Saturday, October 1, 2016

4 airlines to make proposals at Boone County Airport

Boone County Airport manager Judy McCutcheon said four airline companies are now scheduled to make proposals to offer essential air service (EAS) from the airport.

The airport has been without a federally subsidized EAS provider since SeaPort Airlines filed for Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy Sept. 27.

The  U.S. Department of Transportation sent out requests for proposals from airlines interested in the subsidized EAS program at Harrison, El Dorado/Camden and Hot Springs in Arkansas, as well as Pendleton, Oregon, and requested proposals be expedited due to the “emergency nature” of SeaPort’s closing.

The first airline to make a proposal will be Boutique Air, which offers round trip flights to Dallas and Atlanta, at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4, at the airport.

Silver Airways, offering flights to Dallas in a 34-seat aircraft, will make its presentation at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, at the airport. McCutcheon said the larger aircraft would require the airport to obtain special certification — a minimum six-month process — and have the Transportation Security Administration on property again.

Southern Air, offering flights to Memphis and Kansas City, will make its presentation at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11, at the airport.

Air Choice One is the fourth airline currently scheduled for a presentation. It offers flights to St. Louis and officials will be presenting at the airport at 12 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18.

The DOT instructed interested carriers to submit proposals no later than Oct. 12. They were told to prepare proposals with the expectation that it would be their final and only proposals.

McCutcheon said Friday that two other airlines had shown interest, but have not scheduled dates for a presentation. 


Sioux Falls Regional Airport worker arrested for terrorist threats

A man who works security at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport was arrested on Thursday for threatening to shoot employees at the airport.

Connor Raysby Park, 22, was charged with making a terrorist threat, police spokesman Sam Clemens said. Park is employed by a private security company that is contracted by the Transportation Security Administration at the airport.

On Friday afternoon, Judge Sara Pokela set Park's bond at $50,000 cash-surety, with the conditions that he not have any contact with the airport or its employees. He is also not allowed to have contact with any weapons.

"In light of the current climate in our country ... a high bond is appropriate," Pokela said.

Police say Park told a fellow employee earlier this week that he wanted to shoot people at the airport, specifically, his superiors. Alarmed, the employee reported it to management, who called police.

Officers deemed the threat "credible" after they discovered that Park had access to two or three firearms, Clemens said. Park was arrested at his home in the 600 block of South Cliff Avenue at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

The state originally asked for a $100,000 cash-only bond for Park, saying that he had been depressed lately and had been "practicing" at a local gun range.

Park's lawyer, Grant Alvine, said that he had not been able to see the police report prior to Park's initial appearance, but said Park had been evaluated on a mental hold and was deemed not dangerous.

"He didn't act ... on any of this," Alvine said, referring to the threats.

When asked if he understood, Park said yes and asked, "Can I say one thing?" but was silenced by the judge.

Outside the courtroom, Alvine and members of Park's family declined to comment on the case.

While the threats were not actually carried out, Clemens said the other employee did the right thing by reporting it.

"We have to take (threats) seriously," Clemens said. "Reporting that to the police is the best way to stop it."

Contract officers undergo the same background checks as regular TSA employees, the organization confirmed.

"The Transportation Security Administration holds its employees and contractors to the highest ethical standards and does not tolerate illegal behavior," TSA spokesman Michael England said in an email. "TSA will work with law enforcement and our contractor to investigate these allegations thoroughly."

A statewide background check on Park revealed that he has no criminal record except for speeding infractions. He is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing within 15 days.


Skystar Kitfox, N157D: Accident occurred October 01, 2016 at Jennings Airport (3R7), Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Baton Rouge FSDO-03

NTSB Identification: CEN17LA001
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 01, 2016 in Jennings, LA
Aircraft: DRAKE KITFOX SPEEDSTER, registration: N157D
Injuries: 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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 1, 2016, at 1400 central daylight time, an experimental light sport, amateur-built Drake Kitfox Speedster, N157D, collided with the terrain following a loss of control after takeoff from the Jennings Airport (3R7), Jennings, Louisiana. The pilot received serious injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. The aircraft was registered to and operated by the private pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operated on a flight plan. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and the destination is unknown at this time.

According to KPLC, a plane crashed near the Stearman Fly-in event at Jennings Airport at around 4:00 pm Saturday afternoon 

They report that the event organizers say the pilot who crashed was not part of their event, but crashed near where the fly-in was being held.

No word on the pilot's current condition or what led to the crash. 

Jennings Police are currently working the scene along with FAA officials to determine the cause of the accident. 


JENNINGS, LA (KPLC) -  A plane crashes at Stearman Fly-In in Jennings Airport. 

Lisa Haag, organizer of the Stearman Fly-In which is going on at the same location, tells us the pilot who crashed was not part of their event.

Haag says a man was taken away by ambulance.

Jennings Airport officials tell KPLC they had 'no comment' on the incident.

No word on the pilot current condition or what led to the crash.


36th annual Stearman Fly-In

JENNINGS, LA (KPLC) -  The Fly-In will be held from September 28 to October 2 at the Jennings Airport. 

Veterans and families alike are able to see the WWII Stearman training aircraft and other planes up close.

Whether it brings back memories or makes new ones, this event is totally free and includes flyovers and a flying contest. 

Story and video:

Missoula's medical transport plane to be removed December 31st

Despite their lifesaving capabilities,  Life Flight Network, the company that administers air ambulance service in Missoula, will remove its plane from its base at the airport at year's end.

Patients who need to be taken to specialty care services at Level 1 trauma centers, such as those found in Seattle and Salt Lake City, likely will take the Life Flight plane stationed in Butte, chief customer officer Justin Dillingham said Friday.

Dillingham said after Life Flight Network’s purchase of Northwest MedStar, which had provided Missoula’s air ambulance services since 2014, became final in April, the company examined its resources and found crossover between the planes in Missoula and Butte.

“Most of what (Missoula’s) plane was doing was going down to areas around or south of where the Butte plane is,” Dillingham said, ticking off Dillon, Anaconda and Butte itself, as well as Salmon, Idaho, as places the plane collected patients to bring to Missoula. “There’s a few patients, not a lot, that have to be flown out of Missoula, but it’s very few.”

Dillingham did not respond to a request for the number of patient transfers Missoula’s plane conducts, or how often it took patients to trauma centers like Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center or Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

Missoula has had dedicated air ambulance since Providence St. Patrick Hospital started an in-house service in 1981. A plane has been stationed in Missoula since 1989.

Dillingham said when one of the Missoula hospitals needs to transfer a patient by plane, the hospital will alert the ground ambulance crew to help prepare a patient and take that person to the airport. At the same time, he said Life Flight’s plane in Butte will fly over to pick the patient up.

If that plane is unavailable, Dillingham said Life Flight also has a plane in Spokane and others stationed around the Northwest that could be brought in, or it could contact other providers in the state to have a plane standing by when the patient arrives at the airport.

“It’s almost as if there’s a plane right there because the patient notices almost no difference,” he said. “The folks in Missoula I don’t think will notice any difference whatsoever.”

Dec. 31 will be last service date for the Missoula plane, which Life Flight Network operates through a contract with Metro Aviation, which owns the plane and employs the pilots.

Dillingham said Life Flight Network will add a jet at its Aurora, Oregon, headquarters that can be dispatched to places like Missoula if a patient needs to be moved farther, such as to the East Coast.

Abby Berow, emergency department clinical coordinator at Community Medical Center, said she doesn’t think the removal of a Missoula medical transport plane will change the hospital’s ability to make sure patients can be moved quickly.

“I don’t think that for us it will have all that much impact,” Berow said. “It takes time for us to prepare a patient for transfer and get them to the airport. It’s a 20-minute flight from Butte and about 30 minutes from Spokane.”

Berow said not all of the hospital’s transfer patients, which include those with significant trauma, neurosurgery or nephrology needs, have to be moved by plane.

“They don’t always need to go to a tertiary location by air. Spokane and St. Patrick could be on the road or by helicopter,” she said.

Providence St. Patrick Hospital did not return a request for comment.

Todd Utz, trauma coordinator with St. James Healthcare in Butte, said he has been in touch with Life Flight Network about the change.

“They assured us that we will have a plane here when we need it,” he said. “They have really been great for us in Butte.”

While Life Flight and St. James do not have a contract for air ambulance services, Life Flight is the hospital's preferred company. Utz said that if a Life Flight plane is not available, the hospital also works with REACH Air Medical Services in Bozeman and Helena. Utz said the hospital also has used a plane stationed in Billings.

Level II trauma patients are usually moved by helicopter or ground ambulance, he said.

“The only thing we transfer out is our neuro patients and severe burns,” Utz said, adding the former are usually taken to Missoula or Billings, with burn patients taken to Salt Lake City.

Earlier this year, the Montana Legislature’s Economic Affairs Interim Committee created the Air Ambulance Working Group to look into the gap between the cost of services and the reimbursement rates from insurance companies, which left some patients with bills of tens of thousands of dollars.


Bellanca 7GCBC, N8922: Accident occurred October 01, 2016 at Fairbanks International Airport (PAFA), Alaska

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA001
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 01, 2016 in Fairbanks, AK
Aircraft: BELLANCA 7GCBC, registration: N8922

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.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Fairbanks FSDO-01


Date: 01-OCT-16
Time: 21:46:00Z
Regis#: N8922
Aircraft Make: CHAMPION
Aircraft Model: 7GCBC
Event Type: Accident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Substantial
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Alaska

FAIRBANKS—A small plane crashed while landing at Fairbanks International Airport this afternoon, but neither the pilot nor passenger was injured.

According to airport police Deputy Chief Aaron Danielson, the single-engine tail-dragger Citabria was landing on the gravel-covered ski strip when a gust of wind flipped it.

"He was about to touch down, the tail came over the head and it landed on its roof," Danielson said.

Airport police and fire crews helped right the aircraft and cleaned up a small amount of fuel that spilled. The ski strip was shut down for about two hours, but the commercial runways remained open, Danielson said.

Danielson credits the plane's slow speed and "good restraint gear" for the lack of injuries.

The plane was significantly damaged in the crash.


Piper PA-11, N4681M: Accident occurred September 19, 2016 in Grand Isle, Vermont

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Portland FSDO-65

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA495
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, September 19, 2016 in Grand Isle, VT
Aircraft: PIPER PA 11, registration: N4681M
Injuries: 2 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 of a tailwheel-equipped airplane reported that about 450 feet above the ground, he reduced the power to idle to simulate an engine failure and forced landing. The pilot further reported that he "pushed the nose over" and made a "left tear drop turn" to land on the opposite direction of the takeoff direction. When the pilot had about 15 to 20 degrees remaining in the turn, and was about 15 to 20 feet above the ground, he reported that he increased "back stick pressure" and the airplane entered an aerodynamic stall. Subsequently, the left wing dropped and the airplane impacted terrain in a nose low left wing down attitude.

The left wing and fuselage sustained substantial damage. 

The pilot reported no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The pilot reported in the National Transportation Safety Board Pilot/ Operator Aircraft Accident/ Incident Report that he misjudged the wind speed and did not realize he was completing the simulated training maneuver with a tailwind. The accident airport did not have an automated weather observing system or wind indicator. 

The crashed Piper PA-11 on the Savage Island runway 

The damaged plane after it was moved from the crash site to a barn on Savage Island.

The plane has been disassembled and placed in a barn on Savage Island until the owner can remove it. 

GRAND ISLE — The sheriff who mounted a large-scale emergency response to a plane crash on a Lake Champlain island said the air national guardsmen who did not immediately notify authorities should face consequences.

The accident occurred Sept. 19 around noon on Savage Island, according to Grand Isle Sheriff Ray Allen. However, the crash of the airman’s personal plane wasn’t reported to authorities until six hours later when another pilot, flying over the privately owned island, saw the crashed single-prop Piper PA-11, and radioed the flight tower at Burlington International Airport, Allen said.

Air traffic controllers called Vermont State Police, who called in Allen. Believing he was dealing with an active crash scene, Allen dispatched two boats and called on Milton’s volunteer fire department to join the marine response.

Allen requested assistance from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter out of Plattsburgh, New York, to help search the more than 200- acre island for the downed plane, but one of his deputies reached the scene in time to cancel that request.

The island’s caretaker, Wayne Fisher, told sheriffs that no one was injured and the pilot and his passenger were long gone, Allen said. Hours earlier, Fisher had ferried them back to Grand Isle, and drove them to the airport at Allenholm farm where their car was parked, the caretaker told Seven Days, which first reported the incident.

After an airplane accident that results in injury or “significant damage,” federal regulations require that the operator must “by the most expeditious means available, notify the nearest National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) office.”

It does not appear the two airmen involved did that, as the NTSB didn’t notify the Federal Aviation Administration workers at the Burlington airport.

“In my thinking, yeah, there ought to be some consequences,” Allen said. The response put his deputies and a group of volunteers at risk due to the lake’s low water level and because they left the island after dark, he said.

“If necessary agencies are informed ahead of time, we don’t have to treat this like it’s an active response situation,” Allen said.

Allen said failing to report an emergency happens frequently and is frustrating.

A few years ago, he said someone spotted light reflecting off the window of a car stuck in the ice on Lake Champlain. His department was called in, along with volunteers, who used specialized gear to trek out onto the ice, only to find the car was abandoned.

The car owner “was actually at home relaxing,” Allen said.

“If people are out there enjoying recreational activities, and something goes wrong, somebody else is going to see it and report it if they don’t,” Allen said, “It’s common sense.”

The FAA and NTSB are conducting a joint investigation of the accident. Scott Pratt, the FAA investigator handling the case, said depending on what his investigation finds, a suspension or revocation of the airmen’s private pilot license was possible.

The Piper PA-11 involved in the accident is registered to John Rahill. Rahill is a Lieutenant Colonel with the Vermont Air National Guard who flies F-16s and has deployed overseas a number of times, according to news reports unearthed by Seven Days.

VTANG spokesman Maj. Chris Gookin confirmed airmen were involved airmen, but declined to confirm the identity of the pilot or passenger, citing the ongoing investigation. Rahill did not return a call requesting comment.

George Moore, an aviation attorney who serves as an aviation legal expert for Plane & Pilot magazine, said the pilot should expect a letter from the FAA taking some type of action against their private pilot license.

“I think he’ll have to fight not to be suspended,” Moore said.

Moore noted that the standard for reporting an airplane accident with no injuries is “substantial damage,” and the pilot may argue on any appeal that he did believe that threshold was met.

However, a preliminary accident report on the FAA website lists the plane as “destroyed.” Moore said he believes there’s no doubt the NTSB should have been notified immediately. However, he said it’s understandable the pilot might not have felt any urgency to notify authorities.

““To be charitable, he might have thought ‘Why should I notify anyone?’” because there was no injuries, and the only people in the immediate area, the island’s caretaker, was aware of the situation.

“They’re not anticipating anyone getting all excited and notifying the FAA,” Moore added. “If you look at this from the pilot’s point of view it’s like ‘yeah I’ll take care of this later,’ I want to get back to my car.”

Moore said the FAA investigation may reveal that the pilot was not at fault for the accident or made efforts to minimize the damage. An investigation is underway.

Moore said it’s unlikely the incident will have any bearing on the pilot’s service as an airmen, noting that military pilots aren’t required to have civilian certifications.

If VTANG officials determine the airmen acted recklessly by not notifying authorities, they may ask them to undergo further training.

Being taken off flight duty is unlikely, Moore said.

During a brief interview, Maj. Gookin repeatedly referred to the situation as a “civilian matter,” and would not comment on whether disciplinary action was possible.

Pratt, the FAA investigator, said he didn’t know when the investigation will be completed.


National Guard Pilot Crashed Plane, Left Local Police in the Dark

An off-duty Vermont National Guard airman crashed a small private plane on a Lake Champlain island around noon Monday and left the scene with his passenger — another airman — apparently without calling police.

Local authorities found out about the badly damaged Piper PA-11 on Savage Island only after the pilot of another small plane noticed the wreckage six hours later while flying over the 207-acre island, according to Grand Isle County Sheriff Ray Allen.

That pilot radioed the tower at Burlington International Airport to report it. The tower staff contacted Vermont State Police, who in turn patched in Allen around 6 p.m.

Allen mobilized a massive response to what he thought was an active crash scene.

“There are lots of fire chiefs upset, myself included, along with other agencies, that this was an incident six hours old with no injuries — and nobody there,” Allen told Seven Days. 

Had local authorities been alerted when the incident happened, an unnecessary large-scale response could have been prevented, Allen added. “This was a substantial amount of money and time wasted,” he said.

Federal regulations require a pilot involved in an accident to “immediately, and by the most expeditious means available, notify the nearest National Transportation Safety Board office.” The NTSB had a preliminary crash report on its website Thursday, but a spokesman could not say when the agency was notified.

Allen told Seven Days he contacted the FAA, along with the Milton Fire Department, and had six or seven boats from various agencies respond to the call. He even asked U.S. Customs and Border Protection to deploy a helicopter from its Plattsburgh, N.Y., base. 

After Allen arrived at the scene and realized there was no emergency, he called off the helicopter. The island caretaker, Wayne Fisher, told Allen that the crash had happened around noon. Allen learned that Fisher had ferried the airmen off the island by boat and drove them to the Allenholm Airport, the small South Hero airstrip from which the duo had originally taken off. 

Allen said the low water level exposed unseen obstacles that made it treacherous for the first responders to navigate the lake at night.

“By the time all resources were back in and my last boat came off the water, it was close to 8:30 p.m.,” Allen said.

Fisher told Seven Days that he had been in the basement of the island’s main house, then came upstairs and saw the damaged plane. It was on the grassy airstrip that runs through the private island, which is owned by members of the Riehle family.

The airmen were already out of the plane when Fisher reached it, according to the caretaker. They told him they were uninjured and that there hadn’t been any mechanical issues. Fisher said the pilot claimed to have landed and then tried a complicated takeoff maneuver that failed, resulting in the crash. 

“They did make several calls. I don’t know to whom and the nature of the calls but they made several calls,” Fisher said. “They never asked me to call cops. And I didn’t feel like it was my responsibility; it wasn’t my accident. I didn’t have anything to do with it.”

Pictures of the scene show the tiny plane nose-down in the field with a broken wing. The FAA describes the two-seat aircraft, built in 1947, as “destroyed.” 

The plane is registered to John Rahill, a lieutenant colonel in the Vermont Air National Guard. He did not respond to a phone call requesting comment. In April, he told NECN about flying an F-16 over Fenway Park for the Red Sox home opener in Boston. And in October 2015, he talked to WCAX after returning from a four-month stint in the Pacific. The deployment was his eighth overseas since joining the Vermont Air National Guard 15 years prior, Rahill told the station at the time.

The Guard issued a statement Tuesday confirming the crash involved airmen and said no further information would be released because of the FAA investigation.

“We appreciate the concern from the community and are happy that neither of our airmen were injured and are currently back at work,” the statement said.

Because no serious injury occurred, the NTSB will rely on information from the FAA “and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report,” the board says on its website.

The FAA did not come out to the scene, Fisher told Seven Days, but interviewed him by phone.


SAVAGE ISLAND, Vermont  --   Grand Isle County Sheriff Ray Allen says he is waiting for a Federal Aviation Administration investigation to dictate whether federal investigators want the state of Vermont to press charges against two off-duty Air National Guardsmen.

Sheriff Allen says 30 people, or more, were dispatched to Savage Island in Grand Isle County Monday after reports of a plane crash.

Allen says the response effort involved multiple marine vessels, volunteer firefighters and a U.S. Customs & Border Protection helicopter. The island is not accessible by any roadway.

“The volunteers, they're taking time away from their families, they're volunteering their time to go out,” said Sheriff Allen.

When they got there, they found a destroyed Piper PA-11. Nobody was with the plane.

“Rather surprised that nobody had reported the incident,” said Sheriff Allen. “It was probably about 6 hours prior when the crash actually occurred. The pilot or anybody, never reported it to the proper authorities as required to do so."

Sheriff Allen believes the plane crashed around noon Monday.

The Vermont Air National Guard confirmed earlier this week, two airmen were on board.

Sheriff Allen told Local 22/Local 44 News the pilot is John Rahill.

In an email Friday requesting information on Rahill’s rank, Guard spokesperson Capt. Tracy Morris responded: “We don't release information on members without their consent. It's for their own safety and operational security."

Sheriff Allen says the two Guardsmen were taken off the island by boat and brought back to the Burlington International Airport by the island’s caretaker.

As for the crash, pilots are required to immediately contact the National Transportation Safety Board following a crash.

NTSB Investigator Adam Gerhardt says the Board was notified about the incident but he is unsure of the timeline, saying “We are aware and we are investigating.”

“What is your reaction when you hear that they are Air National Guardsmen?” asked Local 22/Local44 News’ Staci DaSilva to Sheriff Ray Allen.

“A little surprised,” he responded. “I know the Guard, federal pilots, have very strict regulations and are up to date on all the requirements of the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board. I was stunned that they didn't ever notify anybody of the incident."

Sheriff Allen says the case, for now, is in the hands of the FAA.

“We're following the investigation out of the FAA and the NTSB and waiting to hear from them what they're going to do be doing or if they want to see any charges from the state of Vermont," he said.

Major Chris Gookin with the Vermont National Guard says the Guard has not been contacted, at this time, by the FAA.

In a statement sent Tuesday, Major Gookin wrote: “We appreciate the concern from the community and are happy that neither of our Airmen were injured and are currently back at work.

Due to the ongoing FAA investigation into this matter, we have no further details to release at this time.”


What Happened to Flight 370: Christine Negroni investigates the world’s most mysterious crashes—including the disappearance of Amelia Earhart’s twin-engine Lockheed Electra—in “The Crash Detectives”

The Wall Street Journal
Sept. 30, 2016 12:13 p.m. ET

A colleague once wrote a book about plane crashes based on investigative reconstructions and transcripts of the recovered cockpit recordings. He discovered two things: Most crashes were the result not simply of pilot error, bad weather or mechanical malfunction but of rare coincidental sequences of such factors; and, invariably, the doomed pilots’ last words were, “Oh, s—!”

The safety of commercial airline flight is one of the wonders of human ingenuity. By one reckoning, a domestic airline passenger has one chance in seven million (or 0.000014%) of dying in the crash of any flight, many times better odds than being killed by a lightning bolt in the backyard. Still, few people experience moist palms, dry throat and rapid heartbeat when they cinch up their seat belts in the family SUV the way some do when the engines on their jetliner rev and the plane accelerates down the runway on its takeoff roll.

Reading Christine Negroni’s fascinating “The Crash Detectives” might dry some of those sweaty hands but nibble at the confidence of other ticketed passengers. An aviation writer and sometime crash investigator herself, Ms. Negroni is especially adept at delineating the intricacies of the modern airliner’s linked technologies and, consequently, all the things that have gone wrong and inevitably will go wrong again. She explores aviation calamities as legendary as the disappearance of Amelia Earhart in her twin-engine Lockheed Electra over the Pacific 79 years ago and as fresh as Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a mammoth Boeing 777 that vanished with 239 souls, presumably over the Indian Ocean, in March 2014.

Ms. Negroni’s theory of what happened to Flight 370 is the most intriguing part of her book. The plane’s disappearance has been blamed on everything from a missile strike to pilot suicide, not to mention hijacking, both physical and electronic. One lunatic theory has it that the U.S. military captured the plane and secreted it, its crew and passengers on the Indian Ocean outpost of Diego Garcia. Another has the jetliner swallowed up by a black hole. Veteran pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s home flight simulator supposedly had a test route resembling the vanished plane’s course programmed in it. And he was disconsolate over his failing marriage. Or he was a fanatic allied with a disgraced Malaysian politician. Or something.

Applying Occam’s razor to records of voice and other transmissions from the plane and its electronic status reports to an aviation satellite, Ms. Negroni offers a far simpler solution to the mystery. In her scenario, Flight 370 suffers a sudden and cataclysmic—but unexplained in the book—depressurization at 35,000 feet about 40 minutes after takeoff while Capt. Shah is taking a bathroom break and the big jet is in the hands of the inexperienced, 27-year-old first officer, Fariq Abdul Hamid.

Papers and debris whirl around the moist cockpit, which fills with white mist as the frigid air rushes in and Hamid struggles to don his emergency oxygen mask, send a distress call and dive to a lower altitude. The problem is that he has only about 15 seconds before hypoxia—oxygen deprivation—renders him all but senseless. Capt. Shah is already too far gone to get back into the cockpit to help. Lapsing in and out of consciousness, Hamid mistakenly turns off the plane’s transponder, which transmits its identity, location and other data. He changes course several times—perhaps in a befuddled effort to find a place to land. Finally he passes out for good and—according to satellite transmissions—Flight 370 flies on for five hours until it runs out of fuel and falls into the Indian Ocean.

The absence of wreckage in the South China Sea beneath the spot where the plane was stricken, Ms. Negroni writes, rules out a bomb or missile strike. Indeed, confirmed debris from Flight 370 that washed ashore in southeast Africa is consistent with the idea that the plane, its tanks empty, ended in the Indian Ocean.

Her explanation inevitably builds inference on inference. She determines whether Shah or Hamid was at the controls at any point by assuming that the other is handling voice communications. She assumes that Hamid mistakenly turned off the transponder by fiddling with the wrong knob while oxygen deprived. She dismisses reports that the plane made a series of abrupt climbs and dives by calculating that it could never have flown on as long as it did unless fuel was conserved by maintaining a steady cruising altitude. Still, her scenario is persuasive, at least to the non-specialist.

The vanished MH 370 is just one of the aviation mysteries Ms. Negroni parses. There is the still unexplained disappearance without a trace of a Pan Am Clipper flying boat—the intercontinental 777 of its time—78 years ago near the Philippines on the final leg of an island-hopping five-day journey from San Francisco. In 1961, a United Nations–chartered DC-6 crashed approaching an airport in what is now Zambia during a civil war in the former Belgian Congo just to the north. The body of one of the passengers was found propped against an anthill. It turned out to be Dag Hammarskjöld, the U.N.’s secretary-general, and he had been shot. The crash has been investigated four times, but the cause of the incident—and Hammarskjöld’s wound—have never been satisfactorily explained. “Ambiguity may be the best cover-up of all,” Ms. Negroni concludes.

One coverup she demystifies involves an Air New Zealand DC-10 that crashed into the 12,000-foot Mount Erebus volcano in clear weather during a sightseeing junket to Antarctica in 1979, killing all 257 aboard. Airline executives filched documents and otherwise tried to hide the truth about the accident. As it happened, the pilot had been given altered navigational data to program into the plane’s guidance system that took the flight over the mountain rather than McMurdo Sound. Sunlight diffused off the bright white ice shelf temporarily blinded the pilots, and they flew right into the volcano that wasn’t supposed to be there.

And then there are the innovations in airplane design and technology that make flying safer—unless they turn out to be hidden catastrophic hazards, “unknown unknowns,” in the term of art. There was a deadly flap handle on the DC-8; a flyaway cargo door on the DC-10; rudder controls on the Boeing 737 that reversed themselves; and, most notoriously, the mammoth fuel tank midship on the Boeing 747. The Boeing 747 tank was for some reason located over air-handling equipment that could heat the fuel and fumes in the chamber into a potentially explosive mixture ignitable by a single spark. Such a spark touched off the catastrophe that broke apart TWA Flight 800 off Long Island in 1996, killing all 230 passengers and crew. Crash investigations led to fixes on all these dangerous parts, but the evolution of jetliners into ever more complex, computer-driven behemoths guarantees that future “unknown unknowns” lurk in the specs.

Ms. Negroni loves pilots and their heroics. The last portion of her book is devoted to the men (and fewer women) entrusted with $300 million aircraft and the hundreds of lives filling the seats. She examines the culture and sometimes deadly politesse of the cockpit, the myth and reality of airmen with “the right stuff,” efforts to improve the selection and training of pilots, and techniques to keep them alert on long-haul flights essentially flown by computers.

Everyone by now knows the saga of Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the 57-year-old US Airways pilot who guided his Airbus A320 with 155 aboard safely into the Hudson River seven years ago when Canada geese flew into the plane’s jet engines after takeoff from LaGuardia. Ms. Negroni also has less familiar tales of pilots who relied on past experience, “right-stuff” instinct or dumb luck to rescue their craft from disaster.

The authority of the veteran airline captain is so pervasive that co-pilots and other lesser beings hesitate to correct the man at the yoke even in extremis. Many pilots, as it happens, do have that mystical “right stuff” to save the day, but some are just screwing up. Similarly, the complexity of modern airliners makes it essential that cockpit crew, air controllers, maintenance workers and others learn how to focus, backstop one another and function in a crisis to avert disaster.

For all the horror stories in “The Crash Detectives,” the reasonable reader will leave the book more sanguine about modern commercial airline travel than before. As a probably apocryphal veteran pilot in the book tells his passengers as they pull up to the gate: “Welcome to your destination, ladies and gentlemen. The safest part of your journey has come to an end.”

Original article can be found here:

Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee, AeroAndes, HK-1328-G (and) Cessna 152, ACAHEL, HK-2092-G : Fatal accident occurred September 15, 2016 in Flanders, Colombia

NTSB Identification: ERA16WA317A
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Thursday, September 15, 2016 in Flanders, Colombia
Aircraft: PIPER PA28, registration:
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 2 Uninjured.

NTSB Identification: ERA16WA317B

14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Thursday, September 15, 2016 in Flanders, Colombia
Aircraft: CESSNA 152, registration:

Injuries: 2 Fatal, 2 Uninjured.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On September 15, 2016, about 1523 universal coordinated time, a Piper PA-28-140; Colombian registration, HK1328G, operated by Aeroandes Flight Training School, and a Cessna 152; Columbian registration, HK2092G, operated by Acahel Flight Training School experienced a midair collision while operating in the traffic pattern, at Santiago Vila Airport (SKGI), Flanders, Colombia. The Piper was substantially damaged and made a precautionary landing at SKGI. The flight instructor and student pilot receiving instruction in the Piper were not injured. The Cessna was substantially damaged and experienced an uncontrolled descent into the Magdalena River. The flight instructor and the student pilot receiving instruction in the Cessna were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the instructional flights, both of which were conducted under Colombian aviation regulations.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Colombia.

Further information can be obtained from:

Grupo Investigación de Accidentes

Unidad Administrativa Especial de Aeronáutica Civil
Av. Eldorado 103-23
Bogota, Colombia
Telephone: (57-1) 296-2138
Fax: (57-1) 296-2013

This report is for informational purposes and contains only information released by the Republic of Colombia. 

La Aeronáutica Civil continúa la búsqueda de un instructor de vuelo y un estudiante que cayeron a orillas del río Magdalena luego de que se registrara un accidente junto con otra aeronave en el aeropuerto de Flandes, en Tolima.

"Dos aeronaves pequeñas de instrucción chocaron en vuelo, una logró aterrizar en el aeropuerto de Flandes pero la otra al parecer se precipitó al río", dijo el coronel Edgar Sánchez, director operativo de la Aerocivil.

El coronel confirmó que se trata del instructor Rafael Quinchía y el aprendiz Nicolás Chamorro, quienes iban a bordo de la aeronave HK2092 que al chocar con otra, de matrícula HK-1328-G, de la empresa AeroAndes, se precipitó y cayó al río Magdalena.

A esta hora, organismos de búsqueda y rescate adelantan el protocolo para dar con el paradero de las dos personas.

El subdirector de la Aeronáutica Civil, coronel Luis Carlos Córdoba, señaló que los ocupantes de la otra aeronave lograron aterrizar en el aeropuerto de Flandes, a un kilómetro del río Magdalena, en límites de Tolima y Cundinamarca.

"Las labores de búsqueda de la aeronave y sus dos tripulantes se realizan con lanchas, helicópteros de la Fuerza Aérea y unidades de bomberos y Defensa Civil", aseguró el coronel Sánchez.

Agregó que se trata de aeronaves pequeñas usadas para entrenamiento. 

A orillas del río Magdalena organismos de rescate encontraron parte del fuselaje del avión de instrucción desaparecido esta semana en Flandes, Tolima, tras un accidente. 

Según informó RCN Radio, parte del fuselaje del avión de matrícula HK 2092 de la empresa Acahel fue encontrado, gracias a información entregada por campesinos, a 700 metros del puente San Rafael, cerca a la variante que comunica a los municipios del Espinal y Melgar.

Harold Trujillo, de la Cruz Roja del Tolima, manifestó que se cree que los cuerpos del capitán Rafael Quinchía y del aprendiz Nicolás Ruiz, tripulantes de la aeronave, se encuentran en el río.

Lea también: Aprendíz de aviación desaparecido en Flandes es hijo del comandante de la Policía de Bucaramanga

Esta búsqueda -que se intensificó en las últimas horas- es realizada por 150 hombres, cinco lanchas rápidas y buzos expertos de la Armada, de la Policía y de la Cruz Roja.

La Aeronáutica Civil continúa la búsqueda de un instructor de vuelo y un estudiante que cayeron a orillas del río Magdalena luego de que se registrara un accidente junto con otra aeronave en el aeropuerto de Flandes, en Tolima.

"Dos aeronaves pequeñas de instrucción chocaron en vuelo, una logró aterrizar en el aeropuerto de Flandes pero la otra al parecer se precipitó al río", dijo el coronel Edgar Sánchez, director operativo de la Aerocivil.

El coronel confirmó que se trata del instructor Rafael Quinchía y el aprendiz Nicolás Chamorro, quienes iban a bordo de la aeronave HK2092 que al chocar con otra, de matrícula HK-1328-G, de la empresa AeroAndes, se precipitó y cayó al río Magdalena.

A esta hora, organismos de búsqueda y rescate adelantan el protocolo para dar con el paradero de las dos personas.

El subdirector de la Aeronáutica Civil, coronel Luis Carlos Córdoba, señaló que los ocupantes de la otra aeronave lograron aterrizar en el aeropuerto de Flandes, a un kilómetro del río Magdalena, en límites de Tolima y Cundinamarca.

"Las labores de búsqueda de la aeronave y sus dos tripulantes se realizan con lanchas, helicópteros de la Fuerza Aérea y unidades de bomberos y Defensa Civil", aseguró el coronel Sánchez.

Agusta-Bell 206B JetRanger, RA-01630: Fatal accident occurred September 24, 2016 in Yartsevo, Russia

NTSB Identification: ERA16WA327
Accident occurred Saturday, September 24, 2016 in Yartsevo, Russia
Aircraft: AGUSTA BELL AB206-B3, registration:
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On September 24, 2016, at an unknown time, an Agusta-Bell AB206-B3 helicopter, Russian registration RA-01630, was substantially damaged when it crashed under unknown circumstances near Yartsevo, Russia. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured.

The accident investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Russian Government. Any further information pertaining to the accident can be obtained from:

Interstate Aviation Committee
22/2/1 Bolshaya Ordynka Str.,
Moscow, Russia

Tel.: (495) 953-12-44
Interstate Aviation Committee
22/2/1 Bolshaya Ordynka Str.
Moscow 119017, Russia

Tel.: (7) 495 953-5251
Fax: (7) 495-953-1145

This report is for informational purposes and only contains information released by the Russian Government.

КРАСНОЯРСК, 25 сентября. /ТАСС/. Два человека погибли при крушении частного вертолета Bell-206, пропавшего накануне в Красноярском крае. Об этом в воскресенье ТАСС сообщил источник в экстренных службах региона.

"Вертолет обнаружен в 20 километрах от поселка Ярцево на Енисее. По предварительным данным, два человека - пилот и пассажир - погибли. Вертолет частный, есть данные, что находящиеся на его борту люди летели на рыбалку", - сказал собеседник агентства.

В свою очередь официальный представитель краевого ГУ МЧС Александр Якимов сообщил ТАСС, что воздушное судно обнаружено, но достоверной информации о погибших нет.

24 сентября не вышел на связь вертолет Bell-206, следовавший по маршруту Красноярск - поселок Ярцево (Енисейский район). По предварительным данным, на борту находились два человека - командир экипажа и пассажир.
Для проведения поисковых работ в готовность приведены силы Енисейского поисково-спасательного отряда краевого учреждения "Спасатель". Также к поискам привлекался вертолет Ми-8.

Bell-206 - легкий многоцелевой вертолет, в зависимости от модификации способен брать на борт до восьми человек.

Москва. 25 сентября. INTERFAX.RU - В Красноярском крае обнаружены обломки пропавшего накануне вертолета Bell, два человека погибли, сообщили в воскресенье "Интерфаксу" источник в экстренных службах.

"Обломки обнаружены в 20 км от населенного пункта Ярцево в Красноярском крае. Среди обломков найдены тела двух погибших", - сказал источник.

Вертолет Bell перестал выходить на связь накануне вечером во время полета над Красноярским краем, на борту находилось два человека.

Incident occurred October 01, 2016 at Waco Regional Airport (KACT), McLennan County, Texas

Flights in and out of the Waco Regional Airport are currently on hold, after the airport was shut down this afternoon, because of an emergency landing on one of the runways. 

No word yet on if there were any injuries or when the airport is set to reopen.  


Culver PQ-14A, N4648V: Fatal accident occurred October 01, 2016 near Hickory Regional Airport(KHKY), Catawba County, North Carolina

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Preliminary Report:

George B. Harris:

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Charlotte FSDO-68

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA001
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 01, 2016 in Hickory, NC
Aircraft: CULVER PQ 14A, registration: N4648V
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 1, 2016, at 1310 eastern daylight time, a Culver PQ-14A, N4648V, was destroyed during collision with trees, terrain, and a commercial building during a forced landing after takeoff from Hickory Regional Airport (HKY), Hickory, North Carolina. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Preliminary information from witnesses and the HKY air traffic control tower revealed the airplane's engine stopped producing power during taxi for takeoff. The pilot explained the delay to the controller, the engine was restarted, and the airplane departed.

Shortly after takeoff, the pilot reported the airplane was "having engine problems" and announced his intention to return to HKY. The controller provided the altimeter setting, the wind information, and cleared the airplane to land on "any runway."

Preliminary radar data revealed the airplane was about 2 miles south of HKY, when it reversed course in the direction of runway 01. The radar track ended in the vicinity of the accident site, approximately on the extended centerline of runway 01, and 1mile south of the approach end of the runway.

Witnesses on the ground described the engine sound as "sputtering" and "revving up and down." According to one witness, "I saw it come over the hill, it was sputtering, and then it would rev back up. The airplane would climb a little when the engine ran, and then it would descend when it sputtered." The airplane disappeared from view and the sounds of impact were heard.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate was issued October 2, 2014. He declared 2,462 total hours of flight experience on that date.

A review of the pilot's logbook revealed he had accumulated 2,478 total hours of flight experience, of which approximately 400 hours were in the accident airplane. He accrued 7.5 total hours of flight experience in the year previous to the accident, of which 3.5 hours were in the accident airplane.

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1944 and it was primarily a wood and fabric structure. It was powered by a Franklin six-cylinder engine. Examination of maintenance records revealed its most recent annual inspection was completed November 12, 2015, at 744.4 total airframe hours.

At 1253, the weather reported at HKY included clear skies with 10 statute miles visibility. The wind was variable at 4 knots. The temperature was 23 degrees C, the dew point was 11 degrees C, and the altimeter setting was 30.09 inches of mercury.

The wreckage was examined at the accident site on October 2, 2016. There was a strong odor of automotive gasoline, and all major components were accounted for at the scene. The wreckage path was oriented 359 degrees magnetic and was about 100 feet in length. The initial impact point was in a tree about 35 feet above ground level and ground scars were visible in the pavement about 25 feet prior to where the airplane came to rest against a building.

The wreckage was fractured into three main sections; the engine and instrument panel, the wings and cabin floor structure, and the empennage with an intact tail section. All sections remained attached by cabling and wires.

Each wing contained three interconnected tanks that comprised the "main" fuel system. An auxiliary fuel tank was also installed. All six fuel tanks leaked fuel due to impact damage to the tanks and their connections. Continuity of the fuel lines was established from the tanks to the fuel selector, through the in-line auxiliary fuel pump, to the engine through several breaks. The fuel selector was in the "Main" position, and no blockages were found. All fuel drained from the airplane were consistent in odor and appearance of automotive gasoline.

Control continuity was established from the cockpit area to all flight control surfaces.

The propeller remained attached, and the blades were bent or fractured in an aft direction.

The engine was separated from the wreckage, and impact damage was noted to the No. 5 cylinder and the crankcase. The engine was rotated by hand, and continuity was established through the powertrain and the valvetrain to the accessory section. Compression was confirmed using the thumb method. The engine could not be rotated through 360 degrees due to a mechanical stop.

The crankcase cover was removed, and damage to the crankcase impinged upon the No. 5 cylinder which blocked the piston skirt and stopped rotation of the crankshaft. The internal engine components moved smoothly, were well lubricated, and showed no abnormal wear.

The engine-driven fuel pump was removed and pumped fuel when actuated with a drill. The hand-driven auxiliary "wobble" pump was actuated by hand and pumped fuel. All fuel screens were absent of debris. The carburetor was disassembled and the internal parts moved freely and were undamaged. The metal floats were intact. The carburetor bowl was absent of debris.

The left magneto was removed, actuated with a drill, and spark was produced at all terminal leads. The right magneto was impact damaged and the distributor was destroyed. The right magneto drive was actuated with a drill, and spark was produced at the secondary output of the ignition coil.

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

HICKORY — The wreckage of a plane that crashed into a BB&T Bank in Hickory Saturday will be removed by then end of Sunday, according to City of Long View police officials.

A team from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was also on the scene Sunday afternoon, continuing their investigation of the accident.

Catawba County Emergency Manager Karen Yaussy said 81-year-old George Baxter Harris of the Hickory area was the only person onboard the Culver PQ-14A when it crashed Saturday around 1:10 p.m., near the 3200 block of 1st Avenue SW, according to an Associated Press report.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the aircraft was headed to Hickory Regional Airport when it crashed, adding that it had also left from the airport earlier.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force says on its web page that the Culver Aircraft Corp. built three basic models in quantity for the Army in 1940. The PQ series was initially designed as radio-controlled target aircraft for training anti-aircraft artillery gunners for the Army and the Navy.

LONG VIEW, N.C. - A small vintage plane crashed into a BB&T Bank branch office in Longview Saturday afternoon, killing one person, Catawba County officials said.

The victim was the plane's pilot, 81-year-old George Baxter Harris.

The Culver PQ-14A was headed to the Hickory Regional Airport before it crashed around 1:10 p.m. in the 3200 block of 1st Avenue SW, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The pilot was the only person on the plane. 

The aircraft had left from Hickory earlier in the day. 

Officials have not released any information about injuries. 

The FAA is investigating, and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the cause of the wreck.


LONG VIEW, NC (WBTV) -  A man was killed in a small plane crashed in Long View Saturday, Catawba County officials confirm. 

The crash happened around 1:30 p.m. behind a BB&T on 1st Ave SW, about a mile from the Hickory Regional Airport.

Catawba County Emergency Management says 81-year-old George Baxter Harris, who was experienced in flying, was killed in the crash. 

According to the plane's N-number, the aircraft was a Culver fixed wing single-engine plane.

The plane was based at the airport, and officials say Harris was circling a soccer field nearby before crashing. 

Catawba County officials say Baxter was killed on impact. No one else was aboard the small plane.

The FAA and NTSB are investigating.