Friday, September 25, 2015

Where Your Garage Is A Hangar And The Runway's In Your Backyard: Snapshot Of A Wyoming Airpark

Jack and Marion Schulte in front of one of their planes.

Many of us begin our day by watching the garage door open.

It’s creaking sound usually doesn’t mean anything special: time for another morning commute, or maybe some yard work if it’s the weekend. But for Jack Schulte, the sound of the garage door opening inspires brings up far less mundane feelings.

“It makes me ready,” he says. “To break the surly bonds of gravity.”

A floor inlay in one of the Alpine Airpark resident's personal hangar.

Shculte’s garage is as big as some houses; big enough to park his two small planes. It would look bizarre in Casper or Cheyenne, but it is normal at the Alpine Airpark community, where homes frequently cost more than a  million dollars and come with a parking spot for your plane. “Airpark” is the most common name for a planned community built around private aviation, and here in Alpine flying is as casual and relaxed as a Sunday drive. And the safety check is a good yell to get everyone out of the way.

While homes at Alpine's Aipark can run into the millions, these hangar apartments are only about $800,000.

Schulte says he flies every day that weather allows, and I can see why: we go for a late morning cruise, and the rolling forests and craggy mountains below us are breathtaking.

Jack Schulte looks over his neighborhood during a quick morning flight.

After a while Jack’s wife, Marion, gets on the radio to give us the OK to come back down, checking air traffic and the automated weather. From her upstairs balcony, she’s the flight controller for the whole town.

“When a plane comes in I can tell them what the winds are doing. But typically I am just saying hello, and welcome,” she says. “People love it because where on earth do you fly into an airport and people say ‘hey! good to have you back!”

Some homes at the aipark actually incorporate the hangar into the house.

Marion’s also a realtor at the airpark, and she says the community has grown from seven homes in 2007 to more than seventy today. People come from all over the country, and the world to live in Alpine Airpark--Marion herself is originally from New Zealand. Usually over sixty retired, and wealthy enough to afford the Jackson real estate market, they come together over a shared passion for all things flight.

Stan Dardis and his wife Sharon built their Alpine home after moving to Wyoming from Minneapolis.

Stan and Sharon Dardis

“I honestly [thought] I had good friends,” Stan says. “Until I discovered coming to Alpine Airpark. These are truly good friends. We don’t care what we have done in the past. We talk about what our common interests and values are now.”

Wyoming’s Alpine airpark has only been around for the last decade or so. But airparks have been a fixture in the U.S. since World War II, when hundreds of thousands of men picked up the skills--and for some, a passion for piloting planes. Some of those men built airparks to keep it up after the war. There are about 600 airparks in the US today.

Ben Sclair's father gets into his 1973 Beechcraft Baron at their Washington State Airpark home. 

Ben Sclair grew up on one of the country’s older airparks, in Washington state.

“I grew up flying airplanes. I guess I don’t remember learning to actually fly an airplane. I just started at a very young age, my dad saying: ‘here hold this. Keep the wings level, and go that direction.’”

Sclair also runs the website Living With Your Plane, which has information and real estate listings for airparks across the country. He says the airpark that he grew up on, and most others, are a lot less ritzy than the one in Alpine. “Until I was six or seven we lived in a double wide manufactured home,” he says. “We had a hangar, and a double wide.”

Jack Schulte surveys his lawn.

Sclair says  business has been good for airpark realtors of late. But, he says, the survival of airpark communities like Alpine’s faces an uphill battle. The rising cost of small planes, fuel, insurance, and pilot training has meant the number of private pilots in America has been dropping by about five to ten thousand every year since its peak in the 1980s.

Jack Schulte admits there are a lot of gray hairs around. He’s sixty-six and didn’t start learning to fly until his fifties. But, he says being able to wake up and fly every day keeps him young.

“For me it's a dream come true. At this stage in my life to have something that gives me so much enjoyment and satisfaction is a great blessing.”

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Is the de Havilland Otter a dangerous plane?

As news broke earlier this month of a floatplane crash of near Iliamna that killed three passengers and injured seven others, some observers turned their attention to the plane.

The Sept. 15 crash involved a single-engine de Havilland Otter DHC3, a model that's seen a series of high-profile crashes in recent years.

In 2010, an Otter crashed into a mountain north of Dillingham, killing former Sen. Ted Stevens and four of the eight other people aboard.

In 2013, all 10 people aboard another Otter died when that plane crashed on takeoff at the Soldotna airport, the deadliest Alaska aviation accident in decades.

Earlier this year, an Otter flying cruise passengers on a flightseeing trip in Misty Fjords National Monument outside Ketchikan crashed, killing the pilot and eight passengers.

And now comes the Iliamna crash -- and with it growing suspicion that the Otter is not only partly to blame for these tragedies, but perhaps even among the most dangerous aircraft in Alaska.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

A survey of the National Transportation Safety Board's aviation accident database between Jan. 1, 1995, and Sept. 15, 2015, yields 21 accidents involving de Havilland DHC3 Otters. Six of those resulted in fatalities, causing the deaths of 26 pilots and passengers.

In the same 20-year period, twin-engine Piper Navajos, a common plane in rural Alaska, were involved in 49 accidents, which together resulted in 16 fatalities. Meanwhile, Cessna 185s were involved in a whopping 168 accidents, resulting in 28 deaths. And the most familiar aircraft of Alaska Bush flying, the Piper Super Cub, was involved in at least 335* accidents, resulting in 36 total fatalities.

