Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Augusta Regional Airport (KAGS) doubles parking for aircraft during Masters

Private jets flying into Augusta for the week of the Masters Tournament must follow a different system for landing and parking aircraft after an effort in recent years requiring reservations failed to alleviate parking problems.

Augusta Regional Airport doubled its aircraft parking capacity this year by using two taxiways as parking areas, said Ken Hinkle, the airport’s director of aviation services. About 200 aircraft, depending on the sizes and wingspans, will be able to park at the airport at one time, he said.

“We are going to open up every bit of real estate we possibly can instead of turning customers away,” Hinkle said.

Pilots will not be required to make reservations for landing times or parking spots as they were in 2013 and 2014, Hinkle said. Aircraft will be parked on a first-come, first-served basis.

Customers – often wealthy corporate executives and businessmen – parked their planes longer than the time they had reserved a spot, and the airport had no method to force them to move, Hinkle said. That caused a backlog when other aircraft arrived for their still-occupied parking spots.

“We couldn’t police how long people stayed,” Hinkle said.

The change requiring landing slot times and parking reservations was made for Masters Week 2013 in an effort to disperse private aircraft to nearby general aviation airports and alleviate parking shortages at Augusta Regional. When parking areas filled, air traffic control was forced to redirect flights to other landing sites, causing customers to be at different airports than their ground transportation or catering services.

The plan was a collaboration between Daniel Field, Thomson-McDuffie Regional and Aiken Municipal airports. This year, the four airports are still combining efforts to serve the large demand during the area’s busiest week of the year.

Hinkle said pilots are encouraged to use all the airports but customers prefer Augusta Regional, so it is trying to accommodate the demand.

“Every year, we want to improve the service. Augusta Regional is the preferred destination,” he said.

Augusta Regional predicts about 3,000 landings and takeoffs for private aircraft during Masters Week, up from 2,034 last year, Hinkle said. The airport will use a portion of its taxiway for “drop and go” parking so passengers can get to the golf tournament even if long-term parking isn’t available, he said.

Daniel Field does not expect its operations to be affected by the changes, said Becky Shealy, vice president of business development for Augusta Aviation, the operator of Daniel Field. The general aviation airport can park about 100 planes at one time, she said.

The airport’s runway can only handle small planes because of its length, Shealy said. Larger planes must use Augusta Regional, Thomson-McDuffie or Aiken airports.

Without landing reservations, Shealy said aircraft destined for Augusta might have delayed departures and be forced to slow down or circle before landing.

“It’ll be interesting to see how this year pans out with no slot (landing) reservations,” she said.

Hinkle said Augusta Regional has changed its system multiple times in recent years because the airport is trying to figure out the most effective method for handling the special event. Other major sporting events are held in cities with large metropolitan airports, he said.

“We’re unique because we’re like seven Super Bowls on seven days. We’re trying to manage a fluid operation for seven days,” he said.

Story and comments:  http://beta.mirror.augusta.com

Piper PA-32RT-300T Turbo Lance II, C-GDWA: Fatal accident occurred March 17, 2015 in French River Provincial Park, Canada

Vilma Gumpal

Ontario Provincial Police have identified the third victim of a March 17 airplane crash as Vilma Gumpal, 42, of Sudbury. 

Gumpal died after a Piper aircraft being flown by Sudbury lawyer Leo Arseneau crashed in rugged terrain in French River Provincial Park, near the mouth of the French and Pickerel rivers.

Arseneau, 64, and his wife Mary Lou, 65, also died in the accident. Their names were released last week and a funeral service was held for the couple this morning (Thursday) at Glad Tidings Church.

The OPP didn't release Gumpal's name until after what they are calling an additional post-mortem.

Sources say Gumpal was a caretaker to Mary Lou Arseneau, who was in a wheelchair because of a debiliating disease.

The three were on their way to Florida, via North Carolina, when Arseneau reported the plane was in distress about an hour after they left Sudbury.

The Piper aircraft that crashed south of Sudbury and killed three people March 17 broke apart in mid-air, says the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

The six-seater plane, which was manufactured in 1979 and imported to Canada in 2006, was about 70 kilometres south of Sudbury when the pilot, Leo Arseneau, 64, called air traffic control to say he had to turn the plane back to land in Sudbury.

Air traffic control gave him the go-ahead, and cleared for him to descend to 5,000 feet.

When they asked if there was anything else they could do to help, they never heard a response, said Don Enns, regional manager of the Transportation Safety Board's Toronto office.

“On radar, the airplane appears to suddenly start to descend extremely rapidly,” Enns said.

Investigators do not yet know what forced Arseneau to change his course, and eventually tore the plane apart.

They do know the plane broke apart while still in the air, though, because the debris was spread out at three separate crash sites.

The majority of the wreckage – which included the fuselage and tail of the aircraft, was discovered in a wooded area near the mouth of the French and Pickerel rivers.

Investigators discovered the majority of the left wing about half a kilometre to the northeast of the main crash site, and found parts of the right wing nearly two kilometres to the southeast. 

“The first thing we need to do is get the aircraft wreckage out of the bush and into our facility here in Toronto,” Enns said.

It will be up to the insurance company to retrieve the wreckage, and due to the difficulties accessing the crash sites Enns could not say when that would happen.

They would likely need a helicopter to gather all the pieces of the aircraft, he said, and would then need to transport those pieces to Toronto.

Once the Transportation Safety Board of Canada reconstructs the aircraft, investigators will be better able to determine what failed first.

“Hopefully we can put together enough information that we can figure out the scenario of what happened,” Enns said.

In addition to Arseneau, who was a well-known lawyer from Sudbury, his wife Mary Lou, 65, and her caregiver, who has not yet been identified, were killed in the crash.

An effort to recover three bodies from the wreckage of a small Sudbury plane continued Thursday in the bush west of Henvey Inlet.

"We're taking the bodies out today," said Const. Miles Loach, community service officer with the West Parry Sound OPP. "We found the plane and the three people who were supposedly in it, but we are still trying to verify the identities."

Names would not be released by the OPP until post-mortems were carried out in Sudbury, he said.

A team of investigators with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada was also on site, beginning Wednesday.

"Transport Canada and our investigator were the first two in there yesterday," said Loach.

Investigators are visiting the site by helicopter, he noted, as it is in rugged terrain near the mouth of the Pickerel River.

"The OPP chopper is there now," Loach said. "Initially we were using the Coast Guard's, because you can't even get to it by snowmobile."

The plane, a six-seat Piper Saratoga owned by Sudbury lawyer Leo Arseneau, departed from the city's airport around 3 p.m. on Tuesday, bound for Winston-Salem, NC, but reported engine difficulties less than an hour after takeoff.

Arseneau's wife, Mary Lou, and a caregiver are believed to have also been on board.

Derek Young, who filled in occasionally as legal secretary at Arseneau's law office, described a shaken workplace on Thursday.

"The team at Arseneau Poulson and their associates are grieving," he wrote in a Facebook post. "Leo was a friend, a colleague and a family man, with a gentle and kind spirit."

Young said the lawyer and his wife were extremely close. "He was just shy of his 65th birthday and he and his wife of 48 years planned on renewing their vows this spring."

Arseneau was also a magician who "enjoyed performing card tricks," noted Young, and performed an altruistic role by "flying disadvantaged families to hospital appointments. This is a big loss to the community."

A mayday was received by the OPP just before 4 p.m. on Tuesday, after which the plane lost radio contact.

"When we first got the call, the location we were given was just out from Sans Souci Island (near Parry Sound)," said Loach. "I gather they turned around and were trying to make their way back to Sudbury."

All planes are required to have an emergency locator device, but in this case there was no signal coming from the Piper's transponder unit.

"I understand there was some fire when it landed," said Loach. "Whether it wasn't working or was burnt, we're not sure."

In the absence of exact coordinates, spotters with the OPP and the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre out of Trenton had to scour a broad area Tuesday evening and overnight, using a Hercules plane and helicopter to conduct grid searches.

By 8:55 a.m. Wednesday morning, JRCC personnel were able to pinpoint the wreckage and a member of the OPP's emergency response team was delivered to the site via a Coast Guard helicopter.

"They found a spot on the ice (of the Pickerel River) close to that where they could land, and our officer walked over to it from there," said Loach. (Earlier reports mistakenly said the ERT officer had to rappel down.)

Loach said the plane was found "in two pieces, but very close together," suggesting the aircraft may have broken apart upon landing.

Chris Krepski, a spokesman with the Transportation Safety Board, said no determination had yet been made on the cause of the plane crash.

"Our investigators arrived yesterday and will spend as much time as they need to," he said. "Usually they will spend a day or so on site, depending on how easy it is to access. They may also interview people in the area and look at pilot training records and aircraft maintenance history."

Krepski said he wasn't able to communicate Thursday with the team dispatched to the crash site, as they were out of cellphone range.

"I've been unsuccessful in reaching them, which is often the case in isolated areas," he said. "They're there, but there's been no information since they were deployed."

Leo Arseneau

The death of a Sudbury pilot and two passengers hit hard among local aviation and legal circles Wednesday.

Leo Arseneau, an accomplished family lawyer and member of the Sudbury Flying Club, perished along with his wife, Mary Lou, and his wife's caregiver after his Piper six-seater plane went down in the bush near the mouth of the French and Pickerel Rivers on Tuesday.

The three were bound for Winston-Salem, NC, but reported engine problems after leaving the Sudbury Airport and crashed while attempting to execute an emergency landing.

News of the tragedy was showing on the faces of many lawyers at the Sudbury Courthouse Wednesday afternoon.

"He and I go back a ways, quite a ways," reflected Robert Beckett, a long-time Sudbury lawyer. "He just reached 35 years (in law) at the end of last year. He was one of my golf buddies."

Another veteran solicitor, Richard Pharand, described Arseneau as a doting husband and skilled attorney.

"In recent years, he was his wife's caregiver," said Pharand. "He was basically taking care of her. He would go to the office and do work and spend all his other time with his wife. He told me he had been at the hospital when she was there and spent a lot of time at her bedside."

Arseneau was involved in a number of noteworthy cases, said Pharand, including a civil suit against disgraced financial adviser Pierre Montpellier, who was convicted of conning 128 people out of $5.3 million in 2004.

"He acted on behalf of the victims and got them a good result," he said.

The suit, filed in 1999, sought $25 million in damages. In 2004, Arseneau obtained $4.6 million on behalf of more than 70 Sudburians who said they were cheated out of investments.

Arseneau also represented the parents of Davinder Kochar, killed in 2005, in their quest to have retroactive child support paid by their daughter's husband, Harinder Kochar, for the couple's three children.

A court ruled in 2011 that $200,000 was owed to the elder Kochars on behalf of their grandchildren.

As lawyers grieved a popular colleague and mentor, those who frequent local hangars and runways were also feeling the loss.

Michael Rocha, chief flight instructor with the Central North Flying Club, said he was more of an acquaintance than a close friend but would often encounter Arseneau at the airport, especially in the days when the Sudbury Flying Club -- of which Arseneau was a member -- was more active.

"The airplane community is a small one, so you get to know each other," he said.

Arseneau was a seasoned pilot, said Rocha, and used his plane mostly for long trips, as opposed to shorter leisure outings.

"The first time I met Leo was back around 1998, so he's probably been flying for over 20 years," he said.

The Piper Saratoga flown by Arseneau was a "higher performance" type of single-engine plane that is "designed more for long trips than sightseeing," said Rocha.

Anytime a plane goes down it sends a chill through the flying community, said Rocha, especially if someone is killed.

"You feel bad for everybody involved, and it gives you a bit of a pause for thought and reflection," he said.

Aviators are "are a very safety-oriented group of people, very conscious of safety," said the flight instructor. "And flying is one of the safest modes of transportation -- I've always said it's more dangerous driving to the airport than flying. But accidents still happen, and it's very unfortunate."

July 13, 2012: Piper PA-32RT-300T, C-GDWA, Forced landing on highway

Joseph Arseneau's Piper Lance small engine aircraft parked in a parking lot at the Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport after being forced to make an emergency landing on westbound Highway 402 Friday night. The right wing tip sustained damage after being clipped by an oncoming Dodge Caravan on the highway. The female driver of the van, her four passengers, Arseneau and his four passengers were all unharmed. Arseneau and his family was enroute from Sudbury, according to OPP. 

 Submitted photo of the Piper Lance small engine aircraft after it landed just after 10 p.m. Friday night. 

The foreground shows a broken piece from the tip of pilot Joseph Arseneau's Piper Lance small engine aircraft, which sustained damage after being clipped by an oncoming Dodge Caravan Friday night on westbound Highway 402. The carrier is currently parked in a parking lot at the Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport. Pieces from the tip lie underneath the aircraft. According to the Huron Flight Centre, the small plane will be moved to the airside of the airport after an insurance company examines the carrier on Monday. 

 A close up of Joseph Arseneau's Piper Lance small engine aircraft, parked in a parking lot at the Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport, shows damage sustained to the right wing tip. Pieces from the tip lie underneath the aircraft. According to the Huron Flight Centre, the small plane will be moved to the airside of the airport after an insurance company examines the carrier on Monday. 

