Saturday, April 12, 2014

Strong winds ground the Thunderbirds at Davis-Monthan air show

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Strong winds whipping through Tucson today grounded the Air Force Thunderbirds at the Davis-Monthan air show Saturday.

Tens of thousands waited anxiously in anticipation of the headline show but the show could not go on for safety reasons.

At the base, pilots and the maintenance teams were all set to go and take off down the runway, but winds were blowing more than 25 knotts.

The Thunderbirds said that's the absolute maximum they can fly in because the planes travel as close as 18 inches from each other.

The grounded planes left a lot of fans disappointed.

"A lot of waiting and not seeing them," Jaromir Kubias said. "I feel that they could at least show us something: Make a few booms; blow our eardrums."

"We certainly want nothing better than to perform but when you're looking at those windsocks and they're standing straight out at high winds, we'd rather make sure the crowd has a safe and enjoyable day without any mishaps," said Thunderbirds Major Darrick Lee.

"If it's not the best conditions -- that's ok -- we'll come back again tomorrow!" Michelle Doyle said.

The Air Force is hopeful the winds will not be as strong Sunday so they can still put on a show for Tucson at 2 p.m.


Story and video:   http://www.jrn.com

Wings Over Houston Airshow accepting scholarship applications

The Commemorative Air Force Wings Over Houston Airshow is accepting scholarship applications for its 2014-2015 scholarship program. The organization will award up to five scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 each to selected college students. 

The scholarships, which are intended to assist and reward students who have demonstrated academic potential, leadership and extracurricular involvement, are available for students pursuing degrees associated with a career in aviation, aeronautics or aerospace. The selection will be made by the Wings Over Houston Scholarship Committee in July 2014 with winners being notified by the end of August 2014.

“With our scholarship program, we try to encourage youth to pursue careers that will impact the field of aerospace and aviation for years to come,” said Steve Sehnert, Wings Over Houston Airshow Scholarship Committee Chairman. “Wings Over Houston Airshow is proud to support aviation education throughout the Greater Houston area.”

The scholarships are available to students from the Greater Houston area currently enrolled at an accredited college or university and have completed two academic years of full-time college work or 50 semester hours of credit. Graduate students are also eligible. Applicants must have a minimum college grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours each semester during the year of the awarded scholarship. As Wings Over Houston supports local communities, applicants must have legal residence in Harris County or one of the contiguous surrounding counties including Galveston, Brazoria, Fort Bend, Waller, Montgomery, Liberty and Chambers. The residency requirement is waived for members of the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets. All applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States.

In addition to the completed application, applicants must submit a written essay describing his or her career objectives as well as three letters of recommendation. Financial need of the applicants will be considered by the selection committee.

Applications must be postmarked or submitted online no later than July 1, 2014. For more information or to download the Wings Over Houston Airshow scholarship application, visit http://wingsoverhouston.com/index.php/info/scholarship.

About Wings Over Houston

 
Wings Over Houston is a non-profit 501(c)(3) community event produced by a volunteer effort of the Gulf Coast Wing and Houston wing, Tora! Tora! Tora! of the Commemorative Air Force, with support from the Lone Star Flight Museum in Galveston. The annual event is dedicated to showcasing vintage military aircraft, along with the thrills of modern aviation. One of the top air shows in the United States in its category, the Wings Over Houston Airshow attracts more than 80,000 visitors from across the Houston area as well as from around the globe. The 2014 Airshow benefits the Wings Over Houston Airshow Scholarship Program, TSU Aviation Career Academy, Exchange Club of Sugar Land, and the Commemorative Air Force aircraft restoration and flying historical programs, in addition to numerous other nonprofit organizations.


Source:   http://www.yourhoustonnews.com

Quickie Q200, Tools & Toys Inc., N479E: Incident occurred 12, 2014 at Trenton Mercer Airport (KTTN), Trenton, New Jersey

AIRCRAFT ON LANDING WENT OFF THE RUNWAY INTO THE GRASS, TRENTON, NJ 

http://www.asias.faa.gov

http://registry.faa.govN479E



EWING — The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an incident in which a fixed-wing, single-engine aircraft veered off the runway after landing at Trenton-Mercer Airport last night, an official said.

