Sunday, May 15, 2016

PenAir adds bigger, faster aircraft to its fleet



PenAir’s bigger and faster commuter plane drew a big crowd to the Unalaska airport last week, with about 200 local residents taking a close look at the Saab 2000, which can carry more passengers and get to Anchorage more quickly than previous aircraft used on that route, according to spokeswoman Missy Roberts.

The new planes are already in service on an unscheduled basis, but starting May 27 all flights between Anchorage and Unalaska/Dutch Harbor will use the larger aircraft. 

In the Bristol Bay market, the new planes will complement the smaller aircraft, which will continue to serve Dillingham and the Bristol Bay Borough. The 2000s will start scheduled service in Bristol Bay in early to mid-June, she said. The 2000s won’t be used on all Bristol Bay flights, but several daily flights will employ the new planes, she said. 

The May 6 event in Unalaska featured a new plane filled with VIPs from throughout the region who were picked up at stops in Dillingham and King Salmon, Roberts said. The very important passengers included Native organization leaders, and PenAir top officials including company President Danny Seybert, and his father and airline founder Oren Seybert. 

Roberts said PenAir is now operating three 2000s, and two more of the leased aircraft will arrive soon.

For the past 15 years, PenAir has been operating the 30-seat Saab 340 aircraft in its Alaska markets, and, since 2012, in its Northeast U.S. markets. 

“In cooperation with Alaska Airlines we are thrilled to be able to operate a newer, faster and larger aircraft on the routes we fly for them in Alaska under our codeshare relationship”, said Danny Seybert last year.

The Saab 2000 is a 54-seat aircraft that will be modified for flying in Alaska in a 45-seat configuration. “This  new seating configuration will be comparable to the leg space that most narrow-body jet carriers offer their first class passengers,” said Seybert. 

The new aircraft will initially be utilized on all flights between Anchorage and Dutch Harbor/Unalaska, which PenAir operates on behalf of Alaska  Airlines. Under this arrangement, PenAir operates and maintains the aircraft, while Alaska schedules and  sells tickets on the flights.

The Saab 340 operates at 250 knots/290 mph, whereas the Saab 2000 will fly faster at 375 knots/430 mph. 

“A typical flight to Dutch Harbor/Unalaska on the Saab 2000 will take nearly 45 minutes less to complete than the Saab 340,” said Andrew Harrison, senior vice president of planning and revenue management for Alaska Airlines. 

“Our customers will enjoy arriving to their destination faster in the modern Saab 2000, which also has the added benefit of offering 20 percent more baggage capacity than the Saab 340,” Harrison said.

About 15 years ago, Alaska Airlines stopped flying Boeing 737s into Unalaska because of excessive weather-related cancellations.  The jets made the trip to Anchorage in about two hours, faster than the Saab 340 which takes about three hours. Anchorage is 792 miles from Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, according to Alaska Airlines’ mileage chart. 

Original article can be found here:  https://www.adn.com

Cessna R182 Skylane RG, San Diego Skylane LLC, N133BW: Fatal accident occurred May 15, 2016 in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California

San Diego Skylane LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N133BW

FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Van Nuys FSDO-01

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA111
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, May 15, 2016 in Altadena, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA R182, registration: N133BW
Injuries: 1 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 May 15, 2016, about 0829 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna R182, N133BW, was destroyed when it impacted terrain during cruise flight near Altadena, California. The airplane was registered to San Diego Skylane LLC., and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The cross-country flight originated from Montgomery Field, San Diego, California, at 0737, with an intended destination of the Santa Monica Airport (SMO), Santa Monica, California.

Preliminary information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) indicated that the pilot was being vectored for an instrument approach to SMO. The pilot established radio communication with the controller and subsequently acknowledged obtaining weather information at the destination airport. About 2 minutes, 26 seconds later, the controller issued the pilot a heading change to 290 degrees and a descent clearance to 3,000 feet for vectors to final approach. However, the controller received no response from the pilot despite multiple attempts over the course of about 2 minutes. The pilot then transmitted that he was on a 030 degree heading. The controller continued to issue vectors away from rising terrain and made several attempts to communicate with the pilot; however, no further radio communication from the pilot were heard. Radar contact with the airplane was subsequently lost and an alert notice (ALNOT) was issued by the FAA. The wreckage was located later that evening by a Los Angeles County Sheriff Office air unit. The wreckage was located within mountainous terrain near Brown Mountain, about 2 miles north, northwest of Altadena. Law enforcement personnel and initial responders reported that the airplane was mostly consumed by a post impact fire. Recovery of the wreckage is currently pending.

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




SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Newly released recordings reveal that Dr. Thomas Bruff, the pilot killed in a small plane crash in the Los Angeles National Forest Sunday, lost contact with air traffic controllers moments before the crash.

The Cessna R182 Skylane RG was flying from Montgomery Field in San Diego to Santa Monica when it crashed into Brown Mountain. The last radar contact was around 8:30 a.m.

The audio recordings reveal the urgency in air traffic controllers' voices as they tried to communicate with Dr. Bruff because he was flying too low. Their efforts to get him to a higher elevation were met with silence.

According to the audio recordings, Dr. Bruff was in constant contact with air traffic controllers as he made his way from Montgomery Field in San Diego to Santa Monica.

As he flew over Los Angeles, the 57-year-old pilot went silent.

Air traffic controllers repeatedly tried to reach him to warn him about his low altitude. All contact was lost with Dr. Bruff about six miles North of the Rose Bowl.

The white Cessna 182 aircraft with blue stripes was located about 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the 4,000-foot level about four miles north of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Six search-and-rescue teams worked for hours to locate the plane.

Dr. Bruff's body was recovered Monday night.

The FAA and NTSB are investigating what caused the crash.


Story and video:  http://www.cbs8.com



A San Diego doctor died Sunday when the plane he was piloting crashed in the Angeles National Forest.

Thomas C. Bruff, M.D., 57, loved to fly and was an experienced pilot, one of his employees told NBC 7 Tuesday.

"He loved to fly," Gina Montoya said. "That's one of the biggest things that he loved to do and he did it often, almost every weekend and multiple times during the week."

Gina Montoya worked as Bruff’s assistant for four years. When he didn't show up for work Monday at his office on Waring Road, she says she knew something bad had happened.

The Los Angeles County Coroner confirmed Tuesday that Bruff was the pilot killed in a  Cessna 182 single-engine light plane that crashed Sunday morning near Mount Wilson Road and State Route 2.

Bruff was flying from Montgomery Field Airport to Santa Monica Municipal Airport when the plane lost contact 17 miles east of Van Nuys, according to a Federal Aviation Authority spokesman.

Bruff also had an office in El Centro. The Imperial Valley Occupational Medicine office posted a notice to its patients informing them of the news.

"We are all saddened by Dr. Bruff's sudden passing. We remain committed to providing quality medical care to your employees and injured workers," the statement reads.

Pilot in Fatal LA-Area Crash Member of Montgomery Field Flying Club[DGO] Pilot in Fatal LA-Area Crash Member of Montgomery Field Flying Club

Montoya said Bruff was good father, a good friend and a Padres fan who also found time to volunteer.

"He volunteered after the earthquake in Ecuador and in Nepal, and he took care of a lot of people and did a lot of medical expeditions like that, and he was just a great person," she said.

"He was just a really great man and everyone loved him," Montoya said.

The San Diego-based plane is owned by Tom Reid, who leases it to experienced pilots.

The cause of the crash will be determined following an FAA investigation.


Story and video: http://www.nbcsandiego.com 

An image from the website FlightRadar24, showing the flight path of the Cessna R182 Skylane RG plane that went down in the Angeles National Forest on the morning of May 15, 2016.

An image from the website FlightAware, showing the flight path of the Cessna R182 Skylane RG plane that went down in the Angeles National Forest on the morning of May 15, 2016.


ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> A small airplane crashed in the Angeles National Forest north of Altadena Sunday morning, killing a man. 

One unidentified man was pronounced dead at the crash scene, Deputy Kimberly Alexander of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau said. There were no initial reports of any additional injuries or any additional people on board the plane, she said.


Rescuers searched the Angeles National Forest near Mount Wilson for more than seven hours before finding the crash site after the small airplane vanished from radar amid inclement weather Sunday morning, officials said.


The missing aircraft was first reported shortly after 9:10 a.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.


“Apparently, it went off radar,” sheriff’s Lt. Randy Tuinstra said.


Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer confirmed officials lost communications with the single-engine airplane.


“We have a reported missing aircraft, a Cessna 182. ... Traveling from Montgomery Field in San Diego to Santa Monica Municipal Airport,” he said. “Contact was lost 17 miles east of Van Nuys.”


No witnesses reported seeing the aircraft in trouble, Tuinstra said.


According to FlightRadar24.com, the aircraft’s last reported altitude was about 4,000 feet below the elevation of nearby mountain tops.


Bad weather prevented sheriff’s department helicopters from joining the search.


“Visibility is very, very low right now,” Tuinstra said Sunday morning. “We’re hoping that will burn off soon and we can get a better look.”


Members of the Montrose, Altadena, San Dimas, Sierra Madre and Santa Clarita search and rescue teams continued scouring the area on the ground until the weather improved in the afternoon, allowing search helicopters to join in the operation, officials said.


The aircraft crash site was found near the 4,466-foot-tall Brown Mountain, in the forest north of Altadena, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the sheriff’s Information Bureau.


The airplane is registered to San Diego Skylane LLC, according to FAA records. It has a valid, standard-classification flight certification


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


SAN DIEGO – A small airplane that had departed from a San Diego airport was discovered crashed in the mountains north of Pasadena Sunday.

The white Cessna 182 aircraft with blue stripes was spotted before 9 a.m. near Mount Wilson in the Angeles National Forest, according to a Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatcher. 


The wreckage was near Mount Wilson Road at the Angeles Crest Highway, state Route 2.


A heavy deck of clouds limited visibility to 200 feet, the dispatcher said.


“They (search and rescue teams) can see it, but they’re unable to tell if there are any passengers,” she said. “They’re having an access problem.”


The FAA reported that the pilot had indicated a flight from San Diego to Santa Monica, west of Los Angeles. The crash site was not on a direct route, as Mount Wilson is about 90 miles northwest of San Diego and 35 miles northeast of Santa Monica.


Radar data from Flightaware.com showed that the plane had departed from Montgomery Field in San Diego at 7:37 a.m. today, and was apparently in an approach pattern to Santa Monica Airport when it flew in a straight line to the northeast. The radar path ended near Mount Wilson.


FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the plane had been en route from Montgomery Field to Santa Monica. It lost contact with ground controllers when it was 17 miles east of Van Nuys Airport, but no time of the contact loss was released.


The Cessna’s tail number was N133BW, and FAA records indicate it was owned by a San Diego company.


Original article can be found here:   http://fox5sandiego.com


SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — 5:10 p.m. — Authorities have located the crashed Cessna 182 in the Angeles National Forest, discovering the plane at approximately 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon, Los Angeles County Sheriff's department confirmed. Rescue crews searched through the mountain for hours, battling low visibility due to foggy conditions. 

One male was discovered dead in the wreckage. Officials do not believe there were any other passengers on board. 

The Federal Aviation Administration is handling the investigation. 

12 p.m. — A Cessna 182 with tail number N133BW was found crashed in the Angeles National Forest. The plane had departed from Montgomery Field in San Diego at 7:37 a.m. Sunday morning and was en route to Santa Monica. The aircraft was in a holding pattern to Santa Monica Airport when it flew in a straight line to the northeast. The radar path dropped near Mount Wilson.    

11:26 a.m. — A small aircraft that departed from a San Diego airport was found crashed in the Angeles National Forest, north of Pasadena. A white Cessna 182 aircraft with blue stripes was discovered before 9 a.m. Sunday morning near Mount Wilson, according to a Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatcher. 

The crash was near Mount Wilson Rd. at the Angeles Crest Highway, state Route 2. 

Heavy clouds in the skies limited visibility to 200 ft., according to the dispatcher. "They (search and rescue teams) can see it, but they're unable to tell if there are any passengers," she said. "They're having an access problem."

The FAA indicated that the pilot was on a flight from San Diego to Santa Monica. The location of the crash was outside of a direct route to the pilot's destination. 

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



LOS ANGELES (AP) - The body of a pilot has been found in the wreckage of a small plane crash in the mountains north of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Kimberly Alexander said the Cessna 182 was found in Brown Mountain, in the Angeles National Forest above Altadena Sunday afternoon.

She said one body was found at the scene.

Crews on the ground and in the air had been looking for the aircraft after the plane was reported missing Sunday morning during a flight from San Diego to Santa Monica.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer says the plane was about 17 miles east of Van Nuys when contact was lost.

The search was hampered by low clouds earlier in the day.

EDITORIAL: Airline ticket tax funds free money for rural airports



Warren County is spending more money on the Floyd D. Bennett Memorial Airport.

But not really, we are told.

We know, you’ve heard this one before.

Warren County supervisors have decided to spend $525,000 to purchase land around the airport so that trees can be cut to make landings and takeoffs safer. And since the Federal Aviation Administration is picking up most of the cost—Warren County will pay just $25,000—the purchase is a no-brainer.

It’s not our money, we are told.

Let’s face it, most of us would not even know that Warren County has an airport if it wasn’t for the annual Adirondack Balloon Festival. And while rural airports like Warren County are touted as an asset in attracting business to the region, we’ve seen no tangible proof of that in recent years, while taxpayers continue to pick up operating expenses that are approximately $750,000.

Considering the advances in modern telecommunications, it’s hard to imagine many corporate jets being used on business trips to Warren County.

Still, we understand the supervisors’ reluctance to turn down such a large chunk of federal generosity. We just wish it was being used to fix roads and bridges.

We also know that in lieu of some major botany breakthrough, the Federal Reserve has still not found a way to grow money on trees.

So where do the airport freebies come from?

It turns out it is a traveler’s tax.

We found an instructive USA Today investigation from 2009 that shed some light on the free money.

The Airport Improvement Program has been around for about 35 years now. According to the USA Today report, the program raises billions of dollars a year thorough taxes on airline tickets. The tax can be as high as 15 percent on each ticket sold. And that may have gone up since 2009.

Congress has directed that money to be spent on “general-aviation” airports like the ones we have in Warren and Saratoga counties. These are almost always rural airports that have no commercial flights and benefit just a small number of private pilots.

The USA Today report estimated that the program gives money to about 2,000 airports each year for projects such as runway improvements and expansions.

That may sound familiar. The last one in Warren County caused quite a ruckus.

We found a spending database for the Airport Improvement Program on the FAA website.

Over the past six years, more than $137 million has been allocated to rural “general aviation” airports around New York to improve transportation hubs like Ogdensburg International, Oneonta Municipal, Potsdam Municipal, Finger Lakes Regional and county airports in Fulton, Columbia, Saratoga, Dutchess and Sullivan counties.

It is unlikely any of you has ever changed planes in any of these places, but you are still paying for airport improvements and upgrades there.

The USA Today article further found that Congress had expanded annual funding 10 times between 1982 and 2009. Funding increased from $470 million in 1999 to $1 billion in 2007.

We wondered why there was so much interest from Congress in improving small airports.

USA Today found that many members of Congress use “general-aviation” airports to get around their districts and states. Members of Congress took 2,154 trips on corporate-owned jets from 2001-06, according to a study by PoliticalMoneyLine, an independent research group.

We’ve never faulted the county for taking what was considered free money for a county asset. But it is now clear that Warren County should not draw our ire, but Congress’ continued funding of the Airport Improvement Program should.

Essentially, Congress has implemented a hidden tax on airline travel — as much as $75 for a $500 airline ticket — that we believe should be rescinded. We’re hoping Rep. Elise Stefanik might be willing to look into that.

Without the tax, the Airline Improvement Program could no longer subsidize runway improvements and extensions. That would force rural counties — like Warren County — to take a hard look at how important the county airport is to the community without the carrot of free money.

We suspect county supervisors would have a very different opinion of the airport as an asset if they had to pay the full freight.

And that would be real progress.

Read more here:  http://poststar.com/news/opinion/editorial

Pilots: Federal Aviation Administration runway extension at Gnoss Field Airport (KDVO) not long enough

Pilot Matthew Podboy of San Anselmo would like to see a longer runway than the one proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration.


A Nanchang CJ-6 airplane takes off from Gnoss Field in Novato. The Federal Aviation Administration reduced a proposed runway extension from 1,100 feet to 300 feet. 



Craig Sonderman lives in Ohio, but as the private pilot for a half-dozen Marin County families, Sonderman has come to know Gnoss Field well.

His view: Make the 3,300-foot runway longer.

“Anytime you have a longer runway, if you have an engine go out, or any kind of problem, if you have runway in front of you — you can put it back down,” said Sonderman, who operates a Beechcraft King Air 200. “Longer is always better.”

That may be true, but a new Federal Aviation Administration proposal significantly reduces a proposed runway extension from 1,100 feet to just 300 feet at the 120-acre airport just north of Novato.

That’s because the modern aircraft that regularly use Gnoss Field don’t need that much space, according to a study conducted for the FAA by Landrum and Brown, a global aviation consulting firm.

The Class B-II Turboprop, which was determined to be the most demanding aircraft taking off and landing most frequently at the airport, does not require 4,400 feet of runway, FAA officials said.

“Class B-II Turboprop aircrafts are not jets (they have propellers) and do not require as long a runway to take off,” Ian Gregor, spokesman for the FAA’s Pacific Division, said in an email.

The recommendation is the latest twist in an effort by the FAA dating back to 1989 to improve safety and efficiency at local airports such as the county-owned Gnoss Field.

The proposed runway extension would be one part of a larger project that includes adjustments to the field’s taxiway, a levee extension, realignment of drainage facilities and relocation and modification of navigational aids, said Robert Goralka, principal civil engineer for the county Department of Public Works.

The estimated cost of a 300-foot extension is not yet known, but Goralka said it would be substantially less than the $14 million to $16 million price tag for the earlier 1,100-foot extension proposal.

County officials will seek FAA and Caltrans grants to help pay for final studies, design work and construction costs, he said.

FLIGHT DATA

The latest study that determined a 300-foot extension is appropriate cost $84,613 — paid 90 percent by an FAA grant and the remainder by the county — and examined what is known as “critical aircraft” at the air field. Critical aircraft are the most demanding aircraft that have 500 annual takeoffs and landings at an airport.

At Gnoss, that has changed in past years from the Cessna 525 Citation jet, based on 2009 forecasts, to Class B-II Turboprop aircraft, according to FAA officials. Class B-II is a designation that refers to aircraft that approach at 91 to 121 knots, have a tail height of 20 to 30 feet and a wingspan of 49 to 79 feet.

The study was commissioned after the FAA released a final environmental impact study on the project in June 2014. The review process of the study included evaluation of Gnoss’s aircraft flight data.

“Our evaluation of that data suggested that aviation activity and the critical aircraft at Gnoss Field Airport may have changed since the FAA approved the Gnoss Field Airport aviation forecast in 2009,” Gregor said.

The county will hold a public meeting on the study at 6 p.m. June 2 at the Board of Supervisors’ chamber at the Civic Center. Comments will be accepted through June 17. The FAA will then complete its supplemental environmental impact statement.

Dan Jensen, Gnoss airport manager, said initially he was surprised by the FAA’s finding that a shorter runway extension would suffice, but he said he is just happy the project is moving forward.

“It’s good,” Jensen said. “Because anything that is an extension is good (for) safety. It just makes it that much more usable for the pilots.”

AIRPORT NOISE

Dwight Goodwin, a flight trainer with AirWard Inc. at Gnoss Field, said the 1,100-foot extension would be more beneficial, as it would not only be safer for pilots. It would also benefit those who live near the airport, he said.

“If we start taking off from farther away from those houses down there, which are noise-sensitive neighbors, we’ll be able to get higher, faster and safer and turn away from them and be quieter and then they can sleep. Whereas if the runway is 1,100 feet closer to them, we’ll be taking off closer to them and louder and they won’t like it,” Goodwin said.

Matthew Podboy, of San Anselmo, said a longer runway is beneficial for many reasons.

“It’s less stress on the engine — and that’s a noise consideration,” said Podboy, who has been licensed to fly since 1999. “It’s a more comfortable learning environment for students and a more comfortable teaching environment for instructors. I think it just psychologically has an impact on people using it.”

News of the recommended reduction comes with praise from environmentalists who in the past have raised concerns that a 1,100-foot runway extension would require filling almost 12 acres of wetlands, as well as nearly 3 acres of channels and ditches.

“It was just a greater impact than we felt was necessary,” said Susan Stompe of Novato, a director of the Marin Conservation League.

Stompe said she was delighted to learn the land would not be filled in as much as expected. The area serves as habitat for burrowing owls, harvest mice and other wetland species, she said.

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

Cirrus SR22, Strato Cirrus LLC, N463C; accident occurred May 15, 2016 at Palm Beach County Glades Airport (KPHK), Pahokee, Florida -Kathryn's Report

STRATO CIRRUS LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N463C

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA234
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, May 15, 2016 in Pahokee, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/14/2016
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N463C
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that he encountered a sudden wind shift during the landing flare, the right wing rose, and the airplane bounced during touchdown. The pilot further reported that he applied full power to abort the landing and became airborne. During the initial climb, the airplane continued to the left despite the pilot's full aileron application to the right, the left wing impacted terrain, and the airplane cartwheeled to a stop next to the runway.

The fuselage and right wing sustained substantial damage.

The pilot did not report any mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain directional control and lateral bank control during the aborted landing, which resulted in collision with terrain.



PAHOKEE, Fla. - The Pahokee airport was shut down Sunday after a plane made a hard landing. 

The pilot was able to get out and was not injured.

The plane had damage to the front and rear of the craft.

Story and video:  http://www.wptv.com

PAHOKEE, Fl. (CBS12) — The Pahokee Airport runway is shut down following a small aircraft incident Sunday. No one was injured.

Palm Beach County Fire Rescue crews were called to the airport around 10:30 a.m.

The pilot was able to get out safely, according to PIO Teri Barbera with PBSO, and did not request medical assistance.

Story and video: http://cbs12.com

Policing the bird highway



KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) - On a nice, sunny day in the 1960s, air taxi pilot Dick Hamlin picked up two women and their babies to take them to a logging camp on Kasaan Bay. As the air taxi approached Grindall Island, Hamlin noticed an eagle in the air, watching the plane.

Suddenly, “he gets into an updraft, and he’s got his wings spread and he comes up and he turns, coming at me with his claws,” Hamlin recalled. Hamlin yelled a warning to his passengers and maneuvered to avoid a collision, leaving the women hanging on to their children.

“He didn’t realize that he was about to die,” Hamlin said of the eagle, “and I didn’t want the rest of us to end up in the same situation.”

While that eagle’s behavior was unusual, the Ketchikan Daily News reported, birds and airplanes frequently collide by accident over Alaska, the result of an uneasy timeshare arrangement between species that is costing airlines millions of dollars in the state.

Federal Aviation Administration records of bird “strikes” are incomplete, due to lax reporting rules and the fact that the FAA rarely records military-related events. But since 1990, at least 41 bird strikes have caused serious damage to aircraft in Alaska.

Those types of collisions - statistical rarities among the hundreds of “harmless” bird strikes reported in Alaska - come with a big price tag: “Repair estimation of $1 million was reported as conservative,” a report to the FAA noted with clinical detachment after a Polar Air Cargo plane’s 747 jet engine ingested a bald eagle last year in Anchorage.

But the costs have the potential to be much higher. Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board announced that April’s fatal plane crash north of Anchorage happened after a small plane hit a juvenile bald eagle. The crash killed four people, including pilot George Kobelnyk, a former NTSB employee who helped investigate aircraft accidents. And in 1995, a gigantic Boeing E-3 Sentry hit a flock of geese while taking off at Alaska’s Elmendorf Air Force base and crashed, killing all 24 servicemen aboard. Counting the April accident, 29 civilians have died in bird-related plane crashes across the country since 1990.

In Ketchikan and Prince of Wales, airports engage in a number of practices to keep passengers and multimillion dollar airplanes safe along an arterial road for migrating birds that occasionally swells into a highway.

THE NUMBERS

A few weeks ago, the military called Ketchikan International Airport Manager Mike Carney to tell him they were coming through the area with a C-17 and AWACS planes (another term for the Boeing E-3 Sentry).

“The first thing they ask,” Carney said, “is, ‘what’s the bird activity?’”

The bird situation in Ketchikan is essentially as follows: When it comes to airplanes, the main animals to worry about are eagles, geese and gulls. Bald eagles and gulls are repeat offenders that have been hit by arriving or departing planes, though recently the airport has mostly had trouble with smaller, comparatively less dangerous shorebirds.

The size of a bird is a major factor in how much of a threat it is to airplanes but personality also plays a role. For example, ravens thrive in the dense, coniferous rainforest and glacier-gouged waterways of Southeast Alaska, but they are rarely hit by planes.

“Ravens are smart,” explained Ketchikan airport wildlife biologist Steve Scheldt. “They know enough to get out of the way.”

Bald eagles are literally a different breed: Scheldt said one Alaska Airlines pilot told him of an eagle near Yakutat that would fly out toward a jet, roll on its back, flare its talons and challenge the plane as it would another eagle.

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

Air show salutes late pilot, businessman Tom Coble: Aero Vodochody L-39C Albatross, Fighter Town USA LLC, N16RZ, fatal accident occurred January 20, 2012 in Rainbow City, Etowah County, Alabama

Tom Coble

Tom Coble with his wife, Debby, and grandson, Ryan, in an undated photo.
~


A well-known and respected Burlington pilot, businessman and philanthropist will be remembered next week when the Lynchburg, Va., Regional Air Show returns to the skies after a five-year hiatus.

Tom Coble, 58, was killed Jan. 20, 2012, during a return flight to Burlington when his L-39 Albatros fighter jet went down shortly after he took off in Rainbow City, Ala. Witnesses heard two loud explosions as the plane nose-dived into trees and exploded 1.1 miles from the runway. The debris field extended 142 feet.

COBLE GREW UP in Burlington, working with his father in commercial and residential construction. He started flying lessons at 15 and soloed on his 16th birthday. When he went to check out the business program at Liberty University in Lynchburg, he flew.

Coble put himself through Liberty by working at a slaughterhouse, starting a painting company and flipping houses. Then, as graduation neared, be became the pilot for the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, former president of Liberty University and a well-known pastor and political figure. Falwell became a personal hero, encouraging Coble in both faith and business.

Espousing a business philosophy grounded in faith, Coble founded Coble Cranes and Equipment/Coble Rents, which he sold in 1999. He then founded Coble Trench Safety, renting and selling trench and safety equipment and offering training classes, in 2002. The company grew to have 11 branches from Baltimore to Atlanta. He received the 2011 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

In every check his company issued, Coble tucked in a Gospel tract. He supported numerous local, regional, national and international ministries and charities, personally signing checks each month. Once he paid for a radio tower in South America for the Bible Broadcasting Network. He was a pilot for Veterans Airlift Command, a nonprofit organization that helps wounded veterans travel for medical treatment. He also flew for Harvesters International and New Directions International.

He was on the board of Liberty University and received the Eagle Award in 1998, recognizing him as an outstanding alumnus. In Burlington, Coble attended Harvest Baptist Church and led Alamance County’s Coalition of Concerned Christians.

COBLE HELPED found Liberty’s School of Aeronautics and helped organize the airshow in 2011. He will be honored this year with a “missing man” formation. Coble’s grandson, current Liberty student Ryan Coble, will ride in an L-39 among the formation of Warbirds in his grandfather’s honor.

Also featured will be U.S. Navy Blue Angels, aerobatic pilot Julie Clark, Warbirds, several types of military aircraft, the Navy SEALS jump team and the Navy Leapfrogs.

Ground events will appeal to younger audiences. Among them will be the “candy bomber,” a C-54 transport plane, along with its World War II pilot Gail Halvorsen, who dropped candy to German children while landing during the Berlin Airlift.

The show will honor military and service personnel with the theme A Salute to Service. Part of the proceeds will go to support them, and those with military or service credentials will be admitted free Sunday.

The show is Saturday and Sunday at the Lynchburg Regional Airport, 350 Terminal Drive, Lynchburg, Va. Gates open at 9 a.m. each day, and the show runs from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit lynchburgairshow.com.

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


Tom Coble 


NTSB Identification: ERA12FA149
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, January 20, 2012 in Rainbow City, AL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/30/2013
Aircraft: AERO VODOCHODY L39C, registration: N16RZ
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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.

The pilot radioed an air traffic controller and obtained an instrument flight rules clearance while on the ground. The pilot read back the clearance and was informed that he was released for departure and to switch to advisory frequency. There was no further radio contact between air traffic controllers and the pilot, and the airplane was never radar identified. The base of the radar coverage at the airport is 4,000 feet. Another pilot, who was on the ground at the airport waiting to depart, informed the controller that he watched the flight depart and heard a pretty loud boom shortly afterward. A postcrash fire ensued. The ceiling was 300 feet overcast, with visibility 1 mile in mist. The main wreckage was located about 1.1 miles south-southwest of the airport in a swampy wooded area. Postcrash examination revealed no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
An in-flight loss of control in instrument meteorological conditions.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On January 20, 2012, at 1818 central standard time (CST), an experimental exhibition, Aero Vodochody L39C airplane, N16RZ, collided with trees while maneuvering in the vicinity of Rainbow City, Alabama. The airplane was registered to Fighter Town USA LLC, and was operated by a private individual as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The airplane sustained substantial damage and a postcrash fire ensued. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The certificated airline transport pilot (ATP) was fatally injured. The flight departed from Northeast Alabama Regional Airport (GAD), Gadsden, Alabama, about 1817, en-route to Burlington, North Carolina.

A witness stated the pilot arrived at a maintenance facility to pick up the airplane in the afternoon. He conducted a prefight inspection in the hangar and the airplane was towed outside. The pilot performed the before start engine checks, started the engine, and taxied to runway 24 in preparation for takeoff. He conducted an engine run up and departed. The witness walked back inside the hangar and heard two loud explosions. An employee from the fixed base operator came by and stated the airplane had crashed in a wooded area off the departure end of runway 24.

The pilot called the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Birmingham Approach Control at 1815 via radio, while on the ground at GAD and requested his IFR clearance. The controller asked what runway he would be departing from and the pilot replied runway 24. The controller issued the clearance at 18:16:31. The clearance required the pilot to enter controlled airspace on a heading of 140 degrees to climb and maintain 5,000 feet and to expect flight level 190 within ten minutes after departure, and then on course when radar identified. The pilot read back the clearance and was informed he was released for departure and to switch to advisory frequency. There was no further radio contact between the controllers and the pilot. The base of the radar coverage at the GAD is 4,000 feet.

Another pilot, on the ground at GAD, waiting to depart, called Birmingham Approach and asked if they had picked up the accident airplane on radar. He informed the controller he watched the flight depart and heard a pretty loud boom shortly afterwards. The pilot also reported the airport was below weather minimums.
Another witness, who lived in front of the accident site, stated her mother-in-law called her while she was out at a restaurant and asked her if something had blown up at her house. She informed her mother-in-law that she was not home. She immediately left the restaurant and went home. Police and fire personnel were there and were putting out a fire in the woods behind her house. She stated that it was difficult to see the emergency responders due to the dense fog.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 58, held an ATP certificate with a rating for airplane multiengine land, and a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane, issued on March 3, 2010. In addition the pilot had a letter of authorization for “experimental aircraft AV-L39.” The pilot held a second-class medical certificate, issued on February 11, 2010, with the restrictions, “Must wear corrective lenses.” The pilot indicated on the application for the second-class medical that he had 5,200 total flight hours and he had flown 80 hours in the last 6 months. The instructor pilot, who trained the accident pilot, stated he had conducted 20 training flights and the pilot had about 83 hours in the L39, of which 19 hours were dual flight instruction. The pilot’s wife stated his logbook was in the accident airplane.

Review of training records at SIMCOM, Orlando, Florida, revealed the pilot attended SIMCOM Beech 200 recurrent training from August 20, 2011, to August 21, 2011, and he satisfactorily completed the pilot flight review and instrument proficiency check in a King Air simulator. The pilot indicated on the SIMCOM Pilot Data form for 2011, that he had 5,200 total flight hours and he had flown 150 hours in the last 12 months. The pilot indicated he had 1,800 total instrument flight hours and 700 hours in airplane single-engine land. In addition, the pilot indicated he had received 2 hours of flight instruction in the last 12 months. The pilot's logbook was not located in the wreckage. Review of the pilot's insurance application form, dated November 9, 2011, indicated the pilot had 5, 540 total flight hours and he had flown 5 hours of instrument flight in the last 12 months in the L39, and 15 hours in the King Air in the last 12 months. In addition, the pilot indicated he had 90 total hours in the L39. The pilot’s last flight review for the L39 was conducted on April 14, 2011.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatross is a high-performance tandem seat jet trainer aircraft serial number 132013, manufactured in 1981. The airplane is powered by a single turbo fan Ivchenko AI-25TL 3,792-lb thrust engine. Review of logbook information provided by International Jets revealed the last 100-hour condition inspection on the engine was conducted on January 19, 2012, at HOBBS time of 320.2 hours. The engines total time in service was 382.7 hours. The 100-hour condition inspection on the aircraft was conducted on January 19, 2012, at HOBBS time of 320.2 hours. The airplanes total time in service was 898.0 hours. The HOBBS meter was not located at the accident site. The last altimeter, static system test and transponder encoder test was conducted on November 3, 2009. The airplane was topped off with 59 gallons of Jet fuel at GAD on January 20, 2012.

A pilot for the maintenance base, test flew the airplane after the 100-hour condition inspection. No anomalies were noted with the airplane during the test flight.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The National Weather Service (NWS) Surface Analysis Chart for 1800 CST depicted a stationary front extending east-to-west across northern Georgia, Alabama, into southern Tennessee and into Arkansas. An area of extensive fog and overcast clouds was depicted along the front. The station models across Alabama indicated southerly winds with overcast clouds with temperatures in the mid to upper 50’s degrees Fahrenheit with temperature dew point spreads of 2 degrees or less, high relative humidity, low visibilities, low cloud cover, and near saturated conditions.

The GOES-13 infrared red satellite image at 1815 depicted a low stratiform cloud layer over northern Alabama with a radioactive cloud top temperature –minus 0.16 degrees C, which corresponded to cloud tops near 12,000 feet.

The Birmingham, AL 1800 sounding indicated a saturated low-level environment with the lifted condensation level (LCL) at 420 feet above ground level (agl) with a relative humidity greater than 90 percent from the surface to 4,500 feet. The sounding also indicated rapidly increasing winds with altitude, with the wind increasing from the southwest at 45 knots at 5,400 feet.

IFR conditions due to low ceilings and visibility had been reported since 1335.

GAD weather at 1815, wind from 080 degrees true at 5 knots, visibility 1 statute mile (in mist), ceiling overcast at 300 feet agl, temperature 12 degrees C, dew point missing, altimeter 29.94. 
Several air carrier pilots in the vicinity of Huntsville (HSV), Alabama, indicated cloud tops near 3,000 feet near the time of the accident with sky clear above. No reports of turbulence or icing were received over Alabama surrounding the period.

The astronomical data from the United States Naval Observatory indicated the following astronomical conditions on January 20, 2012, for Gadsden, Etowah County, Alabama.

Begin civil twilight: 0621 CST

Sunrise: 0648 CST

Sunset: 1702 CST 

End civil twilight: 1729

Moonset: 1436 CST

Moonrise: 0516 CST on January 21, 2012

At the time of the accident, both the Sun and the Moon were more than 15 degrees below the horizon and provided no illumination. The Moon phase was a waning crescent with only 8 percent of the disk illuminated when visible. 

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The main wreckage was located about 1.1 miles south-southwest of GAD in a swampy wooded area, adjacent to the 700 block of Perman Lake Road in the vicinity of Rainbow City, Alabama. Examination of the crash site revealed the airplane collided with the tops of 60 to 80-foot tall trees, in a steep nose down attitude, left wing low on a heading of 070 degrees magnetic. The airplane collided with the ground 88 feet from the initial tree impact. The nose section (zone 1 fuselage) and (zone 2 cockpit sections) was buried 7 feet below the surface of the ground. The crater was 15 feet wide and 31 feet long. The forward ejection seat remained in the crater. The rear ejection seat separated from its rail and was located to the left of the crater next to a tree. Both ejection seats were armed and deactivated by maintenance personnel. The engine assembly separated from the airframe and was located 121 feet down the crash debris line (CDL). The tail section was located 21 feet to the right of the engine assembly on a heading of 100 degrees magnetic. The inboard and outboard section of the right wing was located along the CDL, 259 feet from the beginning of the CDL.

The nose section (zone 1) with the nose landing gear was fragmented and located in the initial impact crater. The nose landing gear was in the retracted position.

The front and rear cockpit (zone 2) was located in the initial impact crater. The forward wind screen was fragmented. The forward canopy was separated and fragmented. The forward instrument panel was fragmented. The front ejection seat was separated from the rail. Continuity of the flight control systems could not be determined due to the structural damage to the airframe.

The rear canopy was separated and fragmented. The instrument panel was fragmented. The rear ejection seat separated from the rail and was located outside of the crater edge next to a tree in the armed position. Continuity of the flight control system could not be determined due to structural damage to the airframe.

The right wing was separated at the main landing gear center section of the wing. There was no evidence of sooting or bubbling of paint present. The leading edge of the right wing was fragmented. The right aileron was damaged and separated from its hinge points. The right flap separated from its hinge points and its position was not determined. The metal auxiliary fuel tank was ruptured and separated from the wing. An odor of fuel was present at the crash site. The dummy missile separated from the right wing pylon mount. The right main landing gear separated and the land gear was in the retracted position and was located in the creek.
The fuselage and engine section (zone 3) was fire damaged and fragmented extending aft to the tail cone section (zone 4). The three main bladder fuel cells were ruptured and the majority of the fuel was contained in the impact crater. 

The vertical fin separated from the empennage. The leading edge and top of the vertical fin were damaged. The rudder separated from all hinge points and was located adjacent to the vertical fin. The tail section was separated at the tail separation point and was lying inverted on the ground. The left horizontal stabilizer was damaged and the left elevator remained attached at all hinge points. The left elevator trim tab was in the neutral position. The right horizontal stabilizer was not damaged. The right elevator remained attached at all hinge points and the trim tab was in the neutral position. There was no evidence of sooting or bubbling of paint present on any of the surfaces.

The left wing separated at the main landing gear center section of the wing and fire damaged. The leading edge of the left wing was fragmented. The left aileron was damaged and separated from its hinge points. A section of the left flap was fire damaged and located in the impact crater and the position could not be determined. The metal auxiliary fuel tank was ruptured and separated from the wing. An odor of fuel was present at the crash site. The dummy missile separated from the wing pylon mount. The left main landing gear was located in the impact crater and was in the retracted position.

The engine assembly was on its left side. The first stage fan disk was separated from the engine. The rotor blades were bent opposite the direction of rotation. The second and third stage fan disks remained in the engine and were visible. The respective blades were bent opposite the direction of rotation. 

The oil reservoir was bent around the right front engine mount. The oil reservoir filler cap separated from the oil filler. The top of the filler cap was sheared off. The fuel-oil heat exchanger was damaged and separated from the engine.

The bleed air flapper valve for the air conditioner was in the fully open position. The engine deice flapper valve was fully closed. The right hand igniter plug was broken where it exits the igniter can.
The right rear engine mount was intact and fire damaged. The exhaust gas temperature (EGT) harness was intact and the four EGT probes were in place. The engine’s exhaust pipe was damaged and remained attached to the engine by metal tubing. The exhaust pipe attachment clamp remained attached to the exhaust pipe with a tightened and safetied turnbuckle.
The fuel control unit was attached to the remnants of the engine gear box. The throttle lever position was at about 90 percent. The engine high pressure fuel pump was attached to the engine by one fuel line.
The anti G suit bleed air plumbing was attached to the bleed air port. The ram air turbine was separated from the fuselage structure. The auxiliary power unit was separated from the engine compartment and was damaged. The main generator was separated from the engine and was damaged. 

The airframe and engine assembly was transported to a salvage company in Griffin, Georgia for storage. The engine was disassembled and examined by an NTSB Powerplants Group. The first stage fan disk was intact, but was recovered separate from the engine. The second and third stage fan disks were also intact, but remained attached to the rest of the engine. All of the first, second, and third stage fan blades were in their respective disks, although there were several first and second stage fan blades that were fractured across the airfoil. All of the longer or full length first, second, and third stage fan blades were bent opposite the direction of rotation. The inlet bullet, inlet guide vanes, and fan blades were examined under an ultraviolet light and nothing fluoresced. The seventh and eighth stage compressor blades were in place, but were bent opposite the direction of rotation. There was no metal spray on the seventh and eighth stage compressor blades. The second stage turbine blades were all intact and did not have any apparent damage to the airfoils. There was no metal spray on the second stage turbine blade airfoils and turbine exhaust case struts.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Huntsville Forensic Laboratory, Huntsville, Alabama, Medical Examiner conducted a postmortem examination of the pilot, on January 25, 2012. The cause of death was severe blunt force injuries. The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory performed toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot. Carbon monoxide and cyanide samples were not performed. The results were positive for 46 (mg/dl, mg/hg) ethanol detected in the muscle. No ethanol was detected in the liver. N propanol 8 (mg/dl, mg/hg) was detected in the muscle. These volatiles are consistent with postmortem production of alcohols.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The Department of Defense Flight Information Publication (Terminal) Low Altitude United States Airport Diagrams for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, Volume 14 found in the crater were effective October 20, 2011, and expired December 15, 2011. The Low Altitude United States Airport Diagrams for Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, Volume 17 found in the crater were effective September 23, 2010, and expired November 18, 2011.