Monday, February 23, 2015

Rinker Buck: ‘Fly away’ at next winter lecture at Boothbay Railway Village

Rinker Buck will be speaking on Tuesday, March 3 from 7 to 9 p.m. the Boothbay Railway Village. 
Courtesy of Rinker Buck

The Boothbay Railway Village will host author and adventurer Rinker Buck for its next Winter Lecture, from 7-9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3. Buck is the author of the critically-acclaimed “Flight of Passage,” a memoir about his record-breaking coast-to-coast crossing in a primitive Piper Cub.

In 1966, when Buck was 15 and his older brother Kernahan was 17, they rebuilt an old 90-horsepower Piper Cub in their New Jersey barn over the winter and that July flew it California, learning only after they arrived on the Pacific coast that they were the youngest aviators in history to make the coast-to-coast flight.

The Buck brothers’ “stock” Cub had only four basic instruments, no radio, and they were frequently passed by cars underneath them as they navigated in stiff headwinds along the highways of the west. The first leg of their trip (Basking Ridge, New Jersey to Carlisle, Pennsylvania) was the longest cross-country flight either one of them had made.

Buck’s lyrical account of crossing the country is a celebration of 1960s-era American innocence and the can-do naiveté of two teenage pilots who didn’t know any better about the perils they faced.

Dodging thunderstorms and flying west through stiff turbulence, they camped at night on dusty grass airports, got red-necked by swarthy crop duster pilots in Arkansas, and fixed their plane on the run as parts broke or fell off.

“Flight of Passage” is also a timeless story of fathers and sons, as the Bucks had to separate from their difficult, quirky father, who was vicariously returning to his own barnstorming youth through his sons’ flight.

Since its publication in 1997, “Flight of Passage” has become a cult book among aviation enthusiasts and is considered a classic within the narrative non-fiction genre. The New Yorker called it “a funny, cocky gem of a book” and the Chicago Sun-Times described Buck’s narrative as “Huckleberry Finn meets the Spirit of St. Louis.”

Buck will read selected sections from the humorous parts of the book, including his youthful encounters with the national media and a confrontation with the U.S. Border Patrol just before he and his brother reached California.

Buck is a Bowdoin graduate and a former reporter and staff writer for Life, New York Magazine and The Hartford Courant. He has written four more books, including his “The Oregon Trail: An American Journey,” his account of an authentic crossing of the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon with another brother, Nicholas Buck of Newcastle, which will be published by Simon & Schuster this summer.

He is presently living in Maine to help his family care for his mother.

Buck’s reading is part of the museum’s Winter Lecture Series. The talk will take place inside the historic 1847 Boothbay Town Hall at the Boothbay Railway Village. A donation of $5 is suggested for admission. The Boothbay Railway Village is located at 586 Wiscasset Road, Route 27 in Boothbay.

Story, comments and photos:

In 1966, when Rinker Buck was 15 and his older brother Kernahan was 17, they rebuilt an old 90-horsepower Piper Cub in their New Jersey barn over the winter and that July flew it to California.

Socata TBM 700, N11YD: Incident occurred February 23, 2015 at Asheville Regional Airport (KAVL), North Carolina

Regis#: N11YD
Aircraft Make: SOCATA
Aircraft Model: TBM700
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
State: North Carolina
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Charlotte FSDO-68



 An aircraft that had an issue with landing gear temporarily blocked the runway at Asheville Regional Airport Monday evening, spokeswoman Tina Kinsey said.

The landing gear of the Socata TBM-700 was not functioning around 3:45 p.m. as it was landing, resulting in blockage for all departures or arrivals until about 5:15 p.m., Kinsey said.

"It was a little more than an hour the runway was closed while airport crew worked to clear the aircraft and reopen the runway," she said.

No injuries were reported.

BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. -- Flights are back on at Asheville Regional Airport after a plane's landing gear collapsed, blocking the runway.

The plane was sitting on the runway for nearly two hours delaying all incoming and outgoing flights until crews moved it.

There were no injuries reported.

Directorate General of Civil Aviation to revamp accident inquiry board ahead of International Civil Aviation Organization audit

New Delhi: India’s civil aviation regulator has decided to restructure its safety board and hire airline safety professionals ahead of an audit by the UN’s aviation watchdog ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization).

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) announced its intent, and advertised the positions on its website. 

ICAO told the Indian regulator recently that it would come down to India to conduct an audit, its third in just over a decade, Mint reported on 12 February. 

Previous ICAO audits had highlighted the paucity of safety inspectors in DGCA. 

After its 2006 and 2012 audits, ICAO had placed the country in its list of 13 worst-performing nations. 

US regulator Federal Aviation Administration followed ICAO’s 2012 audit with its own and downgraded India, effectively barring new flights to the US by Indian airlines. 

The FAA is expected to visit India in the summer to review its downgrade.

The result of the ICAO and FAA audits will have a bearing on the ability of existing Indian airlines to operate more flights to the US and some international destinations and on new airlines’ ability to start flights to these destinations. 

The regulator plans to hire three directors of safety on short-term contracts to be part of the accident investigation board, according to the information on DGCA’s website. 

This is first time the DGCA is hiring external staff for this board, which is critical to ascertain the reasoning for any crashes, misses or other safety related events in the country.

These officers, the DGCA said on its website, must have at least 12 years of experience in aviation, specifically on the technical aspects, and have a degree in aeronautical engineering. 

DGCA has been asked by international regulators to hire at least 75 flight inspectors.  It has only 51.

India’s private airlines offer better pay and perks to inspectors compared with DGCA. 

The aviation ministry told DGCA in January to speed up the recruitment and do whatever was necessary to get more inspectors on board, a government official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. 

DGCA has also announced it will hire flight operations inspectors as consultants on a short-term basis for a period of one year with a fixed remuneration of Rs.1.25 lakh per month.

“There will be a review after six months and subsequent continuation will be decided on the basis of outcome of the review,” DGCA said in its advertisement. 

The remuneration of Rs.1.25 lakh is higher than the salary of many existing DGCA officers. 

In its 2006 audit, ICAO said it found that “a number of final reports of accident and serious incident investigations carried out by the DGCA were not sent to the (member) states concerned or to ICAO when it was applicable”. 

DGCA had also “not established a voluntary incident reporting system to facilitate the collection of safety information that may not otherwise be captured by the state’s mandatory incident reporting system”. 

In response, DGCA “submitted a corrective action plan which was never implemented”, said Mohan Ranganthan, an aviation safety analyst and former member of government appointed safety council, said of DGCA. He added that the regulator will be caught out this time. Restructuring DGCA is the key to better air safety, said former director general of civil aviation M.R. Sivaraman.


European Union: Washington state’s Boeing tax breaks are illegal

McClatchy Foreign Staff
February 23, 2015 

GENEVA — The World Trade Organization on Monday agreed to set up a panel to examine European Union allegations that Washington state’s $8.7 billion in tax breaks to the Boeing Co. to manufacture its new 777X model there are prohibited subsidies under global trade rules.

The EU’s legal adviser, Mikko Huttunen, told WTO delegates that the Washington state incentives create “a massive disadvantage” to the European aircraft industry, diplomats who attended the session said.

The U.S. delegation did not block the establishment of the dispute panel but countered that the state tax incentives are “fully consistent” with U.S. obligations under the WTO accords, sources familiar with the closed-door proceedings said.

Charlie Miller, a Boeing spokesman, defended the tax breaks, saying they were not offered uniquely to Boeing.

“The tax measures the EU challenges today are not market-distorting subsidies,” he said. “They are available to all aerospace companies, including Airbus and its suppliers.”

He called the EU’s complaint an attempt to divert attention from Europe’s own massive subsidy for aircraft development for Airbus, which is based in France, and was founded by France, Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom. At issue is so-called “launch aid,” low-interest or no-interest loans for the development of an aircraft that don’t have to be repaid if the aircraft is not a commercial success.

“European governments have provided, and continue to provide, massive amounts of launch aid to Airbus for every airplane development program,” Miller said. “It is an effort to further delay EU compliance with the WTO’s 2011 ruling that launch aid is an illegal, market-distorting subsidy.”

