Saturday, October 12, 2013

Questionable hot air balloon landings cause concern

Balloon landings no gamble, owner says

The newest hot air balloon in Saskatoon is lighting a fire under some residents.

People in College Park East say they were alarmed Thursday evening when a new slot machine-shaped balloon, owned by the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, landed behind a suburban crescent next to some railway tracks.

"It was pretty scary. We were kind of worried that he was going to hit the power lines," said resident Jim Reimer.

The president of Sundance Balloons, which operates the SIGA balloon, said the landing was planned. He said he doesn't understand what the fuss is about.

"They had a good flight. There were no issues," Barry McGonigle said Friday from Ontario.

Perceptions can be deceiving, McGonigle said. A balloon that looks like it's nearly touching down from one angle can still be safely clearing structures on the ground, he said.

"I know that we were not close to having any accidents," McGonigle said. Some people don't see it that way. Reimer said he thought the balloon was going to hit a major power line above his Brandon Place home. He called to his wife and they ran out of the house.

"We didn't know what the balloon would do if it knocked those power lines down," Reimer said.

The balloon touched down about a block away, he said.

Reimer's neighbor, Donna Seidel, said she was out for the evening when her daughter called her, agitated.

"They damn near took off the top of Owen's house," the daughter told the mother, referring to their next-door neighbor.

"I don't like to see somebody get killed just for riding around in a balloon," Seidel said.

Another resident called police, reporting that a hotair balloon had "crashed" behind her property, Saskatoon police spokeswoman Alyson Edwards said. Another caller told police the balloon had gone through his backyard and missed the power line by "inches."

"From our perspective, anytime a balloon is making an unplanned or emergency landing in a populated area, there is concern for people in that balloon and on the ground," Edwards said.

Nothing was damaged during Thursday's landing.

It was the second time police have been called to a landing of the SIGA balloon this month. On Oct. 3, officers were called to a "safe, but unplanned" landing at Queen Elizabeth School park on Taylor Street, Edwards said, adding the pilot told police there was not enough wind to make it to the planned landing site.

Hot air balloon flight is regulated by Transport Canada. The federal agency did not immediately respond to a request for information Friday afternoon. John Koempner, owner and operator of Okanagan Ballooning in B.C., said pilots have leeway on how close they can come to objects on the ground when taking off and landing. When up in the air, balloons must be at least 500 feet away from structures, said Koempner, who has about 18 years of flying experience.

If the wind stops, and a pilot can't maintain the planned route, balloons are allowed to land on a street or schoolyard, Koempner said - it's safer than waiting for the balloon to fall. Depending on the weather, landing somewhere not originally planned can happen between 10 and 15 per cent of the time, he said.

Sundance has been flying balloons safely in Saskatchewan for about 20 years, McGonigle said. The pilot at the helm of the airborne slot machine is one of the most experienced in the country, and one of 25 who work for Sundance across North America, he said, adding the pilots are all licensed and frequently complete additional training. The slot machine is the only "special shape" hot air balloon currently operating in Canada, and the only balloon of that shape in the world, McGonigle said.

"It's illogical to me why there's a flurry of activity," he said of the attention.

A press release on SIGA's website dated Sept. 19 announced the balloon's launch.

It will fly all over Saskatchewan between April and October, and take passengers on flights that last 45 to 90 minutes at sunrise and sunset.

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Ray, Michigan: Two hurt in skydiving accident in northern Macomb

A skydiver suffered life-threatening injuries Saturday night when he fell out of control and landed on a female pedestrian who was in the landing zone of an airstrip in northern Macomb County, according to state and local authorities.

The incident happened about 6:20 p.m. as members of the Midwest Freefall Sport Parachute Club conducted jumps from a grass airstrip on Kunstman Road near Romeo Plank Road in Ray Township.

A skydiver encountered difficulty during a jump and began falling out of control and struck a tree before he collided with the pedestrian on the ground, according to a news release issued by Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw.

Shaw said the skydiver and the woman on the ground were transported to a local hospital by EMS crews. The skydiver was reported to be in critical condition and the female victim sustained non life-threatening injuries, Shaw said in the release. The names, ages and hometowns of the two injured people were not released.

It was not immediately clear why the female victim was in the landing zone, officials said.

The news release indicated the accident took place at Ray Township Airport, but airport manager George Fox late Saturday said there had been no incident at his facility. Ray Township fire officials said the Kunstman air strip was the location of the accident.

Ray Township Assistant Fire Chief Cecil Schoenherr said it was the club’s second accident of the season.

“This type of accident is pretty rare,” Schoenherr said. “They run a pretty good club over there. But anytime you’re jumping out of an airplane at 13,000 feet, you’re taking a risk.”

Due to the federal government partial shutdown, the Federal Aviation Administration was unable to provide information on the incident or whether the FAA was going to conduct an investigation, Laura J. Brown, an FAA public affairs officer, said in an email.

According to the club’s website, Midwest Freefall Sport Parachute Club is a non-profit entity based at the airstrip that exists to promote the enjoyment of skydiving and sport parachuting. A message on the website indicates the club wishes to “share the experience with others in a careful, controlled manner.”

Randy Allison, the club’s general manager, could not be reached for comment Saturday night. 


Capt. Daniel Omale: Suspension Of Dana Air Illegal

By: Capt. Daniel Omale on October 12, 2013 - 2:46am

Again, in less than 12 months, Dana Air has been handed another suspension from flying in our national airspace by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). The reason given is flimsy in every sense of professional aviation. According to the regulatory agency, the airline made two air returns (aborted trip) in a week. While the NCAA's argument is that Dana Air's two separate flights made two air returns due to engine-related issues, the airline vehemently refutes the allegations. The carrier insists that the first air return was as a result of auto throttle "warning indicator" in the cockpit and the pilot in command promptly opted to go back to the departure airport, Port Harcourt. The second issue had to do with the aircraft’s battery under-charging, and the captain of the flight initiated similar procedure--- to return to base.

In all these arguments, as a professional pilot, whether the two incidents were engine-related or not, the airline's crews must be commended, and the carrier should be mandated to file two separate incident reports (if neither was filed as stipulated in the regulation). An invitation by the NCAA for discussion, as opposed, to outright grounding of its operation would suffice. The regulatory agency cannot, on the basis of rumour/ speculation, take such drastic action.

Also, the NCAA could simply elect to intensify its safety oversight on the airline, by going through the various engine log books, or assign an inspector to make unscheduled ride in the airline's airplanes for a first- hand evaluation of how the airplanes are actually performing.

Sound professional decisions/judgment by the airline's pilots should be acknowledged by the authority.

Another statement of fact is: this is the only country in the world whereby a passenger on a flight, usually a friend of the minister of aviation, can easily call the minister to complain about what he or she suspects to be an engine problem with an aircraft, and? without verification by appropriate authority, could ground an airline.

This seems to be the case in most of Dana’s issues with the NCAA. Earlier this year, on ground Abuja, one of Dana aircraft boarded with Lagos-bound passengers’ experienced similar fate. The pilot, during his prestart checks, still noticed that the airplane battery was under charging, even when an engineer attempted to rectify the problem. The captain humbly explained to the boarded passengers that another airplane was en route from Lagos to rescue them as his airplane was not fit to fly. A few minutes after, all the passengers disembarked, the expected aircraft arrived, and took the passengers to Lagos, uneventfully. Later that day, Dana air management was informed that the airline was grounded for an undisclosed reason.

Apparently, one of the minister’s friends had called her to complain that the aircraft engine was faulty and could not start.

This is what is very scary in this business. Anyone can call the minister of aviation, and? without due diligence by the appropriate authority, a suspension order would be issued.

