Thursday, May 11, 2017

Texas Jet Charter Co. Says Atty's Shoddy Work Cost It Big

Law360, Houston (May 11, 2017, 3:06 PM EDT) -- Thunderbird Airways Inc. filed a lawsuit in state district court in Houston on Wednesday against the law firm Donato Minx Brown & Pool PC and attorney A. Scot Chase, alleging their negligent representation in a lawsuit arising from an aircraft lease agreement resulted in a $375,000 judgment against it.

Thunderbird Airways, a Houston-based private jet charter company, told the court at worst it owed the plaintiff in the underlying litigation $40,000. According to the petition, the underlying lawsuit stems from an aircraft lease agreement Pro Rentals... 

Original article can be found here:

Beech C24R Sierra, N2074P: Fatal accident occurred December 20, 2015 in Winder, Barrow County, Georgia

Billy K. Bryant, who died in the Beech C24R Sierra crash on December 20th, 2015. 

In November 2015, Bryant was given the Federal Aviation Administration’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, a prestigious recognition honoring pilots “who have demonstrated professionalism, skill and aviation expertise by maintaining safe operations for 50 or more years.”

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, Georgia
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Lycoming Engines; Atlanta, Georgia 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Bryant and Bryant Aviation Inc:

NTSB Identification: ERA16FA075 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, December 20, 2015 in Winder, GA
Aircraft: BEECH C24R, registration: N2074P
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 December 20, 2015, about 1430 eastern standard time, a Beech C24R, N2074P, impacted trees and terrain in Winder, Georgia. The private pilot sustained fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to Bryant and Bryant Aviation Inc., and was being operated as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Jackson County Airport (19A), Jefferson, Georgia at 1359, and was destined for Barrow County Airport (WDR), Winder, Georgia.

According to a fuel log found in the airplane, the airplane was last fueled on December 10, 2015, with 28.5 gallons of fuel, at a Hobbs time of 3415.9 hours. It could not be determined if the fuel was topped off. Review of data recovered from a handheld GPS receiver revealed that the pilot then flew for about 2.5 hours later that day.

Further review of the GPS data revealed that on the day of the accident, the airplane initially departed Gwinnett County-Briscoe Field (LZU), Lawrenceville, Georgia. The pilot flew to 19A, where he completed one practice approach to runway 35 with a full stop and taxi to runway 17 for departure. He then flew locally for about 1 hour before flying to WDR. Over the 1.5 hour flight, he flew between altitudes of 800 feet to 4,000 feet mean sea level, except for the times of his practice approach into 19A.

Several witnesses reported seeing the airplane flying overhead and then impacting treetops near a golf course. One of the witnesses stated that the left wing was low and that the airplane was losing altitude "very quickly" before it impacted terrain nose first. In addition, one witness stated that the engine was "sputtering" before impact. The witness drove to the accident scene and observed fuel leaking out of the airplane.


According to FAA records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, airplane multi-engine land, and instrument airplane ratings. He held an FAA third-class medical certificate, issued February 4, 2015. At the time of the medical examination, the pilot reported 7,000 hours of total flight time. Review of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had accumulated 7,248.7 hours of total flight time, 34.5 hours of which were flown during the 30 days before the accident.


The four-seat, low-wing, tricycle landing gear-equipped airplane, serial number MC608, was manufactured in 1978. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-360-A1B6, 200-horsepower engine and equipped with a three-bladed McCauley propeller, model B3D36C429. Review of maintenance records revealed that the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on June 10, 2015. At that time, the airframe had accumulated about 3,926 total hours of operation and the engine had accumulated 477 hours since major overhaul. At the time of the accident, the airplane had flown about 63 hours since the annual inspection.

According to the Beechcraft C24R Pilot's Operating Handbook, the airplane contained two 30 gallon fuel tanks, 1.5 gallons of which was unusable in each tank. Fuel consumption calculations using data from the Lycoming Operator's manual for the O-360 model, revealed that at power settings between 45 and 75-percent power, and between best power and best economy fuel flow settings, the airplane would have an expected cruise endurance of between 4.5 and 6.8 hours with full fuel tanks. The calculation was for cruise endurance only, and did not take into account fuel consumed during taxi, run-up, takeoff, climb, descent, or landing.


At 1435, the recorded weather at WDR included calm wind, visibility 10 statute miles, temperature 13° C, dew point -6° C; and altimeter 30.49 inches of mercury.


The airplane came to rest upright against a tree, and the debris field was compact. The airplane had impacted treetops that were about 88 ft high and 193 ft before the initial ground impact point. There was no fuel smell at the scene. The debris path was oriented on a magnetic heading of 228°, and the airplane came to rest on a magnetic heading of 080°. Measurement of the elevator trim actuator corresponded to a neutral position. Cable continuity was established to all flight controls.

The left wing impacted the ground first, and the pitot tube was fractured off at the impact point. The landing gear was extended, and the flaps were retracted. The left fuel tank was breached at the leading edge, and there was no residual fuel in the tank. The left wing was forced into the side of the fuselage by impact forces, and the main spar was fractured at the attachment points. The outer half of the wing was torn between the flap and aileron.

The right wing leading edge was crushed upward and exhibited tree impact marks near the inboard side. The right fuel tank was empty and not damaged. The Hobbs meter indicated 3419.85 hours.

