Saturday, September 21, 2013

Airport manager changes approach to American-made snowplow: Pratt Regional (KPTT), Kansas

Once again, the Pratt Airport Authority is going to try to find a vehicle to plow snow at the Pratt Regional Airport that fits the made in America criteria of 60 percent of vehicle has to be made in America.

That has proved to be an elusive goal.

For two years the airport authority has searched for a vehicle that meets the criteria but the closest they have come is 56 percent, said Pratt Regional Airport Manager Reid Bell the monthly Airport Authority Board meeting.

The airport has federal entitlement money available to purchase a $110,000 truck with a snowplow.

The federal money will pay for 90 percent of the purchase price of the truck but it also requires that 60 percent of the vehicle has to be made in America.

The search had gotten so frustrating that Bell was ready to quit looking.

"I was ready to pull the plug," Bell said.

However, he decided to try again and this time he is going to focus on finding a tractor with a plow that meets the 60 percent made in America criteria.

Funds are available through the state to purchase the vehicle that do not require the 60 percent made in America but they are a 50-50 match so the investment would be much higher for the airport.

Getting bids for a new building to house the new snow removal vehicle is also proving to be a challenge.

Over the past to years the airport authority has received three bids. They got two bids the first year but they were both so high they were thrown out.

The second year they got a bid of $400,000 that was $100,000 above the engineer's estimate. It looks like they may have to go with the bid if they want a building because no other bids have come in, Bell said.

The airport is still making repairs to facilities on the airport after the storm in August that had 100 mph to 110 mph winds.

The Fixed Base Operator, T600 Crescent Oil, a hangar wall and a T hangar all suffered damage. Many repairs have been made costing from $50,000 to $60,000.

The GLM building suffered some water damage when the wind blew water in the building. Repairs are being made to make it more watertight.

Original article:   http://www.pratttribune.com

Keys congressman gets Navy meeting over jet noise

U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, a Democrat who represents the Keys, has secured a meeting with Monroe County officials and Dennis McGinn, assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy for energy, installations and environment.

The topic of the Oct. 3 session in Washington, D.C., is a Navy environmental impact statement that, if approved by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, would allow increased flight and training operations out of Naval Air Station Key West's Boca Chica Field.

Also outlined in the pending final EIS is permission to replace F-18 Super Hornet jet fighters with the newer F-22 Lightnings.

"I think that Monroe County's representative was able to get a meeting in D.C. is pretty significant," said Lower Keys resident Don Riggs, a member of the county's advisory EIS committee.

Riggs said Monroe County would be represented at the meeting by Mike Davis and John Abbot of Doral-based consulting firm Keith and Schnars, which the county contracted to help analyze the voluminous EIS. Davis is vice president and director of planning; Abbott is director of environmental science and water resources planning.

The county's primary concerns with increased flight operations out of Boca Chica revolve around impacts on surrounding homeowners subject to jet noise as visiting jet squadrons practice carrier take-offs and landings.

Navy officials considered four options for upgrading NAS operations, one of those being no action. They selected an alternative that would increase the number of flight operations out of Boca Chica from 47,500 annually up to 52,000. A take-off and landing are considered individual flight operations.

The NAS Key West-specific EIS is not to be confused with the final Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing EIS, which governs future operational capabilities in more than 2.6 million square miles of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

That report was released earlier this month and was also the subject of extensive local vetting and comment. Garcia's staff did not provide comment by press time on Friday.


Original article:   http://www.keysnet.com

Aircraft discovered in Lake Norman raising questions

LAKE NORMAN, N.C. —

 A plane found in Lake Norman is raising many questions.

The FAA told Eyewitness News a dive team first saw the plane when they were looking for a drowning victim in Lake Norman. Divers from another fire station, doing practice drills on the water with sonar, knew as soon as they spotted it they needed to get a closer look.

"They did a (primary) search of the plane just to make sure there wasn't any obvious victims or anything that stood out," Battalion Chief Kent Davis said.

Rescue workers said the doors of the plane couldn't be opened. The tail is 80 feet under the water, the nose 100. The FAA is involved, but they wouldn't say if the plane will be brought out of the water. Charlotte firefighters say they can't get the plane out unless it's part of an investigation, but they do want to know why it's in there.

"There's the folklore of drug runners on the lake and things like that," Davis said. "At this time it's just working with the FAA to determine whose plane it was and find out how it got there."

Neighbors believe someone has to know something about it.

