Saturday, September 06, 2014

Man injured in fight over model airplanes - Benton, Saline County, Arkansas

Photo by Saline County sheriff's office
 Robert Runyan, 69.

A Benton man was arrested Thursday morning after he was involved in a fight at the old Saline County Airport, officials say. 

At about 10:24 a.m., Benton police officers were dispatched to the former airport on Airlane Drive for a disturbance.

Robert Runyan, 69, of Traskwood and James Dougherty, 65, of Benton were flying model airplanes at the old airport when they got into an argument about their model airplane club, Benton Police Department Lt. Kevin Russell said.

The two men were arguing when it turned into a physical altercation, he said.

Witnesses told police that Dougherty said he was going to get a gun from his vehicle, when Runyan grabbed him from behind.

Dougherty fell on the ground and twisted his leg while the two were fighting, Russell said.

Witnesses also said Runyan choked Dougherty during the fight.

Dougherty was transported to Saline Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries and cited for disorderly conduct and terroristic threatening. 

Runyan was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, carrying a prohibited weapon and aggravated assault, Russell said.

A butterfly-style knife was found in Runyan’s possession, Russell said.

“It’s not illegal to have one of these knives, but it’s illegal under state law to have them on your person,” he said.

Runyan was not listed on the Saline County sheriff’s office online inmate roster as of Friday afternoon.

The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Benton Police Department at (501) 778-1171 or (501) 315-TIPS.

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Annual auto/aircraft show returns today at Vail Valley Jet Center - Eagle County Regional Airport (KEGE), Colorado

Anthony Thornton |Vail
Buck Roetman and Gary Rower fly their planes together on Friday during a practice run for the Wings and Wheels show happening today in Gypsum.

EAGLE COUNTY — If you’re lucky or have the very good sense to be at the Eagle County Airport Saturday, you’ll see a couple biplanes belching smoke and looking like they’re falling.

They’re not. OK, they are falling, but they’re supposed to. Do not call 911.

That’s Buck Roetman of Wild Horse Aviation and Gary Rower of Rower Airshows performing for Saturday’s Wheels and Wings show in the Vail Valley Jet Center at the Eagle County Regional Airport.

They flip a switch and special smoke oil falls on the hot exhaust manifold, which creates a smoke trail. It’s the best and highest use of petroleum products in human history – both literally and metaphorically. They do stuff that defy the laws of physics and gravity, and makes every kid in the place holler, “Oh yeah! I wanna do that!” as their mothers roll their eyes and their fathers agree with the kids.

Saturday is the Wheels & Wings show at the Vail Valley Jet Center. Sunday is the Vail Automotive Classic in Vail Village, events that celebrate The Great American Symphony that is the well-tuned V-8 engine. It features more than 250 cars, 100 motorcycles, and 50 aircraft.

Flying with Fardie

Vail Valley local Ken Fardie flies a 1956 North American Trojan AT-28. His was a South Vietnamese fighter plane during that war, and has a few panels riveted to the fuselage to cover the bullet holes.

The AT-28 carries two 50 caliber machine guns, seven rockets on each wing, and a couple wing-mounted bombs. The plane did much of the damage along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. They’d fly at night looking for truck lights. When they spotted a truck, it was lights out.

When we were flying Friday afternoon, Fardie politely declined to let me to strafe a Toyota Prius, although the machine guns do everything machine guns are supposed to do. We also didn’t get to drop water balloons on the Vail Daily building because, well … I didn’t think of bringing any until we were buzzing the rooftop. He did, however, fly us by the spot where Capt. Craig Button corkscrewed his A-10 into the side of the New York range.

During the Vietnam war, the AT-28 was frequently flown at treetop level, and when the pilot used the airbrake the fuselage would get sticks and leaves in it, along with bullet holes.

It generates 1,425 horsepower, flies 400 mph and will reach an altitude of 38,000 feet. It has tail hooks so it can land on aircraft carriers.

Fardie bought his AT-28 six years ago from a guy in Rockford, Ill., and just spent $50,000 for a new motor. That’s just the motor. It cost about $30,000 more to get it installed.

“It was worth it,” he said smiling.

He named it Sherry Berry because that’s what his wife’s father used to call her.

“Few people know that below 10,000 feet the Trojan will out climb and out turn a P51 Mustang, though the P51 people don’t like to admit it,” he said.

He’s also the proud owner of a Spitfire, not the sports car, the Royal Air Force World War II fighter plane.

Fardie does most of his own work. He’s a retired nuclear engineer who built nuclear surface ships, and later ran his own business restoring antique Jaguars.

Saturday’s Wheels and Wings show, and Sunday’s Vail Village car show is full of people like Fardie and Rower and Roetman, and the machines they love.

If You Go

What: Wheels and Wings/Vail Automotive Classic

When: Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Vail Valley Jet Center, Eagle County Regional Airport. Saturday’s classic auto auction, 3:30-6 p.m. Sunday, Vail Automotive Classic, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Vail Village.

Where: The Vail Valley Jet Center is inside the Eagle County Regional Airport. If you’re coming from the east, get off in Eagle and head toward the airport.

Cost: Saturday’s Wheels & Wings, $20, $5 for children. Discount tickets available online. Sunday free in Vail Village

Information: This is the fifth year for Wheels and Wings. Go to

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University of Louisiana at Monroe Aviation Student Sets Lofty Goals For the Future

(Terrance Armstard/ULM Photo Services, University of Louisiana at Monroe) 

Press Release -- Heidi Higginbotham, a senior University of Louisiana at Monroe aviation major, has wanted to be a pilot for as long as she could remember. Throughout her life—and her time at ULM—Higginbotham has stood out in the aviation community.

Her professors have noted her amazing persistence and perseverance, both of which are evident when she tells her story.

“My fascination and passion with all aspects of aircraft and the aviation industry started when I was about eight years old,” she said. “At the age of 14, I took a discovery flight in Guatemala. [That was] when I decided there was nothing I would rather do than fly. I can proudly say that after saving money since I was 14 years old, I paid for my private pilot’s license on my own and obtained that certificate on July 15, 2012.”

Higginbotham was recently a recipient of the 2014 International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) Foundation Scholarship worth $10,000.

“Scholarships in aviation have always been hard to come by and limited,” said David King, program coordinator for ULM aviation. “Qualifying for and receiving a scholarship of this amount is very special indeed. Persistence definitely pays off. Heidi is one of our most stellar aviation students.”

King went on to acknowledge Higginbotham’s ability to balance school and her work as a pilot. She is currently using her talents to help those in need.

“I work as a special events coordinator for Pilots for Patients, a non-profit 501(c) 3 that transports medically stable patients to their treatments at no cost to the patient, and I am also one of their volunteer pilots. I have flown over 10 missions for Pilots for Patients to help others because it keeps me flying at a reduced price and also reminds me that the struggles I have in life are a mere nothing compared to the patients who are fighting for their lives.”

Higginbotham’s ultimate goal is to get students more interested in aviation. She spends time on “discovery flights,” which give hopeful aviation students an inside look into her world.

 “I just love to get other people excited about aviation and share my love and passion for flying with them. I enjoy stimulating aviation and helping those in need, as I see no better way to build my hours,” she said.

Higginbotham is in the process of completing her commercial pilot’s license at Flightline Air Service in Pineville.  She plans to become a flight instructor and to obtain her certified flight instructor designations before graduating in May.

“I cannot wait to inspire new pilots as my flight instructor has for me, and share my passion for aviation with them as their instructor,” she said.

“After I graduate with my bachelor’s degree, I plan on obtaining my Master’s in Business Administration at ULM. My educational goal is to attend Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and get my Ph.D. in Aviation. I know that this is a lot of education that is costly, but I believe a good student, worker, and pilot is always learning. I have so much passion for teaching others about aviation that I can see myself opening my own flight school. I truly believe that this is my goal and in time I will accomplish it.”

For more information about ULM Aviation, visit

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Northeast State Community College will offer 2-year aviation program

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. — Those interested in a career in aviation may want to take a look at a new two-year program that started this fall at Northeast State Community College.

The program, which will offer additional classes come spring 2015, came about through the Northeast Tennessee Aviation Education Initiative. Hank Somers, a co-founder of the initiative, presented detailed information about the program to the Tri-Cities Airport Authority this week.

Somers along with co-founders state Rep. Tony Shipley and Richard Blevins of Bell Helicopter began the planning process for the initiative last July. In the beginning of talks for the initiative, Blevins said Bell Helicopter couldn’t find enough trained people from the Tri-Cities area to employ and the problem needed to be fixed, according to Somers.

“What we’re interested in rather than those students finding jobs somewhere else, we want to attract aviation-related industries,” he said. “We want to provide jobs for graduates right here and we want to have economic impact.”

The founders decided that the aviation curriculum would fill the needs for craftsmen and promote aviation.

“We realized for this to be successful, you don’t just put a curriculum in place and put a pamphlet out and tell the kids, ‘Come on over. We’ve got something for you to do,’” Somers said. “What we want to do is get back in the high schools and start talking to kids to have a passion for aviation. This would be a feeder of the pipeline into aviation curriculum. Also, if we’re going to do that we need to promote aviation and so we have in mind another group that would promote aviation, especially to kids, to create a passion.”

Blevins suggested that a helicopter simulator could be taken to schools as part of the promotion.

“We want to work with Clay Walker and Networks to help promote Tri-Cities Airport and also aviation,” he said. “We have in mind region aviation jobs here, region aviation impact.”

He noted that graduates of the program don’t have to use their learned skills in aviation; the skills can also be used in auto repair, the building trade, electrical work and sheet metal work.

Somers believes that the program is an opportunity for students who work with their hands to “make a good living for their families in high technology if we can all pull together and put the support mechanisms in place.”

Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable believes the initiative is outstanding.

“It’s started off on the right foot and can’t be anything but good,” he said.

The mission of the initiative is to promote work force development by fostering the advancement of aviation-related skills. The vision for the initiative is for Northeast Tennessee to become a national leader for aviation high technology with a highly trained work force and an emphasis on craftsmanship.

Somers and the co-founders hope a four-year program will be offered at East Tennessee State University in the future, but that part of the plan is not being worked on yet, he said. ETSU is currently part of the steering team for the initiative.

Other goals for the future include a Northeast State flight school targeted for 2016 and the promotion of aviation to K-12 students with presentations at schools in Bristol, Johnson City, Washington County, Tennessee, Unicoi, Johnson and Carter counties.

“We think this is a very exciting opportunity for aviation education and economic development,” Somers said. “We think this is really exciting for the airport. If we can all pull together, I think there’s some aviation support here that can help us all to help develop this airport, which is such a wonderful facility.”

He mentioned that the close proximity of Northeast State to the airport is also a plus.

Tri-Cities Airport Director Patrick Wilson said he believes the initiative meets the need Bell Helicopter has expressed “of providing more formalized training programs to supply its work force needs.”

“If in any way that initiative can make use of the airport facilities, whether it be pilot training or anything related to that is part of our goal,” he said. “… It plays in so well with our aviation park, which is designed for aerospace industry to move into. One of the most important things those industries look for is a trained and available work force so the aviation initiative really meets one of the primary selection criteria that an aerospace company would be looking at to attract them to our aviation park area on the airport.”

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