Monday, October 17, 2016

Leath has many questions to answer on planes


Cirrus SR22, N176CF

Dick Haws, Special to the Des Moines Register

The Iowa Board of Regents, sometime during its meeting this Wednesday and Thursday, is expected to discuss with Iowa State University President Steven Leath his use of the two airplanes owned by ISU, a twin-engine, eight-seat King Air 350 and a single-engine, four-seat Cirrus SR22. Regent Subhash Sahai has said Leath has assured him he "will come clean" regarding the two airplanes.

Here are some of the questions I hope are answered:

Leath has said the Cirrus SR22 was purchased for $470,000, less a $28,000 trade-in, in July 2014, from a "discretionary account" he controls.  He has said the account, made possible by contributions from ISU donors, is free to be used by the president as he sees fit to benefit ISU. How much money is in that account and what purchases, besides the airplane, have been made by Leath from it?  Do the presidents at Iowa's other regents universities have such discretionary accounts? If so, how large are they and what purchases have they made from them? Is Leath's purchase of an airplane from this account in accord with Regent expectations?  

Iowa State employs three pilots — one is paid $75,000 a year, one $80,000 a year, one $102,000  a year — and all are licensed to fly the Cirrus SR22.  Leath also is licensed to fly the Cirrus SR22.  How many times have any of ISU's three pilots flown the Cirrus SR22 since it was purchased by Leath in 2014?  If their answer is, "Hardly at all," does this mean that the Cirrus SR22 is, in effect, Leath's personal airplane?

Leath has said, after the "hard" landing he had in the Cirrus SR22 at the Bloomington, Ill., airport in July 2015, that he immediately notified the Bloomington control tower, the ISU Flight Service, and, subsequently, the FAA and Iowa Regents President Bruce Rastetter. The accident did about $14,000 damage to the airplane.  But it wasn't until more than a year later that the public learned of it, and only because of media reporting. No regents have come forward to say that Rastetter told any of them about the accident before it was reported in the media. Considering the current hue and cry about the accident, do Leath and Rastetter now believe it would have been wiser to have been forthcoming about the incident as soon as it happened?

Leath has said he and his wife, Janet, flew in the larger plane, the King Air 350, to New York City when the ISU men's basketball team was playing in the NCAA tournament in March 2014.  Once in the air, the Iowa State pilot  said he planned to stop at Elmira, N.Y., to refuel.  It just so happened, Leath has said, that his brother and sister-in-law lived only 30 minutes from the Elmira airport. They quickly drove over to the Elmira airport and flew with the Leaths to New York City for the basketball game.  On the return to Ames, the plane made another refueling stop at Elmira and dropped Leath's brother and sister-in-law off.  Were the Leath relatives charged for the round-trip flight between Elmira and New York City?  If so, how much was it?  Have other Leath relatives, other than from from his immediate family, flown on an ISU plane?  If so, have they been charged for it? And have Leath friends — those who wouldn't be considered potential donors, like professional archer John Dudley — flown with the president on ISU airplanes and, if so, have they been charged for the flights?

Leath has said he's been a licensed pilot for nearly 10 years.  He says he had an earlier "hard" landing, this time when flying a private airplane. Is this frequency of "hard" landings — two in about 10 years — unusual for a pilot?

From my perspectives, answers to questions like these should help put the issue of the ISU airplanes in the background.

Dick Haws is a retired journalism professor at ISU.


Regent praises Leath: 'A ding on an airplane wing is not going to mess up the good work that's been done' 

Swearingen SA227-TT, N53DA: Accident occurred March 12, 2017 at Santa Monica Airport (KNSO), California and Incident occurred October 17, 2016 at Hayward Executive Airport (KHWD), Alameda County, California

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lawndale, California 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:
Extant LLC
c/o:  Meridan Aviation Inc:

Location: Santa Monica, CA
Accident Number: GAA17CA333
Date & Time: 03/12/2017, 1224 PDT
Registration: N53DA
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Hard landing
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

The pilot reported that, while on short final following a jet airplane, the airplane "encountered turbulence that induced significant rolling". He added that the airplane "was not able to completely re-establish a stabilized approach prior to touching down". Subsequently, the airplane touched down "more firm than usual". The pilot taxied the airplane to the ramp without further incident.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage.

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

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 52, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Unknown
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 07/29/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 10/13/2016
Flight Time: (Estimated) 4900 hours (Total, all aircraft), 410 hours (Total, this make and model), 4700 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 102 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 32 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: SWEARINGEN
Registration: N53DA
Model/Series: SA227 TT TT
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1981
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: TT-438
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 12
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  Unknown
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 12500 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
 Engines: 2 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time: 
Engine Manufacturer: AIRESEARCH
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: TPE331
Registered Owner: EXTANT LLC.
Rated Power: 904 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KSMO, 174 ft msl
Observation Time: 1851 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 45°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 18°C / 13°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  5 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots, 200°
Visibility (RVR): 
Altimeter Setting: 30.03 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV): 
Precipitation and Obscuration: Moderate - Haze; No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: PALM SPRINGS, CA (PSP)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: Santa Monica, CA (SMO)
Type of Clearance:  IFR
Departure Time: 1151 PDT
Type of Airspace: Class D

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 177 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 21
IFR Approach: Global Positioning System
Runway Length/Width: 4973 ft / 150 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion:  None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude:  34.015000, -118.452222 (est)

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Oakland, California

Aircraft on takeoff roll, skidded off the runway into the grass.

Date: 17-OCT-16
Time: 21:02:00Z
Regis#: N53DA
Aircraft Make: SWEARINGEN
Aircraft Model: SA227
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: None
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)

State: California

HAYWARD (KRON) — Crews responded to an airplane that made an emergency landing at the Hayward Executive Airport Monday afternoon, according to the Hayward fire department.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a Swearingen SA227-TT veered off of runway 28 at 1:00 p.m.

Hayward fire crews said, the plane had to make the abrupt landing due to the brakes on the plane locking up.

The plane landed on grass area near the runway. 

Airport officials had to tow the plane off the grass because the brakes were extremely hot, and they were concerned that a fire would erupt.

According to fire crews, no injuries were reported and fire crews will stay on the scene as a precaution.

The FAA has announced that they will be investigating the cause of the landing.

Source: Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Los Angeles, California

Extant LLC
c/o:  Meridan Aviation Inc:

Aircraft sustained substantial damage under unknown circumstances. Reported June 08, 2017

Date: 15-MAR-17
Time: 00:00:00Z
Regis#: N53DA
Aircraft Make: SWEARINGEN
Aircraft Model: SA227
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Oakland, California

Aircraft on takeoff roll, skidded off the runway into the grass.

Date: 17-OCT-16
Time: 21:02:00Z
Regis#: N53DA
Aircraft Make: SWEARINGEN
Aircraft Model: SA227
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: None
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
State: California

HAYWARD (KRON) — Crews responded to an airplane that made an emergency landing at the Hayward Executive Airport Monday afternoon, according to the Hayward fire department.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a Swearingen SA227-TT veered off of runway 28 at 1:00 p.m.

Hayward fire crews said, the plane had to make the abrupt landing due to the brakes on the plane locking up.

The plane landed on grass area near the runway. 

Airport officials had to tow the plane off the grass because the brakes were extremely hot, and they were concerned that a fire would erupt.

According to fire crews, no injuries were reported and fire crews will stay on the scene as a precaution.

The FAA has announced that they will be investigating the cause of the landing.


Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II, St Catharines Flying Club, C-GYSN: Fatal accident occurred October 16, 2016 in Austin, Potter County, Pennsylvania

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Preliminary Report:

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Harrisburg FSDO-13

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA017

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, October 16, 2016 in Austin, PA
Aircraft: PIPER PA28, registration: C-GYSN
Injuries: 3 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 16, 2016, about 1958 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-161, Canadian registration C-GYSN, collided with trees near Austin, Pennsylvania. The commercial pilot, and two occupants were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by St. Catharines Flying Club, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a personal flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Richmond International Airport (RIC), Richmond, Virginia, about 1654, and was destined for St. Catharines/Niagara District Airport (CYSN), St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