This is not only absurd, but a direct rape on the profession we dearly participate in with the notion to foster its growth.

The fact that an investor is unsure of what tomorrow will bring in this business is scary enough. Undue ministerial authority and absolute draconian policies will definitely kill airlines in this country.

Another danger the action of the NCAA poses for the airline is: subjecting airline's operational issues to public judgment is equally indicting of the regulatory agency. The more we expose airline infractions to, or we accept speculations from, the public, the more air transportation becomes unattractive.

Government's over-reaction after each aircraft accident is unnecessary, and it's only an agency like the NCAA that can set things right if, actually, capable hands are employed to manage the agency.

On the other hand, if the NCAA is incapable of carrying out its functions because the minister's overbearing authority supersedes the agency's purview, then, all the efforts to create autonomy for the NCAA as established in the Civil Aviation Act 2006 have become futile.

What is most appalling is the cynicism, weakness, and directionness of the apex agency responsible for air safety in our country. It is absolutely disgusting to note that experienced pilots, surveyors, and other professionals in the country now cede to know their left hand from right, when under the spell of the ministry. Has the NCAA forfeited its responsibilities to the ministry is everyone scared of standing up to the true call of this noble profession?

Everyone is scared of losing his job if he challenges the minister, even when, clearly, the regulation is being breached. This is what is worrisome. How can anyone invest  in this country, if someone, an outsider, just because of his closeness to the minister could ask for an airline to be grounded for mere unprofessional assumption?

If we are too scared to experience further air crashes, then, the most realistic option is either to force the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) to produce reports of the investigations of all recent aircraft accidents with a view to taking corrective actions and prevent future occurrence, or the NCAA should ban all airplanes from flying within the country. We cannot prevent aircraft accidents, but we certainly can minimize it. If because some people are scared of losing their jobs should another air crash happen, then, operators should not be punished for their selfishness.

If the decision of the pilot in command to abort a flight is not noble enough, then? the NCAA should not license anyone again.

There is no airline in this country today that will accept this new procedure of instant grounding because safety enhancement decision is made by its pilots.

Why must the NCAA wait for an accident to happen before embarking on airline audit? Airline audit should, and must, be routine--- and there should be no qualm about it. But, again, how many NCAA inspectors are current with the required professional refresher training since Dr Demuren's departure?

Airlines would cut corners, not only in Nigeria but everywhere else, if the regulatory authority is incapable of keeping the standards. The minister's incursion in how the NCAA should handle its affairs has become glaring, and the agency heads are dancing to the gallery.

Whether Dana Air's pilots on the two occasions shut down engines and safely brought the airplanes to safety, the airline's displayed professionalism must be commended. But grounding the airline for frivolous allegations is against the ethic of our profession.


Official: Hard landing caused plane crash at Ann Arbor Municipal Airport (KARB), Michigan

A hard landing caused the nose gear of a plane to collapse Saturday evening, resulting in a crash at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport, an airport official said Monday.

The crash took place at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Matthew Kulhanek, manager of the airport, said the single-engine Cessna landed hard, causing the nose gear to collapse and the nose of the plane to dig into the turf runway.

The plane is owned by the Michigan Flyers, a non-profit flying club in Ann Arbor. A message was left with the club by The Ann Arbor News Monday.

Kulhanek said the crash was minor enough that the National Transportation Safety Board didn’t come out to investigate the incident. He had not seen the full report as of Monday afternoon.

Pittsfield Township firefighters said the Ann Arbor man flying the plane was out of the aircraft by the time first responders got to the scene. No one was injured in the incident.

It’s the second plane crash at the airport this year. A single-engine Cessna carrying three passengers crashed on June 9. The three people on board at the time were not injured in that incident.

Lake LA-4, N1136L: Accident occurred September 06, 2013 in Monticello, Kentucky


NTSB Identification: ERA13CA413
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, September 06, 2013 in Monticello, KY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/21/2013
Aircraft: LAKE LA-4, registration: N1136L
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

According to the pilot, he made a pass over the lake in search of a landing site with the least amount of boat traffic. After an uneventful water landing, he began to water taxi the airplane; however, his passenger and he noticed a large wave approaching at a 45 degree angle from the port side of the airplane. As the wave impacted the airplane’s pontoons, the pilot encountered a strong left rudder deflection and the airplane nosed over into the water. A postaccident examination by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed substantial damage to the airplane’s nose section. The pilot reported no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures of the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
An encounter with a large wave during water taxi, which resulted in the airplane nosing over.

Cumberland Point —  In his time as owner of Divers Den in Somerset, Dean Littrell had worked to salvage many items from the depths of Lake Cumberland.  But in September, he got his first chance to pull a water-logged plane from the water in the Cumberland Point area, located on the Pulaski-Wayne County line. 

“It’s a weird feeling to look at an airplane underwater when you know it shouldn’t be there,” said Littrell.

Littrell said he received a call on Friday, Sept. 6 from the owner of a two-seater plane equipped to land on water. The owner, Littrell said, had earlier that day landed on Lake Cumberland near Cumberland Point, but the plane had been overcome by a large wave. The single-engine went nose-first into the water, and took on too much water for them to pull the plane to safety with the help of a boater.

The pilot of the plane and a passenger were not injured.

Littrell and several other certified scuba divers took to the water that weekend to find the aircraft.

“We had a general idea of where the plane was at,” said Littrell. “Once a diver found it, they signaled to the others. Then we assessed the damage and went from there.”

The plane was found under approximately 45 feet of water and upside down. The nose of the plane had sustained significant damage in the incident. Littrell said the team worked for around eight hours to flip the plane back around — with help from the bottom rocks as levers, a rope, and a winching system — and get it out of the water.

Littrell said officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board surveyed the scene of the incident and examined the plane when it was brought back to shore.

A report filed by the NTSB states the pilot landed the plane with no issue before the aircraft “nosed over” into the water.

“A post-accident examination by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed substantial damage to the airplane’s nose section,” states the report. “The pilot reported no pre-accident mechanical malfunctions or failures of the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.”

The plane is registered to Monticello Aircraft Corporation in Wayne County.

Littrell said his team has been called out to retrieve a number of items from the depths of Lake Cumberland, from construction gear dropped into the water during bridge span work, to car keys, to boats and house boats, and even to tractor trailers.

“It’s a whole lot of fun,” said Littrell, who noted his team at Divers Den brings up from the water an average of five to six boats each year.

But last month’s quest to pull the plane from the water is something Littrell won’t soon forget.

“I’ve been bringing up boats for 25 years now, but this is my first plane,” said Littrell.
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Used military planes sought for firefighting: As many as seven C-27 transport planes could be converted into airtankers

As many as seven large C-27 aircraft, military cargo and transport planes being phased out of the U.S. Air Force could find a new home fighting fires in San Diego County and other areas in the southwest.

Earlier this year U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John McCain, (R-Ariz.) began urging the Department of Defense to authorize the transfer of seven soon-to-be-retired C-27s from the military to the U.S. Forest Service.

This week the San Diego board of supervisors voted to send a letter to the Department of Defense urging the same thing.

“The Forest Service is in dire need of additional firefighting capabilities,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob said. “Rather than allow these planes to just sit idle, these aircraft can be retrofitted and made available for fighting fires in our region where the fire risk is always high.”

Supervisor’s Chairman Greg Cox said he met with Feinstein two weeks ago, when he was in Washington D.C. with about 130 other members of a San Diego delegation, and first heard about the available C-27s.

Each plane can carry a payload of 25,353 pounds which could translate to a fire retardant capacity of 2,000 to 2,500 gallons, Jacob said during a supervisors’ meeting on Oct. 8.

“Ironically, I think most of these are probably newer aircraft than ones currently in use by the U.S. Forestry Service,” Cox said.

