Friday, September 20, 2013

General aviation plane sales rebounding


DENVER (DENVER BUSINESS JOURNAL) - Between the Great Recession and some bad publicity, few companies suffered as much in the past five years as those that manufacture and sell small aircraft to businesses. 

The number of general aviation aircraft sold nationwide in 2012 was less than half that shipped in 2007, and their average price fell as much as 70 percent from the pre-recession peak. Many aircraft dealers have gone out of business, and some companies owning planes simply shut them down, unable to find buyers and unwilling to be criticized for using them.

But there's finally some good news, experts say, after corporate jet prices have dropped for 25 consecutive quarters: The number of transactions, especially for used planes, has risen slightly for two years now. Also, business aviation leaders have launched a campaign - so far successful - to ward off changes in federal law they say could stunt restarting a vital means of transportation for companies.

"I'm hopeful that we are in spitting distance of a recovery," said Jay Mesinger, founder of J. Mesinger Corporate Jet Sales Inc. of Boulder. "We're busier in our office today than we have been for years."

A corporate jet is a major investment, costing anywhere from a few million dollars for used aircraft to $60 million for high-end planes coming off factory lines.

Many larger companies, in particular, owned corporate jets not so long ago. There were 3,279 new planes made and shipped in 2007, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). And buyers in the mid-2000s would pay premiums of 10 to 20 percent above the price of the planes to ensure they could obtain high-demand aircraft, recalled Michael Amalfitano, an aircraft finance expert at Bank of America Merill Lynch and associate member of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Advisory Council.

Then came the recession, which wiped out company finances. And then came Nov. 19, 2008, when the CEOs of the big three American automakers acknowledged they flew private aircraft to Washington, D.C., to plead for public bailout funds. That gave a bad reputation to using such private aircraft.

By 2010, just 1,334 new aircraft were shipped, sales of used planes froze and tax increases on corporate jets became very popular.

From that period emerged groups such as the Alliance for Aviation Across America, which sought to remind lawmakers and businesspeople of the benefits of corporate jets - faster travel to meet clients, chances to expand sales and opportunities to connect to an increasingly international customer base.

NBAA and GAMA teamed on a publicity campaign in 2009 dubbed "No Plane No Gain." So far this year, that campaign has helped to keep air towers open through the first round of sequestration, and spurred the U.S. House to pass a bill designed to streamline regulation of small aircraft, Ed Bolen, NBAA president and CEO, said during a July forum his organization held at Centennial Airport.

Despite the improving image and policy gains, restarting aircraft sales has been slow in Colorado, where general aviation supports 22,650 jobs with a payroll of almost $750 million a year. And that, Mesinger explained, is mostly because few lenders are willing to give money to businesses to buy planes - the first time that element is missing from an economic recovery.

Lenders lost hundreds of millions of dollars on airplane loans during the recession, as a number of loans went into default and other lessors turned planes back in at prices that forced lenders to take a loss, Amalfitano said at the NBAA forum. So in this recovery cycle, 75 percent of plane buyers are paying cash and the remaining 25 percent are leasing the aircraft rather than buying them, he said.

Mesinger compares the post-recession years to a junior-high dance, where buyers and sellers stood on opposite sides of the room, both too scared to make offers because they had no idea what to ask for and feared rejection.

He projected that prices on planes will continue to decline for the next 12 to 18 months as demand slowly catches up to the market's oversupply. But with attitudes changing about the need for corporate planes and companies once again willing to take a chance on investing in growing their businesses, the scared kids at opposite ends of the room are starting to move toward each other, he said.

"Today, it's not over. But the fact that people fly aircraft to do business, to get ahead of their competitors, to get out of their rural communities, again - they're doing it because they have more confidence in the economy, more confidence in where the economy is going," Mesinger said. "It wasn't until the end of 2010, beginning of 2011, that everyone got enough confidence to try to dance again."

Story and Video:

Three former Adventist pastors see jet plane business take off: Jet Mall at Fort Worth Spinks Airport (KFWS), Texas


Three former pastors who operate a business at Spinks Airport are amazed by the blessings coming their way from the heavens. 

Jack DuBosque, Elwyn Owen and Steve Gifford are former pastors in the Seventh-day Adventist Church who operate Jet Mall, which, in only five years, has become one of the most respected service providers for business aircraft and commercial airlines in the United States.

Operating out of a 52,000 square-foot hangar on the east side of Spinks, Jet Mall recently repainted the exterior and redesigned the interior of a private jet owned by former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and current TV personality Terry Bradshaw, and the Boeing 737 that took off last week was owned by Air Peace, a charter company  headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, Africa.

Air Peace will be bringing 16 more aircraft to Spinks to be repainted and refurbished by Jet Mall.  The 52,000 sq.-ft. hangar on the east side of Spinks consists of three separate bays, with one bay dedicated as a painting facility, while the others are used for preparation work and interior installation or maintenance.

The company also has a separate 8,500 square-foot shop for interior fabrication and installation at Spinks.

DuBosque and Owen are co-owners and Gifford is company president.

Jet Mall currently provides services for general aviation, business aircraft and commercial airlines. Revenue is generated from aircraft exterior painting and cabin interior refurbishments, cockpit avionics upgrades and light airframe and engine maintenance services performed on site through third-party agreements, Gifford said.

“Jet Mall's mission is to deliver products and services that offer world class quality and as a result, produce repeat customer business,” DuBosque said.

The co-owners, each with a lifelong love with aviation, became acquainted while working for the Texas Adventist Conference in Alvarado, DuBosque as an  evangelist and Owen as director of building construction, supervising the building of Adventist schools and churches in Texas including the new Joshua Adventist School in Joshua.

Gifford, who served as president of the Texas Adventist Conference from 1994-2004, brings years of administrative and business skills to the job.

DuBosque, who has owned three planes and is a licensed commercial pilot, served as a navigator on an aircraft carrier during an six-year career with the Navy. He also taught navigation to midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

When DuBosque left the Navy, he earned a Master of Divinity degree at Andrews University, the Adventist seminary in Berrien Springs, Mich. and flew as a missionary pilot.   He continues to present evangelistic meetings on weekends throughout the U.S., flying his own plane out on Thursday night and returning Sunday afternoon.   “For me, the general idea is that Jet Mall supports my evangelistic endeavors,” DuBosque said. “That's why I do this.”

Owens started flying in 1964 while in high school in Loveland, Colo., and was able to amass a lot of hours by ferrying planes for a small-plane dealer in nearby Greeley.

“I got a lot of free hours doing that,” he said. “During my senior year I leased a plane for $7 an hour and continued to build up hours.”

After graduation from Union College in Lincoln, Neb., Owen became a missionary pilot in Central America and bought a plane there.  He came back to the U.S. for a while but returned to Brazil as a pilot for the Adventist Church in the Amazon, acquiring a multitude of hours flying low over the Amazon jungle

“If you have fuel, it's the safest place in the world to fly because there's nothing taller than 1,000 feet for hundreds of miles in any direction,” Owen said.

After leaving work for the Adventist denomination and with their aviation backgrounds, the co-owners decided to start a business that involved airplanes, hoping to obtain military contracts for aircraft maintenance. But that didn't happen.

Instead, business at Jet Mall, the largest employer at Spinks with 50 employees, is taking off through word of mouth among aviation brokers, the middle men who negotiate the sale and purchase of business jets to private individuals and small companies and commercial passenger gets to smaller airlines.

The painting of the 737 for Air Peace becomes a flying billboard for Jet Mall that will attract attention throughout Africa.  The broker who arranged for Jet Mall to paint the Air Peace 737 has contracted with Jet Mall for 16 additional commercial aircraft, including more 737s and MD-80s.

The world of business jets includes the smaller, or medium jets, such as those owned by Bradshaw and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and numerous professional golfers; the larger 737s and MD-80s also used by commercial airlines; and the wide-body jets owned by charter companies and Mideastern sheiks and oil barons.

“It was a broker who knew about the excellent quality work performed by Jet Mall that led Bradshaw to send his jet to us,” DuBosque said.

There are brokers who represent all aspects of airplane work, DuBosque said.

“There are brokers for maintenance, for exterior painting and for interior renovations,” he said. “Most private jet owners don't manage their planes. They just fly in them.”

Jet Mall also paints, refurbishes and performs maintenance on helicopters and large drilling rigs gas companies to power fracking operations.  Currently in the shop is a drilling rig power plant scheduled for shipment to Brazil.

The former pastors located at Spinks because DuBosque owned a hangar there and had been flying out of Spinks since he arrived in Texas.

