Saturday, July 26, 2014

Pennsylvania State Police Get New Choppers

The Pennsylvania State Police are replacing their aging helicopter fleet.

The state police received two new Bell 407GX helicopters earlier this week. The two will be joined by four new helicopter in the future, state police said in a release.

“We operate six aviation patrol units across the state and provide aerial support to all federal, state and local law enforcement agencies within the state,” Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said.

The new helicopters will provide troopers with “real-time situational awareness to incident commanders and first responders during times of critical incidents or disasters,” a release said.

“It is very important that we have modern, reliable and mission-ready helicopters to patrol and serve the citizens of the commonwealth,” Noonan said.

The new choppers will allow state police to continue to carry out there aerial support mission, which ranges from photographing accident scene to patrol and criminal surveillance. State police operate six bases throughout the state and also use fix-wing aircraft as part of the state-wide police duties.

Lower Bucks County authorities often call in the Philadelphia Police Department’s helicopter unit for local efforts. Pennsylvania State Police, New Jersey State Police and Coast Guard helicopters have also been spotted before participating in searches in the area.

The new helicopters were paid for with Pennsylvania State Police reserves and federal forfeiture monies.

Credit: Pennsylvania State Police

Rep Nolan announces $31,500 grant for Walker Municipal Airport (Y49), Minnesota

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have awarded $31,500 to the Walker Municipal Airport, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan announced July 24.

The grant will provide federal funding for the restoration of airport apron (the area where aircraft are parked while boarding), taxiway, and runway through crack repair and pavement patching.

 Nolan, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, as well as the General Aviation Caucus, emphasized the importance of local airports for tourism and business in Minnesota’s Eighth District.

“Regional airports, like Walker Municipal Airport, play a crucial role in our rural economy by providing transportation to business commuters and visitors alike,” he stated. “Maintaining safe and efficient airport operations with this grant will support good-paying middle class jobs in the region, from construction, to business and tourism.”

Original Source:

Thunder over the Boardwalk: Atlantic City Airshow coming soon

Earplugs will be back in style on Aug. 13 as the annual Atlantic City Airshow returns to full volume after last year’s federal sequester grounded two of its biggest draws.

The Army Golden Knights parachute team and the United States Air Force Thunderbirds are back after their one-year hiatus, which has organizers expecting this year’s show to be as big — and loud — as ever.

“We had a good show for what we were up against last year,” said airboss David Schultz, who has been directing the show since it started in 2003. “It’ll be a louder show this year, with (the Thunderbirds’) six F-16s in the air.”

The show typically draws about 800,000 people to Atlantic City’s slice of the South Jersey Shore, but only drew about half that many last year without the military acts on its schedule. In 2012, its last year with military acts, the show had an economic impact of $42 million according to P.J. Rebovich, spokesman for event organizer Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce. He did not have numbers for last year’s show.

And while that 800,000 figure may sound like a promise of chaos on the roadways, Rebovich said that number includes Brigantine, Atlantic City, Ventnor and Margate, and with the South Jersey Transportation Authority well-experienced in handling airshow traffic, the impact to any single artery shouldn’t be too severe.

The show will come ten days after Lady Antebellum’s hotly-anticipated beach concert and thirteen days after Blake Shelton’s, capping off a two-week stretch of good returns for a city that’s seen a lot of bad news lately.

“It’s great exposure for us,” Rebovich said on behalf of Chamber President Joe Kelly. “It shows we’re quite a patriotic town and always welcoming visitors and doing big things, like this show and the free beach concerts the Atlantic City Alliance is pulling off.”

The show will begin at 11:50 a.m. with tow-banner planes, followed immediately after by a pair of jumps by the Golden Knights in what should be one of the day’s grandest spectacles. A 1:10 demonstration of a Marine Corps Harrier jet should be a highlight, as should the aerobatics performances of civilians Andrew McKenna and Jim Beasley at 2:16 p.m. and World Unlimited Aerobatic Champion Rob Holland at 2:26 p.m. The Thunderbirds’ show-closing performance will start at 3 p.m.

While visitors will be spread throughout Atlantic City and nearby towns, travel into the city could prove difficult, so the Chamber is offering park-and-ride shuttle service to and from Mile 4 on the Atlantic City Expressway for $20. Shuttles will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Before summer began, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian promised the city would be flush with fun, free events for visitors and local alike, and he said the airshow is just another part of fulfilling that vow.

“We’ve been delivering that every day and every weekend,” he said. “We had a great weekend last weekend and I think that’s what you’ll see every weekend, from now until the kids go back to school in September.”

For more information on this year’s Airshow, visit

Original Source:

Bison sculpture installed near Billings airport to honor former director: Billings Logan International (KBIL), Montana

The late Bruce Putnam.

When Joliet sculptor Charlie Ringer says he’ll ride his newest creation, that’s no bull.

On Thursday morning at his Joliet studio, Ringer deftly climbed up the side of the bison, possibly his last chance to ride the bull before it was installed Friday morning near the Billings airport.

The steel bison is a bit bigger than Ringer originally planned, standing 10 feet high and measuring 24 feet long. It weighs 1,000 pounds. It looks bright orange because Ringer has been applying vinegar to the steel to rust it.

“It’s basically a cave drawing of a bison,” Ringer said.

The sculpture was commissioned by the Aviation and Transit Commission in 2013 as a way to honor Bruce Putnam, director of aviation and transit for the city of Billings for 27 years. Putnam died in October 2012 of cancer, but just a few weeks before he died, the commission agreed to support the project to install bison near the airport.

Putnam envisioned a string of bison sculptures that would stretch from the airport down to the city center and on to the Yellowstone River. The larger project is not part of the plan, but eventually the commission hopes to raise enough money by selling smaller bison sculptures made by Ringer to fund two additional bison at the airport. The commission is working with the Billings Community Foundation to collect money for the project.

Angela Babby, a Billings mosaic artist, created a fused-glass mosaic of shades of red with a sun at the center as the heart-line of the large bison. The sculpture will be lit from two sides and landscaping will be placed around it. It sits outside between the roundabout and the Yellowstone County Museum. A public dedication ceremony is planned for Aug. 30.

The small bison sculptures are still available for $500. Ringer said 50 have been sold so far and others are available.

Story and Photo Gallery:

Metal sculptor Charles Ringer and Lakota Sioux representative Angela Babby install a bison sculpture at the entrance to the Billings airport on Friday morning. 

Charlie Ringer takes a ride on his new bison sculpture before it was installed outside the Billings airport on Friday to honor the late Bruce Putnam, director of aviation and transit for the city of Billings for 27 years. 

Joliet sculptor Charlie Ringer shows off the heart-line mosaic created by Billings mosaic artist Angela Babby. The piece is part of his steel bison sculpture installed Friday outside the Billings airport.

Funding for North Platte Regional Airport Lee Bird Field (KLBF) at risk

Lee Bird Field, along with other area airports, is facing difficulty in keeping wind beneath its wings.

Airport authorities have rejected two proposals from Great Lakes Airlines for 2014-15 service, along with airports in Scottsbluff and Kearney. The proposals were denied on grounds that Great Lakes lacked clarity, said Mike Sharkey, airport manager. The proposals have been turned over to the Department of Transportation for review.

Sharkey said Great Lakes has 30 days to respond to the rejection, and then North Platte Airport Authority will have an opportunity to comment. The process will be completed by Sept. 1, Sharkey said. The current agreement with Great Lakes doesn’t expire until Oct. 31.

Currently, Great Lakes is the only airline bidding to service North Platte.

One of their proposals undercut the necessary 10,000 enplanements — passenger boardings at Lee Bird Field — required by the Federal Aviation Administration for the airport to receive $1 million per year in federal funds for maintaining the airport. If an airport doesn’t make 10,000 enplanements, Sharkey said federal funding drops to $150,000 per year.

The trouble stems from an FAA law that went into effect in August 2013 that requires first officers to have training, that was formerly required only of captains, before they can set foot in the cockpit of a commercial airline. The FAA law requres that pilots applying for first officer in a commercial airline must have an Airline Transport Pilot rating, which includes 1,500 hours of specialized flying experience, ground school, similator training and a check-ride in an aircraft over 12,500 pounds — all funded by the applicant. Sharkey estimated the cost of all of it out of pocket is around $125,000.

Sharkey said he has discouraged his own grandson from pursuing a career in commercial airline piloting.

“The airline itself can’t even hire them to train them,” he said.

It used to be that pilots anticipating the ATP would gain flight time as first officers, and requirements for hire were 500 hours of flight, with some specialized flight. The new regulations were driven by the crash of Colgan Airlines flight 3407 in Buffalo, N.Y., which was attributed to pilot fatigue, Sharkey said. He said he sees the reason behind requiring more specialized hours for new hires, but thinks a better solution for pilots just starting out is dropping the ATP requirement and requiring 1,000 hours or so with stipulations on specific flight training.

The regulations don’t apply to pilots of smaller craft, though, so Great Lakes has started flying more nine-seater crafts than 19-seater planes to allow their pilots to stay in the air. The smaller planes and fewer flights translates to challenges at the airport to fulfill enplanement.

“This is through no fault of Great Lakes,” Sharkey said.

Commercial flights aren’t the only source of income for Lee Bird Field. The demand for private hangars and charter flights hasn’t decreased. In fact, Sharkey said most of the 50 hangars are full. But without the $1 million in federal funds, the airport won’t be able to complete maintenance at the level it currently is, particularly in the winter when ice and snow removal demands employee time, heavy machine use and fueling.

“They have painted small airlines and airports into the corner,” Sharkey said.

Original Source:

Touring a bomber, with memories of flying one: Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport (KGFL), Queensbury, Warren County, New York

QUEENSBURY -- The B-17 bomber “Sentimental Journey” picked up an extra crew member for its weeklong visit to Warren County airport.

 The vintage plane travels the country with a crew from the Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force Aviation Museum and will be open to visitors Saturday and Sunday before departing on its next mission, a trip to Bar Harbor, Maine.

Earl Morrow, a 93-year-old Hartford resident who piloted B-17s in World War II, is spending the week giving airport visitors a more thorough experience of the bomber.

“They see the airplanes, but they don’t know what the boys who flew in them went through, what they know,” said Morrow, who was a pilot for American Airlines for 30 years after the war. “They go through the plane, and they want to know what is what like to run one.”

Morrow, who was wearing a crisp long-sleeved shirt, khaki pants and a ballcap that said “U.S. Army Air Corps,” was more than happy to tell visitors about the plane, including details of his 17th flight, when he and his crew were shot down and sent to a German prisoner of war camp.

“We were there six months, and they made us leave the camp during a blizzard, because the Russians were coming and they didn’t want to get caught,” Morrow told a group of tourists standing near the plane Thursday morning. “A lot of guys couldn’t make it. I tried to collapse in the snow, but someone came over, hit me a couple times and got me up.”

He wound up in a camp in Nuremberg, Germany, which was later liberated by Gen. George Patton.

Morrow had wanted to join the military after Pearl Harbor, but his father was on the draft board and insisted he go to college. When he turned 21, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps.

Even some of the veteran members of the plane’s crew were mesmerized on Thursday by Morrow’s stories.

Morrow’s daughter, Jessica Brand, who splits her time between Hartford and Indiana, kept her father hydrated and fed and tried to get him to sit down on occasion.

“But there are people here, I want to talk to them,” he said at one point.

“It’s not like they’re going to fire you,” she said.

Kristin Purcell, the plane’s loadmaster, said it has been a pleasure having Morrow around.

“He’s having a great time,” she said, sitting at the souvenir booth Thursday. “He just going up to people and asking if they have any questions.”

For a few minutes, Morrow stood still, looking at a copy of a photo of him and his crew.

“I had a good bunch of boys,” he said, picking them out by name and talking a bit about each one.

Thirteen years ago, Morrow, bombardier Sam Lisica and navigator Jerry Silverman gathered for an interview with Hudson Falls teacher Matt Rozell.

Lisica and Silverman have since died.

“My father is the last one left,” Brand said. “And as far as we can tell, he is the last one left from his high school graduating class.”

Morrow was a Boy Scout with Hartford Troop 40 and the valedictorian of the Hartford Class of 1939. He’s planning to be around to tell his stories for at least a few more years, he said.

“My father made it to 96, and I want to get past him. Then I am going to try to get past 100,” he said.

Story, Photos and Video:


The interior of the World War II B-17 bomber "Sentimental Journey" is seen from the front gunner's seat Monday, July 21, 2014.

Spectators watch as the World War II B-17 bomber "Sentimental Journey" pulls into the Warren County airport Monday, July 21, 2014. 

Arlington airfield dedicate to Wesley Schierman: Arlington Municipal Airport (KAWO), Washington

ARLINGTON — The Black Jack Squadron's Missing Man formation that flew over the Arlington Municipal Airport July 21 was itself missing one of its most important men.

The pilots were paying tribute to retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Wesley Schierman, one of three founders of the squadron in 1990, who died Jan. 4.

Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert was joined by Schierman's widow, Faye, in cutting the ribbon to the sign dedicating the airport's historical airfield to Schierman.

"Leadership, is action, not words," Tolbert said. "Today we will dedicate the Arlington Airport to a man whose actions exemplified his leadership."

Schierman's long career in aviation included stints not only in the Air Force and Washington Air National Guard, but also as a commercial pilot for Northwest Airlines.

He was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam from Aug. 28, 1965, to Feb. 12, 1973, before retiring from active duty in 1974. Likewise, by the time he retired from Northwest as a Boeing 747 captain in 1995, he'd logged more than 15,000 flight hours.

The Black Jack Squadron, which Schierman co-founded, is a formation flight demonstration team, whose pilots volunteer to fly Missing Man missions for fallen Pacific Northwest veterans.

During his memorial at the Boeing Museum of Flight, Schierman was lauded as one of the four strongest leaders of the 400-plus men residing at the Hanoi Hilton.

"But to know these things about Wes was to scratch the surface of this remarkable man," said Tolbert, who first met Schierman three years after he and his partners had founded the squadron. "As a budding pilot, I was both intimidated and in awe of the flying skills displayed by this group."

Tolbert credited Schierman and his fellow Black Jacks with seemingly never turning down an opportunity to honor a departed military member or aviator with a Missing Man formation.

"The collective actions of one's life is the legacy that they leave behind," Tolbert said. "It will be an honor for me to fly at Major Wesley Schierman Field, dedicated to a man who loved family, country and freedom."

Faye Schierman had little to add to Tolbert's remarks, except when she looked up and saw the Black Jacks overhead.

"When you see those airplanes flying, that says it all to me," Faye Schierman said.

Original Source:

The Arlington Municipal Airport's historic airfield is dedicated to retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Wesley Schierman by Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert and Schierman's widow, Faye. 
Photo Courtesy of Kirk Boxleitner

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hayward rally stops in Silver Springs

SILVER SPRINGS — Hayward Air Rally participating pilots flew into this community’s airport Thursday, and among those greeting them was a student from Carson City looking to spread his wings in aviation.

Richard Frewert, Jr., about to start his senior year at Nevada Connections Academy, was on hand to help rally participants and was recognized for winning a related scholarship. He will be one of seven students in seven states who will receive scholarships that include tuition and round-trip air fare to the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Advanced Air Academy summer program for 2014.

Frewert, enjoying the rally’s opening act, will head to Oshkosh, Wis. The program in Oshkosh is an in-residence summer camp for students to develop and explore their interests in aviation. It provides a foundation for young aviation enthusiasts to take the next steps in the field and a chance to make friends with peers who have similar interests, according to organizers.

This community’s airport was the first stop for the air rally, which billed itself the longest continually-held proficiency flying event in North America. Planes were a bit late in arriving, with the first in at mid-morning, after a 45 minute delay due to fog before takeoff in California. The annual rally is staged by Hayward Air Rally, Inc., a not-for-profit in California, which began in the city for which it’s named in 1964.

Pilot Ed Hunter of Saratoga, Calif., along with his navigator, Alex Santoro of Palo Alto, Calif., brought their Cessna 310 in first and were followed by a couple of Vans RV 10 aircraft. In all, more than 25 planes were anticipated. After refueling, an early barbecue luncheon was served.

Frewert and his father, Rick, were among those greeting Hunter and Santoro. Frewert then trekked back to the barbecue area to bring a cooler of water out for all pilots and navigators at the refueling area.

In the first of the two Vans RV 10 planes were Mitzi and Dave Saylor of Watsonville, Calif., with Mitzi piloting the craft. She was on a busman’s and airwoman’s holiday of sorts, flying the couple’s yellow and white aircraft. She is a commercial flight captain for United based in San Francisco. In the red version of the same model plane, which came in next, was Rick Emerian of Fresno, Calif. He was flying solo.

The 50th annual Hayward Air Rally runs Thursday through Sunday, originating at the Hayward Executive Airport and spanning seven states along a challenging and competitive route.

The ultimate destination is the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Air Venture event at the Oshkosh Wittman Field in Wisconsin.

Cheryl Knight of Carson City, a member of the Hayward Air Rally Committee and the Silver Springs Airport stop’s ramp lead, said the EAA was forged by people who built or converted aircraft themselves, but now includes membership by aviation enthusiasts of all stripes. Rally organizers say that EAA’s ranks include 180,000 in membership and 1,000 local chapters. 

Story and Photo Gallery:

Rick Emerian of Fresno, Calif., a pilot in the Hayward Air Rally, tows his Vans RV 10 aircraft into position for refueling at the Silver Springs Airport during a stop along the rally route. 

A ground crew person signals Mitzi Saylor and her husband, Dave, as she taxis in after landing their Vans RV 10 aircraft at Silver Springs Airport during the Hayward Air Rally. The Saylor aircraft and another RV 10 were the second and third planes to arrive Thursday. 

Carson City's Richard Frewert, Jr., foreground, with his father, Rick, behind him, as they head toward a refueling area at the Silver Springs Airport to help at a stop on the Hayward Air Rally. The younger Frewert is an aviation summer camp scholarship winner.

Cleveland Aerial Media: Federal Aviation Administration launches investigation into Cleveland drone company after drone flown during bridge demolition

CLEVELAND - Cleveland Aerial Media told NewsChannel5 last week they violated a temporary flight restriction July 12, when they flew a drone over the Innerbelt Bridge demolition and posted the video online.

That flight triggered a letter of investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration informing Cleveland Aerial Media, also known as Aerial Cleveland, that the incident is under investigation.

Aerial Cleveland co-owner John Ellenberger said they will now take ground school and pilot safety classes at Lorain County Regional Airport and get more involved with the Academy of Model Aircraft to avoid future incidents.

"We're taking this very seriously. The lesson that we learned is that we're going to have to be a lot more careful and follow the guidelines a bit more stringently," said Cleveland Aerial Media co-owner John Ellenberger.

In an unrelated incident, FAA investigators are still investigating a near miss with an unknown drone and helicopter over Cleveland July 11.
Drones, UAVs, quadrocopters: whatever name they go by, some feel the FAA should force drone operators to register and get certified.

Drones can be used for for search and rescue, photographing ballparks, farming and more. That means this technology could be big business—as long as safety comes first.

"I see it creating jobs and Ohio is the birthplace of aviation and we want to bring innovation to Cleveland," Ellenberger said.

Ellenberger also said Cleveland Aerial Media loves the city Cleveland and doesn't want to hurt anyone.

Ellenberger said the FAA's rules about drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or Systems are unclear, but he expects the FAA will soon update the rules to keep up with this changing remote-controlled technology.

Story and Video:

Cost of obtaining pilot's license will increase -Canada

Taking to the skies and enjoying the wild, blue yonder just got a bit more expensive.
The Liberal government announced that it will raise the tax on aviation fuel from 2.7 cents a litre to 6.7 cents in 2017.

For those recreational fliers renting or owning a small plane, or those contemplating obtaining their pilot's license, the tax hike means they will have to dig a bit deeper into their pockets when it comes time for take-off.

“The percentage, in terms of actually increasing the cost of a litre of gas, is not a huge amount but it is something that we will have to pass on to customers ... I mean, we don't have a choice,” said Ian Fyfe, operations manager at the St. Thomas Flight Center.

According to Fyfe, the flight center rents a two-seater for $128 an hour plus HST, and taking a four-seat plane out for a spin costs $152 an hour plus HST. Factor in the $14,000 needed to obtain a pilot's license and, well, costs are soaring.

“Flying is very expensive anyway,” said Fyfe. “We took a major hit in 2010 when the HST was introduced, but everything is cumulative. Any one change may not seem like much, but cumulatively, the cost is considerable when owning an aircraft, flying, or learning to fly. Does it help our business? No, it doesn't.”

However, according to Dale Arndt, Airport Superintendent for the City of St. Thomas, the tax hike could actually result in some good news for smaller airports. Although, he cautioned that any increase to the cost of gasoline will deter some aircraft from purchasing fuel in Ontario, having access to the transportation funding will benefit operations.

“Now it looks like we are eligible for that tax money to use for infrastructure, which would be a positive thing,” said Arndt. “Airports on the list can tap into some of that tax money and improve or repair runways. In St. Thomas we are in pretty good shape but a few more years down the road we will have to spend money to repair our runways.”

Fyfe said that the tax hike will be an added cost to doing business at the busy flight center, and those who are taking courses needed to obtain a commercial pilot's license will have to compare it to an increase in university or college tuition. Or, he said, just the price of getting an education.

“But the gas tax may cause recreational fliers to fly a bit less,” said Fyfe.

Approximately 12 people obtain their pilot's license each year at the St. Thomas Flight Center, and another 30 individuals annually upgrade their license ratings. “We have a real mix of commercial and recreational pilots," he said.

Original Source:

First plane lands on Wellcamp tarmac

Developer John Wagner has piloted the first plane to touch down on the freshly-laid asphalt at Wellcamp Airport, just weeks before Australia's newest runway is completed.

It was momentous occasion for his mother Mary, who was one of the lucky few passengers on the flight.

"I was feeling extremely proud of not only John, but all the boys (Neill, Denis and Joe), because I have always had faith they would be able to see their vision of building the airport come to fruition," said Mary, who has eight children, 30 grand children and two great-grandchildren.

After describing her son as a "little devil of a kid who was destined to be a leader", Mary said John was always keen on planes.

"I can remember my brother Father Pat Doyle taking John to airports to watch planes land when he was a youngster," she said.

"So to see him at the controls of the plane, landing so smoothly on the runway, was just such a proud moment for me."


Joe, Mary and John Wagner (right) touch down for the first time on the almost-completed tarmac of Wellcamp Airport in a Beechcraft King Air. 
Photo Contributed

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Air travel up at Youngstown Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport (KYNG), Vienna, Ohio

VIENNA, Ohio (WYTV) – Air travel is up at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna.

In June, they had more than 18,000 passengers – the most in a month since 1992.

This comes as the Federal Aviation Administration gave the airport a good yearly review, finding no major problems.

Director of Aviation Dan Dickten said the FAA told them to fix two minor issues:   They plan to re-paint faded runway markers in the fall, as usual and will remove taxiways with paving problems, after years of concern over poor design.


Authority seeks bids on management contract for Atlantic City International Airport (KACY), New Jersey

The South Jersey Transportation Authority is seeking proposals from private companies to oversee the day-to-day operations at Atlantic City International Airport for the next five years.

Kevin Rehmann, a spokesman for the transportation authority, said several firms attended a pre-bid meeting Thursday to discuss the management contract and take a tour of the airport. Bids are due Aug. 21, with the new contract starting Jan. 1, 2015.

The Virginia-based AvPORTS Management LLC is Atlantic City International’s current operator, but its five-year contract expired in 2013 and it has been serving under a one-year extension since then, according to the company’s website.

Rehmann said AvPORTS officials picked up the bid package, but it is not clear whether the company plans to submit a formal proposal in hopes of winning a new five-year deal. The transportation authority, which owns the airport, did not immediately disclose how much it has paid AvPORTS under its old contract.

The airport’s management contract calls for the daily operation, maintenance and cleaning of the passenger terminal and other facilities. One major responsibility handled by the operator is to keep the airport’s roadways, sidewalks and “aircraft movement areas” clear of snow, the South Jersey Transportation Authority’s contract proposal says.

The operator’s duties will be separate from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the transportation giant that was brought in last year to attract new airline service to the Atlantic City market. However, the bid proposal says that the new operator will support the Port Authority’s recruitment of new airlines and would also help to develop air-cargo facilities.

Atlantic City International’s growth strategy has focused primarily on attracting more airline service, but a new element is emerging — packages, as well as passengers.

UPS, FedEx, DHL and other air-freight companies don’t fly to Atlantic City at this time. Airport supporters say that cargo operators may be just as prized as passenger airlines because of the jobs and economic development they could bring to the region.


The first United Airlines flight Atlantic City International Airport arrives, Tuesday April 1, 2014, in Egg Harbor Township. 
Photo by Michael Ein/The Press of Atlantic City

RLU-1 Breezy, N3AZ: Accident occurred July 31, 2014 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin

NTSB Identification: CEN14FA399
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, July 31, 2014 in Oshkosh, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/29/2015
Aircraft: ZIMMERMAN BREEZY, registration: N3AZ
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

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

The accident pilot flew a passenger on a 10-minute flight during the Experimental Aircraft Association Airventure Oshkosh 2014. During landing, the pilot lost airplane control and subsequently struck a parked ground vehicle. A pilot in another airplane that had been cleared to land reported that he saw two airplanes in front of his airplane: a light-colored high-wing airplane that was turning from the right base to the final leg of the traffic pattern, and a high-wing airplane, which was the accident airplane, directly in front of him on the right downwind leg. The pilot of the trailing airplane stated that the air traffic controller was providing instructions to the pilots of the other two airplanes simultaneously and that it appeared that the controller was concerned about the spacing between the two airplanes ahead of him and the fact that his airplane was a faster airplane than the other two airplanes. The pilot heard the controller tell the accident airplane pilot while he was on short final to "pick it up a bit" and inform hit that a faster airplane was behind him. The accident airplane touched down and then become airborne again, and the controller subsequently stated to the accident pilot that “he could set it down.” The airplane landed again and veered left on the runway. The pilot appeared to correct the airplane’s ground track back on the centerline for a short time before the airplane veered right off the runway and onto the grass. The airplane then became airborne again and was in a nose-high, right-wing-low attitude; the pilot was likely attempting to clear a row of vehicles parked in the grass outside of the safety area. However, the airplane’s tail hit one of the vehicles, and a small ground fire ensued. The pilot of the trailing airplane did not see any debris on the runway nor anything fall off the accident airplane before it hit the parked vehicle, and no debris or separated parts were found on the runway. An examination of the wreckage did not reveal any preimpact anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

The tower communications were consistent with the air traffic controller simultaneously coordinating the landing of three airplanes on the same runway. Photographs revealed that, after the accident airplane landed behind the first airplane, the separation between the two airplanes decreased before the accident airplane exited the runway. It is likely that after the accident pilot landed the airplane, he observed that the separation between his airplane and the airplane ahead of him was decreasing, which led to his loss of airplane control.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot’s failure to maintain airplane control during landing while the air traffic controller was simultaneously coordinating the landing of three airplanes on the same runway, which resulted in the airplane exiting the runway and impacting a parked ground vehicle. 


On July 31, 2014, about 0857 central daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Zimmerman Breezy airplane, N3AZ, exited runway 36R at the Wittman Regional Airport (OSH), near Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and impacted parked vehicles east of the runway. A ground fire subsequently occurred. The pilot was fatally injured and the passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane sustained substantial wing and fuselage damage. The airplane was registered to A Z Air Lease Inc. and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as personal flight. Day visual flight rules conditions prevailed for the flight, which did not operate on a flight plan. The local flight originated from OSH.

The rear seat passenger was a volunteer at Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Airventure Oshkosh 2014. She asked for a ride in the Breezy. During an interview, she said that Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and volunteer staff get priority for flights. She stated that prior to the ride she signed a waiver in reference to the flight and recalled getting a safety brief on where to keep hands and feet placed. The brief included a warning not to have loose items. When asked how she was told to sit, she replied that she was told to keep feet on either side of seat and not to interfere with the control stick. She indicated the stick was marked, "Do not touch." She further said that she was told to keep her hands on her lap. She reported she wore headphones during the flight, which lasted about 10 minutes and subsequently said that it was a great flight. She reported that the airplane landed and indicated that it was a good landing. The airplane turned immediately to the right. The pilot pulled up and was able to land the plane for a second time, which was a good landing as well. The pilot pulled up and went in for another landing. The airplane turned right again. She stated that the airplane hit a taxiway light. She felt the lenses from the taxiway light hit her leg. She recalled seeing a truck and the airplane pull up. She thought the airplane was not going to clear the truck. She recalled that the airplane hit the truck and felt being separated from the airplane. She recalled flying through the air and waking up on the ground. She could not move her left arm and remembered asking for help. She then remembered waking up in the ambulance.

A pilot in the airplane trailing the Breezy stated that he was cleared to land while flying a left base to runway 36R from FISKE [an intersection south of OSH]. He saw two airplanes in front of his airplane. One was a white or light colored high wing airplane that was just turning from a right base to final for 36R, and the second was a high wing airplane, a Breezy, on right downwind. He turned final behind the Breezy. The controller was giving instructions to the high wing and the Breezy. It appeared to the pilot that the controller was concerned about the high wing airplane and Breezy spacing and the fact that his airplane was a faster airplane behind both of them. The controller referred to the pilot's airplane as a Mooney, which the pilot did not "pick up on right away." However, his passenger did recognize the reference to Mooney. When the pilot was on short final, he heard the controller tell the Breezy to "pick it up a bit" or words to that affect, and that a Mooney was behind him. The pilot's statement, in part, said:

At that point, just prior to my touching down on the numbers, the
Breezy became airborne again and flew no more than 10 feet off the
ground for a couple hundred feet. Once I was on the ground, I heard
the controller tell the Breezy he could set it down. The Breezy landed
again, and quickly veered to the left, but stayed on the runway. The
Breezy then corrected his ground track and appeared to be back on the
centerline for a short time before veering off the right side of the
runway and onto the grass. He seemed to correct his course again and
was able to travel straight ahead and in parallel with the runway but on
the grass for a short time, but he then became airborne again. He left
the ground and travelled nose high and right wing low towards the east
where a row of military vehicles were parked. These vehicles were
facing the airport and in a row paralleling the runway from north to

As the Breezy attempted to clear the military vehicles in a nose high
attitude, it appeared that the tail of the aircraft hit a vehicle causing the
aircraft to flip over. The aircraft became to rest on its back on top of the
military vehicles. I was about 100 yards behind the Breezy at the time
he impacted the vehicles. As we taxied by the Breezy I could see a small
fire had started away from the aircraft to the north east approximately
20 feet or so. I did see the pilot hanging upside down in his harness still
attached to the aircraft. I only saw his upper torso and legs. I did not see
his head. I also did not see the passenger and was unaware there was
one until later that day.

I did not see anything fall off the Breezy during the time it was flying or
on the ground prior to it hitting the military vehicle. I saw no debris on
the runway. I lost sight of the light colored high wing just prior to
touching down.

The airplane impacted parked armored Oshkosh vehicles and a ground fire occurred where the airplane came to rest. First responders extinguished the fire and transported the pilot and passenger to local hospitals. The pilot subsequently died from the injuries sustained during the accident.


The 74-year-old pilot held a FAA commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, single-engine sea, glider, and instrument airplane ratings. The pilot held a FAA third-class medical certificate, dated May 21, 2014, with a limitation to wear corrective lenses. On the application for that certificate, he reported that he had accumulated 2,490 hours of total flight time and 15 hours of flight time in six months prior to the medical certificate.


N3AZ was an experimental amateur-built Zimmerman Breezy high-wing, propeller-driven, fixed landing gear, tandem two-seat airplane with serial number JD1. A review of the airplane's logbooks revealed that the airplane had accumulated a total time of 1,230.6 hours at the last condition inspection, dated July 10, 2014, which was endorsed by the airplane builder who held a repairman certificate for the accident airplane. The airplane was powered by a Lycoming O-235-C1 with serial number 5795-15. The engine data plate indicated that it was rated at 108 horsepower at 2,600 rpm. The logbook endorsement revealed that the engine had accumulated 94.2 hours total time at the last condition inspection.


At 0853, the recorded weather at OSH was: Wind 300 degrees at 6 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition clear; temperature 20 degrees C; dew point 16 degrees C; altimeter 30.00 inches of mercury.


A transcription, which covered the OSH Airport Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) radio communications for the time period from July 31, 2014 , 0847, to July 31, 2014 ,0909 was reviewed. The transcript, in part, stated:

Agencies Making Transmissions Abbreviations
Breezy N3AZ
Local Control South LCS

0852:44 N3AZ breezy ready papa three

0852:47 LCS breezy ah roger hold short of runway three six left

0852:50 N3AZ breezy

0853:57 LCS breezy runway three six left ah line up and wait

0854:00 N3AZ line up

0854:28 LCS breezy cleared for takeoff runway three six left

0857:08 N3AZ breezy turning base ah following the tail dragger

0857:12 LCS okay breezy thank you sir you're going to follow that
taildragger runway three six right you are cleared to land

0857:16 N3AZ breezy

0857:29 LCS mooney left base ah you're cleared to land you're
following the breezy just turning the ah base for runway three six right
mooney three six right you're cleared to land mooney

0858:14 LCS aeroshell ah runway three six left you're cleared to land
breezy go ahead and set it down now that that tail dragger's going to
set it down here shortly

0858:31 LCS cirrus or mooney type go ahead and ah keep a high speed
taxi you're following that breezy ahead breezy go ahead and set it down
now taildragger on the runway keep it ah keep the speed up for me please
sir keep the speed up for me please

0858:41 N3AZ (unintelligible)

0859:00 LCS okay ah ford go around for me ah mooney ah just keep it ah
just keep it goin down the taxiway for me please ford go around and ah
aeroshell team go around for me p lease all aircraft inbound from fisk ah
we're going to be ah ah you're we' re going to have to turn back up to ripon
for me all aircraft inbound from fisk turn to ripon for me please ah big ford
ah go ahead and take it ah take it south ah just continue on the upwind now
and ah you turn right abeam the tower for me please

0859:31 LCS cher cherokee in the aeroshell team there cherokee just
sidestep to the right for me please and go around keep the up wind turn ah
just keep the upwind for me


OSH, located approximately two miles south of downtown Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was a towered airport, owned by Winnebago County, with a surveyed field elevation of 808 feet above mean sea level. The airport's primary runways are runway 9/27 (6,178 feet by 150 feet, asphalt) and runway 18/36 (8,002 feet by 150 feet). However, during AirVenture, permission has been granted to allow the use of its parallel taxiway as a runway. Runway 18/36 becomes 18R/36L and taxiway A becomes 18L/36R under special flight procedures that were effective from 0600 on July 25 to Noon on August 4, 2014. The temporary runway was about 50 feet wide and was about 5,500 feet in length from its threshold to the A2 intersection. The temporary runway was about 2,750 feet in length from its threshold to the A3 intersection and was about 1,325feet in length from its threshold to the A4 intersection.

The EAA website,, provided pilots with information about air traffic control procedures and aircraft movement on the ground. The website listed approximate available runway lengths associated with colored dots on runway 36L. The website did not list the approximate runway lengths associated with intersections on temporary runway 36R.


A GoPro camera, belonging to the passenger, was found in the wreckage. It was shipped to the National Transportation Safety Board Vehicle Recorder Laboratory. The camera video files were corrupt and were recovered. The recovered camera files did not contain data associated with the accident.


The airplane fuselage was found resting on its right side on the rear section of an armored Oshkosh vehicle parked in a grass area east of runway 36R and north of the A4 taxiway. This armored vehicle's rear passenger-side tire and chassis was charred and discolored. Other armored Oshkosh vehicles parked south of this vehicle exhibited witness marks that were oriented in the direction of the resting fuselage. Debris, consisting of pieces of fuselage frame tubing, a section of left main landing gear structure, and laminated wood shards, were located between the other armored vehicles and the airplane fuselage.

The airplane's right wing, engine, and right main landing gear structure were found resting on the ground behind the charred rear passenger-side tire. The right wing was fabric was consumed by fire and its aileron control cables were traced to its bellcrank. The engine throttle linkage was intact and the mixture control was safety wired in the full rich position. The carburetor heat linkage was intact on the intake bracket. The wooden propeller hub remained attached to the engine propeller flange. However, its blades were not in place.

The left wing separated from the fuselage and was found about 25 feet north of the fuselage. Its aileron control cable ends were found outside the wing, separated in a broomstraw appearance consistent with overload. The aileron moved when the separated cables were pulled by hand. The empennage separated from the fuselage and the empennage was found about 55 feet north of the fuselage.

Flight control cables were traced and all observed breaks were consistent with overload. Examination of the engine controls cables revealed no pre-impact anomalies.

An examination of runway 36R revealed no debris or separated parts on the runway. The grass infield area east of runway 36R and north of the A4 taxiway exhibited a path of disturbed grass from the edge of the runway through the infield in a northeast direction toward parked armored Oshkosh vehicles. There was a section of runway abeam the start of the path in the grass that exhibited a depression consistent with spalling. An airport edge light consistent with a taxiway light was found separated from its base. The light's separated support stem was found on the ground in the disturbed grass path through the infield.

The wreckage was relocated and further examined. The engine was lifted by a hoist and a sparkplug was removed from each cylinder. The removed sparkplugs did not exhibit any anomalies. The propeller hub was turned by hand and all cylinders produced a thumb compression. The right magneto produced spark at its four distributor cap lead towers when its impulse coupling was rotated by hand. The left magneto exhibited internal heat damage when it was disassembled. It produced spark at its center electrode when its impulse coupling was rotated by hand. The carburetor fuel screen was removed and no debris was found in it. The gascolator housing exhibited a soot colored discoloration. Its bowl was not in place. All three wheels were rotated by hand and they exhibited no binding. The Hobbs meter indicated 1,251.3 hours.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Winnebago County Coroner's Office. The autopsy listed multiple blunt force injuries as the cause of death.

The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute prepared a Final Forensic Toxicology Accident Report. The report was negative for the tests performed.


The airplane's right wing and a ground vehicle's rear passenger side exhibited discoloration, charring, and deformation consistent with a ground fire. Witness statements confirmed the fire was consistent with a ground fire.


Pictures supplied to the NTSB investigator in charge revealed that there was a high wing airplane, which was landing in front of the Breezy airplane. The images revealed the separation between the high wing airplane and the Breezy was decreasing prior to the Breezy exiting the runway.


During the interview, the rear seat passenger stated that she did not see anything fall off the airplane and did not see anything break. She said that the pilot did not do preflight inspections between flights. He shut down the engine, the passenger would get off the airplane, and the next would get on the airplane. She did not recall an airplane in front of the Breezy during the landing. She stated that the engine did not sputter or have any unusual sounds. The passenger asked if there is "any way to get these parked trucks moved?" She said a Mooney previously hit similarly parked trucks in a prior accident at OSH.

The impacted vehicles were parked outside of the safety area associated with the temporary runway.

The information provided to pilots on the EAA website, in part, stated:

Change of Plans
Be prepared! The control instructions may change from what you were
initially told. For instance you may have been instructed to "land on the
numbers". This would have been issued if there was another aircraft
ahead of you landing at the Purple Dot, however by the time you reach
the runway…

The other aircraft has exited the runway, therefore the controller may
now instruct you to "land on the Purple Dot" which will allow for
another aircraft to land behind you (on the numbers) and still provide
for allowable runway separation.

These "last minute" adjustments will probably occur no matter what
runway you land on. The only difference will be the description of the
touchdown point ("the numbers" or Purple Dot).

Stay alert for traffic ahead of you on final and also for any potential
traffic that may be sequenced from the right base.


DOWNERS GROVE – The experimental aircraft known as the Breezy will land in Downers Grove at 5 p.m. Today at Brookeridge Airpark, to reunite with its previous owner and fly to a celebration of the airplane in Wisconsin.

The airplane landing in Downers Grove Thursday was acquired by Downers Grove resident Arnold Zimmerman in 1976. He flew this airplane for 23 years – also featured in the Chicago Air and Water show before selling it to Mark Trimble of Branson, Mo. in 1999.

On Thursday, a friend of Trimble's, Dave Kennerly, is flying the plane into Downers Grove to meet with Zimmerman. The Breezy has been highly modified with amphibious floats, and fitted with a much larger engine, along with an actual Nautical Captain’s Steering Wheel as the control yoke, according to a press release.

Zimmerman built his current Breezy in 1995, and will fly alongside his first plane, piloted by Kennerly, to OshKosh, Wisc. for the big Breezy 50th Anniversary Celebration where approximately 12 Breezy aircraft will be participating in the festivities.

Zimmerman's first flight with his current Breezy was in September 1998. he and his "Breezy N3AZ” have flown more than 12,000 passengers and registered more than 1,400 Young Eagles, according to a press release. Young Eagles is a free program started by EAA in 1992 of volunteer pilots who help bring the aviation to youth between the ages of 8 and 17.

Zimmerman has been flying for more than 59 years and has received many awards. He was inducted into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame in 2010, and received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award in 2005 for 50-plus years of accident free flying. He was also awarded the Philips 66 Leadership Award in 2000 along with Commander Chuck Yeager.

In addition, he kicks off the annual 4th of July celebration in Bolingbrook with fireworks from his Breezy, and will also be doing so at AirVenture this year for the night-time airshows.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the experimental aircraft known. The Breezy is an all frame, “open air” seated aircraft, originally designed by Carl Unger, who died in September 2013, according to a press release.


Royal Canadian Mounted Police sells Piaggio Avanti P180, C-GFOX for half of asking price: RCMP paid $8 million for plane many considered a vanity purchase by then commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli

The RCMP is getting far less than its asking price at the online auction of a controversial Italian-made plane ordered by former commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli.

The Piaggio P180 Avanti luxury turboprop was listed for sale on the government of Canada's surplus website last spring with bids starting at $2.5 million.

A spokesperson at the department of Public Works tells CBC News it accepted a winning bid of $1.3 million for the Piaggio on July 17. The identity of the buyer is protected under the Privacy Act and the number of bids will not be released until the sale is formally closed.

The RCMP paid more than $8 million for the nine-seater executive aircraft when it bought the plane in 2002. At the time, many viewed the plane as a vanity purchase. Zaccardelli hand-picked the spiffy-looking turboprop aircraft.

Niche market

A source in Canada's aviation industry, who did not want to be identified, calls the P180 a niche aircraft, "You've really got to want an Avanti. The market is very limited," he said.

He added that the aircraft is not very desirable because it has a short range of roughly 1,500 kilometres and is noisy. Even so, he said, someone got a deal, because according to the plane's age, history and specifications, it should have sold for around $2 million.

The RCMP retired the Piaggio on April 1, 2014, as part of its efforts to cut costs. A spokesperson for the Mounties told CBC News the decision was made after "an evaluation of maintenance costs and operational requirements."

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GC Surplus:

A 2003 Piaggio Avanti P180 was auctioned off earlier this year on a government of Canada surplus website. It was bought by the RCMP under former commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli for more than $8 million, but sold for $1.3 million. (

Nanaimo Airport sees federal investment

Nanaimo Airport will upgrade its firefighting capabilities and make a clean sweep of its runways thanks to a cash injection from Transport Canada’s Capital Assistance Program.

Lisa Raitt, federal transport minister, announced $1 million in funding to help purchase a new runway sweeper and an aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicle.

The capital assistance program ensures airports have adequate maintenance and emergency-response capability as air transport grows across the country, Raitt said, during the announcement at Nanaimo Airport on Tuesday.

“In general in Canada we have a very safe air transportation system and we’ve seen a great increase, much like the increase we’ve seen with passengers here in Nanaimo in the past number of years,” Raitt said. “We’ve increased by 40 percent the passenger throughputs in Canada between 2002 and 2011, but at the same time the number of aviation accidents have actually decreased by 25 percent and, indeed, in 2011 the total number of accidents in Canada declined to the lowest recorded figure in modern aviation history.”

Nanaimo Airport is experiencing rapid growth in passenger numbers as more people catch regional flights aboard several air carriers. Passenger counts for 2014 are up 35 percent over 2013 figures.

The new sweeper will improve how quickly and efficiently the airport can clear snow and slush from runways and taxiways and, should an accident occur, the upgraded crash truck will improve response times and capability to deal with any size aircraft that can be landed at YCD.

Monday, WestJet, which started operating flights to Edmonton in 2013, announced it will start daily scheduled flights to Calgary.

Airport president and CEO Mike Hooper said the WestJet flights to Calgary will further meet the airport’s goal of serving Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest and allow passengers to connect with flights from Calgary to the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean.

Lisa Raitt, federal transport minister, poses with maintenance vehicles at Nanaimo Airport Tuesday. 
Photo Courtesy of  CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

New smart goggles to let pilots see through fog

In some good news for pilots who often face adverse weather conditions such as fog, torrential rain and dust storms, new smart goggles have been developed that can help them in smooth landing and take off.

The goggles known as Skylens have been created by an Israeli company and can provide pilots of small business jets or helicopters with a better view of their surroundings.

The goggles are fed video by multi-spectral cameras embedded in the plane's nose, providing clear, wrap-around images of the terrain, 'New Scientist' reported.

Skylens also displays information such as altitude, speed and an artificial horizon to help the pilot keep the aircraft level.

A depth-sensing camera on the instrument panel tracks head motion.

The headset works with an aircraft's other on-board systems to monitor the positions of nearby aircraft from their radar signals.

"We have had 150 pilots try it out in rain, snow, haze and dust on five types of aircraft. They really like it," said Dror Yahav of Elbit Systems, the makers of Skylens.

The goggles are expected to hit the market in 2016, the report said.


Soaring into camp: Flying W Airport (N14) Medford/Lumberton, New Jersey

Get your child's head out of the clouds − or maybe higher in them − by signing him up for this soaring camp.

The Flying W Airport Resort presents a hands-on Aerospace Camp that offers children ages 7-12 the opportunity to learn about planes, rockets, helicopters, instruments and navigation. Campers will also enjoy an airport tour, using the Fly It Simulator and an introductory flight with a Young Eagles pilot, weather permitting.

The camp is taught by New Jersey certified teachers as well as experts in the field of aerospace education from the Flying W. All programs, supplies, speakers and lunch is included in the $300 price.

An extended-care package, 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., can be purchased for an additional $75, which offers campers supervised swimming and snacks.

The five-day camp begins Monday and is 9 a.m to 3 p.m.; however, alternate dates include Aug. 4-8 and Aug. 11-15.

Flying W is at 60 Fostertown Road in Medford. To register, visit or call 609-261-0555.


Photo Courtesy of Nancy Rokos

Custom aircraft parts company to move to Oshkosh

D'Shannon Aircraft will become the first aviation business to move to Oshkosh. It intends to move into the aviation business park once work is complete. 

 Minneapolis-based D'Shannon Aviation plans to relocate its aircraft engine overhauling business to Wittman Regional Airport following AirVenture.

D'Shannon President Scott Erickson said the company will hire five or six employees initially and will work with local fabrication shops to produce parts. The company will occupy a hangar on the airport grounds until D'Shannon can develop its own facility in the aviation business park under development at Wittman.

"We want to get going there and get the momentum going," Erickson said. "I want to be an ambassador to encourage people to come here, come together. We want to bring some people (other businesses) with us to Oshkosh and start looking for bigger companies. If they want to jump on the train here, doing so early will benefit them more."

Erickson said D'Shannon has been focused on engine overhauls and aftermarket parts for Beechcraft airplanes since it acquired those assets in 2010. But he said the company intends to branch out to provide replacement parts, custom parts and performance parts for a wider variety of aircraft.

"We use technologies from the racing industry. We produced our newly-designed exhaust systems in concert with NASCAR, but we want to do everything right in Oshkosh now," Erickson said. "We'll no longer send parts to Roush (Performance) or Yates (Racing Engines). We'll do those improvements in Oshkosh, on the field. We want to be able to manufacture parts and use them to assemble a finished product without getting hung up with industry suppliers."

While D'Shannon intends to hire five or six employees to start, Erickson said the company could end up hiring 30 to 40 total employees in Oshkosh. The company will relocate to a Basler Turbo Conversions hangar at Wittman the week after AirVenture ends. While it will take some time to get the hangar prepared, operations are expected to ramp up quickly.

"We have so much work to do. But this is a custom industry," Erickson said. "We have to be small and smart."


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Skydive Newport: He took the leap, and it paid off

MIDDLETOWN — When Marc Tripari opened Skydive Newport 15 years ago this month, he was living out of an old light blue Honda Accord parked in the main lot of the Newport State Airport.

Tripari was the company’s only employee at that time and remembers eating cans of tuna fish for dinner and showering at the Newport Athletic Club in Middletown to clean up.

Today, Tripari is at the helm of a successful local business, one that has 10 employees and three airplanes. It set a new company record a couple of Saturdays ago when it completed close to 100 tandem jumps in one day.

“We figured it out recently, and if you add up the number of jumps we’ve done from 2 miles up over the years, you could go around the world twice,” Tripari said. “It’s been an amazing ride.”

With 15 years of experience as a skydiving instructor already under his belt, Tripari decided in July 1999 to take the jump and set up shop at what now is known as the Col. Robert F. Wood Airpark.

Although there had been a skydive company at the island’s airport a few years before, Tripari said he felt he was sitting on a gold mine, given the attractiveness of Newport as an international tourist destination.

He bought his first plane sight unseen, and his high-limit credit cards got quite a workout as he set up the business from scratch.

“Our clients have been great here over the years,” Tripari said. “It feels good. No one else built this business.”

Today, Skydive Newport works like a well-oiled machine, with everyone having a job and knowing it inside and out, Tripari said. Each customer has to sign a liability waiver, go through a 10-minute training course and then get ready to board a plane on his or her way up for a tandem jump.

Although the plane climbs to 10,000 feet, Tripari said where skydivers jump — known as “The Spot” among skydive veterans — varies day to day, depending mostly on weather and wind conditions.

Throughout the trip up and as divers are on their way down, the pilot is in constant communication with air traffic control at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick as well as the local network to make sure everyone is aware there are jumpers in the air, Tripari said.

On days like the one a couple of weekends ago, Skydive Newport will run two planes on a cycle, with instructors packing chutes almost as soon as another team lands, Tripari said. It takes a trained instructor about 10 or 15 minutes to pack a parachute.

The charge for a tandem jump is $230, up from $200 in 1999.

Despite the popularity of skydiving and the company’s successful track record, Tripari said one thing he still hears from people is how unsafe the sport is.

And while Tripari said there’s certainly a risk from jumping out of a plane traveling at 90 mph, 2 miles above the ground, the same could be said with many activities.

“Statistically, it’s safer to do this than drive your car here and back home,” Tripari said. “There’s risk in everything you do, but we always hear about it when the reality is something much, much different.”

Tripari said the other misconception about skydiving is how rough a ride it is.

“People will say, ‘I’m not going on that roller coaster ride,’” Tripari said. “It’s nothing like a roller coaster ride and it’s actually calm and pleasant, especially the view.”

As for what became of the old Accord, Tripari said he rigged it up with a crash-test dummy bolted to the hood and drove it around downtown Newport to generate a buzz about his business before selling it years ago.

And his new ride? A Ferrari that’s the same shade of light blue.

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