Thursday, January 30, 2014

Clay Center Municipal Airport (KCYW), Kansas

Former, present airport managers suing each other

Spicer asks for more than $500K in damages; Heinen Bros. seeks three-months hangar rent, repairs

Heinen Brothers and the Clay Center Municipal Airport have filed a civil lawsuit against former airport manager Mike Spicer, and the company he operated under charging damages related to aircraft left at the airport.

Spicer has counter-sued Heinen Brothers and is asking for more than half a million dollars in damages.

The civil case in the Clay County District Court started when Heinen Brothers filed a complaint last fall seeking rent for two T-hangars from May through July 31, 2013 the removal of two Beech aircraft parked at the airport and “the cost of repairs to physical damages” at the airport.

Spicer filed an answer Sept. 10 stating he had a long-term agreement for lease of the hangars, that he was not in default of payments, and sought three-fold damages for a third aircraft and other property destroyed or removed from the hangars he was renting.

Spicer claimed he is not responsible for any repairs and sought an additional $75,000 in damages. He amended his answer early this week asking for $500,000 and adding “abuse of process” among the claims against Heinen Brothers.

Spicer also alleged in the first answer that the awarding of the airport manager and fixed-based operator contracts to Heinen had been done through fraudulent means because the company did not intend to fulfill those contracts or lacked the capacity to do so. He claimed the new owners are in breach of obligations required by those contracts, including properly staffing the airport, providing services to the public including fuel, flight training, mechanical services and other aviation services.

Spicer also claimed Heinen Brothers are in violation of the Kansas Anti-Trust Act and other statutes pertaining to airports because they are “attempting to destroy competition at the airport by granting exclusive rights to itself.”

Airport violations Spicer alleged in his response including allowing Heinen pilots to fly approach entries in a careless and reckless manner in violation of Federal Aviation Administration regulations, allowing aircraft to run unattended with small children in the area, causing chemicals and contaminated water from spraying operations to spill at the airport, nearly colliding with a student in training under Spicer, providing false information to the public, and violating a grant agreement with the FAA.

Heinen Brothers filed answers denying all those claims and have amended their answer. There have been several court appearances and conferences on the case since September.

A request to send the case to trial has been submitted, but is not on the docket because the latest amendment is waiting review by a district judge.


Philadelphia International Airport (KPHL), Pennsylvania

Snowy owl killed by cargo plane at Phila. airport

PHILADELPHIA - A snowy owl that decided to make his home at Philadelphia International Airport, likely because the flat land was similar to his treeless Arctic home, was killed early Wednesday when he was struck by a cargo plane.

The owl, nicknamed Philly, had been caught at the airport Jan. 9 and relocated to Lancaster County, but within a few days had found his way back to the airport, where he hunted rodents until his death, said Scott Weidensaul, an author and naturalist who was tracking the bird.

He was not the only snowy owl to take up residence at a Pennsylvania airport. One at Pittsburgh International Airport was caught and relocated this week. Another, spotted at the Hazleton airport, is on the loose.

"Where they come from, there are no trees. It's flat and treeless," Weidensaul said. "They're looking for places that look like home."

There has been a massive migration south of snowy owls from northern Quebec, where the birds had an especially fruitful breeding season last year with an overabundance of lemmings, their favorite food.

Since late November, snowy owls have been reported as far south as Florida and Bermuda, Weidensaul said. A large number have taken up residence at the Jersey Shore, drawing bird watchers from around the region.

"This was completely unexpected. Suddenly, there were owls everywhere," he said.

He and other researchers put together a tracking project called Project SNOWstorm, which has raised more than $27,000 on the crowdfunding site

When Philly was caught, he was fitted with a GPS unit. Maps of all his movements can be viewed at

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Ogden-Hinckley Airport (KOGD), Ogden, Utah

Ex-Police Chief Greiner named Ogden airport manager 

OGDEN -- After four months of interim work, former Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner has been named full-time manager of the Ogden-Hinckley Airport.

The city announced the appointment Wednesday afternoon, saying Greiner had been selected for the job after the review of more than 80 applications and in-depth interviews of a national base of candidates.