An 1995 Quickie Q200 amateur-built aircraft veered off Runway 24 and into the grass at 6:25 p.m., FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.

Only the pilot was on board and no injuries were reported. The aircraft was being towed off the grass.

The aircraft is registered to Tools & Toys Inc. of Lewes, Del., according to FAA records.

Story, photo and comments/reaction:  http://www.nj.com



A fixed wing, single-engine aircraft veered off the runway after landing at Trenton-Mercer Airport April 12, 2014.

Redlands City Council to consider fee waiver for Airfest

REDLANDS >> Despite the banners displayed across Cajon Street promoting the 2014 Airfest, a decision of go or no-go still needs to be made by the City Council.

On Tuesday, the council will consider applications from the event’s organizers, Hangar 24 Charities, to waive $70,666.80 in fees and to sell alcohol at the city-owned Redlands Municipal Airport.

The Airport Advisory Board on April 2 voted to recommend the approval of the fee waiver and the permit to sell alcohol at the Hangar 24 Airfest & 6th Anniversary Celebration on May 16 and 17.

Hangar 24 Charities expects a crowd of 25,000 people and to raise $525,000 from the event, according to a city staff report.

The fees the council will consider waiving include the costs to the city to provide police and fire personnel, street sweeping, parking lot preparation, barricade rental and a show mobile rental deposit, according to the staff report.

Several meetings were held with the event organizers and the Airport Advisory Board, which were attended by tenants and business owners at the airport.

Several voiced concerns about the potential impact the show could have on them.

Last year’s show was hosted by Hangar 24, a brewery that operates at the airport, to raise money for its charity that aims to protect agriculture in the area.


Source:  http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com

Opinion: About that missing plane ... Give it a rest!

By Leonard Pitts Jr.

Dear CNN:

Enough, already.

Please, for the love of Cronkite: Give us a break from the missing plane. Yes, we all wonder what happened to it. Yes, our hearts go out to the families seeking resolution. But really, CNN . . . enough. Put your hands up and step away from the story.

I’m in the doctor’s office the other day, right? I’m waiting for my missus and the TV is on and I’m half watching, half reading and you’re covering the plane. And time passes. And you’re covering the plane. And commercials intervene and you come back and you’re covering the plane. And my wife comes out and it’s time to go and it’s been a solid hour and you’re still covering the plane. Nothing but the plane.

I’m on your website maybe six times a day, CNN, grazing for news. Have you had another lead story in the last month? Has nothing else of importance happened to any of 7.1 billion people on this planet?

I look at you and I want to start screaming like Tattoo on Fantasy Island : “ De plane! De plane! De plane!”

And CNN, is it really true your “coverage” includes asking whether aliens abducted Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? Or whether it was swallowed by the Bermuda Triangle? Did you actually wonder aloud if it had flown into a black hole?

Sigh.

You know what, CNN? I don’t even watch cable news anymore. Haven’t for years. Not interested in imbibing MSNBC’s perennially aggrieved liberalism nor Fox’s angry-all-the-time conservatism. Not interested in watching you play with your holograms, either

But there are days when you’ve got no choice. There’s been a school shooting, a terrorist attack, a national election. On those days, CNN, I always turn to you on the theory — or maybe just the faint hope — that there still flickers within you some faint, vestigial notion of what news is — some last bit of fealty to the ideal of getting the facts and telling the story, giving people information they need to understand their world and make decisions about their lives.

Yes, you’re right. That’s so 1978 of me.

Look, CNN, I know that before this happened your numbers were in the tank and you were down to your last dozen viewers or so. I’m not without sympathy. Still, there’s something sadly . . . whorish in the way you chase the ratings bump this story has given you. One struggles to imagine the aforementioned Cronkite, much less the sainted Edward R. Murrow — peace be upon him — selling their newsmen’s souls so nakedly just so their network might charge a little more for toilet paper commercials.

But then, Ed and Uncle Walter have left the building, haven’t they? And yes, maybe they had the luxury of regarding the news as a public service, a sacred trust, consonant with Thomas Jefferson’s belief that an informed electorate was vital to a self-governing nation. But you have no such luxury. What you have is a 24/7 news cycle and the need to fill it — if not with news, then speculation, if not speculation, then controversy, if not controversy then opinion, if not opinion, then froth.

