Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2005 Bellview Airlines crash: Captain’s Family Sues Airline Over Compensation

The family of late Captain Lambert Imasuen, the pilot of the Bellview aircraft, Boeing 737-200, that crashed on October 22, 2005 has filed a N100 million suit against the airline before the National Industrial Court (NIC) in Lagos, over the non-payment of the compensation due to their bread winner. 
The aircraft was on its way to Abuja when it crashed at Lisa Village, Ogun State, killing all 117 persons on board. The suit was filed by a representative of the family, Imuwahen Lenita Imasuen, who is the eldest child and administrator of the estate of late Captain Imasuen.

Other defendants in the suit are Kayode Odukoya, Tunde Yusuf, Gabriel Olowo, Emmanuel Ombu, Abisoye Mohammed, Kola Sobande, Chimara Imediegwu and Alex Iheuwa – all directors of the airline.

In a supporting affidavit, the claimant (Imuwahen), through her lawyer, Yusuf Kadiri, averred that immediately after the death of her father, she and other family members went to Bellview’s office as was required of the victims of the crash, and they were informed of their entitlement to a $100, 000 compensation for the death of Captain Imasuen as a victim of the air crash.

She said the defendant made an advance payment of $10,000 with the assurance that the balance of $90, 000 would be paid upon the production of a letter of administration of the estate of late Captain Imasuen.

However, upon the presentation of the said letter of administration, Imuwahen said the defendants refused to pay the outstanding balance of $90,000 despite repeated demands.

Besides, the family urged the court to compel the airline to pay the said $90,000 and N82 million damages, as well as the cost of the action and other benefits and entitlement accruing to the estate of late Captain Imasuen both as air crash victim and staff of Bellview Airlines.

But the defendants, in their statement of defence, denied admitting to pay the claimant $100,000 compensation, and that there was no time they gave any assurance, whatsoever, of paying $90, 000 balance.

The defendants added that on December 22, 2005, Bellview Airlines benevolently offered to pay the family of late Captain Imasuen $10,000 to alleviate any hardship occasioned by the crash to the family.

They further contended that the suit was brought in obvious bad faith, and that it should be dismissed with substantial cost. When the matter came up before Justice Lawal Mani, the family opened its case with the testimony of the claimant, Imuwahen.

While being led in evidence by Kadiri, Imuwahen lamented that despite the express assurances given to her by Bellview Airlines through its Company Secretary, one Andrew Orji, the company refused to pay the compensation thereby neglecting the family.

Source:   http://nationalmirroronline.net

NTSB Identification: WAS06RA004
Accident occurred Saturday, October 22, 2005 in Lagos, Nigeria
Aircraft: Boeing 737-200, registration:
Injuries: 117 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On October 22, 2005 about 1935 UTC, Bellview Airlines flight 3210, a Boeing 737-200, Nigerian registry 5N-BFN, a domestic air carrier flight, collided with the ground shortly after takeoff from Mohammed Murtala International Airport, Lagos, Nigeria. The 6 crew and 111 passengers were fatally injured. The aircraft was destroyed. There was no fire. The destination was Abuja, Nigeria.

The accident investigation is under the jurisdiciton of the Republic of Nigeria, Ministry of Aviation, Accident Investigation and Prevention Bureau. The US Accredited Represenative is Dennis Jones, National Transportation Safety Board, Washington, D.C. (202-314-6321).

Drug Enforcement Administration Case Threatens to Expose US Government-Sanctioned Drug-Running

Pleadings in Federal Court Reveal ICE Undercover Operation Marked With CIA Fingerprints

Federal agents this past November raided the offices of an aircraft brokerage and leasing company called World Jet Inc., based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The raid, spearheaded by the US Drug Enforcement Administration, was launched on the heels of a DEA affidavit for a search warrant, which was filed in late October last year in federal court in Colorado as part of a case that is now sealed. The search-warrant affidavit was made available on the Internet after being obtained by a reporter for the Durango Herald newspaper.

The affidavit outlines allegations against several individuals accused by the DEA of participating in a narco-trafficking conspiracy. But that is not the big story here.

Instead, the real news is buried deep in the DEA court pleadings and confirms the existence of a US undercover operation that Narco News reported previously had allowed tons of cocaine to be flown from Latin America into the states absent proper controls or the knowledge of the affected Latin American nations.

The DEA affidavit focuses on the owner of World Jet, Don Whittington, and his brother, Bill — both of whom earned modest infamy as race-car drivers who were convicted and served time in prison for participating in a marijuana-smuggling conspiracy in the 1980s.

The DEA now alleges the pair, through World Jet, have leased or brokered the sale of multiple aircraft to agents of known narco-trafficking organizations in Latin America. Those aircraft, the DEA claims, were leased or sold at inflated prices and the proceeds laundered through various businesses owned or operate by the brothers — including a resort and spa in Colorado.

Because the titles and tail numbers for the leased aircraft are kept in World Jet or related-parties’ names, the planes can be “repossessed” by World Jet after they have served their purpose for the narco-traffickers, or if a plane is later seized as part of a drug bust, “both parties can deny responsibility and World Jet Inc. can reclaim the aircraft as they hold the financial lien,” the DEA affidavit alleges.

Narco News contacted World Jet’s office in Florida seeking comment from the Whittington brothers and also contacted their attorney. None of them returned calls prior to deadline.

Read more here: http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/bill-conroy/2014/01/dea-case-threatens-expose-us-government-sanctioned-drug-running

Federal authorities are investigating the family of the owners of the Springs Resort & Spa in Pagosa Springs for possibly laundering drug money through the famous hot springs. 

 No one has been accused of a crime, but a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration official detailed a lengthy investigation of aircraft dealer Reginald “Don” Whittington, 67, in an affidavit in support of a search warrant for Whittington’s emails.

Whittington and his brother, William Marvin “Bill” Whittington, are former champion race car drivers, and they both served prison time in the 1980s for charges related to marijuana smuggling.

Don Whittington now owns World Jet, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., firm that federal agents say offers jets to carry South American drug shipments.

A DEA informant said Whittington is laundering his proceeds through the Springs Resort and Spa in Pagosa Springs, according to a 35-page affidavit by DEA Special Agent Charles Amell.

Hot springs owners Nerissa and Keely Whittington deny the allegations.

“Nerissa and Keely Whittington are honest members of the Pagosa Springs business community, and any allegation that they or the Springs Resort are involved in any illegal activity is absurd and unfounded,” said Eric Loman, a lawyer for the sisters and the resort.

A DEA spokesman in Denver did not return a call after a brief conversation with The Durango Herald on Monday and an email Friday.

Agents had Don Whittington under surveillance when he flew into Pagosa Springs on April 19, according to the affidavit. The pilot of that flight was Gregory Dean Smith, who the DEA says is a World Jet contract employee and a “pilot of interest” in investigations of Latin American drug smuggling.

Dozens of companies, one address

Nerissa and Keely Whittington are identified publicly as the resort’s owners. Bill Whittington, their father, has been representing the hot springs resort to the Pagosa Springs town government as it pursues a decade-long expansion project.

The Springs Resort’s parent company, Pagosa Resort and Spa, has the same address as World Jet – 1020 NW 62nd Street in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The address is a hangar at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.

Nerissa and Keely Whittington are officers of the Gulfstream Group, an Albuquerque-based real estate company, which owns the Springs Resort.

Nerissa Whittington is an officer of 19 different companies registered in Florida. Keely is an officer in 15 companies, mostly the same ones as Nerissa. All of the companies, including Gulfstream, use World Jet’s address at the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.

Since 2012, Keely Whittington has worked for the town of Pagosa Springs as a project manager in the planning department.

$645,000 seized in 2009

Bank records show World Jet wired $451,000 to the Pagosa spa in 2009, and the spa wired back $111,408 the same year, according to the search warrant affidavit.

Around that time, federal agents seized $645,000 from World Jet’s bank account, causing Don and Bill Whittington to change “their method of transferring illegal proceeds from Florida to Colorado from direct wire transfers to indirect wire transfers using third parties and possibly bulk cash transportation,” Amell wrote in the affidavit.

Bill Whittington has promoted a $250 million, multi-year expansion of the Springs Resort to Pagosa’s Town Council. The resort received approval from the town in 2008 to expand the number of its hot springs pools from 18 to 23, along with the construction of a 29-room hotel. Long-term plans call for time shares, an expanded hotel and retail development.

Colorful lives

The Whittington brothers have led colorful lives. Along with Klaus Ludwig, they won the Le Mans, France, 24-hour endurance race in 1979. They both drove in the Indianapolis 500 five times. Their best showing was Don Whittington’s sixth place in 1982.

In 1987, Don Whittington pleaded guilty to tax evasion and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. In a related case, Bill Whittington pleaded guilty to marijuana smuggling and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. But Bill was released early in November 1990, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

Stories in the Philadelphia Inquirer say that after Don Whittington’s release, he cashed in $1.3 million in gold at a Delaware bank, but federal agents confiscated the money. He filed a lawsuit against the federal government to get the money back, but he lost, according to court records.

In 1990, Don Whittington survived a crash of a P-51 Mustang, a World War II fighter plane, off the Texas Gulf Coast, according to several newspaper accounts.

Don Whittington unsuccessfully sued the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation in 2006 to force the Indy 500 museum to return the Porsche 935 K3 in which he won the Le Mans endurance race. Whittington claimed he had merely loaned the car to the museum, but judges ruled that he had actually donated it.

Probe into plane sales

The DEA in Florida has been investigating World Jet for more than a year. Amell’s affidavit details a scheme in which the company would sell airplanes at inflated prices to drug traffickers but maintain the title, either in the name of World Jet or a third party. When the smugglers were done with the planes, World Jet would “repossess” them.

The warrant lists several aircraft sales by World Jet to known or suspected drug traffickers, including:

A Hawker 700 jet that DEA sources said was used to transport cocaine from Venezuela to Honduras. Venezuelan authorities seized the plane in May.

A Gulfstream II that was purchased in May, allegedly to smuggle cocaine from South America to Central America for the Camilo McAllister-Maldonado drug trafficking organization in Colombia. A DEA confidential source negotiated the transaction, and $187,000 was wired into a DEA undercover account, after which World Jet transferred the plane to the confidential source, according to the affidavit.

A Piper PA-31, which Colombian police seized in 2009 with more than 1,700 pounds of cocaine aboard. The plane has been registered to World Jet since 2008, according to FlightAware, a company that tracks aviation data.

The DEA seized $645,000 from World Jet after the plane was snagged in Colombia. Whittington told DEA agents at the time there was no need to seize the money, because he would have turned it over voluntarily if they had asked, according to the affidavit.

Three planes sold to Congo Mining & Services, which according to the affidavit is under investigation for laundering money from drug and weapons trafficking in Africa into the United States.

Congo Mining pleaded guilty to flying unregistered aircraft and agreed to a $75,000 fine in federal court in Florida this February. The plea agreement cites a flight on Oct. 14, 2012, from the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport to Barbados. A Gulfstream 3 was sold on Oct. 10, 2012, to Congo Mining & Services, and on April 19, 2013, it was registered to a trustee, R.D. Whittington Jr., according to FlightAware.

Under the search warrant, which was approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge Gordon Gallagher in Grand Junction, the DEA received copies of emails from four World Jet accounts from the company’s email provider in Illinois.

This story has been corrected since its original publication.

A DEA agent on the scene during a federal probe of World Jet near executive airport in Ft.Lauderdale. 
(Carline Jean, Sun Sentinel)

Agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency raided a business at the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport Monday as part of an ongoing investigation, officials said. 

Several DEA agents along with Homeland Security Investigations officers were seen at the airport offices of World Jet, Inc.

DEA officials wouldn't give details of the investigation.

But according to a Colorado search warrant filed last month and leaked on the Internet by a Colorado newspaper, World Jet is owned by brothers William and Reginald Whittington, who are being investigated for links to drug trafficking organizations.

Emails sent to the Whittington brothers for comment weren't immediately returned Monday.

According to the warrant, Reginald Whittington sold or leased multiple aircraft to purchasing agents of Venezuelan, Colombian, African and Mexican drug trafficking organizations.

A confidential source told the DEA that the proceeds of the sales were then invested into a ranch and spa in Colorado and were laundered through a hotel by William Whittington, the warrant said.

The DEA has been investigating World Jet for a year, the warrant said.

According to the warrant, William Whittington pleaded guilty to marijuana importation and federal tax violations in 1986 and was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. As part of a plea deal, he agreed to forfeit $7 million in U.S. currency and assets to the U.S. government, the warrant said.

In 1987, Reginald Whittington pleaded guilty to federal tax violations and was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison, the warrant said.

Story, Video and Comments/Reaction:  http://www.nbcmiami.com

DEA raids firm linked to Pagosa spa: Florida aircraft service suspected of drug trafficking, money laundering

Florida aircraft service suspected of drug trafficking, money laundering: Ex-Racers With Ties To Pagosa Springs Probed Over Drug Aircraft 

MIAMI (AP) – Federal drug agents are investigating a Florida aircraft leasing business operated by two former champion race drivers who are suspected of providing airplanes to South American drug traffickers, according to court documents and interviews.

Agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI and Homeland Security Department raided the Fort Lauderdale offices Monday of World Jet Inc., which is controlled by brothers Don and Bill Whittington. They raced in the Indianapolis 500 and other tracks, teaming up with a third driver to win the France’s 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1979.

Later, both brothers pleaded guilty for their roles in a $73 million marijuana smuggling ring that authorities said financed their racing careers.

Now, according to a DEA search warrant affidavit that relies on several confidential informants, the Whittingtons are suspected of illegally leasing aircraft from Florida to cocaine cartels and laundering drug-related profits through a hot springs resort hotel and a ranch in Colorado.

Mia Ro, a DEA spokeswoman in Miami, confirmed her agency is leading the investigation but declined to provide details. Agents were seen carrying boxes of records and other items from World Jet’s offices at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport on Monday.

No charges have been filed. An employee at World Jet hung up Tuesday when telephoned for comment, and the Whittingtons did not respond to email messages. It wasn’t clear if they had attorneys related to the DEA probe.

According to the DEA, World Jet leases or sells aircraft to drug traffickers in Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico and Africa at inflated prices, keeping the plane under the Whittington name or that of a third party and maintaining a U.S. tail number. After a certain period, the aircraft is returned to World Jet.

“In the event that the aircraft is seized pursuant to a narcotics interdiction, both parties can deny responsibility and World Jet Inc. can reclaim the aircraft,” the DEA said in the affidavit, filed in Colorado federal court.

Specific aircraft traced to World Jet were involved in numerous drug shipments or attempts, according to the DEA, including one Hawker 700 jet that was seized by the Venezuelan government earlier this year. One informant said that plane was supposed to carry more than two tons of cocaine from Venezuela to Honduras.

Another plane, a Beech King Air 300, was sold to the head of a South African company currently under U.S. investigation for laundering profits from the illegal drug and weapons trade in the U.S., the DEA affidavit says.

The resort involved in the investigation is the Springs Resort and Spa in Pagosa Springs, Colo., according to the DEA. Bill Whittington’s daughters, Nerissa and Keely Whittington, are identified as the resort’s operators, and the resort itself lists a Florida corporate address that is the same as World Jet’s.

Recently the city of Pagosa Springs approved an expansion plan pushed by Bill Whittington that includes raising the number of geothermal pools from 18 to 23 and building a 29-room hotel. Based on confidential informants, the DEA suspects that money from the aircraft sales to cocaine smugglers has been invested in the resort.

In addition, the DEA affidavit says World Jet money has gone into a nearby property called Three Meadows Ranch that is owned by an entity controlled by Nerissa Whittington. That entity, Fawn Gulch LLC, also lists World Jet’s corporate address in Florida.

No charges have been filed against either Nerissa or Keely Whittington. Their attorneys, Zachary Ives and Jason Bowles, issued a joint statement Tuesday on their behalf:

“The Springs Resort & Spa is a well-respected business and community partner that has never been used to launder money,” the lawyers said.

The Whittington brothers are no strangers to illegal drugs. They were sentenced to prison in 1987 after pleading guilty for their roles in a large-scale marijuana smuggling operation and Bill Whittington was forced to forfeit race cars, boats, planes, a mobile home park in Lakeland and $7 million in currency to the government.

Prosecutors said at the time that the Whittingtons were using drug sales profits to finance their racing team. In addition to the 1979 Le Mans, Don Whittington also raced on the NASCAR circuit in the early 1980s and – along with Bill Whittington and a third brother, Dale – raced in the Indianapolis 500. In 1982, Don Whittington finished sixth in that race, the best of the trio.

