Saturday, January 4, 2014

Aviation expo seeks volunteers

Published: January 4, 2014

SEBRING -Preparations for the 10th annual U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, set from Jan. 16-19, are swinging into high gear, and the management team is looking for local volunteers to assist them before and during the event, held annually at the Sebring Regional Airport.

"We welcomed 17,500 people from throughout the world to our four-day event this past January," said Expo Director Jana Filip, "and there's a myriad of jobs that we need help with. Specifically, we have needs in the areas of admissions, aircraft parking, taxiway attendants, shuttle drivers, and information booth. "

Local volunteers are a "key" component of the expo's success, Filip added. "Volunteering at the expo is a great way to meet new friends and learn more about aviation."

All volunteers receive a complimentary four-day event and parking pass.

The Sebring expo is the largest event in the world dedicated to sport aviation, a news release adds.

For more information, go to

Volunteer registration forms are available on the website or at the Sebring Regional Airport. All participants must be registered by Monday, January 6.


U.S. Sport Aviation Expo Kicks Off January 16 At Sebring Regional Airport 

January 2, 2014, Sebring, FL— Attendees will have the opportunity to bask in the Florida sunshine and see first-hand more than 160 aviation exhibitors displaying everything from homebuilt and light sport aircraft to Gyrocopters and flying cars to aviation accessories—basically everything for the sport aviation enthusiast.

The 10th annual U.S. Sport Aviation Expo will also feature a number of aviation forums, to learn more about Rotax and other aviation engines, avionics, and more. Workshops and seminars will be offered by Stewart Aircraft Covering Systems, Barry Hull, retired US Navy Commander and F/A-18 Hornet Fighter Pilot, and many more

Food And Entertainment 

On-site food vendors will make it easy to “make a day of it” … or a long weekend enjoying their aviation passion. The Flying Musicians Association will be back this year to entertain all with daily performances.

Daily Manufacturer Showcases And Demonstration Flights
Daily manufacturer showcases will allow visitors to see a variety of homebuilt and light sport aircraft in flight and on the ground. Demonstration flights will be available to those wishing for a more personal experience.

Special Invitation To Amateur-Built Aircraft Owners

Expo organizers are extending a special invitation to owners of amateur-built aircraft or kit planes to fly their aircraft to Sebring during the four-day event. Those interested in displaying their aircraft are invited to call 863-655-6455 to reserve a parking space as well as under-the-wing camping, if desired.

Keynote Speakers

Daily speakers will offer visitors the opportunity to learn more about aviation past and present at 1:30 PM each day in the Show Center Tent. On Thursday, January 16, EAA Homebuilding Community Manager Charlie Becker will discuss how homebuilding saved general aviation. Friday, Craig Fuller, chairman of the board for Redbird Flight Simulations and former president of the Aircraft Owner’s and Pilot’s Association, will discuss the future of light sport aircraft. Saturday, Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. (retired) Leo Gray will share stories of his experiences before, during, and after World War II. Gray flew 15 combat missions during World War II flying a P-51 with the famed Red Tail Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group.

Tampa General Hospital To Special Display

The hospital will be exhibiting for the first time at Expo with their brand new Bell 407GX Air Vac Helicopter on Display. Hospital staff will be available to answer questions and show off the aircraft.

Rapid Systems Contributing State-Of-The-Art Wireless Services For All
Rapid Systems is providing a true broadband experience this year with the installation of the latest generation equipment and technology available in wireless networking to help support this event for both exhibitors and attendees.

“More than 16,000 visitors enjoyed the 2013 Expo and, we’re excited to open the Expo to homebuilt aircraft and welcome even more visitors to our event this year. We’re hoping for great weather and a wonderful time for people to share their love of aviation,” said Jana Filip, Expo Director.

To see more details about the schedule, exhibitors, speakers, and forums, visit


Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (KAVP), Pennsylvania

FAA commits to airport landing lights overhaul

PITTSTON TWP. - The landing lights at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport will return.

The Federal Aviation Administration has agreed to either fix or replace the plane-approach lighting system, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey announced Friday.

"The FAA plans to pursue a solution that will ensure safe and reliable flights in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area as well as safe working conditions for FAA personnel," FAA administrator Michael P. Huerta wrote in a letter to Casey.

Full restoration of the lighting remains at least a year away, Huerta wrote.

The system remains out of commission, shut down since February because of its shakiness and burned out bulbs, airport director Barry Centini said. Without the lights, pilots must start taking over landing of a plane at least a mile away rather than a quarter mile and much higher in the air to avoid aborting a landing, Centini said. Part of the system, a large steel framework with strobe-like lights that flash when a plane lands, is visible to Interstate 81 travelers.

Casey portrayed the commitment as essential to ensuring the airport's health, which is critical to boosting the region's economy.

"We don't want planes landing at that high of an altitude without this kind of guidance, without this kind of assistance, that we've come to rely upon ... for probably two or three generations," he said. "The second (reason) is basic as well. If we have certainty with regard to this system, we can make sure that we have the kind of economic growth that we need that only an airport can provide in a region."

Without the lights, planes are likelier to abort landings, airport officials said, although they could not cite specific instances of commercial flights doing that since the lights were shut down. It has occurred with smaller, private planes, an FAA official said.

"It's a very important component of the instrument landing process," said Mike Dennis, the FAA's air traffic manager at the airport. "A pilot depends on instruments for most of the descent, but then takes over visually when he gets within a certain amount of feet above the ground. There's what's called a decision height. If he doesn't visually take over and see the airport by that decision height, he's got to execute a missed approach and go somewhere else."

That's where the lights come in. They help pilots spot the airport.

Centini credited Casey for pushing the project onto the FAA's list of top 25 projects for construction.

"Without the support of the senator, ... we'd just be a number on the board in the pecking order," he said.

Centini estimated the project would cost $3 million to $4 million, all paid for by the FAA with no local money necessary. He said the FAA had considered not restoring the system at all.

"In their process, they looked at whether it would be needed, could they remove the system completely and they found that because of the size of this airport, the activity of this airport, that this is one of the navigational aids that is important to have at this facility," Centini said.

FAA officials are expected to begin meeting with Centini and other airport officials about the project this month, Casey said.

"They're looking at a replacement of the entire system or a partial replacement if they could salvage anything," Centini said.


Friday, January 3, 2014

New airline rules help pilots recharge

WICHITA, Kan. -  

New rules kick in Saturday that may affect your future flights.

The U.S. Transportation Secretary and Federal Aviation Administration announced the new rule in December of 2011, giving airlines two years to comply.

The rules deal with pilot scheduling, limiting hours in order to give them a better opportunity to rest.

Calvin Kissick is a retired airline pilot that flew for 45 years. He thinks the new laws were a long time coming.

"I'm sure many people have driven or done their jobs fatigued and you probably got by with it," said Kissick. "Pilots have too, but hopefully an accident isn't caused by that and it can happen."

That's what led to the rules in the first place. A crash back in 2009 where 49 people aboard Colgan Air flight 3407 died when the plane crashed into a home. One person inside that home was also killed. The NTSB later filed a report that said the pilots were enable to respond properly to a stall warning which led to the fatal crash.

The FAA said that's what launched "an aggressive effort to take advantage of the latest research on fatigue to create a new pilot flight, duty and rest proposal."

In it, a pilot must have a minimum of 10 hours to rest. That's a two hour increase over the old rules. In those 10 hours, the pilot must be able to get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

"For a long time once you parked the plane your "duty day" ended," said Kissick. "You had to be back at work 10 hours later. Within that 10 hours you had to leave the airport, go to the hotel, hope that transportation was there to take you there, check in, quickly get a ride back in the morning, hope traffic wasn't too bad, then go through security. That rule was modified for us to say you have to have 8 hours at the hotel, which was an improvement."

The rules also state that a pilot must "affirmatively state his or her fitness for duty." Something Kissick said was strongly encouraged when he was flying.

"If you felt you were fatigued and it happens occasionally, say you had a baby at home you were up with all night, you could simply say, 'I am too tired and I feel it unsafe for me to be flying this morning," he said. "I don't think any company is going to disagree with you. It can be disruptive, but safety is always first."

Another part of the new rule requires that pilots have at least 30 consecutive hours off work on a weekly basis, a 25% increase over the old rules. It also only allots pilots 8-9 hours of flying time, depending on the start time of the pilot's "flight duty period."

But the new increased safety comes at a cost.

"Crew members will welcome it," said Kissick. "But companies, it will affect the bottom line and consumers may see a slight increase in what they pay for fares."

Not to mention the possibility of flight delays.

"What it will ultimately mean, they're not going to get as many hours out of crew members, so they're going to have to have more crew members," he said. "Should bad weather pop up expectantly and the crew would normally just wait two hours for the weather to go by, they may not be able to do that with the new rules."
He said most the time airlines will be able to schedule around the new rules, but it will affect airlines the most during unexpected events like weather and mechanical problems.

Even so, many airline passengers say the added safety is worth it.

"I think it's a good thing," said Mike Robinson, a long time truck driver waiting for his flight out of the Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. "Having made a living driving a truck, we've had to deal with that and with the changed they've made it's become a lot safer. If you got a whole plane full of people behind you, you can't be too safe."

"I would definitely rather have a more rested pilot," said Allison Rudeen. "I can imagine people who travel for business and need to be at a certain place may be more frustrated by the delays. But you'll have a more rested pilot so you're probably safer."

For the complete FAA release on the new rules click here.


La Crosse Regional Airport (KLSE), Wisconsin

Airport fire delays Friday morning flights 

Two flights were delayed Friday morning at the La Crosse Regional Airport after a deicing truck caught fire while deicing a plane.

The airport, which has its own fire department, responded to the fire at 7:35 a.m. when the heating elements of American Airlines' deicing truck caused a fire in the engine, assistant airport manager Jason Gillett said. The fire was quickly extinguished, but the engine continued to smoke for several minutes.

The La Crosse Fire Department was also on scene. No one was injured in the fire.

“The heat and the wind really kept the smoke pouring out of it (the engine) for a while,” he said.

An American Airlines flight, that was scheduled to depart at 7:45 a.m. to Chicago, didn't take off until about 8:45 and a Delta flight, which was headed for Minneapolis at 7:15 didn't leave until about 8:40.

Gillett said the incident won’t affect upcoming flights, but the deicing truck will be temporarily out of commission. The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation.

“In the meantime, American Airlines is going to use Delta's deicing truck until they decide if they're going to fix or replace the one that's damaged,” he said. “This is the only truck they have.”


Out of Sara Gagnon’s experience of surviving a small-plane crash that killed the pilot, Harbinger Winery was born

By Andy Perdue 

Special to The Seattle Times

SARA GAGNON knew she was in trouble when the plane’s windshield hit her in the face.

It was August 2004, just before wine-grape harvest was to begin, and Gagnon was flying in a Cessna 182 from her hometown of Port Angeles to Boeing Field on a cloudy, rainy night. In the plane was co-worker Tammi Hinkle, and in the pilot seat was friend Barry Koehler.

They barely made it 10 miles out of town when they came through a cloud bank and everything went wrong.

“We clipped the top of a ridge and went down into the trees at about 150 miles an hour,” Gagnon remembers. “It was full speed. The plane disintegrated around us, and I was pretty sure that was it. I was unlucky enough to not lose consciousness, so I get to remember.”

Koehler died in the crash, and Gagnon and Hinkle, both badly injured, were left stuck all night in a remote area of Olympic National Park, wondering if they would be found, because Koehler hadn’t filed a flight plan.

“It was a pretty wild night. I was afraid to fall asleep because I didn't want to wake up dead.”

They were found the next morning and hiked out of the forest.

Gagnon, who had returned to Port Angeles from Seattle four years earlier to follow her passion for winemaking, was the head winemaker at Olympic Cellars in nearby Sequim. She was having a blast in the job and also had discovered a love for kayaking that moved her to become a professional guide.

As she recovered from a fractured sternum, cracked pelvis, broken nose and concussion, Gagnon came to a hard-earned conclusion: Life is too short to not follow your dreams.

“That really shifted my perspective and made me realize that I wanted to go do my own thing. So I finished up harvest at Olympic Cellars and moved on.”

Out of her near death was born Harbinger Winery.

In the decade since, Gagnon has built Harbinger into a 3,000-case winery. West of Port Angeles on Highway 101, it is the northwestern-most winery in the continental United States. She shares the winery building with Hinkle, with whom she co-owns Adventures Through Kayaking, putting both her passions under one roof.

As a result of the harrowing plane crash, Gagnon is stronger mentally and physically. Whether she’s in the cellar making wine or working the tasting room, she takes on life in a gentle, Zen-like manner, living for the moment rather than for the paycheck.

Andy Perdue is a wine author, journalist and international judge. Learn more about wine at



Harbinger 2009 Sangiovese, Rattlesnake Hills, $30: A big, rich red wine to pair with lasagna or grilled meats.

Harbinger 2009 El Jefe, Rattlesnake Hills, $27: This red blend of syrah, mourvedre and grenache is smooth, complex and elegant.

Harbinger NV Dynamo White, Washington, $15: This inexpensive and easy-drinking blend of chardonnay, pinot gris and riesling will go perfectly with a bowl of steamed mussels.

Learn more about the winery and its products at; 360-452-4262.

 A terrible plane crash gave Sara Gagnon new perspective on what was important to her.
Credit/Courtesy:   Andy Perdue

NTSB Identification: SEA04FA154.
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 03, 2004 in Port Angeles, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/24/2005
Aircraft: Cessna 182P, registration: N79404
Injuries: 1 Fatal,2 Minor.

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 passengers reported that shortly after takeoff in dark night conditions, the pilot made a turn toward rising terrain. During the climb, the aircraft entered clouds. The passenger could see terrain on both sides of the aircraft and questioned the pilot as to what mountain she was seeing. The pilot responded, "just a minute." The aircraft then suddenly broke out of the cloud and the passenger could see trees in front of the airplane. The pilot pulled up, but the aircraft collided with the tree tops and tumbled through the trees for several hundred feet before coming to rest. The passengers reported no engine or aircraft malfunction or physiological problems with the pilot at the time. Rain, clouds and fog were reported in the area at the time.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's VFR flight into IMC and his failure to maintain clearance from trees. Trees, mountainous terrain, dark night conditions, clouds and VFR flight into IMC were factors.

Woman cited for stun gun at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (KBWI)

 Police officials identified the woman as Felicia Klunk, formerly of McSherrystown and currently living in Los Angeles.

Sgt. Jonathan Green, public information officer for the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, said Klunk was cited on a Maryland weapons charge.

Green said Klunk was initially believed to be a current McSherrystown resident because she still has a Pennsylvania driver license.

Reported earlier:

A McSherrystown woman was cited by police after she was caught trying to bring a stun gun on an airplane at Baltimore-Washington International airport on New Year's Day.

A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport who was staffing the checkpoint X-ray machine spotted the pink stun gun in the woman's carry-on bag, a TSA news release said.

The stun gun was designed to look like a smartphone with a fake keypad and fake screen. The device had two buttons in the location where the call and on/off buttons are typically located on a smartphone-one was marked "LIGHT" and the other button was marked "STUN."

TSA contacted the Maryland Transportation Authority Police who responded, confiscated the stun gun, and cited the woman on a state weapons charge. After she was disarmed and cited, she was permitted to catch her flight to Los Angeles.

The woman was not identified in the news release.

The TSA reminds travelers that weapons - including stun guns - are not permitted on board aircraft. Passengers who bring weapons to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA.

 This stun gun, designed to look like a smartphone was caught by TSA officers at the security checkpoint at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport on Wednesday. 
(Submitted - The Evening Sun)

Grand Junction Regional (KGJT), Colorado: Airport Authority chair resigns

Denny Granum resigned as chairman of the  on Thursday.

Though the longest-serving commissioner on the current seven-member panel didn’t say exactly why he chose to leave the board two years before his term expires, Granum said in his resignation letter to the Mesa County Board of Commissioners that it was related to the federal investigation into possible fiscal mismanagement of the airport.

“To achieve our joint goals, it is important that all interested parties understand that whatever problems are at the root of the federal investigation, they are being addressed, and the appropriate changes are being made,” Granum wrote to Commissioner Steve Acquafresca, chairman of the county board that appointed him. “I am committed to supporting such necessary changes going forward—whatever they may be. But I also recognize that because of my long standing on the board, some in the public may doubt that I am capable of being impartial in these matters.

“My resignation from the board may help remove any such doubts and ensure that the internal investigation, and the changes which will flow from it, are viewed by one and all as wholly independent and not tethered to the past.”

Three of the Airport Authority board members are appointed by the county, and three by the city of Grand Junction, with the seventh member selected by the other six. The county has already posted the opening on its website seeking a replacement for Granum.

The board routinely picks new officers each January, but they surprisingly made no mention of Granum’s resignation when they did that Thursday evening. One other county-appointed board member, Steve Wood, was selected as the new chairman.

The resignation comes on the heels of the board’s recent firing of the airport’s director of aviation, Rex Tippetts. That occurred at its last meeting in December, a month after FBI and U.S. Department of Transportation agents executed a search warrant of airport financial records, saying only that it was investigating possible financial misconduct.

A federal judge immediately sealed that search warrant, leaving few with any knowledge of what the agents are specifically investigating.

Granum abstained from voting on Tippetts’ firing. Two weeks prior to that, when the board suspended Tippetts with pay, Granum announced that he would abstain on any future votes related to Tippetts.

The resignation also comes in the wake of a federal civil suit against Tippetts and the board by the airport’s former security coordinator, Donna VanLandingham, who alleges that Tippetts fired her in 2011 for threatening to speak out about alleged fraud, some of which may center around a controversial wildlife fence that Tippetts turned into a gated security fence.

Since the federal probe began, the board hired an expert attorney with experience in federal criminal matters and authorized an internal probe of its own.

On Thursday, airport board member Rick Wagner, the third county appointee to the panel, gave a report on the status of that internal probe, but gave few details on what it’s learned so far.

“The consensus from the (board) investigators and the special litigation committee is that we have a number of avenues to pursue based on the preliminary findings that we have,” Wagner said. “I feel satisfied, and I know it’s frustrating to talk in such general terms, that we ... have identified several areas that may have raised concerns to the federal authorities.”

The board went behind closed doors to get more information about that internal probe, emerging only to approve some recommended changes to how the airport operates, presumably to prevent future problems. Another change the board may look at would be to alter the airport’s financial director position, who reports directly to the aviation director, into a comptroller job that is more accountable to the board itself.

The board did approve hiring a forensic accountant to more closely examine the airport’s financial records, retain a special attorney who is conducting the investigation and revive its audit committee, which hasn’t met in some time.

Representatives of the Grand Junction Airport Users and Tenants Association called for more details of the internal investigation, saying it needs to issue a written report into what has been uncovered so far.

“A verbal summary, while helpful, does not satisfy the public right to see work product which they have paid for, and which we believe is subject to open records law,” said association board member Guy Parker.

Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese, who along with Commissioner John Justman attended Thursday’s meeting, declined to say much about Granum’s resignation other than to thank him for his service.

Pugliese said perhaps it would be a good thing to see all new faces on the board as a result of this turmoil.

“It may be good for the Authority to have a change in direction,” she said. “It seems like they’re making a lot of really positive changes. I think the structural reorganization is going to be really good for accountability.”

Granum, who operates a hangar at the airport, was first appointed to the board in 2006 to complete a term left vacant. He was reappointed in 2008 and again in 2012. His term was set to expire in 2016. Board members generally serve no more than two four-year terms. 


Denny Granum, Grand Junction Regional Airport Board

Lack of funds stall airstrip development: Ranchi, Jharkhand - India

RANCHI: There's still some time before the state-owned airstrips in Jharkhand can don a new and improved avatar.

"We have drawn the plans to develop six airstrips. The estimates are also ready, but bureaucratic problem is causing the delay," said civil aviation secretary Sajal Chakravarty.

Some of the 20-odd airstrips in the state are covered with thick bushes, so much so that they are hardly visible to the pilots. The ambitious proposal of revamping six of the 20 airstrips has been put on hold due to acute shortage of funds.

Jharkhand Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA), constituted to provide better structural and technical facilities for existing airports and air transport systems, is unable to dispense funds to the civil aviation department for the purpose.

"The cabinet has declared JCAA as an illegal body for it was created without any legal sanction. Now we have been asked to constitute a new society and transfer the funds from JCAA to the new society," said Chakravarty. JCAA has Rs 15 crore in its kitty, which the department needs to develop the airstrips. The Jharkhand civil aviation department has started the process of constituting a civil aviation society. This has temporarily stalled the efforts to revamp the airstrips.

"The airstrips are danfraught with risk. At several airstrips, pits have been formed in the runway, in some pebbles are jutting out. At almost all airstrips, runway markings have been washed away," said an official, adding that the airstrips are at times used for the landing of air taxis.

The government owns seven airstrips in Jharkhand. Only Deoghar airstrip is in a good condition because it was revamped recently. The repair work of Dhanbad, Dumka, Daltonganj, Giridih, Chaibasa and Hazaribag is yet to be taken up. "I expect the repair work to be completed within six months,'' said Chakrvarty.

Story and Comments/Reaction:

Sisters Eagle Air Airport (6K5) annexation moves ahead -- With Deschutes County support, city council could finalize deal this month

Sisters Airport has added a new helicopter landing pad, doubled its runway width and installed a 12,000-gallon fuel tank over the last two years.

Now, city leaders say they’re less than one month away from the next phase of the airport’s growth: annexing the 35-acre airport from Deschutes County-owned land to city of Sisters property.

Annexation would pave the way for further airport expansion, potentially bringing new businesses along with more hangars, a cafe and lounge, airport officials said.

Those are steps the airport can’t take while operating on Deschutes County land. The county zoned the airport property as a low-density, rural area. Bringing the land into Sisters’ urban growth boundary would let the city change the zoning to accommodate more airplane and helicopter traffic.

Sisters City Councilors discussed possible annexation with Deschutes County commissioners during a joint meeting Thursday.

A formal vote on annexation by the city council could come by the end of the month, City Manager Andrew Gorayeb said.

“The city has been working diligently on this,” Gorayeb said. “It’s a critical project.”

Annexing the airport means working with the airport’s owners, Bennie and Julie Benson, to decide what improvement projects the city will take the lead on and where the Bensons will use their own funds.

Those projects include paying for a new road leading to the airport and adding new parking spaces.

The plan hasn’t unfolded without some controversy, though. Gorayeb and Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger said they’ve received phone calls from some residents who live near the airport, voicing concerns over safety and noise from increased air traffic.

Gorayeb said any airport expansion isn’t likely to have a major impact. And Unger said Deschutes County is on board with annexation, seeing it as an economic driver for Sisters. Unger added that a meeting with residents near the airport could be possible to try to address concerns.

