Saturday, February 7, 2015

Logan-Cache Airport (KLGU) Logan, Utah: Long wish list • May host 5K fundraiser

The Logan-Cache Airport is expanding and there will be some changes in the coming years, including reconstruction on a taxiway. 

Lee Ivie, the airport’s manager, gave an update on the airport to the Logan-Cache Airport Authority Board last week after giving an update to the Cache County Council.

“One thing that has made the budget very easy this year is we will have no FAA or state grant projects,” he said. “This is a very rare year that that’s going to happen.”

The reason for that, he said, is the airport needs to bank funds because there are very large projects ahead in the next several years. These projects require a money match to receive funds.

Though the airport is saving money for bigger projects, there are still projects in the works. There are many projects the airport is planning on over the next five years, he said.

Last year they completed the construction of a new taxiway, he said.

There are two landing strips, which makes four runways. The main runway is in great condition, he said, but the second is greatly in need of repair.

In 2016, the airport will do the design work for reconstructing Taxiway C, with the reconstruction to begin in 2017, he said.

“It has been recommended that we either close that runway down or we reconstruct it,” he said. “It’s not eligible for federal funding, so this will have to be funded through the state and locally.”

There are many problems with this runway, he said, and this is something the airport plans to fix in 2016. The Utah Department of Transportation has put this project on their priority list, he said, so that it doesn’t have to be closed.

Another project for 2016, he said, is going to be pavement preservation on the current runway. It will be state funded, he said.

In 2017, he said there will be rehabilitation of the northwest apron.

“It needs repair and that will be a joint venture from both the FAA, the state, and local funding,” he said.

In 2018, the airport will purchase snow removal equipment and a high-speed sweeper.

“It’s something we greatly need at the airport,” he said. “When we get frost and the inversion sets in, we have to have the ability to sweep the runway.”

Another project for 2018 will be pavement preservation of ramps, he said.

In 2021, the airport is looking to purchase property to create a runway protection zone, he said.

“A lot of this is a wish list,” he said. “These projects have been approved, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to get all the funding.”


Logan-Cache Airport may host 5K fundraiser 

The Logan-Cache Airport is holding a community day in July and Utah State University’s aviation team is looking to have a 5K fundraiser run to help the students pay for competitions in the fall.

Desiree Malan, a senior in the aviation program at USU, said the open house at the airport is a good opportunity for the fundraiser run.

“We try to go compete every year,” she said. “But we have to have the money to actually fund ourselves.”

The goal is to raise $5,000, she said, which would fund 250 people at $20 per person.

John Kerr, the chair of the airport authority board, said other fundraiser runs have been proposed at the airport before, but there have always been issues. Using federally funded assets for what might be argued to be a non-aviation related event, he said, could cause problems.

David Hartmann, the vice president of engineering for Armstrong Consultants, said the airport would probably be OK getting the FAA’s approval for this event.

“It makes it a lot easier that it’s not for profit,” he said. “I can’t speak for the FAA. I would just say you would need their approval.”

When a facility that has a lot of federal dollars is shut down, he said, the FAA wants to see where the money is going.

Being not for profit, he said, makes the fundraiser an easier sell for the FAA.

The route for the run should not close the main runway, however, the official route hasn’t been approved.

Kerr told the aviation team to come back with a route that wouldn’t close the main runway and the board would discuss the fundraiser.

“The sense seems to be a guarded willingness to pursue this,” he said.

Aaron Dyches, the chief flight instructor for the aviation team, said the goal of the airport open house is to bring the community to the airport, and the 5K would be a good way to do that. 

Original article can be found at:

Robins unit stays ready for military plane crashes

Staff Sgt. Michael Lindsay shows some of the equipment the Hammer ACE unit at Robins Air Force Base uses when it deploys. The setup includes solar panels that power electronics to establish communications at an aircraft crash site. 

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE -- A small, elite unit at Robins stands ready around the clock to respond to a military aircraft crash or nuclear episode.

The Hammer ACE unit is the only one like it in the Air Force. It specializes in setting up communications when a crash site is at a remote location that may not even have cellphone service.

“Hammer” is an Air Force name for a specialized unit, and ACE stands for Adaptive Communications Element. The unit is made up of just nine people, with three on call at any given time to respond to a crash.

It doesn’t happen very often, but they are expected to be ready to go when it does. The unit has been at Robins since 2010 and has been on five calls, which means they spend a lot of time training.

“We have some highly trained, highly qualified airmen here,” said Master Sgt. Thomas Williams, the superintendent of the unit. “At the end of the day you really don’t want them to go out and do their job. If we are called out, people have died. The only question is how many.”

The most recent deployment happened in August when an F-15 from the Massachusetts Air National Guard crashed in a remote area of Virginia. The pilot, a decorated combat veteran, died in the crash.

The unit formed in 1980 after two serious incidents happened back to back, said Senior Airman Curtis Bonham.

A B-52 bomber on the ground and loaded with nuclear bombs caught fire, causing a major scare. Just three days later a worker at a nuclear missile silo dropped a wrench into the silo that bounced off the floor and punctured the rocket. The damage led to an explosion that blasted the nuclear warhead out of the silo.

Of course, there was no nuclear explosion in either case. But it led the Air Force to conclude that it needed a way to establish and secure communications when responding to serious episodes. Bonham said in both cases there were misunderstandings by the public due to misinterpretations of military lingo and operating procedures that were picked up over unsecured radios.

“The community did not really understand what was happening,” Bonham said. “It caused fears and anxieties.”

But it’s not just about keeping communications secret, Williams said. The equipment they set up helps ground commanders communicate information to the public. They even have a satellite TV dish they set up so commanders can see what information is being reported in the media.

While responding to accident sites is their primary purpose, they also are useful in other situations. They responded to hurricanes Katrina and Sandy because communications in those areas were obliterated. They also may respond to aircraft crashes from other military branches -- and even civilian crashes.

Their equipment includes a satellite dish to link phone and computer communications, powered with batteries that can be trickle charged with roll-up solar panels.

“We are completely self-sustainable,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Lindsay. “We don’t need power right away.”

The unit was originally at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, then moved to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia before coming to Robins. One reason the unit has moved, Williams said, is that its mission does not fit neatly into any larger unit, so it has been transferred between units.

But it is now attached to the 51st Combat Communications Squadron of the 5th Combat Communications Group at Robins, better known as the 5th Mob. The 5th Mob goes into remote locations in combat areas and sets up communications. Hammer ACE basically does the same thing, except at crash locations rather than combat areas.

So, the 5th Mob is a good fit for the unit, Williams said. A Hammer ACE position is highly sought after, and when there is a vacancy in the unit, a dozen or more 5th Mob airmen generally apply.

“These are the finest airmen I have had the pleasure of working with in my 24 years,” he said.

Story and photos:

Staff Sgt. Michael Lindsay talks about some of the communications equipment the Hammer ACE unit would set up inside a tent an aircraft crash site. The unit is ready to deploy around the clock. 

Investigators: Human Error Caused Idaho Guard Chopper Crash

BOISE, Idaho —   Military investigators say human error caused an Idaho Army National Guard helicopter to crash during a training mission in November near the Boise airport, leading to the death of two pilots on board.

Right before the crash, the pilots were practicing a routine emergency procedure: flying their Apache attack helicopter to safety on a single working engine, Col. Tim Marsano, a Guard spokesman, said in a statement.

To simulate loss of power, they were supposed to momentarily slip one of the engine power-control levers into the lock-out position, then pull it back, decreasing power to one of the engines.

But investigators concluded one or both of the pilots pushed both control levers into the lock-out position and kept them there for too long, causing the engines to over-speed and shutting down the engines.

When they lost power, the pilots had three seconds to respond before impact, Marsano said, and that's not enough time to restart the engines or otherwise recover the aircraft. The accident occurred about 400 feet above ground level, in the darkness.

Both pilots — chief warrant officers Stien P. Gearhart, 50, and Jon L. Hartway, 43 — were killed instantly upon impact because of blunt-force trauma, the Ada County Coroner's report determined. The two were the only men aboard the aircraft. The crash also resulted in a total loss of the helicopter.

The crash investigation concluded it was not possible to determine which pilot inadvertently placed both engine power control levers into the lock-out because the levers can be operated from either the front or rear seats.

The investigation also determined that all Guard supporting aviation systems were within normal Army standards.

Apache aircrews will be briefed on the investigation, Guard officials said, with the goal of preventing similar accident.

"This routine, hands-on instruction is critical for military helicopter aircrews, since it trains them how to quickly respond to the loss of one engine's power during aircraft operations on both combat and training missions," Marsano said. This emergency procedure is regularly practiced by Apache pilots across the entire U.S. Army, he said.

Both pilots were assigned to the 1-183rd Attack Reconnaissance Battalion headquartered at Gowen Field in Boise. Gearhart lived in Meridian, and Hartway lived in Kuna.

Marsano said the families had requested privacy.

Original article can be found at:

Michigan Supreme Court: No jobless pay for airport security worker fired for helping traveler

ROMULUS, Mich. — The Michigan Supreme Court says an airport security guard fired for using a computer to help a traveler can't collect unemployment benefits.

In a unanimous decision Friday, the court says lower courts exceeded their authority when they overturned a ruling by state officials.

U.S. Security Associates fired Carnice Hodge for misconduct at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Hodge was trying to help a harried traveler, but U.S. Security says she violated company policy in 2011 by using a computer to get flight information.

The company opposed her application for unemployment benefits. An administrative law judge and the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission ruled against Hodge before courts intervened.

The Supreme Court says Hodge still could have helped the traveler by directing the traveler to someone who had permission to provide flight information.

Story and comments:

Sea Dragon Down: Docs Show Navy Fears More Chopper Crashes

Editor's Note: This story was co-published with The Virginian-Pilot and the Investigative Reporting Program

 More than a year after a Navy helicopter crashed off the coast of Virginia, killing three crew members, high-ranking military officials are worried not enough has been done to prevent a similar tragedy, according to confidential documents obtained by The Virginian-Pilot and NBC News.

After an MH-53E Sea Dragon caught fire and went down on Jan. 8, 2014, the military ordered crews to inspect all Sea Dragons in the fleet -- and every CH-53E Super Stallion, the Marine Corps variant -- for signs of damaged fuel lines and wires like those that caused the crash.

There's now evidence that many of those inspections were conducted haphazardly, if at all, leaving dozens of potentially unsafe helicopters in service and sending officials scrambling to come up with a plan to fix the problems, according to a chain of emails circulating last week among leaders at Naval Air Systems Command, the Maryland-based office that oversees all Navy and Marine Corps aircraft programs.

"Please close hold this information and do not forward," a Marine officer wrote at the start of one email about the shortcomings of last year's inspections. "Engineering is very concerned. … We don't need another mishap as a result of chafing wiring on a fuel line."

The emails included attachments detailing the seriousness of the situation, including a spreadsheet documenting disparities in how much time was spent on the inspections, and a PowerPoint presentation apparently used during a leadership briefing last week by Col. Hank Vanderborght, the Sea Dragon and Super Stallion program director.

The bottom line, Vanderborght wrote to begin the slides, is that "the risk of cabin fire was not mitigated and the hazard of chafing on fluid-carrying lines and wires was not eliminated."

A spot check of Marine helicopters conducted two weeks ago produced disturbing results, according to the slides. Of 28 Super Stallions examined, all but eight were found to have bad fuel lines or wiring, including at least one with chafing lines in the same location that led to the deadly Sea Dragon crash a year ago, when a worn-out wiring bundle released an electrical arc that connected with jet fuel, igniting an explosive fire.

Vanderborght recommended that "Top Level leadership conduct intrusive verification," that the inspections be completed with "requisite attention to detail," and that training and on-site guidance be provided for inspection teams.

This week, a similar review is being done on Sea Dragons, said Cmdr. Mike Kafka, a spokesman for Naval Air Force Atlantic. The engineers so far have discovered additional discrepancies and have concluded that the initial training on how to conduct the wiring and fuel-line inspections was inadequate, Kafka said.

After the crash, the Navy had estimated crews would need to spend 36 hours on each aircraft to conduct the newly required inspections and related repairs. But on dozens of Navy and Marine Corps helicopters, crews reported spending less than three hours on the work, according to maintenance records included in the emails.

Only six of the 28 Sea Dragons that remain in service - and just 17 of the 151 Super Stallions - received an adequate wiring and fuel-line inspection of at least 36 hours after last year's crash, according to an analysis of the data.

Additionally, according to the emails, officials are worried that some of the squadrons focused on finding chafing fuel lines but failed to properly search for bad wiring, which should have been given equal attention.

Kelly Burdick, a spokeswoman for Naval Air Systems Command, said correcting the cause of the Jan. 8, 2014 crash is "paramount" to the Sea Dragon and Super Stallion community.

"Cross checking to ensure corrective actions are having the desired effects is part of our normal process. If a discrepancy is found, we immediately act to rectify the situation. The e-mail and brief … are part of a process," she said, adding that Vanderborght was traveling and wasn't available for an interview.

The internal emails and documents sound an alarming tone, yet more than two weeks after the discrepancies were discovered, Sea Dragons and Super Stallions continue flying in Norfolk, Virginia, at bases across the country and overseas. Further, there is little indication that maintenance crews who work on the helicopters or sailors who fly them have been fully briefed on the matter.

"It's all news to me," said one aviator from Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "I find it deeply troubling."

The inspections ordered a year ago were among measures the Navy has taken to try to improve the safety of wiring and fuel lines. Although some of the helicopters are outfitted with wiring from the 1980s - now brittle and prone to sparking fires - nobody had been required to regularly inspect Sea Dragon wires over the helicopter's three decades in service.

Since the crash, every Sea Dragon is supposed to be thoroughly inspected every 400 flight hours to ensure no wires or fuel lines are chafing or damaged.

Earlier this week at HM-14 - one of two Sea Dragon squadrons at Norfolk Naval Station - a maintenance crew, unaware of the higher-level concerns, grounded the only helicopter at the command that had been cleared to fly this week. Maintainers found several chafing fuel lines and wires, according to sources.

A safety investigation conducted after last year's crash said the Navy, in order to fully remedy the chafing issue, must go beyond inspections: "Physically isolating aircraft wiring from all critical aircraft components is necessary to prevent catastrophic chafing between maintenance intervals," the report said.

In a statement Thursday, Rear Adm. J.R. Haley, commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, said he is confident in the Navy's ability to ensure Sea Dragons are safe to fly and trusts the service's "culture of safety," which gives even junior pilots authority to demand that repairs be made if they are uncertain of an aircraft's safety.

"We are aware of the challenges in maintaining the aging airframe and will continue to ensure the helos remain safe," Haley said in the statement. "NAVAIR engineers have years of experience over many prior airframes in sustaining the safety of our aircraft as they age. We have total confidence in their ability to ensure we are flying airworthy planes."

Nicole Van Dorn, whose husband was among the three sailors killed off Virginia Beach, said it was "beyond inexcusable" that many helicopters were not properly inspected following the crash.

Lt. Wes Van Dorn had been working to expose problems at his squadron and often warned that someone would get hurt if changes weren't made.

"This points to exactly what Wes observed," Nicole Van Dorn said. "That is, an organizational culture that is built on the acceptance of risk because it's easier. I'm so glad someone is speaking up, because Wes can't."

The Virginian-Pilot has spent more than a year investigating problems with the Sea Dragon, the Navy's oldest and most crash-prone helicopter -- and the only one in the fleet capable of sweeping for underwater mines. The latest revelations come days after an NBC Nightly News and Virginian-Pilot story raised concerns about the safety of the aircraft.

Even as Naval Air Systems Command officials were trading emails last week, the newspaper had been questioning the command about its efforts to address wiring problems in light of a Jan. 15 incident over the Arabian Gulf.

In that incident, two wires had chafed inside a Sea Dragon, causing an electrical arc that -- according to numerous sailors at the command -- sparked a brief fire and forced the crew to land in Kuwait.

The Navy confirmed that there was an electrical malfunction but did not use the word "fire."

When asked about the incident, the service responded by touting its work to fix bad wires and fuel lines. No mention was made of the newly discovered problems with those efforts.

Story, photos and video:

Duncan bill would require ejectable, floatable black boxes on planes

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. has been fighting for years to require airlines to equip commercial aircraft with technology that will make it easier to find a plane when it crashes.

The airline industry has resisted, and Congress has been reluctant to force the issue.

But the disappearance of the still-missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 over the South China Sea last March and other recent aviation disasters have led aviation experts to again call for airlines to fit their planes with the data recorders. Duncan is hoping the renewed attention will also cause Congress to finally force the airlines to put the technology on all domestic flights.

“To me, it just makes sense,” the Knoxville Republican said. “I think it should have been done a long time ago.”

Duncan filed legislation Thursday that would require airlines to install ejectable “black box” data recorders on all newly manufactured aircraft in the United States. A similar bill filed by U.S. Rep. David Price, D-N.C., would direct the Federal Aviation Administration to require passenger aircraft to be equipped with tracking technology.

The boxes, already widely used by the Air Force and Navy and other military aircraft around the world, are located on the exterior of the plane. They pop off during a crash and immediately transmit a signal identifying the location of the crash site, enabling search crews to find the plane quickly and giving investigators speedy access to critical data.

The boxes also float, which would make it easier to find them when a plane crashes in the ocean or another large body of water.

“Had Malaysia 370 been equipped with a deployable flight recorder, it would have likely led to the plane’s discovery and provided closure for the families of those on board,” Duncan said. “It also could have saved many millions of dollars in search costs that are still being accrued and possibly provide answers critical to preventing a future crash.”

The National Transportation Safety Board first recommended in 1999 that Congress mandate the technology on all commercial planes, but it is not currently used on any commercial aircraft in the world.

That is about to change.

The European manufacturer Airbus announced last month that it will start equipping its two largest jetliners — the A350 and A380 — with the ejectable black boxes.

And this week, airline officials at an international aviation safety summit in Montreal agreed in principle to add ejectable, floatable black boxes on all commercial jetliners. The International Civil Aviation Organization, which sets airline standards and regulations, is expected to ratify the proposal in November.

Jim Hall, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, applauded Duncan and Price for pushing Congress to mandate what he said are “common-sense and low-cost aviation safety upgrades.”

“Several crashes have occurred over the last six years, let alone the 14 years since I was chairman, that continue to demonstrate the need for these technology upgrades,” Hall, who is from Chattanooga, said in a statement. “Floating recorders, distress signals, 25-hour cockpit voice recorders and cockpit image recorders are all existing, ready-to-install technologies.”

Airbus’s decision to install the boxes on its jetliners and the International Civil Aviation Organization’s likely endorsement of the technology could provide the momentum needed to get Congress to act, said Duncan, who sits on the House Aviation Subcommittee and is its former chairman.

“When you’re talking about these bigger crashes, people want to know and need to know as much as they can (about what happened),” he said. “This is just one small way to make international aviation even safer. It should have been done a long time ago.”

Story and photo:

Piper PA-24-250 Comanche, N6086P: Incident occurred February 06, 2015 at Rapid City Regional Airport (KRAP), South Dakota

Regis#:    N6086P
Aircraft Make:    PIPER
Aircraft Model:    PA24
Event Type:    Incident
Highest Injury:    None
Damage:    Unknown
State:    South Dakota
Flight Phase:   LANDING (LDG)
FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Rapid City FSDO-27


ALEN ENTERPRISES INC DBA: http://registry.faa.govN6086P 

 Both the pilot and passenger were able to walk away when after an electrical system failure forced a plane to land at Rapid City Regional Airport without landing gear at 7:30 Friday night. 

The Rapid City Fire Department says the plane was en route from Wyoming to Wisconsin when the electrical system failed about 80 miles outside of Rapid City, shutting down on-board computers and access to landing gear. 

With no radio, the pilot had to land without notifying the airport tower and employee saw sparks flying from the underside of the aircraft at it skidded to a stop on the runway.

The fire department says the pilot had only airspeed and altitude indicators available and they used their iPads to navigate to a landing place. 

Story and photo:

RAPID CITY, SD - Two people walked away from a crash landing at Rapid City Regional Airport Friday night.

Fire officials say their single-engine prop plane's electrical system failed about 80 miles outside of Rapid City.  

The failure shut down on-board computers so the pilot couldn't deploy the plane's landing gear.

Airport tower workers saw sparks fly underneath the plane as it skidded to a stop on the runway.

The husband and wife on board were checked out by medical crews at the scene.

They were en route from Wyoming to Wisconsin when the electrical failure happened.

Officials say they used their iPads to find a safe place to land.


TransAsia Grounds Some Planes, Tests ATR Pilots After Taiwan Crash • Death Toll From Wednesday’s Crash Rises to 39

The Wall Street Journal


Feb. 7, 2015 6:17 a.m. ET

TAIPEI— TransAsia Airways Corp. will ground most of its ATR planes from Saturday to Monday, as pilots of the turboprops undergo qualification tests required by local authorities days after a deadly crash here which killed at least 39 people.

The decision, which led to the cancellation of 90 domestic flights, follows the release of flight data indicating that fuel to the left engine of Flight 235 was manually cut off after the right engine of the twin turboprop plane appeared to have malfunctioned almost immediately following takeoff.

Both engines stopped producing thrust just before the ATR72-600 crashed into the Taipei’s Keelung River on Wednesday four minutes after takeoff, according to flight data reviewed by Taiwan officials investigating the deadly crash.

The data raise the possibility that the pilot may have mistakenly cut fuel to the only engine keeping the plane in flight. Taiwan aviation safety authorities have declined to provide any interpretation or speculate on the cause of the crash.

Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council presented its preliminary findings after analyzing the data retrieved from the plane’s two cockpit voice recorders and flight-data recorder, commonly known as the ‘black boxes.’ A final report on the cause of the crash will be released in about 12 months.

Wednesday’s crash was TransAsia’s second fatal air accident in seven months. On Friday, Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration said the carrier would be banned from adding new international routes for a year. TransAsia had already been excluded from new international routes after the crash in July that killed 49 people. The second plane crash extends the ban to Feb. 4, 2016, the CAA said.

Air-safety concerns in Asia have been growing as the region’s traffic continues to boom, and following a number of tragedies last year, including the Dec. 28 crash of AirAsia Flight 8501, which went down in the Java Sea on its way from Indonesia to Singapore, and the mystery disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March.

During the week, international air-safety officials said they would press some Asian nations to beef up regulation of their airlines. A report released this week at a summit held by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency that sets nonbinding safety standards for carriers and regulators, found about one-third of commercial-plane crashes in Asia between 2008 and 2012, to some extent, “involved deficiencies in regulatory oversight.”

—Andy Pasztor contributed to this article.

Story and photo:

One of the recovered engines from TransAsia Airways Flight 235 is inspected at the crash site on Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. 

TransAsia Airways
Transasia Avions de Transport Regional ATR-72-212A, B-22816, Flight GE-235

Ryan Frank: It’s About the Journey, not the Destination

Ryan Frank, 17, discusses his preflight checklist in front of the Cessna 172N he flew during most of his training at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.
(Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)

For many children, watching a plane navigate the sky is a source of wonderment. For a young Ryan Frank, it was a glance into his future.

Last week Ryan, a 17-year-old junior at Brainerd High School, earned his private pilot's license just days after his birthday made him eligible to do so.

"If I didn't have that age limit, I probably would have had my license in October," Ryan said.

Ryan's earliest memories of flight come from a trip his family took to Arizona to visit his grandparents.

"(My) face was glued to the window and looking out all the time," he said. "Ever since then, I've really lived aviation and flying, always interested, always looking up when I hear the airplane go by."

What began as a pastime - spending hours on a computer flight simulator - grew into a full-blown passion last spring when Sun Country Airlines arranged for Ryan to meet professional pilots and see the cockpit of a jumbo jet. The invitation came in response to a letter he sent to the company, a letter he said he never expected to be answered.

His father, Dave Frank, remembers when Ryan received the call while the family was traveling to the Twin Cities in preparation for a flight to Mexico. The excitement he saw in Ryan, he said, made him realize how important this was to his son.

"He's passionate about it," Dave Frank said. "He has studied everything about it and he's made connections with other pilots already and really done the research, which has been fun for me to see. We've always been one to push him and say, 'Be open-minded and learn everything you can about a situation.'"

When the family returned from vacation, it was not long before Ryan found himself at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport where in June he began flight instruction through Airmotive Enterprises. Instructor Matt Van Cura said he watched Ryan's passion for aviation unfold as he began pursuing his license.

"It's nice to have a student like that, who's talented but also willing to put the work in to accomplish his goals," Van Cura said. "It's interesting to see the progression from someone who knows very little about aviation to someone who is a proficient pilot."

Ryan said his family and airport staff have been supportive of his goals and helped him accomplish them. His parents supported his instruction financially, although Dave Frank said when he saw how much it would cost he jokingly told Ryan he needed to get another job. Ryan took his dad seriously and picked up his third summer gig, washing planes at the airport, to help pay for his flying. He already worked five or six nights per week at Coach's Corner in Deerwood and also mowed about a dozen area lawns.

"When I said that, it was kind of tongue-in-cheek, but he went and got a job there," he said. "He worked probably 60- (to) 65-hour weeks all summer and he saved all of it."

As for Ryan, he said he enjoys working because it makes him feel accomplished.

"When I want to do something, I really commit to it," he said.

After several hours in the sky with an instructor over the course of the summer, Ryan took his first solo flight Oct. 11, a moment he said he'll never forget. His parents likely won't either. Dave Frank said he became unexpectedly emotional when he realized Ryan would be alone in the plane.

"I didn't anticipate it," Dave Frank said. "We were driving over and talking and saying some prayers, and it just hit me like a ton of bricks that my boy's going up there all by himself."

He said his fears stemmed from having known several pilots who did not survive ill-fated flights in small planes, not from a lack of trust in his son.

"He was on a snowmobile when he was 4 or 5 years old, and a four-wheeler, and he was always safe," he said. "I never had to worry about him."

Mother Debra Frank felt the nerves at first, but said the family has let their Catholic faith guide them in supporting Ryan's dream.

"I just trust the Lord is going to protect him," she said. "If it's (his) time in the air, or it's time on the ground, I can't control that. So I try to be proud of him and just excited about it for him."

So far, neither parent has flown with Ryan, although they have plans to do so soon.

Although Ryan has set his course for a career flying professionally, he has not lost sight of another of his passions, computer science. Upon graduation, he plans to attend Central Lakes College and go on to complete a four-year degree in the field, focusing on web design or application development. In an industry where pilots can sometimes be laid off, Ryan said he wants to ensure he has a back-up plan.

"I'd rather go flying than do homework, but you know, you gotta do the homework and do the school part so you can become whatever you want to be later on," he said.

For now, Ryan's flying is relegated to weekends - he's a "weekend warrior" per pilot lingo - but he's gearing up for the next step in flight training, to earn his instrument rating. This will allow Ryan to operate the plane in cloudy or dark conditions using instruments to fly rather than by sight.

The rest of his journey toward commercial flight is mapped out. First, 250 hours of flight to earn a commercial license, then he'd like to become a certified flight instructor to help complete the 1,500 hours of training required to pilot an airline jet. He'll have to wait until he's 23 to earn this final distinction, although it seems likely he'll be first in line to take his test in 2021.

"They always say, 'It's not the destination, it's the journey,'" Ryan said. "For pilots, I think that's really true."

Story and photos:

Ryan Frank, 17, talks about his flight training in the Cessna 172N at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.
 (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Georgia lawsuit questions Spirit Airlines’ safety

After an engine failure aboard a Spirit Airlines flight, Atlanta passengers are asking a federal court if the budget airline cut corners when it came to their safety.

Passengers Ben Askew and Sam Madanat told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman that they were aboard Spirit Airlines Flight 165, traveling back to Atlanta, in October of 2013. They said that soon after their flight left the Dallas-Fort Worth airport the chaos began.

“As soon as my eyes shut, you just hear ‘boom,’ a huge explosion,” Madanat told Stockman. “Smoke started coming inside. When I saw that right there, I was like, this is it.”

According to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board, shortly after flight 165 left Dallas, one of the plane’s two jet engines failed. After an audible bang and engine fire warnings, the flight crew shut down the engine and the plane returned to the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. The report said aircraft damage was minor.

According to the NTSB, a final report is pending an ongoing investigation.

Cellphone video from that flight showed light-colored smoke entering the aircraft through the cabin’s ventilation system. One passenger sent this text his wife: “Ashlee, I love you. Make sure my kids know that forever.”

“Things started spiraling out of control, there were different noises coming from different parts of the plane,” Askew told Stockman. “Between the screams, the cries, the noise of the engine, you didn’t realize what was real. You have so many noises going on, and emotions.”

The 150 passengers aboard Flight 165 said they’ve been trying to get answers from Spirit for more than a year.

“Are they saving money in administrative costs, are they saving money in salaries, or are they saving money in maintenance?” aviation attorney Bruce Lampert asked.

Spirit airlines denies they cut any corners when it comes to safety.

We're digging into other questions about Spirit's maintenance records and asking the airline about the safety of Flight 165, on Channel 2 Action News at 5:45.


 NTSB Identification: ENG14IA001
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 121: Air Carrier operation of Spirit Airlines (D.B.A. operation of Spirit Airlines)
Incident occurred Tuesday, October 15, 2013 in Greenville, TX
Aircraft: AIRBUS A319 132, registration: N516NK
Injuries: 150 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft incident report.


On October 15, 2013 at about 1451 CDT, a Spirit Airlines (NKS) Airbus A319, registration number N516NK, experienced a No. 1 (left) engine failure during climb out from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Dallas, Texas. The airplane was equipped with two International Aero Engines (IAE) V2524-A5 turbofan engines. The flight crew reported that about ten minutes after takeoff, at FL190, the electronic centralized aircraft monitor (ECAM) displayed a No. 1 engine pressure ratio (EPR) mode fault, N2 over limit warning, and an exhaust gas temperature (EGT) over limit warning. The ECAM notifications coincided with heavy vibrations that could be felt throughout the cockpit and cabin. Both engines were advanced to the take-off/go around (TO/GA) power setting until a No. 1 engine fire warning registered about four minutes later at which time the flight crew shutdown the No. 1 engine and discharged one fire suppression bottle. During the event sequence smoke began entering the cockpit and the crew donned oxygen masks. The airplane returned to DFW and executed an uneventful single engine landing. Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) personnel met the aircraft on the runway and determined the fire had been extinguished. The flight was being operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 as a regularly scheduled flight from DFW to Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport (ATL), Atlanta, Georgia.


No injuries were reported to passengers or crew.


An on scene evaluation of the aircraft and No. 1 engine was conducted at DFW with members from IAE, NKS, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). During a visual examination of the airplane minor impact damage was observed on the aft engine fairing, left wing fairing (canoe) and the leading edge of the left horizontal stabilizer. The impacts did not penetrate the outer panel or affect the underlying structure.

The No. 1 engine low pressure turbine (LPT) 3rd and 4th stage disks, turbine exhaust case center body, and the No. 5 bearing housing were jettisoned from the engine. The LPT 5th stage disk had separated from the 6th stage disk and was hanging on the LPT shaft. There was extensive damage to all remaining high pressure turbine (HPT) and LPT hardware. Large sections of the LPT and exhaust cases were breached and not recovered. The engine cowlings were in good condition without indications of radial uncontainment.

After removal of the engine, the No. 1 engine pylon was examined and exhibited sooting and substantial metal splatter in areas above the LPT plane of rotation. The pylon structure was deemed to be beyond repair limits by Airbus and was removed and replaced.

NTSB Report:

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Mark Darling: Distraught pilot says he survived "suicide crash" without a scratch

CBS4's Jennifer Brice talks with Mark Darling.

Travis Darling (credit: CBS)

EATON, Colo. -- It's hard to imagine anyone walking away from the Jan. 25 plane crash on Rabbit Ears Pass, but the pilot who did talked to CBS station KCNC about how he stayed alive, and he has a message about life and survival.

It wasn't Mark Darling's first plane crash. The first happened years ago and left him with broken bones and in very bad shape. The circumstance of his latest crash is very different because it was not an accident, and Darling has no injuries -- not even a scratch.

"It's just a mashed up ball of aluminum," Darling said of his plane.

A picture of mark Darling's plane illustrates why his survival is a miracle. But within minutes of Jennifer Brice beginning the interview with him, he went another direction.

"Can I stop?" he asked Brice. "This really isn't the story."

When the camera turned back on, Brice continued her interview.

"Did you intentionally fly the plane into the mountain?" Brice asked.

"Yes I did," Darling responded.

Darling was flying over Steamboat Springs where he raised his family. He was overcome with grief thinking about his late son Travis, who died in a car crash two years ago.

Darling wanted to die.

"I make a bad decision at this point. I turn the airplane east toward the mountains," he said. "I say my last goodbyes... I closed my eyes and I wait for the impact."

"I can hear the plane just getting demolished," he said. "(It) started busting through the trees ... I do not have a bruise from the seatbelt, not a scratch on me."

Darling survived the crash but was on the mountain in the cold with no survival gear. Because he didn't file a flight plan, nobody in the aviation world would have known he crashed or where the plane went down.

He has been flying his entire life, but Darling chose not to file that flight plan because he does not have a pilot's license anymore -- he lost it years ago.

He says it was his son's voice that encouraged him and guided him to his phone.

"He's like, 'Dad, you are not going out like this. You're going to get yourself up and you're going to build a fire and you're going to get yourself out of here,'" Darling said.

Darling fought the extreme cold. He now wanted to survive. He searched for his cell phone to no avail. That's when he says his son spoke to him again.

"He says, ;dad.. just walk to the other side of the plane. He says just reach down in the snow. And I grab my phone' At this point, I'm like 'oh my God."

Darling called his sister, then 9-1-1.

Seven hours after crashing, he was rescued -- and is choosing to tell his story to help other grieving people have hope.

"I've never felt more alive in my life," he said. "I don't know what direction it's going to lead me in but, heck yeah, I'm along for the ride now."

Darling says he has not yet spoken to the NTSB who is investigating the crash. He is concerned about the ramifications of intentionally flying a plane into a mountain and not having a pilot's license, but said he will deal with whatever comes his way.

Story, video and photos:

NTSB Identification: CEN15LA122
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, January 25, 2015 in Routt County, CO
Aircraft: CESSNA 172F, registration: N8368U
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 January 25, 2015, about 1100 mountain standard time, a Cessna 172F airplane, N8368U, impacted terrain in the Routt National Forest, Colorado. The private pilot was seriously injured and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the cross country flight.

The airplane impacted sparely wooded, mountainous terrain at an approximate elevation of 10,000 feet. Both wings were crushed and impact damaged. The fuselage was crushed and distorted. The empennage separated from the aft cabin but remain attached to the airplane via control cables. The right elevator was crushed. The airplane has been retained for further examination.

At 1115, an automated weather reporting facility at the Steamboat Springs Airport (KSBS), located 16 nautical miles to the northwest of the accident site, reported wind from 080 degrees at 4 knots, visibility 10 miles, an overcast ceiling at 2,500 feet above ground level, temperature 32° Fahrenheit (F), dew point 23° F, and altimeter setting of 30.40 inches of mercury.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Denver FSDO-03

 Members of Grand County Search and Rescue, Routt County Search and Rescue and Grand County EMS extract the victim of a small plane crash via snowmobile near Rabbit Ears Pass on Sunday and take him to a waiting ambulance. He was then placed aboard a medical helicopter and transported to a Front Range hospital. His injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.

Pilot blamed in fatal New Jersey crash after plane struck ground in fog

American Champion 8KCAB Decathlon, N469J: Accident occurred January 15, 2014 in Holland, New Jersey 

HOLLAND TWP. – Joseph Borin flew into the ground last year because he kept flying into deteriorating weather he was not trained to handle, federal investigators have concluded.

In a newly released report, the National Transportation Safety Board said the 71-year-old Readington man was ferrying his newly purchased American Champion 8KCAB Decathlon back to New Jersey when he found himself locked in a dense fog, hitting a stand of trees as the terrain below began to rise.

Borin, who died in the crash, was not instrument-rated, according to the report.

The NTSB said an examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of any mechanical malfunctions or failure, and found the orientation and length of the wreckage path consistent with a controlled flight into the ground.

The board said the January 2014 crash in Holland Township highlighted the danger of "scud running," a potentially deadly practice in which pilots without instrument training lower their altitude to avoid clouds and continue to fly. As the ceiling continues to lower, so does the pilot, some times with fatal consequences.

An experienced pilot, Borin had logged 4,000 hours of flight time.

Borin had been returning to Alexandria Airport in New Jersey after purchasing his aerobatics-capable, single-engine aircraft in Wisconsin. The plane had basic flight instrumentation, including an altimeter, vertical speed indicator, airspeed indicator, and turn coordinator, but the NTSB said it was not equipped for instrument flight. It carried a single communications radio and transponder, but no navigation radios.

A handheld GPS device recovered from the wreckage had detailed the track of the aircraft, which maintained an altitude of between 2,000 and 3,000 feet for most of the flight until just before the crash.

According to the NTSB, the weather conditions forecast in the vicinity of Alexandria Airport before the Borin's departure had been consistent with visual meteorological conditions safe for him to fly. However, by the time he was within 50 miles of the airport, the forecast and actual weather conditions had deteriorated.

The weather the day of the crash had been marked by light winds, overcast clouds, with visibility restricted in fog. One witness interviewed by the board said she had heard the low-flying airplane pass over her dairy farm and saw the silhouette of an airplane, but could not identify it because of the dense fog. She said the fog was so low, the plane was flying at an altitude less than the height of some nearby high voltage transmission towers.

Moments later, Borin's plane struck the ground.

The crashed aircraft was found by searchers in Holland Township on Jan. 15, about four-and-a-half hours after the witness from across the Delaware River in Bucks County, Pa., called to report hearing the low-flying plane she believed had crashed.

The NTSB said a handheld tablet computer along with a device capable of receiving in-flight weather updates had been recovered from the wreckage, which could have been used to track the changing weather conditions during the flight.

"The pilot also could have used outside visual references and could have tuned the onboard communications radio to weather reporting stations located along the route of flight," said the board, noting that Borin could have diverted his flight to allow weather conditions to improve rather than continuing to his planned destination.

Story and photos:

NTSB Identification: ERA14FA093

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 15, 2014 in Holland, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/27/2015
Aircraft: AMERICAN CHAMPION AIRCRAFT 8KCAB, registration: N469J
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

The pilot had recently purchased the newly-manufactured airplane from the factory and was returning to his home airport when the accident occurred. The weather conditions initially forecast in the vicinity of the destination airport before the pilot’s departure generally were consistent with visual meteorological conditions; however, by the time the pilot was within 50 miles of the destination airport, the forecast and actual weather conditions had deteriorated to instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). Shortly before the accident, a witness observed the airplane as it flew low above the ground in visibilities of about 150 yards in dense fog. The airplane subsequently impacted the tops of trees located near the peak of rising terrain before impacting the ground. The orientation and length of the wreckage path were consistent with a controlled flight into terrain impact sequence. Postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures. The accident airplane was not equipped for flight IMC, nor did the pilot hold an instrument rating. A handheld tablet computer along with a device capable of receiving in-flight weather updates was recovered from the wreckage. It could not be determined if the pilot had used the device to observe the changing weather conditions during the accident flight; however, the pilot also could have used outside visual references and could have tuned the onboard communications radio to weather reporting stations located along the route of flight and noted that weather conditions ahead had deteriorated to IMC. Upon encountering IMC, the pilot could have diverted the flight to allow weather conditions to improve rather than continuing to the planned destination.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot’s continued visual flight rules flight into instrument meteorological conditions, resulting in controlled flight into trees and terrain.

Joseph “Joe” Borin

Joe Borin, standing next to a plane during one of Alexandria Field's summer camps, was a mentor to young people interested in aviation. He died January 15, 2014  when his plane crashed in a rural part of Hunterdon County.
 / Photo courtesy Alexandria Field 

Joe Borin, seen here with his granddaughter Annie Rose, was an avid pilot. The Readington Township resident died January 15th when his small plane crashed in Holland Township in Hunterdon County 

The Hunterdon Prosecutor held a press conference at the municipal building in Holland Township on January 16, 2014 following a pilot that died in a plane crash.

Dennis Diaz, air safety inspector for the National Transportation Safety Board, discusses the January 15th, 2014  plane crash in Holland Township in the township municipal building. 

 The Hunterdon Prosecutor held a press conference at the municipal building in Holland Township on Jan. 16, 2014  following a pilot that died in a plane crash.

Edgar County Airport (KPRG): Inconsistencies in excuses for plane crash…


As I was cleaning out old boxes and filing papers today, I came across some notes from a “TIPS” meeting I attended last October in Springfield.

One of the items mentioned by the IDOT – Div of Aeronautics was that there was funding available for airports that needed to provide protection from animals, and in particular deer. This money could be used for fencing, or other abatement measures.

What answer did the Edgar County Airport provide for that offer? No Thanks! We don’t have a deer problem and do not expect to need any deterrent measures for deer. We have never had this problem and do not expect to.

Imagine that… Just days after an unreported airplane crash at the Edgar County Airport, with rumors of “a deer ran out in front of it on landing” to “we were testing the generator and were not flying” to “Jerry Griffin was not in the plane” to “Jerry Griffin was a passenger” to “Jerry Griffin was the flight instructor for the owner’s daughter who came in on a hard landing” to “nobody saw anything and nobody knows how the plane got from the runway into the hangar after it crashed“.

One thing that we already proved a lie, was Jerry Griffin stating the crash happened in June or July before he was the airport manager – but the receipts for fuel purchased showed the airplane involved in the crash was fueled up in August – after he was the manager.

Questions are still out there, and answers are slowly trickling in…but the main questions still need an answer” Why lie? and Why keep it a secret?

I suspect both answers will lead to the need to keep things from the insurance company so they will still pay out on the claims.

Original article and comments:

National Transportation Safety Board: Pilot taking selfies may have led to plane crash that killed 2 near Front Range Airport (FTG), Watkins, Colorado

WATKINS, Colo. — National Transportation Safety Board investigators say a pilot and his passenger might have been taking selfies on board before a deadly plane crash in Adams County.

The NTSB released the report on the crash that killed two people near Front Range Airport on May 31. The report says it’s likely a cellphone distracted the pilot before he lost control of the plane and crashed.

According to the report, the Cessna 150 crashed in a field near East 48th Avenue and Manila Road as it was doing nighttime takeoffs and landings.

Investigators say they found a GoPro camera nearby and video showed the pilot and his passenger taking selfies at low altitudes, even using the flash.

The pilot and owner of the plane was 29-year-old Amritpal Singh of Aurora. The report also says Singh did not meet the requirements to be flying at night with passengers.

The name of the passenger was never released.

Story and video:

 NTSB Identification: CEN14FA265
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 31, 2014 in Watkins, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/27/2015
Aircraft: CESSNA 150, registration: N6275G
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

The airplane departed on the local night flight in instrument flight rules conditions with 7 miles visibility and overcast clouds at 300 ft above ground level (agl). Radar data showed that the airplane departed the runway, made one flight around the traffic pattern, and landed 6 minutes later. The airplane departed again to the west, did not remain in the traffic pattern, and reached an altitude of 740 ft agl. The airplane made a left turn, which tightened as the airplane descended about 1,900 ft per minute. The airplane impacted a field and bounced one time before it came to rest upright. 

An onboard recording device (GoPro) was found near the wreckage and the files were recovered. Based on the available information, it is likely that the GoPro files were recorded on May 30 and May 31, 2014, with the final GoPro file recorded during the 6-minute flight in the traffic pattern. The accident flight was not recorded. The GoPro recordings revealed that the pilot and various passengers were taking self-photographs with their cell phones and, during the night flight, using the camera’s flash function during the takeoff roll, initial climb, and flight in the traffic pattern. 

A postaccident examination of the airplane did not reveal any preimpact anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Based on the wreckage distribution, which was consistent with a high-speed impact, and the degraded visual reference conditions, it is likely that the pilot experienced spatial disorientation and lost control of the airplane. The evidence is consistent with an aerodynamic stall and subsequent spin into terrain. Based on the evidence of cell phone use during low-altitude maneuvering, including the flight immediately before the accident flight, it is likely that cell phone use during the accident flight distracted the pilot and contributed to the development of spatial disorientation and subsequent loss of control. A review of the pilot’s logbooks did not show that he met the currency requirements for flight in instrument meteorological conditions or night flight with passengers.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s loss of control and subsequent aerodynamic stall due to spatial disorientation in night instrument meteorological conditions. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s distraction due to his cell phone use while maneuvering at low-altitude.  

NTSB Report: