Monday, February 25, 2013

“God sent me to get a helicopter”

Puyallup Police Reports: Disturbed Man Attempts to Steal Helicopter from Good Samaritan

The following crime information from February 13, 2013 has been supplied by the Puyallup Police Department. It does not indicate a conviction.

FEBRUARY. 13, 2013

Involuntary Commit:  A man climbed the rear public access stairway of the Good Samaritan Emergency rooftop landing zone and picked up an emergency telephone, saying “God sent me to get a helicopter.” When hospital staff refused to give him rooftop access, he scaled the stairway railing, breaching security and went up to the rooftop. He did not find a helicopter there and reentered the building. He was clearly off his medication and was involuntarily committed for mental observation. Good Samaritan has changed their rooftop access protocol and will be fortifying the gate after the incident, police noted.


AMR, US Airways Name Integration Leaders

February 25, 2013, 12:57 p.m. ET

The Wall Street Journal

Oversight of the integration planning that would help mesh AMR Corp.'s American Airlines and US Airways Group Inc. should their planned merger receive all necessary approvals—will fall to US Airways President Scott Kirby and Bev Goulet, chief restructuring officer of American, the two carriers' chief executives said in a memo Monday.

The combination, which was announced on Feb. 14 and would create the world's largest airline by traffic, requires transition and integration planning so the two can begin aligning their operations, with a goal of closing the deal in the third quarter of 2013, US Airways CEO Doug Parker and AMR CEO Tom Horton said in the memo. Under the plan, Mr. Parker would become CEO of the combined company, to be named American Airlines Group Inc. Mr. Horton would become nonexecutive chairman of the board until the spring of 2014.

Mr. Kirby was the team leader for US Airways during the merger analysis and negotiations, the memo said. He played a key role in shaping the revenue and cost benefits associated with the merger, as well as leading the labor negotiations that have buttressed employee support of the plan.

Ms. Goulet has run AMR's restructuring under bankruptcy-court protection, resulting in annual savings of more than $2 billion. She also led the team that helped refine the merger's revenue and cost benefits and negotiated the equity split, which gives AMR creditors 72% of the new company and US Airways shareholders 28%.

In a 336-page motion filed with U.S. Bankruptcy Court late last week, AMR and its creditors sought the court's support of the merger, which would have an implied market value of $11 billion. Judge Sean Lane has set a March 27 hearing on the matter.

In the court filing, AMR reiterated that the merged company would have annual net synergies of $1 billion by 2015, produce higher revenue, have improved liquidity and borrowing capacity and ensure maximum recovery to AMR's economic stakeholders. The company's creditors committee, its labor unions and holders of $1.2 billion of unsecured debt also favor the merger. The two companies have said they expect to spend $1.2 billion in transition costs over three years.

During AMR's bankruptcy case, which commenced in late November 2011, the company has reduced its labor costs by $1.1 billion annually for five years and achieved nonlabor cost savings of $4.3 billion over the same period through restructuring its aircraft leases, eliminating unsecured and tax-exempt debt and redoing vendor and real-estate contracts, the filing said. The two are expected to have revenue of $40 billion in 2013.

The merger can be terminated if it isn't consummated by Oct. 14, with the possibility of extending that date to mid-December. If US Airways shareholders don't vote for the deal, if the bankruptcy court doesn't approve it as AMR's bankruptcy-exit plan or if antitrust regulators shoot it down, the deal wouldn't go ahead.

If AMR pursued a superior deal, it would have to pay US Airways $135 million in a breakup fee, the filing said. If AMR knowingly breached the merger terms, it would have to pay $195 million. Conversely, if US Airways accepted a better deal, it would have to pay American $55 million. In the case of a knowing breach of the agreement, US Airways would owe American $195 million. Both airlines have "no shop" agreements.

The lengthy court filing also asked for permission to set up short-term incentive plans for AMR managers so they will stay around to help with the transition work, and long-term incentive awards for senior managers that would be close to the existing plan already in place for senior US Airways employees.


Stun Guns and Grenades At Canada’s Airports

February 25, 2013. 2:40 pm • Posted by: David Pugliese

News release from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA):

OTTAWA, Feb. 25, 2013 /CNW/ – Screening officers at Canada’s major airports screened more than 51 million passengers last year, according to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA). While it’s not uncommon to see bottles of liquid larger than the permitted 100 ml or pocket knives in passengers’ carry-on bags, some other discoveries were real head-scratchers.

Not-so-lucky Charm

Lots of people travel with lucky charms. For some it’s a rabbit foot, for others a horseshoe and in the case of one Whitehorse passenger, a “lucky” knife.  An alarm at the metal detector led screening officers to search the passenger’s shoe, revealing a knife concealed in the sole. The passenger told screening officers the knife was there for good luck, which turned into bad luck when the knife was intercepted.

How many butterfly knives do you need?

A passenger at the Vancouver International Airport clearly thought 22 was the answer, which screening officers discovered when they found almost two dozen of them in his bag, along with eight brass knuckles and four fireworks. The items were confiscated by police and the passenger was arrested.

Explosive Situation

At Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, a World War II aficionado’s travel plans were halted after the x-ray identified what looked like a grenade. A subsequent search and police intervention found that the item was a replica of a World War II grenade. Not surprisingly, explosives and replicas thereof are not allowed onboard.

Not Packing Light

Screening officers in Vancouver made a surprising discovery when a passenger went through the metal detector: a six-inch hunting knife. But that’s not all. In the course of the search, they also found 30 grams of marijuana and a retractable steel baton. Police were called and the passenger was arrested.

Stunning Catch

Because you never know when you’ll next need your stun gun, a Toronto-Pearson passenger decided to bring his personal protection device in his carry-on bag. When the shape of a gun was observed at the x-ray, screening officers inspected the bag and found a prohibited stun gun. Stun guns are not only banned from aircraft but also illegal to possess under Canada’s Criminal Code.

An Alarming Money Belt

A passenger set off the alarm when he walked through the metal detector at Toronto-Pearson International Airport. Screening officers subsequently found multiple rolls of coins in the waistband of his pants. Coins are allowed in carry-on bags so hopefully the passenger realized it’s a more comfortable way to stash his cash.


California Pacific Airlines still trying to get off the ground

By Hugo Martin

February 25, 2013, 1:33 p.m.

An airline that was planned to begin flying out of Carlsbad last year is still struggling to complete federal regulations to launch operations.

California Pacific Airlines, based out of McClellan-Palomar Airport, is the brainchild of Ted Vallas, a 91-year-old businessman from Encinitas.

In the midst of airline bankruptcies and mergers, Vallas has invested more than $6 million of his own money to fulfill his dream, which he had hoped would be in operation by now. He had planned to fly to the Bay Area, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Phoenix and other short-haul destinations.

The airline filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation to prove that the company was financially fit to operate. It was scheduled to be completed in August 2012.

Federal officials said they gave California Pacific Airlines an extension until Monday, Feb. 25, to complete the process, and the airline has requested another extension, until March 10.

Tom Morrow, a spokesman for the airline, said most of the delays so far are due to discrepancies over regulations.

"I think the Wright brothers invented the airplane in less time than this," he joked.

A key to completing the process now, Morrow said, is to hire a director of operations, which he said should happen soon.

Morrow said he hopes to have the final approval completed by March 10, with the airline ready to fly passengers about six months later.


Cuyahoga County Airport (KCGF), Cleveland, Ohio: Director Kevin Delaney resigns

RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Cuyahoga County Airport Director Kevin Delaney has resigned to take another aviation job that he says is outside northeast Ohio. 

Delaney, 36, has been director since November 2006. His last day is today. 

"I am pursuing another career opportunity within the aviation industry," he said. He would not say what that was. 

The airport does not have an assistant manager, so an interim manager will need to be appointed, he said. 

Delaney said he believes he has put the facility in Richmond Heights on the right path. 

"I think I have made things better and have a fantastic relationship with the FAA as well as the state and local community," he said.

An environmental assessment to determine the feasibility of adding 400 feet to the runway while keeping the airport within its 640-acre confines began in December. 

The assessment, which is expected to take about 18 months, also will examine six alternatives that do entail expanding the airport footprint.

The runway reconstruction and other federally mandated safety improvements, estimated to cost as much as $50 million, may not occur for years, Delaney has said. 

This round of planning has stirred less controversy, unlike years ago when elected officials and residents in Richmond Heights, Highland Heights and Willoughby Hills vociferously opposed a county master plan that would have rerouted Bishop and Richmond roads as part of a 900-foot runway extension. 

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The Eastern Iowa Airport (KCID), Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Expects to Receive Less Rental Car Revenue

By George C. Ford, Reporter
Story Created: Feb 25, 2013 at 12:38 PM CST 

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - With the decline in business travel since the economic downturn that began in 2007, The Eastern Iowa Airport expects to receive 9 percent less revenue from rental car providers over the next five years.

Don Swanson, airport director of finance and administration, told the Cedar Rapids Airport Commission on Monday that four companies submitted proposals for five-year contracts with the airport. Swanson said total minimum annual guaranteed revenue will slip from the existing $1.4 million to $1.3 million.

Rental car revenue is important because the city-owned airport does not receive property tax revenue, deriving its annual income from user fees, federal and state grants, state vertical infrastructure grants, concession revenue and farm income.

Swanson said a survey of other airports seeking rental car proposals found many expecting double-digit reductions in minimum annual guaranteed revenue.

"When we received the bids for our current contracts in January 2008, it was just before the economic downturn," Swanson said. "We received really good minimum annual guarantees.

"We were expecting lower minimum guarantee proposals this time because some rental car providers have not been able to meet their existing minimum annual guarantees for the last three or four years."

Airport Director Tim Bradshaw told the commission that the car rental business in the United States has changed dramatically in the last decade. Within the last few years, Bradshaw noted that National bought Alamo, Avis merged with Budget, Thrifty hooked up with Dollar and Hertz acquired Advantage.

In 2007, Enterprise Rent-A-Car acquired the combined National/Alamo fleet, making it the largest car rental company in the nation by annual revenue ($13.5 billion), employees (70,000) and fleet (1.2 million cars and trucks). By the end of 2010, the number of major car rental companies had declined from nine to four.

Submitting proposals to the airport were Hart Leasing Inc. of Cedar Rapids, doing business as Avis and Budget; Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company – Midwest, doing business as Enterprise Rent-A-Car; Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company – Midwest, doing business as National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car, and The Hertz Corp.

The first year minimum annual revenue guarantees range from $228,435 to $398,800. The commission will hold a March 25 public hearing on the contracts, which will take effect April 1, 2013, and expire on March 31, 2018.

Swanson said if rental car traffic picks up in later years of the contracts, the airport will receive additional revenue under the terms of the agreements. The new agreements also will add the Budget brand to those already available at the airport.

Business travel accounts for about 60 percent of the passenger traffic at The Eastern Iowa Airport and leisure accounts for the remaining 40 percent. Bradshaw said passenger traffic has increased in Cedar Rapids over the last year after no-frills air carrier AirTran pulled out of the Quad City International Airport in Moline, Ill., on Nov. 30, 2011.

Bradshaw told the commission that data for the coming months should provide a more accurate reading of additional passenger traffic over and above travelers returning to Cedar Rapids following the loss of the AirTran flights. 


Muskegon County Airport (KMKG), Michigan: General aviation and cargo activity drops in 2012

Rex Vanderlinde, owner of Executive Air Transport at the Muskegon County Airport.

MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI – General aircraft operations at the Muskegon County Airport declined by 7 percent in 2012, perhaps reflecting the impact of high fuel prices and the fall of the region’s manufacturing industry on airport business.

General aviation, which encompasses all unscheduled activity at the airport, includes cargo shipment, military activity and private aircraft activity.

It’s managed by the county’s "fixed-base operator" Executive Air Transport, which also offers sales, leasing, maintenance, air freight services and flight training for Baker College. 

General aviation operations make up 95 percent of the airport’s activity, while the remaining 5 percent comes from commercial activity from SkyWest Airlines, managed by United Airlines, and now Sun Country Airlines. In January Sun Country began  charter flight service to Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort & Casino in Laughlin, Nevada.

In 2008, commercial activity made up 11.5 percent of airport activity but the loss of Midwest Airlines service to Milwaukee drove the number down in recent years. While passenger activity on commercial flights are up by 27 percent, the 7 percent decline reflects the state of the airport’s overall activity combined. 

Rex Vanderlinde, owner of Executive Air Transport since 1979, said many manufacturers like SPX Corporation no longer use its services.

“Some of those major employers aren’t here anymore, but that hasn’t stopped us. We just continue to grow,” Vanderlinde said. 

Activity among business and manufacturing companies has continued to pick up since 2010 after a brief slump in that began in 2009, Vanderlinde said. 

The year-round 24-hour operation employs 32 people and has 85 airplanes based on its field. Other activity includes Wings of Mercy flights, which provides patients free air transportation to distant medical facilities, Vanderlinde said. 

Last year local manufacturers moved 13 tons of freight, Vanderlinde said, though the 2012 operations report compiled by county airport indicated that cargo activity dropped by 53 percent

Airport Manager Marty Piette also said some companies have cut back air services due to high gas prices.

“It's not cheap to fly an airplane, so maybe some people aren't flying as much as they use to when gas was $2 a gallon,” Piette said. 

The operations report also showed a busy summer season for the military, which includes Air Force operations.

“The Coast Guard had quite an active summer season last year,” Vanderlinde said. 

Ongoing economic activity

While numbers for 2012 seemed to have taken a downward turn, Vanderlinde said he’s seen an uptick in business among private groups. 

“There’s always someone coming here for some economic activity,” Vanderlinde said.

“That’s including general aviation.” 

Rex said during the last three years, he’s seen more visitors use the airport during the warmer months, indicating that more people recognize what the Lakeshore region has to offer with its many beaches and waterfront rental homes. 

The airport continues to attract its longtime customers, including families with children enrolled in the popular Blue Lakes Fine Arts Camp, Vanderlinde said.

Vanderlinde estimated that charter passengers had increased by 5 to 9 percent. 

“The trend is upward, but it’s not up by 20 percent as we would like,” Vanderlinde said. 

Vanderlinde, who serves on Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce 2013 board of directors, said the airport has value even in spite of statistics indicating some declining activity. 

Studies show that communities without airports don’t have the growth and potential development as communities that do have these facilities, Vanderlinde said. 

The airport offers allows offers businesses to convenient access to its facilities allowing them to efficiently move personnel and products, saving time and boosting productivity, Vanderlinde said. 

Piette and Vanderlinde said that private groups include potential businesses and developers fly in and out of the county airport frequently -- many include restaurants interested in expanding businesses near The Lakes Mall.

In 2008, the local chamber surveyed 125 business representatives to learn about their airport preferences and usage. The results concluded that 61 percent preferred the Norton Shores airport as opposed to hubs in Grand Rapids, Detroit and Chicago. 

Vanderlinde ended his tenure on the county’s airport advisory board in December. The brainstorming group began two years ago so that airport managers, local citizens and elected officials could brainstorm ways to improve services and drive up business at the Norton Shores hub. 

Piette said the airport continues to improve the facility and its next project includes repaving one of its runways. 

Rillastine Wilkins, vice chairwoman of the county board and chairwoman of the commission’s transportation committee, said the county is currently working to obtain approval on contracts to improve the airport access roads.

“It is in the budget for this year,” Wilkins said. 

MARYLAND: First Two New State Police Helicopters to be Delivered Today

The first two new Maryland State Police helicopters are expected to be delivered this afternoon to Aviation Command Headquarters at Martin State Airport. The AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters have passed all required Federal Aviation inspections and certifications. They will be flown to the State Police Aviation Command and are expected to arrive between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

The new helicopters are the first of the ten contracted for with AgustaWestland to replace Maryland’s current fleet of 11 helicopters, ten of which are more than 20 years old. The new helicopters will enable the Maryland State Police Aviation Command to continue its unique multiple mission capability of medevac, search and rescue, law enforcement, and homeland security.

Two additional helicopters are expected to arrive tomorrow and another two will be delivered Wednesday. Aviation Command personnel will immediately begin extensive training on the new aircraft to familiarize themselves with the aerial and medical capabilities provided. The helicopters will be deployed to one of seven helicopter sections at a time. The first of the new aircraft is not expected to be flying actual medevacs and law enforcement missions until late spring or early summer.


When the president comes to town, small aviation companies lose money: Temporary flight restrictions place a heavy burden on small businesses

Photo Credit/Photo Courtesy:  MIKE BAUTISTA/THE REBEL YELL

Written by: Dede Anderson on February 25, 2013

Imagine walking out to your driveway to take your car to work and being met by armed law enforcement officers who tell you that because the president or some VIP is in town, you cannot use your personally-owned vehicle today. Far-fetched? Not really. In fact, this is exactly the scenario faced by pilots and aircraft owners who are supposed to be afforded the benefit of the principle of “innocent until proven guilty,” but are instead the victims of an overreaching federal policy which constitutes an unconstitutional taking of public airspace and access rights without due process of law.

A temporary flight restriction is a term that many of us are unaware of and could really care less about, but it is significant and can impact us all economically and ethically. Commercial airline operations are not impacted by this type of flight restriction, so if you are going to visit Aunt Maude in Montana, you will still be able to do so. However,  all of the general aviation operators in your area will feel the very real economic impact of this decree, including those of us in Las Vegas. Whenever the president comes to town, general aviation in our area is brought to a standstill.

Think about it: Flight instructors, student pilots, hot air balloon pilots, pilots who are out flying to stay sharp and current in their aircraft, mechanics bringing small airplanes back to service by flying them around the airport, tourists on holiday trying to take a ride in a hot air balloon or other small aircraft, local people who have to commute by air in a small aircraft to work out of state; all of these folks will be grounded during the president’s stay in our city. How many airports will it affect? Because we are in a valley here, with all our airports within twenty nautical miles of each other, it will affect all of them. Has it always been this way? The answer is a resounding “No.”

Read more here:

Smolensk plane wreckage should not be tourist attraction, says culture minister

Culture minister Bogdan Zdrojewski has said that the plane wreckage of the 2010 Smolensk air disaster should not be a tourist attraction on its eventual return to Poland.

“That would be something inappropriate,” Zdrojewski told Polish Radio on Monday.
Zdrojewski noted that relatives of the victims of the plane crash were themselves divided as to where the ultimate home of the wreckage should be.

The minister revealed that some feel that it should be exhibited in a public space “as a dramatic reminder” of the tragedy, yet all agree that the wreck itself should not be touchable.

No change in Moscow

Meanwhile, a delegation of Polish MPs and senators was unable to secure any definite deadline by which the Tupolev 154 plane wreckage should be returned to Poland, during a meeting held in Moscow on Monday morning.

“We raised the question of the necessity to return the wreck of the Tupolev as soon as possible... as well as the return of the black boxes,” said senator and former defence minister Bogdan Klich, speaking to Polish Radio after talks with Russia's deputy minister of foreign affairs, Vladimir Titov.

“The reply was: 'Of course they will be returned, but only when it is possible, that is after the investigation is over,” Klich said.

Klich, who resigned from his post as defence minister as a result of the Smolensk disaster, added that “this is a very serious problem in Polish-Russian relations.”

Last December, Poland's foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski asked EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton for assistance in retrieving the wreckage, claiming that the remains were not essential for the Russian investigation. However, the move did not alter Moscow's standpoint.

All 96 Poles on board the Tupolev 154 died in the 10 April 2010 crash, when President Lech Kaczynski's delegation flew to Smolensk to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the WWII Katyn massacre. 

Monroe County (KMNV), Madisonville, Tennessee: Airport operator indicted for attempted murder

Published: 8:33 AM, 02/25/2013
Author: Michael Thomason
Source: The Monroe County Advocate

MADISONVILLE-Grand jury proceedings are kept secret, but something presented in the case of Larry Hamilton prompted the jury to upgrade a charge against him from aggravated assault to an indictment of attempted second-degree murder.

It was the day before Halloween last year when Tellico Plains Officer Brian Millsaps said he went to Mecca Pike and was told by Travis Hamilton that his uncle, Larry Hamilton, had tried to shoot him several times with a handgun.

Millsaps said he ordered Larry Hamilton on the ground and found a small .25 caliber handgun in Hamilton's right jacket pocket. Millsaps said the gun had the safety off and there was one bullet in the chamber and three more in the magazine.

Travis Hamilton told Millsaps that the other Hamilton had waited for him to return on his tractor. Hamilton said he got off the tractor after Larry Hamilton threw coffee on him. Larry Hamilton said he had an "equalizer" and pulled the gun.

Punta Gorda Airport (KPGD), Florida: Hertz manager arrested for stealing gun left in rental car

Posted: Feb 25, 2013 12:06 PM EST 

PUNTA GORDA, FL - Charlotte County deputies arrested the Punta Gorda Airport manager of Hertz Rent-a-Car for stealing a handgun accidently left inside a rental car by a customer.

Douglas John Orr, 32 of Port Charlotte was arrested and charged with Grand Theft of a Firearm.

Deputies received a call Saturday from a Punta Gorda resident who rented a car from Hertz at the airport to drive to Georgia.

He said he went to pick up belongings from his deceased father that included a 1911 Springfield Armory .45 caliber firearm with a loaded magazine.

He told the deputy he went to the airport and talked to a Hertz clerk who said they did not find a firearm but took him to the car he rented, searched and found nothing.

The clerk called manager Orr, who said he located the weapon and turned it in to the sheriff's office.

The victim called the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office and talked to a deputy who checked and said there was no report of a handgun being turned in.

The victim went back to Hertz and talked to Orr about the gun again.

Orr told him he found the gun in his rental car, put it in a plastic bag and turned it in at the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office front office.

The victim then called a Charlotte County sergeant who said she would investigate further and call him back.

The sergeant contacted Orr who said he placed the gun in a white plastic bag with a sticky note to it with the information and dropped it off at the sheriff's office administration building front door.

A check again could not locate the missing gun. The CCSO office is located across the street from the airport and is closed on the weekends.

The sergeant contacted Orr again who was very adamant that he did not have the weapon and said he was getting upset about the type of questioning.

Orr was asked to meet with deputies and when he arrived, he said he had something to tell the deputies.

He said he was disappointed in himself and wanted to retract his comments made on the phone earlier.

Orr stated the gun and holster were in the trunk of his car but he threw away the ammunition.

Deputies returned the gun to the owner and Orr was arrested and taken to the Charlotte County Jail; he posted a $2,500 bond and was released.

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Bagby airfield near Thirsk agrees to act as Tour de France helicopter base

4:42pm Monday 25th February 2013
By Stuart Minting

 An airfield which is battling for its future has been approached to serve as a helicopter base during the Tour de France’s visit to Yorkshire next year.

The management of Bagby Airfield, near Thirsk, have been asked by a firm working for race organizers ASO if they can accommodate and act as a refueling point for some of the eight helicopters which will hover over the race at any one time.

The grass airfield, which in May will be the subject of a third public inquiry in two years over its use, has been the focus of a concerted six-year campaign by some residents of the surrounding villages over noise and developments.

If a planning inspector upholds Hambleton District Council’s enforcement actions over the airfield’s helicopter fuel facility and number of flights, the airfield’s operators say they would use a jet fuel trailer for refueling for next July's race.

The airfield has been described by race organizers as being in a good location to aid aerial television coverage of the opening two stages of the race, which will include the Yorkshire Dales, Ripon Harrogate and York.

It is understood the helicopters which will be used to beam live images of the race to an estimated TV audience of 3.5bn people, will need to refuel after being in the air for three hours.

Airfield manager Steve Hoyle said there was nowhere between Breighton, near Selby and Durham Tees Valley Airport where helicopters could refuel and it would be difficult for the Tour de France helicopters to use Leeds-Bradford International Airport.

He said he had agreed in principle to the airfield being used for about four days, that noise would be kept to a minimum and there would be no early morning or late-night flights.

He said: “This is a fantastic endorsement of what is a strategically vital airfield for several services such as Network Rail and the National Grid, who need to be able to fly alongside pylons or over lengthy stretches of track to assess damage.”

When the Tour’s route was revealed last month, Neville Huxtable, the leader of Hambleton District Council said he was "bitterly disappointed the world's greatest cycling race would not pass through Hambleton".

Councillors yesterday declined to comment about the plan ahead of the public inquiry.

Action 4 Refusal campaigner Stephen Hornsby said he did not believe Bagby would be a suitable base for the race’s helicopters and the Tour de France would be used as propaganda for the airfield. 


TV doc cameraman, director John Driftmier dies at 30: Credits include Dangerous Flights, Licence to Drill, Ice Pilots NWT

Canadian TV director and cameraman John Driftmier, known for shooting TV documentary shows in extreme conditions — from the frigid Arctic in winter to sweltering jungles in tropical hotspots — has died at the age of 30.

He died in Kenya on Sunday after his small plane crashed during a morning location shoot, Montreal production company Pixcom announced. The crash also killed the pilot of the craft.

Calgary-born, Ottawa-based Driftmier had been shooting footage for the Discovery Canada doc series Dangerous Flights, which follows ferry pilots responsible for delivering small, private planes to customers around the globe.

"The thing that's the hardest for me is: I didn't see him as a son-in-law. I saw him as a son and a very valuable member of the family," Les Allen, Driftmier's father-in-law, told CBC News from the filmmaker's Ottawa home on Monday.

"He's touched people all over the world," Allen added. "That's the tragedy of it all. His career was just on an upward curve. He had irons in the fire."

Driftmier had been slated to return on Monday, after having completed a three-week shoot for the second season of Dangerous Flights.

"John was a director of exceptional talent and a wonderful cameraman. He was a friend to all. He will be greatly missed," Pixcom CEO Jacquelin Bouchard said in a statement.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends."

In addition to travelling to more than 30 countries for Dangerous Flights, Driftmier had also shot other Discovery Channel shows such as Highway Thru Hell and License to Drill. He also filmed two seasons of History Television's Ice Pilots NWT. His directing credits include shows like Monster Moves, All For Nothing and Heavy Haulers.

"This is a day of great sadness for us all. The Canadian production community lost a brilliant boy who had the promise of a great future. His many talents will be missed," Paul Lewis, president of Discovery Canada, said in a statement.

"We offer our deepest sympathies to his wife, his parents, his friends and co-workers."

Funeral services are being planned for Vancouver (the former Simon Fraser University film student started his career in B.C.), Calgary and Ottawa.

Man makes romantic fake airline bomb threat to get his girlfriend back

An airliner bound for Shenzhen made an emergency landing mid-flight last Thursday after a man called in a fake bomb threat in order to keep his girlfriend from leaving on board, the Shanghai Daily reports.

The caller, identified by the surname Chen, 32, gave himself up to Anhui police at 2:50am and admitted he didn't want his girlfriend to go after they quarreled on Wednesday and the woman got on the flight, the airport police said. 
Hoax calls have become more frequent this year with more than 10 affecting domestic carriers.
A Shandong Airlines flight SC1170 from Guangzhou to Jinan was diverted in the Hefei Airport after receiving a threatening call on February 8 that proved to be false.  
A 28 year old woman was sentenced to three years in prison last month after claiming she had a bomb on board a China United Airlines flight to Urumqi on October 13, 2012.  Only two days later, a man said to be mentally ill called in two bomb threats on flights traveling to Lhasa and Nanchang.


Nebraska legislators debate buying airplane from University of Nebraska Foundation

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013 12:30 am

By Cristina Woodworth 

Nebraska legislators are considering purchasing an 11-passenger twin turboprop aircraft currently owned by the University of Nebraska Foundation.

The state is already in a $10,000-a-month lease-purchase agreement with the foundation, which ends on June 30, meaning the state must decide whether to buy the plane or let it go by that time.

The Legislature is looking into purchasing the plane for more than $2.16 million, according to Andre Aman, legal counsel for the Nebraska Department of Aeronautics.

“The Legislature will make the decision whether or not to purchase the aircraft,” Aman said. “That question is currently before the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee.”

Aman said the aircraft is available for use in all branches of state government. It’s used to transport the governor and other state officials when needed.

The NU Foundation originally purchased the King Air B200 in 2001 to reach the foundation’s donors, according to foundation spokesperson Dorothy Endacott. The initial price of the plane has not been made public.

“Our fundraisers work in the foundation’s offices in Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney, but our alumni and donors live all over the country,” Endacott said. “By far, the most common mode of transportation used by our fundraisers to visit donors is commercial aircraft and automobile. Use of private aircraft comes in a very distant third place.”

Endacott said discussions to sell the aircraft began after the foundation came under the leadership of interim CEO John Gottschalk in February 2012. Brian Hastings was named CEO later that year.

“The primary factor was the internal discussion on whether selling (the plane) would have any impact on our fundraising ability and the conclusion was that it would not,” Endacott said. “The trigger that began that discussion was having a new CEO named on Feb. 1. When he came, he initiated a review of various operational items and the aircraft use was one of those items.”

The NU Foundation’s decision in June 2012 to sell the plane also came shortly after the Associated Press published a May 2012 article about the more than $80,000 used for private flights in 2011 when the foundation could have used less-expensive modes of transportation like driving or commercial flights.

The AP article said the private plane traveled 16,108 miles in 2011, which included trips to Chicago, Dallas and Des Moines.

Endacott said the AP article and the foundation’s decision to sell the plane were unrelated.

“The AP story was not a factor,” she said.

Ronnie Mitchell, state Department of Aeronautics director, could not be reached for comment but met with the Appropriations Committee earlier this month to discuss the plane, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

Mitchell said that the state would look to sell its own eight-seat Piper Cheyenne plane if allowed to purchase the foundation plane, according to the Journal Star. That plane could sell for $500,000 to $600,000.

Although there are high costs associated with purchasing and maintaining an aircraft, Mitchell told the committee that travel time for state officials is also a factor, according to the Journal Star. Having a private aircraft to use is often more convenient and practical than driving from Lincoln to the state’s panhandle, he said.

“(The plane is) a time machine in some respects,” Mitchell told the committee.


Piper PA-24 Comanche, N7000P: Event to memorialize Patsy Cline plane crash - Accident occurred March 05,1963 in Camden, Benton County, Tennessee

A newspaper clipping from the era. From

CAMDEN, Tenn. (AP) - A 3-day event in Camden featuring concerts, speakers and a vigil will mark the 50th anniversary of the plane crash that killed country music star Patsy Cline and three others. 

The Benton County/Camden County Chamber of Commerce is holding the event starting on Thursday, and running through Saturday to honor the memory and musical legacies of Cline, Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Randy Hughes. All four were killed in 1963 when their Nashville-bound plane crashed in Camden.

The commemoration will feature Grand Ole Opry stars Bill Anderson and Jan Howard, country group The Grascals and singer Mandy Barnett.

19 Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) planes grounded

ISLAMABAD: Nearly half of the PIA fleet has been grounded because of poor maintenance of its old and outdated aircraft.

“The Pakistan International Airlines is facing grounding of highest ever number of 19 planes in its history,” a source told Dawn on Sunday.

Two PIA aircraft have been grounded after emergency landings in Leeds, UK, and Muscat recently.

But the PIA management termed the grounding of planes a ‘routine’ process of maintenance and repair. Its spokesman Mashhood Tajwar confirmed that 19 aircraft were not operational at present, but said they had not been grounded. “We have to differentiate between grounding of planes and their routine maintenance work,” he said.

The spokesman claimed that only five aircraft were not airworthy. He, however, agreed that several planes were old and needed extraordinary maintenance and repair work.

“Sometimes repair work requires many days and as a result planes cannot fly,” he said. According to sources in the PIA, the department of procurement and purchase was responsible for the delay in maintenance of aircraft because it has been working with three main posts lying vacant for a couple of months.

They said officiating director Omar Razzaq, who is said to be a political appointee, was the only man looking after the affairs of procurement because the posts of general manager purchase technical and logistic, deputy general manager purchase technical and commercial technical and manager purchase and technical had been vacant for some time.

“As three main posts are lying vacant in the procurement department, the purchase of spare parts has been delayed,” the sources said.

The PIA’s information technology department is also said to be working without a director.

The sources said poor marketing had affected PIA’s Umrah season. The national airline “conducts Umrah operation with 50 to 60 flights every year, but this year other airlines provided service to Pakistani pilgrims because PIA’s marketing department failed to talk to Saudi authorities”.

Last year, President Asif Ali Zardari had taken notice of emergency landings by PIA aircraft.

The presidency’s spokesman said: “The president has expressed deep concern and dismay over recurring reports of emergency landings of the national carrier, mostly due to ‘technical reasons’ and said that the first and foremost responsibility of managers of any airline is to ensure that the fleet is in perfect condition to ensure safety of passengers.”

The Agusta helicopter that the BJP's Vasundhara Raje bought sits in a hangar

Edited by Shamik Ghosh | Updated: February 25, 2013 13:52 IST

Jaipur: As a controversy rages over the Rs. 4000-crore VVIP helicopter deal, the first Agusta Westland chopper to land in India sits grounded in a Rajasthan hangar and the ruling Congress proposes to investigate why it was at all bought for a not insignificant Rs. 20 crore.

The helicopter was grounded after it crashed with chief minister Ashok Gehlot  on board in November 2011; the cap of its rotating blade flew off. Since then, the helicopter has been parked in a hangar while the Rajasthan government tries to sell it.

The Congress points out that it was the BJP's Vasundhara Raje who had bought the helicopter when she was CM in 2004. "It can't fly in the desert. It couldn't weather a desert storm. Did the BJP government buy it to park it in a hangar?" said Congress spokesperson in Rajasthan, Archana Singh said.

In 2009, the government's auditor or CAG had accused the state government of wasting Rs. 1.14 crore of public money to hastily buy the chopper, which then remained unused for five months as they didn't have a pilot who could fly it.

It also pulled up the government for training an aircraft maintenance engineer abroad and then not appointing him, giving the maintenance contract to an Agusta service centre instead.
AgustaWestland is now accused of having paid bribes in India to land a multi-crore contract with the Central government to supply 12 helicopters for the use of dignitaries and the BJP has gone for the UPA government's jugular on the issue.

The Rajasthan BJP says the helicopter purchase in the state had made sense because they got a good deal. When the Rajasthan government bought the Agusta helicopter we opened a global tender and bought for 12 % less; it was a clear and open deal," BJP leader Rajendra Rathore explained.

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Airplanes With Sharks' Skin? It May Cut Fuel Burn

By Drake Bennett on February 25, 2013 

 Aside from connoisseurs of high-end cowboy boots, most people don’t have much skin from sharks in their lives (as opposed to that well-known worsted fabric called sharkskin). In a few years that may change. Airbus and the German airline Lufthansa, working together, are testing a shark-skin coating for their airplanes. It’s not actual shark skin, but a synthetic replica, and it’s part of the continual effort to reduce airlines’ mammoth fuel bills.
We’re used to thinking of aerodynamics as a matter of sleekness, but a shark’s skin suggests that the right kind of roughness is actually better. Sharks may be all clean lines and curves from afar, but their skin is composed of jagged scales covered with longitudinal ridges. Those tiny ridges are a big part of why sharks can so easily slice through the water.

Experiments suggest that the ridges cut down on the friction between the shark and the water, channeling the water and even speeding it along as it moves over the skin and preventing eddies, which contribute to drag. Hoping to capitalize on this quality, boat hull designers and swimsuit makers have incorporated shark-skin structures into their products, although the swimsuits have some skeptics.

The principle doesn’t work only for water, though. Lufthansa (LHA) estimates that the synthetic shark-skin coating they’re experimenting with could cut its fuel use by 1 percent. That doesn’t sound like much, but at Lufthansa’s burn rate, that’s 90,000 tons of jet fuel a year—some $94 million at current prices. The shark-skin “riblets,” as they’re called, are made by pressing a stamp into a layer of fresh paint.

According to Georg Fanta, the director of airplane painting at Lufthansa, the riblets are 50 to 60 microns wide, and 20 to 30 deep. He compares them to “grooves on an old record.” The experiment, which started in 2011 and is scheduled to run through the summer, is actually a test of the durability of the coating—two of the airline’s planes have several patches of it on their fuselage and wings.

“We just want to know if you expose it to de-icing liquids, expose it to dust, what happens to it,” says Fanta. If the results are good, he adds, the next step will be to figure out how to cover entire planes economically with shark-skin riblets. “We are just starting to think about that,” he says.

Bennett is a staff writer for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York. 


MP thumbs up to business airport

 Showing MP Iain Stewart, left around the upgraded 2,400m jet hangar facilities and reception area at Cranfield Airport was director, Jason Ivey 

Published on Monday 25 February 2013 08:00 

A Milton Keynes MP visited Cranfield Airport to see how business is taking off.

Cranfield was one of the UK’s designated airports during the 2012 Olympic Games and saw an increase in small business aircraft during the period.

Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart, who sits on the Transport Select Committee wanted to hear more about the airport’s plans for the future.

Mr Stewart, pictured left, was shown around the airport’s upgraded hangar and reception area by airport director, Jason Ivey.

Mr Ivey said: “Due to our close location to both London and Milton Keynes, Cranfield Airport is ideally situated to appeal to the business jet customer.”

Mr Stewart said: “With the current demand for airspace and airport development in the South East of England utilising an already established site such as Cranfield will help contribute to local and international business going forward.”

The airport supports the economy by welcoming air passengers heading for Silverstone – a 12-minute transfer away–- during the British Grand Prix.

Story and Photo:

Towards a Sustainable Aviation Industry in Ghana

Columnist: Adjekum, Daniel Kwasi

Monday, 25 February 2013

Daniel Kwasi Adjekum is a retired Ghana Air Force Pilot/Aviation Safety Officer, former airline pilot and post –graduate student in Aviation at the University Of North Dakota School Of Aerospace. Grand Forks. North Dakota .USA.

The recent revelation by the Minister-Designate for the Ministry of Transport, Dzifa Ativor, at her vetting before parliament, that there are plans to establish a national airline as a result of Ghana’s growing economy brings to fore another attempt by governments to wade into “shark infested waters” of the aviation industry. Ghana Airways, the only national carrier as at 2002, was stopped from operation after it was engulfed with huge debt due to poor management and other related factors. Ghana International Airlines (GIA), which was formed out of the defunct Ghana Airways, was supposed to revive the once glorious national airline and place it on the world map of aviation as the star of Africa in the air.GIA, unfortunately was haunted by the ghost of Ghana Airways and could not survive the malady that sent it’s predecessor into the grave of insolvency..The operations of both defunct airlines faced several challenges, including bad management practices, massive governmental interference and open handed corruption. Will the proposed new carrier be the proverbial “phoenix rising out of the ashes?

The new proponents of the national carrier are making their case through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiative. In an evolving and very dynamic world of aviation, the challenges faced by airlines is one that requires a lot of bold and prudent strategic management focused on cost –cutting and efficiency to achieve maximum gains. In an industry where profits are a delicacy and losses tend to be the order of the day, every ounce of management acumen and intellect is dedicated to finding areas where losses can be minimized, without compromising regulatory requirements and safety standards. The core aim of any private sector investor is to make profit and would do an analytical assessment of the return on investment (ROI), before committing to any venture. Aviation business itself is very capital intensive and airline products like seats are cannot be filled or exchanged once an aircraft is airborne. Unlike products that are on a shelf of a supermarket or on display at a dealership, the entire product is lumped together as one composite unit in the form of seats and cargo-hold in an aircraft, and if they are not filled for a particular flight, the revenue to be accrued from those seats and cargo are lost. Revenue generation in airlines therefore is both a science and an art, which requires a lot of understanding of the economics of yield management and traffic/load factor.

Competition from Established Global Carriers

Local carriers like a new Ghana Airways will be flexing muscles and will have to withstand growing competitive pressure from bigger international airlines like Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and Air France, which are encroaching on the African continent with big planes and low fares. In 2012 alone, Qatar added five African destinations to its network, while Air France created a new subsidiary airline in Côte d'Ivoire to cement its near-monopoly throughout Francophone Africa. These global behemoths enjoy significant economies of scale: they are big enough to hedge effectively against escalating fuel costs. They also have the goodwill to secure enormous discounts from aircraft manufacturers when bulk-buying new planes. Last January, nine African airlines responded by pooling their fuel purchasing in an effort to secure lower prices, but more dramatic initiatives are required if our proposed national carrier, which might not boast of more than a dozen fleet, is to compete on equal terms with groups like Air France which, together with partner KLM, operates 369 (Enonomist,2012).

Consolidations and Mergers

In a world of consolidations and mergers, which has worked in Europe, there are the Lufthansa Group, Air France-KLM and IAG (the holding company of British Airways and Iberia) dominance. This consolidations and mergers create great synergies for these giants and their tentacles have a detrimental suffocating effect on some smaller carriers. They effectively have a big impact on fare pricing and this leads to some smaller airlines, undercutting each other and driving down fares. In Africa, though, competition is scarce, and on many routes there is only one operator, creating another national airline, with state resources and state management will not be the most prudent business venture. Already Africa has on a per-kilometre basis, are the highest air fares in the world (Economist, 2012). The idea of mergers and consolidation is still at an infant stage and would require a lot of political and economic will to ensure trust and equity among the parties in any merger. Are we ready to consolidate the new airline or better still merge with other airlines? These are some of the issues that we have to consider.

Yamoussoukro Accord.

The Yamoussoukro accord of 1999,had governments from 44 African countries sign a treaty to work towards a so-called “open sky”, under which an airline based in any African country would be allowed to operate to, from or between any combination of cities in any other African country. Thirteen years later, many governments, particularly those in eastern and southern Africa, are still dragging their heels, seeking to shield their own national carriers from competitors based in adjacent countries. The subsequent delay has been detrimental to the growth of airlines in Africa. Most African airlines are dependent predominantly on local patronage, which is limited. Airlines in smaller African countries have either collapsed or consumed vast amounts of government cash that could have been better spent on more urgent projects and infrastructure improvement.

Air Nigeria, which was supposed to model of efficiency and safety in airline management in Africa, became complacent and allowed costs to spiral as fares soared. Sheltered from competition, they have had little incentive to invest in, for instance, modern aircraft, secure ticket distribution or brand development. Worse, protectionism has constrained the growth of their route networks and kept them artificially small. So when giant European and Gulf competitors move in usually with frequent scheduling and brand new aircraft, even big African players like Kenya Airways, South Africa Airways and Ethiopia feel the heat of the competition. Some proponents have asserted that Open skies would transform African aviation for the better. Start-up airlines would emerge to challenge complacent incumbents. The launch of Fastjet, a Tanzanian low-cost carrier, has already prompted Kenya Airways to plan its own low-cost subsidiary, JamboJet (Economist, 2012). A proliferation of operators would kick-start a process of creative destruction from which only the fittest and most competitive airlines would emerge. It would be the survivors of this cut-throat process of sharks in blood infested water.

Strategic Aviation Policy

Another area that is of much concern is in the area of a comprehensive aviation policy for Ghana. What is our overall strategic policy on aviation for the next ten to twenty years? Do we have a laid out plan to develop the needed infrastructure and human resources required to implement these policies? In recent times, we have seen the proliferation of locally owned start-up airlines in Ghana, but a lot of their growth has been stunted by both political and economic challenges. Start-up airlines require huge capitals and normally because of the volatility of the aviation industry and it’s penchant for failures, most financial institutions and banks would clearly stay away from those “waters”. It requires a colossal amount of money and resources to get the needed aircraft with all the operational, administrative and technical support to even start the process of application for an air carrier License (ACL) and air operators certificate (AOC) from the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, which is mandated to ensure regulatory oversight of civil aviation in Ghana.Some experts have called for full liberalization of the aviation sector in Ghana. They have called on governments to prop up weak local operators, a policy already being implemented in Nigeria, where authorities hope to subsidies aircraft purchases as part of an ill-advised lending scheme. I strongly have this nagging fear that a total free-for-all would leave indigenous carriers at the mercy of the European and Gulf giants. The irony is that even in Europe, aviation rules dictate that airlines must be majority-owned by Europeans. Strict ownership controls in Ghana would prevent foreign groups from establishing their own Ghanaian subsidiaries and exporting all the profits to the detriment of the indigenes.

Human Resources and Training

With the projected boom for aviation in Ghana, due to an economy the has been projected to grow progressively and the much touted infusion of capital from the oil production, there is the need to ensure that well trained and competent Human Resources are available to manage our aviation infrastructure. Presently in Ghana, there are only few aviation related courses in the business and technology at our educational institutions. There is a fledgling aerospace engineering course at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. The course should be tailored to be real world and churn out graduates with a practical and contemporary outlook on the industry. I find it surprising that the University of Ghana Business School has not fashioned out courses in aviation management and business administration with majors in aviation as done in places like the USA and Europe. Our polytechnics which are supposed to bridge the manpower gap at the intermediate level also does not have courses in aviation and it is only the Ghana Airforce,that has a training facility to churn out aircraft technicians and mechanics. Pilot training has been a “foreign affair” in Ghana as prospective pilots have to spend between 80,000 -120,000 US dollars to train as commercial pilots, with the requisite certifications and qualifications to be even considered for entry level positions in the airlines. I know there are some local training facilities like CTK Aviation which aims at giving prospective pilots at least their private pilot certification before they seek further training outside Ghana. The sorry state of the Afienya Flying facility and aircraft of the defunct Sankofa Aero Club which was supposed to spearhead pilot training in Ghana is glaring for all to see. The great exodus of very qualified and competent Ghanaian pilots and aviation professionals all over the world bears testimony of the enormity of the problem.

In the midst of all these plethora of issues, there is hope and the following recommendations will hopefully gear up our aviation industry.

1. I am one of the opponents of any form of government participation in the airline business, and I still stand by it. I think rather the government should provide the needed policy framework, which will create a conducive environment for partnership between private Ghanaians and foreign entities to invest in the sector. Government should only be a regulator, to ensure that there is an even playing field and the costumer gets excellent aviation services.

2. Government can also free up the Ghana Airport Company Limited and Ghana Civil Aviation Authority to have some high level of autonomy to generate funds, which will help to maintain and improve existing aviation infrastructure and services.

3. In the more capital intensive areas of airport infrastructure and aviation ground services and handling, the concept of build operate transfer ( BOT) can be considered on fair and favorable terms, which will ensure equitable returns for both the investors and the government.

4. There should be a comprehensive aviation education policy to streamline all human resource training and infrastructure. This will ensure that as a nation, we would have the needed manpower to manage our aviation assets. The polytechnics like Accra and Takoradi Polytechnic can have courses in aviation maintenance technology, leading to certification as aircraft maintenance technicians and technologist. The KNUST aerospace engineering curricula should be streamlined to reflect more current and practical trends in the world of aerospace.

5. The University of Ghana can have a maiden aviation department under the School of Business, which will churn out Business graduates with majors in aviation and at least a private pilot certification issued by the GCAA.The University can liaise with the Ghana Air force to convert the Afienya Flying Club into its Flight Operations Centre. This business model will see business undergraduates and graduates who will have both operational and technical knowledge in aviation. It will also provide the needed employment for faculty of aviation lecturers, flight instructors, dispatch, maintenance personnel and air traffic controllers. Eventually Ghana can be the torch bearer in aviation training, by creating the Regional Aviation University (RAU) modelled after the Regional Maritime University at Nungua Ghana. This University will train aviation and aerospace professionals from West Africa and eventually Africa and world wide.

6. We need to ensure that the frame work for aviation ensures a balance between safety regulation and economic regulation. The establishment of a separate aviation safety board ( ASB),which will be tasked with aviation safety/accident investigations and research into operational improvement and enhancement will ensure conformity with International Civil Aviation Organization ( ICAO) requirement ( Annex 13) for an independent accident investigation body. Presently the Transport Ministry has a loose section that is hastily assembled to investigate aviation accidents. Nigeria our neighbors are ahead of us with the establishment of the Aircraft Accidents Investigation Bureau (AAIB). I will propose a Ghana Aviation Safety Board which will take a leading role in accident/incident investigations and will have the mandate and powers to make recommendations for improvements to aviation safety. It will also spearhead research into aviation safety and serve as a think-tank to advise the Ministry of Transport on the safety implications and ramifications of any aviation related project in Ghana.

Over all the future of aviation in Ghana is bright and with the needed political will, financial commitment and right policy frame work, backed by resourced human capacity, we shall earn our spot as the aviation gateway of West Africa and eventually the destination and hub for many airlines.

Air Force should leave station Cape

Feb. 22, 2013 9:19 AM

Letter: Air Force should leave station Cape

Regarding the article “Space Coast pushes for new commercial launch complex.”

Oh really now?

The proposed launch site is on 150 acres between the Brevard and Volusia County lines.

“It would be absolutely amazing to see more rockets launch, more fire and smoke on the Space Coast," said Robert Salonen, with the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. The idea is to build two 75-acre launch complexes, catering to commercial space companies like SpaceX and others.

Now get this. The EDC goes on to say that “SpaceX is already launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, but the project could benefit the company by allowing better access to the pad, without having to go through the government-run and more restrictive Air Force Station.”

Government-run, restrictive Air Force Station?

Why is the Cape still an Air Force Station? There are no longer clandestine operations ongoing at the site. In fact, all military satellites now launched from CCAFS are bought and launched using civilian rockets through commercial contracts.

If you truly want to entice commercial launches from the Space Coast, then get the Air Force off of the launch site. Don’t waste money building new launch pads; just make it easier to access existing launch facilities by eliminating military intervention.