Sunday, August 30, 2015

Business magnet: Spruce Creek Fly-In home to several aviation service firms

Pahan Ranasingha stands Monday in the hangar of his building at Avionics Installations at the Spruce Creek fly-In in Port Orange, Florida.

PORT ORANGE —With more than 600 flying machines based at the Spruce Creek Fly-In, it's no wonder several aircraft businesses choose to call it home.

With a 4,000-foot runway as the community's centerpiece and about 13 miles of taxiways leading to homes — some where you can almost slide out of the cockpit into your dining room — the gated community is one-of-a-kind and a natural fit to aviation businesses that have discovered the benefits of a home-grown customer base.

The land under the Port Orange-area community was originally a U.S. Naval Air Force training facility during World War II, but after the war ended the property was left vacant and it attracted vagrants and teenagers looking for a party spot.

A group of five investors became interested in the property back in the late 1960s and decided to purchase it in the mid-'70s with the intent to create an airplane-friendly community. Another developer, Jay Thompson of Thompson Properties, bought the Spruce Creek Fly-In when it was for sale in the late '80s.

Now, the once-abandoned air park has become a haven for what residents call "toy enthusiasts," and that concentrated interest makes for a business niche like no other.


Pahan Ranasingha, owner of Avionics Installations Inc., opened up his firm in 1991 and works out of a Fly-In hangar on Cessna Boulevard.

Since that time, the firm's seven employees have had a constant stream of work at the two Fly-In commercial hangars he owns. So much so he was running out of space, but since the taxiways prevent a build-out, Ranasingha hired local contractor Mike Ceralosi to custom build an office inside the hangar that would still allow planes in.

Ceralosi came up with a design to make the office space at 212 Cessna Blvd. look like part of the fuselage of an old Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet and anchored it to the wall diagonally — 16 feet off the ground and out of the way of his employees.

Ranasingha, who incorporated his digital avionics, navigation and communication installation company in 1993, says being at the Fly-In has been the perfect location for him, in part because of his proximity to other aircraft machinists like Michael Collier, who operates an aircraft composite construction firm called Fibercraft in the Fly-In, across the taxiway from Avionics Installations.


Collier employs five workers who work with composite materials to build experimental aircraft, many of them one-of-a-kind. Case in point: one mock-up he and his crew designed included a fishing dock.

Collier started his business in Oregon in 1999. He relocated it to the Fly-In in 2012. The location just made sense, he said.

Most of my customers travel along the East Coast and the Fly-In is more convenient for them, he said.

In addition to building machines and kit planes from scratch and making body modifications, Collier has added inspections to the list of services offered. But before each of those inspections is made by Collier's company, Federal Aviation Administration rules state they have to be spick-and-span.

Enter Talon Rayne.


Rayne started a detailing business in the Fly-In two years ago when he realized all aircraft had to be cleaned before each annual inspection and every 100 hours of flight as part of the FAA's maintenance and safety regulations. While there is no rule against cleaning your own plane, it's a time-consuming process, which gave Rayne the idea to open up shop in the community.

Rayne's company, Aerodyne Detail LLC, cleans, polishes and restores aircraft and business has been booming. His firm takes care of more than 150 aircraft on a revolving basis, but it didn't start out easy.

Rayne went to school to get his license to become an aircraft mechanic a few years back. Since it takes at least three years to become certified to do inspections on aircraft and his mechanic work wasn't exactly taking off, Rayne said he was keeping his eye out for other avenues to keep the bills paid and he came across the FAA inspection regulation. He said that was the catalyst for deciding the Fly-In would be his niche.

At the time, since money was pretty tight, getting into the community to start his business was a leap of faith.

"When I got there I didn't know anybody," Rayne said. "It was kind of a roll of the dice to get in there and really see if I could make the business successful."

But now that he's spent time in the Fly-In, "Now it's happening," Rayne said. "We get new customers every month. It just keeps growing and growing."

Commercial space or hangar space can be rented at the Spruce Creek Airport or you can be mobile. But while you don't have to own property within the super high-security community to do business there it certainly helps. Rayne says having that network surrounding him where he lives is the main reason his firm is so busy.

"We know each other more than the average community does," said Rayne, who said that while 90 percent of his detailing work is done within the confines of the community, the other 10 percent is done at large air shows like the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada, and the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where he follows his clients.

"We're supporting people that are our neighbors," he said.

"Being inside Spruce Creek (Fly-In) really does lend a lot to your credibility," Rayne said.

On the other hand, "You've really got to bring your A-game if your going to be doing business in there," he said. "People will just basically ignore you if you're no good."

Rayne said he has customers bring him airplanes to detail from as far away as New Hampshire and considers that an honor and gauge of his success.

"If you're doing business and you're doing business well inside the Creek, then you're doing alright," he said.

Original article can be found here:

As an air traffic controller in the 1990s, I had to close down the airport due to bird activity --Tri Ratina Manandhar, former director general of the Civil Aviation Authority Nepal

An official at the Tribhuvan International Airport aiming at a bird.

August 30, 2015

On October 9, 1996, a Thai Airways Flight 312 bound for Bangkok narrowly escaped a major mishap when it slammed into a group of vultures during take-off from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). The Thai pilot acted very calmly and continued with the predetermined take-off procedure. Once the Airbus 330-600 had stabilized in the air, he turned around and made an emergency landing at the TIA. The jet was carrying 228 persons including the crew. The passengers were unharmed. However, five dead vultures were recovered from the impact site, and one of the aircraft’s engines was severely damaged, requiring it to be grounded for several days.  The incident was front-page news in The Kathmandu Post. ‘Thai jet survives major mishap’, the headline screamed. One American passenger named Matt Carpenter even got the entire crew to sign autographs on a copy of the newspaper.  

Adamant birds

Bird hazards are a constant threat at the TIA, especially from September to November. During those months, earthworms come out of the grass seeking warmth and die on the runway. This attracts vultures that come to feed on the abundant supply of earthworms. There used to be landfill sites, garbage dumps and uncontrolled commercial activities close to the runway which attracted birds, creating a great nuisance for flight operations. I was one of the air traffic controllers (ATC) on duty that day and I vividly remember the intense bird activities around the TIA. All the available techniques and resources had been deployed to scare away the birds, and helicopters were even requested to hover over the runway. The airport’s fire hoses were also used to drive them away. But the vultures were very adamant. They would fly a short distance before returning to the runway.

An Indian Airlines (IA) flight from Delhi was inbound even as the airport was encountering intense bird activities. The pilots opted to land despite the warnings of the ATCs. Fortunately, the landing was safe. After landing, the upset IA pilots requested us to get rid of them before their next flight. It was very unfortunate that they did not know about the ground team’s enormous efforts to keep the runway clear.  

Timid authorities

About half an hour after the IA flight landed, Thai Flight 312 requested clearance for takeoff. The ATC informed the pilots about the severe bird activities around the airport. Since Thai Airways was very particular about maintaining their schedule, they decided to depart in spite of the precarious bird activities. It was evident that the ATC was not comfortable with issuing a clearance to Flight 312. During such difficult circumstances, junior ATCs usually seek their supervisor’s help to deal with the situation. The supervisor had to take over and started giving authoritative instructions to the pilot though the airport was not closed.

Recalling that incident from almost 20 years ago and trying to figure out why the supervisor did not stop the Thai flight and left everything to the pilot, I think there were several reasons behind his decision. The first reason was obviously the dominant nature of Thai Airways and their link with the higher authorities. Second, the IA flight had landed safely just half an hour earlier. Third, and may be most importantly, there was no history of the airport being closed as a result of bird activity. In addition, the ATCs were known for their humility when dealing with pilots. As the investigators of the crash of PIA Flight 268 in 1992 had also noted, “Nepalese ATCs were timid and reluctant to intervene in what they saw as piloting matters.”

Setting a precedent

A year after the Thai incident, I was working as the supervisor at the control tower. There was high level of bird activities around the TIA, and I was feeling a bit apprehensive as I recalled the Thai incident. As usual, all the efforts to scare away the birds failed. In the meantime, there was an Aeroflot flight inbound from Moscow. The Aeroflot aircraft was informed well in advance about the hazardous bird activities at the TIA. The ground team was struggling hard to shoo away the birds before the plane arrived, but all their efforts were in vain and bird activities became even more intense. They reached an alarmingly critical level as the Aeroflot flight was nearing Kathmandu.

I consulted my seniors about closing down the airport, but no one wanted to be involved in taking such a decision. Ultimately, I took the unprecedented action of closing down the airport. The Aeroflot jet circled over Kathmandu for a few minutes and then headed for Delhi as there was no sign of improvement. The next day, the Aeroflot flight landed in Kathmandu with its Delhi-based senior executive officer on board. As soon as the aircraft landed, he headed straight to the general manager of the TIA to submit a formal letter asking for compensation for the loss caused by the flight’s diversion. I was immediately summoned by the general manager and asked to explain my actions. I had a very tough time convincing them as nobody made an attempt to understand the real circumstances. I did feel very sorry for closing the airport. However, my decision had been right and it set a precedent.

Over the last several years, there have been significant improvements in the TIA’s Air Traffic Control system. The Licensing and Rating system has been introduced and the ATCs are paid a fair compensation in terms of Rating Allowance and Stress Allowance. All those positive changes have helped to improve the confidence and morale of ATCs. Most importantly, as far as safety is concerned, ATCs have high professional confidence and do not hesitate to intervene and use their authority when the situation warrants it. Bird strike problems at airports are universal in nature and not unique to the TIA. Even though every possible technique is employed to prevent bird strikes, a number of incidents are reported every year.

Manandhar is a former director general of the Civil Aviation Authority Nepal

Original article can be found here:

Cirrus SR22, N765CD: Fatal accident occurred August 30, 2015 near Kewanee Municipal Airport (KEZI), Illinois

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA W. Chicago-DuPage (NON Part 121) 

NTSB Identification: CEN15FA388 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, August 30, 2015 in Kewanee, IL
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N765CD
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators 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 30, 2015, about 0918 central standard time, a Cirrus SR22 airplane, N765CD, registered to private individuals, collided with terrain shortly after takeoff from the Kewanee Municipal Airport (EZI), Kewanee, Illinois. Of the three occupants, the private pilot and 1 passenger sustained fatal injuries and 1 passenger sustained serious injuries. The flight was being conducted under the provisions of Federal Code of Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed throughout the area of the accident and an IFR flight plan was placed on file with a 10 minute void time prior to takeoff. The flight was originating from EZI with an intended destination of Hot Springs, Arkansas.

There were no direct witnesses to the accident and no distress calls were received. According to Flight Service, the pilot called prior to takeoff to file an IFR flight plan. He was given clearance to takeoff with a void time of ten minutes to activate the flight plan. Local residents reported foggy conditions and low cloud ceilings about the time of the accident. The surviving passenger who was seated in the rear seat reported that the airplane took off, went quickly into the clouds. She stated that it did not feel as if the airplane was "going up." She looked up, saw the ground approaching, and the impact occurred. 

The accident occurred in a planted soybean field, approximately 1.5 miles west of the Kewanee airport. The wreckage was located at a position approximately 0.5 miles west of the intersection of North 400th Avenue and East 2250th Street and approximately 250 feet south of the North 400th Avenue.

An examination of the main impact site and energy debris path revealed that the airplane impacted terrain in an approximate 45 degree nose down, right wing low attitude, on a heading of approximately 130 to 140 degrees. The debris field extended to the east approximately 260 feet from the initial point-of-impact on a heading from 080 degrees to 110 degrees. The main wreckage came to rest on a heading of approximately 190 degrees.

An examination of the impact scars and wreckage debris revealed that the right wing tip struck the terrain at the western end of the debris field. The right wing tip scar was the initial point-of-impact. All subsequent debris measurements are approximate from this point. Propeller cuts, dirt clumps and an impact depression were noted in the soft soil from 38 feet to 45 feet. The separated propeller was located at 55 feet. The right cabin door was located at 65 feet. The right wing tip and aileron was at 67 feet. The upper engine cowling was at 72 feet. The CAPS enclosure cover was at 75 feet. The lower engine cowling was at 78 feet. The left cabin door was at 120 feet. The main wreckage was at 160 feet. The engine was at 185 feet. The parachute was stretched out on a heading of 110 degrees to approximately 240 feet. The CAPS D-Bag and rocket motor was at 260 feet.

The forward section of the roof and the windshield were separated from the fuselage. Impact damage was noted on the roof structure directly above and adjacent to the mounting location of the CAPS activation handle and holder. The CAPS activation handle was found out of the activation handle holder. The activation handle holder bracket was bent aft. Impact damage was noted on the activation handle and on the exposed activation cable. CAPS safety pin was located on the ground under the main wreckage. 

The CAPS was found deployed and the CAPS rocket motor propellant was expended. The CAPS rocket motor, rocket lanyards, incremental bridal, D-Bag, suspension lines, riser, rear harnesses and both front harnesses had been extracted from the aircraft. The rear harness remained snubbed. Both reefing line cutters remained in place and both had been activated. The parachute was separated from the D-Bag and was found stretched out from the main wreckage on a heading of approximately 110 degrees. The slider was at the base of the canopy. Packing folds were present on the canopy. 

The rocket motor, lanyards, incremental bridal and D-Bag were located approximately 20 feet beyond the end of stretched out parachute. The CAPS launch tube, rocket igniter, exhaust shield, and base, remained attached to FS 222 Bulkhead. The retention straps for the D-Bag remained in the enclosure compartment. The CAPS access panel (#CB7) exhibited Impact transfer marks from the left front harnesses 3-point link. The CAPS enclosure cover was located approximately 20 feet south of the debris path at a point approximately 75 feet from the right wing tip ground scar. An impact transfer mark, consistent in size and dimension to the top of the CAPS rocker motor, was noted on the inside surface of the cover, on the "strike plate." 

On site observations of the CAPS system showed that the system was not activated in flight. All of the on-site evidence correlated to a CAPS deployment due to impact forces. Additionally, the surviving passenger stated that she heard a discussion between the pilot and passenger seated in front. She stated that the front seated passenger had reached up for the CAPS handle, and the pilot said that "we were too low."

The aircraft was recovered and more detailed examinations of the airframe and engine were conducted in a secure hanger located at Kewanee Airport. The results of these examinations will be included in the final report.

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

TOULON — The victims of a plane crash west of Kewanee on Sunday had flown to the area to attend a family inurnment ceremony Saturday.

Local family members confirmed Monday that Steven Murray, 67, Houston, Texas, was the pilot of the small private aircraft that crashed after leaving the Kewanee Municipal Airport.

Murray, his son Mark Murray, 38, and daughter Samantha Murray, 40, had flown in last week to attend a family memorial service.

Steven and Mark Murray were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash on Sunday by Henry County Coroner David Johnson.

Samantha Murray was transported by ambulance to OSF St. Luke Medical Center in Kewanee before being transferred to OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria.

She sustained a broken arm, cuts and bruises, and remains in stable condition.

Steven’s father, Dr. Haydn H. Murray of Bloomington, Ind., passed away in February. With local ties to the community, the family held the inurnment ceremony for Murray in Elmira Cemetery.

Murray was born in Kewanee and married his high school sweetheart, Juanita Appenheimer. He became a world-renowned geologist and was a longtime professor of geology at Indiana University.

Steven and his children attended the service Saturday and visited relatives in the Toulon area before leaving for home Sunday morning.

Steven is the nephew of Dorothy Schmidt and a second cousin to Doug Murray, both of Toulon.

The plane crashed around 9:35 a.m. in a soybean field 2 miles west of the airport on Galva Township Road 400N. A nearby farmer heard the crash and called authorities.

Responding were the Henry County Sheriff’s Department, District 7 Illinois State Police, Galva police, Bishop Hill and Galva fire departments, Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Stark County Ambulance Service.

Rural roads in the vicinity were closed to traffic while the crash was being investigated Sunday.

The crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration. 


UPDATE: A woman is now listed in fair condition after a deadly plane crash. It happened Sunday morning in a field outside of the Kewanee Municipal Airport in Henry County. 

Steven Murray and Mark Murray, a father and son, were pronounced dead at the scene. Another family member Samantha Murray, 40, was taken to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center with an arm injury, cuts and bruises. Samantha Murray’s 41st birthday is reportedly September 1st.

The National Transportation Safety Board is wrapping up its investigation Monday into why the small plane crashed. An autopsy on Steven and Mark Murray is scheduled for Tuesday in Peoria.

ORIGINAL:  Two men are dead and a woman is in the hospital Sunday after a plane crash.

Police say it happened just before 10 o'clock Sunday morning.

A small plane crashed in a field outside the Kewanee municipal airport in Kewanee, Illinois.

The Murrays were in town for a family gathering when something went terribly wrong.

"They were leaving this morning from the Kewanee airport and they were going to go back to Texas," said David A. Johnson, Henry County Coroner.

Johnson said when he arrived on scene 67-year-old Steven Murray and 38-year-old Mark Murray, a father and son, were pronounced dead at the scene.

Another family member, 30-year-old Samantha Murray was taken to an area hospital with an arm injury, cuts and bruises, but later airlifted to a hospital in Peoria. Her condition is unknown at this time.

Authorities on scene say that North 40th avenue, where the crash happened will remain closed, as the National Transportation Safety Board completes their investigation Monday morning.

Then the aircraft will be taken to a secure location, where they will look further into what caused the crash.

“It's really no different than a larger aircraft it's just on a smaller scale so they do the same procedures to figure out what the cause is and what caused the aircraft to go down,” Keenan Campbell, Director of Bureau County Emergency Management.

On Tuesday morning, an autopsy will be conducted for Mark and Steven Murray in Peoria.

A father and son from Houston, Texas, were killed Sunday in a plane crash west of the Kewanee Municipal Airport.

The crash of a Cirrus SR22 aircraft occurred at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Steven Murray, 67, and his 38-year-old son, Mark Murray, were pronounced dead at 12:45 p.m. by Henry County Coroner David A. Johnson.

Another passenger, Samantha Murray, 40, who is believed to be Steven Murray's daughter, was taken to Kewanee Hospital for treatment, and then airlifted to OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Mr. Johnson said. The group was visiting the area for a family gathering and took off from the Kewanee airport Sunday morning to head back to Texas, he said.

The Bishop Hill Fire Department and Illinois State Police responded to the crash, as well as a representative from the Federal Aviation Administration from Chicago. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will lead the investigation, Mr. Johnson said.

Original article can be found here:

Kewanee: Two Texas residents were killed when a small plane crashed in rural Kewanee Sunday morning.

Emergency crews were dispatched to the scene shortly after 9:30 a.m. when a local resident reported the accident.

Pronounced dead at the scene at 12:45 p.m. Sunday by Henry County Coroner David Johnson were Steven Murray, 67, and his son Mark Murray, 38, both of Houston, Texas.

A third victim, Samantha Murray, 40, was transported by ambulance to Kewanee’s OSF St. Luke Medical Center and then air-flighted to a Peoria hospital.

Johnson said Samantha Murray, also of Houston, sustained injuries to an arm.

The plane’s wreckage was in a soybean field two miles west of Kewanee Municipal Airport on 400N.  

Johnson said the three victims had been in this area for a family gathering over the weekend and were returning home.

The plane had left from the Kewanee airport prior to the accident.

Illinois State Police Officer Steve Icenogle said a nearby farmer heard the crash and saw a cloud of smoke. He found the downed plane and called authorities.

Responding were the Henry County Sheriff’s Department, District 7 Illinois State Police, Bishop Hill and Galva fire departments, Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Stark County Ambulance Service.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials from Chicago were expect to arrive later in the afternoon to assist with the investigation, as were representatives of the National Transportation Safety Board in Colorado, who were due to arrive late Sunday night.

Emergency personnel remained at the scene throughout the day and closed the area off to local traffic.  


HENRY COUNTY, Ill. (KWQC) – Two men from Texas were killed and another woman, also from Texas, was injured when their small plane crashed this morning between Bishop Hill and the Kewanee Airport at North 400 Avenue and East 2350 Street. 

According to Henry County Coroner, David Johnson, the crash happened before 9:30 a.m., Sunday, August 30, 2015. Johnson arrived on scene around 12:30 p.m where he said 67-year-old, Steven Murray and 38-year-old, Mark Murray were pronounced dead at 12:45 p.m. Johnson said he believed the two were a father-son pair from Houston, Texas.

The third passenger, 40-year-old Samantha Murray was also from Houston, Texas, Johnson said. She was taken to a hospital in Peoria and is being treated for an arm injury.

Johnson said they had been in the area for a family gathering, and just taken off from the Kewanee Airport to return home when the crash happened.

The Federal Aviation Administration from Chicago is on the scene along with the Bishop Hill Fire Department and the Illinois State Police. Johnson said the National Transportation Safety Board is also expected to arrive from Colorado tomorrow to assist with the investigation.

Crews are asking for people to stay clear of the area as it is being investigated.

Original article can be found here:

Henrico County man jailed for lasering police plane

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Michael Pollock, 52, could face hard time for taking aim at a police plane over the weekend.

Officers were on routine patrol, flying near Parham and Interstate 64 when they say the Henrico County man lasered the plane.

“It was a laser pointer. One of those almost like a pen that you just point and aim,” explained Henrico County Police Lieutenant Chris Eley.

That bright beam of light can be dangerous. It can distract or even blind pilots as they fly overheard.

Nothing happened this time, but police reacted quickly to pick Pollock up.

“The pilot called up the ground units and they came and found him and took him into custody. Turned out he did the same thing the night before with a different pilot,” explained Ely.

Pollock’s charged with two misdemeanors for intentionally pointing a laser at an aircraft.

He denied our request for an interview from jail.

However, the suspect’s mother, who was at home with her son when this happened, told 8News Pollock made a poor choice.

She added he is devastated by the repercussions.

Unfortunately, this dangerous trend of is a growing problem across the country.

There have been more than 2,700 laser attacks already this year.

The judge denied bond for Pollock, but his cases in Henrico County are the least of his problems.

There’s a good chance the FAA could file felony charges against him which ultimately might mean up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

Michael Pollock (Source: Henrico Police Dept.)

Civil Air Patrol provides eyes in the sky, boots on the ground

Long before he could ever get behind the wheel of a car, Mason Gooden was learning to fly airplanes.

The 16-year-old Barren County High School junior began taking flight lessons when he was 10, and his flight instructor suggested he check out the Civil Air Patrol.

The Civil Air Patrol began one week after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. In 1946, President Harry Truman signed a law incorporating the CAP as a benevolent, nonprofit organization. Two years later, the CAP became a permanent auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force with three missions: aerospace education, cadet programs and emergency services. The Bowling Green-based Southern Kentucky Cadet Squadron, which Mason is a member of, trains young people 11 to 21 years old in leadership skills, survival, team work, first aid and community volunteerism. The senior squadron here focuses on air operations.

Mason is a cadet second lieutenant but aims to be a cadet colonel, the highest rank he can achieve in a cadet squadron. Gooden has been a CAP member for four years. He has his eyes on the U.S. Air Force Academy and hopes one day to be a fighter pilot.

He is one of 38 members of the Southern Kentucky Cadet Squadron. The squadron just this spring assisted with relief efforts after Louisville floods, assisted in the search for a missing hiker in Red River Gorge and helped search for a missing aircraft in Shawnee National Forest.

“There’s something for everyone in Civil Air Patrol,” said Cory Felts, commander of the Southern Kentucky Cadet Squadron.

While it is an auxiliary of the Air Force, it is not a military recruiting ground, Felts said. Instead, it’s a way for young people to learn how to get involved in their communities and help others, he said. Statewide, there are 609 CAP members; all are volunteers. 

“I don’t push for them to go into the military,” said Felts, a first sergeant for the Nashville-based 118th medical group of the U.S. Air Force. “My preference is that they enter college so they can get a skillset to give back to their communities and state. 

“Those that want to go into service, we support them and point them in the right direction, but it is not something that we push. From our unit alone, we just had one former cadet who went to the Naval Academy and is now an ensign attending flight school in Florida, and his youngest sister who just graduated from high school just entered her first year at the Naval Academy in Annapolis.”

There are three types of squadrons within the CAP nationally; a cadet squadron with primarily cadets, a composite squadron that is a blend of cadets and seniors and a senior squadron of senior members who primarily focus on air operations.

Bowling Green boasts two squadrons, the cadet squadron led by Felts and a senior squadron led by Ted Seaman.

Seaman of Scottsville is a retired Miami police officer and is also retired from a career in military intelligence in the U.S. Army.

“In the military you are there to serve your country,” Seaman said. “All of a sudden, you are retired and you have nothing to do. You sit around, and you get bored. This gives you an opportunity to still serve the community, feel useful and utilize the skills developed over a lifetime to benefit the community.”

The CAP senior squadron in Bowling Green is 57 strong and made up of military retirees, commercial pilots, airline pilots, doctors and other professionals.

The average person may not notice their presence, but during last year’s snow and ice storms, CAP pilots and their crews were flying over power lines to report breakages to power companies, and they flew over roads looking for stranded motorists to report to police agencies so help could be sent. CAP volunteers assist in 90 percent of all search-and-rescue operations in the country in which aircraft are used. CAP cadets volunteer at the Mini Corvette Challenge and Thunderfest providing parking assistance. They also volunteer their time for other community events. 

Last summer, when boater Melissa Trent went missing after the boat she was in toppled over Greencastle Dam, CAP volunteers flew over the river day after day in an effort to find her. Trent was reported missing April 21, 2014. On May 3, 2014, her body was pulled from the Green River in Ohio County.

“From the air you can actually see into the river,” Seaman said.

During flooding, CAP shoots aerial photographs to document damage for Federal Emergency Management Agency response.

Cadet squadrons provide ground support.

“We work in tandem with the air crew,” Felts said. 

For example, if there is a catastrophic communications failure, a ground crew will watch for movements of an air crew such as the tipping of a wing in one direction or another as a signal of where to search for something.

The cadet program offers young people multiple learning opportunities in search-and-rescue skills and aerospace education. Included in that education are powered and unpowered flights and basic summer encampment that is a nine-day basic training to prepare cadets for their CAP volunteer career. Basic training is held at the Wendell Ford Regional Training site in Greenville.

Once a cadet attends the basic camp, he or she is eligible to attend other special CAP camps such as honor guard, Hawk Mountain Ranger School in Kempton, Pa., a hot air balloon academy, National Emergency Services Academy, the Model Aircraft & Remote Control Academy in Kansas and many others.

Brittany Copeland, a Western Kentucky University sophomore who is studying theater arts, has been a member of CAP for five years. She is a cadet commander.

She credits CAP with helping her find her voice.

“I learned a lot of leadership skills, which does help a lot,” Copeland said. “You can work with others as a team or take charge. I’m really shy, but in Civil Air Patrol I can’t be that. I had to overcome that barrier. I’m pretty loud and outspoken now.”

That’s the beauty of the cadet program and one of the most rewarding aspects, Felts said.

“I enjoy watching them grow and who they turn into,” Felts said. “I started in this in 2009. My oldest son A.J. and I were looking for something to do together. I had heard about Civil Air Patrol. I found out when they met and thought, ‘Hey, this is pretty cool.’ My wife subsequently joined as well, and my youngest son Mason when he turned 11 last year he joined. It’s something we enjoy doing. 

“We enjoy watching to see who it is they become. They transform over two years. They go from being a quiet kid to stepping up and doing something,” Felts said.

Ransom Bennett, a senior CAP member who is a chaplain for the cadet squadron here, echoed the same sentiments.

Bennett is a computer technician for Warren County Public Schools and a former pastor.

“I enjoy watching cadets learn how to be leaders to take them through that process,” he said.

Bennett says the program helps students later in life.

“Another component is we train them to be physically strong, mentally tough, to be able to critically think and think outside the box and think quickly and to have a balanced core in themselves that they respect themselves and they respect others,” he said. “I can’t imagine a better employee going into the workforce. We don’t train them to go into the military. 

“The majority go into the workforce and carry those values they were taught into the workplace. If you’ve got someone who is a critical thinker and a quick thinker and a desire to add what they have in the organization, I can’t think of a better group than the Civil Air Patrol to provide that leadership going into the workplace.”

Whether a cadet or a senior member, all enjoy completing a successful mission.

The cadet squadron handed out cleanup kits to people affected by the spring flooding in Louisville. They also went door-to-door in their neighborhoods during the winter snowstorm to check on their neighbors.

When the senior squadron flew over Barren River last year in the recovery effort to find Trent, Seaman felt the CAP was providing some measure of comfort to her family in knowing that eyes in the sky were also looking for her along with rescue personnel on the ground. 

 “I’m doing good things for good people,” Seaman said.

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Fairbanks, Alaska: Man arrested after fight on plane, accused of alcohol importation

FAIRBANKS — A Fairbanks man faces several charges after an altercation on a commercial flight from Bethel to Hooper Bay on Friday, according to Alaska State Troopers. 

Troopers received a report about 4:30 p.m. that Michael Daniel Sunnyboy, 52, had assaulted a fellow passenger during the flight.  

The plane turned around mid-flight and landed in Bethel, where Sunnyboy was arrested and charged with fourth-degree assault, importation of alcohol to a dry area and tampering with physical evidence.

According to the trooper report, Sunnyboy assaulted the passenger and was found with several bottles of distilled alcohol on his person.

A witness saw Sunnyboy destroy the alcohol in an attempt to remove evidence that he was importing it to a dry village. 

Sunnyboy is being held at the Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center without bail.

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Martin Aircraft reports annual $5.2m loss

Jetpack company Martin Aircraft has reported an annual net loss to $5.2 million, as it invests and continues to work on commercializing its flying machines.

The company, listed on the Australian sharemarket, has formed a joint venture with its Chinese cornerstone shareholders KuangChi Science. It has not declared a dividend in the financial year to June 30.

The net loss compared to a $922,000 net loss in the three months to June 30, 2014.

The development company had increased its workforce to 43 by financial year end.

It has undergone a number of significant changes amongst its management and board members.

Martin Aircraft chief executive Peter Coker, who joined the board in October 2014, announced earlier this month that KuangChi Science would develop the facility in China in which to build the jetpacks.

The company had the capability at a Wigram facility in Christchurch to build up to 500 jetpacks a year and that business model would be replicated in China.

Martin Aircraft's target market is "first responders" like police, ambulance and emergency services and the military, commercial uses including agriculture, and personal use.

The flying machine was initially conceived and developed by South Islander Glenn Martin from 1981. Martin resigned from the board on June 2.

Martin was a biochemist, and previously a university student when he began designing his dream jetpack in the early 1980s.

Martin, who chose to move to Christchurch from Dunedin to pursue his "personal jetpack" dream, said at the time the resignation was a personal decision driven by factors including corporate demands such as complying with advice from lawyers on what he said in public.

His reason for founding the company had been to supply himself with a personal jetpack, and he had left Martin Aircraft without achieving that dream.

He no longer has an involvement in running the company. The financial statements show that Martin is he third largest shareholder with a 15.61 percent stake. KuangChi Science has a 22.7 percent stake and No.8 Ventures has a 19.1 percent stake.

The 12th prototype Martin Jetpack has a V4, 200-horsepower engine that drives two ducted fans. Able to lift 105 kilograms, it has been flown to more than 3000 feet but not manned by a pilot.

The vast majority of Cantabrians have never seen one at work.

Based on the latest testing the jetpack will have the capability to fly for over 30 minutes at a speed of up to 74 kilometres and hour and an altitude up to 1000 metres, the company has said.

Late year and this year Martin Aircraft has undertaken a series of capital raisings including from high-net worth investors for developing its "jetpack" flying machine. The company listed in November.

At balance date the company had net assets of $25.8m, exceeding $22.5m of liabilities at that point.

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Giles G-202, N18FJ: Fatal accident occurred August 28, 2015 at Stewart International Airport (KSWF), Newburgh, New York

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA331
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, August 28, 2015 in Newburgh, NY
Aircraft: CORNELL W F/SAHAKIAN J A JR GILES 202 (G202), registration: N18FJ
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 28, 2015, at 1407 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Giles 202, N18FJ, was destroyed when it collided with terrain after experiencing an in-flight separation of the tail section in Newburgh, New York. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The local aerobatic demonstration flight was operating over runway 09/27 at Stewart International Airport (SWF), and was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The purpose of the flight was to practice for an air show routine scheduled to be performed the following day at the New York Air Show. Witness statements and video recordings indicate that the airplane had performed 4 or 5 maneuvers and was about 2 minutes into the routine when the tail suddenly separated from the fuselage. At that time, the airplane was performing an aileron roll while climbing at about a 35-45 degree angle. Several witness photographs showed the tail section twisting toward the right before completely separating from the fuselage. The airplane subsequently impacted a grass field about 1,100 feet south of the runway centerline. Airport personnel recovered the tail section and debris from the north side of the runway, about 1,500 feet northeast of the main wreckage.

The fuselage came to rest on its left side and was heavily fragmented. The right wing separated from the fuselage and came to rest about 30 feet southwest of the main wreckage. The left wing was also separated and found adjacent to the main wreckage. Both wings showed heavy fragmentation of the leading edge, and large sections had fractured and separated from each wing. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the control stick to the both ailerons and the elevator through overload fractures in the rod ends of the push-pull tubes. Continuity was established from the rudder pedals, which had separated from the fuselage structure, to the rudder through overload fractures in the left rudder cable and in the right rudder control horn. The vertical stabilizer, horizontal stabilizer, and elevator remained relatively intact. The structure below and forward of the horizontal stabilizer was found fragmented and separated from the rest of the tail assembly. The rudder and its hinges were found completely separated from the vertical stabilizer.

The engine came to rest partially embedded in soil with both of the wooden propeller blades separated near the hub.

The engine and airframe were retained for further examination. Additionally, three video cameras were recovered from the wreckage and forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Laboratory for examination.

FAA FSDO:  FAA Teterboro FSDO-25

Epoch Times reporter, Holly Kellum (L) and pilot Andrew Wright on August 27, 2015 in New Windsor, New York.  Wright died on August 28th when his plane crashed while practicing for the New York Air Show at Stewart International Airport.

NEWBURGH, New York—Flying with Andrew Wright, the pilot whose plane crashed Friday while practicing for the New York Air Show, was a truly amazing experience. 

I was at Stewart International Airport on Thursday to take pictures ahead of the New York Air Show, when the media coordinator offered to let me ride in one of the aircraft. I of course jumped at the opportunity, and she introduced me to Wright.

Besides being a kind and genuine person, Wright, was an experienced pilot and a patient teacher.

One of the first things I knew about Wright was that he was trying to set a world record for the most number of inverted flat spins, which is when the aircraft is upside down spinning parallel to the ground. He said he had already broken the world record of 81, but nobody from the Guinness World Records was there to witness it, so it didn’t count.

Pilot Andrew Wright next to his Giles G-202 aircraft on August 27, 2015, one day before his plane crashed at the Stewart International Airport in New Windsor, New York,  ahead of the New York Air Show, which he was set to take part in.

His little Giles G202 aerobatic aircraft was one of the most nimble and gravity-defying machines I had ever seen. It was so small, the wind from a helicopter landing nearby sent it rolling, and Wright single-handedly could push it across the tarmac.

The single engine, carbon fiber, monoplane could do things that I didn’t think were possible in the air. We did so many spins and turns, and many other things I can’t remember, sometimes I wasn’t sure which way was up and or down.

Pilot Andrew Wright on August 27, 2015 in New Windsor, New York. Wright died on August 28th when his plane crashed while practicing for the New York Air Show at Stewart International Airport in New Windsor, New York.

The plane had two seats, one in the front for a passenger and one in back for the pilot. Each seat had a steering stick and Wright made the mistake of trying to teach me to fly while in mid air. Needless to say, he gave up after I failed to execute a complete roll.

Flying in the G202 was a leap of faith in many ways. When I first got into the aircraft, I noticed a little sign in front of the seat warning passengers that the plane was not FAA compliant, and something to the effect of “fly at your own risk.”

I asked Wright if people ever saw that and got right back out, and he said most people would have figured it out long before they got in.

I wasn’t sure what to expect once I was all strapped in. He attached a parachute to my back, buckled me in so tight I thought my legs would lose feeling, and then gave me a Ziploc bag to tuck under my parachute strap “just in case.”

Sitting in the front with Wright behind me, I couldn’t see over the nose of the plane to watch where we were going. He couldn’t either, much less with my head in the way, but he said after so many years of flying, he didn’t need to see where he was going.  

Once we were up in the air, I forgot my misgivings and gave myself over to the exhilaration of flying.

I liked roller coasters as a kid, and I think that translated over when I took to the air. Flying with Wright made the Millennium Force seem like a kiddie ride, and I am sure Wright gave me a tame version compared to what he does when he is alone.

He had three cameras attached to the plane: two on the wings and one facing me outside the cockpit. I never saw the footage, but I imagine for most of it I am screaming upside down with my hair standing above my head as we rolled and spun.

When I got back to tierra firma, it was kind of a relief. It was also the start of a very uncomfortable sensation—nausea. At that point I was glad I had missed lunch (Wright probably was too) and fortunately I never needed to use the ziploc.

The side of the G-202 aircraft with the name of the pilot, Andrew Wright, on it on August 28, 2015 at Stewart International Airport in New Windsor.

Just a Hobby

Wright said he had 12 air shows planned this year with the next one being in Atlantic City, NJ on Wednesday.

This was just a part-time job that he did as a hobby; his full-time job was working as chief technology officer doing cyber security for a small company.

He got into aerobatics after his wife, who knew he was interested in flying, took him on an 1.5 hour blindfolded car ride to a glider field in Pennsylvania (they were living in New Jersey at the time). That was when he got hooked. He started flying seriously a few years after that, and the rest is history as they say.

When I learned about his untimely death on Friday, it was shocking and heartbreaking. I had only known Wright for a few hours, but going through an experience like that, it made him feel like an old friend.

It isn’t clear what happened to cause his plane to crash on Friday, but photos show the tail detached from the body as it fell from the sky. 

Onlookers said it looked like he steered the plane away from bystanders before it hit the ground, which doesn’t surprise me. From the little I knew him, he was an upstanding guy. 

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Giles G-202, N18FJ:

Carbon Fiber Airshows 2015 Season Preview

Why the Phoenix Sky Harbor flight-path noise may drive you crazy

It has been almost a year since the Federal Aviation Administration began directing concentrated air traffic over Megan Comstock’s neighborhood, Phoenix’s Woodland Historic District.

But the air traffic still disrupts her sleeping patterns, hampers front porch conversations and drives her to call the city to log complaints.

The FAA altered flight routes last September as part of a nationwide program aimed at boosting safety and reducing emissions. The biggest change, and the one that has drawn the most ire, directs westbound planes leaving Phoenix over historic downtown neighborhoods including F.Q. Story, Willo and Roosevelt.

This surprised residents and ignited a fury that has sent politicians from City Council to Congress on a quest to quell the noise.

Residents of about 500 households in ZIP codes including those areas filed more than 6,300 complaints from September through May.

Phoenix leaders took to the courts. The city has spent at least $295,000 already on a legal battle to argue that the FAA wrongfully changed flight routes, aiming to push the FAA to conduct an environmental assessment with public input about the changes. The city argues that the FAA failed to properly assess the effects of the changes before launching them.

Several of the historic neighborhoods, too, have filed their own petition to recall the FAA’s decision, hiring former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard to lead their charge.

Residents have compared the rumblings overhead to getting bombed, saying that the clamor interrupts conversations and keeps them awake at night.

But a city-commissioned noise monitoring study, and testing completed by The Arizona Republic, shows noise in tested neighborhoods seldom registered loud enough to technically interfere with conversation on an industry-standard decibel scale.

Some sites experienced air traffic loud enough to interfere with telephone conversations, including one spot just north of the state Capitol.

The site with the loudest air traffic on average has always been beneath the flight path, Grant Park, a neighborhood where residents say they have resigned themselves to living with the constant roar of airplanes.

Slightly to the west of Interstate 17, between Buckeye and Broadway roads, residents who previously experienced heavy air traffic are experiencing less because of the change.

No residents in the 85009 ZIP code, which covers much of that area, complained to the city in four years prior to the flight route changes.

What may be stirring widespread frustration about the noise is the grating nature of low-frequency sounds to some, and the inherent biological and psychological impact of new and unpredictable noises.

The unpredictable

Jennifer Longdon can hear a constant whoosh from her porch: Her house in the F.Q. Story neighborhood is about a block from Interstate 10, near the freeway’s 19th and Grand avenues exit.

She compared the sound of passing vehicles to a rushing river. It’s a sound she has come to expect as the natural ambient noise of her block, she said.

As for the airplanes that have made their own highway over her house for nearly a year?

“We still notice every single, freaking plane,” she said.

During a two-hour span on a Friday afternoon in June, The Republic observed more than 30 airplanes pass overhead. At times, they flew over every few minutes. At other times, once about every 10 minutes or more.

Their volumes varied. Some planes didn’t create any more noise than a conversation would, at about 60 decibels, while others rose into the 70s. That’s still below the level that interferes with conversation, which is 80 decibels, but above the level that can interfere with a phone conversation, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Unpredictability of the noise may be one of the most frustrating components of the sound.

Our brains are hardwired to pay attention to new, irregular noises because those sounds signify something in our environment is changing, said Andrew Lotto, an associate professor in speech, language and hearing sciences at the University of Arizona.

This was crucial for the survival of our ancestors — an unexpected noise could mean a lion was lurking in the bushes.

Because we are so attuned to this, the interruption of unpredictable noises makes it difficult for our brains to wholly focus on other tasks.

And if our brains have associated that particular interruption with an emotion, such as anger over new, unexpected airplane noise, it becomes even more difficult.

“You have less resources for other tasks, such as having a conversation,” Lotto said.

When we link an emotion with a sound, we exercise cognitive functions that would otherwise not kick in when that sound occurred. That can make the sound more noticeable, Lotto said.

Think about being at a concert. When the band is playing songs you don’t know, the songs often blend together and become like background sound.

But when the band plays a song you know, you can hear the song more clearly. That’s because you’re using other parts of your brain to process the sound. Your brain is now connecting your experiences with that sound to the sound itself, and allowing you to process those experiences in the moment.

In addition, Lotto said, we are more likely to hear noises if we are actively listening to them, and have preconceived notions about them.

That could help explain why the entire Valley has lit up with complaints even though airport staff have said they don’t think the changes have increased noise Valley-wide and the FAA says the new flight path has a smaller noise footprint than the former.

Phoenix Assistant Aviation Director Deborah Ostreicher said residents are now complaining from places that have experienced no material changes. She said some of the influx of complaints Valley-wide could be driven by a heightened awareness about aircraft noise since the change.

“An airplane that goes overhead, if it has no emotional value, it can just flit through your neurological system,” Lotto said. “If someone already has decided they’re upset about airplane sounds, if it keeps happening, they’re going to build up their emotional response.”

About 1,380 households logged 13,388 complaints about airplane noise from September through May, the most recent month for which The Republic has complaint data.

The year before the flight paths were changed, 52 households complained 469 times.

Some households complain more than others. In the 85258 ZIP code, where Salt River Fields is located, 11 households complained 1,636 times after the changes. In the Carefree-area ZIP Code 85266, three households complained 812 times.

Noise monitoring near that area showed aircraft noise, on average, peaked at 62.6 decibels, which is on par with normal conversation.

“Perception is reality,” said Rob Adams, principal with Landrum and Brown, the firm that conducted the city’s noise-monitoring study. “I’m not going to tell them that they’re wrong.”

The low-frequency rumble

Comstock’s neighborhood, Woodland, carried the record for the single, loudest decibel generated by airplane noise across all of the city’s noise monitoring spots, at 84.4. But that was not the norm for her area or others.

The average of peak noise levels hit by each airplane in Woodland was 63.7, according to city readings.

Inside Comstock’s home, the noise level seldom rose above levels equivalent to a quiet office, according to The Republic’s meter.

That doesn’t capture the whole picture, though.

“There is a disconnect between what you can physically measure and what you psychologically experience,” said William Yost, a research professor and former chair of speech and hearing science at Arizona State University.

Part of the issue is low-frequency sound, which experts say can be the most irritating, but contributes less to the overall loudness of a noise than higher pitches on the industry-standard decibel scale used by the FAA to assess noise impacts.

That’s because the scale was designed to meter sounds that affect human communication. The filter is necessary to block out irrelevant sounds that the human ear does not observe, such as the hum of fluorescent lighting, Yost said.

Low-frequency levels are what rattles Comstock’s windows but slips by the decibel meter like a whisper.

Think about the times when you’re stopped at a light and the car next to you is blaring music with its windows up. You hear the bass notes, and see and hear the entire car rattling — maybe you even feel your windows rattling.

That’s because sound is air movement. The lower the frequency, the more air gets moved.

Single-paned windows will flex under that air pressure and act like an amplifier, said Rod Warembourg, Arizona regional manager with MSR West, a firm that offers technical support for hearing-testing equipment.

Call it the annoyance factor — it might not get loud enough on a standard decibel scale to signal red flags or overshadow conversation but it might get on your nerves so much that you can’t carry on a conversation when it passes through.

The FAA is considering ways in which it can better assess annoyance when it determines potential noise impact, including looking into ways to address low-frequency sounds. The agency said it is also questioning whether its current calculation for noise impact assessment should be altered.

The calculation averages airplane noise over a 24-hour period, with more weight given to nighttime noise.

A change is considered to have a significant noise impact and requires further environmental review if it would increase noise by at least 1.5 decibels in an area that already experiences 65 dB using that calculation.

The FAA determined that Sky Harbor changes would not have significant impact.

Adams said that day/night-level calculation is good at telling how people would react to airplane noise if they’ve lived under the flight routes for 10 to 15 years.

“But it is not good at telling us how people are going to react to new noise,” he said.

Getting used to the clamor

Mary Chou-Thompson and her husband moved into their home in the Grant Park neighborhood four years ago. They knew their house was beneath the flight path before the move, but were surprised by how loud and frequent sounds occurred once they settled in.

Their house shook under the low-frequency waves.

They were, at first, annoyed. But after time — and with the help of a box fan at night for some white noise — the two barely notice the airplane rumblings overhead anymore. It’s part of living in a city with a convenient, international airport, she said.

Chou-Thompson’s neighborhood is still under the flight path even after the changes, and would be if the path were changed back. The city’s noise monitoring observed the loudest average sound level from airplanes over her area compared with all other readings around the Valley.

On average, airplane noise in Chou-Thompson’s neighborhood spiked at 74.7 decibels. Airplanes came an average of every 3 minutes and 25 seconds during a 75-minute period, and the loudest one registered 80.1 decibels.

By comparison, a site in F.Q. Story recorded 29 planes during 2 hours, flying over at an average of every 3 minutes and 15 seconds. The average aircraft rumble peaked at 67.2, while the loudest one hit 76.7 dB, but it was a helicopter.

Chou-Thompson said she understood the plight of Willo, F.Q. Story and other neighborhoods because residents there hadn’t purchased their homes expecting the aircraft sounds. But she also said “it seems a little sad watching this whole thing unfold,” since her neighbors have lived for decades with the noise.

Connie Gandarilla, the secretary of the Grant Park Neighborhood Fight Back Association, and Vangie Muller, the president, grew up in that neighborhood and dealt with increased noise overhead as the airport grew.

They pause phone conversations during flyovers. The pastor across the street stops preaching when planes pass. Outdoor Easter service has been barely audible, they said.

They learned to live with that after the neighborhood made frequent complaints about a decade ago and the city told them it could not fight the FAA.

“After a while, you just learn to stop what you’re doing and let the plane go by,” Muller said. “This is the way of life that we got used to.”

Some residents in another neighborhood that formerly experienced concentrated air traffic hardly noticed it.

Prior to the recent change, the area between 51st and 75th avenues, Van Buren Street and Camelback Road experienced air traffic comparable with F.Q. Story, according to the FAA.

Just four households in that west Phoenix area’s ZIP codes complained over four years.

But planes flew at higher altitudes there, and were spread out over a larger area, so it was likely not as loud as the air traffic over F.Q. Story, Adams said.

Jose Gutierrez, a 35-year-old resident of west Phoenix, said he notices fewer airplanes over his neighborhood than last year. But the constant airplane sound never bothered him, he said.

Patricia Robertson, who lives near 56th Avenue and Monte Vista Road, enjoyed seeing and hearing the airplanes every day. She’s never flown, she said.

The 67-year-old rolled her eyes about the reaction to the new flight path.

“They just need something to bitch about,” Robertson said. “Put the airplanes back over here.”

Legal battle

If Muller lived less than a mile closer to the airport, she would have been eligible to move on the city’s dime through a program that has relocated more than 1,000 families under the airport’s noise wake.

Instead, she had her windows soundproofed and lived with increasing noise after her noise complaints gave her no respite.

Muller and Gandarilla said they’ve walked out of meetings about the flight path change because they are insulted by other neighborhoods’ outrage, and the attention they’ve gotten.

They said the recent action related to the flight path change makes them feel their neighborhood’s voice was not as important. It’s a poor-vs.-rich issue, they said, pointing out that the neighborhoods underneath the new flight path have historically had more influence and wealth than theirs.

Ostreicher rejected that notion. She said the city is fighting the FAA now because it changed flight paths without public input and without participation from city leaders.

The city has helped move people in the airport’s wake, soundproof homes and assure that no new homes would have to endure airport noise, she said.

The FAA’s move cancels out some of that work, because some families who moved away from the old flight path through that program are now living under the new one, Ostreicher said.

Some neighborhoods have asked the city to take action for years against airplane noise, she said. But there was never a new FAA action, such as a unilateral flight path change, that the city felt was unlawful and could challenge, she said.

The goal is to go back to the drawing board and create flight routes with public input before the FAA rolls out its plans to streamline air traffic routes between destination cities nationwide, Ostreicher said.

F.Q. Story resident Longdon said she and her neighbors want to solve the noise problem in a way that improves conditions for everyone. She said they’ve talked about sharing the sound burden, posing the possibility of alternating days of concentrated air traffic with other communities.

“There are elected officials who live in my neighborhood, there are journalists who live here. Folks who have the cellphone number of the mayor and members of the City Council,” she said. “One of the things I’m really proud of is that we’ve made a point of not trying to solve our noise abatement issue on the backs of our neighbors, in communities that may not have the same level of influence.”

How we did it

The Republic purchased a decibel meter to measure noise levels experienced by neighborhoods under the new flight path. The meter measures sound within 1.4 dB of accuracy and meets standards required by agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The Republic measured sound on the A-weighted decibel scale at five houses within ZIP codes with high complaint volumes: 85007, 85003 and 85041. For comparison, we also measured sound at a house in north-central Phoenix that is not under the new flight path.

We took multiple recordings at each site at random times, some indoors and some outdoors, by placing the meter in a secure spot for up to nine hours at a time. When analyzing the recordings, we eliminated the first five minutes of each take to account for any sounds generated by the start-up process or conversation with the homeowner.

The meter was regularly calibrated.

At one location in F.Q. Story, we sat with the meter and noted each time a plane flew overhead for a two-hour period.

We left the decibel meter to record on its own for other instances. While we noticed regular sound-level spikes throughout recording times, we cannot peg those sound events specifically to airplanes. What we can gauge, however, is how loud the homeowner’s surroundings are and how often the noise climbs above normal conversational levels, about 60 dB.

To determine how frequently homeowners hear the airplanes and how loud those airplanes are, we used data from a noise-level monitoring report commissioned by the city. The study monitored 37 sites and linked sound events to specific aircraft.

The city’s results show dB levels similar to The Republic’s results.

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