Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Mooney M20C, N6546U: Incident occurred September 12, 2016 in Buffalo, Wright County, Minnesota


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Minneapolis FSDO-15


Date: 12-SEP-16
Time: 20:30:00Z
Regis#: N6546U
Aircraft Make: MOONEY
Aircraft Model: M20C
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Minor
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Minnesota

Record Glider Plane Flight Lands In Hot Springs, South Dakota

Rathbun with his Rolladen-Schneider LS3-a model glider after landing back in Utah from Hot Springs.  

A School of Mines graduate recently broke a Utah state glider plane distance record.  Steve Rathbun  flew a glider, or sailplane from a location near Salt Lake City to Hot Springs South Dakota.   Sail planes have no engine. Rather, glider pilots use thermals or uplifting currents created by mountains, deserts and even towns to soar through the sky.

Steve Rathbun says it takes a lot to get a glider in the air. When taking off, a small engine airplane leads the glider into the sky, sort of like a tug boat pulling a steam ship out of a harbor. Rathbun says it’s once you’re in the air and flying, 18,000 feet above the ground, that the real skills comes in.

“You’re looking for all kinds of signs of lift and looking at the clouds and any other weather indicators to tell you what’s going on with the atmosphere and always trying to keep a plan A and a plan B, plan A if everything goes well and plan B if you don’t stay up,” says Rathbun.

Rathbun says that kind of multitasking takes years to form; flying glider planes isn’t something you learn overnight. For Rathbun, his training began early in life.

“And I was kind of a nerdy kid and I liked to build model airplanes and gliders and what not so it was always just part of my being and I would always bug my dad and say “Dad, I want flying lessons.” His response was always, well, yeah, flying’s expensive you better save your money son,” says Rathbun.

Rathbun started hang gliding when he was young and worked up to glider plane piloting. Since then, he’s spent 700 hours flying gliders. He says that each time he flies he tries climbing a little higher or going a little further in distance.

“Soaring kind of becomes a way of life, it’s something that you think about a lot and even during the winter months you’re always planning this kind of thing and dreaming of these opportunities so when it comes time to do it you’re prepared and you just do it and if you try and you fail and you don’t quite make it then you just try again next time,” says Rathbun.

Rathbun says he was inspired to be a pilot by his late father, Grove Rathbun, a skilled aviator and Air National Guard fighter pilot from South Dakota. Grove is set to be inducted into the South Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame this fall.

Read more about glider aviation and upcoming projects.

Story, audio and photo gallery:

Aviation Showcase to be held at Technical College of Lowcountry

BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) -  The Technical College of the Lowcountry is trying to prepare its students for a very specialized workforce.

The aviation program started four years ago, and has already graduated 142 students. The program is looking to bridge the gap between the work force and our armed forces.

The aviation lab allows students, most of whom have previous backgrounds in the armed forces, learn hands-on how to repair jet engines and maintain a plane. The course prepares students for the FAA airframes and power plants license. It's aimed at transitioning military mechanics from the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort and Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah.

"The applications go beyond aircraft production. These will translate into civilian aviation. We have several airports around here, but some of the programs we're developing here with structure and composites have application in the maritime industry as well as the automotive industry," said Sean Henrickson, Director of Veterans Education, Technical College of the Lowcountry.

If you want to see what the students are learning first-hand, there is a showcase Thursday on campus at 5 p.m. Ten students will actually apply the skills they've learned for the crowd. It's free and open to the public.

Click here for more information.

Story and video:

Boeing Considers Ending Production of 747: Plane maker plans to make just six of the aircraft a year starting in September

The Wall Street Journal
Updated July 27, 2016 3:27 p.m. ET

The world’s most recognizable airplane is coming in for a landing.

Boeing Co. said in a regulatory filing Wednesday that it might stop production of the 747, ending nearly a half-century of building the plane that became the aircraft of choice for the U.S. president and other heads of state.

The prospect of ending 747 production after years of weak sales would close a chapter of Boeing’s history that began when the humped jetliner won its first orders from Pan American World Airways five decades ago.

Boeing has delivered more than 1,500 of the jets since 1970, when the company introduced the plane.

Aviation historians credit the plane with making global air travel more affordable for most people. The huge number of seats, sometimes nearly 600 on some airlines, spread the costs across the large group of paying passengers.

The 747 has weathered industry downturns over the decades, including when Boeing nearly went out of business in the 1970s. The company’s last 747 production boom occurred in the 1990s. Peak output came early in the program, when the company delivered 92 of the jets in 1970. But the jet has been a constant for the plane maker and was a hallmark of the U.S.’s Cold War industrial prowess.

Boeing now plans to make just six of the planes a year, starting in September as it addresses a current backlog for 21 of the jets. Two are expected to serve the U.S. president beginning in 2023 after years of modifications, and will be known as Air Force One when the president is aboard, but haven’t been formally ordered yet by the Defense Department. A pair of older 747s in their distinctive white, blue and polished aluminum have been flying the U.S. presidents since 1990.

Demand has weakened for 747 air-cargo freighters and passenger planes. Freighter orders have experienced a sharp slowdown since the 2008 global financial crisis, with more goods traveling by sea or in the bellies of passenger aircraft. In its passenger-carrying form, the 747 has faltered as airlines turn to smaller twin-engine jets. Rival Airbus Group SE is slashing production of its own even-larger double-deck jumbo in 2018.

New jets still roll off Boeing’s assembly line in Everett, Wash., as the company’s 747-8, and are expected to fly for decades. But last week, Boeing announced a $1.2 billion charge on the program and curtailed plans to raise 747 output back to one jet a month in 2019.

It has been a bumpy first year on the job for Boeing’s new chief executive, Dennis Muilenburg. Shares have fallen 4.6% since he took over the top spot in July 2015. A decision about the jumbo jet’s future will likely fall to Mr. Muilenburg, who was just 2 years old when Boeing started taking orders for the plane.

Mr. Muilenburg said the charge reduces Boeing’s future financial risks related to the 747, which hasn’t contributed positively to the company’s earnings for years. Boeing says 2019 could bring a wave of retirements of older jets that could be replaced by factory-fresh 747s.

Yet, the company cautioned in its regulatory filing: “If we are unable to obtain sufficient is reasonably possible that we could decide to end production of the 747.”

Boeing on Wednesday posted its first quarterly loss in nearly seven years, from a total of $3 billion of charges, including for the 747.

The other charges stem from delays to Boeing’s advanced 787 Dreamliner and the company’s new aerial-refueling tanker. They were largely expected, but underscore the challenges still facing crucial Boeing projects.

The Dreamliner program has been the most costly for Boeing over the years, with the company forced to spend tens of billions of dollars more than first expected. The latest bill for production totaled $27.7 billion.

The company said it would begin to make money on each 787 delivery by the end of the year but only after having built about 500 of the aircraft since 2011, or roughly 40% of its orders.

Boeing posted a loss of $234 million, or 37 cents a share, compared with a profit of $1.1 billion, or $1.59 a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 1% to $24.8 billion.

However some metrics managed to beat analyst expectations. Adjusted core earnings loss, which excludes certain pension expenses and is closely watched by investors, came in better than expected. Shares in Boeing rose $1.11 to $135.96 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company revised its annual earnings-per-share guidance to a range of $6.40 to $6.60 a share, from a range of $8.45 to $8.65 a share. It left its closely watched cash-flow guidance unchanged at roughly $10 billion.

As older development programs continue to weigh on its finances, Boeing’s aerial tanker, its biggest defense program, pushed more than 40% past its original budget.

Boeing added $243 million to its development bill in the first quarter in an effort to keep the program on schedule, only to add $573 million more from new delays with its most recent charge. The company said in May that first deliveries to the U.S. Air Force were stalled by five months because of design and production issues.

Boeing last week completed early aerial trials refueling aircraft from the Air Force, Navy and Marines, clearing the way for a purchase decision in August by the Defense Department. The company still faces a battery of tests to complete the tanker over the next year.

Original article can be found here:

A close up view

AirEvac landed two of of the fleet of air ambulances at Bracken County High School today so local officials and residents could get a closer look at how the units are set up for emergency care flights.

One member of the AirEvac flight crew (left) answered questions from Bracken County residents, including fiscal court members, Scotty Lippert, Tina Teegarden and David Kelsch during an informational stop in Bracken County on Wednesday.

Tina Teegarden enjoyed a chance to sit in the pilots seat of one of the AirEvac air ambulances which was on display at Bracken County High School on Wednesday morning.

BROOKSVILLE – Bracken County officials were treated to a close-up view of two Air Evac medical helicopters on Wednesday.

Following the regular Bracken County Fiscal Court meeting, Magistrates Scotty Lippert, David Hughes and David Kelsch, along with Bracken County Fiscal Court Clerk Tina Teegarden, Bracken County School officials and others viewed the landing of two of the Air Evac fleet on the parking lot behind Bracken County High School.

Brooksville Volunteer Fire Department set up the landing zone.

