Saturday, November 07, 2015

In memoriam: James ‘David’ Hyde

David Hyde

James “David” was born in the Hyde family home in Hamilton County, Tennessee in the spring of 1941 and passed away in Edmonds, Washington on October 23, 2015. His mother Ruby Lee Mavity and father Carl Marion Hyde both grew up in Eastern Tennessee. David had two older brothers, Carl and Darrell. David’s early childhood was spent in the house where he was born on Missionary Ridge, a famous battlefield of the American Civil War. As a child David kept busy finding civil war relics in the properties surrounding the family home, and dreaming about flying an airplane some day. 

 After moving to the Lindbergh/Morosgo area of Atlanta in the 1950’s, David landed his first job at age eleven driving a jeep and picking up trash at Mooney’s Lake amusement park. As a kid one of David’s mentors was his older brother Darrell. A lover of music, Darrell started the rock-n-roll band “The Rackette Squad” and invited his younger brother David to join the band. The band went on to play shows at the local high schools and a television studio appearance in the 1960’s. David and Darrell left behind audio recordings and photos of the Rackette Squad.

On another occasion David’s brother Darrell was perusing a Reader’s Digest when a paper insert fell out that read “learn to fly for $5”. Darrell turned to his brother David and said “we are going to be pilots”. David received his pilot’s license at age eighteen. David later worked at Fulton County airport as a “line boy” pumping gas and washing small airplanes. David never forgot the kindness and generosity of the Fulton County fixed based operator “Cecil” who helped him gain the flying experience to ultimately land a corporate flying job with E.T. Barwick industries, a carpet manufacturer. That opportunity allowed David to gain the additional experience needed to be hired in 1967 by Frontier Airlines based in Denver, CO.

David met Sally Ann Marshall, a stewardess for Frontier Airlines in 1968. Sally and David were married in Salt Lake City in March of 1969. Their son Stephen James Hyde was born in Utah in 1971. The family moved to Denver in 1973. Soon thereafter David was promoted to Captain for Frontier Airlines and Sally attended the University of Colorado while Stephen attended Denver Public Schools. David became part of the Pilot Training Department at Frontier Airlines and continued to fly Boeing 737’s throughout the American West. One of his favorite places to fly was Jackson, Wyoming surrounded by the Teton Mountains. In 1988 David took a job in Flight Training at the Boeing Company in Seattle. Boeing sent David all over the world to train pilots and deliver aircraft in Asia, Africa, South America, Europe and the South Pacific. His job also included the production of training films, flight testing Boeing commercial aircraft, and the presentation of international aviation safety seminars. David retired from the Boeing Company in 2003.

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Here's What The Government Says You Saw In The Sky Last Night

Late Friday night the FAA announced that flights to and from LAX would avoid flying west over the Pacific Ocean, and airport officials apologized to those living east of the airport for the unexpected noise they would be experiencing. No one disclosed exactly why this was happening, though the FAA indicated that military airspace had been activated in the area. Since most people aren't up to date on FAA alerts, when a light flew over the Southern California sky last night, earthlings naturally assumed what they were seeing was a UFO.

Twitter and Instagram were filled with legitimately confused citizens trying to comprehend what was happening before their eyes. The above photo is what the missile launch looked like to confused onlookers who thought they were about to be abducted. The photo was taken by Preston Newman, whose publicist told us this morning that the image was captured "during his photo shoot at the 4th Street Bridge over the 110 Freeway in Downtown Los Angeles." Others chose to film the phenomenon...

"That had to  be a UFO," the man in the below video quietly whispered to himself. He had been filming from a rooftop when the light appeared in the sky—watch closely and you can see any sense of reality start to crumble before him.

Others declared it was a meteor shower, but even though the Taurid meteor shower is still gong on (expect it to rain down fireballs on November 11th), they were wrong, too. So what was it? As we mentioned last night, it was just the government shooting off missiles! NBD.

Word eventually came from the U.S. Navy that an unarmed Trident missile was fired from the USS Kentucky navy submarine, according to the San Diege Union-Tribune. Navy Cmdr. Ryan Perry addressed the scheduled evaluation test, noting in a statement that they are frequently conducted—"Navy Strategic Systems Programs conducted scheduled Trident II (D5) missile test flight at sea from USS Kentucky, an Ohio Class SSBN, in the Pacific Test Range off the coast of Southern California. Each test activity provides valuable information about our systems, thus contributing to assurance in our capabilities."

The military has activated that airspace through Thursday, so it's possible you'll see this happen again. And with citizens of Earth now privy to these missile launches, it's the PERFECT time for a real UFO make its move.

If you are unsatisfied with the government's explanation of "missiles," the internet has provided plenty of places where you can dig a little deeper.

- Source:

A missile test was the cause of a mysterious light that appeared in the night sky over California and parts of the West Saturday, prompting calls to officials and speculation on social media, the military said. 

The missile was not armed, a spokesperson for the U.S. Navy said. It was launched from a submarine.

"Navy Strategic Systems Programs conducted scheduled Trident II (D5) missile test flight at sea from USS Kentucky, an Ohio Class SSBN, in the Pacific Test Range off the coast of Southern California," Navy Cmdr. Ryan Perry said in a statement.

"The tests were part of a scheduled, on-going system evaluation test," he said. The Trident II is a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

The strange light was seen at around 6 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET). Singer Josh Groban joked on Twitter that the streaking flare signaled "impending doom."

Actress Lena Dunham, the creator of the show "Girls," also posted video of the sight and joked on Instagram "was I abducted?"