“These could be a tremendous addition to our firefighting arsenal not just in San Diego County but in Southern California.”

The Forest Service uses a number of different types of aircraft for fire duty, but according to recent news reports, its fleet has shrunk by 75 percent in the past decade. There are only 11 Forest Service air tankers in service today. Some are more than 40 years old.

The state of California has its own air fleet separate from the federal side.

Air tankers are planes fitted with tanks that carry large volumes of fire retardant to drop on a fire. According to the Forest Service’s website, air tankers don’t suppress fires, but they help firefighters on the ground by laying a line of retardant along the sides of a wildfire. The retardant temporarily cools the fire and slows it down giving firefighters extra time to construct a fireline to contain the blaze.

A report prepared for the forest service earlier this year offers both praise and caution about using the C-27 for firefighting.

“The C-27J aircraft design features are ideal for parachute operations, as well as low-level air tanker operations in diverse terrain,” said the report, prepared by Convergent Performance of Colorado Springs.

However, it said retrofitting them to carry heavy loads of retardant could be costly because of their design.

The report also said the C-27 would be the most expensive aircraft in the Forest Service fleet to operate.

At last week’s meeting, Jacob said she has been told by Feinstein’s office that the aircraft could be available within a few moths for transport duty, but that it could take 18 months or longer to retrofit the planes for air tanker duty.


Myrtle Beach Airport director’s firing may have link to bunk WestJet deal

Former Horry County Department of Airports Director Mike LaPier’s handling of the WestJet agreement that is projected to cost the county upwards of $570,000 may have led to his firing, according to one council member.

Councilman Marion Foxworth said LaPier’s failure to coordinate an initial meeting between Canadian airliner WestJet, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday until two weeks before his firing may have led to the poor first year of passengers to and from Myrtle Beach and Toronto and could have been the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Foxworth opened the door to the discussion of LaPier’s shortcomings at Friday’s administration committee.

“I think we dug the hole for ourselves by not having the proper information from the agreement up front and not having proper oversight from staff after the agreement was consummated,” he said. Foxworth was referring to an agreement WestJet had with Horry County that stated if the airliner did not make at least a 15 percent profit in its operating margin, the county would reimburse the airline up to $1 million. Projections released earlier this month show the county may be on the hook for an estimated $570,000.

This was the first time Horry County had provided a revenue guarantee to an airline, which was a push to get more tourists from Canada to fly to the beach during summer months and not just their typical trek during the area’s off season. Brad Dean, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said late last week it’s not a type of agreement he sees the chamber entering in again.

When asked after the administration committee meeting to explain his comments of improper information and oversight, Foxworth said the agreement fell apart pretty early in the process.

“The original agreement had the airline, Golf Holiday and the chamber in a large, well-orchestrated package,” Foxworth said. “They never met face to face until two weeks before LaPier got fired. LaPier never put the two together.”

Contacted Saturday afternoon, LaPier declined to comment for this article.

Having all organizations and WestJet meet earlier would have helped coordinate more effective marketing plan, Foxworth said. It was unclear why the duty was left with LaPier to coordinate the meeting.

Dean said in an email dated Sept. 18 in response to an interview request from The Sun News: “We supported the airport in its effort to recruit WestJet. Our commitment was centered around a collaborative marketing effort that involved the chamber, Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, BrandUSA, WestJet and its subsidiary WestJet Vacations. The marketing effort is ongoing and will continue into October. We anticipate investing approximately $200,000 in direct marketing related to WestJet’s Myrtle Beach route and we know they are spending substantially more than that.”

It was unclear how much, if any, of the chamber’s committed $200,000 was spent at the time of the email. WestJet has spent between $525,000 and $575,000 on marketing the flights from Toronto to Myrtle Beach throughout the summer, Dean said Friday.

Calls to Dean and Bill Golden, president of Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, were not returned Saturday.

LaPier was fired Sept. 13 by County Administrator Chris Eldridge, who has not said publicly why the man serving in one of the area’s most vital tourism positions was fired without explanation. Lisa Bourcier, spokeswoman for the county, said she could not comment on LaPier beyond his start and end date, title and salary.

Since WestJet was not familiar with the area, it began to create its own golf and accommodations packages, which proved to be too expensive for flyers, Foxworth said. So, he said, the airliner did what it had to do to fill seats, which was reduce fares.

“The agreement allowed them to tinker with fare rates,” Foxworth said. “So it filled seats, but it changed all of the numbers.”

Lower rates meant lower profit. Lower profit meant the county was more vulnerable to having to pay WestJet for the lackluster year, which has a service end date of Oct. 23, under the agreement it signed with the county.

Based on passenger numbers, as reported to the airport by WestJet, the airline has flown over 3,200 passengers to the Grand Strand from May through August. During August 2013, the airline flew more people to the market than any previous month; almost 1,060 passengers, according to a previously published report. A survey taken by the Myrtle Beach International Airport found that the nearly 2,000 first-time visitors to the Grand Strand had an estimated $6.6 million impact on the economy.

Dean said Friday the chamber is willing to use part of the county’s accommodations taxes that the chamber sets aside for out-of-market promotions to foot the bill. Currently that fund will reach about $250,000 by the end of the year. Dean proposed the chamber take future “set aside” money for the next five years to pay for the remaining estimated $320,000.

The administration committee sent the proposal, with a positive recommendation, to the full County Council. The council will vote on the measure at its Nov. 7 fall budget retreat. With three successful votes, the county would have the money available by mid-December, which is when WestJet should know an exact figure.

WestJet has not committed to bringing the service back next year, though a check of its website Saturday showed passengers can book one of the two weekly flights well into May 2014.

Brie Ogle, media relations adviser for WestJet, said in a Sept. 18 email to The Sun News, “WestJet does not comment on specific commercial agreements with local airport authorities.”

Foxworth said oversight at the airport came up three times during Friday’s administration committee.

“I think that’s part of why LaPier’s gone,” Foxworth said.

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Douglas, Arizona: More than 200 pounds of marijuana dropped from ultralight aircraft

DOUGLAS, AZ - Agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized over 200 pounds of marijuana dropped by an ultralight aircraft in Southern Arizona this week.

According to a CBP news release, the agency alerted Border Patrol agents at the Douglas station of a possible ultralight aircraft in the area early Tuesday morning.

Agents used remote video surveillance cameras to spot the aircraft and monitor its location.

The ultralight was seen making its way across the border into the U.S. and Border Patrol agents followed it as it headed north several miles where it dropped what appeared to be several bundles of suspected narcotics.

The ultralight then returned to Mexico.

Douglas Border Patrol agents searched the area and found the dropped bundles. They confirmed the bundles contained marijuana.

A total of nine bundles were found weighing 210 pounds.

According to CBP, "This is an example of how coordinated efforts utilizing technology are playing a key role in preventing illegal activity along the border."

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Woman crashes into ground, breaks legs after participating in record-breaking skydive formation in Vinemont, Alabama

VINEMONT, Alabama - A 25-year-old Texas woman broke both her legs when she crashed into the ground after skydiving in Vinemont on Friday.

The woman, whose name has not been released, lost consciousness and was flown to Huntsville Hospital for treatment, according to the Cullman Times.

She was among 47 skydivers who broke the state record for the largest skydive formation. Witnesses told officials that after the skydivers separated to perform individual landings, the woman made a low turn and slammed into the ground.

Paul Rossouw, the owner and operator of Skydive Alabama, told the Times that the woman is an experienced skydiver, and the crash was caused by an error in judgment.

Read the report from the Cullman Times here.

Mooney M20E Super 21, N7145U: Accident occurred October 09, 2013 in Julian, California

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA012 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, October 09, 2013 in Julian, CA
Aircraft: MOONEY M20E, registration: N7145U
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 9, 2013, about 1443 Pacific daylight time, a Mooney M20E airplane, N7145U, collided with terrain near Julian, California. The pilot/owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was destroyed from impact forces. The cross-country personal flight departed Palm Springs, California, at an undetermined time with a planned destination of Gillespie Field, El Cajon, California. Visual meteorological (VMC) conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that the pilot was receiving visual flight rules (VFR) flight following from San Diego Approach Control. The controller lost radio and radar contact at 1443, and issued an alert notice (ALNOT). San Diego County Search and Rescue personnel located the wreckage about 0100 PDT on October 10, 2013. The wreckage was on a 60-degree slope of Vulcan Mountain at an elevation of 4,200 feet. They reported that the airplane had fragmented.


 A man and woman who were killed when a light plane headed from Palm Springs to El Cajon crashed northeast of Julian were identified Saturday as the plane's registered owner and his girlfriend, authorities said.

Roberta Ann Rose, 52, and Andrew William Thulin, 55, both of San Diego, were en route to Gillespie Filed in the Mooney M20E when aircraft control reported that the plane had gone missing about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday over the Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve, according to sheriff's officials and the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office.

A sheriff's helicopter was unable to fly over the mountainous area because of sleet, light snow and high winds in the area where the aircraft was last known to be flying. Search-and-rescue personnel were sent to look for the plane using coordinates obtained from a signal off the pilot's cell phone, authorities said.

The wreckage of the aircraft was found on a rugged, steep hillside about a half-mile from a road at the top of Volcan Mountain early Thursday with the bodies of Rose and Thulin in its cockpit, the Medical Examiner's Office and sheriff's officials reported.

Recovery of the bodies was postponed until Thursday afternoon due to the severe weather, authorities said.

Reported by City News Service in San Diego County

Sumter Airport (KSMS), South Carolina: Man Airlifted After Being Struck by a Plane’s Propeller

Sumter, SC (WLTX)- A man has been airlifted to a Columbia hospital after being struck by a plane propeller at Sumter Airport.

Sumter County Paramedics say the 74-year-old man was working on a plane at Sumter Airport Saturday morning, that plane was thought to be shut down.

The propeller turned on striking the man in the leg causing severe injury to his legs.

The man was airlifted to Palmetto Richland Trauma Center where his injuries are said to be life threatening.

Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee, N31BA: Accident occurred October 11, 2013 west of Yellowstone Regional Airport (KCOD), Cody, Wyoming

Alaskan pilot and son live to tell the tale after Yellowstone crash  

 When he flew out of Cody’s Yellowstone Regional Airport on Friday evening, Jim Betzold had no reason to think the flight was going to be any different than the countless others he’d flown over the past 35 years.

“We were doing fine coming out of Cody,” Betzold, 61, recounted in a Monday interview. “We got up to altitude and were getting ready to go through the pass (Sylvan Pass), and then the engine lost power.”

The pilot checked through his emergency procedures in an effort to get the Piper 180’s single engine going at full power again, but nothing worked.

“We were dropping into a canyon” — the Middle Creek drainage of the Shoshone River — “too much to turn around and we didn’t have any room, so I had to fly straight into the trees,” Betzold said.

While that sounds suicidal, he was following a lesson he’d been taught for the small plane: “straight ahead and under control. Land it wherever you have to.”

“I didn’t ever really want to try it, but I had to,” Betzold said of heading into the mix of pine trees. He said trying a landing on the curvy U.S. Highway 14-16-20 could have proven treacherous and attempting to turn could have started a deadly spiral.

It all happened quickly.

There was enough time for Betzold to share an expletive with his passenger and son, Douglas Betzold, but the two had an opportunity for little else before the craft was going down.

“Things are happening so fast you don’t really have time to get scared,” Betzold said.

The plane shredded in the tall trees, with pieces scattered over a couple hundred yards. Jim Betzold’s body also took a beating as the craft fell to a halt: He broke two ribs and his nose, fractured his spine, cut up his knees and bruised his head.

“At least I’m not taking a dirt nap,” a sore Jim Betzold laughed on Monday. Douglas Betzold, 25, escaped with cuts and bruises.

They were back on the ground at around 4:30 p.m. Friday, but the two men weren’t out of the woods yet.

They had no cell phone coverage in the wilds of Yellowstone, the plane’s radio wasn’t working and a handheld radio on-hand for emergencies failed to reach anyone, Jim Betzold said. The plane’s emergency beacon was picked up by a commercial airliner, he said, but something didn’t work right and the location was off by 50 miles.

“I knew we were going to have to stay the night, because we were hurting pretty bad, bleeding pretty good,” Betzold.

Using their emergency supplies, they built a fire, got some water and took some Tylenol to make it through the night.

Meanwhile, Sharon Betzold, Jim’s wife who was back in Alaska, learned the two men hadn’t made it to their destination in the Boise, Idaho, area.

“From my side of things, when I realized Jim and Douglas were ‘missing’, it was a very long night,” she said in an email.

The Park County Sheriff’s Office learned of the overdue aircraft around midnight Saturday. A search for the plane began at first light. A Park County Search and Rescue airplane ended up using the emergency beacon to locate Betzold’s plane around 9 a.m. Saturday, said Lance Mathess, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office.

A joint rescue operation was then launched with ground units from the National Park Service in Yellowstone and the county’s Search and Rescue team. As the crews were making their way to the crash site — a little less than a mile south of U.S. Highway 14-16-20 — they encountered the Betzolds walking out, Mathess said.

Douglas and Jim Betzold heard traffic on the highway Friday evening and had begun making their way —  slowly, due to Jim’s injuries and the rugged terrain — towards the road as soon as daylight allowed, Jim Betzold said.

Upon meeting up with the rescue crews, the Betzolds were then treated by crews from West Park Hospital and taken by ambulance to the Cody medical facility.

Betzold praised the work of the medical and Search and Rescue crews, who he described as helpful, concerned and accommodating.

“Real good people,” he said.

Sharon Betzold also passed along her thanks to those involved in the search, including Park County Search and Rescue Commander Mart Knapp, Mike Pape with Idaho Division of Aeronautics and “Jay” at the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.

“When Mr. Pape called the morning of Saturday, October 12, and said ‘I have some good news!’ that was all I needed to hear,” she said.

Deputy Chief Ranger Nick Herring of Yellowstone National Park praised the professionalism, expertise and quick work of the crews from Search and Rescue and the Park Service.

“We have a great dedicated group with Park County (Search and Rescue),” said Park County Sheriff Scott Steward in a post on Facebook. “Outstanding job and thanks for all you do to help our citizens and those who visit our awesome area.”

The crash investigation has been turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration, Mathess said.

Betzold, for his part, has no idea what went wrong with his plane, which he carefully maintained for roughly 20 years. He said the craft performed flawlessly coming down through Canada on the trip.

“Everything’s that way: it works real good until it breaks,” he said.

He expects the plane is a total loss and does not know what will happen to the remains, located inside Yellowstone National Park’s boundary.

Betzold, whose home of Beluga is reachable only by plane, intends to resume flying.

“If I had the plane, I’d fly it today,” he said Monday. “I’ll definitely get another airplane as soon as I can.”

UPDATE: CODY - Two men walked away from a plane crash early Saturday morning in Yellowstone National Park.

The fixed wing, single-engine aircraft left Cody late Friday afternoon for Boise, Idaho.

A call of the plane being overdue came to the Park County Sheriff's Office shortly after midnight. The Search and Rescue Unit began looking for the plane early Saturday morning.

Shortly before 9 a.m., crews located the plane.

The location of the downed aircraft was on just inside the eastern Boundary of Yellowstone National Park.

James and Douglas Betzhold were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and their condition is unknown at this time.

The exact cause of the crash is under investigation.

CODY - A downed single engine aircraft has been located by the Park County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue Unit inside Yellowstone National Park.

The downed plane was located southeast of Sylvain Pass in the Middle creek drainage.

The aircraft departed from Yellowstone Regional Airport on Friday, Oct. 11 at 4:00 p.m. carrying two passengers.

The final destination was Boise, Idaho. A call for the aircraft being overdue came into Park County 911 Communications Center shortly after midnight. Search and rescue crews were able to locate the plane, shortly before 9:00 a.m.

Both passengers survived the crash.

Two Alaskan men were able to walk away after their single-engine aircraft crashed Friday inside Yellowstone National Park, southeast of Sylvan Pass in the Middle Creek drainage.

Pilot James Betzhold, 61, and his Douglas Betzhold, 25, crashed shortly after a 4 p.m. take off from Cody’s Yellowstone Regional Airport, said a news release from Park County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lance Mathess.

The Betzholds — Beluga, Ala., residents who had refueled in Cody while en route to Boise, Ida. — were reported as overdue shortly after midnight today (Saturday).

A search for the fixed-wing Piper 180 aircraft began at Saturday’s first light. A Park County Search and Rescue aircraft, using the downed plane’s emergency location transmitter, found the crash site shortly before 9 a.m., Mathess said.

The aircraft crashed about 1,500 yards south of U.S. Highway 14-16-20 West, just inside Yellowstone’s eastern boundary, Mathess said. A joint rescue operation made up of ground units from the National Park Service and Park County Search and Rescue found both Betzholds walking out under their own power while making their way to the site, Mathess said.

James Betzhold was treated at the scene for possibly fractured ribs, a fractured nose and minor cuts, Mathess said, while Douglas Betzhold reportedly had various scrapes and bruises.

Both men were taken by ambulance to West Park Hospital in Cody.

Park County Search and Rescue Commander Mart Knapp praised both men for their decision to stay with the downed plane until help arrived.

“Many times, people survive catastrophic incidents in the back country, only to succumb to the elements when they try to make their own way out,” said Knapp. “Their decision to wait for help quite possibly saved their lives.”

Deputy Chief Ranger Nick Herring of Yellowstone National Park echoed Commander Knapp’s assessment. Ranger Herring also had high praise for the “professionalism and expertise” of the unified rescue operation.

“They were able to quickly locate the aircraft and bring this incident to a successful conclusion,” Herring said. “We are very fortunate to have these life-saving resources at our disposal.”

The exact cause of the crash is as yet undetermined, Mathess said. The investigation has been turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Two men from Alaska walked away from the crash of their fixed-wing, single-engine Piper 180 aircraft early Saturday morning just inside the eastern boundary of Yellowstone Park southeast of Sylvan Pass in the Middle Creek drainage.

James Betzhold, 61, and his son Douglas Betzhold, 25, both of Beluga, Alaska, were in route to Boise, Idaho, and had just taken off from Yellowstone Regional Airport about 4 p.m. Friday after a refueling stop when the crash occurred.

The first call of the aircraft being overdue came to the Park County Sheriff’s Office 911 Communications Center shortly after midnight. Park County Search and Rescue was notified and a search for the aircraft began at first light this morning. Search crews were able to approximate the location of the plane through the use of its emergency location transmitter. A S&R aircraft located it shortly before 9 a.m. Once over the scene, a “mayday” was broadcast by the pilot of the downed aircraft confirming that both occupants had survived.

A joint rescue operation began which included ground units from Yellowstone Park and the S&R. The location of the crash was more than 1,500 yards south of US 14-16-20. As rescue crews began making their way to the site of the crash, both victims walked out on their own. James was treated at the scene for possible fractured ribs, a fractured nose and minor lacerations. Douglas was treated for various scrapes and bruises. Both were transported to West Park Hospital by ambulance where their condition is unknown at this time.

S&R commander Martin Knapp praised both men for their decision to stay with the downed plane until help arrived.

“Many times, people survive catastrophic incidents in the back country, only to succumb to the elements when they try to make their own way out,” Knapp said. “Their decision to wait for help quite possibly saved their lives.”

YNP Deputy Chief Ranger Nick Herring echoed that assessment and also praised the unified rescue operation.

“They were able to quickly locate the aircraft and bring this incident to a successful conclusion,” Herring said. “We are very fortunate to have these life-saving resources at our disposal.”

The cause of the crash remains under investigation. The investigation has been turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration.

South Jersey: Small airports become hubs for new business as flights decline -- Cape May County (KWWD), Millville Municipal (KMIV), Woodbine Municipal (KOBI), Hammonton Municipal (N81)

Fewer planes are taking off at municipal and county airports these days, thanks to the long economic downturn and high aviation fuel prices.

But small businesses such as T-shirt printers, breweries, car dealers and equipment renovators are taking off there, and bolstering the bottom line. Other small airports have discounted fuel, or are in talks with educational facilities about hosting air traffic control classes.

“The trend nationally is down for recreational flying,” said Stephen Williams, a pilot and director of airports for the Delaware River and Bay Authority, which runs Cape May County and Millville municipal airports. “New pilot starts, and the health of flight schools, are down because of the cost of fuel and ownership. My own flight activity is down as a recreational flyer.”

With fewer people becoming pilots, the aging of existing pilots and many grounded planes for sale, airports just don’t have as much traditional, aviation-related business. They have had to adapt to the new reality by being flexible and open to new ways of funding operations.

At both DRBA airports in the region, land and building leases are up due to local demand for small business work space, Williams said.

Cape May Brewing Co. has flourished since 2011 at Cape May Airport. It started with one employee, produced 60 barrels of beer a year (a barrel is 31 gallons) and was open four hours a week for tours. This year it has 10 year-round employees, produces 1,500 barrels of beer and is open six days a week and hosting 500 to 1,000 people a day, said co-owner Ryan Krill, 31. He started the business with his father, Bob Krill, of Chadds Ford, Pa., and college friend Chris Henke, of Avalon.

The brewery grew from 1,500 square feet to 5,000 square feet in 2012, and 7,500 square feet this year, and Ryan Krill, of Avalon. It expects to increase production to 2,500 barrels next year.

Another local microbrewery, Glasstown Brewing Co., will open soon at Millville Airport, said DRBA spokesman James Salmon. It’s co-owned by general contractor Justin Arenberg and environmental consultant Paul Simmons, both of Millville.

Both airfields also have popular museums attached to them, which bring in large numbers of visitors: The Naval Air Station Wildwood Museum and the Millville Army Airfield Museum.

Becoming a private pilot is a big commitment, and requires an outlay of $8,000 to $10,000 and many hours of flight time, said Dave Dempsey, owner of Aerial Skyventures flight school, based at Woodbine Municipal Airport.

Then there’s the cost every time a pilot goes up.

“A general aviation airplane will burn 10 to 15 gallons an hour,” said Jeff Doran, of Woodbine, a longtime pilot and retired police officer who flies himself to jobs throughout the Northeast for an emergency communications firm. “That’s $60 to $100 per hour, just to start the engine,” with aviation fuel at more than $6 per gallon.

After falling in the midst of the recession, land and building lease revenue had rebounded in Millville by three years ago, helped by the 2010 addition of the Boeing Chinook CH-47 helicopter modification center, according to DRBA reports. The center modifies new helicopters for the Army, which recently extended its contract through April 2014, according to Robert Algarotti of Boeing.

Cape May Airport’s lease income fell similarly, but by 2011 had surpassed 2007 figures, the DRBA reports show.

At the same time, the DRBA estimates landings and takeoffs have fallen from a high of about 50,000 per year at each airport before the recession, to about 35,000 this year, Williams said. (General aviation airports don’t have towers so don’t keep exact records, but must estimate activity.)

Jet use hasn’t decreased as much as regular small plane use, said Clarence Crawley of FlightLevel Cape May, LLC, the independent fixed base operator at Cape May Airport. That may indicate the highest-income flyers are less affected by the downturn than others. FlightLevel has been the operator there since May, but Crawley has worked for two other operators at the airport going back to pre-recession years, he said.

Income from fuel sales fell in the heart of the recession, rebounded for a while, but have been trending down again in the last few years as prices have spiked, DRBA reports show. At Millville the fuel fall-off was drastic in 2009, and has never approached pre-recession levels, because of the loss of the Millville Jet Center, which had provided charter jets.

Woodbine Municipal Airport tries to offer the lowest fuel prices within a 50-mile radius, said maintenance manager Wayne Rumble, of Marmora.

“The big thing in aviation is the cost of fuel,” he said. So Woodbine offers self-service and discounted prices, in the hopes of drawing in flyers for a fuel stop. They can research prices on, he said.

The airport is home to about 75 planes, including a jet and two ultralights. Thirty small hangars are rented out, and there are about 20 people on a wait list, down a bit from years past, he said.

“People are selling airplanes. (The pilots) are getting older, and not as many young people are coming in,” said the 81-year-old Rumble, a pilot since 1950, who still flies and just gave up teaching flying. At least two pilots there are in their 90s, he said.

The value of small planes is dropping significantly, he said, with more for sale in publications like Trade A Plane.

Rumble said he bought his 1967 single-engine plane in 2004 for $58,000 and would have a hard time today getting $38,000 for it, even though it’s been well maintained. When he bought it, he expected to get about $68,000 for it after 10 years, he said.

The Woodbine Port Authority, which runs the 700-acre Woodbine Municipal Airport, looked at how much land could be used for non-aviation activity, said Woodbine Mayor Bill Pikolycky. Officials decided to split off 75 acres fronting Route 550 to create a business park, he said.

Gentilini Chevrolet is building a $5 million facility there, and two other businesses are in negotiations to move there, Pikolycky said.

Hammonton Municipal Airport has been able to increase its income over the past several years, from about $35,000 a year to $72,000 last year, said Town Administrator Jerry Barberio. Its fixed base operator, Staraero Partners Group, shares fuel sales with the town and brings in planes for maintenance and repair; and a non-aviation equipment reseller called Equipment Xchange LLC rents space, Barberio said.

Hammonton is also in talks with Atlantic Cape Community College to host classes for an air traffic control tower associates degree the school wants to offer. Atlantic Cape would have to build a tower, and purchase a radar simulation suite, since the airport doesn’t have one now, said Atlantic County Freeholder James Bertino, who lives in Hammonton and favors the idea.

“It would give ACCC a model program,” Bertino said, adding talks are ongoing.

About 20 planes are tied down at Hammonton, at $50 each per month, since a 2008 expansion, Barberio said. Previously 12 to 15 were based there. The airport has the capacity to handle 35 planes.

There have been problems. The town had an agreement with Dan Haug of Hangar Corp. of America, of Spring House, Pa., to build a $700,000 to $900,000 hangar for the State Police's SouthStar Aeromedical Helicopter, based there since December 2011. HCA would own the building and lease it to the State Police, while paying $2,000 a year to lease the land from the town.

But HCA stopped construction after working on the foundation, due to financial and other difficulties, Barberio said. A new contractor will complete the project, but it is already months behind schedule.

The town makes $3,500 a month leasing an existing hangar to the State Police, Barberio said. It has another renter lined up for when the Medivac helicopter goes to the newer, larger hangar.

The town plans to add 10 T-hangars to the facility so small planes can be protected from the elements, and a new taxiway from the hangars to the runway. The town hopes to have it complete in 2017 or 2018, he said.

It would be 90 percent funded by the federal government through the FAA, he said, if the town gets expected grants. The hangars would then generate at least $150 to $200 a month, per hangar, he said.

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Midland County, Texas: Commemorative Air Force Plane Makes Emergency Landing

KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

MIDLAND - A CAF plane had to make an emergency landing in Midland County Friday afternoon. 

D-P-S officials tell NewsWest 9 that they received a call on an emergency landing involving a Bell P-63 Kingcobra aircraft. It was running low on fuel and had to land.   

The pilot landed At Sky West Airport in Southern Midland county.

The aircraft left San Marcos, Texas just after noon Friday headed to the CAF Air Sho.

The emergency landing was successful with no injuries and only one occupant. The pilot said that his fuel selector became inoperable.

No one was hurt.

Columbia County (1B1), Hudson, New York: State Assemblywoman Barrett calls for airport plan delay

State Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, D-106, responded Thursday to the county Board of Supervisors’ rejection of a resolution temporarily grounding the Columbia County Airport safety zone’s expansion, through eminent domain, by petitioning the board to halt further action until constituents have their concerns addressed.

In her letter to board Chairman Patrick Grattan, R-Kinderhook, Barrett suggests that he, the board’s membership, Columbia County Economic Development Commissioner Ken Flood and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli re-evaluate the county’s approach to acquiring 16 acres of adjacent Meadowgreens Golf Course property, with an additional 90 acres of conservation easements.

Carmen Nero, the Ghent facility’s principal owner, has refused the county’s $629,000 offer for his land so that Columbia County Airport’s safety zone may be in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

“While I appreciate your recent effort to inform the public about this project, it is clear that many questions remain unanswered,” Barrett told Grattan, before requesting the project be suspended.

“I have heard from a number of constituents who have been seeking answers for some time regarding the need and the economics of this project.”

Saying Barrett must be misinformed, Grattan maintained “the county isn’t moving ahead with any eminent domain proceedings.”

“The airport isn’t being expanded, the FAA has requested it,” he added.

Prior to Wednesday’s vote, approximately 60 attendees brought their questions and criticisms to an informational meeting that challenged the motivations, and methodologies, of the county’s airport initiative.

Local attorney Ken Dow accompanied client Michael Schrom, one of two Ghent residents he represents. On Oct. 4, Dow filed a suit on behalf of Schrom and Kevin Delahanty in state Supreme Court against Columbia County. The suit alleges Columbia County did not respond quickly enough to the men’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests about the county’s communications with the Federal Aviation Administration, agreements with Richmor Aviation, C&S Engineers and flight data,

Supervisor Art Bassin, D-Ancram, introduced the Wednesday meeting’s resolution, but could not muster the two-thirds majority for it to be brought to the floor.

So far, Bassin has raised doubts about the county’s alleged non-compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations, FOIL delays and the estimated $8 million to $13 million costs for airport upgrades, as outlined in the county’s 10-year-old master plan.

The board voted party-line 1,146 for the measure, 1,857 against, with 243 abstaining and 595 absent.

Supervisors Richard Keaveney, R-Canaan; Jesse DeGroodt, NOP-Chatham; Thomas Garrick, R-Gallatin; Ronald Knott, R-Stuyvesant; John Porreca Sr., R-Greenport; Jeffrey Braley, R-Austerlitz; Kevin McDonald, R-Livingston; and Michael Benson, R-New Lebanon, and Grattan defeated Bassin’s resolution.

Supervisors Robin Andrews, D-Claverack; Raymond Staats, D-Clermont; Art Baer, NOP-Hillsdale; Sarah Sterling, D-Hudson1; Edward Cross, D-Hudson2; Ellen Thurston, D-Hudson3; Bill Hughes, D-Hudson4; Rick Scalera, Hudson-D5 voted with Bassin to halt eminent domain proceedings.

