Thursday, June 19, 2014

Boeing IB75A Stearman, N450JW: Accident occurred June 22, 2013 in Dayton, Ohio

NTSB Identification: CEN13FA274
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, June 22, 2013 in Dayton, OH
Aircraft: BOEING-STEARMAN IB75A, registration: N450JW
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.


On June 22, 2013, at 1247 eastern daylight time, a Boeing IB75A, N450JW, impacted terrain at the Dayton International Airport (KDAY), Dayton, Ohio. The commercial pilot and wing walker were both fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to a private individual and operated by Jane Wicker Airshows under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an airshow performance. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The local flight originated from KDAY about 1235.

The flight was performing for the 2013 Vectren Dayton Air Show, which was located at KDAY. The performance was the fourth act scheduled on June 22. Video and photos submitted by spectators, who witnessed the accident, captured the airplane during the performance. The evidence showed the airplane completed a left "tear drop" style turn as the wing walker positioned herself on the lower left wing. The airplane then rolled left to fly inverted. While flying from the southwest to the northeast in front of the spectators, the airplane's nose pitched slightly above the horizon. The airplane then abruptly rolled to the right and impacted terrain in a left wing low attitude. A post impact fire ensued and consumed a majority of the right wing and forward portion of the fuselage.

Statements gathered by the NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) indicated that the pilot and wing walker had practiced the performance the day prior to the accident. Following the practice, neither the pilot nor the pilot-rated wing walker, reported any mechanical anomalies with the airplane to the air show crew.



The pilot, age 64, held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, airplane single engine sea, and glider. On August 30, 2012, he was issued a second class medical certificate with the restriction that he must wear corrective lenses. The pilot reported his use of Lisinopril and Triamterene to control hypertension with no reported side effects. On September 16, 2012, the pilot was issued a statement of acrobatic competency. He was authorized to perform solo aerobatics, fly wing walker maneuvers, and "circle the jumper." His altitude limitation was level 1 restricted and he was authorized to perform these events in all variants of the Extra 300, Boeing Stearman, and Pitts Special. A review of the pilot's log book revealed that the pilot had 1,190 hours, 95 hours in make and model, and about 11 hours in N450JW. The pilot did not log any flights from October 20, 2012, until April 13, 2013, which could be attributed to the air show off season. From April 13, 2013, he logged 16 hours of total time, 4.5 hours in make and model and about 1.5 hours in N450JW. The last airshow that the pilot performed with the accident wing walker was August 21, 2012.

The pilot practiced the aerial routine the day prior without incident. Members of the airshow crew ate dinner with the pilot the night prior, between 1900-2100. The pilot consumed about 1.5 beers with his meal. The pilot and crew went back to their hotel. They met the following morning from 0745-0830 the crew ate breakfast and the pilot ate a bagel with cream cheese. At 1100 the pilot ate lunch. Throughout the day the crew recalled that the pilot stayed out of the sun and was drinking water. Prior to flight, the pilot sat in an air conditioned truck for at least 10 minutes. Interactions with him where uneventful and his behavior was described as normal.

Wing walker

The wing walker, age 45, held a commercial pilot certificate for airplane single engine land, airplane multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. The wing walker had about 6 years of experience and had been performing the planned routine for the previous 3 years. The wing walker was also the owner of the accident airplane.


The Boeing-Stearman IB75A, serial number 75-789 was manufactured in 1941 as a model A75N1. In 1950, modifications were made to the airplane and the model type changed to IB75A. A 450-horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN-1 fuel-injected engine drove a two bladed, metal, Hamilton Standard 2D30 propeller. On December 8, 2009, the pilot purchased the airplane and on May 3, 2010, the airplane was registered with the FAA under the experimental exhibition category. On September 26, 2011, the airplane was last registered under the restricted category for the purpose of wing walking. The airplane was modified with an inverted fuel and oil system, and a four aileron system.

A combined 100 hour and annual inspection were accomplished on April 23, 2013, at a tachometer time of 260.7 hours, and 597.5 hours since the engine's last major overhaul.


Weather at the time of the accident was wind from 220 degrees at 10 knots, visibility 9 miles, a broken ceiling at 3,500 feet, temperature 86° Fahrenheit (F), dew point 72° F, and a barometric pressure of 30.18 inches of mercury.


The air show airspace was orientated along runway 6L/24R. The scheduled wing walking performance was flown by the accident pilot with events being performed by the wing walker. The designated airshow area was 12,000 feet long and 2,700 feet wide. The accident airplane was assigned to the Category III performance area which provided a 500 foot airspace buffer between the performance and the spectators. The wreckage came to rest over 500 feet from the fence line of the spectator area within the assigned performance area. A document depicting the airshow's layout is included in this report's docket.

The airport's elevation is 1,009 feet. Utilizing the barometric pressure, the pilot would have set about 29.09, in order to achieve "QFE" or a reading of 0 feet on the airplane's altimeter.


The crash site was a grass area south of the intersection of taxiway R and taxiway Z. The debris field followed a 050° heading and was about 145 feet long. The first ground scars were two parallel scars consistent with the left wing's impact. About 40 feet from the beginning of the ground scars was the impact crater. The crater was 11 feet long, 6 feet wide, and at least 13 inches deep. The main wreckage came to rest 105 feet from the impact crater.

A postaccident examination of the airplane was conducted by the NTSB and FAA. Rudder and elevator control continuity was established from the rudder to the aft seat rudder pedals and the elevator to the control stick. The ailerons controls were broken and torn in multiple locations. The breaks and tear patterns were identified on each opposite surface. Thermal damage was sustained to the right aileron's connecting rod from the inboard connector to the outboard hinge. However, each of the rod ends remained attached and secured in their respective hinges.

The cockpit instrumentation sustained minor damage. The following readings, in part, displayed:
Altimeter: 300 feet
Kollmans window: 29.09
Manifold pressure: 30 inches
Tachometer hour: 284.9

The two metal propeller blades were labelled A and B for documentation purposes only. Blade A displayed leading edge polishing, nick and gouges, and chord wise scratches. From the blade's mid-span to the blade tip, the blade was curled rearward. Blade B displayed leading edge polishing, nicks and gouges, and chordwise scratches. The blade displayed an S-bend along its entire length. Cylinders number 2, 3, and 4 were found separated from the engine. No preimpact anomalies were detected with the airframe or engine.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Montgomery County Coroner's Office. The coroner ruled the cause of death as the result of multiple trauma. The manner of death was ruled an accident.

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Testing was negative for presence of carbon monoxide and ethanol. Triamterene was detected in urine and blood. The pilot's use of triamterene was previously reported to the FAA.


Accident sequence

Several videos and photographs were taken of the accident sequence by the airshow spectators. The description of the deflection of the flight controls are described using the airplane's upright orientation and the direction is not reversed when describing the flight control position when the airplane is inverted.

The accident maneuver began with the pilot climbing up and away from the crowd in order to allow the wing walker to position herself under the right lower wing. During the maneuver, the airplane is turned and aligned parallel to and behind the Category III show line. The accident sequence climb out was gradual as the airplane completed the teardrop maneuver and turned to position along the show line. At 8 seconds prior to impact, the airplane pitched nose up and began a left roll. As the airplane rolled left through 45°, the pilot applied right rudder and the rudder would remain deflected right throughout the accident sequence. At 6 seconds prior to impact, the airplane rolled through 90°, the airplane's elevator is near neutral with a slight deflection downward toward the "nose-down" position, and the rudder deflected right. The airplane did not reach a completely inverted positions and stops turning about 150°. At 2 seconds prior to impact and nearly inverted, the ailerons deflect to command a right roll and the elevator deflects upward, trailing edge up relative to the fuselage. The airplane pitched toward the ground and begins a descending right roll. The control inputs continued as the airplane collided with terrain.

