Monday, June 29, 2015

Incident occurred June 29, 2015 at San Francisco International Airport (KSFO), California

A Coast Guard helicopter landed on it is side after it crashed on an airfield at the San Francisco International Airport, Monday, June 29, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Calif. (KGO) -- A Coast Guard helicopter conducting a test flight crashed on an airfield at the San Francisco International Airport, according to Coast Guard officials. Two pilots suffered minor injuries.

The rescue helicopter, a MH-65 Dolphin, made a hard landing around 2:50 p.m. Monday as a pilot and a co-pilot were engaged in a maintenance test flight, officials said. The helicopter crashed when pilots lost control as they went to hover to land. The helicopter landed on its side.

The pilot and co-pilot were being treated for minor injuries.

The incident accident occurred on a tarmac at a Coast Guard facility at the north end of the airport, said SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said.

The incident is not affecting commercial operations at the airport.


Zodiac 601 XL, N253DG: Incident occurred June 29, 2015 near Mesquite Metro Airport (KHQZ), Texas

A small plane made an emergency crash landing in a field not far from Interstate 20 on E. Malloy Bridge Road, NBC 5 has learned.

The pilot contacted Metro Mesquite Airport at about 11:30 a.m. and requested emergency clearance due to unspecified trouble with the aircraft.

The pilot didn't make it to the airport and came down in a field roughly 3.6 miles south of the airfield.

The plane, a single-engine Zodiac 601XL that seats two, was spotted by Chopper 5 nose down in a field a little more than a mile south of I-20.

The pilot was the only person on board and he was not injured.

The specific nature of the emergency has not been confirmed.

Story and video:


Federal Aviation Administration Launches Investigation after Someone Accidentally Turns On Air Show Helicopter: Minnesota Air Spectacular at Mankato Regional Airport (KMKT)

There are four specific switches that need to be hit in a certain sequence before pilot Ken Melchior can start the Chopper 5 engine.

However, not all choppers are that tricky to operate.

Cell phone video recorded during Mankato's Minnesota Air Spectacular captured the aftermath of someone accidentally turning on the Mayo One helicopter while it was on display.

Two people suffered minor injuries when a sun shade toppled over in the wind generated by the moving blades.

The FAA confirmed it is investigating what happened but added these investigations can take weeks to complete, so 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS went to our own aircraft expert to learn more. 

Chopper 5 pilot Ken Melchior, knows the type of helicopter involved well and explained how this can happen accidentally.

"There's two required switches that turned that helicopter on," he said.

That's the power switch and the engine 1 switch.

"The levers are typically marked pretty well. They'll say 'power' right on it."

Meanwhile, Mayo One is now out of commission until the investigation ends. Mayo Clinic does have a second helicopter in the Mankato area so medical lifts will continue.

Mayo Clinic’s released the following statement Monday:

"Saturday, June 27, 2015, at approximately 1:45 p.m., a Mayo One helicopter was inadvertently powered up by a member of the public while the aircraft was parked on static display at the Minnesota Air Spectacular in Mankato.

The Mayo One team quickly initiated shutdown procedures. Two individuals suffered minor injuries when a nearby sun shade tipped over. The Mayo One aircraft involved in the incident has been removed from service for inspection and maintenance, which is standard procedure.

The safety of our patients, our team members and the general public is Mayo Clinic's highest priority. Mayo Clinic is conducting a thorough review and has proactively reported the incident to the Federal Aviation Administration."


This Mayo Clinic medical helicopter was inadvertently started by a child Saturday at an air show in Mankato. This is a file photo.

A boy about 6 years old climbed into an unoccupied Mayo Clinic helicopter at an air show near Mankato and fired up the engine, setting off a tense scene on the tarmac until a worker removed the child and shut off the chopper, a witness said Monday.

The incident occurred early Saturday afternoon on the first day of the Minnesota Air Spectacular at the Mankato Regional Airport.

The whirring rotor blades knocked over a large sun shield on the tarmac, and two people were hit and slightly injured by the fabric-like screen, according to a statement released by Mayo.

The helicopter is operated by Mayo Clinic Medical Transport and is based at the Mankato airport for emergency runs in a 150-mile radius.

A member of Mayo’s aviation team shut down the helicopter, according to a statement issued by the clinic.

Agro Gushwa, a ticket taker at the show, said, “This kid started it up, and the propeller started spinning,” Gushwa, 15, immediately began video-recording the scene with his cellphone.

“The door was open … and he just walked in,” he said.

Gushwa said the Mayo staff member “ran over and got [the boy] out” after about a minute. It took another 90 seconds or so for the staff member to shut down the helicopter, Gushwa added.

Once out of the chopper, the boy “ran to his father, who gave him a hug and told him it was OK. It was fine.”

Gushwa, who estimated the boy’s age as about 6, said the child “was crying really bad.”

Another show attendee, Terry Thompson, of Waconia, said he was walking by the helicopter as the rotors on the top and on the tail were spinning.

“I kind of froze for a second and thought, ‘Now, do I run up in there?’ ” he said.

Air show Director Mark Knoff said the “unfortunate incident” was reported to an on-site Federal Aviation Administration official.

Knoff, himself a helicopter pilot, said choppers are started in various ways and he’s unaware of how the boy got the engine cranked up.

FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said agency “investigators attend all air shows in order to oversee the event and were on scene at the time.”

The investigation into the incident is now being led by the National Transportation Safety Board, Isham Cory said. However, NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said this “doesn’t appear to be something that [the agency] would investigate” because there was no crash and no injuries onboard.

In the meantime, the aircraft has been removed from service for inspection and maintenance, which is routine, Mayo’s statement said. Mayo said it is conducting its own investigation.

A spokesman for Mayo Clinic Medical Transport declined to field questions Monday about the circumstances surrounding how the boy started the Eurocopter EC145, a twin-engine light utility helicopter that can be configured to carry up to nine passengers and two crew members.

Along with basing a helicopter at the Mankato airport, Mayo Clinic also has emergency helicopters at its headquarters in Rochester and at the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport in Eau Claire, Wis.


Swearingen SA227-AC Metro III, Perimeter Aviation, C-GFWX: Accident occurred December 22, 2012 at Sanikiluaq Airport, Canada

Plane in deadly Nunavut crash 'came in too high, too steep, too fast,' report finds

Nine people were on board plane from Winnipeg to Nunavut when it overran runway in Sanikiluaq

Six-month-old Isaac Appaqaq died in the December 22, 2012 crash. 

Inclement weather, poor visibility, fatigue and a departure from established protocols all played factors in the crash-landing death of a six-month-old boy during a Perimeter Aviation flight 2½ years ago, investigators with the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) say.

At a news conference in Winnipeg Monday afternoon, TSB chair Kathy Fox explained the twin-engine turbo prop "came in too high, too steep, too fast" in its flight from Winnipeg to Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, three days before Christmas in 2012.

It was carrying seven passengers — plus a pilot and co-pilot — when it overran the runway in Sanikiluaq on its second landing attempt.

"The flight took off only for the flight crew to realize that they had forgotten the instrument procedure charts for approach and landing. Rather than return to the airport and extend the flight time even more, the captain instead radioed the company to obtain most of the required information," said Gayle Conners, who was in charge of the TSB investigation.

"By the time the captain tried to reject the landing, it was too late."

The plane came down hard, stopping about 200 metres past the end of the runway.

The child, Isaac Appaqaq, was thrown from his mother's lap and died of multiple injuries, Nunavut's chief coroner Padma Suramala stated a few days after the crash.

'Pressure to land'

Conners said the investigation revealed that stress and other issues affected decisions involved in making the landing.

"The crew began feeling a growing pressure to land. Crew communications started to break down. Stress, workload, frustration and fatigue combined to narrow their attention, and they shifted away from well-practised procedures," Conners said.

The eight other people on board suffered various injuries but none were life-threatening.

The TSB released two recommendations aimed at ensuring the safety of children and infants flying on commercial airliners.

"One: that commercial air carriers start routinely tracking and reporting data on the number of infants and children travelling," said Fox.

"And two, for the development and mandatory use of child-restraint systems so that infants and young children travelling on commercial aircraft will receive the same level of safety as adults."

Fox added that having more reliable information about the frequency and number of kids aboard flights will help inform efforts to make flying safer.

"What's needed is better data to conduct research to assess risks and to outline emerging trends related to the carriage of infants and children," said Fox.

She added Transport Canada and airlines are already aware of the risks and encourage families with kids or infants to travel using "an approved child-restraint system during flights."

"In the case of severe turbulence, a sudden deceleration or a crash such as this one, adults are not strong enough to adequately restrain an infant just by holding on," Fox said.

Following the release of the report, Canada's Transport Minister Lisa Raitt responded saying she expects the federal government will take a close look at the TSB's recommendations.

"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victim's family," said Raitt. "We expect Transport Canada [will] review these recommendations on an expedited basis.

Sanikiluaq is an Inuit community of 850 residents, situated on the Belcher Islands in southeastern Hudson Bay.