Annexation talks go back to mid-2012, about a year after the Bensons purchased the property, airport manager Hobbs Magarét said.

The Bensons, who operate the business Energyneering Solutions at the airport, outlined their proposal to annex and expand the airport over the summer of 2012. That November, Sisters voters approved the annexation proposal, giving the Bensons the go-ahead to submit an airport master plan.

Gorayeb said discussions have dragged on a bit as the city and the Bensons have hammered out contract details.

But he hopes a vote by the City Council this month would set the plan in stone.

Many of the planned improvements would be several years off. But those discussions have come as the airport has landed key state grants to grow as much as possible under its current zoning plan.

A $600,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation’s ConnectOregon program helped finance the runway expansion in 2012. Airport officials applied in November for more ConnectOregon funds, which would help pay for the new parking spaces and a longer airport taxiway.

The Bensons are preparing to expand Energyneering Solutions’ presence at the airport if annexation moves forward, Gorayeb said, which could bring more jobs to Sisters. Energyneering Solutions is a renewable energy construction and engineering company, which has operated in Sisters since 2007.

A larger airport with more space for businesses to grow has paid off for Bend, Deschutes County Administrator Tom Anderson said. Even with the loss of hundreds of Cessna jobs in 2009, Bend Airport still accounts for more than 850 direct and indirect jobs, according to a recent Oregon Department of Aviation report.

“The county certainly understands the economic benefit an airport can bring,” Anderson said.


Sisters Eagle Airport Manager Hobbs Margaret stands next to a recently-landed plane on the runway at the airport on Thursday afternoon in Sisters. The airport expansion plans include additions to existing buildings, new hangars and residences.

Friedman Memorial Airport (KSUN) proceeds with $34M construction project -- United provides new service from San Francisco

Following unofficial government approval of planned airport safety modifications in June, Friedman Memorial Airport was on its way to being allowed to continue operations at its existing site until a new airport is built. Also in 2013, efforts by the Airport Authority board, airport staff, Sun Valley Co. and the nonprofit Fly Sun Valley Alliance brought air additional service to the Wood River Valley.

“This is an exciting time for the community,” airport Manager Rick Baird said in early July. “Most of the controversy about what should be done with the airport has been vetted and resolved.”

 In response to several accidents related to inadequate runway safety areas, Congress in 2005 set a deadline of 2015 for compliance with federal standards for runway and taxiway sizes and spaces. However, Friedman Memorial Airport is within too confined a space to fully meet those standards.

“In the past, the FAA said they would not entertain any modifications to the standards,” Airport Authority Chair Ron Fairfax said. “That forced the issue about building a new airport.”

 But after a plan for a new airport was indefinitely suspended in August 2011, the FAA began to consider modified ways to bring the existing airport into compliance with safety standards for ground operations. The decision was to undertake a $34 million multi-phase project that will relocate the airport’s taxiway and hangars to create more separation between planes using the runway and those on the taxiway.

 FAA Airport Improvement Program grants are expected to pay for $28.1 million worth of the work and private parties for $3.6 million to build new hangars, leaving the airport to come up with $2.3 million, mostly from the $4.50 passenger facility charges it receives from each airline ticket.

The airport runway will be closed for 25 days next spring and again in spring 2015 to allow construction work to be carried out. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by July 2015.

East Coast service

 In September, Friedman Memorial Airport was awarded a $500,000 federal grant to fund a minimum revenue guarantee for expanded air service to the East Coast for one year.

 “This new service will have a huge and immediate impact on tourism and our local economy,” said Eric Seder, president of the nonprofit Fly Sun Valley Alliance board. 
 Fly Sun Valley Alliance Executive Director Carol Waller said the local partners will negotiate for the new service with United Airlines, which she said has “terrific connections” to East Coast airports and which submitted a letter of support with the grant application. She said those negotiations will include routes and a revenue guarantee cap.

Waller said the local entities are free to negotiate with another airline if United doesn’t work out.

Seder said the service could connect between Friedman and “potentially two new cities.” Candidates mentioned were Denver and Chicago.

 Waller said that if all goes as planned, the new service will begin in summer or winter 2014.

On Nov. 5, voters in Ketchum and Hailey approved a 1 percent addition to their local option taxes to fund revenue guarantees.  Sun Valley voters had passed the measure in 20012. The additional tax is expected to raise about $2 million annually.

 Delta jet service

Later in November, Delta Air Lines announced that it will introduce jet service on its Sun Valley to Salt Lake City route beginning Jan. 6.  The flights will be operated by Delta Connection carrier SkyWest Airlines using 65-seat, two-class Bombardier CRJ-700s. The planes will replace the 27-seat Embraer-120 Brasilia turboprop currently in use.

The change to a larger aircraft will add about 3,100 additional Delta seats into Friedman Memorial Airport in 2014, though with a reduction in the number of flights. The current schedule of six round-trip flights per day during the peak winter and summer seasons and three flights during off-peak times will be changed to three flights during peak seasons and two flights during off-peak times.

San Francisco service

On Dec. 12, a planned celebration greeted the first nonstop United Airlines flight from San Francisco. The new service was negotiated through minimum-revenue guarantees of an undisclosed amount provided by Sun Valley Resort and Fly Sun Valley Alliance.

 The United Express flights are operated by SkyWest Airlines using a 66-seat CRJ 700 jet. They will run daily through March 30 for the winter and from July 2 through Sept. 23 for the 2014 summer season.

“This inaugural flight is an exciting touchstone in history for the airport and our community,” Airport Authority Chair Ron Fairfax said.

Story and Comments/Reaction:

Federal Aviation Administration Must Respond to Santa Monica Airport Lawsuit Next Week, Court Says

January 3, 2014 -- The fight over the future of Santa Monica Airport continues after a federal judge told the Federal Aviation Administration to respond to the City’s lawsuit next week.

Judge John F. Walter denied the FAA’s request for an additional 44 days -- on top of the 60-day period that expired December 30 -- to respond to a lawsuit filed by City officials in November that claims Santa Monica has the right to close down at least part of the 227-acre parcel that has operated as an airport for nearly a century.

The ruling, issued last month, says that the FAA had “failed to demonstrate good cause for the requested extension,” especially given the “time-sensitive nature of this action.”

While the FAA did not get the 44 day extension it wanted, Santa Monica agreed that, because of the holiday season, the FAA could have until January 10 to respond to the claim.

Santa Monica’s claim, filed in federal court on November 1, asserts that when the City’s 1984 agreement with the FAA expires in 2015, Santa Monica is no longer obligated to operate the land as an airport. (City Hall Sues FAA Over Future of Santa Monica Airport,” November 1)

The FAA has argued that Santa Monica is required to operate the airport “in perpetuity.”

FAA officials told The Lookout Thursday that they had no comment about Walter’s ruling.

On January 10, City officials expect the battle to heat up.

“(W)e expect that the federal government will not file an ‘answer’ to the complaint,” City Attorney Marsha Moutrie told The Lookout Thursday.

“Instead, we think they will move to dismiss the complaint,” she said.

The FAA declined to comment directly on the Moutrie’s prediction. Instead, officials said simply that they “will respond to the complaint by the deadline” next Friday.

This lawsuit is only the most recent battle between the City and the FAA in an ongoing war over the future of airport which dates back to World War II when Santa Monica temporarily leased the airport to the federal government.

Shortly after the War, the federal government transferred the property back to the City. 

The FAA has argued that legal obligations imbedded in the transfers require Santa Monica to operate the parcel as an airport forever.

However, over the decades, local opposition to the airport has grown as resident groups coalesced around protesting what they say is a harmful and unsafe use of land.

City Hall has fought for various limits on operations at the airport and even unsuccessfully tried to ban jets from using the runway. (“City Prepares to Respond to FAA,” June 5, 2008)

Most recently, anti-airport advocates have rallied around the idea of turning the parcel into a public park if the City triumphs in its lawsuit. 

Grand Junction Regional Airport (KGJT), Colorado: Investigation Update

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Despite an ongoing FBI investigation, an internal investigation into airport operations and the resignation of board member Denny Granum, for the most part, the Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority's Thursday night meeting was business as usual.

The special litigation committee doing the internal investigation did however provide an update on its findings so far.

They say they want to proceed as quickly as possible and have several more avenues to pursue.

They also say their next step is to hire an outside group to conduct forensic accounting to ensure money is going where it's supposed to.

"I think we've determined initially that we have some confidence we know where everything is at and are a little relieved at that," says board member, Rick Wagner. "But I think incumbent upon us to be able to prove that, it's one thing to say it, it's another thing to prove it."

The committee also said several interviews had been done during the investigation... Those interviews along with other digging have produced evidence which they've given to the FBI.

If approved by the board the committee will continue its investigations. But first, officials say they must determine the cost of continuing, and how long it will take.

Letters: Milton’s had enough of jetliner noise - Massachusetts

Governor Deval Patrick is not doing Milton residents and people in surrounding communities any favors by expanding activities at Logan Airport (“Logan widens its reach and impact,” Dec. 27).

According to the noise abatement office of the Massachusetts Port Authority, more than 3,000 aircraft flew over Milton in July on their final approach to Logan’s runway 4-Right. What might we expect now — 4,000 jets descending over Milton’s airspace?

Massport, the Federal Aviation Administration, and Patrick should have consideration for those of us on the ground who must endure the ever expanding reach of Logan Airport. 

We in Milton are not demanding the closure of Logan Airport but believe that Logan’s expansion without consideration of those living in its surrounding communities is an example of a pursuit of financial greed for the few at the expense of the many. We in Milton have asked and continue to ask that the residents of this town receive only our fair share or airplane noise and pollution. 

Consideration must be given to expanding the use of Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, N.H., and T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, R.I., to lessen the negative impact of airplane noise and pollution in Logan’s surrounding communities.

Serious consideration should be given to building a second full-service commercial airport in the central part of the state. 

As a Milton homeowner, Patrick should know better than most that the current flight patterns have already had a negative impact on property values in the town, but that is far less important than the impact those flight paths have had on health, well being, and Milton residents’ right to the quiet enjoyment of their daily lives.

Paul Yovino

Our pilot did not lose control over his aircraft: SriLankan Airlines

SriLankan Airlines denies reports which said that the captain of the Airlines UL 503 flight which was heading to Heathrow  Airport from BIA at one point has lost control of the flight.

“SriLankan Airlines wishes to clarify that at no point did the captain of the flight lose control of the flight or it experienced a nosedive”, announced the Airline in a statement issued.

The airline however said that after observing a crack in the windshield the pilot adopted specified safety measures and returned back to Colombo to replace the windshield.

The incident occurred on New Year's Day.

Below is the full statement issued by the SriLankan Airlines.

With reference to a media report on a SriLankan flight allegedly making a nosedive, SriLankan Airlines wishes to clarify that at no point did the captain of the flight lose control of the flight or it experienced a nosedive.

On 1st of January at 1435hrs SriLankan flight UL 503 departed Colombo, for London Heathrow Airport. Approximately 45 minutes after the take-off, the cockpit crew observed a crack in the windshield.  The windshield of the aircraft has three layers of glass and it was the centre-layer which had developed the crack.

As per the manufacturers’ recommended procedure the pilots descended the aircraft to 10,000ft as a precautionary measure to minimize the differential pressure on the windshield. Therefore, in the interest of the passengers’ safety and the aircraft, the pilots decided to return to Colombo for the replacement of the windshield.

Accordingly, the flight UL 503 returned to Bandaranaike International Airport at 1630hrs without incident.  SriLankan wishes to emphasise that it is the standard procedure for any airline to descend to 10, 000 ft to prevent the differential pressure on the windshield and at no stage the aircraft or the passengers’ safety was compromised.

Currently the investigations are underway to identify the exact reasons in order to prevent incidents of similar nature. SriLankan wishes to reiterate that the Airline always maintains the highest safety standards the industry requires, and considers the well-being of the passengers its foremost priority which under no circumstance will be compromised.


World War II aircraft wreckage recovered in Manipur, North-East India

Residents living in an interior village of North-east Indian state of Manipur recovered wreckage of an almost century-old aircraft that was built during the Second World War.

Members of the youth club of Senjam Chiran village thought they hit a jackpot when ruins of the main engine of the WW II aircraft were found at Konu hill in Senapati district on 30 December.

The craft weighs nearly 300 kg, which was recovered with 14 pistols of the time amid the wreckage, officials told PTI on Friday.

They had been on their way to a temple of deity Konu Lairenbi when they discovered the remains of the WW II aircraft, which is believed to belong to the Allied Forces while they had engaged in a battle with the Japanese forces in Manipur. The remains were fully retrieved by the officials.

In January 2012, fragments of a US military aircraft, used during the same period, had been recovered in northern Tripura by a team of 34th Battalion of the Assam Rifles. After careful study of the remnants, it was discovered to be a C-47B, which had crashed during World War II.

"The majority of Allied crashes were caused by inhospitable weather, mechanical failure or navigational errors. The American Joint Prisoners of War and Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) had identified 16 known crash sites in northeast India where Allied forces aircraft had crashed during World War II," an official had said then.

Douglas C-47B used extensively by the Allies during World War II and remained in front line service with various military operators through the 1950s.

For sale on eBay, one Bristol Siddeley Olympus 320 jet engine as used on the TSR-2 aircraft

A Bristol-made jet engine has been put up for sale on auction website eBay with a £45,000 price tag. 

The Bristol Siddeley Olympus 320 jet engine was used on the TSR-2 aircraft, a Cold War plane which was considered state-of-the art but never went into action due to spiralling costs.

The engine was built at the Bristol Siddeley factory in Filton in the 1960s.

It is described on internet auction website eBay as a ‘stunning museum piece’. The seller, Jet Art Aviation Ltd, says it a "monumental piece of aviation heritage".

The firm suggests the engine – which was later developed and used in Concorde – would make a "serious addition to any major collection".

It says: "The engine is in its original transport stand. Overall a seriously impressive piece of engineering.

"The LP1 fan is mirror polished titanium. A stunning display engine ready to exhibit. The photos paint a thousand words."

The cost of postage alone for the engine is listed as £1,200.

The engine was part of Rolls-Royce forerunner Bristol Siddeley and the British Aircraft Corporation’s Tactical Strike and Reconnaissance Mach 2 Aircraft (TSR-2), a joint venture with the RAF.

The aircraft design and development was considered ahead of its time and the plane was seen as the country’s most advanced and capable military aircraft prior to the cancellation of the project in April 1965.

The newly-appointed government of the day deemed the project to be too expensive, with projected costs of almost £2 billion over 15 years, and cancelled it with immediate effect.

Only one prototype aircraft reached the test flight stage. Later it was ordered that all aircraft, engines, blueprints and tooling be destroyed to prevent state-of-the-art technology reaching enemy hands.

Two completed but untested aircraft survived and are now preserved, with one at the RAF museum at Cosford, Shropshire, and the other at the Duxford Imperial War Museum in Cambridgeshire.


March deadline for Flight 331 report

"We are being absolutely careful to present a credible report. Jamaica could lose its credibility if this is not done."

This was the assurance given to the Jamaican public by the then director general of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) Lt Col Oscar Derby, as the public anxiously awaited a report into what caused American Airlines Flight 331 to overshoot the runway at the Norman Manley International Airport on December 22, 2009, coming to a stop in three pieces on the Palisadoes shoreline.

Derby and the JCAA had promised at the time of the accident that a final report would have been completed by March 2010.

Yet, four years later, the public still has not been definitively told the reason for the accident.

Derby has since resigned, and in August last year, took office as director of the Curaçao Civil Aviation Authority.

The JCAA has now indicated that "the editing and formatting of the highly technical and lengthy final report is nearing completion and the document will be sent for final review by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) by the end of the second week in January, 2014".


The authority said it remained hopeful that a final report could be released within the coming year.

"Barring unforeseen challenges, it is anticipated that the final report will be released to all stakeholders and the public by the end of March, 2014," the JCAA said in a statement to The Gleaner.

In its statement, the JCAA stressed that the completion of the investigation was not only dependent on the work of its staff.

"It is important to note that the current investigation has been impacted by intense, but beneficial, involvement from a foreign jurisdiction and external agencies, each with varying protocols, processes and interests," the authority said.

"While Jamaica exercises responsibility for overseeing and leading the investigation, the aircraft was designed, built, operated and crewed by United States interests. This has necessitated continuous, but highly beneficial and useful collaboration, at all stages of the investigation process, with the NTSB, the independent US-accredited government agency responsible for civil transportation accident investigations."

In December 2011, the NTSB issued its "safety recommendations" with regards to the accident.

That report detailed that the air traffic controllers at the airport had advised the AA331 flight crew that it might be necessary for the aircraft to "circle to land on runway 30 due to an indicated (tail)wind from 320 degrees at 10 knots".

This advice was however not followed.

NTSB Identification: DCA10RA017
Accident occurred Tuesday, December 22, 2009 in Kingston, Jamaica
Aircraft: BOEING 737, registration: N977AN
Injuries: 15 Minor,139 Uninjured.

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

On December 22, 2009, about 2222 eastern standard time, a Boeing 737-823, N977AN, registered to Wells Fargo Bank Northwest N.A. Trustee, and operated by American Airlines as flight 331 a Title 14 CFR Part 121 international passenger flight from Miami, Florida, to Kingston, Jamaica, overran runway 12 while landing at the Norman Manley International Airport. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area, with reportedly heavy rain at the time, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. There were 154 persons onboard, including the pilot, co-pilot, four flight attendants and 148 passengers. Numerous injuries were reported. The flight originated at Miami International Airport, Miami, Florida, about 2022.

This accident investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Government of Jamaica. Any further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:

Jamaican Civil Aviation Authority
4 Winchester Road
Kingston 10
Jamaica W.I
Telephone: (876)960-3948
Facsimile: (876)960-1637

This report is for informational purposes only, and contains only information obtained for or released by the Government of Jamaica.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Kansas City-bound AirTran flight diverted to Oklahoma City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - More than 110 Kansas City-bound passengers on an AirTran flight made an unplanned visit to Oklahoma City Thursday night.

The passengers on AirTran Flight 442 from Houston to Kansas City took off from Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport just before 5 p.m. Thursday. During the flight, the pilot reported a minor mechanical issue and diverted the flight, which was over east-central Oklahoma at the time, to Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City.

A Southwest Airlines spokesperson said passengers were taken off the first aircraft and boarded a second aircraft that was available to take the passengers on to Kansas City, a flight that arrived at Kansas City International Airport just before 8:30 p.m.

The spokesperson said the original plane, a Boeing 717, was inspected at the airport and nothing was immediately found wrong with the plane.

Control that air rage: Airlines want clearer rules on rowdy passengers

  • Bad passenger behavior is on the increase, according to airlines
  • Aircraft captains and crew are reportedly worried they could be sued for assault if they take actions
  • IATA wants to clarify the rules on unruly passengers

(CNN) -- From a famous French actor accused of relieving himself in the gangway of a cabin to a unruly passenger that to be restrained on a flight from Iceland to New York last year, bad behavior on planes comes in a variety of forms.

Carriers have said they face daily issues like passengers watching pornography, throwing drinks at cabin crew or being verbally abusive.

But captains and crew are often worried they could be sued for assault if they take action in response.

That's why the International Air Transport Association (IATA) wants to clarify what measurements are allowed to be taken in situations that aren't a clear safety threat.

Airlines have reported over 15,000 incidents to IATA since it started collecting reports of bad passenger behavior in 2007.

"It's something we need to tackle as an industry and across the globe," said IATA spokesperson Chris Goater.

The association wants to address the issue at a diplomatic conference in Montreal in March, hoping for a global agreement on new guidelines.

Golden days of flying a thing of the past 

The current legislation is based on the 1963 Tokyo Convention, which governs criminal offenses that pose as serious safety threats, but "the reality of today's industry is very different to that when the Tokyo Convention was developed," states IATA.

Psychologist Robert Bor, who has specialized in passenger behavior and fear of flying, agrees that much has changed since the 1960s.

"In those days flying was dreamlike -- people would dress up to go traveling and the airline adverts reflected the actual experience," he said.

Bor thinks the increase in air rage can be explained by more efficient reporting on one hand, but also by looking at society in general.

"It's evident that people are under a lot of pressure with their time and money," he said. He thinks the proposed revision of the Tokyo Convention is a step in the right direction.

"It is very important that we learn more about air range and that there is common policy between different countries about how to address it."

Stealing wine and threatening crew

But what really causes passengers to behave so badly on flights?

Bor says there are many different factors coming together.

"If you look at air rage cases it's often a fairly ordinary person, and a trigger can be another person who might put their seat back, added with a bit of alcohol consumption and a fear of flying."

Another factor could be the cabin layout and the environment in the aircraft.

"We know by research that lack of space can cause stress or even anger and people can become territorial," said Bor.

"We might think of it as small trivial things, but actually we know that stress is cumulative."

What might be defined as rowdy passenger behavior can vary widely, and IATA has no grading system, says Goater.

Many cases involve alcohol consumption, like a man reportedly stealing wine from a trolley to lock himself in the toilet to drink it.

With a common policy Goater hopes passengers will then have a clear message of the consequences of acting up in the air.

"The small minority that commit unruly behavior and acts will begin to understand the serious consequences of their actions as police authorities and courts will have the necessary legal tools to deal with them in adequate manner," he said.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Aviation Unit Finds Stolen Construction Equipment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – High-tech tracking equipment led law enforcement agencies to some pricey stolen construction equipment.

Officials said the Tennessee Highway Patrol Aviation Unit and the Criminal Investigation Division were able to track down two stolen mini excavators on December 26.

One was found stolen from a job site in Rutherford County. The other was taken in Williamson County. Both machines were valued at about $100,000.

The first theft happened two days before Thanksgiving. Officials with the Murfreesboro Police Department said the owner of a 2007 Kubotoa Mini Excavator reported it missing.

The excavator had a theft recovery transponder. It was activated when police entered the machinery information into state and federal crime computers.

While helping with a search and rescue operation in Putnam County, THP's Aviation Unit came across a signal from the stolen excavator. The Criminal Investigation Division was able to later return to the location and found the machine at a homeowner's construction site.

During their investigation, officials found information that led to the second excavator. They said a 2010 Caterpillar Mini Excavator was stolen on December 5. It was recovered at a separate location.

Officials said the theft recovery system from LoJack was the only system operated by law enforcement. Two of the THP helicopters have the tracking equipment installed, and this was the first time equipment has been recovered by the unit.

Details about possible arrests were not available.


Mercy Air Med lawsuit on hold

MASON CITY | A federal lawsuit filed by the relatives of Shelly Lair-Langenbau, a flight nurse killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 2, 2013, is on hold until the official investigation is complete.
According to a status update filed on Dec. 13 in the Northern District of Iowa, the lawsuit cannot move forward until the National Transportation Safety Board releases the final factual report relating to the incident and releases the wreckage of the helicopter.

Both are expected to be released early this year, according to court documents.

Lair-Langenbau's husband, Jay Langenbau; two minor children; and her parents Gerald and Karen Lair, filed the lawsuit in Cerro Gordo County District Court in July 2013. It was moved to federal court the next month.

The defendant in the case is Med-Trans Corp., Lewisville, Texas, which operates the helicopter service under contract to Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa. The family is alleging negligence on the parts of Med-Trans Corp. and the pilot, Gene Grell, who was also killed in the crash, for taking off in icy conditions.

Lair-Langenbau, 44, of Hanlontown was the flight nurse on the Bell 407 helicopter, owned by Med-Trans and piloted by Grell, that took off in what the suit claims was icing conditions from Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa for Palo Alto County Hospital in Emmetsburg.

The helicopter crashed in a field shortly after takeoff, killing Lair- Langenbau, Grell, 53, of Texas, and paramedic Russell Piehl, 48, of Forest City.

The suit claims Med-Trans knew that Bell 407 helicopters were not safe to operate in certain weather conditions, including icing.

Also, the suit says Med-Trans is liable for the actions of Grell who, the suit claims, did not properly assess the weather before taking off, failed to abort the flight when he knew of the icing conditions, improperly flew the helicopter and failed to maintain control over it, and failed to obtain proper weather data prior to the flight.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages for the alleged wrongful death of Lair-Langenbau, punitive damages sufficient to punish and deter Med-Trans from further wrongdoing, court costs of the plaintiffs, and any further relief the court deems appropriate. 


NTSB Identification: CEN13FA122 
14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 02, 2013 in Clear Lake, IA
Aircraft: Bell Helicopter 407, registration: N445MT
Injuries: 3 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 January 2, 2013, about 2057 central standard time, a Bell Helicopter model 407, N445MT, impacted terrain near Clear Lake, Iowa. The pilot and two medical crew members sustained fatal injuries. The helicopter was destroyed. The helicopter was registered to Suntrust Equipment Leasing & Finance Corporation and operated by Med-Trans Corporation under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as a positioning flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was operated on a company flight plan. A flight plan was not filed with the Federal Aviation Administration. The flight originated from the Mercy Medical Center, Mason City, Iowa, about 2049, with an intended destination of the Palo Alto County Hospital, (IA76), Emmetsburg, Iowa.

A witness located about 1 mile south of the accident site, reported observing the helicopter as it approached from the east. He noted that it appeared to slow and then turn to the north. When he looked again, the helicopter appeared to descend straight down. He subsequently went back into his house and called 911. He described the weather conditions as “misty,” with a light wind.

A second witness reported that he was working in his garage when he heard the helicopter. He stated that the sound of the helicopter changed as if it was turning, followed by what he described as a “thump” and then everything was quiet. He subsequently responded to the accident with the Ventura Fire Department. He reported that there was a coating of ice on his truck windshield that the wipers would not clear. He decided to drive another car to the fire station because it had been parked in the garage. While responding to the accident site with the fire department, as the fire truck he was on was waiting to cross Highway 18, they observed a Clear Lake police car, also responding to the accident, slide through the intersection. They informed dispatch to advise following units to expect slick road conditions. He noted that there was a haze in the air, which was evident when looking toward a street light; however, he did not recall any precipitation at the time.

A pilot located at the Mason City airport reported that he saw the helicopter fly overhead and estimated its altitude as 300 feet above ground level (agl). He was leaving the airport at that time and noted there was a glaze of ice on his car. He added that the roads were icy as he drove out of the airport and onto Highway 18. He commented that he had flown into Mason City about 1830 and encountered some light rime ice at that time.

Satellite tracking data depicted the helicopter becoming airborne at the medical center about 2049. According to the data, between 2050 and 2055, the helicopter proceeded westbound along Highway 18 about 1,800 feet mean sea level (msl). The final tracking data point was recorded about 2056 and was located approximately 1 mile north of Highway 18, along Balsam Avenue. The altitude associated with that data point was 2,648 feet msl. The accident site was located about one-quarter mile west of the final data point.

The helicopter impacted a harvested agricultural field. The debris path was about 100 feet long and oriented toward the west-southwest. The helicopter was fragmented, and the cockpit and cabin areas were compromised. The main wreckage consisted of the main rotor blades, transmission, engine, portions of the fuselage, and the tail boom. The tail rotor had separated from the tail boom and was located about 80 feet east-northeast of the main wreckage. The landing skids had separated from the fuselage. The left skid was located at the initial impact point; the right skid was located about 35 feet west of the main wreckage.

The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with helicopter and single-engine airplane ratings. His airplane rating was limited to private pilot privileges. He was issued a second class airman medical certificate on April 17, 2012, with a limitation for corrective lenses. His most recent regulatory checkride was completed on September 29, 2012, about the time of his initial employment with the operator. At that time, he reported having accumulated a total flight time of 2,808 hours, with 2,720 hours in helicopters.

Weather conditions recorded at the Mason City Municipal Airport, located about 7 miles east of the accident site, at 2053, were: wind from 300 degrees at 8 knots; 8 miles visibility; broken clouds at 1,700 feet agl, overcast clouds at 3,300 feet agl, temperature -3 degrees Celsius, dew point -5 degrees Celsius, altimeter 30.05 inches of mercury. At 2117, the recorded conditions included broken clouds at 1,300 feet agl and overcast clouds at 1,800 feet agl.

Wrongful-death suit against Soffer quickly dropped

A lawsuit accusing Jeffrey Soffer of causing a fatal helicopter crash was abruptly withdrawn this week, 22 days after its filing made national news thanks to the wealthy developer’s status as Elle Macpherson’s husband.

No explanation was given for dropping the wrongful-death suit, which was withdrawn Tuesday, and plaintiff lawyers could not be reached for interviews.

Soffer’s team said it had not reached a deal with plaintiff Daria Gogoleva, whose husband, Lance Valdez died in a 2012 helicopter crash in the Bahamas that also injured Soffer. Gogoleva’s suit accused Soffer, an amateur pilot, of improperly taking the controls of the chopper, then launching an extensive effort to blame the crash on the professional pilot who Valdez had hired to fly it.

Valdez, a wealthy tax attorney, arranged the helicopter ride as a way to get Soffer and two traveling companions onto an exclusive island resort during a visit. Valdez and Soffer were longtime friends.

Soffer’s lawyers called the federal suit a fabrication when it was filed Dec. 9, with Good Morning America and the celebrity press covering the accusations. Gogoleva’s lawyers gave interviews, including an on-camera statement for the GMA segment headlined: “Supermodel Spouse Conspiracy?”

“We were not surprised by the decision to withdraw this lawsuit, which was riddled with factual errors and unfounded accusations,” Soffer lawyer Bob Martinez said in a statement issued Thursday. “The case collapsed ... before we even had a chance to respond, confirming that it was a frivolous lawsuit.”

In a press release, Soffer’s lawyers noted the suit mentioned Machpherson as “part of an effort to grab headlines.” In one of the interviews he granted after filing suit, Gogoleva lawyer Jeffrey Rosenberg said his client became suspicious of Soffer’s intentions toward her when she was not invited to the Soffer-Macpherson wedding in August 2013.

In the suit, Gogoleva’s lawyers included an account from the helicopter’s pilot, David Pearce, that Soffer asked to take the controls of the chopper while it was in the air over the exclusive Bakers Bay golf resort in the Abacos on Thanksgiving Day in 2012.

A crash followed, killing Valdez. The suit claimed Pearce, who told authorities he was in control of the helicopter, had changed his story and now said Soffer was flying. Soffer’s pilot license would not allow him to fly a helicopter, so the suit could have exposed Soffer to millions of dollars in liability for Valdez’s death.

Pearce, a professional pilot in the Bahamas, declined to comment when reached by phone on Thursday. He referred questions to Rosenberg, Gogoleva’s lawyer.

Also injured in the crash were Daniel Riordan, an executive at the Soffer family’s real estate firm, Turnberry, and Riordan’s wife, Paula. In the months after the crash, Soffer and the Riordans signed over their insurance claims to Gogoleva, resulting in a $2 million payout for the mother of three, according to the suit.

Story and Comments/Reaction:

NTSB Identification: ERA13WA066

Accident occurred Thursday, November 22, 2012 in Great Guana Cay, Bahamas
Aircraft: AEROSPATIALE AS-355F1, registration:
Injuries: 1 Fatal,4 Serious.

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

On November 22, 2012, about 1310 eastern standard time, an Aerospatiale AS 355F1, Bahamian registration C6-APV, registered to Pioneer Caribbean Logistics Ltd., impacted terrain while attempting to land at Baker's Bay Resort, Great Guana Cay, Bahamas. The pilot and three passengers were seriously injured, while a fourth passenger was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that departed Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, destined for Baker's Bay Resort.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Government of the Bahamas. Any further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:

Manager of Flight Standards Inspectorate, Bahamas
P.O. Box AP 59244
Nassau, N.P. Bahamas
Phone: (242) 377-3445/3448
Facsimile: (242) 377-6060

This report is for information purposes only, and contains only information released by or obtained for the Bahamian Government.

Lawrence County Airpark (KHTW), Chesapeake, Ohio

Looking to Federal Aviation Administration to pay for land at airport

CHESAPEAKE — Paying for acreage the county has acquired through an eminent domain lawsuit could come from federal dollars. It is now in the hands of the Federal Aviation Administration how much, if any at all, it plans to pay.

At the end of October, the county reached an agreement with the Wilson family to buy acreage the family owned at the Lawrence County Airport. The county wanted the land to allow expansion of runways and cut down trees that were causing safety concerns.

On Monday Lawrence County Commissioners Les Boggs and Freddie Hayes met with Bill Nenni, chair of the county airport advisory board, the county’s attorney in the eminent domain suit, Richard Meyers, and Patrick Leighty of E.L. Robinson.

“It was simply to determine which hoops we have to jump through for the FAA,” Boggs said. “They said you jump through these hoops and then we will make a determination.”

The FAA can either pay all of the amount agreed upon by the county and the Wilsons or a partial amount, Boggs said.

“We have reached a tentative agreement,” Boggs said. “What we are determining is how the tentative agreement is paid for. There are two different pieces of property that would make it possible to extend the runway and clear some trees.”

Originally the county had sought 47 acres of land at the airport, but the agreement has reduced that to a piece of property on the western end of the runway and an easement on the eastern end to allow the county to cut down those trees.

At the time the lawsuit was filed in 2012, the county had put a valuation on the 47 acres at $280,000 while the Wilsons said the land was worth $1.8 million.

However, the current cost of the land to be purchased has not been publicly released.

Now Nenni is organizing documents to send to the FAA including the settlement agreement and legal description of the property.

“I have sent some preliminary things to the FAA as a kind of draft of what we are going to send,” Nenni said. “I don’t anticipate any big holdups. I think all the stuff the FAA wants we already have. This has needed to happen for probably 20 years. We have tried other means to get the trees cut. The trees are hazardous for aviation. We have been working on it for quite some time.”

Boggs estimates the county should hear from the FAA within 60 days.

“We have strong feelings that the FAA will help purchase pieces of those properties, if not cover the entire amount,” he said. “At this time we do not anticipate any local tax dollars being used.”

5,000 creditors: Evergreen International Airlines files voluntary Chapter 7 petition on New Year's Eve

McMinnville-based Evergreen International Airlines took a large step toward dissolving itself Tuesday by filing a Chapter 7 petition in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware. The filing followed by about two weeks an involuntary petition by a group of creditors.

The filing estimated the total assets of the Evergreen companies at up to $100 million and total debts up to $500 million. Evergreen said it has up to 5,000 creditors. The filing includes a 108-page list of creditors.

A former Evergreen employee relayed a Dec. 31 email from Evergreen's director of human relations that noted that a trustee will handle all human relations and public relations functions. The director, Monique Gregory, did not identify a trustee and the bankruptcy file lists no information beyond the company's voluntary petition. 

Gregory's email read:

To: all employees

Unfortunately, there is NO Cobra options available.  Please visit or the website that is specific to your state health insurance.  This will give you options for health coverage.

The 401k is managed by Heintzberger / Payne and you may reach them at 1-888-937-4015.

As of today, the HR and PR department will be handled by the trustee.

Monique Gregory

Evergreen officials and lawyers did not respond to phone and email queries on the holiday. Evergreen's website still contains a Nov. 8 note from founder Delford Smith that insisted the company would continue to serve its customers. He said much the same in an interview with The Oregonian less than two weeks ago.

The bankruptcy filing lists seven entities as submitting the Chapter 7 petition: Evergreen Aviation Ground Logistics Enterprise; Evergreen Defense and Security Services; Evergreen International Airlines; Evergreen International Aviation; Evergreen Systems Logistics; Evergreen Trade; and Supertanker Services.

The filing appears to mark the end for a proud company with a history of providing cargo and passenger services to the U.S. government and other customers. Smith founded the company as Evergreen Helicopters in 1960. Last year, Evergreen sold the helicopter company to Portland's Erickson Air-Crane for $250 million in cash and notes. Smith said later that money would be used to pay down debt.

Still unsettled is the fate of Evergreen's non-profit affiliates, the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum and the Wings and Waves Waterpark. The buildings are landmarks along Oregon Highway 18 on the eastern edge of McMinnville. The state Department of Justice has been investigating whether Evergreen's for-profit operations improperly commingled funds with the non-profits.

Story and Comments/Reaction: 

The final chapter in the Evergreen International Airlines story 

 The Oregonian has written extensively on Evergreen and its founder, Delford Smith. 

Last month, Richard Read cataloged Evergreen's aircraft, which range from Boeing 747s to a Learjet.
Read and our colleague Mark Graves compiled an interactive timeline tracing significant events in Evergreen history, along with an infographic that lays out the relationships of the various companies founded or controlled by Smith. By clicking on the various links, you can see accounts of such episodes as Evergreen's denial that it worked for the Central Intelligence Agency and the arrival of the Spruce Goose at the Evegreen Aviation and Space Museum.

We have written about the Oregon Attorney General's interest in whether Evergreen improperly shifted assets between its for-profit operations and the non-profit Evergreen museum and water park. And Read wrote last month about creditors' interest in the non-profit assets. 

In June 2001, we published this capsule bio for Del Smith:

Born: Feb. 25, 1930, Seattle

Education: B.S., University of Washington, 1953.

Founder: Evergreen International Aviation Inc., McMinnville.

Quotes: "My mother always taught me that the harder you worked, the luckier you got." "We're not trying to get any applause. We're just trying to help those who need it." "I'm a big believer in performance measuring. If you can't measure it, you aren't managing it properly." "Appearance is important. A lot of customers buy the shine."

Personal heroes: Mikhail Gorbachev; Mahatma Gandhi; Margaret Thatcher; the Dalai Lama.

Builder: Captain Michael King Smith Evergreen Aviation Educational Institute, new home of Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose airplane.

Some charitable causes: Oregon Public Broadcasting, Oregon Symphony, Portland Boys and Girls Clubs, Portland Art Museum, Oregon Garden, Linfield College, World Affairs Council.

On Thursday, the bankruptcy court in Delaware assigned a judge and set the first meeting of Evergreen's creditors for Jan. 31. The trustee assigned to the case is Alfred Thomas Giuliano of West Berlin, N.J.

-- Mike Francis