Sunday, October 13, 2013

Several flights delayed after flat tire on Blue Grass Airport (KLEX) runway

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) -- The Blue Grass Airport's main runway had to be shut down for about an hour Sunday night after a small aircraft got a flat tire while taxiing on the runway.  

 Airport officials say two flights were delayed Sunday evening and two flights had to be rerouted to Louisville.

The issue Sunday evening also caused two Monday morning flights to be delayed.

Airline officials say the passengers on the small aircraft were not injured.


Firefighters at Camp Robinson Among Latest to be Furloughed

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR -- When wildfires scorched across Arkansas last summer helicopters with the Arkansas National Guard were called in to pick up and drop giant buckets of water.
The choppers came from the airfield at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock where Gary Lody is a firefighter.

"If we have something, a major flood or a major disaster, and [the helicopters] are needed they're not going to be able to go if they don't have the firefighter support at the airfield," Lody said.

Regulations mandate a certain number of firefighters are present at the airfield in order for the choppers to fly -- a problem since Lody was told late last week not to report for work next week.

"[We] have equipment that we have to run every day to make sure it's operational, that it will start in case we need to use it," he said.

Before Lody and other firefighters were furloughed, they trained mechanics on the basics of responding to emergencies.  Then, Lody's focus turned to the home front.

"We all have bills to pay and if you're not working you can't pay those bills," Lody said.  "But the creditors are still going to knock on your door wanting the money."

Lody is one of 81 state employees with the Arkansas National Guard in the new round of furloughs. 


Live maggots found in Air India in-flight meals


 The unsavory truth about in-flight meals. Maggots are high in protein and considered a delicacy in some countries, but somehow Air India passengers from New York to New Delhi found little comfort when live maggots were discovered in their in-flight meal.

The airline, however, has assured marked improvement in its in-flight service. Air India spokesperson too has promised a response from the catering division in United States.

Ravi Uppal, traveling to Delhi to celebrate Dussehra said, “On Flight AI-102 on September 28, as I was coming from New York, the sandwiches served to me was entirely infested with maggots. I had consumed them when I saw something crawling in my tray and I realized that the tray was full of maggots. I was in a state of shock for the next few minutes. I called the stewardess. She was equally shocked and took away the tray. Within the next half an hour, I had spoken to the entire staff of the aircraft, including the captain, about the contaminated food.”

Uppal, who works as a manager with a private company, added that he was outraged to find out that it was not just him who was served contaminated food onboard.

“Gradually I found out that another fellow passenger, Vaibhav Saha, made a similar complaint to the airline’s staff. The only difference was that he was able to realized that the tray on which he was served his order had maggots before he started eating and had not consumed the contaminated food,” expounded Uppal, who managed to click pictures of the moldy sandwiches and recorded the entire event.

Uppal made a formal complaint to the airline authorities after touching down at Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport.

He rued that the incident has deeply traumatized him as he is a frequent flyer with the airline and has his return tickets pre-booked on the same airline.

“In the aftermath of the disturbing event, I advised my sister traveling some weeks later with her baby not to consume any food on the flight. However, even after a formal complaint to authorities, the airline has been unable to take speedy action. The international standards claimed by it are farcical,” he added. He added that the airline has just been giving fake assurances. In the e-mail he received from the airline’s General Manager, Commercial,

TS Sanjiv Kumar on October 10, he has been told, “taking serious cognizance of your complaint, the issue was taken up with our catering department who have advised us that the matter was taken up very strongly with our caterers in the USA. A strict warning letter has been issued to avoid such recurrence; the caterers, however, have been suitably penalized.”


Agreement may allow subdivision at former airstrip in Eliot, Maine: Developer threatened lawsuit

ELIOT, Maine — A long-running building permit problem seems to have been solved at Thursday's selectmen's meeting.

Sweet Peas LLC, owner of the Littlebrook Air Park off Beech Road, requested permission to break off a back lot for building. Sweet Peas representative Edith Breen told the board that Sweet Peas was facing a deadline for a filing to take the town to court unless a permit was issued.

"It would be expensive for us and expensive for the town, and embarrassing," Breen said of taking legal action.

She told selectmen she did not know which of the various parts of the zoning regulations to appeal, saying, "It's a simple question of breaking out a lot."

Selectmen Chairman Mike Moynahan asked Planning Assistant Kate Pelletier whether a compromise had been reached. The variance seemed to hinge on granting permission for a driveway longer than 1,000 feet.

Pelletier said of a recent Board of Adjustment meeting, "We had a long meeting. I thought in the end, we were on the right page." But the next morning, Pelletier said, BOA Chairman Edward Cieleszko seemed to have changed his mind. She advised selectmen that a previous legal opinion said the town could exceed the 1,000-foot limit in driveway length and that state law says in an ambiguous case, the town should favor the applicant.

To settle the matter, selectmen voted to issue a consent decree to approve the lot if Code Enforcement Officer James Marchese does not reverse his original decision to not issue the permit.


Corvette Forum: Fourth Anniversary of Forced Landing - Piper PA-32-260 Cherokee Six, N3357W, Accident occurred in Peoria, Illinois

by jackhall99:   "On Oct.17th, it will be four years since my son had a forced landing on Allen Road just south of West Willow Knoll Drive in Peoria. At the time, he was 17, had 135 hours as a private pilot, and was taking off from Peoria Airport to head home to complete a time-building flight toward earning his Commercial Pilot License...." 

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NTSB Identification: CEN10LA023
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 17, 2009 in Peoria, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/20/2010
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32-260, registration: N3357W
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The accident occurred about 8 minutes after takeoff on the final leg of a three leg cross-country flight. The pilot reported engine roughness followed by a partial loss of engine power during the climb out after takeoff, followed by a complete loss of engine power. The pilot’s attempts to restore engine power were not successful and he subsequently executed a forced landing onto a road about 7 miles from the departure airport. The right main landing gear struck a traffic light during the approach and the airplane landed hard. A post impact fire ensued and the pilot evacuated the airplane without injury. Post-accident examination of the engine and associated components did not reveal anomalies consistent with a pre-impact failure or malfunction.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
A loss of engine power for undetermined reasons during climb out after takeoff, which resulted in a forced landing to a roadway.

NTSB Report:

Bart Spadaro, founded LI airport, dies at 84

Bart Spadaro turned a 24-acre chicken farm on Montauk Highway in East Moriches into his very own "highway to heaven," building Spadaro Airport and teaching flight classes.

Spadaro, a pilot and aviation enthusiast, died Oct. 5 in his Lake Placid, Fla., home of natural causes, family said. He was 84.

"Dad has accumulated some 25,000 hours flying," said his daughter Susan Spadaro, 45, of East Moriches. "He loved the perspective and freedom and the joy that he was able to bring to other people."

Bartholomew Fredrick Spadaro, known as 'Bart,' was born to Italian immigrants in Bay Shore. His love of flying was cemented in 1943, when he was named a cadet in Bay Shore High School's Civil Air Patrol and got his first ride in an L3 Defender, Susan Spadaro said. He quit school at age 16 to work full time at the former Zahn's Airport in Amityville and received his pilot's license the following year, she said.

Spadaro joined the U.S. Air Force, where he served for about 21/2 years as a mechanic before he was honorably discharged, and married Zilda Cerabino. The pair opened Bart's Auto & Aviation Service in 1960, where he fixed planes and automobiles, his daughter said.

The site eventually grew into a reliever airport designated by the Federal Aviation Administration to handle small aircraft traffic overflow from Long Island MacArthur Airport, she said. Spadaro's career was also honored by the Long Island General Aviation Recognition Council, she added.

From the 1970s to the early 1990s, Spadaro developed a service that transported passengers from the 23rd Street marina dock in Manhattan to Fire Island and the Hamptons, his daughter said. He was also a pioneer in aerial advertising on Long Island, creating banners that were flown across the Island in the 1970s, she said.

Spadaro's pioneering spirit also translated to his affinity for country music and bluegrass festivals. A no-frills kind of guy, he'd sing and clap along to the tunes, Susan Spadaro said.