“In the current economic environment, Jet Mall is correctly positioned to capture more opportunities as business aircraft operators retain their airplanes longer and plan updates rather than replacing them with new,” Gifford said.

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Board explores possibility of bringing back an air show in 2015: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (KAVP), Pennsylvania

PITTSTON TWP. — The idea to bring an air show back to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport took off Thursday when the governing bi-county board board unanimously approved a motion directing the administrative staff to look into it.

Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien, after giving an impassioned speech on all the region has to offer — minor league baseball and hockey, large concert venues, golf courses, festivals and casinos — asked that a study be done to return the air show in 2015. O’Brien said the event doesn’t have to be held annually and could just be held every other year or every three years.

“Instead of thinking why we can’t do things, let’s start thinking of ways we can,” O’Brien said.

The airport last hosted an air show in 2000, said Barry Centini, director. That was just before the airport underwent a massive renovation project.

“We have to see if logistically we can handle it,” he said. “We have a totally different airport now. Parking, for instance, could be a major issue.”

Centini said the airport hosted 18 air shows. Some were profitable, he said, and others lost money. He said the airport would have to come up with about $300,000 up front, but O’Brien said he is hopeful corporate sponsors would offset the cost.

O’Brien noted the Lehigh Valley airport hosted an air show and had several major sponsors.

“If Lehigh Valley can do this, we certainly can,” he said. “It will take time and effort, I realize that. But the people of this region look forward to it and they will support it.”

O’Brien said parking areas can be designated off the airport side “within one exit off I-81” and the airport can find a partner to offer transportation back and forth.

Lackawanna County Commissioner Patrick O’Malley suggested to start small and grow the event.

“It’s a great way for us to showcase our new airport,” he said.

With that, O’Brien made a motion to direct Centini and the airports staff to review the possibility of hosting an air show in 2015. O’Brien, O’Malley and Luzerne County members Tim McGinley, Rick Williams and Robert Lawton approved the action.

Centini cautioned the board it may prove difficult to find sponsors to cover most of the costs of an air show.

“We’ll contact some companies that manage these events and see what they think about having one at this site,” he said. “The configuration of the airport is totally different than it was in 2000.”

Centini said the air show was discontinued when major construction projects began, including the addition of a new terminal building, a parking expansion, new air traffic control tower and a roadway expansion project. He noted that in the 18 years, the air shows grossed about $500,000.

Centini said military fliers such as the Navy’s Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds have also scaled back because of federal budget cuts. Without military aircraft to draw fans, Centini said, the shows would struggle.  

Original article:

Aviation Celebration to highlight Millville's WWII history as 'America's First Defense Airport'

MILLVILLE — The Millville Army Air Field Museum (MAAFM) will present its 6th Annual Aviation Celebration 2013 on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a rain date of Sunday, Sept. 29.

The static aircraft display event will commemorate Millville Airport’s important WWII aviation history as “America’s First Defense Airport.”

Rare WWII warbirds, military aircraft, classic airplanes and homebuilts will be featured as the museum celebrates aviation at this one-day aircraft fly-in event dedicated to honoring the history and technology of flight.

Admission is a $5 donation at the gate, with children six and under free. Donations will benefit the Millville Army Air Field Museum.

“We are again proud to present this extensive collection of extremely rare, classic WWII airplanes to the community,” says Chuck Wyble, MAAFM president. “We invite young and old to spend a few hours at Millville Airport. In addition, visitors will be able to see and tour through a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, one of those being retrofitted at the Boeing  Millville Airport site and that are often seen in the skies over southern New Jersey!

“Our airplane enthusiasts, young and old, will have an opportunity to see more than 20 extremely rare WWII airplanes as well as experimental and classic aircraft — all up close on the ramps at Millville Airport.

“This year our event will include a classic car show display presented by the Garden State 50s Auto Club,” adds Wyble.

In addition, Aviation Celebration 2013 will include other great aviation displays, helicopter rides, food vendors, and an area with “bouncies” for children, all available on the airport ramps.

Anyone who wishes to be a vendor should contact Lisa Jester, MAAFM executive director, at 856-327-2347 or email

“Many of the rare WWII planes are being shown by Tom Duffy, a warbird collector, who keeps them here at the airport,” continues Wyble, “and we thank him for his continued support of the museum which he continues to demonstrate by displaying his warbird collection for the public to enjoy.”

Highlighting the display is Duffy’s P-47 Thunderbolt “No Guts, No Glory,” which has special significance because of its valued history at the Millville Air Base during WWII.

Dozens of P-47 fighter/pursuit planes flew in our skies from 1941 through 1945 as pilots received flight training, doing air and ground gunnery training while awaiting orders for deployment.

“There are only 10 original Thunderbolts still flying today and we are proud to have this one at Millville Airport to commemorate its history,” adds Wyble. “And since our Aviation Celebration last year, Tom Duffy has added a P-40 Warhawk to his collection. P-40s were at the Millville Army Air Field prior to the arrival of the P-47 Thunderbolts. We are happy to showcase this plane as well.”

Along with the P-47 Thunderbolt and P-40 Warhawk, there will be four B-25 Mitchell Bombers on display: “Take-Off Time,” “Briefing Time,” “Panchito” and “Georgie’s Gal.”

Also featured will be the Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX, the P-51 Mustang Kwitcherbitchin, several North American AT-6/SNJ Texans, a U.S. Coast Guard Widgeon, and a Piper L-4H Grasshopper, along with several other L-Birds (L-16, L-6, L-2), a Vultee BT13 Valiant, and a number of Primary Trainers (PT-17, PT-19, Pt-23, PT-26), among many others — all fully restored and flying in for the event.

This year’s Aviation Celebration will also feature a World War II veterans tent, where visitors may meet these heroes and ask them about their experiences.

“We invite the public to come see and enjoy our salute to aviation while experiencing the unique ambiance of the historic airport itself. Everyone is encouraged to visit the museum which will be open to the public all day,” adds Wyble.

Original article:

California International Airshow Salinas celebrates the wild blue yonder this weekend

If British Airways is all that comes to mind when you think of international airplanes, it's time you vamp up your expectations by going to the 32nd annual California International Airshow Salinas this weekend.

The show, Saturday and Sunday at Salinas Municipal Airport, will feature a number of new aviation performances along with some old (and historic) favorites from across the globe.

The Patriots Jet Team — which includes pilots from popular aviation teams like the Blue Angels, U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the Canadian Snowbirds — will be the lead team at this year's event.

The airshow's executive director, Bruce Adams, said the Patriots performance will go beyond the ordinary.

"They're a civilian jet team, so they can do a lot of maneuvers that a lot of the military jet teams can't do," Adams said.

Salinas pilot Sean D. Tucker will be flying at the event in his "Oracle Challenger." Tucker is a highly celebrated aerobatic pilot, named as one of the Living Legends in Aviation, a 2008 National Aviation Hall of Fame inductee and winner of several aviation awards.

One of the more extreme performances will be by the young American aerobatic pilot Melissa Pemberton and her husband, Rex. This couple takes marital trust to a whole new level, as Rex will leap out of a helicopter wearing a winged fly-suit while his wife circles around him in her plane as they hammer toward Earth. This will be the Pembertons' first performance in Salinas.

The skies will host a number of classic planes, such as the 1959 Russian MiG-17 and the American T-33 Shooting Star, along with a static showcase of historic planes like the B-25 bomber and P-51 Mustang from World War II.

The event will also feature several nonaviation-themed acts, such as Metal Mulisha's first extreme motocross performance in Salinas and the ever-popular Robosaurus, a 30-foot mechanical T-Rex that sets cars on fire and then devours them.

Proceeds from the airshow will benefit more than 150 charities, adding to the $8million raised since the show began in 1981. This year, the primary beneficiary will be Rancho Cielo's Drummond Culinary Academy, a program that gives at-risk youth an opportunity to gain experience and learn the culinary and hospitality arts.

As another way to promote the program, Adams said the airshow will feature a "Food Network style cook-off" where kids will be teamed up with local top chefs to prepare an appetizer and guests will vote on the best dish. The winners of the contest will get to live an aviator's dream and go for a plane ride with Tucker.

With its high-caliber aviators, more than 1,000 volunteer staff members and widespread support of the community, Adams said the Salinas airshow is "one of the most respected" in the country.

"Those who come will get to experience what is truly a celebration of aviation on the central coast," Adams said.

Gates open at 9 a.m. For tickets and information, see

Original article:

Skydiving operation has Federal Aviation Administration blessing: Skydive Cape Cod at Chatham Municipal Airport (KCQX), Massachusetts

CHATHAM — Many residents believe the operations of Skydive Cape Cod — which makes dozens of flights and jumps daily — are unsafe.

