Monday, March 10, 2014

Pilots from around the country enjoy Alton Bay ice: Alton Bay Seaplane Base (B18), New Hampshire

ALTON — Every winter, when the surface of Alton Bay freezes into thick ice, an airport is reborn.

The Alton Bay Airport, an airstrip on the ice of Lake Winnipesaukee, is owned and operated by the state. Airport Manager Paul Larochelle and his staff maintain the 2,600-foot runway, keeping it plowed and smooth for single-engine planes, the largest planes (aside from seaplanes) allowed to land.

There are very few local people using the airport, which has quietly been operating on the lower end of Lake Winnipesaukee since the late 1960s, Larochelle said.

It's mostly used by aviation enthusiasts from the region and around the country, most of whom enjoy landing on the ice and wandering around the Alton Bay ice, where two dozen or so airplanes park on any given weekend day.

"The airport is a novelty," Larochelle said. "It's the only airport like this in the country, and people really enjoy landing here."

On Saturday afternoon, planes were landing at the rate of about five an hour, which is not unusual, he said.

The airport aids the local economy by bringing new customers to town. Residents and the aviation enthusiast community know the airport well, but most people in the area and in the state don't know much about it, airport workers said.

On Saturday, the ice at the airport was busy with pilots and locals milling about, enjoying the parade of planes coming and going. The ice was almost as busy as it had been on the north end of the lake in Meredith in February, when thousands flocked to a fishing derby and a pond hockey tournament.

"A lot of people in the area don't know about (the airport)," Larochelle said. "But everyone here loves it."

"It's a really nice little airport, and landing on the ice is really fun," said Kim Brown of Hampton Falls, whose plane crashed at the airport Saturday.

Chris Clayton of Emerson Aviation in Gilford said the airport is a favorite for pilots.

"It's really beautiful here, everyone loves flying here," he said.

The airport is a registered seaplane base, Larochelle said.

Story and photo:

Cirrus SR22, N883JP: Alton Bay Ice Runway/Alton Bay Seaplane Base (B18), New Hampshire

Small plane skids off runway on Alton Bay: Pane landing on ice runway veers into snowbank

ALTON, N.H. —A small plane crashed into a snowbank Monday on Alton Bay, but no one was injured. 

The Federal Aviation Administration said the Cirrus aircraft veered off the end of the runway on frozen Lake Winnipesaukee.

The FAA said there were three people on board, and no injuries were reported.

The aircraft left from Lawrence Municipal Airport in Massachusetts.

Another small plane crashed on the runway over the weekend.

On Saturday morning, the wing of a single-engine experimental plane clipped a snowbank and spun out of control.   The pilot was the only person on board and was uninjured.

The Alton Bay Ice Runway is operational in the winter when the lake is frozen over.

 Officials said the runway is safe for planes to land.

Story, video, photo gallery and comments/reaction:

Chicago-bound Air India flight suffers snag, back to Delhi 6 hours after take-off

NEW DELHI: A Chicago-bound Boeing 777 of Air India on Monday returned to Delhi six hours after taking off from IGI airport as the aircraft suffered a transponder failure just when it was about to cross Afghanistan. The flight, AI 127 with 313 passengers and 16 crew members, had flown for about three hours out of India when the transponder failed.

The pilot then had to return to Delhi as an aircraft cannot enter Europe without a working transponder. The aircraft was a Boeing 777-300 ER (extended range).

"The plane returned to Delhi safely. Passengers will be sent to Chicago after a while as the crew duty time limitation kicked in. We are trying to make alternate arrangements at the earliest," said an AI official.

Transponder plays several crucial roles: it gives a collision warning to the pilot if another aircraft gets too close for comfort; pilots can use it to send distress signal discreetly to ATC and finally, it gives all details of the aircraft on the blips that appear on ATC radars. The emergency situations that transponders are used to warn ground controllers about are communication failure, hijack and any other emergency.

Transponder is the primary means for ground radar to identify an aircraft so that radar controller knows the position, altitude and speed of an aircraft. Apart from safety issues, failure of transponder means that in a busy airport an unidentified blip causes confusion and ATCs have to contact the aircraft.

In the past few months, Boeing's Dreamliners have been suffering transponder failures and AI has taken this issue up with the US aircraft major.

Before Monday's transponder failure, an AI Dreamliner too had suffered the same problem over Afghanistan about a fortnight back. 

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Atlantic City International Airport (KACY), New Jersey

Officials: Cargo carriers could boost jobs at Atlantic City Airport 

Atlantic City International Airport’s growth strategy has focused primarily on attracting more airline service, but a new element is emerging — packages, as well as passengers.

There are no cargo carriers serving the airport; UPS, FedEx, DHL and other air-freight companies simply don’t fly here. And the prospects of having them land at Atlantic City International any time soon are unclear.

But cargo carriers are highly coveted. Airport supporters argue that cargo operators may be just as prized as passenger airlines because of the jobs and economic development they could bring to the region.

