Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sun 'n Fun's Plans for Casino Night Altered Over State Law

By Jeremy Maready
Published: Friday, April 19, 2013 at 10:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 19, 2013 at 10:10 p.m.

LAKELAND | As Polk County's nonprofit organizations try to entice donors to give generously at fundraisers, organizers also have to balance what is legal with what isn't.

Last week, plans for a "casino night" were halted after the Polk County Sheriff's Office and State Attorney's Office learned of the plans for Sun 'n Fun's Future of Flight Casino Night.

Those who attended would have been able to play roulette, poker, black jack and craps for "funny money," according to a recent story in The Ledger.

And the five "High Roller" prizes were a trip for two to Key West, an iPad, a World War II print of an airplane signed by all the pilots featured in the photograph, a Bose A20 Aviation Headset and a Bose Bluetooth music system.

Sponsors had paid for Cheers Events, a St. Petersburg company, to plan the gaming night. Cheers hired an outside company, Florida Casino Parties, to operate the games. The proceeds were to be split between the company and the charity, said Deedra Knight, who is with Sun 'n Fun and helped organize the event.

But state law doesn't allow that, Assistant State Attorney Brad Copley said. "If it's a charitable operation, the money should stay with the charity, not an outside organization."

If anyone "keeps, exercises or maintains a gaming table or room, or gaming implements or apparatus, or house, booth, tent, shelter or other place for the purpose of gaming or gambling ... or permits any person to play for money or other valuable thing at any game whatever, whether heretofore prohibited or not, shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree," according to state law.

But there are ways of holding a casino night that don't violate the law.

And if those in charge of the Sun 'n Fun event had called the Sheriff's Office or prosecutors, organizers would have known better, detectives said.

Knight said a staff member was supposed to do that but didn't, instead opting to do online research. That staff member has since resigned.

"We just screwed up, I guess," she said.

"It really did make us look like fools."

Sun 'n Fun's chairman, Bob Knight, who is Deedra Knight's husband, said the amended event was able to raise about $40,000, but that wasn't as much as in past years.

"The biggest damage done to Sun 'n Fun as a result of the sheriff's department canceling the casino function only 24 hours before the event was the trust sponsors of this event placed in us, expecting the games, etc., only to find out the day of the event or even when attending the event that it was changed into just a social with silent auction," Bob Knight said.

"This could be a problem for us on future events."


Deedra Knight is no stranger to Polk's social events and understands what it takes to manage them.

"Old-fashioned" fundraisers that relied on silent auctions and dinners no longer appeal to donors, she said. "People were so bored with it they were no longer interested in it."

During a meeting of Sun 'n Fun officials, someone suggested a casino-themed night to entice donors, said Knight, who has attended many fundraisers that used a casino theme.

Sun 'n Fun, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, must adhere to certain laws in how it collects money. While the air show is its biggest fundraiser during Sun 'n Fun week, the group usually holds an event specifically to raise money for educational programs.

Advertisements for the event said the $50 admission fee would include two drink tickets, food and $2,500 of funny money to be used in the casino games.

Knight and others thought it mirrored that of other similar events.

"It's hard to think it's illegal when everyone does it," she said. "I've been to more than a half dozen myself. You have to wonder about this."

She also questioned why this law is applied when the organization is trying to raise money for a charitable cause.

"In Polk County, we enforce all the statutes," Copley said. "We don't pick and choose which ones we enforce."

Copley said the State Attorney's Office and the Sheriff's Office weren't being selective or singling out Sun 'n Fun for its charity night.

"We act on every bit of information that comes into our office," Copley said. "(But) If people don't report it, we can't act on it."

Copley, who said he receives numerous calls throughout the year from nonprofits, would rather work with them than hurt a fundraising event.

"We spend quite a bit of time on this," he said.


Jaaz Araya, who owns Florida Casino Parties, said Polk County seems to be the only place where the law is interpreted in a way that makes his business seem illegal.

Several years ago, while working for a different company, the Polk County Sheriff's Office ordered that the company's gaming tables be covered during a fundraiser event, he said.

"It seems like it's only a problem there," Araya said. "I've been doing this 23 years from Tallahassee to Key West."

Araya said, in his legal understanding, that three things must be present to constitute gambling: A person makes a wager; it's a game of chance; and there are money prizes at the end.

"It's just for fun," he said. "It's no different than Monopoly. For this, there is no wager being made, and there are no (monetary) prizes at the end. This is one of the first times anyone has questioned it being legal."

Ron Lee, who owns Cheers Events and hired Araya, said he is upset about what happened and disagrees with the legal interpretations of the Sheriff's Office and State Attorney's Office.

"They are telling me it is illegal, and it's not," he said. "I've done over 100 casino themes for companies like this, and never once have I had a problem."

Araya said he also does a poker tournament for Girls Inc. in Lakeland each year and hasn't had a problem with that.

"(But) maybe they don't consider that gambling since it's more of a game of skill," he said.

Another casino night was held at the Lakeland Yacht & Country Club on April 13 for the Lakeland High School baseball team.

Dan Talbot, the school's athletic director, said an outside company was hired to conduct the gaming night, but they were never contacted by the Sheriff's Office or told their plans could be in violation of the law.

"That's crazy," Talbot said when told about Sun 'n Fun's problems. "It's not like you can win anything. It's Monopoly money. I could win $10,000 in Monopoly money and what would I win? A hug."


Detectives and prosecutors say they don't want to hurt a charity's chances for making money, but it has to be done in a legal way and they are both willing to help if asked.

Copley said the State Attorney's Office is constantly asked its opinion on how fundraisers should be operated and whether they are within the law.

The Sheriff's Office gets the same calls, said Capt. Rick Holland, who oversees the Bureau of Special Investigations.

In recent years, donations for many nonprofits became scarce, budgets were slashed and staff sizes were reduced at a number of agencies throughout Polk and the state.

It left many agencies seeking new revenue streams to make up for the short fall, according to detectives at the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Ann Boogher, treasurer of the Lake Ashton R.V. Community Benefit Association, said when her group decided to do a casino night, someone called the Sheriff's Office to ask about the legality of the event.

"It could have turned into the same situation as Sun 'n Fun" she said. "We were fortunate someone questioned if we were doing it right because it turned out that we weren't."

Boogher received a phone call from a detective who questioned how the event was to be handled.

She told them the night would be filled with games, basket raffles and silent auctions in the hope of raising money for schools in Winter Haven and Lake Wales. The casino aspect was to have games of chance like cards, roulette and devices similar to slot machines.

That didn't fly, and Boogher and detectives decided to meet two times to go over plans and make sure the Feb. 23 event was planned correctly.

"It was a good thing we did that ahead of time," she said. "The sheriff's department was most courteous in giving us the guidelines."

One of the most significant problems, Copley said of casino nights, is that nonprofit organizations that are holding the event hire outside companies to do card dealing and operate the games for a cut of the proceeds, which he said is a violation of state law.

In the case of the Lake Ashton event, the organization's members served as card dealers.

If an outside organization is operating gambling devices within Polk County, it could be arrested and face a third-degree felony charge, Copley said. But that hasn't happened.

After rearranging its plans, the Lake Ashton group was able to raise $36,000 for the local schools, Boogher said.

"It took a little bit of scrambling, but the event was quite successful."

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fargo AirSho cancelled

FARGO – The Fargo AirSho scheduled for Aug. 10-11 has been canceled, a decision that comes after the Navy’s Blue Angels flying team canceled the rest of its season because of federal budget cuts.

Fargo AirSho officials announced the cancellation this morning.

AirSho co-chairman Dick Walstad, Darrol Schroeder and Mike Haugen said in a news release that the decision was reluctantly made after reviewing all aspects of the event.

While the ground of the Blue Angels for the rest of the 2013 season was a major factor, other considerations led to the decision, they said.

Due to federal budget sequestration, other branches of the military have cut back drastically in supporting air shows, the release stated. The primary food vendor for the Fargo AirSho also suspended operations for the 2013 season because of several other air shows canceling their events.

“While the 70 Fargo AirSho Committee members were disappointed that this year’s show had to be cancelled, they still plan to be involved in future air shows,” the release stated.

Net proceeds totaling $500,000 from the previous 10 Fargo AirSho events have been donated to various nonprofits in the region, including $250,000 to the Fargo Air Museum, the release noted.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Learn to fly at Sacramento Executive Airport!

EVA Airlines, Taiwan’s second largest airline, has identified Executive Airport as the potential location for a U.S. based flight training school. The long-term plan for this exciting development is the construction of a new flight training facility.

The project could result in a $13-$15 million investment in Executive Airport, including classrooms, a cafeteria, dormitory housing for students, a maintenance hangar, shade hangars and a private apron. This development is consistent with the Draft Airport Master Plan.

Prior to development and operation of the new facility, EVA must obtain certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate a flight training facility.

To support the curriculum development effort and establish an immediate Sacramento presence EVA is proposing to lease building 10318 at Executive Airport. The lease, which was on the agenda to be considered by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, passed on March 12, 2013.

“This type of private investment at Executive Airport is a long-term shot in the arm for our local economy,” said District 1 Supervisor Jimmie Yee. “Sacramento County is committed to exploring these types of projects to ensure a bright future for Executive.”

If the FAA approves the EVA curriculum, training for the first 12-15 students would begin in early 2014. The EVA training program will use modern 2- to 4-seat aircraft similar to other types of airplanes that operate at Executive Airport.

“This is the first step in what will be a long-term partnership,” said Interim Director of Airports Rob Leonard. “Over the next few months, our staff will work with EVA and other stakeholders on a ground lease and other details for development of the project.”

EVA Air offers a global flight network, with connections to more than 60 cities in Asia, China, Europe, North America and Oceania. EVA’s parent company, The Evergreen Group, owns a diverse set of companies that include land and air transportation companies and an international chain of hotels.

Sacramento County Airport System, a department of Sacramento County, is responsible for planning, developing, operating and maintaining four of the County’s airports: Sacramento International Airport, Executive Airport, Mather Airport and Franklin Field. The Airport System provides more than $4 billion in annual economic impact to the Sacramento region. 

For more information, visit


Court backs arbitration in helicopter school bankruptcy

A case involving Silver State helicopter school’s bankruptcy ends with a ruling endorsing arbitration over jury trials

BY JACK KATZANEK, The Press Enterprise
April 16, 2013; 11:03 AM

A case that started more than five years ago at small airports all over the country, including one in Inland Southern California, has evolved into a federal appeals court ruling that will probably favor employers and corporations in future cases.

The case, Kilgore vs. Key Bank, began when Silver State Helicopters, a national string of flight schools that was based in Las Vegas, abruptly went out of business in February 2008.

The school closed after thousands of people, mostly young people in their 20s, took out hefty loans to pay $70,000 in tuition to learn to be helicopter pilots.

One of the academies was at Chino Airport. More than 100 people from San Bernardino and Riverside counties were enrolled in the school, and most found out about the closing from telephone calls they received while watching the 2008 Super Bowl game.

Several legal challenges arose from the closing by students who claimed that lenders who gave tuition loans should have known that Silver State was on shaky financial ground.

Some of the lenders forgave the student loans, but Cleveland-based Key Bank insisted the loans in dispute should be subject to arbitration.

A Ninth Circuit judge last year refused to honor Key Bank’s request to compel the plaintiff to force the dispute to be settled via arbitration.

However, last week a Ninth Circuit appeals court, in a 10-1 ruling, reversed that decision. It ruled that arbitration should be allowed because it gave students a 60-day window during which they could have opted out of the arbitration agreement and because the provision was “clearly labeled in boldface.”

The case was closely watched in legal circles because employers and corporations prefer to settle workplace law disputes in front of an arbitrator rather than a jury, which might be more likely to side with a plaintiff.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

'Go ahead. Land the plane.' -Tom Biang, Flight Instructor

April 14, 2013 
Written by Ashley Barnas
Anything Once

The engine shuts off, the aircraft shudders, an ominous beeping begins. We are seconds away from a nosedive in our Piper Warrior.

“It says, ‘Get ready, cause I’m not flying anymore!’ ” Tom Biang, my co-pilot, speaks for the airplane. “There it goes,” he adds as the plane immediately dips.

Terror freezes my face. My fingers transform into steel cages around the flight yoke.

Biang, an aviation instructor at Delaware State University, purposely stalled this plane to teach me how to get out of it. I’m a Wilson volleyball away from being pancaked into Kent County. At least Tom Hanks got an island.

The aircraft has to stay trim at all times. I can’t let it come down so I muscle aft pressure – force the yoke toward me. Calm and collected, Biang adds power, takes out a little bit of flap and completes the recovery.

“Relax your death grip,” he tells me.

“How did you know?” I stretch my fingers and laugh nervously.

“Our engine has stopped, we’re gliding and now we get to pick a field to land in,” he says, speaking as though we had a real emergency, and there was no engine we could bring back to life.

“Airplanes are inherently safe because the center of gravity is forward of what’s called the center of lift on the aircraft,” Biang says. The former American Airlines pilot is a total nerd about the science of flying, which isn’t a bad thing for an instructor.

“There’s a lot of technical information, there’s a lot of interesting information,” he says. “How it all plays together, to take a piece of tin and actually fly it – it’s just amazing how it works.”

Just a few days before, Biang condensed a year’s aviation curriculum into a two-hour classroom and simulator session for me. He drills into my head Newton’s third law: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

“Between the upwash, downwash, high pressure, low pressure, that airflow wants to go,” Biang motions upward with a whoosh, “and take off. Make sense? That’s how an airplane flies.”

DSU’s flight simulator – a setup of three large screens and full aircraft controls – gives students the same feeling they will get in a real aircraft. For my class, Biang has condensed the first four hours of a 35-hour flight curriculum. He didn’t include anything about ground training, and skipped meteorology, human factors, aircraft systems, aerodynamic principles, safety of flight, flight operations, airspace, aeronautical charts and navigation, “just to mention a few.”

Not long after my crash course – a phrase Biang doesn’t like for me to apply to my flying lesson – we prepare the Piper Warrior for a noon flight out of Delaware Airpark in Cheswold. This is where DSU’s 10 aircraft – many with their tails painted red to honor the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II fame – are housed. The program has 14 flight instructors and another nine classroom instructors. Some are both.

DSU’s four-year aviation program gives students the option to graduate with a bachelor’s of science with a concentration in aviation management or professional pilot. They earn a private pilot’s license followed by an instrument rating, commercial and instructor ratings, then multi-engine transfer.

On top of regular admission to the university, the total additional cost for flight training for the required certifications and ratings is about $49,500. Lab fees for flight training range from $3,255 to $9,586 for each of the seven certifications or ratings that DSU offers.

By the time students graduate, they are qualified to instruct. DSU hires its students so they can build their flight time, which helps them qualify for other jobs. Right now, three former students are working as instructors, even though they have jobs with regional airlines or as a corporate pilot. Two current students are also providing instruction.

To compare the costs, if you wanted lessons through a private instructor, it would cost you about $150 an hour to rent a plane and about $200 an hour for an instructor.

“You remember the normal takeoff, right?” Biang says, sitting to my right and speaking through headphones. I verbalize every step I’m about to take.

“I’ll be with ya,” he reassures me. “Brakes are released, you’ve got the toe brakes and you’ve got the rudders and I’ll follow you through a lot and we’ll just go!”

Takeoff is exhilarating and the hardest part becomes following the dotted line of the runway. Getting the hang of steering with my feet rather than the yoke – a plane’s version of a car’s steering wheel – is tricky and the yoke is useless on the ground. The yoke controls the ailerons, which are flaps on the wings that cause the longitudinal rolling motion of the aircraft.

“Pick something straight ahead,” Biang tells me. I decide on a grassy opening. “See how your nose is coming up too far? Push it down.”

I push the yoke away from me, we level off at 3,000 feet and maintain the distance between the horizon and the cowl – the nose of the plane. After practicing turns – a little unnerving to be at such a steep angle in this size plane, but nothing compared to the stall recovery practice – we climb to 4,000 feet.

After about an hour, we approach the airfield at 1,000 feet and Biang instructs me to fly parallel to the runway. He reduces the throttle and works the flaps for me as we form a box around the airfield, cutting at an angle to approach the runway at 65 knots, or about 75 mph.

Biang demonstrates a landing – one of the most perfect landings I’ve ever experienced, especially in a plane this size – and takes off immediately after. Now it’s my turn.

I re-form the box, approach the runway and manage to land far better than my simulator landing in the grass two weeks prior. Surely Biang had some magic over the controls to help me, though he insists it was mostly me.

“You done good,” he tells me. We taxi back to the aircraft parking lot.

“Don’t let anybody fool you,” he tells me as he unhooks his seat belt and flips the metal cover on the flight log. “When it comes to aviation, it is hours and hours and hours of preparation for minutes and minutes and minutes of getting ready for seconds of pleasure.”

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Alexandria Township's new town hall could be built near Sky Manor Airport (N40), Pittstown, New Jersey

ALEXANDRIA TWP. — The township’s first town hall will probably be built near Sky Manor Airport by township resident Aram Papazian.

The Alexandria Township Committee has tentatively accepted Papazian’s proposal to provide a town hall for the township to rent, but a final decision is likely to be made at a special Township Committee meeting on the evening of Wednesday, April 24.

His proposal and one by the township’s current landlord, Anthony DeSapio, received a brief examination at the April 10 Township Committee meeting. Although preference was expressed for Papazian’s offer, officials wanted Township Attorney Sharon Dragan to review it.

Both proposals were for new construction of a one-story building that would have office space and a meeting room that could seat an audience of 40. Papazian wants a monthly rent of $5,333; DeSapio wants a monthly rent of $7,333. DeSapio would build on the same Frenchtown-Milford Road lot that is also the site of the former Pastore Chevrolet building. That’s where township offices have been housed in 2,300 square feet of space since 2009.

Papazian proposes building a 4,000-square-foot building on a long, narrow lot at 26 Sky Manor Road. The 2.8-acre undeveloped site has an airplane hangar on one side and a light-industrial building on the other. A small amount of the front yard would be in the no-build “airport clear zone,” and the building itself would be in the less-restrictive “airport safety zone,” where height restrictions apply.

Variances would probably have to be sought for bulk — the zoning calls for a 6-acre minimum lot size and 75-foot property-line setbacks. The lot is only 182 feet wide.

Papazian’s proposal says he is under contract to buy the lot. On the morning of Tuesday, April 16, he was at the site supervising the digging of holes for percolation tests, which will have a bearing on the kind of sewage system that would be needed.

His proposal said he could have the place ready 270 days after his proposal is officially accepted. The township has been hoping to move in on Nov. 1 of this year, but 270 days from late April would put opening day in February. As requested by the township, the first lease would be for five to 10 years, with two 10-year renewal options.

Papazian has experience in building for public tenants. In the 1990s he built post offices in Hampton and Pittstown. He has since sold the Hampton building, but he is still the landlord of the Pittstown P.O.

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Learn about aviation careers

8:00 a.m. EDT, April 16, 2013
By Marcia Heroux Pounds, Sun Sentinel

Broward County aviation director Kent George talks about "careers in aviation" at a breakfast meeting sponsored by Workforce One, Broward's employment agency, at 8 a.m. Thursday, April 18.

Florida ranks third nationwide in aviation and aerospace industry employment. In South Florida, employers include Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer, Pratt &  Whitney, Sikorsky Aicraft, BE Aerospace and Lockheed Martin.

To RSVP, go to Workforce One's website,


Greenbrier Airport Authority joins Federal Aviation Administration suit

April 16, 2013  
By Tina Alvey, Register-Herald Reporter

MAXWELTON, WEST VIRGINIA — The Greenbrier County Airport Authority voted unanimously to join dozens of other airport-related agencies in a lawsuit challenging the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to close 150 air-traffic control towers.

Several lawsuits are now pending against the FAA, and one of those challenges resulted in the agency’s postponement of the planned cascade of tower closings, according to Greenbrier Valley Airport manager Jerry O’Sullivan. As it now stands, all of the towers on the FAA’s closure list will be shuttered on the same day — June 15. Prior to the suit-prompted change, Greenbrier Valley’s tower was slated to close May 5.

O’Sullivan recommended the Airport Authority join one of the suits, estimating the cost of partnering with other agencies to try to keep the towers open at $2,000.

“I think we should belly up and do it,” O’Sullivan told the Authority members gathered for their regular quarterly meeting Monday evening.  Authority member Betty Crookshanks agreed with O’Sullivan’s assessment, saying, “It would show there are people concerned about (the planned tower closures).”   In addition to researching the litigation question, the airport manager told the Authority that he has secured bids from contractors interested in taking on the tower’s operation, if the scheduled federal shut-down occurs.

O’Sullivan solicited bids based on the original closing target of May 5, with the contract to run through the end of September. The federal fiscal year begins Oct. 1, and speculation has held that the FAA may be able to find the funds in the new fiscal year to resume supporting at least some of the towers now scheduled for closure.

Midwest ATC, the company that currently holds the federal contract to staff and operate Greenbrier Valley’s tower, bid slightly more than $150,000 for the five months called for in the bid advertisement.

Two other companies — both of which are newcomers to tower operation in this region, according to O’Sullivan — submitted significantly lower bids. Defense Contract Services’ bid was around $93,000 for the five-month term, and Dynamic Science bid $15,000 per month.

O’Sullivan said, as the deadline approaches, he plans to re-bid the contract to get the most accurate estimate of what the cost will be to keep the tower open.  He is also monitoring the situation in Congress, where an Oklahoma senator is receiving bipartisan support for a measure that would remove the towers from consideration for budget sequester cuts.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Rome, New York: Aviation job training course offered at Mohawk Valley Community College for laid-off workers

Published: Sunday, April 14, 2013 

Rome >> Oneida County is partnering with Mohawk Valley Community College and Premier Aviation Overhaul Center Ltd. to provide two fast-track aviation skills training programs that can help area men and women who have been laid off find work in the high-growth field of aviation.

“Premier wants to expand in Oneida County and needs workers with specific skill sets,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. “Fortunately, MVCC has the ability to develop and implement two fast-track training programs that can meet Premier’s needs. Oneida County Workforce Development will use the funding to retrain people who need work. Through this partnership, we will help move people into a high-growth sector of our economy.”

Two programs will be offered: Introduction to Aircraft Electrical Systems and Introduction to Aircraft Structures. Both programs will be offered from Friday, May 3 through Friday, June 14, Monday through Friday, from 5-9 p.m. Classes will meet at the MVCC Airframe & Powerplant Program Facility at Griffiss Park. Potential trainees must be screened by Working Solutions offices for eligibility in this program. Premier Aviation will also screen the trainees.

Each program will accept 12 people. Laid off workers who are interested in registering should begin the process by contacting MVCC by calling (315)792-5300 or e-mailing

“The trainees who come to us through this program will be skilled, motivated and ready to work,” said Premier Aviation Overhaul Center Ltd. General Manager Larry Atkinson. “Many of them will bring significant work histories from former employment that help them succeed here. We appreciate the support we have received from MVCC in designing this program to meet our needs. We further appreciate the support of Oneida County in helping to make this training possible.”

MVCC President Randall VanWagoner said the college is excited to partner with Premier and Oneida County in this innovative program. “Our Airframe & Powerplant program is a highly successful program that meets the needs of employers and our students. Through these new fast-track introductory programs, we can help local workers get into a growth sector in just a few weeks. These programs add a new layer to our ability to meet the needs of the aviation sector.”

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Air Combat USA to Visit Woodbine Municipal Airport (KOBI), New Jersey

WOODBINE — Mayor William Pikolycky is pleased to announce that for the fifth year Woodbine Municipal Airport will be one of the 25 cities hosting Air Combat USA.

Established in 1988, Air Combat USA is the original civilian dog fighting school in the world, the innovators of air combat training for civilians. With over 19 years of experience and over 38,000 guest pilots flown, Air Combat USA is the largest, most recognized air combat school in the world. 

Their guest pilots fly real military fighters with licensed pilots in the cockpits with them. All aircraft are outfitted with high-end digital multi-cameras systems to capture fighter pilot experience. No pilot’s license is required for the guest. They work hand-in-hand with the Federal Aviation Administration and other governing agencies to define parameters and establish safety guidelines used to regulate the air combat industry.

Air Combat USA will be at the Woodbine Municipal Airport, 660 Henry DeCinque Boulevard, on April 21 and 22, 2013. For more information call 800-522-7590. (Website is

“I welcome Air Combat USA to their fifth visit to Woodbine Municipal Airport and wish them many return visits to our facility,” added Mayor Pikolycky. “They are expected to arrive at some time on Friday, and will be flying on Saturday and Sunday. Stop by our airport and give them and look-see. They will be returning on August 10 through 12.”


HAZMAT crew cleans oil spill on runway: Tucker-Guthrie Memorial Airport (I35), Harlan, Kentucky


HARLAN, Ky. (WYMT) - Emergency management officials say a HAZMAT team worked overnight Friday to clean up an oil spill on an airport runway in Harlan County.

They say the spill came from cars caught drag racing on the landing strip. Officials called in the clean-up team to make sure a more dangerous situation did not occur as a result of the spill.

The Tucker-Guthrie Memorial Airport sees air traffic from across the state, but Friday night the runway saw a different kind of traffic.

Officials say three men raced their cars on the landing strip, but sometime during the race one of the cars spilled oil onto the runway.

“They had flights coming in and out of the runway today; so we didn't want the planes to hit the slick spots and then possibly wreck and cause a more dangerous situation,” said David McGill, with the Harlan County Emergency Management.

So a HAZMAT team was called in to clean up what the drag racers had left behind, and Officials say the cleanup took a little more effort than a regular spill.

“There is the planes coming in; at the high speeds they're coming in on, plus them not being able to see, and they could be able to suck the gravel up in their motors, it was a more tedious situation,” said McGill.

Airport board officials did not press charges. They say the men will be forced to pay the clean up fee, which could range from 8 to 10 thousand dollars.

Officials say racers have previously been told to stay off of airport property.

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