"If there's a plane in there no doubt somebody should have reported a plane missing," Dick Mahoney said. "Family reporting pilots, it's very strange."

Mahoney has lived in this neighborhood for years and never heard of a plane crashing into the lake, never to be found.

"They can't let something like that go," he said.

Story, Video and Comments/Reaction:   http://www.wsoctv.com

  
Story, Video and Photos:  http://www.wistv.com

California men get 37 months in Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport (KLBB) marijuana bust

Arrested ferrying marijuana, hashish, psychedelic mushrooms on Piper PA-28-181 Archer II (N342TA) 
 
Two men arrested in April at Lubbock’s airport with marijuana, hashish and psychedelic mushrooms on a private airplane were sentenced Friday, Sept. 20, to 37 months in federal prison. 

Michael Gallanter, 48, and Ethan Oliver Wynne-Wade, 31, each pleaded guilty in June to one count of possession with intent to distribute between 50 and 100 kilograms of marijuana.

Both men are from San Francisco.

U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings allowed them to report voluntarily to prison by Oct. 25.

As part of a plea agreement in the case, charges against both men of possession of hashish and psilocybin with intent to distribute were dropped.

The two men were arrested when they landed a Piper Cherokee at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport for a refuelling stop. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s air interdiction department, acting on a tip, and Lubbock police, made the arrest.

Gallanter, the pilot, had filed a flight plan from California to Atlanta, according to law enforcement reports at the time. The airplane was rented from the Travis Air Force Base Aero Club in Rio Vista, Calif., according to court documents.

After the arrest, Gallanter initially told investigators someone he met at a coffee shop asked him to deliver some duffel bags to Atlanta, but denied knowing the contents.

Cummings’ sentence was at the low end of the U.S Probation Office’s recommendation of 37 to 46 months.

Assistant Federal Public Defender Helen Liggett, who represented Wynne-Wade, offered a summary of several videos that she’d hoped to play in court on his behalf.

In arguing for a low sentence for Wynne-Wade, Liggett cited numerous letters she’d received on her client’s behalf supporting his pre-trial release on bail, along with letters submitted while sentencing was under consideration urging leniency.

Liggett said the letters and the videos portrayed Wynne-Wade as a non-violent person and a peacemaker in his community.

One of the people who spoke in the videos, she said, gave a statement praising Wynne-Wade’s work in helping establish a community center in a San Francisco neighborhood.

Another person in the videos recounted an incident in which Wynne-Wade confronted a homeless person breaking into a vehicle and dealt with the situation by offering the person more money to assist with his needs.

The videos weren’t played because court personnel couldn’t find a way to confine the image to a projection screen at the side of the courtroom.

Liggett said a minimum sentence would be best, because if her client received more prison time, “he would come out of prison not as fine a man as he was when he went in.”

Gallanter addressed the court.

“I apologize to the court for the trouble I’ve caused, and I apologize to my family, friends and fiancee for what I have put them through,” Gallanter said.

Cummings, who usually moves quickly through the sentencing ritual, paused for a minute or so and looked out over the courtroom before pronouncing sentence.

The sentence includes three years’ supervised release for each man.


Original article:  http://lubbockonline.com
 
Related: 
http://www.everythinglubbock.com


San Francisco pilot, passenger plead guilty in Texas marijuana flight, arrested at Lubbock Aero -- Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport (KLBB), Texas: Piper Archer III, N342TA

http://registry.faa.gov/N342TA

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/N342TA

http://flightaware.com/photo

With annual Fly-In, Barwick-Lafayette Airport (9A5) manager looks to new horizons

Attendees at the annual Barwick-LaFayette Fly-In on Saturday, Sept. 28, are likely to notice several new faces.

The terminal has undergone more than a facelift. The rebuilt facility opened this spring, and the airport has a new manager whose goal is to make the local airport more appealing to businesspersons, pilots and citizens.

Todd Landry is a Florida-born pilot who always knew he wanted to work with planes.

“ I grew up in Orlando,” he said. "When I was a little kid, I wanted to be an airline pilot."

Landry has worked in nearly all aspects of the flight business and has enough experience — both in and out of the cockpit — to know what makes a regional airport desirable and successful for pilots, passengers and citizens.

"Right out of high school, I started working at an airport re-fueling airplanes,” he said. “I got all my flight ratings: commercial, multi-instrument, and so on.”

Landry spent 13 years as a corporate pilot. That role found him flying for hospitals and restaurants, including piloting for the founder of Carraba’s restaurants. But while the job was exciting, its hours were a drag.

“I'd be gone for two weeks at a time, then come home and he (the client) would say ‘you guys have three days off,’ and then the very next morning he'd call us at 5 in the morning – ‘hey, we've got to go out to Dallas or wherever.’ So that didn't work," Landry laughed.

Landry said he hoped to become a commercial airline pilot, but, discouraged by the events of 9/11, he decided to leave the cockpit and pursue a career in airport management instead.

After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in aviation management from the University of Southern Illinois, he worked for both major Orlando airports and most recently was manager of the Richard B. Russell Regional Airport in Floyd County.

"I've worked in aviation probably a little over 23 years,” he said. "I love it here.”

And after being in LaFayette for a few months, Landry has identified a few changes he would like to see in the future.

“This airport has a lot of room to grow,” he said. “There's room for improvement."

The biggest item on his wish list is buying about 20 acres available behind the terminal and using that space to build more hangers and extend the taxiway.

At present, no funds have been earmarked for more construction at the airport. The city council would have to budget and approve such a project and no funds have been earmarked for airport construction, including the list of proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax projects set for a vote in November.

On a more immediate and manageable scale, Landry hopes to expand refueling facilities at the regional airport.

Currently, only small-engine planes that use av (aviation) gas can buy fuel at the Barwick-LaFayette airport; those seeking jet fuel have to be re-directed to another facility.

"It kind of hurts when someone comes in with a turbine aircraft and we tell them there's no jet fuel. They have to go to Chattanooga or Rome or somewhere,” he said.

Availability of jet fuel could also attract larger, and more fuel thirsty, aircraft to regularly visit LaFayette.

"If I were to get a Gulfstream III in here, we could make $10,000 off one aircraft,” he said. "We had the lieutenant governor fly in last week and the governor the week before. And I know right now they have to tanker their fuel, so they don't have to purchase any here."

Jet fuel would add a draw for corporate aircraft as well, he said, which would be a boost to local economic development in terms of businesses looking for reasons to relocate or expand to a new area.

Overall, adding jet fuel to the airport is not only feasible but would not be too costly as much of the equipment is already available.

"We do have a jet tank already," he said. "I've had someone look at it, and it would be about $6-7,000 to get it back operating. But then, what I want to do is get a jet truck and an av gas truck so we can go out and do full service instead of self-serve.”

Other things the airports needs are not so easily remedied, though, Landry said.

"We are restricted," he said. "We're kind of land-locked where we have buildings on this side and the road over here. We can go wider with it, but we just did that about 10 years ago. I don't know if we could ever re-route that road around."

Today’s runway is one mile long, but, ideally, Landry said it needs to stretch for at least another 1,000 to 1,500 feet. That increase in length would allow room for the larger planes, more business and bigger bucks for the airport.

Right now, the airport is surviving on its steady business of mostly local flying enthusiasts, industrial transport and businesspersons come to view the area.

The airport can see between approximately two and 15 planes touch down each day, depending on the weather, Landry said.

He hopes to draw in a few more by ramping up advertisement of the airport’s proximity to the municipal golf course, and making a stopover round of golf more appealing to flying businesspersons.

"Eddie, the manager of the golf course, said that anytime somebody calls us, letting us know that they're coming in to play golf, they'll deliver some golf carts over here that morning."

Landry said local industries use the airport for essential manufacturing transport just as often golfers and visiting businessmen.

"The businesses like Roper over here — and (Clark-Cutler-McDermott) just opened up their new plant — they have to fly parts in when they get behind...They fly parts in the middle of the night when a lot of people won't see them."

And because no scheduled airlines fly here, airport traffic is rarely noticed by the majority of LaFayette’s citizens, Landry said.

"We get the governor and the lieutenant governor, they fly in here. That's making money for the city,” he said. "We've had people come in for horse shows…And just general business meetings around the city, people will fly in for."

The airport also can become a critical asset during emergencies, Landry explained.

“The airport allows medical flights for sick or injured people and organ transports,” he said. “Also, if a natural disaster was to occur, supplies could be flown into LaFayette’s airport.”

He hopes that this year’s Fly-In will showcase the airport and its potential, and educate the public about its steady, determined growth can help make the city economically stronger.

For anyone unable to make the Fly-In or who want to come back for more, Landry ex-tends an open invitation to the public to come visit the airport anytime.

"Feel free to come out and watch the planes,” he said.

And for anyone interested, flying lessons are available. “There are two instructors on the field. Learn to fly and get a better idea."

For more information on the Barwick-LaFayette airport, contact Todd Landry at 706-638-7071.

Close-up with Todd Landry

Hometown:
Orlando, Fla.

Childhood dream: To become an airline pilot

Previous FBO experience
: Orlando Sanford International Airport, Orlando International Airport, Richard B. Russell Regional Airport (Rome/Floyd Co.)

Education: B.S. in aviation management from Southern Illinois University

Family: Married to wife Tami for 22 years; three daughters; Caitlyn, Brooke and Savanna

Contact: Barwick-LaFayette Municipal Airport, 706-638-7071

Read more: CatWalkChatt - With annual Fly In LaFayette airport manager looks to new horizons

Why leave Adams out of Reno Air Races?

Voices/Letters
 
September  20, 2013 11:46 PM 

Congratulations to the Reno Air Race Association on another successful National Championship Air Race. However, I do not understand how you can celebrate 50 years of racing in Reno and honor the heroes of 1964 without including Wayne Adams.

Wayne won the inaugural cross country race in 1964 and served in a variety of capacities over the years, including stints as the director of operations for the races, executive director of the Air Race Association and emeritus member of the board of trustees. Besides that, he is a Reno native and the only name on the original Harold’s Club trophy who is still alive today.

I have had friends asking me this week “if we are celebrating 50 years of Reno Air Racing and the legends from 1964, why is there no mention of Wayne?”  I’m wondering the same thing.

Leslie Adams, Reno


Original article:  http://www.rgj.com

Flabob Airport (KRIR) Cafe soaring again

After being grounded for an extensive remodel, Flabob Airport Cafe is flying high under new ownership.

The 68-year-old restaurant, at 4130 Mennes Avenue in Jurupa Valley, had closed on June 15 for its first major overhaul in more than two decades. The iconic eatery, known for its historical aviation decor and comfort food, re-opened at 6 a.m. on Sept. 16 to a packed room.

“The place always had lots of character,” said Mark Lightsey, 52. A restorer of antique planes, he’s one the 90 tenants at the 100-acre airport and a cafe habitue. “But now I see there was always this little gem hiding underneath.”

Spiffed up from a $40,000 rehabilitation, this polished jewel gleams with new floors, new upholstery, a new counter and laminated table tops.

“The building needed some TLC,” said William E. Sawin, Sr., Flabob’s president and CEO. “We didn’t want to lose the flavor, but provide a whole new focus as a destination.”

A busy place, especially on weekends, the café attracts 120 patrons a day who spend about $10 each. As part of its overhauled image, the restaurant will offer catering services. There also are plans to increase its current 60-person capacity to 75 by converting the adjacent 144-square-foot storage facility into an extended dining area.

From top to bottom, inside and out, the 2,000-square-foot restaurant received an exterior paint job, new flooring, wiring and plumbing, a new logo and a new kitchen. Crews scrubbed everything from the fireplace masonry to the wall-mounted propellers to the ceiling fans, rafters and the 1947 mural that originally hung in a dance hall.

Flabob Airport Cafe supposedly originated as the World War II cookhouse of the NCO Club at Camp Haan, the anti-aircraft auxiliary of March Field.

After Camp Haan was closed after the war, farmers could buy its buildings for a buck each.

Pilot Flavio Madariaga persuaded officers that he was a farmer by showing a photograph he had taken of himself amidst some borrowed barnyard animals. Madariaga dragged the cookhouse to Flabob, a dirt airstrip which he and his business partner, Bob Bogen, bought in 1943 and anointed “Flabob” as a hybrid of their first names. Madariaga added the spacious porch and stone fireplace and created the social heart of the airport.

Beth LaRock, the airport’s manager and director of operations, said the staff reframed all of the historic photographs and preserved and rearranged most of the memorabilia.

No longer suspended over diners’ heads, the large radio -controlled planes repose on shelves. “Much easier to clean,” LaRock said.

Customers weren’t the only ones who complained about the cafe’s grease and dirt. Within the past two years, the county health department had downgraded the restaurant three times until it hit C level.

The cafe’s new proprietors, who own the restaurant but lease the building from the airport, are Jerry Miles, a pilot, and his girlfriend, Aurora Diaz, of Cherry Valley.

Miles, 66, has operated a catering business since 1995 and until several months ago, the cafe at the Rialto Municipal Airport.

“I want to provide good food, good service and a good, clean atmosphere at Flabob,” Miles said. Diaz, 61, revamped the menu with healthier fare, using fresh rather than frozen vegetables.

She’s also designated menudo as a weekend staple.

Although Lightsey is pleased with the changes, he frequents the cafe for the camaraderie. “We sit and solve the problems of the world,” he said. “The food is secondary.”

Story and Photo Gallery:  http://www.pe.com

Carolinas HealthCare’s planes used for business, personal trips

 Michael Tarwater, the CEO of one of the nation’s largest hospital chains, enjoys a rarely discussed perk: The freedom to fly planes owned by the nonprofit system for business and pleasure.

Flight logs provided by Carolinas HealthCare System show Tarwater took at least 29 personal flights on the system’s planes from 2008 through 2012. During that time, he has also been on board 101 flights that the system said were for business.

Tarwater’s personal flights are counted as part of his compensation, which totaled $4.8 million in 2012, according to the hospital system.

Widely recognized for guiding Mecklenburg County’s largest employer through a period of remarkable growth, Tarwater has also honed another skill: He’s an accomplished pilot.

Tarwater served as co-pilot on more than half of the Carolinas HealthCare flights he was aboard during the five years ending in 2012, system records show. He holds an Airline Transport Pilot certificate, the highest license issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The hospital system owns five planes and three helicopters, which are used mainly for transporting patients and organs.

Tarwater declined to be interviewed, but he told the Observer that since 2008 he has reported an average of $2,475 per year as income attributable to his personal flights. The personal travel was reported in accordance with IRS guidelines, officials said.

But IRS rules allow Tarwater to value those flights at amounts far lower than the cost of operating the planes. Had he chartered the flights from a private company, he likely would have paid roughly $20,000 a year, on average, the Observer found.

A number of Tarwater’s personal trips were to Dothan, Ala., where his daughter and grandchildren live. Others were to Gulf Shores, Ala., near Pensacola, Fla., where his father lives.

In one typical case, Tarwater flew from Charlotte to Dothan on Sept. 28, 2012, and returned two days later. SkySouth, a charter company based in Burlington, N.C., would have charged about $4,900 for the trip, the company’s general manager said.

Calls to five other systems suggest the practice of using hospital planes for personal travel isn’t common. A number of systems – including Novant Health, Duke University Hospitals, UNC Hospitals and the Mayo Clinic – say they do not allow executives to use their aircraft for personal flights.

Some experts believe the practice is rare – and questionable.

“It seems inappropriate for them to use (planes) for personal purposes, given that they are being supported via tax exemption,” said Gerard Anderson, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management. “So we are all paying for the vacation the CEO is taking.”

As nonprofits, Carolinas HealthCare hospitals in Mecklenburg, Cabarrus and Lincoln counties get tax exemptions worth more than $100 million a year, the Observer estimated. CHS, the state’s largest hospital system, owns more than $1 billion in tax-exempt property and pays no corporate income taxes or sales taxes.

The system, which brings in about $7 billion in annual revenue, says it earns its tax exemptions by providing extensive benefits to the community, including more than $280 million last year in free and discounted care for uninsured patients who can’t afford to pay their bills.

Tarwater’s personal trips accounted for fewer than 1 percent of the flights taken by CHS planes, the system said.

All personal use of the system’s airplanes “follows IRS guidelines and Carolinas HealthCare System policies,” the system said in a written statement.

With CEO approval, other senior CHS executives are also allowed to use the planes for personal travel, the system said. CHS did not identify other executives who have done that. Such flights are “very rare,” and are reported as income in keeping with IRS guidelines, said system spokeswoman Amy Murphy.

The vast majority of Carolinas HealthCare’s business travel is booked on commercial airlines, the system said. But from 2008 to 2012, executives boarded about 9 percent of CHS flights.

The system said it considers many factors when deciding whether to use its planes for business trips: “short time frames to coordinate and book travel, inadequate commercial service at destinations, long drive times, time that would be spent waiting for departures and connections of commercial aircraft, and an ability to work more efficiently.”

Frequent flier


Tarwater has frequently co-piloted several Carolinas HealthCare planes, including a twin-engine business jet called a Cessna Citation. According to the FAA, he has a “type rating” that authorizes him to serve as the pilot-in-command in a Citation.

But he has done much of his recent flying on the system’s six-seat Beechcraft Baron, a twin-engine piston plane that Carolinas HealthCare acquired in 2011 for $700,000.

Typically, the plane is used about six days each month, data obtained by the Observer shows. The other planes in the CHS fleet are used far more frequently. Unlike the other CHS aircraft, the Baron generates no revenue because it’s not chartered and not used to transport patients.

Of the 93 trips that CHS reported for the Baron through the end of 2012, Tarwater served as a co-pilot on 29 of them – or about 31 percent. Nineteen of those flights were personal trips, according to Carolinas HealthCare data.

One former airplane mechanic said he saw golf clubs being loaded on the plane about a half-dozen times. Pilots, he recalled, sometimes said, “I’m ferrying the golfers today.”

Murphy, the CHS spokeswoman, noted that the Baron is smaller than the system’s other four planes, and less expensive to operate. She said the system bought the plane as an economical way to take executives on shorter business trips – and to areas served by small airports that aren’t designed for larger planes.

When the system bought the Baron, it did not have to add hangar space or hire more pilots or mechanics, Murphy said.

Fueling and insuring it costs more than $50,000 a year, the system said.

‘All taxpayers are paying’

To be sure, personal trips on company planes are much more common in parts of the for-profit world.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan received $477,000 worth of personal use of corporate aircraft in 2012, for example. Coca-Cola Bottling Co. chief executive Frank Harrison III received more than $133,000 of personal aircraft use last year.

But nonprofit experts say it’s extremely rare for nonprofit leaders to take personal flights on planes owned by their organizations. Taxpayers are essentially subsidizing such flights, experts say, because they must pay higher taxes to make up for what nonprofits don’t pay.

“I think it’s a travesty and it’s a waste of their tax-exempt status,” said Ken Berger, CEO of Charity Navigator, a watchdog group that studies nonprofits. “All taxpayers are paying for this.”

Pablo Eisenberg, another nonprofit expert, called it an “outrage.”

“That is not a common practice (in the nonprofit world), and it shouldn’t be allowed. Period,” he said.

Novant Health, which runs the three Presbyterian hospitals in Mecklenburg County, owns a twin-engine turboprop that senior leaders use for business trips around the system’s four-state coverage area. But “personal use for recreational or entertainment purposes is not allowed” on the plane, Novant said in a written response to questions.

One exception, the system said, was a 2012 case in which a senior leader used the plane to attend a family funeral while also meeting a work obligation. The system didn’t disclose the executive’s identity or the flight’s destination.

UNC Hospitals leases two helicopters for patient transports, and also buys access to planes owned by another organization. But the system does not allow its officials to use the aircraft for personal flights, spokesperson Karen McCall said.

Duke Medicine owns two helicopters, but no planes. That system uses the helicopters for medical purposes, but prohibits personal flights.

An ethical question

Tarwater obtained his Airline Transport Pilot certificate in 2005, according to the FAA. By then, he had already logged nearly 1,600 hours of flight time. Among his accomplishments: piloting a transatlantic crossing from Nottingham, England to North Carolina.

Piloting the system’s planes helps Tarwater fulfill requirements aimed at keeping flight skills sharp. Pilots who want to carry passengers or navigate using electronic instruments, for instance, have to show recent flight experience.

Tarwater does not schedule any of his flights on Carolinas HealthCare planes for the purposes of meeting such requirements, the system said. But Murphy noted that “any flight during which a licensed pilot functions as a pilot is counted for purposes of maintaining currency requirements.”

Some charity experts question whether nonprofit leaders should be allowed to use planes owned by their organizations to pursue their love of flying. Said Eisenberg: “I think it’s ethically to be criticized.”


Carolinas HealthCare System responds:

CEO Michael Tarwater declined to be interviewed for this story. But the system provided written answers, along with this statement:

As the only hospital-based, accredited fixed-wing air ambulance service based in the Carolinas, MedCenter Air’s elite team serves a vital role in transporting critically ill and injured patients and operates 24 hours per day, 7 days per week and 365 days per year. Not only do patients of Carolinas HealthCare System benefit from this service, but so do the patients of more than 50 other organizations who contract with MedCenter Air for air ambulance charter services.

All personal use of MedCenter Air fixed-wing aircraft follows IRS guidelines and Carolinas HealthCare System policies. Of the 4,064 flights by MedCenter Air’s fixed-wing aircraft between 2008 and 2012, the vast majority involved the transport of critically injured or sick patients. Only 29 of these flights, or less than one percent, involved personal travel by Carolinas HealthCare System’s CEO.

Furthermore, Carolinas HealthCare System does not respond to the hearsay comments provided to us by the Observer from certain unnamed sources. We question the Observer’s use of any sources without fully investigating possible motives behind their participation in a story.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com