“I don’t think there is anything more important to the county and the region than the expansion of the airport and the creation of jobs,” said Absecon Mayor John Armstrong, one of the area’s leading proponents of air-cargo operations.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which took over operation of Atlantic City International in July, said it is in talks with cargo carriers and related companies, but did not name them. Those discussions are going on simultaneously with the authority’s efforts to draw new passenger air service.

“The Port Authority’s mission at Atlantic City International Airport is primarily to increase the number of commercial-passenger air carriers. Such efforts, however, also boost cargo operations, since the majority of air cargo currently moves in the holds of passenger aircraft,” agency spokesman Ron Marsico said in a statement.

Marsico said the talks include not just the possibility of cargo operators flying here but having shipping companies develop new facilities on the airport grounds.

Airport backers assert that cargo carriers and shipping companies are absolutely key to Atlantic City International’s growth. They believe the region’s casino-dominated economy could be diversified if cargo carriers establish a home base here.

Armstrong maintained that thousands of job losses in the casino industry in recent years have created an economic crisis. He sees the airport’s development as offering the greatest chance for a turnaround.

“We are in a depression in this area — not a recession, a depression,” he said. “It’s independent of the national economy. I think that the best and perhaps only realistic opportunity to generate new jobs, reasonably good-paying jobs, is through the utilization of the airport.”

Some planning has begun. An updated version of the airport’s 2010 master plan envisions a 20-acre site on the airfield to accommodate cargo carriers and a freight-handling facility. The area would handle as many as five large cargo planes, such as the ones used by the major freight carriers. But the project remains on the drawing board while Atlantic City International awaits the arrival of the cargo companies.

Industrial parks in Absecon and other Atlantic County communities surrounding the airport — located 10 miles west of Atlantic City in Egg Harbor Township — could provide the land and infrastructure to support cargo operations, Armstrong said.

Also working in the airport’s favor is a centralized location and a well-developed highway network that would serve the cargo companies well once their planes land and packages are transferred to trucks for final shipment, one state lawmaker said.

“The cargo capitalizes on the location of the airport, sort of in the center of the East Coast megalopolis,” said Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic. “If you fly to Atlantic City, you’re in the middle of New York, Washington, D.C., and Philly.”

Whelan encouraged the Port Authority and the South Jersey Transportation Authority, the airport’s owner, to aggressively pursue cargo carriers instead of spending too much time and energy on courting passenger airlines.

“I think you have a better chance of landing cargo carriers than the traditional passenger ones,” Whelan said. “I’d love to be wrong about domestic flights coming, but I don’t see anything showing me success there.”

Prior to taking over Atlantic City International’s operations last year, the Port Authority commissioned a $3 million consulting study to gauge the potential for new air service and cargo operations. QED Airport & Aviation Consultants, in a 58-page report, recommended air cargo as a new source of airport revenue, although most of its findings focused on the benefits of more airline service.

Spirit Airlines is currently the airport’s only scheduled carrier. However, the Port Authority has signed up United Airlines for daily service to Atlantic City from its Chicago and Houston hubs beginning April 1.

The airport’s growth is a crucial part of Gov. Chris Christie’s five-year initiative to boost Atlantic City tourism. The governor wants to revive the casino industry by attracting more conventioneers and overnight visitors. Under the plan, the day-tripping gamblers who have been lost to competing casino markets in surrounding states would be replaced by visitors who fly to Atlantic City and stay a few nights.

While debate continues on the likelihood of that strategy succeeding in coming years, some are pushing for an immediate lift to the local economy. Armstrong bluntly said, “We’re desperate here.”

“We don’t have a lot of time,” he continued. “We need more jobs. It’s got to be related to that airport. That’s all we’ve got, and it’s a lot.”

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Cessna 120, N76856: Fatal accident occurred March 09, 2014 in Carson City, Nevada

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA132
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, March 08, 2014 in Carson City, NV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/19/2015
Aircraft: CESSNA 120, registration: N76856
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The owner/pilot regularly made roundtrip flights between his home airport and another airport located about 25 miles to the northwest. A north-south mountain range, with peaks ranging between 8,300 and 9,400 ft above mean sea level (msl), separated the two airports. Due to the limited climb capability of the airplane, on each leg, the pilot would climb parallel to the mountain range until he gained sufficient altitude and then turn to cross the range. Thus, the pilot’s normal westbound (outbound) crossing segment was situated well north of his eastbound (return) crossing segment. The pilot typically crossed the mountain range at an altitude of 8,500 to 9,000 ft msl, which provided limited terrain clearance.

After successfully completing the outbound trip in the morning, the pilot departed on the 30-minute return trip in the late afternoon likely about 1 hour before sunset. The pilot did not return home, and the airplane was reported missing on the following day about the same time that another pilot who was overflying the mountain range spotted the wreckage. The accident site was located at an elevation of about 6,200 ft msl about 7 miles north of the pilot’s normal return trip crossing location, likely indicating that the pilot had turned early to cross the mountain range. Examination of the accident site indicated that the airplane impacted a hillside in a steep descent with a nose-down attitude. The airplane heading at the time of impact was about opposite of that required for the intended flight. 

The impact trajectory and attitude, airplane heading, and accident location are consistent with the airplane exceeding the critical angle of attack and entering an aerodynamic stall during the pilot’s execution of a course reversal turn. It is unknown why the pilot attempted to cross the mountain range at a different location than the one he normally used. It is possible that he turned early in order to cross before nightfall. Because he made the attempt to cross significantly closer to the departure airport than normal, there was a reduced amount of time and distance for the airplane to climb to an altitude sufficient to clear the mountain range. 

Propeller damage signatures indicated that the engine was developing power at the time of impact. Except for the engine primer handle, which was found in the unlocked and partially extended position, no pre-impact mechanical anomalies or deficiencies were noted with the engine or airframe. If the engine primer was unlocked during the flight, the engine would likely have been running rich, possibly resulting in reduced power and climb capability. However, the investigation was unable to determine whether the engine primer was unlocked during the flight or became unlocked during the accident sequence. A pilot report from earlier in the day indicated turbulence and downdrafts in the vicinity, which, if present during the accident flight, could have reduced the airplane’s ability to clear rising terrain.

The premature eastbound turn, possibly in combination with reduced climb capability due to reduced engine power, downdrafts, or both, placed the airplane in a situation that prevented a successful crossing and that the pilot failed to respond to until it was too late to escape. The pilot’s decision to reverse course may have been delayed because he had made many previous successful crossings and had a habit of crossing the range with limited terrain clearance. The delayed decision resulted in the pilot attempting the course-reversal turn without sufficient airplane performance capability to successfully complete it.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s delayed decision to initiate a course-reversal turn when the airplane was unable to attain sufficient altitude to cross a mountain range, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack and entering an aerodynamic stall during the turn. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s selection, for undetermined reasons, of a route different than his normal route.

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA132
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, March 08, 2014 in Carson City, NV
Aircraft: CESSNA 120, registration: N76856
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.


On March 9, 2014, about 1500 Pacific daylight time, the wreckage of a Cessna 120, N76856, was noticed by a pilot overflying mountainous terrain about 6 miles southeast of Carson City airport (CXP), Carson City, Nevada. The pilot notified the Carson City Sheriffs Office, and a ground team accessed the wreckage about 1600 that same day. They determined the identity of the airplane, and that the sole person on board had received fatal injuries. That person was subsequently identified as a private pilot who was the registered owner of the airplane. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and no FAA flight plan was filed for the flight. Neither the day or time of the departure, nor the day or time of the accident, were able to be determined with certainty. 

According to the pilot's girlfriend, the airplane was based at Farias Wheel airport (NV33) Smith Valley, Nevada, and the pilot had flown to CXP on March 8 for some shopping errands. The girlfriend's last communication from the pilot was a text message from him at 1538 on March 8. Because the pilot occasionally remained overnight at CXP, his girlfriend did not report the airplane missing until the next day, March 9, at about the same time that the overflying pilot spotted the wreckage.

On scene and subsequent examination of the wreckage revealed that airplane damage and ground scars were consistent with a steeply-descending flight path in a steep nose-down attitude, and that the engine was developing power at the time of impact.


Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records indicated that the pilot, age 59, held a flight instructor certificate with single and multi-engine, instrument airplane, ratings. His most recent flight review was completed in April 2013, and his most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued in November 2013. His most recent pilot logbook entry was dated March 2, 2014. Review of his logbook entries indicated that as of that date, the pilot had accumulated a total flight experience of 4,907.2 hours, including about 3,150 hours in single-engine airplanes.


According to FAA information, the high-wing, taildragger-configuration airplane was manufactured in 1946. It was equipped with a Continental Motors C-85 series engine with a rated output of 85 horsepower. The airplane was purchased by the pilot in June 2012.

The maintenance records indicated that the most recent annual inspection was completed on June 2, 2013, when the airplane had a total time (TT) in service of 5,492.27 hours and an unspecified hour meter indicated 3,599.66 hours. Review of the available records did not indicate any unusual or uncorrected items.

The airplane was not equipped with a stall warning system or any navigation radios. A partially completed FAA Form 337, filed with the FAA records division in Oklahoma City, indicated that seats from a Cessna 150 were installed in the airplane in 1987, but that installation was not properly approved by the FAA. There was no evidence consistent with those seats adversely affecting either the flight, or the survivability aspects of the accident.

At the time of the accident, the pilot had the airplane for sale, and several advertisement postings for the airplane were located in the airplane and on the internet.


The date and time of the accident were not able to be positively established. The CXP conditions from local noon to sunset on March 8 included clear skies, with winds from the east at 10 knots or below. Temperatures during that period ranged between 10 and 17 degrees C.

