Friday, May 03, 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