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