Saturday, January 14, 2017

Editorial: Hold off on new state helicopter

The other day, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo was traveling as part of his State of the State tour, fumes filled the cockpit of the state helicopter he was flying in.

As a result, the rotorcraft was forced to make an emergency landing at Stewart airport. Thankfully, neither the governor nor any of those on board was injured.

Such incidents involving state helicopters are becoming increasingly and alarmingly common. And it's clear something needs to be done. None of us wishes the governor anyone any harm, especially due to our unwillingness to provide them with safe transportation.

But rather than use the latest incident as an excuse to avoid state bidding procedures in purchasing a new $12.5 million helicopter to transport the governor from place to place, the state should take immediate steps to ensure the safety of its entire fleet of 14 helicopters and begin the process of systematically replacing aging aircraft that no longer worthy to fly.

In November, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli rejected a proposed purchase of a used helicopter that would be larger and faster than the current crop of aircraft, allowing it to travel further without refueling.

The comptroller said not enough information had been provided about how it could be converted to use in search-and-rescue missions and about what maintenance would be required for an aircraft that had already logged 335 hours in the air.

But in the wake of the latest incident, the comptroller gave state police permission to buy the helicopter without going out to bid. Certainly, $12.5 million isn't much in the state's $155 billion budget. We don't want to be penny-wise and pound foolish with the safety of the governor and other passengers. But $12.5 million for one vehicle is nothing to sneeze at either.

Is there an alternative to buying this helicopter that hasn't been explored? First off, we don't know what caused the current helicopter's latest issue. Was it caused by an old aircraft, some kind of parts malfunction, or by inadequate maintenance? With 13 other helicopters in the fleet, it might be wise to first review maintenance procedures to be sure the helicopters are being adequately cared for and prepared for flight.

Second, can't the governor use another helicopter in the fleet while he's waiting for the bidding process on a new helicopter? Are all 13 other helicopters in dangerous condition or inadequate for his use or in need of repair? Can't he take a car on his travels, or rent a helicopter in the meantime?

And of course, going through the bidding process for a new helicopter might result in a less expensive option or a deal to replace more of the fleet at less cost. You don't know until you solicit bids.

It's easy to use an emergency incident to make a rash decision on a new purchase.

But before the state goes off and buys this helicopter without bidding for it, it should consider whether other actions need to be taken that could protect the safety of the governor and the financial interests of taxpayers.


American Airlines honors 3 employees with 'All American Hero' award

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (WPVI) --   American Airlines honored three employees with its "All American Hero" award Thursday in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

It was back on Dec. 9 when the three women sprang into action to save a traveler who was having a medical emergency at the Lehigh Valley International Airport.

They performed CPR and used an AED to help revive the woman.

Story and video:

Beech V35A, N7145N: Pilot forgot to lower the landing gear and performed gear up landing

AIRCRAFT:   1968 Beech V35A, N7145N, serial number D86827                  

ENGINE - M&M, S/N:  Continental IO-520-BA, serial number 241736-12; all cylinders replaced with TCM new on 1/4/2010, approx. 711.0 hours. Gann #4 & #6 cylinders installed 8/13/2013 approx 600 hours; GAMI Injectors


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

ENGINE:   2484.5 SNEW; 1489.7 SMOH

PROPELLER:    N/A     

AIRFRAME:   5855.5 TTAF                   

OTHER EQUIPMENT: GTX 330;Century III with RCA 2600-3 Electrical Digital Horizon; Garmin 496 panel mount; BAS shoulder harness   

DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT:  Pilot forgot to lower the landing gear and performed gear up landing.           

DESCRIPTION OF DAMAGES: Prop Strike, engine stoppage, flaps damaged, exhaust and cabin step damaged, cowl flaps, antennas and nose gear doors damaged.               

LOCATION OF AIRCRAFT:   Muscle Shoals, AL. Northwest AL Regional Airport, in FBO sun hangar.         

REMARKS: Beautiful airplane with nice paint and interior.   

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South Central Regional Airport project creates friction at Eggs & Issues

Mahaska County Supervisor Willie Van Weelden speaks as a guest member of the audience during Saturday's Eggs & Issues forum held at Smoky Row.

OSKALOOSA — The first Eggs & Issues forum of 2017 took a turn toward controversy Saturday morning as the subject of the proposed South Central Regional Airport project was passionately discussed by several local politicians.

Mahaska County Supervisor Mark Doland was one of three panel guests for the first edition of the traditional forum held at Smokey Row in Downtown Oskaloosa. Doland was Joined by Oskaloosa Mayor David Krutzfeldt and Oskaloosa Community School District Superintendent Russ Reiter, and all three guests tackled various issues and answered questions.

About halfway through the forum, Doland told the large crowd assembled in the spacious coffee house he was going to introduce a resolution at Tuesday's Mahaska County Board of Supervisors meeting seeking to remove the county from the 28E agreement officials with the county signed in 2012 with the cities of Pella and Oskaloosa, making the three entities parties to the new proposed airport north of Highway 163.

The proposed airport spans more than 580 acres of prime farmland north of Highway 163 and west of the city of Oskaloosa. The plan would lead to two Century Farms and an Historic Farm losing land for the proposed airport; as well as the possible closure of 220th Street, which many critics of the project say will hurt local agriculture producers.

"We have a new supervisor, Mark Groenendyk, who was with us for our first meeting. Mike Vander Molen is no longer with us, so that changes the composition of the board a little bit," Doland said. "On the agenda [Tuesday's meeting], the Board of Supervisors the will consider a resolution I put together to withdraw from the 28E agreement partnership to acquire and build an airport with the cities of Oskaloosa and Pella. It's probably not a surprise that that is my position. The agreement, in totality, I'm not in favor of, so I don't want to be a part of it. I'm going to bring that before the board and see what the board says about it."

Doland said it was obvious he is against the airport plan, and he told attendees that he is specifically against the eminent domain provisions in the 28E agreement and the closure of 220th Street that would happen if the airport is built.

Doland had distributed the proposal [see attached PDF document] intended to remove the county from the 28E agreement to several members of the media who were covering the forum. 

Fellow Mahaska County Supervisor Willie Van Weelden, who was present at the forum as a guest in the audience, spoke during the question and answer phase of the forum, telling attendees he felt the proposed resolution created by Doland was premature.

"In answer to Mr. Doland's couple of comments. One, he continues to harp that he doesn't get information about the airport. I've gotten all the information I need. All it takes is a phone call to get that information. I've always gotten that information," Van Weelden said. "As far as that resolution, when I left the courthouse Thursday afternoon [Jan. 12], I went and checked the agenda and it was on there but I have not received a copy [of the resolution] yet. I think this is a little premature to take this up [on Tuesday] when even the members of the board haven't received what's going to happen."

Doland responded to Van Weelden's comments, saying he has had a hard time acquiring information about the project from the South Central Regional Airport Agency board and the FAA, and in some cases he has received no information. 

"I think it's been well-documented that I don't get the information that I'm asking for me," Doland said. "As far as the resolution, I emailed it to you, Willie, and it's on your desk."

The comments from Doland led to a brief back and forth between Doland and Van Weelden, who had returned to his seat, about when or if the proposed resolution had been shared with Van Weelden in a proper manner.

"You did not email it before Thursday afternoon," Van Weelden responded.

Doland said a second time that he had emailed the proposed resolution, and left it on Van Weelden's desk. Doland then personally hand delivered a copy of the proposal to Van Weelden at his seat in the audience.

Oskaloosa City Council Member Tom Walling took to the microphone after the discussion between Doland and Van Weelden with several questions and comments about the airport controversy.

"We've done this already once, the county tried to vote it down. Pella and Oskaloosa voted for it again," Walling said. "I'd like to hear what your plan is—if you get it voted down—I'm not sure where you're going with that. Sometimes you think Mahaska County and Oskaloosa are the same, and other times, [you think] Oskaloosa is not a part of Mahaska County. And we are. We're one full county."

Walling said he felt the county as a whole is suffering due to this division between the city and county, especially in regard to the airport issue.

"We've got to get over it, or it's going to be a downfall for Oskaloosa and Mahaska County," Walling said. "This is for progress for Mahaska County. It's not a good thing, eminent domain. It's not a good thing to take farmer's land. But it's a good thing for the future. Do you have a plan if you vote it down?"

Doland said Mahaska County does not need to be a part of the airport plans, and the cities of Pella and Oskaloosa can move ahead with the project without the county.

"We don't need to be part of the plan. I don't feel like we're treated as partners. I believe the reason why they want us to be in the agreement is to make it look like we're supportive of it, and we're not. I'm not [supportive]; obviously Willie is," Doland replied. "The plan will move forward, whether the city and county and the city of Pella are all united in the efforts together or not. They can do it without us. The Iowa code allows for a jurisdiction—the city—to condemn land outside of the city limits for a just cause. The airport is listed in one of those things as a just cause. I don't know why we're still in the agreement. I don't know why we were in it to begin with."

The proposed resolution is on the official agenda for the Jan. 17 Mahaska County Board of Supervisors meeting, scheduled for 9 a.m., on the third floor inside the Mahaska County Courthouse.

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Braden Hobbs: 16-year-old takes first solo flight

MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO) -- Most 16-year-olds are focusing on getting a driver’s license, but just two days after receiving his, Braden Hobbs is already working towards his pilot’s license.

“So today is my solo day, it'll be the first day I fly the airplane by myself," said Braden Hobbs of his first solo flight which took place Saturday afternoon.

Once you’re 16 and have at least 10 hours of flying with an instructor, you’re able to fly solo, “flying in itself is incredible, but being able to fly by yourself…unexplainably incredible," said Hobbs.

Hobbs is part of the High Country Aviation Workshop for Kids, also known as HAWK.

“We get people involved in building aircraft and flight,” said Vice President of HAWK, Kim Neibauer. “We also involve young eagles; we take them up for free airplane rides to get them introduced to aviation.”

The group spends every Saturday at Mack Mesa Airport building planes, and teaching kids and teens about becoming a pilot. Making sure that by 16, each student knows the ins and outs prior to boarding.

“It's a great experience to be able to both build and fly the airplane,” said Hobbs of the HAWK program. “When you can build an airplane and then go fly it you know that much more, exactly what might go wrong with it, and you know exactly how to fix it when you're in the air."

After a year and a half in the program, Hobbs was first to take off.

“He’s done a lot of work; he's an excellent young man, an excellent pilot," said Neibauer.

Around 15 people are part of the program, ranging from eight to 18-years-old.

“It's total freedom in the air," said Hobbs about his flying experience. However, it’s not just about the thrill of the flight that keeps Hobbs soaring to great heights, “attempt to go to the Air Force Academy and become an Air Force pilot."

After 40 hours of solo practice, Hobbs will be eligible to receive his pilot’s license. 

Story and video:

After a jet lands, a sprint to prepare for the next flight begins — for good reason

Los Angeles International Airport Operation Control Center worker Anna Franco, senior tower operations agent, works to make sure American Airlines Flight 2381 to Orlando, Florida, gets to the runway safely.

LOS ANGELES — American Airlines Flight 998 from Orlando, Florida, landed at Los Angeles International Airport at 8:19 a.m. on a cloudy Tuesday morning, carrying 181 passengers.

The minute the A321 jet reached the gate, teams of workers swarmed the plane with the precision of a marching band. For good reason.

In less than 80 minutes, the ground crew had to unload the passengers and their luggage, as well as cargo and mail, pump in 36,000 pounds of fuel, clean the plane, bring in a new flight crew and load 179 passengers for a return flight to Orlando.

In aviation terms, this is called “the turnaround,” and performing it quickly is crucial to the profitability of an airline. The adage “time is money” applies. The longer a plane sits at a gate, the fewer money-making routes it can fly.

“Everyone who touches that plane has to be synced,” said James Moses, American Airlines’ managing director at LAX.

But if airlines try to shrink the turnaround time too much, there is no room for errors and departure times are missed, drawing the ire of travelers.

A 2010 Federal Aviation Administration study found that delays cost the U.S. economy $32.9 billion a year, with about half of the cost borne by airline passengers because of missed connections and added lodging and food expenses.

Three years ago, Southwest Airlines tried to pack too many flights in the most popular takeoff times, but the tactic backfired and the carrier’s on-time performance dropped by 11 percentage points.

Southwest adjusted its turnaround time and has since improved its on-time performance to 85 percent, on par with its competitors.

A quick turnaround is so important — and employee performance so pivotal — that American Airlines has adopted an incentive program: If American Airlines ranks higher than its competitors in three key on-time categories, all 113,000 employees get $150 each.

Weather, air traffic control problems and late arriving flights account for about two-thirds of all flight delays, but factors within an airline’s control, such as maintenance problems, baggage loading delays and fueling snags, account for the rest, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The pressure especially builds during the holidays when airlines add up to 40 percent more flights per day than during slower times of the year.

For American Airlines, the busiest carrier at LAX, that means a daily schedule of up to 225 flights during the crush of the holiday season.

The nerve center of the airline’s LAX operations is its control center on the fifth floor of Terminal 4. Resembling an air traffic control tower, with massive windows overlooking the gates used by American’s planes, it’s where the turnaround of Flight 998 could be tracked by the minute, as follows:

8:19 a.m.
Once the flight from Orlando lands, the dozen or so dispatchers in the control center direct the plane to Gate 45 in Terminal 4. The crew members at the control center speak with the pilots and the flight attendants to see if there were any mechanical issues that needed to be fixed before the plane gets back on the runway.

A number of smaller glitches, such as a torn seat or a broken toilet seat, can be set aside for repairs until the plane gets a longer overnight stop. A bigger problem that risks the safety of the plane, often called a “no-go,” such as damage to the fuselage, will ground a plane.

But Flight 998 is free of any no-gos.

8:35 a.m.
The plane pulls into Gate 45, 16 minutes ahead of schedule.

8:41 a.m.
Outside the cabin, near the tail of the plane, Robert Williams, a 27-year veteran of American Airlines, directs his crew of two men and two women to unload about 5,000 pounds of luggage, cargo and mail.

The job has become more difficult in the last few years since airlines began to charge checked baggage fees. Travelers are now cramming more belongings into each bag to try to avoid the fees for extra bags. As a result, Williams said luggage that once weighed an average of 25 pounds now weighs 35 pounds.

The toughest job on the crew is the “loader,” the worker who climbs into the cargo hold to haul the luggage onto the belt that carries the bags down to a luggage trolley. The cargo hold is only about 4 feet tall, so the loader must either crouch or kneel to lift the luggage onto the conveyer belt.

“Nobody can tell you the best way to load luggage on your knees,” said Williams, over the din of jet engines.

A few yards away, the fueling agent heaves a fuel nozzle to the plane’s tank and starts pumping about 36,000 pounds of jet fuel. It’s a task that will take about 20 minutes.

8:55 a.m.
Inside the cabin, the last passenger exits and a crew of four cabin cleaners begin to vacuum the carpet, pick up the trash from the floors, wipe down the tray tables and clean the three bathrooms.

9:03 a.m.
Now, cleanup crew must make way for Mike O’Connell and his two workers from the catering company, Gate Gourmet, who enter the plane from the back of the cabin. The catering workers roll carts, filled with prepackaged meals, down the narrow aisles, trying to avoid the cabin cleaners.

“We are always trying to work around each other,” said Fay Mase, the operations manager for the cleaning crew.

Both crews have less than 20 minutes to complete their tasks, hoping to avoid any glitches that could delay the flight.

For the cleaning crew, an airsick passenger who vomited on a seat or carpeting — not an unusual occurrence — could slow the cleanup. But that’s not a problem on 998.

O’Connell’s biggest worry is that his crew will fail to load enough meals for the flight. A miscount doesn’t count as a no-go, but it means an angry passenger will go without food on the next flight.

These are the types of problems that are discussed when American Airlines managers meet in a conference room twice a day to go over operations. In those meetings, the managers of each team must explain their miscues and how to avoid them in the future.

“It gets rushed, and that’s why mistakes are made,” O’Connell said.

But both crews complete their individual tasks on time, without a glitch.

9:18 a.m.
In the front of the cabin, the plane’s captain calls a security meeting with his flight crew. The captain and the flight attendants have never worked together before. The captain discusses what procedures the flight attendants should take if a pilot calls for a cup of coffee or wants to leave the cockpit to use the bathroom.

9:26 a.m.
The passengers are ready to board the plane, now designated Flight 2381 to Orlando. So far, the turnaround is on schedule. But Alice Perez, the customer care manager at Gate 45, notices a few problems that could slow the boarding time.

Many of the passengers in line at the gate are making phone calls or listening to music on their cellphones. That could slow the queue when the passengers need to flash the boarding passes downloaded on those same smartphones, she worries.

9:27 a.m.
Another potential delay is brewing in the front of the passenger line. A woman with two large, hard-shell bags begins to argue with a gate agent about the size of her luggage as the queue line backs up behind her. Her bags look like they won’t fit in the overhead compartment. The woman shoves the bags into the sizer, the metal cage that is used to determine the dimensions of a bag.

“It fits. It fits,” the women says loudly. “See? See?”

It’s not the sort of problem Perez wants to deal with during the busy holiday season — a time when there is an increase in unaccompanied minors. The minors, often visiting relatives across the country, can delay the boarding process because airline agents must walk children into the cabin and personally hand them off to a flight attendant.

International travelers typically cause the biggest headache because they try to carry as many belongings as possible in their carry-on bags. Business travelers are much easier, she said, because they usually carry little more than a briefcase holding a laptop computer.

9:42 a.m.
With 23 minutes until takeoff, the final boarding call goes out. Down below, the cargo hold is closed and a tug, the vehicle that pulls the plane away from the gate, moves into place.

9:55 a.m.
With 10 minutes until takeoff, the crew begins to close the cabin doors. Mario Castillo, the American Airlines agent at Gate 45, checks his computer screen and notices that two passengers have yet to check in.

If 20 or 25 passengers were unaccounted for, Castillo said he would call the control center to see if a connecting flight was delayed. But with only two passengers missing, the crew closes the doors and the plane pulls away from the gate.

9:59 a.m.
Suddenly, a catering worker rolls up to the gate with two food carts. Perez and Castillo give each other an anxious look.

Will they have to stop the plane to haul in the carts, delaying the flight?

Don’t worry, the catering worker tells them, the food cart is for the next flight scheduled at that gate.

10:05 a.m.
The jet pulls away from the gate on time.

10:14 a.m.
The plane lifts off to the west, disappearing into a bank of clouds.


Pilot Organization Praises New Federal Rules

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — New federal rules on medical certifications for pilots and related online training modules are generating an enthusiastic response from the organization representing private and recreational pilots.

Mark Baker, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, says the new regulations lift the requirement that private pilots over the age of 40 renew their medical certification every two years.

Baker says there’s a two-year extension to that starting May 1st.

And, he says, pilots will be able to go to their own physician instead of a federally-designated doctor.

Baker says online training modules also are a good fit.

“They can basically keep abreast of the changes and what’s going on in medicines, and what things they should be looking for as all of us age. But, more importantly, to go spend the time with your current physician or your personal physician. Make sure that you’re exercising and doing all the things that you’re supposed to be doing to manage your health for all kinds of activities, including aviation,” Baker said.

Baker says pilots have been pressing the Federal Aviation Administration for the changes for years.


GOP not giving up on air traffic control privatization

The Trump administration may not be as motivated to privatize the nation's air traffic control systems as previously thought, but the House Republican proposing the change isn't worried yet.

Secretary of Transportation-designee Elaine Chao said Wednesday in her confirmation hearing President-elect Trump hasn't taken a position on privatization of air traffic control systems. That may have come as a surprise after Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, told reporters Trump was on board with the plan.

Justin Harclerode, spokesman for Shuster at the committee, said the Pennsylvania Republican wasn't taken aback or worried about Chao's comments. He said reports that Trump supported Shuster's plan to spin off air traffic control systems into a private corporation chartered by Congress were overblown because Shuster and Trump had only spoke in general terms about the plan.

Once Chao is confirmed and Trump's Department of Transportation is up and running, Shuster will push the plan with the administration and try to get them on board, he said.

"He firmly believes in the idea and he's really looking forward to discussing it with the new administration," Harclerode said.

Shuster's plan, introduced in the beginning of 2016, would have created an independent air traffic control provider to replace the current FAA-controlled air traffic control system. The private company would be chartered by Congress and have an 11-member board of directors.

The board would be made up of four people appointed by major airlines, two people appointed by the aircraft owners association, one person appointed by the airline pilots union, one person appointed by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, two at-large appointees and the CEO of the corporation, appointed by the board. About 30,000 FAA employees would be transferred to the new corporation.

Chao, the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, raised some eyebrows at her Wednesday hearing when she offered a tepid statement about privatization being included in the infrastructure plan Trump promised during the election.

"I am open to all ideas," Chao said. "I am cognizant of those who are in favor it. I am cognizant of those who have safety concerns."

Harclerode said Shuster plans to make the case to the administration that his plan would shrink the federal government, bringing a conservative victory to the new president.

"It's a much better path forward for our air traffic control system than the current FAA bureaucracy," he said. "This kind of reform would reduce the federal bureaucracy and burden on taxpayers by setting up this not-for-profit corporation to modernize and provide air traffic control services. It is a smaller government solution."

However, opponents of the plan have seized on those statements as a possible sign that Shuster's plan doesn't have a chance of becoming law. Liz Mair, a consultant who is opposed to Shuster's plan, said the plan remains deeply flawed and Chao's indifferent statement shows that it's not gaining traction.

"It remains a deeply flawed proposal that is not generating widespread support," Mair said in an email. "Given that the plan would see Congress delegating away its taxing authority, and has been criticized as a giveaway to big, entrenched interests that aren't exactly popular with the American public, conservatives, or enthusiastic Trump supporters, that's hardly surprising."

Democrats have been against Shuster's plan, blocking it in committee during the 114th Congress. In order to get them to possibly agree to the plan, Shuster's plan calls for union contracts to be transferred from the FAA to the new private entity, meaning there would be no hit for union workers in the transition.

That led the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the leading trade group, to endorse Shuster's plan last year. Mair said it's sure the moneyed fight will keep up if there's a fight to get the Trump administration fully on board with the Shuster plan.

"Given the deep financial and emotional stakes for proponents of this plan, you can bet serious money and other resources will continue to be deployed to try to push it through," she said.


Program helps planes avoid ‘collisions’ with large birds near Dover Air Force Base

USDA wildlife biologist John Mogle and his dog Memphis work to keep birds and other wildlife away for the Dover Air Force Base. 

When birds collide in mid-air, it can be messy — especially if one of those birds is a C-5M Super Galaxy (America’s largest military cargo aircraft). Since these C-5Ms, and many other aircraft, take off and land around the clock at Dover Air Force Base (DAFB), there is a strong interest in making sure these collisions don’t happen.

This effort falls under the purview of the Bird/Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard (BASH) prevention program. The staff on base responsible for running this program are USDA wildlife biologist John Mogle and his trusty four-legged co-worker Memphis (a Labrador mix). The USDA, through an inter-agency agreement with various military branches, provides specialists like Mr. Mogle to military airfields to help control and disperse wildlife from landing strips to ultimately reduce the costs and incidence of what they call: foreign object damage (FOD).

Being right in the middle of the Atlantic Flyway, the East Ccoast’s bird migration route, just south of Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, north of Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge and practically on top of Little Creek Wildlife Area makes Dover Air Force Base a virtual magnet for migratory bird activity. Luckily, because of a late migration this year, the snow geese, which are ordinarily the base’s most pesky species, have been late in arriving. Once they did arrive there weren’t as many as last year, said Mr. Mogle.

“We do rough estimates each time we disperse a flock of them,” said Mr. Mogle. “Last year we were up around 300,000 snow geese for the season, but as of late December I estimated only 50,000.”

But the base can’t afford to let its guard down even for a moment, especially since cooler weather can easily send more snow geese into the flight path.
Prevention strategies

To limit the number of potential bird strikes, Mr. Mogle and the Dover Air Force Base use a number of different strategies:

•Fly time restriction

One of the simplest, but potentially most important, techniques the base uses is stalling flights when the bird traffic is at its highest.

“Sunrise and sunset are the worst times in terms of high traffic,” said Mr. Mogle. “We have a regulation that restricts the first 90 minutes after sunrise and the 30 minutes after sunset.”

He notes that there are some exceptions and special approvals that give this rule some flexibility. If Mr. Mogle notices a large flock on base or nearby, he can also call in to the tower and have flight temporarily restricted until the birds are cleared.

USDA wildlife biologist John Mogle sets up a Swedish goshawk trap next to his office on the Dover Air Force Base.

•Habitat removal

By default, Dover Air Force Base looks like a nice site to cluster for birds because large flocks are attracted to wide open fields. The base tries to make itself less charming in that respect. They limit standing water, remove “perch points” and maintain grass to specific heights.


If Mr. Mogle comes across birds on the airfield or nearby he’ll first try to spook them away. So he’ll radio in to the tower to make sure a plane isn’t about to land or take off and then deploy Memphis.

“He’ll be looking out the window when we pull up, he’s ready to go when I open the door,” said Mr. Mogle.

Memphis is a little over three years old. Adopted in Georgia, he was originally trained as a detection dog for the federal Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project. That effort was aimed at protecting the Chesapeake Bay wetlands by eradicating invasive nutria, which are small semi-aquatic rodents, from the Delmarva Peninsula.

Memphis took to his new job quickly though, Mr. Mogle said. He has a natural inclination to chase birds and learned the most important techniques early.

“He’s trained to follow me when I’m out in the field,” he added. “But also, he just follows the most important commands ‘come’ and ‘goose!”

Of the different dog breeds, Mr. Mogle said that Border Collies make especially gifted BASH dogs, but they are expensive — whereas Memphis, who is a rescued dog, was basically free.


Pyrotechnics are used to not only get the birds up in the air, but direct them as well. Mr. Mogle said he uses four types: “bangers, screamers, shell crackers or a CAPA pistol”.

Bangers and screamers do just as their names imply. Mr. Mogle uses these two types the most often. They are fired from a starter pistol and have a range of 50 to 60 yards.

“I use a banger to get the birds’ attention, then a screamer to sort of steer them if their headed away from where I want them to go,” he said.

Shell crackers are fired from a shotgun. They also make a loud bang, but have a bit longer range — about 100 yards. For the hard to reach birds, such as ones roosting in the middle of a field he can’t get to, Mr. Mogle uses a CAPA pistol — a loud pyro with a range of 1,000 yards.

“These are intended for range, but they’re expensive so we have to use them very sparingly,” he said.


For some birds that Mr. Mogle is required to catch and release, like red-tailed hawks and snowy owls, he employs traps.

“We set blackbird traps, and I also have a Swedish Goshawk Trap, baited with a live pigeon, that catches hawks and owls so we can band them and release them away from the base,” he said.

He’s required to put a special tracker on snowy owls he catches and make a report in a database that monitors their movements.

The long parked Air Mobility Command Museum airplanes are heavily populated nesting grounds for small birds like starling, sparrows and cowbirds. Mr. Mogle obtained a new type of small birdhouse trap he’ll be setting up soon to start reducing these populations.


Depredation, or shooting the birds, is a last resort for Mr. Mogle.

“We try non-lethal methods first, but if we have habitual offenders that are ritually coming back to the same spot we have to remove them,” he said.

Oftentimes, certain birds will become stubborn, refusing to leave. Mr. Mogle’s spooking methods will get them airborne, but they may only fly 100 yards away or return shortly after he leaves.

“With the snow geese, they get stressed out as it gets colder and they get really stubborn then,” he said. “They’re also operating under a safety-in-numbers mentality.”

•Cooperation with neighbors

The BASH program seeks to create a no bird “five mile bubble” around the base. This happens to include some land belonging to adjacent farmers and property owners. The air force has negotiated a contract with them that allows Mr. Mogle, sometimes in a limited capacity, to use his methods to spook birds on their property.

“Because we’re a government entity we had to have documentation saying that we were allowed on these peoples’ property,” he said. “We have contracts attached to the deeds that are renegotiated every five years, they basically spell out what we can and can’t do on the properties like using our dog or pyros.”

Zero tolerance for wildlife

BASH is the main component of Mr. Mogle’s job, but because the Air Force maintains a zero tolerance policy for wildlife in the base’s perimeters, he tracks and chases down a number of other animals too like fox, deer and turtles.

“Last year we had 12 deer on the airfield,” he said. “Some were hopping the fence, and others were coming up from underneath it. There’s a tidal drainage near one of the corners of the airfield and as the tide came in it would wash away some soil a leave a spot open for them.”

The spot in the fence was quickly patched with a new section of chain-link.

Mr. Mogle said the turtles start climbing out of the drainage ditches in the summer in large numbers and find their way onto the airstrip.

“It’s unbelievable how many snapping turtles we have come out,” he said. “The females want to go to higher ground to dig a hole an lay eggs.”

Although chasing out snow geese in the winter has Mr. Mogle the most busy, battling birds on base is a year-round affair. After the migratory birds like snow geese and Canadian geese head back north, osprey come up.

“In March, osprey arrive, and they’re a threat because they can get big,” he said. “We’ll also have a lot of nesting European starlings and Brown Headed cowbird.”

He noted that the interaction between these two birds is particularly interesting because cowbirds will often lay their eggs in starlings’ nests and then abandon them. The starlings will still raise the cowbird chicks though.

Although Mr. Mogle said some birds seem to pick up on the fact that the base is not a good place to hang out, at times the wildlife seems more interested in adapting to him rather than avoiding him.

“For the first time ever this year we found a few nests up in the tail of an active plane,” he said. “Starlings found a fold up there and made several nests in two separate planes — the nests even survived a few flights.”

Birds known for being particularly shrewd, like vultures and crows, recognize his vehicle and will often move away before he arrives and come back when he leaves. Foxes see him coming and will duck into low spots in the field so he can’t find them, he said.

Eagles are especially stubborn.

“We have permit to use pyros to scare them away, but they just don’t spook easy,” he said. “They get up and move maybe 100 yard and I constantly have to follow them around. They show up in October and we don’t have too many, I maybe saw 4 last year at one time. There are a few established nests in the area.”

Bird strike procedure

Despite the base’s best efforts, bird strikes still happen. According to the 436th Airlift Wing Safety office, over the last five years, the base has averaged about 38 strikes per year. However, most were non-damaging. For instance, in financial year 2016 the base reported 32 bird strikes, none of which resulted in damage.

Often, a bird strike will result in nothing more than a corpse on the runway or a smear on an airplane panel.

“The most frequently hit bird is a sparrow,” said Mr. Mogle. “It’s usually not an issue because they are so small. If I find pieces of a bird in the field I’ll record it as a glancing blow, but sometimes a sparrow will pass the exhaust of a plane and just drop dead and I’ll find the body whole.”

Occasionally, a pilot will hear or see a bird strike. Under these circumstances, they will notify maintenance when they land so they’ll know where to look. Sometimes though, a pilot won’t even know they hit a bird until a post landing inspection. This is when maintenance finds what’s known in the industry as “snarge” — a colorful term that mixes the words “snot” and “garbage”.

Sgt. Justin Petrosky, quality assurance inspector of the 436th Maintenance Group, said when his team discovers a bird strike they reach for a kit specifically designed to deal with the remains.

“The kit contains gloves, a plastic bag to put the remains in, alcohol pads and Q-tips,” he said. “I brief all bird strikes to the wing vice commander every quarter so he is aware of them.”

The snarge is so carefully removed and bagged up because it actually gets sent to the Smithsonian for analysis, said Mr. Mogle.

“It gets shipped to the bird ID lab down there so they can go through and do DNA testing on it,” he said. “This way, we can keep track of what types of birds are being hit and where they’re from to form better strategies.”

After the cleanup, Mr. Petrosky will inspect the impact site for damage. If the bird strike impacts the engine, he’ll inspect the inlet and associated parts. If the bird went into the core of the engine, he’ll inspect the inside through the use of a borescope.

“The most severe damage is usually a bent blade or bent Exit Guide Vane,” he said. “For the C-17, blades are replaced in sets of 180 degrees apart for equal weight distribution to ensure no vibration occurs in flight. A set of blades cost the USAF $1,500 and usually takes about 2 hours to replace for a total cost of $1,594.”

Mr. Petrosky estimates that 9 out of 10 bird strikes result in no damage — just cleaning and inspection.

Just how costly can a bird strike get?

The costs associated with supporting Mr. Mogle, Memphis, the maintenance crew’s procedure and any other BASH related work is considerable, but weighed against the potential of a catastrophic bird strike, it’s nothing.

It’s not inconceivable that a bird strike could bring an airplane down.

“The bigger the bird the more the damage usually,” said Mr. Mogle. “But if you’re flying through a dense flock, even small birds would be like bullets. A bad enough strike could certainly bring a plane down.”

In a catastrophic scenario like this, the lives of the crew, passengers and people on the ground would be at risk — to say nothing of the extensive property damage that would result. Luckily, this hasn’t happened at DAFB.

They’ve had their costly run-ins though. Wing safety reported that in the last 10 years, DAFB has only had three major bird strike mishaps. In each case, the aircrew was able to land safely. However, the aircraft in each incident sustained damage to an engine, which was costly. Spokesman for the base, SrA Aaron Jenne, said that the bird strike in 2006 cost the Air Force over $2.8 million, the one in 2008 cost $992,679 and the one in 2012 cost $666,517 in damages. He noted that two of the three mishaps involved snow geese and the other mishap involved Canada geese.


Noisy Air Force transport aircraft startle Marin County residents

The large, low-flying military aircraft spotted in Marin County skies Saturday afternoon were piloted by Charleston Air Force Base crews in California for flight training sessions, officials said.

Residents near Kentfield, Greenbrae and Corte Madera were startled by what they said were noisy, low-flying aircraft.

Five C-17 Globemaster III transport jets took off Saturday morning from Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield to practice in-flight refueling and formation flying, said Technical Sgt. John Ayre, a spokesman at Travis.

Crews from the South Carolina base where the C-17s are based were in the Bay Area to collaborate with California-based pilots and train together. It appears they did some training over the coastline and then took a non-standard route, Ayre said.

“From the sounds of it, they requested to do a little bit of a flyover over the Golden Gate,” he said.

Corte Madera resident Dawn Martin said the jets appeared to be a little bit above eye level as she looked out the window from the first floor of her home.

“It was pretty freaky to see as I was washing the dishes,” Martin said. “I think my jaw was in the sink. Not a good week to be scaring people with military planes.”

The jets should have had Air Force markings on the tail and nose, but it’s possible onlookers couldn’t make out the marks.

Residents in the area can expect the pilots to take a similar route Sunday.

Story and comments:

Patients are wooing doctors with private aircraft rides and diamonds

Some New York City doctors woo patients via subway advertisements and glowing features in fashion magazines. And then there are the doctors whose patients woo them.

Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, an Upper East Side dermatologist, has received an “Imperial” bottle of Opus One wine (which can retail for more than $5,000) from a grateful patient and was offered a trip via NetJets to Miami from another. Even his sister Ann, who is in charge of his appointment scheduling, is on the receiving end of gifts.

“If you need an appointment or extra care, she is the one to go to,’’ Frank said. “One woman from Jordan gave her a pair of diamond earrings!’’

He added, “We don’t accept gifts in return for service . . . but if someone wants to show appreciation, there is nothing wrong with that. I don’t want people to think they will be treated better [if they give gifts]; it’s just appreciation for making them feel special, and I’m always pleasantly shocked.”

With people struggling to get the attention of first-rate practitioners, giving presents to doctors, nurses and medical staff is becoming almost as common as tipping doormen or waiters. Either as an expression of gratitude or in hopes of standing out as VIPs, patients and their loved ones are showing up with everything from bags of Sugarfina candy and restaurant gift cards to parcels from Hermès and Cartier. If you walked into a popular Manhattan doctor’s office over the holiday season, it’s likely you saw piles of boxes tied with ribbons.

“I am doing it for what I believe are the right reasons: to acknowledge how much they’ve helped me — and in the event I need their help [again], I want to make sure I have their attention,’’ said one 59-year-old banker who lives on Park Avenue and just sent both his internist and orthopedist magnums of premium Barbaresco.

Maternity wards are full of beaming moms ordering up baked goods for hospital staff, but families of ill patients often go further.

“There was one patient in the heart unit of New York [Presbyterian] hospital who used to hand out hundreds to the nurses,’’ one physician recalled.

The American Medical Association does not have any specific rules about patients giving doctors gifts — nor is it illegal — but doctors are divided about the types of presents they will accept.

Dr. Christopher Calapai, an East Meadow, LI, osteopath who specializes in stem-cell therapy, recently received Cartier cuff links and Champagne glasses, a Montblanc pen, and a gift certificate for dinner at Per Se, while Jane Scher, a registered nurse, was showered with an Hermès scarf, Godiva chocolates and a $100 Starbucks card from patients.

“They thank me because they are happy,’’ Calapai said.

“A physician has to judge,’’ said John Connolly, a partner in Castle Connolly, which publishes the annual listing directory America’s Top Doctors. “With hospitals it depends; some have a policy against it. Small gifts of thoughtfulness may be appropriate, but if gifts are significant it could prove to be an issue. Is it appreciation, or is someone hoping to acquire a preferred relationship? I don’t believe it will influence a doctor, but a physician has to judge.’’

Dr. Marc Lowenberg, a Central Park South dentist, recalled how after he veneered the teeth of two men in finance, one offered the use of his private plane and the other the use of his yacht.

“I didn’t take them up on those things because I don’t want to be indebted, but an actress gave me the use of her estate in Maine with complete staff for a vacation, and that I did take her up on,” Lowenberg said.

“Typically, a lot of our patients send us sweaters or gift certificates after we re-create their smiles. There is nothing wrong with accepting a gift after work is paid for, though it’s a little surprising that after spending $50,000 to $80,000 for a smile makeover, they still want to send a present.’’


Advanced Aeromarine Buccaneer IIB, N696FT: Fatal accident occurred January 14, 2017 in Mayo, Lafayette County, Florida


The sport pilot of the experimental, amateur-built, amphibious airplane flew to meet a friend to camp for the night along a river. He landed on the river to the north, flying over power lines during the landing approach, and pulled the airplane onto the shore. The pilot offered to help his friend search for a life vest that had floated downstream after he finished unloading the gear from the airplane. Multiple witnesses watched as the pilot departed northbound on the river, made a 180° turn southbound, then flew over the river, beneath treetop level, and out of sight. They reported hearing a loud "boom" and the engine noise stop just before a power outage occurred. One witness reported seeing the airplane flying 30-40 ft above the river when it "suddenly flipped backwards and then hit the water." One witness reported that the sky was grey and overcast, and that the sun was setting about the time of the accident, making the power lines difficult to see. The powerlines directly overhead of the accident site displayed striations consistent with the airplane impacting the powerlines.

Examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence of a preexisting anomaly or malfunction that would have precluded normal operation. Toxicology testing on the pilot detected two medications, which were unlikely to have caused impairment, and the autopsy revealed an enlarged heart; however, there was no evidence of a heart attack or any other incapacitating event. It is likely that, while flying along the river at low altitude, the pilot failed to see the powerlines, which resulted in an in-flight collision with the powerlines and impact with the river. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to see and avoid power lines while flying at low altitude. 


Personnel issues
Monitoring environment - Pilot (Cause)
Identification/recognition - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Wire - Awareness of condition (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)
Low altitude operation/event (Defining event)

Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT)

Neal Harris, 61
Kissimmee, Florida

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Tampa, Florida

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Location: Mayo, FL
Accident Number: ERA17FA088
Date & Time: 01/14/2017, 1715 EST
Registration: N696FT
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT)
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On January 14, 2017, about 1715 eastern standard time, an amphibious experimental amateur-built Buccaneer II B, N696FT, was substantially damaged after it impacted high voltage power lines and a river near Mayo, Florida. The sport pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight.

According to a friend, the pilot had flown to the Suwannee River in Blue Springs Park to meet him and camp next to the river for the night. The pilot landed to the north on the river, flying over power lines during the landing approach. About 20 minutes after the pilot landed, his friend arrived. The two spoke briefly; the friend told the pilot that he needed to retrieve a life vest that had floated downstream; the pilot offered to help after he finished unloading his airplane. The friend paddled downstream and subsequently heard the airplane takeoff.

Multiple witnesses in the area of the accident site reported seeing the airplane take off northbound along the Suwannee River, complete a 180° left turn, descend below treetop level, and fly southbound over the river out of view. Shortly thereafter, witnesses reported hearing a loud "boom" followed by the engine "going quiet" and a power outage.

One witness, who was located about 1 mile from the power lines, stated that he saw the airplane flying about 30-40 ft above the river when it "suddenly flipped backwards and then hit the water." 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Sport Pilot
Age: 61, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 05/17/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:
8000 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

The pilot held a sport pilot certificate, an airframe mechanic certificate, and a light sport repairman certificate for three airplanes, none of which were the accident airplane. His pilot logbook was not located. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate was issued on May 17, 2016. He reported 8,000 total hours of flight experience on that date. During his previous medical exam, on March 6, 2014, he reported 982 hours of flight experience. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: SHARPE WILLIAM L
Registration: N696FT
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1992
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: B2B005 582
Landing Gear Type: Amphibian
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 05/17/2014, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1120 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 765 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 948.6 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Rotax
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series:
Registered Owner: Neak Harris
Rated Power: 80 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

The airplane was primarily constructed from aluminum and Dacron, with a fiberglass hull. It was powered by an 80-horsepower Rotax 912 four-cylinder engine mounted on a pylon in a pusher configuration.

The pilot purchased the airplane about 9 months before the accident. FAA records showed that a registration application had been submitted and later extended, but that no current registration information was on file. The most recent entry found in the engine maintenance records was dated June 14, 2015. The airframe records were not located. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: CTY, 42 ft msl
Observation Time: 1710 EST
Distance from Accident Site: 30 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 168°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Temperature/Dew Point: 22°C / 17°C
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 4400 ft agl
Visibility: 10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots, 30°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.34 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Mayo, FL
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Mayo, FL
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:  EST
Type of Airspace: Class G 

The closest weather reporting facility, Cross City Airport (CTY), Cross City, Florida, was located about 30 nautical miles south of the accident site. The 1710 surface weather observation included broken clouds at 4,400 ft, wind from 030° at 5 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, temperature 22°C, dew point 17°C, and altimeter setting of 30.24 inches of mercury.

A witness reported that, around the time of the accident, grey clouds were in the area as the sun set. He stated that the light and sky conditions made the power lines difficult to see. 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  30.121389, -83.225556 

The wreckage came to rest inverted and partially submerged in shallow, fast-moving water beneath power lines that ran roughly east-west and crossed the Suwanee River below treetop level. All major components were accounted for at the site; the airplane was intact with the exception of the left float, which was located downstream.

When recovered, the airplane was set upright on the shore for examination. There was leading edge damage to both wings near the wing roots. The structural tubing along the right wing leading edge was fractured. The wing struts were separated about midway between the lower and upper attachment points. The windscreen and its supports were fractured.

The hull was fractured in multiple places. The propeller was separated from the propeller flange, and the flange remained attached to the crankshaft. All three of the composite blades remained attached to the hub; two blades were fractured about midpoint on the blade.

The powerlines directly overhead of the accident site displayed striations consistent with impact. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Office of the Medical Examiner, Tallahassee, Florida, performed an autopsy of the pilot. The cause of death was listed as multiple blunt force injuries. The autopsy identified an enlarged heart with left ventricular hypertrophy and cardiac muscle fibrosis.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing on specimens of the pilot. Gabapentin was detected in the liver and blood. Gabapentin is an antiseizure medication that is also used to treat chronic pain and is marketed under various names, including Neurontin. It carries the warning, "Prescribers and patients should be aware that patients' ability to assess their own driving competence, as well as their ability to assess the degree of somnolence caused by gabapentin, can be imperfect." The level of gabapentin in the blood was well below a level that is considered therapeutic. Testing also detected the non-impairing pain reliever, ibuprofen, in urine.

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA088
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, January 14, 2017 in Mayo, FL
Aircraft: SHARPE WILLIAM L BUCCANEER II B, registration: N696FT
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

On January 14, 2017, about 1715 easter
n standard time, an amphibious experimental amateur-built Buccaneer II B, N696FT, was substantially damaged after it impacted power lines and a river near Mayo, Florida. The sport pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to a friend, the pilot had flown to the Suwannee River in Blue Springs Park to meet him and camp on the river for the night. The friend needed to retrieve his dog's life vest that had floated south, down the river. The pilot told him that he would unload his airplane and then help with the search.

Multiple witnesses in the area of the accident reported seeing the airplane takeoff northbound on the Suwannee River, make a 180-degree left turn, descend below treetop level and fly southbound over the river out of view. Shortly thereafter, witnesses reported hearing a loud "boom" followed by the engine "going quiet" and a power outage.

One witness, who was located about 1 mile from the power lines stated that he saw the airplane flying about 30-40 feet above the river when it "suddenly flipped backwards and then hit the water."

The pilot held a sport pilot certificate, an airframe mechanic certificate, and a light sport repairman certificate for three airplanes; none of which were the accident airplane. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate was issued on May 17, 2016. He declared 8,000 total hours of flight experience on that date.

The airplane was primarily an aluminum and Dacron structure, with a fiberglass hull. It was powered by Rotax 912 four-cylinder engine mounted on a pylon in a pusher configuration.

At 1710, the weather reported at Cross City Airport (CTY), about 30 miles from the accident site, included clear skies with 10 statute miles visibility and wind from 30 degrees at 5 knots. The temperature was 22 degrees C, the dew point was 17 degrees C, and the altimeter setting was 30.34 inches of mercury.

The wreckage was located in the river in shallow, fast-moving water, beneath a set of power lines that ran approximately east-west and crossed the river below tree-top level.

The wreckage could not be immediately accessed and was later examined by two FAA inspectors. All major components were accounted for at the scene, and flight control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to all flight control surfaces.

LURAVILLE — A single-engine plane crashed into the Suwannee River on Saturday evening with one fatality.

According to Suwannee County Fire Rescue, a call came in at 5:08 p.m. that a single-engine plane was in the river in the western part of Suwannee County near the Luraville area. A single occupant was pronounced deceased at the scene, according to Suwannee County Sheriff Sam St. John and SCFR.

Units from Lafayette County and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were notified and assisted.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were communicating with the emergency crews on the scene and will perform an investigation at the scene as to the cause of the accident.


LURAVILLE, FL (WTXL) -- One person has died after a plane crashed in the Suwannee River Saturday.

According to Suwannee County Fire Rescue, a single-engine plane crashed in the western part of the county by Luraville. The Suwannee County Sheriff's Office and Suwannee County Fire Rescue were notified just after 5:00 p.m.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are currently investigating the crash and communicating with emergency crews on the scene.

Units from neighboring Lafayette County and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation were also notified and are assisting.

The individual has not been identified, and the cause of the crash has not been determined.


UPDATE -- One person is dead after an afternoon plane crash in Suwannee County. Crews are on the scene still searching for victims. 

Suwannee County Fire Rescue were notified at 5:08 pm that a plane was in the Suwannee River.

Crews arrived to the scene and began search efforts for any passengers.

An investigation is ongoing.

Suwannee -- A plane has crashed in Suwannee County.

The plane crashed around 5:10 pm Saturday in the middle of the Suwannee River.

Authorities say it's a single-engine plane.

No word as of yet of how many people were on board.