Friday, January 17, 2014

Malindi Airport, Kenya

A luxurious jet owned by Italian billionaire Flavio Briatore veered into a trench at Malindi Airport.

The jet registered as OE 1FB was parked at the apron when it suddenly slipped, skidded and landed into the trench.

Malindi Airport Manager Walter Agong said it took his officers at least two hours to retrieve it.

Mr Agong suspects the pilot forgot to pull up the hand brake. 

No one was inside the jet when the incident occurred.

The officer, said the jet suffered slight damage as it moved slightly before landing in the trench.

Delay departure 

Flavio who owns the luxurious Lion In the Sun and the Billionaire resort has been in Kenya since the Christmas and New Year holiday accompanied by his wife and friends.

He was set to jet out of Kenya this week and the incident might delay his departure.

In 2009 six tourists among them Formula One driver Alonso Fernado narrowly escaped death after their luxurious jet hit a wall as they were leaving the Malindi airport.

The tourists had just completed their holiday when they boarded Alonso’s jet heading to Madrid in Spain before the incident occurred.


Italian bilionaire Flavio Biatore’s jet that veered into a trench at the Malindi airport yesterday. It took at least two hours to retrieve it. 

AutoGyro MTOsport, Tomball Police Department, N250TX: Incident occurred January 16, 2014 at David Wayne Hooks Airport (KDWH), Houston, Texas

Emergency responders say no one was hurt when a gyro-plane crashed Thursday morning in northwest Harris County, officials said. 

Cypress-Creek EMS responded to the scene after the small aircraft belonging to the Tomball Police Department went down around 11:30 a.m. in the 20800 block of Stuebner Airline near Hooks Airport.

A gyro-plane is a small aircraft with a small engine that typically seats one or two people.

The Tomball police said the accident happened after the aircraft, referred to a "Michael One," landed following a patrol mission. While the gyro-plane was taxiing, a gusting crosswind hit the aircraft causing it to veer off the runway.

The aircraft suffered significant damage, police said.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are also investigating the incident.

MTOsport AutoGyro:


No Traces of Explosives on Kaczynski Plane – Poland: Tupolev 154M, Polish Air Force

WARSAW, January 17 (RIA Novosti) – Polish experts found no traces of explosives in the wreckage of a plane that crashed in Russia in 2010, killing Poland’s president and nearly 100 others, Polish military prosecutors said Friday.

The analyzed samples were taken by Polish analysts from the crash site in autumn 2012 and summer 2013.

Forensics experts from the Central Forensics Laboratory reported that analysis of the samples, which were obtained from exhumed bodies, soil at the crash site and parts of the aircraft, did not reveal any traces of explosives or their decay substances, prosecutors said in a statement.

Prosecutors said, however, that the forensics report was not conclusive and asked the experts to provide explanatory notes on their findings by this spring.

The Russian-made Tu-154 jet carrying President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and a host of other top officials crashed in heavy fog as it attempted to land at an airfield near Smolensk on April 10, 2010. The delegation was flying to Smolensk to mark the 70th anniversary of the 1940 Katyn massacre of thousands of Polish officers by Soviet secret police. All 96 people aboard the plane died.

In the fall of 2012, the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita claimed that traces of explosives had been discovered in the plane’s debris. Military prosecutors denied the claims, saying the final results of chemical tests would be made public in six months. The newspaper’s editor-in-chief resigned following the publication.

Russian and Polish investigators carried out a joint investigation from February to March last year in response to speculation that the late Polish president could have been the victim of a conspiracy to blow up his plane with a bomb.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in December that the investigation had been extended until April 2014 and the wreckage of the plane would be handed over to Poland upon its completion.


Let It Snow: The Makers of De-Icing Fluid Are Having a Superb Winter


 Few people are as important in winter air travel as the crews that spray de-icing fluid onto departing airplanes. Without the fluid, there’s a good chance there won’t be a flight. More weekend snow across the Midwest—the forecast for the region predicts up to 5 inches and has airlines gearing up for more de-icing—promises to be a boon for the chemicals’ manufacturers.

“For the North America market, it’s going to be a a blistering good year,” says Gary Lydiate, chief executive of London’s Kilfrost, one of three big players in the de-icing fluid industry, along with Dow Chemical and Swiss company Clariant. Lydiate says Kilfrost has already shipped about 70 percent of the de-icing fluid it expected to sell this winter, with two-thirds of the season remaining. Come May, once most airport de-icing ends, Kilfrost says volume will total about 20 percent more than during the 2012-13 season.

In recent weeks the company has shipped more than 544,000 gallons of de-icing fluid to Illinois, most of it to Chicago’s O’Hare International, where Kilfrost customers American and United both have hubs. Airlines at O’Hare have used 1.06 million gallons through Jan. 15, compared with 1.1 million gallons for all of the 2012-13 season, a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Aviation said in an e-mail. Most airports deal with multiple suppliers, given that carriers generally procure and apply their own de-icing fluid or outsource the job.

U.S. airlines spray more than 25 million gallons of de-icing fluid each year, according to a 2009 study of the industry by the Environmental Protection Agency. In Denver, where a May snowstorm isn’t terribly unusual, airlines used 1.9 million gallons of de-icing fluid last winter and are on pace to go through the same volume this winter, says Scott Morrissey, director of environmental programs.

Most de-icing is performed with propylene glycol, called Type 1, a pinkish-orange fluid you may see washing across your plane window. When weather is more severe—or when a plane must wait in a queue for takeoff—a thicker green liquid, akin to a gel, is applied to coat the airplane for longer periods. Both types of fluid are formulated much like other competitive products, be it motor oil, laundry detergent, or the top-secret syrup Coca-Cola blends with water and sugar, Lydiate says. “It looks like a simple thing on the surface, but underneath there’s a hell of a lot of technology to make it work,” he says of de-icing fluids. “This is not a commodity industry.”

The 3 to 5 inches of snow predicted for the Midwest and Great Lakes this weekend is likely to be followed by a second, frigid taste of the polar vortex, which earlier this month sent temperatures plunging as low as 25 below zero in parts of the Midwest and to single-digit temperatures as far south as Texas. Overnight temperatures could drop as much as 25 degrees below normal later next week, according to forecasts, as the jet stream takes a deeper dip south.

“There is the chance the cold may rival that of early January in some areas,” AccuWeather said in a Jan. 16 client note. The next time you’re on a delayed flight, as the plane is hosed ahead of takeoff, consider the positive: Nasty weather means nice profits for some companies.


Dog attacks at Tauranga airport

Police dogs were set loose on a pretend ‘hijacker’ at Tauranga airport yesterday in a rehearsal for the Classics of the Sky – Tauranga City Airshow on Anniversary Weekend.

The practice display attack took place out of the public eye between hangar rows and involved the capture of an aircraft hijacker.

It involved only police dog handlers, with Jason Carswell being the bad guy taken down by handler Mark Chapman’s dog Nitro and Dave Robison’s dog Ice.

Three times Jason was taken down in the heavily padded arms by the dogs, and held until their handlers arrived to secure the dogs, and pull him to the ground to be captured.

The ‘armed hijacking scenario’ will be spiced up on the day – Sunday, January 26 – at the airshow with the addition of weapons and the Armed Offenders’ Squad, says the hijackee, Tauranga detective Ian Chapman.

With just more than a week to go, tickets sales to the airshow are starting to move quite quickly, says Classic Flyers CEO Andrew Gormley.

Four WW1 fighter aircraft will be on display at the airshow, and are scheduled to arrive in town by road next week.

Andrew says lots of aircraft rides have been sold. “There is a huge uptake; Kittyhawk, Mustang, Spitfire and Strikemaster jet rides are all selling well.

“We have about 17 rides; it’s almost unheard of,” says Andrew. “If you look out in the skies just prior to the show you will see a whole lot of fighter planes just doing their thing.”

A Rotary club raffle, selling tickets, $5 for a Stearman ride and $15 for a ride in a jet, will mean some airshow-goers will get free sky-high jaunts.

“Twenty dollars buys an option in each; a chance in a jet and a chance in a Stearman; a pretty easy way to begin to connect. Those will get drawn on the weekend.”

Trade sites are also ramping up and organizing staff will start putting in some long days to get the event ready during the next week.


Constable Jason Carswell working with a police dog.

Amended suit accuses former Hernando airport manager of protecting friend's business

BROOKSVILLE — Airplane management company Jet Concepts has filed an amended complaint against former Hernando airport director Don Silvernell, claiming Silvernell damaged the business in order to ensure a monopoly on fixed-base operator services for a close personal friend.

Jet Concepts and its president, Robert Rey, accuse Silvernell of violations of the Florida Antitrust Act and the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Act and of interference with a business relationship.

Last August, Rey filed a lawsuit against Silvernell, accusing him of defamation and interference with a business relationship. A judge dismissed that case, but allowed Rey to file an amended complaint.

In the new complaint, Rey describes how he began to have problems with Silvernell as soon as he moved his business from American Aviation, which for decades had been the only fixed-base operator at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport. American Aviation is owned by John Petrick, a longtime friend of Silvernell. Rey made the move to the Brooksville Air Center when it opened as a second fixed-base operator in 2009, mostly because it had cheaper fuel.

In the months that followed, Rey says, he heard that potential business partners were being told that he was operating illegally at the airport. When he questioned Silvernell, he was told he needed an operator's permit, which became a challenge to obtain.

After Rey took over management of the Brooksville Air Center as the business struggled financially, Silvernell ordered fueling and other airplane services halted there, according to Rey. He also contacted a website where the air center had placed an advertisement and ordered it be taken down.

Brooksville Air Center ended up in foreclosure, and Hernando County purchased the facility. Rey started talking to another business about opening a new fixed-base operation, but that business walked away after Silvernell discouraged the partnership, Rey says.

"Silvernell attempted to thwart the efforts of Jet Concepts to operate a viable business at the Brooksville airport because he viewed Rey and Jet Concepts as threats to American Aviation,'' according to the complaint.

"Silvernell acted outside the scope of his employment when he sought to protect the virtual monopoly on fixed-base operator services offered by American Aviation,'' it states.

Silvernell's attorney, Joseph Flood, did not immediately respond to a request from the Times for comments.


Suddenly famous: M. Graham Clark Downtown (KPLK), Branson, Missouri

When a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 landed Jan. 12 at the M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport, rather than the Branson Airport seven miles south, the little facility next to College of the Ozarks became the most famous airport in the country until the plane departed the next day.

While it might not normally attract that sort of attention, the general aviation airport has been a part of the community for more than 40 years.

Airport Manager Mark Parent stresses that the county-owned airport belongs to, and benefits, everyone in Taney County.

“It’s the taxpayers’ airport,” Parent said. “It belongs to them.”


The facility is a general aviation airport, which means it is used for a wide variety of air service, such as corporate flights, personal aircraft, military, Department of Conservation, organ-donation deliveries and more. The types of planes that use the airport range from jets, turboprops and piston-driven light aircraft.

The facility has anywhere from 6,000 to 11,000 landings each year, according to Parent.

Unlike most general aviation airports, however, this one is self-sufficient, something Parent is extremely proud of. He said most communities that have a municipal or county airport have to subsidize them. But this airport has been turning a small profit every year since it was turned over to the county by its original owner, College of the Ozarks.

The Taney County 2014 budget, approved earlier this month, shows the airport is projected to have a surplus of $41,000 for the year.

Parent, who has worked at the facility for 25 years, said he does not know how many general aviation airports are self-supporting, but he said “it is unusual.”

He said most people don’t realize the full benefits of a general aviation airport. Although he would not give a specific name, he said there are some large employers in the area who would not be here if not for an airport to keep its corporate leaders connected.

“There are businesses, with gobs of employees, that wouldn’t be here if this airport weren’t here,” he said. “It allows corporate officers to come to town and open a business.”

That, he said, is why so many communities are willing to subsidize airports.

According to a recent economic impact study from the Missouri Department of Transportation, the M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport has a total of 46 jobs (including employees of other businesses that operate at the airport) with a payroll of $1.35 million and a direct economic output of $4.7 million, which Parent said is the highest amount the airport has seen in a decade. Parent said that translates to an annual economic impact in excess of $36 million.


The airport was built in 1970 by College of the Ozarks, whose president, M. Graham Clark, had a passion for flying. Although it was a private airport that served the school’s aviation program, it was also open to the public. Parent said the airport had an immediate impact on the Branson area.

“It was a catalyst for growth in the Branson area,” he said.

The facility became the county’s airport in 2005. Parent said the city of Branson pays the airport $10,000 a year for services, Hollister supports the airport with water and sewer services, and the county provides benefits for the airport’s six county employees, including Parent. Otherwise, the airport supports itself.

“It continues to pay its own operating expenses,” Parent said.

He said the annual payment from Branson allows the airport to not charge a landing fee. (So no, Southwest Airlines did not have to pay for its errant landing.)


The airport is able to pay its bills through a variety of venues. The airport receives lease fees from businesses that operate at the venue, including Avis, Chopper Charter and Metro Aviation, which provides maintenance services to Mercy Life Line helicopters.

The airport also provides monthly service for 63 private aircraft. And the airport charges for fuel.

A hanger, built by the county for $660,000 in 2009, makes $48,000 a year in hanger rentals, according to Parent.

The airport also takes advantage of several grants. For instance, Parent said the airport will be able to take advantage of a Missouri Department of Transportation grant to replace the runway lights. The grant is a 90 percent match, meaning the county would normally have to pay 10 percent of the costs. But Parent said the airport generates enough funds to pay the 10 percent, meaning the county will pay nothing.


It hasn’t always been easy, according to Parent. When the county first took over the airport, it generated a profit of about $130,000 a year. Then in 2009, the Branson Airport, a large commercial facility, opened and took the business of many jets that had previously flown into the county airport, Parent said. That same year, the Branson West Municipal Airport, another general aviation airport, opened the same distance to the west and created even more competition.

Combined with a downturn in the economy, the county airport’s annual surplus dropped to about $30,000, Parent said. Today that number is between $40,000 and $50,000, he said.

But, the airport still pays for itself every year and that’s something Parent and the other airport employees are proud of.

“We’re always walking around on top of the world,” he said.


Mark Parent, manager of the M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport, stands in front of a typical aircraft serviced by the facility. 
 Cliff Sain | Branson Tri-Lakes News

Search begins for 1965 Folsom Lake plane wreckage


GRANITE BAY, Calif. - An Idaho-based husband and wife sonar search team that has recovered more than 80 bodies from under water has begun looking for the wreckage of a plane that plunged into Folsom Lake on New Year's Day 1965, killing four people.

Gene and Sandy Ralston launched their boat from the Granite Bay lake access Thursday afternoon, less than a week after their sonar gear located the body of a woman in the Delta who was presumed drowned in a Thanksgiving weekend fishing accident.

But Gene Ralston said despite the lake's clarity, the search would be much more difficult than the one in the muddy Delta.

"Oh gosh, the Delta is a piece of cake," Gene Ralston said. "The bottom is flat like a road. [At Folsom Lake], we've got 50- and 60-foot-tall still standing trees on the bottom."

Gene Ralston said they must carefully "fly" their towed sonar device above the trees so the equipment won't become entangled.

The search effort came together following a News10 story in late December about Frank Wilcox, a Shingle Springs man who was hoping the dramatic drop in the level of Folsom Lake would finally reveal the wreckage of the Piper Comanche that went to the bottom following a mid-air collision, killing Wilcox's older brother and three other people. Only one body was recovered.

The other plane returned safely to Sacramento Municipal (now Executive) Airport.

Previous story: Family hopes Folsom Lake drop reveals plane wreckage

Although Folsom Lake covers three counties, witnesses at the time placed the crash over El Dorado County.

El Dorado County Sheriff's Detective Sgt. Dan Johnson made search arrangements with the Ralstons to search the lake based on their success in the Delta.

"We would like to recover the three individuals and give their family the opportunity to lay them to rest properly," Johnson said.

Thursday's search ended at dusk without success, but Gene Ralston said they would continue Friday morning.

As the boat returned to shore, Wilcox said he remained optimistic.

"I've never seen such an outpouring of help and these folks here, this is what they do," he said. "I think something good will come of this."

The Ralstons, both in their 60's, generally ask for nothing more than reimbursement for their expenses.

 NTSB Identification: OAK65A0047 
14 CFR Part 91 General Aviation
Aircraft: BEECHCRAFT 35-33, registration: N996T

 FILE    DATE          LOCATION          AIRCRAFT DATA       INJURIES       FLIGHT                        PILOT DATA
                                                               F  S M/N     PURPOSE
2-0001   65/1/1    FOLSOM LAKE CALIF   BEECHCRAFT 35-33    CR-  0  0  1  NONCOMMERCIAL             ATP,FLIGHT INSTR., AGE
        TIME - 1230                    N996T               PX-  0  0  2  PLEASURE/PERSONAL TRANSP  45, 15000 TOTAL HOURS,
                                       DAMAGE-SUBSTANTIAL  OT-  4  0  0                            500 IN TYPE, NOT
                                                                                                   INSTRUMENT RATED.
        TYPE OF ACCIDENT                                         PHASE OF OPERATION

Jamestown Regional Airport (KJMS), North Dakota: Feds question decision to switch airline provider

JAMESTOWN, N.D. - The Jamestown Airport Authority may have to send a delegation to Washington, D.C., later this month to answer questions about the bid from SkyWest Airlines to provide commercial passenger service to the airport.

The Airport Authority approved Wednesday covering the expenses of sending Chairman Jim Boyd, Jamestown Regional Airport Manager Matt Leitner and Mayor Katie Andersen to Washington toward the end of January. Boyd said he and Leitner had a conference call with members of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s, D-N.D., office about the bids submitted by SkyWest Airlines and Great Lakes Airlines to provide passenger service to Jamestown Regional Airport starting April 1.

An airline provides passenger service to Jamestown Regional Airport under the Federal Aviation Administration’s Essential Air Service program. Under the EAS program the airline receives a subsidy to cover the expense of providing passenger service to small airports around the country. Airports in the EAS program seek bids every two years, and interested airlines bid to provide passenger service.

The bids are advertised, reviewed and awarded by the United States Department of Transportation for the FAA. Boyd said DOT officials have some concerns about the SkyWest Airlines bid.

Great Lakes Airlines, which currently provides service to Jamestown Regional Airport, submitted a bid to continue providing service to JRA with three roundtrip flights daily from Devils Lake/Jamestown to Minneapolis, using 19-seat turboprop airplanes. According to Leitner, this bid meets the DOT’s minimum bid requirement for turboprop airplanes.

The SkyWest Airlines bid is a one flight daily roundtrip from Denver to Jamestown using a 50-seat jet airplane. The DOT minimum bid for a 50-seat jet airplane service to Jamestown is two daily flights.

Boyd said another potential problem with the SkyWest bid is the airline would require a higher subsidy from the federal government because its airplane would be traveling a greater distance.

On Jan. 6 the Airport Authority recommended the SkyWest Airlines bid to the DOT. The Airport Authority’s commercial air service committee, made up of Boyd, Vice Chairman Jeff Wilhelm and member Brent Harris, solicited letters of support for the SkyWest bid from local government, business and community groups.

Boyd said he hopes the state’s congressional representatives, including Heitkamp, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., will be able to answer questions from DOT officials about the SkyWest bid.

“We may not need to go,” he said.

Leitner said service from Great Lakes Airlines continues to be a problem, as the airline has announced it will be eliminating weekend flights starting in February. The airline will continue to offer two flights daily Monday through Friday, but will not have any flights on Saturdays and only one late-night flight coming in on Sundays.

Great Lakes Airlines continues to have problems getting full flight crews for its flights due to changes in FAA requirements for co-pilots. In July the FAA increased the minimum number of flight hours a co-pilot must have in order to be part of a flight crew for a passenger flight from 250 hours to 1,500 hours. The change has put qualified co-pilots in high demand for all airlines.


US Sport Aviation Expo offers unique aircraft: Sebring Regional Airport (KSEF), Florida

SEBRING -- A few planes took to the sky, but most of the action was on the ground as pilots and aviation enthusiasts braved the chilly, windy morning Thursday for the first day of the 10th annual US Sport Aviation Expo at the Sebring Regional Airport.

Visitors and patrons made their way through hundreds of informational and vendor booths, checking out everything from GPS navigation devices to airplanes for sale.

One of the most interesting parts of the expo is the Maverick Flying Car. The Dunellon company produces and manufactures a flying vehicle that is good for both the road and air, according to design engineer and test pilot Troy Townsend.

The Maverick team is in its third year as part of the expo vendors and has had some success with its unique vehicle.

"We've sold some since we were certified in 2010. We custom build every Maverick in Dunellon and I fly every one of them before the owner gets it," Townsend said Thursday.

The Maverick was initially built as part of mission work. The company's founder was raised in Ecuador where his family did mission work. The Maverick can be used to make a path to those in need in frontier areas were there are little to no roads or can be used as a recreational aircraft in the state of Florida for anyone looking for a unique flight.

Key Largo resident and first-time Expo attendee Mike Dann looked over a Continental Motors Inc. engine at the indoor exhibit area just after the start of the Expo Thursday.

The longtime pilot was enthusiastic about his first visit to the Expo and a project he recently started.

"I'm building an airplane, that's why I'm here. It's going to be a replica of a World War I German airplane. This is my first time, so I'm here just checking out parts and things I might need. It's lots of fun," Dann said.

Though Dann has been a pilot since the age of 15, he's never owned his own plane.

"I've always just flown other people's planes. It's cheaper that way," Dann said with a chuckle. "But I'm doing it now, so I'm excited."

Ron Humphrey, sales and service representative of Continental, explained the ins and outs of the company's only light sport airplane engine, which is manufactured and produced in Mobile, Ala.

"This is the 0200D. It's a lighter version of an old engine and it's built specifically for these light planes you see here at the expo," Humphrey said.

Outdoors, friends Jack Fehling and Skip Barnes, of Jupiter, wandered through the aisles of planes and vehicles.

Both Fehling and Barnes are retired commercial airline pilots. Barnes worked for Delta Airlines for just over 30 years while Fehling served in the United States Air Force for 20 years before working for American Airlines for 14 years.

"We flew in from Jupiter this morning. I do it pretty often. I come over to eat breakfast here. I like the restaurant here a lot; it's pretty good. It normally takes about 35 minutes. It took longer than that today, though, because of the weather," Fehling said.

The two men both own their own airplanes and homes at an airplane park in Jupiter.

"We weren't really looking for anything, just came out to see what was new and enjoy the event," Barnes said.

The US Sport Aviation Expo will continue through the weekend. A full list of vendors, demonstrations, products and schedule can be found by logging onto Tickets may also be purchased online for event entry and other activities during the expo.

 Story and Photo Gallery:

Katara Simmons/News-Sun 
A plane comes in for a landing Thursday during the Aviation Expo in Sebring. The event featured gliders, homebuilts, ultralights, seaplanes and a variety of experimental aircraft.

Airport mascot memorializing bird dog attempts journey across US, 10 countries: Augusta Regional (KAGS), Georgia

A border collie that chased birds off the runway at Augusta Regional Airport for 10 years will be memorialized in an attempt to send a plush dog on a journey around the world.

In tribute to Mayday, a traveling dog mascot will try to visit all 50 states and 10 countries with pilots and passengers on private aircraft. A second mascot, Little Miss Mayday, will accompany families departing the airport for family vacations.

“Together, these two travelers will help promote the love of aviation in the hearts of the young and old alike,” the airport’s communications manager, Lauren Smith, said in a news release.

Mayday, a rescue dog, was added to the airport staff in 2001 to chase birds and other wildlife off airport property. She was trained at Dover Air Force Base’s Bird Strike Control Program to respond to whistles and commands given by her handler, Tina Rhodes.

During her tenure, Mayday recovered from a snake bite and surgery to remove a benign tumor from her leg. Mayday retired in December 2010 at age 14 and died in October 2011.

Children in grades one through eight interested in temporarily adopting Little Miss Mayday should write a one-page essay explaining why the stuffed dog should go on their family vacation. Four students, who must be departing the airport, will be selected each year.

Essays must include vacation destination, departure and arrival dates, and contact information for a parent or legal guardian. The first deadline for submissions is Jan. 29.

E-mail essays to or to 1501 Aviation Way, Augusta, GA 30906, Attention: Lauren Smith.

For more information and traveling mascot program guidelines, visit


Mayday rests in her owners backyard. The dog used to chase birds away at the Augusta airport.

$7.2 Million in Cash Found at Panama Airport: 3 Arrested, 25 Officers Suspended Over Drug Money

$7.2 million in cash was found at a Panama airport stuffed into eight suitcases this week. Panamanian police described it as their biggest bust ever, and while three men have been arrested so far, their investigation is ongoing.

The $7.2 million in cash found belonged to a well-known drug cartel, according to police. The suitcases were brought from Toncontin airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras to Tocumen International Aiport in Panama by three Honduran men aged 41, 39, and 32.

After the men got off of the flight, police managed to catch them smuggling the money in once they discovered a second, hidden compartment in all of their luggage bags. The fake bottoms were removed and police found huge bundles of cash in $100 bills.

Authorities had been tipped off by intelligence that was gathered pointing to drug money coming through Tocumen Airport, chief drug prosecutor Javier Caraballo told local news.

Now the investigation has turned to Honduras, as police try to find out how such a large amount of money slipped by airport authorities, drug police and special investigators at Toncontin airport.

So far 32 people have been suspended or fired, with 25 of them being police officers, Reuben Martel, director of the National Bureau of Special Investigation, told Five airport x-ray technicians were fired, and two officers from the Directorate for Combating Drug Trafficking were also let go.


A policeman guards $7.2 million USD in bundles during a news conference in Panama.