What these numbers show isn't so much that one or another plane is more dangerous, but that big, high-profile accidents can powerfully shape our perceptions of risk.

Depending on the seat-to-cargo configuration, an Otter can carry as many as ten passengers, plus a crew of one or two pilots. So while Otters crash far less frequently than other typical Bush planes, when they do, more lives are at risk.

A Super Cub, on the other hand, usually only carries one pilot and one passenger. (There is a modification that can be made allowing a second passenger in the baggage compartment, but it's rare.) So in a fatal Super Cub crash -- there have been eight since 2010 -- only two people at most are killed.

Any fatal plane crash is a tragedy, but these are less likely than larger, deadlier Otter crashes to make headlines -- especially outside Alaska.

Moreover, each of these aircraft is used in different ways, making  direct comparisons impossible. Navajos are typically used by air taxi and commuter operators flying in and out of established airports and airstrips. The Cessna 185s and Super Cubs (the latter are by far the most popular aircraft to own and operate in Alaska) are largely general aviation aircraft, used by guides or private pilots for hunting, fishing and other recreation-oriented travel -- often at off-airport locations such as gravel bars.

The de Havilland Otter has been known for decades as a venerable Bush workhorse in the U.S. and Canada. Dating back to 1951, it became particularly popular on floats for use traveling to hunting and fishing lodges in British Columbia and Alaska. In many ways, the Otter (along with its predecessor, the smaller de Havilland Beaver), is an iconic aircraft and enduring symbol of Last Frontier flying.

A string of high-profile crashes might make it an easy target for those seeking to understand Alaska aviation’s perpetually high accident and fatality records. But the answers to that problem are far more complicated than a single aircraft. Every plane crash in Alaska happens for a specific set of reasons that are unique to that flight. But a glance at the de Havilland Otter DHC3’s accident record shows that the plane is often the least significant aspect of the accidents in which it is involved.

*Because of the NTSB databases’s design, the Super Cub must be searched in multiple ways (such as a PA18, PA 18 and PA-18). Some of those searches turn up overlapping records, while others do not. Based on these conflicting records, at least 335 Super Cub accidents, and possibly as many as 385, occurred during this period. In contrast, the other aircraft with lower accident numbers were easy to verify exactly.

Original article can be found here:

2 including Vietnamese-Australian face fines for removing aircraft life vests

Two Vietnam Airlines passengers, including an Australian national, face fines for removing life jackets on two different flights to Ho Chi Minh City Wednesday.

Hoang Van Pin, a Vietnamese-Australian, was on a flight from Sydney, while Nguyen Thi Bien was flying from central Vietnam.

A carrier spokesperson said the passengers have been left to the Southern Airports Authority to deal with.

“Many passengers do that or steal the vests, which we have to import.

“The action does not only cause us a loss, but can also put the passengers themselves in danger if they happen to tear the vests and need them later.”

A passenger can be fined VND3-5 million (US$132-221) for damaging aircraft assets.

Critics say the penalties should be heavier.


Gary Jet Center sues Gary/Chicago International Airport (KGYY) private operator

A prime tenant at Gary/Chicago International Airport is suing the airport authority and its private operator, alleging they have "unilaterally" quadrupled its rent in a move that could permanently snuff out private development there.

The Gary Jet Center's lawsuit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Hammond, seeking a permanent injunction against airport authority attempts to levy a 1.5 percent fee on tenants' gross revenues at the airport.

"It's just harassment," said Gary Jet Center owner Wil Davis. "It's just unconscionable to think you can go and change someone's lease because you need more money."

When contacted, Gary Airport Director Dan Vicari said he could not comment on the pending litigation.

The Gary Jet Center contends the airport authority and airport operator AvPorts cannot violate its 2007 lease, which has it paying rent for its hangars at a rate of 50 cents per square foot and an additional fee of 10 percent of all revenues collected for the airport. That lease does not expire until 2046.

The Gary Jet Center has three hangars and a passenger lounge at the airport. It is one of two fixed-base operators there, providing services such as fueling, aircraft repair and charters.

AvPorts signed a 10-year agreement to manage the airport in January 2014. Its parent company, Aviation Facilities Company Inc., signed a 40-year agreement to become the airport's exclusive developer.

Just before AvPorts took over airport operations, the Gary Jet Center sued the previous airport authority alleging it schemed to give unfair advantages to a new competitor at the airport. That lawsuit was settled when the airport authority agreed to come up with new airport operating standards, administrate them fairly, and pay the Gary Jet Center's legal fees.

Under its contract with the airport, AvPorts is paid $120,000 per year to operate the airfield. It pays employees wages and other expenses with revenues collected at the airport as well as about $1.5 million per year in property tax receipts from Gary residents and businesses.

Under the contract, AvPorts is due to receive a 15 percent profit incentive fee once the airport's earnings before taxes, interest, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) start to exceed expenses.

Davis said since AvPorts and Aviation Facilities Company Inc. have failed to bring any development to the airport in their first 21 months of operation there, they are now looking to increase fees on existing tenants.

The lawsuit contends if AvPorts actions against the Gary Jet Center are left unchecked, no reasonable business would undertake any large project at the airport.

