Thursday, July 11, 2013

Time Capsule: Missing Plane of 1963 -- Cobb County Airport-Mc Collum Field (KRYY), Kennesaw, Georgia

by Damon Poirier 
The Marietta Daily Journal,  Marietta, Georgia   

Fifty years ago, a series of articles appeared on the front pages of the Marietta Daily Journal for several days in July regarding a missing single-engine Cessna 140 and its two occupants. The plane, which took off from Cobb County’s McCollum Airport near Kennesaw, had only an hour’s worth of fuel and failed to return to the airport. Resolution to the mystery came 63 days later in September.

Below is a day by day look at the search coverage.

Sunday, June 30, 1963

It was reported that Ray Ford, a 20-year old milling machinist at Lockheed-Georgia Co., took off on an unauthorized flight at 2 a.m. the night before with another young male passenger. Ford, who owned the plane, was reported as having only logged 13 hours and 50 minutes of flight time in lessons.

Airport Manager Joe Sandmann stated that there were no airport personnel on duty at the time of the flight and that it was an unauthorized flight because Ford did not have a full pilot’s license. The only witnesses to the takeoff were two of Ford’s friends, who had driven him to the airport. When the plane did not return after an hour and a half, the witnesses notified Sandmann and the Federal Aviation Agency’s flight service in Atlanta. The witnesses stated that the plane had been heading toward the west as it took off.

Airport officials began broadcasts on the radio for residents near Lost Mountain in west Cobb to report if they heard a small plane in trouble.

At midday, the search was broadened to extend 100 miles from the airport. Engaging in the search were four planes of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), as well as Cobb’s Civil Defense Rescue Squad and other rescue units from Austell and Acworth.

Monday, July 1, 1963

Ford’s passenger was identified as Tommy Harvey, who was also in his 20s.

One of Ford’s friends was reported as saying that the two men had gotten into the plane with the intention of only taxiing about the runway. But, then the airplane became airborne during maneuvering and took off. The craft was last seen making a left turn towards the south at an altitude of about 200 feet.

Volunteer cadets and senior staff from CAP squadrons in North Atlanta and Marietta took part in Monday’s search. Members of the CAP squadron in Rome were to arrive later that afternoon and other volunteers were expected from CAP units at Milledgeville and Warner-Robbins Air Force Base in Macon.

Sandmann was also reported as saying the airport’s runway lights had been left burning all night and that there would have been no difficulty for Ford taking off that night.

Tuesday, July 2, 1963

Ground rescue crews were reported as heading for three wooded areas spotted by CAP search planes. Sandmann said the spots, all of which were some distance from access roads, had what appeared to be unusual pieces of metal lying on the ground amongst the brush and trees. One of the spots was in Powder Springs, another just over the Cobb-Paulding county line and the third was near Douglasville in Douglas County.

Fifty volunteers and three search planes were searching Tuesday. But, Sandmann said it would take hours for the ground rescue crews to any of reach the locations.

Wednesday, July 3, 1963

The metal fragments in the three wooded areas were reported as false alarms. The metal turned out to be auto parts, bits of roofing and other junk.

Sandmann announced that a massive hunt would be launched on the Fourth of July holiday with 200-300 CAP cadets and senior staff, while Wednesday’s search was being concentrated in a pattern to the southwest of the airport and extending some 60 miles. A ground search in the dense woods near the airport was also intensified.

Friday, July 5, 1963

An oil slick spotted near the Lake Allatoona Dam in Bartow County and a mystery woman’s rumors of a plane burning on a mountain close to the Cherokee-Bartow line were investigated by search parties on the holiday.

The oil slick was spotted some 100 yards from the dam. But, the reservoir superintendent said that a boat had sunk there on Wednesday. An unidentified woman, who later could not be located, had reported seeing a plane burn on the mountain, but there no evidence of a crash site could be found.

An anonymous source at the airport told the newspaper that the search was going to be cancelled unless more substantial leads developed.

Sunday, July 7, 1963

Aircraft and radio-equipped cars were reported as having broadened the search on Saturday along a 65-mile line into South Georgia. Maj. Clarence Howard, commander of the Lockheed CAP squadron, said the searchers covered an area of 20 miles on either side of the search line.

During the mass search, by 12 planes manned by CAP crews and some 20 ground vehicles manned by nearly 100 people, a final speculative theory was discussed.

The theory was that Ford had become lost and headed for an airport 18 miles north of Rochelle that was equipped with special landing aids that he was familiar with. Rochelle was also the hometown of both men and where Ford’s parents were living. Search mission headquarters were then moved to Griffin.

CAP Search Mission Coordinator Lt. Richard Kelly said that the Air Force’s Eastern Air Rescue headquarters had issued instructions to end the organized search if nothing developed from the Cobb County to Rochelle hunt.

Monday July 8, 1963

The organized search was reported as called off at 3 p.m. on Sunday after nine days of fruitless searching. Lt. Kelly said circumstances indicated that the men had crashed in the plane and were presumed dead. While the crash site had not been found, Lt. Kelly stated that if further definite leads developed they would be investigated. However, no more mass searches were planned.

Sunday, Aug. 4, 1963

The fate of the two men was still unknown and CAP search parties were reported as still investigating leads.

On Saturday, ground crews combed Pine Log Mountain north of Lake Allatoona and swampy woodland in north Fulton County. Lt. Kelly was quoted as saying the missing men could have crashed just about “anywhere” in the area and still escaped notice of the searchers. Trees and undergrowth were so thick in spots that Kelly said a plane could crash and no sign would be visible from the air.

Tuesday, Sept. 8, 1963

Two sons of a Tennessee family, taking a “safety break” at a Labor Day weekend roadside stand near Kennesaw, were reported as discovering the wreckage of the plane and the skeletal remains of the two missing men in a thicket that could not be spotted from the air.

The crash site discovered at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5, 1963, ended an on-and-off search lasting 63 days. The scene was just to the west of the McCollum Airport runway and about 300 yards off U.S. 41 near Kennesaw.

Officials were not offering an explanation for the crash. But, Jimmy Buford, an official at the airport, said that at the time of Ford’s takeoff the ceiling was below 50 feet and the weather had been foggy. Buford said that Ford had not flown solo before and there were insufficient instruments in the plane to allow him to fly by instruments alone.

Buford also speculated that Ford may have crashed while circling in the clouds while trying to land at the airport.

Lee County Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit: Pilots bust marijuana grow operation

The Lee County Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit detected a marijuana plants operation on July 11, 2013 in Forest Lake gated community.
 (Lee County Sheriff's Office)

LEE COUNTY,Fla.- Lee County Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit pilots had a view birds-eye view of a marijuana grow operation. The chopper was actually looking for a stolen atv, when they decided to look in an area where the tip of a possible marijuana grow operation came in. The pilots in this helicopter were able to see the marijuana plants three to 500 feet up and call in ground units. 

"It's safe to say if you are cultivating marijuana inside or outside, we're going to find it and we are going to eliminate it the best we can," said Commander Mike Warner.

Out of sight from the general public, but two pilots were able to get a birds eye view of marijuana plants growing in a wooded area.

"It's place in an area where you had to know it was there to get to it; you weren't going to stumble on it and it wasn't easy for our own deputies to get there. We had to bring them in the scenic route around the retention pond," said Commander Warner.

They were able to spot those 11 marijuana plants, keeping an estimated $11,000 of weed from being sold on the street.

"We received a tip of a possible cultivation area, went to that area, and within 30 seconds, located the plants and called in the ground unit and they came in and removed the plants," said Cpl. Vince Minnillo.

Only our cameras captured deputies carrying out the plants that were growing inside of this barrier.

"It's a fairly distinct color green, it needs sunlight to grow, 12 hours of sunlight, so because of that you need sunlight, that opens up the air above it so we can see it," said Commander Warner.

The pilots say in most cases, it's not usually their technology that brings down a grow operation.

"Normally the case is it's human intelligence, it's neighbors in the vicinity that sees strange comings and goings, weird hours of operations, not normal residential pattern."

The Lee County Sheriffs Office is asking anyone with information on who is behind this grow operation to call them.


WISTV Investigates: South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell's campaign spending - Columbia, South Carolina |

This aircraft (N749CD) is not available for public tracking per request from the owner/operator -FlightAware.

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -  Bobby Harrell, the South Carolina Speaker of the House, has spent the last five months under a State Law Enforcement Division investigation. However, media investigations into how Harrell spent his campaign cash started nearly one year ago.

State law allows campaign money to be spent on items "related to the campaign or the office held," according to the State Ethics Commission's rules. The commission goes on to state, "Use of campaign funds for personal expenses is prohibited. Candidates should maintain a mileage log for reimbursement of expenses related to travel. Candidates may not purchase gas with campaign funds."

Was Harrell's spending from his campaign account for travel using his airplane and other expenses legal? Without seeing Harrell's receipts, invoices, and documents related to each expenditure, we don't know. Harrell has not turned any of that information over to WIS, even after repeated attempts to see them.


On Feb. 14, 2013, the South Carolina Policy Council and its leader, Ashley Landess, asked S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson to investigate how Bobby Harrell spent nearly a half-million dollars of campaign contributions. Landess' complaint questioned Harrell's use of campaign money to fly his personal airplane from his home in Charleston to Columbia. The House Ethics Committee had jurisdiction over any Harrell investigation, but according to committee member and Charleston County Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, the Ethics Committee did "nothing" with the Harrell case.

Wilson then forwarded the request to investigate to SLED.

Days later, SLED confirmed they were investigating the case, but would not give details about which agents were assigned to the investigation.  SLED spokesman Thom Berry said multiple agents from two separate regions were investigating.

The SLED investigation continues as of this report.


Bobby Harrell's campaign records show he's reimbursed himself, campaign staffers, and other members of his State House office for "Legislative Travel" out of his campaign account, our analysis of his ethics filings show. Since 2008, Harrell's expenditures show travel reimbursements for 81 trips totaling $294,819.56.

Since 2008, most of the reimbursements, 40 flights, went directly to Harrell. Those totaled $231,561.

The state ethics law requires politicians to keep detailed records and logs related to campaign and office-related travel. We've asked Harrell for those records on multiple occasions since we started looking into his spending last September. We filed two Freedom of Information Act requests with Harrell—one hand-delivered to him in person at the State House in January—but he still has not responded.

Harrell's plane, a Cirrus SR-22, is a half-million dollar single-engine airplane. A source says Harrell blocked his tail number in June 2012 after reporters started questioning his flights and reimbursements. Flight logs from FlightAware, a commercial flight tracking company, show records bearing Harrell's tail number --  N749CD -- stopped being logged in the system on June 26, 2012. An attempt to track Harrell's tail number on FlightAware returns the message, "This aircraft (N749CD) is not available for public tracking per request from the owner/operator."

Federal Aviation Administration records show Harrell's plane is registered to a South Carolina corporation, PierPont Air, LLC out of Charleston. An online search for an address came back to an office building on Rivers Avenue in North Charleston. We went to the address and found an empty building. An employee at a check cashing business next door said the building had been empty since November 2012 and before that it was a call center.

The employee said she did not remember anything representing an airplane being located there since she worked there. The employee confirmed Harrell owned the buildings.

State records show PierPont Air, LLC is actually registered to Harrell's brother, John Harrell. John is an attorney in Charleston and works out of Harrell Square, the Harrell family business off Sam Rittenberg Boulevard. We went to John's law firm to question him about the plane's ownership, but our calls were never returned.

The speaker's campaign records show he paid OL Thompson Construction for five trips totaling $14,762.48 between 2008 and as recently as July 2012. Every expenditure listed the reason for the flights as "Legislative Travel," except two trips in July 2012. Those trips listed "Trip to Myrtle Beach" and "Trip to Darlington" as the reason for the spending.

Here are the amounts Harrell reimbursed OL Thompson Construction for:


We went to OL Thompson Construction's Charleston office to ask Thompson about the reason for the travel reimbursements. A message left with Thompson's receptionist was never returned. However, an unidentified office employee confronted us on the public right-of-way outside Thompson's offices to question us about our reason for being there.

"We'd like to talk to [Thompson]; it's dealing with Bobby Harrell and some campaign money," Barr told the employee.

"Oh, that's crazy. That's all crap," the unidentified employee said. "Bobby paid for everything he did when he used the plane. You all are trying to wrap something around something that's not even there."

When asked about what Harrell rented the plane for, the woman said, "He rented it from us, period. I mean, we have nothing -- I mean, it's just crazy."

As the Thompson employee walked away, she threatened to call Charleston Police. Officers never came.

Campaign records also show Harrell paid University of South Carolina pilot Larry Evans $1,476 for "professional services-pilot" on June 22, 2010. We visited Evans' North Charleston home to ask him about the purpose of the flight and left a message with his wife. Evans never returned our call.

We don't know whether the flight was campaign-related or connected to Harrell's official duties as Speaker of the House. Harrell has not provided records to us to show the reason for this flight.


After weeks of searching for Bobby Harrell's airplane, a source led us to Atlantic Aviation at the Charleston International Airport on June 18. Airport workers confirmed Harrell keeps his plane at Atlantic Aviation and it was kept in hangar "C."

Atlantic Aviation terminal manager William David Keigans granted us access to the terminal's parking lot to shoot video of the hangars and airplanes. However, after learning we had questioned employees about Harrell's plane, Keigans called airport police. After meeting with Charleston County Aviation Authority officer Kevin McGowan in the Atlantic Aviation parking lot, we left the property and parked along S. Aviation Avenue to shoot video.

As we were setting up our camera on the public right-of-way, McGowan pulled in behind us and activated his blue lights. McGowan said we could not shoot video of the airport even though we were shooting from public property.

McGowan called U.S. Air Force security police to the scene, citing concerns that we may have shot video of the Charleston Air Force base. Air Force SSGT K. Stafford responded to the scene and took our reporter's license and media identification. Stafford pushed our camera away at one point, stating we couldn't shoot video of her or the air base.

Both CCAA and the Air Force detained our crew on the side of S. Aviation Avenue for nearly an hour as both governmental agencies worked to figure out whether we'd broken any laws. At one point, McGowan grabbed our camera and ordered it "pointed at the ground," when we tried to shoot video of Atlantic Aviation. Neither agency charged our crew with any crime.

McGowan ordered us to leave the public property line along S. Aviation Avenue and threatened to arrest us for trespassing if we did not leave. CCAA director William New, Jr. issued two apology letters to Barr and WIS TV for his officer's interference with our constitutional right to gather news from the public right of way around the airport.


Although the South Carolina Policy Council's complaint primarily focused on allegations that Bobby Harrell used campaign money to fly his personal airplane, we decided to look at every expenditure from the speaker's account. We found Harrell spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on computer services, cell phones, his personal Web site and memberships, meals, and receptions to two private Columbia dinner clubs.

Harrell's records show since 2008, he's spent $117,507 on computers, "computer services," "computer equipment," "Legislative email," and to maintain his website at The spending was monthly and carried on inside and outside of election cycles.


Bobby Harrell's records show his taxpayer-paid spokesman, Greg Foster, has worked full-time for the campaign since 2009. Taxpayers pay Foster an annual salary for his work in Harrell's State House office.

Since 2009, Foster was paid $1,000 a month – a total of $39,268.84 – to help maintain the "Speaker's website," according to Harrell's ethics findings. Foster has not answered questions as to when and where he's performed that work. State law prohibits state employees from working on campaigns on state time and on State House grounds.

Records also show Foster was reimbursed from Harrell's campaign account at a total of $11,819 for "Legislative Travel," since 2008. Neither Harrell nor Foster has provided records to show whether that travel was campaign-related.

Foster and Harrell agreed to interview with WIS on June 26, but both men left the House chambers without submitting to an interview. In an e-mail, Foster would later ask to reschedule the interview.

"The Veto session ran longer than we anticipated and Speaker Harrell had to leave in order to make it to something that was scheduled prior to us trying to schedule this interview.  Unfortunately, we will have to reschedule this interview for a later date," said the e-mail.

Multiple attempts to reschedule with Harrell and Foster have been unsuccessful as they will not give a date to meet with WIS.


As we went deeper into Bobby Harrell's campaign spending, we found monthly reimbursements for "phones" and "communications."

Harrell's campaign records show monthly reimbursements to Verizon and AT&T since 2008. However, starting in December 2010 through November 2012, records show Harrell's campaign started directly reimbursing Harrell for monthly phone bills. The Harrell direct reimbursements range from a low of $368.43 to one bill as high as $711.52. We wanted to know who on Harrell's campaign had these phones and how many phones Harrell was reimbursing himself for.

Harrell has not turned over his campaign records to answer those questions.

The reimbursements also included memberships, dues, meals and receptions to two private Columbia dinner clubs. Since 2008, Harrell's records show he spent $54,834.45 on cell phones and another $54,812.02 at private clubs.

Harrell's spent campaign cash on memberships, dues, meals and receptions to two private dinner clubs in Columbia. Harrell's paid The Palmetto Club and the Capital City club membership dues every month since 2008, the ethics filings show. Harrell's expenditures on meals indicate "Legislative breakfast," "Legislative breakfast meetings," "Legislative dinners," and "Legislative lunch," as the reason for the spending.


We have made multiple attempts to reach Bobby Harrell to see his spending records and to talk with him about this story. Harrell, after agreeing to interview with us on the last day of the legislative session, left the House chambers through a back door and never spoke to us on camera.

We pushed this story back a week and a half to accommodate Harrell's schedule, but he will not give us a date that he can meet with us. We've also filed two Freedom of Information Act requests with Harrell's campaign for access to his spending records to see whether his spending was campaign-related or connected to his public office. Harrell has not responded.

In our last attempt, we drove to Harrell's Charleston-based insurance office Monday morning to meet with him. Harrell was not in the office so we left a business card for him to return our call. As of this report, House Speaker Bobby Harrell has not responded.

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Henriksen Jet Center fully operational: Houston Executive Airport (KTME), Texas

Located west of Katy along the bustling energy corridor, Houston Executive Airport is a far cry from its stint as a crop-dusting facility in a rice field.

Today, the private airport is in full operation on more than 2,000 acres, offering pilots and aviation enthusiasts something to cheer about — the completion of Henriksen Jet Center, a premier terminal building featuring the world’s largest FBO arrival canopy and offering unparalleled service and amenities.

From the skies, pilots can appreciate the airport’s 6,610-foot runway, which can accommodate planes as large as a 737.  But the full effect of Ron Henriksen’s vision can best be seen when arriving under a massive FBO canopy at the new 22,500-square-foot premier terminal building.  

Measuring more than 32,800 square feet, the canopy is a fitting entrance — rain or shine — to pilots and their passengers. Henriksen Jet Center also features 24-hour aircraft fueling, ground handling operations, rental and crew cars, crew lounge, catering services and complimentary wireless internet access. The facility also offers long-term corporate leased space and 40 T-hangars. 

Henriksen’s vision was fueled by a passion for aviation that took firm root when he first learned to fly in his teens. When a highly-successful career in the telecom industry redirected him from commercial piloting, his interest in aviation never waned.  And as dozens of private airports began to close in Texas and across the United States, Henriksen decided it was time to return to aviation fulltime.  In addition to funding and building Houston Executive Airport, Henriksen also developed Austin Executive Airport, which opened in 2011. 

Henriksen cites Houston’s thriving economy as a predictor of continued growth in aviation in Texas.

“Business in Houston and across the state of Texas is strong and continues to draw significant new business to our city,” said Henriksen.  “Houston Executive’s growth is directly linked to our local and state’s strong economic performance, and we are eager partners in helping to draw and retain new opportunities for our community.”

Andrew Perry, A.A.E, Executive Director for Houston Executive Airport and Austin Executive Airport said that pilots can expect a different level of service at Houston Executive.

“We know there are other options for pilots here in Houston,” said Perry.   “What separates Houston Executive from other airports is the level of professional service we provide.   There is no airport anywhere that can match our service and amenities.  From the first experience to the last, our customers can expect nothing but the best from our team.”

Houston Executive Airport is located at 1900 Cardiff Road, Brookshire, Texas 77423; 281-AIRPORT.

More information about the airport is available by contacting Perry at 281-945-5000 or at


Newport State Airport (KEFK) lands small airplane manufacturer

WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports- 

NEWPORT, Vt. - The Newport State Airport is taking off. The owners of Jay Peak and Governor Peter Shumlin announced Thursday a development plan for the airport estimated at $20 million. 

"It's a new idea and it's a worldwide market," Stenger said.

German company Flight Design will expand to the Northeast Kingdom, building and shipping its two-seater plane called CTLS. The company will also open a flight training center using three of the small planes. The goal-- lure people here for a vacation where they can learn to fly.

Flight Design hopes the location will be taking off by the fall. It will be its fifth distribution center in the U.S. and will add 25 jobs to the region.

"This is about jobs and job creation, so we can take the most beautiful place in Vermont and making sure kids in the Kingdom can find jobs in the Kingdom," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.

This all fits into a very big plan for the Kingdom. It's called the Economic Development Initiative, a $500 million project creating 10,000 jobs. It includes an expansion of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain, a new biotech company and redevelopment of downtown Newport. It's funded by foreign investors through the EB-5 program; in exchange for helping create jobs in rural areas, investors get a green card.

The plans at the airport are not part of the EB-5 program, but investors say they are an important part of making this program soar. Flight Design is just one piece of the airport puzzle; there are also plans for six new hangers, expanding the runway and a new terminal. The $20 million price tag is being paid for by private investors and state and federal funds. But Governor Shumlin says it's too early to tell how much it will cost taxpayers.

"Having a viable airport that can welcome commercial aviation and commercial development is all good for us," Stenger said.

The Vermont State College system is on board, planning to add an aviation program within the next three years.

The Newport Airport is still waiting for approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for its runway expansion.

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Runway project closes airport for weeks: Angel Fire (KAXX), New Mexico

Anyone thinking about flying in or out of the Colfax County Angel Fire Airport is going to have to wait a few weeks, as the facility closed Tuesday (July 9) for a runway rehabilitation project and is not expected to reopen until mid-September.

Colfax County officials have had plans for the airport for some time, and the county recently received a $1,204,440 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to pay for the rehabilitation work.

Workers will repave the runway and chip-seal the taxiway and apron, which is where aircraft are parked. The runway project is meant to help maintain the structural integrity of the pavement and to minimize foreign-object debris.

“The airport might reopen a little earlier than Sept. 20 if they get finished earlier,” airport Manager Harvey Wright said. “It’s also going to depend on the weather. If it holds up, the contractor can get more work accomplished.”

Wright said the airport staff will also work on several of their own improvement projects during the closure.

“We are going to be putting insulation in current hangars and painting,” he said. “We’re also going to replace a toilet in the bathrooms and replace some tile.”

A new fuel farm was recently installed at the airport, allowing pilots to fuel up even after hours. All of the improvements are part of an effort to make the facility more attractive to pilots and visitors.

County officials also hope to erect an additional hangar that could provide long-term storage at the airport. The hangars currently at the facility are used for aircraft requiring maintenance or services, and most airplanes are stored outside in the elements.

“We would have to apply for additional grants in order to build additional hangar space,” Assistant Colfax County Manager Cheryl Navarette said.

Schempp-Hirth Nimbus 3, G-EENN: Accident occurred September 04, 2013 at Portmoak Airfield, Scotlandwell, Kinross

Mark Dickson was killed when his glider crashed at Portmoak Airfield

Schempp-Hirth Nimbus-3, G-EENN

Investigations have revealed a pilot killed in a glider crash at an airport in Kinross had 30 years' experience. 

 Mark Dickson, 49, was killed instantly when the right wing of his plane clipped the ground, during a take off in September 2012.

He was found dead in the Nimbus 3's upturned cockpit, by a student glider pilot helping launch the aircaft in windy conditions.

He had suffering multiple injuries in the crash in Portmoak.

Mr Dickson, an air traffic controller, had more than 1,300 hours glider flying time but had only been out once in the previous three months.
Crashed glider The glider crashed at Portmoak Airfield in Kinross

It is understood the aircraft was in the process of taking off and was only a few feet off the ground when the incident happened.

The pilot was found upside down inside the aircraft and despite the efforts of paramedics, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said in a report that the fatal launch went ahead after Mr Dickson failed to release the winch cable when the wing tip touched the ground, as advised by the British Gliding Association (BGA).

The experts said he may not have seen that the wing tip was on the ground due to the model's long wings.

The report also said: "The cable release handle was fitted in a position such that the pilot would probably not have been able to keep his hand on it and still achieve full roll control authority."

The AAIB recommended that the European Aviation Safety Agency and the BGA ensure that the cable release control on gliders can be operated at any stage of their launch "without restricting the range of movement of any flying control". 


Report name:  Schempp-Hirth Nimbus-3 glider, G-EENN

Registration:  G-EENN

Type:  Schempp-Hirth Nimbus-3 glider

Portmoak Airfield, Scotlandwell, Kinross

Date of occurrence:  04 September 2012

Summary:  The glider was being winch launched from a grass airfield.  At an early stage of the launch the right wing tip contacted the ground, the left wing lifted and the glider cartwheeled to the right before coming to rest, inverted.    The pilot was fatally injured.  Three Safety Recommendations are made to the European Aviation Safety Agency and the British Gliding Association concerning cable release mechanisms.

Download report:   Schempp-Hirth Nimbus-3 glider G-EENN 06-13.pdf 

The glider was being winch launched from a grass airfield. At an early stage of the launch the right wing tip contacted the ground, the left wing lifted and the glider cartwheeled to the right before coming to rest, inverted. The pilot was fatally injured.  Three Safety Recommendations are made to the European Aviation Safety Agency and the British Gliding  Association concerning cable release mechanisms.


Opinion/Editorial: Airport an asset -- Northwest Alabama Regional (KMSL), Muscle Shoals, Alabama


The terminal at Northwest Alabama Regional Airport is undergoing a $1.03 million face-lift.

Image is everything when it comes to attracting customers.

A restaurant with dirty floors and sticky tables presents a certain image. If the operation doesn’t care enough to keep the dining area clean, what does the kitchen look like? Is the food safe to eat?

If the restaurant parking lot stays empty, it makes one wonder why no one else is eating there. Is the food bad or too expensive for what the customer gets? Are the health ratings subpar? Is the service terrible?

Likewise, presenting a positive image is essential to the commercial flight business. With a substantial investment to purchase a ticket and the perception of risk inherent to commercial flight, passengers want to be assured they are flying with a quality provider.

To their credit, officials at Northwest Alabama Regional Airport are taking steps to improve the image of the Muscle Shoals facility.

A tired-looking terminal is being renovated for a more modern look. The $1.03 million face-lift includes new interior and exterior touches that should help improve perceptions of the airport.

“The airline terminal building will get a sleek new skin and be fitted with a high-tech energy envelope, perhaps the first of its kind in the private sector in north Alabama,” said Mike Holbrook, project management director at Fuqua & Partners Architect. “This renovation should provide a low-maintenance exterior and comfortable interior environment for many years to come.”

After a bumpy takeoff, Silver Airways is seeing boardings increase, according to airport officials. The airline provides 12 weekly flights between the Shoals and Atlanta. From Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, travelers can go anywhere in the world.

But the airport at Muscle Shoals faces stiff competition from larger airports at Huntsville, Nashville and Birmingham. Airline boardings at Northwest Alabama are running about 40 percent less than the airport’s best year, officials said.

Part of the problem may be that pesky issue of image.

The need for facility renovations, and struggles to find and keep an airline committed to northwest Alabama has hurt the reputation of the airport.

Overcoming this issue may be a challenge. When a passenger looks around a plane and only sees one or two other people, it is natural to ask why so few flyers are making the same choice.

Considering the modest population and remote location, the Shoals is fortunate to have a good airport with regular flights connecting to the rest of the world.

It is a real asset to residents and business people.

The convenience of a short drive, nearby parking, ease of boarding and dependable service are among the positive aspects that should give Northwest Alabama Regional Airport a bright future. The job now is for officials of the airport and Silver Airways to re-establish a positive image in the community.