Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lehigh Valley International Airport (KABE) may close Braden Airpark: Analysis concludes 80-acre strip in Forks Township costs too much to keep open - Allentown, Pennsylvania

By Matt Assad, Of The Morning Call

9:06 p.m. EDT, May 23, 2013

Braden Airpark, the small-plane airfield in Forks Township where thousands of pilots have learned to fly and dozens base their planes, could soon be closed.

Lehigh Valley International Airport officials Tuesday will recommend that the 80-acre air strip be shut down because it is a money drain on the cash-strapped airport authority's budget.

The Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority is not expected to act on the matter Tuesday, but the airport staff's analysis that the 75-year-old airfield is not worth the expense of keeping it open will fall hard on the ears of local pilots who say airport administrators are being short-sighted.

"The authority has to look very closely at how it allocates its limited funds," said Charles Everett Jr., airport executive director. "We can ill afford to operate three airports, when we can accommodate all the planes at two."

The authority is dealing with a crushing combination of plummeting passenger traffic and finding a way to pay off the remaining $14 million of a $26 million court judgment against it for taking a developer's land in the 1990s.

Everett said if the authority board accepts the recommendation, all 49 small planes at Braden can be moved to LVIA or the 210-acre Queen City Airport in south Allentown. It would be a bitter pill for members of the Lehigh Valley General Aviation Association, who argue that Braden Airpark, along Sullivan Trail, isn't just a playground for hobbyist pilots. They maintain it promotes business in the region and is responsible for millions in indirect economic commerce in the form of fuel purchases, aircraft maintenance and employee salaries.

"I can't believe they're thinking about giving up this asset," said Erik Chuss, the Forks Township supervisor chairman who has a plane based at Braden. "The impact on this community is much greater than they are giving it credit for."

In 1938, Edwin Braden, a packaged-meat seller who was passionate about aviation, bought four small farm parcels, mapped out a grassy runway and opened the small-plane airport. It not only served as one of the first dealerships for Piper aircraft, but it was also a place where people could learn to fly, practice their hobby or keep the plane they use for transportation.

During World War II, students in a Lafayette College civilian pilot program used Braden to prepare to be pilots in the war. It remained family-owned until 1999, when the authority bought it.

Each year since, its 1,956-foot long strip has launched about 200 flights a week — most of them by flight school students — but also many by charter and recreational pilots. With Moyer Aviation operating it, the airport ran on a tight budget of roughly $56,000 per year, posting a surplus most years of a few thousand dollars.

But those numbers don't tell the full story, Everett said. When LVIA refused to give Vern Moyer a long-term lease in April, he took his aviation company that ran the flight school and aircraft maintenance center to Pocono Mountain Municipal Airport.

And with him went the $56,000 he paid each year to lease the airport. Now the authority has to pay staff to run the airport, but without the flight school and maintenance center, it doesn't get nearly enough lease payment from pilots to cover the costs.

In addition, that small surplus Braden posted each year didn't take into account the roughly $200,000 the authority spends to pay off the bonds that helped buy the airport for $2.4 million in 1999. Beyond that, if the airport stays open, its six hangars, terminal building and airport grounds will need millions of dollars in capital improvements. Those are expenses the authority can't afford, at least not when it has viable options for placing the 49 aircraft that use it, Everett said.

If Braden is closed, the 80 acres could be sold to help the airport pay its mounting debt, Everett said. The authority does not have a buyer for it, but Everett said that would likely change if the property went on the open market.

The authority board will get its first look at the staff recommendations Tuesday. Authority Chairman Tony Iannelli gave no time frame for when a decision would be made, but he said a final vote is unlikely Tuesday.

"From a business perspective, it's a money-loser that doesn't appear viable," Iannelli said. "But there is a community perspective to consider as well. I have a pretty good indication of what the staff will recommend, but I'm willing to keep an open mind."

Few people know that community perspective better than Paul Braden, Edwin Braden's son. The Lutheran minister's family ran the airport until it sold it to the airport in the hopes of preventing it from being turned into a shopping center or warehouses. They did it to preserve his father's legacy.

"[Lafayette] College would have paid us more, but we sold it to the airport because we wanted it to remain an airfield," Paul Braden said. "This is very disappointing. Once it's gone, it's gone forever."


Seawind 3000 (built by Larry E. Sapp), N514KT: Accident occurred April 02, 2012 in Deland, Florida

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Final Report:

Docket And Docket Items  -  National Transportation Safety Board:

National Transportation Safety Board -  Aviation Accident Data Summary:

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA265
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, April 02, 2012 in Deland, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/02/2013
Aircraft: SAPP LARRY E SEAWIND 3000, registration: N514KT
Injuries: 3 Serious, 2 Minor.

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.

The pilot/owner flew the experimental amateur-built amphibious airplane with a pilot-rated passenger on a long cross-country flight to a land-based airport the day before the accident. The pilots landed the airplane uneventfully after the cross-country flight; however, while they were en route, the airplane’s transponder malfunctioned. The next day, the pilots departed to have the transponder replaced at a nearby maintenance facility. The airplane lost total engine power shortly after takeoff, stalled, and descended into a supermarket located about 1 mile from the departure end of the runway, where it was consumed by a postcrash fire. 

The pilot-rated passenger reported that there were no problems with the airplane’s takeoff roll and initial climb; however, when the pilot turned to the crosswind leg of the traffic pattern, the engine lost total power. A pilot at the departure airport reported that the accident airplane rotated about 500 feet before the end of the runway and began a shallow climb, while mostly maintaining a high pitch angle. Shortly thereafter, he observed the airplane stall and enter a descending left spin, before it disappeared behind a tree line. 

Postaccident examination of wreckage did not reveal any preimpact malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal engine operation; however, the condition of the wreckage precluded the investigators from functionally checking the engine, its associated components, and fuel system. In addition, it could not be determined if debris that was found in the airplane’s fuel system was present before the postcrash fire.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A total loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined because the damage and postimpact fire precluded thorough examination of the engine and its systems.


On April 2, 2012, about 1920 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built amphibious Seawind 3000, N514KT, owned and operated by a private individual, was substantially damaged when it impacted a building shortly after takeoff from the Deland Municipal Airport (DED), Deland, Florida. The private pilot owner and a commercial pilot passenger were seriously injured (The private pilot owner succumbed to his injuries on May 26, 2012). One person inside the building was seriously injured, and two other individuals inside the building sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the flight that was destined for the Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB), Daytona Beach, Florida. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to witnesses and information obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the pilot/owner and pilot-rated passenger flew from the Aurora Municipal Airport (ARR), Aurora, Illinois, to DED on April 1, 2012, with a refueling stop in Tennessee, to begin training for a seaplane rating on the morning of the accident. The training was to be conducted on a lake in Altamonte Springs, Florida, utilizing a float equipped Maule M-7-235. The owner originally intended to land in Sanford, Florida; however, he elected to land at DED after the airplane's transponder malfunctioned while en route. The purpose of the accident flight was to fly to DAB to have the transponder replaced at a maintenance facility.

During a telephone conversation with an employee at the maintenance facility, the pilot/owner reported that he was new to the airplane, which he had purchased about 6 weeks earlier, after it had not been flown for about 3 years.

The airplane departed from runway 23, a 4,301-foot-long, asphalt runway.

The passenger reported that there were no problems with the airplane’s takeoff roll and initial climb. As the pilot turned crosswind, the engine suddenly quit. His next recollection was rolling on the floor of a supermarket. The passenger did not hear any engine sputtering or observe any other anomalies during the flight. He was also not able to recall the point at which the airplane lifted off the runway, the altitude the engine lost power, or any instrument indications.
A pilot at DED reported that he landed on runway 23, and while taxiing, observed the accident airplane depart. The airplane rotated about 500 feet prior to the end of the runway, and began a shallow climb, while mostly maintaining a high pitch angle. Shortly thereafter, he observed the airplane "stall" and enter a descending left spin, before it disappeared behind a tree line. He did not hear any communications from the accident airplane over the airport common traffic advisory frequency after the takeoff.

A witness, who was in a car that was parked outside the front entrance of the supermarket, reported that she heard one or two "sputtering" engine sounds. She then looked up and observed the airplane in a climb attitude, very low in the sky. The airplane turned left and immediately descended straight down, nose first into the roof of the supermarket.


The pilot/owner, age 60, held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on September 9, 2010. At that time, he reported a total flight experience of 450 hours. The pilot reported 495 hours of total flight experience, which included 15 hours during the previous 12 months, on an insurance application dated September 22, 2009.

The pilot/owner’s logbooks were not located and his total flight experience and his flight experience in make and model could not be determined. 

The passenger, age 52, held a commercial pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine, multiengine and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate, prior to the accident, was issued on January 3, 2012. At that time, he reported 4,000 hours of total flight experience.

The passenger had known the pilot since 1994. He was not aware of the pilot’s intention to purchase the accident airplane. He was aware that the pilot was previously interested in purchasing the certified version of the Seawind upon its release. The passenger had flown with the pilot in the accident airplane for about 1 hour, about 1 week prior to the accident. He believed the pilot had received some initial training in the airplane from the individual who brokered the sale; however, he was not able to estimate the pilot’s flight experience in make and model.


The amphibian, four-seat, high-wing, retractable-gear, composite airplane, serial number 60, was manufactured from a kit in 2002. It was powered by a tail-mounted Lycoming IO-540-K1G5D, serial number L-18822-48A, 300-horsepower engine, equipped with a three-bladed Hartzell HC-E3YR-1RF constant-speed propeller assembly.

According to records obtained from the FAA, the airplane was issued an experimental airworthiness certificate in July 2002, and was purchased by the private pilot on January 7, 2012.

The airframe and engine logbooks were not located.

According to Lycoming, the engine was manufactured in 1978 and subsequently shipped to Piper Aircraft Company.

A search of the NTSB accident database revealed that the same serial number engine that was installed on the accident airplane was previously installed on a Piper PA32RT-300, N2221G that was involved in a fatal accident on March 7, 1993, after it experienced a partial loss of engine power during takeoff, in Big Bear City, California (NTSB Accident Number - LAX93FA141). At that time, the engine had been operated for about 3,800 total hours and about 1,030 hours since it was overhauled during February 1985.

An engine repair invoice from a repair station in Zephyrhills, Florida, revealed that the engine was overhauled during October 2001.

The airplane listing information provided by the pilot’s representative indicated that the airplane had been operated for 400 hours, which included the engine being operated for 400 total hours since overhaul. The listing also noted that the airplane was equipped with long range fuel tanks (110 gallons), had undergone a condition inspection on May 3, 2011, and the sale price included 10 hours of dual instruction. The broker was fatally injured in a Seawind 3000 accident that occurred in Sarasota, Florida, on January 12, 2013 (NTSB Accident Number – ERA13FA109).

A third individual, who was a friend of the passenger, and was also attending the seaplane training reported that the pilot/owner told him the that the airplane performed well during the flight from Illinois to Florida, and cruised at 155 knots, with a fuel burn of 17 gallons per hour. The pilot/owner also mentioned to him that the airplane was purchased from an estate sale and had not been flown for a 3 year period.

According to fueling records obtained from a fixed-base operator at McMinn County Airport (MMI), Athens, Texas, the airplane was “topped-off” with 50.8 gallons of 100-low-lead aviation gasoline on April 1, 2012.


The reported weather at DED, elevation 80 feet, at 1935 was: wind 240 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 7 statute miles; sky clear; temperature 29 degrees Celsius (C); dew point 15 degrees C; altimeter 29.87 inches of mercury.


The airplane descended into the roof of a supermarket, located about 1 mile from the departure end of runway 23. The airplane penetrated the roof, and impacted shelving before coming to rest upright, on a heading of about 260 degrees.

The airplane was initially examined at the accident site and then recovered to a storage facility for additional examination.

A postcrash fire destroyed the cockpit and consumed the airframe, with the exception of the outboard 8 feet of the right wing and small composite fragments. The outboard 56 inches of the right aileron and outboard 11-inches of the right flap remained attached. Both right wing fuel tank caps remained installed. The right elevator tip was located on the roof top. All three landing gear were located in the debris, as was the top portion of the vertical fin.

All primary flight controls were connected at their respective control columns and pedals in the cockpit. Flight control continuity for the elevator was confirmed from the cockpit to the elevator bellcrank control tube. The right aileron control cable remained attached to the control surface. The left aileron cable was intact to a charred portion of the left aileron bellcrank. The rudder control cables were continuous from the cockpit, to about the mid-cabin area.

The propeller assembly remained attached to the crankshaft flange. One propeller blade was melted about 24 inches from the hub. A second blade was separated about 17 inches from the hub, with its outboard section located in the debris. A third blade was intact. Two of the propeller blades had curled tips and contained a series of small leading edge gouges. All of the propeller blades were relatively straight, with no twisting damage. The propeller pitch change mechanism remained intact; however, it did not display any witness marks associated with propeller blade angle position.

The engine, including all accessories sustained fire damage. A subsequent teardown of the engine at Lycoming Engines, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, did not reveal any preimpact malfunctions. The engine was rotated about 350 degrees, with corresponding valve continuity and piston movement, prior to coming to a hard stop. During disassembly, a piece of molten metal was located between a connecting rod and counterweight, which resulted in restricted movement. The spark plugs were removed and their electrodes were found intact. The fuel injector fuel inlet screen was found properly installed and absent of contamination. It was also noted that the engine crankcase numbers did not match. In addition, five of the six cylinders contained different part numbers. According to a Lycoming representative, two of the cylinders (Nos. 1 and 2) were not approved for installation on the IO-540K series engine.

The engine fuel flow transducer, fuel line and fitting, which were heavily fire damaged, were examined at the Safety Board’s Material’s Laboratory, Washington, DC., in an attempt to identify if debris found in those components may have been present prior to the accident. A black colored particulate was removed from the transducer and similar material was removed from the fuel line. Examination of the particles utilizing a Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) micro-spectrometer with a germanium attenuated total reflectance (ATR) accessory revealed no significant spectral patterns, which was consistent with little or no organic material present. The samples were then analyzed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and quantitative standardless energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS), which revealed the presence of materials found within the engine and fuel system. Due to the extent of the fire damage to the transducer, fuel lines, and fitting it was not possible to determine if the debris was present prior to the fire.       

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA265 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, April 02, 2012 in Deland, FL
Aircraft: SAPP LARRY E SEAWIND 3000, registration: N514KT
Injuries: 3 Serious,2 Minor.

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 April 2, 2012, about 1920 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Seawind 3000, N514KT, owned and operated by a private individual, was substantially damaged when it impacted a building shortly after takeoff from the Deland Municipal Airport (DED), Deland, Florida. The certificated private pilot owner and a commercial pilot in the airplane were seriously injured. One person inside the building was seriously injured, and two other individuals inside the building sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the flight that was destined for the Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB), Daytona Beach, Florida. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to records obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the amphibious airplane was issued an experimental airworthiness certificate in July 2002, and was purchased by the private pilot during January 2012.

According to witnesses and information obtained from the FAA, the pilot/owner and pilot-rated passenger flew from Aurora, Illinois, to DED on April 1, 2012, with a refueling stop in Tennessee, to begin training for a seaplane rating in Altamonte Springs, Florida, on the morning of the accident. The owner originally intended to land in Sanford, Florida; however, he elected to land at DED after the airplane's transponder malfunctioned while en route. The purpose of the accident flight was to fly to DAB to have the transponder replaced at a maintenance facility.

During a telephone conversation with an employee at the maintenance facility, the pilot/owner reported that he was new to the airplane, which he had purchased about 6 weeks earlier, after it had not been flown for about 3 years.

The airplane departed from runway 23, a 4,301-foot-long, asphalt runway.

A pilot at DED reported that he landed on runway 23, and while taxiing, observed the accident airplane depart. The airplane rotated about 500 feet prior to the end of the runway, and began a shallow climb, while mostly maintaining a high pitch angle. Shortly thereafter, he observed the airplane "stall" and enter a descending left spin, before it disappeared behind a tree line. He did not hear any communications from the accident airplane over the airport common traffic advisory frequency after the takeoff.

A witness, who was in a car that was parked outside the front entrance of a supermarket, reported that she heard two "sputtering" engine sounds. She then looked up and observed the airplane in a climb attitude, very low in the sky. The airplane turned left and immediately descended straight down, nose first.

The airplane descended into the roof of a supermarket, located about 1 mile from the departure end of the runway. The airplane penetrated the roof, and impacted shelving before coming to rest upright, on a heading of about 260 degrees.

A postcrash fire destroyed the cockpit and consumed a majority of the airframe, which was constructed of composite materials. The airplane was equipped with a tail-mounted Lycoming IO-540 series, 300-horsepower engine, with a three-bladed Hartzell constant-speed propeller assembly. One propeller blade was melted about 24-inches from the hub. A second blade was fractured about 17-inches from the hub, with its outboard section located in the debris. A third blade was intact. Two of the propeller blades had curled tips; however, all of the propeller blades were relatively straight, with no twisting damage. The engine, including all accessories sustained fire damage. Initial external examination of the engine did not reveal any catastrophic failures; however, the engine was retained for further examination.


The engine in an experimental plane that crashed into a DeLand Publix supermarket last year, killing the pilot and injuring four others, was involved in a fatal crash nearly 20 years earlier, according to a federal report. 

The Seawind 3000 nose-dived into the roof of the Publix shortly after take-off from DeLand Municipal Airport on April 2, 2012, injuring three shoppers in the store. The pilot later died from burns while the passenger in the plane was seriously injured.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board said the plane's 300-horsepower 1978 engine was involved in a fatal accident in Big Bear City, Calif., in 1993, in another aircraft. It experienced a “partial loss of engine power during takeoff,” leaving two dead, including the pilot, and four injured, the NTSB reported.

The report, issued Oct. 23, didn't pinpoint the cause of the crash into the Publix at 299 E. International Speedway Blvd. That will come in the next phase of the NTSB investigation.

“It's just a factual report. It's not a probable cause (report),” said Keith Holloway, a public affairs officer with the NTSB. “That information will be analyzed and a probable cause will be determined,” which usually takes at least six months.

After taking off under clear skies, the Seawind went into a downward left spin and crashed into the building, about a mile from the end the runway. One witness, parked in a car in front of Publix, reported hearing “sputtering” engine sounds before the crash, the report said.

Kim Presbrey, an Illinois attorney and private pilot, died nearly two months after the crash due to complications from third-degree burns. His friend and passenger, Thomas Rhoades of Illinois, a commercial pilot, was seriously injured.

Rhoades told investigators “there were no problems with the airplane's takeoff roll and initial climb. As the pilot turned crosswind, the engine suddenly quit. His next recollection was rolling on the floor of a supermarket,” according to the NTSB report.

Presbrey and Rhoades left Aurora, Ill., on April 1, heading to Altamonte Springs for seaplane training. They stopped to refuel in Tennessee and attempted to continue on to Orlando Sanford International Airport. When the plane's transponder — a device which reports a plane's location to air-traffic controllers — malfunctioned, they landed in DeLand.

The fatal crash occurred the next day, when the pair took off for Daytona Beach International Airport in order to have the transponder replaced at a maintenance facility.

During a conversation with an employee at the maintenance facility, Presbrey said he was “new to the airplane, which he had purchased about six weeks earlier, after it had not been flown for about three years,” the report states.

Presbrey had about 500 hours of total flying time and 20 hours flying the Seawind, the report say.

Rhoades told investigators he flew with Presbrey in the plane for about an hour, one week prior to the accident. He believed Presbrey got “some initial training” from the person who brokered the plane's sale.

That broker also was killed in a Seawind 3000 accident in Sarasota on Jan. 12, the report said.

After the crash, Publix was closed for several months for repairs and renovations. In July 2012, Publix sued Presbrey's estate, claiming the crash caused nearly $1 million in damage to the store. The suit, which is pending in circuit court, claims Presbrey was inadequately trained.

The crash sparked an inferno that destroyed the plane's cockpit and damaged the engine. Investigators sent the engine to its manufacturer, Lycoming Engines, for examination, which “did not reveal any preimpact malfunctions,” the report states. However, two of the six cylinders in the engine were not approved for installation on that model of engine by the manufacturer, the report notes.

A lawsuit alleges the experimental kit plane in which Kane County Bar Association member Kim Presbrey crashed was unfit for flying. 

  Kim Edward Presbrey
 Kim Presbrey, one of two men in a plane that crashed into DeLand's Northgate Publix on April 2, 2012, died of his injuries May 26, 2012. He is pictured with his beloved dog, Hershey, a pudelpointer.

Kim Presbrey
The estate of a Kane County lawyer is suing the companies that designed and built the experimental kit plane that crashed in Florida more than a year ago and ultimately resulted in the death of Kim Edward Presbrey.

The lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court in connection with the April 2012 private-plane crash in DeLand, FL, north of Orlando where Presbrey was piloting his Seawind 3000 aircraft.

Lawyers claim the Seawind "suddenly and unexpectedly lost power" shortly after takeoff and crashed into a local supermarket. Both Presbrey and his passenger suffered severe burns; the passenger survived but Presbrey, who was 60, died after about a month in intensive care.

The Seawind 3000 is a composite, four-seat amphibian airplane featuring a single tail-mounted engine. Classified as an experimental plane, the Seawind 3000 is kit-built; the model has been flying since 1993.

The suit alleges that the plane was unsafe for flying, by virtue of any one or a combination of factors, including design flaws, use of extremely flammable and combustible materials and lack of safeguards to prevent them from becoming engulfed in flames, and lack of warnings or insufficient warnings regarding the plane’s susceptibility to a loss of power during takeoffs and assents.

“Kim Presbrey was an experienced, safe and prudent pilot, who was at the controls of a bad airplane. No one would have been able to control it in the same situation," said Christopher Hurley, lawyer for the plaintiff. "The fact is, that plane should have been grounded unless and until changes were made to address its loss of power issues.”

Presbrey was an accomplished trial lawyer, known particularly for his expertise in Workers’ Compensation law, and managing partner of Presbrey & Associates. He held many positions of leadership in the state bar, including serving as president of ITLA, board member of ISBA, and founder of the Workers’ Compensation Section of the Kane County Bar Association. For ten years Presbrey was president of Illinois Futures, Inc., which provided scholarships for children of disabled workers.  He was survived in May, 2012 by his wife and two sons, and a brother.

Named as defendants in the suit filed today (May 23, 2013) are the companies which designed and sold the Seawind 3000; the companies which designed, built and sold the aircraft’s engine, fuel injection system and fuel pump; the companies which completed a major overhaul of the aircraft in 2001; and the party who performed the pre-purchase inspection and certified the plane as airworthy in January 2012, and performed maintenance and service on it between January and April 2012.

Whiteman Air Force Base says one of its fighter jets cut power line crossing Stockton Lake, Missouri (With Video)

A low-flying A-10 Thunderbolt II military jet collided with two protective cables above a major power transmission line crossing Stockton Lake Wednesday afternoon, and boaters are being kept away from the downed cables.

Danielle Johnston, spokeswoman with the Air Force Reserve’s 442nd Fighter Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, confirmed that two of the unit’s A-10 planes were flying when one hit the cables near the town of Bona.

Johnston confirmed the pilot was uninjured and returned safely to Whiteman. The pilot was on a local, low altitude, navigational-training mission and has been removed from flight status until an investigation is completed.

“The estimated damage to the aircraft is unknown at this time,” Johnston said in an email. “The event is under investigation in accordance with Air Force safety regulations.”

The Army Corp is working with the Missouri Highway Patrol’s water patrol division to mark the area with buoys to keep boaters away from submerged cables. Corps spokesman Dave Kolarik said the lines are owned by Vinita, Okla.,-based KAMO Electric Cooperative.

“Our role in this is fairly limited,” Kolarik said.

He said the jet hit and severed “static cables” above a set of three power lines that cross the lake. The static cables don’t carry power but help protect transmission lines from lightning and other hazards. Kolarik said electricity to the three transmission lines has been turned off while KAMO determines how to make repairs.

The jet clipped the lines where they cross the lake just south of the Highway 245 bridge on the southeast arm of Stockton Lake. A-10 Thunderbolts are single-seat, twin-engine attack jets designed to provide close support for ground troops.



Hernando Aviation Authority refuses to speed up process of leasing airport facility: Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport

Barbara Behrendt, Tampa Bay Times

Thursday, May 23, 2013 5:34pm

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Aviation Authority on Thursday unanimously declined the County Commission's request to speed up the process of leasing the site of the old Brooksville Air Center at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport.

Earlier this month, the authority asked for detailed proposals by interested companies by June 3 so board members could read them, prepare questions and hear full presentations by their June 13 meeting.

But last week the County Commission pushed to move up the decision-making process. Commissioners did so after Bradley Dye of Corporate Jet Solutions, a Clearwater-based aviation maintenance business, told them that airport officials were discouraging his company's effort to expand its business at the Hernando airport.

Dye told them he was suspicious that airport officials were trying to discourage competition at the airport.

To give Aviation Authority members a chance to review proposals before they go to the County Commission, a special meeting of the authority was called for Thursday, and Dye and his company's team was invited to make presentations, along with the other two companies now vying for the lease — American Aviation, the airport's fixed-base operator for more than 30 years, and Jet ICU, an air ambulance company based at the airport.

The authority was expected to hear the presentations, then make a recommendation for the commission to consider on Tuesday. But no one got to give a presentation after the Aviation Authority decided to return to its previous time line.

Members said they wanted to have time to review all of the information in the proposals, hear full presentations and fully discuss what they consider an important decision.

County Commissioner Jim Adkins, who pushed for the earlier decision, said late Thursday that he found out after the last commission meeting that a quick decision was not critical and he was fine sticking with the Aviation Authority's original time line.


Champion aerobatic pilot to wow crowds at Truckee AirFair: Truckee-Tahoe Airport (KTRK), California

On July 6 at the Truckee Tahoe Airport, the community can look up and watch a woman fly her shiny blue, black and silver Edge 540, and do barrel rolls around Superman — or, rather, her husband — while he freefalls in his wingsuit — an astonishing air show performance like nothing you have ever seen before.

Melissa Pemberton, 28, is a champion aerobatic pilot who, with her husband Rex, will be giving spectators the show of a lifetime at the second annual Truckee Tahoe AirFair & Family Festival.

They will also open the event when Rex parachutes onto the scene carrying a 1,000 square foot American flag, whi.e Melissa circles in her Edge with a smoke trail overhead.

The duo met in 2006 while BASE-jumping in Australia’s Blue Mountains. Only 22 at the time, Melissa was an accomplished rock climber, skydiver, BASE-jumper, as well as aerobatic competitor. She had just qualified to be on the U.S. Aerobatic Team, the youngest woman ever.

That same year, Rex, an avid mountain climber, became the youngest Australian to summit the seven highest peaks on the seven continents of the world, including Mt. Everest.

Based in Groveland, Calif., near Yosemite, Melissa and Rex Pemberton have many friends in the Tahoe area who are climbers, backcountry skiers and BASE-jumpers.

“Gosh, I tell you,” says Melissa, “if I could have good flying weather year-round, we’d probably be in Tahoe.”

Her first aviation influence growing up in Pennsylvania was her grandmother, an avid pilot and flight instructor.

“I thought everyone’s grandma was a pilot, and they lived on airports, and that’s just what grandmas did,” says Melissa. “At grandma’s house, a typical thing was to look at the airplanes in the hangar, and every once in a while she’d take us up for a ride and go for a loop and roll like a roller coaster ride. I just loved it.”

Although her parents were not pilots, Melissa’s father was a rock climber and commercial scuba diver who encouraged her to do everything, but use good sense.

“If we climbed 30 feet up the tree, my parents didn’t freak out,” she said. “They would say, ‘Be safe, be careful what things you do, and be smart about how you do them.’ So, we grew up with a healthy fear of things, but not a fear that would make any of us not pursue something.”

When her grandmother was convinced that Melissa was serious about flying, she paid her granddaughter’s way to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona where Melissa earned her private pilot certificate.

Soon after, inspired by a program called “Stars of Tomorrow” to encourage young air show performers, she began training with some of the best aerobatic coaches in the world, then entered, and won, collegiate and regional competitions.

Melissa compares the focus required for rock climbing, skydiving or BASE-jumping with that of flying aerobatic maneuvers.

“It’s incredibly similar,” she says. “A lot of people will see a video of me flying, and, when they meet me, they say, ‘Wow, it looks like you become a different person when you get into the cockpit.’ I don’t have a choice of losing that focus when doing something where a moment of being distracted could result in an accident.

“Once I sit in the airplane, strap on my parachute, close the canopy, start my engine, I get my peaceful moment — I’m in my element.”

Few people, even in Tahoe, have ever seen wingsuit flying in person, and Rex and Melissa’s unique act is one they created five years ago and have been doing ever since.

What is the audience reaction to their wingsuit and aerobatics display?

“The kids love it,” says Melissa, “because it’s like watching a person fly, but they see him in freefall. They are usually really surprised at how fast he’s going, and the distance he covers.”

Female aerobatic performers are still rare. However, outside of the U.S., they’re even more unlikely.

Melissa performs in countries around the world, including Europe and Central America. She remembers a moving encounter at an air show in El Salvador.

“It’s a country with an emerging middle class where women are beginning to have more opportunities to pursue a career or interest,” she says. “The president’s wife, who is Brazilian, came up to me and said, through a translator, ‘Thank you so much for being here and for representing the women of my country.’ I thought, ‘Wow, that’s cool.’”

Speaking to women or children, especially girls, is important to Melissa because of her own memorable experience meeting Julie Clark, one of the best female aerobatic performers in the world.

“When she wanted to be an airline pilot, they told her they couldn’t hire her because she was a girl,” says Melissa, “and, when she finally got hired, she had to cut her hair so she’d look a boy from behind.”

She continues: “Here’s this incredible inspirational woman in aviation who has paved the way for all of us, and I remember going up to her. She just stopped and took the time to talk to me and to be there and not be distracted. I never forgot that. I thought I always want to try to be that way, whenever I’m out there with the audience.”

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Juneau International (PAJN), Alaska: Airport board recommends deLaBruere for manager’s job

By Rosemarie Alexander

May 23, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Acting Juneau International Airport Manager Patty deLaBruere will step into the top spot next month.

The Airport Board selection committee is recommending the board offer deLaBruere the job, even before advertising the position. deLaBruerehas been deputy manager since the city-owned airport became an enterprise fund within the city and borough.

Committee member Joe Heueisen says she’s the perfect choice:

“The first manager, Dave Miller hired her, and it wasn’t long before we discovered she was an awfully well-qualified person, so the last couple go arounds the board has tried to get her to apply for it and she’s been you know, happy where she was.  But we tried it again this time and she decided to go for it, and I think it’s an excellent choice,” Heueisen says.

The full airport board will hold a special meeting on June 6th at 6 p.m. in the Alaska Room at the airport to vote on deLaBruere’s appointment.

Heueisen says the board believes it’s important to hire from within, if at all possible.

Airport Manager Jeannie Johnson has retired, and deLaBruere has been acting manager since May 2.  That’s a role she has filled many times in her job as deputy.


Cessna begins layoffs and early retirement

by Jade DeGood KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
2:22 p.m. CDT, May 23, 2013

(WICHITA, Kan.)—

Planemaker Cessna says it has started implementing a plan to cut back its workforce.

Last month, the company announced it would offer early retirement to 180 workers and proceed with layoffs for others based on performance and other factors.

No word on how many workers are affected by today's action.  Eyewitness News Reporter Jade DeGood is looking into it, look for more later today on Eyewitness News.

Statement from Cessna spokesperson:

On April 29, Cessna announced as part of the Voluntary Retirement Plan offering that the company would also proceed with involuntary separations based on performance and scope of work. The communication at that time indicated that notification of these involuntary separations would occur within the next 30 days.

Today’s actions represent the implementation of the plans announced last month.


Gillette, Wyoming: Air service to continue: Commissioners agree to pay subsidy, will study options on best way to pay

A SkyWest aircraft at the Gillette-Campbell County Airport.

Air service from Gillette will continue for another year at least.

Campbell County Commissioners will pay for their share of the subsidy for the next year starting July 1, but will use the next six months or a year to consider various options for how to pay for it in the future.

“This obviously has a short fuse on it. It’s a no-brainer we need to have commercial air service here. It’s just a matter of how we do it,” said Commission Chairman Dan Coolidge on Tuesday at a joint lunch with the city of Gillette.

“I suspect we’ll have to participate in this (agreement) this year and then spend the next six months or a year evaluating and looking at other options and figuring out how we are going to pay for it,” Coolidge said. “I’m sure we’ll be having further conversations.”

SkyWest, the Utah-based company that provides Gillette service to Salt Lake City and Denver, wants to request $750,000 more from the state and the county in the new fiscal year to continue air service to Salt Lake City from the Gillette-Campbell County Airport. That would bring the total subsidy to about $2.5 million.

In the current fiscal year, SkyWest got about $1.7 million to subsidize its service between the cities, with Wyoming providing about 65 percent of that amount.

If the state picks up a half of the new cost, the county’s share in the next fiscal year will be about $1.2 million. But it’s unknown yet how much the state Aeronautics Division will pay because the billing will be done retroactively.

What will happen is the county and the state will agree on the contract with SkyWest. Every quarter, after the state does its accounting, it will bill the county for the county’s portion of the subsidy.

“We’ll have a number for ‘not to exceed’ amount in the contract, but we don’t know what the actual amount is yet,” Coolidge said.

City of Gillette help

To help pay the subsidy, the county plans to make a formal request to the city of Gillette so that the city can consider it in this budget session.

Mayor Tom Murphy said the city is considering contributing about $100,000.

“We would like to be able to help the county out on that and I think we will. It won’t be quite a lot of money,” he said. “It’s something.

“And even though it’s not our responsibility, we still feel we need to be community partners in that or at least try to help out in some way,” Murphy said. “There’s been talk at the council level and the administration level of maybe trying to find some money, and $100,000 has been kicked around as a token gesture to help with that.”

The city tries to plan for the next five years in its budgeting, so it’s difficult to find more money, especially given that revenues from the Optional 1 Percent Sales Tax are down by 15 percent this year to both the city and county.

Gillette affects Laramie

The county has been dealing with the dilemma of the raising subsidy for the past several months. They received letters from various local agencies in support of continuing air service in Gillette. If there were no service in Gillette, several local companies, that are also big contributors to local revenues, would suffer, according to a recent poll done by the Campbell County Economic Development Corp.

The service to Salt Lake City is tied to keeping the service to Denver because the company has to fly the planes to Salt Lake for maintenance, from where it flies them to Arizona or California. But before the planes from Gillette get to Salt Lake, they stop in Rock Springs. So it’s not just Gillette’s problem. It’s Rock Springs’ problem, too.

“If both Gillette and Rock Springs opt to do away with Salt Lake, SkyWest, without hesitation, said it will have to pull away the Denver piece because we would have no way to flow those airplanes over,” said Nick Wangler, founder and consultant with Forecast Inc. “But because they are now serving Laramie, which is an essential air service market, they would file notice to leave Laramie as well.”

Given the current woes the air service industry is facing, small communities like Gillette will see no relief in the near future, Wangler said.

Little airports lose

Since 2000, the domestic air service industry lost 41 percent of domestic flights.

“Where you are seeing it is predominantly in smaller communities across the country: in the Gillettes of the world, in the Cheyennes of the world, in the Rock Springs of the world, where you are losing capacity. And it’s not going to get any better any time soon,” Wangler said.

In the past 10 years, about 50 small markets like Gillette lost air service, and that number is expected to increase by another 100 in the next five years.

What those communities will end up doing is driving to a competitive airport that any community in the country has within a couple of hours of driving.

Nationwide, planes are 83 to 85 percent full on average. Flights from Gillette to Salt Lake City are generally 50 to 55 percent full; flights to Denver, about 70 to 75 percent, Wangler said. If planes from Gillette were 80 percent full, the county wouldn’t be dealing with the SkyWest subsidy dilemma.

And from the revenue point of view, Gillette is a small fry for air companies compared to markets like Atlanta, New York or even Denver. Wangler said three years ago, research showed that Jackson was about 170th from the top on the list of the most lucrative destinations to serve for air companies; Casper was about 329. Gillette was even lower.

Given that, Gillette doesn’t have much choice, Wangler said.

“There’s only so much leverage we have and so many things you can ask for because we are sitting at number 400 of things to do. If you ask for something and they change it, it’s great,” he said. “But if you don’t like the result, going back and asking them to undo it or fix it again, it’s kind of a slippery slope.”

Given that Gillette has the lowest air fares in the region, its next step should be to get more people to use the airport.

“We need to get the community to embrace it and get on more airplanes and fly more instead of driving,” Wrangler said. “Nationwide, other communities are doing a lot of what we are doing, which is doing a better job of understanding our metrics, doing more for marketing, doing more for promotion.

Unfortunately, they are going to have to do more for paying more for air service.”

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Aviation Heritage Park: Restored warplane will be unveiled

The Aviation Heritage Park will soon unveil its latest aircraft restoration and hopes to get the go-ahead to bring its next project to Bowling Green.

The most recently completed restoration, an F-111F that restorers have nicknamed “Warhorse,” will be unveiled to the public at the park’s annual hangar party June 15.

Members of the park’s board of directors spoke with the Daily News Editorial Board this week.

Board members hope to be able to transport the next airplane the group wants to work on – a T-38 jet used to train astronauts, including Russellville native and Western Kentucky University graduate Terry Wilcutt – to Bowling Green soon.

“We really wanted some way to honor his remarkable career, and the T-38 was the logical choice,” said Dan Cherry, a member of the Aviation Heritage Park board.

A T-38 has now been allocated to the park, he said.

“It’s going to be a great asset for us,” Cherry said. “It gets us away from the military into space flight, which gives us a much greater, expanded educational opportunity for young people.”

The timeline for the T-38’s arrival is still unclear, he said.

The park had previously arranged to receive a T-38, but those plans fell through because of some complications with the NASA loan process, Cherry said.

“But we’ve been persistent, and we stayed after it,” he said. “NASA realized that we had a good project here. We were honoring one of their own, astronaut Terry Wilcutt.”

The airplane came into the NASA fleet in the 1960s and has been flown by Wilcutt, he said. More research is needed into the plane’s flight history.

“We also are very confident that almost every famous astronaut any of us have ever heard of probably at one time or another flew this airplane,” he said.

More than 2,000 man-hours have gone into restoring Warhorse to look the way it did when it was deployed for a bombing raid on Libya known as Operation El Dorado Canyon in 1986, according to Jim Wright, park president.

The restored aircraft will be the central feature of the Aviation Heritage Park Hanger Party at the Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport. It is set to be moved out to the park at Basil Griffin Park on Three Springs Road in September.

Tickets for the hangar party, which is a fundraiser for the Aviation Heritage Park, are $30 for adults and $15 for children ages 6-12. Gates open at 5 p.m. Tickets go on sale June 3.

Advance tickets will be available at Ford’s Furniture, Miracle Mattress, Nat’s Outdoor Sports, Morris Jewelry and Barbara Stewart Interiors.

Sponsors at various levels are also still being sought for the event.

On Monday, restorers brought the F-111F out of the hanger at the airport where it was restored and into the sunlight for the first time since the process began, said Arnie Franklin, an Aviation Heritage Park board member who led the 1986 El Dorado Canyon mission flying a similar F-111F.

“We’re very pleased with the way she turned out,” he said.

The F-111F that the park volunteers have restored was flown in Desert Storm and flew in 56 combat sorties – more than any other aircraft of the type in the world, Franklin said.

“Her name is Warhorse because she hauled iron downtown for two different presidents – (George H.W.) Bush, and first (Ronald) Reagan, with the Libya raid,” Franklin said.

The airplane was flown in formation with Franklin during that raid. It was retired to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group in Arizona, often referred to as the boneyard, in 1996.

The connection to Franklin is an important part of its display at the park, Wright said.

“That’s the whole strategy behind Aviaton Heritage Park is to create this history of aviators in Bowling Green,” he said.

In addition to the display of the newly restored bomber, the hangar party will also feature a reunion of members of the 493rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, which was Franklin’s squadron during the Libya raid.

Franklin said he’s excited to get his old squadron mates back together.

“I lay awake at night, can’t go to sleep, thinking how much fun this is going to be,” he said.

— For more information about the hangar party or the Aviation Heritage Park, go to

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New Department of Public Safety Airplane Named in Honor of Fallen Texas Ranger

 The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) today commissioned its newest airplane, a Pilatus PC-12 NG, at a ceremony in Austin. The aircraft was named in honor of the late Texas Ranger Bobby Paul Doherty, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1978.

“Ranger Doherty proudly served the department and protected Texans, and he selflessly placed the safety of others above his own every day,” said Public Safety Commission Chair Cynthia Leon. “Tragically, Ranger Doherty died in the service of his state in 1978, and today we gather to honor his life, his family and to pledge that Texas will never forget his great service and sacrifice.”

“The Texas Rangers are an iconic branch of our state’s law enforcement history — and for good reason,” said Sen. Tommy Williams, chair of the Senate Committee on Finance. “Like many before and after him, Ranger Doherty admirably and selflessly served our state. Ultimately, he gave his life protecting others, and there is no greater sacrifice than that.”

“For years, Texas Ranger Bobby Doherty protected the people of this state as a sign of his commitment to the safety of Texans who would never know his name," said Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, chair of the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations. “With the dedication of this aircraft in Ranger Doherty's honor, Texans can rest assured that his watchful eye and dedication to public safety in this state continues even after the ultimate sacrifice has been paid."

The Pilatus, which accommodates as many as two pilots and seven passengers, can reach an altitude of 30,000 feet and travel as fast as 322 mph. It features state-of-the-art equipment, including an L-3 camera system with an infrared/color video camera, and an AeroComputer mapping system with the ability, for example, to map the area around a fire or assist in search and rescue. In addition, the plane is equipped with a variety of radios, and features technology that enables communication between several responding agencies.

The Bobby Doherty ultimately will be stationed in San Antonio, with primary duties of supporting local agencies along the Texas-Mexico border. This multi-purpose, fixed-wing airplane also will be used for a variety of public safety missions across Texas, including transporting medical equipment, supplies and response teams during a disaster; aerial observation support; and serving as an aerial command center. The aircraft was paid for with funding provided by the Texas Legislature.

“I was a State Trooper in 1978, and will never forget that day when Texas Ranger Bobby Doherty gave his life protecting and serving Texas,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “This plane, named in honor of Ranger Doherty, will provide a vital capability in supporting and advancing the same mission he lived by, and it will further ensure that his legacy continues to live on in Texas for years to come.”

With the addition of this new airplane, the DPS aircraft fleet now totals 24 – with nine planes and 15 helicopters committed to public safety missions.


Malawi Finds Buyer for Presidential Jet

By Jack Phillips, Epoch Times | May 22, 2013 

Presidential Jet $15M: The Malawi government has sold its presidential jet to a bidder in the Virgin Islands in an attempt to raise money.

“We have accepted their offer and we are waiting to hear from them,” Cabinet clerk Ernest Katchetche said in a statement obtained by The Mail & Guardian newspaper.

The Dassault Falcon 900-EX was in “perfect flying condition,” officials said. The government under former President Bingu wa Mutharika originally bought the jet for $22 million and was a source of controversy in the country.

It sold to a Virgin Islands firm for some $15 million.

President Joyce Banda said that selling the jet was one of the country’s priorities to raise funds. Maintaining and insuring the jet reportedly cost around $300,000 per year.

The Virgin Islands company Bohnox Enterprise Ltd beat out three other bidders to purchase the jet, government spokesperson Chintu Phiri, told Reuters. “We have accepted their offer and we are waiting to hear from them,” Phiri said.

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Penn State Student Charged With Attempting to Steal Officer's Weapon: University Park Airport (KUNV), State College, Pennsylvania

A Penn State student faces felony charges after police were called to the University Park Airport for an emotional crisis. That crisis quickly took a potentially dangerous turn.

Penn State Police Chief Tyrone Parham said Roman Benty was charged with felony disarming a law enforcement officer, misdemeanor resisting arrest and summary harassment and disorderly conduct.

The incident happened around 3:30 p.m. on April 13. Benty attempted to jump out of his mother's moving car, police said, and he took off running.

Officers were trying to identify him, but Benty resisted by kicking and shoving officers. He was arrested and handcuffed and taken to the hospital, Parham said, where Benty continued to be aggressive.

Benty fought with security guards and police, and eventually tried to grab an officer's handgun, Parham said.

Parham said Benty was not formally charged until Wednesday, when he was arraigned before District Judge Daniel Hoffman and released on $25,000 unsecured bail.

Benty has a preliminary hearing scheduled for next Wednesday.

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Airport sees high success in flight school: Lightning Aviation at Foley Municipal (5R4), Alabama

FOLEY, Alabama (WALA) - The Foley Municipal Airport has had an increasing amount of interest since it’s facility opened in 2011, and this is largely because of it’s flight training school.

The airport offers an accredited Federal Aviation Administration 141 school that has instructed many students from the Naval Air Station in Pensacola.

The school, operated by Lightning Aviation, has six instructors on staff and 10 planes for use in flight training.

According to Fixed Base Operator Roger Watkins, who opened the school, the initial flight screening involves about 40 hours of flying time.

The flight screening process also gets students to the solo stage, which is about 22 hours shy of obtaining a private license.

“These students are very intelligent and already have been through a very extensive matrix,” Watkins said.

“This program is a baby step in the career ladder they are climbing, but it is an essential step as their entire future is at stake.”

About 400 Navy students per year have come through the program. The Naval Air Station sends from four to 12 students to the school each week and expects students to complete the initial flight training and evaluation in roughly four weeks.

Watkins said a number of civilians have gotten their private license through the school, and many Navy students have come back for the final phase to get their private license as well.

The airport is also a Computer Assisted Testing Center for any testing required by the FAA, including exams for mechanics, private or commercial licenses or instrument testing.

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Couple says airport won't clear their wedding plan for takeoff: James Clements Municipal (3CM), Bay City, Michigan

Photo Courtesy: Susan Vela, MLive

By Susan Vela,
on May 23, 2013 at 10:15 AM, updated May 23, 2013 at 10:16 AM

BAY CITY, MI — Airplanes played a big role in the three-year romance between Bay City Western graduate Kevin Holcomb and his love, Karen Engle.

So when the couple decided to tie the knot this August, they hoped Bay City's James Clements Airport could serve as their wedding site.

That's when the trouble began.

Officials at the small municipal airport say a wedding is considered a "non-aeronautical special event."

To comply with Federal Aviation Administration rules will take special security, liability insurance and a clean-up plan, city officials said. The cost? $2,571.48, plus the insurance policy.

"The airport is an airport," said David Harran, the city's public services director. "It's not a park. There are certain precautions we need to take."

When Holcomb and Engle learned of the fees and the regulations, it came as a shock. They haven't paid the money the city wants as the clock ticks toward their big day.

"I was furious," said Holcomb, after a meeting with city officials where they learned their application isn't approved yet to hold the event. "I was getting more and more upset. I could see Karen was getting emotionally upset."

Harran said the city wants to work with the couple, but FAA rules are rules. The federal agency is paying about 70 percent of the airport's $621,265 budget this year.

"The biggest thing here is if we don't abide by the FAA, they could shut off all federal funding to the City of Bay City. We don't want to have that. That's the hammer they have over us," Harran said.

Love takes flight

Holcomb is a 2001 Bay City Western High School graduate who met his bride-to-be in 2010. He had taken private flying lessons at James Clements Airport and was a working IFL Group air freight pilot flying out of Oakland County International Airport.

After meeting through a social networking site and concluding he was "hot," Engle said she drove "on a wing and a prayer" from West Branch to Waterford to meet the man she would call her own.

They clicked. In time, he met her young sons. He wisecracked of a three-year plan: Evaluate the relationship after the first year. Re-evaluate after the second year. Propose if the relationship remains strong after the third year.

"It was just a big joke with us," Holcomb said. "After the first year, I was pretty sure of where I wanted the relationship to go. I loved her for sure. My family loved her, which is really important to me. (And) her family is great."

On July 7, 2012, Holcomb proposed. He found someone to fly the couple over South Higgins Lake. When Engle looked out the single-engine plane, approximately 50 of their friends and family were on the beach.

They held signs, each drawn with one large letter, that posed the question, "Will you marry me?"

Engle agreed.

That's when she came up with a proposal of her own: To get married at James Clements on their chosen date of August 10, 2013. Holcomb had always found the airport along the Saginaw River a picturesque location, so he said yes.

To fly with the aviation spirit, they took their engagement pictures at Oakland County International Airport with a Pearl Harbor theme. The couple now lives in Waterford.

Around the same time as their engagement bash, the couple emailed Bay City administrators, completed a city special event application, took care of the $100 clean-up fee and secured a $1 million liability insurance policy.

They ordered their invitations, designed to be passports, then sat down with Bay City officials to tie up some loose ends. Or so they thought.

Bottom dollar for big day

Harran said city officials discussed the wedding plan with the FAA, then determined what it would cost to meet the requirements.

The city came up with the following charges: $587 to use the grounds, $744.60 to pay wages for four employees, $414.88 for equipment and $725.00 for metal event fencing, for a total cost of $2,471.48.

The city won't submit the special-event application until it receives the money, Harran said.

"We're trying to come up with a compromise," Harran said. "I've been working with them for the last two months. I'm playing the role as the mediator. I realize it's probably frustrating for them. But we're doing our best."

Engle, 29, said she wants a meeting set up between themselves, the FAA and the airport to discuss the fees.

"We have not been explained or told why we have to pay these fees. We never get any direct answers. We never get anything explained to us," she said.

Juan Zapata, a Michigan Department of Transportation employee representing the FAA, said the rules are clear.

"For me, to have another meeting would pretty much be a waste of time," Zapata said.

Holcomb and Engle say they plan to get married at the Horizons Center in Saginaw Township as a back-up location if their hopes for airport nuptial falls through. For now, they feel caught up in red tape.

"How can we move forward?" Engle asks.

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New Fixed Based Operator Arrives at Cape May County Airport (KWWD), Wildwood, New Jersey

CAPE MAY - Delaware River and Bay Authority officials announced that FlightLevel Cape May, LLC has signed a lease agreement to provide aviation-related services at the Cape May Airport (WWD) as an Independent Fixed Based Operator (FBO). These services comprise fueling, hangaring, tie-down and parking, aircraft maintenance, and other aviation-related support functions. The Authority is the operator of the Cape May Airport. FlightLevel Cape May began business operations at the Airport earlier this month.

“A quality FBO is an important piece of an airport’s business portfolio,” said Steve Williams, Airports Director for the Delaware River and Bay Authority. “This is especially true in a seasonal resort area like Cape May where so many seasonal residents use personal or corporate aircraft consistently from May through September. Flight Level has the experience and business expertise to not only help market the facility, but also to offer a seamless ground handling product to Cape May Airport’s demanding customers, and we look forward to working with them.”

“The entire FlightLevel team is thrilled to be adding the Cape May Airport to our network of locations,” said Peter Eichleay, President of FlightLevel. “It has been in need of a true full-service FBO for some time and we're committed to making the investment in equipment, quality personnel, and infrastructure upgrades to achieve that status. In addition to our plans for marketing the Airport, we believe that by providing the high level of customer service our customers have come to expect when they see the FlightLevel name, we can help the airport reach its true potential.” FlightLevel will be offering Shell Aviation fuel through their North American Distributor, Eastern Aviation Fuels.

Eichleay added that the Authority and airport management share FlightLevel’s vision for the Airport. “I know that it will be a good fit for years to come and we very much look forward to being part of the historic Cape May community,” he said. FlightLevel also operates FBO locations in Norwood, MA, Brunswick, ME, and Lakeland, FL.

FlightLevel Cape May, LLC is leasing approximately 19,000 square feet of space in Building 110 located at 375 Forrestal Road, including all associated equipment and vehicles along with operating a ramp management agreement for three (3) acres of associated aircraft ramp at the airport. The initial term of the lease is five years. With the consent of the Authority, FlightLevel Cape May, LLC. also has the option of renewing this lease agreement for two (2) option periods of five (5) years each.

"I'm very pleased with the DRBA's good work in identifying an experienced, high quality FBO for the Cape May County Airport,” said Freeholder Will Morey of Cape May County. “The DRBA has done a fine job in sustaining services in the interim and is wise to understand that the future development of the airport requires a dedicated and independent FBO operator working in concert with the DRBA and the County. We welcome FlightLevel to Cape May County and look forward to the next step forward for the airport and its users."

FlightLevel has agreed to pay the Authority a portion of collected fees for hangar, aircraft parking, and tie-downs. In addition, the Authority will receive fuel-flowage fees.

“An FBO is the first and last impression that people who fly into an airport have about the community,” said Scott Green, Executive Director for the Authority. “We are confident that FlightLevel will dazzle our customers and encourage them to visit this area more often.”

At a first class FBO, this impression is made by the quality of service experienced in terms of professionalism, customer service, and quality of facilities. A quality FBO is a key and essential component of successful economic development at an airport.

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China Clears Boeing 787s for Commercial Service: WSJ

Updated May 23, 2013, 1:50 p.m. ET 


The Wall Street Journal

Chinese regulators have cleared local airlines to fly the Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner and are expected to allow them to launch overseas flights within a matter of months.

The approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China on Thursday follows clearance in recent weeks from regulators in the U.S., Europe, Japan and elsewhere for the 787 to return to commercial service after a three-month global grounding while Boeing fixed problems with the jet's batteries.

The CAAC will require carriers to fly their 787s first only on domestic routes, though a senior executive at one Chinese Dreamliner customer airline said the international restriction would be far shorter than that imposed on the Airbus A380.

China Southern Airlines Co.,  the only local customer for the Airbus A380, ran up large losses after being required to fly the super jumbo only on domestic routes for a year before receiving clearance to start international service.

"It isn't a yearlong wait [for the 787], it is more a matter of months," said Joel Chusid, executive director USA at Hainan Airlines Co., 600221.SH -1.02% the fourth-largest Chinese carrier by traffic.

Hainan expects to receive the first of its 10 Dreamliners next month, and hopes to start a new flight from Beijing to Chicago on Sept. 3. Mr. Chusid said that flight would start with an Airbus A340 jet if approval to use the 787 hasn't been received by September. However, he expects its U.S. services to be flown with 787s by next year.

China Southern, which also ordered 10 787s, is expected to receive its first Dreamliner in the coming weeks, according to a person familiar with its plans. The airline declined to comment.

The nation's largest carrier by traffic, had expected to take delivery of the first jet last year after several rounds of production delays, but the plan was held up because Chinese authorities hadn't issued an airworthiness certificate.

The airline said earlier this year that it aimed to receive as many as eight 787s in 2013, and would initially operate them from its hometown hub on key routes such as Beijing and Shanghai, before adding international destinations such as London and Vancouver.

Separately, Japan's All Nippon Airways Co. said Thursday it would start some domestic charter flights with its 787s on May 26, with scheduled service resuming on June 1. United Continental Holdings Inc. earlier this week completed its first commercial 787 flight since the planes were grounded in January.

Chinese approval could potentially help Boeing lock in more orders from one of the world's fastest-growing aviation markets. Boeing expects China will need 5,260 new airplanes in the next 20 years, buoyed by reflecting and growing demand for air travel. China's airlines operated 1,941 planes as of the end of 2012, according to the aviation regulator.

—Yoshio Takahashi contributed to this article. 


Pegasus Air Park (50PA), Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania: Airport says proposed cell tower is a hazard

Pocono Record Writer
May 23, 2013

Local flying club members have concerns that a proposed cell tower in Hamilton Township will endanger pilots landing at their small grass-runway airport.

The Hamilton Township zoning hearing board recently voted 4-1 to approve the tower on a hill just south of Route 209 near the Chestnuthill Diner.

Pilots at Pegasus Airpark, less than a mile northwest of the site, say the tower would be placed on a hill in the middle of the flight pattern that planes use to land at the airport.

"They couldn't have positioned it worse," pilot Rich Blakeslee said. "The only thing worse would have been if they would have proposed it at the end of the runway."

Prevailing winds

Pegasus is operated by the Stroudsburg chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association. Some pilots keep their planes in small hangars on site.

It's also used by medical helicopters and glider planes making emergency landings, pilot Fred Duckloe said.

Planes landing at Pegasus always approach the same way: flying in from the southwest, making a 180-degree left turn and descending as they come back to the airport, then landing facing toward the west.

Pilots say it's what the FAA recommends for airports without control towers, and the prevailing winds from the west make landing easier.

Based on its location just southeast of the airport, pilots say it will be directly in the "downwind leg" of their approach, where they begin the 180-degree turn.

Blind spot

Pilots said it will be especially dangerous for low-wing aircraft, where the wings prevent them from seeing obstructions below.

"Once you get into the downwind, the tower is actually below my line of sight, I won't actually know I'm too low until I hit it," Blakeslee said.

It could be an even bigger problem for gliders from nearby Beltzville Airport, who use the airport for emergency landings and are often at a lower altitude than powered planes.

"You're not focused on obstructions, you're focused on making sure you land on the runway and not in the trees," Duckloe said.

Federal Aviation Administration of no help

The club has been fighting the tower, but the zoners' decision was a big blow to their efforts.

The board voted 4-1 in favor of the tower. The only dissenter was John Parker Jr., a private pilot.

Duckloe appeared before the board every month from January to April, but when he attempted to testify, T-Mobile's attorney objected and the board agreed.

According to board solicitor Marc Wolfe, the hearing record had been closed at the December meeting, but the hearing wasn't officially closed because T-Mobile still needed to provide an expert to testify on the impact on surrounding properties.

In his report at the April meeting, T-Mobile's expert did not discuss Pegasus.

Pegasus has received letters of support from the Experimental Aviation Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and pilots and glider pilots who have used the airport.

T-Mobile still needs formal approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, but the pilots aren't optimistic that the FAA will save them.

If the airport was public, the FAA would not allow an obstruction like the tower, but because it's privately owned, they will not intervene.

"There really is no difference between a private airport and a public airport as far as the way you operate in and out of it. That's by law," said Tony Bartolo, a long-time Monroe County commercial and military pilot. "Other than the fact that you don't have the protection of the federal government saying you can't build a tower there."

Private club

Duckloe emphasized that Pegasus is a private "club" airport. Members can rent out hangar space for their planes or project aircraft they're working on.

The club, led by members who are certified mechanics, takes on project aircraft.

In 2011, they completed a four-year project building a plane from a kit, and another project is underway.

They mow the grass runway with a tractor and a 1920s-era "gang mower" that was actually made in Stroudsburg by the Worthington Co.

"The best thing about this place is we have no adult supervision," Duckloe said.

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