Friday, August 28, 2015

Planes, trains and buses wary of Tropical Storm Erika

Leaders of the SunRail commuter train, the Orlando International Airport and Lynx regional bus system are watching and waiting for Tropical Storm Erika – just like the rest of Central Florida.

Each agency is going over emergency plans in case Erika turns into a hurricane and barrels into Metro Orlando early next week.

But, for the time being, they are planning on providing service as usual come Monday.

Erika, now churning in the Caribbean with winds of up to 50 mph near the Dominican Republic, may not survive after battling strong wind shear and other weather elements near the Bahamas on Saturday, according to weather forecasters.

At Orlando International, spokeswoman Carolyn Fennell said, airlines are being encouraged to move any equipment that could become airborne in high winds into shelter.

Tom Draper, in charge of Orlando International's emergency operations, said 100 top airport executives from the airlines to concessions to contractors met Friday afternoon to discuss Erika.

"Awareness and preparedness," were the watchwords, Draper said.

Lynx will run its usual 77 routes in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties unless there are sustained winds of 35 mph, spokesman Matt Friedman. At that point, the buses would return to the maintenance yard.

SunRail officials, spokesman Steve Olson said in an email, that agency managers are "monitoring the storm; and plans and preparations are being made." He did not elaborate.

Original article can be found here:

Tom P. Haney Technical Center to get retired Tyndall jet

LYNN HAVEN — The Tom P. Haney Technical Center is getting a new addition, and early birds have a chance to watch it happen.

The school was selected to receive a retired Eagle F-15C jet from Tyndall Air Force Base, according to a news release from Haney. The jet will be used in the school’s Aviation Academy programs and is scheduled for transport Sunday at 5 a.m. to minimize traffic issues.

The route will start at the Tyndall Air Force Base Dixie Gate leading to U.S. 98, travel on U.S. 98 to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (State 77), and then up State 77 to East Baldwin Road, where the transport will turn and reach its final destination via the Minnesota Avenue entrance of Haney’s campus.

The estimated time for the transport is five hours, and due to safety concerns, no spectators will be allowed on the Haney campus during the unloading of the transfer, the release said.

The Department of Transportation granted Haney’s permit, and White’s Wrecker Service will transport the jet on a trailer, with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office providing a police escort. Gulf Power Co., AT&T, Comcast and WOW! also will have utility bucket trucks involved in the transport.      

“... Everyone is welcome to observe the transport along the listed route,” Haney said.

Haney soon will be hosting a community open house to invite visitors to campus to see the aircraft and tour the Aviation Academy, the school said. The date of the open house has not been released.

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Wasilla Lake to be 'gateway airport' for floatplanes during president's visit

Floatplane pilots are getting a break: Wasilla Lake will serve as another security checkpoint for small planes while President Barack Obama is in Alaska, allowing pilots to stop there and then head on to Lake Hood in Anchorage during periods when airspace is restricted, under a notice to airmen published Friday by the Federal Aviation Administration.

That’s a change from temporary flight restrictions released Wednesday. At that point, there was only one spot for general aviation planes to be cleared outside of Anchorage, at the Palmer Municipal Airport, which only serves wheeled aircraft.

Now both Wasilla Lake and Palmer will serve as “gateway airports,” where pilots, passengers and aircraft can be screened before heading to any of three approved airports in the city: Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, Merrill Field and the Lake Hood Seaplane Base. The Transportation Security Administration will set up screening stations and pilots must call 907-771-2950 at least 24 hours in advance to register for clearance, according to the FAA.

Restrictions have not yet been announced for Dillingham, Kotzebue or Seward, where the president is also visiting. Jane Dale, executive director of the Alaska Air Carriers Association, said carriers have been told there will be complete closures of airspace around Dillingham and Kotzebue for several hours during the president's stay. She wasn't sure about Seward.

"I do think they are trying to accommodate aviation on some of the busiest days of the year. We appreciate work they've put into this area. There still are going to be some inconveniences," Dale said."I am a little concerned about Dillingham and Kotzebue, where it's going to be closed."

Dale was at Wasilla Lake checking out the area that will likely be used for the temporary checkpoint.

"There's a nice big long dock," she said. TSA will use hand wands to check passengers and pilots, air carriers have been told. Bags may be opened. Passengers will need to have ID.

The FAA has announced tightened security for some airspace in Alaska while the president visits the state, including periods from Monday to Wednesday in which small planes will need to undergo the checks if flying within a 10-mile security radius. The  FAA earlier had said the spot was centered near the Anchorage airport. On Friday, a document provided by the FAA said the zone is centered around a spot "roughly 6.7 miles northeast of Anchorage International Airport." That appears to put it at Joint-Base Elmendorf Richardson.

The earlier flight restriction allowed floatplanes to leave from Lake Hood during the restricted periods, but didn't provide a means for them to return.

The president's visit coincides with the start of moose and waterfowl hunting seasons in Southcentral Alaska, which increase air traffic in what are already busy skies.

Some of the times have been changed from what was announced earlier. The first period of extra security checks within the 10-mile zone starts  Monday at 1:15 p.m. and ends Tuesday at 11 a.m. A second period begins Tuesday at 6:15 p.m. and ends Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

In addition, from 11 p.m. Wednesday to 12:30 a.m. Thursday, no general aviation operations will be allowed in or out of Anchorage airport, Merrill Field, Palmer or Lake Hood, under the flight restrictions.

Original article can be found here:

Flight rules during Obama visit include checkpoint stops for small planes

Flight rules intended to secure airspace during President Barack Obama’s visit next week will mean sharp limits and checkpoints for small planes, including the use of the Palmer Municipal Airport as a “gateway airport.”

The restrictions for Anchorage were announced in a series of “notices to airmen.” The security rules do not specifically ground floatplanes, one of the main concerns of air taxis and private pilots. An advisory last week had floatplanes on the list of craft that might be prohibited.

But during windows in which extra security checks are in place, floatplanes within a restricted 10-mile zone around Stevens Anchorage International Airport will only be able to depart from one spot: the Lake Hood floatplane base. And they won’t be able to land there, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

"With appropriate clearance, they can leave during the restriction, but ... they can't come back," said Kerry Long, FAA regional administrator for Alaska.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday afternoon posted temporary flight restrictions for Anchorage airspace for various periods of time from Monday, Aug. 31, to Wednesday, Sept. 2.

The restrictions, when in force, also prevent anyone from flying drones within 30 miles of Stevens Airport. The Secret Service could shut down the airspace if someone tries to get a drone video of the president’s motorcade.

The FAA had previously warned that pilots who violate the airspace security rules can face deadly force. The military could scramble fighter jets and helicopters to intercept wayward planes, an FAA spokesman said.

The restrictions for Anchorage airspace begin Monday at 1 p.m. and go in and out of effect over the next two days, depending on the president’s location in Alaska. He also is scheduled to visit Seward, Dillingham and Kotzebue. Temporary flight restrictions for those areas have not yet been published.

Military planes, air ambulances and scheduled commercial and cargo aircraft are not covered by the extra rules, which mainly affect small aircraft and charter planes. 

Monday will be challenging for many pilots trying to fly into or out of Anchorage, said Jane Dale, executive director of Alaska Air Carriers Association. She said the rules are difficult to decipher and she had been fielding calls from worried pilots. But there are long stretches during the middle of the day Tuesday and for most of Wednesday with no special flight restrictions in effect, she said.

Long, of the FAA, said in an interview Wednesday evening just before he boarded a flight that security checks for small aircraft and charter planes will be available in four locations: Stevens Airport, Palmer Municipal Airport, Merrill Field and Lake Hood.

Screenings by the Transportation Security Administration of pilots, passengers, crews, planes and baggage will occur at those locations, starting before restrictions kick in. Screenings won’t be offered during times when the extra security rules are lifted, or in the middle of the night.

The first window in which the special security checks are required starts Monday at 1 p.m. and lasts until 11 a.m. Tuesday. During that time, planes that have been cleared will be able to leave Lake Hood, as well as the other special checkpoints.

Incoming planes under the restrictions will need to stop in Palmer for a check before proceeding to Anchorage. That excludes floatplanes, which will have to wait until midday Tuesday to return. Long said the restrictions are a compromise.

A second window for special checks begins at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday and runs through Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., under the FAA announcements.

Pilots can call the TSA at 907-771-2950 starting Friday to register for screening and must do so at least 24 hours before they plan to fly.

The final notice to airmen runs from 10:15 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday and does not include the option for special screening. Small planes in the inner 10-mile zone will not be able to fly during that stretch.

During the times of flight restrictions, in an area 10 to 30 miles out from the Anchorage airport, planes may be able to fly without special screening, but will have to be in contact with air traffic control. Those operating in the 10-mile inner zone also must stay in constant communication with air traffic control.

Pilots and others in Alaska’s aviation community have been concerned in part because the president’s visit coincides with the start of moose and waterfowl hunting seasons. The Lake Hood floatplane base, within the 10-mile inner zone of security, is the busiest in the world.

"There are substantial periods of time when there is no restrictions on flight, when you can fly anywhere and do anything. That's when the Secret Service has decided it doesn't pose a threat" to the president, Long said.


Stockton Metropolitan Airport (KSCK): China air support link sought

Stockton Metropolitan Airport’s has signed a cooperation agreement with Chengdu Shuangliu Airport, China's fourth largest flight center, a small step toward establishing air connections between the two.

The one-page statement signed by officials of the two airports earlier this month simply pledges “they will explore together opportunities to connect the two airports with passenger, cargo and charter services.” That work will involve sharing information about the two airports with prospective airlines.

“This is just the beginning,” said Harry Mavrogenes, Stockton airport director. “The Chinese are very formal. They like to do these kinds of things.”

Mavrogenes signed the agreement Aug. 22 in Santa Clara in a meeting with officials from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. It was hosted by China Silicon Valley, a nonprofit organization trying to build relationships with the major manufacturing regions in China.

He said Chinese officials became interested in Stockton Metro through a Chinese-language brochure about the airport distributed in China Silicon Valley.

“They are a region that is growing. They want to expand,” Mavrogenes said Friday. “From a business perspective, we have some of the best ground transportation logistics in the country … Being a fantastic location for ground transport, the next logical step is air transport.”

From Stockton Metro’s perspective, the agreement gives it more ammunition in its current bid to establish a customs inspection station that would allow the airport to accommodate international flights. While its initial focus is on providing passenger service to Mexico, China also provides great opportunities, Mavrogenes said.

“Where is air travel, where is air cargo, where are those businesses growing the most? It’s China,” he said. “It’s a logical market for us to try to tap.”

There is a bit of a mismatch between the two airports.

According to news reports, Chengdu Shuangliu is served by dozens of airlines and accommodated more than 37 million passengers last year. Stockton Metropolitan Airport has one airline and tallied more than 72,000 passengers through its boarding gate in 2014.

Chengdu is close to due west of Stockton, nearly 6,900 miles away by the shortest air route, Google Maps estimates.

Mavrogenes, who alerted San Joaquin County supervisors to his intent to meet with the Chengdu delegation, said he will seek their formal backing for the cooperation agreement.

“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “I want to make sure … they say, ‘Yes, this is a policy we support.’”

Original article can be found here:

Manager on the Sidelines, Commissioners Detail Problems at Martha's Vineyard Airport (KMVY)

While Martha’s Vineyard Airport manager Sean Flynn remains out of the office, airport commissioners provided new details this week surrounding their decision to put him on leave almost three weeks ago.

Among other things, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a letter of investigation following the airport’s failure to agree to correct operational deficiencies identified in at least two inspections, according to commission chairman Myron Garfinkle. Under FAA regulations, a letter of investigation is issued when an apparent violator has not agreed to corrective action. Following an annual inspection in May, the FAA conducted a second surprise inspection in July at which more than 31 areas of concern were noted in addition to about a dozen previously identified, he said. Some dated from the previous year.

“When you find deficiencies you say, please correct them,” Mr. Garfinkle said. “This was so egregious it ended in a letter of investigation.”

Long-simmering tensions between Mr. Flynn and members of the airport commission burst into public at a commission meeting August 11 when Mr. Garfinkle announced the airport was under an Oct. 15 deadline to correct deficiencies in airport operations or risk losing millions of dollars in federal funds and potentially its status as a commercial airport. He said there were four main areas of concern: inadequate runway markings, lack of a wildlife management plan, a stalled safety building project and poor operational training.

Mr. Garfinkle said at the time that Mr. Flynn was on an unscheduled vacation effective August 10, but Mr. Flynn said this week he was asked to take time off. Both agreed that the airport manager’s future is under negotiation by lawyers. In the interim, assistant manager Deborah Potter has been put in charge of operations and management. “We are still hopeful we can reach an amicable agreement,” Mr. Garfinkle said, adding he did not expect Mr. Flynn to return to work.

In an interview this week, Mr. Garfinkle and Robert Rosenbaum, vice chairman of the commission, detailed the FAA concerns and what they described as Mr. Flynn’s refusal to share them with commissioners. The two commissioners declined to provide the Gazette with any FAA documentation, saying they had been advised against it by the FAA.

According to Mr. Garfinkle, the FAA’s letter of investigation was issued in early June; the airport commission did not receive it until the end of that month.

In a telephone interview Thursday with the Gazette, Mr. Flynn downplayed the seriousness of the FAA’s actions. He acknowledged that when the FAA conducted an annual inspection in May “some deficiencies were noted and some corrections needed to happen.”

“That’s typical of every inspection,” he said. “Some people have embellished what the meaning of inspection is and what the results were. There’s a lot of oddities about this inspection — how it was conducted, how the airport commission acted during the inspection, prior to the inspection — I’ve never had that in my 15 years.”

Mr. Flynn has been airport manager since 2005; previously, he was an assistant manager.

According to Mr. Garfinkle and Mr. Rosenbaum, two of the four major areas of concern identified by the FAA triggered a noncompliance status, the lack of a wildlife management plan and poor runway markings.

On repeated visits, FAA inspectors found deer inside the perimeter fence, Mr. Rosenbaum said. The airport is a total of one square mile, or 640 acres. Wildlife issues range from deer to birds.

“The FAA has repeatedly said they have zero tolerance for deer inside the perimeter fence for any airport,” Mr. Rosenbaum said. “That’s a real big one.”

Mr. Flynn said the airport underwent a one-year wildlife assessment several years ago. That assessment was then submitted to the FAA as a preliminary step to the full management plan, he said. But Mr. Flynn said the Vineyard airport did not receive comments back on the assessment from the FAA until two weeks ago.

The runway lines were another cause for concern.

“What happens when you repeatedly plow, is the markings end up getting worn off, but you have to have a plan to redo the markings,” Mr. Rosenbaum said. “You can’t just say, oh well it’s because we had a tough winter. You have to make sure you have a schedule to get the lines repainted.”

The airport typically closes one of the two runways each year for painting and alternates so that painting is being done every year. Mr. Garfinkle said runway painting has not been done in three years.

The FAA also expressed concern about the lack of action on replacing the current air rescue and firefighting (AARF) building, which dates to 1950. The airport was awarded $850,000 in 2011 to design a new building. Design plans are expected to be 60 per cent complete by the end of September. A committee was formed to take on the project, including Mr. Flynn, Ms. Potter and Jack Flynn (Mr. Flynn’s son who is an employee).

“There have been large gaps of time where nothing has been done, much to the FAA’s chagrin,” Mr. Garfinkle said. For the sake of comparison, he said a new ARFF building at the Nantucket airport went from the grant award to building completion in two years.

The building currently houses two fire engines, firefighting gear, mowing equipment and a rudimentary dormitory. The FAA found multiple deficiencies in the building, Mr. Rosenbaum said, including the doors of the building parallel to the taxiways instead of perpendicular.

“In an emergency, you have to take a 90-degree turn and because of the buildings in the area, it’s a fairly tight turn to get out,” he said.

Mr. Flynn said the project is on schedule for the designs to be completed by December and go out to bid early next year. The project got off to a “false start” in 2011 when the original owners’ project manager needed to be replaced, he said.

“Regardless of what external timelines there are for the project, we have to make sure the building is good for the airport and the Island community,” Mr. Flynn said. “We’re not going to rush to do a project because of their bureaucracy. We want to make sure we’re doing a project that meets the community needs.”

There are currently 16 full-time employees at the airport, 10 in operations and four at an administrative level including the airport manager, the assistant manager, an assistant to the airport manager and an information systems technician. Some of the operations employees are also trained firefighters.

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Air traffic control at John Wayne Airport (KSNA) rated low in financial efficiency

Air traffic control operations at John Wayne Airport are among the least financially efficient when compared with those of airports of similar size nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

A report by the department's inspector general shows that the Federal Aviation Administration-controlled towers at John Wayne used more labor hours and equipment to handle each reviewed operation than more efficient towers at medium-sized hub airports.

John Wayne was the only airport in its class to be termed "frequently least efficient."

But the FAA said comparing air traffic towers among airports can be misleading because of differences in air traffic volume, airspace complexity, facility size and overnight closures — which happen at John Wayne — that shift air travel and costs from one airport to another.

Similar airports — including Bob Hope in Burbank, Dallas Love Field, Luis Munoz Marin International in Puerto Rico, Eppley Airfield in Nebraska, Sacramento International and Bradley International in Connecticut — were ranked as more efficient than John Wayne.

The inspector general calculated that inefficient air control tower operations nationwide added $853 million to the FAA's costs from 2008 to 2013. The least efficient hub airport towers were estimated to use as much as 42% to 66% more resources than more efficient towers of comparable size.

A John Wayne spokeswoman declined to comment on the report's findings.

The airport served 927,934 passengers in July, up 10.8% from the same month in 2014.

Total air traffic operations handled by the FAA declined 19% from 2004 to 2013. But the FAA's operations budget increased slightly at the same time, which resulted in the inspector general looking into the issue, according to the report.

The inspector general recommends that the FAA develop a plan to cut costs based on the research in the report.

The FAA, "like other federal agencies, is being asked to do more with less, and this can only be accomplished by identifying how to use resources efficiently," the report says.

Investigators wrote that the study provides a starting point for the FAA to look into the factors driving efficiency at certain towers, which could ultimately reduce costs.

Although FAA officials agree that efficiency can be improved, they wrote in their response to the report that enhancements made at one tower will not necessarily be beneficial in all towers, as the inspector general's publication indicates.

Original article can be found here:

Volusia buys new helicopter to fight mosquitoes

Mosquitoes in Volusia County will soon have another threat from the sky.

The county's Mosquito Control division recently added a single-engine helicopter to its arsenal to fight the pesky, blood-sucking insects. Director Jim McNelly said the helicopter will help the phase out one of the two aging helicopters currently in the fleet. The helicopter cost the county $2.8 million.

The helicopter will help Mosquito Control cover more than 50,000 acres of salt marsh that can be a heavy breeding ground for mosquitoes, which have been "average" so far this year, McNelly said. If mosquito larvae are found, the helicopter will make an insecticide application to about 100 acres at a time. 

Painted yellow to give it increased visibility when flying through areas of dense brush and in low-light, the helicopter also does not have a tail rotor to prevent run-ins with birds and other animals and thus increasing the safety of the pilot, McNelly said.

One of the other helicopters will be sold at some point to defray the cost of the new helicopter, McNelly said.

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Los Banos Municipal Airport (KLSN) weather system in need of repair

As the city continues to explore the possibility of moving the airport, equipment maintenance has become an issue for staff at the current facility.

Paul Cardoza, the Parks and Recreation Division operations manager, said the Automated Weather Observation System at Los Banos Municipal Airport is not working properly. The AWOS provides weather information such as wind speed, fog and cloud cover to pilots flying into the city’s airport.

Cardoza said the cloud cover and wind speed measuring tools are broken.

“The problem is that the system froze up,” he said. “The biggest problem of our AWOS system is the parts are not manufactured anymore, they’re obsolete. What little parts (the manufacturer) has to repair the system they’re running out of those parts.”

Cardoza said the city has decided to upgrade the system.

“We’ve had it roughly about 12 years and it’s due for a change over,” he said. “It is encased, but it still takes a lot of wear and tear. It’s out there in the sun. It takes a beating with the wind, the dirt and the dust.”

Cardoza said the upgraded AWOS will likely be “in the $10,000 range.” The city is gathering estimates and is expected to report an actual cost at the September Airport Advisory Commission meeting.

“The system is not something we have to have, but it does help the pilots and makes it safer for them,” Cardoza said.

While city staff deals with the AWOS issue plans to move the airport near a planned industrial park are slowly progressing.

City officials are attempting to develop a 1,585-acre industrial park along Interstate 5 and Highway 165. Los Banos Municipal Airport would be moved to a 300-acre piece of land adjacent to the industrial park as part of the project and a medical facility would be built where the airport is now.

The planned project is expected to eventually create about 10,000 jobs and generate more than $5 million in annual property and sales tax revenue.

Public Works Director Mark Fachin said two design configurations for the industrial park are under consideration. He also said he plans to ask the City Council to allow him to purchase wind machines so testing can be done at alternative sites for relocating the airport. Five sites are currently being study in case the location next to the industrial park proves incompatible.

Original article can be found here:

Range Regional Airport (KHIB) terminal taking shape

HIBBING — One of the questions most often asked of Shaun Germolus these days is “when is the airport opening.”

Chuckling, he said the reply is always the same.

“The airport is open and has always been open,” he said. “The new terminal will be open in December.”

As executive director of the Chisholm-Hibbing Airport Authority (CHAA), it’s Germolus’s job to oversee the new terminal project and other improvements at the Range Regional Airport (RRA).

In recent years, improvements at RRA have included the relocation of the fuel farm and reconstruction of taxiway A. Current focus is construction of the new terminal, which will be followed by construction of the new terminal apron.

“The project has been going very well,” said Germolus of the terminal construction. “We are into week 47. The contract ends on Dec. 5, so I’d say we’re about two-thirds of the way there.”

Work got under way last September when a former office space was turned into the temporary terminal. The razing of the old terminal soon followed.

The new terminal started taking shape as winter approached, and as summer approached, the work transferred from the exterior of the structure to the interior.

“People were commenting how nothing was going on there for awhile, but that wasn’t the case,” said Germolus. “It’s just that the work was now being done on the inside.”

The project is on schedule, and currently under budget.

“We really haven’t run into any unexpected issues or delays, or had any cause for financial issues,” he added.

The new terminal is a $11.6 million investment. Combined with the other improvement projects, that means more than $19 million in improvement at RRA since 2013 and into 2016.

The new terminal was designed by Reynolds, Smith & Hills (RS&H) with architectural expertise from Architectural Resources Inc. of Hibbing. Construction manager-at-risk is Hibbing-based Max Gray Construction, which let 18 bid packages and oversees all subcontractors. All but two subcontractors are from the region, noted Germolus.

“That’s something we are really proud of,” he added. “We like being able to say that all of these dollars are going to support local laborers and companies. It’s nice to see it being invested in the region.”

The new terminal will be more than double the size of the former terminal — a jump from 8,900 square feet to more than 20,900 square feet. With more space, the facility will be able to better accommodate passengers and offer more amenities.

The floor space and design will be much more convenient, said Germolus. That will include restrooms and vending machines within the passenger holding room, which wasn’t the case before.

“We used to have to have people step out (of the holding room) and then have to have them come back through screening,” he said. “This will eliminate that inconvenience.”

The holding room will also be much larger than before — an increase from 35 seats to 100 seats. For comparison, the temporary terminal has roughly 70 seats.

Two of the biggest improvements will be the addition of a passenger boarding bridge and a return luggage carousel. That means passengers will no longer have to walk outside to get on the plane, and won’t have to rummage through bags out on the sidewalk.

“The No. 1 question we get is if we’re getting a passenger boarding bridge,” said Germolus. “Everyone seems to be intrigued by that. After walking across the ramp in snow and rain and ice for so many years, it will be a huge difference.”

The new structure is also anticipated to result in some increased efficiencies, despite its larger size. New boilers, in-slab heating and air handling an air conditioning units should prove more economical.
“We will be installing upgrades from the past, so we should be looking at some cost savings,” he said. “Although we will be larger, we’re optimistic that we will be very close to achieving efficiencies due to what we added.”

The interior design will be reflective of the Range region and Northern Minnesota.

“The design team has gone to great lengths to provide a very local feel utilizing local materials,” said Germolus.

That will include using stone from area mine pits, exposed steel columns to represent the mining industry, installing metallic tile of local colors, and terrazzo flooring of white to represent the snow and ice with a blue center to represent rivers and lakes, among other accents.

Free-form glass panels embedded with blades of grass will be hung near the screening area, and a large stone fireplace with an LED insert will be built. A few of the wildlife trophies — the moose and bear, for sure — found in the former terminal will also welcome airport users in the new terminal.

“We’ll also have a modern look with all of the reflective blue glass windows, which allows a lot of natural light inside,” said Germolus.

Watching the new terminal take shape has Germolus and CHAA directors excited about the growth of the airport and what it may mean for the future. He thanked airport visitors and passengers for their continued support during this construction period.

“I was apprehensive about whether people would continue to come out here and support us knowing that we’re working out of a temporary terminal, but they have and we’re very appreciative of that,” said Germolus. “We know it’s not the ideal set up, but it hasn’t seemed to have affected business.”

He noted that enplanements are up about 3 percent this year at this time as compared to last year.

“We are doing our best to accommodate, and it’s neat to see how they are coming out here and feeling like they are part of the process,” he added.

The other question Germolus often gets is whether RRA will be getting any flights above and beyond its current 12 round trips a week. He said that Sky West continues to serve the airport well, as does Sun County with its flights to Laughlin every so many weeks.

“The airline will continue to offer its flights, and we will continue to work with both the airline and with passengers,” he said.

Original article can be found here:

Apache helicopter from Fort Drum loses dummy missile over Upstate New York

Has anyone seen a stray missile? The Army is asking the public for help finding a dummy missile lost Friday morning during an Apache helicopter flight from Fort Drum in northern New York to this weekend's air show at Stewart International Airport in the lower Hudson Valley. 

FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- An Apache helicopter flying from Fort Drum lost a non-explosive dummy missile Friday during a flight to Stewart International Airport in New Windsor, Orange County, according to Army officials.

The 100-pound inert missile was lost between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Friday, and still had not been recovered as of 5 p.m., the officials said.

The missile had been attached to an Apache helicopter with Fort Drum's 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, part of the 10th Mountain Division assigned to the Northern New York Army post.

Fort Drum officials described the missing missile as an M36 Captive Flight Training Missile that is not explosive or motorized, and therefore poses no risk to the public. It is usually attached to the helicopter to simulate the weight of a missile during flight.

"It's not even something the pilot can drop from the helicopter," said Julie Halpin, speaking for Fort Drum. "It's just there for weight."

Fort Drum officials are appealing for the public's help in locating the missile. Anyone with information is asked to call their local police agency or the 10th Mountain Division Operations Center at (315) 772-6324.

The missile, painted with the words U.S. Army, has a length of 64 inches and a width of 7 inches. It simulates the Hellfire guided missiles that Apache helicopters can use in combat.

Halpin said the Apache helicopter and its crew traveled from Fort Drum to Stewart International Airport to take part in the New York Air Show this weekend.

It was the second accident Friday in advance of the air show. A pilot was killed at about 2 p.m. Friday when his Giles G-202 plane crashed while practicing for the show at Stewart, state police said.

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Activist seeks emergency help for SkyGreece Airline's stranded passengers

The Canadian Transportation Agency is being asked for an emergency order to protect and compensate stranded passengers of SkyGreece Airlines, which ceased operations on Thursday after more than a week of disrupted service.

A claim filed Friday by passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs says the federal agency has broad powers and should use them now to protect an estimated 1,000 passengers affected by recent flight cancellations by SkyGreece Airlines.

Lukacs is calling on the agency to order SkyGreece to rebook its stranded passengers on other airlines within 24 hours and put up $8.7 million of security to cover passenger claims.

The agency didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. But on its website, it said unused tickets may be eligible for refunds from travel agencies, credit card companies and travel agencies in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

Quebec's consumer protection agency said passengers from the province who purchased their flights from a licensed travel agency can be reimbursed for returning flights and costs such as accommodation and food. It has appointed accounting firm Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton to manage such claims and help passengers return to Canada.

Messages to SkyGreece were not returned. The company said in a news release that the flight disruption was due to technical issues and financial setbacks resulting from the Greek economic crisis that took place shortly after it launched scheduled international service in May.

"Unfortunately, as a result of recent technical issues, the company is now facing a system-wide, multi-day delay and significant additional expenses."

The company didn't specify what technical issues it was experiencing. However, it said that a European regulation governs the rights and method of claims for cancelled flights operated by SkyGreece Airlines SA.

SkyGreece also called the flight cancellations a temporary situation, with operations expected to resume soon.

The owner of a Toronto travel agency that specializes in travel to Greece said she's struggling to help people who have called seeking one-way flights out of that country.

"It's pretty chaotic," Fotoula Kakagiannis of National Travel Service said, adding that there is limited space on the flights that are available and prices were rising.

"The ones that have kids all want to be back next week and that's a tough task at this point."

SkyGreece initially paid for hotel rooms in Greece, but passengers were told Thursday that support would end, Kakagiannis said.

The airline was founded in 2012 and started operations in 2014 with one plane, which is now parked at Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

Lukacs said in his filing that SkyGreece's main asset is its only plane and passengers would be left without any remedy if the airline is allowed to dispose of the aircraft.

SkyGreece is headquartered in Athens, Greece, a member of the European Union. But in his application to the Canadian Transportation Agency, Lukacs says the company is registered as a Quebec corporation and owned or controlled by Canadians.

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Lost Nation Municipal Airport (KLNN) receives $787,000 in federal funding

Applying for improvement grants for the first time in about 20 years has paid off for the Lost Nation Airport.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced Aug. 28 that the airport received $787,612 in federal funding awarded by the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration.

Lake County, Ohio, Port and Economic Development Authority Executive Director Mark Rantala called the funding another step forward for the revitalization for the airport.

Of the total awarded, $394,812 will be used for rehabilitation of runway 5/23, which is the longer of the two runways and runs northeast to the southwest. An updated master plan and a wildlife hazard assessment will be funded with the other $382,800.  

The grant also requires a 10 percent matching local grant, which will be covered by the Authority through airport operations.   

“It takes care of long-needed upgrades to the facility,” Lake County Commissioner Daniel P. Troy said.

The airport, which previously belonged to Willoughby, transferred over to Lake County and the port authority on Oct. 8, 2014.

Willoughby had declined to request FAA airport improvement grants since at least 1996 because receipt of such funding comes with a requirement to keep an airport open for the next 20 years.

Last December, an Automated Weather Observation Station was installed at the airport to help with safety and Rantala said the runway rehabilitation will help further improve that safety.

Rantala said bids and contracts have already “lined up and ready to go” an anticipation of receiving the funding and is expecting the runway repairs to be completed in October.

The master plan is expected to take longer, several years, and will be the first time the plans have been updated since 1999.


Cirrus SR22, N1116C, Hard Times LLC: Fatal accident occurred August 27, 2015 near Shelby County Airport (KEET), Alabaster, Alabama

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Birmingham FSDO-09

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA330
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, August 27, 2015 in Alabaster, AL
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N1116C
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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On August 27, 2015, about 1906 central daylight time, a Cirrus SR22, N1116C, was destroyed when it impacted trees and terrain while on the final leg of the traffic pattern at Shelby County Airport (EET), Alabaster, Alabama. The airplane was owned by Hard Times LLC and operated by a private individual. The private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the personal flight. The flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight originated from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM), Birmingham, Alabama, about 1830. 

According to witnesses, the airplane was flying "very low" on the final leg of the traffic pattern and then it descended "straight down." In addition, it sounded like the airplane was having "throttle issues," and the engine noise "just stopped."

According to first responders, after impacting the ground, a postimpact fire ensued, and the ballistic parachute system rocket was seen and heard launching out of the wreckage a few minutes after the impact.

The main wreckage was located about 1700 feet from the approach end of the runway on the extended centerline. The airplane impacted several trees that were approximately 40 feet tall prior to impacting the ground. The airplane came to rest in a nose down attitude about 10 feet from the initial tree strikes. A postimpact fire ensued, which partially consumed the wings, fuselage, and empennage. All components of the airplane were located in the immediate vicinity of the wreckage. In addition, control continuity was established from all flight control surfaces to their respective cockpit controls through impact fractures and separations.

The engine remained attached to the fuselage and exhibited thermal damage near Cylinder No. 2. The propeller was impact separated from the crankshaft at the propeller flange, and exhibited chordwise scratching, tip tearing, and leading edge gouges on the blades.

The engine was retained for further examination. In addition, the Avidyne primary flight display, multifunction display, and DFC 90 Autopilot were retained and sent to the NTSB Recorders Laboratory for data download.

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

John Gary Wyatt 

John Gary Wyatt of Vestavia Hills was identified as the victim in a deadly plane crash from last week. Wyatt died after his personal aircraft, a Cirrus SR22, crashed into a field in Shelby County.

The 38-year-old husband and father of two was also president of Wyatt General Contractor LLC, a Birmingham-based firm. He grew up in the Birmingham area and was a member of Hoover High School’s first graduating class.

After graduating from Hoover High School, Wyatt studied business at Samford Univeristy, where he was head cheerleader for three years and was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, a student teacher in the Spanish lab and a member of Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity.

Wyatt received his instrument pilot certification at 19 years old, and flying was one of his passions. He also enjoyed the outdoors and was a certified scuba diver.

Wyatt was a deacon at Briarwood Presbyterian Church, where he and his wife, Mary, were active in the Sunday school. At the time of his death, Wyatt was pursuing a Masters of Divinity degree at Birmingham Theological Seminary. Wyatt was also actively involved in his community and was recently selected to participate in Leadership Vestavia Hills.

The Wyatt family has established a scholarship at Samford University in Wyatt’s honor. To contribute to the “John Gary Wyatt Leadership in Business Scholarship,” contact Randy Pittman at Samford University at 726-2331 or

Services will be at Briarwood Presbyterian Church on Sept. 2 at 2 p.m. Visitation with the family will begin at 1 p.m., and Senior Pastor Dr. Harry Reeder will officiate the service. A burial will follow at Southern Heritage Cemetery.


A Vestavia Hills husband and father of two has been identified as the victim in a deadly plane crash in Shelby County last week. 

Shelby County Coroner Diana New today identified him as 38-year-old John Gary Wyatt. New said Wyatt's identity was confirmed through dental records.

His Cirrus SR22 crashed in a field about 7 p.m. Thursday. FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the aircraft departed from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport and was on approach to the Shelby County Airport. The crash site – a cleared field just south of the runway – is located just behind the Central State Bank in Calera.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were in Shelby County Friday to document the scene, collect evidence, inspect airport data and interview witnesses, said NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway. A cause of the crash has not yet been released.

The plane is registered to Hard Times LLC in Wilmington, Del., according to the Federal Aviation Administration records. That same plane also was involved in another Alabama crash, that one happening in Jasper in 2011. There were no injuries in that crash.

According to NTSB records, the pilot in the 2011 crash was conducting a touch-and-go landing on an asphalt runway. After a normal landing, he added full power for takeoff, and the airplane veered to the left. The pilot attempted to correct with right rudder, and also pulled back the throttle; however, the airplane departed the left side of the runway, and impacted the ground near a drainage ditch. The airplane's right main and nose landing gears separated, and the right wing was substantially damaged.

Examination of airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector did not reveal any mechanical malfunctions; nor did the pilot report any. The pilot reported that the weather at the time of the accident included light wind from about 160 degrees at 4 knots, and light rain.

Wyatt graduated from Hoover High School in 1995, where he was a wrestler, a member of the Student Government Association, captain of the marching band's percussion session and a member of the school's jazz band, according to his obituary.

After high school graduation, Wyatt attended Samford University where he was head cheerleader for three years. After graduation, he served the president of Wyatt General Contractors , a trustee of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and a deacon at Briarwood Presbyterian Church.

At the time of his death, Wyatt was pursuing a Master's of Divinity at Birmingham Theology Seminary. He also was a certified foster parent through the Alabama Baptist Association, according to his obituary.

Flying was his passion, a hobby he started when he was 19. He leaves behind a wife and two young daughters. Services will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Briarwood, with visitation beginning at 1 p.m.

CALERA, Ala. (WIAT) — Authorities are trying to piece together information after the Shelby County plane crash that occurred on Thursday evening. 

Federal investigators with the NTSB are on the ground in Calera inspecting the plane crash wreckage.

FAA spokesperson Kathleen Bergen said the Cirrus SR22 crashed on approach to the Shelby County Airport.

Much of the aircraft was destroyed by fire, according to Bergen.

Calera police confirmed that one person was killed in the crash.

NTSB spokesperson Keith Holloway says an investigator on the scene is documenting the aircraft and collecting as much of the perishable information and facts that are available at this point and time.

She will be checking to see if there are any air traffic control communications, witness statements, or radar data related to the crash, according to Holloway.

He says no they are just fact gathering and no cause will be determined or stated at this point and time.

They expect to have a preliminary report possibly as early as next week.

Shelby County Coroner Diana Steele New said the name of the pilot who was killed will not be released until the results of an autopsy confirm the person’s identity.

CALERA— The Calera Police Department has confirmed one fatality in a plane crash near the Shelby County Airport behind Central State Bank on Shelby County 87.

“It’s pretty bad. It’s a bad crash,” said Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley. “It is our understanding at this point that the plane was attempting to land.”

The crash happened shortly after 7 p.m. when the single-engine plane crashed in a field slightly south of the airport’s runway, and burst into flames after contacting the ground.

Police have not yet released the victim’s name, and have not yet determined if the pilot was the sole occupant in the aircraft.

About an hour after the crash, smoke filled the air near the crash site while paramedics and crews from the Calera Fire and Police Departments, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the Alabaster Police Department worked at the site. Responders had the perimeter roped off, and the FAA was en route to investigate the crash site.

“At this time, we are securing the scene and holding it for the FAA,” Lemley said.

Lemley said several people in the area witnessed the crash, and many stopped and rushed to the crash scene in an attempt to rescue the pilot.

“We did have several (good) Samaritans that rushed in just to check and see if there was anything that they could do. It is appreciated that people did stop to try to help,” Lemley said.

One of witnesses who rushed to the scene was Alabaster resident Max Brown, who was driving on Shelby County 87 minutes after the plane burst into flames.

Brown said he called 911, and dispatchers informed him rescue crews had already been dispatched to the scene. He said one of the plane’s wheels had rolled north of the crash site toward the airport runway, leading him to believe the plane was attempting to approach the runway from the south.

“I saw a big plume of smoke, and I originally thought the (Central State) Bank was on fire,” Brown said. “When I realized it was a plane crash, I pulled over hoping we could help someone. But there was nothing we could do.”

- Source:, GA News Weather

SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — One is dead after a fiery plane crash near the Shelby County airport.

The crash occurred on 9th Street off Highway 25 in Calera.

The pilot was the only passenger on the plane, and the aircraft was destroyed by fire during the crash landing.

According to the FAA, around 7 p.m., the Cirrus SR22 aircraft crashed in a field while on approach to Shelby County Airport in Alabama from the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

Max Brown, a witness, said, “We thought the bank was on fire because we saw nothing but black smoke. We got up a little closer and we seen the fire in the woods, and realized there was an airport here so we knew it was a plane down. So we went on up the road a little piece and ran through the woods and by the time we got up there, my buddy was screaming, ‘There’s a man in the seat! There’s a man in the seat!’, and I never could see him because the flame was getting bigger until I guess the seat belt must have burned in too, and when he fell over is when I saw the man.”

Calera and Alabaster Police are both on the scene.


SHELBY COUNTY, AL (WBRC) -  Calera police have confirmed one fatality after a plane crashed near the Shelby County Airport, behind Central State Bank on Main Street in Calera.

Officials on scene have not confirmed if anyone else was on board. The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) is on the scene and has begun its investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will arrive on Friday to conduct its own investigation.

It happened just after 7 p.m. Thursday.

Pictures and video shared with us show flaming wreckage in a field.

WBRC FOX6 Meteorologist J-P Dice reports that this was a Cirrus SR-22 whose pilot was practicing "touch and go" approaches, which when a pilot practices landing on a runway and taking off again without coming to a full stop.

Two witnesses said they saw the smoke from the plane and ran to see if they could help. Evan Slaughter said he actually saw the plane crash. He said it appears the plane was trying to land.

"Our first thought was, 'Did somebody survive this?' You know, chances are probably not because of how bad the impact was but that was our first instinct, was, 'Let's get over there and see if anybody had survived it,'" Slaughter said.

Max Brown described the scene when they came closer.

"We got probably 30 to 40 feet from plane and it just started burning bigger and bigger real fast, my buddy kept screaming, 'There's a man in the seat, a man in the seat!' But I didn't believe him until flames started burning, burning," Brown said.

Brown said he saw the pilot for himself. He said this is something he will never forget. Slaughter offered his prayers for the pilot's loved ones.


A plane went down in Shelby County this evening in a fiery crash, killing one person aboard.

Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley confirmed there was one fatality in the single-engine plane crash, which occurred shortly after 7 p.m. just south of the runway at the Shelby County Airport.

FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said a Cirrus SR22 aircraft crashed in a field while on approach to Shelby County Airport in Alabama at about 7 p.m. The aircraft was destroyed by fire, she said.

She said she will leave it up to local authorities to release the victim's identity, and said after that is done she will release the aircraft registration information.

The flight departed from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport and was on approach to the Shelby County Airport. The crash site – a cleared field just south of the runway – is located just behind the Central State Bank in Calera. The bank was not affected by the crash, the manager said, and no one was inside at the time of the crash.

Witness Max Brown, who drove up to the crash shortly after it occurred, said he saw black smoke and initially thought the bank was on fire.

"We got up closer and saw the fire in the woods, and I knew it was a plane,'' he said. "I jumped out of the truck and ran over as close as I could get to try to help, but by the time I got there, the fire was too hot to get close. You could clearly see the figure of a man in the flames, and all we could do was sit and watch from a distance. It was sad. I wish there was more we could've done."

Traffic became congested along Shelby County Highway 87 south of the airport after the crash, and multiple people stood near the bank and watched firefighters extinguish the flames.

Lemley said the investigation will be completely turned over to the FAA. FAA officials were not yet at the crash site at 8:45 p.m.


NTSB Identification: ERA11CA123
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, January 24, 2011 in Jasper, AL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/08/2011
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N1116C
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

According to the pilot, he was conducting a touch-and-go landing and takeoff on an asphalt runway that was wet from a light rain. After a normal landing, he added full engine power in an attempt to takeoff. The airplane veered to the left and in response, the pilot applied right rudder and retarded the throttle. The airplane continued off the left side of the runway and impacted the ground near a drainage ditch. The airplane's right main and nose landing gears separated and the right wing was substantially damaged. A postaccident examination of airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed no mechanical malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation; the pilot additionally reported that there were no malfunctions.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's loss of directional control on a wet runway during takeoff from a touch and go landing resulting in a runway excursion. According to the pilot, he was conducting a touch-and-go landing on an asphalt runway oriented 090 degrees. After a normal landing, he added full power for takeoff, and the airplane veered to the left. The pilot attempted to correct with right rudder, and also pulled back the throttle; however, the airplane departed the left side of the runway, and impacted the ground near a drainage ditch. The airplane's right main and nose landing gears separated, and the right wing was substantially damaged. Examination of airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector did not reveal any mechanical malfunctions; nor did the pilot report any. The pilot reported that the weather at the time of the accident included light wind from about 160 degrees at 4 knots, and light rain.