Saturday, March 16, 2013

Blue Angels Jet Makes Fort Worth Home

Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 Fort Worth Reporter 
F-A 18 Hornet that flew as part of the Blue Angels will be display at the Veterans Memorial Air Park in Fort Worth.

For years, the US Navy Blue Angels dazzled crowds at North Texas air shows. Now, one of those planes will be on display in Fort Worth. 

 The F-A 18 Hornet is on loan to the Veterans Memorial Air Park in Fort Worth from the National Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.

On Saturday, a tractor trailer carried the jet on a flatbed from Louisiana to Fort Worth. It arrived at the museum after a short journey down North Main Street from Loop 820.

"When I heard about it, I said I have got to come down here today and see it," said Fort Worth resident Eric Bartoletti. "It's impressive."

Organizers at the Air Park never thought about trying to acquire a Blue Angels jet, but when the deal to bring another aircraft fell through, the museum in Pensacola offered up the aircraft.

"It's exciting to have this airplane here," said Jim Hodgson, Executive Director of the Veterans Memorial Air Park. "It's really going to put us on the map a little bit more. We've been here for four years.. most people don't even know about us."

Six volunteers spent last week taking the wings off the jet for transport. It may take some time to re-attach the wings.

The jet should be on display for the public to see it the next 3-4 weeks. It is the museum's responsibility to maintain the jet and keep it looking up to the US Navy and the Blue Angels standards.

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Job market: Entry of AirAsia, Etihad offers fresh cheer for unemployed pilots, cabin crews

Rohit Verma is one of some 4,000 unemployed pilots who fancy a turnaround in their fortunes with the impending entry of AirAsia.

Three years ago, Rohit Verma got a pilot's license and a type rating that allows him to fly Airbus 320 aircraft after spending Rs 33 lakh. The 20-something pilot is still waiting for his first job. 

 Verma is one among an estimated 4,000 unemployed pilots who now see a glimmer of hope with the proposed entry of Malaysian carrier AirAsia, an impending joint venture between Gulf carrier Etihad and Jet Airways as well as plans of other airlines to add aircraft.

"My hopes are very high with AirAsia coming to India; I also think my chances are better since I am type rated on the A320, the aircraft this airline uses. I have more flying hours to my name than many other unemployed pilots who are merely holders of commercial pilot licenses (CPLs)," says Verma.

Verma has a family business to bank on in these tough times; he is luckier than many of the other 4,000-odd who have financed their licences with big loans and had little choice but to shift to other professions — call centres is one popular option — to repay installments as high as Rs 40,000 per month.

Padmanabh is another aspiring pilot who considers himself luckier than the rest of his peers thanks to a diploma in mechanical engineering that he holds. "The educational requirement for becoming a pilot is just to pass Std XII. So many such guys have no other skills or a backup. My license is under process and I hope to be employed by middle or end of this year," says Padmanabh.

Ready to Fly

According to the aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), there are 11,200 CPL-holders in the country, of which a major chunk is unemployed. Although at one time there was an acute shortage of trained commanders, which prompted domestic airlines to hire expat pilots in droves, their number has halved to a little over 300 over the past couple of years.


Veteran seeks marker for Allen County, Ohio, plane crashes

LAFAYETTE — Flying in formation through snow and sleet, four pilots crashed their planes within seconds of each other into Jackson Township fields.

That was March 18, 1942. Fewer and fewer Allen County residents remember the tragic event. Lafayette resident and Navy veteran Bill Kimmel wants to make sure the plane crashes, and the men who were killed in service to their country, are not forgotten.

Monday marks the 71st anniversary of the crashes. Kimmel and his daughter, Lafayette Councilwoman Jennifer Palmer, are hoping to raise public awareness about them and drum up support for a historical marker near the crash sites.

“I’ve always thought about these poor guys who died. Their job was just as important as other pilots who flew in World War II,” Kimmel said. “They were doing a job that had to be done and they gave their lives for it. They deserve recognition, a permanent marker.”

Newspaper reports from the time detailed a “blinding storm of snow and sleet” was responsible for the crashes that happened at about 11:30 a.m. near McClure and Cool roads. Four pilots, all second lieutenants — Edward H. Sanders, 26, of Lake Village, Ark., Arnel J. Kennedy, 26, of Oklahoma City, Eugene H. Anderson, 23, of Kewanee, Ill., and Earl H. Housern, 23, of Pesotumn, Ill., were each flying a P-39 Aircobra for the Army Air Forces from Detroit to Dayton.

Two of the four planes crashed on the Lutz farm less than two miles from Lafayette; one plane was partially buried on the Hefner farm west of the Lutz farm and the fourth plane crashed and burned on the Blickenstaff farm, about a mile south of the Lutz farm. Witnesses reported hearing the planes go overhead then explosions and flashes as gasoline ignited.

Little is known about the mission or cause of the accident. The pilots were ferrying the new planes to then-Patterson Field in Dayton. The planes, made by Bell Aircraft Corp. in Buffalo, N.Y., were said to be the Army’s fastest. The Army believed ice and sleet forming on the planes contributed to the crash.

“No one seems to know much about it any more,” Kimmel said. “Some of this land is developed, but a lot of it is still farmland.”

Also this year, the names of the men will be added to the veterans memorial in Lafayette, Kimmel said. But he is working with the Jackson Township trustees to develop a marker near the sites.

“I just feel we should recognize these men,” said Kimmel, 90, a Navy veteran. “These were veterans who gave their lives. You know I spent three years in World War II, in the South Pacific. I just have a deep feeling for them.”


Lake Murray State Park (1F1), Overbrook, Oklahoma: Commission votes to close airport

The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission voted to begin the process of closing Lake Murray Airport during its meeting Thursday morning.

Victor Bird, OAC Director, said the commission voted to move forward with closing the airport but there are a number of hurdles to be cleared before it can take place. The airport, which is owned by Oklahoma State Parks and Recreation, has a contract with the Federal Aviation Administration that will not expire until 2017. The contract was entered after the airport accepted a grant for airport improvements.

"We will have to ask the FAA secretary to relieve us of that obligation," Bird said.

The state could also be required to pay back $184,000 of grant money to the FAA. Bird said there is a precedent set in place for repayment and the OAC along with State Parks and Recreation, would ask that they be relieved of the financial burden.

"The secretary may respond because there is a contract and he may say there is a cost for that," Bird said. "I would respectfully ask if we could refund the money by reinvesting the money in airports in Oklahoma, which is the purpose of the money."

The little used airport drew national attention when it was listed in Sen. Tom Coburn's Book of Waste in 2012.

The commission also discussed the FAA's recent announcement to close contract control towers across the nation. The closure will affect six airports in Oklahoma including the tower at the Ardmore Airpark. Bird said he was encouraged by an amendment proposed by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) that would keep the towers open throughout the 2013 fiscal year.

""The President is playing politics with public safety by closing contract air traffic control towers across the nation — six in my state of Oklahoma — which is why I have joined a bipartisan group of Senators to stop this," Sen. Inhofe said. "The post-sequestration FAA operations budget is still nearly $200 million more than it was when President Obama came into office. It is difficult to understand how a 5 percent cut in the FAA budget brought on by sequestration can result in the shutting of all contract towers nationwide. This amendment holds the Administration accountable for the way it implements the budget cuts so that important programs like the contract air traffic control towers are not disproportionately targeted by the President's misguided game to make life more difficult for Americans."

Bird said the issue is about aviation safety, which would take a hit nationwide. Bird also said the contract control tower program in one of the most efficient programs in the federal government.

"The amendment to keep them running throughout the fiscal year would stop this foolish intention to close these control towers," Bird said. "The FAA rank and file are good people that are concerned about aviation safety like the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission and I know that is something they want. Something has happened in the sequester that has resulted in poor judgment and this is not a good idea. We need to try and find a more proportional response."


Aerolite 103, N2549W: Accident occurred March 16, 2013 in Immokalee, Florida

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Docket And Docket Items -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary  -   National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ERA13LA171 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, March 16, 2013 in Immokalee, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/27/2015
Aircraft: MCNULTY JOHN S AEROLITE 103, registration: N2549W
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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

According to the pilot, he was descending the airplane from 3,000 to 1,000 ft above ground level toward his destination airport. After he leveled off the airplane, he encountered heavy turbulence and a strong wind gust. The airplane began to descend, and, in an attempt to climb, the pilot added power. However, the airplane did not climb, and a wind gust rolled the airplane right. He subsequently lost control of the airplane, and it collided with trees. Although the pilot did not report that the engine lost power, an examination of the engine revealed evidence of seizure marks on the intake and exhaust side of the magneto cylinder walls; the magneto piston’s seizure likely led to the loss of engine power and contributed to the airplane’s inability to climb.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The loss of engine power due to the seizure of the magneto piston.

On March 16, 2013, about 1000 eastern daylight time, an experimental Aerolite 103, N2549W, was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain near Immokalee, Florida. The private pilot sustained serious injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by the private pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The flight departed from Immokalee Regional Airport (IMM), Immokalee, Florida at 0900.

According to the pilot, he was returning to IMM after a short local flight. The pilot reported that he was at 3,000 feet agl and started a descent into IMM. He went on to say that he leveled off at 1,000 feet agl and had the airport insight. As he approached the airport he encountered heavy turbulence, followed by a strong gust of wind. The airplane began to descend rapidly, and he added full power in an attempt to fly out of the turbulence and climb. He did not recall if the engine's rpm increased, but stated that the airplane did not climb or perform as expected. The airplane rolled to the right, continued to descend and collided with the trees.

An examination of the airframe revealed that all of the tubing was buckled due to impact damage. Examination of the flight controls revealed continuity to the flight control surfaces. The elevator control cable was broken, and was examined by the NTSB material laboratory. The examination revealed that it was broken in overstress.

The recorded weather at the Southwest Florida International Airport, Fort Myers, Florida (RSW), revealed that at 0953, conditions were wind 170 degrees at 6 knots, cloud conditions clear, temperature 18 degrees Celsius (C); dew point 11 degrees C; altimeter 30.21 inches of mercury. According to the Federal Aviation Administration Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB): CE-09-35; these conditions were favorable for serious carburetor icing at glide power.

A review of the ROTAX installation manual section 16) carburetor subsection 16.1) Carburetor air intake, states that "If the aircraft is to be operated in climatic conditions where carburetor icing is likely to occur, a heating system must be fitted." During the examination of the carburetor and intake system it was noted that this Rotax engine was not equipped with a carburetor heat system.

Examination of the engine revealed that the propeller blades exhibited signs of rotational damage on two of the three blades. One blade was broken off at the root and was not located.

Further examination of the engine revealed that the fuel system was breached between the primer bulb and the fuel tank. An examination of the carburetor revealed that it was impact damaged. Further examination of the carburetor system revealed that the air filter was found dirty. An examination of the spark plugs revealed that they were covered with oil deposits on the electrodes and insulator. The fuel bowl was removed and did not contain any fuel. There was evidence of water contamination but no water was within the bowl at the time of examination. The carburetor was further dissembled and the main jet was free of obstructions or blockages. The jet needle was installed correctly and was in good condition. Examination of the fuel pump revealed that it was in good condition but was mounted incorrectly according to the Rotax manual. Examination of the fuel lines revealed that they were secure to their fittings on the engine. No fuel was found between the carburetor and the fuel pump. 

An examination of the cylinders revealed that there were seizure marks on the magneto piston. Metal transfers were found on the intake and exhaust side of the magneto cylinder wall. Examination of the power take-off cylinder revealed no metal transfer and no evidence of piston seizure.

NTSB Identification: ERA13LA171
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, March 16, 2013 in Immokalee, FL
Aircraft: MCNULTY JOHN S AEROLITE 103, registration:
Injuries: 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On March 16, 2013, about 1000 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur built, Aerolite 103, N2549W, was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain near Immokalee, Florida. The private pilot sustained serious injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by the private pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The flight departed from Immokalee Regional Airport (IMM), Immokalee, Florida at 0900.

According to the pilot’s spouse, he was returning from a local flight. She spoke to him prior to his departure and he stated that everything was “fine” with the airplane. This was the last time she spoke to the pilot. At approximately 1045, the pilot called 911 to advise them that he had crashed his airplane and needed assistance. First responders located the pilot, and he was transported to a local hospital.

Examination of the airplane by the local authorities revealed that it came to rest in a heavily wooded area, and exhibited substantial damage. The airplane will be recovered for further examination at a later date.

Dense woods like these run along the area of Lake Trafford Road in Immokalee. A pilot crashed into those woods Saturday. 

— The pilot of an ultralight plane crashed Saturday into the woods near Lake Trafford in Immokalee and was pinned upside down for 1 1/2 hours while his would-be rescuers tried to find him, officials say.

Imagine one of those movies where explorers are hacking their way into the jungle, Collier County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. David Estes said.

“This was worse than any scene you’ve ever watched,” said Estes, who was involved in Saturday’s search as supervisor of the Sheriff’s Office agricultural unit.

The pilot was taken by medical helicopter to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers.

Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Karie Partington said the pilot’s name wouldn’t be available until perhaps Monday. His condition hadn’t been released by sheriff’s officials as of Saturday night and Lee Memorial officials wouldn’t release a medical condition until his name is released by authorities.
He had no passengers. While Immokalee has a county-government operated airport, it wasn’t immediately known if that’s where the plane took off from.

The Sheriff’s Office, Big Corkscrew Island Fire Control and Rescue District and Collier County Emergency Medical Services launched the rescue after the pilot called 911 on his cell phone just before 10 a.m. to say his plane was “in the trees,” Partington said.

Rescue crews were able to find the plane’s general location on the southwest side of Lake Trafford by using the GPS on the pilot’s phone. That turned out to be a half-mile from where the plane eventually was found, Estes said.

The pilot guided crews toward him by telling them over the cell phone whether the search helicopter was getting closer or farther away as it circled overhead.

The tree canopy was too dense to see the crash site from the air, Estes said, and the plane’s position showed only the wings’ edges, not the flat surfaces.

A lack of damage to tree branches indicated to Estes that the plane went into the woods nearly straight down rather than coming in at an angle, he said.
Rescuers hacked their way for about 75 yards through dense brush and around a willow head to get to the oak hammock where the plane went down, Estes said.

The pilot then was strapped to a board, loaded into the bed of a four-wheel drive pickup and driven to the Medflight helicopter that had landed in a dried up marsh, Estes said.

He said the terrain, while still soft and muddy, would have been underwater in the rainy season, which would have made the rescue even trickier.

“This is an area you usually need an airboat or a good swamp buggy to get to,” Estes said. “This guy, it was his lucky day. Unlucky day and lucky day all at the same time.”

Posted earlier 

An ultralight plane crashed Saturday morning into a wooded area on the southwest side of Lake Trafford in Immokalee, the Collier County Sheriff's Office reported this afternoon.

The pilot called the Sheriff's Office on his cell phone just before 10 a.m. to say his plane was "in the trees," spokeswoman Karie Partington said.

Rescue units from the Sheriff's Office, Collier County Emergency Medical Service and Big Corkscrew Island Fire District searched for the plane for about 1 1/2 hours, she said.

Crews were able to narrow down the location using the GPS on the pilot's phone, but the dense tree canopy hid the plane from searchers, she said.

The pilot stayed on the phone with rescue units and was able to guide them to his location by telling them whether the sound of a helicopter was getting closer or farther away, Partington said.
The pilot was taken by medical helicopter to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers.
His name has not yet been released by authorities.

Partington said she did not yet know the pilot's condition.

He had no passengers, Partington said.

An ultralight plane crashed Saturday morning into a wooded area near Immokalee, the Collier County Sheriff's Office reported.

The pilot called the Sheriff's Office on his cell phone just before 10 a.m. to say his plane was in the trees, spokeswoman Karie Partington said.

Using the GPS on the pilot's cell phone, emergency crews tracked down the pilot after about 1 1/2 hours, she said.

He was taken by medical helicopter to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers. His name wasn't immediately released.

Partington did not know the pilot's condition as of early this afternoon.

Mooney M20F Executive, N9387V: Accident occurred March 16, 2013 in Leesburg, Florida


NTSB Identification: ERA13LA175
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, March 16, 2013 in Leesburg, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/29/2013
Aircraft: MOONEY M20F, registration: N9387V
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The pilot reported that when he attempted to extend the landing gear, he heard a "snap," and the landing gear did not extend. He then cycled the landing gear and attempted the emergency (manual) landing gear extension procedure with no success. The pilot subsequently performed a gear-up landing to a grassy area at an airport. Examination of the airplane revealed that the emergency gear extension cable terminated with a spline drive at the landing gear actuator. The emergency cable was separated from the spline drive, which was seized. The emergency gear extension cable was also misrigged, which allowed it to contact the landing gear actuator arm and engage the cable during normal gear operations. Subsequently, with a seized spline engaged to the electric landing gear motor via the actuator, during normal gear operations, the electric landing gear motor would not be able to overcome the seized spline to actuate the landing gear.

The airplane had been operated about 60 hours since its most recent annual inspection, which was completed about 10 months before the accident. Review of the airplane's most recent airframe logbook (dating back 7 years) revealed that the landing gear actuator was removed and replaced about 4 years before the accident. During reinstallation of the actuator, an emergency (manual) gear extension was successfully completed. There were no other entries pertaining to emergency (manual) gear extension in the airframe logbook; however, the entry for the most recent 100 hour inspection noted three landing gear retraction cycles. The mechanic that recorded that entry stated it was a standard entry and typically more than three cycles are completed with the first one being the emergency (manual) extension. While it was likely that a mechanic checked the rigging of the emergency gear extension cable following the actuator replacement, the investigation was unable to determine if the rigging of the emergency gear extension cable was affected by any subsequent maintenance. Additionally, the cable routing and rigging wouldn't typically be inspected if the landing gear manual extension was successfully accomplished during the 100-hour or annual inspections.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The incorrect rigging of the landing gear emergency extension system by unknown maintenance personnel, which resulted in a failure of the emergency extension cable, and jamming of the normal extension gear motor. 

On March 16, 2013, about 1130 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20F, N9387V, operated by a private individual, was substantially damaged during a gear-up landing at Leesburg International Airport (LEE), Leesburg, Florida. The commercial pilot was not injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that departed LEE about 1030.

The pilot reported that while practicing slow-flight, he attempted to extend the flaps and landing gear. The flaps extended, but he heard a "snap" and the landing gear did not extend. Additionally, there was no cockpit indication of the landing gear being retracted or extended. Utilizing the pilot operating handbook, he cycled the landing gear with no success. He then attempted the emergency (manual) landing gear extension procedure, also with no success. The pilot subsequently performed a low pass and LEE control tower personnel confirmed that the landing gear was not extended. The pilot then performed a gear-up landing on a grassy area at LEE. The airplane came to rest upright; however, the empennage sustained substantial damage.

The airplane was examined by a mechanic, under the supervision of a Federal Aviation Administration inspector. The mechanic stated that the emergency (manual) gear extension cable terminated with a spline drive at the landing gear actuator. He observed that the emergency gear extension cable spline drive was seized and the cable portion behind it rotated freely in its sheath. The mechanic added that at some point in the airplane's history, the emergency gear cable separated from its terminating spline drive. This would not normally affect the landing gear system unless the emergency landing gear extension cable was engaged from the cockpit via a knob. However, the mechanic also noted that the emergency gear extension cable was previously mis-rigged, which allowed it to contact the actuator arm and engage the cable during normal gear operations. Subsequently, with a seized spline engaged to the electric landing gear motor via the actuator, during normal gear operations, the electric landing gear motor would not be able to overcome the seized spline to actuate the landing gear.

Review of the airplane's most recent airframe logbook revealed entries dating back to May 2006. Further review of the airframe logbook revealed that the landing gear actuator (part number 4196-00-1C) was removed and replaced on February 16, 2009. Following its replacement, maintenance personnel cycled the landing gear five times, checked the emergency (manual) landing gear disengage system, and manually extended the landing gear. There were no other entries pertaining to the emergency gear extension system in the airframe logbook; however, the logbook entry for the most recent 100-hour inspection noted "performed three landing gear retraction cycles."

The airplane's most recent 100 hour inspection was completed on May 24, 2012. Review of a Mooney Maintenance Manual, 100 Hour-Annual Inspection Guide, revealed "8. Check emergency landing gear extension system; extend gear using emergency gear extension system." The mechanic that had completed the most recent 100 hour inspection reported that he typically does more than the standard airframe logbook entry of three landing gear retraction cycles, with the first one being done manually (emergency), which was what he performed on the accident airplane. The mechanic added that the standard logbook entry does not differentiate between normal or emergency gear retraction cycles. Additionally, he was very familiar with that airplane as he had owned it for 14 years prior to its current owner and did not experience any problems with the landing gear system during the most recent inspection or prior. At the time of the most recent 100 hour inspection, the airplane had accumulated 3,497.9 total hours of operation. The airplane had accumulated an additional 59 hours of operation, from the time of the last annual inspection, until the accident.


 A 75-year-old decorated pilot walked away unhurt Saturday after the landing gear system of his airplane failed and he was forced to put it in the grass at Leesburg International Airport, officials said.

Leesburg City spokesman Robert Sargent said the Paul Soulé radioed authorities when the four-passenger Mooney M20 fixed wing single-engine aircraft's landing gear did not come down as he approached the runway just before noon.

The aircraft touched down in a cloud of dust and dirt but did not catch on fire.

"This is my first incident in 60 years," said Soulé, who is a retired United States Air Force pilot. "I didn't want to close the airport with a crash so I put it in the grass because its softer."

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said investigators will help to determine the extent of the damage.

Soulé, of Fruitland Park, said he was preparing to sell the aircraft and was testing everything out.

"It's just a gorgeous plane," he said. "I guess I got a do a bit of work on it, but that's OK."

Soulé had recorded 18,000 hours of incident-free flying in his distinguished career prior to the incident, according to his website.

He was honored for his flying superb acumen by the FAA with a Wright Brother's Master Pilot award in 2008.

In retirement, Soulé has trained both military and civilian pilots on various kinds of large aircraft, his website said.


Springfield, Missouri: Local Squadron of Civil Air Patrol Recieves New Plane

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The Springfield Regional Composite Squadron of Civil Air Patrol receives a new plane Saturday.

The plane, a Cessna 182, will enable the local squadron to work more closely with the office of Emergency Management, Law Enforcement, FEMA, SEMA, and others in disaster relief or emergency situations.

The Squadron believes that with a aircraft stationed locally they will be more readily available to assist with photo reconnaissance, search and rescue, and other services.

The Civil Air Patrol is a auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force with more that 61,000 members nationwide and operates a fleet of 550 aircraft.

The Patrol preforms 90 percent of the search and rescue missions in the U.S. and is credited with saving 54 lives in the last year.

The showing of the plane was accompanied with cadet training as the plane was used to practice aircraft marshaling and also gave one cadet his orientation flight.

Civil Air Patrol planes are owned by the Air Force and this one is painted in patriotic colors of red, white, and blue.


New U.S. Coast Guard Emergency Communication System To Decrease Search Times

The U.S. Coast Guard Station in Sturgeon Bay anticipates a decrease in search time as the boating season approaches, thanks to the new "Rescue 21" maritime emergency communication system. Senior Chief Wayne Spritka says the shorter search time allows his officers more time to focus on the rescue, in turn saving more lives.

Public Affairs Officer for USCG Sector Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, Lt. Junior Grade Brian Dykens, visited the Door County Maritime Museum recently to explain how the new system works.

With the old system rescuers were only notified which tower had picked up the distress signal, there was no line of bearing to point in the general direction from which the signal had come.

Spritka says Station Sturgeon Bay has been using Rescue 21 since the middle of last summer and says it’s a bit early to tell how much of a difference the system will make in search time. He also expects the system will provide cost savings in equipment usage and fuel.

Story and Audio:

Lankan pilot to fly first Air Arabia flight

The inaugural Air Arabia flight G9508 scheduled to be taken off to Mattala on the historic day of March 18, 2013 will be manned by Captain Narada Ranasinghe, the only Sri Lankan captain working for Air Arabia. After having obtained his CPL from Lion Air and Instrument Rating in Melbourne, Australia, the old Anandian stepped into the cockpit at the age of 25 as a young Cadet Pilot at Sri Lankan Airlines in 2000. 

Narada wore his Four Stripes as a Captain in 2009 on Airbus A320 and A330, while he was still serving for Sri Lankan Airlines. In 2011, Captain Ranasinghe joined Air Arabia as the first Sri Lankan pilot to work for the airline. Captain Ranasinghe considers it as a privileged opportunity to be landing the inaugural Air Arabia flight at the Rajapaksa International Airport in Mattala and becoming a part of the nation’s historic milestone.

Airbus will be taken off by Captain Ranasinghe from Sharjah International Airport on Monday with passengers onboard and will land at Mattala at 10.30am. The budget Airline Company is expanding its presence in the Island by operating twice a week flights between Sharjah and Mattala which will be increased to four times a week by May 2013.

Story and Photo:

A New Airline for Kelowna?

A new airline may be coming to Kelowna's Airport which will connect travellers with the Yukon.

On Monday Kelowna Council will be asked to approve an application by Air North Charter and Training to begin service at YLW on a charter basis.

Air North is headquartered in Whitehorse and is the largest airline in the Yukon providing domestic and cargo air service.

Air North employs more than 200 people and contributes over 20 million dollars to the Yukon economy annually and operates two Boeing 737-500 aircrafts, one Boeing 737-400 aircraft, two Boeing 737-200 aircrafts, and 5 Hawker Siddeley 748 aircrafts.

If approved the airline would be the seventh airline to service passengers out of YLW.

Feeling sky high: With new field, RC flying club hopes to attract more members

Steven King/Dispatch 
 Dennis Sivak retrieves pieces of his plane that broke apart upon landing Thursday morning at the city’s RC park located west of Casa Grande Mountain. The plane was quickly repaired and back in the air later that day. Each morning local fliers of radio-controlled airplanes meet to fly their planes and swap stories and ideas about the hobby.

Robson Ranch resident Alan Friedman has been flying radio-controlled model airplanes for more than five years, since his wife told him he needed a hobby and bought him his first plane.

Now, 27 planes later, the president of the Casa Grande RC Flyers and one of the club’s founding members is hoping to increase awareness of the sport and bring more area residents into its ranks.

“It’s a great hobby for anyone,” Friedman said. “Men, women, children. It’s not expensive and it’s fun.”

With the club’s new flying field at 2725 S. Isom Road, on the southwest side of Casa Grande Mountain — land leased to the Casa Grande RC Flyers from the city of Casa Grande for $1 per year — Friedman said now is the perfect time to learn the sport.

“We’ll work with anyone to teach them how to fly,” he said.

Casa Grande RC Flyers is a nonprofit organization. The goal is simple: to promote the hobby of model aircraft flying and improve the skills and knowledge of members.

The group will host its first “Fun Fly” event at 9 a.m. on March 30. The event is part outreach to demonstrate the sport to those who might not be familiar with it.

It’s also a competition open to all Academy of Model Aeronautics members.

“People come from other communities for fun fly events,” Friedman said. “That’s great because you can always learn something.”

The competition features two events, “airplane limbo” and “dogfight,” each aimed at demonstrating the skill and flying know-how of the pilot.

For spectators or newbie flyers, watching planes crash is part of the fun, according to Friedman.

“What’s wonderful is they’re going to crash,” Friedman said. “But they’re repairable.”

Most models can be repaired and back in the air in a matter of minutes, which adds to RC flying’s appeal as a low-cost hobby.

Friedman’s garage, affectionately referred to as the “airplane hangar,” is home to 27 model airplanes and two helicopters.

As the model planes are easy to repair, he still uses one of his first planes, despite the fact that it has crashed several times.

“When a plane crashes, there’s always a big round of applause,” he said.

Remote-controlled model aviation is available in all styles, materials and price points, although airplanes made primarily from Styrofoam are most popular, Friedman said.

Flying a model aircraft uses similar concepts and skills to flying the real thing, said Friedman, who once piloted a real Beechcraft airplane.

Just as in flying a real plane, eye-hand coordination, steering, balance and angling for a gentle landing are important, but unlike piloting a real plane, no formal training or flight experience is required for radio-controlled model aviation, Friedman said.

“People of all ages get involved,” he said. “All walks of life are welcome.”

Having a field specifically designated for model aviation flying makes the sport even more appealing for local hobbyists, he said.

Casa Grande RC Flyers opened the new field in February after more than a year of negotiation and work that started in 2011 when a small group of hobbyists approached the city of Casa Grande asking for space in a park to use as a flying field.

After a group of hobbyists formed themselves into the nonprofit organization, the city offered a lease on 11 acres on South Isom Road.

The city leveled the field and the club went to work building tables and installing fences. Much of the materials were donated by area stores, including Lowe’s and Home Depot.

“We’ve had tremendous support,” Friedman said.

The field includes nine flight tables and a runway with a yellow field marker line for pilots. Spectator safety fences allow guests to watch from a safe distance.

Eventually, the club hopes to install field regulation signs and a wind sock.

The field is maintained by the club, and membership dues of $25 a year help cover the cost of maintenance. While only club members can use the field, Friedman said the cost of membership is kept low to encourage people to join.

“Anyone who joins the club can use the facility,” he said.

Casa Grande RC Flyers has about 104 members, including residents of Casa Grande, Eloy, Coolidge, Florence and Tucson.

While promoting the hobby is the key goal of the club, it also hopes to use its events, like the upcoming fun fly, to give back to the community.

Much of the money raised at events will be donated to charity and in some cases, churches or organizations might be invited to sell concessions at events, Friedman said.

Flying radio-controlled planes can be either a competitive sport or a solo hobby, but Friedman said that the camaraderie of standing in a field guiding a plane is half the fun.

“We solve the world’s problems standing out there flying these planes and talking,” he said. “It’s great and we welcome anyone.”

For more information about joining Casa Grande RC Flyers, visit the website at

The newly formed Casa Grande RC Flyers will hold their first “Fun Fly” at their new field, 2725 S. Isom Road, at 9 a.m. on March 30. Spectators and guests may watch for free. Those participating must be members of the Academy of Model Aeronautics. To learn more about joining the Casa Grande RC Flyers, visit

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How to Preflight a Cessna 172 by Aviation Career Enrichment (ACE)


Cessna 172F Skyhawk (N8404U) 
Published on March 11, 2013

"This is how to preflight a Cessna 172 (an F model in this case).  Please comment or message and questions and BE SURE TO SUBSCRIBE!!  If you'd like to fly this bird (and the one you saw taxiing at the beginning) visit! Video Requests are ALWAYS welcome Thanks for watching guys. More tutorials to come!"

Chad Wolfe: Man found dead in elevator shaft at Tampa International Airport (KTPA), Florida

 TAMPA - The body of a man was found in an elevator shaft at Tampa International Airport on Friday, according to airport police. As of 7:00 p.m., officials said investigators could find no signs of foul play. 

 Maintenance workers discovered the victim around 10:00 a.m.

The man has been identified as Chad Wolfe, 31, from West Newton, Pennsylvania.

"We are distraught," said Bob Young, Chad's uncle, via phone from Pennsylvania.

Chad's father, Garland, told ABC Action News his son flew out of Pittsburgh Thursday night along with his girlfriend, Jessica. The couple had a layover in Georgia and arrived in Tampa shortly before midnight on Delta flight 2233.

Investigators have determined that shortly after midnight on Friday, Wolfe entered an elevator on the third floor of the main terminal that stopped on the seventh floor of the Short Term Parking Garage.

According to Garland, his son Chad planned to meet up with friends in Central Florida.  The group was going to rent a car and drive from Tampa to Daytona for Bike Week.

Garland says airport police told him Chad pried open the elevator doors and fell to his death.  However, Garland said 'he didn't believe that' because his son only weighed 150 pounds and didn't have the strength.  He added that when he spoke to his son's girlfriend, she also provided conflicting information.

The girlfriend allegedly told Garland Chad had had a drink on the plane and taken a Xanax to help him fly.

Apparently, Chad's girlfriend told him to wait on the main concourse while she retrieved her checked luggage from baggage claim.  When she returned, Chad was gone.  After searching for him, according to Garland, she alerted airport police of his disappearance.

"No, not at all," replied Young when asked if he thought Chad's girlfriend could have played a role in his death.  The couple had been together for more than 10 years.

Around 3 a.m. airport maintenance workers reported that an elevator had stopped functioning.  It was an elevator adjacent to the one Chad took.

Later that morning, when elevator technicians were working to restore the elevator to service, they discovered Wolfe's body.

What doesn't add up is that Chad's carry-on bag was found on the seventh floor of the airport which serves as a short-term parking lot.  Rent a car offices are on the ground floor of the airport adjacent to baggage claim.

"How did he fall down the elevator shaft without his luggage?" Young questioned.

Chad's family does not believe he fell to his death.  Instead, they believe the airport was negligent.

"We are thinking along those lines," said Young.

The family does not believe Chad hurt himself.  According to Young, Chad had a lot of friends, was well-liked, worked hard and enjoyed jet skiing.  He was also going to be an uncle for the second time Saturday.

The medical examiner has taken possession of Wolfe's body and is working to determine a cause of death.

Wolfe worked at a body shop in Pennsylvania alongside his father. 

ABC Action News did contact Chad's girlfriend for comment but did not immediately hear back.

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Chad Wolfe
TAMPA -- Officials with the company that maintains elevators at Tampa International Airport are spending today inspecting equipment after a 31-year-old Pennsylvania man was found dead on top of an elevator car Friday morning.

The company, Schindler Elevator Corp., "is out today, inspecting all the elevator doors at the airport to make sure they are functioning properly," said airport spokeswoman Janet Zink. "We are working through the weekend on all aspects of the investigation."

The elevator crew's efforts came a day after Chad Wolfe, an auto body mechanic, was found on top of an elevator in the Armstrong Blue section of the garage. Zink said Wolfe arrived at 12:10 a.m. Friday on Delta Flight 2233 out of Atlanta. Shortly after arriving, he entered an elevator on the third floor of the main terminal and appeared to have taken it up to the seventh floor of the garage, Zink said.

Wolfe's luggage and cell phone were found outside the elevator on the seventh floor, Zink said.

At 3 a.m., maintenance workers noticed an elevator had stopped working. About seven hours later, technicians investigating the problem discovered Wolfe's body, Zink said.

Officials from Schindler Elevator Corp. did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Saturday.

Garland Wolfe had no idea his son Chad's trip to Florida went horribly wrong until a phone call at 4 a.m. Friday.

"His girlfriend or her mother called, panicky," said Wolfe, who runs an auto body shop in West Newton, Pa., just outside Pittsburgh. "They were saying they couldn't find Chad."

Awakened by the call, Wolfe said he got up, made coffee and began worrying.

Chad Wolfe came to Tampa International Airport shortly after midnight Friday with his girlfriend, Jessica Price, said Garland Wolfe. Chad Wolfe, a motorcycle enthusiast, just had bought a Harley-Davidson Sportster and the couple was heading to Daytona Beach for Bike Week. They had lived together for eight years, said Garland Wolfe.

Unable to sleep, Garland Wolfe said, he went over to Wolfe's Auto Body/CWolfe Auto Sales, where he and his son worked, and waited as Price searched the airport for his son.

At 1 p.m., Garland Wolfe said, he received another call: His son's body was found on top of an elevator car at the airport.

Garland Wolfe said investigators told him they were looking into whether his son tried to pry open the elevator's door. Zink said investigators from the airport, as well as inspectors from Schindler, were considering a range of possibilities and there would be no definitive answer on what happened until next week.

Garland Wolfe said he and his wife, Margaret, would have rushed down to Florida earlier to try and help find their son, who loved fishing and sports as well as motorcycles, but another family event prevented them from traveling.

The couple's daughter, Courtney, was at a local hospital, giving birth to a son, named Noah.

"I don't know what I am going to do now," said Garland Wolfe. "My son lives 50 feet from our shop. He would get there at 6 a.m., open it up and make coffee. He's not going to be there anymore."

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Moline Schools Will Sue Illinois Over Elliott Aviation Tax Exemption: Quad City International Airport (KMLI)

Moline schools will cut 24 teaching positions from its district heading into next year.

Blaming lower tax revenues and fewer retirements for the need to cut staff.

The district will also sue the state of Illinois over a law giving a Milan company a tax break.

A break it says hurts the district's students.

The tax exemption benefits Elliott Aviation.

The company rents property at the Quad City International Airport.

With the tax exemption, it pays no property taxes, and property taxes are the lifeblood of a school district.

Moline schools opposed the law during the legislative process, saying it would cost the district at least 150-thousand dollars in tax revenue each year.

Elliott Aviation argued the exemption will allow it to create jobs by making the company more competitive.

Its property is exempt in other states where it operates.

Lawmakers told KWQC at the time the bill was sent to Governor Quinn, they needed to do all they could to create jobs in Illinois.

Because Elliott Aviation was threatening to leave the state over the tax status.

Moline superintendent David Moyer says the law is unconstitutional because it benefits only one private company.

"In light of the budgetary pressures that we're facing and the loss of 24 full time equivalent teachers alone, that the district cant stand down and accept a permanent loss of a minimum of 150 thousand plus annually," says Moyer.

The law was signed by Governor Quinn at the beginning of February.

Elliott Aviation announced it would pump nine million dollars into the Quad City economy.

It actually hasn't taken affect yet, the law will give Elliott Aviation the exemption on July first.

It's not known how long it will take this lawsuit to work its way through the courts. 


Legal battle over tax break for Elliott Aviation, more to follow? Quad City International Airport (KMLI), Moline, Illinois

Two local attorneys are challenging the property tax exempt status given to Elliott Aviation last month. 

 They say it’s a golden ticket, a free pass, a bad precedent that hurts local schools, and contend, it’s unconstitutional.

“It’s not fair. It’s unconstitutional. The reason why is you have a private business benefiting at the public expense. This was a law designed to benefit Elliott Aviation and only Elliott Aviation,” said Matt Hays, an attorney with Katz, Huntoon & Fieweger.

He and fellow lawyer John Doak have sent a letter to Rock Island County officials, putting them on notice that if taxes are not levied on Elliott Aviation this year, it will sue.

“If it ends up as a lawsuit, it will end up as a suit against that public person, that has the duty to act and didn’t,” Hays said.

Last month, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a state-mandated tax break for the family-owned aviation company, which leases land from the Airport Authority.

Last year, Elliot paid more than $220,000 in property taxes to the county. Moline School District received about $150,000 of those tax dollars.

“From a school district perspective, it kills us”, said Superintendent Dr. David Moyer. ” I can’t imagine there aren’t plenty of other businesses talking to attorneys angling to figure out ways to encourage them not to have to pay taxes.”

In a statement from Elliott Aviation to WQAD,  the company says it is aware of the notice of intent to sue, but is busy moving forward with a 1.8 million dollar expansion plan and adding 50 new jobs.

“Strengthening our community’s job base requires a competitive business environment. We congratulate our Illinois lawmakers for legislation that puts our community on equal footing with other states where aviation companies currently do not pay property taxes,” said Richard Baeder, the company’s General Manager.

Local lawmakers pushed for the exemption which was signed into law by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on February 1. They said they were concerned the company and its 250 jobs may move out of the state.

Hays contends the exemption violates three constitutional articles, including equal protection under the law.

“It’s an unfair advantage to one business. Every public entity that benefits from Elliott Aviation property taxes has a claim against them, and they should,” Hays said.

When asked if the Moline School District has any intention of pursuing any type of legal action, Dr. Moyer said he had no comment on whether it’s been discussed because he can’t comment on any potential litigation matters.

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Unique flight school opens at Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport (KSFM), Sanford, Maine

SANFORD, Maine —A new flight training school is operating at the Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport.

Dash Aviation, which opened March 1, offers an accelerated program for pilots who need training in multi-engine aircraft.

Jake Speidel, who owns the flight school with his father, Patrick, says the school fills a much-needed void in the New England area, with the only other training of its kind offered in Connecticut.

The program is very comprehensive, designed for students to complete the training in two to three days and guaranteeing them seven hours of flight time.

With the addition of Dash Aviation, the Sanford Airport now has three flight schools.

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Indiana County/Jimmy Stewart Field (KIDI), Indiana, Pennsylvania: Airport manager retiring after 28 years

Jamie Empfield / Indiana Gazette 

Todd Heming 
Todd Heming, retiring as Jimmy Stewart Airport manager.

Todd Heming was only 5 years old when actor Jimmy Stewart came back to Indiana in 1959 for the dedication and renaming of the Indiana County Airport to the Indiana County/Jimmy Stewart Airport.

But Heming was working on the flight line at the little rural airport when the movie star visited his hometown and the airport named after him on his 75th birthday in 1983.

Heming, in fact, has been working at the airport on a nearly daily basis for more than three decades. Today he's retiring after 28 1/2 years as the airport manager, the only individual to hold that position.

Heming, 59, got the aviation bug when his father, a pilot, took him for an airplane ride as a young boy. He began working on his own private pilot's license before he graduated from United High School. He next earned a degree in aeronautical maintenance from the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics. About the same time, the war in Vietnam was ending and the demand for aircraft mechanics -- especially for helicopter mechanics -- dropped.

Instead of soaring into the sky, Heming went underground. He worked more than seven years in the North American Coal Company's Conemaugh 1 mine before he got back into aviation, taking a job with Allegheny Beechcraft, the fixed base operator at the Indiana County airport.

His early duties included field maintenance and fueling operations, but at the same time he continued his flight training and got a pilot's instrument rating, earned certifications to fly multi-engine and commercial aircraft and qualified to be a flight instructor.

When county officials made the decision to take over management of the airport rather than have a fixed base operator, Heming landed the job as the airport's first manager.

The airport then, he said, was a one-man operation, although a part-time helper was added for the summers.

The fixed base operator, Heming said, had concentrated on keeping its business solvent and maintenance at the airport had declined. Some of the lights didn't work and the grass wasn't always cut. Heming recalls the airport had to borrow money from the Indiana County Airport Authority treasury to buy a load of aviation fuel.

But since then, Heming, as manager, has presided over some of the most significant changes and expansions and improvements to the airport, including a new terminal building in 1995, construction of a new, 5,500-foot runway that will go into use this spring, preparations for installing a new instrument landing system that may attract commuter and charter airline services to the airport, and the construction of several new hangers.

"If you don't fly in and out, you don't realize what it does for the county," Heming said of the airport's contribution to the local economy. Years ago, coal operators were among the industry leaders who made regular business use of the airport. "Now it has transferred into the gas industry," he said.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania visitors and law enforcement officials travel through the airport on a regular basis.

"And medical helicopters -- we support a lot of those," Heming said.

The airport now has about 26,000 takeoffs and landings annually. Thursdays are usually the busiest day for corporate flights at the airport, and evenings and weekends are busiest with recreational flying and flight training.

Much of Heming's managerial time in recent years has been taken up in helping to secure funding for improvement projects.

"You're competing with airports across the U.S." for the aviation dollars available, Heming said. He and members of the airport authority flew many times to Washington and Harrisburg in support of lobbying efforts to fund local airport projects.

"The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) doesn't want pie-in-the-sky or fields-of-dreams projects," but viable improvements, Heming said. Before they approve plans or funding, FAA officials want to see specifics about how many and what types of aircraft will use a longer runway, for example, and how often. The benefit/cost analyses and other required documents and studies can take years to pull together, he said.

"Just because you have the money doesn't mean you can build it," Heming said, adding that myriad environmental regulations and guidelines must also be satisfied. Airports, he said, are the most regulated entities in the nation. It can take years to accomplish all the "hoops you have to jump through for these agencies," he said.

"We take a practical approach" to airport development, he said. Heming and airport authority members visited more than 20 airport terminals before deciding on the design for the new terminal at Jimmy Stewart. "We wanted to build something useful. That's how we look at the whole airport. … It's built around the safety of the flying public."

Improvements are also geared to providing what a pilot -- and his or her passengers -- needs: a long-enough runway, instruments to aid landings in foul weather, refueling capability so that a stop at another airport isn't necessary just to take on aviation gas, and other amenities like car rentals and hotel accommodations.

Heming said many people want commercial aviation service -- commuter and/or charter flights -- to be offered again at the Indiana County Airport.

"Everything we've done will allow that to happen," he said.

The last air show at the airport was for Jimmy Stewart's 75th birthday celebration. Staging an air show now is very challenging, in part because roads near the airport would have to be closed. So the airport's annual festival, or airport awareness days, has evolved without aerobatic flying but with aircraft flying above the runway. Unlike some air shows where spectators are not allowed close to the aircraft, the Jimmy Stewart festival allows spectators to touch the planes, talk to the flight crews and, in some cases, arrange rides.

And it's free, and it's a family atmosphere, Heming said. This year's airport festival is scheduled for June 15-16.

Heming said his time as airport manager has been enjoyable because it provided so many opportunities. He's worked with people in agencies ranging from the FBI to the county's Emergency Management Agency, tourist bureau, sheriff, local state police, the chamber of commerce and fire departments; he used some of his vacation time to fly corporate planes; he accumulated about 3,000 hours of piloting time; as a contract flight instructor for the Reserve Officer Training Corps he helped teach military cadets to fly; he helped build a state road (Geesey Road was relocated to make room for the airport's new longer runway); and helped make the Jimmy Stewart Airport the first in the state to have a producing Marcellus shale natural gas well.

"We don't pay anything for heat anymore," he said.

Ken Hinick, the airport's assistant manager, will serve as interim manager until Heming's successor is hired. 

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Crown Prosecution Service handed file on Red Arrows death after pilot was ejected from cockpit while on the ground

Police have passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service after a Red Arrows aerial display team pilot died after he was ejected from his cockpit while on the ground.

Lincolnshire Police confirmed they have handed over the file concerning the death of Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham.

Iraq war veteran Flt Lt Cunningham, 35, was a highly-regarded and experienced pilot with the RAF's aerial display team but was fatally injured after being ejected from his Hawk T1 aircraft while on the ground at RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire, on November 8, 2011.

The parachute on the ejector seat did not deploy and the South African-born airman later died in hospital.

Following the incident, the RAF grounded all non-essential flying of aircraft fitted with the Mk10 Martin Baker-built ejector seat "as a precaution", but flights later resumed in December 2011, with air chiefs saying they had "no remaining safety concerns".

A Lincolnshire Police spokesman said: "A file has been submitted for consideration by the CPS and as soon as we're in a position to update on that, we will.

"We are not speculating on the matter of any possible offences."

It is understood the police are expecting a response from the CPS by the end of the month on whether any criminal charges should be brought in relation to the incident.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed it was aware a police file was now with the CPS but would not comment further.

An MoD spokesman said: "We are aware that a referral has been made to the CPS in relation to the civil police investigation into this incident.

"It is not appropriate for the MoD to comment on such matters, any questions should be directed to the civil police and/or CPS.

"Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Flt Lt Sean Cunningham."

The Red Arrows lost two pilots in 2011, after pilot Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, 33, from Rutland, was killed when his Hawk aircraft came down after performing at an air show near Bournemouth airport in Dorset in August.

An inquest later heard the likely cause of the crash was that he lost consciousness due to the G-Force.

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2 Lawmakers Want Colorado To Have Its Own Wildfire-Fighting Planes

DENVER (CBS4) – When it comes to wildfires and air support Colorado is at the mercy of the federal government. Two state leaders want to change that.

Sen. Steve King, a Republican who represents Grand Junction, will introduce legislation next week to develop a Colorado fleet of firefighting planes.

“We need — like California — to have our own air fleet,” King said.

King is sponsoring the bill with Sen. Cheri Jahn, a Democrat who represents Jefferson County.

“People have said ‘Oh my gosh, how in world will you ever pay for that? Oh my gosh, how can you make this?’ You know what, we can either keep saying that for the years to come or we can take hold of it and say ‘This incredible idea and we need to figure out how to make it work,’ ” Jahn said.

One idea is to make it a public-private partnership.

“Can you imagine what advertising value would be if you had a Colorado Rockies sign on tail of slurry bomber?” King said.

If the state were unrestrained by federal rules, pilots of state air tankers might be able to do night drops sometimes, which federal pilots don’t do now.

“We have night vision goggles. We have GPS. We have all sorts of technology that the federal government does not even recognize or allow their firefighters to use,” King said.

When the Waldo Canyon Fire erupted in Colorado Springs last year there were 29 other large fires burning throughout the country and nine large air tankers to fight them all. With 4 million acres of dead trees in Colorado, the danger of another waldo canyon isn’t going away.

“We are one lightning strike, one careless match throw, one terrorist match throw away from a catastrophic fire,” King said.

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Hernando aviation authority chair defends airport

Hernando County Aviation Authority Chairman Gary Schraut fired off a letter Friday to chapter presidents and national directors of the Family Motor Coach Association that refutes a fact sheet sent out last week by an FMCA vice president.

Ralph Marino, in an information packet that went out to the FMCA heads, included statements from some chapter officials criticizing the county airport’s recent offer designed to keep the annual motor coach rally in Brooksville.

“We do understand that there are some within the (FMCA) that would like to see the annual rally move from Hernando County and respect that it is the choice of the organization and its National directors,” Schraut said. “There seems to be conflicting information on the actual costs of operating at the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport and only ask that if it is going to be a decision based on financial issues that an objective review of the Hernando County facility be performed.”

Marino’s packet said many of the concessions that the airport is offering will result in no significant financial gain for the association.

But Schraut, hoping to set the record straight, defended the airport’s offer by itemizing costs of everything from postage to supplies that would overcome some $33,710 of overhead.

Schraut said Marino has cited $8,000 a year incurred by the FMCA for mowing the grounds. The airport, in its offer, would pick up the entire tab.

Marino has said that tent rental is costing about $80,000 per year. But in the so-called “fact sheet” sent out by Marino, there is a discrepancy in the figures, Schraut said.

Schraut cites instances where the FMCA would save even more money by staying in Brooksville and said that moving the rally to Volusia County — as has been mentioned — would cost the FMCA more.

Finally, Schraut said the Volusia venue could only accommodate 800 to 1,150 coaches, while the Brooksville airport can hold more than 3,000.

Schraut appealed to the chapter presidents to weigh all the facts before making a final decision, which is expected next week.

Earlier this month, Economic Development Manager Mike McHugh sent a four-pronged proposal to the FMCA Southeast Area in hopes of renewing a lease with the organization and getting them to continue their annual RV rallies at the local airport.

County Commissioner Diane Rowden, the county’s liaison to the airport, said the letter has already elicited a positive response from one of the FMCA chapter presidents.

“The fact is, they’re not comparing apples to apples with the Volusia County Fairgrounds,” Rowden said. “The bottom line is if you’re going to use facts, then put the facts out there. Don’t slant them.”

County Commission Chairman Dave Russell commended Schraut for writing the letter and hopes it has a positive effect on FMCA members.

“I think what Gary did was appropriate and that we have everything in writing so there are no misunderstandings and we have outlined all the provisions in our offer to help them in their decision whether or not they’re going to stay,” Russell said.

The proposal included:

A reduction in the license fee from an annual $6,500 to $4 per coach. That charge will be capped at 700 coaches with a maximum fee of $2,800. There will be no charge for additional coaches should attendance exceed 700, which would provide an annual savings of $3,700 or more over the current agreement.

The airport will assume responsibility for the mowing and maintenance of the rally area. That would reduce the FMCA costs in property maintenance and equipment to the tune of some $8,000 per year.

The airport is under contract to buy the former Brooksville Air Center facility and expects to close on the property late this month. The airport will then market the facility for lease.

“Within our lease negotiations, the airport will diligently negotiate to secure the use of the 20,000-square-foot hangar for the use during the FMCA rally from the new lessee at a rental rate of $20,000,” the proposal said. Use of the facility would cut down significantly on the FMCA’s rental of tents during the rally.

The airport, tourism and Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce will help with recruiting community and student groups to provide volunteers to help with parking and other duties during the annual rally.

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