Saturday, May 21, 2016

Cessna U206F Stationair, N50159, Sunrise Aviation: Fatal accident occurred April 08, 2016 in Angoon, Alaska

'Miraculous:' The story of rescue & recovery after a deadly Southeast Alaska plane crash 

The sole survivor of a Southeast Alaska plane crash that killed three people is now being treated at a Colorado hospital where her family describes her tale of recovery as "miraculous."

Ketchikan resident Morgan Enright, 21, is working with physical, occupational, and speech therapists daily. She had her first shower last weekend and is “happily eating and drinking throughout the day,” her mother posted on CaringBridge, a website for shared medical updates.

Chere Klein, Enright’s mom, said she’s not ready to speak publicly about her daughter’s experience in the April 8 crash but gave KTUU permission to write about it based on her CaringBridge posts.

Enright was on her way from Wrangell to Angoon for work when the Cessna 206 she was flying in crashed on Admiralty Island at 9:12 a.m. The plane went down in steep, snowy terrain about 17 miles southeast of Angoon, a mostly Tlingit community located in the coastal rainforest.

Pilot David Galla, 60, was killed along with passengers Greg Scheff, 61, and Thomas Siekawitch, 57. All three were from Wrangell.

The Coast Guard launched a helicopter from Sitka and located the plane’s wreckage at 11:17 a.m., according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The chopper couldn’t land due to hazardous weather.

At 1:55 p.m. the Coast Guard, along with Sitka Mountain Rescue, returned to try again. Ron Duvall, a volunteer with Sitka Mountain Rescue, was among the group of four first responders.

The helicopter dropped them off on a ridge, Duvall recalled in an interview today with Channel 2. Two rescuers hiked down to the crash site while the other two stayed above to watch for possible avalanches.

“We saw Morgan move her arms. We radioed back to the helicopter that there was a survivor,” Duvall said.

Duvall and his partner started removing gear and luggage strewn about the plane, along with the seat Enright was strapped in. When the two other rescuers arrived, they extracted her from the plane, which was nose down in the snow.

One person stabilized Enright's neck. Another held her hips while another stabilized her feet.

Duvall said, “Her eyes were not open. She was cold to the touch."

But she was alive.

After extracting her from the plane, Duvall and the team placed Enright in a Coast Guard basket along with a rescue swimmer. The helicopter hoisted her inside.

Enright was medevaced to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center in critical condition.

Doctors placed her on dialysis to help her kidneys function. A ventilator assisted her with breathing.

Three days after the crash, Klein wrote that her daughter’s condition was precarious but that she was "steady."

“In her extremely critical condition this is very positive,” Klein wrote.

Enright began breathing on her own a week after the crash. When she would open her eyes, Enright recognized her family. She would squeeze hands when instructed by a nurse. Soon her brain pressure monitor was removed.

By April 20, 12 days after the crash, Enright moved to the acute care unit after having surgery on left leg two days earlier.

“She will need a skin graft in the near future but overall a stable day!” Klein posted on April 18.

When she was a bit more stable, Enright was able to sit in a gravity chair.

Earlier this month, Enright started eating ice chips and apple sauce, and drinking milk. On May 6, her mom posted that Enright’s kidneys were working again.

“Morgan said it’s time to celebrate with a Mimosa!” Klein wrote.

Harborview Medical Center discharged Enright to the care of a rehabilitation center in Englewood, Colo., on May 12 where she continues to improve.

Part of Enright’s recovery involves getting visits from a variety of therapy dogs.

“From Newfoundlands to mini-Schnauzers; many Golden Retrievers and Yellow Labs have snuggled right up in bed. Thank goodness for all the folks willing to share their special dogs!” Klein wrote.

A final NTSB report on the crash is expected to come out in early July. Meantime, Duvall, the rescuer, has been monitoring Enright’s progress on CaringBridge.

“I’m ecstatic. I’m dumbfounded," he said. "I’m not sure I could put a good adjective on the emotions that come with seeing her recover."

Story and photo gallery:

Sunrise Aviation Inc: 

FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Juneau FSDO-05

NTSB Identification: ANC16FA017 
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, April 08, 2016 in Angoon, AK
Aircraft: CESSNA 206, registration: N50159
Injuries: 3 Fatal, 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators 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 April 8, 2016, about 0912 Alaska daylight time, an amphibious float-equipped Cessna 206 airplane, N50159, sustained substantial damage after impacting snow-covered, rising terrain about 17 miles southeast of the Angoon Airport, Angoon, Alaska. The airplane was operated by Sunrise Aviation, Inc., Wrangell, Alaska, as a visual flight rules (VFR) commercial on-demand flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135. Of the four people on board, the commercial pilot and two passengers sustained fatal injuries, and one passenger sustained serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed at the time of departure, and company flight following procedures were in effect. The flight departed from the Wrangell Airport, Wrangell, about 0810, destined for Angoon. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), along with another NTSB aircraft accident investigator and members of Juneau Mountain Rescue, reached the accident site on the morning of April 9. The wreckage was in an open area of snow-covered rising terrain, at an elevation of about 2,240 feet mean sea level (msl). The impact area was sloped about 27 degrees. The airplane impacted the snow in a near vertical attitude and sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and wings.

The area between Wrangell and Angoon consists of remote inland fjords, coastal waterways, and steep mountainous terrain. 

As part of their company flight following procedures, Sunrise Aviation incorporates Spidertracks, which provides company management personnel with a real-time, moving map display of the airplane's progress. In addition, the accident airplane was equipped with a digital, 406 MHz ELT that instantly transmits a distress signal to search and rescue satellites, thereby alerting rescue personnel within minutes of the location of the crash. 

During an interview with the NTSB IIC on April 12, the operator's director of operations stated that while flying another company airplane, he spoke with the accident pilot on a company radio frequency. The accident pilot commented to the director of operations that while en route to Angoon, he was unable to make it through Pybus Bay due to low clouds and reduced visibility, and that he was going to try an alternate route that had a lower terrain elevation. The director of operations added that about 15-20 minutes after speaking with the accident pilot, he landed in Wrangell and noticed the Spidertracks signal was stationary, in an area of mountainous terrain. He then called personnel at the Angoon airport and was told the flight had not arrived, and attempts to contact the accident pilot on his cell phone and aircraft radio were unsuccessful. Shortly thereafter, he received a phone call from the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center notifying him of a broadcasting 406 Mhz emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal assigned to the accident airplane.

About 1025, after being notified of an overdue airplane, and after learning about reports of an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal along the accident pilot's anticipated flight route, search and rescue personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka launched an HH-60 helicopter to search for the airplane.

About 1054, the airplane's wreckage was located by a helicopter operated by Temsco Helicopters.

About 1117, the crew of a U.S. Coast Guard HH-60 helicopter located the airplane's wreckage in an area of steep mountainous, snow-covered terrain. However, due to hazardous weather and terrain conditions, the helicopter crew was unable to lower a rescue swimmer to the site, and the crew retuned to Sitka to pick up rescue personnel from Sitka Mountain Rescue. 

About 1355, the HH-60 helicopter returned to the accident site and landed on an adjacent ridgeline, and members of Sitka Mountain Rescue and the Coast Guard hiked to the accident site. Once on scene, they discovered that three of the airplane's occupants died at the scene, and one had survived the crash. The sole survivor was hoisted aboard the Coast Guard HH-60 helicopter, and then transported to Juneau. 

The airplane was equipped with a Continental Motors IO-550 series engine. A detailed examination is pending. 

The closest weather reporting facility is Angoon Airport, about 17 miles northwest of the accident site. At 0956, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) from the Angoon Airport was reporting in part: Wind calm; sky condition, few clouds at 2,300 feet, broken clouds at 4,200 feet; visibility 10 statute miles; temperature 45 degrees F, dew point 43 degrees F; altimeter, 29.75 inHg.

Silver City Flying Club celebrates 70 years: Meriden Markham Municipal Airport (KMMK), Meriden, New Haven County, Connecticut

Pilot Keith Hall

Leigh Tauss, Record-Journal

MERIDEN — You feel a pang in your gut the moment the wheels of the 1979 Piper Archer aircraft leave the runway and the nose of the plane tilts upward toward a cloudy sky in steady ascent. Pressure starts to build in your ears, cushioned beneath a large headset.

“Unlike an airliner, this is not pressurized,” Pilot Keith Hall says with a smile as he navigates the airspace far above Meriden. “You can only go about 14,000 feet maximum.”

Hall is a member of the Silver City Flying Club, which celebrated their 70th anniversary Saturday with a humble gathering at their Meriden-Markham Airport hangar. He was happy to take a spin in one of the club’s two aircraft to mark the occasion.

Founded in 1946, 40-member club is one of the oldest flying clubs in Connecticut, according to President Paul Merola.

“A lot of these guys were World War II pilots and they came back from the war and had flying in their blood so they formed a club,” Merola said.

The nonprofit club is equity based, meaning each member owns a portion of the club’s assets, including its two airplanes, the 1979 Piper Archer and 1981 Cessna. Aviation is an expensive hobby, but the club allows members to fly for much less than renting or owning their own plane would cost, Merola said.

Flying conditions Saturday afternoon were optimal, with minimal wind and no rain. Hall, who is also flies Civil Air Patrol for the Air Force Auxiliary, goes through an exhaustive checklist, inspecting the planes wing flaps, propeller and engine fuel.

Soon it’s time to buckle seat belts inside the cockpit. The small plane’s interior is even tinnier than it appears from the outside and has barely enough room to stretch an elbow. Every inch of the dashboard is covered with an array of controls and displays indicating altitude, navigation and radio frequency. Hall announces our takeoff over the radio and the plane turns a corner out of the hangar.

He revs the engine briefly to ensure the spark plug is firing and then begins to head down the runway, steadily increasing speed. The wheels gently lift from the runway and with seemingly no resistance we’re climbing hundreds of feet in seconds.

Pilot Keith Hall of the Silver City Flying Club navigates over Meriden. The club celebrated its 70th anniversary Saturday. 

“The biggest difference between a jetliner and something like this is the speed,” Hall said. “The aerodynamics of an airplane are the same no matter if the plane is small or large.”

Castle Craig looks like a thimble from 2,500 feet up and the highways merely gray threads peaking out from a dense tree canopy. Spring is in full bloom, and despite the clouds, its easy to see New Haven harbor and Long Island Sound in the distance.

We glide briefly over Southington whose suburbs are reminiscent of small twisted spider web dotted with houses before turning back toward Meriden.

“Meriden traffic, Piper N325AV, we’re about 5 miles north, heading into the airport,” Hall says over the radio, though it’s hard to hear anything over the sound of the chopping propeller. Soon the runway is in sight and we’re descending quickly toward it.

“I’m going to tell you now, landing is the hardest part,” Hall says.

As the pavement draws closer you can feel the plane buckle slightly against the wind. There’s a bump as the wheels touch the runway, but not overall it’s a pretty smooth landing.

Back at the hangar, Silver City members were eager to chime in on the benefits of being in the club.

“I like the camaraderie of the pilots,” said member Doug Loose, of Southington. “You meet a lot of people with similar interests.”

The cost savings is what draws many to the club as owning or renting an airplane is expensive.

“We’re not wealthy people and it makes flying affordable,” said Meriden resident Andy Roberts. “You share the burden of taking care of an airplane.”

Marilyn Stone enjoys going on flights to Block Island with her husband Norm, soaring over the traffic and the ferry for a weekend get-away. The Southington couple has been in the club since 1976.

“I feel safe in a small plane because you have control ... It’s like three-dimensional sailing,” Stone said. “You can drift and glide like in a boat.”

Story, video and photo gallery:

Fort Bliss to conduct flight training in Lincoln National Forest

Lt. Col. Segura, G3 for Air Operations at Fort Bliss demonstrates how a helicopter lands in a wooded environment like in the Lincoln National Forest to Otero County Commissioners at their regular county commission meeting Thursday morning.

From left to right: Col. Tom O’Connor, Commander of the Combat Aviation Brigade, Lt. Col. Segura, G3 for Air Operations and Chief Pilot Murino, Combat Aviation Brigade presented to county commissioners their proposal to train in Lincoln National Forest to practice high altitude flying and landing.

ALAMOGORDO – The Garrison Command team and 1st Armored Division (1AD) Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) at Fort Bliss in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service plans to train in Lincoln National Forest to practice flying their aircraft at high altitudes.

The Fort Bliss brigade is proposing to establish a number of sites within the LNF to conduct their new mission, the High Altitude Mountain Environment Training Strategy (HAMETS), for certification training for their helicopter pilots.

The purpose of HAMETS is to train pilots in conducting approaches and landings within wooded mountain environments that challenge and hone aviator skills prior to deployment.

To more efficiently reach the sites, the 1AD also proposes to periodically stage and fuel helicopters at the Alamogordo White Sands Regional Airport.

The USFS asked the 1AD to present their proposals to County Commissioners to notify them of the proposed action and to give commissioners the opportunity to ask questions.

Conservation Branch Chief of the Environmental Division at Fort Bliss Brian Knight was accompanied by Col. Tom O’Connor, Commander of the Combat Aviation Brigade, Lt. Col. Segura, G3 for Air Operations and Chief Pilot Murino, Combat Aviation Brigade.

O’Connor said although Fort Bliss is an excellent training installation, it lacks proper environmental helicopter training for their soldiers who are about to be deployed.

“Although Fort Bliss is a phenomenal training installation, there’s not a lot of opportunities for our soldiers to prepare. One of the challenges we have is that we don’t have a lot of trees, as well as high altitude landing zones for our soldiers to practice at,” O’Connor said. “Lincoln National Forest is obviously very close to us and offers elevations of up to 9,000 feet. The density of the forest with the tall trees gives it a more confined area for us to navigate and land the aircraft which adds to the complexity of flying in that same environment overseas such as Iraq and Afghanistan.”

He said as a part of his responsibility it his job to ensure that his soldiers are well prepared before they’re sent off into a war zone.

“Part of my responsibility is to ensure that my soldiers are trained in aviation operations to perform the duties of not just flying an aircraft but execute the mission at different altitudes of different environments throughout the world,” O’Connor said. “Some of the regions where they are deployed are very mountainous which can be a hazard when flying a helicopter. My responsibility is to ensure that they have the right training as well as proficiency before I send them off in harm’s way.”

There are three types of helicopters that Fort Bliss soldiers will be training with, the Chinook, Black Hawk and Apache.

Segura said the brigade looked within their own flying area for the training which is quite extensive but agreed that the LNF would be a world class training environment and they have already identified 18 small landing zones.

“We looked within the local flying area of our first armored division but the LNF that resides within your county, provides our aviators a world class training environment to conduct high altitude training,” Segura said. “As we look forward and we start to look at different options, we’re looking at utilizing, potentially, the opportunity to use the Alamogordo airport for the refueling. It will give us the ability to rotate our aviators in and out of their aircraft as we go into the Lincoln National Forest.”

He said they would also be conducting night training so soldiers can practice using night vision goggles and the LNF is the perfect location for this kind of training.

“Nowhere else can we find the near exact environment like in Afghanistan or North Korea with the mountains and elevations we have here. We’re working to get a 25 year special use permit from the Lincoln National Forest,” Segura said.

Knight said in 2012 the LNF granted Fort Bliss to conduct this kind of training and it was extremely beneficial for their troops.

“In 2012, the LNF generously gave us temporary authorization to conduct this kind of training and the feedback we got from it was fantastic,” Knight said. “It really helped them in Afghanistan.”

He said they are currently in the scoping period and they will later present to the City of Alamogordo and the Village of Cloudcroft.

The presentation to County Commissioners will be a part of the scoping process for the EA that the Army intends to generate.

Once the draft is made available they will have public meetings that will include the mountain community of Weed hopefully in October or November of this year.

Once the meetings are held they will allow a 30-day comment period for the communities to ask any questions about their operation. If everything goes as planned the Army should receive a 25 year special use permit from LNF to conduct their training's there when needed.

County Commissioners were in support of the proposal.

Original article can be found here:

With commercial airlines soaring, why have some private jet start-ups failed?

Captain Chris Pimentel, right, waits for passengers to board the SurfAir airplane at the Hawthorne Municipal Airport in Hawthorne last year. SurfAir is an all-you-can-fly membership airline.

The nation's commercial airlines are reporting soaring profit margins and enough revenue to invest billions of dollars in new planes, airport lounges and even designer-made employee uniforms.

So why hasn't that success extended to the fleet of private jet start-ups that launched in the last few years? 

Private jet charters Blackjet, Blue Star Jets and Beacon, among others, have ended operations in recent months, citing funding difficulties as well as problems securing planes, among other issues.

Many of the new jet charter businesses have tried to jump on the popularity of the "shared economy," with some comparing themselves to the ride-hailing business Uber. The private jet businesses have also promoted themselves as a way to avoid long airport security lines.

"There was this feeling that we have this unmet demand," said Brad Stewart, chief executive and president of XOJET, a San Francisco-based charter jet business.

But according to industry experts, too many of the charters either overestimated the demand or underestimated the funding needed to keep the businesses in the air.

Commercial airlines can squeeze more seats into each cabin and use each jet as extensively as possible to keep costs down, but private charter jets don't have that option, said Seth Kaplan, managing partner at the trade magazine Airline Weekly.

"The economics of small private jets are not the same as the economics of commercial carriers," he said.

The most publicized failure was the sudden closure of Florida-based BlackJet, which was backed by tech executives and Hollywood celebrities including Ashton Kutcher, Jay-Z and Will Smith. It collected annual membership fees of $3,000 and up plus fares starting at about $950 to share a ride on other people's jets.

BlackJet Chief Executive Dean Rotchin wrote a letter to members of the business May 5, saying he was "abruptly ceasing Blackjet operations," citing "bad press," the departure of a "critical team member" and finance problems.

Original article can be found here:

Potsdam Municipal Airport (KPTD) runway closed while widening underway

POTSDAM – The runway and taxiways at Damon Field, the Potsdam Municipal Airport are closed through the projected end date of July 13 for widening the airport’s runway.

“That date was decided at a pre-construction meeting two weeks ago, but completion is somewhat dependent on the weather,” said airport manager Brad Clements.

The contract for the work on the village-owned airport was awarded to local building company J.E. Sheehan Contracting, which will widen the runway from its current 60 feet to 75 feet under the exacting specifications of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Sheehan got a jump on the work while the weather was good in November, doing things such as regrading some soil in preparation for the major work in warmer weather.

The $1.4 million job includes the runway widening and refinishing, maintenance of runway lighting, and installation of a visual guidance system.

The Federal Aviation Administration is paying 90 percent of the cost, and the state and the village are splitting the remaining 10 percent.

While fixed-wing aircraft will not be able to use the runway, some helicopter traffic at the airport will be permitted since they do not need to use the runway.

And Air Methods’ LifeNet medical transport service, based at Damon Field, has moved its operations temporarily to Massena’s Richards Field, since it has replaced its helicopter service with fixed-wing aircraft that can’t fly in and out of Potsdam’s airport for the time being, but they have told Clements that they might make helicopter flights to and from Potsdam. Also Mercy Flight might make use of the airport for their helicopters, Clements said.

And the operator of the UPS cargo flights that use the airport to deliver to the shipping company’s nearby facility will use other nearby airports while the runway work is done.

The runway widening is being done due to safety considerations, Clements said.

Twice in the last seven or eight years, pilots flying twin-engine Embraer aircraft for Ameriflight, the contractor operating planes that make deliveries and pickups for the nearby UPS facility, have gone off the side of the runway in slippery conditions.

No serious damage and no injury was reported in either incident, but the chief pilot of the air charter company told Clements he has a limited number of pilots he can allow to come to Potsdam because of the currently narrow runway.

Original article can be found here:

Air service likely to have major economic impact: Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport (KBWG), Kentucky

It is not only the travel plans of many southcentral Kentucky residents that are being altered based on the news that commercial air service is returning to Bowling Green. The service is likely to have a significant effect on the region's business landscape as well.

It was announced Tuesday that, after a 44-year absence, commercial air service will once again be offered from Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport. Contour Airlines will offer two round-trip flights daily during the workweek to Atlanta and one per day on the weekends. It will also offer two weekly flights to Destin, Fla., from April through October. The flights are scheduled to start in August and are the culmination of many years of efforts by local officials to get commercial service here.

"We have worked well on solving problems here, but air service has been just outside our grasp for so many years," Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon said.

Until Tuesday.

Using about $1.8 million in incentives from the state and federal governments as well as commitments from local businesses, the airport board signed a one-year contract with the Smyrna, Tenn.-based carrier. As well as being a convenience for local residents, the commercial service is expected to have significant economic benefit in several ways.

Directly, the return of air service will mean more than a dozen new local jobs.

The Transportation Security Administration will hire seven to nine people locally, Airport Manager Rob Barnett said, with the jobs being a mix of full-time administrators and part-time screeners. According to the TSA website, part-time screeners make in the $15 to $23 an hour range with full benefits.

The airport will also hire six to eight additional people for jobs such as baggage handling and other ground operations, Barnett said.

The air service is also being seen as a boon for existing businesses and for business recruitment efforts.

Buchanon cited as an example the case of a company official who was looking at locating a business here. After landing at the Nashville airport, he began the hourlong car drive to Bowling Green. "He got halfway here and asked 'How much farther?' That was the end of that project. This will level the playing field with other communities" that have commercial air service, Buchanon said.

Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Ron Bunch said that during the airline recruitment effort, officials tried to estimate the economic impact. A rough estimate is that the state will get the $750,000 it has provided as an incentive for air service returned in one year in additional tax revenue.

"When people travel to Nashville, they spend money on fuel, food" and other items, he said. "We will be able to retain a lot of that spending."

In working on the airline recruitment effort for the last several years, Barnett said he met with numerous CEOs, corporate travel directors and other local business leaders who were almost all "extremely interested" in local commercial service.

"We expect a large percentage of the Atlanta route to be business oriented," he said.

The corporate interest stems from the fact that it will "save them time and save them money," Barnett said.

A charter flight with four passengers to Atlanta costs well into the thousands, he said. Although ticket prices have not been determined, Contour fares will likely be a fraction of that cost.

Bunch said "85 percent of our success comes in business expansion" – efforts that will be aided by Tuesday's news. "Now we can say we have service right here that's probably more convenient."

That convenience will also be a major benefit to local business travelers.

"When you are talking about an executive officer, to save four or five hours in a day, that's a lot of money," Barnett said.

Bowling Green-based Fruit of the Loom was a major presence at Tuesday's news conference, with displays, give-aways and many employees on hand. The company's commercially recognized "Fruit" guys also were on hand.

“We have been supportive of this project, and it certainly is a reflection of the growth in our community," Fruit of the Loom Chief Operating Officer Tony Pelaski wrote in an email to the Daily News. "We are excited about the opportunity to improve our travel options and make it easier for our customers and vendor partners to travel to Bowling Green.”

A key element to the success of the service will come down to selling tickets over the long haul.

"Sustainability is the key element," Barnett said. He said the airport will hire a marketing firm to promote the flights across a region stretching from Columbia to Elizabethtown, Hopkinsville to Portland, Tenn.

Local officials will also be marketing the flights to Bowling Green.

"We are already on it," said Vickie Fitch, executive director of the Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, just hours after Tuesday's news conference. The CVB staff is working on plans to promote tourism to Bowling Green via the air service.

Fitch said the commercial service will also help Bowling Green lure and keep convention and event business. She pointed to the Danchuk Tri-Five Nationals event in August, a car event that drew 11,000 people here last year. "They bring international people," she said, who will now be able to fly directly from Atlanta's international airport to Bowling Green.

As for recruiting new events, "It will be so nice to say, 'Yes, it's coming,' " when asked by event planners about the availability of air service, she said. And when meeting with international tour operators, "that will be an instant pitch."

And even though Destin is seen as a destination more than a place to draw visitors from, "we won't ignore that market either," Fitch said.

Original article can be found here:

New Alma Municipal Airport (4D9) terminal to include pilots room and lounge

Alma Municipal Airport manager Ron Hawley, left, and Alma City Administrator Doug Wilson planned the construction of the new terminal at the airport. Wilson said it took two years to build the reserves in the city budget to pay for 10 percent of the $550,000 building, and Hawley traveled Nebraska and Kansas to get ideas for the layout of the building during the same time. Hawleys 1967 Mooney M20F is stored at the city's hangar.

When pilots drop into Alma's Municipal Airport for fuel, they will soon have a place to use the bathroom, relax, get a snack and plan their remaining flight at the new airport terminal. Construction on the 1,250 square-foot building began in April and is expected to be complete in June. 

ALMA — Private pilots flying through Nebraska soon will have greater incentive to stop at Alma Municipal Airport.

Alma City Administrator Doug Wilson said nearby Harlan Lake draws many pilots to Alma, population 1,100, but the amenities offered at the airport also are an incentive for them to land.

Construction began on a 1,250-square-foot airport terminal in April, and it is anticipated to be complete in June. It will offer bathrooms, a snack bar, pilots room and lounge. The exterior will feature brick veneer, which will be done this week, Wilson said.

Currently, the airport offers self-service fuel and port-a-potties. Wilson said the airport will be a nice place for pilots to relax, plan their flight and use the restroom.

Airport Manager Ron Hawley said there will be comfortable furniture in the lounge; a refrigerator, microwave and vending machines in the snack bar area; and computers will be available to check weather reports in the pilots room.

“If you don’t have the facility here, they’re not going to stop,” he said.

A pilot himself, Hawley said the terminal is going to be a nice facility for pilots.

This is not the first time the city has updated its airport, which was built in the mid-1980s. In 2011, the self-service fuel station was installed. In 2013, the sod runway was paved, two hangars were built, and runway lights, a beacon and precision approach path indicator were added.

There are four hangars at the airport. Those house 13 local aircraft. One hangar is owned by the city.

Hawley said fuel sales tripled when the latest improvements were made, and he believes sales will double again once the terminal is complete.

He hopes more traffic will also be good for business in Alma. The airport is on the outskirts, so the city will provide courtesy cars for pilots to drive to town.

“The more activity we have out here, that helps downtown activity,” Hawley said.

He said the airport currently provides an opportunity for engineers working on Harlan Lake gates, fishermen and hunters to land their planes. He said the new terminal may also be incentive for specialists from other cities to fly in to work at Harlan County Health System in Alma.

Hawley said it took a couple years to plan the building project. During that time, he and others flew to seven or eight airports in Nebraska and Kansas to get ideas for the terminal. They modeled much of their design on Jim Kelly Field at Lexington.

Wilson said it also took a couple of years to build reserves to pay 10 percent of the $550,000 construction cost. He said the remaining 90 percent is covered through grants from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Wilson and Hawley said they want to continually make additions to the airport. The next thing on their wish list is to build another hangar, and several years from now, Wilson said, they would like to hire an airplane mechanic.

Original article can be found here:

Hollister Air Attack Base ready to battle fires in 11 counties

The Hollister Air Attack Base is back in action, ready to respond and be in the air within five minutes or less anywhere within 11 counties after receiving a 911 call. Established in 1962, at the Hollister Airport, it typically responds to about 150 calls a year. The base provides initial attack coverage for an area north to Mt. Diablo, south to Kings Canyon, east to Interstate 5, and west to the ocean. This area includes the Los Padres National Forest.

Joshua Nettles, battalion chief and air attack officer, said CalFire is contracted to have aircraft in Hollister between May 1 and Oct. 1. The planes and personnel can come earlier and stay later, depending on weather conditions.

“Last year we ended fire season right before Thanksgiving,” Nettles said. “At that time, the planes left for the winter and went to McClellan Airfield (formerly McClellan Air Force Base in North Highlands, Calif.), which is where our maintenance hub is and they get all the winter maintenance done. The planes returned on May 9, and we completely opened the base again.”

Nettles said the crew consists of three pilots, an air attack officer, a base manager, three firefighters, an aircraft mechanic, and one heavy equipment operator to drive a bulldozer that is also kept at the airport. He said the base manager acts as the liaison between emergency command centers and the air attack base to relay information. At the base the firefighters are the ground contingent who also assist in parking the aircraft and loading retardant.

The command is manned 24/7. When not on duty, if someone lives within 45 minutes of the airport, they can go home at night. With the exception of the pilots and the mechanic, who are private contractors, everyone else, including helicopter pilots, works for CAL FIRE. Nettles commutes from Clovis; one tanker pilot lives in Dixon, another lives in San Juan Bautista, and another pilot moved to Ridgemark for the season.

There are three planes at the airport: two S2T air tankers and an OV-10 Bronco. All are military excess aircraft that have been reconditioned and are classified as restricted category aircraft, meaning they have been designated as firefighting-only aircraft and don’t carry passengers.

“The Bronco is the command-and-control aircraft, which is the plane that I ride in,” Nettles said. “It seats two people, the pilot and the air attack officer. I control all the aerial resources over a fire, so I’m kind of like an air traffic controller in the sky. I coordinate with the ground forces to determine where the retardant drops and helicopter drops need to go, so we all work in unison.”

Each air tanker can carry up to 1,200 gallons of retardant.

“The retardant is phosphate-based,” he said. “It’s basically fertilizer, and the phosphate salt in it actually retards the fire. When the retardant falls out of an aircraft we’re looking for the aircraft to be at around 150 feet over the ground. The idea is that the retardant rains straight down and completely coats the grass and brush and timber, so when the fire reaches it the phosphate salt in the retardant prevents the fuel from burning.”

Nettles said the retardant is made out of food-grade materials and is biodegradable. The color, he said, is called “fugitive,” and degrades from ultraviolet light within 14 to 21 days. He said the bright orange color is used in order for the aircrews to be able to see where retardant has already been dropped.

The air attack base receives fire calls in a number of ways.

“Up in Santa Clara County there is a lookout tower that is staffed by volunteers, but typically most fire calls come in through 911 to our emergency command center in Monterey,” Nettles said. “It can come from a person on the road who sees smoke, and sometimes its general aviation aircraft flying over a remote area and they may see a fire and call it in to a local airport tower, which relays it. Or they can call it in themselves.”

When crews respond to a call, it’s all hands on deck because CalFire's mission is to keep 95 percent of all vegetation fires to 10 acres or less.

“We send everybody,” Nettles said. “As far as the aviation resources are concerned, if we get a call for a vegetation fire in our responsibility area, we send both tankers, the OB-10, and at least one copter.”

While he didn’t recall how many fires crews responded to from Hollister in 2015, he did say that 451,475 gallons of retardant were dropped on those fires. With two aircraft carrying 1,200 gallons each, a rough calculation would add up to 188 drops fire calls for each aircraft, which is above the norm of 150 missions.

“We’re within the three to five busiest air bases in the state,” Nettles said.

The 12 air attack bases in California are staggered around the state in order to assure a response to any fire within 20 minutes. All are funded through the state’s general operating budget.

Always looking for an opportunity to toss out a fire prevention message, Nettles encouraged people who fly drones to not to do so over fires.

“If they fly, we can’t,” he said. “If you see a fire don’t send up your drone or your RC aircraft in order to get good pictures. Our aircraft are in the same space, so we’ll leave the area because it’s a safety hazard. We’ll monitor the area and come back when it’s safe.”

Story and photo gallery:

Dick Merrill Salutes Historic Cessna 180, Female Pilot

When Dick Merrill takes to the air, a little-known but significant chapter of aviation history flies with him.

The 1953 Cessna 180 that the Chuckey resident has owned and flown for 36 years was repainted several years ago to match the design on a similar aircraft piloted by Geraldine "Jerrie" Fredritz Mock.

If the name is unfamiliar, suffice to say that Mock was the first woman to ever fly solo around the world in a single-engine airplane.

The 38-year-old Ohio mother of three accomplished the daunting feat in 1964 at the controls of another 1953-model Cessna 180. When Merrill, a longtime pilot and aviation history enthusiast, needed to repaint his Cessna, he and his wife Ginger discussed having it redone to resemble Jerrie Mock's "Spirit of Columbus."

He first saw Mock's airplane in the 1980s while it was at a restoration facility in Washington. Today, the Cessna 180 is displayed at the Udvar-Hazy Center, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's annex at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Merrill and Ginger, who is also a pilot, agreed that recreating the red-and-white paint scheme of Mock's airplane was a fitting tribute to her accomplishment. First, they sought her permission.

Mock, who lived in Florida at the time, gave her approval. Sadly, Mock passed away in 2014 at age 88 before seeing the freshly repainted Cessna 180, Merrill said.

The aircraft is well-known to many aviation enthusiasts. Merrill said that last summer, during a stop in Chicago on his way to the annual Experimental Aircraft Association show in Oshkosh, Wisc., members of a women pilots association saw his Cessna 180 and recognized it immediately.

"I've been to several airports where I parked and people knew what it was," Merrill said.


Most people if asked will say that American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly around the world, Merrill said.

Earhart disappeared in 1937 while flying over the Pacific Ocean.

"She didn't make it. She never came back," said Merrill, a retired petroleum geologist who learned to fly in 1957.

Despite her share of harrowing experiences on her round-the-globe flight that began in March 1964 in Columbus, Ohio, Mock successfully completed the more than 23,000-mile flight in 29-1/2 days.

The Cessna 180 flown solo by Mock had no satellite GPS system. It held up through severe weather conditions, and occasional mechanical problems, including a malfunctioning carburetor over shark-infested waters.

"She didn't have many instruments," he said. "Amelia Earhart had about the same type of navigation."

Since owning his Cessna 180, Merrill has flown all over the U.S. in the sturdy aircraft, including Alaska. He's logged about 2,500 hours total flying time, much of it in the Spirit of Columbus.

"It's like part of the family," Merrill said.

Merrill and his wife moved to Chuckey from Houston about eight years ago after retirement. Their home is near Hensley Airport, where he keeps the plane.

Flying is always a satisfying experience for the long-time aviator, who takes photographs in flight of terrain used by geology professors at several universities, including ETSU.

"It's always an accomplishment when you do a good job. Flying an airplane is like being on the sea," Merrill said. "You have to continually make decisions to make yourself safe. I'm a geologist and I love looking at the ground."


Merrill and Ginger were searching after retirement for a combination of conditions they found in East Tennessee.

"We looked at a lot of places. We specifically were looking for a place that had an airstrip and a little less traffic and a little less humidity," he said. "Tennessee fit the bill."

Merrill plans to fly to several events this summer that have a connection to Jerrie Mock.

A Jerrie Mock exhibit will open June 18th at the Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology in Mock's hometown of Newark, Ohio. Merrill plans to fly to the event with Mock's sister, who lives in Kitty Hawk, N.C.

Also in June, Merrill will fly his Cessna 180 to Columbus, where a woman pilot named Shaesta Waiz will stop on her own attempt to fly around the world. For more information, visit

Merrill's Spirit of Columbus remains a lasting tribute to an aviation pioneer.

"I thought it would be a good thing to do," he said. "(Jerrie Mock) said she would like it."

A story about Merrill's Cessna 180 and his connection to Jerrie Mock's historic flight is in the March/April edition of Vintage Aircraft Magazine, published by the EAA. It can be viewed at

Original article can be found here:

Incident occurred May 20, 2016 at Porterville Municipal Airport (KPTV), Tulare County, California

A small airplane sustained minor damage and three people walked away unscathed after the aircraft spun around on landing at the Porterville Municipal Airport at about 11:30 a.m. on Friday.

The plane, a Luscombe, was en route from out-of-state to Columbia.

Three people on board, including the pilot, were uninjured, said Andrea Labonte, an employee at the airport. In fact, he said they did not know who called for fire engines and an ambulance.

Labonte said the fire engines arrived about 20 minutes after the mishap and were not needed. He said the plane did a “ground loop” on landing. That is it was caught by a gust of crosswind and was spun around.

The small aircraft ended up facing the opposite direction and the only damage appeared to be to the nose gear.

Labonte and others at the airport said a “ground loop” is not that uncommon and there was a strong crosswind when the plane touched down.

The Luscombe was made from 1933-50 and Labonte said the plane that was damaged was built in 1946.

Apparently, there is a gathering of Luscombe aircraft at the Columbia Airport this weekend. Labonte said more than half a dozen Luscombes had already landed and taken off after getting fuel on their way to Columbia, which is near Sonora.

The plane came to rest just off the runway and the airport did not have to close.

Original article can be found here:

Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority closes FedEx land deal

The Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority's nearly five-year effort to bring a FedEx Ground plant to Allen Township hit pay dirt Friday when the authority closed its deal to sell 260 acres of airport land for the project.

The $9.8 million deal came in for a landing two years late and required fighting through protests and legal challenges, but its closing almost single-handedly reverses the authority's long-standing financial struggles.

The property along Willowbrook Road was sold to New York developers The Rockefeller Group for a 1.1 million-square-foot FedEx Ground megahub. The land sale is actually the last of three deals that had to happen for the authority to get its money.

Before Rockefeller would close on the parcel, owners of the neighboring Willow Brook horse farm had to agree to remove a deed restriction. That agreement was finalized this month.

Rockefeller also has to widen 3 miles of road to handle the traffic into the FedEx site. And to prepare for that, the airport authority had to buy several roadside rights-of-way from private landowners. The last of the rights-of-way deals closed this week.

All three land issues had to be synchronized before Rockefeller would deliver the airport its check. That happened Friday.

"It feels like we've been inside the 10-yard line for so long it's kind of nice to finally carry this thing across the goal line," authority Chairman J. Michael Dowd said. "It's been a long five years. We had to make some tough decisions. Finally we can start looking to the future."

Because Rockefeller had to front $400,000 for environmental testing and the airport had to spend money on rights-of-way acquisition and sellers fees, the check it netted Friday was for roughly $8 million, said Charles Everett Jr., authority executive director.

Lehigh County judge ruled that it owed investors $26 million for taking 632 acres of development land in the 1990s. With just five years to pay the debt, it reduced airport services and staff. It also struck a deal to allow The Rockefeller Group to develop the land and find a user.

The FedEx Ground plant is expected to create 282 full-time jobs and 398 part-time jobs in the first three years and be able to process as many as 30,000 packages an hour. The project and land sale Friday caught the attention of Gov. Tom Wolf, whose administration is providing more than $2 million in development grants for the project.

Though FedEx officials initially set full build-out costs at $335 million, they said this week that the first phase will cost $227 million. Another $40 million is being spent on roadwork.

"Pennsylvania is steadily rebuilding its reputation as the best state to do business in, thanks in part to our unparalleled public-private partnerships," Wolf said. "The significant investment FedEx is making in Pennsylvania by establishing a new mid-Atlantic distribution facility that is expected to create 680 new jobs is just one example of the type of success that is happening all throughout the commonwealth."

Because the project will add another 14,000 vehicles a day to the road system, Rockefeller and FedEx will pay to widen the road from the site on Willowbrook Road, as well as portions of Race Street and Airport Road to Route 22.

It's a project that did not come easily. Hundreds of residents showed up at Allen Township meetings to protest the noise and traffic it will bring their neighborhood. The plant site has been farmed for corn and soybeans for decades. Ultimately, township officials said the land was rezoned for industrial use years ago because of its location near Route 22 and the airport, and that the FedEx plant met all the requirements of the new zoning.

That was no consolation to Robert and Kim Nappa, who will be able to see the plant lights from their 200-year-old farmhouse on East Bullshead Road. All that new traffic is projected to include 1,800 more trucks a day, many of them FedEx Ground tandem tractor-trailers.

"We lost and they won, but nothing's really changed about the project. Our view hasn't changed," Robert Nappa said. "We're just going to have to wait to see how bad it gets. It will be bad, I have no doubt."

The deal consummated Friday had to overcome several obstacles. As Rockefeller was wading through planning the project over the past two years, it realized that the property had a 1991 deed restriction prohibiting industrial use, which was put on the land when it was sold back then by Willow Brook Farms owners, the Fuller Family Trust.

After months of talks, Rockefeller and The Fuller Family Trust struck a deal this month that pays the trust an undisclosed amount of money and helps build a roadside berm that will insulate the horse farm from the plant site. In return, the trust removed the deed restriction.

But even as that was going on, airport officials were in court with a landowner along the road widening route. The airport authority had to acquire 26 rights-of-way for roadwork. One of the land owners, Airport Ventures, would not sell and the authority filed a legal action to take the land by eminent domain. Airport Ventures contested the taking. A source told The Morning Call, the airport offered to pay Airport Ventures $750,000 for a 0.6-acre piece of its 6-acre lot at 1650 E. Race St. According to the source, Airport Ventures asked for $4.8 million.

Instead, while the two sides prepared to meet in court, airport officials quietly acquired a half-dozen properties across the road. The last of those deals closed this week and Everett said the eminent domain claim will be dropped. As a result, the road widening will have to shift slightly south. That means that Airport Venture will not have to give up a piece of its lot.

Airport Ventures attorney Joel Wiener would not confirm that his clients were seeking a multimillion-dollar settlement. However, he noted that the matter was more about the negative impact the taking would have on the remaining Airport Venture lot.

"Those were confidential settlement discussions and no one has told us that the condemnation has been terminated," Wiener said. "If that's true, the good news is my clients get to keep their land."

The road widening is expected to begin this summer and Rockefeller is expected to break ground on the FedEx Ground plant in June.

The plant is scheduled to be open in early 2018.

Story and video:

New regulations aim to help business grow at Rowan County Airport (KRUQ), Salisbury, North Carolina

SALISBURY — With a couple dozen pages of policy, the Rowan County Airport hopes to cement past practices and make it easy for businesses to open up shop.

The airport advisory board on Friday unanimously passed a 55-page-long set of minimum standards that sets guidelines for things such as building and hangar design. Airport Board Chairman Addison Davis said the guidelines will simplify the process for new businesses to locate at the Rowan County Airport.

“The reality is that previously if a new business wanted to come the (airport) board would have to convene, make decisions, talk about information they provide,” Davis said. “Today, we can hand them these minimum standards and say ‘this is the way operate, and if you have any questions give me a call.'”

Friday’s approval comes after months of work by the airport board. The minimum standards will now be forwarded to County Attorney Jay Dees before being considered by Rowan County commissioners.

“This is going to help us become competitive in the aviation marketplace, and that’s important,” Davis said. “We’ll become competitive in the aviation marketplace by ensuring that we operating at the level that our competitors are.”

Rowan County Airport Director Thad Howell said the last set of minimum standards were passed in 2003. Howell said minimum standards are an important tool for airports and are strongly encouraged by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Davis said the previous standards were thin, and practices sometimes didn’t match up with written policies.

A few examples of the measures contained in the minimum standards include: Rowan County can be the only entity that sells fuel at the airport; prospective businesses at the airport must provide a statement of fiscal responsibility to the airport; all areas leased at the airport shall also provide parking; the maximum term of leases cannot exceed 20 years; flying clubs based at the airport cannot conduct flight instruction at the airport unless it’s for regular members and a bevy of other items.

County Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds, who attended Friday’s airport board meeting, said he hopes the new minimum standards will help the Rowan County Airport add new private businesses.

For commissioners, the airport has become a targeted spot for economic development. Commissioners recently already approved construction of an approximately $2 million, 15,000-foot corporate hangar and plan to foot the cost of construction with a loan. Edds has said the tax revenue from airplanes can quickly repay the loan and the planes generate tax revenue without requiring services such as schools.

Next up, the Rowan County Airport Board will generate a set of basic rules and regulations. As an example of a rule, Davis said the board would determine how fast airplanes can move taxi — moving before takeoff or after landing.

Original article can be found here: