Sunday, July 14, 2013

Initial Boeing Fire Probe to Take Days: WSJ

Global airlines continued to fly Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliners as investigators probed the cause of a fire that seriously damaged one of the advanced jets while it was parked at London's Heathrow Airport.

Friday's incident, which occurred when the Ethiopian Airlines plane was empty, has revived significant uncertainty for Boeing and the 13 airlines currently operating the Dreamliner, which have labored to rebuild trust in the wide-body plane since problems with its lithium-ion batteries triggered a three-and-a-half month grounding of the global 787 fleet in January.

Investigators have said little so far, beyond a short statement Saturday by the U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch saying there was no evidence the batteries directly caused the fire. The statement was good news for Boeing, which has said its fixes to the battery system would protect against further fires.

But the statement left open a range of possibilities that could have varying impact on the jet's future, such as some sort of isolated human error or a new design flaw in the Dreamliner's advanced electrical system, which is one of the 787's signature innovations. Boeing's shares closed down 4.7% on Friday after news of the incident at Heathrow.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch, which is leading the probe with assistance from U.S. officials, said the initial investigation is likely to take several days. Boeing said Saturday that it was asked to participate as an adviser to the inquiry and added: "Protocol dictates that all publicly released information concerning the investigation must come from, or be approved by, the AAIB."

A company spokesman said Sunday, "The safety of passengers and crew members who fly aboard Boeing airplanes is our highest priority. We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity."

The airlines' decision to continue Dreamliner flights suggested there was no immediate evidence of a widespread systemic problem that could endanger passengers. Ethiopian said the incident was "not related to flight safety," though a person familiar with the situation later said that referred simply to the fact that the plane wasn't flying at the time. Ethiopian said it hasn't grounded its three other Dreamliners. Several carriers—including United Continental Holdings Inc., the only U.S. operator of the 787, and All Nippon Airways Co. and Japan Airlines Co., the two largest 787 operators—said they were monitoring the investigation closely and wouldn't speculate on the cause.

Thomson Airways Ltd., which had one of its 787s turn back to the U.K.'s Manchester airport on Friday in an unrelated incident that the airline attributed to "technical issues," said Saturday it had replaced some components on that plane and that all three of its Dreamliners were flying as scheduled. "We want to reassure our customers that we have every confidence in this aircraft and would never operate it if we weren't 100% sure of its safety," the carrier said.

The Ethiopian 787, which had arrived from Addis Ababa, was parked at Heathrow for more than eight hours before smoke was detected onboard. Calling it a "serious incident," the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said the fire caused "extensive heat damage in the upper portion of the rear fuselage" and spread smoke throughout the fuselage. Television images show it burned through the plane's carbon-fiber composite skin on its roof, in front of the tail fin.

Safety experts said it is premature to draw conclusions. But two people briefed on early parts of the probe said preliminary indications suggest the fire was in the overhead area over the last few rows of seats. The plane was plugged into ground power while parked, though it isn't clear whether its power was on.

Boeing has been reviewing systems near the rear of the jet that would remain powered by the attached ground power supplied by the airport, said one of the people briefed on early parts of the probe. What those systems are couldn't immediately be determined. Among the electrical parts installed near the area of the fire are two of the plane's 17 remote power-distribution units, which act as substations for the 787's electrical system, and three of the 21 remote data concentrators, which help distribute data signals to systems from the jet's central computer.

Those solid-state components are part of the Dreamliner's powerful electrical and computer systems, which Boeing designed to replace many traditional mechanical parts and wiring to make the plane lighter and burn less fuel. Like its batteries, the 787's electrical grid and central computer system rely on technologies that haven't been used before in jetliners.

A spokesman for GE Aviation, a unit of General Electric Co. that supplies the data concentrators, said "we are not aware that GE components are part of the investigation." A spokesman for United Technologies Aerospace Systems, a unit of United Technologies Corp. that provides the power-distribution units said, "we have not been asked to participate in any investigation on the Heathrow incident."

Another person familiar with but not directly involved in the probe said investigators are examining parts that also are used on jets made by the Airbus unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co.  The data concentrators are installed inside Airbus A350 and A380 aircraft. Airbus declined to comment.

Airlines also continued to fly Dreamliners immediately after a Jan. 7 battery fire on a Japan Airlines Co. 787 parked at Boston Logan International Airport. A burning battery on an All Nippon Airways Co. 787 nine days later, which forced an emergency landing, triggered the world-wide grounding.

In those incidents, the batteries were immediately and publicly identified as the source of the issue. Japanese carriers were moving to voluntarily ground Dreamliners until the battery systems were analyzed and permanently fixed, industry officials said at the time. That pressured the Federal Aviation Administration to act quickly and aggressively by ordering all U.S.-registered 787s to stay on the ground. Within hours of the Jan. 16 order, other governments followed the FAA's lead, not wanting the political liability of keeping 787s in service contrary to FAA mandates.

Without investigators determining a clear-cut cause for the Ethiopian incident so far—and with other 787 operators continuing to keep their Dreamliners in the air—this time the FAA appears to be under less pressure to announce immediate action.

In Washington, the decision-makers also have changed. Anthony Foxx, a former mayor of Charlotte, N.C., was recently confirmed as transportation secretary, and industry officials describe his management style as less hands-on than that of his predecessor, Ray LaHood. Mr. LaHood's initial reaction to the 787 battery fire in Boston was to personally vouch for the safety of the aircraft, while ordering FAA officials to launch a broad review of the certification process used to approve its entry into service. After the second incident, Mr. LaHood and FAA chief Michael Huerta quickly ordered the grounding.

Teams of FAA safety experts have basically completed their internal review of the 787's certification, according to agency officials, and many of their findings were sent to the FAA's senior leadership around the end of June. The review teams, among other things, visited various Boeing 787 subcontractors to assess quality-control procedures.

Now, Messrs. Huerta and Foxx must decide when and how to release the review's conclusions and recommendations. The FAA has said in the past that the certification report's findings are likely to be released this summer. The agency declined further comment on Sunday.

Airline links up with training firm: Philippines

To support the expansion plans of Cebu Pacific Air, the company got into a joint venture with global aviation training company CAE to put up a specialized training facility for Airbus aircraft at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.

The Philippine Academy for Aviation Training (PAAT) belongs to the CAE Airbus Training Cooperation, adopting standard Airbus training. The instructors are standardized by Airbus flight instructors from the airplane manufacturer’s base in Toulouse, France.

CAE is a known provider of simulation and modeling technologies and integrated training solutions for commercial and business aviation and defense. It has 100 sites in 30 countries and employs 8,000 people.

Formally inaugurated in December, PAAT general manager Arvi Perez said their type-rating program started last May. They are currently training 11 pilots, seven of whom are foreigners, for the initial type rating course.

While Cebu Pacific now intends to get its pilots exclusively from PAAT, Perez assured that their graduates are not required to work exclusively for the airline. Citing a high demand for pilots in the Asia Pacific region in the coming years, Perez said PAAT not only aims to cater to the demands of the Philippine aviation industry but to the entire region.

Outlook forecast

He cited a pilot outlook for 2012 to 2031 that forecasts a demand of 460,000 pilots all over the world for 2031, with 40 percent of the demand coming from Asia Pacific.

Between 2012 and 2021, 4,505 Airbus aircraft are slated for delivery in the Asia Pacific region while another 5,113 are expected to be delivered between 2022 and 2031.

Perez said PAAT’s training bags, manuals and other materials are all sent directly from Airbus headquarters while their facility comes with two Airbus full flight simulators, costing $11 million each. The full flight simulator integrates the mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and digital processing systems to realistically represent real-time operations of the Airbus aircraft.

The simulated aircraft compartment is an exact replica, with instruments, controls, air supply, lights and stowage compartments. The runways for landing are based on real airports and the simulators come with settings for different weather conditions and time.

Journalists from the Visayas and Mindanao were given a tour of the facility last Friday and were allowed to experience the flight simulator by training head, Capt. Ronaldo Mendoza.

The entire facility is estimated to cost $50 million, which includes the full flight simulators, an Airbus procedures transition trainer, computer-based training room, classrooms, briefing rooms, lounge and cafeteria. They intend to add two more simulators, with one of these scheduled for delivery by 2014.

Training program

The initial type rating program is composed of early line training, jet familiarization and multi-crew cooperation. It is designed to familiarize students with the jet aircraft and multi-crew operations, to get used to operating a plane with jet engines from propellers and fly a plane with a co-pilot.

Perez said being part of the CAE network ensures their graduates of positions, even with foreign carriers. The school also has partnerships with Robinsons Bank and Mayfair Bank to offer financing for pilots seeking to further their skills with PAAT.

Because their program is standardized by Airbus, Perez assured that the difference in instructors will not hinder the training of students.

In the future, PAAT also hopes to offer trainings for cabin crew and dispatch and ground handling and become a main hub for aviation training services in the region.


LIAT's challenges to Sir Richard Branson

 Published on July 9, 2013 

"LIAT issued this challenge to Sir Richard Branson on Monday.  We saw the video and knew it would become "big news" and, at some point, would be taken down. So we downloaded it. It is no longer accessible on LIAT's channel."

Copter lifts bulldozers to build Uttarakhand roads -- India

NEW DELHI: Continuing with its Operation Rahat, the IAF's old but gigantic heavy-lift Mi-26 helicopter has flown four sorties since Friday to airlift 17,500 kg of equipment, including two bulldozers, required by the Border Roads Organization to reconstruct roads in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand.

"The two bulldozers were heli-lifted from Pithoragarh to Bangapani, which is 96-km away," said an official. Overall, the IAF helicopters and aircraft since June 18 have airlifted about 21,560 people and thousands of kilogrammes of relief material in around 2,790 sorties.

The Mi-26 is the world's largest and most powerful helicopter capable of lifting up to 20 tonnes. Having inducted four Mi-26s from Russia in the late-1980s, IAF is now left with only two of them. They have used for heavy-lift operations, including the airlift of artillery guns to the Kargil heights during the 1999 conflict with Pakistan.

"The Mi-26 will continue to operate in Uttarakhand to maintain supply of aviation fuel and rescue work as well as provide heli-lift to heavy equipment of the BRO for repair and construction work," said an officer.

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Malaysia Airlines to restart Dubai route: Carrier will offer 3,948 seats weekly on the Dubai-Kuala Lumpur-Dubai route

Dubai: Malaysia Airlines will add Dubai back to its network effective August 5, 2013.

The Dubai-Kuala Lumpur return service will be mounted daily via MH163 and MH162 using the Boeing 777-200 aircraft that offers a total capacity of 282 seats in each flight, equivalent to 3,948 seats weekly.

In conjunction with the re-introduction of service, the national carrier is offering attractive promotional fares that start from only Dh1,765 for an all-inclusive economy class return travel. Business class starts from Dh7,265 for an all-inclusive return journey. Bookings are open till July 22, 2013 for the travel period between August 6, 2013 till September 30.

Beginning August 6, flight MH163 will depart Dubai daily at 4.10am to arrive at Kuala Lumpur at 3.25pm. The return flight MH162 will depart Kuala Lumpur daily at 11.30pm to arrive in Dubai at 2.20am the next day.

Malaysia Airlines group CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said: “Dubai was one of the routes that were suspended in our route rationalization exercise in January 2012. We continuously monitor market demand, and are happy to be able to add back Dubai into Malaysia Airlines network to extend our reach and strengthen our offering to customers.”

Malaysia Airlines offers direct non-stop service to Malaysia with connectivity to among others the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand from Dubai. In addition, Malaysia Airlines network is expanded through its various code-share agreements and its membership in the oneworld airline alliance since February 2013.


Wade Kinkaid’s Dakota Hawk, N544WK: Accident occurred July 13, 2013 in San Simon, Arizona
NTSB Identification: WPR13CA330 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 13, 2013 in San Simon, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/04/2014
Aircraft: KINCAID WADE DAKOTA HAWK, registration: N544WK
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot would not provide a statement; however, the pilot's wife who was on the ground and witnessed the accident reported that she watched as the airplane took off from an open field. During the initial climb, the airplane struck power lines. She further reported that there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. Responding law enforcement personnel reported that after the collision, the airplane collided with the ground in a nose low attitude substantially damaging the fuselage.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from power lines during takeoff from an open field.

COCHISE COUNTY, AZ (CBS5) -  A home-built plane hit a power line and crashed into an orchard Saturday evening.

CBS 5 News has identified the pilot as Wade Kincaid, 80, from Salome. The plane suffered significant damage but Kincaid received only minor injuries and was treated at University Medical Center in Tucson.

The Cochise County Sheriff's office says the pilot was flying the aircraft from Phoenix to Las Cruces where he was going to transfer it to a new owner. The pilot landed the two-seat plane to refuel in San Simon, about 10 miles from the New Mexico border. Upon takeoff he snagged a power line which caused the plane to go down in the orchard.

According to a blurb Kincaid wrote in 2011 for Sport Aviation Online, the Dakota Hawk plane was the second plane he'd built from a kit. It first took flight in 2010.

 COCHISE COUNTY, AZ (CBS5) - A home-built plane hit a power line and crashed into an orchard Saturday evening.

CBS 5 News has identified the pilot as Wade Kincaid, 80, from Salome. The plane suffered significant damage but Kincaid received only minor injuries and was treated at University Medical Center in Tucson.

The Cochise County Sheriff's office says the pilot was flying the aircraft from Phoenix to Las Cruces where he was going to transfer it to a new owner.

The pilot landed the two-seat plane to refuel in San Simon, about 10 miles from the New Mexico border. Upon takeoff, the plane snagged a power line, which caused it to go down in the orchard.

According to a blurb Kincaid wrote in 2011 for Sport Aviation Online, the Dakota Hawk plane was the second plane he'd built from a kit. It first took flight in 2010.

The FAA was notified of the crash, and was allowing the Cochise County Sheriff's Office investigate, according to the CCSO official.

Pilot OK but under arrest after glider goes down on Badger Mountain, Washington

BADGER MOUNTAIN — An East Wenatchee man originally from the Czech Republic was uninjured Friday after landing his glider in a wheat field off Badger Mountain Road.

Pilot Vitek Siroku, 65, was arrested for obstructing justice for failing to speak or cooperate with Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deputies, Sheriff Harvey Gjesdal said Saturday.

“The asked him some basic questions, and he refused to answer,” Gjesdal said. “They warned him several times that he would be arrested if he didn’t cooperate.”

The incident was reported just before 4 p.m. Friday, when an area resident saw the glider go down in a wheat field owned by longtime area farmer Mike Doneen.

The field is on the north side of Badger Mountain Road, near the Canyon Hills subdivision, Gjesdal said. The glider, a 1981 Schleicher two-passenger craft, was registered to the pilot. It did not appear to have been damaged in the landing, Gjesdal said.

Deputies got the pilot’s name from his pilot’s license, Gjesdal said.

They reported the incident to the Federal Aviation Administration, which gave them permission to remove the craft from the field, he said.

Glider Pilot Arrested:   Listen here 

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Rumor spreads over airport change: Rutherford County-Marchman Field (KFQD), North Carolina


Sometimes rumors can prove to be trouble.

For the Rutherford County Airport Authority, a rumor was used for a different purpose than one might think.

On Friday, airport employees as well as hangar operators learned that management at the airport would be changing in August.

However, after investigating the rumor, it was learned by The Daily Courier that the rumor was spread by an Airport Authority member to "see how long it takes rumors to spread."

An airport employee confirmed Friday that Authority vice-chairman Keith Hunter was in the terminal stating the management of the airport would change in August.

Even though the Rutherford County Commission will be considering local legislation which allows them to take over the Airport Authority and move its management under the county umbrella, no changes have been approved or even discussed on the county level.

In fact, at Tuesday's Airport Authority meeting, it was decided that Authority Chairman Bob Howard would continue managing the airport on behalf of the Authority.

"I did it to see how long it takes rumors to spread," Hunter said. "There are people who stir up a lot of things at the airport and I will leave it at that."

Howard said the rumor was started without his knowledge until after the fact it happened.

"Frankly, I didn't think it would go anywhere," Howard said. "If someone said that to me, it would just roll off."

Hunter defended his action by saying the airport has "probably been looking for a manager for a while." He also said there was no other intent in starting the rumor other than to find out how long it would take to spread around Marchman Field.

"Sometimes you have to tell people things to find out who you can trust, see how it comes out and how it gets turned around," Hunter said. "It was not the intent to not trust people. I don't want it to seem like I don't trust anyone because that's not the case."

Howard, when asked if he thought the action was juvenile, said he did find it fascinating just how fast it took anyone to call him about the rumor.

"I don't condone it at all," Howard said. "But, when you get back and think about it, who would have thought it would have gone anywhere?

"I agree that this is rather goofy. But, it is indicative as to what goes on at the airport. I don't like it."

At Tuesday's meeting of the Authority, it was suggested that the newest member of the Authority — Kyle Hankinson — assume the management of the airport.

"I would need to get an idea on the workload because I have a good workload now with military and civilian jobs," Hankinson said during the meeting. "I would like a description of what the expectations are for the manager."

For the time being, the Authority elected to keep Howard as manager, until the county decides what it will do with the organization.

Commissioners asked County Manager Carl Classen for facts and figures regarding the Airport Authority before taking up House Bill 290, which allows the Commission to serve as the Airport Authority, if it chooses.

Commissioners are planning to take up the Authority question during its August meeting.

As for the airport management rumor, Howard said there was no harm intended.

"I can understand how some people would think it was childish," Howard said.

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1st Air Force One fades at Marana Regional Airport (KAVQ), Arizona: Caretaker of plane that carried President Eisenhower in 1950s is now looking for a museum to restore it

The aircraft that once spirited President Dwight D. Eisenhower on cross-country voyages now sits in a field that's part of Marana Regional Airport, decaying under the relentless glare of the sun.

The first plane to be designated as Air Force One is fenced off from public viewing - alone and nearly forgotten on a 10-acre parcel.

"I think it's one of these big secrets that, really, few people know that it's out there," said Steve Miller, airport manager. "It's sad that it's just sitting out there, considering its history over the past 70 years."

Marana Regional Airport, which opened in 1943, is on 600 acres. One way it generates revenue is by leasing parcels of that land.

It's home to the derelict former Air Force One: The Columbine II, a Lockheed VC-121 Constellation 48-610, which was built in Burbank, Calif., in 1948. The next year it was converted to carry VIPs and redesignated as a VC-121A.

The plane was named after the state flower of Colorado, the home state of first lady Mamie Eisenhower. In 1953 it became the official presidential aircraft until it was replaced in 1954, when it became the primary backup aircraft.

After a brief civilian stint with Pan American, the aircraft carried Eisenhower for a final time on Oct. 25, 1959, on a trip from Augusta, Ga., to Washington, D.C. It served as a VIP transport at Washington National Airport and Maryland's Andrews Air Force Base before it was retired and flown to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in 1968. It was stripped of its identity and fitted with mismatched landing gear.

Mel Christler of Christler Flying Service bought the aircraft - along with four others, in a 1970 surplus auction - not knowing its true identity. He hoped to convert it to an aerial sprayer, but the plane would not fly due to the landing gear problem.

Christler learned of the plane's history in 1980 when Smithsonian Institution curator Robert Mikesh tracked down its whereabouts and contacted him. Christler and some partners completed a $150,000 restoration of the Colum-bine in 1990, reintroducing it to the public and participating in the Eisenhower Centennial celebration in Abilene, Kan.

After appearances in air shows, it was parked in Roswell and Santa Fe, N.M., until 1998. Efforts to sell the aircraft at auction were unsuccessful, and it was parked at the Marana airport in 2005 in a lease agreement.

The aircraft has no hangar to shelter it from the sun's rays, which are gradually breaking down the aircraft inside and out.

"In its glory days it had marbled floors," Miller said. "Now it just looks like any old, beat-up aircraft sitting there."

The plane is owned by Christler's business partner, Santa Fe resident Harry Oliver. Timothy Coons, a contractor who serves as the plane's caretaker, is looking for a museum willing to take it and restore it.

"Like any machine like that, the interiors are slowly degrading because of the heat," he said, saying it would take $200,000 and 30 days of work by a team of mechanics to restore.

"We're trying to find a good home," Coons said. "It's not doing any justice just sitting here."

Call to see it

To request to see the aircraft, call 382-8051.

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Volunteers come together to clear storm aftermath from Weydahl Field Airport (9Y1), Killdeer, North Dakota

KILLDEER — A few days after a powerful storm wreaked havoc on the Dunn County Airport, volunteers pitched in Saturday to remove debris from around the complex.

About a dozen community members and volunteers showed up bright and early for the cleanup session, which was needed after storms with winds approaching 90 mph tore apart the airport’s hangar and damaged three planes Monday.

“We’re very thankful for the turnout today and for the assistance we’ve received from the community after the storm,” said Dunn County Airport Authority Vice President Mike Schollmeyer. “It left a big mess, but it’s really not as bad as it might seem. We were going to tear down soon anyway. We were able to salvage the office and the electronics room, so that was good.”

With various pieces of rubble and metal and plastic debris laid out next to the office and strewn about Weydahl Field — which is located just north of Killdeer — the crew used three loading units to fill two dump trucks for several loads of scrap.

Schollmeyer said there are no plans for the Airport Authority to build a new hangar.

“One thing I want to make clear is that Dunn County is not going to go into debt to build a new hangar,” Schollmeyer said. “We don’t have any plans to build. We’re doing work to repair our runway, which is something we were going to do before the storm hit and that should be done anywhere from 45 to 90 days from now.”

Schollmeyer said the airport is officially closed, but that pilots have been using Weydahl Field at their own discretion.

“I really want to thank all the people and businesses that have aided the airport in this,” he said. “Bosch Lumber and Farmers Union were both a big help and we appreciate their help.”

Dunn County Emergency Manager Denise Brew, who was on hand for the cleanup Saturday, said last week’s storm damage was some of the worst she’s witnessed. Brew said one person in the county was injured during the storm, though one livestock animal was killed.

“I’ve lived here my entire life and I don’t remember a storm that had as much of a wide-ranging effect,” Brew said. “The most significant thing, of course, is that nobody died. It was a storm that came on quick and it had impacts all over the county.”

Power outages and downed trees were prevalent around Dunn County following the storm. Trained weather spotters estimated winds in some areas of Dunn County of up to 85 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Brew said a number of county residents have also speculated that a funnel cloud may have touched down north of Killdeer, though no tornado activity has been confirmed.

“It hasn’t been a fun deal if you own one of those planes, but I still believe there are big things in store for this airport,” Schollmeyer said. “There’s a lot of demand and people wanting to use this airport because right in the heart of the oil field. We’re not going to build, but we’re more than willing to lease out land around the airport for businesses or for a fixed-base operator. This isn’t going to hurt that at all.”

Though they don’t have a roof any longer, two industrial-sized lawnmowers were left nearly untouched on the hangar’s foundation.

“It’s strange how the storm took the entire hangar, but left those lawnmowers,” said volunteer Shirley Oja of Killdeer. “Those were some strong winds and they did some damage around here.”

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Savannah Economic Development Authority: Savannah a 'sweet spot' for aerospace in the South; will target aircraft suppliers

The Lowcountry coastline has become as popular with aircraft manufacturers as sunbathers and retirees.

Stretching from Boeing’s 4-year-old Dreamliner plant in Charleston, S.C., south to Gulfstream’s facilities in Savannah and Brunswick and on to Brazilian firm Embraer’s new military fighter production center in Jacksonville, the coast can claim aerospace capital of the South status.

And Savannah Economic Development Authority officials are intent on making Savannah the aerospace supplier capital of the corridor.

Last week’s announcement that aircraft parts supplier LMI Aerospace would expand its Savannah facility and nearly triple its local workforce underscored the potential, SEDA CEO Trip Tollison said.

With Gulfstream’s explosive growth — the local facility has doubled in size in the last five years — and Savannah’s proximity to Boeing and Embraer’s facilities, the “sky is the limit” for Savannah, Tollison said.

“We’re in a sweet spot geographically here, with the largest aerospace manufacturer in the South in our backyard and Boeing and Embraer within two hour drives,” Tollison said. “There are almost 30 companies that supply all three manufacturers. Our challenge is: How do we market to and work with those prospects?”

LMI is a “great foundation” from which to build a supplier hub, Tollison said.

The company opened its Savannah facility in 2003 with five employees. Once the new expansion is completed later this year, LMI will boast a local workforce of more than 150 employees and will have broadened the company’s local services to include machining and assembly of aircraft components.

SEDA will sell LMI’s Savannah success story in targeting other suppliers seeking to expand or relocate.

“Over time, this area promises to grow as an aerospace destination,” LMI CEO Ronald Saks said. “Obviously, we’ve been pleased with our experience here. They just need to keep working on the aerospace infrastructure.”

Infrastructure improvements

Building what Saks calls “aerospace infrastructure” is a challenge nearly as complex as the innards of an airplane wing.

