Saturday, March 23, 2013

American Airlines flight makes emergency landing at Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD) after first officer gets sick

An American Airlines flight made an emergency landing in Dulles after the plane's first officer became ill during the flight.

American Airlines spokesman Kent Powell said the first officer complained of feeling ill, and decided to land the plane at about 11:15 a.m. on Saturday. There were 141 passengers on board the Dallas-bound plane out of Newark. Passengers boarded another aircraft at about 2 p.m.

Powell said the officer has been released from the hospital, but did not say what his ailment was.

Why do planes taking tourists to Nepal to visit Mount Everest keep on crashing?

Angie Gaunt woke up on a Friday last September to hear the radio announce an air crash in Kathmandu.

The report said that Britons were among those killed shortly after a Sita Air flight took off, en route to the Everest region.

Gaunt’s husband, Timothy Oakes, was in Nepal realizing his long-held dream of trekking to base camp.

‘I jumped out of bed screaming. Only a few hours earlier I’d read he was flying out to Lukla to start the trek,’ she says.

She called her friend Maggie Holding, whose husband Steve was travelling with Oakes. Days earlier, the four had enjoyed a meal before the men set off for Heathrow.

Calls to the Foreign Office confirmed that both men’s names were on the flight manifest. The FCO rang Holding to confirm Steve’s death as she watched footage of the burning wreckage on TV.

All of the 19 people on board, seven of whom were British, died. It was Nepal’s sixth fatal air crash – three of them Everest-bound – in two years, a period that claimed the lives of 95 people.

The lure of the Himalayas attracts more than 100,000 trekkers, including 40,000 Brits, each year to Nepal. Visitor numbers to Everest have doubled since the end of the civil war there in 2006.

Some 35,000 walk each year to Everest’s base camp, the vast majority starting from Lukla’s Tenzing-Hillary Airport.

Climbing the peak is also more popular than ever. Last spring was so busy there were queues on the upper slopes.

This spring is the 60th anniversary of the first ascent by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

Trekkers and climbers are already flocking to Nepal to join in the celebrations. Thousands more will take Everest flights to view the peak from the air.

Now Angie Gaunt, Maggie Holding and other relatives of those killed in the Sita Air accident want to know what has been done to improve aviation safety.

Pilots and experts in Nepal fear more accidents will happen in a country where political failure and poor regulation are undermining its vital tourist industry.

Sixty years ago, when the British expedition left Kathmandu’s lush valley to climb Everest, they walked the whole way to base camp in around three weeks.

In 1953, with few cars and very few roads, there was no choice. The first planes only landed in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, in 1949. Now the city’s polluted streets are clogged with traffic.

A construction boom has gobbled up farmland to house a growing population swollen by those escaping poverty and the ten-year civil war that brought an end to the Nepalese monarchy.

Manju Pokhrel migrated to the city a decade ago, and built a shack on the banks of the polluted Manohara river, close to Kathmandu’s airport. She was one of the few up and about that September morning.

Flights into the Everest region start early to make the most of calm flying conditions. More than 60 flights a day land at Tenzing-Hillary Airport at the height of the season.

Vans RV-12, 19-8121: Fatal accident occurred March 24, 2013 at Lismore Airport - YLIS, Lismore, New South Wales

On 24 March 2013, a Vans RV-12 amateur-built aircraft collided with terrain shortly after take-off from Lismore Airport, New South Wales. The pilot was fatally injured. 

 The NSW police service was responsible for investigating the accident on behalf of the state Coroner. On 10 April 2013, investigating officers contacted the ATSB and requested assistance with the recovery of data from the aircraft’s Dynon Avionics Skyview system. The display unit and control module were subsequently sent to the ATSB for examination and an investigation was initiated under the provisions of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003.

The ATSB liaised with the manufacturer of the display unit and was able to successfully disassemble and download flight data stored on the unit. The flight data contained the accident flight, however the flight data ended moments before the aircraft collided with terrain. An archive file, containing the downloaded flight data is released as Appendix A to this report and contains four comma-separated value (.csv) files. Attention is directed to the Data Limitations section of the main report, should any analysis of the recorded information be undertaken.

The ATSB report and the associated data were prepared by the ATSB to assist the NSW police investigation. The ATSB report, including the referenced data files, has been released under section 25 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 (the Act). Per section 27(1) of the Act, this report and the appended data files are not admissible in evidence in any civil or criminal proceedings. The device containing the original data was returned to the NSW Police Service on 13 November 2013.

Technical assistance to the NSW Police – Recovery of data from an avionics system VANS RV-12, Lismore Airport NSW on 24 March 2013

Wayne Fisher from Spectrum Aviation.

MOMENTS before a plane crash that killed a veteran pilot at Lismore earlier this year, the aircraft's nose pitched vertically upwards, causing a fatal stall. 

 A stall is when an aircraft loses lift and begins to fall from the sky. It has nothing to do with the stalling of an engine.

An Australian Transport Safety Bureau final report into the March 24 death used data from the plane's flight recorder to help establish the cause of the crash.

The crash killed local pilot and aero entrepreneur Wayne Fisher who was taking a popular kit-built Van's Aircraft V-12 plane on its first flight while the plane's owner looked on.

Mr Fisher was a well-respected pilot and founded Spectrum Aviation in 1989, a local business that constructed experimental-class hobby planes and instructed amateur pilots. He was qualified to test kit-built planes for their first 25 hours of flight.

Bill Kiernan, chief flying instructor at the Northern Rivers Aero Club said the plane's fate was sealed when it nosed up from a normal 10-15 degree take-off angle to around 65 degrees.

"The attitude (angle) it reached would have caused the stall. All of a sudden it would have pitched up; to someone on the ground it would have looked vertical," Mr Kiernan said.

With the light aircraft unable to maintain lift at that incline, it would have nose-dived and rolled "quite violently", he said.

But Mr Kiernan said while the ATSB report shed light on what happened in the seconds before the tragic accident, what exactly caused the steep climb would remain a mystery.

"I watched this aeroplane being built and everything was done exactly as per the instructions," he said.

"The plane took around a year to put together, I'd say a minimum 1000 hours."

Mr Kiernan said what was defined as "experimental" kit planes were very popular, with a good safety record.

"They're not plunging from the sky every week."

Experienced pilot, entrepreneur, aircraft engineer, flight instructor, fitness fanatic, loving father and a "character in aviation" are just some of the words to describe the late Wayne Fisher. Mr Fisher was killed when the kit-built RV-12 he was testing for a local man smashed to the ground just after take-off about 9am on Sunday. 

News of his death quickly spread across the Australian aviation industry and overseas.

A highly skilled pilot and passionate aviation enthusiast, Mr Fisher established Spectrum Aviation in 1989 at Lismore.

Over the past 24 years, Mr Fisher had designed and built four models of his Fisher Ultralight.

He had also been involved in the construction of thousands of ultralight aircraft and drifters, many his own Fisher models.