"What so many people really loved about him was . . . he made aviation so accessible and tangible," she said.

Steve Schukawetz, 55, one of Spadaro's last students, said despite Spadaro's "lack of polish, with a tiny airport, with everything being so homespun and rustic, there was a genuine care." Schukawetz, of Flushing, Queens, said, "The airport is so small you have to develop your skills to a much higher level in order to be able to take off and land there."

People on the ground often teased that they could hear Spadaro yelling from the cockpit, Schukawetz said. They were familiar chides to "maintain the airspeed" or "keep the picture" of the plane's nose, he said. "He never said anything softly or gently, nor did he ever try to."Former student Richard Sellentin, 70, of Bridgehampton, described Spadaro as honorable. "If he thought that someone wasn't up for flying, he wouldn't string them along and give them lessons," Sellentin said. "That's pretty honest, since that's how he made his living. It's impressive."

In addition to his daughter Susan, Spadaro is survived by daughter Barbara Shields of Oley, Pa.; sisters Lena DeCarmine of Islip and Gracie Sanfratello of Sound Beach; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife Zilda, son Fred Spadaro, daughter Zilda Spadaro Wolan; and sister Connie Scarangello.

Services were held at Sinnickson's Moriches Funeral Home and, after a farewell flight, Spadaro was buried at Calverton National Cemetery.  In lieu of flowers, loved ones may purchase a gift certificate from Stables Garden Center of East Moriches that will be used to create an airport memorial garden honoring Spadaro.


26 trained pilots graduate from Guyana’s only flight school

The flight training school was started in 2003 to supply Air Services Limited (ASL) with a cadre of professionally trained pilots to crew its ever expanding fleet.

The school is fully approved by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) from which it received an award in March 2013 for the schools invaluable contribution to the development of aviation in Guyana. However as the country’s only flight school, Guyana has been a beneficiary with the school now providing the growing aviation sector with the trained men and women needed.

All training is done at the Ogle International Airport where the school is located and where students are provided with the academic and technical skills necessary to qualify for a position as a professional pilot.

Diligent work over the years has resulted in the graduation of 26 quality trained young pilots some of whom have enabled new start up aviation companies at Ogle. One is the Chief Pilot for the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), and another is crewing one of the GDF helicopters. One has even purchased his own aircraft and is now operating privately while others are youngsters from Guyana’s hinterland, who are now providing critical air service to their communities.

One of those young Guyanese airmen is Jason Waddell, originally from Kamarang, Region Seven. He is currently pursuing his Commercial Pilot License and is said to be the “shining star” of ASLFTS.

Growing up, Waddell noted that air transport was the only means in and out of Kamarang. Becoming a commercial pilot would have enabled him to be of service to his community, as well as other hinterland communities that depend largely on air transport to move passengers and goods.

Captain Waddell has since completed his Commercial Pilot’s License and will be undergoing flight instructor training shortly. He has completed the theoretical aspect of the Commercial Pilot Program and now has to obtain flight hours to be certified as a commercial pilot.

Like Waddell, other youngsters from hinterland communities are joining ASLFTS to be part of the local aviation industry. According to ASL’s Accountable Manager, Annette Arjoon-Martins, the training school’s mandate is to produce professionally-trained pilots locally, and particularly in opening its doors to hinterland students.

She said that residents in the hinterland are long-standing customers of ASL and the company takes pride in contributing to human resource development of those residents. This was the genesis for the Hinterland Internship Program which provides the youngsters with working experience to enable them to start their careers.

At present 15 former hinterland students are fully employed by Air Services Limited.

Arjoon-Martins said that “students from the hinterland are passionate about flying because they know the importance of air transport in the remotest areas of Guyana.”

She said that one of ASL’s Senior Command Pilots is Captain Ronnie Totaram from Mabaruma, Region One, who graduated in 2006 from ASLFTS. Captain Hilmer Stoll from Mathews Ridge, Region One, is also a pilot at ASL. He graduated from the flight school in 2011 and is currently a line pilot with the company, serving his region and many other regions.

ASLFTS facilities include a state-of-the-art classroom, a flight simulator and a training fleet of three Cessna 172s. The parent company, ASL, operates a fleet of 18 aircraft of six different types. These are also an available resource to the flight school.

The school offers a complete program of aviation ground school and flight training to meet the requirements of GCAA for the private pilot license, instrument rating and commercial pilot license.

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Colorado Springs, Colorado: A promising business model takes flight at Springs airport

The days of the Colorado Springs Airport's diminishing flights and downward trending performance are almost over. Airport administrators have plans that could make the enterprise a new model for other regional airports throughout the country, and with the help of a super committee of advisers, known as the Airport Air Service Task Force, the prospects for success are improving. We may be on the brink of creating the easiest, most affordable place for airlines to do business if city officials decide to choose success.

In a meeting with The Gazette's editorial board, interim airport director Dan Gallagher spelled out plans for the immediate future that are smart, market-driven, entrepreneurial and outcome oriented.

Running an airport involves no magic. It's a simple matter of providing airlines with a low cost place to load and unload passengers, in a location that can serve particular routes more efficiently than they could elsewhere. To do this, Gallagher plans to spend considerably more on strategic, targeted marketing initiatives and less on needless amenities. Moreover, he has figured out we can reduce costs to airlines and still pay for this by simply refinancing high-rate bonds. Sounds easy, but it takes all the business experience Gallagher and his helpers can muster, as well as a supportive city to pull it off.

Past problems with the airport were caused by a bureaucratic, non-business management approach that didn't treat airlines as partners. Given the option of lower costs at more efficient airports, airlines have routinely pulled flights from Colorado Springs.

Along with high-interest debt, the airport wasted money on hardwood cherry handrails (with inlaid brushed nickel), custom-made carpeting, $180-a-gallon interior paint and lavish art exhibits. The opulent expenditures did nothing to attract passengers and only created expense for airlines that were looking for the most efficient, affordable, low-overhead airports from which to offer flights.

Today, airport management looks at airlines and the routes they provide from airports all over the country. Then they ask themselves how to make routes of similar distances more affordable from Colorado Springs.

To keep overhead low, airport executives want to sell more food, drink and other goods and services to passengers and those who pick them up and drop them off. They want more business-class and first-class passengers, who help maintain low coach fares for families and casual travelers looking for bargains. They want to restructure debt.

Airport officials also want to bring back airline service businesses that left after city government began collecting sales taxes from them several years ago. Gallagher said the tax costs more than it generates because it chases airport-based businesses to competitors, such as Meadow Lake Airport near Falcon and Centennial Airport at the Denver Tech Center.

One hurdle to attracting travelers to the Colorado Springs Airport is Denver International Airport. It's among the world's busiest airports and travelers to and from southern Colorado have long been willing to make the drive. But this turnaround is not only dependent on what happens at DIA. It is also a function of beating out other cities like Colorado Springs, which provide route service to key cities. This insight gives us even further hope that this plan can succeed.

Colorado Springs needs a flourishing airport with frequent, affordable flights to major cities throughout North America. It is an essential ingredient of reinvigorating the local economy for the sake of diversified, high-paying employment.

Planets have aligned in favor of swift and growing success at the airport. Now, the City Council holds the key. Council members have a unique opportunity to put recommendations of new airport management and the Airport Air Service Task Force into play quickly, which will make their enterprise the talk of the airline industry.

The Gazette's editorial board has thoroughly examined the most recent business model recommended for the airport and considers it a sound plan for success. It's one that focuses not just on DIA, but all the market dynamics involved. Therein lies a business plan that can succeed. Now, let's put it into action and help this city take off. Doing so will establish a favorable legacy and benefit all segments of the community.


Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, J Turbines Inc., N26RG: Accident occurred October 13, 2013 in Telluride, Colorado

NTSB Identification: CEN14CA018
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, October 13, 2013 in Telluride, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/04/2014
Aircraft: BEECH A36, registration: N26RG
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The pilot stated the reported winds near his departure time were 140 degrees at 24 knots, and he elected to depart from runway 27. During climb out, shortly after he rotated, the airplane weathervaned hard to the left and the stall warning horn sounded. The pilot felt a strong gust of wind as he attempted to clear rising terrain, and thought he encountered a strong down draft or rotor, followed by the airplane impacting terrain. Wind recorded five minutes before the accident was from 130 degrees at 15 knots, gusting to 29 knots.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's decision to take off in gusting tailwinds resulting in exceeding the performance capabilities of the airplane and subsequent loss of control.

The pilot stated the reported winds near his departure time were 140 degrees at 24 knots, and he elected to depart from runway 27. During climb out, shortly after he rotated, the airplane weathervaned hard to the left and the stall warning horn sounded. The pilot felt a strong gust of wind as he attempted to clear rising terrain, and thought he encountered a strong down draft or rotor, followed by the airplane impacting terrain. Wind recorded five minutes before the accident was from 130 degrees at 15 knots, gusting to 29 knots. The pilot reported no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operations.

TELLURIDE – The pilot of a single-engine aircraft that crashed at the Telluride Regional Airport (TEX) on Sunday, Oct. 14, at approximately 11 a.m., walked away without injuries, according to the San Miguel County Sheriff's Office. 

“The winds were pretty strong Sunday,” TEX Manager Rich Nuttall said the morning after the crash. 
The single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza A36 turboprop, piloted by a 51-year-old Mt. Crested Butte resident, took off to the west, but shortly after becoming airborne, it veered to the southwest and could not gain altitude. 
The aircraft hit the ground about 200 yards south of the TEX runway, and then skidded another 100 yards, crashing into the airport perimeter fence and some oakbrush, stopping within 30 feet of a steep cliff.
The aircraft was extensively damaged, but there was no fire.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA have been notified and will conduct an investigation. 
The incident is the second accident at TEX in the last two months. On September 1, a Great Lakes Airlines twin propeller carrying 10 passengers and two crewmembers made a successful emergency landing at TEX after the pilot noticed a warning light indicating the left landing gear was malfunctioning. 
That plane circled the airport until police, fire and Emergency Medical Service personnel could be readied for response, then made a successful emergency landing with minor damages.

“He was pretty close to the edge there,” TEX Manager Rich Nuttall said of the Oct. 14 crash, adding: “Any landing you can walk away from is a good thing. You can always replace an airplane – or a car. The crew did a good job; everybody did their thing, and everything turned out good.

“Hopefully,” Nuttall said, “there will be no more incidents for awhile.” 

Pasco couple document WWII plane crashes

Fog, sleet and light rain blanketed the Blue Mountains as Dave and Vicki McCurry returned to Deadman's Peak recently to revisit a piece of history.

The Pasco couple wants to see if a rumor was true — that large parts of a Grumman F6F Hellcat plane that Navy Ensign Norman J. Jacobs crashed on Nov. 14, 1944, were taken out of the Umatilla National Forest.

The McCurrys have visited more than 100 plane crash sites in the past two decades, many involving World War II aircraft. Dave McCurry has written a book chronicling his visits to the sites and their history. He's now at work on his second book.

The weather was nicer on the day Jacobs, a 23-year-old from New York, crashed his plane about 30 miles south of Dayton shortly after leaving the Pasco Naval Air Station, Dave McCurry said.

No radio communications were received after Jacobs left on a routine engineering flight close to the base, then considered one of the best training stations in the country. His body and the plane were found seven months later more than 60 miles from Pasco.

The cause of the crash never was determined.

"It was a nice day, but a little bit of clouds," he said. "(The plane) came through the trees and got shredded by the trees."

The McCurrys walked for more than a hour, following coordinates programmed into their GPS device — they first visited the crash site 15 years ago. The weather erased the views of the Walla Walla Valley as they hiked two miles along a ridgeline.

They spotted a small trail leading down a slick slope to the wreckage. They knew they were there when they saw a sign warning people not to take relics.

The site appeared to be unmolested by scavengers. But vegetation has grown over some of the plane's parts and a tree fell on one of its wings. Erosion even has covered some of it with dirt. Dave spotted the 2,000-horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine and trudged down the hill to inspect it more closely.

Someday, it might all be gone. "Some of these sites have completely disappeared because of erosion," Dave said.

The trip to the Hellcat crash site is a "cake walk" compared to some of the crashes the McCurrys have visited, Dave said. Now 58, such treks aren't as easy as for him as they once were. But keeping history alive makes it worth it.

"I can't bear the thought of all these people being buried and forgotten," he said. "Without these people, the outcome of World War II might have been different and this would have been Germany or Japan."

Dave published his first book, Aircraft Wrecks of the Pacific Northwest, in March.

The book details his searches for planes, mostly military aircraft, in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. The late 1990s saw a spike in interest in military crashes, because that was when the armed forces declassified World War II accident reports.

The McCurrys have spent $30,000 on their hobby over 15 years. While they hope to recoup some of that with book sales, Vicki McCurry said, "He would have done it if he had a book or not."

The area around the former Pasco Naval Air Station, now Tri-Cities Airport, is full of crashed military training planes from the World War II era, Dave McCurry said. The air station had 16 auxiliary airfields in the region.

More than 14,000 aircraft training accidents occurred in the continental United States during World War II, he said.

"Planes are like any other kind of machine where humans are involved," he said. "Boats are going to sink, trains are going to drive off the track. I've been really intrigued to see why accidents happen."

The crashes haven't affected the McCurrys' love of flying. Dave McCurry has been a pilot for 45 years, his wife for almost 25 years.

They spent their lives working in aviation — in customer service for United Express, as well as for Bergstrom Aircraft, where Dave McCurry still flies part time.

"What really bothers me is driving around in cars with all the accidents in our area," he said. "When I'm in an airplane, I feel fine. When I'm driving, I get nervous."

"We always told our friends who were druggies, 'I go get high in airplanes,' " Vicki McCurry said.

Dave has been interested in World War II planes since he was a kid, but got involved in aviation archeology as a result of an incident that hit close to home, he said.

He always wanted to find a West Coast Airlines DC-9 that crashed in 1966 near Mount Hood. He had seen the same plane months earlier at the opening of the new terminal at the Pasco airport.

"I had always wondered, what happened? What's there?" he said.

The McCurrys located the plane from the air in 1997, and decided to plan a trip to the crash site. While camping in the wilderness, they happened to meet a group of aviation writers on the same mission. The contacts helped lead to his writing career.

Most of the planes the McCurrys search for are from 60 or more years ago, since federal requirements now require debris to be removed from crash sites. But they did visit the site of an Air Force C-130 transport plane that crashed in 1995 near Bliss, Idaho, which was too difficult to remove.

"The later ones have memorials, placards and crosses," Vicki McCurry said.

Dave McCurry is now close to finishing his second book. They want it to cover more than the initial book.

"It's got the history of the area, like missile silos and bombing ranges," Vicki McCurry said.

But Dave wants to wrap it up by finding a plane that has long eluded him — a Bell P-63 Kingcobra fighter plane that crashed near Soap Lake. The couple recently made their 10th trip to where they've been told the plane is located.

They have spent 63 hours hiking and driven more than 2,100 miles to try to find the site without success. But Dave McCurry is certain that the plane is up there.

"It's all just sagebrush and desert plants," he said. "You'd think if it were up there, we'd find it pretty easy, but this one's elusive."

Dave McCurry has searched for other planes for up to eight years off and on, only to eventually find them.

"You don't give up," he said. "You get more and more information from various places."

So it's a special feeling when Dave does find such a plane.

"It just wipes your body out," he said. "When you finally find it, it's just like a gold mine."

His wife and constant companion also likes finding the plane.

"I'm so happy because I know we don't have to go back again," Vicki said.

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Beechrafters to fill skies this week: Tullahoma Regional Airport (KTHA), Tennessee

Ground and aerial activities including fireworks are planned when the 40th annual Beechcraft Convention gets underway in Tullahoma Wednesday through Sunday, Oct. 16-20.

Dozens of aircraft from antique to modern will be flying in from all parts of the country. At least 250 persons have registered for the event, which will be headquartered at the Beechcraft Heritage Museum south of the Tullahoma Regional Airport.

Charles Parish, convention co-chairman, reviewed the planned activities for members of the Tullahoma Airport Authority at their meeting Tuesday night.

One of the special attractions will be pilot Julie Clark who will be giving aerobatic precision performances in her  T-34 Mentor, Parish said.

A fireworks show also is planned this year, and although the program is presented for the convention members, the  public can view the show from the grounds around the terminal.

“The show will be presented by a professional pyrotechnical individual,” Parish told the board.

He also noted the fact that pilots would be able to purchase fuel under $5 a gallon this year. Airport manager Jon Glass said fuel prices at the Tullahoma airport are among the lowest in the area.

In another item considered by the authority, Kiwanis Club member Mike Rutherford asked if the club could have permission to hold its annual fireworks show on Friday, July 4th, 2014. Members of the  authority voted their permission unanimously

Rutherford said the club did not make money off this year’s show but did better than some held in the past.


Charlotte Airport Commission to meet Nov. 7, Orr to retire by 2015

The newly-appointed Charlotte Airport Commission will hold its first meeting Nov. 7, and executive director Jerry Orr said he will retire no later than June 2015 — though it’s unclear whether Orr will actually be able to return and run the airport again before that.

Orr’s 2015 retirement date is the first time he’s publicly named a time to step down. Orr, known for his taciturn style and dry wit, ran Charlotte Douglas International Airport since 1989 and worked there since 1975. Orr, 72, has said little about his retirement plans beyond quips about he has wanted to retire since the day he started work.

But Orr was removed from his job as aviation director in July, after the N.C. General Assembly passed a bill creating a new, independent body to oversee the airport and remove day-to-day operations from the city’s control. Orr says he was fired, but city leaders say he resigned.

He continues to receive his $211,000 salary, because in the bill the General Assembly passed, Orr is named as director of the airport commission. Now, Orr is spending his time working with former Charlotte mayor and attorney Richard Vinroot to get the commission up and running and get his job back.

It’s also unclear what the commission will have to do at its first meeting. A Superior Court judge issued a temporary injunction blocking the commission’s implementation earlier this year, at the city’s request. That judge still must rule on whether or not the commission should be allowed run the airport or not.

For now, the airport is still operated as an independently-funded department of the city, with interim aviation director Brent Cagle reporting to city manager Ron Carlee. If the judge allows the commission law to be implemented, Orr would automatically get his job back and return to oversee the airport and the commission would take over most aspects of running the airport.

In a Saturday letter to the commission’s 13 members, Orr indicated the first meeting will be largely informational.

“We’ll have a lot to talk about at our first meeting on November 7,” Orr wrote. “I’m planning to provide you with

as much ‘orientation’ as possible that night concerning the complexities you’ll face in your governance

of this $165 million business going forward.”

In a special to the Observer published Sunday, Orr admitted the city’s lawsuit currently limits the commission’s authority. But he also called for city leaders and others to move beyond the “petty politics” that have characterized much of the fight about the airport so far.

“People are tired of political stalemate, and continued bickering creates the misimpression of instability at our airport,” Orr wrote. “That’s risky, particularly at a time when our biggest tenant, US Airways, is negotiating a merger and deciding which airports to invest in.”

Orr told the commission members in his letter that he wants to serve during a “transitional period” that would run through June 2015. That would give Orr time to oversee the rest of several major airport projects, including the intermodal rail cargo transfer yard and the airport’s new hourly parking decks and entrance road.

The airport commission would have time to search for a permanent director, Orr said. And it would allow him to oversee negotiations with the airport’s biggest tenant, US Airways. The airline, which operates almost 90 percent of daily flights at Charlotte Douglas, has a master lease scheduled to expire in 2016.

Last week, Orr told the Observer that he didn’t think the city’s recent actions, such as a series of audits recently begun, would hurt lease negotiations as long as he was back in charge.

“I think if I’m there when we negotiate the lease, it won’t have any kind of impact,” said Orr. 

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Air traffic controller learns he's not being paid from paycheck

OAKLAND, Calif. —

With the federal government shut down, air traffic controllers learned Friday that they'll be working without a paycheck until lawmakers start paying the bills again.

“We have a stressful job, this just adds to it,” said 26 year veteran air traffic controller Greg Colyer.

Colyer says after working an 80 hour pay period was stunned to see on his statement Friday that he had only been paid for 56 hours; right up until midnight October 1st.

He's worried what will happen if the shutdown stretches through the next pay period.

“In 2 weeks if congress doesn't pass a budget we're just going to get an I.O.U.” said Colyer

Coyler was one of many air traffic controllers who stressed their commitment to safety Saturday.

“We're dedicated professionals and we're going to go work every day and do our jobs like we're supposed to do. It's just this puts a little bit extra stress on us,” said Coyler.

Passengers flying Saturday were stunned to learn the air traffic controllers who guided their planes were working for free.

“If shutdowns are the way of the future, if the government can't make it work, then they need to think of certain classes of individuals that are exempt, and continue to get paid, and air traffic controllers being one of them,” said Justina Lee, who flew into Oakland from Orange County.

The air traffic controllers were informed that they would be paid when the shutdown is over, but Coyler said that they’re worried that some will not be able to cover their bills if the shutdown stretches too far.


Balloon Fiesta bystanders help pilots land during windy morning

 Unpredictable winds led to some close calls at Balloon Fiesta on Saturday morning.

Balloon pilots found themselves flying on a picture perfect day mixed with less than perfect wind patterns.

A 13-year veteran pilot told KOB Eyewitness News 4 he relied on the good graces of strangers to help him land.

"You know, like two-thirds of the people who helped here were just bystanders," pilot Rick James said.

He confirmed exactly what balloon watchers witnessed over and over again: Close calls with power lines in the middle of the North Valley and overshot landings in large open land or parking lots just north of I-40.

"We had a good line on a couple of fields, and right as we got to them, we just got swept off, you know, to one side or the other," James said.

While it wasn't exactly an easy day, pilots said it was an opportunity to prove that the beauty of a weekend experience like this is worth the sacrifice.

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Morale wanes as Natrona County, Wyoming, air traffic controllers worry about finances

David Blum is working without pay.

He’s an air traffic controller at the Casper/Natrona County International Airport and is among the 1.3 million essential federal employees working during the partial federal government shutdown.

The congressional impasse that led to a shutdown over a short-term spending bill on Oct. 1 didn’t force Blum to stay home from work. Instead it required that he continue to work — without pay — until lawmakers in Washington come to an agreement over how to fund the government.

The financial burden couldn’t have come at a worse time for Blum. His wife just gave birth to the couple’s second child. He just put a down payment on a new home.

“I am completely depleted of money,” he said.

The U.S. House passed a bill guaranteeing that all federal workers will receive back pay for the hours they work during the shutdown. The bill is likely to clear the Senate and receive President Barack Obama's signature, but it does little for the morale of federal employees who don’t know when they will deposit their next paychecks.

Right now the eight air traffic controllers and the nine trainees working in the Natrona County tower are being paid in IOUs, said Stu Bernhardt, union representative for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association in Casper.

Bernhardt and other union representatives across the country have encouraged air traffic controllers to call their members of Congress in a national effort to put a stop to the shutdown.

“There’s been significant outreach,” Bernhardt said.

He had to tell the air traffic crew working at the airport they wouldn’t be paid until Congress worked out a deal. Spirits foundered, Bernhardt said.

“We’re stuck in the middle of a tug of war,” he said.

Blum is moving to Florida at the end of the month to work at an air traffic tower in Tallahassee. He gave an advance payment to a moving company. He’s scrounging for travel expenses. He’s telling bill collectors he might not be able to pay on time.

“It’s frustrating because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.

Blum stands alongside security forces, veterans' doctors and active military members who remain on the job while Congress is at a standoff and 800,000 government workers remain out of work.

This year hasn’t been easy for the 17 federal personnel who coordinate the 200 flights that land and take off at the Natrona County airport every day, Bernhardt said.

When the across-the-board-cuts known as sequestration took effect March 1, air traffic controllers were in the spotlight after mandatory furloughs in the Federal Aviation Administration caused delays and triggered a public uproar throughout the nation. Half of the air traffic crew in Natrona County was forced to take furlough days. The furloughs only lasted for five days after angry passengers fussed about being kept waiting on the ground. But with a deadlocked Congress still signaling nothing but uncertainty, air traffic controllers are unsure about what the future holds, Bernhardt said

“Furloughs are still a possibility,” he said. “That means less eyes and increased workloads.”

Despite the low morale among federal workers performing their jobs without pay, it looks like business as usual at airports. No one is screaming more than normal about delays, and thousands of airplanes are flying across the globe.

Transportation Security Agency screeners are still patting down travelers, and air traffic controllers are guiding pilots.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure the national airspace system isn’t affected by this,” Bernhardt said.

Controllers seldom receive praise for performing one of the most stressful jobs. Passenger safety on the ground and in the air hinges on the work they do, said Glenn Januska, airport manager at Natrona County.

“I feel for them,” he said.

Since the shutdown, nasty weather and other unforeseen events have thrown wrenches in the ordinary day-to-day operations of controllers.

The fall snowstorm that dumped 16 inches of snow on Casper triggered a power outage at the airport on Oct. 5. Operations had to be shifted to another tower. Computers didn't function. Controllers used an antiquated radio system. Bernhardt and a crew of air traffic controllers put in a 16-hour day trying to fix the problem. None of the controllers has hope of being paid overtime for the extra work.

With the government shutdown, no employee can receive any paid time off. Some air traffic controllers in Natrona County had to cancel vacations. Blum planned on spending a few days with his newborn son. But he couldn’t afford to do it.

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Cable theft causes OR Tambo flight delays

Johannesburg - Cable theft caused a number of flights to be delayed on Sunday at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, the airport said.

"We don't have a fuel shortage. We have three severely damaged power cables that has prevented us from refueling aircraft at the airport," said Airports Company SA spokesperson Unathi Batyashe-Fillis.

"This was due to an attempted robbery of the cables. It's just outside the perimeter of the airport."

Police were investigating, and airport technicians had been working since around 11:00 to restore power to the cables.

"Once that is done we can then start operations as soon as possible," she said.

"Operations are not at a standstill. Flights are still departing but many are still on the ground and delayed. Refueling is taking place but at a very slow rate."

Once the cables had been replaced and power restored, the process of clearing the flight back log would begin.

This would be done on a first-come-first-serve basis as determined by Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS).

"Flights couldn't take off from around 10:00. At the last count, it was roughly around 20 flights that couldn't depart," said Batyashe-Fillis

"They were mainly local flights but a few international flights were also affected. We are hoping to get everything running before the majority of international flights begin departing later this [Sunday] afternoon."

India's hi-fliers selling their jets and chartering flights

 MUMBAI: India's big companies are selling their own jets and chartering flights because of rising operational and input costs amid a sluggish economy and a weak rupee.

In the past year, the number of nonscheduled operators in the country has fallen to 125 from 150, with several companies getting rid of their private jets. The slack has been taken up by private jet operators.

 "We are currently doing 55 flights a month now, up 20% from a year earlier," said Atiesh Mishra, general manager of Taj Air, the Tata Group's charter unit. Taj Air has an alliance with Deccan Charters Ltd and Business Jets India Pvt for operating business jets in India. Companies are scrapping or delaying plans to buy planes because of the economic environment.

"There are a lot of corporates who have postponed their plans of buying planes and are looking to hire services of private charter operators. That has led to a rise in passengers for us," said Robin Sharma of Reliance Transport Travels.

The rupee weakened about 20% between January and August, increasing foreign exchange costs for Indian companies. That included costs of buying and leasing planes as well as salaries to expatriate staff. The rupee has strengthened since hitting a record low in August. Business plane prices have risen 25% in the past year because of the currency weakness, said Rajeev Wadhwa, chairman and managing director of Baron Luxury and Lifestyle.

Baron sells business jet flights through annual memberships at rates ranging between Rs 25 lakh andRs 2 crore. It has a fleet of nine planes and shares flying hours with other charter operators for 18 more planes in India. Vedanta Resources sold its jets two years back and now charters planes, an executive said.

Mishra said landing, parking and ground-handling charges have increased, adding to expenses. Most charter operators have been passing on such increases as additional charges to customers, while keeping their base rates intact. But that too is set to change.

For instance, Taj Air has been charging Rs 2.85 lakh per hour for its Falcon 2000, but plans to increase this by up to 15% in the next few months. Another factor that discourages companies from having their own jets is the lack of parking space at Mumbai airport. As the business capital of the country, this is where most of business travel originates.

Mumbai currently has about 30 parking slots for business aircraft, the last one allocated in 2006. But only half of them can be used for permanent parking. The companies using the rest of the slots, can only park their planes for 48 hours. Any operator parking a plane for more than 48 hours has to pay a penalty, said a Mumbai International Airport Ltd spokesperson. This ranges from Rs 1,000 to Rs 8,000 an hour.

"So a business jet has to now park in a place like Aurangabad since there are no slots in Mumbai," said Wadhwa. This means an increase in flying time and charges, he said. An executive at Indiabulls, which recently lost its parking slot in Mumbai, said that because of the penalties, the charges at the airport are 10 times what had been agreed upon when the company started flying to the airport. Ahmedabad is therefore becoming the new hub for business aircraft.

"The airport is open 24 hours and has international operations and is preferred by companies as a parking place. The airport currently has about 16 business jets parked in it, from four a year back," said Mishra.

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Effects of government shutdown start to reach Mercer County, New Jersey, could prove to be catastrophic

TRENTON — While President Barack Obama and legislators continue talks to fund the federal budget, Mercer County is feeling the effects of across-the-board furloughs and funding cuts caused by the government shutdown.

Those effects could become catastrophic if the shutdown continues much longer, especially at the Trenton-Mercer Airport, where pilots and passengers again face the prospect of flying without an active control tower.

Seven employees man the airport’s air traffic control tower, paid for by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Federal Contract Tower program that staffs 255 towers across the country.

Ron Taylor, president of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization Local 81, which represents the Trenton-Mercer air traffic controllers, said the entire Federal Contract Tower program will come to a halt on Nov. 1 if there isn’t a resolution. Their present contract runs out Oct. 31.

Unlike some federal employees who have continued to work without being paid, promised reimbursement upon a Congressional resolution, the controllers won’t work without a contract, Taylor said.

“This has reached out to the real world now. The people in mainstream America, the federal employees, they have their own rules,” Taylor said. “But these guys aren’t public employees. They’re contractors and, if they don’t get paid by the FAA, they don’t go to work.”

The tower was also in danger of closing earlier this year, when the FAA announced it would stop funding more than 150 towers at small airports, including Trenton-Mercer, as a result of federal spending cuts. The decision was reversed less than one month later.

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Civil Aviation and Safety Authority reveal commercial pilots have been using cheat sheets in Air Transport Pilot License exams

Commercial pilots have been caught cheating on essential safety exams because the regulator has not changed the tests for 20 years.

Pilots have been emailing and printing out the answers to the exams and secretly pasting them into textbooks allowed into the mandatory tests.

The rort came to light in the prosecution of a Queensland-based pilot who was banned from flying after the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority (CASA) found he had emailed the answers to another pilot.

The ban was overturned on appeal but the allegations made by prosecutors raise fears of widespread cheating because the watchdog failed to regularly change the exam questions, making it easy for pilots to take "coded" answers into open book exams.

Last year a whistleblower tipped off CASA, revealing four cheat sheet pages with answers to 33 questions hidden inside a Boeing 727 handbook allowed into exam rooms.

The whistleblower claimed it was "common knowledge'' that candidates for the highest grade pilot's license examination, Air Transport Pilot License, used cheat sheets.

AAT Deputy President Philip Hack SC said the description seemed "entirely accurate''.

"The conclusion is inescapable that the four pages were designed to be taken into an examination room and to provide an improper advantage to any candidate using them,'' Mr Hack said.

"Any such use was plainly gross and flagrant cheating.''

However, on Thursday Mr Hack cleared Queensland commercial pilot Kyle Marsh of cheating, overturning CASA's decision to suspend his licenses for six months.

Last year CASA was given information suggesting Mr Marsh may have cheated in the October 2011 ATPL flight planning exam, the Administrative Appeal tribunal heard.

Mr Marsh strongly denied cheating in his exam, but admitted that in July last year he emailed the four pages of coded answers to some of the questions to another person.

The man who was sent the coded answers had passed the exam the year before.

The tribunal heard that at least by 2011 numerous documents with answers to many of the exam questions were circulating widely among students.

Mr Hack said "someone'' had incorporated four pages of coded answers into pages from the Boeing 727 handbook allowed in exam rooms. A CASA investigator found Mr Marsh's exam answers were consistent with the "compromised'' answers in the cheat sheet.

Mr Hack said he was satisfied Mr Marsh, a man with a "passion for aviation'', who understood the need for integrity in dealing with CASA, did not cheat.

He also found that no one could have received an unfair advantage in the exam, because Mr Marsh did not email the four pages until July last year.

Mr Hack set aside CASA's decisions and license suspensions.

A spokesman for CASA said it was considering its position.

"CASA will consider appealing to the Federal Court," he said. "Once CASA became aware, it changed the test."

Crash pilot had suffered epileptic fit


Egypt Military Plane Crashes near Luxor Killing One

One person was killed and three injured in the incident, Luxor Security Director Mostafa Bakr told Ahram Arabic news website.

Ali Reda, 35, a farmer, was killed in the incident. Two other civilians and the pilot were injured. Several animals also died.

Bakr said that the Russian made MiG-21 plane exploded in air and its blazing parts fell on agricultural areas and houses’ yards setting fires.

The crash took place at 10:20am due to a "sudden malfunction," Army Spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali said.

The situation is being monitored, he added.

Ambulances and fire engines are at the scene which has been cordoned off by the security forces.

AirSho spectators comment on possible Commemorative Air Force relocation as warbirds strip the skies

After one of the youngest Commemorative Air Force members and volunteers flew in an SNB-5 Twin Beech aircraft, the young Midlander stepped out of the plane, ran to her father -- High Sky Wing member Jay Burns -- and gave him a huge hug. 

“Daddy, we just did a left-hand break over the numbers for an in-file landing, and it was fun!" exclaimed Piper Burns, now 5, who attended her first AirSho at just 3 weeks old.

Past experiences like this forged Piper’s love for flight. But during the CAF’s 50th annual AirSho on Saturday, “Piper Cub” -- nicknamed by High Sky Wing members after the aircraft -- traded the cockpit for a seat on the flight line with her dad to watch the vintage military aircraft perform air manuevers and flight aerobics.

The little girl in a colorful skirt, pink shoes and red curly hair covered her ears as the planes performed pyrotechnics, but Jay Burns said she loves the aircraft -- and she can name them all. 

As a warbird taxied by the tent, Piper correctly called it -- a P-40 Warhawk -- one of her favorites.

Still, Piper's first love is the B-29 Superfortress, “FiFi.” Burns remembers when he gave her money to buy a toy at the American Airpower Heritage Museum. Instead, Piper donated it to the world’s only flying B-29.  S

“FiFi -- she’s my plane,” said Piper, who loves to polish the planes, sweep out the hangars and help the High Sky Wing wherever she can. 

Burns, a Midlander who teaches history to sophomores, juniors and seniors at Permian High School in Odessa, calls the CAF living history. He started attending AirSho with his father when he was Piper’s age.

“It was only right for me to bring her along,” he said. 

The AirSho started Saturday afternoon with a milestone lineup featuring the CAF’s fleet of about 159 warbirds -- including FiFi and B-24 Liberator Diamond Lil -- and performances by the Texas Flying Legends, the world’s smallest microjet and a jet-propelled Shockwave truck.

The day before the AirSho, colonels voted on whether to relocate CAF headquarters to one of six airports in the Houston, San Antonio or Dallas metropolitan areas. Members can vote this month by absentee ballot. 

The organization announced in May its intention to elevate its national presence by relocating just the CAF’s administrative offices and establishing a new air base. As spectators kept their eyes to the skies, some voiced concerns about the possible move, but others weren’t aware of the upcoming changes to the CAF, which moved to Midland in 1991.

Jimmy Myers, a cotton farmer in the Lubbock area, waited patiently for the next aerial act after the FLS Microjet -- weighing in at only 400 pounds -- soared through the air making twists and turns. 

The jet’s pilot, Justin Lewis, flew a F-14 Tomcat in the Tom Cruise movie, “Top Gun.” The jet also appeared in the James Bond movie, “Octopussy.”

“He pretty much wears this little airplane,” the announcer told a large crowd of spectators.

Myers was impressed by the little plane, but like Piper, he comes for FiFi, which moved its home to Cavanaugh Air Base in Addison in 2008. 

“I’m disappointed the B-29 moved away,” said the 67-year-old, who used to enjoy visiting her in the winter. 

As for the possible relocation, Myers isn’t sure much will change. 

“Would (the move) affect me? If the AirSho and museum stayed here?” he asked. “I like it the closer the better, but probably not.”

Farther down the flight line, near a row of trucks selling food, drink and accessories, Odessan Kathy Brown stood with her niece and young granddaughter as Jan Collmer performed loops, half loops, rolls and a rare feat -- the “Triple Immelmann,” named after aviator Max Immelmann -- in a blue and white Extra 300L.

Brown said her father was a World War II Army veteran and that she’s always excited to visit the AirSho with her kids. But her favorite part of the CAF is the museum.

“I love to go see if they put anything new,” she said. 

CAF President and CEO Stephan Brown said the annual AirSho and museum will stay in Midland -- even if headquarters relocates to a larger metropolitan area -- but the Odessa mom said “a move is a move.”

“I would rather see it stay here,” she said. “It’s a big deal to keep it in Midland.”

Just then, a series of booms spooked spectators as they traveled around the CAF complex, which includes the Airpower Museum, Main Hangar and Bush Commemorative Center. That’s when pilot Collmer challenged the Shockwave Jet Truck, a triple jet-engine truck that can drive up to 376 miles per hour, to a race down the runway. 

High Sky Wing member H.A. Tuck, who gave thumbs up to pilots after they performed all day, said the truck could knock someone back in their chair, and its power proved to be enough for Collmer’s speed.

Spectators went back to their business as the race ended. Some stayed for upcoming performers, while others observed historical re-enactments and booths set up by organizations and CAF units from around the country. 

That’s where Bob Bates, a colonel and officer with the Mississippi Wing, sold planes, calendars and other products to raise money. 

Bates said he’s been to every CAF AirSho, which started in Harlingen’s Rebel Field with just nine aircraft, and can see the pros and cons of a possible CAF headquarters relocation.

Bates understands why Midlanders would want to keep the headquarters here, but the biggest change would be the creation of regional air bases.

Local High Sky Wing member Bill Coombes previously said the opportunities of having “Air Base West Texas,” a regional hub for all of the wings and squadrons in the area, are infinite. 

“The regional air base concept is designed to try to give those members who aren’t right next to a unit -- who don’t live in Midland or Odessa or Dallas or wherever there is a CAF unit -- some sense of ownership,” Coombes said. 

Bates said the concept could benefit areas of the county -- like his -- that have units of different sizes scattered across states. It also means more air shows if CAF fleets can move from base to base on the weekends, he said.

Back in the Main Hangar, where XCOR set up Lynx full-scale model, Susan Tercero and her family watched warbirds create a “wall of fire” by performing pyrotechnics down a runway. 

This is the Andrews family’s first AirSho. Tercero's 9-year-old son, Marius, loves the museum because of the history and airplanes. Even though both the AirSho and Airpower Museum are staying, the Andrews mom worries about Midland losing the title -- and identity -- of the headquarters being based here. 

“I think that this is one of things that attracts people to Midland,” Tercero said. “I think they should keep it.”

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Foothills Regional Airport (KMRN), Morganton, North Carolina: Answers in holding pattern

MORGANTON, NC — Three men pleaded guilty to taking money from the Foothills Regional Airport that sits between Morganton and Lenoir.

Randy Hullette, former chairman of the board of Foothills Regional Airport, pleaded guilty Aug. 21 in federal court in Asheville to embezzlement and witness tampering. Alex Nelson, former airport manager, pleaded guilty in September 2012 for conspiracy, embezzling, and money laundering. Brad Adkins, the operations manager, pleaded guilty on the same day to conspiracy and embezzlement. The three men have yet to be sentenced.

That’s important because it was tax money, culled from federal, state and local allotments, that is at the heart of the charges. In short, they stole from you, the taxpayers.

A presentence investigation report for Nelson and Adkins was filed Sept. 11 but the reports are sealed documents available only to the attorneys on the case. The reports aren’t accessible even after the case is over, according to federal officials. Reports contain a lot of information beyond the particulars of the case such as personal/private information. For example, reports can include information about a person's medical or mental health condition, federal officials say.

Each side in a case gets to file any objections to a presentence investigation report. Both Nelson and Adkins have filed for and been granted an extension to answer the presentence investigation.

Once the final presentence report is filed, the date for sentencing will be scheduled, federal officials say.

Will others be charged in the case? Let’s look at some of the unanswered questions that remain.

Were two fuel trucks sold?

When the FBI was tracking down possible crimes related to the airport, the sale of two fuel trucks were found to be part of the case. But the revelation went nowhere.

Airport and local government representatives clammed up when talk turned to the sale of the fuel trucks — one jet fuel truck and one aviation fuel truck.

The FBI instructed officials not to talk about the trucks or what could have happened to the money from the sale, Louis Vinay, attorney for the airport, said at the time.

In 2010, the airport replaced two fuel trucks it owned with two new trucks. The new ones are leased.

There was never a bill of sale for the original two trucks, and the money from the sale never ended up in the airport’s bank account.

Hullette, Nelson and Adkins, pleaded guilty but the two fuel trucks were not mentioned.

Louis Vinay, attorney for the airport board and Morganton city attorney, said he has heard nothing about the fuel trucks during the plea agreements with Hullette, Nelson and Adkins.

One of the charges Hullette pleaded to — witness tampering — indicated other people were involved, Vinay said.

And Vinay said the airport has not closed its books on the matter.

“No one has forgotten the fuel truck sales, certainly,” Vinay said.

Is there money missing from timber sales?

Questions last year also arose around timber that was cut from airport property and sold.

When the FBI raided the airport in June 2012, the warrant included records from the airport involving Nelson and Adkins and Hullette, Hullette Aviation, Burkemont Service Center, RANMAC, Inc., Jeffrey Rose, Grady Rose Tree Service, Jimmy “Ron” Gilbert, Gilbert Grading and Construction, Simon Roofing and Parton Lumber.

At times, timber on the property was cut and sold to inject money into the airport budget. Last year, airport officials said there was no record of the board voting on more than cuttings in 2012 and around 2008.

A deed appears to have been drawn up March 11 2008 but wasn’t signed until March 11, 2011. Cutting a 28-acre portion of a larger tract on Old Amherst Road brought in $28,000, with any additional timber cut beyond that amount bringing more money.

There are three contracts for Parton Lumber, named in the timber deed as Parton Forest Product in Rutherfordton, to cut timber on airport property. Each one is a timber deed that was never filed with Burke County Register of Deeds, but that’s not unusual, Vinay said last year.

One is dated Dec. 27, 2010 for $59,107 for cutting timber from a 32-acre portion of a larger tract and signed by former airport manager Alex Nelson.

Another one was dated May 11, 2010 but wasn’t signed until May 11, 2011. The deed was for $39,000 to cut a 40-acre portion of a larger tract of land.

Last year, Vinay talked to several board members who said they were aware of the timber cuttings. But, Vinay said, the meeting minutes didn’t show the board ever voted on it.

At the time, Vinay said the airport received all the payments required under all the timber contracts since 2010, which is as far back as he has documents.

In 2012, the airport entered into two contracts with Parton Lumber Company in Rutherfordton to cut timber from 70 acres of airport property. One contract was dated March 9 for $10,000 and the other was for March 27 for $50,900, Vinay said at the time. The $2,700 difference between revenues from the timber sales and the contract amounts was what was paid as commission to an independent timber broker, he said.

Recently, Vinay said, however, that he’s not aware of any money the airport didn’t receive from the sale of timber from its property.

 Restitution for what was stolen

The federal government’s prosecution of Hullette, Nelson and Adkins isn’t just about punishing wrongdoing but also about restitution.

And airport officials would also like to get back money the trio, and any others that may be involved, stole from the airport and, ultimately, taxpayers.

Nelson’s assets include his home in Lenoir. The federal government put a lien on the house when it raided the airport. The lien document said, in part, that the property, “May be subject to forfeiture and as substitute property…” Nelson’s home and property in Lenoir is valued at $182,700, according to Caldwell County land records.

In recent federal documents, the government said Nelson was subject to a forfeiture of $130,000 cash. As partial satisfaction of the money judgment, the preliminary judgment includes Nelson’s property at 4640 Celia Creek Road, Lenoir, a 2006 Ford Expedition, a Sun Tracker Party Barge 25 pontoon boat with motor and a 2001 Chevrolet Corvette convertible.

However, the federal government is going to have to fight Nelson’s wife, Tammy Nelson, and his ex-wife, Joy Nelson Brooks.

Tammy claims money to install a pool and to buy the vehicles was money she received from a retirement account, a severance package and investments.

Joy Nelson Brooks said, in a claim, the property the house sits on in Lenoir was given to her by her parents and she wants $25,000 for the property.

In addition, Hullette claims a Mercedes the government seized from Nelson was his and he wants it back. He claims Nelson drove the car but never paid for it. That case has been temporarily on hold, according to court documents.

Vinay said he knows Nelson and Adkins have assets, and he figures the court will have to hold a hearing on the claims against Nelson’s property. It’s also clear Hullette has assets, he said. A property search in Burke County shows Hullette owns 16 properties.

Burke put Hullette on board

The airport authority board members are appointed by commissioners from Burke and Caldwell counties and the councils of the cities of Morganton and Lenoir.

Hullette was appointed in 2006, along with Commissioner Wayne Abele, to the airport authority board as part of the consent agenda of the Republican-controlled Burke County Board of Commissioners. The consent agenda consists of different items that are considered non-controversial and are voted on in one motion. Commissioner Maynard Taylor made the motion to approve the consent agenda.

The two-year appointment to the airport board came up for a vote again in 2008 as an item for decision. The Democrat-controlled board of commissioners voted to appoint Jesse Searcy over a Hullette reappointment. The two Republican commissioners, Abele and Taylor, voted to once again appoint Hullette.

The appointment came up again in 2010 and Republicans were back in control of the board of commissioners. It was Taylor who nominated Hullette to be appointed to the airport authority board. But it was two Republicans and two Democrats, including Steve Smith and Bruce Hawkins, who appointed Hullette to serve on the airport authority board again. One Republican commissioner, Gene Huffman, was absent for the vote, according to minutes from the meetings.

It was Hullette, chairman of the airport authority at the time, who had an employment contract for Nelson drawn up. Hullette signed it. The contract was dated Dec. 12, 2008.

It was determined after the FBI raid that the employment contract for Nelson, which paid him $75,000 a year and paid for his insurance and cell phone, was not valid because the board never voted on it.

Soon after the FBI raid on June 5, 2012, the airport board voted to suspend Nelson and Adkins without pay. The board voted on July 25 to fire Nelson and Adkins.

Hullette stopped attending airport board meetings after the FBI raid. Citing Hullette missing too many meetings, Burke County commissioners voted to replace Hullette in September 2012.


The cities of Morganton and Lenoir and the counties of Burke and Caldwell help fund the airport. Tax money collected on airplanes by Burke and Caldwell counties transport that money, or a portion of it, back to the airport, Sandy said.

For instance:

In 2010-11, the local government funding was $42,505.

2011-12, local government funding was $44,320

2012-13, local government funding was $27,491

2013-14, the budgeted funding is $25,546.

(Funding from the cities of Morganton and Lenoir and the counties of Burke and Caldwell vary depending on capital projects and airport costs.)

Randy Hullette

Pleaded guilty Aug. 21, 2013 to: Embezzlement – maximum sentence is 10 years; witness tampering – maximum sentence is 20 years. Each charge carries a maximum payment of $250,000. As part of his plea deal, Hullette’s restitution is yet to be determined.

Alex Nelson

Pleaded guilty Sept. 24, 2012 to: Public corruption conspiracy, embezzlement and money laundering. He is facing a maximum sentence of 35 years.

Received: A $130,000 forfeiture money judgment. As part of a partial satisfaction of the $130,000 forfeiture money judgment, Nelson would forfeit his home, a pontoon boat, an SUV and a Corvette.

Bradley Adkins

Pleaded guilty Sept. 24, 2012 to: Public corruption conspiracy and embezzlement. Adkins faces a maximum sentence of 15 years.

Received: An $85,000 forfeiture money judgment.

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EagleMed celebrates one year


After serving one year in the Panhandle, EagleMed LLC, an air medical transport service, celebrated their anniversary at Western Nebraska Regional Airport last month.

EagleMed bases a fully medically-equipped Beechcraft King Air B200 at the airport to help serve medical patients in Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota and Colorado. In their first year, EagleMed’s flight crews and clinical staff transported critical care patients with specific needs to hospitals throughout Nebraska, Colorado and as far away as Georgia and Los Angeles, Calif., to meet those care needs.

“EagleMed has been pleased to work with the Western Nebraska Regional Airport Authority Board, the Twin Cities Development Association, the Scottsbluff City Council and the Scotts Bluff County Board of Commissioners to make this service milestone a reality,” said EagleMed President Larry Bugg. “Congratulations are also in order for our safety-conscious flight and medical crew based in Scottsbluff whose expertise and professionalism are dedicated to providing safe, world-class patient care to the communities they serve.”

Holly Anderson, the EagleMed program manager at WNRA, said she and the organization are excited to celebrate a full year in western Nebraska, and the community has been very welcoming.

“We are blessed to be able to meet the needs of a new population of patients and have nurtured some great relationships in the business community, allowing us to contribute to the overall economic health of our region,” she said.

Anderson said EagleMed has also been fortunate to contribute readily to the hundreds of medical flight boardings at WNRA. This has helped keep the airport on track with their yearly boarding numbers while helping medical patients travel all over the nation.

“Some highlights include California, Texas, Georgia, Indiana and Minnesota,” she said. “We fly within a several hundred mile radius quickly and safely serving our patients special needs. That’s one great advantage of flying the King Air B200.”

With these multiple flights performed last year, the caring services of EagleMed didn’t go unnoticed. Anderson said she was able to talk with some of the patients at the Scotts Bluff County Fair as a vendor and had the opportunity to get feedback from several patients they had served.

“It was amazing to see them and hear their stories of success,” she said. “There were hugs and even some tears and I was amazed at the outpouring of thanks we received for simply doing our jobs. We are blessed to be tasked as caretakers of our friends, families and community members.”

Anderson said the WNRA has been an incredible new home for EagleMed and is thankful for their support over the past year and looks forward to more years at that location to help the service areas.

“I hope that we can continue to contribute to their (WNRA) growth and development and hopefully aid them in new opportunities on the horizon,” she said. “We as a team will continue to push ourselves to become better caregivers and clinicians, to find new ways to support our community members as they have supported us and to bring needed services to the region.”


Shrinking demand for small airports started decades ago


General contractor Paul Boehmler runs Ocean View Builders in Dennis Township, New Jersey,  surviving in a tough economy by working mainly in the island communities of Avalon and Stone Harbor, he said.

Now the 35-year-old father of two young children is investing in a potential second career as a pilot, taking flying lessons with Aerial Skyventures at Woodbine Municipal Airport. He plans to spend about $10,000 to get his private pilot license, and eventually up to $60,000 to get his commercial license, he said.

He’s bucking a national trend, in which fewer people are becoming pilots, or staying active as pilots. That’s expected to lead to a commercial pilot shortage in the next 20 years, as global growth will require about 500,000 new pilots by 2032 — especially to service the fast-growing Asia Pacific Region — according to the recently released 2013 Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook report.

But the recession isn’t to blame; the trend goes back at least 30 years.

In 1980, there were 827,000 active, certificated pilots, and by 2011, that number had dropped to 617,000, according to the national Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Estimated student certificates fell from about 65,000 issued in 2002 to 55,000 in 2011, according to the FAA. One of the few bright spots is that the number of women getting pilot licenses has increased slightly, from about 38,000 in 2002 to 41,000 in 2011.

“We can definitely tell you that airport operations are down from five years ago,” said Jeff Doran, of Woodbine, a pilot who is vice chairman of the Woodbine Port Authority, which oversees the municipal airport.

Doran is a retired police officer who now works for Mutualink of Wallingford, Conn., which provides emergency communications services throughout the Northeast. It is working for the Super Bowl at the Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford next year. He often flies himself to work meetings, and hasn’t seen a big difference in corporate use of small planes.

“Companies are going to do what they have got to do,” he said. “That hasn’t changed a whole lot.”

But he sees pilots cut back on recreational flying, and he’s concerned for safety.

“A pilot needs to fly or lose proficiency,” Doran said. “With the high cost of fuel, I believe more pilots are becoming rusty.”

Dave Dempsey runs Aerial Skyventures, now the only flight school in Cape May County. It has graduated one private pilot so far, and that is Ryan Krill, the co-owner of Cape May Brewing Company at the Cape May County Airport. About a year after starting the brewery, he started training to be a pilot, he said.

Krill had always been interested in flying, but spending so much time at the airport around pilots finally got him to take action.

“My long-time girlfriend got me a couple of introductory flying lessons” with Big Sky Aviation when it was still based at Cape May, Krill said. Now it has moved to Millville. “It got me started, and I kept with it. A year later I got my flight ticket.”

Dempsey also runs the High Exposure banner plane advertising company, and Red Baron Air Tours, and does aerial photography from the Carolinas to New England, he said.

His banner plane business didn’t suffer during the recession and its aftermath, but the air tours have, he said. In fact, he started the flight school, which has about a dozen students, about two years ago to diversify in a tough economy. He also recognized the need for more pilots.

He said the industry raised the retirement age of pilots from 60 to 65 to forestall a pilot shortage, but it also increased the minimum flight time commercial pilots must have in order to be commuter airline pilots to 1,500 hours, to improve safety.

Boehmler, the contractor, is one of about four serious students now at Aerial Skyventures, Dempsey said, coming regularly for lessons. The other eight or so are much more casual about it. Nationally about 80 percent of students drop out before getting a pilot license, according to the AOPA.

Boehmler said his wife, Kelly, saw how stressed out he was by financial pressures. (She left her job to begin having children just before the recession hit, and the building trades were particularly affected.) She felt flying lessons would help him relax. They do.

“She’s very supportive. She knows how important it is for me to feel there’s something else out there for me,” he said of the career aspect of the training. “I wouldn’t be able to justify it if it was just something I’d do for a hobby.”

Doran, the emergency communications firm worker, is part of a Sunday morning group of Woodbine pilots who fly their small aircraft to places like Cambridge, Md., for breakfast.

“That’s the fun part of flying,” he said.

He also travels all through the Northeast for work, and it saves time and money for him to fly to meetings rather than drive, he said. For a meeting at Met Life Stadium, it would be three hours each way in a car, compared to 40 minutes each way in his plane to a nearby airport.

Travel to a place like Hartford, Conn., would require a commercial plane trip from Philadelphia that could easily cost $600 to $800 for a round-trip, he said. He can do the two hour round-trip for about $200 in his plane, Doran said.