The aft fuselage was resting against a tree, and the empennage was partially separated about 5 ft from the stabilator. The stabilator was attached and exhibited tree impact marks. The forward fuselage and cabin section were crushed due to impact forces. The instrument panel was fractured in half, and most of the instruments had ejected out of the panel. The fuel selector was found in the left main fuel tank position. The fuel valve was disassembled and found to be partially in the left port, and it exhibited some impact damage.

The engine and propeller were crushed aft into the firewall. The propeller exhibited no rotational damage. Two propeller blades were bent aft near the propeller hub. The third blade was undamaged. The spinner dome was crushed on one side and between two blades.

The engine was removed from the airframe for further examination. Valve train continuity was confirmed by partial disassembly and rotating the crankshaft by hand. Thumb compression was attained on all cylinders.

The oil filter and oil suction screen were clear of debris. The spark plugs did not exhibit any anomalies. The fuel screen was clean and clear of debris. The vacuum pump was removed and examined. The coupling was intact and rotated freely. The vanes were intact. The engine-driven fuel pump was removed and examined with no anomalies noted. It was clean and clear of debris. The fuel pump was operated by hand and produced air. The fuel servo and fuel pump both contained about 2 teaspoons of fuel with an odor and color consistent with aviation fuel. The interiors of the cylinders were examined using a lighted boroscope, and no anomalies were noted. The propeller governor was removed and examined with no anomalies noted. The governor oil screen was clean and clear of debris. Both magnetos produced spark when rotated by hand. Oil was observed in the engine, and it was clean and clear of debris. The oil filter was cut open, and it was clean and clear of metal and debris. The oil suction screen was clean and clear of debris.


The Division of Forensic Sciences, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, State of Georgia, conducted an autopsy on the pilot on August 3, 2016. The autopsy findings included "blunt trauma of the neck and torso."

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot. The toxicology report stated that no drugs were detected in the urine, and no carbon monoxide was detected in the blood.

NTSB Identification: ERA16FA075 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, December 20, 2015 in Winder, GA
Aircraft: BEECH C24R, registration: N2074P
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 December 20, 2015, about 1430 eastern standard time, a Beech C24R, N2074P, was destroyed when it impacted trees and terrain in Winder, Georgia. The private pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane took off from Jackson County Airport (19A), Jefferson, Georgia at 1359 eastern standard time. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight to Barrow County Airport (WDR), Winder, Georgia. The airplane was owned by Bryant and Bryant Aviation Inc. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Preliminary information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the flight originated at Gwinnett County-Briscoe Field, (LZU) Lawrenceville, Georgia, earlier during the day of the accident and flew to 19A, where the pilot made one practice approach and then flew towards his intended destination of WDR.

Several witnesses observed the airplane flying overhead and watched as it contacted the tops trees adjacent to a fairway at a golf course. They stated the left wing was low and the airplane was losing altitude "very quickly." Also, the airplane impacted nose first and flipped 180 degrees, facing in the opposite direction. In addition, one witness stated the engine was sputtering prior to impact.

Examination of the airplane at the accident site revealed that the landing gear was down, and the flaps were in the full up position. The propeller showed no signs of power, no twisting gouges or nicks were present on any of the blades. Two propeller blades were bent aft near the hub and one propeller blade was straight. There was no smell of fuel on scene, however the left fuel tank was breached in several areas and the right tank was dented. Both fuel tanks were empty upon further examination. During the initial examination of the engine and airframe, there were no anomalies noted. Cable continuity was established to all flight control surfaces from the cockpit.

According to FAA records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land, airplane multi-engine land, and instrument airplane, which was issued on October 23, 2014. He also held an FAA third-class medical certificate, issued February 4, 2015. At the time of the medical examination, the pilot reported 7,000 total hours of flight experience.

The four-seat, low-wing, tricycle gear airplane, serial number MC608, was manufactured in 1978. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-360-A1B6, 200-horsepower engine, equipped with a three-bladed McCauley propeller, Model B3D36C429. Review of maintenance records revealed that the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on June 10, 2015. At that time, the airframe had accumulated about 3,926 total hours of operation and the engine had accumulated 477 hours since major overhaul.

The airframe and engine were retained for further examination. 

$2 million worth of cocaine, Beechcraft Queen Air seized at Liberal Mid-America Regional Airport (KLBL), Seward County, Kansas

Patrick Williams mug shot. 
Courtesy Seward County Sheriff’s Office

Ricardo Lopez mug shot. 
 Courtesy Seward County Sheriff’s Office

LIBERAL, Kan. (KSNW) – The Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Seward County Sheriff’s Office seized a large quantity of cocaine. They also seized a twin-engine aircraft at the airport in Liberal. 

The KBI along with the Department of Homeland Security Investigations developed information which led them to be suspicious of an aircraft that would be landing at the Liberal Mid-America Regional Airport.

The KBI said the aircraft landed just before 6 p.m. Wednesday, and it was detained by authorities. Over 65 kilograms of cocaine were discovered after contact was made with the plane’s occupants. The cocaine is estimated to be worth approximately $2 million.

The pilot and passenger of the aircraft were arrested after the KBI and the Seward County Sheriff’s Office seized the Beechcraft Queen Air along with the cocaine.

Ricardo Lopez and Patrick Williams have been identified as the individuals in the aircraft.

Original article can be found here:

Proposed international airline plans for hub at Stewart International Airport (KSWF)

A proposed new international airline might make Stewart International Airport its main hub, with plans to operate transatlantic flights from the Newburgh, Orange County airport to select European countries.

USGlobal Airways — currently called Baltia Air Line, Inc. — is in the process of rebranding, according to a press release. Under prior management, the airline never received U.S. government certification to operate, but the company has undergone several corporate and operational changes, including new leadership.

Anthony D. Koulouris, CEO and president of the airline, said in the Thursday release that the company hopes “to receive U.S. government regulatory approval and certification in the not too distant future.”

“Today, our shareholders are meeting at Stewart Airport to approve certain key initiatives,” he said, “including a corporate name change and reverse stock split.”

It was new leadership, according to the release, that decided to pursue a hub at the Orange County airport that’s about 55 miles north of New York City.

The airline plans to lease a fleet of B767-300 aircrafts to carry passengers, cargo and mail between Stewart International and destinations like London, Paris or Barcelona.

The airport has the third longest runway in the U.S, according to the release, as well as a prime location at the crossroads of interstates 87 and 84.

“We have formed strategic business alliances with regional as well as local business partners and influential organizations,” Koulouris said. “One of our important corporate goals is to spur economic impact and development that will impact the population of approximately 16.5 million people who reside in a 62 mile radius of Stewart International Airport.”

Original article can be found here:

Helicopter company signs 30-year lease to operate at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport (KMRB)

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A helicopter-oriented aviation operations and holding company has agreed to lease 2.3 acres of land at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport.

A 30-year lease agreement between The Sylvanus Group LLC, a Nevada-based company, and the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport Authority was approved Tuesday night.

The Sylvanus Group agreed to pay $19,798.08 per year in rent for use of the developed land and parking area, and has the option to extend the agreement beyond 2047 by two, five-year terms, according to the lease terms.

The company is in the process of separately purchasing the former Arcadia Aviation facility, which sits on the acreage that is being leased, said R. Timothy Tapp, president and a managing member of The Sylvanus Group.

The veteran-owned business intends to hire a number of aviation mechanics from the area's talented labor pool due to the presence of the 167th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard at Shepherd Field.

The Air Guard unit recently transitioned from flying C-5 aircraft to C-17s, a change that affected a number of full-time guardsmen at the base.

Tapp didn't specify how many jobs the company hopes to fill, but said the business intends to start out slow and gradually increase operations at the Arcadia Aviation facility.

The facility includes a 20,000-square-foot hangar and 3,500 square feet of office space, according to a West Virginia Development Office property description.

"It's a beautiful building," Tapp said.

Built in 2006, the facility will be renamed Sylvanus Aviation Center.

Tapp said the company plans to offer helicopter-related training, demonstration flights and other services.

The facility will allow various subsidiaries to relocate to Martinsburg, said Tapp, who is moving from White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

Formed in August 2015 in Las Vegas, the company's managers are Tapp and Alexandria, Va.-based JB Consulting & FTC LLC, according to an online business database maintained by the Nevada Secretary of State's office.

Tapp said the company has been quite pleased to work with the airport authority, especially board Chairman Rick Wachtel.

"We're extremely happy to be in West Virginia," Tapp said. "We love West Virginia. It's a great place."

Original article can be found here:

Fatal accident occurred May 11, 2017 on Hutchinson Island South, St. Lucie County, Florida

ST. LUCIE COUNTY — A 48-year-old Vero Beach man was killed Thursday afternoon in a paramotor accident on Hutchinson Island, said St. Lucie County sheriff’s officials.

Arthur Levy died after his backpack-powered parachute crashed near Middle Cove Beach about 1 p.m. Thursday, officials said. Paramedics pronounced Levy dead at the scene.

A paramotor is a motorized, steerable paraglider that’s powered by a motor and propeller harnessed to the pilot’s back.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. No further information was available late Thursday.

In 2011, Levy was hospitalized after an accidental midair collision of two motor-powered paragliders, according to a Martin County sheriff’s report.

He plummeted 50 feet after the collision above Pasley Beach Park and was taken to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute in Fort Pierce in good condition.

His flying partner, Richard Weston of Palm City, walked away after landing with a parachute. He sustained minor injuries that paramedics treated at the scene.

Just before the accident, Weston was in the air, waiting for Levy to take off so Weston could land. As Levy took off to the south, Weston descended, but Levy turned to the north and collided with Weston.

Weston inflated his parachute and safely descended. Levy fell directly to the ground, severely fracturing his right ankle. He also complained of neck and back pain.

Each of them had flown at the beach before, said Weston, who has seven years of experience flying paragliders.

Original article can be found here:

Thousands of gallons of jet fuel spilled at Oceana Naval Air Station

VIRGINIA BEACH  -   Thousands of gallons of spilled jet fuel at Oceana Naval Air Station weren't discovered Thursday morning before some already had seeped into a tributary of the Lynnhaven River that crosses under a major road and by some neighborhoods. 

The Coast Guard said it had contained the spill in Wolfsnare Creek, while Navy officials said air- and water-quality monitoring showed it wasn't endangering the public.

"Right now, all of our measurements have not even come close to where there's any threat to human health ," Coast Guard Capt. Kevin Carroll, deputy commander of Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads, said during a Thursday afternoon news conference. 

Tens of thousands of gallons of jet fuel escaped when a line at the base's bulk fuel facility began leaking unnoticed Wednesday, according to Beth Baker, a Navy Region Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman.  