Attracting the suppliers to the suppliers is one piece, Saks said. LMI’s expansion could lead some of its suppliers to open local facilities, and Savannah could then better court other companies those suppliers serve.

With more and more manufacturers embracing LEAN manufacturing practices — keeping a low parts inventory onsite and asking suppliers to deliver to the factory regularly, often daily — suppliers need to be close. LMI’s success locally is the result of its reputation for “just in time” delivery of parts to Gulfstream.

Workforce development is another issue in bettering Savannah’s “aerospace infrastructure.” Savannah Technical College’s aviation technology programs and Georgia Tech’s professional education courses provide needed resources.

The STEM initiatives in the local schools should prove beneficial as well, SEDA’s Tollison said. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

“Gulfstream is increasingly happy with the progress we are making on the workforce development side, and we need to leverage and capitalize on that,” Tollison said. “We have caught on to what is going on in aerospace. We have scratched the surface.”

Aerospace infrastructure evolves with the size and activities of locally based manufacturers, said Gulfstream’s Ira Berman, the company’s senior vice president, administration and general counsel.

Gulfstream considers having suppliers nearby beneficial because it allows the business jet maker to be “more collaborative with the suppliers,” Berman said. Gulfstream has several local suppliers, including FlightSafety International, which has offered pilot training on Gulfstream aircraft at its local facility for decades.

“I don’t know that there is a supplier ecosystem,” Berman said. “Our presence here and the presence of other (manufacturers) in the I-95 corridor is what creates the ecosystem more than any critical mass of suppliers.”

Poised for growth

SEDA’s push into the aerospace supplier sector is pending.

The staff has done the research, identifying 28 companies that serve Gulfstream, Boeing and Embraer and 24 more that supply Gulfstream and at least one of the others.

The LMI expansion is a “great start” for the process because it involved wooing Valent Aerostructures. Valent machines and assembles aircraft components, such as wings, and was poised to announce the opening of a Savannah facility six months ago.

That process was interrupted when LMI approached Valent’s leadership about buying the company. LMI acquired Valent a few months later and decided to expand its Savannah facility rather than open a new plant for the operations it inherited from Valent.

Another recent announcement by an aircraft parts supplier relocating to the area should help SEDA’s efforts. Quaker City Plating is opening a facility in Brunswick in early 2014. Quaker City plates the metal used in fixtures in bathrooms and elsewhere on Gulfstream aircraft.

SEDA is finalizing a rebranding initiative that will involve a website update and new marketing materials. Once that is complete, SEDA will begin to reach out to its aerospace parts supplier targets.

“We’re excited about what’s coming on the branding side,” Tollison said. “Timing our push to when we roll that stuff out only makes sense.”

Count Gulfstream among those confident Savannah will attract additional suppliers in the future.

“Our work with SEDA and the city and county and state … we have enjoyed working with them,” Berman said. “They’ve helped us enormously.”


Three large aircraft manufacturers have located factories along the Southeast coast between Charleston, S.C., and Jacksonville, Fla. A look at their local operations:


Where: North Charleston, S.C.

Opened: 2011

Employees: 6,000-plus

Product: Boeing fabricates, assembles and installs systems of the fuselage sections of the 787 Dreamliner, a wide-body commercial passenger jet, at its S.C. facility. The plant also serves as the aircraft’s final assembly and delivery facility. Boeing is the largest manufacturer of passenger airliners in the world.


Where: Jacksonville, Fla.

Opened: 2013

Employees: 50

Product: The Brazilian company will build military aircraft for the U.S. Air Force in its Jacksonville facility when the plant comes online later this year. Embraer also manufactures commercial and agricultural aircraft and is known for its small commuter jets that seat less than 120 passengers.


Where: Savannah, Brunswick

Opened: 1966

Employees: 8,500 Savannah, 190 Brunswick

Product: Gulfstream manufactures three models of its business jets locally, including the G650. Savannah is the company’s corporate headquarters. Gulfstream is the world’s leading business aircraft manufacturer.

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Up in the air: Airport under interim management • Waterloo Regional (KALO), Iowa

WATERLOO, Iowa — Waterloo Regional Airport isn’t exactly on autopilot, but the gateway to the Cedar Valley is certainly in transition.

The facility lost 11-year manager Brad Hagen recently when he took a job in Arizona. Until a replacement is hired, Austin, Texas-based Trillion Aviation has taken the helm.

The City Council approved Trillion’s temporary management of the airport by a 7-0 vote July 1.

“We’ve been working with them for quite a while as consultant to airport matters,” Waterloo Mayor Buck Clark said.

The city was beginning its search for a new airport manager when Trillion Vice President Mike Bown suggested his company take control of the facility until a permanent replacement for Hagen was found, Clark said.

Bown suggested Steve Wareham, who had recently joined Trillion after having directed Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for nine years.

“That was very intriguing to me,” Clark said. “This guy has got incredible credentials for airport management, so we thought it might be a pretty good idea.”

Trillion doesn’t have a daily presence at the airport. Wareham, Bown or another representative of the company is there at least one day per week. The company also is available to staff the facility on an as-needed basis.

“We wanted a management representative on the ground at least one day a week and whenever needed and to help us market the airport and lead the economic development efforts at the airport, and they’ve agreed to do that,” Clark said.

The right candidate

The city benefits because it can spend the time to find the right person to fill the job permanently, Clark said.

Nobody knows how long the search will take. Clark guesses about four to six months.

“According to our advisers at Trillion, there’s a whole bunch of folks reaching that (retirement) age, and there are a lot of airports looking. It’s going to be a pretty competitive market, so it may take a while,” Clark said.

Replacing Hagen won’t be an easy task, said Dee Vandeventer, chairperson of the airport’s board of directors. She cited the more than $30 million in capital improvements at the airport during Hagen’s tenure.

“The board is looking for a director to fill some pretty big shoes,” Vandeventer said. “Our new director has to have the skills to manage large grants and capital projects but also be the face for the airport. We’d like to see him or her out sharing the airport story with the business community and community at large.”

There are two flights in and out of the airport each day, and the hope is to add to that.

“We are so close to getting a third daily flight; all it will take is a few more filled seats each flight,” Vandeventer said. “We see the new director playing a major role in increasing air service to the Cedar Valley.”

Wareham said the airport has been well run, which should make his job easier.

“It’s a beautiful terminal building, been well maintained. The runway is in good condition. There are good relationships with the airlines,” he said. “I’m coming aboard a moving train, and it’s moving in the right direction.”

