Friday, July 04, 2014

United States official: Iraqi pilots not qualified to fly F-16

The United States has linked its delay in equipping Iraq’s air force with fighter jets to disqualification of Iraqi pilots.

The Iraqi government earlier complained that Washington has been slow in its delivery of F-16 fighter jets Baghdad needs to fight against Takfiri militants who have seized several key Iraqi cities since a new wave of violence erupted in the country on June 10.

The delay is because no Iraqi pilot team is qualified to fly the aircraft in combat and none will be ready before mid-August, The Washington Post reported Thursday citing an official at the US-based program where the pilots are being trained.

According to the report, US officials say they are also worried about providing Iraq with laser-guided Hellfire missiles and Apache combat helicopters, arguing that the weaponry going to Iraq could be used against political targets.

As militants loyal to the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and al-Levant has been fighting in the past weeks to seize the capital Baghdad, the Pentagon and Congress are still examining whether they should send 4,000 additional Hellfires to Iraq.

The US already sent 400 hellfires to Iraq as part of a deal of 500 missiles.

US officials argue that only two planes in the Iraqi air force are capable of firing the missiles, both turboprop Cessna.

According to the Post, the US military is now trying to figure how to retrofit other rudimentary aircraft that the Iraqis can fly.

But Baghdad insists that its military forces are capable to use the US weaponry.

Lukman Faily, Iraq’s ambassador to the US, said in Washington this week that Baghdad had asked Washington “again and again” for air support such as Apache helicopters and without it, Iraq has been forced to turn to Russia for fighter jets.

“We don’t have choices,” said Faily. “The situation on the ground is pushing us to choose whoever will support us.”

The US has given Iraq more than $1 billion in equipment over the past decade to create an air force, according to the report.

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Bob Davis has a love for all things Mustang: Roanoke County man's license plate links past and present

ROANOKE, VA. -  We've had dozens of you send in pictures of your bumper stickers and license plates and the unique stories behind them. One man in Roanoke County has a license plate that connects not only two of his passions but his present and his past.

Bob Davis' first love isn't cars, it's planes. He served four years in the Air Force. During the mid-1960s he was stationed in Puerto Rico where he worked on bombers.

"We were glorified service station attendants," he says with a laugh. "What we would do is check the oil, fill her up, check the tires."

It was during that time, in 1964, Ford introduced the Mustang, legend has it the name is a nod to the P-51 Mustang fighter plane that became famous during World War II.

"Warbird" Bob's garage is a shrine to his two passions- his 1964 Mustang and his collection of World War II radio controlled planes. They are united by his license plate which simply reads "P-51A." I had to see both in motion and find out how the R-C seed was planted. Watch the video above to see the rest of the story.

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World War II Mustang takes flight: Greater Binghamton Airport (KBGM), New York

Town of Maine, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Greater Binghamton Air Show over July Fourth weekend will feature a taste of history, with planes dating back to World War II. 

A P-51 fighter plane made its way to the Greater Binghamton Airport from Virginia. The plane is flown by owner of Pamela Marie LLC Aviation and pilot Andrew McKenna, who bought the plane a year ago.

McKenna told Action News after setting his sights on the plane, he purchased it from a group called Allied Fighters in California.

He said he was fortunate enough to pick up the plane and make it his own.

"This is a North American P-51 Mustang," said McKenna. "It was best known as being an iconic fighter during World War II, and especially known for escorting long range bombers. It is a fantastic airplane."

The plane will be on display July Fourth weekend at the show. McKenna will also perform a full aerobatic routine with the aircraft, hundreds of feet in the air.

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Chris and April Nesin: Cross country flight recreates history

Chris and April Nesin have retraced history from the East Coast to Jurupa Valley’s historic Flabob Airport.

The couple flew their crimson and cream 1948 Piper Super Cub Special from Danbury, Conn., to Riverside, landing just before 1 p.m. Thursday.

The Nesins weren’t the first to make the trip in that plane.

The first flight was made by brothers Kern and Rinker Buck, who flew a similar route in the Piper as teenagers in 1966. Rinker Buck recounted the journey is his 1997 memoir titled “Flight of Passage.”

Chris Nesin, 40, of Chattanooga, Tenn., said a friend gave him “Flight of Passge” years ago and he was fascinated by the story.

“I don’t know any pilot who has read that book and didn’t want to do that journey,” he said.

In fall 2011, Nesin was looking at classified ads and saw that the plane once owned by the Bucks was for sale, he said. He bought it, and he and his wife, April, spent more than two years restoring it.

“Even before I bought this plane, I was going to do this flight across country,” he said.

Chris Nesin said he and April, 39, met with the Buck brothers before taking off on their 12-day trip.

In addition to fulfilling a dream, the Nesins are using their flight to help raise awareness for the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer.

The trip took 12 days, with the couple stopping at airports on the way to show off the plane.

Chris Nesin’s mother followed their route in an RV with their dog, Lenny Bruce.

April Nesin said Lenny often flies with them but could not go on this flight because with the weight of the fuel they had to carry he would have put them over the limit.

“He has 400 hours in the Piper Cub,” she said.

April Nesin said some of the more interesting sights she spied from above included the fence along the Mexican border in Arizona and California and the mountainous desert landscape.

“It was comfortable and it was amazing,” she said of the flight. “It was beautiful.”

John Lyon, corporate secretary and trustee of The Tom Wathen Center, said the Buck brothers finished their trip at the airport in San Juan Capistrano. That airport closed about 30 years ago, so the Nesins chose Flabob, he said.

That route change wasn’t the only thing that makes the Nesins’ flight different from the Bucks’.

“When Rinker and Kern did it, there was no radio, no electric system and no GPS,” said Lyon, also a pilot. “So they had to do it with paper maps and looking out the window. Since this is the modern age, Chris and April are tweeting.”

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Terrorist screening at Irish airports stepped up

Screening of passengers on United States-bound flights from Irish airports has been stepped up as a result of a warning from American intelligence that Islamist terrorists are planning a fresh wave of bomb attacks on planes.

The move follows a review of security at the airports by aviation authorities but it is aimed at minimizing the impact on passengers as they prepare to embark.

Armed police officers are again highly visible at airports in the UK and on the European mainland as governments respond to the US intelligence brief.

The response here will be more low key as the authorities believe that the level of aviation security checks in Irish airports is already up to US standards with state-of-the-art equipment being used to search passengers and their belongings.


But monitoring of passengers is being intensified and a discreet watch is being kept on those boarding flights to US destinations or flights involving American airlines.

The response will include covert as well as overt tactics but will not involve any additional garda presence or the deployment of military personnel.

But specialist units from the Garda and the Defense Forces regularly carry out training on how to cope with a terror-related emergency at air and sea ports and will be ready for call-out, if required.

The intelligence suggests that al-Qa'ida linked groups have been working on the development of a new explosive device that could be surgically implanted in a suicide bomber or concealed in electrical equipment and that can slip through current airport scanning devices.

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SkyRaider: Fatal accident occurred June 28, 2014 in Lewiston, Idaho

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

Aviation Accident Final Report  -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Docket And Docket Items  -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Flight Standards District Office:   FAA Spokane FSDO-13

NTSB Identification: WPR14LA273
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, June 28, 2014 in Lewiston, ID
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/01/2016
Aircraft: SKYRAIDER SKYRAIDER, registration: None
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 private pilot, who also owned the airplane, was conducting a personal local flight. A witness at the airport observed the airplane taxi by to the east, turn west, rev up the engine as it turned around, sit for a while, and then depart. The witness reported that it was a windy, gusty day and that she did not observe anything unusual as the airplane turned to the east in a climb. She lost sight of the airplane as it went around the traffic pattern and could no longer hear the engine, and then she heard a thud. She did not hear the engine noise change, just the sudden thud. The airplane came to rest inverted in a wheat field with the tail elevated. The forward part of the airplane and the wings sustained aft crush damage and the tail was undamaged. The wreckage and ground scars were confined to the impact area. 

Initial examination of the engine revealed no mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have resulted in the a loss of engine power. Although an elevator control rod was found fractured, it exhibited features consistent with overstress. The wreckage was disposed of before a more thorough examination could be conducted. It is likely that the pilot did not maintain adequate airspeed and exceeded the critical angle-of-attack, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall at too low an altitude to recover.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain an adequate airspeed and his exceedance of the airplane's critical angle-of-attack, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall at too low an altitude to recover. 


On June 28, 2014, about 0922 mountain daylight time, an unregistered experimental amateur-built SkyRaider, collided with terrain near Lewiston, Idaho. The pilot/owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot sustained fatal injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage during the accident sequence. The local personal flight departed Williams Airpark near Lewiston about 0900. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

A witness observed the airplane taxi by to the east; as it turned to the west, the witness heard the engine rev up. The airplane sat for a bit, and then took off. It was a windy, gusty day, and the witness didn't observe anything unusual as the airplane turned to the east in a climb. She lost sight of the airplane as it went around the traffic pattern, but could no longer hear the engine, and then she heard a thud. She didn't hear the engine sputter; she just stopped hearing anything.


A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records revealed that the 29-year-old pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. The pilot held a third-class medical certificate issued in April 8, 2014, with no limitations or waivers.

No personal flight records were located for the pilot. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) obtained the aeronautical experience listed in this report from a review of the FAA airmen medical records on file in the Airman and Medical Records Center located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The pilot reported on his medical application that he had a total time of 50 hours with 5 hours logged in the previous 6 months.


The single-seat, high-wing airplane had fixed conventional (tailwheel) landing gear. It was not registered, and did not have a serial number. Maintenance logbooks were not located for the airframe, engine, or propeller.

According to a former SkyRaider dealer who helped recover the wreckage, early SkyRaiders had serial numbers, and the only engine installed was a Rotax 277 model. He did not see a serial number on this airframe, and observed that the engine on this airplane was a 503 Rotax. He also thought that the tubing on the accident airframe appeared to be much lighter than the typical SkyRaider tubing.


Williams Airpark was located on a privately owned property with a grass field used primarily by ultralight aircraft. The pilot had asked the property owner for permission to taxi at the airpark. The airpark owner had observed the accident pilot taxi, lift off, and set down on several previous occasions, but not take off and fly in the pattern.


Neither the NTSB nor the FAA traveled to the site. The Nez Perce County Coroner's report noted that the airplane came to rest inverted in a wheat field, but with the tail elevated. Pictures that were provided noted no damaged crops or ground scars leading to the wreckage. The forward part of the airplane and the wings sustained aft crush damage; the tail did not contact the ground, and therefore was not damaged. 


The Nez Perce County Coroner determined that the cause of death was severe head trauma. An autopsy and toxicological testing was not performed.


An inspector from the FAA examined the wreckage. The engine crankshaft turned, and he observed fuel in the airplane. The propeller was a Powerfin model. One propeller blade separated near the hub; the splintered fracture surface was jagged and angular. The other blade remained attached, and split along the inboard portion of its trailing edge.

The flight controls were connected at the control surfaces. The FAA inspector observed a separated elevator control rod end.

The NTSB Office of Research and Engineering Materials Laboratory examined the fractured rod end and its associated tubing, and a factual report is in the public docket for this accident. The docket is accessible via a link on the home page. The fracture occurred in the threaded section, which was welded into the end of the tube. The portions of the threaded section that remained attached to the rod end and the tube end both exhibited plastic deformation and fracture features consistent with overstress. No other features of a pre-existing crack or corrosion were observed.

The wreckage was disposed of before further examination of the engine could occur.


The FAA inspector provided pictures to and interviewed a person familiar with SkyRaiders. The contact identified the make and model as an early Model 1 SkyRaider with a straight tail and a small, square elevator. He had observed several accidents before, and opined that since only one propeller blade sheared off, the engine may have been at a slow idle or stopped.

NTSB Identification: WPR14LA273
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, June 28, 2014 in Lewiston, ID
Aircraft: SKYRAIDER SKYRAIDER, registration: None
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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On June 28, 2014, about 0922 mountain daylight time, an unregistered experimental amateur-built SkyRaider collided with terrain near Lewiston, Idaho. The pilot/owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot sustained fatal injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage during the accident sequence. The local personal flight departed Williams Airpark near Lewiston about 0900. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

According to witnesses, the pilot was attempting to land. They thought that he may have been experiencing engine problems, as they didn't hear engine sound prior to the airplane entering a steep nose down attitude into a nearby wheat field.

Bryce Winterbottom 

LEWISTON, ID - The investigation into a plane crash that killed a Lewiston man on Saturday, June 28th is still ongoing.

 29-year old Bryce Winterbottom was killed when his single-seat plane crashed into a wheat field near Vollmer road.

So far investigators haven't released their findings into what may have caused the crash.

Witnesses told investigators they heard the engine "stall out" right before the crash.

Winterbottom leaves behind a wife and four children.

If you'd like to help out the family, a website has been set up for donations.

Here's the address:

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Bryce J. Winterbottom 

Bryce J. Winterbottom, 29, of Lewiston, was killed Saturday morning, June 28, 2014, in a single-engine plane crash.

Bryce was born Oct. 30, 1984, in Lewiston, and is the third son of Ed and Chris Winterbottom. Bryce grew up in the Lewiston area, attending elementary, junior and senior high school there.

He graduated from Lewiston High School in 2003. He served a two-year Spanish-speaking mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Colorado Springs, Colo. Following his missionary service, Bryce attended the University of Idaho and obtained bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering. At the time of his death he was working for Schweitzer Engineering in Pullman.

Bryce married his high school sweetheart, Amanda K. Busch, on May 13, 2006, and together they are the parents of four children, Caleb (7), Maryanne (5), Henry (3) and Timothy (1). Bryce loved the outdoors, spending time with family, hiking, gold panning with uncle Monte, camping and flying. He was a member of the Nez Perce County Sheriff's Air Posse. He was an Eagle Scout and wonderful teacher, spending time helping to mentor Boy Scouts, teaching continuing education classes in gold panning and GPS integration, as well as helping advise in the Lewiston High School Skills USA program.

Bryce loved to work and help others, especially his own children. He could often be found with one or more of his children at his side working on projects such as building rockets, stargazing with his telescope, building cars and landscaping their home. He was very open-armed, big-hearted and had a great ability to lift those around him. His warm smile and unforgettable laugh will be greatly missed, but fondly remembered. He could fix most things and was willing to help on anything. As an 8-year-old, he had his backpack sitting by the door ready to go with his dad and brothers on a 50-mile backpack trip. In checking his pack, he had only a pair of Scooby Doo underwear and socks in it and said, "I'm ready, Dad." He went on that trip. As a 9-year-old, he took apart the family lawn mower, unbeknownst to anyone else, and came to his dad saying, "Look, only this handful of extra parts." Bryce was in civic theater as a youth, played sports and loved life. He was always up early as a boy, and when asked why he did that, he said, "I'm afraid I'll miss something." These stories exemplify the true essence of Bryce's character.

He is survived by his wife and children at their Lewiston home; parents Ed and Chris in Pullman; in-laws Sam and Asenath Busch of Lewiston; brothers Brent of Richland and Brian (Tracy) of Moscow; sisters Brynn (Ricky) Guzman of Moscow and Britney (Braden) Schroeder of Peoria, Ill.; grandmother Marge Gertonson of Lewiston; and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and good friends.

The family would like to thank the Nez Perce County Sheriff's Air Posse and sheriff's office for handling a difficult situation in such a tender way. Services will be conducted at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located at the intersection of Ninth Street and Preston Avenue in Lewiston. Donations to the family may be made at www.gofundme/BryceWinterbottom.

2 planes nearly collide at Bush Intercontinental Airport (KIAH), Houston, Texas

HOUSTON - Two commercial jets came dangerously close to each other Thursday night at Bush Intercontinental Airport. 

A Singapore Airlines 777, a jumbo jet, flew within 200 feet vertically, and within about a half-mile horizontally of a Delta Airlines A320.

FAA rules require that aircraft remain separated by a half-mile vertically, and 3 miles horizontally.

"The pilot of the Singapore jet did not level off as required, causing a loss of required separation," Lynn Lunsford of the FAA said

The Singapore Airlines jet had just taken off. The Delta flight was on approach from Salt Lake City.

"Had they collided there would have been hundreds of deaths. It would have been a very large aviation catastrophe," Joshua Verde, a Houston-based aviation expert, told Local 2.

Verde reviewed the audio transmissions between the flight decks and Houston air traffic control.

"You can hear the stress in the (Delta) pilot's voice," Verde said.

It appears the Delta pilot was forced to take an evasive maneuver, diving several thousand feet in a minute, to steer clear of the larger jet.

The underlying cause of the close call is being investigated by the FAA.

IAH recently adopted new take-off and landing procedures, that are designed to be more efficient.

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Divers to search for plane wrecks in Gander Lake

There’s mystery under the surface of Gander Lake, and a group of divers are planning to feed their curiosity.

The Town of Gander has approved a request from a group of about 40 sport divers who will search for two airplanes that crashed in Gander Lake.

It’s an interesting history project, said Tony Merkle, who heads the effort.

“Basically, the project that I’ve started is to locate, identify, video and dive onto the B-24 Liberator that’s in Gander Lake,” said Merkle.

“Mainly, the two that I’m researching are the B-24 Liberator and a B-17 Flying Fortress. We have really good documentation on the

B-24. We have serial numbers, crew list, crash report, and that’s the one I’m initially going to go after to pinpoint it, dive on it, and see what’s left. There are still three bodies in that one.

“The B-17, we only have a serial number, a vague crash tape and just a reference area of five miles west of Gander. So, that one is going to be a bit more tricky to find.”

Merkle has the project approved through the Provincial Archeology Office and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Ottawa.

“Everything is in line there now,” he said. “The next step is for me to get out to Gander to do some surface sonar work to see if I can locate the wreck using just echo sounder. Once I have pinpointed that, the next phase will be to drop a remotely operated vehicle or remote video unit down to have a look at how deep it is. It’s supposed to be 150 feet down and on a really steep slope, so we’re not really sure how tricky it’s going to be to dive on it.”

Once the plane is located, divers will go deep under the surface to check on the condition of the downed aircraft, with the ultimate aim of bringing it to the surface to be donated to the North Atlantic Aviation Museum in Gander.

According to Merkle, diving attempts were made at the time of the B-24 crash in 1943, but equipment was not up to the standards it is today.

“They did a couple of dives on it back then after the crash, but it was the old-fashioned hardhat divers with big brass helmets and lead boots, so it was pretty crude diving. They never had any lights that could go past 60 feet, and now we’re high-tech with dry suits, nitrox air, and we have (high intensity discharge) lights, video cameras and the whole works. So, it’s no problem at all for us to dive 150 feet.”

The 1943 flight of the B-24 took off from Gander during the night, and one engine failed not long after the plane was up in the air, said Merkle.

“Because the crew had such little experience flying in the night, they performed the wrong manoeuvres to correct that problem. They actually made the problem worse, so the plane did three barrel rolls and crashed directly into the lake. One body was recovered, and he’s buried at the Commonwealth grave there in Gander, but the other three are still in it.”

According to Merkle, if the B-24 is accessible by divers and is in good condition, a military agency would most likely haul the aircraft out of the water to retrieve the bodies.

