Sunday, January 26, 2014

Vertical Limit Aviation: New helicopter school ready for liftoff

Photo by Melody Parra 
Vertical Limit Aviation Vertical Limit Aviation shares hangar space with Francis Aviation at the Doña Ana County International Jetport, 25 minutes from Downtown El Paso. 

SANTA TERESA, N.M. – Albuquerque-based Vertical Limit Aviation has opened a helicopter flight school here, which will offer helicopter flying lessons, tours and aerial photography.

The school, headed by Army spouse Deb Rothchild, is the only one in the El Paso region. Company executives say there is a large market here that has gone mostly untapped.

Just the second opened by Vertical Limit Aviation, the flight school officially launches this week at Doña Ana County International Jetport in Santa Teresa, 25 minutes from Downtown El Paso, where it shares hangar space with Francis Aviation.

For now, the company offers helicopter flight training here and, for those who just want a ride, aerial tours.

But the company hopes to offer a helicopter-for-hire service in the future, including charter flights for business executives. It also has a helicopter fitted with a high-definition broadcast camera that news organizations and law enforcement agencies can charter.

The company also offers training for Army helicopter pilots stationed at Fort Bliss who want to get their civilian pilot certificates so they can fly civilian aircraft or even transition to a civilian job. Qualifying veterans can use their post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to help pay for helicopter flight training, owner Doug Christian said.

Vertical Limit Aviation’s El Paso operation is headed by Rothchild, whose husband was stationed at Fort Bliss more than a year ago.

Rothchild, a certified flight instructor, will teach the classes and said there are some unique skills she will be able to teach students here in the desert, where all flights start at about 4,000 feet above sea level.

“The heat and the altitude, those are skills that are really important for pilots to be able to negotiate,” she said.

Flying family

Rothchild’s grandfather, a bomber pilot in World War II, was stationed at Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso. Her father, who also served in the military, was stationed at White Sands Missile Range before being transferred to Alaska where Rothchild was born.

Her parents were bush pilots and owned a Cherokee 140, and Rothchild grew up flying. She started working in commercial fishing when she was 15 and, later, worked as a wildland firefighter.

“That’s where I found helicopters. I got my first ride in a helicopter, and I absolutely fell in love with it,” she said.

Rothchild decided she was going to be a pilot someday, but flight school is expensive. Getting a private pilot rating, essentially a driver’s license for flying helicopters, generally takes 60 hours of flight time at a cost of between $15,000 and $20,000.

Then there is the commercial license, instrument rating and flight instructor certification, which are all offered at the school here.

“Typically, because of the price, people don’t get just a private rating for fun. They are looking to be a professional pilot,” Rothchild said.

But with the help of a grant, she was able to complete her flight training and has been flying for six years.

Rothchild will also pilot helicopter tours here, including a romantic “Sunset Champagne Tour.”

“The evening is just gorgeous,” Rothchild said. “You can see the Star on the Mountain and the lights all the way into Juárez.”

Tours start at $180 for up to three people, according to Christian, a former fire fighter who opened the company in his hometown of Albuquerque in 2008.

“It’s perfect for Valentine’s Day,” Christian said of the Champagne tour.

In Albuquerque, he said, the company flies for KOB, the NBC TV station, as well as for law enforcement agencies in Torrance County and Valencia County.

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Milan, Illinois

No one injured in Milan plane crash 

Neither the pilot nor the passenger was injured Sunday when a single-engine plane crashed in a field at 929 32nd Ave. E., Milan.

A Cessna 172K fixed-wing single-engine plane piloted by Larry J. Roth, 65, of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, was traveling from Davenport to Moline, according to Illinois State Police. When the plane’s engine failed, Roth was forced to land in the field.

Illinois State Police and Rock Island County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the crash, which remains under investigation.  


Plane Makes Emergency Landing in Milan 

A small plane has made an emergency landing in a field near Milan.

Blackhawk Fire officials say a small Piper plane went down around 5:30 Sunday night. Two people were on board neither one was injured.

Great Lakes Airlines to end contract with Devils Lake Regional Airport (KDVL) , North Dakota

A reliable source from the Devils Lake Regional Airport has stated that Great Lakes Airlines has informed them that they will be discontinuing service to Devils Lake as of February 1.

The contract Devils Lake entered into with Great Lakes Airlines was to expire March 1.

We will publish more on this story on Monday, Jan. 27.

