Saturday, December 05, 2015

Lockport, Niagara County, New York: Man charged after flying drone near chemical plant

LOCKPORT – A Lockport man was charged Friday with a trespassing violation after he allegedly flew a drone near the VanDeMark Chemical Co. plant in Lockport.

James A. Stivers, 62, of Mill Street, was confronted by police Monday on Mill Street, after a passing motorist reported seeing the remote-controlled aircraft airborne near the plant, which produces highly toxic phosgene gas.

According to a police report, Stivers admitted that he was flying the drone. However, he was not charged until Friday, and was given an appearance ticket for City Court.


Kuwait Airways pilot loses license after cockpit high jinks with porn star Chloe Mafia

Chloe Mafia, 24, said the married Kuwait Airways pilot sat her on his lap, begged to see her boobs and bragged that he romped with stewardesses.

She also claimed that he smoked two packs of cigarettes during the flight from London to New York, while the lives of hundreds of passengers were in his hands.

The X-factor reject, who was outed as a sex worker after appearing on the show in 2010, said she was "stunned" by the pilot's behavior.

But now the wayward pilot has had his licence revoked, according to Kuwait's al-Jarida daily newspaper, quoting the country's transportation minister.

The senior government figure, Essa Al Kindari, reportedly ordered the "immediate recall" of the captain from Bangkok after Daily Star Online broke the story.

As a result of the security breach, the co-pilot also received a demotion.

The rest of the crew were found to be unaware of the incident and not punished.

Mafia, whose real surname is Khan, took selfies in the cockpit and said the pilot sang The Lion King's Hakuna Matata and Toni Braxton's Un-break My Heart to her and a pal.

She said: “We were sitting in business class about 30 minutes after take-off.

“The seatbelt signs had just gone off and a stewardess came and said the pilot wanted us to go to the cockpit.

“They locked the door and the captain introduced himself and said ‘Hi, I’m the naughty pilot’.

“He said he lets sexy girls in the cockpit, even though he’s not supposed to, because he ‘made the rules’.

“The pilot told the stewardess to get us a bottle of champagne, which me and my friend drank.

“He started smoking, which I thought was odd, but he said he was the pilot and could do what he wanted.

“I asked if it was safe as I was worried and he just said people were ‘too fussy’ about safety. I was stunned.”

Mafia also agreed that the co-pilot hadn't gone as far as his colleague, who she branded "a total sleaze".

She said: "He was showing us what each of the buttons did and said we could sit on his knee and wear his pilot’s cap and fly the plane.

“I pushed something. I don’t know what it did but he said it was fine as the plane flew itself.

“He asked if we were in the Mile High Club and said that he was.

“He was boasting he’d slept with half the stewardesses, which we thought was funny as he wasn’t attractive.

“I wasn’t drinking much and when he asked why, I said I was recovering from a boob job. He asked if he could see them but they were bandaged up so I said no.”

Kuwait Airways was contacted for comment.

The pilot also reportedly invited Chloe Mafia's “glamorous friend” into the cockpit.

A Kuwait Airways pilot invited Chloe Mafia, an ex-porn star, into the cockpit.

Manama: Kuwait has revoked the license of a Kuwait Airways pilot who had invited a porn star and her “glamorous” friend into the cockpit.

The decision announced by Transportation Minister Eisa Al Kindari in a report to the parliament was taken following an investigation he ordered in July when news about the unprecedented security breach and ethical violation broke out.

The report, a copy of which was obtained by Kuwaiti daily Al Jareeda, said that the co-captain was demoted over his role in the case that shook Kuwaitis to the core. The plane crew was not aware of what was happening inside the cockpit and no punitive action was taken against any member, Al Jareeda said on Saturday.  

Al Kindari stressed the compliance of Kuwait Airways with the strict regulations adopted following the September 11 acts of terrorism.

The investigation team in its report spelled out several recommendations that included tougher measures related to the cockpit, including the revocation of the licence of any pilot who smokes inside it.

The team said it found no evidence the pilot or the co-pilot drank alcohol during the flight under investigation.

The “urgent investigation” was ordered by the minister “to check the reports and the pictures that have been circulated on this issue.”

“If the reports and pictures are proven true, we will take action against the people involved and we will announce the conclusions to the people of Kuwait,” Al Kindari said in July.

Al Kindari ordered the “immediate recall” of the Kuwaiti pilot allegedly involved in the case from the Thai capital Bangkok where he was when the case was published in the British media.

In a statement, Kuwait Airways said that it would carry out a “full investigation” into the report that one of its captains in 2013 invited a female passenger into the cockpit during a flight from London’s Heathrow to JFK airport in New York.

In its report, the Daily Star said that the pilot invited Chloe Mafia, an ex-porn star, and her “glamorous friend” into the cockpit, ordered them champagne and told them to sit on his knee.

Mafia, whose real name Chloe Khan, claimed the married pilot wanted to look at her body and boasted about intimate relations with stewardesses.

“We were sitting in business class about 30 minutes after take-off,” Chloe said, quoted by the daily. “The seatbelt signs had just gone off and a stewardess came and said the pilot wanted us to go to the cockpit. They locked the door and the captain introduced himself and said ‘Hi, I’m the naughty pilot’.

“He said he lets sexy girls in the cockpit, even though he is not supposed to, because he ‘made the rules’. The pilot told the stewardess to get us a bottle of champagne, which me and my friend drank.

“He started smoking, which I thought was odd, but he said he was the pilot and could do what he wanted. I asked if it was safe as I was worried and he just said people were ‘too fussy’ about safety. I was stunned,” she said.

According to the newspaper report, Chloe, 24, said the pilots did not drink any of the alcohol but the captain smoked 40 cigarettes throughout the journey.

For the next few hours he entertained the two women by singing songs including The Lion King’s Hakuna Matata and Toni Braxton’s Un-break My Heart.

He also asked them to sit on his knee as he flew the plane.

“He was showing us what each of the buttons did and said we could sit on his knee and wear his pilot’s cap and fly the plane. I pushed something. I don’t know what it did but he said it was fine as the plane flew itself,” Chloe was quoted as saying.

“He was boasting he’d slept with half the stewardesses, which we thought was funny as he wasn’t attractive. I wasn’t drinking much and when he asked why, I said I was recovering from a boob job. He asked if he could see them but they were bandaged up so I said no. He was a total sleaze. He was calling us sexy and asked us to call him naughty. You could tell he was getting off on it. The co-pilot didn’t smoke or really say that much – he made a couple of jokes but thankfully he seemed more concerned with flying the plane.”


Volunteer pilots discuss new plane

John Voss and John Rabine stand by the new plane operated by the Kings County Sheriff's Department.

If you’ve been seeing a small airplane flying over Kings County, there’s a good chance it’s the Sheriff’s Office’s new airplane.

The aircraft, made by German airplane manufacturer Flight Design, was purchased earlier this year for about $471,000, most of which is being paid from assets seized from criminals. Since the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t have personnel qualified to pilot the plane, they opted to start a volunteer pilot program.

That’s where former Marine aviator John Voss and retired Naval Air Station Lemoore Pilot John Rabine come in. As part of the program, they come out to fly the plane at least once a week and respond to any missions that the aircraft may be needed for.

“It’s an opportunity to give back to the community,” Rabine said. “I think the program is valuable not only for the county but also for the local municipalities. Also, it’s not bad to fly.”

Rabine was an F/A-18 Hornet pilot at the base for about 20 years before he recently retired. This new plane, however, is a far cry from that. It’s a light, small two-seater that only goes up to speeds of about 110.

“It’s a great little plane,” he said. “It’s really quiet. Some people have told us they thought we were a large drone.”

The plane is being housed in a hangar at the Hanford Municipal Airport off Hanford-Armona Road.

Voss has been flying for more than 20 years. He has his own personal plane, a Beechcraft Debonair, but also served as an aviator for the Marine Corps for about 12 years.

For the past 10 years, he has been working at Naval Air Station Lemoore, helping train personnel on the flight simulators. When he heard from the Sheriff’s Office that they were looking for volunteer pilots, he jumped at the chance.

“It’s been an awesome experience,” he said. “I enjoy the job and the mission.”

Voss said he’s wanted to be a pilot ever since he was a kid. He said his dad flew planes for the military as well and wanted to follow in his footsteps.

“I grew up loving airplanes,” he said. “I have an absolute love for flying.”

Voss said he likes the county’s new plane, despite its size. He believes it was a good investment for the county and a cheaper alternative to renting helicopters, which is what the Sheriff’s Office used to do. It was very cost-intensive, with the price going up to $500 an hour.

“The plane’s a low cost to operate,” he said. “If we really wanted to stay airborne, we could stay up to six or seven hours for major situations, although that’s not preferable. We would only have to deal with the cost of fuel.”

According to the Sheriff’s Office, fuel costs between $20,000 and $30,000 per year.

The plane might look small and unimpressive on the outside, but it houses some serious tech. The aircraft has infrared capabilities for tracking vehicles and people on the ground during pursuits and other situations.

It also had video and audio recording devices, a spotlight, various communication equipment and other features. It also has a built-in parachute in case of emergencies.

“It’s pretty high tech and very user-friendly,” Voss said. “The forward-looking infrared is my favorite feature.”

Typically when going on a mission, the plane will have one pilot and a tactical flight officer in the cockpit. The officer is responsible for using the equipment on board, such as the infrared, as the pilot has to focus on flying.

Voss said the team comes in around 6 p.m. and checks the weather to see if it’s good for flying. If so, they will take off, hover over the county and listen to radios from various law enforcement agencies for any calls that may require their assistance.

In some cases, a mission has already been determined and, in that case, the plane will go straight to the scene.

“We usually spend a couple hours airborne each time,” he said.

Voss and Rabine said the plane and the missions they have gone on so far have been successful. In one recent case, they responded to a suspicious person report at a dairy in the area of 15th and Flint avenues.

Using infrared, the aircraft was able to locate the suspect, after which he took off running and hid in another area of the dairy.

The aircraft was able to determine the suspect’s new location and provided the information to patrol units on the ground. After that, the suspect was found and arrested.

“We try to help officers on the ground as much as possible,” Voss said. “If the officers can go home because we found someone who could have possibly injured them is a huge win for me.”

Patrols don’t always go smoothly, however. Rabine said there was one incident in October in which someone pointed a laser at the aircraft, hitting the glass doors.

“It’s like being on the inside of a disco ball,” he said. “The light hits the glass windows and lights up the inside. It’s really blinding.”

Rabine said they were able to locate the culprit, identified as 45-year-old Michael Quair, who was arrested and booked into the Kings County Jail.  

Despite some hiccups, Voss and Rabine said they have enjoyed their experience with the program so far.

“Going out there and working with these people is great,” he said. “The Sheriff’s Office has been very supportive.”

“It’s just another way to serve my community in another capacity,” Rabine said. “This is a great program that really allows [the county] to control and utilize the asset when they need to. It’s a very good use of taxpayers’ money.”

Sheriff David Robinson said as pilots are paid about $28 an hour in this area, around the same amount as a deputy, having non-paid volunteer pilots is a big savings for the department.

"The only issue is that our pilots aren't around 40 hours a week like full-time pilots, but even at half-time, it's significant savings for us," he said. "They're not always available. We know they have their own lives, so we try to be flexible."

Robinson said the department may decide to add a paid pilot sometime down the road if needed. 

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Federal Aviation Administration Investigates Laser Holiday Light Display As Possible Hazard

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a Christmas light display in North Texas after an American Airlines crew reported being struck by a laser on Thursday night.

Investigators believe the laser originated from a “laser holiday light display.”

The FAA said this is the first time it is hearing about a holiday display causing problems in the sky.

A Dallas Police helicopter traced the beam back to a home 22 miles east of DFW Airport.

“It’s something that most people don’t think about when they’re putting up some kind of display or anything like that. They don’t realize that they might be causing a problem,” said Danny Kelly, an retired pilot.

Kelly said he is not surprised to hear what happened to the flight crews.

FAA investigators say a Boeing 737 was struck be a laser while flying at 13,000 feet.

“The intent is what’s important. Obviously these people did not intend for this to happen. If they had been told by the FAA to shut it off and they don’t then that might border on being violating a criminal law otherwise no it’s not,” said Kelly.

Expert urge consumers who buy laser light displays to make sure they are pointing them at their house and not the sky.

“I’d tell them to stop immediately because first of all they’re endangering people’s lives and second, they’re endangering people’s health and third, they themselves could end up in criminal prosecution,” said Kelly.

Kelly said the FAA will likely first ask for the homeowner to redirect or shut off the light display first. If that does not happen, it could either go to court or charges could be filed.

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Company breathing new life in to old airplane parts

BURNSVILLE, Minn – The folks at Aircraft Demolition have been scrapping out and recycling old airplane parts since 2008 in their Burnsville shop.

Just this year, owner Tim Zemanivic and his wife Erin have taken on a new concept -- the Aero Art Shop.

"My family and my crew think I'm kind of a hoarder in saving this stuff," Tim Zemanovic jokes.

The idea is furniture and artwork made from old airplane parts. Designer Ryan Hoskins has been with the company since earlier this year.

"When I started this job I had no idea what I was getting myself into," Hoskins says. "But now, when I'm driving home from work, you see a plane in the sky and think, 'huh, what could I make out of that?'"

The company scraps out old plane parts and have them shipped to their Burnsville shop where they fabricate furniture. The company and its designers have created tables, chairs, bars, clocks and dozens of pieces from old parts.

"This came right out of the engine," Zemanovic says as he shows off a clock made in the company showroom. "We built our own custom made clock.

To check out the company you can visit


Laredo, Texas, police learning drones

LAREDO, TEXAS (KGNS) - Police will soon be getting a birds' eye view of accident scenes and other investigations.

You may see drones being used at parks for recreation, but the equipment recently purchased by the police department is more sophisticated than the ones used by hobbyists.

"We go through very strict procedure for how to prepare the aircraft, how to fly the aircraft with precision", said Zac Mott.

Police officers have their eyes set on the sky as they coordinate the movement's of their latest tool.

This unmanned aircraft system is touted by the chief pilot of Leptron, Zac Mott as a dependable tool used by many law enforcement clients.

"It will go about 40 mph, it will fly in winds of about 20 mph, and it will fly for approximately 15 minutes based on environmental conditions", said Mott.

The Rdass model features include four-rotors and an HD camera that feeds live video to the screen below.

Officers are relying on its capabilities to help give them a better handle of their investigations.

"On standoff situation, on hostage situations, where our presence is needed and we are already on the scene and need to get a better perspective of what's going on, definitely we will be deploying this system to better help our officers and keep them away if necessary".

They're planning on using it for traffic accident reconstructions and other tactical operations. But it will require some teamwork.

"At all times, when we deploy the unit, there will be a minimum of three people flying it, the unit leader, an observer, and the actual pilot.

The police department hopes it will keep them better informed and safe as they continue their mission to protect and serve.

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Man accused of posing as Federal Air Marshal held on weapons charges

Mark Vicars 
Vicars flashed a fake shield identifying himself as a Federal Air Marshal, officials said.

SYOSSET, N.Y. (WABC) -- A Syosset man is under arrest and facing charges after Nassau County police officers pulling him over for a traffic stop found a cache of weapons, body armor and a fake air marshal ID card.

Authorities say 49-year-old Mark Vicars was found to be in possession of a loaded .380 pistol, a knife, a loaded assault rifle, a ballistic body armor vest and a tactical vest containing three high-capacity magazines.

And at his home, in a gated community called Hidden Ridge, investigators found even more weapons and ammunition, including a Smith & Wesson .357-caliber handgun, a Sprinfield .45-caliber handgun, a Sig Sauer P229 .40-caliber handgun, a Glock 19 9-millimeter handgun, a Glock 26 9-millimeter handgun and approximately 8,300 rounds of assorted ammunition.

The weapons aren't legal, police say, and neither are flashing lights on his Dodge Durango that he activated when police pulled him over on Jericho Turnpike. They say they were acting on a tip and working with the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the TSA.

"Defendant Vicars then produced a fraudulent shield and identification credentials identifying himself as a federal air marshal," Nassau County police Lieutenant Richard Lebrun said.

Vicars is actually an unemployed personal trainer, according to prosecutors at his arraignment. What police don't yet know is why he was carrying the fraudulent ID.

"And we want to know if anybody else has had any negative interaction with him," Lebrun said. "He has no permit for these handguns."

Area residents were shocked at the news and want to know why their neighbor was in possession of such an arsenal of weapons.

At a news conference Friday, federal officials said there was no threat of terrorism and that the case is being handled by the Nassau County Police Department.

Vicars is facing various weapons possession charges, as well as criminal possession of forged instrument.

The investigation is ongoing.

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Manchester Airshow called off next year following fatal crash at Shoreham Airshow: Hawker Hunter T.Mk 7, Canfield Hunter Ltd., G-BXFI

The organizers, which hosted their first event for over 20 years back in July, took the decision to call next years event off after a review of national safety procedures
Next year's Manchester Airshow has been called off by its organizers after a tragic plane crash at another display last summer.

The Manchester Airshow, held at City Airport, Manchester in Barton, Salford , was the first event for 20 years, and thousands flocked to see daredevil pilots and displays.

However, the event is now being called off in 2016 following a tragic crash at Shoreham Airshow in South England. The incident left 11 people dead and 16 injured, including the pilot who survived but was placed in a medically induced coma, and has led to a review of airshow regulations by the Civil Aviation Authority.

It happened when a display aircraft, a Hawker Hunter T7, crashed mid-display into a road bordering the airfield, hitting several cars and pedestrians. Restrictions were put in place in the immediate aftermath, which included a ban on vintage jets performing acrobatic displays.

Manchester Airshow said in a statement that they received a 'phenomenal response' from the Airshow, which was held on July 5.

The organizers explained that their opinion is that the venue is suitable, but safety is the primary concern, and they're waiting to see what impact any regulation changes could have on future displays.

Manchester Airshow will review any changes to the way airshows are managed, and look at holding one at a later date.

They said: "We would like to thank everyone that attended the 2015 Manchester Airshow. We received a phenomenal response from the event.

"Following the tragic accident at Shoreham Airshow in 2015, the Civil Aviation Authority are currently conducting a full review of Airshow regulations. Whilst the organizers of the Manchester Airshow believe that our venue remains suitable for an Airshow Event, safety is out utmost priority, and the potential outcomes of this review may impact upon the feasibility of organizing future airshows at City Airport.

"The team will review any new regulations that are introduced, and once these are understood, a decision will be made as to the possibility of bringing a return of the Manchester Airshow to the skies above City Airport at a later date. Due to the timing of the review, it is with regret that we will be unable to host a full Manchester Airshow in 2016.

"We would like to thank all our supporters of the Airshow."

In the wake of the crash, Blackley and Broughton MP Graham Stringer called for a “serious look at the regulations” of airshows.

A former chairman of Manchester Airport and ex-member of the Commons Transport Committee, the MP said: “I think when an event like this kills 11 people - and it’s not the first time there have been fatalities at an airshow - there should be a serious look at the regulations with a view to tightening them up.”

2015's Manchester Airshow show was attended by a capacity crowd of 15,000, who were treated to more than three hours of acrobatic displays from a wide variety of military and civilian aircraft.

A Chinook helicopter performed loops in the sky before flying over the heads of those assembled below, whilst an appearance from the two iconic World War II planes, the Hurricane and Spitfire from the Battle of Britain memorial flight, also got a great reception.

As well as the planes, there were an array of super-cars on display with organisations such as the Army, RAF and Royal British Legion setting up stalls.

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AAIB Special Bulletin on Hawker Hunter T7, G-BXFI:

Terre Haute International Airport (KHUF) considering name change to boost business

Flight instructor Ethan Malivolti and student Lexus Bildland perform preflight checks and maintenance before a session Tuesday afternoon at Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field.

Terre Haute airport officials are hoping to “power up” business at Hulman Field through a rebranding effort that will include a name change.

“We want to rebrand the airport to coincide with an updated strategic plan in trying to develop more business at the airport and openness for general aviation,” said Abby Desboro, director of marketing and public relations at the airport.

A new airport name would not changed the Federal Aviation Administration’s flight designation of HUF or Hulman Airfield, Desboro said.

Four new names — Terre Haute Regional Airport; Terre Haute Regional Airport and AeroTech Park; Indy West Regional Airport; and Wabash Valley Aeroplex — are being considered. Noticeably gone from these options is the “international” part of the present moniker.

For about a month, the airport has been using digital surveys seeking input on a possible airport name change. Telephone surveys have also been conducted with city, county and economic development officials as well as some businesses. An online survey through SurveyMonkey now appears on the airport’s Facebook page.

The survey asks 23 questions about the airport naming options, with the 23rd question asking for the survey taker’s name, email and phone number, for that person to be eligible to win a $100 Visa gift card.

While the airport houses several businesses, Desboro said officials hope to attract more business and jobs. Businesses already located at the airport include Turbines Inc.; IU Health Lifeline; Stark Industries; Indiana State University Flight Academy; ICTT System Sciences; Tri Aerospace LLC; and S&T Fulfillment.

In addition, the airport’s buildings are currently filled.

“We are all rented. Hoosier Aviation has the former Hulman hangar filled with planes, all the T-hangers are full, and others are full. We are doing good for rental,” Desboro said.

The name change, she said, would allow for a clearer marketing plan.

“When people see the word ‘international’ in the [airport’s] name, the first question is why, then where do planes land from,” Desboro said.

The airport was originally named Hulman Field, after Anton Hulman Jr., a Terre Haute businessman and owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He donated about 638 acres to the city of Terre Haute for an airport in 1943. In 1976, the city and Vigo County jointly formed an authority to manage the airport.

The airport’s named was changed in 1981 to Hulman Regional Airport, and another change in 1998 gave it its current designation.

Additionally in 1998, airport officials applied for a foreign trade zone (FTZ) status, which was approved by the U.S. customs service in 1999. The international status was sought in an effort to attract new air cargo companies to the airport.

The airport had a history of air cargo operations, such as Evergreen Express from 1987 to 1989; Roadway Global Air from 1993 to 1995; Daylight Air from 1996 to 1997; and American International Freight from 1997 to 1999. 

However, the air cargo industry had faded by 2000, and the “international” portion of the airport’s name seemed to lose its meaning.

The airport’s FTZ status was lost in 2006 because the zone was never activated. In 2008, the airport became part of INzone, which is the FTZ at the Indianapolis International Airport. That current designation allows for pre-arranged international flights to land in Terre Haute, with a U.S. customs agent coming from Indianapolis. However, such flights are rare.

Some local officials agree that an airport name change is in order.

“I understand them moving away from the international designation, and we need to be reflective of what we are doing today,” said Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, who participated in a telephone survey from the airport about a month ago.

“I like to have the Terre Haute name in it because that is what we are and that is the designation that is really critical to all of us,” the mayor said. “We know that Terre Haute is part of Vigo County, but people know more about Terre Haute than Vigo County or even the Wabash Valley, so I think we need to stay focused on Terre Haute.”

Vigo County Commissioner Brad Anderson, who is the board of commissioner’s representative for the airport, said Tuesday he had not been contacted about the survey and did not yet have an opinion. Anderson said he did receive telephone calls from the airport, but that he had been ill during the past week and had not returned phone messages.

“A name change is probably in order,” said Steve Witt, president of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp., who said he, too, had participated in an airport phone survey.

“We have a tremendous jewel in our airport, and I think [Executive Director] Jeff Hauser and the airport staff are working hard to rebrand the facility to make it more attractive for business opportunities,” Witt said. 

“From my perspective, the airport business is very competitive, everything from users of the facility to simply selling fuel, so anything that the airport can do to bring more traffic would be great for the airport and the community, as a whole. We consider the airport to be an economic development partner.”

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Modesto takes up police plan for crime-fighting plane

A light sport aircraft owned by the Tulare County Sheriff's Department. The Modesto Police Department is interested in buying one of its own as its latest crime fighting tool. The aircraft has a high-definition camera with night vision capabilities and a spotlight. Tulare County Sheriff's Department.

Police officials will make their pitch Wednesday for why they need to purchase a crime-fighting airplane at the Modesto City Council’s newest committee — the Safer Neighborhoods Community Advisory Board.

The public is invited.

The council decided last month not to vote on whether to purchase the aircraft and sent the proposal to two of its committees for public discussion before bringing it back to the council. Major proposals typically are vetted by one of the council’s committees before coming to the council. This was not done in this case.

There was also the question of the proposal’s timing. The Police Department brought this forth after the voters rejected Measure G, a half-percent general sales tax increase in the Nov. 3 election. Modesto had placed the measure on the ballot saying that it did have enough revenue to provide the level of public safety services needed to make Modesto safer.

City Manager Jim Holgersson has said this proposal also will be vetted by the council’s Safety and Communities Committee.

The Police Department wants to spend as much as $660,000 for a light sport aircraft that seats two and is equipped with a spotlight and high-definition camera with long-range scope and night vision that records what it sees. A November city report states it would cost $84,500 to operate annually.

Police Chief Galen Carroll has said the aircraft would be flown by volunteer pilots and police officers who are pilots. He envisions the airplane being in the sky five to six hours a day, five days a week, patrolling the city, conducting traffic enforcement, and helping with crimes in progress and special operations.

“I see this as being a force multiplier,” Carroll said last month. The department’s staffing is at its lowest level in many years, with 219 officers allocated in the current budget year.

The Police Department wants to purchase a Flight Design CTLEi aircraft from Airtime Aviation in Tulsa, Okla. Officials have said the plane costs $202,030 and the camera costs $332,029. The remaining costs include a computer, police radio, training and installation.

The city report states the city would pay for the aircraft and its high-tech gear with $194,000 in state asset forfeiture funds; $166,00 from its traffic safety fund; $100,000 in the Supplemental Law Enforcement Services Funds it receives from the state; and $200,000 from the general fund. The report states the $200,000 is from a refund and pending refund from money the city provided the Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency.

The asset forfeiture, traffic safety and supplemental funds cannot be used to hire employees.

Carroll has said his department is pursuing this because it is significantly cheaper than paying the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department to have its helicopter patrol Modesto 25 to 30 hours a week. The helicopter costs $650 an hour to operate versus $65 for the Flight Design aircraft.

The advisory board meets at 5:30 p.m. in room 2001 on the second floor of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.


Fort Wayne International Airport (KFWA) tackles winter’s worst

About 2,000 people count on Fort Wayne International Airport to maintain operations no matter what the season, but those operations can be particularly difficult during the winter months. With 3 runways, each 150 feet wide and totaling up to nearly 4.5 miles in length, to maintain at FWA, it takes a crew that’s ready for “all hands-on-deck” at a moments notice.

During a snow event, the crew typically begins operations when just a quarter to a half an inch of snow accumulates on the pavement. They’ll measure the friction on the runway to determine what equipment they’ll use to treat the surface. Whether it’s snow or ice, MB5 is a go-to machine; it plows and sweeps. Fort Wayne International Airport has two of these $600,000 rigs. They’re expensive to run and maintain but the crews praise them for their efficiency and say they’ve revolutionized the way the airport tackles winter. Coming in at 50 feet long and carrying 24-foot-wide snow plows, these machines were built to take on winters’ worst. The crew says that visibility is the key for all maintenance operations, so it’s crucial that rigs like the MB5 and others have heated windshields and heated windshield wipers to prevent snow and ice from accumulating on the windshield.

The maintenance crew use more than just the MB5 to treat the runways, taxiways, and other roads at the airport. Sometimes, over 20 different pieces of equipment are being used at the same time. Each of these machines has enough fuel capacity to run for 12 hours without running out of fuel. Oftentimes, many machines will run for days at a time without ever being shut off.

Freezing rain and ice accumulation on surfaces are one of the most difficult things to tackle during the wintertime at FWA because it can happen quickly and is difficult to remove. But, unlike normal roads, maintenance staff at FWA cannot use salt to treat the runways. The FAA has forbidden salt at airports because it is very corrosive to jet engines. Instead, the airport possesses a liquid de-icer application truck, which sprays potassium acetate on the runway. According to Dave Falk, Head Mechanic, this truck is critical to winter operations at the airport:

It’s a product and a vehicle that must be ready at all times because we can go from good braking readings on the runway surface to absolute nil – plane diversions – inside of 5 minutes. I’ve seen it happen.
De-icing the aircraft is also important during the winter time. Currently, the airport has that operation subcontracted out to a third party. But in the future, that will become the responsibility of the airport, as well.

According to operations staff, if you’ve been delayed at FWA during the winter season, chances are that it wasn’t a problem with the runway here. Most of the delays and cancellations we see here in Fort Wayne come out of other major hubs like Chicago O’Hare or Detroit.

As we soar into winter, don’t forget about the countless hours of hard work that go into keeping the skies and runways open at Fort Wayne International Airport!

Story and video:

No more flights to Skerries

An Islander aircraft operated by Directflight for Shetland Islands Council touches down on Scotland's shortest runway. 

The remote Shetland community of Skerries has just been left even more isolated after air operator Directflight removed the island from its winter timetable.

As of last Thursday there will be no flights in or out of the small archipelago off Shetland’s east coast, as the islanders are unable to guarantee fire cover.

The crisis has been caused by Skerries losing its main employer, forcing several fire crew volunteers off the island to find work.

The biggest immediate impact will be the local doctor being unable to reach the island from neighboring Whalsay.

Shetland Islands Council has been negotiating with NHS Shetland to find ways around this issue to allow a GP to visit without having to stay on the island for an entire day, as would be dictated by the current ferry timetable.

Skerries has been on a downward slide after losing its permanent fire crew three years ago due to training issues.

Until recently the island has managed to maintain a population of more than 70 people, but that has now declined to around 40 people living there full time.

Two years ago Shetland Islands Council voted to close the island’s tiny secondary school, but the biggest blow came this year when the local salmon farm ceased operating forcing people off Skerries to seek employment.

Former fire watch officer Alice Arthur said: “We used to have a good fire crew and then the school went and then the salmon went and then the families went and so now there’s hardly anybody here.

“Skerries has gone down this past year at a terrible rate and this is another nail in the coffin.

“I think there’s a possibility we can turn this around but we can’t afford to lose any more folk.”

While Skerries has managed to retain five volunteers to serve as a fire and rescue crew for the airport, it is unable to guarantee at least two of them will be available to meet every flight.

For the past six months Direct Flight has maintained a skeleton service of two flights per week on the basis that the situation would improve, but that has now been abandoned.

SIC transport manager Michael Craigie said he was “entirely satisfied” Directflight had done all they could to maintain a Skerries service for as long as they could.

But he said it was no longer possible to keep the service going due to the risks attached to flying in and out of Scotland’s shortest runway, with the sea, cliffs and hills at either end.

Islanders see the answer to their current woes coming with the council basing the Skerries ferry on the island, instead of Whalsay, providing the employment they need to sustain a population.

“Having a ferry based on the Skerries would certainly change the dynamic on the island significantly,” Craigie admitted.

The council is currently drawing up a long term plan to look at ways of achieving this, but their options are limited by the existing ferry Filla, which is deemed too large to safely berth in Skerries small harbor.

Meanwhile, Craigie said, the air service could be reinstated immediately as soon as Skerries is able to guarantee a fire crew that could meet even one plane a week. 

The SIC is currently consulting with community councils on the future of its entire inter island transport network to prepare it for detailed negotiations with the Scottish government on ferries, flights and fixed links.


NOSTALGIA: Pilots parachute back to earth after collision

In March 1968 two Royal Air Force jets collided over Guiting Power, both pilots ejected to safety.

The quiet peace of the Cotswolds was shattered when two jet aircraft collided over the village of Guiting Power, the Wilts and Glos Standard reported in March 1968.

Two Royal Air Force pilots flying the jet Provost aircraft from the Central Flying School, Little Rissington, ejected to safety.

Four aircraft had been flying in close formation on a training exercise when it is believed two wingtips touched, causing one of the planes to crash less than a quarter of a mile from the village.

“At exactly 8:20 am on Monday morning, the quiet peace of the Cotswolds was shattered by an explosion after one of the jets had plummeted to earth,” the report stated.

The two occupants of the crashed jet, Flt-Lt. Derek Smith (30) and a student instructor Flying Officer John Pye (29) immediately ejected from their cockpit and parachuted to safety landing in nearby fields.

The aircraft had been flying at up to 10,000 ft when the accident occurred and an Royal Air Force spokesman said it was thought that people in the village of Guiting may find parts of the aircraft structure.
The Standard wrote: “He appealed for them to hand in any parts found to the police.”

A Board of Inquiry was set up to investigate.


Horizon Air/ Alaska Airlines, de Havilland Dash 8-400, N419QX: Incident occurred December 02, 2015 at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (KSTS), Santa Rosa, California

An Alaska Airlines plane arriving from Seattle struck and killed a deer on a runway at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport near Santa Rosa Wednesday evening, airport Manager Jon Stout said Friday.

The plane had not yet touched ground and was only a few hundred feet along the 6,200-foot runway when it clipped the deer just before 6 p.m., Stout said.

The impact from the deer’s antlers punctured one of the plane’s tires, and both tires were replaced, Stout said.

The pilot was not sure he hit the deer, and none of the passengers were aware of the deer strike. 

The plane was about 60-70 percent full, Stout said.

The deer died soon after it and its antlers were found on the runway, Stout said.

The plane was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles and return to Santa Rosa at 10 p.m. It was inspected and flew to Los Angeles the next morning, Stout said.

The incident shut the airport down for about 20 minutes, Stout said.

Two other Alaska Airlines planes arrived without incident at 6:40 p.m. and 6:50 p.m. Wednesday. 

Some of the passengers who were on board the plane that hit the deer were rerouted to Seattle to fly to Los Angeles, Stout said.

Another inbound and an outbound flight at the Santa Rosa airport were cancelled Wednesday night, Stout said.

The airport is located on Airport Boulevard north of Santa Rosa and south of Windsor.

Deer are occasionally seen along a creek in the area, Stout said.

“It’s the first deer strike I’m aware of in the 13 1/2 years I’ve been here,” Stout said.

The airport has a wildlife management plan, but it is not 100 percent effective, Stout said.

The Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS) offers non-stop flights to Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and San Diego, and will fly to Orange County starting in March 2016.



GainJet Aviation S.A: New aviation company for Shannon

Shannon got a further boost this week with the announcement that a leading worldwide private aircraft charter operator is establishing a base there.

Athens-based GainJet Aviation has begun the process of establishing its new Irish operation within Shannon Group’s International Aviation Services Center (IASC).

The company said it choose Shannon over other European locations because “similar to Athens, it is a European base that is strategically located and connects continents. Moreover, Shannon has become a major aviation hub for leasing companies and for Atlantic crossing traffic”.

GainJet Ireland will base three aircraft at the mid-west airport including a medevac/air ambulance and expects to begin operations early next year.

IASC Managing Director Mr. Patrick Edmond said: “Shannon is putting a particular focus on the area of business and corporate aviation, and a commitment such as this by a leading player such as GainJet is a vote of confidence in the aviation ecosystem developed here over decades and reaffirms Shannon’s attractiveness for aerospace and aviation related activity.”

The International Aviation Services Center, IASC, is the business unit within Shannon Group plc tasked with building on the established aviation cluster at Shannon.

IASC helps existing aerospace firms develop their business, as well as working alongside IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland to bring new companies to Shannon.