“There are military groups that go around the world retrieving old planes, but we are, basically, just a hobby outfit trying to preserve our history. The more I get into Gander Lake, the more I realize it has incredible history.”

His love of history and the preservation of the past is what led Merkle to tackle the diving project in the first place.

“I’m part of the Shipwreck Preservation Society of Newfoundland and Labrador,” he said.

“I grew up in Gander, and I branched off into plane wrecks when researching shipwrecks, and that led me to Lisa Daly’s project where she surveyed the land wrecks that are all around Gander. I got to talking to her and she mentioned there might be a couple in the lake, but they weren’t equipped to do any surveys on the lake. That was right up my alley, so I started researching.”

He plans to begin sonar surface work in the coming weeks.

Cessna T210N Turbo Centurion, VH-ZFW: Accident occurred July 04, 2014 at Inverell Airport, New South Wales, Australia

School teacher dies after Inverell plane crash 

The community of Inverell is in mourning after a light plane crash claimed the life of a local school teacher and left her doctor husband seriously injured.

Caro Harding, 47, suffered extensive burns and died early on Saturday after the Cessna T210N Turbo Centurion plane piloted by her husband Mark crashed on Friday afternoon.

The couple's 13-year-old daughter was also on board, but escaped with minor injuries.

The plane, which experienced difficulties soon after take-off, came down in the Clive State Forest. It then burst into flames and sparked a grass fire near the airport in Inverell, on the NSW Northern Tablelands.

The three family members were rushed to Inverell District Hospital. Dr Harding, a GP at the Evans Street Surgery, and his wife were later flown to a specialist burns unit at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital.

Mrs Harding, who taught a kindergarten class at Inverell Public School, suffered burns to most of her body and died in hospital about 12.20am on Saturday.

Dr Harding, 52, remains in hospital in a serious condition. Their daughter is understood to have been released after receiving treatment for burns to her legs.

The mayor of Inverell, Paul Harmon, said the Hardings were "a lovely family'' and the accident had hit the close-knit community hard. Everyone was wishing for Dr Harding's recovery, he said.

"Unfortunately when there's a major tragedy like this, there's a big chance you will know the people involved,'' he said. "The whole community is saddened by the tragic loss of Mrs Harding. She was an absolutely lovely lady.''

Cr Harmon said Mrs Harding's colleagues and students would find it difficult returning to school without her after the holidays. "The community as a whole is grieving,'' he said.

Colleagues of the Hardings declined to comment when contacted by Fairfax Media on Saturday.

Witnesses on Friday reported hearing the aircraft's single engine splutter before it crashed.

Jade Olds said she was driving home when she saw something "like a pebble skipping across the water ... and then it came to a standstill''.

"There was a man who just stopped dead in the road and then he just ripped his shirt off and pulled people out of the plane,'' she said. "I just saw them getting taken out of the plane – it didn't look pretty ... and then the plane just went ka-boom and there was fire everywhere."

Investigators from the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau will examine the site and the wreckage to determine the cause of the crash.

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A woman who died in hospital after a light plane crashed and burst into flames in northern NSW was flying to Brisbane with her family.

The 47-year-old, widely named by media as Cara Harding, died in Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital in the early hours of Saturday morning.

She and husband, reported to be Dr.  Mark Harding, 52, were airlifted to the Sydney hospital on Friday night after leaving Inverell Hospital in a critical condition with serious burns.

Dr.  Harding remains in a critical condition.

Their 13-year-old daughter suffered burns to her legs.

The mayor of Inverell, Paul Harmon, paid tribute to the popular teacher.

'She was a valued member of the school staff, you know, having an impact on lots of young people's lives,' he told the Seven Network.

'She certainly is going to be missed. It's very sad.'

The family were injured when their Cessna T210N Turbo Centurion got into trouble shortly after take off and crashed in the Clive State Forest, next to Inverell Airport, just after 1pm Friday.

The plane burst into flames causing a grass fire but all three managed to escape the wreckage.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating and police are preparing a report for the coroner.

Caro Harding, a teacher at Inverell Public School, who died in a Cessna T210N Turbo Centurion plane crash.

Cessna 170, N170CC: Accident occurred July 04, 2014 in Tomball, Texas

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Final Report:  

National Transportation Safety Board  -   Docket And Docket Items:

National Transportation Safety Board  -  Aviation Accident Data Summary:

NTSB Identification: CEN14CA343
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 04, 2014 in Tomball, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/14/2014
Aircraft: CESSNA 170B, registration: N170CC
Injuries: 1 Minor,1 Uninjured.

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

The pilot reported that he was conducting practice takeoffs and full-stop landings with the airplane owner in the right seat for the purposes of achieving tailwheel airplane currency. The airplane insurance company required pilots to be checked out by the airplane owner before naming them on the policy. The airplane owner was not a flight instructor. The pilot stated that on the second landing, the airplane touched down on the runway centerline and on all three wheels simultaneously. As the airplane slowed, it began to veer to the left. The pilot responded with right rudder input. The airplane subsequently veered to the right "more assertively" than he had intended. Rather than risk striking a runway light while attempting to keep the airplane on the runway, he elected to enter what appeared to be an open grass area adjacent to the runway pavement. However, about 25 feet into the grass, the airplane encountered "marshy area" with standing water and soft mud, causing it to nose over. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the vertical stabilizer and fuselage. The pilot stated that there were no failures or malfunctions associated with the airplane before the accident. He commented that he had received a tailwheel airplane endorsement about 3 years before the accident, with limited tailwheel airplane time accumulated since then. He added that the airplane owner suggested that he be more "assertive with the rudders" after the pilot's initial landing during the accident flight.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's loss of directional control during landing rollout, which resulted in a runway excursion and the tailwheel airplane nosing over.


Two people have been injured after a plane crashed and flipped over at Hooks Airport in Spring, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The agency says a single-engine Cessna 170 with two people on board crashed Friday afternoon the airport at 20803 Stuebner Airline Road and FM 2920. According to the FAA, the plane was doing touch-and-go landings, when the aircraft flipped over.

We're told both occupants suffered minor injuries. Their conditions are not known at this time.

Crowds turn out along Myrtle Beach-area coastline to celebrate Fourth with military flyover

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH As Lt. Col. Mary Louise Resch of the S.C. State Guard hoisted the American flag at Friday’s Salute from Shore, she couldn’t help but think of the young military couple she met earlier in the day who made it back from deployment to enjoy the Fourth of July festivities on American soil.

“There’s no higher honor than to hold the flag of your country,” Resch said after Friday’s event. “Walking up with the colors from the beach, my heart was just so overwhelmed. It was phenomenal to see that type of support.”

Hundreds gathered at the city’s Main Street beach access Friday afternoon to wave more than 160 flags during the July 4th American Pride March. Many more braved the heat as temperatures reached 90 degrees. Some military members, including Resch, wore their uniforms and were greeted with applause and hand shakes.

Resch said she served during the Vietnam era when receptions for military were not always positive. She was overwhelmed to realize how times have changed.

“I came in the military during a time that I couldn’t wear my military uniform home on leave,” Resch said. “To see the support that young soldiers have and their families, it really is indescribable because these kids know that they can come home and they have the support and that they’re not going to have to be afraid to say ‘Yes, I fought for my country.’”

At a flag raising ceremony before the flyover of vintage military aircraft, a crowd of people gathered to harmonize “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless the USA.” As timing would have it, the first three aircraft made their way from Cherry Grove heading south just as “The Star Spangled Banner” concluded.

Every July 4 since 2010, a group of aviators have flown a fleet of planes along the coast from Little River to Hilton Head Island, as flag-waving beachgoers cheer from below along the route.

Volunteers on the beach held the more than 160 flags provided by Jay Mozeley of North Myrtle Beach. Mozeley, who has been providing flags for area military events for years, said recruiting the volunteers makes the event more personal for visitors.

“I met a lady Tuesday from Pennsylvania at the pool at Sunset Harbor and she said we can’t wait to hold a flag on July 4. They came for that reason,” Mozeley said. “That makes America America and this makes July the Fourth the best.”

Mozeley and his crew used to walk the beach with the flags from the Cherry Grove Pier to Main Street, which really built momentum for the celebration as beach goers would stand and salute the flags being walked to Main Street.

Mozeley said there are a lot of area supporters of the annual event, now in its fifth year. The American Legion, Sons of the Legion riders, Rolling Thunder and the Patriots of North Myrtle/Little River are a few that help make America’s birthday celebration on a Grand Strand a great experience for all involved.

“It was hot and the tide was coming in, but it was so great to celebrate America’s birthday,” Mozeley said. “It just makes you happy just to be here and the people appreciate it and that’s why we do it.”

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Plane from East Midlands Airport declares emergency

A plane  that declared a mid-air emergency after leaving East Midlands Airport has landed with all passengers safe and well.

The 737 Jet2 flight from East Midlands to Heraklion left at 5.40pm and has been circling around the East Midlands while waiting to land for more than 45 minutes.

The emergency was declared shortly after the plane's delayed take off.

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service have confirmed they are in attendance at East Midlands Airport.

At just before 6.45pm, the plane began descending gradually, circling over the area.

The plane landed at Manchester Airport just before 7pm.

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Aerial ad company urged to ground tow banners: Aerial Banners North

Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL  

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Aerial Banners North has flown aerial ads all over the U.S. for years. On Memorial Day it flew an American flag over Oahu.

On another flight it towed its own dot-com banner, despite an Oahu county ordinance that prohibits the flying of aerial advertisement in Oahu skies."Local jurisdictions don't have the ability to regulate what happens in air space. only the federal government does," said Michael McAllister, attorney for Aerial Banners North.

The mainland based company said it has a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration that gives it the go-ahead to tow aerial banners over the island.But The Outdoor Circle insists county law must be obeyed and the banner tows must stop."I think this yellow plane is the coqui frog of visual blight in Hawaii," executive director Marti Townsend said.

The non-profit is a watchdog for Honolulu's billboard ban. Townsend said Aerial Banners North is snubbing its nose at local rules."While they may be intimidating communities into thinking that they may have no right to regulate advertising, I think that now that they've come to Hawaii they will get the full education that they need," she said.State House Rep. Chris Lee said if the company doesn't ground itself, lawmakers will get involved.

"So what we want to look at from the stateside is making sure that we have effective penalties, daily penalties, with multiple violations that could lead to a forfeiture of their plane," he said.The Outdoor Circle is talking to Honolulu police and city attorney's.

It sent aerial banners a cease and desist letter. It's prepared to go a step further."If that means going to court we've done it before we can do it again," Townsend said.The company said it has never had to defend itself in court, but it will if it has to.

"This is not a case of Aerial Banners North being a cowboy operator, who came in willy-nilly without having understood the law first," McAllister said. "This is a process that has been going on for many months."Late Thursday,

Mayor Kirk Caldwell sent a letter to the FAA, urging it to revoke the waiver to Aerial Banners North, which plans to fly again on the Fourth of July.

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Zenith CH601-HDS Super Zodiac, N4263: Accident occurred July 04, 2014 near Aero Estates Airport (T25), Frankston, Texas 

NTSB Identification: CEN14LA342 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 04, 2014 in Frankston, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/09/2015
Aircraft: SLAUGHTER MIKE CH601-HDS, registration: N4263
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor.

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

The pilot and passenger were returning home after attending a fly-in at another airport. The passenger reported that, during the descent to land, the pilot spotted a boat on the lake that they were overflying and began to follow it at low altitude. The pilot then made a steep turn, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle-of-attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall. The pilot then lost airplane control, and the airplane subsequently impacted the water. The pilot and passenger were rescued by nearby boaters. The airplane wreckage was not recovered from the water; neither the pilot nor passenger reported any anomalies with the airplane before the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed while maneuvering at low altitude, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle-of-attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to make a steep turn at low altitude.

On July 4, 2014, at 1405 central daylight time, a Slaughter CH601-HDS ultralight airplane, N4263, impacted Lake Palestine, Texas, near Frankston, Texas, while maneuvering at low altitude. The pilot was seriously injured and the passenger received minor injuries. 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 flight originated from Mineola Airport (3F9), Mineola, Texas, and was en route to Aero Estates Airpark (T25), Frankston, Texas.

According to statements provided to FAA Inspectors and law enforcement officers, the pilot and his son were returning to T25 after attending a fly-in at 3F9. The son said that during their descent to T25, the pilot spotted a boat and began to follow it at low altitude. The pilot then made a steep turn and stalled the airplane, lost control, and impacted the water. The pilot and passenger were rescued by nearby boaters.

The wreckage remained in the lake and was not available for examination. Neither occupant indicated there were any system malfunctions with the airplane prior to the accident and indicated fuel exhaustion did not occur.

 Gary Buster recovering in hospital.

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The pilot who crashed his plane into Lake Palestine on the Fourth of July is singing praises from his hospital bed. Father and son, Gary and Aaron Buster crashed into the lake and were saved by nearby boaters. Tuesday, from the hospital, Gary is still counting all of the ways that the crash turned into a blessing.

"All things considered, this is a pretty good outcome," says Gary Buster.

While cooped up and recovering in a Tyler hospital, Buster has replayed what went wrong over and over in his mind.

"I just missed it by that much," says Buster while pinching his fingers together. "I ran out of airspace. When you're too low, you're too slow for the airspeed and you have a quartering air wind... I needed to increase the speed before doing any maneuvers," he explains.

Buster says he and his son, Aaron, hit the water at 120 miles per hour. The crash was a momentary scare, followed by a series of blessings.

"[Aaron] immediately turned around and became my blessing and said, 'Dad, you need to undo your seat belt right now,' so I said, 'Ok.' I undid my seat belt and realized I better take a breath first," recalls Buster.

Seconds later, the men were surrounded by holiday boaters who also happened to be nurses and scuba rescue divers.

"They were all at the right place at the right time," says Buster.

Now he says says it's only right that he tells them how thankful he is.

"For all of the people that lent a hand, that pushed [on my head to stop the bleeding], that held an umbrella over us, that had a boat, that threw out a life jacket, that helped me get onto a backboard, that held my toe up so my foot was in the right position so I wasn't screaming --because my foot was flippity floppity-- all of those people... I need to pat on the back and say, 'Oh, thank you so much for being there,'" says Buster.

Buster believes it's "painfully obvious" God still needs him here.

"He'll let me heal up and however I heal up, off I'll go marching in that direction," Buster says. He plans to go off in whatever direction he's supposed to go, doing whatever it is, he says, he must still be here to do. Aaron Buster had a serious sprain but was released from the hospital days ago. Gary Buster suffered a compound fracture in his right leg. Doctors are monitoring his injuries to prevent an infection. Buster says he'll have another plane soon and when he's well, he'll be back up in the sky. The Zenith Zodiac Buster was flying was an experimental plane with a $35,000 value and it was not insured.

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Police use helicopter to break up massive house party in Pompey, Onondaga County, New York

POMPEY, N.Y. -- Onondaga County sheriff's deputies had to call in the county's helicopter, Air1, to help break up an out-of-control house party with more than 500 people in Pompey Wednesday night.

Deputy Herb Wiggins said police were called to Ashlind Circle about a large party. When they pulled up just before 11 p.m., there were 200 cars packed along that street and the neighboring streets, Wiggins said.

Deputies saw packs of kids walking through several yards. When they got to the party house, 7598 Ashlind Circle, they saw between 500 and 700 people crammed into the backyard.

Gregory York, 23, walked up to the deputies and told them that his parents had given him permission to hold the party for his graduation. But his mom and dad, he told them, were out of town.

At that point, the deputies who responded realized it would take more help to break up such a large party. While they were waiting for help, party-goers threw a glass bottle at a patrol car, Wiggins said.

When help arrived, it included Air1, the county's helicopter. The helicopter hovered above the yard, providing a spotlight to help deputies send party-goers on their way. At least 20 other officers came to help from the sheriff's office, the Manlius police department and the New York State Police.

Many of the revelers scurried from the party by hopping the fence. Several fence boards were damaged by their hasty exit, Wiggins said.

The yard and pool were strewn with empty beer bottles, wine bottles and cans.

After the party had been broken up, deputies called York's mother, Patricia McGinnis. She told them she was more than nine hours away and that she had not given her son permission to throw any party.

Wiggins said no one was arrested.

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Western Nebraska Regional Airport (KBFF) officials in jeopardy of reaching 10,000 boardings

Officials at Western Nebraska Regional Airport in Scottsbluff are in jeopardy of reaching 10,000 boardings by the end of the year.

Through the month of June the airport has only reached about 3,200 boardings. Darwin Skelton, airport manager, says the airport averages nearly 5,000 boardings before July.

In an effort to alleviate the boardings crisis, Skelton has asked state representatives to help change the wording in a Federal Aviation Administration regulation that limits the number of flights pilots can operate because of training hours.

If changed that would allow pilots to operate 27 flights a week instead of the current four flights.

In addition, pilots could fly a 19-seater plane instead of a 9-seater.

"Really and truly it's impossible. Because everything has to be so perfect in order to make it work. It's just not real, it's not reality. We just will never make the 10,000 boardings with the 9-seater. It's just not possible," said Skelton.

If the 10,000 boardings are met by the end of the year the federal government will grant $1 million of funding to the airport. If not, the airport will only receive $150,000.

"We rely so much on that million dollars a year that we get to do projects here, that if you don't do that ten-thousand boardings you fall to $150,000. You just can't do anything for $150,000," he said.

Skelton says he's worried about not reaching the boardings in the next six months.

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Ultimate Aero 10-200, N827D: Accident occurred April 18, 2014 in Saint Albans, Vermont


NTSB Identification: ERA14LA202 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, April 18, 2014 in Saint Albans, VT
Aircraft: OCONNOR PAUL A ULTIMATE AERO 10-200, registration: N827D
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 April 18, 2012, about 1203 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur built Ultimate Aero 10-200, N827D, was substantially damaged near Saint Albans, Vermont, after an in-flight separation of a propeller blade. The commercial rated pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight operated under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, which departed Franklin County State Airport (FSO), Highgate, Vermont about 1200.

According to the pilot, He had just recently returned from an airshow in Florida where he had been performing aerobatics with the airplane. On the day of the accident, he was performing a "high-level shakedown" flight, which was his common practice after a long cross country flight. He stated that "the shakedown flight is made at a higher altitude to ensure the satisfactory condition of the aircraft". He departed FSO at approximately 1200 (he reports this is his normal daily practice time) and departed the traffic pattern to the west. He then climbed to 3,000 feet above mean sea level (msl), over some farm fields. He went to begin his high-level shakedown maneuvers but since he was in a "flat pitch attitude" decided to head approximately northeast. As he did so, there was a sudden loud bang/shudder and the canopy shattered. The pilot initially thought there was some type of catastrophic structural failure, and thought a wing had failed. The engine "stopped instantly" and the canopy "clam-shell opened and then slammed back down". He realized that the airplane was "un-flyable" after trying to control the airplane with the flight controls. The airplane then began to spin and he could not arrest the spin. He related that it seemed like a "car accident" loud and sudden and that it seemed the aircraft had lost a lot of forward airspeed.

He advised that before every flight he would practice his egress routine. When he realized that he could not arrest the spin and the airplane was un-flyable, he decided to leave the airplane and initiated an egress. The egress went as planned but his headset jacks would not unplug easily and he ended up breaking them off. He advised that this caused him some concern and a challenge to alleviate the issue. He could not remember what altitude he egressed from the airplane but, after exiting the airplane, his parachute deployed fully at 700 to 1,000 feet msl, and he came to rest in the top of a tree.

According to two witnesses at FSO, They were both familiar with the pilot's airshow practice routine, and the airplane. Both witnesses stated that a couple of minutes after the airplane took off that they heard a normal engine noise followed by a "pop" or a "bang". They both stated that they then ran to the open door of the hangar they were in and looked to the northwest of the airport they saw that the pilot had egressed the airplane and was already descending under a fully deployed chute. They stated that he was approximately 500' to 1,000 feet high and above the trees and was drifting to the northeast.

The airplane was later discovered on the shoulder of the north bound lane of Interstate 89 were it had impacted, and was subject to a post impact fire which consumed the majority of the airplane.

Postaccident examination of the wreckage revealed that a propeller blade had separated from the two bladed constant speed propeller's hub.

The propeller hub, the remaining propeller blade, and the propeller governor were retained by the NTSB for further examination.


BURLINGTON - Dan Marcotte was back in the air for Burlington's Independence Day Celebration Thursday night.

Since 2003, Dan has performed loops and turns at airshows. But this time, he was flying a brand new plane--his old one was destroyed in a crash on I-89 in April.

"One of the blades had removed itself from the hub," Dan told us at the Franklin County Airport, where he fixes planes as his day job.

During his lunch break, he flies--practicing his routine. We mounted a GoPro on his brand new plane, which he put together quickly after the crash.

When his old plane's propeller broke on a flight back from a Florida airshow, Dan had to think fast--executing the "Egress" technique, which is how a pilot ejects him or herself from a plane.

"When you have a catastrophic failure like that, where the decision is made for have no ability to land the airplane, or control it, your mind goes into all the training. Goes into autopilot," Dan said. He showed us the 18-pound parachute he was wearing during the crash.

"I extracted myself from the airplane and pulled my emergency chute at about 700 feet, and safely coasted in a popple tree," he said.

His safety training helped him save his own life. It's not a simple process to get out of a plane when a pilot is so securely strapped in.

"I practice every time that I get in my airplane," Dan explained. "I go through how to remove the canopy, how to remove the seat belts, how to eject myself from the airplane and then pull the rip cord."

He was back in the air within days.

"There's some nervousness that time will heal," he said.

But the intense focus and skill required to fly at 250-mile-an-hour speeds in front of thousands of people makes him forget his nerves.

"I visualize my flight before I take off...and then I fly the routine. Once I'm back in the air...I really enjoy it."

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Bid Opportunity: Construction of Obstruction Removal At Buffalo-Lancaster Regional Airport (KBQR), Lancaster, New York

Bid Date & Time: 07/29/14 3:00 PM 

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Washington State Patrol troopers look for drunken drivers from the air

The Washington State Patrol is taking flight to stop impaired drivers.

Through July 13, aircraft are patrolling highways in Snohomish County to remove drunken drivers from the road.

The State Patrol's use of fixed-wing aircraft to spot impaired driving, or to verify reports from other drivers on the road, is somewhat unique.

Two planes are equipped with a Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) camera.

“It helps out a lot,” Trooper Paul Speckmaier said.

While on DUI patrol, the Cessna 206s can receive calls from any 911 dispatcher.

The pilots estimate that a third of all calls to 911 reporting DUIs on the road are accurate in their assessment.

“We get calls from everyone,” said Speckmaier, who works as a pilot or spotter. “It shows how in-demand the program is.

”When someone reports erratic driving, or the plane's crew spots a possible drunken driver, the FLIR technology is used to view and record the vehicle's behavior, including speed.

Troopers in the plane then coordinate with patrol cars to intercept the suspect vehicle.

On Wednesday night, an aircraft was able to help remove three impaired drivers from the road — one spotted independently from the air, and two reported by callers.

According to Noll, when a patrol car arrives on the scene to stop the vehicle, the plane circles to ensure the trooper is safe.

“The aircraft is a force-multiplier,” said Francis.

“They can cover more area than our troops on the ground, and they coordinate with units on the ground to work more effectively and safely.”

The aviation section of WSP is made up of seven aircraft.

Besides the FLIR-equipped Cessna 206 planes, there are two Beechcraft King Airs and three Cessna 182s.

The FLIR cameras, attached to the left wings of the Cessna 206s, cost around $400,000 each.

The planes not only help take impaired drivers off the road, they help with searches and rescues.

WSP aircraft conducted surveillance after the Oso mudslide, for example.

Why not helicopters? Planes have proved to be more fuel-efficient.

 A plane needs fuel about every four hours, State Patrol pilots say, while a helicopter can only fly an hour or so before it needs fuel.

Troopers who pilot WSP planes come from a variety of backgrounds.

Speckmaier flew in the army before joining the Washington State Patrol, while Trooper Chris Noll was trained as a commercial pilot.

Last year on July 4, troopers in Snohomish County arrested 18 impaired drivers.According to Trooper Mark Francis, this year's summer holiday period is primed for more. The holiday falls on a Friday, making for a long weekend, and the weather is expected to be warm.

Besides patrolling from the air, the Washington State Patrol plans to have extra troopers on duty on Snohomish County highways through July 13.

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Helicopter pilot was drunk before fatal crash: Robinson R44 Raven II, C-GOCM, Gemini Helicopters Inc.

FOX CREEK, Alta. – An investigation has determined a helicopter pilot was drunk when he died in a crash in northern Alberta last year.

A report by the Transportation Safety Board says the unnamed man had a blood alcohol level of about .35 — more than four times the legal limit for driving a vehicle.

The board says the pilot made flight control errors that caused the helicopter’s main rotor blade to contact the cabin and precipitate an in-flight breakup.

The chopper, owned by Gemini Helicopters of Grande Prairie, was monitoring well sites went it went down in a wooded area near Fox Creek on Jan. 27, 2013.

The board says the pilot also didn’t file a flight plan that day and made an unauthorized trip with a passenger.

He had dropped his only passenger at an oil site, before flying off erratically, then crashed five minutes later.

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Aviation Investigation Report A13W0009 

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigated this occurrence for the purpose of advancing transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

Loss of control and in-flight breakup
Gemini Helicopters Inc.
Robinson R44 Raven II (Helicopter), C-GOCM
Fox Creek, Alberta 21 nm SW
27 January 2013

The Gemini Helicopters Inc. Robinson R44 Raven II (registration C-GOCM, serial number 10472) was being used to conduct monitoring of well sites southwest of Fox Creek, Alberta. At 1311 Mountain Standard Time, the helicopter departed from its base of operations at the Horse Facility gas plant camp for the day's activities. After several flights, including one with a passenger, the helicopter landed at a roadside security gate, dropped off the passenger, and departed at 1735 with only the pilot on board. The helicopter broke up in flight over a wooded area 5 minutes later. The pilot was fatally injured. There was no post-crash fire. Although the emergency locator transmitter activated on impact, no signal was received due to impact damage to the emergency locator transmitter.

1.0 Factual information

History of the flight: 
The Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter (registration C-GOCM, serial number 10472) was being used to monitor well sites and other facilities southwest of Fox Creek, Alberta, for a local oil company. The helicopter was flown to several well sites until 1433,Footnote 1 then was flown back to the Horse Facility base, from where it departed 3 minutes later. One more stop was made at a well site, and then at 1450, the helicopter made an unauthorized Footnote 2 flight to a roadside security gate. After 3 approaches, the helicopter landed at 1510. At 1545, the pilot was observed to be staggering and smelling of alcohol. On being questioned, the pilot uttered some derogatory remarks. The pilot and an unauthorized passenger from the security gate then boarded the helicopter. The helicopter departed at 1554 to a compressor site, landing 8 minutes later. The helicopter was left running while work was done at the site by the pilot. It departed at 1611, and was flown low along the Berland River before landing and shutting down at a remote cabin at 1630. Forty-eight minutes later, at 1718, the helicopter lifted off and flew to the location of the security gate, where it made several low passes and turns. The aircraft landed at the gate at 1731, and the passenger disembarked 2 minutes later. The helicopter took off at 1735 and was observed to be flying erratically during departure. It broke up in flight over a wooded area 5 minutes later.

Readers React: Closing Santa Monica Municipal Airport (KSMO) is a quality-of-life issue

To imply that two Santa Monica airport commissioners who live near the airport and want to change the facility's status have a conflict of interest because their homes' value could increase if the airport ceases operation is akin to saying that anyone who serves on a commission that advises a city council to take actions resulting in uplifting municipal quality of life has a conflict of interest because those actions would enhance property values all over town. ("Foes of closing Santa Monica Airport accuse city officials of conflict," June 28) 

By the way, why would thousands of homes' values go up if Santa Monica Airport was closed? Probably because of the cleaner air, relief from invasive corporate jet and helicopter noise, and freedom from constant fear of catastrophic aircraft crashes that would result. 
Leigh Brumberg, Santa Monica


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Graceland may remove Elvis Presley's old airplanes

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For 30 years, tourists from around the world have paid money to get a look at two airplanes once owned by Elvis Presley at Graceland in Memphis. Fans enjoy touring the planes for their direct connection to Presley and his jet-setting lifestyle, a sort of touchstone to the life of the King of Rock and Roll and his family.

By April of next year, the planes named Lisa Marie and Hound Dog II could be gone.

Elvis Presley Enterprises, which operates the Graceland tourist attraction, has written to the planes’ owners saying they should prepare to remove the jets from Graceland by next spring.

The planes have been a tourist attraction since the mid-1980s. They had been sold after Presley’s death, and were eventually purchased by OKC Partnership in Memphis.

OKC Partnership and Graceland agreed to bring the two jets to Graceland. The agreement called for OKC Partnership to receive a cut of ticket sales in return for keeping the planes there.

In an April 7 letter to OKC Partnership’s K.G. Coker, Elvis Presley Enterprises CEO Jack Soden says the company is exercising its option to end the agreement and asks Coker “to make arrangements for the removal of the airplanes and the restoration of the site on or shortly after April 26, 2015.”

Their removal could cause an uproar among fans, especially those who visit Graceland every year as part of an annual pilgrimage to events such as Elvis Week and the candlelight vigil commemorating Presley’s death.

Dedicated Elvis fan Paul Fivelson, of Algonquin, Ill., says he expects many fans will be upset to hear the planes may be leaving.

“The people who come to Memphis for Elvis Week like seeing those planes there because it’s just part of the whole aura of what Elvis was about,” Fivelson said Tuesday. “It would be kind of blasphemous to take them away, and I think there are probably a lot of fans who will feel the same way.”

The disclosure also raises questions about the future use of the site where the airplanes now sit, across the street from Presley’s longtime home.

Elvis Presley Enterprises declined immediate comment.

In November, New York-based Authentic Brands Group bought Elvis Presley Enterprises and the licensing and merchandising rights for Presley’s music and image from CORE Media Group. As part of the deal, Joel Weinshanker, founder of the National Entertainment Collectibles Association, acquired the operating rights to Graceland, which attracts about 500,000 visitors each year.

After the sale, Authentic Brands said upgrades to the tourist attraction were planned. Earlier this year, Elvis Presley Enterprises announced plans to build a 450-room hotel, theater and restaurant, with a projected opening date of August 2015. Their plan was approved Tuesday by the Memphis City Council.

Today, Graceland visitors can buy a ticket that includes a tour of Presley’s home-turned-museum and the two airplanes. Fans climb into the airplanes for an up-close look at their interiors.

The larger plane, a Convair 880 named after Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie, is like a customized flying limousine, complete with a large bed, a stereo system, conference room and gold-plated bathroom fixtures. It was renovated after Presley bought it from Delta Air Lines. Presley took his first flight on it in November 1975.

When Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977, Presley’s pilot flew the Lisa Marie to California to pick up Presley’s ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, to bring her back to Memphis.

The smaller jet, a JetStar named the Hound Dog II, was also used by Presley.

At one point, after the planes were sold following the singer’s death, the Lisa Marie was owned by Raymond Zimmerman, owner of the Service Merchandise chain, according to Coker. The Hound Dog II was in the hands of Hustler head Larry Flynt for a time, Coker said.

OKC Partnership eventually bought the planes and the Lisa Marie was installed at Graceland in 1984. The Hound Dog II came later.

Coker, 76, says OKC may sell the planes if they’re removed from Graceland, but he still hopes to negotiate a deal that would keep the planes there. Coker acknowledges that he and his partners would lose money from ticket sales if the planes were removed.

“I would love to see the airplanes stay where they are forever,” Coker said. “Millions of fans have toured those airplanes and there’s a real connection between fans and those airplanes. Those airplanes are part of the Elvis experience.”

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