Savannah Hilde was driving home with her sister from church in Murrieta, California, when they spotted what they thought was a shooting star, but which slowly faded to a dot before growing again with a large white tail.

"It looked like it exploded in the air and the whole sky illuminated into a huge white circle," she said.

The National Weather Service in Hanford, California, said it received numerous reports from curious observers about the strange light.

The Orange County, California, sheriff's office took to its Twitter account to confirm that the light was from a Naval test fire.

NBC Los Angeles said it fielded many calls from viewers wondering what the strange object was. Similar calls came in to NBC stations in San Diego and the Bay Area.

The light was reportedly visible as far away as Arizona.

The Navy said it does not typically announce missile tests, and information about tests of Trident II missiles is classified prior to launch.

Los Angeles International Airport announced Friday that active military airspace was prompting it to stop "over-ocean operations" — where arriving and departing flights fly over the ocean to minimize neighborhood noise — until Nov. 12.

That pattern usually lasts from midnight to 6:30 a.m., meaning flights will go over neighborhoods to the east during that time.

Story and video:

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Mysterious maneuvers over the Pacific are forcing a change in Los Angeles International Airport landings late at night, meaning noise for thousands of people in the flight path. 

Instead of landing from the east over Inglewood, planes begin flying from the west and over the ocean to keep noise levels down, but due to secret military operations, the airspace over the Pacific is closed to incoming flights for the next week.

"We clearly understand that neighbors and communities east of the airport will experience noise and we apologize for that," said Nancy Castles, LAX public relations director.

The military is not saying what exactly is causing the change, and LAX claims it's also in the dark. Castles said all they know is planes can't be flying at low altitudes to our west.

Six years ago, ABC7 cameras captured a military operation in downtown LA. Helicopters were seen swooping between high-rises, close enough that residents were able to see armed soldiers in camouflage outside their window.

Authorities claimed it was part of a training exercise designed to ensure the military's ability to operate in urban environments and to prepare forces for upcoming overseas deployment.

What's going on this week is a mystery.

"And plus if it's a military thing it's a good thing, that means they're making it safer for us so I wouldn't let it bother me," said Steve Devosion of Inglewood. "I'd be more interested in them not doing something about what's going on than them doing something about what's going on."

- Source:

Concerns soar over flight reliability

David Stewart MSP is seeking cross-party support for an urgent meeting over flight reliability to the Scottish Islands.

Mr Stewart, Highland and Islands, was responding to media reports in relation to the pilot’s union The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), sending an internal letter to Loganair. It claimed pilots had complained about aircraft being ‘returned to the line despite being unserviceable’ and that, ‘in some cases, they retain defects that clearly affect flight safety’.

In a letter to Transport and Islands Minister, Derek Mackay, he said: “This is a very real concern and one that I am aware of from my own contacts with constituents.

“Particularly concerning are parts of the letter relating to questions about safety.

“For example, the letter states ‘aircraft retain defects that clearly affect flight safety.’

“ I do note that the Chief Executive, Stewart Adams, emphasized that no pilot would leave the ground if they had safety concerns. This at least is reassuring.

“ I have been working with other Highlands and Island MSPs and the local campaign group set up by Scott Preston, to deal with the excessive charges for flights to and from our islands by Loganair/Flybe and thus far this particular issue is being addressed, but then we have become aware of the issues surrounding unreliability of the aircraft.”

Also concerned by the issue is Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan, who has written to the airline to seek reassurances.

Mr Allan said: “I am not going to try to offer an opinion about the condition of Loganair’s aircraft, but the company’s pilots clearly have done, and the company now needs to respond to that.

“As a twice weekly frequent user of Loganair planes, I have no doubt about the professionalism of pilots and there is no suggestion from this correspondence that planes have actually been flown in an unsatisfactory condition.

“However, pilots have made their views very clear indeed about their concerns about the aircraft, and Loganair now need to move swiftly to reassure the traveling public.”

Meanwhile, Western Isles Councillor Donald Crichton called for the company to invest in new aircraft.

He said: “In light of the concerns recently raised by the pilots’ union BALPA and increasing incidents whether breakdowns or engines failing involving the Saab 340, it is time Loganair started to invest in a new fleet of aircraft and to make the resources available so that they are serviceable and safe.

“Maybe now Loganair will start listening if the pilots are raising concerns. We were assured by Loganair Chief Executive Stewart Adams at the last Transportation Committee that the Saab 340 was safe and reliable.

“The traveling public are fed up with the tired and dated Saab 340 whose poor service record has contributed to the ongoing unacceptable disruption to our air services.”

The Loch a Tuath councillor concluded: “At the Comhairle’s Transportation Committee Mr Adams laid great store in their plan to invest in refurbishing the interior of the Saab 340 fleet.

“Perhaps rather than trying to paper over the cracks and giving them a lick of paint Mr Adams should be investing in a new fleet of aircraft and a fully-resourced engineering department to ensure our air services are safe and reliable.”

Loganair Chief Executive Stewart Adams defended the company’s position, saying: “First and foremost, let me make it absolutely clear that the safety of our crews and passengers is and always will be our number one priority.

“The final decision on whether or not a flight departs is always in the hands of the pilot, and we know that none of our pilots would ever leave the ground if he or she had any safety concerns.

“We operate around 34,000 services per annum and are subject to regular inspections by the CAA, which is considered to be one of the most stringent aviation authorities in the world.”

Talking about reliability he declared that the company were working on measures for improvements, which includes a spares hub at Glasgow airport, appointments to engineering and operational divisions and back-up aircraft at Aberdeen and Glasgow.

He continued: “The investment Loganair is currently undertaking to improve operational performance is significant.

‘‘We are confident it will have a positive effect on services we have provided for our valued customers for more than half a century.


New terminal at the Asheboro Regional Airport (KHBI): Good idea?

Editor’s Note: Today’s Focus looks at a proposal to build a new terminal at the Asheboro airport. What is the current economic impact of the airport west of town — and what is the economic potential. On Tuesday: What’s happening at other general aviation airports in North Carolina — small airports like the one in Asheboro?

ASHEBORO — The 40-plus-year-old terminal at the Asheboro Regional Airport is outdated.

Everyone, it seems, agrees that the single-story brick facility built in 1972 is in need of an upgrade.

But not everyone is ready to endorse a $7.5 million proposal unveiled last month to replace the current terminal with a building of glass, block and stone designed to look like an airplane wing from the air.

The proposed two-story, 22,739-square-foot facility would offer improved amenities for pilots, as well as meeting rooms, a cafe open to the public and several thousand square feet of rental space.

The state completed an economic impact survey of North Carolina’s airports in 2012 and set the annual economic contribution of Asheboro’s airport — as it is — at $5.9 million.

Currently, the tax value of airplanes hangared at the Asheboro airport is almost $5.2 million, which contributes to city and county coffers the tax equivalent of about 42 homes worth $121,000. Proponents say with improved facilities, the number of planes that call the Asheboro airport home could double in a decade

The question is: Would the proposed multimillion dollar upgrade provide a return on investment — an economic boost — sufficient to justify such an expenditure?

The answer has yet to be determined.

First steps first

“We see the Asheboro Regional Airport as a viable economic engine,” Asheboro Mayor David Smith said this week, “and it’s an asset that we have to keep up, just like the streets and other assets the city manages. The terminal building is woefully inadequate. It’s time to do something.”

What that something is remains to be determined.

Smith said he does not have a timeline for the city council to discuss airport improvements.

“The bottom line — the largest project begins with a single step,” he said. “The finished project may or may not resemble what our first concept drawings showed us.”

Randolph County Manager Hal Johnson agreed.

Johnson said a terminal upgrade would make Asheboro and Randolph County more attractive to corporate jets and a better tool for recruitment efforts.

“It can have some major impact over time in economic development,” he said. “If we make Asheboro a better destination for these corporate jets and the private jets, too, it can’t have anything but a positive impact on our economy.”

He added that he does not expect county commissioners to even discuss upgrades at the airport until early spring.

“They’ve not formally processed that and looked at it in a public meeting and begun to look at options and they certainly haven’t made any decisions,” Johnson said. “The (annual) planning retreat in March is usually the time county commissioners identify projects they wish to pursue. There’s a lot more study that will have to go into this project.”

Johnson agreed that there is a parallel of sorts between funding an airport terminal and the expenditure of tax dollars to pay for part of the renovation and upgrade of the historic Sunset Theatre in downtown Asheboro.

That project represents public support from the city and private fund-raising support for a project that impacts the face of the community — and the local economy.

“Now people can’t imagine downtown Asheboro,” he said, “without the Sunset Theatre in its renovated stage.”

They will come

The terminal proposal was unveiled last month at a joint meeting of tthe Asheboro City Council, the Randolph County Commissioners and the Asheboro Airport Authority.

At the special meeting, Bob Crumley, a pilot and a representative of the Asheboro Airport Authority, riffed on the 1989 film “Field of Dreams” in which a man builds a baseball field in a rural cornfield based on the phrase “If you build it, he will come.”

“It’s sort of like, if you build it, they will come,” Crumley said.

In a figure that surprises some people, the Asheboro airport sees more than 125 flights per week.

Tammy O’Kelley, executive director of the Randolph County Tourism Development Authority, said that number surprised her when she heard it.

“I think the project could have a significant impact because the airport already has a much more significant impact than I ever realized,” she said. “That airport is a bright spot. To me, anything that improves the airport and makes it more business friendly for those who want to use it would make it better.”

Crumley said the number of planes coming and going could grow dramatically with construction of the terminal proposed.

“We wanted to build something that was unique,” he said. “It will have pilots flying from all over the East Coast and saying ‘You’ve got to go see this airport.’ ”

Traffic to airports the size of the Asheboro airport will increase significantly in coming years as congestion increases at commercial airports, such as those in Charlotte and Greensboro. A new-and-improved terminal in Asheboro, Crumley said, would position the airport to grab its share of that traffic.

But that’s not all.

Tax dollars, economic development

Proponents say a new terminal would boost economic development efforts.

They add that the airport would see even more growth if a megasite is developed in the northeastern sector of the county.

“An airport is a gateway into a community,” Crumley said.

Bonnie Renfro, the president of the Randolph County Economic Development Corp., said the most common aviation-related question her organization fields asks about proximity to commercial airports such as those in Greensboro, Charlotte and Raleigh.

“One of the advantages we’ve had in the county is really access to three international airports,” she said.

But Renfro noted that a local airport upgrade with added features, including meeting space, would be a plus.

“The Asheboro airport is one of our assets — it’s part of our transportation infrastructure, which is critical for business location and success,” she said. “… As far as the ability to directly impact recruitment of companies, I think it would be important to have an airport where folks could fly in and, if they wish, to hold a meeting. It would be very positive.”

Crumley also said there’s plenty of room for development of the North Carolina Aviation Museum and the North Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame at the airport.

O’Kelley agreed. She said there is merit to an idea that the museum board, the airport authority and her tourism organization could join hands to operate the museum and hall of fame.

“There’s probably a lot we could do for the aviation museum and I think it could be successful,” she said, “but that would be a decision for our board.”

According to Kelley, records show a steady decline in the number of visitors to the museum, from 7,750 in 2009 to 2,868 in 2013. She sees that as a trend that could be reversed.

As an example of possibilities, she noted numbers from Millstone Creek Orchards, a seasonal operation east of Ramseur. The orchard hosted 10,000 visitors in 2009 — and 28,000 last year.

Marketing and advertising could change that trend.

“It really is a special place and is one of those opportunities that could be developed for additional events and additional visitors,” Renfro said.

Past, present, future

The airport on Pilots View Road, off N.C. 49 west of town, was established in its present location in the mid-1960s.

Through a series of expansions since then, the tarmac has grown from a 3,000-foot runway to more than a mile long. The facility has a full-length taxiway. Large commercial airliners cannot land at the Asheboro airport, but business jets (and some commuter jets) can.

The city owns the airport, but does not run it. For many years, Asheboro has contracted with Cardinal Air to handle airport management.

The city does not pay Cardinal Air, but does pay certain costs of the operation. When fuel sales at the airport top $150,000 in a year, according to the contract, the city receives 5 percent of the revenues. Recent gasoline sales do not reach that threshold. Before the recession hit in 2008, sales averaged 130,000 gallons per year; since then sales have fallen off to around 50,000 gallons per year.

The airport serves local businesses with aviation services that they otherwise would have to go to Winston-Salem or Greensboro to get.

The city does not build the hangars at the airport, but prepares sites for hangars. “We lease the hangar out to the person that builds the site,” said City Engineer Michael Leonard. There are several sites ready for hangars, Leonard said.

In the current fiscal year, the city budget allocates $97,050 to the airport. Last year, the airport appropriation was $62,450. This year’s appropriation is higher than most years because a one-time expense of $36,000 is included to fund an HVAC upgrade to the current terminal.

If a new terminal is built, the old one would not be torn down. Plans call for using it as a base for flight instruction.

“If we end up using that for a flight training center, it’s going to need HVAC and an upgrade to the restrooms as well,” Leonard said.

Also included in the budget is $27,000 for utilities, lights and fuel and $5,000 for maintenance; another $16,700 is the required match for the $150,000 the city receives from the FAA through the N.C. Division of Aviation.

A certain amount of land around the airport is not available for development — it must be kept open as a buffer for planes coming and going. But the city owns several parcels on the airport perimeter, close to 100 acres, including road frontage on Pilots View Road and Tot Hill Farm Road, that would be suitable for a business or industry wishing to be close to the facility.

Leonard noted that there are hundreds of acres of private land west of the airport that potentially offer more room for future development.

There’s no doubt in Leonard’s mind that the terminal needs a significant upgrade — or needs to be replaced.

“It has definitely aged out,” he said.

He characterized the difference a new terminal would make to someone using it.

“It’s like the difference between stopping at a nice Sheetz when you’re on vacation or an old run-down truck stop.”

The price tag

Anticipated grants for the proposed terminal total about $1.1 million. Even factoring in half a million dollars from the state and half a million from private fund-raising, the lion’s share of the tab for a $7.5 million terminal would fall to the city and the county.

Local officials say there is a long way to go.

Smith contends that a new terminal would be a proper expenditure of public monies. He said taxpayers who say they do not use the airport so they do not want to see their tax dollars used for the airport are akin to those who say they do not have a child in school so they do not want to help fund schools.

That is not to say he would give a green light to the project just now.

“I am a little concerned about the price tag,” he said.

Again, Johnson agreed.

“There’s always cutbacks in projects to make them fit into budgets,” Johnson said. “You may have something that is the optimum use of the facility, but you have to reduce it based on the amount of money you’ve got to spend.”

Government officials will be looking long and hard for other sources of funding, Smith said.

“It was a very preliminary proposal presented and we would not entertain any projects out there without assistance and other participation,” he said. “It’s not going to be $7.5 million of our taxpayers’ money.”

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What's Next for Boeing: Clues Emerge on Midrange Jet for 2020s

  • Successor to 757 must be as efficient as signature 737 model
  • A twin-aisle offering? Don't assume that, executive says

As Boeing Co. weighs developing a midsize model to fill a critical gap in its jet lineup, one thing is clear: Whatever its dimensions and shape, the new plane must be about as economical to fly as the signature 737.

The company’s chief of airliner sales delivered that message Saturday on the eve of the Dubai Air Show while dropping a few other hints about Boeing’s work on a concept that has captured the industry’s attention. The plane might have one aisle -- or two. And there’s probably demand for at least 2,000 of the jets.

Planning for a midrange aircraft to fit between Boeing’s 737 Max 8 narrow-body and smallest 787 Dreamliner has gained urgency with the sales success of a single-aisle Airbus Group SE model targeting the same market niche. Boeing hasn’t had an offering in that segment since the 757 went out of production a decade ago.

“We’ve been studying what the opportunities are in the market space between the 737 Max and the 787 in terms of size and range capability, and it’s clear to us there is interest,” said John Wojick, senior vice president for global sales and marketing. “The one thing we know customers want is the most fuel-efficient plane we can build -- and if it means having two aisles is less efficient, they’d rather have single aisle.”

2022 Schedule

Boeing won’t introduce any new model before 2022 while it focuses on other development programs, Wojick said at a briefing for reporters. Now in the works are the Max -- a version of the top-selling 737 with new engines -- and an upgrade to the wide-body 777, the world’s largest twin-engine jetliner.

New aircraft take years to build, and Boeing’s increasingly public musings about how it would proceed on a midsize plane have been closely followed by airlines, lessors, analysts and consultants.

Boeing sees a market for “several thousand” airliners that can carry 220 to 280 passengers about 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 kilometers), Wojick said. When pressed about the meaning of “several,” he declined to say whether demand might top 3,000 while saying it would certainly exceed 2,000.

Single-aisle planes like the 737 are the workhorses of the global airline industry, ferrying passengers for an hour or two between cities. Twin-aisle models such as the Dreamliner are larger, costlier and are most efficient on long routes such as Los Angeles to Sydney.

Airbus’s biggest narrow-body, the A321, has sold well with former 757 operators like Delta Air Lines Inc. and American Airlines Group Inc. as they upgrade their transcontinental flights. It’s the main reason why the updated Airbus A320neo family has pulled away from its Boeing counterparts, the 737 Max models, claiming about 60 percent of orders in a two-company market, according to an Oct. 21 report by Agency Partners.

While Boeing has studied a range of responses, executives have signaled that they see reclaiming the middle of the market with an aircraft boasting narrow-body economics and a twin-aisle design. Such a plane would be Boeing’s first all-new design since the composite 787, which was bedeviled by design and supplier shortfalls before entering service in 2011.

The optimum shape for the new jetliner may be an oval-shaped fuselage similar to a design Boeing patented in 2010 with seven-abreast seating, according to Ron Epstein, an aerospace analyst with Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit.

Funneling passengers to their seats via two aisles would trim about 15 minutes from boarding time on a 757, speeding airport gate turn-around times for operators, Epstein wrote in a Sept. 10 report.

He estimated there was industry demand for about 2,700 aircraft seating 200 to 270 travelers and boasting a range of 3,000 to 5,000 nautical miles, or from New York to Helsinki. The plane would probably have an aluminum fuselage and composite wings, Epstein said, and would cost about $15 billion to develop.

- Source:

Lone survivor says she still feels guilt in Medevac helicopter crash

DISTRICT HEIGHTS, Md.—A monument to the four people killed in the 2008 crash of a State Police helicopter was unveiled Friday.

Seven years after they died, the lone survivor says she still feels tremendous guilt. And now she says she’s finally free to talk about it.

On that miserable September night, Jordan Wells spent 2 1/2 hours pinned under the wreckage in the woods with her best friend and three other people dead next to her.

She still wishes she had died and someone else had survived, she said.

“When you survive something and everyone else dies, it’s kind of hard not to feel guilty,” said Wells, during an interview at her home in Charles County. Md.

Trooper Two had taken off on a rainy, foggy night to rescue Jordan Wells, who had crashed her car on a flooded road, with her best friend, Ashley Younger. Pilot Stephen Bunker, paramedic Mickey Lippy and volunteer Tanya Mallard all risked their lives to save the young women.

“Why me?” said Wells. “What’s so special about me? How come their father couldn’t live? How come her husband couldn’t live? How come her son couldn’t live?”

Wells broke her back, fractured her skull and lost her left leg in the crash.

The pilot had flown into a cloud so thick, he descended desperately in an effort to get below it, unaware that he was about to crash into a tree. Wells said the first time she realized they were in trouble was when she saw panic in her medic’s eyes.

“I was watching Lippy’s face, and that’s how I knew we were crashing,” Wells said. “So I don’t really like to talk about that part.”

Wells remembers coming to in the woods and waiting hours for someone to find them.

“I was shivering and I was so cold, and my bones were sticking out,” Wells said. “And I remember praying to God, like ‘God, if you send someone to find me, I promise I will change.’ And I cried out for help. And as soon as I cried out for help, someone yelled back.”

During years of lawsuits, Wells says her lawyers insisted she never express her sorrow. But the lawsuits are settled now. And she draws strength from her faith and her two children.

And she wants the other families to know how she feels.

“Tell me something I could do to make it better. I’d do anything to take the pain out of their heart.”

The Maryland State Police have changed procedures and purchased new choppers with advanced safety features—but Wells says this crash was a perfect storm.

And she fears if there’s another perfect storm, it could happen again.

- Source:

NTSB Identification: MIA08MA203
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Saturday, September 27, 2008 in District Heights, MD
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/27/2009
Aircraft: AEROSPATIALE SA365N-1 D, registration: N92MD
Injuries: 4 Fatal, 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The Safety Board's full report is available at 

The Aircraft Accident Report number is NTSB/AAR-09/07

On September 27, 2008, about 2358 eastern daylight time, an Aerospatiale (Eurocopter) SA365N1, N92MD, call sign Trooper 2, registered to and operated by the Maryland State Police (MSP) as a public medical evacuation flight, impacted terrain about 3.2 miles north of the runway 19R threshold at Andrews Air Force Base (ADW), Camp Springs, Maryland, during an instrument landing system approach. The commercial pilot, one flight paramedic, one field provider, and one of two automobile accident patients being transported were killed. The other patient being transported survived with serious injuries from the helicopter accident and was taken to a local hospital. The helicopter was substantially damaged when it collided with trees and terrain in Walker Mill Regional Park, District Heights, Maryland. The flight originated from a landing zone at Wade Elementary School, Waldorf, Maryland, about 2337, destined for Prince George's Hospital Center, Cheverly, Maryland. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the departure; however, Trooper 2 encountered instrument meteorological conditions en route to the hospital and diverted to ADW. No flight plan was filed with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and none was required. The MSP System Communications Center (SYSCOM) was tracking the flight using global positioning system data transmitted with an experimental Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast communications link.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's attempt to regain visual conditions by performing a rapid descent and his failure to arrest the descent at the minimum descent altitude during a nonprecision approach. Contributing to the accident were (1) the pilot’s limited recent instrument flight experience, (2) the lack of adherence to effective risk management procedures by the Maryland State Police, (3) the pilot’s inadequate assessment of the weather, which led to his decision to accept the flight,, (4) the failure of the Potomac Consolidated Terminal Radar Approach Control (PCT) controller to provide the current Andrews Air Force Base weather observation to the pilot, and (5) the increased workload on the pilot due to inadequate Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control handling by the Ronald Reagan National Airport Tower and PCT controllers.

Corporate aviation taking off again; advantages rise above past scorn

The $40 million Magnolia by the Lakes senior living center nestled between Cass and Sylvan lakes in Keego Harbor is preparing to open next spring, but its management is looking to the skies.

With plans to open six more "luxury European style" senior centers across the U.S., President and CEO Farideh Bagne is weighing financial options for owning a corporate jet.

"In order to utilize our staff in a cost-effective manner, we really need to make sure their time is not spent at the airport in lines and waiting on planes," Bagne said. "Commercial planes are often late, and delays cost us a great deal of money."

Bagne and her company are looking to enter corporate aviation only a few years after many local companies abandoned the practice. Southeast Michigan's industry has faced seven years of turmoil and fallout from the recession, when jets became a symbol of corporate greed, but is now gaining altitude while adjusting to the new normal.

The value of new corporate jets to U.S. businesses and operators, an indicator of industry health, peaked in 2008 at $14.5 billion before plummeting to $7.1 billion in 2009, according to aviation analysis firm Teal Group Corp. But the industry is hitting the runway again, and deliveries of new business jets are climbing, reaching $10.5 billion in 2014.

Rough landing

In 2008, the CEOs of General Motors Co., Chrysler and Ford Motor Co. flew on corporate-owned jets to go before Congress seeking a publicly financed bailout to save their companies from collapse.

The trio was met with rancor from elected officials and public outrage over lavish corporate spending while asking for taxpayer dollars.

"There is a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hand, saying that they're going to be trimming down and streamlining their businesses," Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York, told the Detroit 3 CEOs at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.

The result was the executives driving to the U.S. Capitol weeks later in the automakers' newest electric vehicles. GM and Chrysler were later forced sell their corporate jet fleets as part of the bailout.

But the public shellacking hit more than just the automakers — corporate aviation itself practically collapsed between that one event and the Great Recession, said William Garvey, of Business and Commercial Aviation magazine.

"That single event in front of Congress was ground zero for everything that happened to this industry," Garvey said. "It wasn't a downturn. It fell off the cliff."

Annual shipments of business jets worldwide dropped from an all-time high of 1,317 in 2008 to 874 in 2009 and continued to slide to 672 in 2012, according to data by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. New business jet deliveries are growing again, but at 722 in 2014, they are much lower than peak years.

Locally, it devastated operations at Oakland County International Airport in Waterford Township and the support companies that call its airfield home.

Takeoffs and landings of private jets and recreational planes at the airport dropped from 202,345 in 2007 to 119,581 in 2010, according to figures provided by J. David VanderVeen, director of central services for Oakland County.

Takeoffs and landings continue to decline, falling to 111,672 in 2014, despite a rise in corporate jet use, VanderVeen said. The decline is mostly attributed to fewer privately owned recreational planes , he said.

Jet fuel sales at the airport fell from 12.8 million gallons in 2007 to 8.6 million gallons in 2010, but increased to 9.1 million in 2014. 

"Generally, aviation is the first to enter the recession and the last out," VanderVeen said. 

Corporate Eagle, which operates fractional jet ownership and jet management services out of the Oakland County airport, lost two-thirds of its billable flying hours, said Rick Nini, president and CEO.

Corporate Eagle's revenue fell from $13 million in 2007 to $8.5 million in 2009, Nini said. 

"People understood the benefits of business aviation, but the optics of what happened in D.C. had such an impact," Nini said. "Executives just didn't want their picture being taken getting on or off a private jet at that time, and it really hurt."

A myth of frivolity

The downturn and corporate cutbacks fueled misconceptions about the industry, said Greg Schmidt, president and CEO of Waterford Township-based jet management and maintenance firm Pentastar Aviation LLC.

"We serviced a number of the (automakers') fleet, but then came the very public dismantling of those fleets; that hurt," Schmidt said. "The public saw the fleets as the ultimate perk, but it's really a business tool for more than CEOs."

Schmidt said 78 percent of corporate jet passengers are below the C-suite.

John Hatfield, chairman of the Michigan Business Aviation Association and aviation director for Midland-based Dow Corning Corp., said how executives spend their time is critical, and corporate aviation is one way to maximize those hours.

According to a 2009 study of S&P 500 corporate jet users by NEXA Capital Advisors, companies that used corporate jets experienced 116 percent higher annual revenue growth between 2003 and 2007 than companies that did not. Income was 434 percent higher during that time, according to the study.

"Time is not a renewable resource; we're all bound by the same 24 hours a day," Hatfield said. "What we do in that 24 hours makes a difference on how effectively we run our businesses, and corporate jets leverage and multiply that ability to be effective."

Lear Corp. owns one corporate jet, said Mel Stephens, senior vice president of communications and facilities.

"It's a company asset; we're a global company that operates in 35 countries," Stephens said. "The fastest-growing part of our business is Asia, and it's not the most dense areas, but smaller cities. We need to get to these plants. (Our jet) is much more effective and efficient to get to these places versus flying commercial."

For Bagne, public perception isn't part of the equation.

"It's not a status symbol or for pleasure. It's a business tool," Bagne said.

Back to the skies

With the public's short memory and a recovering economy, businesses are renewing their interest in corporate aviation.

This year, GM re-established its corporate jet fleet by acquiring "a few" used corporate jets, said Pat Morrissey, GM's director of corporate communications.

He declined to reveal the exact number, but said the jets make the automaker "more competitive and efficient in the U.S. and globally."

Bagne said the healthier economy and low interest rates make the decision to enter corporate aviation a no-brainer as she weighs fractional ownership with Corporate Eagle or acquiring a $24 million Gulfstream G280.

"Right now, the cost of money is negligible, and it may be cheaper to buy a plane right now than do fractional ownership and find we need to buy one later," she said.

Bagne said she expects to make a decision by early next year.

For Southeast Michigan's business aviation industry, Bagne represents a glimmer of hope as it adjusts to a different type of buyer.

"Business aviation is coming back, but it's coming back different," Nini said. "Many companies own their own planes, but we're seeing more and more fractional ownership." The company's fractional ownership program has grown from 22 members in 2010 to 39 today, Nini said.

Corporate Eagle sells shares of its 13-jet fleet, where its members pay for an eighth-share of the jet, which allows them to use the jet without outright owning it. Corporate Eagle manages the maintenance, crew and flight details for each of its members out of its four hangars at Oakland County International Airport.

A typical eighth-share of one of its Hawker 800 jets, which holds eight to 10 passengers, costs $485,000. The corporate member can buy or lease that share, Nini said. On top of the cost of shared ownership is an $8,000 monthly management fee and about $2,800 an hour for flight time.

On Oct. 23, Corporate Eagle closed on its second fractional share of a new $10 million Dassault Falcon jet, which seats 10 and has a top speed of 520 mph.

Nini said the company plans to reach a fleet of 15 jets by 2018. Nini projects revenue to top $20.5 million this year.

Corporate Eagle, which employs 54, is also considering adding more hangar space at Oakland County airport and Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

In the past 12 months, Corporate Eagle's fleet has flown 1,529 trips, taking nearly 9,000 business executives to 27 countries.

"The time of businesses recoiling and hiding their planes is coming to an end," Hatfield said. "Companies are coming around to what we can do, and that's help them make money."

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Transportation Security Administration won't return to Klamath Falls Airport (KLMT), Klamath County, Oregon

The Transportation Security Administration told Klamath Falls officials Tuesday the agency will not return to Klamath Falls’ airport, but PenAir said the airline remains committed to finding a way to provide air service in the region.

“We support any plan that would allow a potential customer to fly out of Klamath Falls without incurring any unnecessary time delays or costs that would put us at a competitive disadvantage compared to flying out of Medford,” said Dave Hall, chief operating officer for PenAir, in a news release.

City officials said the decision is a serious setback to the city’s efforts to re-establish air service, after SkyWest left the area in June 2014.

“The city is deeply disappointed with the TSA’s decision,” said City Manager Nathan Cherpeski in a news release, “but we’re not giving up on finding a way to begin service to Portland.”

City officials and local business leaders had said on Monday they didn’t think a reverse screening system would work long term. Reverse screening means passengers would not to through a security check until they reached the Portland airport.

Now TSA is proposing a slightly different option, one that would involve an investment by the Port of Portland.

The option to create a reverse screening area at the Portland International Airport is under consideration. The system would allow passengers from airports without TSA screening services, such as the Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport, to be screened on arrival at PDX and they would then travel directly into the main terminal.

Cherpeski said the city will likely hear back from the Port of Portland within 30 days if and how the port would be involved in that option.

“We are, as is the entire community, anxious for the return of air service to the airport,” said airport director John Barsalou, “but we’re also aware that for its long-term success it has to be competitive with service out of Medford. We are pursuing all options to re-establish air service and will keep the community informed of our progress.”

Delegation responds

Sens. Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley, and Congressman Greg Walden released statements calling the decision by the TSA “disappointing,” and each committed to helping the Klamath Basin.

“If TSA’s proposed interim solution for screening in Portland proves to be a barrier in getting a carrier to provide air service to Klamath Falls in the short term, then other options must be explored,” Wyden said. “I am fully committed to exploring these options and I encourage all the parties to work together toward the common goal of returning badly needed air service to Klamath Falls as soon as possible.”

Walden shared Wyden’s sentiments.

“I will continue to work hard with the local community and PenAir to press the Administration to come up with a solution that keeps all travelers safe and secure and reinstates this important service to the local economy,” Walden said. “This is essential to ensuring that safe, reliable air service returns to Klamath Falls as soon as possible.”

Merkley, who has also been in discussions with the TSA regarding services in Klamath Falls, shared his perspective.

“The compromise proposed by TSA falls short of providing passengers with the convenience and security that would be provided by re-federalization and may hurt the chances of getting passenger air service to Klamath Falls,” Merkley said. “Having passenger air service is really important to the economic success of the region and we remain committed to helping get the airport back up and running.”

Klamath County’s regional tourism agency, Discover Klamath, also took issue with the TSA’s decision.

“We are very disappointed in the TSA’s decision today to not service the Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport,” said Jim Chadderdon, executive director of the agency, in a post to Discover Klamath’s Facebook page Wednesday.“We strongly urge the TSA to reconsider this decision and establish consumer flight screening immediately. The concept of ‘Reverse Screening’ is neither practical nor efficient and is an unacceptable option.”

