Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pilots' Union Shines a Light on Low Wages

 The issue of airline pilot supply and demand is back in the news as the largest U.S. pilots’ union released a new chart to call attention to paltry salaries (PDF) they say are causing a shortage of aviators for regional airlines.

“The rock-bottom starting pay offered by regional airlines has become a serious deterrent for anyone considering becoming an airline pilot or—if they are already qualified—for choosing to work in the profession in the United States,” says Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association. The industry has also been beset by a drop in the number of people who choose flying as a career, given the large training expenses and modest salaries during the first few years of a pilot’s career. 

 Here’s the ALPA list of estimated first-year salaries for a first officer at 10 U.S. regional carriers:

This week, Boeing (BA) said the industry will need 533,000 new commercial pilots by 2033—a 7 percent increase from the company’s 2013 forecast—along with 584,000 airline maintenance workers. Most growth is expected to come in the Asia-Pacific region. European carriers will require 94,000 new pilots; North American ones will need 88,000.

In 2010, Congress mandated that airlines’ first officers would need to hold an Airline Transport Pilot certificate–which requires at least 1,500 flight hours (PDF)—instead of the 250 hours and commercial pilot certificate previously required. The new rules came in response to the 2009 crash of a Continental Express regional flight, which investigators linked to shortcomings in the pilots’ training.

Great Lakes’ chief executive officer, Chuck Howell, did not return a call seeking comment on Thursday. The Wyoming-based airline has been among the hardest-hit carriers as a result of the new rule. In February, Great Lakes stopped flying to six cities because its pilots did not have the newly required flight hours.

The regional industry says the law chose an arbitrary number of flight hours and did not focus on the quality of a pilot’s training and experience in setting higher minimums that do not make flights any safer. It also says the law has harmed air service to many cities across the country. Pilot supply has not been a problem, so far, for big airlines such as Delta and Southwest, which pay far more than their regional partners do and often hire pilots from the regionals’ rosters.

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Why are planes flying so low over Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania?


We've been receiving a lot of calls and emails here at WPXI about low flying planes in the area.

While that would concern anyone, Lt. Stacy Gault of the 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg, WV told Channel 11 viewers not to worry.

Gault said the Air Force is conducting a series of practice drills, utilizing a number of regional airports, including Pittsburgh International. The drills include practicing landings and takeoffs according to Gault.

The aircraft people are seeing is a C-5 cargo plane, the largest aircraft the Air Force has.

According to Gault, the C-5 is so large; when it is flying overhead it appears lower than it really is.

Fun Facts:

    The C-5 is so large; it can hold 6 school buses in the cargo area.
    The length of the aircraft is actually longer than the Wright brother's first flight.
    The C-5 is capable of transporting people as well as cargo.

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Trio charged with stealing millions from Miami-Dade Aviation

A couple and their co-worker siphoned more than $2 million from Aviation Department and used it to pay off car loans, mortgages and a $546,008 credit card bill, law enforcement officials say.

For more than two years, managers of a small company that operated an exclusive lounge for airline passengers siphoned millions of dollars intended for Miami-Dade’s Aviation Department through “shadow” bank accounts, law enforcement leaders said Thursday.

Their suspected haul: likely well over $2.19 million.

That’s the amount Miami-Dade Aviation, Miami-Dade police and state attorney investigators were able to identify as missing over a two-year period from January 2012 through February 2014.

State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said the “thievery” likely was going on longer.

“But we wanted to stop the bleeding now,” she said Thursday while announcing the arrest of three people.

Elena Iglesias, 45, an account manager and 20-year employee with International Airport Management Inc., was identified as the ringleader of a trio that included her husband, Lazaro Iglesias, 47, and her co-worker, Malena Rodriguez.

All three were charged with organized fraud, grand theft and two counts of money laundering. Their bonds were set at $1 million each, and before posting bond they must prove the money they put up did not come from stolen airport revenue.

Since 1999, IAMI has contracted with Miami-Dade Aviation to operate Club America — an invitation-only waiting area at Miami International Airport that offers private work stations, Internet access, cable TV, showers and a complimentary full bar.

The arrest warrant claims that the Iglesias couple used the money to pay off a $546,008 American Express bill they ran up in two years.

Prosecutors say the money also was used for prepaid college accounts, and to pay off car loans and mortgages. Investigators identified $139,915 in a Bank of America account they said belongs to Rodriguez.

Fernandez Rundle said Elena Iglesias earned $52,000 a year as an account executive with IAMI and Rodriguez made $32,000. Airport officials said Lazaro Iglesias was an employee at the Miami airport until 1999, but were unable to determine exactly where he worked.

The trio remained in jail on Thursday and it was unknown whether they had retained attorneys. Miami-Dade County records show the Iglesiases live in a two-story, six- bedroom, six-bathroom, 6,870-square-foot home in Southwest Miami-Dade. The property was recently assessed at $1.4 million. Calls to the home went directly to voice mail.

The way the scam worked, according to prosecutors, was relatively simple: Airlines supply privileged passengers with vouchers to use at Club America. Passengers then would turn in those vouchers at the club entrance to IAMI, which would bill the airlines.

The airlines paid with company checks made out to IAMI, which was supposed to deposit those checks directly into an account belonging to Miami-Dade Aviation. But investigators found that for at least the past two years, the three were depositing about 20 percent of the total revenues received from airlines into personal accounts.

The investigation also found that the allegedly stolen money came from 11 airline carriers, including $1.1 million from Swiss International Airlines, $347,000 from Taca International Airlines and $279,000 from Virgin Atlantic Airlines.

Miami-Dade Police Det. Richard Wilkinson said the alleged theft was discovered two years ago when, during a surprise audit of IAMI, investigators found vouchers used to bill the airlines totaling $49,000 on the office floor at the airport. That prompted a full-out audit that led to the arrests.

“That number wasn’t in the books,” Wilkinson said.

Miami-Dade Aviation said the lounge operator, owned by Ali Ghraouli, had only about seven employees, and three of them were wait staff. IAMI’s contract earns Ghraouli about $200,000 a year, according to Miami-Dade Aviation.

Ghraouli couldn’t be reached Thursday.

Operations of Club America were recently handed over to LAN Airlines.

Miami-Dade Aviation Director Emilio Gonzalez said he has had issues with IAMI’s month-to-month contract and has lobbied County Hall to change the terms or rebid the deal. He said that he has been rebuffed.

“These are egregious crimes,” he said.

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Smith bill would help airports hurt by pilot shortages

Third District Congressman Adrian Smith Thursday introduced a bill that would assist small, rural airports which are being threatened by a pilot shortage. The issue has been caused in part by new federal regulations that require co-pilots to have at least 1,500 hours of flight time.

The Small Airport Regulation Relief Act of 2014 would require the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to use boarding numbers from calendar year 2012 when calculating annual funds for airports through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) for Fiscal Years 2015 and 2016. It would ensure those airports which reached 10,000 boardings in 2012 before the new regulations could use the boarding numbers from that year to obtain a million dollars in federal funds for safety projects, like taxiways, runways, aprons and other needs.

Western Nebraska Regional Airport as well as airports in North Platte, Kearney and Grand island have had the federal funding threatened by the pilot shortage issues.

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Seaplane operator feeling the pinch as work gets underway at Prince Rupert Airport

Construction work taking place at the Prince Rupert Airport may end up costing the community jobs.

The Prince Rupert Airport Authority sent out letters earlier this month outlining plans to start construction on July 21, construction that will reduce the length of the runway to less than 4,000 feet for a portion of the work.

That length is not suitable for private jets, which Inland Air owner Bruce MacDonald said has resulted in the redirection of flights for high-end clientele visiting fishing lodges in the region. Rather than landing in Prince Rupert and boarding a seaplane at Digby Island to reach the lodge, many of those flight will be landing in Sandspit where lodge patrons will board helicopters.

"I am looking at a loss of close to $100,000. I am probably going to have to lay off seven to eight people and I have a leased aircraft I am probably going to have to give back," he said.

"August is our busiest month. It's when we try to get our nut to get through the winter and then we get our throats cut like this ... I know our airport needs works and it needs to be done, just don't do it during the busiest month of the year."

Plans also call for the instrument landing system and the precision approach path indicator system to be disabled and, in the later part of the month, no airplanes other than "scheduled carriers" will be able to park at the airport.

Despite those changes, the biggest sticking point for MacDonald is a lack of consultation and a tight timeline, something he said eliminated any possible solution being found to keep the flights landing in Prince Rupert.

"Somebody made the decision to do this in August without consulting myself or any of the airport users ... and it is probably because there would have been such an outcry against this," he said.

Prince Rupert Airport manager Rick Reed said doing the project in August was necessitated by not only the type of work but by the timeframe imposed.

"The main thing is the weather period, though we do have a couple of constraints. Approximately 90 per cent of the $10 million from the federal government needs to be spent in this fiscal year and paving is weather sensitive ... if the weather is nice, it will take approximately 30 days to complete, so we couldn't risk getting into the wet fall period," he said, noting people knew the project was coming.

"People have known about this for three years. What we didn't know was the exact schedule, but we knew it would be during the summer time."

While the project is proceeding, Reed said the subject was one that the airport authority would be discussing in the future.

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Tear-down of old air traffic control tower begins at Calgary airport

CALGARY – Officials began the process of dismantling the former air traffic control tower at the Calgary International Airport on Thursday.

The 26-year-old building is being torn down by a state-of-the-art robot.

The tower stands 44 metres tall and supports a 414 square-foot office.

Thousands of successful aircraft arrivals and departures were managed from inside the tower, until the new control tower went into service in May of 2013.

The dismantling of the tower is scheduled for to be finished by October 31st.

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The old air traffic control tower at the Calgary International Airport, which opened in 1988. 
Global News

Lil Wayne Sued for $1 Million -Courthouse News Service

MIAMI (CN) - Rapper Lil Wayne and his company Young Money Entertainment owe more than $1 million for renting airplanes for his "jet setting around the globe," an aircraft rental company claims in a stinging complaint.

The Signature Group sued Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. (Lil Wayne) and his "putative" company Young Money Entertainment on Thursday in Miami-Dade County Court.

The 14-page lawsuit is acerbic, sometimes snide.

"As with many such artists, Mr. Carter appears to enjoy the finer things in life: expensive cars, a mansion in La Gorce Country Club on Miami Beach, and private aircraft travel for himself, his agents, and members of his entourage, to worldwide destinations of his choice," the complaint states.

It continues: "Naturally, the enjoyment of such luxuries is not free, and Mr. Carter and his putative Florida limited liability, defendant Young Money, have failed to live up to their obligations and now owe plaintiff, Signature Group, over one million dollars in fees and charges relating to Mr. Carter's jet-setting around the globe on private aircraft leased to him by plaintiff. The nature of this dispute is straightforward and there are dozens of written communication from Mr. Carter's agents, not only attesting to the existence of this debt, but also promising payment if plaintiff foregoes taking action against defendants. Simply put, Mr. Carter can choose to use the proceeds that he earns to live the life of a hip-hop star - but he has to pay his bills just like the rest of us."

The Signature Group demands money owed, and damages for breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

It is represented by Scott Konopka, with Mrachek, Fitzgerald, Rose, Konopka, Thomas & Rose, of Stuart, Fla.

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Federal Aviation Administration wants to speed up installation of new air-traffic control system at Newark, other airports

NEWARK — The FAA says it concurs with an unflattering federal report's recommendations for speeding implementation of a new satellite-based air traffic control system intended to improve safety and reduce delays.

The FAA has been gradually implementing elements of the new, so-called NextGen system to replace a radar-based system used since the end of World War II. NextGen incorporates global positioning technology similar to systems on smart phones and car dashboards, allowing air traffic controllers to track aircraft more precisely. The system's enhanced precision, say proponents, reduces the space and time between planes taking off or landing.

But a June 17 report by the U.S. Department of Transportation's inspector general's office concluded that adopting the new routes and procedures were lagging, most notably at Newark Liberty, John F. Kennedy International, and LaGuardia airports, which together make up the nation's busiest air space. The report surfaced publicly on Tuesday.

"Use of high-value procedures remains low, particularly at busy airports such as those in the New York City area," the report states.

For example, the report found that a "curved" approach pattern possible under NextGen was being employed for 1 percent of flights at Kennedy and LaGuardia, and for none at Newark Liberty.

In a response that the FAA made public today, the aviation agency said it was already taking steps consistent with the report's recommendation that it complete "an action plan" for overcoming obstacles to NextGen; develop a timeframe for streamlining new procedures under the system; and establish a process to gauge the success of the new procedures.

But, the FAA noted in its response, these things take time.

"There are challenges that must be understood and managed in order to realize the full benefits of PBN," the FAA said, referring to new routes and procedures collectively known as Performance-Based Navigation.

"In 2011, the FAA kicked off an effort to understand the challenges to implementing PBN and identify the methods the Agency could utilize to mitigate or eliminate the barriers altogether," the FAA added.

The agency may face yet another barrier to NextGen's implementation: residents subject to new or increased aircraft noise thanks to changes in approach patterns made possible by NextGen.

"While I understand the need to reduce delays in the congested airspace here, the FAA does not operate in a vacuum," said Susan Carroll, who lives in Flushing, N.Y., near LaGuardia, and is a member of Queens Quiet Skies. "These more 'efficient' flight paths have come at a great cost to those of us on the ground."

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6th Annual Wings and Wheels takes off at Ingalls Field Airport (KHSP) on Saturday

Wings and Wheels offers a lot of high flying fun this Saturday in a beautiful location.  It’s held at Ingalls Field, where the elevation is almost 3,800 feet.  It’s the highest public use general aviation airport east of the Mississippi and it provides a unique location for all of the activities.

Becky Skidmore, the Airport Manager at Ingalls Field, organizes the air show for Wings and Wheels.

“We have Tiger Airshows coming and they have a dueling act,” says Skidmore.  “They have two aircraft, a smoke ring generator and they have a competition to see who can get to go through the smoke rings.  And then the winner of that, it’s actually a surprise what’s going to happen after that.  And then we have an AT-6.  I think it’s a World War II  military aircraft that was for training purposes, but he’s going to be doing a solo performance.”

And several planes will be on display.  There will also be a skydiving team, plane acrobatics and Tony Royal will be there with his L-29 Jet.

“It’s a trainer jet that resembles a MIG, like a Russian type of military jet,” says Skidmore.  “He’s going to be doing low passes throughout the day and he’s also going to be a static display.”

Wings and Wheels will also feature a parachute jump for charity to raise money for the Bath County Christmas Mother.   You can vote with your donations and whoever receives the highest number of dollars donated will make the jump.  The contestants are Mark Nelson, Director of Bath County Parks and Recreation, Ashton Harrison, Bath’s County Administrator and Melinda Hooker, Band Director at Bath County High School.     

“I’m looking forward to seeing the jets because I love things that are really loud and fast,” says Skidmore.   “I’m really interested in who gets the jump for charity because I think that’s going to be funny.”

Also this year there will be more activities for children.  There will be carnival and arcade games, rides, rock climbing and bouncy houses along with plenty of food, music and vendors.

And the wheels in Wings and Wheels is a car show where you can vote for the People’s Choice and Kid’s Choice award winners.   And also new this year, a stunt motorcycle team, the 540 Boyz, will take to the runway to perform.

“There really isn’t anything around this area that brings so many different factors,” says Skidmore.  “You have the car people and then the car people like to come to car shows.  But then when they go to a car show, but gosh you know, we walk around and look at the cars.  But then when you throw some planes in there that are doing flips, you know, it’s entertaining.”

Wings and Wheels is Saturday, August 2, from noon to 6 at Ingalls Field in Hot Springs. Admission is $5 per person, $3 for ages 12 and under and it’s free for ages 3 and under.    

You can get more information on Wings and Wheels at, or by calling 540-839-7202.

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Get ready for Thunder In The Valley Airshow Nelson 2014

Thunder In The Valley Airshow Nelson 2014 officially kicks off Saturday at 10:45 a.m. with opening ceremonies.

But according to Airshow Nelson 2014 chair, Case Grypma, local aviation buffs should gear up for some mid-air practice runs as soon as Thursday afternoon as early arrivals prepare for Saturday’s show

“The bulk of the planes arrive Friday, but the early arrivals Thursday will be going through some practice runs in the afternoon,” Grypma said on the eve of what promises to be an amazing weekend spotlighting aviation in Nelson.

“Friday, the bulk of the planes arrive for demos in preparation for Saturday’s main show.

Grypma said everything is falling into place in regards to Thunder In The Valley Airshow Nelson 2014.

A host of volunteers have climbed aboard the show to help make the event a success with food vendors lining up awaiting the arrival of spectators to the Nelson Airport.

As for the performers, Grypma said the public is going to be impressed female pilot Anna Serbinenko, who is flying Canadian Flight Centre’s Super Decathlon — a plane built by American Champion Aircraft for the purpose of aerobatic training.

“Being a female pilot, which is not very common, Anna Serbinenko performs a show call “SkyDancer” that has been opening to rave reviews on the airshow circuit she’s performed at,” Grypma explained.

Other aircrafts Nelson Pilots Association are pleased to welcome is the North American Aviation T-28 Trojan, a piston-engine military trainer aircraft used by the U.S. Navy and Airforce beginning in the 1950s operated by Peter Herzig and the Sailplane Glider piloted by Paul Hajduk.

“Nelson is a very unique venue for an airshow. . .. There’s really not other place like it in the entire country,” Grypma said.

“(Nelson) is situated in a narrow, remote valley but luckily enough we have a lake, and that lake is mostly unoccupied so performers can do aerobatics right over top of the water.”

Grypma said the main “aerobatic box” extends from west of the (Big) Orange Bridge to about the (Kootenay Lake) Yacht Club so there really is no bad seat in the house.

“I definitely encourage people to come down to the airport because there’s a lot to see and do,” Grypma said. “This is a very grass roots, family orientated event allowing the public to get up close to the pilots and aircraft.”

The airshow culminates Saturday afternoon with the Nelson Pilots Association Heritage City Club Air Race.

The course will see five planes covering a five-lap course taking organizers from the Nelson side of Grohman Narrows to Troupe Junction.

For safety reasons, Grypma said from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Kootenay Lake west of the Big Orange Bridge to adjacent the airport, as well as the Nelson Dog Walk, will be closed to traffic.

Boaters will be able to watch near the shoreline but the middle of the lake will be off limits to all sea craft and patrolled by Beasley Water Rescue Team.

See full Thunder In The Valley Airshow Nelson 2014 schedule in PDF listed below.
Attachment    Size
flightfest_tri_fold_2014_2.pdf    2.75 MB

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Federal Aviation Administration proposes $428,000 civil penalty against Air Methods Corp

(Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Thursday it is proposing a $428,000 civil penalty against Air Methods Corp of Englewood, Colorado, for operating two helicopters that were not in compliance with federal aviation regulations.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it alleges Air Methods, which provides emergency air ambulance services, failed to perform inspections of their Night Vision Imaging System Compatible Lighting Filtration installations.

Federal Aviation Administration  said Air Methods has 30 days from the receipt of an enforcement letter to respond to the agency.

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Waterloo Regional Airport (KALO) director departs for new job

WATERLOO | The director of the Waterloo Regional Airport is leaving after just six months to take a new position in Minnesota.

Mike Wilson, took the reins in Waterloo Feb. 18, has resigned his post effective Aug. 29 to become manager of reliever airports serving the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

"One of the airports is 37 minutes from my in-laws and 38 minutes from my parents," Wilson said. "It's pretty hard to pass that up.

"It had nothing to do with the airport here," he added. "The staff out there is doing a great job and I really love the area and the people here."

Wilson came to Waterloo after three years directing the Aberdeen Regional Airport in South Dakota. He had interviewed for the job in Minneapolis at the same time he was applying in Waterloo.

"One of my friends got the job back then, but it didn't work out for her," said Wilson, who was then contacted about filling the position managing two of the six reliever airports serving MSP International.

Wilson said he was confident in the future of the Waterloo airport, which has seen passenger numbers improve while new sources of revenue are helping the city avoid property tax subsidies. The city is currently purchasing new equipment and making hangar improvements with federal grants.

Mayor Buck Clark said he accepted Wilson's resignation "reluctantly."

"He was doing an incredibly good job and we hate to see him go," Clark said.

The City Council's human resources committee will be asked Monday to approve the hiring process for a new director, which Clark said should go much more quickly than it did when Wilson was hired.

"We're going to follow the same process we did the last time but the job description is already set," Clark said. "It's our fervent hope that we can get somebody quickly."

The city retained Austin, Texas-based Trillion Aviation to run the airport after former director Brad Hagen resigned in 2013. Clark said he hopes an interim consultant will not be needed this time.

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Thousands of Newark, LaGuardia, JFK airport workers to get raises today

NEWARK — Thousands of low-paid cabin cleaners, baggage handlers and other airport workers are due for a raise today at Newark Liberty International Airport, where a mandatory wage policy is scheduled to take effect.

A policy adopted by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in April calls for $1-per-hour raises for airport workers earning $9 an hour or less, effective today. On Feb. 1, a $10.10-an-hour minimum wage will take effect under the policy, followed a year later by annual increments pegged to inflation.

The policy applies to airline employees and to the employees of low-paying firms that airlines contract with to provide ground services. Those firms, which often pay minimum wage with few or no benefits, have proliferated in recent years in the highly competitive, deregulated airline industry as a way for airlines to cut costs.

