Wednesday, August 14, 2013

State police scuba, aviation teams update rescue skills on Keuka Lake

KEUKA PARK — State police scuba divers took to the choppy, cloud-darkened waters of Keuka Lake on Wednesday to sharpen their water rescue safety skills. 

Roughly a dozen certified divers from Troop E were briefed on the latest safety techniques before teaming up for simulated rescues off Keuka State Park. The annual Scuba and Aviation units’ exercise was designed to ensure the safety of the experienced divers and those in peril.

Emergency response from the air adds another dimension to retrieving people in danger of drowning, said Tech. Sgt. Greg Vaillancourt of Batavia. “It’s a confusing environment as it is,” he said. “It’s very noisy. The helicopter itself contributes to the noise.”

There also is a difference in the type of retrievals. Rescue efforts look to locate people believed to be alive; recovery plans search for those likely to be dead, said Senior Diver Trooper James Bailey of Painted Post.

And that distinction is an important one, although the decision is difficult. Typically, hopeful rescues taking longer than an hour — the “magic” hour — are likely to become saddened recoveries.

“There are so many factors … temperature, weather conditions, it’s hard to say. It’s always hard to say,” Bailey said.

He recalled a scuba team rescue after a boat sank on an area lake. Although the boat was submerged well past an hour, one passenger was in an air pocket and grabbed a rescuing scuba diver’s arm.

The question often is “how much risk you’re willing to put your team in,” Vaillancourt said.

The risk is real enough for the divers, who put their lives on the line, he said. “There’s something else for these guys. They care about rescuing (victims); they really want to help.”

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Cutbacks hurting Tupelo Regional Airport (KTUP), Mississippi

TUPELO, Miss. — Tupelo Regional Airport Executive Director Josh Abramson says struggling finances and fewer passengers require a change in the financial relationship between the airport and the city of Tupelo.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that after meeting in closed session Tuesday about a lease at the airport, City Council members did not take any action.

However, Abramson said the airport needs more financial support from the city.

The facility needs at least $700,000 for repairs to a runway to support landings for Universal Asset Management. The company brings in large retired aircraft, takes them apart and recycles materials. Universal Asset Management has a 20-year lease at the airport.

“We’ve lost $850,000 in funding in a year with no trend of it coming back,” Abramson said. “The airport has to be a part of the city’s capital plan.”

With an operating budget of $4.9 million this year, the airport has a $40,000 operating surplus. However, the balance sheet starts to look red when factoring the airport’s $2.6 million debt to the city.

Currently, Tupelo’s airport has a separate budget from the city’s annual budget. However, the city provides an allocation for the airport listed under community services. In fiscal year 2013, the city allocated $158,500.

The city has little oversight related to funding at the airport. Beyond the mayor appointing airport authority members, there is no other role.

Abramson declined to disclose how much funding the airport needs but will turn in his formal request to the city for fiscal year 2014 funding next week. Mayor Jason Shelton and city finance leaders are preparing a budget proposal for the City Council.

With the airport losing commercial services connected to Memphis, fewer passengers have flown out of Tupelo.

The airport anticipated a $1 million Federal Aviation Administration grant this year to help cover runway costs but received $150,000 only because of funding tied to passengers.

Universal Asset Management employs about 80 people, including workers at a warehouse in Verona. The company has landed more than 60 retired aircraft in Tupelo. A Boeing 747 is scheduled to land Thursday.

Abramson also said the airport will likely look into asking other entities for funding, such as the Lee County board of supervisors.

“The airport is regional and impacts more than just the city of Tupelo,” he said.


Davis reisgns from Fayette County Airport Authority board: Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport (KVVS), Connellsville, Pennsylvania

The chairman of the Fayette County Airport Authority has given notice that he will resign the position, effective Friday.

Fred Davis announced his intention to resign in a fax sent to commissioner Chairman Al Ambrosini.

In the one-paragraph notice, Davis said he is leaving because of an “unanticipated increase in my off-airport obligations and the amount of time they would consume.”

Davis declined additional comment. He was named chairman after the previous chairman, Terry “Tuffy” Shallenberger, resigned in January from the authority that oversees the Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport in Dunbar Township.

Noting Davis' lengthy involvement with the board, Ambrosini said his expertise will be missed.

“I certainly appreciate his contributions to all the progress that's been made out there, with the various projects,” Ambrosini said.

Ambrosini said commissioners will likely advertise the opening and begin interviewing possible replacements.

He said he would like to see commissioners vote on a replacement as early as next month.


Federal Aviation Administration ‘committed’ to approval of drones, but a lot has to be figured out first

From farmers to filmmakers, a host of American industries eagerly await the opportunity to take advantage of drones.

But the slow wheels of Washington could slow the job creation, economic impact and technological advances offered by the unmanned craft. The Federal Aviation Administration has been charged by Congress to integrate commercial drones into U.S. airspace by September 2015 — a goal that looks less realistic each day.

“I’m confident that they’re working diligently. I’m not confident they will meet all the deadlines,” said Rep. Michael R. Turner, Ohio Republican, who on Wednesday toured the showroom at the drone industry’s annual convention, held this year at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the District.

“Deadlines have slipped before. But I do think that we have full commitment from the FAA,” Mr. Turner added.

For its part, the federal government admits the task of working drones into national airspace is a painstaking process.

As part of its integration mission, the FAA is working on rules and regulations to govern “small” unmanned aerial vehicles, defined as craft weighing less than 55 pounds.

Industry leaders had hoped to have already seen those rules, but they continue to wait.

“The small [drone] rule is one that we’re committed to getting done. Given the topic and given some of the questions that have come up, it has taken more time than we would like it to have,” said John Porcari, U.S. deputy secretary of transportation, who addressed conventiongoers in a keynote speech Wednesday morning. The Transportation Department oversees the FAA.

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13 INVESTIGATES: Possible runway risks

Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (KBHM), Alabama 


Runway 18 at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport is 7,099 feet long.
That's about four thousand feet shorter than the Birmingham airports other runway.

We're told that landing strip was closed for repairs this morning, forcing flight 1354 to make approach on the shorter runway, when it crashed on its approach to the airport.

Barry Franks runs the Over the Mountain Flight School at the Shelby County Airport. He claims the intended runway involved in this morning's crash can safely handle planes the size of flight 1354, and does so on a regular basis.

But, runway 18 does come with a few extra concerns.

First, it is what you call a non-precision approach. That means pilots must rely more on their training and this chart called an "approach plate," rather than self-guiding instruments in the cockpit.

Franks also says there is hill just short of the runway, which could potentially add a wrinkle to a troubled landing before sunrise.

"If they were to descend lower than what the chart allows them to at that particular place, I could see where that hill might potentially become an obstruction and something that would block their view of the runway," Franks explained.

We also spoke with a commercial airline pilot this afternoon.  Both he and Franks agree that weather was likely not a factor in this morning's crash.

Both also say it is too hard to predict what really went wrong without more information

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Remos GX, N110GX: Accident occurred August 14, 2013 and November 04, 2012

NTSB Identification: WPR13CA373
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 14, 2013 in Las Vegas, NV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/02/2013
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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 during a cross-country flight, he received a low fuel warning indication about 29 miles short of his destination. He decided to make a precautionary landing to a paved road but was unsuccessful due to interference with an automobile. The pilot then selected a nearby dirt road, but aborted the landing due to excessive speed. After initiating a climb, he turned to the right to avoid rising terrain however, the airplane descended during the turn and the left main landing gear struck a small hill. The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings and the fuselage. The pilot reported no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control during the initial climb following an aborted landing. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's inaccurate fuel planning which resulted in a low fuel state and subsequent precautionary off airport landing.

NTSB Identification: WPR13CA046
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, November 04, 2012 in Sacramento, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/27/2013
Injuries: 1 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 operator reported that the student pilot was conducting a series of touch-and-go landings in the airport traffic pattern. During the first landing, the airplane landed hard and bounced. The student pilot aborted the landing, performed a second touch-and-go landing, and noticed that it did not feel right. The student pilot landed a third time uneventfully. An inspection of the airplane by the operator revealed an approximate 22-inch tear in the composite fuselage structure extending forward from the landing gear attach point. The operator reported no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The student pilot’s improper landing flare, which resulted in a hard landing.

Clark County, NV (KTNV) -- Clark County crews were called to a small plane crash in Southern Nevada Wednesday evening.

It happened just after 6 p.m. on Cold Creek Road in Clark County. Cold Creek Road is located off U.S. 95 near Mount Charleston.

The plane was a single-engine aircraft.

The pilot was the only person on board and he escaped safely.

Helicopter company in Myrtle Beach crosses first hurdle to new lease

 MYRTLE BEACH — Executive Helicopters, parent company of Huffman Helicopters, crossed its first hurdle Wednesday at obtaining a new lease, which is set to take effect at the start of November if Horry County Council approves all parts of it.

The Horry County Airport Advisory Committee unanimously approved recommending the new five-year lease for Executive Helicopter to the county’s administration committee, which will review it at its next meeting Friday before it goes to full council.

The recommendation follows months of discussion following establishment of a competing helicopter tour company in Horry County that sparked complaints from nearby neighborhoods about noise.

Wednesday’s recommendation did not come without a $14,000 consultant bill and a few concerns, still, about noise complaints. This time the complaints are coming from the southern part of Horry County and northern part of Georgetown County near the Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk.

Executive Helicopters leases 182,000 square feet, or three parcels, from the county at Myrtle Beach International Airport – two are hangars and one is flat ground where the helicopters take flight. One hangar is used for maintenance and another hangar, located in the old DHL hangar, is for flight school.

The new lease calls for Executive Helicopters to spend about $40,000 on improvements for its flight school hangar. The company also plans to create about 65 new jobs.

“It’s their intention to grow that business, and it seems like it’s cracking with that intention,” said Mike LaPier, director of Horry County Airports. LaPier said the company pays the airport nearly $83,000 annually to operate its at the airport, and the airport receives 5 percent of all activities, including the tourist flights. “[Executive Helicopters owner] Jeremy [Bass] has been very receptive to general concerns about noise and the frequency of those flights.”

Horry County Council voted this summer not to renew its current lease with Executive Helicopters, which does business as Huffman Helicopters, mostly because the lease did not address hours of operation and had flight patterns that went over neighborhoods. Those patterns drew some complaints about noise, though Bass has said he has not heard about more than six over the years. The proposed lease limits hours of operation between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Bass changed the route of his flights at the peak of the debate this summer. Bass’ business runs out of the Myrtle Beach International Airport. A competitor, Helicopter Adventures, operates under different terms and often flies along Business 17.

Executive Helicopter has a memorandum of agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration that shows its flight pattern goes from the airport directly to the beach and then pilots can head either north or south along the shore. FAA regulations set 300 feet as a minimum flight height, but Executive Helicopters has agreed to fly at 1,200 feet.

“He’s agreed to do this with the county to address their concerns,” LaPier said. “He’s done everything he can to avoid any heavily populated area.”

Advisory committee member Myra Starnes said she likes what Executive Helicopters is doing with the lease, but fears the county may back itself in a corner with this contract.

“Whatever the county does here, we’re setting a precedent,” Starnes said. “We’ve got to look at the larger picture. I don’t think council is going to pass it if we don’t have a master plan.”

Councilman Marion Foxworth was a spectator at the meeting and said his concern is that the county is receiving 5 percent of all sales that Executive Helicopters makes.

“It ties our hands at council level,” Foxworth said. “We can’t do anything with any other helicopter company if we have dirty hands with another.”

He said he receives more complaints, particularly at a 10-to-1 ratio, about Executive Helicopters’ flights than Helicopter Adventures.

Committee member Ari Pieniek said the noise complaints should decrease as long as Executive sticks to its flight plan.

“They (residents) knew from day 1 that if you buy something by the airport, there’s going to be noise,” he said.

LaPier said the Department of Airports will spend about $14,000 to bring in Ted Baldwin, a senior vice president with the Burlington, Mass.-based environmental consulting firm Harris, Miller, Miller, and Hanson to talk to the county’s Public Safety and Administration committees this week.

Baldwin specializes in airport noise analysis, according to his biography on the company’s website. The company touts itself as “an international leader in environmental noise and vibration control, air quality analysis, airport and airspace planning, and climate and energy solutions,” the website states.

Advisory committee member Jon Bourne commended Executive Helicopters for coming forward and making changes to the lease without a long drawn-out battle.

“I think this is a fantastic effort,” he said.

Fellow committeeman Benjamin “James” Duffey said Bass has worked well with the airport on this new lease, saying he’s a “very good tenant” and “very good player.”

“What’s to stop him from picking up and going to find another place to run his operation?” Duffey said.


City challenged over airport lease: Arlington Municipal (KAWO), Washington

The air was thick at the Aug. 5 Arlington City Council meeting when a local businessman got up to speak during the public comment time.

Kevin Duncan, owner of Arlington Flight Services, read his concerns about a property lease at the Arlington Airport.

His concerns centered on a lease to Arlington Sport Aviation Park LLC, owned by Bruce Angell who is the "significant other" of Mayor Barbara Tolbert, and presenter of the Arlington Fly-In, for which Tolbert serves as executive director.

"Mr. Angell is also married to Mayor Barbara Tolbert. Given that (Washington) is a community property state, it's reasonable to conclude that Mayor Tolbert's financial and property interests are one and the same with Mr. Angell's," Duncan said, pointing out also that state law forbids city officials from having personal financial interests in public contracts under their jurisdiction.

Duncan cited state law, RCW 42.23.070, that prohibits elected officials from using their positions to secure special privileges for him/herself or others.

The original lease for Lot 200 was with Meidum Pyramid LLC, which, Duncan said, was in arrears to the city for more than $48,000. Angell is part owner in the company.

Earlier this year, the Arlington Airport Commission approved a new lease with Arlington Sport Aviation Park LLC accommodating the debt, with plans to compensate the arrears over a five-year period.

Duncan said he sees the new lease as credit to a private entity, which is prohibited by the state constitution.

"Mr. Angell is asking the city to act as his lender and roll his debt into a new lease under very favorable terms," Duncan said.

No one responded to Duncan during the meeting, as per city policy.

Later in the week, Tolbert said that the city followed the letter of the law.

"Any questions should be directed to Allen Johnson," she said.

Johnson, city administrator, responded to Duncan by letter Thursday.

"I must first start by stating that the city believes your concerns about the legality of the lease for Lot 200 to Arlington Sport Aviation are incorrect and unfounded," Johnson said in his letter.

"In the review of this particular lease, the city attorney was specifically asked to confirm that there would not be a violation of RCW 42.23, the Municipal Officers' Code of Ethics," Johnson wrote.

"In this lease, the tenant is Arlington Sports Aviation, LLC. The mayor is not an officer or an employee of Arlington Sports Aviation, LLC. Although the mayor is the 'significant other' of the tenant's principal, the mayor does not thereby acquire a financial interest in the company under state law."

Therefore, the lease is not prohibited within the meaning of the RCW, he wrote.

He went on to explain that the airport commission acted within (the city's) current policies of accommodating leases to enable businesses to stay during the slow economic times.

"In 1997, the airport commission was granted authority by Arlington City Council to enter into leases for the airport, including amendments and modifications to leases and the granting or requests for subordination of leasehold interest or other security interests for financial purposes.”

In recognition of the financial realities of the sport aviation industry, which was hard hit by the recession, the lease clearly falls into this category of permissible actions by the airport commission, he said.

Allen said the return of the lease would have resulted in increased costs to the airport to manage the property and buildings that (the airport) can ill afford. In the absence of this lease, the airport would receive no rental income for the next five years.

The lease, he said, means the airport will receive about $72,000 in additional rent over the next five years, plus the leasehold excise tax.

"We have worked with other businesses in the same way because it's better to have tenants at a lower rent than no tenants at all," Johnson said.

One airport commissioner, Mike Hopson, said he remembers the night in April when the commission approved the lease.

"We amended it to include review by the city attorney," Hopson said. "With that amendment, I was comfortable with the lease."

Last Monday, Duncan also suggested that the city adopt a local ethics code and consider making the airport commission an elected body, rather than appointed by City Council.

In his written reply, Allen cited a state law that prescribes how airport commissioners should be selected — by City Council — not by election of the people.


New canopy donated to Willits Municipal Airport (O28), California

Willits Airport Manager Dan Ramsey and Mike Garrity of Willits Power Equipment inspect the new 12 foot by 20 foot aluminum canopy Garrity donated recently to the airport. 
(The Willits News)

The new green replacement metal canopy donated by Willits Power Equipment is in service at the Willits airport. Mike Garrity, owner of Willits Power Equipment donated the new canopy after learning of the need.

“The prior canopy was a popular meeting place for the local EAA chapter and the many pilots who fly into Willits during the summer,” said Willits Airport Manager Dan Ramsey. “Unfortunately, the old canopy was recently damaged and we’ve been looking for a low-cost but sturdy replacement.”

John Sherman of the City of Willits contacted Willits Power, a local supplier for West Coast Metal Buildings, and Garrity agreed to make the donation.

“We appreciate our local airport and community,” said Garrity, “and want to support them in any way we can.”

“Other local businesses have offered to replace the old picnic benches with new ones and they will be delivered this fall. This is truly a community airport,” Ramsey added,

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Sierra Blanca Regional Airport (KSRR) Ruidoso, New Mexico: Super service delivered by line tech

Dave Pearce - Ruidoso News 
Barbara Kizer, line technician at Sierra Blanca Regional Airport, fuels up a plane. Kizer recently was praised by customers for her willingness to go beyond her job description to help them. 

One of the line technicians at Sierra Blanca Regional Airport received heavy plaudits from members of a jet flight crew for going well beyond her job description during their recent trip to Ruidoso.

The Rex Burns Jetsuite flight crew wrote June 15, on a nationally-used Website viewed by pilots interested in assessing the fuel prices, hours and amenities of airports across the country that Sierra Blanca Regional Airport is lucky to have an employee like Barbara Kizer.

“We arrived (at the airport) at 10:30 p.m., on June 14,” they wrote. “Barbara gladly stayed late and went out of her way to help us, including taking us to the hotel in her personal vehicle.”

Her super service didn’t stop there, the crew noted.

“The next morning, Barbara again rose above the call of duty by picking us up in her personal vehicle two hours prior to her scheduled shift. Barbara is a true asset to your operation. Her positive attitude, initiative and willingness to rise above the call of duty deserves recognition.”

Kizer celebrated her one year anniversary with the village airport a few months ago, Assistant Airport Manager Sean Parker said.

She isn’t the only employee receiving praise from airport customers on the Website.

Another message was sent June 20, from airport patron Chris Davis, who wrote that when he pulled up in his Piper Arrow, he was met by three employees Sunday morning. “They had my fuel order and tied (his airplane) down before I had luggage unloaded,” he wrote.

“You can’t beat this type of marketing,” Airport Manager Dave Pearce said of the postings.

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New owners, same feel for Galt Field Airport (10C), Greenwood/Wonder Lake, Illinois

Claude and Diane Sonday of Bull Valley bought Galt Airport at a foreclosure auction and have been making improvements including sealing and marking the 2,800-foot runway, taxiway and hangar aprons. 
(H. Rick Bamman – Shawmedia) 

Student pilot under instruction rolls down the newly sealed and painted 2,800-foot runway at Galt Airport in Greenwood. Claude and Diane Sonday of Bull Valley bought the airport at a foreclosure auction earlier this year. 
(H. Rick Bamman –Shawmedia)

Galt Airport manager Justin Cleland (left) and owner Claude Sonday park a 1942 Boeing Stearman in one of the hangars at the airport.
 (H. Rick Bamman – Shawmedia) 

Galt Airport Director of Aircraft maintenance Brian Spiro returns from a hangar after checking on an equipment order for a customer. 
(H. Rick Bamman –Shawmedia)

WONDER LAKE – The smell of asphalt and the glitter of freshly-painted stripes greet visitors to Galt Airport under new owners Claude and Diane Sonday.

But the Sondays stress it will be the same small community airport with the same community feel that its regulars know and love, with the same name it’s had since Arthur Galt built it in 1950, although regulars affectionately call it by its FAA designation of 10C, or “One Zero Charlie.”

The Sondays, of Bull Valley, became the official owners July 12 after buying the airport and the 172 acres it sits on in a foreclosure auction.

The semi-retired couple that had owned the Harley-Davidson stores in Woodstock and McHenry didn’t have owning an airport on their bucket list, as Diane Sonday said, but as regulars since 1981, they couldn’t imagine a new owner unfamiliar with the small airport changing its feel or driving away the tight-knit community that uses it.

“It’s just a nice family-type airport because of the people here, and because they enjoy themselves, It’s their hobby,” said Claude Sonday, who took his first flying lesson in 1963.

But that’s not to say the Sondays aren’t looking to expand business once they finish maintenance deferred during the foreclosure.

They have increased the fleet for flying lessons from one plane to three, and are looking to purchase up to five more, Claude Sonday said. He hopes the aviation fuel station will be upgraded to self-service this fall, and that they will one day expand into selling used airplanes.

Expansion while maintaining the airport’s community feel sounds good to Justin Cleland, airport manager and co-owner of JB Aviation Management. His business partner, Brian Spiro, is aircraft maintenance director for the airport.

The two-man business has operated the airport since 2006 and kept it up and running through the foreclosure. It boasts 98 hangars and two runways – a 2,800-foot paved east-west runway and a 2,200-foot grass north-south runway.

Their worries about who, if anyone, would end up owning the airport, and what would happen to the community of Galt aviators have been assuaged by the Sondays’ purchase, Cleland said.

“It’s amazing how close-knit this community is,” Cleland said.

The property also includes a guest cabin, campground and stocked fishing pond for the hangar’s tenants.

“The people here are one of the main reasons we bought this,” Diane Sonday said during a Tuesday tour. “They take care of everything like it’s theirs.”

That community includes a chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, and routinely hosts children’s aviation groups such as the Civil Air Patrol, the Young Eagles and scouting groups seeking merit badges.

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Loud airplane rattles nerves overnight: Show Low Regional Airport (KSOW), Arizona

SHOW LOW — A number of people in Show Low said they heard a loud, low flying jet pass over their homes at approximately 11 p.m. the night of Aug. 12 and wanted to know what it was all about.

Glen Boyd at the Show low Regional Airport said it was a non-incident explaining that it was an air ambulance out of Mexico heading home.

He said the pilot called in hours earlier notifying airport after hours personnel that he needed to refuel at Show Low Airport. The air ambulance landed around 9:30 p.m. at which time it was refueled while the crew took a short break.

Boyd said they took off at almost exactly 11 p.m. adding that there was a slight language barrier. Boyd said the pilot apparently did not understand that they were supposed to head north after take-off in order to comply with the city’s noise abatement ordinance.

Because of the misunderstanding they flew directly over town causing homes and windows to shake, rattle and roll and prompting a lot of people to wonder what was going on. Boyd said he stayed late at the airport in anticipation that people would call, which they did and then got an explanation.

Boyd did not say if there would or would not be any fines associated with the minor communication snafu.

He said the reason it was so loud is because it was an older Learjet 25 that was not retrofitted with a “hush” kit.

He said there are not that many still flying in the U.S. but those that do are typically retrofitted to lessen engine noise.

Boyd said as a precaution Show Low Police was informed.

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Upper Cumberland Regional Airport (KSRB) looking to replace faulty jet refueler

Upper Cumberland Regional Airport manager Jim Kmet inspects the airport’s jet refueler, which he says continually needs repairs. Kmet asked the UCRA board to consider purchasing a newer model truck during last night’s monthly meeting.

UPPER CUMBERLAND — Every day, it’s a new problem.

A gas spill here, a faulty switching mechanism there.

Now, Upper Cumberland Regional Airport manager Jim Kmet says it’s time for out with the old and in with something new when it comes to the airport’s jet refueler truck.

And that’s what Kmet — after having looked into four jet refueler refurbishing companies — discussed with the airport board when they came together last night for their monthly meeting.

“I’ve got several options I would like to see the board consider,” he said. “I’d like to be able to go buy a truck tomorrow, but I know that’s not going to happen.”

One of the companies, American Refueler in Birmingham, has two trucks of particular interest to Kmet — a 2005 Chassis-cab for $90,000 and a 2002 International for $87,500.

“I’ve worked with American Refueler quite a lot on ours as far as getting them to send us parts and diagnosing problems,” he said. “I’m very comfortable with their level of service so far.”

He went on to discuss the condition of the airport’s current jet refueler — a 1973 Ford Chassis with a 1984 fueling system — that is used in every jet fuel sale.

“We spent close to $200 in July for repairs,” he said. “We still have another problem as of today.”

But the problems go back even further.

“We have continual breakdowns,” he told the Herald-Citizen.

“In January, the power steering went out, and it took us three weeks to get the part remanufactured because they don’t make them anymore.”

Which resulted in a loss of several thousand gallons in fuel sales, he said.

Once that was fixed, a fuel seal broke in February.

“The day the power steering was fixed, two hours later, the seal blew, and we spilled 150 gallons of jet fuel,” Kmet said. “It was a very expensive cleanup — close to $6,000.”

What’s more, the truck won’t pump fuel “when it’s cold,” he said.

And the repairs keep adding up.

“We probably spent around three or four thousand dollars on it since then, updating the lines and some of the switches and regulators, and other things continue to break,” he said.

Why is it important to have a reliable truck?

“We’ll lose fuel sales without it, simple as that,” Kmet told the H-C. “Our fuel sales will go down. Our source of revenue will go down.”

Board member Paul Bailey told Kmet, “Obviously, I’m a conservative, and I like to save as much money as possible, but at the same time it appears that we’re selling a lot of aviation fuel, and if this is what you’re using to fuel those planes, and if we make an investment, it could be something for the future.”

Mike Atwood added, “I think it’s very important that you go and evaluate what they (American Refueler) have and make a decision based on your experience and knowledge about what you think we need.”

Kmet noted that the 2005 truck would not be available until October.

“In the meantime, I’ve got a truck sitting out there that I don’t feel is safe,” he said. “It needs some more work as of this morning… I could tell customers we’ll have a truck come Oct. 1, but I would hate to tell them that we just don’t have a truck and we don’t know if we ever will — because once you get word out that you don’t have a truck, they’re going to come with more fuel when they land. So, it’s going to limit us in the future.”

The board then moved to authorize a trip to Birmingham for Kmet to evaluate the jet refuelers there. Kmet said he expects to go within the next 10 days.

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High flyer’s path to rural success

An aerial view of plans for the airfield, which have been submitted to the North York Moors National Park Authority.

A Scarborough bed and breakfast owner who flies planes in his spare time is hoping to transform part of his 100-acre farmland into an airfield. 

 Bob Walker wants to build an airstrip, including two grass runways, an aircraft hangar and a flight planning office, at South Moor Farm, Langdale End, which is situated in the national park.

The facility would house his jointly-owned single engine plane as well as up to nine small aircraft owned by local pilots.

In a planning application submitted to the North York Moors National Park Authority, Mr Walker, who has held a private pilot’s license since 2005, said: “I fly a small since engine aircraft based at Wombleton airfield. Our aircraft is owned by a group of five pilots and we each fly about 40 trips per year to various parts of the UK. We regularly use grass runways at various air fields and it would be possible to land at South Moor Farm. Last year we had to move the plane from our previous hangar and had some difficulty finding a new hangar. There is a shortage of hangar space some aircraft are stored outside, which reduced their useful life. I would like to build a hangar at South Moor Farm and prepare a strip of grass to use as a runway.”

The use of the proposed airfield would be restricted to experienced pilots, and there would be no training flights, practice circuits or aerobatics overhead, said Mr Walker. Flights would be confined to daylight hours and only small planes would be permitted to use the facilities. All aircraft would also be asked to avoid flying directly over houses within one mile of the farm.

Brian Barrow, from planning consultants Acorus Rural Property Services, said in the report: “It is envisaged that the proposed facilities will further enhance the bed and breakfast business currently run from South Moor Farm. It will provide economic growth in a rural area and assist in bringing tourists to the area with knock on benefits to local businesses.

“The proposal supports rural tourism and will provide and additional means of visitors to access the National Park. It will help support the local community by bringing in tourists as well as providing a service to aircraft owners in the locality.”

If the plans are give the go-ahead, the development will include a 600-metre grass strip as the main runway and a second 400-metre strip to allow aircraft to land if the wind is too strong. It will also see a hangar built, which will be similar to a farm building, as well as a small wooden building which will house the pilot logs and a rest area. There are expected to be an average of 10 take off and landings per week.

Residents have until September 4 to submit comments on the proposals.

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