Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Career of Williamsburg female pilot & mechanic is taking off (With Video)

KING & QUEEN – No one knows the phrase, "This is a man's world," better than 24-year-old Anna Brown.

Brown, of Williamsburg, is one of only a handful of female airplane mechanics and licensed pilots in the country.  To top it off, she is the owner of her own business, RAB Aviation Services, LLC, in Petersburg, and often works at the Middle Peninsula Regional Airport (MPRA) in Mattaponi.

Women like Brown make up for less than two percent of the 329,000 airplane mechanics and only six percent of the 600,000 pilots nationwide, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

"Being a woman in aviation isn't without its issues," she said. "A lot of the older pilots and mechanics started when there were no women in the industry. Some still believe that women are going to steal their jobs." 

Brown knew that she would face these obstacles when she chose the profession of airplane mechanic, yet she was unfazed. Encouraged by her father, Richard, a NASA engineer and "aviation nut," she always felt comfortable in the aviation world.

"When I told my mom that I wanted to be an airplane mechanic, she encouraged me to get my pilot's license first, so I did," she said.

While in high school, Brown worked on getting her pilot's license, and always kept her sights set on the future.

"I didn't like high school very much," she said. "I always felt like I was marching to a different drummer. Aviation was my life and not everyone understood."

Brown first flew solo in 2007 and received her pilot's license two years later.

After graduating from high school in 2008, she studied airplane  mechanics at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) in Chesapeake. Though she was not a fan of high school instruction, she was a star in the aviation classroom. She only missed 12 days out of the two years it took to complete the curriculum at the school 75 miles away.

"My mom said, 'Wow, you must really like this'," she said.

During her time at AIM, Brown worked on a lot of extracurricular projects, including the Restoration Newport Project, which built from scratch a World War I fighter plane for Gerald Yagen, the owner of the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach.

She took her first aviation job in Georgia and after a layoff, then worked for commercial airlines for one month. It didn't take Brown long to realize she was not comfortable with the commercial airline world. "I'm detail oriented and I have to do things certain ways. Some individuals like to cut corners, and I get hung up on the corners," she said.

Brown returned to Virginia and worked in Hanover County until July 2011. In 2012, she decided to start her own business, RAB Aviation Services, LLC, which was first based at the MPRA in King & Queen.

"It was hard at first. I had to do a couple of non-aviation jobs," she said. "But this year has been a lot better."

Ever since a flying friend gave Brown her first "official job," the business has taken off.

"In a year, everything has gone from struggling to much better. I enjoy it and I'm learning a lot," she said.

Brown's business, RAB Aviation Services, LLC, which she co-owns with her parents, is now located in Petersburg, though she keeps her family's 1965 Piper Cherokee 180C "N8229W" at MPRA, and spends hours doing repairs at the airport for her clients.

Although a relatively new pilot and mechanic, Brown has already started getting noticed by her peers.

She was the sole female participant at the Wings, Wheels, and Keels flying competition on September 28 at Hummel Airfield in Topping, where she won first place in the first ever spot landing challenge.

According to Brown, it was a windy day, which influenced how many people entered the competition and how the planes flew, and high-speed cameras were used to capture the wheels' arrival over the line.

"The first round was great. A couple of people were disqualified because they landed short, and some landed very long because the winds were at 90 degrees, pushing at the aircraft," she said.

"The lighter aircrafts, which normally would excel at this competition, had to keep more power in and more speed because if they didn't, they would ground loop," which is a rapid rotation of the aircraft.

In the first round, Brown landed about 10 feet past the line and in the second round, she landed 100 feet past the line, clinching her first place position.

"There was another plane in the second round that stopped short 2 1/2 inches before the line, which disqualified it, so it was extremely close," she said. "When they gave out the award, I was so nervous. I went into the competition thinking, 'I'm not going to win this. I haven't flown in a long time.' I hadn't flown in a month."

"They gave it to me in this giant pink Barbie case and the bow was pink."

For winning first place in the spot landing challenge, Brown was awarded $2,000 in $2 bills.

"It was a really, really fun day," she said.

Brown has spent what little free time she has sharing her aviation knowledge and passion with the community.

She works with aviation centers, schools, and programs, including Denbigh High School's Aviation Academy, in Newport News.

"I couldn't imagine doing anything else besides aviation," she said.

"It's who I am."

RAB Aviation Services, LLC, offers:

• Aircraft maintenance

• Aircraft detailing

• Aircraft management

• Aircraft inspections

• Instrumental Flight Rules (IFR) and transponder certifications

• Professional photography

• Professional videography

• Aerial photography

• Flight training

• Sight-seeing flights

• Aircraft charters

• Importations and exportations

For more information on RAB Aviation Services, LLC, please visit: or contact Brown at: (678) 340-6398.

- See more at:

Beech 58P Baron, N4618M
From left to right: Mohammad Nekouie, Armando Salzano and Vincenzo Salzano

 Baton Rouge Police officer Luke Cowart and K9 Roux assisted in the search of the plane and found 10 kilos of cocaine, which hadn't been located in the initial search.

The owner of the private plane intercepted by federal agents at Metro Airport this week sought to shoulder the blame for the large cache of cocaine investigators found on board, authorities said in court filings Thursday.

 “It’s all mine,” Vincenzo “Vincent” Salzano, a Colorado businessman, told agents searching the aircraft, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge.

But authorities are evidently not buying Salzano’s claim he was the only passenger who knew of the 71.8 pounds of cocaine secreted in two gym bags aboard the Beech 58P Baron.

Salzano, his son, Armando Salzano, and son-in-law, Mohammad I. Nekouie, face federal counts of conspiring to possess and distribute cocaine and remained jailed in lieu of $1 million bond each.

The pilot, who was not arrested, told authorities he had been suspicious of his passengers but claimed he was unaware he was transporting narcotics.

Federal court filings offered new details of Tuesday’s seizure, a bust State Police say prevented $1 million worth of cocaine from being delivered to Atlanta. It was the plane’s suspicious flight plan that alerted federal agents and prompted the search of the plane when it stopped in Baton Rouge, the documents show.

The plane had flown early Tuesday from Atlanta to Weslaco, Texas, near the border with Mexico, and remained in south Texas for just three hours before turning around and stopping in Baton Rouge to refuel.

Agents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrived at Metro Airport as the plane was pulling into the Executive Aviation area.

The four men who stepped off the plane were asked to produce identification and the flight plan.

Agents explained to the elder Salzano their concerns about drugs being smuggled across the Mexican border.

He allowed the agents to search the plane and their initial sweep turned up empty. At some point, both Salzanos went to use the restroom.

Meanwhile, agents walked around the plane and, peering through a window, noticed a black gym bag in the aisle of the passenger area. The bag contained several “kilo-size bundles” wrapped in tape that tested positive for cocaine.

A Baton Rouge Police Department K-9 dog later sniffed out a second gym bag packed with cocaine behind a seat in the rear of the plane.

Upon returning from the bathroom, Vincent Salzano told the agents that “no one else on the plane knew anything about it,” according to the criminal complaint, signed by special agent Richard Estopinal of Homeland Security Investigations. All four of the men were escorted to the Transportation Security Administration office at the airport for questioning.

The elder Salzano, who has a previous conviction for distribution of cocaine, told investigators he had picked up the drugs “at the rear of a gas station near McAllen, Texas,” the complaint says.

He said his 32-year-old son was with him but had remained at the front of the gas station.

“Armando Salzano claimed that he did not know what was in Vincent Salzano’s bags,” Estopinal wrote in the complaint.

The pilot told agents he had flown for the elder Salzano on four or five occasions, earning $200 a day.

“According to the pilot, the destination of the trips was always McAllen, Texas,” the complaint says.

“The pilot admitted that he was suspicious of Vincent and Armando Salzano,” the complaint says, “but according to the pilot, Vincent Salzano told him the purpose of the trips was to buy and sell cars.”

No court dates have yet been set for the three men.

Three men are suspected of flying into the Baton Rouge airport Tuesday on a small plane carrying almost 72 pounds of cocaine.The men were arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, according to Louisiana State Police and affidavits of probable cause. They were flying from McAllen, Texas, to Atlanta on a Beechcraft 58P Baron, and stopped to refuel in Baton Rouge. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) notified Louisiana State Police that an aircraft with a suspicious flight pattern was going to land at the airport. Officials met the plane when it landed, searched the plane and discovered 71.8 pounds of cocaine, according to records. The drugs would have a retail value of about $5.5 million, based on the most recent average cocaine prices available from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. That office's most recent data, from 2010, priced cocaine at $169 per gram. The Baton Rouge Police Department said Officer Luke Cowart and K9 officer Roux found 10 kilos, or about 22 pounds of the cocaine, which hadn't been located in the initial search. The three men arrested were: Vincenzo Salzano, the 55-year-old apparent owner of the plane, his son, 32-year-old Armondo Salzano, and his son-in-law, 32-year-old Mohammad Nekouie. The hired pilot of the plane was not arrested. The Salzanos are from Aurora, Colo., and Nekouie is from Littleton, Colorado.

Officials Confirm South Florida Airman Was Killed in Plane Crash in Colombia

Air Force Master Sgt. Martin Gonzales, 39, was killed in an aircraft crash in Colombia 

Officials on Wednesday confirmed that a U.S. Airman from South Florida was killed in a plane crash Saturday in Colombia.
Air Force Master Sgt. Martin Gonzales, 39, along with two American defense contractors and a Panamanian National Air-Naval Service lieutenant, were killed when their DH-8 aircraft crashed near the Panamanian border while conducting detection and monitoring operations in support of Operation Martillo, U.S. Southern Command in Doral confirmed.

Two survivors were in stable condition after they were rescued from the crash site by Colombian military forces, officials said.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. 

Gonzales left behind his wife, Michelle, a teacher at Spanish Lake Elementary, and two young children.

"The loss and pain of losing my husband, MSgt Martin Gonzales is indescribable. He passed away very tragically while proudly serving for the US Air Force," Michelle Gonzales said in a statement Wednesday. "He loved his job and was willing to risk his own life for others."

His family may soon be impacted by the government shutdown, as they may not receive the death benefits that are extended by the Department of Defense when a family member performing military service dies.

On Tuesday the Department of Defense told NBC 6 that due to the shutdown the following are on hold for military families: the $100,000 death gratuity benefit that is usually sent automatically; other burial benefits; and travel funds to reach a loved one’s body once it is flown to the U.S.

Southcom said that life insurance for the families of service members will go through without delay.

At a news conference Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Obama expects a solution to family members of fallen soldiers being denied death benefits sometime Wednesday. 

Story and Video:

Robbing the Dead, By Dele Agekameh

Associated Aviation Embraer EMB-120, 5N-BJY, Charter Flight SCD-361, Lagos-Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS), Nigeria 

By Dele Agekameh

Published: October 9,2013

Dele Agekameh is the CEO, Quicklink International Network
Publisher, The Capitol International Magazine

A pall of sorrow, tears and grief descended on the entire country last Thursday. This was triggered by the unfortunate death of 13 people on board a chartered aircraft which was carrying the body of Olusegun Agagu, former governor of Ondo State, to Akure, the Ondo State capital, for his burial ceremony.

The aircraft crashed a few minutes after take-off from the domestic wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. Apart from the 13 victims, seven other passengers of the ill-fated aircraft who sustained injuries, including Feyisaye Agagu, the son of the late governor, were rushed to various hospitals in Lagos for treatment. One of them later died bringing the total death toll to 14.

Reports have it that the crash afforded some bad boys and hoodlums the opportunity to prey on the victims of the disaster.

This group, comprising mainly youths from Mafoluku area of Lagos where the crash occurred and their accomplices from nearby Nigerian Aviation Handling Company, NAHCO, motor park, were the first to arrive at the scene of disaster. As soon as they got there, they turned the whole arena into a stealing spree. They battled with the thick smoke that bellowed from the wreckage, with the ulterior motive of stealing from the victims while pretending to be on a rescue mission. It was as if the unfortunate incident provided them with the needed opportunity for self-enrichment.

This group successfully robbed the victims dry. The boys simply picked any item they could find around like phones, laptops, handbags and money. A guy was said to have started it all. In an attempt to rescue the injured pilot, the guy stumbled on his laptop and picked it. That degenerated into a frenzy as others started looking for what to steal.

In the melee that followed, the whole place erupted in fisticuffs as the boys fought one another over who should own what. While this ugly scene was going on, the victims were left burning inside the aircraft until fire-fighters and the police came and disperse everybody.

That was not the first time an incident of this nature happened in the country. On October 22, 2005, when a twin Engine Boeing 737 belonging to Bellview Airline crashed at Lisa Village, Ogun State, killing all the 117 passengers on board, rescuers who thronged the scene literally stole the victims blind.

Many of the youths within the vicinity of the crash, were said to have made bountiful harvest from stealing money and other valuables from the victims. Most of them were said to have used the proceeds from the satanic act to buy motorcycles, popularly called okada, which they converted to means of transport for commuters.

Such immoral behaviors are common scenes at accident spots all over the country, including scenes of fire disasters and collapsed buildings. While the victims of such unfortunate incident ruminate over their losses, majority of those who come around pretending to be pacifying them, often turn the place to an opportunity to loot and steal whatever they could lay their hands on. This bad behavior is not limited to hoodlums alone as law enforcement officers and other government officials are known to engage in such nauseating acts.

By and large, it goes to show the incalculable damage our value system has suffered in this country in recent times. Today, if your car is stuck in the mud or on a sandy terrain which are the hallmarks of some of our roads, you dare not beckon on people around, whether youths or adults, to help free your car from the trap. If you do so, you should be prepared to part with some hard-earned money as compensation for these commercial sympathizers. All is about money and nothing else. This is dangerous to the future of our youths and the future of the country as a whole.

It is a pity that nobody, not even the elders of our society or even the government at whatever level, is paying any attention whatsoever to this irritating attitude that has gained currency over the years. If all people think about anywhere they are is how to make money by all possible means, whether fair or foul, to the extent of even robbing the dead, then, there is no other way to explain it than to say that we are a cursed people. I have no apology for that.

However, the news of the crash has continued to grip the whole country with fear and trepidation. It was one crash too many.

Since 1969, the country has witnessed more than 40 air crashes and close to 1,000 deaths in the history of its aviation industry. On November 20, 1969, a Nigeria Airways BAC VC10 from London crashed on landing in Lagos, killing 87 people on board. This was followed by another one on January 22, 1973, when a Royal Jordanian Airlines Flight 707, carrying 171 Nigerian Muslims returning from Mecca and five crewmen, crashed in Kano, killing all on board. Since then, it has been a litany of crashes culminating in the Sunday, June 3, 2012 air crash involving a Dana Airlines Flight 9J 992 with 153 passengers on board.

Four months after, precisely on October 25, 2012, Danbaba Suntai, the governor of Taraba State, and five of his aides narrowly escaped death when a Cessna 208 aircraft piloted by Suntai crashed into a hill in Adamawa State. On December 15, 2012, the nation was again thrown into mourning with the news of the death of Patrick Yakowa, who was then the Governor of Kaduna State, and General Andrew Owoye Azazi (rtd), former National Security Adviser to the President. A total of six persons were burnt in the helicopter crash which occurred in the forest of Okoroba community in Nembe local government of Bayelsa State.

From all indication, it is as if the nation has not seen the last of these unfortunate air crashes that have kept on occurring every now and then. With the frequency of air crashes in the country, one might be correct to conclude that Nigeria ranks highest among African countries or developing countries with the highest prevalence of air crashes in the world.

Speaking at an aviation forum in Lagos recently, Tony Tyler, the Director-General of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), disclosed that 50 per cent of global plane crashes in 2012 occurred in Africa. According to him, African airlines recorded one accident for every 270, 000 flights for 2012, while the industry average was one accident for about 5, 000,000 flights.

Tyler, who described the figure as shocking, therefore urged African governments to invest in safety, infrastructure and capacity building for the personnel working in the aviation sector.

The Civil Aviation Act, which was passed into law in 2006, sufficiently empowered the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, to effectively regulate the operations of airlines and ensure that they adhere strictly to the rules.

But some airline owners have been accused of disobeying the same rules. Most of the airlines operating in the country are believed to be in the habit of skipping maintenance checks. They are possibly aided by some unscrupulous officials of the regulatory bodies who either allow them to postpone the checks or settle for below-the-level types for pecuniary gains.

However, the latest plane crash raises a question about the implementation of the recommendations of a report on the causes of plane crashes believed to have been submitted to the federal government by the Accident Investigation Bureau a long time ago. Perhaps, if the government and relevant aviation authorities had promptly acted on the content of the report, it is possible that last Thursday’s incident could have been averted.

It is high time airline operators in Nigeria noted that the safety of the flying public is first and foremost dependent on the proper functioning of the aircraft and its components. Maintenance plays such a crucial role in flight safety and it is the responsibility of the aircraft owners or operators to ensure that the aircraft in their fleet are properly maintained.

‘If all people think about anywhere they are is how to make money by all possible means, whether fair or foul, to the extent of even robbing the dead, then, there is no other way to explain it than to say that we are a cursed people’

Original article:

Federal Aviation Administration Recalls 800 Safety Staffers Furloughed by Shutdown: Union Leaders Still Worry About Disruptions to Air-Traffic-Control System

Updated Oct. 8, 2013 8:47 p.m. ET

By  Andy Pasztor

The Wall Street Journal 


The Federal Aviation Administration is ending furloughs for some 800 inspectors and other safety staff, but union leaders said they still worry the partial government shutdown threatens to significantly disrupt the nation's air-traffic-control system.

FAA officials on Tuesday worked out details for recalling about 15% of roughly 5,000 agency safety inspectors, airline-oversight staff and traffic-control support personnel furloughed as a result of the shutdown. But the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which represents some of the returning workers, along with about 15,000 front-line controllers, called the step a "piecemeal approach" that won't resolve "a mess of enormous proportions [that] must be stopped."

From the outset of the eight-day budget battle, air-traffic controllers were declared essential employees, and they remain protected from furloughs. But if the impasse drags on for another week or two, said NATCA President Paul Rinaldi, funding shortages in other traffic-control accounts—including technical support and training—will damage the overall system and eventually may cause flight delays.

NATCA officials on Tuesday said the furloughs hadn't resulted in capacity cutbacks or constraints anywhere in the traffic-control network.

Even before the shutdown, the FAA deferred or stretched out maintenance on aging radars and other essential equipment needed to track planes and help controllers keep them separated.

"The clock is ticking, and we're already on borrowed time," said Mr. Rinaldi, who in the past has generally refrained from criticizing the FAA and lawmakers amid budget clashes. "We're going to have equipment go down and be unable to bring it up quickly," he said.

In an interview prior to the FAA's decision, the union chief also said that since classroom instruction essentially has stopped and many on-the-job training efforts remain largely suspended, it would be more difficult to keep busy airport towers and en route control centers adequately staffed with fully certified controllers in the long term.

Even as additional FAA employees are likely to be recalled to work shortly, the furloughs already have prevented deliveries of some new jetliners by European plane maker Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co.

Separately, various aviation trade groups complained FAA personnel weren't processing aircraft registration documents, effectively blocking sales, purchases and financing of U.S.-registered aircraft. A Boeing Co. spokesman said in a statement Tuesday its jets in South Carolina will be able to be delivered with the return of the FAA staffers.

The FAA said Tuesday's employee recall covered safety inspectors responsible for companies manufacturing "the most critical aviation parts and products," as well as those providing "oversight of major airlines throughout the country."

To investigate private plane crashes, the agency's statement said, the FAA basically plans to rely on information collected from local law enforcement, but it intends to recall additional personnel if warranted by "an urgent, high-risk" safety issue.

Barring a breakthrough, Mr. Rinaldi predicted the budget pain is likely to escalate for already-strapped traffic-control facilities. The training academy for student controllers has been shut down since the spring, amid across-the-board federal spending cuts known as sequestration. Now, thanks to the shutdown, it is unclear when it will reopen. Each year, about 1,000 fledgling controllers pass through the academy as their first step toward becoming fully certified controllers, which can take several years.

Mr. Rinaldi said the current suspension of new hires and the halt in academy graduates endangers replacements for thousands of veteran controllers due to retire in the next three years.

Important parts of a controller's training occur on the job, under the supervision of more experienced coworkers. But under current budget constraints, according to Mr. Rinaldi, some trainees have been sent home because they aren't considered essential employees, and veterans don't have the time to supervise others.

A spokeswoman for Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, the union that represents a total of about 9,000 FAA inspectors and air-traffic-control technicians, said that "for every minute these inspectors are off the job, the backlog of their oversight and surveillance" tasks continues to grow.

With nearly one-third of the FAA's overall 46,000 work force still on furlough, including more than 2,000 inspectors in its Flight Standards Service, agency and union officials expect further staffing increases to ensure adequate day-to-day oversight of airlines, repair facilities, pilot-training schools and other parts of the industry. But bare-bones personnel levels also have affected longer-range projects. For example, joint industry-government efforts to redesign airport approaches and develop recurrent training programs for controllers have been stymied. Even drug- and alcohol-testing programs have been affected, prompting the FAA to bring back 25 doctors and support staff to work in the Office of Aerospace Medicine.

—Jon Ostrower   contributed to this article.


Oxford Aviation sued over loan default

PARIS — Community Concepts Finance Corp., a branch of the regional nonprofit organization, is asking a court for permission to take possession of Oxford Aviation property and equipment used as collateral for a defaulted $62,500 loan made in 1996.

According to a lawsuit filed in 11th District Court in Paris on Sept. 4, Oxford Aviation has defaulted on the terms of the loan by failing to make all payments when due.

The loan was originally made to Oxford Aviation in 1996 by the now-defunct Growth Finance Corp. of Oxford Hills as part of a regional economic development revolving loan program. According to the terms of the promissory note, included as an attachment to the lawsuit, Oxford Aviation's monthly payments were due to begin in October 1997.

To secure the loan, Oxford Aviation and its president, Jim Horowitz of Casco, put up collateral in the form of the company's equipment and inventory, as well as accounts, instruments, documents, patents, trademarks and "all other general intangibles" owned by the company, according to the 1996 security agreement.

In the event of a default, the lender has the right to enter Oxford Aviation's property at the Oxford County Regional Airport in Oxford and remove all the collateral, as well as related books, documents and invoices, the agreement insures.

According to the agreement, the lender has the right to sell, assign or lease the property as it sees fit. Proceeds from the sale of the collateral go toward expenses incurred by taking, holding and selling the collateral, then to the debt obligation, according to the agreement.

According to the suit, the promissory note was modified in October 2003 and again in February 2004.

According to a letter to Horowitz in 2003, Western Maine Finance, which took over from the Growth Finance Corp. of Oxford Hills, noted there had been some neglect of clients' accounts during the transition of the two organizations, but also acknowledged the "serious default status" of Oxford Aviation's loans.

At that time, Oxford Aviation needed to pay $14,127 to bring the loan current, and would have an adjusted opening loan balance of $51,963, which was to be paid over 30 months, according to the letter.

In February 2004, Western Maine Finance rescheduled the loan payments and affirmed it would retain its rights to foreclose or otherwise enforce the agreement by any lawful means.

According to the suit filed last month, Oxford Aviation has failed to repay the loan under the security agreement. Community Concepts Finance Corp., which replaced Western Maine Finance as the company's lender, is asking the court to either order the company to turn over the property at issue or allow it to take it.

According to 11th District Court records, Oxford Aviation did not respond within the required 20 days of the complaint filed Aug. 6. On Oct. 3, attorneys representing Oxford Aviation filed a motion to extend the deadline to respond to Oct. 8. As of midafternoon Tuesday, however, the motion had not been approved and no answer to the suit had been filed with the court.

Contacted on Tuesday, David Dubbord, attorney for Community Concepts Finance Corp., declined comment, saying he was not authorized to speak about the case. 

A message left for Community Concepts Finance Corp. Director Dennis Lajoie was not returned Tuesday afternoon.

Multiple messages left for David Johnson, one of the attorneys representing Oxford Aviation, were also not returned Tuesday afternoon, nor was a call to Horowitz at the Oxford Aviation headquarters.