge where pilots can rest between flights, enjoy refreshments and browse through the history of the airport, is dedicated to him.

The aviation duo met in the Portland, Ore. area while on their own aeronautical adventures. Row was working for a charter company and Trimble was dabbling in aircraft maintenance.

The couple later opened Jerry Trimble Helicopters at the McMinnville Airport in 2007 and have since expanded to Thermal, Calif. and, most recently, right here in Bastrop County.

The business offers a more individualized approach to flight training and scenic rides. With five Robinson helicopters in their fleet, the Robinson R22, a two-seater, has found its home at the Smithville airport.

It took Trimble 10 days – 33 flight hours doing two-hour legs and covering a distance of 2,200 nautical miles – to reach this destination from Oregon.

Steeped in aviation at a young age, Trimble has logged more than 14,000 hours in fixed-wing planes and helicopters since 1974. His father, Robert, was a helicopter pioneer in the 1950s and had him on a helicopter at 5 months old.

Trimble received his fixed-wing CFI in March of 1976 and was then invited to Indonesia, where he was allowed to fly a Bell 47 at Budiarto. After 80 hours of Bell 47 time, he came back to Oregon and flew about seven hours prep in a Bell 47 G4A.

“I was working for the operator Herb Henderson at the time on an earn while you learn basis. I was mixing chemicals and driving the mix truck, while making $3.50 per hour. The Bell 47 cost $250 per hour to fly,” he said.

In 1978 he received his Airframe and Power plant certificate at Northrup University in Inglewood, Calif. and started working for Frank Robinson as an A&P mechanic in January 1979.

In December 1980, he started Hillsboro Helicopters in Hillsboro, Oregon.

“I was a one-man band in the beginning,” Trimble said. “In 1992, when I sold the company to Ed Cooley we were over 40 people strong with over 25 aircraft.”

Through his time in aviation, Trimble has worn many hats, including chief pilot, director of operations, director of maintenance and a chief flight instructor for both airplanes and helicopters.

Row was also born into the world of aviation, learning how to fly at a very young age and earning her private pilot’s license in 1995.

She moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1999 where she worked for Global Aviation, a charter company.

“I started out as a receptionist, became a scheduler, then a flight attendant and eventually moved up to be a corporate pilot,” Row said.

She has her share of stories to tell and a long list of famous riders to list, including Michael Jordon, Toby Keith, LaBron James, Morgan Freeman and many more.

She currently serves as the general manager of the operation while Trimble handles the actual flight training. Their business has drawn in students from throughout the United States and even as far as Europe.

“I really enjoy working with the students,” Row said. “They are young, smart, motivated and really eager to learn.”

Though flight training is their main focus, they also offer scenic flights at reasonable rates, starting at $250 for an hour, $85 for 20 minutes and $20 for a five minute ride covering a short flight pattern.

They also offer $75 demo flight certificate that can be logged as a half-hour of flight time, flight instruction at $214 an hour with a 220-pound weight limit and a minimum age of two for all passengers.

“What I like about a helicopter is that it allows you to fly low and in any direction you want,” Trimble said. “I really enjoy the scenic flights because of the animation and expression on the passengers face. It’s a very different perspective from the sky. ”

Visit or contact Trimble at 503-807-8239 for more information about the business and flight training.


Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field (KAGS) measures more than a half million passengers in 2012

Augusta Regional Airport recorded another year of passenger growth in 2012, hitting an all-time high of more than a half million travelers departing and arriving.

The airport saw a nearly 2 percent growth, or an additional 10,000 passengers to surpass the 541,843 totaled in 2011. The growth rate, however, was meager compared to double-digit increases in recent years, officials said.

Following 15 years of falling passenger numbers, Augusta Regional Airport has grown 102 percent since 2006. In 2010, passenger numbers grew between 20 and 25 percent but that fell to about 9 percent in 2011.

Growth is slowing because of a shortage of seats in the market, said Diane Johnston, the airport’s marketing director. The airport lost a net 7,000 seats in 2012 after American Airlines stopped a direct flight to Dallas in January. The addition of a U.S. Airways flight to Washington, D.C. and some larger Delta Airlines aircraft helped slightly but aircraft are routinely filling to between 90 and 100 percent capacity.

“We don’t have enough seats in the market for us to continue to grow,” Johnston said.

Strong passenger numbers help the airport attract new or improved service, said Lauren Smith, communications manager. A constant line of communication is maintained between Augusta Regional and major airlines.

