Saturday, January 30, 2016

Cessna TR182 Turbo Skylane RG, N756RR: Incident occurred January 29, 2016 in Reynosa, Tamaulipas

TAMAULIPAS, MEXICO (KGNS) - A small private plane's surprise emergency landing in Mexico not only shocks drivers on a busy highway, but also has a potential connection to Laredo. 

The two people piloting the Cessna plane say they started experiencing engine problems while on the way to Monterrey, Mexico from Reynosa and landed to avoid a crash.

According to reports, there were several suitcases inside the plane holding bundles of cash.

About five million 424,000 pesos, or just under three hundred thousand American dollars.

According to Breibart Texas, the plane is registered to Carlos Humberto Diez De Pinos of Laredo.

According to records from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the plane flew two trips from McAllen to Monterrey Mexico in the past 45 days and the flight plan for this trip was not listed in public records.

Also in records, De Pinos owns four planes in total including a larger personal jet for a small crew.

The two men piloting the plane were arrested and it is believed they are a part of a cash transporting operation with drug ties.

Story and video:  

Breitbart Texas traveled to the Mexican States of Tamaulipas and Coahuila to recruit citizen journalists willing to risk their lives and expose the cartels silencing their communities. The writers would face certain death at the hands of the various cartels that operate in those areas including the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas if a pseudonym were not used. Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles are published in both English and in their original Spanish. This article was written by Reynosa’s “A.C. Del Angel”.

REYNOSA, Tamaulipas — Suspected cartel cash smugglers failed in their attempt to use a small private airplane to move a large quantity of money from the Texas border city of McAllen to the Mexican city of Monterrey. According to information provided by Mexican authorities to Breitbart Texas, the airplane is a U.S. Cessna registered to Carlos Humberto Diez De Pinos in Laredo, Texas. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) records verify the registration of the aircraft and further lists the individual as the sole owner

The airplane’s tail number is N756RR and a serial number R18201139.

According to FAA records, the aircraft has flown two trips in the past 45 days from McAllen, Texas, to Monterrey, Mexico. The flight plan for this specific trip was not listed in public records. De Pinos is listed by the FAA as owning four aircraft in total: this Cessna 182, a Cessna 172, a Cessna 414, and a Falcon 10 — a large personal jet.

De Pinos was not flying the Cessna 182 at the time of the incident and his relationship to the arrested individuals is unknown at this time. FAA records indicate that De Pinos is a pilot who is unable to legally fly charter flights or passengers for hire. Breitbart Texas spoke with the Laredo Police Department and confirmed that the aircraft has not been reported stolen as of 12:04 pm CST on the date of this article’s publication.

The airplane was leaving McAllen when, according to information provided by Mexican Civil Protection, the Cessna airplane experienced engine failure resulting in an emergency landing along the highway that connects this border city to the Anzalduas international bridge.

The airplane was being flown by Alvaro Martinez de Leon from Aguascalientes and Carlos Salas Patino Gomez from Gomez Palacio Durango. Neither the two people on the plane nor any motorist traveling along the highway were injured by the rough landing. However, motorists were surprised by the rare sight of an airplane on a local highway. 

  Mexican authorities and military forces rushed to the area to provide first aid, however, the aid operation turned into a criminal matter when they ended up finding various suitcases filled with bundles of Mexican pesos. Authorities arrested the two pilots and took them to the Reynosa headquarters of Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office. Investigators later determined that there were more than $5 million pesos in the suitcases.

Mexican cartels move drugs north into large American cities, and then move their cash proceeds south into Mexico. The practice is referred to as cash smuggling since cartel couriers are forced to sneak their cash loads around U.S. authorities as well as Mexican customs officials.

Property tax records for De Pinos indicate that he owns a small, modest home in Laredo, Texas–the address at which all four aircraft are registered. Though De Pinos is legally the owner, it is common for individuals in Mexico to have a relative or an employee who live in the U.S., especially in the case of criminal organizations, register the aircraft as their own even though the individual or group in Mexico is really the owner. This is done so that the aircraft is U.S.-registered and Mexican bureaucracy–and increased U.S. and Mexican authorities’ scrutiny–is reduced. De Pinos’ relationship to the four aircraft remains unknown at this time, other than the fact that he is listed by U.S. authorities as their owner.

Breitbart Texas Managing Director Brandon Darby, Associate Editor Bob Price, and Ildefonso Ortiz contributed to this report.

Story, comments and  photo gallery:

REYNOSA--A plane flying from McAllen to Monterrey Friday night was forced to make an emergency landing near the Anzalduas International Bridge in Reynosa.

The aircraft landed on a highway.

No one on board the plane or on the ground was hurt. 

So far, no word on why the pilot was forced to land.

Story, video and photo:

Cutting Response Time: UW Health Medflight taking off soon from new Iowa County base

IOWA COUNTY (WKOW) --- After 30 years, Medflight is moving forward with plans to expand their services by creating a satellite base. 

"I think it will be a revolutionary new program in terms of getting us out where we need to be, decreasing the response times." Medflight Medical Director Dr. Ryan Wubben said about moving their one of a kind O.R. in the skies from Madison to now Mineral Point.

Dr. Wubben says there are a lot of moving parts to making this project happen by late Spring.

"Ranging from the aircraft itself, fuel, having a fuel system set up, having a blood supply because we are one of the few programs that carry blood on our flights," Dr. Wubben said of some of the challenges in transporting the program to the former Land's End hangar at the Iowa County Airport.

"I think it's gonna be a good thing," Pilot Mark Hopp said.  His Piper Cub sits across from the new Medflight hangar and he's looking forward to having the team close.

In some cases, Medflight response times could be cut up to 20 minutes.

"The time travel from here to Madison is extremely long and it would be be a great opportunity for everyone out here and for the airport as well," Hopp said.

Story, video and photo:

Airport touchdown predicted with Super Bowl nearby • Hollister Municipal Airport (KCVH), San Benito County, California

A Global 600 private jet comes in for the landing at the Hollister Airport Monday afternoon. The Super Bowl may increase the amount of private jets landing there. 

During Super Bowl weekend around the corner, it’s not just footballs and bragging rights expected in the air—but also planes.

The Hollister Jet Center, a private business located at the Hollister Municipal Airport, anticipates an unusual influx of the high-powered flying machines for the destination week and weekend.

The Bay Area is expecting between 1,200 and 1,300 extra jets in addition to normal operations, said Dave Leonardo, president of the center. At the city-owned airport, a former World War II Navy training facility located off Airport Drive, the Federal Aviation Administration has granted up to four landings and two departures an hour, Leonardo said. Typically, the center sees one to two jets per week, he said.

Due to increased air traffic that weekend for the Feb. 7 game, the FAA is requiring pilots at 15 local airports—including Hollister Municipal—to book reservations for arrival and departure times from Feb. 4 through Feb. 8, according to the FAA’s website.

“We are hoping that either when they land or if they’re coming in just in time for the Super Bowl on their way back, they come into Hollister and have dinner or explore the town and see what we have to offer,” said Juli Vieira, the CEO of the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce.

Vieira expected places like the small boutique stores, restaurants, and taxi or limousine services to be most affected by the big sports game and any extra traffic that might pass through town with the private jets, she said.

“I think it just depends on how many land and if they have extra time before or afterwards, whether we’re going to see an increase with revenue in the community,” Vieira said.

In preparation for the onslaught of planes, the jet center doubled its staff from five to 10 people, cleaned the airport, made sure all trucks and ground support services were “up to snuff,” changed oils and filters and made sure everything was in “tip-top shape,” Leonardo said.

The business even added extra telephone lines so potential customers wouldn’t get busy signals and purchased a few extra coffee makers so pilots could have easy access to much-needed caffeine, he explained.

The exact number of flying machines that will touch down in Hollister depends on the size of the winged guests, as there is only so much parking space. A larger jet—the G5—had already made a reservation, meaning at least one private airplane with a 93 foot wingspan, 96 foot long body and nearly 26 foot height will be in Hollister, Leonardo said. But there will be smaller aircraft, too, such as the Learjet 45 that is just shy of 48 feet wide, 59 feet long and 15 feet high, the center president said.

The Hollister airport is unusually well suited to jets because of its long runway. The nearby Reid-Hillview and South County airports cannot land the same planes, as their runways are too short, especially when wet, Leonardo explained.

Employees at the Jet Center are viewing the weekend as an opportunity to shine and hopefully attract future customers. The center boasts of no landing fees, pretty much the same weather as San Jose, and “through-the-fence” agreements with the federal government that allow businesses at adjacent properties to have direct access to the runway, Leonardo explained.

“It really does make this airport special,” Leonardo said of the policy. “We want to appeal to the business people that are going to bring jobs here.”

The agreements would allow employees to bypass a lengthy drive to San Jose or San Francisco, the frustrating search for a parking spot, and the long lines for airport security. Employees at businesses on the neighboring properties could just go around their building to a private jet waiting in a hangar at the back and then taxi to the runway.

The airport is also located just 15 miles south of Highway 101, according to Google Maps. In the case of the Super Bowl crowd, visitors will drive to Highway 101, continue 35 miles and follow signs to the venue, Leonardo said.

The business offers aircraft parking for extended stays and “quick-turn” services where pilots drop off passengers and then hit the skies again.

“What they want from us is ice, coffee and fuel and then they’ll go right back to the runway and off again,” Leonardo said.

Pilots hitting the skies during the Super Bowl weekend won’t have to miss all of the game if they land in Hollister. Hugh’s Vintage Aircraft Museum, operated by Hugh Bickle out of a hanger at the airport, will have a large screen playing the game for all the pilots, Leonardo said.

About the airport

The Hollister Municipal Airport’s main runway stretches 6,350 feet with the second runway stretching 3,300 feet. The runways belong to the city and the Hollister Jet Center is a private business that rents space at the site. The city charges a “tiedown fee” for overnight parking and receives eight cents a gallon for jet fuel sold at the airport.

SOURCE: Mike Chambless, the city’s management services director, who works in public works, code enforcement and with the airport, in an email to the Free Lance.

Airports requiring reservations

San Francisco International
Oakland International
Hayward Executive
Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International
Livermore Municipal
Buchanan Field
Napa County
Charles M. Schultz- Sonoma County
Monterey Regional
Watsonville Municipal
Salinas Municipal
Reid-Hillview Airport of Santa Clara County
Moffett Federal Airfield
San Carlos Airport
Hollister Municipal

Source: National Business Aviation Association’s website

Story and photo gallery:

Robinson R44 II, Friedkin Conservation Fund, 5H-FCG: Fatal accident occurred January 29, 2016 in Tanzania

British helicopter pilot ‘shot and killed’ by elephant poachers while flying

A British helicopter pilot has been 'shot dead by elephant poachers in Tanzania', a conservation charity has said.

Englishman Roger Gower was helping authorities in Tanzania track the criminals.

He managed to bring the helicopter down in the the Maswa Game Reserve, near Serengeti National Park in the country's north, but died from his wounds before he could be rescued.

Pictures posted online show the badly damaged remains of the helicopter, including a bloodied bullet hole in the pilot's seat of the aircraft, which lay on its side in the savannah grass.

The Friedkin Conservation Fund said elephant poachers fired on his aircraft.

In a message posted on its website, founder Dan Friedkin said the organisation was "profoundly saddened by the loss of our dear friend".

Mr Friedkin said: "Roger was killed while piloting a helicopter during a co-ordinated effort with the Tanzanian wildlife authorities to track down and arrest active elephant poachers. In the course of this action the poachers fired upon the helicopter and Roger was fatally wounded.

"We are committed to honouring Roger and his work. We are also committed to ensuring that those responsible for this attack are found and brought to justice. We believe that Roger can best be honoured by redoubling our commitment to protect elephants and our priceless wildlife heritage.

"This tragic event again highlights the appalling risk and cost of protecting Tanzania1s wildlife."

Pratik Patel, a colleague from the Friedkin Conservation Fund, said Mr Gower was shot on Friday afternoon during a patrol as he approached the last carcass of three elephants that had been killed by poachers.

He paid tribute to "a great guy, a great friend, a great pilot" who he said loved working with Tanzania's wildlife.

He said his main role was flying people between the different camps on the reserve, but he also spent some time every day flying patrols to support ground staff in their work against poachers.

Mr Gower is reported to be a former accountant who qualified as a pilot in 2004.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We can confirm the death of a British national in Tanzania and are providing assistance to the family at this difficult time."

Tanzanian MP Lazaro Nyalandu, a former minister for natural resources and tourism, said in a tweet Mr Gower was shot by a poacher on Friday as he helped locate a group who had killed an elephant in Maswa, an area of the Serengeti in the country's north.

The Briton managed to land but died before he could be rescued.

Mr Nyalandu said: "RIP Capt Roger. You loved our country and I knew you on many flights we took together in defence of our wildlife heritage. Life is precious.

"Those poachers who killed Capt Roger are coward, evil, and sad people. A fine hearted individual gone too soon, and our hearts are broken.

"Capt Roger's body was flown into Arusha early today, as those who killed him are still at large.Everything must be done to bring them to justice."

Wildlife at Risk International said on its Facebook page: “A huge manhunt is underway involving several organisations assisting authorities to track down this coldblooded murderer. For security reasons no further details are being released for now due to the ongoing investigation.”

Story, video and photos:

Helicopter wreckage in the aftermath of the attack.

A British helicopter pilot has been shot and killed by the elephant poachers he was trying to help arrest, Friedkin Conservation Fund has confirmed.

Roger Gower was fatally wounded as he worked with Tanzanian wildlife authorities in the Maswa Game Reserve, near Serengeti National Park on Friday.

He was flying a helicopter when he came under attack.

He managed to bring the helicopter down, but died from his injuries before he could be rescued.

Dan Friedkin, chairman of the Friedkin Conservation Fund, said in a statement on its website: ‘January 29 2016 we lost our colleague Roger Gower who was killed in the fight against elephant poaching in Tanzania. We are profoundly saddened by the loss of our dear friend.

‘Roger was killed while piloting a helicopter during a coordinated effort with the Tanzanian wildlife authorities to track down and arrest active elephant poachers. In the course of this action the poachers fired upon the helicopter and Roger was fatally wounded.

‘We are committed to honoring Roger and his work. We are also committed to ensuring that those responsible for this attack are found and brought to justice. We believe that Roger can best be honored by redoubling our commitment to protect elephants and our priceless wildlife heritage.

‘This tragic event again highlights the appalling risk and cost of protecting Tanzania’s wildlife.’

A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘We can confirm the death of a British national in Tanzania and are providing assistance to the family at this difficult time.’

Story and photo gallery:

The conservation fund has paid tribute to Roger Gower. 
(Picture: Facebook/Wildlife At Risk)

London (AFP) - A British pilot has died in Tanzania after his helicopter was downed by elephant poachers, the charity he worked for said Saturday.

Roger Gower died on Friday and is thought to have been flying in the Maswa Game Reserve, located along the boundary of the Serengeti National Park.

"Roger was killed while piloting a helicopter during a coordinated effort with the Tanzanian wildlife authorities to track down and arrest active elephant poachers," said a statement from Dan Friedkin, chairman of the Friedkin Conservation Fund.

"In the course of this action, the poachers fired upon the helicopter and Roger was fatally wounded."

The BBC quoted Pratik Patel of the fund as saying that Gower had been approaching the last of three elephants which had been killed by poachers when the incident happened.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Gower had given up his job as an accountant in London to retrain as a pilot.

A Foreign Office spokesman in London said: "We can confirm the death of a British national in Tanzania and are providing assistance to the family at this difficult time."

Incident occurred January 30, 2016 at Cobdogla, in the Riverland region of South Australia

A farmer has been airlifted to Adelaide after having a medical episode in his plane in the Riverland.

Emergency services were called to Morgan Rd, Cobdogla, around 10am, after reports a light aircraft had made a crash landing.

They found the farmer in his aircraft in a paddock near his house.

It is believed he had a medical episode before taking off in the plane.

A helicopter flew to the scene to retrieve the man.

CFS crews also are in attendance with police.


Emanuel gets Chicago O'Hare International Airport (KORD) runway deal, but no new gates means delays continue

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city's major airlines have struck a deal to build the final runway envisioned in the city's multibillion-dollar modernization of O'Hare International Airport, but new gates that experts agree are key to significant reductions in long-standing flight delays are not part of the pact.

The agreement, which the mayor formally announced Saturday, calls for spending $1.3 billion to build a sixth east-west runway at the airfield’s north end, de-icing pads to get planes to take off more quickly and new taxiways to pick up the pace of planes going to and from far-flung gates, city officials said.

However, the plan does not include additional terminal space that would increase the number of gates at the nation's second-busiest airport — something Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans said was needed to address flight delays when Emanuel appointed her last year.

Emanuel remains hopeful that the runway agreement will pave the way for a possible city-airline deal on new gates, which American Airlines and United Airlines have long resisted because of the potential competition they would bring.

"This is the building block," the mayor said Friday in a telephone interview. "There's an order to this, and I know what we have to get done. They know it, we've been clear."

Evans said the deal also includes plans for new hangars and ground-support equipment buildings. And the mayor said the city is making plans to build a pair of hotels and upgrade the Hilton that's already there.

The hotels "will allow Chicago, for the business it used to lose, to win that back," Emanuel said. "Dallas is doing that. Denver is doing that. So that's kind of the new thing. ... That's a great source of revenue we don't have today."

In touting the deal, the mayor offered some lofty rhetoric, saying it's time to move beyond measuring O'Hare simply by the number of flights logged there each year.

"One way in the past to measure O'Hare was busiest," Emanuel said. "That's one measure. My goal is best. And that's 'O'Hare 21,' which is what I'm naming this, but everything we're going to do is preparing O'Hare to be the economic engine, job-growth engine for the 21st century. It played a central role in Chicago's ability to be a world-class city in the last 40 years, but if we don't invest in it — we can't rest on our laurels."

The O'Hare deal is a bit of good news for Emanuel, whose administration has been rocked for months by the fallout from the release of the Laquan McDonald police shooting video. But the new runway also could lead to more complaints from anti-noise advocates who live near the airport.

Indeed, congressmen representing areas surrounding O'Hare late Friday expressed concern about proceeding with the construction of the sixth runway, even as they lauded the focus on "some much needed improvements," specifically the de-icing pads and new taxiways.

"We believe that prioritizing the construction of yet another east-west runway without first addressing the significant increases in noise that our constituents have endured since the implementation of the O'Hare Modernization Program comes at the expense of our constituents' health and property values," U.S. Reps. Mike Quigley, Tammy Duckworth and Jan Schakowsky said in a joint statement.

The latest plan will have three funding sources: $345 million from the Federal Aviation Administration; $200 million from passenger facility charges tacked onto each airline ticket; and hundreds of millions of dollars in aviation bonds to be covered by airport revenue, largely through fees paid by the airlines under "use and lease" agreements, Evans said. The project will not result in increased costs to passengers, she said.

Evans said the next big effort is to negotiate new use and lease agreements with United and American, with the current ones set to expire in 2018.

Since 2005, the city has spent about $10 billion on the modernization project. Despite the construction of new runways in a parallel, east-west configuration designed to increase capacity and efficiency, O'Hare continues to have some of the longest flight delays among large U.S. airports.

"The shortage of gates is a serious issue that has to be addressed," said travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt of San Francisco-based Atmosphere Research Group. The shortage not only causes delays but also drives up the price of flying in and out of O'Hare because it limits the ability of lower-cost airlines like Spirit and Virgin Atlantic to add flights.

That lessens competition for American and United, which consistently have resisted efforts to end their near-monopoly at O'Hare. "That borders on anti-competitive behavior, and those airlines are going to have to learn to take it on the chin when it comes to what the city wants," Harteveldt said.

United and American executives issued statements praising the deal but declined interview requests. The original O'Hare modernization plan was rolled out by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2003, and it called for more gates and a new terminal at the west end of O'Hare that would have added about 50 gates. But United and American executives have long resisted that aspect.

Evans reiterated Friday that new gates are an important piece of untying the O'Hare gridlock, but she said the improvements that have been agreed to will clear the way for eventual new terminals by removing an old diagonal runway and taxiway system that's blocking development at the north end of the airport.

"When you take those two things out, we end up with a massive piece of real estate to develop, and that is what will allow us to completely modernize O'Hare," Evans said.

Talks on how to do that can move along now, she added, as work proceeds on the new runway that's slated to open in 2020. "We'll be looking at different layouts for concourses, terminals, what will suit their business plans best," she added.

When she took the job last June, Evans hinted at changes to the Daley plan by saying that additional gates were needed elsewhere at the airport to accommodate the increased flight capacity created by the construction of new runways in recent years. On Friday she said the prospect of potential gates elsewhere at the airport could entice the two big airlines.

"For the first time Chicago has put a plan on the table that allows them to add gates to their facilities," Evans said. "So this is huge for them. The old plan kind of sent the message that we're going to build gates for somebody else. Of course they opposed that.

"This plan is specifically intended to say to United and American (that) we want you to grow at O'Hare and we intend to give you the real estate to do that," she said.

Evans also said that there would be room for "OALs," or "other airlines," to use some of the new gates the city would like to build. The city will seek their input as it tries to move forward with expanded terminal plans, she added.

For years, United and American executives had resisted the new runway, which they maintained was not yet necessary, given current levels of traffic at O'Hare. Their approval is crucial, given that the fees they pay finance a large chunk of airport improvements.

"I've been here 7 1/2 months now," said Evans, who replaced longtime Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino. "When I came, this deal was deader than a doornail."

To cement the agreement, Emanuel began talking to FAA officials in September on a trip to Washington, D.C., about getting a big chunk of federal funding sooner to make it more affordable for the airlines, Evans and Emanuel said.

The new runway and taxiways also could help improve on-time flight performance for the airlines after their recent moves to return to a system that "banks" flights in blocks of closer takeoff and landing intervals. More runways will help that system run smoother, Evans said.

"The cost of delays is not insignificant," Evans said. "The cost to them of having delayed aircraft is tens of millions of dollars. So they need that extra capacity to follow through on the commitments they made to their customers about improving the experience as they go through the terminals and concourses and O'Hare."

Although he questioned the $1.3 billion price tag for the new work, travel industry analyst Harteveldt did say the new runway and de-icing pads should improve efficiency and reliability and help the city keep United and American happy. Moving de-icing pads away from the terminal buildings, in particular, will allow departing planes to leave gates more quickly, creating space for arriving planes to reach their gates, he said.

The new runway will be 11,245 feet long, which makes it capable of handling "the biggest airplanes on the planet," Evans said. "These are the large airplanes that go to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Sydney."

Today those big planes, which Evans called "heavies," take off from an airstrip at the south end of the airport. Once aloft they head north, which prevents the use of three other runways as they depart O'Hare. By moving the big planes to the new runway, only one of five runways will be blocked.

Once the new runway is complete, the annual capacity for O'Hare airport takeoffs and landings will increase from 214 an hour to 267, or about 25 percent, she said.

Evans also said the new de-icing pads, which will move those wintertime operations away from the gates where they now take place, will free up the gates for other planes to use. The new taxiway configuration also will help, Evans said.

But that increase in capacity also is sure to rile the activists who have been protesting the airplane noise on the city's Northwest Side and the suburbs surrounding O'Hare. On Wednesday they emerged from a long-sought meeting with Emanuel to declare that he didn't care about them — an allegation Evans immediately rejected.

Since late 2013, when flight paths moved more to the east and west under the new runway configuration, noise has increased dramatically in some areas, while decreasing in others. That triggered a dramatic increase in complaints.

Completion of the new runway, Evans said, could benefit places like Schiller Park, where airplane noise rose under the new configuration. That's because the city, under FAA rules, can work to soundproof homes in those harder-hit areas as the runway is being built.

Evans noted other sound-mitigation efforts the city is working on, such as alternating nighttime use of the east-west runways and implementing "precision-based navigation" that would allow planes to shift flight paths to the north and south quickly after takeoff. Airlines, meanwhile, are converting to quieter engines, she said last week.

Another point the anti-noise advocates won't like: The plan requires closing and demolishing a diagonal runway they wanted the city to maintain to spread flights out in areas near O'Hare. One of four diagonals already has been shut down, and another must go to help clear the land where the city envisions new terminals, Evans said.

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Open skies dispute between United States and Gulf airlines escalates

The war of words between Arabian Gulf airlines and their American rivals over open skies has been turned up a notch following allegations of declining traffic between the US and the Middle East.

The US airlines – American, Delta and United – claimed that bookings from Orlando, San Francisco and Chicago to the region and beyond were down by as much as 13.3 percent following the entry of Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways on those routes.

The claim prompted a strongly worded response from Emirates. “The latest rhetoric by the Big Three American airlines once again demonstrates how they are only concerned with their narrow interests, at the expense of consumers and the broader economic interest,” it said.

“The new data being flogged by them only considers the decline in bookings for US carriers and their joint venture partners. It totally disregards the fact that overall bookings grew with the start of Gulf carrier services into US cities – including Orlando, San Francisco, Chicago,” an Emirates statement added.

The row between American and Gulf airlines has been simmering for a year, with claim and counter-claim about the alleged anti-competitive effects of unfair government subsidies on the part of the Gulf carriers. The issue is currently being considered by US authorities including the justice, commerce and transport departments, although no imminent decision is expected.

The Americans alleged that Gulf governments had provided $42 billion in subsidies to their airlines, contrary to open skies aviation agreements. The regional carriers dismissed the claims, and have asked the US authorities to rule on the matter.

Their argument is that the travelling public chooses Gulf carriers because of better standards of service, scheduling advantages and ticket prices.

“Instead of splurging on lobbying campaigns to lock out competition, instead of blaming Gulf airlines for loss of bookings or market share, the Big Three should rather consider how they can redirect some of their record profit to improve the services they provide to consumers, and contribute to growing the overall pie for the benefit for the broader economy,” Emirates said.

Emirates added: “It is disturbing that Delta, United and American presume they and their partners are entitled to their existing share of traffic, as if they own their customers, when they don’t make a corresponding effort to improve their service and product proposition to win consumers’ hearts and wallets.”

The Gulf carriers’ share of the American airline market to the region has increased as they have grown their offering. For instance, traffic from Orlando has surged since Emirates began flying the route last year.

Overall flight bookings to the Middle East, West Asia and South East Asia during September to December 2015 increased 74 per cent compared with the same period in 2014 before Emirates’ entry into the market, from an average of 232 to 409 bookings per day, the airline said.

The Americans also claim that Gulf carriers are destroying jobs in the US. But Emirates cited statistics showing the opposite.

But according to recently published data from the US department of transportation, full-time employment figures by the main American airlines has gone up year-on-year by 3.7 percent. “This contradicts the oft-repeated claim that competition results in job losses among Delta, American and United. In addition, all three airlines – particularly Delta – have been reporting bumper profit quarter-on-quarter,” Emirates said.

The airline plans to continue its expansion to US routes. It recently put Airbus A380s on to the route to Washington DC, and is considering opening a service between Dubai and Atlanta, a route that it regards as underserved following the decision by Delta to pull out of the service.

Emirates will add 36 new aircraft – A380s and Boeing 777s – this year to its worldwide fleet, retiring 27 older aircraft.

It recently said that it has not detected any signs of a slowdown in aviation despite challenging economic and security conditions in some parts of the world.  

Original article can be found here:

Ask the Historical Society: Sassafras crash

The Cecil Whig newspaper ran this photo of the rescue efforts in the Sassafras River a day after the crash. 

Do you have any information about a military plane crashing on the Sassafras River sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s?

— Nicole Benson, Middletown, Delaware

Two Martin-Marietta test pilots perished when a U.S. Air Force twin-engine jet bomber plunged into the Sassafras River near Ordinary Point, on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 1969. 

Taking off from Martin Airport at Middle River, the B-57 was on a test flight. 

According to the Pentagon, electronic modifications had been made and the plane was in the air for about 35 minutes before going down about 1:45 p.m. 

Two helicopters, a search plane, rescue boats, divers, local fire companies and police agencies responded to the incident, the Cecil Whig reported.

— Mike Dixon


Lancair IV-P, Art Sign Company, N401PT: Fatal accident occurred January 30, 2016 at Southwest Georgia Regional Airport (KABY), Albany, Dougherty County, Georgia

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Preliminary Report:

Art Sign Company:  

NTSB Identification: ERA16FA097
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, January 30, 2016 in Albany, GA
Aircraft: BROOK AARON D LANCAIR IV P, registration: N401PT
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On January 30, 2016, at 1445 eastern standard time, an experimental amateur-built Lancair IV-P, N401PT, operated by a private individual, was destroyed when it impacted terrain shortly after takeoff from the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport (ABY), in Albany, Georgia. The commercial pilot, pilot rated passenger and one additional passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Witness reports indicated that the airplane taxied to the beginning of runway 22 at ABY, and lifted off within the first 1,000 feet of the 6,601 foot-long runway. The airplane began to bank sharply immediately after takeoff, and reached a 90-degree bank as it climbed to treetop height. The witness was not certain if the bank was to the right or left; however, the airplane then began to pitch downward and descend, while maintaining the 90 degree bank until it struck the ground.

A witness located about a quarter mile north of the accident site reported that the airplane sounded "normal" until shortly before impact, when the engine noise became louder.

The airplane impacted a grass field about 1,900 feet down the runway, and 280 feet to the right of the runway centerline. The wreckage path extended from the initial impact ground scar along a heading of 270 degrees, and was 170 feet long. A position light with green lens fragments and the right winglet were among the debris found closest to the initial impact scar. Both wings were separated from the fuselage at their root, and were fragmented along the wreckage path. The left wing tip and winglet were found about 130 feet along the wreckage path. The main wreckage area included the empennage, which was largely intact, with severe fire and impact damage forward of the rear seats. The right horizontal stabilizer and elevator were fractured about mid-span with the outboard portion displaced forward. The elevator trim tab was found slightly trailing edge down. The rudder trim tab was found slightly trailing edge right. The engine mounting structural tubes were fractured and the engine was found inverted. The propeller hub separated from the engine flange, and one of the three blades separated from the hub. All three blades exhibited some bending in the aft direction from about mid-span outward, and each had showed some amount of twisting deformation.

The engine power turbine blades were intact and exhibited slight bending at their tips and rub marks at their roots. The engine casing was displaced and twisted, and the engine could not be turned by hand at the starter or the propeller shafts. After removal of the planetary gear system, the propeller shaft turned easily and did not exhibit any evidence of twisting.

Examination of the airframe revealed that the main landing gear were retracted, however the position of the nose landing gear could not be determined. The position of the flaps could not be determined. Pitch control continuity was confirmed from the elevator though push-pull tubes to the aft cabin area. The elevator moved freely. Rudder control continuity was confirmed from the rudder through a push-pull tube to the cable and bell crank assembly in the empennage. The rudder was free to move, however both cables exhibited binding as a result of fire damage. Both ailerons had separated from their respective wings and were found fractured and fire damaged. Both cockpit control sticks remained connected to their control tubes, however continuity from those tubes to the remainder of the control components could not be confirmed due to impact and fire damage.

A portable global positioning system receiver was recovered from the accident site and forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder laboratory for examination.

A witness reported that as the occupants embarked, the pilot/owner was seated in the left front seat, and the pilot rated passenger was seated in the right front seat. According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot reported 1,000 hours of flight experience at the time of his most recent third-class medical examination which was performed on January 20, 2015.The pilot rated passenger held airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates, and he reported 6,750 flight hours of experience at the time of his most recent FAA second-class medical examination, which was performed on July 8, 2015.

According to FAA records, the airplane was equipped with a Walter 601 series turboprop engine and issued an experimental airworthiness certificate in April 2002. It was purchased by the pilot on December 10, 2015. Initial review of maintenance logbooks revealed that the most recent condition inspections of the airframe and engine occurred on October 29, 2015, and both were found to be in satisfactory condition.

FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Atlanta FSDO-11

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email,  and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

The National Transportation Safety Board officials are asking witnesses of the crash to call them with any information at (844)373-9922. 

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -  Family friends and law enforcement officials across south Georgia remember the retired state trooper pilot who was killed in a plane crash on Saturday.

Friends say Kevin Coalson never met a stranger.  He left a lasting impact on the community.

A final salute to a dedicated retired Georgia State Trooper, as this long procession of patrol cars passed slowly and solemnly through Albany.

"Whenever you saw him, he always had a smile on his face. He was just someone who would just bring joy to a room whenever he walked in," said GSP Sgt. Shawn Urquhart. "I've been crying ever since Saturday.  It's just, it's hard. I don't even know how to describe it."

Hundreds gathered at the Mount Zion Baptist church to remember 48-year-old Kevin Coalson.

Coalson, who flew helicopters with the state patrol, along with 40-year-old Britt Knight, and 30-year-old Brittany Kerfoot were killed after their plane crashed shortly after taking off from Southwest Georgia Regional Airport.

"He was a great pilot and everything.  So, even though it was a tragic death, he died doing something that he loved," said Urquhart.

Four Georgia State Patrol helicopters flew over family and friends following the funeral service.

Close friend Sergeant Shawn Urquhart says Coalson's ability to touch others in the community beyond law enforcement makes her feel proud to be a trooper.

"All the good memories will outweigh that one tragedy, yes."

A memorial service for Brittany Kerfoot was held yesterday Britt Knight's memorial service will happen tomorrow morning at 11:00 at Gillionville Baptist Church.

Story, video and photo gallery:

ALBANY — Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler said Tuesday that all three victims of a fatal airplane accident at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport over the weekend died instantly from blunt force trauma.

Fowler attended the autopsies of Britt Knight, Michael Coalson and Brittany Kerfoot that were conducted Monday at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation lab in Macon.

“The plane caught fire when it hit the ground, but there was no smoke in the victims’ lungs, indicating they were killed on impact,” Fowler said. “The victims were not ejected from the plane, but the impact tore away part of the plane and all three were partially out of the aircraft.”

The accident happened Saturday afternoon as the Lancair IV-P crashed shortly after takeoff.

The crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.


Kevin Coalson, one of three people who died in an airplane crash at Southwest Regional Airport Saturday, is shown in an undated image. 
(Photo courtesy of Dr. Charles Gillespie)

Britt Knight (left) and Kevin Coalson (center)

Doug Brazy, an air safety investigator with the NTSB, said on Sunday that his agency and the FAA have begun what will be a lengthy investigation into the cause of the plane crash Saturday which killed three people. 

ALBANY — Doug Brazy, a safety inspector for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), during a news conference Sunday afternoon at Southwest Georgia Regional Airport, outlined initial steps being taken by the agency after three people died in a plane crash Saturday.

The three people who died in the crash are listed by the Albany Police Department as David Britt Knight, 40; Brittany Kerfoot, 30, and Kevin Coalson, 49. Coalson is a former trooper with the Georgia State Patrol where he served as a helicopter pilot. Kerfoot was a teacher at Lake Park Elementary School and Knight was a local businessman.

Brazy said he and investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are working to determine a probable cause for the accident, although the length of time to arrive at a conclusion is typically around 12 months.

Various factors will ultimately be examined and documented, Brazy said, including the aircraft itself, the engine systems, marks on the ground, weather, the flight crew and their experience level.

According to Brazy, the crashed airplane, a 2002 Lancair IV equipped with four seats and a single turbo prop engine, will be removed from the airport runway Monday and transported to a site in Griffin for further examination. The Lancair IV is typically built from a kit, Brazy said, and is certified as experimental by the FAA.

“We know the airplane departed about 2 p.m. on Runway 22 yesterday (Saturday) for a local flight. I’m told that airport video shows that it reached “treetop level before it began to descend.”

Brazy said investigators are initially focusing on “perishable” evidence, or evidence which is vulnerable to change by wind, rain or landscaping. In addition, a map of the crash site is being constructed to show where parts of the airplane were found following the accident.

Anyone who saw or heard the airplane on the the day of the accident or know of anyone who did is asked to call NTSB at 1-844-373-9922 or write to EYEWITNESS at

“Witness accounts are perishable because now is time people remember and also when they’re more willing to help,” Brazy said.



The victims of the fatal plane crash on Saturday have now been identified. Albany first responders reported to the aircraft crash on the 3900 block of Newton Road.

49-year-old Kevin Coalson, 40-year-old Britt Knight, and 30-year-old Brittany Kerfoot were all on board. Coalson was a retired state trooper, who flew helicopters with the state patrol. Knight was a father of two young children. Kerfoot was a second grade teacher at Lake Park Elementary in Albany. All of them died in the crash.

The aircraft was on fire after it made impact with the ground. It had crashed shortly after taking off at about 2:45 p.m.

EMS, firefighters, and police all responded to the scene. Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board officials also responded.

The Southwest Georgia Regional Airport was closed until 7 a.m. Sunday morning, with the crash site blocked off by the FAA and NTSB.

All thoughts and prayers go out to the victims' families after this tragic incident.

Story, video, photo gallery and comments:

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A mechanical engineer with the National Transportation Safety Board released new details as they continue their investigation into what caused the fatal plane crash Saturday. After a recent investigation, it is known that the plane departed for a local flight and reached the height of the trees before it began to descend.

Officials say they are only in the very early stages of this investigation, and there is a lot of work ahead of them.

Earlier Sunday, officials confirmed the names of the three people killed in the crash. 40-year-old Britt Knight, 30-year-old Brittany Kerfoot, and 49-year-old Kevin Coalson passed away after the Lancair IV-P experimental aircraft crashed shortly after taking off.

The NTSB says they will not know what caused the crash, and the investigation could take months. They are currently looking for perishable evidence such as marks on the runway, and looking at weather conditions. 

NTSB mechanical engineer Doug Brazy says they're also asking for help from witnesses.

"We'd be very interested in any witnesses that may have viewed the airplane at any time or heard the airplane yesterday at any time to assist us with our accident investigation," said Brazy.

Over the next few days, NTSB officials will be documenting evidence around the area. Typical accident investigations take up to 12 months. The plane will be transported to Atlanta Air salvage in Griffin on Monday for further investigation.

The NTSB asks that witnesses report what they saw by contacting them here.

Story and photo gallery:

Albany, GA — National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials are still investigating the cause of the crash of Lancair IV at Southwest Georgia Regional Airport on Saturday.

Douglas Brazy, Mechanical Engineer with NTSB, said they are working to gather facts and circumstances to determine the cause. Investigators are focusing on gathering information at the site and documenting evidence that may be perishable.

Officials are investigating the airplane engine runway, flight crew experience and training and plane itself.

NTSB investigations usually last for 12 months.

Brazy said the Lancair IV, the aircraft involved in the crash, took off from Runway 22 for a local flight. The plane reached the height of "the top of a tree" before the crash.

NTSB classified this plane as an experimental plane, built by experimental builder, which they say is common.

The plane will be moved on Monday to Atlanta Air Salvage in Griffin, Georgia.

Story and photo:

Officials confirm that three people died as a result of the plane crash.

Police say the plane took off at 2:45 p.m and crashed at 2:46 p.m.

No additional information about the fatalities has been released.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board have been notified and will take over the investigation. 

For now, officials have closed the airport and there will be no travel in or out.

The original story can be found below.

Albany fire officials, police and emergency medical officials are at Southwest Georgia Regional Airport containing an aircraft accident.

The initial dispatch call stated that an aircraft crashed into a ditch and caught fire.

Story, video and photo:

ALBANY --   All three passengers of an airplane that departed from Southwest Georgia Regional Airport at 2:45 p.m. Saturday died when the plane crashed seconds after takeoff, according to Albany first responders.

Phyllis Banks, spokeswoman for the Albany Police Department, said the crash occurred near the north portion of the main runway at 2:46 pm., just one minute after its posted takeoff.

“We have confirmed three fatalities,” Banks said. “We had immediate response (from local emergency agencies).” We’re now waiting on the Federal Aviation Administration. They have been notified and will take over the investigation.”

Officials did not disclose the name of the three people killed in the accident. Some family members were on the scene shortly after the crash.

David Hamilton, City of Albany transportation director, said a counselor was talking with family members.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time.” Hamilton said.

Albany Fire Chief Ron Rowe said he expects a lengthy investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board. Rowe was unable to report on the type of aircraft involved or the destination of the airplane.


Investigators have identified the three people killed in a plane crash at SWGA Regional Airport Saturday. David Brett Knight, 40. Brittany Kerfoot, 30 and Kevin Coalson, 49 all died when their Lancair 4 aircraft crashed during take off.

Representatives from the FAA and the NTSB have arrived at the SWGA Regional Airport and are now in charge of the crash site investigation. They will be assisted by David Hamilton, Transportation Director and Chief Bernard Ford, Chief of Airport Safety, Dougherty County Coroner, Michael Fowler and other agencies as needed.

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) -- Authorities say three people are dead after a small plane crashed on takeoff from the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport in the city of Albany.

Albany Police spokeswoman Phyllis Banks told the Albany Herald that the crash occurred near the main runway Saturday afternoon and emergency crews went immediately to the site. She didn't identify the dead.

A phone message left by The Associated Press wasn't immediately returned by Banks late Saturday.

Arlene Salac, with the Federal Aviation Administration, said in an FAA statement emailed to AP that the Lancair IV-P aircraft crashed at 2:35 p.m. The statement didn't give the plane's intended destination or other crash details. It said the FAA would investigate and the National Transportation Safety Board would determine the probable cause.

Brittany Kerfoot 

Britt Knight

NTSB Identification: LAX07LA184
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Saturday, June 02, 2007 in Parowan, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/31/2008
Aircraft: Brook Lancair IV-P, registration: N401PT
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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 pilot was about 1 hour 15 minutes into the flight, and the airplane was cruising at 26,000 feet, when the turbo prop engine lost power with white smoke coming out of the exhaust. About a minute before the pilot had observed what he termed "splats" of moisture on the windscreen. He performed an emergency descent and at 12,500 feet attempted an engine restart. The restart attempt was unsuccessful. He glided to the nearest airport, circled, and performed a power-off landing. The airplane crossed the runway threshold at 120 knots, floated, and touched down at mid field. After touchdown, the airplane continued down the runway, off the end, and into terrain and a fence. The airplane came to rest with the landing gear collapsed. Federal Aviation Administration inspectors examined the airplane, and could not identify any mechanical abnormality with the engine or fuel system. The Pilot Operating Handbook states that an engine relight was possible below 13,000 feet mean sea level, and below 160 knots of airspeed. The pilot could not recall what his airspeed was when he attempted the engine restart. The airplane was not equipped with any type of engine inlet anti-ice or deicing equipment. The pilot did state that he had been in and out of moisture while at his 26,000 feet cruising altitude, but there had been no ice buildup on his wings or windscreen. A technical representative for Lancair stated that a 3/4 blockage of the engine cowling NACA induction scoop might be enough to starve the engine of air and induce a flameout.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A loss of engine power due to engine inlet icing. Contributing to the accident was the lack of engine inlet anti-icing capability.

On June 2, 2007, about 1315 mountain daylight time, an amateur built Brook Lancair IV-P, N401PT, made a forced landing following a loss of engine power at Parowan Airport, Parowan, Utah. The private pilot operated the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The pilot and single passenger were not injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an IFR flight plan had been filed. The flight originated at Deer Valley Airport, Phoenix, Arizona, at 1100, and was en route to Hailey, Idaho.

The pilot reported to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator that he was about 1 hour 15 minutes into the flight, and the airplane was cruising at 26,000 feet, when the turbo prop engine quit with white smoke coming out of the exhaust. About a minute before he had observed "splats" of moisture on the windscreen. He performed an emergency descent to 15,000 feet, and at 12,500 feet attempted an engine restart. The restart attempt was unsuccessful. He proceeded to the nearest airport, which was Parowan Airport. He circled and performed a no-power approach to runway 04. The airplane crossed the runway threshold at 120 knots, floated, and touched down at mid field. After touchdown, the airplane continued down the runway, off the end, and into terrain and a fence. The airplane came to rest with the landing gear collapsed.

Federal Aviation Administration inspectors examined the airplane at the Parowan Airport. The inspectors determined that the wing vents were clear of debris; the center fuel tank vent was operational; the fuel boost pumps were energized and operated; the fuel system was clean; the engine igniters operated; the engine controls were properly connected to the engine; the engine rotated freely with no binding; and the engine driven fuel pump was operationally checked to function.

The Pilot Operating Handbook states that an engine relight was possible below 13,000 feet mean sea level, and below 160 knots of airspeed. The pilot could not recall what his airspeed was when he attempted the engine restart. The airplane was not equipped with any type of engine inlet anti-ice or deicing equipment. The pilot did state that he had been in and out of moisture while at his 26,000 feet cruising altitude, but there had been no ice buildup on his wings or windscreen. A technical representative for Lancair stated that a 3/4 blockage of the cowling NACA induction scoop might be enough to starve the engine of air and induce a flameout.