The new dispute is the latest in a decade-long, multibillion-dollar fight between the world’s two biggest manufacturers of large civilian aircraft. The WTO ruled in 2010 and 2011 that both the United States and the EU had violated international trade agreements by providing their manufacturers billions of dollars in subsidies, and those rulings were upheld on appeal in 2011 and 2012.

But both sides are still engaged in the battle, awaiting a ruling expected this year by the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body on whether the U.S. and the EU have complied with the early findings.

Diplomats said that the EU’s Huttunen argued said that a 2013 decision by Washington state to extend until the end of 2040 “very significant” tax breaks for Boeing violated a 2012 WTO ruling that those incentives were illegal.

In its Feb. 13 complaint to the WTO, the EU claimed that Washington state violated the ruling by making the tax incentives contingent upon placing production of the wings and final assembly for any new commercial aircraft or variant in Washington state and maintaining all wing assembly and final assembly of such commercial aircraft exclusively in the state.

While Boeing assembles aircraft in Washington state, Airbus’ finally assembly location is outside Toulouse, France.

Boeing’s 777X is the latest variant of the aircraft company’s so-called “Triple 7” wide-body aircraft, which are described as the world’s largest twin-engine commercial airliner, capable of carrying as many as 400 passengers and traveling more than 9,000 miles. It is designed to compete with Airbus’ A350 aircraft, which can carry as many as 360 passengers.

The two aircraft manufacturers closely watch each others’ sales in an annual competition that Boeing won last year, when it sold nearly twice as many wide-body aircraft to airlines as Airbus.

Zarocostas is a McClatchy special correspondent.

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Coast Guard steps up search for missing sailor

Richard Byhre, 76, is overdue returning to Shelter Island on his sailboat, Princess.
 — Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

SAN DIEGO — A large, military transport plane will join the search Monday for a 76-year-old sailor who went missing after taking his boat out from Shelter Island about a week ago, a Coast Guard official said.

Richard Byhre left Palm Desert for his 28-foot boat, Princess, which is docked at the Southwestern Yacht Club on Feb. 10, his wife, Bonnie Byhre said. He planned to depart from the Shelter Island dock on Feb. 14 or 15, but he didn't detail where he'd be going or for how long. That fact alone didn't worry his wife, who said they have spent decades sailing together, including a trip around the world.

"He's very competent," the 69-year-old said. "When we sailed to Hawaii he said, 'If Columbus can do it then I can do it with a Timex watch.' I've never been concerned at all, but its been longer than usual."

She told her husband before he left that she'd be at the yacht club for a get together on Feb. 20. When she arrived, he hadn't returned. That's when she reported him missing to the Coast Guard and San Diego Harbor Police.

The Coast Guard searched local harbors and marinas that night. Since then, a 110-foot ship, helicopters and a C-130 have been asked to join the search, said Petty Officer Connie Terrell. A message is being broadcast to boats on the ocean "to keep a sharp lookout" for the missing vessel, Terrell said.

Byhre is worried her husband's health might have something to do with his absence — he is hard of hearing. She said if he used his high frequency radio to call for help at some point, he likely wouldn't be able to hear what was said.

"I'm trying to stay as positive as I can," she said. "The Coast Guard is doing everything they can, and I have faith that they will find the boat or him or something."

Richard Byhre is described as white, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 210 pounds. The Princess has a deep blue hull. Anyone with information can contact the Coast Guard Joint Harbor Operations Center at (619) 278-7057 or Harbor Police at (619) 686-6272.

Story and photos:

Richard Byhre's 28-foot sailboat, Princess.
— Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

Lawmaker with lavish office decor spent thousands on donors' private planes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock, a rising Republican star already facing an ethics inquiry, has spent taxpayer and campaign funds on flights aboard private planes owned by some of his key donors, The Associated Press has found. There also have been other expensive travel and entertainment charges, including for a massage company and music concerts.

The expenses highlight the relationships that lawmakers sometimes have with donors who fund their political ambitions, an unwelcome message for a congressman billed as a fresh face of the GOP. The AP identified at least one dozen flights worth more than $40,000 on donors' planes since mid-2011.

The AP tracked Schock's reliance on the aircraft partly through the congressman's penchant for uploading pictures and videos of himself to his Instagram account. The AP extracted location data associated with each image then correlated it with flight records showing airport stopovers and expenses later billed for air travel against Schock's office and campaign records.

Asked for comment, Schock responded in an email on Monday that he travels frequently throughout his Peoria-area district "to stay connected with my constituents" and also travels to raise money for his campaign committee and congressional colleagues.

He said he takes compliance with congressional funding rules seriously and has begun a review of his office's procedures "concerning this issue and others to determine whether they can be improved."

Donors who owned planes on which travel was paid for by Schock's House and political accounts did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment Monday.

Schock's high-flying lifestyle, combined with questions about expenses decorating his office after the TV show "Downton Abbey," add to awkward perceptions on top of allegations he illegally solicited donations in 2012.

The Office of Congressional Ethics said in a 2013 report that there was reason to believe Schock violated House rules by soliciting campaign contributions for a committee that backed Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., in a 2012 primary. The House Ethics Committee has said that query remains open.

"Haters are gonna hate," Schock, 33, told ABC News after the "Downton Abbey" story broke in The Washington Post, brushing off the controversy by invoking a line from one of pop singer Taylor Swift's songs.

Lawmakers can use office funds for private flights as long as payments cover their share of the costs. But most of the flights Schock covered with office funds occurred before the House changed its rules in January 2013. The earlier rules prohibited lawmakers from using those accounts to pay for flights on private aircraft, allowing payments only for federally licensed charter and commercial flights.

Schock's House account paid more than $24,000 directly to a Peoria aviation firm for eight flights provided by one of Schock's donor's planes in 2011 and 2012. While the aircraft flies as part of an Illinois charter service, the owner of the service told the AP on Monday that any payments made directly to the donor's aviation company would not have been for charter flights.

Beyond air travel, Schock spent thousands more on tickets for concerts, car mileage reimbursements — among the highest in Congress — and took his interns to a sold-out Katy Perry concert in Washington last June.

The donor planes include an Italian-made Piaggio twin-engine turboprop owned by Todd Green of Springfield, Illinois, who runs car dealerships in Schock's district with his brother, Jeff. Todd Green told a Springfield newspaper that Jeff — a pilot and campaign contributor — and Schock have been friends for a long time.

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Drone training offered at National Air Security Operations Center

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- One afternoon in early January, Max Raterman took a call for assistance as local law enforcement agencies were beginning to investigate a tragic, fatal train-school bus crash near Larimore, N.D.

"We happened to have a Predator up doing a training exercise," said Raterman, director of air  operations at the National Air Security Operations Center-Grand Forks, part of the U.S.Customs and Border Protection's Office of Air and Marine.

So, Raterman directed the crew to fly the unmanned aircraft to the scene to photograph the crash site from an altitude of 19,000 feet, the Federal Aviation Administration's designated airspace for that aircraft.

"I didn't hesitate," he said. "I thought we could leverage that to help the families, maybe help law enforcement investigate the accident, and maybe help the families bring some closure."

While equipment aboard the Predator flying at that height cannot provide vivid detail -- neither facial recognition nor vehicle license plate identification -- it provides aerial perspective for investigators.

Training and operations

The National Air Security Operations Center, located at Grand Forks Air Force Base, is the national training center for Customs and Border Protection.

It provides hands-on UAS experience for some 40 pilots annually, rotating through in smaller groups for eight-week classes.

"If you fly unmanned aircraft for CBP, you come here for training," Raterman said.

Customs and Border Protection's Office of Air and Marine has nine Predator drones, including two at Grand Forks Air Force Base. Besides Grand Forks, the drones are flown from: the U.S. Army's Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Ariz; Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas; and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Jacksonville, Fla.

Because the Predator is a satellite-controlled aircraft, it can be flown from any location in the country, as long as it has a ground control station with a satellite link to the system.

Besides being the main training site, Grand Forks is also an operational site, said Robert "Tex" Alles, Office of Air and Marine assistant commissioner, who visited Grand Forks this past week.

"So, they could be flying a mission on the southwest border this afternoon. They could be flying one in Texas tonight. They could be flying on the northern border tomorrow," he said.

"We have aircraft down in El Salvador. They could be flying an El Salvador mission right here out of Grand Forks and then go out into the minus-10-degree weather when it's 90 degrees in El Salvador."

Eyes in the sky

Customs and Border Protection, created after 9/11 as part of the new Department of Homeland Security, is a law enforcement agency with three main components: Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with about 21,000 employees; Border Patrol, with about 20,000 employees; and the Office of Air and Marine, with about 1,750, although the number now is down to about 1,600, including about 1,200 gun-carrying federal agents, according to Raterman.

Office of Air and Marine maintains operational control of Customs and Border Protection's aircraft and boats, although Border Patrol agents usually operate the boats on border waters, such as Lake of the Woods. The agency has FAA authority to fly within 100 miles of the nation's border.

"It's a CBP law enforcement organization, separate from the Border Patrol, separate from field operations. But because we're in the air and on the water, you're not really going to encounter us very much," Raterman said of the Office of Air and Marine.

"If I'm a pilot and I'm flying and you're looking to cross the border illegally, you're never going to see me, because I'm going to call the Border Patrol, and they're going to apprehend you. So, to a certain extent, we're kind of transparent to the average public."

Grand Forks center

When the Grand Forks operation center was established in 2009, it was divided into two sections, part of it stationed at the air base, the other at Grand Forks International Airport.

Besides the two unmanned Predator drones, the Grand Forks center also operates two Cessna 206 fixed-wing airplanes, and one AS-350 helicopter.

Although the fixed-wing aircraft are still housed at the airport, the operations were combined last fall under one command at the air base.

Today, Raterman oversees a crew of about 17, including 14 pilots -- all of them gun-carrying law enforcement officers or air interdiction agents, as they are technically called -- for the fixed-wing aircraft.

All unmanned aircraft pilots are fixed-wing pilots with at least 2,000 hours of flight time, plus the requisite UAS training.

The unmanned Predator, on the other hand, takes a team of a dozen to 15 people for each flight, including two pilots who operate the ground control station -- like an airplane cockpit with about a half dozen video screens, a computer keyboard and various controls.

"It's only unmanned in the sense that nobody's sitting in it," Raterman said.

Cooperation and outreach

The Larimore school bus crash is one of dozens of local law enforcement incidents in which the Customs and Border Protection has assisted in recent years.

The Predator has been used to help in flooding, perhaps to detect whether a bridge is in danger of being washed out, or a dam is being threatened. Sensors also can detect soil saturation levels, to give officials a sense of flood danger before flooding occurs.

Among the agency tools are hand-held devices that law enforcement officers on the ground can use to see the same images as the Predator sees from the air. They can help officers determine, for example, whether a meth lab is occupied as they make an approach.

"If the sheriff calls and requests our help, we'll say, what do you need. Then, we'll assess the situation, and what we might have available to assist," he said. "Maybe we'll send a fixed-wing aircraft to transport gear and a SWAT team six counties away."

Still, Raterman said, most people do not know about the agency's Office of Air and Marine.

So, he has started a public outreach program.

For example, he now attends weekly training sessions for new law enforcement officers conducted at the Grand Forks Public Safety Training Center, to explain the Customs and Border Protection's mission and to offer the Office of Air and Marine's assistance.

He also is clear about what its limitations are.

"We'll offer whatever we can," he said, adding that if the unmanned Predator had not been in the sky when the school bus crash call came in, he could not have justified the cost of placing it into service.

"We have to be accountable to the public," Raterman said. "The public owns all these assets and we really do believe that. It's not a flying club. We're a border security agency and we have to be responsible for what we do."

