Saturday, March 08, 2014

Above the Clouds: New non-profit teaches kids to soar

It's not the way a typical teenager spends a Friday afternoon, testing fuel levels on a small four-seat plane, but 17-year-old Yves Bellevue of Boston is among the first in a program that aims to help disadvantaged teens or kids fighting illness to 'rise above it all'.

As he rolls down the runway, hands on the controls, Bellevue is given an enormous amount of responsibility and the opportunity to soar.

"It feels amazing actually, being up in the air," Bellevue told Fox News. "It feels like you're weightless and it's really fun."

Above the Clouds is a Massachusetts-based non-profit founded just over a year ago by lawyer and pilot Gary Oberstein.

"I became a pilot nine years ago when my wife gave me a little joy ride here at the airport for my birthday and a few years later I started flying charity flights for benefits, for galas," said Oberstein.

At one of the benefit events someone who bid on and won his services donated the flights back to the charity.

"So I flew with these kids- two wagonfulls of kids- and the joy that it brought to these kids who had never been outside of Boston before was really amazing and the idea eventually came that why not put together the love of flying with an interest in helping kids who are one way or another facing some kind of adversity," said Oberstein.

The Above the Clouds mission is to bring joy and hope through the wonder of flight. Volunteer pilots have taken more than two dozen seriously ill children for rides so far, taking off from the Norwood Memorial Airport in Norwood, Massachusetts. The kids are called "Dream Flyers."

"They're going to sit in the copilot's seat and they're actually going to fly the plane," said Oberstein. "These are kids who've been very, very sick... through very, very tough times and they haven't experienced much joy in their lives for a long time."

Another part of the program focuses on "Cadet Flyers"- teenagers, like Bellevue, who aim to learn and earn their way to a solo flight.

"The best part is when they're actually taking off in the program they're thinking, 'well, if I can do this... then I can do anything, if I just work really hard and apply myself' and 'the sky is the limit' and that's really the pot of gold at the end of the runway," said Oberstein.

The drop-out rate in the Boston Public Schools is nearly 15%, but to be a Cadet Flyer you must go to class and do your homework. Bellevue lives with his single mom in the city and says the flight lessons have inspired him.

"This makes me want to have something definitely to do with planes," said Bellevue, "like either the Air Force or aerospace engineering to make better designs for planes."

The message from Above the Clouds is that despite adversity-- with hard work-- a bright future lies on the horizon.

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Directorate General of Civil Aviation orders seizure of Verma's pilot's license: Cessna 172, VT-EUC

BHOPAL: Director general of civil aviation (DGCA) has asked Betul district collector to seize private pilot license (PPL) of the pilot who had landed a private aircraft on National Highway (NH) 69 near Milanpur village on December 31. 

The aircraft, owned by NRI businessman Sam Verma, made an emergency landing, blocking traffic on the highway. It was supposed to land at the runway inside Verma's tyre factory, nearby but strong winds forced the pilot to make emergency landing on highway.

Only the pilot of aircraft, Jacob, was on board when plane landed on highway, sources said.

Collector R K Mishra told TOI, "DGCA has asked us to seize PPL of pilot and send it to them. I have asked the SP to get it".

Industrialist Sam verma - whose private pilot license (PPL) lapsed way back in 2001 - claimed he wasn't flying that day and it was his pilot, Jacob, in the cockpit.

Mishra had ordered a separate probe against Verma. Reportedly, the same plane is said to have made a similar landing on the highway on December 23.


New executive hangars to be built at Steamboat Springs Airport (KSBS) - Colorado

Steamboat Springs — Four years after the development first was proposed, the plan to build new hangars at Steamboat Springs Airport finally is taking off.

The city of Steamboat Springs and Colorado Group Realty broker Randall Hannaway announced this week the five new executive hangars proposed for the airport all have been reserved, and initial construction could start as early as this spring.

The new facilities will accommodate aircraft ranging in size from smaller single-engine aircraft such as Piper Meridians to bigger aircraft such as the King Air 90.

“I think it's going to be great for the airport and great for the community,” Public Works Director Chuck Anderson said about the hangar project. “The persistence on all sides paid off. Here we are four years later, and they're going to happen. It shows the viability of the airport.”

The hangars from the Denver-based Aviation Development Group will be built between the terminal building that is being leased by SmartWool and the airport's maintenance building.

Aircraft owners who have reserved the hangars have paid deposits, and the sales and pricing will be finalized in the coming weeks.

The original proposal called for the construction of about seven smaller hangars, but Hannaway said for every call he got about the smaller facilities, he got several more from aircraft owners who wanted bigger hangars to accommodate bigger planes.

The executive hangars will range in size from 3,600 square feet to 5,280 square feet and offer better heating, lighting and insulation systems than previous hangars at the airport.

Hannaway, the broker handling the sales of the hangars, said all of the buyers will have their aircraft based out of Steamboat, with many of them using their planes for business.

“These owners are living here, spending dollars here, and they're using the aircraft to get to the businesses,” Hannaway said. “They have an economic impact.”

Anderson and Hannaway said the hangars also could provide a temporary place for planes to park and stay warm if the hangar tenants are willing to let them be used when their aircraft aren't inside.

Hannaway said because the current inventory of hangars is booked at the aiport, it's harder to do that now.

“It's really going to be nice to have some extra places to put some planes,” Hannaway said.

Without the ability to de-ice at Steamboat Springs Airport or park in a hangar, some aircraft have been stuck at the airport while waiting for better weather conditions to take off.

Hannaway and Anderson said the new hangars also could attract more public investment at the airport.

“Whenever the Federal Aviation Administration is allocating funds, they like to see private investment at airports,” Hannaway said.

At the time of purchase, the owners will enter into a 40-year lease agreement with the city.

When the city originally sought proposals for the private development of the hangars in 2010, buying interest was slow.

Anderson said Aviation Development Group was given extensions by the city to get them reserved, and the new hangars were called for in a master plan done for the airport in 2008.

According to FAA records, there are 89 aircraft currently based at Steamboat Springs Airport, including 73 single-engine general aviation aircraft, eight multi-engine aircraft, two jets and six general aviation helicopters.

The summer hangar project will bring the number of hangars up to 39, with 10 owned by the city.

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Federal Aviation Administration Hiring Changes Concern Aspiring Air Traffic Controllers (with video)

ANCHORAGE -  Recently lowered Federal Aviation Administration hiring requirements for air traffic controllers aren't flying with everyone, as current and former ATC students wonder whether their degrees will still help them get jobs.

The University of Alaska Anchorage's ATC program is one of 36 such U.S. schools approved by the FAA. Under the old FAA hiring requirements, graduates of the program had a one-in-three chance of getting hired based on their education, according to Aviation Technology associate professor Sharon LaRue -- but the FAA recently removed that preference.

"(Students) have come here believing this was the path, because it was told to them that it was the path, and to have that taken away at the last minute seems inherently unfair," LaRue said.

To be considered for an air traffic control position, applicants must have a bachelor's degree, three years of work experience or a combination of education and work experience. In a statement explained its decision to change the hiring requirements, the FAA cites the need to recruit better-qualified candidates and reduce costs associated with testing and training.

"Improvements were made to enhance decision making and increase objectivity in the assessment of candidates," FAA officials wrote.

According to the agency, the selection process for new air traffic controllers was very competitive. Over two weeks, the FAA received more than 28,000 applications for 1,700 positions.

LaRue points out that the change could actually cost the FAA more money, because now it will have to train candidates who do not have an ATC college degree.

"They are paying for more people that potentially won't complete the training," LaRue said. "I'm not saying they won't, I'm saying ours are coming in with a very good knowledge of what the job is about and the basics of the job."

Program graduate Bryan Ralph moved to Alaska from Salt Lake City to attend UAA's program. He completed his degree in December 2013 and is now waiting to be hired. In the meantime, he works as a lab technician for the ATC program, teaching students, but he's now unsure if his education will even help him.

"It was kind of devastating because you put all this time and effort and money in everything, and then they almost tell you that it really doesn't mean anything any more," Ralph said.

Ralph says he's not sure what he'd tell others who express interest in a career as an air traffic controller.

"If someday I have kids and they say 'I want to be an air traffic controller', I can't tell them which way to go because right now it seems it's the luck of the draw," Ralph said.

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Red Eagle Aviation could be fined by Federal Aviation Administration: Kalispell City Airport (S27), Montana

KALISPELL, Mont. – The Federal Aviation Administration claims the business that runs the Kalispell City Airport, Red Eagle Aviation, did not follow federal guidelines for maintenance on one of their choppers.

Just last fall, Kalispell voters turned down a plan to expand and upgrade the airport.

On January 1, Red Eagle Aviation took over managing the airport. The very next day, we found out the FAA planned to fine Red Eagle $90,000 for not keeping up on required maintenance for one of its choppers.
Scott Davis says he hears planes and helicopters fly over his Kalispell home all the time. Davis is the spokesperson for Quiet Skies of Kalispell, a group that fought against the proposed expansion of the city airport.

Davis is upset with Red Eagle Aviation, a flight training school run out of the Kalispell City Airport.
What concerns Davis is where Red Eagle is training its new pilots.

“I would hope they would train their pilots over farm land instead of over the residents of Kalispell,” said Davis.

But now, Davis sees another problem. The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a civil penalty against Red Eagle Aviation, for not keeping up on required maintenance of one of its helicopters. The FAA claims the chopper wasn’t air-worthy.

Required maintenance on the helicopter’s tail and rotors wasn’t done from May of 2011 to May of 2013 for over 80 flights.

We reached out to Red Eagle to see what they had to say about the potential penalty, but they declined to comment on it, as it is an ongoing investigation.

Because of this new allegation, Davis believes they should start flying the helicopters in a different direction, away from residents homes.

“We’re hoping they would lift off of the airport, follow the highway out south of Kalispell until they’ve reached the city limits and the FAA height elevation, and then they can go anywhere they want,” Davis said.

This is the only penalty the company has ever faced that we could find.

As for where Red Eagle is flying, that isn’t against any FAA rule. But the change is one Davis believes is important for not just him, but the entire community.

“If Red Eagle is found in violation of FAA rules, that is a very serious charge. They are hundreds or thousands of pounds of material over day cares, our schools, our playgrounds, our backyards — it’s just irresponsible,” said Davis.


Yearly event on chopping block: Whiteside County Airport (KSQI), Rockfalls, Illinois

ROCK FALLS – The annual fly-in, drive-in breakfast at the Whiteside County Airport will not take place this year.

The meal has been ongoing for the past 30 years, hosted by Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 410. Due to dwindling membership and increasing age, the members decided on this course.

Any organization interested in being the new host is welcome to take over the breakfast. Chapter 410’s equipment and advice is available for a share of the profit.

Those interested, can contact Dion Carr, chapter president, at or 309-441-6106, or William Havener, treasurer, at 815-626-0910.