Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pilot Doug Garin: Fear of flight conquered

Pilot Doug Garin poses next to the plane he built, a process which took six and a half years.

Doug Garin used to have a fear of flying.

But instead of avoiding that fear, as so many do, he decided to approach it head on — by taking flying lessons.

"I had a job that said, 'You have to fly over the country,'" Garin said. "I thought, 'Well, if I have to do that I'm going to learn what this is all about in big planes.' So I went out and started taking lessons, conquered my fear of flying and kind of kept going ever since then."

That was 15 years ago and in the time since, Garin's passion for aviation has only grown. In fact, Garin has become passionate enough about flight that he decided to build his own plane — a feat that took six and a half years to accomplish.

"There were times when I had to just stop and say a prayer and say, 'Lord, keep me going on this,'" Garin said. "I'd look at an airplane and think, 'How am I ever going to finish this whole thing?' You have to kind of discipline yourself to just work on the little pieces in front of you instead of the whole thing. It was a little frustrating at times to do that because it was such a big undertaking."

Garin bought the prototype airplane plans from an 81-year-old man in Florida. Across the world, there are about 500 plans out and 50 have been purchased, but not everyone finished the plane. However, Garin's one-seater is now complete and has a wingspan of 24 feet, weighs 520 pounds and tops out at 125 miles per hour. He built the entire plane for less than $15,000.

"The biggest thing for me is the misconception that people who own airplanes are rich, that they drive around in expensive cars and have expensive homes," Garin said. "I want to try and get the point across through this project that it's about having a passion for aviation, a passion for flight. If you don't have a lot of money you can still do it."

Although the plane's plans were already in place, Garin chose how to design it visually. He chose to paint it to appear like the Tuskegee Airmen's (a group of African-American military pilots) planes from World War II.

"They didn't get a lot of recognition. I thought, 'I'm kind of going to do that for them,'" the pilot said.

Garin vividly remembers the first time he flew the plane.

"It was winter out, and there was a lot of snow," he recalled. "I was practicing taxiing but I was going kind of fast and all the sudden a wind gust hit me and picked me up and I was flying."

Since that accidental flight, Garin has gotten in more than 100 other successful flights. And although he has conquered his fear of flying, he hasn't been without a few scary moments in the sky. During training for his pilot's license, He had to do a long cross-country run — three legs of 50 miles or more. The day he did his was a mere 2 degrees Fahrenheit.

"The airport has a policy that they don't rent when it's below zero because it's not good for engines," Garin said. "What I didn't know was it got colder as you went higher. The plane had a little heater and the windshield was barely clearing and I got lost. I said a little prayer, looked out the window and there was Lake Mille Lacs shining at me. I calmed down and flew to Brainerd. You just take it all in pieces until you get it."

In his 15 years of flying, Garin's lengthiest flight was to Texas. He had rebuilt a two-seat airplane and a man from Texas bought it under the condition that Garin fly it to him.

"I delivered it, and it took three days because there was some weather," he said. "At 100 miles per hour it takes awhile, but it's also really neat to go low and slow across the country. It's not like in a jet. It's quite an experience."

And that experience is something Garin encourages others to have as well. The price to obtain a pilot's license runs about $5,700 at Alexandria Aviation, Inc. The airport has a group called the Experimental Aircraft Association, which has about 40 members, including Garin. It is open to any aviation enthusiasts, with an annual fee of about $35. The group meets the second Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at Alexandria Aviation, Inc.

"If you're an aspiring pilot or student, then there are no dues because we want to keep the interest going," Garin said. "Once a year we do the Young Eagles program, where the pilots donate their time, airplanes and fuel to fly kids for free to get them interested in aviation."

When it's all said and done, it comes down to passion for Garin.

"There's just something incredible about flying over God's country in something you built with your own two hands," he said. "Nothing compares to it."

Story and photo gallery:  http://www.echopress.com

Doug Garin flying over the lakes of Alexandria.

Doug Garin makes the necessary adjustments before moving the plane he built back to the hangar where it is stored. 

pilot Doug Garin pushes the plane he made himself back into the storage hangar.

Akron spends over $100,000 annually to keep Akron Fulton International Airport (KAKR) open

AKRON, Ohio -- Running Akron Fulton International Airport, thrust into the spotlight after a fatal business jet crash last week, costs Akron taxpayers over $100,000 per year. The airport is a boon for local business, though, executives told the Akron Beacon Journal.

Akron mayor-elect Dan Horrigan is studying the airport with his blue ribbon task force. He told the newspaper that he would consider the viability of keeping the airport open once he's in office.

- Source: http://www.cleveland.com

Man Sentenced to over 4 Years in Prison for Multimillion Dollar Loan Fraud

SACRAMENTO, Calif. November 23, 2015 - United States District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. sentenced Ryan Costo, 40, of Roseville, to four years and three months in prison for bank fraud in a scheme to defraud lenders, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to court documents, Costo overstated his income and financial assets in connection with a $1.35 million loan from Bank of America related to the acquisition of a classic aircraft. 

Costo not only made false statements about his income and various bank and stock account balances on the loan application, but also caused various false and fraudulent account statements and tax returns to be given to the Bank of America in order to procure the loan.

Costo made various false representations and submitted false documents to obtain three other loans: a $1.95 million loan from CitiMortgage Inc. related to a Granite Bay residence; a $3 million loan from Washington Mutual Bank, now Chase, related to another Granite Bay residence, and a $267,000 loan from San Diego Private Bank. Costo pleaded guilty to bank fraud on October 3, 2013.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Shelley D. Weger prosecuted the case.

- Source:  http://yubanet.com

Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, United States Army: Fatal accident occurred November 23, 2015 at Fort Hood in Texas

Fort Hood ( November 27, 2015) Four soldiers killed Monday when a UH-60L helicopter crashed on post were identified Friday as Sgt. 1st Class Toby A. Childers, 40, a Hays, Kansas native; Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen B. Cooley, 40, a Cantonment, Florida native; Sgt.1st Class Jason M. Smith, 35, a Destrehan, Louisiana native; and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael F. Tharp, 40, a Katy, Texas native.

“The aircraft, assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment was on a routine training mission,” a First Army Division West press release said.

The crash occurred sometime before 5:50 p.m. in the northeast portion of the range, according to Fort Hood officials.

Emergency crews say the four were found dead when they got to the scene.

"It is with a heavy heart that I announce the death of four First Army Division West Soldiers as a result of a UH-60L helicopter crash that happened Monday evening sometime after 5:49 p.m.,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, commanding general, First Army Division West said in a statement Tuesday.

“The accident is under investigation and the names of the deceased will be released after the families have been notified. I want to extend my deepest sympathies and prayers to the Families and friends of the Soldiers involved in yesterday's crash,” he said.

A board is being assembled to investigate the cause of the crash.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, issued a statement Tuesday in which he said his thoughts and prayers were with those affected by the crash.

“This unfortunate accident serves as a reminder that the brave Americans selflessly serving our country face unimaginable dangers every day. Let us never forget the price these courageous men and women are willing to pay so that we may enjoy the many blessings of liberty,” he said.

Gov. Greg Abbott also extended condolences to the families of the four soldiers.

“Whether at home or abroad, our soldiers put their lives on the line every day to secure the freedoms we hold dear in Texas and the United States of America. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and with the military community at Fort Hood during this difficult time,” he said.

The Black Hawk, the Army’s primary utility and medical evacuation helicopter, is a twin-engine, four-bladed, single-rotor aircraft that has been in use since 1979.

It can carry 11 troops with gear and is designed with some disassembly to be transported aboard a C-130 Hercules.

The last fatal accident involving a Fort Hood helicopter in Central Texas was on Nov. 29, 2004 when a 4th Infantry Division UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter struck a support cable on the 1,800-foot KXXV television tower while on a flight to the Red River Army Depot in Texarkana.

The helicopter crashed into a field near Bruceville-Eddy, killing all seven soldiers aboard including Brig. Gen. Charles B. Allen, the 4th Infantry Division's assistant commander.

An Army report determined that the crash resulted from the decision of the pilots to fly under visual flight rules in conditions that warranted the use of instruments.

The pilots took off in foggy conditions without filing an instrument flight plan, but then requested an instrument flight plan minutes before the crash.

On Jan. 12, 2009, a Texas National Guard Black Hawk crashed on the Texas A&M campus.

Lt. Zachary Cook, a member of the Texas A&M University class of 2008 who majored in mechanical engineering while in the ROTC program, died.

Cook was a member of the ROTC staff at Texas A&M.

The other four soldiers aboard the helicopter were seriously injured.

The helicopter crashed near the Corps of Cadets field on the school's College Station campus during ROTC Winter Field Training Exercises in which about 190 ROTC cadets were participating.

It was one of five that were being used to transport cadets to Camp Swift in Bastrop, the university said.

Air Traffic Controller Shortage Affects South Florida

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In the coming weeks as millions of Americans board planes to travel for the holidays there is troubling news from the nation’s air traffic controllers.

Staffing shortages among certified air traffic controllers has reached a crisis level in this country, according to their union.

“The controllers in the chairs are tired, the controllers in the chairs are saying where are the rest of the bodies, where are the people the FAA has said we should have,” said Jim Marinitti, regional vice president for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. “We need more eyes on the skies, not less.”

Across the country hundreds of positions for certified air traffic controllers are vacant. The salary for an air traffic controller can range from $40,000 to $160,000 a year and they have a mandatory retirement age of 56.

“The number of certified controllers in this country are at a 27 year low,” Marinitti said. “We don’t have the people to put into positions when the traffic begins to increase.”

Inside the tower at Miami International Airport, they are supposed to have 91 controllers available to work. Instead they have just 58.

The regional control center – which covers air space from Orlando to Puerto Rico – is supposed to have 267 certified controllers. In reality it has only 205.

The tower at Fort Lauderdale International is slated for 26 controllers and has 25. But with the addition of the South Runway, the need for more controllers in Fort Lauderdale is only a matter of time, Marinitti said.

“Over the past five years the FAA has not met their hiring goals once,” he noted.

The impact of these shortages is two-fold: Flight delays as planes back up and additional stress for controllers who are increasingly being forced to work longer hours and six day work weeks.

“There is a fatigue issue that comes into play,” he said.

Marinitti, however, maintains the public is not in danger by these shortages.

“Safety is not at risk now, nor will it be in the future,” he said.

In August, however, CBS News uncovered a never-before released study conducted by NASA on the issue of air traffic controller fatigue and their schedules.

The NASA study warned the FAA four years ago that chronic controller fatigue was undermining safety and urged the FAA to do away with six day work weeks.

The NASA study revealed that nearly one in five air traffic controllers had experienced a “close call” in the previous twelve months.

Fifty-six percent of the controllers who had aircraft narrowly miss one another said fatigue was a factor.

Sixty-one percent of all air traffic controllers reported nearly dozing off on the job.

The NASA study was commissioned after an airline crash, which resulted in 49 people being killed, was blamed in part on controller fatigue.

“We work in an environment where you are expected to be mistake free and correct 100 percent of the time,” Marinitti said. “It’s a lot of stress and a lot of pressure that a lot of people can’t take.”

In a statement, an FAA spokesman said the agency shares the union’s concerns about staffing levels and blamed Congress, saying budget cuts and the government shutdown forced them to fall behind. They say they are now doing what they can to try and catch up. But it could take years.

In the meantime, as the FAA tries to play catch up, more than 3,000 controllers are expected to retire in the next couple of years.

Story and video:  http://miami.cbslocal.com

Monday, November 23, 2015

Airline to reform after botched emergency

China Southern Airlines said yesterday that it would improve procedures after a passenger claimed that the airline’s failure to tend to his medical condition in a timely manner resulted in emergency surgery.

The passenger, a journalist from northeast China’s Liaoning Province, was on a flight from Shenyang to Beijing on November 9 when his stomach started to ache. He informed the crew, who contacted Beijing Capital International Airport and asked for an ambulance to be ready upon arrival — roughly one and a half hours after takeoff.

The passenger said that he was already in excruciating pain when the airplane landed, yet instead of being taken to the ambulance immediately, the doors remained shut for another 50 minutes.

“The crew said the air traffic controllers failed to reply so they had to wait,” the passenger said in his blog post that has since been shared several thousand times.

According to the carrier, technical difficulties with the plane’s brakes did not allow it to move. A tow truck eventually arrived to take the plane to the apron, where the doors were opened.

An argument then ensued between the crew and the ambulance over who should take the passenger off the plane.

Eventually, the passenger claimed in his blog post, he carried himself to the ambulance without assistance.

The passenger was finally sent to the Peking University People’s Hospital eight hours after the plane landed. He was diagnosed with acute intestinal obstruction and had to have part of his intestine removed.

China Southern yesterday apologized and said it would improve procedures for medical emergencies, but said that medical staff at the airport were also to blame.

“The airline will negotiate with the medical workers at the airport to improve the process to hand over patients,” China Southern said in a statement.

The airline also apologized to the passenger, who wanted to make sure that the airline improved its conduct.

“I don’t want any apology or compensation, but I want the carriers to save time when they encounter similar cases in the future,” he said.

The blog post received some 6,000 comments — mostly critical of the airline. Some, however, said that they understood the carriers reaction.

“It is impossible to risk the flying safety for a single passenger,” wrote a netizen who said that he works in the civil aviation industry.

- Source:  http://www.shanghaidaily.com

Corporate Flight Management Makes Pitch To Provide Air Service To Tupelo Regional Airport (KTUP), Lee County, Mississippi

TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – A Tennessee based airline makes its case to provide air service in Tupelo. As WCBI’s Allie Martin reports, the company, along with airport board members, believe the area can support and sustain a reliable airline.

Corporate Flight Management’s CEO spent a good part of his morning, talking about Essential Air Service and subsidies.

CFM brought one of its 19 seat Jetstream planes to Tupelo Regional Airport, for its presentation to airport board members and several city council members. Less than one month ago Seaport Airlines stopped providing service in Tupelo, after a dismal record. Corporate Flight Management is proposing flights to Nashville .

“We’re the only carrier offering a twin engine, pressurized aircraft flown by two pilots, it’s a very comfortable airplane, typically configured with 19 seats, we’re willing to reconfigure it to seat only nine if the airport would prefer to operate under the traditional EAS model,” Matt Chaifetz, CEO of CFM Airlines.

CFM has been in business since 1982 and operates in several cities under the EAS program. The company also touted its safety record and its attention to punctuality. In fact, CEO Chaifetz says there will never be a cancelled flight because there are no pilots. That was an ongoing problem with Seaport.

Still, airport board members say it’s vital to have reliable air service for Tupelo.

“Being able to pull up and park your car, come in and leave from Tupelo and come back to Tupelo , I hope we will be able to maintain that, and keep that, we’re looking also long term,” said Ty Robinson, vice chairman of the Airport Authority.

Executives with Corporate Flight Management know they have to regain the flying public’s trust, they’re considering offering free, or nominal priced introductory fares, if they get the contract.

Three other airlines are hoping to provide air service to Tupelo. It typically takes 60 to 90 days to begin service once the Department of Transportation awards a contract.

Story and video:  http://www.wcbi.com

Drone Pilot Training Center Expanding From California Desert To North Dakota

INDIAN SPRINGS, NV - NOVEMBER 17:  (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been reviewed by the U.S. Military prior to transmission.)  MQ-9 Reapers and an MQ-1B Predator remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) are parked in a hangar at Creech Air Force Base on November 17, 2015 in Indian Springs, Nevada. The Pentagon has plans to expand combat air patrols flights by remotely piloted aircraft by as much as 50 percent over the next few years to meet an increased need for surveillance, reconnaissance and lethal airstrikes in more areas around the world.  

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) – A major U.S. defense contractor that is opening an unmanned aircraft training academy in North Dakota may start with a temporary structure because of the growing demand for pilots and other crew members, the head of a drone business park says.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. held its groundbreaking ceremony earlier this month at Grand Sky, the nation’s first unmanned aircraft technology park located on the Grand Forks Air Force Base. The California company, which manufactures the Predator and Reaper drones, plans a 19,400-square-foot hangar to house aircraft that will be used to train up to 100 students a year.

Thomas Swoyer Jr., Grand Sky Development Corp. president, said construction can’t go fast enough.

“Speed is of the essence to get their building up,” Swoyer said. “Right now we are evaluating with General Atomics about a temporary structure we could get into place before a permanent building is completed.”

Swoyer said the need to train drone pilots was a driving force behind Grand Sky, the $300 million public-private venture that has 217 acres of land space and wide-open airspace.

Officials at General Atomics declined to comment to The Associated Press, but company CEO Linden Blue said during groundbreaking that his group is running out of training space in the high desert of California. Blue said the Grand Forks location gives the company a “very significant advantage” because of the strong aviation workforce and academic programs at the University of North Dakota and other area colleges.

Construction on the permanent training building is expected to be complete by next August. It’s not clear how soon a temporary structure could be up and running.

Source:  http://sacramento.cbslocal.com

Accident occurred November 20, 2015 at Mountain Airpark (0GE5), Cleveland, White County, Georgia

A Martin man “hadn’t been in the air very long (and) still hadn’t left the airport area” when his ultralight aircraft came down Friday afternoon in Cleveland, according to White County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Scotty Scarbrough.

“He took off and was probably not in the air more than just a few minutes at the most and came down on top of a hangar,” Scarbrough said.

The Sheriff’s Office heard reports after 1:30 p.m. Friday of an ultralight aircraft down on Runway Circle, which is near Mountain Air Park.

Brian Payne, 53, suffered head injuries from the crash and was transferred to Northeast Georgia Medical Center. He was in fair condition in the intensive care unit Monday afternoon, according to hospital officials.

Payne was the only person in the aircraft, according to the White County Sheriff’s Office.

Scarbrough said it is unknown as to what caused the aircraft to come down.

“Some of the people around there thought he had only had (the aircraft) for a few days, but we don’t know that for sure,” Scarbrough said.

- Source:   http://www.gainesvilletimes.com

British Airways pilot's eyes damaged in Heathrow laser attack • 'Military strength' device shone into cockpit during landing prompts warning over growing threat

A British Airways co-pilot suffered burnt retinas after a “military-strength” laser was shone into the cockpit of his plane during a landing at Heathrow airport, an employment tribunal heard.

The incident caused the most serious injury ever inflicted upon a pilot in the UK during a laser attack, said the general secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa).

Jim McAuslan also warned about the “growing threat” of lasers which are becoming increasingly powerful and more readily available to the public.

Speaking about the attack on the unnamed BA co-pilot, Mr. McAuslan said: “His retina was burnt on one of his eyes.”

He added that “people have assumed the laser must have been military strength” because the damage was much more severe than that caused by common laser pens, which can be purchased online for under £5.

“When there’s something like this, that’s damaged a man’s retina, that starts to worry us,” he added.

Mr. McAuslan said the victim was a co-pilot at the time of the incident and was not operating the plane but he wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the individual case.

The man was taken to a hospital in Sheffield for treatment and has not been back to work following the attack, which took place in the spring.

Balpa has found that half of pilots experienced a laser attack in the past 12 months and figures from the Civil Aviation Authority show more laser incidents were reported at Heathrow than any other airport in the UK last year.

The west London hub had 48 attacks in the first six months of the year and some 168 incidents were recorded in 2014.

A Balpa spokeswoman said the organization is “very” concerned about the potential of lasers to startle and distract pilots at critical phases of flight.

She said: “We are also aware of concern around the ease of access to lasers, the increasing power of the technology and the potential they have to cause injury.”

Laser attacks on aircraft started some years ago when laser pointers became readily available to buy and the number of incidents has escalated.

A Civil Aviation report into lasers says the main problem is that the attacks are always “sudden, very bright, distracting, and can cause temporary visual disturbance for some time after the attack”.

High intensity laser pens are easily available online and the more powerful products which emit green beams can cost be purchased for around £400 and have ranges of up to 200 miles.

One online retailer, MegalaserUK, which sells “hundreds a year” warns “they are not toys” and says: “The light can burst balloons, melt plastic and light matches.

“Our lasers are so powerful you not only see the dot but can clearly see the entire beam stretching through the sky.”

Reckless use of lasers is a criminal offence in the UK.

BA said they were investigating the incident and a spokesperson said: “We urge our pilots to report such incidents so we can make the authorities aware.”

Source:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Caesars Entertainment sued over charter flights

Caesars Entertainment Operating Co.'s plan to offer chartered flights to its casinos has flown off course and into a multimillion-dollar legal storm.

Charter operator Aerodynamics Inc. of Michigan filed a $12 million lawsuit in July accusing Caesars, a former executive of a Caesars subsidiary and a charter competitor of stealing trade secrets and breaching a three-year contract worth $85 million.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Jennifer Dorsey of Nevada granted Aerodynamics and its parent company, ADI Holdings of Georgia, a partial preliminary injunction in the case, saying the business "is likely to succeed on the merits of its breach of contract and misappropriation claims" and that it could suffer "irreparable harm" without the injunction.

The injunction was "a significant and extraordinary remedy" chosen before any discovery in the case, said ADI's attorney, Dana Hobart, of the Los Angeles law firm of Hobart Linzer. That means the order was based solely on the merits of ADI's claims.

The order prohibits the acquisition, use or disclosure of any of ADI's proprietary information. It applies to former Caesars executive Steven Markhoff; his current business, International Management Solutions; charter-service providers Via Air and Via Airlines; and Via Air Chairman Amos Vizer.

It doesn't apply to Caesars Entertainment, though Caesars remains a defendant in the case.

The law firm representing the defendants, Pisanelli Bice of Las Vegas, disputed the plaintiffs' case and Hobart's comments.

"We strongly disagree with plaintiffs' representations," said attorney Magali Calderon in a statement late Friday. "The court's order granting a limited injunction is a public record and illustrates the false and defamatory statements of both the plaintiffs and their counsel. We intend to pursue all available legal remedies against plaintiffs and their counsel for the false and defamatory statements."

The case's history began in October 2014. That's when ADI said Markhoff, then vice president of Caesars subsidiary ESS Travel Management, asked the company to bid on a contract to fly casino patrons to and from Caesars properties nationwide.

The lawsuit alleges Markhoff sent "an independent forensic accountant identified only as 'Marina'" to ADI's offices in February and "conduct further analysis of ADI's trade secrets." Executives gave the accountant "unfettered access" to confidential documents with the caveat that she look, but not copy, the paperwork.

ADI executives said a subtenant of ADI's offices later told them he saw Marina taking pictures of the documents with her cellphone.

The claim alleges the accountant was actually Marina Morgan, financial director for West Virginia-based Via Air, another operator vying for the Caesars contract.

ADI executives said they confronted Morgan and told her they would force her from the property if she kept taking photos. Morgan left the building for lunch and never returned, they said.

Hours later, ADI said, Markhoff emailed the company to end due diligence. Markhoff sent a letter three days later on behalf of Caesars saying the casino company "has elected to no longer pursue a contract with ADI to operate aircraft for the Caesars air network."

Markhoff then left Caesars to join Via Air. Via subsequently won the Caesars contract, ADI said.

ADI officials allege Markhoff and Via Air obtained sensitive details such as income forecasts, labor and maintenance costs, and aircraft-lease expenses.

And they allege Markhoff told an aircraft leasing agent from a separate company that his plan was to "steal ADI's business and put them out of business."

Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in January, looking to pare roughly $10 billion from the division's $18.6 billion long-term debt burden.

Story and comments:  http://www.reviewjournal.com

Amid Terror Scare, State Department Issues World-Wide Travel Alert • Alert is first in nearly a year and expires February 24, 2016

A United Airlines plane lands at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey. The State Department issued a worldwide travel alert following a month of deadly terrorist attacks around the globe and as millions are set to hit the roads and airways ahead of Thanksgiving. 

The Wall Street Journal
By Damian Paletta
Updated November 23, 2015 7:19 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—The State Department on Monday issued a world-wide travel alert following a month of deadly terrorist attacks on three continents that have killed hundreds of people, including Americans.

The alert, the first in nearly a year, expires on Feb. 24. It comes during the busiest U.S. travel week of the year, with millions of Americans hitting the roads and airways for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The State Department, in its warning, said terror groups including Islamic State and Boko Haram “continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and nonconventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests.”

The State Department often issues travel warnings, but alerts are more uncommon, reserved for short-term events, whereas warnings can be indefinite and resulting from general instability.

Nonetheless, an alert doesn’t mean a terror attack is imminent. It more likely reflects recent events—such as the spate of terror attacks—and the need for heightened caution.

A top concern for many intelligence officials is the risk posed by Islamic State militants who traveled to fight and train in Syria and Iraq and then returned to their home countries in Europe or elsewhere.

“Additionally, there is a continuing threat from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis,” the alert said.

It said terror attacks in the past have targeted sporting events, theaters, markets, airports and airplanes.

Following the 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S., the government has struggled at times to warn citizens of the dangers of possible threats. The Department of Homeland Security for a time used a color-coded warning system, but that system was eventually scrapped.

The State Department last issued a world-wide travel alert in December 2014, following a terror attack in Australia. The terror attack in Paris that targeted the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine came just a few weeks later.

In the past several months, Islamic State-aligned militants are believed to have carried out multiple terror attacks in France, Egypt, Turkey and Lebanon. A separate attack in Mali on Friday, believed to have been carried out by a group that claims ties to al Qaeda, left more than 30 dead. Combined, the attacks have killed more than 400 people, including at least two Americans.

U.S. officials have stressed in recent days that they haven’t detected imminent plans by terror groups to carry out a Paris-style terror attack on U.S. soil, but police and national-security officials have been operating on heightened alert status.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Monday addressed the elevated risk and acknowledged “anxiety across our country.”

“As we approach the holiday season, it is important to note that, at present, we know of no credible and specific intelligence indicating a Paris-like plot on the U.S. homeland,” he wrote on the agency’s website. “But, the public should know that those of us in national security, homeland security, and law enforcement are working overtime to monitor threats, continually evaluate our security posture, and guard the homeland.”

Original article can be found here:  http://www.wsj.com

'Plane' talk about a '66 Mustang

Frank Maddock jokes that his wife loves her 1966 Ford Mustang more than she loves him.