Video study

A study of videos submitted to the NTSB was conducted in order to better under the airplane's flight parameters prior to the accident. Of the numerous videos submitted, five were selected for the study based on their location, duration, and image quality. The accident maneuver began with the airplane flying away from the crowd to the west in a climbing teardrop turn to align itself with show line parallel to runway 6L. As the airplane turned toward the crowd it began descending. The wing walker was hanging inverted by her legs from the leading edge of the lower left wing. About 9 seconds prior to the accident the airplane pitched up and rolled left. The airplane passed through 90° of roll about 6 seconds prior to the accident; a still image captured the airplane with a slightly trailing edge down elevator position. The airplane continued its roll until it was nearly inverted, but stopped at 156°or 24° short of fully inverted flight. The wing walker remained seated on the leading edge of the lower right wing. About 1.86 seconds prior to the accident, an extracted frame from a video showed the elevator was in a neutral position and the rudder was deflected trailing edge right. The airplane's flightpath prior to the right roll was toward hangers and in the proximity of a parked Boeing 757. About 1.40 seconds prior to the accident with the airplane still nearly inverted, the elevator deflected trailing edge up with the rudder still deflected trailing edge right. The airplane then pitched toward the ground at an estimated rate of 55° per second. About 0.10 second later, the aileron on the lower left wing was deflected trailing edge down and the airplane rolled to the right as it pitched toward the ground. The positions of the other ailerons were not visible in the frame. During the final 2 seconds, the airplane's groundspeed reduced from about 106 knots to 84 knots.

Airspeed Calculations

The video study indicated that the ground speed during the final maneuver slowed from 106 knots to 84 knots. Correcting for the prevailing wind, the true airspeed decreased from about 96 to 74 knots and the calibrated airspeed decreased from about 92 knots to 71 knots (106 mph to 82 mph). Of note, the maneuver's target airspeed is reported to be 110 mph.


Planned "On Top of the World" maneuver

The wing walker's ex-husband was one of her regular pilots and was very familiar with the accident routine. He estimated that he flew the maneuver with the wing walker between 300-350 times. He stated the accident maneuver flown follows a maneuver where the wing walker is suspended by her ankles at the end strut. At the end of the pass she repositions herself on the wing for the next maneuver. The pilot flies a 270° re-positioning turn. The re-positioning turn has two purposes: position to perform in front of the crowd's field of view and gain altitude to aid in picking up speed for the maneuver's entry. During the turn the airspeed is reduced between 70-80 mph indicated airspeed to reduce the airflow against her body as she moves along the wings. After completing the turn and the wing walker sitting in position, the pilot notifies the wing walker that he is beginning the maneuver. The pilot adds engine power, dives the airplane down, and the wing walker extends her body beneath the wing. The airplane's is dived to reach a minimum of 100 mph before the pilot pitches the nose of the airplane between 25-30° nose high and rolls inverted. The airplane should stabilize inverted, wings level at 110 mph and 150 feet AGL. Engine power is reduced to about 1/3 throttle setting, which maintains the 110 mph and allows a margin of power sufficient to climb inverted if needed. To exit the maneuver, the pilot pushes the stick forward to get the airplane's nose above the horizon and the airplane is rolled to the left. The left roll ensures that the wing walker's body remains in a positive G condition, and therefore in contact with the wing throughout the maneuver.

Review of the accident maneuver

The ex-husband/regular pilot was not in attendance at the airshow, and was provided video to review the accident sequence. When asked about to review the maneuver flown on the day of the accident, he stated that he has never seen the accident pilot fly that way and had never seen the planned maneuver flown in that manner. He described the re-position turn as shallow with little climb. In addition, the airplane didn't appear to gain much airspeed. When repositioned for the maneuver, the airplane was not dived at a steep angle to gain airspeed and the wing walker began extending later than normal. The airplane pitch up was lower than normal and as the pilot rolled towards the inverted position, the airplane never got inverted. The airplane's roll toward inverted was stopped short of expected and appeared to stop with bank taking the airplane towards the crowd line. The airplane seems to have a predominant sink rate throughout the maneuver and the pilot likely pushed forward stick to arrest the sink rate, but this would have altered the flight path more towards the crowd line. During the maneuver, there was a moment when the regular pilot perceived that the airplane's descent was arrested and the airplane was tracked level. He described this condition as key to an aerobatic pilot since the airplane is in a stable condition. To exit the inverted maneuver, a pilot should apply power and either perform a climb away from the ground, or allow for enough energy for a coordinate turn. He described the pilot's next action as a reversed right turn which appeared to be a quick, "knee-jerk" reaction. He theorized that the pilot may have been "spooked" perhaps by a potential collision conflict with a parked airplane on the ramp or other obstruction. The pilot rolled right and pulled back on the stick to perform a "dish out" maneuver, but performed this maneuver into the ground.

Perceived collision potential

On the day of the accident, there was a parked Boeing 757-200 on runway 36/18 adjacent to the intersection of taxiway C and taxiway V, over 700 feet behind the spectator line. The height to the top of the fuselage is 20 feet, 7 inches and the height to the top of the vertical stabilizer is 44 feet, 6 inches. The 757 was parked about 0.3 miles east-southeast of the accident site. In addition, about a 1/2 east-southeast to south of the accident site, there were several aircraft hangers and buildings ranging in heights from 35-50 feet.

Crew prebrief

During the morning prebrief, a crew member overheard the wing walker talking with the pilot. She commented that the pilot did not reduce power enough prior to her getting into positions around the wings. The crew member commented that the pilot listened closely and appeared to be deep in thought after the conversation.

Emergency Response

Due to a prior accident in 2007, aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) vehicles were prepositioned for a quick response to an emergency. On the day of the accident, two ARFF vehicles were prepositioned, one at taxiway M near the terminal apron (vehicle 22) and one at the intersection of taxiway V and C (vehicle 23). About 1 minutes and 5 seconds after the accident, vehicle 23 arrived on scene and began firefighting efforts. The main fire was extinguished within 20 seconds. Vehicle 22 arrived on scene 1.5 minutes later to provide assistance.


Nearly one year ago, veteran wing walker Jane Wicker and pilot Charlie Schwenker died in a fiery biplane crash at the Dayton Air Show. Reporter Barrie Barber is investigating what has happened since that tragedy.

Sunday's story also explains the changes made at this year's air show to better respond to emergencies.



NTSB Identification: CEN13FA274
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, June 22, 2013 in Dayton, OH
Aircraft: BOEING-STEARMAN IB75A, registration: N450JW
Injuries: 2 Fatal,2 Minor.

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 22, 2013, about 1245 eastern daylight time, a Boeing-Stearman IB75A airplane, N450JW, impacted terrain at Dayton International Airport (KDAY), Dayton, Ohio. The commercial pilot and wing walker were both fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to a private citizen and operated by Jane Wicker Airshows under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The local flight was performing for the 2013 Vectren Dayton Air Show at KDAY and departed KDAY about 1235.

The air show airspace was orientated along runway 6L/24R. The performance was the fourth act scheduled on June 22.

Video and photos submitted by spectators captured the airplane during the performance and accident. A review of the photography showed the airplane completed a left “tear drop” style turn, positioning to cross in front of the spectators from the left. The wing walker had positioned herself on the bottom side of the lower left wing. As the airplane approached the crowd, it rolled upside down. While flying inverted from the southeast to the northwest in front of the spectators, the airplane’s nose pitched slightly above the horizon. The airplane abruptly rolled to the right and impacted terrain in a descending left-wing-low attitude. A postimpact fire ensued and consumed a majority of the right wing and forward portion of the fuselage.

The accident site was a grass area south of the intersection of taxiway R and taxiway Z. The debris field followed a 050 degree heading and was about 145 feet long. The first ground scars were two parallel scars, consistent with the left wing’s impact. The impact crater, which was 11 feet long, 6 feet wide, and at least 13 inches deep, was located about 40 feet from the beginning of the ground scars. The main wreckage came to rest 105 feet from the impact crater. All flight controls were accounted for at the accident site. The wreckage was documented and transported to a secure location for further examination.

Initial statements gathered by the NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration indicated that the pilot and wing walker had practiced the performance the day before the accident. Following the practice, neither the pilot nor the pilot-rated wing walker, reported any mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane.

At the time of the accident, wind was recorded from 220 degrees at 10 knots, visibility at 9 miles, a broken ceiling at 3,500 feet, temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dew point of 72 F, and barometric pressure of 30.18 inches of mercury.

The airport without pilots or aircraft

In April of this year, the Spanish air safety authority, along with the ministerial departments of the government, announced that pilot-less aircraft, or “drones” as they have become known, will be banned from flying for commercial activities in the country´s air space.

This move would ban the use of remotely flown aircraft which are currently used for photography, irrigation, security and other purposes, although it would not rule out the use of military drones.

The exclusion of the flying devices from the skies of Spain may seem like nothing more than the means of controlling a potential hazard, but the subject raised the question as to what would therefore happen to the aerodrome built specifically for drones in the Huelva area of Andalucía.

Between the central and autonomous governments, 40 million euro was invested in the CEUS, or Centro de Ensayos y Experimentación de Aviones no Tripulados de Medio y Gran Tamaño, in El Aeronosillo. The site, on land belonging to the Moguer area, near the Doñana Natural Park, was already the subject of considerable controversy as the construction was protected by environmental laws, as it is the home breeding lynx, a species in extreme threat of extinction.

Now, rather than banning drones at the facility outright, the government is proposing a series of controls to restrict the types of aircraft that can use the facility. However, according to Rosa Díez, the coordinator for the UPyD group, “there is currently no aerospace company in the market that intends to build a drone that can use CEUS”, and although the restrictions are eased for those aircraft over 650 kilos in weight, no such aircraft actually exists around the globe.

In fact, 90% of the drones on the list are unable to use the airfield under the current rules. There is only one, which belonging to Airbus, the Atalante model, that has already flown in Spain and therefore unlikely to need test facilities.

A second center was also constructed in the Jaén town of Villacarrillo, known as the Centro de Vuelos Experimentales con Aviones no Tripulados, operated by ATLAS, the Air Traffic Laboratory for Advanced unmanned Systems. This was the first center to open, with a 4.2 million euro budget.

The safety agency and government are now working on the document to regulate the use of drones, the results which will be published once complete, when the future of these multimillion euro, environmentally destroying facilities may be revealed.

Story and photos:

Maule MX-7-235 Star Rocket , N5665A: Accident occurred June 19, 2014 in Port Orchard, Washington

NTSB Identification: WPR14CA254
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, June 19, 2014 in Port Orchard, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/24/2014
Aircraft: MAULE MX 7-235, registration: N5665A
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The pilot reported that as he flew over the airstrip, winds were light in the area and the wind sock indicated 4-6 knots. He decided to land with full flaps. Immediately after touchdown the airplane collided with a rut which resulted in two bounces. The pilot added power and rudder control after the first bounce and then noticed the airplane was being pushed to the left by variable wind conditions. After the second bounce he noticed more significant wind conditions and aborted the landing by advancing full throttle. The pilot stated he " …got hit with a pretty substantial windshear…" The airplane collided with trees on the left side of the airstrip and nosed over. The fuselage and wings were substantially damaged. The pilot reported no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's delayed remedial action and failure to maintain directional control.

FAA Seattle FSDO-01

A small plane has crashed at Vaughan Ranch Airfield Port Orchard.

Kitsap County dispatchers said the crash happened around 5:43 p.m. Thursday. 

While it's unknown how many people were on board, minor injuries were sustained.  

A photo taken at the scene shows the plane upside down on the ground.

Kitsap Fire crews and Kitsap County Sheriff's deputies are at the scene.

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer Urges FAA Administrator Michael Huerta to Apply Same Rest Rules to Cargo and Passenger Pilots

New Rest Rules Ignore Congressional Intent – Allowing Cargo Pilots to be on Duty 60 Percent Longer Than Passenger Pilots
Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) sent a letter to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta today urging him to close a loophole that left cargo pilots out of new rest rules and permits them to fly with less rest than commercial pilots. 

“In January, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finalized a rule that set minimum rest and duty requirements to combat pilot fatigue,” Senator Boxer wrote. “While I support this new rule, I am disappointed and alarmed that the FAA decided to exempt cargo pilots from its requirements.” 

In February, the National Transportation Safety Board released a never-before-heard conversation between pilots of the tragic Birmingham, Alabama cargo plane crash displaying their concern for their own fatigue, and for the differing rules on rest for cargo pilots as opposed to passenger pilots. Captain Cerea Beal Jr. and First Officer Shanda Fannin were both killed in the crash. 

Read more here:

U.S. Coast Guard seeks public’s help in identifying hoax caller – Audio available

SEATTLE — The U.S. Coast Guard is seeking the public’s help in identifying a hoax caller that made multiple false distress calls earlier this month in the Puget Sound area.
Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service Puget Sound in Seattle received a Mayday call via VHF-FM radio channel 14 around 11 p.m., May 31, reporting that five people were donning life jackets and abandoning the fishing vessel Bristol Maid, reported to be on fire in Lilliwaup Bay, Hood Canal. No other communications were received.

First call

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound in Seattle issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast, but did not receive any response.

Two Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles, a Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat — Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Seattle, and a Mason County Sheriff’s Office boatcrew completed multiple searches of the area, but found no signs of distress. The cost of the search totaled approximately $138,000.

The search was suspended five hours after the initial call because no signs of distress were found, no additional information was provided and no missing persons were reported to the Coast Guard or local authorities.

Watchstanders at VTS Puget Sound received a similar call via VHF-FM radio channel 14 around 9 p.m. the following evening, reporting that two adults and a child were donning life jackets and abandoning a vessel taking on water between Hoodsport and Lilliwaup Bay on Hood Canal. The reporting source initially referred to his vessel as Bristol Maid, the same vessel reported to be in distress the previous night, but later changed the name to Aleutian Beauty. No other communications were received.

Second call

A Coast Guard Dolphin helicopter crew, Coast Guard RB-M crew, Mason County Sheriff’s Office boatcrew and tribal fisheries boatcrew searched for more than three hours without finding any signs of distress. The cost of the search totaled approximately $71,059.

Officials believe the same caller placed a third false call to the Coast Guard around 10 p.m. on June 2.

Third call

“The Coast Guard takes every distress call seriously,” said Capt. Michael W. Raymond, commander of Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound. “False distress calls tie up valuable search assets and put our crews at risk. They impede our ability to respond to real cases of distress where lives may be in genuine peril.”

Making a false distress call is a federal felony with a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, a $5,000 civil penalty and possible reimbursement to the Coast Guard for the cost of performing the search.

Boaters are reminded that they are responsible for the safety and actions of their passengers and are encouraged to educate them about the proper use of emergency equipment including a marine VHF radio. Passengers, especially children, may not understand the consequences of playing on the radio and reporting a false distress.

The Coast Guard Investigative Service is asking the public’s help in identifying the person or people responsible for making these false distress calls to the U.S. Coast Guard. 

Anyone with information regarding false distress calls is encouraged to contact the Coast Guard 13th District Command Center at 206-220-7003.


Beatrice Municipal Airport (KBIE) lands three private aircraft Thursday

The Beatrice Municipal Airport hosted three private jets Thursday.

The three aircraft -- a Dassault Falcon, a Cessna Citation and an Embraer Phenom -- traveled to Nebraska for business in and around the Beatrice area. Pilot Juan Gonzalez said private aircraft are vital tools for large companies with multiple locations.

“Business aircraft are time machines,” he said. “It’s a tool. It’s like a computer. You can’t operate without it today, and reach out to customers that are more than a block away.”

Gonzalez said private aircraft are also more convenient than commercial airliners.

“We might make multiple stops in Nebraska in one day,” he explained. “You can’t do that on the airlines. To get out to Nebraska on the airlines, you probably have to fly into Omaha, then drive. It might not take too long, but you can’t drive back to Omaha and fly back the same day. It’s such a great tool to expand your business.”

Airport Manager Diana Smith said private aircraft flies into Beatrice on a consistent basis, bringing business to the community.

“They come in, they come into town and they spend money,” she said. “They go to lunch. Another aircraft has catering brought in. That’s money spent in the City of Beatrice. A lot of times, they spend the night. They’ll stay at the hotels. It’s all part of that economic impact.”

Story and photo gallery:

Wandering Turtles Clog Runways at John F. Kennedy International Airport (KJFK)

JFK, situated in the middle of Jamaica Bay, has been a favorite habitat for diamondback terrapin turtles  

Wildlife biologists working to keep turtles from wandering onto the runways of Kennedy Airport are beginning to see their efforts pay off. 

JFK Airport, situated in the middle of Jamaica Bay, has been a favorite habitat for diamondback terrapin turtles, which only leave the brackish waters and step on shore to lay eggs.

But airplane and turtles sharing the same runway could pose a threat.

"Anything can be a hazard to aircraft, so we monitor all kinds of wildlife population here," said Laura Francoeur, one of Port Authority's wildlife biologists helping to keep the balance between passenger safety and nature preservation.

"Keeping terrapins off also saves the terrapins so they don't get run over potentially, and it also helps eliminate any operational impacts delaying flights at the airport," said Francoeur.

June is the main nesting season for turtles, making it the busiest time of the year for biologists working on the terrapin tracking project.

Two years ago at this time, more than 800 turtles were captured and released into the wild. Last year, the number was 400.

This year, there have only been 80 turtles stopped near the runways of JFK, thanks to new efforts like a black corrugated plastic fence acting as a turtle barrier.

Francoeur says the fence allows the terrapins to actually nest outside the barrier so there's still a habitat available for them to nest in.

But every once in a while, a bold turtle comes out of its shell and makes it past the fence. Port Authority biologists are constantly patrolling the airport and will scoop up the reptile before they reach the runway. The turtles are then tagged, released and tracked.

Story and video:

Tom Tess: General aviation article didn't tell whole story

LAWRENCE — The USA TODAY article “Unfit for Flight” should have pointed out that while the number of general aviation accidents is 40 times higher than airlines, there are 40 times more general aviation airplanes in the United States compared to the FAA Part 121 commercial airliners.

Also the fact that the United States has more general aviation accidents than other countries should not be a surprise. There are considerably more general aviation airplanes in the United States than in any other country.

The industry has not had the number or scale of recalls of a General Motors, but when parts do fail the consequences are more severe. Anything mechanical or electrical can fail. That is why some airplanes have multiple engines, multiple radios, multiple fuel pumps, etc.

There has never been a single incident when a general aviation airplane simply disappeared with hundreds of people on board like the recent Malaysian airliner.

As far as safety devices, general aviation led the way in promoting the GPS-based situation awareness systems long before they were available in commercial airliners.

The FAA and the aviation trade associations take safety seriously. There are many ongoing safety programs from these organizations that put serious effort into reducing accidents.

Tom Tess



Many in aviation call USA Today story "flawed"

WICHITA, Kan. -  The general aviation community is reacting to a USA Today investigation that looked into plane crash investigations.

The story “Unfit for Flight” claims people have died because aircraft manufacturers and investigators aren’t doing their jobs. The story claims pilots took unfair blame when investigators should be blaming mechanical and manufacturer defects. 

 “It’s the most absurd piece of journalism I’ve ever read in my life,” says flight instructor Dave Dewhirst with Wichita’s Sabris Corporation.

Eyewitness News reached out to others in the private aviation community who agree.

The report by reporter Tom Frank with USA Today claims the NTSB neglects to look at aircraft defects in its investigations.

“45,000 people have been killed it's an instance of manufacturers and investigators not doing their job,” Frank told CBS News.

The NTSB points to pilot error about 86% of the time.

“There all sorts of people who have a hand in the quality of the aircraft, the way it's maintained and way it flies. It's like the person who missed the field goal at the end of the game. Did he lose the game or did they lose the game because they missed five touchdowns earlier in the game?” Frank says in his interview with CBS.

Local and national general aviation groups disagree with the report.

“The article is correct in about 85 percent of accidents in general aviation are pilot error.  It doesn't mean there's something wrong with the airplane. It means there's something inherently wrong with the pilots” says Dewhirst.

Others agree including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association which calls the article “extremely flawed.”

Textron’s CEO sent a memo to employees saying the company “disputes allegations and claims suggesting that our products are not safe…” and “…it was clear the reporter had an agenda and that our comments and cooperation would not change his approach and desire to ignite emotion within the public.”

The article points out the difference between what the NTSB found and what juries have found in court.

The NTSB tells Eyewitness News that it’s a disservice to compare the two.  It says NTSB investigations, unlike the judicial system, do not assign blame or determine liability.

Story and video:


That's no plane crash, that's a Google WiFi balloon: Unplanned splashdown scrambles New Zealand emergency services

Emergency Services in New Zealand town today scrambled to assist what they thought was a downed plane, but actually turned out to be one of Google's Project Loon WiFi-beaming balloons.

Project Loon is Google's attempt to become an ISP of sorts by floating balloons over parts of the world where internet access is not often available. By doing so, Google hopes to sling more ads bring the benefits of the Internet to all and sundry. The Chocolate Factory's blurb about the project says it aims to create “a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps, and bring people back online after disasters.

Today, one of those balloons fell to earth near the small town of Cheviot. According to The New Zealand Herald locals felt it might be a light plane and therefore suggested that Police and emergency services do their thing.

A rescue helicopter and members of the local constabulary rushed to the scene and found a balloon, no humans in need of rescue from anything other than degraded internet service.

Google New Zealand's spokes-entities have confirmed the balloon was one of theirs and promised to recompense emergency services for their time and effort. They also told us that "Since launching Project Loon in New Zealand last year, we've continued to do research flights to improve the technology. We coordinate with local air traffic control authorities and have a team dedicated to recovering the balloons when they land."


A reported light plane crash off the North Canterbury coast was, in fact, a Google wi-fi balloon falling into the sea. 

Police received a call at 11.25am from a member of public reporting a plane crashing just off the Hurunui River mouth, near Cheviot.

A police spokesman said it was understood to be a Google balloon, and the internet giant had been notified.

He said the downed balloon was floating in the sea between Nape Nape beach and the Hurunui River mouth.

It was too large for a local fisherman to pull out, and the sea was "quite rough", police said.

A commercial boat would need to be arranged.

The member of public who phoned police initially mistook the balloon for a plane because a local pilot's aircraft had a parachute attached.

A rescue helicopter was dispatched and the crew found the balloon floating in the sea.


The Project Loon balloons, launched in New Zealand in June 2013, transmit free wi-fi signals. Their purpose is to reach people living in remote areas.

Google aims to have a full ring of 300 to 400 balloons circling the globe to offer continuous service to a targeted area.


Emergency services dashed to the scene of a reported light plane crash in North Canterbury but it proved to be an unmanned weather balloon. 

Reports of a light plane crash off the North Canterbury coast have proved to be nothing more than hot air.

Emergency services were called about 11.30am on Friday after a member of the public thought they saw a light plane crash into the sea near the mouth of the Hurunui River, about 110km northeast of Christchurch.

St John Ambulance spokesman Paul Burns says the Cheviot ambulance and a rescue helicopter were sent to the scene as there were concerns there might be somebody in need of help.

However, the initial report proved to be inaccurate.

"It turned out to be a weather balloon," Mr Burns told NZ Newswire.

Nobody was aboard the balloon when it landed in the ocean, he said.


There have been reports of a light-plane crashing into the sea off the coast of North Canterbury this morning.

A spokeswoman for police southern communications center confirmed that it has received reports of a light plane crash.

But she said: "We don't have anybody that can confirm what has happened just yet."

St John has sent an ambulance and scrambled a Westpac Rescue Helicopter to the remote scene near Nape Nape, a small reserve on the coast east of Cheviot.

A spokesman said they believed it was a single engine plane with one person on board.

Police have also launched a lifeboat to help with the rescue.


Pilots Fly Safely in Wyoming's Wind

A pilot's single-engine aircraft was flipped by the wind Monday at Casper-Natrona County International Airport and investigators are still at work.  
Many may wonder what could cause a plane to crash and just how do pilots handle flying in the wild Wyoming wind.

One of the first things to investigate in any plane crash is whether it was a malfunction in the plane's equipment or if the pilot was at fault.

David Calar, pilot of 23 years says, "manufacturing wise, I have not seen any. In my 23 years, I have not seen any manufacturing issues that would have been related to a major accident of any kind."

Travis Peter, an aviation mechanic for Atlantic Aviation says, "very more likely to be involved in an accident in a car than an airplane."

People looking to obtain their pilot's license must complete a total of 40 hours in the air.

Calar says "that's the minimum requirement. There's 20 hours of solo flying and 20 hours of dual flying."

Peter says, "it's a pretty safe industry. FA does a really good job making sure maintenance and pilots are properly trained."

To no-one's surprise, there is one thing any aviation school stresses among their students.

Calar continues, "safety is the biggest, the biggest thing that we deal with. Aircraft is inspected daily before you get in an aircraft, you inspect it."

In order to manage take-offs and landings in high speed winds... CNCIA's airport is designed to handle any direction.

"Our runways here in Casper-Natrona County Airport is very good. We have runways that can accommodate just about every wind direction."

Experts say students are trained to handle high-stress situations if they're not comfortable with a particular landing.

"You know, we're trained to go around if a landing doesn't feel comfortable, we usually, we could abort that landing and go around and attempt it again."

Over the past five decades, studies show a higher death rate in general aviation with 44,000 deaths compared to commercial flights with about 5,000..

Although not everybody flies with an updated license, experts say it is something punishable by law, just as if you were driving a car without a driver's license.

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Cessna 180,  N9012C:

Burrowing Owls Living At Miami International Airport (KMIA)

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As the giant 747 transitioned the ramp from the runway to the terminal at Miami International Airport, passengers who were paying close attention to the ramp marker were treated to quite a site; a family of burrowing owls sitting on the sign and at the opening to their nest just under the marker.

MIA is home to what’s described as one of the healthiest and robust burrowing owl populations in the state.  Last time they were counted, there were 17 owls in residence.

Norman Hegedus is the airport manager who keeps tabs on the population.  He said there have been burrowing owls on the airfield for as long as anyone can remember.

“If an aircraft were to get close to them, they will fly away,” said Hegedus.

Burrowing owls are rarely airborne.  They’re usually found no more than 40 or 50 feet from their burrows.

Hegedus oversees Wildlife and Noise Abatement for Miami-Dade Aviation.  He said there are burrowing owls living at all of the airports in the county.

“Everyone thinks in their minds that birds and aviation don’t mix.  They don’t.  But in this case, we have learned to co-exist with the burrowing owls,” said Hegedus.

The species was removed from the endangered list about five years ago.  Now, the burrowing owls are considered a “species of concern.”  Hegedus said the owls feel safe in their burrows located well off the main runways.

“The burrows can extend back up to eight feet in some cases,” said  Hegedus.  “They go down about a foot underground.”

Hegedus and his team of wildlife abatement officers go out to check on the owls each day.  They make sure any burrows are at least 280 feet off the main runways’ center lines, well outside of what is referred to as the runway safety area.

“Burrowing owls have stayed away from the safety areas.  Somehow they have learned,” said Hegedus .

The nests are in rather isolated locations where humans would rarely venture, because they’re on a secure airfield.

“You won’t find people out here, except a crew to cut the grass every once in a while,” said Hegedus.

If a burrow is found closer to the runway than it should be, Hegedus crew will team up with Florida Wildlife Conservation to collapse the nest so the owls move on.

In some cases, the owls have been relocated to habitats at Opa-Locka airport.

“The safety of the traveling public comes first,” said Hegedus.

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Myrtle Beach International Airport (KMYR) upgrades could mean delays

Airport officials are upgrading the runway at the Myrtle Beach International Airport and it could delay some flights. 

The runway is more than 20 years old and needs to be brought up to FAA standards, said Kirk Lovell, the Assistant Director of Airports for Horry County.

The work is scheduled to begin in October and run through March, he said.

Lovell said the work is planned around usual flight schedules and overnight to impact travel as little as possible.

"The timing is set so we have hard closers that allow scheduled flights to operate on their schedule, but if there's long delays there's a chance those flights will be delayed, or cancelled, or people could be rerouted," he said.

He said the upgrades, which will include new lighting as well as the runway, will cost about $20 million.


Three Illinois U.S. reps ask Federal Aviation Administration for new hearings on O’Hare noise

Three Illinois members of Congress on Thursday asked the head of the Federal Aviation Administration to hold new public hearings on a switch in O’Hare International Airport flight paths that have “flooded” their constituents with “unexpected noise.’’

 In a letter to FAA administrator Michael Huerta, the elected officials cited the “inaccuracy and incompleteness” of information at legally-required 2005 public hearings — something the Chicago Sun-Times chronicled exclusively in Thursday’s edition.

The FAA’s hearings on an $8 billion O’Hare overhaul “ran contrary to their required purpose,’’ according to the letter, signed by three Democratic U.S. representatives: Mike Quigley, Tammy Duckworth and Janice Schakowsky.

“Constituents were never informed in any meaningful way how many additional flights, and how much more noise, they would be asked to endure,’’ the officials contend.

A Sun-Times investigation found that the FAA released inaccurate data about the now-contentious issue of the percent of traffic each runway would carry, then quietly corrected 72 percent of its figures online months after public hearings ended.  The corrections were contained in what, by then, was more than 7.5 million web pages of online FAA information about the plan.

The FAA did not display to hearing visitors the number of flights it expected each runway to bear by the completion of the O’Hare overhaul, even though it had the data to do so at the time, the Sun-Times found. The map the FAA did display about noise impacts at hearings was described by critics as “misleading.’’

And, the Sun-Times reported last week, the only legally-required FAA public hearings on the environmental impact of the overhaul were not held in areas due to see the worst noise. Turnout was “very light” at the hearings, with those attending being in favor of the plan by as much as a 4-to-1 ratio, the FAA reported.

Although the hearings were held in 2005 and ultimately led to FAA approval of the city’s proposed overhaul, the effects of that overhaul didn’t hit until last Oct. 17.

That’s when the Chicago Department of Aviation completed its first phase of the O’Hare Modernization Program, and switched from using mostly diagonal runways to mostly parallel ones.

The big switch brought far more flights over areas of the city and suburbs directly east and west of O’Hare. It has triggered skyrocketing, record O’Hare noise complaints, many from residents who have said they were blindsided by the blitz of planes over their homes.

Two more parallel runways and a runway extension are due by 2020, although funding for some of that work is up in the air.

“Since October 2013, our offices have received countless complaints on the impact the new runway and attending flight pattern changes at O’Hare have had on every day life,’’ the letter states.

“The O’Hare Modernization Program has disturbed many of our constituents’ daily lives, negatively impacting their schedules, leisure activities and even home values in areas overwhelmed with noise pollution.’’

Quigley, Duckworth and Shakowsky are calling on the FAA to conduct a new environmental assessment of the project, to hold new public hearings and to provide a “full explanation” of the FAA’s previous efforts to contact affected areas before it approved the project.

In addition, they urged the FAA to expedite its analysis of what level of noise should trigger free sound insulation – something it said the FAA has been conducting for five years but remains “not near completion.”

In the meantime, the U.S. representatives called on the FAA, the city and the airlines to “devise a course of action that will brief relief to our residents,” whether it involves airspace changes, keeping both diagonal and parallel runways open indefinitely, or asking airlines to make some accommodations.

“We need to start work now,’’ the letter urged. “Our constituents should not have to wait until the airport expansion is completed in 2020 to decide if they can endure the increase in noise pollution.  We want your guarantee to explore whatever practicable changes are necessary to protect our neighborhoods, while keeping O’Hare safe and efficient.’’


Longer flights 'could curb impact of vapor trails'

Large condensation trails in the sky caused by aircraft could be eliminated by re-routing flight paths, say scientists.

Researchers are concerned about the climate change potential of these wispy, man-made clouds.

But a new study suggests that making changes to existing flight routes could curb their warming impact.

Avoiding a major contrail on a flight to New York from London would only add 22km to the journey, experts say.

Contrails are formed when planes fly through very cold, moist air and the exhausts from their engines condense into a visible vapour. 

Double-edged cloud
These can be very large in size: they can be up to 150km in length and can last up to 24 hours. 

Scientists have been arguing about the climate impact of contrails for many years, as the clouds that they form impact both cooling and warming. 

Contrails reflect sunlight back into space and cool the Earth but they also trap infrared energy in the atmosphere, adding to warming. Researchers believe that the warming effect is more significant than the cooling.

Now scientists at the University of Reading have tried to work out how this impact could be reduced by altering the flight paths of long and short haul aircraft. 

Previous work has suggested that planes could fly at lower altitudes to limit the trails, but this means burning significantly more fuel and adding to CO2 emissions. 

The Reading study attempted to see if the benefits of curbing contrails would outweigh the extra fuel burned if flights were re-routed at the optimum flying altitude. 

"You think that you have to do some really huge distance to avoid these contrails," lead author Dr Emma Irvine told BBC News.

"But because of the way the Earth curves you can actually have quite small extra distances added onto the flight to avoid some really large contrails."

Flexible flying

The researchers found that short haul aircraft are more fuel efficient and can add up to 10 times the length of the contrail to their journeys and still reduce overall warming potential.

So if a flight from the UK to Spain is predicted to create a 20km long contrail, as long as the plane flew less than 200km extra to avoid it, the overall warming impact would be reduced.

For large planes on longer routes, this reduces to three times the contrail length.

But longer routes over oceans and unpopulated areas, offer more flexibility to minimally alter flight paths.

The researchers found that large contrails could be avoided on flights between London and New York by adding just an extra 22km to the route.

"The key things you need to know are the temperature of the air and how moist it is, these are things we forecast at the moment, so the information is already in there," said Dr Irvine.

"Whether the forecasts are accurate enough to do this is another question."

On average, 7% of the total distance flown by aircraft is in the type of air where long lasting contrails form. But at present, calculations on the impact of aviation on global warming don't include them.

The European Union has attempted to include flights in its emissions trading scheme with limited success.

Long haul flights originating or arriving in the EU will be subject to carbon restrictions from 2017. But the Reading team say that these efforts will still miss out on a significant source of warming from aviation.

 "The mitigation targets currently adopted by governments all around the world do not yet address the important non-CO2 climate impacts of aviation, such as contrails, which may cause a climate impact as large, or even larger, than the climate impact of aviation CO2 emissions," said Dr Irvine.

"We believe it is important for scientists to assess the overall impact of aviation and the robustness of any proposed mitigation measures in order to inform policy decisions. Our work is one step along this road."

The research has been published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.


Massena International Airport (KMSS), New York: Town board votes to spend $150,000 in pursuit of regional airport status

MASSENA -- The Town Council will spend just over $150,000 of casino compact payments in pursuit of making Massena International Airport a regional air traffic hub.

"We have the longest runway in the county and the newest terminal … and the best instrumentation for pilots to fly in. It makes sense for Massena to be a true regional airport," Town Supervisor Joseph Gray said.

The board okayed spending $50,000 to hire an airline consultant to secure charter flights out of Massena International. They will also dish out $103,896.98 to begin engineering for a runway extension that would be necessary to bring in bigger jetliners.

The board's decision comes on the heels of commercial carrier Allegiant Air's announcement earlier in the month that they would loan $1 million to the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority for improvements at Ogdensburg International Airport.

Gray said he believes the Federal Aviation Administration will not approve two runway extensions that are 35 miles apart, so Massena needs to get on the ball.

"The county legislature passed a resolution saying Massena would be a good regional airport," Gray said, adding that about 20 towns have sent letters expressing similar sentiments. "We need to step up to the plate and start the process."


New airline could be in Pine Belt by year’s end

A new carrier has been recommended to the United States Department of Transportation to provide commercial service to Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport.

If accepted, ExpressJet Airlines would provide 12 round-trip flights a week connecting Hattiesburg-Laurel and Meridian with Dallas-Fort Worth. The routes would operate under American Airlines’ umbrella as an American Eagle connector on a 50-seat Canadair Regional Jet 200.

ExpressJet’s bid would require a combined Essential Air Service subsidy of about $7.8 million from the two markets.

Hattiesburg-Laurel has been serviced the past two years by Silver Airways, which connected to Atlanta.

But Silver submitted notice in April to the DOT that it intended to pull out of its Mississippi markets including Hattiesburg-Laurel, Meridian, Tupelo and Greenville, as well as Muscle Shoals, Ala. The airline had received a combined EAS subsidy of about $7 million from the five markets.


Louisville International Airport (KSDF) agrees to sell business park land

With a lawsuit apparently settled, airport officials have approved selling 83.9 acres south of Louisville International Airport for $10.4 million to a developer that plans two distribution facilities with over 1.2 million square feet of space.

The deal to sell the property to Verus Partners LLC of Chicago was approved Wednesday by the Louisville Renaissance Zone Corp. board. That entity is an affiliate of the Regional Airport Authority — it has the same board and staff — and is overseeing development of Renaissance South Business Park.

The 540-acre business park is where hundreds of homes in noise-prone areas near the airport were purchased by airport officials over the last 20-plus years.

Skip Miller, executive director of the airport authority, said Verus plans to develop two distribution-warehouse buildings on the property, each with about 620,000 square feet of space. They would be among the area’s two largest structures, but no timetable was given for their construction.

Airport officials had an almost identical deal to sell the land to Verus in April 2013. But they filed a suit in Jefferson Circuit Court this past March contending that Verus had failed to deliver a letter of credit required under the agreement, guaranteeing it could pay for the land and related road and utility improvements.

Miller said in an interview Thursday that Verus recently was joined in the local venture by Molto Properties, a large industrial real estate firm also based in Chicago.

Miller said the new agreement requires that Molto put up a $1 million letter of credit offering assurances that the project can be completed. He said that, with Molto as a partner, he is confident the deal can be closed in October and that the project will proceed. Miller said the new agreement is intended to make the lawsuit go away.

The land under contract to Verus is north of South Park Road, between Minors Lane on the east and Air Commerce Drive on the west.

Airport officials referred questions about Verus to Thomas Theobald, a Verus senior vice president, who didn’t return phone calls Thursday.


People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) guard arrested for assaulting pilot

A protest guard from the anti-government movement was arrested last night in connection with the widely-discussed assault on the Don Muang Tollway last month. After Surasak removed several cones, a number of guards surrounded and beat him.

 Chiwat Dee-ngam, 20, was arrested in Bangkok's Taling Chan district last night and accused of assaulting Surasak Sowatanangkum, a 27-year-old pilot trainee.

On May 9, Surasak was driving to the airport to check the results of an examination when he encountered an anti-government roadblock near the Police Club. Several vehicles were reported stuck in traffic for hours.

The police charged Chaiwat of leading the assault; his arrest warrant was issued three weeks ago.
Police said Chaiwat confessed to the assault, claiming the pilot trainee tried to run through the guards with his car before getting out to remove the traffic cones.
Chaiwat added the boiling weather drove him to start the assault, Bangkok Post and Kapook reported.
The blockage of Don Muang tollway on May 9 also caused several tourists to give up their taxis and walk down the tollway in the heat to catch their flights.


Piper Cub Is Pennsylvania’s State Aircraft

State tourism received a nod from the Pennsylvania State Senate Monday as the Senate approved legislation which designates the Piper J-3 Cub as the official State Aircraft. 

The Pennsylvania Longrifle also has been designated the official firearm of the Commonwealth.

House Bill 1989 designates these two items as official state symbols. 

The Piper J-3 Cub is a small aircraft recognizable by it’s famous yellow fuselage and black trim. 

It was built exclusively in Lock Haven, Clinton County, between 1937 and 1947 by the company, Piper Aircraft.

It was modified for use by the United States Armed Forces during World War II for both reconnaissance and also as a ‘hedgehopper’ during combat sorties.

The Pennsylvania Long Rifle was developed by the Mennonites who resettled in the area from Germany and Switzerland.

It was first manufactured in Lancaster County, PA.

The airplane and firearm are important to Pennsylvania history, and are an important aspect of Pennsylvania tourism.

The legislation was approved on a vote of 48-0 by the Senate, having been passed earlier by the State House. 

Bill 1989 now goes to the Governor for his signature.


Chicago Executive neighbors get noisy over possible runway extension

Wheeling and Prospect Heights residents living near Chicago Executive Airport were seemingly louder Wednesday than the planes that fly over their homes every day. 

About 30 community members attended airport board's monthly meeting to express concerns about a recently-proposed study to examine extending one of its runways 2,000 feet. 
Despite board Chairman Robert A. McKenzie's efforts to inform residents that nothing definitive has been decided, the meeting quickly turned raucous, leading police officers to show up to monitor the crowd. 

Among the residents who spoke up was Allan Englehardt, a former chairman of the airport board, who voiced economic concerns over potentially expanding a runway. But before he could rattle off facts and figures, his five-minute time limit to speak was over, sending the crowd into a frenzy.

"They want me to have one more minute," Englehardt said with encouragement from the crowd.

The uproar forced McKenzie and the board to break for five minutes before quietly resuming the public hearing with police officers standing by.

Wheeling resident Steve Neff, who lives just north of the airport, later described jet noise from the facility as a recurring problem.

"My decibel meter is clocking jets in as high as 85 (decibels)," he said. "From my understanding, that's not compatible with the use of the airport."

Neff also said there isn't a consistent mechanism the airport uses to determine how many jets are taking off and landing during nighttime hours, when people are more sensitive to the noise. McKenzie agreed.

Laurel Didier, a Wheeling resident who started an online petition and Facebook page to raise awareness about the board's runway study, was not only concerned with noise levels, but also a perceived lack of transparency from the board.

"Right now no one really knows what the plan is or where you're going," Didier said. "We feel helpless to stop anything in the process. This could destroy our property values and safety."

Board members said the planned study will take at least 12 months to complete, and residents and municipal leaders will be kept informed on its progress and findings along the way.

"We're not hiding anything from anybody," airport board member Neal Katz said. "Be aware that we are here thinking of what you are saying, and that is totally honest with you. It's going to be a long time before we know what we can do."

Proponents say a 7,000-foot long runway will allow the airport accommodate large corporate planes they consider essential to the future of airports like Chicago Executive. Those planes need the longer runway to fly with full fuel tanks so they do not have to stop and refuel when they go as far as the Middle East or Japan.

The ability of the airport to serve corporations is important in drawing companies to the region, they say. Fueling larger jets also would boost airport revenues -- and those of its owners, Wheeling and Prospect Heights -- which largely are derived from a 12.7 cent per gallon fuel tax, proponents say.


Daniel Harris: Trial Date Set for Navy Pilot Accused of Online Sex Crimes with Bedford County Girl

Norfolk, VA - A trial date has been set for a Navy fighter pilot accused of online sex crimes involving a Bedford County girl.

Daniel Harris is scheduled to appear November 4 in a federal courtroom in Norfolk.

The case was moved from Bedford County, after investigators say they found evidence of victims in Roanoke County, across the United States, and on a military base in Japan.

Bedford County Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Wes Nance will assist federal prosecutors. Nance expects there will be pre-trial motions hearings near the end of the summer.

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Geisinger Life Flight introduces new aircraft and landing zone

DANVILLE — Geisinger Health System recently introduced a new state-of-the-art, twin-engine American Eurocopter EC-145 to its existing fleet of Life Flight air ambulances.

This is the fifth EC-145 helicopter in the Life Flight fleet, part of an ongoing commitment to provide the best quality critical care to residents in central and northeastern Pennsylvania.

“For more than 33 years, we have set the highest level of standards for our crew and our program, and we expect the same from our aircraft,” said Jerry Splitt, R.N., C.C.R.N., E.M.T.P., C.M.T.E., operations manager, Life Flight. “The EC-145 meets those standards and delivers an unprecedented margin of safety when paired with our exceptional pilots, flight nurses and paramedics, all of whom receive the highest degree of critical care training and education.”

From the scene of an accident to hospital transports, the Life Flight crew provides specialized care in cardiology, pediatrics, neonatology, trauma and neurology, for up to two patients at a time. Medical equipment includes advanced cardiac monitors, defibrillators, cardiac pacemakers and ventilators, intravenous infusion pumps, oxygen, suction units and a full range of emergency cardiac medications.

Transport isolettes or “incubators” are used to transport premature newborns.

“We deliver Geisinger quality care in the air,” said Splitt. “Life Flight is an invaluable service that has helped save countless lives for more than three decades.”

In addition to the new helicopter, Life Flight will be better able to provide lifesaving transport services to Clinton County thanks to a newly constructed landing zone in Lock Haven. The landing zone was conceptualized as part of a class project by Bryce Bason, a senior at Central Mountain High School and constructed in partnership with Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. It will allow for better transport services from remote areas of the county including the Sproul Forest and the banks of the Susquehanna River.

Averaging 2,600 flights per year, Life Flight operates 24-hours a day with a fleet of seven helicopters from air bases in Danville, State College, Avoca, Williamsport and Minersville.

Life Flight is a nationally recognized leader in safety, with quality measures that exceed the National Transportation Safety Board requirements. Each helicopter is equipped with single pilot instrument flight ratings, which allows it to fly in the clouds under aircraft traffic control flight plans to safely arrive at a destination in adverse weather conditions, and night vision equipment to ensure a safe flight day and night.


Martha's Vineyard (KMVY), Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts: Airport manager granted paid leave

The Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission granted airport manager Sean Flynn a leave of absence to address personal issues, following more than two hours of discussion behind closed doors on Wednesday, June 18. Mr. Flynn made the request, according to a commission statement.

Airport commission chairman Norman Perry declined to talk about the terms or the time frame. Mr. Flynn will be paid his regular salary during the leave, by using accumulated vacation and personal time, according to Mr. Perry

The commission met at noon Wednesday in executive session, and they issued a short statement following the meeting.

“The Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission met in executive session at length this afternoon to discuss certain personal information regarding the airport manager, Sean Flynn. Mr. Flynn has requested a leave to address these personal matters which was approved.”

The commission designated assistant airport manager Deborah Potter to run airport operations during Mr. Flynn’s leave.

“The Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission has tremendous confidence in Ms. Potter and the entire airport staff in their ability to run the airport,” the statement said.
Mr. Perry called the unusual noon meeting following the arrest by Edgartown police on Friday, June 6, of Mr. Flynn’s wife, Rebecca Donnelly, on a charge of domestic assault at their Edgartown home. The police report detailed an argument over Mr. Flynn’s use of prescription drugs, and allegations by Ms. Donnelly that Mr. Flynn is abusing pain medications.

Mr. Flynn was not arrested. Mr. Flynn denied to police that he has a prescription drug problem.

Occasionally, raised voices could be heard outside the meeting room, but the mood was cordial when the executive session broke up. Mr. Flynn smiled, bantered with a reporter, and shook hands with some of the airport commissioners. He declined to comment.

Present for the meeting were airport commissioners Norman Perry, Christine Todd, Richard Michelson, Denys Wortman, Constance Teixiera, and James Coyne (by conference call). Commissioner Peter Bettencourt was absent.

Mr. Flynn was represented by Edgartown attorney Rosemary Haigazian. Kim Elias, assistant to the airport management, and Ms. Potter also attended the meeting.

Airport commission lawyers Susan Whalen and David Mackey of the Boston law firm Anderson & Kreiger flew from Boston Wednesday morning to attend the meeting.

In the vote to go into executive session, airport commission members cited an exception to the open meeting law which includes discussion of, “The reputation, character, physical condition or mental health” of an employee as the reason for conducting business behind closed doors in executive session.

Chairman Perry confirmed to The Times in a telephone conversation Tuesday evening that the police report detailing the domestic disturbance was included in the information he sent to commission members prior to the closed door session.

“I felt everybody should have a copy of it,” Mr. Perry said. “It was important, all the details that were in it, like it or not. The police report is available: it’s now public.”

Following the airport commission meeting, the Dukes County commissioners, the airport commission’s appointing authority, also met. In an unprecedented action, county commissioner Lenny Jason called on the entire airport commission to resign. That call was later modified (See related story, “Dukes County Commission thrashes airport commissioners”) to a request that the airport commission reexamine how it conducts business.

Abuse denied

On Friday, June 6, Mr. Flynn called Edgartown police and reported that he had just had a domestic situation with his wife, Rebecca Donnelly, according to the police report. He told police that during an argument sparked by his use of prescription medications, she threw a can of fruit punch which struck him in the face.

A few minutes after Mr. Flynn’s call, Ms. Donnelly arrived at the Edgartown police station, where she turned over numerous pill bottles to police.

“Rebecca explained that Sean has been abusing his prescription medications for a long time now and she has had enough,” Det. Sgt. Chris Dolby wrote in his police report. “She said he is taking all kinds of pain medications and is clearly addicted to them. She said that he can no longer function normally and can’t even drive a car today, which is why he didn’t go to work this morning.”

According to the report, she told police she dumped the soft drink on him in the heat of an argument but did not throw the can at him.

Edgartown police officer William Bishop later interviewed Mr. Flynn at his Edgartown home. In his police report, he said he observed minor swelling and redness on Mr. Flynn’s face.

“I noticed that Flynn had slurred speech, was not balanced, and his motor skills seemed to be less than favorable,” Officer Bishop wrote. “I discussed with Flynn the possibility of evaluating his prescription intake, and consider that he may in fact have a problem. Flynn then began a long explanation of how he has been evaluated by his doctor, therapist, and the pain clinic.  Flynn truly believes he does not have a problem.”

Based on the interview with Mr. Flynn and evidence observed at his home, police arrested Ms. Donnelly and charged her with domestic assault. When she was released after booking at the Dukes County Jail, she returned to the police station, and asked to apply for an emergency restraining order. A short time later, Mr. Flynn arrived at the station. He was directed to a separate area, where he also applied for an emergency restraining order.

A judge granted both emergency restraining orders Friday evening, instructing both not to abuse each other, not to contact each other, and to stay 100 yards away from each other. The judge also ordered Mr. Flynn to leave his home, and to surrender any firearms and ammunition in his possession.

Both Mr. Flynn and Ms. Donnelly later appeared in Edgartown District Court on Monday to extend the emergency restraining orders, and the court approved both, according to police.

Det. Sgt. Dolby told Ms. Donnelly that he had no authority to hold Mr. Flynn’s prescription medications, and that he would return them to him, according to the police report.

Police also spoke to Mr. Flynn’s physician, Dr. Gerald Yukevich, to make him aware of the situation and let him know that police would be returning all the pills to Mr. Flynn.

Airport turbulence

Wednesday’s meeting was the latest turbulence for the members of the airport commission, which is statutorily charged with the care and custody of the airport.

Beth Tessmer, a nine-year employee who was promoted, suspended, and then fired in less than one year, filed a civil complaint on May 6 against the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission, asking a judge to order the Airport Commission to give her job back to her. Members of the county commission and Ms. Tessmer’s supporters were highly critical of the airport commission for its handling of several public disciplinary hearings. Prior to her termination, Ms. Tessmer filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination against Mr. Flynn.

In April, citing the handling of the disciplinary hearings, county commissioners voted not to re-appoint two members of the airport commission. In a sharply divided vote and disputed procedure, the county commission rejected the applications of Benjamin Hall Jr. and John Alley to three-year terms on the seven-member airport commission. Mr. Alley, a Dukes County commissioner, has served on both the county commission and the airport commission for more than three decades. Mr. Hall, an Edgartown businessman, was finishing his first term.

Instead, the county commissioners appointed Christine Todd of Oak Bluffs, a county commissioner, to the airport commission. They also appointed Richard Michelson, a former airport employee now on disability retirement, who helped organize airport employees to form a union and served as shop steward. He has been a frequent and vocal critic of airport management.

The county commissioners also instructed county manager Martina Thornton to sit in on airport commission meetings as an ex-officio member. However, grant assurances signed by the airport and county commission at the insistence of the Mass Aeronautics Commission, which provided funding for the construction of a new airport, specifically bar the county commissioners from interfering in airport affairs.

In May, the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission filed a lawsuit in Dukes County Superior Court, asking a judge to prohibit the Dukes County Commission, the county treasurer, and the county manager from interfering with the airport commission’s statutory authority to manage and run the Martha’s Vineyard Airport.

The 13-page civil complaint dated May 1 was filed in Dukes County Superior court by lawyers from the Cambridge law firm of Anderson & Kreiger, against the county commission, county manager Martina Thornton, and county treasurer Noreen Mavro Flanders. It asks the court to prohibit the county officials from seeking to “unlawfully interfere with, and obstruct the functioning,” of the Airport Commission.

The complaint is the latest chapter in the lengthy history of county efforts to exercise control over the county-owned airport.