“They always look at our numbers to see if we have the potential for added flights,” Smith said. “The more passengers we see, the more potential we have for adding flights or adding service.”

Fares for flights departing Augusta Regional are competitive with other markets, Smith said.

“Augusta wants to use their local airport,” she said. “They have noticed the low fares and that service is reliable.”

Another contributor to growth was service from Delta Airlines in addition to its regional partner Atlantic Southeast Airlines that operates most daily flights from Augusta for Delta.

The mainline Delta flight was added in May 2011 and operates a 125-seat jet with a first-class cabin once a day, Johnston said. Passenger numbers on that flight grew 10 to 15 percent each month in 2012.

Seventeen flights depart Augusta Regional Airport daily and another 17 arrive, Smith said.



-Atlantic Southeast Airlines: 122,547

-Delta: 26,701

-U.S. Airways Express: 97,596

-Charters: 2,075

-American Eagle: 23,932

-Total: 272,851


-Atlantic Southeast Airlines: 122,116

-Delta: 44,056

-U.S. Airways Express: 108,938

-Charters: 2,525

-American Eagle: 1,607

-Total: 279,242



-Atlantic Southeast Airlines: 121,033

-Delta: 25,255

-U.S. Airways Express: 95,096

-Charters: 2,312

-American Eagle: 25,296

-Total: 268,992


-Atlantic Southeast Airlines: 120,628

-Delta: 40,298

-U.S. Airways Express: 107,507

-Charters: 2,601

-American Eagle: 1,677

-Total: 272,711

Source: Augusta Regional Airport

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San Diego, California: Marine recruit arrested after dash across runway (with video)

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SAN DIEGO — A young recruit bolted from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot and ran across a runway at next door Lindbergh Field early Thursday before being arrested by Harbor Police, authorities said.

“It’s happened before,” said Harbor Police Sgt. Brad Hizer.

The Marine suffered multiple lacerations and his uniform pants were snagged off him by the razor wire topping the airport security fence, Hizer said.

An airport control tower worker reported about 6:20 a.m. that a man was running across a runway toward Gate 6 and got into a janitor’s van to hide, San Diego International Airport spokeswoman Diana Lucero said.

She said it appeared the man came from the direction of the Marine recruit depot, which abuts the west end of the airport off North Harbor Drive. Harbor police got the man into custody by 6:27 a.m., Lucero said.

“No airport operations were impacted whatsoever,” Lucero said. “This happens maybe once every other year.”

Hizer said his officers turned the recruit over to military police and he likely would be treated for his cuts at a hospital.

Officials at the recruit depot issued a statement staying the recruit reported for duty on Monday and was going through initial processing. He had not begun recruit training.

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A U.S. Marine recruit faces felony and misdemeanor chargers for jumping over two barbed-wire fences and running on the tarmac of San Diego’s airport.

 San Diego harbor police got word from the Lindbergh Tower that a man had run on the tarmac by Gate 6 in Terminal 1 at 6:20 a.m. Thursday.

He attempted to hide in a service vehicle that belongs to the janitorial department.

"He had quite a few cuts on him and at the time that we found him he had actually taken his pants off so he was in his boxer shorts and his Marine Corps T-shirt," said Harbor Police Lt John Forsythe.

In aerials from NBC 7 San Diego news helicopter, the white van could be seen parked in front of a Southwest airliner connected to the gate. The vehicle was surrounded by airport maintenance vehicles.

Military police were called because the suspect was a 22-year-old Marine recruit from the nearby Marine Corps Recruit Depot. The unidentified man arrived to the training center from San Rafael Jan. 14 officials said.

"Everything we said to him it was: 'Yes sir! Yes sir! 'That was all he pretty much said to us," Forsythe said. "It took us a while to get his name and everything else like that."

Flights were not affected according to airport officials.

The incident posed no threat to passengers or the public officials said.

But the breach of security was on a topic of conversation for many passengers inside the terminal.

"What are you running out there for?! What is calling you to the actual runway to make you want to go out there? And it's terrifying just knowing somebody would want to do that," said air traveler Mo Owens.

"I think that probably the security at the airport is very good," passenger Tom Solari said. "I feel comfortable. I'm not worried at all."

The suspect was transported to the Naval Medical Center San Diego in Balboa Park via ambulance with a military police vehicle following close behind.

The unidentified recruit reported to MCRD just three days ago and was in the initial processing phase. He had not begun recruit training military officials said.

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