Saturday, May 4, 2013

Air ambulance company disputes Richmond County tax bill

An air ambulance company whose plane was seized last week for unpaid taxes is protesting the tax bill and wants a refund.

Med-Trans, the Texas-based company that acquired Augusta’s AirMed air ambulance service in October, paid $98,500 in property taxes Friday to the Richmond County Tax Com­missioner’s Office.

The payment was sent a day after tax officials seized a Beechcraft B200 plane at Augusta Regional Airport to secure the unpaid debt.

“That was the first time Med-Trans knew about the tax issue and when we were given a copy of the Tax Notice,” according to Reid Vogel, a spokesman for Med-Trans, who responded by e-mail.

Vogel said the taxes are owed by AirMed, and the plane that was seized, identified by tail number N771MG, belongs to Med-Trans “sister company,” EagleMed LLC.

“Med-Trans and EagleMed told the Richmond County Tax Commissioner’s office that N771MG was not owned by AirMed Inc. and that it is an emergency response aircraft serving the general public, but it did not matter to them,” Vogel wrote.

Tax Commissioner Steven Kendrick said it was his position that Med-Trans acquired the company and its equipment, and it is now responsible for the tax debt.

The dispute over the tax bill dates to early 2012, when AirMed was sent an assessment notice by the Richmond County Tax Assessors Office for four aircraft operated by the company and hangared in Augusta.

Chief Assessor Alveno Ross said AirMed failed to file a return for business personal property tax on its equipment, so one was created for the company by his office. Ross said that even after the assessment notice was sent out, AirMed did not file an appeal.

On March 22, 2012, AirMed President Dan Gates sent a letter arguing that under Georgia law, AirMed was a commercial airline and thus exempt from local property taxes.

Ross said the exemption cited by Gates doesn’t apply; if it did, AirMed would be assessed as a public utility and subject to state taxes. He said the company has not offered any documentation to indicate that was the case.

Gates said the situation was a first for him.

“We’ve never been taxed in 12 or 13 years of business,” he said.

Gates said that even if AirMed owed some taxes last year, he doesn’t agree with the amount. He said of the four aircraft – two helicopters and two planes – AirMed actually owned only one, a 1979 Beechcraft F90.

Gates said the two helicopters were leased from another company, BMK LP, and the Beechcraft B200 was owned by another of his companies, Coastal Air Inc.

Since the sale to Med-Trans, the helicopters have returned to BMK and the two planes were sold to EagleMed, a subsidiary of Air Medical Group Holdings, which also owns Med-Trans,

EagleMed sold the Beechcraft F90 in October to a North Carolina company, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

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Council Puts Medical Helicopter in Limbo

Plans to station an air-ambulance helicopter in Oceanside have hit a snag.

The City Council voted 3-2 Wednesday to send the proposed lease of property to REACH Air Medical Services of Santa Rosa back to the city manager for re-negotiation.

Fire Chief Darryl Hebert was a strong proponent of the plan to lease part of the Fire Training Center at 110 Jones Road to REACH for a heliport, saying it could reduce evacuation time for critically ill or injured patients.

One proponent said it would cut the time in half, from 12-14 minutes to six-eight minutes.

Currently, critical patients are flown from McClellan Palomar Airport in Carlsbad by Mercy Air Service of San Diego to the nearest trauma hospital, usually Scripps Memorial in La Jolla.

Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside is not an authorized trauma reception unit.

Hebert said Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, which is designated to receive trauma patients, is closer but serves such a large area already that Oceanside patients are to be sent to La Jolla.

Non-critical patients—an average of 39 a day, are taken by Fire Department ambulance to Tri-City.

Councilman Jerry Kern, one of the majority voting against the proposal, said the 269 patients flown last year are less than 1.5 percent of the total of nearly 18,000 patients transported by Fire Department paramedics every year.

He asked if there had been complaints about Mercy Air.

There have been a couple that he knows of, Hebert replied, but he did not have exact data about complaints.

Larry Hall, representing Mercy, said it should have been allowed to present a proposal of its own.

Ken Crossman, chairman of the city's Police and Fire Commission, an advisory body, said it had voted unanimously in favor of the REACH plan.

Larry Barry, speaking in opposition to the proposal, said REACH should pay to use the city's nearby airport and operate privately without city firefighters on board, as outlined in the proposal.

“It's not going to cost the city anything,” proponent Joan Brubaker said.

The council majority's main objection was to the proposed use of Fire Department personnel on the air ambulances.  It didn't mind the private-enterprise lease of city property for its own operations.

Councilman Gary Felien said, the city faces huge debt from employee retirement. “There's going to be a pension crisis,” he said.

Hebert insisted on wanting control of the operation by having his own employees on board and said he could do it with current personnel, not increasing retirement costs. “There is no fiscal impact to the City of Oceanside,” Hebert said.

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Federal Aviation Administration keeps airport gear running: Lee Gilmer Memorial (KGVL), Gainesville, Georgia

Who is responsible for the maintenance at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport?

A new guidance system was installed onto a wooden structure a number of years ago. This structure is visible from Queen City Parkway and has never been primed or painted to protect the wood from the elements. The wood now appears weathered, cracked and split.

The structure was installed in 1999, according to Terry Palmer, airport manager at Lee Gilmer, and is maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“It is made out of treated lumber, so it’s not necessarily something that will have to be restained or anything,” Palmer said.

The structure supports a localizer antennae, which basically provides an electronic center line 5 miles south of the airport so that pilots can line up with the runway even during low visibility.

The antennae is monitored 24/7 by the FAA, so if there was some sort of equipment failure, the FAA would know before anyone else since it monitors it, Palmer said. An alert would be sent, which they would then relay to air traffic controllers.

The FAA is responsible for maintenance of that and other antennas and equipment. The city of Gainesville, which owns the airport, is responsible for maintenance of the runways, taxiways, grounds and buildings.


Air show scrapped

With the cancellation by the Navy’s Blue Angels, the Chippewa Valley Air Show set for Sept. 7-8 at the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport has been cancelled.

If automatic funding cuts set by Congress are reversed, the executive board of the air show would consider staging the show. But the chances of that are unlikely, said Tim Olson, the vice president of special initiatives for the air show.

“Volunteers have been working on this show for almost a year already. Our sponsors, for the most part, have told us that they are on board whenever we get a jet team. We appreciate that kind of loyalty,” said Matt Hill, executive director of the Chippewa Valley Council of the Boy Scouts.

The air show is a major fundraiser for the Scouts and 40 other non-profit groups.

Hill said the Chippewa Valley Air Show intends to apply for a jet team for a possible show in 2014 and 2015.

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Trenton Mercer (KTTN), New Jersey: Airport ready to take off


Times of Trenton Letter to the Editor - May 2 

Mercer Airport ready to take off 

If the crowded parking lot at the Trenton-Mercer Airport is any indication, the arrival of Frontier Airlines and its many popular destinations are a runaway success.

While Mercer County has certainly been burned, over the years, with a number of marginal carriers coming and going out of West Trenton, the public seems to have finally signaled its desire to avoid flying out of Newark and Philadelphia.

Interestingly, looking at the airlines that have long anchored the larger hubs, Continental is gone, with parent United ranking at the bottom of customer satisfaction lists, and I wouldn’t place a big bet on American Airlines once it deals with the pains of taking over U.S. Airways in Philadelphia. It’s only getting worse at the bigger airports with their megacarriers.

Frontier has had its financial problems, and two investment firms are currently in talks to acquire Frontier from parent Republic Airways Holdings. Whether Frontier is still here in five years is anyone’s guess, but some airline will see the opportunity of flying out of Trenton Mercer, and that is why there shouldn’t be any further delay in getting a new terminal built (“Improvement projects put on hold at Trenton-Mercer Airport,” April 24).

Bringing in a private developer is an option. (A Dutch firm manages the new Delta Terminal 4 at JFK.) The recently reported $450,000 loan by Frontier to the county for airport improvements is a temporary fix, at best. Now is the time for bold leadership by Mercer County officials.

-- Gary Smotrich,
Hopewell Township


Fundraising effort not affiliated with Navy or museum

Officials with the Blue Angels and the National Naval Aviation Museum are disavowing any connection with a Pensacola group called Save Our Blues that is soliciting money on their behalf.

Further, state records indicate that Save Our Blues isn’t registered to solicit tax-deductible donations as required by signing up with the Florida Division of Corporations and the Florida Division of Consumer Services in Tallahassee.

Repeated phone calls from a reporter to Ron Nelson, listed on the group’s website as its director, weren’t returned. Neither were several calls to Save Our Blues accountant and tax attorney, Diane Porter, for whom an Alabama phone number is listed on

Nelson is listed in state records on file in Tallahassee as a principal in a company called The Life Team Inc., which is described as a for-profit venture. Moreover, Nelson, shown on state records to have a Pensacola address, is listed on the Save Our Blues website as the vice president of another company called Profit Masters USA. Through the Save Our Blues website, prospective contributors can find promotional information about Profit Masters USA, which offers a series of products and services such as directions on starting a fundraising business, among ventures.

On the organization’s website and in an advertisement it purchased in the May 1 edition of the Pensacola News Journal, Save Our Blues states that its fundraising campaign is “intended to be of benefit” to both the elite flight demonstration team and the museum’s managing foundation at Pensacola Naval Air Station.

The ad states its fundraising goal is $50,000 and seeks individual donations as small as $10. Also sought by the ad are volunteers to help with a letter-writing crusade aimed at persuading Washington politicians to enact legislation to reverse the effects of across-the-board federal budget cuts that recently grounded the Blue Angels.

In a disclaimer, the ads state that Save Our Blues isn’t affiliated with the museum or the Navy “other than the support of each.

In fact, neither the Blue Angels nor officials at the museum foundation knew in advance about Save Our Blues’ charitable plans, and both have requested that the organization stop activities using their names.

Lt. Katie Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Blue Angels, said Thursday that a Navy attorney has responded to the Save Our Blues campaign by sending the enterprise a letter requesting that it “cease and desist.”

Ed Ellis, a retired Navy captain who is the museum’s corporate secretary, said he reached Nelson by phone to protest Save Our Blues’ fundraising campaign.

“I said that we would need to know more about your organization if you’re going to solicit money in our name. We would need information about your financial controls and administrative costs,” Ellis said.

The museum has lost revenue this summer from cancellation of the Blue Angels’ practices, held at the adjacent Sherman Field. Although the practices are free to the public, they generate thousands of visitors on whom the museum relies to buy tickets to its theater, plunk coins in flight simulators and buy souvenirs in the gift shop. Still, the foundation’s tax returns in recent years show that it’s several million dollars in the black.

The Blue Angels, while grounded by the Department of Defense through their 2013 air show season because of federal budget cuts, remain on the Navy’s payroll. The Navy also is funding maintenance of the team’s fighter jets and enough fuel so that the pilots can fly enough to maintain aviation proficiency.


The skinny on the rumor: Meadow Lake Airport (KFLY), Colorado Springs, Colorado

In the April 6 issue of The New Falcon Herald, the rumor column noted that a new 6,000-square-foot hangar was being built at the Meadow Lake Airport – but not on the airport property. Mark Shook, Meadow Lake Airport Association Board of Directors vice president, has clarified the rumor, which turned out to be true.

The hangar is on Shook’s property. The hangar will store two large aircrafts and three rotor crafts and measure 4,200 square feet; the buildable area on the lot is 6,000 square feet, he said.

Dave Elliott, MLAA president, said there has been confusion surrounding the constitution of the airport and its property. The majority of the hangars considered part of the airport are actually located on private property to the east of the main runway, known as the Airport Hangar subdivision, Elliott said.

“The original idea behind the airport was that it was going to be private and to keep it private with no government interference,” he said.

The first airport runway was graded out in 1965 and was 4,000 feet long and about 30 feet wide, which is narrow for a runway, Shook said. It was paved in 1970.

“In 1989, the Federal Aviation Association granted it General Aviation Retriever Status, meaning the airport was available for everybody to use without charge at that time, kind of like a highway in front of your business,” Shook said. “It’s a public use of the transportation system. There is tax on the sale of gasoline and the dues from the property owners of the MLAA, which is how the public portion of the airport is funded.”

All of the runways, taxiways and aeronautical surfaces are owned by the airport association, Shook said. People who pay dues to the association have voting rights to elect the board that manages the nonprofit MLAA, Shook said. “It’s a public use airport that is privately owned by a nonprofit airport association,” he said.

“The private property side of the airport is supported by private money,” Shook said. “The public side is supported by user fees like fuel tax, which funds the Colorado Discretionary Aviation Grants.”

Friday, May 3, 2013

Wythe County may stop funding Mountain Empire Airport (KMKJ), Marion/Wytheville, Virginia


The Wythe County Board of Supervisors is looking into the possibility of withdrawing from the Smyth Wythe Airport Commission.

The board will hold a public hearing on the matter at 7 p.m. May 14.

Currently, the board gives about $62,000 a year to the commission, which runs Mt. Empire Airport, located on the county line with Smyth County.

The airport was founded in 1958 with an agreement between the two counties and the towns of Wytheville, Rural Retreat and Marion. The counties and towns financially support the airport’s operations. Rural Retreat eventually withdrew from the agreement.

During a recent meeting, several board members expressed concern about the airport financing, questioning if Wythe County benefited enough from the airport to justify its financial contribution.

“You can’t tell me how the majority of Wythe County citizens benefit,” said Supervisor Tim Reeves, who suggested the public hearing.

“We are subsidizing people who have an airplane. I don’t think we should be in the airport business,” added fellow Supervisor Joe Hale.

Board Chairman Danny McDaniel said he would like to hear from local businesses that use the airport.

Airport Commission Chairman Wilson L. Leonard said if the county withdraws support, the other entities may balk at having to increase their contributions to support the airport. The result will be closing down the facility.

“By sharing as they do today, the cost to each supporting entity is relatively small compared to what most other counties and towns in the state of Virginia pay to support such a facility,” he said. “Additionally, if the airport continued to operate, Wythe County would still receive all the benefits associated with the airport's community services without providing its long standing agreed upon support. It is doubtful the other entities would view this favorably and there is the possibility it could set off a domino effect of withdrawing support and result in closure of the airport. This would have a severe negative effect on future industrial and business development in this area of Virginia.”

Wilson said that most of the business people who use the airport are visiting Wythe County and Wytheville. He added that helicopters responding to emergencies in Wythe County also use the airport.

“Although it is difficult to quantify the benefits both counties and towns receive from having a modern community public use airport, also supported by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Virginia Department of Aviation, I can assure everyone that if you lose it, it will become readily apparent as to its value,” Leonard said. “The cost to get one back will be very prohibitive compared to maintaining the one we have now.”


Influx of small planes fuelling talk of airport expansion: Waterloo International, Ontario, Canada

CTV Kitchener
Published Friday, May 3, 2013 6:12PM EDT


Has the Region of Waterloo International Airport outgrown itself?

Not as far as runways and terminal facilities, according to airport staff, but when it comes to space for small planes, expansion is becoming a hot-button issue.

“We are noticing a lot more of the smaller general aviation aircraft showing up here,” says airport manager Chris Wood.

That increase in personal aircraft is due to a ripple effect from other changes in the southern Ontario aviation scene.

Markham’s Buttonville Airport is slated to shut down in the near future, and the Billy Bishop Airport on Toronto Island is ramping up commercial activity.

Combine those two factors, and the relatively tranquil airport near Breslau looks inviting for many aviation hobbyists.

“As soon as they announced Buttonville was closing, I was looking for a new home,” says pilot David White, who recently moved to a hangar at Region of Waterloo.

“People are rushing out to find a new place to keep their airplane and this is a great place for it.”

Wood says he’s happy for the business, but as a result, hangars are filling up much more quickly than anticipated.

“At last count, there were about 300 airplanes based at Buttonville, and they all need to find a home” he tells CTV.

“Even if 10 or 15 percent of them end up coming to the Region of Waterloo, that’s a significant amount of hangar space that’s required.”

Only one of the 17 lots of land at the airport allocated for small aircraft hangars still has space for new tenants.

That has officials working on a 20-year plan for the airport, with expansion a definite possibility.

“We’ve kept our options open with some neighbors who have expressed potential to maybe sell some property,” says Wood.

The master plan won’t be complete until late 2014 or early 2015.


13 failed to pay landing fees

Cheapskate pilots or aircraft owners not paying landing fees at the Alexandra airport have been caught on camera by the Central Otago District Council.

The council's latest activities report says 13 people were caught in March and all had been billed $20 - the $5 landing fee plus a $15 booking fee.

Those landing fees, $5 for a single-engine plane or $10 for a twin-engine plane, are meant to be paid into an honesty box, with a record of the aircraft's registration number and time of landing.

The $400 motion-activated bush camera, installed near the taxiway was the plan B after the first trial option did not work out.

A six-month trial was carried out by a private contractor which recorded radio frequencies on landing but too many errors were made and the trial was scrapped.

Central Otago Flying Club president Russell Anderson said it was not local pilots but out-of-towners that were thought to be the culprits.

He said the camera was also catching "young fellas"  driving on the runway who were consequently receiving fines of up to $2000.

Cars driving on the runway meant stones on the runway, Mr Anderson said.

Stones can be picked up by a plane's propeller and take chips out of it, potentially costing the aircraft owner up to $10,000.

Stones would also be a potential problem for aircraft taxiing to new fuel pumps but the council would pay more than $16,500 to asphalt previously undeveloped ground between the tanks' new position away from the runway.

Mr Anderson said the old fuel tanks were underground and had reached their useful life expectancy but Z Energy was building a new fuel terminal.

Council property and facilities manager told councillors this week that keeping a fuel supplier at the airfield had been a concern.

Declining use of the airfield had resulted in the supplier keeping a close eye on the volume of fuel sold.

''It was a case of touch and go whether we would retain the supply of fuel at Alexandra, or lose it as have some other smaller airports around the country recently,'' council property officer Brian Taylor said in a report to council.

Mr Kerr said had the supplier had pulled out, the airport would have had an ''uncertain future''.

Councillors approved the unbudgeted $16,500 expense, but not all were quick to do so.

"I'm not saying we shouldn't do it ... but it's never-ending, just a drain on our resources," mayor Tony Lepper said. Mr Kerr said retaining the fuel service would, in the long run, potentially attract more aircraft owners to build hangars, which would enable council to collect more in rates. 


Undisclosed Location: Aero Vochody L-29 Delfin heads for hidden home in the Poconos - Pennsylvania

By Andrew Scott,  Pocono Record  
May 03, 2013

It was the aircraft on which Russian fighter pilots once trained.

The Aero Vodochody L-29 Delphin, or "Dolphin," was first designed in the 1950s.

A New Jersey aircraft enthusiast plans to store a 1970s model of this training fighter jet at an undisclosed location here in the Poconos.

Jon Socolof, 49, of Fairfield, New Jersey, a licensed pilot who builds and restores experimental aircraft as a hobby, plans to fly his restored L-29 Delphin to Monroe County Saturday.

Socolof is paying less to store the jet here than what he currently pays for airport hangar storage in Wilmington, Delaware.

"What time I'll be leaving Delaware for the Poconos on Saturday depends on weather," he said. "It also depends on whether (U.S. Vice President) Joe Biden will be going anywhere or returning home that day, since his home is near Wilmington. When he's traveling out or coming in, the airport shuts down."

Socolof bought the L-29 Delfin from Air Investment in Blaine, Minn., in 2011.

It was one of 15 similar aircraft Air Investment had imported in crates from Russia in the 1990s and then reassembled to sell to museums and aircraft enthusiasts like Socolof.

"I became excited about (this particular model of ex-military jet) after doing some specialized training in another ex-military jet for my pilot proficiency," Socolof said. "I found this particular jet on the Internet, contacted Air Investment and paid $40,000. These ex-military jets can be had relatively cheaply, but cost to restore and operate is another thing."

Socolof said his jet hadn't been flown since 2006 and that he's restored it to flying condition.

The prototype of the L-29 Delfin trainer, called the XL-29, first flew in Czechoslovakia on April 5, 1959, powered by a Bristol Siddeley Viper turbojet engine, according to the Warbird Alley website.

The second prototype, first flown in July 1960, was powered by the Czech-designed M701 engine, which was to become the standard installation.

In 1961, the L-29 was entered in a competitive design evaluation to find a new Warsaw Pact basic/advanced jet trainer to replace the piston-engine trainer fleet, according to the website.

The other competitors were the Russian Yakovlev Yak-30 and the Polish TS-11 Iskra.

The L-29 won and subsequently became the standard trainer in all Eastern bloc counties except Poland.

"The jet warbird community is small and although I myself have never been in the military, most of the operators are ex-military and some of the best pilots in the world, including astronauts and Top Gun graduates," Socolof said. "This is a unique kind of flying. It's demanding and requires you to be at the top of your game. Flying these jets is serious business and the (Federal Aviation Administration) makes us prove our proficiency through intense annual check rides."
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Events may return to Fulton County Airport (NY0), Johnstown, New York

JOHNSTOWN - After several years of no community events at the Fulton County Airport, two are planned for this year, including one proposed by an operator of the Sno Kone Joe ice cream trucks.

Joshua Malatino, who made national news this week after Gloversville police charged him Tuesday with harassing competitor Mr. Ding-A-Ling, wants to sponsor a major event at the county airport on Route 67.

Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz recently told county officials Malatino wants to conduct a free Fulton County "family fun day" at the airport from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Aug. 10.

The event - estimated to attract from 2,000 to 5,000 people - would feature fireworks at the end of the day.

The county Buildings and Grounds-Highway Committee on Monday approved the request from Malatino to hold the event at the airport.

However, Mayfield Supervisor Rick Argotsinger, committee chairman, said today his committee will talk about the event again later this month in light of Malatino's arrest Tuesday.

Malatino, 34, and ice cream vendor and Amanda C. Scott, 21, both of 62 East Blvd., Gloversville, were charged with what Gloversville police said was the harassment of Mr. Ding-A-Ling truck operator Phillip Hollister, 53, of Montgomery Street.

Malatino and Scott were charged with second-degree harassment, a violation, and fourth-degree stalking, a misdemeanor.

Police said Malatino and Scott were stalking and harassing Hollister in an effort to force his business out of the city.

Argotsinger said today county supervisors "haven't discussed anything" regarding possibly denying Malatino's request for the airport event, but he said he committee "definitely" will discuss the situation May 29.

In his request to the county, Malatino indicated he would like Fulton County Family Fun Day to include a car show, clowns, food vendors, games, bounce houses and other activities.

Malatino stated in his request, "I will have multiple people working to make sure this day ran smooth, including parking cars, security, help setting up, and cleanup. ... I feel as this event would be good for our community."

The Twin Rivers Council of Boy Scouts also is proposing an event at the airport.

Mraz said the council wants to conduct its annual Fall Camporee from noon Oct. 4 to noon Oct. 6 at the airport off Route 67.

"There could be hundreds and hundreds of Boy Scouts attending this event," Mraz said.

According to its website, the Twin Rivers Council serves 13 counties in northeastern New York: Fulton, Montgomery, Hamilton, Albany, Clinton, Columbia, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington counties. The council serves more than 11,000 youth and 6,000 adult volunteers.

Mraz told supervisors the only issue with the fall camporee might be parking. He said Fulton-Montgomery Community College President Dustin Swanger was contacted, and there may be arrangements to shuttle Boy Scouts and their families to and from the airport from FMCC. People would be allowed to park at the college, and shuttle buses would be used during the camporee.

"That seems to be what's going to happen," Mraz said.

There would be a fireworks display the Saturday night of the camporee. Mraz said the event would feature activities such as tomahawk tossing, BB-gun shooting and archery, radio-controlled aircraft, wall climbing and soda bottle rockets. A tanker truck would be set up for water. The camporee would have six camping areas.

"It's a learning opportunity for the Boy Scouts," Mraz said. "It's a well-organized event and would be a great event."

Malatino and the Boy Scouts council filed applications with the county. Liability insurance is being reviewed by County Attorney Arthur Spring.

The full Board of Supervisors would decide whether to give the proposals final approval.


Allentown airport looking to score with Super Bowl: Lehigh Valley International Airport (KABE), Pennsylvania

By Matt Assad, Of The Morning Call
9:20 p.m. EDT, May 2, 2013  

Hoping to turn the page on a dismal two years, Lehigh Valley International Airport officials are looking to cash in on the Super Bowl in 2014.

No, the struggling airport will not be plunking down $4 million for a 30-second Super Bowl ad that could be viewed by 100 million viewers. But officials believe the airport's proximity to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., may give LVIA a shot at attracting a flock of corporate and private jets during Super Bowl week.

Airport officials hope to attract as many as 100 private planes full of rich folks who would not only pay landing fees and buy fuel at the airport, but also rent hotel rooms and eat in local restaurants.

"The airports close to MetLife will be overwhelmed and overcrowded," LVIA Executive Director Charles Everett Jr. said. "We think we can offer people a lot less time on the tarmac for a little more time on the highway."

It remains to be seen how successful LVIA will be at becoming the unofficial overflow airport of the 2014 Super Bowl. But Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority members are willing to try almost anything to offset a tough economy that has driven down passenger traffic and a grim financial picture worsened by a court order that it pay $26 million for land it took from a developer in the mid-1990s.

Extracting fees from Learjet-owning football fans seems like as good a plan as any, authority members said.

New Orleans Lakefront Airport showed how big the crush of Super Bowl-bound private planes can be.

The small-plane airport 8 miles from the Superdome, where the Baltimore Ravens played the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 3, hosted 500 private planes during Super Bowl week. Plane traffic was so heavy that Lakefront hired an engineer to determine how to pack the planes in tight and rented a crane to quickly remove disabled planes from the runway so others could get through.

A specially hired "ramp boss" and his staff of 10 had to be brought in to direct traffic so that when the game was over, a plane could take off every 60 seconds, said David Smith, Lakefront Airport operations manager.

"It was a lot of business, a lot of fun and a big, big headache for us," Smith said. "It was really something to see. I've been in this business for 47 years and I've never seen anything quite like it."

Even with all that coordination, Lakefront had to turn away dozens of private planes that ended up at airports across the region surrounding New Orleans. That's what LVIA officials are counting on.

Teterboro Airport, 7 miles from MetLife Stadium, will be playing the role of Lakefront this year, but its capacity is much smaller than Lakefront's, Everett said. That means if the Super Bowl gets the same private plane traffic it got last year, hundreds of planes will be forced to use other airports, such as Morristown Municipal Airport, 30 miles to the west; Stewart International Airport, 64 miles north; and yes, even LVIA, 80 miles to the west.

"Teterboro is going to get very congested, very quickly," said Darren Betters, LVIA's director of commercial services. "After that happens, we think we provide about as convenient an option as anyone. I think we could handle as many as 100 planes for the Super Bowl."

So, LVIA will be sending email blasts through its fuel provider and the fixed-based operations companies that line up private air travel. It will also be running Super Bowl ads in air travel trade magazines in the months leading up to the big game. And an authority board committee led by member Marc Troutman is reaching out to the Super Bowl host committee.

LVIA has had limited success in attracting private planes for big events. It has recently begun to gain a small following for the Pocono 400 in June and the Pennsylvania 400 in August at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Monroe County. It had 10 planes from the event last August — mostly transporting teams in the race — and for the first time will be promoting LVIA as a landing zone this year. It's even lined up a helicopter shuttle, available to pick up private-plane passengers at LVIA and drop them right onto the infield at Pocono Raceway.

Within hours of its first email blast promoting LVIA for the June Pocono 400, it had a multiplane reservation placed by the Michael Waltrip Racing team, Betters said.

Still, Smith cautioned LVIA against counting its Super Bowl money before it is collected.

"By the time we hired all the extra security, field people, the ramp boss and the engineers to handle all the craziness, we were lucky to break even," Smith said. "It was great for the community, but we sure didn't get rich doing it."

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Airport now has lighted runway and beacon: Tucker-Guthrie Memorial (I35), Harlan, Kentucky

Just as lighthouses once guided ships to harbor, a rotating beacon at airports guide planes trying to land. After receiving a Federal Aviation Administration grant in the amount of approximately $240,000, the Tucker Guthrie Memorial Airport now has a flashing beacon, runway lights and an illuminated windsock.

“Ordinarily, airport lights are used from twilight at dusk until the following dawn,” said Harlan Airport Board Chairman Mark Miracle. “If weather conditions become unfavorable in the daytime and visibility becomes challenging, beacons will also be used to signal pilots the need to use their instruments for landing and takeoff rather than relying upon visual guidance.”

Miracle said the most important types of airport lights are runway lights. He said airport lights shine at different levels of intensity and are many different colors.

“These colors are significant and very important to safety and airport operations,” said Miracle. “Some colors designate the type of airport a pilot is flying into. Green and white lights are used at civilian airports, while green and white flashing beacons are used at military bases. Without the proper lighting, there would be utter catastrophe on the runways of an airport, as planes wouldn’t know where they were supposed to go, or the length of a particular runway they are supposed to take off from or land upon.”

Miracle said the Harlan airport’s runway is now bordered by white elevated lights on both sides.

He said pilots using the Harlan airport must rely upon instrument approach procedures, so the last several hundred feet of the runway is indicated by amber edge lights.

“There is a threshold of approach at the beginning of each runway. This is the most critical area of the runway because it designates where the plane’s final descent must begin,” said Miracle. “Strobe lights are used here to mark its location. These lights are crucial to the safe landing of planes due to the way that angle of descent and the speed of the plane will distort the perspective of the runway and its true distance from the plane. The runway end identifier lights, with its white bars and flashing strobe lights, provides clearly differentiated visible cues that allow the pilot to line up the plane for landing and designate where the end of the runway is. We are the first airport in the state to have LED runway lights, which will show a very small increase in our electric bills.”

Miracle said lights in the pavement at the end of the runway were also installed indicating the end of the runway.

He said blue taxiway lights, used to differentiate between adjoining taxiways and the runway itself, were installed to assist pilots leaving the runway.

“These lights have been needed for years and years at the Harlan Airport,” said Miracle. “The illuminated windsock is a great help to pilots so they can see the direction of the wind allowing them pertinent information on how to land their planes. You can see the beacon from 20-30 miles away, which helps you find our airport and once you get in closer you’ll see the runway lights especially at night or inclement weather. We took advantage of this grant because if we hadn’t the funds would have gone to another airport. These improvements are an asset to Harlan County and will definitely save lives.”

Read more: The Harlan Daily Enterprise - Airport now has lighted runway and beacon

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Statement from National Air Cargo: Boeing 747-400 freighter, N949CA

May 1, 2013, 8:51 p.m. ET

ORLANDO, Fla., May 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- National Air Cargo will not speculate as to the cause of the accident involving National Flight NCR102. With our full cooperation, an investigation by appropriate authorities is under way, and we encourage everyone to join us in respecting that process and allowing it to take its appropriate course.

Here are some facts regarding the aircraft and its movements prior to the accident:

   -- National Flight NCR102 was en route to Dubai from Camp Bastian and had
      stopped to refuel at Bagram Air Base.

   -- The cargo contained within the aircraft was properly loaded and secured,
      and had passed all necessary inspections prior to departing Camp Bastian.

   -- The aircraft landed safely and uneventfully in Bagram.

   -- No additional cargo or personnel was added during the stop in Bagram, and
      the aircraft's cargo was again inspected prior to departure.

Please visit for updates regarding this tragic accident. Media inquiries can be directed to

About National Airlines:

National Airlines is a wholly owned subsidiary of National Air Cargo Holdings. National Airlines, based in Orlando, FL operates scheduled and on-demand cargo service globally and charter passenger service in the Middle East.

SOURCE National Airlines

CONTACT: Shirley Kaufman,

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Changes in the Wind for Santa Monica Airport

Los Angeles Local News, Weather, and Traffic 

Posted: May 01, 2013 2:41 AM EST 
Updated: May 01, 2013 2:41 AM EST 
Posted by: Pablo Pereira, Meteorologist / Reporter / Web Producer 
By: Gigi Graciette, Reporter 

The debate over the Santa Monica Airport reminds me of coyotes and bears, lion and tigers, oh my!

You know how coyotes and other animals are leaving the wild more and more, wandering into neighborhoods in search of food?

I think they have a fancy term for it - something like "wildland urban interface". Basically we're the ones who are moving into their neighborhood, not vice-versa.

A similar phenomenon has happened in Santa Monica, in and around the airport.

What once were, as LA City Councilman Bill Rosendahl calls it "bean fields and orange groves" are now condos and homes.

Entire neighborhoods with an airport smack dab in the middle of them. And the folks who live there are tired of the noise, pollution, etc...

But the people who use the airport, say "What did you expect, moving next to an airport?"

In turn, those who live there will explain the airport wasn't that busy back then; there weren't studies about toxicity and pollution like there are now, etc...

And on the argument goes.

A ray of hope to those who want to see the airport shuttered is that the FAA's lease with the city expires in 2015.

A ray of hope to those who want to keep the airport open is that the FAA says the lease doesn't really expire in 2015 but in 2023.

And if that doesn't work, Santa Monica's City Attorney says the FAA has a "Post World War II Instrument of Transfer", an agreement that guarantees the airport be operated in "perpetuity". And that the FAA has said it will appeal any effort to close SMO.

And on the argument goes.

Story and Video:

Pilot flew drunk, jury says

A cargo pilot who overshot the Spokane airport by 50 miles last year, then lined up on the wrong runway during his approach, has been convicted in federal court of the rare charge of flying while intoxicated.

Paul R. Roessler, 48, of Federal Way, was flying a twin-engine Piper PA-34 Seneca for a company based in Seattle. He faces up to 15 years in prison, although he’s likely to get far less time when he’s sentenced July 9.

A jury convicted Roessler under the federal statute of operating a common carrier under the influence of alcohol. His trial before U.S. District Court Judge Lonny Suko concluded Friday.

Roessler was working for the contract cargo operator Airpac Airlines Inc. when he took off alone from Seattle’s Boeing Field about 7 p.m. on April 26 last year. Some 42 minutes later, air traffic controllers in Spokane began trying to contact Roessler by radio.

After 10 failed attempts to raise him, air traffic controllers at 8:02 p.m. asked pilots in a nearby United Airlines plane to radio Roessler, but they also were unsuccessful, according to court records.

Roessler finally contacted the Seattle Air Route Traffic Control Center at 8:09 p.m. and said he had accidentally shut off his communication system.

Air controllers “informed the Defendant that he has overflown Spokane by approximately 50 miles and asked if he was going to return to Spokane,” court records say. Roessler said he would. “My mistake, my apologies,” he said.

As Roessler approached Spokane International Airport, controllers told him he was cleared to land on Runway 25. But “during the approach … the Defendant lined up to land on the wrong runway,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Lister wrote in court records.

Air traffic controllers asked him which runway he intended to use, and he shifted course and landed on the correct runway.

Spokane Airport Police sent Officers Clay Creek and Shauna McKinley to check on Roessler’s welfare when he landed, and the airport fire department was also dispatched to the plane.

When the officers arrived, Roessler was already busy unloading the aircraft. He told officers that he’d lost radio contact when he accidentally switched his radio to the wrong channel.

McKinley noted that Roessler’s voice seemed “mushy,” which made her suspect he’d been drinking. Once inside, Roessler walked directly toward a coffee machine, but Creek refused to allow the pilot to drink coffee because he feared Roessler was trying to mask his breath, court records state.

Both officers and a Federal Aviation Administration inspector – who responded to the report of a pilot losing radio contact – said they could smell alcohol.

The officers tested Roessler’s blood-alcohol level an hour after he landed; it measured 0.109 percent. The legal limit to operate a vehicle is 0.08 percent.

They contacted the Washington State Patrol, and Trooper Ethan Wynecoop arrived at about 10 p.m. and put Roessler through a series of sobriety tests, which he either failed or struggled to accomplish. Wynecoop again tested the pilot’s blood-alcohol level; nearly three hours after he landed, it was .94 and .88.

Later, during an interview, Roessler admitted he’d been drinking whiskey mixers that morning. “The Defendant indicated he thought he was alright because there was an eight hour break from ‘bottle to throttle,’ ” Lister wrote.

Roessler’s commercial pilot license has been revoked.

Federal defenders Robert Fischer and Syovata Edari had tried to suppress evidence and have Suko dismiss the case, arguing that breath tests are unreliable and investigators failed to obtain a more reliable blood test. But Suko allowed the case to go to a jury trial. 


Monday, April 29, 2013

United States Citizens Accused of Drug Trafficking in Honduras

Utila BICA an WSORC Light Hawk Volunteers free and clear in Honduras

Editors Note:   Above is the final video recap of the experience USA LightHawk Volunteers in Honduras endured after being accused of drug trafficking in Honduras. As you can see in the video, the accused have been “cleared of all charges”.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank the various volunteers in Utila, Roatan, La Ceiba, El Progreso and Tegucigalpa who assisted in clearing up this unfortunate error.

We would like to also thank the Honduras law enforcement and forensic team for doing their jobs in a very professional and expedient manner, the lawyers and interpreters, the fiscalia, and the Ministerio Publico de Honduras. In addition, the Utila United effort, as well as the Utila police force, which as you can see, treated our Honduras guests with the utmost respect.

In addition, thank you very much to the ICF, BICA, CANATURH, Fundación Cuero y Salado, as well as the media, who helped cover this incident in a responsible fashion. HQTV Utila, Tele Progresso (TP) and its various affiliate TV stations in Honduras, Radio Ceiba, Estereo 100, Radio America, and HRN. 

Last but not least, the many volunteers and tourists who assisted.   Additionally, special appreciation goes out to our Team photographer and video productions editor, Carlos Melgar, for his numerous hours, and our Honduras national correspondent, Roberto Zuniga.

Editors Note: Si se puede Catrachos! 

Editors Note - Breaking News:  The  US citizens accused of drug trafficking in Honduras (LightHawk volunteers) left Utila at 1:00 pm, Honduras time for Belize today, where they will continue their mission work.  The two individuals stated they will return to Honduras in the future.  A live interview was taped and is being edited for publication. Please check back to see the final video interview with the LightHawk volunteers.

April 26, 2013

Editors Note:  Moments ago we received a phone call stating that the Accused have had their belongings returned and will be in Utila shortly. will provide their story once they have a chance to “re-group”. 9:15 AM Friday April 26, 2013. Thanks to everyone who assisted, and to the Honduras Government for recognizing their mistake. – Team [ LightHawk, please accept our sincere apology, and don't let this dissuade you from continuing to help our country.]

The public ministry granted two US citizens accused of drug trafficking in Honduras, release on their own recognizance.  The Americans were piloting a small plane and subsequently arrested last Friday (April 19, 2013) in Utila, Bay Islands, on suspicion of a drug trafficking crime.

The authorities will practice an ion test on the seized aircraft to identify possible traces of drugs.

Carl Wayne Mattson and Julie Anna Boyd were set free, but are still under investigation by prosecutors and police.

The report of the Departmental Headquarter number 11 states that according to research and information from the Directorate of Drug Trafficking and the Air Force, the plane piloted by both citizens unloaded drugs in the sector of Cuero y Salado (a Wildlife Refuge where Manatees enjoy their freedom, as well as many other species of protected wildlife), and then flew to La Ceiba, where they refueled.

Later they left for the island of  Utila.  When the plane landed, they were stopped immediately by policemen who awaited their arrival, and then taken to the police headquarters, where their statements were taken.

The case was reported to the prosecutor on duty, who gave instructions to keep the plane in police custody and the pilots kept under guard, as they were considered responsible for a drug trafficking crime.  As the investigation continues, the foreigners must remain in Honduras.

Read more here:

Mooney M20F Executive, N9524M: Search for pilot to resume in June -- Solvang resident went missing in December

A search for a missing Solvang pilot whose single-engine airplane apparently crashed near Yosemite National Park’s Half Dome will be resumed in June, park officials said. 

 Nicol Wilson’s 1966 Mooney M20F disappeared from radar Dec. 17 after he left Santa Ynez Airport headed for Mammoth Lakes Airport to join his family for a holiday celebration. Wilson, 66, was the only person aboard the aircraft.

Officials were able to discern the approximate location of the missing plane at the point where it was last detected by radar, but rescuers have been unable to reach the site because of bad weather. The location, which covers more than 600 square miles, remains cloaked in heavy snow.

A park spokesperson told the San Francisco Chronicle last year, “This is definitely like looking for a needle in a haystack. This is a very small plane, it is a single engine plane and it was white. The area they are looking in is completely covered in snow, so the chances of spotting the plane are going to be extremely hard. Also, with the sun being so low this time of the year, it has created shadows from some of the peaks making it difficult to see in the dark areas of those shadows.”

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NTSB Identification: WPR13FAMS1
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, December 17, 2012 in Yosemite Valley, CA
Aircraft: MOONEY M20F, registration: N9524M
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 17, 2012, about 1230 Pacific standard time, a Mooney M20F airplane, N9524M, was reported overdue/missing near Yosemite Valley, California. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, sustained unknown injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the personal flight. The flight originated from the Santa Ynez Airport (IZA), Santa Ynez, California, about 1025 with an intended destination of Mammoth Lakes, California. An emergency locator beacon signal has not been reported.

A family member of the pilot reported the airplane overdue to local law enforcement the evening of December 17, 2012, after becoming concerned when the pilot had not arrived at his intended destination. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an Alert Notification (ALNOT) for the missing airplane at 2309.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Airliner struck by lightning: Chattanooga, Tennessee

Reported by: Erik Avanier,  WDEF-12

Published: 4:15 pm
Updated: 5:23 pm

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDED) – Passengers on board Allegiant Airline flight 804 to Chattanooga were startled Sunday morning when their plane was hit by lightning.

It happened about 100 miles from Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport when the MD80 aircraft was beginning to descend from a higher altitude into thick gray clouds.

“It was pretty scary and terrifying to see the actual lightning and feel the jolt of the plane,” said passenger Darcy Barella.

The plane took-off from St. Petersburg / Clearwater International Airport shortly after 7 A.M. and was due to arrive in Chattanooga by 8:30 A.M.

Prior to boarding the aircraft in Clearwater Florida, passengers were warned about a weather advisory in the Chattanooga area.

Nearly fifty minutes into the flight, the ride became very bumpy as the plane began to descend from a higher altitude with clear conditions into a lower altitude with dark clouds. When lightning hit the aircraft, many passengers including one flight attendant began to worry.

Several passengers seated near the rear of the aircraft with window seats confirmed to flight attendants that a bolt of lightning appeared to strike the planes right wing.

“I just happen to be looking out the window when lightning struck and it was like an explosion. It looked like it was inside the cabin but you could tell it was outside. My palms were never so sweaty while we were landing,” said passenger Tanaha Coontz.

The plane landed 15 minutes after it was hit and once it came to complete stop on the tarmac, a flight attendant came close to opening the rear left side emergency exit but later decided it was safe for everyone to get off at the front exit ramp.

Aside from some jilted nerves, no injuries were reported.


Gallons of fuel spill out from plane: Buffalo Niagara International Airport (KBUF), New York

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Gallons of jet fuel spilled of out an open fuel vent Sunday morning.

According to Vice President Marketing at Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Doug Hartmayer, around 11 a.m., Prior Aviation was refueling a jet when an open fuel vent caused 15-20 gallons to spill.

No fuel leaked on the Buffalo Niagara International Airport property, and the area has since been isolated.

Prior Aviation cleaned up the spill. The Airport Fire Department responded to the incident.

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Economic decline hurts El Paso International Airport (KELP), Texas

By Evan Mohl \ El Paso Times
Posted:   04/28/2013 01:33:36 AM MDT

The El Paso International Airport is facing a decline in passenger traffic and additional cancellations of flights -- something that is causing growing concern among city leaders.

Tight economic times and ongoing challenges of airline companies have caused city officials and leaders to search for ways to maintain and increase the airport's flights and passenger traffic.

The airline industry's struggles with profitability, increasing fuel costs and mergers have drastically affected small and midsize airports that depend on airlines for business, said Brent Bowen, professor and head of aviation technology at Purdue University.

The El Paso airport, with a taxpayer-funded budget of about $48 million, is not immune.

The airport's traffic is down 15 percent since 2010, said Monica Lombrana, the city's director of aviation. Lombrana also said Southwest Airlines, which operates more than half of El Paso's daily flights, plans to stop its direct flight to San Diego in the near future.

The announcement comes a few months after the airline stopped its two nonstop flights to Albuquerque.

"It's a pretty stark situation for medium-sized airports," Bowen said. "And it has pretty much everything to do with the airline industry, which those airports have little or no control over."

The airport's struggle to increase passengers and add flights coincides with a decade-long tailspin of the airline industry that's brought consolidation, bankruptcies, mergers and cuts. The New York Times reported that most airlines have struggled to turn a profit, while some airports, including Pittsburgh and St. Louis, are searching for ways to use empty space because of decreased traffic.

Passenger traffic at the El Paso airport used to hover at more than 3 million a year, even in the 2008 and 2009 recession years. But in 2012, the number dropped below 2.9 million.

So far this year, it doesn't look better. Through the first three months in 2013, the number of passengers was down 3 percent compared with the same period in 2012.

The airport also faces another uncertainty.

In October 2014, the federal Wright Amendment, which restricts flights from Dallas Love Field to certain states surrounding Texas, expires. The amendment was part of the International Transportation Act of 1979 and designed to protect and grow Dallas Forth Worth International Airport.

The amendment has meant that Southwest flights going from Dallas to many destinations such as San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles could not be direct and had to stop in a bordering state or Texas city such as El Paso.

Southwest, based in Dallas, states on its website that repealing the Wright Amendment will not necessarily reduce or add to flights at other airports. Rather, the company says passengers will have more options while cities, such as El Paso, can market itself to previously unreachable cities.

Southwest is based in Dallas, and Love Field is getting multimillion-dollar improvements.

Lombrana said that the El Paso airport is carefully monitoring the situation. She said the cancellation of the San Diego flight could be part of Southwest's plans with the end of the Wright Amendment.

Southwest spokeswoman Katie McDonald said that she could not comment on future plans and that scheduling strategy is based on demand. Southwest has 28 nonstop departures to eight cities out of El Paso. The next closest airline is American, with 12 daily flights that serve three cities.

"We've got some challenges," Lombrana said. "But we're not alone."

Other airports around the country are facing similar situations, Bowen said. Bowen explained that it's more profitable and cheaper for airlines to send 10 regional jet flights -- that have about 40 and 70 seats -- between two major cities relatively close to each other rather than send a full-size plane once or twice a day to a distant midsize city.

The numbers are not all doom and gloom, Lombrana said. Lombrana pointed out that while travel dropped 15 percent since 2010, prices have increased at a rate of 23 percent.

El Paso also has not suffered as much as some other Southwest cities, according to a study provided by a consultant to the El Paso airport.

From 2008 to 2011, El Paso lost 10 percent of its traffic while the Albuquerque airport traffic fell 12 percent and Reno, Nev., airport traffic dropped 15 percent. From 2008 to 2012, Tucson had nonstop service destinations fall nearly 50 percent, while El Paso lost 30 percent.

El Paso has a bigger population than all three of the other cities and fewer gates at the airport.

Bowen said El Paso has some intrinsic advantages. Though its isolation makes travel more expensive, there are no other close alternatives, and car trips are long.

"People are going to need to travel out of El Paso by air," he said. "And unlike some smaller airports that are an hour or two away from major airports, El Paso is not in that situation."


El Paso, however, cannot rely just on isolation to attract passengers, Bowen said. The city must campaign and promote the airport, tourism and business opportunities.

That's exactly what Lombrana and airport officials are doing. They have had meetings with Southwest officials and are trying to tap into the Mexican market by reaching out to Aeromexico and Volaris.

Bowen said keeping Southwest active in El Paso is critical, given the airline's financial strength and current traffic at the airport.

In a meeting with the City Council, Lombrana showed a part of a presentation given at the Southwest meeting. The slide show highlights El Paso as regional destination with Juárez and Southern New Mexico. It points out magazine rankings and accolades such as best midsize city for job growth, safest city, one of the best cities for the cost of doing business and a top metro area for projected job growth.

Border business gets significant time in the presentation -- in 2011, 18 percent of all trade between the U.S. and Mexico came through El Paso -- while the $5 billion expansion at Fort Bliss is highlighted.

Lombrana said the next step is proving that the El Paso airport is affordable and worth the airline's money. The tax the airport charges the airline per passenger is well below the national average, but she said the city needs to do more.

As a result, officials want to increase the existing incentives to airlines. Lombrana said the airport now matches the airline's marketing up to $25,000 if the airline adds a new, nonstop destination that departs at least five times a week.

Airport officials want to increase that incentive to $50,000.

Other incentives include a reduction in landing fees.

Airport officials and City Council members agree that the private sector must get involved. City Rep. Steve Ortega said Albuquerque was able to add a nonstop flight to New York City by guaranteeing a certain number of seats purchased.

Lombrana said that had to do with business, something the airport can't do under government regulations.

"We have to market ourselves as a growing city that's not just a border town but with growing industry like electronics and systems," Ortega said. "We need cooperation from the business side."

Officials in December met with Southwest officials about adding nonstop service to the Washington, D.C., area with flights to Baltimore. Lombrana said Washington, D.C., is by far the top destination for El Paso passengers the airport doesn't have nonstop service to. It has 35 percent more passengers than the next-closest city, New York.

Lombrana attributes that to Fort Bliss and government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security.

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Federal Aviation Administration investigates fatal skydiving accident: Alexander Municipal Airport (E80), Belen, New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Emergency crews rushed to the Belen airport Saturday afternoon, after a day out for a New Mexico skydiver turned deadly. 
Witnesses say the skydiver's parachute did open, but he made a fast and hard turn to the ground.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Witnesses say the man was an experienced skydiver.
His name and age have not been released.
The Federal Aviation Administration is now investigating the accident. 

Shreveport Regional (KSHV), Louisiana: Airport reopens runway (With Video)

Repaving the secondary artery took 7 months, cost $5M+ 

Airport officials and community leaders had front-row seats to a takeoff and a sequence of landings Friday at Shreveport Regional Airport to celebrate the completion of a seven-month project to repave Runway 6-24. 

“This is a more than $5 million project to completely rebuild this runway,” said Bill Cooksey, deputy airports director “If you had driven this runway a year ago, you would have seen rock coming loose or gravel. It was deteriorating very rapidly and it was becoming, to us, a safety issue.”

Shreveport Regional is home to 85 general aviation aircraft. They are the ones that most often will use the secondary runway, which at 6,202 feet long can accommodate most plane types up to larger, narrow-body aircraft. Larger planes still have use of the airport’s primary runway, which is 8,351 feet long.

The repairs were funded by the Federal Aviation Administration and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s aviation division. While necessary, the project likely will have little effect on the local economy, according to Mark Crawford, marketing and public relations manager for Shreveport’s airports.

Airport Authority board member Margaret Sheehee said the repaired runway may have unforeseen benefits. “You never know, there could be. If we have better runways and better equipment, that does attract business,” she said, noting that Shreveport Regional is the primary airport for all of northwest Louisiana, not just Shreveport.

“We want people from Arkansas to come here, we want people from east Texas to come here, we want everybody to come here. With more safety and better equipment, the rising tide lifts all boats. It’s good for everybody.”

Story and Video:

Classic Biplane Tours: Louisville, Kentucky

Photo Credit: WDRB 41 Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- There is lots to see in our city, from Churchill Downs to the Slugger Factor. But it's a whole new perspective up in the air! 

Steve Koch bought a biplane 10 years ago but he didn't want to keep it all to himself. He started his business, Classic Biplane Tours, which has taken off!

"It's just a real cool experience like riding an airplane that's like a convertible," says Koch.

We couldn't just take his word for it, so we jumped in the front seat to try it out ourselves.

"Louisville's got some pretty interesting places to see we've got Churchill Downs, Papa John's Stadium, we've got the museums downtown the waterfront is beautiful in the air," said Koch.

It is truly the best way to see our city. We traveled east along the Ohio River, touring the countryside and landed back to Churchill

Classic Biplane Tours flies everyday, through October.

For information on how to book your flight, go to

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Hundreds attend airport open house: Madison (I39), Richmond, Kentucky

Alek Masters, 9, of Richmond jumps from the wing of a Diamond DA40 Saturday after returning from a Young Eagle flight provided by the Madison County chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association. The free flights for children from age 8-17 were offered as the Madison Airport conducted its annual open house.

April 28, 2013 

By Bill Robinson, Richmond Register

RICHMOND — The Madison Airport gave its second annual open house Saturday, and despite the threat of rain, at least 300 showed up.

Among them were 80 children, or Young Eagles, who were given free rides in light airplanes by members of the local Experimental Aircraft Association chapter.

The open house was an occasion for the airport board and Eastern Kentucky University, its fixed base operator, to announce the airport had been awarded the Federal Aviation Administration's annual regional safety award.

Despite the increased traffic from EKU's flight training program, which keeps 14 leased aircraft at the airport, the extra 500 feet added to its runway and its new full-length taxiway helped the airport attain the safety record which won the award, said Jason Bonham, the airport manager.

The university, which operates the only baccalaureate aviation program in Kentucky, has 80 students taking flight instruction.  Additional students are enrolled as aviation majors.

The free flights for children age 8 through 17 were scheduled from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., but they were cut short when a light rain began to fall around 1 p.m.

That didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the children, many of whom were making their first flight, or at least their first flight in a light plane.

His flight was like riding a roller coaster, said Alek Masters, 9, a home-schooled student who lives in Richmond.

“It went up and down and then sideways,” he said after stepping from the small plane’s passenger section onto its wing and then jumping to the pavement.

Peggie Moore, 15, who recently moved to Richmond from New Orleans with her family, said she got a good view of the mountains and saw islands of trees when she flew. From the air, cattle looked like dots on the ground, she said, and described a house in the shape of a compass.

Studies have shown that children who get to fly in light planes develop an interest in science and make better grades than their counterparts who don’t have the experience, said Dr. Wilma Walker, the airport board chairman and retired head of EKU’s aviation program.

The airport is staying busy, Walker said, and it has a waiting list for hangar space.

Even tie-down space on the airport apron is getting scarce, she said, calling an expanded apron and additional hanger space among the facility’s greatest needs. Both are listed as priorities on the airport improvement plan it has filed with state government and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Tonita Goodwin, executive director of the Richmond Industrial Development Corp., said the airport is an important asset in industrial recruitment. Industrial and retail prospects, as well as existing industries and retail chains in Madison County are frequent users of the airport.

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GE Aviation: Skilled workforce keeps manufacturer flying high

 Posted on April 28, 2013

By Mike Faulk, Yakima Herald-Republic

When people think aerospace and Washington state, those thoughts drift west of the Cascades to Boeing and Seattle. But Yakima has its own successful aerospace parts manufacturing plant at GE Aviation near the Yakima Air Terminal.

The manufacturing plant, which was acquired by General Electric from Smiths Aerospace in 2007, employs 309 Yakima-area residents. That makes the company one of the largest durable goods manufacturers in the county. (The largest is Shields Bag & Printing, a plastic packaging company in Yakima, with about 500 employees.)

The vast majority of GE Aviation’s machinists, technicians and other employees work almost exclusively in constructing parts for aerospace systems from landing gear to electronics systems, Washington, D.C.-based spokeswoman Kelly Walsh said.

Walsh said nationwide about 85 percent of engines made by the company were sold as exports. She said the company doesn’t track export estimates for individual plants.

“The nice part of our business is we make it here, we sell it there,” Walsh said. “It’s a key economic driver for the U.S. economy.”

The plant is best known for making internal locking actuators and repeatable release holdback bars, which are used to launch military planes from aircraft carriers.

Nearly 35 percent of the plant’s products are built for the military, and the remainder are made for commercial customers.

GE Aviation, with its headquarters in Cincinnati, has about 25,000 employees nationally and 39,000 globally, Walsh said.

The company has increased its number of employees in Yakima by more than 50 in just the past three years, Walsh said. In 2010, she said there were about 250 employees compared with the 309 employees as of April.

The company would not release wage and salary information. David McFadden, CEO of the county’s economic development agency, New Vision, said GE Aviation has “some of the best wages of any manufacturer in the Valley.”

Last fall, the company announced it was seeking a buyer for the Yakima manufacturing plant, but Walsh said none has been found so far. Without delving into specifics, Walsh said the plant is up for sale because the parts it manufactures no longer fit into the company’s long-term vision for its portfolio.

Walsh said regardless of which company owns the plant, the Yakima location would always remain in the aerospace manufacturing business.

The Yakima plant has changed company hands several times since its founding in 1921 by brothers Roy, Henry and Ray Decoto.

GE Aviation first went into business building “turbosuperchargers” for military aircraft engines during World War I. The company eventually turned to the commercial sector and grew rapidly in the 1970s and 1980s.

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