Story and photo:

Max Raterman, Director of Air Operations, Office of Air and Marine, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, oversees operations for unmanned and manned aircraft for Customs and Border Protection's Office of Air and Marine at GFAFB. Here he inspects one of two MQ9 Predator B UAS that the agency uses to patrol U.S. borders and to assist local law enforcement agencies.
Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Announces Investments in Six Airports to Upgrade Facilities, Improve Safety

Harrisburg – Acting PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards today announced that a $9.7 million state investment will improve safety and operations at six Pennsylvania airports.

“With aviation supporting thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania, it’s vital that we ensure airports in Pennsylvania can make safety and operational upgrades,” Secretary Richards said. “These projects are also investments in the communities these airports serve.”

The grants are distributed through the Aviation Transportation Assistance Program, which is a capital budget grant program funded with bonds. The grants leverage more than $8.3 million in local matching funds. Authorized by the General Assembly, the grants are administered by PennDOT’s Bureau of Aviation.

Allegheny County:

Allegheny County Airport -- $2.9 million to rehabilitate the severely deteriorated terminal public parking lot and sidewalks.

Bucks County:

Doylestown Airport -- $487,500 to acquire property within the airport’s runway protection to remove approach obstructions.

Quakertown Airport -- $180,000 to acquire property adjacent to the airport that is needed to remove obstructions to maintain a clear approach to the runway.

Lawrence County: 

New Castle Municipal Airport -- $100,000 to construct a hangar addition that will support growth at the airport.

Luzerne County: 

Hazleton Municipal Airport -- $300,000 to acquire two existing, privately owned hangars for new aircraft and equipment.

Lycoming County: 

Williamsport Regional Airport -- $5 million to construct a new airport terminal designed to improve access, airport security and safety, as well as $750,000 to relocate the airport fuel farm to allow for construction of the new airport terminal.

Original article can be found at:

New Mexico deserts offer realistic military training

Maintenance crews work on helicopters in a hangar at Kirtland Air Force Base. After missions in which landings generate clouds of dust, the engines have to be washed down.

Zipping through canyons at 200-plus mph and landing on mesa tops in a blinding blast of red dust somewhere near Socorro reminds the uninitiated just how insanely dedicated Air Force pilots must be.

But to those pilots and crew, it’s just another training day across a landscape that looks, feels – even smells – like the mountains in Afghanistan, where most of them flew in combat not long ago.

“We can’t afford to lose this training environment,” said Col. Dagvin “Dag” Anderson, commander of Kirtland Air Force Base’s 58th Special Operations Wing at the conclusion of a bone-chilling, stomach-churning day of training.

Sandwiched between days of sunshine and clear skies, the low clouds, cold temperatures and spotty rain on Feb. 11 barely fazed the pilots flying the two HH-60G Pave Hawks, the CV-22 Osprey and MC-130J Commando II involved in that day’s search-and-rescue exercises.

The Pave Hawks and Osprey were landing and taking off at LZ (Landing Zone) 19, situated about 45 miles northwest of Socorro, at an elevation of about 6,000 feet – the same elevation as Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul.

Capt. Nick D’Andrea, an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter instructor pilot, said training in New Mexico is invaluable for air crews because of the state’s many similarities to Afghanistan and other potential battlefields.

Training at high altitude is critical for pilots, he said.

“At higher altitudes, especially in hotter temperatures, there is less air for the rotor blades to catch, so they produce less lift. At the same time, there is less oxygen in the air, so the helicopter engines produce less power,” he said.

Another “attribute” of training in New Mexico, D’Andrea said, is dust – though it’s a two-edged sword.

Dust was in ample supply on training day. Each time a helicopter took off or landed, a swirling circle of dust enveloped the aircraft. When an Osprey did the same, the blast was exponentially greater, pushing up blinding walls of dust that enveloped the aircraft.

“We like to train in dust,” D’Andrea said, because it’s a fact of life for helicopter and Osprey crews, particularly in desert environments. But it’s also hard on the Osprey’s twin, 6,200 horsepower engines, he said, which adds to the costs of operating the aircraft.

The Osprey tilts its two 38-foot-diameter rotors from horizontal to vertical to combine the vertical flight capabilities of a helicopter with the speed and range of a turboprop airplane. It can carry up to 32 troops or 10,000 pounds of cargo.

To those onboard, the in-flight transition of the rotors is far from subtle. As the blades shift from vertical to horizontal for hovering or landing, it feels like someone slammed on the brakes. When the rotors move back to vertical, it feels like flooring a supercharged Corvette. That explains why everyone on board is tethered to a steel cable or floor hook.

About the only time an Osprey flies straight and level is during aerial refueling, which was demonstrated that day as the CV-22, piloted by Maj. Matt Shrull, took on 2,000 pounds of fuel from an MC-130J Commando II, flown by Maj. Timothy Paschke.

The day’s training involved the 58th’s 415th Special Operations Squadron, which trains special ops crews on the HC/MC-130s; the 512th Rescue Squadron, which does search and rescue with HH-60 Pave Hawks; and the 71st Special Operations Squadron, which trains CV-22 Osprey crews.

“High altitude, altitude density and the dust make this place more beneficial for (realistic) training than any other location” in the United States, D’Andrea said.

Anderson, the 58th’s commander, said when you combine those attributes with sunny skies conducive to flying about 300 days per year and close proximity to live-fire ranges at White Sands Missile Range and Melrose Range, it would be a daunting task to find a more ideal place to train.

“We train in realistic environments, so when we go out there to fight, we’re prepared,” he said.

The 58th Special Operations Wing

The 58th Special Operation Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base trains air crews on MC/HC-130 transport aircraft; HH-60G Pave Hawk and UH-1N Iroquois helicopters; and the tilt-rotor CV-22 Osprey, an airplane/helicopter hybrid. Its primary mission is training special operations and combat search-and-rescue crews.

The wing employs more than 1,800 personnel and trains about 2,000 students yearly who are enrolled in 113 training courses for 32 different crew positions. The wing is one of the largest units at Kirtland Air Force Base.

The 58th and its associated units have 12 HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, seven CV-22 Ospreys, six UH-1N helicopters and 13 MC/HC-130 transports.

The UH-1N Iroquois is a light-lift utility helicopter used for a variety of missions. It’s the modern version of the venerable UH-1 Huey helicopters first used widely in the Vietnam war. The Iroquois can carry up to 13 troops, has a maximum gross weight of 10,500 pounds and a top speed of about 149 mph.

The HH-60G Pave Hawk is a medium-lift helicopter primarily used in search-and-rescue missions. The Pave Hawk, a highly modified version of the Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk, can carry up to 13 troops and has a maximum gross weight of 22,000 pounds and a top speed of 184 mph. Pave Hawks were first deployed in 1982.

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Flashback: Bert Zimmerly reported missing; pilots poised for search at dawn

This story was published in the February 18, 1949, edition of the Lewiston Tribune.

An intense aerial search was organized early this morning for a Clarkston pilot believed forced down on the rolling Palouse prairie somewhere between Spokane and Clarkston.

Bert Zimmerly, veteran northwest flier and manager of Zimmerly Air Transport at Clarkston, was missing on a flight from Felts field at Spokane to the Asotin County airport in a yellow, single-engine Cessna Airmaster.

Zimmerly flying alone, left Felts field at 5:50 p.m. on a flight which would normally take about an hour. At 3 a.m. he was still unreported. His plane carried fuel for about five hours' flying time when he left Clarkston for Spokane at 1:30 p.m. and he reportedly did not refuel at Felts field for the return trip.

He was last heard from six minutes after take off from Spokane, when he radioed routine clearance from the field, asked for a Lewiston valley weather report and announced he was some 15 miles of Felts field.

Personnel at the Clarkston field spread a wide information net between the two cities last night. They alerted all sheriff's offices and state police, issued a radio appeal for information regarding the yellow airplane and asked telephone operators to call farmers throughout the Palouse area where Zimmerly may have been forced down.

Tom Cronson, of Lewiston, veteran air search coordinator in charge of the hunt, said 14 planes from Lewiston and Clarkston and three from McChord field, Wash., will criss-cross the Palouse hills in search of the downed aircraft.

Weather last night during the time Zimmerly should have been in the air was reported good from Spokane to Pullman but bad from Pullman to the top of the Lewiston hill. Harland Stewart, Empire Air Lines pilot and a former Zimmerly flyer, piloted an Empire DC-3 from Spokane to Lewiston about half and hour behind Zimmerly.

Stewart reported that a storm was blowing up from the southwest near Pullman at about 35 miles per hour with light icing conditions, but said there were holes in the clouds over Lewiston.

One individual called the Clarkston airport last night, reporting that he had heard a plane flying low near Pullman at about 6:30, evidently following the highway south. This was about the time Zimmerly should normally have arrived over that area.

Although he did not file a flight plan at Felts field, Zimmerly was presumed to have headed directly for Clarkston. He had dinner engagements with his wife early in the evening, and two men who saw yesterday afternoon at Spokane reported last night that he has planned to return home.

He had flown to Spokane on business.

Flight personnel at the Clarkston field doubted that the experienced pilot had been forced down by bad weather, and expressed the opinion that his plane had suffered mechanical trouble.

Flyers familiar with that airplane however, said it was apparently in perfect condition when it left Clarkston.

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Thomas Cook ready to sell its airline business

Thomas Cook, the world’s oldest travel group, is considering selling its airline business as it continues to recover from its near-collapse in 2011.

The company, which can trace its roots back to 1841 when Thomas Cook arranged for 500 people to travel between Leicester and Loughborough for a shilling, has reportedly sounded out potential buyers. These are believed to include rival carriers and private equity investors, although no talks are currently taking place.

The plans were first explored by the former chief executive Harriet Green, who left Thomas Cook last November. Her successor, Peter Fankhauser, is thought to be open to making the same move.

Thomas Cook found itself under a mountain of debt in 2011 but has since axed jobs and shut high-street shops. Its shares closed at 123p on Friday, compared to a low of 13p.  

“We are always open for opportunities, which might include partnering with other partners/airlines,” it said in a statement.

However, it added: “We are very pleased with the development of our airlines. We have refurbished the cabins of our long-haul fleet and added long-haul aircraft to our Condor fleet in Germany and the UK. We see our airlines as an important part of our business.”

Thomas Cook has 88 planes, making it the 11th largest airline operator in Europe, and has ordered 25 new Airbus A321s to replace older planes.

Earlier this month, the company said bookings from UK customers were ahead of last year, particularly on premium packages and holidays to the US. However, it admitted that  trading conditions in Europe remained tough.

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Air France flight diverts to UK so pilot can 'rest'

Passengers on a delayed Air France flight from New York to Paris were left stranded for 12 hours on Sunday when the pilot landed the plane in the UK - just an hour from the French capital - because he was obliged to take a rest.

When the A380 plane from to Paris finally took off from a freezing New York, passengers would have probably been thinking the worst of their problems were over.

The flight had already been delayed six hours due to heavy snow in the US.

However with the French capital just an hour or so away, the pilot announced that he was diverting the plane to Manchester because he had been at the controls for too long and was obliged, by the company's strict rules, to take a rest.

If he had carried on flying he would surpassed the allowed "quota of hours", which is strictly forbidden due to the risks.

The problem for passengers was that Air France had not organised for alternative planes or pilots to come and pick them and take them on to Paris. They were forced to wait in 12 hours in Manchester Airport before they were flown on to Paris.

"People are going crazy. We've been here since noon and we have three children with us. There are also unaccompanied minors who have been left by themselves without any supervision. These children are crying," one irate passenger told BFM TV.

For Air France the fact the pilot decided to divert the plane just an hour short of Paris was entirely normal as the legal rest periods must be respected "to within a few minutes," a spokesperson told BFM TV.

The company said the crew had initially hoped to make it to Paris but were unable to make up enough time crossing the Atlantic.

The company's spokesperson said not respecting the rest times would be the equivalent of "someone driving at 180km/h with two grams of alcohol in the blood."

Air France pilots normally work a maximum of 75 hours a month, but the rest times they are forced to respect depends on the flight time and the time difference between destinations.

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