Friday, August 14, 2015

Piper PA-46-310P Malibu, N717BL: Men planned flights, car rentals in young girl's kidnapping


VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -  A 5-year-old child has been reunited with her mother after officials said she was kidnapped from an elementary school playground.

It happened at Westside Elementary School around 2:15 p.m. Friday.

According to a report, two men walked onto the school property and snatched the 5-year-old.

A teacher saw what was happening and rushed to intervene, but was pushed away as the two men took the child away.

The teacher immediately told the school's resource officer, who notified the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office.

The two men left with the child in a car, and officials began searching for it with a description given by the teacher.

Deputies found the vehicle about 10 minutes later near the Valdosta Airport, where they were able to pull it over and recover the child.

The two men, identified as 33-year-old Michael Ray McCormick and 36-year-old David Scott Stapp, both of Biloxi, MS, were arrested without incident.

McCormick was charged with kidnapping, simple battery on a school official, and disruption of a school.

Stapp was charged with kidnapping (party to the crime), simple battery on a school official (party to the crime), and disruption of a school (party to the crime).

The child was then taken by officials and reunited with her mother, who is an airman at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta.

The kidnapping plans

Investigators later learned that McCormick is the non-custodial parent of the child, and had traveled from Ocean Springs, Mississippi to Valdosta in a private plane. He had then rented a car to travel to the school.

Officials did not immediately confirm that the two men planned to take off the same day with the child, although they were caught close to the Valdosta Airport.

The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office said they found the plane that the two men arrived in at the airport and locked it in a hangar to collect evidence.

The plane the two men flew in was a Piper PA-46 with tail number N717BL, investigators reported.

Recorded flight tracking data revealed the plane departed from Trent Lott International Airport in Pascagoula, MS at 6:13 p.m. CDT Thursday and arrived at Valdosta Regional Airport at 8:47 p.m. EDT.

McCormick and Stapp were taken to the Lowndes County Jail. Booking photos of the two were expected to be released Friday night.

A bond hearing was set for the two, but a specific date was not immediately available.


Flight data revealed the plane departed from Trent Lott International Airport and arrived at Valdosta Regional Airport the day before the kidnapping. (Source:

Elk Grove Village Mayor Brings Truckload Of Comments To Last Federal Aviation Administration Hearing: Nearly 3,700 Comments Collected At 4 Meetings Attended By 2,230 People

FAA Great Lakes Regional Administrator Barry Cooper (center) talks with Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson and Itasca Mayor Jeff Pruyn in front of nearly 2,000 comment cards and printed emails delivered by the two mayors, Elk Grove Village trustees, Elk Grove officials and residents to the last of four FAA hearings at Belvedere Banquets in Elk Grove Thursday.

Elk Grove Village Mayor and Suburban O’Hare Commission (SOC) Chairman Craig Johnson, Itasca Mayor Jeff Pruyn, local officials and residents arrived at Thursday’s hearing on O’Hare Airport armed with 16 boxes filled with nearly 2,000 comment cards addressing airport noise.

From there, the comments were marched into a Federal Aviation Administration hearing at an Elk Grove Village banquet hall and presented directly to FAA Great Lakes Regional Administrator Barry Cooper.

As FAA staffers sorted the comment cards and emails, Johnson and Pruyn walked with Cooper through a series of exhibits meant to inform the public on progress of the O’Hare Modernization Plan (OMP), showing both current and projected noise impacts and flight paths around O’Hare. Johnson said he took the time to explain his and other SOC community residents’ concerns and explained what was being presented from his perspective.

Johnson said both Cooper and new Chicago Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans have been open and receptive to hearing suggestions, something that has not always been the case through the years especially with Chicago officials who oversee O’Hare.

A contract between the airlines and FAA to use O’Hare is up for renewal in 2018. Johnson said he wants to see a more robust “Fly Quiet” regulations in place with consequences for violating, and would like the FAA to consider other recommendations expected in a report by aviation experts hired by SOC.

Among those expected recommendations is a steeper glide slope for aircraft landing at O’Hare. SOC consultant Bill DeBlazo said a steeper glide slope would mean less noise for those below. Cooper told the Journal & Topics the existing three-degree glide slope is the safest.

FAA officials recently changed flight patterns for aircraft on approach to O’Hare from using a series of stepped drops in altitude to a straight three-degree glide.

Johnson said the difference in stepped down glide slopes and the direct three-degree slope would not change much for communities closer to the airport. He said he understands O’Hare expansion is happening and said he wants to work with Chicago and the FAA to ensure the airport is a good neighbor.

One issue both SOC and local coalition Fair Allocation in Runways (FAiR) have pushed for is keeping two diagonal northwest-to-southeast runways, long the primary workhorses of O’Hare, open. Cooper said, “Our focus is on parallel (east-west) runways. Many (FAA) rules make use of the diagonals more complex.”

Addressing cross traffic, FAA Public Affairs Officer Tony Molinaro said new taxiways at O’Hare come in behind runways and no longer cross runways. Although aircraft taxi a greater distance, Molinaro said the “freeflow” configuration keeps planes moving, making the ride to the gate or runway further but faster for passengers.

Thursday’s hearing was the fourth and final FAA hearing on noise impacts from new runway construction in the OMP.

From Monday, Aug. 10 through Thursday, Aug, 13, the FAA collected 3,690 comments and saw 2.230 people attend four hearings in Niles, Chicago, Bensenville and Elk Grove Village.

Of the 2,230 attending, FAA officials said 600 attended Monday’s hearing at White Eagle Banquets in Niles, 400 attended the hearing in Chicago, 800 in Bensenville and 411 in Elk Grove Village.

Molinaro said a planned runway, which would see arrivals-only from the west, in line with Irving Park Road, would most affect Bensenville and was in part responsible for the higher turnout there.

The FAA also collected 3,690 comments on airport noise from members of the public, including 1,800 printed postcard-style comment cards collected by Elk Grove Village not including printed emails also collected by the village, Molinaro said.


A map models flight tracks of aircraft coming in and out of O'Hare Airport at Thursday's FAA hearing. The green dot represents Belvedere Banquets in Elk Grove Village where the hearing was held. 

Stafford Regional (KRMN), Virginia: Stafford airport authority hosts town hall meeting

Stafford Regional Airport Authority Chairman Hank Scharpenberg fields questions and comments from a crowd of some 70 people at the open house and town hall meeting Aug. 11. 

The Stafford Regional Airport Authority and several county supervisors faced a largely hostile crowd during an open house and town hall meeting Tuesday evening at the airport.

The authority hosted the meeting to present residents with a timeline of the airport’s history, an overview of current operations and plans for expansion.

Authority members also explained their Compatible Land Use guidelines clarifying the types of construction suitable near the airport and the effects of airport operations on neighbors.

Authority Chairman Hank Scharpenberg explained that the airport is planning a runway extension that is expected to bring larger corporate jets and boost the local economy. He added that the flight path to the runway would be altered to its original plan, slightly affecting some residences in the August Forge neighborhood.

While the authority got several compliments for operations and the expansion of the airport from a trailer to a terminal, other residents were not pleased.

New home-owners complained about aircraft noise into the evening hours and the accompanying vibration. Several residents questioned the three Stafford supervisors promoting the airport expansion, Meg Bohmke, Paul Milde and Robert Thomas, who were seated on the dais. The residents wanted to know why they were not informed of airport plans before they bought houses.

Supervisor Paul Milde, Aquia District, said the authority’s Compatible Land Use plan would clarify future expansion and possible effects. He noted that he would like to incorporate the plan into the county’s Capital Improvement Plan.

Scharpenberg pointed out that any expansion of the airport would require public hearings and that the process would be transparent.

Supervisors chairman Gary Snellings, who represents the airport area and sat in the audience as did Supervisors Jack Calavier and Laura Sellers, said he voted against the airport plan in June because it’s too complicated. He added that he was reflecting the sentiments of his constituents.

Cavalier noted that the authority’s plan will have to be tweaked to make it better for residents.