Director of Community and Economic Development Tom Christopulos said the selection process included participation by various stakeholders including the Ogden Regional Airport Association and the Ogden Airport Advisory Board as well as input from federal agencies.

"He is, by consensus, the strongest candidate to help construct a multi-faceted business plan and move the airport forward," Christopulos said. "Jon served as interim manager for the past four months, and in that time he has identified airport needs, presented creative ideas and successfully communicated how to move the airport forward in the next decade."

Greiner said one of his major initiatives will be to expand its commercial air service.

In September 2012, the airport began commercial airline service between Ogden and Mesa, Ariz.

The service is provided by Allegiant Air, a subsidiary of the Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Co., and offers flights twice weekly.

The city has said that the service has continued to do extremely well, with the flights averaging higher than 90 percent of their maximum passenger capacity of 166.

"We need to move the airport closer to self-sufficiency," Greiner said. "And one of the best ways to do that is to attract more commercial service."

Greiner said he will also look to expand facilities at Ogden-Hinckley and that the airport needs to better conform with Transportation Security Administration requirements.

Greiner was pinned as interim airport manager in October, replacing former manager Royal Eccles.

Hired as airport manager in August 2011 by then-Mayor Matthew Godfrey, Eccles' dismissal was abrupt and unceremonious, but he received letters of support from several members of the aviation community. 

Ogden City has declined to comment on the dismissal, other than to say it was justified and city policy calls for all personnel matters to stay in-house.

The Standard-Examiner reached Eccles for this story, but he declined comment.

Greiner served as Ogden police chief for 16 years, but was dismissed in December 2012 because of a federal Hatch Act violation involving federal grants and his candidacy and service as a state senator.

The city did not disclose Greiner's salary Wednesday, but a Utah Government Records Access and Management Act request by the Standard-Examiner in November showed that Greiner was paid $3,000 every two weeks while fulfilling his duties as interim airport manager.

Eccles made $80,000 annually as airport manager.

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Carlson Sparrow II, N5955Y: Accident occurred December 04, 2013 in Jeromesville, Ohio

NTSB Identification: CEN14LA079 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, December 04, 2013 in Jeromesville, OH
Aircraft: THOMPSON WILLIAM A SPARROW II, registration: N5955Y
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 4, 2013, about 1240 eastern standard time, an experimental, amateur-built Thompson Sparrow II, N5955Y, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near Jeromesville, Ohio. The pilot sustained serious injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operated on a flight plan. The flight originated from a private airstrip about 1230.

The pilot informed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors that he was in the process of testing a new carburetor that he recently installed. After conducting some taxi testing with the newly installed carburetor, he flew the airplane around his farm without incident. He did not recall the events after that point in time. The pilot believed that he took off again and that the engine lost power, but he was unsure at what point during the flight that might have occurred. He recalled that he might have been attempting to return to the runway at the time of the accident.

The airplane came to rest upright. The propeller assembly and engine cowling had separated and were located in the debris path. The propeller blades remained attached to the hub and appeared undeformed. The nose landing gear had collapsed. The nose and center fuselage structure was deformed. Both wings were twisted and exhibited leading edge crush damage. The flight controls remained attached to the wing. The empennage appeared intact with the exception of the lower portion of the rudder, which was deformed. The fuel tanks appeared intact and contained fuel. A postaccident on-scene examination of the airplane did not reveal any anomalies attributable to a preimpact failure or malfunction.

FAA records indicate that the pilot was issued a student pilot certificate on July 25, 2012; however, there was no record of the pilot having been issued an airman medical certificate. He could not provide any record of an endorsement for solo flight as required by the regulations. The pilot informed FAA inspectors that he did not maintain a flight time logbook. However, he reported accumulating about 300 hours total flight time, with about 30 hours in Sparrow II airplanes. The pilot also informed inspectors that he had been involved in previous accidents that had not been reported to the FAA or NTSB.

The accident airplane was issued an experimental airworthiness certificate in October 1998. The pilot bought the airplane in April 2012. However, FAA records indicated that the pilot did not submit the required documentation to transfer the registration. The airplane registration was subsequently cancelled on September 3, 2014. The pilot informed FAA inspectors that he did not maintain any maintenance logbooks for the aircraft. Although the pilot reported maintaining the airplane himself, there was no record of the pilot holding a mechanic or repairman certificate.

NTSB Identification: CEN14LA079
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, December 04, 2013 in Jeromesville, OH
Aircraft: THOMPSON WILLIAM A SPARROW II, registration: N5955Y
Injuries: 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 4, 2013, about 1240 eastern standard time, a Thompson Sparrow II, N5955Y, impacted terrain near Jeromesville, Ohio. The pilot sustained serious injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operated on a flight plan. The flight originated from a private airstrip about 1230.


JEROMESVILLE — The Federal Aviation Administration says the pilot injured in an experimental aircraft that crashed Dec. 4 near Jeromesville had been involved in previous accidents never reported to authorities.

The preliminary report issued Jan. 13 said William E. Moore, 65, of 295 Township Road 1600, told an investigator who interviewed him at Kingston Nursing Home in Ashland that he does not plan to fly again.

“I’m done flying,” Moore confirmed this week.

The Jeromesville man told the News Journal he felt comfortable tinkering with an experimental, amateur-built aircraft because of his background as a mechanical/electrical engineer, but he had become increasingly concerned about problems he’d had flying the plane when the crash occurred.

Moore said he’d taken about half of the training he needed to fly solo, and was hoping to perfect his skills with touch-and-goes on a sod strip at his farm. His goal was to take his wife, who loves to fly, up in the Sparrow 11 he purchased April 9, 2012, he said.

Instead, after two short flights without incident, the aircraft apparently fell while Moore was turning it an estimated 150 feet to 200 feet in the air. Moore suffered two broken legs and a broken arm, and he was unconscious for five days after the accident. Medical staff told him he had bruised his brain, and it took two to three weeks before he could think normally, he said.

Moore still is recovering at Kingston. Doctors have told him it could be six more weeks before he can safely put weight on his right leg.

The FAA said Moore had about 300 hours of flying time in ultralights and about 30 hours in the Sparrow II when the crash occurred.

FAA investigator Arnold Wolfe wrote that Moore, laid up at the nursing home, told him about “many of the accidents he had in the Sparrow 11” before the crash.

In one incident, Moore hit power lines by his house, which stopped the aircraft and caused it to fall to the ground tail first. The Jeromesville man wasn’t injured, but the plane’s tail was destroyed. Moore, who did all of the maintenance on his plane, rebuilt that, the report said.

“During the investigation at the accident site, I noticed numerous cold welds on the fuselage structure,” Arnold wrote. “One tube became disconnected and was laying on the floor of the fuselage. It looked as if it just fell off.”

The FAA investigator wrote that Moore told him it became apparent after he rebuilt the tail section that the ailerons were rigged incorrectly, causing the Sparrow to go left when he initiated a right turn.

Moore’s flight instructor for ultralights, Gene Berger, told the FAA he saw the Sparrow 11 at the Shelby Airport, where Moore took it for a test flight, and noticed the aileron cables were held together with zip ties instead of a turnbuckle.

According to the preliminary report, none of Moore’s previous accidents were reported to the FAA or the National Transportation Safety Board.

On Dec. 4, the 65-year-old was testing new carburetors he had just installed. He told the FAA he taxied the aircraft up and down his sod runway a few times with the cowling off to check the engine operation, then flew around the farm and landed with no apparent issues.

Moore said his wife was watching when he reached an altitude of 150 to 200 feet, then turned the plane. Then, it crashed.

The FAA report said Moore didn’t remember the crash. “He stated ‘I think I took off again and the engine quit at some point. I think I was returning to the runway, but I am not sure,’” Arnold said.

Moore said he believes he may not have brought the engine up to full speed, which meant he couldn’t pull enough airlift. “I think I’m very lucky. If my wife hadn’t been home, I probably would have been dead. I would have bled to death,” he said.

Both wings and the nosecone of the Sparrow 11 were damaged by the impact.

Moore had a student pilot certificate, but no repairman or mechanic certificate, according to the FAA. The report said the Jeromesville man kept no pilot flight or maintenance logbooks. Arnold wrote that Moore pointed to his head, telling him he kept that information “up here.”

The aircraft was not registered, and the airworthiness certificate and operation limitations did not appear to be on the Sparrow when it crashed, according to the agency.

Moore said he took up ultralight flying eight years ago, after hearing a radio advertisement for a flying club. He never had any major incidents while flying ultralights, but he occasionally had to make minor repairs, he said.

The Sparrow 11 was “a lot different,” he said.

“I had a major crash a year and a half ago. It was my fault. I just put it in a power stall. I hit a tree limb and it spun me around. It put me tail down first, into a field.” Though he wasn’t hurt — “it was like landing on a shock absorber” — the experience was scary, he said.

“I found that the engine I had in the plane wasn’t strong enough to do what I wanted to do,” he said.

He said he feels badly that his wife is having to spend time with him at Kingston, rather than somewhere a lot further south, as Ohio remains in the grip of record low winter temperatures.

The two had been planning to take off in an RV to spend the colder months “somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico,” Moore said.

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Ashland County Chief Deputy Sheriff Carl Richert inspects the experimental aircraft that crashed in a bean field off Township Road 1600 on Dec. 4. 

Ashland County Chief Deputy Sheriff Carl Richert inspects the hand built experimental aircraft that crashed in a bean field of Twp. Rd. 1600 Wednesday afternoon sending one man to the hospital with serious injuries.

Viperjet MK II, N999VJ: Incident occurred January 29, 2014 in Chino, California


CHINO >> An experimental aircraft had a rough landing Wednesday at Chino Airport, prompting a response from the city’s fire personnel.

The nose gear of the aircraft, a home-built Viperjet MK II with tail number N999VJ, collapsed when the plane landed on the runway, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Chino Valley Fire District responded to the airport at 11:39 a.m., expecting a plane crash, fire officials stated in a press release.

Instead, they found a two-seater experimental jet that had lost its nose gear when it landed with a flat tire, according to airport officials.

The two people on board were not injured, and there was no fuel leak, the FAA reported.

An FAA online registry revealed the Viperjet had a valid certificate and is registered to Russell W. Skinner of Dana Point.

The FAA is conducting an investigation of the incident.

Moline school district asks judge to reconsider Elliott Aviation ruling

The Moline-Coal Valley School District wants a Rock Island County judge to reconsider his decision to uphold a state law that grants a property tax break to Elliott Aviation.

Further, the district wants Circuit Judge Frank Fuhr to enter an order that permanently stops local and state governments from enforcing the property tax break to the company, which leases land at the Quad-City International Airport.

The motion will be heard April 1.

On Feb. 1, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill that grants Elliott Aviation tax-exempt status on the property it leases at the airport and on any future improvements it makes to the property.

Later that month, the district filed a lawsuit against Quinn; the Illinois Department of Revenue and its director, Brian Hamer; the Rock Island County Board of Review and members Dan DePorter, Joan Russell and Dick Shroeder; Rock Island County chief assessor Larry Wilson; Blackhawk Township Assessor Winna Pannell; and Coal Valley Township Assessor Rose Booker.

The district argued that the law is unconstitutional and that enforcing it will result in a loss of $150,000 in property taxes annually.

Elliott Aviation was not named as a party in the lawsuit but was granted a request to intervene. Elliott last year announced plans for a $1.8 million expansion of Elliott Aviation's Moline headquarters, adding 50 jobs over the next two years.

Elliott Aviation is a fixed-base operator, which means it has been granted permission to operate at the airport to provide aeronautical services, such as fueling and hangars.

Fuhr wrote in his Dec. 11 order that the law is not arbitrary but is "reasonably related to a legitimate state interest: job creation and economic development" and thus does not violate due process and equal protection clauses.

Fuhr also ruled that the district failed to prove that the law violates a special clause that prohibits legislators from "conferring" a special benefit or privilege upon a person or group and excluding others who are similarly situated.

Fuhr wrote that the evidence shows that Elliott Aviation is "uniquely situated" and the Legislature acted within its power to enact the law.

In its motion filed Jan. 9, the district argued that the law specifically benefits Elliott Aviation but not other similarly situated companies and fixed-based operators in Illinois.

"If lowering taxes creates jobs and that is the purpose of an act then a general law should be required, not Public Act 97-1161, which selects special beneficiaries," according to the motion.

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