Don and Bill Whittington also raced P-51 Mustang airplanes at the Reno Air Races in Nevada.

Story and Video:  http://denver.cbslocal.com

Dick Trail: The state of aviation

You may have noticed in the media that the airlines may be experiencing a pilot shortage. Could be, and it was predictable.

Recently the FAA changed the rules to make the traveling public "safer." Never mind that travel by commercial air has been the safest mode of travel in the history of mankind. The rule change came partially from the investigation following the crash of a Colgan Airways airplane arriving into Cleveland. The loss of life was unfortunate and sad.

The Colgan pilot in command had a spotty record, having flunked several check rides. In each case, he received remedial training and was put back on the line. Union rules. The copilot, the airlines call them FO's for First Officer, was really inexperienced and was not assertive in making corrections to the captain.

The weather was bad with snow and accumulating airframe icing but was perfectly flyable for a good pilot crew.

It may be Monday-morning quarterbacking but In my experience as a KC-135 Tanker Squadron Commander, I would have managed my crews a little better.

I flew regularly with my flight crews and evaluated my crew members. I paired weak pilots with strong copilots.

Weak and or inexperienced copilots I paired with strong pilots to mentor them and get them up to my standards. Copilots that didn't improve went to non-flying jobs.

Read more here:   http://www.mccookgazette.com

Feds find pot after air-drop near Brown Field Municipal Airport (KSDM), San Diego, California

About 260 pounds of marijuana held in a metal cage were air-dropped near Brown Field and found by federal agents. — Courtesy of Customs and Border Protection

OTAY MESA — Border agents swooped in to Otay Mesa early Monday and arrested two men about to retrieve more than 260 pounds of marijuana dropped from an ultralight aircraft, authorities said.

The air and marine arm of Customs and Border Protection tracked the ultralight crossing into the United States from Mexico about 4:15 a.m., Border Patrol spokeswoman Mary Beth Caston said.

The agency sent a helicopter, whose crew directed Border Patrol agents to a remote drop location north of Brown Field airport, Caston said.

Agents found a metal cage filled with 10 bundles of marijuana that weighed a total of 262 pounds and is valued at about $157,000. Caston said the cage was used to hold the marijuana to the bottom of the ultralight.

Arrested near the drop zone were a 32-year-old unauthorized immigrant and a 49-year-old legal permanent U.S. resident, both from Mexico. Agents also seized a Ford Expedition parked nearby.

Caston said the ultralight didn’t land, and was tracked returning to Mexico.

Story, Photo and Comments/Reaction:  http://www.utsandiego.com

The Unwinnable War: Costa Rica’s Drug Trafficking Conundrum

 Piper PA-28 Cherokee Arrow,  TG-CEB, Tobias Bolaños Airport, October 10, 2010
Una avioneta con matrícula TG-CEB, en la que transportaban 176 kilos de cocaína, se accidentó ayer en un río en San José, Costa Rica. Uno de los dos guatemaltecos que resultaron heridos murió este lunes.

On October 10, 2010, a Piper airplane crashed in a riverbank soon after taking-off from Tobian Bolaños airport, located just outside Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose. While the death of one of the two passengers on board was notable, the big news was the cause of the crash: the plane’s wings were too heavy due to excess weight.

The crash was nothing more than a footnote elsewhere in the never-ending war on drugs. In Costa Rica, though, it made major headlines. The commandeering of the plane — and its contents of illegal substances — personified the much bigger transition in the nature of Costa Rica’s role in the American continent’s drug trafficking market:

Costa Rica is no longer simply a bridge to transport illegal drugs; it is now also an operating zone.

Story:  http://panampost.com

Costa Rican cops discover possible cocaine-processing lab, four more helipads in latest raid

Beechcraft B200 Super King Air, Vietnam Air Service Company, VN-B594: Buon Ma Thuot Airport, Dak Lak province, Vietnam

During a calibration flight, a Vietnam Airlines (VNA) plane had to land on its belly in Buon Ma Thuot City after its landing wheel system failed to open on Monday.

The incident prompted the airport to close for over two hours to handle the incident, said Le Truong Giang, the VNA spokesperson.

When in the airspace of Buon Ma Thuot, the capital city of the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, on Monday afternoon, the VFC-750 plane that departed from Da Lat could not open its landing wheel system.

The pilot of the plane, which is owned by Vietnam Air Service Company (Vasco), a VNA subsidiary, informed the local air traffic control station that a belly landing was necessary.

The airport mobilized provincial police, a fire brigade, and rescuers to be ready to cope with any problems that might occur during the landing.

With assistance from the airport’s technical department, the aircraft safely landed at 4:20 pm.

In order to handle the incident, the airport suspended its operation for over two hours.

There were nine people on board at the time, including three pilots, a Vasco flight operator, and five officials from Vietnam Air Traffic Management Corporation.  All of them sustained no injury from the belly landing.

The airport resumed normal operation at about 7 pm.

The aircraft, a King Air 200, with registration code VN-B594, was manufactured in 1989. Its last maintenance check-up was on August 29, 2013 at Vasco.

This plane is usually used for calibration, search and rescue, to photograph terrains, and for ecological surveys. 

The cause of the incident is being investigated by concerned agencies, a VNA representative said.

A similar incident occurred with another VNA aircraft last month, when an ATR-72 plane was found without one of its two front landing-wheels after it landed in Da Nang Airport on October 21, 2013.

After all 41 passengers and the crew had left the aircraft, airport technicians carried out a routine examination and found that it had lost one of its two front wheels.

Further examination showed that the aircraft’s front shaft had been broken at one side, causing the loss of the wheel.

Source:   http://tuoitrenews.vn

Beechcraft B100 King Air, Brothers Aviation LLC, N220AA: Incident occurred November 26, 2013 at Hector International Airport (KFAR), Fargo, North Dakota


Brothers Aviation, LLC:  http://registry.faa.gov/N220AA

FARGO – A small plane had a rough landing Tuesday morning at the Fargo Jet Center, but the pilot walked away without injury. 

The incident happened about 8:20 a.m. when Jet Center officials were notified a small propeller plane was approaching with landing gear trouble.

As the plane landed, the nose gear collapsed, causing damage to the plane, said Mark Solem, fire chief of the North Dakota Air National Guard Fire Department.

Solem said the pilot was the only person aboard the plane and he was not injured.

As of about 9:30 a.m., Jet Center crews were working to clear the plane from the landing area, Solem said. 

Story, Video and Photos:  http://www.wday.com

Emergency crews and investigators are responding to a plane crash at Hector International Airport in Fargo. It happened on the runway just south of the Fargo Jet Center. 

Valley News Team's John Trierweiler is on the scene of the crash and reports malfunctioning nose gear caused the pilot to land the plane nose-down. No injuries have been reported in this crash.

The plane is owned by Brothers Aviation, LLC out of Lakeville, Minnesota. The Beech B100 is a fixed-wing plane and can seat 11 people. 

Story and Photos:   http://www.valleynewslive.com

After deadly year for Alaska aviation, a renewed focus on training: Survivor testimony bolsters industry message of importance of practice

ANCHORAGE - Nine seconds are all that stood between pilot Tyler Renner and almost certain death. 

“Nine seconds," Renner said Saturday. "You get one choice, and you don't get to change your mind."

Those nine seconds were captured by a friend's iPhone in July 2012, when a routine takeoff from Lake Konovolof, just north of Kenai, went from routine to disastrous.

Seconds after takeoff, more than nine inches broke off the plane’s propeller, throwing Tyler’s cockpit into chaos. Missing the tip of one end of the prop, the engine created enough torque to rip itself right out of the plane. Just 50 feet in the air, Tyler had no choice but to kill the engine.

Nine seconds to figure out where he’ll land.

“The right choice for me was flying the airplane," Tyler said. "No matter what happened."

Nine seconds to choose between trees or water.

“I was still over the last remaining part of the lake,” he said. “So I pretty much made a falling left turn back into the water.”

He pauses, remembering the flight. “Fortunately for me, I made the right choice.”

Miraculously, Tyler and his friend both walked way unharmed.

“I think with the repeated training, you train yourself more or less how to react,” he said. “If I have my license, but didn't train or practice anything for 20 years, I don't know if I would have reacted and done the same things.”

This year has been one of the deadliest for flying in Alaska: 33 deaths spread out over 13 fatal crashes, with a total of 21 crashes resulting in death or serious injury. While the total number of reported incidents is down compared to last year — 85 so far in 2013, compared to 109 in 2012 — the number of aviation deaths has tripled, from 11 last year to 33.

Now aviation safety experts are turning to survivors like Tyler to stress the importance of training, in simulators or in the air. Training that can make the difference, and save lives, when pilots find themselves with nine seconds — or less — between life and death.

“Most of our fatalities from 2013 came from accidents where the eventual issue was that the pilot lost control,” said National Transportation Safety Board investigator Chris Shaver. “Nothing that we’re seeing is new.”

Shaver sees the deaths firsthand, including the July crash in Soldotna that killed 10 people: Pilot Willy Rediske and two families, the Antonakos and McManus families, both visiting Alaska on vacation from Greenville, S.C.

“Our team just finished another week in Soldotna, doing some follow-up work, surveying and going through some other things with the airplane,” Shaver said. “We took a lot of data at the airport, we’re trying to do some surveys to see if we can find out how high the airplane was, what the pitch attitude was, things of that sort.”

Shaver said NTSB investigators have closed the case on 30 of Alaska's 85 accidents this year; all 13 fatal crashes remain under investigation.

Shaver and other flight safety experts said more training is the only option to make 2014 a safer year. On Saturday, the Alaska Aviation Safety Foundation, along with other aviation organizations, were promoting options to train Alaska's seasonal pilots ready for the worst.

“You hope that people learn,” Tyler said after presenting the video of his harrowing landing to the assembled pilots, students and others at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Aviation Technology facility at Merill Field. “If somebody’s taking off of Merill Field and has an accident, you hope that they look at that and say, ‘I’m taking off from the same airfield, in the same airplane. What happened to them, and how can I avoid that?’” he added.

After one of the deadliest years in Alaska's aviation history, experts stress it's that kind of learning that can keep deaths from happening in years to come.

Story and Video:   http://www.ktva.com

Dick Rochfort, ATP, CFII: North Atlantic Crossing in a G1000 Piper Meridian

North Atlantic Crossing in a G1000 Piper Meridian: Leg 1 

Video by Dick Rochfort, ATP, CFII 
 Published on Nov 24, 2013 


North Atlantic Crossing: Come along with Master Instructor Dick Rochfort on this single engine crossing of the North Atlantic along what is known as "the middle route". The route is from Bangor, Maine to Goose Bay Labrador, Canada (leg #1);Goose Bay to Narsarsuaq Greenland (Leg #2); Nars to Reykjavik Iceland (Leg #3); Reyk to Wick, Scotland (Leg #4); and Wick to Augsburg Germany (Leg #5). 

The narration includes in-flight training demonstrations and briefings of the weather, logistics, fuel planning, airframe icing procedures, navigation and physiology in this series of challenging flights in a single engine turboprop aircraft; a Garmin G1000 equipped Piper PA46 Meridian. 

Dick Rochfort is a full-time pilot trainer specializing in the PA46 Matrix, Malibu, Mirage and Meridian aircraft. He provides pre-purchase valuation, training, corporate services and expert witness services worldwide. 

Dick's sponsors for this trip include Air Journey for flight planning and concierge services, GoPro - Hero 3 Black Edition camera equipment, Foreflight iPad aviation App, Jeppesen electronic charts and plates, Switlik Uzip cold water emersion equipment, Sea Survival Systems in Groton Ct - ditching and cold water survival training, McMurdo Personal Locator Beacon, Garmin G1000 Avionics training and support and Piper Aircraft. 

A special thanks to Guillaume Fabray at Air Journey and Andrew Bruce at Far North Aviation, Wick UK for excellent services provided. 

North Atlantic Crossing in a G1000 Piper Meridian: Leg 2  
 Video by Dick Rochfort, ATP, CFII 
Published on Nov 24, 2013 
North Atlantic Crossing in a G1000 Piper Meridian: Leg 3
  Video by Dick Rochfort, ATP, CFII 
Published on Nov 24, 2013 

North Atlantic Crossing in a G1000 Piper Meridian: Leg 4
   Video by Dick Rochfort, ATP, CFII 
Published on Nov 24, 2013 

North Atlantic Crossing in a G1000 Piper Meridian: Leg 5 of 5
    Video by Dick Rochfort, ATP, CFII 
Published on Nov 25, 2013