"They make more money if they get more money from me and it doesn't go to the airport it goes to AvPorts," Davis said.


Ex-Airport Authority official charged with bribery, wire fraud

John T. Howard, Jr.
A former top Metro Nashville Airport Authority official was charged in federal court Friday for wire fraud, money laundering and accepting a bribe stemming from $1.1 million worth of construction, repair and facility cleaning work that was never performed.

John T. Howard, Jr., assistant vice president for the Airport Authority, conspired with Nashville-based contracting and cleaning companies to submit fraudulent invoices for a variety of work, according to the charges. He went on to enter similar arrangements with other contractors.

Among the allegations were that Howard, 44, approved payments to one contractor who, in turn, used a majority of the money to purchase $49,000 in plane tickets for a youth basketball team Howard founded.

Howard worked as the manager of the Metro Nashville Airport Authority Properties Corp., a subsidiary that operates and develops non-aviation properties for the authority.

It appears that Howard has reached a plea agreement, based on a motion filed Friday by the U.S. Attorney's office to set a plea hearing for Oct. 1. Howard resigned from his job on April 11. Howard could not be reached for comment. Howard's attorney Ed Yarborough said his client will not be commenting on the charges.

Howard instructed one contractor to recruit other contractors to submit fraudulent invoices as well, according to the charges. None of the companies involved were identified in court filings, though two of them were described as being certified by the Minority Business Enterprise program.

"These invoices were fraudulent in that contractors submitting the invoices had not in fact performed, overseen, or verified any of the services reflected on the invoices," the filings state.

In total, Howard approved fraudulent invoices totaling more than $1.1 million between 2012 and 2014, according to the court filings by U.S. Attorney David Rivera. Howard agreed that the contracting company would keep a portion of the funds paid out by the Airport Authority. It is unclear from the findings where the majority of the money went.

Howard also asked a company hired to do $8,000 worth of cleaning work for the Airport Authority to buy airline tickets for the youth basketball team he coached. After asking for the airline tickets, the government alleges that Howard directed the cleaning company to send a $57,100 invoice to the Airport Authority, which he approved, and the authority subsequently paid out. A little more than a week later, the cleaning company spent more than $49,000 to buy the airline tickets for the Music City Heat players, coaches and others, according to the charges.

Amid the approval of the fraudulent invoices, Howard deposited $10,500 cash into his bank account, according to the government.

Howard concealed the fraudulent invoices and wire transfers from Airport Authority officials, according to the charges. The Airport Authority is the Metro agency that oversees the operation of Nashville International Airport and the John C. Tune Airport.

"The (Airport Authority) became aware of questionable purchasing practices involving the employee who managed MNAA Properties Corp., the corporate subsidiary that operates and develops non-aviation commercial properties for the airport," MNAA Chief Legal Officer Bob Watson said in a prepared statement. "MNAA reported these concerns to law enforcement authorities. During the ensuing investigation, this individual resigned his position. From the onset, we have fully cooperated with this ongoing investigation, which does not involve any other MNAA employees.

"The Airport Authority requires that all its employees and vendors adhere to the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct.  We greatly appreciate the efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in this matter. We are unable to comment further because of the nature and status of this investigation."

The government is charging Howard with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, receipt of bribe by an agent of an organization receiving federal funds and money laundering. The charges carry a maximum combined prison sentence of 40 years and a maximum total fine of $750,000.

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Union: Allegiant Air pilot fired after St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (KPIE) emergency landing

Allegiant Air fired the pilot of a June 8 flight that made an emergency landing at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport after reports of smoke in the cabin, accusing him of trying to make the airline look bad, the pilots' union said Friday.

Allegiant officials have declined to discuss the firing, which occurred in late July. But the airline told the Federal Aviation Administration in a report that mechanics could find no defect with the plane.

Four passengers and a flight attendant suffered minor injuries evacuating the aircraft via emergency chutes.

Dan Wells, president of the Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Local 1224, said in an interview the firing is unjustified and retaliation for pilots making an issue of the airline's safety in labor negotiations.

"Believe me, the message was intentional and loud and clear: Don't you dare push the safety stuff too far," said Wells, whose union represents the pilots of Allegiant and 10 other airlines.

Allegiant officials did not respond to a request for comment. But the airline has defended its safety record and accused pilots of trying to create a public perception Allegiant is taking shortcuts on maintenance as a means of gaining an advantage in labor negotiations.

The union denies this is so.

The union did not identify the pilot because of confidentiality concerns. The pilot has previously declined requests for comment by the Tampa Bay Times via intermediaries.

On the afternoon of June 8, Allegiant Flight 864 departed St. Pete-Clearwater for Maryland with 141 passengers. Shortly after takeoff, a flight attendant reported "smoke/fumes" like burning rubber, according to a subsequent safety report Allegiant filed with the FAA.

The plane made an emergency landing, deploying evacuation slides.

Mechanics combed the aircraft to identify a malfunction. But the airline told the FAA they were unable to find any problem.

The flight was one of three emergency landings at the Pinellas airport in June and July, and one of the earliest in a string of summer-long incidents at Allegiant that raised questions of airline safety at the low-fare carrier.

A passenger on that flight, Pinellas County resident Claudia Trejo, filed suit against Allegiant last week in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court. The lawsuit said Trejo was injured when she was "trampled by other passengers who were directed down" an evacuation slide by the crew.

