Saturday, January 16, 2016

Piper PA-34 Seneca: Incident occurred January 16, 2016 at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport (KBKV), Brooksville, Hernando County, Florida

BROOKSVILLE -- A small plane made a hard landing at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport after its landing gear failed to deploy, officials say. 

Hernando County Fire Rescue responded to the airport shortly before 1 p.m. after receiving word about a twin-engine Senece airplane having mechanical difficulties.

The airport's tower instructed the plane, which was carrying three people, to circle the airport until emergency units were in position.

The pilot then brought the plane down, completing a hard landing alongside the airport's runway in a grassy area.

The three people inside the plane were able to get out safely. Medical personnel evaluated them and found no injuries.

The plane sustained moderate damage.

The fire department was also assisted by the Brooksville Fire Department and the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

"Thanks to the coordination between all agencies involved and the skill of the pilot, a much more serious ending to this event was averted," said Alex Lopez, HCFR's Division Chief of Training.

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A small plane had to make an emergency landing at Brooksville Tampa Bay Regional Airport today after the aircraft landing gear did not deploy, Hernando County Fire Rescue said.

The twin engine Seneca airplane with 3 passengers aboard reported it was having difficulty about 12:49 p.m., officials said. 

Fire rescue units responded to the airport in case they were needed.

The plane made a hard landing in a grassy alongside the airport’s runway, officials said. 

While the plane sustained moderate damage, the occupants were able to get out of the plane and were not injured, officials said.

Airport management will investigate the incident, officials said.


House with hangar up for sale: Tablelands, Atherton, Queensland, Australia

Kerry McDonnald, right, with her daughters Olivia (left) and Abby (middle) in front of the aircraft hangar on their property. Kerry is the owner of this unique 'hangar house'. The house backs onto Atherton Airport and has it's own hangar so this place would be perfect for a local aviator.

NO, you’re not dreamin’, here is one of only 10 blocks on the Tablelands where you can sit in your back yard and watch the planes and helicopters take off and land.

While it may conjure up thoughts of Darryl Kerrigan’s beloved home on The Castle, this Feeney Close acreage home – which has recently been listed for sale – backs on to Atherton Airport and would be a winner among aviators.

“To be able to house your aircraft in your own back yard hangar and taxi on to the airport for a fly is like having a boat moored to your own jetty at Bluewater harbour for the boating enthusiast,” said owner Kerry McDonald.

Ms McDonald said there were only 10 blocks adjoining the country airport which had access to the “airpark” ­option, commonly known as the “fly-in community”.

“We have a large hangar ­located in the back section of the property which adjoins the Atherton Airport,” she said.

“The outrigger doors open to reveal a clear 11.5m by 3.5m opening out on to a concrete pad.

“From here your aircraft is taxied directly out of the ­double gates and straight on to the bitumen taxiway of ­Atherton Airport.”

Ms. McDonald said the ­family previously housed their light aircraft in the hangar and used it regularly to go flying.

“It was always great to have visitors and after coffee take them out into the back yard and go for a quick fly around the Tablelands. It was very easy to do,” she said.

“The kids have had amazing opportunities to fly in many and varied aircraft and helicopters because of their association with the airport.

“Some weekends we have our own little private air shows with warbirds and aerobatic aircraft flying overhead.”

Ms. McDonald’s 23-year-old son also grew up to be a pilot and now flies in the US.

But for those who prefer to stay on the ground, the ­property also lends itself to lifestyle living and has enough room to accommodate a boat or caravan.

“The home was built by a well-known and respected builder, Les Tenney, for his own family.

Ms. McDonald said her favorite features of the home included the tropical open-plan design of the pool and living area, the size of the property and the location.

“The leafy private pool area with its feature waterfall is a tranquil and beautiful area to sit and have coffee with friends while the kids play,” she said.

“It’s just so easy to live here, it has so many features and is finished with quality fittings and has oodles and oodles of storage.

“We are on the fringe of the town so it’s a two-minute trip into town if you have forgotten the milk or need to run the children to sports.

“And then, of course, there is the airport out the back and all of the excitement and friendship which it has had to offer the whole family over the years.”

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Drug seizure money key Sheriff's Office K-9s, aircraft operations

A controversial program used by the Greenville County Sheriff's Office to fund essential operations has collected more than $1 million over the past five fiscal years, according to a review of records obtained by The Greenville News.

The majority of funds collected by the Sheriff’s Office under the state’s asset seizure law are used to keep three aircraft flying and its K-9 teams fed and trained, according to records obtained under the state's Freedom of Information Act.

Asset seizure money, commonly referred to as “drug money,” also is used to support undercover vice operations, including nearly $26,000 for an undercover investigation of a Greenville strip club.

Money from asset seizures is separate from the Sheriff’s Office’s annual budget, but without the funds, some tools deputies depend on wouldn’t be available.

“We would not have the helicopter at all without drug money,” said Linda Cobb, Greenville County’s financial manager. “It was purchased with drug money. We fund everything for it ─ repairs, fuel, insurance.”

Seizing money connected to criminal activity is common. South Carolina law enforcement agencies collected an estimated $22.7 million in forfeiture revenue from 2009 to 2014, according to an Institute for Justice study. The Institute for Justice has criticized law enforcement for asset seizure operations which do not require criminal charges or convictions.

“That introduces a significant financial incentive to pursue revenue generation rather than the unbiased administration of the law,” said Dick Carpenter, director of strategic research at the Institute for Justice.

The Department of Justice last month announced it was suspending its equitable sharing program that allowed law enforcement to seize assets under federal law and keep up to 80 percent of the haul. This does not affect the Sheriff’s Office's drug seizure account, which takes assets under state law.

When asked what would happen if the Sheriff's Office did not collect enough drug seizure money to cover operating expenses for the K-9 unit and aircraft, Sheriff Steve Loftis said, “We will have to cross that bridge if it ever materializes.”

Revenue, expenses vary each year

Seizure money can be spent on anything to enhance or maintain operations of the vice and narcotics units, Cobb said.

In fiscal year 2015, spending included $13,000 in cell phone bills, and $19,650 in two months during the undercover investigation into Platinum Plus, a strip club located on Frontage Road. Overall the Platinum Plus investigation encompassed two fiscal years and cost about $26,000, nearly 14 percent of the money spent in the 2015 fiscal year.

“A big case like this, we had to think, ‘OK, what is an appropriate way to cover the rest of the expense,” Cobb said.

The Sheriff's Office logged $232,756 in revenue for the drug seizure account during the 2015 fiscal year and $190,249 in expenditures, according to county reports. Loftis approves spending.

The account is subject to an audit each year during the county’s annual external audit, which was performed by the Elliott Davis firm in 2015.

The Greenville County Finance Department reviews all invoices from the drug seizure account, Cobb said.

The Sheriff’s Office spent about $48,000 on K-9s during fiscal year 2015.

The K-9 unit consists of 13 dogs, 11 are patrol dogs used for tracking, searching, apprehension and drug detection, Sgt. Patrick Donohue said. Two others are bloodhounds that specialize in finding missing persons.

In 2014, the K-9s were used 1,825 times, leading to the 728 arrests and 1,524 served warrants, Donohue said. The Sheriff's Office K-9s also are used to assist other law enforcement agencies in the Upstate, including federal authorities. The K-9s were involved in the seizure of more than $1 million, a gross amount which includes operations in other jurisdictions, Donohue said.

“For a minimal expenditure, the use of the K-9s allow us to find things that we would not otherwise find – be it people, be it drugs, be it things that are hidden, things that are thrown that the human eye just can’t find,” Donohue, who supervises the K-9 unit, said. “The dogs use their keen and acute sense of smell to locate people, drugs, weapons, explosives, accelerants, all kinds of things. And at the end of the day, most importantly, the dogs are there to provide a level of protection to the officers and the public.”

Drug seizure account revenue and expenses fluctuate yearly. In a criminal investigation, police only need probable cause, not convictions, to seize assets.

It can sometimes take years for seized assets to go through the forfeiture process, officials said. The court system decides at the end of a trial what happens to the seized property, the Sheriff's Office said.

In September 2013, the Sheriff's Office raided the residence of a man suspected of illegal activity. Deputies seized $67,953 in cash from his home in Greer, plus marijuana, cocaine and guns. The FBI took over the investigation, and eventually the Sheriff’s Office received more than $50,000, after the state and the Solicitor's Office received a portion.

How are the helicopters used?

The Sheriff’s Office has two helicopters and a Cessna airplane. One of the helicopters, a Huey military-grade aircraft was used on two missions in two years, one each in 2013 and 2014. All other uses were for training or demonstrations, according to the most recent annual reports of flight hours obtained by The News.

The Huey can carry up to a dozen people and has been used to fight fires, the Sheriff’s Office said. Despite its rare usage, Loftis said the Huey is worth keeping citing a 2003 fire it helped extinguish at a house on Paris Mountain.

“Had it not been for the Huey and the bambi bucket, there would have been millions of dollars in damage done to the houses in that area," Loftis said.

The Cessna 182, a single-engine four-seat plane, is mainly used for prisoner transport. It, too, is used sparingly.

In 2014, pilots logged 24 flight hours in the Cessna, which included four prisoner transports and one surveillance flight, according to the Aviation Unit's annual report. The prisoner transports included an in-state trip and travel to North Carolina, Georgia and Florida, according to Sheriff's Office records.

The other helicopter, a Bell OH-58 Kiowa, assists deputies in searches for fleeing criminals or missing people.

The department tries to keep at least $70,000 in the drug seizure account for helicopter maintenance, fuel and K-9 expenses, Cobb said.  The Sheriff's Office spent $72,022.40 in aviation expenses in fiscal year 2015, accounting for nearly 38 percent of expenses that year, according to county records.

In 2014, the OH-58, the smaller of the two helicopters, logged about 120 flight hours. It recorded 129 calls for service to assist ground units, according to the annual report.

In 2014 the helicopter assisted in a vehicle pursuit and arrest of a triple murder suspect from Anderson County and his accomplice, according to a Sheriff’s Office report. In 2015, the Sheriff's Office used the helicopter to locate a teenager accused of killing his mother.

The OH-58 can cover the ground of about five patrol cars, said Sgt. Chris Hines, one of two pilots employed by the Sheriff's Office.

“We have used that (helicopter) so many times to recover lost persons, missing children, armed suspects,” Loftis said. “And when it comes to recovering a person or a small child that is missing, what kind of price do you put on a human life? You can’t.”

Narcotics Enforcement account

2011 FY revenue: $246,186.39

2011 FY expenses: $184,440.86

2012 FY revenue: $245,762.70 

2012 FY expenses: $263,178.17

2013 FY revenue: $151,990.77

2013 FY expenses: $192,186.89

2014 FY revenue: $127,154.84

2014 FY expenses: $152,265.13

2015 FY revenue: $232,756.25

2015 FY expenses: $190,249.71

Source: Greenville County Sheriff's Office

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Early flyboys flocked to Newport News, Virginia

When the airplanes of the Curtiss Flying School first took to the skies over Newport News Point on Dec. 29, 1915, there was no Norfolk Naval Air Station or Langley Field. 

A century after pioneering aircraft builder Glenn Curtiss opened a flying school at Newport News Point, it's hard to imagine the sensational impact his soaring planes and death-defying pilots had on both the aviation world and the local crowds who gathered to watch them.

A champion motorcyclist before turning to aeronautics, Curtiss already reigned as the "world's fastest man" when he stepped off a ferry at Old Point Comfort, checked into the Hotel Chamberlin and drove to his Atlantic Coast Aeronautical Station for the first time in early January 1916.

Soon his hand-picked airmen were tearing up speed, endurance and altitude records in the skies over Hampton Roads with the same audacity and ambition that made the New York speedster famous.

Little wonder that their feats showed up in newspapers around the globe — or that would-be aviators from a half-dozen countries began waiting in line for the chance to belt themselves into one of his legendary planes and take lessons from his elite pilots.

But as the first class of 30 made their baptismal flights, no one could have predicted the fame that awaited a young Newport News dancing teacher who had talked his way in among a throng of Canadians eager to join World War I.

Within weeks, Harold Marcellus "Buck" Gallop would emerge as a natural pilot and one of the first students certified in both flying boats and landplanes.

He would fly alongside other Americans in the French Air Service's famous Lafayette Escadrille, then for the U.S. Army's 90th Aero Squadron.

So colorful were Gallop's exploits in the air and on the ground that — long after the war's end — they inspired former American airman John Monk Saunders' Academy Award-winning script for the 1930 film "The Dawn Patrol."

"For Buck Gallop, it was all about adventure and excitement — and he was looking for a way to change his life," says aviation historian Amy Waters Yarsinske, author of "Flyboys Over Hampton Roads."

"So when he had the chance to learn to fly he stepped right into that role."

Giant figure

As Yarsinske notes, "No Hollywood casting director could have been so lucky" when it came to the star power of the pioneering airmen in Newport News.

After piloting a V-8-powered motorcycle of his own design and construction to a world land speed record of 136.6 mph in 1907, Curtiss joined renowned inventor Alexander Graham Bell to produce a series of technologically advanced airplanes that mowed down speed and altitude records.

By 1910 he was building his own planes at the nation's first aircraft factory in Hammondsport, N.Y., where he developed not only the Model D "pusher" that made the first successful flight from a ship off Old Point Comfort in November that year but also a landmark flying boat that won the first Collier Prize for Aviation in 1911.

Five years later Curtiss was back in Hampton Roads, where the 20-acre tract he'd purchased near the entrance to the Small Boat Harbor in Newport News provided a protected, ice-free harbor and relatively snow-free landing strip that enabled his pilots to test his latest planes year-round.

"Curtiss was a revolutionary — and his Newport News school was one of the pioneering centers in American aviation," Yarsinske says. "So for Gallop and the other students, it was like flying with Lindbergh before there was a Lindbergh. Curtiss was a god."

Legendary pilots

Born in Currituck County, N.C., Gallop was barely 20 years old when he hustled his way into an elite constellation of fliers nearly as renowned as Curtiss.

As a young man who had little to show for himself besides a long string of odd jobs and a stint in Newport News as a dancing instructor, it must have been like stepping into a world that was larger than life, Yarsinske says.

Among its brightest stars was Victor Carlstrom, a Wyoming cowboy who set record after world record in the skies over Hampton Roads before losing a wing and spiraling to his death from 3,500 feet 16 months after the station opened.

"He was the cream of the crop — the best pilot in the country," Yarsinske said.

"He had the swagger. He had the good looks. He had the records and the skills. He had everything you needed to turn the heads of other pilots."

Joining Carlstrom was Walter Lees, who commanded so much respect after nearly four years of faultless flying that station manager Capt. Thomas Baldwin — the dean of American balloonists — tapped him to teach headstrong William "Billy" Mitchell, the father of the Air Force.

Then there was Bertrand "Bert" Acosta, whose record-setting resume included a long string of fines and suspensions for flying too close to buildings as well as under bridges.

"These were the top pilots in the world," says Curator Randy Leisenring of the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, N.Y.

"And they were not just training pilots but also testing all sorts of experimental planes to see how fast, how high and how far they could fly. There was a lot going on in Newport News."

Life transformed

Even before their first flights on Dec. 29, 1915, Curtiss' stellar pilots generated a wait list of would-be students that numbered in the hundreds.

But while British-born international dancing star Vernon Castle bought his way into the first class with extra cash, it's harder to understand why Baldwin made a place for Gallop.

"He came with no pedigree," Yarsinske said. "Even his nickname came from doing all kinds of things just to make a buck.

"So there must have been a lot of salesmanship on his part just to get in — plus the promise to do a few odd jobs and become an instructor once he became a pilot."

But like his fellow dancer, whom Baldwin described as "a born airman" and "one of the most apt pupils I have ever seen," Gallop's well-honed motor skills and quick mind combined to make a standout student.

In addition to learning to fly the station's landplanes, he completed the separate course of instruction for flying boats, too, and after earning his Aero Club of America certification in July 1916 he went on to become the school's first American graduate to qualify for both intermediate and advanced flight training with the Army.

So well did Gallop do after joining the Army's pioneering 1st Aero Squadron that — like his good friend William Schauffler — he became one of the Air Service's "Dirty Five," a group of Curtiss graduates held in high esteem despite the lack of a West Point commission.

Both men later proved crucial to the distinguished record of the 90th Aero Squadron in France, with Gallop taking command of the first unit to fly the American flag over enemy lines after Schauffler was stricken by illness.

Busted repeatedly for flying after being grounded, Gallop won renown for his daring reconnaissance and combat patrols — and he had few equals when it came to his exploits after his missions ended.

Yarsinske describes him as "the war's most successful hell-raiser," while historian John V. Quarstein recalls how newspapers and newsreels across the United States celebrated Gallop and his fellow pilots as "the knights of the air."

"They all had that lifestyle," Quarstein said, describing the aura of daring and romance that surrounded the early fliers.

"Every time they went up into the air they put their lives at risk — and a lot of them died. But when they came back down all they wanted to do was party."

Historic impact

Even before America entered World War I, the military began sending the first of more than 1,000 men to follow Gallop's footsteps in Newport News.

The Navy came first, Yarsinske said, with the original graduates of "Naval Air Detachment, Curtiss Field, Newport News" flying across Hampton Roads and mooring their seaplanes on stakes while waiting on the construction of Naval Air Station Norfolk.

The Army arrived soon afterward, tapping the flying school as its principal aviation training station just days after Billy Mitchell completed his first flight lesson on Sept. 4, 1916.

Writing in his journal, instructor Walter Lees described the air power pioneer — who would later total his plane during his first solo flight — as "very erratic."

"One day he would be OK, and the next, lousy," Lees noted.

Still, by the end of 1916 the school's burgeoning success had led to a landmark step in its undoing.

The Army and the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics joined to purchase a 1,659-acre Hampton tract that Curtiss had previously considered, then turned down as too expensive for an expansion.

Though Langley Field began operating too late to have much impact on the war, Mitchell transformed it into the center of Army air power after his return from Europe, eclipsing his old school even before Curtiss closed it in 1922.

"He was so far ahead of his time that — when he opened the Newport News school in 1915 — the Army and Navy came to him," Quarstein said.

"But he made himself redundant."

Hollywood fame

Though Gallop was among the pilots stationed at Langley after the war, his military career didn't last.

Soon he was barnstorming across the country with a flying circus, Yarsinske said, and when he tired of that he tried capitalizing on his post-war and "Dawn Patrol" notoriety with a New York advertising job — then married and divorced the heiress to the Jergens hand-lotion fortune.

Along the way, Gallop became a soldier of fortune employed as pilot by a Chinese warlord.

He died in 1943 at age 48, his life shortened by hard drinking and the lingering effects of a stomach wound.

By then the original 1930 film directed by former Army aviator Howard Hawks and starring Richard Barthelmess and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. had been remade, with Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone and David Niven playing the leads in the 1938 version.

Both films are regarded as classic portrayals of the romance and danger of early aviation, with daring heroes, vivid combat flying sequences and deadly sacrifice as well as the all-too-real excessive drinking that helped kill Gallop before his time.

"With all these larger-than-life personalities sharing the same stage, this was a great era," Yarsinske says.

"But there weren't very many of them in the beginning — and they often didn't last long. A lot of them lived hard and died young."

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Velocity 173 RG, N173BG: Incident occurred January 16, 2016 near Apple Valley Airport (KAPV), San Bernardino County, California

Date: 16-JAN-16
Time: 18:25:00Z
Regis#: N173BG
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Minor
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Riverside FSDO-21
State: California


An experimental aircraft reported engine problems on Saturday morning and was force landed in the desert near Highway 18 between Apple Valley and Lucerne Valley, according to scanner traffic.

Scanner traffic noted the aircraft was having problems around 10:40 a.m. 

The call came from the FAA that the pilot was south of Apple Valley Airport.

California Highway Patrol officers and San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department deputies began a search for the plane, and the fire units were dispatched in the area of the airport, according to scanner traffic.

The aircraft and the pilot were located south of Highway 18 in the general vicinity of the Milpas Highlands.

The pilot was the lone occupant of the plane and suffered no injuries, authorities said.

Story, video and photos:

APPLE VALLEY-(  A single-engine experimental aircraft made an emergency landing near the intersection of Milpas Drive and Via Seco Street late Saturday morning.

Dispatch received communication from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) just before 10:30 a.m. that a possibly homebuilt experimental aircraft lost the engine and would be landing or possibly already landed somewhere south of the Apple Valley Airport.

The Fire Department, San Bernardino County Sheriff deputies and California Highway Patrol helicopter responded to search for the possibly downed plane.

Just before 11:00 a.m. the plane was located, and deputies made contact with the sole  occupant of the plane, who landed without injuries. At this time the condition of the plane is unknown. Information will be updated as it is received.


Fatal accident occurred January 16, 2016 at Triangle Skydiving Center • Triangle North Executive Airport (KLHZ), Louisburg, Franklin County, North Carolina

James Stremmel

LOUISBURG, N.C. — Authorities said a man was killed during a parachuting accident Saturday around 12:30 p.m. at Triangle North Executive Airport in Louisburg.

Officials identified the man Saturday evening as James Stremmel.

Gregory Upper, owner of the Triangle Skydiving Center, said Stremmel went up with a few others for his second or third jump of the day.

Upper said Stremmel—a former Marine—was an excellent skydiver who had completed more than 1,800 skydives over the past five years.

"His whole life was skydiving. This is what he did—skydive," Upper said. "He had just got out of the Marine Corps a little over a year ago, or maybe two years, and he was planning to skydive all over the world."

Upper said Stremmel's gear was looked at and they will turn everything over to the Federal Aviation Administration.

No further information has been released. Authorities said the investigation is ongoing.

Story, video and photo:

James Stremmel
This picture taken right before fatal jump. Triangle Skydiving Center: He just left Marine Corps after years of service.

LOUISBURG, N.C. (WNCN) — A Raleigh man died in a parachuting incident in Franklin County on Saturday afternoon, officials say.

James Stremmel of Raleigh died in the incident, which happened around 2 p.m. at the Franklin County Airport off Highway 401, sources at the skydiving center used by Stremmel told WNCN.

The Triangle Skydiving Center is located at the airport, which is also known as the Triangle North Executive Airport.

The owner of the Triangle Skydiving Center says Stremmel, who was a client of the center, was an experienced skydiver.

Stremmel, who used to live in Texas, was a former US Marine and lived in Raleigh with his girlfriend, sources said.

Greg Upper, the owner of the skydiving center, said he doesn’t know what went wrong during the jump.

Upper told WNCN that he spoke with Stremmel about 20 minutes before he died and that Stremmel’s parachute worked. But somehow … he had a hard landing.

Stremmel, who was licensed, had performed more than 1,800 skydiving jumps in the past and jumps nearly every weekend, according to Upper.

“James was a friend of mine. He was, it’s unfortunate that’s all i can say at this point. Its unexpected, unfortunate and it was a tragic accident that’s all I can tell you,” Upper said.

The Franklin County Sheriff and the FAA are investigating the incident.

Story, video and photo gallery:

James Stremmel

LOUISBURG, N.C. (WTVD) -- One person was killed early Saturday afternoon while parachuting, according to the Franklin County Sheriff's Office. It happened at the Triangle North Executive Airport off Highway 401.

The victim was identified as 24-year-old James Stremmel. He was an experienced skydiver, being licensed and having over 1,800 jumps.

He had gotten the Marine Corps about a year ago after spending years serving. He had been living in Raleigh and was originally from Houston.

The owner of the Triangle Skydiving Center, Gregory Upper, says Stremmel had a hard landing but doesn't know what went wrong. He says he is a close friend of Stremmel and had talked to him 20 minutes before the accident.

"James was a friend of mine and he was... and it was unfortunate," said Upper. "That's all you can say at this point. It's unexpected. It's unfortunate and it was a tragic accident."

Story, video and photo gallery:

Airports warned over animal incursions

NEW DELHI: With animal incursions endangering the lives of travelers at some airports, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has belatedly cracked the whip.

After completing an audit of 20 airports that were identified as being most vulnerable to such incursions, the regulator has now asked the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the states concerned to take remedial steps for augmenting safety and submit an action-taken report for each place.

While such warnings have been issued in the past too, the regulator had in a possible first suspended the license of Jabalpur airport in Madhya Pradesh for some days this month after finding it very vulnerable to animal incursions. A SpiceJet aircraft had had a close shave when the pilot tried to avoid hitting wild boars after landing there in December. The license was restored only after the state took some corrective steps.

"Our priority is safety," DGCA chief M Sathiyavathy said. "We have given reports of these audits to the authorities concerned and they have to submit an action-taken report within a stipulated time."

The common problem at these 20 airports —including those in important cities such as Varanasi, Kolkata, Srinagar, Ahmedabad, Patna, Ranchi and Bhubaneswar — is of breaches in boundary walls from where animals enter, apart from water bodies and meat shops nearby that attract birds and animals. At many airports, the grass has tempted villagers to breach boundary walls so their cattle can graze inside.

Airlines like SpiceJet — which has had its planes hit by buffaloes and boars in the past few years — had recently decided not to fly to 'unsafe' airports.

In the past too, the DGCA has written several times to chief secretaries of different states to make airports safe from animal incursions, but to no avail. For instance, it had in early 2014 written to chief secretaries of all states, saying: "Wildlife/bird strike to aircraft is considered a serious safety issue... (these) invariably result in expensive repairs to aircraft/engines, losses to airlines, cancellations/delays of flight which cause inconvenience to the traveling public."

The Aircraft Act, 1934, specifically prohibits any slaughtering or flaying of animals or dumping of garbage in a way that can attract animals and birds within a 10km radius of airports. "Such activity is a cognizable offense under section 10(1B) of the Aircraft Act, 1934... airfield environment management committees at airports (which are headed by chief secretaries) should take proactive measures on time-bound basis to ensure that no illegal slaughterhouses, garbage dumps exist in the vicinity of airports. (These) are source of increased bird activity and may lead to wildlife strikes to aircraft during approach/take off," the DGCA letter of 2014 had said.

The regulator is hoping the suspension of Jabalpur airport's license will act as a catalyst for states to cooperate and makes airports safer.

Airports vulnerable to wildlife strikes

Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Patna, Ranchi, Kolkata, Jaipur, Srinagar, Varanasi, Bhubaneswar, Hubli, Belgaum, Raipur, Nagpur, Coimbatore, Trivandrum, Tutitcorin, Imphal, Agartala.

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Seaport Airlines: After today, we will no longer fly in Kansas

PORTLAND -SeaPort Airlines announced it will discontinue all scheduled service in Kansas and Missouri as of 11:59p.m. today.

The airline discontinue all scheduled service to destinations in California and Mexico Friday night.

The company was forced to take this action because of the impact on SeaPort’s business and operations following the effects of the shortage of airline pilots in the United States, according to a media release.

Stations will be closed and service is to be ceased at each of the following cities:

• • Salina, KS
• • Great Bend, KS
• • Burbank, CA
• • San Diego, CA
• • Imperial, CA
• • San Felipe, BC (Mexico)
• • Sacramento, CA
• • Visalia, CA
• • Kansas City, MO

Customers with reservations for impacted routes will be issued a full refund for unused tickets, and should call 888-573-2767 if they have additional questions about their refund.

Current service in the Pacific Northwest, Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas will be unaffected and are expected to operate as scheduled and without disruption. Customers with reservations for flights in these regions will continue to receive the quality customer service and airline experience that they have come to expect from SeaPort Airlines.

Customer seeking refunds for discontinued routes should call 888-573-2767.

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Luke Air Force Base continues gradual F-35 additions in 2016

Luke Air Force Base will continue steady expansion of its F-35 program this year, with 10 more of the fighter jets slated to arrive at the base.

Those additions will mean 44 F-35s at the West Valley base by the end of 2016, with plans for Luke to have 144 by 2014.

Beyond that, the base is becoming an international nexus for this one-of-a-kind fighter partnership.

“The F-35 is very much unique. Nine different countries had input on the design,” said Lt. Col. Matt Hasson, public affairs officer for the base.

Italy will assemble and send two jets this year, after the country became the first outside the United States to assemble an F-35 in September. Several more arrive from Japan in September.

Pilots from Italy and Norway train at the base, while Israeli pilots will be coming in for ground operations. Other countries that will participate in F-35A training at Luke include Turkey, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark and South Korea.

“This is a monumental achievement for the F-35 program,” stated Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin F-35 Program general manager in a Luke press release. “The F-35 provides Italy’s aerospace industry with high technology work, ensuring the future health and competitiveness for their defense industry.

The A course of the F-35 program began training at Luke in May 2015. They’ll finish this year and transition to the role of instructors for the next group.

B course trainees arriving in November will be the first group tabbed to fly the F-35 out of basic training. The first group was culled from throughout the air force and well versed in a variety of aircraft.

The B course will be fairly recent graduates of basic training and almost fresh off advanced fighter training. Hasson said their experience at Luke will be akin to an Air Force pilot version of graduate school.

Once finished at Luke, these pilots will be off to combat training at Hill Air Fore Base in Texas.

F-16 training will continue at Luke. But the 56th Fighter Wing mission statement changed last May, adding the F-35 Lightning program.

Another expected 2016 milestone is the jet’s first squadron capable of combat missions, aka Initial Operating Capability.

“Luke has an absolutely critical role in making the jet operational,” Hasson said.

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Incident occurred January 16, 2016 at Indira Gandhi international Airport

New Delhi: A Nagpur-Delhi Air India flight coming via Raipur, landed on emergency at the Indira Gandhi international airport on Saturday morning, after some of its tire parts were found on the runway in Raipur after its take off.

All 165 people on-board, including the crew members were reported safe.

The incident was reported around 11.30am, when the flight, AI 469, was conveyed by the Raipur ATC that some parts of its tire were found scattered on the runway after the flight took off from Raipur and therefore asked the pilots to request landing on emergency at its destination airport.

After landing, the aircraft was taken for inspection by technical experts.

Original article can be found here:

Organization concerned wind turbines threaten private airstrip’s safety

HURON COUNTY — The increasing number of wind turbines threatens the ability for a McKinley Township landowner to safely operate a private airstrip, an Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association official said in a letter addressed to the county.

“Recently, the ability for general aviation pilots and the landowner to arrive and depart the facility safely has been threatened by an increasing number of wind turbines — specifically wind turbine T-30,” Bryan Budds, Great Lakes Regional Manager of the Maryland-based nonprofit, which advocates for general aviation, writes in a Jan. 6 letter to Huron County Planning Commission Chair Clark Brock.

“AOPA strongly believes wind turbine T-30 — located less than (a mile) from the runway’s approach and within the airport’s traffic pattern — poses a clear and significant danger for any aircraft operating from the airport.”

The turbine is planned as part of Minnesota-based Geronimo Energy’s 30-turbine Apple Blossom wind project in McKinley and Winsor townships. AOPA says the Riverside Airfield is located at the intersection of Richmond and North Caseville roads and has been an operational, private-use airport for more than a decade.

In the letter, Budds requests county planners postpone any permits or approvals for the project “until a time when safe ingress and egress from private airstrips in the immediate vicinity can be assured.”

County Building and Zoning Director Jeff Smith said the McKinley Township landowner is a participant in the wind project. He said planners want to address Budds’ letter and the landowner’s concerns at the Feb. 3 planning commission meeting. Because the county received the letter at the 11th hour — Smith said it arrived at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6, before the 7 p.m. planning commission meeting — planners didn’t discuss it.

“I asked Geronimo to address this also,” Smith said.

Lindsay Smith, marketing and communications manager at Geronimo Energy in Edina, Minnesota, says the Apple Blossom layout was approved by Huron county planners on June 3, 2015, and has also received approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration and Michigan Department of Transportation’s Office of Aeronautics.

“We are currently working with the landowner regarding this matter,” she said in an email.

Jeff Smith said his office knew of the issue and Geronimo moved some turbines to accommodate the landowner’s request. He said he also stated to the landowner that planners would discuss the matter in February.

Part of that discussion could include a response to a statement in Budd’s letter: “Since the airfield does not meet criteria for federal or state tall tower protection, Huron County is the only line of protection for pilots operating to or from the airfield.”

“We strongly urge you to fully consider all impacts to safe aviation operations to and from Riverside Airfield before approving any permits related (to) wind turbine T-30,” the letter states.

But according to Jeff Smith, people choose where they want to put private airstrips in the county.

“We don’t regulate private airstrips,” he said.

Putting wind turbines or other tall structures a mile away from the county-owned, public use Huron County Memorial Airport, however, would not be allowed under the county’s airport zoning ordinance, he said.

“MDOT and the FAA would not allow it,” he said.

When county commissioners voted to support the Apple Blossom wind project last April (, Project Manager David Shiflett said the developer made a switch that would situate turbines on a smaller tower and a rotor diameter covering 50 more feet.

“We’re still in compliance with the tall structures act and FAA,” Shiflett then told commissioners.

Geronimo has faced other barriers to the project, most notably concern and opposition from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, some residents and wildlife advocates and former Board of Commissioners Chair John Nugent because turbines were planned for within three miles of the Saginaw Bay shoreline. It led the developer to rework the project, which Shiflett said was a “Herculean task.”

In a last minute decision in April 2015 (, county commissioners voted to axe a section of the moratorium on new wind energy projects that would have allowed the Apple Blossom project to continue. An attorney representing Geronimo threatened suit, claiming the decision violated the developer’s due process rights. Commissioners then made a deal to avoid being sued and let the project continue during the moratorium (

Original article can be found here:

Safety issues rife for light aircraft: Pilot training and skill highlighted as risks to New Zealand tourism reputation

Seven people died when a helicopter crashed at Fox Glacier late last year. 

Inexperienced pilots, communication issues and flying while tired are among concerns described in a new report about helicopter and light aircraft safety operations in New Zealand.

The review for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) also warns of the major financial stakes linked to the industry. With New Zealand aiming to almost double the value of tourism to $41 billion by 2025, the report points to aviation's "considerable social and economic importance for New Zealand" and the "global reputation as a tourism destination".

There have been a number of high-profile tourist crashes, most recently the November Fox Glacier helicopter crash that killed six tourists and a pilot.

That was one of 12 serious accidents in the past five years that have claimed 27 lives.

The CAA, the crown entity responsible for setting aviation safety standards, commissioned the independent review to risk-profile operations relating to helicopters and small airplanes.

Small airplanes are classed as having seating for nine passengers or less, excluding any crew.

The response, written by Auckland company Navigatus Consulting and dated November 27, 2015, reported five "key risk themes":

• Training and pilot experience
• Organizational environment and culture
• Sector safety culture and collaboration
• Institutional clients and their role in safety leadership
• Regulator and its practice.

Among the findings, experience and training issues include a "wide acknowledgement that there is a shortage of experienced pilots" and there is also evidence that not all organizations provide repeat training "due to the perceived high business cost."

There are also worries over some pilots working long hours and flying while tired.

"According to the survey, during peak season in the past five years, the perceived need to 'get the job done' compounded with having no back-up pilots sometimes resulted in a small number of pilots working for prolonged hours and sometimes continuing flying despite fatigue," the report said.

"This is a combined result of commercial pressure, organizational culture and personal attitudes. However, the survey results suggest that in most cases, pilots were not pressured to fly in adverse conditions."

Cultural concerns were also cited, and it was noted that good communication within and across the industry was key to safety.

However, it was found some larger organizations have structures and cultures that "hinder communication" and may compromise safety.

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of New Zealand president Ian Andrews said: "The biggest issue is what is going to be done about it. CAA do not listen hard enough to industry."

The CAA says it has no urgent safety concerns and the report "confirms results from CAA monitoring that the sector is experiencing rapid growth".

However, the CAA acknowledged a range of issues needed addressing, with a lack of ongoing pilot training deemed a "significant finding" and increased focus on addressing pilot experience.

"The findings don't point to an immediate threat to safety but they do highlight a number of issues that the CAA intends to work with industry to address, such as ensuring pilots take into account weather conditions before flying," a spokesman said.

"The research shows some pilots feel they don't have the experience for the particular operations they are conducting. Communication could be improved between pilots and their management, and between pilots to share experience and skills.

"[Recurrent training] is something the CAA and industry participants can actively address. CAA rules require recurrent training."

The spokesman said issues like pilot fatigue and some pilots feeling pressure to fly were "of moderate concern".

The review process involved interviews with Government agencies including the Ministry of Transport, Department of Conservation and the Tourism Industry Association. Online surveys of operators were also conducted.

Original article can be found here:

Charleston International Airport continues to post solid revenue, passenger gains

Revenue is up and expenses are down for the first four months at Charleston International Airport.

Because of passenger and airline growth, revenue is 5.1 percent ahead of projections for the July through October period, according to Judi Olmstead, finance director of Charleston County Aviation Authority, which operates the airport.

“We are in really good shape as far as revenue and expenses go,” Authority CEO Paul Campbell said.

Revenue is higher than projected from landing fees, rental cars, parking and concessions.

The number of passengers arriving and departing also rose to about 1.25 million, about 150,000 more than during the July through October period a year earlier. The airport projected 3.16 million passengers from July of last year through June this year. If the trend continues in the final eight months of the fiscal year, passenger count will surpass projections by several hundred thousand.

Total revenue through October stood at just over $17 million. The total budget for the July through June fiscal year is $44.7 million.

Parking revenue rose to $3.7 million during the period, up $200,000 over the same timeframe the previous year. Concessions revenue climbed an equal amount over the previous year to $4 million. Off-airport rental car revenue jumped $600,000 to $2.5 million.

The Aviation Authority’s Finance Committee agreed also to recommend spending $2 million for improvements to three airline operation centers below the terminal and for replacement of aging walls between airlines and the airplane parking apron.

By shifting offices for American Airlines and United Airlines under the terminal’s newly extended left wing and reconfiguring offices for Delta Airlines on the airport’s right wing, Campbell believes the Aviation Authority will extend the need to build a third wing by about five years because it will free up space for future airline growth.

“We have to advance some of the spending to handle the increased passenger growth,” Campbell said. “We are already at where we expected to be in 2020.”

Olmstead said the airport has the available funds for the improvements because of savings from other items in the budget.

Original article can be found here: