Monday, May 30, 2016

Cessna 172N Skyhawk, N739ZE, registered to Libra Air Inc and operated by Encore Flight Academy: Fatal accident occurred May 28, 2016 in Avalon, California

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR16FAMS1
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 28, 2016 in Avalon, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/06/2017
Aircraft: CESSNA 172N, registration: N739ZE
Injuries: 2 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 flight instructor and student pilot departed for an instructional flight from an airport on an island en route back to their home airport on the mainland. A review of radar data indicated that the airplane took off with its transponder in the “off” position; therefore, no altitude information was available. The data indicated that, after taking off, the airplane flew north. The track ended 3 minutes later over open water about 5 miles north of the departure airport. After the airplane was reported missing, a search ensued. Although an oil slick consistent with drift models was present in this area, neither the airplane nor the occupants were found. 

Four minutes before the airplane took off, the reported weather at the departure airport included 9 statute miles visibility and a broken cloud ceiling at 800 ft above ground level (agl); however, the remarks section reported that the ceiling varied between 600 and 1,000 ft agl. In addition, satellite imagery indicated that there was a thick marine layer just north of the airport. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
Undetermined because the airplane was not located.

The NTSB did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Long Beach, California 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Registered to Libra Air Inc 
Operated by Encore Flight Academy

NTSB Identification: WPR16FAMS1
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 28, 2016 in Avalon, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA 172N, registration: N739ZE
Injuries: 2 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.

On May 28, 2016, about 1257 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 172 airplane, N739ZE, is presumed to have crashed in the Pacific Ocean about 5 miles north of Avalon, California. The airplane was registered to Libra Air Inc. and operated by Encore Flight Academy as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight. The certified flight instructor and student pilot have not been located and the airplane is missing; presumed to be destroyed. Both pilots are presumed to be fatally injured. Both instrument and visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area, and no flight plan had been filed. The airplane departed Catalina Airport (AVX), Avalon, California about 1254 and was destined for Van Nuys Airport (VNY), Van Nuys, California.

On May 29, 2016, a concerned family member of the student pilot contacted the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department (LASD) to report their family member missing. They reported that the student pilot went flying with an instructor the day prior, and they have not heard from him since. The LASD contacted Encore Flight Academy, who reported that the accident airplane was not at their facility, nor do they have record of it returning the day prior.

The NTSB attempted to contact the operator numerous times, but to no avail; nor did the operator submit a Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report, NTSB Form 6120.1. 

Review of radar data for the area revealed that the airplane took off from VNY and landed safely at AVX at 1209. At 1254, the airplane took off from AVX with its transponder in the off position and flew north. At 1257 the track ends over the water 5 miles north of AVX. An oil slick consistent with drift models was present in this area. 

A weather study revealed that at the time of takeoff from VNY, the weather at AVX reported 4 miles visibility, mist, and an overcast ceiling of 300 feet agl. When the airplane arrived at AVX weather indicated 8 miles of visibility and an overcast ceiling of 500 feet agl. Four minutes prior to the airplane departing AVX, weather reported 9 miles of visibility and a broken ceiling at 800 feet agl, however, in the remarks section it reported the ceiling varied between 600 feet agl and 1000 feet agl. In addition, satellite imagery indicated a thick marine layer was just north of AVX, and in the vicinity of the presumed accident location. 

The U.S. Coast Guard, Civil Air Patrol, and private entities conducted a search for the missing airplane along the apparent route of flight; however, no wreckage was found. The pilots and airplane remain missing. 

Air Rescue 5 continues coastal search Tuesday morning for signs of missing Cessna 172N Skyhawk last seen at Catalina Island.

A person arrives at the Encore Flight Academy at the Van Nuys Airport in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles, on Tuesday, May 31, 2016. A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said a Cessna 172N Skyhawk carrying two people departed from Catalina Airport Saturday and was reported overdue when it failed to arrive on time at Van Nuys Airport. An official with Encore Flight Academy said the plane was carrying a student pilot and an experienced instructor.

LOS ANGELES — A small plane carrying a student pilot and veteran instructor remained missing Tuesday after a weekend flight to Santa Catalina Island off the coast of Southern California.

Aerial searches covering hundreds of square miles of ocean found no signs of the Cessna 172N Skyhawk, which flew to the resort island’s airport on Saturday. It vanished after taking off from Catalina Airport en route to Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles later that afternoon.

“The whole situation is kind of a mystery,” said Alex Abbassi, operations director for the student pilot’s school, Encore Flight Academy at Van Nuys Airport.

The student, Edmond Haronian, is 90 percent of the way toward earning his private pilot’s license and has become a close friend since starting training a year ago, Abbassi said.

“He was very close to taking his final test to get his pilot’s license,” Abbassi said. He identified the instructor as Jason Glazier, who has some 30 years of flight instruction experience.

The flight was arranged between the student and the instructor, Abbassi said.

The airplane they took was in excellent condition after undergoing a complete inspection in March, Abbassi said. It had flown only 60 hours since then.

On Catalina, Haronian posted some pictures on Facebook and then around 1 p.m. the two took off, Abbassi said, describing the weather as good for the trip.

The two fliers and their plane were not known to be missing until a Haronian family member contacted the flight school Sunday afternoon with concerns.

Abbassi said the Federal Aviation Administration was notified, and calls were placed to the men’s cellphones and to airports. The Coast Guard also sent aircraft to aid in the search effort.

Abbassi noted it would not have automatically been a concern that they did not return Saturday because they could have decided to stay on the island. He said it remained a possibility — but a “very, very unlikely” one — that the two had decided to go somewhere else.

“Our prayers go with the family,” he said.


Authorities Monday were in search of a missing Cessna 172N Skyhawk that departed from Catalina Island over the weekend and never made it to its Van Nuys destination.

A pilot-in-training and flight instructor went missing in a single-engine Cessna 172 after departing from Catalina Island airport over the weekend, launching a coordinated search Monday.

The Coast Guard and Federal Aviation Administration launched a search Monday after the four-seater plane did not land at the Van Nuys Airport as scheduled.

The small plane took off from Catalina Island and was expected at Van Nuys Airport Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. 

The FAA said in preliminary reports that two people were aboard.

The training pilot's family identified him as Edmond Haronian. They said he was to arrive at Van Nuys Airport with his flight instructor from Encore Flight Academy.

Haronian posted pictures to social media on Saturday, the day the plane went missing. 

"Since Saturday, which is May 28, we have not had any news from him. We have not heard from him — no calls, no texts. We are very worried," Saeed Majdipour, the pilot's brother-in-law, said.

Haronian's brother-in-law said the family became worried when Sunday came, and no one had heard from the pilot.

They contacted the flight academy, and employees confirmed that Haronian and his instructor were missing. 

The family was upset as the academy did not contact them right away.

Haronian's Mercedes remained in the parking lot over the weekend.

Encore Flight Academy did not immediately return calls for comment. 

The U.S. Coast Guard released photos as the team searched Monday evening. The team spent 10 hours searching around Catalina Island, and didn't find any signs of wreckage or debris.

Haronian's last call was to his sons shortly before 1 p.m. when he told them he would be taking off.

Story and video:

The family of a pilot in training said he and his flight instructor went missing in a Cessna 172N Skyhawk over the weekend, leaving them incredibly worried.

AVALON, Calif. (KABC) -- Authorities Monday were in search of a missing single-engine plane that departed from Catalina Island over the weekend and never made it to its Van Nuys destination.

The Cessna 172, carrying two passengers, departed from Catalina Island Airport at about 1 p.m. Saturday and was reported overdue when it failed to arrive at Van Nuys Airport between 3 and 4 p.m. Sunday, according to officials from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The aircraft was only described as having the tail number: N739ZE.

The family of pilot Edmond Haronian notified the U.S. Coast Guard of the missing plane on Monday morning, and both FAA and Coast Guard officials began a search by air. The family of the Woodland Hills resident said he is a father of two.

Eddie Bardi, Haronian's step son, said the family became concerned on Sunday when no one could reach him.

According to Alex Abbassi, director of operations at Encore Flight Academy, Haronian was a high-valued customer who was free to go where he wanted in the rented plane, as long as an instructor was with him.

The flight instructor was also said to be very experienced, with more than 30 years flying.

"He was doing very well...he's soloed by himself, flown by himself, under his instructor's supervision...and he's done very well. He's capable...," Bardi added.

Abbassi initiated the call to the Flight Service Station for a search-and-rescue team after he spoke with Haronian's family. He explained the aircraft was in good shape and passed a complete maintenance evaluation in March. Ambassi added the plane had only flown 60 hours since then.

Along with the help of the Coast Guard, the family chartered three helicopters to help scour the water for any signs of debris.

"It's just too much ocean to cover, really, and I believe the Coast Guard is on it, the FAA is on it...," Bardi said. "...The entire family is worried. He has many people that love him, many that adore him."

Authorities said the name of the flight instructor on the plane was not yet available, and the search was expected to resume Tuesday morning.

Story and video:

Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub, Tri-W Inc., N41553: Accident occurred May 30, 2016 at Laurel Municipal Airport (6S8), Yellowstone County, Montana

Kathryn's Report:


NTSB Identification: GAA16CA265
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, May 30, 2016 in Laurel, MT
Aircraft: PIPER PA 18-150, registration: N41553

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

Date:  30-MAY-16
Time:  17:15:00Z
Regis#:  N41553
Aircraft Make:  PIPER
Aircraft Model:  PA18
Event Type:  Accident
Highest Injury:  None
Damage:  Substantial 
Flight Phase:  LANDING (LDG)
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Helena FSDO-05
State:  Montana


BILLINGS - Nobody was injured when a small airplane crashed at the Laurel Airport on Monday.

Sgt. Kevin Cunningham, with the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office, said Laurel and county emergency crews were called out to the airport just before 11:30 a.m. on a reported plane crash.

The pilot, who wasn't hurt and was the only person in the Piper Supercub PA 18, reported that he'd flown out to Columbus and was returning when a strong gust of wind hit the plane as it attempted to land at Laurel, causing it crash off the far west end of the runway, Cunningham said.

While the pilot was uninjured, Cunningham described the aircraft as "extensively damaged."

Police, fire and emergency crews from Laurel assisted and the plane could be seen upright on the runway about two hours later.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

LAUREL -  Federal agencies are investigating a plane crash that occurred Monday morning at Laurel Municipal Airport.

Sgt. Kevin Cunningham said the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office received a report about the plane crash at 11:26 a.m. Monday. 

Cunningham said the pilot was the only person inside the Piper Super Cub. 

Cunningham said the pilot is uninjured. 

The plane appears to be a complete loss.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash.


Cessna R182 Skylane RG, Hub City Aviation LLC, N4856T: Incident occurred May 30, 2016 in Roebuck, Spartanburg County, South Carolina

Kathryn's Report:

Date: 30-MAY-16
Time: 17:45:00Z
Regis#: N4856T
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 182
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA West Columbia FSDO-13
State: South Carolina



MOORE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Spartanburg County emergency responders are heading to an area of Highway 290 in Moore after dispatchers said they received reports of a plane landing on the highway.

The plane reportedly landed near Pearson Town Road near the intersection of US 221 on Monday afternoon.

Dispatchers said they were also notified of a possible aircraft emergency in the area of Old Boiling Springs Road. Firefighters from the Whitney Fire Department were sent to check the area where air traffic control tower operators said they last made contact with the aircraft, according to dispatchers.

Emergency responders later learned that both incidents involved the same plane, a single engine Cessna, which landed without incident or injury on the roadway, according to officials at the scene.

Firefighters said the pilot reported having engine troubles just before the landing.

The incident was reported to the FAA.

Story and video:

A single-engine airplane made an emergency landing on Highway 290 near Roebuck on Monday afternoon.

There were no injuries.

Poplar Springs firefighters responded to help bring the airplane to a side street.

Jamie Phillips with the Poplar Springs Fire Department said the FAA is responding to conduct an investigation.

Phillips said the pilot reported that his engine cut out while in the air.

Neighbors said the Memorial Day holiday allowed for minimal traffic and a clear roadway for the pilot to land.


Cessna 170A, Flymore Inc., N1441D: Accident occurred May 30, 2016 at MBS International Airport (KMBS), Tittabawassee Township, Saginaw County, Michigan


FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Grand Rapids FSDO-09

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA275
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, May 30, 2016 in Saginaw, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/03/2016
Aircraft: CESSNA 170, registration: N1441D
Injuries: 3 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 after a long straight-in final approach, as he reduced power for the landing flare, the airplane dropped "flat" and bounced hard on the runway. The pilot further reported that he added power to cushion the touchdown after the bounce, but the right main landing gear had collapsed after the initial impact. Subsequently, the airplane veered off the runway to the left and nosed over.

The fuselage, wings, and vertical stabilizer were substantially damaged.

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 exceedance of the critical angle of attack during the landing flare, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall, hard landing, right main landing gear collapse, runway excursion, and nose over.

TITTABAWASSEE TOWNSHIP, MI — Authorities responded to MBS International Airport on Memorial Day morning for a crash involving a small airplane.

The plane appeared to have flipped over and was mostly intact. Authorities said injuries, if any, were minor.

The crash occurred about 10:15 a.m. Monday, May 30. Saginaw County Central Dispatch officials stated Tittabawassee Township firefighters and medical personnel responded to the airport, 9200 Garfield, after receiving the emergency call.

Tittabawassee Township Fire Chief Philip Shaver said he could not comment because MBS officials are in charge of the incident. The Saginaw News could not immediately reach Airport Manager Jeff Nagel for comment.

Saginaw County 911 Director Tom McIntyre said the plane involved in the crash was a small, private plane.

Saginaw County sheriff's deputies also responded to the crash. Lt. Mike Gomez said as of 11:30 a.m. that his deputies were unable to aid in any investigation of the crash because planes were landing on other runways and airport officials did not want people on or near the runways.

MBS International is located in northwest Saginaw County and serves the Saginaw, Bay City and Midland area.


FREELAND — UPDATED 11:40 am with new information and corrects the number of people on board the plane.

A small plane crashed at MBS airport in Freeland on Monday morning.

Officials first reported the Cessna 170 crash just after 10 am.

The plane flipped over while attempting to land on the runway. 

Originally officials said it was mechanical, but are now saying that the cause is unknown. The FAA and NTSB are handling the investigation.

There were three people on board the plane, no injuries being reported.

The runway where the plane crashed is currently closed, however the airport remains open.

Airport officials say that there will be no impact on travelers.

A blueprint to build Fox Valley Aerospace

Kathryn's Report:

A report years in the making identifies 3-D printing and renewed training of engineers and others as the ticket to attracting a long-sought aviation industry to the Fox Valley.

A blueprint for building an aviation industry are outlined in a Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corporation (GO-EDC) report on how to diversify the Fox Valley economy in the wake of layoffs in 2012 and 2013. This upstart agency took the reins of the project after stakeholders cut ties with an aviation consulting firm charged with carrying the project to completion.

Oshkosh for years has been working to transform the churn of the Experimental Aircraft Association's annual AirVenture convention into a lasting economic driver. But a round of layoffs at the state's largest federal contractor brought money and inertia to these plans.

All this began after layoffs at Oshkosh Corp., a U.S. Department of Defense contractor, left more than 1,400 unemployed in Oshkosh and Neenah in 2012 and 2013, an economic loss of about $90 million across the region.

This sudden downturn at the company set off alarm bells with the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA), and the agency notified the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission that it would qualify for a grant to re-train workers and diversify the broader economy.

So with $2 million in federal funds, East Central led this charge to bring an aviation industry to Oshkosh, Fond du Lac, Appleton and Green Bay. An ongoing second phase of this project would implement the plans outlined in GO-EDC’s report.

Jennifer Jensen, of NextJen Studios, who contributed to this report, said pitching Oshkosh alone as a site for aerospace companies to settle in isn’t as compelling as pitching the Fox Valley and its deep manufacturing skill set. The ultimate goal, she said, is to emerge with an economy diversified with aerospace.

"Each airport offers something unique," Jensen said. "If we look at our region as stretching from Fond du Lac to Green Bay, that's a significant piece of land to develop."

Need for 3-D printing, engineers

Local stakeholders have long sought to bring aerospace here, because many of the skills that industry demands overlap with skills of workers already in the region, said Jason White, Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corporation CEO.

In the Fox Valley, more than 20 percent of workers are employed in manufacturing, according to GO-EDC's report. So supporting the industry isn’t isolated to Oshkosh, White said.

“Every airport in the Fox Valley has development land available,” he said. “Each airport has agreed to collaborate regionally. Everybody knows the importance of taking a regional approach.”

GO-EDC concludes that investing in additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, could position the region to attract aerospace companies, which adapted many of these skills early. According to the GO-EDC report, 3D-printing will grow from a $400 million industry in 2014 to a $1.2 billion industry by 2023.

Though companies like Boeing, General Electric and Lockheed Martin have deployed 3D-printing in projects like jet and satellite-building, some Aerospace executives remain skeptical of this process. The report concludes, though, that companies that are slow to adopt may miss this expanding market.

Locally, companies that could supply the aviation industry have not yet invested in 3D-printing, due in-part to fear of meeting federal regulations or investing in this relatively new technology. “Most companies lack a basic understanding of how it could impact the industry and their business and the best way to adopt it,” according to the report.

Another obstacle: just a handful of educational programs in Wisconsin are equipped with 3D-printers, and none use these machines for aviation chiefly. Fox Valley Technical College, in Oshkosh and Appleton, is among three schools in the state that runs a 3D-printer. The college uses the technology to spark student interest in manufacturing.

From more than 100 interviews with aerospace companies, the report finds that the Fox Valley region lacks engineering and research talent to attract aviation companies, despite a skilled workforce and some aviation education programs, like Fox Valley Tech's S.J. Spanbauer Center, which teaches aviation manufacturing skills.

But a shortage of engineers in aviation is not unique to the Oshkosh area, the report concludes. And introducing aerospace careers into classrooms earlier as part of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education could help reverse that.

"We would like to see significant aerospace companies put their footprint down in the region,,” she said.

Consultant dropped abruptly

GO-EDC wrapped up this aviation report after stakeholders cut ties with a Florida consulting firm that had been hired to outline how best to bring aerospace to Wisconsin.

Newly formed GO-EDC delivered this finalized report to DoD in just six months, after the Oshkosh Common Council terminated its contract with consulting firm Explorer Solutions, first hired with more than $180,000 in grant money in March 2014.

Though GO-EDC used just a morsel of an Explorer Solutions' research in its final report, stakeholders in this process characterize the firm's contribution as providing a base of research that underpins this plan.

Meridith Jaeger, director of AeroInnovate, a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh aviation business accelerator program, said she and others that built the final report tempered Explorer Solutions finding with interviews and input from local and national companies.

"(Explorer Solutions) did a good job compiling what was out there," Jaegar said.

According to a draft of its research obtained by USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin, Explorer Solutions suggested the region develop engine-building capabilities and airplane maintenance shops that would draw fliers from nearby states for repairs. GO-EDC did not include these suggestions in its report to DoD.

Explorer Solutions also proposed, among other things, that the region develop a “GA (General Aviation) City,” a subdivision lined with a runway, and homes complete with airplane hangars, not garages. Some hobbyists would live in this subdivision, others would fly into Oshkosh year-round, to hunt, fish and snowmobile.

GO-EDC did not include this plan in its report to the DoD, either.

Ultimately, GO-EDC only included Explorer Solutions’ blueprint for 3D-printing in its final planning outline to the Department of Defense – just 10 pages of Explorer’s 100-plus page report. During a meeting last May, the Common Council voted unopposed to terminate its contract with Explorer Solutions and hire GO-EDC to finish the report, for $150,000.

Summer of opportunity

With this report in hand and a parcel of land near Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh ready for new industry, White and other stakeholders see this July's EAA convention as an opportunity to introduce the region as a place for business, as well as recreation.

State, local and federal money has funded construction of an 80-acre development-ready business park that stakeholders hope will attract aviation companies. These lots are outfitted with plumbing and other infrastructure that companies need to develop there.

With land available, and new state tax breaks that shrink the tax rate on manufacturers to near-zero, Jaeger said Oshkosh can make a more-compelling case to companies that the area can support the industry.

For the first time during EAA this summer, developers will be able to deliver a full-throated pitch to businesses that flock to the convention.

“In the past we had companies that were interested in coming here but didn’t, because we didn’t have the right pieces in place,” Jaeger said. “"Slowly but surely this effort has been gaining traction. We are gathering more pieces to this puzzle."

Original article can be found here:

World War II air ace still flying planes at 90

Kathryn's Report:

Dick Padgett, who was a Flying Fortress B17 bomber pilot in World War II, now serves as a tow pilot at Wurtsboro Airport (N82), New York.

WURTSBORO — The Army Air Force was in such desperate need of pilots during World War II that teenagers like Dick Padgett, who already had a pilot’s license, were commissioned as officers after just four months of training - a third of the average time.

Padgett, originally from Hightstown, N.J., volunteered for the war at age 19 in 1943.

He told his grandparents, who raised him, that he didn’t want to be in the infantry because he “didn’t like walking too much.” His love of flying may have had a bit to do with it, as well.

Padgett began flying when he was 13. He got a job at his local airport, working 40 hours a week without pay in exchange for flight lessons.

He took his first solo flight on his 16th birthday, the earliest he was allowed.

During World War II, Padgett piloted a B-17 Flying Fortress with the 8th Air Force.

It was a fantastic airplane, Padgett said, keeping him safe through scores of missions.

On one early mission, Padgett said, anti-aircraft fire came through the fuselage and sent shrapnel up through his back, but he didn’t notice he was hit until they landed and his co-pilot saw the blood.

“You’re so keyed up at that time,” Padgett said.

There wasn’t time to notice pain or fear while flying wingtip-to-wingtip, dropping bombs on munitions factories across Europe, he said.

Once, he got shot down and had to belly-land in Belgium, where he and his men then lived with the Belgian underground for 34 days before they could be rescued by the English.

“We didn’t consider that terrifying; it was fighting for your country,” Padgett said.

After the war ended, Padgett went back to Princeton University to finish his mechanical engineering degree.

People didn’t treat the returning soldiers like what they did was a big deal, Padgett said.

“I had a school teacher who said, ‘Where you been, Richard?’” Padgett said. “I said, ‘I was a little busy.’”

It was the Germans who led Padgett to eventually relocate to Wurtsboro, where he lives now.

He was amazed by the Germans’ flying skills, and heard they all learned to fly in sailplanes, or gliders.

Padgett spent his weekends after the war at the Wurtsboro Airport, learning to fly gliders alongside former Luftwaffe pilots, whom he called “fantastic guys.”

Now 90 years old, Padgett is one of Wurtsboro Airport’s two tow pilots.

He flies an L-19 Bird Dog with his name painted on the side as he tows gliders into the air up to 25 times a day.

He’s spent tens of thousands of hours in planes, and he has no doubt he will pass his commercial pilot’s physical this summer and continue flying.

But even with all those hours, Padgett said he’s still learning, like any good pilot.

“When you stop learning, you better get out of the airplane, because you’re gonna hurt somebody,” Padgett said.


Department of Transportation issues tentative termination for 3 Pennsylvania airports: Altoona-Blair County ( KAOO), DuBois Regional (KDUJ), John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County (KJST)

Kathryn's Report:

JOHNSTOWN -- Three local rural airports could lose millions in federal funding, threatening to shut down commercial traffic.

Two weeks ago, the Department of Transportation issued a regulation to tentatively end Essential Air Service to the DuBois Regional Airport, John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport and the Altoona-Blair County Airport.

Flight aren't expected to be canceled because of this, Altoona airport manager Tracy Plessinger said.

But the three local airports are currently reviewing essential air service bids at this time and waiting to appeal for a waiver. The EAS is how the federal government pays to keep passenger flights going to small airports. DOT announced an order to tentatively terminate the EAS eligibility last Friday. It wrote in its order that the airports should show cause why the DOT should not terminate this program.

It is looking at eliminating Essential Air Service the three airports because it either did not enplane an average of 10 or more passengers per day and/or the subsidy rate per passenger exceeded $200.

Johnstown and DuBois both met the enplanement per day threshold, according to DOT data, but were over the limit for subsidies. The airport in DuBois received $2.2 million in subsidies, but has a rate per passenger of $324.

For the Johnstown airport, $2.34 million in subsidies came in, but its rate per passenger was $276.

Altoona did not meet either threshold, according to the department. The airport enplaned an average of 7.3 passengers per day, under the 10 of more per day expectation. Last year it received $1.9 million in subsidies, equating to $420 rate per passenger, according to the DOT.

Plessinger said the airport will appeal for waiver. He said that while there was not a technical interruption of service, the current airline did not begin flying until December. Airport staff is currently looking over three EAS bids for the next year, Plessinger said.

Plessinger sent 6 News a statement on Friday, which reads in part:

The airport and community will work closely with our state, local and federal leaders to demonstrate to the dot the struggles with air service in recent years at Altoona and work to grant us a waiver to continue receiving subsidy service.
"There's a per seat cap of $200 that the airline has exceeded and so we need to address that with a waiver so we're working on that," said Bob Shaffer, DuBois Airport manager, said in an interview with 6News on Thursday. 

 The order gives the airports 20 days to submit objections. 

Those are objections to the data. Another final order will be released at a later date for the waiver application.
Story and video:

New Army helicopter unit stretches imagination

Kathryn's Report:

Pfc. Erik Corona checks the pitch control links of an Apache helicopter in Hangar 5 at Fort Wainwright on Tuesday, May 24, 2016.

Pfc. Tyler Peterson works on the number two engine of an Apache helicopter in Hangar 5 at Fort Wainwright on Tuesday, May 24, 2016.

LADD ARMY AIRFIELD — The briefing delivered in this Fort Wainwright hangar was a mix of imaginary war games and real safety information for a reason: these helicopter pilots need to stay sharp even when they’re not deployed to a war.

None of that makes the briefing sound any less strange to an outsider.

Tuesday was a gloomy day a Fort Wainwright’s airfield. There were isolated showers and 9-knot winds from the southwest, explained CW2 Michael Harms, reading a real weather report. At about 3 p.m., two of Fort Wainwright’s 20 Apache Longbow helicopters were leaving on a training mission south of the Fairbanks. Harms, the tactical operations officer, explained flight plans and radio communication channels.

The briefing took a turn when he got to the part about hazards.

“The Gray Eagle (unmanned plane) reported that six military-aged-men were two kilometers southeast,” Harms said. “They do have shoulder-carried weapons, shoulder-fired weapons. At this time, it’s unclear if they’re RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) or surface-to-air missiles.”

He explained that they were concerned that the men were going to build a roadside bomb on “checkpoint bridge” in order to stage an ambush along “MSR Parks.” The unit’s mission would be to help protect the highway for a convoy. The soldiers discussed contingency plans for what they would do if one of the helicopters was shot down. They identified the terrain around Rex Dome as a good place to hide behind.  

No, the Army is not really investigating roadside bombs on the Parks Highway and the group of ATVers mentioned in the briefing weren’t really going to attack the Army with shoulder-fired missiles.

But in the fictitious campaign, the Army aviation soldiers have been fighting for months; the town of “Tenana” is under attack. The fight began months ago as a conventional war. Fifty training missions later it’s a counter-insurgency

war, the type of combat many of the helicopter pilots know from recent deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Their imaginary war in “Tenana” just happens to overlay the real, and rather tranquil, town of Nenana and the Jack Coghill Bridge to the Interior on the Parks Highway.

Detailed planning goes into making these training scenarios as realistic as possible, but for obvious practical reasons, it takes some imagination to carry them out. People traveling the Parks Highway are not really enemy fighters, so there’s no pointing of weapons allowed. The helicopters carry dummy missiles and any “combat” parts of the mission take place only in the descriptions of the commander and the minds of the pilots.

“The last thing you want to do is have the American people think we’re spying on them. But at the same time, you have to use the resources that are out there,” explained Lt. Col. Jaysen Yochim, The Battalion Commander for Fort Wainwright’s new aviation unit the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment.

“We need something to go out and look at and we don’t have the resources to send our own things out there,” he said.

In the Lower 48, an Apache unit in training might build a storyline around the routine comings and goings of a busy section of railroad track or interstate highway, Yochim said. In Alaska, the landscape has fewer features that can play the role of threats in training exercises.

There’s been one useful feature of Alaska’s landscape.

“One things you can do a lot when you’re trying to track targets — you’re not tracking people — is here there is a lot of wildlife and moose make pretty good targets to just walk across and keep your sights on it. You’re not going to do anything, you’re just using it as a target,” Yochim said.

Ideally, the helicopter pilots would be training in the military’s 2,490 square-mile Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, where they can conduct live-fire gunnery exercises and defend against simulated attacks from anti-aircraft guns. But the range is in high demand and last week it was being used by Air Force-led Red Flag Alaska training exercises.

New helicopter, new needs

Fort Wainwright’s new aviation battalion was created six months ago. The unit, the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, features two aircraft that are new to Interior skies, the Apache helicopter and the Gray Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle.

Cpt. Richard Packer, a public affairs officer whose background is in the Army’s land-based units, likens Fort Wainwright’s three helicopters to a bus, a sedan and a motorcycle. The Chinook is a flying bus that can lift large pieces of equipment. The Blackhawk is an all-purpose sedan that can be used for medical evacuations or troop transport.

The new Apaches are motorcycles, small heavily armed vehicles flown by two soldiers, one behind the other. They replace an older helicopter at Fort Wainwright, the 0H-58D Kiowa Warriors.

When the attack helicopter battalion is complete, it will have nine Gray Eagles and three companies of Apaches, each with eight helicopters.

In the eyes of the battalion commander — himself an Apache pilot — training an Apache unit is more complex than training a Blackhawk or Chinook unit.

“This is what we do every day,” he said. “We can’t really attack things, but we have to be able to train to attack things.”

At the end of Tuesday’s briefing, the soldiers abruptly stood up from their conference table. Bravo Company Commander Cpt. Jeff Piazza announced that leaders had called for their assistance.

“We’re going to launch right now,” he said, clapping his hands together.

The four soldiers walked briskly out of the conference room and down a flight of stairs to their two helicopters. The Apaches were already in the tarmac and had received their pre-flight inspections and tests. Within about five minutes of Piazza’s order, the crews had climbed into their cockpits and taxied away. Piazza sits in the rear seat of one of the helicopters, the main pilot’s seat in an Apache.

Then they waited with their rotors spinning. The air traffic control tower took no interest in the counterinsurgency war in “Tenana.” The Fort Wainwright airfield was busy Tuesday afternoon with Chinooks, Blackhawks and Alaska Fire Service planes constantly coming and going. The Apache helicopters waited for a small plane to land before lifting off and turning south towards the Jack Coghill Bridge.

According to Piazza, they were returned to the airfield about two hours later and were successful.

“The mission when really well. It went pretty much as planned. I threw a few contingencies at them and everyone reacted appropriately” he said later in the week. Piazza explained before he left that he likes to surprise his soldiers by “calling audibles.”

On Tuesday, the mission deviated from the plan just before they reached the bridge. The helicopter crews got a call from their allies on the ground — in reality Piazza calling them using a slightly different voice and a different radio frequency. The other soldiers stopped what they were doing, made contact with their “friendly forces” in the area and then returned to Fairbanks.

By 5:15 p.m. they were back at Fort Wainwright, safe from the real hazards of rotor icing and pretend concerns about shoulder-fired missiles. The people of “Tenana” were safer and the soldiers had another training mission behind them.

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