Saturday, March 7, 2015

Incident occurred at Soda Lake, San Luis Obispo County, California

Cal Fire San Luis Obispo responded to a downed aircraft in the Soda Lake bed Saturday morning in the Carrizo Plain in eastern San Luis Obispo County. 

Fire officials said when they arrived on scene, the small aircraft was flipped over.

Some bystanders were walking around the aircraft which Cal Fire said was unoccupied.

Fire officials said the plane appears to have been down for more than a day.


Airport board approves building four new hangars: Rowan County (KRUQ), Salisbury, North Carolina

The Rowan County Airport Board on Friday approved construction of four new, medium-sized hangars at the facility at a cost of $1.07 million.

The vote to build the hangars was unanimous. Next, the proposal heads to the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, who will decide on how to fund the project. A loan is an option for construction. Another is using money from the county’s fund balance.

Much of the discussion on the proposal during Friday’s regularly scheduled meeting was about economics. One of the airport’s hangars houses helicopters for the North Carolina Highway Patrol. Airport director Thad Howell said the highway patrol is currently looking to relocate to another facility because of the difficulty required to get the helicopters in and out of the hangar.

“They are actively shopping other airports,” Howell said. “The hangar that they’re in now is in an alleyway and they have to tow their helicopter through the alley, sometimes there’s vehicles and small aircraft. They would like to relocate as part of a lease renewal.”

If county commissioners choose to approve construction of the hangars, a private plane owned by the Wallace and Graham law firm would occupy one of the hangars. The highway patrol would use another. The other two could be occupied by a private company that hasn’t yet signed a contract. Commissioner Craig Pierce, who serves as a liaison to the airport board, declined to say after the meeting whether the private company is related to an economic development matter at the airport that’s been discussed in closed session multiple times by commissioners.

The hangars would measure 62 feet by 65 feet, considered a medium-sized hangar, according to Howell. Pierce and airport board members said the medium sized hangars were preferred over T hangars, which are smaller.

“I’ve just seen too much growth out here that I think we’re missing the boat sometimes because we don’t have that intermediate hangar space,” he said. “It’s foolish to me to keep building small hangars. That essentially says we’re going to be a small airport.”

For construction on the hangars to happen, commissioners would first have to decide on a funding method. Pierce said obtaining loan proposals and a Local Government Commission approval would be the most likely option. Rent from leasing the hangars would pay for the cost of loan repayment, he said. Another option he mentioned was using money from the fund balance to pay construction costs.

Pierce said using money from the fund balance wouldn’t necessarily be a net financial negative for Rowan County, as a piece of property on Julian Road and another near the fairgrounds were recently sold.

In other business from the meeting:

• The board postponed action on deciding how or if Boss Aircraft Refinishers could build an office inside of the hangar it rents.

One of the things mentioned about the proposal during the meeting was that building interior offices would take up valuable space in the hangar that could be used for aircraft. Another was that the office would be an aesthetic project rather than serve a function for the hangar.

• The board elected a chairman and vice chairman.

Ronald Steelman was elected chairman of the board and Addison Davis was elected the vice chairman.

After the board voted, Steelman talked about ways to improve the airport’s operations. Among his ideas was trying to streamline the process for approving projects.

• Howell told the board it may have to consider options to make a signal beacon, which helps aircraft visually locate the airport, more visible.

Three options mentioned were increasing the beacon’s vertical height, relocating it and cutting down trees — some of which are on private property.

The board didn’t take any action on the beacon.

- Story and comments:

Rans S-12: Accident occurred March 07, 2015 near Cherokee County Airport (KJSO), Jacksonville, Texas | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas 

CHEROKEE COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -   Two East Texas men are recovering after their plane crashed Saturday afternoon near Cherokee County Airport.

The fixed wing single engine plane went down around 12:30 p.m. in a wooded area northwest of the airport runway near CR 1614 and CR 1621. Officers say that Robert Gatewood and Jake Wise were airlifted to ETMC Tyler for their injuries, one of which is in serious condition. 

A friend who was watching the men fly this afternoon says they just recently bought the lightweight plane.

"When I saw the plane go down, his son and I hopped in his truck and drove to the north end of the airport. We had to climb the fence because we couldn't get out. We knew the plane had gone down in the woods on the north end here. We both climbed the fence and started searching," Joe Parrish said.

It is not clear what caused the crash. Witnesses say the men were practicing touch-and-go landings when the crash happened.

CHEROKEE COUNTY, TEXAS (KETK) — Emergency crews are on the scene of a plane crash in Cherokee County. 
The aircraft with down around 12:30 just north of the Cherokee County Airport.

Officials say two men were in the plane. They have been flown from the scene to a nearby hospital. Their conditions are unknown at this time.


Two East Texas men are hospitalized after their plane crashed Saturday afternoon near Cherokee County Airport.

The fixed wing single engine plane went down around 12:30 p.m. in a wooded area northwest of the airport runway near CR 1614 and CR 1621. 

Officers say that Robert Gatewood and Jake Wise were airlifted to ETMC Tyler for their injuries, one of which is in serious condition. 