Trejo's Pinellas attorney, Peter Tragos, said his client would not comment about the lawsuit.

Wells said the pilot received reports of smoke from several flight attendants and possibly from passengers, though Wells said flight attendants would be considered the most-convincing authority of any report.

"The pilot didn't rely on a report from some nervous Nellie," Wells said. "He confirmed it with multiple people. There is only one thing you can do in that case, which is exactly what he did — evacuate the airplane."

Wells said the management official who fired the pilot was Greg Baden, vice president of Allegiant flight operations. Baden was the pilot of an Allegaint aircraft in July that declared an emergency while trying to land at Fargo, N.D., telling the control tower he was "bingo fuel," meaning he was too low on fuel to land elsewhere.

The tower told him the airport was closed because of an air show, something the tower told the pilot Allegiant should have known beforehand. The airline later said it had been told by the FAA the airport would be open for commercial aircraft.

Allegiant has said the aircraft had 43 minutes of fuel left upon landing and was not actually close to running out. But Baden indicated otherwise to air traffic controllers, according to the recording of his conversation with the tower.

Wells said the firing happened the same day as the Fargo flight.

Baden "fires him by phone," Wells said, "and then he flies and almost runs an airplane out of gas."


Cessna T310Q, N301JA, Celestial Knights LLC: Fatal accident occurred September 25, 2015 near Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport (KICT), Wichita, Kansas

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office: Wichita, Kansas FSDO-64

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: CEN15FA425 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, September 25, 2015 in Wichita, KS
Aircraft: CESSNA T310Q, registration: N301JA
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 September 25, 2015, about 1550 central daylight time, a Cessna T310Q airplane, N301JA, was destroyed after declaring an emergency and subsequent impact with the ground in Wichita, Kansas. The commercial multi-engine instrument rated private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Celestial Knights, LLC and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight and an instrument flight plan had been filed. The flight originated at Wichita Dwight D Eisenhower National Airport (KICT), Wichita, Kansas and was enroute for Centennial Airport (KAPA), Denver, Colorado.

Aaron Wesley Waters

September 26, 1968 - September 25, 2015

Resided in Parker, CO

Aaron Wesley Waters was a great man, amazing husband and father, faithful servant of the Lord and ultimately a hero. Aaron was born September 26, 1968 in San Diego, California to Wesley Grear Waters and Nola Christensen. He was the 4th of 5 children with 3 older sisters and 1 younger sister. He later said it was like having 4 mothers telling him what to do.

At the age of 6, his family moved to Orem, Utah. Aaron loved the scouting program where he earned his Eagle Scout Award. He also loved building model airplanes, flying with his dad, and working his paper route. Aaron's love of flying motivated him to get his private pilot's license at the age of 17. He ran on the cross-country team in high school and graduated from Mountain View High School in 1986. During his teen years, he started a lawn mowing business and discovered his mechanical talents while repairing lawn mowers. He saved enough money to pay for a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served honorably in Sydney, Australia from 1987 until 1989.

Aaron attended Brigham Young University and earned a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering. As an engineer, he worked for Dow Corning in Michigan, Cessna Aircraft in Wichita, Kansas, and the FAA in both Wichita and Parker, Colorado.

Aaron met Kate on a blind date arranged by her aunt and his mother when he was visiting family in Orem. Aaron flew home to Utah weekly from Wichita in order to spend time with Kate. They married on September 1, 2000 in the Salt Lake Temple and started their married life together in Wichita, Kansas where their three children were born.

In 2009, Aaron and his family moved to Parker, Colorado. He started his own company, Aircraft Certification and Systems Engineering, which helped companies meet FAA regulations in mechanical systems.

Aaron's love of flying permeated his personal and professional life. He took cross-country flying trips with his father, helped his dad build his own airplane and shared this love with his family and friends.

Church and family meant everything to Aaron. He loved his children--he played with them, coached their soccer teams, taught them wood shop skills, played games, helped them with their homework, and on and on. Kate and the kids were always his priority. Together, Kate and Aaron created a gospel-centered home. He made sure their family read the scriptures, had family prayer, family home evening and taught his kids the gospel. He dedicated his life to God and family.

Aaron Waters passed from this life on September 25, 2015 in a plane crash. News media called him a hero for the way he was able to maneuver his damaged twin engine Cessna plane away from homes and crash in a wooded area protecting lives and property.

He is survived by his wife, Kate, and three children, Curtis (13), Michael (9), and Kerilynn (7), his parents, Wes and Nola Waters, three sisters, Julie Smith (Wayne), Shelly Brailsford (David), and Jennilyn Woods (Brad). He was preceded in death by his sister, Kerie Jean Waters.

Aaron, thank you for your great example and dedication to family and church. We love and miss you!

A visitation will be held on Thursday, October 1, 2015 from 6:00 - 8:00 PM, at the County Line Road Horan & McConaty Family Chapel, 5303 E. County Line Rd., in Centennial, Colorado 80122. Funeral Service will be held on Friday, October 2, 2015 at 10:00 AM, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 11755 Tara Ln., in Parker, Colorado 80134. The family will be receiving friends and family prior to the service from 9:00 - 9:45 AM. Interment will follow at Golden Cemetery, Hwy. 6 and Ulysses St., in Golden, Colorado 80401.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to the "Aaron Waters Memorial Fund" at any Wells Fargo Bank. The proceeds will go directly to his children. Thank you.

 - See more at:

WICHITA, Kansas – We’ve learned new details about Friday’s deadly plane crash. The Wichita Fire Department has identified the pilot as Aaron Waters of Parker, Colorado. We’ve been taking a closer look into what happened in the moments just before the tragedy.

Wichita Fire chief, Ron Blackwell, says Waters spoke with Wichita airport towers about an unspecified issue. He was given permission to return to the airport, but he didn’t make it back. The Wichita Fire Department is no longer investigating the case, but they are calling him a hero for avoiding several homes.

“We could smell av gas and I knew as hard as that thing hit that nobody survived,” said spectator Pat Knutson.

It’s a sight Knutson will never forget.

Chief Blackwell says before crashing, the pilot made a choice that ultimately saved lives.

“We’re in a densely packed neighborhood here where there are a number of neighborhood structures, had the aircraft hit one of those, the potential loss of life was certainly significant,” Blackwell said.

The fire department continued its investigation Saturday morning on the city’s west side where a Cessna 310 plane crashed into the Cowskin Creek, just yards from homes. The case was taken over by the National Transportation Safety Board.

“I would expect that over the course of the next 48 to 72 hours, they’ll be working to identify aircraft parts, get those labeled and packaged and sent off for analysis,” said Blackwell.

“We’re in the initial stages, so as far as safety record of the airplane we’re looking at all aspects of the investigation the airplane,” said NTSB investigator, Courtney Liedler.. “We’ll be looking at the environment, the pilot. We’re just collecting initial data at this point.”

Although NTSB investigators will be here for a couple of days, they say, it will take some time before we know all the details. They expect to be on scene until Sunday, likely leaving Monday afternoon. Investigators say they’ll release a preliminary report in about seven days once they’re done collecting evidence on scene, but they say it could be six months before the investigations is done.

Aaron Waters, 47, was killed when his plane crashed into a West Wichita neighborhood September 25, 2015. 

Wichita, Kansas — The pilot killed in a crash that narrowly missed several West Wichita homes has been identified by family members as Aaron Waters, 47, of Parker, Colorado.

Waters was the owner and president of Aircraft Certification and Systems Engineering, LLC based in Parker, but spent about 9 years as an engineer for Cessna in Wichita.

According to the company’s website:

“ACSE’s mission is to assist our clients in efficiently and effectively obtaining required FAA Certification of Aircraft Products and to develop safe and compliant design and engineering documentation.” 

Waters had lived in Colorado since 2008, when he reportedly began working for the Federal Aviation Administration as an Air Safety Engineer and had completed numerous training courses with the FAA over the last 15 years, according to his resume.

Friends of the family, who knew him during his time in Wichita, called him a “very talented young man.”

The Cessna 310 he was piloting on Friday afternoon went down just minutes after takeoff. Waters had radioed the tower saying he needed to come back to the airport, but then quickly issued an emergency call.

Witnesses at the scene said they heard what sounded like mechanical problems with the plane, before seeing it crash into a wooded area just yards from a Wichita home. No one on the ground was hurt.

Waters leaves behind a wife and several children.


WICHITA, Kan. -- One person has died after a small plane crashed near a west Wichita neighborhood.

The crash happened around 3:45 Friday afternoon near Cowskin Creek in the area of Maple and Maize Road. Wichita Fire Chief Ron Blackwell said the Cessna T310 took off from Eisenhower National Airport, and the pilot reported trouble.

While in the process of turning around to head back to the airport, the plane crashed behind a home in a heavily wooded area near Cowskin Creek. The pilot was pronounced dead at the scene.

"The aircraft is significantly damaged," Chief Blackwell said. "The scene does include a significant odor of aviation fuel. We've had contact with state environmental officials about that. We feel, at this point, that there is no threat from the fuel."

Donna Stegman is a 737 pilot who witnessed the crash. She was driving in the area when she saw the plane in the air directly in front of her. She said she knew it was going to crash.

"The upper wing was straight up in the air," she said. "It was coming down. He hadn't went completely vertical at that time, but I knew just shortly he would be going down."

Pat Knutson tells KAKE News as soon as the explosion happened, he ran to the crash site.

"I knew it was too late," he said. "It was totally, totally demolished. We looked around and we could see some things, and we knew that there were no survivors."

Knutson said the pilot saved many lives.

"The guy knew what he was doing," he said. "He directed the airplane so that it wouldn't cause casualties to others."

The plane was en route to Colorado. It was built in 1972 and was registered out of Parker, Colorado.

Crews are working to reconstruct the scene. Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board should be on scene Saturday, Blackwell said.

The pilot's identity was not released.

Story, video and photo:

Federal aviation investigators are expected to arrive Saturday morning at the scene of a fatal plane crash in west Wichita.

Wichita fire officials say a Cessna T310Q crashed shortly before 4 p.m. on Friday. It went down in the neighborhood near the intersection of Maple and Maize roads.

The unidentified pilot was killed. He was the only person on board.

Witnesses say the plane did a nosedive straight into a creek between two houses.

 Wichita Fire Chief Ron Blackwell says the crash came within 25 feet of a garage.

"We were very fortunate that that did not happen. We've received witness reports that the aircraft, as it crashed, came straight down, and those things will be determined as the investigation moves forward," he told reporters Thursday.

Blackwell says there was significant damage to the plane, and the debris field is compact.

Blackwell says the plane left the Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport and was headed to Colorado at the time of the crash.

An official with Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport in Wichita said the twin-engine Cessna took off from the airport and crashed southeast of Maple and Maize Road around 4 p.m.

Wichita Police have confirmed the pilot died in the crash. Wichita Fire Chief Ron Blackwell said the man was headed toward Colorado when his plane went down. He has not been identified.

The plane went down in the backyard of a home on Wagon Wheel road just west of Maize Road. Homeowner Amy Martin was not home at the time and said she saw the plane having trouble above, but didn’t know it had crashed until she got home and found it in her backyard.

Martin says the wreckage is scattered throughout her yard in pieces. She says it also took down trees and power lines but didn’t hit any houses.


WICHITA, Kan. - We are continuing to gather details about a plane that crashed in west Wichita this afternoon. 

As soon as the plane went down, around 3:47 p.m., eyewitnesses went to Twitter to say they saw the plane go down.

Wichita Fire Chief Ron Blackwell said the call of the crash came in at 4 p.m. from the 400 block of Wetmore. 

When crews arrived on the scene, they were able to locate the wreckage of a twin engine Cessna 310. Blackwell said only one person was on board, and that person died in the crash.

Blackwell said it was reported that the plane's pilot radioed in saying that there were problems with the plane. He was then told to return to the airport. Upon trying to return is when the plane crashed.

Eyewitness News has confirmed the plane is registered to Celestial Knights, LLC based out of Parker, Colorado.

Anne Meyer reports acting Wichita Police Chief Nelson Mosley and several police captains are out on the scene.

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WICHITA, Kansas — Emergency officials have confirmed to KSN that a twin-engine plane has crashed in west Wichita near Maple and Maize Road with one fatality.

Chief Ron Blackwell, Wichita Fire Department, said the plane was a Cessna T310Q that had just taken off from Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport, but had experienced mechanical problems and was turning around when it went down in the 400 block of South Wetmore St.

Landon Grams, Director of Operations for the Rolling Hills Country Club, told KSN, “I was with members out on the golf course when the airplane flew over us and made a change of sound. At that point, it started to veer off to one side and you could tell that it was losing altitude. A few seconds later, you heard the noise down the street.”

Grams described what he was thinking when he saw the plane descend.

He said, “It was a surreal feeling, knowing that the plane was up in the air and then you knew that it had had a crash landing… when you’re not quite sure what it went into, you just hope that it wasn’t into anybody or anything serious.”

Representatives with Sedgwick County tell KSN News that the only county entities handling the fatal crash are, for right now, dispatchers. County officials say at last report, this crash is under the jurisdiction of the city of Wichita.

KSN crews on the scene are reporting that the plane is down behind a home. We will have more information as soon as available.

Patrick Knutson witnessed the crash and described what he saw:

I was so shocked. The goosebumps ran all over me. I took off running right away to it, and like I said, we could smell avgas and I knew as hard as that thing hit that nobody survived.

The engines were running, and because of the attitude that he was coming in at, he was speeding up the rpm’s making a lot of rpm and it came in, just pow.

I knew it was wrong, the attitude it was coming in at. I knew he was doing it directly. If he would’ve lost power to that engine, to that airplane or something, it would’ve come more straight down. He wasn’t trying to flatten it out. He knew he had a target. He was going right to it. Something went wrong before that, when he started falling out of the sky he looked for a place to hit it and that’s what he did.

Story, video and photo gallery:

Fire Chief Ron Blackwell briefs the media 
Chief Ron Blackwell, Wichita Police Department, briefs the media Friday afternoon from the scene of deadly plane crash. 

Witness describes scene 
Witness Patrick Knutson described what he saw. 'I was so shocked. The goosebumps ran all over me.' 

Scene of plane crash 
 Emergency crews coming from the backyard of a home in west Wichita where airplane crashed Friday afternoon. 

Scene of plane crash
 Emergency officials on scene of plane crash in west Wichita.


Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee, N56897: Accident occurred September 23, 2015 at Elko Regional Airport (KEKO), Nevada

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office; Reno, Nevada 
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida 

Aviation Accident Factual Report -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR15LA266
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, September 23, 2015 in Elko, NV
Aircraft: PIPER PA 28, registration: N56897
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor.

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


On September 23, 2015, about 1328 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA 28/140, N56897, collided with terrain shortly after takeoff from Elko Regional Airport, Elko, Nevada. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot sustained minor injuries, the passenger sustained serious injuries, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The cross-country flight departed Elko about 1326, with a planned destination of Nampa Municipal Airport, Nampa, Idaho. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot stated that he and the passenger had departed from their home field of Kidwell Airport, Cal-Nev-Ari, Nevada, about 0715 that morning. He intended to start the day early, due to the hot weather conditions en route. They stopped at Perkins Field Airport, Overton, Nevada, where they serviced the airplane to capacity with fuel, and then flew north towards Ely, Nevada. Having reached Ely and passed through Ruby Ridge Pass at an altitude of 8,800 ft mean sea level (msl), the engine began to run slightly "rough"; this had never happened before. The pilot adjusted the fuel mixture towards the lean position, the engine smoothed out, and an increase of 200 rpm was observed. He reported that he typically operated the engine at full rich fuel mixture during takeoff and cruise.

Having reached Elko, the pilot serviced the airplane with the addition of 15 gallons of fuel in the left tank, and 10 gallons in the right tank. He specifically did not want to fill the tanks to capacity as they were close to their destination, and he was concerned about performance degradation in the high temperature and elevations. The passenger was in the front right seat, and there were two bags in the back seats, both less than 10 pounds in weight.

He then started the engine about 1320, and the run-up was uneventful. The engine was operating normally and he began the takeoff roll on runway 12, as the other runway (6/24) was closed for construction. He had flown in and out of Elko before, and surmised that the length of runway 12 (3,012 ft), while adequate for takeoff, left him with minimal options should an emergency occur.

The airplane accelerated normally, and shortly after rotation, the controls began to feel "mushy"; He had experienced this before in hot weather conditions. He continued the initial climb, and gently applied control inputs, and anticipated that the airplane would regain a positive climb rate like it had in the past. However, the airplane would not climb more than 200 ft above ground level (agl). Having crossed the street at the end of the runway the airplane began to descend. As the descent continued he flew over warehouses, and he decided to retard the throttle and land straight ahead in a field. Just prior to impact he pulled the yoke aft to reduce airspeed and resultant energy forces. The airplane landed hard in the field, shearing off both main landing gear, and crumpling the fuselage just aft of the cabin.

The pilot reported that at no time did the engine make any coughing or sputtering sounds, and that it kept operating normally throughout.

Witnesses who observed the airplane takeoff all recounted similar observations, as it appeared to be flying slowly after rotation, and did not gain significant altitude. One witness stated that the nose of the airplane was unusually high as it began to descend out of view behind buildings. None of the witnesses observed smoke or vapors emitting from the airplane during flight.


At 1356, the automated surface weather facility at Elko Airport reported wind variable at 5 knots, gusting to 18 knots, 10 miles visibility, temperature at 27° C, dew point -6° C, and an altimeter setting at 30.13 inches of mercury.


The airport was located at an elevation of 5,139.8 ft msl. The closed runway, 6/24, was 7,455 ft long.

Runway 12/30 had a limitation that takeoffs were only permitted on runway 12, and landings only on runway 30. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Facilities Directory reported that runway 30 slopped steeply upwards.

The density altitude at field elevation about the time of the accident was about 7,400 ft.


The airplane was recovered, and examined by the NTSB Investigator-in-Charge, and representatives from the FAA and Piper Aircraft.

The examination revealed that the engine fuel mixture control was in the full-forward (full rich) position. The top spark plugs were removed and examined. All electrodes exhibited "normal", to "normal-worn" out wear signatures, indicative of normal service life when compared to the Champion Aviation AV-27 Check-a-Plug chart. Plugs 1, 3, and 4 exhibited dark grey discoloration and sooting, and plug 2 was coated in black soot consistent with "carbon fouled" when compared to the Champion chart.

No mechanical malfunctions or failures were observed during the examination. A full examination report is contained within the accident docket.

Airplane Performance

The airplane performance chart located in the Piper Pilot's Operating Manual, defined that at a gross weight of 1,950 pounds, with zero wind, flaps 0, on a paved level and dry runway, and a density altitude of 7,000 ft, the takeoff distance would be about 1,550 ft; with a distance to clear a 50 ft obstacle of about 3,300 ft. At the maximum gross weight of 2,150 pounds, the takeoff and clearance distances increased to 1,700 and 3,600 ft respectively. A notation on the chart stated, "EXTRAPOLATION OF CHART ABOVE 7,000 FT IS INVALID".

The "Operating Instructions/TAKEOFF" section of the operating manual was found in the airplane, and made the following recommendation,

"NOTE: Mixture full rich except a minimum amount of leaning is permitted for smooth engine operation when taking off at high elevation."

Lycoming Engines Service Instruction No. 1094D "Fuel Mixture Leaning Procedures", dated March 25, 1994, made the following recommendations,

"For 5,000 ft density altitude and above or high ambient temperatures, roughness or reduction of power may occur at full rich mixture. The mixture may be adjusted to obtain smooth engine operation. For fixed pitch propeller, lean to maximum RPM at full throttle prior to take-off where airports are 5,000 ft density altitude or higher. Limit operation at full throttle on the ground to a minimum."

NTSB Identification: WPR15LA266
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, September 23, 2015 in Elko, NV
Aircraft: PIPER PA 28, registration: N56897
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On September 23, 2015, about 1328 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA 28/140, N56897, collided with terrain shortly after takeoff from Elko Regional Airport, Elko, Nevada. The airplane was registered to, and operated by, the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot sustained minor injuries, the passenger sustained serious injuries, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The cross-country flight departed Elko about 1326, with a planned destination of Nampa Municipal Airport, Nampa, Idaho. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot stated that he and the passenger had departed from their home field of Kidwell Airport (1L4), about 0715 that morning. They stopped at Perkins Field (U08) for fuel, and again at Elko for fuel just prior to the accident. The pilot reported that the engine run-up was uneventful, and they departed on runway 12, because the longer runway (5/23) was closed for maintenance.

Shortly after getting airborne, the airplane did not maintain a positive rate of climb. The pilot reported that this had happened in the past on hot days, so he continued to make small control corrections in anticipation of the airplane gaining altitude. However, once it reached about 200 ft above ground level, the airplane began to sink. After crossing over an adjacent highway and a group of warehouses, the pilot decided to retard the throttle and perform a forced landing into a field.

Justice of the Peace Richard Hill

ELKO -- A Searchlight judge and his son were injured Wednesday when their plane crashed near Hot Springs Road.

Richard Hill, the Searchlight justice of the peace, was flying his Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee when its "engine experienced a power loss" during takeoff, said Elko Regional Airport Director Mark Gibbs.

Hill had taken off from Runway 12/30, which runs parallel to Mountain City Highway. Shortly after, he crashed at 1350 Hot Springs Road. Gibbs said the plane fell about 2,600 feet.

The crash was reported at 1:28 p.m. and the Elko fire and police departments, Elko County Ambulance, Mountain West Aviation and Sheriff Jim Pitts responded to the scene, Gibbs said. The National Transportation Safety board and the Federal Aviation Administration are "on scene and conducting an investigation," he said.

The plane crashed about 100 yards east of the homeless camp, between the railroad tracks, said Elko Fire Chief Matt Griego. It came to rest about 25 yards from the tracks. The plane had a minor engine fire, but city crews from the waste water plant used an extinguisher to put out the flames, he said. The city crew was near the area when the crash occurred.

The fire did not extend into the brush, but one of the fuel tanks ruptured and spilled about 25 gallons of aviation fuel onto the ground, Gibbs said.

"We have a specialized firm coming in to remove the earth contaminated with the fuel," he said.

Hill and his adult son, David Hill, were taken to Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital for treatment and spent the night in the facility. The judge was "banged up" and had some bruises and his son had a broken sternum, said Searchlight Justice Court Senior Clerk Leslie Coon.

"His wife, Judy, called and was very upset and distraught but said he is OK," Coon said.

Both men were released from the hospital and will be traveling back to Searchlight, but this time will take ground transportation, Coon said.

Story and photo gallery:

Federal Aviation Administration-Backed Panel Outlines Safety Restrictions for Large Drones • Large drones are likely to need three separate collision-avoidance systems

The Wall Street Journal

Sept. 25, 2015 4:49 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—U.S. aviation experts have laid out preliminary standards intended to eventually permit large drones, such as those used by the military and border-patrol officials, to fly in domestic airspace alongside jets and general aviation aircraft.

Though they are many years away from becoming final, the tentative technical requirements envision that three different types of anticollision protections will be mandatory on the largest and most advanced unmanned aerial craft, some of which have the wingspan of a Boeing Co. 737 jetliner.

The ultimate goal is to allow such drones to routinely climb from takeoff to operating altitudes—sometimes higher than commercial jet traffic—while a pilot on the ground is able to rely on onboard systems to see and avoid any potential airborne conflicts. But extensive testing and technical analyses remain to be done before that can become a reality.

The Federal Aviation Administration faces escalating pressure from industry and would-be drone users to quickly open up at least a tiny portion of the nation’s airspace for operations of small commercial drones. Within months, the agency is expected to issue final rules spelling out how unmanned vehicles weighing less than roughly 55 pounds and staying below 500 feet will be able to fly commercially, though probably only during the day and within sight of a human operator.

The FAA and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration also are working together to develop operational limits and concepts for drones of various sizes.

But when it comes to larger unmanned aircraft, senior FAA officials for years have stressed the agency will move slowly and cautiously in allowing them into U.S. airspace. Preliminary standards covering those categories of drones, released earlier this week, provide the first clear outline of what major operational restrictions ultimately might look like.

The FAA told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that the preliminary standards “constitute a basis to start validation studies with NASA and give feedback on the document. We expect final approval sometime next year.”

The draft safeguards include conventional airborne collision-warning systems currently mandatory on all jetliners and business jets, called TCAS, which alert pilots about dangers and automatically issue commands for avoidance maneuvers.

The second level of protection is anticipated to be precise navigation and pinpoint location technology, called ADS-B, which forms the basis of proposed satellite-based air-traffic control upgrades slated around the end of the decade.

In addition, according to the preliminary standards, top-of-the-line drones will need a separate suite of sensors connected to onboard radar intended to identify and avoid small manned aircraft or other unmanned vehicles that may not be equipped with sophisticated collision-avoidance technology.

The specifics were released earlier this week by RTCA Inc.,the FAA’s primary adviser on technical standards and emerging technologies.

The thrust of the recommendations indicate “significant unity of purpose” throughout the aerospace industry to make progress on developing safety rules, according to George Ligler, co-chairman of the panel that made the draft standards.

Paul McDuffee, the other co-chairman, said the extensive safeguards are appropriate for the largest drones because “they don’t have to overcome the same kind of weight and size limitations” affecting smaller unmanned vehicles.

RTCA experts working on the issue also disclosed that modifications are planned for TCAS systems, with the goal of making them more effective in spotting unmanned aircraft and preventing collisions involving drones.

During a meeting of RTCA’s policy-making committee on Tuesday, air-safety experts stressed that technical issues are still in flux and subject to the outcomes of anticipated flight tests. For example, Don Walker, a high-level FAA manager, told the panel the agency has no plans currently to issue binding technical mandates covering any of the TCAS changes under review.

Original article can be found here: