Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Aviation experts speak out about recent plane accidents

CBS4 - WHBF Quad Cities, IL-IA News Weather Sports 

 There are plenty of questions as to why two small planes went down within two weeks, in the Quad Cities area. 

Even though both planes took off from the Davenport Municipal Airport, manager Tom Vesalga says there's no need to worry.

"It just happened to be a coincidence that we had two of them within weeks of each other and the pilots themselves; they did it by the book," he explains.

Last night, a small plane made an emergency landing near 60th and Fairmount Street in Davenport. This comes just ten days after another small prop plane went down in a Cordova cornfield.

While both cases are still under investigation, Vesalga says pilots are trained to handle anything.

"Aviation is still the safest mode of travel," Vesalga adds. "Whether it's for pleasure or business or vacations or whatever - I will always choose an airplane over a car any day."

Vesalga says pilots are taught how to land in a field if they have a problem in the air that they can't solve.

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Cirrus SR22, N960CM: Dennis Hunter turns himself in to authorities

 
Dennis Hunter

BENTON, Ark. (KTHV) - The man who took off in a plane in Saline County has turned himself in. 

 Lt. Scott Courtney with the Saline County Sheriff's Office says that Dennis Hunter, of California, turned himself in Friday afternoon.

He is out on a $150,000 bond.

Authorities were initially called Monday to assist Homeland Security by going to the Saline County Airport to check on a plane that was to arrive. When deputies got there, the plane was fueling up. As deputies approached, the pilot got back in the plane and quickly took off.

The plane was found Tuesday night on a dirt road just outside of Stuttgart.

Lt. Courtney said he doesn't know why the pilot or plane is wanted by the government. As for why he's wanted by federal authorities and how they knew he would refuel in Saline County, investigators tell THV they cannot release any more information at this time.

He is charged with aggravated assault and fleeing. 


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 http://registry.faa.gov/N960CM

Pilot Of Fugitive Plane In Arkansas ID’d  

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has released the name of a pilot they suspect was flying a fugitive plane located in east Arkansas this week.

Dennis Hunter of California was spotted in Saline County, where he touched down in Benton on Monday (April 1) to refuel, but took off as authorities approached, officials said.

The abandoned plane was later found on a remote road 10 miles east of Stuttgart. However, the pilot escaped and ran off into the woods, according to FAA officials.

Jay Watsabaugh of Buffalo, Wyo., told 5NEWS he bought the aircraft in 2001, selling it six months ago to Hunter.

Hunter, owner of GeoPlanter in Petaluma, Calif., could not be reached Tuesday for comment. According to the company’s Twitter account, GeoPlanter makes “breathable pots and planters that Make Plants Happy.”

Watsabaugh said he sold the aircraft to Hunter on eBay for $107,000 but never met him in person. Watsabaugh said Hunter still owes him about $12,000 for the plane.

The aircraft can fly more than 200 mph with a tailwind and hold 1,000 pounds of cargo, Watsabaugh said.

Lt. Scott Courtney with the Saline County Sheriff’s Department said deputies were asked to check the Saline County Regional Airport, also called “Watts Field” Monday for a Cirrus model aircraft.

When deputies arrived on the runway, the plane was fueling up, and when the pilot saw deputies approaching, he jumped back in the single-engine plane and took off.

The suspect and plane were headed to Northwest Arkansas, possibly Fayetteville, according to Lt. Courtney.

Fayetteville police said they received a call at 11:52 p.m. Monday from Lockheed Martin, a company in the aerospace and defense in industries.

“They didn’t give a whole lot of specifics about what they wanted however they did mention to us that if we found it just  notify them and not too approach the plane,” said Sgt. Craig Stout, Fayetteville Police.

Officers searched Drake Field, but were unable to locate the plane.

Fort Smith Police said they received a similar call and also checked the Fort Smith Regional Airport early Tuesday morning.

The Federal Aviation Administration also issued an alert for Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, according to Shain Carter, the airport’s Public Information Officer.

The FAA told police not to search or approach the aircraft if the plane was located, but to instead call FAA investigators immediately.

Source:   http://5newsonline.com


KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports 

ARKANSAS COUNTY (KATV) - A missing plane being flown by a fugitive was found about 15 miles outside of Stuttgart. 

 Department of Correction officials have a dog on the ground to help in the manhunt after the suspect jumped out of the plane and ran away, according to the Arkansas County sheriff's office. The plane was found near Hunt and Boone Hill roads off of Highway 153 near the town of Casscoe.

Officials would not say what the fugitive was charged with or wanted for or what his name is. the Arkansas County sheriff identified him only as a white male with long hair and dark pants who might be barefoot. The Department of Homeland Security would confirm only that the suspect is not from Arkansas.

The only sign they have found of him since the plane crashed in Arkansas County is a sweater in a field they believe to be his.

Saline County Sheriff Bruce Pennington told Channel 7 News that the suspect flew into the Saline County airport Monday night. Deputies tried to arrest him there while he re-fueled but the suspect managed to get back in the air before they could reach him. Sheriff Pennington said the suspect nearly hit one of his deputies during that getaway. The suspect used a credit card for someone out of California. Investigators are not sure if it's his or if it was stolen.

He was not seen again until the plane was found in Arkansas County Tuesday morning.

The Federal Aviation Administration would not confirm if the plane was stolen.

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 http://registry.faa.gov/N960CM










Authorities have located a missing plane from Benton, Ark., law enforcement officials told CNN Tuesday afternoon (April 2).

The aircraft was located 10 miles east of Stuttgart. However, the pilot escaped and ran off into the woods, according to FAA officials.

Jay Watsabaugh of Buffalo, Wyo., told 5NEWS he bought the aircraft in 2001 and sold it six months ago to Dennis Hunter of California. Hunter could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

Lt. Scott Courtney with the Saline County Sheriff’s Department said deputies were asked to check the Saline County Regional Airport, also called “Watts Field” Monday (April 1) for a Cirrus model aircraft.

When deputies arrived on the runway, the plane was fueling up, and when the pilot saw deputies approaching, he jumped back in the single-engine plane and took off.

The suspect and plane were headed to Northwest Arkansas, possibly Fayetteville, according to Lt. Courtney.

Fayetteville police said they received a call at 11:52 p.m. Monday from Lockheed Martin, a company in the aerospace and defense in industries.

“They didn’t give a whole lot of specifics about what they wanted however they did mention to us that if we found it just  notify them and not too approach the plane,” said Sgt. Craig Stout, Fayetteville Police.

Officers searched Drake Field, but were unable to locate the plane.

Fort Smith Police said they received a similar call and also checked the Fort Smith Regional Airport early Tuesday morning.

The Federal Aviation Administration also issued an alert for Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, according to Shain Carter, the airport’s Public Information Officer.

The FAA told police not to search or approach the aircraft if the plane was located, but to instead call FAA investigators immediately.

5NEWS talked to the previous owner of the aircraft, he lives in Wyoming and said he sold it to a man in California six months ago for $107,000.

Story, Video, Reaction/Comments:  http://5newsonline.com

Dubai: American pilot wins suspended punishment for confining friend: Lawyer argues defendant didn’t have criminal intention

Dubai: A pilot, who was accused of confining his female friend in his flat, has won a suspended punishment after his lawyer convinced the court that he didn’t have any criminal intention.

The 28-year-old American pilot had pleaded not guilty and asked for his six-month imprisonment to be overruled when he defended himself before the Dubai Appeal Court.

In February, the Dubai Court of First Instance jailed the pilot for six months after he was convicted of unlawfully confining his 23-year-old Bahraini friend by locking her inside his flat.

“My client did not have any criminal intention. His friend waived her complaint and she even appeared before the court to testify that it was a misunderstanding. No harm was inflicted on the woman and she willingly dropped her complaint. The pilot did not have intention of wrongdoing or breaking the law. On the contrary he is a law-abiding resident,” the American’s advocate Diana Hamade told the appellate court.

However, the Appeal Court’s presiding judge Mahmoud Fahmi Sultan suspended the six-month imprisonment earlier this week.

Last year the Court of First Instance sentenced the defendant in absentia to one year in jail followed by deportation.

The pilot turned himself in, according to the Criminal Procedures law, and requested a retrial. The primary court handed him six months in jail.

The advocate provided the presiding judge with a waiver that was obtained from the Bahraini.

Advocate Hamade argued before the Appeal Court: “The claimant reconciled with the defendant and dropped her complaint. We ask the court to cancel his imprisonment and acquit him. The claimant is my client’s friend and she came to court to drop her complaint in person.”

“The defendant and I are close friends… we reconciled. The confinement did not cause me any injury. When I communicated with the police, I explained that the defendant had had an accident and he wasn’t aware of what he did. I am here to drop my complaint,” stated the Bahraini friend.

Records said the American got angry with his friend when she spoke to him tensely so he locked her for one hour in his flat in Shurouq near Mirdif.

Court records said the defendant prevented his friend from leaving the flat on October 4.

Records said the friend had deposited her passport in the traffic department after the pilot was involved in a car accident. She claimed that he got angry and locked her inside the flat while she was searching for the police receipt that she needed to release her passport.

The appellate judgement remains subject to appeal before the Cassation Court within 28 days.


Source:   http://gulfnews.com

Visit Florida to Contribute Funds for Air Traffic Controllers During Sun 'n Fun: Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (KLAL)

By Tom Palmer
THE LEDGER
Published: Monday, April 1, 2013 at 11:33 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 1:58 a.m.

 

BARTOW | Visit Florida, the state's tourism marketing corporation, is contributing $125,000 to fill a funding gap to pay for air traffic controllers for the upcoming Sun 'n Fun Fly-in, Polk County commissioners were told Monday.

The discussion came during an agenda study session in connection with a proposal to reduce Polk County's proposed contribution from $75,000 to $40,000 toward the estimated $284,000 cost of bringing in 70 air traffic controllers for the annual six-day event at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport that begins April 9.

Funding of air traffic controllers by the Federal Aviation Administration was cut in connection with the sequestration of funds during the budget debate in Washington, D.C.

Mark Jackson, director of tourism and sports marketing, said he was able to come up with the lower amount, which comes from tourist tax funds, after Visit Florida agreed to commit funds.

The rest of the money is coming from Polk County and Lakeland, which are contributing $40,000 each, and from Sun 'n Fun, he said.

He said it was important to secure the funding for safety and hospitality reasons.

"For six days, this is the busiest airport in the world,'' Jackson said, adding the event will attract 500 foreign journalists and is the largest tourist event in Polk County.

Its estimated economic impact is $57 million, he said.

Commission Chairwoman Melony Bell asked whether U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson's visit last week helped.

"He didn't bring anything to the table," Jackson said.

Commissioner George Lindsey asked how things are looking for next year's funding for controllers.

"I don't have an answer," Jackson said. "It's very complex."

Bell asked whether Polk tourism officials had sought funds from Hillsborough County, whose hotel industry also benefits from the event's crowds.

"They're in turmoil right now,'' Jackson said, explaining the head of Hillsborough's economic development agency recently resigned.

"It was so late, we're lucky we got Visit Florida,'' he said.

http://www.visitflorida.com


http://www.lakelandairport.com

http://www.sun-n-fun.org

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Home-built aircraft raising questions: Experts split on danger of experimental planes

A few days after Christmas last year, a plane crash near San Diego killed produce executive William Stern, his wife, Jennifer, and daughter Katelyn.

One word stood out for many of those reading reports on the accident: experimental.

Stern was flying a 2005 experimental Lancair IV-P Turbine.

On Thursday, another crash, this one near Wikieup, northwest of Phoenix, killed Josephine Simos Chan, 49, of Bakersfield, Calif. She was aboard a Mooney M20A with two other people.

Not much is known about what caused either crash. Both planes were single-propeller craft and, to the casual observer, would appear quite similar — even though the Arizona crash was not an experimental plane.

Experimental planes, according to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Experimental Aircraft Association, often are standard aircraft. They just are not built on an FAA-certified assembly line. Often they are built at home, and home builders may add equipment or parts that are not in the standard kit.

Once built, they undergo testing and maintenance requirements similar to any other aircraft. About 33,000 of these planes are in service nationwide. They must be flown by licensed pilots and can be used only for recreational flying.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, which conducted an in-depth study last year, such aircraft make up almost 10 percent of all general aviation.

But the experimentals also accounted for about 15 percent of the accidents and 21 percent of fatalities in 2011.

The NTSB says pilot error and mechanical failure are the key factors.

Structural failures have not been common.

The Experimental Aircraft Association, an industry group, noted that the aircraft have an accident rate 1 percent higher than planes built on certified assembly lines.

“In fact, the accident rate for amateur-built/home-built aircraft is dropping,” according to the EAA.

Experimental is a catch-all category, including such aircraft as ultralights and restored vintage aircraft. Aircraft built by amateurs, often at home, either from plans or kits, make up a majority of the category.

The total number of registered home-built aircraft has doubled since 1994, and the total hours flown have increased by 123 percent, the EAA reported. Meanwhile, the total number of accidents has stayed virtually the same, according to the EAA.

Roger Whittier, who is building a plane in his backyard garage-workshop in northwest Phoenix, said there is no reason an amateur-built plane should be less safe.

He points to a study conducted by systems engineer, experienced pilot and writer Ron Wanttaja, who, by drilling down into the causes of accidents, has determined that accident rates are more comparable to factory-built planes than the NTSB report indicates.

Whittier’s kit craft, a Van’s RV-7A, will work fine, he said, adding that statistically, it is no more dangerous than a motorcycle.

“You cannot buy a certified plane as well-built and as nice,” he said.

He will spend about $100,000 on his plane and take at least seven years to finish construction. Currently, he has to complete one wing, mount the tail assembly and finish a few other components. He said he nearly is finished with the main construction and is almost ready to move on to finishing and painting the craft.

Whittier is part of the Phoenix chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association. The chapter has about 70 active members, he said.

Todd Nuttall is part of the 40-member Mesa chapter.

He said people who build their own aircraft can choose among many options, including updated technology.

“There is nothing better than coming home from work and spending time building it,” he said.

Home-built planes also are less expensive, although it is definitely an high-dollar hobby, he said.

“But it is not the money,” he said, “it’s the remarkable feeling of accomplishment.”

He added, “There is nothing like flight, but a plane is every bit as much fun to build as it is to fly.”

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