Sunday, June 1, 2014

Air Travel Could Be Made Safer With Tiny Monitoring Devices Inside Jet Engines: GE Puts Sensors in Hard-to-Reach Places With 3-D Inking

The Wall Street Journal
By Deborah Gage
June 1, 2014 4:48 p.m. ET

Making jet engines communicate their vital signs while they're in flight has the potential to make air travel safer. It could signal when a stressed engine part needs replacing, or give clues to how engines could be better designed.

But first, those parts have to be made smarter.

A team of manufacturing engineers, materials scientists and testing experts at a General Electric Co. lab in upstate New York is trying to make that happen. They're using a robotically driven stylus—like a needle, no thicker than a sheet of paper—to create tiny sensors on parts that make up jet engines and other complex structures. The sensors can measure the stress on parts that are inside harsh environments—places that are too hot or have too many gasses for more conventional sensors—and transmit that data to GE.
New Materials

Such sensors require new materials—ceramics that can withstand high temperatures, or new combinations of materials that are compatible with GE turbine blades.

New manufacturing techniques are required, too. Traditionally, a sensor would be machined and stuck onto a part. But those techniques don't work so well when a part is cylindrical, or needs a sensor that can go around corners.

So, the team at GE developed a process using 3-D inking, something similar to 3-D printing but on a much smaller scale. Also referred to sometimes in the industry as direct-write, 3-D inking is used in nanotechnology to deposit materials on very small objects.

What the GE team does is combine sensing materials, which are in the form of a powder, with various polymers or solvents to make a gummy, somewhat runny substance—a slurry that has the consistency of toothpaste.

Then they direct the stylus to draw the slurry onto a surface, in thin layers, until the sensor is built up. It's like "elaborate cake decorating," says Christine Furstoss, GE's global technology director for manufacturing and materials technologies.
Thermal Bonding

When the stylus is finished and the sensor is complete, heat can be applied until the extra materials in the slurry evaporate and the particles of ceramic or metal that constitute the sensor bond and join to the part.

The process enables GE to put sensors in places that are hard to reach, and to place different types of sensors—one for temperature, say, and one for pressure—next to each other when space is tight. It's also useful for improving parts in other ways—adding a ridge, for instance, to a part that needs more aerodynamic performance.

GE is considering 3-D inking applications for turbomachinery, which includes jet engines and gas turbines, and is testing prototypes of the sensors with customers. Though they're starting with new products, current products could be retrofitted with the new sensors as they come in for repair.

Both wired and wireless sensors are being developed. But wireless frequencies don't like harsh environments, "so we may need to develop new types of transmitters," Ms. Furstoss says.

Source: http://online.wsj.com

Pensioner Jack Green flies in a Tiger Moth - 72 years after crashing

For 72 years Jack Green has dreamt of finishing a flight in a Tiger Moth without crashing.

In 1942 he was training to be a naval pilot. His first solo flight ended when his plane crashed on an airfield in Birmingham. Before he crashed, the 18-year-old pilot had tried to land twelve times. Each time he thought he had bounced too high and took-off to try again.

When, on his unlucky thirteenth attempt, he finally did touch-down, almost out of fuel, he accidentally opened the throttle and flipped the plane on the airfield. Despite writing-off his aircraft, he escaped uninjured.

The report into his accident states: “Pupil very inexperienced. Flapped on “umpteenth” attempt to land “

But this weekend, for a 90th birthday present from his family, Jack once again took to the air in a Tiger Moth from Darley Dale Airfield near Ashbourne in Derbyshire.

The biplane trainer recently returned home to Ashbourne, where it was used to train Spitfire pilots between 1942 and 1944.

During the war, only a few minutes flight away from Darley Dale, trainee pilots were being put through their paces at Elmdon Airfield (now Birmingham Airport). One November afternoon, Jack’s instructor stepped out of his Tiger Moth, said ‘you’re on your own’ and waved him off for his first solo flight.

Stirling Bombers were manufactured and tested at Elmdon and on that afternoon a group of them came in to land shortly after Jack had taken off.

On his first approach Jack, who had only ten hours flying experience, saw two red lights signaling that it wasn’t safe to land. “The Stirlings had a big slip-stream and we knew we had to avoid flying near them”, said Jack, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.

“That must have upset me a bit because when I went around again and landed, I thought I’d bounced too much and went ‘round again.

“This happened about 12 or 13 times”, he explained

“I must have been nervous, and imagined I’d bounced too much and set off again, and again, and again.

“Finally it got dark. So they opened all the Stirling hangars and turned the lights on – and the café lights so as I didn’t lose the aerodrome.

“And then eventually my instructor got in another plane and told me to follow him

“I followed him and then he’d land and I’d land, and I’d be off again. And he had to chase me and pass me.

“ I landed eventually because of no fuel. And I thought ‘well this is the last time’ and unfortunately I must have had my hand on the throttle and opened it and I flipped it.

“My instructor, the next day, said ‘You’re the first person to do his first solo and his first night flight on the same occasion’.

“I had to take a chief flying instructor test, which I failed miserably. I wasn’t allowed to fly again so I went into the normal Navy.

“Today it was a wonderful flight and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The landing was perfect – perfect. I took the controls today for a few minutes and it felt lovely. We flew over Carsington Water – it was beautiful.

“Thankfully the pilot landed me today!” he joked

After being permanently grounded, Jack then served on HMS Lagan – a Frigate patrolling the Atlantic then as a front-gunner on a Motor Torpedo Boat based in Dover.

Blue Eye Aviation have been flying their Tiger Moth from Ashbourne for the last two months. Quite by chance they discovered that the aircraft was used at Darley Moor in the war to train Spitfire and other fighter pilots.

Owner and pilot Will Flanagan said: “It’s like we’re bringing her home again”.

“It’s also amazing that our plane’s registration number is only 106 numbers different from the actual plane Jack crashed. Ours is R5136 and his was R5030. So the plane he learnt to fly in would have been almost exactly the same age and type as ours.”

Various flights are available in the Tiger Moth based at Darley Dale, from short tasters to a complete re-enactment of the route the Dambuster Lancaster bombers flew when training over the Derwent Valley dams.

Story, photo and video:  http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk


 

Diamond DA 20-C1 Katana, N206ND: Accident occurred June 01, 2014 in Longmont, Colorado

NTSB Identification: CEN14LA267 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation 
Accident occurred Sunday, June 01, 2014 in Longmont, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/27/2014
Aircraft: DIAMOND AIRCRAFT IND INC DA20-C1, registration: N206ND
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The pilot reported that the engine lost all power after the airplane took off and climbed to about 400 feet. He then made a forced landing to a field adjacent to the airport. The airplane struck the ground nose first and skidded about 150 feet before coming to a stop; the nose gear was sheared off. During a postaccident examination of the airplane, only a few drops of fuel were recovered from the wing and gascolator fuel drains; no fuel could be seen in either tank. The pilot noted that fuel had been leaking from the tanks for three days before the examination. However, even if minimal fuel had been present during the accident flight, more than a few drops should have drained out of the gascolator drain. Had the pilot done a thorough preflight inspection, he should have noted the lack of fuel in the tanks.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
A loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s inadequate preflight inspection. 

On June 1, 2014, about 0915 mountain daylight time, a Diamond DA 20-C1, N206ND, collided with terrain after the engine lost power near Longmont, Colorado. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant on board, was not injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan had been filed. The local flight was originating when the accident occurred.

In a telephone interview, the pilot said the airplane had just come out of an annual inspection and his mechanic had performed a post-maintenance engine functional test up to full power. All systems operated normally and the engine performed well. The accident flight was a test flight after the annual inspection. The pilot said prior to takeoff, he also ran the engine up to full power. No anomalies were noted. The pilot took off and after climbing to about 400 feet, the engine lost power. The pilot made a forced landing in a field adjacent to the airport. The airplane struck the ground nose first, shearing off the nose gear, and skidded about 150 feet before coming to a stop. The empennage was separated from the fuselage.

On June 4, three Federal Aviation Administration inspectors examined the airplane in the presence of the pilot. According to the lead inspector, the airplane was equipped with two fuel drains --- one for the fuel tank and one for the gascolator. Only a few drops of fuel were recovered from each drain. No fuel could be seen in the fuel tank. The pilot said fuel had been leaking from the fuel tank for three days before the FAA inspectors arrived. According to the FAA inspector's report, if there had been minimal fuel aboard the airplane, fuel greater than a few drops would have drained out of the gascolator drain during the examination.


 NTSB Identification: CEN14LA267
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, June 01, 2014 in Longmont, CO
Aircraft: DIAMOND AIRCRAFT IND INC DA 20-C1, registration: N206ND
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 June 1, 2014, about 0915 mountain daylight time, a Diamond DA 20-C1, N206ND, collided with terrain after the engine lost power near Longmont, Colorado. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant on board, was not injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan had been filed. The local flight was originating when the accident occurred.

The pilot said he took off and after climbing to about 400 feet, the engine lost all power. He made a forced landing in a field adjacent to the airport. The airplane struck the ground nose first, sheared off the nose gear, and skidded about 150 feet before coming to a stop. The empennage separated from the fuselage.



KOSAIR INC., N206ND: http://registry.faa.gov/N206ND  



LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) - The Boulder County Sheriff's Office says a pilot escaped injury when he lost power of his small airplane and crashed in a field near the Vance Brand Airport . 

Cmdr. Heidi Prentup says 74-year-old Harold Kosmerl of Longmont crashed during takeoff at about 9:30 a.m. Sunday. His single-engine airplane, a 1998 Katana Diamond, was heavily damaged when it crashed 300-400 yards from the runway.

Kosmerl was the only one on board at the time.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.


http://www.9news.com

 Plane crashes shortly after takeoff at Longmont's Vance Brand, pilot not injured

A Diamond Katana airplane was forced to land in a field near Longmont's Vance Brand Airport this morning because of engine trouble shortly after takeoff, according to airport Manager Tim Barth.

Barth said the Longmont pilot's training kicked in when he realized he didn't have enough altitude to get back to the airport, prompting him to land in the field at about 10 a.m.   The plane's tail snapped off and the plane lost a couple of other parts, but the pilot wasn't injured and was able to walk away, he said.

"You can't ask for a better outcome in an incident like this," Barth said.

Barth declined to release the pilot's name.

He said the Federal Aviation Administration plans to investigate today, while the Boulder County Sheriff's Office and the Hygiene Fire Department both responded this morning.


Story, photo and comments:   http://www.dailycamera.com

Mooney M20C Ranger, N6704U: Fatal accident occurred May 06, 2014 in Cody, Wyoming

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA188 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, May 06, 2014 in Cody, WY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/17/2015
Aircraft: MOONEY M20C, registration: N6704U
Injuries: 2 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.

The two pilots were on a multi-leg cross-country trip in the airplane to visit friends and relatives. Both pilots had current medical certificates, and it could not be determined who was acting as pilot-in-command at the time of the accident. The pilot seated in the right front seat had owned the airplane for over 20 years and had accumulated considerable experience flying it. Neither pilot had an instrument rating. 

Postaccident review of meteorological information indicated that at the time of the flight’s departure, the departure and arrival airports were reporting visual meteorological conditions; however, the initial segment of the flight required flight over mountainous terrain where instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) and mountain obscuration existed. There was no record of either pilot having obtained an official weather briefing before the flight; however, they were most likely aware of the mountain obscuration, as it would have been visible before takeoff and during the initial stages of the flight.

The airplane was equipped with a panel-mounted GPS receiver that was capable of providing minimum safe altitude information along a user-defined flight plan, but it is unknown if the pilots were using this feature. An iPad, which the pilots reportedly used for navigation, was found in the cockpit; however, impact damage to the device prevented determination of what navigation software was installed. Additionally a sectional chart covering the accident area was on board; however, the chart was found stowed in the rear pocket of the left front seat, indicating that the pilots were not using it during the flight.

Radar and weather data revealed that the airplane entered the clouds shortly after takeoff. The flight track began to waver slightly about 7 minutes after takeoff, likely due to the airplane being hand-flown as it entered IMC. The flight track remained generally on course toward the destination airport as the flight progressed, and there was no indication of an attempt to return to the departure airport. The airplane flew through the mountainous terrain at a fairly consistent altitude about 2,500 ft below the maximum elevation figure of 12,500 ft mean sea level shown on the sectional aeronautical chart for the area and eventually struck the side of a mountain about 430 ft below its summit. 

The consistency of the airplane’s flight track indicates that the pilots most likely intentionally elected to enter IMC in an effort to fly over the mountainous terrain and into the clearer weather beyond. The airplane’s altimeter was set to the correct pressure, and postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation. The investigation was unable to determine why the pilots elected to fly at an altitude below the maximum elevation for the area. While both pilots had reported histories of significant cardiovascular disease, autopsies and toxicological analysis did not reveal any findings that would have contributed to the accident. Although ethanol was detected in the right-seat pilot’s urine, the levels were not sufficient to have caused impairment.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The non-instrument rated pilots’ decision to continue flight into known instrument meteorological conditions over mountainous terrain, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On May 6, 2014, at 1159 mountain daylight time, a Mooney M20C, N6704U, collided with mountainous terrain near Cody, Wyoming. The airplane was registered to, and operated by, the pilot/owner under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot/owner and private pilot-rated passenger sustained fatal injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the forward fuselage and both wings. The cross-country personal flight departed Yellowstone Regional Airport, Cody, about 1140, with a presumed destination of Twin Falls, Idaho. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site, and no flight plan had been filed.

Both occupants were brothers and had departed from Fayetteville, North Carolina, on April 28 in the accident airplane with the intention of touring the country to visit friends and relatives. Their ultimate destination was Seattle, Washington, where they had planned on arriving by May 11.

Family members became concerned when they had not heard from both occupants by May 8, and initiated a series of exchanges with various local law enforcement agencies, airport personnel, and relatives throughout the Cody and Twin Falls area. On May 10, still unable to locate the occupants, family members contacted Lockheed Martin Flight Services, and an Alert Notice (ALNOT) was issued. Utilizing radar data provided by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, search and rescue personnel from the Park County Office of Homeland Security were able to visually locate the airplane by helicopter in mountainous terrain within the Shoshone National Forest.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provided radar data from the QSI (Lovell, Wyoming) Air Route Surveillance Radar sensor, which was located at an elevation of 9,962 ft, 60 miles east of the departure airport. The data revealed a primary target (no altitude information) on a beacon code of 1200, departing from the vicinity of Cody at 1141, and flying on a track of 248 degrees true towards the rising terrain of the Shoshone National Forest. Having passed over the town of Wapiti, 5 minutes later, the target initiated a right turn to 265 degrees and began reporting a Mode C altitude of 8,800 ft. For the next 6 minutes the target continued loosely on track as its heading varied back and forth 10 to 20 degrees in either direction. Having reached 9,900 ft, it passed below the 10,219 ft peak of Clayton Mountain, which was about 1 mile to the south. The track progressed for another 2 minutes, climbing another 200 ft, while passing 300 ft over an adjoining ridgeline, which rose above the targets altitude 500 ft to the south. The target continued on a course directly towards the eastern face of Howell Mountain, and over the next 96 seconds, began a climb to 10,500 ft as the terrain below fell away to 6,900 ft. The last recorded target occurred 24 seconds later, at an altitude of 10,200 ft.

The wreckage was located at an elevation of about 9,970 ft, on the eastern flank of Howell Mountain, about 430 ft below its summit, and about 1,200 ft northwest of the last target location.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Both occupants held current pilot licenses, and the airplane was equipped with dual controls. As such, a definitive conclusion regarding who was acting as pilot-in-command at the time of the accident could not be made.

Pilot/Owner

The pilot-rated owner was positioned in the right seat. He was 84 years old, and held a private pilot certificate with ratings for single-engine land, issued in 1967. He did not hold an instrument rating.

He held a third-class special issuance medical certificate issued on September 30, 2013, and valid for 1 year, based on a documented history of enlarged aortic root and aortic regurgitation. The certificate additionally had a limitation that he must have available glasses for near vision. At the time of application, he reported using Losartan and Hydrochlorothiazide.

On his most recent medical application, the pilot reported a total time in all aircraft of 4,550 hours, with 27 hours in the past 6 months.

FAA records indicated that he received a 60-day "Order of Suspension" on June 25, 2009, for landing and then crossing an active runway in the accident airplane at an airport in Class D airspace, without establishing radio contact with air traffic control tower personnel.

Pilot/Pilot Rated Passenger

The second occupant was positioned in the left seat. He was 86 years old, and held a private pilot certificate with ratings for single-engine land, issued in 1952. He did not hold an instrument rating.

The pilot's most recent application for a medical certificate was dated September 9, 2013. At that time he was found ineligible due to coronary artery disease treated with coronary artery bypass grafting, and sleep apnea treated with continuous positive airway pressure therapy. Following a review by the FAA medical certification branch, he was issued a special issuance third-class medical certificate valid until September 30, 2014, with the limitation that he must wear corrective lenses for near and distant vision. At the time of application, he reported using Lisinopril, Hydrochlorothiazide, Atenolol, and Potassium Chloride.

On his most recent medical application, he reported a total time in all aircraft of 625 hours, with 27 hours in the past 6 months.

AIRPLANE INFORMATION

The airplane was manufactured in 1963 and purchased by the pilot/owner in 1991. No maintenance records were recovered; however, a work order revealed that the last annual inspection, along with routine maintenance, was completed on April 7, 2014, at a maintenance facility in Kent, Washington. At that time the airplane had accrued a total of 4,407 flight hours. The tachometer time at the accident site indicated 4,448.5 hours.

The airplane was equipped with a single King KX-170B Nav/Comm transceiver and Indicator, along with a Garmin GNC-300XL GPS Receiver/Comm. Although the Garmin unit was certified for IFR (instrument flight rules), a placard had been installed stating, "GPS APPROVED FOR VFR FLIGHT ONLY".

Onsite examination revealed that the frequency gauge of the King Navigation unit was set to 114.80 MHz, with the course index set to 250 degrees. This frequency selection did not match any navigation aids along the route of flight, with the closest match being the Worland (RLY) VOR (very high frequency omnidirectional range) ground station, located 100 miles east-southeast of the accident site.

The airplane was equipped with an original equipment factory-installed autopilot, however, impact damage prevented an accurate assessment of its operational status at the time of the accident. An iPad was located in the forward cockpit, and according to family members, was used by the pilots for navigation. The unit was sent to the NTSB Vehicle Records Division for data extraction; however, it had sustained crush and bending damage which had destroyed its memory storage components.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

Lockheed Martin Flight Services reported that no records were located indicating that the airplane's registration number was used to request a weather briefing, either by phone or through any approved DUAT vendors during the 3-day period leading up to the accident.

The National Weather Service (NWS) Surface Analysis Chart for 1200 MDT depicted a low pressure system with a central pressure of 995-hectopascals (hPa) over southwestern Wyoming along a frontal wave with a warm front extending eastward across southern Wyoming. Further north, a cold front was depicted surging out of Canada into Montana. The accident site was located between these two systems in an area of light northerly wind, with temperatures in the mid 40-degree Fahrenheit (F) range, with temperature-dew point spreads of 4-degree F. Light continuous rain was reported immediately north of Cody in Montana.

Yellowstone Regional Airport was located at an elevation of 5,102 ft. The airport was equipped with an Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS) which reported the following conditions at 1135, about 5 minutes prior to departure:

Wind from 360 degrees at 12 knots, visibility unrestricted at 10 statute miles, a few clouds at 1,300 ft above ground level (agl), broken clouds at 1,900 ft, overcast clouds at 3,100 ft, temperature 8 degrees C, dew point 6 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.75 inches of mercury.

At 1155, an updated observation included the following:

Wind from 360 degrees at 11 knots, visibility unrestricted at 10 miles, a few clouds at 1,300 ft, few clouds at 2,100 ft, overcast clouds at 3,300 ft, temperature 7 degrees C, dew point 5 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.77 inches of mercury.

The terminal aerodrome forecast current during the accident period reported that marginal VFR conditions would prevail, with rain showers in the vicinity of Cody, scattered clouds at 900 ft agl, and overcast clouds at 1,500 ft. The weather was predicted to deteriorate further with overcast clouds down to 600 ft, and visibilities down to 2 miles.

The National Weather Service had a full set of AIRMETs (Airmen's Meteorological Information) current over the region, which reported mountain obscuration, turbulence, and icing conditions.

There were no SIGMETs (Significant Meteorological Information), Convective SIGMETs, or Weather Watches current prior to the accident. However, a Center Weather Advisory was issued by the Salt Lake City Center Weather Service Unit for an area of thunderstorms south of the accident site. Additionally, a convective SIGMET was issued for the area immediately south for an area of developing thunderstorms an hour after the accident.

The presumed destination, Twin Falls, was located at an elevation of 4,154 ft, 307 miles southwest of Cody. The initial route of flight took the airplane into the Absaroka Mountain Range, which contained peaks in excess of 12,000 ft. Beyond the accident site, a direct route would have taken the airplane over the lower open areas of the Snake River Plain, passing Idaho Falls, and onwards to Twin Falls.

A routine weather report (METAR) for Twin Falls was issued at 1053, which indicated wind from 250 degrees at 11 knots, 10 miles visibility, overcast clouds at 4,900 ft, and an altimeter setting of 29.75 inches of mercury. At 1353, winds were reported to be from 360 degrees at 4 knots, with 10 miles visibility, light rain, and an overcast ceiling of 3,200 ft.

Examination of the "Kollsman" window of the airplane's altimeter revealed that it was set to 29.75 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane was located 44 miles west of Cody. Shortly after it was discovered, photographs were taken from a helicopter by the Park County Office of Homeland Security, which revealed that it was covered in snow that obscured the lower forward section of the cabin along with the left wing. The main wreckage came to rest facing uphill on a 30-degree slope, at the base of a steeper 45-degree sloping bowl area. The main cabin was upright on a heading of about 290 degrees magnetic, and the crushed remnants of the right wing outboard of the main landing gear were located about 80 ft to the left and uphill of the cabin. At that time, the left wing could not be located. Search and rescue personnel reported that the snow depths in the area ranged from 3 to 5 ft.

The occupants were removed from the airplane about 3 weeks after the accident, once the snow had melted sufficiently to allow safe access to the site. By that time the left wing outboard of the main landing gear was located in between the fuselage and the right wing. The outboard section of the wing was almost completely undamaged, with its aileron still attached; the corresponding left flap remained intact and connected to the fuselage at its inboard hinge. Small fragments of debris were observed in the snow continuing about 250 ft above the main wreckage.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

A postmortem examination was performed by Forensic Medicine and Pathology PLLC of Billings Montana. The cause of death for both occupants was reported as the result of multiple blunt traumatic injuries. Findings for the pilot/owner included hypertensive cardiovascular disease, with severe hypertensive, and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease reported for the pilot/pilot rated passenger.

Toxicological tests on specimens recovered from both occupants, were performed by the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute. Analysis revealed no findings for carbon monoxide.

For the pilot/owner, analysis revealed the following findings:

>> 10 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in Urine
>> NO ETHANOL detected in Blood (Cavity)
>> NO ETHANOL detected in Muscle

>> Losartan detected in Urine
>> Losartan detected in Blood (Cavity)

For the pilot/pilot rated passenger, analysis revealed the following findings:

>> NO ETHANOL detected in Vitreous

>> Atenolol detected in Urine
>> Atenolol detected in Blood (Cavity)

Refer to the toxicology report in the public docket for specific test parameters and results.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Examination

The remote location of the airplane, along with treacherous snow conditions prevented an examination at the site immediately following the accident. The airplane was not insured, and therefore could not be recovered in a timely manner. As such, the entire examination was performed at the accident site by the NTSB investigator-and-charge and an FAA inspector on July 16, 2014.

Fuselage

The cabin sustained crush damage from the firewall through to the rear windows. The instrument panel along with all cabin flight controls were crushed and fragmented. The tail cone had buckled forward and was twisted 15 degrees along its longitudinal axis to the right.

Fragments of composite spinner material, as well as paint chips, scat tube, and rubber engine mounts were located in the soil about 5 ft in front of the engine. Shredded fragments of the engine cowling were located surrounding the primary wreckage, with the furthest piece located in the bowl area about 100 ft above the engine.

A total of nine pieces of luggage were located in the aft cabin, with a total weight of about 70 pounds.

The throttle, mixture, propeller and carburetor heat controls were all in the full forward position.

Right Wing

The right wing, which separated at the wing root, had slid past the fuselage since the day of the accident, and was located 25 ft to the south. The wing sustained significant leading edge crush, with the outboard section bent 90-degrees-aft midspan. The main landing gear remained within the well. The flap had detached, and was separated into two sections; the outboard of which was located adjacent to the cabin, with the inboard section just behind the tail section. The aileron was located midway between the wing and cabin.

Left Wing

At the time of the examination, the outboard section of the wing had slid about 300 ft down the mountain slope. According to search and rescue personnel, it slid down due to rotor wash from the recovery helicopter. The wing had separated from the spar at the wheel well, where it exhibited upwards and aft bending damage at its root. The inboard section of the wing remained attached at the fuselage and exhibited crush damage, which had forced the leading edge skins up and over the spar. The main landing gear assembly had separated from the spar, and was located next to the engine.

Empennage

The vertical and horizontal stabilizers remained attached to the tailcone, with all of their respective control surfaces attached. The empennage assembly remained attached, and control tube continuity was established from the control surfaces through to the aft cabin. The surfaces moved smoothly when pushed by hand.

Engine

The engine sustained minimal damage, exhibited no indications of catastrophic failure, and remained partially attached to the firewall. The carburetor had separated at the intake manifold, and had become detached from the inlet filter box, which was crushed. The forward pushrods for cylinders number 2 and 4 (inlet pushrod #2, exhaust pushrod #4) exhibited aft curvature. Both magnetos remained firmly attached to their pads, with all respective spark plug wires intact. All top sparks plugs, and the bottom spark plugs for cylinder 1 and 3, were removed and examined. All plugs exhibited normal to worn-out normal wear signatures when compared to the Champion AV-27 Aviation Check-A-Plug chart.

The engine's position and weight prevented complete rotation of the crankshaft at the accident site, however, the propeller could be partially rotated and exhibited free and smooth movement, with drive train continuity confirmed to the magnetos. All fuel lines from the firewall through to the engine driven fuel pump and carburetor were intact and tight at their fittings. The carburetor and both magnetos were removed for follow up examination.

The propeller remained attached to the engine crankshaft and appeared to have sustained minimal damage. The composite spinner had fragmented, with additional shards located underneath the propeller hub.

Examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any anomalies which would have precluded normal operation. A complete report is contained within the public docket.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Maximum Elevation Figures

According to the Great Falls Sectional Aeronautical Chart that was current at the time of the accident, the depicted Maximum Elevation Figure in the area of the accident site was 12,500 ft mean sea level (msl); the accident site was located at 9,970 ft. The route of flight spanned the Great Falls and Salt Lake City Sectional Charts. Although a full complement of charts was located in the rear pocket of the forward left seat, the only chart located in the forward cabin area was for Seattle.




HUNTSVILLE, Alabama - Robert Zimmerman's life ended much as it had begun - deep in an American wilderness alongside his beloved older brother, Ward. On May 6, 2014, Robert's single-engine plane crashed into the side of a mountain near Yellowstone, 300 feet short of the 10,000-foot peak. The Zimmerman brothers, 84 and 86, had been flying across the U.S., visiting friends and relatives from Washington state to North Carolina.

Robert Zimmerman, former physics professor at Alabama A&M in Huntsville, and his brother were living an adventure that they dreamed up back when they were boys in South Dakota, says their sister, Hazel Zimmerman of Iowa. Her brothers would whittle airplanes from wood and install rubber-band motors. If any actual plane flew over, both would rush outside to gaze in wonder at the machine soaring above the short-grass prairie region of South Dakota where the family lived in a two-room house on a homestead without electricity or running water.

"Our food was what we could grow, raise or shoot," Hazel Zimmerman said. "The prairie provided wild game and choke cherries, wild plums and buffalo berries."

On May 5, the brothers stopped in Cody, Wy., departing Tuesday, May 6, 2014, during what they thought was a break in treacherous weather.

"Grounded in Wyoming," reads the text that Robert Zimmerman sent May 5 to his friend, Dr. Daryush Ila of Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. Zimmerman and Ila worked together at A&M from 1992 until 2011. "Freezing rains, scary high mountains all sides, but with food and warm beds."

Flying to Brazil

The brothers, both licensed pilots, had logged thousands of miles together - even island-hopping several times across the Caribbean to Brazil, where Robert Zimmerman taught for 36 years at the University of Sao Paolo. Ward, a retired Boeing engineer who invented the automatic engine controls used on all new commercial jets, had flown for the U.S. Navy during World War II. They both enjoyed working on the airplane and had scrupulous pre-flight inspections.

So the brothers had good reason to believe they could beat the storms and make it to Portland, Ore., where Ward's granddaughter had a homemade lemon pie, Ward's favorite, waiting for them.

"No one believes he is gone," said Dr. Ila, who has been fielding calls and emails from all over the world since the airplane disappeared on May 6. The wreckage was located May 12, but recovery of the bodies delayed by weather until Tuesday, May 27, 2014. "I saw one newspaper that described him as 'elderly' - they have no idea. Just at New Year's, we were skiing at Mt. Hood - he went from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. 'Elderly?' They have no clue."

Zimmerman infused his life with adventure. Extraordinarily bright - despite a horse's kick to his head when he was 2 that a doctor was sure would result in brain damage - he finished high school by 14. By 17, he began graduate work at M.I.T., where he completed a doctorate at 22.

During his years in Brazil, Zimmerman started a tennis school for students that helped kids win scholarships to universities around the world. He learned to fly accompanying his friend, Dr. Lawrence Holland, on a trip around Cape Horn, the southern-most point of South America.

Holland, a visiting scientist in Brazil in the 1960s, became friends with Zimmerman when Holland's colleagues, alarmed that he was sick, alerted the only other American on the staff. Zimmerman hopped on his bike, balancing a bucket of hot soup, with books on top. He walked in to Holland's hotel room, saying, "Hello. My name is Robert Zimmerman. I think this soup can help you."

Interested in everything and always ready for adventure, Zimmerman enjoyed surfing and hiking. He would leap from a mile-high mountain in Brazil to hang-glide on the winds, spiraling down to a beach miles away. In the early 1990s, after his first marriage had ended, he married eminent Brazilian physicist and operatic singer, Adelaide de Almeida. The pair traveled together around the world to speak at scientific conferences. They are scheduled to speak at an international conference in Japan in August.

"He was awesome," said Malek Abunaemeh, who wrote his dissertation with Zimmerman's direction at A&M. Abunaemeh is now professor of physics at the University of West Florida. "He always made you feel smarter than you are."

"Bob's biggest passion was people," said Lawrence Holland. "He could make anyone understand and love physics."

For more about the crash and subsequent search and rescue attempts, see these stories:

Story, photo gallery and comments:  http://blog.al.com

http://registry.faa.gov/N6704U

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA188
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, May 06, 2014 in Cody, WY
Aircraft: MOONEY M20C, registration: N6704U
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 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 6, 2014, about 1200 mountain daylight time, a Mooney M20C, N6704U, collided with mountainous terrain near Cody, Wyoming. The airplane was registered to, and operated by, the owner under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot/owner and private pilot rated passenger were presumed to have sustained fatal injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the forward fuselage and both wings. The cross-country personal flight departed Yellowstone Regional Airport, Cody, about 1140, with a presumed destination of Twin Falls, Idaho. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site, and no flight plan had been filed.

Both occupants were brothers, and had departed from Fayetteville, North Carolina, on April 28, in the accident airplane, with the intention of touring the country to visit friends and relatives. Their ultimate destination was the Seattle area, where they had planned on arriving by May 11.

Family members became concerned when they had not heard from both occupants by May 8, and initiated a series of exchanges with various local law enforcement agencies and airport managers throughout the Cody and Twin Falls area. On May 10, still unable to locate the occupants, family members contacted Lockheed Martin Flight Services, and an Alert Notice (ALNOT) was issued. Utilizing radar data provided by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, search and rescue personnel from the Park County Office of Homeland Security were able to visually locate the airplane by helicopter in the Shoshone National Forest.

As of the publication of this report, due to the inhospitable nature of the terrain, the accident site was inaccessible to both NTSB and search and rescue personnel.

Federal Aviation Administration downgrade: United States to fund India’s efforts to boost air safety standards

The US government will fund India’s efforts to upgrade its air safety standards, five months after the country saw its safety rating downgraded to category 2 by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

India has decided to opt for a bilateral assistance program from the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), under which private sector consultant, The Wicks Group PLLC (TWG), is being hired to monitor the country’s air safety preparedness.

Two officials in the ministry of civil aviation told FE that the regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will start work with Washington-based TWG for a one-year contract starting Monday.

The project has received approval from the finance ministry’s department of economic affairs and the external affairs ministry.

“TWG has been engaged to help sustain the country’s air safety system under funding from the USTDA. The idea is that such problems like the downgrade cannot re-occur since they have a major impact on investment sentiments. The consultant was recommended by the FAA itself, so we went with them since the FAA needs to be satisfied that all its requirements are being met and they do not rake up problems later,” the first ministry official said.

TWG will initially help the DGCA prepare for a fresh safety audit by the FAA in the next few months after which India hopes to regain the Category 1 status.

In the second stage, TWG will review and upgrade the regulator’s processes and oversight mechanism as per the FAA and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards. Added a second aviation ministry official,

“The contract will also include other work apart from helping us prepare for the fresh safety audit. TWG will look at our systems, help in standardization with global norms and upgrade the training systems for DGCA’s own inspection and certifying officers”.TWG, which employs ex-FAA officials, has previously helped several other countries like Azerbaijan, Cape Verde, Trinidad and Tobago, Saudi Arabia and Ukraine to upgrade their air safety rankings.

“The Wicks Group assists foreign civil aviation authorities with preparing for and responding to FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment program audits and reviews, directed at a country achieving or maintaining an IASA Category 1 rating,” the TWG website said. In April, TWG became a member of the US-India Aviation Cooperation Program (ACP) and the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC).

“Involvement in the two organizations enhances TWG’s ability to advise and support clients interested in pursuing aviation and business opportunities in India and the surrounding region,” a new alert on the TWG website said. Founded in 2007, the ACP is a public-private partnership between the US FAA, USTDA, other US government agencies, and US companies. 


 While being a sore point in terms of national self esteem and business sentiments, FAA downgrade this January also meant that Air India and Jet Airways cannot add any new flights to the US . Existing code-share pacts for Jet with US-based airlines also stand suspended, while there has been a looming threat that aviation regulators from the European Union, Japan and other developed nations may follow the FAA with further downgrades.

DGCA writes to Federal Aviation Administration, says it’s fit for Category 1 upgrade
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) wrote to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last week saying that it has completed all the requirements necessary for the latter to upgrade India’s air safety rating back to Category 1.

While the original plan was to approach the FAA for a fresh safety audit in June, the civil aviation ministry now expects to start the process in August.

Two issues had been remaining as of January this year when the FAA had downgraded the safety rating to Category 2 - the hiring of “adequate” number of flight operations inspectors (FOIs) and training of airworthiness officers. While the training was completed in March itself, the DGCA has also selected 35 FOIs for hiring in the first phase, a DGCA official said. This month, it will again advertise for posts of 16 more FOIs.

“What the FAA had said was that we need an adequate number of FOIs as per the aircraft fleet of the country, they had not prescribed a number. Our calculation is that we need one FOI per 10 planes, and we have about 750 aircraft in the country across both the scheduled and non-scheduled operators,” a DGCA official told FE.

He added, “We have selected 35 FOIs, of which 15 are already with us and the rest 20 should join in a month. Some are coming from the Air Force, so they need about 45 days for discharge.

The hiring had started after the Cabinet in late January this year allowed DGCA to hire 75 FOIs on its pay rolls at salaries competitive with the prevailing market rate, instead of the previous practice where airlines sent its own staff to the DGCA on deputation as FOIs. The FAA had also highlighted that the previous practice has a severe ‘conflict of interest’. 


 “We expect to go to the FAA seeking a fresh audit by August. The hiring of FOIs from our end is nearly complete,” a civil aviation ministry official said.

The DGCA faces a major staff shortage that has been credited to being one of the major reasons for the downgrade. In all, the regulator has 1,250 total sanctioned posts, of which 613 are for key technical staff who among other things are tasked with aircraft health inspections.


Source:  http://www.financialexpress.com

Yakovlev YAK-55M, N176FD: Accident occurred June 01, 2014 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin

NTSB Identification: CEN14FA266 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, June 01, 2014 in Stevens Point, WI
Aircraft: YAKOVLEV YAK-55M, registration: N176FD
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 June 1, 2014, about 1222 central daylight time, a Yakovlev model YAK-55M airplane, N176FD, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain during an aerobatic flight over the Stevens Point Municipal Airport (STE), Stevens Point, Wisconsin. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local airshow demonstration flight that departed about 1220.

The flight team manager, who also provided the public-announcement during the accident flight, reported that the accident flight began with the airplane rolling inverted shortly after liftoff, followed by a shallow inverted climb past show-center. The airplane then rolled upright before entering a 90-degree turn away from show-center and the crowd. The airplane continued to climb, while on the opposite heading used for the takeoff, before it turned back to the runway heading and reentered the aerobatic box. The airplane then rolled inverted before it entered a 45-degree dive toward show-center. The airplane then completed several descending aileron rolls before it rolled wings level and entered a near vertical climb. At the apex of the climb/loop, the airplane entered an inverted flat spin.

Ground-based video footage showed that the airplane completed 3-1/2 rotations in the inverted flat spin before it entered a near vertical dive. The video footage then showed a momentary increase in airplane pitch, achieving a positive deck angle of about 20-degrees, before the airplane entered a rapid left roll. The airplane then entered a nose-down left descending spiral into terrain.

A postaccident examination established that the airplane impacted terrain in a near vertical attitude. Flight control continuity was confirmed from all flight control surfaces to their respective cockpit controls. The engine was located in a 2-1/2 feet deep impact crater and remained partially connected to the firewall. Three engine cylinders had partially separated from the crankcase, which prevented the engine from being rotated. After removing several cylinders, an internal examination did not reveal any mechanical discontinuities within the engine drivetrain. The No. 1 magneto exhibited impact damage that prevented a functional test. The No. 2 magneto provided a spark on all leads when rotated. All three propeller blades exhibited damage consistent with the engine producing power at the time of impact. The postaccident examination of the airplane did not reveal any mechanical anomalies that would have prevented normal operation. A handheld GPS and GoPro video camera were recovered from the wreckage and were sent to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Vehicle Recorder Laboratory for readout.


AIRCRAFT CRASHED INTO A WOODED AREA DURING AN AIRSHOW, THE 1 PERSON ON BOARD WAS FATALLY INJURED, STEVENS POINT, WI 

FAA Milwaukee FSDO-13: http://www.asias.faa.gov

http://registry.faa.gov/N176FD


 

  Bill Cowden 



William M. Cowden 
January 4, 1967 - June 1, 2014
Menomonie, Wisconsin

William Morris Cowden, 47, died unexpectedly June 1, 2014, in an accident during his airshow performance in Stevens Point.

Bill was born Jan. 4, 1967, in Minneapolis, Minn., to Walter and Judy Cowden. At the age of 5, Bill and his family moved to Moorhead, Minn., where he grew up, graduating from Moorhead High School in 1985. Thereafter, Bill enlisted in the United States Air Force where he was trained as an aircraft mechanic. Bill transferred to the North Dakota Air National Guard in 1988, attended college and started flight lessons in a Cessna 150. In 1992, after graduating from North Dakota State University, Bill was selected to attend United States Air Force pilot training at Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, Texas. In 1993, between T-37 and T-38 training, Bill married Heather Gullickson of Bowbells, N.D. He completed Undergraduate Pilot Training at Reese AFB, followed by Fighter Lead-In at Klamath Falls, Oregon.

After earning his USAF wings, Bill was assigned as an F-16 Fighting Falcon (Viper) pilot in the ND Air Guard where he accumulated 1,500 F-16 hours. He retired with the rank of Major in 2006, the same week that he and wife, Heather, welcomed their son, Gunnar William. During his NDANG service, Bill was also hired as a pilot for Northwest Airlines, flying until he was furloughed for a time following the events of Sept. 11, 2001. At that time, he was briefly called to Active Duty. Bill kept busy during the furlough years functioning as Assistant Director of the Fargo Air Museum. In 2007, Bill and family moved to Menomonie. Northwest Airlines later merged with Delta Airlines, where Bill continued to fly as a first officer on the Boeing 757/767 until his death.

Bill had been flying for more than 25 years. He had accumulated more than 7,500 hours in more than 85 different models of aircraft, including gliders and seaplanes as well as type ratings in the Douglas DC-3, Douglas DC-9, MD-88, Airbus A-320, and the Boeing 757/767. Bill held a Level 1 Unrestricted Surface Level Aerobatic waiver. Bill was also an Airframe and Power-plant mechanic and aircraft builder. At the time of his death, Bill had been building his second RV-8 kit airplane. Bill loved to give rides to and mentor aspiring young pilots. He served for many years on airport boards and was once Chairman of the West Fargo Airport Authority. At one time, Bill was a SCUBA diver and a sky diver, accumulating 600 jumps, including one bridge jump and one 20,000 ft jump. When not flying, Bill enjoyed racing, shooting sports and his son’s various activities.

Preceding him in death was his mother, Judy. He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Heather, and his son, Gunnar, Menomonie; father Walt (Karie) Cowden, Halstad, Minn.; sister, Kim Cowden, Grand Forks, N.D.; and brother, Kevin Cowden, Maple Grove, Minn.; as well as numerous nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

Funeral Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 6, 2014, at Menomonie Alliance Church, 502 21st Street North, Menomonie. Visitation will be from 9 a.m. until time of service. Burial will take place at Northern Wisconsin Veterans Cemetery in Spooner with military honors. There will also be a memorial service at 2 p.m. on Friday, June 13, 2014, at the Fargo Air Museum, 1609 19th Ave. North, Fargo, N.D..

Olson Funeral Home of Menomonie is serving the family.

To share a memory, please visit obituaries at www.olsonfuneral.com


   Bill Cowden 



NWA/DL FO William M. Cowden: http://pcnflightwest.blogspot.com

William M. Cowden, age 47 of Menomonie, WI died unexpectedly on Sunday, June 1, 2014 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. 

Funeral Services will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, June 6, 2014 at Menomonie Alliance Church, 502 21st St N, Menomonie WI. Visitation will be from 9:00 a.m. until time of service.

Funeral Services
Visitation
Friday, June 06
9:00 AM to 11:00 AM 
Menomonie Alliance Church
502 21st St. N. Menomonie, WI 54751

Funeral Service
Friday, June 06
11:00 AM  
Menomonie Alliance Church
502 21st St. N. Menomonie, WI 54751


http://www.olsonfuneral.com


Bill Cowden
 Aerobatics pilot Bill Cowden stops for a photo next to his Yak 55M. Cowden, an airline pilot by profession, has been flying aerobatics in air shows for five years.
 Photo by Phillip Bock


Posted: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 10:51 am
Updated: 1:56 pm, Tue Oct 9, 2012. 

Aerobatic pilots took to the skies during Wheels and Wings with an arsenal of high-flying flips, loops and corkscrews that wowed audiences and put pilots’ bodies to the test.

Airline pilot Grant Nielsen of New Richmond screeched across the blue afternoon sky in his 1994 built Pits Special, pulling off maneuvers that pushed against his body with more than two Gs (gravitational forces). The pilot has been flying acrobatics for years, but only received his FAA authorization to fly in air shows this past August.

“I’ve been flying acrobatics for quite awhile,” he said. “I grew up around airports and always liked flying, but it was so expensive I couldn’t justify doing it. Then, when I was 20 years old, I went on my first aerobatics flight and was hooked. I started taking lessons that year.”

Eighteen years later, the pilot is still following his dream. The Wheels and Wings audience shielded their eyes from the afternoon sun as they looked to the skies, watching as Nielsen looped, rolled, and dove his way effortlessly over the airport.

“It’s just much fun and I enjoy it so much,” he said.

Of course, it’s not as easy as Nielsen makes it seem. The pilot said he starts out every spring easing into new tricks to acclimate his body to the gravitational forces. The G-force often causes air sickness early on, he said, but the body can build up a tolerance to the affects.

“Every spring, even though I’ve been doing it for years, I have to start a little easier and just start pulling more and more Gs to get my tolerance up,” he said. “I usually get queasy every spring during the first few flights.”

Nielsen fits snugly into his small plane. The lap belt, which has a ratchet to make sure Nielsen is strapped in tight, is all that holds the pilot in his plane as he careens across the sky. It is so tight that the belt sometimes bruises his thighs. The tight fit in the tiny cockpit occasionally causes him harm as well, he said.

“I fit in it like a cork,” he laughs. “When I’m practicing new maneuvers I’ll come back with bruises on my shoulders. The inside of my knees can get bruised when I’m aggressive with the [steering] stick. I’ll smack myself pretty good. The seatbelt can leave bruises, too.”

For his show Saturday, Nielsen said he was set to perform his “regular” routine, but was forced to improvise when high winds swept through the sky.

“Today, with the strong wind, I was traveling much faster, so I had trouble getting all the maneuvers in due to the higher speed,” he explained. ”You have to have a plan, but you have to  be able to improvise.”

Bill Cowden, a pilot from Eau Claire, said his set of aerobatics Saturday was also affected by the high winds.

“I threw some low maneuvers, but with the wind today I had to adjust a few things,” he said.

Cowden has been flying in air shows for five years, but was granted his low altitude “surface level” waiver just below the show — which meant he could perform tricks just above the runway.

“We had a great time here and it’s great to perform for the folks,” he said.

The pilot flew a Russian built Yak 55M for his flight, hitting seven Gs during his maneuvers.

“The airplane sits so my knees are kind of in the air, so it’s actually a good position for pulling Gs,” he said. “You pull quick, so the Gs aren’t sustained for a long time.”

The pilot said he started flying aerobatics years ago in a Cessna 150, but went on hiatus from aerobatics when he entered the Air Force and flew F-16 fighter jets. When he retired in 2006, Cowden said he got right back into aerobatics.

“I always had that desire to fly upside down,” he chuckled. “I still get a thrill with it. Flying in general is very precision based and there is never a flight that will be perfect, so I’m always striving for that perfection.”


Story and photo:   http://www.presspubs.com


UPDATE: Mon 10:13 AM, June 2, 2014 

The Stevens Point Police has identified the pilot killed in a weekend airshow as William M. Cowden, 47, of Menomonie, Wis.

Police say Cowden was the owner and sole pilot of the plane.

The Stevens Point Police Department released the scene to FFA (Federal Aviation Administration) officials early this morning to conduct their investigation.

The cause of the crash is still unknown. No other details are available at this time.

Police say the Green Circle Trail, which runs near the crash site, will be open this morning.

A Fargo radio station reports Cowden was a volunteer at the Fargo Air Museum. Dick Walstad was a friend of Cowden's and co-chair of the Fargo Airsho.

Click the links below to hear his reaction and how he remember his friend.

Friend Reacts
Friend Reacts

------------------------------------------------------------------------
UPDATE: Mon 9:25 AM, June 2, 2014

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (AP) -- Police say a small plane crashed at an air show in central Wisconsin, killing the 47-year-old pilot.

The crash happened about 12:20 p.m. Sunday at the Stevens Point Municipal Airport. Police say the plane was performing aerial maneuvers when it went down in a wooded area about 1,000 feet east of the airport runway.

The pilot's name hasn't been released.

Police ended the show and secured the scene. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will conduct an investigation.

Melvin Burskey of Neenah was at the show. He tells Stevens Point Journal Media he couldn't believe what he saw. He says there was a puff of smoke and then the plane went down.

The air show lineup was to include aerobatic performances and World War II aircraft displays.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
UPDATE: June 1st, 2014 5:00 PM

A performer in the Steven Point Air Show is dead after his plane crashed while performing an aerial maneuver at the show this afternoon.

One witness tells us the pilot was making what appeared to be a question mark in smoke trails when it sounded like the engine failed.

"The single plane was performing aerial maneuvers when it went down in a wooded area approximately 1,000 feet east of the airport runway. The 47-year was pronounced dead at the scene," Sgt. Tony Babl of the Stevens Point Police Department said during a press conference Sunday afternoon.

The male pilot was the only one in the Yak 55M at the time of the crash. He is believed to be from Wisconsin.

Police say at this point they do not know what caused the plane to crash. The investigation will be lead by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

The air show has been cancelled. The airport was temporarily closed, but re-opened at 4:00 PM.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
UPDATE: June 1st, 2014 2:25 PM

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (AP) -- A plane has crashed at the Stevens Point Airshow, and officials have closed the airport and dismissed the crowds.

The crash happened Sunday afternoon at the Stevens Point Municipal Airport. There was no immediate word on the extent of any casualties.

The plane was performing an aerial trick when it went down behind a row of trees.

The investigation will be led by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board.

The events scheduled for the airshow included aerobatic performances and World War II aircraft displays.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
NewsChannel 7 is getting reports of a plane crash at the Steven Point Air Show.

A witness tells NewsChannel 7 the crash happened shortly after noon Sunday. He said the pilot was flying when all of the sudden the plane went straight down into the woods.

Nothing is being confirmed yet, but people on scene are saying a number of agencies appear to be responding, including a medical helicopter.

We have no word yet on the condition of the pilot. We are hearing the air show has been cancelled.

Source: Mystery plane in Quincy, Massachusetts, was following Matanov

Numerous residents complained about the low-altitude planes flying at odd hours in the city, though the FAA refused to comment on its purpose beyond confirming it was not an aerial drone.

QUINCY – The mysterious  plane that made overnight loops around Quincy and perplexed a slew of city residents last spring was being used for surveillance of Khairullozhon Matanov, the latest man charged in the Boston Marathon bombings investigation, a source with knowledge of the case said Friday.

The source, who spoke to The Patriot Ledger on a condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the case, said the aircraft was being used by investigators to track Matanov, who lives on Common Street in West Quincy.

Last spring, residents from Wollaston to West Quincy called the city and police to complain about an aircraft making wide, repeated loops in the air, between about 7 p.m. and 4 a.m. The residents described a low-pitch humming sound coming from the aircraft, and some said it was reminiscent of a drone, which is an unmanned aircraft operated by remote control.

In response, the Federal Aviation Administration said it knew what was up there but it wouldn’t tell the public. “It’s not a drone,” FAA spokesman Jim Peters said at the time. “It’s an authorized flight, and we are aware of it.”

The source who confirmed the aircraft was being used to surveil Matanov said investigators followed him for about a year, waiting to see if he was involved in a larger conspiracy.


Story:   http://www.patriotledger.com

Pennsylvania: Aerial survey pilot Steve Benner has distinct perspective

Steve Benner is searching — for what, he’s not sure. 

He’ll know when he sees it.

Benner’s at the controls of a Cessna Skylark II, high over Ferguson Township, not far from his Pine Grove Mills home. He peers out his side window at the ground below, scanning for something unusual, noteworthy, photogenic.

His Canon digital camera sits on his lap, ready to go.

A veteran aerial survey pilot, Benner, 53, now takes different types of shots from above — dramatic images of landscapes full of color, shapes, light, shadows and textures, geography as art.

He has captured memorable perspectives of desert and mountain terrain, but on this May morning, a simple farm field catches his eye.

It’s a study in green, an irresistible checkerboard of cut and fallow sections. Most people would pass right by it on the ground, but Benner literally brings a different perspective.

This is worth a few clicks.

He slows the plane to about 80 knots and opens his window. Cool air rushes into the cabin.

“With that much green and that much sun today, this might work,” he says over the roar.

Quickly shifting from the controls, he leans over and snaps off some shots. If they turn out good, once again he’ll have found gold.

“It could be anything,” he later says. “That’s much of the fun of it: not going out with any intention to shoot anything, just seeing what you can find.”

Finding looks

He has discovered plenty of masterpieces.

Preserved by his lens, eastern Maine wild blueberry bogs seen from the air resemble a mottled wound, full of purple swatches and ponds forming dark whorls.

Fields south of Oklahoma City sport wavy, twisting furrows almost like runes, as though someone were trying to communicate with an alien mothership.

In contrast, the precise circular layout of a suburban Phoenix development brings to mind both an ancient maze and modern electronic circuitry.

Behind a lone Arizona butte in the remains of the day, a giant triangle of a shadow stretches across the desert, a sun dial for the gods.

But Meteor Crater, another Arizona subject, provided one of his all-time favorite shots.

As Benner recalls, he was flying one morning back from a two-month aerial mapping job in California, cruising at about 11,000 feet. All of a sudden, he realized that Meteor Crater, the result of a cataclysmic meteorite collision 50,000 years ago, was close.

He had never seen the enormous pit in the middle of nowhere, and hoped he would catch a glimpse. But to his delight, it just appeared on his side as if custom-ordered, nicely aligned with Humphrey’s Peak, 40 miles away near Flagstaff, in the background.

Years later, he calls it “the ultimate found look.”

“I didn’t have to move the airplane at all,” he said. “The crater was in the perfect spot for the shot. Talk about stumbling upon a shot out of dumb luck — that was definitely the case with this one.”

In-flight field trips

 
Flying came first.

Growing up locally, Benner started taking flight lessons at 14 and soloed two years later out of Mifflintown Airport in Juniata County. It was a beautiful day, he remembers, so calm his instructor couldn’t resist cracking a joke.

“He said, ‘I could have soloed your grandmother,’ ” Benner said.

But no matter: He had his wings.

“You don’t have to twist my arm to fly,” he said. “It’s all I’ve wanted to do since I was 12.”

Cameras came next.

“I was always interested in photography,” he said. “It kind of bit me after college.”

Along the way to an earth sciences degree at Penn State, he developed an appreciation for Mother Nature’s myriad wrinkles and folds. Geomorphology, the study of landforms and the processes that shape them, became a favorite subject.

He loved it even more once his feet left the ground.

“Every flight was like a field trip,” he said. “We’d talk about a certain landform and then I’d go see it.”

Each geomorphology class also fueled his photographic aspirations.

“We’d see this picture in a textbook, and I’d think, ‘Hey, I could be taking these,’ ” he said.

There’s an art to the science

After graduation, Benner learned all about “mowing the grass.”

He didn’t join a landscaping company, but rather an aerial mapping one in New Jersey. The term is used to describe the methodical process of collecting geographic data.

Surveys are done either with overlapping photos taken by sophisticated cameras “that cost three times the plane,” as Benner says, or with LIDAR, Light Detection and Ranging equipment that send out thousands of laser pulses a second “to create a very dense grid of data.”

Survey pilots must fly exact grids over their assigned areas, maintaining their target altitude and ground speed, sometimes through mercurial winds and weather.

“It’s usually OK to go slower, but it’s not OK to go faster because then there are gaps in the data,” Benner said.

When flights last for hours, often at night using LIDAR and by instrument, and with “very tight specs” in any case, concentration becomes paramount, Benner said. He relied on bags of Life Saver mints to withstand the tedium of long jobs and stay alert.

“It requires very precise flying,” he said. “It makes you a good pilot.”

Back in labs, technicians convert the raw data into extremely accurate maps and three-dimensional renderings of landscapes, a process called photogrammetry.

To ensure the data’s accuracy, mapping planes also employ survey-grade airborne GPS sensors and inertial measurement units. IMUs, technology first used in cruise missiles, constantly measure atmospheric conditions and an aircraft’s ever-changing speed, altitude and position relative to the ground.

“Even with the best flying on a smooth day, the aircraft is never traveling straight and level,” Benner said.

As he continued in the business, moving to State College in 1985 and eventually co-owning a firm, he landed occasional oblique photography gigs, the kind of “pretty pictures” from above and at an angle he eventually turned into a hobby.

He credits veteran aerial photographer Don Stephenson, who loved oblique photography, for helping fuel his interest. Stephenson took Benner under his wing early on.

“He was an institution,” Benner said. “He had been doing it forever.”

Taken for clients, his oblique photos usually were of businesses, suitable for framing in offices, or of construction sites for developers.

But on his many trips, including one to Mexico to map archaeological ruins cloaked by jungle, Benner began taking note of more impressive subjects. Buildings can’t hold a candle to the majesty of the Sierra Nevada mountains, a Michigan island dotting Lake Superior’s azure waters or PNC Park in Pittsburgh on Opening Day.

It wasn’t long before he was taking photos.

Benner considered himself “very lucky.”

“In the course of flying all over the country and Mexico, we got to see some really cool stuff,” he said.

These days, he’s also taking a break from survey flights, his new day job focused on marketing and promoting the service and technology.

He misses the flying, but not the unpredictable schedules and the weeks away from his three children. Now he has more time to spend with them, his two stepchildren and his fiancée.

His current life also gives him more chances to hunt for fleeting combinations of texture and light, art that can’t be planned but only recognized.

“Most of my aerial photography is going out to see what I can see,” he said.

Ann Kasunich, a longtime friend and former aerial mapping and surveying colleague now living in Boulder, Colo., for years has been encouraging Benner to pursue his artistic images.

“He had said to me that he hadn’t really considered his photography as art,” Kasunich said. “And I was thinking, ‘How is that possible?’ ”

She said she realized his potential during their mapping days. There was an art to the science, but Benner went far beyond.

“Even then I could see such a stark contrast to what the company was producing and what he was doing up there on his own just to bring in extra business,” she said.

Kasunich said she likes the way Benner now plays with color, light, forms and structure in his compositions. Having studied geography and cartography, she also appreciates his enthusiasm for the beauty of landforms.

“I’ve always believed he had the heart of a poet, and his photography, to me, is his poetry,” she said. “I’ve always felt that his photography was his poetic expression of what he sees.”

Always exciting

 
Benner downplays any talk of artistry.

“It’s just a matter of looking out the window and seeing that the light is right,” he said. “You’re bound to get something.”

But when he’s in his element, his artistic sensibility becomes apparent. He notices the details others would miss.

“Look at the differences in those Christmas trees,” he said, passing over groves of varying heights on a local farm.

The huge scar of the Oak Hall quarry didn’t escape his notice.

“That thing is a problem with taking pictures of Mount Nittany,” he said. “All the angles you want, it’s in it. You have to use a little creativity.”

And like many artists, he has his obsessions. He still hasn’t caught the perfect light that would silhouette the parallel ridges near Seven Mountains against each other.

“The last time I got something close to what I wanted was 20 years ago,” he said. “So that’s something I’m still looking for.”

But even if a flight yields nothing, it’s never a total wash.

A passenger recently marveled at the scenery below — the endless shades of green, the creeks snaking through checkered fields — and the serenity above.

“You and me both,” Benner said. “It never gets old.”

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