Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Former airport director gets $134,375 in severance: Pittsburgh International (KPIT), Pennsylvania

The Allegheny County Airport Authority will pay its former executive director Bradley D. Penrod $134,375 in severance as a result of his ouster by the board last month.

The lump sum payment is part of an employment and separation agreement reached between the authority and Mr. Penrod and dated April 7. It was released today after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette filed a right-to-know request.

Mr. Penrod was executive director of the authority for six years until he was reassigned to president and chief strategy officer in February 2013. He was removed by the board after its March meeting.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and the authority have said that they made the decision in an effort to do everything possible to attract new flights to Pittsburgh International Airport, which has seen service to many destinations drastically cut since US Airways closed its hub in 2004.

Mr. Penrod had worked at the airport for more than 30 years and supervised the move from the old airport to the midfield terminal in 1992.

As part of the separation agreement, the authority acknowledged that Mr. Penrod was "being let go through no fault of his own." James Gill, the authority's chief financial officer, is now serving as acting executive director.

Source:   http://www.post-gazette.com

Alva Regional Airport (KAVK), Oklahoma: Board Meeting

 Published on April 15, 2014
Agree to lease a portion of airport land to restore WW II German Prisoner of War camp.

Pentagon says automatic budget cuts would hit F-35, other weapons

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Tuesday detailed $48.3 billion in cuts to major weapons programs like Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 fighter jet that would kick in from fiscal 2016 to 2019 if Congress does not reverse automatic budget cuts that are to resume in 2016.

It said the cuts would slash $40 billion from the Pentagon's planned spending on operations and maintenance over that time, while research and development of new cutting-edge technologies would fall by nearly $18 billion from $337 billion.

The Defense Department said the cuts required under a process called sequestration would damage the military's modernization efforts, increase national security risks, further slash troop levels and jeopardize the ability of U.S. forces to go to war.

"If sequestration-level cuts persist, our forces will assume substantial additional risks in certain missions and will continue to face significant readiness and modernization challenges," the Pentagon said in the report.

It said the cuts would leave the military unbalanced and eventually too small to meet the needs of the Obama administration's military strategy.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other top military officials have repeatedly urged Congress to reverse the cuts passed as part of the Budget Control Act, arguing that they came on top of nearly $600 billion in cuts already being implemented by the U.S. military.

If U.S. lawmakers do not repeal the mandatory budget cuts, the Air Force would have to eliminate its entire fleet of KC-10 refueling planes and divest its entire fleet of the Block 40 version of Northrop Grumman Corp's Global Hawk unmanned surveillance planes, the report said.

The Air Force would buy 15 fewer F-35 fighter jets in fiscal 2016-2017, five fewer KC-46A refueling planes built by Boeing Co in fiscal 2017-2018, and a new combat rescue helicopter to be built by Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp, would be delayed until fiscal 2019.

The Navy would be forced to mothball six destroyers and retire an aircraft carrier and its associated air wing, reducing the carrier fleet to 10, the report said.

It would delay six orders for Boeing's P-8A surveillance planes, increasing the cost of the remaining aircraft and raise the cost of maintaining the older P-3 aircraft.

The Navy would also buy eight fewer ships, including one fewer Virginia-class submarine built by General Dynamics Corp and Huntington Ingalls Industries, and three fewer DDG-51 destroyers, built by the same two companies.

The report said the Army would buy 61 fewer Black Hawk helicopters built by Sikorsky, 67 fewer Apache helicopters built by Boeing and would eliminate funding for a fourth brigade set of double-V hull Stryker vehicles built by General Dynamics.

The Marine Corps's new CH-53K helicopter being developed by Sikorsky would be delayed by one year, with seven fewer aircraft to be built for savings of about $1 billion, the report said.

It said the cuts would also delay work on a new amphibious combat vehicle to replace the 40-year-old vehicles now used by the Marines.

Source:    http://www.chicagotribune.com

Smoke reported in plane's cabin at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (KATL)

ATLANTA (AP) - Fire officials say a Delta Air Lines jet at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has been evacuated after a report of smoke in the cabin.

Atlanta Fire Rescue spokeswoman Janet Ward says the smoke eventually dissipated Tuesday evening. Ward says crew members could not identify its source and called in maintenance staff.

Ward says no injuries have been reported.

Delta Air Lines representatives did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment and details on the type of aircraft, number of passengers it was carrying or its origin and destination.

Source:    http://www.wrcbtv.com

Golf balls ending up on Elizabethton Municipal Airport (0A9) runway


 CARTER COUNTY, TN (WJHL) - Tuesday was not ideal weather to be outside. It was rainy, cloudy and cold. Monday was a completely different story and with Masters fever wearing off some people took advantage of the weather and hit some golf balls.

The problem is where they were hitting them.

In Carter County the balls landed at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport and that has airport officials worried. They said the tiny white ball could become a deadly problem if it hit a plane.

At the Elizabethton airport they can expect as many as 100 flights taking off and landing every day.

To ensure the safety of employees and travelers, officials conduct daily inspections, and several times this month they've found golf balls scattered across the runway. Tuesday was no exception.

"Over the last 30 days we have been finding golf balls," said Dan Cogan.

Cogan is not at a local golf course, he's about seven miles away at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport.

"Four different occasions we found golf balls out there and the total is well over 100 golf balls," Cogan said.

Cogan is the airport manager. He said they're finding the golf balls along the east end runway, where planes take off and land.

"Whether it's an oversight that someone didn't use good judgment of hitting a golf ball, that's why we have golf courses," said Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes.

Mathes said at this point there's nothing criminal about it, but that could change and change very quickly.

"(It's) reckless endangerment, you're putting people's lives in danger," Mathes said.

Cogan fears the worst if a golf ball went flying at a plane.

"It can suck a golf ball into it causing engine failure or damage to the engine," said Cogan. "Then if it's a moving aircraft you could have a major incident causing up to loss of life."

Mathes hopes the word gets out and whomever is using the runway as their golf course, stops.

"We're not at a golf course. We're in the middle of a community and inside of that community there is an airport where planes are landing and taking off," said Mathes.

At this point no one has been hurt and no plane has been hit.

Deputies ask if you know who may be behind the club, to call the Carter County Sheriff's Office at (423) 543-2211.

Story and video: http://www.wjhl.com

False reports of helicopter crash in Sedgwick County, Kansas


COLWICH, Kansas – Emergency dispatchers received a call Tuesday afternoon stating that a helicopter was caught in some power lines at 53rd Street North and 183rd Street West.

Someone thought a chopper was caught in power lines.

It turned out to not be the case.

The chopper was just helping crews as they worked on utility poles.

According to Westar the helicopter was being used to install bird protection on the power lines.

While fascinating and dangerous, it is routine for crews.

Story and video:  http://ksn.com

Allegiant Passengers: Whole Plane Smelled After Hitting Swarm of Bees


They pollinate, they buzz, they sometimes sting, but what sort of damage can bees do to a plane?

"I mean you hear about hitting birds, but not bees!" exclaimed Allegiant Flight 448 passenger Cassandra Rogers.

They can seemingly do enough damage to turn a plane around. An Allegiant spokesperson said the Duluth-bound flight returned to Las Vegas shortly after takeoff due to a swarm of bees clouding the windshield and being ingested into the engines.

