Thursday, August 01, 2013

Emergency Landing in Sumner County, Tennessee - No Injuries

A pilot who had picked up a plane in Kokomo, Indiana and flew it to someone in another state evidently had make an emergency landing in Christiana Thursday afternoon. The man reported that as he was flying the aircraft something went wrong and the small prop plane started to leak oil. The pilot spotted a safe area to land along Miller Road near Epps Mill Road and safely put the single engine plane down. A friend of the pilot flying a second plane behind him landed at the Murfreesboro Municipal Airport and received a ride to his stranded friend in Christiana.  We are told that no injuries were sustained in the emergency landing. Miller Road is near I-24 in Rutherford County.


New Book “Modified Flight Plan”: Triple-Amputee Pilot Brian Thomas


SPRINGFIELD — Lincoln residents, Lisa Kovanda and former Springfield resident Brian Thomas released a new book, “Modified Flight Plan,” chronicling Thomas’s recovery from an illness that left him a triple amputee. The authors will be signing copies of the book at Norm’s Liquor in Springfield on Saturday, Aug. 10, from 2-4 p.m. Copies of the book will be available to purchase at the event.  

Most 16-year-old kids joyride in Daddy’s pickup. Not Brian Thomas. Instead, you found him out buzzing the football team in Daddy’s airplane. Flying was his life. Both of his parents were pilots. His older brother was in the Air Force. And Brian couldn’t imagine himself as anything but an aviator.

That is, until the bleeding disorder he had battled since he was 2 years old sidelined him. After several failed chemotherapy treatments, Brian opted for a potentially disease-curing, but risky spleen removal. After more chemotherapy, he regained his flight status, but was left with an altered immune system.

In April 2009, Brian left his job at Duncan Aviation, where he is an aviation mechanic, to go home with what he thinks is the flu. Four hours later, he was comatose and on life support. His hands, feet, and face developed gangrene. Ten days later when he woke up, he faced the prospect of becoming a quadruple amputee. Surgeons saved his left hand, but he faced a long road to recovery and regaining his life.

The book is available for purchase at in both print and Kindle versions.

A book trailer video for “Modified Flight Plan” is posted at

Brian is a member of the Nebraska Writers Guild, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Experimental Aircraft Association, (EAA), Cessna Owners Association, Pilots of America, Aircraft Maintenance Technicians Society (AMT Society), and is a Certified Peer Visitor with Amputee Empowerment Partners.

Brian is the son of Ray and Trish Thomas of Springfield. He is an graduate of Bon Homme High School of Tyndall and Lake Area Technical Institute of Watertown.

Lisa Kovanda is the current President of the Nebraska Writers Guild, Municipal Liaison for the Nebraska: Lincoln, and Nebraska: Elsewhere regions for National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, and an active member of the Nebraska Writers Workshop, Local Muse, and a charter member of the Nebraska Film Association.


Editorial: Airport progress -- San Bernardino International (KSBD), California

San Bernardino International Airport is moving closer to accommodating scheduled airline service.

There are many who contend that will never happen, and they have a good case.

However, under new General Manager A.J. Wilson, the airport is becoming self-sustaining, even without the scheduled airline service.

With construction of the General Aviation facility and Sheriff’s Aviation headquarters, there will be an increase in light plane and helicopter traffic, along with fuel sales and services.

Beyond that, the service facilities – which now include just about everything it takes to rebuild an airliner, including paint – are bringing in more income and increasing the reputation of the airport as an excellent service and repair facility.

Boeing has found a temporary home, bringing dozens of highly skilled employees to the area. Charter planes are becoming more common, stopping for fuel and other services.

The fixed base operator building is a comfortable and well-equipped hangout for pilots who are waiting for clients to conduct business in this area.

The International Arrivals building is almost complete and ready to offer Customs services for arrivals and departures to and from Mexico or other foreign destinations.

The rebuilding of Fifth and Third streets will provide improved access to the airport, and possibly more business for Highland.

Wilson says the airport can pay its own way, now that ties with Scot Spencer have been broken, and the airport is on its way to profitability.

The success of the airport is not imminent, but it is within sight. With good management and local support, it can be a real asset to the region.


Swift Aviation to Pay $50,000 to Settle EEOC National Origin and Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

PHOENIX - Swift Aviation Services, Inc., a Phoenix aeronautical services company, will pay $50,000 and furnish other relief in order to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The agency announced the decision this week.

The EEOC claimed in its suit that Swift Aviation violated federal law when it subjected former employee Adam Donmez to unlawful harassment because of his Turkish/Palestinian national origin and because he is Muslim. The alleged harassment included statements from supervisors such as, "I don't know why we don't just kill all them towelheads"; asking Donmez why he was "dressed like [he was] gonna blow up the World Trade Center"; and derogatory jokes about Arabs. The EEOC also claimed that Donmez reported the harassment to another supervisor, but Swift Aviation failed to stop the harassment. Ultimately, the harassment was so bad that Donmez was forced to resign his employment, according to the EEOC.

Harassment based on national origin or religion violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Swift Aviation Group, et al, Case No. 2:12-cv-01867-MHB in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process. The consent decree settling this case, which was entered on July 24, 2013, requires Swift Aviation to provide $50,000 in monetary relief to Donmez, including back wages and compensatory damages. The decree also permanently prohibits Swift Aviation from subjecting any employee to harassment or retaliation based on national origin or religion, and requires the company to provide training to its managers and employees and to notify the EEOC about future harassment complaints.

"Today's settlement serves as a message to employers that national origin and religious discrimination is a violation of federal law and will not be tolerated," said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office. "Employers have obligations to their employees, and when employers choose not to meet those obligations, the EEOC is prepared to pursue all appropriate means to hold them accountable."

Rayford O. Irvin, director of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office, added, "This action shows the EEOC's unwavering commitment to eradicating national origin and religious discrimination in the workplace. We are pleased that an agreement could be reached this early in the litigation."

Swift Aviation is a commercial business at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport that provides aeronautical services such as the fueling and hangaring of aircraft and aircraft maintenance. The company is incorporated in Arizona.

The EEOC's Phoenix District has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque). The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at


New view for private fliers to Tupelo Regional Airport (KTUP), Mississippi

TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) — It's a part of the Tupelo Regional Airport you may have never seen, but some describe it as the front door to the city.

Officials gathered Thursday morning for the grand reopening of the building where those who fly private planes arrive.

"When the people come, the decision makers come to our community to decide whether they want to bring their businesses here, their jobs here or to spend their money here, we now have a great presence with this new facility," said Josh Abramson, the airport's executive director.

The city spent $500,000 on improvements to Tupelo Aviation Unlimited.

Most of it was paid for with a state grant, but the city had to borrow $200,000 through a loan by the Mississippi Development Authority.


Third runway may affect Sea-Tac weather readings: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (KSEA), Washington


The weather station at Sea-Tac International Airport may be the most important station in Western Washington. 

 It's possible a new runway at the airport is affecting weather readings.

The station has been recording weather at Sea-Tac since 1945. It tells pilots information like wind speed and direction, and visibility.

For the first July in over 50 years, not a single drop of rain fell at the airport.

"I've noticed it in the last couple three months, and I will look at it during our great weather and it will be warmer than any of our other official stations by one or two degree," KING 5 Meteorologist Rich Marriott said.

The construction of a third runway -- a giant slab of temperature-holding thick concrete -- may be affecting the weather station's readings.

University of Washington atmospheric scientist Cliff Mass said Sea-Tac's station may be saying less about our weather as a whole than it used to.

"I mean what can you say? The environment has changed radically around the airport," said Mass.

