Monday, October 14, 2013

Yosemite/Mariposa Airport Advisory Committee Discuss a Future Fixed Base Operator at the Airport and Boats in the Hangars (Audio)

The Yosemite/Mariposa Airport Advisory Committee meeting was held on Wednesday, October 9, 2013. Director of Public Works Peter Rei mentioned there were no proposals to operate the airport but there are two interested parties but they did not submit a proposal and there is a least one hangar at the airport that has a large boat in it.

The following are excerpts from the meeting

Director of Public Works Peter Rei mentioned there were no proposals to operate the airport but there are two interested parties but they did not submit a proposal.  District Two Supervisor Merlin Jones has been meeting with one party and the other party is Curt Castagna from Southern California. There will be a meeting with both groups at separate times on October 31, 2013.

Mr. Castagna would like to totally privatize the airport.

The FBO (Fixed Base Operator) proposal was distributed to a four county area and a couple of publications.

Mr. Rei said he does not see a problem with someone from the Advisory Committee attending the meeting. Supervisor Jones has asked former District Two Supervisor Doug Balmain to attend the meeting. They are there just to listen at the upcoming meeting.

Ruth Sellers would like someone who has a plane at the Mariposa Airport to be at the meeting and objects to Mr. Balmain being at the meeting. (He does not have a plane at the Mariposa Airport.) A motion is made to have a active Mariposa pilot who has a plane at the Mariposa Airport to be at the meeting.  The motion was seconded.

Supervisor Jones mentions for the first meeting to be held without anyone from the Advisory Committee is attendance. Mr. Rei agrees. Supervisor Jones said Mr. Balmain know the person and is working with the husband and wife.

22:30 Supervisor Jones said everything has to be brought before the Board of Supervisors, he does not do anything behind closed doors, no back door deals, he has never done it in his life and will not start now.

The Motion passes 3-1.

On the Capital Improvement Program, a Slurry Seal Program and Emergency Power was mentioned. The Slurry Seal Program would be first. 2019, for the Emergency Power Program. 5% of cost would be local match. The Airport Layout Plan needs to be looked at along with the Land Use Plan.

41:40 Peter Rei asks the Advisory Committee on how often they would like to meet? And to provide information to the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Rei said quarterly would be his recommendation. The costs of the meetings are $11,600 plus dollars for staff to prepare and attend the meetings yearly.

44:35 Supervisor Jones said there are a lot of good people on the Advisory Committee.

45:20 There is a least one hangar at the airport that has a large boat in it. There have been no inspections performed at the airport. Mr. Rei said staff's role is not to be policing. FAA requires the hangars are for airport use only.

56:00 The Airport Advisory Committee will have a Special Meeting on October 30, 2013 at 5:30 P.M. to address the Supervisors requests.

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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.

The government shutdown is putting some plane crash investigations on hold, including the investigation into a deadly crash near Julian.

Roberta Ann Rose, 52, and Andrew William Thulin, 55, died Wednesday after their single-engine plane crashed into a rugged hillside on Volcan Mountain.

Five days after the crash, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has yet to visit the crash site or start an investigation.

"The people who would normally be doing this investigation would be NTSB and FAA. With government furlough, they are not going to be sending representatives down here," San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Jan Caldwell said during an interview Thursday.
More than 2,900 FAA inspectors have been furloughed because of the shutdown, including 20 in San Diego.

"We still don’t know if there was a mechanical problem," said John Wilfong, a retired FAA air traffic controller.

Wilfong said he’s frustrated by the furlough because time is of the essence for investigators.   "They collect any kind of samples around that airplane, in the airplane and preferably the black box," he said.

Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) is the union that represents FAA investigators. NBC 7 asked PASS Vice President Linda Goodrich what type of crash would trigger on FAA investigation despite the furlough.

"Any accident that was an air carrier," Goodrich said.

“Maybe somebody of high visibility is on the airplane or presumed to be on the airplane,” she added. “That would probably be the two triggers."

Goodrich said furloughed investigators want to help, but are being shut out by the shutdown.
“A good word is outraged, outraged over the fact that aviation safety and the safety of the public is going second to politics."

Goodrich said she feels terrible for the victims’ families in the Julian crash because her organization can’t answer their questions.

NBC 7 spoke with victim Roberta Rose's family shortly after the crash. They said they were frustrated because they had no contact with federal and regional agencies that normally provide information to the victims’ families. They said they found out about their daughter’s death from a friend.

Meanwhile, the shutdown is impacting other agencies that monitor disasters as well. About 30 seismologists and other experts at the U.S. Geological Survey offices in Southern California have been furloughed. The USGS Web site has also been taken offline. Officials said they will continue monitor and report earthquake activity, but accuracy and timeliness could be affected.

Government shutdown forces air traffic controllers to work without pay


ATLANTA -- More than 600 Atlanta based air traffic controllers guide aircraft in and out of Hartsfield Jackson International airport and regionally, around the southeast. 

Since the government shutdown, a union vice president says controllers have been under orders to work without pay.

"It's a standoff. And both sides seem to be backing up and punting, and we seem to be the football right now," said Victor Santore of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. "And I don't like being the football."

Santore says air controllers will get half a paycheck Tuesday. If the government shutdown continues two more weeks, they will get no paycheck -- even though they've reported to work. He contends FAA furloughs impact air safety.

"Every day this goes on, it just peels away at the margin of safety," Santore said.

One Delta pilot says there's no noticeable difference.

"I'm sure they have personal issues with what's going on with their jobs. But they don't seem to bring that to the control cab, to the control station," said Rob Welch, a 33-year Delta pilot headed from Atlanta to Dusseldorf Germany Monday. "I've noticed no difference in their professionalism."

"The job of an air traffic controller is stressful to begin with," Santore added. "There's no reason to add this extra stress, and just treat us like pawns in a game of chess."

Santore says the controllers have been told they will receive back pay whenever the government shutdown ends.

Story and Video:

Licensed seaplane pilot would like to offer rides from Hermann Riverfront

Did you see it?  Or hear it?  A light plane, with pontoons, spent a few hours in Hermann Sunday.  The owner is a young man from Fulton who takes people up for fun (and a fee) at the Lake of the Ozarks, and from Grafton, Illinois.  He'd like to offer rides from Hermann, too.

Hermann Alderman "Ronnie Pat" Van Booven has a sixth sense for anything interesting or unusual happening in Hermann, so of course Van Booven landed his Mercury SUV in Riverfront Park shortly after the sea-plane touched down on the Missouri River in front of Hermann.

Within minutes, Van Booven and 28-year-old Jamie Huey were friends.  Huey told the alderman he'd like to offer rides from the Hermann riverfront.  Van Booven told the pilot how to contact City Hall Monday morning.

Huey flies a 1960 model Cessna 180 in immaculate condition.  He said, "there aren't many seaplanes in the Midwest.  There are only a handful registered."

He said he would enjoy flying sight-seers from Hermann because it's so close to his home in Fulton.

Rides are $50 per person for a 20-minute ride, and up to three passengers can ride at a time, depending on weight.

Huey said, "It's really pretty here.  I love boating down the river and flying down the river.  These leaves are going to change, and it's going to get really pretty down here.  People would love to take a seaplane ride."

Huey is an experienced pilot.  He's been flying for 11 years.  He also owns a sky dive plane.

With the tourism season drawing to a close, Huey hopes to be allowed to bring the plane to Hermann once or twice in October, and then a lot starting next spring.

If the reaction of people in Riverfront Park is any indication, Huey's seaplane might be a welcome addition to the Hermann riverfront.  As Huey made a demonstration flight for CNL, dozens of people -- mostly locals -- approached the edge of the parking lot, squinted, and pointed.  Children waved and jumped.  Fishermen split their attention between their lines and the seaplane.  And several vehicles, including several motorcycles, were driven to the riverfront to see what was going on.

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Noise complaint - Stowe, Vermont

Posted: Monday, October 14, 2013 4:00 pm | Updated: 4:47 pm, Mon Oct 14, 2013.

Spruce Peak resident Richard Grubman filed the following report with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and the town of Stowe:

On Saturday, September 28, 2013 from approximately 08:15am to 09:35am N706CC, a black with gold trim helicopter was witnessed continually flying at very low altitude back and forth and around the mountainous area known as Stowe Mountain Resort / Smuggler’s Notch in Stowe, Vermont. Two witnesses in a mountainside house observed this aircraft flying overhead numerous times at an altitude of no more than a few hundred feet with extremely loud noise that shook the house. Conjecture is that this was some sort of tourist / hospitality / wedding / leaf season sponsored series of flights arranged by or through the aforesaid resort in Stowe. The aircraft was seen landing from time to time in the Mount Mansfield parking lot leased by Stowe Mountain Resort from the State of Vermont, Mount Mansfield being a State Park.

Grubman also sent the following letter to the Stowe Select Board and Town Manager Charles Safford on Oct. 2:

 Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

This letter serves as a request that the Town institute a written noise ordinance. You will recall that similar requests have been made in the past few years, some precipitated by noise coming from commercial establishments such as hotels and restaurants.

The catalyst for this letter is similar — persistent loud noises, often at very irregular hours and on weekends — being generated by Stowe Mountain Resort and its affiliates including Spruce Peak (SMR). SMR’s neighboring residential properties — many purchased from SMR — have experienced increasing levels of noise from a variety of sources. Some recent examples:

-      Loud, late-night (after 10pm) music and partying coming from outside the Spruce Base Camp

-      Early weekend morning banging and scraping of Spruce lift towers being prepped for painting

-      Heavy construction and equipment noises before 8am, after 6pm and on weekends

-      Helicopter landings, take-offs and low altitude fly-bys for photography, etc.

When presented with such incidents, SMR’s response has been “SMR is not obligated to maintain construction hours.  SMR is a 24/7 resort”. It is clear that SMR’s intention is to only comply with the letter and not the spirit of the law. In the absence of a Town noise ordinance properly enforced and requiring compliance, SMR’s noise-creating activities will continue to increase.  They are bad and getting worse.

It should be noted that this is not meant to restrict SMR’s legitimate needs such as maintenance and repair of equipment, etc. necessary to operate the resort, including essential and emergency functions such as critical equipment repairs, rescues, etc.

However, as it stands today, SMR feels no obligation or requirement to limit its non-essential commercial activities, despite their deleterious effects on neighboring residential properties.  For instance:

-      Music and parties continue often until midnight.  They could stop earlier and/or be held in and around the hotel instead of in and around the Spruce Base Camp, which is a ski day lodge

-      Non-essential maintenance such as tower re-painting can be scheduled during regular work hours

-      Construction can also adhere to regular work hours

-      Helicopter usage can be limited for critical infrastructure (installing new lift towers) and for rescues, all other non-essential uses prohibited or subject to stringent advance permitting

Further, it should be noted that some of these activities are taking place on State land leased to SMR and near neighboring State Park lands where the public should also expect a right of quiet enjoyment.

The State’s Act 250 does not provide adequate protection to Town residential areas and the public against the aforesaid types of violations. While the FAA regulates aircraft usage, the landing and taking off in near proximity to Town residences does not appear to be an FAA matter.

Slipping through State and Federal regulatory cracks is what can continue to be expected of SMR absent a robustly administered Town noise control ordinance.

In the past you have seen noise ordinances from other jurisdictions such as Essex Junction, VT. For your consideration, attached to this letter is the Noise Ordinance Affidavit for the City of Cambridge, MA. It is instructive to read both pages to see what commercial noise generators are expected to swear to in writing before undertaking their projects. This has been a highly effective device.  For additional information, here is the link for the City of Cambridge’s full Noise Control Ordinance (Chapter 8.16 - NOISE CONTROL):

It is worth noting that Cambridge’s Noise Ordinance Affidavit refers to “Noise in Residential Area or Affecting Residential Property”. It is clear that SMR’s commercial activities are affecting residential property. It is not appropriate to exempt SMR from all noise generating and mitigating obligations simply because it is a resort. This is their current belief as demonstrated by their actions and comments.

In addition to affidavits, the Town should require acoustic impact studies by independent experts for major, permanent proposed installations such as the zip line before allowing them.

Absent a Town noise ordinance, SMR’s expanding commercial activities (more entertaining, construction, traffic, a proposed zip line, possible mountain biking, etc.) will generate more and more unwanted noise in an otherwise peaceful small valley incorporating a residential neighborhood and abutting Smuggler’s Notch and other State lands for public quiet enjoyment. There can be no expectation that SMR will voluntarily curtail its activities. It is already on the record denying any requirement to do so, saying “SMR is a 24/7 resort”. To date, the State has been ineffective in regulating SMR’s increasing noise generation.

Many towns have passed effective noise ordinances including Essex Junction and Cambridge. Stowe should be among them.  SMR may be the largest potential offender, but certainly not the only one given the growing commercial hospitality and construction activities of the Town’s various establishments, some of which have been complained about before. Now is the time to get in front of this before it is too late.

Respectfully submitted,

Richard Grubman

Owner of 52 Lookout Lane


Volunteers paint compass rose at Bay Bridge Airport (W29), Stevensville, Maryland

STEVENSVILLE — Lin Caywood, International Board Member and Sugarloaf Chapter Membership Chair is proud to announce the completion of a 50-foot Compass Rose Painting Project at Bay Bridge Airport in Stevensville.

The project was a joint effort between the Chesapeake Sport Pilot flight school, which is based at the airport, the airport, and The Ninety-Nines. Nine volunteers, assisted by another half dozen “behind the scenes” helpers completed the layout and painting in just under six hours using a traditional 12-point pattern. The Compass Rose is located approximately mid-field on the North Ramp of the airport. Compass roses or wind stars are traditionally used at airports to help pilots orient or verify the accuracy of their onboard navigational equipment.

“Bay Bridge's original compass rose was in disrepair then paved over during recent airport improvements. We were really excited when the 99’s offered to come spearhead a new compass rose even bigger and better than our original one. Our students, pilots and other CSP volunteers were eager to assist them with this project,” said Helen Woods, chief flight instructor, Chesapeake Sport Pilot.

“Airmarking has been the noble ambition of the Ninety-Nines since the early part of the 20th century,” said to Ellen Nobles Harris, airmarking chairman for the international organization. Harris, who has researched the history of airmarking, noted that an early President of the 99’s, Phoebe Omlie, organized the U.S. government sponsored program as part of the Bureau of Air Commerce in 1934 to provide markers on the ground or on rooftops about every 20 miles to aid pilots with navigating to their intended destination. An all-women staff assisted Omlie with her project and included well-known women pilots as field representatives — Helen Richey, Blanche Noyes, Nancy Harkness and Louise Thaden.

During World War II, reverse air-marking efforts were undertaken by The Ninety-Nines and the Bureau of Air Commerce to black-out the previously marked airports and airways to prevent enemy planes from spotting airports for bombing or sabotage.

Although airmarking is no longer government sponsored, The Ninety-Nines carry on the tradition of fulfilling the need for airmarking by volunteering their time to help paint airport names and radio frequencies, compass rose symbols and other needed identifiers. Some of the letters painted can be 50 feet tall and compass roses average 80 feet in diameter.

“Even in the age of GPS navigation and extremely accurate navigation charts, it’s comforting to fly to an airport and see the name of the airport or a beautiful compass rose to welcome you and confirm where you are,” said Caywood, a private pilot. “Airmarking is a fantastic aviation tradition,” said Linda Steiner, manager of the Bay Bridge Airport. “We were appreciative that the volunteers from The 99’s and Chesapeake Sport Pilot were willing to help donate their time to helping us uphold this tradition at the Bay Bridge Airport.”

The Ninety-Nines Inc. is an international organization of licensed women pilots, founded in 1929 by Amelia Earhart and 98 more of the 117 certificated women pilots at the time. The Sugarloaf Chapter of The Ninety-Nines is based at Frederick Municipal Airport in Frederick and meets on the second Thursday of each month at the Airways Inn at 6:30 p.m.

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New information about the missing Cessna 172 in Tirúa, Chile, has been uncovered

A villager in the coastal town of Quidico, South of Lebu, discovered the backpack of one of the passengers, Jorge Luengo Espinoza.

BÍO BÍO – On October 13, 2013 the Chilean Air Force confirmed that a backpack belonging to one of the passengers aboard the missing plane in Tirúa was found. It was confirmed that at 10:30 p.m. a villager found a backpack that belonged to Jorge Luengo Espinoza, 25-years-old, in the area of Punta Morguilla, located south of Lebu. Inside were documents, which were immediately reported to the port captain and later handed over to the PDI.

Meanwhile, the Commander in Chief of Air Brigade III, General Iván Travisany, told Channel 24 Horas that in the backpack “there was a notebook that had the name of Jorge Luengo and other belongings that were given to his family and they recognized them as his. The backpack is in good condition and so are the belongings inside.”

When asked if the backpack was found within the search area General Travisany said that, “for the information we collected from the mobile phone company we established a point that is farther South but we estimate, based on the current elements, that the elements are moving northward, there are north south currents, and those could correspond to the point that we are tracing.”

The aircraft disappeared on October 6, 2013 during a flight between Mocha Island and Tirúa (in the Bío Bío Region) that should have taken no more than 15 minutes. The plane is thought to be a Cessna C172 with registration CC-PXC though information has not been confirmed.

The pilot, Mario Hahn Cortés, lost all communication with his family after which they called in the alert. Supposedly traveling aboard the aircraft were four other occupants: Jorge Luengo Espinoza and his son and also Lesly Roa and her partner.

After the disappearance was activated, a search group from the Navy, with the help of helicopters from the institution and boats of local fishermen, began looking for the missing plane and passengers. There was no news until the discovery of Espinoza’s backpack yesterday. The search will continue in hopes of recovering the aircraft and all missing passengers.

By Claire Knowles 

An American college student studying abroad in Chile trying to navigate the streets of Santiago, the Spanish language, and find the best chorrillana.


MASWings de Havilland Dash 6-300 Twin Otter, 9M-MDM, Flight MH-3002: Accident occurred October 10, 2013 in Kudat, Malaysia

Marc Joel Bansh

 Marc Joel Bansh

Last goodbye: Family and friends attending the funeral mass for Marc.

KOTA KINABALU: Scores of people packed the Stella Maris Church here to pay their last respects to Marc Joel Bansh, the MASWings co-pilot, who was killed in the Twin Otter crash in Kudat on Thursday.

It was a sombre atmosphere at the church at Tanjung Aru where the family has been going for Sunday services for decades.

Many people wiped their tears before the funeral mass began at 9am yesterday.

Marc’s parents, Heral and Eva Eleanor Ooi, and their three sons – Joshua, Seth and Keith – sat quietly throughout the hour-long mass, said Father Francis Tsen.

Tsen comforted Heral and his family in his homily. He urged them to put their hopes and faith in God in this difficult time for them.

Marc’s body was later buried at the Catholic Cemetery in Penampang.

Among those who came to the church service were dozens of Marc’s friends, some of whom were pilots, apart from his colleagues at MASWings.

Also present was MASWings managing director Datuk Mohd Nawawi Awang.

Mohd Nawawi said he felt very sad to lose such a young pilot.

“We have lost a team member while the family has lost a son, brother and friend, and we will never forget this day,” he said.

Marc and a passenger died and five others were injured when the aircraft with 16 people onboard went off course as it approached the runway and crashed into a house in Kudat.


MASWings de Havilland Dash 6-300 Twin Otter, 9M-MDM, Flight MH-3002: Accident occurred October 10, 2013 in Kudat, Malaysia 

TANJUNG ARU: The late Marc Joel Bansh, the 23-year-old co-pilot of the ill-fated MASwings Twin Otter aircraft that crashed in Kudat last Thursday, was interred at the Mile 4, Catholic Cemetery in Penampang, yesterday.

More than 1,000 people attended the funeral mass at the Stella Maris Church, commemorated by Rev. Father Tony Mojiwat and assisted by Father Francis Tsen and Father Fundes Motiung.

The church, which has a capacity of 800 people, was filled to the brim with some standing by the roadside.

Marc’s father, Harel Bansh Singh, his mother, Eva Eleanor Ooi, and his three brothers, Joshua Bryan Bansh, Keith Jeremy Bansh and Seth Brandon Bansh paid their silent last farewell to their beloved son and sibling along with his colleagues from MASwings, most of whom were clad in their uniforms.

Some of the people who were close to the late co-pilot told The Borneo Post he was a very friendly person who was kind to everyone.

“He was very kind and respectful to everyone, irrespective of their age,” said a mother of one of his friends from his former flying school.

She said that she flew all the way from Shah Alam together with her son to especially attend the funeral service.

“Marc was a very special and dear person to us. What I can say about Marc is that he doesn’t have any ‘airs’ about him. He was kind to just about everyone,” she said.

“My mother wanted to come too because of the kind way he treated her when she called me while we were still in training together,” another close friend said.

“The last time my son spoke to Marc was a few days ago. He gave words of encouragement to my son who had just begun pilot training again,” a mother of another friend related.

“My mother had wanted to come for the funeral too, but she is just too far away. We all cried when we heard the news. He is such a sweet boy,” a close lady friend said, when describing Marc.

Marc’s mom, Eva, held on her composure bravely but broke down on several occasions during the service, but her youngest son next to her dutifully consoled her.

When met by this reporter a few days earlier following the dreadful crash, Eva’s words were: “He was so broken up in so many places that even if he had lived, life would have been unbearable for him. He loves life too much…God loves him more.”


In Memory of Marc Joel Bansh

Cat forces pilot to cancel Saudi cargo flight

A pilot of a Saudi cargo aircraft en route for Hong Kong canceled the flight after he was attacked by a cat hiding under his seat, a Saudi newspaper reported on Monday.

The captain of flight 982 from the Saudi capital Riyadh has just turned the plane’s engine on when the scared cat emerged out and jumped on him.

“The captain decided to cancel the flight until further notice after suffering from light injuries,” the London-based Arabic language daily Al Hayat said.

It said the cat had sneaked into the plane and hit under the pilot’s seat, adding that it apparently was scared when the engine was turned on.

“Staff members and security men later searched the plane but could not find the cat, which ran away after attacking the pilot.”


Vermont small airports get much-needed overhaul: Federal funding rules changes have freed up funding for overlooked airport upgrades

MORRISVILLE — Tom Anderson drove a state truck slowly down the bumpy runway at Morrisville Stowe Airport, over pavement drizzled with black crack seal and punctured by tufts of grass.

“Imagine what it is like in an airplane,” said Anderson, a commercial pilot for 30 years before becoming an aviation operations specialist for the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

The runway at this state-owned airport hasn’t been resurfaced since 1978, but next spring the airport will close for three months to allow for a total reconstruction. The cracked pavement will be torn up, new base materials will be brought in to a depth of 2-to-3 feet, a new surface laid and striped, new wiring and lighting installed, trees cut down at both ends of the runway to expand the safety zones and grass replaced with a variety unappealing to deer.

It’s a $3.85 million project made possible — strangely — by the mandatory federal funding cuts known as “sequestration.”

Vermont’s small airports, it turns out, are benefiting from changes in the way the federal government has distributed discretionary aviation funding in the wake of this year’s mandated spending cutback, said Guy Rouelle, aeronautics administrator at the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

“It’s actually very good for Vermont because we had a lot of shovel-ready projects,” Rouelle said.

The Rutland Airport also is a big beneficiary of the sequestration and will receive two grants that total $4.55 million. Safety areas at the ends of its major runway are being expanded and an “engineered mechanical arresting system” — akin to a truck run-off on a steep road — will be constructed at the south end. The first section of a parallel taxiway also will be constructed.

Rutland has commercial flights as well as charter and general aviation. Cape Air flies to Boston from Rutland three times a day.

“This safety expansion project hopefully will attract more private jet traffic to the area,” said Christopher Beitzel, airport manager.

Rouelle said most years, Vermont’s nine state-owned airports receive about $150,000 apiece from one federal allocation for small airports and $60,000 each from another federal program. The state can bank the money to build up enough to do bigger projects, Rouelle said, but it’s hard to set aside enough for the kind of reconstruction needed at Morrisville and Rutland.

There’s a third pot of federal funds the state can go after, he said, but noted the challenge that tiny airport face when competing for dollars with safety projects at busy hubs like Logan Airport in Boston.

Earlier this year, however, as the bite of sequestration hit the U.S. Department of Transportation, officials changed the rules for distributing discretionary funding. They went looking for projects that were designed, had permits in hand and contractors chosen so they could get the money out the door fast. Morrisville met those criteria and won a grant.

“This project absolutely needs to happen and the state has done the legwork to make it happen,” said David Whitcomb, owner of Whitcomb Aviation which is the fixed base operator at Morrisville Stowe Airport.

Whitcomb supports the project even though it will idle his business for three months. “I do have concerns,” he said, but added, “The state is working with me.”

As fixed base operator, Whitcomb manages the tiny terminal, does plane repairs, plows snow from the runway and ramps, rents cars to visitors who fly in and sells fuel. He also operates Stowe Soaring which offers glider rides from May through October. He was worked at the airport for 27 years.

The terminal is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but planes can come and go anytime, Whitcomb said. Pilots can turn the runway lights on and off using their radios, he said. They can buy fuel after hours by swiping a credit card at the pump.

Friday morning, the airport was quiet. Two small planes took off between 9 and 10 a.m. Over the weekend, Whitcomb expected the ramp would be wing-to-wing with parked planes.

“We get a fair amount of corporate and charter business,” Whitcomb said. “We also have our private owners.” The airport has 18 hangars which can be leased for plane storage.

Whitcomb expects the runway reconstruction and tree-cutting will increase use of the airport. “There are one or two charters that suspended coming in here because of the trees at night,” he said. He expects they will come back.

Whitcomb said the public fails to appreciate the importance of small airports.

“A lot of people don’t understand how small airports contribute to the local economy,” Whitcomb said. “A lot of people see it as a playground for the rich.”

Anderson agreed. “This is really infrastructure that supports the economy.”

After years of penny-pinching, Anderson applauds the investments the state can now make because of the quirks of sequestration funding.

“I’ve got a passion for aviation and what is happening in Vermont right now is exciting,” he said.


Chautauqua County/Dunkirk Airport (KDKK), Dunkirk, New York: Still working on runway extension

Pilots and passengers wanting to utilize the new runway extension and parallel taxiway for the Dunkirk Airport will have to wait a bit longer. At a recent Airport Commission meeting, it was announced the engineers and contractors were having some delays on the project. 

County Manager for Airports and Parks Sam Arcadipane said there has been a problem with the mix and core samples taken while paving the runway.

Peter Rase, engineer with Passero Associates, said the Federal Aviation Administration's mix currently on the runway is "more difficult to make and place" than mixes found locally, which has been causing troubles. The asphalt will not stick to the FFA's mix. Due to project specs, a test strip has to pass before paving can continue. The first two test strips failed, but a third passed, Rase said.

"We had a passing base test strip. We started production paving on the taxiway and everything was going along smoothly. Halfway through the day, the mix for whatever reason started to come apart. We stopped and removed all of the bad asphalt ... back to where the change had occurred and left the remainder back in. Since that time we have tried two other days to pave the base with no good results. The mix will not compact," Rase said.

An industry expect from Ohio spent a week here and made suggestions. The airport took those suggestions and paved again prior to the meeting. The paving seemed to stick, according to Rase.

"With that confidence we're going ahead and paving ... Right now we're cautiously optimistic that what we did is going to pass and we're set up to pave tomorrow for the taxiway to get the base day. It will be another two days on the runway to get the base done," Rase said.

Once the base is down, the top will be laid but will also need to be tested and some core samples have been taken. Rase said the failure of this mixture is rare and has never seen this severe of a situation in over three decades. He theorized the aggregate of the gravel mix, which is more round and doesn't want to compact. With the troubles, the project's budget will not be impacted. It is being worked out between the contractor and Gernatt Gravel Products who is the supplier.

"The contractor is bearing the burden, between the contractor and the supplier. I'm not sure how that's breaking out ..." said Rase. "They have been super cooperative, the contractor and the supplier."

The paving will continue and there is about eight days left to pave until the project is completed. All paving is weather permitting with a ground temperature of at least 48 degrees. Following completion of paving, the FAA requires a 30-day period before the runway and taxiway can be grooved or marked.

"The only reason they want a month is so the asphalt will cure so you're not ripping it up. This time of year with these temperatures, I'm not too concerned about that. I have done it a week after paving and it has been fine. The only reason we wait a month on the marking is to let the oil wear off the surface so the paint sticks. We can accelerate that schedule," Rase said.

In an unrelated matter, the board discussed a request to renew the lease for the Lucile M. Wright Air Museum located at the Jamestown airport for another 10-year lease. The lease will expire at the end of the year and the board did not act at the meeting. Len Nalbone announced the Jamestown airport purchased a boom truck for deicing and the truck can hold 2,000 gallons of fluid. The commission will meet again on Nov. 6 at 4 p.m. at the Jamestown airport.

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