Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Penn Township, Snyder County, Pennsylvania: Beer-drinking college students arrested for 'exploring' Federal Aviation Administration air traffic navigation tower, troopers say



SELINSGROVE — State police say four young men who broke into a Federal Aviation Administration air traffic navigation tower in Snyder County on Sunday morning and shut down an aviation aid weren’t trying to disrupt air traffic. 

“I didn’t see any attempt to bring a plane out of the sky,” trooper Brent Bobb responded when District Judge John H. Reed asked him Monday whether the incident was reckless or intentional.

The four men each charged with felony causing a catastrophe, burglary, criminal mischief, criminal trespass and summary underage drinking are Michael J. Ede, 20, and Kevin C. Herman, 19, both of Winfield, and Brett H. Eyster, 20, and Alex T. Moyer, 20, both of Selinsgrove.

According to the criminal complaint, they told police they were “exploring” at 1:30 a.m. Sunday when they entered the FAA navigation tower off Air Tower Road in Penn Township through an unlocked door. It triggered an intruder alarm that shut down the Very High Frequency Omni Directional Range signal that is “crucial for aircraft flying” since it enables pilots to follow an assigned flight path.

An alarm was sent to the FAA in Georgia, and state police at Selinsgrove responded. At the scene, according to court records, the four were spotted walking away from the tower carrying an open container of beer.

The tower is in a cornfield on a hill surrounded by a fence. There are several “no trespassing” and other signs indicating any person who interferes with air traffic control will be prosecuted under federal law. One highly visible sign on a door to the tower clearly marks the FAA facility, warning “Loss of human life may result from service interruption.”

Reed told the four men that they also could face federal charges.

“This is a serious matter,” he added before noting that none of them has a prior criminal history and they are not considered flight risks. Reed set bail at $25,000 each.

All four appeared voluntarily at Monday’s arraignment accompanied by relatives.

Ede is a West Point Academy cadet; Herman and Moyer are sophomores at Susquehanna University; and Eyster is a York College sophomore.

FAA spokesman Jim Peters confirmed Monday that the FAA is investigating an “unauthorized entry” to a building near Selinsgrove.

“The entrants did not damage the building or equipment and did not pose a safety risk to any aircraft,” he said.

Peters did not respond to questions about the building’s security or how it could have been breached.

Heritage Aviation General Manager Jon Trainor, who also is a flight instructor at Penn Valley Airport in Penn Township, said he’s surprised the men were able to gain entry to the tower.

“They must have been pretty intent on getting in,” he said. “Every time I’ve been there, it’s been locked and I’ve had to have a representative from the FAA let me in.”

- Original article can be found at: http://www.dailyitem.com


Wichita State Shockers: Plane makes emergency landing; no one hurt

WICHITA, Kan. - A plane carrying the Wichita State Men's Basketball team was forced to make an emergency landing Tuesday evening.

According to airport dispatchers, the Embraer 145 took off from Wichita Mid-Continent Airport at 6:18 p.m. The airplane encountered a minor sensor malfunction with its landing gear shortly after takeoff and was rerouted back to Mid Continent Airport.

The plane was forced to turn around and land back at the airport. The plane landed safely and no one on board was hurt.

The plane was set to arrive in Des Moines, Iowa shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday evening.

According to the Wichita State Athletics Department, an alternate plane will be flown in. The team plans to fly out Wednesday morning. 

The Shockers are scheduled to take on Drake Bulldogs at the Knapp Center in Des Moines on Wednesday. Tipoff is set at 5 p.m.

- Original article can be found at: http://www.kwch.com

Zenith Zodiac CH 650, N419PE, MDS Flying LLC: Incident occurred December 30, 2014 at St. Lucie County International Airport (KFPR), Fort Pierce, Florida

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA087
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, December 30, 2014 in Fort Pierce, FL
Aircraft: MDS FYING LLC ZENITH ZODIAC CH 650, registration: N419PE
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

On December 30, 2014, about 1320 eastern standard time, an experimental amateur-built Zenith Zodiac CH 650, N419PE, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while on approach to landing to St. Lucie County International Airport (FPR), Fort Pierce, Florida. The private pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. 

Following an uneventful local flight, the pilot returned to the departure airport and entered the traffic pattern with the intention of performing several touch-and-go landings. After setting the flaps to the 10-degree position and trimming the airplane, the pilot eventually turned the airplane onto final approach to runway 28, at an airspeed of 75 knots. At a height of about 50 feet, the cockpit canopy opened, and the airplane suddenly pitched nose down. The pilot responded by "pulling on the stick" and increasing engine power, but found the elevator control to be ineffective. He also noted that the canopy had opened about 3 inches. The airplane subsequently impacted the ground in a nose down attitude.

Federal Aviation Administration inspectors examined the airplane following the accident and found that the forward portion of the fuselage and the firewall had been substantially damaged during the impact. A detailed examination of the canopy latching mechanism was scheduled for a later date.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Orlando FSDO-15

http://registry.faa.gov/N419PE


http://www.zenithair.com/zodiac/ch650



ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. - A man in his 60s had a couple of scrapes but largely escaped injury Tuesday after an experimental plane crashed, according to rescue and law enforcement officials.

St. Lucie County Fire District crews were called about 1:21 p.m. to the incident at the St. Lucie County International Airport, said Catherine Chaney, Fire District spokeswoman.


Fire District Capt. David French said the pilot indicated the incident happened after he’d been flying for a couple of hours. It happened on a runway typically used for “touch and go” landings.


“He said he was about 50 feet off the ground and his hatch flew open, the hatch that comes over his head,” French said. “When it flew open … the nose kind of went down and he tried to pull back up on it to keep the aircraft up and he hit in the grass and then skidded on the runway a little ways.”


French said the pilot sustained a couple of scrapes.


“He was OK, thank God,” French said.


Lt. Mike Sheelar of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said the plane was a Zenith 650.


Story, Comments and Photos:  http://www.wptv.com



FORT PIERCE, Fla. —A pilot escaped serious injury when his experimental airplane came in for a hard landing at the St. Lucie County International Airport on Tuesday afternoon.


The plane experienced a mechanical failure and came down at the edge of the runway, according to a spokesperson for the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office.


An eyewitness on the tarmac said the plane landed propeller-first and slid about 10 yards before coming to a stop. The eyewitness said the pilot immediately jumped out of the cockpit, and only suffered scratches on his arm and did not have to go to the hospital.


Story and Video:  http://www.wpbf.com









Robinson R22 Beta,k N7041X, operated by Quantum Helicopters Inc: Incident occurred December 29, 2014 near Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (KIWA), Phoenix, Arizona

Aviation Incident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

NTSB Identification: WPR15IA080
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Incident occurred Monday, December 29, 2014 in Phoenix, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/31/2017
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22 BETA II, registration: N7041X
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The private pilot reported that he was practicing for the commercial pilot helicopter examination and was operating in the airport traffic pattern. The pilot stated that, while entering downwind, he climbed the helicopter to 1,900 ft and was accelerating it to 75 knots when he felt an “abnormal vibration” and smelled “something…burning.” The low rotor rpm light illuminated, and the low rotor rpm horn sounded. He subsequently entered an autorotation, made an emergency call, and landed successfully off the runway on dirt.

Postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed that the fanshaft had fractured circumferentially; the helicopter had a total time of 337 hours. Examination of the fanshaft revealed a crack in the fanwheel’s base, which had beach marks that ran from the fanshaft’s bearing surface out and down to the mounting surface, consistent with fatigue. The roller bearings and the races bearing surfaces had minor surface damage. The bearings and races were cut away from the fan shaft, which revealed a v-shaped fracture surface that had two cracks emanating from it. This area had sustained damage from the two halves contacting each other with every rotation of the crankshaft, and some material was missing. The fracture origin could not be determined due to the damage. The only anomaly identified during the examination was that the fanwheel was out of balance; however, this likely resulted from the fanshaft failure. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this incident as follows:
The failure of the fanshaft due to fatigue.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this incident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona
Robinson Helicopter Company; Torrance, California

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Aviation Incident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

http://registry.faa.gov/N7041X




NTSB Identification: WPR15IA080
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Incident occurred Monday, December 29, 2014 in Phoenix, AZ
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22 BETA II, registration: N7041X
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On December 29, 2014, about 1900 mountain standard time, a Robinson Helicopter Company R22 Beta, N7041X, made an autorotation landing at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, Phoenix, Arizona. Quantum Helicopters was operating the helicopter under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot was not injured, and the helicopter was not damaged. The local instructional flight departed Chandler, Arizona, at an undetermined time. Visual meteorological conditions, and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot was practicing for the commercial pilot helicopter examination and was operating in the taxiway Charlie pattern. While entering downwind for runway 30, the pilot stated that he climbed to 1,900 ft and was accelerating the helicopter to 75 knots when he felt an abnormal vibration and smelled something burning. The low rotor rpm light illuminated, and the low rotor rpm horn sounded. He entered an autorotation, made an emergency call, and landed successfully off the runway in the dirt.

An examination on site determined that the fanshaft fractured circumferentially. The helicopter had a total time of 337 hours.




TESTS AND RESEARCH

Fanshaft Examination

The roll pin alignment mark remained aligned, which indicated no movement between the shaft and the fanwheel. The fanwheel to fanshaft mating surfaces exhibited no galling or evidence of slipping.

Investigators checked the fanwheel balance. The forward face registered 10.2 grams (maximum limit was 0.5), and the aft face registered 6.42 grams (maximum limit was 0.50). There were no indications of modifications or repairs since the part was new.

A crack was observed in the base of the fanwheel. Cutting the base in a non-affected area exposed both surfaces of the crack. A visible beach marks appeared to run from the bearing surface of the shaft out/down to the mounting surface.

The roller bearings and the bearing surfaces of the races had minor surface damage. After cutting the bearing and race away from the fanshaft, a v-shaped fracture surface that had two cracks emanating from it was observed. This area sustained damage from the two halves contacting each other with every rotation of the crankshaft, and some material was missing. A definite origin could not be determined.

The bearing surface on the fanshaft and the inner diameter of the inner bearing race were discolored (reddish/brown), and the inner race had an area of material buildup adjacent to the fractures in the shaft. The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this incident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona
Robinson Helicopter Company; Torrance, California

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Aviation Incident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

http://registry.faa.gov/N7041X

NTSB Identification: WPR15IA080
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Incident occurred Monday, December 29, 2014 in Phoenix, AZ
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22 BETA II, registration: N7041X
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On December 29, 2014, about 1900 mountain standard time, a Robinson Helicopter Company R22 Beta, N7041X, made an autorotation landing at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, Phoenix, Arizona. Quantum Helicopters was operating the helicopter under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot was not injured, and the helicopter was not damaged. The local instructional flight departed Chandler, Arizona, at an undetermined time. Visual meteorological conditions, and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot was practicing for the commercial pilot helicopter examination and was operating in the taxiway Charlie pattern. While entering downwind for runway 30, the pilot stated that he climbed to 1,900 ft and was accelerating the helicopter to 75 knots when he felt an abnormal vibration and smelled something burning. The low rotor rpm light illuminated, and the low rotor rpm horn sounded. He entered an autorotation, made an emergency call, and landed successfully off the runway in the dirt.

An examination on site determined that the fanshaft fractured circumferentially. The helicopter had a total time of 337 hours.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Fanshaft Examination

The roll pin alignment mark remained aligned, which indicated no movement between the shaft and the fanwheel. The fanwheel to fanshaft mating surfaces exhibited no galling or evidence of slipping.

Investigators checked the fanwheel balance. The forward face registered 10.2 grams (maximum limit was 0.5), and the aft face registered 6.42 grams (maximum limit was 0.50). There were no indications of modifications or repairs since the part was new.

A crack was observed in the base of the fanwheel. Cutting the base in a non-affected area exposed both surfaces of the crack. A visible beach marks appeared to run from the bearing surface of the shaft out/down to the mounting surface.

The roller bearings and the bearing surfaces of the races had minor surface damage. After cutting the bearing and race away from the fanshaft, a v-shaped fracture surface that had two cracks emanating from it was observed. This area sustained damage from the two halves contacting each other with every rotation of the crankshaft, and some material was missing. A definite origin could not be determined.

The bearing surface on the fanshaft and the inner diameter of the inner bearing race were discolored (reddish/brown), and the inner race had an area of material buildup adjacent to the fractures in the shaft.




MESA, AZ - A small helicopter was forced to make a "hard landing" in a desert area near Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Monday evening.

Mesa fire crews say the chopper landed in an upright position when it touched down.

The pilot was the only person on board and he was not injured.

There is no word at this time what caused the incident.

Story, Video and Photos:  http://www.abc15.com

Airport director John Kinney meeting with Federal Aviation Administration about air traffic congestion: Aspen-Pitkin County Airport/Sardy Field ( KASE), Aspen, Colorado

Sardy Field sees more than 300 flights on Saturday 


New airport director John Kinney will be meeting with Federal Aviation Administration forecasters and control tower staff today to discuss ideas for how to best regulate traffic at Sardy Field after 312 planes flew into or out of Aspen on Saturday, causing headaches for travelers.

Of those flights, 268 were general aviation planes, while 44 were classified as commercial.

The large amount of air traffic coupled with winter weather over the weekend, led to a perfect storm of delays, cancellations and refueling diversions for travelers bound for the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport over the weekend.

“It was an exceptionally busy day and all of the stars were aligned for the wrong reasons,” Kinney said Monday. “We had a lot of pent up demand [following the storm on Friday]. It was a clear day, with another storm forecast for the next day, so you get some ‘get-homeitus.’”

He said when those factors are added to the regular traffic during the holidays, it becomes a “trifecta of congestion.”

There were a combined total of 34 American Airlines, United and Delta flights scheduled to land in Aspen on Saturday, the most since the 1997-’98 season, according to Bill Tomcich, president of the central reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass who is the local liaison to the airline industry.

But due to delays and a high amount of private planes at the airport, only 28 landed at Sardy Field while the rest were rerouted or canceled on Saturday.

Kinney noted that smaller, corporate and private jets that hold 10 to 15 passengers have more options of airports to be rerouted to such as Rifle, while larger commercial carriers holding 70 to 80 people have to travel to Grand Junction or back to Denver. Private aircraft often times drop their passengers and then take off for another nearby airport to park the plane because of a lack of parking on the tarmac at Sardy Field.

Kinney said he’s worked with the National Football League in the past on ways to mitigate heavy air traffic congestion during Super Bowls XXIX and XXX, and believes there can be a better way to handle demand at Sardy Field.

He said they came up with a “slot-reservation program” that helped the flow of traffic during the events, and it could possibly work in Aspen, too.

But before making any decisions, he wants to “talk with the pros at the FAA.”

“It’s really 20 to 24 weeks a year that [it gets very busy],” he said. “We need to be more prepared … there’s room for operational improvement. … We can make this more predictable.”

Should commercial planes
 have priority?

When asked if commercial aircraft should get precedence over private ones, Tomcich said it would be a good idea since the problem really snowballs when commercial flights are held up.

“Absolutely, I think it needs to be revisited,” he said. “[Especially during times] of airspace saturation.”

Allen Kenitzer, public affairs manager for the northwest region at the FAA, said private planes do not have priority over any commercial aircraft, and that all planes are on a first-come, first-served basis. 

“There’s no truth that priority goes to private over commercial [aircraft]. … It just doesn’t happen that way,” Kenitzer said. “They all file flight plans … and it goes into a queue.”

Multiple calls to the local fixed-base operator, Atlantic Aviation, seeking the numbers of private planes that landed in Aspen over the weekend, were not returned.

Sardy Field capacity limited

Kenitzer said Sardy Field’s delays and cancellations over the weekend were mainly because of the airport’s size.

“It’s really a matter of capacity. … It’s Aspen, you’re going to have volume issues,” Kenitzer said. “There’s one runway. It is what it is.”

Kinney also noted the limitations of having a single runway, where planes land and depart from different directions, with a 10- to 15-mile separation between each.

“It slows our capacity, but it’s done for the right reason and is good for the community,” Kinney added. 

According to the FAA’s traffic flow management plan, planes in distress get priority over all other traffic. “Lifeguard” flights carrying patients, organs for transplant, or doctors needed for emergencies, also may take precedent, as well as some diversions and other flights requesting special assistance.

Most flights landed in Aspen, 
but many were delayed

Tomcich said the dense traffic was the result of travelers eager to be in town for the  holidays and winter weather that came in on Friday and Sunday, sandwiching Saturday and increasing the demand. 

“It makes sense. There were a combination of factors and with the holidays, there was a compounded impact,” he said. “It was a perfect storm of being in between two storms.”

Tomcich said there were 28 flights scheduled for Friday and 22 landed at Sardy Field. Four were diverted to Grand Junction Regional Airport and two were canceled.

He said 32 flights were scheduled for Sunday, with 23 landing, three rerouted to Grand Junction and six were canceled.

Marissa Snow, director of corporate communications at SkyWest Airlines, which partners with Delta, American and United airlines, said two United flights had to refuel in Grand Junction on Saturday and one was sent back to Denver.

She said the reason for the delay and subsequent refueling, was listed as heavy traffic, saying some could be due to “[general aviation traffic] issues.”

Nose wheel damaged on plane

On Saturday, a plane was being towed out to the runway when the “tug” slid off the runway, damaging the aircraft and forcing the flight’s cancellation

“Flight 5212 from Aspen to Chicago, operating as United Express, was canceled Saturday after an aircraft tug lost traction and caused damage to the nose wheel,” Snow wrote in an email. “We provided overnight accommodations to the 70 passengers and seats on an extra flight segment Sunday.”

She added that three flights were diverted to Grand Junction on Sunday as well, but that buses brought those passengers to Aspen.

Overall, Tomcich was impressed by the efforts put forth from the airlines to get travelers to Aspen despite the operational and weather-related challenges.

“The airlines are busting their tails,” he said. “They’re doing everything they can to move people to and from our little airport.”

Source:   http://www.aspendailynews.com

Safe Landings Depend On Extensive Snow Removal At Aspen-Pitkin County Airport (KASE), Aspen, Colorado

Workers stand by an Oshkosh broom truck on a frosty morning. It's one of several big machines that clear snow from the runway at the Aspen Pitkin County Airport.
 CREDIT MARCI KRIVONEN




The Aspen Airport is in the middle of one of its busiest and snowiest stretches. A fleet of huge snow blowers and plow trucks clear snow from the runway long before the sun comes up. As Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen discovered, it’s a job that requires attention to detail and patience.

The temperatures are in the single digits as light snow falls onto the runway at the Aspen Pitkin County Airport. A fleet of large trucks zip back and forth, clearing snow and leaving a cloud of it behind.

Dustin Havel is Assistant Aviation Director of Operations and Facilities. He doubles as a truck driver when a snowstorm hits. Today he’s behind the wheel of a high speed runway broom.

"This Oshkosh broom has a 20-foot broom on the front that has steel bristles and it spins at high RPMs to cut through the compacted or dry snow," he says.

The broom cleans up residual snow left by the plows, so airplanes can land on bare pavement.

"The brooms stay out the majority of the day when it’s snowing so we can continue to sweep up the snow that’s fallen. We continue to go back to the center of the runway and work back out to the edges."

On a snowy day, this fleet of massive machines start work around 3 o’clock in the morning. Snow plows, brooms, snow blowers and loaders work to make the runway safe.

"So, basically, this machine is one of our newer blowers here at Aspen Pitkin County Airport," says David Cerise, as he moves his snow blower over piles of snow more than four feet high. He's a seasonal snow removal operator.

Krivonen: "So this is a super powerful snowblower?"

Cerise: "It is. It’s a real large one. It has two diesel Cat engines. One drives the blower and one drives the machine."

The snow is blown off the runway and taxiways onto a nearby area that’s not used by planes. In especially snowy years, the snow piles are sometimes sculpted so the wings of airplanes don’t touch them on takeoff.

The goal of clearing the snow is to make the runway safe for the commercial and private jets that take off and land. Once the machines have removed snow, a special truck does a “friction test.” It emulates the kind of braking action a plane might have on landing.

"Aircraft touch down at a substantially higher miles per hour than a normal car drives on the highway," says Dustin Havel.  "So, there’s a lot of sensitivity in braking, so we want to make sure we have the surface as good as we can for airplanes to land and touch down."

Havel says the airport’s lucky to have this equipment. Many other airports operate with older machines that break down. The winter operations at the Aspen airport cost about one million dollars a year.

"Our airport, from the County’s point of view and from my point of view, is one of the county’s most important economic assets," says George Newman.

He's a Pitkin County Commissioner. He helps approve annual budgets for the airport. He says keeping the snow cleared and the runway safe is an important priority.

"We think it’s critical. If you just look at this past holiday period where we’ve had so much snow and so many flights were canceled on and off.  Anything we can do to ensure that we’re able to keep our runways, taxiways and aprons clear as quick as possible, we want to do that."

Back on the runway, the snow is picking up so the broom continues to move up and down the runway, clearing it.

"It gets kind of repetitive, basically driving around in circles," says Havel. "It’s basically just a race track for the brooms to keep the runway open and looking good."

It’s an important job given how busy it is. This time of year typically sees more than 4300 passengers move through the airport each day.

Story, Photos and Audio:   http://aspenpublicradio.org 

The airport uses a special truck to test friction on the runway during a snow storm. A small wheel drops down from the bed of a truck and a computer comes up with a number. It's indicative of how the braking action might be for an airplane. 
CREDIT MARCI KRIVONEN

Learning to Fly: Part 2

By: Stephanie Goetz

The journey to achieving a private pilot

Have you ever thought about getting your private pilot's license? No matter your age, it's actually much more attainable than you think. In part 2 of our "Learning to Fly" series, we take you up in the air to show you what it takes once you're in flight.

We start our day in the skies, on the ground, getting a Piper aircraft out of the hangar for a pre-flight check.

"You can grab on the inside of the prop - we're going to turn it towards the north so when you start the engine you don't blow the hanger full of leaves. And when you start the aircraft you want to be away from the rocks."

Here in Fargo, Flight Instructor Victor Gelking is one the best to learn from: with more than 30,000 hours of flying, he knows how to train beginners into expert pilots.

"When I got out of the Marine Corps. in the second world war, I took flying in the G.I. training. That was in 1946."

And he knows the world of aviation very well.

"People travel a lot by air, a lot more than people realize. I can take off at 6:00 in the morning from Fargo and be in San Diego by early afternoon." he says.

One of the first things you hear as you taxi out is all the radio chatter - talking to air traffic control to make sure you're in the right area, that you have clearance to fly, and continuous connection as you take off and land.

"Here we go!" Vic say. "Put your hands on top of the throttle and let's do this together. Clear. We're in the air! And you did that yourself!"

Once we're in the air, we have to establish cruising altitude -- which is about 5,000 feet for our single engine plane. We must stay out of clouds and I have to keep my altitude as I do 10, 20 & 30 degree banks at 90 degrees, 180 and 360 degree turns!

As I nail a 30 degree turn, Vic says "I'm going to have to give you an a for that one!" Gladly I exclaim, "Oh yay!"

It's vital to look at your instruments as you fly. But for VFR flying - which is what we're doing - it's essentially operating an aircraft with instruments, but also relying heavily on sight. So we have to continue looking out the window to make sure there aren't any planes in your path of flight.

"I find that women become pretty good pilots," Vic says. "They're very cautious by nature. They try real hard. And they won't take quite the chances that sometimes that men will do."

Safety - in the skies and on the ground - is the most important part of mastering this craft & enjoying your time in the air.

To get your private pilot's license, you must have at least 40 hours, pass various solo flight tests, a written knowledge test and practical test. Through more hours in the sky, you work your way up getting different aircraft-type ratings. The bare minimum number of hours for a commercial license is 250, but major airline pilots have many more hours than that.

You can get your license through Vic's Aviation and Flight Instruction -- which is located at 1631 19th Avenue North, Fargo, ND 58102 - it's the building to the west of the Fargo Air Museum. You can call Vic to schedule a lesson at (701) 293-8362.

Story and Video:  http://www.valleynewslive.com


Orlando International Airport offering free rides to stranded travelers

Orlando International Airport officials and a private parking operation are offering free rides to travelers stranded because they left their cars at a lot that closed without warning this weekend.

Airport Quick Parking on Jetport Drive shut down with an estimated 450 cars in its spaces. People returning to Orlando from holiday trips had no shuttle to pick them up and take them to the lot about 4 miles to the north.

Some ended up paying for a taxi or calling friends.

After learning of the lot's demise, Orlando International managers Monday posted signs on the second-level luggage returns of the main terminal saying the airport would provide rides. Travelers should call 407-825-2980 to arrange a ride.

So far, Orlando International spokesman Rod Johnson said Tuesday, about two dozen people have taken an airport van or truck to the lot.

"We're looking at this as one of our customer service benefits," said Johnson, who said an estimated 400 cars remain to be retrieved.

Also providing a ride is The Parking Spot, 5500 Hazeltine National Drive.

A manager with The Parking Spot said in an email to the Orlando Sentinel that Quick Airport travelers should go to the Orlando International's level 1 ground transportation section, spaces 11, 12 or 13, and tell the driver of the closed lot.

"You will be dropped off there after the shuttle drops off guests at The Parking Spot," said Mark Ligas, guest satisfaction coordinator at The Parking Spot.

Deputies with the Orange County Sheriff's Office are watching over the shuttered lot.

Story and Video:   http://www.orlandosentinel.com

Bombardier sells 24 CRJ900 aircraft to undisclosed customer: CRJ900 aircraft intended for medium-range trips

Bombardier has sold 24 regional jets to an unidentified customer for $1.14 billion US.

The sale of CRJ900 NextGen aircraft brings total orders for Bombardier’s CRJ series to 1,858. The jets are intended for medium-range trips and can seat up to 90 passengers.

Shares in Bombardier on the Toronto Stock Exchange were up 1.6 percent at mid-afternoon on Tuesday.

Bombardier says the CRJ900 NextGen model is up to 5.5 percent more fuel efficient than the original CRJ900. The company describes the jet as “the most cost-efficient jet aircraft in its class.” CRJ series jets are used by more than 60 airlines around the world, according to Bombardier.

Although the CRJ series of aircraft is far from new, it’s still being ordered by customers.  

American Airlines placed a firm order for 30 CRJ900 NextGen jets in December of 2013, with options to order 40 additional aircraft. Earlier this year, an undisclosed customer ordered 16 CRJ900 NextGen aircraft, with options for eight more.

Bombardier delivered 45 CRJ series jets in the nine-month period ending Sept, 30, 2014, including 35 CRJ900 NextGen models.

Story and Comments:  http://www.cbc.ca

Mooney M20J 201 (N4512H) recovered from Congaree River, South Carolina




CAYCE, SC (WIS) -  A single-engine plane that crashed into the Congaree River December 20 has been pulled from the water.

The plane crashed into the river near the Carolina Eastman Facility in Calhoun County. Local salvage diver Steve Franklin tells WIS he and John Baker were hired by Atlanta Air Recovery of Griffin, GA, to pull the plane out of the water. 

Franklin says the Mooney M20J plane drifted about 1/2 mile downriver from its original crash site because of high river flows from recent rains.

Monday afternoon, Franklin and Baker used airbags to float the plane and tow it about eight miles upstream where it was pulled from the water at the Thomas Newman Public Landing in Cayce.

The pilot was rescued from the wreckage by a group of Boy Scouts who were canoeing on the river. Brad Vaught of Irmo was taken to the hospital and released.

The FAA continues to investigate the crash. 

Story and Photo Gallery:   http://www.wistv.com

Mooney M20J 201, N4512H,  Air America Flying LLC:   Incident occurred December 20, 2014  in the Congaree River, near Gaston,  South Carolina 

Event Type: Incident 

Highest Injury: None

Damage: Unknown


AIRCRAFT FORCE LANDED IN THE CONGAREE RIVER, NEAR GASTON, SC


Flight Phase:  UNKNOWN (UNK)

FAA  Flight Standards District Office: FAA West Columbia FSDO-13

http://registry.faa.gov/N4512H

















Pittsburgh International Airport (KPIT) positions itself to add coveted nonstop flights

It's a moment of opportunity and high pressure for Christina Cassotis, the incoming CEO for the Allegheny County Airport Authority.

People in Pittsburgh — notably business travelers and her bosses — want more nonstop flights from Pittsburgh International Airport to more destinations. The airlines, in the midst of consolidation and cuts, want planes packed with passengers to maximize profits.

Unlike any Airport Authority manager in the past decade, Cassotis enters with blue skies visible ahead.

Finances appear to be stable. Average per-passenger costs for the airlines, although still above the national average, are decreasing.

Through October, more people flew from Pittsburgh than in 2013, meaning a decade-long nosedive might have bottomed out.

The CEO's task, critics say, will be converting financial progress — that is, decreased debt and more revenue from Marcellus shale gas drilling — into nonstop flights, a key to growth.

“They're doing the right thing. I have to recognize that,” said Satish Jindel, a transportation and logistics consultant in Franklin Park and critic of past airport spending. “The lower (per-passenger) fees may not be as far as some airlines would like to see, but it gives airlines some comfort to see (fees) are headed in the right direction.”

Jindel said the authority needs “to set a goal and say, ‘This is the target,' and give it to the airlines. They're not going to create a hub; that's not going to happen, but they need more nonstops to the West Coast.”

In December, the airport offered nonstop service on 149 average daily departures to 37 destinations — down from 600 daily flights to 110 destinations in the early 2000s.

Passenger numbers have declined since 20 million people, mostly on connections, passed through the airport in 2001. The 9/11 terror attacks hobbled air travel. US Airways ditched Pittsburgh as a hub three years later, cutting many coveted non-stop destinations.

The drop continued through 2013, when fewer than 7.9 million passengers used the airport, the lowest level since 1975.

That may be changing. Acting Executive Director Jim Gill this month announced the sixth consecutive month of increased passenger traffic, gains not recorded since 2010. Year-to-date traffic through October was up 1.6 percent from 2013.

“Our financial picture hasn't been better,” Gill said. “Passenger flights aren't where they were, but with (gas) drilling there's opportunity for more air service.”

Cecil-based Consol Energy Inc. agreed to pay the airport $46.3 million in advance payments and an estimated $450 million in royalties over 20 years for the right to drill for natural gas under the airport's nearly 9,000 acres. Drilling began in July. Analysts have said the deal might exceed expectations.

GATE FEES HIGH BUT FALLING

The airport, owned by the county and operated by the authority, opened in 1992, designed largely to accommodate US Airways' needs.

Having the airport built originally as a hub is an advantage, Gill said.

“If we built it today, would we have 75 gates? Probably not. But the fact that it's not full is a gigantic competitive advantage. As our costs go down, many other airports will be facing capital expansion projects where their costs will be going up.”

Airport revenue is generated from fees charged to airlines, rental space, and parking and concession payments.

The authority's 2015 budget projects that, on average, airlines will spend $12.90 in fees per passenger to operate, compared with the $14.66 airlines paid at the start of 2013.

The average for all U.S. airports is $8.34, and for mid-sized airports similar to Pittsburgh the average is $7.60, according to Moody's.

That number falls as more passengers choose to fly and the airport cuts rates.

The Airport Authority will spend at least $24 million of Consol's upfront money during the next five years to lower airline fees.

“They need to get it down to $10,” Jindel said.

Jindel has criticized the airport for employing about the same number of people — about 460 — as it did during its heyday as a US Airways hub, and for spending money on amenities such as restroom renovations. The airport could cut up to 10 percent in employment costs to save money, he contends.

Gill defends employment levels, saying employees assumed duties in the past decade that airlines once handled, such as maintenance and repair of the baggage system and jet bridges that carry passengers between planes and the terminal.

MARKET DICTATES GROWTH

The authority will factor Consol's upfront payment into budgets over five years. Royalty payments could start in late 2015 or 2016.

On the other side of the balance sheet, the airport's debt is dwindling.

By May 2018, a major chunk of debt incurred to build the airport will be retired, freeing up about $40 million a year.

Frank Gamrat, a senior research associate with Allegheny Institute for Public Policy in Castle Shannon, praised the Airport Authority for retiring debt and lowering costs. But he cautioned against celebrating the minor uptick in passengers in 2014.

“The thing that surprised me the most is that they've managed to bring down the debt,” said Gamrat. “It will still be a low year (for passengers).”

Although costs are a key component to attracting flights, demand is the largest factor. If an airline decides to add a route in Pittsburgh, it has to make more money than it did on the previous route the planes were flying elsewhere, airline officials said.

“We appreciate the efforts to lower costs. As the market dictates and the demand for flights grows, we'll grow,” said Southwest spokeswoman Thais Conway. “We really like what (airport) leadership has done to manage the debt and spending.

“If (Pittsburgh) wants more West Coast flights, and we see we can fill the planes, then yeah, we're there.”

American Airlines and US Airways, still Pittsburgh's busiest carrier, are scheduled to complete their merger next year.

“Airport costs are a factor in determining flights,” said American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller.

BUSINESS TRAVELERS' NEEDS

Airport officials point to new service announced in recent months — including Allegiant, which will fly to three cities in Florida, and Sun Air, which will fly to five regional destinations as part of the federally subsidized program to offer air service to small cities.

“This is good progress for the leisure traveler, but what about the business traveler?” asked Jindel, who flies often for his consulting firm. “We need more. When I have to take connections, it hurts my business.”

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said adding flights is a priority. He supported the ouster of former CEO Brad Penrod in March and announced Cassotis' hiring this month at a salary of $295,000. She will start in mid-January.

Cassotis has not run an airport but is a longtime airport consultant. She was careful not to promise specific nonstop destinations during her introductory news conference but said she thinks Pittsburgh is underserved.

“We've got to demonstrate that there is a commitment to having the airlines that are already here continue to be successful, and those we're trying to attract that they will be successful. The airport can't promise that on its own,” she said.

That resonates with Sean McCurdy, president of Pittsburgh Business Travel Association.

“Flights — that's what we care about. Overall financial stability at the airport is good, but at the end of the day an increase in nonstop flights is helpful for the business community.”

Source: http://triblive.com

Asheville Regional Airport (KAVL) wall work stalled to address erosion, permit

ASHEVILLE – State environmental employees have ordered construction on a failing retaining wall at the Asheville Regional Airport to stop, while Buncombe County officials on Tuesday said that a building permit application was never submitted.

Obtaining the permit would have likely triggered inspections as the work progressed, said Matt Stone, director of the county's permits and inspections office.

"I have no document on file that I can find," Stone said. "They (contractors) have not been able to find a permit at their location."

The airport will still be required to stop erosion from the site and continue the cleanup of sediment that has reached nearby wetlands, state officials said.

Stone met with contractors at the site on Ferncliff Park Drive Tuesday morning, passing by a retaining wall three times the length of a football field and taller than a standard utility pole at its crest.

Blocks of the nearly completed wall — up to four stories tall — began collapsing on the northern end and buckling on the southern end a week ago following rains.

The wall is part of a years-long airport project that includes using coal ash as structural fill to create flat land suitable for construction.

Several coal ash basins are complete, created by wrapping the waste in liners and capping it with six feet of soil.

One of the basins sits about 70 feet behind the wall, and officials said the coal ash was not disturbed. An airport spokeswoman had earlier said coal ash is 400 feet behind the wall, an error she attributed to miscommunication.

Before starting work on the wall, airport officials sought variances from the county and submitted documentation to the Department of Natural Resources as required for erosion and sediment control.

But a standard building permit required for commercial construction projects does not appear to have been filed, Stone said.

Airport spokeswoman Tina Kinsey said officials only learned on Tuesday after a conversation with Stone that they had not applied for the needed document. The Buncombe County Planning Department in March issued a Development Permit in an Area of Special Flood Hazard, Kinsey wrote in a statement, and were told no further steps were required.

Contractors working at the site, including a project engineer with Thalle Construction Co., declined to comment, directing questions to Kinsey.

"Additional information/details will be available when the corrective action plan is completed, expected later this week," she wrote. "The wall is stabilized and additional temporary drainage channels have been created to provide the necessary storm water management."

Stone said construction supervisors must now file for a permit retroactively. The airport has begun that process, Kinsey said. Some disassembly of damaged areas has begun, she said, and certified engineers have inspected the wall throughout the process.

Had Buncombe County inspectors been made aware of the project, they likely would have visited the site before work started and performed periodic inspections, Stone said.

Projects of that scale require an onsite, third-party inspector and his office will review those reports as well as structural and design documents before granting any permit, he said.

Permit cost for the retaining wall would have been based on the value of the project. Fines for unpermitted projects are generally twice the cost of the original permit.

Stone said he did not know the cost of the retaining wall, but as an example said a permit for a project valued at $850,000 to $1 million would cost $8,000.

Kinsey said the cost of the retaining wall is nearly $2.8 million.

No determination has been made about any state regulatory action against the airport, said Crystal Feldmen, a DENR spokeswoman.

But the agency did order all construction work to stop except what was needed to address safety and runoff concerns.

The airport must submit a revised plan to address erosion within 30 days, to be approved by the agency, before work can continue.

"The Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority will be required to address the sediment in the wetlands area and take all necessary measures to stabilize the site and prevent any future erosion," Feldmen said.

Before construction, officials did submit required documents to DENR to comply with sedimentation and stormwater standards.

Though no permit was filed, in October 2013, Michael Reisman, deputy director of the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority, applied for a variance on the wall with the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment.

County ordinance dictates that retaining walls greater than 20 feet tall must be terraced and landscaped.

A terraced wall would infringe on safety requirements spelled out by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration, Reisman wrote.

"The retaining wall must act as the primary security barrier for the Airport in this location in lieu of security fencing," he wrote in the document. "The Airport is concerned that the terracing requirement for retaining walls above 20 feet tall would aid a person trying to climb the wall for any reason.

Reisman also wrote that slope limitations would require Ferncliff Park Drive to be relocated if the airport has to terrace the wall.

http://www.citizen-times.com




ASHEVILLE – Sediment has washed out of a failing retaining wall at the Asheville Regional Airport and pushed into nearby wetlands, state officials found after inspecting the property Monday.

Airport officials and project engineers also met at the Ferncliff Park Drive site to determine the best approach for making repairs to the wall — about 1/4 mile long and four stories tall at its peak. The wall collapsed at one end and buckled on the other, airport spokeswoman Tina Kinsey wrote in a statement.

"The wall was nearing completion, and the last step in the construction was to replace a temporary storm water system with a permanent system," she wrote. "Before this permanent system was constructed, the heavy rains caused damage to each end of the wall."

"The wall is stable, and the work to fix the damage will begin this week after the detailed corrective plan is finalized," she added. "Most work is expected to take place behind the wall, and the road will not be impacted."

Kinsey released the statement Monday afternoon and said no further information would be immediately available. Buncombe County officials would be responsible for ensuring the wall is safe after repairs are done.

Over the past several years, coal ash from the Duke Energy's nearby Lake Julian plant has been trucked in as structural fill to create flat land suitable for possible future construction or other projects.

A completed coal ash basin behind the wall contains about 2.3 million tons of ash over 45 acres, said Landon Davidson, regional director of water resources for the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The industrial waste is wrapped in liners and is under a six-foot cap of soil.

Coal ash was not breached, and several monitoring wells are in the area to gauge any seeping, Davidson said. On the northern end, the coal ash liner is about 70 feet away from the wall, and about 90 feet away on the southern end, he said.

Kinsey previously told the Citizen-Times coal ash was 400 feet away from the wall. She said Monday she would not be able to immediately address the discrepancy.

State environmental officials determined sediment had washed over Ferncliff Park Drive and into wetlands, Davidson said. Contractors told the state they would clean the area.

Officials could not immediately determine how much sediment reached the wetlands.

Davidson said DENR officials would later determine what, if any, kind of regulatory action might be issued.

"Clearly there is some sediment in the wetland area and there's some minor amount of turbid water that's in a conveyance to the (French Broad) River that was put in as an emergency measure to relieve water pressure off the back of the wall," Davidson said.

Hartwell Carson, French Broad Riverkeeper for the WNC Alliance, said sedimentation did not appear to infiltrate the entire wetland area.

"On one hand you don't want to pollute wetland," he said. "It's a critical habitat for a lot of different things. It doesn't seem very sexy as a polluter, but sediment is the biggest pollution source of the French Broad River."

Carson, who has championed the airport project for getting coal ash into liners and away from the river, said he was concerned about the wall's failure, but also glad to know the coal ash had not been penetrated.

"It's much better than storing it in a hole in the ground at the coal plant where it pollutes groundwater and pollutes the river every day," he said. "It's far and beyond a better option than where it was, where it gets into the river every day."

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