Saturday, January 26, 2013

Navy Pilot Training Takes Off, Hits Turbulence

SALISBURY, Md.- Plans to beef up the Navy pilot training facility in Accomack County have taken off. But the arrival comes with baggage. Some neighbors are complaining, while others are rolling out the tarmac.

"We had them fly over here before, and it was really noisy at night," said Pat's Country Corner owner Patricia Tarr. Her small beauty shop is not too far from the NASA Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia.

"Sometimes you hear three to four loud jets per night," she said.

It might get even noisier. The Navy announced it will begin flying up to 20,000 twin-engine turboprop aircrafts a year this summer.

Some planes would carry supplies and personnel, while others would provide the eyes and ears of combat operations.

"NASA Wallops Flight Facility is a world-class operation, and I am encouraged that the Navy has chosen it as a partner to conduct Field Carrier Landing practice," said U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, representative of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, in a press release.

But some neighboring people are shaking their heads in disapproval.

"It vibrates a lot of the trailers and things that people live in, and the windows are not that safe," said Robin Scolling of Accomack County.

That's not the only thing pilot training in the area has shaken up. Lawmakers say it's good for the Navy and the economy.

"With jobs being lost at the rate they are being lost, you know, I think that would be very profitable," said Cauline Merritt of Accomack County. "It encourages more businesses in the area."

Although pilots will train miles away from the small town, locals say they are inches away from protesting the wallops flight facility.

But Tarr says it is hard to work when you can't sleep.

"A lot of people that work shift work here and it's noisy for the workers at night," Tarr said. "It's not a good idea, I don't think it is."

According to NASA Wallops Flight Facility spokesman Keith Koehler said the Navy will work with neighboring towns to find a happy medium.


Dead British Airways Pilots 'Victims of Toxic Cabin Fumes'

Sunday January 27,2013
By Ted Jeory


Two of British Airways’ most talented pilots have died after complaining of years of exposure to toxic oil fumes on board passenger planes.

Karen Lysakowska, 43, was buried last Tuesday, while Richard Westgate, also 43, was laid to rest four days before.

Both believed they had been poisoned by the toxic oil fumes that can contaminate cabin air and which regularly forces pilots to don oxygen masks in order to breathe.

Lawyers for Mr Westgate now want to “give him the trial he never got” by suing the airline in a case they say will be a “moment of truth” for the aviation industry.

They say they are on the cusp of proving in a court of law the existence of “aerotoxic syndrome”, a chronic physical and neurological condition they predict will one day be seen as “the new asbestos”.

Thousands of pilots are currently “unfit to fly”, one specialist doctor believes.

Official records from the Civil Aviation Authority show that oxygen masks are being donned by pilots and crew at the rate of at least five times a week to combat suspected “fume events”.

In some cases, crew members have passed out yet in almost all incidents, passengers are unaware.

The air enters the cabin unfiltered via a bleed pipe off the jet engine where any oil leak at high temperature can cause the release of a dangerous mix of compounds, including potentially toxic organophosphates.

Those most at risk are pilots, cabin crew, other very frequent flyers and people who are genetically susceptible to the toxins.

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Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria commences removal of abandoned aircraft, scraps to be recycled into aluminum as roofing sheets

Some abandoned aircraft

Lagos (WorldStage Newsonline)-- The  special task force on  evacuation of abandoned aircraft at airports across Nigeria on Thursday commenced the dismantling of a DC8 aircraft used by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN),  which will be taken away as scraps aluminum for recycling.

This is coming a week after FAAN issued ultimatum to owners of abandoned aircraft at the apron of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos to remove them.

FAAN said the scraps will be evacuated to rolling plants in Ogun and Lagos States, for conversion into corrugated aluminum roofing sheets, sliding doors, windows and other small scale industrial use by the prospective buyers.

The evacuation exercise began from the Murtala Mohammed Airport (MMA), Lagos and it is expected to move to Abuja airport .

The abandoned aircraft, 13 in all at the Lagos airport are expected to be dismantled within the next 13 days.

After the dismantling, the aircraft would be transported to a steel company for recycling into other industrial use.

Speaking to journalists at the site, one of the contractors handling the project at the Lagos airport, AAYU Steel Mills said the aircraft would be recycled in Lagos before being transported to the company in Kebbi State.

The Logistics Officer of the company,  Bashir Haruna explained that out of the 13 aircraft on ground, eight are Boeing 737-200 aircraft and assured that the company would do its job diligently.

Speaking on the exercise, the General Manager, Corporate Communications, FAAN, Mr. Yakubu Dati said that the company was expected to finish its work in less than two weeks.

He said that after the completion of the exercise in Lagos, another contractor would evacuate the abandoned aircraft in Abuja.

Dati said that the exercise was part of the transformation agenda of the Federal Government for the industry, adding that the government would continue to provide comfortable environment for airport users.

He added that the contractors handling the project took it up without any financial commitment from FAAN.

He said, "Airports are not dumping grounds for any operator. We are more concerned about the safety and security implications of these aircraft at the airports. Even, there is an environmental implications for this. For instance, reptiles may hide inside of any of these aircraft.

"We are determined to create a world class airport environment for our users. Leaving them here now does not make any economical benefit to the owners. It's better we remove them from the airport and make the environment friendly to investors."

The  terminal manager, domestic of the Murtala Muhammed Airport,  Mr. Olatayo Oginni said that most of the aircraft were not serviceable as they lacked aircraft engines.

He insisted that there was no going back in the evacuation of the aircraft as the agency had given the owners of the aircraft an ample time to relocate their machines, which they failed to do.

Last week, the Federal Government  ordered the immediate removal of abandoned  and unserviceable aircraft littering the extended apron of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

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Socata TBM700 C2, Cool Stream Media LLC, N731CA: Accident occurred December 20, 2011 in Morristown, New Jersey

Teterboro ATCT (TEB) Audio,  New York TRACON (N90), New York ARTCC (ZNY)

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA115
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, December 20, 2011 in Morristown, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/10/2013
Aircraft: SOCATA TBM 700, registration: N731CA
Injuries: 5 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Although the pilot filed an instrument flight rules flight plan through the Direct User Access Terminal System (DUATS), no evidence of a weather briefing was found. The flight departed in visual meteorological conditions and entered instrument meteorological conditions while climbing through 12,800 feet. The air traffic controller advised the pilot of moderate rime icing from 15,000 feet through 17,000 feet, with light rime ice at 14,000 feet. The controller asked the pilot to advise him if the icing worsened, and the pilot responded that he would let them know and that it was no problem for him. The controller informed the pilot that he was coordinating for a higher altitude. The pilot confirmed that, while at 16,800 feet, "…light icing has been present for a little while and a higher altitude would be great." About 15 seconds later, the pilot stated that he was getting a little rattle and requested a higher altitude as soon as possible. About 25 seconds after that, the flight was cleared to flight level 200, and the pilot acknowledged. About one minute later, the airplane reached a peak altitude of 17,800 feet before turning sharply to the left and entering a descent. While descending through 17,400 feet, the pilot stated, "and N731CA's declaring…" No subsequent transmissions were received from the flight.

The airplane impacted the paved surfaces and a wooded median on an interstate highway. A postaccident fire resulted. The outboard section of the right wing and several sections of the empennage, including the horizontal stabilizer, elevator, and rudder, were found about 1/4 mile southwest of the fuselage, in a residential area. Witnesses reported seeing pieces of the airplane separating during flight and the airplane in a rapid descent. Examination of the wreckage revealed that the outboard section of the right wing separated in flight, at a relatively low altitude, and then struck and severed portions of the empennage. There was no evidence of a preexisting mechanical anomaly that would have precluded normal operation of the airframe or engine.

An examination of weather information revealed that numerous pilots reported icing conditions in the general area before and after the accident. At least three flight crews considered the icing "severe." Although severe icing was not forecasted, an Airmen's Meteorological Information (AIRMET) advisory included moderate icing at altitudes at which the accident pilot was flying. The pilot operating handbook warned that the airplane was not certificated for flight in severe icing conditions and that, if encountered, the pilot must exit severe icing immediately by changing altitude or routing. Although the pilot was coordinating for a higher altitude with the air traffic controller at the time of the icing encounter, it is likely that he either did not know the severity of the icing or he was reluctant to exercise his command authority in order to immediately exit the icing conditions.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The airplane’s encounter with unforecasted severe icing conditions that were characterized by high ice accretion rates and the pilot's failure to use his command authority to depart the icing conditions in an expeditious manner, which resulted in a loss of airplane control.


On December 20, 2011, about 1005 eastern standard time, a Socata TBM 700, N731CA, collided with terrain following an in-flight loss of aircraft control near Morristown, New Jersey. The airplane was registered to Cool Stream LLC and was operated by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the flight from Teterboro, New Jersey (TEB) to Atlanta, Georgia (PDK). The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The certificated private pilot and four passengers were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The flight originated from TEB about 0950.

On December 20, 2011, at 0700, an IFR flight plan was filed for the flight using the Direct User Access Terminal System (DUATS). The flight plan listed a cruising speed of 292 knots and an en route altitude of flight level (FL) 260. At 0930, TEB clearance delivery issued an IFR clearance to the pilot and he subsequently contacted TEB ground control at 0943 for taxi clearance. The pilot was cleared to taxi to runway 6 and at 0948 the pilot reported that he was ready for departure for runway 6. According to air traffic control (ATC) recorded communications between TEB local control, ground control, and the pilot, weather information was not requested by, nor issued to, the pilot.

During the departure climb, while passing 8,000 feet for 10,000 feet, the pilot was directed to climb and maintain 14,000 feet. The controller then advised the pilot of moderate rime icing from 15,000 feet through 17,000 feet with light rime ice at 14,000 feet. The controller asked that the pilot advise him if the icing got worse, and the pilot responded with, “we’ll let you know what happens when we get in there and if we could go straight through, it’s no problem for us.” At 0958:24, the controller directed the pilot to climb and maintain 17,000 feet and to contact New York Center (ZNY). While climbing between 12,800 and 12,900 feet, at 116 knots ground speed, the pilot acknowledged and advised that they were entering instrument meteorological conditions (IMC).

At 1002:17, the ZNY controller advised the pilot that he would be cleared to a higher altitude when ATC could provide it, and that light icing would be encountered at 17,000 feet. The pilot responded with, “I can confirm that light icing…” and stated that, “…light icing has been present for a little while and a higher altitude would be great.” The altitude of the airplane at that time was 16,800 feet and 101 knots ground speed.

At 1002:34, the pilot reported, “we’re getting a little rattle here can we ah get ah higher as soon as possible please.” The ZNY controller responded with “stand by” and coordinated for a higher altitude with an adjacent sector controller.

At 1002:59, the ZNY controller directed the pilot to climb and maintain FL200 and the pilot acknowledged. At 1004:08, the airplane reached an altitude of 17,800 feet before it turned about 70 degrees to the left and entered a descent. At 1004:29, while descending through 17,400 feet, and at 90 knots ground speed, the pilot transmitted, “and N731CA’s declaring…” No subsequent radio transmissions were heard from the pilot. The final radar return at 1005:17 was observed at an altitude of 2,000 feet, about 600 yards west of the main wreckage impact site. The previous return, recorded 9 seconds earlier, indicated 6,200 feet.

Numerous witnesses observed the airplane during the accident sequence. A consistent observation was that the airplane descended at a rapid rate, and was trailing smoke. At least five witnesses saw pieces of the airplane separate during flight or they observed the airplane descending without a wing attached.


The pilot, age 45, held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. He reported a total flight experience of 1,400 hours on his latest second-class medical certificate application, dated July 14, 2011. The pilot’s personal logbook(s) were not located after the accident.

The pilot completed a TBM 700 two-day recurrent training course at the SIMCOM Training Center, Orlando, Florida on November 15, 2011. According to a representative from SIMCOM, ground training was accomplished that addressed the technical aspects of the installed ice protection and environmental systems, including preflight checking and testing. Normal and emergency checklist procedures were also discussed. Simulator training consisted of system checking, testing, and operation, including operating in icing conditions, at altitude, and system malfunctions. The SIMCOM representative stated that, “It is always stressed that the installed ice protection systems are intended to provide protection while departing icing conditions.”

SIMCOM training records showed that the pilot completed a similar recurrent course on November 15 and 16, 2010.


The airplane was manufactured in 2005 and was equipped with a single Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A-64 turbo-prop engine. The airplane was issued a Standard Airworthiness Certificate on September 22, 2005 and was registered to Cool Stream LLC on October 25, 2005.

The most recent annual inspection was performed on July 27, 2011. At that time, the airplane had accumulated approximately 702.0 total flight hours. The last logbook entry was recorded on November 18, 2011, at an aircraft total time of 724.6 hours.


The public docket for this accident contains a Meteorology Factual Report and numerous attachments to support that report. All times that follow in this section are expressed in eastern standard time unless otherwise noted.

A search of the Direct User Access Terminal (DUAT), the DUATS, and Lockheed Martin Flight Services revealed that the pilot did not access weather services or receive a telephone weather briefing prior to the accident flight. It was not determined if the pilot received weather information from other sources.

The closest surface weather observation was at Morristown Municipal Airport (MMU), located about 3 miles east-northeast of the accident site at an elevation of 187 feet. The 0945 observation reported wind from 360 degrees at 8 knots with gusts to 13 knots, visibility of 10 miles or greater, ceiling overcast at 20,000 feet, temperature 6 degrees C, dew point -2 degrees C, and altimeter setting 30.17 inches of mercury. No precipitation was noted in the observation.

The 0951 surface weather observation for TEB, located about 20 miles east-northeast of the accident site at an elevation of 9 feet, included sky clear and visibility of 10 miles or greater.

The National Weather Service (NWS) Surface Analysis Chart for 1000 depicted a low pressure center near the Indiana/Ohio border with a stationary front extending east through Ohio into western Pennsylvania. A cold front extended from this point eastward through southern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey, and continued over coastal waters. No present weather symbols were depicted in the accident region.

The portion of the Area Forecast directed toward northern New Jersey and in effect until 1000 included the following, ceilings overcast at 7,000 feet and cloud tops to FL180. The conditions between 1000 and 1600 forecasted ceilings broken at 15,000 feet. The Area Forecast Discussion issued at 0956 did not discuss any icing hazard to aircraft.

An Airmen’s Meteorological Information (AIRMET) advisory, “ZULU,” was issued at 0945 that included the area of the accident site. The AIRMET advised of moderate icing between the freezing level (identified as located between 2,000 feet and 8,000 feet) and FL200.

Prior to the 0945 AIRMET ZULU, an amended AIRMET ZULU was issued at 0645. The amended AIRMET advised of moderate icing between the freezing level (identified as located between 3,000 feet and 9,000 feet) and FL180.

Pilot reports made over New Jersey, southern New York, and eastern Pennsylvania between 0800 and 1300 were reviewed by investigators. More than 80 reports were compiled.

An urgent pilot report was received at 0749 from a pilot operating a Cessna Citation at 14,000 feet, about 15 nautical miles southwest of Modena, Pennsylvania. The pilot reported moderate to severe rime icing between 13,000 and 14,000 feet.

An urgent pilot report was received at 1042 from “multiple” types of aircraft at 14,000 feet near Schooley’s Mountain, New Jersey. The report included severe rime icing between 14,000 and 17,500 feet.

An urgent pilot report was received at 0808 from a flight crew operating a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft at 14,000 feet over MMU. The pilot reported moderate to severe rime icing between 14,000 and 16,500 feet. One of the flight crewmembers reported that the icing was the worst he had seen in 38 years of flying experience and that he had never seen ice accumulate so quickly. He described “golf ball-sized” accumulation on the windshield wiper.

An interview with the captain of a Bombardier CRJ aircraft that was operating close to the accident aircraft reported that the wing anti-ice system could not “keep up” with the accumulation. He estimated 2.5 inches of ice on the protected areas of the wing, and 4 inches accumulation on some unprotected areas in a time span of about five minutes.


The airplane impacted the paved surfaces and a wooded median on Interstate Highway 287, about 1 mile south of Morristown. The point of initial impact of the main wreckage was in the southbound lanes, at coordinates 40 46.573 north, 074 28.624 west. The main wreckage debris field was oriented on a heading of about 070 degrees and was about 350 feet in length. The propeller assembly separated from the engine during impact and came to rest in a wooded area on the east side of the northbound lanes.

A post-crash fire was evident on the highway and in the wooded median, where sections of the fuselage, the left wing, and the vertical stabilizer came to rest. Due to the impact damage and fragmentation of the cockpit, cabin, and fuselage, the seating positions of the airplane occupants was not determined.

The outboard section of the right wing and several sections of the empennage, including the horizontal stabilizer, elevator, and rudder, were found between 0.20 and 0.23 nautical miles southwest of the fuselage, in a residential area.

The wreckage was recovered to a storage facility in Clayton, Delaware, where an examination and partial reconstruction of the wreckage was performed on January 3 and 4, 2012. The examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of a pre-accident mechanical malfunction or anomaly.

A visual inspection of the pneumatic leading edge de-ice boots revealed no pre-existing ruptures or cracks and all observable boot fasteners were intact and secure. Impact damage prevented functional testing of the aircraft de-ice systems. The cockpit de-ice system panel was found intact. The airframe de-ice, propeller de-ice, pitot heat 1 and 2, and stall warning heater switches were found in the “ON” positions. The ice inspection light, the left and right windshield de-ice, and the inertial separator switches were found in the “OFF” positions.

An examination of the C6 and C8 carry-through structure, where the wings were attached to the fuselage, exhibited twisting and bending distortion at the right wing attachment points, in the up and aft direction. The carry-through structure was fragmented. All fracture surfaces exhibited overload signatures. No evidence of pre-existing cracks or fatigue was observed.

An examination of the outboard section of the right wing revealed that the wing tip, aileron, and spoiler were still attached. Examination of the aileron attachment and actuator hardware revealed no evidence of stop-to-stop damage.

The horizontal stabilizer was separated from the airframe at location C21, with the C21 frame still attached to the assembly. The right-hand horizontal stabilizer was fractured in half, near the midpoint on the right-hand leading edge. The outboard half of the right-hand stabilizer was found adjacent to the larger portion that included the left-hand horizontal stabilizer and C21 frame. The right elevator was still attached to the outboard section of the right horizontal stabilizer by the trim tab actuators. The left elevator was attached to the left horizontal stabilizer.

During the examination of the airframe structure, the outboard section of the right wing was manually positioned, or “mated,” with the leading edge of the right-hand horizontal stabilizer to explore the possibility of in-flight contact. The examination revealed that deformation on the leading edge of the right wing was consistent with an in-flight contact with the leading edge of the right-hand horizontal stabilizer. Also, impact signatures and damage observed on the right wing leading edge, near positions N19 and N20, were consistent with an in-flight collision with the right side of the rudder.

The engine displayed contact signatures at the compressor first stage and shroud, compressor turbine, compressor turbine shroud, first stage power turbine vane ring, first stage power turbine, first stage power turbine shroud, second stage power turbine vane ring, second stage power turbine, and the second stage power turbine shroud. The engine housing exhibited severe radial deformation around the right hand circumference resulting in circumferential impact fractures of the compressor turbine blades and the first and second stage power turbine blades.

The examination of the propeller revealed that three of the propeller blades remained attached to the propeller hub and a fourth blade separated into two sections. The blades exhibited twisting, chord-wise scratching, “s” bending, and blade tip separations.


A postmortem examination of the pilot was performed at the County of Morris Medical Examiner’s Office, Morristown, New Jersey, on December 21, 2011. The autopsy report noted the cause of death as “multiple injuries” and the manner of death was “accident.”

Forensic toxicology testing was performed on specimens of the pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The CAMI toxicology report indicated negative for ethanol and drugs. Testing for carbon monoxide and cyanide was not performed.


The following “WARNING” was included in the TBM 700 Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH) and was applicable at the time of the accident:



The POH also included information on how to detect and identify severe icing conditions. The POH directed the pilot to immediately request priority handling from air traffic control to facilitate a route or altitude change to exit the icing conditions.

Section 3, “Emergency Procedures” also described pilot actions in the event of flight into severe icing conditions. Excerpts from the POH are included in the public docket for this accident.

Part 91.3 of the Federal Aviation Regulations addresses the responsibility and authority of the pilot-in-command:

(a) The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.
(b) In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot in command may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.

The Buckalew family
A 2010 photo of Corinne Buckalew, husband Jeffrey Buckalew, and their children Meriwether and Jackson.

This undated photo provided by Greenhill & Co., shows Rakesh Chawla, 36, who was on board the Socata TBM700 C2 that crashed December 20, 2011 on a highway in Harding, N.J., killing all five people on board.

The pilot of a Socata TBM700 C2 flying high over Morristown Municipal Airport had reported heavy icing conditions as he flew at 14,000 feet. 

An urgent pilot report was received from a flight crew operating a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft flying over the airport.  One of the flight crewmembers reported the icing was the worst he had experienced in 38 years of flying and said he had never seen it build up so quickly — describing "golf ball-sized" accumulations on the windshield wiper.

Not long afterward, New York investment banker Jeffrey Buckalew, with his family and a colleague, took off in his private plane from nearby Teterboro Airport for a Christmas week trip to Georgia. Minutes later, Buckalew, an experienced pilot, radioed that he was encountering icing. The small turboprop plane suddenly fell out of the sky and crashed onto Interstate 287 near Morristown, killing all five people on board.

A report issued yesterday by the National Transportation Safety Board said icing was being reported throughout the region the morning of the Dec. 20, 2011, crash, adding that "weather information was not requested by, nor issued to" Buckalew before he left Teterboro.

The 6-year-old Socata TBM700 C2  — a French-made, low-wing, six- to seven-seat single-engine turboprop aircraft — took off shortly before 10 that morning. At the controls was 45-year-old Buckalew, an investment banker with Greenhill & Co. in New York, who had more than 1,400 hours of flight time and had recently completed an annual refresher training course on the plane.
Also on board was his wife, Corrine, 45; their two young school-age children; colleague Rakesh Chawla, 36; and the family dog.

While it was not that cold on the ground, weather conditions were apparently far different higher up. According to the NTSB, the pilot was directed to climb to 14,000 feet and advised of moderate rime icing — a quick freezing of supercold water droplets on hard surfaces, such as aircraft wings.

 "We’ll let you know what happens when we get in there and if we could go straight through, it’s no problem for us,"   Buckalew radioed back.

As Buckalew continued to climb, he reported light icing and asked for a higher altitude; once, and then again more urgently.

"We’re getting a little rattle here. Can we, ah, get ah higher as soon as possible please."

The controller responded, "stand by," then directed the plane to climb. The Socata reached an altitude of 17,800 feet before it abruptly turned about 70 degrees to the left and suddenly entered a descent. A brief call, believed to be a declaration of emergency, was received on the ground.

"N731CA’s declaring…"

No subsequent radio transmissions were heard from the pilot.

The aircraft tumbled out of control, broke apart in midair and hurtled to the earth, spreading charred, mangled wreckage across a half-mile-long swath over Interstate 287 and beyond, and barely missing a pickup truck traveling in the southbound lane.

The NTSB has yet to determine a probable cause for the accident, but in its new report, investigators detailed the extensive icing conditions at the altitude through which the Socata was climbing, based on reports by more than 80 other pilots.

An interview with the captain of a Bombardier CRJ aircraft operating close to the accident scene reported that his wing anti-ice system could not "keep up" with the accumulation. He estimated 2.5 inches of ice on the protected areas of the wing, and 4 inches accumulation on some unprotected areas in a time span of about five minutes.

Ice disrupts the airflow over wings and control surfaces. If not removed promptly by de-icing systems, even a light coating of ice can lead to a loss of control.

According to the NTSB, the doomed plane had no pre-existing ruptures of its leading edge de-ice boots. While impact damage prevented functional testing of the aircraft de-ice systems, the cockpit switches for the de-icing system were found in the "ON" positions.

At the same time, however, it found Buckalew did not access weather services or receive a telephone weather briefing prior to the flight, although investigators said it could not be determined if he received weather information from other sources. The plane did not carry a black box that would have provided flight data to investigators. 

The NTSB, in its report, noted that the pilot’s handbook for the Socata specifically warns of flying in freezing rain, freezing drizzle or mixed icing conditions, which "may result in ice build-up on protected surfaces exceeding the capability of the ice protection system, or may result in ice forming aft of the protected surfaces. This ice may not be shed using the ice protection systems, and may seriously degrade the performance and controllability of the aircraft."

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Debris from a plane that crashed on the highway Tuesday are seen on a flatbed truck, December 21, 2011, in Morris Township, N.J. The Socata TBM700 C2 spun out of control and crashed, killing all five people on board and narrowly avoiding dozens of cars and trucks on Highway 287. ( AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

 Pieces of a plane that crashed on the highway are seen on a flatbed truck December 21, 2011, in Morris Township, N.J. 
( AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

 Debris from a plane that crashed on the highway Tuesday are seen on a flatbed truck, December 21, 2011, in Morris Township, N.J. 
( AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

 A piece of a plane hangs from a tree located between Hilltop Circle and James Street near Interstate 287 where the plane crashed forcing the police to close all lanes of the highway to conduct their investigation,  December 20, 2011 in Harding Township, N.J. 
(AP Photo/Joe Epstein)

 A piece of a plane that crashed can be seen on James Street near Interstate 287, December 20, 2011 in Harding Township, N.J. Two New York City investment bankers are among the five dead in the small plane crash, which left debris on the highway and local streets, forcing the police to close the highway to conduct their investigation. 
 (AP Photo/Joe Epstein)

 A section of the plane that crashed in the wooded median of Route 287 in Harding, crashed onto the intersection of James Street and Springbrook Road in Morris Township. 
(Robert Sciarrino/The Star-Ledger)

Wreckage from a plane that crashed on I-287 near Morris Township, NJ 

Portions of the aircraft landed as far away as a front lawn on James Street in Harding. 

 Debris littered a wooded area between the northbound and southbound lanes of I-287 in Harding where a small plane appeared to have gone down.

 SkyFoxHD was over I-287 in Harding, N.J., as emergency crews responded to an aircraft crash on a wooded median.

 N.J. State Police look at the wreckage of an aircraft collision between the northbound and southbound lanes of I-287 in Harding.

Aircraft crashed into trees vicinity Niles, Michigan

Michigan State Police say after a short search Saturday evening, the wreckage of 50 year old Christopher McKenna of Elkhart's plane was found in a wooded area east of Clark and Jackson Streets.

Police say McKenna was flying in tandem with another plane. That pilot says the two were supposed to be landing when McKenna's plane went down.

Police say the two planes were flying for only a short time and the pilots were testing an antenna.

Federal authorities are investigating what may have caused McKenna to crash.

NILES TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- An Elkhart family is mourning after a plane crash left a 49-year-old man dead Saturday night.

 The aircraft crashed around 4:30 p.m. in a wooded area south of Clark Street in Niles Township.

Police say the victim was flying an ultra light aircraft alongside a fellow pilot in a similar type plane. Investigators say the two pilots were testing out the antennae on the plane that crashed at the time.

The other pilot told police the two only planned to be in the air for a short time and were headed toward the airport when something went terribly wrong.

Search parties were called in to help emergency responders find the wreckage, but the pilot was pronounced dead once help finally arrived.

The FFA is still investigating the cause of the crash and whether it was mechanical or pilot error. So far police are not releasing the name of the victim.


An Elkhart man is dead after an ultralight aircraft crashed north of downtown Niles. 

 The accident happened around 4:45 p.m. Saturday in a densely wooded area about 1.5 miles shy of the Jerry Tyler Memorial Airport.

Police say the 49-year-old victim was the only one inside the plane, but was flying alongside another ultralight aircraft, piloted by a longtime friend.

The two took off around 4 p.m. from the Niles airport.

"They were going to test a piece of equipment, an antenna on one of the aircraft," said Sgt. Steve Barker with the Michigan State Police. "So, it was just for a very short period of time they were in the air."

Police say the victim's friend landed his plane at the Niles airport and realized something appeared to be wrong.

He called police to alert them the other plane might have gone down.

Search parties in Southwest Michigan spent hours looking for the downed aircraft, setting up a perimeter along Clark St., just off M-51.

The FAA is taking over the investigation and hasn't released any details about what might have caused the crash.

"The other pilot was interviewed and was very helpful with the investigation," Barker said. "But, as far as what actually happened up in the air, he can only explain what they did in terms of preparing for takeoff and that nature."

It's unclear how long the investigation could take.

Police aren't releasing the name of the victim.

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The crash scene of a downed aircraft near Niles, Michigan 
(Photo courtesy Brandon Kusz; January 26, 2013).

Authorities investigate a downed aircraft near Niles, Michigan 

One person is dead after an ultralight aircraft crashed north of downtown Niles.

The accident happened around 4:45 p.m. Saturday in a densely wooded area about 1.5 miles shy of the Jerry Tyler Memorial Airport.

Michigan State Police say the unidentified pilot was killed in the crash. No one else was on board at the time.

Search parties in Southwest Michigan spent hours looking for the downed aircraft, setting up a perimeter along Clark St., just off M-51.

Authorities say a fellow pilot called in the incident, but there's no word yet on what caused the plane to go down.

Cougar helicopter flight interrupted: No safety issues found after indicator light activates

A Cougar helicopter destined for the Terra Nova floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel was forced to turn around and make its way back to St. John's because of an indicator light.

Cougar Flight 821 returned Saturday morning as a precaution after an indicator light connected to the helicopter's auto-pilot system became active, according to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB).

It returned to St. John's at 11:30 a.m. with eight passengers and two crew members on board. The C-NLOPB said no safety issue was present, adding that the helicopter is serviceable following the completion of troubleshooting efforts.


Hiller-Tri-Plex Industries Inc. UH-12B, N9041U: Accident occurred January 26, 2013 in Okeechobee, Florida

NTSB Identification: ERA13LA118  
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, January 26, 2013 in Okeechobee, FL
Aircraft: HILLER-TRI-PLEX IND.INC. UH-12B, registration: N9041U
Injuries: 3 Minor.

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 January 26, 2013, about 0758 eastern standard time, a Hiller-Tri-Plex Industries Inc. UH-12B, N9041U, was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and then terrain, following a loss of engine power while maneuvering, near Okeechobee, Florida. The airline transport pilot and his two passengers received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local sightseeing flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the pilot, on the morning of the accident, he started and warmed up the helicopter and then checked the controls prior to loading the passengers. After loading his passengers, He lifted off and then flew to the north side of the property he was operating from to shoot Feral Hogs. After arriving at the north side, he began a parallel grid search tracking east to west and from north to the south, just above a wooded area. On the second or third east to west pass, the passenger seated on his left observed some hogs inside the edge of the wooded area. The pilot then maneuvered the helicopter toward the area that the passenger had indicated the hogs were. The engine and rotor speed which was indicted in revolutions per minute (rpm) then "faded a bit" and the pilot lowered collective and added throttle to recover rpm. He then heard a couple of "pops" and the engine rpm started "slightly decaying". At this point he was able to fly the helicopter with partial power away from some very tall trees and toward a clearer area in a shallow decent.

The rotor rpm remained within the "green / yellow area" on the tachometer and "all gauges were in the green". As he was barely above the trees (approximately 10 feet), he elected to keep the aircraft under control and settle into the trees with as low descent rate as possible.

Upon contact with the trees the main rotor blades broke apart and separated from the helicopter, and the helicopter fell nose first 20-30 feet and impacted the ground. The passenger seated to his left then egressed through the windshield area which had shattered on impact and the passenger seated to his right egressed through the right cabin door. Both passengers then assisted the pilot to egress through the right cabin door.

According to FAA records, the helicopter was manufactured in 1951. The helicopter was retained by the NTSB for further examination.

Live Oak — Two Live Oak men were involved in a helicopter crash in St. Lucie County around 9 a.m. Saturday morning, according to the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office.

Jonathan Strayer, 46, and Massad Ayoob, 64, were treated and released at Raulerson Memorial Hospital in Okeechobee, as was the pilot, William Harward, 55, Miami.

The extent of their injuries is not known at this time.

The Hiller helicopter crashed in a swamp between Okeechobee Road and Orange Avenue, west of the Adams Ranch in St. Lucie County.

"Okeechobee Sheriff's Office investigated and notified federal authorities," said Mark Weinberg, public information officer for St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office. "Later, it was determined that the crash site was about 200 feet east of the St. Lucie - Okeechobee county line, about two miles north of Waste Management's property, and in St. Lucie County."


Orange County, Florida: Charges filed on teen who pointed laser at pilot

Orange County sheriff's helicopter

Orange County deputies said they have filed charges on a teen who pointed a laser at their helicopter pilot.

Deputies said one of the Chase Units was flying near State Road 408 near Powers Road, when the pilot was just struck with a laser in his night vision goggles.

Deputies said he and his observer had a general area of where the laser was transmitted from and began searching for the suspect.

Deputies said while they were on a third orbit over the area, the pilot was once again hit with the laser.

Deputies said they were able to discover that it came from North Observatory Drive.

They located three people in a yard on Observatory Drive where the pilot said the laser appeared to come from, deputies said.

The observer followed the people and directed patrol in, deputies.

Deputies were able to find the three on the ground and discovered it was a 13-year-old that shot the laser at the pilot.

The laser was recovered as evidence, and charges are being filed on the teen. This is the second incident this week.

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Deputies said a 13-year-old pointed a laser at the Orange County sheriff's helicopter on Friday evening.

The helicopter was flying in the area of State Road 408 and Powers Drive when a green laser was pointed into the cockpit, investigators said.

The helicopter began circling the area and was hit by the laser a second time, according to deputies.

The pilot was able to determine the laser came from the yard of a home on North Observatory Drive. Investigators said the helicopter directed deputies on the ground to the home, where three juveniles were located.

Deputies determined that one of the juveniles, a 13-year-old, was the one who pointed the laser at the helicopter. Officials told WFTV the laser was attached to an air soft gun.

Investigators said the teen was not arrested but charges are being filed against him.

The teen's parents were cooperative with deputies and told WFTV their son didn't mean any harm.

"He had an air soft rifle and just decided to point it at the wrong thing, and obviously it cost him," the teen's father, Raymond Pagan, said.

The 13-year-old is being charged with interfering with the operation of an aircraft, which is a federal felony. Investigators said it will be up to the U.S. Attorney's Office to decide whether or not to prosecute the teen.

This is the second time a laser has been pointed at the Orange County sheriff's helicopter in a week. On Wednesday, deputies said they arrested 28-year-old William Leverance for also pointing a laser at the helicopter.

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Crop Duster Fertilizer Job 2

 Video by CptCropDoctor502 

Published on January 22, 2013 

Crop Duster spreading fertilizer Boom mounted camera.

Finland: Piper Chieftain Run Up


 Video by FinBattery 

 Published on January 23, 2013

 "Sorry about the shaky cam, didn't have camera stand with me."

India: High court relief for airline staff who spilt tea on infant, mom

KOCHI: The Kerala high court has quashed a case of culpable criminal negligence registered against an airline crew member for spilling hot tea on an infant and its mother during a flight.

Justice S S Satheesachandran quashed the criminal proceedings against Changanassery resident Prakash Philip, a crew member of Kuwait Airways, after the company and the complainant, a Malayali woman residing in New York, informed the court that further prosecution in the case was not needed as compensation has been given already.

In July 2008, Prakash, who was a member of the aircrew in the Kochi-bound flight, had spilt a jug of hot tea on the infant and mom.

Based on the woman's complaint, Chengamanadu police on July 14, 2008, registered a case against Prakash for causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others.

While an investigation in the matter was pending, an agreement was entered into on March 17, 2010, between the company and the complainant outside India for providing compensation and withdrawing the case.

Subsequently, Prakash filed a petition at the high court seeking to quash the case against him. Along with the petition, he also produced a copy of the agreement between the company and the complainant.

Advocate M Sreekumar, who appeared for the crew member, argued that continuation of criminal proceedings was not called for as an agreement has been effected between the parties.

On behalf of the complainant, advocate Prakash P George submitted that a full and final settlement was reached between the parties and that his party was no longer interested in prosecuting the crew member.

Quashing the case against the crew member, the court held, "Over and above the settlement effected by parties, the incident, more so an accident, had taken place by chance during the course of a flight, is also taken into account to consider whether prosecution of the accused is called for when compensation had been provided for injuries suffered by the victims."


Master plan to set a route for Lake Tahoe Airport (KTVL), South Lake Tahoe, California

Lake Tahoe Airport’s future is tied to the next master plan. 

The South Lake Tahoe City Council on Tuesday made two decisions regarding operations at the Lake Tahoe Airport: the potential outsourcing of airport management and the selection of an outside consultant to prepare an airport master plan. 

In October 2012, the city put out request for proposals asking for submissions from airport management companies to manage and operate the Lake Tahoe Airport, with the goals of maximizing the uses and users of the airport, and lowering the airport’s operating costs. The airport is currently managed by city staff consisting of Airport Director Sherry Miller and four airport maintenance technicians.

It operates at an approximate annual deficit of $325,000. The idea of outsourcing airport management was suggested by former City Manager Tony O’Rourke in March 2011 as part of the city’s five-year plan to reduce personnel costs.

RFPs were received from two airport management companies, GCR Inc. from New Orleans and ABS Aviation headquartered in Atlanta. ABS manages operations at the Minden-Tahoe airport. The management fees in these proposals ranged from $300,000 to $500,000 annually.

These proposals were evaluated to see if they would create “a reduction in the negative cash flow.” In her staff report to the council, City Manager Nancy Kerry indicated that they would not and recommended the council reject both bids. The report noted, “The airport is managed well with a very minimal staff.”

Another reason for rejecting outsourcing of airport management at this time is that the city is about to undertake the preparation of a new airport master plan, a long-range planning document dealing with all aspects of airport operations, which Kerry indicated would be assessing a wide range of viable economic alternatives for managing the airport.

“The studies and analysis provided through the master planning process,” the staff report noted, “will provide guidance to conduct a more informed decision on this matter.”

Sherri Thompson, ABS Aviation COO, and airport manager at the Minden-Tahoe Airport noted that ABS wants to stay “engaged” in the process, is involved in the Tahoe community and wants to see the airport succeed. Michael Golden, owner of Mountain West Aviation, the airport’s fixed base operator, spoke, encouraging the council to increase utilization of the airport and set “tangible milestones for staff” such as ensuring that all hangars on the airport are leased out.

The council accepted the staff recommendation and rejected both bids for outsourcing airport management at this time. (Councilwoman Angela Swanson was not at the meeting.)

The council then considered the selection of an outside consultant to produce a new airport master plan. The last airport master plan was completed in 1992 as part of the Lake Tahoe Airport Master Plan Settlement Agreement. This agreement among the city, TRPA, California Attorney General’s Office and League to Save Lake Tahoe ended years of contentious disagreements and resultant lawsuits regarding appropriate noise restrictions, commercial flight levels and other operational issues at the airport. It put in place a complex set of requirements and restrictions regarding commercial service.

During the last 20 years, a cavalcade of commercial air carriers served the Lake Tahoe Airport under the terms of the settlement agreement, but none of them lasted. There has been no scheduled commercial service at the airport for more than a decade.

The city has continued to maintain the economic importance of the airport to the community, and has retained its FAA-issued Part 139 Air Operating Certificate, required of airports with scheduled commercial service.

There has been considerable discussion, with varying viewpoints, of what are the guidelines for commercial service now that the settlement agreement has expired. There are no simple answers. Some parts of the 1992 master plan and accompanying environmental impact report carry over. Which ones they are depends on who you ask. As City Manager Nancy Kerry noted at the council meeting, “We still operate under that umbrella,” but did not go into any specifics.

TRPA External Affairs Chief Julie Regan told Lake Tahoe News in June 2012 that, “If the current (master) plan expires before a new plan is in place, the status quo would continue, i.e., the city would continue to operate the airport as a general aviation facility until a new plan is developed and put in place.”

General aviation airports do not have scheduled commercial service.

Kerry indicated that an airport committee, comprised of herself, Miller and councilmembers Tom Davis and Swanson has been reviewing these issues over the last year, and determined that the city’s best course was to complete a new, comprehensive master plan now.

Under FAA guidelines, the city had to first put out a request for qualifications to be sure a qualified consultant was selected before any agreement regarding the costs of the master planning process could be entered into. An RFQ was put out by the city in August, and three responses were received: from Mead and Hunt Inc., C&S Companies and Vanir in Association with RBF Consulting. Staff recommended the city select Mead & Hunt, and enter into negotiations with them to prepare the airport master plan. This recommendation was based on the criteria that the firm had the necessary technical expertise, their staff had familiarity with this specific airport, local regulations and environmental issues, had experience preparing master plans at similar airports as well as past success in actively engaging local communities in the master planning process.

Once the consultant is selected, then the city, the consultant and the FAA enter into negotiations. The FAA will pay 90 percent of the costs, up to $318,000. The city must pay the remaining 10 percent. The city has already allocated its share in the 2012-13 budget. These amounts do not include preparation of the environmental documentation, which is estimated to be about $250,000. The city will conduct a cost benefit analysis to determine whether it is best to hire a consultant for this phase or hire one or two short-term in-house environmental planners.

The council accepted the staff recommendation and directed that the city enter into negotiations with Mead & Hunt. A formal agreement will come back to the council for approval at a later date.

Master plans historically can take up to two years to complete. Kerry noted that the city is hoping in this case to have an “expedited” master planning process.

The city has been actively seeking proposals from regional air carriers flying new generation, quieter aircraft to begin serving the Lake Tahoe Airport. Mayor Tom Davis added, “We might have an airline interested within a year or year and a half.”

If the new master plan were not completed at that point, then the city and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency officials would have to sit down and decide on what noise, flight levels and other requirements had to be satisfied in order for the city to get a TRPA permit. Kerry said the city would need to complete environmental documentation if they changed the “current use” of the airport by adding scheduled commercial service. She added that she believes TRPA would respond positively to a proposal from an airline with three to five flights a day using quieter aircraft that met the decibel levels established under the 1992 Settlement Agreement.

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Plane's banner falls off, lands on San Francisco power lines

Photo Credit:  Lauren Machado 

SAN FRANCISCO — A plane flying a banner advertising "$8.99 haircuts" over San Francisco Saturday afternoon lost the ad, which landed on high voltage power lines next to the San Francisco Tennis Club in the city's SOMA district. 

 The banner's landing was first reported around noon near the intersection of 5th and Brannan streets.

Upon contact with the power lines, the banner reportedly burned up and caused a power outage for an estimated 250 residents in the surrounding area, according to PG&E.

As of 1 p.m., there was no estimated time of restoration from PG&E for customers near S. Market and China Basin that had lost power.

The intersection of 5th and Brannan streets was closed off by emergency crews while they attempted to remove the banner from the power lines.

No injuries were reported following the incident.


Boeing C-17A Globemaster III: MacDill Air Force Base changes rules after cargo plane's mistaken landing

TAMPA --  MacDill Air Force Base has changed procedures in its air traffic control tower after an Air Force cargo plane carrying the commander of military operations in the Middle East and South Asia landed at the wrong airport last July.

Though an Air Force investigation took the flight crew to task, Marine Gen. James Mattis and everyone else on board made it off safely.

There was no damage either to the C-17A Globemaster III or Peter O. Knight Airport, where the plane landed by mistake and just short of the water on July 20.

But the investigation found that MacDill, the jet's intended destination, falls short when it comes to warning incoming flights that the two airports are situated just four nautical miles apart and in direct alignment, with two runways carrying the same identification number.

The "frequency of errors and confusion at the pair of airfields suggests that the Air Traffic Control might aid in mitigating this threat," according to the 11-page Hazardous Air Traffic Report, obtained by the Tribune under the Freedom of Information Act.

"MacDill Tower currently has no preventative measures in place to mitigate the risk of aircrews proceeding to the incorrect airport, or even to ensure controllers are alert to the known hazard."

Because of the landing mistake in July, an updated reporting procedure was established "in an effort to mitigate airport identification issues and further increase situational awareness in the vicinity of MacDill, Peter O. Knight and other local airports," said Capt. Regina Gillis, a spokeswoman for the 6th Air Mobility Wing, MacDill's host unit.

New procedures now require aircrew to contact the base air traffic control tower when their aircraft is within five nautical miles of MacDill, Gillis said in an email to the Tribune.

"Reporting this distance to the airfield requires operating cockpit instructions and cannot be done visually," she said. "Aircraft will not be cleared to land until contact with the tower at five nautical miles. This procedure will alleviate traffic arriving from the northeast, misidentifying Peter O. Knight as MacDill."

All tower personnel have been trained on the new procedure, Gillis said.

MacDill routinely coordinates with five local airports – Peter O. Knight, Tampa Executive, Tampa International, St. Pete/Clearwater and Albert Whitted in St. Petersburg – as well as the Federal Aviation Administration. This procedure is part of the Midair Collision Avoidance Program followed by the base, she said.

"This program provides guidance for airspace awareness around MacDill and the Tampa Bay area airspace," she said.

Gillis said 16,000 aircraft land safely at MacDill annually.

The working relationship among the MacDill Wing Flight Safety Office, its air traffic control operators and surrounding airports "delivers the mutual benefit of coordinating efforts and de-conflicting operations for better and safer use of busy airspace."

Actions also have been taken by the 305th Air Mobility Wing, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., which was the home of the flight crew that made the landing mistake.

"Our pilots are stringently selected and undergo intensive training and retraining to hone their flying skills to ensure mishaps occur as infrequently as possible," said Maj. Angel Lopez, spokesman fore the command.

The pilot's training, in fact, allowed for a quick correction and a safe landing despite the shorter runway, Lopez said.

An internal investigation was conducted, he said, "and actions were taken to ensure issues such as this do not occur in the future."

Left unresolved, the confusion over MacDill and Peter O. Knight presents safety problems, one aviation expert said,.

"It increases the probability of a wrong airport landing," said William Waldock, an aircraft accident investigator for Embry-Riddle University in Daytona Beach, the nation's pre-eminent private aviation institution.

"The risk comes from what happens if you land at the wrong airport."

The confusion is a bigger potential problem for Peter O. Knight than for MacDill, said Deric Dymerski, president of Atlas Aviation, on-base operator fore the municipal airport, located on Davis Islands.

"If a C 17 landed and someone else was on short final approach, or an airplane was on the runway area, the wing vortex could flip the aircraft over," said Dymerski.

Dymerski said he has had a very good working relationship over the years with MacDill, including routine safety meetings.

But this wasn't the first time a military aircraft landed at his airport.

A Brazilian C-130 cargo plane mistakenly landed there March 14, 2005.

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Spitfire nursed back to life after 11 year restoration (With Video)

An expert team of technicians from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight restored the rare 'low back' MkXVI Spitfire to flying order at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire. 

When commemorations are held later this year for 70th anniversary of the Second World War’s most famous bombing raid, among those taking part will be a new star performer. 

Flypasts to mark the 1943 Dambusters raid are due to include a newly-restored Spitfire, now airborne again almost 60 years after it last took to the air. 

The participation of Spitfire TE311 will mark the end of a remarkable transformation for the aircraft, which has spent much of its career as a mounted display outside an RAF base, and then as a non-flying attraction at village fetes. 

Engineers from the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) have spent the last 11 years renovating the aircraft in their spare time. 

It joins an exclusive club, which until now had consisted of only 51 airworthy Spitfires in the world. 

Six of these are owned by the BBMF which is planning a series of flypasts in May, 70 years on from the attack by Lancasters of 617 Squadron on a series of German dams. 

Squadron Leader Duncan Mason, the new commanding officer of the BBMF, said: “The main focus of our season will be the commemoration of the Dambusters raid– I’m hoping TE311 will be part of those flying events as part of our three-ship [Hurricane, Spitfire, Lancaster] display. The aircraft is a dream to fly.”

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Pilots outraged by rumors of secret plan to close Excelsior Springs Memorial Airport (3EX), Missouri

 The Dickersons created an online petition to try and stop the closure. 
You can view it at

EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. - Rumors of a secret plan to close the Excelsior Springs Memorial Airport has a group of pilots outraged. Now, they're trying to save the airport by forcing city council members to discuss their plan publicly.

Last summer, Jim and Sarah Dickerson proposed leasing the airport and renovating the run-down facility.

"We really thought that it would be welcomed with open arms, really, because we weren't asking the city for any money," Jim Dickerson said.

The airport board approved the move, but the couple ended their proposal after several city council meetings and a heated discussion with Councilman Chad Taylor.

"(It) basically resulted in him shouting at my husband and saying derogatory things about our group of supporters," Sarah Dickerson explained.

Earlier this month, the Dickersons heard discussion started again, but not at City Hall.

"Then we found out that Councilman Taylor was talking to the mayor of another city and talked about voting on the airport to close, and it's in the bag," Jim Dickerson said.

"We've scoured meeting minutes, we've scoured meeting notices, posted agendas -- there is no mention of it anywhere," Sarah Dickerson said.

41 Action News reached out several times to the city manager and to Taylor to ask why plans to close the airport are not mentioned in any public documents.

"So this means the city council has been meeting behind closed doors to discuss this, and they were planning to have a vote hoping that no one would hear about it or no one would be there," Jim Dickerson said.

Supporters of the airport plan to attend the next council meeting and use the public comment portion to ask that stay open.

The Dickersons created an online petition to try and stop the closure. You can view it at

Pilot Graham Hill shot in head while flying airplane

Pilot shot in head while flying over Jacksonville, Florida


 JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WTLV) - Pilot Graham Hill was just looking for a good view of the downtown fireworks when he took his girlfriend for a New Year's Eve flight over downtown Jacksonville. Instead, he was met by gunfire. 

 "We were just north of the football stadium, at 1,200 feet when there was a loud pop. ...And that's when I noticed the bullet hole. And so I let her know that we had been shot at, and just when I said that I felt blood running down my neck."

In a YouTube video seen above this story, Hill says he handed the controls to his girlfriend when he realized he'd been shot in the head, and used his jacket to staunch the bleeding. They landed safely at Craig Field. And he appears to have taken the incident with a dose of good humor, even posting this X-ray as his Facebook profile photo.

Jacksonville pilot and flight instructor Chris Hughes, who has actually flown the plane that was hit, heard about the incident in an online pilots' forum.

"Shocked. It's not something you would expect to really run into flying over a city like Jacksonville."

Unfortunately, the problem of celebratory gunfire is not that rare in Jacksonville. An 8-year-old boy was shot in the foot, also on New Year's Eve. And as we reported at that time, Jacksonville police say they answered 259 calls for discharged firearms on that day alone.

"They know it is wrong, it is illegal, just like any other law that is broken, they are out there doing it, they know it is not right, they just think they are not going to get caught," JSO spokesperson Melissa Bujeda told First Coast News.

Chris Hughes still views the shooting as a freak occurrence. But he will tell his flight students that it's just one more thing for a pilot to be prepared for.

"At this point, yeah, I would probably warn them, if they're flying on New Year's Eve or any other major holiday when Americans like to shoot guns, then be careful. That's probably what I'd warn them."

This incident has of course gotten a lot of attention in aviation circles. But the folks we spoke to at the FAA say the chances of it happening again are almost infinitesimally small.

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