Saturday, January 9, 2016

Avid Mark IV, N72MT: Accident occurred January 09, 2016 near Florida Flying Gators Ultralight Airpark (3FD4), Minneola, Lake County, Florida

Robert E. Salzmann:

NTSB Identification: ERA16LA086 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, January 09, 2016 in Minneola, FL
Aircraft: WAYLAND JOHN H AVID MARK IV, registration: N72MT
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 January 9, 2016, about 1600 eastern standard time, an experimental amateur-built Avid Mark IV, N72MT, was substantially damaged following a forced landing after takeoff from Florida Flying Gators Ultralight Flightpark (3FD4), Minneola, Florida. The sport pilot was seriously injured. The airplane was owned and operated by a private individual under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The local flight was originating at the time of the accident.

The pilot reported that, after takeoff, he turned onto the crosswind leg of the traffic pattern. At 300 feet above the ground, and while climbing, the engine "sputtered then died." He made a radio call that he was returning to the runway. The airplane "stalled and entered a spin attitude." The airplane impacted a grassy area and came to rest inverted.

An inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration responded to the accident site and examined the wreckage. Structural damage to fuselage, empennage, and both wings was noted.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Orlando FSDO-15

MINNEOLA -- An experimental aircraft went down in the Minneola area on Saturday.

Lt. John Herrell, Lake County sheriff’s spokesman, said the pilot taken off from the Gator Airfield in Groveland and was doing touch-and-go’s when the engine began to smoke.

The aircraft crashed in the 9400 block of Libby Road Number 3 in the Minneola area about 4 p.m. and left the pilot with serious injuries.

Alan Resnick, a spokesman with the Flying Gators, identified the pilot as Robert Salzmann of Groveland and said about 7:45 p.m. Saturday that the he was in the trauma unit.

“We hope he will be OK,” Resnick said.

According to officials with Lake County Fire-Rescue, the experimental aircraft dropped about 500 feet from the sky onto the ground. Firefighters from Groveland and Clermont also responded. The pilot was flown to Orlando Regional Medical Center.

A spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration said the crash of the Avid Mark IV plane is under investigation.


LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — A small plane crashed in a field near Minneola Saturday afternoon shortly after takeoff, Lake County Fire Rescue said.

The experimental aircraft crashed in a field off Libby No. 3 Rd. at about 4:15 p.m. not far from the Florida Flying Gators Ultralight Airport from which it took off, said LCFR Capt. Clint Lowery.

The pilot was practicing touch-and-go landings when the experimental aircraft engine began to smoke and the plane dropped 500 feet from the sky, Lowery said.

Lowery said the pilot had multiple injuries and was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center in stable condition.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.


LAKE COUNTY --  An experimental aircraft pilot appears to have escaped serious injury Saturday in a crash in Groveland.

According to the Lake County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded to Gator Air Field in Groveland around 4 p.m. after receiving a report of a plane crash. 

The single occupant, single-engine experimental plane reportedly dropped from approximately 500 feet in the sky, officials said.

The pilot was conducting touch-and-go’s when the engine area of the plane began to smoke, said John Herrell, the Lake County Sheriff's Office spokesman.

The still-unnamed pilot was flown to Orlando Regional Medical Center with what appeared to be non-life-threatening injuries. 

An investigation is being conducted by FAA.


One man was injured when an experimental aircraft fell from an altitude of about 500 feet in Groveland Saturday afternoon, authorities said.

The pilot, who was the only person in the single-engine experimental plane, was taken to a hospital with serious injuries, according to Lake County Fire Rescue officials.

The pilot was at Gator Air Field about 4 p.m. doing touch-and-goes, an exercise in which pilots take off, land and take off again without stopping, said Lt. John Herrell, a Lake County sheriff's spokesman.

Suddenly, smoke started coming out of the engine and the plane crashed, Herrell said.

The pilot was taken to Orlando Regional Medical in Orlando with injuries that were serious, but not life threatening.


City looks to expand Turlock Municipal Airport (O15) runway

A runway widening project at the Turlock Municipal Airport will be under consideration by the Turlock City Council on Tuesday, the first council meeting of 2016.

The runway at the City-owned airport, which is located approximately 9 miles east of the city along East Avenue at Newport Road, does not currently meet the Federal Aviation Administration's design standards of 60 feet in width, falling short by 10 feet.

The City Council will consider the submission of an application for General Aviation entitlement funds to help pay for needed improvements to begin the widening project, which include grading and drainage to the runway safety area, relocation of the wind indicator and various infrastructure improvements.

The total project is expected to cost $666,667. The federal grant requested would be $600,000, and the City would be required to contribute 10 percent in matching funds ($66,667).

The Turlock Municipal Airport has been in operation since the 1940s. From 1942 to 1945 it was an Army Air Training Base in conjunction with the Castle Air Force Base where the student pilots were housed. In July 1947, the airport property was deeded to the City of Turlock.

No commercial airlines fly out of the Turlock airport, which is mainly used by private pilots and air ambulance service companies.

The airport is also the site of the popular Young Eagles event each year, providing free flights to children between the ages of 7 and 17. The Turlock Regional Aviation Association, which operates the airport, in conjunction with the City’s Parks and Recreation Department have sponsored three events, which are usually in the fall, and to date have provided the experience of flight to over 500 children from the surrounding area.

Also on Tuesday, the Council is expected to:

Make a number of appointments, from Vice Mayor to Parks, Arts and Recreation Commissioners and Turlock representatives to The Alliance, Stanislaus Council of Governments, Turlock Mosquito Abatement District and the Turlock Public Library Partnership.Consider a final reading on the Turlock Municipal Code Amendments prohibiting cultivation of cannabis for all purposes and banning business licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Turlock City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Yosemite Room at City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.


More private pilots heading to Bozeman, Gallatin County, Montana


Bozeman has become an increasingly popular destination which is seen by the large number of tourists consistently flooding in.

“I've owned this place since 1979,” said Arlin Wass, owner of Arlin's Aircraft Service.

Arlin has been running Arlin's Aircraft Service for around 37 years and he is doing something right because over the years the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is not the only airport seeing an increase in passengers.

“It's a lot more traffic coming in over the last few years. We've had more jets, mainly I believe, because of Big Sky, Yellowstone Club, and all the tourists and everything else that's found Montana,” said Wass.  

Bozeman has seen an increase of around 70 private flights this past year.

“We have got more flights than any other town in the state of Montana. We are ahead of Billings at this time,” said Wass.

Arlin's is primarily a Cessna single engine authorized repair station. However, they work on jets of all sizes, including planes from the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport.

“A lot of people come in because we've got enough parts on hand to turn a person and get them out of here in a hurry,” explained Wass.

Arlin says he hopes to continue in this new year by providing the same great customer service on the planes that he loves.

“Just keep the business we got right now. It's been busy and I believe it's going to be busier this coming year,” said Wass.

Arlin’s Aircraft Service is located next to the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airfield. 

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Oregon standoff: Federal Bureau of Investigation stages at Burns Municipal Airport (KBNO)

BURNS — The FBI has staged at the Burns Municipal Airport, blocking entrance to a U.S. Bureau of Land Management base there used to fight fires during the summer.

Men in FBI gear were posted Saturday in a sport utility vehicle along Airport Road about five miles east of the city, keeping cars and trucks from entering a BLM "SEAT Base" where another large vehicle sat equipped with FBI signage, numerous antennae, a satellite dish and other gear.

The men declined to answer questions or identify themselves and asked a reporter not to enter the SEAT Base on foot. SEAT stands for "single engine air tanker," a small agricultural airplane used to drop fire retardant on wildfires. Law enforcement officials have been posted there for days.

The FBI's presence was another reminder of the armed occupation more than 30 miles away at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which entered its eighth day Saturday. A group of militants led by Arizona businessman Ammon Bundy and joined Friday by an armed group of self-styled patriots from Idaho has commandeered the bird sanctuary to protest the federal government's ownership of public land in Harney County.

Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, has refused to leave the refuge despite public entreaties by residents and Sheriff Dave Ward's offer to peacefully escort the militants out of town. On Saturday, about two dozen new arrivals showed up with rifles and bulletproof vests.

Jeff Cotton, manager at the city-owned airport, said the BLM operates the SEAT Base as a separate entity. The Burns Municipal Airport remains open, he said. Cotton confirmed that the FBI was staged at the SEAT Base but said he didn't know what officials were doing there.

There was no sign of federal law enforcement at the BLM's Burns headquarters in nearby Hines. For the militants, the BLM is one of the main symbols of what they see as the federal government's overreach.

About six or seven planes are in hangars at the airport, Cotton said, with about six more stationed outside. There's no air traffic control tower, he said – pilots simply announce when they're coming to the airport.

"None of your smaller (general aviation) airports in eastern Oregon are towered," Cotton said.

When planes land, he said, "everybody's on (the same) channel and everybody knows where everybody's at."

The airport was a military air base in the 1940s, Cotton said, adding that he believes the city acquired it in the 1950s.

"We're a small airport," Cotton said. "The more, the merrier."

Mostly everything at the airport, Cotton said, was made possible by federal grant money.

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Explorers Post 747 Is Soaring: High School Student Pilots Graduating At Double the National Average

• Moises and his instructor, Ted Rip, proudly posing with his new pilot’s license.

Moises Robles on the airfield. 

Explorers Post 747 has the distinction of graduating private pilots at a rate that’s twice the national average. That alone is hardly a track record to sneeze at, but the really amazing thing is that they’re all high school students.

Based out of Whiteman Airport in Pacoima, Post 747 was founded 13 years ago by aviation enthusiast Ruth Logan. In 2002 the longtime pilot was approached with the intriguing idea of starting a local aviation chapter of the Explorers, a career-based program originally affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America.

For Logan, the Post would become a labor of love, one more way to open the skies to the next generation­ of pilots––including those who might otherwise have never been afforded such an opportunity. The concept blended well with her longstanding commitment to the Young Eagles Program, a once-a-month event that is held at Whiteman Airport. Sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Young Eagles introduces young people to the thrill of flight. Free rides are offered to youngsters ages 8-17. With such notable past presidents as Harrison Ford, the EAA program is supported by generous donations and a national squadron of volunteers. Over the years Logan has flown more than 300 kids.

Among those is former Explorer Jesse Galeas. The son of a day laborer, he rode his bike to the airport, scrubbed floors, traded odd jobs for lessons, and also earned his pilot’s license.

The most recent Explorer to pass his check ride is 17-year-old Moises Robles, an A-student at SCVI Charter School in Santa Clarita. When Moises was 10 years old, his parents brought him out to Whiteman Airport for Young Eagles Day. One loop around Magic Mountain, seeing the world from a whole new angle, and he was hooked. Icing on the cake was being allowed to take the controls and fly over Santa Clarita. “At the time I couldn’t reach the pedals,” he laughs. “Now I have to put the seat all the way back to have enough room.”

Moises is now six-foot, three. He adds that in the 9th grade he did a report on the history of aviation from WWII to the Cold War, including a section on Manfred von Richthofen, the notorious Red Baron. It fanned the still burning embers of his wanting to fly.

“His stories inspired me to pursue aviation,” he said. “Baron von Richthofen was looking for adventure in flying. He would always go into battle knowing that he would not come back. A few days before Germany surrendered, he was shot down by ground fire. He said his final words and died right there on the ground––after landing the plane.”

Midway through 2014, a friend happened to mention her involvement with Explorers Post 747 and invited Moises to a meeting. It was a match made in heaven. Active from the very beginning, he dove into ground school and soloed at just 12 hours.

On a spectacular fall day in 2015, with 45 hours in his logbook––40 is the minimum required by the FAA, and the average is closer to 60 hours––Moises flew a Cessna 150 to Fox Field, an airstrip in Lancaster, to take his check ride. Clear blue sky stretched as far as the eye could see. Not a wisp of cloud or a ripple of wind. A perfect day for flying. Family and friends who had come out to the airport had taken up four tables in the coffee shop. They waited, and waited. An extensive oral exam was followed by time on the ground with more questions about the plane. After an hour, Moises and the examiner were airborne, shrinking to a tiny speck in the sky before disappearing altogether. Ninety minutes later they landed and returned to the hangar to finish up the exam. His flight instructor, Ted Ripp, also at Fox Field that day, paced. Six hours had gone by before Moises emerged with a grin and a thumbs up. He’d earned his wings.

His parents’ eyes glistened. His sisters bounced along beside him. His 84-year-old grandfather, visiting from Mexico, was proud beyond words. When Moises flew home from Fox Field back to Whiteman, his grandfather––who had never before flown in a small plane––had the honor of being his first passenger.

“My family is a big supporter of me,” Moises said. “Whatever I do, they are right behind me.”

He comes from the kind of family you’d like to have living next door. Gracious, hard-working, and community-minded, they are living the American Dream. His mother, Miriam, is a stay-at-home mom, and his father, Martin, a waiter, emigrated from Mexico and met her on a dance floor in Los Angeles.

A first-generation American, Moises, who wants to become an airline pilot, will be the first member of his family to ever attend college.

“Without this program we couldn’t see this happening financially,” Miriam said, praising the Explorers. She is one of the powerhouse parents who helps to keep Post 747 going strong.

The inspiring stories now go on and on, but getting the Explorers program off the ground in the first place came with hurdles that would have obliterated the resolve of most. Logan is made of tougher stuff. To launch the Explorers, she needed a charter, non-profit status, a meeting facility, insurance, a plane, a way to raise thousands of dollars for flight training, and a community outreach program that would find eager young pilots in waiting.

But funding remains an ongoing issue. A pilot’s license runs upward of $5,000, if all goes according to schedule––more if training takes longer. The local Ninety-Nine’s pony up scholarships of $2,500, half the average cost, but each Explorer who pursues a license is responsible for the balance. Explorers are constantly fund-raising by hosting pancake breakfasts and airplane washes. The more money that is made available increases the opportunities for these good kids to achieve.

A fund-raiser is planned for Post 747 on Saturday, April 9, at the Angeles National Golf Club. The event will include dinner, silent and live auctions, entertainment, and a guest speaker.  The aviation community, as well as members of the community at large, are encouraged to attend. It promises to be a memorable evening for a cause well worth supporting. Logan notes that a shortage of commercial pilots is looming on the horizon. “Most pilots right now are nearing retirement,” she said. “A whole generation. These kids are in the perfect spot to fill that void.”

You can help. To make a donation to a great group of kids, or for more information on Explorer Post 747, contact Ruth Logan at the San Fernando Valley Chapter of the Ninety-Nines:


Cessna 172 and Bellanca 8KCAB: Serious incident occurred April 29, 2015 over Glen Valley training area near Langley-Abbotsford border south of Fraser River, B.C., Canada

A near mid-air collision involving aircraft from competing flight training schools is highlighting safety concerns on a designated aviation practice area in the Fraser Valley.

A Transport Canada aviation incident report for 2015 says the incident occurred April 29 over the Glen Valley training area near the Langley-Abbotsford border south of the Fraser River.

A Montair Aviation Ltd. Cessna C172 was “forced to perform an evasive manoeuvre to avoid a head-on collision” with a Canadian Flight Centre Bellanca 8KCAB, the report reads. Both are small single-engine aircraft.

“The Bellanca was performing aerobatic manoeuvres throughout the entire Glen Valley area as well as outside the practice area boundaries, without making proper position reports on the local area frequency,” the report adds.

Montair Aviation is based in Pitt Meadows, Canadian Flight Centre in Delta.

Peter Schlieck, owner of Canadian Flight Centre, said he could not immediately recall the event but noted that other such incidents go unreported every year in the congested training area. He complained that training space is given a lower priority over airspace for larger commercial traffic and it’s possible to see six to eight planes training on a good day at Glen Valley.

“It’s a heavy-use area,” he said. “Situations like that happen frequently throughout the year.”

Ian Kennedy, chief operating officer for Montair, agreed there are “probably hundreds” of incidents that might go unreported annually in the area. He said that Glen Valley is used by flight schools from Boundary Bay, Pitt Meadows, Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack.

“In aviation there are always things you can do to make it safer, but that is a very long discussion,” he noted. “I consider it safe, otherwise we wouldn’t send our aircraft there.”

Pilots flying through or within the Glen Valley area should be monitoring a frequency specifically assigned to the area to lessen risks, said Bill Yearwood, regional manager of the federal Transportation Safety Board in Richmond.

Radio communications are a valuable way for pilots to augment sight for monitoring other traffic. “We know the human eye is not the best on its own for identifying aircraft on a collision course,” he said. Smaller planes are also typically not equipped with collision-avoidance technology found on larger commercial planes.

“With lots of training aircraft converging in a designated area, the risk is increased just because the probability is elevated,” Yearwood said.

In 2003, a student pilot flying a Piper PA-28-140 aircraft with Langley Flying School went on a solo training flight in the Glen Valley practice area. After about 30 minutes, and completing three 360-degree turns, the plane entered a spiral dive and crashed to the ground. The pilot died.

In 2011, two of four light planes flying in formation from Langley to Chilliwack collided in mid-air near Dewdney along the northern end of the Glen Valley practice area. One Cessna 150G plane crashed into a shallow slough and both occupants died. The pilot of the other plane, a Cessna 150L, regained control and landed safely in a farm field.

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Popular seasonal flights fuel continued growth at Glacier Park International Airport (KGPI)

From its humble origins as an airstrip built between Kalispell and Columbia Falls in 1942, the Flathead County Airport has evolved into Glacier Park International Airport, a growing provider of regional air service that is now setting records for passengers on an annual basis.

At a time of renewed economic activity and rising tourism, the local airport broke its annual passenger record for the fourth year in a row in 2015. A total of 452,588 revenue passengers traveled through Kalispell, a 4 percent increase over 2014, according to airport officials.

The 2015 total is 100,000 passengers above what the airport tallied just five years ago.

“It is very encouraging to see passenger number growth year over year, and to see economic recovery continue to manifest itself in travel,” Airport Director Cindi Martin stated. “The growing consumer demand reflects the appeal of the Flathead Valley and Glacier National Park region as a place to live, work and play. We believe we are seeing both tourism and business travel improvements as evidenced by the fact that nearly every month in 2015 saw a record number of travelers arriving and departing through the airport.”

Air travel across Montana was up 2.7 percent through November. Bozeman’s airport surpassed 1 million passengers, a 5.6 percent increase and the first time a Montana airport surpassed six figures. The Billings airport tallied 869,845 passengers, second most in Montana.

Increasing air service in the Flathead Valley has been a top goal for local organizations and businesses in recent years. The heightened attention and efforts appear to be paying off.

In 2006, the airport only had three carriers flying to four destinations. Now there are 10 seasonal carriers and five year-round with service to nearly every major hub in the region.

The most recent additions have been to Portland, Los Angeles and Chicago. The direct flights to Chicago from December through April were achieved through a revenue guarantee from the Glacier AERO group, a nonprofit that raised donations from the community to help increase local airline service. This winter’s flights are off to a solid start and advanced bookings are at 70 percent, according to AERO chairman Paul Johannsen.

The group is in discussions with United Airlines to add a direct flight to San Francisco in the summer. Kalispell already offers a seasonal direct flight to Oakland.

“We’re working on that and hoping to get that pulled together pretty soon,” Johannsen said. “It would be a great market for us.”

Joe Unterreiner, president of the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce, said the growing air service is helping area businesses grow while also bolstering the tourism industry.

“It’s been such a high priority for us because our two biggest industry sectors are tourism and manufacturing, and representatives from both of those industries tell us their top priority is getting better air service,” Unterreiner said. “It’s a total winner for everyone.”

The airport itself has undergone significant growth. In 2015, which marked the 40th anniversary of the Flathead Municipal Airport Authority being established to operate and oversee GPIA, a nine-year, $32 million capital improvement project was completed. The project included a sizable makeover of the terminal and several improvements to the site’s infrastructure.


Incident occurred January 09, 2016 at Sacramento International Airport (KSMF), Sacramento County, California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) —A Southwest Airlines flight had to make an emergency landing Saturday after the plane lost power in an engine due to a bird strike.

Flight 3097 departed Sacramento International Airport at 6:35 a.m. for John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

At 6:43 a.m., the pilot of the plane reported that they had lost power in an engine because of a bird strike.

The plane landed safely back at Sacramento International Airport just before 7 a.m.

All passengers and crew are safe and the aircraft will be inspected.

Passengers on Flight 3097 will be booked on another flight headed to Orange County.


Naples Municipal Airport (KAPF) attracts big crowds in recent weeks

Private jets overflow into the commercial area of the runway as Naples Municipal Airport endures heavy holiday traffic December 28.

Jets lined up by the dozens at the Naples Municipal Airport during New Year's Weekend, causing delays in traffic and setting a near-record total in fuel sales. The airport sold more than 68,500 gallons of fuel on Sunday, the second-highest single-day total on record, said Sheila Dugan, the airport's deputy executive director.

The uptick in fuel sales was hailed as a promising sign of a recovering economy. The amount of takeoffs and landings in the last three months of 2015 increased 4.4 percent from the same period last year, according to the airport's numbers.

The increases coincide with tourism numbers that show the area is continuing its post-recession boom. The county collected more than $1.3 million in tourism taxes in November, according to the most recent data compiled by the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau. Tourism tax totals from 2015, even excluding December, are more than $2 million more than what was projected.

Mayor John Sorey said the economy is allowing private jet travel for those who can afford to avoid the hassles of a commercial hub. During his trip to Europe on the holiday break, Sorey said he went a week with a lost bag after a layover in New York.

"Air travel is no longer fun," Sorey said.

Overnight at the airport Sunday, Dugan said, there were roughly 100 aircraft. Many of them took off Sunday and Monday. Dugan said about 30 jets were lined up to take off at one point, which caused delays.

Dugan said it's difficult for the airport to monitor the makeup of the travelers, but Jack Wert, executive director of the CVB, said most of the county's tourists fly into Fort Myers.

Dugan likened the increase of airport traffic to the rest of the traffic increases the city sees during its tourism season.

"We're seasonal just like all the other service industries," Dugan said.

The last time the airport sold so much fuel in a single day was in February 2007, the same year commercial flights were indefinitely halted. In October, Executive Director Ted Soliday signed a commercial service contract with Elite Airways, but the flights are held up as the airport waits for the Transportation Security Administration to set up its services.

The airport had roughly 8,200 takeoffs and landings in December, down about 3 percent from last year. But there were more than 25,000 operations from October through the end of 2015.

The airport expects the heavy flight load to continue. In its 2015-16 budget, it projects a 3 percent increase in takeoffs and landings and a 4 percent increase in net revenue from fuel sales.

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Shortage of pilots could cause flight cancellations


Airports throughout the nation are dealing with a shortage in pilots and it all points back to rules changed by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2013, said staff with the Arcata-Eureka Airport.

In 2013, the FAA changed the rules on pilot licenses. One of the changes was increased the amount of hours required in the air from 250 to 1,500. This led to a major rise in the cost of the license, from $25,000 to $150,000.

According to staff with the Arcata-Eureka Airport, less people have been applying for pilot licenses due to the time commitment and the fact that it is expensive. This means that the airport has been getting less new pilots, while they continue to lose pilots due to a mandatory retirement age of 65.

As pilots reach the retirement age at major airlines, they are in need of new ones, which leads them hire pilots from regional airports, like the Arcata-Eureka Airport.

This means the smaller and medium sized airports are losing pilots and are having trouble getting new ones, said Arcata-Eureka Airport employees. Without an adequate number of people to fly the planes, airports are having to cancel their flights.

"It's very important to keep regional service available, so that smaller communities can connect to the rest of the world," Emily Jacobs, with the Arcata-Eureka Airport, said.

There are resources for those interested in a pilot license, but may not have the money. One resource for those interested throughout Humboldt County is the Airport Advisory Committee. Their next meeting is at 6:00 p.m. on January 29 at the Propriety Center.

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Lawsuit filed over defunct air show: Family of former Hayden, Idaho, chamber board member sues organization

COEUR d’ALENE — A lawsuit was filed Monday in 1st District Court in Kootenai County against the Hayden Chamber of Commerce for tens of thousands of dollars owed by an airshow infamously known as Thunder Over the Prairie.

The June 2004 event is remembered for racking up $238,000 in debt.

The plaintiffs in the case, Solar G. Larsen and Dana N. Larsen, are trustees of the Larsen Revocable Living Trust. They are the sons of Bjarne B. Larsen, who loaned the chamber $50,000 for the air show.

The Larsens said in the lawsuit that the chamber agreed to an interest assessment of $15,000 by June 30, 2004. The lawsuit said interest after that date started accruing at 12 percent annually.

The lawsuit said the chamber made six payments over the years totaling $18,100.

The chamber “owes to plaintiffs the unpaid principal balance of $50,000 plus accrued interest in the sum of $64,856.60,” according to the suit documents.

The Larsens sent a demand letter to the chamber in November, but said the chamber refused to pay up. They said the chamber has been “unjustly enriched.”

In the lawsuit, the family also is asking for attorney fees.

Bjarne Larsen was, at the time of the airshow, a Hayden chamber board member and landlord for the nonprofit.

“This show was to put Hayden on the map,” Larsen told the Press for a July 2004 article. “Obviously we got on the map for the wrong reasons.”

Neither Judi Cronin, the current president of the chamber’s board of directors, nor Sean Moglia, vice president of the board, could immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

Mark Ellingsen, a Coeur d’Alene attorney for the Larsens, is out of the office this week and unavailable for comment.

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