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Boeing seeks to tough out cheap-oil impact on jet sales

DUBAI --   Boeing sought on Saturday to downplay industry concerns about a slowdown in demand for the latest generation of fuel-saving jets, but acknowledged some airlines are keeping old planes in their fleets for longer due to weak oil prices.

Pressure on airlines to reduce their biggest single cost has triggered record orders for next-generation planes that offer fuel savings in recent years, but the outlook has been clouded by a sharp fall in oil prices, undermining aerospace stocks.

Boeing sales chief John Wojick said any slowdown in demand to replace existing jets would be more than compensated for by growth elsewhere on the back of higher airline profits and the economic stimulus from cheaper oil.

"We are seeing strong growth in many regions of the world which definitely offsets some of the lack of replacement demand because with lower fuel prices there is interest in continuing to fly some of the older airplanes a little while longer," Wojick told reporters.

There has been a pickup in demand for used smaller, single-aisle airplanes, like the Boeing 737-700 or Airbus A319, from airlines that might otherwise be buying new, Wojick said.

He expected larger jets to be absorbed in the same way. Investors are worried about a slide in prices of second-hand wide-body jets. Resale prices underpin values across the market.

Boeing is lagging behind its European competitor in orders this year, but is expected to remain ahead on deliveries.

Wojick said it expects to sell "about" as many as planes as it delivers in 2015, leaving it about 200 aircraft to sell in under two months.

"We have got some work to do but we have got some folks out there working pretty hard," he said on the eve of the Dubai Airshow.

Boeing and Airbus are expected to announce some orders at the Nov. 8-12 event but nothing on the scale of the 2013 edition, which saw purchases of more than 400 jets from Gulf super-carriers.

Boeing predicts 755-760 commercial deliveries in 2015. It has sold 566 aircraft this year, or 489 after cancellations. The Airbus tally stands at 910 gross orders and 850 net.

Boeing has said it is thinking of cutting output of its large 777 model by 15 percent to seven a month as it switches to a new version. Some analysts say it may have to go further.

Wojick said 777 output was secure through 2017 and that Boeing did not see a reason to drop below seven a month based on current demand, but any decision would be made in 2016. 

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Despite scores of successful jumps, skydiving business faces safety review: Chattanooga Skydiving Company • Marion County Airport (KAPT), Jasper, Tennessee

Why would you want to run a successful business out of town? It is their responsibility to help me flourish.
 - Justin Silvia, Chattanooga Skydiving Co. owner

Justin Silvia, 52, the owner of Chattanooga Skydiving Company, poses for a portrait in front of a plane he uses to take up skydivers at the Marion County Airport on Friday, February 28, 2014, in Jasper, Tenn. Silvia has been in the skydiving business for 30 years.

The owner of the Chattanooga area's only place to try parachuting worries Marion County officials may yank a key part of his business out from under him.

County airport board officials question whether it's safe for the Chattanooga Skydiving Co.'s customers to drop out of the sky and land on the grass next to the runway at the airport just east of Jasper, Tenn.

"The whole issue is safety," county attorney William Gallagher said Friday. "[The airport is] really small and doesn't have a whole lot of open space for landing."

The county doesn't want to stop the skydiving business from operating, Gallagher said. Officials just question whether it'd be safer to have the parachutists land elsewhere.

The airport board at its meeting Thursday night sought an informal safety review from the Federal Aviation Administration, Gallagher said.

Chattanooga Skydiving Co. owner Justin Silvia vows to fight any such restriction, and hired South Pittsburg attorney Jared Smith to represent him.

"We've done over 20,000 parachute jumps here without an incident," Silvia said Friday. "Show me where the issue is."

The FAA gives parachutists the same rights as small airplanes, Silvia said. He said it would be a hardship for his customers to land elsewhere.

"I don't have a farmer's field to land in. It doesn't exist," he said. "It is my right to operate here, as skydiving is an FAA- approved aeronautical activity."

It's convenient for his customers to land on the airport's grass, he said, because they can walk to their cars and his employees can walk back to the hangar where the skydiving business is housed and get ready for the next batch of jumpers.

Landing elsewhere would require a van, Silvia said, to transport customers after they land.

"I'd have to have a commercial driver," he said. "And I'd have to have a van."

He says his business has grown to a $750,000-a-year operation with seven employees. Silvia prepared an "economic impact statement" that says he pays $325,000 in wages and that the "visitors impact" from his business is $500,000 from 5,000 day-trippers and $1.5 million from overnight guests. Silvia said he paid $9,300 in rent to the county airport in 2014.

"Why would you want to run a successful business out of town?" Silvia asked. "It is their responsibility to help me flourish."

Pilots have raised concerns that they could hit skydivers in the air, Gallagher said, or run into parachutists as they walk across the runway to return to the hangar.

"I'm sure if there's some kind of mishap, everybody'd get sued," Gallagher said. "That's one of the concerns of the county board."

A half dozen farmers and landowners came to recent airport board meeting to complain, Gallagher said, about skydivers landing in fields around the airport, damaging crops and letting cattle out as they opened gates.

Since the county airport has accepted federal funds, the FAA has the final say on whether the skydiving operation is safe, Gallagher said.

The Chattanooga Skydiving Co. offers tandem skydiving so someone who's never done it before can be ready to parachute in an hour attached to an expert skydiver. The business also teaches people how to solo skydive and offers jumps to experienced skydivers.

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