Friday, November 18, 2016

Want to Ride-Share With a Dubious Pilot? The legislative language the authors support would override the Federal Aviation Administration safety regulations

The Wall Street Journal  
Opinion - Letters
Nov. 18, 2016 2:52 p.m. ET

Jonathan Riches and Thomas P. Gross’s “Ride-Sharing for Pilots Is No Flight of Fancy” (op-ed, Nov. 16) suggests the Federal Aviation Administration is barring pilots from using the internet to take advantage of the share economy. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is part of a campaign to convince people it is now acceptable to allow the public to ride-share with private pilots with potentially little flight time or training for challenging weather conditions. As the U.S. Court of Appeals noted in one of several legal rebukes issued to the authors’ clients, “Pilots communicating to defined and limited groups remain free to invite passengers for common-purpose expense-sharing flights . . . so long as they share a common purpose and do not hold themselves out as offering services to the public.”

Consistent with previous attempts to offer the same service using telephone-based technology, the FAA determined the proposed service cited in the article requires additional safety certifications for both the pilots and their aircraft. It is instructive to look at the legislative language the authors support. It would override the FAA’s safety regulations, something unnecessary if the only issue was internet communication. We doubt the Supreme Court will grant certiorari in this matter because it is neither a novel question of law nor are there any disputes between the lower courts as to the FAA’s interpretation. The National Air Transportation Association will continue to educate lawmakers on how the authors’ clients are simply selling old wine in a new bottle to ultimately undermine the safety of the flying public.

Martin H. Hiller


National Air Transportation Assn. Washington

Original article can be found here:

Ride-Sharing for Pilots Is No Flight of Fancy: Supreme Court decision to review Flytenow v. Federal Aviation Administration could make airplane flight-sharing an option for Americans

The Wall Street Journal
November 15, 2016 6:54 p.m. ET

From Uber to Airbnb, the “sharing economy” is revolutionizing industries by letting companies connect directly with consumers. If the Supreme Court decides to review Flytenow v. FAA, Americans could benefit from cost-sharing in the airline industry.

In late 2014 the Federal Aviation Administration banned private pilots from communicating travel plans and sharing flight expenses over the internet. That order shut down Flytenow, a startup that connected pilots and cost-sharing passengers online.

Around the same time, the European Aviation Safety Agency found compelling reasons to allow the very same cost-sharing operations in Europe. On Aug. 26, the agency authorized cost-sharing for general aviation flights in 32 countries. At least two companies similar to Flytenow, called Wingly and Off We Fly, now operate in the European Union.

In American aviation, cost-sharing isn’t a new thing. For over 50 years the FAA has allowed pilots and passengers to communicate about cost-sharing via email and phone as well as by posting notices on airport bulletin boards.

With seed money from Silicon Valley, Flytenow brought that practice into the digital age. And it was working until the FAA shut down the startup. The agency claimed that if a private pilot flying a four-passenger airplane used Flytenow to communicate travel plans and find people to share his expenses, that pilot should be regulated as a commercial flight operation.

Yet the FAA ignored a key difference between commercial and general aviation: Commercial pilots provide services to the public for profit; Flytenow pilots merely share expenses. By regulation, flight-sharing pilots must pay at least a pro rata share of flight expenses, so they can never earn a profit. The FAA’s conclusion also missed that pilots have a First Amendment right to communicate their noncommercial travel plans with others, even over the internet.

The FAA’s job is to ensure safety. Yet its rationale for deeming Flytenow dangerous is based on pre-internet policies. Web-based flight-sharing arrangements, where pilots are screened, and their experience and credentials are displayed for potential passengers, are actually safer than simply posting flight times on an airport bulletin board.

The Goldwater Institute challenged the FAA’s legal interpretation on behalf of Flytenow and the Supreme Court is expected to decide within the next few weeks whether to review the case. Meanwhile, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has passed an amendment to its FAA reauthorization bill that would authorize web-facilitated flight sharing.

The Flytenow case presents an opportunity for the Supreme Court and Congress to say consumers and service providers should be free to choose which innovations work for them. If Europe can ensure the safety of these tech innovations, then so can the U.S.

Mr. Riches, director of national litigation at the Goldwater Institute, represents Flytenow before the Supreme Court. Mr. Gross is an attorney and a private pilot.

Original article can be found here:

Cessna 172N Skyhawk, N6610D, registered to Sac Aero Flying Club Inc: Fatal accident occurred November 18, 2016 near Half Moon Bay Airport (KHAF), San Mateo County, California

Melissa Claire Magee 
Stephen Magee, husband and pilot of the Cessna 172, suffered serious injuries when the plane crashed into a home in the Moss Beach area on November 18, 2016. Stephen Magee is an original member of the Sac Aero Flying Club and which owned the Cessna 172N Skyhawk.

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Oakland, California
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Moss Beach, CA
Accident Number: WPR17FA023
Date & Time: 11/18/2016, 1117 PST
Registration: N6610D
Aircraft: CESSNA 172N
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Turbulence encounter
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On November 18, 2016, about 1117 Pacific standard time, a Cessna 172N, N6610D, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while on final approach to Half Moon Bay Airport (HAF), Half Moon Bay, California. The private pilot sustained serious injuries, and the passenger was fatally injured. The personal flight was operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which originated from Sacramento Executive Airport (SAC), Sacramento, California, about 1015, and was destined for HAF.

The pilot reported that, before departing SAC, he checked the weather for HAF, which indicated winds were from the southwest. He subsequently departed and requested visual flight rules flight following to HAF. The pilot stated that while approaching HAF, he made position reports on the airport's common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) and requested traffic information. Someone responded that the wind was from the southeast up to 15 knots (kts) and that runway 12 was in use.

The pilot stated that he entered the airport traffic pattern for runway 12, and that as the airplane entered the final leg of the traffic pattern, the visual approach slope indicator (VASI) lights indicated that the airplane was high. At that time, the airplane was at an altitude about 800 ft mean sea level (msl) and at an airspeed of 65 kts when he reduced power to intercept the VASI glideslope.

As the airplane continued on the final approach path with full flaps (30°) at 60 kts and about 500 ft msl, it began to encounter light turbulence. The pilot was concerned that if the turbulence continued during the approach, he would be vulnerable to strong buffeting at normal approach speed, which might lead to a rough landing; as a countermeasure, he elected to land at a higher airspeed. The pilot then retracted the flaps to less than 20° while applying additional power to stay on the glideslope. The pilot added that, immediately after making these adjustments, he felt strong turbulence violently rock the airplane, which caused the wings to "dip," first to the left, and then to the right. He "simultaneously" felt a strong downdraft, and the airplane entered a steep right bank. The pilot stated that he fought to level the wings and gain altitude by applying full power, slight back pressure on the yoke, and then left aileron and rudder, but nothing seemed to correct the descent and right bank attitude. The pilot stated that he observed runway 12 come into view about 90° to his right but could not reach the runway due to the airplane's low altitude. Shortly thereafter, the pilot noticed large trees coming into view. Wanting to avoid trees in his flight path, the pilot stated that he maneuvered and tried to drag the airplane's tail on the ground. He next recalled closing his eyes to protect them, followed by impact. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 64, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam:  04/15/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 07/21/2015
Flight Time:  1145 hours (Total, all aircraft), 884 hours (Total, this make and model), 1011 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 17 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 10 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. He reported 1,145 total hours of flight experience, with 884 hours in the accident airplane make and model. Further, the pilot reported that he had flown 16.7 hours, 10.4 hours, and 1 hour in the preceding 90 days, 30 days, and 24 hours respectively. His most recent flight review was conducted on July 21, 2015, in the same make and model as the accident airplane.

The pilot was issued a third-class Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical certificate on April 15, 2015, with the limitation that he must have available glasses for near vision. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CESSNA
Registration: N6610D
Model/Series: 172N N
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1979
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 17272897
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 04/05/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2299 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 173 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 5768 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-360 SERIES
Rated Power: 180 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

The airplane was a single-engine, high wing, fixed landing gear, four-seat Cessna 172N, manufactured in 1979. It was powered by a normally aspirated, 180-horsepower Lycoming O-360-A4M engine, serial number RL-12115-36E, that drove a Sensenich, metal, 2-bladed, fixed-pitch propeller. A review of maintenance records revealed that the last annual inspection was accomplished on April 5, 2016, at an engine total time of 1,068.9 hours, and an airframe total time of 5,768 hours. The airplane and engine had accumulated a total of 173.2 hours since its most recent inspection. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: HAF, 66 ft msl
Observation Time: 1115 PST
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 155°
Lowest Cloud Condition:  Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C / 3°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots/ 14 knots, 190°
Visibility (RVR): 
Altimeter Setting: 30.03 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Sacramento, CA (SAC)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Half Moon Bay, CA (HAF)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1015 PST
Type of Airspace: Class G 

At 1115, the HAF weather reporting facility, located about ½ nm southeast of the accident site, reported wind from 190° at 10 kts, with gusts to 14 kts, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, temperature 17° C, dew point 3° C, and an altimeter setting of 30.03 inches of mercury.

A weather study revealed that a weak temperature inversion between 400 and 600 ft msl was present near the accident site at the time of the accident. Between 1100 and 1200 PST, the vertical environment changed from an unstable layer to a stable layer. The study found that the stable layer trapped any updrafts or downdrafts created by the wind flowing over the rise in terrain to the west and southwest of the airport. These changes created an environment favorable for low level wind shear and turbulence below 600 ft msl.

FAA Advisory Circular 00-6B (AC-00-06B), section, describes how areas near temperature inversions are favored for wind shear conditions. The AC notes that "Strong wind shears often occur across temperature inversion layers, which can generate turbulence." 

Airport Information

Airport: Half Moon Bay (HAF)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt; Concrete
Airport Elevation: 66 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 12
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5000 ft / 150 ft
VFR Approach/Landing:  Precautionary Landing; Traffic Pattern 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude:  37.520000, -122.511389 

The airplane descended into a residential area about 1,822 ft northwest of the HAF runway 12 threshold. The initial point of impact was identified by two parallel rubber tire marks on a street about 245 ft southwest of the main wreckage. The airplane continued in a northeast direction across an open field that was about 100 ft wide, and subsequently struck a wooden fence that separated the field from a home. The airplane then continued on a northeast heading as it impacted the southeast corner of the roof of the home, which was followed by impact with a utility truck. The airplane's right wing tip and a landing gear strut were found in the front yard of the home.

The wreckage path then continued about 60 ft in a northeasterly direction. The nose landing gear was located about 30 ft northeast of the utility truck, and the main wreckage came to rest on the southwest corner of a second home. The lower fuselage came to rest flush against the brick structure of the residence with the engine firewall resting upright on the ground. The empennage separated just behind the rear passenger seats and was folded over and on top of the cabin, with the vertical stabilizer and rudder resting on the ground. The horizontal stabilizer and elevator remained attached to the fuselage. The cabin and cockpit areas were both destroyed by impact forces.

The left wing remained attached to the fuselage; the wing strut remained attached. The left flap and the inboard half of the aileron remained attached to the left wing.

The right wing, which had separated from the fuselage, impacted a white cargo van that was parked in an adjacent driveway about 7 ft from the main wreckage site.

About 4 ft of the outboard right aileron was separated from the wing and located next to the fuselage. The inboard section of the right aileron remained attached to the wing. Additionally, the right flap remained attached to the wing and appeared to be in the fully retracted position. The leading edge of the wing sustained impact damage. About 5 ft of the leading edge skin was separated at the wing's mid-span section. The outboard leading edge exhibited a concave depression.

The engine, propeller, and one of the landing gear struts were located under the right wing. The left and right main landing gear wheels were separated from the wreckage and found about 42 ft north of the fuselage, next to the backyard fence of the second residence. 

Additional Information

Performance Study

An airplane performance study based on radar data revealed that the airplane approached HAF from the north and entered at 45° to the upwind leg for runway 12. The airplane's speed was about 86 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS) and its altitude about 1,000 ft mean sea level (msl) when the pilot completed the turn for a left downwind to runway 12.

The airplane slowed to about 80 KIAS and descended to about 700 ft msl on the downwind leg. The airplane then entered a continuous, 180° left turn from the downwind to final legs of the traffic pattern. Radar data indicated that, at 1116:20, the airspeed was about 57 KIAS, the altitude was 500 ft msl (about 440 ft above ground level), and the airplane was at the apex of a 10°-bank left turn to final. At this point, the airplane's pitch angle changed from about 5° nose up to about -3° nose down, and the airplane accelerated as it descended until impact, which occurred about 1117:10.

The airplane's Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) estimates that the airplane will stall between 31 kts calibrated airspeed (KCAS) and 40 KCAS, depending on the airplane's flap position and bank angle. Additionally, the POH recommends "a slightly higher approach speed under turbulent air conditions." This is to compensate for any sudden loss in the headwind component, which would result in a momentary loss of airspeed and could lead to an aerodynamic stall above the published stall speed. Although the POH does not define "slightly higher", the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook recommends adding one-half of the reported surface wind gust to the normal final approach airspeed when landing in turbulent conditions.

The handbook states that the degree to which flaps should be extended during a crosswind approach and landing vary with the airplane's handling characteristics, as well as the wind velocity. Additionally, the handbook advises that retraction of wing flaps during an approach for landing "suddenly decreases lift and causes the airplane to sink rapidly."

NTSB Identification: WPR17FA023
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, November 18, 2016 in Moss Beach, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA 172N, registration: N6610D
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

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

On November 18, 2016, about 1120 Pacific standard time, a Cessna 172N, N6610D, sustained substantial damage after impacting terrain and objects in a residential area near Moss Beach, California, following a loss of control while on final approach to Half Moon Bay Airport (HAF), Half Moon Bay, California. The private pilot sustained serious injuries, and the non-pilot rated passenger was fatally injured. The personal cross-country flight was being operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulation Part 91, and a flight plan was not filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which originated from the Sacramento Executive Airport (SAC), Sacramento, California, about 1015, with HAF as the destination.

In a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge five days after the accident, the pilot reported that when he was about one-half mile from the end of runway 12 at an altitude of about 500 feet, with flaps full and an airspeed of 60 knots, he encountered light turbulence. He then reduced the flap setting to between 15 to 20 degrees, and increased power. At about this time he encountered very strong turbulence, which caused the wings to rock back and forth, followed by a very sudden downward push, which then resulted in the airplane going into a hard right bank attitude. The pilot stated that he tried to counter the right turn with an increase in power and left control yoke input, but the airplane continued in an uncommanded sweeping right turn. The pilot further stated that the airplane remained in the right turn very low to the ground, would not respond to the left control yoke input to counter the right turn, and would not gain altitude with the throttle pushed fully in. The pilot opined that as he was getting lower and closer to the ground, the airplanes' wings started to respond to the left control yoke input. However, at about this time he observed trees and houses in front of him. The pilot reported that he then attempted to slow the airplane down by reducing power and pulling back on the control yoke in an effort to minimize impact with terrain. He added that he thought the airplane impacted terrain in a right-wing-low attitude, but at this point everything was a blur until the airplane came to a stop, at which time he remembered his legs were pinned under the instrument panel. The pilot stated that prior to and during the flight leading up to the accident, there were not anomalies with the airplane or engine. The HAF weather reporting facility at the time of the accident was wind 190 degrees at 10 knots, gusts to 14 knots, sky clear, temperature 17C, dew point 3C, and an altimeter reading of 30.03 inches of mercury.

The wreckage was recovered to a secure storage area for further examination.

The San Mateo County Coroner's office has identified 57-year-old Melissa Magee as the deceased person in a small plane crash that hit Moss Beach Friday morning. 

The incident occurred around 11:20 a.m. A Cessna 172N Skyhawk belonging to the Sac Aero Flying Club in Sacramento crashed into a home near Park Way, just north of the Half Moon Bay Airport. 

Magee was onboard the plane with one other person who has not been identified. On Friday, the San Mateo County Coroner's office confirmed that the woman had died at the scene. The other occupant was reportedly flown by helicopter to Stanford Hospital with injuries. On Saturday, the Coroner's Office said it could not confirm the condition of the other occupant nor identify who was flying the plane. 

The plane’s tail number indicated it was owned by the Sac Aero Flying Club. The plane had departed from the Sacramento Executive Airport and was headed to the Half Moon Bay Airport, confirmed FAA Public Affairs Manager Ian Gregor.

Fire crews, California Highway Patrol, San Mateo County Sheriff’s deputies, PG&E employees, and Federal Air and Aviation officials responded to the scene.

One house in the neighborhood appeared to have been hit by the plane, although most of the structure appeared undamaged. The owners were not home at the time, sheriff’s deputies said, though they had been notified of the crash. A truck parked next to the home also appeared to have been damaged.

One eyewitness reported noticing that the plane was in distress before it crashed.

“The plane was tilted sideways,” said Marie Cabural a Half Moon Bay resident who was driving in the neighborhood with a friend when she noticed the plane overhead before it crashed into the house. “We thought, that’s going to crash.” 

The plane is owned by a group of owners who use a hangar at the south end of the Sacramento Executive Airport, said Nik Stroiney, owner of Sacramento Aviation Inc., one of the flight schools and aircraft rental companies at the airport where the plane departed from. Stroiney said Sac Aero Flying Club is an informal club and not affiliated with any of the flight schools at the airport. He said he did not personally know any of the plane's owners. Privately owned planes and charters make up most of the airport’s traffic, said an airport spokesperson.


MOSS BEACH (CBS SF) — One person is dead after a small plane crashed into a home in Moss Beach not far from the Half Moon Bay Airport Friday morning, authorities said.

San Mateo County Fire received a call at 11:18 a.m. of a small plane crashing north of the Half Moon Bay Airport.

According to fire officials, the plane ended up at 1065 Park Way near Orval Avenue, at edge of a residential neighborhood near the airport. Initially one person was reported injured, but authorities later confirmed that one person was dead.

Fire crews responded to the scene with heavy rescue equipment. The San Mateo County Sheriff’s office also responded.

A man, apparently the pilot, was pulled from the wreckage alive. Minutes later he was airlifted to a trauma center.

His passenger — reported to be his wife — was killed.

No one on the ground was hurt.

The Cessna 172N Skyhawk airplane had flown out of Sacramento Executive Airport Friday morning, according to authorities.

Video from Chopper 5 showed the wreckage of the plane at one end of a home. There appeared to be some damage where the plane hit the structure, but most of the home seemed to be intact.

Patti Gallinetti lives one block away and saw the dramatic rescue unfold.

“It was just one crash, like metal. Just BOOM!” explained Gallinetti. “It’s an experience that I hope we don’t have too often.”

Damage on the ground showed the plane first clipped the corner of one house, then smashed into a parked pickup truck before tumbling across the street into the garage portion of the other house.

One experienced Half Moon Bay pilot told KPIX 5 the position of the plane indicated that it was probably on final approach when it went down.

“It could have been anything. Fuel exhaustion, pilot error, pilot incapacitation. It’s extremely rare,” said pilot George Golda.  “I’ve been living here for 35 years.  This is the only crash I’ve ever seen.”    NTSB and FAA investigators will take over the scene to try and find out exactly what caused the crash.

Story and video:

MOSS BEACH (KTVU & BCN) -- One person was killed and a second person was hurt when a small plane that departed from Sacramento and was en route to the Bay Area crashed into a home Friday morning near the Half Moon Bay Airport in Moss Beach, authorities said

The crash of the Cessna 172N Skyhawk with two people on board was reported at 11:18 a.m. in the 1000 block of Park Avenue, fire and Federal Aviation Administration officials said. The identities of the victims were pending. 

One victim died at the scene. The pilot was airlifted to a local hospital for treatment of serious injuries.  It was not clear if anyone on the ground was injured during the incident. We're told the family was not home at the time of the crash.

"We saw it landing and doing some circling," said witness Ismal Sanchez.

When it came down, it appears it clipped the roof of one home, damaged a utility truck and then crashed into another home's garage.

"I heard a noise which I know now is a plane was really strange. It was like crunching metal, it sounded like a car wreck except it was longer than a car wreck would be," said neighbor Alan Brennan.

Ismal Sanchez says he was working in the neighborhood and ran to help when he heard the crash.

He says they feared the plane would explode so he had to act fast.

"I shut the electricity from the house because there was a car and gas spilling on the ground so it was kind of risky but when you want to save someone you don't think about that," said Sanchez.

Meanwhile, he says others tried to help the pilot who was trapped in the plane. I heard the pilot say 'my wife my wife'," said Sanchez.

"The firefighters were taking him out of the front driveway of the house in between the wreckage of the plane," said neighbor Jake Ward.

Emergency responders worked to secure the area for federal investigators, sheriff's spokesman Detective Salvador Zuno said.

A spokesman for the FAA said the plane had departed from Sacramento Executive Airport and was heading to Half Moon Bay Airport when the accident occurred.

Story and video:

Beech F33A Bonanza, N8230Y: Incident occurred November 16, 2016 at Greenville Airport (KGRE), Bond County, Illinois

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Springfield FSDO-19


Date: 16-NOV-16
Time: 23:45:00Z
Regis#: N8230Y
Aircraft Mak BEECH
Aircraft Model: 33
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Minor
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Illinois

As previously reported on WGEL, an airplane made a wheels-up landing Wednesday evening at the Greenville Airport, meaning the plane’s landing gear was not functional. Randy Vasel of Greenville was the pilot of the plane.

Vasel told WGEL that he was flying with Mark Owensby Wednesday. 

They left just before 4 PM and when it was time to land, the gear malfunctioned. 

Vasel said they tried to deploy the landing gear manually, but that didn’t work either. 

Vasel contacted the airport to tell them about the situation and Greenville Fire Protection District personnel, ambulance personnel, and emergency helicopters were called to the scene.

Fortunately, Vasel was able to land the plane without incident.

Vasel said he got a little excited when the emergency situation arose, but he remembered his training. He said he was able to remain calm through the ordeal.

Vasel, who has been flying planes since he was 15, told us the close call Wednesday night would not deter him from flying planes and he’s looking forward to getting back in an airplane as soon as possible.

Story and audio:

Mooney M20C, N6XM: Incident occurred November 17, 2016 in Plattsmouth, Cass County, Nebraska

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lincoln, Nebraska

Aircraft on taxi onto runway. Gear collapsed.

Date: 17-NOV-16
Time: 22:40:00Z
Regis#: N6XM
Aircraft Make: MOONEY
Aircraft Model: M20C
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Minor
Flight Phase: TAXI (TXI)
State: Nebraska

AIRCRAFT:   1964 Mooney M20C SN# 2805   N6XM

ENGINE:       Lycoming O-360-A1D SN# L-32992-36A

PROPELLER: Hartzell HC-C2YK-18F  SN# CH42552B 

APPROXIMATE TOTAL HOURS (estimated TT & TSMO from logbooks or other information):

ENGINE: As of last annual on 11/1/2016 1,228.4 SMOH and 4,928.4 TT        

PROPELLER: Unknown               

AIRFRAME: As of last annual on 11/1/2016 6,663.4 TTSN                     

OTHER EQUIPMENT: Garmin GMA-340 audio, GNS-530W, GTX-330ES transponder, KX-155 with G/S indicator, HSI, EI digital tach, Insight G2 engine analyzer, ACK CYA-100 AOA, autopilot (log entry reflects System 30 autopilot repaired on 12/15/2015 when the GTX330ES was installed and configured to the GNS530W), Powerflow tuned exhaust    

 DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT: On 11/17 landing gear collapsed on runway during taxi 

DESCRIPTION OF DAMAGES: Belly abrasions, landing gear doors, flaps, propeller, sudden engine stoppage.  Aircraft disassembled for transport by de-mating aft fuselage and removing engine.    

LOCATION OF AIRCRAFT:  Dawson Aircraft in Clinton, AR              

REMARKS: Recommend inspection.  Avionics removed and secured with storage facility.  Provided airframe logs start at 2/15/1983 at 3,588.7 TTSN.  Provided engine log starts 6/12/2015 at 988 SMOH and 4,688 TTSN.  Earlier logs lost and not provided.  

Read more here:

New technology helps cut flight diversions at Friedman Memorial Airport: Alaska Airlines’ sister carrier, Horizon, gets Federal Aviation Administration approval

Diversions of Horizon Air flights bound for Friedman Memorial Airport should drop dramatically thanks to a new FAA-approved instrument-approach procedure.

Horizon’s sister company, Alaska Airlines, announced Tuesday that it had been granted approval to start using the required navigation performance instrument approach procedure at Friedman.

That means that flight diversions due to inclement weather should plunge by 95 percent, from 40 to 50 per year down to one or two, according to a news release from Alaska Airlines.

The technology will allow planes to take safer flight paths and ensure reliable landings. It removes the need to have ground-based navigation aids, because the technology has a precise, three-dimensional curved flight path to follow, according to the news release.

The planes will have onboard navigation technology and global-positioning systems, which give pilots a more precise flight path and allows them into an airport at a lower altitude or with limited visibility.

That is a common constraint on flights into Friedman Memorial Airport, where pilots often have to grapple with low-hanging cloud cover.

“Friedman Memorial Airport is located deep in a valley with surrounding mountain peaks,” said Cody Hargreaves, RNP engineer at Alaska Airlines. “As a result, instrument approaches used by pilots are often hampered by low cloud ceiling and extensive visibility requirements, resulting in a higher-than-average percentage of flight cancellations or diversions.”

Horizon has been working on the RNP technology for a decade, and estimates it will save about $600,000 annually by allowing flights to land at Friedman when they would have been otherwise diverted to another airport.

Chris Pomeroy, airport manager at Friedman, said the new technology was welcome as air traffic increases at Friedman for the holidays.

Horizon will be operating seasonal flights into and out of Friedman starting Nov. 23, with a Thanksgiving flight from Seattle to Sun Valley.

Horizon will then have daily service to Los Angeles starting Dec. 16, and twice weekly service to Portland, Ore., on Dec. 17.

“Just in time for the ski season and holiday travel, the expected improvement in reliability this brings to our airport during inclement weather will greatly benefit our customers traveling to the area as well as local residents,” Pomeroy said in the news release. “This is a fantastic complement to the other recent facility improvements, including our newly renovated passenger terminal and new concessions.”

Alaska Airlines has used this RNP technology for two decades, and uses it at airports in Alaska, San Diego, Pullman, Wash., and Palm Springs, Calif.

It will start using the technology in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., later this month, according to the news release.


Rachel on the Road: Shelby County Airport Flight School (with video)

CALERA, Ala. (WIAT) — Rachel on the Road? Or Rachel in the Air? We took a trip to a non-controlled flight school at the Shelby County Airport, also known as Over The Mountain Aviation, and learned how to fly!

The airport is located in Calera at 265 Weathervane Road and teaches a wide variety of students how to become a pilot and possibly start a career in aviation. People of all ages, even as young as 13 and 14, are able to take one-on-one lessons. At age 16 you can acquire your pilot’s license and at age 17 you can fly the plane solo.

We met a student at both Hewitt Trussville High School and the Flight School that is just about a month away from becoming a licensed pilot, while still a high school student.

“Hopefully in 10 years, I’d like to be a fighter pilot in the US Air Force,” Kenneth Clay said. Kenneth has been a student at the flight school for the last two years.

You are able to make your own schedule with your personal instructor. The license process can then take about three months or two years depending on how often you are able to take lessons.

For more information on becoming a student, call (205)670-6FLY. If you a interested in learning how to fly, but unsure if you want to become a student at the flight school, click here for details on the “Discovery Flight.”

Story and video:

Agusta A109S Grand, N91NM, North Memorial Health Care: Accident occurred September 17, 2016 near Chandler Field Airport (KAXN), Alexandria, Douglas County, Minnesota

National Transportation Safety Board  -  Aviation Accident Preliminary Report:


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Minneapolis FSDO-15

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA372
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Saturday, September 17, 2016 in Alexandria, MN
Aircraft: AGUSTA A109, registration: N91NM
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 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 September 17, 2016, at 0207 central daylight time, an Agusta S.p.A A109S helicopter, N91NM, impacted trees and terrain near Chandler Field Airport (AXN), Alexandria, Minnesota. The commercial rated pilot and two crew members sustained serious injuries and the helicopter was destroyed. The helicopter was registered to North Memorial Health Care, Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, and operated by North Memorial Medical Center under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as a positioning flight. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed. The helicopter departed Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport (BRD), Brainerd, Minnesota about 0135 and was destined for the Douglas County Hospital helipad, Alexandria, Minnesota. 

The pilot stated that he received a call for a flight request about 0100, accepted the flight, and then filed an IFR flight plan to AXN. He was in radio contact with air traffic control (ATC), but radar contact was lost about half way through the flight. About 20 miles from AXN he noticed clouds quickly forming underneath the helicopter. The pilot was cleared for and attempted the RNAV GPS 22 approach to AXN as clouds were still forming beneath the helicopter. The pilot initiated a missed approach by utilizing the "go around" function of the helicopters autopilot. During the missed approach, the helicopter made an uncommanded left bank followed by a right bank. The pilot attempted to counteract the bank by applying opposite cyclic control. 

The helicopter impacted several tall trees and then the ground and continued into a wooded area. Several nearby residents were awake at the time of the accident and heard the helicopters engines and then the sound of the impact. Two other witnesses were outside of their homes east of the airport and observed the helicopter flying overhead prior to the accident. 

At 0201, the AXN weather observation recorded wind from 290 degrees at 10 knots, 9 miles visibility, scattered clouds at 400 ft, broken clouds at 3,600 ft, temperature 57 degrees F, dew point 57 degrees F, and altimeter setting 29.87 inches of mercury. 

At 0209, the AXN weather observation recorded wind from 290 degrees at 12 knots, 4 miles visibility, mist, broken clouds at 300 ft, temperature 57 degrees F, dew point 57 degrees F, and altimeter setting 29.87 inches of mercury. 

The helicopter has been retained for further examination.

For the first time, we're hearing from three medics who survived when their air ambulance crashed in Alexandria.

It happened two months ago, one still remains in the hospital.

"I was ejected from the helicopter and was found on the ground," flight paramedic Miles Weske said. 

"My vertebra from the impact of the force shattered," flight nurse Scott Scepaniak said.

"Helicopters are typically not very survivable, not in a crash like that," says North Memorial Air Care pilot Joshua Jones.

It was 2 a.m. Saturday morning, Sept. 17.

An air ambulance heading from Brainerd to Alexandria crashed just before landing to pick up a patient.

"At some point I noticed the aircraft had gone into a hard left bank, so it was turning sharp left, and then I remember a sharp right, which was probably me over-correcting," Jones said. 

Jones was ejected through the front windshield, he broke bones from his shoulders to his feet.

"I remember my back hurting," Scepaniak said.

Scepaniak was pinned between the helicopter and a tree.

He remembers unbuckling his seatbelt and taking off his helmet, and said he immediately heard voices.

"I remember people talking, trying to find us, trying to figure out who was all there, who was all injured," he said. 

Turns out where they crashed was the first miracle.

"God was very gracious because somehow we ended up in a doctor's yard," Jones said.

The second miracle was Miles Weske.

"The first day we didn't know if he was going to make it," said Brook Weber, Weske's fiancée.

Weske, a flight paramedic, has no memory of the crash.

"I ended up somehow on the ground about 40 feet from the aircraft," he said.

He broke his neck, back, ribs, leg, ankle, had a lacerated liver and bleeding in the brain.

"The priest came in to give me last rites, that's where we were at," he said.

Weske and his fiancée are both flight medics, they've talked about this exact scenario.

"Not really expecting it could happen, but aware it could, and it did," he says.  

When Weske arrived at North Memorial Medical Center 60 days ago he was given only a 1 percent chance of surviving this crash, now he's looking at leaving the hospital this week.

"I'm astonished, and grateful the people who were there, were there," he said. 

The North Memorial family came together Tuesday to celebrate these men, thank them for what they do, and wish them well as they continue to recover.

"I'm doing great, I'm down to two Tylenol before I go to bed, I hope to be walking next week," Jones said with a smile.

Jones and Scepaniak plan to fly again.

Weske isn't sure if his injuries will allow it.

But for all three, the irony of this horrific crash isn't lost on them.

"It hits you, that you leave trying to save a patient and you become a patient, it's a tough thing to deal with," Scepaniak said. 

The National Transportation Safety Board says the cause of the crash hasn't been determined, but weather had moved into the area.

Weske and Weber had planned to marry last month, their wedding has now been rescheduled for January.

Weske is bound and determined to walk down the aisle.

You can visit a Go Fund Me page set up to help Weske here.

Story and video:

Puget Sound Business Journal Interview: Randall Berg returns to chart King County Airport-Boeing Field’s future

The mayor of Auburn had some advice for Randall Berg when he reported for his first career job at the city’s tiny municipal airport.

“He walked me outside into the misty rain to have a chat. Why are we standing in the rain, I thought to myself,” Berg said. “He looked up into the sky and said, ‘Randy, this is Puget Sound. If you stay one year and see the good weather along with the rain, it’ll be home for the rest of your life.’”

The words of wisdom “went in one ear and out the other,” said Berg, who had just graduated from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, with a degree in airport management.

He and his wife left Auburn after four years for a job at the South Lake Tahoe airport in California. But the Bergs had friends here and kept coming back, sometimes three or four times a year.

“It felt like coming home. As I got older, I kept hearing the mayor’s words,” he said.

Forty years after his wet welcome, Berg is home again – for good, he said. He spent almost 15 years in Salt Lake City and applied to a job posting to be the boss of King County International.

The Seattle airport, also known as Boeing Field, has more than 180,000 takeoffs and landings every year.

He started the job in April.

“For me, this is going full circle. Auburn is 15 miles away as the crow flies,” he said, watching airplanes taxi by his office window. “You don’t get to do that much in my line of work.”

You’re the boss of Seattle’s “other” airport. Why is Boeing Field so important to the city, its economy and aerospace players? It’s an economic engine for the city, the county and region as a whole. We are directly responsible for 5,500 jobs here, and when you include indirect jobs, it’s 16,000. Our economic impact is about $3.5 billion a year. That’s huge. Yet King County International Airport-Boeing Field sits on just 600 acres. That’s a postage stamp. We have multiple aviation users here: light recreational, flight instruction, business aircraft, air cargo and large corporate aircraft. There are 150 businesses at the airport of all sizes, from flight schools to charter air carriers to Boeing, to aircraft repair centers and parts providers, to corporate flight departments. It’s kind of a melting pot of aviation, one of the busiest general-purpose airports in the U.S.

How did you get interested in aviation and airports? I was lucky to start in the 1960s when I was in high school. I was what we called back then a “gas boy” at Van Nuys Airport in Southern California. It was an era when recreational flying was at its peak but business and corporate aviation was just beginning. I met famous entertainers and politicians who owned airplanes in the L.A. basin. You’d get a chance to talk with them. My uncle was also a pilot, mechanic and retired Federal Aviation Administration executive. When I look back at my career, it was the most fun I had. To this day, I look out my window and watch people on the ramp, especially in pouring rain, and my heart still goes out to them.

One of your big responsibilities is to create Boeing Field’s new master plan. What’s involved? A master plan is a high-level view – I call it a helicopter view – of an airport facility as a whole. With it, we are looking at where the airport will be 15 to 20 years down the road and what challenges there will be to forecast what we’ll need to meet them. It’s a two-year study. Right now, we’re on time and on budget. The Federal Aviation Administration and the county will review and approve the plan, which in turn allows you to be eligible for grants to fund overall capital requirements. This is an opportunity to look at what other users and business models could be here. What else is out there? Maintenance repair facilities? We have to be very cautious about how we use our most precious asset, the land here. The plan will help us look at those options and define the future role of this airport, including aligning us with other airports in the region to really tell a good story about why we all exist.

You are not only an active airport executive, but a university teacher. Why? I teach out of passion. I just can’t give it up. I started to lecture on aviation operations management 30 years ago at California State University in Los Angeles. Before moving to Seattle, I’d fly down to Los Angeles and give the only class on weekends in the whole university. I also taught in Salt Lake City. I lecture three weekends out of every quarter. I want to find ways to strengthen the education component of what happens here. Boeing Field could be something similar to a teaching hospital, a teaching airport for aviation. That’s a goal way out on the horizon.

What is something people don’t know about you? When I was young, I stuttered very, very badly. I believe learning to fly and holding a mike in the pilot seat helped me get it under control. I learned to fly at Van Nuys Airport. Back then, it was busy and had 500,000 light airplane operations a year and so there was no room for delays for a guy like me. When I picked up that mike on a takeoff, it was the scariest thing I’d ever done. I’d get stuck on the two in my call number – I do to this day – but the air traffic controllers all knew me. They’d jump in and finish my request for permission to take off and grant it.


Age: 65

Title: Director of aviation, King County International Airport-Boeing Field

Location: Seattle

Education: Bachelor of science in aviation management from Pepperdine University

Career: Berg was formerly chairman of the American Association of Airport Executives and spent almost 15 years as director of airport operations at Salt Lake City International Airport. He has held executive management positions at California airports through the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, in Long Beach, and in El Dorado County.

Noteworthy: As a student, Berg fueled a plane owned by actor James Arness, star of the TV western series “Gunsmoke,” and even flew with him.

Fast Fact: Berg is an antique car enthusiast who drives his 1960 Volkswagen Beetle on weekends.