At age 80, Frank Maddock of Arlington looks like he still belongs in the captain’s seat of one of the airliners he piloted during his career with Braniff Airlines.

And it’s easy to imagine his wife, Sue, 70, still striding the aisles of one of those airliners as a flight attendant.

The Arlington couple visited Brownwood on Nov. 14, bringing the orange-red 1966 Ford Mustang convertible Sue has owned since the car was brand new to the Lehnis Railroad Museum. Accompanying them: their German Shepherd dog, Jody, who traveled with Frank in a sport utility vehicle, and a series of remarkable stories that include romance, aviation, motorcycles — and cars.

The two are members of a car club called the Special Interest Ford Club, Dallas/Fort Worth, which is open to any Ford-powered vehicle. About 18 members of the club drove to Brownwood on Nov. 14 — the Saturday before last — to see the Route 66 exhibit at the Lehnis Railroad Museum.

Club members parked their Fords — Mustangs and other cars that ranged from the 1950s to a more modern era — across the street from the train museum.

Sue Maddock owns one of the Mustangs that was parked there — a pristine orange-red 1966 convertible. She was still single when she bought the Mustang brand new through an Irving dealership, and she’s kept it for 49 1/2 years.

Though she’s had her Mustang for 49 1/2 years, she’s still enamored with the “fabulous” car, which boasts a 289-cubic-inch engine and three-speed manual transmission.

“I enjoyed driving it so much, I never wanted to trade it in for anything,” Sue said.

“She loves it more than me, but she got it before she got me,” Frank joked.

“Once upon a time, I was flying a route for Braniff. It was the Denver-Memphis run,” Frank said, beginning the story of how he and Sue first met in 1966.

Frank was a brand-new co-pilot on a Convair twin-engine turboprop airliner. In Memphis, Frank and the rest of the plane’s crew checked into a hotel for an overnight stay. A crew from another Braniff flight was checking in at the same time, and the two captains greeted each other.

Each captain introduced his crew to the other crew. Frank met Sue, who was a flight attendant on the other flight, for the first time that night.

The next night, in Denver, the two crews again checked into the same hotel. Sue wanted to see a movie and invited Frank.

“What’s playing?” Frank asked.

“Flight of the Phoenix,” Sue replied. They walked to a nearby theater to see the movie, then had coffee and talked until 3 or 4 a.m.

Frank and Sue returned separately to Dallas, where both were based with Braniff. Frank wanted another date with Sue. But she hadn’t given him her phone number. “Fortunately, after the movie, she mentioned the apartment complex that she lived in,” Frank said.

“My phone rings, and it’s him,” Sue recalled.

It wasn’t quite that simple.

There was no listing for a phone under Sue’s name. Frank went to the apartment complex and looked at the mailboxes until he found one with the names of Sue and her roommates.

“Frank did not know the names of any roommates, so he had to look for a box with my name on it,” Sue recalled. “He then wrote down the names of the other roommates listed on the mailbox, went back to the phone booth and asked the operator for the phone number of each roommate.

“Fortunately, one of the roommates had a listed phone number. How was that for tenacity?”

“My phone rings, and it’s him,” Sue recalled.

The two dated for a year and were married on April 12, 1967.

Frank went on to fly jetliners for Braniff before retiring from flying in 1985.

Sue went on to get a pilot’s license, and the two became airplane owners.

“You briefly asked me what else I had to tell you about me,” Sue said in an email to a Bulletin reporter. She had more to tell:

Sue retired from the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office in 2005 as a lieutenant after 24 years in law enforcement. Sue started out working as a police officer in 1981, then joined the sheriff’s office as a patrol deputy in 1984.

“I was also the first woman to run for sheriff in Tarrant County,” Sue said via email. “I lost to the incumbent sheriff in the Republic Primary Election of 1996, but what a ride it was!”

When it was suggested that Sue was next going to say she’s been on a dogsled expedition to Antarctica, Sue replied via email, “Even though I have not been to Antarctica, our son Shawn has been there several times. Those trips were via a United States Coast Guard ice breaker.

“ … Frank and I have been to many destinations around the globe. Thanks to our discounted travel benefits as a result of his working in the airline industry, we continue to enjoy going places and doing exciting things whenever possible.

“We are very blessed indeed.”

“I think it’s a sweet little community,” Sue said of Brownwood. “The people seem to be very nice. I think it’s very Texan.”

She and Frank had been through Brownwood previously, riding through on their Harley-Davidson motorcycle, but they’d never previously been to the train train museum. “We enjoyed the museum. It’s a first for us,” Sue said.

Source: http://www.brownwoodtx.com

Pilot shortage spells downsizing, big losses at Great Lakes

CHEYENNE – Despite much lower fuel costs in 2015, Great Lakes Aviation continued to report revenue loss in the third quarter, compounding losses to more than $7.4 million year-to-date.

That compares to a $6.1 million loss in 2014 during the same period, even though fuel prices have fallen by a third through 2015 compared to 2014. In federal documentation, the airline noted that aircraft fuel costs has accounted for 15.6 percent of operating expenses through 2015. Furthermore, each one-cent increase or decrease changes the company’s overhead by $36,000 annually.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the average cost of aircraft fuel for all U.S. carriers stood at about $2.88 per gallon. Through September 2015, the average has been $1.92 with September prices sitting at $1.59. The yearly decrease could represent gas savings of nearly $3.5 million for Great Lakes, yet the company is bleeding money faster.

The company continues to blame a pilot shortage sparked by a federal training regulation change for its economic woes. The change required six times more training for first officers, making trained pilots harder to come by, especially in the low-experience, low-relative-pay niche that Great Lakes fills as a regional carrier.

“We have been challenged with the pace in which we can hire, train, and retain pilots versus the rate at which pilots have resigned to fill positions with larger carriers,” the company noted in documentation. Great Lakes hired more than 90 pilots in one year, it noted in its first quarterly report this year. It currently has only 67 pilots, according to Airline Pilot Central. “The decrease in the availability of qualified pilots has materially impacted our operations and financial condition.”

The company went on to state that if the pilot situation doesn’t change, it will have to seek additional capital or begin selling off assets. Furthermore, despite downsizing within the company that made it materially impossible to submit its third-quarter federal documentation on time, Great Lakes again said it would be unable to meet its debt commitments.

The company’s $27.5 million in outstanding loans more than offset the company’s decreased operating loss to push it closer to disbanding. Wyoming’s only airline said in the federal documentation that the pilot shortage, in particular, coupled with resulting problems, is raising “significant doubts” about the company’s ability to stay aloft.

The company had to reconfigure most of its planes to have fewer than half their seats so less-experienced pilots could legally fly them under federal regulations. That has pushed passenger count and revenue down heavily and pushed the airline to lobby for an exemption more recently.

Sheridan’s airport just got back its service last week after more than 230 days without commercial flights when Great Lakes pulled out.

Story and comments:  http://wyomingbusinessreport.com

New San Francisco International Airport (KSFO) flight paths causing record airplane noise complaints

San Francisco International Airport is receiving a record number of airplane noise complaints after a federal revamp of flight paths has rerouted hundreds of planes a day over once quiet neighborhoods on the Peninsula.

The barrage of complaints began in March, when the Federal Aviation Administration rolled out NextGen, a program intended to upgrade airport infrastructure and improve air traffic management through satellite-based navigation. The FAA says more planes now fit into each sector of airspace, yielding $133 billion in benefits to airports, airlines and passengers from avoided delays and cancellations, reduced flight times, and fuel savings.

For many Bay Area residents, however, the new program has caused what they describe as insufferable noise pollution, with flights crossing residential areas every two minutes at peak hours. “This program had absolutely no concern for the people on the ground. It’s all about the profits,” said Denise Stansfield, a Santa Cruz resident, in an interview during No Fly Day, a protest at SFO attended by hundreds on Oct. 24.

For George Purnell, board president of the Happy Valley School District in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the new flight noise could result in financial loss, as the school is primarily funded by property taxes collected from the community. “Our properties are not getting more valuable having planes fly over everyone’s house every minute and a half. I’m at risk as a school district of losing tax revenues,” he said.

Members of Congress who are also getting bombarded with complaints from their districts nationwide are now introducing bills to force the FAA to reconsider flight routes and address the noise problems. Two such bills came from Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), who earlier this month unveiled the Quiet Communities Act, to bring transparency to the FAA’s current noise measurement and abatement practices; and the FAA Community Accountability Act, which would require the agency to work with local communities and limit noise impacts when planning new paths.

SFO drowning in noise complaints

Airplane noise complaints to SFO are up more than tenfold with 147,442 complaints about airplane noise logged from March through August of this year compared to 14,726 in all of 2014. According to SFO’s Noise Abatement Office, this is the highest volume of noise complaints registered since the office was established in 1975.

“I’ve been working at SFO for almost 17 years now, and I have not seen anything quite like this,” Bert Ganoung, manager of SFO’s Aircraft Noise Abatement Office, said in an interview. “We used to get 40 to 80 complaints on a big day, as recently as the start of the year. Now we’re taking in 5,000 a day.”

Some of the increase can be linked to mobile phone applications that have made it easier for residents to complain. “If affected, push that button!” the Serfr1 Complaints app advertises. This creates new challenges for noise abatement officers, Ganoung explained, as single individuals can now complain hundreds of times in minutes, rather than file complaints through lengthy phone calls or direct emails — which provide officers more detailed information.

Still, there is little airport authority personnel can do. Only the FAA — not the airport — can change flight paths, he said.

On Nov. 16, the FAA released an 11-page work plan to address local concerns, including evaluating whether it would be possible to raise the altitude of incoming aircraft over affected areas, or shift the flight paths where possible over water instead of land. They are also looking whether the speed of incoming aircraft could be reduced and if it is possible to reduce the use of screeching speed brakes that have amplified noise. 

The document stressed, however, that the new plan does not mean a “re-opening” of the FAA’s August 2014 decision for Northern California, when it found no significant noise impact for new arrival and departure routes.

Noise level metrics don’t tell the whole story

One of NextGen’s main goals is to have “fewer than 300,000 people [in the United States] exposed to significant noise — defined as a day-night average sound level of 65 decibels — by 2018.” However, the federal levels for acceptable noise of 65 decibels dates to the 1970s, and, according to Palo Alto resident Rachel Kellerman, “is outdated and disconnected from the real impact that air traffic noise has on residents.” In accordance, local advocates propose that the FAA lowers the acceptable threshold to the World Health Organization-recommended 55 decibels.

The FAA has agreed to reassess its sound-level metrics, but it is unclear when results will arrive. In September 2014, Rep. Eshoo asked the FAA, in an official letter, to “expedite its four-year-long review of the 65 Day-Night Average Sound Level.”

“Telling constituents that the FAA’s study is not near completion after five years offers them cold comfort when jet noise is blanketing their communities,” she wrote at the time.

Fourteen months later, the FAA still hasn’t released its review. When asked by email if the agency is studying the revision, Ian Gregor, public affairs manager of FAA’s Pacific Division, pointed to a recent press release that mentions hopes to “finish gathering data by the end of 2016.”

Eshoo finds the commotion caused by NextGen unprecedented. “This is the first time, in almost 23 years, that I’ve dealt with airplane noise that is affecting my entire congressional district,” she said in an interview.

She has brokered multiple meetings with FAA officials and impacted residents. “I said to the administrator, ‘You broke this. You are the one who made a mess out of this, so it’s up to you to fix this,’” Eshoo recalled. “People here are simply not going to put up with this. And they shouldn’t have to.”

She has brokered multiple meetings with FAA officials and impacted residents. “I said to the administrator, ‘You broke this. You are the one who made a mess out of this, so it’s up to you to fix this,’” Eshoo recalled. “People here are simply not going to put up with this. And they shouldn’t have to.”

Story, video and photos:  http://peninsulapress.com

Mobile applications simplify noise reporting, aiding residents to file hundreds of complaints per minute. Spacefrog (pictured) records the time and flight number, then sends a report to SFO’s Noise Abatement Office.

Marines: Sandy Conditions a Factor in Deadly Aircraft Crash

A hybrid aircraft that crashed in Hawaii this year, killing two Marines, flew in sandy or dusty conditions for an extended period before its engine stalled, the U.S. Marine Corps said Monday.

An investigation found the stalled left engine put the Bell/Boeing MV-22B Osprey in an unavoidable freefall, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific said in a news release.

The airplane-and-helicopter hybrid crashed at a military base outside Honolulu in May with 21 Marines and a Navy corpsman on board.

The pilots didn't violate any regulations or flight standards, the Marines said. But investigators found a proper risk assessment should have prompted the pilots to choose a different flight path or landing site to avoid dust or sand.

Investigators have recommended changes to help pilots make better decisions in similar situations.

One is to have the Osprey display engine performance and stall data. Another is to have the aircraft alert pilots when engine power declines below 95 percent. Investigators also want the military to improve the MV-22's engine air filtration systems.

The military has already made an interim change to training and operating procedures as a result of the accident, the Marine Corps said.

The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that can take off and land like a helicopter but flies like an airplane, which gives it a longer range than traditional helicopters.

The Osprey that crashed took off from the USS Essex, a Navy ship 100 miles offshore. It was en route to drop off infantry Marines for training when it crashed at Bellows Air Force Station on Oahu's eastern coast.

The aircraft was part of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit based in Camp Pendleton, California. It was visiting Hawaii for a week of training during a seven-month deployment to the Pacific and the Middle East.

The crash killed Lance Cpl. Matthew Determan, 21, of Ahwatukee, Arizona and Lance Cpl. Joshua Barron, 24, of Spokane, Washington.

- Source:  http://abcnews.go.com

Glasgow airport selling alcohol in sealed bags to cut disruption on planes

Some UK airport shops are selling alcohol in sealed bags in a bid to reduce disruption caused by drunk passengers, the aviation minister has said.

Robert Goodwill said Glasgow and Manchester airports were trialing the scheme amid growing concerns about travelers' behavior.

He revealed that several airlines have written to the Government recently to warn about the number of alcohol-related incidents.

"An airplane is a unique environment, a confined space, filled with families and other travelers, and while in the air out of the reach of traditional law enforcement," Mr. Goodwill said.

"There's little chance that a drunken passenger could pose a threat to the plane itself, but some have tried."

Last week a British Airways passenger was arrested after allegedly trying to force open an exit door on a transatlantic flight.

Mr. Goodwill told the Airport Operators Association conference in west London: "We don't want to stop passengers enjoying themselves or prevent people from flying.

"But we do want people to put a brake on before things get out of hand.

"Already, some airports are taking new steps. Glasgow and Manchester airports are trialing the sale of duty-free alcohol in sealed bags."

He said airlines need to "look at their approach to serving alcohol on board", while the Government must "make sure that enforcement is effective".

Mr. Goodwill added: "For a proportion of passengers, their holiday begins in the airport bar, whether they arrive at the airport at seven in the evening or seven in the morning.

"For some passengers, a delayed flight means that the first drink of the holiday quickly becomes the first three, four or five drinks.
"And in at least one airport today, passengers are able to pull their own pints at their table."

He went on: "Our aim should be to ensure that flying is a safe and enjoyable experience for all travelers, and that flying doesn't end badly for the careless few."

- Source: http://www.heraldscotland.com

Plane, drone nearly collide: Waterloo International Airport, Ontario, Canada

A pilot taking off from the Region of Waterloo International Airport reported a near-miss with a drone moments after takeoff.

According to Waterloo Regional Police, the pilot took off around 3 p.m. Sunday, bound for Tennessee.

Once he was about half a kilometre north of the airport, police say, he “came within 10 feet of striking an unmanned aerial vehicle.”

Although the two crafts nearly collided, the pilot did not have to take evasive action and no injuries were reported.

Federal regulations prohibit drones from flying within nine kilometres of any Canadian airport.

Story and video:  http://kitchener.ctvnews.ca