Story and photos:

Van's RV-6, N4074V: Fatal accident occurred March 07, 2015 in Pratt County, Kansas

NTSB Identification: CEN15FA163
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, March 07, 2015 in Pratt, KS
Aircraft: AHRENS GERD H RV 6, registration: N4074V
Injuries: 1 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 March 7, 2015, at an unknown time, an Ahrens RV-6 experimental amateur-built airplane, N4074V, was substantially damaged when it nosed over while landing at a private airstrip southeast of Pratt, Kansas. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed on the day of the accident. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant on board, was fatally injured. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. The cross country flight departed Lucas, Kansas, at an unknown time and was en route to Pratt, Kansas. 

According to a friend of the pilot, the pilot had departed about 0930 the morning of the accident and intended to fly to Lucas, Kansas. The wreckage of the airplane was initially spotted by an airplane flying over the private airstrip about 1530. The accident airplane was observed to be inverted on the east side of the runway. Law enforcement officers were notified and found the pilot deceased. There were no known witnesses to the accident.

Ground scars on the turf runway, which were consistent with the left and right main landing gear, were observed several hundred feet north of the approach end of the north/south runway. The ground scars trekked to the right and then off of the runway surface. The airplane came to rest inverted about 400 feet from the first documented touch-down-point. The canopy of the airplane was fragmented, the leading edge of both wings was impact-damaged, the firewall was wrinkled, and the vertical stabilizer tip was bent.


The crash of a single engine aircraft has claimed the life of a Pratt County man. 
Harrison Dale Rosenbaum, 86 of Pratt County, was attempting a north bound landing on a private runway in a pasture when it made contact with the ground, went off the east side of the runway and overturned in the pasture, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol crash log web site.

Rosenbaum was pronounced dead at the scene. He was not wearing a safety restraint at the time of the crash.

The accident occurred two miles south and about six and one half miles west of Pratt on SE 20th Street between 60th and 70th Avenues. The exact time of the crash is unknown but it was reported at 4:07 p.m. The aircraft was a 1995 RV-6.

Pratt County EMS, Sheriff’s officers, Pratt County Rescue and Kansas Highway Patrol responded to the accident.


Pratt County Sheriff's office said a plane crashed 2 miles south on SE 60th Ave, and 1/2 miles east on SE 20th Ave on a private air strip.

The pilot in the crash is identified as 85-year-old Harrison Dale Rosenbaum. He was flying an experimental 2-seater plane when he had a difficult landing causing the plane to flip over, killing him.

EMS pronounced Rosenbaum dead at the scene. He was the only one in the plane.

KHP says Rosenbaum had a commercial pilot license and flew often, his medical exam for his license was up to date.

A neighbor said she heard him take off and land but didn't hear a crash. People who knew Rosenbaum said he was a great man and an experienced flier.

Authorities are still investigating. We will bring you the latest as we receive more details.

Incident occurred March 07, 2015 at Elizabethton Municipal Airport (0A9), Tennessee

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn.-- A small plane crashed Saturday in Carter County, Tennessee.

According to Carter County emergency communications, the plane crashed at the end of the runway at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport. 

Several emergency units from the Elizabethton Police Department and Elizabethton Fire Department, were on scene Saturday afternoon.

The crash occurred Saturday about 11 a.m., according to witnesses.

The plane was in the process of landing and skid off the runway, they said.

The pilot, who was the only person on board, was not injured.

The pilot's name has not been released.

Agents from the Federal Aviation Administration were called to the scene to investigate.

Story and photos:

Watsonville Municipal Airport (KWVI) lands new restaurant

Tiffany Ella King (right) serves lunch at her restaurant, Ella's at the Airport, Thursday after opening Tuesday at Watsonville Municipal Airport.

WATSONVILLE — After being closed for nearly one year, Watsonville Municipal Airport’s new restaurant opened Tuesday, and has been packed with customers since.

Ella’s at the Airport is not merely a new restaurant. With major renovation inside and out and an original menu resplendent with “California fare,” it is no less than a reincarnation of a Watsonville establishment that has for years drawn locals and out-of-towners, many of whom fly in their planes to eat here.


Airline safety warning over tired Adelaide-bound pilots

Flight safety authorities have issued a warning to airlines after two sleep-deprived pilots took off from Sydney to Adelaide with wing flaps in the wrong setting that could have ended in a crash.

The pilots, both of whom were tired and didn’t sleep well the night before, realized their error in time and corrected the problem when the aircraft didn’t behave properly at 800ft.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has released its final report into the incident, describing human error, and warned airlines and pilots of the dangers of flying tired, and that having too many flaps deployed could have had “more serious consequences’’.

“Neither crew member judged themselves as unfit to discharge their duty at any time throughout their day; however, the high workload, delays and distractions they experienced appeared to augment the tiredness they felt,’’ the ATSB report states.

“Crews need to remain aware of the vigilance decrements that can occur when they detect tiredness within themselves during the final sector of a busy duty day.’’