Viewers were also offered a chance to have a photo taken in the pilot seat.

“My daughter doesn’t know I am doing this; she is going to think I am such a cool mom,” Teegarden said. “It is really great the county is doing this.”

Bracken County has agreed to pay just under $30,000 a year, on a yearly basis, for Bracken County residents covered by insurance to use their services with no balance billing after the patients insurance pays a portion of a flight bill.

Non-insured residents will have access to the same service for $35 a year or possibly be liable for an entire flight bill, which could top $30,000, AirEvac officials said.

The service offer is for incidents within Bracken and Mason counties which require air ambulance service to the nearest trauma center, weather permitting and if an AirEvac air ambulance is available. It covers any family member under roof in the household more than 50 percent of the year, officials said.

Residents should be receiving temporary service cards in the mail, said Air Evac officials, with instructions on what to do to list household members and get them vehicle and house stickers, and pocket cards for all eligible family members.

Information and public sign-up sessions will be held as soon as possible at the Watson Building on alternating Fridays, at the Bracken County Judge-Executive’s office, and other public events, officials said.

AirEvac operates out of several area communities, including Georgetown, Ohio, and Grant County.


Incident occurred July 27, 2016 at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (KBJC), Broomfield County, Colorado

BROOMFIELD, Colo. (CBS4)– A hot air balloon made an emergency landing at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport on Wednesday morning after it ran out of fuel.

Emergency responders from North Metro Fire rushed to the airport in Broomfield just after 8 a.m.

The balloon was forced to make an unplanned landing in grass near one of its three runways after winds shifted.

The landing did not impact airport operations although one runway was temporarily closed while crews removed the balloon from the airport.

There were 13 people on board who spilled out of the basket. No one was injured.


Robinson R44 II, Helicopter Charter Service do Brasil Taxi Aereo, PR-TUN: Fatal accident occurred December 04, 2016 in Sao Lourenco da Serra, Brazil

NTSB Identification: ERA17WA081
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Sunday, December 04, 2016 in Sao Lourenco da Serra, Brazil
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44 II, registration:
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On December 4, 2016, about 1800 universal coordinated time, a Robinson R44-II, Brazilian registration PR-TUN, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near Sao Lourenco, Sao Paulo, Brazil. The pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The flight was conducted under Brazilian flight regulations, and was on approach to the intended landing site, Recanto Beija-Flor Resort, when the accident occurred.

This investigation is under jurisdiction of the Government of Brazil. Any further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:

Aeronautical Accident Prevention and Investigation Center
Investigation Division
Av. Braz Leme, nº 3258
Santana - São Paulo/ SP
CEP: 02022-901
Telephone: (55-11) 2221-5636 / (55-11) 94100-3330
Fax: (55-11) 2221-5637

This report is for informational purposes, and contains only information released by the Government of Brazil.

A noiva que morreu no acidente em São Lourenço da Serra, na Grande São Paulo, na tarde deste domingo (4), tinha o sonho de chegar ao seu casamento de helicóptero, segundo o dono do buffet e responsável pela organização da festa, Carlos Eduardo Batista. O noivo a aguardava no altar quando soube do acidente com o helicóptero que deixou a sua futura mulher, o irmão dela, a fotógrafa do casamento, que estava grávida, e o piloto, mortos.

Segundo informações da delegacia de Itapecerica da Serra, que apurou o caso, morreram no acidente:

Peterson Pinheiro (piloto)
Rosemeire Nascimento Silva (noiva)
Silvano Nascimento da Silva (irmão da noiva)
Nayla Cristina Neves Lousada (fotógrafa)

A cerimônia e a festa de casamento de Rosemeire e Udirley aconteceriam às 16h no Recanto Beija-Flor, espaço para festas de casamentos na cidade da Grande São Paulo, mesmo horário da queda da aeronave.

“O noivo não sabia que ela chegaria de helicóptero. Seria uma surpresa para ele e para todas as pessoas da festa. Todas as noivas tem um sonho e o dela era chegar de helicóptero a seu casamento sem que ninguém soubesse”, disse Carlos, um dos poucos que sabia da surpresa para poder organizá-la.

O dono do buffet afirmou que estranhou quando o helicóptero não pousou no campo de futebol do sítio e procurou a empresa responsável pela aeronave.

“O dono disse que o helicóptero já tinha subido e que já deveria ter chegado”. “Pouco depois, ele mesmo me disse que uma aeronave tinha caído, mas que não imaginava que seria a sua própria”, completou.

Na sequência, Carlos procurou autoridades, como Bombeiros e Polícia Civil e apenas informou ao noivo e aos convidados que a noiva não conseguiria chegar de helicóptero como havia planejado por causa do mau tempo. Outras noivas já haviam planejado chegar de helicóptero à festa no Recanto Beija-Flor e tiveram que terminar o percurso de táxi, por exemplo, segundo Carlos.

Quando recebeu a confirmação da queda e das mortes, Carlos comunicou primeiramente o noivo. “Chamei o pastor que estava na cerimônia e ele foi comigo comunicar para tentar acalantar o noivo. Ele ficou em estado de choque. Depois, os demais convidados [cerca de 300] souberam e ninguém sabia como agir. Foi uma tragédia”. Alguns familiares e convidados permaneceram no local da festa e outros foram embora.

O helicóptero que caiu é do modelo Robinson 44, matrícula PRTUN, segundo a Aeronáutica. De acordo com o órgão, uma equipe do Seripa IV (Quarto Serviço Regional de Investigação e Prevenção de Acidentes Aeronáuticos) está indo para o local para começar as investigações do acidente.

A Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (Anac) informou, por meio de sua assessoria de imprensa, que a aeronave estava com inspeção válida até 16 de dezembro, que o certificado de aeronavegabilidade estava normalizado e que poderia voar até dia 1º de fevereiro de 2017 e que a capacidade era de 3 pessoas, sem contar o piloto.

De acordo com Carlos, o helicóptero saiu de um hangar em Osasco e caiu a cerca de 2km do local da festa.

A queda ocorreu na Estrada da Barrinha e oito carros dos bombeiros foram para o local. A aeronave caiu em uma região de mata fechada, próxima à Rodovia Régis Bittencourt. Por volta das 18h, quando o Globocop sobrevoava a área, havia neblina e chuva.

O caso será investigado pela Aeronáutica e pela delegacia de São Lourenço da Serra.

3 kilos of cocaine found on JetBlue planes months after flight attendant caught smuggling: Lake City, Columbia County, Florida

Several kilos of cocaine were found on two JetBlue planes that were brought to Lake City for maintenance last week. Columbia County Sheriff's Office

Airplane maintenance workers found some unexpected cargo onboard two JetBlue planes in Lake City -- 3 kilos of cocaine.

Columbia County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Murray Smith said those workers found 1 kilo of cocaine in a JetBlue plane on July 20 and then found two more kilos on another plane on July 24.

Both times, the workers told the sheriff’s office they found the bricks inside a compartment under the right wing, in the wall of the luggage compartment.

“Someone lost 3 kilos of powder cocaine, which is a street value of about $180,000. So someone’s either going to get fired or maybe lose a limb or something,” said Smith.

The first plane had most recently flown from the Dominican Republic to JFK in New York City.

JetBlue planes get taken out of service every three months and fly to HAECO for routine maintenance.

“When the planes come here, they are basically checked from top to bottom. Every system is checked. Every panel is removed,” said Smith.

The Drug Enforcement Agency’s Jacksonville office spokesman said drug suppliers abroad sometimes pay airport workers or baggage handlers to smuggle it into a compartment.

At foreign airports, those workers are not always airline employees.

“So there may be someone off the street that doesn’t have the background checks that a normal U.S. company would have. So those people have their hands on the aircraft. So you’re talking about a large pool of suspects,” said Smith.

Smith said it’s likely whoever was supposed to receive those drugs missed the shipment before the plane flew to Lake City for maintenance.

Smith said it’s rare to find powder cocaine in Columbia County. The most common drugs there are synthetic opiates and meth.

All those indicators are telling us someone lost their drugs. They weren’t supposed to end up in Lake City, Florida,” said Smith.

It’s not the first time this year JetBlue has had a run-in with cocaine smuggling.

Earlier this year, investigators said a JetBlue flight attendant left 68 pounds of cocaine at a LAX security checkpoint, kicked off her Gucci heels like Cinderella, and ran from TSA agents.

She’s accused of smuggling about 60 pounds more cocaine than what the maintenance workers in Lake City found in the past week.

Smith said JetBlue is fully cooperating with the investigation.

It’s one of at least four airlines that fly their planes in for service at HAECO’s Lake City hangar.


Several kilos of cocaine were found on two JetBlue planes as they were being serviced in Lake City, deputies said.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office said the three kilos of cocaine were found when the passenger planes were brought to a Lake City servicing company.

The drugs were discovered on two separate JetBlue A320 planes over a span of five days. The drugs were located in the same place on both planes, deputies said.

Authorities did not release in what part of the plane the drugs were placed.

Investigators said one of the planes had flown 360 times in the past three months, with various international and domestic destinations. The most recent trip had been from the Dominican Republic to John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York.

The other plane’s itinerary was not released.

Authorities said JetBlue has fully cooperated in the investigation and provided information on its procedures and schedules.


Cessna 150L, N18228 INC, N18228: Accident occurred July 27, 2016 near Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport (KJGG), James City County, Virginia

N18228 INC:

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Richmond FSDO-21

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA396
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, July 27, 2016 in Williamsburg, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/12/2016
Aircraft: CESSNA 150, registration: N18228
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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 solo student pilot reported that during a day visual meteorological condition flight, in the landing flare he saw a deer where he intended to touch down. He further reported that he banked to the right and applied power to go-around, but during the turn to the right he was unable to clear a line of trees in his flight path. The student pilot reported that the landing gear "scraped" one line of trees, and in order to avoid a thicker line of trees ahead, he forced the airplane down into a marsh area.

The fuselage and both wings sustained substantial damage. 

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

During a postaccident interview with an airport representative, he reported that the airport does not a have a perimeter fence.

The Federal Aviation Administration Chart Supplement airport page for the accident airport in part states: "Deer and birds on and invof [in the vicinity of] arpt."

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
An evasive maneuver during the landing flare to avoid deer on the runway, which resulted in a collision with trees and terrain during a go-around. Contributing to the accident was the lack of an airport perimeter fence.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — A Williamsburg pilot walked off with hardly a scratch after crashing his small plane on Wednesday afternoon.

State police report that Michal Marcin Drygala was flying alone on his Cessna 150 when he attempted to land at the Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport around 2:30 p.m.

A deer reportedly ran on the runway, causing him to lose control of the single-engine plane.

“He pulled up to miss the deer, he was able to get airborne again and apparently did not have power to keep in the air, then he went into the woods,” said Charley Rodgers, an airport employee.

Only Chopper 10 captured video of the wreckage in a nearby marsh.

Rodgers used his radio to call for help. State police and James City County first-responders rushed to the scene.

Drygala was evaluated by medics and taken back to the airport by fire crews.

“He has some minor scratches and bruises,” Rodgers said.

The crash is reportedly the third at the airport in the last nine weeks.

“At this airport [crashes are] fairly rare,” Rodgers said. “This is the third one we’ve had this year, but we had not had one in many, many years prior to this year.”

In the other cases, those on board also survived.

10 On Your Side reached Drygala by phone on Wednesday, but he did not want to speak on camera.

Story and video:

JAMES CITY- A pilot walked away with a few scratches after crash landing his plane into a swamp near the Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport. 

The pilot was trying to land when a deer ran onto the runway this afternoon, said Charley Rogers, the manager on duty at the airport.

The pilot pulled up to avoid hitting the deer, but he did not gain enough power to stay in the air. 

The plane crashed into a swamp about 600 feet past the runway.

The pilot was the only person in the plane. 

Several fire, police and medical personnel responded to the crash, but the pilot only had minor scratches and bruises, and he did not go to the hospital. 

This is the third plane crash at the airport in 9 weeks, Rogers said.

According to Rogers, before a plane crashed 9 weeks ago, the airport had not had a crash since 2013. 


Taking to the air again — in a classic

Craig Davidson shares his love of aviation and his 1943 Stearman biplane. Davidson is planning to fly the plane to the Experimental Aircraft Association's Oshkosh Air Show on Wednesday.

DANVILLE — During his 24 years as an American Airlines pilot, Craig Davidson flew to numerous destinations throughout the Western Hemisphere.

But his most memorable adventure came earlier this month, when he and a friend made a four-day, 1,840-mile journey from Spokane, Wash., back home to Danville in his newly-acquired World War II-era Stearman biplane.

"It was just a wonderful experience," said Davidson, who is now training to fly formation with other Stearman pilots to "share my love for aviation with other people."

Davidson, who turns 61 on Saturday, traces his fascination with flying back to when he was 5, and he accompanied his mother to the airport in his hometown of Ottumwa, Iowa. While waiting for his father to fly in from a business trip, he saw an Ozark DC-3 taxi down the runway and take off.

"You could see the blue flame from the exhaust, hear the engine, smell the aviation gas," said Davidson, who still loves that smell.

"It set the hook for the rest of my life."

Mom: Get a job

After graduating from Urbana High School, Davidson enrolled in the University of Illinois Institute of Aviation, where he earned his airplane mechanic's certificate, private pilot's license and various other ratings.

His dream job: Commercial airline pilot.

"We were told in school it was just impossible to get in and that you needed thousands of hours of flying time and three lunar landings," Davidson joked of the highly-competitive field. He added hopefuls needed to land a job at a major airline by age 29 to make it worth the company's investment in them.

Undeterred, he got a string of short-term jobs as a flight instructor, freight service pilot and charter service pilot. One, flying freight from Memphis to Columbus, was his only 9-to-5 job.

"I was flying from 9 at night to 5 in the morning," he said with a laugh.

His mother, Lou Davidson, didn't laugh when the small company folded and her son, then 27, lost his job and moved back home.

"She said, 'All of your friends from college have jobs. They have families. They have futures. You need to get out of aviation,'" he recalled. "I basically told her that I couldn't give up. I have to keep shooting for that brass ring."

Then, through friends, Davidson got a job flying commuters for Air Virginia. Two years later, he got hired by American Airlines.

"I had just made it," he said, pointing out he was 29.

During his career, he was based in New York, Washington, D.C., Raleigh, N.C. and Chicago. By choice, he made mainly domestic trips as well as treks to Canada, Mexico, South and Central America and the Caribbean islands.

When Davidson flew out of O'Hare International Airport, he and his wife — Nancy, then a physical therapist for Christie Clinic — lived in Mahomet. In 2001, the couple — who race stand-up jet skis and compete in Aquabike events (triathlons without the running) — moved to Danville, partly to train for their sports in Lake Vermilion.

Flying high again

Having lost his father and other male relatives when they were young, Davidson chose to take early retirement in 2008. Then the stock market crashed, and he was grounded for two years.

Davidson was forced to reinvent himself.

"I had always restored cars," he said, adding that started out of necessity. Then he started restoring Corvettes, including a 1963 split-window coupe.

"By the grace of God, these projects, one after another, kept dropping in my lap," he said, adding one of his clients was Butch Schroeder, a friend and fellow pilot and the owner of two beautifully-restored vintage planes — a North American P-51 Mustang and T-6 Texan.

One day, "I was working on one of his cars. He said, 'Isn't it time you got back into the air?'" recalled Davidson, who said the retired business owner took him for a ride in the military training plane later that day.

"Once I went up, I realized how much I was missing," said Davidson, who credits Schroeder for getting him back into flying.

The two worked out an arrangement, in which Davidson works on Schroeder's cars and, in exchange, can fly the vintage airplanes. Davidson also sold his '63 coupe and used some of the money to attend Stallion 51, which trains pilots to fly Mustangs.

Two years ago through his work on Schroeder's Corvettes, Davidson met David Burroughs, a UI Institute of Aviation alum and Stearman pilot and instructor. Burroughs invited him to a Stearman clinic to learn the art of formation flying.

"I like the precision of this group and how they fly their airplane. It's not just, 'Let's go up and see what happens,'" he said of the maneuvers. "It's very choreographed from engine start to engine shutdown. Everyone has to know what the other guy or gal is doing to do before he or she does it because you're so close together. They're very dedicated and professional."

Davidson, who had fallen in love with the aircraft's rich history, began scouring the country for his own. He finally found one — painted bright yellow with red stripes — in the Pacific Northwest.

Built in 1943, the open-air dual cockpit plane served as a primary trainer for young pilots at the Bunker Hill Naval Air Station, now Grissom Air Reserve Base, north of Kokomo, Ind., during World War II. After the war, it became a crop duster.

 "It had a pretty hard life," Davidson said, adding the previous owner, James Love, had it restored and flew it with a formation group in Spokane.

"It's probably one of the finest Stearmans in the country," he continued. He added the husband-and-wife team of Addison and Wendy Pemberton, "the top in their field," spent more than 4,000 hours on the restoration.

Next stop: Oshkosh

On July 5, Davidson and co-pilot John Rettick, of Bloomington — a retired Marines fighter pilot, who test-flies FedEx planes after heavy maintenance and is a Stearman instructor — started the journey to bring her to her new home. They could only take their parachutes, some survival equipment and a few other items they could stow in the pockets of their flight suits.

With the exception of the first day when they flew only a short distance, they set off at daybreak — when the air is the coolest, allowing the airplane to get better lift — and flew a total of eight hours stopping every 2 hours to refuel.

"We flew hard every day," Rettick recalled, adding the two looked out for each other, making sure they didn't get dehydrated or fatigued.

The most challenging leg was flying through the northern part of the Rocky Mountains.

"The highest we could fly was about 7,700 feet," said Davidson, who recalled having to fly over a 6,500-foot pass and could see taller peaks in the distance. "You don't climb a Stearman. You coax it."

Low clouds prevented them from flying over Mullen Pass in the Bitterroot Range. Instead, they followed the Clark Fork River and headed northeast to Sandpoint, Idaho — a route they knew of through a fellow pilot.

"When we finally got out of the mountains into western Nebraska, we were in an area called the Sand Hills," Davidson recalled. "There were no roads and no people for as far as you could see. It was this magical place. I wish I could describe how peaceful it was. It was just you, a good friend and good plane. It really clears the mind."

They landed at the Vermilion Regional Airport on July 9. To Davidson's surprise, his wife arranged a welcome-home reception with 20 to 30 people, including his 84-year-old mom.

"I asked her if she wanted to go for a ride. She didn't hesitate for a second," Davidson recalled with a smile.

Davidson said he's looking forward to flying a friend and celebrating his birthday at the annual air show and convention in Oshkosh, Wis., which runs through Sunday. He will return to Oshkosh over the Labor Day weekend to participate in another Stearman clinic — a birthday gift from his wife.

After that, he may be ready to fly with the Stearman group.

"I'm certainly not God's gift to aviation, but God has certainly given me the gift of aviation," he said, reflecting on his 43 years in the sky and his latest endeavor. "And without my friends — my wife being my best friend — none of this would have happened."

Story and video:

Never Quit: Pilot returns after amputation

Christy Wise, 71st Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II pilot, completed her first mission last week since returning to flying status after having her right leg amputated.

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE – Moody Air Force Base and the Valdosta community have a new heroine.

Capt. Christy Wise, 71st Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II pilot, completed her first mission last week since returning to flying status after a right leg amputation. Wise is the first female and sixth overall Air Force pilot to fly after an amputation.

In April 2015, Wise was injured during a boating accident. The incident led to her amputation, but just 15 months later, she returned to the air.

“It felt great,” Wise said of her return to flight. “I think I was excited for like two to five seconds and then after that I went back into work mode … It’s awesome. It’s actually been an exhausting week. Props to all my instructors and evaluators. They wanted to make sure I was ready for this so they had me in a simulator every single day this week.”

The training mission was a flight to Savannah. When Wise landed at Moody, she was greeted by a myriad group of friends and family. She said she’s spoken with the other five pilots who continued flying after an amputation, and she considers each an inspiration.

“I just want to thank my mentors,” Wise said. “… The other five amputees have been in touch with me. They’re the reason I’m here as quickly as I am. They gave me advice and told me what to do.”

Wise said even in the ambulance when she couldn’t feel her leg, she believed that she could still make it back to flying if a “worst-case scenario” unfolded. She said she never considered quitting.

“Having (Wise) as part of our rescue group and the bigger 23rd Wing is amazing,” Col. Thomas Dorl said. “She’s an inspiration to all of us here. Her determination, her tenacity and her passion to get back on active duty is something inspiring to all of us here … It’s very impressive.”

Dorl said Wise “thrived in adversity” and her determination to return uplifted her peers.

“She can inspire folks by whatever she does everyday,” he said. “People can look at her and say, ‘if she can do it, I can do it’ and that’s very contagious around the squadron and the community.”

Wise has a message for everyone: “You can do anything. It’s a lot of hard work and I still have hard days, but it’s possible.”


Aviation Experts Urge Caution on Releasing Self-Driving Cars: Dangers cited in rushing new technologies to market without proper training

A crew loads the wreckage of Asiana Flight 214 on to a truck at San Francisco International Airport in 2013. The crash later was blamed in part on an undue reliance on the jetliner’s automated systems.

The Wall Street Journal
By Daniel Michaels and Andy Pasztor
July 27, 2016 5:30 a.m. ET

Aviation-safety experts have advice for the car industry as it moves to autonomous-driving vehicles: Proceed slowly and make sure drivers realize the limits of the technology.

As airline pilots became increasingly reliant on automation over the years, the focus shifted to simplified cockpit displays and enhanced crew training.

Many high-end cars now offer sophisticated cruise-control and collision-avoidance systems that can maneuver in traffic and on highways without driver commands. From automatic braking to steering assist, manufacturers rely on them as marketing tools.

But several accidents involving Tesla Motors Inc. cars with such technology, including a fatal accident in Florida, have federal highway-safety regulators investigating the company’s onboard automation. Some aviation safety experts warn that existing automotive controls shouldn’t be considered mature autopilot systems.

“It’s quite ridiculous we would give somebody such a complex vehicle without training,” said former commercial pilot Shawn Pruchnicki, who teaches air safety at Ohio State University. It is a mistake, he added, “to assume that the general public is going to be able to jump in and understand what [the] limitations are.”

Early autopilots originated in airplanes around World War I, but it wasn’t until 1947 that a U.S. Air Force plane made the first trans-Atlantic flight using hands-off flying controls. Such features evolved and only became widespread gradually, allowing individual elements to be rigorously tested and verified before plane makers integrated them into complex flight-management systems.

Today, jumbo jets and supersonic fighters rely on a web of computerized equipment and software to get airborne, cruise and even land with little or no human input.

A key lesson from aviation is that reducing risks takes time.

“We have to create perfection in the collision-avoidance systems before we have the car drive itself,” said Mark Rosenker, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board who dealt with safety issues affecting roads, rails and aircraft. So far, “there are nuances to these technologies that we have not yet perfected,” he noted, such as the difference between avoiding a car in front and detecting when a driver is veering off the road.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has rejected calls to disable his company’s autopilot function, which steers cars more actively than those installed in other brands. But he has embraced one of the lessons from aviation: the importance of training users how to interact with complicated automation. Tesla has vowed to step up efforts to educate customers about the way its autopilots work.

The push toward self-driving vehicles has a long way to go to match advances in commercial planes. In theory, many jetliners can fly autonomously, except for taxiing to the gate and shutting off the engines.

Some computerized safeguards are designed to kick in automatically during particularly dangerous types of emergencies, including engine failure during takeoff.

Airplane automation can also be calibrated to different levels, based on crews’ preference. That is supposed to keeps pilots more aware and engaged. Airlines also require at least two pilots in cockpits, and the one not manipulating the controls is trained to monitor the automated systems.

But psychologists and automation experts say people tend to be poor monitors, whether they are behind the steering wheel or flying in an aluminum tube miles above the Earth. So airliners have extensive visual and aural warnings in case something goes wrong.

For cars, it is essential to develop auto-drive systems sophisticated enough to recognize when a vehicle is swerving between lanes or performing other dangerous maneuvers, according to Martin Chalk, an Airbus A380 pilot and president of the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations.

More important, according to Mr. Chalk, full-blown automation must be able to intercede to enforce highway rules and keep track of speed limits.

Automotive systems, however, need to avoid inundating operators with nonessential data, according to Yannick Malinge, product safety chief for Airbus Group SE : “A key point is to give information to the driver that he or she needs to have, not what simply would be nice to have.”

Mr. Malinge emphasized that Airbus has devised its flight-management computers so that during each phase of flight, they prominently display just the most relevant information. The system knows “what information you will need under various circumstances, and what isn’t essential” to show pilots.

To be sure, aviation has suffered from pilots relying unduly on cockpit automation. High-profile accidents include an Air France Airbus A330 that crashed into the Atlantic in 2009 after pilots were confused by automated warnings. A perfectly functioning Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 that slammed down short of a San Francisco runway in clear weather four years later because the crew failed to monitor airspeed.

Drivers, of course, can’t depend on simulators or co-pilot for help. But Tesla advises drivers to stay alert and keep their hands on the wheel in case they need to take over unexpectedly.

Original article can be found here:

Cessna 188A AGwagon, N9979G: Accident occurred July 25, 2016 in What Cheer, Keokuk County, Iowa

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Des Moines FSDO-61

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA393
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, July 25, 2016 in What Cheer, IA
Aircraft: CESSNA 188, registration: N9979G

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: 25-JUL-16
Time: 22:00:00Z
Regis#: N9979G
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 188
Event Type: Accident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Substantial
Activity: Aerial Application
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Iowa


Experimental CubCrafters CC11-160, Cub Crafters Inc., N328Y: Incident occurred July 26, 2016 in Missoula, Montana


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Helena FSDO-05

Date: 26-JUL-16
Time: 23:14:00Z
Regis#: N328Y
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Minor
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Montana


Cessna 172N Skyhawk, N9492E: Incident occurred July 25, 2016 in Creston, Union County, Iowa

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Des Moines FSDO-61

Date: 25-JUL-16
Time: 13:27:00Z
Regis#: N9492E
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Minor
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Iowa


Piper PA-23-250, Rock N Robins Flying Service LLC, N779MR: Accident occurred July 24, 2016 in Hyannis, Barnstable, Massachusetts


NTSB Identification: GAA16CA389
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, July 24, 2016 in Hyannis, MA
Aircraft: PIPER PA23, registration: N779MR

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.