According to preliminary air traffic control information, after takeoff the flight proceeded towards the destination while remaining in contact with several air traffic facilities, as appropriate. About 1933, an occupant contacted the Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZOB) and advised the controller the flight was at 6,000 feet mean sea level. The pilot was provided an altimeter setting of 30.04 inches of Mercury which was correctly read back. The flight continued and at 1944, the pilot was advised of moderate precipitation to the left and right of the airplane's current flight track, and in 20 miles, another area of moderate to heavy precipitation. He was also advised there were no "ride reports;" there was no reply from the pilot. At 1945, the ZOB controller advised the pilot of moderate precipitation in the vicinity of the airplane's position and if deviation was necessary, to please advise. An occupant responded that they would deviate by turning left about 20 degrees. About 1957, the ZOB controller attempted to establish contact with the accident pilot. She observed the flight turning to the south and asked if there was any issue; there was no reply. The airplane was lost from radar about 1958.

Federal Aviation Administration personnel alerted local authorities who initiated a search. The wreckage was subsequently located by a Pennsylvania State Police helicopter during an aerial search on October 17, 2016. Initial examination of the wreckage revealed that it came to rest in a heavily wooded area and was highly fragmented.

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

Dr. Yousif Tawfig, left, and son Rifat Tawfig, right, are pictured in this undated photo. 

Rifat Tawfig spent his life giving back to others.

In his death, the family and friends of the 25-year-old Niagara Falls man have come together to honour him by continuing that legacy.

Tawfig, an instructor with St. Catharines Flying Club, was one of three young men from Niagara who died in an Oct. 16 plane crash in mountainous northern Pennsylvania.

Also killed were students Ben Jeffries, 19, of Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Corey Mijac, 18, of St. Catharines.

The trio was returning from a trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., with the St. Catharines Flying Club when the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration lost radio contact with the plane.

Wreckage of the aircraft, a small Piper PA-28 Cherokee, was discovered by search-and-rescue crews the following day.

After news of the tragedy broke, a GoFundMe campaign was created by one of Tawfig’s close friends to see a well built in his name in Sudan, where his family is originally from.

In only two days, the online fundraiser received enough support to surpass its $10,000 goal.

The target has since been increased to $15,000, which as of Wednesday afternoon was only $150 shy of being achieved.

Ahmed Daoud, a longtime friend of Tawfig, said their families have been close since both moved to Canada from Sudan in the early 1990s.

He was always moved by Tawfig’s willingness to help others and to do what he could to contribute to the close-knit Sudanese community.

“He was just a great guy. If anybody needed a ride, even if he was going the opposite way, he would take them,” Daoud said. “He would never say no.

“He always put people ahead of himself.”

As a child, Tawfig had an unabashed love for planes.

“When he was younger, he always wanted to be a pilot,” Daoud recalled.

It was through Daoud’s father, a former pilot, that he got his first introduction to the world of flight.

He would often come asking for advice about potential paths to take that would lead to him becoming a commercial pilot for a large airline.

It was as a result of those discussions with Daoud’s father that Tawfig pursued a position as a flight instructor with the St. Catharines Flying Club.

With about 400 flying hours under his belt, he hoped to accumulate enough time in the sky to achieve his dream of working for Saudi Arabian Airlines.

His parents, while originally from Sudan, are currently living in the Middle Eastern nation.

It was Tawfig’s sense of adventure that Daoud believes drew him to aviation.

That dream didn’t come without hesitancy from his parents, who had hoped he’d take a path similar to his father and pursue a career in medicine.

But those concerns were cast aside when they realized Tawfig was not only happy, but also quite skilled at being behind an aircraft’s controls.

Tawfig and his mother were extremely close, Daoud said.

“Every time he flies, he calls her.”

The day of the crash was no exception.

When the aircraft made a routine fuel stop in Richmond, Va., Tawfig made sure to pick up the phone and dial his mother.

“He said, “Mom, just pray for me. There’s some bad weather in the area. Pray for me that everything will be OK,” Daoud said.

When his mother learned sometime later that Tawfig’s plane had disappeared from radar, she immediately booked a flight to the U.S.

The crash is being investigated by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

Daoud said the family, including Tawfig’s parents and three sisters, has been “trying to hold up,” but is understandably having a hard time coping with the loss.

“He was so close to his family. Everybody, they were proud of him. His dad was really proud of him.”

The Sudanese community, members of the local mosque in St. Catharines and members of the flying club have been a strong source of support, he said.

Condolences, as well as donations, have poured into the GoFundMe page in Tawfig’s name, created by close friend Mawia Janoudy.

On the website, Janoudy, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment, describes Tawfig as “one of the most patient and considerate people I have ever known.”

He reminisced about experiences the pair had shared over the years, and about how they said their future children would someday play together.

“You died doing the job that you love,” Janoudy wrote. “I’m proud to have grown alongside such a gentle and patient soul.”

“Let us strive to be better people in Rifat’s memory.”

The money will be used to build a 45-metre deep well capable of supporting 1,000 families with water daily for the next 15 years. It will be built by Muslim Aid, a U.K.-based charity.

Funds exceeding the initial goal will be used to support other well projects in Ghana, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

To donate to the GoFundMe page, visit

A funeral service was held for Tawfig at the St. Catharines mosque on Geneva Street Wednesday, followed by a burial at the Islamic Cemetery on Yokom Road in Niagara Falls.

Services were also held Wednesday for Jeffries and Mijac at George Darte Funeral Home in St. Catharines.

In a statement provided by Daoud, Tawfig’s family extended gratitude to Niagara Regional Police, the Sudanese-Canadian community in Niagara, Sudanese Community Association of Ontario, Islamic Society of St. Catharines and the St. Catharines Flying Club for their concern and support.

The family also “send out their deep condolences to the families of the other two young men,” he said.


The victims of a St. Catharines Flying Club which crashed Sunday while en route to Niagara have been identified as (left to right) Corey Mijac, 18, of St. Catharines; Benjamin Jeffries, 19, of Niagara-on-the-Lake; and Rifat Tawig, 25, of Niagara Falls.

AUSTIN, Pa. — Pennsylvania state police say three men from the Niagara Region died in the crash of a small plane that lost contact with flight controllers as it was flying from Virginia to Ontario.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the Piper PA-28 took off Sunday from Richmond International Airport and was headed to St. Catharines/Niagara District Airport.

Potter County coroner Kevin J. Dusenbury Sr. says the wreckage was found late Monday in Keating Township.

The victims have been identified as Rifat Tawig, 25, of Niagara Falls, Benjamin Jeffries, 19, of Niagara-on-the-Lake, and 18-year-old Corey Mijac of St. Catharines.

Tawig was a Class 4 flight instructor with the St. Catharines Flying Club, a certified flight training unit and one of the oldest flying clubs in Canada.

Mijac and Jeffries, meanwhile, are graduates of Governor Simcoe Secondary School. Mijac graduated just this past June, while Jeffries graduated the year before.

District School Board of Niagara communications officer Brett Sweeney said students at the school were aware of the crash, and that rumours were swirling throughout the day about the identity of the victims. Staff were asked to keep an eye out for any students who knew them.

"We want to make sure those students are OK and offer support where we can," he said. "It's such a tragic loss. It's always a tragedy when young people have their lives cut short."

Conrad Hatcher, an instructor with the flying club who worked daily with Tawig since he joined earlier this year, described the young man with a 6-foot 5 inch-frame as a "gentle giant" and someone who was pursuing a career in aviation.

"He looked forward to someday flying for an airline," he said. "He was a very nice guy, easy to work with."

Hatcher described the mood around the small, tight-knit group as sombre, explaining that some of their younger members have never lost anyone before.

The FAA said it lost contact with the flight over Potter County at about 7 p.m. Sunday.

Emergency dispatchers in nearby McKean County say they were contacted by the FAA after the aircraft changed course to avoid a thunderstorm. They lost radio contact with the plane when it was near the mountainous, remote area of Keating Summit.

The Civil Air Patrol released information Monday afternoon concerning the aircraft, prompting a search near Route 155 in Keating Township. McKean and Potter county emergency officials were joined by volunteer fire departments, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania State Police.

Police described the site where the single-engine plane crashed as "extremely rugged, steep and wooded" and extended several hundred metres through the woods.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA are investigating, police said.

The  Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II that crashed in the woods of northern Pennsylvania Sunday night, killing three people, was carrying a flight instructor and two students on their way back to their Canadian flying school after a stopover in Richmond to refuel.

Conrad Hatcher, a flight instructor and spokesman for the St. Catharines Flying Club in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, said the instructor, Rifat Tawfig, 25, of Niagara Falls, and his two students, Corey Mijac, 18, of St. Catharines, and Ben Jeffries, 19, of Niagara-on-the-Lake, were on their way back from a trip to Myrtle Beach, SC.

"The purpose was to give them some experience flying out of their home airport," Hatcher said, adding that the small school of six airplanes and about as many instructors was stunned by the deaths. "This is not anything that anyone here now has ever dealt with. Of course, a lot of sadness. When you're small tight-knit group it cuts both ways. When it's good it's good. When something like this happens it's really difficult."

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash scene near Liberty, Pa., about 115 miles north of Harrisburg, documenting the wreckage and interviewing witnesses.

"We're still in the very early stages of this investigation," said NTSB spokesman Terry Williams.

The Federal Aviation Administration lost contact with the plane, which was trailing another identical aircraft from the school, at about 7 p.m. Sunday night. It was found Monday after a search by local authorities that was hampered by the darkness and bad weather, the flying school said in a news release. The other plane landed safely at Niagara District Airport.

"There's a lot more that we don't know," Hatcher said. "We don't have any solid reason why this would have happened."

Hatcher described Tawfig, who was born in Toronto, as affable and a "gentle soul."

"When we say somebody's a nice guy, it's often overused. But he really was," Hatcher said. "People liked him and his students liked him. I used to call him the gentle giant because he was about 6 foot 5."

Mijac had done the Canadian equivalent of a work-study program or internship, called a co-op, at the flying school, and was "passionate about aviation," artistic and athletic, Hatcher said.

"One of those kids who was more likely to smile than frown," he added.

Jeffries worked in his family's restaurant business and got introduced to the flying school through his father, who also learned to fly there, Hatcher said, and was getting serious about flying, including a potential career in aviation.

"We're in shock here," Hatcher said. "We don't have a lot of answers but we will get through it."


State police have released the names of those killed in a plane crash in Keating Township. 

Rifat Tawig, 25; Cory Mijac, 18; and Benjamin Jeffries, 19; all of Ontario, Canada, were pronounced dead by Potter County Coroner Kevin Dusenbury. The plane wreckage was found by state police helicopter around 3:30 p.m. Monday.  

The PSP report says of the location of the wreckage in Keating Township, "The terrain at the crash site is extremely rugged, steep and wooded. The crash site extends for several hundred yards through the woods."

The report also says PSP has no further information or involvement in the investigation other than maintaining the scene security. 

UPDATE: Oct. 18, 10:14 a.m.

Potter County Coroner Kevin Dusenbury has confirmed three deaths in the plane crash in Keating Summit.

Authorities from several agencies worked searching for the plane from Sunday evening when contact was lost, to Monday evening, when it was found within the search area in Keating Summit. Three occupants were reported on board the single-engine aircraft, which was traveling from Richmond, Va., to Ontario, Canada. 

Dusenbury said he was called to the scene Monday evening, where he pronounced all three occupants of the plane dead. He said they were young people from Canada. 

"I'm not releasing any names, as I'm still working on notifying the families," he told the Potter Leader-Enterprise. "This is very, very tragic. It's a very sad situation." 

Dusenbury said many agencies were still on scene, and the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating. 

UPDATE: Oct.17, 9:53 p.m.

According to Andrew Johnson, Public Information officer for the Civil Air Patrol, the downed plane has been located within the search area near Keating Summit. Johnson did not have an exact location of the plane, or the condition of its three passengers. 

Johnson said because the plane has been located, State Police out of Coudersport have taken over command. When called, a representative from the state police barracks had no comment on the incident. 

For more info on the incident, see the press release below, and check back for more updates as they become available. 

UPDATE: Oct. 17, 2:49 p.m. 

The Civil Air Patrol distributed the following press release to the Potter Leader-Enterprise at the scene of command for a possible downed plane in the area: 

"Numerous local and state agencies are working today to locate an aircraft which was reported overdue last evening after failing to arrive at its destination in Saint Catharines, Ontario, Canada

According to initial reports, the Federal Aviation Administration in Cleveland Center contacted the McKean County 911 Center last evening after they lost radar and radio contact with a small aircraft near Keating Summit, Pa. The single engine Piper Cherokee airplane was flying from Richmond (VA) International Airport in Virginia to St. Catharines Airport with three people on board when it changed course to avoid a thunderstorm. After the aircraft changed course, all contact with the aircraft was lost. Area fire departments and search and rescue teams combed the woods in the area for hours last night into early morning before regrouping to begin gain after daylight. 

The Civil Air Patrol has now taken command of the operation and they are joined by numerous local resources from Potter, McKean, Cameron and Elk counties. 

Regular briefing will occur throughout the operations as more information becomes available."

Original post: Oct. 17, 12:23 p.m. 

Emergency responders from Potter and McKean counties are currently searching for a possible downed aircraft. Scanner reports first came in just before 10 p.m. Sunday for a land rescue due to a possible downed aircraft, reportedly with three people on board. 

According to Potter County Emergency Services, as of 12:30 p.m. today, the search is focused in the Keating Township area of Route 155. Dean Predmore, Training & Operations Manager for Potter County Emergency Services, is stationed at Austin Fire Department. Several Potter and McKean fire departments and emergency personal have responded for the search, as well as DCNR and the Civil Air Patrol. 

A representative with the Potter Emergency Services office said a press release will be sent to media later today. When asked if reports of a downed aircraft are valid, a representative from the office said, "I can't say yes or no. Those are the reports." 


BUFFALO (WKBW) - Authorities in Pennsylvania say they have found a small plane that had been missing since Sunday night . The McKean County Sheriff's Office confirms that search teams found the aircraft in Potter County on Monday night. 

No further details were released including the status of the plane or the three passengers who were onboard. 

Search crews had been looking for the Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II since aviation officials lost contact with the plane on Sunday night. The aircraft was flying from Richmond, Virginia to St. Catharines, Ontario when it changed course to avoid a thunderstorm. The last signal officials had from the plane came near Keating Summit, Pennsylvania. 


RICHMOND, Va. – A missing single-engine plane that departed from Richmond International Airport on Sunday afternoon en route to Ontario, Canada has been found in Potter County, Pennsylvania Monday night, according to CNN affiliate WKBW in Buffalo.

No further details were released including the status of the plane or the three passengers who were on-board.

The plane owned by St. Catharines Flying Club reportedly changed course to avoid a thunderstorm. After the change of course, the FAA lost contact with the plane near Potter County, Pennsylvania at 6:58 pm.

The Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II airplane reportedly had three people on board, according to Buffalo station WKBW.

The search for the missing plane focused in the areas of Potter, McKean, Cameron and Elk Counties just south of the New York state line in northwestern Pennsylvania.

The FAA released a statement concerning the missing plane that read:

“The FAA lost radar contact near Potter County, PA with a Piper PA28 that was enroute from Richmond International Airport to St Catherine/Niagara District Airport, Canada October 16 at 6:58 pm. The FAA issued a notice to air traffic facilities, pilots and airports to report to the FAA if they locate the aircraft. Local authorities are also conducting a search for the aircraft. This statement will be updated when more information becomes available.”


New college, aviation maintenance program in works for Atlantic County, New Jersey

Another college may soon be coming to Atlantic County, and it could provide valuable training in a growing industry in South Jersey.

Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, located in New York, has been working with the county, the New Jersey/New York Port Authority and others to bring an 18-month certification program in aircraft maintenance to the Atlantic City International Airport to provide maintenance.

The idea of utilizing the airport came in part from the so-called Angelou Report provided to Atlantic County last year. The report stated that the airport was one of the most underutilized assets the county had available.

The goal of the Vaughn College program is to train and certify people in the area and create aircraft maintenance and repair jobs at the airport.

“You have an industry that needs support, and you have a county that needs support,” said Greg Derham of the non-profit Garden State Education Group. “I really believe the opportunity is staggering.”

Derham said he has been working as an “aggregator” between the county, the port authority and the college to get the program to the county. Garden State Education Group is a non-profit that works with school districts and colleges to create quality middle class jobs.

The long-term goal is to train people in aviation maintenance and then have large airlines bring in planes from Philadelphia or New York to Atlantic City for repairs.

The training program, currently offered at the New York college, prepares students to work on aircraft of any type, according to Fred Parham, executive director of the Aviation Training Institute at Vaughn. The students are instructed and tested on maintenance for all parts of a plane, including engines and the frame.

“All of what we do is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration,” Parham said, adding that the certificate from the FAA is very attractive to many industries.

Graduates of the Aviation Training Institute have found jobs at FedEx, American Airlines, Long Island Railroad and at other companies.

But there are still some hurdles the school and the county must get past before the idea could become a reality. A college from another state cannot just start offering classes in New Jersey. But Derham said he and county officials have been working with the New Jersey Department of Labor and state lawmakers to make the idea work because no other college in the area offers a similar program.

A spokesperson for the Department of Labor did not return a request for comment.

Another question is whether students in the program will receive college credits at Vaughn on top of the certificate. Derham said a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) is required to apply, but many other details are still preliminary.

Still, Derham said the goal is to have the program up and running at the airport by next June.

“We’ve looked at a lot of different locations, but the airport is best,” he said, adding that the exact location within the airport has not been determined. “Doing it at the airport makes a lot of sense; it’s more exciting and more relevant.”

Howard Kyle, chief of staff for Atlantic County, said the airport is an important asset as the county continues to focus on the aviation industry to help expand its economy. The county is also looking forward to the development of the Stockton Aviation Research & Technology Park, which will see ground work for the first building begin at the end of October.

“It’s not just building a park or fixing an airport; it’s building an industry,” Kyle said.

Having the program set up and ready to go by June may be a lofty goal. But Derham said the hope is to have a pilot class of 50 students and then graduate about 500 students a year once the program is in full swing.


Incident occurred October 17, 2016 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (KFLL), Florida

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The north runway was closed Monday morning at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after a small plane experienced landing gear issues.

Broward Sheriff's Office Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles said the Cape Air plane, which had "Resorts World Super Flights" emblazoned on the side, landed on pontoons.

Airport officials said no one was injured.

The runway reopened shortly after noon.


Piper PA-18A 150, N311Q: Incident occurred October 14, 2016 in Dillingham, Alaska

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Anchorage FSDO-03


Date: 14-OCT-16
Time: 02:45:00Z
Regis#: N311Q
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA18
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Alaska

Cessna TR182 Turbo Skylane RG, N2526S: Incident occurred October 16, 2016 in Benson, Cochise County, Arizona

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Scottsdale FSDO-07


Date: 16-OCT-16
Time: 15:30:00Z
Regis#: N2526S
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 182
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Minor
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Arizona

Buckeye Breeze, Calhoun County Sheriff's Office, N9300K: Incident occurred October 14, 2016 in Lakeview, Baxter County, Arkansas


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Little Rock FSDO-11


Date: 14-OCT-16
Time: 21:02:00Z
Regis#: N9300K
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: Minor
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)
State: Arkansas

Lancair Legacy, N767EM: Incident occurred October 15, 2016 in Cedar Key, Levy County, Florida

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Orlando FSDO-15


Date: 15-OCT-16
Time: 13:45:00Z
Regis#: N767EM
Aircraft Make: LANCAIR
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Florida

Maule M-7-260C, N10PZ: Incident occurred October 14, 2016 in Bedford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Boston FSDO-61


Date: 14-OCT-16
Time: 11:15:00Z
Regis#: N10PZ
Aircraft Make: MAULE
Aircraft Model: M7
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: TAXI (TXI)
State: Massachusetts

Piper PA 46-350P, N77TP: Incident occurred October 14, 2016 in Bay Saint Louis, Hancock County, Mississippi


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Jackson FSDO-31


Date: 14-OCT-16
Time: 23:46:00Z
Regis#: N77TP
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA46
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Mississippi