Saturday, March 28, 2015

Cub Crafters CC18-180, N550BS: Accident occurred March 28, 2015 at Crazy Bob's Airport (2OI4), Westfield Township, Medina County, Ohio

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Cleveland, Ohio

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket  - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Location: Westfield Township, OH
Accident Number: GAA15LA027
Date & Time: 03/28/2015, 1958 EDT
Registration: N550BS
Aircraft: CUB CRAFTERS CC18 180
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal


According to the pilot, he departed on a cross-country flight to his home airport. He planned to arrive about sunset and land to the west. The pilot's last recollection of the events leading up to the accident was initiating a right turn from the base to final leg in the traffic pattern. The airplane wreckage was found inverted on the runway, adjacent to a tree line near the approach end. A semicircular, concave indentation on the leading edge of the right wing exhibited wood and paint transfer marks consistent with marks found on a severed treetop and branches at the initial point of impact. It is likely that the pilot misjudged the airplane's height above the trees when he turned onto final and was flying toward the setting sun. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from trees during a base-to-final turn while landing toward the sun.


Altitude - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Monitoring environment - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Glare - Effect on personnel (Cause)
Tree(s) - Awareness of condition (Cause)

Factual Information 

On March 28, 2015, about 1958 Eastern daylight time, a Carbon Cub 18-180 airplane, N550BS, was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain during the landing at Crazy Bob's Airfield (2OI4), Westfield Center, Ohio. The commercial pilot performed the flight while visual meteorological conditions prevailed. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The solo pilot received serious injuries. The airplane departed Loraine County Regional Airport (LPR), Loraine/Elyria, Ohio about 1900, with Crazy Bob's Airfield as the intended destination.

In a written report to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the pilot reported that he obtained the flight's weather planning information using television and radio weather reports. His departure time was 1930, and sunset occurred at 2015. The destination runway was runway 27. The pilot further acknowledged that the turn from base to final was the last memory he could recall pertaining to the events of the accident.

The initial point of impact was located in the southern tree line near the approach end of runway 27. One large treetop, approximately 3 inches in diameter with what appeared to be yellow paint transfer from the right wing of the airplane, was found suspended in the tree line, along with several smaller branches found on the ground in the same vicinity. The airplane wreckage was situated on the runway, approximately 100 feet from the initial point of impact, adjacent to the tree line. The airplane was intact and came to rest inverted.

The airplane was moved into the pilots' hangar at the airport where a post-accident examination was conducted under the supervision of an FAA Inspector. The examination revealed there were no pre-impact mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. The right wing leading edge, outboard of wing's lift strut attachment, had a semi-circular, concave indentation, and a 12 inch span-wise dent, which was 8 inches deep. An examination of the onboard engine data management system revealed that manifold pressures and exhaust gas temperatures were indicative of an ascent to a cruising power, cruise flight, and a descent.

History of Flight

Approach-VFR pattern base
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Approach-VFR pattern final
Loss of control in flight (Defining event)

Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 81
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/17/2013
Occupational Pilot:
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 02/11/2014
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 8200 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1000 hours (Total, this make and model), 40 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 25 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CUB CRAFTERS
Registration: N550BS
Model/Series: CC18 180 NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: CC18-0015
Landing Gear Type: Amphibian
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 09/14/2014, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2300 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 322 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: C91A installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-360-C4P
Registered Owner: SYME, ROBERT P.
Rated Power: 180 hp
Operator: SYME, ROBERT P.
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Does Business As: ROBERTS MARINE
Operator Designator Code: 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Dusk
Observation Facility, Elevation: BJJ, 1136 ft msl
Observation Time: 2356 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 180°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: -4°C / -12°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots, 330°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.28 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: LORAIN/ELYRIA, OH (LPR)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Westfield Township, OH (2OI4)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1930 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Airport Information

Airport: Crazy Bob's Airport (2OI4)
Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 1195 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Soft
Runway Used: 27
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:  1600 ft / 60 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop; Traffic Pattern 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 41.045278, -81.936667 (est)

NTSB Identification: GAA15LA027
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, March 28, 2015 in Westfield Township, OH
Aircraft: CUB CRAFTERS CC18 180, registration: N550BS
Injuries: 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On March 28, 2015, about 1942 eastern daylight time, an amphibious float-equipped, Cub Crafter CC18-180 airplane, N550BS, was substantially damaged when it impacted a tree and terrain during landing at Crazy Bob's Airfield (K2OI4), Westfield Center, Ohio. The airplane was being operated by the commercial pilot as a visual flight rules, personal flight under 14 Code of Federal Regulation, Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and the pilot sustained serious injury. The flight departed Lagrange Airport (92D) about 1900.

A witness who heard the accident said, when he looked up, the airplane was upside down on the turf runway. The runway is lined on both sides with tall trees, and broken tree branches lay near the airplane.

Due to his injuries the pilot has not been interviewed. The investigation is continuing.  

MEDINA COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - A plane crash in Medina County Saturday evening raised questions about the safety record of the plane involved, as well as the field on which it attempted to land. 81-year-old pilot Robert Syme of Westerfield Township was severely injured in the crash at Crazy Bob's Airport, which he owns.

Chief Investigator Carl Monday found little government regulation or oversight of the landing strip.

Crazy Bob's Airport is a 1,600 foot landing strip, a little larger than three football fields.

A spokesman for the National Pilots Association told 19 Action News the strip is a "little short," but that is not uncommon.

The spokesman also said the size of the landing area was not an issue in the crash.

The spokesman told 19 Action News that the soggy ground caused by weekend rain was probably a major factor, a conclusion he shares with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which is investigating the crash.

The FAA will conduct a follow-up probe.

Because the airfield is private, it is not monitored by the FAA or the Ohio Department of Transportation. The three planes housed at the airstrip, however, are licensed with the FAA.

Crazy Bob's has been open since 1980. The Highway Patrol says there have been no incidents at the airstrip over the past thirteen years that the agency tracked.

No one can say for certain how many private landing strips can be found in Ohio, but it is likely that there are hundreds across the state, located mostly in rural areas.

Story, photo and video:

WESTFIELD TOWNSHIP, OH (WOIO) -  Investigators have released new details on a weekend plane crash at Crazy Bob's Airport in Medina County. On Saturday evening, a single-engine private plane crashed during its final approach at the Westfield Township airport. 

The Ohio State Highway Patrol, which is investigating, says the plane's landing gear got stuck in the soft ground, causing it to overturn on the grass runway.

"It doesn't appear that mechanical issues were a factor for this crash. It appears that when the pilot touched the ground, the wheels became lodged in the mud, causing the plane to overturn," explained Lieutenant Mark Neff.  

The only one on board the Cub Crafters CC18-180 was the pilot, Robert Syme, 80, of Westfield Township. That same name is listed as the owner of airfield.  

Family members declined to comment to us, but say the area surrounding the airport is also their private property. 

Lt. Neff says once the plane was uprighted, it would be moved to a hanger for the FAA to examine.

"This crash could serve as a warning for others trying to land on private airfields like that one," said Neff. 

The pilot was airlifted to Akron City Hospital. At last check, he was in critical condition with unknown injuries. 

Story, video and photo:

An 81-year-old pilot was severely injured during a single-engine plane crash Saturday night in Westfield Township, Medina County.

The pilot, Robert Syme, 81, of Westfield Township, remains in the Critical Care Unit at Akron City Hospital, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Officials say the prominent Medina County businessman was attempting to land the Cub Crafters CC18-180 aircraft at Crazy Bob’s Airport on Westfield Road when it crashed, at approximately 7:40 p.m. Saturday.

Officials said the plane’s landing gear got stuck in the mud, causing it to overturn on a grass runway. Syme was the only person on-board.

Westfield paramedics flew the 81-year-old to Akron City Hospital, where he is being treated for severe injuries.

OSHP, Medina County Sheriff’s Department and Westfield Police/EMS responded to the scene of the crash. The Federal Aviation Admiration has been contacted to conduction a follow-up investigation and inspection.

Story from Saturday night:    A prominent Medina business owner suffered head and facial injuries after attempting to land his Piper Cub plane according to fire officials.

Officials said the plane turned over on a runway that sits in the backyard of the pilots Westfield Township home.

He was the only person on board.

The crash happened at approximately 7:45 p.m. Saturday on Westfield Road.

The pilot was taken to Akron City hospital by medical helicopter according to officials.  He was said to be alert and talking. Several crews responded to the scene to assist state troopers. Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating the cause of the crash.

WESTFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio – The pilot of a single engine airplane that crashed in Medina County Saturday night remains hospitalized this morning. 81-year-old Robert Syme of Westfield Township was trying to land his Cub Crafters CC18-180 at Crazy Bob’s Airport at 7:30 p.m. last night when the landing gear of the plane got stuck in the mud. The plane overturned on a grass runway.

He was taken by helicopter to Akron City Hospital with severe injuries and is in the critical care unit there. The Federal Aviation Administration has been contacted and will begin an investigation into the cause of the crash.

Pilot shortage impacts flight frequency, market service • Fliers can expect fewer flights to certain markets

Delta Air Lines will not be increasing the number of daily flights between Tulsa and Minneapolis or Tulsa and Detroit this summer to the extent that the airline has during summers past.

Since 2008, Delta has ramped up Tulsa’s service during busier summer months to fly three daily flights between Tulsa International Airport and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and two daily flights between Tulsa and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.

During nonsummer months, Delta runs one daily flight to Detroit, but this year the carrier isn’t going to implement a seasonal frequency boost.

This year Delta is running one daily flight to Minneapolis and will increase the frequency during the summer to two flights. Last year Delta ran two daily flights to Minneapolis during nonsummer months and increased the frequency to three a week during the peak travel season.

Instead of the typical frequency increase, Delta says it plans to begin using larger planes. The change is part of the air carrier’s much broader system-wide strategy referred to in the industry as upgauging — using larger planes to increase seats to a market without increasing flight frequencies to a market.

Planes previously carried 50 passengers, and will now carry 76.

Changes are also part of a continuous system-wide re-evaluation of the markets it serves, Delta officials said. The air carrier must determine where demand is greatest for a finite number of resources. Limited resources include a fixed number of aircraft, airport assets and personnel — including pilots.

Many in the aviation industry believe that the nation has entered into a pilot shortage, a critical issue that will begin to affect small airports — and medium-sized airports like Tulsa — at a level above the impact it already seems to have had.

‘Air service deaths by frequency cuts’

According to Bill Swelbar, executive vice president of InterVISTAS Consulting LLC, a management consulting company focused on aviation and tourism, the pilot shortage has not yet begun to cause widespread agitation because most air carriers are responding to the situation by cutting flight frequencies instead of exiting markets.

“For many airports out there it’s air service death by 1,000 frequency cuts,” Swelbar said.

Between 2008 and 2014 the total number of seats available to a market did not change dramatically. Frequency cuts went largely unnoticed because air carriers were using larger aircraft for the flights that they did continue to run.

However, Swelbar said he expects decreased availability will become more apparent by the second half of 2015.

“I don’t think we’re necessarily going to see seats grow as fast as frequency cuts,” Swelbar said.

During 2016 Swelbar anticipates that impacts will become more pronounced. By 2017, it will be “game on,” he said.

A study Swelbar recently conducted projects that between 2013 and 2022 more than 16,000 pilots will be retiring from their positions at the big four commercial airlines — American, Delta, United and Southwest.

The study also anticipates that more than 9,000 of the 17,757 pilots for the small regional carriers will retire by 2022.

Peter Harris, CEO of Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, said that he’s heard estimates that 120,000 pilots will retire globally during the next 10 years.

Currently, problems from the pilot shortage are really only affecting regional air carriers and the smaller areas they serve, experts say.

Often, jobs at regional carriers are seen as a stepping stones to a job with one of the four large commercial airlines. So when there’s a lack of pilots in the pipeline, it’s the regional carriers who end up with vacant positions.

During the past year, Oklahoma State University alumni who have gone on to work for regional carriers have begun to mention scenarios that demonstrate the pilot shortage, OSU’s flight program manager Lance Fortney said.

“It’s not uncommon for flights to be canceled because there’s no pilot,” Fortney said. “Planes are there. Passengers are ready. The weather’s good.”

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have not had any trouble filling positions, but that doesn’t mean the relatively small number of pilots entering the workforce isn’t an issue that’s on the company’s radar, according to their spokeswomen.

“It’s definitely something we do pay attention to,” said Andrea Huguely with American Airlines.

Amy Thornton said that Southwest Airlines recognizes the pilot supply is an issue that’s looming.

The company’s efforts to increase the number of pilots in the pipeline include outreach programs for students at the collegiate level and even the elementary school level, she said.

Low income, limited job opportunities

The situation the nation faces of having a large number of pilots retiring during the next decade with a lack of pilots in the pipeline has been caused by the confluence of several events, Tulsa Airports Director Jeff Mulder said.

“Over the last few years the airlines have performed well financially but experienced a challenging environment from 2008 through 2012 with furloughs and bankruptcy and mergers,” Mulder said. “This was not an attractive environment to recruit new pilots to the industry.”

Another major issue is the discrepancy between the cost of earning a pilot’s license and the surprisingly small sum a pilot can expect to earn once they enter the workforce.

Earning a license can plunge a student into six-figure debt, and some small regional carriers pay less than $15,000 per year.

The Allied Pilots Association represents the 15,000 pilots that fly for American Airlines Group. Pilots who fly for American and other large air carriers make much more than $20,000 a year, a typical salary pilots’ earn during their first year flying for a small regional carrier.

But for pilots who don’t come to the profession through the military, they must start with a small regional carrier in order to get a job with the larger airlines.

“It’s well into six figures,” spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association union Gregg Overman said on the cost of becoming a pilot. “Versus getting out and making maybe $20,000 a year. Honestly, I think it’s a rational decision for someone to make to say, ‘That doesn’t really make sense.’ ”

“As a traveler, do you want to know your pilots have to couch surf because they can’t afford their own place? It’s not a good picture. Ultimately we think it’s a problem that market forces will correct.”

The Air Line Pilots Association, however, says no shortage of qualified pilots exists. The union, which represents pilots from many of the regional and legacy commercial air carriers says that Federal Aviation Administration data shows that currently there are two pilots for every job available.

What there is a shortage of, the union says, is the number of pilots who are willing to take jobs that pay measly wages and offer no career advancement trajectory.

“Many in the industry continue to use an alleged pilot shortage as an excuse to cancel flights, drop routes and propose rolling back important new safety regulations,” said ALPA President Capt. Tim Canoll.

“However, by manufacturing a crisis, we are ignoring the truth — that lack of a career path, combined with rock-bottom pay and benefits by some airlines are failing to attract pilots. Professional pilots want promising careers with growth potential and stability.”

Legislation and regulation stymie

In late 2007, federal legislation increased the mandatory retirement age for pilots from 60 to 65 years old. Many in the industry, Harris noted, then became complacent with the looming shortage and put it off for five years.

And just as pilots whose careers were extended by the legislation were retiring, the federal government enacted two new requirements that many industry experts say have exacerbated the issue.

“One of the new requirements is for crew rest, which lengthens the time required for rest over a 24-hour period,” Mulder said. “This requires more flight crews to fly the same schedule, which seems to have impacted our schedule in Tulsa.”

The other, which Mulder describes as a more serious requirement, increased the minimum hourly requirement for a pilot to fly as a first officer from 250 hours to 1,500 hours.

The new rule came as a result of an airline accident in Buffalo, New York in 2009.

Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed on an instrument approach to Buffalo, New York, killing all 45 passengers, four members of the flight crew and one person on the ground.

However, government reports do not indicate that the pilot’s number of training hours was a factor in the crash.

The requirement seems to be more of a political gesture by the pilots association to limit the available workforce and leverage higher wages, Mulder said.

“Congress seems to be unwilling to address the issue due to emotional involvement of the families,” Mulder said.

“However, we are seeing a pilot shortage that will potentially devastate small community air service, unless something is done.”

2014-2022: Reduction in the Regional Pilot Workforce

Regional pilot workforce in 2014: 17,757

Number of pilots needed to backfill retirements thru 2022: 9,338

Number of pilots needed to fill new equipment: 4,940

Estimated reduction of regional pilot workforce by 2022: 80.4 percent

Source: Analysis by Bill Swelbar, executive vice president of InterVISTAS Consulting LLC

Story, comments and images:

Helicopter diverted from fighting brush fire to rescue hiker

Firefighters resumed fighting a stubborn brush fire in Manoa Valley on Saturday morning, but had to divert a fire helicopter making water drops to rescue a woman who fell on Olomana Trail.

The brush fire is burning uncontained on the Diamond Head side of the valley, but is barely moving and isn't threatening any structures, said Honolulu Fire Capt. David Jenkins.

Firefighters are trying to keep the flames from moving toward homes along Kalawao Street below and Saint Louis Drive above, Jenkins said.

Five fire companies and 18 firefighters returned to the scene about 8 a.m. and were joined by a fire helicopter making water drops.

Shortly after 10 a.m., however, the helicopter was diverted to rescue a woman who had fallen about 20 to 40 feet on Olomana Trail in Kailua, Jenkins said.

Firefighters reached the 46-year-old woman by helicopter near the first peak and took her to Maunawili Park, where she was transferred to emergency medical personnel.

An Emergency Medical Services supervisor said the woman was injured when she slid about 40 feet and was taken to a hospital in stable condition.

Jenkins said the woman had been hiking with a group and it wasn't known how she fell.

He described Olomana is an "extremely dangerous trail" where two people have fallen to death in the past four years and urged hikers to use extreme caution and "know what they are getting into."

He said the fire helicopter would return to Manoa to make additional water drops and lower firefighters onto the ridgeline to fight hot spots.

In the valley, light winds and rain were helping firefighters.

The blaze began about 4:30 p.m. Friday, above the University of Hawaii faculty housing on Dole Street and was briefly brought under control, before flaring up again that evening and moving deeper into Manoa Valley.

One firefighter hurt his knee while fighting the fire Friday and was taken to the hospital.

The size and cause of the fire were undetermined.

Story and photo:

Incident occurred March 27, 2015 in Thermopolis, Hot Springs County, Wyoming

A Thermopolis pilot with engine troubles landed his plane on U.S. Highway 20 about six miles north of Thermopolis Friday afternoon.

Hot Springs County Sheriff’s Deputy Dan Pebbles said the pilot reported that the engine malfunctioned forcing him to set it down. 

HSC Sheriff’s deputies initially responded but the scene was later turned over to the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Brandon Kidgell said the pilot, George Lippincott, 68, Thermopolis was flying from Worland to Thermopolis with his 5-year-old grandson, in a 1963 Mooney M20C single-engine airplane.

The duo had flown another passenger to Worland so that the passenger could pick up an aircraft that had been getting serviced.

It was on the return trip to Thermopolis that the engine malfunctioned, Kidgell said. 

He said WHP was not notified until traffic began getting backed up about 3:30 p.m., but the incident had occurred earlier in the afternoon.

Kidgell said from where the plane first started to land on the highway and where Lippincott stopped was about 2,000 feet on US 20. 

He said Lippincott, after stopping, maneuvered the plane back onto the highway to be able to back down into the ditch so he would not block any traffic.

The plane’s wings were damaged when Lippincott struck the deer reflectors and delineator posts as he was trying to avoid some traffic on the highway during the landing.

No one was injured in the incident.

Kidgell said Friday evening that the plane would remain in the borrow ditch until late morning Saturday (today) when Lippincott was getting a trailer to haul the plane to the Thermopolis airport. 

He said the Hot Springs County Sheriff’s Office and WHP would provide traffic control into and through town.


Incident occurred March 28, 2014 at Van Nuys Airport (KVNY), California

A small aircraft experiencing engine failure — and with smoke in the cockpit — was able to make a safe landing at the Van Nuys Airport Saturday.

Firefighters and paramedics were notified of the incident at the Van Nuys Airport, 16461 Sherman Way, at 12:48 p.m., said Shawn Lenske of the Los Angeles City Fire Department.

The plane was reportedly a single-engine Cherokee, according to fire department radios monitored by City News Service. 

The pilot had reported engine failure and smoke in the cockpit.

The plane was over Cal State Northridge and flying toward the northern end of the north-south Van Nuys Airport runways, when the fire crash crews rolled out.

No injuries were reported and the reason for the aircraft’s engine failure was not immediately known.


VAN NUYS ( — A small plane was able to make a safe landing at the Van Nuys Airport on Saturday afternoon after the pilot reported smoke in the cockpit following an engine failure.

The incident aboard the single-engine plane was reported to the Los Angeles Fire Department at 12:48 p.m., spokesman Shawn Lenske said, and firefighters and paramedics reported to the scene.

There was no immediate word on what caused the engine failure. 

No injuries were reported.


City looks to boost revenue at Frederick Municipal Airport (KFDK), Maryland

The Frederick Municipal Airport will chip away at expenses and look to increase revenues under the mayor's proposed fiscal year 2016 budget.

The proposed airport budget of nearly $1,927,000 is just slightly smaller, 1.6 percent less, than last year.

Operating expenses went down 6 percent, airport manager Rick Johnson said. Part of that is due to the fact that the airport tower generators will not need to be tested this budget year.

“There is nothing really big that's different,” Mayor Randy McClement said.

The airport did not have to do without any major items to bring down expenses, according to Johnson, but rather the decrease was the result of going through each line item to make sure the budget reflects the actual needs of the airport.

This year's budget would not affect the airport's services or commitment to safety, Johnson added.

Income from airport services has been increasing, according to the mayor's budget, from nearly $841,000 in fiscal year 2014 to an anticipated $958,000 this year.

“We've been working hard on our leases,” Director of Economic Development Richard Griffin said, adding the airport has proposed a 4.4 percent increase in fees. “The airport is sustaining its operational costs with the revenues generated by the airport.”

The airport is setting aside money for a corporate hangar, he continued, which would increase rental revenue, fuel sales and maintenance income. There is already a waiting list for hangar space, he noted.

The city will have to provide less money, about $246,000, out of the general fund than it did in 2014 and 2013. In those years, $724,000 and $405,000 was pulled from the general fund, respectively.

The general fund transfer should remain fairly steady until fiscal 2018, according to budget director Katie Barkdoll.

In 2023, a balloon payment of over $5 million will be due on the purchase of land to be used to expand the runway at the airport.

The land, Bowman Farm, was purchased with the expectation that the Federal Aviation Administration would reimburse the city, but it appears the city will not be reimbursed.

Alderman Phil Dacey suggested partnering with the county and businesses to address the issue of the debt, which he said uses up funds that might be better applied elsewhere.

“We need to find a consultant, someone who can help us maximize the value of what we have there,” he said. “There is a lot of potential for businesses.”

He suggested creating an airport authority that includes county representatives. Since Frederick County benefits from the city's airport, he said, it would make sense to have them bear some responsibility for its budget.
Alderman Josh Bokee described a similar idea for an "independent airport development authority" in an email.

The organization would include many financial partner and funding sources, he said, the city being just one of them.

"Resolving this debt issue requires creativity," he wrote.

McClement noted that the City of Frederick does have an airport commission and it would make more sense to use the existing commission to help address the needs of the airport instead of establishing another one.

Frederick does work with the county when it can, he added. For example, when Frederick wanted a hangar back that it had sold to the county, Frederick County sold it back at cost.

“We continue to ask for as much involvement that we can,” McClement said.

Story and comments:

Mush is on the menu: Iditarod ‘shadowers’ to speak at aviation gathering • Auburn Municipal Airport (KAUN), California

Pilots Aaron Zeff and Ron Gilindo, who shadowed the recently completed Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska with their two single engine aircraft, will tell about their adventure at the Auburn Aviation Association potluck dinner and General Membership Meeting on Wednesday.

“They will be our featured speakers with a slide presentation from the 2015 and 2013 races” Oliveira said. “They met the mushers, dogs and race officials at waypoints while overcoming the exacting challenges of flying in the harsh Alaskan weather.”

She said that along the route the weather never went above freezing and gale-force winds made the wind chill often minus-50 F.

“Imagine the challenges of starting an engine after a night of not just cold soaking, but freeze soaking,” Oliveira said. “The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is an annual long-distance sled dog race run in March from Anchorage to Nome.”

She said this year, after 10 days, 34 of the 79 teams starting the race crossed the finish line on March 18 after traveling 979 miles over the Alaskan ice.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the Auburn Airport Barnstormer Building at 13626 New Airport Road in Auburn.

“The public is welcome please bring a side dish or desert,” said Christy Oliveira, publicity co-chair at Mach 5 Aviation. “Please bring a potluck dish for approximately eight.”

She said Auburn Aviation Association began in 1984 as a small group of pilots and airport enthusiasts dedicated to aviation safety, friendship and community involvement.

“The years since then have been a tribute to their foresight and dedication to this cause,” Oliveira said. “From a small group to more than 200 members, they represent a large cross-section of the aviation community from all over the United States and have helped to make this airport one of the most popular in northern California.”  

She said as a non-profit organization, this group has been able to promote the next generation of aviators through its aviation scholarship fund, worked with the City of Auburn to make the airport self-sufficient, and has been able to financially contribute to various community organizations. 

Auburn Aviation Association Potluck and Meeting

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, and the first Wednesday of every month

Where: Auburn Airport Barnstormer Building, 13626 New Airport Rd, Auburn


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