Sunday, December 11, 2016

Beech A23-24 Musketeer Super III, N7998L: Accident occurred December 11, 2016 at Anacortes Airport (74S), Skagit County, Washington

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident. 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Seattle FSDO-01

NTSB Identification: WPR17LA037
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, December 11, 2016 in Anacortes, WA
Aircraft: BEECH A23 24, registration: N7998L
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 December 11, 2016, about 1157 Pacific standard time, a single-engine Beech A23 airplane, N7998L, departed the runway after landing at the Anacortes Airport (74S), Anacortes, Washington. The owner/pilot operated the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a personal flight. The pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to a wing and horizontal stabilizer. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local area flight and no flight plan had been filed.

According to the pilot, the landing was soft and on centerline. During the rollout, the left main landing gear collapsed, and the airplane exited the runway surface.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector traveled to the accident site and inspected the airplane. He reported damage to the metal wing and horizontal stabilizer.

Anacortes, Washington- The Anacortes Fire Department responded to reports of an airplane crash at the Anacortes Airport around 12:20 pm today.

The incident is reported to be non-injury and a small plane can be seen off the runway.


McDonnell Douglas MD-88, Delta Air Lines, N911DE: Incident occurred December 11, 2016 at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (KDTW), Michigan


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA East Michigan FSDO-23


Date: 11-DEC-16
Time: 16:33:00Z
Regis#: DAL724
Aircraft Model: MD88
Event Type: Incident
Damage: Unknown
Activity: Commercial
Flight Phase: TAXI (TXI)
Aircraft Operator: DAL-Delta Air Lines
Flight Number: DAL724

State: Michigan

The heavy snowfall today across the state of Michigan is also affecting air travel.

A Delta flight landing this morning at Detroit Metro Airport slid off a taxiway and into the grass, though one passenger who tweeted photos said "everyone's ok" and there are no reported injuries. Delta confirmed the incident this afternoon, saying none of the 65 passengers or five crew members were injured.

The flight, DL 724, departed from Buffalo at 10:05 a.m. and was scheduled for arrival at 11:27. Passengers exited the aircraft from its tail upon the rough landing.

"Delta Flight 724 ... landed and was turning from the runway onto the taxiway when it left the pavement, stopping in the snowy grass," Delta spokesman Anthony Black said in a statement. "The passengers were off-loaded and bused to the terminal about an hour late. All bags were recovered."

Detroit Metro Airport added in a statement: "Shortly before noon today, a Delta aircraft, inbound from Buffalo, NY, slid off a taxiway at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. There were no injuries. The Airport Authority and Delta Air Lines worked together to safely deplane the passengers and transport them to the terminal. Delta Air Lines is assisting any passengers impacted by the incident. The cause is under investigation.

"Despite the incident, operations are continuing at DTW. However, due to the weather conditions, travelers are reminded to check with their airline to confirm their flight status."

It was not immediately clear whether the heavy snowfall today contributed to the mishap, though the storm had forced airlines to ground more than 1,500 flights in the Great Lakes region.

Delta spokesman Black said the airline has launched an investigation to determine exactly what caused the plane to leave the pavement.

Story and photo gallery:

Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, N69286: Accident occurred December 11, 2016 in Shoreham, Suffolk County, New York

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Farmingdale FSDO-11

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report -  National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ERA17LA069
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, December 11, 2016 in Shoreham, NY
Aircraft: BEECH A36, registration: N69286
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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 December 11, 2016, about 1300 eastern standard time, a Beech A36, N69286, was substantially damaged following a total loss of engine power during cruise flight and subsequent ditching in the Long Island Sound, near Shoreham, New York. The private pilot and a passenger were not injured. The airplane departed from Long Island Mac Arthur Airport (ISP), New York, and destined for Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport (BAF), Westfield, Massachusetts. 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.

According to the pilot, after reaching a cruise altitude of 5,500 feet, the engine started running rough. The pilot then pushed the mixture, propeller, and throttle controls to the full forward position. The engine was still running rough and getting worse. The pilot then decided to turn around and go back to ISP. During the turn back to the airport, the pilot noticed oil was covering the windscreen. He then declared an emergency and asked air traffic control for vectors to Igor I Sikorsky Memorial Airport (BDR), Bridgeport, Connecticut. The air traffic controller told him to turn north to a heading of 360 degrees, however, the pilot was having trouble keeping the airplane's wings level and did not want to turn that far to the north. The pilot then requested vectors to Calverton Executive Airpark (3C8), Calverton, New York. The controller told the pilot that 3C8 was 7 miles ahead of his current position.

At that time, the engine was still producing partial power and the pilot believed he could make the airport. A few seconds later, he saw parts, which he thought were from the propeller separate from the airplane. The engine then lost total power and the pilot told the controller they would not make the airport, and were going to ditch the airplane in the Long Island Sound near Shoreham, New York. The pilot remembered that the airspeed indicator read 80 knots just before contact with the water. Once they ditched in the water, the pilot and passenger opened the door, swam to a rock that was close by and waited for rescue personnel to arrive.

Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the right wing spar was damaged and the engine had several holes in the crankcase. A front section of the crankshaft was fractured and the propeller was not recovered.

The airframe and engine were retained for further investigation.

NEW HYDE PARK, Long Island (WABC) -- The pilot of a plane who crash landed in Long Island Sound is speaking out exclusively to Eyewitness News.

Dr. Inderpal Chhabra is still thawing-out Monday night, barely 24 hours after he landed his single-engine plane in the 40-degree waters of Long Island Sound.

Dr. Chhabra was flying his Beechcraft Bonanza Sunday afternoon with his co-pilot when the engine began to shake.

"As soon as I reached cruising altitude it got a little bit of a shudder, so I looked at my co-pilot and was like, 'Should we turn back?' And he said, 'Yeah you should.' And the teacher, 'As soon as you think you should turn back, you should turn back,'" Dr. Chhabra said. "It was a controlled landing on the water, it was not a crash."

He says he and his passenger swam a short distance to a large rock, after waiting on the wing until the plane sank.

They were rescued by volunteer firefighters from Rocky Point.

"I was like, why is this taking them so long? We could see the police helicopters directly over us, so we knew that help was near, but it seemed like an eternity. But then I was so glad, a shout out to the Rock Point Fire Department and the Suffolk County Police. This is what we train for. Fly the plane all the way into the crash, and I'm so glad that's what I did. Up until the last minute that I hit the water, I was actually still flying the plane," Dr. Chhabra said.

Story and video:

A Sikh doctor has miraculously survived a plane crash after he managed to land the aircraft he was piloting on the frigid waters of an estuary near here and then along with his co-pilot swam to a large rock. Inderpal Chhabra, a 48-year-old prominent physician who resides in Woodbury, and co-pilot David Tobachnik, 59, of Coram, were flying a Beechcraft Bonanza when the engine began to shake. The plane took off from MacArthur Airport, Long Island, heading to Calverton, New York, but went down in the waters of the Long Island Sound on Sunday.

The two men crashed on the Long Island Sound and clung on to a rock in frigid waters before they were rescued off Shoreham, authorities said.

“As soon as I reached cruising altitude it got a little bit of a shudder, so I looked at my co-pilot and was like, ‘Should we turn back?’ And he said, ‘Yeah you should’,” Chhabra told WABC-TV.

“It was a controlled landing on the water, it was not a crash,” Chhabra said.

He said he and his co-pilot swam a short distance to a large rock, after waiting on the wing until the plane sank.

They were rescued by volunteer firefighters.

“I was like, why is this taking them so long? We could see the police helicopters directly over us, so we knew that help was near, but it seemed like an eternity,” Chhabra said.

“But then I was so glad, a shout out to the Rock Point Fire Department and the Suffolk County Police. This is what we train for. Fly the plane all the way into the crash, and I’m so glad that’s what I did. Up until the last minute that I hit the water, I was actually still flying the plane,” Chhabra said.



A small plane carrying two people crashed into the Long Island Sound off Shoreham on Sunday afternoon, authorities said.

The people, who were not identified, were taken to Stony Brook University Hospital “for evaluation,” a Suffolk fire rescue dispatcher said. He did not know their conditions.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement Sunday that the crash occurred at 1:25 p.m. and involved a Beech BE36 aircraft.

“The pilot reported an engine power-related problem,” the FAA statement said. The agency said it will investigate the crash.

Shoreham resident Gary Berezuk, who lives near the site of the crash, said he heard a sound “like a truck hitting something in the road” on Sunday afternoon before he looked out his kitchen window and realized a small, white plane had crashed in the water.

He said the plane’s occupants stood on the wings of the plane before it became submerged in the frigid water, then clung to a rock for about 45 minutes until they were rescued.

“I heard something as I was, you know, sitting in my house and I didn’t think anything of it until . . . I went to the kitchen window and I saw a plane in the water,” he said “I said, ‘Oh my God,’ And that’s when I called 911.”

The plane was still above the surface of the water by the time he got out to his backyard, which sits on a cliff overlooking where the crash happened. Berezuk said he saw the two people standing on the wings of the plane.

“Then the plane started to nose-dive into the water, you know, from the weight of the engine, and slowly went in and started sinking,” he said. “And that’s when they had to jump off and luckily they got onto the rock.”

The plane became almost completely submerged within five minutes, he said.
Long Island
12 times aircraft landed on LI, but not on runways

Berezuk said he watched the two people hold onto the rock for about 45 minutes before they were rescued by a boat. The Rocky Point and Sound Beach fire departments responded to the scene, the fire dispatcher said.

Police and fire rescue were on the scene within about 15 minutes, and a helicopter was circling above the two people leading up to the rescue, Berezuk said.

By 2:15 p.m. only the tip of the plane’s tail was above the water, with one wing still visible just below the surface.

Story and video:

SHOREHAM, NY — A small plane lost engine power and crashed into Long Island Sound off Shoreham Sunday afternoon and two passengers were taken to a local hospital, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The plane was headed for Calverton on the eastern end of Long Island when the pilot lost power around 1:30 p.m. and smoke filled the cockpit, said Jonathan Cinquegrana, a coast guard spokesman based in New Haven. The pilot than guided the plane into the water.

Two passengers, who have not yet been identified, were taken to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment, Cinquegrana said.

Cinquegrana said as of 3:30 p.m. the plane remained in the water and some fuel had leaked from the tanks. Local fire departments and first responders rescued the passengers and transported them to the hospital, he said. It was not clear Sunday where the plane had taken off from.


Army aviators gain valuable experience in Europe

More than 400 Army aviators from Fort Bliss are gaining valuable real-world experience during their nine-month deployment in Europe.

They will come back back as better soldiers and will be better prepared to work and fight with partner nations in the future, said members of the 3rd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment about their deployment.

“The training we are getting is paying big dividends,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Troy Hubbs, the senior enlisted leader for the 3-501st, an assault helicopter battalion. Hubbs and others spoke via conference call last week from Germany.

“The battalion will be very well-rounded when we return home,” said Hubbs, from Thomasville, Ala.

About 350 soldiers from the Apocalypse Battalion joined up with about 100 soldiers from sister unit, the 2-501st, to create an aviation task force that is supporting Operation Atlantic Resolve.

Operation Atlantic Resolve is a show of commitment by the United States to its NATO and other European partners. It also serves as a way to deter aggression against European countries.

Most of this task force from Fort Bliss has been in Europe since late June.

The 3-501st brought about 30 Black Hawk helicopters with it to Europe, while the 2-501st brought about six specially equipped Black Hawks used for medical evacuations.

Task Force Apocalypse has primarily been stationed in Germany, Latvia and Romania. It’s done training in those three countries and in 10 other European nations in support of 24 named operations, said Lt. Col. Jason Arriaga, commander of the 3-501st and leader of the aviation task force.

In September and October, about 200 soldiers from the task force did a full rotation at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Germany, one of three combat training centers that the Army operates.

During that rotation, the task force was joined by aviation units from the Czech Republic and Belgium, which brought their own helicopters. They all answered to a higher headquarters from Lithuania, the Iron Wolf Brigade.

The Fort Bliss task force also has supported three other rotations at JMRC and will provide support to one more before these soldiers leave next spring.

The key concept behind all this training is called interoperability, the ability of different partner nations to work, communicate and fight together, said Arriaga, from Corpus Christi, Texas.

“There are so many different countries and so many different variables involved when it comes to integrating with a higher headquarters or adjacent units (from different countries),” Arriaga said.

The goal is to work through those issues and make sure that soldiers from different countries can work, communicate and fight together, if called upon, Arriaga said.

Hubbs said that interoperability is crucial because “if something happens and we do go to war, we won’t go alone.”

Training in Europe -- with its variable weather and its different terrain that includes mountains and forests – can also be challenging, Arriaga said.

Apocalypse Battalion did about six months of training before heading to Europe. The battalion went to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., in April with Fort Bliss’ 3rd Brigade. The 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team has been deployed in Kuwait since the summer.

The 3-501st also sent some soldiers to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., in January of this year in support of Fort Bliss’ 1st Brigade.

All that training before and during the deployment will make the battalion better when it comes back home, Arriaga said.

Fort Bliss aviators are expected to return home around April.

A group of about 40 soldiers from Charlie Company with the 3-501st, however, is scheduled to return this week. This group deployed earlier than the main group from Fort Bliss.

Sgt. Bradley Obenland is a crew chief with Alpha Company, 3-501st.

This European deployment has created the opportunity to work with the militaries of many other countries, he said.

“It gives you a greater understanding of how other militaries work and shows us areas where they might do things better,” said Obenland, from Fairmount, Ill.

Obenland added that it is important to be able to work with partner nations because "we don't fight alone."

Story and photo gallery:

Boeing Seals Nearly $17 Billion Iran Deal: Jet-sale accord comes as Trump’s election spurs uncertainty for Islamic Republic deals

The Wall Street Journal 
Dec. 11, 2016 8:50 p.m. ET

Boeing Co. clinched a deal to sell 80 jetliners to Iran, completing the first major agreement between a U.S. company and the Islamic Republic, just as the political winds are changing.

Planned aircraft sales by Chicago-based Boeing and European rival Airbus Group SE to Iranian carrier Iran Air are among the most high-profile transactions signed since Iran and Western powers concluded a nuclear accord that removed sanctions on Tehran. U.S. officials cleared the way for Airbus and Boeing to start contract talks in September.

Now, Western executives are trying to figure out whether President-elect Donald Trump will step in to slow, or stop, the tentative approaches many companies have already made.

The Boeing deal was first announced in June and officially sealed between Boeing and Iran on Sunday. It is valued at $16.6 billion, based on the company’s list price, which doesn’t include typical discounts. Airbus has a similar deal for jet sales to Iran pending.

The timing of the final announcement is awkward, given how the aerospace giant’s relations with the president-elect were strained last week when he criticized the potential cost of replacing the jets that serve as Air Force One. A Boeing spokesman declined to comment on whether it informed the incoming administration about the progress of the Iran sale, but the company said in a written statement that the deal has the potential to sustain thousands of U.S. jobs. It has also said it will work with Mr. Trump on the cost of the Air Force One deal.

Boeing’s Iran Air sales, because they involve a state-owned airline, require approval from the U.S. Treasury, State Department and Congress mainly linked to any potential financing arrangements, said people familiar with the sales process. This presents new potential obstacles to any transaction should Mr. Trump, an outspoken critic of the Iran deal, oppose these kinds of commercial openings with Iran.

An aide to Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), a critic of the Boeing deal, said it is likely Congress will oppose the deal next year and that the new administration is expected to block the aircraft transaction rather than force lawmakers to act.

Officials with the Trump transition team didn’t respond to a request for comment about the Boeing aircraft sale to Iran.

Despite new wariness after the election of Mr. Trump, many big and small Western companies continue to move ahead with early plans to enter Iran. German conglomerate Siemens AG, French oil giant Total SA, French telecommunications firm Orange SA and British telecom giant Vodafone Group PLC are all among other big Western companies pursuing their own deals, with varying degrees of investment commitments.

Still, many have held back on big commitments. Royal Dutch Shell PLC, for instance, signed a deal last week to cooperate broadly in the energy sector with Tehran, but didn’t commit to any specific investment.

Amid the transition in Washington, executives are likely to forgo the sort of specific, investment-heavy deal that might be unwound should Mr. Trump or Republican lawmakers turn against the commercial openings that have followed the nuclear deal.

“Iran is a big market and there’s potential there, but we’re not sure how the sanctions are going to go,” said Anubhav Singh, the head of global sales and marketing at Afripipes, a South African telecommunications-equipment company exploring an entry into Iran. “We are being cautious and seeing how things pan out in the next five or six months.”

Abercrombie & Kent Co., a luxury travel agency based near Chicago that recently began offering $5,695 guided tours of Iran for Americans, isn’t planning a post-election pullback. It will react in response to changes in government policy, spokeswoman Pamela Lassers said.

“We are hopeful that President-elect Trump’s extensive business and hospitality background will make him receptive to the value of the travel industry,” she said.

The Boeing deal covers 15 of the company’s 777-300ER long-haul jets and 15 of the newer 777X widebody aircraft under development, as well as 50 737 Max single-aisle jets. Boeing had said it might need to trim production of the existing 777 jet unless it won fresh orders.

Boeing has more than 5,700 jet orders valued at almost $500 billion, though the company needs to secure more deals for its the 777-30ER to avoid production cuts after a recent slowdown in deals. It also wants to avoid ceding market share to Airbus in Iran, where pent-up demand for domestic travel could mean the country might need as many as 400 new, more-efficient planes.

Iran’s transport minister, Abbas Akhoundi, said the deal was “the first step for the renovation of the country’s aviation fleet,” and would soon be followed by concluding talks with Airbus, according to Iranian state news agency IRNA.

For Iran Air, replacing planes is a priority. After years of sanctions, some imposed after the Iranian revolution in 1979, the carrier operates some of the world’s oldest airliners.

Airbus in January agreed to sell 118 planes to Iran Air in a deal valued at roughly $25 billion at list price. Airbus on Sunday declined to comment about talks with potential customers.

The Obama administration has encouraged the Boeing deal and others as part of a series of moves to cement its Iran policy, which has the nuclear agreement as its centerpiece. Mr. Trump has called the pact a bad deal and said the U.S. gave up too much for too little in return.

—Doug Cameron and Carol E. Lee contributed to this article.

Original article can be found here:

Vet's 25 missions helped his B-29 earn top honors in Korean War

Anthony J. Queeno flew 25 combat missions in the B-29., where takeoffs were harrowing because of the heavy bomb load.

Anthony J. Queeno, shown here at Lowry Ari Force Base in Denver in 1952, flew bombing runs over China's Chosin Reservoir, where enemy flak turned the sky black.

When Anthony J. Queeno was 14, he joined the Civil Air Patrol because he was in love with the military and aviation.

Members of the patrol gathered at the Bell Aircraft plant on Elmwood Avenue for their meetings.  The teenager stood at attention at the plant’s gate with the night watchman and allowed only air patrol members admittance. At other times, he accompanied the watchman on his rounds.

Queeno’s duties also included going on the occasional search and rescue mission, scouring rural areas for missing people.

“I didn’t fly but I went up as an observer,” the 83-year-old Clarence resident recalled.

When he was 16, Queeno fibbed about his age and joined the New York State Guard, where he learned how to march and carry out combat maneuvers.

“But probably the most important thing I learned was how to follow orders,” he said.

When he was 17, he yearned to enter active duty.

“It was after North Korea attacked South Korea. I was 17 and tried to join the Air Force, but my mother wouldn’t sign the early enlistment papers. I was a senior at Buffalo East High School,” Queeno said.

So the day he turned 18, on Aug. 5, 1951, he enlisted in the Air Force and was off to war as a B-29 scanner and aerial gunner, one of 11 crew members.

“The B-29s were the first pressurized aircraft, and we flew between 29,000 and 32,000 feet. I was the right gunner for a twin 50-millimeter gun, and I was also the right scanner. The pilot’s view was obstructed because he was way up in the nose, and he needed pairs of eyes on the left and right to let him know the degree of flaps, keep an eye on the four engines and observe for other air traffic,” Queeno said.

Takeoffs were tough.

“Every time we had a full bomb load, 20,000 pounds, it was a white-knuckle takeoff because we were so heavy.”

Stationed at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Queeno said there were times when he thought the plane might tumble into the Pacific Ocean at the end of the runway  --  but that never happened to his crew.

“The B-29 was known for having bad engines that leaked gas, and with the combination of the weight, several of the planes did go in the ocean,” he said.

Queeno flew  25 combat missions aboard “Command Decision,” which ended up the most decorated B-29 in the Korean War.

“Most of our missions were at night, and you really couldn’t see attacking enemy aircraft until there were bursts of gunfire or if there was a bright moon,” he said. “The most damage we had was from flak shot by anti-aircraft guns. One time we had an 88-millimeter shell go through our right wing.”

Among the most dangerous missions were those above the Chosin Reservoir, where the Chinese had routed American ground forces earlier in the war.

“When you flew over that area, the flak was so thick, the sky would turn black from the bursts of shrapnel,” Queeno said.

Another dangerous bombing route was known as “MiG Alley,” where fighter jets attacked American bombers.

“A lieutenant colonel that I knew would later write a book called ‘Black Tuesday Over Namsi’ when the MiGs shot down nine of our 12 B-29s,” he said.

When the Americans set out on bombing runs along the Yalu River, part of “MiG Alley,” the bombers occasionally drifted into Chinese air space, Queeno said.

“That’s not a well-known fact,” he said, “but we would be about 12 miles into Manchuria as we were trying to turn around. We did not conduct any missions while we were there.”

His plane always managed to return to Okinawa except for one time when they had carried out low-altitude “front line support” in a battle, dropping one bomb at a time and running low on fuel.

“We landed in South Korea at Suwon’s K-13 base, about 16 miles south of Seoul.”

That’s the same base where fighter pilot Ted Williams, the Major League Baseball slugger, crash-landed his Phantom fighter jet and survived.

On Queeno’s final mission, a truce was being signed between the United Nations and North Korea. That was July 27, 1953.

“We were already airborne and had to complete our mission. I thought I was going to buy the farm,” he said, expecting bad luck.

But he survived and returned home to Buffalo in August 1953 for leave.

Of all the honors he received, he says, “I am most proud of my gunnery wings,” which were awarded in 1952.

He serve until 1955 and discovered that he enjoyed imparting knowledge, rising to the head of the Strategic Air Command Gunnery School at Biggs Air Base in El Paso, Texas.

“I had really intended to stay in the military as a career. I left and went to Buffalo State College, but my plan was to stay at college three years, then go back in the military and finish college at night. I then would retire from the military and become a school teacher and wait for retirement from that and have two pensions,” Queeno said.

Love, however, altered his plans.

While at Buffalo State, he met the former Winifred Lynch, who was also studying to become a teacher. They married June 25, 1960, exactly a decade after the Korean War started.

Queeno retired from the Maryvale Central School District after 36 years as an art teacher. His late brother, Carmen, also worked at Maryvale as an art teacher.

“We had classrooms next door to each other,” he said.

Queeno’s wife, an elementary and special education teacher, left her career after 10 years to raise the couple’s three children.

The war provided Queeno with the most exciting times in his life, but he adds that the Air Force also guided him into meaningful civilian work.

“After the war, the Air Force pushed me into teaching at gunnery school. After a month, I just loved it,” he said. “I wouldn’t have had a successful career as a teacher if it wasn’t for the Air Force.”

Anthony J. Queeno, 83 
Hometown: Buffalo
Residence: Clarence
Branch: Air Force
Rank: staff sergeant
War zone: Korean War
Years of service: 1951 - 1955

Most prominent honors: Air Medal, Korean War Medal, United Nations Medal and Good Conduct Medal

Specialty: scanner/aerial gunner, B-29 bomber, known as the Superfortress

Original article can be found here:

'Lucky 666' tells story of overlooked WWII

Imagine flying a plane the size of a tractor-trailer, carrying cameras instead of bombs, slow and straight to photograph an island coastline while fast-moving fighters are shooting your aircraft to pieces.

That’s the overlooked World War II story brought to life in "Lucky 666: The Impossible Mission" (Simon & Schuster, ***½ out of four stars) by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, best-selling authors of "The Heart of Everything That Is." It’s a fast-paced, well-researched account of a B-17 bomber — known as Old 666 — its crew and a courageous flight to shoot pre-invasion photos of Bougainville, a Japanese-held island near Australia.

Bougainville was a crucial link in Allied strategy to retake the Pacific from Japan. The invading force, 37,000 Marines and soldiers, depended on those photos.

The June 16, 1943, flight was considered a suicide mission and ended with the longest continuous dogfight in Air Force history. Those aboard became the most highly decorated combat aircrew of the U.S. military, but not without paying a heavy price.

"Lucky 666" focuses on pilot Jay Zeamer, an Eagle Scout from New Jersey with a passion for flying and a penchant for not following the rules, and bombardier Joe Sarnoski, a Pennsylvania kid who enlisted in the Air Corps straight off the farm at age 21. They meet and become friends at Langley Field near Newport News, Va., and later transfer to different units.

Zeamer emerges as the more fascinating of the two, if only for his surprisingly casual attitude toward military authority and his unorthodox piloting skills.

Not long after being sent to the Pacific, Zeamer is co-piloting one of several B-26 Marauders on an uneventful bomb run on northern New Guinea. He takes a nap in his seat. While approaching a Japanese base, the Americans are caught in heavy anti-aircraft fire and the B-26 pilot has to shake Zeamer awake.

The distracted pilot falls behind the other planes, a serious breach of flight rules, and Zeamer is transferred to another group at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

His new group has hardy B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, and Zeamer distinguishes himself on daring missions. He learns to fly the big B-17 like a fighter plane and begins attracting airmen who want to fly with him. One of them is Sarnoski, who’s transferred from the States.

The Allies need clear aerial photographs to decide when and how to make amphibious attacks. Large planes, like the B-17, provide the best platforms for photography. The Japanese use anti-aircraft fire and fighters to make reconnaissance flights among the most deadly of the war.

Zeamer and his crew find a nearly scrapped B-17 on base and painstakingly refurbish it. To shed weight and gain speed, they remove all non-essentials but equip the plane with extra machine guns. They keep the plane’s original serial number, 41-2666, and call it Old 666. When the Allies need photos of Bougainville, both plane and crew are ready.

Drury and Clavin skillfully blend Old 666’s flight into the larger picture of Pacific Theater warfare and give gripping accounts of combat flights. The result is a story that history aficionados will find irresistible.


Clearfield-Jefferson Counties Regional Airport Authority seeks to cut expenses after county allocation falls short

FALLS CREEK — The Clearfield-Jefferson Counties Regional Airport Authority is looking to cut costs in its 2017 spending plan after the airport allocation from Clearfield County fell short of the requested amount.

Airport manager Robert W. Shaffer provided the response from the authority’s treasurer, Jay Chamberlin, about how the finances would be addressed.

Chamberlin stated, “As we have discussed before, we will try do our best to work with the funds available. We will be unable to fill a necessary employee position and look for ways to cut other expenses. Unfortunately our accounts payable will likely increase.”

According to Shaffer, the “necessary employee position” mentioned by Chamberlin is in the maintenance department.

“We are under staffed in the maintenance department and had hoped to be able to replace the position we have gone without for the past several years,” Shaffer explained.

Recently, the Clearfield-Jefferson Counties Regional Airport Authority adopted its own budget.

Shaffer said that the authority budgeted $155,000 from Jefferson and Clearfield counties each in the spending plan, which was the amount requested.

In its 2017 budget, Jefferson County has agreed to contribute $170,000 to the airport next year while Clearfield County is allocating $60,000 in its budget.

The Clearfield County allotment is $95,000 less than what the airport budgeted.

With Jefferson County’s allotting more than the $155,000, it brings the difference down to $80,000 less than what was budgeted by the airport authority.

The funding situation involving the counties is not a new issue for the airport.

As previously reported in a Courier Express series examining the counties’ support for the airport, the airport authority, in 2004, requested an additional subsidy, from $60,000 annually to $100,000, from each of the counties. Both Clearfield and Jefferson agreed to provide the additional funding with the understanding that it was temporary.

The thinking was that the extra money would keep the airport going until the development of its commerce park lots and access road from Interstate 80 were complete.

The authority board believed this two-pronged plan would spur commercial interest in the airport and boost regular ridership, equating to a payday that would bridge its financial cracks.

Unfortunately, the windfall never materialized, leaving the authority to continue to lean financially on the two counties for more than a decade.

In mid-2015, the airport approached both counties asking for a total of $155,000 in annual subsidies from each.

While Jefferson County has been increasing its allocation, as evidenced by the most recent budgetary figures, Clearfield County gave a flat out “no” and is continuing along a timeline to eliminate the temporary subsidy altogether.

For the Courier Express’s previously published series, both the Clearfield County commissioners and the Jefferson County Commissioners talked with the newspaper about their contributions and the reasoning behind it.


“Back then (in 2004), it seemed like a viable argument presented to us and we thought it was the right thing to do,” Commissioner Mark McCracken, who was on the board then, was quoted as saying.

“There’s a desperate desire to keep the airport as it always has been,” Commissioner John Sobel was quoted as saying. “No one is arguing that the airport should fold up, we just think it should change its business model to meet the changing climate.”

The Clearfield County officials also opined that the airport is unwilling to hear their suggestions, which include considering business memberships, capital campaigns, subsidies from surrounding counties with high ridership, and ways to reduce fares.

“Their solution to us every time is write a check,” McCracken said at the time. “County tax dollars are very limited and future financial problems at the DuBois Regional Airport will never be solved with more county subsidy.”

The Clearfield County commissioners have paid the airport more than $1 million in the last 12 years, and to meet the airport’s then-most recent financial request would have meant a 1/2 mill tax increase for Clearfield County’s taxpayers.

“Despite what you hear, we support the airport,” Sobel was quoted as saying. “But it’s wrong to raise taxes on citizens when they can’t afford health insurance and groceries.”

The three Clearfield County commissioners affirmed they won’t reconsider a subsidy increase until they see forward movement and change at the airport.


Jefferson County Commissioner Jeff Pisarcik, was quoted as saying “we all know that there isn’t an airport successful in the country that is not helped out by the county.” He was speaking generally about how crucial county support is for airports.

He added that the commissioners have been “pretty involved” with the airport over the last 12 years.

“We know that the airport is very vital to this area, and not just Jefferson County and Clearfield County, but the region as a whole,” Pisarcik said.

“And it offers a lot more than what people think. We felt that we had to do everything in our power to have it here.”

Saying the impact of the airport that the commissioners see is “a lot more than what anybody knows,” Pisarcik cited a PennDOT study done in 2010, titled “The Economic Impact of Aviation in Pennsylvania,” which boasts $28.6 million as the total economic benefits the region owes to the airport.

According to Rich Kirkpatrick, communications director the PennDOT press office, the $28.6 million finding in the study is the impact for a single year.

“There’s a lot of manufacturers that use the airport to ship out their products, that’s just not Jefferson (County) and Clearfield County, that’s around the region,” Pisarcik said.

Jefferson County Commissioner John “Jack” Matson also previously expressed his support for the airport. “For me, it’s a part of the toolkit that you need to attract businesses to the region,” he said. “Without that, there are fewer companies that would be willing to relocate here or build a factory here.”

“All the close counties here...definitely benefit from this, and if we’re going to have an airport, then everybody has to step up and come through with what it takes to keep this airport going,” said Jefferson County Commissioner Herbert L. Bullers Jr. “This has to be figured out how to keep this airport, keep it running, and that’s what Jefferson County has definitely stepped up to do.”


Delta Airlines, Boeing 767-300, N190DN: Incident occurred December 08, 2016 at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, China


China's civil aviation regulator is investigating an incident at Shanghai Pudong International Airport involving a US airliner crossing a runway without permission while another plane was about to take off, the regulator said over the weekend.

Delta Air Lines’ flight DL295, which had just landed at Shanghai Pudong International Airport from Tokyo, began taxing across a parallel runway at 7:27pm on Thursday before air traffic controllers gave the go-ahead, the East China Regional Administration under the Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a statement.

On the parallel runway, China Eastern Airlines’ flight MU723 from Pudong to Hong Kong was about to take off. The air traffic controllers then ordered the China Eastern aircraft not to take off and wait on the runway, the regional administration said.

Luckily, as the two aircraft were not near each other, the incident did not affect the airport’s operation, said a press officer sunramed Qin at the regional administration.

“The (regional) administration has required Delta Air Lines to enhance safety management and eliminate safety risks,” the statement said.

“An investigation team will determine the seriousness of the incident and decide whether to punish the airline according to regulations,” Qin said.

It was the second time that runway incursion incidents have happened at the city’s airports within two months. On October 11, a China Eastern Airlines aircraft nearly hit another plane as it was on its takeoff run at Hongqiao airport due to mistakes made by the air traffic control tower.

The licenses of two air traffic controllers were revoked and 13 air traffic control officials were punished for the near miss at Hongqiao airport.


Cessna 750 Citation X, NetJets, N921QS: Incident occurred December 10, 2016 at L.F. Wade International Airport, Bermuda


A Cessna 750 Citation X aircraft returned to Bermuda shortly after taking off from LF Wade International Airport this afternoon [December 10].

Bernews unofficially understands the pilot turned the plane around when a mechanical issue raised concerns. 

The flight was headed towards Washington Dulles International Airport when the diversion took place. 

There was no visual evidence of any emergency services in the area when the flight landed safely.


High In Bolivian Mountains, 2 Massachusetts Men Pursue Mystery Of Flight 980

Dan Futrell (left) and Isaac Stoner pose with parts of Flight 980 they discovered.

Two Massachusetts roommates recently set out to solve the more than 30-year-old mystery of a South American plane crash. What they found was a grim reminder of the tragedy that may or may not provide some answers about what happened that day.

It all started with some curiosity and a Google search. That's what led Dan Futrell to Eastern Air Lines Flight 980, which flew into a Bolivian mountain on New Year's Day in 1985.

"The highest recorded commercial plane crash, as far as we know in the history of aviation, at 19,600 feet," he says.

Twenty-nine people died, including eight Americans. Several expeditions had made it to the crash site, but none found the flight data recorder or cockpit voice recorder. One mission by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board failed when the searchers all got altitude sickness.

But Futrell thought finding those black boxes must be possible.

"Maybe hard, for sure. But not impossible," Futrell says. "So that sounded like a good adventure to me."

Futrell served two tours with the Army in Iraq, and now that he's working a desk job, this seemed like just the thing to restore a little excitement to his life. He managed to rope his roommate at the time, Isaac Stoner, into the plan.

"I seem to have found a role as something of an enabler for Dan," Stoner says.

The two started planning. They acclimatized themselves for the extreme altitude by taking turns sleeping in a rented tent in their basement that gradually lowered the oxygen level. They arranged for a guide and a cook. Five months later, they found themselves hiking up Mount Illimani in Bolivia.

Outside Magazine reporter Peter Frick-Wright went with them, and recorded them for a podcast.

After a brutally steep and exhausting ascent, they started to find parts of the plane.

"That's the CO2 canister from a life jacket?" one of them asks in a recording from the mountain.

It had all probably been encased in ice for decades, but warm conditions over the last year brought it out. And the ice had preserved more than just plane parts.

"That's a hip bone. Top of the femur," Futrell says in a recording of the moment. "Oh my God."

"We had definitely planned for this," Stoner says. "But it was a moment, it was like, 'Wow, this is real. What would the families want? What's the right thing to do?' "

They decided it was best to dig a grave. It's still not clear why none of the earlier expeditions reported finding any body parts, although they may just have been buried in snow and ice. There was speculation an explosion on the flight had caused passengers to be sucked out of the plane before it hit the mountain. At the least, this grim discovery, combined with many more after it, seemed to put that theory to rest.

And then they found a roll of black magnetic tape, like you'd find in a video cassette.

"This either is from one of the black boxes, or it has a great 1985 movie for in-flight viewing," Futrell joked at the time.

Despite their name, black boxes are actually orange. And on the third day of searching, Stoner picked up a piece of orange metal, and noticed wires coming out of it had lettering on them: CKPT VO RCDR.

They'd found the cockpit voice recorder. It was demolished, but maybe that meant the magnetic tape did come from inside of it.

Now, Futrell and Stoner are back home in Somerville, Mass.

"So we have a cardboard box, full of orange scrap metal pieces that are clearly very, very damaged," Stoner says, picking it up.

When they got back, it turned out the NTSB couldn't look at what they'd found without a request from the Bolivians. So Futrell and Stoner spent five months making calls and sending letters, before they managed to break through all the bureaucracy.

Along the way, they heard from several family members of those lost on Flight 980, who have been demanding official answers for decades. And here, two guys with a strong sense of curiosity and some energy to spare had managed to answer at least some of those questions themselves.

"A lot of these family members just said, 'Thanks for doing this. Sure, you guys don't have a personal connection here, but you cared enough to go,' " Futrell says.

As they wait for the analysis of the tape, they're hoping there's something in there that will finally help determine what happened on that flight nearly 32 years ago.

Story and photo gallery: 

NTSB Identification: DCA85RA007
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 29062.
Accident occurred Tuesday, January 01, 1985 in LA PAZ, Bolivia
Aircraft: BOEING 727-225, registration: N819EA
Injuries: 29 Fatal.
The foreign authority was the source of this information.

At Boeing’s 777X wing factory, robots get big jobs

SEATTLE – As the first 110-footlong wing skin panel for Boeing’s new 777X jet moved slowly across a mammoth new factory building one recent morning, a small crew walked alongside, watching for any possibility of an expensive collision.

The “spotters” escorted the panel’s bright-orange transport platform as it followed invisible tracks embedded in the concrete floor and slid with a tight fit into the big cylindrical autoclave where the part would bake to hardness.

Until the automated system for moving these big wing parts is proved, “we do have four people watching it,” said Darrell Chic, acting director of 777X wing fabrication. “But the intent is to work our way to autonomous and allow the navigation system to do its thing.”

Autonomous. Not needing any humans to guide it.

The 777X Composite Wing Center in the Seattle-area city of Everett, Boeing’s latest venture in advanced manufacturing, marks a significant step toward a future in which much of an aircraft factory’s work is done by automated machines and robots.

Once the wing skin was inside the giant pressurized oven, the lone operator at a computer station pushed a button. Lights flashed, a klaxon sounded.

Slowly, a 55-ton, 28-foot-wide circular door slid into place and locked to form an airtight seal for the seven-hour baking cycle.

Eric Lindblad, the newly appointed head of the 777X program, said having machines load the wing parts autonomously is safer and more precise. There isn’t room for error inside the oven: When the long stiffening rods called stringers are baked in the autoclave, they’ll go in six at a time with just 3 inches of clearance between them.

The only necessary human will be the person at the computer.

“There’ll be one guy that essentially runs this station,” Lindblad said.

The trend toward automated manufacturing was evident already at Boeing’s older area plants.

In Frederickson, robots drill 80 percent of the holes in the 787 and 777 tails fabricated there.

In Auburn, robots drill the engine heat shields for the 787 and 777 jets, and will do the same for the 737 MAX. Another robot uses lasers to clean the dies used to shape the heat shields.

In its most productive factory, the 737 final-assembly plant in Renton, Boeing has replaced the traditional multistory fixtures used to hold wings in place during assembly with smaller, flexible, increasingly automated equipment as it ramps up toward an unprecedented output of 52 planes per month by 2018.

Introducing new automation is a challenge: In another new building in Everett, Boeing is struggling to smooth out the kinks in a robotic system for assembling the 777’s metal fuselage.

Still, a new generation of airplanes like the 787 and 777X built with carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic composite structures have triggered a transformative shift taking automation to a new level.

Fabricating complete fuselage barrels or huge wings out of this material is simply not possible by hand. Only robots can lay up the strips of carbon fiber with enough speed and precision.

Mark Summers, head of technology at the U.K. government’s Aerospace Technology Institute, said increasing automation will allow Boeing and Airbus to ratchet up production rates without adding employees.

“Jobs will not be lost, but there will not be so many new jobs created,” Summers said during a panel discussion at the Farnborough Air Show in England in July. “I don’t see it as an impact on the current aerospace workforce. There’s just fewer jobs in aerospace in the future.”

He foresees blue-collar machinist jobs increasingly supplanted by “more technologically focused” positions operating the machines.

However wary machinists may be of what the new technology means for the future, Pete Goldsmith, who led automation-technology projects at Seattle-area companies Electroimpact and Nova-Tech, and now works for a third, MTorres America, said he got “a universally positive reaction” from mechanics at both Airbus and Boeing when he installed equipment to do repetitive riveting.

“That’s a job that beats you up all day every day,” Goldsmith said. “We were replacing an operation that was physically very debilitating for the mechanics.”

Gary Laws, a Boeing mechanic for more than two decades who operates computer-controlled machines assembling wings in Renton, said automation makes his job much easier.

And if this region wants new work in aerospace, he sees no choice but to embrace the shift.

“It’s the way it has to be,” said Laws. “Technology is obviously going to be the future.”

Today, the current 777’s metal wing parts are made largely by machinists in Auburn and Frederickson, then assembled into a wing by machinists in Everett.

Though Boeing doesn’t provide a detailed breakdown of employment figures, this work certainly provides hundreds of jobs.

With the new 777X, that work changes dramatically. But it does stay in the area.

Boeing is spending $1 billion to make the giant 777X carbon fiber wing in-house, rather than outsourcing the wing to Mitsubishi, as it did on the 787.

Lindblad said that after a production ramp-up that will take a few years, the new wing center will, at peak, employ somewhere between 600 and 900 people.

The first production 777X parts that will fly on an airplane won’t be made before April. Until then, workers in the wing center are making test parts, used to certify and fine-tune the new manufacturing process.

With wing skin No. 1 in the autoclave over on the fabrication side of the wing center, Jerry Schultz operated an Electroimpact machine making wing skin No. 2.

White lab coats are required in this “clean room” environment, where an overhead robot like a giant tape dispenser zips back and forth along a 110-footlong mold, building up the skin panel layer by layer.

As the robottraverses the part at various angles, it lays down plies of epoxy resin-infused carbon fiber in about 300 separately programmed runs.

Between setup, inspections and the robot work, completing a wing skin this way takes six shifts over three days.

The goal is to have just two people operating the cell, Boeing said, with possibly another worker floating between it and an adjacent cell also making wing skins.

Nearby, similar big Electroimpact machines are making the first 777X spars – the long, U-shaped, single-piece beams to which the leading and trailing edges of each wing attach.

Again, just three people will operate a pair of these spar manufacturing cells, says Boeing. The spars will then be inspected by robots that use an ultrasonic probe to check for invisible flaws in the material.

An exception to the full automation is the way Boeing is producing four of the 43 stringers, the rods that stiffen each 777X wing. These four are partly made by hand because of their more complex shape.

A half-dozen workers – five of them women, who are often preferred by manufacturers for jobs that require meticulous handwork – stood on each side of a long, thin stringer tool, positioning 4-foot-long ribbons of uncured, textilelike carbon fiber.

When they’d lain out each piece of fabric by hand, an overhead machine swung over and pressed down to secure it for curing.

“For this particular shape … it turns out to be more cost-effective to do it this way,” Lindblad said.

It’s a mistake to think robots can do it all, said Ben Hempstead, chief of staff and lead mechanical engineer at aerospace-tooling designer Electroimpact.

After these 777X skin panels, spars and stringers are fabricated in the wing center, Boeing will deliver them to the main Everett factory building where mechanics will first assemble the pieces into a basic wing box, then add the folding wingtip and the leading- and trailing-edge control surfaces.

That assembly process is inherently more labor-intensive.

“With wing-box assembly, if in the future it’s half-automated, that’ll blow my mind,” said Hempstead, whose company supplies Boeing and also provided much of the equipment Airbus to build the composite wing of the A350.

“Many of the steps require skill and judgment and are very hard to automate,” he said.

Hempstead said Boeing asked Electroimpact to look at automating one specific 737 wing process in Renton that’s done today by about a dozen mechanics.

“We couldn’t figure out how to do it faster with machines,” Hempstead said.

And don’t even think about robots doing intricate jobs like installing hydraulic tubes and electrical wiring in the crowded space of an airplane wheel well.
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“Oh, man, nobody has even talked about automating that,” Hempstead said. “I can’t even envision how you’d do it.”

After World War II, Boeing gave Washington state a thriving middle class, allowing blue-collar workers – some with only a high-school education – to live the American dream.

As robots revolutionize the industry, the region has become a hotbed of leading aerospace-automation firms – including Electroimpact, Nova-Tech and MTorres America as well as Janicki Industries – that are hiring young engineers as fast as they can.

But is a golden age of manual labor ending with Boeing’s automation drive?

In 2005, almost 3,500 machinists in Renton produced 21 single-aisle 737s per month, according to employment data filed with the state.

In 2014, just over 6,000 machinists there produced exactly twice as many.

While production rose 100 percent, employment of machinists rose 75 percent.

As robotic systems and the automated processing of carbon fiber proliferates, that gap is certain to widen.

While Boeing employed more than 100,000 in Washington state in the late 1990s, it seems unlikely those days are ever coming back. Its payroll here is down to about 73,000 today.

Yet that’s still a big workforce, crucially important to the economy. And well-paid manual jobs remain a vital thread in the social fabric of the state.

“We can’t all be baristas and software engineers,” said Electroimpact’s Hempstead.

At the industry discussion of automation in Farnborough, Craig Turnbull, director of engineering at Electroimpact U.K. who oversees the company’s work at the Airbus wing plant in Broughton, Wales, emphasized that “there is a point where man and machine have to meet.”

Even in a highly robotized auto plant, he said, the car radio is installed by a mechanic. It’s too difficult for a robot.

And when it comes to hiring an operator for this new equipment, he suggested looking to machinists.

“The best person to operate a machine that drills holes is someone who has done it for 20 years by hand,” Turnbull said. “They know what they are looking for. They are then becoming more of a quality-control person than actually pushing the drill through a hole.”

To prepare the next generation of factory workers for such jobs, the state is pushing STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and providing community-college-level training for hands-on careers.

Becoming a machine operator will probably require a two-year associate degree with course work on the basics of electromechanics.

“These are some of the highest skilled and best compensated jobs in the factory,” Hempstead said.

John Janicki, president of Janicki Industries, sees the drive toward more automation speeding up, “driven by the need to get the price down.”

Though expensive to install, he said, robotic systems should allow plane makers to sell more jets over a production run that can last more than 20 years.

“If you amortize all the equipment over the life of the program, it’s not that big a deal,” Janicki said.

His firm – currently employing about 750 people in the state and expanding – still regularly hires local people straight out of high school and trains them to operate its sophisticated machines.

And he points to a big upside for the Pacific Northwest in having the 777X wing center: After investing so heavily, Boeing needs to use it to the fullest.

“It’s absolute state of the art. It’s not going anywhere,” said Janicki. “You have all that equipment and the personnel trained to use it. It’ll build 777s, yes. But 50 years from now, they’ll still be building something in that plant.”