Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saratoga County Airport (5B2) neighbors anxious about possible runway extension

MILTON >> When Joe and Patricia Wagner built their 474 Rowland St. home, Saratoga County Airport was mostly for small Piper Cubs and weekend traffic.

Almost 40 years, two runway extensions and a massive clear-cut tree removal project later, the town couple sees Learjets fly overhead all the time, especially during the summer racing season.

The increased traffic and noise aren’t major problems, they said. But now a draft airport master plan update recommends the possibility of another 301-foot or 701-foot runway extension.

“This house will be gone probably,” Joe Wagner said. “Do I think it’s going to happen? Sure. It might not be right away with all the furor. But if the money people want it, it’s going to happen. I’ve seen it too many times.”

More than 225 people turned out for a recent public hearing on the issue, and a another large crowd is expected at a county supervisors Building and Grounds Committee meeting at 3 p.m. on June 9. The committee deals with airport issues.

The Wagners recently put a $20,000 addition on their home and did extensive interior remodeling.

“It’s very upsetting,” Patricia Wagner said.

The county is paying the firm Johnson-McFarland Inc. $375,000 for a 10-year airport master plan update that’s scheduled for completion in October. A draft of the report says the existing 4,699-foot runway isn’t long enough to meet future needs.

Failure to lengthen the runway “could result in lost revenue as aircraft would continue to experience weight restrictions and could not operate at the airport during poor weather conditions,” the draft says. “These aircraft could be forced to carry less passengers and/or fuel, or utilize other airports in the region.”

Much of the airport’s business occurs during the six-week Saratoga Race Course season.

The airport is managed by North American Flight Services, which leases the facility from Saratoga County. North American co-owner Frank Zilka has said the proposed runway extension is strictly a safety issue, not one designed to increase traffic or bring in larger planes.

“Bull,” Joe Wagner said. “It’s bull because the first extension was supposed to be for safety. Then all the tree clearing was supposed to be safety. Why do they need more if it’s the same planes coming in?”

Previously, the property between the Wagners’ backyard and the runway was heavily wooded.

“It was so private,” Patricia Wagner said. “You couldn’t even see the runway.”

However, the land is part of a runway protection zone that was cleared of trees several years ago for aircraft safety. A berm that was supposed to be constructed was never built, and dozens of small cedars planted in place of hardwoods don’t provide the buffering they’re supposed to, Joe Wagner said.

“It’s laughable,” he said. “The first group died. They had to replant them. There’s no protection from the wind now. It’s damaging the siding on my house.”

The full county Board of Supervisors’ approval is required before a runway extension may occur. A 701-foot extension would have the most impact, requiring the acquisition of nearly two dozen parcels and the relocation of Rowland Street. That project would cost an estimated $6 million.

The non-extension option would still cost $560,000 because of land and property easement acquisitions.

A 301-foot extension would cost nearly $2 million.

“They just keep wanting more and more,” Patricia Wagner said. 

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Deke Slayton Airfest 'one to look forward to': La Crosse Municipal Airport (KLSE), Wisconsin



The beautiful weather brought thousands of people to the first day of the Deke Slayton Airfest Saturday.

Organizers are thanking the beautiful weather because they believe Saturday is the biggest crowd ever at Airfest.

There are a lot of things that set the Deke Slayton Airfest apart from others like it.

Traveling to more than 20 events each year, Phil Dacy has announced plenty of airshows.

"I've been doing air shows now as an air show announcer for about 25 years," Dacy said.

He said the Deke Slayton Airfest ranks toward the top of his list.

"It's one of the best. La Crosse has always been one that we look forward to this airport site," Dacy said.

"You look around here and you see the bluffs, the hills, the tree-covered hills, that type of thing. The pilots absolutely love it, it's so spectacular for the viewing area. To watch here at Airshow Center there is no obstructions, it's just a great place for an air show," he said.

Davy has been the announcer at Airfest since 1999 and said Saturday was a perfect day for an airshow.

"I've got a tremendous view up on the top there," he said. "After the long winter it's great to have a beautiful day like this with the Blue Angels here in town, all of our great civilians, we're going to see some war birds here, we have a chance to honor some of our veterans."

"I've been involved with each and every Airfest since we started them and I can tell you this is the best one day ever that we've ever had," Pat Stephens, media director for Deke Slayton Airfest, said.

Being here since the beginning, Stephens has learned how valuable a beautiful day can be for Airfest.

"It brings a lot of extra coin into the area as well. I think our lodging, most of our places are filled tonight, it's good for the restaurants, it's good for the gas stations, it's good for the Valley View Mall and so on. Downtown merchants love it, it's a win-win for everybody. More important than that it's such a great community event," Stephens said.

After announcing hundreds of airshows Dacy has seen his share of great performers in the air. But his favorite part sits below.

"The best part of the day for me as announcer is just having fun with all the great air show fans here. Hearing the crowds cheer for the different pilots, the different performers, seeing things they don't get a chance to see everyday," Dacy said.

Organizers said the Coulee Region is very fortunate to have a regional airport here in La Crosse. They said the planes, like the Blue Angels, require a lot of space to perform their stunts.

The Deke Slayton Airfest is going strong all weekend. Gates reopen Sunday at 9 a.m. and performances start up at noon.



Bees on a plane delay Wichita-bound flight


A United flight from Houston to Wichita was delayed because of a swarm of bees.

The massive swarm of bees landed on the nose of United flight 4455 in Houston. The honey bees forced the airline to switch out planes, causing about two-hour delay. Chase Goff, passenger, told Eyewitness News about 30 people boarded the plane, when they were forced to deplane because of the buzz.

Passengers told Eyewitness News they've never experienced something like this in their years of flying.

"I thought she was lying," Goff said. "Flying well over thirty times a year, and I've never seen or heard anything like that before."

Several passengers tweeted the ordeal, using #beesonaplane.

The new plane landed in Wichita just after 4 p.m. Saturday, without incident. 

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Low-level eruption at Alaska's Pavlof Volanco; pilot sees plume

May 31, 2014 - 4:40 pm EDT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Authorities at the Alaska Volcano Observatory say elevated surface temperatures suggest the Pavlof Volcano is having a low-level eruption with lava at the surface.

They said Saturday that satellite imagery shows a steam plume and a pilot reported a gas and ash plume drifting north about 8,000 feet above sea level.

The 8,262-foot volcano is one of the state's most active volcanoes. It is located about 625 miles southwest of Anchorage.

An eruption last year prompted regional airlines to cancel flights to nearby communities.

South River-Sundridge District Airport, Ontario, Canada

Plane crashes in Sundridge: Police report minor injuries as result of crash 

The plane crash occurred around 11 a.m. today when a pilot, who was taking a two-seater, fixed-wing airplane out for practice, crashed at the Sundridge-South River airport. 
Airport operator/manager Gary Thornborrow was luckily out on one of the airways when the plane came down. He could tell by the way it was coming in that something wasn’t right. 

He lost sight of the aircraft for a moment, but when  he came around the corner he saw the entire plane on the ground, flipped upside-down. 

“I raced to [the pilot] and he was kind of piled into the windshield, legs on the dash and he couldn’t get out,” said Thornborrow. 