Rogers said they didn't feel anything, but the plane's cabin immediately began to smell. Passenger Misty Newman said some on the plane began to panic.

"Right as the plane lifted it just stunk, like the plane was on fire. It smelled like the whole cabin was on fire," she said.

Another passenger, Sandy Dinehart, said it was awful, the smell of sulfur filled the cabin.

They weren't in the air very long before the pilot came over the intercom, saying they had hit a bird and they'd have to turn around, said Newman.

"When we landed the fire department and the cops were waiting and they took off along the runway after us," she said.

On the tarmac, they were surrounded by emergency vehicles. Many passengers said it was almost like a movie.

"It was a little scary coming back into Vegas, you don't know what kind of damage was done," Dinehart said.

They got off the plane, onto another, and that's when they learned what they had really hit.

"We thought he [the pilot] was joking when he said ,'I've never had that happen before. We hit thousands of bees," said Rogers.

The flight ended up getting to Duluth about two hours late.

Story and video:   http://www.wdio.com

Griffin, Georgia: Airport Authority forming public information committee

Following the county’s decision earlier this month to put the new airport before the voters, the Griffin Spalding Airport Authority is putting together a public information committee to put the facts out.

“The vote is to continue or not to move forward with the new airport,” explained Airport Authority Chairman Dick Morrow. “It would behoove us to get information out to the public. Sadly, there is a lot of misinformation out there.”

Airport Authority member and County Commissioner Raymond Ray said, “it’s a complicated issue the voting public doesn’t understand the costs of the current airport, the benefits and costs of the new airport.”

Ray said, “educated voters have always done a good job. We need to inform them.”

Ray was one of the three county commissioners voting to put the issue before the voters, saying at one point during that discussion on April 7, that he’d vote it down that night if it didn’t go before the voters. On Monday night, he also volunteered to be a part of the public information committee.

“What has perplexed me,” Morrow said Monday night, “is the misinformation out there. Someone came up, very critical of the airport, calling me names, saying how stupid it was to have two airports if we couldn’t make money with the one we have.”

Morrow clarified, “yes, when the new one opens we close the old one. We need to get information out.”

Airport Authority member Carl Pruitt offered to chair the public information committee and fellow Airport Authority member Larry Johnson offered to help. Members of the public are being recruited to participate as well.

Johnson said, “the majority of people tell me we need industry and jobs. They ask, if we’re losing money on the one we have, why build another, or they say they don’t have the information to make a decision.”

He has been telling people, “this is what we have, what it will cost to keep it and that we really can get $60 million for $6 million. “

Johnson said, people ask, ‘are my taxes going up?’ I don’t know. I tell them the city and county decide.”

Morrow said, “this (the public information committee) will be our attempt to get out the facts. We need to make it neutral — just the facts.”

Morrow asked about anyone who wants to advocate for it, and Griffin City Manager Kenny Smith “it’s not in the best interest for elected officials to advocate for it.”

Ray said, “we can’t lobby in one way or the other for a vote. Any individuals who want to advocate are free to do so if they choose.”

One of the selling points Johnson, Pruitt and others have used so far is the $6 million cost for a new airport, compared to the $10 in local money needed to bring the airport up to current requirements or the $25 million in local money it would cost to just close the existing airport.

Both the $6 million and $10 million price tags are the 10 percent local match portions, after 90 percent in matching funds from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program. That program is funded from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, into which were deposited revenues from several aviation-user taxes on such items as airline fares, air freight and aviation fuel.

The $25 million would be all local money, as the matching grant funds come with loan guarantees that the airport will continue to operate. Those eventually fall off, but are replaced as new grants are accepted and utilized.

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

American Airlines pilot caught with pistol at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (KDFW)

An American Airlines pilot apparently forgot he left a loaded pistol in his backpack while going through a security checkpoint at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport last month, according to a police report obtained by News 8.

Transportation Security Administration screeners in Terminal D found a stainless steel Smith & Wesson model 669 9 mm caliber semi-automatic handgun in Craig Ronald Calabrese’s bag on March 16.

Calabrese, 49, arrived at the airport to pilot American Flight 1501 to Cancun.

“There were two magazines with the handgun, but no magazine loaded in the handgun,” the police officer explained in the report. “I pulled the slide back to inspect the chamber and discovered one bullet loaded. Twenty three bullets were loaded between the two magazines. I did not notice any obvious, covert attempt to intentionally conceal the weapon from pre-board screeners.”

Still, police charged Calabrese with a violation of the "Places Weapons Prohibited" statute, but unlike other people who make the same mistake, officers did not arrest the airline pilot.

"Calabrese was released on his own recognizance for purposes of minimizing impact to airline operations,” the report stated.

Police said the pilot forgot the handgun was in his bag but added that, “Calabrese was reckless in not thoroughly checking his backpack to ensure there were no prohibited items present prior to the pre-board screening process conducted by TSA.”

“Calabrese stated he doesn't regularly keep the handgun in his backpack, but recently traveled out of town in an RV and took it with him for protection and forgot to remove it prior to leaving his home to catch his flight,” the report’s narrative explained. “Calabrese has owned the gun a while now and frequently handles it.”

American Airlines said it was aware of the situation but had no further comment.

Source:   http://www.khou.com

Regulators order inspection of Bombardier airplanes: Pedal parts ‘may be prone to premature fatigue cracking,’ Transport Canada says

MONTREAL — Canadian and U.S. aviation regulators have ordered Bombardier Inc. to inspect pilots’ rudder pedals for fractures on three more regional-jet models sold to airlines around the world.

The airworthiness directive (AD) — repair or inspection orders regulators issue to aircraft manufacturers — from Transport Canada and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) concern Bombardier’s CRJ700 70-seat, CRJ900 90-seat and CRJ1000 100-seat series of regional jets. The AD issued by Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) on Jan. 8 extends its previous order last May to inspect pilot-side rudder pedal tubes for cracks and fractures on Bombardier’s smallest — and oldest — regional aircraft, the 50-seat CRJ200.

An “unsafe condition” is caused by “premature fatigue cracking” and could result in loss of control of the aircraft, both regulators said.

The directives were issued after two reports found cracks in the rudder pedal parts of a 50-seat jet. But the part is the same one installed in the larger jets and “may (also) be prone to premature fatigue cracking,” TCCA noted.

Marc Duchesne, spokesman for Bombardier Aerospace, said the company sent out a service bulletin to carriers on Nov. 15, but that type of inspection suggestion is not mandatory to follow. Even with the new inspection order, the issue does not “pose a danger currently,” he said.

Duchesne couldn’t say which airlines the two aircraft in question belonged to, at which airports the cracks were found, nor when they occurred.

Hans Weber, an aircraft safety expert and founder of San Diego-based TECOP International Inc., said that “in a case like this, I would expect they would replace the parts. And not only replace the parts, but because there’s obviously something wrong with them, redesign them also — strengthened.”

But Duchesne said the tube that connects to the rudder pedal is made by Bombardier in-house, and will be neither redesigned nor strengthened.

“Basically, that’s because with this directive, now every 26,000 cycles (takeoffs and landings) there’s a check. So if they need to replace the part, well, they put another one in and check it again after the next 26,000 cycles.”

FAA spokesman Les Dorr said the U.S. regulator was complying with its Canadian counterpart’s order, as is the agreement between the two organizations.

“We are mirroring whatever is in the Transport Canada AD.”

He said about 400 of the three aircraft series targeted by the latest directive are flown by U.S. carriers.

Bombardier has sold more than 1,700 regional jets to operators worldwide in the last 20 years.

Transport Canada spokeswoman Karine Martel said officials were not available for comment this week.

Weber said that “since the FAA issued a directive, it’s a serious matter. An AD is issued only if it’s a flight-critical matter.”

Rudder pedals are used mostly during takeoffs and landings, often to compensate for crosswinds.

“Losing a rudder would mean that you couldn’t compensate for that,” said Weber.

“The other thing of concern theoretically would be that the rudder somehow could get into an uncommanded deflection. That would really be destructive. That is, if the airplane is flying at regular speed and the rudder goes in one direction at full extent because something in the controls broke. That could just break off the tail.”

The most dangerous situation would be during landing, since any issue with the rudder would likely be detected before a takeoff roll, when pilots test the systems.

The issue is only on the pilot-side rudder pedals because it results from putting on the parking brakes, the regulators said.

John Maris, a former test pilot with the Canadian Armed Forces, said that “it’s always the pilot who sets the parking brake (as opposed to the first officer). And you push quite hard. And it turns out that they are finding these things are fatiguing and cracking early.”

Maris cautioned that such directives “are not issued lightly, but they don’t have to be catastrophic. It’s just a mechanism to make sure that someone doesn’t coast with a problem that gets worse with time. It’s not a crisis crisis. ”

But Weber noted that a directive adds urgency and “is the result of an escalation.” It usually follows a manufacturer’s service bulletin and then a regulator’s advisory circular, neither of which is mandatory to follow.

Maris said that “you catch a crack before it gets to a critical radius or length where it suddenly fails completely and suddenly. This is a normal precaution.

“I don’t see any risk to the public if the directive is complied with.”

Source:   http://www.montrealgazette.com

Malaysia Airlines Plane Search Process Shows China on Sidelines: Demanding Inside Track, It Has Shown Less Appetite to Partner Up

The Wall Street Journal 

By  James T. Areddy in Shanghai,  Richard C. Paddock in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and  Daniel Stacey in Canberra, Australia

Updated April 15, 2014 12:23 p.m. ET

SHANGHAI—When civil aviation experts from around Asia huddled in January to study how they might coordinate search-and-rescue following an ocean plane crash, China's government sent word that it lacked a response program but didn't dispatch anyone to attend.

Still, just over a month later, China's government mounted a full-throttle response to the disappearance of Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 by sending planes and ships to the search area. Noting that more than half the 239 people on the March 8 flight were nationals of China, its diplomats vigorously engaged other governments—in some cases through the same individuals who organized the regional search-preparation event China had just missed for the second year in a row.

China's strategy during the search for Flight 370 provides a rare peek at how Asia's emerging superpower interacts with its neighbors during a crisis. It also hints at Beijing's eagerness to project a softer side to its expanding military machine that has rattled nerves across the region.

Since the plane disappeared nearly 40 days ago, people involved in the search say China proved a determined and forceful first responder, if sometimes overconfident, disorganized and incorrect. As an outsider to deep political and military alliances built over decades by Washington, China has demanded an inside track to information but has shown less appetite to partner with the broader 26-nation coalition.

Chinese diplomats—ordered by President Xi Jinping the day the plane went missing to involve themselves in the process—pressed senior leaders in capitals across Asia, at times souring an atmosphere already thick with difficulties for families and officials, the people involved in the search said.

"International efforts in the search operation clearly show this region has the capacity to face challenges," said Hong Lei, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry. "Since the plane went missing the Malaysian side has coordinated international search efforts and put in enormous resources. We would like to continue our cooperation with the relevant parties."

The disappearance of a U.S.-made jetliner carrying mostly Chinese passengers also highlights contrasting styles of rival powers, each with an interest in the investigation.

"If you were a country torn between the two, which country would you turn to in a time of crisis?" asked a person close to the investigation in Malaysia. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board "have all made substantial contributions to finding out what happened," the official said, adding that the U.S. has also had "meaningful and direct impact" by supplying critical equipment like a black-box location device, a Bluefin-21 submersible and P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft.

"On the Chinese side, we've had some satellite images released by mistake, questionable underwater search techniques, and a drumbeat of criticism of Malaysia," the person said, in a reference to Chinese satellite images early in the search that mistakenly put the wreckage in the South China Sea.

Friction between Malaysian and Chinese officials emerged from the earliest days of the operation, prompting criticism from both countries the other had mishandled the search.

After Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on March 24 said it was "beyond reasonable doubt" that the plane went down in the southern Indian Ocean, China's government-run Xinhua news agency blasted his statement as "clumsily conceived and, sadly, even more poorly executed."

The following day, Chinese police stood by when family members of passengers marched on Malaysia's embassy in Beijing. Police later ignored taunts to Malaysia's China ambassador, Iskandar Bin Sarudin, even as he sobbed through a brief statement: "If you don't know anything, why are you here?" one relative charged.

Others echoed a woman who loudly demanded the ambassador drop to his knees before her, a cowering demonstration of apology. He didn't respond.

Mr. Hong, the foreign ministry spokesman, said in a written response to questions that China's government shares the concerns and anxiety of family members. "We noticed that the majority of family members of Chinese passengers and the public are expressing their concerns and feelings in a rational and objective manner," he said.

Tension eased after the search shifted southward, closer to Australia; that nation welcomed Chinese planes to one of its air bases and coordinated with the crew of a Chinese icebreaker it had built a partnership with months earlier during a rescue near Antarctica.

"We were effectively in an honest broker's role. We have reasonably good relations with most of the players," said Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, or ATSB.

Yet, in early April, when China's team reported hearing undersea pulses possibly from the jetliner's equipment, what initially seemed like a breakthrough also highlighted the kind of frustration that officials in other countries say China's processes have repeatedly caused.

According to a Western military official close to the search, after the pings were heard by a detector towed from China's Haixun 01 patrol ship, Chinese investigators relayed the findings thousands of miles north to Beijing, rather than alert ships and planes already nearby in the southern Indian Ocean.

That reporting system, reflecting China's centralized command structure, unnecessarily delayed the information flow and frustrated other searchers, according to the military official.

It's not known how long it took China to share its findings with other investigating teams. Xinhua published news of the detected pulses on the evening of April 5, more than a day after pulses were first detected. When reporters asked search officials in Australia and Malaysia about the findings, their comments suggested all they knew was what Xinhua reported in its three-sentence dispatch.

Over the next few days, and as fears were growing that black-box batteries were nearing expiration, Australian officials using a U.S.-supplied device also detected pings in what turned out to be some of the most important leads yet in the investigation.

Ultimately, the Chinese pings were dismissed as a false lead by both the search teams on the British HMS Echo and the ATSB. The Chinese pings appear to have been based on hydrophone equipment with such short range that the ATSB, which owns similar devices, decided not to send it along with its search crew on the navy vessel Ocean Shield because it is typically only used by scuba divers in shallow waters.

The January meeting by aviation-safety officials from 15 countries under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations body, aimed to plot how governments in the region could mount an international search following an air disaster at sea, according to a 73-page summary.

Scott Constable, a senior rescue official in the Australian Maritime Safety Authority who has emerged as a key figure in the search for Flight 370, chaired the Singapore meeting. He declined to comment on the Chinese absence as did officials at various departments at China's at the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

In Singapore, Mr. Constable proposed ways to build a regional plan for "oceanic and remote area" search and rescue, according to the summary, including learning lessons from a 2009 Air France  crash into the Atlantic—an event experts say provides a blueprint for the continuing Indian Ocean search.

"You always know there's going to be some event in the future," said another participant, Steven W. Lett, head of the secretariat of the International Cospas-Sarsat Program, a Montreal-based emergency-response system. Knowing response officers in other countries, Mr. Lett said, "makes everything go so much easier when they have these emergency events."

—Jason Ng, Trefor Moss and Jeremy Page contributed to this article.

Source:    http://online.wsj.com

Quad City International Airport (KMLI) hangar project advances

A new corporate hangar at the Quad-City International Airport in Moline got the green light Tuesday with approval of the ground lease with Norkev, LLC, the Rock Island-based company planning to build the $3 million hangar.

The Rock Island County Metropolitan Airport Authority voted 8-0 to approve the lease, which paves the way for construction of the 14,000-square-foot structure. The hanger, which will be used exclusively by Norkev, will be located on the east side of the airport's cargo ramp and east of the airport's new customs facility.

Airport officials said in February that they had been in private negotiations concerning a new hangar with a then unnamed company.

According to the airport's lease documents, Patrick Hogan is listed as the manager of Norkev. Hogan is president and owner of Rock Island Auction Co., a global leading auction house for firearms, edged weapons and military artifacts. It is located in the Southwest Rock Island Industrial Park.

Hogan could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Bryan Johnson, the airport's assistant aviation director, told commissioners that the structure will be used solely to store aircraft. He said Norkev took delivery of a corporate plane last fall and is storing it temporarily at Elliott Aviation, located of the back side of the airport's property.

Bruce Carter, aviation director, said construction could begin as early as May, but the hangar is pending approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Under the terms of the lease, Norkev will pay the airport an annual lease payment of nearly $22,000 for the first three years, Johnson said. The lease is for a 20-year term with increases in rent over the life of the lease. The company also will pay fuel flowage fees of 10 cents per gallon purchased, an annual environmental fee and half the cost of utilities.

"This is going to be a great asset for the airport," Carter said, adding that the project has an IMPACT agreement and involves no tax increment financing.

According to Johnson, Norkev is leasing 73,000 square feet of ground from the airport to build the hangar, which it will own. "We're so fortunate to have a project like this," he said, adding that "you don't often see these types of projects just fall into your lap."

In other business:

    Carter reported that enplanements for March were up 1 percent to 33,763, while deplanements were up 4 percent to 34,686. "We're running about even after the first three months of the calendar year," he said.

Among the carriers, Allegiant showed the largest growth — reporting 8,195 enplanements, which was up 41 percent from 5,826 a year ago. Delta Airlines was up 8 percent to 11,564 enplanements from 10,731 a year ago. American Eagle's enplanements dropped 3 percent to 6,602 from 6,791 a year ago. United Express was down 27 percent over the year from 9,916 enplanements in March 2013, to 7,241 this year.

For the year, total passengers — enplanements and deplanements combined — are up 2 percent to 68,449 from 66,811 a year ago.

Source:   http://qctimes.com

Opinion: Say no to the airport project (Brainerd Lakes Regional, KBRD, Brainerd, Minnesota)

By Charles Marohn 

Time is running out for the Brainerd City Council to stop — or even substantively influence — the proposed sewer and water expansion to the Brainerd Lakes Airport. They need to act now.

This project has been driven entirely from the top down. It wasn’t the result of a pressing public need — although Brainerd has lots of those — and there has been no substantive public input or feedback along the way. The project is not in the city’s comprehensive plan or capital improvements plan. It is listed nowhere on the city’s website. It has immaculately emerged as a multi-million dollar collateral obligation from a prior top-down project: the expansion of the regional airport.

This is a pattern Brainerd’s residents and business owners are only too familiar with. While we can’t afford to paint a crosswalk, we put off critical street maintenance, we let our parks become overgrown with weeds and we make recurring cuts to public safety, we are continuously presented big ticket projects that we simply can’t say no to. How does this happen?

The answer is fairly simple. Some staff member, committee or unelected commission identifies a need or big ticket desire. Working outside of any real scrutiny, the project is developed over time to the point where a funding stream emerges. We then have all the local power brokers — such as the chamber of commerce and BLAEDC — step forth to endorse the project. Then, only when “most” of the funding has been secured, the elected city council, and by extension the public, is asked to weigh in.

Is the city council going to say no to $6.5 million dollars in state funding? They are not, especially when the airport manager says “we’re not going to make that deadline,” a fire marshal mandate the airport has known about for years, without the one plan currently on the table.

Is the city council going to turn their backs on millions of dollars of state funding secured by our legislators? Unless they want to lose their credibility for the next bonding bill request, they will take the money (after some superficial grandstanding), provide the required matching funds and issue a press release thanking Representatives Ward and Radinovich as well as Sen. Ruud for their service to the area.

Is the city council going to resist a project that BLAEDC has called “critical... to the economic growth of our community”? Will the council reject the calls of the chamber to create a “two-mile stretch that now becomes prime real estate for commercial development”? For a city desperately needing economic growth, are we going to say no to the potential — realistic or not — of 20 new jobs by 2017. Even at the price of $380,000 per potential job, as the airport manager said, they are “jobs our community needs.”

So the city council will be handed this neatly wrapped project with every short term incentive to say yes. When the public is finally asked to weigh in, it will be at a tightly scripted and superficial public hearing. We’ve all been here before.

This is a bad project and the city council should stop it before the point of no return. It runs counter to the primary focus of their strategic plan: neighborhood investments and stable financial planning. More growth on the outskirts of town may be good for “chamber members” in the short term but it has not benefitted Brainerd’s downtown or its neighborhood businesses. These gambles on growth create enormous long term obligations, unproductive investments that divert money from our core neighborhoods. After decades of no population growth following just this approach, when are we going to learn our lesson?

So what is an alternative? This city council should act on its stated priorities and direct its staff to focus its efforts on neighborhood investments. We shouldn’t be doing one top down project but instead dozens of small projects along with a comprehensive realigning of codes and policies to be friendlier to small, incremental investments from the private sector.

If we did this, we would not be gambling with our future in the hopes of attracting elusive growth. Instead we would be investing in making Brainerd a better place to live right now. This will not only improve the lives of our friends and neighbors today, it is also the financially savvy thing to do. Small, incremental neighborhood projects are low risk, high return investments. They are how modern cities are building real wealth and prosperity in an age of austerity.

I’m still waiting for the jobs from College Drive and the tens of millions of dollars of new private sector investment needed to keep that “investment” from being a future financial millstone around this community’s neck. Let’s prevent another mistake by stopping the airport utility project before it is too late.

CHARLES MAROHN, PE, AICP, is a licensed engineer, member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and president of Strong Towns, a national nonprofit based out of Brainerd. He is a 1991 graduate of Brainerd High School.

Source:   http://brainerddispatch.com

GMR Aviation Ltd gets show-cause notice for safety checks

Directorate General of Civil Aviation found that GMR Aviation pilots were not undergoing breathalyzer tests to determine whether they had consumed alcohol before flying  

New Delhi: The aviation regulator has issued a show-cause notice to GMR Aviation Ltd, which runs an air charter service, and suspended the licenses of 11 pilots and six cabin crew for allegedly violating safety norms on flights that carried important dignitaries, said a top official on condition of anonymity. 

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) found that GMR Aviation pilots were not undergoing breathalyzer tests to determine whether they had consumed alcohol before flying, said the DGCA official.

It also found that a doctor hired by GMR Aviation, a part of the GMR group that runs the Hyderabad and New Delhi airports, was noting down that the test had been done despite the absence of equipment to conduct it.

“We are approaching the Delhi Medical Council to cancel his practice and an FIR (first information complaint) will be registered soon,” the DGCA official cited above said.

The notice issued by director general of civil aviation Prabhat Kumar asked the company to explain why its license should not be cancelled for the breaches.

A GMR spokesman said it had received the show-cause notice late Tuesday from the DGCA and was studying it.

The regulator has been conducting checks on air charter services, especially during the ongoing general election. GMR Aviation services are used by dignitaries including those who are entitled to the elite Special Protection Groups (SPG).

Politicians typically use charter helicopters to fly to remote areas that lack adequate infrastructure for air travel during the election campaign.

DGCA had warned charter operators in a circular last month that non-compliance with aviation and safety norms will result in suspension of operations or pilot licences or even cancellation of operator permits.

“Analysis of earlier accidents/incidents associated with small aircraft/helicopter operations from airstrips/temporary helipads and past experience of election flying by the operators has revealed that laid down instructions were violated time and again and safety was jeopardized,” DGCA said in the circular.

Source:    http://www.livemint.com

Office of Inspector General: Further Actions Are Needed To Improve Federal Aviation Administration's Oversight of the Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Program

 For more:
- download the report, AV-2014-036 (pdf)

Required by the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012
Project ID: AV-2014-036


The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Program (VDRP) provides air carriers the opportunity to report and correct areas of non-compliance without civil penalty. While VDRP helps FAA identify and mitigate safety issues, it requires close monitoring to ensure the program is not misused. The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 mandated that our office examine FAA’s oversight of VDRP.

FAA has made progress in ensuring that air carrier disclosure reports meet VDRP requirements, but the Agency lacks awareness of the root causes that led to reported violations—in part because FAA does not require air carriers to identify or document the root cause of a violation when they submit a self-disclosure. Furthermore, FAA does not ensure that air carriers fully implement corrective actions or verify whether the actions are adequate at resolving problems. We also found that FAA does not effectively collect, analyze, and trend VDRP data to identify safety risks at the national level. As a result, FAA inspectors are not realizing the full potential of VDRP data to target inspections to areas of highest risk.

We made eight recommendations to improve FAA’s VDRP oversight and its ability to identify safety risks using VDRP data. We have requested that FAA provide a written response to our report and recommendations within 30 days.

Read more here:   http://www.oig.dot.gov

International Flight Expected to Take Off Again After Emergency Landing at Abilene Regional Airport (KABI), Texas

5:01 p.m. Update

There are no injuries reported after an international flight from Cabo San Lucas had to make an emergency landing at the Abilene Regional Airport due to depressurization issues.

Mechanics are on the plane and are fixing the cause of the issue, saying the plane should take off again shortly after the necessary repairs are made.

All 138 passengers will remain on board the plane while the repairs are being made.

Since Abilene is not an international airport, customs agents would need to be called in from elsewhere before passengers could leave the plane.

4:26 p.m. Update

The plane has landed safely and the situation is now being assessed by emergency and airport personnel.

Original Story

An international flight is making an emergency landing at the Abilene Regional Airport.

The flight is an American Airlines MD80 coming in from Cabo San Lucas. The original destination was Dallas / Fort Worth.

The exact nature of the emergency has not yet been confirmed but it is reportedly a depressurization issue.

Customs agents are being brought in.

Abilene fire and emergency personnel have been called in.

We are at the scene and will have more information as it becomes available.

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

Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain, Maui Island Air, N483VA: Accident occurred February 26, 2014 in Lanai City, Hawaii

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA124 
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Wednesday, February 26, 2014 in Lanai City, HI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/21/2015
Aircraft: PIPER PA31, registration: N483VA
Injuries: 3 Fatal, 3 Serious.

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

The airplane departed during dark (moonless) night conditions over remote terrain with few ground-based light sources to provide visual cues. Weather reports indicated strong gusting wind from the northeast. According to a surviving passenger, shortly after takeoff, the pilot started a right turn; the bank angle continued to increase, and the airplane impacted terrain in a steep right bank. The accident site was about 1 mile from the airport at a location consistent with the airplane departing to the northeast and turning right about 180 degrees before ground impact. The operator’s chief pilot reported that the pilot likely turned right after takeoff to fly direct to the navigational aid located southwest of the airport in order to escape the terrain-induced turbulence (downdrafts) near the mountain range northeast of the airport. Examination of the airplane wreckage revealed damage and ground scars consistent with a high-energy, low-angle impact during a right turn. No evidence was found of preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. It is likely that the pilot became spatially disoriented during the right turn. Although visual meteorological conditions prevailed, no natural horizon and few external visual references were available during the departure. This increased the importance for the pilot to monitor the airplane’s flight instruments to maintain awareness of its attitude and altitude. During the turn, the pilot was likely performing the additional task of engaging the autopilot, which was located on the center console below the throttle quadrant. The combination of conducting a turn with few visual references in gusting wind conditions while engaging the autopilot left the pilot vulnerable to visual and vestibular illusions and reduced his awareness of the airplane’s attitude, altitude, and trajectory. Based on toxicology findings, the pilot most likely had symptoms of an upper respiratory infection but the investigation was unable to determine what effects these symptoms may have had on his performance. A therapeutic level of doxylamine, a sedating antihistamine, was detected, and impairment by doxylamine most likely contributed to the development of spatial disorientation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s spatial disorientation while turning during flight in dark night conditions and terrain-induced turbulence, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s impairment from a sedating antihistamine.


On February 26, 2014, about 2130 Hawaii standard time, a Piper PA-31-350, N483VA, collided with terrain shortly after departure from the Lanai Airport (PHNY), Lanai City, Hawaii. The commercial pilot and two passengers were fatally injured, and three other passengers were seriously injured. The airplane was substantially damaged and was partially consumed by postimpact fire. The airplane was registered to Maui Aircraft Leasing, LLC, and operated by Maui Island Air under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 on demand air taxi flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on a visual flight rules flight plan. The flight had a planned destination of Kahului Airport, Kahului, Hawaii.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) interviewed one of the survivors 6 days after the accident. The survivor reported that after the airplane departed the runway, he could see the lights of Lanai City and the Big Dipper star constellation off the left side of the airplane as it started its right banking turn. As he pointed out the constellation to the passenger seated to his right, he felt the sensation of G-loading in his seat. Shortly after, he said simultaneously his legs were forced towards the left side of the airplane and his upper body towards the isle. While trying to regain his position, he said he looked up, and saw the pilot leaning his upper body towards the right; it appeared that he was looking to the right, as if out the forward right cabin window. He said the airplane was in a steep right bank when he saw the ground impact the forward side of the airplane. He recalls that there was no realization that there was an emergency situation and that he had flown rougher [turbulent] flights before in this airplane.


A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records revealed that the 66-year-old-pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane multiengine land and instrument airplane, and private privileges for airplane single-engine land. His second-class medical certificate was issued in March of 2013, with the limitation that he must wear corrective lenses for near and distant vision.

According to the pilot's last medical application, the pilot reported a total flight experience of 4,570 total hours, and 1 hour in the last six months.

The passengers onboard were Maui County employees on a business trip.


The 10-seat, low-wing, retractable-gear airplane, serial number 31-7552124, was manufactured in 1975. It was powered by Lycoming model TIO-540-J2BD and LTIO-540-J2BD engines. The airplane was also equipped with Hartzell model HC-E3YR-2ALTF and HC-E3YR-2ATF constant speed propellers. The airplane was on an FAA Approved Aircraft Inspection Program (AAIP). Review of the maintenance logbook records showed an inspection [event inspection number #3] was completed December 1, 2013, at a total airplane time of 12,172.4 hours. A total airplane time at the accident site was undetermined due to damage.

Fueling records at Air Service Hawaii established that the airplane was last fueled on February 26, 2014, at 1559, with the addition of 27 gallons of 100LL-octane aviation fuel.


A review of recorded data from PHNY, automated weather observation station revealed at 2056 conditions were wind 050 degrees at 21 knots, with gusts to 25 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear sky, temperature 18 degrees C, dew point 16 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.03 inches of mercury.

According to the Astronomical Applications Department at the United States Naval Observatory, the official moonset was at 1611, and the official end of civil twilight was at 1853. The phase of the moon on the day of the accident was waning crescent, with 9 percent of the moon's visible disk illuminated.


A VFR flight plan was filed, and no ATC communications took place.


The FAA Digital Airport/Facility Directory indicated that PHNY Airport had an Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS), which broadcast on frequency 118.375.

The FAA Digital Airport/Facility Directory indicated that runway 03 was 5,001 feet long, 150 feet wide, and the runway surface was asphalt. The airport has an instrument landing system (ILS), and distance measuring equipment (DME) instrument approaches.


An initial examination of the accident site by the IIC, revealed that the airplane impacted terrain southeast of the airport, about 1 mile perpendicular to the arrival end of runway 03. The debris field was about a 640-foot-long, and stretched from the first identified point contact (FIPC) to an engine component near the main wreckage. The FIPC was a ground scar that stretched about 160-feet-in-length and about 1-foot in width. Charring vegetation was observed about 100 feet down the ground scar from the FIPC, and fanned out on either side of the debris path for about 260 feet; it was about 50 feet in width at its widest point. The majority of the wreckage debris was found in the last 2/3 of the debris field. The main wreckage was mostly consumed by postimpact fire. Both wings separated from the main wreckage outboard of the engine nacelles. The tail section including the left and right side elevators; the rudder surface and vertical stabilator remained attached to the empennage.

A follow-up examination of the accident site was conducted on May 13, 2014, due to additional ground scars found in an aerial photograph of the accident site. During the follow-up examination, an FAA inspector and the IIC found the additional ground scar, which was about 360 feet in length about 270 feet, east-northeast from the original FIPC and was consistent with a right wing impact. Wing tip fairing sections and wing tip light assembly components were found near the mid-section of the ground scar. A plexiglas light cover was found near the east-north east end of the ground scar. The debris field had a total length of 1,270 feet with a magnetic heading of 250 degrees. See the Wreckage Diagram in the docket of this accident for further information.

The examination of the recovered airframe and flight control system components revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction. Examination of the engines and propellers revealed that they separated from their nacelles with sections of the engine mounting assembly bent and attached. The propellers remained attached to the engines. Examination of both recovered engines and system components revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

The attitude indicator was found onsite after the initial examination of the accident site. An examination of the recovered attitude indicator revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. The attitude indicator had minor damage to its housing, and the instrument face indication would not move freely when the instrument was tumbled by hand. The instrument was disassembled, and the gyro and surrounding housing revealed no mechanical rubbing.


An autopsy of the pilot was conducted by the Maui Memorial Medical Center, Wailuku, Hawaii. According to the autopsy report, the cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries sustained in an aircraft crash.

Toxicology testing was performed at the request of the coroner by NMS laboratories identified caffeine, dextromethorphan and its metabolite dextrorphan, pseudoephedrine and its metabolite norpseudoephedrine, as well as doxylamine in the pilot's blood.

Toxicology testing was also performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report was negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol. The toxicology report identified dextromethorphan, its metabolite dextrorphan, pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, trimethoprim, doxylamine, and montelukast in blood and liver.

Review of the FAA medical certification file, autopsy report and toxicology tests, was conducted by the NTSB Medical Officer. Documents revealed that the pilot reported to the FAA that he had hay fever and childhood asthma. At the time of the accident, the pilot's medical certificate was limited by the need for corrective lenses. Mild enlargement of the heart and mild coronary artery disease was identified on autopsy. Postaccident toxicology testing in two laboratories identified caffeine, dextromethorphan and its metabolite dextrorphan, pseudoephedrine and its metabolite norpseudoephedrine, ephedrine, trimethoprim, doxylamine, and montelukast. The doxylamine was quantified at 120 and 62 ng/ml in the two laboratories.

For further information, see the Medical Factual Report within the public docket for this accident.


Spatial Disorientation

According to the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3), "Night flying is very different from day flying and demands more attention of the pilot. The most noticeable difference is the limited availability of outside visual references. Therefore, flight instruments should be used to a greater degree.… Generally, at night it is difficult to see clouds and restrictions to visibility, particularly on dark nights or under overcast. The pilot flying under VFR must exercise caution to avoid flying into clouds or a layer of fog." The handbook described some hazards associated with flying in airplanes under VFR when visual references, such as the ground or horizon, are obscured. "The vestibular sense (motion sensing by the inner ear) in particular tends to confuse the pilot. Because of inertia, the sensory areas of the inner ear cannot detect slight changes in the attitude of the airplane, nor can they accurately sense attitude changes that occur at a uniform rate over a period of time. On the other hand, false sensations are often generated; leading the pilot to believe the attitude of the airplane has changed when in fact, it has not. These false sensations result in the pilot experiencing spatial disorientation."

According to the FAA Instrument Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-15), a rapid acceleration "...stimulates the otolith organs in the same way as tilting the head backwards. This action creates the somatogravic illusion of being in a nose-up attitude, especially in situations without good visual references. The disoriented pilot may push the aircraft into a nose-low or dive attitude." The FAA publication Medical Facts for Pilots (AM-400-03/1), described several vestibular illusions associated with the operation of aircraft in low visibility conditions. Somatogyral illusions, those involving the semicircular canals of the vestibular system, were generally placed into one of four categories, one of which was the "graveyard spiral." According to the text, the graveyard spiral, "…is associated with a return to level flight following an intentional or unintentional prolonged bank turn. For example, a pilot who enters a banking turn to the left will initially have a sensation of a turn in the same direction. If the left turn continues (~20 seconds or more), the pilot will experience the sensation that the airplane is no longer turning to the left. At this point, if the pilot attempts to level the wings this action will produce a sensation that the airplane is turning and banking in the opposite direction (to the right). If the pilot believes the illusion of a right turn (which can be very compelling), he/she will reenter the original left turn in an attempt to counteract the sensation of a right turn. Unfortunately, while this is happening, the airplane is still turning to the left and losing altitude. Pulling the control yoke/stick and applying power while turning would not be a good idea–because it would only make the left turn tighter. If the pilot fails to recognize the illusion and does not level the wings, the airplane will continue turning left and losing altitude until it impacts the ground."


During a conversation with the NTSB IIC, the Chief Pilot of Maui Island Air reported that when they normally depart from runway 3 at PHNY, "it's like flying into a black hole" with no distant lights for situational awareness. He thought that the airplane could have hit down drafts off the mountain north of the airport during the right turn, and more than likely the pilot would have gone direct to the VHF omni directional radio range and a tactical air navigation system (VORTAC) located 1.6 miles southwest of the PHNY to escape the downdrafts. He stated that he would normally engage the autopilot once the airplane was established at 3,500 feet mean sea level (msl). He explained by leaning slightly to the right and reaching down with his right hand where the autopilot would be located as if positioned in the pilot seat. The autopilot unit is located below the throttle quadrant.

The County of Maui has established a memorial fund for the victims and families of a fatal Lāna‘i plane crash in February that claimed the lives of three individuals and left three others injured, county officials announced today.

The “Maui County Remembers” fund was established by Pūlama Lāna‘i to provide financial assistance to the families of those who perished or were injured in the Feb. 26, 2014, incident.

Pūlama Lāna‘i Chief Operating Officer Kurt Matsumoto issued a statement today saying, “Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones and those who were injured in this tragic accident. This fund was created to aid the victims and their families during this difficult time of recovery and healing.”

County officials say all funds will be allocated to assist crash victims and their families.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa also expressed gratitude for Pūlama Lāna‘i’s assistance and the “outpouring of support” for the victims’ families. He credited Pūlama Lāna‘i for facilitating the process to provide direct financial support to those affected by the tragedy.

Donation checks should be made payable to “Maui County Remembers,” with donations being accepted at any Bank of Hawaiʻi branch.

Online donations are being accepted through May 31, 2014 with any major credit card or PayPal here.

Source:  http://mauinow.com 

Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA124 
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Wednesday, February 26, 2014 in Lanai City, HI
Aircraft: PIPER PA 31-350, registration: N483VA
Injuries: 3 Fatal,3 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On February 26, 2014, about 2130 Hawaii standard time, a Piper PA-31-350, N483VA, collided with terrain shortly after departure from the Lanai Airport, Lanai City, Hawaii. The certified commercial pilot and two passengers were fatally injured and three other passengers were seriously injured. The airplane was substantially damaged and was partially consumed by postimpact fire. The airplane was registered to Maui Aircraft Leasing, LLC and operated by Maui Island Air under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 on demand air taxi flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on a visual flight rules flight plan. The flight had a planned destination of Kahului Airport, Kahului, Hawaii.

An initial examination of the accident site by the National Transportation Safety Board, investigator-in-charge, revealed about a 640-foot-long debris field that stretched from the first identified point of contact (FIPC) to an engine component near the main wreckage. The FIPC was a ground scar that stretched about 160-feet-in-length and about 1-foot in width. Charring vegetation was observed about 100 feet down the ground scar from the FIPC and fanned out on either side of the debris path for about 260 feet; it was about 50 feet in width at its widest point. The majority of the wreckage debris was found in the last 2/3 of the debris field. The main wreckage was mostly consumed by postimpact fire.

The airplane was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

Eagle County, Colorado, aviators honor Allan Nottingham

Photo Courtesy/Credit:  VailDaily  
Allan Nottingham bought this 1954 Cessna 180 in 1964. He owned it for more than 50 years.

EAGLE — Allan Nottingham has been part of Eagle County aviation almost since, well ... before the beginning. 

The Eagle County Aviation Association honored Nottingham for his time, his service and the laughs.

“Allan has been buying fuel for getting annuals for ... I don’t know how many years,” Paul Gordon with the Vail Valley Jet Center.

Here’s what we know about dates. In 1964, Nottingham bought a 1954 Cessna 180 and flew it all over our spiral arm of the universe. He owned it for 50 years. That plane taught four of his five children to fly.

The airport was built during World War II as a refueling station for cross country military flights. Nottingham remembers, as a kid, standing in the middle of the grass airstrip as planes landed. A B-24 might have crashed back then. Or not. It might have just landed, refueled and taken off again. Or it might still be a military secret. Allan just smiles.

Not long ago, he sold his hangar and plane. He watched that plane taxi onto the runway and fly away with its new owner, and legend has it that a tear might have come to his eye. Not true— that was just excess awesomeness leaking out.

Flying tall tales

All kinds of stories fly around at an event like this, mostly about hilarious near-death experiences. But let’s be clear: You don’t get to live as long as Allan has if you fly reckless; he’s a skilled and careful pilot. But once in a while, stuff just happens.

Steve Jones flew with him often. It’s a matter of friendly contention whether Jones likes flying so much that he bought his own plane, or whether he was so scared he bought his own plane. Nottingham and Jones just smile when you ask them.

There was the time in the early 1960s when Allan had some 80 sheep stranded on Red and White Mountain after a series December snowstorms dumped about four feet of snow. Nottingham and Fred Collett were flying some hay to them — two bales because that’s all Nottingham’s plane would hold. Collett sat in the back and kicking hay out to the sheep. Did we mention that to get the hay in and out, Allan had to take the door off the plane? That would explain why, when his foot slipped, Collett almost fell out.

Photographer Mike Crabtree enjoyed a similar sensation. He needed a better angle for an aerial photo, so Nottingham tilted the plane to give him one. That was the end of taking the door off the plane.

There was the time when one of his passengers got airsick and the only receptacle was Nottingham’s cowboy hat. When they landed, the guy tried to give it back to Nottingham.

Like most guys, Nottingham used to think that the “E” on the gas gauge stands for “Eeeh, just a little further.” His plane holds 55 gallons of fuel and there was the time it took 53 gallons to fill it. He’d been debating whether to fly on to the next airport, but decided to land instead.

Cloud seeding with Minnie Cloud

Perhaps the Southern Utes made it snow with their 1963 snow dance in Vail. Perhaps they had some help.

It was just before the ski season of 1963-64 when Vail Associates hired the Southern Ute tribe to do a snow dance.

For good measure, they also hired a guy to take the ski company’s first crack at cloud seeding.

