Sunday, August 10, 2014

Flight Schools Could Face Greater Restrictions at Santa Monica Municipal Airport (KSMO), California

August 11, 2014 -- Use of quieter aircraft and accepting limitations on when flying can take place could be requirements for flight schools and clubs to operate at Santa Monica Airport. The City Council will consider these rules Tuesday when it votes on new lease guidelines for businesses operating on the City-owned property.

If these guidelines are approved, they could be voided later this year depending on whether voters approve the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association-backed measure in November. The measure calls for voter approval to make most changes to the airport, including any decisions made by the City Council since the measure was officially proposed earlier this year.

City staff’s proposed guidelines, based on recommendations from the City Council in March, state that all flight schools will be given the opportunity to renew their leases and new ones could come to the airport. But preference will be given to those who agree to specific criteria.

“All flight schools and flying clubs will be requested to use newer [types of] aircraft that are quieter … or use Federal Aviation Administration-approved noise reduction technologies in reducing their noise footprint,” the proposed guidelines state.

They continue, “All flight schools and flying clubs will be requested to avoid performing pattern operations at Santa Monica Airport during weekends, holidays and evening hours.”

Residents living near the airport are concerned about the use of leaded fuel in the airplanes. Airport Director Martin Pastucha wrote in the staff report that the request from some community members to ban fuel sales on the property was not feasible because “such action would most likely lead to litigation.”

Pastucha wrote that the City could require fuel with reduced or no lead be offered for sale, although these options are not widely available at this time.

“Staff is currently in talks with fuel manufacturers to determine the timeline of availability of these fuels,” Pastucha wrote. “Once commercially available, fuel service providers at the airport would be required to offer [fuel with reduced lead or no lead].”

The leases for all restaurants and other businesses on the property will expire by June 30, 2015. They could renew their leases for up to three years (with longer periods being subject to council approval), according to the proposed guidelines. Annual renewals after three years would be possible.

“Rents, fees and charges on the airport shall reflect fair market value for both aviation and non-aviation properties,” the proposed guidelines state. “Fair market rents for individual buildings on non-aviation airport properties and prevailing market rents for aviation properties will be appraised in the as-is condition quantified in the spring 2014 appraisal.”

Other features proposed are that the City could add a charge to the rent based on a percentage of the business’ sales, whole building leases could be subject to a Request for Proposals process “intended to optimize leasehold occupancy and the self-sustainability of the airport” and subleases would be prohibited unless authorized by the City.

Also included in the guidelines are several environmental and other standards tenants must meet.

Pastucha wrote, “The Guidelines identify programs that mitigate, as much as possible, environmental impacts to the community and maintain the viability of the Airport Fund (consisting of revenue collected through tenants]  ... while the legal constraints on the City’s authority to control the airport and airport usage is resolved.”

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Van’s RV-3, N625ZH: Fatal accident occurred November 24, 2014 at Las Cruces International Airport, (KLRU), New Mexico

NTSB Identification: CEN15LA059
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, November 24, 2014 in Las Cruces, NM
Aircraft: ROSS H/HERRIOTT M VANS AIRCRAFT RV 3, registration: N625ZH
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On November 24, 2014, about 0950 mountain standard time, N625ZH, an experimental-homebuilt Ross Vans Aircraft RV-3, sustained substantial damage shortly after takeoff from Las Cruces International Airport (LRU), Las Cruces, New Mexico. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that was destined for Dona Ana County Airport, Santa Teresa, New Mexico. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector performed an on-scene examination of the airplane wreckage and interviewed several witnesses. According to the inspector, shortly after the airplane departed Runway 26, it was observed in a nose high attitude about 400 to 500-feet above the ground. The airplane then entered a steep 60 to 90-degree left bank. Witnesses observed the airplane's wings "wobble" back and forth, before the airplane entered a steeper turn to the left. Then the airplane's left wing dropped and the airplane began to spin. The airplane made 1 to 1.5 turns before it impacted a road in front of the airport's terminal building. The witnesses said the airplane's engine was operating until the airplane hit the ground. There was no post-impact fire.

A friend of the pilot told the FAA inspector that the pilot had purchased the airplane two days before the accident and had no previous flight experience in an RV-3. He estimated that from the time the pilot purchased the airplane up until the time of the accident, he had flown the airplane about 4.0 hours.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate for airplane single and multi-engine land and instrument airplane. His last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Second Class medical certificated was issued on August 28, 2014. At that time, the pilot reported a total of 1,000 flight hours.

In Memory of Lawrence Tyler Francis 
March 6, 1985 - November 24, 2014

Lawrence Tyler Francis, 29, passed away unexpectedly on November 24, 2014, in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Tyler was born March 6, 1985, to L.F. "Rick" and Ginger Francis in El Paso, Texas. He and the love of his life Sara Elizabeth-Jean Francis recently celebrated their first anniversary.

Tyler was President/CEO of Francis Aviation at Dona Ana International Jetport and recently expanded operations to the Las Cruces Municipal Airport. He served on the Board for Dona Ana International Jetport, War Eagles Air Museum, Amigo Airsho and Boy Scouts of America Yucca Council. He was recently awarded membership in the Sons of the American Revolution and Society of Mayflower Descendants.

Tyler, a fifth generation El Pasoan, was an Eagle Scout (Troop 4), a finalist in the Texas State Debate Championship (2001) and was Texas State champion in the DECA Entrepreneurship category (2002). At the age of 15, he began buying, renovating and selling homes. He was pledge class president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at University of Arizona. Tyler is a UTEP graduate and received his MBA at Texas Tech University.

Tyler's love of aviation began at the age of 10, building radio-controlled airplanes with his mentor and friend, Tom Holmsley. He purchased his first airplane while in grad school at Texas Tech. Upon graduating, he moved to Santa Teresa, where he worked for and later purchased Blue Feather Aero which he renamed Francis Aviation. He was a skilled pilot who also enjoyed skydiving. Tyler was very adventurous and enjoyed hiking, camping, and skiing. One of his notable adventures included climbing past Advanced Base Camp on Mount Everest.

Tyler's enthusiasm for life was infectious and he positively impacted those around him. His charismatic, energetic, positive and caring personality will be forever remembered. Tyler's life has changed us all, the devastation of his passing, but also the joy of having known him.

Tyler is survived by his wife, Sara; parents, Ginger and Rick Francis; In-laws Nancy and John Paben; Grandparents, Doris and Rollo Gurss, Marilyn and Larry Francis; Sister, Lauren (John) Steinmann, and many aunts and uncles and cousins.

Family and friends are invited to celebrate Tyler's life at St Clement Church (810 N. Campbell, El Paso, 79902) at 1PM on Saturday, November 29th. A private family graveside ceremony will happen at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Boy Scouts of America Yucca Council or the War Eagles Museum.

Services entrusted to Martin Funeral Home West, 128 N. Resler Dr., El Paso, Texas 79912.

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Tyler Francis says he’s seen a lot of interest in charter service from the Santa Teresa airport. 

Cutter general manager Scott Andre says business is strong, but he’s losing one of two corporate jets based there.

SANTA TERESA, N.M. – At Doña Ana County International Jetport, a short drive from El Paso and a quick hop over the state line, construction will soon be under way on a hangar that some here think is the future of the small desert facility.

An aggressive effort by New Mexico to expand the state’s aviation industry is siphoning the corporate air travel business across the state line from El Paso to nearby Santa Teresa, those in the general aviation business say.

“It has had a huge impact when it comes to private-owned aircraft based here,” said Scott Andre, general manager of Cutter Aviation at El Paso International.

Cutter is one of two fixed-base operators in El Paso, companies that provide services such as fuel and catering for non-commercial flights.

While his business with cargo operators and law enforcement is still strong, Andre said, he has only two corporate customers that keep jets there, and he will soon lose one of them to Doña Ana County International Jetport.

While El Paso International Airport is the region’s aviation giant, Andre said the New Mexico jetport is steadily chipping away at some of its advantages.

Take the hangar soon to be under construction there.

Those familiar with the project say it is being built to house a jet owned by El Paso businessman and philanthropist Paul Foster and his wife, Alejandra, and is just one example of how El Paso is increasingly losing the corporate air travel business to the jetport.

Nearby, construction is complete on a customs facility that airport manager Bill Provance expects to be operational this month. It means that planes flying into the airport will no longer have to stop at the El Paso airport to clear customs.

Last December, “International” was officially added to the airport’s name by Doña Ana County commissioners to better reflect the airport’s ambition to attract corporate travelers, business jets and cargo aircraft.

Business moving from El Paso to Santa Teresa’s airport doesn’t just impact El Paso’s fixed-base operators. It also impacts local tax revenues and all the other industries that thrive around business aviation – maintenance operations, caterers, brokers and the like.

“Businesses moving outside of El Paso is not a good thing for anyone involved,” said El Paso airport director Monica Lombraña.

The airport is impacted through lower fuel flowage fees, she said, and so is the city, which collects taxes on many of the services provided to the industry.

“The airport will do whatever is within our capability lawfully to work with our tenants and to encourage local businesses to remain at (El Paso Airport),” she said. “And the best way we can do that is to offer the lowest lease rates and fees possible to our tenants while still maintaining our infrastructure to the highest standards possible.”

Business tool

These days corporate and business air travel is not just for gazillionaires. It’s possible for smaller firms to use private jets without spending a fortune, said Matthew Betty, an aircraft broker and consultant who worked in El Paso before moving to Fort Worth in 2012.

“Corporate aircraft travel has substantially evolved over the last 15 years,” Betty said. “The industry has just exploded in terms of how you can access and use corporate aircraft.”

Smaller firms have access to private planes through partial ownership schemes that work like timeshares as well as charter flights, he said. And even though private jets may be perceived as a luxury, for many companies, they’re just another business tool.

According to the National Business Aviation Association, business aviation contributes $150 billion to U.S. economic output and employs more than 1.2 million people, although the industry was hit hard by the Great Recession and financial meltdown in 2008 and 2009.

The lack of direct flights from El Paso International has long been a frustration for El Paso business executives. A number of local firms, Betty said, use private planes to move their executives and management teams more quickly to and from operations on the border.

One is El Paso-based River Oaks Properties, which has fractional ownership of a plane through Ohio-based Net Jets, which is a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

“Prices have come down a lot over the past decade or so,” said Adam Frank, River Oaks president.

He and other executives often have to fly to San Diego, but there are no direct commercial flights from El Paso to the California city.

“With a layover in Phoenix, it literally takes between 7 to 9 hours to get to San Diego when it is about a 1-hour and 20 minute flight direct,” Frank said.

So a one-day trip turns into a three-day trip, which is an expensive proposition for the company in both time and money.

But even as corporate air travel becomes increasingly accessible, El Paso continues to lose much of the business.

Tax benefits

Francis Aviation, the fixed-base operator at the Doña Ana airport, is planning to launch a charter service for business travelers this month, once it gets the expected approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Owner Tyler Francis purchased a $2 million King Air B200 aircraft a year ago, and has been waiting for FAA’s go ahead.

“We are already seeing a lot of interest. We get a lot of calls,” Francis said. The only other stand-alone charter service based in the El Paso area is ATI Jet Charter.

Fuel sales at Francis Aviation, while significantly less than those of Cutter Aviation in El Paso, Francis said, are 26 percent higher so far this year compared to the same period last year. And business overall, he said, is 31 percent higher than it has averaged over the past 10 years.

“We have had a series of jet owners move over to Santa Teresa, snagging up space for aircraft,” Francis said.

Perhaps the biggest reason El Paso is losing business to the airport in Santa Teresa is the tax benefit New Mexico provides airplane owners, said Betty, the airplane consultant.

In Texas, planes, like houses, are subject to personal property taxes. In New Mexico, plane owners are charged a yearly fee based on the weight of the aircraft.

The bottom line, Betty said, is the New Mexico tax can amount to saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Six months ago, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez signed into law more tax breaks for the aviation industry.

Even so, El Paso International still has a lot of advantages, Betty said. It’s not located out in the desert but in the middle of the city, and has significantly more runway, security and support services, including a control tower and an important weather observation system that assists aircraft flying in low visibility.

Airport manager Bill Provance said the next thing on his list is that automated system, certified by the FAA.

And the Dona Aña County commissioners have recently approved funding for the system at the jetport.

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Phoenix sky to be site of fighter-jet exercises Tuesday

North American Aerospace Defense Command will conduct intercept and identification procedures over the Phoenix area on Aug. 12 around midday, according to a statement from the organization.

The exercise flights are set to occur between 10 a.m. and noon on Tuesday, although the flights may be delayed due to weather, the statement said.

The organization said people may hear and see NORAD aircraft flying in close proximity to military aircraft, which will be taking on the role of an "aircraft of interest."

NORAD conducts scenario training including airspace restriction violations, hijackings and responding to unknown aircraft, the statement said.

NORAD is the bi-national Canadian and American command that provides maritime warning, aerospace warning and aerospace control for Canada and the United States, according to the statement.

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New Summit Air Ambulance provides long-distance transport: Family plans available for $65 a year, work with insurance

From left, Don Wells, flight paramedic and lead clinician, Travis Weiss, flight nurse, and Bob Gates, lead pilot for Summit Air Ambulance, are three members of an elite team helping to bring emergency care to critically injured and sick community members by way of a fixed wing aircraft that allows the same level of care as an ICU. 

It’s no secret Montanans love their state.

They love the wilderness, the wide open spaces, the long drives through mountain ranges and across prairies and all of the recreational activities that come with living in such territory.

But Montanans also acknowledge there are dangers present in Big Sky country that citizens of many other American states would never dream of: grizzly bears, wildfires and high-speed two-lane highways snaking up and down mountain switchbacks among them.

Additionally, Montana’s famed remoteness leaves many small towns and rural regions without a hospital or other options for adequate medical care in an emergency. It’s one of the few states in the country that is not equipped with a Level I trauma center, which provides the highest level of care for emergency patients.

But Helenans can now rest a little easier as they work and play in the Treasure State.

Summit Air Ambulance, an Idaho-based company, stationed a fixed-wing aircraft at the Helena Regional Airport in February to expedite treatment for trauma patients.

In the five months since its installation, the red and white Pilatus PC-12 aircraft hasn’t had much down time.

“That first week, we got six calls within 10 days,” said Bob Gates, the lead pilot at the Helena base.

Gates is one of four pilots certified to fly the 9,900-pound craft and is accompanied by one of four paramedics and one of four flight nurses on each flight.

The installation of the fixed-wing in Helena and an Augusta 109E Power helicopter in Bozeman filled a long-standing void of 24/7 on-call medical air transport for the Helena area.

“Before Summit came to Bozeman and here, our nearest resources were Missoula, Great Falls or Billings for air resources,” said Don Wells, a paramedic and Summit’s lead clinician.

“There’s this whole long corridor of Helena, Bozeman, Butte, all the way down to Dillon that really had, I don’t want to say no resources, but those resources were distant,” he said.

“It’s kind of opened up the door, and there’s a lot more resources now,” he said of Summit coming to Helena. “These communities have recognized that that level of service is beneficial.

“When you’ve got somebody (who is) critical, time is a factor,” he said.

With the new aircraft, flight crews can transport critical patients to almost any airport in the state in 80 minutes or fewer with the capability to fly to major trauma centers in Seattle or Salt Lake City in just about two hours.

Additionally, the use of a fixed-wing aircraft allows the crew to provide the same level of care that a patient would receive in a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit with the added benefit of a pressurized cabin and a smoother flight than a helicopter might offer.

“We can go all the way up to 30,000 feet but keep that cabin pressurized to about 5,000 or 6,000 feet,” Gates said. “We keep it at this field elevation, as if they were on the ground here, all the way to Minneapolis.

“A huge difference is the weather capability,” he said. “Helicopters can’t take any kind of icing at all.”

The Pilatus comes equipped with multiple de-icing systems — on the propeller and both wings — and an infrared camera mounted on the tail to aid pilots’ vision at night or in bad weather.

“When we have those snowstorms, we can get up above it,” said Travis Weiss, a flight nurse with Summit. “Helicopters fly a lot lower.”

The plane can still fly in a variety of bad weather situations a helicopter couldn’t, including when “the bottom of the cloud deck can be as low as 200 feet above the ground with only a half-mile visibility,” Gates said.

Comfort and style

In its inaugural months, the Summit fixed-wing has flown patients all over the state and all over the country to receive a variety of treatments ranging from trauma care for wounds sustained from a grizzly attack to specialist care for cardiac or neurological trauma.

Once a patient is transferred into Summit’s air ambulance from a hospital or ground ambulance, the paramedic and flight nurse on board are well-equipped to make their journey as comfortable as possible.

The plane’s sleek, tan leather interior, designed by BMW, has all the luxury one would expect from a private aircraft with some additional features unique to Summit.

On the back half of the plane, a specially designed loading door accommodates easy access for stretcher sleds.

Huge backpacks filled with medical equipment ranging from intubation kits to delicate bottles of IV medication are stored in the back of the cabin behind two stations where patient sleds can be locked into place. Drawers filled with IV kits, catheters, bandages and more stack on either side of the front entrance and multiple outlets and hookups for oxygen are scattered throughout.

“We have a ventilator and six channels available for pump medications,” Weiss said.

“It’s a little bit of a chess game because you’re anticipating everything you’re going to need before you go,” Weiss said. “We’re going to hope for the best, and plan for the worst.”

Flight paramedics and nurses also pack what Weiss calls “the 10 essentials” in the pockets of their red flight suits: scissors, tape, extra bandages and medications included.

Additionally, crew members have the capability to regulate the cabin temperature. That gives them the ability to cool down patients with a fever or passively warm up those suffering from hypothermia, for example.

Weiss said the small plane can make the trip to major hospitals in Seattle, Denver or Salt Lake City relatively quickly when compared to a helicopter. A third seat in the cabin allows the crew to bring an extra passenger, especially in situations when they are flying to a facility out of state.

“The nice part is we can usually bring a family member,” he said.

Building relationships

This fall, Summit plans to station a helicopter at the Helena base in addition to the plane in order to expand transport capabilities in the area.

In the meantime, the organization is offering a new membership plan to members of the community.

For $65 a year, a Helena family could purchase a membership to Summit giving them access to all of its air transport services paid for in full by an insurance provider.

“They go to your insurance first,” Weiss said. “Anything beyond what insurance coves is taken care of.

“The idea is let’s get the community tied into us, let’s give that incentive,” he said. “Flights aren’t cheap.”

Weiss and Wells both noted Montanans’ enthusiasm for the outdoors and noted the membership plan would be beneficial for a wide variety of recreationalists.

“Anybody that drives, anybody that has a boat, anybody that skis, anybody that has a medical issue,” would benefit, Wells said. “Basically it’s a very low fee for a family.”

And while Summit is busy building relationships with community members, the organization is also building partnerships with local medical providers.

Katy Peterson, a spokeswoman for St. Peter’s Hospital and Medical Group, said the local hospital has enjoyed fostering collaboration with Summit.

“We’re just kind of getting our feet wet in the arrangement, but I think St. Peter’s is very happy to have an acute air transport service based right here in Helena,” she said.

She said the service is especially helpful for those patients experiencing specialized traumas — whether they are neurological, pediatric or otherwise — that in-state facilities do not usually have the resources to treat.

“Patient care is always our first priority, so we want to be sure in the few cases that patients need to leave Helena they get to their destination as soon as possible,” she said.

“We’re glad we can meet our community’s needs the majority of the time,” Peterson said. “But sometimes we need to go out of town, and these services allow us to do that.”

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A century ago, a western Pennsylvania man changed aviation: DeLloyd Thompson’s 1914 flight gained the Washington County man great but fleeting fame

As first lady Ellen Axson Wilson’s life was slipping away inside the White House Aug. 6, 1914, due to the ravaging effects of kidney disease, DeLloyd Thompson was more than 1,000 miles away, donning a sheepskin suit in Overland Park, Kan.

Cold-weather apparel of that variety would, in most circumstances, have been unbearable and unnecessary on a typical summer’s day in the community just outside Kansas City. But Thompson wouldn’t long be on the ground and bearing the brunt of the August sun.

After strapping a barometric altimeter to his thigh and firing up the engines of his Day-Gyro plane, a contraption that most of us would now look upon as being as primitive as a caveman’s club, Thompson maneuvered it into the sky.

The 26 year-old who had the nickname “Dutch” kept climbing. And climbing. And climbing. Eventually Thompson climbed higher than any human being had ever climbed before, reaching an estimated 15,256 feet. The air was cool at that height, necessitating the suit, and Thompson’s plane ran out of fuel. But the heart rate of the daredevil pilot who hailed from Buffalo Township probably didn’t budge – instead, he was able to put his plane into a spiral glide and guide it safely back to terra firma.

Since most of today’s passenger jets cruise at about 30,000 feet, a mere 15,000 feet is now painfully routine, something that would barely rouse a traveler from his iPad or laptop. Most turboprop planes, on average, cruise in the vicinity of 15,000 feet. But, a century ago, just a little more than 10 years after Orville and Wilbur Wright got their experimental aircraft off the ground in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., floating in the clouds at 15,000 feet was truly a bold venture into a place where no man had ever gone before.

“He was sort of a man before his time,” said Margaret Thompson, his daughter-in-law. “He was sort of an adventurous loner.”

Though Thompson’s aviation exploits ended a little less than a decade later and he died in obscurity in Washington in 1949 after failed bids to launch his own brand of aircraft and even become the mayor of Washington, his status as an aviation groundbreaker remains firmly intact. Within two years of his record-shattering flight, Thompson went on to other feats, such as launching pyrotechnics from a plane cruising over Washington, D.C., and breaking a speed record. His achievements did, at least for a while, result in plaques bearing his name and outlining his achievements being placed at Washington County Airport, and its field bearing his name.

After a lengthy absence because of vandalism, those plaques were recently restored to Washington County Airport, according to Scott Gray, the executive director of Washington County Airport. They had previously been in the hands of the Washington County Historical Society.

Perhaps part of the reason Thompson’s fame was so fleeting is that he did not hold the altitude record for long. The 1910s and 1920s were a period when pilots of rudimentary aircraft were intent on dazzling audiences, mostly for their own enrichment, and desperately trying to one-up each other and grab their own slice of glory. Within just five years, French pilot Jean Casale (whose full name was Jean Pie Hyacinthe Jerome Casale, Marquis de Montferato) reached 31,000 feet, double the height Thompson attained. In 1963, in fact, the altitude record was twice broken by Joe Walker, another Washington County native, who took experimental rockets 62 miles overhead, just to the borderline of Earth’s atmosphere and space.

The Washington & Jefferson College graduate was killed June 8, 1966, at age 45 when his plane crashed into another plane in the midst of a photo session they were undertaking for General Electric. An elementary school in South Franklin Township bears his name, as does a middle school in Quartz Hill, Calif.

How high have we traveled in the 100 years since Thompson’s derring-do? The current record is held by American Brian Binnie, who took an experimental aircraft 69 miles into the sky in 2004 – 23 times higher than Thompson traveled.

Considering, however, that Thompson’s most famous flight happened just six years after the Wright brothers’ endeavors were even publicized, reaching 15,000 feet in 1914 was “pretty good,” according to Tom Crouch, the senior curator for aeronautics at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Once the world was let in on the secret of flight, audiences could not get enough of Thompson and other envelope-pushing “exhibition” pilots.

“People loved that kind of thing,” Crouch continued. “If you wanted to fly for a living in those days and you wanted to make much money, the only thing you could do is be an exhibition pilot.”

Thriving in a profession that demanded bravado in abundance, Thompson also possessed important insights on how flying machines could be used for purposes other than generating oohs and aahs for earthbound audiences. In his 1916 “bombing” of Washington, D.C., when he set off pyrotechnics from his plane, dramatically emphasized that objects that were infinitely more lethal could be unleashed from planes – a message that carried special resonance since it was being delivered at the same time World War I was rewriting the rules of warfare across the ocean in Europe.

“He was one of the first people who realized that planes were going to be significant in wars,” said Clay Kilgore, executive director of the Washington County Historical Society. “He said the East Coast was at risk … He was one of the first to show that (airplanes) could be a danger, and people didn’t want to listen to him. At a time when people didn’t see the value of aeronautics, he was pushing that.”

Once his days of aeronautical eminence were over, Thompson had a trajectory similar to that of some contemporary professional athletes. He struggled to find an outlet where he could channel his considerable energies and, of course, make a living. He was the proprietor of a coal mine and tried his hand as a construction contractor. His company was involved in the construction of Sunset Beach in his native Buffalo Township in the latter half of the 1920s. But even before the Depression arrived, Thompson’s coffers were exhausted.

As the Depression began to lift in 1937, he tried to market a two-seat airplane called the DeLloydCabinaire, but the venture foundered, as did a bid to become Washington’s mayor two years after that. He was severely injured in an auto accident on Route 40 in 1945, and, a little less than four years later, died in his bed of apparent heart failure at age 61.

