Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tucson, Arizona: Rescue helps hawk hit by plane get his wings back


A red-tailed hawk on the brink of death after being hit by an airplane is getting ready to take to the skies again, thanks to a local animal rescue.

The bird was found badly injured on the tarmac of Tucson International Airport after a pilot called in to the tower to let them know he’d hit it.

“Mark Gomez and his rescue team who work with the airport went out and found him on the runway,” said Janet Miller of Wildlife Rehabilitation in northwest Tucson. “When he first came in, basically he was just laying there. He wasn't able to stand because of the trauma.”

Miller and her team have nursed the bird back to health during the past two months. They named him "Sully," after the "Miracle on the Hudson" pilot.

His remarkable recovery has been a bright spot in a particularly devastating year.

Last month, a fire broke out at Miller’s facility. A large portion of the rescue was destroyed, and dozens of birds died in the blaze. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

“You know you can't be working closely with animals like that and not really feel a special sorrow,” said Miller.

Despite the devastating loss, Miller is determined to rehabilitate the birds still in her care.

As for Sully, his time at the facility will soon come to an end. The rescue team is performing final test flights to make sure he is fully recovered before releasing him into the wild.

“It’s always exciting to know that something has a chance again in the wild,” said Miller.  “They are up against a lot of things in the environment that weren't there before. This is to give them that second chance so they can be in the wild where they belong.”

Miller is in the very early stages of rebuilding the facility, which she founded decades ago. For more information on how you can help, click here. 

Original article can be found here:

Kevin Wickstrom: Francis Aviation Hires Pilot with Wide-Ranging Experience

Trade shows, conventions, and family vacations mean summer travel. Given recent events in the news, more people are choosing to bypass the airlines, citing anxiety and inconvenience. More people are choosing to fly charter.

Passengers of charter pilot Kevin Wickstrom should feel even more comfortable than most. Any flying condition that can arise is probably something that their pilot has had to deal with more than once.

For the past few weeks, Wickstrom has been based in Santa Teresa, NM as the newest charter pilot with Francis Aviation. But flying charter is just the latest chapter in an extensively varied flying career that spans 26 years.

Like many young pilots, Wickstrom started his professional flying career as a flight instructor. Then he flew Apache helicopters for the Army for eight and a half years, including one combat tour to Iraq in 2005.

He worked in aircraft maintenance for some time. His Army “front seater” told him about an opportunity with the US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine unit in El Paso.

In his eight and a half years with the CBP unit, he flew many different airplanes and helicopters. He was also the Branch Safety Officer and an Instructor Pilot in several aircraft types. Single-engine Cessna 206 and 210s, OH6 Helicopters, AStar Helicopters, Hueys, and jets were all in a day’s work, depending on the mission.

“I remember once flying three different aircraft in one day – rotor and fixed-wing,” he remarked.

Wickstrom’s daughter Kaci Wickstrom told him about an opening for a charter pilot at Francis Aviation. Kaci is the Customer Service Supervisor at Francis Aviation.

Chief Pilot David Filyes was pleased that Wickstrom applied for the job.

“I had seen his flying firsthand when I was a Border Patrol Agent with the CPB, so I was very comfortable hiring someone that I had flown with,” said Filyes. “He also knows the area really well!”

Francis Aviation’s fleet consists exclusively of two new, twin engine, eight-seat King Air 350is. So, Wickstrom’s recent piloting opportunities have been much more consistent.

“I love the King Air. It’s the ‘Suburban of the sky’,” said Wickstrom. “You can load it up with passengers and luggage, and it has a nice long range.”

The Francis Aviation charter craft also include executive interiors and noise reduction. Wickstrom and his passengers enjoy a much more luxurious experience than he’s had in the past.

He enjoys flying passengers. “I’ve been in six states in the last week,” Wickstrom said, detailing an itinerary that included Virginia, Alabama, Illinois, Arkansas, Florida and back to Texas. “And you can’t beat the view!”

When not flying, Kevin enjoys spending time with his wife of 22 years, Christal and their daughter Kaci Wickstrom.

About Francis Aviation

Francis Aviation provides luxury charter flights and FBO services at the Doña Ana County International Jetport and the Las Cruces International Airport. They serve the border area centered around El Paso, Texas. Nonstop charter flights are available to an approximately 1000 mile area covering most of the United States and Mexico. Francis Aviation can be reached online at

Original article can be found here:

Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office: Helicopter training at Lake Mendocino this weekend

The Mendocino and Napa County Sheriff’s Offices have announced that Search and Rescue Helicopter Awareness Training at Lake Mendocino this weekend will limit hiking trail access from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening.

In recent years, there has been an increase in extended search and rescue, or SAR, missions in mountainous terrains across California that are difficult to access, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reported.

These searches often require logistical support and depend on aviation in cases of lost people or injured searchers. So, California State SAR coordinators and the California Office of Emergency Services have called for more air assets to assist from cooperating agencies, including the California National Guard, Cal Fire, California Highway Patrol and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

Air assets typically assist in deploying or extracting resources to remote areas or provide medical extractions (hoist) to people who have been injured, the MCSO said in a press release. A similar training held at Lake Mendocino last year was successful, so it was expanded to benefit more SAR teams across the state.

In addition to wilderness SAR missions, these allied air assets can be called to assist other emergency response personnel during incidents involving emergencies, natural disasters and law enforcement missions, the MCSO said. This assistance is provided as a mutual aid support system and can include providing critical transportation of personnel, medical and general evacuation, logistical supply, searching from the air and technical night search capabilities using Forward Looking Infrared cameras.

The joint training effort will use the National Guard CH47D Chinook, U/HH60 Blackhawk, UH72A Lakota, the Cal Fire UH1H Super Huey and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Bell 407 helicopters.

Friday afternoon through Sunday evening, people near Lake Mendocino and the Ukiah Valley will see an increase in helicopter activity. Access to the South Lake Mendocino Wildlife Area, including all hiking trails south and east of the Lake Mendocino Dam, will be limited due to safety concerns.

Original article can be found here:

Learjet 25B, XA-VMC, Aerotransportes Huitzilin: Fatal accident occurred May 17, 2017 near Toluca-Licenciado Adolfo López Mateos International Airport (TLC)

Story and photo:

MEXICO CITY — Mexican aviation authorities say a private jet has crashed near the airport of Toluca, killing two people on board.

The Toluca International Airport says in a statement that the Learjet 25B owned by Aerotransportes Huitzilin went down shortly after takeoff Wednesday afternoon.

A captain and co-pilot were the only two people on the plane. Both died.

The crash took place about 200 yards (meters) outside the airport’s perimeter fence.

Authorities said they were investigating and airport operations were not affected.

The airport is about 15 miles (30 kilometers) west of the outskirts of Mexico City.

Original article can be found here:

Benedum Airport Authority considers shale gas lease: North Central West Virginia Airport (KCKB), Bridgeport, Harrison County, West Virginia

BRIDGEPORT — Members of the Benedum Airport Authority on Wednesday discussed entering into a lease agreement for the rights to the Marcellus shale gas under the North Central West Virginia Regional Airport property.

The measure was conditionally approved by the Authority, pending further negotiations.

Dean Ramsey, the Authority’s attorney, brought the proposal before the board during its monthly meeting.

The five-year agreement between the Authority and natural gas company Arsenal Resources would bring in a $282,864 initial fee with additional revenues from royalties to follow, Ramsey said.

The process of gas removal, which would be done using horizontal drilling, would occur at depths of more than 6,000 feet and would not affect airport operations, Ramsey said.

The lease would only apply to a 188.5-acre section of the airport’s more than 500 acres of property.

“Its a standard oil and gas lease,” Ramsey said. “If the terms of the royalties are appropriate, it will be acceptable to airport.”

Ramsey said Arsenal initially approached the airport with idea to lease its shale gas rights and offered 14 percent royalties.

The board authorized Ramsey to enter into negotiations with Arsenal to try and secure a royalty rate of 15 percent.

“We will have to get a response from them,” he said. “Fifteen percent is not standard in every lease, it is a negotiated thing that varies.”

Authority President Ron Watson said he supported the lease agreement.

“I think it's certainly a revenue source for us,” he said. “If our legal counsel has already reviewed it and feels that it is in our best interest, what do we have to lose? It’s $250,000 we didn’t have before.”

Watson said the Authority was confident in Ramsey’s ability to secure the best deal for the airport.

“We’ll do the best we can with negotiating the fees,” he said. "We are always looking for new revenue sources. We’ve got it, it's laying there, why not reap some benefit?”

Airport Director Rick Rock said many other airports routinely enter into shale gas lease agreements to create new sources of revenue.

“It’s very common with airports, especially within our region. It’s been a great source of income for airports.”

The money from the lease will go towards normal airport operations, Rock said.

“It gives us the opportunity to have some additional funding that we can utilize to maintain and improve the infrastructure of the airport,” he said.

Rock said he expects the negotiation process to favor the airport.

“Right now they’re at 14 percent and we feel that there is room for them to move in our favor,” he said.

Rock informed the authority that carrier Allegiant Air will be changing its flight schedule in November of 2017. 

Currently the carrier offers flights on Thursdays and Sundays, but will change its schedule to Mondays and Fridays.

Rock said the change was for passenger convenience. 

"Its known most travel occurs on Mondays and Fridays," he said.  

Also during the meeting, Rock suggested the possibility of adding a stand or small shop to the airport's terminal that would sell concessions to travelers.

Rock said the proposed venture could sell travel-sized bottles of liquor and other alcoholic beverages to passengers to create additional revenue for the airport.

The issue was tabled by the Authority until airline regulations on alcohol and alcohol consumption could be further researched.   

Original article can be found here:

Alaska Airlines will start passenger flights from Snohomish County Airport - Paine Field (KPAE), Everett, Washington

Starting next year, people living north of Seattle will have Everett’s Paine Field as an alternative to Seattle-Tacoma International, as Alaska Airlines begins daily passenger flights likely serving popular destinations in Oregon and California.

“As our region continues to grow at a record pace and Sea-Tac Airport nears capacity, the time is right,” said Alaska Airlines chief executive Brad Tilden. “Today’s news means less time stuck in traffic on Interstate 5 and more time enjoying your vacation or making the most of your business trip.”

Alaska announced Wednesday it plans to begin the flights in fall 2018, but it won’t disclose specific routes and flight schedules — or begin selling tickets — until early next year.

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers welcomed the news as a boost for the county.

 “Businesses will have easier access to major markets and leisure travelers can skip the commute down south, saving time and fuel,” Somers said.

Alaska said that, subject to expected FAA approval, it plans to operate nine daily departures from the airport, where ground-breaking on a new passenger terminal is scheduled for next month.

Brett Smith, chief executive of New York-based private equity firm Propeller Airports, the developer of the passenger terminal, said Wednesday that Alaska is only the first airline to commit to starting service out of Paine Field and he expects more to come.

“We have interest from a number of carriers,” Smith said in an interview. “I’m confident there will be more than Alaska by next year.”

The new terminal will be relatively small, with just two airport gates. With typical turn times that means the capacity of the airport will be roughly 16 flights per day at peak.

Alaska didn’t disclose which cities it plans to fly to, but in a blog post on the airline’s website, John Kirby, vice president of capacity planning, said the service out of Paine Field “won’t be limited to short, regional flights.”

“We’re talking daily, nonstop flights to some of our most popular destinations,” Kirby wrote.

Flights to Portland, Ore., San Francisco and Los Angeles would likely attract good traffic out of Everett.

In a press release, Alaska said north Puget Sound travelers “could shave up to 80 minutes off their airport commute, during peak traffic congestion,” by using Paine Field rather than driving down I-5 to reach Sea-Tac airport.

Propeller CEO Smith said he expects to see “a lot of West Coast flying” out of Paine Field.

“Anything west of the Rockies is fair game,” he said.

Flights to western Canada are also options. For such international flights, the Paine Field terminal wouldn’t need customs or border checks, since U.S. Customs and Border Protection operate inside Canadian airports.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson said that having the region’s largest airline be the first to announce scheduled passenger service from Everett “confirms the value commercial flights will bring to the local economy.”

New passenger terminal

Paine Field was originally constructed in 1936 during the Depression, eight years before Sea-Tac was built during World War II.

It’s currently used by Boeing for test and delivery of its widebody jets and by private owners of small general aviation airplanes. It’s also home to a major aviation maintenance facility for commercial airliners and several flight schools.

The site is a major regional tourist attraction as well. Visitors flock to the Future of Flight aviation exhibition and the associated Boeing factory tour as well as to Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection of wartime airplanes and the Historic Flight Foundation’s collection of antique planes.

After the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2012 cleared the way for commercial passenger flights out of Paine Field, some local residents concerned about traffic, noise and property values unsuccessfully sued the agency.

Propeller’s Smith said all the regulatory hurdles for the terminal have now been dealt with and permissions approved, including final mitigation of a storm water issue raised by one local resident.

The only remaining government approval needed is for the FAA to clear the airline to fly out of a new airport.

Joe Sprague, Alaska’s senior vice president of external relations, said the airline does not anticipate any difficulty in winning that approval.

He said Alaska is aware of the past opposition by some residents to developing Paine Field.

“Airport and airplane noise has been an issue for decades. It is a relevant issue,” Sprague said. “We are trying to work with neighborhood groups to understand their concerns and to mitigate them.”

Alaska plans to start passenger service flying Embraer 175 regional jets, which seat 76 passengers and will be operated by subsidiary Horizon Air, as well as larger Boeing 737 aircraft seating up to 189 passengers and operated by the mainline carrier Alaska Airlines.

The plan by Propeller Airports to develop a passenger terminal at Paine Field was approved in 2015 by Snohomish County, which owns the airport.

Propeller has paid for the design and all the environmental studies and mitigation necessary and is also paying for the terminal’s construction and operation — an investment Smith said is worth “north of $30 million.”

Propeller will lease the terminal for an initial 30 years, paying the county about $430,000 per year plus a share of the revenues: 2.5 percent for the first five years and 5 percent thereafter.

Smith said that at peak capacity of around 16 flights per day he anticipates roughly 1,000 passengers per day in and out of the airport, or about 300,000 per year.

That compares to some 42 million per year at Sea-Tac.

Alaska said “one million residents of northern King County, Snohomish County and surrounding communities” could benefit from service out of Paine Field.

Smith, who is moving from New York to Seattle in July “to make sure it’s done right,” promised a “personal touch” for passengers at the small airport, with a high ratio of airport staff to passengers.

“We’re very much focused on the customer experience,” Smith said.

The plans at Paine Field are too small-scale to have a major impact on the hectic growth at Sea-Tac airport, which has for a couple of years been the fastest growing large airport in the U.S.

“The region is growing so much. The economy, jobs, population, everything is on the increase,” said Alaska’s Sprague. “Sea-Tac is today the primary commercial airport for this region and will be for generations. It’s our No. 1 hub.”

Original article can be found here:

The Southwest flight that flew nonstop — to West Mifflin, Pennsylvania

While jets and planes of all sorts filled the skies over Pittsburgh International Airport last weekend for the comeback of a popular air show, there was one big one that didn’t make it that far.

It was Southwest Flight 3316, which took off from Orlando, Fla., at 1:45 p.m. Sunday bound for Pittsburgh International in Findlay only to end up at the Allegheny County Airport, a general aviation facility typically reserved for Cessnas, Pipers and corporate jets — not Boeing 737s carrying 143 passengers.

The jet touched down in West Mifflin, about 18 nautical miles short of its destination, at 3:58 p.m. when it ran low on fuel. According to Southwest, the pilot made the decision “to avoid using contingency fuel reserve after being in a holding pattern by air traffic controllers.” The plane landed safely.

At the time, the air space around Pittsburgh International was closed off because of the Wings over Pittsburgh air show, raising questions about whether the restrictions played a role in forcing a commercial airliner low on fuel to look elsewhere for a landing spot.

Maj. Charles Baker, who ran the show for the 911th Airlift Wing in Moon, said Monday he was still trying to gather the details of the incident and talk to the parties involved to determine what happened.

He stressed that there are procedures in place to stop the show and clear air space for commercial airliners in emergencies. Those procedures include an air traffic controller on the ground who is in touch with the control tower in Pittsburgh and the approach facility, he said.

“Safety trumps all. We have no problem stopping the show for safety at any point,” said Maj. Baker, chief of air crew training at the 911th. “We don’t want to be diverting anybody into Allegheny County Airport.”

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the flight restrictions were in place around the airport from 3:15 p.m. to 4:06 p.m. on Sunday, as the Southwest flight was headed into Pittsburgh.

In its statement, the FAA said the pilot requested to divert to the county airport but did not report an emergency.

That differs somewhat from the Southwest statement. It said that “out of an abundance of caution, the captain in command declared an emergency to receive priority handling from air traffic controllers to use the alternate airport.”

Based on the statements, it does not appear that the pilot asked for the air space restrictions to be lifted so that the plane could land at Pittsburgh International.

Thais Hanson, a Southwest spokeswoman, said the airline had no additional detail to offer. She said the pilot “safely diverted the aircraft, ahead of entering contingency fuel reserves, to an alternate airport — as we do often and by the book when unforeseen operational challenges arise (i.e thunderstorms, high winds, airfield/​airspace closures).”

Maj. Baker called the incident “kind of a head-scratcher.”

“We’re all kind of stumped. It almost sounds like the Southwest pilot chose to go into Allegheny County before he even checked in with Pittsburgh. We’re very sensitive to what we’re doing. At no point, if there were a low-fuel emergency or anything like that would we force someone to divert,” he said.

Maj. Baker said the 911th begins coordinating the details of the air show with the county’s airport authority, which operates Pittsburgh International and the county airport; air traffic controllers; and the station managers for the airlines well in advance of the event. It tries to work around the flight schedules provided by the carriers.

During the air show, pilots are given details about when restrictions are in place as part of the paperwork they receive before taking off for Pittsburgh, Maj. Baker said.

He added that the 911th wants to determine what happened so that it can “do our best to mitigate this in the future.”

For the passengers who ended up short of their intended destination, Southwest provided pizza and buses to make the long trek back to Pittsburgh International. The bus ride added about 45 minutes on the ground to the two hours plus they spent in the sky.

According to the airport authority, some travelers chose to be picked up by friends or family at the county airport.

And the 737? It finally left West Mifflin at 11 a.m. Monday.

Original article can be found here:

Cirrus SR22, N2242Y, Bolted and Welded LLC: Incident occurred May 16, 2017 in Monticello, Sullivan County, New York

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Albany, New York

Bolted and Welded LLC:

Aircraft on landing on a racetrack, went off the pavement and struck a berm.  

Date: 16-MAY-17
Time: 12:30:00Z
Regis#: N2242Y
Aircraft Make: CIRRUS
Aircraft Model: SR22
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)

Aeronca 7AC, N3046E: Accident occurred May 15, 2017 at Lebanon State Airport (S30), Linn County, Oregon

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:


The pilot of the tailwheel-equipped airplane reported that, during the landing roll in a crosswind, the airplane "started weathervaning…with some sideways sliding." He added that he decided to go around, but about 2 ft above the ground, "knowing I [he] couldn't climb fast enough to clear the top of the…[hangars] on the east side of the runway, I [he] pulled power back." The airplane touched down again, exited the left side of the runway, crossed a ditch, and came to rest on the taxiway.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing.

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

The pilot reported the wind as variable, gusting to 15 knots. The pilot landed on runway 34. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain directional control during the landing roll in gusting wind conditions. 


Directional control - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Gusts - Effect on operation

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Portland, Oregon

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA288
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, May 15, 2017 in Lebanon, OR
Aircraft: AERONCA 7AC, registration: N3046E
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 pilot of the tailwheel-equipped airplane reported that, during the landing roll in a crosswind, the airplane "started weathervaneing me[him] with some sideways sliding". He added that he decided to go-ground, but about two feet above the ground, "knowing I [he] couldn't climb fast enough to clear the top of the hangers on the east side of the runway, I [he] pulled power back". The airplane touched down again, exited the left side of the runway crossed a ditch, and came to rest on the taxiway.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing. 

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

The pilot reported the wind as wind as variable at 10-15 knots and wind gusts at 15 knots. The pilot landed on runway 34.

Beachy Ronnie model II, N289RB: Incident occurred May 16, 2017 in Kendallville, Wayne Township, Noble County, Indiana

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Grand Rapids

Aircraft on landing, ground looped.

Date: 16-MAY-17
Time: 13:30:00Z
Regis#: N289RB
Aircraft Model: MODEL II
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)

Piper PA-22-150, N31JP, B&C Aircraft Services LLC: Accident occurred May 15, 2017 at William M. Tuck Airport (W78), South Boston, Halifax County, Virginia

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Richmond, Virginia

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

B&C Aircraft Services LLC: 

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA281
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, May 15, 2017 in South Boston, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/20/2017
Aircraft: PIPER PA22, registration: N31JP
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 pilot reported that, during the landing roll, the tailwheel-equipped airplane veered to the left, and he “could not keep the [airplane] on [the] runway using full right rudder.” The airplane exited the left side of the runway, continued to turn to the left about 180°, hit an embankment, and the right main landing gear collapsed. 

Subsequently, the right wing impacted the ground, and the airplane came to rest nose down.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing.

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

The pilot reported that, about the time of the accident, the wind was from 060° at 7 knots. The pilot landed on runway 19.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot’s failure to maintain directional control during the landing roll.

Grumman American AA-5 Traveler, N5477L, AA5A Flyers: Incident occurred May 13, 2017 in San Diego, California

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Diego,  California  

AA5A Flyers:

Aircraft on approach, struck a bird damaging the windshield. No injuries. 

Date: 13-MAY-17
Time: 18:46:00Z
Regis#: N5477L
Aircraft Make: GRUMMAN
Aircraft Model: AA5
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: OTHER
Flight Phase: APPROACH (APR)

Stinson 108-2, N9366K: Accident occurred May 16, 2017 near Eagles Nest Airport (31E), West Creek, Eagleswood Township, Ocean County, New Jersey

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ERA17LA182 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, May 16, 2017 in West Creek, NJ
Aircraft: STINSON 108, registration: N9366K
Injuries: 1 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On May 16, 2017, about 2030 eastern standard time, a Stinson 108-2, N9366K, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near West Creek, New Jersey. The private pilot received minor injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was privately registered to and operated. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a visual flight rules flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight. The flight originated from Eagles Nest Airport (31E), West Creek, New Jersey, around 2020, and was destined for Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK), Frederick, Maryland.

According to the pilot, he departed earlier that morning from FDK, flew to Sanford, Maine, and was returning to FDK, with several scheduled fuel stops. Throughout the day, he landed at seven airports, and reported no anomalies with the airplane. Before he departed 31E for the final leg of the flight back to FDK, he topped the airplane off with 26 gallons of fuel. After departure, the pilot flew toward the coast of New Jersey, and about 2,000 ft mean sea level, the engine began to "shake." He immediately turned the airplane back toward 31E, and soon after the engine lost all power. Smoke filled the cockpit and the pilot noticed an "orange glow" under the floor boards near the firewall. The pilot initiated an emergency descent, turned the fuel selector to the off position, and noted that the "orange glow" stopped. The pilot attempted to return to 31E, however, the airplane struck trees and terrain about 1 mile from to the approach end of the runway.

Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration Inspector revealed that it came to rest in a near vertical attitude. Both wings exhibited leading edge crush damage and the empennage was bent toward the right. The engine remained attached to the airframe. Examination of the engine revealed a breach in the top section of the crankcase.

The engine was retained for further examination.

Letter: Unfortunate Accident 

To the Editor: 

On May 16 at about 8:30 p.m. a transient aircraft departed Eagles Nest Airport. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot turned back to Eagles Nest and prepared to make an emergency landing. With insufficient altitude, his glide required an off-airport landing and he landed on Laurel Lane. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

I want to commend the immediate and professional response of the Eagleswood Volunteer Fire Co., Eagleswood Mayor Michael Pasternak and the State Police. I also want to acknowledge the community response and the assistance of the residents living on Laurel Lane and the surrounding streets.