Meanwhile, Supervisor Betty Young, R-Taghkanic, abstained and Supervisor Matt Murell, R-Stockport, recused himself.

Both Supervisors Roy Brown, R-Germantown, and Jeff Nayer, R-Copake, were absent.

Under Bassin’s resolution, “[a]ll resolutions previously approved by the Columbia County Board of Supervisors authorizing negotiated purchase of land from Carmen Nero and partners, or the use of eminent domain,” would be withdrawn. Efforts to retain legal counsel for future eminent domain proceedings “shall cease immediately,” the resolution continued.

It also called upon the county’s Freedom of Information Law Officer to alert the Board of Supervisors “when all FOIL requests have been responded to,” and to share all FOIL requests, and the county’s responses, as they relate to the airport.

In July, the Board of Supervisors’ Finance Committee voted to request proposals for legal advice, a reversal of the County Government and Public Works committees decisions that month to hire attorney Richard Hite, of Syracuse, to negotiate eminent domain proceedings at Meadowgreens Golf Course for up to $25,000. Supervisors had reduced a $50,000 fee, for the then-anonymous law firm, floated to them by Flood at C&S Companies’ recommendation.

In 2003, C&S engineers developed a Columbia County master plan that called for acquiring airport property from Meadowgreens Golf Course by eminent domain and to clear six acres of trees. The Syracuse-based consultants have so far received about $170,000 to advise county officials, as of last year.

Public comment was invited by Grattan at another one of the board’s informational airport meetings, scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13.


Gogebic-Iron County Airport (KIWD), Ironwood, Michigan: Construction continues on taxiway

IRONWOOD TOWNSHIP — A $1.85 million taxiway project began at the Gogebic-Iron County Airport on Sept. 3, but won’t be completed until next summer.

Airport manager Mike Harma said completion is scheduled for July 1.

The second runway at the airport has been closed for a long time, Harma said. The additional taxiway will provide safety for passengers by providing for a space for planes waiting to take off, while other planes are landing.

The runway was built in the 1950s, Harma said He has been managing the airport since January.

Eighty percent of the subgrade is in place, Harma said, and workers from James Peterson and Sons of Medford, Wis ., were finishing burying light cans on Friday.

Next week, gravel will be put down.

Currently, planes have to delay landing if another plane is on the runway getting ready to take off, Harma said. Other airports with this system have had close calls, which is why the Federal Aviation Administration wants airports to install taxiways, Harma said.

The next phase of the project will be engineered in 2014, with construction in 2015, Harma said, completing a full parallel runway for the airport.

The project is funded through a federal grant, with 95 percent of the money coming from the FAA. The state of Michigan and the airport split the remaining 5 percent.

Construction will be on hold for the winter season at the end of the month, Harma said, with blacktopping and wiring for runway lighting on the schedule for next spring.


Astoria Regional (KAST), Oregon: Company asks to take over airport operation

Kyle Fortune, maintenance base manager for Ashland-based utility helicopter company Brim Aviation, will present his company's proposal to take over fueling, fixed-base operation an other services from the Port of Astoria at the Astoria Regional Airport in Warrenton.

The presentation starts at 4 p.m. Tuesday, before the Port Commission's regular meeting at 6 p.m.

“Our main thing going there is we want to take over the fuel, the FBO, and the whole services over there at the airport,” said Fortune. “We’re sure we can run a superior service.”

The Port, to save money, recently laid off its part-time Airport Manager John Overholser, also a Hertz Auto Rental franchisee based at the airport.

Fortune said the company wants to provide 24-hour fuel service, courtesy cars for transient pilots and regional marketing for the airport.

“We don’t understand why this airport isn’t busy,” said Fortune. “We’re on the coast.”

Brim has been providing transport for the Columbia River Bar Pilots since March 2012, taking over for Santa Maria, Calif.-based Arctic Air, which had serviced the pilots for 10 years.

Fortune said the company understands the request for proposal process that means the Port must go out for bid if it wants to contract out services at the airport.

“We’re not saying that we have to be the ones to do it,” said Fortune. “There’s just got to be improvements. We’re here no matter what, because we’re working with the Bar Pilots.”


de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300, Kenn Borek Air, C-GKBC: Accident occurred January 23, 2013 in the Queen Alexandra Range, Antarctica

The family of a Calgary man killed in a plane crash in Antarctica says they don't want anyone risking their lives to recover the body of their loved one. 

Michael Denton, 25, died in January when the Twin Otter plane he was flying in with two other Canadians for Kenn Borek Air crashed into one of the highest mountains in Antarctica. With the summer season starting on the bottom of the world, there is discussion around whether to try recovering the bodies. 

Denton's mother says no one should be put at risk.

"We really do not want anybody else risking their lives to do the recovery, and I know that's not something Mike would want," said Carol Denton.

"They're buried in a very sacred spot, and a beautiful spot, and it does bring us a lot of peace knowing that."

Search and rescue operators from New Zealand helped in the initial search for the plane but were not able to access the three bodies. 

 Crews found the plane's tail and top right wing sticking out of the snow and were able to retrieve a voice recorder and GPS unit.

However, the cockpit was blocked by crumbled cargo and fuel tanks and it was deemed too risky to stay any longer.

Son was living his dream, says mother

"His life dream has always been to go to the Antarctic and also to fly Twin Otters," Denton said.

As a child, Michael and the family used to drive to the airport near their home and watch the planes take off. The love of flying is something that might have come from his father, who had his pilot's licence, says Denton.

Michael was the plane's first officer and at the time of the crash was newly married to a woman he had been with for seven years.

"[It was] probably a relationship that many people don't experience," Denton said.

"They were extremely connected and close, so he really did live a full and rich life — it just was too short."

Michael had flown for Kenn Borek Air in northern Canada and Denton says he was thrilled to be paired with Bob Heath, one of his fellow crash victims and a highly experienced pilot.

"He was ecstatic — the things that they would see and just the experience of being there was quite something," Denton said. "You could tell that's just what he really wanted to do ... that certainly gives us comfort."

Many of Michael's items lost in flood

The family lost most of Michael's personal memorabilia in June's flood but were able to save some photographs.

While having the bodies so far away makes it harder for the family to come to terms with Michael's death, Denton says they are extremely grateful to the initial search and rescue crew that made it to the crash site and was able to recover some personal items and identification.

"The people involved and the stages that they had to go through, we just absolutely were so grateful, extremely grateful, because I think knowing that they actually got in the plane has brought huge closure for me ... we could be sitting here not knowing where that site was," Denton said.

"We know where they are, and they are buried in the most spectacular, beautiful place you could ever be."

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Second site for private planes proposed for Aspen-Pitkin County Airport/Sardy Field (KASE), Colorado

A Texas company that offers private-plane services across the United States and in Canada and Europe has its eyes set on the Aspen Airport.

Landmark Aviation recently submitted an application to Pitkin County to build what would be the airport’s second fixed-base operation (FBO), said county manager Jon Peacock on Friday.

FBOs typically offer fueling, hangar and tie-down space, repairs, car rentals and other amenities for private planes. Atlantic Aviation currently provides FBO services at Sardy Field.

In receiving $64 million in grants from the Federal Aviation Administration over the past decade, Pitkin County and airport officials represented an area on the facility’s west side as reserved for future aeronautical use.

An FAA official said last year that 39 grants are attached to that money, meaning the county must use the land as it was designated in the grant applications.

One of the FAA’s “grant assurances” also mandate that the airport provide a level playing field when it comes to FBOs, Peacock said.

“The idea is that we don’t establish monopolies,” he said.

As such, Landmark Aviation’s application will trigger a request-for-proposal process that could start in April or May.

