Sunday, November 1, 2015

Raytheon (Beech) A36 Bonanza, N3BE, Valley Motors Inc: Fatal accident occurred October 29, 2015 near Russellville Regional Airport (KRUE), Pope County, Arkansas

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Little Rock, Arkansas
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama 

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

Valley Motors Inc:

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA024
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, October 29, 2015 in Pottsville, AR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/16/2017
Aircraft: RAYTHEON AIRCRAFT COMPANY A36, registration: N3BE
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

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.

The commercial pilot and three passengers departed on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight in instrument meteorological conditions that included a ceiling of 200 ft agl. About 1 mile from the departure end of the runway, the airplane impacted a ridge that was 216 ft above the airport's elevation. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. Damage to the airplane and to the trees at the accident site was consistent with controlled flight into terrain with the engine operating at a high power setting. Performance calculations indicated that the airplane had the capability to attain and maintain the minimum required IFR departure climb rate to safely clear terrain on takeoff from the departure runway.

Toxicology tests identified terazosin in the pilot's blood, as well as pravastatin, ranitidine, terazosin, and salicylate in urine; however, these medications do not cause drowsiness or affect judgment or executive function and are not considered impairing. Although the pilot had history of arrhythmia and his autopsy found one area of severe coronary artery disease, it is unlikely these medical conditions contributed to the accident sequence.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot's failure to maintain a sufficient climb rate during departure in instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain.


On October 29, 2015, at 0754 central daylight time, a Raytheon Aircraft Company A36 airplane, N3BE, impacted terrain shortly after departing from the Russellville Regional Airport (RUE), Russellville, Arkansas. The commercial-rated pilot and three passengers were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by Valley Motors, Inc., under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which departed on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan with a planned destination of McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS), Knoxville, Tennessee. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

A mechanic at RUE noticed the airplane taxi out and depart normally from runway 7 with the engine sounding "excellent." A fixed base operator employee observed the airplane's takeoff to be normal with no engine anomalies. Two witnesses east of the airport heard the airplane on departure. One perceived the engine to be "cutting out," and the other noticed the engine "sputtering."

An airport surveillance video camera recorded the airplane depart from runway 7 at RUE, which has a field elevation of 404 ft mean sea level (msl). The airplane subsequently impacted a ridge about 1 mile from the runway's departure end at an elevation of 620 ft msl. A postimpact fire consumed most of the airplane.


The pilot, age 65, held commercial pilot and flight instructor certificates with airplane single-engine land, multi-engine land, and instrument ratings. On his most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman medical application, dated February 23, 2015, the pilot reported 12,716 total flight hours. Pilot logbooks were not available for examination during the investigation. According to other pilots who had worked with him during his career, the accident pilot had worked as a flight instructor and flown for multiple Part 135 operators for over 25 years. The pilot had extensive experience flying out of RUE.

On his most recent FAA medical application, the pilot listed previously reported medical conditions that included thyroid cancer and thyroid removal (1979), gastroesophageal reflux disease, atrial fibrillation causing fainting (2004), and chronic kidney disease. He also reported using the following medications: terazosin, amiodarone, calcitriol, pravastatin, ranitidine, levothyroxine, and lisinopril. Terazosin, brand name Hytrin, is used to treat symptoms from an enlarged prostate gland and to help control blood pressure. Amiodarone, brand name Cordarone, is an anti-arrhythmic drug used to prevent recurrence of atrial fibrillation. Calcitriol is a prescription form of Vitamin D and is used to treat deficiencies or problems managing calcium balance due to kidney or parathyroid disease. Pravastatin, brand name Pravachol, is used to treat high cholesterol. Ranitidine is an over-the-counter medication, brand name Zantac, and is used to treat heartburn. Levothyroxine, brand name Synthroid, is a replacement thyroid hormone. Lisinopril, brand names Prinivil and Zestril, is a blood pressure medication.

At the time of his most recent FAA medical examination, the pilot provided information from his cardiologist regarding his heart condition and received a time-limited special issuance second class medical certificate. The medical certificate was limited by a requirement for corrective lenses and marked, "not valid for any class after February 29, 2016."


The airplane, a Raytheon Aircraft Company A36, serial number E-3300, was issued a standard airworthiness certificate on February 7, 2000. The airplane was equipped with a Continental IO-550-B engine, serial number 684769, and a Hartzell 3-bladed aluminum-hub propeller. The airplane's Honeywell avionics suite included a Bendix/King KFC 225 Automatic Flight Control System and Garmin 430W/530W navigation systems. The airplane's last annual inspection was performed on June 1, 2015, at a total airframe time of 722.3 flight hours.


At 0753, the weather observation station at RUE reported the following conditions: wind calm, visibility 4 miles, overcast clouds at 200 ft above ground level (agl) with mist, temperature 12° C, dew point 11° C, and altimeter setting 29.92 inches of mercury.

At 0819, the weather observation station at RUE reported the following conditions: wind 010 degrees at 4 knots, visibility 3/4 miles, overcast clouds at 200 ft agl with mist, temperature 12° C, dew point 11° C, and altimeter setting 29.93 inches of mercury.

The pilot used the Direct Users Access Terminal System (DUATS) to obtain electronic weather briefings and accessed the system three times between the evening before the accident and the morning of the accident. The last access, at 0518, included a low-level weather briefing for a flight between Russellville, Arkansas, and Knoxville, Tennessee. The briefing included observations of IFR conditions at RUE and observations from several other stations en route of marginal visual flight rules to IFR conditions in mist.


The airplane collided with treetops in a rural area and then struck a stone retaining wall and the slope of a hill. The airplane came to rest 282 ft beyond the first tree strike on a heading of 310°. The engine separated from the airplane and was found lying in an inverted position uphill from the airframe.

The propeller was separated from the engine, the propeller spinner was crushed aft, and all three propeller blades remained attached to the propeller hub. Multiple tree limbs and branches that displayed diagonal sharp cuts and black paint transfers consistent with propeller strikes were found at the base of pine trees.

All six engine cylinders remained secured to the crankcase. The right-side cylinders sustained significant thermal damage, which partially melted the rocker covers and destroyed the ignition leads. The left-side cylinders sustained very little thermal damage. With the bottom sparkplugs removed, the cylinders were examined using a lighted borescope. No anomalies were noted with the cylinder barrels, pistons, cylinder heads, valves, or valve seats.

The magnetos remained secured to the engine, and the ignition harness remained attached to the magnetos. The bottom sparkplugs displayed very little wear and little-to-no combustion deposits when compared to the Champion Aviation Service Manual (AV6-R). The magneto's drives were intact, and impulse couplings could be heard and felt during manual rotation of the drive shafts. Sparks were observed on the distributor block towers during manual rotation of the left magneto. Sparks were not observed during manual rotation of the right magneto. The right magneto's housing cover was removed, and it was noted that the capacitor was thermally distorted and a portion of the capacitor's wire insulation was partially melted exposing some of its wires. When the right magneto's drive shaft was rotated with the capacitor removed, a spark was observed across the points as they opened.

The crankshaft was manually rotated, and continuity was confirmed from the propeller flange to the accessory end and out to each piston and each cylinder valve train. The left-side cylinders all produced thumb compression during crankshaft rotation. Due to thermal damage, thumb compression could not be obtained on the right-side cylinders.The engine-driven fuel pump sustained thermal damage, and it was disassembled with no anomalies noted. The throttle body and fuel metering unit were separated from the engine, and the throttle valve was near a full open position. The mixture cable remained attached to the mixture control lever, and the throttle lever was fractured near the cable attach area but remained attached to the throttle shaft. The fuel inlet screen was removed from the metering unit, and although some black debris was found on the screen, it was not obstructed.

The fuel manifold valve remained attached to the engine, and residual fuel was found in the manifold valve body. The fuel injector lines remained attached to the fuel injector nozzles, which remained secured to their cylinders. All the nozzles were clear of debris except for the No. 1 nozzle, which contained dirt and debris.

The left and right flap actuator extensions corresponded to a flap retracted position. The landing gear actuator was in a retracted position, and the landing gear emergency extension hand crank was in a stowed position. The airspeed indicator was thermally damaged with the pointer indicating 120 knots. No anomalies were noted with the flight control system, vacuum pump, or attitude gyro. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.


According to the autopsy report from the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, Medical Examiner Division, the pilot's cause of death was multiple blunt injuries, and the manner of death was accident. A focal area of 70% narrowing by atherosclerotic plaque was identified in the left anterior descending coronary artery. Aside from this one area of severe coronary artery disease, the examination of the heart was unremarkable.

Toxicology testing performed by the FAA's Bioaeronautical Research Sciences Laboratory identified terazosin in blood, as well as pravastatin, ranitidine, terazosin, and salicylate in urine. Terazosin, pravastatin, and ranitidine are described above and had been reported to the FAA. Salicylate is a metabolite of aspirin, an over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory drug.


At maximum gross weight, the airplane's climb rate was calculated to be 1,150 ft per minute, based on full engine power and 100 knots indicated airspeed. The minimum required IFR departure climb rate to safely clear terrain on takeoff from runway 7 at RUE was calculated to be 835 ft per minute at 100 knots ground speed and 955 ft per minute at 120 knots ground speed.


On December 1, 2014, the pilot started a 5-day King Air 200 initial simulator training course conducted by SIMCOM Aviation Training. After the fourth day of this training, the pilot voluntarily withdrew from the course at the recommendation of his instructor. The instructor stated that the pilot's performance was below standards due to frequently "falling behind the aircraft" and task saturation issues, especially during instrument procedures.

From February 2015 until July 2015, the pilot flew a King Air 200 as second-in-command. The pilot-in-command of these flights stated that the pilot's multi-tasking abilities and situational awareness were a weak area, including an episode when he landed with the brakes engaged, which blew both main tires. He further stated that the pilot tended to have instrument fixation issues, struggled to use the flight director properly, and sometimes did not reference the attitude indicator enough during critical phases of flight.

Other pilots familiar with the pilot's earlier flying career stated that he was a very competent, conscientious, and skillful pilot. A pilot who flew at the same company that employed the accident pilot several years before the accident stated that the pilot flew at this company for 20 to 25 years without failing a check ride.

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA024 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, October 29, 2015 in Pottsville, AR
Aircraft: RAYTHEON AIRCRAFT COMPANY A36, registration: N3BE
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 October 29, 2015, at 0754 central daylight time, a Raytheon Aircraft Company A36 airplane, N3BE, impacted terrain after departing from the Russellville Regional Airport (RUE), Russellville, Arkansas. The pilot and three passengers were fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by Valley Motors Inc. under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which departed on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan with a destination of McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS), Knoxville, Tennessee. The flight was originating at the time of the accident. 

An airport surveillance video camera recorded the airplane depart from Runway 07 at RUE, which has a field elevation of 404 feet mean sea level (MSL). The airplane subsequently impacted tree tops in a rural wooded area about 1 mile off the departure end of Runway 07, at an elevation about 620 feet MSL. A post-impact fire consumed the majority of the airplane. 

At 0753, the weather observation station at RUE reported the following conditions: wind calm, visibility 4 miles, overcast clouds at 200 feet above ground level with mist, temperature 12 degrees C, dew point 11 degrees C, and altimeter setting 29.92 inches of mercury.

Wesley Harris, Julie Harris Lefevre and Robert Harris.

The Arkansas State Medical Examiner confirmed on Tuesday the identities of the four victims in the Oct. 29 plane crash in Pope County.

A press release issued by the Pope County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday identified the victims as Phillip Cowger, 65, who was the pilot, and three passengers: Robert Harris, 48, Wesley Harris, 43, and Julie Harris Lefevre, 41.

Cowger's funeral is scheduled for today. Funeral services for Robert Harris, Wesley Harris and Lefevre took place Tuesday. 

Although the victims were previously named by various media outlets, family and friends, they were not officially confirmed prior to Tuesday.

The deceased were all on board a single-engine aircraft that took off from the Russellville Regional Airport at approximately 7:54 a.m. on Oct. 29, bound for Nashville, Tenn. The plane impacted hilly terrain three miles east of the Russellville airport. After the impact, a fire broke out and consumed all but about a third of the aircraft.

A 911 call was placed at 8:14 a.m. Authorities arrived on the scene at 8:24 a.m. All four occupants from the plane were recovered, and all were deceased when authorities located them.

Julie Harris Lefevre

Wesley Harris

Robert Harris

Philip Bost Cowger

Obituary: Philip Cowger

Philip Bost Cowger age 65 of Dardanelle died Thursday, October 29, 2015. He was born March 31, 1950 to the late John Philip and Sarah Frances Bost Cowger. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Dardanelle, a 1968 graduate of Dardanelle High School and a 1974 graduate of Henderson State University with a B.A. Degree in Business. He was preceded in death by his parents.

Survivors include his wife, Betty Cowger of Dardanelle; two daughters, Scarlet Cowger Evans (Danial) of Morrilton, Sarah Cowger of Plano, Texas; one brother, John W. Cowger (Cathey) of El Dorado; one nephew, Alan Cowger; one niece, Amber Cowger both of El Dorado; two grandchildren, Guyler and Xander Evans of Morrilton.

Memorial services will be held at 2:00P.M., Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at Cornwell Chapel in Dardanelle with Jim Benfer officiating. Visitation will be held Wednesday, 1:00P.M. to 2:00P.m. at the chapel prior to the service.

Honorary Pallbearers will be Newell Carter, Doyle McIntyre, Leslie Teaff, Paul Horney, Andy Berkmeyer, Bob Burris, Dwight Talbert, River Valley Pilot Association.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 188, Dardanelle, Arkansas 72834.

Arrangements are by Cornwell Funeral Home and River Valley Cremations in Dardanelle. Online Guest Book and Condolences at

Philip Bost Cowger:

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) - Funeral services are set for Tuesday, November 3rd in Russellville for three of the four people who died in a small plane crash on October 29.

Robert and Wes Harris along with Julie Harris Lefevre will each be memorialized at 1st United Methodist Church. The siblings as well as the pilot Phillip Cowger died in the crash shortly after taking off from Russellville airport.



Julie Harris Lefevre: Lefevre

Wes Harris: Harris

Robert Griffin Harris: Harris

Aviation lawyer ‘took off’ with clients • He represented the families of victims in both the MH370 and MH17 disasters .... Now his former firm is suing him

Shine Lawyers is suing a former employee for $665,000 who allegedly took six clients when he left the firm.

Aviation law expert Joseph Wheeler allegedly breached confidentiality clauses when he took the clients, all of whom have relatives who died in the Malaysia Airlines MH17 and MH370 disasters, The Courier Mail reported.

Lodged in the Brisbane Supreme Court, Shine’s statement of claim says he asked them to transfer files to his new business, International Aerospace Law & Policy Group, where he was acting as an agent for Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.

“Shine funded Wheeler to travel nationally and internationally including to Malaysia, China and Canada to meet with relatives of the victims of the plane crashes and to publicize to relatives and other experts in aviation compensation matters Shine’s expertise in such matters,” the claim said.

According to Shine, the clients represented a commercial opportunity with an estimated 50 percent chance of attracting a further 30 contracts from family members relating to the disasters.

Wheeler denies the allegations, his defense indicating that information on the family members was public and that the clients’ decision to follow him was made by them.

A hearing date has not yet been determined.

- Source:

​Drone in near-miss with Vans RV6 flying 2,000ft above Northants - UK

A drone being flown above the permitted height limit nearly collided with a light aircraft flying at 170mph over Northamptonshire, air safety investigators have found.

The UK Airprox Board, set up to enhance air safety in the UK, has published a report into an incident which happened 2,000ft (610m) up in the air above Byfield, on May 30.

It details that the pilot of a Van's RV-6 two-seater aircraft had to take 'evasive action' after spotting the drone, which flew past the left-hand side of his aircraft just 50ft away.

The pilot described the drone as a 'red and yellow, three-rotor drone', which was the 'type that can be easily bought in shops and not a commercial surveillance type vehicle'.

The pilot described the drone as one with three rotors, although the board feels it was likely to be a four rotor and that this indicated the drone was flying at the same level as the aircraft.

But although he reported the near-miss, the drone could not be seen on radar and the operator could not be traced.

The UK Airprox Board branded the risk rating a "category B", meaning the aircraft's security was compromised.

The report stated that, according to air safety regulations, drones of this type are not allowed to be flown above 1,000ft.

The report went on to state: "The Board thought that, although it might just be possible for an observer to be able to see a drone at a height of 1300- 1400ft, it would be impractical to judge separation from other aircraft with any degree of accuracy (drone operators were also required to keep 50m away from any third parties, including other aircraft).

"Flying drones above 1000ft was, in any case, contrary to existing CAA regulations; the issue being whether this had been done knowingly or unknowingly. The Board also acknowledged the difficulty in policing and enforcing the regulations; unfortunately, the short battery life of drones means that, with a typical flying time of approximately 15 minutes, it is difficult for the police to respond and catch drone operators flouting the regulations."

Discussing which category to place the incident at, the report concluded: "Although there was no radar data to measure the exact separation, the Board thought it was clear from the pilot's report that this was a fairly close encounter, and they assessed the risk as Category B, safety margins had been much reduced below the norm, but not quite to the point where separation had been reduced to the minimum."

- Source:

Airprox report:

The RV6 pilot reports that he had just switched to a listening watch on the Sywell frequency when he saw the red and yellow, 3-rotor drone.  He reported that it was the type that can be easily bought in shops and not a  commercial  surveillance  type  vehicle.    He  took  evasive  action  and  the  drone passed down the side of the aircraft and under its left wing.

Date: May 30, 2015
Time: 1135Z
Position: 5210N 00114W
Location: Byfield, Northampton

WINAIR three wise men sent home without compensation

Elvis Queely, Michel Carter, and Jeff Oliver, the employees that were fired.

PHILIPSBURG:   The court of First Instance ruled in favor of Windward Islands Airways N.V (WINAIR) on Friday giving the company all rights to dismiss three of their top employees without compensation after they were caught using the company’s intellectual property while working for WINAIR to establish their own airline.

The case brought against the three employees individually was to grant WINAIR the rights to terminate the employees without compensation. 

The court ruled in favor of WINAIR citing that the three employees were disloyal to their employer when they used the company’s information to form their own company which would be in competition of the national airline while working for WINAIR.

WINAIR also brought another case against the three top employees namely Michel Carter, Elvis Queely, and Jeff Oliver. 

In that case WINAIR wanted the court to prohibit them from using the company’s intellectual property, recruiting staff from the company, and to order them to return all intellectual property they have in their possession from the company. WINAIR asked the court to impose a daily fine starting from $10,000.00 per day to a maximum of $1M. The court dismissed that case.

The three employees Oliver, Carter and Queely were first suspended then fired after they informed their bosses that they were involved in providing consultancy work for person that are interested in launching a new airline that will compete with WINAIR. 

The “three wise men” as they are famously known as told their employers that instead of being paid for their services they were given shares in the company. 

The three senior staff members were working together with a former employee that was fired from the company for alleged theft, that person Rolando Brison opened his own company which a marketing agency and also a business partner in the new airline that will soon be established if they managed to obtain a license to operate.

Story, comments and photo:

Vietnam Veterans' Voices: Rich White flew combat missions as helicopter pilot

As a Huey helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, Rich White has both proud and terrible memories of his 21 months of service in the Saigon area.

He took heavy fire during combat missions, and came within seconds of crashing in a rice paddy after an equipment failure. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for saving the life of a two-star general by evading ground artillery with quick reflexes. He has been able to help younger veterans with their struggles to cope with their experiences.

However, his time in the war came with a price. Many of his friends were killed. Once, when he flew home, he was walking through the airport in his dress blues when a teenage girl came up and spit on his uniform and called him a "baby killer."

White, a man of strong Christian faith, doesn’t have any proof that he ever killed anybody, but he did fire into treelines to suppress enemy fire. His experiences led him to develop post-traumatic stress disorder nearly 40 years after the war, mainly triggered by watching movies in which families have to deal with the aftermath of the death of a loved one.

White, who lives with his wife in the Seeley Lake area, was just a 23-year-old kid who had always dreamed of flying airplanes when he volunteered for the Army in 1966.

He was assigned to the 187th Assault Helicopter Company – the Blackhawks –and began flying combat missions after four weeks of “ash and trash” (non-combat) missions.

Q: What was it like to take fire during a combat mission?

A: This one time we were hauling the South Vietnamese Army. We did not like it because in ’67 they had so many Viet Cong infiltrators in their units that they always knew where we were going, what was going to happen, everything. So we had this body language thing. If they were sitting there drinking Cokes and eating candy bars, nothing’s gonna happen all day long. But if they’re cleaning their weapons, getting extra ammo and extra grenades, you know you’re going to step into it. So we picked them up that morning and they were all getting extra ammo and we thought, "Oh man." So we’re doing search and destroy and we do six inserts that day, all over this place, leapfrogging. The gunships are checking the LZ. Nothing’s happening.

So end of the day, we go to pick them up in a combat formation. The idea is the greater firepower on the heavier side can hit the Landing Zone. The troops are on the ground, ready for the pickup, and it’s 6-foot-high elephant grass. And we’re down to 30 miles an hour and about 100 feet over the troops. We’re settling into the grass and we start taking fire through the helicopter. And lead calls, "Get out of here, the LZ’s hot!" and helicopters are zigzagging all over the place. We’re going out the other side. Our seats are armored and we wear ballistic helmets, which can stop a small round. But I start crouching down in my seat and I look over at my co-pilot and he’s doing the same thing and he’s looking at me and we both start laughing hilariously. The crew in the back thought we had flipped out. It was one of those funny moments.

Q: Did you develop PTSD after the war?

A: I came home knowing that I lost three friends over there. Over the years, I had gone to several schools and talked to kids about being in Vietnam and everything, and it didn’t seem to pose a problem. But in 2010, I started having, I found out later, PTSD. Forty years after the fact. There’s a very good counselor in town that has done a lot of work with PTSD. I said, "What’s wrong with me that it happens after 40 years?" He goes, "Rich, for anybody that’s been in combat, it’s not if it will happen, it’s when." Some have it immediately after combat, others it’s later. There’s no rhyme or reason for it.

Part of the therapy for that was to join the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association. When you join, you have access to a website of names and addresses and you can find out where guys were at. And the three I knew I had lost turned into a dozen friends that I had lost. I didn’t know that had happened. Five of them were friends I flew with all the way through flight school and the rest were guys that I got to be friends with in the units we flew in. So that was something to work through.

Q: Was it therapeutic to attend events with the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association?

A: They had an event in California, and my wife and daughter went to that with me, and it was really special. They do a lot of work helping veterans get back on track. A lot of those guys have been through a lot. They had a Missing Man Dinner. There were 1,100 people there. They had a single small table with a place setting and a rose on it and that was almost enough to get you to break down. But then the New York Police Department bagpipe band came in playing "Amazing Grace," and everybody lost it.

- Read more here:

Transportation Security Administration to offer program for expedited security clearance at Yeager Airport (KCRW), Charleston, West Virginia

West Virginia air travelers will soon get the chance to sign up for a Transportation Security Administration program that allows them to leave on their shoes, belts and light outerwear, and keep laptops in their cases as they pass through TSA airport security checkpoints.

From Nov. 9-13 at Charleston’s Yeager Airport, the TSA will operate a temporary enrollment center for its PreCheck program, an expedited screening option now available at more than 150 airports and involving 12 airlines, including four (Delta, United, American and US Airways) operating at Yeager. The enrollment center will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day in Yeager’s ticketing lobby.

Successful applicants will receive a TSA “Known Traveler Number,” or KTN, which they should enter when booking flight reservations, either online, by phone to an airline reservation center, or with travel agents. The KTN can be entered in participating airlines’ frequent flyer profiles and stored for future bookings.

The program is open to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. TSA charges a nonrefundable $85 application fee, which covers five years of expedited check-in service. The fee can be paid at the time of application by credit card, money order, company check, certified check or cashier’s check. Cash or personal checks will not be accepted.

Citizens born in the United States should bring either a passport, enhanced driver’s license, birth certificate with an official seal or a certified copy of a birth certificate to the enrollment center. Fingerprints will be taken of those applying at the center. Persons who have been convicted of certain criminal offenses may not be eligible to apply. To pre-enroll and schedule an appointment for the program at Yeager, find information about documentation needed by naturalized citizens, or learn about disqualifying criminal offenses, go to Walk-in applicants are also welcome, according to the TSA.

Successful applicants will receive their KTNs via U.S. Mail within a few weeks of applying.

- Source:

China Rolls Out First Large Passenger Jet • Single-aisle C919 airliner won’t be delivered to airlines for at least another three years

The Wall Street Journal 
Updated Nov. 2, 2015 7:08 p.m. ET

BEIJING—China’s first large passenger jet rolled off the assembly line on Monday after years of delays, bringing Beijing’s dream of developing a rival to Boeing Co. and Airbus Group SE closer to reality.

Still, the single-aisle C919 airliner won’t be delivered to airlines for at least another three years, highlighting the difficulties China has faced in becoming a global player in aviation.

Developed by state-run Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd., or Comac, the twin-engine jet was initially set for its first flight in 2014, ahead of commercial deliveries starting in 2016. Production setbacks forced Comac to repeatedly extend its deadlines. Company executives say flight testing should start next year, with deliveries expected in 2018 or 2019 at the earliest.

Comac hasn’t disclosed list prices for the C919.

Thousands of guests, including government officials and aerospace executives, witnessed the C919’s rollout at an assembly plant near Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport, according to Chinese state media.

As patriotic songs blared in a large hangar, the C919 prototype—decked out with white, blue and green Comac livery—emerged from behind red curtains under a banner that proclaimed “Dreams take flight” in Chinese, footage aired by state broadcaster China Central Television showed. The jet was then towed past guests before slowing to a stop just outside the hangar.

The 158-to-174 seater, designed in Shanghai but incorporating components sourced globally, relies on foreign technology, including avionics from Rockwell Collins Inc. and engines developed by CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric Co. and the Snecma engine unit of France’s Safran SA. The jet is expected to undergo ground and flight tests spanning two to three years, before attaining certification from China’s civil-aviation regulator and entering commercial service.

China unveiled plans to develop the C919 in 2006 as part of a decadeslong effort to create an advanced aerospace sector capable of breaking the Airbus and Boeing duopoly. Coming after an abortive effort in the 1970s and early 1980s to develop a large commercial jetliner, the C919 was meant to help satisfy growing air-travel demand on the mainland, competing with the likes of Airbus’s A320 family and Boeing’s 737 series.

Airbus and Boeing, in separate emailed statements, congratulated Comac and welcomed competition from the Chinese aerospace firm, saying the aviation market is large enough to accommodate an additional manufacturer.

Airbus and Boeing, for their part, are seeking to shore up their market shares in China by building up an industrial footprint on the mainland, and developing new aircraft that can outperform coming Chinese rivals. Airbus assembles some A320s in the northeastern city of Tianjin, while Boeing in December announced plans for a 737 completion-and-delivery center in China, where aircraft will be painted and interiors installed.

Both companies also plan to widen the number of jets they make using carbon-fiber composite materials, which are lighter and considered more efficient. Boeing Chairman Jim McNerney said last year that Boeing was considering a new composite-materials aircraft that would replace its 737 Max in part because of potential competition from the C919.

About 12% of the C919 airframe comprises advanced composite materials, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Industry experts say Comac had hoped to use composite materials for about 20% of the jet, so as to reduce fuel consumption, carbon emissions and operating costs, but scaled back those plans amid production delays.

Delays to the C919’s commercial debut mean it could be pitted against newer versions of the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 that will likely surpass the C919 in operational performance, said Derek Levine, an adjunct professor at the City College of New York, who studies China’s aviation policies.

A challenge for newcomers like Comac is breaking into the vast customer base that Airbus and Boeing already have, and economies of scale that enable the two aerospace giants to build planes at low cost.

Industry analysts nonetheless expect Comac to secure a significant chunk of China’s aviation market, thanks to virtually guaranteed sales to domestic carriers amid booming demand. Boeing, for its part, projects China’s commercial airplane fleet to nearly triple to more than 7,200 aircraft by 2034, including demand for some 4,630 single-aisle planes.

Shanghai-based Comac said it has received 517 orders for the C919 from 21 customers, though Chinese airlines—whose aircraft purchases are controlled by the government—account for the vast majority. Industry analysts say foreign airlines are reluctant to invest in unproven aircraft lacking operational track record and safety certification from Western regulators like the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency.

“If you’re going to get foreign orders for the C919, I think they’re going to need to see a lot of data about how the aircraft performs,” said Greg Waldron, the Asia managing editor of industry publication Flightglobal. “The airlines will need to see tons of operational data, they’ll need assurances of international customer support.”

Even so, Comac is already planning to develop an even larger commercial airliner—the C929 widebody—that industry executives say will be capable of carrying more than 300 passengers and would compete with the Boeing 777.

The C919’s rollout comes as China prepares for the commercial debut of another homemade passenger jet, the smaller ARJ21 regional jet, which has been plagued by repeated production delays that set back the original 2010 delivery schedule. According to Xinhua, launch customer Chengdu Airlines is expected to take delivery of the 78- to 90-seat turbofan aircraft by the end of this year.

Original article can be found here:

The Comac C919 is unveiled in Shanghai, on November 2, 2015. 

  • First C919 to roll off assembly line in Shanghai factory
  • Comac's plane expected to have first test flight next year

China unveiled a prototype of its first homegrown passenger jet that it hopes will compete with airliners from Boeing Co. and Airbus Group SE, setting the stage for the plane’s first flight sometime next year.  

A crowd of several thousand gathered Monday as Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China, also known as Comac, rolled out the single-aisle C919 airliner at the company’s manufacturing and assembly center in Pudong, near Shanghai’s main airport. The plane emerged from layers of red curtains with gold trimming to great applause and patriotic songs blaring from the sound system.

“The air transportation industry of China cannot completely rely on imports,” Li Jiaxiang, head of China’s civil aviation administration, said in a speech. “A great nation must have its own large commercial aircraft.”

China’s focus on a homegrown aerospace industry is part of a broader push to elevate its economy into the ranks of advanced industrialized nations by 2020. With a capacity for 168 passengers, the C919 aims to challenge the dominance of the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 in the market for planes with more than 100 seats.

Loftier Ambitions

Comac said Monday it has received 517 purchase commitments for the plane, from 21 customers. Nearly all the orders are from Chinese customers.

On Monday, the first C919 rolled through the hangar with its wings above the heads of the cheering crowd, many of whom waved Chinese flags. The plane moved out of the hangar and stood parked on the tarmac, where people posed for group photos.

“It’s a wonderful day for Chinese civil aviation. There’s a great sense of national pride and achievement,” said Russell Beck, a senior director of Panasonic Corp., who was visiting from California. Panasonic supplied the C919’s cabin communication equipment.

China’s aerospace ambitions go beyond the C919. Comac and Russia’s United Aircraft Corp. are aiming to sign an accord by the end of this year to build a wide-body plane together.

Engine Drive

The partnership with Russia could eventually grow to include the development of an engine. China is keen to develop its own engine for the C919, which initially will be powered by a version of the LEAP engine developed by CFM International Inc., a joint venture between GE Aviation LLC and a division of France’s Safran SA.

As part of its engine drive, China is considering a plan to pull various assets related to aerospace engines into a single company, according to people familiar with the matter. The plan is still in the initial stages and straddles multiple ministries.

Comac also is developing a smaller regional jet that’s expected to enter commercial service by the end of this year. The ARJ21 will compete with planes from Embraer SA and Bombardier Inc. as well as a new regional jet from Japan’s Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp.

Mitsubishi Aircraft put off the first test flight of its regional jet to the week of Nov. 9, its fifth delay. By comparison, Comac’s ARJ21 was expected to have its first flight in 2005, with commercial services beginning 18 months later, putting it nearly 10 years behind schedule.

- Source:

Lancair Super ES, N817PR: Fatal accident occurred October 26, 2015 in Pascagoula, Mississippi

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Pearl, Mississippi 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Aircraft previously registered as N808PX: 

NTSB Identification: ERA16LA028
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, October 26, 2015 in Pascagoula, MS
Aircraft: SCHUMACHER Lancair Super ES, registration: N817PR
Injuries: 3 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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 26, 2015, about 1237 central daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built Lancair Super ES, N817PR, operated by a private individual, was presumed destroyed after it impacted the Mississippi Sound, in the vicinity of Pascagoula, Mississippi. The commercial pilot and two passengers were presumed fatally injured. The airplane departed from Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport (GPT), Gulfport, Mississippi, about 1220. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the departure airport. No flight plan had been filed for the personal flight that was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to preliminary information obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airplane was owned by the pilot and based at Monroe Regional Airport (MLU), Monroe, Louisiana. Earlier in the day, the pilot flew from MLU to Ruston, Louisiana (RSN) to pick up one passenger, and then to GPT to pick up the second passenger. According to the wife of one of the passengers, the pilot was flying the occupants to South Carolina to attend a business meeting. Prior to departure from GPT, the pilot stated to air traffic controllers that he intended to take some pictures in the local area and then continue to "Daytona Beach." The airplane departed from runway 14 at GPT, made a left turn to the northeast at the Gulfport shoreline, and climbed to an altitude of 2,000 feet mean sea level (msl). About 1226, the pilot requested and was approved to terminate air traffic control flight following. The airplane's transponder code changed to "1200" and the pilot made a right turn to the southeast. The last recorded radar target with an associated altitude was at 1234:37, at an altitude of 2,800 feet msl; however, additional radar targets consistent with the accident airplane continued to about 1237, with the airplane located over the Mississippi Sound, about 10 miles south of the Trent Lott International Airport (PQL), Pascagoula, Mississippi. Fragmented debris associated with the airplane was subsequently found on a beach located about 9 miles northwest of the last radar target. A section of the empennage was located in the water about 3 miles northwest of the last radar target. 

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Dexter Brewer

Gerald Miletello

As of November 4, 2015, personnel from the United States Coast Guard and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources had not located the occupants.

A search of the FAA aircraft registry database revealed that "N817PR" was not an active registration. A pilot operating handbook with the registration "N808PX" was located among the debris. A representative from the pilot's family confirmed that the airplane had been previously registered as N808PX. Federal Aviation Administration records revealed that the accident airplane was issued a special airworthiness certificate in the experimental category on October 9, 2003, and it was purchased by the pilot through a limited liability company during August 2006.

The pilot reported 4,441 hours of total flight experience on his most recent application for an FAA third-class medical certificate, which was issued on September 26, 2014.

The weather reported at PQL at 1237, included wind from 110 degrees at 15 knots, with 25 knot gusts, visibility 4 miles in light rain and mist, scattered clouds at 800 feet above ground level, ceiling broken at 1,200 feet, overcast at 2,100 feet, temperature 23 degrees C, dew point 22 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.73 inches of Hg.

In addition, there were active weather advisors for convective activity and instrument meteorological conditions for the area around the airplane's last known position. The wife of one of the passengers reported that while on the ground at GPT, her husband stated that the pilot intended to fly along the coast to avoid "the worst of the weather."

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - On a stormy afternoon in October, a small plane crashed into the Mississippi Sound, killing the three men aboard. One year later, the search continues for the remains of the victims. And despite the passage of time, the searchers may be getting close.

"In some ways, it feels like it was just yesterday, you know," said Tina Cook of Saucier, "And in some ways, feels like it's been forever."

Cook lost the love of her life on that fateful day. Her husband, Dexter Brewer, was a passenger on the plane which plunged into the Mississippi Sound.

Though significant pieces of the wreckage were found, the remains of the victims were never recovered.

"I'm just appreciative that we're still looking. That I still have help. That we have Mark and that he's not giving up. That the DMR and other people working with us have not given up," said Cook.

"This is the critical piece that I looked at," said Mark Michaud, as he pointed to a photograph of recovered wreckage. "You can see, there's your tail. It has the numbers on it."

Michaud is an underwater recovery expert who’s been working with the family.

He is convinced the remaining portion of plane wreckage, along with the victims' remains, are located beneath the bottom of the sound, embedded in the mud at the spot where the plane went down; the same place the Coast Guard recovered a large tail piece.

"Maybe a piece of the starboard or right side of the cabin. Forward of the wing, and the engine. And of course, the remains. The bones of the three men that were onboard that aircraft," he said.

"We've done our homework and we think now that we have the information that we need to finally be able to bring Dexter home," said Cook, "And that's the goal of all this, to be able to bring him and the other two guys home."

Dexter Brewer's father is longing for some closure.

"Well, I hope so. I appreciate what everybody's been doing for it, you know," said Pettis Brewer.

"We're not going to go away, we're not going to back down. We're going to keep on going until we bring him home," said Tina Cook.

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JACKSON COUNTY -- A team of five volunteers from Texas EquuSearch came to South Mississippi to help find a downed plane, its pilot and two passengers, all presumed dead.

"We've got some equipment that is more high-tech than what they had been using in the search," Tim Miller, founder of the search group, said. "Our sonar units are more up to date, and I think we have a lot more experience."

Miller and a team of four others got into town Sunday. On Monday, they launched a drone over the water near Ocean Springs where a portion of the plane's tail was found. The drone will help determine areas to focus on in their search.

The group went out as weather and water conditions allowed Monday on a 28-foot Carolina skiff and a 24-foot Skully.

Gerald Miletello, of West Monroe, La., Dexter Brown, of Saucier, and pilot Ron Gregory have been missing since their Lancair single-engine aircraft disappeared Oct. 26, just minutes after takeoff from the Million Air terminal at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane around 12:30 p.m. and the plane's last known location was 3.5 miles south of Pascagoula over the water.

Miletello's wife, Pam Miletello, has pleaded with the public to continue the search for their loved ones.

The search and recovery mission was suspended days after the plane went down. A portion of the tail of the aircraft was found shortly after the search began when it washed ashore at an Ocean Springs beach.

Miller said the families reached out to them for help.

Once Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell agreed to bring in assistance, he said the group headed to Mississippi. He said they arrived Sunday.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Flotilla has also continued its search despite the official search and recovery missing being called off.

Miller said he and his team got in town Sunday. They launched their first boat shortly before noon Monday.

Miller formed the non-profit search group after his daughter, Laura, was abducted in North Galveston County in Texas in 1984. Miller said police treated the case like a runaway and he couldn't find anyone to help him find his daughter. Seventeen months passed before someone found Miller's daughter and two other girls murdered 2 1/2 miles from Miller's home. There was never an arrest.

"I know firsthand what these families go through," he said. "It was a long torcherous 17 months before my daughter was found by accident. I remember every bit of those 17 months of helplessness, hopelessness and fear. I just made a promise to God and Laura that I'd never leave a family alone if there is anything we can do. We've got more rescues than law enforcement agencies."

Miller said their search team has found two downed planes over the years, one in New York and one in Texas. In New York they found the bodies of three people inside the plane, and they found one body in the Texas plane.

The group has also searched for missing persons in various high-profile cases, including the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba.

"I've been to Aruba nine times," he said.

The group has been involved in more than 1,320 searches in 42 states along with various other searches in other countries. The group's efforts have resulted in the recovery of remains of 140 missing people. In addition, they have found more than 300 missing persons.

"We want to bring closure to these families," Miller said.

The Coast Guard and other response crews searched early-on an area that covered 3,500 square miles. That search was later suspended.

Read more here:

The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report on a Mississippi plane crash that is believed to have claimed the lives of three men, two from Monroe and West Monroe.

According to the NTSB report, the plane was owned by a pilot Ron Gregory from Monroe.

On October 26 Gregory flew to Ruston to pick up another passenger, Gerald Miletello of West Monroe, and then to Gulfport to pick up Dexter Brewer. They were headed to South Carolina on a business trip.

According to the report, there were active weather advisors in the area around the plane's last known position.

The report state's that the wife of one of the passengers told her the pilot intended to fly along the coast to avoid "the worst of the weather."

On October 29, the U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for the plane and passengers. 

Dr. Vernon Asper with his Rutan Defiant experimental aircraft. 


Still no sign of three men who have been missing since their plane disappeared on Monday in Jackson County. 

As the Department of Marine Resources continues its search and recovery efforts, volunteers from the University of Southern Mississippi are taking to the water and sky to help look for the missing aircraft.

The search field for the missing plane covers a lot of water. 

When it comes to water, University of Southern Mississippi has a deep knowledge base.

USM's Gulf Coast Research Lab didn't hesitate to offer its services when hearing about the missing plane. 

The university loaned boats, sonar and more to the search.

According to director of external relations Pam Moeller researchers at the university can help in unique ways.

"If they have the location of a debris site or anything, they can map the currents of the ocean and wind and kind of back out from that where the particular debris came from," said Moeller.

This data is used to create computer models to aid in the search.

"Which is really useful because it lets the searchers know an idea of where we think the currents are going," said USM marine science professor Dr. Vernon Asper. 

Dr. Asper adds another depth, or height, to USM's help in the search.  He is volunteering his personal, experimental aircraft to take trips over the search site now that the flight restrictions have been suspended. 

He hopes his efforts will help to bring a sense of closure to the case and the families involved.

"The family has asked for everybody to do what they can, and this is what I can do," said Asper.

He also hopes to help shed light on what happened, so that other pilots can learn from the incident.

"The pilot was a very sharp cookie. He knew a lot more probably about flying than I do, and yet, something went wrong," said Asper.

What went wrong remains a mystery, but that may be something that USM's efforts could change.

According to Moeller and Asper, Gulf Coast Research Lab will continue to offer its services as long as the Department of Marine Resources needs.

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