Decades ago only a few stations kept track of real-time weather. Today there are thousands, which makes KING 5's Futurecast possible.

But for official records, Sea-Tac keeps the official records.

The Sea-Tac Airport said the third runway has done one thing: boost the airport's on-time record to be one of the best in the country.

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Jet refuelling enough for 3,000 cars: Shannon Airport, Ireland

A privately-owned jet was filled with the largest ever amount of aviation fuel taken on by a single aircraft at Shannon Airport during a stopover on Wednesday night.

The Boeing 747-SP (Special Performance) jet took on enough fuel to fill almost 3,000 standard-sized cars during a technical stop at the airport.

The transiting Boeing 747-SP was filled with over 46,000 US gallons (174,000 litres) surpassing a previous record set by a massive Russian-built Antonov 124 heavy lift cargo plane.

“It was the biggest fuel uplift for a single aircraft in the history of the fueling business at Shannon Airport,” the airport has confirmed. It’s also believed to have been a record for any Irish airport.

With a litre of aviation fuel costing an average of €1, the total cost of the ‘fill’ is thought to have been around €174,000.

A Shannon Airport spokesman said they were not in a position to divulge the identity of the operator and would only confirm that the aircraft was a “passenger configured jet plane operating from the US to Asia.”

According to records, however, the only Boeing 747 to visit Shannon on Wednesday was one owned by Las Vegas Sands Corporation, an American casino and resort operating company based in Nevada.

The Boeing 747-SP jet, a modified and shorter version of the popular 747 airliner, arrived in Shannon on Wednesday evening.

The weight saved by the shortened fuselage allows the jet operate over a longer range compared with standard 747 configurations.

Las Vegas Sands is one of the leading global developers of destination properties and operates 15 luxury jets, mainly for transporting company executive and VIP guests of its resorts around the world.

The jet was previously operated by the Brunei Government and later the Government of Bahrain, but began its life in 1979 with the now defunct Pan American World Airways, better known as Pan-Am.


70th anniversary of glider crash that killed Mayor William Beckera: St. Louis, Missouri

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Thursday marks the 70th anniversary of a glider crash that killed 10 people, including the mayor of St. Louis at the time, William Becker. 

On Aug. 1, 1943 Mayor Becker and nine others boarded the glider, made by Robertson Aircraft Corp., at Lambert St. Louis Airport. Approximately 5,000 people crowded the area to watch the flight.

Shortly after its release from a cargo plane, the glider's left wing broke. A moment later the right wing started to fold, and both fell off the plane. All 10 occupants plummeted 2,000 feet to the ground, killing everyone onboard.

The glider was considered the city's worst air accident at the time.

In 1973 an accident at the University of Missouri-St. Louis became the worst plane crash in St. Louis history when an Ozark Airliner crashed July 23. Thirty-six people were killed in that accident. Eight survived.

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Ferry Oral Freeman breaks down in Narrows: Ketchikan International Airport (PAKT), Alaska

The airport ferry Oral Freeman broke down in the middle of Tongass Narrows Thursday afternoon, and had to be pushed by other boats into a slip to allow passengers to disembark.

Ketchikan International Airport Manager Mike Carney said it was a loss of pressure, and it’s too soon to tell why that happened, but the mechanic who works on the ferries was on board even before the tugboats were done taking the Oral Freeman to its regular mooring slip.

Carney said the U.S. Coast Guard helped out when the vessel lost power in the channel.

“There was two small boats, two 25-footers in the vicinity, and they assisted along with the Ken Eichner (ferry),” he said. “The Ken Eichner captain made up to the Oral Freeman, and they got it in the slip and offloaded the passengers.”

The passengers disembarked on the Ketchikan side. The incident had just occurred within the last hour, and Carney was not yet sure which direction the Oral Freeman had been headed when it lost power. He says the airport’s second ferry remains in service to take passengers to and from the airport.


Manassas Jet Company Fights Labor Department Order to Pay $218K to Fired Pilot

The Department of Labor ordered Metropolitan Aviation to pay a former pilot damages and back pay following a June 17, 2010 emergency landing.

Manassas-based Metropolitan Aviation was ordered this week to pay $218,983 in damages and back pay to a former pilot who said the company forced him to fly a faulty aircraft.

The U.S. Department of Labor also ordered the private jet charter company to pay the pilot’s attorney fees and to re-hire him as an employee.

Department of Labor officials ruled Metropolitan Aviation violated the pilot's rights when he was fired for reporting an emergency landing.

The department issued the order on Monday after the pilot filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) alleging the company fired him in retaliation for filing a safety complaint against it, said Lauren Mendonsa and David Wachtel, lawyers for the pilot, who isn’t being identified.

Alan Cook, CEO of Metropolitan Air said to Patch the pilot never filed a safety complaint while he was employed and only did so after he was terminated, so the company couldn’t have retaliated against him.

The company has every intention of appealing the ruling within the 30 days allotted by the Department of Labor, Cook added.

The former pilot's compliant stems from an emergency landing in Pennsylvania during a Metropolitan Aviation flight from Teterboro, N.J to Detroit on June 17, 2010, according to the pilot’s lawyers.

“Shortly after take-off, the plane’s master warning light went off in the cockpit, accompanied by vibrations and the sound of rushing air,” the lawyers said in a written statement sent to Patch. “ The pilot then heard a loud bang, the plane shook, and he saw the plane’s rear bay overheat light flash on, which indicated a possible fire in the tail compartment.  The pilot declared an in-flight emergency and sought clearance for an emergency landing in State College, Pennsylvania.”

After the plane landed safety with its three passengers and crew, the former pilot said Metropolitan Aviation officials ordered him to fly the damaged plane back to Manassas, but he refused.

Cook said no one from the company ever ordered him to fly the plane back to Manassas.


Airline captain: God or airplane driver?

By Guwan Seeya
Usually there are two external pressures that all captains and crew are subjected to, by those peripheral decision-makers. The first is ‘pilot pushing’ which, simply put, is ‘go and don’t stop for any reason’. The other is ‘penny pinching’. That means, save money at all costs (pun intended) whatever the result. It must be remembered that once the captain sits in his/her seat to operate a flight, his/her priorities are quite different to that at the planning stage. Safety is the number one priority. Comfort of passengers is number two. Schedule is number three; and economy is the last factor. The Buck stops with the Captain.

In almost all airlines there is a ‘punctuality improvement committee’ that goes into the reason for a flight delay. It constitutes of representatives from all frontline departments, and ideally should rely on the captain, the ‘team leader, to apportion the reason for the delay, as he/she and his/her passengers see it. Unfortunately this results in a protracted ‘blame game’, and the committee members are distracted from their primary task of improving the on-time performance, as they may focus only on who should take the blame for a delay! As employees, do they know their ‘on-time’ performance as against the same day last year? The committee should really concentrate on those lines and educate all, so that all employees work toward the same goal.

Many years ago, this writer was pleasantly surprised when on the first flight he operated for a high-profile Southeast Asian carrier, he was told by his flight instructor that he could rest assured that all doors will close on time as there was a collective motivation, by all concerned, to do so. That was the prevalent ‘company culture’, which is unfortunately not usually observed or experienced in the airline we know so well, which is unable to even give a stable flight schedule to its employees.

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Editorial: County made the right call on airstrip - Albany, Oregon

Linn County commissioners made the right call this week when they approved a private airstrip for a property on Scravel Hill Road.

The land in question is zoned rural residential, a designation that allows airstrips. And that should have been the end of the story.

Neighbors, citing potential concerns about noise and pollution, opposed the airstrip. In response, the commissioners imposed a number of conditions, which they can do, but we thought that some of the conditions were silly.

The bottom line: The airstrip is allowed under the zoning. People should be allowed to use their land as they see fit if those uses are legal.

Commissioner Roger Nyquist suggested having the county Planning Department review whether airstrips truly are compatible with the rural residential zoning. That’s the proper way to address any overarching concerns, but in the absence of that broader review, the commissioners made the correct choice.


Commissioners approve conditional permit for private air strip: Albany, Oregon

The Linn County Board of Commissioners Wednesday unanimously upheld a Planning Commission decision to approve a conditional use permit for development of a private airstrip at 38491 Scravel Hill Road.

The 9.9-acre property is owned by Merle and Carmen Mitchell.

The board had presided over a two-hour public hearing about the issue on Tuesday, but awaited information from the Oregon Department of Aviation concerning the number of annual small plane crashes into houses, before reaching its decision.

The board’s approval came with several conditions, most proposed by Commissioner Will Tucker.

Among them: the permit is non-transferrable; that the couple obtain the proper county and state registrations and permits; the number of take-offs and landings is limited to no more than two per day and four total per week; airstrip is no longer than 900-feet, nor wider than 65-feet; hours of operation from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; no low flights over houses or animals used for domestic or agricultural purposes; airport restricted to Piper Super Cub or smaller aircraft; no airplane engine maintenance that requires engine run-up allowed on property; and no storage of airplane fuel on the property.

At the suggestion of chairman Roger Nyquist, the board added a condition that Mitchell keep a log book of his take-offs and landings. Mitchell also agreed to allow Nyquist to visit the property on a quarterly basis to ensure he was in compliance with the conditions.

Nyquist had originally proposed that it be part of the conditions, but commissioner John Lindsey argued that if the county required inspections of the Mitchell property, it would have to do the same for every other property in the county with conditional use permits. 

Several neighbors opposed the airstrip primarily due to concerns about noise and possible pollution of the nearby Santiam River and the wells used by the Scravel Hill Water Co-op. The water inlet for the co-op is about six-tenths of a mile south of the air strip.

Lindsey said he could not see how an airplane flying several hundred feet in the air could possibly pollute either resources.

Nyquist said the airstrip will not create any more issues than if the Mitchells decided to raise cattle or any of the other allowable uses in a rural residential zone. He added, though, that the Planning Department should look at whether personal air strips are truly compatible within that zoning category.

Former State Senator Mae Yih is among the neighbors who oppose the air strip.

“An air strip is not compatible with residential living,” Yih said. “The danger is there. There is no enforcement of the conditions, it’s only on a complaint basis.”

The board’s decision can be appealed to the Land Use Board of Appeals.


Boeing 737-800, 9Y-PBM, Flight 523: Accident occurred July 30, 2011 in Georgetown

Eight people have filed a lawsuits against Caribbean Airlines more than two years after they were injured during a flight.

The eight were injured when a Caribbean Airlines plane overshot the runway at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Guyana.

Through documents filed by their attorneys last month, the passengers are each claiming damages in excess of $1 million (Guyanese currency) for personal injuries, loss and damage suffered in the crash on July 30, 2011.

The documents show that they are accusing CAL of negligent operation of Flight BW523 and are also seeking interest, costs and any further order that the court may deem fit.

CAL has been given 10 days to respond to the claims of the eight passengers.


NTSB Identification: DCA11RA092

Accident occurred Saturday, July 30, 2011 in Georgetown, Guyana
Aircraft: BOEING 737, registration:
Injuries: 1 Serious,161 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On July 30, 2011, at 1:25 am local time (0525 UTC), a Boeing 737-800, Trinidad & Tobago registration 9Y-PBM, operated by Caribbean Airlines as flight 523, overran the runway upon landing at Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Georgetown, Guyana. Of the 156 passengers and six crew on board, there was reportedly one serious and multiple minor injuries. Weather was reported as raining at the time of the accident. Preliminary details from local authorities indicate that the airplane fractured in two pieces as a result of the overrun. The flight was a scheduled passenger flight from Piarco International Airport, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago.

The accident is being investigated by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The NTSB has designated a U.S. Accredited Representative as the state of manufacture. All inquiries should be directed to the Guyana CAA at:

Civil Aviation Authority
Fairlie House Lot 96
Duke St

Hayward Executive Airport (KHWD) plans new administration building, other improved amenities

HAYWARD -- Although hundreds of planes are based at the city's airport, which saw tens of thousands of takeoffs and landings last year, passengers and pilots are relegated to a "waiting room" consisting of two chairs squeezed into the overcrowded administration offices.

The only food available comes from a solitary outdoor vending machine, and aviation groups meet in hangars because that's the only space available.

Those scarce amenities will improve dramatically by this time next year, with the expected completion of a new administration building with a pilot lounge, a weather briefing room, a waiting area, an indoor vending machine area and a meeting room with seating for 45.

Airport manager Doug McNeeley said the new building will house more than airport administrators. About half of the 5,000-square-foot building will be public areas, with the rest occupied by staff members.

"The great thing about the new building is that it will offer things for the flying public," McNeeley said.

The $3.9 million structure, which has been several years in the planning, is being built with Hayward airport funds, said Morad Fakhrai, the city's public works director for engineering and transportation.

"The airport is an enterprise that collects rents and is run like a business. It's a full-service airport," he said. "The revenue it generates can only be spent at the airport."

Hayward's airport is a busy one, with more than 430 airplanes based there and more than 83,000 takeoffs and landings each year, according McNeeley.

The general aviation airport, which serves aircraft ranging from helicopters and smaller single-engine airplanes to larger corporate jets on two runways, was originally a World War II fighter base. "There's a lot of history here," McNeeley said. The new administration building will honor its past with a display case for airport photographs, artifacts and memorabilia.

In addition to the planned new building, a private company, Hayward Hangars, has built 18 new private hangars that opened last month. A dozen more are scheduled to go up later this year.

The demand for covered spaces for planes is high, with about 70 on the waiting list for hangars owned and operated by the city. Other area airports have a similar wait, McNeeley said.

Hayward Hangars' new box, or rectangular, spaces are larger than traditional T-shaped ones, with room for storage or a couch. The new hangars feature electric doors and Wi-Fi.

The city also rents out 207 T-hangars, and others are owned and rented out by private companies, including Hayward Hangars, Park Avion, Bud Field Aviation and APP Jetcenter.

The airport has plenty of outdoor tie-down spaces, McNeeley said. "It's not absolutely necessary for a plane to be in a hangar, but the paint will tend to fade over time," McNeely said. The price of an airplane varies widely, with $20,000 to $25,000 the starting point for the more popular used single-engine plane, he said.

"Some new ones sell for half a million dollars. To preserve your investment, some people prefer to have them in hangars," he said.

Hayward Hangar was attracted to the city's airport because it is in the busy Bay Area, where demand is high for hangar space, said Jim Altschul, the company's president. Hayward's airport also has a control tower and longer runways than some airfields, he said.

"This is one of the best general aviation airports in the San Francisco Bay Area," Altschul said. "The city of Hayward is really committed to the airport, and they're very cooperative."

Currently, the Hayward Executive Airport staff shares space with the Federal Aviation Administration in the control tower, with the city occupying the bottom two floors and the FAA the top three of the structure built in 1961.

"Both the city and FAA are out of space," McNeeley said.

Residents will be able to watch airplanes take off and land from a patio. The area will have a mounted speaker visitors can push to listen to communication between pilots and the control tower. "It will be a fun, learning thing. It will be a great place to take the kids and get people interested in the aviation world," McNeeley said.

He stressed that although the city is improving the airport, there are no plans to expand its size from the existing 543 acres. But the updated facilities will send a positive message about Hayward, he said.

"For people who fly in, the first impression of the community they get is right here," McNeeley said. "Obviously we want to put our best foot forward."


Airport issue still calls for outside probe: Sikorsky Memorial (KBDR), Bridgeport, Connecticut

Published 6:57 pm, Thursday, August 1, 2013
CT Post

The mystery surrounding the $400,000 access road built last spring through Bridgeport-owned property at Sikorsky Memorial Airport to the home of a politically connected millionaire developer may never be completely unraveled.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch's announcement Thursday that he fired airport manager John K. Ricci, whom he suspended with pay in July, was certainly a decisive step.

But holes gape still in the story of the road, which not only leads to the waterfront home of developer Manuel Moutinho, head of the well-known Mark IV Construction Co., but was also built by Moutinho's company after a farcical process of bid-waiving, an after-the-fact memo from the city attorney's office authorizing the waiver, the sudden appearance in the Purchasing Department file of the so-called bids, and so on.

To recap, Ricci, the airport manager, arranged for bids on the access road and for its construction. Normally the city's Purchasing Department would handle such matters.

Ricci's alleged usurpation of the bidding process was among the charges that the Finch administration bundled under the term "reckless and intentional misconduct" in a press release announcing the action.

Thursday, though, Ricci issued a statement that appeared on the blog "Only in Bridgeport," saying, essentially, that every step he took, including the solicitation of bids, was approved or at least noted by the Bridgeport City Attorney's Office and that his business relationship with Moutinho -- the grounds on which Finch initially suspended him from the $94,000-a-year job -- was, or should have been, well-known.

Ricci said he once recused himself at an Airport Commission meeting chaired by Finch when a Moutinho-related matter came up. According to the city attorney's office, the minutes of that meeting don't support Ricci's contention.Finch has vowed to tighten requirements for city department heads to disclose business relationships and to tighten sections of the city's Code of Ethics. And we can't lose sight of the fact that this sorry saga of the access road came up in the much larger context of a vital airport improvement project, that being the creation of a safety zone at the end of a runway. For years the city has been pushing for this and now is under the gun of a Dec. 31, 2015, deadline to finish.

Ricci, as he noted in his statement, has been a city employee for near 40 years, working under 10 of the last 11 mayors.

In June, we said this matter required investigation by an independent agency, whether it be the Bridgeport Police Department, the FBI, the Federal Aviation Administration or some other outside group.

Finch, as he promised, has taken action. But plenty of questions remain for an outside set of eyes to look at.


Ricci fired as airport manager: Sikorsky Memorial (KBDR), Bridgeport, Connecticut

Brian Lockhart and Keila Torres Ocasio
CT Post
Updated 6:15 pm, Thursday, August 1, 2013 


BRIDGEPORT -- Taxpayers are out $400,000 and Sikorsky Memorial Airport Manager John Ricci is out of his $94,000 job.

Mayor Bill Finch Thursday fired Ricci for not revealing a business relationship with developer Manuel "Manny" Moutinho, who was hired by Ricci and the city attorney's office to build a new driveway to Moutinho's waterfront mansion in Stratford.

The mayor's decision comes as the FBI and U.S. Attorney's office conducting a preliminary review of the driveway project, according to sources.

Moutinho was already in the FBI's sights. The agency is probing his botched sewer project in Trumbull.

Finch in his statement said Ricci was terminated for "reckless and intentional misconduct," but did not elaborate.

On June 5, the mayor suspended the airport manager with pay after Hearst Connecticut Newspapers asked what the administration knew of Ricci's long friendship and real estate dealings with Moutinho.

Ricci was fired following a probe by the city's Office of Labor Relations.

On Thursday, John Bohannon, an attorney for the city involved in the Ricci matter, said the whole controversy could have been easily avoided if the airport manager had recused himself.

"All that man had to do was step aside," Bohannon said.

Ricci, who did not return a request for comment Thursday, told Hearst prior to his suspension that the city administration knew about his relationship with Moutinho.

"I made that clear to the airport commission (which includes Finch and City Council President Thomas McCarthy, D-133) and city attorney's office," Ricci said.

Bohannon said Ricci told Lisa Trachtenburg, the city attorney who has been working on the airport safety project, that he had "a long personal relationship with Mr. Moutinho."

"It's very common (that) people have long personal relationships who deal with one another in the city," Bohannon said.

The problem, Bohannon said, is Ricci did not mention a long personal business relationship with Moutinho.

Bohannon said Ricci, "during a car ride," confided in Steve Ford, the airport superintendent of operations, that he should recuse himself from dealings on the driveway. But Bohannon said Ricci never mentioned it to the right people -- Trachtenburg, Ricci's supervisor, Public Facilities Manager Charles Carroll, or Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Nunn.

"You told Mr. Ford you should recuse yourself ... You're not telling people who could make a difference," Bohannon said. "It all crated the specter of impropriety in a totally unnecessary way."

Bohannon said there was no evidence Ricci received any direct financial gain.

Staff Writer Michael Mayko contributed to this report.

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Kinston Global Transpark traffic tower facing 2014 cuts


KINSTON, N.C. - They've dodged the axe but they're not off the chopping block just yet. The federal budget allowed the traffic control tower at the Kinston Global Transpark to stay open until October of next year but after that, it's all up in the air. 

 "This tower has been open since 1974. A lot of other towers in this state have been open a lot of years. You just can't shut them down overnight," said Kinston Global Transpark Air Traffic Manager John Greene.

Last January that is exactly what sequestration was forcing the Federal Aviation Administration to do. Greene was one of the first to get the news.

"We were one of the 149 federal contract towers that were due to close right away," said Greene.

If the control tower were to be shut down, that would be more than 10,000 military operations that no longer come to the global transpark.

"The fighters basically said, unless we have a dire emergency, we can't come here without a tower," said Greene.

Greene says it wouldn't just be the military affected. The 11,500ft runway is the longest civilian runway in the state. In fact, it's one of the longest on the east coast meaning 757's and f15's, to forest official's operations, to 911 operations and even Air Force One uses these runways.

All of it managed from a farseeing control tower, now seeing into an uncertain future.

Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy sent a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory calling the loss of the tower a "major detriment to continued growth and development for this entire region."

"What will it take to get it back? That's a serious concern to the economic impact and liability to the future of the global transpark here in eastern North Carolina," said Murphy.

"I think they realized they can't just up and close the control towers like this. The people want them there," said Greene.

The operations of the tower are including in the 2014 fiscal year budget which has yet to be approved. That budget ends Sept. 30th and there is currently no outlook for continued funding.

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Air National Guard fighter jets intercept silent copter south of New Orleans

Louisiana Air National Guard fighter jets scrambled from Belle Chasse Thursday to intercept a helicopter that entered U.S. airspace and approached New Orleans from the Gulf of Mexico without communicating with local authorities, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado. The AgustaWestland AW-139 copter landed without incident at a Lafourche Parish heliport in Leeville, northwest of Grand Isle, at 9:44 a.m., Maj. Beth Smith of NORAD said.

The copter belongs to Era Helicopters LLC, an air transportation company based in Lake Charles, a spokeswoman confirmed. The company had no further comment. Era Helicopters services the offshore industry and also provides sightseeing flights. According to its web site, the company has more than 170 copters in its fleet.

The AW-139 is an executive copter, able to seat up to 15 passengers. The Federal Aviation Administration is looking into Thursday's incident, FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said.

Pilots of the intercepted copter reportedly thought their communications equipment was “squawking and talking,” or emitting a signal that can be picked up on radar, Smith said. But the equipment had malfunctioned.

Two F-15 Eagle fighters, with the Louisiana’s 159th Fighter Wing, launched from the Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base and intercepted the copter, forcing it to land at Leeville, according to NORAD, the military organization charged with protecting U.S. and Canadian airspace.

Known as the “Bayou Militia,” 159th has kept armed F-15s on alert at Belle Chasse since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, under NORAD control.

Lt. Cmdr. William Lewis, a NORAD spokesman, said incidents such as Thursday’s are fairly common, in which fighters are launched to investigate aircraft because their pilots aren’t communicating. Exact numbers of such incidents were not immediately available, he said.

“We respond to all kinds of different scenarios,” Lewis said. “We can never take any for granted, because you never know what might transpire here. If someone is not on the right frequency, it might be on accident or it might be on purpose. We can’t weigh the risk of not responding as we defend the homeland. That’s the ultimate responsibility of ours, to defend the homeland. Out of an abundance of caution, we react.”

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Longmont Fire puts out minor fire at Vance Brand Airport (KLMO), Colorado

Longmont firefighters responded to a fire alarm at Hangar 17A at Vance Brand Municipal Airport Thursday afternoon. No one was in the hangar when the fire started, and firefighters quickly extinguished it after they arrived. 
(Greg Lindstrom/Times-Call)

Longmont firefighters responded to a fire alarm in Hangar 17A at Vance Brand Municipal Airport at about 2:15 this afternoon. 

No one was in the hangar when a fire started that triggered the hangar's sprinkler system. Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire shortly after they arrived.

The building is leased to Colorado Classic Aircraft, which repairs and restores vintage aircraft.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is underway. 

Check back to for more details as they become available.

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New Flight Simulator at Mercer County Airport (KBLF), Bluefield, West Virginia

WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports 

MERCER (WVVA) - A new flight simulator allows community members to get experience flying a plane at the Mercer County Airport. 

"To best utilize the airport, we need to have as many pilot as we can," said Charlie Cole, an Airport Authority Board Member.

The airport manager, Clint Ransom adds, "The airport is here for the community to use and we invite anybody to come up and check it out."

The simulator was donated by a local pilot who wishes to remain anonymous.

This device allows users to fly in and out of any airport in the United States without even leaving the ground. "It's a great tool for people who aspire to become a pilot to get practice in without actually having to get up in the airplane." says Ransom.

Users can also get experience flying in different weather conditions and in different planes.

The simulator is available to the public. To schedule a time to use it, visit the Mercer County Airport web site at

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Luscombe 8A Silvaire, N45957: Accident occurred July 31, 2013 at Ellinwood Municipal Airport (1K6), Barton County, Kansas

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: CEN13CA453
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, July 31, 2013 in Ellinwood, KS
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/05/2013
Aircraft: LUSCOMBE 8A, registration: N45957
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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 reported that he lost directional control of the airplane during the takeoff roll. The airplane encountered soft ground conditions when it reached the shoulder of the runway. The airplane went into the adjoining field and nosed over, resulting in substantial damage to the airplane’s fuselage and empennage. The pilot reported that there was no malfunction or system failure of the airplane before the accident.

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

The pilot failed to maintain directional control during takeoff.

ELLINWOOD — At 1:52 p .m. on July 31st, 2013, a small pleasure aircraft was attempting to take off from the Ellinwood airport, but didn’t have enough altitude and crashed. 

The pilot, 58 year old Michael Yagel of Raymond, was attempting to take off in a 1946  Luscombe 8A Silvaire plane.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol Crash log, he tried to abort, lost direction control and flipped off the runway into a milo field.

Yagel and passenger 66-year-old  Leonard Maberry of Ellinwood, refused transport to the hospital.

The Federal Aviation Administration was at the airport  August 1st, 2013 morning investigating the crash.

Two booked for duping man of Rs 1 lakh

MARGAO: The Margao town police have booked an offense against two persons, Jacob Fernandes from Chandor and Nassir Khan from New Delhi, for duping an aviation pilot of 1lakh by promising to obtain for him a commercial pilot license issued by the government of India.

Police sources said that Sylvester D'Silva possessed a commercial pilot license issued by the Australian government. 

The accused persons promised D'Silva that they would arrange to change his license to one issued by the Indian government and asked him to deposit a sum of Rs 1 lakh to enable them to go ahead with the task.

D'Silva deposited the money into the HDFC bank account of one of the accused persons last year, as told by one of the accused.

On realizing that he was duped, D'Silva's mother lodged a complaint with the Margao police on Wednesday.

The Margao town police have booked the accused under Sections 420 of the IPC and further investigations are under way.


Pledge For More Talks Before New Taxes - Bahamas

Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe has promised greater dialogue with the aviation and cruise ship industries before any potential tax changes are introduced.

He said the government was “sitting down, talking” with providers regarding their concerns over new fees.

The new taxes led to threats of a potential decrease in airlift and an internet petition calling on the government to repeal the fees.

Speaking at an Out Island Promotion Board event yesterday, Mr Wilchcombe said the complaints were mainly over “the process” and a “lack of warning” – not the fees.

“We are concerned as you are about some of the decisions made recently and some of the taxes that have been imposed and the lack of warning,” Mr Wilchcombe said.

“Our Bahamas has many islands, many islands that require tremendous service and the quality of service must always be there... To provide that service will cost money; and the fact is, we earn revenue through taxation. We earn revenue through causing those who come through our country to spend more.

“But the director general of tourism and the Office of the Prime Minister have been working very closely in an effort to ensure that we’re able to arrive at an understanding so that whatever happens now, whether they are going to rescind or reduce – and the future, will cause for greater dialogue before it takes place.”

Speaking to the press, Mr Wilchcombe said the recent complaints from airline owners over the fees do present a level of concern – as do talks of a potential airlift loss.

“Again, we’re having dialogue with the airlines and with the Ministry of Finance,” he said, “the Ministry of Finance is having dialogue with the airlines, as well. Concern is the word; obviously if we lose any airlift, it’s going to be a tremendous concern to us.

“We are going to speak to the Family Islands, today, and the Family Islands are doing quite good – they’re up two per cent overall, 13 per cent generally in revenue, so they’re doing pretty good – but that’s because of the marketing and also because of the airlift, so you don’t want to lose any airlift.”

The minister continued: “We don’t want to end up in any situation where we’re having unnecessary arguments with the providers, so we’re sitting down talking with them, they’re talking with us, and we’re trying to work through it all. But it’s not only them, of course the boats, the cruise ships, the small crafts.”

Mr Wilchcombe said “the understanding is there” regarding the reason for the taxes. He explained the complaints are not directed at the fees.

“They’re more concerned about the process,” he said. “They want to make sure there is a dialogue – whenever you’re going to do anything, make sure they are prepared for it.”

Earlier this month, Captain Randy Butler, head of Sky Bahamas, said the new aviation taxes were “closing the door” to tourism and Family Island economic development. He warned if the Christie administration does not revisit its aviation tax increases, airlines may stop flying to the Bahamas or make adjustments to their schedules and stops in the islands.

An internet petition is urging the government to repeal the new processing fee for general aviation or face “devastating” affects on the country’s tourism product. The petition, which was sponsored by Robert Gallo, is on the website and encourages people to sign “to stop the unfair additional fees for people visiting the Bahamas.”

Senator John Bostwick, shadow tourism minister, described the increased fees as “absolute insanity” and called on the government to “urgently” revisit its policy.