A small airplane was forced to make an emergency landing on Highway 402 Friday night.

Joseph Arseneau, a 62-year-old pilot, was travelling with four family members enroute to Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport from Sudbury in a Piper Lance small engine aircraft around 9 p.m. Friday, said Const. John Reurink of the OPP.

Reurink said Arseneau experienced an onboard electrical failure that left him circling the area to locate the airport.

“He was without electrical power for about an hour,” said Reurink.

“He’s not aware of this area, being from Sudbury.”

After losing navigation directions and contact with Toronto Air Traffic Control, Arseneau contacted Sarnia Police around 9:50 p.m.

“He made a call to our switchboard from a private cell phone because his power supply was interrupted and his radio and navigation system was down,” said Staff Sgt. Chris Oram of Sarnia Police.

Arseneau, running low on fuel, made an emergency landing on westbound 402 between Oil Heritage Road and Mandaumin Road exits with the assistance of Sarnia Police and Lambton OPP.

“The original plan was to get (Arseneau) to the airport, but he notified us that he was running out of fuel,” said Oram.

After Arseneau’s aircraft landed successfully on the highway, west of Plowing Match Road, a Dodge Caravan clipped the ring wing of the carrier.

Reurink said the female driver of the van, 40-year-old Elizabeth Goodall of Sarnia, and four other passengers, were uninjured, while the driver side of the van sustained some damage.

“Thank goodness that nobody was hurt. That’s 10 lives... I get goosebumps just thinking about it,” said Judy Ryan of Huron Flight Centre in Sarnia.

“The plane could have gone up on flames. There could have been 10 fatalities.”
She added that Arseneau would have been disadvantaged and “flying blind” without electrical power.

“The weigh scales on the 402 were probably the only things he could see,” said Ryan.

Transport Canada is investigating the source of the onboard electrical failure, according to Reurink.

Oram said he has never heard of an emergency landing on the highway during his 29-year career with Sarnia Police.

Arseneau’s Piper Lance small engine aircraft sustained minimal damage to the tip of the right wing and is currently parked at the Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport.
“The highway is open to ground traffic now, but closed to air traffic,” joked Oram.

Source:   http://www.niagarafallsreview.ca

 The 402 could sometimes use someone to direct traffic, but last night the busy highway needed an air traffic controller. 

Lambton OPP say a plane made an emergency landing on the highway near Wyoming, just east of Sarnia.

Officers say it was around 9 p.m. when 62-year-old pilot Joseph Arseneau of Sudbury was flying with four of his family members in his Piper Lance small engine plane to Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport when the aircraft went into on-board electrical failure.

Police say without his instruments to help him, Arseneau circled continuously to find the airport, but without his signalling the runway lights wouldn't come on.

The OPP says it was around 10 p.m. that Arseneau was running low on fuel and was forced to make an emergency landing in the westbound lanes of the 402 between Oil Heritage Road and Mandaumin Road Exits.

Officers say Arseneau brought the plane down successfully, but even though they were on the ground the drama wasn't over yet.

Police say once the aircraft was on the roadway a passing van clipped the right wing tip. Police say the 40-year-old driver of the van, Elizabeth Goodall of Sarnia and her four passengers were not hurt. Arseneau and his family were also uninjured by the collision.

Officers say the van and the wing tip of the plane did sustain some damage.

OPP say the westbound lanes of the 402 were closed until the plane and the vehicle could be removed.

A picture from the scene shows the small plane sitting on the highway bathed in the glow of emergency vehicles' lights.

Transport Canada has now begun an investigation into what may have caused the on-board electrical failure in the aircraft.

Source:   http://www.am980.ca
The steady hands of a Sudbury pilot faced with an on-board electrical failure landed his small airplane on Hwy 402 just outside of Sarnia on Friday night without any injuries. 

Lambton OPP said Joseph Arseneau, 62, of Sudbury was flying his Piper Lance aircraft with four family members to Chris Hadfield Airport in Sarnia when at about 9 p.m. the electrical failure happened.

He circled the plane for an hour looking for the airport, but without his on-board instruments, he couldn't signal the airport to light up the runway.

For an hour, he continued circling the plane. At 10 p.m., now low on fuel, he had to make an emergency landing – and did in the westbound lanes of Hwy. 402 between Oil Heritage Rd.and Maudamin Rd.

While making the landing, his right wing clipped a van. The 40-year old female driver and her four passengers were not injured.

Both the plane and the van were damaged in the collision.

Transport Canada is investigating.  

Source:   http://www.lfpress.com 

Bermuda Dunes Airport (KUDD), California: Private jets flying in for tennis tournament bring big bucks


People flying into the Coachella Valley for the BNP Paribas Open are causing a big boost for a local airport.

The Bermuda Dunes Airport's busiest season starts now, and is having a huge kick off from people flying in on private planes from out of state and other countries.

"This is our season that we thrive on the most, and we get most of our clientele coming to the tennis tournament, and they like to come out and visit our nice weather," said Jeff Porras, airport manager.

"Our operations are up during this month because of the tennis tournament, about 70 percent, so we have roughly 100 operations, which is take-offs and landings per day here," said Robert Berriman, Public Relations Manager for the airport.

The airport is making the most money on private jets that cost more to fuel and park than the conventional propeller planes that normally use the runway.

"This airport is centrally located to our community, it's well served to the surrounding cities that serve a lot of the visitors that come to the country clubs and the different event places," said Porras.

"You know it's good, that's what it's there for, every plane that lands there has landing fees, refueling, and the people who work there, so that's what makes it tick," said Cliff Smith, a Canadian who is visiting Bermuda Dunes.

The busiest time for the airport is on the weekends. You can expect to see private jet planes take up most of the parking spots on the tarmac.

Story, video and photos:  http://www.kesq.com

Kolb Mk-II Twinstar, N193Y: Accident occurred March 15, 2015 in Reynolds, Georgia

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA156
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 15, 2015 in Reynolds, GA
Aircraft: KOLB MK-II, registration: N193Y
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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On March 15, 2015, at 1818 eastern daylight time, an experimental light sport Kolb Twinstar MK-II, N193Y operated by a private individual, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near Reynolds, Georgia. The student pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight which departed Thomaston-Upson County Airport (OPN), Thomaston, Georgia. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to a witness, a few minutes prior to the accident the airplane approached her property and flew two oval shaped patterns over her house. It then proceeded west towards her neighbor's property. Subsequently, the airplane had turned, was heading east, and was in line with the neighbor's driveway. At that time, the airplane had descended to about 150 to 200 feet above ground level, when it suddenly "took a sharp pitch forward and turned right at the same time" and impacted the ground in a nose down attitude. The witness further stated "the engine was running" while the airplane was overhead and they did not hear the engine "sputter or stop."

The wreckage was examined by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector. All major components were accounted for at the accident location. The airplane came to rest in a nose down attitude with the entire length of the wing leading edge resting on the ground. There were no ground scars noted leading to the airplane. Flight control continuity was established from the flight controls to the respective control surfaces. An undermined amount of blue fluid, similar in color to and smell as 100 LL aviation fuel was located throughout the entire fuel system.


Friends say flying was Morrell's passion

The local flying community says losing Wayne Ray Morrell was like losing a brother.

"You can't replace him," says friend and fellow pilot, Terry Davis. "It's going to be tough here."

There's an empty space in hangar 85.

"This flying fraternity just accepted him, and every single one of them loved him," Davis says,

The brotherhood lost one of its members. 52-year-old Wayne Ray Morrell, who went by Ray, was killed Sunday when his plane crashed in Potterville around 4 p.m.

Davis had known Morrell since he was a baby and says he had been flying about three years.

"He had seen that little airplane and just absolutely fell in love," Davis says about Morrell's single-engine experimental aircraft.

Sine then, they had flown together several times.

"Nothing changed this man like aviation," says Davis. "For him, it was a whole new world."

"Where he lives, he's somewhat of a legend," says Pete Pettis, who served as one of Morrell's flying mentors.

Morrell was a mechanic from Reynolds, but had another home at Thomaston Upson County airport, where he would go on weekends to take to the skies.

"Every flight was an adventure," says Pettis, who remembers Morrell's fun and friendly personality.

Pettis says Morrell was taking professional flying lessons. He could fly on his own but still had to have an instructor sign off. Mitch Ellerbee, airport manager, says the regulars formed a tight-knit group.

"Fly together, talk about flying together, go eat together, hang out together," he says. Ellerbee says rising above the loss of Morrell, who was a father and friend, will be hard.

"It's the first time it's happened here to one of our family," he explains.

"I promise you he went from here happy," Davis says.

In the face of tragedy, Davis says Morrell would have never wanted an accident to turn people away from flying.

"He would be the first to say don't quit doing what you love, and he loved this."

Taylor County Coroner, Gary Lowe, says the cause of death was multiple blunt impact injuries. Investigators are still figuring out what caused the crash. Morrell was just a few weeks away from getting his pilot's license.

Story, video and photo: http://www.13wmaz.com

Pilot distracted by drone as he landed at Wheeler Downtown Airport (KMKC), Kansas City, Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A drone distracted the pilot of a small plane at the downtown airport Friday.

The pilot of a Beechcraft airplane was concerned last Friday when he spotted a drone as he was landing at Wheeler Airport in downtown Kansas City, Mo.

The pilot notified the tower, and the tower called the police helicopter.

The police helicopter saw the drone, but the drone eventually got away.

The pilot landed safely, but Chris St. Germain, Vice President of The Experimental Aircraft Assn., Chapter 91 in Lee's Summit, said the incident should never have happened in the first place.

"They're not supposed to be operating, I believe, within three or four miles of the airport unless they get specific permission," said St. Germain. 

The FAA is developing regulations for drones. You can find the latest about unmanned aircraft systems on www.faa.gov/uas . 

Source:  http://www.kshb.com

Deputies: MacDill Air Force Base historian pointed laser at Hillsborough County Sheriff's helicopter

FOX 13 News

 PLANT CITY (FOX 13) -  A MacDill Air Force Base staff member was arrested and charged with shining a laser pointer at a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office helicopter as it flew over Plant City, investigators said Tuesday.

According to the sheriff's office, one of their helicopters was over the Walden Lake subdivision Friday night when the pilots spotted -- and recorded -- someone pointing a green laser at the aircraft.

"He's hitting us repeatedly and he's not being shy about it," the pilot can be heard saying on video recorded aboard the helicopter.

They said the suspect, later identified by deputies as William Polson, continued to shine the laser at the helicopter while the pilot guided deputies on the ground to the area.

Before they could get there, Polson allegedly got into a car and left his home, but the helicopter pilots continued to track him. Their colleagues on the ground caught up with him a few blocks away, found the laser, and arrested him.

The helicopter video, later shared by the sheriff's office, showed excerpts of the encounter, ending with the arrest.

"Good job, S.O. We got him and we got the, uh, device," a voice on the video can be heard saying.

"Outstanding," the pilot replies.

According to pilots, lasers pointed into their eyes at night can cause temporary blindness, a clear hazard to their own safety as well as those on the ground.

"If he loses control of the aircraft then he could crash into houses, he could crash into -- kill people on the ground besides killing the pilot and the co-pilot," said HCSO pilot Kevin Johnson, who was not in the cockpit that night but has previously been targeted by a laser pointer. "It causes temporary blindness in the cockpit. It's very distracting. It can cause permanent eye damage."

Polson, 57, was charged with misuse of a laser lighting device. He was released on $2,500 bond.

Polson's arrest report states that he told deputies he works as a historian at MacDill Air Force Base. It's unclear what, if anything, will happen at MacDill.

Story, video and photo: http://www.myfoxtampabay.com

William R. Polson, 57, is facing charges of misuse of a laser lighting device and obstruction or opposing an officer without violence.


A Plant City man who works for MacDill Air Force Base as a historian has been accused of pointing a laser at a Hillsborough County Sheriff's helicopter.

William R. Polson, 57, is facing charges of misuse of a laser lighting device and obstruction or opposing an officer without violence.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, the helicopter was conducting routine flight operations at 11:30 p.m. last Friday near the Plant City Airport when it was hit by a green laser.

Pilot Kevin Johnson said lasers can be debilitating to a pilot.

"It causes disruption in the cockpit," he said. "It lights the cockpit up. It causes temporary blindness."

Pilots were able to pinpoint the area within the Walden Lake subdivision as the source of the laser, then obtained video of Polson while he was shining the laser at the helicopter, deputies said.

Polson continued to shine the laser at the helicopter while pilots guided patrol deputies to the area, the report said. However, while deputies were en route, Polson drove away from his home, so pilots directed ground units to his location. Those deputies pulled him over and took him into custody.

The arresting deputies said they found the laser in Polson's possession.

Deputies say Polson works at MacDill Air Force Base as a historian.

"It would surprise me that someone in the aviation industry would do that," Johnson said.

Polson was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail on $2,500 bond. He posted bond Sunday night.

A spokesperson for MacDill Air Force Base said they weren't aware of his arrest until they were informed by the media. He is still employed as of now.

Source: http://www.baynews9.com

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office released video they say shows William Polson pointing a laser at one of their helicopters.