Friday, March 21, 2014

Tracy Municipal Airport (KTCY), California

Prices drop as city resumes airport fuel sales

They’re selling aviation fuel again at Tracy Municipal Airport, and it’s sure a lot cheaper than it used to be.

“They” in this case is the City of Tracy, which took over fuel-service operations Feb. 4 after terminating a multiyear contract with Steve Stuhmer’s Turlock Air Center.

It has taken a bit longer than expected to make the transition from Stuhmer to the city operation of the self-service fuel service — mostly because of credit card changes — but the self-service pump went back into service last week, reported Bruce Ludeman, the city’s airport coordinator.

“We are now beginning to sell aviation fuel, but it will take awhile to get the word out that we have competitive prices again,” he said. “There are several websites listing the prices of fuel, and we are in those already.”

While Stuhmer was selling fuel at the airport, before his contract was terminated for not complying with a number of contract provisions, the price hit $6.57 a gallon. Now it is down to $5.25 a gallon.

The higher price charged here reduced the amount of fuel pumped here, as many pilots went to other area airports to fill their tanks.

Ludeman said the city aims for a modest markup of 50 cents a gallon, and $5.25 is in the competitive range where most fuel at regional airports is priced.

Tuesday night, the City Council allocated $40,000 to purchase 8,300 gallons of aviation fuel to be sold at the airport.

Another cost in front of the city is a study outlining provisions to prevent spills from the airport’s aboveground fuel tanks and to respond to potential spills.

That study, required by the Federal Aviation Administration, was due to be completed two years ago. Doing so was one of the contract provisions that Stuhmer failed to perform.

“We expect to get moving on the study in the next several months,” Ludeman said.

The staff report accompanying the fuel-purchase item on the City Council’s Tuesday agenda indicated that a recommendation about long-term fuel operations at the city-owned airport would be made later.

One of the bids on a new contract could come from Richard Ortenheim, the president of SkyView Aviation, the airport’s major tenant. The major stumbling block, he said, was a $50,000 upfront annual fee the contract holder has in the past been required to come up with.

Regardless of who sells the fuel, Ortenheim feels the lower fuel price gives him more confidence that staying at the airport makes business sense.

He said he was applying for a Part 141 FAA license that would allow SkyView to start a full-scale flight-training school where students from the U.S. and other countries would stay on site for consecutive months while receiving full-time instruction.

“There’s a growing shortage of airline pilots, so prospects are good,” he said. “We could have 50 to 100 students here at one time for six to nine months at a time.”

At present, student pilots take lessons on weekends or when they have free time.


AirFest’s not yet here, but the planes sure are

To find the AirFest full agenda, visit

 TAMPA — The man they call Swagger climbs out of the 74-year-old former Navy training plane with a big smile. 

“It’s good to be mayor,” says Bob Buckhorn, moments after taking a flight across Tampa Bay in a SNJ single engine prop plane. The plane was part of the Geico Skytypers Airshow team, in town for the MacDill Air Force Base Presents Tampa Bay AirFest 2014.

A few minutes earlier, Buckhorn, wearing his aviator jump suit and a Airshow team green and blue helmet, was in the back seat of the plane as it flew in a tight formation, traveling about 130 mph about 1,000 feet above the water.

It was a far cry from the speeds and heights Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s wide receiver Vincent Jackson would later achieve as a passenger in one of the Air Force Thunderbirds’ F-16s.

But for Buckhorn, it was still a thrill.

“It doesn’t get any better than this,” says Buckhorn. “These were great pilots flying great aircraft. It was an amazing experience.”

Air Force Col. Scott DeThomas, the base commander, says he won’t be flying in any of the military or civilian aircraft coming to MacDill to perform in the AirFest, which runs Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s all work,” he says, laughing. “I’ll have my fun Sunday when it’s all over.”

A few hours after the SNJ’s landed, Herb Lewis, an 88-year-old WWII veteran now living in Madeira Beach, climbs aboard another old warbird, a B-25 Mitchell bomber named Panchito.

“I never flew in an Army Air Corps plane before,” says Lewis. “I always flew in Navy planes.”

Panchito, owned by Larry Kelley, has partnered with the Disabled American Veterans to raise awareness for the organization and its efforts on behalf of veterans.

“This plane is like the magnet that draws people, so we can let them know that there are veterans out there that need help,” says Kelley.

After a few practice landings, Lewis buckles into the “jump seat,” right behind where the pilot and co-pilot sit.

With puffs of smoke, the old plane’s twin radial engines kick into life and the plane rattles and shakes, rumbling down the Kissimmee runway until it is airborne.

During the AirFest, Panchito will do a re-enactment of the April 18, 1942, raid on Tokyo in which 16 Mitchells took off from the bucking deck of the aircraft carrier Hornet for a bombing run on the Japanese capital.

“That was pretty amazing,” Lewis says after the plane landed at MacDill.


More Information 

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa

Tickets: Free admission; $15 preferred seating at

Other info: Coolers, glass containers, pets, fireworks and large totebags are prohibited


8 a.m. — Gates Open

10:30 a.m. — Opening Ceremonies with USSOCOM Jump and National Anthem

10:55 a.m. — Rob Holland-Mike Goulian Dual Aerobatic Demo

11:10 a.m. — MacDill KC-135 Demo

11:15 a.m. — RV-8 Demo

11:25 a.m. — B-25

11:40 a.m. — JCSE Static Line Jump

11:55 a.m. — Scott Yoak P-51 Demo

12:10 p.m. — Melissa and Rex Pemberton (Edge 540 and Wingsuit demo)

12:25 p.m. — USSOCOM Jump — Aerial Formation

12:45 p.m. — P-51 / F-4U Heritage Flight

1 p.m. — T-28 Demo

1:15 p.m. — Randy Ball - Mig 17F

1:25 p.m. — GEICO Skytypers

1:45 p.m. — Michael Goulian

2 p.m. — L-39

2:15 p.m. — Matt Younkin (Extra 330SC)

2:30 p.m. — Rob Holland (MXS/RH)

2:45 p.m. — AeroShell Aerobatic Team

3 p.m. — U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds


Pennsylvania: House Committee eyes Piper J-3 Cub as official state aircraft

Myrtle Rose stands by her 1941 Piper J-3 Cub named "Winston" on her property. 

LOCK HAVEN - After several years of futile attempts to gain Pennsylvania General Assembly approval, a bill to designate the historic Piper J-3 Cub as the official state aircraft is again making its way through the state House.

This time, Mitzi Gallagher told the Clinton County commissioners on Thursday, the chances of final approval look good ... or at least better than they have in the past.

At the urging of local officials, state Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre counties, again submitted the bill for consideration and approval, according to Gallagher, who serves as Hanna's local legislative aide.

This time, Gallagher said the chances look better because the bill is up for consideration before the House Tourism Committee, instead of the House Transportation Committee, where several years ago, the chairman declined to allow the matter to move forward for a vote.

It's possible this bill could be voted out of committee on schedule on April 2, Gallagher said.

The concept of an official state aircraft - frequently recommended by local historians, fans of the aircraft, elected officials, legislators and others -has lagged in legislative limbo for close to four years due to inaction.

Rep. Hanna, continues to support legislation to designate a Piper-built plane as state aircraft - and yesterday, the commissioners, particularly Jeff Snyder, promised strong support for the bill, and action in the form of a telephone call campaign to each member of the House Tourism Committee.

With past attempts at passage, Commissioner Joel Long has noted there's really no competition for the Piper J-3 Cub when it comes to designating it the state's official plane.

The commissioners are hopeful that this year - and in time for Clinton County's 175th Anniversary celebration - the effort proves successful.

The Piper J-3 Cub was built in Lock Haven between 1937 and 1947 by Piper Aircraft Corp.

It became an industry standard for its safety, ease of operation and stability. A favorite of private fliers, it was also vital to the country's military preparedness and participation in World War II.

"Flying" magazine ( has called the Cub "Aviation's Holy Relic." Just about 20,000 J-3 Cubs were manufactured during a 10-year span that shadowed World War II.

Today, the Piper J-3 remains a popular aircraft for fliers and collectors with well-attended annual fly-ins in Lock Haven.

Snyder noted that, in the heyday of civilian aviation, Piper was the training ground for many pilots who went on to serve in the U.S. military, and was frequently the plane of choice for those who came back home after their service.

The Piper J-3 Cub is easily recognizable by its fuselage's famous standard yellow paint, which has come to be known as "Lock Haven Yellow."



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

Fayette County Airport Authority: Corrections made since audit include checks and balances, signed leases

 Fayette County Airport Authority on Wednesday night approved the 2011-12 audit report, which included several findings that ranged from the lack of tenant leases at Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport to inadequate financial checks and balances.

The Uniontown accounting firm McClure & Wolfe conducted the audit, which examined the airport's financial records from two or three years ago, when the Dunbar Township facility was facing financial problems.

“I think it's very important to note that this audit dates back several years ago before the new airport manager and new board members were involved at the airport,” said Bill Gerke, newly appointed board president. “I want to make it clear that the current board members had nothing to do with these findings. It was the previous administration.”

Board member Sam Cortis, who was the airport manager many years ago, said the audit cited the authority for not having signed leases with airport tenants.

“We do have signed leases with our tenants right now, and that's no longer an issue,” Cortis said. “That has been resolved.”

Cortis said auditors also cited the authority for not having adequate financial “checks and balances” in place.

During the time period covered by the audit, the authority employed an airport manager but no other employees who had access to financial records, Cortis said.

Since then, Cortis said, the authority hired an administrative assistant to work directly with the airport manager.

“We now have two employees who handle the finances, and we have checks and balances in place now,” Cortis said. “The newly appointed authority members have been working hard to turn the airport around and to eliminate the financial problems that the airport faced in the past.”

For the past few months, authority solicitor Bill Martin and airport Manager John “Bud” Neckeraurer have been working directly with officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's Bureau of Aviation to correct recent land-use deficiencies.

“We are communicating with them and providing them with a timeline of when we plan to have the deficiencies corrected,” Martin said. “The FAA is willing to work with us, but they want specific details of how long it will take for the airport to be in compliance with land-use deficiencies.”

In other business, the authority accepted the low bid of $119,844 from Ramp Construction Co. Inc. for a roof-replacement project at the former fixed-based operations building — the airport's largest hangar — pending the solicitor's review.

Other bids received for the project included $127,200 from G&W Roofing and Construction Inc.; $186,000 from Donald M. Miller Inc.; and $218,900 from Kalkreuth Roofing and Sheet Metal Inc.

Neckeraurer said the solicitor will review the lowest bid to determine the cost of masonry and brick work included in the bid price.

“We want to make sure that the airport has enough money in a state grant to cover the project,” he said.

The authority also voted to update and modernize its bylaws, a long-awaited move that had been tabled since 2012.


Fundraiser slated for family of plane crash victim: Ryan Underhill left behind wife, children

Ryan Chester Underhill

 OKEECHOBEE, Fla. —The family of a man who died in an ultralight plane crash will remember him this weekend.

Ryan Underhill, 36, died at a hospital after the crash on the family's farm in Martin County.

Underhill's family said he lived not for work, but for his loved ones. They said people looked up to him and counted on him.

"If I could walk in my son's footsteps and stand in his shade, I would be, really, a man," his father, Edward Underhill, said.

Edward Underhill learned at his son's funeral that he wasn't alone in his feelings; many people turned out to pay their respects and express their sorrow to Ryan Underhill's wife and their children.

"He never met anyone that he didn't have time to stop and help," Edward Underhill said. "No matter what it was, he would help."

Ryan Underhill helped a lot of people with his knowledge of mechanical and electrical engineering. They were the same skills he used to get the plane up and running.

Victoria Trzeszkowski heard the engines cut out Feb. 23 with the plane just 100 feet overhead. She rushed out to see what happened.

"I was looking, saying, 'He's out there. He's checking to see what damage he did,' and as I got closer, I could see there was more than just a seat there, and I was just panicked," Trzeszkowski said.

But Ryan Underhill reassured her and even told her how to get him out of the wreckage. He would only say that it hurt, and she said she was sure they would see each other again.

"I ran back there to get him out from under the plane. He was conscious the whole time," Trzeszkowski said. "They rolled him out of here. I just believed he would be OK."

Ryan Underhill died at an Orlando hospital.

The family will hold a fundraiser in Okeechobee beginning Friday. For more details, call 561-358-2852 or 863-634-1084.


Ryan Chester Underhill 
(December 13, 1978 - February 23, 2014)

Ryan Chester Underhill of Okeechobee died February 23, 2014. He was born December 13, 1978 in Stuart, Florida to Charles Edward and Cynthia Underhill. A lifetime resident of Okeechobee, he was a cable installer and enjoyed RC hobbies and flying. He was a member of Christ Fellowship. He had the gift to build, fix and take care of many things including the land, dairy, anything mechanical and electronics. He was a devoted, father and son.

Mr. Underhill was preceded in death by his grandparents, Chester Underhill, Inez Underhill, Dorthe Chilcutt and Booth Chilcutt.

He is survived by his wife of 14 years, Carla Underhill; son, Chester Underhill; daughter, Haylie Underhill; father, Edward Underhill; mother, Cindy Underhill all of Okeechobee; and brother, Aaron Underhill (Jessica) of Palm Beach Gardens.

Visitation will be 2 p.m. until services at 3:30 p.m. Friday, February 28, 2014 at Buxton & Bass Okeechobee Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to his children’s trust fund at Bank of America.

Those wishing to leave a message of condolence may sign the register book at,

All arrangements are entrusted to the direction and care of the Buxton, Bass and Conway families of the Buxton & Bass Okeechobee Funeral Home, 400 North Parrott Avenue, Okeechobee, Florida, 34972.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Human remains found in trash bag near DeLand Municipal Airport (KDED), Florida

DELAND --  The Volusia County Sheriff's Office said it is investigating skeletal human remains found by a passer-by just east of the DeLand Municipal Airport.

Deputies said a man walking along Oak Street, near International Speedway Boulevard, made the discovery Thursday.

The remains have already begun decomposing and may have been there for some time, deputies said.

According a Gregg Mapp, who lives on Oak Street, one of his friends was cleaning up the area, taking trash bags and throwing them into a trash can, when he came upon some bags with something suspicious inside.

"He saw bones protruding out the back," said Mapp. "He immediately recognized it was bones, and he called the police."

Deputies could not immediately determine the age or gender of the remains. The medical examiner in Volusia County has picked up the remains to conduct an autopsy.


Relatives can start claiming compensation although MH370 still missing - lawyers

KUALA LUMPUR -Twelve days without sign of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is raising the possibility the plane with 239 on board may never be found.

But lawyers said the families of those on Beijing-bound flight MH370 can already start claiming for compensation despite the absence of the plane and its passengers.

At a minimum, an international aviation treaty allows the next-of-kin of the plane’s 227 passengers to seek up to US$175,000 (RM573,475) without proving any fault with MAS.

Beyond that amount, lawyers said they must furnish proof of negligence.

According to Floyd Wisner, a US aviation lawyer, airlines need not wait any period before issuing payments, as long as families can show the company was negligent.

"The airline and its insurers may choose to pay compensation to the victims' families before the wreckage or bodies are found and even if the wreckage or bodies are never found," Wisner, whose firm acted for families of the 2009 Air France Flight 447 crash in the Atlantic Ocean, told The Malay Mail Online in an email interview.

Most of the wreckage and bodies in the Air France flight were not recovered until nearly two years after the crash.

Wisner also cited the Adam Air Flight 574 crash in January 2007, where his firm reached an agreement with the airline’s insurers to compensate families within four weeks of the plane’s loss, also before the wreckage or bodies were found.

Shailender Bhar, a lawyer at a Malaysian law firm specializing in insurance claims, similarly said all that was required for compensation to be paid out by an airline’s insurer is a “presumption that the aircraft cannot be found” and that all passengers are presumed dead.

"Hence, even with the lack of evidence, airlines can pay out compensation based on their coverage policies. Compensation can be paid out immediately," the Brijnandan Singh Bhar & Co senior associate told The Malay Mail Online in a recent email interview when commenting on a scenario where no dead bodies and plane wreckage is found.

Compensation even if terrorist act

While investigators probing the disappearance of MH370 do not believe that terrorist organizations were involved, the lawyers said this would not prevent the airline’s insurer from paying out even if it later turns out to be the case.

Shailender said the airline would still pay compensation to the passengers' families "even where an aircraft is crashed due to terrorist act" as the passengers are "not at fault", citing the Pan American Flight 103 crash in Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.

Wisner said the policy limits of MAS's insurers could be US$1 billion (RM3.28 billion), citing his previous experience when saying that international airlines operating large passenger jets such as the Boeing 777 have liability insurance up to that amount and also carry terrorism insurance.

"I expect the claims of the passengers of Malaysia Airlines 370 could total $500 million to $750 million," he said. This would amount to between RM1.64 billion and RM2.46 billion under current exchange rates.

German group Allianz confirmed last Monday that it is the lead insurer for the missing Boeing 777-200 ER plane used in the MH370 flight, but did not disclose its exposure or reveal other insurers.

Compensation capped unless crash is airline's fault

But even without the airline’s insurers paying out additional claims to the families of passengers, the lawyers noted that MAS is already bound by an international convention to pay claims up to an estimated figure of between US$175,000 to US$178,500.

David Fiol, another US lawyer, said Malaysia has adopted the Montreal Convention which regulates claims for wrongful death against airlines, with MAS having to pay a strict liability up to proven damages of about US$175,000 (RM 573,475) for each passenger.

"For damages above that amount, if proven by the family, the airline is liable unless it proves the accident was not the result of its own fault," Fiol — who was involved in lawsuits over the Lockerbie plane crash and other plane crashes —told The Malay Mail Online in a recent email interview.

Shailender explained that under the convention, MAS cannot contest claims up to 100,000 Special Drawing Rights (SDR) and should offer payments within six months of the plane’s scheduled date of arrival.

He added that Article 16 of MAS’ own terms and conditions of carriage with passengers said the airline would only start limiting its liability for deaths once the claim exceeds 113,100 SDR.

The current exchange rate against the Malaysian ringgit under the International Monetary Fund is set at 5.095.

When is payment due?

Airlines are bound by the Montreal Convention to offer compensation within six months from the date of a flight’s schedule arrival, Shailender said, but conceded there is no penalty if the airline fails to or chooses not to do so.

In such cases, what is left for families who still want to claim compensation is to go to court within two years, with the same time limit set under both the Montreal Convention and MAS’s own terms and conditions, he said.

Wisner explained that airlines are not bound to pay compensation unless the courts find that their negligence caused a plane crash, stressing that it was a matter of the airline’s liability rather than the date of declaration of a plane crash.

“There is no time period by which an airline must pay compensation other than the date a court orders it to make payment. A declaration or finding that the plane is missing or has crashed does not trigger the date for the airline to pay compensation,” he said.

Wisner said there was no law on how long a search can go on, but noted that a “continued search or any failure to declare the plane as having crashed” would not stop families from exercising their right to “immediately seek compensation” from MAS.

Wisner also explained that while claims against the airline and its insurer was possible even without the plane, families could face problems pursuing compensation elsewhere.

He said that the "absence of dead bodies may present administrative difficulties for the families in presenting wills or making claims for life insurance benefits", saying that this will be determined by the law of the country which the victim was living in or the terms of life insurance contracts.

What about the crew members?

For the 10 cabin crew and two pilots of MH370, their families' ability to claim would be tied to employment laws and their contracts with MAS, Wisner and Shailender said.

Claims under the Montreal Convention and to MAS's insurers would likely not apply to the crew members' families.

"The claims of the crew members against Malaysia Airlines are different as they will be governed by workers’ compensation laws," said Wisner.

“It will be necessary to see their employment contracts to see the terms stated there. Nonetheless, it will be safe to presume that they will be covered by some form of insurance by their employers,” Shailender said.

The MH370 Beijing-bound flight — which set out from Kuala Lumpur on March 8 with 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board — has been missing for over 12 days, with the number of countries searching for it swelling to 26. 

Story and comments/reaction:

World Jet: Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport’s biggest fixed-base operator faces foreclosure

World Jet, the biggest fixed-based operator at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, has been hit with a foreclosure lawsuit.

This comes after a November raid by the Drug Enforcement Agency, the FBI and Homeland Security on World Jet investigating alleged drug shipments to South America. The company denied the allegations.

Branch Banking & Trust Co. filed a federal foreclosure lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida on March 14 against World Jet and guarantors Reginald Don Whittington Jr. and Sheri Whittington. It concerns a mortgage originated in 2003 by BankAtlantic, which was acquired by BB&T in 2012. That deal was supposed to exclude BankAtlantic’s problem loans but the World Jet loan apparently was performing at the time of the sale.

According to the complaint, World Jet owes $7.16 million in principal and $106,610 in interest. BB&T signed a forbearance agreement in September 2013 with World Jet that allowed it to hold off on payments until February 2014, but it failed to make payments at that time. The complaint also says World Jet has been delinquent on its lease payments to the City of Fort Lauderdale since September and provides letters from the city to the tenant as evidence.

Whittington, a former racecar driver, couldn’t be reached for comment.


Jamestown Regional Airport (KJMS) Rejects All Bids For Hangar Project

JAMESTOWN, N.D. ( – The Jamestown Regional Airport Authority has rejected all the bids that they’ve received for the 8 T-Hangar bay project.

According to Steve Aldinger, the intrepid engineer for the project, bids ranged from $989,000 to $1.3 million, much more than the original engineering estimate of $870,000. So, the board plans to rebid the project after specific design changes are made to reduce the estimated cost.

According to Aldinger, the plan is to remove the fire suppression from the hangar. They will also design the hangars with the possibility of having either hydraulic doors or bi-fold doors. The original design incorporated the hydraulic doors, but having the options of the bi-fold doors may lower the costs.


Montesano, Washington: Storage unit thieves make off with $250K in aircraft equipment - Anyone with information should contact the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office

Thieves made off with around $250,000 in aviation materials after a break-in at a Montesano storage business Saturday. The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office believes the thefts may be related to break-ins at a storage business just outside Aberdeen a day earlier.

Henry Thomas said he got a call Saturday morning that his storage unit had been broken into. Inside, he said, were materials for helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, as well as parts for jet turbines and various exotic metals and tools used for their repair. Some of the parts date back to World War II.

“Whoever did this was extremely organized and had heavy lifting trucks,” Thomas said.

The manager of Glenn Road Mini Storage noticed Saturday five storage units had a different type of lock than the business uses. Only two of the units were rented, the locks cut off in order to gain entry.

Chief Criminal Deputy Steve Shumate said the thief or thieves likely added new locks in order to hide the crime.

When Thomas arrived, he said he found about two-thirds of his storage unit cleaned out, including the aircraft parts and and “incredible fishing tackle that was still new in the box from 1912.”

On seeing the unit, Thomas was so distraught he wasn’t initially able to talk with the responding deputy about what was missing, Shumate said. He was later able to provide a list of the items and is working with his insurance company.

Thomas is a retired U.S. Coast Guard aviator and U.S. Air Force navigator.

Shumate said at least three units at Hilltop Storage outside Aberdeen were also broken into March 14. A washer and dryer set and various tools are among the stolen items listed so far. Victims have been working with the Sheriff’s Office to catalogue what was taken.

“This all appears to be during business hours, during the day,” Shumate said. “Our subjects are showing up, probably acting as if they are clients or tenants, and when people aren’t looking, cutting the locks and taking items of value.”

Anyone with information should contact the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office at 360-249-3711, or the Grays Harbor Dispatch Center at 360-533-8765 if after hours.


OPINION: Emptying skies

Airport boardings are dropping as Great Lakes continues to cut flights

Western Nebraska Regional Airport Manager Darwin Skelton had bad news for board members this week. Boardings at the airport have fallen by more than half as Great Lakes Airlines struggles to maintain a schedule.

The airport boarded 734 travelers in January and February, but last year it boarded 796 in January alone. In February the airport saw 38 flights, compared with 32 in January. Normally it averages at least 100 per month.

The airline recently ended service to McCook and booming Williston, N.D., among other airports. In press reports, the airline blames a “severe industry-wide pilot shortage” on a federal requirement that pilots at small airlines must have 1,500 hours of experience, instead of the previous 500 hours.

But other reports over the past few months suggest another problem: Small airlines simply don’t pay enough.

Major airlines pay significantly higher salaries than regional carriers and frequently hire pilots away from regionals. Qualified pilots are available, but they’re not willing to work for low entry-level wages, the federal Government Accountability Office said in a report. Eleven out of 12 regional airlines failed to meet their hiring targets for entry-level pilots last year, the report said. However, no major airlines were experiencing problems finding pilots.

GAO found that the size of the pilot pool has remained steady since 2000. There are currently 66,000 pilots working for U.S. airlines, but there are 109,465 active pilots with a first-class medical certificate who are licensed to fly airline passengers. Pilots leaving the military only have to have 750 hours of relevant experience, while other pilots can obtain restricted licenses with 1,000 hours if they are university trained.

Education and flight training from a four-year aviation degree program can cost well in excess of $100,000, the report said. Pilot schools that GAO interviewed reported fewer students entering their programs resulting from concerns over the high costs of education and low entry-level pay at regional airlines.

The experience requirement has been in place for almost a year. Regional airlines, which account for about half of all domestic airline flights, told GAO it has forced them to limit. But the average starting salary at regional airlines for first officers, also called co-pilots, is $22,400 a year, according to the Air Line Pilots Association. The association told the Associated Press that Great Lakes pays newly hired first officers $16,500 a year.

Overall, average professional pilot salaries fell 9.5 percent from 2000 to 2012, while the number of pilots employed went up 12 percent, GAO said. Both trends are inconsistent with a shortage. And the unemployment rate for professional pilots is only 2.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the cost of an airline ticket rose for the fourth straight year. The average domestic round-trip ticket, including tax, reached $363.42 last year, up more than $7 from the prior year, according to an Associated Press analysis of travel data collected on millions of flights throughout the country. The 2 percent increase outpaced inflation, which stood at 1.5 percent. Airfares have risen nearly 12 percent since their low in the depths of the recession in 2009. At the same time, airlines have eliminated unprofitable routes, packed more passengers into planes and merged with one another, providing travelers with fewer options.

So blaming the government for the problem leaves out a lot of the story. The federal Essential Air Service program offers generous subsidies for regional airlines to serve remote communities, where the choice for travelers is to risk cancellations or schedule changes by the airlines or drive for hours to reach an airline hub.

Airport officials here are looking at other options for local service but don’t have many immediate options. If Great Lakes was to end service here, Skelton said, it could be months before another carrier takes over.

That’s not good news for western Nebraska. Without air service, a city that’s more than 40 miles from the nearest Interstate and hours from the Denver Airport will seem very isolated to anyone looking to take a job or start a business here.


High Court judge's ruling is legal victory for air accident victim's family: de Havilland DH.82A Tiger Moth, G-AOIL

Orlando Rogers  

The Newton Abbot family of a former Royal Marine captain who was killed when he was a passenger in a aircraft are hailing a victory in the latest round of legal proceedings at the High Court to seek compensation for his death.

Orlando Rogers, who was a passenger in a vintage Tiger Moth bi-plane, was killed when the plane crashed on May 15, 2011.

Scott Hoyle, the pilot, was seriously injured but survived.

The mother and sister of Orlando, Julia and Jade Rogers, are bringing a claim on behalf of his estate and dependents, against Mr Hoyle (and his aviation insurers at Lloyds of London), claiming damages for his death which they attribute to Mr Hoyle's alleged negligence.

In the latest hearing, an appeal judge has agreed with an earlier decision that what they believe is a key piece of evidence is admissible in the case.

James Healy-Pratt and Sarah Stewart, of the aviation team at Stewarts Law LLP, represent the Rogers family.

Mr Healy-Pratt, said: "This decision is a real victory for the Rogers family, and the memory of their son Orlando.

"It will have wider benefit to all families who lose loved ones, and those who survive with injuries, in other aviation accident cases and whom wish to improve air safety following tragic aviation accidents."

The family believe the report from the Air Accident Investigation Branch is vital to their claim that Mr Hoyle was undertaking a spin he was not trained to manoeuvre.

Mr Hoyle denies he is to blame.

The AAIB investigated the accident and on June 14, 2012, published openly its official accident report.

Information in that report included that the aircraft 'was seen by observers on the ground to pull up into a loop and during the manoeuvre it entered a spin from which it did not recover. The manoeuvre started at 1,500ft agl (above ground level) and there was insufficient height for the pilot to recover from the subsequent spin'.

The Rogers family have claimed in High Court proceedings that they wish to rely on the AAIB official accident report as evidence.

The Lloyds of London aviation insurers (QBE and others) defending Mr Hoyle disagreed with this, and fought the Rogers family to have the AAIB official published accident report excluded from evidence.

In 2013, the family won in a High Court hearing that the published accident report was admissible.

The Lloyds of London aviation insurers then appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal.

At that stage, the Department of Transport and the airline trade body, the International Airline Transport Association, also joined in asking the Court of Appeal to find against the Rogers family and to exclude the report.

However, the Rogers family won the appeal, and succeeded in getting the Court of Appeal to confirm their earlier victory in the High Court.

In hearing the decision, the family said, "We are very pleased that the Court of Appeal has seen how helpful the work of the AAIB can be to assist with the facts of an air disaster.

"We are also comforted by the fact that this will assist not only our own case but also future victims of air crashes.

"Our aviation lawyers, Stewarts Law, will now be able to continue with our civil claim as we seek justice for the loss of Orlando in such tragic circumstances."

Story and photo:

de Havilland DH.82A Tiger Moth,  G-AOIL


The pilot and a passenger were on a local pleasure flight. The aircraft was seen by observers on the ground to pull up into a loop and during the manoeuvre it entered a spin from which it did not recover. The pilot was not formally trained in aerobatics and had limited experience of spin recovery. The manoeuvre started at 1,500 feet agl and there was insufficient height for the pilot to recover from the subsequent spin. The passenger was seriously injured and died later the same day in hospital. The pilot, who was also seriously injured, survived.

Air Accidents Investigation Branch:

Civil Aviation Authority - Registration History:

SoaringNV: Discover new perspective by soaring above Sierra

It’s the transition that makes the difference.

One moment, your glider is being pulled aloft from Minden-Tahoe Airport, the sound of the tow plane’s engines traveling back and mixing with the slight rumble from the small amount of turbulence.

Then the glider’s pilot detaches the tow rope. You’re soaring above the world as the air rushes past the craft’s canopy, with only a little bumping from interacting layers of the clear air you sail through, and the Douglas County landscape flowing away to the surrounding mountains.

Throughout the year, many people experience this introduction to the wonders of gliding, thanks to SoaringNV, a glider tour and training firm that operates out of the general-aviation facility about 45 minutes south of Reno.

“You know how sometimes in the winter you wake up and it’s a crisp day? That’s actually very cold, dense air that makes for a very smooth ride,” said Laurie Harden, SoaringNV’s owner (though her business card identifies her simply as “Glider Girl”).

Depending on the weather, folks can have an airborne adventure Thursday through Monday thanks to the airport’s position on the east side of the Sierra Nevada, which gives it a year-round gliding climate.

There is another company that offers glider rides — Soar Truckee, which operates out of Truckee-Tahoe Airport east of Truckee — whose season is May through September.

Starting April 1, SoaringNV will expand operations to seven days a week.

“Somebody who’s really feeling timid about unpowered flight can do a short ride, where you can only see the airport and go in a little circuit around the airport with wings level,” Harden said. “That’s one end of the spectrum.”

That end of the spectrum is the Taste of the Sky, with a trip up to 2,000 feet and a slow glide down in about 15 minutes for one or two people, depending on weight.

“The other end of the spectrum would be to go fly inverted,” Harden said. “And then there’s everything in between.”

Inverted flight is included in the Tahoe Wild Ride, which takes one passenger on a roughly 30-minute acrobatic odyssey.

In between are the Big Sky, soaring 3,000 feet above the Carson Valley, and the Tahoe Sky Ride, during which passengers can see Lake Tahoe from a mile above the earth and even take control of the glider.

The longer the ride, the wider the experience of how sailplanes work, including their ability to catch thermals, rising columns of warm air that act as atmospheric elevators and increase the time the glider stays in the air.

This up-close and personal view of the upper world — most rides place the passenger in the front seat of a two-person glider — is not a cheap thrill, starting at $99 for a single-person Taste of the Sky and topping out at $309 for a two-passenger Tahoe Sky Ride.

But the adventure is worth the price.

“They (customers) tell us it is just an unbelievable experience to see Lake Tahoe silently from a glider,” Harden said. “These include people who live on top of Kingsbury Grade, so they’ve seen the lake from the road and from the water, but somehow, floating over it in a glider makes all the difference for them.”

For more information, visit the SoaringNV website at or call 775-782-9595.

Story and photos:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mokulele Will Honor Its Flights Bought On Go!

Mokulele Airlines is honoring its flights that were purchased on Go!, the interisland carrier that yesterday announced it was shutting down on April 1.

Mokulele also said today in a press release that passengers who purchased Go! flights on Mokulele’s website for travel to Kaua‘i and Hilo should contact Mokulele for refunds, the release said.

Mokulele Airlines has had a code share agreement with go! since November 2011 when TransPac Aviation purchased the turbo prop division from Arizona-based Mesa Air Group, which operated Go!.

“There is still some misconception on the relationships with Go! and Mokulele,” said Dave Berry, executive vice-president COO of Mokulele, in an email to

“Mokulele Airlines is not part of Go! and has not been since November 2011,” Berry said

“We had a code share agreement where by they could sell tickets on their site for travel on us and we could sell tickets on our site for traveling on Go!,” he said. “That agreement is over and we have both ceased to sell each other tickets.

“We are honoring each other’s ticket purchases through April 1st,” Berry said, adding that for travel after April 1 each passenger is being contacted for rescheduling on another airline or given a refund.

Mokulele has differentiated itself from go! over the past two years by creating a new brand image that includes a new logo and color scheme, and by establishing its own counters at the airports it serves, the press release said.

Mokulele now offers more than 115 flights a day connecting O‘ahu, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Maui and the Big Island on its fleet of nine-passenger, turbine-powered Cessna Grand Caravans, and has added nine new Cessna Grand Caravans to its fleet in the last 12 months due to increasing demand for low-cost, interisland travel, the release said.

Mokulele Airlines has operated in Hawai‘i since 1994.

For reservations and information, visit, or call 866-260-7070. 


Batesville breaks ground for new airport hangars

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - Batesville business is booming.

The city broke ground Wednesday for six new airport hangars to keep up with the growing demand.

"Our airport is very crucial," Mayor Rick Elumbaugh said. "We have a 6,000-foot runway here for economic development in our community. We have a lot of corporate jets that fly in daily. Our poultry industry utilizes it, Bad Boys, Mr. Mark Martin with his automobile dealership here. He flies in often."

Local business hope the hangars will also bring more business to the city.

"Pilots are always coming in and out of here," Josie's Restaurant employee Samantha Conley said. "It should bring us a lot more business."

Josie's has been a Batesville staple for nearly ten years. During that time, the staff has served their fair share of pilots. Whether they are flying in and out for business or making a pitstop to fill up their gas tank, they usually need to fill their stomachs, too.

"Everybody knows Josie's on the River," Conley said. "We get a lot of them out here. We're close to it [Batesville Regional Airport], we do sell alcohol here and our food is really good here."

Pilots are such a large part of Josie's regular clientele that employees cater specifically to them.

"We have to go up there [Batesville Regional Airport] quite a bit of times to pick them up and bring them down here so they can eat," Conley said. "Then we bring them back."

Another Batesville resident hopes the new hangars will have the same effect on his company.

"Every time we build hangars, we fill them up," Batesville Regional Airport Commissioner Kirk Warden said. "We manufacture precision optics so having an aircraft allows us to go and visit customers out of state, within a thousand-mile radius."

Warden said airport access makes business more efficient.

"Being in rural Arkansas, it's either an hour and a half down to Little Rock or we can fly directly out of here, which is really nice," Warden said. "It allows you to get from one side of the state to another in a couple hours."

The airport also makes business more personal.

"There's nothing that replaces having a face-to-face meeting with your customers so that's one great thing about this airport," Warden said.

The six new hangars will cost nearly $500,000. Two grants from the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics will cover most of that.

The hangars should be fully functioning by the beginning of August.

Story and photos:

Inquest jury told pilot killed in crash was unlicensed: Pegasus XL-R, G-MVKM, Stourton, Stourbridge - UK

A man who was killed when his microlight aircraft hit power lines in Stourton was unlicensed to fly, an inquest heard.

Andy Tollerton was told he had not completed the training course to be qualified and no record could be found of him holding a pilot’s license, Staffordshire's coroner heard.

Mr Tollerton, aged 52, died when his Pegasus twin seat aircraft plunged to earth after hitting high voltage wires at 5.53pm on October 6 2013, as he attempted to land in a field off Bridgnorth Road.

The father-of-two suffered fatal head and chest injuries when the single-engine craft hit the ground however a post mortem found no burns consistent with electrocution.

A specialist from the Air Accident Investigation Branch told the inquest, held at Staffordshire County Council chambers, that the aircraft was mechanically sound and well maintained but did not have a certificate of air worthiness.

The reason for the collision is unclear, despite being unlicensed Mr Tollerton, an HGV driver from Gerald Road, Wollaston, had records showing more than 90 hours flying experience and had flown from the field, at Barrett’s Coppice Farm, on a number of occasions. The weather was also good at the time of the crash.

Investigator Robert Vickery told the jury after he examined of aerial photos of the scene, taken by an unmanned police aircraft, it was possible Mr Tollerton may not have been aware of the hazard.

Mr Vickery said: “I believe the cables, posts and the angle of the sun conspired to hide themselves causing Mr Tollerton not to see them until it was too late.”

The hearing was also told no alcohol or drugs were found in the dead pilot’s body.

The court heard evidence Mr Tollerton normally flew for around 40 minutes at a time but had cut the doomed flight short and was landing after around 15 minutes in the air.

He suffered with kidney stones and the hearing was told if they had moved it could create extreme discomfort however there was no evidence to suggest this had taken place and he seemed in good health prior to take off.

Mr Tollerton used contact lenses but none were found during post mortem examination or at the scene, but Mr Vickery told the jury they may have come out during the accident.

The jury concluded there was no obvious reason for Mr Tollerton to have flown into the power lines and his death was the result of an accident.

What's up with the mysterious plane circling Sacramento?


SACRAMENTO - A light plane that has been flying regular patterns day and night for weeks over parts of Sacramento has led to reactions on the ground ranging from curiosity to annoyance.

"It'll just make a continuous pattern over and over," said Larry Bishop, who lives in the Arden Manor neighborhood. "I'll go to bed 11 o'clock at night and it's still circling the house in the same pattern."

The flights appear to be centered over an area roughly bounded by Fair Oaks Boulevard on the south, Howe Avenue to the west, Watt Avenue to the east and Cottage Way to the north.

Arden Park resident Richard King captured a flight sequence from the website FlightRadar24 on the evening of March 8 showing an almost perfect circle.

King said he's relatively sure he was able to see the plane's registration through binoculars. If he's correct, the plane is a 1966 Cessna registered to a 73-year-old man in Illinois who did not immediately return a phone call.

Update March 19, 2014: The tail number provided by King actually belongs to a 1966 Cessna 150 that is currently parked in a hangar at Morris Municipal Airport in Morris, Ill., according to airport staff.

News10 observed several passes Tuesday at noon, all of them counter-clockwise, which residents said is the standard direction.

"It just goes in left-hand circles," Arden Park resident Pat Lof said. "I find it annoying and I'm very curious about what's going on."

Dozens of people have weighed in on Facebook and on the neighborhood website Some suggested the plane was hired by the Drug Enforcement Administration to search for heat signatures that might reveal an indoor marijuana-growing operation.

"It's not ours," DEA spokeswoman Casey Rettig said.

The Federal Aviation Administration could offer no explanation either.

"The aircraft was flying in uncontrolled airspace and was not in communication with air traffic controllers. We do not know the purpose of the flight(s)," FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.

Story, photo gallery and video:

Mid-air Holi lands SpiceJet pilots in trouble: Directorate General of Civil Aviation

Mid-air Holi celebrations aboard eight flights have cost no-frill carrier SpiceJet heavily, with the DGCA issuing show cause notice to the airline and suspending two of its pilots. 

Sources said that on Monday, the cabin crew of SpiceJet performed a small dance sequence on a song as part of Holi celebrations, with some passengers also joining in.   The videos of these events were taken and uploaded on video-sharing website YouTube and other social media.

In one video, a pilot is seen coming out of the cockpit and taking photographs of the celebrations at the front of the aisle.  Official sources said the act constituted violation of all safety norms and two pilots were suspended.

SpiceJet on March 17 ran eight special flights with extra cabin crew on board to do a 2.5-minute jig on the occasion of Holi.

The airline said it was looking into the issue in cooperation with the DGCA.  It defended itself saying that the cockpit was manned all the time.

"The cockpit was manned at all time as per DGCA regulations that govern the situation when one pilot is outside for example to use the lavatory," an airline spokesperson told PTI.

"The dance was professionally choreographed and was Holi delight for passengers much like it is done by several airlines around the world to celebrate a special occasion. The entire dance sequence lasted 2.5 minutes," the spokesperson said.

Story and comments/reaction:


SpiceJet faces DGCA show-cause notice over dance on Holi flights: Eight special Holi flights had a dance in the aisle of the plane, harming passenger safety, says DGCA official 

New Delhi: SpiceJet Ltd was on Wednesday issued a notice by the aviation regulator asking why its licence should not be suspended for violating safety rules during special Holi flights.

Mint first reported on Wednesday that Prabhat Kumar, the director general of civil aviation, had summoned SpiceJet officials to explain why the airline had allowed cabin crew onboard its flights to perform a dance routine as a part of its Holi celebrations.

“We have issued a show-cause notice to them (SpiceJet) today asking why their licence should not be suspended,” a senior official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said, declining to be named.

“They conducted eight flights on which there was dance in the aisle area harming passenger safety. The flights were reduced to a mockery, the centre of gravity of the aircraft could have been impacted,” the official said. “Mobiles were used to capture the show in violation of our rules. The dance could have provoked passengers into unruly behaviour. The captain came out and was dancing outside the cockpit.”

SpiceJet, India’s second largest low-fare airline, has to reply to the notice within a fortnight, after which a decision will be taken on the airline’s licence, the official said.

SpiceJet said it had not received the notice but that it was “looking into the matter”.

The airline ran the special flights on 17 March and videos of the dances have gone viral on social media.

DGCA has suspended two SpiceJet pilots, including a captain, pending investigation.

SpiceJet has 57 planes and runs 350 daily flights.

Mohan Ranganathan, a Chennai-based safety expert and a member of the government-appointed Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council, said the only error was that the pilot should have remained inside the cockpit. He did not agree with DGCA’s other charges.

“The only error was that the pilot came out into the cabin area, which goes against the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) security manual recommendations, but DGCA has not implemented it in its CAR (civil aviation requirements) and hence the pilot and the airline cannot be held accountable,” Ranganathan said.

The regulator seems “to be gunning for SpiceJet for a violation that really does not infringe on safety,” he said. “If they are talking of centre of gravity, someone seems to be giving DG (Directorate General) wrong advice because people keep moving around in the cabin on all flights.”

A DGCA circular on manning a plane’s cockpit says that “in case one of the crew members has to leave the cockpit during the non-critical phases of flight, the cabin crew is required to be inside the cockpit and occupy the observer seat. In no case the cabin crew will occupy the seats meant for cockpit crew...(but will remain vigilant) in case of subtle incapacitation of the flight deck crew.”

Airlines such as Finnair and AirAsia have conducted dance and birthday celebrations onboard their flights. Air Sahara and Damania Airways in the 1990s also used to hold shows onboard.

“I think if it was brief and light-hearted. It is difficult to say its violation of safety,” said G.R. Gopinath, a low-fare aviation pioneer. “If you look at Virgin Blue flights, they do a lot of fun things and even Southwest Airlines, mother of all LCCs (low-cost carriers), does lots of these things to break monotony. If it’s done in limits it is not a problem at all, as long as safety is not endangered.”

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Silver Springs Airport (KSPZ) developer Bennett dies: Wife plans to continue his vision and dream for the airport; no changes expected

Hale Bennett

Just eight days before his 94th birthday, which fell on St. Patrick’s Day, Hale Bennett of Silver Springs and lease holder for the Silver Springs Regional Airport, died March 9 at his home adjacent to the airport surrounded by family. 

The public is invited to a memorial gathering to honor Bennett on April 26. The gathering will feature full military honors for Bennett, a World War II pilot who served in the Army Air Corps and who landed at the then-Lahontan Air Strip in 1945.

Despite the loss of her 26-year partner, Kay Bennett, who co-managed the airport with Hale, said she plans to continue with operation of the airport. The Bennetts and other partners lease the airport through an agreement between Lyon County and their Silver Springs Airport LLC.

Kay said that in the past year or so, as Hale battled multiple myeloma, which he’s had since 2005, she has taken over more duties and thus his death shouldn’t affect the airport operations.

“I’ll continue as the owner and CEO,” she said.

The Bennetts have leased the airport from Lyon County since an agreement approved in 1996, after leasing the air strip from the BLM for several years before that.

Lyon County manager Jeff Page said he doesn’t see Bennett’s death affecting their agreement and operations of the airport in any way. He said he doesn’t foresee any changes.

He said the Bennetts have done a fine job of taking the weed-infested landing strip and developing a “functional general aviation airport” with the aid of FAA grant funding.

“I’m saddened by his death,” Page said.

Hale first saw the airport when he landed a B-29 Super Fortress there in 1945, Kay said, as part of a training trip, and didn’t forget it. Then, in 1989, a year or two after the two married, Hale drove Kay by the airport on their way to Fallon, and she saw so many possibilities and potential with the airport site.

At that time, a group of local residents who’d formed the nonprofit Lahontan Airport Development Association operated the unpaved landing strip in a lease from the BLM. Kay said they didn’t have the experience with aviation Hale did and were willing to sell the lease and assets to the Bennetts in 1989.

The landing strip went to Lyon County after the war but had fallen into disarray. So, by the 1970s, Kay said, Lyon County felt it was a liability and asked the BLM to take over the property, with the BLM requesting the paved runway be torn out. It was eventually paved again in 2001 thanks to one of several FAA grants.

Flying was a big part of their life as Kay said Hale took her flying on their second date over Lake Tahoe and she fell in love with flying, later obtaining her pilot’s license.

“The two of us, we had the same long-term vision (for the airport),” she said. “We saw the great potential, great strategic location. We both had a love and passion for flying.”

In order to obtain FAA capital improvement funding, the airport needed to be owned by a governmental agency, so they approached Lyon County about acquiring the land from the BLM. The Bennetts then leased the airport property from the county in a 50-year lease that has been amended several times.

The Bennetts also were involved with the Silver Springs General Improvement District. Hale was on the sewer system exploratory committee before the GID was formed and later they entered into an agreement with the GID to take the treated effluent from the sewer treatment plant.

Kay Bennett said Hale enjoyed farming and the effluent was used to irrigate wheat and alfalfa they grew on their property near the airport.

“He was certainly my rock to stand on,” she said, adding it was his guidance, perseverance and support that led to where the airport stands today. “He was fully engaged and knowledgeable of what was going on” at the airport until the past few months, she said of his continued involvement. “He leaves a marvelous legacy.”


A public memorial for Hale Bennett is at 10 a.m. April 26 at the Silver Springs Airport. The gathering will feature full military honors for Bennett, a World War II pilot who served in the Army Air Corps.

In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to go to the Youth Eagles Chapter 1073 (donations can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank).


Princeton Airport (39N) New Jersey: FAA Medical Doctor – Medical Examination - Saturday, March 22nd

FAA Medical Doctor

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014
8:00 am – noon Walk-ins until 11:30 am.

For appointments – call 609-921-3100

FAA Medical Doctor Michael Nosko

Read more here:

The Vineyards site plan changes course: Bay Bridge Airport (W29), Stevensville, Maryland

CENTREVILLE— After receiving major site plan approval from the Queen Anne’s County Planning Commission for The Vineyards of Queen Anne’s at the Dec. 12 meeting, the commission approved an amended major site plan on Thursday, March 13, that will reverse the orientation of the project, get rid of vineyard orchards and change the site’s name to The Gardens of Queen Anne’s.

The site is a 15.86-acre parcel of county-owned property that is located at Pier One Road in Stevensville, just south of U.S. Route 50/301, west of State Route 8 and adjacent to the Bay Bridge Airport. The property is leased by developer Coastal South, John Wilson, principal and co-owner of the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club. It resides in the Airport Protection and Kent Island Gateway zoning district.

Significant revisions have been made to the original site plan due to financial and airport issues, said Holly Tompkins, senior planner. The plan involves a mixed use development of 67,129 square feet consisting of a 54-room hotel with a 20-room future expansion, a banquet facility barn, restaurant, bar tool shed and a market with an accompanying service hall.

“They are moving the location of the restaurant and bar facilities, which is why they are coming to the commission,” said Steve Cohoon, director of planning.

The project is to occur in two phases, and the overall scope of the first phase will be reduced by about 13,145 square feet. The 20-room hotel addition will move to the south side of the property; the restaurant and kitchen will move to the north side; a market will be added, while the tool shed bar addition will be delayed; the covered porch will be reduced with a larger garden patio; a small banquet facility will be created on the north side and the main banquet facility barn will move to the south side. The main hotel will remain in the same position.

The Federal Aviation Administration has oversight of the property, and, according to its regulations, vineyard orchards are not permitted within 5,000 feet of the airport because they will attracts birds. In place of the December site plan’s landscape proposal, the property will have hops for beer and lavender instead of vineyard orchards, Wilson said. The name of the site has changed to The Gardens of Queen Anne’s.

There will also be a 20-foot landscape buffer along Route 50/301 and a 15-foot buffer along Pier One Road to block noise from the airport and traffic, he said. The minimum required landscape area is 20 percent or 1.42 acres. The site will provide 53 percent.

“Because of (FAA) regulations you may see changes in phase two,” Cohoon said. “That would be a future approval. We can expect there to be adjustments as phase two comes along.”

These changes are inherently cosmetic and although a large amount of moving around and tweaking has occurred, there are no zoning issues and the parking no longer needs a reduction as the December plan had proposed, Tompkins said.

The parking required for phase one is 182 spaces, including the future additions. A total of 192 parking spaces will be provided.

No member of the public commented on the major site plan amendment, and the planning commission unanimously voted to approve phase one of The Gardens site plan.

The project is expected to begin this May, and The Gardens should open in spring 2015, Cohoon said.


Plane accident victim remembered as 'gentleman' with 'aviation bug

An earlier version of the story incorrectly reported that Cindy Huntsman's father flew with John F. Cox in North Platte.

  • By SCOTT KOPERSKI -  Beatrice Daily Sun 

For as long as his son can remember, John F. Cox was addicted to flying.

Aviation piqued Cox’s interest as a teenager growing up in Sutherland, and years later he taught his son, John C. Cox, about airplanes.

Around eight years ago, after his wife died, John F. Cox started building his own plane.

His son laughed as he told the story of how the elder Cox built the 30-foot wing of his Titan Tornado SS in his living room before the project outgrew the house, was removed and attached to the plane.

That plane never left the ground.

John F. Cox was killed Tuesday when he started the plane at the Beatrice Municipal Airport. The 86-year-old, who was working on his plane alone, started it, not realizing it was at full throttle.

The plane launched out of the hangar, across the airport and into another hangar that was nearby, dragging Cox along the way.

“He was getting close to test-flying it this summer for the first time," his son said. "He used to like to go out and start it up and drive it around on the airport ramp to check the engine over and see how the controls are working.

“He really enjoyed it.”

Maintenance workers nearby heard the crash and called 911 moments later.

The rescue crew took Cox to Beatrice Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead less than two hours later.

Airport manager Diana Smith said Cox's death is the first fatality in her 42 years working at the airport.

She'll remember Cox as an involved man who volunteered his time to give free airplane rides to young people during the annual Homestead Days Young Eagle rides event.

John C. Cox said his dad also had a larger, four-seat airplane kept in Lincoln. They would regularly fly to York, just for a meal.

“Once a month, we would always fly over to an airport in York and go get breakfast,” he said. "It was just a way to keep active and up in the air. I always flew with him.”

Cindy Huntsman worked as a cashier for Cox when he headed the North Platte Municipal Light and Water Department in the late 1970s.

She said she remembered Cox as not only a fair, customer-oriented boss, but also as a gentleman who would always open and close the door for others, Huntsman said.

As John C. Cox copes with the loss of his father, his love of flight lives on.

The DeWitt resident is a flight instructor in Beatrice, Lincoln, Seward and Crete, in addition to teaching physics Lincoln Pius X.

He plans to keep working with planes, and said he can take solace in the fact that his dad died doing what he loved.

“To me, that is a much better way to end your life than wasting away in a nursing home,” he said. “Flying is in a world of its own. Once you get the aviation bug, you just have it your whole life.”

Riley Johnson of the Lincoln Journal Star contributed to this report.
Story and comments/reaction:


Piper PA-28-181, N83180:

Emergency crews responded to a man trapped between a hangar and an airplane Tuesday shortly after 3 p.m. at Beatrice Municipal Airport. The man died of injuries sustained in the incident.  

For as long as his son can remember, John F. Cox was addicted to flying.  
His interest in aviation began as a teenager growing up in Sutherland, Neb., and continued through the years as he taught his son, John C. Cox, about airplanes.

When his wife passed away, John F. Cox started a new hobby, building his own plane.

His son laughed as he told the story of how John F. Cox built the 30-foot-wing of his Titan Tornado SS in his living room before the project outgrew the house, was removed and attached to the plane. That plane never left the ground.

“He started building this airplane as a hobby after my mom died probably 8-10 years ago,” John C. Cox recalled. “He was getting close to test flying it this summer for the first time. He used to like to go out and start it up and drive it around on the airport ramp to check the engine over and see how the controls are working. He really enjoyed it.”

John F. Cox was killed Tuesday when he started the plane at the Beatrice Municipal Airport.

The 86-year-old, who was working on his plane alone, started it, not realizing it was at full throttle.

The plane launched out of the hangar, across the airport and into another hangar that was nearby, dragging John F. Cox along the way.

The collision was heard by maintenance workers who were nearby and called 911 a short time later.

StarCare air support was initially dispatched to the airport to transport the man to Bryan Health East in Lincoln, but Fire and Rescue Chief Brian Daake said the air ambulance was later called off because the man was in need of CPR and the procedure cannot be done in the helicopter.

The rescue crew took the man to Beatrice Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead less than two hours later.

John C. Cox said his dad also had a larger, four-seat airplane kept in Lincoln. They would regularly fly to York, just for a meal.

“Once a month, we would always fly over to an airport in York and go get breakfast,” he said. "It was just a way to keep active and up in the air. I always flew with him.”

Airport manager Diana Smith recalled John F. Cox as being an involved man who volunteered his time to give free airplane rides to youth during the annual Homestead Days Young Eagle rides event.

“He was an EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) member and involved in the Young Eagle’s rides,” she said.

Smith added the death is the first fatality in her 42 years working at the airport.

As John C. Cox copes with the loss of his father, his love of flight lives on. The DeWitt resident is a flight instructor in Beatrice, Lincoln, Seward and Crete, in addition to teaching physics Lincoln Pius X. He plans to keep working with planes, and can take solace in the fact that his dad died doing what he loved.

“To me, that is a much better way to end your life than wasting away in a nursing home,” he said. “Flying is in a world of its own. Once you get the aviation bug, you just have it your whole life.”

A man who was struck by a small plane at the Beatrice Municipal Airport Tuesday afternoon died due to injuries from the incident.

Emergency crews arrived to the scene of a man who was hit by a plane that then collided with a nearby hangar shortly after 3 p.m.

Beatrice Police Investigator Erin Byrne said it appeared the man was working on the plane at the time of the incident.

“Based on witness statements, we believe that there was an elderly gentleman working on a plane he himself built,” Byrne said. “He was trying to get it started, did manage to get it started and it sounds like the plane was in full throttle and it appears the plane struck the elderly gentleman with enough force to push into hangar nearby, causing some body trauma.”

The plane, which had an “experimental” decal across one of the windows, crashed into a nearby hangar.

Byrne did not believe the man was an airport employee.

He said the man’s family had been notified of the incident Tuesday afternoon, but he declined to release a name due to a potential Federal Aviation Administration investigation.

According to the FAA registry, the plane’s N-Number belongs to a Titan Tornado SS manufactured and owned by John F. Cox, of Lincoln.

Beatrice Fire and Rescue Chief Brian Daake said when his units arrived at the scene the man was unresponsive and had “significant trauma,” and the injuries to the man's torso were "absolutely life threatening.”

StarCare air support was initially dispatched to the airport to transport the man to Bryan Health East in Lincoln, but was later called off.

Daake said StarCare was canceled because the man was in need of CPR and the procedure cannot be done in the helicopter.

Rescue workers took the man to Beatrice Community Hospital and Health Center, where he was pronounced dead fewer than two hours later.

Officials with the Beatrice Municipal Airport declined to comment on the incident.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Airplane pilots hit by ‘nearly blinding’ glare from massive California solar facility

Airplane pilots cruising over southern California have been complaining about a “nearly blinding” glare emanating from a massive government-funded solar thermal facility.

The Ivanpah solar energy plant in San Bernardino County is the world’s largest solar thermal plant and has 173,500 large mirrors that reflect sunlight onto boilers in three 459-foot towers. A feat of modern engineering — to green energy advocates, but a flying hazard to pilots.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) got two anonymous complaints in August that mentioned a “blinding glare” coming from the Ivanpah solar facility. One complaint came from a Los Angeles air traffic controller and the other from a small transport plane pilot that took off from an airport in Boulder City, Nevada.

“The FAA is aware of potential glare from solar plants and is exploring how to best alert pilots to the issue,” an FAA spokesman told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Dozens of flights per day fly over or near the Ivanpah solar facility on routes between the Las Vegas area and Southern California. On its initial climb leaving Boulder City airport, the pilot of the small transport plane “experienced a very bright, intense light from three solar complexes which interfered with their ability to scan for traffic,” according to the ASRS filing.

“[T]he Co-pilot and I were distracted and momentarily blinded by the sun reflecting off of mirrors at the solar power plant facility located near the CA-NV border near the town of Primm,” the pilot wrote to ASRS. “This solar power plant which I believe is still under construction consists of three massive circular arrays of thousands of mirrors oriented inward toward a central tower.”

“From the pilot’s seat of my aircraft the brightness was like looking into the sun and it filled about 1/3 of the co-pilots front windshield,” the pilot added. “In my opinion the reflection from these mirrors was a hazard to flight because for a brief time I could not scan the sky in that direction to look for other aircraft.”

“Daily, during the late morning and early afternoon hours we get complaints from pilots of aircraft flying from the northeast to the southwest about the brightness of this solar farm,” wrote the Los Angeles air traffic controller in August.

“On this particular morning, an air carrier complained about the brightness and reiterated that it was ‘nearly blinding,’” the controller continued. “I have no idea what can be done about this situation, but being a passenger on an aircraft that flew through this airspace and saw it for myself, I would say that something needs to be done. It is extremely bright and distracting.”

In August, the Ivanpah solar facility was still being built. During the time of the complaints, the facility’s developer BrightSource Energy “was testing and calibrating the mirror assemblies, called heliostats, but it is unknown if that had anything to do with the reflection,” reports the Press-Enterprise. The Ivanpah facility was brought online last December.

Ivanpah’s co-owner and operator, NRG Energy, was notified of the “blinding” complaints this week and said it would respond within 10 days. The FAA received the complaints last November and the Clark County Department of Aviation was notified of them at the end of January.

BrightSource’s environmental impact study for Ivanpah included mitigation measures for glare issues related to the site’s reflective mirrors. The aviation community actually raised such worries during the environmental review process.

Ivanpah’s environmental impact study found that the solar thermal plant could cause temporary blindness to pilots flying within 3,300 feet of the heliostats, which compromises safety. BrightSource had to develop a heliosat position plan to mitigate the potential harm from Ivanpah’s glare.

“At the right angle, you will get the intensity, which is similar to looking at a car headlight at night. If you were to look away you’d still have that shape in your vision,” Chad Davies, president of Riverside Air Service, told the Press-Enterprise.

“If you see a reflection, you turn your head, you don’t look at it,” said Phil Shallenberger, who regularly flies over the project to refuel his plane. “It’s not going to stay there long. When you move, it goes away.”

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