Thursday, January 24, 2013

Federal Aviation Administration Probes Pilot in Risky Plane Stunt Video

The pilot performing a breathtaking feat in a video posted online in which an aerobatic plane travelling at 200 miles an hour comes within feet of a man on a Texas runway was performing the stunt on an expired waiver, ABC News has learned.

Stunt pilot Jason Newburg advertises as a daredevil for hire, specializing in death-defying aerial ballet at air shows. He posted the clip on YouTube on Monday, in which the wing of his plane tipped dangerously close to the ground as he speeds by, nearly taking out a man on an all-terrain vehicle and the cameraman shooting the stunt. The clip before it was taken down had nearly 150,000 views.

Newburg’s waiver to perform aerobatics expired in November, sources told ABC News. And even if it hadn’t, pilots are required to ensure the safety of people on the ground.

“Several points along the way this guy could have make mistakes that would have killed himself, and the two people that are filming the action here,” ABC News aviation consultant Steve Ganyard said.

Newburg often performs with motorcycle showmen known as the Dallas Stunt Riderz, who choreograph maneuvers beneath his bright green plane.  But the FAA is apparently not amused by his adrenalin burst of showmanship, telling ABC News it is investigating the incident.

Efforts by ABC News to reach Newburg have been unsuccessful.

Newburg’s company was involved in a helicopter crash in 2008. The National Transportation Safety Board report on that crash says the pilot, who was not named, was not licensed to fly a helicopter, and that he took off with, instead of against the wind, causing a hard landing.

Story and video:   http://abcnews.go.com

de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300, Kenn Borek Air, C-GKBC: Accident occurred January 23, 2013 in Queen Alexandra Range, Antarctica

Memorial Page - Share Your Condolences:  http://www.borekair.com/memorial
 

 
The Canadian pilot of the missing Twin Otter was identified by his wife as Bob Heath of Inunvik, N.W.T. 
(Courtesy Lucy Heath)

 

 
Avcanada: Plane missing in Antarctica:  http://www.avcanada.ca

Search for missing aircraft in Antarctica - updates:    http://www.maritimenz.govt.nz

A spotting aircraft dispatched to circle above a patch of land in Antarctica to search for a missing airplane with three Canadians on board has returned to base, due to bad weather hampering the effort. 

The operation is being led by the Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand, which sent a DC-3 airplane above an area near the South Pole where the missing Twin Otter, operated by Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air, appeared to be transmitting an emergency beacon. The signal was activated around 10 p.m. local time Tuesday, Maritime New Zealand said in a release.

But in a late-night interview Wednesday, TV New Zealand's Rebecca Edwards told CBC News that poor visibility and high winds forced the DC-3 to head back to McMurdo Station, an American research facility in Antarctica.

"[The DC-3] had been circling above that area for about six hours, and it had hoped to make visual contact with the plane, as well as dropping a satellite telephoned down to the Canadian crew," Edwards reported. "Unfortunately, harsh weather conditions has meant neither of those things could take place."

Edwards said that frustrated search and rescuers described the situation as a "terrible waiting game," as their schedule is at the mercy of poor weather that's expected to last another 12 hours. Paramedics and rescue aircraft are on standby should the weather improve soon.

Pilot identified as Bob Heath from Inuvik

The pilot of the missing Twin Otter has been identified by his wife, Lucy, as Bob Heath from Inuvik, N.W.T.

Kenn Borek Air has not confirmed the names of the people on board the aircraft.

Immense cloud cover at 22,000 feet and extreme winds were making it impossible for the DC-3 to descend any lower to make visual contact, said Steve Rendle, a spokesman for Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand.

The forecast is also calling for heavy snowfall.

In a note of optimism, Edwards said the search crew had pointed out that Antactica is currently experiencing 24-hour daylight, which will at the very least mean nightfall won't be any issue as they continue the rescue effort in what is the coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth.


Survival kit, tents on board

"I have been told there is a survival kit on board that plane that includes provisions that will last five days, as well as mountian tents," Edwards added. "The best-case scenario here, rescuers are telling me, is that those three are hunkered down, waiting for assistance."

The beacon is transmitting from the northern end of the continent's Queen Alexandra mountain range. That site is about 150 kilometres from the South Pole.

Once the weather clears, the plan is to set up a rescue base 50 kilometres from where it is believed the plane went down en route to an Italian base in Terra Nova Bay, Antarctica.

The condition of those who were onboard the aircraft is unknown but "standard operating procedure in Antarctica is to travel with survival suits and supplies," said Rendle.

The pilot's wife, Lucy Heath, said the company has promised to update her on any information.

"They didn't say when. They said they would update me as they know."

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says it's aware of the incident and is awaiting more details.

Story, reaction/comments, video, photo:  http://www.cbc.ca


 NSF Cooperating with Italy, New Zealand in Search for Downed Plane in Antarctica  

Officials with the U.S. Antarctic Program are cooperating with their Italian and New Zealand counterparts, as well as the Rescue Coordination Centre in Wellington, NZ, in a search-and-rescue effort to locate a propeller-driven aircraft that is believed to have crashed in a remote and mountainous part of Antarctica.

A three-person crew is believed to have been aboard the de Havilland Twin Otter when contact was lost with the plane in the early morning hours of Jan. 23, Eastern Standard Time (U.S. stations in Antarctica keep New Zealand time). The nationalities of the crew are unconfirmed at this point.

The missing plane was flying in support of the Italian Antarctic Program under the logistical responsibility of the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), and was en route from NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station to the Italian research station at Terra Nova Bay when contact was lost with the aircraft in a remote region of the Transantarctic Mountains.

The aircraft is owned and operated by Kenn Borek Air Ltd., a Canadian firm headquartered in Calgary that charters aircraft to the U.S. program.

Communications between U.S. officials at McMurdo Station in Antarctica and the New Zealand Rescue Coordination Centre confirmed that an emergency locator beacon had been activated.

Officials are monitoring conditions at the site, where the weather is currently very poor, to decide when to launch a search of the area and what kind of aircraft to use.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) manages the U.S. Antarctic Program through which it coordinates all U.S. scientific research on the southernmost continent and in the surrounding Southern Ocean as well as providing the necessary logistical support for the science.

-NSF-
 

Kenn Borek plane carrying three Canadians missing in Antarctica 

 A desperate search is on at the bottom of the earth for three Canadians aboard a missing plane in Antarctica.

The DHC-6 Twin Otter, owned by Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air Ltd., disappeared Wednesday night while en route from the South Pole to an Italian base in Terra Nova Bay.

Search officials in New Zealand say the plane's emergency locator beacon is sending out a signal from along the flight path.

A Twin Otter aircraft carrying three Canadians went missing Wednesday night as the plane was en route from the South Pole to an Italian base in Terra Nova Bay.

An American rescue plane was dispatched to but the search for the plane has been unfruitful.  Low cloud coverage and high winds are making the search efforts very difficult.

New Zealand media is reporting that the three people on board the plane are employees of Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air, a detail not yet confirmed by the airline.

Kenn Borek Air has years of experience flying in the Arctic and Antarctica.  The company charters flights for expeditions, oil exploration, tourist excursions and air ambulance service.

In 2001, a Kenn Borek Air crew plucked a doctor to safety from a South Pole station and in 2007, all 12 people on board survived when a Kenn Borek flight crashed on takeoff in Antarctica.

Read more: http://calgary.ctvnews.ca