Saturday, September 26, 2015

Intrigue surrounds plane crash: Cessna 310H, N1099Q, fatal accident occurred September 05, 2015 in Silverton, Colorado

Authorities are investigating an intriguing mystery behind the Sept. 5 plane crash in western San Juan County that killed four people, seeking answers as to why the small plane had gone so far off its intended course and exploring possible links to a methamphetamine bust.

 Members of the San Juan County and La Plata County search and rescue teams at the scene of the plane crash on Sept. 7. The Colorado Army National Guard helicopter that airlifted them to the remote location is in the background. Enlarge photo
Jim Donovan/San Juan County Search and Rescue

Members of the San Juan County and La Plata County search and rescue teams at the scene of the plane crash on Sept. 7. The Colorado Army National Guard helicopter that airlifted them to the remote location is in the background.

The National Transportation Safety Board is expediting its examination of debris recovered from the crash site because of the suspicious circumstances regarding the flight, an investigator said. That examination is being conducted at the NTSB’s Greeley facility.

The flight from Barstow, California, with four California residents aboard, was reportedly en route to Amarillo, Texas. But after refueling at Flagstaff, Arizona, it veered far to the north of its purported flight path.

And among those on board was Steven Wilkinson, 59, of Newberry Springs, California, who was arrested Sept. 1 by the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department in connection with the sale of methamphetamine, being in possession of methamphetamine while armed and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Wilkinson’s previous criminal history includes pleading guilty to possessing an illegal substance with intent to sell in 2008. He also pleaded guilty to possessing illegal drugs in 2003, according to San Bernardino County Court records.

Wilkinson’s latest arrest was part of a large law-enforcement operation conducted Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. The operation also included the seizure of about 11,000 marijuana plants and resulted in charges against 34 people in the Barstow area.

Jodi Miller, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, said Wilkinson posted $50,000 bail Sept. 2. She had no information on the conditions of the bail, including whether or not he was barred from leaving California.

The twin-engine Cessna was owned and piloted by Wilkinson’s father-in law, Harold Joseph Raggio, 72, of Big Bear, California. Also killed in the crash (along with Wilkinson and Raggio) were passengers Rosalinda Leslie, 57, of Hesperia, California, and Michael Lyle Riley, 59, of Barstow.

Law-enforcement officials, including the FBI, refused to discuss the case.

Ron Hamm Jr., operator of Daggett Aviation at the Barstow-Daggett Airport, said he knew three of the people on the plane but did not know Wilkinson.

“I didn’t know the individual. But I knew of him. He was a shady character with a lot of bad history,” Hamm said.

Hamm told the Standard that there is rampant speculation in Barstow as to why Wilkinson was aboard the flight.

“Rumors at the local bars” are that Wilkinson was “either going out there to get money to make a big deal or to help him with his current ‘lawyer stuff’ because of that bust,” Hamm said. “Or he was going to get dropped off and not come back.

Another acquaintance described Wilkinson as someone who “ruled that desert out there with an iron fist.”

Hamm said that Raggio’s wife told him that “he was flying out to have dinner with friends in Amarillo and then coming right back.”

The flight left Barstow at about 7 a.m. It crashed in San Juan County at about 2:08 p.m. Sept. 5, according to the NTSB investigation.

Hamm said he was the one who started the search for the missing plane, flying as far as Flagstaff himself, where he learned the plane had refueled.

The NTSB issued a preliminary report on Sept. 17 saying the flight encountered “instrument meteorological conditions” over western Colorado, but neither of the two pilots aboard was qualified to fly in such bad weather.

The NTSB report indicates the twin-engine Cessna 310H “impacted mountainous terrain at an elevation of about 11,500 feet.”

Weather was partly cloudy in Silverton that day, but there were some rain squalls, and a thunderstorm was reported in the area.

The wreckage was located the next day near the head of Cascade Creek at Grizzly Peak, about nine miles west of Silverton.

Sheriff Bruce Conrad described a path of destruction, with the plane pulverized by the impact.

The preliminary NTSB report points out that the two pilots aboard were not rated to fly a twin-engine plane, and they were not operating on a flight plan.

Additionally, the pilot was not using “flight-following services by air traffic control,” the NTSB reported.


NTSB Identification: CEN15FA400
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 05, 2015 in Silverton, CO
Aircraft: CESSNA 310H, registration: N1099Q
Injuries: 4 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 5, 2015, about 1408 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 310H, N1099Q, impacted mountainous terrain at an elevation of about 11,500 feet mean sea level near Silverton, Colorado, based upon preliminary radar information consistent with the flight. Two non-instrument, single-engine land rated private pilots and two passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces. The airplane was registered to and operated by the registered pilot under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight that was not operating on a flight plan and was not utilizing flight following services by air traffic control. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight last departed from Flagstaff Pulliam Airport, Flagstaff, Arizona. and was destined to Amarillo, Texas.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Salt Lake City FSDO-07

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

An image of the search and rescue operation.

Members of the San Juan County and La Plata County search and rescue teams at the scene of the plane crash on September 7. The Colorado Air National Guard helicopter that airlifted them to the remote location is in the background.

The location where Harold Raggio kept his Cessna 310H.

Beech C35 Bonanza, N1990D: Accident occurred September 26, 2015 near Alexander Municipal Airport (E80), Belen, Valencia County, New Mexico 

NTSB Identification: CEN15LA436 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 26, 2015 in Belen, NM
Aircraft: BEECH C35, registration: N1990D
Injuries: 4 Uninjured.

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 26, 2015, about 1245 mountain daylight time, a Beech C35 airplane, N1990D, experienced a loss of engine power and made a forced landing to a dirt road near Belen, New Mexico. The pilot and three passengers were not injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to 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 at the time of the accident and a flight plan was not filed. The flight originated from the Alexander Municipal Airport (E80), Belen, New Mexico, about 1220. 

According to the responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the airplane's engine lost power and the pilot made a forced landing to a dirt road about 1 mile north of E80. During the landing roll, the pilot maneuvered to avoid a pot hole and collided with bushes. The airplane spun 180 degrees and came to rest upright next to the road. 

The airplane has been retained for further examination.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Albuquerque FSDO-01

A plane crash in Belen carrying some Boy Scouts ended with no injuries. 
According to Valencia County Sheriff Deputies, a  Beech C35 plane crashed around noon Saturday.

VCSD say the plane went down at the north end of Greer road.

According to deputies the plane was carrying the pilot and three Boy Scouts at the time of the incident.

Police say there were no injuries reported. The cause of the crash is not known at this time.

No names or ages of the passengers have been released.

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BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – Valencia County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating a small plane crash near the Belen airport Saturday.

The sheriff’s office says a pilot and three juveniles were on board. Nobody was hurt in the crash.

The plane was a Beech C35 Bonanza.

A KRQE News 13 viewer says the small plane was coming in for a landing at the airport when the plane lost power and the pilot had to conduct an emergency landing on Greer Road. The plane spun after clipping a bush.

Deputies are still looking into what caused the crash.


Love is in the air

Mr. Fabian Lim paid US$2.5 million for his Eclipse 500 jet, which is about the price of his three-bedroom condominium.

Mr. Fabian Lim, 43, speaks about planes as though they are human.

"These are the first and second loves of my life," he declares of the two airplanes parked behind him.

The Internet entrepreneur, who founded home and lifestyle services app, is in for a surprise when he steps into a hangar at Seletar Airport, where he keeps his Eclipse 500 - a five- seater jet.

He realizes that the first aircraft he owned, a Columbia 350, is positioned right next to his jet in the same hangar. It turns out that the Columbia is scheduled to undergo some repairs.

"This is like my first girlfriend and I've not seen her in a while," says Mr. Lim. He sold the Columbia to a friend in 2013.

"This is an emotional day for me. Two girlfriends appearing at the same time," he says.

Listening to him enthuse about flying, it is apparent that his passion for aviation extends well beyond aircraft ownership.

"I fly more than I drive," he says earnestly. "There is much freedom being in the air. I feel like a high- altitude bird."

He had always wanted to be a pilot because he thought it would be "cool" to fly for a living. But short-sightedness hindered that pursuit and he put the desire aside until he felt it was "financially possible" for him to fly.

In 2006, he traveled to Seattle in the United States to get a Private Pilot License. He did so with ease in just 21 days.

After some years of renting aircraft in Malaysia to practice flying, he bought the four-seater Columbia in 2010 for US$400,000.

He describes the aircraft, which has a dolphin-like main body and wheel pants, as being "really sexy and beautiful".

He flew it regularly on business trips to Malaysia and Indonesia.

The longest trip he made on the Columbia was in 2012, when he spent more than a week flying from Singapore to a host of stops in Australia - "Broome, Shark Bay, Perth, Ayers Rock, Darwin" - and then back to Singapore via Indonesia.

The highlight of that trip, he says, was landing in "quaint airports" such as those in Broome and Shark Bay.

"These are airports that tourists do not usually go to, which makes them special," he says.

Everything came to a halt, however, after the Columbia was damaged while undergoing maintenance in 2013.

"I was quite frustrated and disappointed because an aircraft is not like a car, where parts can be easily replaced," says Mr Lim.

To rub salt into the wound, the aircraft had been "functioning perfectly" before the incident happened.

"With my first girlfriend damaged, I was depressed," he says, adding that he had to go back to taking commercial flights for his business trips.

Barely weeks later, however, he set his sights on a jet - this time, an Eclipse 500, which he bought in April last year. He says this model is very fuel-efficient and can travel at twice the speed and three times the height of the Columbia.

The plane cost US$2.5 million (S$3.5 million) and he flew it back to Singapore with a co-pilot from a factory in Chicago in the US. He considers it a "heavy but worthy investment" as it is a purchase he can keep enjoying.

He lives in a three-bedroom condominium in Somerset, which he says cost about the same price as his jet.

To fly his jet back to Singapore, he had to upgrade his skills and get a jet rating. He says jet owners who can pilot their own aircraft are "quite rare in the world" because of the flying requirements involved for non-professional pilots.

He would know. He went through special training in the US to qualify to fly his jet.

"It's a very intensive program and super stressful, but it was worthwhile," he says. "Look who's having fun now?"

Bringing the Eclipse home from the US took more than a week and saw him zipping across 16 countries for fuel stops.

Along the way, he was especially struck by the scenery of Greenland and Iceland. "Greenland has a lot of ice and is surrounded by fjords, while Iceland has a lot of greenery," he says.

What never fails to astound him are the sunrises and sunsets that he gets to witness tens of thousands of feet up in the air. "These are scenes you can't recreate. They are breathtaking," he says.

He also enjoys the unpredictability of flying - no takeoff or landing is ever the same.

He has been flying the Eclipse for close to a year and is glad he has not had any dangerous encounters so far.

He uses the jet for business trips and for leisure, taking his friends and family out of the country every three months or so. They have gone for hor fun in Ipoh and tom yum soup in Pattaya, and Mr Lim plans to do a flying tour either to Australia or Japan later this year.

While those will take some time to plan, he can get clearance to fly to any airport in Malaysia within 24 hours.

He has also used the jet for humanitarian work. He did two medical relief flights in January this year, flying medical equipment to Kota Baru in Malaysia to assist with the flooding situation there.

"I treat every flight very seriously. My motto is: No mistakes," he says.

He spends about $200,000 a year to maintain the jet's fixed and running costs. Its hourly operating cost is about $1,000.

Mr. Lim, who is married with no children, says he will not be setting his sights on another aircraft or jet any time soon.

"I'm a one-woman man," he says with a chuckle.

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Horry County leaders hoping to avoid future clashes between helicopter companies, neighbors

The debate over Grand Strand helicopter tours keeps on spinning.

Three weeks after the S.C. Court of Appeals ruled that a Myrtle Beach area business could continue offering aerial sightseeing excursions, Horry County officials are considering an ordinance that, if approved, would further restrict where those businesses could locate. Last week, the county’s Infrastructure and Regulation Committee reviewed the properties that have the proper zoning for that type of company.

“It’s particularly relevant since we know that there’s been a helicopter operation trying to get approval to open in North Myrtle Beach,” said Janet Carter, the county’s planning director. “There obviously is still a demand for additional helicopter sightseeing tour facilities in the county.”

In North Myrtle Beach, a helicopter company appeared before the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals twice seeking a special exception to provide rides. Both requests were denied. A representative for the company could not be reached for comment.

Although no new helicopter tour businesses have expressed interest in setting up shop in unincorporated Horry, county officials said there are sites in the Loris, Conway and Myrtle Beach areas with zoning that would allow that kind of activity.

“If we get a request in on one of these sites, we’re likely to approve it,” said Steve Gosnell, the assistant county administrator over infrastructure and regulation.

The last time the county looked at a policy for helicopters was in 2012, following a controversy that erupted when Helicopter Adventures opened across from Broadway at the Beach.

Residents in nearby Plantation Point were furious and complained to county leaders about the constant din of passing choppers. They also raised safety concerns about the tours being so close to a residential area.

Their resistance didn’t lead to any policy changes then, but it did result in legal action.

Most recently, the court of appeals was asked to determine whether a helicopter tour company is a permitted use in the county's amusement-commercial zoning. Circuit Court Judge Larry Hyman ruled in 2013 that such a business is allowed in that zoning. The appellate court upheld Hyman’s ruling, thus siding with Helicopter Adventures.

The company’s owner, Freddie Rick, declined to comment.

Richard Hinde, the Plantation Point resident who took the case to court, has not said if he will appeal to the state Supreme Court. Hinde could not be reached for comment.

County officials insist a stricter ordinance would help avoid a similar controversy.

“The noise is horrible,” said Horry County Councilman Bill Howard, whose district includes Plantation Point. “The people cannot spend a quiet day. Seven days a week, it’s just noise, noise, noise. So if there’s any way, anything we can find to stop it, that’s what we’re looking for.”

However, Howard noted, any changes to the county code would not affect those businesses already operating. The move would simply be about preventing another fight.

“You’re not going to stop the ones that are in business,” he said. “They’re very successful.”

The policy county officials are reviewing and revising is the same one they discussed three years ago. That ordinance called for a specific zoning classification for property uses “related to or compatible with Airport operations” and stipulated that those businesses “should not be located near established residential communities.” The proposal also outlined specific requirements, including a helicopter noise study for new tour companies.

If such an ordinance does pass, it would primarily be a precaution, Carter said. Most of the sites that allow helicopter tour companies now are either too far inland to be appealing to those businesses or are being used for other ventures.

“Even though we have a lot of acreage zoned that way, the location of most of that acreage is not conducive to a helicopter sightseeing tour facility,” she said.

For Tom Navarria and many of his Plantation Point neighbors, the location of Helicopter Adventures just isn’t appropriate for that type of business.

He said he’s read about other communities that dealt with helicopter noise, but those places were far enough away from the businesses that a simple change in the flight plan alleviated the problem.

“You don’t typically, across the country, have helicopters right in your back yard,” he said.

Over the last three years, Navarria said there’s been no getting used to the noise.

“Essentially, it got worse because his business seems to be doing better,” he said. “He has more and more helicopters flying. I remember counting six that took off either in succession or while they’re taking off others are coming. ... When that happens, it’s literally unbearable to be outside. You can’t read outside. You can’t play outside. You can’t have a glass of wine in your backyard.”

A retiree who built his home in 2010, Navarria said the situation is not what he signed up for when he chose Plantation Point.

“It’s really bad,” he said. “I invite anybody to come and sit in my backyard on a busy day to see what we deal with.”


Dana Air Seeks Police Support To Fight Stealing aboard Aircraft

Lagos --  The Accountable Manager of Dana Air, Mr. Obi Mbanuzuo, has solicited the support of the Airport Police Command to fight against people who are not genuine passengers but buy tickets to steal from passengers on board flights.

This is just as the airline assured the new Commissioner of Police Airport Command of Dana Air’s support to improve the welfare of its officers.

Mbanuzuo gave the assurance during a courtesy visit by the Commissioner of Police, Airport Police Command, Mrs. Victory Menta, at Dana Air’s Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MMA2), Lagos office.

He stated that the airlines was committed to the safety and security of its guests and would also appreciate the continued support of the Airport Police Command in prosecuting criminals, who act like genuine passengers by ensuring full investigation and eventual prosecution.

According to him, “These days we have those who buy tickets just to steal from genuine passengers. We would appreciate if the command can continue to support us in ensuring full investigation into these cases and prosecution to serve as lesson to others.”

Responding, Menta assured Dana Air that the command was committed to tackling security issues within and around the airport.

She noted that her visit was to familiarize herself with the airline to ensure a good working relationship.

In her words, “The reason for my visit is to familiarize with you to foster a good working relationship and urge you to continue to corporate with the Airport Police Command.”


Bringing JetBlue in for a landing

A new airline is on course to arrive at Daytona Beach early next year, which not only should give a welcome shot in the arm to the airport, but also could help boost the area economy.

The Volusia County Council on Thursday unanimously approved a $400,000 marketing agreement with JetBlue, the popular low-cost airline that operates direct flights to and from New York City. Under the agreement, Daytona International Airport will contribute $200,000, while the Daytona Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, Southeast Volusia Advertising Authority and West Volusia Advertising Authority will contribute a combined $200,000 to a marketing plan, which is expected to launch in October and November. The first JetBlue flight is scheduled to land here Jan. 7.

Previously, the business community negotiated an incentive package that includes pledges by members of the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce to purchase nearly $250,000 tickets for JetBlue flights in both 2016 and 2017.

The airport had been pursuing JetBlue for more than a decade before the airline finally announced in February its intentions to add Daytona Beach to its routes. That was a big catch for the airport in a very competitive market. Along with Southwest Airlines, JetBlue is one of the nation’s most desirable carriers. For example, the Cincinnati Enquirer this week published a story asking the question, “What will it take to lure JetBlue?”

“Getting JetBlue has been viewed by many local leaders as the centerpiece to (Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport’s) reinvention,” the newspaper wrote.

Score one — a big one — for Daytona Beach.

Daytona Beach International could use the additional business. Although the airport has rebounded nicely from the downturn of the Great Recession, passenger traffic declined in August for a fourth straight month. Airport officials have attributed the decrease primarily to Delta Air Lines and US Airways offering fewer flights than they did in August of last year, and to Delta’s switch to smaller planes. The good news is those smaller aircraft are being filled — the percentage of available seats filled on arriving and departing flights rose in August to the highest level this year.

Adding JetBlue will provide travelers with more options. Competition is a good thing.

The nature of JetBlue also should provide added value. The airline this year topped several surveys of customer satisfaction with airlines — often a tough crowd to impress. Its low-cost flights to and from JFK International Airport in New York open a new gateway to Daytona Beach. Residents here are eyeing affordable weekend getaways to the Big Apple, while Volusia County has a unique new tool to probe the New York market. Local tourism officials here say that JetBlue service changes people’s perceptions of Daytona Beach.

Finally, having JetBlue service could create economic development opportunities for this area, enticing businesses to give Volusia County a closer look when considering moving or expanding their operations.

Approving the marketing agreement was a no-brainer for a deal with this much potential. It shows what can be accomplished when local officials and the business community work together to reach a common goal.


Southwest Aviation relaunches fuel services: Las Cruces International Airport (LRU), New Mexico

LAS CRUCES — A Las Cruces aviation company whose airplane- and jet-refueling operation was red-tagged late last year re-launched fuel services this week.

Southwest Aviation Inc., one of two fixed-based operators at the Las Cruces International Airport, re-started fueling services Tuesday after making upgrades to its fuel storage facilities, according to company and city officials.

City officials contend the shut-down of fueling operations was not in connection to an August 2014 crash of an air ambulance that left four people dead. A preliminary federal report from the crash determined a Southwest Aviation Inc. technician had injected the wrong type of fuel for the airplane minutes before the crash.

However, Southwest Aviation owner Hal Kading questioned the motivation and timing of the red-tagging, saying it happened about Nov. 10, when a second fix-based operator, Francis Aviation, started services for the first time at the Las Cruces International Airport. Prior to that, Southwest Aviation had been the only refueler. Kading said the company has been at the airport since 1967, and he's personally been there since 1973. The refueling operations had never previously been red-tagged.

"The reason they gave for shutting us down was we didn't meet state standards," he said. "We talked to the state inspectors, and, while it was true we didn't meet the standards, the city was fine with it up until the day Francis Aviation opened. And that's the day that they shut us off from using our fuel storage."

The required improvements — such as supports for the fuel-storage tanks and a concrete holding area to contain potential fuel spills — weren't complex, but city approval processes were lengthy, Kading said.

"We couldn't get fuel until we had them (fuel tanks) re-worked. And that took two weeks to do but months and months to get approved," he said. "I can't imagine it would take 10 months to approve a construction job that took all of a couple of weeks to build," he said.

Kading said he has no way to determine with certainty the city's motivation, but if the August 2014 plane crash wasn't a factor and "if what they're saying is correct, it goes to say that the city is not business-friendly."

"We're very happy to finally be back in business," he said. But "we're very concerned about how long it takes to get anything through the city," he said, referring to construction and inspection approvals.

Las Cruces spokesman Udell Vigil assured there was no attempt on the city's part to stall Southwest Aviation's fuel services. And the red-tagging wasn't in connection to last year's crash.

"Their bulk fuel storage tanks were not in compliance with the NMED (New Mexico Environment Department) regulations," he said. "It had nothing to do with the crash."

And now that Southwest Aviation has been re-inspected, it's free to host refueling services again, according to Vigil. The city can't restrict the number of fuel operators, who are tenants at the city-owned airport, he said.

Vigil said the city's fire department checks fuel tanks for compliance to state regulations. And the city is tasked with ensuring the airports runways are in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration standards, but the city doesn't have an oversight role over refueling operations directly.

In the months its fuel services were halted, Kading said the company has continued some operations, including renting of hangars and flight training.

Southwest Aviation also has carried out retraining for its employees and refreshed its equipment.

"We changed all the filters on the trucks and fuel storage and made sure everything was up-to-date," Kading said.

Kading said the company is keeping the employee who is believed to have made the refueling error in last year's fatal crash.

"We feel he's the safest fuel technician in the country with that on his conscience," he said.

In addition, Kading said the company has "instituted some revisions to our procedures so that the pilot, if he's not attending the fueling, has to sign to verify the grade of fuel and quantity he wants." It's also making use of so-called "duck-billed" fuel nozzles for jet fuel, which helps to avoid refueling errors, but isn't necessarily a fail-safe.

Asked if he was confident the company won't have a similar refueling error in the future, Kading replied: "We're confident it won't happen again here, with us."

As for the crash itself, "it's not anything that we're complacent about — it was just terrible," Kading said.

In August 2014, a Cessna 421C — a twin-engine, propeller-driven plane — arrived in Las Cruces about 30 minutes before the fatal crash. Records show the pilot, 29-year-old Freddy Martinez of El Paso, was in the cockpit that evening when he ordered 40 gallons of fuel from a line service technician, the federal report states. Investigators learned the airplane has been "misfueled" with jet fuel rather than the required aviation gasoline, according to the National Transportation Safety Board report. Investigators smelled jet fuel the next day at the crash scene, the report states.

Also killed in the crash were Fredrick Green, 59, a Las Cruces man being transported for cancer treatment; flight paramedic Tauren Summers, 27, of El Paso; and flight nurse Monica Chavez, 35, of Las Cruces.

Green's family has filed a lawsuit in connection to the crash.


Cessna 421 Golden Eagle, Elite Medical Air Transport LLC, N51RX

NTSB Identification: CEN14FA462

Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 27, 2014 in Las Cruces, NM
Aircraft: CESSNA 421C, registration: N51RX
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On August 27, 2014, about 1900 mountain daylight time, a Cessna Airplane Company 421C, multi-engine airplane, N51RX, was destroyed after impacting terrain during initial climb near Las Cruces International Airport (LRU), Las Cruces, New Mexico. The pilot, two medical crewmembers and one patient were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Elite Medical Air Transport, LLC; El Paso, Texas, and was operated by Amigos Aviation, Inc.; Harlingen, Texas. Day visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed at the time of the accident and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 air ambulance flight. At the time of the accident the airplane was departing LRU for a flight to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), Phoenix, Arizona.

The airplane arrived LRU about 1834 to pickup a patient for a flight to PHX. The pilot was still seated in the cockpit when he gave the line service technician a verbal order for a total of forty gallons of fuel. The line service technician drove the fuel truck to the front of the airplane and refueled the airplane putting 20 gallons in each wing. The pilot then assisted the line service technician with replacing both fuel caps. They both walked into the office and the pilot signed the machine printed fuel ticket.

After departing LRU to the west a medical crewmember onboard the airplane called their medical dispatcher on a satellite telephone and reported they were returning to LRU because of a problem with smoke coming from the right engine. A witness driving westbound on the interstate highway reported the airplane was westbound and about 200 feet above ground level (agl) when he saw smoke begin to appear from the right engine. The airplane then began descending and started a left turn to the east. Another witness, driving eastbound on the interstate highway, reported the airplane was trailing smoke when it passed over him about 100 feet agl. He saw the descending airplane continue its left turn to the east and then lost sight of it. Several witnesses reported seeing the impact or hearing the sound of impact and they then immediately saw smoke or flames.

Evidence at the scene showed the airplane was generally eastbound and upright when it impacted terrain resulting in the separation of the left propeller and the separation of the right aileron. The airplane came to rest inverted about 100 feet from the initial impact point, and there was an immediate postimpact fire which consumed much of the airplane. Investigators who arrived at the scene on the day following the accident reported detecting the smell of jet fuel.

A postaccident review of refueling records and interviews with line service technicians showed that the airplane had been misfuelled with 40 gallons of Jet A fuel instead of the required 100LL aviation gasoline.

At 1855 the automated weather observing system at LRU, located about 3 miles northeast from the accident location, reported wind from 040 degrees at 5 knots, visibility of 10 miles, broken clouds at 6,500 feet, temperature 23 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 16 degrees C, with an altimeter setting of 30.16 inches of Mercury.

Donated Plane: Grumman American GA-7 Cougar, N799GA

Ellsworth, Maine  --   A recent donation from an Ellsworth man may help to locate missing people.

85-year-old Dugald Kell, Sr. of Ellsworth donated his twin engine plane to a Maine search and rescue organization.

Down East Emergency Medicine Institute in Orono, Maine, works to help find missing people in Maine and across the nation.

Kell is an experienced pilot, but felt the plane could be put to better use by the volunteers at Down East Emergency Medicine Institute.

He says it was tough to part with the plane, but he knew it was going to a good cause.

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Pilots write to airline claiming fatigue levels are risking safety

Cathay Pacific's pilots have written to the airline warning that they believe flight safety is under threat as pilots are over-worked and exhausted.

The airline strongly denies the claims and says safety is its "number one priority".

In a frank letter to the Hong Kong-based carrier, published in full by the South China Morning Post, the pilots refer to what they claim is the "elephant in the room, fatigue" and ask "is safety still our priority?".

In response, the airline, established in 1946, has said that it has measures in place to manage issues such as fatigue.

The carrier has never had an accident in which a plane has been written off as beyond repair.

The letter, sent to Cathay Pacific's director of flight operations last month claims "long-term fatigue levels" are being endured by its pilots.

It claims pilots routinely work overtime and reach their maximum legal annual hours limit, at which point they cannot be used and have to be removed from rosters.

The letter also claims there are increased sickness rates, full annual leave is not being granted to all crew, that experience levels at the airline have dropped, "flights are constantly being cancelled due to lack of crews", and that the airline is proposing to reduce crew levels by 30 per cent for "efficiency opportunities".

"Currently, we have a tired and worn-out aircrew body," the letter said.

"This is manifesting itself in correspondingly increased sickness rates and, regrettably, a recent fatigue-related incident."

It added: "We are... acutely aware that increasing fatigue levels coupled with decreasing experience levels could dangerously affect safety within the airline if actions are not taken now to change course."

The Sunday Morning Post received a letter from a Cathay Pacific spokeswoman, responding to the concerns raised by the pilots.

She confirmed that the airline had "received a letter from a number of our check and training captains in which they expressed some concerns" and that it was looking into the concerns and engaging with its pilots directly.

She said matters to do with safety received the company's "utmost attention" and that "safety of passengers and crew is the number one priority of Cathay Pacific".

"We do have measures in place to manage any issues identified, such as fatigue," the spokeswoman said.

"These include a fatigue risk management system which works to minimize risk by using preventative measures.

"Pilots' rosters are designed and monitored to ensure fatigue is minimized."

The spokeswoman said the airline complied with the requirements of the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department, including those governing crew experience levels, hours, and the number of crew required to operate a flight.

The Independent has contacted Cathay Pacific for further comment.

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Should air traffic controllers be privatized?

The Federal Aviation Administration is a huge bureaucracy with perennial funding issues. Among its many duties is overseeing thousands of air traffic controllers at hundreds of airports and planes ranging from private jets to passenger airliners to military transports.

Conversation is building in Washington on this question: Would the FAA be better able to handle its regulatory duties if the day-to-day operations of air traffic control were privatized?

There is no specific plan, and the accompanying issues are numerous: Would the private entity be a nonprofit? Who would run it? How would it sustain itself financially? Would it be as safe as the current system? Would the flying public benefit?

The answers depend on whom you talk to.

Commercial airlines like the idea. They think a new-model FAA would be more nimble and able to carry out much-needed technology upgrades more quickly.

Corporate jet owners and general-aviation fliers, on the other hand, oppose the idea because a new air traffic oversight entity, if funded by user fees, would cost them more.

The FAA itself opposes the notion.

"This is not a criticism of the FAA's current leadership," American Airlines CEO Doug Parker told a congressional subcommittee last spring. "We believe the problems lie with the constraints and built-in impediments of the current [FAA] governance and funding structures."

Rep. Bill Shuster (R., Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he would introduce legislation soon to create an independent or nonprofit corporation to oversee air traffic control, similar to what Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom have.

The FAA's budget is now $16 billion, but its funding has been unstable amid political bickering in Congress, sequestration cuts, and, in 2013, furloughs of air traffic controllers in a partial government shutdown. The current authorization expires Wednesday.

"Any new model will need to continue running the safest, most efficient, most diverse, and most complex airspace in the world," National Air Traffic Controllers Association president Paul Rinaldi told Congress in June. "There is much at stake."

Since 1981, efforts to modernize the national airspace system by updating facilities and equipment have encountered cost overruns, schedule delays, and performance problems.

In the 1990s, the Clinton administration developed several proposals to reform the FAA. In 2000, President Bill Clinton established the Air Traffic Organization within the FAA and created a chief operating officer to run the air traffic control system. But in the early 2000s, concern arose again about the FAA's ability to modernize.

In 2003, Congress created NextGen, a $40 billion program slated to be completed by 2025, to transition the nation's airspace from 1950s ground radar to satellite technology that would allow aircraft to fly more direct routes and navigate around inclement weather, reducing delays. As envisioned, the technology would allow every controller to see the exact position of every plane, no matter where the controller worked.

Airlines for America, a trade group, favors creation of a federally chartered nonprofit that would be financially self-sustaining and run like a business, with a governing board made up of aviation stakeholders. The FAA would retain the role of safety regulator.

Such a system would likely be funded by user fees from airlines, general aviation and private jet operators, and airfreight companies.

Could privatizing air traffic control cost travelers more in ticket prices?

"Passengers pay for it now. It's a matter of a different mechanism," said Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, a Radnor group representing corporate travel managers. "In fact, consumers may pay less because corporate jet operators might be paying more.

"Today, it's funded under the gas tax. Tomorrow, it could be a user fee," Mitchell said. "That's why general aviation and the big corporations that fly G-4s and G-5s are opposed to it. They could see their costs go way up."

An August survey of 800 voters nationwide, conducted by Global Strategy Group for an organization called Alliance for Aviation Across America whose members include the League of Rural Voters and the general-aviation community, found that respondents, while generally supportive of privatizing some government functions or services, were opposed to privatizing the air traffic control system.

Fifty-five percent were opposed, and 29 percent supported turning operations over to a nonprofit, Global Strategy president Jefrey Pollock said on a recent conference call. Seven percent neither supported nor opposed privatization; 9 percent said they didn't know.

"The voters just don't want something privatized that they think is going well," Pollock said. "Eighty percent said they thought the FAA was doing a good job operating the nation's air traffic control system."

The FAA, in addition to air traffic control, issues and enforces regulations and standards for manufacturing, operating, and maintaining aircraft; certifies pilots and mechanics; inspects airplanes; regulates airplane maintenance; carries out programs to control aircraft noise; and oversees airport safety and standards for airport design and construction. It awards airport grants, sets aircraft noise standards, regulates unmanned aircraft (drone) flying, and monitors airplane repair stations.

One carrier, Delta Air Lines, says separating air traffic control operations from safety oversight does not make sense. The current system is safer, more cost-effective, and has fewer delays than any "alternative in the world," said Steve Dickson, a Delta pilot and senior vice president for flight operations.

Uprooting the system would result in "organizational disruption, silos between organizations, unforeseen transition costs, and a loss of experts and institutional knowledge," he said. "Air traffic control should remain part of the FAA, with greater focus on continuing NextGen implementation."

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has opposed taking air traffic control away from the FAA, saying the current system is not broken.

"The FAA has done a good job managing the airspace," Foxx said.

The union representing the country's 14,000 air traffic controllers said major change was needed to achieve stable funding. But union president Rinaldi questioned whether the much-discussed Canadian model, Nav Canada, could be scaled to the size required to handle the complexity and diversity of America's airspace.

U.S. controllers track 132 million flights annually, compared with 12 million in Canada. The United States has eight of the 10 busiest airports in the world, and 16 of the top 30, Rinaldi said.

Canada, whose continental landmass is more similar to the United States than France, Germany, or the U.K. is, has one: Toronto, ranked 15th.

"Before we can support any change, we must carefully examine all of the specifics," Rinaldi said. "Details matter in this process."


AIDC AT-3 Republic of China Air Force pilots' bodies sent back to air force academy

KAOHSIUNG -- The bodies of two Air Force pilots, who died after their AT-3 training aircraft crashed in the mountains earlier this week, were sent back to base at the Republic of China Air Force Academy on Sunday, and were greeted by grieving family members.

The bodies of 32-year-old Maj. Wang Ching-chun (王勁鈞) and 23-year-old 1st. Lt. Huang Chun-jung (黃俊榮) were flown back from the crash site in eastern Taiwan's Hualien to the academy in Kaohsiung in the south.

The tearful fathers of the pilots waited at the tarmac of the academy and murmured to their fallen loved ones after they were transferred from the aircraft to stretchers, while Air Force members gave a military salute nearby.

The bodies were then sent to a funeral parlor by an ambulance for further inspection.

Family members who waited next to the ambulance cried and someone was heard saying "I don't want this. I don't want this."

Wang's wife is a teacher and they have two children, a son and a daughter. Their son just turned nine months old.

Wang, who had clocked 1,489 flight hours, was a flight instructor at the academy, while Huang had 116 hours of experience flying.

Wang was in the front seat of the plane, and Huang was in the back seat during the routine training flight when the plane crashed.

The bodies of the pilots and debris of the aircraft were found in the woods in the mountainous areas of Hualien County early Saturday afternoon, after days of search and rescue efforts, the military said. The aircraft lost contact with air traffic controllers Tuesday.

The Air Force said it has set up a committee to investigate the cause of the incident.

Pentastar opens studio, gives peek into private jets

The studio, inside an airplane hangar, lets private and commercial jet owners fly in and design how they want their planes to look and feel.

Edsel Ford II, the chairman and owner of Pentastar Aviation, talks with employees and others inside the new interior design studio.

Aiming to tap into what appears to be growing demand for upgrading aircraft interiors, Pentastar Aviation opened an aircraft interior design center today at Oakland County International Airport in Waterford.

The studio, which is inside an airplane hangar, lets private and commercial jet owners fly in from around the globe to the airport, step off the plane and walk into the center to custom design how they want their planes to look and feel — down to the swatches of fabrics that go on the seats to the number and size of the TV screens in the cabin.

“With the opening of this studio, our clients can meet our experts and touch and feel the high-quality materials we use to bring aircraft cabin visions to life,” Pentastar’s owner and chairman Edsel Ford II said. “The aviation industry is being pushed forward by innovators, those who confront problems — engineering or aesthetic — and instead of shying away, they work harder and smarter than anyone else to find solutions.”

The new studio opening reflects the confidence Pentastar has in what appears to be a rebounding economy, while also giving folks a tiny peek into the lifestyle of folks wealthy enough to travel by private jet, or as some jet owners prefer to call it, their “office in the sky.”

Pentastar, which started in 1964 as Chrysler Air Transportation, expanded into aircraft interiors a little more than two years ago when it acquired Aircraft Interior Services from Gordon Ross, who is now the company’s director of interiors. Chrysler sold it to Ford, a well-known aviation buff, in 2001. It provides domestic and international private charter flights, as well as avionics and maintenance.

The company also is betting on industry predictions that as corporate and private jet spending increases, it likely will be directed more at refurbishing and upgrading older planes — which can cost between several thousand dollars and a few million — than buying brand-new ones.

The custom interior produced by Pentastar Aviation.

Global forecast for aircraft interior modification services, the company said, are expected to reach $17 billion by 2019.

Ross said Pentastar generally does about three or four major refurbishments a year, and dozens of smaller upgrades.

But, the company hopes to increase that number and along with it, add a few jobs.

Since the recession, fewer people are flying private jets, and corporations have become much more focused on cost cutting, while still trying to offer high-powered, jet-setting executives the convenience and comfort that comes with having a plane at their disposal. Some even think about what colors will be appealing if the plane is ever resold, Ross said.

“It’s not like it used to be,” he said. “Our attention is to re-purpose and extend the life of aircraft in a more cost-conscious way.”

Still, Ross acknowledged that private jets are a luxury that most people can’t afford, and even with an upgrade — rather than a new plane — the results be lavish, and sometimes, personal to what the plane owner or executive wants.

Seatbelt buckles in various colors are on display for customers to choose.

In one jet, which was from Hong Kong, the interior design called for color tones so light he said it was like having “white carpet at home,” something that that you would “not want to let kids run around in.” In another, which belonged to the owner of a pro football team, the company installed a custom-made lift for a 42-inch TV — the biggest one that would fit — so he could watch games.

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Airshow roars into Salinas

You’ve already heard the roaring overhead as performers warm up for the 35th California International Airshow Salinas this weekend. Come be part of the real deal from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Salinas Municipal Airport. The weather is expected to be sunny Saturday and mostly sunny Sunday, with highs in the 70s both days, giving spectators a great view of the aeronautic wonders in action.

The Airshow features these performers:

•USAF F-22 Raptor Jet Demonstration

•USAF Heritage Flight

•Canadian Forces CF-18 Jet Demonstration

•The Patriots Jet Team

•Gregory Colyer/Ace Maker Airshows T-33 Jet Demonstration

•Jacquie B Warda Extra 300 Aerobatic

•Metal Mulisha Extreme MotoX

•Aerobatics pilot Yuichi Takagi

•A flying tribute to the Doolittle raiders with a B-25 Mitchell formation

•North American P-51 Mustangs with their Rolls Royce Merlin V-12s

•Skydive Monterey Bay

•Dozens of static displays, including the massive C-5 Galaxy transport

To purchase tickets, visit or call 831-754-1983.

Tickets range from $10 to $35, with parking passes priced at $10. Proceeds go to local charities.


Cessna 150F Commuter, N6922F: Accident occurred September 26, 2015 in Fort Wayne, Indiana

NTSB Identification: CEN15LA433
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 26, 2015 in Fort Wayne, IN
Aircraft: CESSNA 150F, registration: N6922F
Injuries: 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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On September 26, 2015, about 0345 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 150F, N6922F, impacted terrain during climb after takeoff from Fort Wayne International Airport (FWA), Fort Wayne, Indiana. The airplane received substantial damage. The private pilot and a passenger sustained minor injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight that was not operating on a flight plan. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.     

FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA South Bend FSDO-17

Assisting at the plane crash scene were the Fort Wayne Police Department, Fort Wayne Airport Authority Police, Fort Wayne Airport Authority Operations, Allen County Sheriff Department, Allen County Department of Homeland Security, Fort Wayne Fire Department and Three Rivers Ambulance Authority.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) – One person is missing after a small aircraft crashed south of Smith Field early Saturday morning.

Emergency crews rushed to the 1400 block of Ludwig Park Drive around 3:45 a.m.

Indiana State Police Sergeant Tome Merkling said the Cessna 150 was flying north to Smith Field.

The airplane continued to descend clipping the upper portions of some trees before striking a power line and then a small corner section of the roof of a house.

According to a release, police believe there were two occupants on the plane.

The pilot was found shortly after the crash with only minor injuries.

The second, however, has not been located. Police believe they have the identity and are trying to find that person.

Police are not releasing the identities of either of the flyers at this time.

The plane landed in the backyard of a home. Fortunately, no one in the home or anywhere on the ground was injured.

At this time, Sgt. Merkling is waiting for the arrival of the FAA.

No further information has been released.


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A passenger of a small aircraft that crashed south of Smith Field early Saturday morning is missing.

Emergency crews were called to the 1400 block of Ludwig Park Drive around 3:45 a.m. The crash happened approximately 1,000 feet south of the airfield.

Indiana State Police Sergeant Tom Merkling indicated the plane was flying north to approach Smith Field.  As the plane descended, it clipped the tops of some trees before it struck a power line and a small corner section of the roof of a house, according to police.

The plane landed upside down in the backyard of the home.

Police said at this time they believe there are two occupants of the plane.

The pilot was located shortly after the crash and hospitalized in good condition. However, police and firefighters have not been able to locate the passenger. Investigators said they do believe they have that person’s identity and are trying to find where that person is located.

Police have not released their identities.

The plane crashed near a home in a backyard. No one in the house or on the ground was hurt.

The incident is under investigation. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) should arrive shortly to assist in the investigation.

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