Fine. But this is not a trend without impact, CNN. We are becoming a stupider people. You see it in test scores, but you see it more viscerally in the way some of us equate higher volume with sounder logic, wear party as identity, refuse new information that challenges old beliefs, act as if everything must entertain us. Even the news.

It seems like somebody ought to take a stand against that. Just saying.

Granted, the missing jetliner is not an unimportant story. But neither is it a story deserving of the kind of round-the-clock-man-on-the-moon-war-is-over-presidential-assassination coverage you have given it.

CNN, that jet isn’t the only thing lost. Have you seen your credibility lately?

Source:   http://www.miamiherald.com

Unregistered unknown ultralight crashed under unknown circumstances, the 1 person on board was fatally injured: Lebanon, Wilson County, Tennessee

UNREGISTERED UNKNOWN ULTRALIGHT CRASHED UNDER UNKNOWN CIRCUMSTANCES, THE 1 PERSON ON BOARD WAS FATALLY INJURED, NEAR LEBANON, TN 



Wilson County, TN--An Ultralight  crashed in southwest Wilson county around 11 A.M today.

 Wilson County Sheriff Office responded and found one person dead. 

The victim's name is David "Bucky" Carter. 

Will Clegg, 10-years-old, and his friend, Ethan were playing outside their homes on Edwards Road near Salem Drive, when they saw Carter in the ultralight. 

Clegg says, "Sounded just regular, like flying around and all we just heard was 'kaboom'... really loud." 

The boys say they ran to the flight vehicle to see if they could help in any way.

Clegg explained, "We went over there and and checked and he wasn't moving so we checked his pulse and he didn't move." 

Despite their efforts, the pilot and owner of the ultralight passed away.

Sheriff Robert Bryan says the victim of the crash is 61-year-old David S. Carter, who took off from Lawicki Field nearby. 

Sheriff Robert Bryan said," The information that we are getting is that he is an experienced pilot of this type of ultralight and flies a lot for several years

You never know what could've happened while he was up in the air." 

Carter served as the secretary of the Middle Tennessee Ultralight Group, according to their website. 

Family and friends called Carter, "Bucky." Friend, Anyta McDonald described Carter as a, "Very smart guy, very funny guy. Very friendly, very personable." Fox 17 employee, Anyta McDonald met Carter 20 years ago when they both worked at Opryland, doing audio visual work. She says Carter loved to fly, and she is shocked. What saddens McDonald and many other friends is... Anyta McDonald said, "My heart goes out to his new family. I never got to tell Bucky congratulations, because he just got married, he's got a new bride and a family and my heart breaks for them." Bucky Carter married his wife just a couple of months ago, according to friends. 

The crash is under investigation. Federal Aviation Administration has been notified of the accident, and also responded to the scene. The FAA says that because ultralight vehicles are not categorized as an aircraft, the investigation will remain under the sheriff's office.























An unidentified pilot was killed Saturday morning when his Ultralight aircraft crashed in a field off Edward Drive near the Norene community in Wilson County.

Sheriff Robert Bryan said a call came into dispatch at about 10:45 a.m. concerning the crash near Salem Drive in southwest Wilson County. Emergency officials arrived to find the pilot dead at the scene.

Bryan said Federal Aviation Administration officials were assisting sheriff’s investigators in determining what caused the crash.

“The plane apparently had some type of problem, but we don’t know what that was yet,” Bryan said. “We will determine if there was any type of medical condition that could have happened while he was in the air. It doesn’t appear there was any type of mechanical issue with the plane.”

Bryan said he expected to release the pilot’s identity later Saturday or Sunday morning once all family members were notified. He said the pilot was well known in the community and owned the aircraft he kept at a nearby airstrip.

After interviewing several witnesses, Bryan described the pilot as experienced.

“The information we are getting is that he was an experienced pilot with these type of Ultralight aircraft,” Bryan said. “He’d been flying for several years.”

Ethan Brown, 7 and a second grader at Watertown Elementary School, said he heard the plane go down while he and neighbor Will Clegg, 10, were playing in Brown’s backyard next to the field where the aircraft crashed.

“We were playing when we heard the plane go down,” Brown said.

Ethan’s father, Luke Brown, said Ultralight aircraft are a common sight around their home.

“You can see them flying all the time around here, but they hardly ever fly when it’s windy,” Luke Brown said. “It’s pretty neat.”

Luke Brown said the airstrip is called Lawicki Field, and is home to a chapter of the Middle Tennessee Ultralight Group, according to the group’s website.

Thomas Woodard, who lives nearby on Simmons Bluff, said the group is often seen flying.

“They are usually, during the summer, out here about every weekend,” Woodard said. “I know there are about four or five planes out here. They fly over here all the time during the summer.”


http://www.lebanondemocrat.com

Wilson County authorities are wrapping up their initial investigation into a fatal ultralight aircraft crash south of Lebanon on Saturday morning. 
 
One person was killed after the single-person aircraft crashed on Edwards Road around 10:45 a.m., said Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan.

Responders found the pilot dead at the scene. No one else was on the plane when it crashed, Bryan said.

Federal Aviation Administration officials were sent to the crash and confirmed it was an ultralight plane.

Local authorities will investigate the cause of the crash because the FAA does consider them to be aircraft, said spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen. Ultralight flyers do not have to be licensed pilots or register with the FAA.

A preliminary investigation by Wilson County officials did not indicate an obvious cause of the crash, Bryan said.

The identity of the pilot has not yet been released. The victim’s body will be sent to Nashville for an autopsy.


Source:  http://www.tennessean.com


LEBANON, Tenn. – One person has been killed after an ultralight aircraft crashed in Wilson County.

The incident happened Saturday morning in a field near 425 Edwards Road in Lebanon. There is a privately owned air strip not far from the crash site.

Officials said one person was killed in the crash. The victim's name has not yet been released.

Several law enforcement and emergency medical crews responded to the scene.

Seven-year-old Ethan Brown and his friend, 10-year-old Will Clegg, were playing in a nearby field when the plane crashed.

Brown said he heard the plane's engine cut out shortly before impact.

"We heard the plane crash and we ran over there," Brown said. "We ran like as fast as we could."

Clegg said he tried to help the pilot who was underneath the plane.

"We just saw somebody laying there not moving and I checked his pulse and he didn't move," he said. "I wanted to save the guy's life but he didn't have a chance to save."

Kathleen Bergen with the Federal Aviation Administration said investigators were working to confirm the size and type of the aircraft. She said the FAA does not investigate ultralight crashes because they are not officially classified as aircraft.

If the aircraft s determined to be a light sport, the FAA would continue investigating.

30-Day TFR: Mysterious Flight Restrictions - Federal Aviation Administration Designates Bundy Ranch a No-Fly Zone


Disclose.tv - ALERT! Get BLM wounded AWAY from Bundy Ranch -- FAA total lock down


By Kit Daniels
Global Research
April 12, 2014 


Yesterday afternoon the Federal Aviation Administration designated the airspace above Bundy Ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada a “no-fly zone” with altitude restrictions that effectively ban news helicopters.

The temporary flight restrictions,” revealed by a contributor to the Free Republic, bans all air traffic under an altitude of 3,000 feet in the vicinity of the ranch except for aircraft operating under the direction of the Bureau of Land Management.

The restrictions in full:

FDC 4/1687 ZLA NV..AIRSPACE MESQUITE, NV..TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS WITHIN AREA DEFINED AS 3NM RADIUS OF 364624N/1141113W (MMM71 RADIAL AT 4.3NM) SFC-3000FT AGL LAW ENFORCEMENT INVESTIGATION. PURSUANT TO 14 CFR SECTION 91.137(A)(1) TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS ARE IN EFFECT. ONLY RELIEF AIRCRAFT OPERATIONS UNDER DIRECTION OF BLM ARE AUTHORIZED IN THE AIRSPACE. BLM TELEPHONE 702-335-3191 IS IN CHARGE OF ON SCENE EMERGENCY RESPONSE ACTIVITY. LOS ANGELES /ZLA/ ARTCC TELEPHONE 661-265-8205 IS THE FAA COORDINATION FACILITY. 1404112140-1405111434

A map of the no-fly zone is available here.

Undoubtedly these flight restrictions are in response to the intense media presence now surrounding Bundy Ranch.

“Keeps the media choppers away so the BLM can do what it wants,” a contributor named SkyDancer pointed out on the Free Republic.

