Monday, November 17, 2014

Photo-happy pilots putting passenger lives at risk as they treat the cockpit as a selfie zone

In what appears to be an acute case of selfie love, a Jet Airways pilot allowed his friends and colleagues to access the highly sensitive cockpit area and pose for pictures - displaying utter disregard for civil aviation safety guidelines.

The pilot turned the cockpit of the Boeing jet he was flying into a favorite location for selfies, some of which feature him craning out of an open window and posing.

The matter came to light after Sahil Arora, the pilot in question, uploaded the pictures on his Facebook page. Among the many pictures he posted were images of official documents with details of precious items like gold bars that were being ferried in the plane.

In one of the photographs, Arora can be seen posing with crew members for a selfie. In another he is seen with a woman friend as an elderly gentleman occupies the pilot’s seat. Yet another photo shows the same woman fiddling with the cockpit panel.

Most of the photos appear to have been taken on the ground. According to sources, other pilots of the same airline also indulged in such “irresponsible practice”, risking the lives of passengers who flew in the aircraft.

According to the Director General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) guidelines, only a select few are allowed inside the cockpit. Arora’s Facebook page has pictures of a fellow pilot posing with rapper Honey Singh and actor Shah Rukh Khan.

A senior official of the Civil Aviation Department said that apart from the one who pilots the plane, a DGCA inspecting official, an engineer of the airline or trainee pilot are authorized to enter the flight deck.

To face action

When Mail Today sought a response from the DGCA, an official said Arora is liable to face action if he is found guilty.

“It is a very serious issue. He clearly compromised security guidelines. This is totally irresponsible behavior by this trained pilot, who permitted unauthorized persons to have a bizarre photo shoot inside the cockpit,” said the official of the rank of Deputy Director, who did not want to be named.

“We will serve a show cause notice to Jet Airways and if it is found that there has been a violation of security rules, DGCA may cancel the pilot’s license,” the official told Mail Today.

After going through Arora’s profile on Facebook, Mail Today found that other pilots of the same airlines have also flouted rules and taken selfies inside the cockpit. In the images, it is clearly visible that pilots and air hostesses of Jet Airways are taking flight operations rather casually.

“In the pictures, crew members earning lakhs of rupees per month as salary are treating the plane like a local bus. They seem unaware that operating a flight is serious business as the lives of so many are in their hands,” a DGCA official said.

Mail Today contacted Jet Airways, but officials denied knowledge of any such incidents.

After the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States, all countries implemented strict rules to restrict entry into the cockpit area.

“It is highly risky to allow anyone inside the cockpit as it is not a place for visitors,” an official said.

Airlines around the world have come to take these rules very seriously after the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370.

Fariq Abdul Hamid, the first officer of the missing plane, allowed two female passengers into the cockpit during the flight.

Recently, the DGCA suspended the flying license of four pilots who allowed their family members inside the cockpit mid-air.

The pilot of a third flight, who allowed passengers inside the cockpit of a plane on the verge of take-off, was taken off flying duties.

Incident occurred November 17, 2014 at Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD)

A plane made an emergency landing without incident at Dulles International Airport Monday evening.

A United flight apparently blew a rear tire and returned to Dulles shortly after takeoff.

No injuries were reported, but hydraulic fluid may be leaking onto the runway.

A mobile lounge will be used to get the passengers off the plane, which will be towed off the runway.

The runway is closed, but no other delays were reported.

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Igor Sikorsky's son gives talk in Danbury about helicopter maker's legacy

Igor Sikorsky Jr., the son of the famed inventor and entrepreneur, talks about his father's early years during an event at the Danbury Mens Club Wed., Nov. 12, 2014.
 Photo: Carol Kaliff

DANBURY -- When Igor Sikorsky heard about the famous flight of the Wright Brothers, his destiny seemed all but certain.

A young man at the time in Russia, Sikorsky, an entrepreneur and aviation pioneer, quickly set about building his own flying machines. His son, Igor Sikorsky Jr., talked recently about his father's early years during a meeting of the Danbury Men's Club.

While Sikorsky is most well known for flying the first helicopter, the VS-300, in 1939, the inventor already had a long history developing fixed wing aircraft.

"In those days the designers were also the test pilots," Igor Sikorsky Jr. said recently before more than 150 members of the men's club, which meets monthly at Hatters Park. "This eliminated a lot of bad designers."

After several failed attempts at creating a helicopter that could fly in 1909, Sikorsky turned to fixed wing aircraft after realizing, his son said, that helicopters would require, "an extravagance of power," to get off the ground.

By 1913, Sikorsky had designed and built the first successful airplane to have four engines, the S-21. Later versions of the plane were used for both passenger services and were retooled as bombers used by the Russian military during World War I.

It wasn't until after Sikorsky emigrated to the United States during the Russian Revolution that his commercial enterprises became even more successful.

By 1929, Sikorsky said, his father had focused on amphibious aircraft that could land on water. Given that there were very few airports in the country at the time, amphibious aircraft increased the popularity of passenger flight.

"It was one of the most successful enterprises for Sikorsky Aircraft," Sikorsky said.

It wasn't until 1938, when contracts for amphibious planes dried up, that Sikorsky again considered the possibility of vertical flight and began work on the VS-300. Despite the successful enterprise that the company became, Sikorsky himself, his son said, was no businessman. The aviation pioneer was thrilled, Sikorsky said, when United Aircraft took over Sikorsky's operation. In 1975, United Aircraft became United Technologies Corp.

"Business certainly wasn't his strength and he wasn't ashamed of that," Sikorsky said. "He was so delighted when United Aircraft came into the picture. It gave him the opportunity to get out of the office and into the lab, designing and testing aircraft. That's what he really wanted to do."

Story and Photo Gallery:

Taylorcraft BC12-D, N43818: Incident occurred November 16, 2014 in Soldotna, Alaska

ANCHORAGE - Neither of the two people on board a small plane that landed Sunday afternoon on Kalifornsky Beach Road near Soldotna were injured, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

 Clint Johnson, the NTSB’s chief Alaska investigator, said Monday that a Taylorcraft BC-12, a single-engine plane colloquially known as a “T-craft,” set down on the road between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday.

“It looks like a Taylorcraft landed on the highway there,” Johnson said. “There were no injuries; there was no damage.”

It was not immediately clear Monday why the plane made an emergency landing.

Channel 2 Facebook user Don Duncan said that the plane was parked outside the Cook Inlet Academy at 45872 K-Beach Rd. Sunday night, “surrounded by troopers and Soldotna (Police Department)” vehicles.

AST spokeswoman Megan Peters said she could offer no additional details Monday morning. She referred further requests for comment to NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration officials.

“There wasn’t a crash,” Peters wrote. “Just a landing.”

An email to Washington-based FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer wasn’t immediately returned Monday afternoon.

Cook Inlet Academy staff said Monday afternoon that none of the school’s employees were present Sunday when the landing occurred.

The pilot of the plane, who was working on the aircraft outside the school Monday afternoon, declined a Channel 2 request for a phone interview.

- Source:

Event Type: Incident

Highest Injury: None

Damage: None


Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)

Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office: FAA Anchorage FSDO-03

Proposed limitations for Jabiru powered aircraft

In response to a "high, and increasing rate" of engine failures among Jabiru powered aircraft the Civil Aviation Safety Authority has proposed to limit operations on the Bundaberg produced aircraft while investigations are underway.

Under the proposed change the authority stated that all Jabiru powered aircraft should be limited to day flights, should not carry passengers, and should not be used for solo operations by student pilots.

Jabiru business manager Susan Woods said it disagreed with the draft proposal and is concerned about the financial effects it could have.

"We're finding it very hard at the moment ... because we've got a very big collection of aircraft out there - 150 that run flying schools which are very nervous about the situation," she said.

"We'll be fighting it very hard and pointing the financial impacts that it will have for all these businesses around Australia."

Comments on the proposal are now open and should be submitted via the Project Leader at by close of business on November 27.

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Helio H-295 Super Courier, Wright Air Service, N6465V: Accident occurred November 14, 2014 in Nenana, Alaska

NTSB Identification: ANC15LA004 
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, November 14, 2014 in Nenana, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/09/2015
Aircraft: HELIO H 295, registration: N6465V
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot stated that, just after takeoff, as the airplane climbed through about 35 ft above ground level, the engine began to gradually lose power. Unable to restore power, the pilot made a forced landing in an area of densely populated trees. During the forced landing, the airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings and fuselage.

A postaccident examination revealed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical anomalies with the airplane’s engine or systems. The engine was subsequently started and then operated while still mounted on the airplane’s airframe. No anomalies were observed during its operation, and the engine produced full factory-specified rpm.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The partial loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined because postaccident examination of the engine revealed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical anomalies.

On November 14, 2014, about 1645 Alaska standard time, a wheel/ski-equipped Helio Courier H-295 airplane, N6465V, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing, following a partial loss of engine power after takeoff from a remote unimproved airstrip near Nenana, Alaska. The airplane was operated by Wright Air Service, Fairbanks, Alaska, as a visual flight rules (VFR) on-demand charter flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135.The certificated airline transport pilot and two passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a VFR flight plan had been filed. The flight departed Old Minto, Alaska, at about 1640 destined for Fairbanks, Alaska.

During an interview with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) on November 17, the pilot stated that just after takeoff, as the airplane climbed through approximately 35 feet above ground level, the engine began to gradually lose power. Unable to restore engine power, he made a forced landing in an area of densely populated black spruce trees. During the forced landing the airplane sustained substantial damage to wings and fuselage. 

The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming GO-480-G1D6 engine, the pressure carburetor was replaced with a Bendix fuel injection system, under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) field approval process. 

On November 21, 2014, an engine examination was performed by the NTSB IIC, two other NTSB investigators, along with two FAA air safety inspectors from the Fairbanks Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). Also present was a party representative from Wright Air Service. No anomalies, contamination, or evidence of malfunction was found in any of the engine accessories. The cylinders, pistons, valve train, crankshaft, and other internal components were all without evidence of anomaly or malfunction.

At the direction of the NTSB IIC, the engine fuel servo was removed and tested for proper operation. During fuel flow testing, the fuel servo produced a correct fuel mixture at a full-power setting. 

On December 23, the engine, while still mounted on the accident airplane's airframe, was operated under the direction of the IIC, along with the rest of the investigative team. The engine ran without any observed anomalies, and produced full factory specified rpm. A drop of about 25 rpm was noted for the left and right magnetos. A series of power adjustments from idle to full power were conducted with no hesitation in engine operation noted. 

The closest weather reporting facility was Nenana Airport, about 23 miles south of the accident site. At 1653, a weather observation from Nenana Airport was reporting, in part: wind from 080 degrees, at 7 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; clouds and sky condition, clear; temperature, 27 degrees F; dew point 14 degrees F; altimeter, 30.16 inHG

Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office: FAA Fairbanks FSDO-01

FAIRBANKS - A small Wright Air Service plane crashed soon after takeoff on Friday after departing Old Minto, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. No injuries were reported.

Two passengers and a pilot were aboard the Helio Courier as it left Old Minto at about 4:45 p.m. for a Fairbanks-bound flight. The chartered plane apparently lost engine power shortly after liftoff, crashing into trees at the end of the runway, said NTSB investigator Clint Johnson.

Johnson said the plane was significantly damaged and remains in Minto. An NTSB investigator is in Fairbanks to help recover the plane and determine why the engine failed, he said.

Autumn Mabry, manager for Fairbanks-based Wright Air Service, said the company was still in the process of determining what happened. Mabry said she didn't have information about the crash or what occurred.

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Investigators Exclusive: Newark Liberty International Airport (KEWR) runway incursion radar malfunctioning (with video)

NEWARK (WABC) -- An Eyewitness News exclusive investigation looked at safety at one of the nation's busiest airports. A radar system at Newark Liberty International Airport is suppose to prevent collisions on the runway, but too often, it doesn't operate properly. The problem is false alerts. 

The FAA insists the radar, called ASDE-X, is one of many tools air traffic controllers use at Newark to keep planes from colliding. Documents from the control tower and sources show a different view in which a key safety radar is unreliable.

At least 1,000 planes take off or land at Newark Airport daily, and an alarm will alert air traffic controllers when any planes are getting too close. We looked at six months of daily operation logs from the airport's traffic control tower that we obtained that show the collision-prevention radar constantly false alerts.

In one day last May, air traffic controllers recorded that the radar false alerted seven times.

"It does raise the hairs on the back of your neck," retired air traffic controller Mark Reilly said. "A lot of cursing and swearing goes on. It's not a comfortable feeling."

He says the highly-touted runway collision prevention radar has not worked properly from the time the FAA installed it in 2009.

"I know they spent a lot of money on this equipment," he said. "if it's not reliable, don't deploy it, don't put it into place. And if you have, and it's still unreliable, get rid of it."

Complaints about the unreliability of the anti-collision radar fill the daily logs.

"ASDE-X KEEPS SHUTTING DOWN WE ASKED TECH OPS TO SHUT IT DOWN COMPLETELY," and "ASDE-X is O-T-S, out of service, unreliable," are some of the notes from air traffic controllers.

From February through July of this year, the radar failed to work properly 118 out of 181 days.

That lack of reliability may have played a role in the near-miss collision last April at Newark Airport, when an Express Jet taking off and a United Airlines 737 came within 400 feet of colliding.

We're told the radar did alert, but it gave the controller little time to react. The daily log for that day also showed the radar had false alerted just 28 minutes before the close call.

"It's like Peter crying wolf," Reilly said. "You hear it over and over. After a while, you ignore it. When maybe you shouldn't be ignoring it this time."

The FAA blames the false alerts on construction earlier this year. But we are being we're told the radar continues to false alarm.

It's important to note that so far this year, Newark has seen a huge spike in runway incursions, in which planes or vehicles are in the wrong place on the runway.

That's happened 19 times this year, compared to five last year. The FAA also said they have not found any link between an increase in radar alerts and the jump in runway incursions at Newark Airport.

Story and Video:

Gaglardi's jet and other flight legends on display at British Columbia Aviation Museum

Volunteers are a big part of operation at the British Columbia Aviation Museum in Sidney, B.C. 

SIDNEY, B.C. - A shiny, chrome-coated Beechcraft 18 aircraft that was once used by former provincial cabinet minister Phil Gaglardi to inspect the province's highways is one of the historic exhibits at British Columbia's Aviation Museum. 

Gaglardi's tricked-out Beechcraft Pac Aero Tradewind, which landed in the government's books as a snowplow, is one of the many aviation exhibits the Victoria-area museum's volunteers have painstakingly restored for public viewing.

Located in a hangar adjacent to Victoria International Airport, the museum is dedicated to preserving aviation heritage.

The 23 military and commercial aircraft on display in two hangars comprise the bulk of the exhibits, but there's more, including airplane engines, airport radios and the uniforms worn by fighter pilots and flight attendants.

The stylish apparel includes brown leather bomber-style jackets worn by Royal Canadian Air Force fighters and the red, blue and orange 1970s polyester uniforms sported by flight attendants at the now defunct Canadian, Pacific Western and Wardair airlines.

Every aircraft at the museum has history and its arrival at the aviation museum is usually accompanied by a unique story, which the volunteer staff (mostly retired aircraft mechanics, pilots and administrators) are only too happy to tell.

The 1950s vintage Trans Canada Air-Lines Vickers Viscount 757 passenger airplane was purchased for $1 and placed on a barge to Vancouver Island, where the volunteers restored its shine and grandeur.

Visitors entering the passenger area are immediately amazed at the large amount of leg room and the vastness of passenger space compared to today's commercial aircraft. The Viscount includes a room to hang coats and every seat has an ashtray — cigarettes only, no cigars or pipes.

The Avro Anson Mk 11 reconnaissance and training aircraft is a poignant exhibit.

Earlier this month, family, friends and air force members from Canada and abroad gathered at the museum's hangar for a funeral reception following the Nov. 10, burial of four airmen who died in 1942 just west of Victoria.

Three British airmen and one Canadian officer were declared missing in action until the Anson's wreckage and their bodies were discovered by a forestry crew last year.

Retired aircraft mechanic Stonewall (Stoney) Jackson, 82, stands beside the museum's Avro Anson, explaining the aircraft was a perfect training machine for Second World War pilots and navigators.

Jackson said he comes to the museum once a week to tell stories about the aircraft exhibits, and he has details right down to the specifics of the engines and which uniforms come with pre-polished buttons and which do not.

"We have a fairly wide collection of airplanes," he said. "It's not perfect, but it's OK. Everybody here is a volunteer."

Aviation Museum Society president John Lewis said the museum permits visitors to tour its restoration room, the place where volunteers get aircraft polished and fit for display.

On this day, the room smells like wood glue, buzzes from the sound of drills and glistens with light as the fall sunshine reflects beams of light off the chrome fuselage of Gaglardi's Beechcraft.

"One of the things we pride ourselves on is if you want a guided tour, you can have one," said Lewis. "Or you can wander around by yourself."

You can check out the aviation museum at

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Unmanned drones 'being used to harass people', police say

Unmanned drones are "undoubtedly" being used to harass people, police say.

A House of Lords committee was told the devices were also being flown in protected airspace and that officers found it difficult to identify the people responsible.

The warning came from Ch Insp Nick Aldworth, of the Metropolitan Police, who is part of a nationwide group tasked with looking at the issue.

Civilian use of the aircraft, which can be legally flown, is increasing.

Drones, which are officially known as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, range in size from small craft operated by enthusiasts, TV companies, police forces and surveyors and weighing a few kilograms, to larger military versions.

Smaller ones can be flown without special permission although restrictions apply if they are used in congested areas or near people's homes.

'Nefarious reasons' 

The Lords Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment Committee has been holding an inquiry into their use by civilians.

Ch Insp Aldworth said the devices, which he described as "things that fly and do not have pilots in them", could be used in a "reckless" or "malicious" way.

Baroness O'Cathain, the committee chairwoman, said a number of concerns about privacy had been raised, but Ch Insp Aldworth said this was not a police matter as there was no criminal privacy law.

However, he said other legislation could be used, for example laws banning voyeurism, in the event of drones with cameras "hovering outside people's bedrooms for whatever nefarious reasons".

Footage posted posted on the internet was the most common way of drone use coming to light, he said, and the peers were told of the difficulties of finding the people responsible.

If a drone "whizzes past your window and catches something that you would rather it didn't catch", he said, it was difficult to catch the person flying it unless the police arrived immediately.

Ch Insp Aldworth said his group's task was to find a "sensible application" of existing laws to control the use of the drones.

He said there was no doubt drones had been used in London and around the UK, pointing to footage posted of football stadiums which he said was a contravention of air navigation rules as well as being a potential safety risk if a device fell from the sky.

Criminal conduct

"We also know it has been used to embarrass people - either VIPs or members of the public," he said.

Ch Insp Aldworth said a drone had been flown as a protest in front of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and that he expected "copycat behavior" in the UK.

He added: "The concerns are really around the fact that we are seeing this technology being used for criminal conduct.

"We have undoubtedly seen it flown in controlled airspace, we have undoubtedly seen it used to harass people, and we have seen it flown in contravention of the air navigation orders, so I think that concern arises by the fact that there is clearly a means of offending that we do not seem to be able necessarily to address quickly."

With Christmas approaching, and prices expected to drop, use of the drones could increase, he added.

Last month, pilots' association Balpa told the committee remote aircraft the same size as small passenger planes could be operated commercially in the UK within 10 years, and called for strict controls over their use.

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Cargo Pilots Say Fatigue Leading To Big Danger Below (with video)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Dozens of huge cargo jets fly over Bay Area neighborhoods daily, and the pilots flying them say lack of rest is creating a big danger below. 

 On August 14, 2013, at 4:47 a.m., a UPS cargo plane flying from Louisville, Ky. to Birmingham, Ala. crashed and burst into flames short of the runway. The two pilots on board didn’t survive.

Cockpit discussions recovered from the black box in the crash revealed a conversation between the two that was centered on sleep.

“When my alarm went off, I mean, I’m thinking… I’m so tired,” said the first officer.

“I know,” replied the captain.

Federal regulations don’t require cargo pilots to get as much rest as passenger pilots.

“Fatigue is an integral part of the job,” UPS Pilot Bob Matchette told KPIX 5.  “It’s managing that fatigue, that is where the challenge lies.”

Like the grueling route that goes from Anchorage, Alaska to Oakland, then to Ontario, then back to Oakland, then to Ontario again, and finally back to Anchorage. It’s been dubbed the “Oakland death march” by Matchette and his fellow pilots.

“You’re always concerned about not just yourself, but obviously the people that are underneath your approach and landing path,” said Matchette.

Matchette said the Alabama crash is proof that federal regulations need to change.

Yet, a time-lapsed video from the Independent Pilots Association shows that cargo pilots fly mostly at night.

“They face special challenges that someone flying during the day doesn’t have,” said Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, famous for piloting the US Airways jet that made a miraculous landing in New York’s Hudson River. He said it’s a risk to the public and the pilots.

“The cargo industry managed to get htem carved out and excluded from having to comply with better rest, so that’s something that definitely has to be changed,” he said.

The FAA failed to include cargo pilots when it tightened rest rules for passenger pilots last year.  Passenger pilots are limited to nine hours of duty during the night.  Cargo pilots can be scheduled for 16 hours.

“With all due respect, Captain Sullenberger is wrong. The fact is this is not a lobbying effort, this was a legal proceeding conducted at the FAA,” said Steve Alterman with the Cargo Industry Association. He says the pilots don’t need the extra rest.

“Our pilots already fly only about half the time than the passenger pilots do, so it’s a completely different model,” he said.

But, Matchette disagrees. “We fly the same equipment, landing on the same runways, in and out of the same airports as all passenger jets flying over the same neighborhoods,” he said.  “I think it’s absolutely safe to say that it could be a lot safer.”

Story and Video:

NTSB Identification: DCA13MA133

Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 121: Air Carrier operation of UNITED PARCEL SERVICE CO
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 14, 2013 in Birmingham, AL
Aircraft: AIRBUS A300 F4-622R, registration: N155UP
Injuries: 2 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 traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On August, 14, 2013, at about 0447 central daylight time (CDT), United Parcel Service flight 1354, an Airbus A300-600, N155UP, crashed short of runway 18 while on approach to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (KBHM), Birmingham, Alabama. The two flight crew members were fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The cargo flight was operating under 14 Code of Federal Regulation Part 121 supplemental and originated from Louisville International Airport, Louisville, Kentucky.

Grand Canyon Offers Incentive for Quieter Aircraft

Air tour operators at the Grand Canyon would be able to take more visitors over the most popular flight routes under a proposed incentive to make aircraft quieter.

The incentive would apply to the Dragon and Zuni Point corridors, which provide views of the widest and deepest parts of the canyon to the eastern edge. The flights aren't visible from the South Rim where most of the Grand Canyon's 4.5 million visitors travel each year.

Operators use about 3,700 of their assigned flights in the Dragon and Zuni Point corridors from January to March. Those that upgrade aircraft to meet the definition of quiet technology could shift those flight slots to the summer months when demand is higher without losing out on business during the winter months.

"They can kind of manage within their own fleet how they want to do it, but it would give companies credit for truly quieter technology," said Robin Martin, chief of planning and compliance at the Grand Canyon.

Operators don't necessarily have to fly quieter aircraft to win the certification of quiet technology. Under a definition used by the Federal Aviation Administration, some can just add seats to aircraft to qualify.

A provision in the 2012 federal transportation bill to make half of the Grand Canyon free from commercial air tour noise for at least 75 percent of the day requires the Federal Aviation Administration and the Grand Canyon to provide incentives for quiet air technology. Many of the tours originate from Las Vegas.

U.S. Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Harry Reid of Nevada had criticized a proposal by the National Park Service to manage air tour noise at the Grand Canyon and restore natural quiet to the park. The Park Service wanted to make 67 percent of the canyon quiet for three-fourths of the day or longer, but the senators said the noise restrictions were unfair and would decimate air tours.

The first incentive for quiet air technology went into effect in January, reducing fees from $25 to $20 per flight. The FAA later released 1,721 flight allocations that had been abandoned to commercial tour operators for use as long as their active fleets did not increase noise in the park overall.

The public comment period for the latest proposed incentive ends Dec. 10.

Messages left with media representatives for two of the Grand Canyon's largest commercial air tour companies were not immediately returned Monday.

Air tour operators use more than 90 percent of the nearly 45,000 flight slots available to them in the Dragon and Zuni Point corridors, Martin said. About 60 percent of the aircraft conducting tours at the Grand Canyon already meet the quiet air technology standard.

Dick Hinson of the Sierra Club said the impact of the proposal is unclear but could worsen noise levels in the canyon's backcountry where hikers and campers seek solitude. He said the environmental group wants some assurance from the park that it is not going to do the minimum possible in terms of the science.

"It can be a smoke screen," he said. "The incentives should be used to develop engines that are quieter as a source directly."

Martin said the FAA and the Grand Canyon have set a maximum noise level at the park based on flight allocations for 2012. Officials said the new incentive, if implemented, could be discontinued if noise from air tours throughout the park exceeds that level.

"We're looking more at noise than numbers," Martin said.

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As Hillsboro Airport looks at supplying unleaded fuel, number of Oregon airports offering product doubles

Flight training company Hillsboro Aviation recruits for new pilots at the 2014 Oregon International Air Show. The business, whose fleet requires leaded fuel, is a large user of the Hillsboro Airport. 
(Luke Hammill / The Oregonian)

The number of Oregon airports that offer unleaded motor gasoline, or "mogas," has doubled, as the Port of Portland studies the feasibility of supplying the product at Hillsboro Airport.

Until this past summer, the only place in the state where pilots could fill their single piston-engine planes with unleaded gas was Lebanon State Airport. But now, Grants Pass Airport, operated by Josephine County, also offers the fuel.

Larry Graves, the southern Oregon county's airports manager, said he was "receiving a lot of demand for mogas" at Grants Pass because the price of leaded aviation fuel was "just killing everybody," rising to over $6 per gallon for a period of time.

"I went out looking for a suitable delivery vehicle, and I found an aviation fueler...a fuel truck that's specifically designed for aviation purposes," Graves said.

On behalf of the county, Graves bought the truck and restored it with the help of volunteer labor from the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association. Then he called the Oregon State Fire Marshal and the state Department of Weights and Measures to have the truck inspected, and after paying a registration fee, "we were ready to go," he said.

"It's a significant source of revenue for the county," Graves said.

He described sales as "really good" and said the county sold about 2,000 gallons of mogas during the first two months of offering it.

That's only one-tenth of the amount of avgas sold at Grants Pass. "However," Graves said, "nobody knows that we've got [mogas]. And as soon as people figure out that we have it, they're starting to come in from all over the state. They're coming up from California."

Graves said "maybe a third" of single piston-engine aircraft, at least, still require leaded aviation fuel, or "avgas." But for the rest of the planes, he said, mogas is "100 percent safe." Pilots just need to obtain "supplemental type certificates" issued by the Federal Aviation Administration that show their airplanes can run on the unleaded fuel.

So why don't more airports offer it? Port of Portland General Aviation Manager Steve Nagy, who oversees Hillsboro Airport, has said only about 3 percent of airports nationwide offer the fuel.

"I think they're worried about liability. ... I don't think there is any additional liability over and above selling [avgas or unleaded jet fuel]. It's just that selling mogas for aircraft is a relatively new thing and so airport sponsors – cities, counties and port authorities – are looking at it very cautiously and very carefully because they don't want to rush into a situation that's gonna blow up in their face," Graves said.

"And it's my personal opinion that it's absolutely and totally safe. It's been thoroughly vetted."

He added that old airport infrastructure, built to sell avgas and jet fuel, is not set up to accommodate mogas. That's why he used a truck rather than investing in an expensive new self-service delivery station.

"A truck is a perfect solution," Graves said. "The only drawback is that it has to be operated by a human being, and that cuts into your margin a little bit."

Pilots are exempt from the state law against drivers filling up their own gas tanks. So if they were stopping at Grants Pass for avgas or jet fuel, they could fill up themselves, no matter the time. But the truck requires an attendant, so the mogas is not available 24 hours a day.

Graves buys the mogas from Colvin Oil and tests "every single load of fuel that we purchase...before it goes into our truck."

Lebanon State Airport has offered the product since 2006, said Lisa Switzler, the manager at LebanAir Aviation, the organization that sells the fuel. LebanAir gets its mogas from Carson Oil Company, she said.

"We sell as much of the mogas as we do the avgas," Switzler said.

Lebanon State has what Switzler called a "dual tank," with avgas on one side and mogas on the other.

"You have to have a designated tank for each fuel," Switzler said.

John Wilson, an airport operations specialist for the Oregon Department of Aviation, said Lebanon's situation was "unique."

"Lebanon just happened to have a tank with a bulkhead in the middle," he said. Most airports, he added, don't have that luxury.

"It's a business decision when you talk about how many gallons you're pushing to the consumer, versus the cost of constructing, installing and maintaining a fuel tank," Wilson said. "The product itself – that's a lot of money to fork out and for it to sit in a tank. So it really is a business decision why folks are probably not doing it as much."

The Port of Portland expects to complete a study by the end of the year that will assess the feasibility of mogas at Hillsboro Airport, which is the largest facility source of lead in Oregon and among the top 100 nationwide, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Emissions, however, are well below the limits imposed by regulators.

Switzler said Hillsboro Airport representatives have contacted LebanAir, inquiring about the process of selling unleaded mogas.

"We'd like to see another place take it up," Switzler said. "They're a big enough airport that, hopefully, maybe they do."

Story and Comments:

Sole Irish survivor of tragic helicopter crash dedicates book proceeds to niece 'with no lower limbs' (with video)

An Irish man who lost two close friends in a helicopter crash has marked their tenth anniversary by writing a book on the events of that day, dedicating all sale proceeds to his niece with a rare condition.

Almost a decade ago, Michael Gibbons was traveling home by helicopter to Galway with his two friends, Mark Reilly (49) and Damien Bergin (32), when a sudden dense fog completely blocked the pilot's vision, an unforeseeable event that lead to their devastating crash.

Damien Bergin, who had a private pilot's license, was at the controls and before they left Waterford, he had phoned another pilot to check the weather in the Galway area. He was told that conditions were good.

Gibbons suffered extensive injuries in the crash to his head and body, physical trauma that left him "unable to work as we know it" and he will never fully recover.

In his book 'Survivor', Michael describes the events of that fateful day and the arduous recuperation path, attributing his somewhat unbelievable recovery success to the support of his friends and family.

"My mother Carmel and my sisters Karen and Norrie were fantastic. You could rely on them for anything. I was released from hospital because my mother and one of my sisters moved in with me and cared for me 24 hours a day for weeks after the accident."

"I've been very lucky with the friends and family I had, they really helped with the recovery," he told

But Gibbons has a different goal to fight for now, Karen's daughter, "a beautiful little girl by the name of Ciara", and he believes that Mark and Damien would really appreciate the gesture.

"When my sister was five months pregnant she realized that a threadlike vein in the womb had come loose and wrapped around Ciara's legs. She was born with no lower limbs," he told

"It was very fitting as [Mark and Damien] were exceptionally giving people. I thought it would be a nice way to mark their ten year anniversary by bringing out this book. I know the lads will be very pleased with that."

Michael recalls the day that he lost his "father figure" Mark and "brother figure" Damien with startling clarity, "like an Xbox game in high definition".

"We would have been going around 125km/h when we crashed... I remember that there was some low cloud... Damien nominated to increase our altitude up over a mountain called Derrybrien which was in front of us. The fog just kept getting thicker and thicker.

"It's not like a car where you can press a brake on it, you really have to slow down and turn around. At that stage, the fog was so thick that it was like if someone threw a white sheet over your car windscreen."

The exact trajectory of how the helicopter crashed remain unknown but Michael believes that as Damien turned to escape the dense fog, the rotor clipped off a tree and the helicopter went out of control. "I remember as we going down that the trees just kept hitting the windscreen harder and harder. At one stage I was convinced that one of the trees was just going to come and take one of our heads off."

But Michael still has fond memories of his friends "who were great characters and will always be remembered with a smile". And he attribute his survival from the crash to Damien's reactions in the adverse weather

"It was heroic what Damien did on the day. You really define a person - not by a decision they make in a split second - but really by how they behave when when you get into trouble. their real character comes out. He really saved my life that day."

'Survivor' is in bookstores now at a retail price of €14.99. All proceeds from the book will be going towards a fund to pay for Ciara's prosthetic legs for which she goes to the States twice a year.

Story and Video:

Kyle Ash, 14, youngest pilot to fly solo at Gander flight school (with video)

Kyle Ash
A teenager from Musgravetown is the youngest pilot to ever fly solo at the Gander Flight Training School at just 14 years old.

Kyle Ash has logged about 34 hours in the air — and the sky seems to be the limit for Ash, who wants to be a commercial pilot when he's older.

"I started picking up the passion when I was thee, and every time we used to go on a plane I used to make sure I was the last one off the plane so I could talk to the pilots. My first flight, I loved it. I couldn't believe people actually get paid for flying — it's so fun," he said.

"It's the same thing as driving a car or driving quads, peddle bikes, same thing, there's really no difference," said Ash, who is still too young to drive a car.

Even thought Ash has loved flying since he was a child, he said his first time flying solo was a bit different.

"It was quite fun but it was just different, not having no one there to talk to. I'm used to go up for two hours, just going around, with someone to talk to. This time — no one," he said.

Exceptional feats of flight

In some countries, like the U.S. and U.K., a person has to be at least 16 years old before taking to the air on their own.

But in Canada, you can fly when you're younger as long as you've logged the hours of practice and study.

Flight instructor Amit Bahuguna said that's exactly what Ash has done.

"The main thing is, he's dedicated. You give him homework, he does it — that's the main thing," said Bahuguna.

"And he's young, so sometimes he forgets some stuff, but at the end of the day he's pretty good."

Ash said there are a few things he needs to know that may be a little stomach-turning for some people.

"There's one thing called a spin, that you go up and stall the airplane. It's shut off, and you start spinning down towards the ground and you gotta get out of that, 'cause that's an emergency procedure, so you gotta learn how to do it in case something actually goes wrong."

For now, Ash has a student permit, meaning he can only fly at the school. But when he turns 16, he can apply for a recreational pilot license.

- Story and Video:

Pilot death crash probe is on hold: Beechcraft C90 King Air, N364UZ

An inquest into the death of a pilot who died in a plane crash in Africa has been delayed as an air accident investigation continues.

David Sewell, 67, of First Avenue, Dunstable, died on May 24, 2011 after a light aircraft he took out for a test flight crashed in Kaduna, Nigeria.

According to Nigerian press reports Mr. Sewell and aircraft maintenance engineer Avong Bitrus both perished after the Beechcraft C90 they were testing got into difficulty, with the pilot narrowly able to manoeuvre the plane away from a university campus.

Fire officers from a nearby Nigerian airforce base were only able to reach the scene 45 minutes later due to the ‘inaccessibility’ of the crash site.

At the time of the incident Mr. Sewell was working for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, which had sold the Beechcraft C90 to an energy company.

A pre-inquest hearing into Mr. Sewell’s death was held in Ampthill on Monday, during which senior coroner Tom Osborne noted that the information he had received from air accident investigators in Nigeria had been ‘non existent’.

Mr. Osborne delayed a full inquest hearing until March 18, when it is hoped that more details on the accident will be made available.

He said: “I will ask the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to put pressure on them to give information.

“I think it is time to bring it (the inquest) to a conclusion, even if it is an unsatisfactory conclusion.”

Mr.  Sewell was previously the catering manager at Whipsnade Zoo and was also an active member of the Dunstable and District Local History Society.

He also gave his time for the Dunstable Poppy Appeal.

- Source:

Shoreline Consultancy Services Ltd.
Shawa Engineering Ltd.

NTSB Identification: DCA11WA113

Accident occurred Tuesday, May 24, 2011 in Kaduna, Nigeria
Aircraft: BEECH C90, registration: N346UZ
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On May 24, 2011 about 1300 UTC, N346UZ, a Beechcraft C90, collided with the ground during approach to Kaduna Airport (KAD), Kaduna, Nigeria. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The local flight originated at KAD.

The Nigeria Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has instituted an investigation of the accident. As the State of manufacture, a U.S. Accredited Representative has been designated. Inquiries about the investigation should be directed to the AIB.

Nigeria Accident Investigation Bureau
Muritala Muhammed International Airport
P.M.B 016, MMIA
Ikeja, Lagos

US Air Force apologizes for using Maldivian airspace

The US Air Force has apologized for having conducted training operations in Maldivian airspace back in August without government approval, said Minister of Defense Mohamed Nazim on Monday.

Fighter jets deployed from the US Air Force Academy in the Chagos Archipelago operated near Huvadhoo atoll.

A device dropped into the ocean by a low-flying jet was discovered by local fishermen who reported it to the Maldivian Coast Guard.

The Minister had responded to the incident saying that training operations are routinely conducted in Maldivian airspace but with the approval of the government.

The Maldivian government had expressed its concern over the incident and had asked the US government to not repeat its actions.

“The US Air Force has apologized for its actions and has given its guarantee that such actions will not be repeated” Nazim said.

Nazim attributed the US government’s failure to seek approval before using Maldivian airspace to a paperwork mix-up.

- Source:

Unknown or Undetermined: Sonex, N229P; fatal accident occurred April 05, 2014 in Dunnellon, Florida

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida 

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ERA14FA464
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, April 05, 2014 in Dunnellon, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/23/2016
Aircraft: FORTUNA DAVE SONEX, registration: N229P
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

The private pilot was conducting a personal cross-country flight. Witnesses at the airport reported that they observed the airplane depart and climb out and that everything appeared to be normal. The airplane proceeded west of the departure end of the runway, made a left climbing turn, and then proceeded in a southerly direction. GPS data showed that the airplane then climbed to about 817 ft mean sea level, which was below the floor of available radar coverage. The airplane then continued in a southerly heading while descending with the ground speed increasing until about 2 minutes 30 seconds after takeoff, at which point the airplane made a right 270-degree turn for unknown reasons. The airplane continued to descend during controlled flight. The airplane subsequently impacted trees and the ground and then came to rest inverted about 1.7 nautical miles and 187 degrees from the departure end of the departure runway. No distress call was received from the pilot. 

About 2 days later, an employee of the intended arrival airport called the departure airport and reported the airplane overdue. Subsequently that same day, the Civil Air Patrol, multiple local and state agencies, the pilot’s son, and several privately operated aircraft began search operations; however, despite several weeks of ongoing search efforts, the airplane was not located. About 6 months later, the inverted wreckage was spotted by an individual in a heavily wooded area. No emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal was ever received, and the ELT switch was found in the “off” position. The investigation determined that miscommunications, which led to delayed coordination, occurred between the Civil Air Patrol and the multiple local and state agencies during the initial search efforts. The delayed coordination between the response agencies, the nonactivation of the ELT, and the airplane’s flight below radar coverage hampered the search efforts. However, the accident was not survivable; therefore, these issues did not contribute to the pilot’s death. Examination of the airframe revealed no evidence of fire. The engine, which had separated during the impact sequence, exhibited heat damage, which precluded testing of its operability. However, the No. 3 cylinder was found to have low compression, which likely existed when the flight departed. Full flight control continuity was confirmed, but the flap extension could not be determined. Although a hole was noted in a fuel supply line immediately adjacent to an engine control cable, extensive corrosion precluded a determination of whether the hole was preexisting or occurred postimpact.

Witnesses reported that the canopy opened while the pilot was taxiing to begin the flight, and it was found unlatched. However, the pilot was able to relatch it for taxi. Given that the fuel shutoff was found in the “off” position, it is likely that the pilot was preparing for a forced landing and unlatched the canopy at that time rather than it inadvertently becoming unlatched in flight. Based on the available evidence, the reason for the forced landing could not be determined.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The in-flight collision with a tree in a heavily wooded area during controlled flight while the pilot was attempting a forced landing for reasons that could not be determined based on the available evidence. Contributing to the delay in locating the wreckage were the nonactivation of the emergency locator transmitter and delayed coordination between the Civil Air Patrol and multiple local and state agencies.


On April 5, 2014, about 1359 eastern daylight time, a Fortuna Sonex, N229P, was substantially damaged during a forced landing in a heavily wooded area about 2.0 nautical miles south-southwest of the Marion County Airport (X35) Dunnellon, Florida. The private pilot, the sole occupant was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a personal flight destined for Zephyrhills Municipal Airport (ZPH), Zephyrhills, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the flight that originated about 1357.

Personnel at X35 reported that while attempting to taxi from the parking spot after power application, the canopy opened up, which one individual described as occurring "violently" enough to bend the frame, but not enough to rip it loose from the attachment side. The engine was secured and the pilot exited the airplane and informed another individual that he forgot to latch it. The pilot was assisted with shutting the canopy which was able to be fully lowered initially, and then latched in the taxi position for taxiing. The pilot was informed to check the canopy before takeoff and if it did not secure, to return and, "we will fix it." The engine was restarted, and the pilot was observed taxiing to runway 28 where he performed an engine run-up. The airplane was estimated to depart between 1353 and 1358, and the climb out and speed appeared normal. The airplane was observed making a crosswind turn to the south and leveled the wings then went out of view about 5 minutes later flying in a southerly direction.

A pilot who departed X35 about 7 minutes before the accident pilot departed stated that he did not hear any radio calls from the pilot of the accident airplane.

On April 7, 2014, about 1030, an individual at the intended destination airport contacted an individual at the departure airport and advised him that the airplane did not arrive. The Marion County Sheriff's Office was contacted the same day, and personnel of that organization contacted the X35 airport manager who relayed the circumstances of the departure of the accident airplane.

The Civil Air Patrol was notified of the missing airplane on April 7, 2014, at 1300 EDT and assigned mission number 14M-0150. A search for the airplane was initiated by the Civil Air Patrol, and Sherriff Departments from the following counties: Citrus, Marion, Hernando, Sumpter and Lake City. A search for the missing airplane was also performed by personnel from Marion County Fire Rescue, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The ground and aerial based searches were negative. Additional aerial and ground based searches of the area were performed by personnel from Marion County Sheriff's Office the week of April 22nd through 26th, and April 25th and 26th, respectively; no emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal was ever received.

Multiple aerial searches were performed by the pilot's son which included the area where the airplane actually crashed, but the results were negative. Additionally, aerial searches were also performed by pilot's of airplanes based at X35 and also at ZPH.

On October 19, 2014, an individual walking in the area spotted the wreckage and contacted law enforcement.


The pilot, age 74, held a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land and airplane single engine sea ratings; the single engine land rating was first issued on November 3, 1968. He was issued a 3rd class medical certificate on June 7, 2007, with limitations, "Not valid for any class after 06/30/2008[.] Must wear lenses for distant, have glasses for near vision."

A review of the application for the pilot's last medical revealed he listed a total time of 1,504 hours, and 20 hours in the last 6 months.

The pilot's son reported that his father's most recent pilot logbook was not located; however, he reported having a conversation with his father in 2008, and recalled his father telling him he had 1,700 hours at that time. He also estimated that his father had "well over 2,000 hours." The son also reported that he last spoke with his father the day before, and during that conversation his father relayed to him about attending a fly-in luncheon the next day; his father seemed to be in good spirits. A record of conversation with the pilot's son is contained in the NTSB public docket.


The amateur built Sonex airplane was manufactured in 2001, and was designated serial number 018. It was powered by a Jabiru 2200 engine and equipped with a fixed pitch Sensenich propeller.

By design, the airplane's fuel system consisted of a single fuel tank installed in the cockpit forward of the firewall, which has a fuel shutoff valve installed adjacent to the tank outlet fitting. There is no provision for an additional fuel shutoff valve on the instrument panel. The fuel is routed from the tank to a firewall fitting via an aluminum tube, and then to the fuel strainer also via an aluminum tube. Fuel then flows via flexible hoses to the auxiliary fuel pump, engine-driven fuel pump, then to the carburetor.

The accident airplane's fuel supply consisted of a shutoff valve installed at the tank outlet, and an aluminum tube was routed from the fuel tank to a shutoff valve installed on the instrument panel. An aluminum tube was installed between the shutoff valve and the fuel strainer, and flexible hoses were installed from the outlet of the fuel strainer to the auxiliary fuel pump, engine-driven fuel pump, and then forward to the carburetor.

The pilot's son reported that the maintenance records were not located; however, he did locate a logbook entry from 2011, that contained writing consisting of editing associated with a condition inspection dated April 2, 2013. The total time was written as 637.2, and the tachometer time was written as 21.9. A copy of the entry is contained in the NTSB public docket.


A surface observation weather report taken at Ocala Municipal Airport (OCF) at 1350, or approximately 9 minutes before the accident, indicates the wind was from 190 degrees at 6 knots, the visibility was 10 statute miles, broken clouds existed at 3,300 feet. The temperature and dew point were 27 and 17 degrees Celsius, respectively, and the altimeter setting was 30.04 inches of Mercury. The accident site was located about 12 nautical miles and 225 degrees from OCF.


The pilot was not in contact with any FAA air traffic control facility at the time of the accident.


The Marion County Airport is equipped in part with runway 10/28 (previously identified as 9/27) which changed in December 2012. The airport common traffic advisory frequency is 122.8 MHz, which is not recorded, and at the time of departure was not monitored by airport personnel.


The airplane was equipped with an Electronics International R-1-4-G30R330 tachometer and a Grand Rapids Technologies, Inc., Model 2000 Engine Information System (EIS). A Garmin GPSmap 396 GPS receiver and a Garmin D2 Pilot watch were found at the accident site. All identified components were recovered and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Division for read-out.

According to the NTSB Electronic Devices Specialist's Factual Report, it was not possible to correlate the RPM history from the electronic tachometer with the GPS data because the large interval between sample rate and the unknown time when the GPS receiver was first powered relative to the tachometer. The last recorded tachometer reading of 2,760 rpm occurred at 8:09 elapsed time since instrument power up. No information was retrieved from the EIS, but data was downloaded from the GPSMAP 396 receiver. Data associated with the accident flight revealed the recording began at 1351:00, and depicted the airplane taxiing to the approach end of runway 28. The airplane was noted to be accelerating on the runway at 1357:26, and continue the takeoff. When the flight was west of the departure end of the runway, at 1358:29, the airplane made a left climbing turn and proceeded in a southerly direction attaining the maximum GPS altitude of 817 feet mean sea level (msl). Between 1359:16, and 1359:24, the airplane continued on a southerly heading but descended from 817 feet to 804 feet msl. The airplane continued in a southerly heading while descending with an increasing ground speed until about 1359:35, then a right 270 degree turn was initiated. The airplane then proceeded in a southerly direction while descending, and the last GPS target at 1359:53, was located at 29.03224 degrees North latitude and 082.3862 degrees West longitude. The airplane at that time was flying at 154 feet GPS altitude on a southerly heading at 105 knots groundspeed. The accident site was located 0.11 nautical mile and 227 degrees from the last GPS data point. A copy of the report and downloaded data are contained in the NTSB public docket.


The airplane crashed in the Halpata Tastanaki Preserve managed by the Southwest Florida Water Management District; the farthest most identified debris associated with the airplane away from the main wreckage consisted of a checklist which was located at 29 degrees 01.909 minutes North latitude and 082 degrees 23.206 minutes West longitude, or about 450 feet and 042 degrees from the main wreckage location. Further inspection of the accident site area revealed a separated section of the right wing containing the aileron was located in close proximity to the main wreckage; the separated wing section was located at 29 degrees 01.859 minutes North latitude and 082 degrees 23.261 degrees West longitude. The main wreckage consisting of the fuselage, full section of left wing, section of right wing, and empennage was located inverted on a magnetic heading of approximately 268 degrees at 29 degrees 01.854 minutes North latitude and 082 degrees 23.266 minutes West longitude. That location when plotted was located approximately 1.71 nautical miles and 187 degrees from the departure end of runway 28. The heading from the checklist to the main wreckage was approximately 223 degrees, with pieces of the canopy slightly west of the line between the 2 points.

Examination of the uprighted wreckage revealed the engine was separated and came to rest inverted forward of the resting position of the main wreckage; the engine sustained heat damage.

Examination of the wreckage revealed all components necessary to sustain flight were attached or in close proximity to the resting position of the main wreckage. There was no evidence of pre or postimpact fire to any observed airframe components, including the firewall.

Examination of the left wing revealed it was full span and the aileron and flap remained attached. The leading edge exhibited impact damage consistent with tree contact between 45 and 89 inches outboard of the wing root. The right wing exhibited leading edge impact damage consistent with tree contacts centered at 17 inches and 68 inches outboard of the wing root. The wing was fractured at the outer tree strike location and the outer portion of the wing contained the aileron; the aileron push/pull rod was fractured in bending overload at the outer wing fracture location. The vertical and horizontal stabilizers remained attached and the rudder, elevator, and elevator trim tab remained attached. Flight control continuity was confirmed for roll, pitch, and yaw from each respective flight control surface to each cockpit control. The flaps were extended an unknown amount and the flap selector was positioned full aft.

Examination of the cockpit revealed the master switch was down, the AV/EIS switch was down, and the Strobe/Nav switch was in the up position. The elevator trim tab selector was positioned full forward and the elevator trim tab was full tab trailing edge down. A shutoff valve installed on the outlet fitting of fuel tank was in the on position; the fitting was fractured at the attach point of the fuel tank. The fuel supply line from the fuel tank to a shutoff valve mounted on the instrument panel was fractured at the inlet of the fuel shutoff valve, and the fuel supply line from the outlet of the fuel shutoff valve to the firewall fitting was fractured approximately 12.5 inches from the fuel shutoff valve, or adjacent to the B-nut at the firewall. A small diameter hole was noted in the line approximately 1 inch from the fracture point, and heavy corrosion was noted on the exterior surface of the line. Cracks were noted on one side of the line from the fracture point parallel to the line, and a crack was noted intersecting the hole perpendicular to the line. The carburetor heat control cable was noted to be in close proximity to the fracture point of the fuel line, which was retained for further investigation. The fuel shutoff valve at the instrument panel was confirmed to be in the "OFF" position, which agreed with the as-found position of the handle.

Examination of the canopy revealed the frame and Plexiglas pieces were fragmented and were found both immediately adjacent to the main wreckage and also along the path. The canopy remained structurally attached by the hinge on the right side, while the airframe structure adjacent to the lower portion of the frame on the left side was heavily impact damaged. The corresponding portion of the canopy frame was nearly straight and did not exhibit significant impact damage. Further examination of the canopy revealed it contained forward and aft latches each containing 2 latch positions (taxi and takeoff). Examination of each latch revealed no evidence of significant impact damage or deformation. Examination of the mating section of the airframe revealed no evidence of significant damage to either slot, and no damage was noted to the lower surface of the phenolic blocks beneath the airframe structure.

Further examination of the fuel supply system revealed residual 100 low lead fuel was noted between the fuel strainer and outlet of the auxiliary fuel pump. The bowl of the fuel strainer was removed and the screen was clean; corrosion was noted at the bottom of the bowl. The auxiliary fuel pump checked satisfactory when electrically tested.

Examination of the Ameri-King Corporation Model AK-450 emergency locator transmitter (ELT) revealed it was separated from its mounting location but remained attached to the airplane by the antenna connection. The switch was found in the off position. Examination of the ELT mounting bracket installed on the right side of the airplane aft of the seat and adjacent to the fuselage sidewall, parallel to the wings, revealed the lower portion of the bracket was secured by 3 rivets to a horizontal oriented piece of aluminum, which was secured to a longeron on the right side by rivets. The piece of aluminum did not exhibit any raised edges on any of the sides; however, the right side was immediately adjacent to the right fuselage skin. Examination of the ELT mounting bracket revealed the latch was disconnected, with no evidence of damage to the latch mechanism, and the lower horizontal portion attached to an aluminum plate exhibited slight deformation near the fuselage sidewall skin. The separated ELT was re-positioned into the bracket properly oriented for direction of flight and the latch was closed and secured, which revealed minimal force was required to dislodge the ELT from the bracket. Further, the lack of a raised edge on the forward side of the aluminum plate allowed the ELT to slide completely out of the bracket and away from the aluminum plate. Field testing of the ELT revealed it operated but the signal was weak. A sticker on the exterior surface of the ELT indicates "Replace Main Batteries by Date: 5-16." The ELT was retained for further examination.

Examination of the engine revealed the propeller and portion of engine mount remained attached, but the engine mount and one propeller blade were fractured. Heat damage was noted to the engine-driven fuel pump, ignition system components, and alternator, which precluded testing. Both ignition coils which remained attached to the alternator mount plate were heat damaged which precluded testing. The alternator mount plate was removed to facilitate hand rotation of the propeller in the normal direction of rotation. Crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train continuity was confirmed to all cylinders, the rear of the engine, and to the engine-driven fuel pump drive; however, no suction and compression was noted at the No. 3 cylinder during hand rotation of the propeller. The No.3 cylinder was removed and the ring gaps of both compression rings were nearly aligned. The carburetor which separated from the engine but remained attached to the airframe by the control cable was dirt contaminated; however, there was no evidence of fire damage. The inlet fitting of the carburetor was open to the environment, and removal of the carburetor bowl revealed evidence of internal corrosion.

Examination of the propeller revealed one blade was full span and exhibited cracks on the leading edge near the hub between 3 and 16 inches inboard from the blade tip and also near the hub, while the other blade was fracture and heat damaged about 11 inches outboard from the hub. A piece of the fractured blade containing an emblem of the manufacturer consisting of the middle section of the blade was located at the accident site area.


A postmortem examination of the remains of the pilot was performed by the District Five Medical Examiner's Office. The cause of death was listed as "Multiple blunt force injuries due to airplane crash."

Forensic toxicology testing was not performed.


The NTSB retained ELT was sent to the FAA Los Angeles Aircraft Certification Office for examination and testing at the manufacturer's facility with FAA oversight. Testing of the ELT consisted of a transmitter functional test, periodic maintenance test, acceptance test report (ATP), and measurement of the voltage of the alkaline batteries; the testing was performed on May 27, 2015. During the transmitter functional test, a swept tone signal was barely audibly heard and faded out during the first test. A subsequent test no tone was heard. During the periodic maintenance test steps 1 through 3 could not be performed as they are done on aircraft, but during test of the beacon the same weak swept tone response for the tests (functional and G-switch) was noted; the signal power was measured to be 21.3 dBM (minimum specification is 17.0 dBM). The ELT main unit expiration date was listed as May 16, 2011. All batteries voltage measured 1.565 volts or higher, and no evidence of battery leakage was noted; all batteries replace date were March 2016. A functional test of the G-switch was performed with the ELT main unit switch in the arm position and rapid forward and aft movement of the ELT; the main unit light illuminated as expected and a very weak swept tone was heard. A copy of the report from FAA is contained in the NTSB public docket.

A review of the installation and operation manual instructions by the ELT manufacturer indicates the specified mounting tray consists of a flat piece with raised edges on the forward and aft sides of the tray extending across the width of the tray, and raised edges on both sides of the tray extend for a certain length of the tray. The tray by design is intended to prevent movement of the ELT out of the tray as a result of impact forces.

Examination of the fractured fuel supply line from the fuel shutoff valve on the instrument panel to a fitting installed on the firewall was performed by the NTSB Materials Laboratory located in Washington, D.C. The results of the examination revealed severe pitting corrosion of both the tube and cockpit side fittings in the area of separation. The corrosion had removed significant material from the surfaces of the fittings and from both the exterior and interior surfaces of the tube. No fracture features were present on the tube separation. A hole and cracks were also apparent adjacent to the separation, and were consistent with corrosion penetration. The remaining length of the cockpit side tube showed lesser amounts of corrosion, and the engine side fuel tube showed little or no corrosion. A copy of the NTSB Materials Laboratory Factual Report is contained in the NTSB public docket.


Search and Rescue

According to the NTSB Survival Factors Specialist's Factual Report, during a search for the missing airplane, the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) provided video of the Tampa area radar to the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Incident Commander. During the search process, two incident command centers were established. The first incident command center for the Citrus County Sheriff's Office was established at the Homosassa fire station, and consisted of multiple local and state agencies. The second incident command center for the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) was located in Bradenton, Florida, which was nearly 1.5 hours away. The report further indicates that an air search was performed by the Marion County special operations unit of the area south of the departure airport; however, the wreckage was not visually spotted. A copy of the report is contained in the NTSB public docket.

During the search for the missing airplane, or about 3 days after the missing airplane was reported, a detective with the Citrus County Sheriff's contacted the NTSB and relayed that he was at the incident command post at the Homosassa fire station with multiple local and state agencies, and about 100 personnel involved in a ground based search for the missing flight. The detective stated that he felt they were not looking in the correct area and the personnel from the CAP were not located at their command post. He also indicated he felt there was miscommunication among the multiple agencies and the CAP because CAP was located at a different location. The individual also expressed frustration to NTSB about the lack of coordination with AFRCC, and the person who was trying the find the airplane based on radar data. Subsequently, the NTSB put the 2 individuals in contact with each other. Copies of the NTSB Record of Conversations with the individuals are contained in the NTSB public docket.

The wreckage was subsequently located beneath the area that was aerially searched by the special operations unit of the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Radar Data

According to the NTSB Radar Summary, empirical radar target data for the departure airport information indicates that the floor of radar coverage was between 1,000 and 1,200 feet mean sea level. Correlating of recorded GPS data with radar data revealed radar data does not match the recorded GPS data; therefore, the accident airplane did not climb high enough to be seen by the radar. A copy of the radar summary and radar used for it is contained in the NTSB public docket.

NTSB Identification: ERA14FA464 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, April 05, 2014 in Dunnellon, FL
Aircraft: FORTUNA DAVE SONEX, registration: N229P
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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On April 5, 2014, a Fortuna Sonex, N229P, did not arrive at its intended destination and was reported overdue/missing on April 7, 2014. A private pilot was on board and his injury is unknown. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area at the time and a flight plan was not filed. The flight originated about 1355 eastern daylight time from Marion County Airport (X35), Dunnellon, Florida, and was destined for Zephyrhills Municipal Airport (ZPH), Zephyrhills, Florida. An emergency locator beacon signal has not been reported.

Personnel at X35 reported observing the airplane depart from runway 28, momentarily lost sight due to obstructions, then noted the airplane proceeding in a southerly direction. The individuals lost sight of the airplane as it continued south.

Any witnesses should email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

FAA Flight Standards District Office:     FAA Orlando FSDO-15

 Sonex Aircraft Sonex, N229P:

NTSB Identification: ERA14FAMS1 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, April 05, 2014 in Unknown, UN
Aircraft: FORTUNA DAVE SONEX, registration: N229P
Injuries: Unavailable

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

On April 5, 2014, a Fortuna Sonex, N229P, did not arrive at its intended destination and was reported overdue/missing on April 7, 2014. A private pilot was on board and his injury is unknown. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area at the time and a flight plan was not filed. The flight originated about 1355 eastern daylight time from Marion County Airport (X35), Dunnellon, Florida, and was destined for Zephyrhills Municipal Airport (ZPH), Zephyrhills, Florida. An emergency locator beacon signal has not been reported.

Personnel at X35 reported observing the airplane depart from runway 28, momentarily lost sight due to obstructions, then noted the airplane proceeding in a southerly direction. The individuals lost sight of the airplane as it continued south.

Theodore Weiss 

Marion County, Florida -- The plane belonging to a Zephyrhills man who disappeared back in April has been found in Marion County, with skeletal remains inside.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office says a man hiking in the woods at the Pruitt Trailhead found the site of the crashed plane on Sunday night.

The aircraft was last known to be piloted by Theodore Weiss, who vanished with his plane on April 5. Deputies have not yet been able to confirm if the remains are Weiss'.

Weiss was last seen taking off from Dunnellon Airport on Saturday, April 5. He never arrived at his destination in Zephyrhills.

See Also: Search for missing plane raises more questions than answers

When Weiss went missing, dozens of agencies participated in the search. The Citrus County Sheriff's Office and the Hernando County Sheriff's Office searched 41,000 acres of forest area between the Dunnellon Airport and Zephyrhills, but could not find Weiss or his plane.

The NTSB and the FAA have been notified and will be arriving on scene to begin their investigation.

10 News will have more on this developing story.

Posted: 9:43 a.m. Monday, Oct. 20, 2014 

Man finds plane, skeletal remains in Marion County woods


A man walking through the woods at the Pruitt Trailhead found the site of a plane crash, along with skeletal remains, said the Marion County Sheriff's Office Monday.

Authorities said the plane was last piloted by Theodore Weiss, who was reported missing, along with his plane, on April 5, 2014.

Authorities said they have not yet confirmed that the remains that were found were Weiss'.

Weiss was last seen departing from the Dunnellon airport on Saturday, April 5 and never arrived at his intended destination in Zephyrhills.

The plane that was found Sunday night was a white, experimental-type, two seat, low-wing aircraft with a green stripe and "N229P" on the tail section.

When Weiss was reported missing, dozens of agencies participated in the search, which extended through 41,000 acres of forest area between the Dunnellon airport and Zephyrhills.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration have been notified and are investigating.

- Source:

Theodore T. “Teddy” Weiss

Law enforcement authorities and volunteers still are working to find a pilot and airplane that have been missing since April 5.

Theordore T. “Teddy” Weiss, 74, left the Dunnellon/Marion County Airport that day around 2 p.m., bound for Zephyrhills. He never arrived at his intended destination.

Weiss is a resident of Zephyrhills and New York. He is an experienced pilot who has made trips to and from Dunnellon many times.

Intensive ground and air searches have not yielded any clues. Although ground searches have been suspended at the present time, volunteers with the Florida Wing of the Civil Air Patrol are continuing to fly over different areas trying to locate the fixed-wing, single-engine Sonex two-seater.

They will fly Thursday and again Friday, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. If the patrol finds anything that needs checking out, a ground crew will be dispatched.

Marion County Sheriff’s Office Detective T.J. Watts, who is leading the local investigation, flew last week with his agency’s aviation unit looking for the aircraft. Watts said they flew over Dunnellon and into Citrus County, particularly examining swampy areas.

The MCSO Field Force Unit also has rechecked trails from the airport to the county line, using all-terrain vehicles.

Citrus and Hernando officials, who had organized searches in the Withlacoochee State Forest, said they have suspended efforts until they receive any new information.

Local officials are asking anyone who goes on the Withlacoochee River to be on the lookout for unusual items or objects in the water. Those who live near the water are asked to report any broken trees or limbs, or other unusual sights.

The National Transportation Safety Board recently released a preliminary, two-paragraph report that states that a flight plan was not filed and that there has been no report of an emergency locator beacon signal.

People at the airport who saw the plane take off told officials it flew off Runway 28 and went out of sight in southerly direction.

Authorities said there has not been any activity on Weiss’ debit or credit cards since he was reported missing.

Anyone with any information can call Watts at 425-3860.

Updated: Tuesday, April 22 2014, 05:09 AM EDT 

 Lecanto, Fla. -- It's been more than two weeks since a local pilot went missing in the skies over western Central Florida. Ted Weiss, 74, of Hopewell, took off from the Marion County Airport on April 5 after an experimental plane meeting. Headed back to his vacation home in Zypherhills, the roughly 77-mile trip should have taken about 40 minutes, but Weiss never made it to his destination. A veteran pilot, Weiss has been flying for 50 years, and fellow pilots at the Hopewell Airpark said he is an expert mechanic. They have no idea what could have happened to Weiss or his Sonex plane.

A massive multi-agency search, both on the ground and in the air, hasn't turned up any clues about his disappearance. It is a mystery that's captivated communities both in Florida and Hopewell. "

Everybody is just sort of wondering what's going on, you know what happened to him," said Steven Fiester, Weiss' neighbor. 

Fiester watches over the pilot's home while he winters in Florida. Usually, Weiss comes back to Ontario County in May, but now Fiester doesn't know if he'll ever see his friend again. "He flew through a dead spot between the radars and they lost him and they haven't been able to find his wreckage or him or anything," said Fiester. In between two Florida counties, Weiss flew into a dead zone where there is no radar. 

The aircraft was last detected somewhere over Withlacoochee State Forest, a densely wooded area that spans more than 150,000 acres. It's an area investigators said a small plane could easily disappear with hardly a trace, comparing the search to finding a needle in a haystack.

Fiester said he's heard from Wiess' friend in Florida that tried to volunteer to help in the search but were turned away because of the dangerous terrain. "They said that they can't get through the wildlife refuge down there," Fiester said. "They have to use machetes just to get the horses through." 

Authorities used machetes to comb 3,000 to 4,000 acres of thick woods, but on April 12, five days into the search, investigators pulled out of the forest and cancelled the ground search. While investigators said they've exhausted their efforts on foot, air searches will continue with new ground searches to be conducted as needed. More than 1,000 miles away, friends said they feel helpless as they continue to hold onto hope that Weiss will return to his home Hopewell. Fiester said waiting for answers from Florida has been difficult. "It's just kind of strange, you know," he said, "you know him and to not know where he is or what's going on."


Theodore (Teddy) Weiss of Hopewell is an experienced pilot who has not been seen since he departed Dunnellon Airport in Florida on April 5. The plane pictured here is not the aircraft he was flying when he was last seen.   Submitted by Lloyd Wade 

Posted Apr. 20, 2014 @ 6:00 am

Canandaigua, N.Y.

HOPEWELL — Longtime Hopewell resident and pilot Theodore (Teddy) Weiss has been flying planes for the last 50 years. On April 5, the 74-year-old aviator climbed into the cockpit of a two-seat, low-wing plane and departed from Dunnellon Airport in Florida, some 77 miles north of his winter residence in Zephyrhills. He has not been seen or heard from since.

On April 8, the airport manager reported Weiss missing, saying he had never arrived at his destination in Zephyrhills. The Marion County Sheriff's Office launched a massive, multi-agency investigation and search that scoured 3,000 to 4,000 acres of thick woods with big overlaying trees. From the air and on the ground, rescue personnel searched for the plane, described as a white experimental-type aircraft with a green stripe and "N229P" on the tail section.

Now, more than two weeks after the day he was last seen, Weiss is still missing. Radar last detected the aircraft somewhere over the Citrus County or Hernando County portion of the densely wooded 157,479-acre Withlacoochee State Forest in central western Florida.

“We have no updates at this point,” said Captain James Pogue, of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. “Civil Air Patrol reported an airplane, a flight path, and showed how it was flying low. Hernando and Citrus counties were handling the search efforts. They did quite an extensive search in their counties based on radar information.”

A search command post was set up at the Homosassa Fire Department to organize efforts by law enforcement officers and civilian volunteers from multiple agencies, including the Marion County Sheriff's Office, Marion County Fire and Rescue, Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, Hernando County Fire and Rescue, Hernando County Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, Sumter Sheriff’s Office, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, South Florida Water Management District, Sarasota K-9 Search and Rescue, and Hernando County State Emergency Management.

Weiss’ longtime friend and fellow pilot, Lloyd Wade of Canandaigua, watches the calendar and grows more anxious with each passing day.

"I have known him about 15 years,” said Wade. “We fly together — I've flown with him down in Florida. He’s very experienced and knows what he’s doing.”

Wade said his friend has been manning a cockpit for five decades, and has even built three or four aircraft on his own.

“I believe he owns a number of aircraft right now,” said Wade, “more than one in Florida, one in Chapin, and one in South Carolina.”

On April 12, after five days of intensive ground and air search, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office announced that the combined Unified Ground Search Teams had suspended their ground search effort.

“Air searches will continue and new ground search requests will be investigated as needed,” stated Denise Moloney in a formal press release. “Based upon the information received from the lead investigative agency and the radar data analyzed by the Civil Air Patrol and U.S. Air Force, we feel that we have exhausted our efforts and diligently searched our ground search area.”

Questions regarding the ongoing missing-person investigation may be referred to Captain James Pogue of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office at (352) 368-3527, or (352) 266-7048, or


(Theodore Weiss pictured in red shirt) 

 Citrus County Sheriff's Office
Commander Buddy Grant briefs several media outlets about the latest on the search for the missing pilot.

 Sonex Aircraft Sonex, N229P

April 12 - Both Command Post Captains went up in a helicopter this afternoon to get a view of the search area. 

WEEKI WACHEE — A renewed search in Hernando County for missing Zephyrhills pilot Theodore Weiss was called off Tuesday afternoon after searchers said they had exhausted all leads.

Hernando County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Denise Moloney said that 19 searchers from the Hernando Sheriff's Office, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Forest Service spent several hours combing the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area in an area of dense forest near U.S. 19 and Centralia Road, north of Weeki Wachee, in response to signals from an emergency locator transmitter, or ELT.

Over the weekend, Civil Air Patrol pilots began picking up weak and erratic signals that they thought could be coming from Weiss' missing aircraft. Weiss, 74, was reported missing on April 7. He had taken off from Dunnellon/Marion County Airport in a small kit plane two days earlier but never arrived at his destination in Pasco County.

His small, white and green two-seat Sonex plane disappeared from radar over the Withlacoochee State Forest. Searchers spent six days searching the woods of Citrus and Hernando counties but found no trace of the pilot or his plane. The Hernando Sheriff's Office suspended the ground search on Saturday evening.

According to Maj. Joseph Tomasone, a spokesman for the Florida wing of the Civil Air Patrol, pilots in recent days had detected several signals from ELTs in the area, including a weak and intermittent signal believed to be coming from somewhere within Chassahowitzka, several miles west of the original search area. Tomasone said the signal could be from the missing plane, but he couldn't be certain. A weak signal is indicative of an ELT with a very low battery, he said.

Given the weak signal and dense forest, finding the source would be a tall order, Tomasone said.

Moloney said the Sheriff's Office would continue to track down any leads it receives.

“The combined Unified Ground Search Teams have suspended the ground search effort at this time,” according to a news release sent today by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, which was the lead agency in the search for Theodore Weiss, 74, who disappeared last weekend.

“Air searches will continue and new ground search requests will be investigated as needed,” the release said. “Based upon the information received from the lead investigative agency and the radar data analyzed by the Civil Air Patrol and U.S. Air Force, we feel that we have exhausted our efforts and diligently searched our ground search area.”

Multiple law enforcement and rescue agencies were involved in the search for Weiss, whose two-seater, experimental-type plane disappeared after he left the Dunnellon Airport in Marion County April 5, en route to the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport.

When he didn’t return home, worried friends went to the Zephyrhills airport where they found his car still parked and his airplane hangar empty, said Mike Handrahan, manager of the Zephyrhills airport. They then reported Weiss missing, he said.

Weiss had been in Marion County for the second annual Spring Sonex Fest sponsored by the Florida Sonex Association, of which he is a member, said Maj. Joseph Tomasone of the Florida Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. Weiss’ airplane is a Sonex kit plane.

 LECANTO — Lt. Steve Vitt said he seldom had encountered vegetation as thick and arduous as what he rode through Thursday as his team searched for missing 74-year-old pilot Theodore Weiss of Zephyrhills.  

At times, Vitt, who commands the volunteer Citrus County Sheriff's Office mounted posse, and the others were forced to dismount and use machetes to hack away the thick vines that ensnared their horses.

"It's really made for some tough going for us," Vitt said. "You don't move very fast through stuff like that."

In the fourth day of their search for the missing pilot, crews concentrated on an area of the Withlacoochee State Forest east of County Road 491 and north of County Road 480 in south Citrus County.

One of the most densely wooded areas of the Citrus Tract of the forest, with large stands of pine, oak and cypress trees, some sections are so remote that avid hikers and trail horse riders rarely visit there. And it's the kind of place that a small plane could easily disappear with hardly a trace, said Sheriff's Office Lt. Buddy Grant.

"Talk about a needle in a haystack," Grant said as he pointed to a map of the roughly 5- by 10-mile swath that crews began searching Monday.

Between 120 and 135 searchers — including law enforcement personnel from Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Sumter, Levy and Marion counties; the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Florida Forest Service — have concentrated their efforts in an area authorities believe to be the likely route Weiss would have taken from Dunnellon/Marion County Airport, from which he departed on Saturday, to Zephyrhills Municipal Airport.

Weiss' plane was reported missing after worried friends went to the Zephyrhills airport and found his car still parked there and his airplane hangar empty. Grant said that according to information from the Civil Air Patrol, radar in Gainesville and Tampa reaches sections of Weiss' likely route, but neither radar system is capable of capturing planes in a "dead zone" over a section of the forest.

"It's a lot of area that's not covered by radar, and a place where we thought we should look first," Grant said of the location where the search has been taking place.

Friends have described Weiss as an experienced pilot who frequently flew to New York, where he lives part of the year. The small, single-engine Sonex two-seater craft is described as a popular "kit" plane that was built by hand in the early 2000s by Dave Fortuna, a pastor in Louisiana. He sold the aircraft to a buyer from Atlanta in 2003.

According to Maj. Joseph Tomasone of the Florida Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, Weiss had been in Marion County for the second annual Spring Sonex Fest, sponsored by the Florida Sonex Association, of which he is a member.

Hernando County sheriff's spokeswoman Denise Moloney said Thursday that her agency will take the lead role in the search as of 8 a.m. Friday. The command post,, however, will remain at the Homosassa Fire Department on S Lecanto Highway in Lecanto.

Lecanto, Florida -- Right now, more than 125 people are scouring some of the thickest woods in Florida searching for missing pilot Theodore Weiss.  

Investigators believe his small plane likely went down Saturday in the Withlacoochee State Forest in Citrus County after he left Dunnellon Airport near Ocala, heading for Zephyrhills.

The huge effort to find the pilot and his plane is based out of a command post on the edge of the forest in Lecanto.

Teams there have come from all over, including firefighters from Ocala and deputies from places closer to home like Spring Hill.

Given orders and search areas just after sunrise, more than 100 people from eight public agencies fanned out.

They need to cover 40,000 acres of state forest. It's the area Ted Weiss was crossing when his experimental plane vanished from radar Saturday.

"What we're looking for is not easy to spot," Commander Buddy Grant of the Citrus County Sheriff's Office said.

"People think 'a plane,' you know. But depending how it went in -- if it did crash -- and how it crashed, it could be a very small footprint. It could be about the size of a lawnmower."

Sheriff's Posse volunteers on horseback joined professionals riding ATVs and walking on foot to head into an enormous forest.

Hazards are everywhere: snakes, cactus, ankle-breaking potholes, even a suspect from another case who may be hiding in the very thick woods.

"Some of it's accessible by foot, some of it's accessible by vehicle, and some of it only by horseback," Grant said.

"So it's getting all of those things and the right resources in the right areas to make sure we don't miss anything."

There are several issues that add to the mystery of Weiss and his Sonex experimental aircraft. There has been no signal detected from the plane's emergency locator beacon that's designed to turn on if the aircraft crashes. He left his cell phone where he took off, in Dunnellon. He did not file a flight plan -- although he was not required by law to file one in this case. And when his plane disappeared from radar, it was not following a path that would take it to Zephyrhills, his home airport.

Teams have been working from the command post in Lecanto since Tuesday. They plan to search until nightfall Wednesday, and potentially beyond.

CITRUS COUNTY – More than 125 people from several law enforcement agencies have joined the search for a pilot who flew off in his aircraft Saturday afternoon from the Dunnellon/Marion County Airport but never arrived at his destination of Zephyrhills. 

The missing pilot is Theodore T. “Teddy” Weiss, 74. The last known coordinates for his airplane were near Trail 10 in a portion of the Withlacoochee State Forest in Citrus County.

Citrus County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Heather Yates said more than 125 people showed up around 8 a.m. Wednesday at a command post set up at 4400 S. Lecanto Highway in Lecanto, where they were receiving their assignments.

Yates said the search detail includes 30 all-terrain vehicles from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; law enforcement personnel from Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Sumter, Levy and Marion counties; helicopters from Citrus and Hernando counties; aircraft from the Civil Air Patrol and U.S. Forest Service; and members of Community Emergency Response Teams in Citrus and Hernando counties.

Dunnellon airport manager John Helms told a Marion County Sheriff's Office deputy on Monday that Weiss departed at about 2 p.m. Saturday in his fixed-wing, single-engine Sonex two-seater, with white and green stripes, heading to Zephyrhills. Helms said Zephyrhills airport officials later told him Weiss' vehicle was still at the hangar but his aircraft was not there.

The land search detail on Tuesday worked until 7 p.m. Helicopters from the Citrus County Sheriff's Office continued looking throughout the night but did not find the airplane.

Theodore Weiss, 74, was bound for Zephyrhills but never reached his destination, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

A representative from the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport confirmed that Weiss never arrived but declined to comment further.

Weiss was reported missing on Monday.

The search for the missing plane now includes the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Air Force, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office and the Civil Air Patrol.

Major Joseph Tomasone is the Mission Information Officer with the Florida Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary of the United States Air Force. He said Weiss flew into Marion County on Saturday morning for a get-together with other pilots who fly the same type of plane.

“(Weiss) took off Saturday afternoon,” he said, “presumably heading home. He never arrived.”

Citrus and Hernando sheriff’s deputies combed the Withlacoochee State Forest on all-terrain vehicles and in helicopters Tuesday afternoon along Weiss’ planned flight trajectory, said Citrus sheriff’s spokeswoman Heather Yates. 

Radar from Gainesville tracks aircraft flying in that part of the state.

Going south over Citrus County, radar from Tampa begins tracking aircraft. The switch makes for a momentary dead zone over the forest where aircraft is tracked by neither radar system.

That’s where Weiss was lost.

“The Withlacoochee Forest is kind of like a black hole,” Yates said. “That’s what pilots call it.”
The civil air patrol has been searching since 2 p.m. Monday.

The plane, Tomasone said, had an emergency locator translator (ELT) on board, which would activate either on impact or with high gravitational forces.

“There have been no reported signals for the ELT,” he said.

It’s not unusual, he said, for a small-engine plane to go missing, but he said one thing about the situation struck him as odd.

“The pilot was not on a direct path to Zephyrhills airport,” he said. “He was in a more southerly route to Tampa, so we’re checking area airports in case he decided to land somewhere else.”

The listed address for Weiss is Colony Hills Drive in Zephyrhills. He also has an address in New York state and is registered to vote in Ontario County.

He was certified as a private pilot in December of 2005. His pilot license record says he must wear corrective lenses for distance vision and glasses for near vision.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration registry, Weiss’ plane type is a fixed-wing single-engine Sonex experimental plane, built from a homemade airplane kit.

According to the Sonex aircraft website, the plane is equipped to hold 16 gallons of fuel.
The plane was issued a certificate by the FAA on Jan. 30, 2012.

According to neighbor Richard Greenshields, 81, Weiss was retired and came to Florida from New York during the winter months. Greenshields said Weiss is a nice, quiet man.

“He kept to himself and he was friendly to everybody,” he said.

Greenshields said Weiss has a garage he used to build an airplane and store motorcycles, and that Weiss liked to travel around the country to look at airplanes.

“He liked to fly and liked to run motorcycles,” Greenshields said. “He was interested in doing things like that. He built a garage to do tinkering in.”

Greenshields said he thought Weiss was planning to go back north on the first of May. He found out Weiss was missing, he said, when two squad cars showed up outside of Weiss’ house.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

Friday through Sunday were a bad three days for people using small planes over Marion County. Two men were killed and a woman suffered severe burns in two separate crashes.

Now it looks even worse. A pilot who took off in a small plane from the Marion County Airport in Dunnellon on Saturday did not arrive at his destination and is still missing.

Theodore T. “Teddy” Weiss, 74, of Zephyrhills, is an experienced pilot. He was flying a fixed-wing, single-engine Sonex two-seater with white and green stripes.

Authorities were searching in Citrus County in case the airplane crashed there.

Heather Yates, a spokeswoman for the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, said they have set up a command post at a fire station at 4400 S. Lecanto Highway and, from there, are searching for the plane. It may have gone down in the Withlacoochee State Forest, she said.

More than 30 people from the Citrus County and Hernando County sheriff’s offices are using helicopters and all-terrain vehicles, as well as their mounted posses, Yates said.

The territory being searched is about 250 square miles in the forest.

They’re searching that general area, Yates said, because of the last known coordinates they have from the Brooksville office of the Civil Air Patrol.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit also has searched for the plane, as have rescue teams with the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Air Force, according to an MCSO news release.

Deputy Matthew Hooper met with airport manager John Helms at the Dunnellon facility on Monday, according to an MCSO report. The manager told him that Weiss departed at about 2 p.m. heading to Zephyrhills.

Helms said Zephyrhills airport officials told him Weiss’ vehicle was still at the hangar but the aircraft was not there.

Weiss’ girlfriend, Joan H. Backer, 76, of Manchester, N.Y., said he is a snowbird who spends part of his time in Florida and part of his time in New York. She has been sending him messages through his cellphone, Backer said, but has not heard from him.

“I’ve been sending messages to him telling him that I love him and about the glory of God,” Backer said.

She said she usually flies with Weiss from New York to Florida but didn’t do so this time.

Weiss has been flying since he was 19, she said, and is a very cautious and careful pilot.

She said that Weiss built the plane, which is manufactured by Fortuna Dave and has the tail number N229P, and that he made improvements to the aircraft.

“He has done that flight many times before,” she said of the trip from Dunnellon to Zephyrhills.

A Marion County official said Weiss’ plane is not based out of the Dunnellon airport. There are no records of how many times he checked in and out of the facility, as is common with a nontowered airport, the official said.

On Friday, a small plane crashed shortly after takeoff at the Ocala International Airport. The pilot, Helen Helpling, is recovering from injuries — burns to her hands and feet — at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

On Sunday evening, Joseph Sardinas, 70, and Dennis W. Monroe, 65, died when the small plane they were in crashed while filming a scene for a zombie movie in Summerfield.
Theodore T. “Teddy” Weiss

On the 20th of October, a man found the plane wreckage with skeletal remains inside the cockpit. 

It was late in the day, and, I am sure that it was eerie for the discoverer of this site.

Theodore Weiss had gone missing in April, 2014.

There was a massive ground and air search in areas as far away as the Withlacoochee State Forest, by Inverness, and, the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Area.

Theodore Weiss's plane wreckage was found less than 5 miles South of the Dunnellon Airport off of the Pruitt Trail Head, essentially just across the road.

The size of the plane and the thickness of the woods served to hide the crash site very well.

The Sheriff's Department, now knowing the exact location of the site, flew directly over the spot and still could not see the wreckage.

We do live in Florida, and, this is expected.

The wreckage and remains were collected.

The remains were sent to the University of Florida's pathology lab.

Hope that you went quickly and are to be laid to rest soon.

Theodore Weiss -REST IN PEACE!

- Source:

(Theodore Weiss pictured in red shirt) 

NTSB Identification: ERA14FA464 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, April 05, 2014 in Dunnellon, FL
Aircraft: FORTUNA DAVE SONEX, registration: N229P
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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On April 5, 2014, a Fortuna Sonex, N229P, did not arrive at its intended destination and was reported overdue/missing on April 7, 2014. A private pilot was on board and his injury is unknown. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area at the time and a flight plan was not filed. The flight originated about 1355 eastern daylight time from Marion County Airport (X35), Dunnellon, Florida, and was destined for Zephyrhills Municipal Airport (ZPH), Zephyrhills, Florida. An emergency locator beacon signal has not been reported.

Personnel at X35 reported observing the airplane depart from runway 28, momentarily lost sight due to obstructions, then noted the airplane proceeding in a southerly direction. The individuals lost sight of the airplane as it continued south.