Friday, February 13, 2015

Thunder in the Valley Air Show tickets now on sale


COLUMBUS, Ga. - (WRBL) - Tickets are now available for one of the most anticipated attractions in the state: the Thunder in the Valley Air Show.

The air show is "cleared for takeoff" at the Columbus Airport March 21-22. Tickets can be purchased online or at multiple retail stores.

Advance tickets cost $10 per person, per day, at the following locations:

Columbus-area McDonald's
Flightways Columbus located at the Columbus Airport
Ace Hardware on St. Marys Road
Brusters Real Ice Cream at multiple locations
Wingstop on Weems Road

To purchase tickets online, please visit A $1.50 service fee will be applied to each online ticket purchase. Military personnel may purchase advance tickets for $8 each at Fort Benning's MWR Tickets and Travel. 

All tickets are $15 per person on the day of the show. Children ages 6-years-old and younger get into the air show free.

The Thunder in the Valley Air Show will feature a variety of vintage and modern aircraft, including the Trojan Horsemen, a six-ship team of WWII-era T-28 Trojans, and the Class of '45, a high-speed tandem act featuring an F4U-4 Corsair and a P-51 Mustang.

Visitors can also stop by to see Jacquie B Airshows, a thrilling aerobatic routine by one of the most accomplished female pilots in the air show business. Other attractions include Kent Pietsch Airshows, a comedy act featuring the colorful “Jelly Belly” Interstate Cadet; and a pair of renowned WWII bombers, the “Texas Raiders” B-17 Flying Fortress and the “Panchito” B-25 Mitchell.

Thunder in the Valley Air Show will also include an array of engaging ground attractions, including “Tinker Belle,” a Curtis C-46 Commando transport aircraft; the Lockheed 12-A that starred in the movie “Amelia;” military vehicles from the CAMO Group; a Kids Carnival; and the 9/11 NEVER FORGET Mobile Exhibit, which honors those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

“This year's air show features a great variety of performers and displays, including some real treasures that celebrate America's aviation heritage," says Phaedra Childers, Event Coordinator.  "With so much to see and do, it's a great event for the entire family to enjoy together.”

The air show has been flying high since 1997, and now depends on the help of more than 300 volunteers to entertain and inform families all across the Chattahoochee Valley.

Local ticket outlets accept cash only. Each ticket is valid only for one of the two show days. To attend both days requires two tickets. There will be no rain dates or refunds.

Online advance tickets will be available until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 20. Retail locations will offer advance tickets until close of business on Friday, March 20. Only $15 Day of Event tickets will be sold after that.

Gates will open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. on both Saturday, March 21 and Sunday, March 22.

For more information on the event or how you can become a sponsor, visit

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Law Enforcement Warns Against Aiming a Laser at an Aircraft

AMARILLO -- Local law enforcement is reminding and warning everyone about the dangers and punishment for shooting a laser into the cockpit of a plane or helicopter.

In June of 2014, the local DPS helicopter was illuminated by a laser. Both men were found guilty and sentenced for the crime.   

On June 3, 2014, an FBI press release announced a “national campaign to deter people from pointing lasers at aircraft, a federal violation that presents danger to pilots, passengers, and those on the ground.”  The release further mentioned that the FBI is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest of any individual who aims a laser at aircraft. Since the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began tracking laser strikes in 2005, data shows a more than 1,100 percent increase in the deliberate targeting of aircraft by people with handheld lasers.” A violation of the federal law can result in a maximum of five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
The statistic quoted shows that this type of incident is increasing. According to information provided by the DPS, this type of activity can be particularly dangerous when the aircraft is a single pilot vehicle such as an EMS or other helicopter which may be operating close to the ground or at night.  A small hand-held laser can dangerously impair the pilot’s ability to see unlit obstacles that could then be hit by a part of the aircraft.  The result could be a deadly accident.   

If you have information about a lasing incident, call the local FBI field office or the Amarillo Crime Stoppers, or the Amarillo Police Department.  If you see someone pointing a laser at an aircraft, call 911. 

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Inside Embry-Riddle's airplane crash lab


  • Students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University train to be crash investigators using real crashed planes
  • "The benefit after figuring out what happened means that it's probably not going to happen again."

In a fenced-off patch of high desert, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is training future cash investigators using real-life wrecks.

The gate to the crash lab sits inside a giant circular engine cowling from a Boeing 747. Step inside and there are severed tails, broken cockpits and crumpled wings everywhere.

"It's a puzzle," student Julie Bales said. "I like puzzles. And the benefit after figuring out what happened means that it's probably not going to happen again."

The planes are from across the country. Private planes become the property of the surviving owners or their families once the NTSB is finished with its investigation. Embry-Riddle asked for donations and got a collection of wrecks, from small single-engine planes to larger commuter aircraft.

One, a Varga single-engine plane, sits under an awning, nose straight in the ground. The cockpit is almost unrecognizable. A single lap belt sits in what's left of the seat. The plane hit the ground so hard the pilot's body was cut in half.

"Half his body was still in the aircraft," student Eleazar Nepomuceno said, picking up the seatbelt. "The other half was pretty much launched."

But details like that help the students investigating the crash. The aluminum on both sides of the cockpit is crumpled like an accordion. That tells investigators the plane hit evenly, without spinning.

The real-life NTSB investigation found the pilot had failed his medical screening and wasn't certified to fly, but took off anyway. Nepomuceno says the pilot probably had a heart attack in midair.

Everything from radio communication to fuel levels and the weight of the passengers has to be taken into account.

"Some people pick it up faster than others," Nepomuceno said.

A few dozen yards away, another plane has been reduced to parts spread out over a large area. It was a big plane, eight or more passengers. The tail sits upright at one end of the field, a tangle of wires marks what's left of the cockpit at the other end.

Bales said when she first saw the crash lab, she didn't know where to start. But Nepomuceno explains that's why the lab exists. Students should see the debris field and methodically examine it.

In the large debris field, students should discover that the tail of the aircraft is charred, but only on one side. That should lead to them to the left engine, where faulty wiring caused an explosion in the fuel tanks, lighting the engine on fire.

It's hard, sometimes gruesome work. But that's what the students signed up for, and they believe their work is for the greater good.

"That's our duty to families of the occupants of the aircraft and to society in general," student Taylor Smith said. "To make aviation safer."

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American Grumman AA-1 Yankee, N6116L: Accident occurred February 08, 2015 in Fort Meade, Maryland

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA123 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, February 08, 2015 in Fort Meade, MD
Aircraft: AMERICAN AA-1, registration: N6116L
Injuries: 2 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 February 8, 2015, about 1407 eastern standard time, an American AA-1, N6116L, collided with trees then the ground during a forced landing shortly after takeoff near Fort Meade, Maryland. The commercial-rated pilot and one passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged and was co-owned by three private individuals, operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a personal, local flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and a Washington, DC, SFRA flight plan was filed. The flight was originating at the time of the occurrence.

The pilot stated that the purpose was to perform touch-and-go landings to verify that previous repairs related to engine roughness eliminated the problem. He performed a preflight inspection of the airplane, and reported that no contamination was noted in the fuel sample from each tank that had 3/4 capacity. After engine start he taxied to runway 28, and performed a full power engine run-up that lasted between 2.0 and 2.5 minutes; the magneto drops were equally 75 rpm, and no engine roughness was noted.

With no flaps extended, the auxiliary fuel pump on, and the fuel selector on the right tank, he initiated takeoff from runway 28. He reported that during the takeoff roll when at 60 to 70 miles-per-hour (mph), he noted red line rpm of 2,500. The airplane became airborne about midpoint of the runway (normal), and he began climbing at 80 mph, which is Vx. About 30 to 40 seconds after full power application, while at about 250 feet above ground level, he noted an abrupt partial loss of engine power. He reported that the engine rpm dropped from 2,500 to 1,500 then went to 1,900. He cycled the magneto switch, applied carburetor heat, and then turned off the auxiliary fuel pump, but those actions did not restore engine power. He flared at tree top height, and the airplane collided with trees, then impacted the ground inverted. 

Jeff Barnett

FORT MEADE, Md. (WJZ) — One of the pilots trapped when their small plane went down near Fort Meade has just been released from the hospital. He’s giving WJZ his account of how he survived that crash in the woods.

Rick Ritter has his story.

Barnett just got out of the hospital Friday. He’s upbeat and in good spirits, but says he’s certainly very lucky to be alive.

A broken sternum fractured vertebrae and bruises all over. Jeff Barnett, 57, can barely move.

“You hit the trees at about 65, 75 miles-per-hour. After that, fate kind of takes over,” he said.

Fate that helped the longtime pilot live to tell his dramatic story.

“I’m very blessed and I keep telling him it was a miracle,” his wife, Melissa Barnett, said.

Sunday afternoon, Barnett’s single engine plane spiraled down into the woods near the Tipton Airport. On board–his close friend, 82-year-old Thomas Cline.

Rescuers scrambled to pull the two from the submerged wreck. They were both rushed to Shock Trauma.

“We were both very alert. Tom said, ‘Jeff, we’ve alive. We’re alive,’” said Barnett.

Barnett described what he called a beautiful day for flying that quickly turned disastrous after taking off.

“As we approached the trees, maybe 50 feet above them which would be normal for that airplane, the engine began to lose power,” he said.

Leaving the Glen Burnie pilot with just moments to make a life-saving move.

“In this case, we had all of ten seconds,” he said. “The only choice was to settle down into the trees. It was a noisy rough ride down. My only hope is it would land upright, and we didn’t.”
With a smile, Barnett said he never doubted his experience in the life or death moment.

Ritter: “Was there a time when you didn’t think you would make it out alive?”

Barnett: “I would like to think that superior skill caused it to be a survivable accident.”

A traumatic collision that would keep many off a plane for the rest of their lives—but not Barnett.

“It’s part of our lives, so we’re not going to give that up, of course,” he said.

The NTSB took the lead on the investigation. Still no word on what exactly caused the engine to start losing power.

Officials say the plane was registered to both Barnett and the passenger.

Mayor Ness calling on state funding for multi-million dollar Cirrus expansion

DULUTH, Minn. ( -- Cirrus aircraft in Duluth has announced they're expanding operations both on, and off, the runway, which would bring more jobs to the region, and help secure Cirrus's place in the world aviation market. 

City leaders are now asking state lawmakers for $4 million to help the expansion soar to new heights.

Cirrus's expansion project has two main components.

The company is already in the process of moving some of its features that don't depend on having the Duluth International Airport runway into a new building along the Miller Trunk Highway.

Cirrus CEO Dale Klapmeier says that will make room for a new completion facility on–site, that would pump out the company's Vision jet.

Klapmeier says they already have over 500 advanced orders for the plane.

"We expect to see customer deliveries within the next year, and then the growth path to meet those demands is what determines that timeline for the building," said Klapmeier during the announcement Friday.

Both Klapmeier and Mayor Don Ness say that timeline is time critical, which is why they're taking a $4 million investment request to Governor Dayton, and state economic leaders, this legislative session.

The other $6 million would come from the city, paid for through a combination of tax increments that would come from the new structure and lease payments that Cirrus would pay to cover that difference.

"This is a model that has been proven successful in the past with previous expansions, and we're looking to employ that same sort of approach to this new expansion," said Mayor Ness, "that will facilitate not only the growth of this company, but very important job growth in the region.

While not specific on the potential growth, Klapmeier says they've added over 300 new jobs in the past three years with intention to reach a similar figure in the next three years.
Mayor Ness says the project would attract worldwide revenue.

"But there's only a few industries that we have in this region that bring in outside money into our economy, and aviation is one of those key industries," added Ness.

Mayor Ness says it would also further secure Cirrus's place in the world aviation market, which is why lawmakers need to act this session.

Cirrus spokespeople say 2014 was the best year in deliveries for the company since 2008.

Currently, there are nearly 6,000 Cirrus airplanes in the field.

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Cirrus, Duluth seek funding for new jet center

DULUTH, Minn. -- As Duluth-based Cirrus Aircraft nears production of its new Vision SF-50 light jet, the company faces a problem.

It's in dire need of more production space.

To ensure that the jet is built in Duluth and that the company has room to grow, the city of Duluth wants to build a $10 million facility on city-owned land just southeast of Cirrus' headquarters and production center at the Duluth International Airport.

The plan, announced by Duluth Mayor Don Ness on Friday, calls for $4 million in state funding. The funding will be sought from the state's general fund and Department of Employment and Economic Development programs. The city would kick in $6 million through the establishment of a tax-increment financing district. Taxes and lease payments paid by Cirrus would help repay the cost of the project.

Similar approaches have been used with other business expansions in Duluth, including the former Northwest Airlines Maintenance Base built in the 1990s. The city also built Cirrus' Customer Center about 12 years ago which the company leases.

But for Cirrus, the timing is critical for this latest 60,000-square-foot expansion. Action by the state Legislature would be needed this session, say both Ness and Cirrus CEO Dale Klapmeier.

Ness has talked to Gov. Mark Dayton and local legislators about the project, with the response so far positive, city staff say.

Cirrus needs the additional facility as it revs up production of its groundbreaking personal jet in the next year, and starts filling the more than 500 orders it has for the $2 million aircraft.

After years of development, Cirrus' single-engine jet is expected to get certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, start production and deliver its first plane by the end of the year.

Just this week, Cirrus added 40,000 square feet of space at 4950 Miller Trunk Highway, an off-airport location where machining, sub-assembly production, equipment testing and research and development will occur. At full capacity about 50 people will work there.

"Moving to that building opened up space we need to finish certification and see us through (the first) deliveries," Klapmeier said.

But beyond that, Cirrus will need the proposed $10 million facility to serve as the completion center for finishing work on the jets, as well as provide room for the company to grow.

"We will be time-critical in about a year from now," Klapmeier said.

Ness said Duluth is a player in the aviation sector. He wants the aviation hub in Duluth to grow. And this new Cirrus facility is critical for that to happen, he said.

"There's no question it's Cirrus that's the aviation core of Duluth," he said. "We want to ensure Duluth is the place where Cirrus continues to grow."

In the last three years, Cirrus has been on a growth spurt. Deliveries of its SR-20, SR-22 and SR-22Ts single-engine piston planes have been building after several years of declining numbers due to the lingering impact of the economic recession.

The company has added 300 jobs, many for its jet program. That brings its total staff to more than 825, with 650 in Duluth, company officials say.

Klapmeier says that job growth will continue in the future, though he declined to say how many jobs will be created. In its news conference announcement, however, the city said more than 150 additional jobs could be generated.

Original article can be found at:

Don Keeney: Retired Bettendorf High School history teacher shares his model airplane collection

BETTENDORF, Iowa (KWQC) — A retired Bettendorf High School history teacher says World War I marks a great transition. The war brought about the birth of aerial warfare. Don Keeney enjoys building model airplanes, and has dozens of open cockpit planes on display at the Bettendorf Public Library.

The planes are replicas of those flown by fighter pilots in the First World War. Keeney buys the kits, assembles the models, and does his research. He is a wealth of knowledge about the planes, pilots and squadrons. The detail and decals are impressive.

Planes which changed the way war was fought. Guns mounted on open cockpit planes. Pilots, Keeney says, shooting at the enemy to gain control of the air.

In his collection, Keeney built a model of the plane Captain Eddie Rickenbacker flew during the First World War. As a fighter pilot, Rickenbacker shot down twenty six enemy planes.

Keeney also built a model of the fighter plane flown by the Red Baron. Germany’s ace pilot who shot down eighty enemy planes.

Included in the collection at the library is the helmet Don’s great uncle wore while serving in the war. The helmet is painted with the French and American Flags. Keeney also has his great uncle’s gas mask bag. Poison gas was used during the war.

Keeney builds other model planes and ships. Preserving part of American History. The collection is on display at the Bettendorf Public Library through the end of February.

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NORAD figthters escort general aviation aircraft • Half Moon Bay Airport (KHAF), California

Residents around Monterey Bay were startled Friday afternoon by the sight of F-15 fighter jets in the skies above them corralling an aircraft flying in an area that was restricted due to President Obama’s visit. 

Just before 2 p.m., F-15s under the control of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, known as NORAD, saw an unresponsive aircraft enter airspace that was restricted due to Obama’s attendance at a cybersecurity summit at Stanford University.

Curious onlookers from San Francisco to Santa Cruz quickly took to social media, wondering why military planes were buzzing about at breakneck speeds. But, soon enough, the unresponsive plane re-established communication and was followed south to Half Moon Bay, where it landed without incident, according to a statement from NORAD.

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Two fighter jets were called to the skies above San Francisco Friday afternoon after a plane entered airspace that has been restricted during President Barack Obama’s visit to the Bay Area.

According to a statement from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), two F-15’s found a general aviation aircraft in the airspace and the plane was out of communication.

NORAD said the plane was able reestablish communications. 

The plane was then escorted by the fighter jets to Half Moon Bay, where it safely landed.

Mr. Obama arrived in the Bay Area on Thursday. The president was at Stanford University on Friday for a summit on Cybersecurity and a roundtable with local business leaders. He returned to San Francisco late Friday afternoon for a Democratic National Committee fundraiser.

The president will depart San Francisco International Airport for Palm Springs on Saturday morning.

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Press Release

15-02-13/001 | February 13, 2015

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Co - Fighter jets under the control of the North American Aerospace Defense Command visually identified a general aviation aircraft in the Temporary Flight Restricted (TFR) area over San Francisco, Calif., today, Feb. 13, 2015.

At approximately 1:50 p.m. PST, two F-15s visually identified a general aviation aircraft that was out of communication in the TFR. The aircraft re-established communications and was followed by the fighter jets until it safely landed at Half Moon Bay.

Information on the San Francisco TFR beginning on Feb. 13 and ending Feb. 14 can be located at

Information on the upcoming TFR for Palm Springs, CA beginning on Feb. 14 and ending on Feb. 16 can be located at

NORAD's mission – in close collaboration with homeland defense, security, and law enforcement partners – is to prevent air attacks against North America, safeguard the sovereign airspaces of the United States and Canada by responding to unknown, unwanted and unauthorized air activity approaching and operating within these airspaces, and provide aerospace and maritime warning for North America.

As one of NORAD's critical airspace security partners, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provides air traffic services for NORAD to safely and effectively perform its mission and to minimize the impacts on normal air traffic operations.

NORAD is the bi-national Canadian and American command that is responsible for the air defense of North America and maritime warning. The command has three subordinate regional headquarters: the Alaskan NORAD Region at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska; the Canadian NORAD Region at Winnipeg, Manitoba; and the Continental NORAD Region at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. The command is poised both tactically and strategically in our nation’s capital to provide a multilayered defense to detect, deter and prevent potential threats flying over the airspace of the United States and Canada. 


Enstrom 280FX Shark, N86235, New Course Aviation Co: Accident occurred January 26, 2015 at Erie Municipal Airport (KEIK), Colorado

NTSB Identification: CEN15FA126
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, January 26, 2015 in Erie, CO
Aircraft: ENSTROM 280FX, registration: N86235
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On January 26, 2015 about 1202 mountain standard time (MST), an Enstrom 280FX, N86235, was destroyed when it impacted terrain during final approach for landing at the Erie Municipal Airport (EIK), Erie, Colorado. Both the instructor pilot and student pilot were fatally injured and the helicopter was destroyed. The helicopter was registered to New Course Aviation Company and operated by Mountain One Helicopters as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight which operated without a flight plan.

A witness reported that the helicopter was on final approach for landing on the runway at what seemed a steep angle of descent. As the helicopter descended, she heard a loud "pop" and the helicopter began to rotate and then the main rotor blades departed off the top of the helicopter. The remainder of the helicopter fell to the ground, impacted, and then "exploded."

DENVER (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration has grounded more than 300 Enstrom helicopters nationwide until they can be inspected for possible cracks like the one that may have caused a crash last month that killed two people in Colorado.

In an emergency directive issued Thursday, the FAA said that the investigation into the Jan. 26 crash indicates that the helicopter's rotor blade came off because of a crack in the spindle, which holds the rotor blade in place on top of the helicopter.

The crash, which involved a 30-year-old Enstrom 280FX, killed flight instructor Alex Viola, 23, of Arkansas City, Kansas and student pilot Amy Wood, 25, of Boulder. A witness told investigators that she saw it landing at what seemed to be a steep angle at the Erie Municipal Airport and that she heard a loud "pop" and then saw the rotor blades coming off.

The investigation into the Colorado crash is expected to take several more months to complete, but the FAA sometimes issues such emergency directives when it finds a condition that might affect the immediate safety of aircraft, agency spokesman Lynn Lunsford said.

The FAA order applies to 323 Enstrom helicopters in a range of models that are registered in the United States. Police and the military in Thailand, Japan and Indonesia also use the same type of aircraft, according to Enstrom's website.

The FAA says owners should not fly the helicopters until having an experienced agency inspector perform an X-ray-like test called a magnetic particle inspection to look for cracks in spindles that have 5,000 hours or more of use. If a crack is found, the FAA says it must be replaced before the helicopter is flown.

The FAA directive largely mirrors a service bulletin by Michigan-based Enstrom to its operators worldwide on Wednesday, although the company gave operators some leeway to fly aircraft to service centers in order to be inspected. While the company is taking the issue seriously, president Tracy Biegler said there's no evidence cracks have been a problem on any other aircraft in the company's 55 year history.

The lawyer for Viola's family, Gary Robb of Kansas City, Missouri, said he plans to sue the company over the crack. He praised the FAA for acting so quickly to try to prevent further crashes.
"This is what this industry and what our regulatory authorities should be doing," he said.

Original article can be found at:

Velocity STD/RG-E, N112TH: Accident occurred February 13, 2015 at Sebastian Municipal Airport (X26), Florida 

SEBASTIAN — A North Carolina man who crashed a single-engine aircraft Friday at the Sebastian Municipal Airport was still at a Melbourne hospital Saturday, but could be released in a few days, a police official said.

Andrew Liptak, 73, had just taken off Friday shortly before 9 a.m. when he crashed his Velocity experimental craft into some trees and bushes near the runway. He was taking off at an altitude of about 100 feet when the plane veered south and struck the ground, Steve Marcinik, Sebastian Police Department’s public information officer, said Friday.

“Mr. Liptak is in stable condition, and is possibly expected to be released maybe next week,” Marcinik confirmed Saturday. “It’s nonlife-threatening injuries.”

He said Liptak’s wife arrived from their North Carolina home and is expected to meet with detectives Tuesday to retrieve belongings that scattered after the crash. Liptak was on his way home to North Carolina when he crashed.

The plane, a Velocity STD/RG-E, a fixed-wing single-engine, amateur-built experimental aircraft, was manufactured in 2007, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

Marcinik called the aircraft “pretty cracked up” and said the debris will be examined by federal investigators.

“The aircraft was moved (Friday) onto premises of the airport,” he said. “I know it’s in a secured indoor place at the airport for the FAA to review it next week.”

On Friday, the FAA confirmed in its preliminary report that a door had opened in flight as Liptak lifted off.

John Abraham, chief pilot of Velocity, an experimental aircraft manufacturer at the airport, told authorities Liptak bought the plane used two weeks ago. He said it was Liptak’s first solo flight.

On Friday February 13, 2015 at 8:58 AM, Sebastian Police Department and Indian River County Emergency Fire Rescue responded to a report of an aircraft crash. Upon the arrival at the crash scene within the Sebastian Airport Property was observed a Velocity Experimental Aircraft that evidentially veered to the south of the active runway striking the trees and brush that line the south west area of the airport property. The pilot is identified as 73 year old Andrew Liptak out of North Carolina. Mr. Liptak recently purchased the aircraft and was in Sebastian to retrieve it. Preliminary investigations indicate that an unusual occurrence happened during take-off at approximately 100 foot of altitude resulting in the pilot veering in the direction of his left (south). Mr. Liptak sustained unknown specific injuries as a result of the impact but was responsive to investigative and rescue personnel. Fire rescue personnel extricated Mr. Liptak from the wreckage and he was then airlifted to Holmes Regional Medical Center. Family members were notified and are traveling from North Carolina to meet with Mr. Liptak. The crash incident location is secured awaiting the arrival of the FAA for further investigation. The Sebastian Airport remains open and with normal operations.

SEBASTIAN — The pilot of a plane that crashed near the Sebastian Municipal Airport Friday morning has been identified as 73-year-old Andrew Liptak of North Carolina. 

Sebastian Police Department spokesman Ofc. Steve Marcinik said Liptak had recently purchased an experimental Velocity aircraft and was just taking off from the airport when he crashed.

Ofc. Marcinik said an "unusual occurrence" caused the plane to veer left and crash. He said the plane was at a maximum height of 100 feet when it lost altitude.

Though there have been other media reports that a door on the plane opened, Ofc. Marcinik said it is possible but has not been confirmed.

Liptak was airlifted to Holmes Regional Medical Center to be treated for injuries sustained in the crash. He was the only person on board the plane.

Posted 9:17 a.m. Feb. 13

SEBASTIAN — A pilot has crashed his plane near the Sebastian Airport Friday morning, according to authorities. The pilot was found conscious and alert, complaining of hip and leg pain.

The patient is being flown to a trauma center, according to Indian River County Fire Rescue.

A 73-year-old pilot was involved in a crash near the runway of the Sebastian Airport, according to the Indian River County Fire Rescue. The call was made by a golfer near the sixth hole of the Sebastian Municipal Golf Course.

It occurred on the southwest corner of the airport, near the runway, according to authorities.

This article will be updated with more information.

SEBASTIAN, Fla., — A small aircraft crashed at Sebastian Municipal Airport Friday morning.

The pilot, 73-year-old Andrew Liptak of South Carolina, was conscious and talking to paramedics, police said.

Liptak “tried to make a 180-degree turn to try to land the experimental aircraft," John Abraham, chief pilot of Velocity, an experimental aircraft manufacturer at Sebastian Municipal Airport, told Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Liptak had just taken off when he saw the co-pilot door had opened, Abraham told Scripps Treasure Coast reporters. “But he tried to make a 180-degree turn to land, and he hit the ground, went into the trees and totaled the plane.”

Liptak had recently purchased the Velocity Experimental Aircraft and was in Sebastian picking it up, police said.

Indian River County Fire Rescue extricated him from the wreckage and he was airlifted to Holmes Regional Medical Center, police said.

The crash was first reported in the Vero News.

The airport is open for business.

Colleen Wixon and Will Greenlee, Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers contributed to this report.

UPDATE 1:45 p.m.: The pilot is 73-year-old Andrew Liptak of North Carolina, according to a statement on Sebastian police's Facebook page.

Liptak was operating a recently-purchased "Velocity Experimental Aircraft" and struck the trees and brush on the southwest area of the airport grounds, police said.

Liptak sustained "unknown specific injuries" but was responsive to investigative and rescue personnel, police said. He was airlifted to Holmes Regional Medical Center.

Airport officials are awaiting the arrival of the FAA for further investigation; the Sebastian Airport has resumed normal operations.

DEVELOPING: An experimental aircraft has crashed near the runway at Sebastian Municipal Airport, according to several media reports. is reporting onlookers spotted first responders going to the scene. 

The pilot is "alert and conscious and is talking to paramedics," according to Sebastian police. He is en route to the hospital, according to 

The pilot's name has not been released, but reports he is a 73-year-old male. 

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Pilot Jeff Barnett: "Act like the tops of the trees are your runway, flare out and land into 'em, after that, trees take care of everything"

GLEN BURNIE, Md. (WJLA) — The pilot of a small plane who survived a crash in a wooded area near Fort Meade last weekend was released from the hospital Friday. 

In an interview with ABC7 News as he returned home, Jeff Barnett described the crash he and a passenger managed to survive - something that doesn't happen often.

The 57-year-old Glen Burnie man confirmed that at about 250 feet altitude after takeoff from Tipton Airport, his plane lost engine power. He said he tried to land softly in the tops of the trees.

"We always teach: Act like the tops of the trees are your runway and you flare out and land into 'em," he explained. "After that, trees take care of everything."

But after impact, the Grumman American AA-1 aircraft tumbled to the ground and landed upside down; Barnett and his passenger, 82-year-old Thomas Cline of Silver Spring, looked at each other and agreed that they were lucky to be alive.

"It's a matter of fate, you know... I'd like to think my superior piloting skills did it but it didn't," Barnett observed.

He said he looks forward to flying again, and is even building a small plane currently in his garage.

Original article can be found at:


Regis#: N6116L
Aircraft Make: GRUMMAN
Aircraft Model: AA1
Event Type: Accident
Highest Injury: Serious
Damage: Unknown
State: Maryland
Flight Phase:  UNKNOWN (UNK)
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Baltimore FSDO-07


American (Grumman) AA-1 Yankee, N6116L

Contract and a Raise for Airport Manager: Martha's Vineyard Airport (KMVY), Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts

The manager of the Martha’s Vineyard Airport has a new contract that comes with a big salary increase.

The airport commission voted late last week to renew Sean Flynn’s contract through June of 2018. As of July 1, Mr. Flynn’s salary will go up to $138,822; an increase of 20 percent from the five-year contract he signed in 2010. Under the old contract, Mr. Flynn was paid $115,000 a year.

Airport commissioners voted 5-2 at a meeting to approve the contract, a videotape of the meeting from last Friday shows.

Commissioners James Coyne, Constance Teixeira, Denys Wortman, Norman Perry and Beth Toomey voted in favor of the contract, while Christine Todd and Richard Michelson were opposed.

Contract talks were held in executive session at several special meetings of the airport commission this winter.

Mr. Flynn’s new contract has a three-year term, unlike the previous contract which was for five years.

Also on Friday, Deborah H. Potter signed her first contract as assistant airport manager. All commissioners but Richard Michelson voted in favor of her contract.

Under the terms of that agreement, Ms. Potter will earn $105,326 each year for three years.

Prior to this year, Ms. Potter served as assistant manager without a contract.

As non-union employees, both Ms. Potter and Mr. Flynn are also covered by the airport’s new personnel manual.

They are both eligible for a two per cent raise each year, depending on performance review, as well as 344 hours of earned time each year.

Speaking to the Gazette by telephone, Mr. Flynn said his professional goals have remained the same since he took the job in 2005: “To carry out the work the commission puts as a priority for us and continue the safe and efficient operation of the airport.”

In another airport matter, the county commission is preparing to make three new appointments on the seven-member airport commission.

Six candidates have submitted applications for the three spots, including current board members Constance Teixeira and James Coyne. Current commissioner Denys Wortman is not seeking reappointment.

The other applicants are Clarence (Trip) Barnes 3rd, whose moving company rents space at the airport, John Cahill, who owns the Hertz rental car agency at the airport, and Myron Garfinkle and Robert H. Rosenbaum, who are both pilots.

Ms. Teixeira has served on the commission since 2006 and is the current chairman. Mr. Coyne has served six years and is seeking a third term.

In his application, Mr. Barnes said he would work for change at the business park.

“A lack of communication and mismanagement surrounds the park,” he wrote in his application. “Tenants are unhappy with what they have to work with but have no choice. Vineyard people deserve better.”

Mr. Garfinkle and Mr. Rosenbaum also applied for the job in the early fall after a seat was left vacant by former commissioner Peter Bettencourt.

Ms. Toomey won that seat in September.

Appointments will be made by March, though an exact date has not yet been set.

The new appointments come against a backdrop of ongoing legal conflicts between the airport commission and the county commission, which is its appointing authority.

The airport brought a lawsuit against the county commission last year over claims that the county has tried to interfere with the airport’s autonomy. Another lawsuit involves a workplace complaint from a former employee against the airport. Both cases are pending in superior court.

- Story and comments:

Martha’s Vineyard Airport manager granted paid leave: