Thursday, November 21, 2013

End Of An Era: Monmouth Executive Airport (KBLM) Sold - Banner planes may be a casualty of the sale of the airport that Ed Brown built

The Monmouth Executive Airport -- for 75 years run by Ed Brown and, later, his family -- has been sold, airport officials said Thursday.

The airport has been bought by an investment group named Wall Aviation LLC, a  group that has been in negotiations to buy the 645-acre airport on Route 34 for more than a dozen years, according to Richard A. Asper, chairman of Florida-based Aviation Professionals Group, a consulting company hired to shepherd Wall Aviation through the sale.

Portions of the sale were complete months ago, while some contingencies – such as a signoff from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Township of Wall – have been completed in recent days, Asper said.

The sale price is not being disclosed, Asper said.

Changes at the airport will be immediate, Asper said.

“This airport is going to join the 21st Century,’’ Asper said. “This is an airport that deserves to be first class.’’

To that end, the airport’s service station, or FBO, will be taken over by a new company – AvFuel -- effective Friday, Asper said.

The airport will beef up its safety measures, including closing off airstrips to airport tenants, and its infrastructure will be maintained and upgraded, Asper said.

“There’s going to be a completely different airport environment, not just paint and new signs,’’ Asper said. “It’s really the whole concept and notion of how to run a first-class airport, not like a hobby airport.”

Those changes may put out some of the airport’s current tenants, however.

Asper said those tenants who run “hybrid’’ businesses at Monmouth Executive, such as the Jersey Shore Skydiving or the planes flying advertising banners in the summer, may not mesh with the new vision of the airport.

“It’s very difficult to convince the pilot of a $30 million airplane to land here when he’s got to look out for people falling out of the sky,’’ Asper said.

The airport has a large number of other tenants, many of which have nothing to do with aviation, including a bank branch, a custom motorcycle shop and a two used tire sales businesses, among others.

Asper said all the tenants, who rent their space on a monthly basis, will be talked to in the coming weeks about the new vision for the airport.

“I’m hoping they’ll be all reasonable folks and anxious to ride with the tide,’’ he said.

The banner planes, nearly ubiquitous with summer at the Jersey Shore, are a business Asper said the new company likes, but he added that the fit with the airport is not exact.

“They don’t  need a 7,000-foot airstrip to be in the banner business,’’ he said. “They will be ebbing out and we hope to help them relocate to an airport that is more conducive.”

Asper said Wall Aviation did not expect an increase in air traffic, but instead a change to the kind of traffic. He said he expected more corporate and private jets, which fly less frequently than banner planes and are quieter.

"If anything you'll find that the airport is going to be quieter than it has been in the past,''  he said.

Asper said Wall Aviation has been trying to buy the airport from the Brown family, and Ed Brown specifically prior to his death in 2006, for a dozen years.

Haggling over the price with Ed Brown was the first barrier, Asper said, followed by Brown’s decision to offer the airport to Monmouth County for $1 million more than the negotiated price the two sides agreed to, and finally negotiations over the cleanup of a superfund site on the airport property and more than $2 million in back taxes owed to Wall Township clogged the works, Asper said.

About 30 years ago, the airport had a tenant that manufactured computer circuit boards. Monitor Devicies/Intercircuits Inc., dumped waste water from the manufacturing process directly into the ground, contaminating about a 2-acrea area.

Once found out by the EPA, the company went under and the airport was left holding the bag for the cost of the cleanup. Brown, not known for backing down from anything, fought the EPA.

The airport eventually agreed to pay $20 million to clean up the site. Only about $500,000 of that has been paid, however. Wall Aviation will be held responsible for the remainder, according to the EPA.

Physical cleanup of the site has been completed by the EPA, but the agency will monitor the site for the next five years.

While battling over the cleanup, Brown also did not pay property taxes to Wall Township and the airport owed the town upwards of $2 million.

The township and Wall Aviation have agreed to a monthly payment plan with installments of $75,000. All money will be paid to the town by January, 2015.

Ed Brown, a supermarket cashier, started what was then Allaire Airport in 1938 when he borrowed a World War I tank from the borough of Belmar and rigged it to grade the 7,300-foot runway. He later added a 3,307-foot cross-runway.

Brown, who frequently tangled with township officials, did work on the airport himself, sometimes without the proper permits.

In the 1980s, he built a drive-in, fly-in movie theater where pilots could fly in and taxi to a parking spot behind rows of cars to watch a movie.

He built a bowling alley and converted one side of it to a nightclub. He had a golf driving range and once built an amusement park at the airport with a mini-railroad, ferris wheel and carousel.

Ed Brown died in 2006. The airport has been run by his step son, Jack Taylor, since that time.

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FAA Investigating after laser aimed at Sky 4 - Greenville, South Carolina

A green laser beam hits the windshield of Sky 4 as it hovers over the interstate.

GREENVILLE, S.C. —While WYFF News 4's Sky 4 helicopter was covering a traffic incident on Wednesday, it was targeted by a person in a truck who was using a green laser pointer, and it was all caught on video.  

Sky 4 pilot Phil Tate was flying to the area of Interstate 85 and Woodruff Road to gather video of a traffic backup after a man was hit by two vehicles when he ran into the interstate at about 5:45 p.m. (Full Story)
While hovering over I-85, a passenger in a white sport utility truck started pointing a green laser out the windshield of the vehicle.  The man, who was wearing a reflective vest, was clearly visible to Sky 4 as he scanned with the laser, pointing it upward.

The man repeatedly pointed the laser at Sky 4 until it hit the windshield of the helicopter, causing a blinding bright green flare that filled the front view out of the chopper.

Tate said, "When he hit us with that laser, the first thing I saw was the whole cockpit lit up green."

The FAA says sudden exposure to laser radiation can distract or disorient a pilot and cause temporary visual impairment.
  • To see images of the laser incident, click here.
WYFF News 4 assignment editor Jimmy McCray coordinated with Tate and the Greenville County Sheriff's Office via phone, and they were able to provide a detailed description of the vehicle, including a license plate number.  Deputies pulled the truck over and questioned the man in the reflective vest when the truck was stopped on I-85.

Tate said he has been told that the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office will be speaking with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI, and they will determine whether federal charges will be pursued in the incident. FAA officials in Atlanta confirmed Thursday that they are also investigating the incident.  As of Thursday afternoon, no charges had been filed.

Interfering with the operation of an aircraft is a felony punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  In addition, the FAA can impose a civil penalty of up to $11,000 for each violation.

Photojournalist Albert Spear was controlling the camera in Sky 4 when it was targeted with the laser. 

Spears said, "I was thinking, 'OK, if this guy can shoot a laser at us you know what is to stop him from aiming it at a jetliner with hundreds of people on board.'"

WYFF News 4 Investigates has learned from Kathleen Bergen, with the FAA Atlanta's office, that there have been eight laser pointing incidents in the Upstate since March 15.

Bergen told News 4's Tim Waller there have been 29 laser incidents involving aircraft statewide since January.  She said that is actually a big improvement over last year, when there were 128 green laser aircraft incidents statewide, 26 in the Upstate.

Steve Wallace, Aviation Safety Consultant, says the green lasers are far brighter than other types, and can reach an aircraft as far as 25,000 feet away, leaving the pilot blinded.

"The worst case scenario is in the critical phase of a flight, a pilot loses control of an airplane.  Potentially a tragic accident," Wallace said.
  • To report a laser incident to the FAA, click here.
  • For more information on the dangers of lasers to aircraft, click here.

Read more:

FAA, U.S. Airlines to Develop Voluntary Pilot-Training Upgrades: Study Cites Undue Reliance by Flight Crews on Automation

The Wall Street Journal

By  Andy Pasztor and Allison Prang

Updated Nov. 21, 2013 9:55 p.m. ET

Federal air-safety officials, two weeks after mandating major upgrades to commercial-pilot training, said they will work with U.S. airlines to develop a host of additional voluntary improvements.

The Federal Aviation Administration's move on Thursday underscores a growing industry-government consensus that pilot training must change further to cope with evolving risks, particularly flight crews' increasing reliance on cockpit automation.

But unlike yearslong efforts to draw up rules often opposed by many in industry, and frequently difficult to justify on strict cost-benefit grounds, FAA leaders spelled out a new strategy: they intend to join airline-safety experts to craft more-flexible, voluntary changes in training and cockpit procedures to plug safety loopholes.

It is the latest step in FAA-industry collaboration, and FAA Chief Michael Huerta told reporters the effort continues the shift from corrective actions after accidents to a system of measures to improve safety before crashes occur. "We still know that there is more that we can [do], and more that we should do to move to the next level of training," he said.

In conjunction with a safety summit between the FAA and dozens of industry officials held in Washington, the agency released a long-awaited report highlighting the dangers of undue reliance by flight crews on automation. Prepared over seven years by an international group of experts, the study documents erosion of manual flying skills, poor decision making in emergencies and a reluctance to turn off automation when pilots aren't properly trained in its use.

Such lapses pose the biggest threat to commercial-aviation safety around the globe, and the latest findings and voluntary training initiatives are intended to reverse that trend. David Woods, an Ohio State University professor who helped write the report, said "past successes in training have reached a plateau" and "the consistent theme is that the role of pilots is changing."

To deal with today's hazards, Mr. Woods said, "training programs need to be refreshed and refocused" to take advantage of new research and technology.

"Every professional pilot in America is paying attention to this report," industry consultant Mike Boyd told Fox News.

The FAA and industry leaders didn't provide specifics about likely training shifts. But they pledged to set long-term priorities using a new organizational structure, which the agency said will "work on an ongoing basis for an undetermined time period."

Earlier this month the FAA issued a rewrite of its commercial-pilot training requirements, calling it the biggest change in such rules in two decades. The revisions, among other things, set more stringent proficiency requirements to handle stalls and other in-flight emergencies; they also includes provisions to ensure aviators properly monitor flight paths and cockpit instruments.

But the process stretched over many years, and the final regulations didn't incorporate some important recommendations and findings related to cockpit automation from various industry-labor study groups over that period.

Thursday's announcement indicates some frustration with traditional regulatory efforts on the part of the FAA. Even by the standards of making mandatory rules, a process that is "intended to be slow and deliberative," the recent training rule took "unfortunately long" to complete, Peggy Gilligan, the agency's top safety official, told the industry gathering.

Airlines and the government both recognize "safety processes need to be able to move more quickly," she said, "and that's really what we're here to ask you to help us do." Ms. Gilligan said the goal was to develop training enhancements that all sides "can agree to implement in a timely and cost-effective way."

The automation report calls for changes based on analyses of past accidents and incidents. The committee of experts recommended training adjustments to ensure pilots can intervene decisively and confidently when automated systems malfunction or when these systems disconnect in emergencies that require manual flying.

David McKenney, an airline captain who served as one of the panel's three co-chairmen, on Thursday said "all of the current training emphasis is how to interface with the automated systems." Instead, he said, the focus should be on "making sure pilots stay mentally engaged and are prepared to take over" when necessary.

Whenever automated flight controls are engaged, according to Mr. McKenney, pilots should be trained to make sure they understand "what the systems are telling them" and that automation is only one of the tools they can use to stay on course and speed.

The FAA, which embraced the automation report's conclusions, already has issued guidance to start phasing in a number of its recommendations, including calls for standardized and more pilot-friendly design of flight decks.

"Everybody is identifying the problems, yet we're not spending money on the right things," according to Rory Kay, an airline captain who served as co-chair of an FAA-sponsored committee that previously urged steps to boost manual flying skills.

The industry is eager to save money by reducing the duration of recurrent training, Mr. Kay said, while "cockpit technology is evolving rapidly" and pilots generally need more comprehensive simulator sessions "to experience both normal and abnormal" automation events.