The cloud seeding guy’s name is lost to the winds of time — so we’ll call him Cloud Seed Clem. But everyone still knows Nottingham.

The Nottingham ranch covered what’s now most of Beaver Creek and part of Avon. You’ve strolled through Avon’s Nottingham Park and watched fireworks over Nottingham Lake. It’s those guys.

Anyway, like lots of ranchers, Nottingham had his own airplane so he could fly around and keep track of his livestock, and also because flying is fun.

Cloud Seed Clem hired Nottingham to fly him around the area. When clouds started rolling in, and they weren’t too high — the clouds, not Allan and Clem — up they’d go.

“We flew over all the ski areas and he’d dump out this stuff,” Nottingham said.

Cloud seeding is an attempt to squeeze more moisture out of a cloud. Stuff like silver iodide is either lofted up into or dropped down into a cloud. Moisture collects around the silver iodide, and you can squeeze more water out of that cloud than you’d get without it.

Silver iodide is mostly salt, which is another reason Allan was ahead of his time.

One day the clouds were too high and it was a bad day for cloud seeding, but a good day to fly. And besides, Allan’s contract called for him to fly.

Only he didn’t have any of the cloud seeding stuff.

So he took off with a couple boxes of Morton salt, flew around and dumped the salt into the clouds.

About that same time the Southern Utes rolled into town, led by Eddie Box and Minnie Cloud. It was mid-December 1963 and Vail was devoid of snow.

On Dec. 18, 1963, after Nottingham dumped two boxes of Morton salt into the clouds and the Southern Utes did their snow dance, it snowed.

Two feet.

Story and photo gallery:   http://www.vaildaily.com

Tracking system nabbing drug dealers and law-abiding pilots: A Customs and Border Protection tracking system is snaring many more law-abiding private pilots, who claim federal officers are searching their planes without legal justification

Ken Dobson, a retired police officer, sits in his single-engine Cessna at Bermuda Dunes Airport in California. He was detained and his plane searched by federal agents -- without legal justification -- after he landed at a small airport in Detroit. Instead of uncovering a drug cache, the officials found luggage, golf clubs and an empty Thermos. 
(Gina Ferazzi, Los Angeles Times)

Ken Dobson, a retired police officer, said he received quite a welcome when he landed his single-engine Cessna in Detroit two days after leaving his home in Palm Desert. 

Five sheriff's cars surrounded the plane and deputies got out with guns drawn. Then a helicopter arrived with four federal agents and a drug-sniffing dog.

They demanded to see Dobson's pilot's license, asked about the flight and mentioned that his long trip from Southern California was suspicious.

Fearing he would lose his flight credentials if he didn't cooperate, Dobson consented to a search of his plane. But instead of uncovering a trophy-shot cache of pot or cocaine, the officers found luggage, golf clubs and an empty Thermos.

"To investigate an innocuous concern like my flight was mystifying to me," said Dobson, who flew to Detroit to visit relatives. "My wife and I travel long distances in our car to Michigan. That alone does not give the police the right to stop me, question me and search my car."

Dobson's Cessna was picked up by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection tracking system in Riverside that uses an extensive radar network to monitor flights across the nation.

Casting such a wide net has helped authorities apprehend dozens of drug smugglers. But the operation also is snaring many more law-abiding private pilots, who say federal officers working with local police are detaining them and searching their planes without legal justification.

The situation has attracted the attention of national organizations that represent about 570,000 pilots and 10,000 aviation-related businesses. Between them, the groups have logged complaints from 50 to 70 pilots whose flights were entirely within the U.S. All were let go, some with apologies.

Those pilots included business owners, retirees, a real estate financier who was detained twice in one trip, a university professor whose car — after leaving an airport — was surrounded by dozens of officers. Even retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Hank Canterbury was tracked.

Canterbury, a fighter pilot in Vietnam who now lives in Arizona, said he was stunned to learn that federal officers had inquired about him at a Texas airport where he landed.

During the last three years and five months ending in February, the tracking operation investigated 1,375 flights. Of those, authorities intercepted 212 at airports and made 39 drug-related arrests. An additional eight were referred to the Federal Aviation Administration for possible regulatory enforcement.

Officials of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assn. have taken their concerns to members of Congress, including Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). Wanting to ensure that federal law enforcement is complying with constitutional protections against unwarranted searches and seizures, they have asked Customs and Border Protection for an explanation.

"There is no evidence of any criminal activity in the AOPA incidents," Graves said. "If law enforcement is screwing this up, they have done a huge disservice to the public. An erratic flight, a long flight or not filing a flight plan is not probable cause" to stop pilots.

Customs and Border Protection officials defend their tracking operation, saying it plays an important role in the war on drugs and protecting national security, especially since 9/11.

They say drug smugglers often rely on aircraft, and that in two acts of domestic terrorism since 2002, pilots rammed small planes into buildings, including an IRS office in Texas.

Agency officials say they dispatch officers to check flights and detain pilots based on a legal standard known as reasonable suspicion, which can be deduced from a series of facts that suggest the possibility of wrongdoing.

Planes are not searched, they say, unless pilots consent or officers have warrants based on probable cause; that is, enough evidence to indicate a crime has probably occurred. Warrants are not required for searches at the border or if evidence is in plain view, people are in imminent danger or evidence faces immediate destruction.

Determining what flights to intercept starts at the Air and Marine Operations Center at the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside. Able to tap 700 radar installations in the U.S. and neighboring countries, the center can track up to 50,000 aircraft and ships at any time.

Staff members scrutinize thousands of flights each day looking for what they consider abnormalities. Usually, one or two aircraft warrant further investigation. Out of those, only one every few days is checked out at airports by federal and local authorities.

During the initial review, trackers consider such things as aircraft type, routes, altitudes, flight distances, where flights originate, whether flight plans are filed, the use of small airports and the identities of pilots, passengers and registered owners. Tips from confidential sources also are important.

Constitutional law and civil rights attorneys say, however, that detentions of private pilots and searches of their aircraft can raise 4th Amendment issues. The amendment forbids unreasonable searches and seizures.

In drug-smuggling cases, lower courts have both thrown out and upheld the causes used by federal law enforcement to stop and search airplanes. But there are no U.S. Supreme Court decisions related to aircraft, said Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law expert and dean of the UC Irvine law school.

Because the high court has given police some latitude to search cars during a legitimate vehicle stop, Chemerinsky said justices might grant similar leeway for aircraft searches if such a case came before them.

Though customs officials contend their results are reasonable, pilot association officials say arrests occurred in only 18.3% of the stops and about 3% of all the flights scrutinized.

Two AOPA pilots, one from California and one from Louisiana, said their hotel rooms were searched without warrants. Still others reported that they were confronted at gunpoint by authorities wearing SWAT gear and that officers who were not trained mechanics removed aircraft panels and engine cowlings during searches, raising safety concerns.

Other pilots said they were told their flights were intercepted because of long travel distances, frequent course changes, landings at remote airports and questionable profiles such as flying east from California — all things they considered common occurrences in general aviation.

"It's supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, but here we have Big Brother watching," said AOPA President Mark Baker. "The number of arrests are laughable for all the work they do. This looks like an agency in search of a mission."

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