The Jetstar A320 aircraft, which can carry up to 200 passengers, took off for Adelaide on the afternoon of July 28 last year, but at 800ft, the pilots realised they had set the wrong flap position, affecting crucial airspeed.

The setting had been correct for the prevailing wind conditions from one runway, but air traffic control changed the runway just before take-off and the pilots failed to change the flap configuration, slowing flight speed after take-off.

The ATSB referred to a safety bulletin issued by Airbus on the consequences of the pilot’s mistake, which found on the A320 such mistakes could result in the wrong take-off speed and: “a ... runway excursion, tail strike, lack of control once the aircraft is airborne, or obstacle clearance trespassing’’.

In response, Jetstar has already incorporated new safety measures into ongoing pilot training and has ordered a review of its safety audit program.

The captain of the flight had declared himself fit to fly despite being “tired”, having only an “average” night’s sleep when he signed on at 5.40am, recalling reduced alertness during the day and a high workload, the report found.

The flight officer was also “tired” when he reported for duty, the report found. “The flight officer reported feeling some effects from a busy previous few days.”

He was due to go on annual leave after the flight.


Mooney M20F Executive 21, N66BB: Accident occurred March 04, 2015 in Norfolk, Virginia

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA144
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, March 04, 2015 in Norfolk, VA
Aircraft: MOONEY M20F, registration: N66BB
Injuries: 3 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 March 4, 2015, about 0413 eastern standard time, a Mooney M20F, N66BB, was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain while conducting an instrument approach to Norfolk International Airport (ORF), Norfolk, Virginia. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Dark night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed and active for the flight, which originated from Palatka Municipal Airport (28J), Palatka, Florida, about 2357 on the preceding day. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the owner of the airplane, the pilot and two friends had borrowed the airplane and departed from its home base of Suffolk Executive Airport (SFQ), Suffolk, Virginia on February 25. The group flew to Key West International Airport (EYW), Key West, Florida, and on the evening of March 2, at 1916, the pilot contacted Flight Service in order to file two IFR flight plans for the return trip to SFQ. The first flight plan requested GPS direct routing from EYW to 28J, while the second requested GPS direct routing from 28J to the Brunswick, Georgia (SSI) very high frequency omni-range (VOR), then direct to SFQ. For that leg, the pilot declared an estimated time enroute of 3 hours and 30 minutes, with an estimated 5 hours of fuel onboard. The flight subsequently departed EYW about 2030 and arrived at 28J about 2240.

According to self-service fueling records, while at 28J the pilot purchased 31 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel at 2244. The flight subsequently departed 28J at 2357, enroute to SFQ. According to preliminary air traffic control (ATC) voice communication and radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, the pilot was cleared to execute the RNAV (GPS) RWY 22 instrument approach to SFQ at 0307. At 0324, the pilot contacted ATC and advised that he was executing a missed approach, and that he would like to divert to ORF. The controller subsequently provided the pilot with radar vectors, and at 0337, issued the pilot a clearance for the ILS RWY 23 instrument approach to ORF.

During the subsequent approach, ATC provided the pilot with several altitude and course corrections, and about 0349, canceled the previously-issued approach clearance. The pilot then advised ATC that he would like to attempt the approach a second time, and ATC provided radar vectors for the second approach attempt. When asked by ATC if he was experiencing any equipment problems the pilot stated, "It's literally a washing machine as soon as we go through the cloud deck, the cloud deck's at 1,200 feet, before that everything's very easy, but once we get to 1,200 feet it's a washing machine." At 0354, the pilot advised ATC, "Six six bravo bravo is actually experiencing moderate turbulence, there are things floating around the cabin…" About one minute later, ATC cleared the pilot for a second ILS approach to runway 23 at ORF.

After the approach clearance was issued, the pilot advised ATC, "we're having a lot of precession with our gyros, I don't know if the turbulence disrupted it, if at all possible radar vectors would be appreciated on the glide slope, it's a very very wild ride." When asked to clarify if he was requesting a no-gyro approach from the controller, the pilot stated that the instrument just needed to be periodically re-aligned during the descent and that some radar feedback would be adequate. Just prior to establishing the airplane on the final approach course, the pilot advised ATC that the airplane's indicated airspeed was 105 knots, while its GPS-derived groundspeed was 32 knots.

At 0403, while inbound to the final approach fix, ATC again offered the pilot standard-rate-turn, no-gyro radar vectors. The pilot accepted the offer and advised, "…we're having a real problem with precession." At 0405, the pilot advised ATC that the airplane had an estimated ½-hour of fuel onboard. The controller provided the pilot with radar vectors and updates on the current weather conditions as the airplane proceeded along the approach path. At 0413, the airplane was about 0.7 nautical miles north of the runway 23 threshold, at a reported altitude of 200 feet, and a ground track oriented toward the runway threshold. About that time, the pilot advised ATC that he had the airport in sight, and was subsequently cleared to land. No further radio transmissions were received from the pilot.

At 0413:21, the airplane began tracking westward, while remaining at an altitude of 200 feet. The airplane's final radar-derived position was recorded at 0413:40, at a reported altitude of 200 feet, on a track oriented roughly 245 degrees magnetic. That position was located about 2,800 feet northwest of the runway 23 threshold. ATC subsequently attempted to contact the pilot several times after radar contact was lost, to no avail, and then contacted first responders to begin coordinating an accident response.