Memphis International Airport (KMEM), Tennessee

Memphis Airport Loses Two Restaurants
An Interstate Bar-B-Que restaurant and a Starbucks store are the latest casualties of reduced traffic at Memphis International Airport.

One of the two Interstate locations at the airport will close next month, along with one of the four Starbucks locations. Declining passenger traffic at the airport played a role in the closures.

The Interstate location that is closing is in the food court, which also has a Back Yard Burgers and Villa Pizza, but the sit-down restaurant will remain open. The Starbucks that is closing is on the southern end of Concourse A, away from the Southwest Airlines terminal on the northern end of the concourse.

Following cutbacks by Delta Airlines, the airport is down to 92 flights a day from a high of around 300 a decade ago. Delta operated only 49 daily flights in December, a dramatic drop from more than 200 daily flights five years ago.

Memphis International is in a transition period, shifting from an airport dominated by connecting flights to one focused on generating more origin and destination traffic. Also, Southwest Airlines began service in November, bringing with it lower fares – and there are strong indications locals are responding to the drop in prices.

Airport officials said 14,000 more local passengers flew out of the airport in December 2013 compared to December 2012.

Over the last six months of 2013, the airport recorded 900,500 originating and destination passengers, up from 843,000 over the same six-month period in 2012.

“It is a phenomenon of working to lower airfares,” said Scott Brockman, president and CEO of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority. “We have seen a steady increase in local travel, and that is the effect of affordable airfares.”


Ogle County, Illinois

OGLE COUNTY- The Ogle County Sheriff's Office confirms a plane crash. 

The single engine plane went down in the area of Cherry Road and Route 72.

The 75 year old pilot was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries. 

According to Police the engine failed. 

Eyewitness News will have more information as it becomes available.

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Mooney M20C, N6762U: Accident occurred January 26, 2014 in Rutherfordton, North Carolina

Originally Posted: 2015-10-16 9:31am 

Airplane Corvette Custom Project one of a kind.

1963 Mooney Airplane on a 1984 Corvette stretched frame and suspension with a 1998 Dodge V-6 fuel injected engine automatic transmission furnished are, all the necessary major components to finish the project ... or .... my shop could.  Unusual ... one of a kind.     It seems I have come under ridicule for my creation, which is in actuality recycling.   The plane crashed in a field never to fly again and was headed to the scrapyard as was the Vette and Dakota truck. As to me making this thing fly, I believe I can get it up to speed. [...]  all U need is Vision and capital, anything is possible.

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NTSB Identification: ERA14CA104 

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, January 26, 2014 in Rutherfordton, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/23/2014
Aircraft: MOONEY M20C, registration: N6762U
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

According to the pilot, he checked the fuel gauges in the airplane before departing on a cross country flight. He stated that the left fuel gauge indicated 1/2 tank and the right fuel gauge indicated 1/4 tank. The pilot did not visually check the fuel quantity in the tanks and did not take on any additional fuel. Approximately 60 nautical miles (NM) from his destination, he switched from the left fuel tank to the right fuel tank. The engine began to "stutter" and he switched back to the left fuel tank and the engine resumed normal operation. He located the nearest airport which was 10 NM from his location and made a turn towards it. Shortly thereafter, the engine began to "stutter" again and the pilot shut the engine down and made an emergency landing in a field. During the emergency landing, the airplane collided with trees, and sustained substantial damage to the wings and fuselage. Examination of the fuel system revealed that the fuel tanks were not breached, and the left and right fuel tanks contained less than 1 gallon of fuel in each. A review of the pilot operating handbook (POH) revealed that each fuel tank held 26 gallons of fuel, for a total of 52 gallons. The POH stated that there is 48 gallons of usable fuel, which left 4 gallons of fuel unusable. The POH also revealed that the fuel tanks should be visually checked before flight.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's inadequate pre-flight planning and in-flight monitoring of the fuel level which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion.

This 1964 Mooney M20C crashed into a field in the Westminster community Sunday afternoon. The plane was a total loss but the pilot, who was alone, was not injured.

 Hudlow Fire & Rescue responded to an airplane down Sunday afternoon off U.S.64 in Westminster. The pilot escaped unharmed but the plane was a total loss. 

FOREST CITY —    An Atlanta, Ga. pilot walked away from a plane crash near the Westminster community Sunday at about 2 p.m. 

Although shaken up, first responders on the scene from Hudlow Fire & Rescue said the gentleman, who was flying alone, was not hurt.

The pilot's identity has not been released.

"He missed the field but went into a few small trees and twigs and sat right down," said Andy Walker, Hudlow firefighter, one of the first to arrive on the scene.

He was flying his 1964 Mooney M20C across Rutherford County when he ran out of fuel and the wind pushed him past the field.

According to an airport employee, the pilot was enroute to meet his father in Hickory when he realized he was out of gas and called 911 for help. The call was dispatched to nearby Hudlow Fire Department.

Pilot Russell Hyde said he arrived at the crash scene and turned off all the emergency locators on the plane.

Members of the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to interview the pilot on Monday. The plane was a total loss, said one person on the scene.

The crash is under investigation.

RUTHERFORDTON, N.C. - The Federal Aviation Administration are investigating a plane that crashed in a field off of Mackey Freeman Road in Rutherford County early Sunday afternoon.

A spokesperson for the FAA said that the Mooney M20 crashed in the field off of Mackey Freeman Road, near Bostic, at 1:30 pm.

Details about the crash were limited, but Rutherford County authorities say that the pilot of the plane contacted 911 dispatchers following the crash and he was not injured. 

Local residents told our crew at the scene that the crash was about a half-mile off the road in a field on private property and the pilot was the only person in the plane at the time. 

Huron County Airport (5A1), Norwalk, Ohio

Huron County Airport: A work in progress  -   Average of 1.5 planes use the airport each day


Huron County airport board members and supporters will keep plugging away to make improvements at the facility.

That's the message airport board member Carl Essex recently delivered.

Lately, the issues of pavement maintenance, hazard removal and airport revenues have been in the spotlight.

Areas of the runway and taxiway could use work, according to an evaluation from Ohio Department of Transportation officials. Essex said no pavement improvements have been made in at least eight years.

In year's past, it was widely reported about 27 planes take off and land at the local airport in an average day.

"The average is 1.5 planes a day," Essex said.

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Chesapeake Sport Pilot: Bay Bridge Airport (W29), Stevensville, Maryland

Arnold, Maryland:  Man achieves his dream of becoming sport pilot 

Courtesy photo
 Don Duquette Arnold resident Don Duquette earned his sport pilot certificate Dec. 13 through Chesapeake Sport Pilot flight school located at the Bay Bridge Airport in Stevensville.

Arnold resident Don Duquette earned his sport pilot certificate Dec. 13 through Chesapeake Sport Pilot flight school located at the Bay Bridge Airport in Stevensville.

Don had wanted to fly since he was a young man, but being newly married and starting a family at the time, he didn’t have the time. Nearly 20 years later, his wife, Liz, remembered his dream and gave him a gift certificate for an introductory flight lesson at Chesapeake Sport Pilot.

Don was hooked and soon began working toward his sport pilot certificate at Chesapeake Sport Pilot.

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Chesapeake Sport Pilot:

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

From snowplows to firetrucks: Airport employees trained as emergency responders

PITTSTON TWP. - Robert Zielinski was working on the lights in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport's parking garage when the crash siren went off on the morning of July 22, 2003.

The airport maintenance employee immediately stopped what he was doing and rushed to the airport firehouse, where he joined a group of fellow workers who responded to the fiery Suscon Road crash that claimed the life of the pilot.

Mr. Zielinski could see the black plume of smoke from the downed 1958 Hawker Hunter T MK 7 from miles away and encountered a raging blaze at the British-designed fighter jet when the group arrived at the crash site.

While other fire departments pumped water to the airport's small rapid-response firetruck, Mr. Zielinski and his colleagues doused the flames with water and foam within about an hour.

Like the rest of the airport's 27 maintenance and custodian workers, Mr. Zielinski is crossed-trained in emergency response techniques and qualified to handle a variety of situations, whether the job requires a snowplow or an automatic external defibrillator.

"You go from plumbing, electrical, inside to outside," Mr. Zielinski said. "Then the pager goes off (signaling an emergency), and you don't know what to expect."

Airport personnel responded to 10 aircraft emergencies, 15 fires, 11 hazmat calls - mostly fluid spills - and 56 various medical emergencies in 2013, according to a report that airport Director of Public Safety George Bieber recently provided to the Bi-County Airport Board.

The job includes little drama most of the time, said Jack Davis, the airport's lead firefighter.

"We get minor things - hot brakes, maybe an engine fire, smoke in the cockpit, things like that that are usually kind of mundane projects," said Mr. Davis, a former assistant Scranton fire chief.

Plane crashes are very rare. When they do occur, Mr. Davis said 90 percent of the time they happen away from airports. Fewer than half of airplane crashes end in fires.

"It's all geared toward 'What if?'  Mr. Davis said. "If that plane does crash, we'll be ready. Our equipment is ready. The guys are ready. Hopefully we'll never need to use it. I hope I can finish out my career here and never put my helmet on to go rescue somebody from a plane, but we'll be ready if it happens."

Airport personnel put in more than 1,200 hours of training in 2013 to prepare them for a variety of scenarios, according to Mr. Bieber's report.

In addition to the force of cross-trained maintenance and custodial staff, plus two firefighters, the airport has a range of equipment at its disposal.

That includes the rapid-response truck known as Echo-1, similar to an older version that fought the Hawker Hunter fire, and two larger firetrucks - Echo-2 and Echo-3.

"All together with our fleet, we can put 3,300 gallons of (aqueous film forming) foam and 900 pounds of (a dry chemical known as) Purple-K on a fire in 90 seconds," Mr. Davis said, not even including around 1,000 gallons of water-carrying capacity. "That will put out a lot of fire. The Purple-K will knock the fire down initially, and the foam will keep it out."

Tactics that airport responders use to combat plane fires differ from what Mr. Davis was used to with the Scranton Fire Department. If a fire is too much for its trucks to handle, he said responders will try to keep the blaze at bay until other fire departments arrive to help.

The airport's emergency response structure is similar to many other airports of similar size, although larger airports like Philadelphia International have a contingent of their cities' firefighters assigned there full time.

In addition to their regular jobs plus emergency response duties, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton airport employees inspect more than 300 fire extinguishers, plus test and maintain the fire alarms and sprinkler systems.

"It's like our own city here," Mr. Zielinski said. "We take care of it."

Aircraft emergencies in 2013 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport:
  • smoke in cockpit 
  • low oil pressure 
  • rough engine 
  • odor in cockpit 
  • standby
  • gear indicator
  • gear-up landing
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Morristown Municipal Airport (KMMU), New Jersey

Super Bowl a super task for Morristown airport: 200 planes expected to land for big game 


While officials in New Jersey and New York are preparing for what some have dubbed the first mass-transit Super Bowl, the operators of Morristown Municipal Airport are more concerned with long-distance travelers. 

The busy regional airport — residing in Hanover but owned by Morristown — is expecting unprecedented traffic from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3, the day after the Super Bowl concludes about 28 road miles away at MetLife Stadium.

“This week has preoccupied us for the last 18 months,” said Peter Gilchrist, manager of operations and security at the airport, referring to himself and Darren Large, manager of facilities and projects.

Together, they are responsible for managing the unprecedented amount of air traffic expected during the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII. The challenge increases exponentially after the game, when the estimated 200 corporate jets and private planes parked there all want to take off at the same time.

“Actually, from what we’ve been told by other airports in this situation that we have consulted with, they start leaving at halftime,” said Gilchrist, who plans on pulling an all-nighter, as do the other MMA employees. “It will be all hands on deck here Sunday.”

To prepare for what could be a once-in-a-career event, the staff at MMA has worked with Super Bowl, FAA, state and municipal officials to cover every special need and contingency. For starters, they are bringing in former employees and summer staff to augment the existing staff of about 26.

Perhaps the biggest change on the ground will be closing its crosswind runway to repurpose it as a parking lot for the extra aircraft coming in.

“We are utilizing the crosswind runway (running southeast to northwest) because the primary (runway) is larger and will be needed for the larger aircraft coming in,” said Marc C. Champigny, director of U.S. Aviation for the Louis Berger Group, a Morristown-based consulting firm with expertise in transportation and infrastructure that was asked to draft a conceptual parking plan for MMA.

Designated as a General Aviation Reliever Airport for the New York metropolitan area, MMA, operated by DM Airports, is one of the busiest airports of its type in the busiest airport system in the United States. Other regional airports, especially Teterboro Airport in Bergen County and Westchester County Airport in New York, also are expecting a Super Bowl-related bump in traffic.

Super-busy Sunday

But for Super Bowl Week, peak hours could see traffic that calculates at times to as many as 700 operations per day. Traffic will be curtailed on game day, as the FAA is imposing a no-fly zone eight miles around the stadium, a restriction that has been imposed at every Super Bowl site since 9/11. The no-fly zone will shut down rival Teterboro Airport, which is within the zone, but not Morristown.

“Which makes us the preferred destination for many customers, especially those who want to get out that night,” said Maria S. Sheridan, senior director of government affairs and business development at MMA.

But with so many aircraft lining up to take off in the hours after the Super Bowl, even traffic in Morristown will be limited to about 10 departures per hour as takeoffs from the various area airports are coordinated.

The FAA also requires that aircraft coming to the region during Super Bowl week must have an advance registration. Here, too, airport operators have to scramble to manage the glut of registrations.

“We have about 40 now,” Large said on Monday afternoon, the day after San Francisco and Denver qualified for the big game. “We didn’t have very many until today because we did not know who was playing.”

Thursday, 10 days before kickoff, the reservation list had grown to about 50, but Sheridan expected to reach full capacity.

Sheridan added that neighboring residents should not expect much in the way of an additional disruption due to increased air noise with the exception of Super Bowl Sunday night.

“A lot of these modern aircraft are designed to be pretty quiet,” she said.

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Morristown Municipal Airport manager of facilities and projects Darren Large, senior director of government affairs and business development Maria Sheridan, and manager of operations and security Peter Gilchrist.
 Karen Mancinelli/For the Daily Record

Boeing 767 Is Subject to New FAA Order: Regulator Demands Safety Checks, Modifications for Flight-Control Mechanism

The Wall Street Journal

By Andy Pasztor

Jan. 26, 2014 1:15 p.m. ET

U.S. regulators are set to order additional safety checks of more than 400 Boeing Co. 767 jets, citing hazards from movable tail sections that can jam and potentially cause pilots to lose control of the aircraft.

Slated to be published in Monday's Federal Register, the Federal Aviation Administration's directive calls for enhanced inspections of horizontal flight-control surfaces called elevators, along with modification and replacement of certain bolts and other parts used to control them. Elevators help move the noses of planes up and down.

The FAA order says "failures or jams in the elevator system" can result "in a significant pitch upset and possible loss of control."

While damaged bolts and improperly working elevators haven't been identified as the cause of any 767 accidents, nagging questions about their reliability underscore the challenges of using piecemeal solutions to address serious safety issues affecting such a widely-used fleet.

The hazards initially were identified in the summer of 2000, when the FAA ordered enhanced checks to identify damaged bolts or problematic elevator mechanisms. The inspections were considered an interim response.

Since then, inspections have been tightened and Chicago-based Boeing has issued half a dozen service bulletins. Eventually, the plane maker designed a permanent fix, which the FAA is now ordering.

The latest agency action, which becomes effective in March, requires U.S. carriers to swap out suspect parts within six years. Foreign regulators are expected to follow with similar directives affecting several hundred other 767s flying world-wide.

Boeing and the FAA didn't have any comment.

The FAA in August 2000 ordered the first round of special inspections of the bolts and mechanical links, called bellcranks, that move elevators on the twin-engine, widebody jets. The rivets are designed so that if a jam occurs in one part of the system, pilots can still control the elevators.

At the time, FAA and Boeing experts worried that routine tests weren't adequate to detect problems. The FAA also determined that rivet failures affecting two or more of the six bellcranks on a 767 could lead to abnormal or even uncommanded movement of the hydraulically-driven surfaces.

A year later, the FAA ordered separate but related tests to ensure elevator controls were rigged properly. In 2007 and 2008, Boeing recommended a series of further repetitive tests to ensure proper elevator operation.

The FAA's new directive gives airlines credit for voluntarily complying with those earlier service bulletins. But it also enhances inspections, including new mandatory tests. Coupled with installation of redesigned parts, according to the FAA, the directive "will further reduce the probability of the unsafe condition" identified more than a decade ago.

The FAA is acting despite various industry objections. United Airlines. now a unit of United Continental Holdings Inc.,  argued that Boeing's service bulletins make the safety directive unnecessary. But without binding mandate, agency officials determined they "have no way of determining the level of airline" compliance.

The new tests, some required within 6,000 hours of flight time, are projected to cost airlines millions of dollars. But the FAA said some of the replacement and overhaul work is expected to be covered by Boeing.