Sunday, March 06, 2016

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration looking for new base; Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (KLAL) in contention

LAKELAND — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hurricane hunters are looking for a new home to launch their tropical storm monitoring missions, and Lakeland Linder Regional Airport is a contender.

Last month, the Tampa Bay Times reported the U.S. Air Force asked NOAA to make plans to move its 95 employees, three hurricane hunting planes and six other planes off MacDill Air Force Base by July 1, 2017.

Since then, "Miss Piggy" and "Kermit," the two emblematic hurricane hunting Lockheed WP-3D Orions, are being treated like the prettiest planes on the tarmac.

Federal officials first contacted Lakeland Linder on Feb. 11, Airport Manager Gene Conrad said, and have since visited to assess the available facilities. A second trip is planned.

"Based on our conversations (with federal officials), there is still an opportunity for them to stay at MacDill, but in the mean time, they need to know what their options are," Conrad wrote in an email to city, Polk County and area economic development officials.

Conrad said he figures the strongest competition will come from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.

If the hurricane hunters do move, it could be temporary — between three and five years, he said.

"As far as airport locations for their three- to five-year plan, I would have to say it is down to us and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE). Also, during the three- to five-year period they did mention they would take that time to look for a permanent home for the long term that could be anywhere in the Southeast."

Landing the contract would be a pretty big deal for the airport, Conrad told the Ledger, and Lakeland Linder is in a strong position relative to other area airports.

Lakeland Linder has an 8,500-foot runway — longer than NOAA's 8,000-foot requirement — hangar space, a good track record and perhaps as an advantage over airports in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, less air traffic.

Lakeland Linder is often used for touch-and-go training exercises by the Air Force for that reason, Conrad said. An on-site aircraft rescue and firefighting unit at Lakeland Fire Station No. 7 and a new air traffic control tower soon going live further sweetens the deal.

The operation's proximity to its current home may help, as well, or at least keep the storm hunters in the Tampa Bay area in the short term.

Local congressional members have made their districts' cases to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the federal agency that contains NOAA.

Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, told The Times she was working with area delegates to make a case to keep the hurricane hunters close.

Rep. Dennis Ross, a Lakeland Republican, threw his support behind Lakeland Linder.

"Keeping this important service for the Central Florida community in mind, and seeking to make the transition easier for all parties, I wanted to write you with my support for relocating these NOAA aircraft to the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport," Ross wrote to Christian Townsend, a senior realty specialist with the federal department.

He continued: "With office space immediately available to accommodate 100 NOAA workers and hangar space to house and maintain NOAA aircraft, (Lakeland Linder) is equipped to meet NOAA's needs on a short term basis. In the long term, it is prepared to construct a new permanent home specific to NOAA's requirement to house their employees and aircraft in one location."

Original article can be found here:

295 Air India cabin staff told to lose weight in last 5 years

CHENNAI: It takes more than the perfect smile and a trained accent to be a cabin crew member. Weight too is a qualification for in the last five years, Air India has asked 295 cabin crew members, mostly women, based at Chennai airport to lose weight.

An RTI application filed by reveals that of the 295, four were taken off permanently from flying duty after they failed to maintain the required Body Mass Index (BMI) or weight standards prescribed by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

BMI indicates `weight in proportion to height', which means whether a person is underweight, overweight and obese, or weighs appropriately for his or her height.DGCA guidelines say BMI of 18-25 is normal for a male cabin crew member while it is 18-22 for a female. A BMI of 2529.9 for male crew is treated as overweight and 30 and above is obese. BMI of 22-27 is overweight, and 27 and above is obese for female crew.

Statistics show that the number of Air India cabin crew members based in Chennai who have failed in BMI has come down from 65 in 2011-12 to 53 in 2015-16. However, the state airliner took off four crew members permanently from flying duty in 2014-15. The actual number of crew members who were taken off from the flying duty in airline industry could be higher as the rule is very stringent in private airlines. Air India officials said they declare `temporary unfit' the cabin crew who fail to reduce weight according to DGCA guidelines. If weight issues persist for more than 18 months, the crew would merit `permanent unfitness'.

"Such crew members will be assigned for an airport job which pays less than flying duty," said an official.

"Cabin crew declared unfit should undergo a gradual reduction of weight by a combination of diet, exercise and lifestyle change under periodic monitoring by the airline operator. Drastic weight reduction plans, medication and surgery for weight reduction have drawbacks which may affect the cabin crew adversely and are to be avoided," a DGCA circular reads.

Presently , Air India has 146 cabin crew staff based in Chennai which includes 78 permanent employees. An airline official said weights of cabin crew members were checked recently.

"They are grounded because they may not be able to perform emergency duty if they are overweight. Two to three chances are given. The problem is more with women.Many of them find it difficult to control BMI after pregnancy .A few of them volunteer for ground duty ," an official added.

Air India started to stress on appearance of cabin crew because during the UPA government, aviation ministry wanted the airline's crew to look smarter like private airlines. But former pilot and air safety expert captain Mohan Ranganathan said, "It's more of a sexist thing. An overweight person can be agile and a slim person may not have the fitness to perform duties on board." In 2009, an SC bench of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and H L Dattu, while hearing a petition filed by female cabin crew members who were dismissed for being overweight had said, "All the passengers will be happy if your air hostesses are good with them instead of (your adopting) this approach."

Original article can be found here:

Boeing 767-424ER, N59053, United Airlines: Incident occurred March 06, 2016 at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (KIAH), Houston, Texas


HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A United flight that made an emergency landing at Bush IAH yesterday is out of service today.

The flight was less than 1,000 feet in the air and less than five minutes after takeoff when trouble hit.

United Airlines says it was a bird strike that forced the plane to make the emergency landing at 6pm.

Denise Cooper, a seasoned international traveler, told Eyewitness News she sensed trouble.

"There was a strong vibration and then there was a rumbling from one of the engines. It was abnormal," Cooper said.

Another passenger, who identified herself only as Suzanne, said she saw smoke coming from one of the engines.

"A man across the aisle kept glaring at me to pull down my shade but I kept looking out," she said. "And I could smell something."

The smell was from the diesel fuel that was dumped from the plane, fuel that was supposed to carry it across the Atlantic Ocean.

"The pilot told us to over loudspeaker that the fuel was going to be dumped," Cooper said. "And the smell was pretty strong."

The emergency landing also caught the attention of people on the ground. Pictures were taken and video sent to Eyewitness News. The images appear to show condensation trails from the plane.

"The pilot told us everything that was going on and said we were returning to the airport and to expect a routine landing. But he also said we would be met by fire trucks on the runway," Cooper said.

She described it is a hard landing and said there was no clapping or cheering when the plane came to a stop.

"Everyone was serious," Cooper added.

The aircraft is out of service while mechanics inspect it. United rerouted the 184 passengers who were on-board.

Original article can be found here:

'Trainer hit me on the face, injuring my eyes,' Trainee pilot approaches Kerala govt: Though the trainer had been abusive for quite some time, on December 22 last year, he allegedly hit Rahul on the face during a training session

“My trainer used to hit me frequently. He used to warn me that in spite of the beatings, I would be forced to study as I had secured admission under reservation and my parents were manual laborers,” says R Rahul, a trainee pilot at the Rajiv Gandhi Academy for Aviation Technology, Thiruvananthapuram

The 21-year-old who hails from Kaniyapuram in Thiruvananthapuram has alleged that Vamsi Krishna, his trainer at the academy has been discriminating against him for being a Dalit and physically assaulting him for not paying bribes.

Rahul a first rank holder in the reserved category in the entrance examination had secured a scholarship that enabled him to join the institute in 2013.

“The course is a 200 hours training program divided into five schedules. The trainer demanded that everyone should pay bribes if they wished to get the certificate. He wanted Rs 5,000 per schedule. Many students were forced to pay, I could not have even I wished to,” says Rahul.

Though the trainer had been abusive for quite some time, on December 22 last year, he allegedly hit Rahul on the face during a training session.

“He never teaches me, and he was angrier after I said I could not pay the money. I was hospitalized for two days after the incident and that’s when I decided to complain,” he told The News Minute. (TNM).

“My eye was injured, but the director did not act. I gave a police complaint, but it was of no use. I wrote letters to Kerala and central govt, but got no responses. Finally, I approached the Lokayukta office and they filed a case. After that when some local media started reporting, I managed to meet Member of Parliament Anil Kumar,” Rahul said.

The Kerala government has constituted an enquiry committee that will be headed by Joint secretary AP Gopakumar.

"There is some issue involving the trainer and a probe has been ordered. Only after the probe can the academy pronounce its stand," M Sheriff, secretary of the academy and a member of the enquiry committee told TNM.

Original article can be found here:

Full-size replica Spitfire and series of Second World War aircraft engines among lots at auction of aviation fan's collection of flying memorabilia

Former pub landlord: Ex-miner Mr. Richards was 65 when he died from cancer in March last year.

Avid aviation fan: The late Bill Richards with his Griffon engine which used to be used on Spitfire aircraft.

An impressive collection of flying memorabilia including Second World War aircraft engines and a full-size replica Spitfire worth £10,000 is to go under the hammer.

The assortment has been put up for auction by the family of aviation fan Bill Richards from Bolton, Greater Manchester, who died after spending his life collecting plane-related items.

Former pub landlord and miner Mr. Richards, who was 65 when he passed away from cancer in March last year, used original parts to restore the cockpit of the fibreglass replica Spitfire.

Prized plane: Mr. Richards with his daughter Tammy, standing by the full-sized replica Spitfire worth £10,000.

And his daughter and son, Tammy and Wayne, said they would be sad to see his ‘labour of love’ go up for sale in a fortnight at the Cheffins Machinery Saleground in Sutton, Cambridgeshire.

Miss Richards said: ‘He's been collecting for years, I can't say how many. His dad served in the Second World War and he's always been interested and reading books about the conflict.

‘He was a proper family man and it was a hobby he shared with the family. We used to travel all over the country to different shows. He wanted to keep English heritage alive.

Originally from Canada: Another highlight of the collection is an unused Packard Merlin 28 V12 engine.

‘He used to get a lot of interest at the shows, including lots of children asking questions - dad loved that. We would love to carry on but since dad passed away it's been very difficult.’

Mr. Richards worked in the mining industry for more than 30 years before buying his first pub, The General Havelock in Bolton, and later moving to The Rumworth Hotel in nearby Deane and Greenfields Private Members' Club in Westhoughton.

He would showcase the fighter plane along with his various Second World War aircraft engines at a events throughout Britain, including 1940s weekends and VE Day and Remembrance Sunday services.

Compared: The Spitfire is pictured next to a Canadian Lancaster Bomber at Durham Tees Valley Airport.

Another highlight of the collection is an unused Packard Merlin 28 V12 engine, understood to have originated from Canada and which has a guide price of £30,000.

It also includes a boxed set of props from a Second World War Avro Shackleton bomber, with a guide price of £1,000 to £2,000.

There are also demonstration Rolls Royce Griffon engines that were used in Spitfires and the Shackleton, Rolls Royce Merlin engines, used in Spitfires and Lancaster Bombers, and Alvis Leonides radial engines, used in a variety of aircraft such as Percival Prince and Westland helicopters.

Engineering: Mr. Richards used original parts to restore the cockpit of the fibreglass replica Spitfire.

‘We would love it to go to someone who would continue to show them around the country like dad did,’ Miss Richards added.

The Spitfire comes on a trailer ready to assemble at shows and auctioneer Jerry Curzon, from Cheffins, said it was the first time the ‘incredibly unusual item’ was up for auction and interest could come from collectors and museums.

Auction: The Griffin Spitfire engine is part of the collection going under the hammer in Sutton, Cambridgeshire.

He said: ‘We feel very privileged to have been chosen by Mr Richards's family to sell his collection. We're sure that it will fire the enthusiasm of collectors and restorers alike.’

The Bill Richards Collection will be sold at Cheffins from 10.30am on March 19.

Original article can be found here:

Beech A36 Bonanza 36, Bonanza Partners LLC, N6600L: Incident occurred March 05, 2016 at Hanscom Field Airport (KBED), Bedford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts

Bonanza Partners LLC: 

BEDFORD (CBS) — A small plane made a hard landing Saturday at Hanscom Field in Bedford with its gears in the stowed position, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Beechcraft BE36 took off from Minute Man Airfield in Stow before making the landing at Hanscom around 4:20 p.m.

Witness Joseph Connolly told WBZ-TV’s Chantee Lans the pilot “went by, pancaked into Runway 5 and made a skidding stop.” He said the doors opened and people got out of the plane and walked to the grass.

Connolly told WBZ the pilot must have either forgotten to put its gears down or there was a mechanical failure.

He says the plane flew over him and he tried to alert the pilot that his gears weren’t down by waving his arms in the air, but “he probably thought I was some crazy guy at the end of the runway.”

He said there was another plane coming in behind the Beechcraft but authorities waved it off.

No one was hurt, says Concord Fire officials who also were called to the scene. It’s unclear how many people were on board at the time of the landing.

The FAA says the incident remains under investigation.

Original article can be found here:

BEDFORD, Mass. —An airplane was forced to land without landing gear at Hanscom Airfield Saturday evening.

Massport officials said the single-engine Beechcraft landed around 4:20 p.m.

Two people were on the plane, and neither was injured, official said.

Massport fire and rescue, as well as the fire departments from Hanscom Air Force Base, Lincoln, Lexington and Concord responded to the scene.

The airport remains open, officials said.

Original article can be found here:

BEDFORD, Mass. (WHDH) - A small plane made a hard landing in Bedford Saturday afternoon at the Hanscom Airfield.

The landing happened at around 4 p.m. Police said the plane hit the ground while its landing gear was still up.

Two people were on board the plane and both escaped without injury.

Southern Utah University announces online aviation degree

Southern Utah University’s School of Business recently announced the immediate availability of the aviation program's professional pilot degree online.

“The online aviation degree will be a huge benefit to students,” said Rich Cannon, school director and chief flight instructor at SUU’s aviation program. “They will be able to complete all of their degree requirements from home while doing flight training at one of our convenient locations.”

The update to the degree is due to student feedback.

It is immediately available for registration for the 2016 summer semester — the program gives students the unique opportunity of not having to reside in Cedar City to complete the degree, according to a news release.

Prospective students in Southern California can really benefit from the new degree.

“Students who are not able to relocate for the 24-month program to earn their AAS degree may now complete all of their university courses as well as their flight ground classes online, while completing their flight training for FAA certificates to fly helicopters or planes at the remote training facility located in the Temecula-Murrieta area,” said Nikki Koontz, assistant director of marketing at SUU.

To further the education of those who do decide to reside in Cedar City for their education, SUU will be adding two new flight simulators by the fall 2016 semester.

The two Frasca R44 simulators teach students in a controlled environment where weather conditions are not a concern, giving the students life-like flying experience of the Robinson R44 helicopter.

“Over the past few years, we’ve had customers mention that the fidelity of existing light helicopter simulators was inadequate and limited transfer of learning,” said John Frasca, president of Frasca International. “We listened and determined that a high fidelity device with a FTD Level 5 approval was needed. Our engineers were able to incorporate the fidelity and quality of our Full Flight Simulators into an entry level FTD.”

Cannon said aviation program students will see the immediate impacts of training in the simulators.

“Training can be paused as needed to allow for immediate feedback and instruction,” he said.

Upper Limit Aviation, the company that provides aircraft and other flight training resources to SUU, acquired the flight simulators, according to a news release.

ULA and SUU have provided students with flight training since 2013.

For information, visit the SUU website at

Original article can be found here:

Despite myths, 'Alaska's Skyboys' takes a measured look at pilots of the north

Author Katherine Ringsmuth balances popular history and academic research in her fascinating new book, “Alaska’s Skyboys: Cowboy Pilots and the Myth of the Last Frontier.”

Focusing on the pilots of the eastern region, Ringsmuth writes of their exploits in the Wrangell, Chugach and St. Elias mountain ranges and the towns of Valdez and Cordova. By her own admission, this is only a small geographic part of the Alaska aviation story, but it is a critical one, full of intriguing characters whose adventures more than fill the pages.

Ringsmuth is concerned with more than recounting mercy flights and life-and-death struggles against the elements. As she outlines in her introduction, the author seeks to understand how the bush pilot myth came to be:

Contributing to the bush pilot’s heroic persona was the magical machine with which angel-like fliers not only defied the laws of nature, but made it accessible in unprecedented ways. “No technology is more important in Alaska than that associated with aviation,” wrote historian Roderick Nash. “The Bush plane is Alaska’s covered wagon.”

In his romantically titled “Cowboys of the Sky,” writer Steven C. Levi exclaimed: “It was the airplane that brought Alaska into the 20th century.”

Yet he describes such transformative and progressive change using nostalgic expressions. He calls the bush pilot “the unsung hero of the north,” who, by overcoming mountains, glaciers, frigid temperatures and blinding blizzards, became “the stuff of legends.

“These ‘Cowboys of the Sky,’ ” insists Levi, “make Alaska what it still is today.” To Alaskans everywhere, aviation was a natural extension of the pioneering days of the gold rushes -- indeed, Alaska’s own manifest destiny.

Those inhabiting Levi’s legendary Alaska would surely agree that it is an exceptional place. Most would describe bush pilots as self-reliant, individualistic, defiant and daring individuals. The perception of Bush pilots as modern-day cowboys of the North, who embody the frontier spirit of Alaska, remains a powerful narrative.

For many Alaskans, the names Ringsmuth mentions will be familiar: Bob Reeve, Harold Gillam, Merle Smith and UAF’s “flying president” Terris Moore are still remembered. Other aviators such as Ben Eielson and Joe Crosson make cameo appearances, as Ringsmuth covers history from the trailblazing bush pilot years, to aircraft’s incorporation into the mining industry, the territorial war effort and the midcentury mountaineering and scientific achievements made possible with assistance from planes and pilots.

While Ringsmuth, who teaches history at the University of Alaska Anchorage and is owner of the public history consulting business Tundra Vision, cannot resist repeating some hair-raising flying stories (they did happen after all!), she is measured in her analysis of aviation’s economic impact on pilots and their communities. These men -- and they were overwhelmingly men -- were certainly brave, but the author is clear to point out they were smart businessmen, too. They spotted business opportunities and they pursued them. That people labeled them heroes in the process was an unexpected bonus.

Much of Alaska history is wrapped in myth and the state has shrewdly embraced its often-legendary status. There’s little doubt that Americans need a frontier; it is part of our national makeup that shows no signs of fading.

Alaska pilots never sought to be considered “cowboys of the sky,” but as the author shows, it happened nonetheless. Ringsmuth’s thoroughly engaging look at the development of this phenomenon is a fascinating peek at how uniquely American the Alaska bush pilot truly is.

Story and photo gallery:

New Clark Regional Airport (KJVY) ordinance to standardize fees: Ordinance took effect March 1

SELLERSBURG — An ordinance standardizing fees for services at the Clark Regional Airport that was set forth in February took effect at the beginning of this month.

The ordinance, adopted by the South Central Regional Airport Authority at its Feb. 17 regular meeting was designed to codify expectations on fuel flow fees for the airport's two fixed-base operators, Honaker Aviation and Aircraft Specialists, Inc. It also updates landing and parking fees for aircraft not based at the airport and sets the license fees for commercial aircraft operators the same across the board.

Airport manager John Secor said the ordinance is to standardize things, and won't necessarily bring in more airport revenue. Although the fees were covered in resolutions before, an ordinance will hold more water.

“There is no immediate increase economically to charge user fees,” he said. “It's more of a leveling the playing field and setting the precedent for the future.”

The fuel flow fee for fixed-base operators stands at 10 cents per gallon of fuel purchased from the airport. Prior to the ordinance, the fee was 10 cents per gallon no matter how many were sold, and is now amended to charge 10 cents per gallon up to 500,000 in a year, then 5 cents per gallon per fixed-base operators after that.

Secor said he also wanted to clean up the language of the requirements on the landing and parking fees for non-based aircraft. The previous resolution was several years old and outdated in parts.

“Some of the aircraft category types don't even exist anymore, that's how old this thing is,” he said. “So I just cleaned that up and brought it in line with what I saw.”

The new fees are based on the certified maximum takeoff weight of the aircraft and are as follows: twin engine piston aircraft more than 6,000 pounds, $25; single or multi-engine turbo prop aircraft less than 12,500 pounds, $25; single or multi-engine turbo prop aircraft 12,500 pounds and above, $35; turbo jet/fan aircraft under 12,500 pounds, $35; turbo jet/fan aircraft under 12,501 to 30,000 pounds, $65; turbo jet/fan aircraft 30,001 pounds and above, $95; and helicopters, $25.

License fees for commercial aircraft operators is $500 per month for up to five airport-based aircraft and $100 per month for each additional aircraft. This applies to three commercial operators at the airport — Air Methods, JR Aviation and ATP Flight School.

If all three comply, the income from these fees will still be approximately $18,000 per year, Secor said. Prior to the ordinance, JR Aviation paid approximately $1,000 per month or $12,000 per year, ATP Flight School paid approximately $500 per month or $6,000 per year and Air Methods did not pay a license fee to the airport.

At the February meeting, Air Methods regional logistics manager Byant Schumate voiced his opposition to the new fees.

“Our primary opposition is not to the fee — we understand what it's for,” Schumate said. “The problem is we did not know about the fee when we moved into the location. We just actually within the last six months found out about the fee. So we kind of feel like this is more a dispute between our landlord, Honaker Aviation, and the airport authority versus us.” He said Air Methods has been at the airport about three-and-a-half years.

Secor previously stated that Honaker stopped paying its fuel flow fees to the airport in fall and the authority is working to collect those fees. He said the ordinance is not any kind of retaliation to that, and that talks of regulating the license fees started more than a year ago.

Jim Robinson, president of JR Aviation, has been a sub-tenant of the airport since 2000, also leasing from Honaker, which was Hap's when JR Aviation came to the airport. Robinson said he didn't know about the fees when his company got to the airport, but began paying them as soon as they did. He said he just wants Air Methods to pay their fair share going forward.

Secor said the first bills with the new fees will be sent out soon.

Original article can be found here:

Featured letter: Let the chopper land

A view of the dock that would be rebuilt to clear room for a helicopter to land.

The request to the Greenport Village Board by Walter Gezari, owner of STIDD Systems, to use a helicopter to make his business more efficient is not much different than many other American companies that use general aviation.

According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the speed and efficiency of business flying is one of the key reasons that American companies are such strong competitors in the global economy, making business aviation one of the most important segments of general aviation.

The general aviation fleet of 224,000 aircraft and America’s nearly 20,000 public and private airports and heliports allow key employees to be in the right place at the right time to meet the vital needs of customers.

Most businesses that use general aviation are located in the industrial areas of municipal airports. STIDD Systems has invested the last 25 years in the Village of Greenport. The village being on an island further isolates STIDD from its clients and manufacturers. His request for three flights per week should be taken very seriously by the Village Board for him to make his business more efficient and competitive.

Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach has just opened an industrial park on the field. These new buildings have loading docks and ample parking. This would be a perfect place for STIDD to relocate should the village fail to approve the flights.

The Village Board should consider the effect of the flights on the entire village. As chairman of the Gabreski Airport Noise Abatement committee, we found that if aircraft flew specific approach and departure flight paths, 95 percent of the noise effecting the adjacent community was eliminated. The Village Board needs to evaluate flight paths and make any approval subject to following those paths.

As for changing the character of the village, individuals opposed to these flights should look at these three flights per week against numerous loud, high-powered boats and thousands of people on Claudio’s dock on the weekend. Allowing these minimal flights keeps an employer of 50 people in the village.

Original article can be found here:

Featured letter: A helicopter in Greenport? Bad idea

Greenport business owner seeking to land helicopter in Village

A Greenport Village business owner hopes to land a private helicopter behind his Carpenter Street property so he can decrease the time spent traveling to vendors and customers. 

Walter Gezari, the owner of STIDD Systems, plans to demolish the old Cooper Seafood Dock building and replace it with a smaller building that would leave enough space for a helicopter to land. The helicopter would only be for private use, he said, and he would not technically be building a helipad.

The issue came up at Thursday’s Greenport Village Board meeting. Mayor George Hubbard Jr. said the project needs approval from the Village Board before moving forward. Mr. Gezari was not present at the meeting.

“I’m not trying to commute to work from my home in Calverton,” Mr. Gezari said in an interview. “What I am intending to do is come by helicopter from an FAA-approved airport to this landing spot and then be able to go from the landing spot to New York, Connecticut, Vermont, or other places where we have vendors and customers.”

Mr. Gezari said his business has customers all over the northeast and he picks up people and components several times a week by helicopter to accelerate business.

STIDD Systems has been in the village for 25 years and makes ergonomic marina seats for recreational and military uses, and military submersible boats. The company has about 50 employees, at least 40 based in Greenport, and most of them live in Greenport Village or Southold Town, Mr. Gezari said.

“I was in Burlington, Vt. yesterday picking up critical components for a military shipment we made parts for,” Mr. Gezari said. “To go there by helicopter would be 45 minutes each way. To go by car would be two days, and to use commercial airlines you’d be on a plane all day.”

Mr. Gezari said his helicopter departures and arrivals are “30 seconds in and 30 seconds out. It’s less than a leaf blower and not as long as a riding mower.”

The helicopter approaches and departures would be made over the water, not over homes, he said. He estimated the helicopter would be used about three times a week.

Police helicopters occasionally land at nearby Eastern Long Island Hospital and the Greenport High School grounds, he said.

At the village board meeting, Mr. Hubbard said that Mr. Gezari would seek to relocate his business to the now-closed Mattituck Airport if he can’t get approval in Greenport.

“At first, I said, he’s threatening us,” Mr. Hubbard said. “He’s going to move if he doesn’t get this. But in reality, he’s cleaning up another property downtown on the waterfront, and creating good paying jobs. That’s my personal feeling on it.”

Mr. Hubbard said he lives on the same street as ELIH, where “helicopters come in, and it’s 20 seconds. They come in and they take off.”

Mr. Gezari said it’s not a threat, it’s a reality for his business.

“I need to integrate the aviation activity with the business activity,” he said. “It’s enabled us to grow to the point we are at. Without it, we’d be many years behind where we are now.”

He said the company’s growth is tied into some large contracts it has now and some that are coming.

“We can’t make this stuff fast enough,” he said.

As for the Mattituck Airport, Mr. Gezari said that while he has no agreement in place with the airport’s owners, if he can’t land his helicopter at his Greenport business, and the Mattituck Airport were to be sold to someone else for a non-aviation use, he would have to move his business farther west despite most of his employees living in Southold Town, specifically Greenport Village.

Asked about Riverhead Town’s Enterprise Park at Calverton, (EPCAL), Mr. Gezari said most of his employees wouldn’t want to travel that far west. He added that he had some bad experiences with Riverhead Town in the past.

The town was involved in a lawsuit with Mr. Gezari over the use of his helicopter in Calverton. The lawsuit was eventually settled with Mr. Gezari agreeing not to land his helicopter near his Calverton home.

Mr. Hubbard said the village board must first decide if it will allow Mr. Gezari to land his helicopter at its business.

If the village board approves it, a decision that’s expected in about a month, the application for the new building and helicopter landing site would go to other agencies, including the Village planning board, the state and the Federal Aviation Administration for additional approvals.

Original article can be found here:

Featured Letter: A helicopter in Greenport? Bad idea

I have just read with horror the proposal for a private helipad in downtown Greenport.

We here in Southold Town value our peace and quiet and the calm that comes from that peace and quiet. Greenport is a picturesque village — very attractive to tourists. It is not an industrial area.

A large number of Southold Town citizens have been tirelessly battling the current incessant helicopter traffic to the Hamptons. Now, Walter Gezari, the owner of STIDD Systems, wants to replace an old dock with a helipad so he can make quicker deliveries of boat seats? Really?

I am constantly astonished by some folks’ belief that the public good is not as important as commerce. I am all for more jobs; but ruining the peace and quiet of Greenport will ultimately destroy the very reason Greenport is a tourist destination.

Cathy Haft, Southold

Original article can be found here:

Available property at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport (KRMG) an asset; extension of runway is near

Richard B. Russell Regional Airport lineman Ricky Ramsey fuels a plane on the tarmac outside the terminal. Fuel sales are a major source of revenue for the airport. 

Richard B. Russell Regional Airport has long been touted as one of Rome’s underutilized assets. Airport Manager Mike Mathews has made significant strides in recent years toward turning that around.

The property itself is perhaps the airport’s best asset.

“I think we have almost 500 acres that we can work with, build new T-hangars, new corporate hangars,” Mathews said.

If aviation-related industry executives are to seriously consider the Floyd County airport, the eastern side of the property closer to Old Dalton Road would be the primary focus for development.

“We want to be smart if somebody does come to us,” Mathews said. “We’re going to be particular.”

Heather Seckman, economic development director at the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce, said she attends a number of aviation trade shows annually.

Seckman pitches the airport to companies that manufacture aircraft stabilization devices and any kind of industry involved in the manufacturing of avionics.

Aircraft used in the Georgia Northwestern Technical College Aviation program are lined up outside the GNTC hangar at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport.

Mathews said the airport ended 2015 with a profit of approximately $23,000. Had it not rained on the Saturday of the Wings Over North Georgia air show in October, Mathews estimates his profit could have been close to $60,000.

Looking to the future, the airport manager said once the main runway is extended to 7,000 feet and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds or U.S. Navy Blue Angels are able to use the airport as a base of operations during the air show, his profit could get well into six figures.

The runway project, financing for which was included in the 2013 SPLOST package, will be getting underway this year.

“We’re going to be doing the environmental assessment and engineering this year,” Mathews said.

He estimates it will take 12 to 15 months to complete those phases of the project, which are expected to cost close to $550,000.

Mathews said whatever environmental remediation or mitigation is required will take place in 2017 and that actual construction of the runway could begin very late that year or early in 2018. “From what I understand that’s only a six- to eight-month project,” Mathews said.

Cargo planes carry a lot of weight and need the additional length for both landings and takeoffs, which is where the extra 1,000 feet would help.

Mathews has indicated some industrial prospects have advised him and Floyd County leaders that the 7,000-foot runway is necessary to meet their insurance regulations.

The runway extension is largely a safety issue, not just a means to bring larger aircraft into the airport.

Safety issues have also been high on Mathews’ priority list at the airport for several years.

Mathews was able to acquire a crash truck for the airport early in 2015, and the Rome-Floyd County Fire Department has subsequently donated four sets of used turnout gear for the crash truck crew.

That includes helmets, fire-retardant pants and jackets, gloves and boots.

“It’s used but I don’t care,” Mathews said. “They make me look like I’ve been fighting fires for years.”

Now, Mathews said he is looking for some volunteers to help man the unit. Mathews said the volunteers would require aircraft rescue firefighting certification.

The crash truck was purchased through a Georgia Forestry Commission grant and came to Rome from the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.

He said the airport needs heated space to house the truck. “I keep a little heater out there that helps the cause,” Mathews said. “I need to keep it warm in the winter time.”

Mathews plans to accompany a Chamber of Commerce delegation to Washington this month to lobby Federal Aviation Administration officials for funding to complete perimeter security fencing at the airport.

The north perimeter fencing is about a $600,000 to $700,000 project to completely enclose the airport. Engineering for that project has been funded at $30,000.

This year’s Wings Over North Georgia Air Show has been scheduled for October 29 and 30. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are scheduled to be back after a successful performance at the 2014 air show.

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