The accident site was located about 2,300 feet northwest of the ORF runway 23 threshold. The initial impact point was identified as a tree with numerous branches broken from its top, at a height of about 80 feet. The tree was located about 20 feet from the shoreline of Lake Whitehurst. A wreckage path extended for about 260 feet, on a magnetic heading of 220 degrees. Broken tree branches, paint chips, and small pieces of metal were distributed along the wreckage path. The main wreckage came to rest inverted at the base of a tree, oriented roughly 210 degrees magnetic. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site, and the wreckage did not display any evidence of a pre or post-impact fire. The outboard three feet of both wings were separated from the airplane, and were found adjacent to the main wreckage. The left wing displayed a concave depression of its leading edge, outboard of the landing gear, oriented perpendicular to the spar, about 16 inches in diameter. The left fuel tank was ruptured and absent of fuel, and a trace amount of fuel remained in the right fuel tank. The landing gear were extended while the flaps were retracted. Control continuity was traced though separations consistent with overload from the cockpit controls to each of the flight control surfaces. The State of Virginia, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reported that both front seat occupants were restrained with lap belts. No shoulder restraints were installed. The emergency locator transmitter remained secured to its mount and was found in the armed position about 36 hours after the accident.

Both of the propeller blades displayed aft tip curling and s-bending. One of the blades exhibited chord-wise scratching and its tip was torn away. A significant quantity of freshly-cut pine needles and tree branches less than 4 inches in length were found inside the engine cowling on top of the engine. Continuity of the power and valvetrain were confirmed through rotation of the propeller by hand, and thumb-compression was observed on all cylinders. The spark plug electrodes exhibited normal wear and were dark gray to black in color. A trace amount of liquid consistent in color and odor with 100LL aviation fuel was found within the flow divider and fuel servo inlet screen, with no significant debris or other contamination noted. The oil inlet screen and fuel filter element were absent of metallic debris, with no other significant contamination noted.

A handheld GPS receiver, an instrument panel-mounted engine analyzer, an engine-driven vacuum pump, as well as the heading and attitude indicators were retained by NTSB for further examination.

The weather conditions reported at ORF at 0420 included winds from 230 degrees magnetic at 20 knots, gusting to 27 knots, 2 1/2 statute miles visibility in mist, an overcast ceiling at 200 feet, a temperature of 8 degrees C, a dew point of 7 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.92 inches of mercury.

Norfolk, Va. – For the first time since a small plane crashed in Norfolk Botanical Garden, the facility fully opened to visitors with the director saying the day was one to reflect and heal.

“Hug your families tonight, call your loved ones and be kind to a stranger,” garden president Michael P. Desplaines said in a statement. “Life is indeed too short.”

At the same time, the family of Dr. Michael Buxton, the pilot killed while trying to land a Mooney M20 at the fog-shrouded Norfolk airport, planned Sunday as the day to honor what they recalled in an obituary as his “adventurous spirit. ” 

The wreckage has been removed from the garden, leaving only a few paint chips and scarred trees as reminders of what happened Wednesday. 

For reasons no one yet knows, Buxton veered the plane to the right just as he was nearing touchdown at the airport. 

The crash killed him and two of his longtime friends.

Audio tapes from show Buxton was having trouble with his heading indicator. 

An air-traffic controller had to give him left-turn, right-turn directions to get him to the airport. 

On his final approach, Buxton was a mile from the runway and landing with clouds hanging just 200 feet above the runway.

 The controller never heard from him again.

NTSB investigators will release a preliminary report in the coming weeks, and a full report on the crash in about one year.

Story and video:

California man sentenced to probation in airplane groping case

SALT LAKE CITY — A California man accused of groping and sexually propositioning a teenage girl on a flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City was sentenced to three years of probation Friday.

Hans Loudermilk of Oceanside, California, apologized for touching the 15-year-old girl's chin and rubbing her leg on the March 2014 flight. He said he was in the beginning stages of bipolar disorder at the time, and has since been treated.

Loudermilk pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor offensive touching charge in December in a deal with federal prosecutors, who dropped two felony counts of sexual abuse on an aircraft in exchange. He faced up to six years in prison Friday.

Prosecutor Alicia Cook asked the judge to sentence him to five years of probation, saying the incident was serious and traumatizing for the victim but probation would be better than prison at preventing something like it from happening again.

U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell said the victim was vulnerable when she was seated next to him on the plane. Campbell said bipolar disorder is tough to overcome, and he's lucky his wife of 26 years, who appeared in court Friday, was sticking by him.

"That's very good. Many would not," she said.

"It's taken a lot of work," he replied.

Campbell also ordered him to serve 100 hours of community service in lieu of a fine. He will serve his sentence in California.

Prosecutors said the 66-year-old Loudermilk told her he could teach her things sexually that boys her age could not and said she was old enough to marry him in Utah.

The girl reported the incident to security shortly after the plane landed. When Loudermilk saw her talking to officers, he entered an airport gift shop, removed his button-up shirt and replaced it with a jacket, possibly to duck police, prosecutors said.

Defense attorney Robert Steele said his client had lost a son in 2005, and his illness had been coming on slowly for years. At the time of the groping, he'd also been drinking and taking the painkiller Vicodin and didn't understand the world around him.

"He is now in treatment and in recovery and he knows he needs to take responsibility for his health," he said.

Story and photo:

This image provided by the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office shows Hans Loudermilk. Loudermilk, a California man accused of groping and sexually propositioning a teenage girl on a flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge. Loudermilk was sentenced to three years of probation Friday. 
 Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, File, Associated Press

Funk B85C, N81194: Accident occurred March 06, 2015 in in Leonard, Oklahoma

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Final Report:

National Transportation Safety Board   - Docket And Docket Items:

National Transportation Safety Board  -  Aviation Accident Data Summary:

NTSB Identification: CEN15CA166
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, March 06, 2015 in Leonard, OK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/08/2015
Aircraft: FUNK B85C, registration: N81194
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that he was flying about 700 feet above the ground in cruise flight when he felt the control stick "pop" and the nose of the airplane pitch down. The pilot pulled back the throttle and turned off the magnetos. The passenger adjusted the elevator trim; however, the pitch attitude did not change. The pilot then entered a side slip which brought the nose up to level. He straightened the nose of the airplane just prior to it impacting the terrain. The airplane subsequently flipped inverted resulting in substantial damage to the wings and fuselage. 

A postaccident examination of the airplane revealed the UP elevator turnbuckle became detached at the elevator torque tube. The turnbuckle was not safety wired. New cables were installed in the airplane in 2007 and the turnbuckle most likely loosened over time.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The improper installation of the UP elevator cable turnbuckle which became disconnected during the flight.

A postaccident examination of the airplane revealed the UP elevator turnbuckle became detached at the elevator torque tube. The turnbuckle was not safety wired. New cables were installed in the airplane in 2007.

BIXBY, Okla. - Authorities confirm a homemade single-engine aircraft crashed in Tulsa County Friday afternoon.

According to Oklahoma Highway Patrol, only two people were on board the aircraft when it began having mechanical difficulties. The plane's rear elevator cable broke causing the it to crash; flipping over in a field. 

OHP confirmed the plane crashed just north of Leonard near 161st Street South. 

No injuries were reported. 

Story, video and photo gallery:

Bixby, OK -  A small plane crashed in a field in Bixby Friday afternoon but the pilot and his passenger were able to walk away without any injuries.
The plane was mostly still intact after the crash landing  near 161st Street South and 151st East Avenue.

“It’s an antique aircraft. It’s one that’s been in the family for a long time,” said Scott Rabbit.

Rabbit said the plane has been in his family for more than 40 years and that his 19-year-old grandson, Alexander Rabbit, was flying it when he made the emergency landing.

Alexander Rabbit is a licensed pilot who was flying a friend who is also a flight instructor. Officials said that ground conditions and the pilot’s skill is what kept them safe in the landing.

“He did a great job getting it on the ground. They say that if you can walk from it, it’s a good landing,” said Scott Rabbit.

The cause of the emergency landing is under investigation. 

Story, video and photo:

Incident occurred March 06, 2015 at Rio Vista Municipal Airport (O88), California

Emergency responders were sent to Rio Vista Municipal Airport in response to a rough landing by a small plane Friday afternoon.

The plane experienced trouble on landing and ended up on its side, according to Rio Vista police Sgt. Julie Gorwood.

She said the pilot and his passenger from Santa Rosa were going to Rio Vista for lunch when the pilot said a gust of wind or something tipped the plane as he landed.

Gorwood said the pilot and passenger were not injured.

The first report of the plane trouble was made at 12:15 p.m.

Story and photo:

Igor Sikorsky's Dream Took Flight With The Helicopter

On Feb. 24, 1972, the Andraus Building in Sao Paulo caught fire.Some of the people trapped inside threw themselves out of the windows to escape the flames.

Others rushed to the roof, where a swarm of Sikorsky helicopters plucked over 300 people from the burning building.

Sixteen people died in the blaze, but the death toll could've been much higher.

"I always believed that the helicopter would be an outstanding vehicle for the greatest variety of life-saving missions, and now, near the close of my life, I have the satisfaction of knowing that this proved to be true," Igor Sikorsky, the father of the helicopter, said in his last known letter, dictated Oct. 25, 1972, eight months after the chopper rescue and the day before he died.

He could take pleasure in knowing he was a trailblazer in aviation, building large multiengine aircraft, transoceanic flying boats and — crucially — helicopters, after dreaming of a flying machine as a kid.
Sikorsky was born in 1889 in Kiev, a city in present-day Ukraine that was part of Imperial Russia.

He grew up in a household that valued learning, as his father was a psychology professor and his mother was a medical school graduate.

"I was always interested in flying — I dreamed about it even when I was a small boy," Sikorsky said, according to documents found by the Sikorsky Archives in Stratford, Conn. "However, at that time flying was considered completely impossible. The very expression of 'He was building a flying machine' was considered equivalent to saying that the man was crazy."

Doing What's Wright

Sikorsky began his studies at the Naval Academy in St. Petersburg.

But after hearing about the Wright brothers' stunning, powered plane flight of 1903 in Kitty Hawk, N.C., Sikorsky was hooked on aviation. He made a beeline to Paris, studied aeronautics and took his knowledge back to Russia.

Sikorsky built his first helicopter in 1909, but it couldn't lift itself.

His model the next year achieved lift, but couldn't withstand the weight of a pilot.

"He was ahead of his time; the technology just wasn't there," said Vinny Devine, who joined Sikorsky Archives after 26 years of managing publications and writing tech copy at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., which is also in Stratford.

So Sikorsky shelved his helicopter idea and turned his focus to fixed-wing aircraft. He proved good at it, building the world's first four-engine plane by 1913.

"I will admit that a great deal of the design of these early aircraft were based on pure guesswork," Sikorsky said.

During the Russian Revolution of 1917, with many of the people in his monarchist family and associates being executed by the Bolsheviks, Sikorsky fled to England, then France.

By 1919 he was in America, with aeronautical plans renewed.

"In America I found the confirmation of my hopes and came to understand the reason for the success of this country," he said. "Nothing can equal free work of free men. This is the foundation upon which the indisputable success of the United States has been built."

The sky was truly the limit for Sikorsky. And he wasted hardly any time aiming high.

He formed Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corp. in 1923 on Long Island. Three years later it built the S-35, a two-engine transport plane that was revamped with three engines for the first nonstop flight to Paris. This came amid an effort to win the Orteig Prize, which would go to whomever made the first trans-Atlantic flight.

But the S-35 was overloaded and crashed and burned during takeoff. One of the mechanics, a Sikorsky friend, was on the plane and died.

The tragedy didn't deter Sikorsky. He immediately went back to building a replacement jet, but Charles Lindbergh beat him to Paris and to the prize when his single-engine Spirit of St. Louis landed in Paris on May 21, 1927.

With aviation in its infancy during those days of the early 20th century, injury and death threatened pilots and crew each time they took flight. Sikorsky, who also piloted his planes, handled the danger through his faith in God, even writing two books on religion: "The Message of the Lord's Prayer" and "The Invisible Encounter."

He said: "In improving the situation, science and human intellect are capable of performing miraculous work, provided only that they are guided and directed by the intellect of the higher order — spiritual wisdom. Without such guidance, science and intellect are absolutely blind and completely unreliable."

Losing out to Lindbergh for the Orteig Prize wasn't going to deter Sikorsky, whose planes were on the rise. He had already built the S-29-A twin-engine plane in 1924.

Then in 1928 he completed the S-38, which could also land on water and was used by Pan Am in Central and South America.
Still, his company struggled financially. "He was an inventor and genius and wasn't great on the financial side of things," Devine said. "Business wasn't his strong suit."

Playing To His Strengths

In 1925, the company name changed to Sikorsky Manufacturing Co. and transferred administrative duties to Massachusetts businessman Arnold Dickinson, who invested $100,000. This let Sikorsky focus on building planes rather than running the business.

Four years later, the firm became part of United Aircraft & Transport, now called United Technologies (NYSE:UTX), and moved to Connecticut.

United Tech has since soared, reaching today's market cap of $108 billion and annual sales of $65 billion while seeing its stock triple since 2009. The conglomerate also owns Pratt & Whitney, which designs jet engines, and Otis Elevator.

While Sikorsky became a U.S. citizen, he remembered his Russian roots. He was loyal to fellow immigrants who helped found Sikorsky Aero Engineering, and when United Tech implemented budget cuts, he made sure his employees were spared, according to Devine.
Aviation was improving rapidly in the 1930s, flying farther with more passengers, and finally, in 1939, Sikorsky returned to his dream of building a helicopter.

"The helicopter approaches closer than any other (vehicle) to fulfillment of mankind's ancient dream of the flying horse and the magic carpet," he said.

Sikorsky changed the design of the VS-300 helicopter each day. The first tethered flight came in September 1939, with the first try without a lifeline eight months later. Finally, in May 1941, he hit on a configuration that worked well enough to produce. No one had ever flown a helicopter, and Sikorsky was his own test pilot.

His perseverance was crucial in getting the helicopter off the ground, said Devine: "He had an inventive mind, and if something didn't work he would think of another worth trying. Eventually he would get to something that worked."

All the while, Sikorsky noted that he wasn't alone in achieving his dream: "The whole art of aeronautics, all of man's accumulated experience in mechanical flight, has contributed to the development of direct-lift operation."

In 1943, the R-4 rolled out of the United Aircraft & Transport factory in Stratford, Conn., and became the first helicopter for the military. By April 1944, it was in the thick of World War II, hovering into a combat rescue mission in Burma.

Sikorsky continued to improve his designs, creating an amphibious helicopter that could take off and land in the water and a helicopter that could carry a jeep.

He kept an engineering notebook by his bedside and was on the job 24 hours a day. Even after he retired in 1957, he went to the office until the day he died, Devine says.

Sikorsky lived until age 83, and his legacy lives on at United Tech. The company kept the Sikorsky name for the helicopter unit after buying his company. "Sikorsky is unique in that our founder's innovative spirit, persistence and humility continue to inspire everyone who works at the company today, more than 90 years since its founding," said Mark Miller, vice president of research and engineering at Sikorsky Aircraft. "He created a mindset that continues to drive the company today — rethink, challenge and overcome what the world considers impossible."

Today, the U.S. military accounts for half of Sikorsky helicopter sales. Civilian medical and search and rescue teams also use the old Russian's helicopters to save lives around the world.

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Eurocopter EC 130B4, ARCH Air Medical Services - Air Methods: Fatal accident occurred March 06, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri

The pilot of a medical helicopter was killed late Friday in a crash near St. Louis University Hospital, a spokesman for the St. Louis Fire Department said. 

The pilot, identified Saturday afternoon as Ronald Scott Rector, 52, of Linn, Mo., was the only person aboard the helicopter. The helicopter was bound for the hospital to pick up a crew when it went down about 11:13 p.m. near Spring Avenue and Rutger Street, just west of the hospital, fire Capt. Garon Mosby said.

Mosby said the cause of the crash had not been determined. Federal Aviation Administration investigators were at the scene Saturday morning, and National Transportation Safety Board investigators were on the way. The NTSB is the lead agency on the investigation that will continue for several months.

The helicopter had just left the ARCH Air Medical Service base at 2207 Scott Avenue, near Highway 40 (Interstate 64) and Jefferson Avenue. In an emailed statement, ARCH's parent company, Englewood, Colo.-based Air Methods, said the helicopter was an EC-130.

"We are deeply saddened by the news that our sole occupant, our pilot, was fatally injured, and our hearts go out to the pilot’s family," the statement said. "The FAA and the NTSB have our full cooperation as they investigate the accident."

In operation since 1979, ARCH Air Medical Service provides critical care transportation from accident scenes and from hospitals and other medical institutions in Missouri and Illinois. Air Methods operates more than 450 aircraft nationwide in 48 states, including 363 helicopters through its air medical services division.

Rector joined ARCH's operations in Warrenton, Mo., in October 2013, according to a LinkedIn profile online, and was previously a pilot for Blue Hawaiian Helicopters in Hawaii and a U.S. Army pilot and instructor. His military experience included serving as a director at the Consolidated Personnel Recovery Center in Kabul, Afghanistan. 

Funeral arrangements at Morton Chapel in Linn are pending. The town is about 90 miles west of St. Louis along U.S. Route 50.

Witnesses said they saw the helicopter and then heard what sounded like an explosion.

Willie Thomas, 57, of Jennings, said he was sitting in his truck with his son outside the hospital waiting for his daughter, who was inside getting X-rays.

Just before the crash, Thomas said he and his son saw a helicopter flying low with a light shining down on them and on the hospital. Then it dropped. He thought it had landed until he saw people running toward the crash site.

Barbara Grady lives in the 3600 block of Hickory and said she often watches from her porch as medical helicopters come and go. On Friday she was in bed when she heard a loud boom. When she looked out her front door, she feared a bomb had gone off.

"I saw lots of fire and lots of smoke," said Grady, 65. "I was just praying. I didn't know (what happened.)"

Her son Kenneth Grady, 48, said he heard what sounded like a truck dropping a large trash container and saw a fire with flames reaching as high as the top of a light pole.

"It rocked the neighborhood," Grady said.

His mother called 911 while he went across the street to see if he could help. He said it was difficult to tell what had happened and he didn't immediately recognize the flattened wreckage as the remains of a helicopter. The remnants of the aircraft didn't even reach as high as his knee. Someone from the hospital told him it was a helicopter crash.

Authorities were still investigating Saturday morning and had an area around the crash site blocked off. The hospital remained open. Dialysis patients needing access to Drummond Hall, at 3691 Rutger Street, can enter by going south on Spring Avenue from Chouteau Avenue.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the pilot," said SLU Hospital spokeswoman Laura Keller in an emailed statement.


ST. LOUIS – (KTRS) The pilot of a medical helicopter is dead following a fiery crash Friday night near the helipad of St. Louis University Hospital, a fire department spokesman said.

Shortly after 11 p.m., authorities said the pilot of a helicopter from ARCH Air Medical Services was heading back to the hospital to pick up his crew following an earlier call. Fire Capt. Garon Mosby said after dropping the patient and crew off at SLU Hospital the pilot returned to ARCH headquarters a couple of miles away. On his way back to SLU, the helicopter crashed.

The crash site is located on a parking lot less than 200 yards from the hospital’s helipad, which is located on the roof of the hospital. Crash Distance DISTANCE

Mosby confirmed that no one on the ground was injured, but there was damage to parked vehicles as well as portions of a hospital building.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s bomb and arson unit in charge of the scene until investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived.

No other information was immediately available.

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One person is dead after an ARCH Air Medical helicopter crashed in St. Louis late Friday night.

The St. Louis Fire Department said the helicopter crashed shortly after takeoff from the ARCH base just east of Jefferson and Interstate 64/40. The helicopter crashed shortly after 11 p.m. in the parking lot of Tenet Care, a healthcare service company, on Vista Avenue.

The helicopter struck an unoccupied pickup truck as it crash landed.

The fire department said the pilot was the only one on board and was on his way to pickup a crew. The pilot has not been identified.

"What we know is the helicopter had previously dropped off its crew and patient, and had departed and went to ARCH base, and was on approach back to SLU hospital to pick up [the pilot's] crew," said STLFD Captain Garon Mosby.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze. The St. Louis Police Bomb and Arson Unit is now in charge of the investigation. Mosby also expected the FAA to arrive sometime Saturday morning.

Matthew Viola works in a building nearby, and said he and his employees heard a loud bang when the helicopter crashed.

"I mean, it was loud. It shook our building and it's about 500 feet away," he said. "I had gathered up my crew and we all went to our back door of our building which looks out on this Tenet lot and we [saw] large amounts of fire and lots of flames and stuff."

Viola said he has worked in the area for about 1.5 years, and was completely surprised by what he saw.

"I see helicopters flying through here constantly," he said. "And I've never seen anything like that at all. They come in pretty wicked but nothing like that."

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Malaysia to Spend $190 Million to Improve Civilian Radars: Transport minister announces plan ahead of anniversary of disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

The Wall Street Journal
By Jason Ng And Gaurav Raghuvanshi

Updated March 7, 2015 5:19 a.m. ET

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—Malaysia plans to upgrade its civilian radars and is improving in-flight tracking, the transport minister said Saturday, learning from the so-far fruitless search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 a year after it disappeared.

Liow Tiong Lai said that Malaysia is committed to continuing the search for the Boeing Co. 777-200 jet, and that he remains “cautiously optimistic” that the continuing search of a 60,000-square-kilometer area in the southern Indian Ocean will find the plane. The current search effort, led by Dutch oil-and-gas company Fugro NV, is expected to end in May.

“By the end of May, if we still cannot find the plane, then we will have to go back to the drawing board,” Mr. Liow said in an interview with selected news organizations Saturday. Malaysia “will be guided” by the opinion of a panel of experts from the aviation agencies of the U.S., the U.K. and China, among others, as well as Boeing and the International Civil Aviation Organization, he said.

The missing flight took off from Kuala Lumpur shortly after midnight on March 8, 2014, en route to Beijing. About an hour after takeoff, the plane veered sharply off its flight path and disappeared from radar. For several hours, the jet continued to transmit digital information to a satellite—leaving a trail of data that investigators mined to help identify a likely crash site in the deep waters of the southern Indian Ocean, far off the southwestern coast of Australia.

A year later, no physical trace of the plane has been found. Families of the 239 passengers and crew on Flight 370 are demanding answers on what happened to their loved ones. Fugro’s search has identified 10 potential objects so far, which will be analyzed to determine if they are from the missing plane.

A one-year report—required by the ICAO—on the inquiry into the incident is due Sunday. However, as the plane remains missing, with no wreckage or flight recorders, also known as black boxes, found to help piece together what happened, the report won't be considered final.

The minister didn’t give details about any proposals Malaysia would take to a meeting next month with Australia, which has conducted the bulk of the search, and China, which had the most passengers on board and has kept the pressure on to continue the search. Scaling back the mission would be taken as a sign by the families that officials are starting to give up, even if the search isn't ended outright.

“Only when we discover what happened, will we be in a position to make sure it can never happen again,” said Greg Waldron, the Asia managing editor of industry publication Flightglobal.

Malaysia is in contact with China to provide assets for the search, Mr. Liow said, but declined to comment on any demand for Chinese help to fund the search. Zha Daojiong, a professor at Peking University, said he doubts Beijing would put up any money, in part because it would set a precedent that nations with victims from another country’s airline have to pay to find them. The 120 million Australian dollars (US$92.6 million) in costs so far have been borne by Malaysia and Australia.

Malaysia plans to invite tenders for a planned 700 million ringgit (US$190 million) upgrade of its civilian radar systems and is improving the coordination between civilian and military agencies, Mr. Liow said.

While the minister was cautious, and said that the radar upgrades were a continuing exercise as air traffic grows, the disappearance of Flight 370 did expose weaknesses in radar systems and systems to track airliners in flight.

Mr. Liow said that the Malaysian flag carrier, which has been making losses for more than three years and has been delisted from the Malaysian stock exchange, has already started tracking its planes more closely. Data from the airline’s Boeing 777 jets is now downloaded every 15 minutes instead of 30 minutes previously. For some other aircraft, the tracking is more frequent, and Malaysia is participating in an international effort to set new standards for in-flight tracking that are likely to be announced by August, he said.

“Radar upgrades and tracking are all good and well, but we still don’t know what happened,’’ said Mr. Waldron. “So, these measures may or may not prevent the reoccurrence of what is in any case an extremely rare event.”

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