Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Officer killed in fall while trying to rescue hiker from Mt. Charleston northwest of Las Vegas

LVMPD Sheriff Douglas Gillespie comments on the tragic death of Search & Rescue officer David Vanbuskirk. Officer Vanbuskirk died July 22, 2013 from a fall, while performing a helicopter rescue of a stranded hiker. He was 36 years old.

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has identified the search and rescue officer that was killed during a rescue Monday night as 36-year-old David Vanbuskirk. 

Sheriff Doug Gillespie held a press conference at 10:30 a.m. to talk about the incident.

According to Gillespie, a call was received shortly before 9 p.m. Monday night that a hiker was stranded in the Mary Jane Falls area on Mount Charleston.

The disoriented hiker was located on a rock ledge and a helicopter was brought in to retrieve the hiker because of the dangerous terrain.

Vanbuskirk was lowered to the hiker where he attached the hiker to a hoist cable to be pulled up into the helicopter.

Somehow, the search and rescue officer became detached from the hoist cable in the process and fell into the canyon below.

Other search and rescue team members were able to reach Vanbuskirk quickly but the sheriff described it as an "unsurvivable fall."

The hiker was hoisted to safety.

Sheriff Gillespie said it is "always a dark day when you lose one of your own."

He said that Vanbuskirk had been with Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department since 1999 and joined the search and rescue team in 2007.

He also described the rescue as "routine" and said that Vanbuskirk had done "dozens" of such rescues.

The sheriff described Vanbuskirk as a "local boy born and raised" and said that he had an extended family.

Sheriff Gillespie told the media that the family was dealing with the incident as well as they could under the circumstances.

A fellow officer told Action News that Vanbuskirk attended Green Valley High School and was in the United States Army before becoming a Las Vegas police officer.

Flags around the city will be flown at half staff Tuesday and officers' badges will be shrouded in memory of Vanbuskirk.

An investigation into the accident will be conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the LVMPD.

Vanbuskirk is the first police officer to be killed in the line of duty since 2009 and the 18th such death in the history of the department.

Source:  http://www.ktnv.com

Fairfax County (Virginia) Police Helicopter Unit Receives Award


Members of the Fairfax County Police Departments helicopter unit recently received the annual Gus Crawford Air Crew of the Year Award. The unit received the award July 20 for the rescue of two missing boys in Spotsylvania. 

The three officers who were recognized were Pilot Garrett Wymer, Master Police Officer Paul DeHaven and Police Officer First Class Timothy Schilling. 

On January 25, two brothers, age ten and 5, went outside to play with their dog in the snow. Thirty minutes later, the parents went to check on them to find footprints from the boys led into the dense woods bordering the family home.

Deputies from the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office began searching for the boys and requested assistance from the Fairfax County Police Helicopter, “Fairfax One.” During sub-freezing temperatures, te helicopter unit performed an extensive search, using the infrared camera while also communicating with deputies on the ground.

With only 10 to 15 minutes remaining for Fairfax One to remain on the scene, a small heat source was located under a fallen tree next to a creek. The crew was able to spot the two missing boys huddled together under the tree and directed search team members to their location.

The Gus Crawford Air Crew of the Year Award is given annually by the Airborne Law Enforcement Association, which was founded in 1968 and has 3,500 members worldwide. 

McCharen Field (M83), West Point, Mississippi: Improvements at airport ready to take off

 WEST POINT, Miss. (WTVA) -- Pilots and passengers will notice a few enhancements when planes taxi into McCharen Field. 

Through a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration the airport will offer new ammenities.

"Yeah, anytime you got modernization at an airport, it's going to attract new business. Also, it's going to attract pilots because of the safety factor of a modernized airport," said Kevin Wylie, corporate pilot.

Plans call for the nearly $254,000 project to extend a new sewer service to the infrastructure at the airport which includes three hangars and a pilot lounge area.

Plus, it will connect a business located on Airport Road to the city's sewer service.

The change is expected to save the city money as it will no longer require the septic tanks to be pumped out and have the waste trucked away.

"You provide accurate sewer service instead of the antiquated septic tank system and portable treatment that you have one site with buildings and businesses," said Randy Jones airport manager.

Once the force main is installed and fully operational, not only does it open the door for the city to do further developments inside the airport, but it also opens up an avenue to have commercial development around the peremiter of the airport.

"Now, we'll have a circular ability where we can provide water and sewer service 360 degrees around the airport," added Jones.

"Any kind of infrastructure that they do to the airport is always going to help as far as bringing industry in," said Wylie.

The work is expected to begin sometime in September.

The Federal Aviation Administration is picking up 95 percent of the tab.

The rest of the cost will be picked up from the state and from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Story and Video:  http://www.wtva.com

Hope College student's family to settle $750,000 lawsuit against United States in fatal plane crash: Cessna 172N Skyhawk, N8405E, Accident occurred January 17, 2010 in Holland, Michigan


GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The family of one of the Hope College students killed in a 2010 plane crash has agreed to settle its lawsuit against the federal government for $750,000, records show.

The settlement awaits review by a judge next month.

Peter Biagioni filed suit against the government after his daughter, Emma Biagioni, died with pilot David Otai in the Jan. 17, 2010, crash in Allegan County’s Manlius Township.

The rented Cessna crashed shortly after it left Tulip City Air Service, which is now West Michigan Regional Airport.

Emma Biagioni was a 20-year-old resident of St. Charles, Ill., while Otai, 23, came from Kenya.

Peter Biagioni blamed air-traffic controllers in Muskegon for failing to help Otai when he radioed he was having trouble in heavy fog.

The lawsuit said Otai called for assistance within 15 minutes of take-off. His first call went unanswered because the controller was tied up with another duty, but seconds later, the controller responded.

Otai told her he was “’caught in some fog and and would like vectors [radar directions] to the runway eight at Tulip City [airport],’” attorney Mark Schwartz wrote in the lawsuit.

The controller did not understand what the pilot said. She did not ask him to repeat his call. Then, she advised the pilot to contact the flight service station on a certain frequency before she realized she relayed the wrong frequency, the lawsuit said.

A second controller then provided another wrong frequency. The pilot called Muskegon Approach again, and told them he could not reach anyone, the lawsuit said.

The pilot then “reiterated what he told Defendant’s air traffic controller on his first call-up transmission - that he was caught in fog and wanted radar vectors to Tulip City Airport.” The pilot said he was flying under visual flight rules, but that he was having an emergency, the lawsuit said.

Soon, the plane crashed into a farm field 4 miles south of Holland.

The lawsuit said that proper response by the controller could have resulted in the plane being identified by radar and climbing, and re-directed to an airport where visibility was better.

The U.S. said the air-traffic controllers acted with “due care,” and were not the cause of the crash.

“Also, the United States contends that the pilot caused the accident by negligently discharging his duties as pilot-in-command by, inter alia, illegally taking off without an instrument flight plan in poor weather, known as instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), and other violations of the Federal Aviation Regulations,” according to a status report.

Otai was a sophomore at Hope College. He planned to fly missionary planes in Africa. Biagioni, a junior, was a political science major.

The Biagioni family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in U.S. District Court in November. The parents will receive the bulk of the funds that will be shared with their daughter’s brother, sister and grandfather.

After expenses, the net recovery will be $718,304.99. Attorneys representing the family will receive 25 percent as a contingency fee.

Story and Photos:  http://www.mlive.com

NTSB Identification: CEN10FA101
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, January 17, 2010 in Holland, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/07/2011
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N8405E
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot rented the airplane for most of the day to give rides to friends and had fueled it to capacity. He told a lineman that he planned to takeoff and, if necessary, would file an instrument-flight-rules flight plan and return to the airport. Witnesses saw the airplane take off and disappear into the overcast. Shortly thereafter, they heard an airplane make four passes over the airport. The sound became progressively louder but they could not see the airplane. On the fifth pass, the airplane was seen approximately 50 feet above the ground and it barely cleared a stand of trees. Recorded ATC transscripts revealed that the pilot contacted approach control and told the controller that he was caught in heavy fog and wanted vectors back to the airport. The airplane crashed shortly thereafter in a snow-covered field.

An examination of the airplane showed impact damage consistent with having descended to the ground in an uncontrolled spin. An examination of the airplane's systems showed no anomalies.

Although the pilot was instrument rated, he had not flown with instruments since receiving his rating 2 years ago. He had logged 1.8 hours in actual instrument meteorological conditions, 50.8 in simulated IMC, and 6.7 hours in a flight simulator. Ceiling and visibility at the time of the accident was below landing minimums and was recorded as 200 feet overcast and 3/4-mile in mist. The RNAV (GPS) RWY 8 approach chart was found on the pilot’s lap. Although the airplane was IFR certified, it was not RNAV or GPS equipped. Toxicology results indicated the presence of propoxyphene, a prescription narcotic medication. The concentration present was consistent with use at a time outside of 24 hours prior to the accident and would not have caused impairment. Cellular telephone records showed that the pilot had engaged in calls and text message conversations with the passenger the night before the accident. Starting at 6:00 P.M. the night before the accident, the pilot received or made calls or text messages every hour, through midnight, until 3:12 A.M. In one conversation, the passenger told the pilot that he would be in good flying shape for the next day, and the pilot replied that he needed to get 4 hours of rest before he flew. The final outgoing call to the passenger was placed at 7:59 A.M. on the day of the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's decision to take off in known instrument meteorological conditions without instrument currency or recent instrument experience, which led to spatial disorientation resulting in an inadvertent spin. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's lack of adequate rest prior to the flight.

EU Directive On Dreamliner Safety Expected Soon: WSJ

 July 23, 2013, 11:17 a.m. ET


The Wall Street Journal

Europe's air-safety regulator Tuesday said it expected to issue a directive within days on the airworthiness of 787 Dreamliners, following the fire inside a parked Ethiopian Airlines 787 10 days ago, in line with similar instructions being prepared by U.S. authorities and the aircraft's manufacturer, Boeing Co.

The European Aviation Safety Agency, a counterpart of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, is expected to advise airlines to inspect, and possibly replace, emergency-locator transmitters made by Honeywell International Inc. Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch last week linked the emergency beacons to the fire, which occurred while the 787 was parked away from terminal buildings at London's Heathrow Airport.

"We plan on issuing a directive in the next few days but can't be more specific on details at the moment," an EASA spokesman said.

ELTs act as a distress beacon on aircraft and the Ethiopian 787's transmitter was identified by British investigators in their interim report as a possible cause of the fire or instrumental in spreading the flames in the rear of the unoccupied jetliner. The AAIB report stopped short of definitely concluding that the device sparked the fire, which burned near the tail, between insulation and the plane's carbon-fiber skin.

On Friday the FAA said it would mandate inspections of the devices in coming days and that airlines would be asked to look for "proper wire routing and any sign of wire damage or pinching," referring to the connections between the transmitters, or ELTs, and the lithium batteries that power them. In addition, an FAA statement said inspections should look for unusual signs of heating or moisture inside battery compartments.

Boeing in a statement on Friday said it has provided instructions to operators on performing the inspections. It also will issue its own guidance highlighting that 787 operators have the choice of checking the transmitters or voluntarily removing them.

—Andy Pasztor contributed to this article.

Source:  http://online.wsj.com

Foothills Regional Airport (KMRN), Morganton, North Carolina: Another delay over plea negotiations

MORGANTON, NC — The federal government was working on plea deals in the Foothills Regional Airport investigation and it appeared new charges could be imminent.

But Tuesday, the government filed a motion for another stay of 60 days in the case because plea deal negotiations have not been resolved and more time is needed, the motion argues. The third motion to stay says the 60 days will give the government time for plea negotiations to be finalized and any pertinent plea documents in the prosecution of a related criminal matter can be filed. The government argues that discovery in the case will interfere with ongoing negotiations in the related criminal matter.

No one else has been charged in the case and the federal government’s second motion to stay expired this week. In the previous stay, the government’s argument for it was “so that the parties to this proceeding may finalize plea negotiations and file pertinent plea documents in the prosecution of a related criminal matter.”

Former Foothills Regional Airport Authority board member Randy Hullette filed a claim for a Mercedes that was seized from Alex Nelson during the FBI’s initial raid on the airport and Nelson’s home on June 5, 2012. The federal government has fought Hullette’s claim but requested a temporary stop in the case, called a motion to stay, for 120 days. Just as that motion to stay was about to run out, the government filed another stay, this time one that would last 30 days.

The second motion to stay said the government expected plea negotiations would be finalized in a matter of days. That motion was filed June 19, according to court documents.

The second stay goes on to say, “In this case, broad civil discovery on the cusp of the final resolution of negotiations in the criminal matter could adversely affect the ability of the parties to promptly resolve the related criminal matter. Furthermore, the Government does not anticipate that any more than an additional thirty days of stay is necessary for the parties to resolve that criminal matter and this civil forfeiture case.”

But the third motion to stay filed Tuesday says negotiations are still on-going.

Former Airport Manager Alex Nelson and former operations manager Brad Adkins pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy and embezzling, and Nelson also pleaded guilty to money laundering. In September, Nelson and Adkins agreed to help the government in any trial, hearing or grand jury proceeding, including testifying against any co-defendants.

The timeframe for the crimes that occurred with the airport was between June 2009 and June 2012, according to court documents.

It’s unclear who the government could be working out plea agreements with, but Hullette has been tied to the investigation.

Hullette previously filed a claim for the Mercedes, saying he sold the car to Nelson but that he never received payment for the car.

When the government filed its first motion to stay for 120 days earlier this year, the motion said, “Law enforcement is still investigating the criminal conduct that forms the basis of the Bill of Information. Specifically, Hullette is a subject of such investigation, and law enforcement is attempting to determine what criminal culpability Hullette and others may have in this case.”

The first order to stay instructed the government that after the expiration of the 120 day period, the stay would automatically dissolve unless the government could show by motion reasons why the stay should not be lifted. That stay was granted, as was the additional 30-day stay.

Story:  http://www.hickoryrecord.com

Bell 407, Med-Trans Corporation, N445MT: Accident occurred January 02, 2013 in Clear Lake, Iowa

NTSB Identification: CEN13FA122
14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 02, 2013 in Clear Lake, IA
Aircraft: Bell Helicopter 407, registration: N445MT
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

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

On January 2, 2013, about 2057 central standard time, a Bell Helicopter model 407, N445MT, impacted terrain near Clear Lake, Iowa. The pilot and two medical crew members sustained fatal injuries. The helicopter was destroyed. The helicopter was registered to Suntrust Equipment Leasing & Finance Corporation and operated by Med-Trans Corporation under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as a positioning flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was operated on a company flight plan. A flight plan was not filed with the Federal Aviation Administration. The flight originated from the Mercy Medical Center, Mason City, Iowa, about 2049, with an intended destination of the Palo Alto County Hospital, (IA76), Emmetsburg, Iowa.

A witness located about 1 mile south of the accident site, reported observing the helicopter as it approached from the east. He noted that it appeared to slow and then turn to the north. When he looked again, the helicopter appeared to descend straight down. He subsequently went back into his house and called 911. He described the weather conditions as “misty,” with a light wind.

A second witness reported that he was working in his garage when he heard the helicopter. He stated that the sound of the helicopter changed as if it was turning, followed by what he described as a “thump” and then everything was quiet. He subsequently responded to the accident with the Ventura Fire Department. He reported that there was a coating of ice on his truck windshield that the wipers would not clear. He decided to drive another car to the fire station because it had been parked in the garage. While responding to the accident site with the fire department, as the fire truck he was on was waiting to cross Highway 18, they observed a Clear Lake police car, also responding to the accident, slide through the intersection. They informed dispatch to advise following units to expect slick road conditions. He noted that there was a haze in the air, which was evident when looking toward a street light; however, he did not recall any precipitation at the time.

A pilot located at the Mason City airport reported that he saw the helicopter fly overhead and estimated its altitude as 300 feet above ground level (agl). He was leaving the airport at that time and noted there was a glaze of ice on his car. He added that the roads were icy as he drove out of the airport and onto Highway 18. He commented that he had flown into Mason City about 1830 and encountered some light rime ice at that time.

Satellite tracking data depicted the helicopter becoming airborne at the medical center about 2049. According to the data, between 2050 and 2055, the helicopter proceeded westbound along Highway 18 about 1,800 feet mean sea level (msl). The final tracking data point was recorded about 2056 and was located approximately 1 mile north of Highway 18, along Balsam Avenue. The altitude associated with that data point was 2,648 feet msl. The accident site was located about one-quarter mile west of the final data point.

The helicopter impacted a harvested agricultural field. The debris path was about 100 feet long and oriented toward the west-southwest. The helicopter was fragmented, and the cockpit and cabin areas were compromised. The main wreckage consisted of the main rotor blades, transmission, engine, portions of the fuselage, and the tail boom. The tail rotor had separated from the tail boom and was located about 80 feet east-northeast of the main wreckage. The landing skids had separated from the fuselage. The left skid was located at the initial impact point; the right skid was located about 35 feet west of the main wreckage.

The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with helicopter and single-engine airplane ratings. His airplane rating was limited to private pilot privileges. He was issued a second class airman medical certificate on April 17, 2012, with a limitation for corrective lenses. His most recent regulatory checkride was completed on September 29, 2012, about the time of his initial employment with the operator. At that time, he reported having accumulated a total flight time of 2,808 hours, with 2,720 hours in helicopters.

Weather conditions recorded at the Mason City Municipal Airport, located about 7 miles east of the accident site, at 2053, were: wind from 300 degrees at 8 knots; 8 miles visibility; broken clouds at 1,700 feet agl, overcast clouds at 3,300 feet agl, temperature -3 degrees Celsius, dew point -5 degrees Celsius, altimeter 30.05 inches of mercury. At 2117, the recorded conditions included broken clouds at 1,300 feet agl and overcast clouds at 1,800 feet agl.


MASON CITY — Relatives of Shelly Lair-Langenbau, a flight nurse killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 2, have filed a lawsuit in Cerro Gordo County District Court, claiming negligence on the part of the air transport company that owned the helicopter and its pilot.

The suit claims the pilot, Gene Grell, who was also killed in the crash took off in icing conditions that made the helicopter unsafe to fly.

Plaintiffs are the nurse’s husband, Worth County Sheriff Jay Langenbau; two minor children; and Gerald and Karen Lair, her parents.

The defendant is Med-Trans Corp., Lewisville, Texas, which operates the helicopter service.

The suit claims Lair-Langenbau, 44, of Hanlontown, was the flight nurse on a Bell 407 helicopter, owned by Med-Trans and piloted by Grell, that took off in icing conditions from Mercy Medical Center - North Iowa with an intended destination of Palo Alto County Hospital in Emmetsburg.

The helicopter crashed in a field shortly after takeoff, killing Lair-Langenbau, Grell, 53, of Texas and paramedic Russell Piehl, 48, of Forest City.

The suit claims Med-Trans knew that Bell 407 helicopters were not safe to operate in certain weather conditions, including icing.

It further claims Med-Trans had a “go at any cost” philosophy that placed corporate profit over safety.

Also, the suit says Med-Trans is liable for the actions of Grell who, the suit claims did not properly assess the weather before taking off; failed to abort the flight when he knew of the icing conditions; improperly flew the helicopter and failed to maintain control over it; and failed to obtain proper weather data prior to the flight.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages for the alleged wrongful death of Lair-Langenbau; punitive damages sufficient to punish and deter Med-Trans from further wrong-doing; court costs of the plaintiffs; and any further relief the court deems appropriate.

Langenbau and the other plaintiffs are represented by Mason City attorney John P. Lander and attorneys Gary C. Robb and Anita Porte Robb of Kansas City, Mo.

They are requesting a jury trial.

Efforts to reach Med-Trans for comment were unsuccessful.

Story and Photo:  http://globegazette.com

Reward offered for info on killing of pregnant mule deer: Coolidge Municipal Airport (P08), Arizona

COOLIDGE, AZ  - A $1,250 reward for information that leads to an arrest in connection with the poaching of a pregnant mule deer doe found near the Coolidge Airport is being offered by Arizona's Game and Fish Department.

The doe was killed with two shots from a small caliber firearm between 4:30 a.m. and 7:20 a.m. Sunday on the southeast side of the airport.

The reward is part of the Arizona Game and Fish Department's program Operation Game Thief, which seeks to crack down on illegal animal poaching in the state.

Regional Supervisor Brad Fulk of Game and Fish in Tucson commented on the senseless killing saying, "Poachers are not hunters. They are thieves who steal wildlife from the citizens of Arizona. 

Killing a doe is always illegal in Arizona, and that this one was close to giving birth and was left to waste makes the case especially tragic."

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Operation Game Thief at 800-352-0700, anonymously if need be, and reference OGT #13-001986.

Information may also be provided online at www.azgfd.gov.

Story, Photo, Comments/Reaction:  http://www.kvoa.com

Crop Dusting Business Slows Due to Dry Weather

Gene Martin operates Martin Airfield in South Sioux City, Nebraska he has been flying planes for more than 50 years.

Lately, Gene's crop dusting business is not doing as well as it normally does.

Martin says, "The dry weather is not good, the farmer decides that without rain or if he doesn't have an irrigator he probably won't spend much money doing what I am doing here."

Because of the late spring many farmers were late planting their corn crops. That delay, has caused business to slow down for Gene Martin.

The few crops that have grown and are ready to be sprayed, will benefit greatly from the pesticides that Gene will spray.

Martin says, "It used to be that if you got 100 bushels to the acre than you had quite a crop, but now they're getting 200 or more bushels because of the chemicals and the way we do it so it's way to their advantage to take care of it."

Despite the shortage of crops right now, Gene has a positive outlook on the business of crop dusting. He says, there's always something to spray.

Martin added, "Aphids is the next thing, we've got a few of those around, and those will be the next thing we spray, and we will get really busy with that."

The last round of crop dusting is herbicides. Gene says he will spray all the way into the middle of November.

Story:   http://www.kcautv.com

Air Tractor AT-802A, N86BM: Accident occurred July 19, 2013 in Huntingburg, Indiana

NTSB Identification: CEN13LA424
 14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Friday, July 19, 2013 in Huntingburg, IN
Aircraft: AIR TRACTOR INC AT-802A, registration: N86BM
Injuries: 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On July 19, 2013, about 1030 central daylight time, an Air Tractor AT-802A airplane, N86BM, impacted terrain after striking a pair of suspended power lines during low altitude maneuvering near the Huntingburg Airport (KHNB), Huntingburg, Indiana. The commercial pilot sustained serious injuries and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to and operated by Milhon Air, Inc under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 as an aerial application flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight originated from KHNB at an unknown time.

The pilot was on his final application run and was flying on an easterly heading. According to witnesses, the airplane struck two suspended power lines and subsequently impacted terrain about 1 ½ miles east of KHNB. After the airplane impacted terrain, it continued towards and came to rest in a group of trees located next to a lake.

Inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration examined the scene and retained the wreckage for further examination. The inspectors noted that the power lines ran north-south across the flight path on the east side of the field.

The automated weather reporting station located at KHNB reported at 1035: wind from 230 degrees at 11 knots, 10 miles visibility, clear skies, temperature 82 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dew point 72 degrees F, and a barometric pressure of 30.07 inches of mercury.

 (DUBOIS CO.) - Officials say the pilot of the crop dusting plane that crashed Friday is in fair condition.

The bad news is there's now concern chemicals and fuel from that plane may have polluted the water in Conservation Lake.

The Huntingburg Conservation Club has a Facebook page, and on Sunday, they posted a message to all HCC members to stay off the grounds this week, while they test the water and soil.

It seems the plane spilled a decent amount of chemicals and jet fuel, that has the HCC concerned about health safety.

HCC President Tim Jerger says he's been speaking with investigators, to find out what chemicals the plane was carrying and how much.

"They did say that the most it could possibly have been on that plane was 100 gallons of chemicals. I know there was a fungicide for sure, and I think, herbicide," Jerger said.

The fear is that some of those chemicals and some of the jet fuel may have mixed with the lake immediately following the crash. In the rainy days that followed, that mixture may have soaked through the soil.

HCC Boardmember Leonard Gehlhausen says there are no signs of dead fish, but there is some contaminated soil.

Gehlhausen says they've sent water samples from the lake to a state lab and they expect results on Friday. In the meantime, the park is closed for safety reasons until further notice.

Neither the
Federal Aviation Administration nor Milhorn Incorporated cared to comment on the crash investigation on Monday. But the Federal Aviation Administration says they will be able to make public comments in two to three weeks when the investigation concludes.

Story:   http://www.wbiw.com

The joy, and discipline, of earning pilot's wings

By Drew A. Penner, Comox Valley Echo 

July 23, 2013

The first thing you notice as the glider circles higher and higher behind the Cessna 182 tow-plane is the pervasive brilliance of the deep blue sky melding into the diamond latticework of the Georgia Strait.

The Powell River ferry cuts an angular swath in the aqua carpet below. Time seems to stand still.

Up until now everything has been preparation. Falcon team flight commander Tyler Kragh, 23, inspected the Schweizer SGS-233A before manually taxiing out to the runway at the CFB Comox air force base with the help of exuberant cadets in the midst of a prestigious Transport Canada-recognized glider training program.

The pilot, for his part, had logged over 880 flights and 115 hours of instruction ahead of the trip.

Then, suddenly the command: "Here we go. All out!" Kragh announced. "All out!" came the echo from the wing, as a cadet switched from an arms-out pose to twirling one arm.

And we were off. First two feet, then three feet, then 100... You see the brown, charcoal and yellow hues of summer agriculture, the hearty green patches of forest, the suburban-style housing bounded by the teal tinge of the estuary and off-coast waters.

As the towline is released the glider dips momentarily, before seemingly pausing in mid air in what is best described as pure freedom.

Comox-resident Jared Heavener, isn't quite sure how to put his finger on what that strange feeling is you get when you're soaring. But he likes it.

"When I'm up in the air and I'm moving the controls the aircraft is moving with them," said the 16-yearold, one of just 44 pilots-in-training at Regional Gliding School (Pacific). "It's a very unique feeling. You don't really get that feeling anywhere else."

Heavener has always wanted to take to the skies, and started helping out with the cadet ground crew program to get as close to the dream as possible.

"I would help push the gliders and launch them," he said. "In return I would get some flight time with one of the familiarization pilots. That was pretty fun."