Advocates of the wage policy say it will apply to 3,700 contract workers for United Airlines just at Newark Liberty. The wage policy also applies to thousands of workers at New York's John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports, and Port Authority officials say they plan to expand the policy eventually to the agency's other facilities.

Direct employees of the Port Authority all make more than the wages established in the new policy, which also calls for a paid holiday for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

Unlike some other carriers at JFK and LaGuardia, United did not embrace the policy voluntarily ahead of the effective date. But while United has questioned the legality of the policy, it has not challenged it up to this point.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for United reiterated a company statement issued earlier this month: “United already pays wages at the airports that will meet this new rule. United expects United suppliers to meet all applicable laws and regulations.” 

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Airport commission, county commission clash in court: Martha's Vineyard (KMVY), Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts

Attorneys for the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission and the Dukes County Commission presented oral arguments in Dukes County Superior Court Tuesday in connection with the latest lawsuit sparked by a long-running dispute over control of the county-owned Martha’s Vineyard Airport and its operations.

In a 13-page civil complaint filed May 5, airport commission lawyers from the Cambridge law firm of Anderson & Kreiger asked the court to prohibit county officials from seeking to “unlawfully interfere with, and obstruct the functioning,” of the Airport Commission. The seven members of the airport commission are appointed by the elected members of the seven-member county commission.

The complaint is based on two ongoing disputes that are only the latest eruptions in the lengthy history of county efforts to exercise control over the county-owned airport. Over the objections of airport officials, county treasurer Noreen Mavro Flanders has refused to pay airport invoices approved by the airport commission and she has publicly released invoice details the airport considers confidential. And on April 23, the county commissioners recognized county manager Martina Thornton as an ex-officio member of the Airport Commission.

Airport lawyers asked the judge to issue injunctions to prohibit the county commission from naming the county manager an ex-officio member; prohibit the manager from sitting on the airport commission; prohibit the county treasurer from refusing to pay airport invoices; and prohibit the treasurer from releasing confidential information she had obtained between the airport commission and its attorneys.

In its answer to the lawsuit, filed May 30, the county commission made a series of counterclaims, including a request for the court to declare that the airport is under the jurisdiction of Dukes County, as a subdivision and department of the county, according to Massachusetts law. The county commission also asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order prohibiting the airport commission from submitting invoices without proper documentation. The county commission asked the court to dismiss the airport commission’s complaint, and award the county commission costs to defend itself, with interest.

In a hearing before Associate Justice Richard Chin in Dukes County Superior Court on July 29, attorney David Mackey of Anderson & Kreiger was first to make his case for the injunctions and declaratory judgement.

“This is much more urgent than it was when we brought this case,” Mr. Mackey told the court. “The county’s position has become more extreme. The county commission is attempting to take control of the airport.”

Mr. Mackey said Chapter 90 of the Massachusetts General Laws give the airport commission sole authority for custody, care, and management of the county-owned airport. He said the grant assurances signed by the county commission and the county manager with each round of state and federal funding make it clear that the county commission is prohibited from depriving or diminishing the powers of the airport commission. He also argued that a 2006 court ruling known as the Weibrecht decision reaffirmed the airport commission’s role as a body independent of county government with sole responsibility for the airport’s financial affairs.

“There is some considerable urgency about clearing up this issue about who is running the show,” Mr. Mackey said. He cited language from the law, the grant assurances, and the Weibrecht decision in support of the airport commission’s claim that each overrules the state law and county charter, when there is a conflict.

Judge Chin questioned the airport commission attorney about his requests for immediate injunctions.

“What is the urgency,” Judge Chin asked. “After reading his (the county commission attorney’s) submissions, are you going to turn the keys of the airport over to him?”

Mr. Mackey also argued that an immediate injunction was necessary to prevent the county treasurer from releasing invoices and other documents which could compromise the airport commission’s right to keep communications with its attorneys confidential.

Judge Chin also questioned whether an injunction was warranted on that issue.

“Part of the problem is the lawyers,” Judge Chin said. “Why are they just handing over privileged communication? The attorneys bear some responsibility. It doesn’t sound like you need a court order to prevent these communications. I don’t want this court used as a tool by which information is kept from people. I’m not going to interject myself in this controversy. that’s not the role of this court.”

Attorney Robert Troy of the Sandwich law firm Troy Wall Associates represented the county commission at the hearing. He characterized the disagreement between the two commissions as a political dispute. He said no injunction is warranted to prevent the county manager from sitting as an ex-officio member of the airport commission, because the provision is included in state law. He said “one person sitting at the table who has no vote, for an airport that is owned by Dukes County,” is not an attempt to diminish the airport commission’s authority.

“The real issues, that are petty issues, are due to improper practices of the airport commission,” Mr. Troy told the court. “This is about a very petty and illegal practice. The airport commission has been approving invoices that have no detail.”

As an example, he offered an invoice from a law firm in Colorado that he said the airport commission had retained.

“It says 3.4 hours at $525 per hour,” he said. “What was the work done? T-R-D, that’s all it says. The airport commission should have been communicating with the treasurer and not coming to court.”

Judge Chin noted that all the invoices were eventually paid.

“It seems to me there is no controversy before me about the bills,” Judge Chin said. “There are procedures in place to pay the bills. It sounds like the matter has been resolved. What would I rule on?”

All the parties in the lawsuit were present in the courtroom Tuesday, listening intently to the hearing. Also present was Tracy Klay, chief counsel for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Aeronautical Division. He said the issues in the case are important to state regulators, no matter what the decision.

Judge Chin told the attorneys he will take the matters under advisement and issue a written ruling.

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Judge Richard Chin. 
Photo by Steve Myrick 
Airport commission attorney David Mackey (standing) shares a document with county commission attorney Robert Troy in Dukes County Superior Court.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Sky's The Limit For Watertown International Airport's Future

The 50-set jet touches down and a nearly full load of passengers steps off. 

But these flights aren't the only service taking off at the Watertown International Airport. 

Private jet service is, too.

Planes big and small, landing and leaving, bodes well for the bottom line.

"With all this traffic, you increase fuel sales, hangar revenue, which we were currently out of space. There's a waiting list for hangars," said Phil Reed, chair of the county legislature's General Services Committee.

That's why the airport has been busy adding on with $22 million worth of projects since Jefferson County took it over six years ago.

"Over 95 percent of it has been funded by grants," said Reed.

A big new hangar is just about finished and a new business center will cater to private flights.

"It will add a location for business meetings and executives to meet as well as a location for family members who have loved ones flying in on small aircraft," said Grant Sussey, airport manager.

A taxiway is being overhauled and a 1,000-foot runway extension could happen next year.

The county's long term goal is to make the airport financially self-sufficient.

"That's the extremely long-term goal," said Reed.

One that still might be ten years or so down the road - or in this case, the runway.

New hangar under way at Schenectady County Airport (KSCH), New York

Schenectady County and Richmor Aviation officials will gather at 11 a.m. Thursday for a “steel going up” ceremony at the Schenectady County Airport in Glenville. Richmor is building a 20,000-square-foot, $1.2 million hangar to accommodate its growing private aviation business there.

“So many new technology ventures are within minutes of this airport,” said Mahlon Richards, president of the Columbia County-based Richmor, said in a release first announcing the project late last summer. “Our vision is to bring more corporate jet management, jet charter and maintenance to the site.

“It is a convenient location and is perfect for time-critical flights that local technology companies require to visit their national or international affiliates,” he added.

Richmor, in addition to Schenectady County and Columbia County airports, also has operations at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh.

Richmor is the Schenectady County Airport’s fixed-base operator, providing fuel and other support services. It also offers a flight school for pilots in association with Schenectady County Community College, as well as supporting the college’s air traffic controller program based at the airport.

The airport, owned by Schenectady County, is also home to the Stratton Air National Guard Base, an Armed Forces Reserve Center, an airport business park and the county’s ice hockey rink.

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World War II vet Kronenberg treated to flight in Oshkosh

World War II veteran Harold “Diz” Kronenberg had nothing but superlatives in describing his flight Tuesday morning in a P-51 Mustang fighter jet.

 “The whole day was emotional, very emotional,” Kronenberg, 89, of Eau Claire said Tuesday night about his ride with pilot Cowden Ward of Burnet, Texas, part of the nonprofit Freedom Flyers group that offers free rides to veterans.

“The flight was fantastic,” he said about the 20-minute experience at the EAA AirVenture 2014 in Oshkosh. “My goodness, I thought I was a rock star. They were all so good to us.

“The airplane ride, well, it was a fantastic ride, and the pilot turned it up a bit at the end and did a few little tricks, which was fun. It was a really great time.”

After Kronenberg’s flight, WWII vet Doug Ward of Mondovi got a flight.

“Everything went just super,” added Kronenberg, who was a B-17 gunner in the war. “They had a B-17 at the air show, so I had to go over there and talk to the pilot and others. Let’s just say there were a lot of stories, a million questions and I got a chance to talk with people I hadn’t seen in a long time.”

When asked again about the P-51 flight in the near perfect weather conditions, Kronenberg said, “I think I could have flown it, it was so smooth. I think the pilot did a little dive and pulled out a little to get a little G-force just to satisfy me.”

Kronenberg, who played several weeks with the Eau Claire Bears in the Northern League in 1942, wore an Eau Claire baseball hat during the flight.

Chance to give back
Cowden Ward, in an interview Monday, said he bought a P-51 a few years ago “and just got on a mission to fly every one of the World War II vets that we can get our hands on. Everyone who wants a ride gets one.

“It’s just something we want to do to give back to the greatest generation,” added Ward, 69, who didn’t serve in the military. “It’s the only way I know I can provide them something that the guy next door couldn’t maybe do.”

Kronenberg was driven to Oshkosh early Tuesday by retired Eau Claire County Judge Ben Proctor.

“He was so excited. It seemed to mean a lot to him,” Proctor said after the flight. “It was fantastic to be a part of, in a small way. I’m so glad for Diz to get the chance to do this. I think there were a lot of memories brought back by the flight and seeing all the other planes there.”

Family aids effort

Kronenberg’s trip was organized by his niece and nephew, Deanna and Tom Horn of Austin, Texas.

“It all worked out well,” Tom Horn said Tuesday. “We are so thrilled that we could get Uncle Diz on that flight.”

Tom Horn, an 11-year Air Force veteran, is involved with Honor Flight Austin, which gets WWII veterans trips to Washington. He’d heard of the Freedom Flyers and started coordinating efforts to get Kronenberg a ride in the P-51.

“It was just a streak of good luck that all this fell in place,” Tom Horn said. “We are so glad for him. This is so great!”

Ball turret gunner

Kronenberg enlisted in the war effort upon turning 18 and eventually served as a ball turret gunner in the cramped space at the bottom of the plane where he operated 50-caliber machine guns capable of firing 1,100 rounds per minute.

Before that, he had one session in an advanced training fighter jet in Las Vegas, causing him to bring along a bag for Tuesday’s ride.

“In that first ride in Vegas, I vomited all over the generator,” Kronenberg said with a laugh. “I got airsick. You go out on a hot day and the turbulence and colder air over the mountains caused me some problems. When we got back down, I got sick all over again and later had to clean it all up.”

Kronenberg said he’d already flown two missions out of Tunisia, 19 out of Italy and 20 out of England before the P-51s entered the scene. His last mission was the day before D-Day — the war’s turning point on June 6, 1944, in which Allied forces stormed Normandy, France, and marched across Europe to defeat the Nazis and Adolf Hitler the following spring.

New book coming out

Kronenberg, a staff sergeant, earned the Distinguished Service Medal, a Distinguished Flying Cross, two Presidential Unit Citations and an Air Medal with seven oak leaf clusters. He went on to become a renowned and respected athlete, teacher and coach in Eau Claire, and his eighth book is soon to be released.

“When I got back, I wanted to sign up as a cadet and get in as a fighter pilot. I passed the written test but the war was coming to a close, so I never got the chance,” Kronenberg said.

“I have a lot of memories and have been fortunate to be involved in a lot of things over the years,” he said. “Tuesday was another one to remember.”

- Source:

Contributed photo 
Kronenberg honored for service World War II veteran Harold “Diz” Kronenberg of Eau Claire rides in the jump seat behind pilot Cowden Ward Tuesday morning for a flight in Ward’s WWII P-51 Mustang fighter at EAA AirVenture 2014 in Oshkosh. Ward, with the Texas-based Freedom Flyers, offers veterans free flights to acknowledge their service. Kronenberg, 89, was a B-17 gunner in the war.

Rockwell Commander 114B, 2-ROAM: Fatal accident occurred December 03, 2015 in Lancashire, England, United Kingdom

NTSB Identification: CEN16WA051
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Thursday, December 03, 2015 in Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
Aircraft: ROCKWELL 114, registration:
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On December 3, 2015, about 0911 hours universal coordinated time, a Rockwell model 114B airplane, United Kingdom registration 2-ROAM, impacted the Irish Sea while on approach to the Blackpool Airport, Lancashire, England. The pilot was fatally injured. The flight departed the Ronaldsway Airport on the Isle of Man.

The accident investigation is under the jurisdiction and control of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). This report is for informational purposes only, and contains only information released by or obtained from the government of the United Kingdom.

Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:
Air Accidents Investigation Branch
Farnborough House
Berkshire Copse Road
Aldershot, Hampshire
GU11 2HH, United Kingdom
Tel: +44(0) 1252 510300


The aircraft was on a VFR flight from Ronaldsway to Blackpool. A bank of low cloud was moving out to sea, and analysis of the radar track found that, coincident with encountering this cloud, the aircraft descended and its speed reduced until it disappeared from radar. Intensive SAR efforts did not locate the aircraft or pilot.

The available evidence suggests that the aircraft may have stalled at a height from which recovery was not possible.

History of the flight

The aircraft took off from Isle of Man (Ronaldsway) aerodrome at 0836 hrs on a private VFR flight to Blackpool. Radar and RTF recordings were used to establish the history of the flight after departure from Ronaldsway; no other evidence was available. The Blackpool TAF predicted the lowest visibility around the aircraft’s time of arrival would be 1,400 m, in heavy rain, with broken cloud 300 ft above the aerodrome.

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Boeing 737: Incident occurred December 06, 2016 in Darwin, Australia

NTSB Identification: DCA17WA045
Incident occurred Tuesday, December 06, 2016 in Darwin, Australia
Aircraft: BOEING 737, registration:
Injuries: Unavailable

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has notified the NTSB of an incident involving a Boeing 737 airplane that occurred on December 06, 2016. The NTSB has appointed a U.S. Accredited Representative to assist the ATSB's investigation under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13 as the State of Manufacturer and Design of the airplane.

All investigative information will be released by the ATSB.

Half of air traffic controller job offers go to people with no aviation experience

Less than 4 percent of the more than 22,000 members of the general public with no aviation background who applied this year to become air-traffic controllers have passed new tests designed to increase off-the-street hiring, but they were offered slightly more than half of the roughly 1,600 new controller slots in the current job pool, the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday.

Students and graduates of FAA-accredited collegiate air-traffic control programs, meanwhile, were offered slightly less than half of the controller jobs, the FAA said.

The hiring breakdown marks a major shift in FAA recruitment strategy, which is now geared toward trying to keep ahead of a wave of controller retirements while also attracting more minorities and women to the nation’s airport towers and radar facilities, officials have said.

For almost the last 25 years, until the off-the-street hiring process was implemented in February, the FAA recruited controllers heavily from among military veterans possessing aviation experience and from the 36 FAA-approved college aviation programs across the U.S., the Tribune reported this spring.

Those two groups must now compete against the general public, and the first phase to trim the list of potential controller candidates centers on a controversial biographical assessment.

Under the revised program, the pass rate for the almost 6,000 aviation students and graduates was about 13 percent, the FAA said.

Critics of the FAA’s new controller recruitment process said that rate – while three times higher than for other applicants – was significantly reduced because of the biographical assessment, which weeded out many applicants before they had an opportunity to take the traditional air-traffic control tests that assess knowledge and aptitude for working in the fast-paced, high-tension world of directing planes.

Some aviation experts said the FAA’s move to increase diversity in its controller work force by hiring candidates with no prior aviation experience could compromise flight safety and lead to a high wash-out rate among the new hires.

Members of Congress have sought assurances from the FAA that safety will not be impaired, and the lawmakers also blasted the FAA for a “lack of transparency’’ in the new controller hiring policy.

The biographical assessment consisted of 62 multiple-choice questions, many of which mirrored questions in a personality test. It included questions about how peers would describe the individual and the age at which the person started to earn money.

Critics, who included faculty of college controller training programs, said the online biographical assessment included no safeguards to ensure that the job applicant was actually the same person who took the assessment.

FAA officials defended the switch, saying the biographical assessment helped the agency “select from a larger pool of qualified applicants than under past vacancy announcements” and reduced testing and training costs.

“The bio-data assessment served its intended purpose of screening a large pool of applicants into a smaller group of the best candidates,” an FAA statement issued Wednesday said.

The FAA said it received more than 28,000 applications, including about 22,500 applications from the general public, of which 837 passed and were offered jobs.

Applicants with controller training in college programs “did very well,’’ FAA spokeswoman Kristie Greco said, pointing to the 754 jobs offered to air-traffic control students and graduates.

About 65 percent of the new class of controller candidates has “some combination of (collegiate controller training), military or some specific aviation-related work history or experience,’’ Greco said.

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Boeing to build 787-10 exclusively in North Charleston

 Boeing Co. soon will assemble all three versions of the 787 Dreamliner at its non-unionized plant in North Charleston.

The Chicago-based aerospace giant said Wednesday it will produce the 787-10 - the largest version of the popular, back-ordered commercial jetliner - exclusively at its factory beside Charleston International Airport.

The expansion won't result in any new jobs or new buildings, a company official said. But at least one aviation analyst says the airplane manufacturer will have to boost its work force to meet increased production goals while introducing a new line.

The 787-10 is the longest of the twin-aisle Dreamliner family, and the announcement of its construction here has been expected for months.

It also means Boeing will be producing a full line of one commercial jetliner for the first time away from a unionized plant.

Design of the 787-10 is underway in Everett, Wash., with final assembly of the first 787-10 scheduled to begin in South Carolina in 2017.

"We looked at all our options and found the most efficient and effective solution is to build the 787-10 at Boeing South Carolina," said Larry Loftis, vice president and general manager of the 787 program for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

"This will allow us to balance 787 production across the North Charleston and Everett sites as we increase production rates," he said. "We're happy with our growth and success in South Carolina, and the continued success at both sites gives us confidence in our plan going forward."

Boeing will continue to assemble both 787-8s and 787-9s in Everett and North Charleston. The North Charleston site currently fully assembles the 787-8 at a rate of three a month and will begin full assembly of the larger 787-9 in the fall.

Currently, the rear fuselage sections for all Dreamliners are produced in North Charleston, and midbodies, or center fuselage sections, are integrated from parts made elsewhere. Those parts are flown to Washington state for assembly into the 787-8 and 787-9. Everett produces seven Dreamliners a month.
Midbody decision

The 787-10 will be 18 feet longer than the 787-9 and carry 323 passengers, 33 percent more than the 787-8 and 15 percent more than the 787-9.

Because 10 feet of the 787-10's increase is in the midbody fuselage section, the 787-10 midbody is too long to be transported efficiently from North Charleston to the Everett facility for final assembly, Loftis said.

Aviation analysts for months have been saying the increased size of the 787-10 would not allow it to be transported to Everett, and North Charleston would be selected for full production.

"It wasn't really that big a surprise that Charleston would get the nod for the 787-10," said Saj Ahmad, an aviation analyst with StrategicAero Research. "The center section is simply too long to transport cost-effectively to the Puget Sound factory, and given the heavy capital investment at its South Carolina plant, it always made commercial sense to keep the 787-10 in the Lowcountry."

Because of decreased unfinished parts being flown to Everett from North Charleston in recent months and a concerted effort by Boeing to drive down production costs, Ahmad said the company's announcement means it believes in the South Carolina plant.

"Charleston's continuous (improvement in its) learning curve gives Boeing confidence that South Carolina has the experience and backing to tackle and deliver the 787-10 on time in 2018," he said. "If the 787-10 should encounter any angst, you can pretty much bet your buck that Boeing will pull out all the stops again to ensure that disruption, if any, is minimized."

Boeing has 7,500 employees at its North Charleston operation, including hundreds of contract workers brought in earlier this year.


Boeing recently leased nearly 500 additional acres between International Boulevard and Dorchester Road from the state to expand operations, but Loftis said adding the new line will not mean any new jobs or expansion of current buildings in North Charleston.

"I don't see any significant increase in jobs," Loftis said. "The higher rates will be driving manufacturing productivity. It's great news because it means we can stay competitive in the marketplace."

He also said the recent building expansions in North Charleston can handle the capacity. "There is nothing new on the horizon," Loftis said.

Boeing has started ground work on the site for the new paint facility, where all 787s will be painted in customers' logos, including the 787-10 when it rolls off the assembly line in 2018.

But Ahmad said Boeing will have no choice but to boost its labor force in North Charleston at some point.

"The challenge is increasing productivity with the existing work pool, which I doubt can be sustained without more workers," he said.

To fill more than 1,000 787 orders and the possibility of future commitments, Ahmad said, "Boeing will at some point have to add more employees to manage that workload."

The 787 production rate will increase to 12 airplanes per month in 2016 and 14 per month by the end of the decade.

The Everett facility will continue to assemble seven airplanes per month, while Boeing South Carolina final assembly will gradually increase from three 787s per month today to five per month in 2016 and seven per month by the end of the decade.

More than 165 Dreamliners have been delivered to 21 customers around the globe. Since its launch in June 2013, the 787-10 has won 132 orders from six global customers.

'Terrific vote of confidence'

Gov. Nikki Haley, who privately toured the North Charleston factory Monday, called Boeing's announcement "huge" for South Carolina.

"That Boeing is committing the future of the Dreamliner to our state - the first place ever outside of Washington state that Boeing has built a commercial airplane - lets the whole world know that South Carolina workers are the best around. The success that Boeing South Carolina has become in less than five years is a testament to the Boeing leadership and, above all, the Boeing employees whose talent and dedication make all of us so proud."

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham called the announcement "a terrific vote of confidence in the South Carolina work force."

"It will solidify Boeing's position in South Carolina and continue to draw suppliers to South Carolina, which will create more jobs," Graham, R-S.C., said.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., called Boeing's decision "a testament to our role in leading the nation's manufacturing renaissance. Their decision speaks to how South Carolina is bringing together our state's skilled work force and advanced American-based manufacturing. This combination is creating good-paying jobs and contributing to our growing economy."

More funds to train?

To help educate workers for the burgeoning aerospace industry in the Lowcountry, Trident Technical College hopes to build a $79 million aeronautical training center on its North Charleston campus.

"The expansion announcement highlights the urgency of moving forward with our plans," Trident Tech President Mary Thornley said. "This is part of the future we are training students to be ready for. The future is now."

The school has raised nearly $38 million so far for the center from state and local governments as well as TTC.

S.C. Rep. Chip Limehouse, a member of the budget-writing House Ways and Means Committee which helped commit $10 million toward the center earlier this year, said Boeing's decision to produce the new Dreamliner in North Charleston will bolster the school's fundraising campaign.

"We want South Carolinians to take the jobs that are being created," he said.

Union activity

The International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers union, which is trying to organize the North Charleston factory, said Boeing's decision may help its efforts.

"Stepped-up production may bring increased interest to unionization," union spokesman Frank Larkin said. "Forced overtime is already a hot issue among Boeing employees in South Carolina."

The union is still in the card-collecting stage of getting enough workers to sign up before a vote can be taken, but Larkin said interest is increasing.

In Seattle, local union President Jon Holden told The Seattle Times, "While we are not surprised, we are certainly disappointed to see Boeing make this decision."

The newspaper's take on the announcement: "It makes clearer the profound impact of Boeing's 2009 decision to bypass its unionized stronghold in Washington state in favor of building a second 787 assembly line in non-union South Carolina: Dreamliner final assembly will in six years be equally divided between the East and West Coast sites."

Boeing South Carolina workers hailed the announcement as a good omen for the plant.

Contract worker Augustine Greene said it's more convenient for the company to build the 787-10 Dreamliner in North Charleston than in Washington state, in part due to the massive size of the plane.

"It's an advantage for not just the city, but the state," he said. "For the residents, it'll bring more employment and more work."

Another worker who asked not to be identified said, "I'm not sure how it would impact the production rate around here, or whether we'd have to expand, but it's good news for us."

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Last surviving member of Enola Gay crew to drop atomic bomb on Hiroshima dies in Georgia

ATLANTA (AP) -- The last surviving member of the crew that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, hastening the end of World War II and forcing the world into the atomic age, has died in Georgia.

Theodore VanKirk, also known as "Dutch," died Monday of natural causes at the retirement home where he lived in Stone Mountain, Georgia, his son Tom VanKirk said. He was 93.

VanKirk flew nearly 60 bombing missions, but it was a single mission in the Pacific that secured him a place in history. He was 24 years old when he served as navigator on the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the first atomic bomb deployed in wartime over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

He was teamed with pilot Paul Tibbets and bombardier Tom Ferebee in Tibbets' fledgling 509th Composite Bomb Group for Special Mission No. 13.

The mission went perfectly, VanKirk told The Associated Press in a 2005 interview. He guided the bomber through the night sky, just 15 seconds behind schedule, he said. As the 9,000-pound bomb nicknamed "Little Boy" fell toward the sleeping city, he and his crewmates hoped to escape with their lives.

-  Source:

FILE - In this Aug. 6, 1945 file photo, the "Enola Gay" Boeing B-29 Superfortress lands at Tinian, Northern Mariana Islands after the U.S. atomic bombing mission against the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Tom VanKirk says his 93-year-old father, the last surviving member of the Enola Gay crew, died in Stone Mountain, Ga. on Monday, July 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Max Desfor) (Associated Press file)

Port Clinton, Ohio: Liberty Aviation Museum, historic Ford Tri-Motor highlight aviation history in a boater's town

Port Clinton, Ohio – This town is perhaps best known for its prime location on the Lake Erie shore, a frequent destination for boaters.

But not too long ago, it was known for another mode of transportation – air travel.

Island Airlines, founded in 1930, was among the nation's longest-running commercial airlines when it ceased operating in 1985. It also had one of the smallest service areas: Twice-a-day flights from Port Clinton to Put-in-Bay, Kelleys, Middle Bass and North Bass islands.

Island Air famously used the Ford Tri-Motor, the nation's first mass-produced commercial airplane, to haul cargo – schoolchildren, groceries, mail "and the occasional pregnant woman," according to a 1950s-era video clip – from island to mainland (and vice versa).

The airplane, which Henry Ford pulled from production in 1932, hasn't flown regularly from Port Clinton in nearly 30 years.

That will change this summer, with the arrival last week of the "City of Wichita," a historic plane that took part in the nation's first transcontinental air-rail service, flying the Columbus to Oklahoma link in a 1929 New York-to-California route.

The plane was recently purchased by the Liberty Aviation Museum, which plans to showcase the vehicle at its Port Clinton campus – that is, when the airplane isn't traveling the country, taking aviation buffs into the sky for joy rides.

"It will be an ambassador for the region," said Jeff Sondles, operations director for the museum.

Sondles said the significance of the City of Wichita to commercial aviation is comparable to the importance of the Memphis Belle and Enola Gay to World War II-era aircraft.

Its purchase comes two years after the museum first opened its doors, funded by a foundation created after the death of George V. Woodling Jr., a Cleveland-area history and aviation buff who died in 2010.

"What a wonderful way to celebrate," said Sondles, "by bringing the Ford Tri-Motor back where it belongs in Port Clinton, Ohio."

The City of Wichita will be the museum's second Tri-Motor – there were only 199 built, before Henry Ford pulled the plug on the company's aviation division – though the first one is not fly-worthy yet.

It's being restored – reconstructed might be a more accurate word – inside the museum, which is on the grounds of the Erie-Ottawa International Airport, the same airport where Island Air used to operate.

The small museum divides its space between two primary themes: the Tri-Motor and local aviation history, and military aviation history with an Ohio slant.

Also onsite: a terrific restaurant in a 1950s-era diner, relocated from Jim Thorpe, Pa. It's called the Tin Goose, which was a nickname for the all-metal Tri-Motor.

Among the museum's more interesting historical displays:

* A beautifully restored B-25 Mitchell bomber, dubbed Georgie's Gal, named after Woodling. The plane, built in 1945, wasn't used in the war, but for training afterward. It's painted with a female devil on one side (Helena) and angel on the other (Angela).

* A glass case filled with World War II memorabilia from actor and Ohio native Clark Gable, a major in the U.S. Army Air Forces. Among the items: his AAF jacket and his separation papers, signed by Ronald Reagan, then a captain in the Army Air Forces. Gable, born in Cadiz, enlisted at age 41, only after the death of his wife, Carole Lombard, who was killed in a plane crash in January 1942.

* Mementoes from Lenny Thom, the Sandusky native who was John Kennedy's second in command on PT 109, the Navy boat that was destroyed by the Japanese in August 1943 in the Solomon Islands. Both Thom and Kennedy were credited with the subsequent rescue of the surviving members of the crew, and awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. Kennedy served as a pallbearer at the Youngstown funeral of Thom, who died in a car crash in 1946.

The museum is in the final stages of restoring a 72-foot-long PT boat, named Thomcat, after Thom. The boat, built in 1945, should be available for rides on Lake Erie later this summer, according to Sondles.

Eventually, museum officials plan to separate the exhibits focusing on military history from those concentrating on local aviation, which include displays in the works on the Cleveland National Air Races (precursor to today's Cleveland National Air Show), Islands Air and the Tri-Motor.

The Tri-Motor was Ford's airborne version of his Model T, an attempt to bring air travel to the masses. Ford also is credited with developing the first modern airport, the first concrete runway and the first airport hotel, all in Dearborn, Michigan.

Island Airlines acquired its first Tri-Motor in 1946, and eventually had four in service. The planes held 10 passengers, plus a pilot and copilot.

Doug Moore, chief mechanic working on the museum's Tri-Motor restoration, said the aircraft was "like a school bus, only narrower."

The historic, flying bus has returned to Port Clinton. Nostalgic passengers and curious onlookers, no doubt, will follow.

Liberty Aviation Museum

Where: 3515 E. State Road, Port Clinton, about an 80-minute drive from Cleveland. Take Ohio 2 west to Ohio 53 north; turn left on E. State Road and the museum is on the right. 

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 

How much: $5, free for ages 14 and underTin Goose Diner: The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner (7 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday). Menu items include the B-25 (buttermilk biscuits with sausage gravy) and the Tri-Motor Burger (with fried salami, bacon and provolone).

City of Wichita Ford Tri-Motor: The airplane will be based in Port Clinton, but will travel around the country, offering rides at air shows and other events. Call the museum or check the website for the airplane’s schedule., 419-732-0234 

Flying to the Lake Erie islands: You won’t travel in a historic Ford Tri-Motor, but Griffing Flying Service, which bought Island Airlines in the 1990s, offers regular flights to the islands from the Port Clinton airport. For information: 419-734-5400

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Story and Photo Gallery:

A restored World War II-era B-25 bomber, on display at the Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton, features a devilish Helena on one side and angelic Angela on the other.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Judge Hears Arguments in Airport Case Against County: Martha's Vineyard (KMVY), Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts

A superior court judge heard arguments Tuesday afternoon on both sides of a dispute between the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission and its appointing authority, the county of Dukes County. 

Held in the Edgartown courthouse during a special sitting of the court, the hearing saw spirited debate about the legal independence of the airport and also whether the dispute belonged in court in the first place.

In May, the airport filed a complaint seeking to prevent the county from exerting certain controls over airport affairs, detailing four counts for declaratory and injunctive relief.

At the close of Tuesday’s hearing, the Hon. Richard Chin, an associate justice of the superior court, said he would take the matter under advisement and issue a written opinion.

The debate centers around the question of which agency has ultimate authority over the airport.

Airport counsel David Mackey argued that the county is attempting to exert extreme controls over the airport, citing efforts to install the county manager as an ex-officio member on the airport commission, refusals of the county treasurer to pay the airport’s legal bills and efforts by the treasurer to obtain itemized legal bills directly from airport counsel.

In his preparation, Mr. Chin said he had read up on the last jurisdictional dispute between the two bodies. A case brought by former airport manager William Weibrecht that was decided in 2006 confirmed the airport’s authority to set the salaries and contracts of its employees.

In the latest lawsuit, the airport seeks expanded recognition of its autonomy from Dukes County. On the motion for a preliminary injunction Mr. Mackey said the matter is urgent because it is important to settle confusions about “who is running the show.”

Further, he warned that a decision in the county’s favor would repudiate grant assurances governing the receipt of public grant funds, potentially rendering the airport ineligible to future funding and responsible for repaying previous funding. The airport attorney estimated the potential liability at some $40 million.

“The airport cannot be in a position where the county is wielding control over it,” Mr. Mackey said.

But Judge Chin said he saw no immediate threat to the airport’s sovereignty.

“They have not shown up at the airport trying to take it over,” he said.

He also questioned whether it is appropriate for the court to get involved in the matter, suggesting instead that the lawyers should be the ones protecting the attorney-client privilege.

“I think the onus is on the lawyers to say, I’m not giving it to you,” the judge said, referring to the dispute over whether the county had the right to obtain itemized legal bills involving the airport.

But Mr. Mackey said the person seeking the invoices had shown a “complete lack of clarity” in requests to the law offices. He conceded that the airport is subject to the state public records law, but argued that the airport commission gets to decide what to release.

Mr. Chin said his concern was that the court not get involved in a public records ruling, especially in the context of attorney-client communications.

Representing the county, attorney Robert Troy challenged the need for court intervention. He said the dispute is a political controversy, not a legal one.

“Ultimately, the county commissioners are in control,” he said, because they appoint the members of the airport commission. He added that the county respects the authority of the airport over aeronautic aspects of the airport.

Further, he said the county supports the judge’s decision in the Weibrecht case in assigning control over airport employee salary and contracts to the airport, but he said that control is not broadly drawn.

One trigger for the current complaint was a vote in April by the county commission to recognize the ex-officio, non-voting membership on the airport commission by county manager Martina Thornton. Ms. Thornton had reportedly had been denied entrance to parts of meetings held in executive session.

Mr. Troy told Judge Chin that the county manager is already a member of the board, since according to Massachusetts General Laws and the county administrative code, the county manager serves as ex-officio member on any board that the county appoints.

He said the manager’s participation on the board would not constitute a reorganization of the board, as it is already on the books.

In rebuttal, Mr. Mackey said adding an eighth person to a seven-member board constituted a reorganization. The state airport act, he said, establishes a board with an odd number of members.

“I don’t know how to reconcile the number eight with the word odd,” he said.

On the subject of the legal bills, Mr. Troy said the state public records law already requires the airport to provide itemization of the bills or to provide an exemption if they are not releasing them to the public.

“The airport should have been in communication with the treasurer and not coming to court,” he said. “To enjoin the county treasurer is to bury the terms of the statute.”

The judge said he saw no see a present controversy with the legal bills.

“The bills have been paid,” he said. “What would I rule on?”

In the end Judge Chin said he would review what is in the record and issue a written decision.

- Source:

The Hon. Richard Chin heard arguments Tuesday in the case of the airport versus the county.   - Mark Lovewell 

Attorney Robert Troy for the county: “Ultimately, the county commissioners are in control." — Mark Lovewell   
Attorney David Mackey for the airport: “The airport cannot be in a position where the county is wielding control over it.” — Mark Lovewell