Family Island resort operators also expressed concern over the potential pull back by the private aviation sector, one believing the Bahamas could “conservatively” lose $20 million in tourism revenues if it maintains the new taxes.

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'Red baron' driving us all plane crazy!

A mystery daredevil pilot who has been practicing a perilous stunt routine near Pershore has been driving some residents to distraction.

The red and white biplane, thought to be a Pitts Special, has recently been seen practicing loop-the-loops, barrel rolls and stall turns in the sky, high above Throckmorton airfield and the surrounding area.

But some people have been finding the noisy stunts unbearable and it has prompted a flurry of letters to the Journal.

The identity of the eye-catching performer is unknown but it is thought that the person is local.

Gary Robinson, of Wyre Piddle, said the noise was disturbing his peace when he was in his garden and he had complained to Worcestershire Regulatory Services.

“Every time there’s a nice day or clear weekend, that’s when you hear it,” he said.

“It just drives you mad. It really does. Whoever is doing it I suspect lives in the area.

They are doing loop-the-loops, going up and down at very excessive speeds. It just drives you insane.”

A Fladbury resident said: “I’ve seen it many times. My daughter lives in Middle Littleton and she’s heard it too.

“It goes right up and that’s what causes the noise, the acceleration of the engine.

It’s a nuisance. These people have got no consideration about how much noise they are making.”

But Wychavon district councilor Charles Tucker, who lives in Throckmorton, said: “It makes an awful lot of noise but what you see is spectacular. He does it over the airfield and does loop-the-loops and flying upside down.”

Wyre Piddle resident Nigel Wood, who is a pilot in his spare time, said: “It’s been going for at least 18 months.

He does a full routine.

“It’s quite nice to see. I’m quite happy if I’m gardening to break off for five minutes to have a free air display.

Likewise, I would image that some people would find it intrusive.” A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said: “If it’s in an open area it has to be 500ft away from the nearest vehicle, vessel, structure or person.

“If an aircraft is taking off from outside a controlled airspace – not near any major airports or major airways – they don’t have to tell anyone where they are going.”

    Do you know the identity of the mystery daredevil? Get in touch with the Freya Leng on 01905 742383 or fl@eveshamjournal.


Cessna 402B, N3MZ: Aircraft landed gear up - Accident occurred July 31, 2013 at Essex County Airport (KCDW), Caldwell, New Jersey


Fairfield police and fire personnel rushed to the scene of this landing on Wednesday, July 31. No one was injured.
 Photo by Tim Connolly.

Pilot William O’Connor landed this Cessna 402 airplane safely without landing gear on Wednesday, July 31. 
Photo by Tim Connolly.

FAIRFIELD TWP. - A twin Cessna 402B airplane had to land at the Essex County Airport without its front landing gear engaged on Wednesday, July 31, police reported. 

The pilot, William O’Connor of Sharpsburg, Ga., and one passenger were unharmed, and the aircraft landed safely.

Police said that at about 10:22 p.m., Fairfield police were contacted by Essex County Airport operations and advised of the incident. Police and fire units were immediately dispatched to the airport.

The plane sustained damage to its undercarriage and propeller.

According to information gathered by the police O’Connor is an experienced pilot, including flying in the Vietnam War. The plane is owned by Woolpert Inc., located in Dayton, Ohio.

Woolpert is a design, geospatial and infrastructure management firm that lists airport design and watershed management among its "niche services."

The incident has been referred to the Federal Aviation Administration for investigation.

Another small plane landed without landing gear at the Essex County Airport on Wednesday, April 10.


Man charged with pointing laser at Virginia State Police plane - Richmond, VA News

CHESTERFIELD, VA  - A Chesterfield man is under investigation, accused of aiming a green laser pointer at a State Police plane.

Authorities say 20-year-old Matthew Farr created some dangerous moments for that pilot. Farr was arrested at his home this past weekend, but says he didn't realize what he was doing.

For Trooper pilot Adam Culbertson, a green laser shining into his cockpit was scary, painful, and dangerous. He was flying over Chesterfield County, practicing at night.

"It was very distracting and it causes you to involuntarily close your eyes," said Culbertson. "It causes the pain that hits you in the face."

It scares him to think about what might have happened, if his eyes had been injured.

"I was a single pilot, the only person in the airplane. Had my eyes been damaged from the laser, it's very possible I wouldn't have been possible to make it back on the ground safely."

From the sky, Culbertson was able to help State Police track down the man who is reportedly responsible.

Farr didn't want to speak on camera about what happened, but said he started pointing the laser at the plane while he was hanging out with a friend. He said he had no idea the plane was a State Trooper or that he was shining it in the Trooper's eyes. He was surprised when State Police showed up at his house.

Pointing a laser at a pilot, or a trooper for that matter, is a crime in Virginia. Green lasers can cause eye injuries and completely incapacitate pilots.

Scarier yet, the laser was reportedly being used in an area used by commercial pilots flying into Richmond. It could have been a plane carrying hundreds of passengers.

Farr is due in court in August for this crime. An FAA investigation  could mean more consequences for Farr.


Cayman health chiefs respond to air ambulance concerns

Public health bosses this week attempted to play down the significance of concerns expressed by the auditor general over the process for flying seriously ill patients overseas for medical care.

In a joint statement, the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority, government insurance company CINICO and the Ministry of Health accepted some of the findings of the auditor general’s report and promised those issues would be addressed.

They also explained some of the reasons for the issues identified by the auditor general and suggested their exposure to risk, in terms of lawsuits, was limited.

“We strive wholeheartedly to ensure that the emergency air evacuation process is managed efficiently from start to finish, and to secure the best possible outcomes for each patient. “While our system is not without flaws, which we are determined to address, its effectiveness has also been repeatedly proven,” the statement read.

Cayman Islands Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick emphasized a range of issues with the process of flying seriously ill patients overseas for medical treatment.

He said patient care could be jeopardized and the Cayman Islands government potentially exposed to lawsuits if the existing system continues. He pointed out that the air ambulance broker, named as Executive Air, had no direct contract with CINICO, no relevant trade and business license and no permit to operate as a “ground handler” at the airport.

All parties would have had the opportunity to respond to his concerns and have their comments included in his public interest report, which was filed with the Legislative Assembly in June.

The Health Services Authority and CINICO were also asked for comment when the Caymanian Compass published a story on the issue, also in June, but declined to offer anything substantive.

Addressing some of the key issues raised by the auditor general, the statement acknowledged that CINICO had no direct contract with the air ambulance broker.

They said the company was the only air ambulance broker in the Cayman Islands and charged no direct fees to CINICO. They suggested a direct contract could cause problems by limiting CINICO to the use of that particular broker, exposing them to potential price gouging.

The statement said that Executive Air has a trade and business licence to operate as an air ambulance broker. It said the three organizations were unaware that the company required any other kind of trade and business licence to provide services, including ground handling at the airport.

It said the absence of a permit as a ground handler for the company could be explained by the fact that the Civil Aviation Authority explicitly requires licenses for the provision of services related to handling commercial aircraft only.

The auditor general had also raised concerns about a $900 fee apparently being charged by the company to air ambulances for ground handling services. The statement said CINICO was not aware of this but would investigate any evidence the auditor general could provide.

The statement said both the air ambulance broker and a third party administrator, a firm called CMN, had been instructed to use the services of air ambulance companies licensed and authorized by the Cayman Islands Airports Authority. CMN has a contract requiring it to select air ambulance companies through a competitive bid, but the broker does not, the statement accepts.

“It is acknowledged, however, that as no contract exists between CINICO and the broker, the requirement for evidence and results of the bidding process is not mandatory.

“At the same time, it must be noted that the majority of emergency air evacuations produced by the broker have yielded similar value to those procured by CMN.

“Neither the broker nor CMN actually transports, handles or provides any physical care for the patient being transported.

“Instead, the true exposures exist with the service providers: HSA (medical triage, stabilization and transport to the air ambulance), then the air ambulance provider (maintenance of medical stabilization and any care administered during the transportation to the overseas receiving facility).

“As such, the local broker’s exposure to risk and, through them, any risk that might accrue to the government would essentially exist with the solicitation of an unlicensed provider. At this point we would like to emphasize that the local broker has held an exemplary record of service for well over 20 years.”

The statement adds that the ministry, CINICO and the Health Services Authority have been aware of issues for some time and are making changes to procedures for evacuations which they believe will address most of the auditor’s concerns.

In a brief statement Wednesday, the office of the auditor general stated it was pleased to see a response to the report and looked forward to a full discussion of the issues in Public Accounts Committee.


East Hills, New York, to hold aircraft noise meeting

Up in the sky in East Hills is neither a bird nor Superman.

According to village officials, the skies are filled instead with airplanes, buzzing loudly overhead and flying too low for comfort.

The village has scheduled a meeting at its Village Theater on Aug. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in which it plans to discuss the problem with residents and devise a “plan of action” against the federal government, which regulates air traffic control.

The meeting is open to the first 100 residents who register online, but Village of East Hills Mayor Michael Koblenz said in an e-mail sent to residents on July 29 that he urges all residents to sign a petition “requesting the FAA and Port Authority equitably distribute the routes so that the burden is shared fairly by all communities.”

“It’s a nuisance and we’re going to do what we can do,” Koblenz said. “I’m not saying you can stop it, I’m just saying okay, let’s have equal distribution, don’t put everything over Long Island.”

On July 16, Koblenz met with Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills), officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and village officials from across the North Shore at Old Brookville’s Village Hall to discuss the flow of air traffic on Long Island.

“I am committed to working with the FAA and local mayors to continue the communication and see that we arrive at an acceptable resolution to this quality of life issue,” Israel said in a statement.

Koblenz has urged residents in attendance at board of trustees meetings in recent months to write letters voicing their discontent with the noise to Israel and state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola), and the village created an aircraft noise abatement committee at its May 20 meeting to direct residents’ complaints.

Josh Peltz, who at the time had recently moved to the village, was appointed the committee’s chair.

“As mayor, I can’t really do anything,” Koblenz said. “I can rally the troops as much as I can rally troops, but I’ve already done that. Congressman Israel has been very helpful and he’s done all he can do.”

The village sent an e-mail to residents on July 23 signed by Koblenz in which he said 43 percent of John F. Kennedy Airport arrivals in June were rerouted to runway 22L, which has increased the amount of aircraft flying over East Hills.

Koblenz wrote the FAA had previously agreed that the runway would only be used as a last resort, and the action presents “an alarming pattern which is greatly increasing both noise and air pollution throughout our community.”

Koblenz suggested residents call the Port Authority directly to voice their dissatisfaction with the air traffic, rather than call the Town of North Hempstead’s 311 line, because large numbers of complaints would be noticed by FAA officials and action would be taken.

Efforts to reach the FAA Tuesday were unavailing.

Koblenz said he began writing letters to the FAA in 1999 about air traffic control, and while the noise has improved at times over the years, a permanent solution has not been found.

“We want our fair share of equitable landings,” Koblenz said. “I’m not saying don’t fly over us, because that’s stupid, but maybe don’t always fly over the same place.”

Koblenz last week returned from a family vacation to Europe in which he said his plane flew into John F. Kennedy Airport from over the Atlantic Ocean and did not pass over Long Island on its route.

“Maybe you do a few more of those instead of flying right over your house,” Koblenz said.


County seeks airport construction bids: Arcata (KACV), Arcata-Eureka, California

The Humboldt County board of supervisors unanimously approved two airport improvement projects during its Tuesday, July 23 meeting.

According to a county report, the first airport project is for the future construction of an airport/aircraft rescue and firefighting facility at the Arcata-Eureka Airport. The report states the project consists of the demolition of the nose hangar and the excavation of the future facility's foundation, as well as enhancements to security lights, fencing, the parking lot, storm drains and underground utilities.

Bids for the future project will be opened at 2 p.m. in the county clerk's office on Aug. 22.

The estimated cost for construction, management, administration, environmental mitigation and testing is just under $2.5 million. Around $2.2 million has been tentatively approved for funding by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to the report, and the remaining costs will be funded through Passenger Facility Charge No. 10 - an interest-bearing trust fund established by the board in November 2011.

The other project is for a “wildlife exclusion perimeter” fence at the Murray Field Airport in Eureka. Staff will install red obstruction warning lights as well as the conduits and wiring that go with them.

The estimated cost for the project is just under $609,000. By approving the agenda item, the board increased the previously $500,000 budget by $110,000 to $610,000 in order to fund construction.


Authorities Didn't Inform Amber Lowery's Family of Positively Identified Remains, Brother Speaks Out

Nearly six months after she was reported missing near Rising Star, Amber Lowery's family has been told forensic tests show the remains found are hers. Michael Lowery, Amber's husband, was arrested for her murder even before her remains were found. Now we're hearing from Amber's family, who says they have been kept in the dark about the investigation. KTAB's Victor Sotelo spoke with Amber's brother about how the case is being handled. 

Ryan Christensen, Amber's brother, explained to us one of the last things his sister said to him before her death.

"Ryan I just need to tell you, that if anything happened to me, that Mike did it." Christensen said.

The details are still fresh in his mind, just as you wold expect them to be. He knew something was wrong back in July of 2013, when her husband Michael Lowery said she left their ranch by herself.

"I was assuming she was missing, because Mike's story was, 'I don't know where she is at, we had a fight and she left." Christensen states.

Now they know for sure, it was his sister's body who was found on their ranch. Something Christensen, and his family, knew in their heart when her remains were first found.

"They found her vehicle in Rising Star, they put a few more things together," Christensen said, "and shortly after that Mike was arrested with charges of murder in the first degree."

However, the positive I.D. is something the Comanche County authorities new since last October. Christianson says after leaving several messages, he had to go to Comanchy County to find out.

"Next of kin should have been notified sooner than this, in my opinion."

Now he wants to be sure the next step is taken.

"We want this legal system to prosecute Mike, the way that he needs to be prosecuted, plain and simple."

Michael Lowery is awaiting trial in Comanche County and the family says they are expecting a summer time trial.

Update: 10:11 pm

It's the news many who followed the case expected, but it's still tough to swallow for family and friends of 34-year-old Amber Lowery. After more than five months, investigators in Comanche County released information that confirmed the remains found last year are that of Amber. A team at the Forensic Service Unit at the University of North Texas matched Amber's DNA to that taken from the remains found. No additional information was released today regarding their findings.

Lowery disappeared on July 23, 2013. One day later, her brother reported her as missing, after she failed to show up to meet him.When detectives first began their investigation into Amber's disappearance, her husband told investigators he'd last seen his wife on the night she disappeared, and he claimed he hadn't heard from her following that night. Everyone soon found out that was not the truth, when on July 30 he was arrested and charged with her murder. Authorities revealed Michael drove his wife's missing vehicle to Rising Star, where it sat abandoned until days before his arrest. Michael Lowery is being held in the Comanche County jail on a $1 million bond.

Following his arrest, Amber's siblings shined light on her relationship with her husband. They were aware of his abusive past and were concerned for the safety of their sister. And with today's news, it seems rightfully so.