A panel of six national experts answered questions from those concerned Thursday night during a discussion hosted by the town's Airport Commission.

Defenders of Skydive Cape Cod, including owner Jimmy Mendonca, say it operates within Federal Aviation Administration regulations and is safe.

Most of the nearly 100 people in attendance disagree.

Denis Glover is a full-time resident of what he said used to be a "safe, quiet town," but is no longer. He asked the panel members if they still believe in the decision-making process that deemed Skydive Cape Cod safe.

The FAA has not found any violations during repeated field inspections, said FAA deputy regional administrator Todd Friedenberg.

"We're fairly confident there is a safe operation here with regard to air traffic," he added.

Skydive Cape Cod has operated out of Chatham Municipal Airport since 2010.

Friedenberg said the FAA has three missions: "safety, safety, safety." During observations — unannounced and announced — over the past month of operations by Skydive Cape Cod, inspectors "haven't noted any anomalies," he said.

The Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission has made four unannounced trips to inspect Skydive Cape Cod in the past month, said Andrew Mihaley, aeronautical inspector for the commission.

There were "no abnormalities" among the operations of Skydive Cape Cod during those inspections, he said.

"I have never seen anything that broke rules during my inspections," Mihaley said.

But many residents claim to have witnessed unsafe skydiving practices.

Heather Mackenzie said she's seen jumpers during rainy and windy days near her home on North Skyline Drive. "It seems to me these are unsafe practices," she said.

While weather conditions may look unsafe on the ground, that isn't always the case in the air, said Alan King, northeast regional director of the United State Parachute Association, a group that promotes skydiver safety.

"Things can look different from the ground," he said, "and there's nothing against jumping in the rain."

As a homeowner near Lover's Lake — the scene of a Skydive Cape Cod plane crash into the water on May 12 of last year — Richard Nurse wondered if the FAA still believes Chatham Municipal Airport is suitable for a skydiving business.

"In one word: yes," Friedenberg said.

Action was taken with regard to the Lover's Lake incident, he added. When someone in the crowd asked what type of action, Friedenberg said he could not comment or specify, drawing "boos" from the audience.

In some 1,200 to 1,300 jumps so far this year, four injuries have been reported from skydiving in Chatham, said Chris Willenborg, executive director of the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission, a division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Three of those were "minor tandem injuries," and the other was a broken ankle, he said.

After dozens of residents voiced their concerns about Skydive Cape Cod, Mendonca took the podium to ask questions of the panel.

The panel confirmed that there are no regulations on number of jumps per day or per week for skydiving; that Skydive Cape Cod was inspected at least four times over the past 40 or so days; and that Mendonca asked officials to "fully inspect" his operation.

But many residents are not satisfied.

"Citizens will not rest until the operation is ruled unsuitable," Nurse said, drawing applause and cheers from the crowd.

Original article:

New aviation center sets ground-opening: Sebring Regional Airport (KSEF), Florida

SEBRING- A grand-opening and dedication ceremony for the The Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 1240's new Aviation Development Center is Oct. 26 at the center, located on the flight line at Sebring Regional Airport.

Doors open for a meet-and-greet and tour at 9 a.m., followed by the dedication ceremony and the recognition of community and anchor sponsors at 10 a.m. The public is invited.

The EAA hosted its chapter meeting Tuesday in the new building, which has been designed as a community resource to help expand awareness and participation in aviation.

The chapter also elected Phil Lockwood of Lockwood Aviation and recent inductee to the Aviation Hall of Fame as its new president. The chapter also recognized the "long and dedicated service to the chapter of past president and charter member Dr. Ron Owen," states a news release.

Upcoming community EAA Chapter 1240 events include the first Young Eagles and pancake breakfast on Oct. 12. Breakfast will be served starting at 7:30 a.m., followed by the Young Eagle flights at 8 a.m.

The EAA Young Eagles programs provides free flights for youth ages 8 to 17, a logbook for their flight, a certificate of the flight, an online membership in EAA, and a certificate that provides them participation in an online FAA Ground School course.

The aviation center is located on the south end of the flight line at the Sebring airport next to Carter Aircraft. Travel the full length of the access road and proceed through gate 24.