Federal charges issued against operator of Hiatt Airport (N97) - Thomasville, North Carolina

The operator of the Hiatt Airport in Thomasville is facing federal charges, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

Paul Douglas Tharp, 53, of Greensboro, was arrested Wednesday on a federal criminal indictment charging him with lying to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about his qualifications as mechanic and a pilot and for flying an airplane without the proper pilot's license, Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, has announced.

Efforts by The Dispatch to reach a spokesperson with Hiatt Airport were unsuccessful Thursday night.

The five-count criminal indictment was unsealed Wednesday after the arrest of Tharp by law enforcement in Winston-Salem. Kathryn A. Jones, U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General (DOT-OIG) regional Special Agent-In-Charge, joined Tompkins in making the announcement.

The criminal indictment, according to the release, makes the following allegations:

"From in or around 2011, Tharp was hired by Warriors and Warbirds, a group based in Monroe to repair and refinish a multi-engine Curtiss Wright C-46F (C-46F) airplane that the group had purchased from an aviation museum in Midland, Texas. The Warriors and Warbirds group planned to feature the C-46F airplane at the museum located at the Charlotte-Monroe Executive Airport. Tharp, at the time, was certified to fly only single-engine aircraft. Tharp did not have a multi-engine pilot license and did not hold an FAA Mechanic Certificate with an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) rating. The Warriors and Warbirds hired Tharp to repair and fly their aircraft, after Tharp told a group representative that he was an A&P mechanic and could get the C-46F in good condition, and that he was licensed to operate a multi-engine plane like the C-46F.

As part of his services to the group, Tharp regularly traveled to Texas where he performed maintenance on the C-46F, knowing he was not certified to do so. In addition to providing mechanic services, on several occasions Tharp acted as second in command during flights, even though he lacked the proper authorization to fly this type of airplane. On or about June 4, 2011, Tharp, acting again as second in command pilot, and other persons traveled via the C-46F from Monroe to an air show in Reading, Penn. Because the airplane still needed additional mechanical work to improve its airworthiness, the FAA required a special ferry permit before the plane could be flown back to Monroe. On or about June 5, 2011, an FAA inspector asked Tharp if someone had inspected the airplane's condition to determine if the C-46F was safe for the return flight from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, and Tharp falsely represented he was an A&P mechanic who could make that determination. When the FAA inspector asked Tharp about his A&P certificate, Tharp lied and told the inspector that he had forgotten his A&P certificate in a rush to prepare the C-46F for the flight to Pennsylvania. Tharp then gave the FAA inspector the A&P certificate number of another A&P certificate holder who Tharp knew. This person did not give permission to Tharp to use his certificate number, and he became upset when he learned about Tharp's unauthorized use of his number.

Based upon Tharp's false representation about his status as an A&P mechanic and his unauthorized use of another person's certificate number, the FAA inspector issued a special ferry permit that allowed the C-46F and its passengers to fly from Pennsylvania back to Monroe. Tharp again acted as second in command of the multi-engine C-46F even though he should not have been flying this airplane.

After Tharp completed the return trip to North Carolina, the FAA inspector who issued the special ferry permit checked on the certificate number Tharp had provided and learned that Tharp had lied about having an A&P certificate. The FAA opened an investigation and when Tharp received a letter from the FAA inquiring whether he was an A&P mechanic and whether he had a pilot's certificate that allowed him to fly a multi-engine airplane like the C-46F, Tharp sent a reply letter to the FAA falsely stating, "I have been putting a time line of when I received my multi engine rating," despite knowing he had never had this rating. "

"Tharp knowingly and repeatedly lied about his qualifications to his clients and the FAA and in the process put lives at risk. Tharp's lack of proper certification as a pilot and a mechanic is a serious safety hazard and now Tharp must face the legal consequences of these dangerous lies," said Tompkins.

At sentencing Tharp faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the two criminal counts of making false statements to the FAA, and a maximum of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the three counts of flying without proper authorization.

Tompkins credited the special agents of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General for the investigation leading to Tharp's indictment. Assistant United States Attorney Kenneth M. Smith of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Charlotte is prosecuting the case.


Unauthorized use of cameras on site/grounds: Airbus conducts investigation into photographs taken of plane crash that killed couple

 Cessna 310Q, G-BXUY: Accident occurred November 15, 2013 at Chester Hawarden Airport (CEG/EGNR), Flintshire, Wales 

Airbus has launched an investigation into whether some staff members breached strict regulations by taking pictures of a fatal air crash in which a Chester couple lost their lives. 

Pilot Gary Vickers, 58, and his girlfriend Kaye Clarke, 42 were on their way back from Paris when their twin-engine plane crashed as they attempted to land at Hawarden Airport on Friday.

Mr Vickers, who co-owned the Mill Hotel in Chester with his father Gordon, was killed instantly while Miss Clarke died later at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Pictures have emerged of the light aircraft nose-diving onto the runway before smashing into pieces.

And The Chronicle has since learned that an investigation is currently under way into the unauthorized use of cameras on the site.

An Airbus spokesperson said: “Clearly, individual personnel matters are not something we can comment on publicly, but I can confirm there is an investigation taking place into the unauthorized use of photography, which is not allowed without permission on a number of grounds, including commercial confidentiality.

“This prohibition covers anybody working on the site. We can’t comment on individual personnel issues or the outcome of those investigations - these are confidential matters but we obviously extend our condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their lives in this tragic accident.”

This week, inquests into the couple’s deaths were opened and adjourned, with post-mortem examinations provisionally establishing that Mr Vickers succumbed to head and chest injuries, while Miss Clarke died of shock and haemorrhage.

The inquests are now subject to ‘extensive investigations’.

Family pay tribute to devoted couple

A Chester couple killed when their plane crashed in Flintshire last week were ‘completely devoted to each other’, say their devastated family.

Pilot Gary Vickers, 58, and his girlfriend Kay Clarke, 42 had been on their way back from Paris when their twin-engine plane crashed to the ground as they attempted to land at Hawarden Airport on Friday.

The light aircraft was seen nose-diving on to the runway before smashing into pieces.

Mr Vickers, who co-owned The Mill Hotel in Chester with his father Gordon, was killed instantly while Miss Clarke died hours later at The Countess of Chester Hospital.

The pair, who had been together for six years and lived together at Dingle Bank in Curzon Park, flew to Paris regularly as Mr Vickers was an experienced pilot who had ‘hundreds of hours’ of flying experience .

This week, Miss Clarke’s heartbroken mother Angela told The Chronicle there was ‘no doubt’ in her mind the tragedy was down to a mechanical fault.

“Kay and Gary absolutely idolized each other,” she said.

“He was a fantastic pilot and very experienced. We never had any doubts about our daughter going up there with him because he was so professional .

“The fact they were together when it happened is a great comfort to me because they were just devoted to each other.”

The couple had originally planned to make the return flight to Hawarden on Thursday but Miss Clarke phoned her parents to tell them they had been delayed by stormy weather.

When she didn’t call them on Friday after landing, they began to worry and later heard a light aircraft had crashed nearby.

The deaths have left them devastated and in shock. “Kay was our world and I just count myself so lucky to have had 42 years as her mother,” said Angela.

“She was kind and loved animals – she doted on her dog, who we will now be taking in. As for Gary, he was just a true gent, we loved him and he was part of our family.

“He was just a wonderful person, they were both so wonderful and we can’t comprehend how this has happened.”

Mr Vickers, who has two children from a previous marriage, met Miss Clarke some years ago when she was dining at his hotel.

He and his father Gordon were well known in Chester since taking over The Mill in 1987.

Shortly after the tragedy, Gordon, 84, released a statement saying: “The accident with my son has been a great loss and we extend our condolences to Kay's family.

“We’d like to thank everybody who has sent their condolences.

“Gary was without doubt a very accomplished pilot and very meticulous in his approach to flying.

“We both started flying about 15 years ago and Gary went on to obtain a commercial twin engine rated licence, purchasing the Cessna Twin which he has flown all over Europe. He also decided to obtain a commercial helicopter licence which proves his ability as a pilot.

“On the pictures I have seen of the accident, it is my opinion it was caused through one engine having a malfunction on landing, not pilot error.”

Mr Vickers added: “Gary always loved sports. He was one of the best players in the Cheshire Squash League and was a keen snow skiing guide in Andorra and France.

“But his passion was flying and sadly there’s always a risk.

“It is very sad that two lives have ended this way; we would like to thank the emergency services at Hawarden for their prompt attendance.”

Inquests into the couple’s deaths were opened on Tuesday and post-mortem examinations provisionally established that Mr Vickers died of head and chest injuries, while Miss Clarke died later of shock and haemorrhage.

Both inquests were adjourned, subject to ‘extensive investigations’.


Family denies pilot was taunted: PZL-Mielec M-18A Dromader, VH-TZJ, accident occurred October 24, 2013, west of Ulladulla, New South Wales - Australia

The family of the late David Black refuted allegations made in a Senate estimates committee on Monday where it was claimed Mr Black was taunted by Rural Fire Service (RFS) personnel on the morning of his fatal accident. 

 On Tuesday The RFS denied any knowledge of alleged taunts by its members towards Mr Black on the day his plane crashed while battling the Shoalhaven bushfires.

Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan told the parliamentary committee he had heard Mr Black was taunted by RFS members for voicing his concerns about flying conditions.

Mr Black, 43, was killed when his Dromader hit the ground in the Budawang National Park, near Ulladulla on October 24.

Senator Heffernan said pilots were reluctant to fly because of poor weather but Mr Black was told “real men and real pilots would be up there”.

In a media statement released late Tuesday afternoon members of Mr Black’s family and his work colleagues said the pilot had not been taunted by RFS personnel on the morning of the accident.

“There was a minor incident involving some comments the day previous, involving an air base manager and other pilots at a different base from where Mr Black was operating,” the statement said.

“The comments related to the pilots’ decision to stand down due to extreme weather conditions. Mr Black, as chief pilot of the company, responded to employee pilots reporting the matter to him by raising the issue within the appropriate Rural Fire Service chain of command.”

As there was an active Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigation into the accident, and as the NSW Coroner was also likely to consider the fatality, the family said comments by other parties were not helpful to the family in dealing with the tragedy.

A RFS spokesperson said the organization had not heard the claims until Mr Heffernan made them and they have begun an investigation.

“The NSW Rural Fire Service has no information in relation to the allegations of pilots being taunted on the day of Mr Black’s tragic death,” the spokesperson said.

“Given the serious nature of the allegations the NSW RFS has launched an immediate investigation into the matter and will be in a position to make a statement once we are in possession of all the facts.”

The ATSB is investigating the crash and a spokesperson said Mr Heffernan’s statement would be taken into consideration.

Pilots are contracted to the RFS when they carry out water-bombing and the ATSB is expected to talk to the RFS regarding the water bombing operation.

The investigation into the crash is only in the early stages and a final report into what caused the crash is still months away but a preliminary report released by the ATSB indicates the left wing broke off when an attachment lug failed.

Inspections of wings on Dromader aircraft every 500 hours or 12 months became mandatory after a series of Dromader crashes involving wings breaking in flight. Just a week before the accident, Mr Black’s Dromader had 110 hours in service since its last inspection.

In-flight breakup involving PZL Mielec M18A Dromader aircraft, VH-TZJ, 37 km west of Ulladulla, NSW on 24 October 2013

Investigation number: AO-2013-187

Cessna 152, N45904: Aircraft lost power and landed on a road - Portland, Maine


FALMOUTH — Investigators are working to determine what forced a pilot to land a two-seat airplane in the southbound lanes of Interstate 295 during rush hour Thursday evening. Sachin Hejaji, 42, of Falmouth, landed the Cessna 152 around 5 p.m. without injuring himself or anyone on the ground or damaging any vehicles. “It was amazing,” said state Trooper Justin Cooley. “He landed in the middle of the road. It was luck. I don’t know any other way to put it.” After landing on the busy highway in Cumberland, Hejaji taxied the plane for about a half-mile before pulling into the median in Falmouth, about a half-mile north of the Johnson Road overpass.

Standing behind the plane after his emergency landing, Hejaji was shaken up but not injured. “I’m not in the right frame of mind to talk,” he said. “I’m sorry.” The airplane, built in 1985 and leased by Hejaji from Maine Aviation Aircraft Leasing of Portland, did not appear damaged. As police and firefighters huddled nearby, Hejaji stood alone, gazing at the white-and-red plane.

Cooley said Hejaji, who was flying alone, told police that he was returning to the Portland International Jetport from Waterville at an altitude of 2,000 feet when the plane’s engine lost power. He decided to land on the interstate.

Jacob Alves, 27, who works in Yarmouth, was carpooling home to Gorham with a co-worker when he noticed lights descending onto the road about a half-mile ahead. Cars began to slow, and by the time he reached the aircraft it was stopped, Alves said.

“It didn’t even seem like it was anything out of the ordinary,” he said. “By the time we got up near it, we said, ‘Oh wow, it's a plane.’ ”

The landing snarled traffic in both directions on the interstate. Police were able to keep one lane of traffic moving around the airplane after Hejaji pulled it into the median, but Cooley said southbound traffic was backed up for miles, into Freeport.

Northbound traffic was backed up from Falmouth into South Portland. Police said the congestion was caused by drivers who were looking at the plane.

“Traffic was literally slowed by curiosity,” said Ted Talbot, spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation.

Talbot, who works in Augusta, said he was driving south when traffic slowed to a halt in Freeport. It took him another 50 minutes to reach the site in Falmouth where the plane was parked.

Around 7 p.m., the state shut down the southbound lanes in Yarmouth and rerouted traffic onto Route 1. The rare closure allowed police to put the airplane on a flatbed truck and move it to a state garage off Route 1 in Yarmouth.

Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said her agency will try to determine what prompted the emergency landing.

The National Transportation Safety Board issued a statement Thursday night saying that, without injuries or damage, that agency will not investigate the incident.

Jim Iacono, director of business development for Maine Aviation, a charter service based at the jetport, confirmed that the craft belongs to the company but would not provide further details.

Gabe Souza, a Portland Press Herald photographer, went up in the same plane earlier in the day with a different pilot to take photographs over Cumberland and Yarmouth. He said there were no apparent mechanical problems with the plane, but when he opened a window to take a photograph, the door opened.

Chris Griffith of Scarborough, who has been a pilot for 29 years and owns a Cessna, praised Hejaji for remaining calm under pressure.

“The most important thing he did is that he didn’t panic,” said Griffith, the chairman of an organization known as Friends of the Biddeford Airport, who said he doesn’t know Hejaji personally. “It sounds as though he remained very calm, cool and collected.”

Griffith, who serves as a consultant to the Texas Flying Legends performing group, said Hejaji most likely flew over the line of southbound drivers, who saw him and slowed down.

Griffith said the Cessna that Hejaji was flying, known as a two-seat trainer, is equipped with a “stall speed” that would have allowed him to fly at about 45 mph.

Once the southbound drivers spotted him overhead and began to slow down, Hejaji would have picked an opening and landed, he said. The cars in front of Hejaji were probably going at highway speed and their drivers probably didn’t even notice him when he landed the plane.

Griffith said Hejaji probably taxied for a half-mile because he wanted to find a safe place to pull over that would not impede traffic.

“I thought he did pretty well,” Griffith said. “From one pilot to another, I commend him for not losing his head.”

Hejaji emigrated to the United States from India more than 13 years ago, and he and his wife support new arrivals from other countries, according to an article published earlier this year in the Press Herald about a celebration of immigration through performing arts.

In April, a Maine game warden, Dan Dufault, had to make an emergency landing on the Maine Turnpike in Litchfield after running out of fuel. His Cessna 172 was refueled and flown off the highway.


 Pilot Sachin Hejaji of Falmouth talks on his phone after making an emergency landing of a small plane in the southbound lane of Interstate 295 around mile 13 in Cumberland about 5 p.m. Thursday.

CUMBERLAND, Maine —Maine State Police said a small plane landed on Interstate 295 in Cumberland Thursday evening.

Maine State Police spokesman Steve McCausland said the plane, which may have experienced engine trouble, landed in the southbound side of the interstate. That plane landed in Cumberland and taxied along the road for a time, until resting in Falmouth.

Click here to hear a witness account.

No injuries have been reported.

The pilot has been identified as Sachin Hejeji of Falmouth. McCausland said he was flying his Cessna 152 from Waterville to the Portland International Jetport.

Traffic in the southbound lanes have slowed and motorists driving south should seek another route, McCausland said.

Click here to see photos from the scene.

Ted Talbot from the Maine Department of Transportation said State Police will put the plane on a flat bed truck and take it to a facility in Yarmouth off exit 15. Troopers said they will tow the plane north in the southbound lanes.

State Police tell WMTW News 8 the plane was a rental from Maine Aviation.

Check back for updates

Cessna 172R Skyhawk, Windsor Flying Club, C-GRJH: Fatal accident occurred October 29, 2013 at Nashville International Airport (BNA), Tennessee

NTSB Identification: ERA14FA027
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 29, 2013 in Nashville, TN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/17/2015
Aircraft: CESSNA 172R, registration: C-GRJH
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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.

The noninstrument-rated pilot rented the airplane in Canada and filed a visual flight rules flight plan for a cross-country flight to a destination in Canada; the flight had not been approved to leave Canada. The flight plan was subsequently closed; the investigation could not determine the flight’s last departure point and time. The airplane wreckage was found on an airport runway in Nashville, Tennessee, the following afternoon during an airfield inspection. Postaccident examination of the airplane found no mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

A review of airport radar data indicated that the airplane entered the Nashville area at night almost 9 hours after its initial departure time and that the airplane circled the airport for about 2 hours before it crashed on the approach end of the runway. Instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions, which included horizontal visibility of 1/4 statute mile and vertical visibility of 100 ft above ground level, existed about the time of the airplane’s arrival until it crashed.

A review of the pilot’s health records, which included a mental health report provided by the pilot’s parole officer, revealed that he had a history of repeated convictions for criminal activity and that he had developed a significant interest in a celebrity who lived in Nashville. Although the medical records did not include a specific psychiatric diagnosis, the pilot’s prior criminal actions and impulsive behavior are consistent with antisocial personality disorder, which likely led to his impetuous decision to fly to Nashville. It is likely that, because of his impetuous decision, the pilot was unware of the IFR conditions in Nashville until he arrived in the area and that, because he was not instrument rated, he was unable to safely land the airplane with no visual contact with the runway.

Toxicological testing of the pilot’s blood revealed significantly elevated levels of ethanol, indicating that the pilot ingested alcohol before the accident. The alcohol likely further impaired the pilot’s judgment and his ability to fly the airplane safely in IFR conditions.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The noninstrument-rated pilot’s continued visual flight into night instrument flight rules conditions, which resulted in a collision with the runway during an attempted approach to land. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s mental state, his impairment due to alcohol, and his decision to operate the airplane from Canada to the United States without the owner’s permission and without proper clearances for the flight. 

On October 29, 2013, about 0350 central daylight time (CDT), a Cessna 172R, Canadian registration C-GRJH, owned by the Windsor Flying Club and operated by a private individual, was destroyed by a postcrash fire when it impacted the runway during a landing attempt at Nashville International Airport (BNA), Nashville, Tennessee. The private pilot was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The last departure point of the flight was not determined. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Canadian Air Regulations.

According to the Canadian flying club which owned the airplane, the pilot rented the airplane at Windsor Airport, Windsor, Canada on the afternoon of October 28, 2013. The pilot reported his destination as Pelee Island Airport, Pelee, Ontario. The flight departed Windsor Airport about 1800 after the pilot filed a visual flight rules flight plan. Transportation Canada reported the pilot closed his VFR flight plan about 2030. The pilot did not file any additional flight plans and a review of air traffic control information in Canada and the United States revealed no communication between air traffic control and the pilot. It could not be determined where the flight last departed and at what time.

Airport operations at BNA conducted an airfield inspection on October 29, 2013, about 0200. No airplane wreckage was observed on runway 2C. At about 0845, an airplane taxing for departure reported a piece of airplane wreckage on runway 2C. Airport operations subsequently responded and discovered the wreckage about 0900.

A review of BNA primary radar showed an airplane that arrived within the 20 nautical mile ring of BNA Class B airspace area about 0142. According to the primary radar returns, the airplane initially flew in circles near the outer northwest ring of Class B airspace before proceeding to the airport. About 0200 the airplane was observed flying in circles above runways 2L and 2C for about 5 minutes. The airplane traveled northwest again and momentarily circled a lighted tower before it returned to the airport and circled the airport for an additional 90 minutes. At 0350 the airplane was observed over the approach end of runway 2C, but did not reappear beyond the threshold.


The pilot, age 45, held a Canadian-issued private pilot certificate with ratings for single and multi-engine land. He was issued a valid third-class medical certificate on July 28, 2013. The pilot also held a Canadian radio telephone operator's certificate with qualifications for aeronautical use that was issued on January 8, 1990.

The pilot's logbook could not be located and his flight time could not be verified; however, he reported to Windsor Flying Club that he had over 100 hours of flight experience. According to the club's records, the pilot's last biennial currency flight was on October 31, 2012. The pilot accumulated about 5.6 total hours of flight time in the accident airplane in the12 months prior to the accident.


According to the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register, the accident airplane was a Cessna 172R, serial number 17280765, and was manufactured in 1999. It was powered by a Lycoming model IO-360-L2A engine, serial number L-18784-51A. The engine was rated at 160 horsepower at 2,400 rpm. The airplane was equipped with two wing fuel tanks that each held 26.5 gallons of usable 100 low lead aviation fuel. The airplane operator reported that the airplane was equipped for instrument flight under Canadian Aviation Regulations 605.18.

According to airplane records, an annual inspection was performed on the airframe and engine on September 10, 2013, at 6,045 hours total time. The airplane total time could not be determined because the Hobbs meter was burned beyond recognition.


Weather, recorded at BNA at 0153, included wind calm, one quarter statute mile visibility, runway 02L visual range between 1,200 feet and 1,400 feet, fog, vertical visibility 100 feet above ground level (agl), temperature 12 degrees C, dewpoint 11 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.28 inches Hg.
Weather, recorded at BNA at 0234, included wind calm, less than one quarter statute mile visibility, runway 02L visual range 600 feet, fog, vertical visibility 100 feet agl, temperature 12 degrees C, dewpoint 12 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.27 inches Hg.

Weather, recorded at BNA at 0253, included wind calm, less than one quarter statute mile visibility, runway 02L visual range 600 feet, fog, vertical visibility 100 feet agl, temperature 12 degrees C, dewpoint 12 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.27 inches Hg.

The following ceilings and visibilities were reported at BNA around the time of the accident. All runway visual range (RVR) values were for runway 02L. At 0353, one quarter statute mile visibility and a vertical visibility of 100 feet agl were reported. At 0453, one quarter statute mile visibility with an RVR from 800 feet and 1,200 feet, and a 100 foot vertical visibility were reported. At 0553, one quarter statute mile visibility with RVR from 800 feet and 1,000 feet and a vertical visibility of 100 feet were reported. At 0653, one quarter statute mile visibility with an RVR from 1,200 feet and 1,400 feet, and a vertical visibility of 100 feet were reported. At 0753, one eighth statute mile visibility, with an RVR from 1,000 feet and 1,600 feet, and a vertical visibility of 100 feet were reported. At 0853, one eighth statute mile visibility, with an RVR from 700 feet and 1,000 feet, and a vertical visibility of 100 feet were reported.

The National Weather Service reported an area forecast for Tennessee prior to the accident with ceilings below 1,000 feet and visibility below 3 statute miles, mist, and fog from October 28, 2013 at 2100 to October 29, 2013 at 0400.


Nashville International Airport was a tower-controlled, public-use airport equipped with four concrete runways oriented in a 13/31, 2R/20C, 2L/20L, and 2C/20C configuration. According to FAA records, runway 2C was 8,001 feet long and 150 feet wide, with high intensity runway edge lights and 1,400 foot medium intensity approach lights accompanied by runway alignment indicator lights. The runway field elevation was 569.1 feet.


The airplane wreckage came to rest about 468 feet from the runway 2C threshold at BNA and was consumed by fire. The wreckage path was about 695 feet in length and oriented on a heading of about 040 degrees magnetic. The path was marked by two gouges that resembled propeller slash marks located about 200 feet from the runway threshold. A fire signature was noted by heavy soot marks that began 220 feet after the initial impact point and continued to the main wreckage.

The engine was also located in the energy path about 150 feet past the main wreckage. Both the propeller and crankshaft flange were separated from the engine and located about 120 feet to the right of the wreckage path and 200 feet from the initial impact point. Both propeller blades exhibited bending opposite the direction of rotation, torsional twisting, leading edge abrasions and chord-wise scoring. Blade A, arbitrarily designated by investigators, exhibited heavy leading edge gouging and the eight inches of the blade tip were impact separated. The blade tip to Blade B was curled about 360 degrees.

Aileron control cable continuity was confirmed from the flight control surfaces to the cockpit controls. The rudder, elevator, and elevator trim cables were intact and control cable continuity was confirmed from the flight control surfaces to the empennage, which remained attached to the fuselage by cables. The elevator trim actuator measurement was 1.25", which corresponded to a 0 degree trim tab deflection. Flap control continuity was traced from the flaps to the flap actuator which was in the flaps retracted position.

The airplane sustained major fire damage to the fuselage, cockpit and engine compartments. Examination of the cockpit revealed no discernable instruments or retrievable data. The postcrash fire also consumed most of the fuel system.
The engine was partially disassembled at the accident site under the supervision of the NTSB Investigator. Continuity of the crankshaft was confirmed to the rear gears and the valve train when it was rotated through the vacuum pump drive and internal engine continuity was confirmed to most of the accessory drives. The cylinders were examined using a lighted borescope and no anomalies were noted.

The top spark plugs and vacuum pump were removed from the engine and valve movement, thumb compression, and suction were observed at each of the four cylinders. The upper spark plug electrodes were normal in color and wear; the bottom spark plugs were impact damaged or obstructed by the crushed exhaust tubes. The upper vacuum pump remained attached to the engine and its drive coupling, carbon rotor and carbon vanes were all intact. The lower pump was impact separated and the carbon rotor was fractured; however, the carbon vanes remained intact. Both magnetos were found at the accident site; the left magneto was partially separated from the engine and could not be operated by hand. The right magneto had separated from the engine and produced spark at all leads when rotated by hand.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Tennessee Department of Health, Nashville, Tennessee, on October 29, 2013. The cause of death was listed as "multiple blunt force and thermal injuries." The blood carboxyhemoglobin concentration was 1.3% and not indicative of smoke inhalation during a fire.

Toxicological testing was conducted by the State of Tennessee by NMS laboratories, which detected ethanol in the chest blood at 0.081 grams/deciliter (g/dL) and vitreous at 0.120 g/dL. Further toxicological testing performed by the FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma detected ethanol in samples of muscle (0.098 g/dL), lung (0.082 g/dL), heart (0.076 g/dL), cavity blood (0.064 g/dL), liver (0.055 g/dL) and brain tissue (0.043 g/dL). Federal Aviation Regulations prohibit operation of aircraft with a blood alcohol/ethanol level greater than 0.040 gm/dL. Toxicological testing found no evidence of putrefaction.

The NTSB Medical Officer reviewed the FAA Medical Case Review, toxicology results, autopsy report and health records that included a statement and mental health report provided by the pilot's parole officer. The pilot's Canadian medical records were not available for review. The parole report indicated a history of repeated convictions for criminal activity. During the pilot's mental health evaluation in August 2012, he reported that he had developed a significant interest in a celebrity and had written several letters to her. According to the mental health evaluator, the letters "have the flavor of stalking." The celebrity of interest resided in Nashville, Tennessee at the time of the accident.


Three weeks after it happened, investigators are still trying to understand how a small plane veered hundreds of miles off its flight plan, crashed at the Nashville airport and wasn’t found by airport authorities for hours.  

 Authorities aren’t sure how Michael Callan flew undetected over an international border, why he turned his transponder off and what caused him to circle the Nashville airport for as long as 2½ hours before attempting to land — also apparently without coming to the attention of airport authorities. Each of those details was confirmed by at least two authorities in a position to be familiar with the investigation, although some could not discuss them on the record.

“We’re trying to piece it together,” said Jay Neylon, air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.

But none of the mysteries surrounding the incident compares to this one: Callan, the 45-year-old Canadian who died in the late-night crash, listed singer Taylor Swift as his next of kin.

That came as news to Swift when authorities reached out to her after the crash.

“The first we heard of this was when the appropriate authorities contacted Taylor’s management about the crash,” Paula Erickson, Swift’s publicist, wrote in an email response to questions. “Taylor does not know this person.”

Erickson declined to say anything more, but Metro Police spokesman Don Aaron said in an email that one of the precinct detectives heard from the Federal Aviation Administration that Callan had listed Swift as his next of kin with the flying club in Canada.

That information, Aaron continued, was then passed along to the agency’s Specialized Investigations Unit, and a sergeant in that unit relayed the information to Swift’s security team. Swift’s team reported back that no one, including the singer, had heard of Callan before the crash.

Aaron said the matter was then dropped after the information was passed along to the Joint Terrorism Task Force by the department’s liaison to the group.

Callan had no arrest history in Nashville, Aaron said, “and we don’t know what he was doing.”

Aaron said the department’s primary role in the case was determining the manner of death, which at this point appears to be accidental.

Ultimately, other mysteries became bigger priorities than the inexplicable mention of Swift. Neylon said the agency is focused on aviation issues, such as whether Callan ever landed at Pelee Island before heading to Nashville or whether he stopped somewhere else and refueled. His flight plan named the island in Lake Erie, about 100 kilometers from where he took off, as his ultimate destination.

“There is no conclusive evidence he did land there,” Neylon said.

He said investigators were reviewing radar records to try to determine just how long the plane circled over the Nashville airport. The plane he was in, a Cessna 172R, can fly for six hours on a single tank of fuel.

Neylon said the transponder on the plane could have malfunctioned or been turned off, a possible indication the pilot was trying to avoid detection.

The flying club

Answers to those questions probably won’t come from the flying club, which owned the plane Callan flew. David Gillies, club president, said in a telephone interview that he had been contacted by Callan’s two sisters and they had asked him not to discuss their brother’s mysterious end.

The sisters, Gillies noted, “are his next of kin.”

“They asked me not to comment, and I’m going to respect that,” Gillies said. “They want to bring their brother home and bury him.”

Adding to the mystery, Callan may have had a criminal record. According to published reports a man named Michael Callan from Windsor of the same age has a criminal record that includes bank robberies. A Michael Callan of that same age also was arrested in a Windsor-area child pornography case, but Canadian officials would not confirm whether it was the same person.

The initial report on the accident from the National Transportation Safety Board, issued Nov. 5, was spare in details. NTSB officials indicated they were trying to figure out how the aircraft crashed and then sat undetected on Nashville’s Runway 2C for as long as seven hours. The runway had been checked at about 2 a.m., but the wreckage was not spotted until the pilot of a passing plane noticed it at 8:45 a.m.

Officials at the Nashville airport and the FAA haven’t said how many air traffic controllers were on duty, whether they should have noticed the plane or its wreckage, or whether any employees have been disciplined after the incident.

Airport spokeswoman Emily Richard said she could provide no new details because everything was in the hands of the NTSB.

It’s also unclear why Callan, who was flying in heavy fog at night even though he was not certified to operate solely from instrument readings, didn’t try to reach anyone at the Nashville tower. Bruce Landsberg, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, said that even if Callan wasn’t familiar with the Nashville airport’s frequencies, he could have used a universal frequency to make contact.

Landsberg said the normal practice would be for a pilot to make contact at least 25 miles out when approaching a major airport.

Neylon said investigations such as this one generally take about six months. A final report on the accident can be expected about a year after the crash, he said.

Asked if the Oct. 29 incident was unusual, Neylon said, “Every accident is unusual.”

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NTSB Identification: ERA14FA027
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 29, 2013 in Nashville, TN
Aircraft: CESSNA 172F, registration: C-GRJH
Injuries: 1 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 29, 2013, between about 0200 and 0845 central daylight time (CDT), a Cessna 172F, Canadian registration C-GRJH, owned by the Windsor Flying Club and operated by a private individual, was destroyed when it impacted runway 2C while attempting a landing at the Nashville International Airport (BNA), Nashville, Tennessee. The private pilot was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at BNA from about 1045 on October 28, 2013, to about 1100 on October 29, 2013. The flight originated at Windsor Airport (CYQG), Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and a visual flight rules flight plan was filed which listed the destination airport as Pelee Island Airport (CYPT), Pelee, Ontario, Canada.

According to the flying club’s manager, the pilot signed the flying club’s authorization sheet with his destination listed as CYPT. Transportation Canada reported the pilot closed his flight plan about 2030. The pilot did not file any additional flight plans and a preliminary review of air traffic control information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration revealed no communication between air traffic control and the pilot.

Airport operations personnel at BNA reported conducting an airfield inspection about 0200, with nothing unusual noted on runway 2C. At about 0845, an airplane taxing for departure reported a piece of what appeared to be an engine cowling on runway 2C. Airport operations personnel responded and discovered the wreckage of C-GRJH. The airplane impacted runway 2C on approximately a 040 degrees magnetic heading and skidded about 450 feet before coming to a stop east of the runway. A fire signature started about 220 feet after the initial impact point and continued to the main wreckage. All flight control surfaces were accounted for at the scene and continuity was confirmed. The airplane came to rest upright and the cabin and cockpit were consumed by fire. The propeller assembly was found about 400 feet from the initial impact point. Both propeller blades exhibited impact damage with chordwise scratching and one of the blades exhibited tip curling. The engine was located about 700 feet from the initial impact point.

Drift In Magnetic North Spurs Runway Updates At John Wayne Airport (KSNA) - Santa Ana, California

SANTA ANA ( — John Wayne Airport is set to become the first airport in Southern California to re-number its runways in response to Earth’s changing magnetic field. 

Orange County Register reporter Mary-Ann Milbourn told KNX 1070′s Chris Sedens and Diane Thompson workers at John Wayne will re-number the airport’s two runways and update about two dozen directional signs to adjust for a periodic shift in magnetic north, the point at the top of the Earth that determines compass headings.

 “It moves around, and right now, it’s moving about 40 miles a year towards Russia,” Milbourn said. “As it moves, if you have a stationary object like a runway that hasn’t been changed, eventually it’s headings will not line up with the magnetic north.” 

Runway numbers and letters are determined from an airplane’s approach direction and measured clockwise from the magnetic north, according to the FAA.

While several airports around the world have taken similar measures in recent years – including most recently at Tampa International Airport in 2011 – John Wayne is the first in the region to do so.

Officials at Long Beach Airport and San Diego International did not have any current plans to renumber their runways, according to Milbourn.

The runways at John Wayne will not be closed during the transition, which an FAA spokesman told Milbourn is a measure all airports are advised to complete when the magnetic heading shifts more than 5 degrees from any existing runway markings.

Passengers, however, should have no concerns whatsoever about the re-numbering, according to Milbourn.

“All the airport authorities…work months and years in advance to make sure that all these things are done, all of the schedules, all of the manuals and charts are updated,” Milbourn said. “It will basically be more or less like flipping a switch.”

The re-numbering process is scheduled to completed by July 24, 2014, according to Milbourn.

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