It's been more than five months since human remains were found on the property surrounding the Lowery residence. Since then, a team at the forensic service unit at the University of North Texas has worked to match the remains to a name. Today, with confirmation from investigators in Comanche County, we now are sure the remains are that of Amber Lowery.

Lowery disappeared on July 23, 2013, and a day later was reported missing after failing to show up to meet her brother. Then, Amber's husband, Michael Lowery, told police he'd last seen his wife the night before, and hadn't heard from her since. On July 27,2013, investigators got a lead in the case when Amber's missing vehicle was discovered abandoned in Rising Star.

Days later on July 31, during an execution of search warrants, the human remains, we now know to be that of Amber, were found. Michael Lowery was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife. Today, he remains at the Comanche County jail on a $1 million bond.

The details surrounding Amber's case did not come as a surprise to her siblings. They were aware of her husband's abusive past, and they all say Amber shared with them concern that he might turn on her in the future. Today's news proves what both Amber and her siblings all feared.

Amber's eldest brother posted this message today on a Facebook page created last year during the search for her remains. In the post, he writes:"It is with a heavy heart that as her eldest brother I come before the community and family and friends that have waited since July of 2013 to hear or not hear the words I put before you now...She is missed every single day and we will patiently wait for justice to be served as a result of tacts that took her from her family and friends and all of those that may not have even met her but diligently took by and shared in the sorrow felt by all."

Story and Videos:

 Amber Lowery is pictured standing near Air Evac Lifeteam's Bell helicopter in June 2012.
Photo Courtesy:   STEVE NASH, Brownwoodbulletin

 Amber Lowery was photographed in the pilot's seat of an Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter in June 2012. 
By STEVE NASH,  Brownwood Bulletin

Amber Lowery

 Michael Logan Lowery

Comanche County Justice of the Peace Johnny Conine's office released the following affidavits Wednesday pertaining to the arrest of Mike Lowery: 

 • A probable cause affidavit filed by Comanche County Sheriff's investigator Ken Maltby, which states, among other numerous details, that Amber Lowery was supposed to have met with Comanche attorney Jud Woodley on July 26 to talk about a divorce.

• An affidavit for a  search warrant for the property where the Lowerys have lived, filed by Texas Ranger Danny Crawford.

• An affidavit for a search warrant for Mike Lowery's cell phone filed by Texas Ranger Corey Lain.

The affidavits mirror much of the information released earlier by Amber Lower's brother, Ryan Christensen, who gave interviews to the Bulletin for articles published in Tuesday's and Wednesday's print editions.

The affidavits indicate the following timeline:

Tuesday, July 23

Mike Lowery began driving at 3 p.m. for Sabine Pass, a neighborhood of Port Arthur, for his two-week stint as an offshore helicopter pilot.

That night, Amber and her brother, Ryan Christensen, spoke by phone. Amber told her brother the relationship between her and Mike had "blown up" and if she didn't make it to Bluff Dale the next morning, where she was to help tend to matters involving her late parents' estate, Mike "had done something to her."

At some point, Mike Lowery apparently turned around and drove back home.

Wednesday, July 24

A couple of events occurred Wednesday in Rising Star which no one in law enforcement or in the Christensen family knew about until several days later. They were to be significant events.

Around 7 a.m., a Rising Star man saw a "tannish SUV" driven by Mike Lowery pull into a parking lot outside an abandoned laundry mat on Mayben Street in Rising Star. No one knew then that there was any question at that time as to Amber Lowery's whereabouts.

Around 1 p.m., a Rising Star woman saw a man coming from the area of the laundry mat, carrying a car seat and a baby. She saw the man walking later on Highway 36 and gave him a ride, letting him out at the driveway of the Lowery family's home.

At that point, Ryan Christensen, waiting for his sister to arrive in Bluff Dale, was getting worried. She hadn't shown and Christensen couldn't contact her.

At 4:24 p.m., Christensen asked Comanche County Sheriff's officials  to check on his sister, who had not shown up as expected that morning in Bluff Dale.

Christensen said he'd tried without success to contact his sister and said Lowery had been threatening to harm Amber.

Comanche County Sheriff's Sgt. Robert Jolley went to the Lowery family's home and spoke with Mike Lowery. Jolley asked to speak with Amber. Lowery said his wife had left the night before (July 23) and he'd had no contact with her. Lowery said he was home with his sons and he had called into work, saying he couldn't make it because he couldn't leave the boys.

Jolley asked Lowery if he and his wife had been having any problems and Lowery said no, and said he had "not laid a hand on her." Lowery said his wife was suffering from postpartum depression and was depressed because of the deaths of her parents.

At some point — the affidavits don't specify when — Maltby spoke with Christensen, who said Lowery had broken Amber's nose while they were in Missouri and had broken her arm in San Antonio. Christensen said the family had tried to persuade Amber to leave Mike Lowery "for her own safety."

At 7 p.m. Jolley returned to the Lowery home, accompanied by Maltby. Maltby told Lowery sheriff's investigators were becoming concerned because no one could contact Amber. Lowery said he, too, was concerned and wanted to file a missing person report.

Maltby obtained text messaging between the couple. Lowery said he had left for work around 3 p.m. and while en route to Sabine Pass, around 4:30 p.m., he began receiving text messages from Amber. She was upset because her husband had removed photographs from a computer and she accused him of having a girlfriend. Amber also texted she had contacted a lawyer about a divorce and indicated she was shutting off the phone.

Lain, of the Texas Rangers, said he saw a text message conversation between Mike and Amber Lowery that was "emotionally charged exchange regarding threats of separation, moving shared property out of the (home) and divorce attorneys."

Lowery told Maltby he returned home at 9:30 p.m. "to stop Amber Lowery from leaving him."

Lowery said Amber "was very angry" and got into her 2011 Honda CRV at 9:45 p.m. Amber "sped out of the driveway, throwing rocks from the tires as she left," Lowery said. He also said hadn't heard from her since then and said he had made numerous calls that went to voice mail.

Saturday, July 27

Around noon, Maltby learned a citizen had seen Amber Lowery's Honda at the laundry mat and notified the Eastland County Sheriff's Office. Several people told investigators the Honda had been there since Tuesday, July 23, or Wednesday, July 24.

Monday, July 29

Maltby and Crawford learned the Rising Star woman had picked up the man who was walking with a baby and given him a ride to the Lowery family's home.

Maltby showed the woman a photo lineup but she could not identify the man as Lowery.

Crawford interviewed the man who had seen the Honda SUV pull into the laundry mat lot and identified Lowery from a photo lineup as the driver.

Also that day, Crawford spoke by phone with Mike Lowery's brother, David, an Air Force officer stationed in Florida. David Lowery said his brother "had received mental counseling for anger management problems for most of his life."

David Lowery also claimed his brother had abused Amber "both physically and verbally, threatening to make her disappear." David Lowery described their relationship as "fire and ice."

Tuesday, July 30

The woman who'd given the man a ride called Crawford and said she'd seen Mike Lowery being interviewed in a television news report, and she knew it was the same man to whom she'd given a ride.

Maltby, Crawford and Lain swore out their affidavits that day.

Maltby's affidavit also states that statements from witnesses indicate Amber Lowery "did not drive away on (July 23) … but that Michael Lowery drove the vehicle and parked it at the laundry mat in Rising Star and started walking home with his baby boy."

The affidavit also states that Maltby spoke with one of Amber Lowery's relatives. The relative said Mike Lowery had told her "he could kill Amber and bury her on the ranch and they would never find her."

Lowery was arrested late that night in a hallway at the Brown County Sheriff's Office on a murder warrant.