Sunday, January 17, 2016

Cessna 152, N6135M, Christiansen Aviation Inc: Accident occurred January 17, 2016 near Madison Municipal Airport (52A), Morgan County, Georgia

NTSB Identification: ERA16LA091 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, January 17, 2016 in Madison, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/04/2016
Aircraft: CESSNA 152, registration: N6135M
Injuries: 2 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The commercial pilot reported that he visually checked the fuel tanks before conducting the personal flight and verified that they were full with a total of 26 gallons (24.5 usable) before the personal flight departed; fuel receipts corroborated that the airplane was refueled before the flight. The pilot stated that, shortly after he descended the airplane from 5,500 ft mean sea level (msl) and then leveled off at 3,500 ft msl, about 3.5 hours into the flight, the engine began running roughly and then lost power. The pilot’s attempts to restart the engine were unsuccessful. The pilot subsequently executed a forced landing to a road, and the airplane collided with a pole. 

The Pilot’s Operating Handbook stated that the airplane had about 3.1 hours of fuel endurance at cruise power. Responders to the accident site reported that there was no fuel in the fuel tanks. Further, after the accident, the pilot stated that the engine likely “ran out of gas.” Therefore, the engine lost power due to fuel exhaustion as a result of the pilot’s improper fuel planning.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s improper fuel planning, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion.

On January 17, 2016, at 1945 eastern standard time, a Cessna 152, N6135M, experienced a total loss of engine power and was unable to make the Madison Municipal Airport (52A), Madison, Georgia. The pilot subsequently made a forced landing to a road and struck a telephone pole with the left wing. The commercial pilot and the passenger were both seriously injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the firewall, left wing, and fuselage. The airplane was registered to a private company and operated by Florida Flyers Flight Academy under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual flight rules conditions existed near the accident site at the time of the accident. No flight plan was filed for the flight that originated from the Northeast Florida Regional Airport (SGJ), St. Augustine, Florida, about 1600, and was destined for the Gwinnett County - Briscoe Field Airport (LZU), Lawrenceville, Georgia. 

The pilot stated that he rented an airplane from his employer for the purpose of flying to his home in Georgia. As part of his pre-flight planning, he obtained the weather along the route of flight, which included a 20 knot headwind, and prepared a flight plan using Foreflight. The pilot said he visually checked each fuel tank before the flight and verified they were topped off for a total of 26 gallons (24.5 usable). He said he had sufficient fuel onboard for the 275.6 nautical mile flight and did not plan to stop for fuel. 

The pilot and his passenger departed St. Augustine at 1600 and climbed to an altitude of 5,500 ft. He said the flight was normal and when he was about 50 miles from Lawrenceville, he descended to 3,500 ft. Once level at the new altitude, and about 3.5 hours into the flight, the pilot noticed that the engine began to run rough. He turned on the carburetor heat, which seemed to restore power. The pilot contacted air traffic control and began a diversion to Madison. While en route to Madison, the engine ran rough again and lost power. The pilot trimmed the airplane for best glide speed and made several attempts to re-start the engine, but to no avail. The pilot realized he was not going to make the airport in Madison and made a forced landing to a road. The pilot did not recall what occurred after he landed. He said that he and his passenger were wearing there seatbelt and shoulder harnesses, but still sustained serious facial injuries. 

The pilot said that before takeoff he noted that the fuel gauges both indicated full. The last time he saw the fuel gauge was about an hour into the flight, when the right fuel gauge was "on empty" and the left fuel gauge indicated it was just below the "full" mark. The pilot said he had flown this airplane numerous times and this was a normal indication for the airplane. When asked what he thought caused the engine to lose power, he said, "It was most likely fuel starvation." When asked if he ran out of gas, he replied, "yes."

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector responded to the accident and observed that both of the airplane's fuel tanks were empty. According to an employee of the company that recovered the airplane, he stated that both wing tanks were intact and completely empty of any fuel. He also stated the firewall was wrinkled, the nose gear was bent aft, the right main landing gear had separated, and the left wing exhibited leading edge impact damage. There was no damage to the right wing.

A representative of Florida Flyers stated the airplane was fueled on the morning of the accident with 17.1 gallons of 100LL and was not flown until the accident flight. 

The Cessna 152 Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) states that with this fuel tank configuration (26 total gallons / 24.5 gallons usable fuel) the airplane has about 3.1 hours of fuel endurance at cruise power. 

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate for airplane single and multi-engine land airplane, and instrument airplane. He was also a certified flight instructor for airplane single-engine land and held a type rating for a SA-227 airplane. His last FAA first-class medical was issued on March 11, 2015, with a restriction to wear corrective lenses.

Weather at LZU, about 33 miles northwest of the accident site, at 1945, was reported as calm wind, visibility 10 miles, clear skies, temperature 7 degrees C, dewpoint 0 degrees C, and a barometric pressure setting of 29.85 inches of Hg.

CHRISTIANSEN AVIATION INC: http://registry.faa.gov/N6135M

NTSB Identification: ERA16LA091
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, January 17, 2016 in Madison, GA
Aircraft: CESSNA 152, registration: N6135M
Injuries: 2 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 17, 2016, at 1945 eastern standard time, a Cessna 152, N6135M, experienced a total loss of engine power and was unable to make the Madison Municipal Airport (52A), Madison, GA. The pilot subsequently made a forced landing to a road and struck a telephone pole with the left wing. The commercial pilot and the passenger were both seriously injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the firewall, left wing, and fuselage. The airplane was registered to a private company and operated by Florida Flyers Flight Academy under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed near the accident site at the time of the accident, and the fight was operated under a visual flight rules flight plan. The flight originated from the Northeast Florida Regional Airport (SGJ), St. Augustine, Florida, about 1400, and was destined for the Gwinnett County - Briscoe Field Airport (LZU), Lawrenceville, Georgia. 

A review of preliminary air traffic control communications revealed that the pilot told a controller that the airplane's engine was running rough and he wanted to land at 52A. The controller assisted the pilot and provided airport information. About three minutes later, the pilot told the controller that he was not going to make the airport. The controller provided a highway for the pilot to land on but there were no further communications from him. The controller contacted law enforcement, who had already been notified that the airplane had landed on a road.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector responded to the accident and observed that both of the airplane's fuel tanks were empty.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate for airplane single and multi-engine land airplane, and instrument airplane. He was also a certified flight instructor for airplane single-engine land and held a type rating for a SA-227 airplane.

Weather at LZU, about 33 miles northwest of the accident site, at 1945, was reported as calm wind, visibility 10 miles, clear skies, temperature 7 degrees C, dewpoint 0 degrees C, and a barometric pressure setting of 29.85 inches of Hg.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Atlanta FSDO-11



When McArthur Reid went outside to check his mailbox last Sunday evening, he never imagined a small plane would crash just feet away from his home. A Cessna 152 crashed around 8 p.m. in the middle of a residential neighborhood of Madison at the intersection of East Washington and Vine streets, badly injuring two men, the aircraft’s pilot and passenger—who are expected to survive. Fortunately, the plane crashed without hitting any homes or catching fire. Reid, 64, didn’t hesitate to help, immediately rushing over to the wreckage and pulling the two men inside out of the aircraft to a patch of nearby grass. “I was afraid there could have been a gas leak and the whole thing would blow,” said Reid. “I didn’t want anyone to get hurt.” 

As Reid approached the plane, the passenger side door was already open and the male passenger was hanging by his seatbelt partially outside of the aircraft. “He was out of it, but awake,” said Reid. After Reid removed the passenger from the plane, he and a friend moved the pilot. “Oh, the pilot was unconscious and hurt bad, he was bleeding all over me and everywhere,” said Reid. David and Jill Cooper, nearby neighbors, heard the crash from inside their home. “We heard such a big boom, I thought it was car bomb,” said Jill Cooper. Jill, a nurse at MCES, assisted the passenger of the plane before medical help arrived. The man, who Jill estimated to be in his mid-twenties, was disoriented, but talking. “He kept saying, ‘is this a dream? Tell me this is a dream,’” said Jill Cooper. “I tried to keep them talking until help got there.” The man then gave Jill his cell phone and asked her to call his girlfriend to tell her what happened. He also told her he was a helicopter pilot logging hours with a flight instructor in order to get his pilot’s license.

“The most important thing was to find family for him and let him know that family was on the way. That’s what I would want most, if I was on the side of the road someplace and injured.” Cooper was hopeful on account of how lucid the man was while waiting for medical attention. “It was amazing that he was talking,” said Jill, who noted the man was bleeding and believed his nose was broken. Jill thought the pilot has incurred more extensive injuries. “His head was hurting and he was in and out of consciousness,” said Jill Cooper. “I did what I could, but the real heroes were the Morgan County Fire and EMS and the Madison City Police,” said Jill Cooper.

Officials believe the plane’s pilot skillfully navigated the aircraft using streetlights as markers to put the plane on the ground in the safest manner possible. “I think they lined it with that street. It was very windy and they had no power, but he was able to line it up with that street with the streetlight and will live to tell about it,” said Madison City Manager David Nunn. According to Nunn, when the plane was crashing, only a wheel clipped a support power line wire, which broke off the top section of a pole. “It didn’t even knock out any power,” said Nunn. “The most amazing thing was how intact the plane was after the crash, with only the impact damaging the front end of the plane.” Both men were rushed to Athens Regional Medical Center for treatment. 

Local authorities believe the men were headed to the Gwinnet County Airport, originally departing from St. Augustine, Florida. Tim Carter, fire chief of Madison, spoke with the pilot and reported that he has been treated and released from the hospital. “For a crash like that, they were in pretty good shape,” said Carter. No news at this time about the passenger of the plane, but the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) reported that both the pilot and passenger are expected to live.

Source:  http://www.morgancountycitizen.com



MORGAN COUNTY, Ga. -- Residents of a Madison, Ga. neighborhood where a small plane crashed on Sunday are praising the pilot’s skill in landing the aircraft.

The plane crashed near the intersection of E. Washington Street and Vine Street around 7:45 p.m.

The Cessna 152 was headed from St. Augustine, Fla. to Lawrenceville, Ga. when it reported engine trouble.

McArthur Reid said he was headed home when the single-engine plane crashed just feet in front of him.  He rushed to get the two men out of the plane.

Jill Cooper compared the crash to a bomb.   A nurse, she called 911 and went to check on injuries. She said both men were conscious but confused. 

“They didn’t know where they were,” Cooper said. “’He said, ‘Where am I?’ I said, ‘You're in Madison, Georgia.’ He said 'oh my gosh, tell me this is a bad dream.'”

Witnesses report broken noses, bleeding faces, complaints of head injuries and perhaps a broken arm.  The men were clearly in pain, but able to walk and talk.  One was even alert enough to make a request.





US delays Cork Airport transatlantic route to Boston

The US authorities are in breach of the landmark EU-US Open Skies deal by delaying a license to the airline planning the first transatlantic flights from Cork Airport.

That’s the view of the European Commission which is expected to take on the US Department of Transportation (DOT) over the issue over the coming weeks as fears mount that the proposed Cork to Boston flights, due to launch in May, could be delayed by the lengthy impasse.

The 2007 Open Skies deal provides that any airline registered and approved by an EU member state may be granted traffic rights to fly from anywhere in the EU to anywhere in the US.

Low-cost carrier Norwegian applied to the DOT two years ago for a foreign carrier permit for its Dublin-based Norwegian Air International (NAI) — its Irish subsidiary — to operate flights from Cork to the US from May. It also plans to launch a Cork to New York service next year.

The announcement was hailed as a game-changer for Cork Airport and as a major boost for the region.

But after US airline and union objections, the license application process stalled. It is now the longest pending application of its kind.

A DoT spokesperson confirmed to the Irish Examiner over the weekend that NAI’s permit request is still being assessed.

“The application involves novel and complex issues, and we are taking the necessary time to evaluate the long-term application appropriately,” she said. “There is no statutory deadline or current estimate as to when the analysis will be complete.”

Amid calls for the government to intervene, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe confirmed he has been liaising with the EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc about the issue, and they held talks last month.

He said he is optimistic that the Commission will take the appropriate steps under the Open Skies agreement to help resolve the dispute. But he said the government’s position on this matter has been clear from the outset.

“NAI is an EU airline licensed by the Irish aviation authorities in full compliance with EU law,” he said. “As such it should be allowed to avail of the rights available to all EU airlines under the EU-US Open Skies Agreement.

“When first put in place back in 2007, the Open Skies Agreement with the US was designed to encourage innovative competition in the transatlantic air market.

“New services from smaller airports such as Cork, which have never had transatlantic services, is precisely the type of innovation that the agreement was designed to facilitate.”

He said both he and his his predecessor Leo Varadkar wrote to the US Secretary for Transportation outlining Ireland’s position, and that the matter has also been raised at a number of meetings with the US administration and by the Irish Ambassador in Washington over the last two years.

Despite the permit impasse, Norwegian says it’s still committed to launching the transatlantic routes out of Cork Airport.

But it said it can’t release tickets for sale, or announce fare details or flight times until it receives the permit.

Original article can be found here: http://www.irishexaminer.com

Accident occurred January 17, 2016 in Jamul, San Diego County, California

JAMUL, Calif. – A woman skydiver was seriously injured in an accident Sunday, a CalFire spokesman said.

The incident occurred at 2:25 p.m., when “a female skydiver made a hard landing” at a skydiving center near Otay Lakes, east of Chula Vista, Cal Fire PIO Capt. Kendal Bortisser said.

The skydiver was described as “injured and unresponsive,” Bortisser said. The woman was taken to Mercy Hospital.

Bortisser said the victim was a client at Skydive San Diego, 13531 Otay Lakes Road, in Jamul.

Its website describes it as a full-service skydiving facility with planes holding 18 to 23 jumpers. Skydive planes depart from Brown Field, fly over Imperial Beach and downtown San Diego before clients jump, according to the company’s website.

Source:  http://fox5sandiego.com



JAMUL  - A female skydiver was seriously injured in an accident Sunday afternoon, a CalFire spokesperson said.

The incident occurred at 2:25 p.m., when "a female skydiver made a hard landing" at a skydiving center near Otay Lakes, east of Chula Vista, Cal Fire PIO Capt. Kendal Bortisser said.
   
The skydiver was described as "injured and unresponsive," Bortisser said. "An air ambulance has been requested from Gillespie Field."
   
Bortisser said the victim was a client at Skydive San Diego, located at 13531 Otay Lakes Road in Jamul.
   
Its website describes it as a full-service skydiving facility with planes holding 18 to 23 jumpers.

Source:  http://www.cbs8.com



JAMUL, CA  - A female skydiver was seriously injured Sunday after making a hard landing.

Fire PIO Capt. Kendal Bortisser said the incident happened around 2:25 p.m. at a skydiving center near Otay Lakes, east of Chula Vista.

The skydiver was described as "injured and unresponsive,'' Bortisser said. "An air ambulance has been requested from Gillespie Field.''

Bortisser said the victim was a client at Skydive San Diego, 13531 Otay Lakes Road, in Jamul.

Its website describes it as a full-service skydiving facility with planes holding 18 to 23 jumpers.

Skydive planes depart from Brown Field, fly over Imperial Beach and downtown San Diego before clients jump, according to the company's website.

Source:  http://www.kusi.com

Berks County, Pennsylvania: Family story about man's grandfather leads to plane crash investigation

Michael R. Mercier Jr. of North Carolina, whose grandfather was bumped off a doomed flight during World War II, visits West Nantmeal Township on Sunday. Mercier has found pieces of metal, glass and plexiglass in an earthen depression in the township that he theorizes was the point of impact. 


WEST NANTMEAL TOWNSHIP, PA  --  In Dec. 1943, Alfred R. Mercier attempted to hitch a flight aboard a B-24 on a training mission to Reading Army Airfield so he could see his girlfriend, Mary Jane Rittenhouse, in West Lawn.

Mercier, an Army Air Corps dental technician at Will Rogers Field in Oklahoma, was bumped off the flight by Lt. George O'Brien.

At 11:30 p.m. Dec. 4, 1943, the modified B-24D crashed in a field in West Nantmeal Township, Chester County, about 25 air miles from the Reading airport.

Everyone aboard, except Sgt. John F. Gillespie of Philadelphia, was killed in the fiery crash that left an indelible imprint on the township's history.

Alfred Mercier died last year at age 94, but he told the story of his close call with death many times to his grandson Michael R. Mercier Jr. of North Carolina.

Inspired by the story, Michael Mercier spent five years investigating the crash that could have claimed his grandfather's life at the height of World War II.

Mercier, 38, a helicopter mechanic with the North Carolina National Guard, presented his findings Sunday at a meeting with members of the West Nantmeal Historical Commission.

"I believe I was able to pinpoint the location of the crash," said Mercier, who visited the site twice last year. "It was on the south side of Hedge Road."

As evidence, Mercier presented the commission with about 40 pieces of the plane he found with a metal detector. Two of the pieces unearthed had serial numbers identified as parts of a B-24 from a manual downloaded from the Internet.

The parts numbers, 32D2011-8R, matched the casing around one of the bomber's four engines, said Mercier, who is also a historian at the Camp Butner Military Museum in North Carolina. He supported his findings with photographs, maps and old newspaper stories about the crash.

Susan L. Ward, township secretary-treasurer, said Mercier's findings confirm research work done by the local historical commission.

"It's so exciting to get this information," she said. "We'll cherish it as part of our archive on the plane crash."

The crash

The ill-fated B-24 arrived in overcast weather that prevented the pilot from seeing the landing strip at Reading, then a military airport.

The plane had circled over Reading for more than an hour before heading for Philadelphia, the Reading Times reported on Dec. 6, 1943. Apparently low on fuel, the low-flying plane went down on a tract old maps show was heavily forested.

Burning upon impact, one of its engines was catapulted across Hedge Road into a farmer's field and parts were scattered over a wide area.

Mercier found pieces of metal, glass and plexiglass in an earthen depression that he theorizes was the point of impact.

Sgt. Gillespie, 22, was thrown from the plane and landed in a creek. Badly burned and with a broken back, he was taken to a hospital the Veterans Hospital in Coatesville.

Sgt. Vern A. Vanderlin of Detroit survived the initial impact but died in Reading Hospital.

Residents of the area, about 4 miles east of Elverson, rushed to the scene after hearing the explosion. Some older folks interviewed by the historical commission say the wreckage was cleared within a day.

The quick response was not unusual for the crash of a long range bomber in wartime.

But Mercier noted the F-7, a modified B-24D attached to the 20th Combat Mapping Squadron, was a reconnaissance plane equipped for aerial photography. Officially, Army Air Corps investigators ruled the cause was pilot error.

A personal journey

Some of Michael Mercier's fondest memories are of childhood visits to his grandparents in West Lawn.

His grandfather told him the story of how he met his grandmother at a USO dance in Reading.

"They went against the USO rules and exchanged phone numbers," Mercier said. "They were married in 1944 and were together for 691/2 years."

Mary Jane Rittenhouse Mercier, who lived her entire life in West Lawn, died at age 91 in 2014.

An avid genealogist with an interest in military history, Mercier felt compelled to visit the crash site that figured so prominently in his family's history.

With the discovery of the plane's fragments, his personal quest was pretty much complete.

His grandparents gone, he has little reason to make the seven-hour drive from North Carolina to Berks County.

On Sunday, after meeting with the commission in the West Nantmeal Township building, Mercier made what could be his last visit to the B-24 crash site.

"I guess it's a kind of closure," he said. "If it weren't for that officer that bumped my grandfather off the flight, none of my family would be here."

Elizabeth Marks, a member of the commission, was touched by the sincerity of Mercier's quest.

"It's enriching," she said. "You can feel his emotion in your spirit."

- Story and photo gallery:  http://www.readingeagle.com

Fire crews battle blaze at Parafield airport in South Australia

More than 30 firefighters have contained a blaze at a flight training facility at Parafield airport, north of Adelaide.

The Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) said 12 trucks were sent to the fire.

"The incident was called in by multiple triple-0 callers just prior to 7:00am ... advising an air conditioning unit was on fire on the roof of the building," a spokeswoman said.

The fire quickly spread throughout the building on Kittyhawk Lane.

Fire and Rescue authorities said they rescued a person who was trapped in a car.

Source:  http://www.abc.net.au

Airline criticized for charging job applicants $65 to interview for open positions • Air Europa Express, a newly launched subsidiary of Air Europa, has been criticized for 'abusive measure' in a country with 21 percent unemployment




Unions have slammed Spanish budget airline Air Europa Express for charging candidates for the privilege of having an interview for jobs in a country where unemployment stands at 21 percent.

Applicants for the 100 pilot and 150 cabin crew positions at the newly launched company - a subsidiary of Air Europa - had to pay €60 (£45) to get their shot at a job, union representatives said.

“Charging for an evaluation of candidates is inadmissible”, the pilots’ association Copac said in a statement.

Copac said such a policy was an “unlawful attack on the principles of equal opportunities and non-discrimination in the labor market”.

“If they asked for 60 euros this time, what may they charge the next time?” said Isaac Valero, a representative of the USO trade union at Air Europa.

“Faced with an ever more precarious labor market with over 20 per cent of the active population out of work, this is clearly a disgraceful and abusive new measure which only contributes to making it harder for people to access employment”.

Mr. Valero said that his union had received a copy of an e-mail which the airline sent to candidates demanding the 60-euro fee.

Air Europa Express began flying on Monday between Valencia and Palma de Mallorca and plans to use 11 small planes on domestic and European routes.

A spokesman for Globalia, which owns Air Europa, said the company had no comment to make on the accusations, merely confirming that the new low-cost carrier had conducted interviews for positions in the new subsidiary.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk



Budget airline charges €60 for cabin crew job interviews in Spain

A low-cost airline in Spain has been slammed for illegally charging candidates to apply for jobs as pilots and cabin crew.

A subsidiary of Spanish airline Air Europa illegally charged candidates €60 euros ($65) to apply for jobs as pilots and cabin crew, unions said Wednesday.

The final interviews for 100 jobs as pilots and 150 positions as cabin crew at Air Europa Express, the airline's low-cost subsidiary, were held on Tuesday at a hotel in the Mediterranean city of Valencia, they said.

"If this time they asked for 60 euros, we have no idea what they may charge the next time," said Isaac Valero, a representative of Spanish trade union, Union Sindical Obrera at Air Europa.

The union received a copy at the beginning of January of an e-mail which the airline sent to candidates for jobs demanding the fee, he added.   

Air Europa Express began operating on Monday.

The Spanish Guild of Commercial Aviation Pilots (COPAC) has filed a complaint with the local labour and social security inspectorate "because any selection process should be based on professional criteria," said COPAC spokesman Miguel Angel San Emeterio.

"Any type of charge is immoral," he said.    

Charging to apply for a job is "illegal" because it violates the principle of non-discrimination in access to employment, he added.    

An Air Europa spokesman did not confirm that job candidates were charged a fee, saying only that the company was "very pleased" with the selection process for staff for its low cost subsidiary.

Air Europa, owned by tourism company Globalia, is the third largest air carrier of passengers in Spain.

Spain is grappling with an unemployment rate of just over 21 percent, the highest in the European Union barring Greece.

Source:  http://www.thelocal.es

Penn Yan Flying Club marks 75th year

This July 1947 photo shows a club member helping a prepare a plane for takeoff.

The Penn Yan Flying Club used a barn as a hangar. Note the Esso gas pump in front.



PENN YAN — For 75 years, Finger Lakes flying aficionados have had a place to gather and take to the skies.

Last month, the Penn Yan Flying Club marked the anniversary of its incorporation in 1940 — and the club is planning several events in the coming year to celebrate the milestone.

Brendan Henehan of Geneva has been a club member since he was 11 years old. Now 41, he is a flight instructor at the club, housed at the Penn Yan Airport on Bath Road. His wife, Shelly, and their three sons all love to fly and Shelly Henehan said her husband wants to teach her how to pilot a plane.

Currently in the Henehans’ possession is a box full of club memorabilia that provides a glimpse of the club’s evolution and a bygone era.

For just a $40 incorporation fee, the Penn Yan Flying Club was officially formed in 1940. Its first board of directors included Roswell Smith, Marvin Allison, Sidney Reed, John Barden, Frank Bentz, Lynn Hurlbut and Layton D. Bailey. Their certificate of incorporation listed the following as the club’s mission:

• Advance the science of aeronautics
• Encourage interest in aviation
• Develop aviation
• Provide economical flying rates for its members
• To bring to more people the social benefits and pleasures of flying activities

A written history of the club through 1973, compiled by George Fullagar, chairman of the Historian Committee, indicated that the club had grown to 153 members from its starting membership of 24. Today, the club boasts about ... MEMBERS.

Among them is Paul Middlebrook of Penn Yan, who officially joined in 1962 but frequented the flying club as a youngster mowing grass and washing airplanes.

After World War II flying clubs were forming throughout the Fingers Lakes — in Middlesex, Hall, Geneva and Dundee, Middlebrook said.

Middlebrook’s father, Harold, was an aviation enthusiast well versed in aircraft maintenance. Originally from Middlesex, Harold Middlebrook was a flight instructor during World War II and moved to Penn Yan after the war, starting Penn Yan Aero in the flying club’s barn. Paul Middlebrook said the club was using a barn as a hangar and his father converted part of it into a shop.

For Middlebrook, the club was where he pursued both his avocation and vocation. He learned to fly there and soloed on his 16th birthday, “before I had a driver’s license.” An engineer by trade, Middlebrook helped put himself through college by giving flight lessons. He flew helicopters in Vietnam and when he returned to Penn Yan worked for and eventually became president of Seneca Flight Operations.

Through it all, he witnessed the club’s growth. Middlebrook said the Penn Yan Flying Club can lay claim as one of the longest continuous acting clubs because it functioned during World War II — when federal regulations called for 24-hour guard at airports (or removing the plane’s propellers). Middlebrook recalled how club members during the war flew security patrols on the Lake Ontario border.

The club history described the civil air patrol unit that was organized and drilled weekly and offered a firsthand account of an all-night guard shift:

“The weather was most inclement with the mercury hovering at the zero degree mark. Since our only heat was the round oak stove ... the temperature inside the building approximated 100 at the ceiling and about 32 at the floor. There was a ‘one-armed’ bandit in which we fed nickels most of the night. About 2 a.m. we decided to call Marv Allison and tell him we had 21 [Japanese] and wanted his opinion as to what to do with them. Since he had been called from a warm bed to answer this call, I might say he told us what we could do with them, but it doesn’t lend itself to looking good on the printed page.”

By the early 1950s the club’s popular July 4th Fly-in Breakfast was started — which continues to this day and is its largest fundraiser. In 1973, 1,600 people were served at the breakfast; by 2011, club members were preparing about 2,600 meals. In a 2012 Times story, former club treasurer Harvey Greenberg talked about the hard work of putting on the event, but the reward of seeing about 100 planes fly in for breakfast.

“For a small airport like Penn Yan it’s a magnificent sight,” he said. “For one fleeting moment we were like LaGuardia.”

Also in the 1950s, the club installed a 25-by-2,350 gravel runway since tail wheel aircraft were being replaced by airplanes that could not operate from soft ground or on skis in the winter. This evolved into a 50-by-3,200-foot paved runway by 1973.
Middlebrook said the 1970s was a period of growth both for the club and commercial aviation. Club members took shifts on the weekend to serve members of the public who came in. Because the club operated the airport, members also needed business skills. But Middlebrook said he long pushed for the club to seek a municipal sponsor. That occurred in 1993 when Yates County took over operation of the only runway and later expanded the airport. The Flying Club negotiated use of the county airport and kept 10 acres so members who own planes can build their own hangar on club property; Middlebrook said there are 13 now besides the club’s hangar that houses its four aircraft.

Although Middlebrook retired one year ago from flying, he still frequents the club and was there working on a plane one morning last week

He called aviation “a disease; it gets in your blood and there it is ...,” he said. “Yes, the club has been a very important part of my life.”

It’s also been an important part of Yates County life, too, reflecting the growth of aviation and its infiltration into industry after World War II.

Brendan Henehan, who joined the club in 1986 when he was 11, compared flying to a mosquito bite — once you’re bitten all you want to do is scratch it.

“Back then there would be chairs out by the runway and members who weren’t out flying would just hang out watching the planes come and go, it was a great memory and one which molded my thoughts of aviation,” Henehan wrote in an email.

“After I flew the first time when I was 11, I knew it would be a huge part of the rest of my life. The club is made of people whom have all been bitten by the same mosquito and all understand the same addiction. We all feel the rest of the world needs to experience the same passion we feel for flying, which they would if they ever had the opportunity to be at the controls of a mechanical magic carpet into the wild blue yonder.”

Story and photo gallery: http://www.fltimes.com






Halliburton Field Airport (KDUC) gets new program, infrastructure repairs

Public Works Director and City Engineer Ron Kroop examines cracks in the runway.

Area firefighters join Sheppard Air Force Base representatives for a training day.



Halliburton Airfield in Duncan received a lot of attention during 2015.

Not only are major improvements at Duncan’s runway underway, but also a pilot training program from Sheppard Air Force Base has found a temporary home here in Duncan.

In July 2015, representatives from Sheppard Air Force Base approached Duncan’s Airport Commission for permission to use Duncan’s airfield for touch-and-go flight practice for soon-to-be pilots.

For more than 20 years, Sheppard Air Force Base conducted its T-6 training and other types of flight training at Hacker, an auxiliary field located in Frederick, about 70 miles west of Duncan.

After copious amounts of precipitation in May 2015, the rainiest month on record for the region, Turner said subsequential runway infrastructure damages were found at the airfield, rendering the flight zone useless for Sheppard Air Force Base.

Duncan’s Airport Commission and Duncan’s City Council approved the measure and allowed Sheppard to use the field for training.

However, as two projects started in December, Sheppard pulled their training from Duncan back to homebase until project completion.

These projects include pavement rehabilitation and runway lighting upgrades, which are proceeding simultaneously though on two separate contracts, according to Public Works Director Ron Kroop.

Pavement Conservation Specialists Inc., of Tulsa, serves as the contractor for the rehab project totaling $534,071 with design and inspection. While then number seems pricey, Duncan will only pay out $26,388, or 5 percent for the project, because Oklahoma’s Aeronautic Commission is paying for 67 percent of the project while the Federal Aviation Administration picks up the remaining 28 percent.

The runway lighting upgrade totals $351,606 with design and inspection.

“The new lights and fixtures will be LED which will be brighter and use less energy,” Kroop said of the project contracted under Williams Electric LLC of Oklahoma City.

Once again, City of Duncan will share costs with FAA and only see 10 percent, or $35,161, come out of its pocket.

Story and photos:  http://www.duncanbanner.com

Navy flight instructor said scouting helped prepare him for the military

Lt. Ty Kerstiens talks Saturday in Muscle Shoals about his job with the Navy.

Lt. Ty Kerstiens talks Saturday in Muscle Shoals to Domenick Crocitto, second from left, about the T45. Lt. Kerstiens, who was an Eagle Scout, met with Boy Scouts and showed off his plane.


MUSCLE SHOALS — Lt. John Tyson Kerstiens said there is nothing routine about landing a fighter jet on the deck of an aircraft carrier, even if it’s something you’ve been doing for years.

You’ve flown your mission and now you’re approaching the carrier at 120-150 mph, then come to a sudden stop.

“It’s definitely violent,” the Killen native said. “It takes every bit of focus.”

And he’s done it nearly 300 times.

Kerstiens, 30, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and a U.S. Navy flight instructor, shared some of his experiences with a group of Shoals Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts on Saturday afternoon at the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport.

He’s about to be deployed to Bahrain to work with the Fifth Fleet, but for the past three years or so, Kerstiens has been training new Navy pilots at the Naval Air Base in Meridian, Mississippi.

The new pilots, Kerstiens said, already have primary flight training when they arrive. What he and the other instructors teach is intermediate and advanced jet training, which involves becoming familiar with the aircraft and their instrumentation, landings, the basics of weapons delivery, flying in formation and low level tactical navigation.

At the end of the training, the new pilots get to land on an actual aircraft carrier.

In all, the training takes about a year to complete. Kerstiens said the instructors each usually have four to eight students.

“We get a new class every month,” he said. “We’ve got somewhere around 140 students in training at any one time between the two squadrons in Meridian.”

Flying fighter aircraft is something Kerstiens has wanted to do since he was a boy. He enlisted in the Navy after he graduated from Brooks High School.

He is also an Eagle Scout and believes scouting helped him prepare for a career in the military.

“Yes absolutely, the discipline, working through advancement, the merit badges and ranks, from the tenderfoot ranks to eagle scout,” Kierstiens said. “I thought that it prepared me well for the military.”

Kerstiens was accompanied by another flight instructor, Matt Axley, 31, a graduate of Bradshaw High School in Florence.

Axley has been in the Navy for seven years. He said he always wanted to fly and flew solo the first time out of Northwest Alabama Regional Airport. While he always wanted to fly, he didn’t know if it would be for the military or a commercial airline. His decision was made after a visit with a Navy recruiter.

Both he and Kerstiens have flown combat missions in the Middle East.

Kerstiens explained that once you’ve spent three years on a ship or in a combat zone, the Navy lets you come home and spend some time with your family, then spend another three years training new pilots.

While Kerstiens has completed his stint as an instructor, Axley is just beginning his.

Axley began flying when he was 14 in Bristol, Virginia.

Like Kerstiens, Axley said landing an aircraft on an aircraft carrier “is a blast.”

“Just about every one is white knuckle,” he said.

After he and Kerstiens spoke to the scouts, they took them outside to see the T-45 Goshawk training jet they flew to Muscle Shoals. One by one, nearly 50 kids climbed up and peeked into the cockpit and talked to the enthusiastic pilots

Wesley Smith, 16, an Eagle Scout from Rogersville, took his first solo flight in August. He started flying when he was 15. He is a member of Troop 53 in Rogersville.

Smith said he’s interested in a career in aviation, but is unsure if he wants to be a commercial or military pilot.

And yes, Kerstiens and Axley both have call signs or nicknames. Kerstiens is “Scooter” and Axley is “Baby Bear.”

Axley laughed when asked how much of what he and Kerstiens do is like the movie “Top Gun.”

“That’s classified,” he said.

Story and photos:  http://www.timesdaily.com

Incident occurred January 17, 2016 at Austin Straubel International Airport (KGRB), Green Bay, Brown County, Wisconsin

ASHWAUBENON – An inbound commercial jet landed without incident at Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport on Sunday morning after a smoke-alarm indicator light activated inside the aircraft.

Roland Herwig, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration in its Oklahoma City center, said the light came on in the cockpit of ExpressJet Airlines flight 5647 from Atlanta before its scheduled landing about 8:30 a.m.

“We had a pilot report an indicator light saying there was smoke in the lavatory,” Herwig said.

Local emergency crews responded on the ground as the plane safely arrived at the airport, but no smoke was found in the lavatory, Herwig said.

The flight from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport didn’t have any passengers on board, rather a small flight crew that included two pilots, flight attendants and a mechanic, said Lt. Steve Perry from the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, which had an officer on scene.

“It was a plane that was being shuttled to Green Bay to take passengers out,” Perry said.

Perry said the on-board mechanic diagnosed and fixed the malfunction before the plane landed at Austin Straubel.

“There was no impact; the aircraft landed normally,” Herwig said. “The pilot let us know that he had a light (go on), and the appropriate response was made.”

The flight-tracking website FlightAware.com indicated the ExpressJet aircraft, a Canadair Regional Jet CRJ-700, landed at Austin Straubel at 8:28 a.m. after a one-hour, 47-minute flight from the Atlanta airport.

Calls made to ExpressJet Airlines weren't returned Sunday.

The airline, which is based in Atlanta, is a subsidiary of SkyWest Inc. ExpressJet operates daily flights to more than 180 airports in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean as American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express, according to its website.

Source: http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com



At 8:26 a.m. on Sunday law enforcement officials responded to an emergency call involving an inbound aircraft at Green Bay’s Austin Straubel International Airport, according to the Brown County Sheriff’s office.

Action 2 News spoke with a representative from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and airport security operations.

A TSA spokesperson says she was not aware of the situation and therefore it is not likely a security related emergency.

The TSA deferred comments to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

The FAA could not be reached for comment.

Austin Straubel International Airport officials declined to comment.

Action 2 News is on the scene.

Story and photo:  http://wbay.com

Dog on runway delays four flights

A stray dog was spotted on Mumbai Airport runway Sunday afternoon after which, two flights were ordered to go around while two waited in the parking area. The dog sighting led to flight operations being suspended for almost half-an-hour. Only later when airport private security guards took the dog out did operations resume.

An official from Mumbai Airport confirmed the incident and said that the runway was shut down between 3 pm and 3.35 pm with four aircraft of three airlines directed to wait as an animal on the runway can cause harm to the aircraft. Later, the dog was taken out and an inspection conducted before operations resumed.

Airport sources said that among the affected flights was an Indigo aircraft supposed to take off for Hyderabad at around 3.40 pm which took off at around 4.28 pm instead. Another Indigo flight arriving from Delhi was affected and air traffic control officials asked the pilot to circle until the runway was cleared. 

Similarly, a Spice Jet flight arriving from Goa as well as a Go Air flight arriving from Chennai at around 3.30pm were told to go around till the runway was cleared. Commenting on the incident, a senior official from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said, “As today is a Sunday, we will get the report about the incident on a working day after which, we will think about ordering an inquiry upon knowing the actual incident.”

An activist who earlier worked at the airport to prevent bird hits said, “There are many vulnerable areas at Mumbai Airport from where stray dogs and cats enter inside and there is a lot of work needed in these areas.

The airport is surrounded by slums so people living in these slums often break or encroach the boundary wall and open the gates of the gutter which creates a path for stray animals. There have been several instances of runway intrusions in the past as well.” Earlier on October 18, a pilot of an Indigo aircraft scheduled to depart for Kochi from Mumbai Airport had informed the Air Traffic Control tower (ATC) about a dog crossing the primary runway.

ATC checked but could not find any dog.

The confusion began when the body of a dead dog was on from the runway after this flight took off. According to sources, “The dog was observed to be brutally killed.”

Later, DGCA ordered an inquiry as an animal on the runway can harm the aircraft with dead body parts entering the flight engine, ultimately leading to disaster.

In October last year, mutilated remains of a dog was found on the city airport's runway. The pilot of an airline flying to Kochi had reported that a dog was seen crossing the primary runway. After the authorities undertook a search, the dog's remains were found. The officials came to the conclusion that animal was run over by an aircraft during its take off.

With Iran Sanctions Gone, Airbus Expects Huge Order

Now that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed that Iran has completed the “preparatory steps” that lead to the lifting of economic sanctions against the country, there are likely to be some major economic impacts on other countries and businesses. One business that could be a big loser is the oil industry, while a big winner now appears to be Airbus Group SE and, potentially, The Boeing Company. 

The Middle East oil industry is taking a few hits Sunday morning on an Iranian announcement that it plans to raise production by about 1.5 million barrels a day to 4.2 million barrels by the end of this year according to a report at CNN. This is not exactly new news, and we would have expected that the increase was already priced in.

Iran has been barred from buying new aircraft from Western makers since the 1970s, and demand for new planes could be as high as 500 planes at a rate of 50 planes a year for a decade.

The expected deal with Airbus has been in the making for some time, and Iran’s transportation minister said on Saturday that the country’s flag carrier, Iran Air, will buy 114 Airbus passenger jets as it sets out to upgrade a fleet of 45 planes with an average age of 26.8 years. According to a report from Bloomberg, the airline will acquire new and used A320s and out-of-production A340s with first deliveries as early as July.

Iran Air currently flies 13 Airbus A300s, 2 A310s, and 6 A320-200s. None is less than 20 years old, way past retirement age for a modern passenger fleet, according to Planespotters.

The airline also includes 6 Boeing 747s in its fleet and the average age of the 4 747-200s is 35 years and the average age of the 2 747SPs is 37.7 years. An Iranian official noted that the airline is considering adding Boeing 737s and 777s to its fleet.

Source:   http://247wallst.com

President Obama on Friday empowered the secretary of state to allow the export of civilian passenger aircraft to Iran.

In 2010, Congress granted Obama the authority to allow exports of goods, services, or technologies to Iran if he determines those sales "to be in the national interest," USA Today reported. 

On Friday, Obama delegated that authority to Secretary of State John Kerry through a presidential memorandum, a presidential directive similar to an executive order.

Obama’s decree came ahead of the implementation day of last year nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

“The [nuclear] agreement makes two exceptions: Iran can buy US civilian passenger aircraft, and sell certain crafts – specifically carpets and rugs – to the United States”, USA Today said.

US sanctions ban the sale of aircraft and parts to Iran. Under an interim nuclear deal in 2013, the West eased the ban on sales of spare parts but selling planes is still prohibited.

Western sanctions are the biggest enemy of Iran’s aviation which has been plagued by a series of air crashes, claiming the lives of hundreds of Iranians.

The nuclear accord reached with Tehran last July has provided Iran with a chance to renew its fleet of commercial aircraft.

Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi has said that Iran would need to buy 500 commercial aircraft of various models at a cost of $50 billion.

Iran’s civil aviation fleet consists of 248 aircraft with an average age of 20 years, 100 of which are grounded, he has said.

Original article can be found here:  http://www.iran-daily.com

Passengers forced to disembark Montego Bay/London flight

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica, Jan. 16, CMC – Passengers on board a Virgin Atlantic Flight destined for London , were forced to disembark shortly after boarding at the Sangster International Airport late Friday.

The Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) reports that shortly after 9pm the flight scheduled to depart Montego Bay for London when pilots saw an indication of fire and executed the emergency procedure, which led to passengers and crew leaving the aircraft.

However, checks by maintenance crew found no physical indication of a fire, instead they discovered a faulty switch in the fire detection system resulted in the false alarm.

The passengers were allowed to return to the plane, however when some passengers became disruptive and security personnel were forced to intervene.

When disturbance was quelled, the pilot’s duty time was exhausted and the flight cancelled.

Arrangements for accommodation were made for the passengers.

The flight is scheduled to depart on Saturday.

Source:  http://antiguaobserver.com

Stories of War: WWII veteran Gene Sweeney reflects on lessons learned as Navy pilot

Editor's Note
This story is a continuation of a Kokomo Tribune effort to record the memories of area veterans who served during World War II. Of the 16 million men and women who served during this time, fewer than 1 million remain living. The KT is also collecting documents, photographs, audio and video, letters and other memorabilia from each veteran we interview. If you would like to share your story of service, please contact City Editor Jill Bond at jill.bond@kokomotribune.com or by phone at 765-454-8578.


Veteran Gene Sweeney flew planes in the Navy during World War II. He's pictured here on Tuesday, January 12, 2016. 

Gene Sweeney was in naval aviation during World War II.

World War II veteran Gene Sweeney (right).
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Gene Sweeney has tried to take advantage of the opportunities in front of him, and at the age of 19, that meant enlisting in the Navy’s aviation program, a venture that would take him around the country and put him in the pilot’s seat for the first time in his life.

Sweeney, 92, who retired to Kokomo in 2003, joined the Navy in 1943. He served for three years as World War II was winding down, completing training in five cities across the country. He was commissioned and received his pilot wings in 1945 in Corpus Christi, Texas, and then began training cadet pilots at the Naval Air Station in Glenview, Illinois, near where Sweeney is originally from. In 1946, he was placed on inactive reserve for three years and made the transition back to civilian life.

“Fortunately I spent most of my time in the continental United States. I got out and did a lot of flying along the Gulf of Mexico during the latter years,” he said, easily recalling dates and events that happened decades earlier. “I wasn’t commissioned until 1945 in June, so I kind of got in on the end of the war. Things were winding down.”

A sense of duty to serve his country prompted Sweeney to enlist in the Navy. At that time, people saw military service as a natural step for young men sorting out what to do with their lives.

“Those of us who served, I think we figured that we got in and did our time and got out and now we have to get back to normal life,” Sweeney said. “Maybe it was easier in my situation than it would have been for somebody who didn’t have it as good as I had it. I look at it as a training experience, an educational experience and I have no regrets about it. I was ready and willing to serve, and I did so.”

Learning to fly

In 1942, as a college student in Missouri, Sweeney knew his draft number was coming up, so he decided to apply for the Navy’s aviation program when he was home in the Chicago area for Thanksgiving break that year. He then enrolled at Western Michigan University for a semester to complete some “preflight” coursework. At that time, the aviation program required prospective pilots to have two years of college experience before enlisting, so Sweeney was deferred from being drafted until July 1943.

“I had wanted to fly and I guess fight for the country, so to speak, so that’s why I got into the aviation cadet program,” he said. “I didn’t have any flying experience before.”

Sweeney started his aviation cadet training at DePauw University in Greencastle, then headed out to Ogden, Utah, for more training at Webster State University and a War Training Service Center there.

That was the first time Sweeney flew a plane on his own, practicing in the Piper Cub aircraft that were popular in the military at that time. From Ogden, Utah, Sweeney and the other 12 to 15 aviation cadets in his “flight” moved on to St. Mary’s College of California and then the University of Oklahoma.

Sweeney says he developed close friendships with his fellow cadet pilots during the training, though they lost touch a few years after being discharged.

“You get into things like formation flying and gunnery runs and that sort of thing,” he said. “You kind of get to the point where you know what the other guy is going to be doing. If he’s flying on your wing and you’re going into some maneuvers, it’s good to know he also has had the training and is able to do the right things.”

Sweeney got in a car accident in Corpus Christi, Texas, that delayed his training, but finally he was commissioned in June 1945. He went through “pre-operational” training flying different types of aircraft, and his favorite plane to fly was the SBD dive bomber.

“We had regular flight duties, but they weren’t necessarily missions,” he explained. “We did a lot of surveillance work. The Nazis were bringing in German submarines and coming into the gulf in World War II and actually trying to disrupt shipping and attack the American ships. We didn’t have a lot of Naval ships in the gulf. There were a few, but the Nazis were always trying to make headlines and take advantage of that.”

Being a Navy pilot


Navy pilots would try to locate and track the Nazi submarines to make sure they weren’t actively attacking.

“We dropped a few depth charges (bombs set to go off under the surface) and so on to get after them,” Sweeney said. “I don’t think we ever really destroyed anything, but we did get them out of the gulf area.”

He recalls one time he noticed the wake caused by a submarine’s periscope above the surface of the water and following the submarine. He didn’t have any weapons on his plane at that time, so he tracked the submarine and called for back-up.

“I fortunately didn’t really see any combat. It was getting near the end of the war and things were winding down. Those who did stay on – there were a few – they wound up getting into the Korean War if they stayed long enough,” Sweeney said. “We got a good idea about what was going on and the fact that we were losing men. We knew we needed to get out of there. Our biggest opponent was the Japanese. In the years I was going through the training, the Japanese became known for their kamikaze, flying their own aircraft right into our ships to try to sink them that way.”

Sweeney was selected for basic flight training to become a cadet instructor and spent six weeks at the Naval Air Station in New Orleans. His cross-country travels came full circle at that point when he was stationed back in the Chicago area at Glenview Naval Air Station to lead cadets. Safety was the focus of that stage of their training, as they practiced the three-point landings they would have to do on Navy aircraft carriers.

“All the procedures and everything we were teaching had to do with safety in one way or another,” he said. “With flying in the Navy, for the single engine that we were, it was boarding carriers, landing on carriers and taking off of carriers. There were all these situations there that as a pilot you had to become aware of.”

Sweeney got the chance to leave active duty in the fall of 1946 and took it. With World War II ending, the Navy suddenly had more pilots than it could use, so Sweeney headed back to civilian life.

“Finally the war did get over and a lot of people had to pick up the pieces when they came home,” he said.

Returning to civilian life

The reception for veterans returning from World War II was warm, Sweeney felt, but he saw that change as the Vietnam War waged on from the ‘50s to ‘70s.

“The general public didn’t take too kindly to the [Vietnam] War,” he said. “There was a different attitude [during World War II]. I don’t think there was a lack of respect on my part and the people I associated with. I don’t think we liked the idea of a war over there, but at least we could accept it for what it was. … When we were coming back from the World War II service, there was a greater effect of patriotism. As a veteran coming back, I think we were more honored than some of the ones coming back from Vietnam.”

By the time he got out of the Navy, Sweeney’s family had moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, so he went to live with his parents there while getting re-acclimated after his service. He ended up enrolling at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and lived in a private residence set aside for himself and five other veterans. Sweeney found out a girl from his hometown, Anita, also was attending Lawrence University, so they reconnected and ended up getting married in 1947.

After another year at Lawrence University, the newlyweds moved back to the Chicago area. Sweeney finally completed his degree in business and industrial management at what was then known as Aurora College in Chicago. He started working as a mechanical engineer, which brought his family – including his four children at that point – to Kokomo in 1967. They moved away to Cincinnati, Ohio, and Indianapolis before returning to Kokomo in 2003 when Sweeney retired; his daughter and her husband have taught in Kokomo for decades. Anita passed away in 2006 after 59 years of marriage to Gene.

Now, Sweeney spends nearly every morning getting coffee with a group of five or six veterans at McDonald’s. They talk about changes over the years in the various requirements to enlist in different branches of the military, what the training is like and what kind of educational opportunities servicemen and woman receive.

Sweeney’s home in the Westbrook neighborhood just south of Kokomo High School is full of family photos, and he has well-kept scrapbooks documenting his time in the military as well as every phase of his life.

“I have no regrets of course at this late stage in my life,” he said. “I look back and think [the Navy] was a very good experience. The training was good, and I appreciated the opportunity. It worked out well for me.”

Stoy, video, and photo gallery: http://www.kokomotribune.com