Saturday, November 01, 2014

Public Charters: Victoria Regional Airport (KVCT) shows off new airline, plane

Katie McConnell couldn't stop smiling Saturday afternoon.

"I've never won anything before," the Victoria resident said.

McConnell was one of dozens from the community who attended Victoria Regional Airport's open house to show off the new air service provider and its plane that will take passengers from Victoria to Dallas and Austin beginning Sunday.

She was among an even smaller group of people who won raffle drawings and free round-trip flights.

McConnell's experience is part of airport officials' way of having a fresh start with flyers.

It began with the open house drawing in community members to see local elected officials and some campaigning, airport and airline officials, and enjoy free food and drink, prizes and the new plane on display. The airport and local economic development officials hosted a ribbon cutting for new airline Public Charters, which will fly to Austin and Dallas.

Plagued in the past by maintenance and logistics issues, ticketing problems and canceled flights with the previous air service provider, airport manager Jason Milewski said he looked at the open house as a rare opportunity to connect with the public.

"This is the first opportunity in many years to provide the level of service that meets their expectations," he said.

McConnell, who experienced some of those issues in the past, said she was thrilled about seeing the new plane and traveling in it.

"The plane is gorgeous," she said. "Really excited about flying to Austin rather than Houston."

Victoria resident Ina Elizondo also checked out the plane, a BAE Jetstream 3200, which seats 19 passengers. She plans to use the service.

"It's not crowded," she said. "It's not claustrophobic. It's got a lot of room. Pretty plane."

It's vital to be able to provide air travel service in Victoria, said Randy Vivian, president of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

"Now, I can fly for $200," he said. "It's a huge cost-saving and time-saving convenience for the citizens of Victoria."


• For Sunday, Monday and Tuesday - Victoria to DFW: departs at 6:50 a.m., arrives at 8:10 a.m.; DFW to Victoria: departs at 12:30 p.m., arrives at 1:50 p.m.

• Beginning Wednesday, daily service, except Saturdays - Victoria to Austin to Dallas: departs at 6 a.m., arrives in Austin 6:40 a.m.; departs Austin at 7:10 a.m., arrives in Dallas at 8:10 a.m.; DFW to Austin to Victoria: departs at 12:30 p.m., arrives in Austin at 1:30 p.m.; departs Austin at 2 p.m., arrives in Victoria at 2:40 p.m.

• Also beginning Wednesday, there will be three additional weekly rotations to Austin on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays - Victoria to Austin: departs at 3:10 p.m., arrives at 3:50 p.m.; Austin to Victoria: departs at 4:20 p.m., arrives at 5 p.m.

SOURCE: Victoria Regional Airport

Victoria Regional Airport flights to Austin, Dallas

First flights begin Sunday

How to book a flight: Tickets are available through the airport, online at and several travel websites, including Orbitz, CheapOAir and BCD Travel.

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Step toward eviction taken to get MidairUSA to pay rent • Griffiss International Airport (KRME), Rome, Oneida County, New York

Oneida County is putting legal pressure on MidairUSA over back rent for facilities it uses at Griffiss International Airport.

The county says Midair, an aircraft refurbishing and modification operation, owes $663,224 in unpaid rent and other charges, including heat. There have been conversations and correspondence going back several months in an effort to resolve the matter, but on Friday morning the county formally initiated legal action in hopes of moving the action. The notices served on Midair yesterday give the county the right to start eviction proceedings in 30 days involving one hangar if there’s no resolution to the situation before then, said County Attorney Peter M. Rayhill.

Midair President William Moore said Friday afternoon he wants to work with the county, expressing hope that he and the county can come to an understanding. While he questions some of the charges claimed by the county, he does not dispute his company owes money. There has been talk of a payment plan, including interest, being devised.

“I thought we had it worked out,” he said of paying off the back rent over time. He said he hopes the notices are just a tactic to move the two sides toward an agreement in the next month.

Nonetheless, Moore is worried that Friday’s notices will create unnecessary angst among his 178 employees. He says there’s work for them, saying there’s a Boeing 747 being worked on now and a 777 waiting to be done. There’s also a 777 in front of a Midair hangar that’s finished.

The company official said his problem is that Russia-based Transaero Airlines, Midair’s main customer, is making partial payments on already completed work as a result of the jittery situation in Crimea and problems in the Russian economy.

The value of the Russian ruble has declined, making it harder for Russian companies to do business in the U.S. Moore estimated the ruble is trading 43 against the dollar. The ratio used to be 7 to 1, he said.

Also, for the same reasons, the airline has canceled plane modification work this year.

Midair now mostly does repairs on Transaero aircraft. The company turned more revenue on interior refurbishments. Transaero was Midair’s sole customer until earlier this year.

The company occupies three hangars at Griffiss: two are covered by leases while the third one has none. In the latter case, there was a lease on a nose dock that expired and was not renewed. Eviction from the nose dock would be easiest for the county to pursue because there’s no lease in place. The nose dock is the smallest of the three hangars used by Midair.

The county sent a demand letter in July, but the company remains behind on its payments. The letter neither listed steps that might be taken if there was no response nor contained a deadline for a reply. Nor did this letter start the clock ticking on a legal process, unlike the notices delivered on Friday.

County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said the county has tried to work with the company so as not to jeopardize the ongoing operation but at the some time resolve the unpaid rent to protect taxpayers’ interests.

“We had to protect ourselves the right way,” he said of the decision to initiate a legal process. “I wish we we weren’t at this point. We’ve given him as much leeway as we could possibly give.”

Nonetheless, Picente says he’s open to talking with Midair in the next month to see if an agreement can be reached, “but it has got to be better than what’s been discussed.”

Moore said he’d be willing to give second position to the county behind a lender on Midair-owned assets at Griffiss so the county could secure its interests. He says the value of the asset exceeds what’s owed on it.

Midair also has an operation in Melbourne, Fla. Some operations were moved there from Griffiss, where Midair has had a presence for about a decade. Moore said he has reached a payment plan with the Melbourne airport officials.

Large aircraft maintenance has been a major focus of the county’s effort to make Griffiss an economic engine. Griffiss became the county airport in 2007.

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Farmers could soon be flying drones over fields

MOULTRIE, Ga. — The next big thing for Georgia farmers could be drones.

State economic developers say Georgia's agricultural industry could be one of the areas with the most promising potential for the launch of a commercial drone usage, and they're intent on showing farmers why.

In the town of Moultrie nestled in a farm-rich region in the southern part of the state, local aerospace firms flew their drones over fields of cotton to show off the technology to farmers attending the recent Sunbelt Ag Expo.

Drones could offer farmers multi-spectral images of their crops to show which plants need more fertilizer, more water or more nitrogen — an advance in what's known as "precision agriculture." And that's worth a lot, farmers say.

"You can see much more than you can with the naked eye," said Joseph Driver, a Fort Valley farm manager.

While the Moultrie demonstration flights were done in the name of research, flying drones over farms for commercial purposes isn't legal yet.

Two Georgia businesses hope to change that, and in recent months they submitted applications for commercial drone operations. The Federal Aviation Administration in September approved the first six companies for commercial unmanned aircraft systems, all in movie and TV production. It's yet to be seen which industries will be the focus for the next few rounds of approvals, but agriculture is a logical choice because it could involve drones flown in rural locations away from populated areas.

The approvals of individual companies' operations are an interim solution, as drone enthusiasts around the country await a blanket FAA rule to allow commercial operations of small unmanned aircraft. The process has been long delayed but is expected to start by the end of 2014, followed by public comments, and take at least a year to complete.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International estimates the unmanned aircraft industry in Georgia could generate 2,880 jobs by 2025 and yield nearly $280 million in economic impact.

At Fenster Farms, which grows corn, soybeans, peanuts, cotton, wheat and pecans on about 2,000 acres in Fort Valley, owner Lanny Fenster sees a big opportunity. He says drones can monitor crops better than "crop scouts" who walk the fields.

"You can find a spot with a disease" with the help of temperature sensory imagery and ultraviolet photography, he said. "We looked through the camera and we could tell exactly what was happening. ... We went out to the exact spot. We couldn't tell by looking."

That is extremely valuable information, Fenster said.

"Disease — it starts someplace," he said. "If you could just treat that area, you save on pesticides and make all the people in town happy." And, he added, you get a better crop.

Fenster is thinking of buying a drone, or going in with two or three other farmers to buy one together.

"We grow over $4 billion worth of peanuts in Georgia every year," said Steve Justice, director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Aerospace. "If we can provide a tool that increases their yield 1 percent — 1 percent of $4 billion is big money, and that's the real impact."

Other farmers may depend on crop consultants that could operate drones for them. The most sophisticated systems, with multiple sensors for a variety of UV and other imagery, may cost up to $100,000.

"I do think it's the wave of the future as far as gathering more information," said David Spaid, a crop consultant in Metter.

Meanwhile, one Georgia company, Cartersvillebased Phoenix Air, aims to start the first drone airline in Georgia.

Phoenix Air — whose claim to fame is transporting Ebola patients in a souped-up, disease-containment Gulfstream jet — has created a division called Phoenix Air Unmanned and applied for federal approval for drone operations, including in agriculture.

And Norcross-based Vision Services Group, operating as VSG Unmanned, is also seeking federal approval for its own drone operations focused on agriculture and forestry.

The company says it is "positioned to refine and advance the technologies available to the agricultural industry."

While the most familiar drones are quadrocopters (helicopters with four rotors), VSG Unmanned plans to launch winged aircraft by catapult that can rapidly soar over fields to capture images of 1,000 acres in one flight. The company demonstrated to interested farmers at the Sunbelt Ag Expo what its bright orange, aerodynamic unmanned plane could do.

"We've gone out on the field with farmers to see what their actual needs are," said VSG's Ben Worley, a former drone operator and mission commander for the Air Force. "We really just saw a need, a growing need, for better data."

Stockbridge-based Guided Systems Technologies showed off its unmanned helicopter that can take multi-spectral images of fields to target problem areas. The firm is also developing a drone with a spray system for targeted pesticide treatment.

Sharing a booth with VSG Unmanned and Guided Systems at the ag expo was Atlanta-based unmanned service provider Flight Guardian, as well as the Georgia Tech Research Institute. Participation of the unmanned aircraft industry at the expo was coordinated by the state Center of Innovation for Aerospace and Center of Innovation for Agribusiness.

"We've identified agriculture early on as one of the potential early adopters of the technology," said Justice.

His center has invested $350,000 in the development of unmanned aircraft systems over the past five years.

As progress toward commercial drone operations accelerates, state lawmakers are expected to take up the issue of privacy protections during next year's legislative session.

"It's timely at this point for the Legislature to act so that operators in the state know what the rules of the road are," Justice said.

All told, the Federal Aviation Administration has estimated as many as 8,000 commercial drones could be flying by 2020.

"The next 12 months is going to be a real turning point" for the commercial unmanned aircraft market, Justice said. "Next year, we'll be talking about all the different commercial operations that have started to happen."

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Southwest says so long, Denver • City researches ways to replace lost flights

Amarillo passengers booking nonstop flights to Denver now have only one airline choice instead of two.

Southwest Airlines ran its last direct flight to Denver on Saturday, narrowing options for travelers even as the city of Amarillo looks for ways to increase air service and air carriers grow more focused on the bottom line.

“Airlines nowadays are not looking to be the biggest market share at an airport but really (at) what routes make the most money,” Amarillo Aviation Director Sara Freese said.

Record airfares, packed planes and lower fuel costs helped American Airlines earn a record $942 million in the June-through-September third quarter, with Southwest posting a 27 percent increase in net income to $329 million in the same period, according to an Oct. 23 Associated Press report.

“From an airport’s perspective, we need to fine-tune how we do business and really look at becoming lean with the services we offer, in terms of efficiency,” Freese said.

“When our costs go down, that goes into the rate base for the airlines, so their costs go down.”

Amarillo allocated about $30,000 for an air service development study by Trillion Aviation, an Austin aviation consulting firm, Freese said.

Half the cost will be paid from airport revenues and the other half will be paid by Amarillo Economic Development Corp.

“It’s important we make the best business case (to airlines) showing a demand for their routes,” she said.

More than 279,743 passengers departed on flights from Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport through September, down 2 percent year over year, according to airport data.

Southwest boardings, through September, dropped nearly 7 percent, to almost 150,640.

But, in that time, American Eagle boardings picked up 3 percent to nearly 80,050, and United Airlines boardings rose 4 percent to about 46,170.

The October expiration of the Wright Amendment freed Southwest to fly nonstop anywhere in the United States, ending its need to stop in Amarillo en route to Denver and leading the airline to whack those flights on Saturday.

Golden, Colo., businessman Fritz Krembs booked a United flight from Denver for an upcoming trip to Amarillo, a trip he had made a few times a year for seven years on Southwest.

“I’ll be heading down there on somebody else and we’ll see how it goes,” said Krembs, an engineer/geologist for Trihydro Corp. “It looks like most people (in Colorado) will be either continuing to use Southwest and routing through Dallas or going another way. But we’ll still be heading down there, one way or the other.”

Krembs estimated three hours of travel time, including parking and security, for a direct flight from Denver, as opposed to seven hours for a flight through Dallas.