Northern Rivers Aero Club president Wally Soward said Mr Fisher was an associate of the club who had many friends in the industry.

"Wayne was great, he always fitted in with everyone and was very good at what he did and if you wanted a bit of help you would just ask him and it was done," Mr Soward said.

"People will remember his flying displays at the Evans Head Fly-In; he was so terrific at aerobatics."

Mr Soward said Mr Fisher's death had left a void in the aircraft fraternity that will be hard to replace.

"Wayne will be sorely missed, he was a great man."

Northern Rivers Aero Club chief flying instructor Bill Kiernan said as soon as the crash happened he got a phone call from a pilot who witnessed it.

Mr Kiernan said the RV-12 Mr Fisher was flying was built and maintained to the highest standard.

"Wayne was a pilot of outstanding ability who put a lot into aviation," he said.

"He was not the sort of fella you will see the likes of again."

Two aircraft enthusiasts who knew Mr Fisher well said they were still trying to overcome the shock.

"When I first heard about Wayne I couldn't believe it, he was such a talented pilot," one man said.

"Wayne was so well known and well liked, he will be sorely missed," said the other.

Recreational Aviation Australia investigators are working with police to prepare a report on the crash for the coroner.


The local aviation community is in shock after a well-known local pilot/ instructor died in a light plane crash at Lismore Airport yesterday morning.

About 9am the ultralight plane on its maiden flight carrying only its pilot, Lismore man, Wayne Fisher, had begun to take off from Lismore airport, before something went wrong and the plane hit the ground.

Relieving Duty Officer Acting Inspector Virginia Szaak of Richmond Local Area Command spoke soon after the crash.

"(The plane has) gotten about 100m into the air... it's collided with the ground, killing the pilot instantly," Acting Insp Szaak said.

At that point she said that the person on board the Van's RV-12 was a local Lismore man who was an experienced pilot associated with the Northern Rivers Aero Club.

The pilot was later in the day confirmed to be Wayne Fisher, 62, a pilot and instructor with over 30 years experience in aviation.

Late yesterday, Inspector Matt Kehoe of Richmond Local Area Command said that Mr Fisher's next of kin had been advised, however positive identification of Mr Fisher would not be given until dental records were examined.

Mr Fisher was the owner and operator of Lismore-based Spectrum Aviation, and had worked on the construction of over 230 ultralight aircraft, according to the business's website.

A friend and fellow pilot, who did not want to be named, said he was very shocked to hear about Mr Fisher's death.

"He's a very experienced flyer and a very respected flying instructor," the friend said.

"The entire aviation community is in deep shock over this."

The friend said Mr Fisher had been flying "since he was a boy" and that he was a regular performer at aviation meets, most notably at the Great Eastern Fly In at Evans Head each year.

"He was a real gentleman - very quiet, reserved, very safety-conscious," the friend said.

"He will be very sadly missed."

Insp Kehoe said on-scene investigations into the incident, conducted with Recreational Aviation Australia, concluded yesterday afternoon.

The airport was closed up until the late afternoon, causing disruption to Rex services, Insp Kehoe said.

 The scene of the light aircraft crash at Lismore Airport. 
Picture: Channel 9 
Source: Supplied

An experienced pilot died when the aircraft he was flying on its maiden flight crashed in northern NSW yesterday. 

Respected pilot and small business owner Wayne Fisher, 62, was flying an owner-built RV-12 kit plane when it crashed moments after take-off at Lismore airport about 9.50am.

It is understood Mr Fisher was testing the plane for someone else when it went into a dive at 300ft.

"(He) hit the ground after reaching only a couple hundred feet in the air," Northern Rivers Aero Club chief flying instructor Bill Kiernan said. "If you can imagine a head-on car crash, it's similar."

A NSW Fire and Rescue spokesman said the aircraft was completely destroyed by fire. Mr Fisher's friends said he was a well-respected expert pilot who could "do things with aeroplanes other people couldn't".

"It's scary when this happens to a pilot who is so good and so experienced," a friend from Ballina said.

"Something catastrophic must have happened."

Mr Fisher owned Lismore-based company Spectrum Aviation and his website boasts he had flown ultralights for more than 30 years as a pilot and instructor and holds an aerobatic rating.

Police are investigating the crash and will prepare a report on the accident for the coroner.


 A pilot with more than 30 years flying experience has been killed after the Vans RV-12 aircraft he was taking on a test flight crashed in the state’s north.  

Wayne Fisher, 62, was killed instantly when the plane crashed shortly after take-off at Lismore Airport at 8.50am on Sunday.

No one else was on-board the plane, which police said was on its maiden test flight.

Vans RV-12 was approved to fly on Friday and it’s owner was reportedly watching by the runway as the incident unfolded.

Witnesses said the aircraft was involved in a high speed collision with the ground.

"It’s got about about 100 metres into the air before it collided with the ground and killing the pilot instantly," Acting Inspector Virginia Szaak said. "The weather conditions ... are quite clear and favourable for flying."

Mr Fisher was the owner and operator of Spectrum Aviation, a Lismore company that maintained ultralights and also taught others how to fly.

It was established in 1989, and in that time Mr Fisher worked on the construction of more than 230 of the aircraft.

He worked out of a large hangar at Lismore Airport and was also a member of the Northern Rivers Aero Club.

Friends and colleagues have paid their respects to Mr Fisher on aviation forums. "An Icon has been lost. My heart is ripped at the moment," one posted.

Another said: "One of our sports' founding originals, and just a real nice bloke. Can't believe he’s gone."

UPDATE: 3PM Image gallery from crash site by Northern Star photographer, Cathy Adams

UPDATE: 11.25am:  Relieving Duty Officer Acting Inspector Virginia Szaak of Richmond local area command has confirmed that one man has died in the crash. 

"About nine o'clock, an aircraft on its maiden flight has taken off from Lismore airport. It got about 100m into the air and it collided with the ground, killing the pilot instantly," Acting Insp Szaak said. 

She said at this point they could confirm that the person on board the RV-12 was a local Lismore man who was an experienced pilot associated with the Northern Rivers Aero Club. 

Acting Insp Szaak said that they were currently trying to establish a next of kin and that investigations were continuing.

9.45am, Sunday March 24:

Police have confirmed that this morning, shortly before 9am, a light plane has crashed at Lismore Airport.

Emergency Services are on the scene extinguishing flames.


An experienced pilot has died in a light plane crash in northern NSW.

The man died when the RV-12 owner built aircraft crashed at Lismore Airport about 9.50am. There were no other passengers on board.

A NSW Fire and Rescue spokesman said the aircraft was completely destroyed by fire, with three fire crews and a Rural Fire Service crew extinguishing the flames by 10.30am.

Recreational Aviation Australia (RAA) president Steve Runciman said it was too early to establish the cause of the crash, but the man was an experienced pilot. He said the plane was a private charter, and RAA investigators would assist police with their inquiries.

"I'm sure I speak on behalf of all our members in saying our thoughts are with his family and friends,'' Mr Runciman said.

Police said the airport is closed to all air traffic as Lismore detectives, the Aviation Support Branch, and aviation specialists investigate the crash.


Police will prepare a report for the Coroner after a man died in a light plane crash in the State’s north.

Shortly before 9am today (Sunday 24 March 2013), a light plane crashed at Lismore Airport.

The male pilot of the aircraft died at the scene.

There were no passengers on the plane.

The airport is closed to all air traffic and emergency services are on the scene.

Lismore detectives are at the site investigating the crash, assisted by the Aviation Support Branch, and aviation specialists.

Skydive site owner: Men didn't deploy parachutes

MIAMI (AP) - The co-owner of a facility where two Icelandic men died while skydiving says they did not deploy their main parachutes. 

T.K. Hayes of Skydive City in Zephyrhills says the men's equipment appeared to be working properly, although authorities are still investigating.

Automatic devices with backup chutes were activated and the devices were out of their containers, but Hayes says they didn't have time to inflate before impact.

The Pasco County sheriff's office identified the victims as 41-year-old instructor Orvar Arnarson and 25-year-old Andrimar Pordarson. The men jumped separately and were part of a group of about 12 from Iceland who visit annually.

The men did not return from their third jump of the day Saturday morning, setting off an hours-long investigation.

Their bodies were found in the woods near the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport.

 ZEPHYRHILLS – A daylong search for two missing skydivers ended with the discovery of their bodies Saturday night in a wooded area south of the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport.

The bodies of both skydivers, an instructor and a student, were found near each other in a wooded area off Yonkers Road, according to Pasco County sheriff's officials. They were spotted during an aerial search after having disappeared following a jump Saturday morning.

The men, both from Iceland, were a "very experienced" instructor who has done thousands of jumps and a student who was on his eighth skydive, said David T.K. Hayes, manager of Skydive City in Zephyrhills.

The missing jumpers were on a fully loaded plane of 22 skydivers who headed out amid conditions that were "on the windy side," Hayes said.

Jumpers who left the plane before and after the missing skydivers all made it to the ground safely, he said.

The group took off about 10 a.m. and Hayes said he notified authorities of the duo's absence about noon.

"When I get two hours into this, I'm calling the police," Hayes said. "I've been doing this 17 years and I've never had anyone missing for more than two hours."

The skydive center dispatched four searchers, including a person on the ground who specializes in "canopy hunting" – looking for skydivers' parachutes in trees and on land.

By mid-afternoon, searchers had combed areas about one mile to the south and southeast, Hayes said. They were looking in the area of a quarry as well as locations near the Hillsborough River. Searchers also investigated a privately owned 10,000-acre site south of Skydive City but found no one.

Initially, Skydive City searched using a skydiving plane – a De Havilland Otter – as well as a Cessna and two other private aircraft, said Ryan Lee, a Skydive City pilot.

"Thirty minutes (of searching) goes by, and then it goes to the next level of response," Lee said.

Video taken by other jumpers who left the plane before and after the missing skydivers was reviewed to see if it could provide clues about where to search. The men were not doing a tandem jump and Pasco County sheriff's deputies were uncertain Saturday whether their parachutes ever opened, agency spokeswoman Melanie Snow said.

The Sheriff's Office searched with a helicopter and deputies on all-terrain vehicles Saturday evening in a widespread area mostly south of Zephyrhills Municipal Airport, according to Snow.

One of the skydivers was wearing a white jumpsuit. The other was wearing a white and black jumpsuit. One of their parachutes is green and white, while the other one is blue and grey. 

ZEPHYRHILLS -- The bodies of two skydivers who were missing for hours have been found in a wooded area south of the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport just off Yonkers Road, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said today.

 Deputies searched for more than four hours before finding the bodies of an instructor and a student, which were near each other.  The bodies were found about 7:30 p.m., the sheriff's office said.

The two men, who were with a group of 20 others, jumped at about 10:30 a.m. No one knows if their parachutes opened, authorities said.

Everybody who jumped before and after the pair made it safely to the ground, said T.K. Hayes, co-owner of Skydive City.

Hayes said in the 17 years he has been in the business, he never has known anyone to go missing for more than a couple of hours.

"We're just mystified by the whole thing," he said before the bodies were found.

Deputies searched by air and on the ground for the men.

The two men jumped separately, authorities said. Their names are not being released pending notification of next of kin.

Hercules captain is to be part of history: For nine years Captain Tim Pembrey flew troops, people and freight around the world on the workhorse of the Royal Air Force

He looks back on his time flying the Hercules C130 Mk3 as the best years of his life.

Captain Pembrey, 62, left the service in 1987, and his old aircraft was the last of its kind when it was decommissioned in 2011.

Fat Albert, as the Hercules was know, became a permanent exhibit at RAF Cosford, and this week she was reunited with her old pilot when Captain Pembrey was invited to share his memories for a new documentary, commissioned by the museum, which will tell the story of the Hercules and its importance aviation history.

Captain Pembrey is one of 17 former members of aircrew set to be interviewed about their experiences on board.

The ex-pilot, who now lives in Crawley, West Sussex, sat back at the controls to be interviewed and spoke of his experiences during three tours.

He said: “I spent 18 years in the RAF. I spent nine wonderful years flying Hercules all over the world.

“I have many fond memories of flying this lovely old bird which we affectionately called Fat Albert. It was undoubtedly the best flying of my long aviation career.”

Back in the cockpit, the married father of two said: “It is wonderful to be back. Sitting in this seat brings back so many memories.

“She was part of the transport fleet.

“The logistics and transport of any war are as important as the weapons.

“She was quite a reliable beast. There are so many memories and good times. We had a fabulous time in the squadron. I am very proud to have been part of that piece of history.”

Read more here:

Push on to turn Southern California airspace into drone test range

RIVERSIDE — Business and military interests are pressing for much of Southern California’s airspace to be declared a test range for drone aircraft, it was reported Saturday.

The UTSanDiego newspaper and website reported that the boost is coming from the San Diego Military Advisory Council and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation. They report that 7,135 are directly or indirectly employed by drone makers in San Diego County.

The proposed drone test zone would extend from Edwards Air Force Base, just north of Lancaster, west to the Pacific Ocean and south to the Mexican border, UTSan Diego reported. Most of Riverside County could be in the proposed zone.

It is intended to give an economic boost to a cluster of drone manufacturers in San Diego, including Northrup Grumman in Rancho Bernardo and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems in Poway, UTSanDiego reported. Northrup Grumman also has a large droneworks near Lancaster.

The FAA plans to create six test zones in the U.S. as it seeks technology and operational advances to integrate pilotless aircraft into the U.S. airspace.

About 40 applications have been filed from across the country from localities anxious to host the drone test areas.

The Navy has already announced plans to base unmanned spy planes for international intelligence gathering at Point Mugu, west of Malibu.

UTSanDiego quoted the ACLU as warning that current privacy laws are not strong enough to protect Americans against unreasonable surveillance.

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First Person to Shoot Down Drone Will Be a 'Hero,' Industry Worries: With public down on drones, industry worries citizens will try to crash unmanned police aircraft

The domestic drone industry has an image problem that's gotten so bad that they worry the public might try to shoot down unmanned aircraft used by law enforcement, proponents of the technology said at an industry meeting in Arlington, Va., Thursday.

"There's a pervasive belief that these are going to be used to spy—this is what our country is thinking, it's what they're being told, it's what they're assuming and seeing in the media," Steve Ingley, executive director of the Airborne Law Enforcement Association, said Thursday. "At this point, the first person who shoots down a [drone] will be a hero."

Ingley says the advent of companies such as the Oregon-based Domestic Drone Countermeasures—which plans to sell a box that makes drones "unable to complete their missions" without shooting them down—indicates that the public misunderstands what law enforcement wants to use unmanned aircraft for.

It's a sentiment that has been expressed before—conservative commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano said on Fox News last year that "the first American patriot that shoots down one of these drones that comes too close to his children in his backyard will be an American hero."

Though no law enforcement drones have been shot down in American skies, there have been several reports of citizens downing private or hobbyist drones. Last year, an animal rights group drone that was monitoring a "pigeon shoot" near a South Carolina shooting club was shot by members of the club.

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Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport (KBUY), Burlington, North Carolina: Taking flight

Last year, the Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport was focused on rolling out a runway extension that economic development leaders hoped would make the airport more of a draw for businesses looking to locate in Burlington.

The runway was completed in December. This year the airport looks to expand its terminal and parking — both for planes and vehicles — to better accommodate the increasing number of professionals flying into Burlington.

And hopefully, attract even more.

The $21 million runway extension included building a culvert for Gunn Creek, and took the runway from 5,000feet to 6,405 feet.  The runway was also strengthened to accommodate planes as heavy and large as a Boeing 737, though the airport hasn’t had one of those land there yet, said Dan Danieley, director of Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport.

“It’s a matter of being able to accommodate whoever, whenever,” he said. “It’s an economic development engine.”

Danieley said when Mac Williams, president of the Alamance County Area Chamber of Commerce, is trying to recruit new businesses to the area, one of the first things he’s asked is whether Alamance County has an airport.

“Almost all businesses own, or charter, or have shares in some type of aircraft,” Danieley said.

Williams used to have to say “no” when asked that question, but now the county’s airport can accommodate them, with not only its new runway but also additional hangar space.

Danieley said airport traffic consists mostly of corporate jets, but the Marine Corps also practices takeoffs and landings there, and some Elon students are being flown in at the beginning of the school years on their parents’ corporate jets.

Over the past few years, Danieley said, the airport has built two more buildings with 10 hangars in each.

“They’re full. We’re planning to build another set of 10 this year,” six of which are already spoken for,  Danieley said.

On Tuesday, Danieley introduced to Burlington’s City Council the next phase for the airport. “It’s time to move on and build a new terminal facility,” he said.

Danieley said the airport is about to close on about 60 acres being sold by nearby landowners, which would mean extra space for a new terminal, additional aircraft apron space, parking and more hangars.

“This would afford us the space for what we need today, and space for what we need for many years to come,” he said.

Danieley said the current aircraft parking apron is too small for the amount of traffic the airport is seeing. “Aircraft take up a lot of space (with) their wingspan,” he said. Currently,  the space can handle seven medium-sized jets, or two to three larger ones like the Embraer 145 used by Elon University’s basketball teams.

And, Danieley said, the terminal building itself is too small, at about 3,000 square feet. A draft plan drawn up by The Wilson Group Architects and Talbert & Bright Aviation Consultants includes a new building at about 8,000 square feet, and a larger parking lot.

“We have hardly any automobile parking now,” said Danieley. “We’ve dealt with that for several years.”

He said the existing terminal wouldn’t be abandoned, but could possibly be used for flight school training or another airport use.

As far as a timeline, Danieley said, “It’ll be a several year thing, just like this runway job was.”

In planning for the  future, part of the runway extension included paving a special taxiway at the end, connecting the runway to the site being considered for Honda Aero’s service center.

Currently, Honda Aero Inc. is adjacent to the airport, and has a production site for the GE Honda HF120 engine used by HondaJet in its aircraft. The Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport has made preparations for a service center to move in, once GE Honda Aero Engines decides on a location for the center.

Mel Solomon, marketing manager for GE Honda Aero Engines, explained since GE Honda Aero Engines is a joint venture of Honda Aero, Inc. and GE Aviation, both parties have to agree on the service center’s location.

“They’re a 50/50 ownership,” he said.

Solomon said the main purpose of establishing that joint venture is to make the GE Honda HF120 engine available and marketable to the aircraft industry. “Currently, HondaJet is a large customer for this venture,” but Honda Aero had previously been contracted to build engines for Spectrum Aviation Services.

And, there’s the potential for GE Honda Aero Engines to pick up additional contracts. “We have been in discussion with other aircraft original equipment manufacturers,” or airframe companies, Solomon said.

Though the production site in Burlington isn’t assembling any engines — but it will soon.

Solomon said the Burlington site lacks a Federal Aviation Administration production certificate, so the HF120 engines are initially being assembled at a GE Aviation facility in Lynn, Mass. Then, production will transition to Honda Aero in Burlington, with its own FAA production certificate.

There are already 41 people employed at the location, and the company expects 65 by the year’s third quarter,  Danieley said.

The GE Honda Aero Engines service center would provide “a whole slew of after-market support,” and would also be managed by GE Honda Aero Engines, said Solomon. He added that no official decision has been made to build on the Burlington site.

 “It’s in the evaluation process.” Solomon said, “There are other candidates we’ll have to look at.”

Danieley said that part of the 2007 agreements the Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport made with Honda Aero was to provide that taxiway connection to the considered service site, and the airport has met those obligations.

When asked if that was a draw to GE Honda Aero Engines, Solomon said he wouldn’t call it a “draw” but, “It definitely enhances the candidacy attractiveness of Burlington for a service facility.”

He added, “Honda sees a bright future for that area.”

Story and Photo:

SMALL-BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: Wings Aviation and Epic Limo: Porter County Regional Airport (KVPZ), Valparaiso, Indiana

Kyle Telechan, The Times
Brian Sheely, owner of Epic Limo and Wings Aviation, cleans spark plugs in his businesses' hangar at the Porter County Regional Airport.

VALPARAISO | Wings Aviation has taken flight since owner Brian Sheely launched the business out of the trunk of his car. 

 The aviation service company, based out the Porter County Regional Airport, now has room for 18 to 20 planes in the 25,000-square-foot building that encompasses two hangars and office space.

“We provide maintenance for private- and corporate-owned aircraft. We can help source pilots and put people in touch with who they need to be,” he said. “We have a small pilot shop and if someone is new to aviation, we can help them along the way. We do buy and sell aircrafts and rent space for storage.”

Sheely was exposed to the world of aviation through his parents, Jim Sheely and Ann Bogda, who are both in the industry. Jim Sheely owned Air International where Brian worked as a teen and over the years between serving in the Army.

“I worked at my dad’s aircraft charter company washing airplanes and doing line service, which is fueling the planes. (In later years) I worked in maintenance and the office so I learned both sides of the business,” Brian said.

The timing was right for his opening his own company when he returned from Iraq and his father’s company had closed.

“Customers knew me from being in aviation, and they wanted me to continue to work on their airplanes. I was working out of the trunk of my car and soon I had enough work where I started looking for a place to rent my own space,” he said.

Brian has built on his experience to open a second business. Epic Limo is also based out of the airport and now has six vehicles including a party bus, sedan and stretch limousines.

“I have always wanted to be in business for myself. When I was younger, I didn’t want to be an (airplane) mechanic, but I had the talent for it and it paid the bills and allowed me to grow. (In 2011,) we were far enough along to have the stability and I felt like I was able to do something beyond aviation, and I have the background as a luxury transportation provider,” he said.

Beyond bridal and bachelorette parties, he is able to connect with customers through his aviation business as airplane owners still use the airlines and may need rides to the larger airports. He also can provide ground transportation to those flying into the airport.

Brian hopes to expand both businesses in the future, including an artistic component.

“For Epic Limo, we are building our base as we are the new kids in town and we are looking to base vehicles in other cities,” he said. “For Wings Aviation, we are always trying to add new services for our customers, and I am working with a friend on putting together aviation art from salvaged aircraft pieces – unique stuff.”

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Cirrus Aircraft's new owner refuels with jet launch and hiring

Cirrus Aircraft’s new owner prepares to launch a single-engine jet and beefs up its hiring in Duluth.

Duluth – Stuck in a dead-end job, former Navy mechanic Jessie Gilley and his wife recently packed up their Florida home, put guinea pigs Bumper and Rikki in the back seat and drove 31 hours to Duluth, where a dream engineering job awaited him at Cirrus Aircraft.

“When you have an opportunity to work for a company like Cirrus, you just don’t say no,” Gilley said.

After years of tough times, Cirrus is seeing better days. Gilley is just one of 65 new hires, and the company needs 115 more. “We’d take them all tomorrow if we could find them,” said Judi Eltgroth, Cirrus’ vice president of human resources.

The influx of fresh faces hints at Cirrus’ comeback from the Great Recession, which hammered Minnesota’s lone aircraft manufacturer. Sales of its four-seat propeller airplanes dropped 65 percent to 253 planes last year, as the private aircraft industry was in free fall. Employment at the company plummeted from 1,380 in 2008 to 500 last year.

“We were very nervous. It was far beyond nervous,” said CEO and co-founder Dale Klapmeier.

New ownership, however, is fueling the company’s aspirations to be the first to put a single-engine jet on the market. China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. bought Cirrus in June 2011 and will be investing an estimated $100 million into Cirrus’ six-year plan to make and sell light, single-engine jets.

“It’s exciting,” Klapmeier said. “It’s fun to be thinking about the future and what we can do, rather than thinking about life as survival.”

Called Vision SF50, Cirrus’ seven-passenger jet will cost just under $2 million, the company estimates. The aircraft features a funky V-shaped tail and a 500-pound engine that sits on the roof of the fuselage. Yes, on the roof.

Klapmeier says the aircraft is easy for novices to learn to fly. It weighs less than a typi­cal twin-engine jet and will cost about half as much. The target market? Corporations, international flight schools, charter companies, entrepreneurs, doctors and other high-net-worth individuals.

Mark Duell, operations vice president at flight tracking firm Flight Aware, said that Cirrus just might do what others couldn’t. Competitors such as Piper, Diamond Aircraft, and Eclipse Aviation all suspended plans for similar jets, making Cirrus “pretty much the only serious single-engine jet maker left,” Duell said.

“They have a much better chance now than when there were four different companies going forward with a similar product,” he said. “I don’t mean to be too skeptical, but getting a new plane program up and certified is incredibly tough.”

So far, the $100,000 deposits placed for the new jet — plus improving sales of Cirrus’ traditional four-seater SR-20 and SR-22 planes — have Klapmeier believing that the company could reach profitability by the end of this year and deliver its first single-engine jet by 2015.

“With new investors, there is plenty of money to get the project done and to get the staffing and equipment needed,” Duell said. “There are other aviation projects we see languish on paper for years and years. But it looks like Cirrus is not doing that.”

Once in production, jet sales could reach $100 million in its first year and $300 million in year two, Klapmeier said recently during an interview at Cirrus’ spacious conference room on the edge of the Duluth airport. The headquarters is four miles from Lake Superior and just across the runway from the Northwest Airlines maintenance hangar that recently got its own second lease on life thanks to a new contract in which AAR Corp. will service Air Canada planes. (The hangar was once used by Cirrus, but it abandoned that lease with the recession’s mean times.)

During a recent visit to Cirrus, workers scrambled, installing new robotics and rearranging the plant. “It’s a lot more fun to be around here now, when we are growing,” said lead airframe engineer Patrick Bergen as he strolled past rows of milky-white SR-22 fuselage-hulls awaiting the next step on the production line.

In a corner of the 300,000- square-foot factory, new hires Mike Appleton and Lee Williams bonded wingless fuselages. Nearby, workers rolled massive wings into a curing room. In the back, Joe Kurgs and Gordy Larson used skinny yellow towbars and hearty grips to yank aqua-colored SR-22s toward the hangar door. Equipped with propellers, doors and fresh paint, the sparkling beauties were each ready for a test flight before final delivery.

With SR-22 production hopping, Bergen’s crew is also making room for the jet on the factory floor. The jet, which will be made of black carbon fiber that is stronger than fiberglass, has inspired cash and faith, and lots of cross-country moves.

Twin Cities natives Craig and Rachel Clough were living in Michigan when they decided to move to be closer to family in Minnesota. They heard that Cirrus was hiring, but its tough times were no secret. Still the couple grilled friends who worked there, friends who had been laid off, and decided that Cirrus was regaining its footing.

In August, they packed up a newborn and toddler and quit good-paying factory jobs in Michigan for a chance to make history in Duluth. “I saw this as an opportunity to get into a company with a really cool product,” said Craig, who was hired to handle IT support services for the jet program.

He joined at the right time. Today, Cirrus is dangling some interesting perks to boost hiring. Employees can learn how to fly an airplane, and they get supplier discounts on Microsoft, Garmin, Fastenal and AT&T products. They can also earn $250 to $2,500 just for referring a friend who ultimately gets hired.

Meanwhile, Cirrus’ Eltgroth is scouring for more engineers, mechanics, designers and technicians. The task isn’t easy, she says, but it’s a lot better than issuing pink slips: “I’ll take this any day over those very dark times.”


Bombardier CSeries will miss Paris Air Show: Plane maker wants to finish testing aircraft before jetliner's first flight

Bombardier Inc. will forgo displaying its CSeries at the Paris Air Show in June in order to finish testing before the jetliner's first flight the same month, Chief Executive Officer Pierre Beaudoin said.

The world's third-largest plane maker reiterated its commitment to that timetable in a presentation to investors Thursday in New York. The goal is already six months later than Bombardier originally planned, a delay the company attributed to unspecified issues with suppliers.

"We plan to fly in June, but to go to an air show with an experimental airplane would take at least a month away from our flight-test program because we'd have to prepare it to go," Beaudoin said in an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York.

"That's not the kind of expense that makes sense for investors in Bombardier."

The air show, held at Paris-Le Bourget Airport near the French capital, is the year's largest aviation and aerospace industry trade event. Customers such as airlines and lessors ordered more than 1,400 aircraft when it was last held in 2011.

The CSeries, with a $3.4-billion development program, will be Bombardier's largest jet, capable of seating as many as 160 people and competing with the smallest jets produced by Airbus SAS and Boeing Co. The first flight-test craft was shown to reporters and investors two weeks ago at the company's Mirabel plant.

"The notion of flying across the Atlantic just to showcase it didn't make much sense," Walter Spracklin, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in Toronto, said in a telephone interview.

"By the time of the air show, they will have just gotten the aircraft in the air, if that."

The CSeries isn't the only new jet that won't be making an appearance at the air show. Airbus's new A350 wide-body plane likewise won't make its first flight by then, Thomas Enders, CEO of Airbus parent European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co., said two weeks ago.

"A better assessment is probably summer, July or August," Enders told reporters at a briefing in New York on March 7.

Beaudoin reiterated Thursday Bombardier's expectation that the CSeries will contribute $5 billion to $8 billion annually in new revenue starting in 2018.

Altogether, the Montreal-based manufacturer said new products are expected to yield additional sales of as much as $16 billion - almost doubling its 2012 revenue of $16.8 billion.

Bombardier has racked up 180 firm orders for the CSeries so far, and the company is on track to meet a goal of 300 by the time the plane enters service in mid-2014, the CEO said.

The CSeries will cost about 15 per cent less to operate and burn about 20 per cent less fuel than existing competitors, Bombardier has said.

The plane will feature composite materials and the new geared turbofan engine from United Technologies Corp.'s Pratt & Whitney.

The smaller CS100 model, with about 100 to 125 seats, sells for a list price of $62 million, while the CS300, which will carry 135 to 160 people, sells for $71 million, though airlines typically negotiate discounts.

"When you sell before the first flight, the customers want discounts because they're taking a risk, and there's only so much discount we're willing to give," Beaudoin said.

"The first people who come to the CSeries are obviously getting a better price, but at some point, we have to say it's enough, and then we'll sell on the demonstrated merits of the product."

Bombardier expects setting prices to remain "challenging" for "probably another year or two," Guy Hachey, president of Bombardier's aerospace unit, told investors at the presentation.

As the company moves forward with the CSeries, Airbus and Boeing are developing reworked versions of their own narrow-body planes, the 737 Max and the A320neo, which will be powered by more fuel-efficient engines.

Bombardier said last year it expects that 6,900 aircraft seating 100 to 149 people will be delivered globally between 2012 and 2031.

Besides the 180 firm orders, Bombardier also has commitments for at least 200 CSeries jetliners.

"We know an airplane will have a long life and better residual value if it has wide distribution of its customers across the world, and many customers," Beaudoin said.

"So it's important for us to get landmark names in terms of airlines, but also to get many airlines in different countries."

Delivery slots for the CSeries are sold out for 2014 and 2015 and "almost" sold out for 2016, Hachey said.


Alva Regional Airport (KAVK), Oklahoma: Airport Manager's Report -Greg Murray

Published on March 13, 2013 

Monthly report of activity at Alva Regional Airport (KAVK), Oklahoma

Grand Forks, North Dakota: City leader quits posts after clash with Cirrus Aircraft

GRAND FORKS - While Grand Forks city leaders say City Council member Doug Christensen’s resignation from several key leadership roles is an opportunity to move past a recent controversy, they applaud the longtime leader’s record.

Christensen resigned as president of the Jobs Development Authority, chairman of its Growth Fund Committee and chairman of the council’s Finance and Urban Development Committee at a meeting Tuesday.

Council member Dana Sande, who serves on all three bodies, was appointed to Christensen’s leadership positions.

Christensen, who was first elected in 2000 and re-elected to a four-year term in June, will remain on the council and continue to serve as its vice president. He did not return a call seeking comments Wednesday.

His controversial handling of a Growth Fund meeting involving Cirrus Aircraft appeared to be the reason behind his resignation, according to several city leaders.

“I think Grand Forks had gotten some backlash from the Cirrus loans discussion,” Sande said Wednesday. “Whether Doug was right or wrong, I think he wanted to put the city first. I think it was quite selfless on his part.”

The committee met March 5 to consider a $950,000 loan requested by Duluth-based Cirrus Aircraft, which has a factory in Grand Forks. Christensen questioned the company’s ability to meet its financial obligations to the city, which includes rent and prior debt. Cirrus executive William King said the tone amounted to an attack on the company’s integrity. He also accused the committee of divulging confidential financial information. 

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Air India: Burst tires on landing at Mohanbari Airport

Two tires of an Air India flight from Kolkata to Dibrugarh burst while landing at the Mohanbari airport in Assam's Dibrugarh district today, but all the 90 passengers on board were safe, airports authority sources said.

After the flight landed at 12:15 pm two tires of the Boeing aircraft were found punctured, the sources said.

As there was no facility at the airport for repair of the tires, engineers from Kolkata were flown to Dibrugarh for rectifying the problem, they said.

The flight scheduled to leave at 12:45 pm took off for Kolkata via Dimapur only at 3:30 pm.

Conshohocken, Pennsylvania: Helicopter Takes Off From New Helipad

March 22nd, 2013 

We started hearing this morning that there was a helicopter on the new helipad yesterday and this morning.  According to my sources, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a temporary license and the full license is expected soon.  The above photo was taken by one of our sources yesterday.

See something around town you believe is newsworthy or just interesting?  Send the info and a photo if possible to


ANA to delay retirement of Boeing 747, 3 others due to 787 grounding

All Nippon Airways Co. will delay the retirement of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet and three smaller aircraft due to the grounding of its 787 Dreamliner fleet, its officials said Saturday.

ANA initially planned to retire the 747 in April and the three other planes, Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 jets, between March and May, but the move will be now postponed to June or later, the officials said.

The four aircraft are currently being used for domestic services due to the global grounding of all Boeing Dreamliners following battery problems. The number of 787 cancellations will reach 3,601 through the end of May, according to ANA.

The airline is also seeking to introduce three Boeing 777 jets earlier than planned to minimize the impact of its grounded Dreamliners. ANA had originally intended to introduce them in fiscal 2013, which starts April 1, but one of the aircraft is scheduled for delivery by the end of March.

Fayette County Airport Authority names airport manager: Joseph A. Hardy/Connellsville Airport (KVVS), Connellsville, Pennsylvania

DUNBAR TWP. — A Fayette County resident, pilot and tenant at the Joseph A. Hardy/Connellsville Airport will be the new manager of the facility.

In a 3-2 vote on Wednesday, the Fayette County Airport Authority board of directors hired John “Bud” Neckerauer as its manager at an annual salary of $42,000, effective immediately.

“He was the best qualified,” said Matt Thomas, board vice-president following a lengthy executive session to discuss the matter.

According to Thomas, Neckerauer is employed by a trucking firm headquartered in Minnesota.

Thomas said that Neckerauer and two other unidentified candidates were interviewed by him and board member Sam Cortis earlier in the week. The three were among 12 candidates submitting resumes for the position.

“All three met our qualifications,” he said.

Thomas said that he would not disclose why Neckerauer was chosen over the other two candidates, only stating that he was “best suited” for the position. When asked if he had any managerial experience, Thomas reiterated that he “would not” discuss his qualifications. The other two candidates were not identified.

Neckerauer is expected to begin his duties Monday.

In addition to Thomas and Cortis, board Chairman Fred Davis supported the hiring, with board members Myrna Giannopolus and Jesse Wallace casting no votes to the action.

Neckerauer replaces Mary Lou Fast, who agreed to a layoff in January.

In addition to becoming acclimated to the position, Neckerauer will also have to aid the board in determining the financial condition of the airport.

According to a financial report offered by Giannopolus, board secretary, who has overseen the day-to-day business at the airport since Fast’s departure, the authority has several overdue invoices, including a nearly $8,000 bill owed to its auditing firm.

When questioned by Davis about the purported financial shortfall, Giannopolus responded that while she was handling some of the daily duties, she was “not familiar” with the authority accounts and had made some payments to avoid utility shutoffs.

“There has been a lot of stuff that came in that I didn’t know what to do with,” she said.

During a heated discussion, Giannopolus defended her attempts to handle office duties and criticized the other board members for not taking any responsibility.

“I never ran an airport before,” she said. “None of you came in and even said ‘hello’ or ask how I was doing.”

Board member Jesse Wallace defended Giannopolus.

“She doesn’t have to answer to any of us,” he said.

Following the meeting, Davis, Thomas and Cortis admitted that as a board they were responsible for the financial condition of authority but were not familiar with the finances.

Pointing to a financial statement, Davis said it showed overdue bills dating back to October.

“There has apparently been a problem for some time,” he said.

Cortis said that he would be contacting McClure and Wolfe of Uniontown, the authority’s accountants, and request an immediate audit.

“I do not believe there is any money missing,” he said. “No one has stolen any money. We do have money, we just don’t know where it is at and that’s why we will be requesting an audit.”

Davis said that an audit completed in 2012 of 2011 figures, showed no discrepancies.

Turning to another staffing matter, the board approved the hiring of a data entry/bookkeeper.

In a 3-2 vote, the board agreed to use local agencies to secure a knowledgeable person to “get the finances in order.”

“An audit and getting our finances in order will help us get on track,” said Davis.

Davis, Thomas and Cortis agreed to the hiring with Wallace and Giannopolus casting no votes to the action.

In other business, the board named Giannopolus as the open records officer.

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Okaloosa County, Florida: District looks at how to sustain, expand aviation institute (DOCUMENT)

FORT WALTON BEACH — Monica Mammah loves planes.

She tried to consider other careers, but ultimately she knew her place was in the sky and set her sights on exploring it in college.

Then the Tampa resident came up to Fort Walton Beach for her best friend’s graduation from Choctawhatchee High School and learned about the aviation institute housed there.

“I thought, ‘Wow, this is exactly what I need,’ ” she said. “Fate brought me here.”

After thinking it through, she decided to jumpstart her career and moved to Fort Walton Beach to live with her best friend’s parents so she could enroll in the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Aviation Institute at Choctaw.

“It’s crazy that we have that level at high school,” said the 16-year-old, who hopes to attend the Air Force Academy and become a pilot.

While Monica’s story might be one of the more extreme since Okaloosa County started the aviation institute a decade ago, it illustrates exactly why one high school principal made it her mission to establish and then maintain it in spite of challenges through the years.

Today, the future direction of that program is uncertain and a principal and district are struggling with how best to keep it viable.

View a photo gallery of the institute. >>

Finding that spark

School board vice-chairwoman Cindy Frakes has always been a firm supporter of the aviation institutes at both Choctaw and Crestview high schools.

They’re a perfect fit for an area with two Air Force bases and have helped boost some students from average to extraordinary, Frakes said.

One student, for example, entered into the program with a 1.5 GPA. Rather than fail or quit, the student continued with the program and recently completed a master’s degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) in Daytona, she said.

“Sometimes, you just hit a spark,” Frakes said.

But various concerns have caused them to consider contracting with new universities twice in the past three years.

The board ended its long-term relationship with ERAU Daytona in the summer of 2010 after they were unable to reach an agreement on costs.

At the time, they opted to go with another branch of the college called Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide, which had three local campuses: at Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field and in Crestview.

But it’s been a rough three years, and the board is once again looking into other options after seeing declining enrollment and issues with students passing certification tests they used to soar through, Frakes said.

“The program just went away,” Frakes said. “I don’t know what happened to it.”

Originally the board had considered going back into contract discussions with officials in Daytona, but during a recent board meeting they opted to give Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson leeway to negotiate a contract with the university she deems to be the best fit, whether that is one of the Embry-Riddle campuses or another one entirely, Frakes said.

View the contracts from 2004-07 »

View the contracts from 2008-2012 »

One thing is certain, though: The board is not ready to give up on the program that essentially started it all in Okaloosa County.

“To just throw it into the corner and have cobwebs grow on it is just wrong,” Frakes said.

The beginning

The aviation institute at Choctaw is one of the oldest CHOICE programs in the district.

It was conceived by the newly appointed principal Cindy Gates after she started looking for a program to propel her students well into their futures by high school graduation.

After attending countless meetings, and finding out where the jobs were, she opted to go forward with an aerospace program.

“What I knew was it fit in our community,” she said. “It all came back to aviation and engineering every time you turned around.”

With the Okaloosa County School Board and then-Superintendent Don Gaetz behind her, she established a relationship with one of the best-known aviation schools: ERAU Daytona.

The program not only provided students an unheard-of opportunity to explore aviation in high school but also a chance to earn a semester’s worth of college credit.

To help launch the program, Gates brought in a retired Navy commander named Leo Murphy and a former JROTC instructor at the high school named Rick Soria.

Soria, who didn’t meet ERAU’s rigorous standards for instructors, taught the high-school credit courses, while Murphy and other hand-selected instructors taught the college-level courses.

“We had them doing projects, building things,” Soria, who now oversees the Okaloosa STEMM Center, said. “The kids were challenged ... and they loved it.”

Among the students who entered the program that first year was a young man named Josh Daily, who had a passion for aviation.

“The first day I walked in there, I wanted to go to Embry-Riddle,” he said. “I wanted to be in the program.”

It wasn’t easy, by any means, he said, but he never wavered because he knew the work was his ticket into the sky.

“When you’re solving the problem and seeing its application, it’s all a little bit different,” he said.

By the time he graduated, he’d earned as many college credits as promised and was able to graduate from ERAU Daytona in three years.

He’s now working for the Federal Aviation Administration.

A new era

When Ron Garriga walked into Choctaw in August 2010, the aviation program had classrooms and equipment but no personnel. And that was a big problem since school was already in session and both students and parents had expectations about the educational opportunities they would receive.

It would take four weeks to pull together a new program and staff. In the interim, Garriga,the director of academic support for ERAU Worldwide in Fort Walton Beach, taught all the classes. Still, students said they didn’t notice a big difference.

“The quality certainly did not change,” said Derek Watson, who is now a senior and considering attending ERAU Daytona next fall.

Fast-forward three years and the program might not have the enrollment it had in the past, but that’s been deliberate to a point, according to current director Ken Fielder.

They’ve raised the GPA requirements compared to the Daytona model and always require two teacher recommendations for enrollment.

“I’d rather have smaller numbers and a quality classroom environment,” he said.

Students with a GPA of 2.8 or higher can apply to the program. People with lower GPAs might be able to get waivers on a case-by-case basis by proving with other data, such as FCAT scores, that they’re capable of succeeding in the college courses, Fielder said.

“We don’t want to put someone in these classes that isn’t ready for these classes,” Garriga added.

Another challenge has been the lack of interest in the field since careers as a pilot became less lucrative. The goal now, Fielder said, is to raise awareness that aviation is about more than just flying.

Neither Garriga nor Fielder denied that the program has gone through rough patches in the past few years, but they’re hopeful the board will give them another opportunity.

“We want them to know we have our act together, we have our curriculum together,” Garriga said. “They just need to trust us that we know what we’re doing.”

See the cost history and enrollment of the program with Embry Riddle »

 By the second semester of next school year, for example, they plan to offer a course in unmanned aerial vehicles in light of an expected local job trend.

 “We’ve got a plan for the next year,” Fielder said. “We’re buying the books.”

A future with questions

The only certainty right now is that the aviation institutes will not disappear from Okaloosa County.

Jackson is currently drawing up a contract to bring before the board. Her recommendation should appear in another month or so.

She said she couldn’t provide details but that “all the options are on the table.”

The bottom line for her is that the program is still feeding a job need in the area, so it needs to grow.
“If we see a demand, then we know that it is a program we can support,” she said.

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Central Jersey youths take to the skies with Civil Air Patrol

Senior Airman Joseph Kronmaier, a member of Raritan Valley Composite Squadron, sits in the left seat of a Cessna 182, prior to taking on his fourth orientation flight with the Civil Air Patrol from Central Jersey Airport. / Photo Courtesy Constance O'Grady

Eighteen area teens experienced the thrill of aviation recently through orientation fights with the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). The official auxiliary of the United States Air Force at Central Jersey Regional Airport met to train the cadets, who flew a combined two hours in CAP’s sophisticated Cessna 182’s. 

 “It was awesome,” said Senior Airman Joseph Kronmaier, 12, of Manville. “I’ve always anted to fly and today was my fourth time. I got to handle the controls and see what flying is all about.”

The hour-long flights in single engine-engine Cessna aircraft introduced many of the cadets to the science that makes flight possible. The cadets learn navigation, weather, aircraft instruments, flight maneuvers and more. The cadets are entitled to five orientation flights as part of their CAP training in the aircraft and also possibly glider flights. The cadets learn about handling the controls of the aircraft in various maneuvers while flying.

The cadets’ day began by helping pre-flight their aircraft. Working with the orientation pilot taxied their aircraft to the runway, gave it full throttle and took off, climbing to 1,000 feet above ground. While aloft, it was the cadet, sitting in the left seat, who handled the countless controls during the non-critical stages of the flight.

“You really have to pay attention to when you are at the controls,” said Kronmaier, a member of Raritan Valley Composite Squadron, which meets at 7 p.m. Wednesdays at the Central Jersey Regional Airport.

Other cadets participating where the Plainfield Composite Squadron which meets at the Plainfield High School, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays. and Delaware Valley Composite Squadron which meets at the Whitehouse Fire Company, Whitehouse Station, at 7 p.m. Mondays.

The Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program is open to youth ages 12 to 18. There are also volunteer opportunities for adults, pilots and non-pilots like. Interested residents are invited to attend the weekly open meetings. More information also is available at

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Cessna 182P Skylane, T8A182P: Republic of Palau

Published on March 10, 2013 
By Rolynda Jonathan
President Remengesau Jr. has created a special investigative team to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the missing Cessna 182P Skylane and its passengers.

On April 1, 2012, a Cessna 182P Skylane carrying American pilot Frank Ohlinger, and Palauan police officers Willie Mays Towai and Earl Decherong went missing after documenting a Chinese vessel that was set on fire outside of Kayangel State.

The President created the investigative team through a presidential directive saying that the investigation would offer recommendations on how to ensure that similar incidents do not occur again in the future in addition to giving families closure.

Pilot Frank Ohlinger (right)

 Officers Earlee Decherong and Willy Mays Towai

This tragedy is part of a series of events that began when a Kayangel fisherman spotted a suspicious vessel nearby.   After he and other Kayangel officials were unable to confront the foreign fishing boat, Kayangel state governor Edwin Chiokai notified Palau Fish and Wildlife authorities who arrived at dusk to begin tracking the fishing boats in the early morning.

On Saturday, the Marine Law officers went to Kayangel’s conservation area in an attempt to apprehend the Chinese fishermen and their sea vessel.  The fishermen tried to escape, and at one point attempted to ram the police boat.  Police fired at the boat’s engines in an attempt to disable the vessel when a bullet reportedly ricocheted off the engine wounding one of the Chinese fishermen in two places.  The Chinese fisherman later died of blood loss.

The Cessna airplane was sent to assist in the mission and identified the mother ship north of Kayangel.  After being spotted by the plane, the mother ship pulled up anchor and began traveling northwest of Palau, pursued by Palau’s Pacific Patrol Boat Remeliik.  Realizing they could not outrun the patrol boat, the crew of the mother ship set their own ship on fire and got into the two smaller support boats.  The officers on the Remeliik attempted to put out the fire but were unsuccessful.  The ship sank and the crew were arrested and now are being held in the Palau prison.

On Sunday April 1st,  Palau’s Criminal Investigation Officers Earlee Decherong and Willy Mays Towai and Cessna Pilot Frank Ohlinger went on a 2nd “police mission” to photograph the site where the mother ship sank and thereby destroying all the evidence of what was onboard.  OTV was told that  this mission was for the purpose of aerial photography of the “debris” and the ashes of the burned mother ship.