Thursday, November 20, 2014

Low and Slow: Pilots assemble aircraft to feel the wind

Jim Schroeder (left) and Henry Bader stood at the Le Mars Municipal Airport Thursday by a Sonex plane they built together. It took the gentlemen several years to construct the aircraft in their spare time. It travels at about 120 mph and cruises at an altitude of about 8,000 to 9,000 feet. 
 (Sentinel photo by Bennet Goldstein) 

If you see two airplanes gliding low in the sky over a snaking creek, it may be Le Mars residents Jim Schroeder and Henry Bader spreading their wings.

Or if you own a restaurant in a nearby county, and a group of hungry pilots suddenly appears in your entryway after landing their planes, you would be serving pancakes at a flight breakfast.

The activities you witnessed are just some of the things the two are able to do in their free time using the light sport aircraft they assembled themselves.

Those are the sorts of planes people build in their living rooms, said Le Mars aircraft dealer Tom Mullally.

They are light and strong, and make human flight affordable, he said.

Parts, paint, electronics and space rental for a light aircraft can start at $17,000, with upper limits determined by the builder's desire to customize the plane.

For these two pilots, the bells and whistles under a plane's skin are not what draw them to aviation.

It's the joy of flying low and slow.


Bader's passion for flight ignited in his native St. Libory, Neb.

He remembers watching veterinarians flying over alfalfa fields in the 1940s.

"Instead of driving a car, a lot of times they just flew to the farm places. That was so much faster for them," he said.

Bader, 85, learned to fly shortly before he served in the Korean War.

As soldier in the US Army, he was trained to spot enemy aircraft.

He also dropped mail to the front lines.

Bader also piloted after he moved to Le Mars in 1964.

"After a hard day's work, I'd just go fly around here to relax," he said.

Schroeder, 75, received flight lessons in high school.

"Back in 1957, my uncle Joel McCormick ran the airport out here (in Le Mars). As a high school graduation gift, he gave me some flight hours in aircraft," Schroeder said.

Schroeder remembers learning to fly in a tandem airplane, with the instructor sitting behind him, communicating through a funnel over the blare of the engine.

Schroeder returned to the runway after a 30-year hiatus.

While taking pilot's lessons at the Le Mars Municipal Airport, he noticed other pilots were handling home-built planes.

"It really intrigued me," Schroeder said. "And I thought, 'You know, I think I would like to build an aircraft.'"


For both men, creating things with their hands came naturally to them.

Bader began by building contraptions with his brother.

"We lived on a farm. When it snowed, we wanted to get around," he said.

They created a makeshift snowmobile using a motorcycle engine and a propeller.

"It was pretty crude," Bader said.

The first airplane Bader constructed appeared on the cover of Popular Mechanics magazine in the 1960s.

The Parker Jeanie's Teenie, he said.

Bader was hooked and has constructed aircraft ever since -- four at the moment.

"I like to build and I like to fly," he said. "If I build one and sell it, then I don't have anything to fly, so I've got to build another one."

Schroeder's first airplane took shape in hour-or-two spurts between 1999 and 2002.

He estimated it took him about 600 hours to construct his Challenger aircraft, which he painted to look like a shark.

Burning unleaded gasoline, it flies at about 75 mph.

Cruising altitude is generally between 1,200 and 4,000 feet, Schroeder said.

The Challenger came from a kit, with an instruction book several inches thick.

"It's literally like putting a model airplane together," he said.

Rivets and gussets bracket aluminum tubes, which form the aircraft's frame.

The body is covered in a special fabric similar to rayon, called Ceconite.

It has to be glued and ironed onto the wings.

Schroeder noted fabric may seem like flimsy material for a plane, but even aircraft that flew in WWII used fabric coverings when they were traveling several hundred miles per hour.

The plane is often called a "rag and tube" plane, he joked

"You put rags over metal tubes, and they fly," Schroeder said.

For such a small plane, the Challenger contains sophisticated electronics, he noted.

Altitude, airspeed and fuel levels are all monitored, and measurements delivered to the pilot's control panel.

"It was a real learning curve in order to build this," Schroeder said.

Assembling one's own aircraft is advantageous to the pilot, said Bader.

It familiarizes the pilot with all the aircraft's strengths and weaknesses.

Self-building also allows the pilot to perform maintenance on the craft throughout the year.

"You take care of your equipment better," he said. "You're looking at that thing all year long, trying to spot the problem."


Schroeder's second aircraft was actually a collaborative project he undertook with Bader.

They assembled a Sonex aircraft.

Reflective silver with a single propeller, the aircraft is hangared by the Le Mars Municipal Airport Runway.

The Sonex cruises faster than the duo's other aircraft, "like a sports car," said Schroeder.

The two pilots share rides.

Rather than fly through traffic, cutting sharp turns, they still prefer flight in the slow lane.

"When you fly a fast airplane you're busy flying," Bader said. "When you fly a small, little airplane like these, you're looking outside all the time. You really learn to look out and fly the airplane by feel. You don't use the instruments so much."

Schroeder agrees.

Light aircraft respond to wind gusts, forcing the pilot to pay attention, he said.

Low, slow "flyers" allow pilots to enjoy the scenery of the earth as it passes below.

There are moments when Schroeder has seen pilots fly above cornfields, letting their wheels rub against the tops of cornstalks.

Sometimes he catches smells or sees animals jump when he restarts the engine midair.

"It's the freedom of flight," Schroeder said. "When you're up there and you fly over a town like Le Mars, you look down and it's so small. Your personal problems just kind of vanish when you get the perspective of all this."

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John L. Parish Sr. named to Federal Aviation Administration ‘Roll of Honor’

John L. Parish Sr. of Tullahoma was honored recently by the Federal Aviation Administration with the Wright Brothers’ Master Pilot Award for dedicated service in aviation safety. The award is given to pilots who are accident and violation free for 50 years. Parish is founder of the Beechcraft Heritage Museum in Tullahoma and is currently the museum’s chairman of the board. Parish displays the plaque while standing in front of his Beechcraft King Air. 
–Photo by Chris Barstad

John L. Parish Sr., business executive, pilot and founder of the Beechcraft Heritage Museum in Tullahoma, has received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for having over 50 consecutive years of dedicated service in aviation safety.

As a result of the award, Parish received a certificate and lapel pin, and his name and location are listed on the FAA’s “Roll of Honor.”

As in most of his endeavors, Parish’s long-term excellence as a pilot stems from a passion for flying since early childhood.

“The award is really just recognition of pilots who have had 50 years with no accidents or incidents with their license,” Parish said.

“I’ve always loved flying, ever since I was a kid growing up in Harton Heights during World War II. I loved watching the B-24s and other military aircraft at Northern Field.

“Eventually, Lee Soesbe became my aviation mentor, and I started taking lessons from Bob Bomar in Shelbyville while I was at Vanderbilt, back when Bomar Field was just a grass strip.”

In the 1970s, Parish said he became interested in Beech products, which he still considers one of the highest- quality aircraft manufacturers in the world.

After hosting numerous fly-ins for other aviation enthusiasts, including those that featured the classic “Staggerwing” and other vintage aircraft models, Parish eventually founded the Beechcraft Heritage Museum off the Old Shelbyville Highway to honor the history of these finely crafted planes.

“We contacted Mrs. (Olive) Beech about the museum initially and she frowned on it at first,” he said, “but later she became very supportive.”

Parish added that Mrs. Beech was known as the “brains” behind the business operation of the Beech Corporation, founded in 1932, and was the first woman named to the Fortune Magazine Hall of Fame.

In addition to his private and commercial flying licenses, Parish is certified for Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) for night-time and other low-visibility flying as well as for float-planes, which land on water.

“I used to love flying the King Air planes, but now I mostly enjoy flying my float plane up in Minnesota and Canada,” he said.

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Airport worker wrongly sacked for golf cart crash

A cargo handler who crashed a golf cart at Auckland Airport should not have been fired, the Employment Relations Authority has ruled.

Mohammed Sahim was dismissed by aviation company Menzies International shortly after the incident in July last year, which "smashed" the cart's front wheel and knocked over a 1.5 metre high pile of stacked pallets.

Sahim said the crash had been caused by him accidentally pushing down on the accelerator rather than the brake.

The incident was classed as minor and he was told by a colleague that "accidents do happen".

However, he failed to mention to investigators that he had been sitting on the passenger seat, a fact exposed by video footage from the shed where the crash occurred.

This prompted the company to fire him for "driving recklessly in a company vehicle".

But ERA member Eleanor Robinson said Sahim's actions were negligent rather than reckless, and that a fair and reasonable employer could not have made a decision to dismiss him.

Robinson awarded him $6330.16 in lost wages, $189.90 for KiwiSaver contributions and $6000 for hurt and humiliation, but then cut those awards by 90 percent due to Sahim's actions being "blameworthy". 

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Central Kitsap Junior High students buzz over to Apex Airpark (8W5) for lesson

CK Junior High students stand near a Van's Aircraft RV-8 kit plane as pilot Scott Woodbury talks about aviation during a field trip to Apex Airpark on Nov. 12. From left is Madisyn Smith, Madeline Mills, Marielle Arnold, Kira Ashmore, Olivia Lewis, Claire Freund, Andrew Naumann, Josh Minter and Scott Woodbury. 
— image credit: Chris Tucker

Central Kitsap Junior High students were treated to an up-close lesson in aviation last week. 

Fifty students in the Aviation Classroom Experience program viewed several homebuilt aircraft being assembled, spoke with pilots and watched a little stunt flying during a field trip to Silverdale's tiny Apex Airpark on Nov. 12.

The students broke into groups and rotated through six different sites at the airpark. The sites featured pilot Bill Swope and his helicopter kit, Ian McFall's Van's Aircraft RV-10 airplane, which is under construction, Dan Barry's rebuilt 1943 army Aeronca L-3, Scott Woodbury's Van's RV-8 project, Roger Bailey's Grumman Tiger, which is updated with a "glass" electronic instrument panel, and Jeff Fraisure's turbine engine-powered plane.

At Woodbury's stop, students checked out the unpainted, partially-completed fuselage of a Van's RV-8 homebuilt airplane that Woodbury was assembling.

The blue-and-silver fuselage sat atop wooden blocks inside the workshop. Unfinished wings were set a few feet away from the fuselage, open at the end and revealing the inner structure of ribs and spars.

Woodbury, a former Marine Corps helicopter pilot who has flown for 40 years in numerous roles from logging to firefighting, showed the students an array of tools spread out on a table. A plane like the RV-8 consisted of a thousand small, simple pieces, he said.

"It goes together with cunning and little rivets," Woodbury said of the two-seater craft.

"It's a time-consuming labor of love, really," he said.

It is the first time the class has made a field trip to the airpark said Mark Anderson, teacher for the ACE class. Anderson said the class used aviation to teach students about science, technology, engineering and math.

"Specifically, the idea is to get kids excited about flight," Anderson said.

Students learn about the parts of an airplane, about lift, airfoils, angle-of-attack, the three axes that aircraft rotate on, air traffic control and more. The students use math to calculate the amount of fuel needed for a certain flight.

The ACE class is funded by a $2.5 million Department of Defense Education Activity grant. The grant paid for several Microsoft Flight Simulator programs along with displays and controls for the simulators for four schools including CKJH, Fairview Junior High, Ridgetop Junior High and Klahowya Secondary.

Anderson said both he and his students loved the class.

"It puts so much meaning into stuff that typically kids don't care about," such as mathematics and concepts like latitude and longitude, he said.

"But they do now because they're learning how to fly, and fly (in a simulator) around a globe that spins underneath them when they leave the earth ... kids just seem to gobble it up when it's in this context.

"There is a mixture of lessons involved in the entire course. There are some that have been created by the instructors, and some that are loaded in Microsoft Flight Simulator X."

At the end of their visit one of the pilots took off in front of the students.

"He did a couple of stunts right there above our head," Anderson said.

"All the kids had their cellphones out and they were filming it. It was good stuff."

Anderson hopes to make a return trip, with more students, to the airpark in the spring.

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The Next Climate Policy Fight Could Be All About Airplane Emissions

Environmental groups are pledging to intensify their push on the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft in the wake of a new report showing no improvement in fuel efficiency from U.S. domestic airlines. 

The pledge comes one day after the International Council on Clean Transportation released a report investigating how airline fuel efficiency, and therefore carbon intensity, has changed since 2010. It found that although some airlines increased their fuel efficiency, others had drastic declines, making for a zero net gain in the fuel efficiency of U.S. domestic airlines from 2012 to 2013.

Vera Pardee, a staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, told ThinkProgress on Thursday that the findings prove that airlines won’t take up fuel efficiency protocols voluntarily. And if airlines won’t do it themselves, the EPA needs to step in — and soon. 
“Efficiency efforts have completely stalled. They’re just not making any progress,” Pardee said. “The airlines keep telling us, don’t worry, hands off, we’re already doing everything we can to drive up fuel efficiency. But the report shows that’s just not happening, it’s just not true.”

There are a number of ways airlines can improve fuel efficiency, thereby reducing carbon emissions and costs (fuel represents around 40 percent of airline operating costs). These include adding a gear to turbofan engines, replacing engine parts, using biofuels, or market-based measures like cap and trade.

Working with environment group Friends of the Earth, Pardee said the groups would ramp up pressure on the EPA to develop some kind of requirements in two ways. One, by increasing public awareness, and the other by filing a lawsuit if the EPA does not make progress in issuing the regulations by January. 

Both the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth have been pushing the EPA to regulate aircraft carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act since 2007, when the groups filed a lawsuit against the agency. Eventually, they won — four years later in 2011, the judge on the case found that the EPA must begin the process for crafting the regulations.

The first step in the process, Pardee said, is issuing an “endangerment finding,” which would essentially decide whether aircraft carbon emissions actually need to be regulated to protect public health and the environment. The EPA pledged that the endangerment finding would be completed by early 2014. But that hasn’t happened yet, and the groups threatened to sue the agency again in August over the delay.

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Air traffic controller saves pilot's life (with video)

HOUSTON (KHOU/CBS) - A pilot cheated death last weekend when he found himself trapped above the clouds unable to see the ground, forcing him to put his life in the hands of an air traffic controller.

In the cockpit of his small plane, Mark Nelson tried not to panic.

"You can see the instruments," Nelson said. "But I could not even see the propeller, and this is like five feet away. It was that bad.”

Workers at Houston's regional air traffic control could see the problem, and they made the call.

Air traffic controller Hugh McFarland would talk Nelson to the ground through 8,000 feet of clouds.

"There was no airport around within several hundred miles that had visual conditions," McFarland said.

They thought the clouds might break at about 2,000 feet or 1,000, but they didn't.

Pilots have to be specially licensed to fly in those conditions for good reason.

"I saw some homes about 800 feet below me," Nelson said. "It was just, 'Hallelujah!' I mean, really. I only had a few hundred feet to spare. With Hugh's help, I am glad to be here.”

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Federal Aviation Administration: Drones Spotted Near JFK Airport, Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge, New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The FBI and Federal Aviation Administration are continuing to investigate reports of drones flying near commercial aircraft on approach to John F. Kennedy International Airport this week.

In addition to the drones reported near JFK, the FAA says two more drones were spotted near the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge Thursday afternoon at around 3 p.m. They were spotted by a helicopter pilot.

In the most recent incident near JFK, the pilot of a JetBlue flight from Savannah, Georgia reported seeing a drone about two miles from the runway around 1:50 p.m. Wednesday, the FAA said.

Pilots of two flights reported seeing unmanned aircraft when they were making their final approaches around 8 p.m. Sunday.

The pilots of a Delta flight from San Diego and a Virgin Atlantic flight from London both reported seeing the drones about 10 miles from Runway 22 left at the airport, the FAA said.

“We just had something fly over us, I don’t know if it was a drone or a balloon, it just came real quick,” the pilot of the Virgin Atlantic flight can be heard telling air traffic control in a recording.

The pilots said the drones were flying at altitudes of between 2,000 and 3,000 feet, the FAA said. Drones are not supposed to fly over 400 feet, WCBS 880′s Sean Adams reported.

The reports did not indicate that the pilots had to avoid the drones, and all landed safely, the FAA said.

Nassau County police investigated by air, but found no evidence of drones.

While many are concerned about drones possibly disrupting a plane in flight, other travelers say they’re not too concerned, CBS2′s Andrea Grymes reported.

“It’s dangerous,” said Rudolph Nathaniel, who lives near the airport. “Anything can happen. When birds get into the propellers, into the jet engines, it almost can practically bring it down so having a drone is even worse.”

“I’m not worried about drones,” said air traveler David Wallace.

Alex Bianchi, a passenger headed to Texas from Kennedy Airport, told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck Thursday morning that he believes arresting whoever is flying the drones would be too harsh.

“Arrest is a little extreme,” Bianchi said. “To arrest somebody to me means there’s a little bit of intent behind what he’s doing and I don’t think he’s purposely flying a drone to hit a plane. I think he’s just being a little negligent. It’s not the smartest thing anybody’s ever done, it certainly isn’t the dumbest.”

This is not the first time a possible drone sighting has been reported near the airport.

In March 2013, an Alitalia pilot reported seeing a drone or model plane while also coming in for a landing at Kennedy Airport.

The NTSB ruled on Tuesday that small drones are a type of aircraft and should be subject to existing FAA rules.

Sen. Charles Schumer has been warning since the summer that drone traffic has made New York City “the Wild West of drones” and called on federal officials to speed up regulations.

Story, Video and Comments:

Helicopter Noise: City has unfruitful meeting with Federal Aviation Administration

PORTSMOUTH – City officials traveled to Burlington, Mass. Thursday to see if they could get any help from the Federal Aviation Administration in dealing with noise complaints about Seacoast Helicopters.

But they left the meeting in Massachusetts no better than when they arrived, according to City Manager John Bohenko.

“The meeting went the way we thought it would go,” Bohenko said late Thursday afternoon.

Asked if the FAA offered any help to the city, Bohenko said, “No.”

“We’re going to have to continue working with our Congressional delegation,” Bohenko said. “The city cannot regulate helicopters.”

In addition to city officials, the meeting was attended by representatives of U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D, and Kelly Ayotte, R, Bohenko said.

“If somebody wants to move this further, it needs to be in conservations with our Congressional delegation,” Bohenko said.

Mayor Robert Lister, who attended the meeting Thursday, has previously said city officials would make the trip to “see if we can open the lines of communication.”

City officials had invited FAA officials to attend a public meeting in Portsmouth, but the FAA refused.

The FAA released a statement that said they declined to meet with the public about noise complaints because “airport operators are responsible for addressing noise impacts on the communities they serve.”

“The FAA's primary mission is to ensure the safety and efficiency of our nation's navigable airspace,” they said in a statement. “It does not have the authority to prohibit aircraft overflights of a particular geographic area unless the operation is unsafe, or the aircraft is operated in a manner inconsistent with Federal Aviation Regulations.”

The number of noise complaints received at the Pease Development Authority — which oversees the Portsmouth International Airport at Pease — has jumped dramatically during the last five months when Seacoast Helicopters began conducting its red-helicopter tours over Portsmouth and other Seacoast areas.

Pease Development Authority Executive Director David Mullen has acknowledged there’s really nothing the FAA can do to regulate where Seacoast Helicopters flies as long as they follow FAA rules.

“It is a permitted use and they don’t regulate overflights over Portsmouth,” Mullen said previously.

Seacoast Helicopters owner Bruce Cultrera has repeatedly told the Portsmouth Herald that he is already flying his tours at 1,000 feet or more, higher than he is required to by the FAA.

And he has refused so far to change how he operates his business.

FAA regulations state that helicopters, if their operation is “conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface,” may operate below even the 500 feet requirement for planes flying over non-congested areas, according to a copy of the regulation provided to the Portsmouth Herald.

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Denney Kitfox MK2, Kitfox KFM Group, G-KITY: Accident occurred November 19, 2014 on Counthorpe Lane, Castle Bytham, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

The light aircraft which crashed onto a bungalow roof while attempting to land on a small airstrip near Grantham has been removed this morning.

It was pulled off the property's roof at Black Spring Farm near Castle Bytham by a Land-Rover.

The plane was then cut into manageable pieces by the tenant and a number of assistants using chainsaws.

One source told the Echo: “It’s not exactly a big plane, it’s not a jumbo jet.”

Air accident investigators have begun their work at the scene.

The plane came down near the village of Castle Bytham at just before 2.10pm on Wednesday, November 19.

The light aircraft came down short of a landing field and collided with the bungalow.

The 73-year-old pilot of the aircraft, from Thurnby in Leicestershire, was airlifted to the Queen's Medical Center in Nottingham.

Released from the plane by firefighters from the Lincolnshire fire and Rescue Service, he escaped with leg and back injuries.

His condition is said to be stable and police say his condition is not thought to be life-threatening.

And a 52-year-old tanker driver who was making a delivery was treated for shock at Lincoln County Hospital and later allowed home.

The 61-year-old occupant of the bungalow was with the tanker driver, but was not injured.

The bungalow has been made structurally safe and no-one else was injured.

Investigators from the Civil Aviation Authority's Air Accident Investigation Branch are at the scene.

An AAIB spokesman said:  “We are aware of the incident and are making inquiries.”

It is understood that the aircraft narrowly missed high-voltage power cables when it landed on the roof of the bungalow.

Sources have also told the Echo that the fire service required help from a local pilot who showed firefighters how to turn off the plane’s fuel supply.

Lincolnshire Police are appealing for anyone who saw the crash to call 101 quoting incident number 244 of November 19.

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Bryant L. Francis Named Director of Long Beach Airport (KLGB)

Bryant Francis
Bryant L. Francis, who served as director of airports for the Shreveport Airport Authority in Louisiana, is Long Beach Airport’s new executive director, city officials announced today.

Francis’ appointment will start on Jan, 5, 2015, City Manager Pat West said.

“Mr. Francis is a dedicated, accomplished professional who will provide strong leadership and strategic planning for Long Beach Airport,” West said in a statement. “He will reach out and work collaboratively with all stakeholders, including the community, tenants and our commercial and general aviation partners.”

Francis, who was selected from a national search, will replace Mario Rodriguez, who left in May to lead the Indianapolis Airport Authority. In the meantime, Deputy City Manager Reggie Harrison has been serving as acting airport director while the city conducted its search.

The city touts Francis’ more than 18 years of extensive experience in aviation. including heading the Shreveport Airport Authority since 2012. Francis’ previous jobs included stints as deputy director of Properties & Business Development of the Boise Airport in Idaho; director of Aviation Real Estate for the Wayne County Airport Authority in Detroit; Deputy Director of Aviation – Marketing, Communications and Air Service Development for Palm Springs International Airport in California; and Airport Operations Representative for Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.

“I am passionate about aviation, am committed to fostering positive relationships, and will ensure that Long Beach Airport provides the absolute best service possible to its travelers and to all our business and community partners,” Francis said in a statement.

Francis will be in charge of a municipal airport department that handles about 3 million annual passengers, has a staff of 125 employees and has an annual budget of more than $40 million. He also will manage more than 400 contracts, leases and commercial use permits, the Airport Noise Ordinance, community outreach, environmental matters and capital improvements.

Francis earned his bachelor’s degree in aviation management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, and is a certified member of the American Association of Airport Executives. He is also on the Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) Board of Directors and chairs the AAAE Diversity Committee.

Mayor Robert Garcia said he has “complete confidence” in Francis as the new airport director.

“Mr. Francis has an excellent track record and has shown his ability to lead with vision, skill and integrity,” Garcia said. “I look forward to watching our airport continue to provide outstanding service and offer travelers a unique, positive experience under Mr. Francis’ leadership.”


History of the plane crashes of Vermont: From big Air Force bombers to small empty planes, the Green Mountain State has its share of air tragedies


Brian Linder is a native Vermonter who grew up in Stowe and Waterbury. He is retired from National Life Group but remains as their corporate historian. He is now enjoying retirement as a ski patroller at Stowe Mountain Resort where he also is the historian for the resort. He lives in Waterbury and is working on two books about World War II aviation. Starting with the Camels Hump crash, he has have studied and researched the history of plane crashes in Vermont.

It could have been the plot directly from a Cold War thriller. A lone U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber on high alert during 1960 routinely carried atomic bombs as part of America's deterrent to Soviet aggression. Now imagine a routine mission suddenly going horribly wrong as panic and confusion rapidly engulf the crew.

Despite the desperate screams of the instructor pilot telling the crew to stay on board and fly the bomber, the crew abandoned their plane thinking it was about to crash. As they floated down in their parachutes the B-52 with its lights aglow in the night sky over upstate New York flew away — empty. Hours later the unmanned bomber blew up in a massive explosion when it hit a hillside near Barre. It's not fiction. It happened.

It was in the middle of the night on Dec. 9, 1960, when B-52 No. 55-114 played out this exact scenario except they thankfully didn't have any weapons on board. When one crewman panicked he set off a chain reaction leading the pilots to believe their plane was about to crash. It remains as one of Vermont's most spectacular aviation disasters yet few today remember the state's No. 1 news story of 1960. The city of Barre barely escaped having the massive and empty plane come down inside the city itself.

A huge crater and trench created by the crashing bomber still exist on private land that 54 years later is still littered with small bits of broken wreckage. With varying injuries all of the crew survived except the tail gunner who died when his parachute failed to open. His remains were found in a remote area of the Adirondacks during the following spring.

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Jabiru J450, G-SIMP: Accident occurred June 29, 2012 in Pierre-Buffière, Near Limoges, France

A father and son died when their aircraft broke up in mid-air, after they pulled it sharply out of a sudden nosedive while trying to avoid restricted airspace.

An inquest heard pilot Andrew Hayes, 39, and passenger Roger Hayes, 75, were killed when their aircraft "fell like a stone" into woodland at Pierre-Buffiere in France on June 29 2012.

Mr Hayes Jr, a video producer from Birmingham, and his father, a farmer from Holsworthy, Devon, had been heading to the southern town of Rodez in their white Jabiru 450.

They hit restricted airspace, which they did not have permission to travel through, at around 4,000ft (1,219m) and Mr Hayes Jr attempted a 180-degree turn to leave it.

The pair were in thick cloud at the time and may have suffered from spatial disorientation, causing Mr Hayes Jr to become unaware that the aircraft was nosediving, the inquest heard.

He attempted to pull sharply out of the manoeuvre but this led to a sudden shift in pressure in the aircraft -  first the left wing and then the right to break off in mid-air.

Exeter and Greater Devon Coroner's Court was told that the airspace could have been restricted due to military operations, or a number of other unspecified reasons.

Dr.  Elizabeth Earland, Coroner for Exeter and Greater Devon, concluded that both men died as a result of multiple injuries in "accidental" deaths.

Dr.  Earland said an RAF Puma helicopter had been in the same airspace at around the same time as the accident but there was no collision with the plane.

The two men had set off from Cherbourg before landing at Limoges to refuel, leaving at 12.06pm to head for Rodez.

French air traffic controllers had warned Mr.  Hayes Jr, who had 56 hours 45 minutes of flying experience, of scattered cloud at 2,400ft (732m) at around 12.20pm.

The pilot replied that he had hit a layer of cloud with limited visibility at 4,000ft (1,219m) and was in the process of climbing to 4,500ft (1,372m).

He shared a laugh with controllers at 12.40pm, after asking the radio frequency for Rodez, and ended the conversation at 12.42pm.

At 12.45pm, the controller heard a background noise on the frequency and tried to make contact but could not reach Mr Hayes or his father.

Witnesses heard the sound of the aircraft's engine revving before seeing it circling out of control and the left wing flying off, followed by other pieces which "showered" to the ground.

Jacques Keedah, who worked near the crash site, said: "The left wing was falling into the air and the plane turning like a whirlpool.

"It fell like a stone. The plane came down directly to Earth in a spin. After it had hit the ground I heard the sound of a collision but no further explosion."

Mr.  Keedah walked towards the wreckage and found a wing of the plane lying on the pavement.

School assistant Didier Paulet was called by pupils in the playground to reports of the plane falling from the sky.

"Looking up in the direction they showed me, I saw what I thought was a small white aircraft," Mr.  Paulet said.

"The engine was racing as if it was jammed. The aircraft quickly started losing bits. Other bits, some bigger, started falling off. The rest of the plane fell in one piece almost immediately."

The inquest heard that data gathered from Mr Hayes' iPad, which had a navigation app running, showed the aircraft had attempted to turn round shortly before the nosedive.

Adrian Cope, senior inspector at the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch, said the plane had entered restricted airspace and could have been trying to leave it.

"The pilot may have realized he was in restricted airspace and was trying get back out again," Mr Cope said.

"It was descending significantly and the aircraft speed would be increasing. The pilot realized he was descending and was trying to rectify that situation.

"If that was done quite abruptly that would have put strain on the wings."

Mr.  Cope said Mr.  Hayes Jr could have been "distracted" by poor flying conditions and the fact that he was entering restricted airspace.

At the conclusion of the inquest, Dr.  Earland said: "I hope that lessons will be learned of the dangers of using these light aircraft in the conditions we have heard that Mr Hayes and Mr Hayes found themselves in as they flew over France."

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Andy Haynes: The pilot had 56 hours flying experience

Roger Haynes: The coroner said she hoped lessons would be learned from the Haynes' death

Debris:  Jabiru J450, G-SIMP

Maryland woman arrested at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (KBWI) for carrying a loaded gun

A St. Mary’s County woman was arrested Wednesday at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport when she tried to board a flight carrying a loaded .38 caliber pistol. The Transportation Security Administration said officers at the security checkpoint found the handgun and 16 loose bullets in the woman’s carry-on bag.

Maryland Transportation Authority police said they arrested Rena Ann Trevett, 51, of Drayden at 9:10 a.m. on a state weapons charge.

The gun was the 12th firearm confiscated at a BWI checkpoint this year. Thirteen guns have been detected and confiscated at Reagan National and eight at Dulles International.

Nationwide, TSA officers have intercepted more than 1,900 guns at security checkpoints this year, already a higher number than last year when TSA officers detected 1,813 guns. Passengers who bring firearms to the checkpoint can face criminal charges and civil penalties of up to $11,000.

TSA officials say travelers should be reminded that firearms and ammunition are not allowed in carry-on bags. They can be carried in checked baggage if they are unloaded and packed in a locked container. Passengers are required to declare that the gun is in the bag when they check it at the ticket counter.

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A .38-caliber handgun was confiscated this week at BWI. (TSA)

Aero-Flite moving four airplanes to West Plains, creating 50 new jobs

A company that flies and maintains tankers that fight wildfires around the country will make its new home at Spokane International Airport.

Aero-Flite Inc. will move four airplanes from Arizona to an industrial park on Spokane’s West Plains and create 50 local jobs.

Airport officials and Gov. Jay Inslee are to announce the development this morning. The company will base the tankers there, performing maintenance on them during the firefighting “offseason” from November to March, then begin working to put out wildfires in the Southeast for the U.S. Forest Service and slowly move west and north with warmer, drier weather. During firefighting season, Spokane will be a repair and operations base for the planes.

The planes were used extensively last summer in the Pacific Northwest and California, including the Carlton Complex fires and others in Central Washington.

Company officials expect to bring 17 mechanics and five management personnel with them, and will be hiring additional mechanics and some pilots, said Todd Woodard, a spokesman for the airport.

“They chose Spokane because of the highly trained and qualified workforce for mechanics and technicians,” he said. The company will bring three Avro RJ85s, regional commercial jets that have been retrofitted with external tanks for fire retardant and water, and one amphibious Bombardier CL-415, a high-wing turboprop that can scoop water out of a lake or other large body of water and mix it with retardant in flight before dropping it on a fire.

Aero-Flite, which will pay $170,000 a year to the airport for rent, will occupy a building previously used by the Washington National Guard as a hangar for its search-and-rescue helicopters and offices for its military units before it relocated in 2006, said Larry Krauter, the airport chief executive officer. The 50,000-square-foot building is west of the hangars used by companies that paint aircraft.

Aero-Flite bills itself as the largest private operator of water-scooping aircraft in North America. It was founded in 1963 and is owned by Conair Group Inc., a Canadian aerospace company based in Abbotsford, B.C. Relocating from Kingman, Arizona, to Spokane brings the company closer to its corporate headquarters, Krauter said. The airport has leased facilities to Conair in the past for other operations.

Inslee will be on hand for the announcement, and Alex Pietsch, director of the governor’s aerospace office, said the Aero-Flite relocation is in line with the state’s strategy to expand aerospace jobs. A key goal now that Boeing has committed to expand in the Puget Sound is to diversify beyond commercial aircraft production and increase the number of maintenance, repair and operations, or MRO, companies, Pietsch said.

“That’s a niche Spokane has, and can continue to grow,” he said. The state also has MRO companies in Everett and Moses Lake.

“It’s a huge win, and I think it’s an opportunity for the state to grow its place in that area,” Pietsch said.

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The Bombardier CL-415 is an amphibious turboprop capable of scooping and dropping up to 1,600 gallons of water.

The Avro RJ85s are regional commercial jets that have been retrofitted with external tanks for water and retardant.

‘Why Nigeria may not design or manufacture commercial aircraft’

An aviation expert has attributed the absence of a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul facilities (MRO) in the country to the reason Nigeria cannot design and manufacture commercial aircraft capable of conveying one hundred passengers and above in the next decade. This was made known in a paper presented at a seminar in Lagos by Dr Titus Olaniyi, a special resource person at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria.

Presenting the paper entitled: The imperative of building a sustainable aircraft maintenance hangar in Nigeria, Olaniyi declared that it would not be feasible to achieve that feat of aircraft designing and manufacturing in the country in the next 10 years but declared that the country’s aviation must begin to sustainably operate, maintain and assemble in the progressive order.

According to Dr Olaniyi, the MRO facility in Uyo was a viable step in the right direction to achieve such feat, adding that once it was completed, the facility would become a national hangar that could accommodate two B747 – 400 or six B737 in a closed air conditioned space.

This, he said, would require the services of technically capable human resources that would provide high quality maintenance services needed, stressing that the MRO in Uyo should consider collaboration first with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and later with third party suppliers in order to strategically upgrade the facility to an assembly plant and later collaborate with manufacturers.

Olaniyi called for the imitation of planning and policy frame work inclusive of its implementation strategies that would encourage the establishment of MRO for protecting the Nigerian aviation industry and its workforces.

He noted that the current Nigeria aviation policy required a paradigm shift, adding that its current format opened doors uncontrollably to foreign operators at the expense of the indigenous market.

According to Dr Olaniyi, this is a result of the inadequate negotiation skills, suspicious or gross malicious of people conducting Bilateral Agreement on behalf of Nigeria.

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Sydney-bound Qantas flight diverted due to medical emergency

A Qantas flight from Dallas to Sydney has been forced to divert to Los Angeles due to a medical emergency.

The A380 touched down at Los Angeles airport just before 9pm AEDT. The plane is expected to spend a few hours at the airport.

Passengers from QF8 will be given hotel rooms for the night, arriving in Sydney on Saturday morning.

Details of the medical emergency were not known.

Unexpected medical emergencies are neither commonplace or unheard of, according to Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson.

"These things happen from time to time. It's just up to the crew to assess the severity of the situation," he said.

"It could be anything from a bad stomach bug to a heart attack."

The QF8 route between Dallas and Sydney is the world's longest flight at almost 14,000 kilometres. An unexpected pitstop means the crew will change because the flight time is extended.

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Joe Geiger: Reducing costs - Business principles 101

Joe Geiger
By Joe Geiger 

The decision making process in business and our lives entails a systematic approach to problem solving. If properly done, it can make our lives happier and our businesses more profitable.

Is there any sure way that the bottom line profit can be improved? Yes, there is a way, but first you must define the problem and then set goals. The third step in the process is for the company to reduce their costs in every area that they can. That does not mean that you should see how cheaply you can do an activity; it means that you should examine your costs with a critical eye and ask yourself if there is a way to do a better job for less. 

During the Carter administration, I owned a California-based general aviation business. The oil embargo caused new airplane sales to collapse. Like most of our competitors, we had been running large weekly ads in the Los Angeles Times want-ad section. Suddenly, the ads weren’t working, but the costs of the ads were continuing. Mooney Aircraft, manufacturer of one of the airplane that we sold, made a line of very fast, fuel efficient, four-place airplanes. I decided to try a direct-mail sales campaign targeting large six-place single engine and light twin engine airplane owners. The sales pitch was that our fast, small four-place airplane would do the same job as the larger airplane 95 percent of the time as their larger-six place airplane, but at half to one-third the fuel cost.

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U.S. Attacks on Drone Use May Trigger Trouble for Amazon

Unmanned drones are used by groups as widely dispersed as hobbyists who want to take videos of their neighborhoods to Inc., which wants to use the machines to make deliveries. No matter what the use, it could be severely restricted by a ruling set by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Drones may not fly unregulated.

The case that will begin a clampdown in earnest concerned drone use by Raphael Pirker, who flew his machine over the campus of the University of Virginia in 2011. In its opinion on Pirker’s actions, NTSB officials said:

In reaching its decision, the Board determined the FAA may apply the regulation that prohibits operation of an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner to unmanned aircraft.

“Careless and reckless” are apparently open to interpretation. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has already prohibited the use of most drones for commercial reasons. The NTSB decision reinforces that.

The drone business has expanded rapidly in the United States. The devices can be cheap and easily operated. The Verge recently pointed out that powerful drones are available for about $1,000. Whether the drones are used for personal reasons or commercial ones is not part of purchase restrictions. People make decisions one by one about how they will use the machines.

Amazon and other companies that want to use drones for commercial purposes need to worry about the NTSB action. Should it be supported by courts, the introduction of new services involving drones may be completely blocked.

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Iran firm displays US-made helicopters

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran has unveiled one of its US-made R44 helicopters at the International Aviation Industry Exhibition on Kish Island.

Earlier this month, managing director of Iranian Helicopter Company (IHC) had announced that the country has purchased a number of US-made helicopters and the training courses to operate the choppers have already been completed.

“The four helicopters purchased from the US are currently in operation and the training courses relating to working with them have been completed,” Mahmoud Azin told the Tasnim News Agency on November 12.

He also commented on the overhaul and maintenance of the helicopters inside Iran, saying, “We have no problem in repairing, maintaining and supplying the spare parts of the R44 helicopters.”

Manufactured by Robinson Helicopter Company, R44 Helicopters are good for private, business, and utility applications and provide excellent reliability, responsive handling, and altitude performance.

The 7th International Kish Air Show kicked off on November 18 at Kish International Exhibition Center.

It has been jointly organized by the IHC and the Kish Development and Investment Company.

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TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian company has displayed four (4) U.S.-made helicopters it says were purchased through third parties.

The display of the R-44 helicopters came during an air exhibition in Kish Island, in the Persian Gulf.

The helicopters are manufactured by the California-based Robinson Helicopter Company.

Mahmoud Azin, the head of Iran's Helicopters Company, told the Tasnim news website on Thursday that the helicopters were purchased at a marked-up price through "dealers" and can be used for both training and police air patrol.

Iran is under crippling international sanctions linked to the dispute over its nuclear program.

The company, which has some 25 helicopters, mainly services Iranian oil sites.

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Pilot charged with attempting to smuggle cocaine worth £5million into North Yorkshire

Andrew Wright, 51, from Barlow, near Selby, was arrested after Border Force officers found 34 kilos of cocaine in a light aircraft at Breighton Aerodrome on Monday.

Wright was questioned by officers from the National Crime Agency following his arrest, and appeared at Leeds Magistrates' Court today where he was remanded in custody until his next appearance at Leeds Crown Court next month.

Mark Robinson, assistant director for Border Force, said the haul was "an excellent seizure", coordinated with local officers.

He said: "Working with law enforcement colleagues including the NCA we are determined to do all we can to prevent drug trafficking and put those responsible behind bars.

"This was an excellent seizure and demonstrates how Border Force officers play a crucial role in protecting the UK from illegal drugs and other contraband. By stopping this smuggling attempt we have prevented a sizeable amount of cocaine making it onto the streets."

Mick Maloney, from the NCA’s Border Policing Command, said: "This was a significant seizure and we estimate that once cut the drugs would have had a UK street value of in excess £5 million. Our investigation into those involved continues.

"I would encourage anyone who has information about unusual use of aircraft or activity in and around small airfields like Breighton to report it, no matter how trivial it may seem."

The arrest was made under Project Pegasus - which sees Border Force, the National Crime Agency and police forces around the country work together to investigate unusual activity at small airports.

Anyone with information which could help the investigation should phone police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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Airbus Wins 50 Widebody Jet Deal With Delta Air Lines: Delta to Purchase 25 A350, 25 A330neo Jets For $14.3 Billion at List Prices

The Wall Street Journal
By Jon Ostrower
Updated Nov. 19, 2014 6:53 p.m. ET

Airbus Group NV won a deal from Delta Air Lines Inc. for 50 twin-aisle jetliners, according to a person familiar with the agreement, a big victory for the European company in its battle with Boeing Co. to sell long-range passenger aircraft.

The No. 3 U.S. airline by traffic is ordering 25 long-range A350-900s and 25 A330-900neo jets, the person said. The deal would be valued around $14.3 billion at list prices, not including steep discounts the manufacturers regularly give to airlines.

The deal gives significant market traction to the A330-900neo, a new version of Airbus’s A330 jet with new-generation Rolls Royce Holdings PLC engines. The jet was launched with its first orders in July, aimed at extending the production life of the twin-aisle A330, which has been in service since 1994. The jet touts up to 14% improvement in fuel efficiency over today’s A330.

Delta set off the fiercely-contested sales campaign in April when it announced that it was seeking 50 long-range jets to replace its aging fleet of Boeing 767-300ER and jumbo 747-400s jetliners. The fight pitted the A350 and A330 against Boeing’s 777 and 787-9 Dreamliner. The Atlanta-based airline still holds orders for 18 787s purchased in 2005 by Northwest Airlines before its merger with Delta, but deferred that commitment to 2020 after delays hit the program.

In October, Delta executives said they were working diligently to evaluate Boeing and Airbus options and engine selections from General Electric Co. and Rolls-Royce. A Delta spokeswoman on Wednesday said the company doesn’t have anything to announce related to its request for proposals.

Delta already operates 11 A330-200s and 21 A330-300s. It is in the process of retiring its largest plane, the 747-400s, having already parked 4 of the 13 and intending to put down the rest by 2017. It currently uses the 747s on the Pacific routes. But as it builds up a new hub and Asia gateway in Seattle, Delta is moving some smaller twin-aisled planes to that city for service to Asia.

The Delta order from Airbus was reported earlier on Wednesday by industry blog Leeham News and Comment

—Susan Carey contributed to this article.

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Some Careers Are Looking Up: Sheriff’s Helicopter Lands at Rim High

Mike Harris 
Sheriff's Deputy John Scalise speaks to a group of Rim of the World High School ROP students about opportunities with the sheriff's aviation program after landing his helicopter on the football field.

Students enrolled in Rim of the World High School’s ROP law enforcement class had the chance to hear about careers in San Bernardino County sheriff’s aviation program on Nov. 13, but the information had to be shared on the football field.

That’s because the speaker was Deputy John Scalise, and he and crewman Deputy John Anderson brought along their 2004 Eurocopter R AS 350 B3, a single-engine light helicopter, landing it right on the field.

With maybe 30 students gathered around the helicopter, Scalise talked about the sheriff’s aviation program, and offered details about what it’s like to fly a helicopter, the various types of helicopters available, their individual roles and what it takes to be a part of the aviation program.

ROP stands for regional occupational program, and at Rim High students can enroll in variety of career-oriented classes. On this day, students from the law enforcement class were joined by students in the fire technology class.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Aviation Division is the lead aerial law enforcement agency in the county. The Sheriff’s Aviation Division provides assistance to all allied federal, state, county and city agencies. The Aviation Division also supports and responds to Region 6 counties through California State OES.

Missions include search and rescue, fire suppression, special missions (such as dive rescues and marijuana extractions) and surveillance and transport.

Stephanie Phillips, Rim High’s ROP coordinator, said the school’s law enforcement class introduces students to different career opportunities within the law enforcement sector.

“ROP students are exposed to people from the different careers and agencies, and we bring in guest speakers,” she said. “We also take the students on field trips to different destinations.”

Or bring programs to students, such as having the Sheriff’s Aviation Division fly in a helicopter.

Rim’s law enforcement class is taught by Ed VonPingel, a retired Riverside police officer.

“Ed taught law enforcement at Redlands East Valley and has been an ROP teacher for nine years,” she added. “This is his third year teaching at Rim.”

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