The elimination of two Southwest direct hops to Denver, plus one flight to Dallas cut in June, meant a loss of almost 400 daily outgoing Southwest seats, Freese said.

Yet the loss was partially offset by about 100 daily Amarillo-to-Dallas seats, when American Eagle began using larger jets in June, Freese said.

Airlines’ fleet upsizing can have both positive and negative consequences for smaller airports, said Dan Benzon, president of the city’s consultant, Trillion Aviation.

“There is a threat, if you will, to smaller markets, and that is that some of these 50-seat-type regional jets are going away,” Benzon said. “But what you’ll see in airports such as Amarillo is you may lose some of the 50-seat jets, but they replace those, in most cases, with 76-seaters.

“So, in some cases you might have less frequency (of flights) but bigger planes.”

Trillion’s study, which should be completed this month, digs into Department of Transportation data to see how many passengers are on each Amarillo flight and “how much the payments were for those flights,” Benzon said.

“We’re taking a look basically at the health of each one of those flights — which ones are strong and which ones are marginal, from an airline perspective,” he said.

Trillion gathered input from Amarillo company leaders and Amarillo Economic Development Corp., about business growth and needs, Benzon said.

“We’ve seen some smaller communities get stronger with air service, based on what the needs are,” he said, using North Dakota’s experience with increased oil and gas activity as an example.

AEDC helped fund the study because of the airport’s importance to the city and area economy, AEDC President and CEO Buzz David said. Rick Husband airport generates an estimated $333 million in regional economic activity, according to a 2011 Texas
Department of Transportation report, the most recent available.

“There won’t be a (Southwest) flight to Denver. It looks like there’s going to be one flight a day to Las Vegas, at least for now, but who knows how long that will last?” David said. “It’s important to the traveling business community to have an understanding of what our market looks like.

“The biggest thing that concerns us is, if we don’t fill the seats, then we’re going to lose more flights.”

The study also will look at “leakage,” passengers Amarillo’s airport loses to Lubbock, Albuquerque or Oklahoma City, Benzon said.

Trillion will use credit card and other data to pinpoint tickets purchased by ZIP code and passenger destinations.

That information could be helpful in making a case that demand exists for other routes, he said.

Few flights departing Amarillo land anywhere but Dallas, although United still ferries passengers direct to Houston and Denver, and Southwest has kept a daily nonstop to Las Vegas on its schedule.

United will reduce from three to two its number of flights to Houston on Wednesday and Thursday in January.

But the airline is making such reductions networkwide in January because travel dips seasonally, Freese said, adding that she expects the flights to return when travel traditionally picks up.

The research also will discuss incentives that could help attract airlines to Amarillo.

The airport itself could waive landing fees for as long as two years for a particular route, a type of incentive the Federal Aviation Administration allows airports to offer, Benzon said.

The FAA bars airports from offering subsidies to airlines, but a community can do so, generally through its economic development entity, Benzon said.

“You’re actually paying that airline to make sure they have a certain amount of profitability, in other words, buying a certain amount of seats on that plane,” he said. “That is becoming much more common, but we (Trillion) are not big advocates of it because in most cases ... as soon as the money runs out the service goes away.”

AEDC spent about $3.5 million in subsidy payments to keep American jet service in Amarillo over a four-year period in the 1990s, but local officials opted to let the controversial subsidies lapse.

“I think we’re done with that strategy,” David said.

“I think the smart way to look at providing any type of support for air service, whether it’s at the community level or the airport level, is to look for ways to provide solutions for the airlines that are long-term for their operating costs.”

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Arizona National Guard confirms flight caught on camera dropping candy

FOX 10 News | 

 PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Was it a trick or treat? That is what neighbors are wondering after seeing a military helicopter dip just above a Phoenix neighborhood to drop off Halloween candy.

"Somebody said that helicopter dropped some packages and go, oh my God, now what is this, some cartel? What is this," said one neighbor.

After FOX 10 went searching for an answer the Arizona National Guard confirmed it's one of their Black Hawks. They also confirmed what neighbors said yesterday that it flew over 36th St & Camelback Road to deliver candy to a private party.

The Arizona National Guard said that the flight broke their rules.

In a statement they said; "The incident was not sanctioned by the Arizona National Guard and will be investigated further to ensure it does not occur again…The Arizona National Guard does not authorize nor condone the use of military aircraft or equipment for personal use."

"When I came out it was nose down, and it was definitely military," said a neighbor.

The National Guard said the aircraft took off from the Papago Park Military Reservation to go to a training mission in Deer Valley training, but along the way the helicopter made the stop.

For some it was a surprise full of treats. For others, more like a dangerous Halloween fright.

"I didn't know if it was going to be a crash, or an attack, no clue," said the neighbor.

The National Guard is not releasing the names of the air crew members involved.

Each crew member has been suspended from flying as the National Guard investigates.

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Civil Air Search and Rescue Association: Searchers staying aloft

Les Hall and Rick Weatherhead of CASARA are among the dedicated volunteers with the Sidney-based air search and rescue organization. — image credit: Steven Heywood/News staff

There’s a lot more to searching for lost souls than just sticking your head out of a window and taking a look.

It’s a bit of an art, or at least Its a skill that needs to be taught, practiced and honed. And if you’re searching from a small plane, those skills need to be sharp — someone’s life may depend on it.

Teaching those skills is up to people like Rick Weatherhead and Les Hall, volunteers with the Sidney branch of the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA).

They held an open house Oct. 24 at the Shell Aero Center at the Victoria International Airport to thank their supporters for providing a new, larger training space. That simple classroom-like area is where the 30-plus civilian volunteers keep their navigation, spotting and piloting skills up to date.

Weatherhead, a Chief Spotter, says these volunteers take to the skies across the south Island whenever there’s an initial call for a search. It could be a lost hiker or an elderly person who cannot be located right away.

Volunteers are called out and rush to the airport and the Victoria Flying Club, who generously donate the use of their small airplanes for aerial search and rescue.

Hall, a pilot and navigator who is retired from the military, said CASARA is called whenever the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Esquimalt doesn’t need military search and rescue out of 442 Squadron in Comox. Should CASARA get involved and find someone or something, said Hall, then the JRCC would call in a ground rescue team or the helicopter or other aircraft from up-Island.

In essence, CASARA does the searching part while another group does the actual rescuing.

You don’t have to be a pilot to be a member of CASARA, said Weatherhead. A volunteer, he continued, does need to have the time and dedication to put into training and come to it with a commitment to safety. He said that’s their top job — to ensure crews remain safe while in the air.

“We need to know and have the skills to be able to survive, just in case,” he said.

Training takes place regularly to ensure members stay current. There’s a navigation refresher course coming up in November that will introduce new technology and GPS training to the group. Pilots, too, need to keep current.

The one thing we live by is safety,” said Weatherhead. “We work with teams to take the necessary precautions. Safety must be taught and taught again.”

CASARA can be found in every province, said Hall, under the umbrella of the Department of National Defense. In B.C., CASARA is also known as PEP Air. Those two organizations formed the air search and rescue model that is now flown across the country. And since it is a volunteer organization, much like the Saanich Peninsula’s marine search and rescue organizations, it relies on fund-raising and community support to stay aloft.

“Thank God for Gerry Manse (Victoria Flying Club),” said Weatherhead. “He’s been very good to us.”

He also thanks the Norrie Family (VIH Aviation Group) for their generosity in providing the training room.

To learn more, visit

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Muskoka’s economic woes and the waste of a valuable asset • Muskoka Airport, Ontario, Canada

DEAR EDITOR — I feel fortunate that my family spent almost all of my youth/teen summers at a rented cottage in Muskoka. Alas, circa 1962 the owner sold the cottage; so, my Muskoka summers were over — but never forgotten!

Forty-two years later my wife and I purchased a small Muskoka cottage, and three years ago we moved into it full time.

Our love of Muskoka is slightly offset by the discovery that local towns appear stuck in the past and in serious need of revitalization. There are empty storefronts and buildings almost everywhere we look. It is evident that Muskoka needs to foster suitable economic development.

In summer our population increases multi-fold, and while some businesses manage to prosper, others merely manage to survive or fail. That’s not good enough!

In the fall many businesses start reducing hours and some even close completely until spring, leaving residents with fewer choices. Without good and challenging year-round jobs, the younger generation will leave and over time the tax base will erode, placing higher burdens on those who remain. Once the younger generation leaves to find worthwhile jobs elsewhere, it is unlikely they will return — at least not during their productive years.

As the average age increases, a greater percentage becomes users rather than providers of services and many become unable to afford the taxes and maintain their homes and cottages; so, they too will move away. Who will replace them? Not younger folks if there are no good jobs here.

There are and will be many issues facing our newly elected councils, but I believe that economic development should be one of the higher priorities for all townships with the district. We are already in serious need and it will take, even under the most willing of councils and aggressive but imaginative and intelligent planning, a significant amount of time to affect actual changes that would result in Muskoka attracting significant businesses to create the badly needed jobs.

Muskoka currently has tourism and retail, which no doubt could be expanded, but there is not a lot of industry to provide larger numbers of jobs. Of course we need to attract the right kinds of businesses to appropriate locations within the district. Nobody wants heavy industry with stacks spewing clouds of smoke, toxic or not, but that does not preclude light manufacturing, training institutions, aviation, courier, warehousing and distribution, or many other businesses. I truly believe there are ways that we can have economic development without destroying the natural beauty of Muskoka, and surely the district is large enough that it could be done without disrupting the peaceful retreats that make us happy to live here and that keep our summer population returning year after year.

Attracting businesses to the area will require a combination of several things, including incentives. A proper transportation network is one of those requirements, including roads, rail and air. There is a need to move people, materials and goods.

Although I am not a pilot I did have a 42-year career, almost all of which was in the aviation industry; so, air is the issue I shall address. While with Transport Canada early in my career, I installed equipment at many airports – including Muskoka. Over four decades with both Transport Canada and NAV Canada I travelled to airports in several countries and managed major aviation-related projects at several Canadian airports.

So, after moving to the area and revisiting Muskoka Airport, I was surprised to see that there is still no paved east-west runway. To put my surprise in perspective, consider that with similar prevailing westerly and gusting winds, Toronto Pearson has two north-south runways but three east-west runways, and Toronto Billy Bishop has a single north-south runway and two east-west runways. The point is, except where geographically impossible, airport primary runways always align as closely as practical with the prevailing winds.

Muskoka has a very long and excellent north-south runway, and its value cannot be overstated, but a paved east-west runway adequately long to accommodate business/commercial aircraft would be very important for economic development in this area. Businesses, to establish themselves here, would need assurance that their own aircraft, courier aircraft, visitor aircraft, etc., could land on schedule at Muskoka regardless of the wind conditions.

I have noted recent letters and opinions in the local newspapers advocating for an east-west runway. However, during this current election campaign, I did not hear or read of any candidate espousing airport development and a proper east-west runway as a priority. I wonder why, especially as the federal government would no doubt be willing to provide funding for airport improvements if the district were to put forward a viable plan. Is anyone currently working on such a plan? If not, why not? If so, why are we not hearing about it?

We are currently wasting a valuable asset! Hopefully the newly elected councils will take long overdue action to correct this.

Paul Smith,

Walker’s Point

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Consultant: Helicopters failed to follow flight paths in East Hampton

Most helicopter pilots did not follow agreed-upon flight paths intended to reduce noise over the East End in 2013, according to analysts hired by East Hampton Town. 

 Just 15 percent of flights adhered to the five voluntary routes into and out of East Hampton Airport, consultants told the town board Thursday.

The conclusion was in a lengthy report meant to guide the town board in crafting policies to curb noise next year.

The low compliance rate spurred angry reaction from some residents and elected officials.

"I think those of us who live in this community know that voluntary compliance has been a failure," said Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) to the dozens who attended the meeting. "It's been a failure for a long time."

But pilots and a former airport manager said the data drew an inaccurate picture.

"We felt that the pilots were being extremely compliant, up to 90 percent," Jim Brundige, who managed the airport for 10 years and retired last month, said in an interview Friday. "It just depends on how you measure it. Our measurements were maybe plus or minus a couple hundred feet."

Brundige said the consultants may not have accounted for changes he and pilots made by fine-tuning the routes at least twice last summer. But he also said bad weekend weather that season may have forced pilots off routes more than usual.

Les Blomberg of the Vermont nonprofit Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, who analyzed the data for the town, said Friday he used the routes the town provided and took pains to be fair to pilots.

East Hampton hired Young Environmental Sciences Inc. of Manhasset in July to chart flight paths and noise levels in a 10-mile radius of the airport. The company partnered with Blomberg. They said compliance ranged from 4 percent on one route to 38 percent on another.

Friends of East Hampton Airport, a coalition that includes helicopter pilots who ferry passengers between Manhattan and the Hamptons, described the data as "deeply flawed" in a statement Thursday.

"We always take noise concerns extremely seriously and will continue to work with communities to find common sense solutions," said Loren Riegelhaupt a spokesman for the group.

East Hampton and pilots have negotiated flight paths for about a decade to direct flights over less-populated areas. Residents have complained the routes just move the noise.

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Captain Doron: RV7 test flight #5 (part 6)

Published on November 1, 2014 

Austrian arrested at Sangster International Airport for illegal firearm

KINGSTON, Jamaica – An Austrian man was arrested and charged Friday after a firearm, ammunition and several illegal weapons were found in his suitcase at the Sangster International Airport.

He is 47-year-old Thomas Roessler, business consultant of Vicnno, Austria.

Reports from the Sangster International Airport Police are that Rossler arrived in the island on Wednesday, October 29, but was unable to locate one of his suitcases, which he reported missing to airport officials.

His suitcase was later found by an airline agent and a routine search was carried out by the Custom Enforcement Team which lead to the seizure of one .45 US Army model pistol (no firing pin), an empty magazine, one round of HP80 calibre catridge,  four knives including two daggers, one small handsaw and a pair of binoculars.

Roessler was arrested and charged for illegal possession of firearm and ammunition and is to appear in the Montego Bay Resident Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, November 5.

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Flight and ferry service impacted by storm • Barnstable Municipal Airport (KHYA), Hyannis, Massachusetts

HYANNIS- Due to the high winds brought on by the coastal storm and runway closure, Island Air, Nantucket Air and Cape Air will not be flying out of Barnstable Municipal Airport through Saturday, according to airport operations.

The airport and pilots will reassess conditions Sunday morning.

Flights are still arriving and departing from Provincetown Municipal Airport.

The Steamship Authority and Hy-Line Cruises report that ferry service to Nantucket has been cancelled, including the 6:30 AM Sunday ferry,  due to the storm.

Saturday’s Ferry service to Martha’s Vineyard has not been impacted by the storm at this time.

Nelson: Firing Delavan was wrong • Coeur d'Alene Airport (KCOE), Idaho

JAI NELSON/Guest Opinion

Recently, regarding issues at the airport, there have been reporting and comments attributed to me which are inaccurate. I did not support Mr. Delavan's dismissal. I was not in attendance in the meeting when he was dismissed. Furthermore, I do not support how the dismissal was handled. Mr. Delavan is a long-term county employee who has served as the airport director for many years. He has been a stalwart advocate for the airport. During the past 10 years, he has overseen nearly $18 million in FAA grant funds for airport improvement projects. Under his direction, our airport is becoming much closer to operating as a self-sustaining department. In the past few years, fee-based revenues are steadily increasing and the airport is much less reliant on taxpayers for operational support.

In the last four years, I do not recall receiving a single complaint regarding services from any of our airport tenants or aviation customers. In fact, one tenant recently stated that our airport is "one of the best airports, from a user and operational standpoint, of its size" and that our airport is an "economic engine" whose tenants may move elsewhere if they are not a welcomed and valued member of our business community.

Concerning the hiring process for a new airport director, I've reached out to our volunteer Airport Advisory Board stating:

"I feel it's vital for our Airport Advisory Board to participate and have extensive input into the airport director hiring process. Furthermore, it's inappropriate for the current commissioners to fill this position as two commissioner seats will have new members in early January. I'm asking you to support my position and voice this support at an upcoming meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 4 p.m. in our boardroom."

There are several challenging issues regarding the long-term vision and plan for our airport. The mission of the airport is be responsive to the community it serves. I support this mission and I'm currently advocating for a collaborative approach to find consensus on vehicular roadway and air transportation conflicts.

I'm seeking resolution on long-range planning goals for roadway and runway conflicts in order to determine if roadways should bend, or runways should not extend. A future runway extension is proposed when and if there is a demand for a longer airstrip. In the end, the FAA will make the final decision for funding airport improvement projects.

Planning for an airport is crucial as our community grows and should be flexible as the community's vision and needs change. This year, I've been involved in a transportation planning reconciliation process and the information presented from all jurisdictions was insightful and provided a better perspective of their areas of concern. This process is continuing.

Currently, I'm speaking with potential aviation planning consultants to facilitate public outreach and define a practical process for moving forward to reach a positive resolution in order for our airport to be "responsive to the community it serves."


$800,000 campaign question: Who'll call the shots at the Santa Monica Municipal Airport (KSMO)?


On Tuesday, Santa Monica voters are choosing new city council members and playing a role in the elections of a new county supervisor and U.S. Representative. But one of the most contentious and expensive ballot battles in the city may decide the future of the Santa Monica Municipal Airport.

Pilots and jet owners, like actor Harrison Ford, love the Santa Monica Airport.  They see it as an economic engine and an important and convenient place to land and store a private plane.  But many residents of the neighborhoods around it hate the noise and jet fumes it generates. 

It's a debate that's continued for years, and it’s fair to say that the seven member Santa Monica City Council has sided more recently with the angry residents, who either want to shut the airport down, or at least cut back the traffic from larger jets. Earlier this year, the council voted unanimously to continue pursuing control of the airport land and begin looking at options for closing it after July of next year.  

When they head to the polls on Tuesday, Santa Monica voters will consider two competing airport ballot measures and decide who gets to call the shots at the controversial facility. 

Measure D

With total campaign contributions topping $800,000, Measure D is backed by the National Business Aviation Association and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. The two national pro-aviation groups have kicked in more than a half a million dollars to support the measure, which would require a public vote before any major change at the airport is approved.

"I think it’s important for all of us as pilots to help the people of our community understand the basic issue here," said Christian Fry, a pilot, Santa Monica resident and member of the Santa Monica Airport Association. Fry was speaking at a town hall style forum organized by the supporters of Measure D.  "Do you want the future of this airport to be decided by seven people,  or do you think it has value for this to be a citywide debate?"

"The airport is important for the local community for its business impact, but also is part of a national network," said National Business Aviation Association President Ed Bolen at the same event. "At the present time, there's a lack of airport capacity in Southern California."

Measure LC

Measure LC is the rival initiative and it's supported by the Committee for Local Control of Santa Monica Airport Land. Chairman John Fairweather lives in Sunset Park, the neighborhood adjacent to the airport to the north and west.

Fairweather says Measure D will handcuff the Santa Monica City Council, not just on whether or not to close the airport, but other changes. For an example, he points to a lawsuit filed against the city  a year after a  plane landing at the airport crashed into a hangar, killing four people on board. As the Santa Monica Mirror reported, the lawsuit says the hangar was built too close to the runway.

"If the city were to say, 'Okay, we have to take that hangar away, we have to move the hangar,' that’s a change to aviation land: the city would have to have a general election to fix that problem,” says Fairweather. 

 So Fairweather’s group backs Measure LC. It would give the Santa Monica City Council authority to manage the airport and even to close part or all of it; but a public vote would still be required to approve any commercial development of airport land.

Fairweather says his group has raised around $130,000 to support Measure LC, and they're not surprised at being outspent by the campaign for Measure D.

"It's the many versus the money, and we have to win," he says.

The vote will take place against the backdrop of Santa Monica's ongoing battle with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for control over the airport's land. The agency has maintained that previous agreements obligate Santa Monica to operate the airport "in perpetuity," and so far, the federal courts have backed up the FAA.

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25 years for a dream to come true: First aircraft designed and built in Malta

The first designed and home-built aircraft, RP-Kestrel, is nearing completion. Aircraft enthusiast and hobbyist Reno Psaila has spent nearly 25 years working on this project in his spare time.

Reno Psaila, a 61-year-old graphic designer by profession, has always been fascinated with aircraft and over the past years designed and built a fully-fledged aircraft from scratch.

"The aircraft is a single engine propeller plane with a fixed undercarriage but very well faired to cut drag. It is totally built of composites like carbon fibre, Kevlar, E-glass and epoxy resins," Reno said.

So how did a graphic designer learn to design and build an aircraft? "Research," he said, "lots and lots of research."

He got his private pilot's license in 1984 and came up with the idea for the aircraft in 1986. "When I was 14, I told myself I wanted to build a big aircraft, however I really went for it in 1986."

"My first letter to Transport Malta was in 1986, which at the time went by another name, DCA. They told me these things weren't done in Malta, but I didn't let that stop me. At the time, they mainly dealt with Air Malta and a few private aircraft but things have changed since then. Today there are Microlight aircraft which are assembled here from kits; however they are not designed here."

He emphasized that Transport Malta is being cautious, but acknowledges that they have good reason for this, considering this would be the first craft designed and built here.

His love of flying all began when he was a boy, building model planes.

"When I was young, I used to build model aircraft. I remember building the first two then buying kits and redesigning the models myself. Then I built an aerobatic RC model aircraft from scratch which flew at 135 mph in 1984, quite fast for the time," he said.

"We took the prototype to Sicily and RC pilot Joe Pule placed fifth in the competition. Before building the full-sized RP-Kestrel I first constructed a one-third scale RC model to try out the flight characteristics. Building that took me around a year."

The design of this full-sized aircraft only deviated slightly from that model. "I wanted a fast sports aircraft and looking at it one can see its clean aerodynamic lines. Of course now we need to see how it performs in the air. The calculated speeds are pretty impressive for an engine of that size (118HP). The aircraft is calculated to stall at 48 knots and the design dive speed is close to 200 knots (228 mph). Basically if I dive at that speed the structure should not come apart. Ironically, during the flight test we need to reach that speed," he said. 2mph per horsepower is considered excellent performance in sport aircraft.

It all began in a garage

Construction began in Reno's single-car home garage, where he worked mostly on his own. He then moved to a larger garage, which saw the very first assembly of the plane.

The fuselage mold of the aircraft was completed at the end of 1989, he said. "A major decision surrounded the design of the wing section. I had received a lot of data from the United States on this," he said. "At the time, I was already a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association, the biggest one of its kind in the world, and through it I had access to NASA documents regarding wing sections. I don't believe I had email at that time so everything had to be done by post. The section I chose was actually the first ever computer designed light aircraft wing section in aviation history, which was done at Langley. It's still being used today of course."

Finally, at the end of last year he moved his project to the Malta Aviation Museum, where it was assembled and the first engine run was performed.

Structural static load tests of the wing and main components have been carried out successfully up to limit loads multiplied a safety factor of 150 per cent.

With regard to flight range, with just a pilot, the plane can fly for over 1,100 miles non-stop; however, with a passenger that drops down to around 600 miles he said. The plane also has baggage space behind the two seats and an additional compartment just behind the engine bay.

"I'm taking the project step by step and enjoying the whole process," he said. "I basically want to see the interest in such an aircraft once it has flown, although in fact I've already had some offers."

The bulk of construction was handled by Reno himself, with help from Dirk and Kirk, his sons. Ray Polidano, the Director of the Museum, his son David and the team of volunteers were also all very helpful. Of course, quite some interest is generated when visitors to the Museum see this new aircraft surrounded by aviation history and most stop and ask about it.

As regards reactions, people who came to know about this project have all been astonished how someone who is not an aircraft engineer has managed to design and build this aircraft, he said.


"The plane itself is done, however there's a lot of paperwork. This kind of aircraft can only receive a Permit to Fly since it is classified as an ANNEX II category aircraft," he said. "But, it's just as safe as a commercially certified aircraft," he explained.

Reno recently purchased a small T-hangar at Malta International Airport to shelter the plane from the elements where he hopes to move it early next year. Until then, the plane is housed in the main hangar of the Malta Aviation Museum at Ta Qali.

The future

"To buy the hangar, I had to buy the aircraft that came with it," he laughed. "More testing will be required of course, and I will have to prepare a flight-test program. This would require me bringing in a designated engineer from Transport Malta to check all the aircraft systems, and more engine-runs will be done as well. The flight-test program will need the approval of Transport Malta and the test pilot also has to be cleared by them," he added. "Although I do have a private pilot's license, I have put all the funds into building the plane and not flying. Apart from that, I don't think I have the necessary experience to test it myself so I'd rather have a test pilot to fly the initial hours on it."

"The flight-test program will probably take around a year. Once the program is complete, I'll need to present a report and upon approval, TM-CAD will issue the Permit to Fly."

As to when this process will be complete all depends on the speediness of TM-CAD, he explained. "They might need further information on certain parts and so on. You must keep in mind that this is the first time Transport Malta will be asked to certify an aircraft designed and built in Malta".

"Eventually, I may open up a small company to build planes like this in Malta, or just opt to sell the design rights."

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If planes failed like space shuttles, 272 would crash every day

WASHINGTON — If U.S. airlines had the same failure rate as the now-retired space shuttles, there’d be 272 fatal crashes a day.

As the investigation begins into the unmanned Orbital Sciences Corp. rocket that blew up seconds after liftoff this week, the history of space travel suggests such failures are neither rare nor unexpected.

“You have so much energy required to get out of the earth’s gravity field, you’re always essentially sitting on a bomb,” John Hansman, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in an interview. “You’re basically trying to have the bomb go off in a controlled way.”

Not only are rockets packed with explosive fuel, they are also complex machines made up of thousands of moving parts that can fail spectacularly over even a modest hiccup. It takes years to understand how systems may fail and where vulnerabilities lie, making it even more difficult to reduce risks as private companies get into the business of providing “space taxis” shuttling travelers and supplies into orbit.

Companies such as Virgin Galactic will have to address such risks before selling tickets to space travelers, Paul Ceruzzi, chairman of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum’s space history division, said in an interview.

“They have to address the safety issue very carefully,” Ceruzzi said.

The $200 million Antares rocket and spacecraft exploded in an orange plume over the Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s eastern shore on Oct. 28.

After an unspecified failure occurred seconds into the launch, Orbital’s engineers intentionally destroyed the craft, Frank Culbertson, an executive vice president for the Dulles, Virginia-based company, said at a news conference the night of the accident.

The rocket’s first stage is powered by a mix of kerosene and liquid oxygen. Its engines are the AJ-26, a refurbished version of Russian-made NK-33 models. The company has had issues with the engines and is speeding plans to move to a newer type, Orbital Chief Executive Officer Dave Thompson said Oct. 29 on a conference call with analysts.

Orbital, which has a $1.9 billion contract with NASA to supply the International Space Station, has a record of success that is “one of the best in the world,” Thompson said.

Out of 284 launches in more than 30 years, the company has succeeded 95 percent of the time, he said. The record improved to 96 percent in its 106 launches in the last 10 years, he said.

The overall unmanned rocket success rate is about the same, Ceruzzi said.

By comparison, U.S. airlines reported one fatal crash in the past five years, a success rate of 99.999998 percent.

Centennial, Colorado-based United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket, which hoisted a global-positioning satellite into space on Oct. 29, hasn’t had a launch failure in 50 flights since 2002, according to the company’s website.

While the Russian Soyuz rocket lifting two Galileo positioning satellites Aug. 22 for the European Space Agency didn’t fail as spectacularly as the Antares explosion, it put them into the wrong orbit where they may not be functional, according to the agency’s website.

Such mishaps are the price for space exploration and commerce, Ceruzzi said.

“Unless somebody invents warp drive or something else, the physics are just there,” he said. “To go from zero to 17,500 miles an hour in a very limited amount of time, iron clad rules of physics come into play and you can’t get around them.”

That speed, equal to 28,000 kilometers an hour, is needed to get an object into space. The amount of energy released to reach that speed causes bone-jarring vibrations, and extremely precise navigation and timing are required to ensure the rocket ends up on the correct path, he said.

The space shuttle, designed to carry large payloads into space and then glide back to earth so it could be reused, suffered two failures in its history from 1981 to 2011. Both were triggered by the violence of launch.

In 1986, one of shuttle Challenger’s two booster rockets developed a leak of hot gas that caused it to break apart and explode.

Columbia was destroyed in 2003 as it burned up while reentering earth’s atmosphere. Days earlier during its liftoff, a piece of foam had struck the shuttle’s heat shield with such force that it allowed hot gases to enter the orbiter’s left wing. The two accidents killed 14 crew members.

Engineers at NASA initially thought they had designed the shuttle to have a risk of failure of one in a thousand or better. Only after the accidents and a more thorough review of potential failures did the space agency’s engineers understand how risky it had actually been.

A NASA study concluded the chance of a failure on the shuttle’s first launch was one in 12, or 8.3 percent. Some of the other early launches were deemed even riskier, about 10 percent, according to the study.

“It is not uncommon for a final system design to present significantly more risk than its original designers expected due to what are known as ‘unknown unknowns,' “ NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel wrote in a report on Jan. 15. The group makes safety recommendations to the U.S. space agency.

At the end of the shuttle’s life, risks had been reduced to about one in 90 per flight. At that rate, 272 U.S. airliners would crash out of the average 24,000 flights a day.

By comparison, there has been one fatal accident on a U.S. passenger carrier since 2009 out of more than 50 million flights, according to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

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Clarence "Cap" Cornish: Fort Wayne man a key figure in aviation history

This photo shows the late Oscar Foellinger, then owner and publisher of The News-Sentinel, standing next to the Yankee Clipper, the plane he owned and Clarence "Cap" Cornish flew for him. (Courtesy photo)

His name hasn't been attached, in honor, to that of any local airport. But Clarence "Cap" Cornish did as much or more than others to promote flying in the Fort Wayne area.

His daughter, Ruth Ann Ingraham of Indianapolis, will share Cornish's story during a George R. Mather Lecture Series presentation at 2 p.m. Sunday at The History Center. Admission is free.

Ingraham recently published a book about her father, "'Cap' Cornish, Indiana Pilot: Navigating the Century of Flight."

"I thought this story needs to be told, and no one else is going to do it," Ingraham, 76, said during a telephone interview from her home. She always felt, as did her father, that he made a difference in aviation in Indiana.

Born in Canada, Cornish grew up in Fort Wayne and started his flying career at age 19 while training to be a U.S. military pilot during World War I. However, the war ended in 1918 before he had a chance to go overseas for combat duty.

Cornish returned to Fort Wayne, where he became a strong advocate for a city airport and local airmail postal service, Ingraham says in her book. He also took to the skies to perform acrobatics in air shows, compete in air races and to lead air tours and cruises, the latter of which helped promote air travel.

During this time, he also flew commercial aircraft, including serving as the pilot for the Yankee Clipper, the airplane owned by the Foellinger family, which operated The News-Sentinel newspaper.

Flying this plane "had to be the high point of his life," Ingraham said. Cornish not only took newspaper owner and publisher Oscar Foellinger to Washington to meet with President Herbert Hoover and congressmen. Foellinger also used the plane, with Cornish as pilot, to give rides to disadvantaged children and to celebrate the achievements of local young people by treating them to a short flight.

In 1934, Cornish was named manager of the city's municipal airport, which now is known as Smith Field, the book says. During World War II, he served as chief of the Army Air Forces' flight operations division, which coordinated air traffic and airspace use in the United States.

He later served as the first director of Indiana's Aeronautics Commission.

Cornish continued flying into his 90s, and, based on a 1995 flight at age 96, was recognized by Guinness World Records as the World's Oldest Actively Flying Pilot. He died about four months later age 97.

Ingraham said the idea for the book came about in 1996, when she was cleaning out her parents' home after her father had died and her mother had moved into a nursing home. In a neatly crafted wooden box, she found about 135 handwritten letters he had mailed home during his World War I service, which offered detailed insight into his experiences.

"It was like a treasure. It was gold," she recalled.

She also found journals, documents and old scrapbooks filled with newspaper clippings.

Ingraham was working on a memoir about plant and animal life around the cabin she and her late husband owned in Brown County, "Swimming with Frogs: Life in the Brown County Hills." She started on "'Cap' Cornish" in 2009.

The research broadened her view of her father.

While she was growing up, her father had been very involved in his work, not one for much conversation at home and, while Ingraham knew he loved her, he wasn't very affectionate.

"He was a reserved person with his family — probably far less so with his flying buddies," she said. "He could be very funny."

He never talked about the dangers inherent in early aviation, she said.

"He was in several accidents that could have been killers," she noted, including one in March 1931 in which the Yankee Clipper's left axle broke during landing in Winslow, Ariz., and the plane flipped upside down. All aboard escaped without serious injury.

Ingraham treasures what she learned through researching the book.

"Very few people get to know their parents as well as I got to know my parents, particularly my father," she said.

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Police: Jets scrambled over Middleboro, Raynham, Massachusetts for unauthorized helicopter

Halloween morning began with a bang.

Mysterious fighter jets zoomed throughout southeastern Massachusetts, leaving sonic booms in their wake as they flew low, loud and fast through the sky.

“It was kind of weird. I don’t normally wake up and hear a sonic boom,” said Anthony Paulin of Middleboro.

Sgt. Robert Sabonis, spokesman for Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, said two F15s were scrambled, but did not disclose the reason.

“My house was shaking,” said Candace Boone of Middleboro. “I couldn’t see it, I could just hear it.” It took a minute for Boone to realize the sound wasn’t a train and it was coming from the sky. “I didn’t know what the heck it was.”

Suzanne Heikkila and her husband Jeffrey saw the F15s make several passes over their Middleboro home. She watched one jet drive straight up into the sky before it made a second low pass. “I thought it was a training mission.”

“It looked awesome,” said Jeffery Heikkila, “It reminded me of a Blue Angels Air Show.”

Ralph DiCesare of Middleboro said the jets sounded scary and thought maybe an airliner was in trouble until he checked the Facebook page for the Middleboro police. His wife went on to their deck and saw the jets pass overhead three times, “I thought what the heck is going on,” she said.

 “It’s not something I see every day.” said Stephanie Tarkanian, after seeing the jets flying in a figure-8 pattern over Middleboro.

“I thought it was for Mayor Menino,” said Kelsey Marcal. At first she was a little apprehensive when the jets shook her house, but said, “Nowadays, you can’t panic.”

Just after 7:30 a.m., at least two F15s blew through Massachusetts, flying over Raynham, Middleboro and Plympton.

The planes flew in from the west heading east, and seemed bound for Plymouth Bay.

The jets caused the phones at local police departments to light up as residents called in to find out what was going on.

“The phones went crazy,” said Middleboro Police Chief Joseph M. Perkins.

Middleboro police Sgt. Todd Bazarewsky saw one of the fighter jets fly overhead about 8 a.m., Friday. “They were low and fast,” Bazarewsky said.

The department received dozens of calls about the jets, prompting Bazarewsky to call Otis Air Force Base. Some said they saw as many as six jets flying overhead.

“I called and they said they were scrambled from Westfield (Barnes Air National Guard Base) to check out an unidentified helicopter in restricted or unauthorized airspace,” Bazarewsky said.

The jets caused a flurry of concerned calls to the Pilgrim nuclear plant in Plymouth, said spokesperson Lauren Burm.

“They had nothing to do with Pilgrim,” she said. “Our security force was told the president is in Rhode Island. There was a helicopter flying there in restricted air space and fighter jets were deployed.”

Plymouth Harbormaster Chad Hunter was on the water patroling out to Bug Light when the jets were in the region.

Visibility can reach across the bay to Provincetown but Hunter said he didn’t see any low-flying F15s.

The Air Force Press Desk at the Pentagon declined to comment on the jets.

Raynham police said they also received calls about the jets but did not have any further information.

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday morning, a 30-nautical-mile no-fly zone went into effect around Providence, Rhode Island, due to President Barack Obama’s visit to the city. It is the first time in over 50 years a U.S. president stayed overnight in Providence.

According to Boeing’s website, the McDonnell Douglas F-15 is considered the world’s most technologically advanced tactical fighter and can fly higher than 50,000 feet at more than Mach 2.5.

The F15 can be flown by one person and effectively perform air-to-air combat using its advanced systems to detect, acquire, track and attack enemy aircraft. Data from the integrated avionics system is projected on the windscreen, so the pilot can track and destroy an enemy aircraft without having to look down at cockpit instruments.

The F15 has a range of 2,400 miles, weighs 68,000 pounds and has a top speed of 1,875 miles per hour.

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 A jet seen flying over Raynham Friday morning, Oct. 31, 2014.

Hangar 24 brewery lays off two dozen employees during restructuring

REDLANDS >> Around two dozen employees from Hangar 24 Brewery were laid off earlier this week as part of a restructuring effort, the owner said Thursday.

According to brewery founder and Master Brewer Ben Cook, the layoffs came after the company noticed it needed a different sales and marketing team and personnel to address account needs.

“When we first started we had numerous, smaller accounts but now we are in larger grocery and bar and restaurant chains which requires (a) different (team),” he said. “To that end, we’ve made some changes, adding about 50 new people and letting less than two dozen go. To help us continue with our growth pattern, we created a new director of operations position and we even had to upgrade to an enterprise level accounting system.”

Cook said that the new system caused a delay in payment to vendors and that Hangar is currently “catching up” as a “result of that system changeover.”

Earlier this year, Hangar celebrated its sixth anniversary with its second AirFest, which took over the Redlands Municipal Airport. The celebration was planned to raise funds for the organization’s Hangar 24 Charities and celebrate the business’ growth.

Since its opening, the Redlands-based company has not only become a destination for beer lovers from across Southern California, but is one of Redlands’ most successful businesses.

One of the employees who was laid off early this week spoke to us on condition of anonymity, and said the company was facing a “financial crisis,” but Cook says that is not true.

“We are still growing like gangbusters,” Cook said. “Our revenues increased by 50 percent to reach an all-time high over the past year, and our distribution channels have also surged by 52 percent. As a result of this massive growth, we’re having to make sure we have the right people in the right seats on the bus right now.”

Expansion plans for 2015 are currently underway, along with the undertaking of next year’s AirFest, Cook added.

The Airfest will once again benefit Hangar 24 Charities, which is now run by an all-volunteer team after its former executive director Catherine Grinnan and the brewery “mutually parted ways” earlier this summer.

“The charity is a different entity from the brewery, so whatever issues the brewery is having is different from a start-up charity. I’m sad people lost their jobs, but I can’t officially comment on that,” she said. “A lot of times there’s a restructuring and companies do that. But I don’t know why.”

In addition to the AirFest, Hangar officials are also in discussions with the city and officials from other neighboring communities to open and build a new brewery and off-site tasting room.

“In our beverage distributor division, we added several new craft brewery and non-alcoholic suppliers, and added new distributors in California and in other states like Nevada and Arizona. (And) we also opened up a new 35,000-square foot distribution center in Redlands this year,” Cook said.

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