Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Future of the Hastings Municipal Airport (KHSI)

HASTINGS, Neb. --- The number of airplanes flying into the Hastings airport may not be soaring, but the city and local aviation enthusiasts say that doesn't mean it is not worth maintaining. Compared to the its neighbors like the Grand Island airport and the Kearney airport, the Hastings Municipal airport is lagging in some areas.

The airport was built in the 1930s and has mainly served as a general aviation airport, serving non-commercial airplanes.

"When major manufacturers, major employers have salesmen, when they go out, come in, conduct business, they utilize the airport. When they have suppliers come in when they have potential customers come in they utilize the airport," said Aaron Shardt.

Shardt is a member of the recently formed Hastings Airport Association. Their main goal is to serve as advocates for the airport and help the city figure out ways to revive the airport.

The airport was taken over by the city more than 10 years and is mainly funded through tax dollars.

Last year it had a 24 thousand dollar deficit but council member Kathy Duval said it is not a burden on the city and that certainly doesn't mean they are going to give up on the airport.

"Right now we're losing a little bit of money because we aren't selling a lot of fuel and I think we can increase that fuel if we had possibly a fixed based operator," said Duval.

Fuel can be a major money maker for an airport like Hastings. Last year the airport sold about 46 thousand gallons of fuel compared to the 300 thousand sold by Kearney or 100 thousand sold by Fremont.

Along with a partner, Shardt met with city council members and officials in October to present some ideas on ways the airports can be improve and just how much of an asset it can be to the city.

He said, "we have the runways, we have the lighting, we have the storage, we have the weather reporting."

But the airport is lacking some of the services necessary to attract more pilots to utilize it.

"When pilots fly into airports they're looking for ground transportation, they looking for the ability to have their aircraft fueled for them, they are looking for services."

Shardt said with those additions will come more people using it and pilots stopping by for fuel, generating more more to not only maintain it but make some revenue.

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As more helicopter companies eye Grand Strand, county considers forcing tour businesses to operate at airports

More helicopter tour businesses want to fly over the Grand Strand, but Horry County leaders are trying to limit where those companies can operate.

After years of fielding complaints from residents about the din of passing helicopters, County Council’s Infrastructure and Regulation Committee on Thursday reviewed a proposal that would require all helicopter tour companies to be based at public airports.

The policy wouldn’t affect existing businesses or a few pieces of amusement property that fall under a land development agreement.

Planning Director Janet Carter said interest in tour businesses continues to mount, with new companies eyeing potential sites and current ones looking to expand. Two businesses have already approached Grand Strand Airport in North Myrtle Beach about leasing a hangar there.

“These are not going away,” Carter said. “And if the industry has its way, they will be expanding and more coming to the county.”

Local officials have debated the benefits of aerial sightseeing excursions for years, but the discussion intensified in 2012 when Helicopter Adventures opened across from Broadway at the Beach.

Residents in nearby Plantation Point vociferously objected to the helicopters’ noise. They also voiced concerns about the safety of the tours passing over neighborhoods.

A Plantation Point resident took his complaints to court but wasn’t successful. Earlier this year, the S.C. Court of Appeals ruled that Helicopter Adventures could continue offering aerial trips.

After the initial uproar in 2012, council members considered tightening the county’s restrictions on helicopter tours. They never did.

But the possibility of having more of these businesses has revived talks about regulations. County officials maintain the policy would prevent a repeat of what they went through with Plantation Point.

“It needs to be expedited and looked at quickly,” said County Councilman Bill Howard, whose district includes Plantation Point. “It’s something we need. It should have been done a long time ago.”

Carter cautioned council members to follow the same procedure that they would go through with any other policy change, saying speeding up the process could invite a lawsuit.

“Because there is such great interest in it,” she said, “you don’t want to set up anything that could subject your ordinance to challenge.”

The proposal will go before county planning commission next, then back to the committee and on to the full council for final approval.


House hunting by helicopter? Brokerage gives it a whirl

Potential buyer Mark Lambert and Jameson Sotheby's agent Judy Gibbons snap photos during last week's helicopter tour.

Hoping to rise above the competition, one local brokerage is putting a new spin on the house hunt by taking buyers up in a helicopter to check out properties.

It's a pilot program now, with just one flight so far, but Jameson Sotheby's International Realty will soon go full throttle, offering helicopter tours to any of its city or suburban buyers in the $1.5 million-and-up range, said Chris Feurer, CEO of the brokerage. That price range accounts for less than 1 percent of all the Chicago-area homes sold in the past 12 months, according to Midwest Real Estate Data.

While some individual agents may have booked helicopter flights for their clients and it's now a thing in Los Angeles, Jameson is the first Chicago-area real estate company to offer the service company-wide.

"We want to give our clients that perspective from the sky as part of the full experience of choosing their home," Feurer said.

The brokerage will cover the cost of a 60-minute flight, about $1,500 in the city and under $1,000 in the suburbs, Feurer said. He said he couldn't predict how many clients will take the offer.

A competitor in the luxury marketplace said she foresees Jameson's idea taking flight.

"It's a novel approach that will give their buyers a different perspective than Google Earth," said Beth Burtt, a broker and owner of Brush Hill Realtors in Hinsdale, which also vies for luxury buyers.

Although Burtt's focus is the suburbs, she said she expects shopping-by-helicopter to have more appeal to city buyers. "You can get up over the congestion and really see what the neighborhood looks like," she said.

Photographing houses by drone gives a bird's-eye view of the property, but sending the buyer up in a whirlybird gives the buyer a firsthand view of that perspective.

Jameson's first client to go for a ride was Mark Lambert, who with his wife, Deborah, is looking to downsize out of their 6,600-square-foot Barrington Hills farmhouse. He went up with Jameson agent Judy Gibbons, a photographer and a pilot last week, taking off from Schaumburg Regional Airport.

Lambert said that at liftoff, he had five properties, all in Barrington Hills, on his list, but by the time the chopper landed back in Schaumburg, he'd cut it down to two. One dropped off the list because it turned out to have an auto auction yard next door, beyond the listed property's wooded acreage.

"You couldn't see that on Google Earth, and even though I've driven down that road a million times, I had no idea it was there," he said.

By flying over a property at 800 feet up, "you get a better idea what's on the neighbor's property,” Lambert said. “In Barrington Hills, people tend to collect things like ATVs or snowmobiles. Those things are loud."

For a city buyer, a helicopter tour might be used less for spying on individual homes than for "showing a buyer how our beautiful city lakefront lays out," said Linda Shaughnessy, whom Feurer last week tapped to be the first city agent at Jameson to try it out, although she hasn't done it yet.

With an out-of-towner moving to Chicago, "I can show them where the nice parks are and the schools, and how quickly you can connect up Sheridan Road to the North Shore," she said.

In the real estate industry, "it's hard to differentiate your brand from others because many of them say the same things and provide the same services for everyone who comes in," said Tim Calkins, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.

Although "it's possible to shop for an expensive home without using a helicopter," Jameson's offering "certainly says that they are willing to provide a special level of experience that isn't for everyone,” Calkins said. “That's what the high-end buyers and sellers will want to hear."

There's a practical use for a helicopter tour, Gibbons said, pointing to Lambert's winnowing down his list of possible future homes, but "there's also the kick. It's the, 'Oh, my real estate agent is taking me up in a helicopter today. Does your agent do that?'"

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Cessna T210N Centurion, N91HC, Aircraft Guarantee Corp Trustee: Accident occurred November 19, 2015 at Brackett Field Airport (KPOC), La Verne, Los Angeles County, California

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA El Segundo (Los Angeles) FSDO-23
NTSB Identification: WPR16LA030 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 19, 2015 in La Verne, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA T210N, registration: N91HC
Injuries: 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On November 19, 2015, about 1335 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna T210N Centurion, N91HC, experienced a loss of engine power and collided with a sign while the pilot was making an emergency approach to Brackett Field, La Verne, California. Aircraft Guaranty Corp was the registered owner and was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was seriously injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. The aerial surveying flight originated from Camarillo Airport, Camarillo, California, about 0910, and the pilot had intended land back at that airport. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed.

The pilot stated that he was an airplane mechanic for his profession, but had been down in southern California for the previous 2 days helping doing an aerial surveying job. Earlier in the morning, he had the fuel tanks filled to maximum capacity and flew his intended route down in the San Diego area. As he began to return back to the destination airport, he recalled having 15 gallons of fuel on board, which the JP Instrument (JPI) gauge indicated equated to about 40 minutes of flight time. About 1325 he began to descend from his en route altitude of about 13,500-14,000 feet mean sea level (msl) and opted to land at Brackett due to the airplane's low fuel quantity.

Before landing, the pilot switched to the fullest tank (left side), which showed about 6-7 gallons and the right side had about 4-5 gallons. While on final approach, the engine suddenly lost power and despite his attempts, he was unable to successfully have it restart. With the propeller windmilling he aligned toward the closest runway and configured the airplane for the best glide. Suddenly the left wing impacted a sign that he did not previously observe and dove toward the ground. The pilot egressed through the windshield and shortly thereafter, the airplane erupted in flames. The airplane came to rest about 620 feet east of runway 26R and was consumed by fire.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provided the audio recording of the Brackett Air Traffic Control (ATC) communication with the pilot. The pilot made his initial radio call about 1330 stating that he was inbound to land and had the current ATIS (Automated Terminal Information System) information. The tower instructed him to enter the right base leg of the traffic pattern for runway 26L. After reading back the controller's instructions, the pilot stated that he was "quite low on fuel." The tower cleared the pilot to land on runway 26L at 1335, and he acknowledged. After about 1 minute and 15 seconds, the pilot transmitted that he was now requesting to land on runway 26R. About 5-10 seconds after the pilot made a radio call reading back his amended clearance, the airplane impacted the sign.

LA VERNE >> A pilot escaped serious injury after a small airplane crashed at Brackett Field Airport and burst into flames, officials said.

The crash took place at 1:44 p.m. as the pilot was attempting to land at the small airfield, 1615 McKinley Ave., La Verne Fire Department Administrative Clerk Lauren Burtz said.

The landing came short, officials said.

“The aircraft, type currently unknown, struck a perimeter fence upon landing,” Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.

Burtz said the airplane ended up upside-down on top of the flattened fence along Fairplex Drive and quickly became engulfed in flames.

But the pilot managed to escape the wreckage, and La Verne firefighters quickly extinguished the flames, officials said.

Kenitzer said initial reports indicated two people were on board, however, Burtz said firefighters treated only one patient, the pilot.

Officials took the pilot to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center by helicopter for treatment, Burtz said. An update on the pilot’s condition was not available.

Both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

LA VERNE, Calif. (KABC) -- A small plane has crashed at Fairplex and Puddingstone drives near Brackett Field Airport in La Verne Thursday afternoon.

A pilot was on board the aircraft when it struck a perimeter fence upon landing and engulfed into flames, according to authorities from the La Verne Fire Department.

Officials said the pilot was out of the plane when they arrived at the scene. The person was taken to a nearby hospital in unknown condition.

It was not immediately clear whether anyone helped the pilot out of the aircraft.

NASA conducts flight formations over the Houston area

HOUSTON -   NASA's WB-57's flew over the Houston area Thursday in an historic flight.

For the elite pilots of NASA's "high altitude program," their missions usually consist of flying between 55,000 and 63,000 feet capturing data above hurricanes.

The aircraft took flight for a different purpose. For the first time, all three aircraft departed together and in formation, flew throughout Houston and the surrounding area.

The planes were low enough so that onlookers could take pictures. After take off the trio flew over Bush Intercontinental Airport, NRG Stadium, downtown Houston, the San Jacinto Monument and Johnson Space Center.

"Our primary missions are airborne science and technology development," said Tim Propp, who is the deputy chief program manager. The planes have been engineered to fly in altitudes that reach beyond the earth's troposphere over weather and clouds. "The wingspan on these aircrafts tip to tip is 122 feet. There's about 2,000 square feet of surface area," said Propp.

The program has conducted research mission since the early 1960's. Recently, the aircraft flew over Hurricane Joaquin and Patricia collecting essential data for the scientific community.

Scott Reagan, who has worked at NASA for 26 years, is a pilot in the program. He says the research is essential, and the view is unmatched. "I was the highest person toward the stars than anyone else on the planet," said Reagan. "On a clear day, if you are that high up, you can actually see the curvature of the Earth and the clouds bellow look like you're in space almost. Its a unique experience," said Reagan.

According to NASA, missions include atmospheric and Earth science research, cosmic dust collection, rocket launch support, and research and design test bed operations for airborne and space-borne systems.

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Shouldn’t we be picky about pilots and their health?

Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) takes a reporter on a flight above Tulsa in his experimental aircraft. 

New York Times

In honor of the coming vacation travel season, the Senate is working on a bill that would loosen the requirement that pilots take medical examinations.

Next week, as you gather around the Thanksgiving table, be sure to express your gratitude to Congress. If you hear a small plane buzzing overhead, drink a toast to the future, when the folks in America’s cockpits may no longer be burdened with repressive, old-fashioned health monitoring.

“The U.S. Senate has an excruciatingly difficult time doing anything, and here they’re dismantling something that’s been working pretty well,” complained Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. He is opposed to the bill in question, and that puts him in pretty select company. More than two-thirds of his colleagues are co-sponsors.

We are talking about general aviation pilots, the people who fly private planes. They’re currently required to get a medical exam by an FAA-approved physician every five years, and then every two years once they pass 40. The pilots hatehatehate this rule. They claim the doctors are hard to find and charge too much money. But the underlying fear is that some stranger will strip them of the ability to fly.

It’s easy to understand why pilots want to stay aloft. However, I think I speak for most of America when I say that we ought to continue being a little picky about the people we let up there.

The bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, is a very enthusiastic 81-year-old pilot who starred in an exciting airborne adventure about five years ago, when he landed his Cessna at an airport in Texas despite A) The large “X” on the runway, indicating it was closed, and B) The construction crew working on said runway, which ran for their lives when he dropped in.

As a result, the senator had to take part in a remedial training program. This irritated him so much that he successfully sponsored the first Pilot’s Bill of Rights, which makes it easier to appeal that kind of harsh, unforgiving judgment.

The Senate commerce committee is now considering Inhofe’s PBR2, which would eliminate the current medical exam requirement. Instead, pilots would just write a note in their log every four years saying they’d been to a physician who said everything’s fine. The bill has 69 sponsors.

Very little in the current world of Washington is that popular. You may be wondering why. Inhofe is a very powerful guy, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Plus, there are hundreds of thousands of private pilots, many of them rather wealthy. “Most of them are single-issue people, so it would be very good to join in on this,” Inhofe said pointedly in a recent Senate speech. Some small-minded observers suspect he also has personal skin in the game, what with having had quadruple bypass heart surgery and all.

The bill hit a small snag on Wednesday when Democrats on the Senate commerce committee proposed that the doctors who do the new exams be given a government-approved checklist of problems to look for.

They lost on a party-line vote. “My trust is in the physician compared to the FAA,” said one of the Republicans. The real problem was apparently resistance from a certain highway bill author.

“The answer has always come back from Sen. Inhofe’s staff: No,” complained Bill Nelson of Florida, the ranking Democrat on the committee.

At that moment the committee suddenly discovered it was lacking a quorum. But everyone expects the bill to rise again in triumph. “It would have been laughable except it’s so serious,” Blumenthal said.

Gail Collins writes for the New York Times.

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Police: Mystery Man at Los Angeles International Airport (KLAX) Was Likely off-Duty Pilot

A mystery person spotted Thursday on a passenger bridge at Los Angeles International Airport, prompting a search of a plane and a terminal, was likely an off-duty pilot scheduled to catch a courtesy flight to New York, authorities said.

The JetBlue aircraft was cleared for takeoff following the search ordered when an employee reported an unauthorized person dressed as a pilot, airport police Officer Rob Pedregon said. No travelers were onboard at the time.

The off-duty pilot was scheduled to ride to New York on JetBlue Flight 24 but instead got on a Virgin American flight to New York, Pedregon said.

Authorities were waiting for confirmation from the off-duty pilot that he was on the passenger bridge at around 6 a.m., but officials were reasonably sure he was, Pedregon said.

The JetBlue plane was towed as a precautionary measure from Terminal 3 to a remote area of the airfield. Police searched the plane and terminal.

Flight 24 was scheduled for takeoff after the plane was cleared and all passengers and luggage went through security screening for a second time, Pedregon said.


LOS ANGELES (AP) - The latest on the search of a JetBlue plane at Los Angeles International Airport (all times local):

11:45 a.m.

Authorities at Los Angeles International Airport believe a mystery person spotted on a passenger bridge, prompting a search of a plane and a terminal, was likely an off-duty pilot scheduled to catch a courtesy flight to New York.

Airport Police Officer Rob Pedregon says the JetBlue aircraft was cleared Thursday following the search ordered when an employee reported an unauthorized person dressed as a pilot.

Pedregon says the off-duty pilot instead got on a Virgin American flight to New York.

Meanwhile the JetBlue plane was towed as a precautionary measure from Terminal 3 to a remote area of the airfield. Police searched the plane and terminal.

Flight 24 was scheduled for takeoff after the plane was cleared and all passengers and luggage went through security screening for a second time.

11:05 a.m.

Authorities at Los Angeles International Airport say an unauthorized person dressed as a pilot may have tried to board a JetBlue plane.

Airport Police Officer Rob Pedregon said the person has not been located since authorities received the call around 6 a.m. Thursday.

No passengers were on board Flight 24 to New York.

Pedregon says the aircraft was towed as a precautionary measure from Terminal 3 to a remote area of the airfield. Police are searching the plane and terminal.

The aircraft had been preparing for a flight to New York when the report was received.

JetBlue says Flight 24 was delayed and all passengers and luggage would go through security screening for a second time.

9:30 a.m.

Authorities at Los Angeles International Airport are searching a JetBlue aircraft following reports of an unauthorized person trying to get on board.

Airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles says LAX police received a call around 6 a.m. Thursday about somebody possibly on the passenger boarding bridge. No customers were on board.

As a precautionary measure, Castles says, the aircraft was towed from Terminal 3 to a remote area of the airfield. Police are searching the plane.

The aircraft was being prepared for a flight to New York at 6:30 a.m.

JetBlue says Flight 24 was delayed and all passengers and luggage would go through security screening for a second time.

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Man Whose Behavior Forced Jet to Be Diverted Pleads Guilty

A Utah man who forced a New York-bound jet to be diverted to Pittsburgh by throwing items from his carry-on onto the floor, accusing a flight attendant of being an FBI agent and kicking people pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of interfering with a flight crew.

Steven Pectol, 40, of Mapleton, told a federal judge in Pittsburgh that he's been on two medications for bipolar disorder while incarcerated at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center near Youngstown. The private jail contracts to hold prisoners with the U.S. Marshals Service.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jimmy Kitchen told the judge that Pectol began behaving bizarrely about an hour into the red-eye flight from Phoenix on Oct. 11.

Pectol began throwing his belongings into the aisle, talking to himself and "saying illogical things," Kitchen told the judge.

He then began pacing up and down the aisle, bumping into other passengers before saying he needed to smoke a cigarette and heading toward the cabin door, Kitchen said.

According to a criminal complaint, Pectol also told a flight attendant, "You're with the FBI and here to get me and you're a bad person."

Passengers helped flight attendants subdue Pectol until he could be placed in plastic handcuffs and his legs restrained with a seat belt used to demonstrate safety at the beginning of the flight. Pectol was "kicking, spitting at and attempting to head-butt" those subduing him, so the pilot diverted the flight to Pittsburgh International Airport for an emergency landing. Kitchen said.

The charge Pectol pleaded guilty to, interfering with a flight crew, is a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison.

Kitchen and public defender Thomas Livingston wouldn't say what sentence Pectol likely faces under federal sentencing guidelines, which take into account the seriousness of the defendant's crime and his criminal history.

Pectol and his attorney have not asked a judge to set bail, however, which suggests they expect a sentence of incarceration. That's because the time Pectol has been in jail since his arrest will be credited toward any prison term he receives when he returns for sentencing March 16.

Livingston told the judge that Pectol was hospitalized in Clarion County for two weeks after his arrest, then spent a couple of days in the county lockup before he was moved to the Ohio facility.

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Delta Air Lines Plans to Increase Stake in Aeromexico • Delta said it intends to acquire as much as an additional 32% stake in the Mexican airline

Delta Air Lines Inc. said it intends to acquire as much as an additional 32% stake in Grupo Aeromexico SA B at a 52% premium, in a deal that aims to strengthen the alliance between the carriers.

Delta intends to acquire the additional shares for 43.59 Mexican pesos ($2.60) each, while Grupo Aeromexico’s stock recently traded at MXN28.74, according to FactSet.

The Atlanta company currently has a 4.1% stake in Grupo Aeromexico and holds an option to acquire an additional 8.1% of the carrier. The Delta pension trust holds options to acquire 4.6% of the company.

After the transaction, Delta and Delta pension trust would own or have options to acquire as much as a 49% stake in Grupo Aeromexico.

Delta and other carriers pursue international partnerships because a web of bilateral air treaties limits their ability to fly on their own within foreign countries. The deals range from basic code-sharing pacts—where airlines list each other’s flights on their reservation systems—to full-scale joint ventures that have antitrust immunity, so the partners can jointly set prices and schedules and share revenue.

Delta has the largest international network among U.S. carriers measured by traffic.

In March of 2015, Delta and Grupo Aeromexico filed for antitrust immunity in an effort to compete on routes between the U.S. and Mexico via a planned $1.5 billion joint venture.

Approval by both countries would allow the carriers to align their networks and scheduling while sharing costs and revenue on flights between the U.S. and Mexico.

Delta and Aeromexico launched their first code-share arrangement more than 20 years ago and entered an enhanced commercial agreement in 2011.

In 2012, Delta invested $65 million in Grupo Aeromexico, the parent company of Aeromexico. The two together offer about 4,000 weekly code-share flights. 

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Terry, Mississippi: Resident indicted for aiming laser pointer at aircraft

A 20-year-old Terry man could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for pointing a laser at an aircraft.

Landon Albritton was charged in a federal indictment Wednesday, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis and Special Agent in Charge Donald Alway with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Mississippi.

Albritton is accused of knowingly aiming the beam of a laser at an aircraft or in its flight path, an act that the FBI stresses can distract pilots and endanger passengers.

Thomas Hannigan, information systems manager and facilities coordinator at the Mississippi State University department of aerospace engineering and a flight instructor, said that while someone pointing a laser at an aircraft might not be able to see the full stretch of light the laser is emitting, the concentrated beam of light can be distracting if not dangerous for pilots.

"It reflects into the cockpit," Hannigan said. "The brightness of the light can instantly render your night vision completely ineffective."

Hannigan said even a basic laser can have this effect and people should realize this based on common-sense cautions.

"There's a reason they say don't point the laser in someone's eye," Hannigan said.

U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate will hear the trial on Jan. 4.

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Landon Albritton, age 20, of Terry, Mississippi, has been charged in a federal indictment with knowingly aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft or its flight path in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States.

According to the indictment, the incident occurred on August 6, 2015. Albritton was arraigned Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda R. Anderson.

The case is scheduled for trial before U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate on January 4, 2016. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Reports of laser attacks have increased dramatically in recent years as powerful laser devices have become more affordable and widely available to the public.

Lasers can completely incapacitate pilots who are trying to fly safely to their destination, endangering crew members, passengers and people on the ground. If you have information about a lasing incident or see someone pointing a laser at an aircraft, call your local FBI field office or dial 911.

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Enid fire captain fired after laser pointed at airplane • Enid Woodring Regional Airport (KWDG), Garfield County, Oklahoma

ENID — A captain of the Enid Fire Department accused of pointing a laser into the cockpit of an airplane has been terminated.

An attorney for Capt. Denton Morgan, a 17-year veteran of the fire department, says he will appeal the decision. 

A UPS pilot reported Oct. 15 a green laser shining multiple times into his plane as he landed and took off from Enid Woodring Regional Airport, according to a police report. Morgan owns property adjacent to the airport and told investigating officers he was in his pasture medicating cattle with his dart gun, which has a green laser sight attached to it.

"There is no evidence that he pointed it," attorney Mark Hammons said. "They made him a scapegoat to cover an embarrassing situation."  

The Fire Civil Service Commission held a hearing Monday and voted unanimously to terminate Morgan.

Morgan testified at the hearing that the only people on his property at the time of the report were himself and his wife, and that both used the dart gun with the green laser.

He also told the panel neither he nor his wife intentionally pointed the laser at the plane, but the commission determined the laser couldn't have accidentally hit the cockpit as many times as it did, according to a commission report. 

The commission concluded Morgan violated the fire department's code of ethics by being dishonest about the incident on his property. 

Morgan's termination was effective immediately. He has been on administrative leave since the incident, Hammons said. 

"It is a terrible situation for him. It is a bad situation for the city of Enid, who's deprived of the services of a very loyal, longstanding employee of the fire department," he said.

The FBI investigated the pilot's report, according to an Enid city spokesman. No charges have been filed.

Woodring Regional Airport Manager Dan Ohnesorge said it's the first time he's had a pilot report a laser strike.

Pointing a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime punishable by five years in prison. There were nearly 3,900 reports of lasers pointed at aircraft in 2014; 27 reports came from Oklahoma, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. No injuries were reported.  

The beam of light from a laser can travel more than a mile and illuminate a cockpit, temporarily blinding the pilot, according to the FBI.


An Enid Fire Department fire captain has been placed on administrative leave as part of an investigation into a laser allegedly pointed at an airplane.

Fire Capt. Denton Morgan was placed on administrative leave Nov. 14 for the alleged incident that occurred previously, Enid Fire Chief Joe Jackson has confirmed. 

"He's on administrative leave, pending an investigation. Upon investigation, then we'll determine the facts and make the appropriate decision on if there's something there to act on or any discipline," Jackson said.

Enid Police Department provided a redacted report — which does not include names and addresses — on an incident allegedly involving someone shining a laser at incoming and outgoing aircraft on Oct. 15 at Enid Woodring Regional Airport. 

Someone at the airport reported to police "he was awaiting the nightly UPS flight when the pilot of the aircraft reported to the tower that someone was shining a green laser into the cockpit of the craft."

The plane reportedly landed and completed its delivery, according to the report.

"As (the plane) was taking off from the airport, the pilot again reported the laser being (shined) into the cockpit. The controller in the tower was able to see the laser this time and could tell that it was coming from a property just (northwest) of the airport," the report states.

According to the report, someone at the airport drove to the property, with the guidance of the controller, and "was going to talk to the subjects there about the incident."

The person reported when he got close to the residence, he saw someone crouched behind a shed, the report states. He asked if the person was pointing a laser and the person told him he was trespassing.

When officers went to the address and made contact with the resident, the man said "he did not know anything about pointing a laser at the planes," according to the report.

The man later laughed, when asked if he had been shining a laser, and said he had been medicating cattle with a dart gun in his pasture, the report states.

"The dart gun has a laser sight attached to it," according to the report.

The pasture is located northwest of the runway, the report states.

"It is unknown if (redacted) was directly targeting the aircraft or if it was inadvertent. The pilot of the UPS flight told the tower that the light was shining in the cockpit the entire time he was taking off until he reached a point beyond the northern edge of the airport," according to the report.

EPD has not arrested or charged anyone in the alleged incident.

A report was filed with the Federal Aviation Administration, the police report states.

FAA Mid-States Public Affairs Manager Lynn Lunsford said he did not immediately find record of a laser incident in Enid.

He said laser incidents are reported to local police. 

"If there was an arrest, the FBI and U.S. Attorney would be pursuing the legal aspects," Lunsford said.

A call made to a phone number listed for Morgan rang unanswered Wednesday morning. 

“Due to the pending investigation by the Enid Fire Department into this matter, it is not appropriate for me to comment at this time,” City Manager Jerald Gilbert said.

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ENID, Okla. - An Oklahoma firefighter is on paid administrative leave and under investigation as authorities look into an incident involving a laser pointer aimed at an airplane.

It was October 15th when a bright green laser was reportedly pointed at a plane as it landed and took off at the Enid Woodring Regional Airport.

Right now, the Enid Fire Department is trying to figure out if one of their own was involved.

"We consider him a valuable member of the department," said Fire Marshal Ken Helms.

The department has confirmed the firefighter’s identity to NewsChannel 4, but we are not releasing his name since he has not been arrested or charged with a crime.

According to a police report, the pilot said the “light was shining the entire time he was taking off until he reached a point beyond the northern edge of the airport.”

Police were led just north of Woodring.

It's where they allegedly found a couple of people, including the firefighter.

Officers said, on the property, was a dart gun with a laser on it.

One of the subjects claimed they were in the pasture “medicating cattle” with the gun.

The department said their firefighter was off duty at the time of the incident.

“Our procedure is, when we have allegations against our members, we do an investigation to determine if discipline is appropriate,” Helms said.

Stories like this have made national news.

In recent months, there have been numerous instances where people have pointed lasers at planes, which is a very serious crime.

“It isn't funny," said Dan Ohnesorge, the Woodring Airport Director. "It isn't fun for a pilot, and you're potentially causing a catastrophic accident."

He explained how laser lights affect a pilot.

"If you’re driving your car down I-35 at 70 miles an hour and, all of a sudden, you're blinded," Ohnesorge said. "It's kind of like that, although a little bit worse."

Those at the department are hoping their crew member is not the culprit who displayed bad judgement.

The fire department said its investigation could wrap up in a few days.

NewsChannel 4 got a hold of the firefighter's father Wednesday and told him to have his son call for comment.

At this time, we have not heard from him.

Story and video:

The air traffic control tower stands at Enid Woodring Regional Airport.