John Pallante, James Girgenti Sr. and Nick Caricato, pilots who maintain aircraft at Eagles Nest, responded on my behalf in accordance with our emergency response plan. Their professional assistance on the scene was most helpful and appreciated by the State Police and me. I was in telephone contact throughout the evening with my team, the mayor and the State Police.

This was an unfortunate accident. I continue to monitor and improve safety and enforce rules and regulations at Eagles Nest and will work with the community and town leadership to maintain safety.

Peter Weidhorn, manager

Eagles Nest Airport

Eagleswood, New Jersey 

Original article can be found here:

EAGLESWOOD - Michele Paccione, who has long criticized the expansion of Eagles Nest Airport as a threat to the safety of her neighborhood, was in her house at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday when one of its outbound flights crashed through the forested landscape of her West Creek home. 

“I immediately knew it was a plane crash,” Paccione said, whose home is less than a mile from the privately owned airstrip.

“I didn’t hear the plane because (the pilot) had turned off the engine so it was silent, but he started hitting my trees back there and then crossed my driveway and the trees there," Paccione said. "Then I heard – boom!”

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, that last sound was a 1947 Stinson 108-2 single-engine plane slamming into the earth in a garden that divides her property with that of her neighbors – Jeff and Caroline Marcucci, 42 and 44 respectively.

Jim Peters, an FAA spokesman, said Wednesday that the crash was under investigation. The pilot's identity has not been released. 

Caroline Marcucci, a flight attendant for United Airlines, had gone to bed early in order to be well-rested for an early morning commute to Newark Liberty International Airport for a flight she was scheduled to work the next day. Her husband, Jeff, was still at work.

Marcucci was awakened to a sound she at first thought was a car crash. Near the end of a long, rural cul-de-sac called Laurel Hill Lane, it was not uncommon for motorists to drive too fast. Eventually, someone was going to run out of road before it was too late to stop, she had long feared.

“I looked out the window and I just saw something red, I thought it was a car,” Marcucci said.

When the figure of a man walked up her driveway and rang her doorbell, she opted not to answer the door, unsure of what kind of character lurked on the other side. It turned out to be the pilot, dazed and nursing his wrist, but otherwise unharmed, she said.

She opened her front door when she noticed that all of her neighbors had emerged from their homes to see the spectacle that had fallen out of the sky – the fire-engine red vintage single-engine prop plane had landed in a vertical position, wedged within a glen of trees, its fuselage crumpled on impact.

On Wednesday, the neighbors stood around the wreckage of the aircraft, watching investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration inspect the crash scene. The residents lamented that they had long feared this day but were grateful that no one was killed or that the plane had not struck one of their homes, just feet away.

“On the weekend, if you come here, it’s like a war zone,” complained Jeff Marcucci. “There are sky diving planes constantly in the sky over our heads, they do 10 flights a day (on the weekends) and they run from eight o’clock in the morning to eight o’clock at night.”

It didn’t used to be this way. Eagles Nest Airport was once an unpaved air strip in the woods with a little box attached to a tree where pilots – employing an honor system – would deposit any landing fees.

However, since the Marcuccis built their dream home here in 2003, the runway has not only been paved, but the airport has undergone major upgrades – not only has a skydiving business opened shop there, but aspiring pilots can also get flying lessons at Eagles Nest today. There's even self-serving aircraft fuel on the premises.

A navigational beacon and other state-of-the-art equipment has been installed at the complex for night flying, which was once forbidden, said Jeff Marcucci.

He contends a neighborhood like theirs would never have been allowed to be constructed on land that is essentially just at the end of the runway at Eagles Nest. Moreover, he and his wife would never have built their house here. He said the accident on Tuesday night underscores the danger the couple have feared for a number of years.

“We built and we didn’t see any aircraft until the house was almost done and then a small plane came in and I asked the builder, ‘What was that?’” Jeff Marcucci said. “She said, ‘Oh, there’s just a small, little grass runway back there.’ So I said, ‘Well, how many planes? What are you talking about?’ She said, ‘Oh, it’s not a big deal, you’ll see one or two planes maybe in a year.’”

Today, Paccione, 57, said there are anywhere from 60 to 70 flights departing and arriving daily from Eagles Nest. When she purchased her property six years ago, she said she had been assured that would never happen.

She now manages the Facebook page “Clean safe quiet skies over West Creek,” in which she has sought to put a public spotlight on the issue. 

“The pilot for the skydivers told me that because their plane is so heavy with all the equipment and everything, they were having trouble reaching 250 feet in altitude over my roof, which means they were less than 200 feet from the roof of my house when they landed and took off,” Paccione said. “So it’s incredibly close.”

Peter Weidhorn of Manalapan, owner Eagles Nest, said construction of the Laurel Hill Lane neighborhood predated his ownership of the airport. While he declined to comment on whether the development should have been constructed there, he asserted that "there is a whole history to dig into with the town and the New Jersey Department of Transportation."  

Weidhorn said he had been informed the pilot was in good physical condition and that the wreckage of the plane would be removed from the neighborhood on Thursday.

He said he was told that the pilot had stopped at Eagles Nest to refuel, had departed the airport and was over Barnegat Bay when his engine compartment began to flame.

"He elected to turn around and come back, he may have shut off his fuel supply and electrical system — which is protocol — and he was in a glide when he realized he could not make the runway," Weidhorn said.

The owner said there are 45 to 50 aircraft based at Eagles Nest. During the summer, the airport serves as a staging area for banner-towing planes, sight-seeing trips from the air and a company that provides thrill-seekers with tandem skydiving.

The length and the weight capacity of the runway are fixed and the facility will never be able to accommodate larger aircraft. There are no plans for further expansion beyond the addition of future safety equipment, Weidhorn said. 

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A Stinson 108 plane crashed in a resident’s yard near Eagles Nest Airport in Eagleswood Township shortly before 9 on Tuesday night. The pilot, Kenneth Miess Schertz of Texas, was the sole occupant and is believed to be uninjured, as is everyone on the ground. The plane, built in 1947, came to rest nose-first in the ground beside the home of Jeff and Caroline Marcucci on Laurel Hill Lane.

Airport owner Peter Weidhorn had been in contact with the Federal Aviation Administration, Eagleswood Mayor Michael Pasternak and the impacted property owner within minutes of the incident. He lives two hours away from the airport, so he had three pilot friends on their way to the scene to collect information. All parties involved will convene at the site Wednesday to debrief.

Caroline Marcucci was understandably shaken by the experience.

“This is the thing we were most afraid of happening, and it happened,” she said.

The Marcuccis’ home is located behind Atlantic City Electric, in the direct flight path of planes that come and go from the airstrip. They have attended town meetings and vocalized their distress over the airport activity – specifically night takeoffs and landings. She imagines what might have occurred if at the time of the crash she had been out walking her dogs, as she often does at night.

Someone heard the pilot say he thought he saw lights, Marcucci said. “Yeah, he saw lights, but they were the lights of our homes.”

Marcucci, whose husband, Jeff, is currently away in New York but plans to come home tomorrow, explained she had gone to bed earlier than usual because she was due to leave for work at 1:30 a.m. She was awakened by a loud bang followed by a crackling noise and then immediately noticed the smell of fuel. Neighbors knocked on her door to alert her to the crash, and she emerged from her house to find the plane in her yard, in a lightly wooded area between her driveway and her adjacent neighbor’s, and the pilot “stumbling out,” apparently not hurt.

The Eagleswood Volunteer Fire Co. and the State Police responded very quickly, she said. The firefighters doused the areas affected by the fuel leak.

She described the scene as “beyond chaotic” and counted at least 10 emergency vehicles parked on the street, which was already closed to traffic by about 9:15 as first responders hung yellow safety tape on her mailbox.

In the midst of the commotion, eyewitness accounts from neighbors who had gathered at the scene described the pilot as disoriented, sitting on the ground. He is believed to have been taking off when he suddenly thought his plane had caught fire, so he cut the engine.

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