The facility is adjacent to London Bridge Road, where traffic was rerouted for most of Thursday. 

The Navy said it had contained the spill on base Thursday, but not before it had spread to London Bridge Road as well as a ditch that runs parallel to it and into Wolfsnare Creek.

Carroll said barriers had been setup to prevent the fuel from seeping further, and fuel had not spread up the creek past Interstate 264 north of Oceana. Most of the spilled fuel remained on the base, Carroll said.

Coast Guard helicopters and watercraft checked the creek and it was "not showing any signs of sheen at this time," Carroll said.

Tim Ewell lives on London Bridge Road about a mile from the fuel tanks. He said he stepped outside around 10:30 a.m. to a heavy fuel smell. It persisted into Thursday afternoon as cleanup crews worked. 

"Whenever the wind picks up, I can smell it," he said Thursday afternoon. 

Baker said the spill did not affect the base's flight operations. Oceana serves as the Navy's East Coast master jet base and is home to multiple squadrons of F-18 fighter aircraft.

Story and photo gallery:

Pilot shortage, predictable funding are among commercial aviation's most pressing issues

Memphis airport chief Scott Brockman plans to spend his year as the nation’s top airport executive pushing for solutions to a pilot shortage, funding uncertainties and too much red tape.

Brockman was elected this week as chairman of the American Association of Airport Executives, whose 5,500 members represent more than 850 airports.

Brockman said his role puts Memphis at the forefront of legislative and regulatory discussions including whether to raise passenger facility charges, capped at $4.50 per departure since 2001, and streamlining programs that vet travelers for domestic and international flights.

Brockman, 55, joined the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority in 2003 and became president and chief executive three years ago. He previously was an airport executive in Tucson, Des Moines and Sarasota-Bradenton.

Airport board chairman Pace Cooper said Brockman’s national role bodes well for Memphis.

“Because the government legislative process is so crucial in driving success for airports like MEM, Scott's service will undoubtedly bring a halo effect of good tidings for our hometown,” Cooper said. “The (airport) board is proud of our authority president for his leadership and influence."

Brockman spoke with The Commercial Appeal about challenges facing airports and the aviation system.

He called it “a huge issue” that some 20,000 pilots are scheduled to retire over the next five years, and there aren’t enough pilots in the training pipeline.

Industry executives have blamed a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rule requiring co-pilots or first officers to log 1,500 flight hours, compared to a previous requirement of 250 hours, to obtain an Airline Transport Pilot certificate. The rule was a reaction to a Colgan Air crash near Buffalo, New York in 2009.

Not all training hours are created equal, Brockman said, and the association wants to work with agencies to come up with “a very quantifiable value on training hours.”

“An hour in a (Boeing) 737 simulator, addressing real situations, is much more valuable to a commercial pilot than an hour in a crop duster or single-engine private aircraft. What I want to do is work with the industry to develop a very well-thought out plan that says ‘If you go through a commercial pilot four-year course, what should that be worth?’” Brockman said.

Pilot training requirements fall within another Brockman focus area: over-regulation.

“The aviation industry, airports in particular, are some of the most regulated portion of our federal government," Brockman said. "We accept a grant and it brings you 40-something what they call grant assurances, which are quasi-regulations. We have to abide by them.

“I want to work with the administration and agencies to come together and develop a more common sense process; get rid of some of the regulations that don’t bring any value to the industry."

Travelers can enroll in the Transportation Security Administration’s TSA PreCheck program for expedited screening on domestic flights. The Customs and Border Protection Global Entry program covers international travelers and includes eligibility for TSA PreCheck. The programs maintain separate offices in airports.

“I want us to work with the TSA and Customs and Border Protection to see if there’s a way to combine and bring those programs, TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, together and save the federal government money and eliminate duplication,” Brockman said.

The association wants changes in the passenger facility charge (PFC) program, which authorizes a fee for each passenger departure to fund specific projects.

Memphis is one of few U.S. airports that does not have a PFC, but it has applied to the FAA for a $4.50 PFC to help pay for a $214 million modernization and expansion of the B Concourse.

“What we have asked for is for Congress to approve an increase and index the PFC program so it can keep up with inflation,” Brockman said. “A lot of airports want an unlimited PFC that lets the airport and the community decide how much they are willing to put on a traveler to pay for a project at their airport.”

Brockman said association lobbyists will be pushing hard for Congress to assure a steady long-term funding source for airport infrastructure and aviation-related programs. Airport Improvement Program grants are one source of funding in a stopgap authorization through Sept. 30.

“That affects us because our funding for grants, security, for TSA checkpoints, for Customs and Border Protection, all of those things are held up,” Brockman said. “One of my goals will be to try to get Congress to approve a multiyear, long-term reauthorization bill, so that the industry does not operate on 60-90-180-day funding plans. I or any other airport cannot fund a project when we have 90 days worth of grants.”

The concourse modernization, for example, counts on $28 million from the Airport Improvement Program.

Brockman’s term as association chairman is part of a six-year commitment to the executive committee. He started as secretary-treasurer three years ago and will serve another two years as a past chairman.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” he said.

Story and video:

Team seeks funding to solve 30-year Indiana Dunes plane crash mystery


Three decades ago, on a frigid winter’s night spitting snow, a single-engine aircraft carrying two couples bound from Ohio to Wisconsin crashed into the waters of Lake Michigan off the Indiana Dunes shoreline.

The only witness to the accident--an ear-witness who happened to be outside his home in the Dunes at the time--reported hearing a power dive, then the sound of a muffled impact. The man promptly called police and two officers just as promptly responded but, in the darkness and deteriorating weather conditions, they saw nothing on the extensive shelf ice nor anything beyond the ice either. Best guess: within minutes of hitting the lake, the plane, with its four occupants, was probably already resting on the bottom.

An extensive air and surface search commenced the next day, with the U.S. Coast Guard, Civil Air Patrol, DNR, Indiana State Police, and local law enforcement all contributing resources. The operation was severely hampered by poor weather, however, no debris was found, and after three days--with no reason to believe anyone survived the crash--the search was ended.

Ten months later, in the fall, the body of a man later identified as one of the passengers was recovered on the beach in Beverly Shores, not far from the presumed crash scene. Five years later, a piece of an aircraft’s horizontal stabilizer--the flat portion of its tail--was also recovered from the beach, although it’s not believed to have ever been positively identified as part of the plane which went down that January night.

And there, for a quarter of a century, the matter stood. At lake’s bottom: two mothers and a father. In Ohio: five orphans denied the opportunity to grieve their parents properly, at graveside. Here in Duneland: loss has succeeded loss, as sorrow has sorrow--it’s the way of community--and what Lake Michigan did to the aircraft, swallow it utterly, so time and the years have done this tragedy.

Kolibri Forensics

Then, several years ago, an Indianapolis man named Stephen Richey came to learn of the accident as an undergraduate, while working on an aircraft crash survivability project. At the time it seemed likely to Richey that, with a little more information and the right equipment, a team might not only succeed in locating the plane which had gone down a generation earlier but also--more to the point--find the craft intact with the three remaining victims aboard.

That hunch Richey filed away, only to return to it in 2016, when he co-founded Kolibri Forensics, a not-for-profit dedicated to providing forensic search-and-recovery services to law enforcement, county coroners and medical examiners, and families “who otherwise would not have access to them.” On casting about for Kolibri’s first case, Richey immediately recalled the 30-year-old crash in the Dunes.

His initial move: to assemble, with the assistance of local authorities, as complete a documentary record of the accident as still exists, from the days before digitizing. From that information Richey has narrowed the probable location of the plane to a reasonably contained area some hundreds of feet offshore in the Dunes and at an accessible depth of between 40 and 90 feet.

A Grave Site

Richey prefers at this time not to comment further on the plane’s suspected location, just as he prefers not to comment on other details of the crash: the exact date of the accident, the names of the victims, the model of the aircraft, and the pilot’s flight plan. His reason: the crash site is also a grave site, and while the Northwest Indiana dive community is famously decent and compassionate, there’s no getting around the fact that a few bad apples--possessed of the pertinent information--might get it into their heads to go grave-robbing.

“There are few things more disrespectful than grave robbery,” Richey told the Chesterton Tribune. “And that is a very real risk in a case like this where the depth of the water does not keep all but the most skilled divers at bay. Most divers are incredibly respectful but there are a few whose moral compass points south.”

In any case, those tempted to dive the wreck themselves should know this: doing so would be a crime as well as a descration, says Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris. “The Coroner’s Office is asking anyone who comes in contact with the wreckage of the plane or any potential human remains to be advised that it’s the Coroner’s jurisdiction to investigate the scene as long as human remains are present. Anyone who interferes with the investigation in any way could face fines and/or criminal charges. Persons with information about the crash are asked to contact the Coroner’s Office at (219) 548-0208.”

Planning a Search

Kolibri’s next move, accordingly, planned for sometime this summer: to conduct a search of the suspected crash site with side-scan sonar. “A number of factors argue that this is a viable choice for a search,” Richey says. “The only way to prove that is to get boats out on the water and see if the information we have been able to collect so far leads to a resolution for the missing and their families.”

“Most aircraft that have similar speed capabilities to this one remain intact when they hit water,” Richey adds. “So in my opinion, and in that of all of the sonar specialists I've spoken with, there is a high likelihood that the aircraft should be readily recognizable.”

Kolibri’s principals certainly have the chops for the operation. Richey himself is a trained diver and former deputy coroner, has a background in emergency medical services, and served stateside with the U.S. Air Force. His wife is likewise a diver and EMT. Other Kolibri board members include an Indianapolis paramedic; a Colorado emergency physician who is also a pilot and diver; and a Canadian aviation archaeologist.

Supplementing the team will be a side-scan sonar operator from Minnesota, who will supply a boat and possibly a small remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV); and a group of volunteers from Michigan, who will provide two other boats, one capable of supporting divers, and at least one additional side-scan unit.

Funding Needed

What Kolibri does not currently have is sufficient funds to cover the expenses of the anticipated five-day operation: travel, fuel, food, accommodations. Richey estimates the total cost at $4,000. None of Kolibri’s personnel will make a dime off the project--none of them, he says, would accept a dime--but boats with side-scan don't go into the water for free.

To that end, Richey has created a GoFundMe for the project. Visit www.GoFundMe and search for “Kolibri Forensics.” To date contributors’ pledges have put a good-size dent in the $4,000 goal, but a significant shortfall remains.