Read more here:

Final Report:

Low-energy rejected landing and collision with terrain 
Perimeter Aviation LP 
Fairchild SA227-AC Metro III, 
Sanikiluaq, Nunavut 
22 December 2012


Lawsuit still smoking over guns at air show

A man who wants to carry a gun into the Wings Over North Georgia air show has appealed a Floyd County judge’s dismissal of his case, sending the issue to the state Supreme Court.

No date has been set for arguments before the high court in the case of and Dan Haithcock v. Chief Deputy Tom Caldwell and Floyd County.

“There will probably be oral arguments,” said attorney John Monroe, who represents Haithcock.

Superior Court Judge Walter Matthews last October denied and Dan Haithcock’s attempt to carry a firearm into the annual air show at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport.

Matthews’ decision, however, only stopped the attempt for the 2014 show. The lawsuit kept moving through the court system, until the judge dismissed the entire complaint in April.

This year’s air show is scheduled for Oct. 3 and 4.

“The case shouldn’t have been dismissed,” Monroe said. “It was still going on.”

Monroe has said that a private property owner can restrict guns from his or her property. That same restriction doesn’t exist on public property such as an airport.

Matthews, however, ruled that someone who rents public property can impose a weapon prohibition.

“That’s illegal under state law,” Monroe said.

Haithcock, who is from Cumming, told Matthews he regularly carries a firearm for protection.

County Attorney Wade Hoyt III isn’t representing the county in the case, though he’s monitoring its movement through the courts.

“This is still a sticky question,” Hoyt said. “It’s still up in the air whether local governments can preclude people from carrying weapons at local gatherings.”


New Jersey a wet blanket for seaplanes

Seaplane owners John Link, left, and Steve Kent becoming acquainted at Moosehead Marina in West Milford.

On a sunny morning last week, Steve Kent sneaked into New Jersey in a seaplane. This required some planning, since his Cessna is very loud and not particularly sneaky. Taking off from a little airport in Warwick, N.Y., Kent popped over the treetops of Bellvale Mountain, descended into a deep glacial valley and dipped his plane’s pontoons into Greenwood Lake, a skinny body of water that wears the state line between New York and New Jersey like a belt on its hips.

Landing a few hundred feet short of the line, just inside New York State, Kent taxied into Passaic County at 26 knots.

“We call this ‘skip taxiing,’ ” he said. “It’s just like skipping a rock across the water.”

Kent executed this complicated (and entirely legal) maneuver because on most lakes and rivers in New Jersey, seaplanes are allowed to operate only as boats. They may float on the water, but they may not take off or land. Due partly to that quirk in state law, and factors including an aging pilot population and the rising cost of seaplane ownership, Bergen County has changed from a national hub for seaplanes to a virtual no-go zone in just one generation.

“They were very active here. It was common to see a seaplane in the sky,” said Steve Riethof, vice president of the Aviation Hall of Fame of New Jersey, next to Teterboro Airport. “In this area it’s become a rarity.”

In the decade after World War II, the Hackensack and Passaic rivers were home to 50 seaplanes stationed at six different bases, according to H.V. Pat Reilly, author of “From the Balloon to the Moon,” a 1992 book about New Jersey’s aviation history.

The decline of North Jersey’s seaplane culture reflects shrinking interest nationwide in general aviation involving small private planes, local pilots say. There are now 174,883 active airplane pilots with private flying certificates in the United States, a 7 percent drop from 2012, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Steve Hedges, spokesman for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, said much of that decline can be attributed to the aging out of pilots who were trained during World War II and the Korean War.

Modern seaplane pilots face economic hurdles. For instance, the pontoons on Kent’s plane weigh 470 pounds, which means his little four-seat Cessna burns more fuel and carries less cargo. His pontoons have wheels that can be extended for landing on ground and retracted for landing on water, which creates its own risks, Kent said, since habit and training teach most pilots to always keep wheels down for landing.

“You pay a lot more insurance, a lot more gas, a lot more maintenance,” said Kent, 51, the New York field director for the Seaplane Pilots Association. “Insurance companies have an issue with things that can sink.”

State law also discourages people from landing seaplanes in New Jersey, pilots said. In most states, including New York, seaplanes can land on nearly any body of water the pilot can see from the air, said Steve McCaughey, executive director of the Seaplane Pilots Association. But New Jersey law requires pilots to land only at state-licensed airports, and the law applies to both land and water, said Steve Schapiro, a spokesman for the state Transportation Department. Licenses must be renewed every year.

“The assumption about New Jersey is it’s just not open,” said McCaughey, whose organization was founded in Little Ferry in 1972 and now is headquartered in Florida. “It’s just generally not seen as a seaplane-friendly state.”

Hardy fraternity

Bergen County was home to a thriving culture of seaplane pilots and enthusiasts starting just before World War II. For many it was a both community and a way of life that peaked in the 1970s, began to wane in the 1980s, and today is nearly extinct.

The places where the community gathered had names nearly as lovely and magnetic as the planes themselves. There was Sky Harbor Seaplane Base and Dawn Patrol Flight School. Pilots called the Meadowlands “Edo Meadow,” after a prominent manufacturer of seaplane pontoons. The biggest hub was Tracey’s Nine Mile House, a restaurant by the Hackensack River in Little Ferry.

Shea Oakley, executive director of the aviation hall of fame, and David Baldwin, New Jersey field director for the Seaplane Pilots Association, both remember their parents bringing them when they were children to Tracey’s to eat lunch and marvel at the planes.

“I used to go there with my dad every few months for a special dinner,” said Baldwin. “I don’t remember the restaurant or the food, but I remember the seaplanes.”

The international Seaplane Pilots Association was founded nearby, at a card table in the hangar of the Little Ferry Seaplane Base, before it moved to its current home in Florida.

Flying seaplanes in Bergen County required guts and a steady hand. During the cold winter of 1940, flight instructors at the Mellor-Howard Seaplane Base in Ridgefield Park managed to keep the school open by sending students onto frozen Overpeck Creek wearing ice skates. When seaplanes landed on the ice, the volunteers grabbed hold of the wing struts and dragged their skates across the ice to slow the planes and prevent the pilots from ramming the shore, Reilly wrote.

Just upstream, the Little Ferry Seaplane Base and Lambros Seaplane Base in Ridgefield Park faced each other across the Hackensack River, sharing one runway. In the skies above, seaplane pilots were jostled by faster and bigger planes bound for Teterboro and Newark. The seaplane pilots had to avoid all the other traffic, and coordinate the takeoffs and landings of two different seaplane bases, without radar. Most of the planes didn’t even have radios, Riethof said.

Southbound planes taxied on the Hackensack under the Route 46 bridge between Little Ferry and Ridgefield Park to begin their takeoffs; planes landing from the north buzzed low over the bridge deck, “and I’m sure the motorists were quite frightened,” Riethof said.

Nor were the conditions especially inviting. The seaplanes landed on brackish water, but most pilots worried more about pollution than salt.

“The water probably has more oil in it than salt,” said Bruce Dunham, who owned the Little Ferry Seaplane Base until the early 1990s, when he sold it.

Despite the surroundings, seaplanes were a glamorous way to travel. On Fridays in the summer, Dunham regularly carried 200 people daily between lower Manhattan and weekend houses in the Hamptons and Fire Island, he said. Come weekdays, Dunham would fly in the opposite direction, picking up celebrities including Billy Joel, Donna Karan and Liz Claiborne at their waterfront homes on Long Island. He’d take them into Manhattan in the morning and back home at night.

 “Those are the people I dealt with on a daily basis,” said Dunham, now an FAA flight examiner in Florida. “Some of those people were good friends.”

Moving on

One by one, Bergen County’s seaplane bases closed. The Mellor-Howard base lost its runway to a new bridge that carried the New Jersey Turnpike across Overpeck Creek, Reilly wrote. After World War II, the GI Bill paid for thousands of returning soldiers to attend flight school, Reilly said, but as the federal money dried up, seaplane base owners retired or switched careers.

For a while, Dunham’s operation in Little Ferry was the last seaplane base in North Jersey with regular flights. Demand for charters was high, he said, but the rising costs gradually drove him out.

“Airplanes that I was able to buy in 1970 for $35,000 are now $500,000. Insurance went up, regulations go up,” he said. “I moved on to different things.”

Today few reminders of the region’s long seaplane history remain, and they are hard to find. Tracey’s is abandoned, but a small hangar with a chipped green roof stands out back. By the water, a faded yellow sign with the outline of an airplane encourages visitors to report security hazards. The old corrugated concrete ramp, which pilots used to drive their seaplanes from the river onto land, is littered with tree branches and empty Pepsi bottles.

“Most of these seaplane bases are going away,” said Frank Reiss, a seaplane flight instructor on the Wallkill River in New York who used to fly out of Little Ferry. “It’s sad to see.”


Steve Kent taxiing his seaplane on Greenwood Lake in West Milford last week because he is not allowed to land or take off on the New Jersey side of the lake, which sits on the New York border.