Thursday, June 11, 2015

Long Island Teen, Date Make Grand Entrance For Prom In Helicopter

MANORVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Most teenagers take a limo to their prom, but a Long Island student upped the ante this week when he and his date arrived by helicopter.

As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, a helicopter landing is not unusual in a field. But for this purpose, it certainly is.

“I love flying. I fly helicopters and planes,” said Nick D’Amato, 17. “So why not make a big entrance?”

Joining D’Amato for his big entrance in Manorville on Tuesday was his prom date, Danielle Mignogna, who needed a little bit of persuasion, TV 10/55 Long Island Bureau Chief Richard Rose reported.

“I go on airplanes for vacation, but I really don’t like flying,” said Mignogna, 18.

The spectacle has lit up social media with fellow promgoers, who loaded pictures of the couple stepping out in style on the sports field at Eastport-South Manor High School.

At first, school officials were reluctant, but D’Amato’s father is the local fire chief, and he persuaded school officials that fellow firefighters would ensure it all went smoothly.

“I had quite a few men there,” said Manorville Fire Chief Sal D’Amato. “I had an engine, a ladder truck, and an ambulance there.”

Nick D’Amato has a pilot’s license, and has flown helicopters. But this time, he went as a passenger.

“Danielle was nervous, and she wanted me to sit in the back with her,” he said.

The young couple said they are longtime friends who met through their families. Nick D’Amato’s mother said she was never worried, because her son could grab the controls in an emergency.

“I’ve been up in a helicopter with him,” said Yvonne D’Amato. “He knows how to fly. He’s aware of his surroundings, and he has such a passion for it.”

Before landing, the couple toured the South Shore of Long Island. The experience has now eased Mignogna’s fear of flying.

“It was actually really smooth,” she said. “It was such a beautiful view. I would actually probably go back up again.”

And she may get that chance, since Nick D’Amato plans to fly helicopters for a living.

Nick D’Amato’s boss at a window washing business did the flying on Tuesday using his own private helicopter. He did it as a prom gift.


North Myrtle Beach votes against helicopter tour business near Windy Hill community, residents applaud

About a hundred residents attended the Thursday night meeting at city hall, with several speaking against the business’ request. 


Some residents expressed relief and others applauded when a request to offer helicopter tours near the Windy Hill community was denied Thursday night.

The city’s Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously voted against giving a helicopter tour business a special exception to current zoning rules. About a hundred residents attended the Thursday night meeting at city hall, with several speaking against the business’ request.

The special exemption request was for land on Windy Hill Road Extension just south of the Horry County State Bank on the corner of U.S. 17 South.

The special exemption request was for land on Windy Hill Road Extension just south of the Horry County State Bank on the corner of U.S. 17 South.

“I appreciate the business venture, but the noise and traffic distraction is just going to be too much,” said Linda Morrison, board member of the Windy Hill Woods property owners association.

The land – situated just south of Horry County State Bank on U.S. 17 and Windy Hill Road Extension – is owned by Carroll Rogers, who submitted paperwork to open a helicopter tour business on the property. Rogers was not at the meeting so Steve Powell, who represents Venture Engineering, presented the business’ request to the board.

“We weren’t received very warmly, but I can see why,” Powell said after the veto. He didn’t know if Rogers would resubmit a new location for the business to the board.

“Looking at this location, it’s the best site outside of the airport,” Powell said. “So now we would have to find somewhere else.”

The Grand Strand Airport already hosts Executive Helicopters, Inc., which gives tours over Little River, according to their website.

Rogers’ helicopter business would give several different pre-mapped tours, all lasting about an hour, Powell said. The company would require three to four helicopters and a building large enough to store all of them, in the case of a major storm.

The helicopters cause about 10 decibels of noise when 300 feet in the air, Powell said, so noise pollution would be minimal. He said the noise level from the helicopters would be equal to noise from traffic on North Kings Highway.

Randy Briley, Windy Hill Woods resident, disagreed.

“We live in a very quiet neighborhood – you can hear the birds most mornings,” Briley said. “Traffic is not a problem, but the noise from helicopters taking off and landing would be.”

Other residents cited safety concerns, including the distraction it would cause to drivers on U.S. 17. Morrison, Windy Hill woods board member, said the sudden burst of wind caused by helicopters landing and taking off would lead to more traffic accidents.

“The sudden, loud and fast-moving wind is going to distract drivers,” she said.

Rogers cited an exception that allows “rides,” subject to certain conditions; contribution to economic vitality, harmony with the surrounding area and compliance to development standards and requirements are some of the conditions listed under the exception.

The S.C. Aeronautics Commission, in a letter to Sean Hoelscher, senior planner for the city, found the proposed land use incompatible with Grand Strand Airport and poses “an unreasonable or unacceptable risk to aviation safety or to persons and property on the ground.”

The commission cites interference with an airport runway, lack of FAA paperwork, and incompatible line of sight with Grand Strand Airport’s air traffic control tower as reasons to deny the exception, according to the letter.

Board member Cynthia Lover made the motion to disallow a zoning exemption, arguing that the business would negatively affect the nearby bank and neighborhoods.

“The problem I’m having is that the business will not be in harmony with nearby areas,” she said.


Davie, Broward County, Florida grounds pilot who ruffled residents with flyovers

The calls flooded in on March 1: A small yellow plane had gone down in the Laurel Oak neighborhood. Emergency crews and state aviation officials rushed to the scene.

John "Buddy" Toole, who had just landed his vintage plane, wondered what all the commotion was about.

"There were fire trucks and FDOT at my property asking me what happened," he recalled. "I told them I was just taking my plane out, like I'd been doing since November. Nobody ever told me that I couldn't do that."

Toole had been flying his plane several times a week, using an equestrian racetrack on his 15-acre property at 11250 SW 45th St. for takeoffs and landings. He said he's careful to abide by federal aviation guidelines, staying below 12,000 feet and above 500 feet, and soared mostly over park space before heading west to cruise the Everglades.

But the March "crash" touched off a string of events that culminated Wednesday night with the Davie Town Council unanimously passing an law prohibiting private airports.

Toole, 60, who describes himself as a horseman who dabbles in real estate and lawn maintenance, said Thursday he's now considering moving to a sparsely populated community north of Lake Okeechobee.

"I like to have fun," he said, "and they have rules against any fun here."

Residents say Toole has buzzed their rooftops on many occasions, flying so low they could see him in the cockpit. His plane is a curiousity: A Piper J-5, it was built in 1940 and weighs about 700 pounds, less than the weight of a small car. It cruises at 80 miles an hour, and can land on a runway 360 feet long; his horse track is over 1,100 feet.

"He was using our streets as an approach, it was dangerously close to our rooftops and one little mistake, that's a recipe for disaster," said Claudette Bonville, vice president of Laurel Oaks East Homeowners Association.

Stephanie Scheinman, who lives near Toole, spoke out at Wednesday's meeting.

"I'm not here to put down the aviation community, I'm here to protect what Davie stands for," she said. "The general noise level is disruptive to horses, what if one got spooked and bucked a rider?''

Thomas Hill, a pilot, supported Toole at the meeting, to a chorus of boos.

"I never remember a plane hitting anyone since I've lived here," he said. "It's the safest way of transportation, that's a fact. This seems like a manufactured crisis."

After the March incident, the Town Council temporarily prohibited any future private flights while it prepared a permanent law.

Toole said he had been considering selling his property for $7 million to a wealthy man he described as a "Harrison Ford" type who also owns a plane and wanted to build an air park on the land for "fly ins" by other pilots. Toole told the council that if the law banning airports passed, he would lose out on a multimillion-dollar sale.

About a hundred residents showed up at Wednesday's meeting, many clutching prepared speeches. But Mayor Judy Paul, who received at least 75 emails from anti-airport residents, assured the crowd the town would not allow private runways.

"We're here to protect our residents," she said. 


Mooney M20C Ranger, N5954Q: Incident occurred June 11, 2015 at Blue Grass Airport (KLEX), Lexington, Kentucky | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

A small plane's rough landing, without working landing gear, delayed flights in and out of Blue Grass Airport for hours on Thursday. The pilot walked away unhurt, however some passenger's travel plans were derailed.

"I saw the commotion on the airfield. There was the downed plane, and some fire trucks and police around it," said Erik Degiorgio, who was waiting to pickup a friend from the airport.

It was not a smooth landing, nor a comforting sight, for people flying or picking up loved ones Thursday afternoon. Thankfully, no one was hurt, after a small single engine plane was forced to land at around 3 p.m.

"There was an airplane that was landing that had some challenges with its landing gear. And so, the plane landed on it's belly," said Amy Caudill, with the Blue Grass Airport.

Caudill said the plane came from Danville and only the pilot was on board. Based on the tail number, it's a Mooney registered to Brandon Beavers in Marion County. LEX18 News contacted Beavers, who said "I was not flying or even in Lexington at the time this happened. I do not wish to disclose the pilot or any other info." Beavers gave no explanation as to why he wouldn't say who was flying the plane, however travelers couldn't fathom how the pilot felt.

"I couldn't imagine going down and thinking that oh my gosh this is not working," said Amanda Hart, after her flight was delayed.

"I would have to imagine it was insanely terrifying for him," added Degiorgio.

It took  two hours for the plane to be towed, and the main runway reopened. However, after the runway was cleared, the affects of the emergency landing could be seen for hours in a dozen delayed flights.

"Some planes that were coming in either were diverted to another airport, or those that were going out might have had a little bit of delay," said Caudill. 

Therefore, people waited, watched, and some even went home. 

"I will sleep in my own bed tonight, and get a first flight out tomorrow morning," said Hart.

Airport officials said they appreciated everyone's patience. It was a small price people were willing to pay, for safe travels. 

"I am just glad that everybody was okay with the emergency landing. And just know that everything happens for a reason, and we will just go with plan B," said Hart.