Sunday, October 4, 2015

Rocky Mountain National Park seeks info on low-flying aircraft

ESTES PARK, COLORADO — Rocky Mountain National Park officials are seeking information about an ultralight aircraft flew low in the area of Moraine Park at around 5:30 p.m. Friday, September 25.

Park rangers are seeking information pertaining to the incident, park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said in a press release. "They are interested in speaking with witnesses or anyone who might have photographs or videos of the aircraft," she said.

Anyone with information related to the incident is asked to call Rocky Mountain National Park's Communications Center at 970-586-1204.


Westmoreland County subsidy that helps finance Spirit Airlines draws scrutiny

Latrobe airlines services ramp crew members service a Spirit Airlines aircraft on Friday, October 2, 2015, at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity.

Westmoreland County officials say they'll continue an unorthodox taxpayer-funded subsidy that attracted Spirit Airlines to Arnold Palmer Regional Airport but drew the attention of federal officials.

Citing the economic benefits of an ultra-low-cost carrier in town, the county spends about $700,000 annually to employ ticket agents and ground operators for Spirit. The program, called Latrobe Airline Services, supports about 40 authority employees a year. The money is part of $2 million to $2.7 million in annual funding the county pays to the Westmoreland County Airport Authority for general operations and debt service.

Spirit, a company valued at $3.6 billion that built its brand on cheap nonstop flights, serves more than 50 airports in the United States and internationally. In Westmoreland County, commissioners said they are eager to provide the appropriation and enable Spirit's presence to grow.

“It's money we put in to make the operation happen so that we could reap the impact,” said Commissioner Chuck Anderson. “It's part of the cost of doing business.”

The county-to-authority money transfer caught the eye of the Federal Aviation Administration at least as early as 2013. In February 2014, the safety and standards branch requested information to determine “if the rates and charges at the airport are allocated in an unjustly discriminatory manner,” or were subsidizing the costs of an air carrier.

FAA spokeswoman Arlene Salac said the agency's review of the program is continuing.

Spirit began serving the Latrobe airport in February 2011. The year before, the airport had 6,000 commercial passengers.

“We're about to have balloons go up for the millionth passenger going through there,” Anderson said. “The impact is huge.”

This year, the airport has counted more than 250,000 passengers on Spirit flights to five destinations, although the airline will suspend nonstop flights to Chicago and Las Vegas in November because of low passenger traffic. Other destinations include Orlando, Myrtle Beach and Fort Lauderdale.

PennDOT gauged the airport's economic impact at $158 million, according to the airport's annual report, up from $98 million in 2011.

Ken Button, a public policy professor at George Mason University who studies aviation, said the lines are fuzzy regarding public support to airlines, but smaller airports are more likely to use local funding to lure carriers. The biggest concern, he said, is engendering unfair competition if nearby airports must one-up each other's offers.

“These airports are desperate to have it,” Button said. “This doesn't necessarily help other airports nearby.”

Westmoreland County has three regional airports — two of them county-run — and there are a dozen or so nearby in other counties.

Pittsburgh International Airport, the region's largest, added ultra-low-cost carrier Allegiant Air this year. Allegiant gets no special subsidy from the airport.

Incentive programs vary among airports, Spirit spokesman Paul Berry said. Some have none. Spirit reported $76 million in net income in June.

The size of the airport and amount of traffic determines which employees work directly with the airline, Berry said. If the scale of operations is large enough, Spirit hires its own workers, as at the Fort Lauderdale airport where the airline has its headquarters.

“At most of our other airports, we don't have that much traffic, so we hire third-party vendors to handle that traffic for us,” Berry said.

That's the case at Oakland International Airport, said Brian Kidd, marketing supervisor at the California facility. Major airlines can employ their own staff. Smaller airport incentives can be “a win-win,” but airports must be careful about regulations, Kidd said.

“Airports have to be fairly even-handed about this,” he said. “You can't offer an incentive to one carrier that's not available for another carrier.”

Gabe Monzo, executive director at the Arnold Palmer airport, said if another carrier came to town, “We'd serve them the same way.” The model drives traffic and economic development, he said.

“It's unique,” he said, “it's a new way of doing business. But it works for us.”

The county has an overall budget of $334 million. Anderson said this year the county is working around a $5.8 million deficit, which has shrunk to about $2 million because of higher-than-anticipated revenue from various sources, including the Marcellus shale impact fee. Commissioner Ted Kopas said the county evaluates its appropriation to the airport as part of its budget talks every year, as it does other county-related agencies.

“The way the airport has grown over the five years, the target investment has paid off,” Kopas said.

Read more:

Latrobe airlines services ramp crew members add water to a Spirit Airlines aircraft on Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity.

Woman 'hears' Air India pilot talk of 'last flight', refuses to fly

NEW DELHI: The Germanwings crash and continuing mystery of the missing Malaysian airliner MH 370 seem to have created serious distrust between air travelers and pilots.

On Sunday, an Air India business class passenger onboard the aircraft scheduled to take off from Singapore to Delhi refused to continue her journey after she felt the commander said "this is my last flight" to a ground worker. The passenger, reportedly European, immediately told the crew she wanted to get off the aircraft and then alerted local security agencies, said sources.

Security agencies at Changi Airport asked the pilot to get off the plane. "They spoke to the pilot for about an hour. Only after it became clear to them that there had been a serious misunderstanding, the commander was cleared to operate the flight (AI 381) to Delhi," said a source.

Air India did not comment on the 'misunderstanding'. Sources say the commander was not satisfied with the ground staff over something. The passenger might have misunderstood the pilot saying "I am warning you for the last time" and assumed it to be "last flight". The difference in the accents added to the confusion, they said. The flight took off with an hour's delay.

Original article can be found here:

What’s up with the blue-and-white helicopter next to Catskill Regional Medical Center?

Flight nurse Tanya Gushin and Rich Willey, medical base supervisor, in the helicopter that's based adjacent to Catskill Regional Medical Center.

What’s up with the blue-and-white helicopter next to Catskill Regional Medical Center?

Well, it may surprise you that inside that one-story gray structure next to the landing pad, there is one helicopter pilot, one registered nurse and one medic living round the clock and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

They all have separate bedrooms and lockers and a shared kitchen, living room, two bathrooms, a laundry room, food pantry, stock room for medications and a decontamination room.

“Basically, it’s set up like a firehouse,” says Tanya Gushin, 29, flight nurse with LifeNet, who runs the medical helicopter service. “We bake a lot of cookies around here.”

The nurses and medics work 24 hours on, 24 hours off, 24 hours on and then have five days off. The pilots work 12-hour shifts. There are four pilots, four nurses and four medics on rotation.

It also may surprise you that none of the crew are employed by Catskill Regional Medical Center: They all work for Air Methods, LifeNet’s parent company, the largest air medical provider in the world.

When a call comes in, the LifeNet crew can be in the air in as little as seven minutes.

“Most everything is already in the helicopter, and we are in our flight suits, so we just grab our helmets and head out the door,” says Gushin. “We do a quick 360-degree walk around the helicopter, the pilot runs through his standard aviation checklist and then it takes three minutes to warm it up.”

The helicopter crew heads out to 30-40 calls a month and has responded to stabbings, shootings, snowmobile and ATV accidents, car accidents, falls with significant injuries, heart attacks and strokes over the years.

Although based at Catskill Regional, the helicopter coverage includes Sullivan County and parts of Ulster, Orange and Delaware counties in New York and Wayne and Pike counties in Pennsylvania, as well. Patients can be flown to hospitals as far away as Albany, Scranton or Westchester.

“This is a very safety-conscious operation,” says Gushin. “Our slogan is ‘three to go and one to say no’ which means all three crew members have got to agree that it’s safe to fly. But if just one crew member is not comfortable with it, we don’t take off.”

Weather can be the biggest obstacle to flying, so they constantly monitor the local conditions.

“Once we are in the air, the local fire department is in charge of the landing zone,” says Gushin. “They set up a 100 by 100 area clear of obstructions such as wires and trees, and mark it off with cones. Then the pilot brings us down between the cones.”

“We’ve landed in fields and parking lots and on highways and Route 17,” she says. “Sometimes they land in remote spots and we end up jumping over streams to get to the victim.”

“Does it ever get old?” Gushin asks herself. “Well, I’ve only been doing this since May, but other nurses say they are still excited about their job even 10 years later.”

“You know, when I first started, I was afraid of heights. But after one flight, I was hooked,” she says. “And flying has given me an appreciation of how beautiful the Hudson Valley really is.”

Story and photos:

Flight nurse Tanya Gushin gets her flight helmet out of a locker at the helicopter facility at Catskill Regional Medical Center.

Military fly-by honors WWII aviator but raises concerns from Appleton residents: F-16 fighters from Madision flew low during afternoon memorial

APPLETON, WI (WFRV) Some Appleton residents got a jolt from some low flying military jets yesterday. Four F-16 fighters flew a missing man formation around 3:00 P.PM Sunday. 

While the flyby came without warning, Local Five's Terry Kovarik shows us it was in honor of a deserving veteran aviator. 

Story, video and photo:

APPLETON — The Appleton area is buzzing after military jets flew over the heart of the city, rattling windows around 3 p.m. Sunday.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars requested a military flyover this afternoon and there is no cause for concern, the Appleton Police Department said on its Facebook page.

Outagamie County Sheriff's Sgt. Angela Owens  said County Executive Tom Nelson called dispatch and said he had confirmed that F-16s from Madison conducted the flyover at the VFW's request. The flyover was planned and the pilots had permission.

She did not know how many planes had flown over.

A Post-Crescent Media reporter said he saw three military jets buzz over his house near downtown in a triangle formation.

A missing man aerial tribute consists of four aircraft flying in formation. After they are visible to people at the ceremony, one of the aircraft abruptly splits from the formation to signify the "missing man."

Story and comments:

Appleton Police: Low-flying planes part of military flyover

Action 2 News has received several calls and messages about low-flying airplanes in Appleton.

Police say the VFW requested a military flyover Sunday afternoon, and there is no cause for concern.

Police say they were notified of the flyover after the fact.

Story, video, comments and photo:

Volusia County sheriff's helicopters return to 24/7 service

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office now has a fully staffed helicopter crew after a pilot on paid administrative leave returned to duty and joined four other airmen, including three new hires.

The helicopter fleet, which had been operating with four full-time pilots, was down to one since Aug. 20 when two pilots resigned — one for family reasons and another for a new job.

A fourth pilot, Michael Mankovich, was grounded during a supervisory inquiry. Mankovich is back on duty but the inquiry determined he failed to follow orders and must serve an unpaid 40-hour suspension next month, according to reports.

When the two pilots resigned and Mankovich was placed on leave, the Sheriff’s Office's three Air One helicopters operated with one pilot, Bud Darling II. Although the pilots who resigned in April and early August — Jonathan Egerton and Greg Brooks — stayed on with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, flying as needed and as their schedules permitted, the helicopters were not available at times to respond to emergencies and medical calls when Darling was not on duty.

But the fleet, which assists other local police agencies and flies trauma patients to hospitals in addition to Sheriff's Office duties, is available for all flights again.

“Air One is back at full service,” sheriff's spokesman Gary Davidson said recently. “Air One is in service 24/7.”

Newly hired pilots started working with the Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 14 and Sept. 21. A third will began flying for the Sheriff’s Office on Oct. 21, bringing the crew to five fliers, Davidson said.

The hiring of the fifth pilot was prompted by the pilot shortage and was a step taken by Sheriff Ben Johnson to prevent future disruptions, Davidson said.

The aviation unit responded to 1,248 calls in 2014 and through August of this year, has responded to 900 calls, Davidson said.

Mankovich returned to flying Sept. 22, Davidson said. That was the day after the pilot was notified that he was being suspended, according to supervisory inquiry reports obtained through a Daytona Beach News-Journal public records request.

The investigation into Mankovich’s conduct began Aug. 8 after he refused to sign employee performance notices. The notices were the result of Mankovich’s refusal to follow orders regarding his job, reports show.

Documents show that in June Mankovich refused to document preflight inspections, even after being told by his superiors to do so. Mankovich flew 20 shifts and logged no preflight inspections, investigators said.

And in July, Mankovich failed to timely fill out the insurance forms for the agency regarding the helicopter in July and only did so when reminded repeatedly by his superiors, records show.


Victim pleads for mercy for 'hero' pilot prosecuted over dramatic rescue

Dave Armstrong, Kaikoura Helicopters director and pilot. He faces prosecution for a search and rescue mission performed while his license was suspended.

A "hero" helicopter pilot is facing possible jail-time over the dramatic rescue of an injured hunter who says he owes the pilot his life.

Hunter Scott Lee was left dangling on the edge of a 50-metre drop after falling in remote bush north of Kaikoura on April 5, 2014.

He suffered  a broken femur, and had to be tethered to a tree with his girlfriend's clothing to prevent him from plunging further down the bluff to his death.

Local pilot Dave Armstrong stepped up to complete the rescue after another helicopter had already turned back.

But now  he faces charges because his license was at the time suspended, due to a medical scare from a diagnosis which had already been called into question.

The prosecution is thought to be the first of its kind in New Zealand for a pilot performing a search and rescue mission.

The situation has outraged some in the flying community, as well as the hunter Armstrong saved, with the Christchurch man saying he was "absolutely devastated" for the pilot.

Lee has written to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) pleading for them to drop the three charges Armstrong is facing next week in Kaikoura District Court.

In the letter he explains how he had gone after his girlfriend, Lisa McKenzie, who had tumbled down a shingle bank, before tripping and badly breaking his leg on the tree that broke his 15-metre fall.

Armstrong then attempted the rescue, and it is understood he sat alongside his co-pilot as a supervisor because he was suspended from flying.

But his junior struggled to make the manouevre in their Robinson R44 light four-seater machine.

Kaikoura Search and Rescue (SAR) alternate controller Mike Morrissey said it was cloudy, the couple were in dense bush on a steep slope, and the view was that Lee could not be left overnight in such conditions.

Armstrong took the controls instead and dropped in Morrissey, a doctor, and the rest of the SAR team .

"Dave knew exactly where these guys were," Morrissey said.

"He's been flying to do rain gauges there every month for years.

"At that time Dave had the opportunity to do it. He was the best person for it so we used him."

Lee said he and his girlfriend had lost hope after hearing the first chopper turn back.

He had even accepted he might die alone by the time he heard the approach of Armstrong's chopper.

It took the SAR crew about six hours to stretcher Lee out of the bush, Morrissey said.

A source close to the case said Armstrong's flight-logs were later seized by police on behalf of the CAA.

The source said the day Armstrong flew, there was doubt about his medical issue and he had been challenging the opinion while trying to get the grounding order lifted.

Lee and McKenzie both wrote to the CAA in support of Armstrong when they heard of the prosecution.

"We truly believe that we owe our lives to Dave and the team that helped us, and there is no way we will ever be able to express our gratitude to them."

Lee wrote: "Clearly it was a life or death situation and we are grateful that Dave made that decision as I would not be here without him."

He said the pilot did not deserve such scrutiny.

"He's done a heroic act in my eyes. If anything, he deserves a medal for what he's done," Lee said. "He's a hero."

Wanaka pilot and Armstrong's friend, John Levy, said the cost of the prosecution and being grounded had affected the family's livelihood.

A spokesman for the CAA said it was not in a position to comment on the case while the matter was before the courts.

Armstrong and his lawyer also declined to comment.


The charges relate to alleged breaches of the Civil Aviation Act for performing search and rescue flights without a current medical license.

The Act, which is currently under review, says pilots can breach the law in life or death emergencies, but not if they are not lawfully entitled to fly.

That includes for medical reasons, or if their craft is not airworthy.

The maximum penalty is 12 months' jail or a $10,000 fine per offense.

Story and photos:

Hands-on experiences make Community College of Beaver County aviation program stand out statewide, nationally

Moore Aviation flight instructor Chris Wohlgemuth, left, of Coraopolis and student Logan Kress of Lisbon, Ohio, prepare a plane for flight on September 18. 

CHIPPEWA TWP. -- It’s a clear day in late September. The sun is shining, and a light breeze blows from the east. It’s a bit cramped in the air traffic control tower at the Beaver County Airport. 

 Four stories above the ground, Evan Johnson, Nathan Tkach and Josh Hunt watch the skies through 360 degrees of tinted windows. They are checking for a Cessna less than 10 miles out from the airport. Johnson is working local control today, guiding local pilots as they return to the airport. He speaks evenly into his headset, giving the incoming pilot clearance to land on the runway. Johnson, 21, of Pleasant Hills, checks the temperature and wind speed. Tkach, 19, of Robinson Township, works flight data.

It’s a quiet day for the crew in the air traffic control tower, with a handful of student pilots preparing for takeoff.

These aren’t seasoned veterans controlling the airspace of Beaver County. They’re fourth-semester students at the Community College of Beaver County about to graduate with an associate degree from the school’s air traffic control program. But along with that degree comes hundreds of hours of hands-on, on-the-job training -- a trait that makes CCBC’s program stand out.

Nationally recognized program

For nearly 50 years, CCBC’s aviation program has educated the next generation of pilots. The program expanded to include air traffic control in 1977. In 2013, a third track educating students in operating unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, was added. Aviation is a strength at CCBC, said college President Chris Reber.

“What I think we have is a model program where we are in a facility that is first-rate that provides hands-on instruction with renowned instructors,” Reber said. “These are the ingredients that keep it successful -- quality instruction, programs we can do well and programs that lead to successful careers.”

There are 36 aviation Collegiate Training Initiative Programs across the country. Only a fraction offer a drone program. CCBC’s program is the longest continuously running aviation program in the state. The Federal Aviation Administration has accredited the professional pilot program for its high quality, making it the only one of the six colleges and universities in Pennsylvania with professional pilot training to earn that distinction.

Retired Air Force Col. Bill Pinter, dean of the school of aviation sciences, said the accreditation allows students to receive a reduction in the required number of flight hours to complete their training.

“Our program, due to accreditation, is recognized as the best program in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Pinter said. “We have very dynamic programs with a national reputation. What we see is that our students are highly sought after.”

CCBC is the only one of the 36 CTI programs to offer students the chance to train as air traffic controllers in an on-campus tower and take their flight classes -- a private pilot’s license is required for the air traffic program.

In fact, a private pilot’s license is required for all students in the aviation program. The college has a partnership with two private flight schools -- ACES and Moore Aviation -- that operate out of the county airport. CCBC instructors teach the theory, math and history behind flight and, through the flight schools, students put what they’ve learned to practice.

“That’s the classroom, and we’re the labs,” said Brad Cossin, chief pilot at ACES and a 1990 graduate of the CCBC pilot program. “That’s why this program is one of the best in the country.”

Alec Schoedel remembers the first time he considered a career as a professional pilot. He was a senior at Hopewell High School with no idea what he wanted to do. He was offered a “discover ride” at the airport, where he could see what it was like to be a pilot.

Three semesters of college later, he’s working toward commercial flying certification. He recently flew to Rome, N.Y., by himself for the first time -- five hours and 250 miles in the sky alone.

“Not many kids can say they go to college and fly,” said Schoedel, 19. “If you don’t take advantage of this program, then you’re crazy.”

Rob Schattauer first heard about CCBC’s program as a high school student living in Slippery Rock. His parents were encouraging him to become an engineer, but after visiting an air show at the Beaver County Airport, he learned he could become a pilot at CCBC.

Now, Schattauer helps teach the next generation of pilots as the chief flight instructor at Moore Aviation. There’s a shortage of pilots in the industry -- major airplane manufacturer Boeing projects a need for 95,000 pilots in North America in the next 20 years. Pilots are required to retire at age 65, and since 2013, have been required to have 1,500 hours of flight experience. That’s up from 250, the requirement before the last fatal U.S. passenger airplane crash.

The training isn’t easy, Schattauer said, but it’s worth the time investment.

“Learning to fly is a very steep learning curve,” Schattauer said. “It’s like getting shot at with a fire hose -- you get all of the water at once.”

Hands-on experience

The folks in the air traffic control tower have a bit of a sense of humor. That’s necessary in the business, said Wayne Resetar, air traffic control program coordinator. That’s one of the things he looks for in a successful student.

“We look for somebody who is a little outgoing, that can take constructive criticism real well. People that can think outside of the box a little and have a good sense of humor,” said Resetar, who took the helm of the air traffic control program this fall. “Usually that’s a trademark of someone that ends up being pretty good at air traffic.”

When it’s time for the tape recording activity in the tower to be changed, an alarm sounds in the back of the air traffic control tower. It’s the opening notes of “Danger Zone,” the iconic theme from “Top Gun.”

It’s a stress-relief mechanism, Resetar said. Air traffic control can be a stressful business, he said, and the ribbing and jokes are a relaxation mechanism.

“The most challenging part is you want that successful ending to all the things you do,” Resetar said. “Along that journey to get to that successful ending, sometimes things crop up. That’s the challenge, just getting to that end result with the least amount of difficulties, and when they do crop up, having the ability to deal with them because you’re going to get them.”

The students know the job is important, but they need to have some fun with it, said Pete Kirkpatrick, a supervisor at the tower. They’ll be in the field for only a finite number of years -- the FAA requires mandatory air traffic control retirement at age 56, and the oldest a controller can be when hired is 31.

Ayla King will be much younger when she enters the FAA program in Oklahoma in January 2017. She will graduate from CCBC in December at 19 and will continue to take classes and, she hopes, work in the air traffic control tower. She’s one of more than 40 students to receive a job offer from the FAA this year.

Those interested in becoming a controller have to apply to the FAA, just like any other job. Once their resume and entry test are reviewed, the FAA makes offers to place successful candidates in a training class in Oklahoma City and, if they complete training, one of 315 air traffic control facilities across the country.

In 2014, the FAA changed the requirements, de-emphasizing the completion of programs like CCBC's. Now the main requirement for a controller job is to have three consecutive years of employment, though a biographical application and aptitude test are required before placement. That has hurt enrollment, Pinter said, but students like King still rise to the top of the program.

“It definitely helped, training here,” said King, of Middlefield, Ohio. “It has a very good reputation.”

King’s father is a captain with United Airlines. She already has a pilot’s license, but after visiting the Cleveland tower, she started considering air traffic control instead.

During her visit, she found that almost all of the controllers were CCBC graduates -- and they all had a good recommendation. Now a teaching assistant for third-semester students, King said the program gives students an experience that will help them acclimate to the job.

“It’s good hands-on experience,” she said. “We get to actually run traffic and pretend we’re running traffic out of Pittsburgh (in simulators). Going up to the tower to run ground control and get weather … that’s something a lot of schools don’t have.”

Every day in air traffic control is different, said Tom Hahne, a program graduate and tower instructor at CCBC. That’s part of the appeal.

“Students are actually forced to think about how they’re impacting real airplanes with people inside, and given that, they’re allowed to apply what they’ve learned in a classroom in a real-life setting,” said Hahne, 20, of Beaver Falls. “We see a lot of excitement on a day-to-day basis, having new people on both ends of the microphone.”

Having that control tower on campus is invaluable and one of the things that makes CCBC graduates stand out, Resetar said.

“You could sit in a classroom and lecture all day about how to control airplanes, but when you get to go do it, it’s different,” Resetar said. “There is no substitute for hands-on experience. It’s live. It’s real.

“Our students get that piece of it, where you can’t get that in other places.”

Story and photo gallery:

Head sets hang on the wall at Moore Aviation waiting for pilots to take when they fly.

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

The randomness and potential mayhem of a plane accident are particularly disconcerting, and when it happens, a community instinctively wants to know why it happened.

Such was the case when a small plane got into trouble after taking off from Fort Wayne’s Smith Field early September 26. On its way to land back at the airport, the Cessna 150F struck trees, a power line and a rooftop and flipped into the backyard of a Ludwig Park Drive home.

Federal Aviation Administration officials are investigating, and the National Transportation Safety Board has also taken an interest. But any report is predicted to be weeks away.

Shouldn’t local authorities be a little more involved, if for no other reason than to give the public some answers?

No one on the ground was hurt in the 3:45 a.m. crash, though a passenger in the plane was treated at a local hospital for injuries. The pilot apparently walked away from the scene. Beyond that, there was little information available to the media and the public.

Wednesday, attorney Michael Loomis said he already had notified the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board that Jeffrey Mills, the registered owner of the plane, was indeed the pilot. Loomis said Thursday that Mills had left the site of the crash “dazed and confused” and was also getting medical assistance, adding that “I can tell you that he has medical conditions outside the incident.” In fact, Loomis said, he had strongly recommended to his client that he surrender the medical license that allows him to pilot a plane.

By then, it had become clear that local police were not involved in the probe and that Indiana State Police had only a limited role in the investigation. The Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority would have gotten more involved if the plane had actually crashed on airport authority property, a spokesperson said.

“We are the lead agency on the accident investigation,” Anthony Molinaro, FAA spokesman for the Great Lakes Region, said Friday. Though agency representatives had not talked with Mills, FAA officials have viewed the crash site and will interview witnesses, study records and issue a report, Molinaro said. “We will be in touch with the pilot,” he said.

But Molinaro made it clear that the FAA would only be investigating the circumstances of the crash itself.

While Loomis has provided some answers to the media, his responsibility is first, of course, to his client.

The public still knows very little about the circumstances that led to the crash, and doesn’t even know what questions are going to be asked and answered by federal investigators.

  • Who was Mills’ passenger? 
  • When will the two of them be interviewed about the accident?
  • Are authorities convinced Mills was just taking a pleasure spin around the airport area in the middle of the night, as he told his attorney? What caused the plane’s engine to sputter out? 
  • Did Mills’ medical problems play into what happened and, if so, is there something other pilots should learn from the incident? 
  • Is there anything more local air authorities should be doing to ensure that apparently spur-of-the-moment airplane rides in the middle of the night are conducted safely?
The answers may be contained in a federal report, available in just a few weeks. 
  • Is that OK with everybody? 
  • Or should there be some kind of protocol to get local authorities more involved in such investigations?
Planes don’t fall out of the sky very often. But when they do, the public deserves some answers. 

Original article can be found here:

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Cessna 421C Golden Eagle, N68685: Incident occurred October 02, 2015 at Willmar Municipal Airport (KBDH), Kandiyohi County, Minnesota

This Cessna 421C Golden Eagle landed safely late Friday afternoon at Willmar Municipal Airport after going through an emergency checklist following a landing gear warning. Pilot Tom Sand was to use an emergency procedure to lock the landing gear in place before attempting a landing. The plane originated its flight from the Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport in Dickinson, North Dakota.

WILLMAR -- A private twin-engine airplane carrying six passengers returning from work in western North Dakota landed safely at Willmar Municipal Airport Friday afternoon after the pilot reported trouble with the left landing gear.

Pilot Tom Sand was returning to Willmar with six employees of Quam Construction of Willmar who were working for the company in the Dickinson, North Dakota, area.

Sand reported that lights and a horn indicated the landing gear was not functioning properly. After going through an emergency checklist, he activated an emergency procedure that used compressed air to blow the landing gear into place.

Sand flew low over the airport to allow airport personnel to see whether the gear was down. Personnel were not sure, however, if the gear was locked. Sand eventually landed the Cessna 421C Golden Eagle as softly as he could, then slowly negotiated the turn onto the taxiway and came to a stop at the hangar area.

Sand said the landing gear will be inspected.



Alaska State Troopers down to 1 chopper, can only afford to operate it for 9 more months

ANCHORAGE –  Alaska State Troopers own two search and rescue helicopters, Anchorage-based Helo 3 and Fairbanks-based Helo 2, which has been grounded indefinitely due to budget cuts. If changes aren’t made during the upcoming regular legislative session, they might not have a chopper at all.

Helo 2 has been out of commission since July, and troopers use Helo 3 in Anchorage for several missions every week, but right now, they can only afford to keep it in use through June of 2016.

Alpine Air Alaska helicopters are used for tourism about 40 percent of the time. But this past weekend, their mission was a more serious one, searching for a missing Anchorage man who disappeared.

KTVA got mixed signals about why the trooper’s helicopter didn’t fly.

“Somebody donated the money for that helicopter to be out here, the state troopers are not releasing their helicopter because of budget constraints,” the lead organizer for the Auxiliary Search Team said Sunday.

But Thursday, troopers told us they couldn’t launch the chopper because of bad weather conditions in Anchorage.

Keith Essex with Alpine Air said the weather wasn’t as bad in Girdwood, so a family friend of the missing man paid them to search, and they also donated some search time.

“Weather was actually much lower in Anchorage than it was here, which is not that common,” he said

Now that the chopper in Fairbanks is grounded, there have been other times when weather is fine but troopers have had to contract with outside companies for search and rescue missions because they’re down to one helicopter.

“Overall it’s about $250,000 per year for a helicopter to operate in Fairbanks,” said Alaska Wildlife Trooper Maj. Bernard Chastain.

Lt. Steven Adams is the Search and Rescue coordinator for the AST.

“There’s been times where we cannot effect the search and rescue with our own resources, and we’ve had to ask for assistance or a charter aircraft, but we don’t turn down search and rescue,” Adams said.

Troopers say they’ll make sure someone comes to help, but it may cost more money, and worse, more time. And if they don’t get more funds soon, they won’t have a helicopter in commission at all, and more calls for search and rescues will involve contracting companies like Alpine Air.

“Usually, like in the heat of something, it’s usually pretty tense and you’re usually focused on what you’re doing too,” Essex said. “You’re focused on not getting caught up in the whirlwind of what’s happening around you, concentrating on operating the helicopter and not getting involved with the emotion of what’s going on.”

He says their aircraft is similar to the ones troopers use, but the people operating them, while they’re willing to go, just don’t have the same emergency training and experience,

“If they do need our help more often, we’re here to help,” he added.

In just the last two years, the trooper choppers have been involved in the rescue and recovery of more than 1,500 people.

Now it’s up to legislators to decide where it fits into the budget.

Story,  video and comments:

Orca Airways pilot fired for runway excursion, not reporting • 'This could have killed us,' said passenger Denis McMullen

An Orca Airways pilot has been fired for a runway excursion at Tofino-Long Beach Airport (YAZ) , and not reporting the error to the airline.

"He got the aircraft down and everybody was pretty relieved, but you know, after a while it set in that this could have killed us," said Denis McMullen.

The McMullens — Denis and his wife — were two of six passengers on the flight from Vancouver to Tofino in September 2015.

Thick fog

The pilot warned passengers on take off that fog was thick, so the plane may have to land in Port Alberni.

"So, with that, we took off. It was a fairly uneventful journey until we got over to the west coast of the island — where there was a lot of low cloud."

The plane tried to approach twice, before landing, said McMullen.

After touch down he says it took "five seconds" before the plane ran out of runway.

CEO learned days later

Orca Airways CEO, Andrew Naysmith, says he didn't learn about the runway overshoot until days later, and that violates company policy, so the pilot was dismissed.

The airline was founded in 2005 and operates out of the Vancouver International Airport. Its 20 planes provide daily flights between Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

On the company's web site it describes itself as "a safety-driven, performance-based airline focused on continuous training."

Story and comments:

Cessna 172B Skyhawk, N7837X: Accident occurred October 03, 2015 near Benton Field Airport (O85), Redding, Shasta County, California

NTSB Identification: GAA16LA001
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 03, 2015 in Redding, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/03/2016
Aircraft: CESSNA 172B, registration: N7837X
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Uninjured.

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

The private pilot reported that, while landing after a cross-country flight, the landing roll seemed “fast” even though the airplane touched down “not far” past the runway numbers. The pilot determined that he would not be able to stop the airplane on the remaining runway, so he applied full power and aborted the landing. The airplane was in ground effect as it passed over the departure end of the runway. The pilot thought that the airplane was not going to clear the tree line in its flightpath, so he maneuvered the airplane to land on a dirt road. During the landing roll, the left wing impacted a barbed wire fence. The pilot reported that, during the initial landing, he “landed with a stiff tailwind on a short runway.” The pilot reported that there were no preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

During the accident, the passenger seated in the front right seat was ejected from the airplane and sustained a serious injury. According to the pilot, the passenger’s seat had been in the “full rearward” position, which placed the lap belt attachment points about “mid-thigh” and probably did not allow the shoulder harness to be “tightened securely.”

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s improper decision to land the airplane on a short runway with a tailwind and his subsequent delayed decision to abort the landing. 

On October 3, 2015, about 1130 Pacific daylight time (PDT), a Cessna 172B airplane, N7837X, struck a barbed wire fence after aborting the landing at Benton Field Airport (O85) about 1 mile west of Redding, California. The private pilot sustained minor injuries and the sole passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and both wings. The airplane was registered to a private individual and operated by the pilot as a visual flight rules (VFR), personal cross-country flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Yuba County Airport (MYV), Yuba City, California about 1030.

The pilot reported that the landing roll seemed "fast" despite the fact the airplane touched down "not far passed" the runway numbers. When the pilot determined that he would not be able to stop the airplane on the runway remaining, he applied full power in an attempt to abort the landing. 

The pilot reported that the airplane was still in ground effect as they passed over the departure end of the runway. He reported that he could see that they were not going to "clear" the tree line in their flight path. The pilot maneuvered to land on a dirt road that was "cut" into the hillside. 

The pilot reported that as they touched down on the dirt road it was "very loud and rough". During the landing roll the left wing impacted a barbed wire fence.

During the accident sequence, the passenger who was seated in the front right seat, was ejected from the airplane, and found about 30 feet from the wreckage. The pilot reported that the passenger's seat and seat belt were both intact and connected. The pilot reported that the passenger's seat was in the "full rearward" position, which placed the lap belt attachment points about "mid-thigh", and probably did not allow the shoulder harness to be "tightened securely".

In the operator/owner safety recommendation section of the pilot accident reporting form, the pilot reported "it is clear and obvious to me; I landed with a stiff tailwind on a short runway". 

The pilot reported that there were no pre-impact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.


A review of recorded data from the automated weather observation station located about 6 miles to the southeast, revealed that, at 1153 PDT, conditions were wind 350 degrees true at 12 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, and sky clear.
NTSB Identification: GAA16LA001 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 03, 2015 in Redding, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA 172B, registration: N7837X
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 October 3, 2015, about 1200 pacific daylight time (PDT), a Cessna 172B airplane, N7837X, struck a barbed wire fence after aborting the landing at Benton Field Airport (O85) about 1 mile west of Redding, California. The private pilot sustained minor injuries and the sole passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and both wings. The airplane was registered to a private individual and operated by the pilot as a visual flight rules (VFR), personal cross-country flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Yuba County Airport (MYV), Yuba City, about 1030.The passenger was ejected from the airplane during the accident sequence, and found about 30 feet from the wreckage. 

The wreckage was recovered and transported to a secure facility in Sacramento California for further examination. 


A review of recorded data from the automated weather observation station located about 6 miles to the southeast, revealed that, at 1153 PDT, conditions were wind 350 degrees true at 12 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, and sky clear.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Sacramento FSDO-25

REDDING, California -   Redding firefighters say they are investigating the cause of the plane crash that sent a woman to the hospital today.

The crash, reported at 11:15 a.m. at the south end of Benton Airfield, didn't hurt the pilot, said Rob Pitt, battalion chief.

The woman he was with suffered "significant injuries" and was rushed to Mercy Medical Center, Pitt said. Three engines and a truck went to the crash, he said.

UPDATED AT 1:30 p.m.

A plane crash in west Redding sent a woman to a hospital Saturday, authorities said.

A single-engine Cessna 172 out of Yuba City crashed just south of Benton Airpark after the pilot said he didn’t have enough runway to land the plane.

“It wasn’t anything extraordinary,” the pilot, David Marth, of Rancho Cordova, said of the crash shortly after it happened. “It certainly wasn’t the plane’s fault.”

The plane crashed in a canyon a few hundred feet south of the airpark next to a dirt and gravel road.

“He landed on runway 15 and had a little too much speed and ended up going off the end of the runway,” said Bryan Garrett, Redding Airports Manager.

Dispatchers reported the crash at about 11:15 a.m. The call prompted Redding Fire Department and police crews to respond, though the crash didn’t spark a fire in the dried out grass in the canyon.

The plane landed downwind, which isn’t optimal in windy conditions, Garrett said. A nearby weather monitoring station recorded wind gusts up to 18 mph at about the time of the crash, according to National Weather Service data.

Marth wasn’t injured in the crash though his wife, who wasn’t identified, was taken to a local hospital. Marth followed shortly after speaking with police, firefighters and other city personnel.

Firefighters initially reported major injuries to the woman, though the exact nature of those injuries is unknown.

Redding notified the National Transportation Safety Board, which then gave the city permission to move the plane wreckage, Garrett said.

“As soon as that happens, then it’s usually an insurance thing,” he said. “Same as it would be as a car on the roadside.”

Follow up on the crash will be handled by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Flight Standards District Office in Sacramento, Garrett said.

UPDATED AT 12:15p.m.

A Cessna 172 out of Yuba City crashed near Benton Airpark in west Redding at 11:15 a.m. Two people were in the plane and the passenger, the pilot's wife, was taken to the hospital, according to reports.

Pilot David Marth, who is from Rancho Cordova, said he "didn't have enough runway" to land the plane.

Redding Fire Department was on scene to address fire and medical needs. There were no reports of a fire.


Emergency crews are at Benton Airpark in west Redding on Saturday for a reported plane crash.

The crash was reported at 11:15 a.m.

Two people were reportedly in the plane and at least one is injured.

Story, video and photo gallery:

Waterville, Maine: Robert LaFleur Airport (KWVL) 'puts out the welcome mat' after two years and millions of dollars' worth of improvements

Randy Marshall, airport manager at Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport, stands with his dog, Molly, on Thursday on the newly renovated runway at the city-owned airport in Waterville. 

WATERVILLE — The Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport is poised to handle more jet traffic and service aircraft better after millions of dollars’ worth of work over the last two years, city officials say.

Those investments at the city-owned airport include a newly reconstructed main runway, new equipment, a renovated terminal, a self-serve fueling system, aircraft maintenance and flight school businesses on site and plans for further marketing.

“Over the last two years we’ve made investments because of a lack of equipment, and the facilities needed to be upgraded,” airport Manager Randy Marshall said. “The airport didn’t have the welcome mat out. Now we’re at a pivotal time in the airport’s history where we’ve made a lot of smart investments to position the airport to attract businesses to our community and provide the services they’re going to need to support their growth and the growth of the city.”

Mayor Nick Isgro said he expects the airport, with its improvements, to continue to see more activity and air traffic as it becomes “central Maine’s premiere and most attractive airport.”

“I’m very proud that the city several years ago decided to take steps to go in that direction, because I think it was a make-or-break moment for the airport,” Isgro said.

Officials say the enhanced airport could have a big economic impact on the region.

LaFleur has more than 350 fenced-in acres and another 100 or so beyond that, which includes the Airport Business Park. The park, which houses Suburban Propane and Pine Tree Waste, has lots of room for more businesses.

The city and the airport are working with the Central Maine Growth Council and the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce to try to draw more businesses to the park, according to Marshall.

Garvan Donegan, economic development specialist for the growth council, said his organization is taking a couple of different approaches in trying to help market the airport.

“How do we tell the story of the airport? And the subtext is, how are we promoting airports on the supply and demand side of economic development as it relates to the foreign trade zone, abutting industrial sites and acreage? And how are we using it to retain and attract businesses?” Donegan said.

Part of that marketing component is making sure the airport is included when large site evaluation companies do national, regional and local evaluations, according to Donegan.

“It’s not just a typical marketing campaign. It is a little bit more classic economic development,” he said.

The airport and the park are in the foreign trade zone, which allows companies doing business with foreign companies to get tax breaks and duty referrals and receive help with cash flow problems.

In the larger scheme of things, Donegan sees airports as allowing greater access to markets. They are economic drivers for the region and help advance global economies.

“Really, airports are robustly linked with economic development,” Donegan said.

United Parcel Service flies out of the airport to Manchester, New Hampshire, five nights a week with packages and other freight from its terminal on Industrial Road. Five mornings a week, UPS brings a load of freight back into LaFleur, according to Marshall.

Administrators from big-box stores such as Home Depot and Wal-Mart fly into the airport in jets, he said. Sappi engineers, politicians, people from Backyard Farms in Madison, summer campers and college students and their families, celebrities attending the Maine International Film Festival, aerial photographers and others use the airport, which also serves as a training ground for police and fire officials, as well as LifeFlight of Maine. State police, the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Maine Marine Patrol are among entities that have based planes at the airport, according to Marshall.

The airport has 13 hangars, two of which are owned by the city — the main hangar and one on the north end of the airport, which stores maintenance items including snowplows and snow blowing equipment.

Officials are applying for an FAA grant to build a new maintenance building so the hangar can be used to house aircraft instead of equipment. They also plan to apply for a second grant to purchase a new snowblower to replace one that has outlived its usefulness.

Eleven hangars at the airport are owned privately by pilots who live in Waterville, Winslow, Sidney, Belgrade, Palermo and other surrounding communities and have smaller planes such as Cessnas and Pipers.

John Brier, a retired commercial pilot for United Airlines, owns a hangar that houses an Ercoupe, a two-seater plane he flies with an open cockpit. His is one of more than 27 private planes kept at the airport.

Brier, 74, lives in Oakland in the summer and Florida in the winter. He also has a plane in Florida.

“I call this my full-service (fixed-base operator),” Brier said of LaFleur airport. “I come here every day. I have my coffee. I read the newspaper every day. I’m very happy here. They do a tremendous job.”

Brier praised Marshall and the city for improvements made to the airport.

“This guy headed it up,” he said of Marshall, who also is a call firefighter for both Waterville and Oakland.


The airport’s main runway was reconstructed in May and June with a $4.3 million Federal Aviation Administration grant, as well as $214,000 from the city and $214,000 from the state. The project came in $300,000 under budget. The airport was closed May 4 to July 2 for the work, which was contracted to Lane Construction, of Westbrook. R A Paradis & Son, of Newport, was the subcontractor.

About 5,500 feet long and 100 feet wide, it also got new running and approach lights, signs, navigational aids and underdrains as part of the project. The 2,300-by-60-foot crosswind runway was reconstructed in 2012 for about $900,000. In addition to rebuilding the main runway this year, the airport worked with the state and partnered with other airports to seal LaFleur’s taxiways.

The airport, which has a full instrument landing system, is noticeably more active than it was three years ago.

Black Bear Aviation, owned by Kevin Dauphinee, is on site with four employees performing aircraft maintenance, painting, sales and repair. Air New England, a charter service, also is on site, and AirLink LLC offers a flight school and scenic flights. The two businesses, owned by Klaus Thalinger, employ five people. Marshall and the airport’s maintenance technician, Ed Lively, are employed by the city full time, and line service specialist Mike Brown works part time.

The Maine-themed main terminal, which just a few years ago was dark and dingy, gleams with pine walls and counters, a leather sofa, a propane fireplace, television and a small gift shop.

The main hangar, previously used for cold storage for airplanes, was busy Thursday afternoon, with Black Bear staff members repairing, painting and/or detailing several aircraft, including a red-and-white Beechcraft Bonanza.

“A lot of the new equipment we purchased is over here,” Marshall said, motioning to the north end of the hangar.

His 8-year-old golden retriever, Molly, at his side, Marshall pointed out the new or refurbished equipment, including a ground power unit that provides power to aircraft for heating and air conditioning, a de-icing machine, a laboratory cart that sucks sewage out of airplane bathrooms and an aircraft tug.

“This is all equipment that enables us to operate efficiently throughout the year,” Marshall said.

In the corner, Black Bear and airport workers were sharing tools, including a drill press and a grinder.

“The whole idea behind everything we’ve been trying to do is partner with businesses, to let them grow and the airport grow,” Marshall said.

Also in the main terminal, airport employees proctor computer-based tests in a secure setting for PSI Testing Services, a national company that tests people in the medical, engineering, construction and real estate fields, and the airport gets revenue from the activity.


Dauphinee, the owner of Black Bear, moved his business to LaFleur from Dexter in 2013. On any given day, his business might be doing maintenance on several aircraft in the main hangar, he said. The company also has two aircraft it rents out for flights.

Black Bear has a lot of local clients, but on Thursday the staff was working on planes from Alaska, Vermont, New Hampshire and South Carolina. In some cases, aircraft owners fly their planes to Waterville to be worked on; but Dauphinee also retrieves airplanes from their home bases and flies them to LaFleur for maintenance, repairs or overhauls.

He said his business has grown a lot since moving to Waterville.

“It’s great — can’t beat it,” he said. “It’s a great location. The new runway and all that is going to help out quite a bit.”

Dauphinee, whose 3-year-old German short-haired dog, Willy, wanders about the terminal, said the airport is continuing to draw more users.

“I think it’s come a long way, and the self-serve fuel is great. I really think this is going to be a top contender in the state for a destination airport,” he said.

Marshall said the number of aircraft flying into the airport varies.

“I’ve had times when I’ve had more than 20 jets on our ramp — all private jets,” he said. “Our busier season is April through September, with the busiest time in the summer. When people fly here, they’re not only spending money at the airport, they’re utilizing our hotels, our restaurants, our local shops, rental car companies. They’re spending money in our communities. If we weren’t here, that money would be spent in somebody else’s community.”

City Manager Mike Roy said he thinks the Great Recession stymied air traffic in and out of the airport, “but I think we’re climbing out of that.”

Roy also complimented Marshall on the work he has done.

“A big part of the airport’s resurgence, I think, is due to the fact that we have Randy there. We now have someone full time as an airport manager where we didn’t in the past. We have somebody who wakes up every day thinking, ‘How can we make the airport better?'”


Last year, the airport spent $25,000 on property and airfield maintenance, $100,000 on personnel costs and $80,000 to $100,000 on annual operating expenses.

Marshall said the goal is to offset operating expenses, and that’s nearly happened in recent years.

“The ideology behind it is to build the airport into the economic generator that will attract businesses to Waterville,” he said. “We’re not breaking even yet.”

Last year, the airport lost about $100,000; but five or six years ago, it operated at a deficit of $130,000 to $150,000 and had nothing to show for it, according to Marshall.

“Now we’re operating at a fraction of the expense to the taxpayers, have a lot to show and a lot to offer.”

Roy, the city manager, agreed that the airport spent $100,000 more than it took in last year to provide services, but that is expected to change.

“We’re certainly hoping to close that gap,” he said. “Our goal is to close that gap between expenses and revenues so it become self-supporting and even revenue producing.”

Marshall points to the airport’s convenient location in central Maine, as well as other assets that will help spur growth.

“Interstate 95 is here. We have a facility that is not only welcoming, it’s safe, it’s efficient, and we have the equipment to serve the airport and proper training to operate safely,” he said. “There isn’t an inch of this airport that we haven’t gone over.”

In addition to a goal of breaking even, the airport hopes one day to have a restaurant on site, and there is room for a lot more hangars, according to Marshall.

“What I’d love to see is private investment,” Marshall said. “It’d be nice to see corporate hangars and aircraft based here.”

Staffs at other airports have been calling Marshall, seeking guidance and advice on issues he has already dealt with at LaFleur.

“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “We’ve become a leader in the general aviation community in terms of how we operate our facility.”

Story and photo gallery:

Ken Vautour, an aircraft mechanic with Black Bear Aviation, works on a Beechcraft airplane Thursday at Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport, the city-owned airport in Waterville. 

Randy Marshall, airport manager of Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport, stands at the ticketing counter Thursday with his dog, Molly, in Waterville. 

Randy Marshall, left, airport manager at Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport, watches as his dog, Molly, greets John Brier on Thursday in the lobby of the city-owned airport in Waterville.