Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Gliders soaring over Nephi this week: Nephi Municipal Airport (U14), Utah

Dozens of pilots of glider planes, capable of flying hundreds of miles by thermal draft, aim for records and trade stories, ideas.

Nephi • To the uninitiated, the sight of what appears to be a small airplane being towed into the air about 200 feet behind another craft might seem strange.

But that will be the norm through Sunday at the first of what organizers hope will become the annual Nephi OLC/Cross Country Camp soaring event at the Nephi Airport.

Pilots of nearly 50 glider planes capable of flying hundreds of miles utilizing only thermal drafts will enjoy friendly competition, try to set records and trade stories and ideas.

Organizer Bruno Vassel IV of Draper said the gliders flying at Nephi through Sunday boast 50- to 70-foot wing spans and can hold one or two people. A powered tow plane pulls them 2,000 feet into the air using a 200-foot rope. After the glider pilot releases the rope, the machines — which sometimes have water in their wings to increase speed — can hit 150 mph and soar up to 18,000 feet in altitude.

Vassel, for example, flew 502 miles in his glider Monday after he took off from Nephi.

Many pilots, such as Fred Lasor from Minden, Nev., are attending the event to experience some of the internationally famous gliding conditions found in the Great Basin.

Lasor flew his glider from Nephi to Mt. Delano near Beaver and then over to Mt. Moriah in Nevada before returning to Juab County earlier this week. He has been on what he calls a soaring safari since May 3, trying new soaring areas in New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, California and, now, Utah.

He said gliders continually have to problem-solve — searching for the next thermal lift to keep them in the air and being aware of remote airports and rural dirt roads where they might have to make a quick landing.

"This wears me out mentally more than any other activity," he said.

Lasor said Nephi is a good airport for gliders because nearby mountains offer good lifts, there are numerous places to land and there is little powered aircraft activity at the relatively new, rural facility.

Utah’s soaring history dates back to 1927 when, according to a history written by Utah gliding pioneer Frank Kelsey, a group of 18 University of Utah students founded the U-Glider Club.

Things have come a long ways since Kelsey constructed a glider as a 15-year-old West High student.

For example, Bob Faris of Masonville, Colo., has one of two "self-launching" gliders being used this week at Nephi. A small motor with a prop in the back of the glider that resembles a small powered plane can pop out behind the pilot to reach the desired height.

Nephi Mayor Mark Jones, who took his first ride in a glider Wednesday, said the event is a great perk for the community because of the number of pilots and their families who are staying in town.

Jones called his first soaring experience "a wonderful ride. You see how you they get altitude. It was a relaxing and pleasant ride."

Although some gliders can cost up to $350,000, beginners can get into the sport by purchasing an older model craft for as low as $6,000, Vassel said. They can also join a club such as the Utah Soaring Association for about $600 to acquire training and access to gliders.

Anyone who wants to just go along for the ride can go up for between $100 to $125 out of soaring centers in Utah such as Cedar Valley, Logan, Morgan, Parowan and Heber City, usually with a club. Rides are being offered for $125 out of Nephi this week.

A free-to-the-public open house is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Nephi Airport, about three miles northwest of town.

For more information on gliding in Utah, go to

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RAW VIDEO: Military jet intercepts Cessna 172 over Temecula, California

August 7, 2013 by John Hunneman 

 So, there was apparently a little excitement in the air over Temecula on Wednesday, Aug. 7. 

One of my readers said around noon he witnessed an fighter jet circling a single engine aircraft above the southern part of Temecula.

“It was evident it was an aggressive warning to the single engine plane,” the reader emailed. “The single engine plane then followed the jet back toward French Valley Airport.”

A report on KCAL 9 news out of Los Angeles  said a small plane that had taken off from French Valley Airport today violated the restricted airspace of Marine One which was carrying President Obama from LAX to his visit to the Marines at Camp Pendleton which is, of course, not far from Temecula.

The report said fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the aircraft, as they normally do in cases like this.

The event apparently ended without incident.

If anyone took any pictures or video of this we’d love to see it and share it.

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Scare for Air India passengers after bird hits aircraft

JAIPUR: Over one hundred passengers of a Mumbai-Jaipur Air India flight had a narrow escape when the aircraft was hit by a bird seconds before landing at Terminal 2 of Jaipur airport on Wednesday.

The Air India flight 611 carrying over 100 passengers heading to Jaipur hit a bird in its funnel area at 10.30 am. The impact of hit was so huge that the plane shakes giving jerks to the passengers. The pilot, however, made a safe landing.

"We heard a loud sound followed by jerks leaving us in a jittery. The aircraft tilted on both the directions for few seconds . The sigh of relief came after the nose wheel touched the ground," a passenger told an AI grounds man.

The passengers were immediately evacuated from the plane after it lands. A team of engineers stationed at the airport rushed to the aircraft to analyze the damage but to their surprise they found nothing except for a few scratches.


Adios Allegiant: Airline’s Gary flights end Saturday

GARY — The scene Wednesday at Gary/Chicago International Airport resembled the bustle in the terminal back in February 2011 as a packed Allegiant Air MD-80 made its maiden flight to Orlando/Sanford International Airport in Florida. 

Only this time, no dignitaries were in the terminal. Passengers on this packed flight knew the clock was ticking ... not only for boarding but on Allegiant’s time in Gary.

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Pilots pass checkrides: Yuut Yaqungviat Flight School in Bethel, Alaska

By Greg Lincoln

Here is some great news coming from the Yuut Yaqungviat Flight School. Johnny Andrew, Jr. of Kwigillingok took his instrument rating checkride on June 1, 2013 and successfully passed. Johnny is going on to his commercial pilot course and hopes to be done by the end of August 2013. Johnny would like to thank AVCP, CVRF, UUI, and Calista for helping him fund his training. Johnny is photographed here with his instructor, Roberto Guerrero, CFII and FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) Mike Buckland.

Charlton Heckman from Pilot Station also successfully passed his instrument rating check ride on June 1, 2013. Charlton took lessons in Arizona to prepare for his instrument rating check ride. He completed the rest of his training here in Bethel. Charlton plans to go on to his commercial pilot training. He is pictured here with his instructor Roberto Guerrero, CFII and DPE Michael Buckland.

If you are interested in becoming a commercial pilot please contact us at 907-543-7209 or visit our website at for more information.

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Beechcraft D55 Baron, Major Aviation LLC, N7641N: Accident occurred August 03, 2013 in Conway, South Carolina

NTSB Identification: ERA13FA348 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 03, 2013 in Conway, SC
Aircraft: BEECH D55, registration: N7641N
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 August 3, 2013, about 1250 eastern daylight time, a Beech D55, N7641N, owned and operated by a private individual, was destroyed by postimpact fire/explosion when it impacted a telephone pole and then terrain near Conway, South Carolina. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. The flight departed from Conway-Horry County Airport (HYW), Conway, South Carolina, about 1200. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to witnesses, they heard the airplane approaching from the southwest and noticed it was extremely low. The airplane then executed a steep right turn, leveled its wings, and begun to rock side to side. The airplane descended and its left wing impacted a telephone pole at an estimated height of 30 feet above ground level. The airplane then spun approximately 180 degrees and impacted terrain, exploding shortly after impact.

The accident site was located at the entrance of a residential neighborhood, about 2 miles to the north of the approach end of runway 22 at HYW. The wreckage was oriented about 305 degrees magnetic. All flight control surfaces were accounted for at the scene. A piece of the left wing spar and panel were found about 20 feet from the wreckage. Flight control continuity was confirmed for the elevator and rudder to the aft cabin area, but due to the postcrash fire continuity could not be confirmed for the ailerons. The right engine’s propeller blades exhibited postcrash impact damage with minimal leading edge and rotational signature damage. Two of the left engine’s propeller blades exhibited S-curve bending and tip curling. The third propeller blade was located about 190 feet north of the wreckage and exhibited S-curve bending.