A Pilatus PC-7 pilot reported that about 1245 on March 8, while inbound to CXP in the vicinity of the accident site, and at an altitude of about 1,000 feet above ground, he encountered turbulence conditions that were "really bumpy," as well as a significant up- and down- draft.

According to the United States Naval Observatory, sunset at the accident site occurred at 1759 on March 8.


Review of advertisement information for the airplane, and discussions with the pilot's girlfriend, indicated that the airplane was not equipped with any navigation aids except a compass. Two closed, expired San Francisco sectional navigation charts, whose coverage area includes CXP and NV33, were recovered in the wreckage.


There were no known radio communications to or from the airplane during the accident flight.


According to FAA Airport/Facilities Directory information, the departure airport (CXP) was equipped with a single paved runway, designated 9/27, and airport elevation was 4,705 feet above mean sea level (msl). The airport was not equipped with an air traffic control tower (ATCT). A dedicated Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) was specified for radio communications use by arriving and departing aircraft. The CTAF communications were not recorded.

NV33 was situated at an elevation of 4,848 feet msl. The airport was not equipped with an ATCT.

CXP was located about 25 miles northwest of NV33. A north-south mountain range, with peaks ranging between approximately 8,300 and 9,400 feet msl, was situated between, and separated, the two airports. That range extended continuously from south of NV33 to north of CXP.


The impact site was at an elevation of about 6,200 feet msl, 6 miles, on a magnetic bearing of 131 degrees, from CXP. The site was near the eastern (higher, narrower) end of an approximately east-west valley in the mountain range that separated the origin and destination airports; the valley widened and descended to the west. Terrain to the north, east, and south of the accident site was all higher than the impact site. The surrounding terrain was mostly covered by vegetation, with a mix of trees and low scrub. The wreckage was situated on a partially-vegetated sandy slope, with an incline of about 30 degrees, and a downslope direction of 160 degrees magnetic.

The wreckage was tightly contained, and the airplane orientation was right side up. The fuselage was aligned on a magnetic heading of about 312 degrees, which was essentially opposite the heading required for a flight directly to the pilot's home airport, his presumed destination. All major components were accounted for at accident site.

The airplane was constructed with an all-metal fuselage, with fabric-covered wings and empennage. The fuselage was extensively crushed in the up and aft direction until just aft of cabin. The engine intruded aft into the cabin/cockpit, and the instrument panel was severely deformed. The occupiable volume of the forward cockpit had been reduced to about 40 percent of its original value. First responders reported that the pilot had to be cut out of his four-point restraint system; all buckles/ends were secured. There was no evidence of airplane rotation (spin) at impact. There was no structural damage to the tailcone/aft fuselage or the empennage.

Both wings remained partially attached to the fuselage. Although still attached to the airplane, the left wing was also entangled in a tree that remained standing, and which was only slightly damaged. The tree damage signatures were consistent with a 50- to 70-degree airplane descent trajectory. The right wing leading edge was crushed aft along its full span. All flight controls remained fully attached to their respective airfoils, except for a portion of the right aileron; that separation was consistent with impact damage. Exclusive of impact damage, flight control continuity was confirmed for each control surface. The elevator trim tab was found in the neutral/faired position

The cockpit fuel/engine primer handle was found in its unlocked and partially extended position, and the FAA inspector who conducted the initial on-scene survey indicated that he had observed it in that condition prior to the recovery of the pilot. The investigation was unable to determine whether the primer was unlocked during the flight, or had become unlocked during the impact sequence. The primer handle was free to move, and could be stowed in its locked position. The primer line was routed to a single jet in the intake manifold, immediately downstream of the carburetor.

Both fuel tanks contained fuel, and both fuel caps were found securely installed. The fuel tested negative for water. The fuel selector valve was found set to the left tank, and found to be unobstructed. Airplane damage precluded full assessment of the fuel system integrity, but no evidence of any pre-impact leaks or other mechanical abnormalities was observed.

Examination of the engine did not reveal any non-impact related evidence of catastrophic failure or other anomalies. The crankshaft was able to be rotated by hand; thumb compression was observed on all four cylinders, and continuity of the valve train was verified. Magneto impulse coupling activation was audible when the crankshaft was rotated, and sparks were observed on all eight ignition leads.

The all-metal, two-blade propeller remained attached to the engine, and the engine remained attached to the airframe. The propeller was almost completely buried in the sandy slope, and bore significant chordwise scouring of its paint. One blade exhibited aft bending and twisting, and the other blade exhibited light "S" bending from mid-span to the tip. All propeller signatures were consistent with powered rotation when the propeller contacted the sand.


The Washoe County (NV) Medical Examiner's Office conducted the autopsy on the pilot, and determined that the cause of death was "multiple blunt force injuries."

The FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) conducted forensic toxicology examinations on specimens from the pilot, and reported that no carbon monoxide, cyanide, or ethanol was detected. The only screened drug that was detected was Doxylamine, in the liver and blood. Doxylamine is an over-the-counter antihistamine marketed as NyQuil, and is used in the treatment of the common cold and hay fever. It is also marketed as Unisom, as a sleep aid. The medication is sold with warnings that it may impair mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks such as driving or "operating heavy machinery."

The medication has a half life of about 6 to 12 hours, and therapeutic levels are considered to be between 0.05 and 0.15 percent. The level of drug detected in the liver was not reported; the reported level in the blood was 0.14 percent. CAMI reported that post-mortem blood levels were not necessarily indicative of ante-mortem values, which could be lower or higher.

According to the pilot's girlfriend, it was possible that he took a particular brand of 50mg sleep aid containing Doxylamine about 2100 or 2200 on the evening of March 7. She reported that he preferred that brand because it "didn't make him groggy the following morning."


Date and Time of Accident

Several information sources were utilized in an unsuccessful attempt to positively establish the date and time of the accident. Searches of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) radio communications and radar data did not reveal any evidence of the accident flight. A non-NTSB examination of Fallon Naval Air Station (NFL) Fallon, Nevada, radar target data did not yield any targets that could be associated with the accident flight.

A receipt from the Carson City Home Depot store was located in the wreckage. That receipt bore a date/time stamp of March 8, 2014, at 2:12 pm.

Two different witnesses at CXP, both of whom were pilots, reported that they observed the airplane depart CXP on the afternoon of March 8.

One witness observed an airplane that matched the description of the accident airplane depart runway 9 about 1400 on Saturday, March 8. He observed the airplane from his hangar, which was situated about 4,000 feet down, and on the south side of, runway 9. He reported that the engine sounded "awful," and that when the airplane was abeam his hangar, it was about the height of his hangar, and "just was not climbing."

Another witness, who owned and operated a maintenance facility at CXP, observed an airplane that matched the description of the accident airplane land earlier in the day, and watched it depart from runway 9 about 1700 on Saturday, March 8. He noted that the airplane departed prior to sunset, but he did not note the departure direction after takeoff.

Those two CXP witness reports each appeared internally consistent and credible, but the investigation was unable to reconcile the apparent discrepancy regarding the departure time between the two reports. The reported departure time (1400) of the first report was inconsistent with the time and date stamp on the Home Depot receipt.

Review of the available March 8 text and email messages to or from the pilot indicated that the pilot's last message was sent to his girlfriend at 1538. The pilot was known to text while in flight, but the topic of the 1538 text (product selection assistance for the shopping errands in Carson City) was inconsistent with the text being sent after the pilot was airborne, when he was on his way home after the shopping was completed.

The pilot's girlfriend was not certain whether the pilot planned to return on March 8 or on the morning of March 9. On the morning of March 9, when the pilot had not returned, and the girlfriend had not heard from him despite a texted query, she initiated an unsuccessful telephone search among their friends. Subsequent to that effort, she conducted an aerial search of his normal routes, which was also unsuccessful. She then filed a missing persons report sometime in the mid afternoon of March 9.

Pilot's Flight Routes and Habits

The pilot's girlfriend, who was also a certificated pilot, reported that they owned two other airplanes, a Cessna 150 and a Piper Seneca. She stated that he made the round trip flights from NV33 to CXP approximately once every week, usually in one of the Cessna airplanes, and that when she accompanied him, they typically flew in the Cessna 150. She reported that he was familiar enough with the route that he did not need or use navigation charts.

The pilot's girlfriend stated that the pilot normally navigated the trip legs by visual means. However, she stated that when he conducted the flight at night, he took the C-150 because of its greater engine power, and the fact that it was equipped with a VOR navigation receiver, in order to avoid the need to rely solely on visual navigation. She reported that when he crossed the mountains at night, he climbed higher than normal to ensure sufficient terrain clearance.

According to the pilot's girlfriend, the accident site was not along the pilot's normal route of flight between the two airports. She explained that due to the north-south mountain range that separated NV33 from CXP, the route that the pilot followed to CXP was different from the route that he followed on the return trip. The rationale was that the pilot would climb parallel to the mountain range until he gained sufficient altitude, and then he would turn to cross the range.

Because CXP was northwest of NV33, on the outbound (NV33 to CXP) leg, the pilot's typical westbound range-crossing segment was north of his typical eastbound, return trip crossing segment. The pilot's girlfriend reported that the pilot's normal return trip crossing segment was located east of Minden, Nevada. Minden was located about 12 miles to the south of CXP. In contrast, the impact site was located about 5 miles to the south of CXP, which was approximately 7 miles north of (prior to) the point where the pilot normally conducted his eastbound crossing of the mountain range.

An interview with the pilot's daughter, who was not a pilot, revealed that she had flown with the pilot in both the C-150 and the Piper Seneca. She had seen the C-120, but told the pilot that she would not fly in that airplane with him.

The pilot's daughter stated that she had flown in the C-150 with the pilot. It was her opinion that he flew "uncomfortably close" to the terrain when he was crossing the mountains between CXP and NV33, and estimated that the terrain clearance was "hundreds of feet." When she expressed concern to him about the terrain proximity, he informed her that "we're catching the lift."

The pilot's daughter also reported that the pilot would text from his cell phone while flying/airborne. She witnessed him texting while she was in the airplane with him, and she also received text messages from him when he was airborne and inbound to meet her.

Engine Primer Information

The engine primer was a manually-powered pump system, which provides unmetered fuel to the engine cylinders to facilitate engine start. The primer handle was designed to lock in the closed position; for engine start it was to be unlocked, pumped a specified number of times, and then stowed and re-locked for the remainder of the flight. According to the airplane manufacturer's Operation Manual (OM) recovered from the wreckage, "The primer is not required except at winter temperatures."

FAA Advisory Circular AC 20-105B (Reciprocating Engine Power-Loss Accident Prevention and Trend Monitoring) stated the following, "if the primer pump handle is not locked in the closed position, raw fuel will continue to be drawn into the cylinders by the suction created in the affected cylinders during the intake cycle. The engine will run rough at low RPM, mimicking magneto problems, but will smooth out above 1700 RPM."

Chapter 10 of the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8081-3A) stated the following related to an engine failure, "Check to determine the cause of the engine malfunction, such as position of the fuel selectors, magneto switch, or primer. If possible, the cause of the malfunction should be corrected immediately and the engine restarted."

Engine Fuel Mixture/Control Information

The airplane was equipped with an engine fuel mixture control. Wreckage documentation indicated that the cockpit mixture control was found in its full rich position. Due to impact damage, the carburetor mixture setting was not able to be determined.

The Cessna OM did not contain any references to engine mixture during climb. The "Cruising" subsection of the "Operating Check List" section stated "above 5000 ft. lean mixture as required to obtain maximum r.p.m." The "Mixture Control" subsection of the "Operating Details" section stated that the mixture control was to always be set at full rich "for starting and take-off purposes." It also stated that "The mixture control should be used cautiously to lean mixtures to give maximum engine r.p.m. when flying above 5000 feet pressure altitude." The manual did not contain any additional information regarding which flight phases (climb, cruise, and descent) the leaning guidance was applicable to, or whether the engine should not be leaned in certain flight phases. The investigation was unable to determine the fuel mixture procedures that were used to determine the airplane climb performance values that were published in the Cessna OM.

In contrast, the Continental Motors Operator's Manual (OM) for the C-85 engine, which was not observed in the wreckage, stated that "Climb must be done at "FULL RICH" mixture setting." The Continental OM also contained a caveat which stated that the engine "must be operated in accordance with the instructions" in the manual, and that "failure to comply will be deemed as engine misuse, thus relieving the engine manufacturer of any responsibility."

Neither manual contained any statements as to which guidance takes precedence in the event of a conflict between the two. In response to an NTSB question regarding which manual guidance should take precedence, the FAA inspector stated that because the CAA Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) is specifically cited as a required item in the Cessna 120 Type Certificate Data Sheet, while the two OMs are not, the AFM takes precedence. However, the AFM did not address the subject of engine leaning/fuel mixture. According to the FAA inspector, in that case, the Cessna OM guidance takes precedence, because the engine can be installed in several different aircraft, and therefore the engine manufacturer's guidance is not installation- or aircraft-specific.

The Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25) stated that "Since the process of adjusting the mixture can vary from one aircraft to another, it is important to refer to the airplane flight manual (AFM) or the pilot's operating handbook (POH) to determine the specific procedures for a given aircraft."

A document entitled "Engine Operation for Pilots (P-8740-13)" located on the FAA website, and attributed jointly to "Teledyne Continental and AVCO Lycoming" stated that pilots should "Lean the mixture during climb to the specified fuel flow or for smooth operation above a density altitude of 5000 feet."

Weight and Balance, Airplane Performance

Investigation computations indicated that the airplane was about 130 lbs below its maximum certificated gross weight of 1,450 lbs, and was within its center of gravity envelope.

The airplane manufacturer's OM contained a chart of climb performance data for the airplane at its maximum gross weight. The chart stated rates of climb, in feet per minute, of 450, 360, and 260 for altitudes of 5,000, 7,500, and 10,000 feet, respectively. The maximum altitude in that chart for which performance data was provided was 15,000 feet.

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA132 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 09, 2014 in Carson City, NV
Aircraft: CESSNA 120, registration: N76856
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On March 9, 2014, about 1500 Pacific daylight time, the wreckage of a Cessna 120, N76856, was observed by a pilot overflying mountainous terrain about 6 miles southeast of Carson City airport (CXP), Carson City, Nevada. The pilot notified the Carson City Sheriff's Office, and a ground team accessed the wreckage about 1600 that same day. They determined the identity of the airplane, and that the sole person on board had received fatal injuries. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and no FAA flight plan was filed for the flight.

According to the girlfriend of the pilot, the airplane was based at Farias Wheel airport (NV33) Smith Valley, Nevada, and the pilot had flown to CXP on March 8 for some shopping errands. The girlfriend's last communication with the pilot was a text message from him at 1538 on March 8, asking whether she was planning to be home for dinner. She therefore expected him to return either later that day, or possibly on the morning of the following day, since occasionally he did remain overnight at CXP. She did not become concerned until mid-day March 9, and reported the airplane missing about the same time that the overflying pilot had noticed it.

Two different witnesses at CXP reported that they observed the airplane depart CXP on the afternoon of March 8. However, their two reported departure times differed by 3 hours, and that difference could not be readily reconciled. CXP was not equipped with an air traffic control tower, and preliminary searches of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) radio communications and radar data did not reveal any evidence of the accident flight. An initial query of Fallon Naval Air Station (NFL) Fallon, Nevada, radar data did not yield any data that could be associated with the accident flight.

The airplane impacted terrain in a nose-down attitude, at an elevation of about 6,200 feet above mean se level, near the eastern end of an approximately east-west valley which opened to the west. The wreckage was aligned on a magnetic heading of about 312 degrees. The engine data plate indicated that the airplane was equipped with an 85 hp Continental Aircraft Engines C-85 engine. The fixed-pitch all-metal propeller remained attached to the engine, and was nearly buried in the sandy soil. The propeller bore significant chordwise scouring on both blades. There was no fire. Initial examination of the wreckage did not detect any pre-impact mechanical deficiencies or failures.

According to FAA information, the airplane was manufactured in 1946. The pilot held a flight instructor certificate for single and multi-engine instrument airplanes. He held a second-class FAA medical certificate, and reported that he had a total flight experience of approximately 4,900 hours.


The pilot found dead Sunday in an airplane crash southeast of Carson City has been identified as Joseph James Miceli, 59, of Wellington. 

Carson City Sheriff Kenneth Furlong said Miceli left Wellington late Saturday afternoon in his Cessna 120.

On Sunday afternoon, about the same time a member of the Carson City Aero Squadron spotted the aircraft in the Pine Nut range 7.5 miles southeast of the Carson City Airport, Miceli’s family was reporting him missing, Furlong said.

It’s not clear of Miceli made it to the Carson City Airport and was returning or crashed on the way to the Carson City Airport, Furlong said.

An autopsy will be performed at the Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office. The National Transportation Safety Board will conduct the investigation into the crash.

The Cessna 120 was built in 1946. The NTSB lists one other crash for this plane, in 1995 in College Station, Texas. The plane landing gear got stuck in soft mud and the plane flipped, causing substantial damage to the nose and fuselage.

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Wellington pilot Joseph James Miceli identified as victim of plane crash near Carson City 

The pilot of a 1946 Cessna 120 found crashed east of Carson City on Sunday has been identified as Joseph James Miceli, 59, of Wellington, according to the Carson City Sheriff's Office.

On Sunday, shortly before 2 p.m., the Carson City Sheriff’s Office was notified of a suspected aircraft crash site located in the pine nut range several miles east of Sierra Vista (Carson River) in southern Carson City. By nightfall, Search and Rescue crews, along with detectives were able to access the site and confirm the information. The assistance of FAA and NTSB was requested, said Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong.

Monday morning, rescue crews from the FAA, Carson City Sheriff’s Office, and Carson City Fire Department accessed the crash site. Crews were able to remove the sole occupant of the aircraft. The aircraft has been identified as one of several owned by Miceli, a 1946 Cessna 120.
Don Gibson for Sheriff

Early information received suggested that Miceli left from Wellington in his aircraft during the afternoon hours Saturday. On Sunday, at approximately the same time as the discovery of the aircraft, Miceli was being reported missing to Lyon County authorities. It is not known at this time if Miceli ever arrived at the Carson City Airport, or if he was returning to Wellington. Exact time of the crash has not been determined.

The NTSB has jurisdictional authority on the investigation. Miceli’s body was removed and transported to the Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office where an autopsy will be performed.


NTSB Identification: FTW95LA223. 
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Thursday, June 01, 1995 in COLLEGE STATION, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/23/1995
Aircraft: CESSNA 120, registration: N76856
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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


The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

On June 1, 1995, at 1355 central daylight time, a Cessna 120, N76856, sustained substantial damage during landing near College Station, Texas. The commercial pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight.

According to witnesses at the airport, the airplane was executing a touch and go landing on Runway 10 at the Easterwood Airport (CLL). The pilot made a wheel landing and was rolling on the main tires when control was lost and the airplane departed the runway to the left. The main gear tires stuck in the soft mud at the edge of the runway and the airplane nosed over coming to rest in the inverted position, resulting in damage to the wings and fuselage.

The pilot stated that he was cleared to follow a Saab 340 airplane to land on runway 10. The pilot estimated that he had a two mile separation behind the landing regional airliner. The pilot stated that directional control could not be maintained after encountering the wing vortex wake turbulence from the landing aircraft. He further stated that the light quartering tailwind prevailing at the time of the accident contributed to the accident. Wind was from 200 degrees at 4 knots.

Santa Monica Municipal Airport (KSMO), California

Opinion: Anti-airport commission fumbles 

By Bill Bauer on March 9, 2014

What on Earth were they thinking? I’m talking about the Santa Monica (anti) Airport Commission?

After a federal judge tossed out City Hall’s lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over future uses at the 227-acre Santa Monica Airport (SMO) property last month, “The Airport Commission voted 4 to 1 to send a recommendation to City Council that would halt the sale of aviation fuel and restrict the rental of airport property to any tenants other than art studios and those doing light manufacturing.” They also suggested raising all rents to market rate, reported the Santa Monica Daily Press (“Airport Commission recommends starving SMO,” March 3, Pg. 1)

If I were an aero-related tenant at the airport, I’d be looking into suing City Hall if this recommendation is acted on by City Council. I would think that adoption of the commission’s recommendations would constitute discrimination against aviation-related tenants and a threat to private business and livelihoods.

On Dec. 9, 2011, this newspaper editorialized after real-estate executive and Sunset Park resident David Goddard (now chairman) was appointed to the Airport Commission (“Airport Commission’s lack of diversity is troubling.”) and stated that he “had a strong anti-airport agenda.”

The Daily Press pointed out that Goddard was a member of the Friends of Sunset Park neighborhood group which had been “vigorously lobbying elected officials to shut SMO down or at least extremely curtail operations there” and noted that Goddard was encouraging residents to fill out a survey from the anti-SMO Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic (CASMAT).

The five person commission is rife with airport haters — four of whom live near SMO — who want to see the airport closed. They seem to only represent a select few anti-airport residents in West Los Angeles and Sunset Park instead of the community as a whole.

The editorial continued, “There was a time when the Airport Commission was comprised of representatives from the aviation community, merchants operating around the airport and residents in both Sunset Park and elsewhere. It was truly representative of the community. Right now the commission is not. It represents one view — those who feel SMO is a danger to the public because it lacks proper runway safety areas and contributes to air pollution.”

Suggesting shutting down businesses and terminating hundreds of airport-related jobs is despicable. Chairman Goddard, Vice Chair Peter Donald, Steven Mark, Suzanne Paulson and Lael Rubin were all appointed by the City Council. Nevertheless, council should condemn their repulsive recommendation on no uncertain terms.

The future for the airport will almost certainly include aviation uses. Therefore, decisions on its future must produce results that are best for all stakeholders including airport neighbors. Unfortunately, this bunch of political appointees has demonstrated they’re not up to the challenge.


Owen Roberts International Airport, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Drunken honeymooner causes emergency landing  

A Delta flight was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Grand Cayman Sunday night (9 March), after an argument involving a honeymooning couple turned rowdy.

In an email to Cayman 27 News, RCIPS Chief Inspector Raymond Christian confirmed “an intoxicated passenger aboard a Delta airlines flight bound to Costa Rica from Miami, Florida caused its captain to make an emergency landing at Owens Roberts International Airport tonight. The flight continued on to its destination following its delay. ”

He added the 33-year-old male from the United States was on honeymoon with his wife.

“He and his wife had an argument which turned rowdy. His wife continued on the flight. He was arrested for being drunk and disorderly, and he is in custody pending further inquires,” Chief Inspector Christian said.


Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport (KVVS), Connellsville, Dunbar Township, Pennsylvania

FAA pushes for upgrades to Fayette airport

The Fayette County Airport Authority is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to correct deficiencies that could jeopardize future federal funding for the Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport in Dunbar Township.

Solicitor Bill Martin and airport manager John “Bud” Neckerauer updated board members on Saturday on a recent telephone conference call with the FAA and PennDOT's Bureau of Aviation.

Martin and Neckerauer said they discussed five land-use inspection findings with FAA officials. Those findings were outlined in a July 26, 2013, letter the FAA sent to Neckerauer.

They include using some hangars for non-aeronautical purposes, storing non-aeronautical equipment and artificial turf in hangars, parking a trailer and mailbox into the taxiway that could pose a safety concern and risk, and failing to install a security gate to stop vehicles from entering Taxiway F and other parts of the airport.

In the letter, FAA officials said they had repeatedly advised the airport authority to take necessary corrective actions but have not received a timely, acceptable response.

During the conference call, Martin said, FAA officials indicated they want the authority to provide timelines to show that progress is being made to resolve the deficiencies.

Martin said authority members need to review the deficiencies point by point and take corrective actions.

“We can't just give the FAA lip service,” Martin said. “We need to give periodic updates to the FAA on a quarterly basis so they can see the progress that the authority has been making. The FAA wants to work with us, but we need to communicate with them on a regular basis.”

County Commissioner Al Ambrosini, who attended the special meeting, commended authority members for recent action they have taken to work with the FAA and to restore the airport's financial stability.

“I'm very pleased with the significant progress that the airport authority has made in less than a year,” Ambrosini said. “I think the airport has a very bright future.”

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