It’s quite obvious that this is the case considering that news helicopters routinely fly at an altitude under 3,000 feet in order to capture the best footage.
 
Recently, cowboys who are supportive of Cliven Bundy have been successful at rounding up Bundy’s cattle before the BLM could impound them, so it certainly appears that the agency is using the flight restrictions as a cover to target these cowboys without any fear of potential brutality being leaked to the media.

BLM agents have already assaulted several protestors, including a pregnant woman and a cancer victim, which was fortunately caught on tape.

The feds are attempting to regain control of the narrative surrounding the standoff, especially since it is now known that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is behind the land grab for the future development of solar farms with Chinese energy companies.

It is also concerning that by interpreting the no-fly zone to the letter, the BLM could even delay medical helicopters from flying into the area to evacuate individuals who are severely injured.

Although air ambulances are typically exempt from temporary flight restrictions, pilots are still supposed to gain clearance before taking off, which in the past has kept medical pilots grounded until permission was granted.

This scenario is especially frightening considering Clark Co. Commissioner Tom Collins’ recent statement that those traveling to Bunkerville to support Bundy in his standoff against the feds better have funeral plans.”

Source:   http://www.globalresearch.ca/mysterious-flightr-restrictions-faa-designates-bundy-ranch-a-no-fly-zone/5377605

Avid Mark V: Stillmeadow Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio



A single-engine plane closed the 17th hole at the Stillmeadow Country Club on Saturday afternoon after it made a crash landing and came to rest on the green. 

"It was one of the strangest sights I have ever seen," said Mark Denton, who was golfing on the course at the time of the emergency landing. "I am just happy to see the pilot and the passenger standing on the green."

The pilot and passenger are husband and wife. Both declined to comment. Neither was harmed. The country club is south of Batavia.

Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. Nelson Holden said the pilot told him that "he just followed his training and did what he needed to do. He told me he wasn't shaken up at all."

Nelson said the plane took off from the Clermont County Airport at 10:45 a.m. and experienced engine failure 10 to 15 minutes after take off. The pilot then spotted the 17th hole.

"He came over the tip of the trees at the end of the fairway and started on down the fairway," Nelson said.

"It then came to a coast onto the green."

Nelson said the engine shut off and the pilot couldn't get it to re-start. He said the what caused the engine failure is still being investigated.

Deaton said he was on the third hole when he learned the No. 17 hole was closed.

"We said, 'We hope somebody didn't do a yard job on the fairway,' and (the pro) said, 'No, a little worse than that: There is an airplane on the green,'" Deaton said. "Thank God no one is hurt in this."

There wasn't a golfer on the 17th hole when the plane made its unscheduled landing.

David Acree, whose backyard faces the 17th green, was in his home reading and didn't hear it.

"My neighbor to the left of me said his boy was out playing, went in for a drink of water and came back out and there was the plane," Acree said. "It happened very, very quickly."



Story, video and photo gallery:  http://www.cincinnati.com

Grand Junction Regional Airport (KGJT), Colorado: “Security Fence”

Photo credit: Anonymous,
Photo taken on  Monday,  April 7, 2014
The Grand Junction Regional Airport’s multi-million dollar, electrified, super-secure, biometric-access-only “Security Fence” crumples to its end in the desert north of the airport. The fence surrounds the airport on three sides, with the remaining side fenced with a decrepit three-strand barbed-wire fence. The “security fence” was originally billed as a “wildlife fence,” but wildlife coming down from the Bookcliffs (seen in the distance) just stroll around it. 

Letter: Cut Blue Angels From Show

Published: Friday, April 11, 2014 at 12:25 a.m.


I live in South Lakeland, near Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. The Sun 'n Fun event is always something we put up with. It creates traffic issues and, above all, noise.

Living near an airport is just part of the deal when you purchase a home. There will be noise and congestion, and you accept it or don't live there.

The absence of the Blue Angels last year was not a bad thing for us, and we enjoyed the small experimental planes, the ultralights and antique military craft.

The return of the Blue Angels put things back to unbearable once again. They are not only extremely loud, but fly extremely low over a very heavily populated area.

God forbid there were to be an accident with these superfast jet aircraft flying only inches apart. An entire section of Lakeland could be wiped out.

I feel they should not be included in the event for safety and noise issues. If these planes are to continue their shows, then do it elsewhere.

I am not alone in this opinion. My neighbors have the same concerns.

There are plenty of other aircraft at the show to pull a crowd.

As usual, it's all about money in the end.

The Blue Angels boost attendance, but does the extra revenue help Lakeland's economy? I doubt it.

JIM PHILLIPS

Lakeland


Article and comments/reaction:    http://www.theledger.com

With 5 open National Transportation Safety Board investigations, Ravn Alaska operators under microscope

Colleen Mondor

April 11, 2014

The fatal crash Tuesday of a Cessna Caravan near Bethel is the latest in a string of accidents by longtime air taxi operator Hageland Aviation Services. Hageland -- which now operates as Ravn Connect and is part of the Ravn Alaska “family of airlines” -- has been involved in 29 accidents resulting in 23 deaths over the past 20 years. The latest accident is one of five ongoing National Transportation Safety Board investigations into commercial flights operated under the Ravn Alaska banner. 

In another recent accident, an aircraft operated by Hageland crashed outside of St. Marys in late November, killing the pilot and three passengers and leaving six other passengers with serious injuries.

The latest crash joins three other accidents and an incident -- the difference between an accident and an incident is determined by NTSB regulations and involves levels of damage and injury as determined by investigators -- involving Ravn Alaska air group members that are under active investigation by the NTSB. When reviewed as a group, they reveal a pattern of mishaps dating back more than 18 months, which have cumulatively resulted in six deaths.


A series of accidents

 
According to a preliminary NTSB report, the first of these mishaps occurred in September 2012 when an Era Aviation de Havilland DHC-8 departing Anchorage International Airport experienced “an uncommanded left roll and uncontrolled descent during climb at about 12,000 feet." The flight crew regained control at about 7,000 feet and returned to land. None of the 12 passengers or three crew members were injured.

Due to the size of the aircraft and the nature of the operation -- Era Aviation operates under the more-stringent Part 121 section of the Federal Aviation Regulations due to the size of its aircraft and passenger loads -- this incident was turned over to Washington, D.C.-based NTSB officials for investigation.

Then, in October 2013, an Era Aviation Beechcraft 1900 suffered a collapse of the nose and main landing gear while landing in Homer. The flight crew and 13 passengers were uninjured but the aircraft received substantial damage.

In discussing the events at Anchorage and Homer in a recent phone conversation, Washington D.C.-based NTSB public affairs officer Eric Weiss explained that the investigations will extend as far as possible to understand not only what happened, but why. This could include moving the investigation beyond the individual events and into the overall management of the air group. "If answering the question of why extends to management and the overall safety culture, we will look at that," said Weiss. "We will go wherever the investigation takes us."

On Nov. 22, another Beechcraft 1900, this one operated by Hageland Aviation, hit the elevated edge of the runway surface while landing at Badami Airport near Deadhorse. According to the preliminary report, the right main landing gear separated and the airplane slid along the runway surface, causing substantial damage. Weather in Badami at the time of the accident included heavy blowing snow and broken clouds at 1,000 feet, with a half-mile of visibility.

Five days later, Era Alaska Flight 1453 -- operated by Hageland Aviation -- departed Bethel and crashed within 40 minutes near St. Marys, resulting in those four fatalities and six injuries. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at St. Marys when the flight was dispatched, with a ceiling of 300 feet and an overcast sky at the time of the crash. Despite conditions requiring instrument navigation, flight 1453 was operating under visual flight rules. The Badami, St. Marys and recent Bethel accident are all under investigation by the Anchorage NTSB office.

According to investigator Clint Johnson, those accidents are all in the fact-gathering stage. Once analysis of those facts has taken place, the NTSB will look at the carrier as a whole to consider, for example, if there are overall concerns with pilot training, maintenance, oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration or other factors.

"At this point we are working on a case-by-case basis," Johnson said.

The FAA has increased surveillance of the Hageland operation in Bethel since the St. Marys accident. While officials could not confirm any possible enforcement action against the company in the wake of the most recent fatal crash, the FAA asserted that its policy is to “explore all options to address our enforcement responsibilities."

Both Hageland Aviation and Era Aviation are cooperating with all the investigations.