A handheld GPS receiver, two smart phones, iPad mini, and a Garmin GTN 750, were recovered from the wreckage and forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory for data download. The two engines will be retained for further examination.


This week, memorial services and funerals are being held for the three people killed in a plane crash in Conway over the weekend. 

The man who taught two of them to fly says he can't believe they're gone.

In a close-knit community of pilots, Roberto Pino says he'll never forget James Major, Jr. and Kenneth Piuma.

Pino explained that a little more than a year ago, Major, 39, came to him to learn how to fly, and very quickly, the two became good friends.

"He was very giving, very helpful. He always was there when you needed," Pino explained.

A few months later, Pino met Piuma, 42, also looking for flight instruction. He added that Piuma and Major were friends.

On Saturday, Major was flying his Beech Baron with passengers Piuma and Donnie Becker, when it crashed in Conway, killing all three.

Pino said that he found out right away that Major was on the plane and had a feeling Piuma was with him.

"I would keep calling his phone trying to find out. Hey, please give me a call, and please tell me that you are not with James. Later on that day, I came to find out that yes, he was with him."

In an instant, Pino lost two friends.

"It was devastating for me. It was hard for me to just comprehend the news. I don't know how to explain how painful that was for me to lose two friends at once," Pino explained.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but Pino thinks mechanical issues may have caused the accident. It will take about 10 days before investigators release a preliminary cause of the crash.

Pino said that every time he steps on an aircraft, he's going to remember his two friends.

A funeral was held Wednesday for Major and one will be held Thursday for Kenneth Piuma.

There will be a memorial service for Donnie Thursday at 5 p.m at St. James High School.

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Broxbourne hit by Boeing 777's engine debris, report says

Damage to Boeing 777 engine One of the Boeing 777's engine thrust reversers was damaged

Debris from a passenger plane hit a Hertfordshire village after the aircraft suffered a "serious" engine problem, a report has revealed.

A total of 256 people were on board last December when parts of the engine on the Boeing 777 broke off.

"Considerable amounts" of debris fell on Broxbourne, on 27 December 2012, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report said.

The Royal Brunei Airlines jet returned to Heathrow, where he landed safely.

AAIB officials described the incident as "serious", with the jet becoming the 15th to develop the same engine problem.

Their report stated that having also taken off from Heathrow, the Dubai-bound jet was flying at about 15,000ft (4,572m) when crew heard a "loud rumbling" noise, prompting the 56-year-old captain to turn back.

It was later found that the right-hand Rolls-Royce Trent engine's inboard thrust reverser was missing a large amount of material from its inner wall and, consequently, the exhaust nozzle had been damaged and become loosely attached.

The AAIB said a number of inspections and modifications were already in place "to try to mitigate inner wall damage and potential parts liberation."

Its report added that Boeing had advised that the USA's Federal Aviation Administration may mandate inner-wall replacement on all Rolls-Royce-powered Boeing 777s.

No passengers were hurt in the incident. The AAIB report gave no details of any damage to the property In Broxbourne or if anyone was hurt on the ground.

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Crop-spraying irks southeast Fort Collins resident: Lack of notification about a nearby helicopter spraying operation raised memories of a 2011 spraying incident

The roar of a helicopter as it sprayed insecticide on a in southeast Fort Collins field on Wednesday brought back bad memories for some residents of the nearby Fossil Creek Ranch neighborhood.

Two years ago, a fixed-wing plane buzzed neighborhood homes and sprinkled insecticide well outside the beet field, sparking a Federal Aviation Administration investigation into the matter.

This time was different, said Stephanie Feller, who shot numerous photos of the helicopter as it went about its rounds west of Ziegler Road. The craft did not fly over homes and did not appear to misapply its load.

But it was still an unsettling surprise, she said. Neighbors were not told the spraying was coming.

“I fully believe they are bound by the FAA to notify us when they are going to do this,” she said. “But we’ve lived here since 2002 and we have never received a notification.”

Had she known spraying was coming, Feller said, she would have covered a backyard koi pond to protect it. The house’s windows were closed.

The FAA is looking into the incident to determine if notification regulations for spraying in a “congested” area were followed, said Wes Bartley, an aviation safety inspector based in Denver.

Defining whether an area is congested can be difficult and is determined on a case-by-case basis, he said.

The helicopter was registered to AG Air Inc. of Johnstown. A company representative said no rules were violated during the course of the operation and the company had no obligation to notify anyone of the spraying.

The field is leased by farmer Bob Becker, who said he told the owner of the farmland, but no one else, that the spraying was expected to happen Wednesday or Thursday.

Becker said the beet field was sprayed with Roundup for weeds and a fungicide.

In 2011, dozens of nearby residents called 911 to report the spraying and the way the fixed-wing plane was flying. Becker said he received no complaints about Wednesday’s spraying by helicopter.

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Cessna 172 Forced To Land After Entering Airspace Reserved For President: Pilot departed French Valley (F70) and landed at Corona Municipal (KAJO) - California

MURRIETA ( — A single-engine plane flew into a temporary no-fly zone Wednesday, which was established while President Barack Obama’s helicopter was transitioning between Los Angeles and San Diego during his Southland visit.

The incident happened around 11:40 a.m. when the Cessna 172′s pilot took off from French Valley Airport in Murrieta, according to North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Two F-16 Falcons were sent to intercept the plane when air traffic controllers weren’t able to reach the pilot, who was “out of communication” about eight miles northwest of Lake Elsinore.

The pilot flew back out of the restricted airspace after receiving instructions from the fighter pilots.

He later landed at Corona Municipal Airport.

No other information was immediately available.


Maggots found in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (KATL) sandwich, food inspections enhanced


ATLANTA — Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport officials tell Channel 2 Action News they are enhancing the way they inspect restaurants inside the airport after a man showed Channel 2 Action News a sandwich he purchased from an airport vendor had maggots. 

The passenger told Channel 2's Amy Napier Viteri he bought a sandwich at an airport restaurant Wednesday morning. When he opened it he said he was stunned to find maggots on it.

Joel Woloshuk says he got out his phone and recorded video of the bugs crawling on his focaccia sandwich after boarding a flight to Miami for work Wednesday morning.

The video shows maggots crawling in and on the food he bought at the Café Intermezzo franchise location inside Terminal B at Hartsfield-Jackson.

"What I thought was parmesan and the parmesan began to move," Woloshuk told Viteri.

Woloshuk kept the sandwich and showed Channel 2 Action News the maggots when he got back to Atlanta Wednesday night.

He said he called the restaurant and asked to meet with a manager but no one was available that night.

"This is not wilted tomato; this isn't a moldy piece of bread. These are maggots," Woloshuk said.

Viteri reached out to Café Intermezzo and spoke with its president by phone, who said they truly regret the isolated incident occurred.

In a statement he said the problem "could not have been generated on our premises."

He said the problem started at its bread supplier with whom it has cut ties.

"All products from the vendor were removed. Not a single crumb or slice of bread from the vendor remains in the facility," the statement said.

That supplier told Viteri by phone it doesn't believe the problem started in its facility, which a Department of Agriculture inspector visited late last week.

The bakery said at this point it's still supplying other airport vendors. In a statement, the airport told Channel 2 Action News it's "awaiting results of the investigation to determine further action."

Woloshuk said a restaurant manager offered him a refund, which he declined. He said he just wants to be sure this won't happen to anyone else.

"My intent is my fellow traveler. I'm in this airport weekly and it makes me pretty angry," Woloshuk said.

 Cafe Intermezzo and airport officials told Viteri they take food safety and cleanliness very seriously.

The Department of Aviation does its own inspections of concessions monthly and an airport spokesperson told Viteri starting Friday, it's giving managers of every airport restaurant ultra violet inspection lights so they can independently inspect food shipments.

The Department of Aviation will also start touring food suppliers in the metro area and report any violations to the corresponding authority.

 The Clayton County Board of Health told Viteri Tuesday it found no citable violation at the franchise location when they inspected it Friday based on the complaint.

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Makeover for piece of Marine history

A handful of New River Marines have given a legacy aircraft a much needed facelift.

“I like taking on big projects like this and I’ll be able to enjoy it every day when I drive past it,” said Lance Cpl. Jason Lawrence, 22, of Wappingers, N.Y.  “I did it for the Marines who will visit the base and remember flying in this aircraft during Vietnam and elsewhere. I hope it means a lot to them.”

Nearly one dozen volunteer Marines from across New River came together to restore the UH-34D helicopter located within the aircraft static display by the air stations main entrance.

The project took more than 2,100 hours to complete and included refurbishment such as stripping the old paint, repairing damaged metal and applying a fresh coat of paint.

Now in its olive drab glory, the aircraft sits perched among other aircraft for Marines, their families and guests to see.

“I was here from the beginning to the end,” said Lawrence, a painter and welder with MALS-29, about the five-week project. “I’m proud of the work I’ve done. And it’s nice to hear other Marines acknowledge our hard work.”

For Lawrence, the hardest part of the restoration was being out in the sun every day for eight hours working on the helicopter. Everyone wanted to be a part of the project, which helped with motivation, he said.

"It was hard seeing such a beautiful aircraft stripped down and in such bad condition but having restored it we can all stand back and smile,” he said.

Gunnery Sgt. Wesley Hutchinson couldn’t be more proud of the Marines work ethic, he said.

“It was mentioned that this aircraft was due for a restoration because it had some leakage on it and severe corrosion,” said Hutchinson , 38, of Camden , Ala. “Being with the airframes division of MALS-29, ... this is what we specialize in. Who better to restore a Marine aircraft than the Marines themselves?”

Hutchinson felt since the aircraft, which had not been worked on in five to six years, was in such a high visibility area, it deserved to be restored — for current Marines and the Marines who built the Corps’ legacy, he said.

“I asked for volunteers and we got a team together,” Hutchinson said. “We got Marines from many different military occupational specialties who wanted to learn and do their part. It was really great to watch this whole thing come together.”

Some of the discontinued items were custom fabricated, and the Marines brought tools and supplies from their work stations to the front gate every morning. They applied a clear coat of paint to help refract the light that will hopefully make the restoration last longer, said Hutchinson .

“I couldn’t have asked for a better group of Marines,” Hutchinson said. “They absolutely put 100-percent heart and love for the Marine Corps, for the history of this aircraft and the love of those that came before us … this is truly what Semper Fi stands for.”

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Speedflying fatality: 'He was pushing himself'

Speedwing flyer Sean Kerridge may have felt self-induced pressure when he took off for his last flight from the Treble Cone access road last year, moments before fatally crashing in to the hill below.

The 40-year-old electrical inspector died of a thoracic aorta rupture on February 17, 2012 after taking off from the Pub Corner launch site in rising westerly winds.

At the inquest before Otago-Southland Coroner David Crerar in Queenstown yesterday, Malcolm Haskins, a friend and commercial tandem paraglider with Speedwing flying experience, said he was"totally gobsmacked'' at the flight route Mr Kerridge took that day.

Mr Haskins said part of the human psyche was the decisions people made under pressure - known as"scarcity''.

"On the day Sean was flying, he only had that one chance to make the flight. He was trying to fly a line he'd been practicing [for several days prior].

"The weather was coming in; his girlfriend had just arrived; the weather was going to be bad for the next five days.

I have no idea why Sean chose to fly that line ... I'm assuming he was affected by the fact he wasn't going to get to fly for [several days].

"He was pushing himself.''

That morning Mr Kerridge was one of several people, primarily paragliders, who drove to the launch site about three-quarters of the way up the Treble Cone access road.

The weather was fine at the time, but westerlies were forecast to build to 30kmh in the morning and 50kmh by evening and there was a narrow window of opportunity to take off.

Mr Haskins launched about 11.15am, flew for about 30 minutes and landed before being notified of the crashed glider.

Meanwhile, architect Kathryn West, of Wanaka, was driving down the Treble Cone access road when she was contacted by radio about the incident.

After locating Mr Kerridge's glider on the slope and seeing no movement, she called 111 and started to make her way to him, while paraglider Bryan Moore also flew in to land as close as he could. Mr Haskins arrived moments later.

Mr Kerridge showed no signs of life and the group decided to start CPR, but they had trouble removing Mr Kerridge's full-faced helmet to give breaths.

CPR was continued for about 40 minutes before St John staff and a doctor arrived at the scene and pronounced him dead.

Mr Haskins said while Mr Kerridge had been flying the same line for several days before the incident, he had previously experienced "very different weather conditions''.

"On this particular day, and given the conditions, I would not have personally chosen to fly that particular line, or as close to terrain, as Sean was doing.''

Civil Aviation Authority safety investigator Justin Vincent, of Wellington, said Mr Kerridge had foot-launched and was observed travelling south across the slope "fast and low'' before impact.

The CAA determined weather was likely a contributing factor, with the Speedwing entering an area of descending air at low level with little opportunity for the pilot to recover.

He had been flying close to the ground, tracking downhill, rather than ridge soaring.

"Due to the low level, there was little available height to counteract [the descending air], resulting in a high-speed impact with the ground and fatal injuries to the pilot.''

There were no defects found on the Speedwing. However, Mr Vincent noted Mr Kerridge was operating the Speedwing outside the manufacturer's recommendations - having foot-launched (speed flying) rather than on skis (speed riding).

Mr Crerar said despite the breach of regulatory requirements, it was not a contributing factor to his death.

Mr Kerridge had completed a Paraglider Certificate 2, as was required, but it could not be determined how many flight hours he had completed.

While the Speedwing was not a certified product under Civil Aviation Rules, it met the definition of an aircraft and held a current warrant of fitness.

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Staten Island teen is an airhead in the truest sense

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - ANNADALE - Before Matthew Sclafani Jr. knew a thing about navigating Staten Island's roads, he was comfortable maneuvering in the sky.

The 17-year-old Annadale resident had flown a small plane by himself in October before acquiring his own driver's license a week later.

And now, the Monsignor Farrell High School graduate is in the process of becoming a commercial airline pilot. Sclafani Jr. will attend Farmingdale State College later this month, where he plans to study in the Long Island-based school's aeronautical science program.

He's been learning to fly since last March, and just two weeks ago, following countless hours of training and studying, became a certified pilot. The process wasn't simple, said Sclafani's father, Matthew Sr.

The younger Sclafani flew solo from Princeton Airport in New Jersey via a Cessna 152, a small two-seat plane, to meet a Federal Aviation Administration flight examiner for an oral exam and check ride.

Upon arriving in Old Bridge Airport, also New Jersey, he aced the oral exam, and then spent two hours in the air with the FAA official to prove his skills. The process included four successful, smooth take-offs and landings, among other difficult tasks, said Sclafani.

"After the final perfect landing," his father said, "The examiner shook his hand and congratulated him. He's now a certified pilot."

Sclafani Jr. became interested in air travel during a trip to the family's summer home in Westhampton, L.I., which was near Francis S. Gabreski Airport.

"I used to beg my dad to take me there," he said, noting planes often flew over the house. Sclafani Jr. said he loved walking around the airport.

When he was in the fifth-grade, the Annadale teen started exploring a flight simulator.

At one point, Sclafani Jr. nearly invested $1,500 to go to a baseball camp, but his father convinced him to pursue his passion for flying.

"He said, 'That's it. I'm taking lessons. And I'm going to be a pilot,' " his father recalled.

A family friend who took the Sclafanis on his own plane wound up being the teen's flight instructor.

The young pilot explained that the process of operating an airplane in comparison to a car is extremely different and requires much more preparation that could take between 15 and 30 minutes. It involves checking the weather and scratching off other checklist items, including walking the plane.

When in the air, Sclafani Jr. said sometimes stressful situations arise, such as low visibility or nearby aircraft, but on peaceful, clear days, "You say to yourself, 'Wow, I'm 2,500 feet in the air and I'm by myself. I'm seeing everything from above, and it's amazing.' "

On Friday, both father and son will occupy the cockpit together for the first time, with Sclafani Jr. manning the controls, of course.

"We're going up," said Sclafani Sr. "Him and I."

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Fire activity at tanker base increases

MOSES LAKE - It's quiet at the Moses Lake Air Tanker Base, as planes sit on the tarmac and pilots get some much-needed rest.

But things can change at a moment's notice - and they often do, base manager Robert Meade said recently.

When calls for air support come in to the Moses Lake base, crews are able to fill up planes with thousands of gallons of fire retardant and send pilots on their way within minutes, he said.

"We never really know what's going to happen on a certain day, it all depends on the fire activity," Meade said.

The Colockum Tarps fire kept crews at the base busy for most of last week.

"The other day, we flew five loads in the DC-10," he said. "It was the only tanker we had at the time, but we took 50,000 plus gallons (of retardant) to the fire that day."

A DC-10 Air Tanker, which can hold about 11,000 gallons of fire retardant, currently sits at the Moses Lake base.

There are also two Lockheed P2V tankers, which can each hold about 2,082 gallons of retardant, and a smaller "lead plane" at the base. The P2V tankers and the lead plane belong to Montana-based Neptune Aviation, Meade said.

The Moses Lake base is what's considered a full-service tanker base, he said. Each fire season, both privately-owned planes and federally-funded tankers fly in and out of the base. Meade said pilots help fight fires in the immediate area as well as throughout the Northwest.

"When we have tankers we might send them to Oregon, Idaho or Montana, but they might not necessarily come back to this base," he said. "Other planes might take their place, or maybe they go lay retardant and come right back."

Meade said it all depends on where the need is greatest.

"Everything is need driven," he said.

Meade said about 180,000 gallons of retardant have gone out on planes so far this season. On average, the base uses anywhere from 300-350,000 gallons a year.

Last year, the base used more than half a million gallons of retardant, Meade said. Most of that retardant was sent out during September's fire spurt, he said.

"The fire activity last year wasn't as intense until September," Meade said. "Within a 10-day period we went through 350,000 gallons."

In 2011, the base used only 32,00 gallons of fire retardant.

"That's because we didn't have a bad fire season," Meade said.

He said the air tankers that fly in and out of the Moses Lake base play just a small part in fighting area fires. Fires are also put out by ground crews that work around the clock, Meade said.

"We're just one tool in the toolbox," he said.

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Air Tractor Celebrates 3,000th Plane


Air Tractor was founded by Leland Snow in Olney as a small, family-owned company in 1972, with roots going back to 1958 with Snow's first factory.

And now, company sales have reached a landmark that propelled Air Tractor officials to host a big celebration.

This bright Yellow plane is a symbol of pride for the Olney company, Air Tractor and for Leland Snow's daughter.

"This airplane's going to  Brazil to a customer that's bought several of our planes before for their agricultural spraying," says Kristin Edwards, Air Tractor's vice president of sales.

But this isn't just any plane, it's Air Tractor's 3,000th plane.

"When we looked at our schedule and realized we have a milestone of 3000 airplanes we thought we needed to mark this occasion and thank the people who have been involved," Edwards says.

And this celebration helped Air Tractor do just that.

Employees and community members attended along with company and state officials.

"Having been in business all my life, you realize that this kind of stuff doesn't happen by accident.  It's inspiration.  A lot of sweat equity.  A lot of hard work and a lot of great jobs in this community," says Senator Craig Estes.

The company employs 275 people who create aircraft that have literally taken off across the world.

The popularity of these planes has caused Air Tractor's sales to soar, which officials say is a huge accomplishment for a small company.

"We are now the leading manufacturer of agricultural planes.  When my father first started the business there were other models and other companies that built these planes but Air Tractor has managed to survive and become the leader," Edwards say.

And it all stated 41 years ago with Leland Snow.

Although the aviation pioneer died two years ago his daughter believes he was still part of this celebration.

"I know he's looking down on us now and smiling and very excited about the success we've had these last few years," Edwards says.

Air Tractor's 3,000th plane is expected to take off for Brazil to its new owners in the next few weeks.

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Pensacola Chamber wants to hear from aviation industry insiders

PENSACOLA, Fla. – Press Release – In an effort to establish a workforce case for the aviation/aerospace industry, the Greater Pensacola Chamber has launched a campaign to attract, recruit and grow existing companies within the region. 

Ranking second among states for aviation and aerospace establishments, Florida is home to more than 2,000 companies that continue to provide industry infrastructure for established and emerging business opportunities. 

According to the Florida Aviation Aerospace Alliance, the industry generates more than $15 billion annually for the state and employs more than 228,000 through direct and indirect jobs. 

“We want Northwest Florida to be nationally competitive in the aviation/aerospace industry,” said Greater Pensacola Chamber President and CEO Jim Hizer, CCE, CEcD. “Florida is a premier location for aviation technologies, and the Chamber is aggressively seeking to grow our region’s international presence with the goal of creating and maintaining high-wage jobs for our communities.” 

In an effort to gauge interest in these jobs, the Chamber has created a survey that is currently open to anyone who has previous experience in, or is interested in working in, the aviation/aerospace industry. 

Interested participants can take the quick, 8-question survey by calling (850) 424-1141 or online by visiting

Online participants can enter for a chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card.

The winner will be announced on Friday, Aug. 9.

For more information, contact Jennifer McFarren, Director of Workforce Development for the Greater Pensacola Chamber, at (850) 438-4081, ext. 238, or 


Coast Guard warns against sending fake emergency flares


MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- The U.S. Coast Guard is reminding boaters to only shoot flares in case of emergencies. 
Coast Guard officials said, they are sending out the advice now because of a rash of recent non-emergency flare-ups that cost them time and money. "Flares are an emergency signal for someone in distress, and as a result of all of these false alarms, it's a tremendous strain on our resources," said U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson Gabe Soma.

Aircraft and watercraft are deployed to save lives, but on multiple occasions, officials said, they have responded to false alarms. "They are not a toy," said Soma. "It's very dangerous to send an aircraft off shore in the middle of the night to search for a flare that someone shot off for fun."

Since last Friday, the Coast Guard has reported five cases involving flares, one of which included a C-130 aircraft and a small boat search that cost taxpayers $43,000. "It puts a tremendous strain on the service, on the taxpayers' dollars, and there is really no place for false alarms," said Soma.

So, next time think before shooting a flare. Anyone who knowingly sends a false distress message or causes the Coast Guard to attempt to save lives and property when no help is needed could be found of a class D felony.

It costs the Coast Guard between $11,000 and $18,000 an hour to send an aircraft out on a distress call. And guess who pays for it? You do. The taxpayer. So, if you shoot them, make them count.

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Myrtle Beach man working to preserve aviation history

MYRTLE BEACH — This week, Dave Cobb has been one of the chosen few.

The manager of Myrtle Beach Detailing, Cobb is one of 32 detailers nationwide chosen to put a fine-toothed comb to the original Air Force One and the first airplane used to help acclimate astronauts to zero gravity conditions. He was chosen from more than 150 detailers who trained with Renny Doyle, a master detailing connoisseur who owns Attention to Details Ltd., a company that teaches beginners and professionals about detailing cars and airplanes.

Every two or three years, Doyle chooses his best students to work on airplanes at Seattle’s Museum of Flight.

“I have carefully selected my team because there is no room for mistakes in detailing this $100 million airplane,” Doyle said in a news release. “I need people who will accept nothing short of perfection and Dave is one of those people.”

The Air Force One Cobb is working on this week was used by Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

It now sits on the museum’s tarmac, exposed to Seattle’s infamously-wet weather. It hasn’t been cleaned in more than two years.

The museum pays nothing for the work, which is supported by the individual detailers and corporate sponsors.

Cobb has been in the detailing business for only a couple of years. For the 12 years before that, he was a salesman at Beach Ford, but took the advantage to change careers when the opportunity presented itself.

“It’s a big job,” he said of the airplane detailing he is doing in Seattle. “It’s a tiring job. But it’s also a rewarding job.”

Cobb, 38 and married with a 5-year-old daughter, said Tuesday he’d been working on the wings of Air Force One and after that, would move to detailing the aluminium in the engines.

Then comes the NASA aircraft.

Detailing work is just what the name says, making sure every inch of the airplane looks like new at the end of the job.

He said he feels like the work in Seattle helps to preserve a part of U.S. aviation history.

Cobb said after he was hired to manage Myrtle Beach Detailing, he trained for about three months to learn the fine points of detailing.

There are a lot of details, he said, that go into detailing.

Cobb said detailing cars in Myrtle Beach is a rewarding job with instant feedback.

“There’s a great sense of accomplishment in taking something that’s really dirty and making it like new,” he said.


Flyer loses cool over ‘missing’ passport, hits airline officials

MUMBAI: A flyer was detained by security officials after he allegedly manhandled two Jet Airways staffers on Monday morning following an altercation over his "missing" passport. The passenger reportedly slapped one of the staffers and pushed the other one in the arrival hall at Mumbai airport, officials at the airport said.

The incident took place around 10am after the 23-year-old passenger landed on a Jet Airways flight from Riyadh. He reached the arrival hall and picked up his luggage from the conveyor belt only to realize that his passport was not with him. He enquired with two airline staffers, who had earlier taken his passport for checking.

"He insisted that they hadn't returned the passport. The two staffers told him that his passport was given back to him right after they checked it, but he persisted," said an airport official.

The matter took a turn for worse when the passenger lost his cool and allegedly slapped one of the staffers, said officials. "When the other official tried to intervene, he pushed him," said an airport source.

The airline immediately alerted the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). The security officials reached the spot and detained the passenger. On checking, the CISF reportedly found the passport in one of the pockets in the passenger's bag. He was later handed over to the local police. Officials said the passenger was supposed to take another flight to Kolkata.

Local police said no case had been registered. Jet Airways did not respond to the query. Airport officials said many cases of manhandling by passengers have been reported. "Last month, a passenger was arrested for assaulting an airline official," said an official at the international airport. "Most incidents, however, happen during major flight delays," he added.


Former business operator files slander suit against retired Hernando airport manager

BROOKSVILLE — Robert Rey, the former manager at the Brooksville Air Center and a frequent critic of airport operations, has filed a lawsuit alleging that Don Silvernell, the retired manager of Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport, slandered him.

Rey and his airplane management business, Jet Concepts Inc., claim that in December 2012, Silvernell told Hernando resident Paul Douglas that Rey was "a crook, that he doesn't pay his bills and that he is financially incompetent,'' according to the lawsuit. Douglas at the time was considering leasing the defunct air center property.

In addition, Rey alleges that Silvernell interfered with a business relationship by telling representatives of the Jet ICU air ambulance company that "they should stop doing business with Rey and Jet Concepts because Rey and Jet Concepts were not authorized to operate at the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport,'' according to the complaint.

In addition, Silvernell told others that their businesses would not be supported by the management and staff of the airport if they conducted business with Rey or his company, the suit alleges.

Because of Silvernell's interference, Rey alleges that Jet ICU, where he currently houses his clients' aircraft, has been reluctant to participate in joint projects, and other businesses and individuals have been reluctant to maintain business relationships with him.

Rey states that his business has been damaged by Silvernell, and he is seeking monetary damages, interest, costs and other relief from the court.

Silvernell, who moved to Idaho after his retirement in July, said on Wednesday that he was not aware that a lawsuit had been filed against him and could not comment.

Rey ran the Brooksville Air Center as a fixed-base operator until financial issues drove the business into foreclosure last year. The county had leased the land to Brooksville Air Center; in April, when the buildings and fuel farm on the site came up for sale, the county bought the property.

The county recently leased the site to Corporate Jet Solutions, which plans to open its multifaceted aviation business later this month and have a formal opening Sept. 28.


Trial of Brazil defendants in plane crash begins: Airbus A320-233, PTMBK, TAM Linhas Aéreas, Accident occurred July 17, 2007 in Sao Paulo

SAO PAULO (AP) Three people charged with responsibility for the 2007 crash of a jetliner that killed 199 people went on trial Wednesday in Brazil's biggest city.

The Federal Judiciary System said in a statement that the first two days of the trial will focus on testimony given by prosecution witnesses. Defense witnesses will testify in November and December.

A TAM Airbus A320 landed in driving rain at Sao Paulo's Congonhas airport on July 17, 2007, sped down the runway and crashed into a gas station and air cargo building at 110 mph (175 kph).

All 187 people aboard and 12 people on the ground died.

In 2011, prosecutors charged Denise Abreu, former director of Brazil's National Civil Aviation Agency, Alberto Fajerman, TAM Airlines former vice president of operations, and Marco Aurelio dos Santos de Miranda e Castro, the airline's former safety director, with endangering air transportation safety.

The prosecutor's office said the three were to blame for allowing use of a runway that was unsafe due to a faulty drainage system.

Twenty days before the accident, the recently repaved runway was authorized for use despite lacking the grooves that allow water to drain off the runway and provide increased grip.

Prosecutors allege Abreu acted imprudently by authorizing the use of the grooveless runway. The two TAM directors were blamed for allowing the company's aircraft to land in Congonhas despite knowing of the runway's lack of grooves.

The statement also said that one of the plane's thrust reversers, which help to slow aircraft upon landing, was not functional.


NTSB Identification: DCA07RA059

Accident occurred Tuesday, July 17, 2007 in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Aircraft: Airbus Industrie A320-233, registration:
Injuries: 199 Fatal.

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

On July 17, 2007, at 21:54 UTC, an Airbus A320-233, Brazilian registration PTMBK, serial number 789, operated by TAM Linhas Aéreas overran the end of runway 35 at the Sao Paulo Congonhas airport upon landing. The airplane was on a scheduled domestic flight from Porto Alegre, Brazil. The airplane departed the runway to the left side near the departure end and crossed over a road prior to impacting a cargo depot and gas station. The end of the runway is on elevated terrain approximately 80 meters above the surface of the road. The 6 crew members, 162 passengers, and 18 persons on the ground suffered fatal injuries. The aircraft was destroyed by impact forces and fire.

This accident is being investigated by the Brazilian Aeronautical Accident Prevention and Investigation Center (CENIPA). The NTSB is assisting as state of manufacture of the IAE V2527 engines, and is providing flight data and cockpit voice recorder readouts at the request of the CENIPA Investigator in Charge.

Cape Air numbers up: Ogdensburg International Airport (KOGS), New York

OGDENSBURG — Cape Air’s passenger count is on a record-setting rise at Ogdensburg International Airport.

The airline, based in Hyannis, Mass., announced that in July it carried 1,047 passengers — the highest number carried in a single month since the company began services here in September 2008.

“Yes, this is great news,” said Jacqueline Donohoo, the airline’s Northeast marketing manager. “Our goal as an air carrier is to keep those numbers growing.”

The airport’s owner agreed.

“The Ogdensburg International Airport is once again proving to be a cost-effective alternative to higher-cost Canadian airports,” Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority Executive Director Wade A. Davis said. “Free parking, low fares and short lines, coupled with Cape Air’s superior customer service, continue to break passenger records at Ogdensburg International Airport.”

Cape Air’s newly opened ticket office at 318 Ford St. could be a catalyst for more bookings, Ms. Donohoo said.

“Our ticket office has the potential to add to our ridership expansion,” she said Tuesday. “We are offering booking convenience and one-on-one assistance, which is an added value to our service. Also, our prime location downtown will remind customers that we are here.”

Cape Air provides three daily flights from Ogdensburg to Albany and, from there, through to Boston and beyond. Canadian travelers, airline officials said, made up 19 percent of the originating traffic.

The average fare under Cape Air is $53.56 each way.

“It is great to see ridership at Ogdensburg breaking records,” said Cape Air President Linda Markham in a prepared statement. “The airline service at Ogdensburg provides affordable access to the U.S. air transportation system for both the North Country and Canadians.”

The North Country Airport Alliance and Cape Air launched a $20,000 advertising campaign last month that markets the Ogdensburg, Massena and Saranac Lake airports. The campaign focuses on local communities and the Canadian population within close proximity to the border.

Cape Air also has distribution agreements with a host of online travel agencies, including Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity, enhancing the exposure for the cities served. In addition to Cape Air’s ticketing and baggage agreements with most major carriers, a unique interline partnership with JetBlue Airways allows Cape Air cities to appear on, increasing their visibility.

“With Cape Air’s interline capability, which puts Ogdensburg on, we are seeing increased ridership by U.S. and Canadian passengers,” Ms. Markham said. “Word is getting out about the low-fare options at Ogdensburg.”


Central Florida aviation industry shows signs of growth, promising careers

Seminole County resident Chris Moore can sum up his educational experience with one word - "expensive."

He drives 55 miles one way to classes at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona, and the $20 in gas he spends round trip is just an investment that Moore hopes to get one heck of a return on.

Having already obtained a business degree from the University of Central Florida, Moore just wasn't content with the retail job he landed post graduation. Working as a manager, he realized that a glass ceiling was in his future and if he wanted to get past it, he'd have to get his hands dirty. Dirty, perhaps, while working on airplanes.

Now, Moore studies aviation maintenance science at ERAU with hopes to venture into the world of sky travel once he's finished with his airframe and powerplant certification - a tool he must have to land a job in his field.

Moore realized what industry experts and economists alike are suggesting - the aviation industry is growing, and with it brings the promise of potential jobs and steady paychecks. The $20 a day may seem pricey now, but if Moore lands his dream job with Boeing, it will be a small price to pay for a promising career.

According to a report from the Federal Aviation Administration, commercial aviation is responsible for 4.9 to 5.2 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, bringing with it about $1.3 trillion and around 10.5 million jobs.

Though this may be a nationwide trend, places such as the Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) are experiencing activity that falls suit.

"We've seen a lot of growth this year, especially compared to other airports our size," said Larry Dale, president and CEO of SFB.

Locally, SFB has seen continued growth with the addition of a Boeing 787 on its flight line from Thomson Airways and a brand-new runway extension, which opened on March 31 of this year, Dale said. Meantime, the airport is upgrading its baggage claims and reconstructing its southwest ramp, among other projects.

Now the third busiest airport in Florida - just trailing Orlando International and Miami International - SFB sees about 2 million passengers a year for domestic and international flights, a number Dale says he thinks could eventually increase to about 5 million to 7 million in the coming years. Nationally, SFB is the 23rd busiest airport in terms of takeoffs and landings, he said.

"We've grown steadily over the years, both in our capital improvements and our passenger counts," Dale said. "If we didn't have recessions with upticks and downticks in the economy and political turnover, you can say it's been pretty steady growth. But if you look at our graphs from 1996 when we first started entering into the commercial world, it's been pretty steady growth."

So what does that mean for hopeful aviation students? Dale says it means plenty of opportunities, especially in Florida.

"I think there is [a promising future in aviation] because there's so many people in my generation that are going to be forced to retire in the aviation business, especially pilots. There's going to be a tremendous pilot shortage and they're not getting many of them out of the military like they were in the '60s and '70s," he said. "You'll need more maintenance, you'll need more parts suppliers, you'll need more avionics and you'll need more flight crews and service crews from ground to ticketing [and] reservations. It's a trickle-down effect."

This is a need that Moore is hoping to bank on in the coming years.

Richard Beckwith, a professor at ERAU, is one of Moore's instructors who teaches a variety of maintenance courses at the school. He said Moore will need to complete 16 courses to qualify to work on aircrafts. But the course load doesn't just stop there. To get the A&P certification, students must pass ERAU classes, separate ERAU A&P examinations and an exam administered by the FAA.

However, the trouble is worth it in the end, as Beckwith noted an abundance of opportunity. Having worked with companies such as NASA and Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Beckwith had some insight into the field.

"I've never had to look very far for a job. Once people realize you're educated in aviation from Embry-Riddle, doors kind of open for you," said Beckwith, who has been in the industry since 1984. "I see students who have graduated and, constantly, most of them that I've talked with, get jobs."

Beckwith's take on the industry doesn't seem to be too far off, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics from May 2012. Florida ranks in the top 5 states for employment in several aviation occupations - such as pilots, co-pilots, aircraft mechanics and air traffic controllers. The latest data show that Florida employs about 4,810 pilots, 3,090 commercial pilots, 1,810 air traffic controllers and 9,530 aircraft mechanics and service technicians.

But what's more is that Moore's money spent may be merited with average salaries around $51,580 a year in Florida. For pilots, BLS reported an average salary of $128,870 in Florida, and for air traffic controllers, an average of $118,500 a year.

Meantime, Beckwith says aviation in Central Florida is on the rise, and perhaps, the sky is the only limit - unless, of course, you throw the Kennedy Space Center into the mix.

"What I have noticed is more and more airplanes in this area all the time," he said. "We have busy skies over us."

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Gustafson’s passion is flying in the skies

Photo by Ashlie Walter 
Dana Gustafson Dana Gustafson and her dad, Karl, get ready for takeoff at Fairmont Municipal Airport.

Since she was young, Dana Gustafson always knew she wanted to be up in the sky with the clouds flying in an airplane. Her father Karl, a commercial pilot for United Airlines, was the main inspiration for her passion.

“When I was younger, we would always fly to places, and my main goal is to become a commercial pilot,” Gustafson said.

She said the thrill of flying in a plane is what interests her.

While flying would scare most people, Gustafson has learned to put aside that fear and just enjoy it. For her first flight, when she was 17 years old, she said she was excited and learned to keep an open mind.

“I just like looking outside. The first time I was a little bit nervous, but I got past it,” she said.

Currently, Gustafson, 19, has her private pilot’s license, which means she can fly alone. She also is finishing her Instrument Flight Rules exam. In that exam, she has to fly a plane only by looking at her instruments. She hopes to work her way up to a license to pilot a commercial plane.

After the instrument exam, Gustafson said she will get her twin-engine ratings and then become an instructor to build enough time and experience before being able to fly a commercial plane. Commercial pilots are required to have 1,500 hours of flying time.

During her practice on a family friend’s plane, she said they have traveled far on some occasions. Gustafson and her dad took a long trip to Illinois to visit family. The two also have flown to Houston.

The farthest Gustafson has flown by herself was to Tennessee.

In her spare time, she is a member of the Civil Air Patrol, where she goes on missions to find lost planes, learn leadership skills and teach kids about aerospace.

Gerald Wedemeyer is the squadron commander of the Clarksburg Composite Squadron where Gustafson has been a cadet for several years.

He said Gustafson earned the Mitchell Award, which is quite a milestone in the Civil Air Patrol. The award moves her from cadet to cadet officer.

On their missions, Wedemeyer described their winter practice search in Elkins. They went there to learn cold weather survival, including how to camp out, stay warm and dress properly.

“Most of the time, we’re looking for practice targets, training in radio communications and training with another group of searchers,” Wedemeyer said. “Everybody has to go through it so that if something comes up, we have people with some experience.”

He said Gustafson is responsible for training new cadets, functioning as the cadet commander for a period of time and organizing the activities for all cadets.

“She’s shown the initiative,” Wedemeyer said.

David McRobie said he first met Gustafson while in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). McRobie had not flown a plane in a while so he took a refresher course through the CAP and bought the small plane. Gustafson was just starting out at CAP, and she used McRobie’s plane for practice.

McRobie said Gustafson already had some training in smaller airplanes, but she wanted to fly something bigger.

“I think it’s a good idea for women or men to do something they like this early on so they can tell whether they like to do it or not to do,” McRobie said.

Gustafson graduated from Bridgeport High School and participated on the swim team and was a member of marching band.

She is attending Fairmont State University, studying airport management and plans to graduate in 2016.

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Passengers On Flight From Ireland Speak Out After Emergency Landing

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Passengers of U.S. Airways Flight 777, said the ride and landing from Shannon, Ireland was smooth. 

 It wasn’t until the plane taxied to an isolated part of runway at Philadelphia International Airport, they realized all wasn’t routine (see previous story).

“At first they said we couldn’t pull into the gate,” said passenger Molly Cross, “they said something was going on but wouldn’t tell us what was happening.  And then, once we saw all the cop cars and dogs and everything, an FBI agent got on the plane and told us someone made a bomb threat, or something.”

“A policeman came on actually at the front of the plane, and we could see him because I was in row one, and he said that it was a security issue that it had been a prank call,” said passenger Aminda Baird.

Molly Cross was back from a summer trip in Ireland after college graduation.

She says passengers were put on buses, then interviewed by the FBI.

Dogs also sniffed their bags.

“I got a little nervous at first but once they got us off the plane I felt better,” said Cross.

Elanor Cousart had to be helped off the plane by firefighters.

“The firemen came in and put me in a chair, strapped me in, and carried me down the steps,” said Cousart.

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Fighting fires from above: Big Bear Valley pilot fights fires around the Western U.S.

While many planes are grounded when forest fires strike, Mike Gremillion flies his directly into the path of the fire.

Gremillion, who lives and works in Big Bear Valley, has been a pilot for nearly 20 years. He became interested in aviation when he served as a crew chief for a B-52 while in the Air Force. He has served as a charter pilot, instructor and an in-flight air traffic controller during forest fires. Although he is based out of Portervilleduring the fire season, he also plans to open and operates a flight school at the Big Bear Airport.

Gremillion flies an Aero Commander 500 over forest fires, flying above the helicopters and other planes that work to put out fires with a series of coordinated water drops. Being above the traffic jam of aircraft below gives Gremillion a birds-eye view as well as the best radio signal in the area. He said the main role he plays is facilitating radio contact between the firefighters on the ground, the aircraft in the sky and the various agencies involved in the fires.

“We can put men into space, but we can’t send radio through a mountain,” Gremillion said. “Radio technology still operates on line of sight. We serve as a relay for radio contact.”

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Pilots, city seek solutions: Fairmont Municipal Airport (KFRM), Minnesota

FAIRMONT - The town hall meeting at Fairmont Municipal Airport drew a crowd Tuesday night to discuss improvements local pilots would like to see implemented at the facility, from maintenance to management.

The meeting followed the City Council's decision in June to terminate its fixed-base operator and maintenance agreements with Five Lakes Aviation. The contract, originally for five years, will instead end after one year, on Sept. 30. In the meantime, the city is examining the protocols at the airport and deciding where change needs to take place.

Because of the time needed to research the task, recruit candidates and conduct interviews, the city will likely hire an interim manager to run the facility before a more permanent solution is reached, city administrator Mike Humpal told the group gathered Tuesday night.

"We want to keep things positive; we're not here to talk about the past," said Councilman Terry Anderson, who was joined by fellow council members Chad Askeland and Darin Rahm.

"We're going to change the management," Humpal said. "Whether we stick with a fixed-base operator or switch the model ... we want to hear what you have to say."

Pilot Dan Fullerton didn't pull any punches.

"Fire the advisory board," he said, his unhappiness stemming in part from the board failing to make a recommendation on whether to terminate Five Lakes Aviation. Fullerton also noted that three of five board members are employed by Kahler Automation, which in his opinion, gives too much clout to one corporation.

The tone quickly turned defensive, when a member of the advisory board took exception to Fullerton's comments, but the meeting was quickly redirected, and the session carried on without contention.

Many of the pilots present wanted to see the fixed-base operator serve as an ambassador for the community. Professionalism was stressed, with pilot Pat Beemer suggesting airport employees wear uniforms so they are readily identified by anyone flying into the airport.

Beemer had a list of recommendations that seemed popular with his peers, from requiring the fixed-base operator to provide flight instruction, to having a certified mechanic available to service planes, to upgrading the oil disposal facility, to power-brushing the tarmac on a regular basis, to fixing the hangars to prevent water from pooling inside them.

"This is my airport, and I want to see it continue in a more professional manner," he said.

Appearance was a frequent theme. Pilot Verlus Burkhart asked that something be done about the weeds growing on the property and one of the buildings that needs to be painted. Sharon Burkhart suggested updated furniture for the interior and better signage for the site.

"We're not advertising where our airport is," she said.

All agreed the airport should be better promoted so the community understands how crucial the facility is to the local economy.

"We have a whole lot of corporations that would not be here without this airport," said retired pilot and businessman Ernie Nuss.

Humpal agreed: "Half the people in Fairmont don't understand the number of corporations that take off and land here on a weekly basis."

One way for pilots to be more involved in promoting the facility would be to form an association, pilot Mark Raven said. It could be a way to raise funds, develop a sense of community, and discuss issues.

"We could get things out in the open," he said.

Other suggestions included:

  • Adding a designated grass landing strip.
  • Installing a better security system for the hangars.
  • Inviting speakers for regular safety presentations.
  • Scheduling fun activities to draw more people out to the airport and potentially increase interest in piloting.
  • Changing the name to Fairmont Regional Airport to reflect the wide radius of users frequenting the facility.
  • Building private hangars to rent.

"A lot of these things are not the FBO's responsibility," Fullerton pointed out, asking what the city was willing to do. "... What's your commitment to make those things happen?"

Humpal said many of the concerns brought up Tuesday were contracted to Five Lakes Aviation. Going forward, the city can take control back and find a better way to maintain the property. For instance, the city sprays all its parks two times a year for weeds. Rather than paying someone else to do that at the airport, the parks department could possibly take on the task.

Denny Militello, who sat on the original airport advisory board, pointed out that if the city took care of the grounds, the fixed-base operator could focus on aviation-oriented things, like serving pilots and running a flight school.

The meeting ended with enthusiastic applause, after Humpal asked the pilots to continue giving the city their input, as well as some time, to turn things around at the airport.

"I think what you're seeing is a commitment our City Council to improve this facility," Humpal said. "... Will it happen overnight? No. But we will work toward it diligently."

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Cessna 172L Skyhawk, C-FQTR: Accident occurred August 06, 2013 in Cache Creek Hills, west of Kamloops, BC

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has released pictures of the crash scene that killed a 16-year-old pilot near Kamloops Tuesday as they continue to investigate the crash.

The body of Lorne Perreault was found at the scene Wednesday after search and rescue crews spotted the wreckage in the Cache Creek Hills.

Operators of a Kamloops flight school say they believe Perreault may have been performing unauthorized manoeuvres minutes before his single-engine Cessna crashed.

Perreault, who had logged about 100 hours of experience, including cross-country flying, was confined to staying within 20 kilometres of the Kamloops airport, but he was found 50 kilometres away.

Investigators are looking into the cause of the crash and are trying to determine whether there were environmental factors involved.

Operators of a B.C. flight school say a 16-year-old pilot had abandoned his flight plan in the minutes before the single-engine plane crashed west of Kamloops.

Lorne Perreault, 16, was flying a solo flight as part of his training towards a private pilot license. The Cessna 172 was reported missing on Tuesday. The wreckage and Perreault’s body were found Wednesday evening. 

David Cruz, the director of TylAir Aviation where Perreault was a student, says the pilot had abandoned a strict flight plan that set a 20-kilometre radius around the Kamloops airport. The plane was found 55 kilometres west of Kamloops in the Cache Creek Hills. 

"This is indeed a tragedy that truly words cannot express -- the shock that event has brought on not only the family but everyone else involved,” Cruz said.

Cruz also says the Cessna had completed a mandatory full maintenance check on July 12, and although a cause of the crash has not been determined, Cruz believes mechanical issues will not be a factor.

He also confirms the teen had logged nearly 100 hours of flight time before the crash and was considered an experienced student well on the way to obtaining his private pilot's license.

The Transportation Safety Board has sent two investigators to the crash site in the hopes of determining why the plane crashed.

This is a plane used by TylAir Aviation Ltd. flight school, photographed by KTW during the company's recent open house. 

The body of Lorne Perrault, the 16-year-old student pilot who went missing this week in a Cessna 172 after taking off from Kamloops Airport, has been found.

Perrault apparently crashed in the hills near Cache Creek, about an hour from Kamloops.

Perrault was training for his pilot's license and had almost 100 hours of flying experience when he took off on a solo flight on the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 6.

Lt.-Commander Desmond Jones of the Joint Task Force Pacific/Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria said Perrault and the plane were found at about 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

Jones said a Royal Canadian Air Force Buffalo aircraft found an aircraft crash site in the Cache Creek Hills.

An RCAF Cormorant helicopter lowered two search and rescue technicians to the site and they confirmed the aircraft was the one that was being sought.

Jones said Perrault did not have any vital signs, noting the Cormorant helicopter transported the body back to Kamloops Airport, where the coroner pronounced the teenager's death.

Jones said Perrault family's is asking for privacy.

The federal Transportation Safety Board is expected to investigate the cause of the crash.

Perrault took off from Kamloops Airport in the four-seater training plane on Tuesday, Aug. 6, at 10:30 a.m. for what was supposed to be about a two-hour flight, performing exercises in the area near Kamloops Lake.

"He was cleared by his instructor to go out into this area and not venture off from there," said David Cruz of TylAir. Aviation Ltd., the flight school at which Perrault was training.

"Once those exercises were complete with the circuits, he was to return at 12:45 p.m. yesterday [Aug. 6]. When he was not at the tarmac at 12:45 p.m., the company immediately dispatched two planes to search for him in the area he was supposed to be."

When the planes failed to locate either plane or pilot, the school called in Coast Guard Search and Rescue, which dispatched Buffalo aircraft and search helicopters.

While the search was still active, Cruz told KTW there was no obvious explanation for the plane's disappearance.

"These planes are required to fly at a higher altitude, at a safe altitude, so that there is no challenge with any type of obstacles in the vicinity," he said.

"The practice area where he was instructed to perform his exercises was right above the lake, so there was no obstructions in the near vicinity.

"The weather conditions were near-perfect, for lack of a better word, yesterday in the morning when he departed. So, we're unsure at this time what has caused him not to return."

Perrault was an experienced flyer with 70 to 80 trips under his belt, more than 30 hours of solo flight time and all the licensing required to fly a plane.

"He had extensive knowledge of how to fly a plane," Cruz said.

 As search and rescue crews scoured the area northwest of Kamloops Lake for signs of a Cessna 172 plane or its pilot for a second day, David Cruz of TylAir Aviation Ltd. said staff at the Kamloops flight school are waiting and hoping their student will return home safely.

"We're waiting for search and rescue to hopefully find him and he'll be well and healthy and returned to his family," Cruz said.

The pilot took off from Kamloops Airport in the four-seater training plane on Tuesday, Aug. 6, at 10:30 a.m. for what was supposed to be about a two-hour flight, performing exercises in the area near Kamloops Lake.

"He was cleared by his instructor to go out into this area and not venture off from there," Cruz said.

"Once those exercises were complete with the circuits, he was to return at 12:45 p.m. yesterday [Aug. 6]. When he was not at the tarmac at 12:45 p.m., the company immediately dispatched two planes to search for him in the area he was supposed to be."

When the planes failed to locate either plane or pilot, the school called in Coast Guard Search and Rescue, which dispatched a Buffalo aircraft and a search helicopter.

Sgt. Doug Aird of the Tk'emlups Rural RCMP detachment said Air 4, the RCMP's helicopter, is also involved in the search.

Cruz said searchers were in the area until about 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6, and resumed their hunt at first light on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

While the Cessna is fitted with an emergency-location transmitter, Cruz said it has not been activated.

"He hasn't made any contact," Cruz said. "As you can tell, we're kind of in the dark here."

Cruz said there's no obvious explanation for the plane's disappearance.

"These planes are required to fly at a higher altitude, at a safe altitude, so that there is no challenge with any type of obstacles in the vicinity," he said.

"The practice area where he was instructed to perform his exercises was right above the lake, so there was no obstructions in the near vicinity.

"The weather conditions were near-perfect, for lack of a better word, yesterday in the morning when he departed. So, we're unsure at this time what has caused him not to return."

Cruz said the pilot was an experienced flyer with 70 to 80 trips under his belt, more than 30 hours of solo flight time and all the licensing required to fly a plane.

"He had extensive knowledge of how to fly a plane," Cruz said.

Cruz said the pilot's disappearance is "deeply troubling" to the school, which opened for business in June.

"This is not normal by any stretch of the word," he said. "It's something that really is having its toll on everyone involved."

Police are asking for information from anyone who can recall seeing the Cessna 172, bearing tail markers "CFQTR," at or near the west end of Kamloops Lake at about 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6.