He also added that it was too bad the town hall meeting did not happen before the supervisors voted down the land-use plan.


Visitors at the open house and town hall meeting view a map of the Stafford Regional Airport.

Concord Regional (KJQF), North Carolina: Concord moves ahead with airport expansion

Concord Regional Airport Director Rick Cloutier speaks to Concord City Council members at a work session on Tuesday.

CONCORD, N.C. -- Concord officials made concrete steps Tuesday toward the construction of a new terminal and parking deck at the Concord Regional Airport.

Council members passed one motion allowing airport staff to negotiate a financing agreement for the parking deck and related work not to exceed $6 million and another motion approving a $450,000 contract with The Wilson Group for parking deck design work. That amount is included with the $6 million.

The FAA and the state are paying for 95 percent of the new commercial terminal. The city’s 5 percent portion is estimated at about $1.06 million. About half of that will be part of the financing agreement, and the city will contribute another $500,000 directly.

Airport Director Rick Cloutier said terminal and parking deck construction will follow completion of the south ramp expansion authorized last year.

Increasing traffic from Allegiant Airlines and the potential for more low-cost carriers has created Concord’s need for a separate terminal and parking for commercial flights, city officials say.

The terminal will not be elaborate, but will provide space for at least two commercial carriers, rental car companies, limited concessions and office space to support those functions. Total square footage has not been determined.

The parking deck will have 700 spaces, 350 on each of its two levels, along with two elevators. The site grade will allow cars to drive directly into each level with no internal ramping.

City staff will make an application to the Local Government Commission and set a public hearing for the debt on Sept. 10.


Stinson SR-9B Reliant, N17154: Accident occurred August 14, 2015 near Brown Field Municipal Airport (KSDM), San Diego, California

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

Additional Participating Entity:  
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Diego, California 

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Docket And Docket Items -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR15LA240
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, August 14, 2015 in Chula Vista, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/06/2017
Aircraft: STINSON SR 9B, registration: N17154
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The private pilot stated that, after about 30 minutes airborne on the local flight, the engine experienced a partial loss of power and the airplane began to lose altitude. The pilot switched the fuel selector to the other fuel tank and made a forced landing onto a highway. After touching down on the highway, the engine regained power and the pilot departed again; but shortly thereafter, the engine experienced a total loss of power. During the subsequent off-airport landing in a field, the airplane nosed over and came to rest inverted.

The pilot initially reported that he departed with about 20 gallons of fuel on board but was unsure of the exact quantity. He later stated that there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures of the airplane, and that the loss of power was likely the result of fuel starvation or exhaustion. During postaccident examination, there was no odor of fuel present around the wreckage and no evidence of fuel in the wing tanks or the fuel lines.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion as a result of the pilot’s failure to verify the fuel quantity before the flight.

On August 14, 2015, about 0700 Pacific daylight time, a Stinson SR-9B, N17154, experienced a total loss of engine power and landed in a dirt field in Chula Vista, California. The airplane was registered to, and operated by, the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot, the sole occupant, sustained minor injury; the airplane sustained substantial damage. The personal local flight departed from Brown Field Municipal Airport, San Diego, California, about 0620. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot stated that he departed for a short practice flight with about 20 gallons of fuel on board, but was not sure of the precise quantity. After about 30 minutes airborne, as he began his return flight back to the airport, the engine power reduced and the airplane began to lose altitude. He switched the fuel selector to the other fuel tank and made a forced landing onto the 125 highway. After touching down on the highway, the engine regained power and became airborne before he had time to react. He attempted to return back to Brown Field but shortly thereafter, the airplane experienced a total loss of power. He again prepared for an off-airport landing and during the landing roll in a dirt field adjacent to Eastlake Parkway and Hunt Parkway, the airplane flipped over and came to rest inverted.

The pilot, who had recently purchased the airplane, noted that the last annual inspection occurred about one month prior to the accident and had flown one hour since that maintenance. The pilot later stated that there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures and the loss of power was likely the result of a fuel starvation or exhaustion.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors responded to the accident site. They stated that there was no smell of fuel present upon arrival. They further stated that removal of the wings and corresponding fuel lines revealed no evidence of fuel present in the tanks at the time of the accident; the fuel tanks did not appear breached. They opined that the loss of engine power was a result of fuel exhaustion.

CHULA VISTA — A small vintage plane made a touch-and-go landing on a Chula Vista freeway Friday, then flipped upside down onto a hillside more than three miles away, authorities said. 

The pilot, 65, suffered a tiny injury to one hand and caused no highway crashes. He was flying alone.

The pilot had taken off from Brown Field in Otay Mesa about 6:20 a.m. in a Stinson SR-9B Reliant and developed engine problems, Chula Vista fire Battalion Chief Chris Manroe said.

Police said the pilot, whose name was not released, was planning to fly to Point Loma and back.

He headed to state Route 125 for a landing strip. Motorists reported to the California Highway Patrol that a small plane had landed in southbound lanes near H Street about 6:45 a.m.

The aircraft briefly touched down, then regained power and took to the air again, police and fire officials said. The pilot tried to make it back to Brown Field, but the engine began failing again.

Minutes later, Chula Vista police got calls reporting that the plane had landed on a hill near Hunt and Eastlake parkways, three miles to the south past homes and schools. The pilot then aimed for a wide open space of dirt and low brush about half a mile east of the freeway, where the two roads deadend.

“He would have made it, but his wheels clipped a hill,” police Capt. Lon Turner said.

The plane landed hard and overturned. The jolt ripped off the front landing gear and caused serious damage to the aircraft.

The pilot was able to crawl out on his own. Paramedics evaluated him and put a small bandage on his hand injury.

He told authorities he had spent considerable time and money restoring the plane.

Federal Aviation Administration records show the plane is registered to John D. Nance of San Diego. The record said the Stinson SR-98 was manufactured in 1941. Authorities did not say whether Nance, 68, was the pilot.

A pilot escaped serious injury when his small plane went down in Chula Vista Friday morning while en route to Brown Field Municipal Airport, ending up down on a hillside. 

The Stinson SR-9B Reliant plane was first reported as touching down on state Route 125 south of East H Street after its engine failed around 6:45 a.m., according to a Chula Vista police statement. However, it was gone before authorities arrived.

It went down again shortly afterward on a hillside near the intersection of Eastlake and Hunte parkways, east of state Route 125, and came to a rest upside down, police said.

The plane was substantially damaged in the emergency landing, according to Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor.

The pilot was seen walking around after setting the aircraft down, police said. No one else was aboard.

The pilot was evaluated at the scene for complaints of pain, but was not taken to a hospital, according to police and fire officials.

FAA records showed the single-engine aircraft was registered to John D. Nance of San Diego, but it was not immediately confirmed if he was at the controls.

Gregor said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating the emergency landing.

Zenith CH 750, N1750Z: Accident occurred August 14, 2015 near Allentown Queen City Municipal Airport Allentown, Pennsylvania

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Final Report: 

Docket And Docket Items  -  National Transportation Safety Board:

National Transportation Safety Board  - Aviation Accident Data Summary:

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA311
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, August 14, 2015 in Allentown, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/19/2015
Aircraft: THOMAS A SIMINSKI ZENITH CH 750, registration: N1750Z
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that, after takeoff, the airplane’s engine lost partial power about 100 ft above ground level and that he then attempted to return to the airport. The pilot further stated that “the engine would not keep me flying and the airplane just fell into the forest.”

During the on-scene examination, the No. 1 spark plug was found missing from the cylinder head but still attached to the ignition lead. The threads were stripped out of the cylinder head. It is likely that the No. 1 spark plug was liberated from the cylinder head due to the stripped threads, which led to the partial loss of engine power.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A partial loss of engine power due to the No. 1 spark plug being liberated from the cylinder head due to the stripped threads in the cylinder head. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s decision to attempt to return to the airport while at a low altitude. 

On August 14, 2015, about 1110 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built Zenith CH750, N1750Z, was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain shortly after takeoff at Queen City Airport (XLL), Allentown, Pennsylvania. The private pilot was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

The pilot reported that after takeoff from runway 25, the engine lost partial power about 100 feet above ground level. The pilot further stated that the engine would not keep him flying. He attempted to return back to runway 7, but the airplane impacted trees and a creek bed, resulting in substantial damage to the airframe.

According to the pilot and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, he held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. The pilot reported 328 hours of total flight experience.

The wreckage was examined at the scene by a FAA inspector. The inspector reported that the airplane was submerged, nose down, in about 2 feet of water. About 10 gallons of fuel were recovered from the airplane's fuel tanks. The airplane's airworthiness certificate was issued in 2012, and since that time it had accumulated 75 total flight hours. The inspector found the number 1 spark plug missing from the cylinder head but still attached to the ignition lead. 

The pilot's son took several pictures of the spark plug, ignition lead and cylinder head. He verified that the threads were stripped out of the cylinder head, and the threads on the spark plug looked to be in good condition.

The pilot of a small plane that crashed in Allentown on Friday was in critical condition Saturday at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest, a spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, the Lehigh County Authority lifted the water conservation advisory issued Friday after the plane crashed into the Little Lehigh Creek, one of the authority's primary water sources.

Pilot Thomas A. Siminski of Upper Milford crashed the plane nose first into the creek. That resulted in an extended water plant shutdown to avoid drawing contaminants from the crash into the drinking water supply, the authority said in a statement Saturday morning.

While the authority has other water sources available, including springs, wells and the Lehigh River, switching between these sources can take several hours to complete, so customers had been asked to cut back on water use.

By midnight, officials determined that the water supply was no longer at risk and the plant's normal operations were restored.

The plane crash remains under investigation. Siminski, 68, had been listed in stable condition hours after the crash. His aircraft, a 2012 Zenith CH 750, is an experimental, amateur-built plane, according to FAA records.


ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Today a pilot and his small plane made a crash landing in an Allentown creek.

Now an investigation is underway to find out what happened.

"In the creek 6 to 8 feet nose down offshore," explained rescue crews. 

Officials say the Zenith CH 750 plane crashed into the waist deep water of Allentown's Lil Lehigh creek just after 11 a.m. 

"It came down real slow, just came down," explained a witness.

Emergency crews raced to the scene, just off Fish Hatchery Road and were able to extract the pilot from the wreckage within 15 minutes. 

"He was banged up, he was in pain but wasn't yelling or anything like that, he was conscious," said Captain John Christopher of the Allentown Fire Department. 

FAA records show the plane is registered to Tom Ziminiski of Zionsville, and housed at Allentown's Queen City Airport.

Records also show he built the experimental plane himself. How and why his plane went down is still a mystery. 

For park-goers, who flock to the area to fish and walk, it's a scenario that was a little too close for comfort.

 "Very easily could have landed on top of our heads," said a couple who often walks their dog feet from where the plane landed.

 Pilots who know Ziminski say he is an experienced pilot, and it appears to them the engine stalled. The FAA is investigating.


Lancair Evolution, Unmanned Systems Inc., N427LE: Fatal accident occurred August 13, 2015 in Pacific Ocean


NTSB Identification: WPR15LA242 

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, August 13, 2015 in
Aircraft: BARTELS LANCAIR EVOLUTION, registration: N427LE
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 August 13, 2015, about 2215 Pacific daylight time, an experimental Bartels Lancair Evolution, N427LE, descended into the Pacific Ocean about 430 nautical miles (nm) northwest of San Francisco, California. The airplane was registered to and being operated by Unmanned Systems, Inc under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The certified flight instructor was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The personal flight departed from Phoenix Deer Valley Airport, Phoenix, Arizona about 1815 with a planned destination of Hesperia Airport, Hesperia, California. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed and activated.

During the month prior to the accident, the pilot had spent a majority of his time based in Phoenix to work on the development of hardware/software upgrades systems for the Lancair Evolution. The pilot had been planning to take the airplane to pick up his four children in Hesperia and return back to Phoenix where they would stay with him for the week. He had to delay his flight because the flight line personnel at the fixed based operator (FBO), where he hangared the airplane, had left the master switch on and the batteries were completely drained.

Air Traffic Control (ATC) communication audiotapes from the Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center (ABQ ARTCC) were provided to the National Transportation Safety Board for review. Following departure, the pilot contacted ABQ ARTCC at 1825, indicating he was at 18,100 ft and climbing to flight level (FL)210. The controller read back that he was cleared to climb and maintain FL250, which is the FL listed in the pilot's flight plan. At 1829 the pilot made his last radio transmission which was a response to the controller's frequency change instructions. The pilot read back the frequency and did not make further contact. The controller checked to see if he was on the frequency about 5 minutes later, but did not receive a response.

Preliminary radar data indicated that following departure, the airplane made a continuous climb until reaching FL250. At the time of the first radio call, the airplane did appear to be transitioning through 18,100 ft, consistent with the pilot's transmission. During the pilot's last radio call, about 4 minutes later, the airplane was climbing through 22,800 ft continuing on a westerly heading. While tracking jet route J212, the airplane passed over the waypoint CURIV and at about 1850 began, a turn to the south-southwest to overfly the Blythe, California very high frequency omnidirectional range (VOR). Completing an s-turn, the airplane passed over way point DECAS and continued west tracking jet route J65 overflying the destination airport and continuing on that heading until descending into the ocean. The airplane floated intact for over 20 minutes before becoming submerged in the water.

According US military representatives, two F-15 fighter jets and a KC-135 air refueling tanker intercepted the airplane near

Any witnesses should email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

HESPERIA ( — A father of four and seasoned pilot, Troy Johnson is missing Friday night. 

Johnson, 39, was flying an experimental Lancair plane that was seen crashing into the ocean 460 miles from San Fransisco on Thursday.

“He’s a Christian man, and we know that he’s at peace. It’s a difficult time, and we ask that everyone keep the family in their prayers,” said Lindsay Woods, Johnson’s brother-in-law.

“During the flight there was some unknown mechanical malfunctions. The planes auto pilot continued on its course until the fuel supply was exhausted and it descended into the ocean,” Woods said in a statement.

“Troy at an early age knew that he wanted to be in aviation and right out of high school and Bible college and went to aviation school right after that and graduated and went right into the field,” Woods said.

The FAA says the plane took off from Phoenix, stopped in Palmdale and then took off for Hesperia, only 60 miles away.

But the plane veered off course. Military radar operators picked the plane up off the coast of Point Reyes, just north of San Francisco Bay.

A Coast Guard rescue plane flew alongside and reported seeing the pilot slumped over the controls.

The crew watched as the plane crashed into the ocean about 460 miles off the coast.

Johnson was born in Apple Valley. In addition to his four children, he also has eight siblings.

The family issued a statement Friday evening. It read in part: “Troy was a wonderful man who was passionate about aeronautics from an early age. He was an accomplished pilot, aeronautical engineer and a loving father, brother and son. His family, friends and coworkers would like to extend their appreciation to those brave men and women who aided in the search. We find our peace and comfort in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

The Coast Guard says the search for Johnson was suspended Friday at sunset. There are no plans to resume the search. 


Incident occurred August 14, 2015 in Florida Everglades

Authorities responded to a small plane that was forced to land on a dirt road in the Florida Everglades in Parkland Friday morning.

Two people were aboard the Cessna when it made the emergency landing, U.S. Coast Guard officials said.

The two people were hoisted to safety and no one was injured, officials said.

It's unknown what caused the plane to go down.

Original article can be found here:

Pilots Are Spotting More Drones, Prompting Worries About Collisions • Authorities warn that operators who fly the devices too close to aircraft face possible criminal charges

The Wall Street Journal
By Jack Nicas
Updated Aug. 13, 2015 7:30 p.m. ET

Pilots are spotting drones in flight at a far higher rate than last year, U.S. regulators said, triggering authorities to step up efforts to prevent a midair collision as drones proliferate in U.S. skies.

The Federal Aviation Administration said pilots spotted drones while flying more than 650 times this year through Aug. 9, up from 238 sightings in nearly all of 2014. In June and July this year alone, pilots spotted 275 drones, up from 52 in those months last year.

Collection of data began in February 2014 and has improved over time, making comparisons tricky, but federal and local authorities concerned by the rising number of sightings are warning that drone operators who fly their devices too close to an aircraft face possible criminal charges and jail time.

“I’m not going to kid myself and think that there aren’t people out there that might be interested in causing some trouble,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in an interview. “Anyone who thinks that it’s cool to fly an unmanned aircraft near a large commercial airliner on approach to an airport needs to understand that…we will find them.”

The FAA is investigating or has already fined operators in more than 20 cases of drones flying too close to aircraft. The Justice Department is assisting on some of those investigations. Federal criminal penalties for endangering an aircraft range up to a $25,000 fine and jail time.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said his office is investigating a string of drone sightings by passenger-jet pilots at New York’s La Guardia and John F. Kennedy International airports. Mr. Brown said his office can prosecute a drone operator for reckless endangerment, which carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison. “If, God forbid, someone takes down a commercial aircraft [with a drone], rest assured I will prosecute that case very vigorously,” he said.

The increase in sightings tracks the growing popularity of consumer drones, which are becoming cheaper, more advanced and easier to fly. Industry officials now estimate there are more than 1 million consumer drones in the U.S. Industries including farming, filmmaking and construction use the devices, but officials believe recreational drones accounted for the vast majority of pilot sightings.

Mr. Huerta said he believes uninformed operators are flying many of the drone spotted by pilots. The FAA and the drone industry are working to educate users with a public campaign called “Know Before You Fly” that explains the airspace rules, including that drones generally can’t fly above 400 feet or within 5 miles of an airport. Some companies also have mobile apps that tell users if they can fly where they are, and the FAA says it is developing one.

Some consumer drones already include software that prevents them from flying near airports or above certain altitudes, and some federal lawmakers are pushing legislation to require such software on all consumer drones.

Still, some aviation experts doubt drones pose much of a threat to manned aircraft, particularly large commercial jets.

“People tend to forget how big the sky is and how small these little quadcopters are,” said the FAA’s former top drone official, Jim Williams, who now advises companies that use and make drones for the law firm Dentons. “Every airplane is designed to take a hit from a 5-pound bird and keep flying. If an engine eats [a drone], it’ll be expensive to fix. But the likelihood of one of these little guys taking down an aircraft is very remote.”

Helicopters are most at risk, Mr. Williams said, because they are less stable than planes and operate at low altitudes, where there are more drones.

On Wednesday, a medical helicopter transporting a snakebite victim near Fresno, Calif., had to swerve to avoid a drone while it was flying about 1,000 feet above ground, the FAA said. The helicopter’s crew estimated the drone passed just 20 feet away, said Todd Valeri, co-owner of the medical-copter company. “Had there been a collision, it could’ve been catastrophic,” he said.

Michael Drobac, head of the Small UAV Coalition, a drone-advocacy group, said the industry is trying to be proactive to make their devices safe because “any kind of close call or incident would absolutely be devastating” for the industry. He called on the FAA to set clearer rules for drones, saying bad actors must be halted. “The technology is never guilty; there are operators that are guilty,” he said.

The FAA said it collects much of the drone-sighting data from reports to air-traffic controllers by pilots of commercial jets, small private planes and helicopters. The agency began tracking drone sightings in early 2014 and improved its collection of such data throughout the year, making year-to-year comparisons less reliable.

“Last year’s data would be much less certain because the process wasn’t in place,” said Mr. Williams, who left the FAA in June. “Some of what you’re seeing year-over-year is just an increase in reporting.”

Original article can be found here:

This medical helicopter, shown in a photo provided by SkyLife Air Ambulance, nearly collided with a drone above Fresno, Calif., this week, according to the crew onboard. Photo: Brett Schoenwald/SkyLife Air Ambulance