Friday, May 30, 2014

Wreckage of Nazi deputy's plane in auction

Wreckage from a German fighter plane flown to Scotland by Hitler's right hand man in an attempt to agree a peace deal in 1941 was secretly squirreled away by a farmer at the scene and is now up for sale for £3,000.

The section of fuselage was retrieved from Bonnytons Farm in Eaglesham, Renfrewshire where the Messerschmitt plane, piloted by Nazi party deputy Rudolf Hess, had crashed.

The Deputy Führer had flown alone from Germany on May 10 1941 in the hope of bringing Britain to the negotiating table for coming peace talks.

When he got dangerously low on fuel he bailed out, parachuting in a field on Floors Farm in Eaglesham, while his plane crashed in the neighboring field.

Dave McLean, the foreman at Floors Farm who apprehended Hess and handed him over to the police, managed to recover several parts of the aircraft and hid them in bushes.

The section of fuselage was given to Stanley Boyd, an 18-year-old Floors Farm worker as a souvenir.

It was only when the plane wreckage was put on display in Trafalgar Square in London that they found that its pilot was not Captain Albert Horn, as Hess had identified himself to Mr McLean, but Hitler's second in command.

In a previously unseen letter, Mr Boyd wrote: "The pilot had a broken ankle so was taken to Maryhill Barracks Military Hospital for treatment ... His fighter plane had crashed in the next field which was Bonnytons Farm and Dave had gone over on his cycle and hidden a few souvenirs in the bushes!

"The whole wreckage was taken away by the Army Maintenance unit from Carluke and nothing was left. Dave went back later in the tractor and retrieved the items of which he gave me the section you are having for your collection.

"When we all found out later that the pilot was the German deputy leader under Hitler we really couldn't believe it!"

It is estimated that the fuselage will fetch £3,000 when it goes under the hammer at auction house Bonhams in New York next Thursday.

Several other pieces of the plane still exist, with one engine at the RAF Museum in London and the other in the Imperial War Museum in London.


Consultant: Commercial service not likely to return to Lake Tahoe Airport (KTVL), South Lake Tahoe, California

Attracting airline carriers back to Lake Tahoe Airport to restore the commercial passenger service that ended in 2000 would likely require large public or private subsidies that could total as much as $2 million per year.

“It appears to us it’s unlikely to have commercial service return to South Lake Tahoe in the 20-year forecast period,” said Michael Hotaling, vice president of C&S Companies. “Is that an absolute? No. Is there a potential to do something? Maybe. But it would largely be driven by subsidies.”

C&S Companies of San Diego is working with South Lake Tahoe officials on a $350,000 master plan study for the city’s general aviation airport. They held a second public meeting on that process Thursday.

The Federal Aviation Administration is paying for 90 percent of the study’s cost. Master plans are an airport planning tool FAA requires for airports it funds. Lake Tahoe Airport’s last master plan was completed in 1992.

South Lake Tahoe’s proximity to Reno and Sacramento airports and major airline industry changes over the past 14 years are largely responsible for the difficulty of restoring commercial service to Lake Tahoe Airport, Hotaling said.

The number of major carriers operating in the United States has dwindled from seven to three, while the number of low-cost carriers has shrunk from six to three. Jet fuel prices have increased from 78 cents to $3.05 per gallon and airlines are much more selective about where they operate, targeting passenger load rates of at least 83 percent now compared to 67 percent in 2000.

Analyzing the feasibility of restoring commercial service, C&S Companies looked at Mammoth Yosemite Airport, which offers commercial flights to and from San Francisco and Los Angeles. With passenger load rates of 52 percent for San Francisco and 59 percent for Los Angeles, that area offers carrier subsidies estimated at about $1.5 million to $2 million per year.

With the return of commercial service unlikely, the question becomes what to do with Lake Tahoe Airport, and how best to use it.

Preliminary forecasts envision limited growth in Lake Tahoe Airport’s general aviation use, with annual flight operations increasing from about 24,000 now to about 29,000 over the next 20 years. Flight operations include both landings and takeoffs.

“If we want to have commercial airport service it’s likely to take about a $2 million subsidy. If the community doesn’t want to subsidize the airport to bring more tourists in, then what is the next best thing for the airport? That’s where we are right now,” Lake Tahoe Airport Manager Sherry Miller said.

Lake Tahoe Airport receives subsidies of about $300,000 each year from South Lake Tahoe’s general fund — a figure that has been reduced from about $600,000.

City Manager Nancy Kerry on Wednesday suggested asking El Dorado and Douglas counties to help fund the airport because visitors it draws also benefit their communities.

Kerry said city officials have heard strong opinions from some people who want to see commercial service restored.

“But as we get into the facts, it would take a lot of money. And we have lots of other infrastructure needs and other places to put it. I’ve looked for the $2.5 million but I can’t find it,” Kerry said about the city budget. “That would mean going to the business community. Anybody know of a business in town that might want to fork over a couple million dollars?”

Aviation demand forecasts, facility needs, and public input will help drive the creation of several development alternatives for Lake Tahoe Airport. The process ends with a proposed airport layout plan with a demand-driven improvement schedule and maintenance and funding plans for South Lake Tahoe City Council to consider adopting.

Wednesday’s meeting also touched on closure of Lake Tahoe Airport. That’s an outcome some people have said they want to see pursued.

South Lake Tahoe could pursue that option, Hotaling said, but there’s a formal process and the final decision would be up to FAA. Closure also requires paying back money FAA has given the city to develop its airport.

Grant assurances that come with FAA funding require airports to remain open for the life of funded improvements, or for up to 20 years. Over the last 20 years, South Lake Tahoe has accepted more than $18 million in FAA grant money. More than $13 million of that has been accepted in the last seven years.

City officials continue to pursue FAA funding. On South Lake Tahoe City Council’s June 3 agenda is a resolution authorizing grant applications for $1.5 million in grants to reconstruct one-third of the ramp, reseal taxiway joints and runway cracks, create a pavement maintenance management program and complete an obstruction study. 


Google balloon hit power lines in Harrah area - Washington

HARRAH, Wash. — A high-tech, high-altitude balloon belonging to Google crashed in a mint field not far from the intersection of Harrah and Fort roads, where it got tangled in power lines early Thursday.

It knocked out power to a small number of homes in the area when it crashed, around 1 a.m., according to Bob Gravely, a spokesman for Pacific Power. A utility employee responded to the area, he said.

“There was what appeared to be a weather balloon with blinking lights entangled in the power lines off Harrah Road,” Gravely said.

Everything was cleared by 6 a.m. he added.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed to the Yakima Herald-Republic on Thursday that Google had notified the agency that their device was descending Wednesday night, so that it could ensure that all aircraft stayed safely out of its path.

Google declined to provide details.

But, the company is developing solar-powered balloons that can be used to broadcast a wireless Internet signal in regions that lack traditional access. Known as Project Loon, the balloons are designed to float high in the atmosphere, above commercial air space.

Robert Smith, a Vancouver resident who alerted the Herald-Republic about the falling balloon, has been tracking several of the devices floating over the northwest region via radar, just for fun, since he learned about the technology.

He said that on the radar at 11 p.m., it appear that the balloon was falling about 2,000 feet per minute.

According to the project’s website, each balloon is equipped with a parachute to slow its descent in case of an unexpected landing. Project technicians try to recover the devices, so the electronic parts can be reused, but it remains unknown whether Google staffers drove to Harrah to recover these remains. 

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Pilot builds Bell 47 helicopter for Missoula aviation museum

Missoula’s aviation museum has itself a whirlybird.

Maybe you’ve seen Bell 47 helicopters like this, on “M*A*S*H” reruns, if nowhere else.

Ron Gipe has been on the inside looking out of their bubble cockpits for more than four decades, logging 30,000-plus hours in them and counting.

“The best of the best,” a fellow pilot called him.

Gipe spent five years in the early 1970s with Johnson Flying Service of Missoula, hauling fire crews, spraying weeds, building lookouts and tempting fate.

On Thursday, he oversaw the transport of a Bell 47 G3B1 from his hangar in Lakeside to the Montana Museum of Mountain Flying at the Missoula airport. The copter, crowned by two 19-foot rotor blades, was maneuvered by hand into the museum hangar by volunteers.

They tucked it next to the only other chopper, an Air Force Huey, on loan from Minuteman Aviation and the kind Gipe flew in Vietnam.

The Bell 47 becomes the 13th aircraft in the flying museum, which was opened in 2002. The collection’s centerpiece is the giant DC-3 that flew smokejumpers to their deaths in the tragic Mann Gulch fire in 1949. Their remains were flown back to Missoula on a Bell 47.

The Bell 47 is an especially good get for Mel Guerrera, a museum volunteer who as chief helicopter pilot for Johnson Flying was responsible for hiring Gipe in 1970.

“This is something that we had to have, and it just was not easy to come by until Ron volunteered to build us one,” Guerrera said.

Gipe said he built the non-operational 1966 model from “lots of parts and pieces” he had lying around his hangar at Lakeside Helicopter, the business he’s operated for a third of a century. Like the other parts, the rotor blades are past their time limits. One came as a gift from a company in Stockton, California, that Gipe has been sending his helicopters to for years. A set of operational blades cost upward of $50,000 and a functional Bell 47, while rare these days, is worth half a million dollars.

“This is a pretty historical helicopter,” Guerrera said. “To begin with, it was the first helicopter that was approved by the FAA for civilian use back in 1947.”

It was the first used for crop spraying, the first to cross the Alps, the first to be used by all branches of the military. NASA used the Bell 47 to help simulate a lunar module for astronaut training.


Johnson Flying purchased two of the earliest models, probably soon after the Bell 47 came on the market after World War II. Hall of Fame pilot Jack Hughes, the first licensed helicopter pilot in Montana, flew the Bell 47 for Johnson and later became president of the company.

“It didn’t look like this,” Guerrera said of the earliest Bell 47. “It had only half a bubble and wooden rotor blades. But they were the first helicopters in Montana, this basic model.”

For three decades, Johnson continuously upgraded its helicopter fleet, operating as many as 10 Bell 47s at one time, Guerrera said. By the time Gipe came home from Vietnam and got on with Johnson, he could sit in the bubble of a Bell 47 G3B1.

“They were were turbocharged and they were a real good high-altitude machine,” Gipe said. “The service ceiling was like 18,000 feet on it. There were people that did a lot of work at 10,000 to 12,000 feet.

Gipe once took his to 20,000 feet, “just to see what it was like,” he said.

Nearly four miles high, “you didn’t feel like you were even moving,” he reported,

Contrast that with Gipe’s favorite work – crop spraying. Utility wires, fences and the liability associated with drift make it the riskiest thing he does.

“They used to think you had to be dragging your skids through the crops, but it’s pretty standard to be 10 to 15 feet up when you’re spraying with the new sprayers and nozzles they’ve got,” he said.

GPS guidance systems have changed spraying, Gipe added. “It records every swath you make so you can see every skip you had and you can go back and do it (again).”

Now 68, Gipe was forced to “retire” from flying after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2008.

“I pretty much thought I was done, so I sold all my helicopters and business and stuff,” he said.

He underwent two stem-cell transplants in Seattle. Unable to fly upon his return, Gipe turned to building another Bell 47 as therapy, starting from the skids and building up.

It was, he said, “a lot of fun.”

“That kind of got him through the down time,” his wife Kathy said. “He just had to have something to do.”

Gipe was cancer-free for two years. He’s battling a recurrence now with medication, but pronounced himself “doing fine” this week.

In fact, he’s back in the business of flying. Inspired by his project, Gipe has purchased two more helicopters and has resumed spraying and other work.

Kathy Gipe watched as her husband climbed behind the controls of his museum piece Thursday for a photo-op.

“I wondered if he’d get to finish it at times, I really did,” she said. “But as you can see, he feels pretty good. He just keeps going. No keeping him down.”

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Weapons firings, aircraft noise part of Ranger training exercise

Training ranges and skies over Fort Benning will be busy with aircraft overhead and Rangers on the ground as part of a joint training exercise.

In addition to activity at Fort Benning and near the Columbus area, the routine training also will be at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah and Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta beginning Monday through June 13, a public affairs spokeswoman said Friday. About 800 soldiers will take part in the training exercise.

Units taking part in the training include 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Hunter Army Airfield, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment from Fort Campbell, Clarksville, Ky., and the Air Force Special Operations Command from Hurlburt Field in Mary Esther, Fla.

The joint training with units is not new at Fort Benning. “They have been training for many years,” said spokeswoman Elsie Jackson.

Helicopters and fixed wing aircraft will be in the area. Training ammunition and other devices will make the exercise as realistic as possible.

Officials said the helicopters and aircraft will be flying low during night exercise, increasing air traffic and noise with the operation. Measures will be taken to reduce the amount of noise from the exercise.

“There should be little impact to the Fort Benning community,” said Tracy Bailey, a public affairs spokeswoman for the 75th Ranger Regiment.

The training is aimed at maintaining soldiers at a high level of readiness.

To conduct the exercise, safety surveys and risk assessment are prepared before and during the military operations.

The 75th Ranger Regiment, which includes the 3rd Battalion based at Fort Benning, is a lethal, agile and versatile special operations force that conducts forcible entry and other combat operations. To test the readiness of the units, such exercises are the best method to test their capabilities.

Anyone with questions about the training should contact the Public Affairs Office for the 75th Ranger Regiment at 706-545-4260.


Airport board stipends total $140,000: 'Volunteer' members were paid to go to holiday mixers, Hawaii trips and more

For her attendance at a holiday mixer on behalf of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority this past winter, Lemon Grove Mayor Mary Sessom was paid $200.

She received $200 more in March for representing the airport at a Rotary lunch.

The authority has paid Sessom $10,000 since July 2012 as part of a commissioner-compensation program that cost the flying public more than $140,000, according to a review by U-T Watchdog.

Authority officials say the program amounts to a tiny fraction of the agency’s $127 million budget — less than 0.1 percent — and the money is well spent.

“This is a worthwhile investment to ensure that the Airport Authority is governed by informed, engaged board members who are making important policy decisions on behalf of San Diego County residents and air travelers,” spokeswoman Rebecca Bloomfield said via email.

Commissioners and committee members receive $200 per meeting or event, up to eight per month, as a way of compensating them for their volunteer work.

The Watchdog examined commissioner compensation from July 2012 through March 2014.

Chairman Robert Gleason topped the list with $38,211 in compensation and reimbursements since July 2012, including $500 a month he collects for running the board.

One payment included a stipend of $600 for three of the days Gleason spent in Hawaii at an airport conference.

Board member Bruce Boland sought and received $200 for attending the swearing in ceremony for former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. He also billed $200 to attend an event celebrating Japan Airlines flights from Lindbergh Field.

The airport authority issued its overall statement about the stipends, in general, on behalf of the board. Some members provided individual comments as well.

“Serving on the Airport Authority board is a complicated, time-consuming job with significant responsibilities,” county Supervisor Greg Cox said. “Members are compensated for the time and work involved.”

Cox, who is paid $143,031 a year plus a $1,000 monthly car allowance as a member of the Board of Supervisors, was paid an additional $10,600 from the airport from July 2012 and March 2014.

Airport records show Cox billed the authority $200 in January 2013 for a legislative lunch.

San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez collected $5,800 for his service to the airport since July 2012. In a statement, his spokeswoman said he accepts stipends for commission and committee meetings only.

“Council member Alvarez fully carries out his responsibilities as an Airport Authority board member, in addition and separately from his duties as a council member (which requires additional time away from those duties to review and vote on all airport related policy),” the statement said.

Alvarez earns $75,386 as a San Diego council member and receives no monthly car allowance, his staff said.

Sessom indicated that events she attends outside airport commission meetings call for strict preparation.

“Did you go to the mixer or the Rotary lunch? I didn’t think so,” Sessom wrote via email. “Then you don’t know the preparation required and time out of my schedule.”

As mayor, Sessom collects a $1,234 monthly stipend and $150 car allowance from the city of Lemon Grove.

Commissioner Tom Smisek, a former three-term Coronado mayor, was paid $18,800 in various airport stipends during the nearly two-year period examined by the Watchdog.

He bills the airport for regular appearances before the Coronado City Council, where he updates his former colleagues on airport business.

Bloomfield said airport users benefit from commissioners appearing at public meetings.

“Board members are designated to officially represent the Airport Authority at these meetings. It’s essential that the Airport Authority has a voice in these public discussions,” she said.

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Gnoss Field Airport (KDVO) needs tweaks, but here to stay, grand jury says: Jury recommends changes to security, financial reporting

The county airport at Gnoss Field is well-managed, beloved by many, resented by some, could use some improvements and is not going away, says the Marin County Civil Grand Jury.

"We see no reason to close Gnoss. In fact, there is no option but to keep the airport," the grand jury said in a report released late last week. "The Federal Aviation Administration has spent millions of dollars supporting the airport, and the county ... is obligated to keep it in place."

The report was mostly positive. The grand jury did make minor recommendations mostly focused on security improvements. The report also recommended that the county improve accounting of its enterprise fund to make sure the airport's revenues and expenses are reported within that fund and not the general fund.

The 120-acre airport north of Novato is home base for 300 aircraft, most of them privately owned, and it hosts about 95,000 take-offs and landings per year. An ambitious $17 million plan to improve the airport by extending the runway 1,100 feet is currently under consideration, though the plans depend largely on federal funding.

The airport provides "the advantage of convenience, the ability for some businesses to handle travel needs, and a lot of fun for those who enjoy the world of flying" to those who use it, the report said. In a previous grand jury report, the number of people using the facility was defined as less than one-tenth of 1 percent of Marin's population.

The report suggested that Marin residents "visit your airport," and praised the facility's employees and manager for their knowledge and experience. The grand jury described the airport's physical condition as "adequate."

The airport has four security and safety issues, plus one financial problem, the report said. The airport has only one full-time employee, the manager, who works five days a week, and two part-time employees, the grand jury noted. It recommended increased staffing to provide seven-day-a-week, 24-hour coverage.

Second, the grand jury recommended improving the airport's fencing and its video surveillance system to improve security. The report did note that the Transportation Safety Administration has determined that the probability of a major incident at a general aviation airport like Gnoss is relatively low.

Parts of the report were tongue in cheek, particularly in regard to the fencing issue. "Although the Grand Jury members decided not to try to scale the fences ourselves, we believe that a person with reasonable agility and a desire to enter the airport could do so at virtually any spot along the periphery," the report said.

The grand jury also recommended keeping gates and door locked at all times, locking hangar doors in unattended areas, posting emergency numbers and ensuring easy access to phones in various locations.

Third, "We recognize that there is potential to use the airport in times of disaster, but failed to find any evidence that the airport is ... included in the county's emergency plans," the report noted.

Hence, the grand jury recommended that Department of Public Works staff complete an emergency response plan using the template provided by the Department of Homeland Security.

Fourth, the report noted that the runway will likely need repairs before the proposed 2018 date of a possible runway extension. It recommended that the county inspect the runway and make needed changes including resurfacing as necessary.

Noise is a concern of those living in neighborhoods near the airport, and 90 people signed a petition asking for a review of the noise from planes taking off and landing, the report said.

"The airport website shows altered landing and takeoff patterns to minimize over flights of the neighborhoods," the report said, adding that "several interviewees told the Grand Jury that the current airport manager speaks to each pilot reported to have flown over homes and provides directions to avoid doing so."

With noise in mind, the grand jury recommended that the county keep in touch regularly with residents of the Rush Creek and Bahia neighborhoods in the vicinity "to address noise complaints and efforts undertaken by the county to reduce incidents."

While the report had many recommendations, none seemed to reflect serious problems. Much of the report took an upbeat tone, with one section suggesting that residents "some Saturday or Sunday, load up the family and drive out to Gnoss Field to watch a few takeoffs and landings."

Dan Jensen, the airport's manager, said he had not yet had time to digest the report and had no comment, though "we'll definitely provide the grand jury with a response."

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Pilot mad but unhurt: Gnoss Field Airport (KDVO), Novato, California

Homebuilt plane skids off runway in Novato

A pilot was unhurt when his  homebuilt  plane went off the Gnoss Field runway in Novato Friday morning while trying to land.

The small plane, called a 1X, plowed through some weeds beside the runway but stayed upright and was undamaged in the 9:40 a.m. mishap.

The unidentified pilot was flying alone.

"We didn't need an ambulance or any emergency equipment," said airport manager Dan Jensen, who described the pilot as "just damn mad." 


Stanley Rafael Hill: Pilot in cocaine-smuggling case charges news crew

HOUSTON (NBC/KPRC) — A commercial pilot accused of smuggling cocaine through George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, was less than thrilled to see news cameras outside the courthouse on Thursday.

He charged at a photographer and then tried to run away.

But Reporter Joel Eisenbaum went running after him demanding answers.

Stanley Rafael Hill, 49, is accused of smuggling nearly 150 grams of cocaine in his stomach while in his pilot’s uniform on Saturday.

The commercial pilot is accused of swallowing 62 bags of cocaine before boarding a flight from Bogota, Colombia, to Houston.

He was a passenger on the United Airlines flight to Houston, according to a source.

But the McKenny, Texas, man may have bitten off more than he could chew on this trip because in Houston, one of the bags may have burst inside him, a source says.

And court documents support that notion, saying the regional airline pilot called 911 himself and was transported to a Houston hospital near Bush Airport.

Hill began to pass pellets that later field-tested positive for cocaine, the federal charge reads.

Strangely, the whereabouts of the remaining pellets are unknown.

Hill wasn’t interested in answering questions about those missing pellets, but he may be compelled to answer questions in the coming weeks.

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How Tom Horton Shaped American Airlines: As Chairman Prepares to Leave the Airline, He Looks Back on Merger That Enriched Shareholders

The Wall Street Journal

By Susan Carey

Updated May 30, 2014 5:04 p.m. ET

 Tom Horton, chairman of American Airlines Group Inc., wasn't always a cheerleader for the merger that turned his company into the country's biggest carrier.

But as he prepares to leave the airline where he has worked for a quarter of a century, he can claim partial credit for a deal that achieved a rare feat for bankrupt companies: enriching shareholders.

Equity holders in AMR Corp., the former American parent that merged with US Airways to come out of bankruptcy in December, retained about 40% of the combined company's stock, an extremely rare outcome in Chapter 11. Creditors also were fully repaid, with interest. American's stock has risen more than 70% in the past five months, giving the company a market value of nearly $28.9 billion.

"I was pretty agnostic about whether to do a deal or not," Mr. Horton recalled in an interview ahead of a board meeting on Tuesday after which he will hand over the chairman title and depart American. But he said he is pleased by the outcome: "I think we're off to a good start here."

Mr. Horton became chief executive of AMR the day it filed for bankruptcy-court protection in 2011. The terms of the $17 billion merger that provided its exit from Chapter 11 required him to cede the CEO slot to Doug Parker, the former CEO of US Airways and Mr. Horton's office mate in the American finance department in the mid-1980s when they were both fresh out of business school.

The deal gave Mr. Horton a temporary appointment as nonexecutive chairman. He said he has worked with Mr. Parker in the five months since the merger to bring the new board up to speed and help the company move ahead on integration. Tuesday's meeting comes a day before American has its first annual meeting as a new company.

"It is obviously a transitional role," said the 53-year-old executive, who added that he hasn't decided what to do next. A lanky marathoner and avid fisherman, Mr. Horton will have a bit more time for those pursuits and, in fact, he recently fished for tarpon off Florida's Gulf Coast.

Free time could be an adjustment, but Mr. Horton can take comfort in his severance: $12.7 million in cash and fully vested American shares worth $6.8 million, plus lifetime travel benefits. He also holds another $8.4 million of American shares, based on the current price.

The two airlines had proposed a severance plan for him worth about $20 million, but the U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge overseeing the AMR case said the payment wasn't allowed, leaving the merged company the option of paying Mr. Horton after the fact. A spokesman for Mr. Horton confirmed the current severance plan.

Getting to the merger was a tough road for Mr. Horton. He resisted US Airways' overtures for most of a year. He said he needed time to judge the value of an independent American stepping out of bankruptcy before entertaining other scenarios. But American's creditors and unions quickly got behind US Airways and he was forced to take a look.

"I felt in the fullness of time, in or after the restructuring, American was going to do a deal with US Airways or somebody else," he said. "But we had to make sure our own house was in order." By late 2012, it was obvious that the merger would create even more value. The companies formally announced the deal in February of last year, but the closing was delayed by a Justice Department suit to block it. A settlement was reached last November.

Mr. Horton joined AMR in 1985, rising to chief financial officer in 2000. He left the company two years later after engineering American's takeover of Trans World Airlines. He took the top finance job at AT&T Corp, where he got an even bigger taste of M&A, as AT&T was acquired by SBC Communications Inc. He rejoined American in 2006, becoming president in 2010. Since 2008, he also has been a director at Qualcomm Inc.,  a maker of wireless communications gear.

Jason Hanold, CEO of boutique executive-search firm Hanold Associates, said Mr. Horton is likely to have many options after American, given his relative youth, financial background, and experience with other industries and bankruptcy restructuring. Private equity, for instance, would enable Mr. Horton to use his knowledge to work on turnarounds and deals, said Mr. Hanold, who isn't involved with Mr. Horton or American.

Mr. Horton said he will start evaluating new opportunities only after he leaves American, and will "take it an inch at a time." Both joining another public company and entering private equity are possibilities he doesn't rule out, he said. His next move, he said, is to take a family vacation.

Mr. Horton expressed pride in perhaps his most visible legacy at the new American: the new paint job—a stylized red, white and blue flag draping each aircraft's tail. He said the competition was down to two and he chose the one he preferred. When Mr. Parker early this year allowed the combined workforce to vote on whether to keep the new tail or return to American's old "AA" logo, a majority sided with Mr. Horton. "I love it," he said.


Jet blast from American Airlines plane damages Delta Boeing 777 at Los Angeles International Airport (KLAX), California

Jet blast from an American Airlines Boeing 737-800 dislodged some construction barriers at Los Angeles International Airport, causing them to strike an engine of a nearby Delta Air Lines jet, airport officials said Friday.

The incident at about 10:20 p.m. Thursday was caused by American Airlines Flight 2415, which was arriving from Miami.

Air from the American plane’s engines caused damage to the nearby Delta Air Lines Boeing 777, which had been scheduled to fly to Sydney, Australia.

“The barricades struck underneath the 777’s left engine,” LAX spokeswoman Amanda Parsons said in an email. “Due to the damage to the aircraft engine cowling, Delta operations canceled the flight.”

American, which uses Terminal 4, and Delta, which uses Terminal 5, share an alleyway at LAX.

Parsons said the incident is under investigation.


Don't call 9-1-1: Plane crash drill to be held at Missoula International Airport (KMSO) on Saturday, May 31st

Missoula County, in conjunction with the Missoula International Airport, will be conducting an exercise to simulate a plane crash at the airport on Saturday.

The drill is designed to test multi-agency coordination for a disaster occurring in Missoula County.

More than 100 volunteer role players, responders and agency personnel will participate in the drill.

Responders will have the opportunity to test their ability to suppress a fuselage fire and triage and treat plane crash victims.

Local hospitals and the American Red Cross will exercise their family assistance center plans, as well as patient identification and tracking between the two facilities.

The drill will begin at 9 a.m. at the Missoula International Airport.

Smoke from the training prop may be visible, and numerous emergency response vehicles will be on site at the west end of the airport.

At 1 p.m., the drill will move to the two local hospitals.

Please do not call 9-1-1, as this is a drill.


New Bombardier Jet Suffers Major Engine Failure: Pratt & Whitney Engine Problem Could Have Consequences for Other Plane Makers

The Wall Street Journal

By Jon Ostrower

Updated May 30, 2014 5:10 p.m. ET

A Bombardier Inc. CSeries test aircraft suffered a major failure of one of its two engines during a ground test Thursday, halting flight trials of a new commercial jet that aims to challenge the dominance of Boeing Co. and Airbus Group NV.

The unknown problem that caused the failure on the new PW1500G engine, developed by the Pratt & Whitney unit of United Technologies Corp., could have knock-on consequences for other plane makers, which have ordered more than 5,500 of the engine type for new aircraft. Those companies include including Airbus, Embraer SA and Mitsubishi Aircraft and others.

Pratt is competing head-to-head with General Electric Co. in developing new, quieter and more fuel-efficient engines for the multitrillion-dollar single-aisle jetliner market.

Bombardier has already delayed the CSeries jet's entry into service until the second half of 2015, adding a year to the schedule because of software issues and the need for more testing.

The company said that its lead CSeries test jet suffered an engine-related incident during ground maintenance testing. Bombardier said it was investigating with the support of Pratt, and wouldn't resume flight tests until the probe was completed.

The incident occurred on the Canadian plane maker's lead flight test aircraft at Bombardier's assembly plant at Mirabel, Québec. According to two people familiar with the incident, the failure inside the engine was "uncontained" and debris spewed out of its casing.

There were no injuries during the incident, said the Bombardier spokesman, who said both the engine and the airframe were damaged, but the extent was still being assessed.

Canada's Transportation Safety Board said it had sent an investigator to Mirabel to probe what it described as an engine failure. Pratt said Friday that it was working closely with Bombardier to understand the incident.

The single-aisle CSeries, which flew for the first time in September, is designed to seat between 100 and 150 passengers and compete with the smallest jets offered by Airbus and Boeing. Bombardier already makes smaller regional jets, turboprops and business jets.

The new Pratt engine uses a geared system to let different parts of the engine spin at different speeds, offering better fuel consumption than traditional designs.

The company has staked its growth on the engine, and is preparing for a rapid increase in shipments over the next several years, said David Brantner, president of the commercial engines division, in a recent interview.

The CSeries had 203 firm orders as of March 31, and the bulk of the new engines selected by customers are destined for the new Airbus A320neo. Pratt delivered a set of "compliance engines" for testing to Airbus in mid-May, Mr. Brantner said. Those engines should be ready to enter airline service by the fourth quarter of 2015, Pratt officials said recently.

Earlier this month, Pratt officials said the new engines had completed more than 9,000 hours of testing, including more than 1,300 hours of flight testing.

The engine was certified by Transport Canada, the country's aviation regulator, in February 2013. Such incidents are rare during testing, but engine issues can setback certification schedules.

A Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC engine for a Boeing 787 Dreamliner suffered an uncontained failure in August 2010, traced to excessive engine oil during a ground test at the company's Derby, U.K. facility. The failure on the engine due for one of Boeing's test aircraft slowed its planned deliveries by several weeks and was one of several delays that slowed Boeing Dreamliner development.

The success of the CSeries is central to the growth of Bombardier's aerospace division, which had sales of $9.4 billion last year. The company has said the CSeries, should generate an estimated $5 billion to $8 billion in annual revenue when it reaches full production of 120 jets a year.

"It's very significant to the company," Canaccord Genuity analyst David Tyerman said.

Bombardier, like other jet makers, builds some cushion into its testing program and may still be able to meet its latest launch deadline, said analysts. Bombardier plans to introduce the CS100 jet—the smaller of the two planned CSeries planes—in the second half of 2015 and then the larger CS300 jet six months later.

Still, Bombardier has told investors some potential customers want more data and information about the continuing testing program before placing any orders, which could further delay their buying decisions, analysts said.

Bombardier shares were recently down 5.6% at 3.57 Canadian dollars, having been trading at C$3.77 before The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday's incident. United Technologies shares were down 10 cents at $116.24.

—Ted Mann, Ben Dummett, and Paul Vieira contributed to this article.


Aviation experts world-wide will spend three weeks at Mildura Airport testing a new prototype commercial aircraft assembled in Gippsland to be exported globally

The new GA10 utility aircraft – equipped with a Rolls-Royce turbo-prop engine and space for 10 people – is an upgraded version of its predecessor,  the GA8 Airvan.

GippsAero pilots from Gippsland, along with National Test Pilot School vice-president Gregory Lewis from California, US, and international engineers, will put the new plane through rigorous testing, to become compliant with international safety standards.

Aerospace automotive design and manufacturing company Mahindra Aerospace  will certify the new aircraft.

It’s aim is to have the new plane on the market by 2015.

The GA8 aircraft was fitted with a piston engine and seated just eight, with more than 200 sold world-wide for tourism purposes in Africa and Australia.

It was also used for freight to islands and by missionary operators to access northern Australia, as well as in Papua New Guinea and by the US Civil Air Patrol.

Some police forces have used them, as have fire departments for fire spotting and patrols, as well as skydiving companies.

“This aircraft is the mini-van of the aviation world and is capable of a lot of different uses,” GippsAero pilot David Wheatland said.

Mr Wheatland, formerly from Mildura, said the prototype GA10 aircraft would be flown about two or three times a day for about two hours, with a safety chase plane behind it.

The chase plane records footage of the prototype.

“This includes crash testing, we crash test seats and interior parts but don’t crash test the whole airplane,” he said.

“During the testing we’re obliged to carry out a lot of flying to investigate how the aircraft can be safely loaded, how it can be safely flown, what the take-off and landing incline performance is.

“All of those things have to comply with defined international standards based on the US Federal Aviation Administration, which is the world standard for these sorts of things.”

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Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority seeks clarification for delay in MA60 operation

KATHMANDU: The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has directed the concerned government bodies to expedite the process of putting Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC)’s new China-made aircraft into operation.

The anti-corruption watchdog had today invited officials of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA), Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) and NAC to its office to discuss the reasons behind the delay in commercial operation of MA60, an aircraft manufactured by China-based Avic International Holding.

Joint Secretary Ranjan Krishna Aryal had represented MoCTCA during the meeting, while two CAAN officials, including Deputy Director General Sanjiv Gautam, had participated in the talks. NAC Managing Director Madan Kharel also took part in the meeting.

“The CIAA sought the reason behind the delay in beginning of commercial operation of the aircraft and issued verbal instruction to expedite the process,” an official who took part in the meeting told The Himalayan Times.

NAC had imported the 58-seater MA60 on April 27 to bolster its domestic operations.

Soon after its arrival, NAC had caused quite a stir by announcing a plan to reduce domestic air fare by as much as 50 percent. But after creating that hype, the airline company has not been able to do much, and is still making rounds of CAAN, the civil aviation sector regulator, to upgrade Air Operator Certificate, and obtain air worthiness certificate and radio mobile license.

Some of the reasons for the delay in commercial operation of the aircraft are NAC’s inability to get English-speaking instructor pilots and an engineer with a type rating for maintaining the MA60.

As per the civil aviation rules, NAC has to get engineers who are certified in maintaining MA60. These engineers will then have to train Nepali engineers for up to six months.

NAC also has to get instructor pilots with Level 4 English proficiency, who will have to accompany Nepali pilots for up to 100 hours of flight. Earlier, the Chinese company, which had sold the aircraft to NAC, had been unable to find English-speaking instructor pilots.

“However, the situation is different now. We recently submitted names of an engineer and two instructor pilots who meet the criteria set by CAAN. Despite this, we have not been allowed to use the aircraft for commercial purpose,” NAC Spokesperson Ram Hari Sharma said.

He further said: “We have been told that CAAN is communicating with the Chinese civil aviation regulatory body. But we have not been told what these discussions are about. We want CAAN to give us the exact reasons for this delay as we have invested so much in bringing this aircraft.”


Ornge, Ontario's air ambulance service, faces 17 labor code charges: Charges relate to May 2013 crash that killed 4 Ornge helicopter crew members

Ornge, Ontario's air ambulance service, has been charged with 17 offenses under the Canadian Labor Code, CBC News learned Friday.
The charges were officially laid on Thursday by the Federal Ministry of Labor. 

All 17 charges relate to an incident that occurred on May 31, 2013, when four Ornge employees — two pilots and two paramedics — were killed after the Sikorsky S-76A helicopter they were traveling in crashed one kilometre from an airport in Moosonee, Ont., after taking off in the early morning hours. 

The crew was on the way to pick up a patient on the Attawapiskat First Nation reserve in northern Ontario, and was flying in darkness at the time of the crash. 

A court document obtained by CBC News reveals that many of the charges relate directly to sections of the Canada Labour Code that govern green pilots operating aircraft together. 

The document alleges that Ornge permitted the pilots to fly the S-76A helicopter "without adequate training in the operation of that specific aircraft," failed to provide the pilots with "a means to enable them to maintain visual reference while operating at night," and that Donald Mark Filliter, the crew's captain, had "insufficient experience in night operations."

Filliter's pilot proficiency check in the helicopter was incomplete at the time of the crash, according to the charges laid out in the document, and in allowing Filliter and his first officer, Jacques Dupuy, to fly together, Ornge violated its own "green-on-green" pilot policy.

The embattled air ambulance service has also been charged with failure to ensure employee safety resulting in the death of the two pilots and failure to ensure that supervisors and managers had knowledge of the Canada Labour Code.

In October of last year, it was revealed that officials at the company were warned by a safety officer at the base in Moosonee that the combination of inexperienced pilots and nighttime operations would likely result in a fatal accident.

Company statement 

"Ornge confirms it has received a summons with respect to charges laid in connection with the accident under the Canada Labour Code’s occupational health and safety provisions," reads a statement provided by the company to CBC News.

"Ornge is currently reviewing this documentation, and we cannot comment further as this matter is before the courts."

In November, investigators from Transport Canada handed down seven directions to Ornge following its investigation into the Moosonee crash.

The company was ordered to comply with the directions by May 31, 2014.

Ontario Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne released an email statement on the charges Friday afternoon.

"We take these proceedings very seriously, as I’m sure Ornge’s leadership will. Since the incident, Ornge has been co-operating fully with all authorities, including the federal government, by responding to all directions, and it will continue to do so," Wynne said.

News of the charges comes amid an ongoing Ontario Provincial Police criminal investigation into the alleged mishandling of government funds by the company's top officials.

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Surviving a float plane crash is now partially your responsibility: Transportation Safety Board of Canada

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – It’s less of a worry on larger flights like those used by Harbour Air, but until Transport Canada brings in better safety regulations for smaller float planes, the onus is apparently on you to keep yourself safe.

That’s according to one investigator with the Transportation Safety Board, who says there’s no word when things will change.

Two of the recommendations still in the air are better exits for emergency egress and that passengers wear flotation devices throughout an entire flight.

Bill Yearwood with the TSB says until things change, passengers should get familiar with where everything is when they’re on board.

“What Transport Canada is doing to try and encourage people to do is to pay more attention to the passenger safety briefings and to encourage the operators to give more detailed and more tactile passenger safety briefings.”

He adds passengers should be educating themselves before stepping on board.

“The aircraft have the required emergency exits and at the time of their certification, they were designed for mostly emergencies on land. The board identified that in water, passengers can become disoriented and egress can become more difficult.”

“For these water emergencies, passengers just have to pay way more attention and really go through it in their mind as to what they would do, so they don’t lose any time trying to learn it during the emergency,” says Yearwood.

He says retrofitting older planes is not really an option right now.

In Vancouver’s harbor alone, there are about 33,000 float plane trips every year, carrying roughly 300,000 people.

Recent data from the TSB and the BC Coroners Service show over the last two decades, about 70 percent of the fatalities from aircraft crashes died from drowning, with half of the deceased being found still  submerged in the plane.


Jamestown Regional Airport (KJMS), North Dakota: SkyWest Airlines to begin commercial passenger airline service next week

When the first 50-seat jet airplane from United Airlines takes off around 1:15 p.m. June 5 from the Jamestown Regional Airport, it will signal the return of regular commercial passenger airline service to the airport for the first time since February.

Brandi Van Gilder, owner of Jamestown Travel, said she is looking forward to having reliable passenger air service back in Jamestown.

“The lack of commercial service has not affected our business,” she said. “It has not been convenient to our clients to not have an airline service to Jamestown for the past couple of months, but they have traveled to airports in the surrounding area.”

Having a jet passenger airplane service through a major carrier like United Airlines has provided a bonus for Van Gilder and the business’ customers. United Airlines is providing full code share through SkyWest Airlines. Full code share means people will be able to book flights out of James-town through United’s website and through third-party travel websites like Travelocity.

What this means for Van Gilder is that her business is able to offer more vacation package options for her customers. She said having flights to Denver International Airport will reduce air travel costs for customers.

“We have already been booking passengers at reasonable rates to Cancun, Phoenix, San Antonio and more,” Van Gilder said.

On Jan. 30, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the Essential Air Service bid for passenger air service to Jamestown and Devils Lake Regional airports to SkyWest Airlines. SkyWest Airlines is a regional airline that contracts with major air carriers like United, Delta and American airlines to provide commercial passenger service to airports that receive EAS.

SkyWest will receive $3.22 million annually for providing EAS to Devils Lake Regional Airport and $3.12 million annually for providing service to Jamestown Regional Airport. SkyWest Airlines will provide 11 nonstop roundtrip flights on 50-seat jet airplanes from United Airlines each week between Devils Lake and Jamestown airport to Denver International Airport.

According to a schedule provided by Jamestown Regional Airport Manager Matthew Leitner, there will be two flights on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and one flight on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Flights from Jamestown to Denver will leave around 8:10 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and come back from Denver to Jamestown around 11 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Early booking numbers

Leitner said he has been receiving a weekly report since April from SkyWest Airlines showing the number of tickets booked on United Airlines’ flights out of Jamestown and Devils Lake airports for each month. The last report, issued Tuesday, shows that 909 tickets were booked for June flights between Denver, Jamestown and Devils Lake. So far 670 tickets have been sold for flights in July.

Leitner said the way that SkyWest’s system is set up he doesn’t know exactly how many tickets have been booked for flights just to Jamestown Regional Airport. Once flights resume to Jamestown Regional Airport, Leitner will be able to keep track of the number of passengers getting on and off the United Airlines planes for SkyWest Airline.

“We’ll have monthly reports like we used to with Great Lakes Airlines,” he said.

Jim Boyd, Jamestown Regional Airport Authority chairman, said he expects the monthly numbers to show steady increases through the rest of the year.

“We have had very strong support from our larger employers in the area,” he said. “They are all very happy we’ve taken that next big step and gotten jet airplane service.”

Comparable flight costs

Leitner said he is pleased with how comparable flight costs are between Jamestown Regional Airport, Hector International Airport in Fargo and Bismarck Municipal Airport in Bismarck.

Using the United Airlines website,, the cost for a roundtrip flight between Jamestown Regional Airport and Denver International Airport, with the flight leaving June 27 and returning June 30, was $220 on Thursday afternoon.

The same flight booked for the same time period from Fargo was $525 and was $458 from Bismarck.

Using the United Airlines website to get a price for a flight from Jamestown to Dallas, Texas, with the flight leaving July 25 and returning Aug. 1, the cost was $477. From Fargo the flight was $524 and $456 from Bismarck.

Leitner said there are many factors that go into travel decisions. One thing Jamestown Regional Airport has going for it is free parking. Hector International Airport in Fargo and Bismarck Municipal Airport each charge for parking.

Boyd said before he retired he used to do a lot of travel for work. He would fly out of Jamestown as often as he could, but sometimes cost dictated flying out of Fargo or Bismarck. He said on top of paying for parking, there is also the consideration of facing a long drive after a long flight.

Getting ready

Since February, workers with SkyWest and United Airlines have been working to get the Jamestown airport terminal ready for daily use again. Leitner said new equipment, like a de-icing truck and a ramp that provides passengers easy access to the jet airplanes, are ready for next week.

“We are excited and ready for the jet service to begin,” he said.


Fire-fighting aircraft stationed in northern lower peninsula

CADILLAC, Mich. (WZZM) -- An aircraft designed for fighting wildfires is posted at the Huron-Manistee National Forests.

The Bombardier CL-415 drops water directly on whatever's burning. It can do an average of nine water drops an hour, for a little over 14,500 gallons of water dropped. After a drop, the plane refills its tanks in 12 seconds.

This type of aircraft is used in the early stages of fighting a wildfire and differs from airtankers, which drop retardant in front of wildfires to slow them down.

The CL-415 drops water from 100 to 150 feet in the air, in a drop of up to 280 feet long by 65 feet wide. It can also put water down in a trail up to 400 feet long by 40 feet wide.


Something deadly in the air: Shocking video emerges of passenger exposed to toxic fumes on flight

Shocking video of a passenger who was exposed to toxic fumes on an American flight has shown the effect of breathing in fumes on an aircraft. 

Neurotoxins in tricresyl phosphate, or TCP, are known to affect the nervous system causing blurred vision, shaking, vomiting and memory loss.

In the video the elderly passenger said there was a blue mist and bad smell in the plane. The next day her body went into uncontrollable shakes, which kept coming back for six months.

Australian respiratory expert Dr Jonathan Burdon says: “There is one recorded case of a pilot saying to his co-pilot that he cannot remember how to land the plane after a fumes exposure.

“Recurrent exposure can lead to similar symptoms over a longer time frame,” he says.

Pilots and crew have been forced to stop working because of exposure.

But now studies overseas have also linked the fumes to carcinogens that have led to breast cancer in hosties and brain cancers in pilots.

Dr Burdon says he was frustrated by the aviation industry’s refusal to properly investigate the issue, which he likened to asbestos or smoking causing cancer.

“But then I remind myself that Galileo was right and nobody believed him at first,” he says.

Something deadly in the air

The Boeing 737 had taken off under full thrust from Melbourne and was levelling out when the flight attendant came into the cockpit to tell the pilots there was a bad smell at the back of the plane.

Immediately the first officer went onto oxygen but the pilot delayed, saying he didn’t think the smell was that bad.

The flight attendant returned to the back of the plane and started vomiting violently, so the pilot put on his oxygen mask and diverted the Cairns-bound Qantas flight to Canberra. The first officer was off work for weeks but the pilot could not return to flying for eight months.

They were the victims of what is known as aero-toxic syndrome — the giant secret none of the airlines want you, the passengers, to know about.

“Airlines have known about this for 50 years but nothing has been done about it,” says Dr Susan Michaelis, a former Australian pilot who is now head of research at the Global Cabin Air Quality Executive.

She collapsed from aerotoxic syndrome after repeated exposure to fumes in the cockpit of the BAe146 aircraft. She now believes exposure to those fumes also directly led to the breast cancer which forced her to have a double mastectomy last year.

The Air Transport Safety Bureau last week produced a report that said Australian aircrew and passengers had been exposed to fumes more than a 1000 times over the past five years. The exposures included everything from burnt toast to engine fumes and named the BAe146 as the dirtiest plane in the sky.

But independent expert analysis of the figures shows the aged Boeing 767, which is now being phased out by Qantas, had 123 fumes exposures from less than 20 planes between 2008 and 2013.

Qantas pilot Garry Wilson spent most of his career on the 767. He died two years ago at 47 from a brain tumor, leaving a wife and two teenage sons.

“We always thought it might have something to do with his job because there is no cancer in our family,” says his father Ron.

Qantas denies the 767 is a particularly dirty plane.

Qantas Director of Medical Services, Dr Ian Hosegood says that: “Fume incidences across the Qantas fleet are extremely rare, particularly those from engine oil.

“Extensive global research has been undertaken into cabin air quality and there is no evidence linking fume events with long-term health effects for passengers or crew.”

Virgin pilot Scott Wickland left a wife and two orphaned toddlers when he died of a brain tumor aged just 43.

“Scott breathed in fumes from the jets every time he did a walk-round check of the plane. I am sure that’s what killed him,” says his heartbroken brother Mark Wickland.

A Virgin spokesman says: “The safety of our team members is the number one priority for Virgin Australia.

“We continually review our practices and procedures to ensure they reflect the latest medical advice.”

But Dr Michaelis disagrees. She says the fumes that enter the cabin from superheated jet oil contain a toxic soup of chemicals that include neurotoxins. “Now research shows that these chemicals can cause cancer.”

The problem is in the design of modern aircraft. When Boeing produced its first 707 jet more than 50 years ago, it fed air into the cabin through a compressor on top of the engine. But then the boffins came up with a cheaper way.

It is called bleed air. Cold air from outside the plane is sucked into the engine, superheated and then cooled in the air-conditioning unit and pumped into the cabin. But if there is an oil leak then fumes from the superheated jet oil get pumped in with the air the passengers and crew are breathing.

Robert Flitney is a UK-based sealing technology expert. He says the seals in jet engines were designed to leak, particularly during pressure changes during takeoff and landing.

“When compared with other industries sealing of potentially hazardous fluids, the aviation industry does not appear to have paid any attention to containment,” he says.

And what’s worse, a secret aviation industry memo seen by The Saturday Daily Telegraph makes it clear no one really knows exactly what is being pumped into airline cabins all over the world.

Jet oil contains a mix of toxins with tricresyl phosphate, or TCP, topping the list of organophosphates that can attack the nervous system. Studies from Japan have now linked them to certain cancers including breast cancer.

Studies of aircrew worldwide have found aircrew are up to five times more likely to develop some form of cancer, but the sample sizes have been small.

Former British Airways hostess Dee Passon has compiled a survey of the health of 1020 aircrew from around the world, including Australia. “My survey findings were that the incidence of cancer in crew is more than 10 times higher than the general population,” she says.

Professor Bernard Stewart, Scientific Advisor at Cancer Council Australia, says: “In terms of an increased risk of breast cancer among female aircrew the evidence is far from clear. It is credible that there would be an increased risk of breast cancer among flight crew. We have a credible exposure which is ionizing radiation.”

And he called for the incidence of brain cancer among pilots to be closely monitored. “It is credible that there would be an increased risk of brain cancer among pilots,” he says.

Former British Airways pilot Tristan Loraine has just premiered an Erin Brockovich-style movie on the aviation industry cover-up at the Cannes Film Festival.

He says: “A thousand people helped make this film to expose a serious health and flight safety issue that impacts aviation today. Funding from crews, crew unions and the traveling public around the world supported them — people who all want the film to help make air travel safer for everyone including the unborn.” The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association was one of the investors.

He flew regularly with Captain Tim Lindsay and both were exposed to fumes in the cockpit. Capt Loraine was medically retired with toxins in his blood but Capt Lindsay stayed on — and died from a brain tumor two years later.

Dr Michaelis says: “We need a proper independent study to put all these pieces of the jigsaw together and find out what we are breathing in on our aircraft.”

Story, video and photos:

Low Flying Helicopters: Mesa, Santa Barbara, California

Low flying helicopters are rattling windows on the Mesa, they've flown by at least 6 times.   Any particular reason being broadcast for this?  Not really news, just annoying. 

Private helicopter flying repeatedly over east Mesa way too low: less than 200 feet! 

Mesa Helicopters, video of low flying helicopters.


Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, N20TC:Accident occurred July 22, 2014 in Pago Pago, American Samoa


NTSB Identification: WPR14LA309 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, July 22, 2014 in Pago Pago, AS
Aircraft: BEECH A36, registration: N20TC
Injuries: 2 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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On July 22, 2014, about 2158 local standard time (0858 Universal Coordinated Time, July 23), a Beech BE A36, N20TC, crashed into the water after departure from Tafuna/Pago Pago International Airport (PPG), Pago Pago, American Samoa. The pilot was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot and the pilot's private pilot rated father sustained fatal injuries. Only remnants of the airplane have been recovered. The cross-country personal flight was departing en route nonstop to Honolulu (PHNL), Hawaii. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed, and a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan had been filed.

One ground crewman and his wife met the pilot and his father at the airport to support the departure, and observed the pilot completing preflight checks. The ground crewman queried if they were going to depart, and the father replied yes noting that the weather was great. The ground crewman stated that the wind had been gusty and strong all day and evening. He observed the airplane taxi for departure, and repositioned himself so that he could observe the whole runway for the takeoff.

As the airplane moved down the runway, the ground crewman noted that the wind was very strong. The airplane became airborne, but it was moving up and down and side to side; it also was not gaining altitude. At this point, the airplane had passed the very high frequency omni-directional radio range, tactical air navigation (VORTAC), but was still very low. Before the airplane reached the end of the runway, it banked to the right towards the ocean. Over the next few seconds, the airplane kept getting lower, and then disappeared. He did not observe it contact the water; he only saw the lights getting lower and lower. He observed no explosion, and heard no noise.

The ground crewman stated that he contacted the airport duty supervisor to determine if there had been any contact with the airplane. The supervisor responded that he was waiting for a call from the pilot after the takeoff, and the ground crewman reported that he thought it went into the ocean.

Another witness was a couple of miles away sitting on a seawall facing the airport. He reported that the engine was loud as the airplane was taking off. He reported that it was unusual that the airplane did not immediately gain altitude. He stated that a few seconds after takeoff, the airplane suddenly went nose down into the water.

The American Samoa Department of Public Safety located the pilot's body at 0040; it was strapped to a seat cushion. They reported burn marks on the body, and a strong odor of gasoline. They recovered a life raft, a survival suit and clothing, a fuselage piece, a duffel bag, and two gumby suits along with other debris.

A pilot who was very experienced in transoceanic flights had been in contact with the pilot's father for several months during the planning of the trip, as well as during the trip. On the day of departure, the father indicated that the airplane had 249 gallons of fuel on board, and anticipated a 2300 departure time so that he and his son could land in Hawaii during daylight hours. He had purchased two life vests for them to wear instead of the gumby suits. He indicated that they planned to take off with 10 degrees of flaps, accelerate in ground effect, start a slow climb to 200 feet, retract the landing gear, climb to 500 feet and retract the flaps, and then climb to 5,000 feet and level out. Once the power and fuel settings were established for cruise, they would initiate a shallow climb to 7,000 feet, maintain that for 2-3 hours, and then establish a shallow climb to 9,000 feet.


Federal Aviation Administration - Flight Standards District Office: FAA Honolulu FSDO-13

The family of the family and son team whose small plane crashed off Pago Pago International Airport in July have informed the Director of Port Administration that they will carry out a sonar search of the ocean floor where the aircraft is believed to have crashed.  

 Director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele says the family of Babar and Haris Suleman has hired an Oregon company to conduct the underwater search.

The Sulemans have contacted the port director for assistance in organizing a boat that they can use.

Taimalelagi says because of the equipment used, the search requires a special kind of boat.

She said the company in Oregon has also been in contact with her office and once a vessel has been arranged, they hope to come down to mount the underwater search.

Taimalelagi said she ‘s hoping that the company will be able to work with local counterparts in the private sector.

The body of Haris Suleman, the 17-year-old pilot who was attempting to fly around the world in the shortest time was found, however his father’s body was never recovered. 

A private pane went down in American Samoa waters leaving two dead, according to Marine Patrol officers sent to sea close to midnight with a search and rescue team. 

The first body was brought in around 1:15 am at the wharf before the marine officers went back to search for a second body. Apparently the plane had just taken off from the Pago Pago International Airport, said Airport Police.

The Department of Public Safety’s Marine Patrol officers suspended their search for the second body about 4am this morning.

The plane was believed to have only two people onboard.  According to Captain Tulele Laolagi “We found a young boy still strapped to his seat.  I think he was ejected from the plane, but it’s too early to tell as we continue our investigation into the matter.”

Laolagi told Samoa News the entire Marine Patrol Division was called in, likewise for Emergency Medical Services technicians who were called back into work to assist in this tragedy.

Close to 10 EMS technicians were at the wharf in Fagatogo waiting for the arrival of the deceased on the marine patrol boat and it appeared the victim had injuries on his face and body.

Laolagi said the Marine Patrol was assisted in the search by the Tool Shop’s Owner Peter Crispin and his colleague Andy who had on board with several police officers.

Samoa News understands a resident in Matu’u saw the plane crashing into the water and that’s when he contacted 911 for assistance. It was unclear at the time why the plane was at the airport and who owns it, but what’s certain is that while flying out of the airport it crashed into the water. Samoa News has sent queries to the Port Administration Director, Taimalelagi Claire Tuia Poumele for a comment on this matter.

Laolagi said the EPIRB was found not far from where the body was located. He explained that the EPIRB or Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon is a  tracking device that aids in the detection and location of boats, aircraft's and people in distress. The EPIRB interfaces with international satellite system for search and rescue and when activated manually or automatically upon immersion, the beacons sends out a distress signal, which can be monitored worldwide and the location of the distress is detected by satellites.

Laolagi said as soon as the EPIRB was activated he received calls from Samoa, New Zealand and Honolulu’s satellite systems that picked up the signal. He also told Samoa News that Coast Guard is to arrive some time this morning to assist in the search of the second body. Asked if they will have divers to search underwater and Laolago confirmed that they will also have divers once it’s daylight. More details as they become available.

According to a Fox News channel in their home state, the victims have been identified as Babar Suleman and his 17-year-old son Haris who took off last month on a world-spanning journey to raise money for charity. They’d planned to spend 30 days flying to cities around the world including London and Istanbul, family friends told FOX59 in Plainfield, Indiana.

In an Associated Press story, family spokeswoman says an Indiana teenager was killed when his plane crashed while trying to set a record for an around-the-world flight.

Annie Hayat said Wednesday that the plane flown by 17-year-old Haris Suleman went down shortly after leaving Pago Pago in American Samoa. Suleman and his father, Babar Suleman, were on board.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor in Los Angeles said the Beechcraft A36 Bonanza crashed into the ocean Tuesday night under unknown circumstances. The two left Indiana June 19 in hopes of breaking a world record and raising money for a nonprofit that builds schools in Pakistan. They planned to return home Sunday.

FAA online records for the plane state that on June 9, an additional temporary fuel tank was installed for the aircraft.  It also says that the aircraft was reissued an FAA airworthiness certificate Nov. 11 last year that expires in 2016.

Gregor says the  FAA has an inspector in American Samoa who will be looking into this accident.

A separate probe is being conducted by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). “We’re working with local authorities in investigating this case,” NTSB spokesman Terry Williams told Samoa News via phone from Washington D.C. today.

He couldn’t confirm immediately if NTSB will send an investigator to the territory.

Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this report.

See more at:

  The body of Haris Suleman 

The body of Haris Suleman 

Rescue personnel load the body of Haris Suleman recovered from the plane crash into an ambulance. 

Just hours before the crash, Haris Suleman tweeted a photo with the caption, "The beauty of Pago Pago." 

Haris Suleman, 17, hugs his mother, Shamim, before he and his father, Babar, headed out from Greenwood, Indiana, June 19 on the first leg of an around-the-world flight. (Robert Scheer -- The Indianapolis Star) 

Haris Suleman, 17, is seen with his father, Babar, 58, outside a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza they attempted to fly around the world. The plane crash Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (

NTSB is investigating today’s accident in Pago Pago, American Samoa involving a Beech A36 Bonanza.

The airplane of a Plainfield father and son attempting a flight around the world has crashed.

Haris Suleman, 17, was flying the Beech A36 Bonaza aircraft when it went down shortly after take off from Pago Pago in American Samoa Tuesday night, said Annie Hyatt, a spokeswoman for the family. Haris' body was recovered, but authorities were still searching for his father Babar, who was a passenger.

The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed Wednesday afternoon that officials were investigating the accident.

Haris and his father left on their around the world adventure June 19 from the Greenwood Airport to raise money for The Citizens Foundation, a nonprofit that builds schools in rural Pakistan. They made stops in several countries, including England, Egypt and Pakistan, in hopes of breaking the record for the fastest circumnavigation around the world with the youngest pilot commanding a private, single engine airplane.

Several hours before leaving the American Samoa, Haris tweeted that "Pago Pago is without a doubt (among the) top 5 places I've been this summer."

Members of the family and The Citizen Foundation's affiliate, Seeds of Learning, lamented Haris' loss at a news conference Wednesday afternoon in Plainfield. They said they were hoping to find Babar alive. 

Azher Khan, a family friend, said the trip "was for a noble cause. It was for building schools for impoverished children."

Haris' sister, Hiba, recalled her last moments on the phone with Haris Tuesday.

"He was telling me how Pago Pago was one of his best destinations," she said.

Haris was going to be a senior at Plainfield High School. He was known as an outstanding student and a talented soccer player who played for the Junior Varsity Soccer team, said coach David Knueve.

Haris had a way of lifting the spirits of his teammates, Knueve said. Often, he would tell jokes on the bus as the team traveled to matches.

"Haris loved to joke a lot," Knueve said. "He just got the team sort of laughing at the right moments. That's the biggest thing."

The Plainfield Community School Corporation released a statement about the crash, saying they were "deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of our students ... Haris's adventurous spirit and huge heart led him to reaching for his personal goal while also seeking to raise funds and awareness for schools supported by The Citizens Foundation."

The school will offer counseling to students and staff starting 7 a.m. Thursday at the high school.

Since word of the crash, people have donated at least $400 to the Sulemans fundraising campaign. Those interested in donating can visit their gofundme page.

Haris had recently acquired his pilot's license and instrument rating, which authorized him to fly an aircraft over oceans. He took an interest after years of flying with his father, an engineer who flew in his spare time.

Haris told The Star last week that he enjoyed the lessons he learned through aviation.
"I feel like becoming a pilot has changed me a lot," he said. "It's really hard to get to a point where you can fly around the world."

They were scheduled to return to Indiana on Sunday.

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July 23, 2014 – The plane of a father and son who planned to fly around the world has crashed, family friends tell FOX59.

Babar Suleman and his 17-year-old son Haris took off last month on a world-spanning journey to raise money for charity. They’d planned to spend 30 days flying to cities around the world including London and Istanbul.

Their aircraft went down just after takeoff from Pago Pago in American Samoa. The crash happened about a mile away from the end of the runway and the plane went into the water.

Friends said crews recovered the body of Haris, who was going to be a senior at Plainfield High School. His father is still considered missing and crews have not yet found him.

Friends tell FOX59 that the plane did send a distress call.

Plainfield Schools released the following statement to Fox59:

“Plainfield Community School Corporation is deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of our students. Seventeen-year-old Haris Suleman completed his junior year in May and left Plainfield only days later in an attempt to fly around the world with his father. Haris’s adventurous spirit and huge heart led him to reaching for this personal goal while also seeking to raise funds and awareness for schools supported by The Citizens Foundation, a non-profit organization headquartered in Karachi, Pakistan.

“The loss of Haris is a sobering tragedy for our school community. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Haris’s family. We will provide information about memorial services and funeral arrangements once available. Thank you for your concern at this difficult time.”


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana teenager who was attempting to set a record for an around-the-world flight has died in a crash over the Pacific Ocean, a family spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Annie Hayat said the plane flown by 17-year-old Haris Suleman went down shortly after leaving Pago Pago in American Samoa Tuesday night. Suleman and his father, Babar Suleman, were on board.

Hayat said the body of Haris Suleman had been recovered, but crews were still looking for his father.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor in Los Angeles said the single-engine Hawker Beechcraft plane crashed into the ocean Tuesday night under unknown circumstances. The tail number provided by the FAA shows the plane is registered to a limited liability corporation whose address matches Babar Suleman's home address in Plainfield, Indiana, west of Indianapolis.

U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Melissa McKenzie said witnesses reported seeing the Honolulu-bound plane crash about a mile from shore shortly after taking off from Pago Pago International Airport.

The Sulemans left the state on June 19 in hopes of making the trip in 30 days to set the record for the fastest circumnavigation around the world in a single-engine airplane with the youngest pilot in command to do so. The trip was also raising money for the Citizens Foundation, a nonprofit that builds schools in Pakistan.

They planned to return home Sunday.

Harris Suleman told The Indianapolis Star earlier this month that he enjoyed every stop along the trip. The Sulemans had made stops throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific.

"There is so much beauty and culture in each country that I couldn't possibly witness all that I want to in the span of two days," he said in an email to the newspaper. "That's the maximum time we've been able to spend at a stop."

In this Thursday, June 19, 2014 photo, Babar Suleman and son Haris Suleman, 17, stand next to their plane at an airport in Greenwood, Ind. before taking off for an around-the-world flight. On Wednesday, July 23, 2014, a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza plane with two aboard crashed in waters off American Samoa, with a registration number matching the plane flown by the Indiana teen attempting to fly around the world in 30 days.

HENDRICKS COUNTY – A Plainfield man and his son are training to fly their single-engine plane around the world for charity.

>Babar Suleman and his 17-year-old son Haris plan to take off from the Greenwood Airport on June 21 and spend 30 days flying to multiple cities around the world including London and Istanbul. Their longest stretch will the 13-hour flight from Hawaii to California.

“All told it will be about 25,000 statute miles,” said Babar Suleman.

Haris Suleman, a Plainfield High School junior, will be piloting the plane and the family said that could break a world record for the youngest person to fly around the world.

“I am awestruck,” said Haris Suleman. “First of all I’m flying, then I’m traveling, and then I’m seeing all these places and meeting all these people at the same time. I can’t imagine something better to do with my summer.”

The adventure is all for charity. The father-son duo hopes to raise money and awareness about Seeds of Learning, a part of The Citizens Foundation which sends poor children to schools all over the world.

“(This flight is) to promote not only the education of the underprivileged, but also to celebrate the fact that in the last 19 years The Citizens Foundation has been able to form 1,000 schools with 146,000 children.’

Before they take off, they have to get ready. The pair took FOX59 out to Hendricks County Aviation on Sunday to show us the plane. They are logging as many flight hours as possible, getting maintenance work done on the plane and adding an extra fuel tank for the long hauls. They’ve even taken emergency training in case the plane loses power over water.

The elder Suleman has some experience with emergencies. In 2008, his plane lost power and he had to land on I-70 in Hancock County. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

“I just did not have any fear, any feeling or anything at all,” recalled Suleman. “It was all very mechanical and I just did exactly as I taught.”

While they both have been told it’s a crazy idea, they are committed to taking this journey together.

“If you have the passion for it and if you really want to do it then you should do it,” said Babar Suleman.

The Citizens Foundation is hosting an International Festival to celebrate the launch of Babar and Haris Suleman’s Guinness World Record flight around the world for education. 

The public is invited to attend on Saturday, June 7 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Greenwood Municipal Airport on 799 E. County Line Rd. You can get updates about the trip here.

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