Looking for ideas

Trillion wants to bring ideas that will lead to growth in order to give the next full-time director a head start, Wareham said. Doing so in absentia isn’t as much a challenge today as it would have been in years past.

“Twenty years ago, this would be a hard thing to do. Today, with Internet and texting, you’re just never far away from a communication link, so I’ll be available seven days a week,” Wareham said.

Bown is looking for potential funding to make Waterloo more competitive with other airports in the region, such as Cedar Rapids, the Quad Cities and Des Moines.

“In terms of air service, it’s a very challenging endeavor,” Bown said.

Waterloo is an Essential Air Service facility and receives federal subsidies for service from its current airline, American Eagle.

The hope is to build air service beyond EAS status, Bown said. He cited Manhattan, Kan., as a city that has done so successfully.

Eagle officials would like to see the Waterloo facility marketed more aggressively, and that will happen, Bown said.

“We’re hoping to help them leverage their position, and it would help if we could get a grant,” he said.

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Jackson County sheriff denies request for helicopter records -- Attorney: Flight logs, fuel costs are public record

Pascagoula,  Mississippi --   Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd has denied the Sun Herald's request for flight records and fuel costs for the Sheriff's Department helicopters, though the law says the records are public. Byrd contends they are not, because drug-forfeiture money, not taxpayer money, is involved.

"The sheriff of Jackson County is a public body under the Mississippi Public Records Act," said Gulfport attorney Henry Laird, who specializes in First Amendment and public-access issues.

The same is true for forfeiture records. "As such, the sheriff has a duty to give the public and the press copies of all public records requested. The records the Sun Herald has requested are public records. For the sheriff to say flight records and fuel records are exempt is wrong. The same is true for forfeiture records. They are public record."

Cherie Ward, the sheriff's public information official, responded in writing to the Sun Herald's request to look at the records.

"Sheriff Byrd received your request for information about flight records and fuel costs of the helicopter," the statement said. "Sheriff Byrd said the fuel is paid for with drug forfeiture money. Sheriff Byrd also said flight records and logs are not public record. Sheriff Byrd added that only the Federal Aviation Administration can view flight records and logs."State law requires a public body to submit in writing the specific exemption they are relying on to deny the records request, but Byrd did not respond to repeated requests for him to cite the exemption he was relying upon when denying the request for records.

Charlie Mitchell, an attorney and assistant dean of the Meek School of Journalism and News Media at the University of Mississippi, said it "would be interesting to know what authority the sheriff cites for nondisclosure."

"As far as I know, flight records, logs and passenger lists on taxpayer-owned aircraft are public records," Mitchell said. "For example, activity of the governor's plane is routinely reported in Mississippi and other states.

"Too, I've never heard of expenditure of drug forfeiture funds being treated differently under the open records laws of the state as any other money going into the General Fund. State law says all records are public unless specifically exempted."

The Sheriff's Department has two helicopters, both military surplus.

All money needed to secure the helicopters, and to maintain and fly them, comes from money the Sheriff's Department gets when drug dealers forfeit the possessions they buy with drug money.

The first helicopter was purchased years before Byrd, now in his fourth term as sheriff, took office.

Byrd got the second helicopter in 2006 using drug-forfeiture money.

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Allegiant Air thrives on routes to sunny vacation spots from often-overlooked small cities

LAS VEGAS — There are no sure things in this city — with one exception: Allegiant Air.

While other U.S. airlines have struggled during the last decade from the ups and downs of the economy and the price of jet fuel, Allegiant has been profitable for 10 straight years.

The tiny airline focuses on a niche ignored by other airlines: It only flies from small cities to sunny vacation spots.

Allegiant uses low fares and nonstop flights to entice people who otherwise wouldn’t fly. Then it pitches them hotels, rental cars, show tickets, and other entertainment, earning millions in commissions.

Passengers face fees for almost every service and amenity imaginable. At Allegiant, fees for checked baggage and changing an itinerary — common on many airlines — are just the start.

The Las Vegas-based airline charges extra to book flights online or to use a credit card. Selecting a seat in advance costs $5 to $75 each way, depending on the length of a flight. A bottle of water costs $2.

While other airlines tout aircraft with Wi-Fi and TVs in every seat, Allegiant buys old planes to avoid hefty loans. And to pack in as many passengers as possible, its seats don’t recline. But for small-town Americans with limited flight options, these inconveniences are worth it for a few days of sunshine.

“They could be the worst airline in the world and we’d fly them because we want to go to Vegas,” said Tom Mayo of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who recently flew there with his family. “It’s our only option.”

Allegiant offers nonstop service from places such as Toledo; Owensboro, Ky.; Casper, Wyo., and Appleton, Wis., to popular destinations in Nevada, Florida, Hawaii, and Arizona.

“Typically, the best way to make money is not to compete with somebody,” said Andrew C. Levy, president of Allegiant Travel Co., who sits in a cubicle next to the rest of his staff.

Last year, 7 million passengers took a flight on Allegiant. That is a sliver of the 642 million people who took a domestic flight last year. But Allegiant earned a whopping $11.22 each way from those passengers. On average, the airline industry earned 37 cents each way, per passenger, according to Airlines for America, the industry’s lobbying group.

Allegiant is ruthless about keeping its costs down. Its employees are some of the lowest paid in the industry; in some cases making $20 an hour less than colleagues at other airlines. It pays cash for airplanes nearly twice as old as everyone else. It only sells directly to vacationers, refusing to pay Expedia, Orbitz, or other sites to list its flights.

And if you have a question, it will cost you: The airline doesn’t have a toll-free number.

To book a trip by phone, Allegiant charges $50 for each round-trip ticket. To book online costs $20 for each round-trip ticket. The only way to avoid the fees is to buy tickets at the airport, something fewer than 3 percent of its customers did last year.

Placing a suitcase in an overhead bin is $10 to $25. If passengers show up at the airport with a large carry-on bag and haven’t prepaid, the airline penalizes them an extra $25 to $50, depending on the route.

But what really makes Allegiant different are the commissions it earns from selling hotel rooms, rental cars, and other extras including Everglades boat tours and theme-park tickets. Last year, revenue from commissions totaled $36 million, or nearly $12 per round-trip passenger.

On a recent flight from Cedar Rapids to Las Vegas, flight attendants hawked show tickets and airport shuttles over the loudspeakers. The in-flight magazine has no stories, just ads. Flight attendants are paid extra for each item sold.

Like other discount carriers, Allegiant prefers small airports that charge lower rents, even if they aren’t the most convenient. In Orlando, that means flying into Sanford, Fla., 30 minutes farther from Walt Disney World than Orlando International Airport.

These decisions helped Allegiant post a net profit of $78 million last year on revenue of $909 million. Its 8.6 percent profit margin was the highest of any U.S. airline, making it a darling of Wall Street.

The airline began in 1998 as a charter operation with one plane. By February the next year, it had started scheduled flights between Fresno, Calif., and Las Vegas.

But business struggled. Less than two years later, it filed for bankruptcy protection. Maurice J. Gallagher, Jr., the airline’s major creditor and a founder of ValuJet Airlines, gained control and became chief executive officer. ValuJet was a low-cost carrier that changed its name to AirTran after a 1996 fatal crash in Florida.

Mr. Gallagher moved the airline from Fresno to Las Vegas; secured a lucrative contract with Harrah’s to provide charter services to its casinos in Laughlin, Nev., and Reno; and started to transform Allegiant into a low-cost carrier.

By 2003, the airline started turning profits, and it hasn’t stopped. Mr. Gallagher’s nearly 20 percent stake in the airline is now worth more than $380 million.

Allegiant benefits from paying lower salaries and having work rules that are more favorable to management than at most airlines. Attendants with 15 years of experience are paid $34 for each hour their plane is in the air — $10 to $20 less than colleagues at larger carriers. Planes and crews typically end up at their home cities overnight, avoiding hotel rooms.

Wages could shoot up. Pilots, flight attendants, and dispatchers have voted in the last two and a half years to join unions.

The airline’s used, inexpensive jets are 23 years old, on average, compared with the industry average of 14 years.

“When you have such little investment in an aircraft, you only fly it when it’s going to be full of passengers,” said Peter B. Barlow of Smith, Gambrell & Russell. “Other airlines don’t have that luxury. They need to keep their aircraft in the air in order to make the economics work.”

But older planes burn more fuel, something Allegiant combats by squeezing 166 passengers onto planes — 26 more than American Airlines has on comparable jets. They also have more mechanical problems, resulting in more delays.

One of every four Allegiant flights last year was at least 15 minutes late, the worst record in the industry, according to flight tracker FlightAware.


Airport work may start in August: Marshfield Municipal - George Harlow Field (KGHG), Massachusetts

Marshfield Municipal Airport hopes runway renovation will begin in mid-August, pending the release of funding from the Federal Aviation Administration, airport manager David Dinneen said. 

The apparent low bidder, though not formally approved as such, is Lawrence-Lynch Corp. of Falmouth, he said. 

The airport plans to lengthen and widen the runway and replace the lighting and navigation systems. 

Energy-efficient LED lights will be used for the taxiways, but not the runway, because they are not approved for that purpose by the Federal Aviation Administration, he said.

The airport requested just over $13 million from the Federal Aviation Administration; additional money will come from the state and a town bond of $200,000. 

Engineering and construction costs are expected to total $15 million. 

The changes are intended to enhance safety for existing flights, not to expand into new types of service, he said.

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Hangar leases on commissioners court agenda: Rusk County Airport (KRFI), Henderson, Texas

The Rusk County Commissioners Court will discuss airport hangar leases at its Thursday morning meeting.

The county airport has been expanded and renovated within the past two years in order to make more hangar space available.

The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. at the courthouse, 115 N. Main in Henderson.


Pilots from Greater Nashua, New Hampshire, combine love of flying with joy of giving

NASHUA – Flying is fun for some pilots and a passion for others, but flying for a good cause is especially satisfying for pilots Mike Rosenblum, of Nashua, and Tom Quail, of Bedford.

They are volunteer pilots for Angel Flight Northeast, an nonprofit organization founded in 1996 with the mission to provide patients and accompanying family members free transportation to appointments for medical care at facilities throughout New England and elsewhere.

Rosenblum and Quail are among the more than 1,000 volunteer pilots who transport infants, toddlers, teens and adults. The patients usually are accompanied by at least one family member.

In addition, the men sometimes need to transport the patient’s wheelchair, breathing equipment or mobility scooter.

The pilots take their passengers to destinations offering chemotherapy appointments, burn treatments, kidney dialysis, injury rehabilitation and other forms of care.

Rosenblum and Quail share membership in the New Hampshire Flying Association, a club incorporated in 1960. The plane, a single-engine Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, is a six-seater owned by the club and shared among 17 members. It can fly at a speed of around 180 mph.

The plane, which is hangared at Nashua Municipal Airport, can travel some 700 miles between fill-ups. Currently, a fill-up of around 74 gallons of low-lead aviation fuel costing $6.39 per gallon totals nearly $473.

Quail, a former president of the flying club, and Rosenblum, the club’s secretary and treasurer, agree that they find the expense is incidental to helping someone in need.

Larry Camerlin, founder and president of Angel Flight Northeast, said since its establishment in 1996, more than 65,000 free flights have been arranged. Volunteer pilots have logged more than 12 million miles providing the service.

Upon each landing, other volunteers, called “Earth Angels,” take up the mission and drive patients and their companions to the specified hospital, medical center or doctor’s office.

“Angel Flight Northeast is blessed with more than 1,000 volunteer pilots, like Tom Quail,” Camerlin said. “Our pilots not only donate their time, planes and fuel, but they provide so much compassion to the patients and passengers they fly. Many pilots fly the same patients multiple times and become a part of the patients’ extended families.”

Camerlin said Rosenblum, a pilot for 32 years, is one whose efforts have brought comfort to hundreds of patients.

“Since joining the Angel Flight Northeast organization in 2004, Mike has signed up for nearly 90 flights of healing and hope,” Camerlin said. “Mike not only volunteers his time, plane and fuel – as do all of our volunteer pilots – but he brings compassion to each patient and passenger he flies.

“We are honored to have Mike as part of our Angel Flight Northeast organization.”

Jeffrey Sutton, of Westford, Mass., president of the New Hampshire Flying Association, said the club is one of the oldest continuously operating flying clubs in New Hampshire. He said club members hail from many towns, including Candia and Sandown, and also from as far away as West Newbury, Mass.

Sutton said he’s proud that Rosenblum and Quail are putting their time and flying skills toward a great cause that they’re passionate about.

“These guys don’t just go out and volunteer their flight time, they have to maintain their pilot currency throughout the year to qualify for the Angel Flights,” Sutton said. “It’s a big commitment.

“They usually reserve the airplane each month for potential Angel Flights. Because of their enthusiasm, we have other members looking to support Angel Flights, as well.”

Quail, a pilot since 1966 and a former president of the flying club, has been to many destinations in his eight years with Angel Flight Northeast. He and Rosenblum have taken patients to Philadelphia. Trips from Long Island to Boston are common. Shorter hops might be from Martha’s Vineyard to Nantucket.

Their longest Angel Flight took them from Long Island to Baltimore.

“I get the feeling of helping people and using the plane to do something good,” Quail said as Rosenblum loaded gear into the craft. “We have a kind of code. We don’t pry.

“One boy had something wrong with his spine. Others have cancer or some other ailment. A little girl we flew was a burn victim. Her hands had been burned off, but she was playing with her iPad. She was going to Boston from Long Island for more burn therapy of her face and hands.”

Rosenblum, chief financial officer of the New Hampshire Auto Dealers Association, a trade association for about 500 dealers of new and used motor vehicles, said that when he and Quail take the plane out, they take turns as pilot and co-pilot. They’ve been associates for about five years and have made about 40 trips together on behalf of Angel Flight Northeast.

Quail is retired from a 32-year career in the materials handling industry.

“We try to do different missions,” Rosenblum said. “We try to select different destinations and different airports. We like to go to New York, Boston and Baltimore. We’ve done flights from Maine.

“Our youngest patient was 2 years old. Our oldest is 80 years old.”

Rosenblum also cited the flight with the young burn victim as one of his most memorable.

“Our little burn victim had the most effect on me,” Rosenblum said. “You look at her and your heart goes out. She had the love and the energy and the spirit. She was some little girl.”

For more information on Angel Flight Northeast, volunteer opportunities or sponsorships, call 1-978-794-6868 or visit www.

For more information about the New Hampshire Flying Association, visit

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A nose for art: Aviation buff builds a career on re-creating plane artwork

MOUNT ZION — Dan McQuality, an Army veteran and ordained pastor, is living out his dream of working as a full-time artist.

A World War II aviation buff whose grandfather survived the downing of his B-17 bomber in Germany, McQuality paints vintage pinups, cartoon characters and mascots on warbird noses that he fabricates himself in his home studio.

McQuality, 42, who was born in Panama and raised in Decatur, started his career at an early age.

“I drew a swastika on a paper airplane at ABC Daycare and got in trouble,” McQuality recalled during an interview at his Mount Zion home, which he shares with his wife and their six children. “I was just drawing what I had seen. I wasn’t trying to be a Nazi.”

The negative reaction to that early effort didn’t deter the self-taught artist from developing his talent.

He joined the Army shortly after graduating from Mount Zion High School in 1988.

When he served as a medic with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment during the Gulf War less than three years later, he painted vehicle nicknames on M1 Abrams and M3 Bradley tanks, as well as pictures, such as skulls and scenes of tanks in battles.

“I drew nose art on a lot of armored vehicles,” recalled McQuality, who drove an armored personnel carrier, cheerfully nicknamed Armageddon, during the first Iraq war.

About 15 years later, when McQuality was living in Holland, Mich., and serving as the pastor of a Lutheran church, his talent for painting vehicles surfaced again.

“I had a ’54 Ford I was dismantling,” said McQuality, whose father, Robert “Mac” McQuality, owns and operates an upholstery shop specializing in classic cars. “I started painting on some of the fenders. I put some of them on eBay and sold them. I started getting requests for more and it took off from there.”

McQuality moved back to his hometown in 2009, partly to be near his father, an Air Force veteran.

Dan McQuality, who is pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Lincoln, had no idea when he sold his first nose art pictures that it would become a full-time business.

“It was just something I did for a hobby, and it blossomed into something more,” McQuality said.

Because of the Internet exposure of McQuality’s early offerings, other people contacted him, especially pilots and military veterans, with proposals to create custom nose art. McQuality created his own website,, which brought more offers.

A customer named LaRhonda, who has a military background, discovered that there was once was a B-17 nicknamed “Sweet LaRhonda,” which flew missions in World War II. Naturally, she wanted someone to replicate the nose art of the original warbird — a beauty in a two-piece bathing suit riding a surfboard — so she could see it in living color on a regular basis in her Georgia home.

McQuality, who is so in demand that he tells new customers it may take him a month to get to their project, received his most memorable request early last year.

Patrick Van Tiem of suburban Detroit operates a business in which he sells leather flight jackets autographed by former President George H.W. Bush. He decided he wanted to give Bush a jacket as a gift, with a painting of his namesake aircraft carrier emblazoned on its back.

“I did an online search for someone who did nose art on jackets,” Van Tiem said.

When he called McQuality, Van Tiem discovered that he had served in Desert Storm.

“So he admires President Bush as well,” Van Tiem said. “So that cemented the deal in my mind.”

Van Tiem sent a flight jacket to McQuality, who painted a detailed picture of the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier on the ocean, with an F-18 Hornet fighter jet taking off and another one landing.

Although Van Tiem offered to pay for the service, McQuality insisted on doing the work gratis, so it became a gift from him as well.

“Dan did a great job, and President Bush absolutely loved it,” Van Tiem said. “I presented it to him in April 2012, and he thought it was absolutely wonderful.”

At Van Tiem’s suggestion, McQuality sent Bush a note.

“That made it even more poignant because Dan had served when he was commander-in-chief,” Van Tiem said, adding the aircraft carrier and its crew are near and dear to Bush’s heart.

Bush, in turn, wrote a heartfelt thank-you note to McQuality.

His wife, Rachel, said receiving that note was memorable.

“Dan was floating on air for days,” Rachel recalled.

McQuality’s generosity was richly rewarded. Van Tiem has commissioned him to paint several more jackets with pictures of the USS George H.W. Bush and the light aircraft carrier USS San Jacinto, which Bush served on as a young pilot during World War II.

For Dan and Rachel McQuality, who helps with shipping and other business duties, their products often forge strong emotional ties with their customers, especially veterans who see their former service memorialized. Many veterans and their relatives send stories along with their orders, which the McQualitys enjoy.

“For a lot of guys, two or four years in the service, it just tattoos you for life,” Dan McQuality said. “It shapes you, especially as a young man. When they’re in the service, they bleed red, white and blue.”

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