Saturday, May 24, 2014

Glasair: Buchanan Field Airport (KCCR), Concord, California

CONCORD (KRON) — A  Glasair plane made an emergency landing at Buchanan Field Airport in Concord Saturday evening, according to an FAA official.

The official said the plane made an emergency landing at 7:37 pm due to a landing gear problem. The plane had originally taken off from Buchanan Field Airport.

The pilot on board the plane was not injured.

Stay tuned to KRON 4 News and for developing information.

UPDATE: Plane Crash at Buchanan Field Airport in Concord

A plane crash has been reported at Buchanan Field Airport in Concord, according to the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

First responders are currently on their way to the scene.

No more details are available at this time.

Stay tuned for updates.

UPDATE, 7:47pm: Plane is down on the side of the runway. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

Story, photos and comments:

Big Pool, Washington County, Maryland

Witnesses Report Plane Crash; Officials Find No Evidence of Accident

BIG POOL, Md. - Crews searched for a reported plane crash at Fort Frederick State Park in Big Pool Saturday.

Crews in Washington County, Maryland responded to the scene after a driver on Interstate 70 said they saw a small plane dip down into the river at the park and then saw smoke appear.

A helicopter was called in to investigate, as well as a water rescue crew.

After about an hour of searching, crews were unable to find anything related to a plane crash.

"Nothing was found. Some of the officers and local individuals, they know the plane that they saw. He [the piliot] does from time to time, and they figured he went below the horizon. Somebody on the interstate called, and at that time we got called. Basically its a good intent call," said Sgt. Walter May, with the Natural Resource Police.

Nobody was injured, and officials say the plane did not crash.


Crews search for possible plane crash near Big Pool, come up empty

A search by emergency crews in Washington County and Berkeley and Morgan counties in West Virginia came up empty after a motorist on Interstate 70 reported a possible plane crash Saturday afternoon near Big Pool, according to Washington County Emergency Communications.

The call came in at 12:08 p.m. from a person who reported seeing a low-flying aircraft go behind a treeline and also seeing a column of smoke, a 911 dispatcher said.

Firefighters from Clear Spring, Hancock, Williamsport and Maugansville joined the search, and crews from Morgan and Berkeley counties searched south of the Potomac River, the dispatcher said.

A Clear Spring ambulance and Washington County Special Operations also took part in the search before it was called off at 1:17 p.m., the dispatcher said.


Fred Lark's salute to Frank Bass, the Flying Auctioneer

The phrase and the chant became the signature of one of the most unique and successful auctioneers in the Rocky Montana West …’Montana’s Flying Auctioneer’, FRANK BASS

A courageous man that did not and would not let any physical challenges that confronted him stop his passion and purpose….Auctioneering and Aviation-Flying his own Mooney aircraft.

The phrase "TAKE IT AWAY FRANK" was the familiar start of any FRANK BASS AUCTION,  “the chant” like no other auctioneer  gained everyone’s attention .….the public was always anxious to participate and be entertained at the same time.

Simply stated, a World Class Auctioneer, Aircraft Owner and Pilot, a successful business man.  A loyal friend, great Dad,  loving and caring husband and one of the most positive minded men that would not allow any barriers to get his way.

FRANK’S auction chant will continue to echo though out the territory and you can rest assured he will continue to have FRANK BASS AUCTIONS in the heavens above…….

And, the words will continue to ring in spirit…..

Frank E. Bass

Frank E. Bass 
(July 30, 1931 - May 21, 2014)
Frank E. Bass, “Montana’s Flying Auctioneer” born July 30, 1931 in Tolley North Dakota passed away on May 21, 2014 after a battle with cancer.

Frank was raised and worked on his parents Fred and Lillian Bass’s farm. At the age of 16 he began his life-long passion for flying airplanes, which could have been cut short by an airplane accident that cost him both his legs below his knees. While most would have not ventured back into a plane, Frank learned how to fly again and learned mechanics at Wahpeton School of Science and then logged over 16,000 hours and countless awards in the aviation industry. A charter member of both the Great Falls Hangar and the Central Montana Hangar, a member of the Montana Pilot’s Association since 1958, the recipient of the Master Pilot Award in 2006 for recognition of 50 years of non-incident flying. Most recently he was acknowledge by the Montana Pilots Association for the Bill Mathews award for successful flying while overcoming a handicap, although Frank would never accept the fact that he had a handicap.

His flying involved many mercy missions for medical patients, always willing to provide a ride. He loved to share his passion for flying with anyone and everyone. He was always willing to provide air taxi service to anyone needing a ride and has flown such notables as entertainer Red Foley and his wife.

Frank moved to Central Montana in 1958 and attended the Western School of Auctioneering and started Bass Auction Company in Lewistown in that year. Frank worked hard to develop the company into the largest auction business in the State of Montana, often times logging over 100 auctions a year. The auction business was a family affair with Colie and Curt joining Frank behind the microphone and Deedee running tickets and helped in the business office. No family member was left out as the rest of the family all pitched in where needed. A local favorite was the Thursday night auctions at the Bass Auction Barn where a packed house would bring “merchandise” to buy and sell, much like the modern day e-bay. Bass Auction was very active in the community and performed countless benefit auctions including the annual 4th of July cake auction where it is legend that one year Frank sold a cake for $750.00. Auctioneering was Frank’s passion and even into retirement, it would not take much coaxing to get him to demonstrate his auction chant.

In 1964 Frank started the Bass Mooney Aircraft company selling “the best airplane – Mooney”. He sold the FBO in 1971 and it operates to this day.

Frank moved to the Beacon Star Ranch on the Crystal Lake road in 1975, and transformed 160 acres into 3 runways, a hanger to house over 6 airplanes. Life at Beacon Star offered a special gathering spot with fellow flyers dropping in for impromptu visits and fly-in’s featuring airplanes of every vintage and style. Annual Father’s Day fly-ins drew hundreds of visitors including the years Governor Judy Marks helped flip pancakes for the hungry crowds.

Frank was a mechanical artist. He found broken down piles of yesterday’s tractors and brought them back to life with the knowledge, experience, and passion of an artist.

Frank was never at a loss for words and talked proudly of his belief in Country, his love for Patty, his fondness for John Deere, Merle Haggard, John Wayne and anything conservative.

Frank was preceded in death by his parents, Fred and Lillian Bass, his brother, LaVern (Rose) and a grandson, Joey Wyatt.

Frank leaves behind his wife of 20 years, Pat; his children Barbara (Jerry), Colie (Dorinda), Curt (Michelle), Jeff and Tyler Bass and his blended family to include Steve, Matt and Mark Buck, their sister Diane (Deedee) and Jody d’Autremont (John), Jay Gordon, Jon Gordon (Roxanne) plus many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Frank is truly now the Flying Auctioneer.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held Saturday, May 24, 11:00 a.m. at Zion Lutheran Church. Inurnment follows at Lewistown City Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Hospice of Central Montana, 408 Wendell Ave., Lewistown, MT 59457.

Frank’s family and friends may express condolences at Service and cremation arrangements are under the care of Creel Funeral Home.

Progressive Aerodyne Searey LSX, N249PW: Fatal accident occurred May 24, 2014 in Electric City, Washington

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA209 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 24, 2014 in Electric City, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/09/2016
Aircraft: KENNETH A BERGER SEAREY LSX, registration: N249PW
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

According to witnesses, the private pilot of the experimental, amateur-built, high-wing, amphibious airplane was attempting to take off from the lake, which was choppy due to numerous boat wakes. Witnesses reported that the airplane started a high-speed run but that the engine then throttled back, and the airplane turned toward the beach. The airplane then abruptly turned 180 degrees and started another high-speed run. While on the step for the final takeoff attempt, the airplane encountered a boat wake, bounced 4 to 5 ft, and then abruptly nosed down into the lake. The airplane came to an abrupt stop with a 20- to 30-ft-high splash. When witnesses arrived in their boats, the airplane’s high wings were level with the water’s surface, and the aft-facing, pylon-mounted engine was still running. Swimmers entered the water and recovered the pilot from the submerged cabin. Shortly thereafter, the airplane sank. The submerged airplane could not be located during a subsequent search by local law enforcement, and the wreckage was not recovered. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s failure to maintain pitch control during takeoff after encountering a boat wake, which resulted in the airplane bouncing, impacting the water’s surface, and subsequently becoming submerged. 


On May 24, 2014 about 1650 Pacific daylight time, an experimental, amateur built, Searey LSX amphibious airplane, N249PW, sustained substantial damage during takeoff at Banks Lake, about 5 miles southwest of Electric City, Washington. The airplane was owned and being operated by the pilot as a visual flight rules personal cross-country flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and the solo pilot received fatal injuries. The airplane was departing Banks Lake bound for Lake Washington, near Seattle, Washington.

On May 25, witnesses at Banks Lake told the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) that the airplane had arrived at Banks Lake on Thursday, May 22. After landing the pilot had lowered the land wheels with the intent to taxi the airplane on to a beach. Approaching the beach the left main landing gear wheel struck a submerged berm damaging the landing gear and its supporting structure. The pilot, who was authorized to perform maintenance on the airplane, spent the next several days making temporary repairs, which included tying the damaged left landing gear leg, up to the left wing lift strut, and repairing a leaking through hull boot with tape. 

After completing the repairs, the pilot attempted to takeoff from the lake.

On May 26, an additional witness told the NTSB IIC that he was on the lake fishing from his boat, when he heard and saw the airplane attempt to takeoff. He said the airplane started a high speed run but then the engine throttled back and the airplane turned toward the beach; as if returning to the beach. Then the airplane abruptly turned 180 degrees and started another high speed run. He said the water was choppy with the addition of numerous boat wakes. He said he thought the airplane was going 40-50 miles per hour when it encountered boat wake, the airplane bounced 4-5 feet in the air and then abruptly nosed down into the lake. The airplane came to an abrupt stop with a 20-30 foot high splash. The witness headed his boat toward the airplane. When he arrived the airplane's high wings were level with the surface of the water, and the pylon mounted engine was still running. Another boat had arrived prior to his, and swimmers were in the water attempting to recover the pilot from the submerged cabin. 


The 60 year old pilot held a Private Pilot Certificate with ratings for; Airplane Single Engine Land, Airplane Single Engine Sea, Instrument Airplane, and Repairman Experimental Aircraft Builder. No personal flight logbooks were discovered for the pilot, and the aeronautical experience listed was obtained from a review of the pilot's FAA records on file at the Airman and Medical Records Center in Oklahoma City.

During his last FAA medical examination dated 7/18/2013 the pilot reported his flight experience included 861.3 total hours of flight experience, with 15.1 hours having been flown within the previous 6 months. The pilot was issued a Class 3, Limited Medical Certificate, with the stipulation that he must wear corrective lenses for near and distant vision.


The airplane was an experimental amateur-built, tailwheel-equipped, high wing, amphibious Searey LSX, with a full flotation hull and retractable main landing gear. The airplane was powered by an aft-facing, pylon mounted Rotax 914 series engine, with a three-bladed composite pusher propeller. 

No Airframe or engine logbooks were discovered for examination. 


The weather at the time of the accident was above basic visual flight rules minimums, and not considered a factor in this accident.


A pilot friend, and a family member of the pilot, were observing the takeoff from a beach at the lake, and were in communication with the pilot via a handheld aviation communication radio. Their last communication with the pilot was to inform him that the airplane looked lower in the water than usual, and requested him to return to the beach. The airplane then turned toward the beach and appeared to be returning at a normal water taxi speed. Without further radio communication, the airplane abruptly turned away from the beach, added takeoff power, and made the final takeoff attempt. 


The airplane was observed and photographed by witnesses (boaters) before, during, and after the accident. The only wreckage of the airplane recovered from the lake was a section about 6 feet long, and 4 feet wide. The section was of the composite hull bottom, from the aft hull-step forward, and appeared to have separated along the bottom to side joint.

Photographs provided to the NTSB IIC by witnesses included, preaccident photos of the airplane at the beach undergoing repairs from the previous water taxi damage, a photograph of the airplane on the step during the final takeoff attempt, and a photograph of the airplane after impact with the water. In the final photograph the airplane is shown upright, with the high wings laying on the surface of the water, and the cabin area was submerged. The engine appeared intact and in place on the engine pylon. Witnesses reported that the engine was still running as boats approached following the accident. The elevator, vertical stabilizer and rudder appeared intact. 

Swimmers cut the submerged pilot free from his harness and brought him to the surface, where he was placed in a boat and taken to a boat ramp where medical help was waiting. 

Shortly thereafter the airplane sank in about 50 feet deep water. A subsequent search by local law enforcement using boats and divers, was unable to locate the submerged airplane. The airplane wreckage was not recovered from the lake. 


A postmortem examination of the pilot was performed under the authority of the Grant County Coroner, Moses Lake Washington, on May 2014. The examination determined that the cause of death was attributed to fresh water drowning, a significant finding was blunt force head trauma, and the manner of death was an accident. 

Toxicology was performed at the Mike Monroney Aeromedical Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on July 1, 2014. No evidence of drugs or other abnormalities were noted.


NTSB Identification: WPR14FA209
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 24, 2014 in Electric City, WA
Aircraft: KENNETH A BERGER SEAREY LSX, registration: N249PW
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

On May 24, 2014 about 1650 Pacific daylight time, an experimental, amateur built, Searey LSX amphibious airplane, N249PW, sustained substantial damage during takeoff at Banks Lake, about 5 miles southwest of Electric City, Washington. The airplane was owned and being operated by the pilot as a visual flight rules personal cross-country flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and the solo pilot received fatal injuries. The airplane was departing Banks Lake for Lake Washington, near Seattle, Washington.

A witness told the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) that the airplane had arrived at Banks Lake on Thursday, May 22. After landing on the lake, the pilot had lowered the land wheels with the intent to taxi the airplane on to a beach. Approaching the beach the left main landing gear struck a submerged berm damaging the landing gear and its supporting structure. The pilot who was authorized to work on the airplane spent the next several days making repairs to the airplane.

Another witness told the NTSB IIC that he was on the lake fishing from his boat, when he heard and saw the airplane attempt to takeoff. He said the airplane started a high speed run but then the engine throttled back and the airplane turned toward the beach as if returning to the beach. Then the airplane abruptly turned 180 degrees and started another high speed run. He said the water was choppy with the addition of numerous boat wakes. He said he thought the airplane was going 40-50 miles per hour when it encountered boat wake. The airplane may have bounced 4-5 feet in the air and then abruptly nosed down into the lake. The airplane came to an abrupt stop with a 20-30 foot high splash. He headed his boat toward the airplane. When he arrived the airplane's high wings were level with the surface of the water, and the pylon mounted engine was still running. Another boat had arrived prior to his and swimmers were in the water attempting to recover the pilot.

After recovery, the pilot was taken to a boat ramp where an ambulance was waiting.

Shortly thereafter the airplane sank in about 50 feet of water. The only part of the airplane recovered was an approximately 6 foot long section of the cabin hull bottom, from the aft hull-step forward.

Further examination of the airplane is pending, subsequent to its recovery from the lake.


Ken Berger with his SeaRey, a plane he built from a kit, taken last December. Berger died in an accident in the same plane Saturday on Banks Lake in Eastern Washington. He was 60.

Monroe attorney and former long-time city councilman Kenneth Berger, 60, died the afternoon of Saturday, May 24, during a failed takeoff in an amphibious plane from the surface of Banks Lake in Eastern Washington.

Witnesses say the plane, a two-seat SeaRey LSX he built himself from a kit last year, attempted to take off and cleared the surface of the water before crashing back in nose first.

Nearby boaters dove to try to save his life and managed to get him out of his seat belt but CPR was not successful. He had been submerged about seven minutes.

A friend told press that Berger had flown with his wife to stay at Steamboat Rock State Park. He was alone in the plane when it crashed.

Ken Berger was an influential person in Monroe, a man whose small stature and quiet mannerisms belied an adventurous nature, a widely varied set of interests, and a taste for city politics.

As owner of printing company Calico Press and as a practicing attorney in Monroe, Ken Berger was first elected to the Monroe City Council in 1989 and was re-elected four times.

Parks were top among his priorities, and he was instrumental in the creation of the park at Lake Tye.

Berger stepped down following a PDC fine against him, at the time the largest in state history, over a $300 campaign donation that the state found he’d had a friend pass to another friend’s campaign.

But that didn’t end Berger’s interest in civic affairs. He was an active member of the Monroe Lion’s Club, of which his wife, Debra, was one of the two first women granted membership in 2010.

Berger was a do-it-yourself handyman as well; his law office and printing business occupied two historic homes that he joined into one; he built and rented townhouses and he also took pride in the water feature he installed in the front yard of his law practice.

An avid mountaineer, Berger had climbed Mt. Rainier 29 times and had planned to climb it again this year, in celebration of his 60th birthday.

He was also a long-time pilot, and made news when he crashed a six-seat Helio Courier into Lake Isabel, high in the Wild Sky Wilderness. He had been attempting a takeoff from the lake, but wasn’t able to gain critical altitude and had to make an emergency landing. Although it was October, he and his passenger swam to shore, climbed a cliff out of the lake, and hiked miles to find help.

The plane settled in 230 feet of water, but over subsequent summers, Berger hiked back to the lake with equipment until he and friends, one of whom was an accomplished diver, were able to attach inflatable airbags to the plane and raise it to the surface.

Berger then painstakingly restored the plane, renamed it “Isabel” after the lake, and resumed flying it in 2010.

Berger spent many hours in the air, and sometimes offered scenic flights as prizes in charity auctions, especially for the Lion’s Club, of which he was an active member.

Late last year, Berger was once again in the news for his love of aircraft; he had completed a three-year project of building a small two-seat SeaRey LSX amphibious plane from scratch. By then he had a decade of experience in the cockpit, and tested and flew his new plane successfully.

It was in that plane that he crashed Saturday.

This obituary is a work in progress, and we will add to it as we collect more details of his life, and the reflections of the people who knew him, as well as details about memorial services.

Kenneth Berger
The Law Offices of Kenneth A. Berger, PLLC 

Berger, who has been flying for about 10 years, spent the last three years building the plane. 
Photo courtesy of Ken Berger 

A SeaRey LSX, an amphibious plane that a Monroe attorney built from a kit, makes one of its first flights above the Sky Valley.

GRANT COUNTY, Wash.-- Grant County officials said the pilot of a small float that crashed into Banks Lake Saturday evening died. 
Pilot Kenneth A. Berger, 60, of Monroe, was the only occupant of the plane that crashed near Steamboat Rock State Park, according to officials.

The Grant County Sheriff's Office said there were multiple witnesses to the plane crash. Witnesses said the nose of the plane tipped forward and into the water and sank as it was getting ready for take-off.

Officials said nearby boaters dove into the lake, unbuckled Berger's seatbelt, and brought him to an ambulance waiting on shore. Officials pronounced Berger dead a short time later.

The Federal Aviation Administration launched an investigation.

GRANT COUNTY, Wash.- The F.A.A. is investigating a plane crash that happened Saturday at Banks Lake near Steamboat Rock State Park. Officials say the small float plane was trying to take off when it hit a wave and sank.

Authorities have confirmed that 60 year-old Kenneth A. Berger was piloting Searey amphibious plane near Steamboat Rock State Park around 5 p.m. Witnesses said the plane went nose down while attempting to take off and sank in the water.

Citizens nearby boats dove into the lake and released Berger's seat belt. They then brought him to shore where a waiting ambulance was located. He was pronounced dead a short time later.

The pilot was the only person on board and that person has not been identified. An autopsy is pending.

GRAND COULEE, Wash. -   The pilot of a float plane was killed when his aircraft failed to take off and nosed over into Banks Lake Saturday.

According to witnesses at the scene, the aircraft was a float plane attempting to take off from Banks Lake but never gained altitude and nosed over into the water.

Witnesses report that some individuals at the scene cut the pilot out of the plane, but he had been underwater for approximately six to seven minutes and had died before they were able to reach him. The aircraft sank into the lake within 20 minutes.

The pilot was the only person on board the aircraft at the time of the mishap, according to witnesses.

Deputies from the Grant County Sheriff's Office along with local police from the Grand Coulee Dam area are on the scene.

GRANT COUNTY, Wash. —  The investigation continues after the pilot of a small plane died in a crash at Banks Lake Saturday night, said officials with the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.

The crash happened near Steamboat Rock State Park at about 5 p.m.

Witnesses told deputies as the plane was attempting to take off, the plane crashed into the water and sank.

People in nearby boats dove into the water, released the pilot’s and brought him to the surface. The pilot was the lone occupant.

He was pronounced dead a short time later.

Authorities identified the pilot as 60-year-old Kenneth A. Berger of Monroe.

The Federal Aviation Administration will continue to investigate the crash.

Monroe attorney builds plane from scratch 
December 3, 2013
Monroe News News

It takes a lot to scare Ken Berger.

Several years ago, he crashed a plane into Lake Louise high in the Wild Sky wilderness, returned to extract the plane from the bottom of the lake, rebuilt the plane and flew it again.

And this summer, he took to the air in a craft that had never been flown, built from scratch by someone who had never built a plane in his life; namely, himself.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Berger, who, despite his measured and thoughtful speech, is no stranger to excitement. The Monroe attorney and former city councilmember is preparing to attempt his 30th summit of Mount Rainier next summer, in time for his 60th birthday.

The plane he built is a SeaRey LSX, made from a kit.

“You order the kit from the manufacturer and it doesn’t include a bunch of the parts,” said Berger. “You have to order those parts from elsewhere, and it’s your job to assemble it all.”

Berger was inspired to take the task because he so enjoyed rebuilding the plane he recovered from the lake.

Building the kit plane was no small task. It took exactly three years and three days from the September day he started in 2013 until he made his first flight.

Nor was it inexpensive; the kit starts at $34,000 and requires a lot of extra parts. But now Berger has the small two-seat amphibious plane in the air.

He admits that the first flight was a bit nerve-wracking.

“There’s a lot of pucker factor,” he said.

He could have hired a test pilot, a person who specializes in taking planes out for a first flight after a careful inspection and sometimes training specific to the plane.

But Berger, who has been flying for about 10 years, decided to do it himself, and since then has logged about 40 hours in flight in the small aircraft.

That completed Phase 1 testing of the plane.

In order to get the plane certified for airworthiness, it now has to undergo a thorough examination from an inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration.

“You can get it certified as an experimental airplane and you are given an airworthiness certificate that has some conditions on it; for instance, you can take one or more passengers, but it can’t be for commercial use,” said Berger. “They don’t let you take paying passengers.”

It took a lot of work to build the plane and was rather an expensive hobby, but Berger said it has been a lot of fun, and is still more economical than his larger, six-seat plane.

“SeaRey planes are quite fun, really,” he said. “I’m enjoying flying in it quite a lot. It’s very small and nimble and inexpensive to fly.”

Mountain Ridge Country Club, near Essex County Airport (KCDW), Caldwell, New Jersey

Small plane lands on West Caldwell fairway

WEST CALDWELL — The pilot of a single-engine plane safely guided his craft onto a fairway at the Mountain Ridge Country Club this afternoon after the Cessna experienced engine trouble just short of Essex County Airport in nearby Fairfield, police and the veteran flyer said.

There were no injuries to the 62-year-old pilot, Stephen Lind; to his student, a 16-year-old female; or to any golfers, Lt. John Kopf said.

The Cessna was cleared to land at Runway 4 when its engine suddenly wound down to idle speed, Lind said from his Whippany home this evening.

“We were too far from the airport to make it, and the golf course was right there,” he said.

He spotted three fairways. The two longer ones, though, had golfers on it. “Fortunately, the other one didn’t have any people,” he said.

“We did our emergency procedure and with the help of the big ranger in the sky we put her down,” said Lind, who has been flying since the late 1960s and used to pilot bush planes in Alaska.

“I missed a tree by 3 feet off the right wing and bunker by 5 or 6 feet to the left,” he said.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the plane is registered to Eagle Flight Squadron Inc. in East Orange, a nonprofit group that promotes aviation-related activities to youth, where Lind has been chief flight instructor for 14 years.

He called the Cessna, which was built in 1973, “a perfect plane” that passed inspection last month. He suspected that a throttle cable might have come loose.

The country club’s general manager, Steve Wolsky, said Lind made an expert maneuver onto the course’s fifth fairway.

Although there were several people playing the course on this Memorial Day weekend, none were in danger, he said.

“There were people all around and close,” Wolsky said. “People watched it and saw happen.”

An airport official said he had no comment. Wolsky said technicians were taking the plane apart and would transport it on a flatbed truck.

Township fire and police personnel, as well as Fairfield police and the West Essex First Aid Squad responded to the incident. The FAA is investigating, an agency spokeswoman said.

Lind said his student assured him she would soon be flying again.

“My 16-year-old student can’t wait to get to school to tell the story,” he said. “She was mad because she didn’t have her phone and couldn’t take any pictures.”

Story, photo and comments/reaction:

A small plane made an emergency landing this afternoon at the Mountain Ridge Country Club, not far from Essex County Airport.

Stunt planes spiral and spin as Bethpage Air Show kicks off at Jones Beach

Temperamental weather didn't keep throngs from watching the U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform the aerial equivalent of synchronized swimming at 400 mph Saturday at the 11th annual Bethpage Air Show.

The crowd at Jones Beach State Park hooted and shrieked as the F/A-18 Hornet jets roared overhead in diamond formation, wingtips just 18 inches apart.

"Spectacular," said Jack Lynch, 63, of Merrick. "It's one of those performances you have to see to explain."

Jacky Dodge, 42, of Smithtown, was glad she "forced her kids to come" to what she called "the perfect American weekend -- watching the Blue Angels."

"They look like one plane when they fly," she said. "You want to go home and watch 'Top Gun.' It gives you chills. You just want to be up there flying with them."

Jones Beach park director Sue Guliani estimated 86,000 people caught the show, with warmer temperatures and sunshine expected to boost today's attendance to roughly 200,000. That two-day total would more than triple last year's 79,000 spectators, when the opening day was rained out and sequestration grounded military performers.

Saturday, the sky shifted between sunny and overcast, but spectators focused on what was in front the clouds, as stunt planes looped and corkscrewed over the ocean.

In the morning, the crowd went silent as pilot Sean D. Tucker's Oracle Challenger III biplane seemed to hang in midair, nose to the sky, before tumbling, twisting and swooping over the water.

"It's awe-inspiring how such a small plane can maneuver so well," said Luis Tua, 48, of the Bronx, who watched from the boardwalk with his 6-year-old son.

Later on, spectators cheered as an MV-22 Osprey, a Marine Corps aircraft that's part plane and part helicopter, hovered over the water, stirring up mist.

Curtis Pettaway, 66, of Roosevelt, who served in the Army's 864th Engineer Battalion in the Vietnam War, said he enjoyed meeting fellow veterans at the Memorial Day weekend celebration.

"I'm glad to see the ones who made it back," said Pettaway, as he watched the show with his 4-year-old granddaughter. "I recognize them by all the gray."

Story and comments:

Crowds of people watch the U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform in the sky while watching from the beach as hundreds attend the 11th annual Bethpage Air Show held at Jones Beach in Wantagh, Saturday, May 24, 2014.

Albert Whitted Airport (KSPG), St. Petersburg, Florida

Small plane crashes at Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg 


The Pinellas County Fire Department is responding to small place crash in St. Petersburg.

According to officials, a small plane crashed at Albert Whitted Airport.

Officials believe the plane is on it's side.

There were four people on board, officials said.

No injuries have been reported.


Simsbury Airport (4B9), Connecticut

Emergency crews are responding to Simsbury Airport on Wolcott Road, where a plane flipped onto its roof while landing on the runway Saturday evening, according to Deputy Fire Chief Mike Jepeao. 

Jepeao said the single-seater plane was attempting to land around 8:30 p.m. Saturday when it inverted and hit the runway upside down.

The pilot, a man, was alone in the aircraft. Firefighters extricated him by lifting the rear of the plane, Jepeao said. The pilot suffered minor injuries and refused medical treatment.

The plane sprang a small fuel leak during the crash, according to Jepeao.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration have arrived on scene and will interview the pilot to determine how the plane inverted. Bradley Airport Authority officials are also on scene.

According to Jepeao, the airport is unmanned and does not have air traffic control.

Simsbury Airport is closed and will remain shut down until the plane is righted and the scene is clear.

A pilot was extricated after his plane inverted upon landing at Simsbury Airport on Saturday night, trapping him inside.

Defining an Airport Needs More Than a Dictionary in Eagleswood, New Jersey

Define an airport: That was the task given to the Eagleswood Township Land Use Board – sort of. An application was submitted by lawyer Howard Butensky, representing Eagles Nest Airport owner Peter Weidhorn, that asked the board to define an airport.

“This is an application for an interpretation we are seeking and recommending, frankly: a definition of airport for a couple of reasons,” Butensky said at the May 13 meeting of the board. “One is for the pending application that’s before the board for the jumping operation. Secondly, and more importantly, is moving forward so every time there’s a change in the operation at the airport, it may not require coming to the board for either another interpretation, site plan or some action on behalf of the board.”

The heart of this issue is presently Skydive Eastcoast. This skydiving group is based at the airport, and has been sending folks plummeting through the air since spring of 2013. The township has had trouble deciding whether the skydivers need amended site plan approval in order to continue to operate.

So, Butensky was putting in an application for the town to adopt the state definition of an airport, or aeronautical facility. An aeronautical facility is defined by the N.J. Department of Transportation as any airport, seaplane base, heliport, helistop, drop zone, ultralight recreational facility, blimp mooring mast, balloonspot or vertiport.

“We have an aeronautical facility,” Butensky said. “Within the aeronautical facility are aeronautical activities.”

Within this definition, for the purposes of land use and zoning, aeronautical activities are usually considered permitted uses at public use aeronautical facilities.

“There are certain uses that are under the umbrella that are under the definition of airport,” Butensky said.

Planning Board Attorney Terry Brady soon interjected.

“What you’re explaining here is a permitted use, but permitted use is not the test for site plan or no site plan,” he said. “The definition of alteration regarding aeronautical facilities is any modification to the surface, design or operational area of an aeronautical facility which affects, increases or diminishes its operational capabilities.”

Brady said everyone was in agreement that a parachute jumping zone or landing zone is a permitted use for an airport, but a change in the operational capabilities is an alteration and requires a site plan submission to the Land Use Board.

“We know helicopters are permitted. We know helicopter pads are permitted. Show us on paper where it’s going to be,” board member Debra Rivas said. “Parachuting is permitted. Show us where the parachuters are going to park, where they will go for their lesson, where their ’chutes be packed. He’s asking for you to show us where these things are going to go.”

Butensky clarified why he was submitting the application.

“I’m looking beyond the parachute operation. Everything that’s occurred at the airport, without exception, has been subject to controversy,” Butensky said. “One way to be proactive and eliminate controversy in the future is to have an agreement as to what constitutes an airport.”

He said he would refer to the site plan ordinance to determine when the airport is and is not required to submit a plan.

“We do not have a base ordinance which we can interpret,” Brady said. “Since we do not have an ordinance, then – most certainly – the state definitions would apply to what is and is not an airport facility or airport activity.”

After over two hours of discussion among the board, Butensky and other representatives, the public discussion was held.

Resident Michelle Paccione raised concerns about the lack of public input surrounding airport uses. She argued that the airport may attempt to avoid appearing in front of the planning board and public, acting under the veil of “permitted use.”

She pointed to skydiving at the airport. Specifically, she voiced negative feelings and anecdotes regarding Skydive East Coast. In general, she said, she is shocked that skydiving is even permitted at the airport.

“There seems to be an important distinction between a permitted use of land and a license given to an operator,” Brady said.

Brady advised Paccione to bring particular business concerns to the DOT. The board also assured her there would be more hearings regarding skydiving at the airport in the future.

George Voishnis, owner of Skydive East Coast, was in attendance at the meeting. He followed Paccione to address the negative opinions regarding the company. He said he wanted to run his operation responsibly.

“We want to be a good neighbor, and we don’t know how it (the situation) got here,” Voishnis said.

Any topic regarding the airport appears to be a point of controversy in Eagleswood.

“As everyone knows, every time the airport appears before the Land Use Board, emotions run high on both sides,” board member Michael Pasternak said. “Personally, after those types of meetings, I return home and replay the events of those meetings over and over again.”

“I just think we’ve been beating this dead horse for a while,” Eagleswood Zoning Enforcement Official Carl Sillitoe said.

“But, Carl, I have grandchildren I need to send to college,” Butensky replied facetiously.

“The only reason (the airport is) here is because of me,” Sillitoe added.

Many replied with a palpably sarcastic thanks.

A motion was later made to adopt the definition of an airport to coincide with the state definition under Title 16 aeronautical activity and facility. The motion was passed unanimously.


Piper PA-28R-200 Arrow II, N32195, Prescott Flying Club Inc: Accident occurred May 24, 2014 at Major Gilbert Field Airport (4R5), La Pointe, Wisconsin

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board: 

NTSB Identification: CEN14CA257 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 24, 2014 in La Pointe, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/30/2014
Aircraft: PIPER PA 28R-200, registration: N32195
Injuries: 2 Minor, 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that the airplane encountered a strong gust of wind from the right during final approach to an island airport. The pilot applied aileron and rudder to correct, but the airplane touched down "awkwardly" on the runway. The pilot then applied back pressure on the yoke and the airplane became airborne before landing hard onto the runway. The airplane then veered to the right then to the left at which time it departed the left side of the runway. The right wing separated from the airplane when it contacted a tree before the airplane came to rest. The recorded wind condition at an airport located 18 miles from the accident site had a variable direction at 5 knots.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain control of the airplane during the landing.

LA POINTE, Wis. – Three people escaped injury when their plane crashed Saturday while trying to land on Madeline Island in Lake Superior.

The La Pointe Police Department reported that the 1974 Piper Cherokee was approaching Major Gilbert Field from the north just after noon when the landing went awry. The plane came to rest in a wooded area just east of the runway’s south end.

Three people on board were “shaken but uninjured,” the police department reported, and they refused medical transport.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been notified and will be on the scene today to investigate the cause of Saturday’s crash.

The La Pointe Police Department, La Pointe Fire Department and La Pointe Ambulance Service responded to the scene.

The crash comes just short of a year after a plane crash claimed two lives on Madeline Island. Two brothers from western Wisconsin died June 15, 2013, when their Piper Comanche crashed while trying to land at Major Gilbert Field. A preliminary investigation indicated that the plane bounced “out of control” on the runway during an initial landing attempt, then crashed during a second attempt.


Three people were uninjured when a small plane crashed on Madeline Island Saturday, according to the La Pointe Police Department. 

 A 1974 Piper Cherokee attempted to land at Major Gilbert Field Airport just after noon, according to police. Police said the plane was approaching from the north and ended up just east of the runway, coming to rest in a wooded area.

The three people on board were uninjured, according to police. The Federal Aviation Administration was set to investigate the scene on Sunday, May 25.


Thomasville, Davidson County, North Carolina: Pilot gave his life to save five others


The telegram arrived April 20, 1945.

World War II was winding down overseas, but a season of grief was just beginning in Thomasville, the hometown of 2nd Lt. Raymond Wilson Reid, a 21-year-old bomber pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Coy Reid, the young airman’s father, received the telegram while at work in the Duke Power offices downtown. He likely didn’t even have to read the succinctly worded message to know what it said. When your son is at war, it’s him you pray to hear from — not Western Union.

The words came at him in bits and pieces, piercing his heart like wayward shrapnel from an exploding mortar.





“GERMANY 16 APR 45...”

For the moment, that was all Coy Reid needed to know, and probably all he could’ve withstood. His firstborn child — the son whose first name, Raymond, was Coy’s middle name — had died four days earlier.

He didn’t know how his son had died. Had he been shot down by the enemy? Was it friendly fire? Had Raymond suffered, God forbid, or had he died instantly?

All the heavyhearted father knew was that his son had been killed in action, and now he had the unenviable task of going home and breaking the news to Helen, the boy’s mother. Then, together, they would tell Raymond’s two younger sisters, 16-year-old Helen Anne and 13-year-old Mary.

At the time, there wasn’t much to tell — only that Raymond had been “killed in action,” as the telegram had so tersely stated. In the coming weeks, though, they would learn the story of Raymond’s death, a gritty, inspiring tale straight out of an old war movie.

The young pilot may have died, but because of the courageous heroism of 2nd Lt. Raymond Wilson Reid, the families of his five crew members would not be hearing from Western Union.

* * * *

Anne Rapp, who went by Helen Anne as a child, adored her big brother.

“I always wanted to do what he did,” the 85-year-old Colfax woman recalls with a chuckle. “He’d climb the wild cherry tree and I couldn’t do it, but I fell off the garage one time trying.”

She remembers Raymond as a bright student at Thomasville High School, where he graduated in 1941. He was rather quiet. Responsible and respectful. Patriotic.

“And he always wanted to fly,” Rapp says.

When Raymond assembled a model plane from a kit, he built his own instrument panel, and even a set of miniature earphones, to put in the cockpit. Then he suspended the plane from a clothesline and photographed it to make it look as if it was airborne.

He studied pictures of various types of aircraft and even wrote papers for his English class about aviation. He studied aeronautical engineering in college, and he spent a summer working at the Vega Aircraft Corp. in California.

So no one was surprised when Raymond enlisted in the Army Air Corps in November 1942. Despite the ongoing war, he showed no fear about his mission.

“Not ever,” Rapp says. “I’m sure Mother and Daddy were scared to death, because they knew what he would be doing, but he wasn’t fearful.”

Rapp feared for her brother, too. The day he left for training, she took the pillow off of his bed and slept with it every night. She wrote him letters and eagerly awaited his replies.

Flying B-26 Marauders with the Ninth Air Force, Raymond quickly became a skilled pilot, acing any tests his superiors put in front of him and excelling in the cockpit.

He flew one successful mission after another, most of them tactical bombing runs aimed at wiping out targets such as railways, bridges and ammunition dumps.

One such mission in February 1945 earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross “for extraordinary achievement against the enemy in aerial flight.” The target was a railway bridge at Engers, Germany. Despite intense anti-aircraft fire that knocked out his left engine, Raymond managed to keep his plane level and drop his bombs on the target, with excellent results, before safely returning to his base.

Two months later, Raymond would come under heavy fire again. This time, though, the outcome would not be so favorable — not for him, at least.

This, his 61st mission, would be his last.

* * * *

Lt. Raymond W. Reid died on April 16, 1945, during his second bombing mission that day.

The Western Union telegram notifying the young man’s family would arrive in Thomasville four days later. In time, the telegram would become a family keepsake — a grim reminder of what the war had cost the Reid family — but at the time, its blunt message that Raymond had been “killed in action” was woefully inadequate.

“Mother was trying desperately to find out what had happened,” Rapp says, recalling that her mother had contacted the War Department seeking details of her son’s death. When that proved fruitless, she requested the names and addresses of his crew members, in hopes that they could shed some light on what had happened.

Boy, did they. One letter, in particular — from Raymond’s co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Kenneth J. Stear — detailed exactly what happened.

It seems that Raymond’s plane was experiencing mechanical trouble — the right engine kept cutting out — so Raymond left the formation and turned the plane back toward his unit’s base in France. Anti-aircraft fire riddled the plane, further compromising Raymond’s ability to maintain altitude.

“The only thing left was to try to make Swiss territory,” Stear wrote in a three-page letter dated July 6, 1945. “When we did make it we were very low and since the controls were shot out we all had to jump.”

As he had done two months earlier when he earned his Distinguished Flying Cross, Raymond kept the plane level as his buddies bailed out one by one.

“Ray was the last one out of the plane,” Stear continued, “and by the time he did go the plane was too close to the ground for his parachute to open. He evidently had stayed with the plane long enough to ensure the rest of us as much safety in jumping as possible.”

Two crew members landed in Germany, one of whom made his way to Switzerland, and another who was captured but eventually was released. The other three crew members landed safely in Swiss territory.

“Mrs. Reid,” Stear concluded, “you can see by this how much we, the crew, owe to your son. Without a doubt, if it hadn’t been for his quick thinking and superior ability as a pilot we all would have been killed.”

Another crew member, Sgt. Robert L. Mercado, echoed that sentiment.

“If it hadn’t been for his coolness and his ability,” he wrote, “I don’t believe any of us would have gotten back.”

Nearly 70 years later, Raymond’s nephew — David Raymond Rapp, of Greensboro — treasures those letters from his uncle’s surviving crew members, because they document the sacrifice Raymond made for his country.

“I heard the stories growing up,” he says. “He always sounded like a hero to me, and the letters prove it.”

Story, photo and comments:

A photo of 2nd Lt Raymond Reid, a World War II U.S. Army pilot from Thomasville, is shown with several medals earned and the Western Union telegram from the government informing the family of his death.

Cessna 182 Skylane, N97038: Accident occurred May 24, 2014 in Arvin, Kern County, California

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fresno, California
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR14LA207 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 24, 2014 in Arvin, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA 182, registration: N97038
Injuries: 2 Minor.

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

On May 24, 2014, at 1211 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 182Q, N97038, experienced a total loss of engine power and force landed in a field one mile south of Arvin, California. During the off airport landing the airplane nosed over, substantially damaging the tail and left lift strut. The airplane was registered to, and operated by, the commercial pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91, as a personal flight. Both the pilot and his single passenger received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed during the flight, and a visual flight plan was not filed. The flight originated at Corona Municipal Airport, Corona, California.

The pilot stated that an hour into the flight, while over the Tehachapi Mountains, he noticed that the engine oil pressure had dropped, but the oil temperature and cylinder temperatures were normal. He declared an emergency to Bakersfield Approach and was initially given vectors to Bakersfield Municipal Airport. About 2-3 minutes later he started hearing rattling noises coming from the engine and then the cockpit filled with black smoke. He identified an open field on his left and maneuvered to make that field but didn't realize it had crop furrows. The airplane hit the first berm hard, bounced 3-4 times hitting berms along the way, then the nose wheel hit a berm and flipped the airplane over onto its back. On scene photos showed that the belly of the airplane was coated with engine oil aft of the engine fire wall.

An examination of the airplane and engine by the NTSB Investigator-in-Charge (IIC) and a technical representative from Continental Motors Incorporated was performed on September 30, 2014. The engine time indicated on the tachometer was 2,861.6 (hours). Investigators found the air-oil separator return line disconnected from the oil return port located on the rocker cover of the engine's number 1 cylinder. Oil staining was evident on the lower engine cowling below the number 1 cylinder. It was noted that the engine oil filter was located behind the air-oil separator return line. The left engine case half, upper section above the No 4 cylinder, exhibited a 6 x 4 inch hole just aft of the oil filler neck. The cylinders were removed and the case was separated into its halves. The crankshaft main bearings exhibited normal wear with no heat discoloration. The number 3 crankshaft throw bearing was shiny & polished showing very little heat discoloration. The number 4 crankshaft throw was dark black with a few gouges and exhibited extreme heat distress. The number 5 crankshaft throw was black and exhibited extreme heat distress. The number 6 connecting rod attached to the crankshaft throw was discolored dark gray, consistent with heat distress. The internal section of the engine case in line with the number 3 & 4 crankshaft throws exhibited internal repeated impact marks, metal removal, and damage to the oil galleries on both sides of the engine case.

Examination of the engine logbook revealed that the most recent annual inspection was performed on April 10, 2013, 2,828.2 hours total time, and 309.5 hours since major overhaul (SMOH). The last entry in the logbook was dated April 18, 2014, where the pilot/owner had performed an oil change, 2,857.3 hours total time

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A plane crash has been reported Southeast of Arvin, according to the Arvin Police Department.

23ABC was on the scene and it was reported that the plane was upside down near Mullix Road and Tejon Highway.

The Kern County Fire Department said two males were piloting the area on a day flight, when they noticed smoke coming into cockpit. The KCFD said the males thought oil was leaking from the plane and decided to land.

The KCFD said the two males thought the area was safe to land, but didn't realize the terrain wasn't suitable for such a feat, which ended up turning the plane upside down once it touched the ground. 

The two licensed pilots were taken to Kern Medical Center for observation after reporting minor scrapes and bruises. 

Chief Flight Instructor Mark C. W. Robinson: Business is offering lessons in piloting drones

When pilot Mark Robinson started his flight school at John Wayne Airport, he knew he would offer instruction for helicopters and planes.

But the 34-year-old aviation entrepreneur also wanted to provide students with an opportunity for something a little different. He considered a third component.

Drone lessons

In a county known for its wealth — JWA, after all, offers valet parking for its well-heeled fliers — Robinson figured he might find clients who needed help learning to fly the fancy toys.

Some people may pay up to $15,000 for a recreational drone. He imagined the extra price of learning to fly the machine without damaging it would be worthwhile.

The lessons also offered a cheaper alternative for those who might not want to shell out the price to get a pilot's license, yet wanted to practice flying aerial vehicles of some sort.

And so when Robinson's business, Revolution Aviation, held its official ribbon cutting earlier this year, it was billed as the fifth flight school in Orange County and the only one to offer helicopter, plane and, yes, drone instruction.

"It's a market that does seem to be getting a lot of press," he said in an interview preceding the February ceremony. "It's a market that is up and coming."

He later added, "I think it could be huge."

Getting Educated

Robinson's $750 full-day course for drone newbies begins in a classroom, where students receive drone-related information on air space, mechanics and public opinion.

They learn where they should fly the machines (an auditorium or an open field) and where they shouldn't (within three miles of the airport).

Then into a helicopter they go, buckling in for a 20-minute ride intended to imbue the soon-to-be drone operators with an improved sense for how the machines move.

"We actually think you get a better respect for the aircraft," explained Robinson, who used to fly the Goodyear blimp.

Manufactured in a variety of models, drones might resemble miniature planes or helicopters. What sets them apart from remote control devices is that they can be programmed to fly by themselves.

If operators become confused about the machine's orientation, they can simply direct the device to return to the place from which it took off, where it might land or hover, depending on how it has been programmed.

Or, as pointed out in the highly publicized case of Amazon's plans to deliver packages by way of drone, the machines could be programmed go to a specific "waypoint," as a coordinate is called. They can also be steered by an operator beyond his or her line of sight.

But part of the fun is learning to fly the machines in what is called free mode, a setting that gives complete control over its movements to the user, letting it swoop up, flip over or spin incessantly — at least until the battery dies.

The Specs

For the drone flight portion of the course, Robinson suggests clients bring their own machines if they have them.

Otherwise, students can try out the company's $6,000 German model, which is called a "quadcopter" because it has four rotors with spinning blades.

The device is about 2 feet long and weighs about 2 pounds. The body is made of carbon fiber, on which a compass, GPS, battery and speed controls have been mounted. A white antenna resembling a coffee straw sticks out of the top.

Named Justin, who was the first student to take a drone lesson at Revolution Aviation, it can fly so high that the operator might not be able to see it.

For new students, though, Robinson suggests they stick to flying it about 10 feet off the ground.

First, the remote must be turned on, then the drone switch clicked over. The throttle is shoved sideways, the blades begin to whir, and then up the drone goes.

In a perfect world — i.e. a world without wind, in which the battery is brand new and fully charged — the drone can fly for 22 minutes, Robinson said. After that, the battery must be replaced, or recharged in a car.

Dressed for work in a green jumpsuit and aviators, Robinson comes armed for drone flight practice with spare bolts and blades, in addition to a spare battery.

If it suffers a major crash? Well, he will just have to pay the price to fix it.

Waiting for Demand

So far, the devices seem popular with journalists and real estate agents — people Robinson believes he can help. Even police departments have been known to use them.

But the lessons haven't quite caught on as Robinson imagined. Flights and training with helicopters generate the bulk of the fledgling company's revenue, while there have only been a handful of people interested in the smaller-scale drone flying.

Plenty of yachtsmen will pay large sums for their boats, but drones imply spying, crashing and questions of responsibility, Robinson said — not exactly what conservative Newport Beach residents are seeking.

"I think it's a technology that's up and coming. They might be ahead of their time, I don't know," said Steve Rosansky, president of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Rosansky noted that privacy issues remain to be worked out — maybe some people like to tan nude in their backyards and don't want drone-mounted cameras flying overhead, he said — but he imagined that as the devices get cheaper, more people will be interested in using them for different things.

Then, when the demand starts to occur, Revolution Aviation will be there as the established company, the first local business, to help provide instruction.

This is for Fun

Robinson attributes the slow uptake in part to his decision not to emphasize promotion of the lessons just yet. Before they get going full swing, he wants to be sure the company is fully prepared, perhaps with an employee who focuses solely on those classes.

For now, in addition to the full-day course, Robinson also offers $550 half-day classes for the more experienced, or $95 an hour for those just seeking a little help.

He turns away students looking to fly drones commercially, suggesting instead that they take a more long-term course. The University of North Dakota, for example, offers a bachelor's degree in aeronautics with a major in unmanned aircraft systems operations.

Those who wish to use drones for commercial operations must be cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration, which requires flights to have a certified aircraft and a licensed pilot, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.

This authorization would include any real estate agency looking to use drones to photograph its properties, as well as a private flight school that charged students for lessons, he said.

To date, only one commercial operation has met FAA criteria and received authorization for flight, which was limited to the Arctic, he said.

The Rules

Although operating standards exist, people who wish to fly model aircraft as a hobby do not require approval by the FAA.

Because Robinson is not flying drones for clients, he believes Revolution Aviation is simply helping provide such customers with information.

"They're paying us for our knowledge and our expertise to instruct them," Robinson said. "We're not being hired to provide a service."

Meanwhile, a Costa Mesa resident, who did not wish to be identified for privacy reasons, taught himself to fly a remote control quadcopter using a $33 device available, ironically enough, on Amazon.

"If you fly that for a month and you get decent at it, then you can get into the hobby-grade stuff," he said, adding that he had a background in racing remote control cars.

On a recent Tuesday morning, about 18 months after he first began dabbling with quadcopters, the electronics engineer was at a park in Newport Beach flying two different remote control devices he had built himself.

He waved as a Newport Beach police officer drove past. (Police spokeswoman Jen Manzella said they do not enforce air traffic issues, but would respond if there were a public nuisance complaint. So far, drones have not been a significant issue for the department.)

The copter, with red and green lights shining, emitted a buzzing sound as it flipped and turned in the air. He continued to practice flying it, taking caution when pedestrians came near, and only packed up reluctantly when the clock pushed toward 10 — time to get going to work.

Story and photos:

Flight instructor James Baker, right, and chief flight instructor Mark C. W. Robinson, both with Revolution Aviation, demonstrate the AscTec Hummingbird Tuesday at Bonita Creek Park in Newport Beach.

Perception can be a problem for turboprops



None of South Carolina’s airports will ever get mistaken for a Hartsfield or Heathrow. The state’s busiest airport by enplanements in 2012 was Charleston, but with 1.28 million boardings, it was only the nation’s 80th-busiest.

Way down that Federal Aviation Administration list at No. 249 is Florence Regional Airport.

But don’t let that ranking fool you. This airport is a key cog for economic development. The many multinational corporations with facilities in the Florence area were all lured to some extent by the promise of regular commercial air service.

Florence has four to six daily flights making the quick hop to Charlotte, North Carolina. Thanks to some cost-savings measures, the airport is in good shape financially, rebounding from its 2012 million-dollar mix-up with Uncle Sam over leased Transportation Security Administration space.

Last week the airport’s lone carrier, US Airways, announced it will be only using turboprop airplanes after Friday in Florence. Eliminating jets might just be temporary, but US Airways is here because it is good business. If the carrier can improve its bottom line with a turboprop-only service, it will.

Enplanments have been on the decline in Florence since Delta’s Atlanta connection left in 2011. Planes are about 70 percent full on average, according to airport officials. On the heavy days, Air Wisconsin has a fleet of 50-seater CRJ-200 LR jets that typically depart here once or twice daily. The rest are Piedmont Airlines turboprops.

Regular Florence fliers are obviously used to turboprops and might not notice, or care about, any difference in the planes they book out of here.

Still, whether it’s the sight of those whirly things or the imitation major airline livery, turboprops can carry a hidebound perception, rightly or wrongly.

The turboprop out of Florence gets you to Charlotte in the same amount of time as a jet, and the replacement turboprops have the same amount of seats. They use less fuel, but they also fly shorter distances. And there’s not a hamster on a wheel spinning those propellers. Turboprops are powered by turbine engines.

Overhead space and other amenities vary. Luggage space and foot room can be limited because of the curvature of many turboprops’ fuselage. Turboprops fly at a lower altitude than jets, which make them more susceptible to weather and turbulence. Complaints abound about the noise, too.

Having the option between a jet and turboprop might be inconsequential to a Florence traveler. Besides, plenty of fliers are more concerned with convenience, price and timeliness. Florence can offer that.

The local airport has proximity, obviously. Parking is a breeze. By the time you drive, park and take the bus at Charlotte/Douglas, you could already be relaxing on your connection if you left out of Florence. Prices here are sometimes more favorable, too.

But for many others fliers, there’s turbo aversion. Small seems dodgy. Propellers seem dated. Big jets seem safer.

Flying, of course, on any commercial plane is astonishingly safe. More than 800 million people boarded a commercial plane in 2012 in the United States. Since 2003, only six commercial crashes on U.S. soil have resulted in fatalities.

Five of those involved commuter planes, though, and three were turboprops: 19 died in 2003 in Charlotte, North Carolina, in a turboprop; 20 died in 2005 off the coast of Miami in a turboprop; 49 died in 2006 in Lexington, Kentucky; 50 people (including one on the ground) perished in 2009 in Buffalo, New York, in a turboprop accident; and 10 people died in 2013 in Soldotna, Alaska, in a single-engine, propeller plane. Only Asiana Airlines Flight 214, a Boeing 777 that crashed short of the runway in 2013 at San Francisco International Airport, was a major airline crash. Three of 307 people on board perished.

That data could be used as an indictment on turboprops or a condemnation on regional carriers in general — or neither.

But, pilot pay scales are based on aircraft size. The bigger the plane, the higher the pay. Although all commercial pilots are trained to the same federal standards regardless of the airline that employs them, it’s not a stretch to conclude smaller planes could mean less experience on the flight deck.

The chances of you ever needing the maneuvers of a Chesley Sullenberger are microscopic. But they’re nice to have all the same.

All of this is to say the turboprop-only plan at Florence might not make a dent in enplanements either way, and the jets might be back in a few months.

But for an airport that could stand some good news and for a city that desperately needs its airport, this feels like a step back.