Alaska Airlines 'unwinding' from Hageland

Ownership and operational control of the three air carriers under the Ravn Alaska umbrella is complex and deeply rooted in the companies' history. The first combining of resources between two members of the group came in 2008. The owners of Hageland Aviation Services -- Mike Hageland and Jim Tweto -- and the owner of Frontier Flying Service -- John Hajdukovich -- established a parent company named HoTh Inc. This company was formed to create a self-described “airgroup” where, according to the company website, “the parent company could acquire companies that have synergies with each other (to) market the combined services under a common brand.” State records show that presently HoTh Inc. is owned by Tweto (11 percent), Hageland (39 percent) and Robert Hajdukovich (50 percent).

HoTH Inc. owns Frontier Flying Service, Hageland Aviation Services and Era Aviation, the latter of which was purchased in 2009.

Each of the three companies have separate directors of operation and chief pilots, though Frontier and Era share a CEO in Robert Hajdukovich. The CEO of Hageland Aviation is James Dickerson. The FAA has also assigned individual Certificate Management Teams to each company with specific principal operations and maintenance inspectors and separate annual inspections.
 

Alaska Airlines currently partners with Era Alaska in a “code-sharing” relationship. This allows passengers to purchase tickets from a point of departure with Alaska Airlines all the way through to a destination operated by one of the Era Alaska air group members. This will likely change to Ravn Alaska soon as part of the Era Alaska rebranding effort.

  This seamless scheduling and travel is part of the Alaska Airlines/Era Alaska relationship and based upon “consistent passenger service standards and procedures” for the duration of transport. 
 
Hageland, however, will soon be removed from that equation. In an email, Alaska Airlines spokesperson Bobbie Egan wrote:

"Alaska Air Group maintains a comprehensive safety oversight program of all of our alliance partners. This includes operational safety focused assessments, regular monitoring, and meetings with these partner airlines. As part of this program, Alaska Air Group made the policy decision in December 2013 to begin unwinding our business partnership with Hageland Aviation, Inc. ... This business partnership will fully terminate this month."

Egan said that Hageland is the only Ravn Alaska member Alaska Airlines is terminating its relationship with.


Going forward

Hageland Aviation recently opened a new centralized operation center in Palmer that will weigh 25-30 risk factors prior to each flight as part of a new and enhanced risk management approach. Dispatchers at the center are in constant contact with pilots during their flights. This is unusual for a smaller operator -- referred to as Part 135 under Federal Aviation Regulations -- like Hageland. The center mirrors the one utilized by Era Aviation in Anchorage, and similar to those required of all Part 121 airlines.

As the five investigations continue, the operation and training standards of all of Ravn Alaska member airlines will likely receive more scrutiny from FAA and NTSB investigators. With Ravn Alaska's common ownership, common management and common reservation and scheduling systems, it presents a unique and complicated situation for accident investigators and enforcement officials.

Although Hageland Aviation aircraft may present in different livery or colors and the pilots may or may not wear uniforms to match those of Anchorage-based flight crews, the airline itself is owned and operated by the same group of individuals that owns and operates its sister companies. Since the 2008 combination of resources, there have been six Hageland Aviation accidents in addition to two fatality crashes, five of which occurred in the Bethel region. In fact, accidents involving Bethel-based aircraft have long dominated Hageland’s accident history, which includes crashes in such villages as Marshall, Scammon Bay, Kongiganak, Kwigillingok and Bethel itself. As an integral part of the group, that accident history has belonged first to Frontier Alaska and then Era Alaska and now, through the rebranding, Ravn Alaska.

As owners, the open accident and incident investigations are the collective responsibility of the HoTH board of directors. Ultimately, the current fatality crash, and the one in St. Marys, are just as much a part of Ravn Alaska’s future as they are of Hageland Aviation’s.

The probable cause report for the 2012 incident should be released later this year. The reports for 2013 accidents may extend into early 2015. All of the Ravn Alaska flights continue to operate as scheduled and the Hageland Aviation base in Bethel remains open.

The author of this article briefly worked for Frontier Flying Service in 1998, and leased aircraft to the company until 2010. Contact Colleen Mondor at colleen(at)alaskadispatch.com.


Story and comments/reaction:   http://www.alaskadispatch.com