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Northampton County Executive John Stoffa looking to delay Braden Airpark (N43) sales talks by 6 months

Although Northampton County Council is willing to go to court to stop the potential sale of Braden Airpark, County Executive John Stoffa said a lawsuit may not be needed any time soon.

During tonight's council meeting, Stoffa said he has negotiated a tentative agreement with the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority that would delay any sales talks through March. By then, a new county executive and council will be in place, and a resolution between a group of local pilots and the authority may emerge, Stoffa said.

"I don't want to sue the authority. They can't afford it. We can't afford it. We're in court too much already," Stoffa said.

Stoffa's announcement came moments before council passed a resolution calling on the county executive to file litigation against the authority if it proceeds with the sales plans. Council members said if the six-month delay does emerge, the resolution would still show the airport authority and future county officials how seriously they're taking the matter.

"What you've done today and this resolution, I don't think, fight each other," Councilman Scott Parsons told Stoffa.

The resolution was drafted by Robert Brown, a lawyer who has entered discussions about purchasing Braden Airpark. Brown addressed council members and encouraged them to consider subsidizing the authority $5,000 a month to ensure the airport will not be closed. He also advocated for the county to purchase Braden and create a second authority to manage it.

"It's not an investment for general aviation but an investment in the community," he said.

During a committee meeting Wednesday, no council members expressed interest in having the county purchase the property. Brown wrote in his proposal the airport authority is seeking $3.5 million for the property, although local pilots believe the value is closer to $2 million.

Charles Everett, the authority's executive director, has said the authority must sell the Forks Township facility in order to finance a $16 million court payment due in 2015 from a lost lawsuit. He has previously said the authority would not need either county's approval to move forward on any deal, though neither he or the authority's solicitor has outlined their legal reasoning.

County attorneys have opined that selling Braden would require a change in the authority's articles of incorporation. Both Lehigh and Northampton counties would have to approve those amendments, they have said.

Original article:

Fremont County Airport's annual fly-in, air show and open house set for Sept. 28

The Fremont County Airport will hosts its' annual fly-in, air show and open house Sept. 28 at the airport, 60298 U.S. 50 in Penrose.

A Fremont County news release says the day kicksoff with a pancake breakfast served from 7 to 10 a.m. and fly-in hosted by Chapter 808 of the Experimental Aircraft Association in the main hangar located next to the airport terminal office.

The air show begins at 10 a.m. with a Formation Flight demonstration by the Rocky Mountain Renegades flying their experimental Vans Aircraft RV series. That will be followed by a solo performance from Don Nelson Air Shows in a Sukhoi 26 aircraft — a Bumble Bee with a seat and a control stick. Hans Miesler from the Fremont County Airport will follow with a solo performance in his Vans RV4 plane. The RV4 is an airplane that Miesler built himself.

Depending on the weather, there also will be a number of static aircraft displays that the public can view. Airport manager Dick Baker said they expect to have a number of warbirds and classic airplanes, including a P51, a Sea Fury, and possibly a B25 aircraft.

Royal Gorge Heli Tours is scheduled to give helicopter rides and the skydiving companies will have booths set up to schedule jumps and provide information about skydiving. There will be lunch available from several food vendors.

The Fremont Starfire Cadet Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol also will have information and activities available for those interested.

Except for the pancake breakfast, admission is free to the air show and all of the aircraft displays. Activities and displays are expected to wrap up by 1 p.m.

If You Go

What: Fly-in, air show and open house

When: Breakfast is from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Air show begins at 10 a.m. with activities offered until 1 p.m.

Where: Fremont County Airport, 60298 U.S. 50 in Penrose

Info: Except for the pancake breakfast, admission is free to the air show and all of the aircraft displays.

Original article:

Polson Fly-In meets soaring expectations

POLSON — It wasn’t hard to find the Fly-In held at the Polson airport last Saturday. One just had to follow the source of roaring engines as low-flying planes spent the morning swooping through the skies above town.

Hosted by the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the event is one of several fly-ins held throughout the Mission Valley each year to raise awareness of aviation and its importance to local communities.

“We love for the townspeople to come out and see what’s here,” said experienced local pilot and Fly-In volunteer, Carmine Mowbray.

The 30 or so planes that lined the runway Saturday attracted hordes of wide-eyed aviation buffs of all ages, with over 250 pancake breakfasts being served to attendees, according to Mauri Morin, chapter president of the EAA and principal organizer of the event.

As even a casual glance could attest, Morin said that the planes were every bit as diverse as the crowd.

“It’s a good turnout and there are lots of unique airplanes this year that we usually don’t get,” said Morin.

One plane that commanded instant attention was the World War II-era AT6 owned by Kalispell’s Frank Hale. The gleaming yellow plane had formerly served the Royal Canadian Air Force before coming into Hale’s hands and undergoing careful renovation and upkeep.

Alongside the AT6 was the black and orange 1928 Travel Air owned by Hank Galpin - a centerpiece of last year’s exhibition. Back by popular demand, the plane once again took a few lucky thrillseekers for rides circling the valley.

More atypical planes included that belonging to Bob Alm of Kalispell. Just a truss of fuselage with a couple seats perched on top, one look at the bare-bones skeleton of Alm’s flying machine lets you know why he has earned the nickname “Breezy Bob.”

Alm has flown his open-air plane to every state in the lower 48, including a pilgrimmage to Kitty Hawk several years back.

“It’s built for fun,” said Alm while sharing pictures of his aerial exploits. One image taken from the wing of his plane shows him passing the World Trade Center in New York City in the 1990s.

“That was scary,” Alm said. “Lotta concrete there.”

Original article:

Official: Trenton Mercer Airport (KTTN) not being expanded, just upgraded


Three separate projects are under way at Trenton-Mercer Airport in Ewing Township, N.J., but none involve expanding the facility’s runways, an airport representative said Thursday. 

Two of the projects, estimated to run about $16 million each, are required by the Federal Aviation Administration to improve safety, said Jon Donahue, a manager for C&S Companies. The New York-based firm is working with the airport to coordinate the three projects.

Donahue presented an outline of the work on Thursday to the Delaware Regional Aviation Committee in Philadelphia. The committee advises the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission on aviation issues.

A handful of members of Bucks Residents for Responsible Airport Management attended the meeting in the main conference room of the DVRPC in the American College of Physicians Building at Independence Mall West.

The BRRAM members said they were there to gather information to use in their battle to have an Environmental Impact Statement done on the airport. The group members, who primarily are from Lower Makefield and Yardley, said the FAA should have ordered the extensive study after Frontier Airlines started providing commercial service from Trenton-Mercer in late 2012.

The airport’s flight paths cross over many neighborhoods in the two Bucks County municipalities. The Frontier Airlines flights have increased air traffic noise pollution, BRRAM members said. (The airline has temporarily discontinued its service at Trenton-Mercer while the three renovation projects are under way.)

One of the $16 million projects involves installing an Engineered Material Arresting System at the ends of the airport’s runways. The crushable concrete masses, known in aviation circles as EMAS, are used to stop an aircraft from overshooting a runway, according to the FAA.

The other $16 million project is devoted to replacing decaying taxiways, Donahue said. The work is much akin to crews replacing aging roadways, he said.

The FAA is covering 90 percent of the costs associated with the EMAS and taxiway projects, Donahue said. The rest is being financed by state and county money.

The third project should run about $4 million and involves terminal upgrades that include a baggage conveyor belt and construction of two new bathrooms, according to Donahue. The project also will expand the airport’s parking lot from 600 spaces to 1,200 spaces, he said. Mercer County is paying for that work.

Most of the renovations and upgrades should be completed by early November, Donahue said. Frontier Airlines plans to resume service at Trenton-Mercer Nov. 8, officials said.

Story, Photo Gallery and Video:

Skydiver jumps a year after near-fatal accident

MIDDLETOWN —   John Hart III’s first skydive since a near fatal accident was exactly one year in the making.

The son of John Hart II, Start Skydiving owner and Middletown Regional Airport manager, had a hard landing on Sept. 1, 2012, following what started out as just another skydive. Some would say John Hart III, 25, was lucky after his hard landing from a parachute malfunction. But he and his dad, John Hart II, believe it was divinity that allowed him to not only to walk again — after sustaining a collapsed lung and breaking three vertebrae, several ribs and his pelvis — but to also jump again.

John Hart III said he purposely chose Sept. 1 for his first jump since the accident.

“Call me nostalgic, I guess, but to me it was marking a life-altering event,” he said. “I wanted to start off another chapter of my life, and that day was important to me.”

John Hart III was training for a national skydiving competition and his jump on Sept. 1, 2012, was just like any one of his 3,000 other jumps. But when he pulled his rip cord to open his parachute, something was off.

“On deployment, when the parachute opened, I realized it didn’t feel quite right and I noticed I had a couple broken lines,” he said. “I turned right, turned left and it seemed to steer okay. But what I hadn’t done is one of the biggest thing and what you should do on every single skydive is practice what is called flaring, or slowing the parachute down which is what you do when you land.”

Had he not made that crucial mistake, he would have cut his parachute and used his reserve, and he would have likely been able to compete in a national skydiving competition he was training for.

He started to flare his parachute at around 30 feet, but as soon as he did that it collapsed. He swung up in the air and then slammed against the grassy field on his back. After the immediate impact he was numb, but soon he felt the excruciating pain. He did have the awareness, he said, to take his phone out of his jumpsuit and call 911.

His father saw the whole thing as he deployed his parachute moments earlier.

“What I noticed immediately was a bubble on top of his canopy that was deformed so I knew something was wrong,” John Hart II said. The veteran of around 15,000 skydiving jumps knew he had to cut away, but he didn’t and knew it would not be a good landing. He landed in a field away from the hangers.

He descended as quickly as he could, landed toward the hangar — yelling to call 911 as he approached the ground — and when he landed, shed his parachute, grabbed his medical bag (the elder Hart is a former Army Special Forces medic) and took off toward his son.

“And honest to God, I thought I lost him,” John Hart II said. “And the first words out of my mouth were, ‘Not today God. Don’t take him this way.’ ”

Dr. Jennifer Smail, an orthopaedic spine surgeon at Atrium Medical Center, performed the near nine-hour second surgery just days after the accident.

While the Harts said it was a one in a million chance he’d be able to survive the accident and a one in 10 million chance he’d be able to walk again, Smail hesitated to put any odds on the recovery.

“This was such an unusual injury that it would be difficult to put a numeric odds on it,” she said.

But no matter the odds, the recovery was quick, Smail said.

Not only could he walk — though in pain — the day after his pelvic surgery, six months after John Hart III’s accident he started training to skydive at a simulator in Florida. He was cleared to jump 10 months after the accident.

John Hart III said Smail was hesitant about clearing him to jump, and jokingly said, “I’m her fixed person, she doesn’t want to see me break again.”

And though Smail cleared him, his dad had a condition: “He had to be in the best shape of his life,” John Hart II said.

Smail said the injury and circumstances surrounding it “had the potential to be a very bad situation.”

But motivation, passion and desire were contributing factors, in addition to the Harts’ faith in God, in John Hart III’s recovery

“In his favor, he is a very motivated and healthy individual who wanted to get back doing what he loved so much,” she said. “And I’ve seen (the power of prayer) do some miraculous things for people.”

Story and Photo:

B-25 coming to Enid Woodring Regional Airport (KWDG), Enid, Oklahoma

ENID, Okla. — A B-25 Mitchell World War II-era bomber will be on display beginning Monday at Enid Woodring Regional Airport.

The B-25J “Maid in the Shade” will be at Woodring from about noon Monday through Sept. 29.

The historic airplane, which is owned by the Arizona wing of the Commemorative Air Force, will be available for the public to tour, as well as for paid flights.

There is no charge for touring the aircraft, and members of the crew will be on hand to answer questions about Maid in the Shade. Ground tours are available 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Flights cost $395 for a ride in the waist gunner position, and $650 for the flight deck.

The flights involve about a 45-minute experience, including 25-30 minutes of flight time.

Flights are scheduled for Sept. 27-29.

Call (480) 322-5503 to reserve a spot or email

Maid in the Shade was manufactured at the North American Aviation plant in Kansas City and delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force on June 9, 1944.

On July 7, 1944, it was flown to Africa, where it was delivered to the 3rd Air Facility Depot.

Later that fall,  it was picked up by the 319th Bomb Group, 437th Squadron at Serraggia Airbase, Corsica.

There it was assigned Battle Number 18.

The plane then proceeded to fly 15 combat missions over Italy between Nov. 4 and Dec. 31, 1944. The majority of the targets were railroad bridges.

After its wartime experience, the plane was used as a commercial bug sprayer.

It was donated to the CAF in 1981. Restoration of the plane was not completed until 2007.

The twin-engine B-25 Mitchell was named after Gen. Billy Mitchell, and is best known as the aircraft used in the historic “30 seconds over Tokyo” raid in 1942.

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