Kilgore believes that Thompson’s outsized life is one that deserves to be more widely known.

“I think he is somebody who has been forgotten,” Kilgore said. “He is somebody who was important in Washington County.”

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‘Landmark’ change marks new course for aviation firm: Houston-based company will keep services at Lihue Airport (PHLI), Hawaii

Eric Beyan, fueler assistant for Landmark Aviation (formerly Bradley Pacific Aviation), fuels up a tour helicopter between flights belonging to Jack Carter Helicopters.

LIHUE — Bradley Aviation at Lihue Airport has changed its name following the sale of the airport service provider to new ownership.

Houston-based Landmark Aviation completed the acquisition process of Denver-based Ross Aviation on Aug. 1. The Ross network addition of 18 fixed-based operations throughout the United States will make 75 Landmark FBO locations in the U.S., Canada and Western Europe.

“We are very excited to welcome these 18 locations into our network,” stated Landmark President and CEO Dan Bucaro. “They are geographically a good fit with their strength in the west and Hawaii. We also look forward to building strong relationships with the various airport authorities and being active in each of those communities.”

Ross operated six locations in Hawaii, including Bradley Aviation Pacific in Lihue. It offers fueling, ground service, customs, lavatory service, a passenger lobby, a pilot flight plan center and catering.

Landmark Regional Vice President Charlie Ferraro is based in San Diego, but says his family tries to vacation in Hanalei every year. Now that Landmark owns six Hawaii FOBs, he hopes the trips will be more frequent to Lihue.

The acquisition closing triggered the corporate transition team into place for the 18 locations. The team will be in Hawaii by the mid-August to install the Landmark network, routing system software and complete other back office transition work.

“We expect to be completed by September,” Ferraro said.

Shaen Tarter was the general manager of all six Hawaii locations for Ross, and he remains in charge under Landmark.

“We plan to keep him on board and hope he wants to stay with us,” Ferraro said. “We are excited to have him on board for his knowledge and expertise.”

The Hawaii FOBs are running well with the 145 full-time employees and no layoffs are planned, he said. For the long term, a close look at each location could result in changes depending on local and network needs and customer demands, but the smaller hubs on the neighbor islands are less likely to see major changes.

“It is a well-run business,” he said.

What will change is that Lihue joins a more international network. The Hawaii locations will work well the existing Mainland West Coast FOB locations, and increases Landmark’s ability to provide standardization of general aviation service at more destination airports.

“It is a great fit for our customer base to utilize our network,” he said. “With that standardization they know what to expect when they land.”

With events like hurricanes, Landmark first and foremost makes sure their own people are safe, he said. The major airlines and corporate jets usually pull their planes out ahead of the storm, and they help coordinate connections between others looking for hangar space in Hawaii.

After the storm they make sure the planes that are coming and going with relief are fueled and ready to go.

The FOB service business was growing significantly up until the recession in 2008, when most businesses connected to tourism were hit hard, Ferraro said. It began to improve in 2011 and they anticipate a continuing upward trend for general aviation.

Lihue maintains dedicated airline fuelers and general aviation service providers that perform multiple tasks for commercial and general aviation. Landmark fuels the commercial jets and tour helicopters in Lihue, and performs cabin services for the small jets.

The catering and referral services involve contracted third party vendors from limousine services to hotel agreements.

Marie Cassel, owner of Sweet Marie Hawaii Inc., provided catering services to clients with Bradley, and says nothing has changed with regard to her services other than the name of the company.

“I love working of them,” Cassel said. “They are awesome professionals who do good business.”


Q+A: Col. Richard Boutwell: New boss talks education at Nellis, air show, budget and fighter jet safety

Col. Richard H. Boutwell is the Commander, 99th Air Base Wing, Nellis Air Force Base on Monday, August 4, 2014.

Col. Richard Boutwell is settling into his new role as “mayor” of Nellis Air Force Base. Boutwell, 99th Air Base wing commander, took over as head of the installation June 27, succeeding Col. Barry Cornish, who left for a post in Hawaii.

An Alabama native, Boutwell has 23 years of Air Force experience, including service at the Pentagon and in Japan, where he commanded the 44th Fighter Squadron at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa.

In his new role as commander of Nellis, Boutwell returns to the base where he was stationed as a member of the Thunderbirds air demonstration team from 1999 to 2003.

He arrives a year after Nellis suffered federal budget cutbacks that triggered temporary furloughs for civilian personnel, prompted cancellation of the 2013 Aviation Nation air show and grounded Red Flag combat exercises for a session, among other effects.

You’ve been on the job for less than two months. In two years, how will you measure success?

A lot of it is perception — leaving the place better than you got it. I got it in great hands.

But with a fresh set of eyes, you always have the opportunity to find a new mission or a new process that may create efficiencies or greater rewards for our airmen and their families, like bringing a charter school on the base.

Would a charter school be a priority for you?

It’s one of the things we’re exploring, to see if we can bring it to fruition. We have a kindergarten-through-fifth-grade elementary school on the base, so we’re trying to build on that program to expand it through eighth grade and at least get folks through middle school. Having that charter school would certainly help.

How have you liked the job so far?

I’m impressed every day. To get to watch our airmen do their jobs with pride, precision and efficiency — to me, it’s very humbling and very prideful. In that father-like mentality, whenever you see your kid do something good, you just swell up with pride.

Is Aviation Nation going to come back this year?

It is, in November. Under sequestration, it was canceled because we were trying to be fair to our civilian employees. When we’re telling them they can’t come to work and we can’t pay them, it would have been in very poor taste for us to have an air show.

Does that mean the budget situation has improved?

I would say it has stabilized. We’re still having to make tough choices.

There has been talk of commissaries closing. Is that something Nellis might see in the future?

There are discussions. Nothing is off the table.

Whenever we do look at those, we look to see what the community can support. What do they have, and is it in close proximity? Can they cover the offsets, as well as the prices? All of those go into making those very tough choices. At the end of the day, we have to have zero balance in our checkbook, so those closures are something we’re looking at.

F-35s were in the news a lot lately because of technological problems. Nellis has four. Are there safety concerns?

No, the safety of that aircraft is doing very well. It’s not unlike any other aircraft we’ve brought online: You learn something new every day. And they do a great job of troubleshooting those.

Is it worth the price tag?

Absolutely. When you look at the survivability of fourth-generation aircraft against the increasing threat of some of our potential adversaries, it isn’t acceptable. And if you look at the life cycle of those aircraft, they’re already nearing the end of their lives. So we have to have a replacement.

When you’re in the air, every second counts. To have an aircraft that can take information from multiple sources and fuse it together and give it to the pilot to interpret and employ when he’s at 600 mph, that is something that will help him survive in combat and be able to accomplish that mission and come home.

* Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

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Lasers pose grave risk for Tucson air traffic


Tucson ranked 15th in the nation for the number of laser strikes on aircraft reported to the FAA last year. 

Military, commercial, medical, law enforcement and civilian pilots reported 54 laser strikes in the Tucson-area to the Federal Aviation Administration, a significant increase over 2012.

Arizona had the fourth highest number of laser incidents involving aircraft last year of all states, FAA reports show. The Phoenix area accounted for 122 reports, the fourth highest city/region in the country.

Candy-bar-sized laser pointers can be bought at retail stores, online or at swap meets for as little as $20. But the risk they pose is grave and the results of pointing them at an aircraft could be disastrous, said pilots with the Tucson Police Department and the Pima County Sheriff’s Department air units.

“A person with a handheld laser has the ability to down an aircraft,” said pilot Chris Potter, 46, of the police air unit. He lives with a permanent eye injury from a laser strike.

“When pilots lose their eyesight when in control of an aircraft, it is like driving down a winding, dark country road and someone blinds you with a flashlight,” Potter said.

The veteran pilot was temporarily blinded three years ago when he was flying a police helicopter about 400 feet off the ground back to the unit’s hangar near the Tucson International Airport.

“A strong, pulsating green laser entered my right window and struck me multiple times in the right eye. I immediately lost vision in that eye,” Potter said. “All I could see was white stars, and my eye began to water.”

Potter diverted the helicopter from the laser beam and began communicating with officers on the ground about the location the strike came from before he returned to the hangar. The person who injured Potter was never caught.

“My right eye is permanently damaged. The laser burned my eye,” Potter said. He now sees through what he described as a “fuzzy line,” which has not prevented him from flying. “I have been blessed with 20/15 vision. I still have uncorrected vision,” he said.

FAA records on last year’s laser incidents show no injuries were reported in the Tucson cases. Local pilots said they knew of no other permanent eye injury, only Potter’s, caused by lasers aimed at aircraft over the Tucson area.

Light spreads

Most people who shine lasers at aircraft don’t realize the light from the device spreads out as it travels, bathing cockpits in bright light that temporarily blocks a pilot’s vision, says the website The light can damage eyes, but the website says most reported incidents do not result in injuries.

The website, which advocates for safe, legal uses of all types of lasers, says that in reviewing cases nationally, most people convicted of endangering an aircraft with a laser said they were just playing with the device and didn’t think the light it emitted was strong enough to reach an aircraft.

TPD’s air unit received national recognition in July from the Airborne Law Enforcement Association for educating the public about laser strikes, and for its efforts to pass a state law making it a misdemeanor to aim a laser light at an occupied aircraft.

Officers will work in the next legislative session to upgrade the crime to a felony, said Sgt. Gary Arnold of the TPD air unit. He said that was the original intention, but lawmakers watered down the bill before passing it in May.

Suspects can also be charged with federal crimes. A federal law passed in 2012 makes shining a laser at an aircraft a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. FBI Agent Brian Nowak said suspects can now face federal and state charges, along with a civil penalty of up to $11,000 from the FAA.

Whether a person is charged in federal or in state court depends on evidence and the discretion of prosecutors. Juveniles, for example, will not be prosecuted in federal court, but the youth’s parents could face a civil fine from the FAA, Nowak said.

Knowing the risk

Last year, there were three federal court convictions in Tucson regarding laser strikes at aircraft. Nowak said he is working on several cases, including University of Arizona-area incidents, but declined to elaborate.

TPD’s air unit has discussed the risks of lasers with the UA Police Department, which has educated students about the dangers to pilots through bulletins and emails.

Pilots from Tucson Police and the Sheriff’s Department’s air units said the UA area is troublesome because of the amount of laser incidents that originate from there.

UAPD Sgt. Filbert Barrera said a laser was used inside McKale Center several years ago, and at the football stadium.

“They point it at the players. It can damage a player’s eye, and disrupt the game,” Barrera said. The suspects were not found.

Pilots face laser incidents across the Tucson area “on a regular basis,” said Deputy Christopher Janes, a pilot with the Sheriff’s Department. Last year, the department released video of its plane being hit by a laser light on the northwest side.

“Most laser strikes happen at landing and takeoff with respect to airliner and military flights, while law enforcement aircraft get hit while on patrol. Medical helicopters are hit when they are about to land at a hospital or are flying to a scene,” Janes said.

Local pilots attend meetings to stay aware of strikes that occur in the region’s air space, and TPD’s Arnold said a website is under construction to document incidents from hand-held lasers.

Clear flying weather year-round is one reason Tucson and Phoenix rank so high in the number of incidents, he said.

Tucson last year reported more incidents than many other major airports across the country. says the nationwide increase last year in cases — after a year where the number dropped — could be a result of better reporting and tracking of aircraft incidents. But that it also shows the increase in prosecutions and media attention is doing little to reduce the number of incidents.

More than a toy

Hand-held lasers originally were used by astronomers and stargazers to point out stars and constellations, or to make work presentations. Now they are often purchased as toys.

In the United States, a legal laser pointer is 5 milliwatts or under, which can still startle and cause potential eye damage to a pilot.

However, high-powered lasers can be purchased online from foreign countries, such as China, where milliwatts are unregulated.

High-powered lasers can cost up to $500, and can cut through wood.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently considering a ban on the sale to the general public of portable or handheld lasers over 5 milliwatts. A final decision on the proposal has not been made.

“Something bad will eventually happen” if laser use is not curtailed, Arnold said. “And we want to stop it before it does.”

Laser incidents

Here are the laser-pointing incidents involving aircraft in Tucson as reported to the FAA.

2013 — 54

2012 — 32

2011 — 48

2010 —36

Source: Federal Aviation Administration
Reported 2013 laser incidents by state

1. California — 734

2. Texas — 416

3. Florida — 326

4. Arizona — 202

5. Oregon — 173

Compiled by from FAA statistics.

U.S. incidents

In 2013, there were 3,960 laser illumination incidents reported by pilots to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. This was an average of 10.8 incidents every night.

2012 — 3,482 reported incidents.

2011 — 3,591 reported incidents.

2010 — 2,836 reported incidents.

Compiled by from FAA reports.

The FBI will offer up to a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest of a person who intentionally aims a laser at an aircraft. To make a report, call the Tucson FBI Office at 623-4306.

- Source:

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star 
Pilot Chris Potter of the Tucson Police Department  suffered permanent eye damage after he was hit with a laser in 2011. “It is like driving down a winding, dark country road and someone blinds you with a flashlight,” he said.

Sound of jet aircraft repaired in Lincolnshire to be played at the Proms

The sound of a jet aircraft which was restored in Metheringham is set to become part of a unique piece of music played at the Proms. 

Ruskington man Paul Flynn and a group of his friends have spent more than £20,000 restoring the Jet Provost XS186.

Now the noise of the engine whirring to life will be heard by a crowd of thousands and a worldwide audience of millions of listeners after the sound was recorded by a member of the restoration team and sent in to the BBC for a competition to decide listeners favourite sounds.

The Proms and Radio 4 have commissioned a piece by Scottish composer Tom Harrold, which will feature the sound and it will be performed by the Aurora orchestra at the Royal College of Music on August 20.

Paul told the Target he bought the jet as an empty shell for £400 from a scrap yard in 2004. Since then, the team has spent the past decade restoring the plane at Metheringham Airfield Visitor Centre.

Paul says it won’t fly again but instead will be used in exhibitions and open days where it will be used for taxi runs.

Paul said: “We’ve spent every weekend down there come rain or shine to get it finished.”

Ian Allaway, a member of the restoration team, works at RAF Cranwell as an aircraft technician.

He said: “The project tested my memory. We were using skills we had long forgotten, but it does come back to you.”

Throughout the restoration, the team arranged fundraising events to keep the project going.

Paul said: “We did everything from casino nights to market stalls, and even demonstration events where we’d start the engine up and taxi it around in the airfield.”

Tony Bennett, a member of the restoration team, added: “Earlier in the year, I heard Eddie Mair on Radio 4 ask for people to send in their favourite sounds.

“I sent in the sound of the Jet Provost starting up, and heard nothing initially, but then several weeks later we were surprised to find it had been chosen and it was aired a couple of times.

“You can imagine the excitement of the crew finding out that their hard work and dedication will be there for many years to come because of this piece of music.”

Tony said that it was a great feeling for the team to know they had added to the history of the plane.