Thursday, August 07, 2014

Why pilots couldn’t stop a Marine Corps drone helicopter from crashing

It was a routine evening in Afghanistan when Marines and contractors with Lockheed Martin launched an unmanned K-Max drone helicopter from a major base in Helmand province to carry food rations to a smaller outpost. The aircraft had made hundreds of similar trips for the Marines since first being deployed in 2011, and it looked like this would be like any other. 

 Something went seriously wrong the evening of June 5, 2013, though. As the helicopter closed in on its destination, the Marine lieutenant commanding the mission and Lockheed contractors operating the aircraft remotely expected 15 mph headwinds. Instead, it got a tailwind, shaking up the drone.

The pilots employed a technique known as the “weathervane” effect in an attempt to gain control, allowing the pilots to turn the aircraft into the wind and gain control. But it didn’t work. The oscillation of the 2,000-pound load swinging beneath the helicopter in a cargo net grew increasingly worse, bringing the 52-foot-long helicopter, valued at $11.1 million, down in a heap on the landing zone. No one was injured, but the laptop computer collecting information about the flight was ejected out the left cockpit window, and the tail burst into flames.

The crash report, released to The Washington Post through the Freedom of Information Act, illustrates the dangers that can occur when a drone operator does not realize the peril their aircraft is in.

Military investigators found that the mishap was preventable and occurred because the pilots did not intervene quickly enough when the helicopter experienced unexpected wind, according to documents released by the Marine Corps. Accident investigators also determined that U.S. personnel on the ground near the landing zone should have provided an updated weather report, and also sent a warning back to the pilots at Camp Bastion to let them know it was out of control.

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Aerospace academy ready to launch in Hernando County

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School District is looking to the sky to help prepare students for the future.

Beginning this fall, the district will launch the first course in what it hopes will become a robust aerospace academy for high school students interested careers in aviation. The goal is to give students a foundation for those types of jobs, bolstering the local workforce and attracting new industry to the county.

"We are very, very, very excited about this," said Hernando superintendent Lori Romano.

The program is starting small.

In its first year, the district hopes to attract 25 freshmen and sophomores to participate in Aerospace Technologies I, a yearlong overview course. The class will be taught at Nature Coast Technical High School.

"We felt as though this would be a great foundation," said Sophia Watson, the district's supervisor of adult and community education.

Current freshman and sophomores who want to enroll in the program must apply no later than Wednesday. The district will select the students through a lottery if more than 25 apply.

So far, 65 students have indicated interest in the program and will receive letters about the application process.

The School Board has given tentative approval to a partnership between the district and Corporate Jet Solutions, which is supporting the program. The board is expected to give final approval at its meeting Tuesday.

The idea for the program stems from the community.

Bradley Dye, vice president of Corporate Jet Solutions and one of the driving forces behind the program, says the aviation industry expects a big decline in the number of pilots, mechanics and other aviation workers over the next decade. The industry, he notes, has done a poor job of preparing for the shortfall. He thinks the Hernando schools can train students to help fill the void.

"I think this is a winner," Dye said. "The statistics back it up."

The aerospace technology track will have four one-credit courses — Aerospace Technologies I through III and Advanced Technology Applications, which will be optional. Students are eligible to obtain Federal Aviation Administration ground school certification after completing the third course.

Students will not be flying on the district's time. To earn a private pilot's license, students would have to complete an additional 40 hours of instruction with a certified flight instructor.

How to apply

Hernando County high school freshmen or sophomores interested in the new aerospace academy must submit an application by Wednesday to Marcia Austin, the district's supervisor of secondary programs, to be entered in the lottery for 25 positions. Austin can be reached at (352) 797-7051 or Students who do not attend Nature Coast will have to transfer to the school to be part of the program.

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First day back, and learning aviation

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Class is back in session for Mobile County students and one school opened a brand new building designed to help train students for a career in an industry that’s rapidly growing here in our area.

You might expect to see a disassembled plane at B.C. Rain High School’s new aerospace training facility, but you’ll hear a lot of different noises, too. This is the third year for the academy, but the first in its new 15,000 square foot building. From here, students either go to college, like Hunter Preston plans to do…

Preston said, “I’d like to become an aerospace engineer. I always like planes, and I just love designing and building, whichever one does me better.”

Or they’ll go into the workforce.

Aerospace Engineering Instructor Don Jones said, “They’re going to go over to ST Aerospace, or they’re going to go to Ozark Enterprise and take their two year associates program and go work on airplanes, do the maintenance, or go to Airbus and build airplanes.”

All students will get hands on experience, but also engage in scientific reasoning.

Jones said, “My job is to teach them why airplanes fly.”

The academy has a flight simulator, and another machine you might describe as a mini-wind tunnel to demonstrate how different wing designs respond to lift or drag. But, there’s a lot of basic math, too. Junior Darius McCray wants to be an aviation engineer and is taking a variety of courses.

McCray said, “I have health, Algebra Two, Trig, Aviation, and, then, Spanish.”

And, with hard work, the instructors believe the students are in getting into a career where the sky’s the limit.

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Exeter, California: Pilot Restores WWII Vintage Plane Burned In A Fire Decades Ago

EXETER, Calif. (KMPH) - A World War II era plane is back in one piece and flying again. The plane is a 1941 Stinson 10A. It's owner Hans Steiner of Exeter bought the plane in bad condition in 2002. It had been sitting in a barn for 30 years after catching on fire. "At the time I needed an airplane to fly so it seemed like an economical way to do it. With my son and me I thought it would take about three years to do and it only took 12. We didn't miss by too much there I guess."

On July 10th the plane took flight for the first time in years. The Stinson was used by the Civil Air Patrol during World War II. "They actually hung a bomb beneath it and the Civil Air Patrol would fly it as a patrol looking for German U boats out of the coast of Florida and Gulf of Mexico."

Last week Steiner decided to fly his plane to Wisconsin for the Experimental Aircraft Awards Association show. He never expected to come home with a trophy. The plane isn't built for speed. It tops out at 110 mph. It took Steiner 45 hours in the air to make the roundtrip. But it was also a chance to get to know his Stinson and what she meant to the U-S military back in the 40's.

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 KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

Jim Brown plans new services at Willoughby Lost Nation Municipal Airport (KLNN) as Lake County accepts ownership transfer

Lake County commissioners on Aug. 7 approved the transfer of ownership of Lost Nation Airport from Willoughby to Lake County and the county’s port authority. 

The action comes after the Lake County Ohio Port and Economic Development Authority Board of Directors and Willoughby Council approved the transfer on Aug. 5.

The only remaining step for the transaction to be completed is Federal Aviation Administration approval, which is expected to occur within the next 30 days.

Jim Brown, owner of Classic Auto Group and Classic Jet Center that serves as the airport’s fixed based operator, credited commissioners, Willoughby Mayor David Anderson and the Authority for working together on the airport transfer proposal because it really centers around jobs.

Brown said business owners can now go ahead and invest in the airport and related businesses because there will be no more uncertainty on whether the airport will remain open.

“I think what you’ve done today is created probably the biggest economic opportunity for this county that has ever existed,” Brown told commissioners.

He said new services and amenities can be added to the airport and there are people looking to invest.

“We’ve already got plans for 30 hangars that we’re going to put up at the airport the minute the FAA approves it, Brown said. “The airport needs a restaurant and I’ve already talked to some restaurant people about it.”

Brown plans to put money upfront to purchase an automated weather observing system that would help improve safety at the airport by providing information such as visibility and temperature.

“That’s even before we improve the runways, taxiways etc.,” he said.

Commissioner Daniel P. Troy said the decision to transfer airport ownership was made after a “tremendous amount of due diligence and study”.

“I think this now, if approved by (FAA) sends a signal of some certainty that this particular part of the county’s infrastructure will continue to exist under new management,” Troy said. “The bottom line is planning ahead and making sure Lake County remains economically viable and encourages investment and reinvestment in the county.”

Commissioner Robert E. Aufuldish disputed rumors that the airport has recently lost money while under the city’s ownership.

“We have seen all of their finances from that airport and they have not lost money, ladies and gentlemen,” Aufuldish said. “It is our big feeling... Everybody is in lock step that this is going to be a great economic development tool for Lake County. We thank the mayor for his patience in the eight-year process and thank the Port for their due diligence in getting us to this day.”

Commissioner Judy Moran said there is a great deal of research and development underway at the airport.

“It’s only going to be looking up for the county as far as that goes,” Moran said. “It will be a great economic driver and there will be businesses that come in because of the airport being there.”

The city in 2006 asked commissioners to take over the airport’s assets. Commissioners created the Authority in 2007 to be the county’s economic development branch and shortly after the agency formed it began the task to investigate a potential airport ownership transfer and to see whether it made the most sense to keep the facility open.

The Authority conducted a lengthy two-phase study that included public hearings to examine the best use of the airport facility before it was determined to keep the airport open.

Willoughby Mayor David Anderson credited commissioners for creating the Authority and then directing the county’s share of state casino dollars to the agency to help promote economic development throughout the entire county. He said those two decisions directly culminated in the decision to transfer the airport to the county.

“I congratulate the three of you and past commission members also for some of those decisions for which I think you’ve shown great leadership,” he said.

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High School Band Targeted by Crop Duster

Around 300 Pearland High School students were sent home from band practice Thursday morning after they were sprayed by a crop duster.

The plane was spraying for mosquitoes following the recent surge in West Nile cases in the Houston area. 

The students were practicing outside near the school's football stadium when the plane sprayed them with mosquito repellent.

The students suffered minor skin irritation and respiratory problems.

Pearland EMS ordered the students to shower and wash their clothes immediately. 

They also warned that headaches and skin rashes may develop.


Light plane businesses cause controversy on Dunedin Causeway

It seems simple enough: Two men want to run flight instruction businesses from a small county-owned beach off the Dunedin Causeway. 

But some officials think that area, already crowded with boats, Jet Skis and the like, isn't the place for a business offering lessons on amphibious, light sport planes. 

 The result is a tangle of questions ranging from which government entity has the right to enforce its laws to which laws apply, where they apply — even when a business is a "business" under the law.

The dispute has been going on for months. One of the instructors, Dave Myers, owner of Amphibian Air, was finally ticketed last month while flying recreationally. Now it's up to a judge to decide.

Myers and Charlie Floyd, owner of Duckwing Triking, have been asking for a citation since they began doing business in north Pinellas in December.

"One department says we're okay, and another says we're breaking an ordinance,'' Myers said. "We needed a judge to look at the facts and make a ruling one way or the other."

The sliver of land in question, on the northeast end of the causeway, is owned by the county and maintained, in an agreement with the county, by Dunedin.

City law bans business on the causeway, except those businesses with a business license. The only business to hold a license with Dunedin is Sail Honeymoon, a kayak and sailboat rental company, located on one of two parcels of city-owned land on the causeway.

In March, Sail Honeymoon owner Glenn Steinke complained about the powered hang glider pilots conducting business without a license, according to a sheriff's office report.

"They want to be able to come and go as they please, but they don't want a contract," Steinke said in an interview. "Well, that's no way to run a business."

While navigable waters are public according to the state Constitution, the pilots still need a place to set up and launch. Myers and Floyd believe that because they operate mostly on the water and in the air and are not staking out on the beach, they do not need a business license, comparing themselves to charter fishermen.

The two went to the Dunedin City Commission in April. County officials had written to the city saying the planes were a safety and liability concern and stating their opinion that private enterprise was not allowed on a public right-of-way. The county has not passed any legislation to support that opinion.

But Vince Gizzi, the city's parks and recreation director, told commissioners that the issue was in the hands of the county because it owns the land.

Yet, commissioners still voted in June to ban the aircraft owners from doing business on the causeway. Recreational flying should still be allowed, they said.

Both men are licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration as sport pilots and flight instructors. Their business offers introductory lessons, which range in length and price.

Though most people take one-hour lessons costing $225 for fun, others come to train to become pilots themselves, sometimes coming from out of state and even as far as Scotland. Myers and Floyd say they flew between 20 to 40 customers a month.

Myers was ticketed for violating a county ordinance that says aircraft cannot "take off from or land in or on any county-owned or managed land or waterway." This section, however, refers to properties managed by the Department of Parks and Conservation Resources. The beach off the causeway is not listed as one of those properties.

The ambiguity of jurisdiction in this area has been a problem for at least a decade, said Diana Carsey, one of the heads of the Waterfront Task Force, a group of Dunedin residents formed last year.

"What you have come across is a new reason for this to be resolved," Carsey said.

As far as whether this is up to the city or county, County Commissioner Susan Latvala said "nobody can seem to agree on that." Latvala said she didn't see a problem with the amphibious planes but said the governments need to come to a collective decision.

A Pinellas County judge will hear the case on Thursday.