Unlike most of his fellow cadets who come from as far away as Ontario, Heavener gets the added thrill of recognizing landmarks from above.

"I can see things that I'm used to, so that helps with the flying in general," he said. "Looking at the altimeter it doesn't feel like you're at that height. You feel a lot higher.

It's really quiet, which is something that I would never have expected."

Each instructor is paired with up to three cadets.

Heavener's mentor Tori Koelewyn, who hails from Campbell River originally, says she loves to pass on her love of aviation to her students.

"Once they get their license they can fly a glider anywhere in Canada," she said. "It's a once in a lifetime thing. Very few cadets get to do it."

Half the day is spent on the tarmac and then the rest is spent in classrooms learning about air law, glider capabilities, navigation and more.

"They learn the speeds of their gliders, they learn the dimensions of the aircraft that they're flying," she said. "They learn Transport Canada rules. They learn about navigation."

30th Not bad for 16-17-year-olds, especially since many of the students can't even legally drive a car.

Cpt. Tom Kolesnik, of 2 Canadian Air Division Headquarters in Winnipeg, said students are learning how to operate aircraft in a variety of environments.

"Here for example they're operating at a controlled airport," he said. "There's a tower that controls what's going on. At some airports there isn't a tower and people coordinate by radioing each other."

Earlier this year the federally supported cadet glider program seemed to be on the chopping block as NDP defence critic Jack Harris asked Defence Minister Peter MacKay about the possibility of cuts during question period.

In a statement at the time MacKay told the Echo the cadet program is "the best youth development program in Canada" and that the gliders are an important part of it and not going anywhere anytime soon.

Kolesnik agreed with the significance of the engineless flight training and said only time will tell what will happen under Rob Nicholson, the new defence minister.

"Everyone's concerned about programs across Canada when there are cutbacks," he said. "From an air force point of view we see the program continuing."

Catherine Holder, chief flying instructor at Regional Gliding School (Pacific), said taking to the skies in nearly 50 flights teaches the youth more than just how to operate aircraft.

"When they realize they can do it on their own, that's pretty cool," she said. "They achieve something that kind of seems scary at the beginning. They see they can do things that they didn't think they could do before."

Source:  http://www.canada.com

Belize: Rising Sea Levels?: Municipal Airstrip Floods In July

For the past five years or so, we’ve gotten used to going out to the Municipal Airstrip in Belize City – where high tides force the temporary closure of the runway, which is right against the sea. But that usually happens in September when the Spring Tides come in. But, call it climate change, rising sea levels, or full moon, but the tides over the weekend were unusually high – and it forced an unprecedented July closure of the airstrip. It had to be closed yesterday, today and the same is expected for tomorrow. We discussed the strange tides with the General Manager of the Belize airport Authority Kenworth Tillett:…

Kenworth Tillett - Chairman, BAA
"We are having an unusual high tide and of course when we have extra ordinary high tides - the runway gets flooded. So we had to close the runway and we're on the process to try and clean up now and hope that we get the airport open in an hour or so."

Jules Vasquez
"What is causing these phenomenally high tides?"

Kenworth Tillett
"Well the last time I thought it was Global Warming - the weather is unpredictable, I have no idea as to why; it's just high tide - higher than normal."

Jules Vasquez
"But usually it occurs later in the year - this is unusual for it to occur now."

Kenworth Tillett

"Usually it occurs late October or mid September but this year it's just come earlier."

Jules Vasquez
"We know that the municipal airstrip is being rebuilt - there's a major project. What will be done to ensure that this doesn't happen with the new airstrip?"

Kenworth Tillett

"Basically we're going to be raising the new airstrip at least 18 inches from where we have this one and we're going to be building a sea wall - a retaining wall to stop the wave action that is taking place."

The high tide – after tonight’s full is expected around ten am tomorrow – so if you’re catching a flight make it very early or around noon.

Story and Photos:  http://www.7newsbelize.com