During the development of the county’s 20-year airport master plan last year, multiple FBOs expressed interest in Sardy Field.

“Aspen is looking like an attractive prospect for a second FBO,” Peacock said.

The site would be just downvalley from the airport’s operations building on Owl Creek Road.

Among the uses set aside for the airport’s west side in the master plan are 22,000 square feet for 30 tie-down spaces for airplanes. The new FBO also will require a new taxiway and other infrastructure.

During the master plan process, Pitkin County commissioner Rachel Richards said she was worried about how a second FBO will affect Owl Creek and potentially increase traffic on the namesake road. She also noted that structures from an old ranch near the new FBO may qualify for the National Register of Historic Places.

Peacock said that whichever operator is chosen, their plan will have to undergo a lengthy environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act.

“So will that take 18 months to complete?” he said. “Absolutely, if not longer.”

That could push the start of construction to sometime in 2016. The FAA will have oversight of the new taxiway, setbacks and other aspects related to runway safety.

Also, as part of the master plan — which the FAA approved a month or so ago — a citizen task force is working with the county on design guidelines for the facility, a process aimed at ensuring that future development adheres to community values.

Peacock said that process will have to be complete before the county issues the request for proposals (RFP). The design guidelines are expected to be finished in February.

“It’d be very, very difficult for us to put together a good RFP without having those guidelines in place,” Peacock said. The design standards “would let FBO know what they’re bidding on.”

Once an operator is selected, they will submit a plan that will undergo a “locations and extent” review, which will allow the county planning commission to offer its thoughts.

The board of county commissioners will not be involved in the selection of the FBO because it is the final body to which a vendor can appeal decisions. The selection will be made by an RFP team with various experts that will review and score proposals. But commissioners will have the final say because they will approve the lease for the new FBO.

The successful FBO may not be chosen until next fall. The company will have to prove its capability to implement the proposal, the benefits to the airport and compliance with the master plan and design standards, among other criteria.

“It’s going to be a very complicated process,” Peacock said of selecting the operator.

Houston-based Landmark Aviation has 53 FBOs and another nine sites that offer maintenance, repair and overhaul of aircraft. It is a subsidiary of the Carlyle Group, a $170 billion asset management company. The company’s vice president of marketing was not available for comment Friday.

The county is not releasing the application because Peacock said it contains some of the company’s trademark secrets and other proprietary information.

Messages left with officials at Atlantic Aviation, which has 11 years left on its lease with the county, were not returned.


Ottumwa Regional Airport (KOTM), Iowa: Groundbreaking for wildlife fence project Monday

OTTUMWA — The city of Ottumwa will be holding a project kickoff groundbreaking for the Wildlife Fence Project at the Ottumwa Regional Airport Terminal Building at 4 p.m. Monday. The public is invited to attend.

The project consists of erecting protective fencing around the runway area. The new fence will enhance airport security and safety with the goal of keeping deer off the airstrip. The fencing project is part of the Ottumwa Regional Airport 2011-16 Airport Capital Improvement Program with a total project cost of $426,000.

Ninety percent of the project funding comes from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA.) The local match will be paid through the city's Airport Fund. All airport-related activities are paid for by rent collected on city-owned properties and service fees paid by businesses who own property in the Airport Industrial Park, not local property taxes.

According to FAA data, deer are one of the most hazardous wild animals to airport operations. This summer, a Vinton pilot struck a deer when a herd dashed across the runway as he landed.

With the rural setting of the Ottumwa Regional Airport and the health of the white tail deer population, reducing the risk of striking one or even a group of deer is important for aviation.


Lebanon Municipal (KLEB), New Hampshire: Airport forgoes federal funding

Lebanon — As a result of a decision made by the City Council earlier this year not to expand one of the runways at Lebanon Municipal Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration will not be funding two major projects there.

The City Council in April voted narrowly not to lengthen the north-south runway by 1,000 feet and against lowering the elevation of a nearby hill by 30 feet, so-called “runway safety area” improvements that the FAA deemed necessary.

Six months later, city officials are learning — though not unexpectedly — that the airport will not receive federal dollars for the construction of a $1.4 million building to house snow removal equipment, nor will it receive funding for an airport master plan — a comprehensive policy document that would help guide future decisions about the airport.

If councilors had OK’d the runway extension, the FAA would have provided 90 percent of the funding for the estimated $1.3 million project. Airport Manager Rick Dyment said the FAA is still committed to fund airport safety or security projects, such as runway maintenance. City Councilors were warned in April that voting against the runway expansion would limit funding for all airport projects other than those for safety and security. City Councilor Nicole Cormen, who voted against the expansion, said the airport’s safety record should have been enough to convince FAA officials to keep all the funding in place until the master plan is complete.

“If we were the aviation equivalent of Route 4 in Quechee, that’d be really different,” Cormen said. “It really did put us in a very difficult position, and there’s legitimate desire to protect local control over local assets ... We have plenty of skin in the game here, it’s not like we’ve just been the recipient of all this stuff at no costs to ourselves.”

At the start of the current fiscal year, the city had contributed nearly $2 million from the general fund to the airport since 2009. Cormen was also hopeful that the FAA would have still contributed money toward the snow removal equipment building.

“I have to say I find it somewhat disappointing on the part of the FAA, considering they paid for that equipment and now they’re not interested in helping us maintain the stuff we already had,” Cormen said. “So that’s a little bit odd.”

City Councilor Karen Liot Hill, a supporter of the runway expansion, said she is “disappointed, but not surprised” at the FAA’s decision.

“It was made clear that some of the risks included in not going along with their recommended safety improvements was the loss of federal funding for things we wanted to do,” she said. “This was something that we were warned about.”

Dyment said the airport has grants in place to finish the design plans for the snow removal equipment building, and would place the project on hold once those plans are complete with the hope that FAA funding will eventually be restored.

As for the master plan, the city has selected a firm to complete the document and is preparing to shoulder the entire cost for the project, which all parties deem necessary going forward. Dyment said a cost estimate is not yet available for the master plan, which he estimated would be completed sometime in the first half of 2015.

While Cormen was disappointed in losing out on federal funding, she added that the Council is there to “make tough decisions and face the heat.”

“ ... Knowing what we know now, I would make that same decision today, because honestly I just don’t think we ever had an objective rendering of the facts regarding the airport, top to bottom,” said Cormen.

The master plan document will contain data on the airport’s operations, both economic and environmental. It will also take into account current and optimal use of the airport by Lebanon and other Upper Valley communities.

Liott Hill calls the master plan “the path forward for the city.

“I hope (it will) give us a very clear picture of what’s going on there now, exactly what the costs are at the airport but also exactly what the benefits are, and I think those are not well understood,” she said. “We’ve been managing costs in a short-term way ... but we don’t have great information about the long-term costs of what different capital decisions are.”


Government shutdown grounds plane Vanderbilt LifeFlight uses for organ transplants


The airplane that Vanderbilt LifeFlight uses for organ transplants was grounded by the government shutdown because the Federal Aviation Administration had not completed its license renewal by midnight on Oct. 1.

Vanderbilt was without the service for 2½ days as it awaited a replacement aircraft that arrived on the afternoon of Oct. 3. LifeFlight missed two patient transports during that period, but neither of those was related to organ transplantation, said John Howser, a spokesman for Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“We do not miss organ transplant flights because we have redundancies built into our transplant protocols to accommodate for essentially any circumstance,” Howser said. “The fixed-wing is used for a wide array of medical issues and not just transplantation.”

LifeFlight officials tried to contact FAA officials after Oct. 1 but could not get through to the licensure unit, Howser said.

The FAA has continued to employ workers deemed essential, such as those involved with air traffic control, during the shutdown.