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Potomac Highlands Airport Authority wouldn't be in jeopardy of losing Federal Aviation Administratoin funding if autocross was held: Greater Cumberland Regional Airport (KCBE)

WILEY FORD, W.Va. — The Potomac Highlands Airport Authority is not in jeopardy of losing federal airport development funding if the authority requests to hold a non-aeronautical event at the airport that is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to letter to Delegate Gary Howell from Eduardo A. Angeles,  U.S. Department of Transportation FAA associate administrator for airports.

“The FAA retains the sole discretion in whether or not to permit non-aeronautical events on airport property. Airport sponsors who request FAA’s permission to use aeronautical property for a non-aeronautical event would not be in jeopardy of FAA withholding future airport funding for simply seeking permission to do so,” writes Angeles.

In June, the authority voted to allow the National Road Autosport, LLC to use property outside the operational grounds to hold an autocross. Members of the NRA have said that there isn’t a place to hold the autocross races outside of the fence. The decision to allow the autocross to occur outside of the fence was made in order to protect the facilities obtained through FAA funding, Leon Hinkle, authority member indicated during a previous meeting. In September 2013, the authority was awarded a $2.3 million FAA grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for runway rehabilitation. During an authority meeting in June, Terry Page, manager of the FAA in Dulles, Va., told the authority that funding could be affected by holding the autocross.

“While a letter from the FAA to U.S. Senator (Ben) Cardin clearly showing the regional FAA office was instructed to work with the PHAA in preparing a proper plan for a non-aeronautical event to be held at the Cumberland Regional Airport with FAA permission, the false rumor that the PHAA would withhold funding for asking or proceeding with permission persisted,” writes Howell in a letter to Authority Chairman Gregg Wolff.

Howell indicated that he contacted FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta to request clarification on the matter and was told in both instances that the funding would not be jeopardized by holding a non-aeronautical event.

“The Cumberland Regional Airport should be a point of pride and economic opportunity for our two counties,” writes Howell in an email to the Allegany and Mineral County Commissioners and District 1 Legislators. “I am at a loss to understand why the PHAA is not making its best efforts towards that goal.”

The authority decided not to forward a detailed request on behalf of the NRA to the FAA to hold the autocross on airport grounds. A request to use airport property for a non-aeronautical event is initiated through the submission of a detailed proposal developed by the airport sponsor. According to FAA policy, an airport sponsor must request and receive permission from the FAA before using federally obligated airport property for a non-aeronautical event, according to Angeles. If the authority were to allow a non-aeronautical event they would be subject to compliance with any terms, conditions or requirements imposed by the FAA as a condition of the approval. If the authority failed to meet the FAA requirements then their access to the future federal project funding under the Airport Improvement Program would be in jeopardy, according to Angeles.

“In all cases, the FAA’s consideration about non-aeronautical events on airport property is to advance the safety, efficiency and utility of the airport of its intended aeronautical purpose and to protect the taxpayer’s investment in airport infrastructure,” writes Angeles. 

The FAA 7460-1 form sent to the FAA requesting to hold a non-aeronautical needs to provide details of the event; addresses eight questions with regards to airspace and grant assurances and identify two-way contact information, according to an FAA document.

In November 2013, the authority sent the NRA a letter stating that they were informed by the FAA that non-aviation activities on the runways and taxiways violate funding criteria of the Airport Improvement Plan.

Ryan Shaffer, airport manager just received the letters and is reviewing them before commenting.

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Drones banned at Lake of the Ozarks Shootout


Just The Facts  
  • No aerial drones allowed at Shootout 
  • Drones have no radio communication with FAA, posing a risk to other aircraft at event
  • FAA Air Boss reserves right to approve individuals for drone use

More Information
The Lake of the Ozarks Shootout powerboat races are scheduled Saturday, Aug. 23 and Sunday, Aug. 24 at Captain Ron’s Bar and Grill in Sunrise Beach. At the Shootout the world’s top powerboat racers compete to be top gun, as tens of thousands of powerboat race fans cheer them on.

LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. — To the likely disappointment of some photographers and hobbyists, aerial drones will be banned from the 2014 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout.

That’s according to Camden County 911 Director Sgt. David W. Edwards.

“The airspace over the Shootout has been reserved by the Federal Aviation Administration for the rescue helicopters,” Edwards said.

Edwards will be at the hub of race safety in the Camden County Emergency Services Unit (ESU), at the Shootout race course finish line. The ESU is a self-contained communication center on wheels. From inside, Edwards will coordinate an extensive information-sharing network between all levels of emergency agencies and race officials for safety and emergency purposes.

Stationed on the top deck of a dock near the race course will be FAA Air Boss Gordon Evans. Evans coordinates all the aircraft above the race course. He directs the helicopters for the dive team, racers, media, official photographers, and STAFF for Life emergency helicopter. He also coordinates the Shootout airplane flyovers, when scheduled.

“The FAA will be in charge of the airspace over the Shootout,” Edwards reiterated.

The problem posed by drones is they do not have radio contact with the FAA. “We don’t want a drone hitting a helicopter and crashing it into spectators,” Edwards explained. “That would be like taking a drone to an air show. If Gordon gives them permission, he has the authority to do that. But, I guarantee it will be under his conditions.”

According to Edwards, this has been the rule as long as he has been participating in Shootout emergency services at the Sunrise Beach race course. 

Unmanned Aircraft Systems

According to FAA regulations, if a person wants to fly more than a hobbyist drone in the United States, he or she must obtain permission, or a license, from the FAA.

According to a list created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF, 81 entities have obtained permission to have a drone of that scale, including colleges and universities, local sheriff's offices, police departments, drone manufacturers, and one Indian tribal agency.

 EFF reports also that Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada has a a MQ-1 Predator drone, and the University of Colorado, Boulder, has a NexSTAR miniature UAS drone that it uses for weather and wireless experiments. According to Popular Science, the U.S. Army has permission to fly drones in the "general location" of the Pentagon, though the type and number of drones is not made public.  

The EFF is a nonprofit organization which defends civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development.

According to a Feb. 24, 2013 article in the National Journal, the EFF sued last year for a list of drone applicants within the U.S. When that information went public, staff attorney Jennifer Lynch says, “it really got people up in arms about how drones are being used, and it got people to question their city councils and local law-enforcement agencies to ask for appropriate policies to be put in place to regulate drone usage.”

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Greater Cumberland Regional Airport (KCBE) recognized by Federal Aviation Administration as being in West Virginia

WILEY FORD, W.Va. — The Greater Cumberland Regional Airport is recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration as a West Virginia airport despite the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority’s claims that the airport is listed in Cumberland.

“The Greater Cumberland Regional Airport is (and always has been) a West Virginia airport, not a Maryland airport,” writes Susan V. Chernenko, director of the Aeronautics Commission in a response to Delegate Gary Howell’s question about how the airport is categorized by the FAA.

Since the inception of the authority, members have been debating whether they should follow West Virginia or Maryland law and in June they voted to follow Maryland law as recommended by former airport attorney Jeff Getty. In July, the authority voted 6 to 1 to add the Maryland Open Meeting Act into their bylaws. William Smith, authority member, who made the motion to place the open meetings act into the bylaws, clarified that he made that motion because the Federal Aviation Administration National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems lists the airport as being in Cumberland and because in 1944 Maryland bought the land that funded the construction of the airport.

“Nationally, the FAA assigns an associated city, to every airport, based on population metric. Cumberland is the associated city for the Greater Cumberland Regional Airport, based on the FAA metric,” writes Chernenko. “The FAA recognizes the Greater Cumberland Regional Airport in Wiley Ford, West Virginia, as a West Virginia airport.”

Authority member Dr. Richard Lechliter voted against placing the open meetings act into bylaws because an opinion on whether the authority should follow West Virginia or Maryland law is forthcoming from the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office.

Howell has requested that the authority follow the West Virginia Open Meetings Act. There are substantial differences between the Maryland and West Virginia open meetings acts and a difference in the Freedom of Information Act between the two states, Ramon Rozas III, airport attorney has previously indicated.

“...the PHAA should be doing a better job of eliminating misleading information from it’s decision making process,” writes Howell in an email to the Allegany and Mineral County Commissioners and District 1 Legislators. “One thing that would help in that regard is holding the meetings in accordance with the West Virginia Open Meetings Act, not only because it’s the law but because it it always in the best interest of the public to hold the meetings in the most open format possible.”

During an authority meeting in July, the authority voted to meet in executive session to allow Rozas to discuss the open meetings act. Per Maryland law, a public body can enter into executive session to consult with counsel to obtain legal advice on a legal matter, said Smith.

In 1976, the legislatures of Maryland and West Virginia ratified the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority Compact, authorizing the creation of the authority, according to the Maryland government website. The compact was ratified by Congress in 1998. The authority is comprised of members from both states.

Ryan Shaffer, airport manager just received the letters and is reviewing them before commenting.

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Gulfstream Appleton adds mid-cabin hangar to Greenville site: Outagamie County Regional Airport (KATW), Wisconsin

GREENVILLE – Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. opened a new hangar Thursday specifically for mid-cabin aircraft maintenance at its service center and completions facility in Greenville.

“This expansion allows Gulfstream Appleton to support more mid-cabin customers, get their aircraft in and out of maintenance faster and provide them with a comfortable place to work,” Mark Burns, president of Gulfstream Product Support, said in a statement.

The company is leasing the 25,500-square-foot building at Outagamie County Regional Airport from Outagamie County. The facility, located between the existing Gulfstream Appleton north and main site buildings, includes new hangar doors, which enable it to accommodate all Gulfstream mid-cabin models; remodeled customer and employee offices; and a glass-enclosed conference room.

Burns said the new hangar allows Gulfstream to house up to five aircraft under one roof.

“That is particularly important in the winter months, when the temperatures in Appleton are consistently in the teens and 20s, and snow and ice are obstacles.

Gulfstream Appleton is a certified U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency Part 145 repair station, which means the site’s 900-plus employees can work on aircraft registered in the U.S. and European Union countries. In 2013, technicians at the Greenville location serviced more than 500 aircraft.

Gulfstream Appleton also is home to a large-cabin completions center. The site has about 300,000 square feet of hangar, shop and support space.

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Merchant Warehouse’s CEO has a hobby – he collects planes

Henry Helgeson’s company, Merchant Warehouse, is doing well, announcing a new partnership with PayPal on Monday. A company that has been in the payments space for a while, 16 years to be exact, Merchant Warehouse is taking off now due to its early bet on new point-of-sales technology.

The company’s chief executive, Helgeson is taking off as well, almost daily through his hobby of collecting airplanes. He’s purchased five planes in total, although he now owns only three. In addition to his private plane collection, he also owns a flight charter company.

When I met him at Hanscom Field in Bedford, he had just arrived from Nantucket, where he owns a house. Helgeson travels to and from Nantucket a few times a week, basically, commuting from the hard to reach island. In fact, Helgeson said that on a good day, it takes about 35 minutes to get to Nantucket from Hanscom, way slower than it was when the used to take his fighter jet.

Oh yeah, Helgeson owns a fighter jet.

A Passion for Aviation
“I’ve been flying since I was in college,” Helgeson said on the tarmac at the civilian airfield next to Hanscom Air Force Base.

“I cut my parents a deal, a deal they never thought I’d hit,” he explained. “If I made deans list, they’d let me get my pilots’ license. So I did, and then I never made it again. Just one semester. They didn’t think through the negotiation of that deal.”

Helgeson said he started flying pretty regularly after that, but took a break once he started up Merchant Warehouse after college. “It’s kind of an expensive hobby for a twenty-something, so I had to put it down for seven years or so.

He came back to flying and bought his first plane after the company “got on its feet.” After a while, he upgraded to the Beechcraft Beech Baron twin-engine which he flies now.

His next move would open him up to a world of aviation that would lead to more plane purchases. A friend who was in the payments business asked Helgeson if he wanted to invest in a charter operation for sale in Pennsylvania. “We bought that and got introduced to the wrong crowd, all these fighter pilots and ex-military guys,” he said, “and I started getting into more interesting stuff after that.”

He ended up buying a Cessna Citation 5, a jet that could fit many more people than the smaller Beech Baron (which he ended up getting rid of). And then, through the connections developed through the charter company, Helgeson bought a Russian fighter jet and a stunt plane.

“I still have the Russian fighter jet up in Lawrence,” Helgeson said. He actually used to fly it, an L-39, to Nantucket in about 12-15 minutes. However, after not flying it in the winter one year, he and his wife had what he called, “a bad incident that was a little sketchy,” and barely made it back to the ground.

A Great Way to See the Country

Helgeson said that while most of the pilots he knew were flying their planes to DC and Chicago, he would fly it back and forth to Vegas all the time, and the Caribbean once or twice. “This plane went everywhere,” he said. This summer alone, he has flown to Virginia, Chicago, Nantucket, New York, and Philadelphia.

The long flights, Helgeson said, can be a little less fun. Trips across the country can sometimes take a couple of days. For a period when he first started dating his wife, he would fly down to Atlanta to see her on the weekends. However, as he explained, “Then I realized, companies like Delta have WiFi, cocktails, etc.”

However, the opportunity to spend some quiet time in flight beats all other options for Helgeson. “I think I’ve just enjoyed some alone time while flying,” he said. “It’s also a fun way to see the country. You aren’t up at airline altitude, you get to see the whole country at 5000 feet.”

“You can take off in Boston in the morning, and be in the desert by the afternoon,” Helgeson added.

Payments Flying to the Cloud

As for Merchant Warehouse, as the partnership with PayPal signifies, the company is leveraging its ahead of the curve point-of-sales technologies to maintain an industry leader in the space.

“Payments are taking off in Boston right now,” Helgeson explained, “It’s amazing, we’ve got all of this change happening…We have all of these companies, like LevelUp, Paydiant, PayPal, it’s like Silicon Valley in Boston.”

As for Merchant Warehouse’s place in the evolving payments space, Helgeson said that the company was fortunate to recognize that there would be a shift to different payment methods — like mobile payment systems, cloud software programs, etc. — earlier than most other players in the sector.

“We saw change coming in 2011,” the chief executive explained. “A lot of our competitors still aren’t there yet. They are either waiting to figure it out, trying to come up with a plan, or they just don’t have the resources yet.”

“It’s a nice spot to be in,” Helgeson added, “and it’s been really good for the business.”

If Merchant Warehouse continues to maintain its industry leading status, Helgeson may have some more resources to continue to grow his little air armada as well.

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Merchant Warehouse CEO Henry Hegelson

Nepal Airlines to train own flight instructor for it’s new fleet of Chinese aircraft

Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has decided to train its own instructor pilot to bring its newly gifted Y12e aircraft from China as the manufacturer has said it will not be able to provide an English-speaking trainer pilot.

The state-owned carrier said that a senior captain would be sent to the US to receive training next week. The delay will push back the delivery of the plane by a month. It was originally scheduled to arrive in Nepal on July 25.

“As the aircraft supplier AVIC International Holding Corporation has formally informed us that it would not be able to provide an instructor pilot with Level 4 English proficiency, we have decided to train our own pilots to be instructors,” said NAC’s Managing Director Madan Kharel.

According to him, the NAC pilot will receive a week’s training in the US before going to the aircraft factory at Harbin for another session of seven to eight days. “After completing the training, the NAC pilot will fly the aircraft to Nepal and will teach other pilots.” The flight instructors will give hands-on training to Nepali pilots who have already received full flight simulator training in China.

AVIC had told NAC that it was searching for English speaking pilots in other countries where the Y12 was in service but said later that no one could be found.

As per the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao), all pilots flying international routes must have a minimum level of English to communicate with air traffic controllers regularly. This level of English proficiency is known as ICAO Operational Level 4. The English language proficiency scale ranges from Levels 1 to 6.

NAC took delivery of the plane, part of a six-aircraft deal between Nepal and China, from AVIC in Harbin, China on July 8. The 17-seater twin-engine turboprop utility plane is a gift from China to Nepal.

NAC has six Chinese aircraft on order-two MA60 manufactured by Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation and four Y12e manufactured by Harbin Aircraft. Of these six aircraft, an MA60 and an Y12e are gifts. The first of the MA60 has been delivered and is operating on various routes.

At that time too, language problems had delayed the aircraft from going into service. The trainer pilots sent by the plane manufacturer could not speak English, and another team had to be sent. The Y-12e is powered by PT6A-135A engines. It received Type Certification from the Civil Aviation Administration of China in 2002.

The aircraft made its first flight in August 2001. This version was certified by the US Federal Aviation Administration on Aug 2, 2006. Experts said that the Y12e would be a fitting alternative to the Twin Otter, a Canadian-built aircraft which has been the mainstay on domestic routes for the past four decades.

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Navy officer fined for landing own plane at Norfolk base


A high-ranking Navy Reserve officer was cleared of two federal misdemeanor charges but found guilty of a third after making a last-minute decision to land his private plane at Norfolk Naval Station amid bad weather.

Capt. Daniel C. Cross, 52, was flying his single-engine plane May 16 from Georgia to Norfolk. He planned to land at Norfolk International Airport – he’d filed a flight plan saying as much and had arranged to store his plane there – but changed course at the last minute because of a severe rain storm that flooded parts of Hampton Roads that day.

Prosecutor Nicholas Linstroth argued that Cross decided to divert to Norfolk Naval Station’s airfield despite having other options and no permission to land there. Linstroth called it “a decision that didn’t need to be made” that was based on “personal convenience.” Cross didn’t want to miss a presentation that he was scheduled to give on the base, Linstroth said, so he led air traffic controllers to believe that he was authorized to land there, inappropriately mentioning his high rank for good measure.

But defense attorney Patrick O’Donnell painted a different picture, saying there was a misunderstanding. Cross was frantic after an air traffic controller at Norfolk International suggested it wasn’t safe to land there because of the weather, O’Donnell argued. Cross didn’t purposely mislead controllers at the base, O’Donnell said, and he only made the landing after he was told he could.

The Navy air traffic controller who handled Cross’s plane, Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory Sawyer, testified for the prosecution. He said he only told Cross he was “cleared” to land because Cross indicated over the radio that he had the required authorization. Sawyer said Cross’s plane wasn’t on the tower’s list of authorized aircraft, but he “thought it was a mistake on our end,” especially after Cross mentioned his rank.

Sawyer testified that when he told Cross he was cleared to land, he meant only that the runway he was approaching was unobstructed. Obtaining authorization to land – something that can only be granted by a base’s commanding officer – is another matter; it is a multistep process that involves filing paperwork well in advance, including proof of insurance, a hold-harmless agreement and a flight plan.

Even with the right documents, witnesses testified, pilots flying private planes often aren't granted permission to use a military airfield as their back-up landing place.

Cross, who testified during his day-long trial Wednesday, acknowledged that he failed to include an alternate airport in his flight plan in case there was bad weather at Norfolk International.

Witnesses testified that Cross gave the base’s tower little notice that he was planning to land there, and they could not quickly verify whether he had authorization. Sawyer said he worried that turning Cross away when he was so close could have put him in danger.

Security personnel met Cross’s plane on the ground. That’s when base officials confirmed that Cross didn’t have authorization, Linstroth said. Linstroth said the only permission Cross had – the permission that Cross apparently was referring to when he spoke to the tower – was granted by the Air Force to land at an installation in New Jersey. Cross was handcuffed and detained for several hours before he was allowed to take off from the base.

Cross, who lives in Washington, D.C., was in Georgia because he was working there on temporary active duty for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. He was coming here to give a presentation at Norfolk Naval Station in his Navy Reserve capacity as the mid-Atlantic regional commander for the Information Dominance Corps. He was commissioned into the Reserves in 1986.

Cross acknowledged that part of the reason he chose to land at the base rather than divert to a civilian airport was because he was hoping not to miss the presentation. He testified that because he was on Navy business and had been “vetted” by the Air Force to use another military airfield, he thought it would be OK to land at Norfolk Naval Station given the weather.

“My motivation was based on safety,” he said after the verdict.

Cross was cleared of trespassing and entering U.S. property under false pretenses. He was found guilty of violating defense property security regulations. His punishment is a $1,500 fine.

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Rescue off Atlantic City: Coast Guard airlifts injured crewman from fishing boat

ATLANTIC CITY — The Coast Guard medevaced a 53-year-old man Wednesday from a fishing boat approximately 73 miles southeast of Atlantic City.

The Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay in Philadelphia received a call from the captain of the 40-foot fishing boat Reel Trouble at about 9:15 a.m. reporting that his first mate had suffered an injury to his hand.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City launched, and an already-airborne HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C. was diverted to the scene. The helicopter crew arrived on scene at about 10:40 a.m. and lowered a rescue swimmer and rescue basket to the boat.

The man was hoisted to the helicopter in the rescue basket and flown to Air Station Atlantic City where he was placed in the care of awaiting local EMS.

Story, Comments and Video:

Mission Canyon Heights, California: Beechcraft 58 Baron

"Twin Engine Piper Buzzing Mission Canyon Heights" 

updated: Aug 06, 2014, 1:15 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

On Tuesday, August 5th at approximately 7:30pm a twin engine Piper airplane # N158SW dangerously flew over the neighborhood homes at well under 500 feet. 

Pilot flew over Mission Canyon Three times and risked the safety and well being of many people in the Mission Canyon Heights neighborhood. 

Anyone else observe this event or get photographs of the plane/pilot? 

Seems this is not the first event for planes buzzing over mission heights by small aircraft....

Story, Comments and Photo Gallery:

Beechcraft Baron 58, N158SW, BARON TRANSPORT LLC:

Are planes crashing more frequently?

Opinion | Columnists

While 2014 is already a bad year — with over 500 deaths recorded so far — the period from April to June 2013 saw zero fatal accidents involving commercial flights

By Nidhal Guessoum
Published: 20:00 August 6, 2014
Gulf News

A couple of weeks ago, three aircraft accidents occurred within eight days, resulting in the loss of 462 lives. Was this just a one-off tragic coincidence? Was there something more to it? How often can such a cluster of accidents be expected to occur, based on data and statistics? And most importantly, should we do anything about this?

In no time, Twitter, Facebook, and internet forums exploded with fears and concerns. Many people asked whether they should cancel their next flight “until things become clearer”. Others asked which airlines are safest and which are more likely to have accidents.

The poor Malaysian Airlines could not have had a worse year, after the disappearance of Flight MH 370 last March and the shooting down of Flight MH 17 over Ukraine on July 17. But we must stress that plane accidents vary widely in terms of causes and characteristics; indeed, MH 17 was shot down by a missile over a war zone, MH 370 disappeared for yet-unknown reasons, and the other two July accidents (the Taiwan Transasia Airways and the Air Algerie ones) were due to weather conditions.

But many people react irrationally to such accidents. For instance, during the weeks following 9/11, tens of thousands of people chose driving over flying, which resulted in 1,000 more deaths than usual, as car accidents produce many more fatalities than plane crashes...

But partly because people are not educated in these probabilities and partly because of the psychological differences between driving and taking a flight, there has developed a fear of flying, an anxiety disorder called “aviophobia”, which affects 1 in 10 people. (I was surprised by this figure, but I have no way of estimating it independently.) This phobia appears to be due to some childhood experience (a bad flight, a close relative’s retelling of a tense flight, a visually impressive TV report, a scary movie, etc.), developing into an anxiety in early adulthood.

Psychologists have related the fear of flying to stress management difficulties, as well as personality and behavioral issues. The question of “control” is most often mentioned; indeed, when driving, one feels “in control”, which leads one to underestimate the risks, whereas on a plane, being strapped to a seat, having no control on the machine, and seeing very little if anything of the route and the moves being made (by the pilot), one tends to unconsciously overestimate the dangers. One of the most famous fear-of-flying cases is the Dutch football player Dennis Bergkamp, who was humorously nicknamed “the Non-Flying Dutchman”, taking trains between cities to take part in his team’s games, sometimes missing important ones when the distances were too large to thus cover in a short time.

But what are the probabilities of plane crashes and particularly of clusters of plane accidents?

Aircraft technologies and stricter airline regulations (regular technical checkups, etc.) have led to great improvements in flight safety records. There were 35 accidents in 1968-69; 34 in 1972-73, but an average of 9 per year between 2004 and 2013, out of roughly 30 million flights a year nowadays. Some years and months are better than others, however: in 1985, there were 27 crashes, which resulted in over 2,500 deaths, a staggering figure. In 1966, there were two crashes within 24 hours at Tokyo’s Haneda airport. Such is the nature of random, unpredictable events: while they do spread out evenly over long times and large spaces, several events can and do occur in groups here or there over some short periods.

But to reassure everyone, I should mention that 2013 was actually the safest ever: 210 deaths out of 3 billion passengers, a very low ratio (though every loss of life is a tragedy). And while 2014 is already a bad year (with over 500 deaths recorded so far), the period from April to June 2013 saw zero fatal accidents involving commercial flights. Then, suddenly, three in a row!

So how rare is the occurrence of 3 plane accidents within 8 days? David Spiegelhalter, Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University, has estimated the odds of getting at least 3 crashes over 8 days at about 1 in 1000, or equivalently a probability of 60 percent over ten years. Not so rare after all!

Still, readers may ask, can anything be done at all to minimize the risks? 

At the airline level, frequent and stringent controls and check-ups are a must, and indeed a recent analysis by Nate Silver has shown some airlines to have a better safety records (all things considered) than others. At the passenger level, one must first relax with the knowledge that flights are extremely safe (compared to many other things in life), but if one insists on taking precautions, then seats at the back of the plane and closer to exist doors are safer, and tightly attached seat belts and paying good attention to safety directives do help improve one’s chances of survival in crashes. Most importantly, however, keeping positive and acting and reacting calmly are very important in all cases.

Learning about plane operations and regulations as well as statistics and probabilities help us all make the right decisions before and after accidents. Irrationality can only be remedied by more education.

Nidhal Guessoum is a professor of physics and astronomy at the American University of Sharjah.

Article and Comments:

Pilots Official Criticizes U.S. Over Intelligence Before MH17 Disaster

The Wall Street Journal
By Andy Pasztor
Aug. 7, 2014 8:25 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON—U.S. pilot union leaders have alleged that before the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, federal agencies didn't promptly assess or publicize the potential threats antiaircraft missiles posed to airliners flying over eastern Ukraine.

Lee Moak, president of the largest North American pilot union, on Wednesday leveled his strongest criticism against American intelligence officials and aviation regulators over the issue.

In a speech and separate interview, the Air Line Pilots Association chief asserted that U.S. and other government didn't properly fulfill their "duty to warn" airlines about the possible hazards of flying over areas where fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists raged on the ground.

Malaysia 17 was "a watershed event"  and was "uniquely different" from other airliners brought down by hostile fire in earlier decades, Mr. Moak said in the interview. As a result of what occurred over Ukraine last month, he said "the federal government has to come up with a dynamic process" to alert airlines about such future threats.

"When there is intelligence that is available" about flying over hostile airspace, he added, "there has to be a timely process to notify" the industry, and then carriers have to more effectively share information between themselves.

In response to the presumed shootdown, according to Mr. Moak, labor and airlines representatives have joined forces to prod the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. intelligence community to streamline and accelerate the threat-assessment system.

Industry and labor officials have said the FAA had intelligence about threats from Ukrainian rebels at least a day before Malaysia Flight 17 went down.

An FAA spokeswoman reiterated that before the Flight 17 incident, "there was no intelligence to indicate separatists intended to target civil aircraft" over Ukraine. Her written statement reiterated that "our first indication that they had an operable" SA-11 antiaircraft system came "the day of the crash."

The spokeswoman also reiterated that "agency officials work with counterparts in the U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement communities on a continuous basis to monitor and analyze intelligence," and the agency provides guidance or imposes restrictions when it "receives specific and credible actionable intelligence of a threat."

Questions about what the FAA knew before the downing—and steps it subsequently took to impose temporary restrictions on U.S. airlines flying into Israel—are expected to be highlighted Thursday at ALPA's biggest annual safety conference here. Claudio Manno, the FAA's assistant administrator for security and hazardous materials, is scheduled to make a presentation.

Ukraine barred commercial aircraft from flying below 32,000 feet over the region before the downing of Flight MH17 as combat continued on the ground and Ukrainian rebels previously shot down two military aircraft. The Ukrainian government did that without giving the U.S. or the Internal Civil Aviation Organization, an arm of the United Nations, a detailed explanation, according to U.S. and air-safety officials. Countries are responsible for controlling and monitoring  threats to their own airspace, and they traditionally haven't been obligated to provide such explanations to ICAO or other governments.

The FAA barred U.S. commercial flights over Ukraine after Flight 17 went down and the ban remains in effect.

The downing of the Malaysian Boeing 777, which further shocked the global aviation community when investigators were barred from the site for some two weeks, has prompted widespread debate about the broader role of both ICAO and the U.S. in analyzing airspace threats stemming from hostilities on the ground.

ICAO has set up a government-industry task force to study the matter and make recommendations in several months to its policy-making body.

If the U.S. and industry wait for ICAO to dramatically change its procedures, "we will end up waiting forever," Mr. Moak said in the interview.

But in the U.S., he said, government officials are "going through a process" to identify ways to improve and speed up the warning system. "I hope that they're going to announce something in the near future," Mr. Moak said without providing specifics. ALPA has been involved in some of those discussions

"ICAO does need to have a role," according to Mr. Moak, but "it would be better if the U.S. government is a leader here and they get out in front." Then he said "we don't have any confusion."

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Air Malta transitions to new European Regulations

 Air Malta is proud to be the first Maltese Operator out of more than 20 operators holding an Air Operators Certificate (AOC), to have successfully completed the transition to the new European Regulations. The national airline has subsequently been issued with a European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AOC in July 2014 from the Civil Aviation Directorate of Transport Malta.

The airline had to follow Commission Regulation (EU) No. 965 laying down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to air operations particularly those requirements for Commercial Air Transport.

The extensive process for applying and obtaining regulatory approval involved a gap analysis between the current and new legislation. In order to comply with the new Regulations and transition to an EASA AOC, Air Malta was required to perform a thorough review of all policies and procedures.

One of the main changes in the new legislation involves having a Safety Management System (SMS), which replaces the current Accident Prevention and Flight Safety Program. Air Malta introduced SMS over last winter, and in the process changed its safety processes and held appropriate SMS training for its entire workforce. SMS is a powerful tool in enhancing safety within an airline.

On presentation of the Air Operators Certificate (AOC), Louis Giordimaina, Air Malta’s Chief Executive Officer said: “Once again, our national airline has demonstrated to be the leader in the industry on our Islands and this is due to our experienced human resources in the area.” 

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Locals to protest if work on Pokhara International Airport halted

POKHARA, August 6: Locals in Pokhara have voiced grave concern over the recent cancellation of a contract that the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) had signed with a Chinese company three months ago for the construction of the Pokhara Regional International Airport (PRIA).

They warned the government of stringent protests if the construction of the regional international airport is not started at the earliest possible.

Back in May, CAAN had signed an agreement with China CAMC Engineering Co. Ltd. (CAMCE) for the construction of PRIA.

However, stating that the contract with the Chinese company was signed illegally, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) recently sought clarifications from CAAN over the issue.

Pokhara locals, who were overjoyed by the contract signing between CAAN and CAMCE, are in despair after MoF sought the clarifications.

According to Surya Bahadur Bhujel, chairman of Tourism Board Pokhara, the locals suspect that construction of the regional international airport might now be halted altogether.

The locals allege that MoF, in seeking clarifications from CAAN, is trying to halt the construction of the regional international airport in their city.

“We will agitate against the government if construction of the airport is halted even after the signing of the contract,” Bhujel said.

The contract between CAAN and CAMCE was signed on the Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) model, with the cost estimated at up to US$ 216 million. But according to MoF, the signing of the contract has violated the Public Procurement Act as it proposes a larger budget than the projected cost of US$ 145 million.

CAAN had earlier invited tenders for the airport construction under the BoQ (Bills of Quantities) model, with the estimated cost put at US$ 145 million.

The recent objection by MoF after the contract had already been signed has left the locals of Pokhara despondent, Tikaram Sapkota, an executive member of the Pokhara tourism board, said.

“The agreement for the construction of the international airport in Pokhara has already been signed, and it is time the Ministry of Finance moved to sign a loan agreement,” Sapkota said, “We are worried that MoF is not paving the way for obtaining the construction loan.”

“We´re demanding construction of the airport at any cost,” he added.

The Pokhara tourism board also feels that construction of the hub airport in Pokhara may be obstructed due to intrusion by the finance ministry. Officials of the board strongly urge the government to facilitate the construction.

MoF´s decision to halt the construction will leave a negative impression in the international community regarding foreign aid to this country, according to Krishna Mohan Shrestha, ex-chairperson of Pokhara Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Development activists and other stakeholders have been frustrated by MoF´s recent move.

They will be forced to agitate against the government if MoF´s decision halts the project, Shrestha added.

- Source:

Runway of the proposed regional international airport in Pokhara.
 (Republica File photo)

Audit Initiated of Federal Aviation Administration Oversight of Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Program

August 06, 2014
Audit Initiated of FAA's Oversight of Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Program
Project ID: 14A3009A000

PDF Document


The Office of Inspector General plans to initiate an audit on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) oversight of its Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) program. FAA is responsible for ensuring that commercial airport operators comply with ARFF requirements, including ensuring airports have effective plans, procedures, and training in place to respond to aircraft accidents, fires, and hazardous materials incidents. However, recent incidents have raised questions about the effectiveness of FAA’s oversight of these requirements. Accordingly, our audit objectives are to assess FAA’s (1) policies and guidance for implementing ARFF requirements and (2) oversight and enforcement of airports’ adherence to ARFF requirements.

-- Sources:

Bowie, Maryland: National Night Out event

On Tuesday, Bowie held its annual National Night Out Against Crime event, a crime prevention and awareness event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch.

Bowie has been participating in the program since the city’s police department formed in 2007, said police chief John Nesky.

The event took place at Allen Pond Park in Bowie.

- Source:

Greg Dohler/The Gazette
Brothers (from left) Matthew, 7; Micah, 9; and Mark Allen-Shorter, 6, all of Bowie, check out a Maryland State Police helicopter Tuesday during National Night Out at Allen Pond Park in Bowie.

Bell OH-58A, Kentucky State Police, N282SP: Police recover $200,000 in marijuana in Madison County, Kentucky

MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT)- Thanks to a team effort police say they found nearly $200,000 worth of marijuana in Madison County Wednesday.

The Madison County Sheriff's Office and state police worked together to find the marijuana.

Investigators say state police used their helicopter to find the plants in remote locations.

Deputies and troopers then went in with humvees to remove the marijuana.

Investigators say they found the plants in different places around Madison County.

The sheriff's office says arrests are pending.

- Source:

Hunterdon Old Ink: Plane to fight brush fires stationed at Solberg-Hunterdon Airport (N51), Readington, New Jersey


ATTACK BY AIR — The state Forest Service has transferred an airplane to Solberg Airport in Readington Township to prepare for a possible forest fire in drought-stricken Hunterdon County.

"Nobody has it any worse than you do in Hunterdon," said Mike Hennessey. He's an assistant division fire warden for the agency, which is part of the parks and forestry division of the state Department of Environmental Protection. The plane and its pilot, Merv Lewis, are on call from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily.

The prop plane "holds 250 gallons of water," according to Mr. Hennessey, and is suitable for any forest or brush fire.

"It is not effective on structures, but any kind of wild property, woods or brush, we will send it. We fight fires on state or private land." He said the aircraft is summoned to a scene by rangers who spot fires from fire towers or by dispatchers in the 9-1-1 system.

- Story and photo gallery:

The Easter Bunny arrives at Solberg Airport in 2013. 
Photo by Thor Solberg

A plane takes off from Solberg Airport in Readington in 2010.

Frontier launching routes from West Palm Beach this fall: New routes planned are Denver, Washington and Trenton, New Jersey

Frontier Airlines plans to launch new service from West Palm Beach to Denver, Washington D.C. and Trenton, N.J. later this year as part of 10 new routes announced Wednesday.

The new nonstop flights between Palm Beach International Airport and Denver International Airport begin Oct. 26 and will operate four times weekly.

The flights to Trenton-Mercer Airport will start Nov. 20 and Washington flights to Dulles International Airport begin on Nov. 22, Frontier said. These routes will operate four times and three times weekly, respectively.

"Palm Beach International welcomes Frontier Airlines to our community," said Bruce Pelly, director of airports. "We are thrilled to have them start new service to three destinations and look forward to continued growth and success from this partnership."

A handful of carriers already fly nonstop year-round or seasonally from West Palm Beach to Washington, D.C. and New Jersey-area airports, but PBIA has lacked Denver service for several years, officials said.

"While we have service to both New Jersey and the DC area on other carriers, all three flights introduced today by Frontier will offer service to airports that are not currently being served, offering passengers additional options when shopping for nonstop routes," PBIA spokeswoman Stephanie Richards said.

To celebrate the new West Palm Beach routes, Frontier is offering introductory one-way fares from $49 to $89 on through Saturday, for travel through March 1, 2015. A check on the website Wednesday showed seats are limited at these special fares and certain flights and/or day-of-travel restrictions apply.

Extra charges also apply for checked bags, large carry-ons and advance seat assignments.

"We are excited to introduce our brand of low fares to the Palm Beach community," said Daniel Shurz, Frontier's senior vice president, commercial. "These introductory fares attest to our commitment to make air travel more affordable and accessible."

The Denver-based carrier, which touts "Low Fares Done Right," also operates flights from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and plans to add new service to St. Louis on Jan. 8.

The Fort Lauderdale-to-St. Louis nonstop route will operate three times a week, Frontier said.

In June, Frontier added service between Fort Lauderdale and Cleveland and will start new flights to Washington-Dulles on Sept. 9. It already flies from Fort Lauderdale to Denver and Trenton.

Earlier this year, Frontier appointed Barry Biffle, a former Spirit Airlines marketing executive, as its new president. Private equity firm Indigo Partners LLC, which had a role in turning around Miramar-based Spirit, purchased the struggling Denver carrier in December 2013.

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