Airplane gas was spewing everywhere, which worried Thornborrow as that type of fuel is very volatile. He dragged the pilot out of the plane just in case it blew up. 

Thornborrow went to get help from other pilots, who were in their hangars. They brought a truck down, picked up the pilot, and brought him to safety. Thornborrow then called 911 and other emergency officials. 
The crash site was cleaned up by late afternoon, but Thornborrow says the aircraft was destroyed. 

The pilot got to the airport around 9 a.m. to practice his “touch-and-go” — an exercise where pilots touchdown with wheels then lift off again. 

The pilot was on his third one when he clipped some trees. 

An ambulance took the pilot to a North Bay hospital with minor injuries, including a cut on the top of his head, several bruises on the front of his forehead, and a hurt shoulder from bracing himself for the flip. 
The crash is the second plane accident in the region in the last week. 
Seven days earlier, on Saturday, May 24, the lone pilot of a float plane, 76-year-old Frederick Near, of Acton, drowned when his plane flipped on Taylor Lake, near Dunchurch, at around 8 a.m.

Transport Canada Safety Board officials continue to investigate the cause of that crash. 

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Quad City Challenger II, N2481P: Fatal accident occurred August 30, 2012 in Ocala, Florida

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Final Report:

Docket And Docket Items -  National Transportation Safety Board:

National Transportation Safety Board  -  Aviation Accident Data Summary:

NTSB Identification: ERA12LA537
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, August 30, 2012 in Ocala, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/11/2014
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

After takeoff, the pilot remained in the traffic pattern, performed a low pass, and then departed to the southeast. When the airplane was about 4 miles away from the departure airport with no adverse weather nearby, the airframe was overstressed, which resulted in the in-flight separation of the outer 3 feet of the right wing and a portion of the right flaperon. The airplane then descended uncontrolled and impacted terrain. No preexisting cracks were noted in the fracture surfaces of the forward and aft spars of the right wing. Inspection of the engine and flight controls revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's inadvertent overstress of the airplane, which resulted in the in-flight separation of the outer section of the right wing.


On August 30, 2012, about 1612 eastern daylight time, a Quad City Ultralights Challenger II, N2481P, registered to and operated by a private individual, crashed in a field surrounded by trees near Ocala, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight from Morriston, Florida, to Leeward Air Ranch Airport (FD04), Ocala/Belleview, Florida. The airplane sustained substantial damage, and the private pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. The flight originated from Morriston, Florida, about 7 minutes earlier.

The purpose of the flight was to reposition the airplane to a nearby airport for an intended annual inspection.

The son of both occupants reported to either the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector-in-charge or the NTSB investigator-in-charge that he and his father, who is not a certificated pilot, inspected the airplane before he (the son) started the engine. The son stated that he asked his father how much fuel was on-board and he replied 13 gallons; the son later reported that was more than adequate to complete the intended flight. With his father seated in the front seat, the son started the engine and reported the engine started, "right up." After the engine was started a fuel leak at the carburetor was noted, smoke was noted coming from the engine, and it did not develop static maximum red line rpm. This was attributed to the choke that was left on. His mother then boarded the airplane, and it was taxied to the runway where an engine run-up lasting 5 minutes was performed. The son reported the engine sounded OK, and no discrepancies were reported. After takeoff the son reported that his mother performed a low pass then the flight departed to the southeast.

The son also reported that personnel from the airport where his parents had intended flying arrived at the departure airstrip and inquired about his parents. Law enforcement was then notified of the overdue airplane and a search was initiated.

There were no known witnesses to the accident, which occurred during daylight hours. The wreckage was located about 2000 hours the same day.


The pilot, age 50, seated in the rear seat, was the holder of a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land rating issued on April 23, 2012. On the application for the private pilot certificate she listed a total time of 47.3 hours. She held a third class medical certificate with a restriction to have available glasses for near vision issued October 25, 2011.

The front seat occupant was not a FAA certificated pilot.

The son of both occupants was asked if his parents performed aerobatic maneuvers and he reported they never did. He reported they fly straight and level from point A to B.


The airplane was built from a kit manufactured by Quad City Ultralight Aircraft Corporation. On January 13, 1992, the kit was sold to a company in Florida, and was built as model Challenger II, and was designated serial number CH20192-0779B. It was powered by a 52 horsepower Rotax 503 dual carburetor dual ignition engine and equipped with a wooden fixed pitch propeller. An operating Light Sport Aircraft Special Airworthiness Certificate was issued on January 7, 2008. On the application for U.S. Airworthiness Certificate, the airframe total time was listed at 300 hours.

According to FAA records, the pilot and front seat occupant purchased the airplane on August 21, 2011.

The FAA-IIC reported that the maintenance records were not located; however, the son of both occupants reported the airplane was always kept in great shape.


A surface observation weather report taken at Ocala International Airport-Jim Taylor Field (OCF), Ocala, Florida, at 1550, or approximately 22 minutes before the accident indicates the wind was from 180 degrees at 3 knots. The visibility was 10 statute miles, and scattered clouds existed at 4,000 and 5,500 feet. The temperature and dew point were 32 and 23 degrees Celsius, respectively, and the altimeter setting was 30.04 inches of mercury. The accident site was located approximately 4 nautical miles and 301 degrees from OCF.


The accident site consisted of an open field surrounded by trees. The main wreckage was located at 29 degrees 12 minutes 26.02 seconds North latitude and 082 degrees 17 minutes 24.47 seconds West longitude, while the outer section of the right wing was located at 29 degrees 12 minutes 24.46 seconds North latitude and 082 degrees 17 minutes 28.46 seconds West longitude, or about about 390 feet and 245 degrees from the main wreckage location.

The main wreckage came to rest nearly inverted in a field with the outer 3 foot section of the right wing and outer portion of the right flaperon separated. Also located away from the main wreckage along an energy path were a wing inspection panel, a hat, splintered pieces of the propeller, 2 pieces of ribs from the inboard section of the right wing, and Dacron fabric covering. There was no evidence of tree contact on the leading edge of the right wing, nor on any of the observed components. The horizontal and vertical stabilizers remained attached, and all remaining flight control surfaces remained attached. Extensive impact damage was noted to the left wing, fuselage, and cockpit. The wreckage was recovered for further examination.

Examination of the elevator, rudder, and flaperon flight control system revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction.

Examination of the right wing revealed the main and aft spars fractured just outboard of the lift strut attach point. Closely matching the fracture surfaces of the main and aft spars but not allowing them to touch revealed the outer portion of the right wing was displaced up approximately 45 degrees. Additionally, the main spar of the right flaperon was displaced up about 7 degrees beginning at a splice joint, and the inboard hinge of the flaperon was bent up approximately 30 degrees. The fracture surfaces of the main and aft spars of the right wing were labeled as to location and direction, and were cut out and retained for further examination by the NTSB Materials Laboratory. Additionally, the mating sections of the left wing were also sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for comparison purposes.

Examination of the cockpit revealed the airspeed indicator and tachometer were off scale low, both needles of the cylinder head temperature gauge were at or just below the low end marking. The exhaust gas temperature of one cylinder was indicating 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, while the other was indicating off scale low.

Examination of the engine which remained attached to its attach points on the airframe revealed the drive belt was in place and the engine rotated freely by hand. Power train continuity was confirmed. The exhaust was removed and no evidence of scoring was noted on the sides of the pistons. Inspection of the carburetors revealed 1 bowl had some debris, while the bowl of the other carburetor contained some fuel. Inspection of the fuel pump revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction.

Examination of the wooden propeller which remained attached to the engine revealed one blade was fractured; three pieces were recovered along the debris field. The other blade


Postmortem examinations of the pilot and passenger were performed by the District 5 Medical Examiner's Office, Leesburg, Florida. The cause of death for both was listed as "Multiple blunt force injuries due to airplane crash."

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens of the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory (FAA CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and also by Wuesthoff Reference Laboratory (Wuesthoff), Melbourne, Florida. The toxicology report by FAA CAMI indicated testing for carbon monoxide, and cyanide was not performed. No volatiles were detected in the vitreous fluid and no tested drugs were detected in the liver specimen. The toxicology report by Wuesthoff indicated the results were negative for volatiles, and tissue immunoassay screen. Unquantified amount of caffeine was detected, and the carboxyhemoglobin saturation was 0.62 percent. Iron (470 mcg/g) was detected, and was above the reporting limit of 1.9 mcg/g. Additionally, the following was detected in the vitreous fluid (18.2 mg/dL urea nitrogen, 0.53 mg/dL creatinine, 138 mEq/L sodium, 15.4 mEq/L potassium, 121 mEq/L chloride, and less than 10 mg/dL glucose.

Forensic toxicology testing was performed on specimens of the passenger by Wuesthoff. The results were negative for volatiles, and urine immunoassay screen, and unquantified amounts of caffeine and ibuprofen were detected in the urine specimen. Additionally, the following was detected in the vitreous fluid (18.1 mg/dL urea nitrogen, 0.55 mg/dL creatinine, 140 mEq/L sodium, 14.5 mEq/L potassium, 121 mEq/L chloride, and less than 10 mg/dL glucose. The carboxyhemoglobin saturation was 0.69 percent. Iron (420 mcg/g) was detected, and was above the reporting limit of 1.9 mcg/g.


Examination of the fractured right wing pieces was performed by the NTSB Materials Laboratory located in Washington, DC. The results of the examination revealed the outboard portion the forward spar at the fracture area was deformed up relative to inboard portion, while the outboard portion of the aft spar at the fracture area was deformed forward and slightly up relative to the inboard portion. Bench binocular microscope examination of the forward and aft spar pieces for the right wing revealed the fractures faces exhibited slant fractures with coarse features consistent with overstress separation with no evidence of fatigue cracking. The aft spar contained a through hole in the area above the trailing edge wing strut. Examination revealed the fracture in the aft spar intersected the center portion of this hole, exposing the outboard and inboard side of the hole. The inboard face of the hole was severely deformed consistent with ground impact damage, whereas, the mating half of the hole for the most part did not show evidence of deformation damage.

 OCALA — The National Transportation Safety Board has released its final report on a crash that killed a well-known Morriston couple nearly two years ago in Ocala. The investigation found no structural or mechanical failure with the plane but did not establish a cause of the crash.

The couple, Gilbert Jennings, 53, and his wife, Catherine Jennings, 50, was found with the wreckage of their two-seater Quad City Ultralights Challenger II at New Episode Training Center at 2001 NW 110th Ave on Aug. 30, 2012.

Pieces of the experimental aircraft’s left and right wings recovered from the crash site were examined by NTSB officials, and later sent to the NTSB Materials Lab in Washington, D.C., for “comparison purposes,” according to the report.

The results showed that the wings did not have any evidence of wear and tear and were fine.

Examinination of other areas of the plane, such as the rudder, engine or fuel pump, revealed no signs of “preimpact failure or malfunction,” the report noted.

The Jennings’ two sons, Jeremy and Josh Jennings, declined comment about the crash. They did say that they wanted to thank the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, neighbors and friends for their support, prayers and assistance during their time of need.

Gilbert and Catherine Jennings owned a metal fabrication business and were known and respected in Morriston. They were lifelong residents of the community, and had been a couple since high school. They had been married about 30 years.

According to the NTSB report, the couple had left Morriston and was heading to Leeward Air Ranch Airport in Ocala. From there, the plane was going to be transported to a nearby airport for an annual inspection.

Before takeoff, the plane had been inspected and no problem was detected. The plane had enough fuel for the flight, the report noted.

The Jennings departed Morriston shortly after 4 p.m. When they didn’t arrive at their destination, the people who were supposed to pick up the Jennings at Leeward Air Ranch Airport called the couple’s sons, who in turn notified the MCSO. The plane was discovered around 8 p.m. the same day.

Catherine Jennings was a certified pilot and had flying experience, according to officials.

The aircraft was built from a kit manufactured by Quad City Ultralight Aircraft Corporation in January 1992. The kit was sold to a Florida company and was built as a model Challenger II, powered by 52 horsepower Rotax 503 dual carburetor dual ignition engine that was equipped with a wooden fixed-pitch propeller.

An operating Light Aircraft Special Airworthiness certificate was issued in January 2008, and on the application for U.S. Airworthiness certificate, the airframe total time was listed at 300 hours.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration records, both husband and wife had purchased the plane in August 2011.

One of the sons told officials that his parents kept the plane in great shape.


Virginia governor entertained idea of buying private jet for state use

RICHMOND —Three days after taking office, Gov. Terry McAuliffe authorized state officials to explore buying a private jet to fly him and top aides around Virginia on official business.

The idea, pitched to McAuliffe (D) as a potential money­maker because the plane could be rented out, was quickly scuttled, McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said.

But not before one state Aviation Department official corresponded with Cessna about various options — and prices ranging from $9 million to $13 million.

“It has the large couch and you can still choose [paint] stripes,” Cessna sales associate Annabeth Killen wrote in a Jan. 30 e-mail to Steve Harris, director of the department’s flight operations and safety division.

The plane-shopping, however brief, is a potentially touchy subject for a wealthy governor who ran on a promise to provide health insurance to the poor and was forced to confront a $300 million revenue shortfall in May. It stayed under the radar until The Washington Post obtained records of it in the past week under a Freedom of Information request.

The state has two planes, both 2007 Beechcraft King Air 350 turboprops, to fly the governor, state agency staff and economic development officials around the state.

McAuliffe entertained the idea of buying a jet at the request of Aviation Department pilots, who have been lobbying for one as far back as 2006, during the administration of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), Coy said.

The pilots approached McAuliffe on Jan. 14, when he took his first flight as governor. He and first lady Dorothy McAuliffe flew to Martinsville, near the North Carolina border, to attend the funeral of a Virginia State Police sergeant killed on duty Jan. 11.

“In meeting them, one of the [aviation] representatives says to him, ‘Governor, here’s our King Airs. We have two of them. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a jet?’ ” Coy said.

A jet would make for a roomier, more comfortable ride than the King Air, whose bathroom is so cramped it is “best suited for emergencies as opposed to routine use,” according to a recent review of the state’s air fleet conducted by Conklin & de Decker Associates of Massachusetts.

Cessna sales materials e-mailed to Harris played up the choice of luxury interiors: a “fashion-forward” cabin with the “clean lines of modernist sculpture” or a leather-and-damask look meant to invoke “meticulously crafted, hand-bound volumes of nineteenth century literature.”

But Coy said McAuliffe was interested only in the pilots’ hard-nosed appeal — that a jet could save the state money.

“They make the case that not only is a jet more comfortable and faster, it could be more cost-efficient because we could sell the two turboprops and make some money renting a jet out to hospitals and organ-transplant businesses, because the turboprops don’t fly fast enough to do certain types of organs and the jets do,” Coy said.

McAuliffe told the pilots that if it made economic sense, he was open to it. He told them to make their case to Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne.

Aviation officials moved quickly. On Jan. 30, about two weeks after the pilots’ encounter with McAuliffe, Harris was exchanging e-mails with Cessna’s Killen about the couch styles, paint options and potential delivery dates for the $9 million Citation CJ4 and the $13 million Citation XLS+.

“The Department of Aviation (DOAV) is requesting the approval of the purchase of an additional Executive Transport Aircraft (Citation CJ4) to fulfill the Governor’s request,” Randall Burdette, the department’s director, wrote in an e-mail to Harris on Feb. 3.

By Feb. 5, Harris was finalizing details for a day-long visit to Cessna’s Wichita, Kan., headquarters, including a factory tour, lunch with senior company officials and a “product viewing” of the CJ4.

But the trip, like the plane purchase, never came to pass.

Nicholas Donohue, deputy secretary of transportation, said Layne was not convinced that buying a jet made economic sense. Donohue said aviation officials got a little ahead of themselves. Harris and Burdette did not respond to messages seeking comment. Cessna’s Killen declined to comment.

“The pilots, who are kind of like engineers and athletes, they always want the best gear,” Donohue said. “So if you talk to an athlete . . . they’re always wanting the best shoes. Just like an engineer, they want to build the strongest bridge that can move people as fast as possible — even if it’s not the bridge that will meet the needs.”


Airport's Corsair looks to 75th anniversary: Sikorsky Memorial Airport (KBDR), Connecticut

STRATFORD -- For the past six years, a team of about a dozen volunteers have been engaged in restoring the Chance-Vought F4U Corsair that used to sit atop a pedestal in front of Sikorsky Memorial Airport.

Now they're facing a deadline of sorts. A year from now -- June 29, 2015, to be exact -- the 75th anniversary of the Corsair's first flight will be celebrated, and the restoration team believes the plane will be worthy of display by then.

"It's not going to be easy," said Andrew King, who heads the restoration effort taking place in two of the buildings that used to be the Army Engine Plant in Stratford's south end. "There are 10 other Corsair restoration projects going on right now, so the supply of parts has pretty much dried up."

But King says he's confident that the old war bird will be put together again for the 75th anniversary celebration. Many of the parts, he said, have to be fabricated from scratch.

King is also director of the Connecticut Air and Space Center, which is not only restoring the Corsair, but several other aircraft as well. Its latest undertaking is a Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane helicopter. It's an early variant, powered by a pair of radial engines, and it's believed to be the last helicopter that Igor H. Sikorsky flew.

As for the Corsair, it still doesn't look like much. The fuselage has been painted with mustard yellow primer and its wings and engine have been detached because they're undergoing separate restorations.

Landing gear, including the tail wheel, have been rounded up from an aircraft boneyard in Texas (It lacked landing gear when it was on display). A critical and badly corroded structural spar that, in essence, keeps the wings from falling off, has been replaced.

"We're always looking for parts -- and money," he said.

The Corsair's wings, engine and a few other parts are in Building 53. The fuselage and the rest of the plane is in another building in the Avco complex that was used as a tool shed and storage.

Three year ago, the aircraft's huge Pratt & Whitney R-2800 "Double Wasp" 18-cylinder radial engine looked like a rusty boat anchor. Today it sits on an engine stand looking like it did when it left P&W's East Hartford plant in the 1940s.

Meanwhile, work on the cockpit is progressing. A seat is being upholstered and the instrument panel is nearing completion. One of the most difficult parts to find, restorers say, is the inch-thick bulletproof glass that was mounted just inside of the forward-facing windshield. Since it's difficult to see through see through it, it's always tossed out after the plane's combat days are over.

King's plan is to eventually display the Corsair in the airport's Curtiss hangar, itself an artifact of the early days of aviation. Built in 1929, it was visited by Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes.

The F4U Corsair prototype made its maiden flight on May 29, 1940, with Lyman A. Bullard Jr. at the controls at what was then Bridgeport Airport. Deliveries to the Navy began in July 1942. On May 29, 2015, King hopes to celebrate with a fly-in of at least a half-dozen Corsairs. It's believed that fewer than 40 remain airworthy.

The Corsair, considered a symbol of Connecticut's industrial might, was mounted on a pedestal at the airport in July 1971. It was removed on July 22, 2008, because corrosion had weakened the war bird to the point where it was in danger of falling off.

During World War II, the Chance Vought Division of United Aircraft built 3,250 Corsairs, and each one was wheeled across Main Street to be flown out for eventual deliver to the Pacific Theater. Hundreds were churned out every month at the height of the war.

The Corsair has a special place in the state's aviation history because it was almost entirely produced here, with an engine from Pratt & Whitney and propellers from Hamilton Standard.

Named after the sailing ships of the Barbary pirates, the F4U Corsair was the first U.S. fighter to fly faster than 400 mph. Although designed as a carrier-based fighter, it usually was based on the tiny inlands of the Pacific Theater because it was a difficult plane to land on a carrier deck owing to poor forward visibility. For that reason, it was more commonly flown by Marines, as opposed to Navy pilots.

Despite this handicap, it quickly became the fighter most feared by the Japanese, with a claimed kill ratio of 11 to 1.

By the end of World War II, it was used also as a fighter-bomber, and was key to the victories at Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Marshall Islands.

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Acadiana Regional Airport (KARA) will have Commercial Flights Starting Next Year

The Iberia Parish Council has approved one million dollars for an airport taxiway and $750,000 to add a passenger terminal to the Acadiana Regional Airport. Since 1967, the airport has only been used for military and charter operations.

With this being passed it means Acadiana Regional will now have the means to start regular commercial flights to Houston and other major cities that oil and gas workers fly to and from daily, "Workers in the oil and gas industry travel regularly. The biggest request we get is that they want to fly to Houston in the morning, conduct their business, and be home for dinner," Airport Director Jason Deviller told KATC.

The Iberia Industrial Development Foundation Director, Mike Tarantino, also told us that the parish is looking to invest even more into the airport. "We have been looking for ways we can invest in this airport, and this is first of many investments. I think you'll see an Iberia Parish's airport that will certainly benefit everyone in Acadiana," says Tarantino.

The next step for Acadiana Regional is finalizing the design of the terminal and starting the bidding of the construction of the terminal. They are hoping to have commercial passenger flights coming out of Acadaiana by the summer of next year.

Story and video:

Robert Love: Long love affair -- Portales Municipal Airport (KPRZ), New Mexico

After living 80 years, local aircraft mechanic and church deacon Robert Love hasn’t stopped doing what he loves.

The former Air Force mechanic and inventor owns and operates an aircraft maintenance company called Love Aero Service, which he established in 1963 after moving to the area with his wife Lu.

Love has made a lasting mark on the world of aviation with his inventions that both ease and increase the safety of aircraft maintenance. Love has invented several tools over the years and has one more patent in the works.

What got you started in aircraft maintenance?

I got started in the Air Force. I kept with it because it was about the only trade I had. I worked with my dad helping with his work as a carpenter. I got to do a lot of the clean up after we finished a job and I decided that I just didn’t need that. It wasn’t too educational for me. That’s why I got into airplanes.

What is something from your time in the Air Force that sticks out in your memory?
I witnessed the testing of the H-bomb in 1953. I never will forget that. We were on Enewetok Island (now Enewetak Atoll) and I was over there during two tests they had. They had us stand on the beach and face away from that thing and I had my hands over my eyes and had my eyes closed, and I still say to this day I could see the bones in my fingers when that thing went off. One of them that they shot off … we thought we were going to have to evacuate the island because the wind changed, but it turned out it didn’t. It was quite an experience, I hope I never see anything like it again.

What is your proudest accomplishment from your career?
I received the Charley Taylor award in 2009 for 50 years in aviation. Charley Taylor was the mechanic that built the engine for the Wright brothers in six weeks.

What do you do with your time when you aren’t working on aircraft?
I like to go fishing and traveling.

Is there anyone you looked up to that helped make you who you are today? How did they influence you?
I looked up to my dad. He taught me the value of life. I also have a lot of good friends who I look up to.

What was your favorite vacation and why?

My favorite trip was to Washington D.C. I got to go to the Smithsonian Institute and I’ve always wanted to go there to see all the old airplanes and everything.

What was your first invention and how did it come about?
I invented a tool for installing Lycoming engines and Continental engines in airplanes. I came up with it because I had a need to make a job easier.

What is your family dynamic like?
We have two sons, Danny and Gary. Danny lives with his wife, Susan, in Fort Worth, Texas, and works at BNSF Railways. Gary and his wife, Carmen, live in Lubbock and he works with a pump company. We also have six grandkids and four great grandkids. Our oldest grandson, Kenny, lives in Albuquerque.

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How I Almost Got a Pilot’s License - By Don Lewis

By Don Lewis 
May 30th, 2014  

I had a little bit of a rough time trying to get through college, which meant I was pretty much a regular in summer school. One summer, while at Waynesburg I decided to take flying lessons. There was a doctor living in Waynesburg who owned a Cessna 173. I did some work around his house and he asked me if I wanted to fly up to Blairsville with him to visit his son who was in a hospital up there. I went with him to visit his boy on more than one occasion. I was taken with the flying and decided to take flying lessons. The doctor paid me for the things I did; cutting grass and bushes, washing windows, other general work around the property. For whatever I did he would pay me enough for one flying lesson. 

I went over to the Waynesburg Airport and spoke with Bill Stockdale. He ran the airport and was a flight instructor. I don’t know what flying lessons cost now, but back in the early 60s each hour long lesson with an instructor was $10. Once you solo the cost went down to $8 per hour.

The biggest problem I had was learning how to take off. The reason is that you have to put a little pressure on your right rudder pedal because the torque of the engine tends to pull the plane to the left. Then, if you put too much pressure on the right pedal the plane begins to drift over to the right. Let up too much and it moves back to the left, back and forth until you get the hang of it. They call that “walking the pedals.”

While trying to get the hang of it one day I almost ran into the hangar. I was with the instructor and if I had gotten too close I’m sure he would have taken over the controls. The plane was an Aeronca Champion, a two-place tandem, single engine, high wing airplane. I was told that this particular plane had already been in one crash. I was 19 years old and that kind of thing didn’t bother me.

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After initial sadness at F-15 loss, Sioux City adjusts to less glamorous but essential tankers

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Two fighter jets scream by overhead, then loop around and land at Sioux Gateway Airport.

As the pair of F-15s roll past on the runway, Lt. Col. Tyson Herbold and his crew run through a series of preflight checks prior to firing up the engines on one of the 185th Air Refueling Wing's KC-135 tanker jets.

Arriving for a paint job at the 185th's paint shop Tuesday, the F-15s were a high-speed blast from the past, a reminder of the days when F-16 fighter jets based at the 185th flew over Sioux City almost daily.

Just off that same runway, the Sioux City Journal reports ( ) Herbold sat in the cockpit of the base's present — and future. With ongoing American military operations worldwide, the 185th will be in demand to carry fuel to aircraft around the globe.

Those big, bulky tankers resting at the 185th may not be as glamorous as the sleek fighting machines once housed here, but they represent something base personnel ultimately realized the fighters never could: security.

When Iowa National Guard leaders announced in September 2000 that the 185th would convert from fighters to tankers, it wasn't the most popular decision, especially among pilots who would go from flying at extreme speeds to cruising in the slow lane.

But looking back, said commander Col. Brian Miller, one of those affected fighter pilots, it's the best thing that could have happened.

"I took the announcement of going from fighters to heavies about as well as a 4-year-old when his candy is taken away," Miller said. "But had we not converted when we did, there is a chance we wouldn't even be open right now."

The announcement disappointed many on the base, but many others welcomed the tankers. The fighters may have been leaving, but at least their jobs weren't going with them, said Chief Master Sgt. David Miller, the current command chief who was equipment maintenance branch chief at the time.

"As long as the gates were going to stay open, we had the philosophy that we really didn't care what we worked on," he said. "Maintenance practices are still the same. Hydraulics are still hydraulics."

The conversion meant the loss of about 20 full-time jobs, many of which Miller said have since been regained, bringing the total number of full- and part-time employees at the base to 956.

Some pilots left to continue flying fighters at other bases. Some retired rather than go through the conversion. Those who remained were retrained to fly the KC-135. Mechanics were trained how to fix and maintain a different aircraft. More than $40 million was spent on a new hangar and other modifications to accommodate the larger jets.

On Jan. 16, 2003, the 185th's fighters took off for the last time, headed to their new home in New York. That same day, the first tanker landed, marking the beginning of a new mission.

Guard members and civilians alike haven't looked back, despite a little uncertainty at the time.

Then-mayor Marty Dougherty said city officials had been given a heads up that the conversion was being considered.

"I think the question was whether the community would support the move or fight it," Dougherty said.

Dougherty, now the city's economic development director, said the main concern was that the base remain open.

"We supported what they wanted to do. It's an important employer for us. It's an important user of the airport," he said.

The conversion was the result of a numbers game. In 2000, military officials were anticipating a round of closures of military bases and installations. The Air Force and Air Guard were already closing fighter wings. With the 185th in Sioux City and the 132nd Fighter Wing in Des Moines providing similar missions, Iowa Guard officials doubted the state would be able to keep both, said retired Lt. Gen. Ron Dardis, who was the Iowa National Guard adjutant at that time.

"Here we sat with two with like missions. I could see that didn't bode well for Iowa," Dardis said.

Guard leaders set about creating a tanker unit and proposed the switch to both Iowa units. Neither wanted the tankers, Dardis said.

A Spencer, Iowa, native who joined the 185th in 1966 and flew fighter jets here for 30 years, Dardis encouraged 185th leaders to agree to the change.

"I knew that it was the best thing for the unit, but it was difficult to convince Sioux City leadership," Dardis said. "My heart was with the 185th, and I knew the 185th would be flying a long, long time if they took the mission."

Since the change, the unit's done a lot of flying, more than leaders probably could have envisioned. During the conversion, the United States went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ever since, military aircraft and the tankers that refuel them have been pressed into extended service.

That need continues, Col. Miller said, guaranteeing the 185th a steady job. Rarely are all eight of the unit's tankers home. At least one is almost always deployed. It means more missions and more travel opportunities for more people.

"We've been busy with that, busier than we would have been with fighters," he said. "Going from fighters to tankers has caused us to be more involved than we would have been."

Chief Master Sgt. Tim Ireland appreciates those new opportunities. Ireland loaded weapons on the F-16s. The conversion eliminated his job, so he applied to be a fuel boom operator. He now flies all over the world, running the equipment that refuels aircraft thousands of feet above ground.

"I really liked working on F-16s, but this job, for me, is a lot better situation, a lot more opportunities for me as a boom operator," Ireland said as he ran through his preflight checks before departing with Herbold on Tuesday's flight.

The 185th's switch to tankers has provided the longevity everyone touted at the time of the conversion. The 132nd in Des Moines is currently converting from fighter jets to flying unmanned aircraft, among other duties.

Had the fighters stayed in Sioux City, the 185th could be undergoing a similar transition now, or a closure. It's comforting for 185th members to know they're flying a mission that likely will remain in high demand, Miller said. As local Guard members have watched the military reallocate its resources in recent years, that conversion is looking better all the time.

"I think the unit members, now that we understand the importance, know there's as much pride in this mission as the previous mission," he said. "As we look back, it's turned out far better than any of us anticipated."

Information from: Sioux City Journal,

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Air India Boeing Dreamliner returns after taking off

An Air India Boeing 787 Dreamliner plane which took off from here for Frankfurt carrying 200 passengers an hour behind schedule, returned after being airborne for about three hours, an airline spokesman said.

The flight (AI 121) left IGI airport at around 1.45 PM after the delay in its departure was caused by wait for connecting passengers who arrived from different parts of the country, he said.

The spokesperson said the plane returned after the pilot calculated that if they go ahead with the journey, night curfew would be imposed at Frankfurt Airport and they would not be able to land.

Secondly, the flight duty time limitation of a pilot would have come into force as the flight was delayed. So the pilot decided to come back to Delhi, the spokesperson said.

The passengers were deboarded and given accommodation and the flight will now leave for Frankfurt tomorrow morning, according to the spokesperson.  


Cessna 172F Skyhawk, N8394U: Accident occurred May 31, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania

NTSB Identification: ERA14CA278
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 31, 2014 in Mount Pleasant, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/02/2014
Aircraft: CESSNA 172F, registration: N8394U
Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 Uninjured.

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

The pilot stated that the preflight and engine run-up were satisfactory prior to the departure from the 1,641 foot long grass runway; the grass was a little high (estimated to be 5 to 6 inches) and soft due to rain from earlier that week. He consulted the POH and confirmed no flaps for the takeoff. After the engine run-up he taxied onto runway 32 and with the flaps retracted, applied full throttle noting 2,200 rpm, then released the brakes; the wind was from the northwest at 3 to 5 knots. He did not begin the takeoff roll utilizing soft field takeoff procedure of aft control input but did as the takeoff roll continued; later reporting that he "probably didn't initially have the yoke back enough." After a little more than ½ way down the runway at an airspeed less than 50 mph, he aborted the takeoff. Unable to stop, the airplane impacted a guard rail at the end of the runway causing the airplane to nose over. He further stated that there was no preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. He did state in the Recommendation Section of the submitted NTSB Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident report that the accident might have been prevented by better assessment of the conditions/effects of the grass (softness) and length of the runway, and to either not initiate takeoff or abort sooner. He also indicated that the accident might have been prevented if, "…a perfect soft/short field technique was used."

Postaccident inspection of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness inspector revealed substantial damage to the right wing spar and structure adjacent to the left main landing gear attach point. Another FAA inspector reported no obstructions at the departure end of runway 32.

A review of the airplane Owner's Manual indicates 0 flap extension is specified for normal and maximum performance takeoff; however, 10 degrees of flaps is specified to be used for minimum ground runs or for takeoff from soft or rough fields with no obstacles ahead. The takeoff performance chart does not indicate distances for grass runway. Excerpts of the Owner's Manual are contained in the NTSB public docket.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's incorrect takeoff procedures from the soft grass runway and his delay in aborting the takeoff after recognizing slow acceleration.

A plane crash onto power lines at Mt. Pleasant and Scottdale Airport in Bullskin Township left one man with minor injuries on Saturday.

Pilot Dave Bayless was able to climb out of the gully where the plane had come to rest upside-down. He was airlifted to UPMC Presbyterian, according to emergency workers at the scene. According to a hospital representative, he was released without being treated.

The plane's owner, Arvin Daniels of Youngwood, was in the plane and was uninjured.

Daniels had hoped to take his Cessna 172F Skyhawk out for a flight on a sunny afternoon.

The plane didn't get up to speed while attempting to lift off from the airport's short, grass runway, Daniels said. Bayless attempted to stop the plane, but it hit a guide rail and crashed upside down into a gully, landing on some power lines about 12:30 p.m.

“We aborted takeoff, hit the guard rail and flipped,” Daniels said.

The gully is across the narrow street that leads to the airport.

“If we had been going 10 to 15 miles faster, we wouldn't even be having this conversation,” Daniels said.

He remained cheerful despite the crash, grateful that nobody was seriously hurt.

“It's just one of those things that happens,” he said. “That's why they call it an accident.”

The extent of the damage to the plane was unknown.

Officials from several power companies were called to the scene to examine the power lines.

Plans were to lift the plane from the gully onto a flatbed truck using a crane.

An official from the Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the cause of the crash.

North Weald flying competition in memory of pilot Andrew Sully


Fellow pilots, friends and plane enthusiasts gathered at North Weald Airfield today in memory of Andrew Sully, who died in a plane crash near Writtle earlier this year. 

The annual Spot Landing competition, organized by the Squadron, was dedicated to the memory of the Gulf War veteran and father-of-three from Writtle.

The competition involves pilots attempting to land as close as possible to a line on the runway, showing off skill and aircraft control.

Mark Carter, who has flown from the Squadron for ten years, said: “Andy was well liked here at the airfield and he was a great pilot.

“He flew RAF Hercules and had loads of flying experience, it was a very tragic accident.

“The competition in his memory is a great way to remember him, he loved flying and he would not want us stop.”

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Anything is possible if you try hard enough, says retired teacher and pilot, Gordon McCaw

Sitting in a wheelchair as he addressed members and delegates of the 92nd State conference of the Country Women’s Association of NSW in Griffith, Gordon McCaw began to relate the story of one man’s dream – to fly solo around Australia.

A former teacher of metal fabrication at the local TAFE, Gordon became a paraplegic following a glider accident in 1984, but did not let this stop him from returning to work that same year, and continue teaching until retirement in 2005.

The accident also failed to prevent him from indulging his passion for flying, and in 2006 Gordon obtained his private pilot’s license and now has more than 500 hours in command.

Gordon’s presentation for the CWA, entitled “One man’s dream”, was not about his life as many in the audience expected but rather about a close and remarkable friend, Dave Jaka, a C4/5 quadriplegic.

Dave is 43 and a senior project analyst in the governance team at Melbourne Water.

Gordon said Dave has no movement below his armpits, can’t move from side to side or bend over without assistance, has limited wrist function and no finger movement, only limited arm movement and no balance.

“If Dave falls over or off a chair he needs help to get back up right,” Gordon said.

“Another major challenge is the fact Dave is unable to control his body temperature – he can quickly suffer from either hypothermia or overheat – and has little upper body strength.”

To overcome these challenges, the light plane Dave flew during his epic journey was modified with a joystick for the control; this in turn has two supports either side to hold his wrist in place to move the joystick.

He also wore a headset which while providing a means of communication also included a plastic tube to Dave’s mouth – not for water but to allow him to control the plane’s speed, blowing air through the tube to increase the plane’s speed while sucking slowed it down.

Dave’s trip around Australia followed the coastline and included all States, including Tasmania, traveling anti-clockwise and was supported by Griffith Aero Club, of which Gordon is a member.

The journey covered 17,000 kilometres at an average air speed of 185 kilometres an hour, took 31 days (21 of which were spent flying, the remainder as rest days) and required 2000 litres of avgas.

In effect Dave and his support crew of seven, which included Gordon and two light planes and crew, traveled the same distance as it takes to fly from Sydney to London.

The light, single seat plane Dave flew weighed not much more than a large motorcycle and was made in Australia.

Gordon said the risks of such a journey were many – even for an able-bodied person.

“The weather along the coast can be changeable and bad which is more difficult to handle in a light aircraft,” he said.

“With only one pilot fatigue is another issue – in this plane there was no option for the use of an automatic pilot and the route flew through some of the most remote areas in Australia, in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia which means few landing strips and no close emergency services.”

A hoist was used to lift Dave in and out of the plane and his support crew ensured he was buckled up safely.

Dave set off on his trip on April 29 last year and flew back into Melbourne on June 6.

Gordon said the trip had it’s moments, such as oil pressure problems the first day, two flat tires to contend with (not easy to deal with as Dave’s small plane did not come with a jack), and plenty of bad weather to scout round.

However, Gordon said no flight plans had to be filed for the trip, even when flying past State capitals.

“The journey was a great adventure and provided wonderful views of Australia – a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Gordon said statistics showed more than 1.2 million people in Australia had some level of disability to cope with.

“But if somebody like Dave can follow his dream and make it come true, then together we can make the world a better place – anything is possible if you try hard enough.”

Aside from his passion for flying, today Gordon undertakes volunteer work for a number of local not-for-profit organizations and is also undertaking a Bachelor of Arts degree hoping to complete a double major in philosophy and sociology. 

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Potential Delays In Passenger Screening At Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (KSAV), Savannah, Georgia

SAVANNAH, GA - Passengers departing Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport should plan to arrive early and allow extra time to clear the TSA checkpoint due to screening equipment malfunction.

The Director of Marketing, Lori Lynah, said Saturday morning an X-Ray machine used in the TSA Pre-Check lane malfunctioned requiring security personnel to route all passengers through two operational lanes. 

With increased weekend and Monday morning traffic, Airport officials are encouraging departing passengers to arrive a minimum of two, to two and one-half hours prior to flight time to ensure they make an on time departure.

TSA officials are anticipating that the Pre-Check lane will be closed at least through Monday, June 2. 


Incident occurred May 31, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri


FAA Kansas City FSDO-63:

Small plane on way to Kansas City International Airport lands in corn field

Authorities say pilot, passenger OK

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —A small plane on its way to Kansas City International Airport landed in a corn field in the Northland on Saturday.

Airport officials said the plane made a "soft landing" near 108th Street and Robinhood Lane at noon after encountering engine trouble.

The area is 2 miles to the east of the airport.

Authorities said the pilot and a passenger are OK.

The single-engine plane was believed to be a kit-built aircraft.

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Flyboys trying to get to Vimy

Paul O’Reilly has little hesitation about getting into the cockpit of a First World War-era biplane made of wood, metal and fabric.

After all, the Central Saanich man spent his career in the Canadian military, serving as a pilot on both the east and west coasts of Canada. He ended that career flying for the Navy, having seen service during the Iran hostage crisis in the 1970s, among other actions.

O’Reilly is part of a group of retired commercial and military pilots planning to fly replica Nieuport 11 biplanes over Vimy Ridge in 2017. That year is the 100th anniversary of the First World War battle — one that saw Canadian forces come into their own on the world stage.

Escadrille Norwest includes O’Reilly, Alan Snowie and Alvin Jasper. All three, O’Reilly said, have served with each other in the military at one time or another.

O’Reilly said he came across the project in 2011. He had retired in 2002 and found he had a lot of extra time on his hands. While attending a visit by the Golden Hawks aerial team, O’Reilly said he saw a pair of Nieuports flying past and wanted to learn more.

“It turns out I knew both pilots. Both had moved to Bellingham, Washington.”

Almost immediately, he was enlisted into the project as the pilot of a third replica biplane — the kind of aircraft used by French and American pilots during the Great War. O’Reilly said he has traveled back and forth to the U.S. to get used to flying the Nieuport and to practice formation flying with his buddies.

“I hadn’t really flown in nearly 20 years,” he said. “So I started out in a Cessna, practicing on grass airstrips.”

Soon, he moved up to the biplane — a third Nieuport owned by Snowie. There was just one snag: it had been crashed and needed a lot of repair. Those trips across the border became as much about repairs as they were about flying, O’Reilly said.

Once it was ready to fly, O’Reilly said he had to get in the required hours to be checked out on the aircraft.

“I was quite nervous at first. You have to keep track of the air speed and other things, but without the electronics that planes have today.”

His first flight in the Nieuport also meant having a lot of his friends and family on the ground watching him.

“But I got used to the controls of the aircraft and after four landings, taa daa, I’m qualified.”

Even with more than 40 hours flying time on the biplane, there is still a lot of hard work to do, in order to get the three pilots and their planes to France.

O’Reilly said he’s working with federal regulators to get his biplane into Canada to enable him to fly more regularly — and to be able to visit  air shows in B.C. to help promote the project. This, he said, is mired in a lot of red tape but he hopes there will still be time left in the summer once he gets the plane on the Island.

In the meantime, Escadrille Norwest is raising money. It will cost quite a bit to ship the biplanes to France well in advance of the 2017 anniversary celebrations. O’Reilly said they cannot be flown that far (it’s gas tank just isn’t that large and it can only remain airborne for about four hours).

The plan, if all goes well, is to have the aircraft in France early enough so the pilots can practice flying right before the Vimy Ridge anniversary. O’Reilly said they have to try out the local landing areas — some of which might be grass fields, the location of First World War-era airfields.

Once they’re ready, O’Reilly said they will re-enact the opening the Vimy Ridge memorial in 1935, which saw biplanes fly over the official activity below.

O’Reilly said they are receiving help from the Great War Flying Museum in Brampton, Ontario. People can visit their website and make a donation to the Vimy Project.

Escadrille Norwest is also building its own website ( but it’s not yet ready.

O’Reilly said he hopes they can spread the word about their Vimy project by flying over Canada Day events and letting the vintage aircraft speak for themselves.

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Rockford AirFest 2014: 6 things to know before you go - Chicago Rockford International Airport (KRFD), Illinois

Rockford AirFest 2014 and thousands of air show fans return next Saturday and Sunday to Chicago Rockford International Airport after a one-year sequester hiatus. 

U.S. military acrobatic jet teams were grounded by automatic budget cuts in 2013, and losing the headline act forced organizers here and around the country to cancel air shows last year.

While the sequester prohibits many military planes from being put on display, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have been cleared to return to the show business, and Rockford AirFest 2014 is ready to launch. 

The theme of this year’s show, Honoring Heroes, focuses on the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War. 

About 100 Vietnam vets are invited to the show.  

1. What should I bring? 
A daily ticket. Buy an advanced ticket through Sunday at area Culver’s restaurants or at, and they’re $20. Starting Monday, the price is $30. Tickets are sold by the carload, meaning one ticket will get you, your family and friends, and your car into the event. Sunscreen, hats, folding chairs, cameras, wagons and strollers, ear plugs and ID, if you want to buy alcohol, are recommended. Gates open at 9 a.m. Performances begin at 11 a.m. 

 2. What can’t I bring? 
No food and drinks (available at the show); no pets (service dogs are allowed); no coolers, bikes or skateboards.  
3. Who is performing?  
The Thunderbirds are the big draw. Their counterparts from the north, Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds celebrate their 90th anniversary with one of only five U.S. appearances this year. The U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team will drop in again. Other performers include precision aerobatic fliers Team Aerostars; Team AeroDynamix, which bills itself as the world’s largest airship team; former U.S. Unlimited Aerobatic Champion Mike Goulian; Paul Wood of Warbird Heritage Foundation: John Klatt Airshows, Art Nall’s Sea Harrier, Firebirds and Dave Dacy Airshows from Harvard, Illinois.  

4. Is there anything for kids? 
Yes. There will be inflatable rides. For $5, you can ride the Rockford Ice Hogs’ Hamboni.   

5. What’s different this year? 
There will be more vintage warbirds from eras spanning World War II and Vietnam, and few modern military aircraft this year because of the sequester. Preferred seating is available for an extra charge. 

6. How do I get there? 
From the west, take U.S. 20 Bypass to South Main Street, then south to the airport. From the east, take U.S. 20 Bypass to 11th Street and enter the airport on Airport Drive. Rockford drivers are advised to take 11th Street as South Main Street is under construction and travel may be slow.

For more information,



Aerobatics competition continues today at Richard B. Russell Airport (KRMG); admission free to watch

The plane hummed overhead as judges watched its path through the sky above Richard B. Russell Regional Airport.

Mark Nowosielski, a competitor in the Southeastern Open aerobatics competition, stood on a runway as one of his team members prepared for his turn. One of the pilots who will represent the U.S. in the August World Championships in Slovakia, Nowosielski came to Rome to prepare for his stunt on the world stage.

“I equate it to figure skating,” Nowosielski said Friday. “The judges know what you’re going to do before you do it. You can make a mistake, but you’re not going to get anywhere close to winning.”

The competition continues from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. today. Admission is free.

Competitors have three types of routines: a sequence they know, one they make themselves and a third that’s only revealed to them about a half day before they fly.

Marty Flournoy, one of Nowosielski’s team members, said the competition tests the mind and body. It forces pilots to think in three dimensions, and makes them feel extra weight because of G forces.

“It just feels like you weigh 400 pounds, but you get used to that,” Flournoy said.

At about 11 a.m., an F/A-18 appeared on the horizon. A crowd cheered as Robert Hortman, a Darlington graduate whose family lives in Floyd County, landed the aircraft, turned around and slowly rolled back to the airport’s terminal.

Hortman, who recently returned to Virginia Beach after his deployment to Afghanistan, must log hours in the air as a Navy pilot.

“It’s a great honor, and I feel very fortunate to be able to do it,” Hortman said as the crowd approached and greeted the pilot.

Hortman graduated from the Naval Academy in 2003 and began his pilot’s training. He spent about three years in Japan and another three years at Top Gun, the Navy Fighter Weapons School, before his year stint in Afghanistan.

Taking a moment to answer a question, Hortman figures he’s reached 500 mph in the F/A-18.

“It’s not very exciting, actually,” he admitted. “Unless you’re pulling Gs, it’s a lot like driving a car — just faster.”

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Airport staple Florentyna's will have to find a new home: Tri-Cities Airport (KPSC), Pasco, Washington

PASCO, Wash. -- An airport staple is going to have to find a new home. Florentyna's restaurant will lose its lease once the airport is remodeled. The Port of Pasco voted on a new restaurant. 

Debbi Downs travels every other month through the Tri-Cities Airport and says she always eats at Florentyna's.

"First time I came to Tri-Cities, we ate here, had great tomato bisque soup, the service was great," said Debbi.

The restaurant has a lease through 2017, but the airport decided on a new tenant. Tailwind Concessions expects to invest $1.5 million into a new restaurant and concession stands. That was $400,000 more than what Florentyna's could offer.

"They've been here for a long time, sad to see them leave the airport," Debbi said.

After being in the airport for the past 17 years, owner Cindy Goulet is not sure what's next for Florentyna's.

"Well, at this point I don't have another place for it, but that could possibly happen," said Cindy.

She negotiated with the port for more than a year before the decision was made. Cindy says she was prepared for the worst-case scenario.

"You're waiting for and trying to find that location that would work best for the restaurant, and so, I haven't quite found that yet," she said.

Tailwinds operates restaurants at ten other airports around the nation. Currently, the furthest west is in Texas.

"I wish they would have stayed local, because it's certainly not a local business, but, no, I don't have any resentment," said Cindy.

Tailwinds expects to pay higher rent than what was paid by Florentyna's. That made it easy for the Port to decide.

"You know, it's a business decision," Cindy said. "I saw all the numbers, and I saw what I offered and what Tailwinds offered and that was a better deal, and the Port of Pasco, that's what they were looking for."

It's not yet clear if the Tri-Cities Airport will buy out the rest of Florentyna's lease or if the restaurant will even stay open through the remodel.

The new restaurant will offer American cuisine and be located behind the security checkpoint.

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