Richey is specifically appealing to the generosity of Dunelanders, not just to help solve a 30-year-old mystery in their own backyard but far more important to help return the victims’ remains to their loved ones. “Missions like these are important for a very simple reason,” he says. “Show me how a person respects their dead and I can tell you with certainty their moral character, their respect for others, and their aspiration to the ideals that make a country great.”

“To anyone questioning the value of such a mission,” Richey suggests, “I would ask this question: What would you say if it were your mother or father? If it were your child? Would you want them safe and secure and buried with dignity? Would you want them to come home? That is what we are trying to offer the families in this case.”

“When you take on a case like this, what keeps you going through all the tools and snares is the fact that you become responsible for and accountable to the missing,” Richey adds. “In a way, they become like family you never knew. So you persevere because you owe it to them and their families. Someone has to take up the mantle for those fallen and when the time comes, every single person at Kolibri is willing to raise their hand. That’s why we’re here.”

Original article can be found here:

Aeros 2: Accident occurred October 29, 2016 in Blountstown, Calhoun County, Florida

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Alabama/ Northwest Florida FSDO; Vestavia Hills, Alabama

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA198
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 29, 2016 in Blountstown, FL
Aircraft: AEROS 2, registration: NONE
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The noncertificated pilot of a weight-shift controlled trike reported that during the takeoff he was "fighting the wing." He added that the aircraft was about 30 feet above ground, when he "pulled on the control bar," the right wing rose, and the left wing dipped down. The aircraft subsequently impacted the terrain in a left wing down attitude to the left of the runway.

The center fuselage spar and wing sustained substantial damage.

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

The pilot added that the accident flight was his first flight in the unregistered trike. He added that he possessed no pilot certificate and had received no flight training prior to the accident flight. He reported that when he purchased the weight-shift controlled trike, the bill of sale indicated that the aircraft was an "ultralight."

According to the trike's operating manual, the aircraft specifications exceeded the maximum takeoff weight, fuel capacity, and seat limitations stated in 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 103 for ultralight aircraft.

Hummel H5, N646MP: Incident occurred May 10, 2017 in Aurora, Portage County, Ohio 

AURORA, Ohio-- The small plane that made an emergency landing in Aurora experienced an engine issue, police say.

The pilot called 911 at about 10 p.m. Wednesday to report he was forced to land in a field near North Aurora and North Bissell roads.

"There's power lines, structures all over the place. So he was able to find that field that was clear and was able to successfully navigate and land the plane without any injuries or any damage to anything," Lt. Andy Lumpkins said.

The pilot told FOX 8 he didn't know that particular field was there, but he's always scanning for potential emergency landing locations.

The pilot is now tasked with removing the small aircraft. He said not all places that work for landings are suitable for takeoff.

No charges will be filed and the Ohio State Highway Patrol is not investigating since the plane didn't crash.

Story and video:

Boeing Should Soon Resume 737 Max Jetliner Test Flights, Start Deliveries: A limited number of the Leap-1B engines are affected by a manufacturing quality problem

The Wall Street Journal

By Robert Wall
Updated May 11, 2017 8:34 a.m. ET

Boeing Co. should be able to resume test flying its new 737 Max jetliner soon and deliver the first of the planes this month after a flaw in some of its engines forced the plane maker to halt flights, a key engine supplier said Thursday,

A limited number of the Leap-1B engines powering the Boeing plane are affected by a manufacturing quality problem, said Olivier Andriès, head of Safran Aircraft Engines. The French company makes the engines in the CFM International joint venture with General Electric Co.

Boeing Wednesday said it temporarily idled its fleet of 737 Max planes days before it planned to dispatch the first of the single-aisle jets to Malaysia for use by a unit of Indonesia’s Lion Air, the launch operator. It said the first plane is still due to be handed over this month, the Chicago-based plane maker said.

“This is not a design problem,” Mr. Andriès said in an interview. The Leap engines the joint venture makes for planes made by Airbus SE and China’s plane maker Comac aren’t affected, he said.

Mr. Andriès said one supplier he wouldn’t identify had delivered suspect parts in the turbine, the key part of an aircraft engine. Those engines will be partly disassembled with parts shipped back to France for inspection. Getting all engines checked and fixed should be completed in “a few weeks,” he said.

Safran has asked other parts suppliers to ramp up production of the component to avoid a delivery shortfall this year. CFM plans to deliver 450 to 500 engines Leap engines this year. Mr. Andriès said the company was currently focused on fixing the issue and hasn’t determined its financial impact.

The last minute engine issue is a black eye for Boeing on a development program that appeared to be progressing smoothly and was running ahead of schedule, a rarity for recent aircraft development projects at the U.S. plane maker, the world’s No. 1, its European rival and others.

Airbus and Boeing have recently bet on a series of upgraded planes sporting new engines, rather than all-new designs, to minimize risk. But those more modest developments have also suffered setbacks. Airbus has struggled getting A320neo single-aisle planes, its rival to Boeing’s 737 Max, out the door amid issues with an engine supplier by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp. An Airbus widebody upgrade also is running behind schedule because of issues with engine made by Britain’s Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC.

Original article can be found here:

Boeing Halts Flights of New 737 Max Jet:  Aerospace company cites engine problems for the temporary suspension, but still plans to deliver the first plane to a customer this month

Boeing Co. said Wednesday that it had suspended flight tests of its new 737 Max jetliner because of problems with its engine, though still planned to deliver the first plane to its customer this month.

The company announced a “temporary suspension” of flights, just days before the first of the single-aisle jets was due to be flown to Malaysia. The jets are due to be operated thereby a unit of Indonesia’s Lion Air, the launch operator.

Boeing has secured 3,700 orders for the 737 Max, powered by Leap engines made by the CFM  joint venture between General Electric Co. and Safran SA.

“We will work closely with CFM to understand the precise scope and root cause of the quality issue,” Boeing said in a statement.

Teething problems are common with complex new aircraft programs. Airbus SE has also encountered problems with initial engines powering its new A320neo jet made by the Pratt & Whitney unit of United Technologies Corp. , forcing the plane maker to reduce output of the jet.

Airbus has deferred some production to next year to ensure sufficient Pratt & Whitney engines are available. Air Lease Corp. , the aircraft lessor, last week said Airbus was also delaying some deliveries of A320neo jets powered by a version of the CFM Leap.

Cai von Rumohr at Cowen & Co. said in a client note that he saw the problem with Boeing’s engine as “an easily fixable sub-tier supplier component issue” rather than a design problem.

Boeing shares fell around 3.5% before recovering somewhat to close down 1.3%. GE shares also lost ground, settling 0.8% lower.

GE and its partner invested heavily ahead of a huge planned ramp in production of the Leap engine powering the 737 Max, wary of the problems suffered by Pratt & Whitney.

Boeing plans to deliver around 75 new 737 Max jets this year to customers, including Southwest Airlines Co. and American Airlines Group Inc. The first plane was due to start flying on May 19 for Malindo Air. Boeing didn’t give a new delivery date.

Norwegian Air Shuttle AS A, which is also expecting to receive jets this month, said it had been informed by Boeing of the issue and given new delivery dates with only a few days delay that wouldn’t affect the launch of some new flights.

Original article can be found here:

North Carolina Senate budget would provide money to replace Raleigh-Durham International Airport (KRDU) runway

RALEIGH -   Raleigh-Durham International Airport would receive tens of millions of dollars from the state for capital projects under the state Senate’s proposed budget.

Under existing state funding sources, RDU gets $500,000 per year. But under the Senate budget released this week, RDU would receive an additional $21 million in 2017-18 and about $31 million in recurring funds starting in 2018-19.

The additional funding could help pay for a $305 million project to replace the airport’s longest runway, which is needed to continue to accommodate and attract new trans-continental and international flights. The proposed budget also includes additional money for eight other commercial airports in the state, including Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, Wilmington International Airport and Asheville Regional Airport.

“We are grateful that the Senate leadership is taking the needs of our state’s airports so seriously,” said Kristie VanAuken, RDU’s vice president of communications and community affairs. “We are encouraged, but we know that we have not crossed the finish line.”

Earlier this year, Sen. Bill Rabon, a Republican from Brunswick County and chair of the Senate Rules Committee, filed a bill that would allocate additional funding for RDU and said he intended work to create an ongoing source of money for capital projects for the state’s airports. Those goals are now reflected in the Senate budget. The House has yet to release its proposed budget.

“All airports – general aviation also – are something that we have allowed to go lacking for years,” Rabon said. “It is probably one of, if not the best, economic driver we have in this state.”

Some of the money for airport projects will come from a short-term motor vehicle lease and rental tax, which generates about $65 million per year. That money currently goes into the general fund, but the Senate budget proposes shifting about $10 million per year into the Highway Fund.

Rabon said he would like to see all the revenue from the tax moved to the Highway Fund. He also hoped the legislature would do more in the future, including create a recurring source of funding for general aviation airports as well.

RDU’s runway

In the next few years, RDU’s 10,000-foot runway will need to be replaced before it reaches the end of its useful life in the next 3 to 5 years. The new runway will be parallel to the existing one on the western side of the airport.

Without the new runway, the airport would be left with only one commercial runway, and at 7,500 feet, it isn’t long enough to accommodate trans-Atlantic or trans-continental flights. A new runway also would be needed if the airport hopes to attract a flight to China.

Airport officials have been clamoring for state help. RDU staff have said for every dollar the airport has paid into the Federal Airport Improvement Program, it has gotten back about 3.7 cents. That’s because the $20 billion needed by U.S. airports each year is significantly more than the funding available through federal programs, according to a report by Airports Council International – North America, an association representing airport owners and operators.

“The federal government simply cannot do it alone,” VanAuken said. “They cannot fund the infrastructure that is necessary at North Carolina’s airports. The state is doing the right thing by investing in all of them.”

Also, under federal rules, RDU must forgo 75 percent of the airport improvement program money it is entitled to because it collects a $4.50 facility charge from every passenger who boards a plane there. Airport officials nationwide are urging Congress to repeal that rule as well as lift the $4.50 cap on passenger facility charges, which haven’t been raised since 2000.

Other airports

The Senate’s proposed budget also includes money for the state’s other commercial airports in the coming two fiscal years. The amounts are based on the economic output of commercial airports that are medium-sized hubs or smaller, according to the budget. Here’s what the airports would receive each year:

▪ Albert J. Ellis Airport in Onslow County, $864,708.

▪ Asheville Regional Airport, $2,026,331.

▪ Coastal Carolina Regional Airport in New Bern, $653,162.

▪ Concord Regional Airport, $586,901.

▪ Fayetteville Regional Airport, $1,139,670.

▪ Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, $7,123,082.

▪ Pitt-Greenville Airport in Greenville, $377,070.

▪ Wilmington International Airport, $5,946,945.

Original article can be found here:

Aviation Museum looking to spread its wings

Volunteer Paul Scarlett and Executive Director Jessica Pappathan show off a refurbished cockpit to Aviation Museum visitor Stephen Larcara of Louisville, Kentucky.

LONDONDERRY — Jessica Pappathan, executive director of the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire, watched as docent Paul Scarlett of Manchester soared and dipped over Southern New Hampshire while operating a flight simulator. “There’s Mount Monadnock, there’s Pawtuckaway,” Scarlett narrated. “There’s Mount Uncanoonuc, see the communication towers?”

“Paul really knows how to run the simulator,” Pappathan said. “I’m learning, but I can never quite manage to land.”

That statement doesn’t apply to the museum, which is reaching out to the community and back in history to give a full picture of aviation in New Hampshire and also inspire children and teens to seek careers in flight. The compact building, itself a piece of history, contains the resources to do both.

Touching the past

On a rainy weekday, Scarlett began his tour with a mural of New Hampshire aviators and what they did. The familiar faces are there, astronaut Alan Shepard of Derry, the first American in space, and Concord’s Christa McAuliffe, who planned to be the first teacher in space. There’s Lt. Robert Fogg, a pilot and lecturer, who flew biplanes over the Rochester Fairgrounds in 1910.

There’s Thaddeus Lowe, who flew even earlier, using a helium balloon to help the Union effort in the Civil War. “He was the first aviator of the Civil War,” Scarlett said.

There’s Carmen Onofrio of Milan, who contracted with the State of New Hampshire to deliver goods to people at the top of Mount Washington. “The runway was only 150 feet wide,” Scarlett said. “He had skis on his airplane. He was contracted to earn $550 for a delivery. One time he crashed, and the skis were ruined. It cost him $500 to replace the skis. He made $50 off that run.”

Manchester’s Bernice Blake, a daughter of the restaurant family, was the first licensed female pilot in the state, Scarlett said.

Touching the future

One of Christa McAuliffe’s most-remembered quotes is, “I touch the future — I teach,” and the Aviation Museum has the next generation in its sights with programs for children and teens. Much of the education goes on in the Vincent DeVino Classroom, a modern space with desks and computers honoring the museum’s first executive director.

The classroom houses one of the museum’s most ambitious programs, an Aviation Education course offered to high school students. The class meets twice a week after school for a full year. Three school districts, Exeter, Londonderry and Manchester, offer full credit for the course, Pappathan said.

While the free course does not include flight instruction, one motivated student took the course two times, and the instructor walked him through the process of getting a pilot’s license, Pappathan said.

“It is the jewel in our crown,” she said.

The staff and volunteers are also interested in catching the imaginations of younger children, and two years ago they launched a school outreach program. It’s a one-hour presentation on the physics of flight, for students in grades K-8, and usually includes something hands-on like a paper airplane workshop. This is also free to the schools, paid for by the museum budget and by grants.

“Wherever we can drive, we’ll go,” Pappathan said.

But they also teach children through story times, usually on their Family First Friday events. And the facility has several kid-friendly components, including a low table where they can design their own airport with movable pieces.

In the hangar

The first building in the complex was a 1937 Art Deco-style building that had been the airport’s second terminal. In 2011, thanks to a major gift from Anne and Eugene Slusser of Hopkinton, an addition was built. The Slusser Learning Center is a hangar-style building where real, full-sized airplanes are exhibited. Both children and adults can climb into a refurbished Embraer 110 cockpit and sit at the controls. “They were going to demolish it, but we approached them,” Pappathan said. “We originally wanted to put a flight simulator inside.” But they stayed true to the mission of attracting children to aviation, and left the technology out. “We wanted children to be able to play in it,” Pappathan said.

The old building is connected to the new by, appropriately, a simulated wind tunnel.

A mannequin representing Thaddeus Lowell hangs from the ceiling in an old-fashioned wicker balloon basket. “Rene Paquin, one of our volunteers, and his wife made the uniform,” Scarlett said, adding, “The level of talent here is amazing.”

The addition allows space for a full-sized biplane built by James Jackson of Brookline. it is the ultimate model airplane, constructed by Jackson over a five-year period, Scarlett said.

As she relaxed in the library, Pappathan said her wish list includes more space. “I would love for us to expand physically,” she said. “We have so many fabulous items we can’t put on display.” They have two full-sized airplanes in hangars in Nashua, because there is no room for them, she said.

But she, her staff and the museum board also want to continue their outreach to the next generation. “We are committed to education, and to doing school programs at no cost,” she said.

And some of that education may be for her, Pappathan admitted. When she came on staff, “everyone was urging me to get a pilot’s license,” she said. She initially resisted. “But I’ve fallen in love with aviation, and now I’m considering it,” she said.

Upcoming events at the Aviation Museum include paper airplane exhibit and workshop this Saturday, May 13; a barbecue and fly-in June 10 at Nashua Jet Aviation; a fly-in and barbecue at its own facility July 8; a car show Aug. 19; an aviation art show some time in the fall; and a gala and auction Sept. 29. Regular hours are Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m., and Monday through Thursday by appointment. Admission is $5, adults, $4, seniors and veterans, $2.50, ages 12 to 15, and free to under 12. The museum is located at 27 Navigator Road. For more information, visit

Original article can be found here: