Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Flying Legends’ Wiscasset stay ‘on hold’: Wiscasset Municipal Airport (KIWI), Lincoln County, Maine

Wiscasset Airport Advisory Committee members Ray Soule, far left, and Kerry Leeman and Airport Manager Frank Costa take part in the committee’s June 21 meeting at Wiscasset Municipal Airport. 

A summer stay at Wiscasset Municipal Airport for Texas Flying Legends is “on hold,” Airport Advisory Committee member Steve Williams said June 21. Williams made the announcement at the panel’s monthly meeting.

In an interview, Williams said the group’s earlier plans for off-site, private shows are now on hold and, since those shows were the reason the planes were coming to Wiscasset, the July-August stay is on hold, also. No events had been planned at the airport; Airport Manager Frank Costa had said a Legends’ stay would add to fuel sales and the group might reimburse the airport for housing planes the Legends planes would displace from privately owned hangars. But the stay was never set in stone and the airport has lost nothing if the group does not come, he said June 27.

Also at the meeting, Costa said the airport’s one-year, $960, unlimited service agreement with QT Petroleum of Colorado has already paid for itself with savings on parts and labor. Earlier this year, the airport got a break on costs to replace a digital screen and more recently got 40 percent off the replacement of an $800 motherboard that takes credit cards for fuel sales, Costa said. When it went, the airport continued sales by taking customers’ credit card information to process later. The new motherboard is now in place, he said.

The committee meets next at 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 19 at the airport on Chewonki Neck Road.

East Midlands Airport, England: Thieves ransack Aeropark charity museum

Crooks caused thousands of pounds worth of damage after stealing a safe from a museum at East Midlands Airport.

A call to a break-in at the Aeropark at the Castle Donington airport came in to Leicestershire Police just after 9pm on Sunday (June 25).

An untidy search was carried out by the offenders at the Hill Top charity attraction, causing damage to a display cabinet in the museum.

A spokesman for the aviation museum and airport viewing area said: "After a very successful open day, two offenders broke in to the Aeropark and after causing extensive damage to the shop and staff room and breaking the door to the hangar, they then stole a safe out of the shop which had a considerable amount of money inside.

"All in all they not only stole the takings but caused thousands of pounds in damages which we will have to pay to be replaced

"As a lot of people know we are a charity and we rely on public funding and donations, which is why we have our open days.

"They are to raise money to keep the aircraft in the best shape we can.

"All of the people that work here are volunteers and we have put in an enormous amount of time, money and hard work over the past few months to make your experience with us a better one.

"To say we are gutted and disappointed is putting it mildly.

"As you can see from the photos we need to replace, doors, windows and parts of the shop, even toys, so we would like to appeal to the public, if you can help in any way by either donating even a small amount or even if you can donate a door or window, anything that needs replacing, we would be extremely grateful.

"Thank you for taking the time to read this, hopefully the police with catch the people that did this heartless act."

The Aeropark has started a Just Giving page to try and raise funds to repair the museum after the break in.

A spokesman for Leicestershire Police said: "Enquiries are ongoing and no arrests have been made.

"If anybody has any more information relating to the incident please call 101 and quote incident number 17000268666."

Original article can be found here:

Logan Riley: Teen earns wings before high school graduation

PERRY TWP. It wasn’t model airplanes, action movies or video games that attracted a young Logan Riley to aviation. He caught the flying bug a bit later in life, as a sophomore at Perry High School.

Riley said an aerospace-engineering course at school that taught him about aviation history, science and mathematics helped to steer him toward the friendly skies.

“I had Lego planes as a kid, but really, it was school (that piqued my interest),” he said. “I was not really into planes until my sophomore or junior year. That’s when I decided I’d work on getting a pilot’s license.”

On May 23 — just days before graduating from high school — Riley, 19, earned a set of wings via a private pilot’s license, which is a major step in proceeding closer to his overall target of garnering a commercial license. The best part about flying, he said, is sharing a ride with family members and friends.

“I like flying other people and letting them have a new experience,” said Riley, who’s slated to attend Bowling Green State University this fall, where he plans to become an aviation and flight technology major.

Attaining his private flying license wasn’t a cinch, Riley said, adding that he would attend flight school courses after regular high school hours and on weekends. He also squeezed in a few lessons last year between his summer job as a counselor at the Akron Rotary Camp for Children with Special Needs.

“It’s easy to fly, but hard to become a pilot,” said Riley, who mainly flies a Cessna 150 out of Akron Fulton International Airport.

Hours of studying, written and oral exams, flight training and tests, course work and flight simulations were all part of flight education requirements, Riley said. The most time-consuming and intense exercise was the oral test, he said, which consisted of four to five hours of questioning by an instructor on any topic related to aviation.

“I’d get asked, ‘What documents are needed to be air (ready),’” Riley recalled, adding that the answer to the query is an aircraft worthiness report, registration, certificates, an operations handbook, etc.

Riley began taking courses at American Winds College of Aeronautics last November and concluded in May. Denise Hobart, chief flight instructor at the school, said he was an eager, enthusiastic and capable student.

“Logan is one of those kids who makes you love your job,” Hobart said Tuesday, noting that although teen pilots are not rare, the accomplishment of earning a license is no small task. “It’s nice to see young kids with ambition set goals and achieve them. He was very detailed and dedicated.”

Hobart said a private pilot shares the same airspace as a major commercial airliner. It’s common for a small aircraft, such as one Riley would be piloting, to land at Akron-Canton Airport right before or after a Southwest Airlines plane.

“You have to be as serious and aware as any other pilot,” she said. “Logan was one of those students who got everything quick.”

Earning his wings

Income earned from the Akron Rotary Camp helped to pay for flight school, which cost about $8,000 over approximately six months of classes, Riley said. Overall, he paid for about three-fourths of his schooling tab.

“Managing time with my (high school) work was probably the toughest part,” he said about earning his pilot’s license. “I was gone or studying all the time.”

Riley is in his second summer of counseling at the camp. He job includes feeding and bathing special-needs campers, in addition to assisting them with activities, such as board games and athletics.

In the future, Riley wants to wind his love of flying into helping people and eventually form a foundation to provide flights to special-needs children.

“I want to fly kids who have special needs for fun, or give them a lift to a hospital if they need clinical help,” he said. “It would be a good way to help people.”

Story and photo gallery:

Lee County Mosquito Control to buy Woodstock Airport (FL86), St. James City, Florida

ST. JAMES CITY, Fla. It’s a question of what’s worse — mosquitoes or the fight against them.

The Lee County Mosquito Control District, which uses Buckingham Airport in Lehigh Acres for its aerial spraying efforts, wants to buy the private Woodstock Airport on Pine Island, arguing it’s a more efficient location.

But residents like Will Peratino, who lives near the airport, voiced their concerns about the lack of information they’ve received about the district’s plans during Tuesday night’s community meeting at the Pine Island Fire Department.

“The immediate community would like to see what your real plans are,” he said. “They have not disclosed any of those documents nor have they disclosed any financial analysis that they did to show that this would be cost effective.”

Fellow resident Jamie Saunders is worried about her privacy.

“I’ve got a pool out there where I swim in and I don’t want a helicopter flying over my pool all day long,” she said.

Shelly Redovan, deputy director of the district, said the purchase wouldn’t cause a significant change in flight patterns and will allow helicopters to fly directly to marsh areas.

“You could actually leave a helicopter or a couple of helicopters there during the evening and then start up the next day straight from there, as opposed to the transition time coming from Buckingham out there” Redovan said.

However, others like David Grueser are open to the idea if the district helps maintain Woodstock Road.

“They said they want to be good neighbors and they want to pay their fair share, and that’s all you can ask,” he said.

Story and video:

Aero Ace CE 1 , N473CQ: Accident occurred June 26, 2017 at Cottonwood Airport (P52), Yavapai County, Arizona

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA370 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, June 26, 2017 in Cottonwood, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/22/2017
Aircraft: AERO-ACE CE 1, registration: N473CQ
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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, immediately after takeoff, the airplane drifted hard to the right. He applied left aileron and left rudder to no avail. Subsequently, the right wing and landing gear impacted the ground, and the airplane came to rest nose down.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing and fuselage.

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

The automated weather observation system about 14 nautical miles from the accident site reported that, about the time of the accident, the wind was from 200° at 15 knots, gusting to 22 knots. The pilot was departing on runway 32.

As a recommendation, the pilot reported that a higher takeoff speed would have helped him better control the airplane.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s failure to maintain directional control during takeoff in gusting crosswind conditions.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA370
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, June 26, 2017 in Cottonwood, AZ
Aircraft: AERO-ACE CE 1, registration: N473CQ
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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, immediately after takeoff, the airplane drifted hard to the right. He applied left aileron and left rudder with no avail. Subsequently, the right wing and landing gear impacted the ground, and the airplane came to rest nose down.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing and fuselage.

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

The automated weather observation system about 14 nautical miles from the accident site reported, about the time of the accident, the wind was from 200° at 15 knots, gusting to 22 knots. The pilot was departing on runway 32.

As a recommendation, the pilot reported that a higher takeoff speed would have helped him better control the airplane.

Two pilots are okay after their planes were involved in two separate crashes at the Cottonwood Airport Monday.

Fire officials say the first incident happened at around 7:30 a.m. when the pilot of a Flight Design GMBH was trying to land and skidded off the runway. The pilot was uninjured. 

The second incident happened just after 2:30 p.m., when a single-engine homebuilt Aero Ace was involved in an accident while taking off. That pilot was also uninjured. The cause of the incidents are both being investigated.

COTTONWOOD - Shortly before 7:30 a.m. Monday, June 26, Cottonwood Fire and Medical Department and the Cottonwood Police Department responded to an aircraft accident at the Cottonwood Airport.

Upon arrival, emergency personnel found that the pilot and lone occupant of the aircraft had already exited the plane and were not injured. The pilot reported that the accident occurred while landing the aircraft.

The accident is currently under investigation.

Around 2:30 p.m. the same day, the Cottonwood Fire and Medical Department and the Cottonwood Police Department responded to another aircraft accident at the airport. Emergency personnel found that the pilot was the lone occupant of the aircraft, and had already exited the plane. The pilot refused medical treatment.

The cause of this accident is under investigation as well.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Rectrix Aviation: This plane will get you from Worcester to Cape Cod in 20 minutes

Photo gallery:

WORCESTER – Private charter airline Rectrix Aviation will start seasonal flights between Worcester Regional Airport and Cape Cod on Thursday, bringing a new shuttle service to the small airport.

The flights on the nine-seat aircraft will cater to travelers making weekend trips to their vacation homes and willing to pay $159 for a one-way ticket securing a seat on a 30-minute flight.

Richard Cawley, chief executive of parent company Rectrix Commercial Aviation Services Inc. of Concord, told public officials gathered today at the airport that he expects initial flights between Worcester and Hyannis will not be full. That will change over time, just as the airline’s service between Hyannis and Nantucket grew, he said.

“It will start slow, but it will gain traction,” Mr. Cawley said. “By next year, our flights will be full.”

Captain and Assistant Chief Pilot David Crookes and Captain Zach Lesinski (left to right)

Rectrix launched operations in Worcester in 2012 as the airport’s fixed-base operator, providing aeronautical services such as fueling. Mr. Cawley said Rectrix has invested about $7 million in Worcester operations to date, including the new shuttle service.

The shuttle investment includes purchase of a Beech Super King Air B300 turbo-prop airplane and the hiring of about five additional employees, according to Mr. Cawley.

Flights will depart from Worcester at 4:45 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, arriving 30 minutes later at Barnstable Municipal Airport near downtown Hyannis. Return flights will run at 7 p.m. on Sundays, 7:30 a.m. on Mondays and 3:45 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.

Flights will likely continue until a week after Labor Day, then resume next year, Mr. Cawley said.

The first flight is scheduled to arrive in Worcester at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday with former Boston Bruins player Bobby Orr, a spokesman for Rectrix, on board.

Ticket information is available online at

Perched on about 1,330 hilltop acres on the Leicester line, Worcester Regional Airport has long maintained service for charter flights and private planes even as it has struggled to attract commercial airlines. At its height in 1989, more than 340,000 people used the airport, according to the Massachusetts Port Authority, which owns and operates the airport.

The only commercial service currently available is JetBlue Airways Corp. daily flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Florida, although the airline is planning to add service to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York starting in 2018.

Massport said in its annual report that the Worcester airport posted about $1.6 million in revenue during the fiscal year ending in June 2016, about $9.4 million in operating expenses and an operating deficit of about $7.8 million.

A Massachusetts Department of Transportation economic impact study, however, said the airport adds more than $51 million in economic activity to the region, and the airport’s boosters would like to see that increase.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said the new Rectrix service will connect travelers from the Central Massachusetts region to the Cape and islands.

“This is another pivotal moment for Worcester and this airport, for us to be able to have investors like Rectrix to continue to believe in this city, to believe in this airport, to invest the dollars into the infrastructure and the planes and the crew is really tremendous,” Ms. Polito said.

As public officials celebrated the launch of Rectrix service to Cape Cod, Rectrix employees showed off a plane that could be making the flights. The plane features a central aisle, basic seats and two pilots.

Captain David Crookes flew large aircraft for Continental Airlines and United Airlines for years, but said he loves flying the much smaller Beech Super King Air plane. The aircraft cruises long at 250 knots, or about 288 miles per hour, and Worcester passengers will likely fly at heights of 3,000 to 5,000 feet.

Flying “this plane is like driving a sports car,” Mr. Crookes said. “It’s a Ferrari.”


Photo gallery:

Alaskans in Cessna 172 make goodwill flight to Russia

Marshall Severson, left, and Dan Billman stand on the steps at the Provideniya airport terminal.  

A Cessna 172 flew from Nome to an airport in Russia in just three hours.

But the goodwill mission on June 14 in a small plane by two veteran Alaska aviators took three months to plan and cost the rough equivalent of a month on the sunny Mediterranean.

Pilot Marshall Severson of Anchorage and passenger Dan Billman, who owns a lodge on Lake Louise, flew an air route that both helped pioneer more than 15 years ago.

The route has remained open ever since, regardless of current tensions, such as federal investigations into Russian hacking and Russian bomber incursions into Alaska airspace.

"Whatever's going on in D.C. and Moscow, it's different when you're way out there — Alaska and the Russian Far East," Severson said in an interview Friday.

From 'nyet' to fond farewell

The Americans received a warm, albeit initially stern, reception in the dour, still-wintry atmosphere of the otherwise empty Provideniya Bay airport in the Chukotka District of Russia.

They saw a striking, mountain-flanked bay as they descended. It looked like Seward, only darker. Black rock rose from the water instead of green tundra and trees. Snow still coated the peaks.

The plane landed and the men sat inside, waiting for the signal to exit from about 10 Russian security personnel, border agents and others, Billman recalled Thursday. The group — the men wore military-style uniforms — practically marched in formation. They looked pretty stern.

The group conducted a thorough, professional search of the plane. Billman, struck by the spectacle, pulled out his camera.

"I asked them, 'Can I take a picture of you guys?' " he recalled. The answer came back in Russian: "Nyet!"

Both described courteous treatment from the Russians throughout the trip. By the time the Alaskans left five hours later, however, the mood had shifted. They got a much warmer than expected sendoff.

"We went up to shake their hands and it turned into hugs from all these folks," said Billman.

A route friendly for small planes

For many Alaska aviators, Russia is tantalizingly close during flights along the western coast.

But, given the bureaucracy involved, it's likely the Cessna was the first private plane in a decade or so to fly the route established in 2001 by the Alaska Airmen's Association, Federal Aviation Administration and Russian officials. Severson, 62, retired last year as an FAA flight services manager. Billman, 66, still works for the agency as a safety program manager.

The Nome-Russia route is notable because it represents a visual-flight connection that private pilots can fly without a more demanding instrument rating.

"You can fly it in small general aviation aircraft," Severson said. "The big feature is that normally the Russians require a Russian-speaking navigator on board who essentially acts as a translator, but along this route they guarantee English-speaker service for VFR pilots."

The route originally hinged on the Russians creating a 6-mile-wide civilian air corridor across restricted military airspace that blankets their skies. The air path crosses only 39 nautical miles of open water, compared with a previous route farther south that crossed 206 miles of the Bering Sea.

Severson was one of seven Alaskans who flew the route in 2002 to mark the end of years of negotiations.

Billman tried it twice after that but got turned back both times, including once when his GPS receiver blanked out as soon as he crossed the International Date Line and left U.S. airspace.

Last-minute green light

The pair's successful trip this month involved months of preparation, both men said. They needed not only multiyear visas but border permits and a required air-traffic permission that didn't come in till 3 a.m. the morning they made the flight.

The trip didn't come cheap, with gas sometimes as high as $8 a gallon along the route and several multihundred-dollar fees.

The men packed survival gear for the trip, including drysuits, a raft and emergency beacons.

"I told my wife we coulda both went to the French Riviera and lived in a villa for a month for what it cost to do this just for me," Billman said. "But then again, it was the biggest adventure of my life."

'Not a luxury trip'

The aviators spent only part of a day exploring with a local guide, and saw mostly the area of Provideniya near the airport.

Bering Air, which makes one or two weekly charter flights to the Russian Far East in summer, ferries mostly ecotourists or Alaskans reuniting with relatives across the Bering.

The air service sums up the trip with a Soviet-style grim warning on its website: "This is not a luxury trip. There are limited shopping opportunities, public restaurants & services or entertainment in the forms that you may be used to. There are no facilities for the physically challenged. Every building has long flights of cement stairs."

For Severson, who with his wife adopted two Russian children, the country has held a fascination since he was a boy growing up with a Norwegian mother during the Cold War, when American travel to what was then the Soviet Union was difficult.

He said his mother's home in Norway was near a forced-labor camp where Nazi soldiers held Russian prisoners of war. She heard the shots of prisoners killed by their captors.

The cemetery where his grandparents are buried holds the bones of 51 Russian soldiers.

"She was always positive about the Russians — no prejudice during the Cold War," Severson said of his mother. "She taught me never to hate. I always wanted to get over there."

Diamond Aircraft is looking to hire 100 after buying licensing rights for DA62

Diamond Aircraft chief executive Peter Maurer shows off the seven-seat DA62 Tuesday that will be assembled at the London plant. The company is holding a job fair Thursday to hire more staff to produce the plane.

A new aircraft has landed in the hangar at Diamond Aircraft, and the London plant is adding about 100 workers to meet demand.

Diamond Aircraft Industries will begin manufacturing a new, seven-seat, twin-engine aircraft called the DA62 in September and is holding a job fair Thursday to staff the program, Peter Maurer, Diamond chief executive, said Tuesday.

“We are getting a whole new line here. This is a big deal.” he said. “It is the latest and greatest Diamond has produced. It is our new flagship. It is basically a flying, luxury SUV. There is a great market for it.”

The plant already has orders for 50 of the DA62, he said.

Diamond, located at the London International Airport, employs 170 and will grow its ranks to about 300 during the course of about one year, said Maurer.

“We will grow. We have to hire people and train people and that takes time. We are production limited now.”

The sales market for performance light aircraft has turned around and there is growing demand for performance aircraft, such as the DA62, said Matt Thurber, editor-in-chief of the magazine Aviation International News.

“That market has done quite well,” said Thurber.

He has followed the fortunes of the DA62, adding “it has done quite well. It appears to have gotten off to a good start.”

The 50 orders this year comes on the heels of it selling 30 in 2016, he added.

“This is a great opportunity,” for Diamond, said Thurber. “It looks to be an aircraft growing in popularity. It is the latest in technology in that market. Any aircraft maker would be proud to have that as part of their lineup.”

The largest plane ever made in London, it sells for about US$1.3 million.

It was manufactured in Austria in 2016 but Diamond in London purchased the licencing rights to make it here.

In addition, Diamond also purchased the rights to be the sole source manufacturer for the newest version of the DA40, a four-seat, single engine plane that was also designed in Austria.

“We will take on design responsibility, worldwide production and worldwide distribution. We will build all DA40s and sell them,” said Maurer, adding it is in production now.

“It is a lot more business for us, higher volume.”

Maurer projects the plant will assemble about 100 planes a year “in the near future.”

“In a few years we will be much higher than that,” said Maurer. “It will grow. We have to hire people and train people and that takes time. We are production limited now.”

Diamond wants to hire across the board, in composite manufacturing, metal shop, electronics and office staff, to name a few areas.

“We look for reliable people with a good attitude. We can teach the skills they need,” he added.

The news marks a bounce back for Diamond. In 2011, it laid off more than 200 when its D-Jet program was shelved.

That resiliency is exactly what the London area’s manufacturing sector is all about, said Kapil Lakhotia, chief executive of London Economic Development Corp.

“It underscores the importance of having a diverse manufacturing sector, including aviation, automotive, and food, to name a few,” he said.

“That is why the London manufacturing is so resilient. It is great to see growth at Diamond. They have new life.”

Diamond also continues to assemble the DA20, a two-seater largely used as a trainer. It is still widely used by the United States air force as a trainer.

In December, Wanfeng Aviation, the Canadian division of a Chinese conglomerate, bought a controlling share of the London Diamond operation. That sale helped fund the purchase of the DA40 and DA62 programs.

“It has been fantastic for us. To those that express concern that Chinese majority ownership may result in loss of jobs to China, I would say that Wanfeng has a history of investing globally, that we are now hiring in London because of their investment and that the investment makes the Diamond Aircraft brand stronger overall. I do not see anything but growth for us in London for the foreseeable future,” said Maurer.

The future of Diamond’s much talked about D-Jet program is not certain at this point, added Maurer. “It’s a great aircraft and its future depends on our near term success and how the entry level jet market develops. A lot of valuable know-how was gained by Diamond during the D-Jet development that can be put to good use on our other programs.”

Diamond Aircraft job fair

Looking for nearly 100 workers

Thursday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Diamond Aircraft, Crumlin Sideroad, at London International Airport

Diamond’s DA62

Maximum cruise speed: More than 350 kph

Max range: More than 2,200 km

Cost: US$1.3 Million

Target market: Private pilots, business owners, commercial operators

Sample Flight: London to Ottawa, 90 minutes, with a total fuel consumption of less than 90 litres of jet fuel, about $125.

Construction: All carbon fibre airframe for strength and aerodynamic efficiency; twin turbo-diesel engines.

Kalispell Regional Healthcare unveils new air ambulance

When there’s a medical emergency within a roughly 100-mile radius of the Flathead Valley, the Kalispell Regional Healthcare ALERT crew is ready — now with a new $4 million helicopter.

Matthew Weller, a pilot with ALERT, walked around the Bell 407 GXP Monday afternoon, his hand running along the bright red helicopter. Outside the ALERT hanger just a few yards from the newly painted craft stood its predecessor, which shares the Bell 407 model but is in its 18th season.

“Not only does it go further, but it goes faster and more efficiently,” Weller said, looking over the new aircraft.

The nonprofit air ambulance serving Northwest Montana was created in 1975 and became the nation’s first rural hospital-based air ambulance. The current helicopter has flown roughly 6,500 hours. The new aircraft has roughly 29.5 hours — 16 of which Weller logged in his flight to deliver the air ambulance to Kalispell from Tennessee.

The updated craft has a few more weeks before it can take missions as the hospital works through federal and state requirements. Until then, ALERT, or Advanced Life-support and Emergency Rescue Team, is limited to its veteran helicopter, which was grounded 105 days last year for maintenance and repairs.

“It was, rent a helicopter for 60 days for $93,000 while you’re doing $200,000 worth of maintenance on the other one,” said Tagen Vine, president of the Kalispell Regional Healthcare Foundation.

Vine said it was already time for the hospital to upgrade. But new federal rules “made it urgent.”

He said the new requirements from the Federal Aviation Administration require helicopter air ambulances to operate with a terrain awareness and warning system. The guideline — announced in 2014 — went into effect in April.

The legacy ALERT helicopter meets the upcoming air ambulance regulations, but the helicopters the hospital leases from local industries when the ALERT helicopter is down do not.

Vine said a local benefactor who chose to remain anonymous fronted the $4 million to buy the new air ambulance. So far, the hospital has paid $2.1 million of that cost. Roughly $200,000 of that came from the 2017 ALERT banquet and $1.1 million came from fundraiser savings over recent years. Hospital employees and members of various hospital boards raised another $800,000 for the project.

Vine said the hospital hopes to have donation commitments to pay the loaner back by the end of the year, whether that money is provided upfront or through a multi-year pledge.

Bob Sandman, chair of the ALERT Advisory Board, said the hospital is “acting on a leap of faith backed up by 40 years of community support for this program.”

He said the nonprofit is unique in that it can be the first to respond to the scene of an emergency call. He said the crew also picks up patients wherever they need help, even along backcountry roads.

“The community has shown it values this life-saving service,” he said.

Weller leaned into the cockpit of his new office Monday afternoon. In the upgraded model, the engine and flight instruments are integrated on two large LCD displays within the pilot’s reach. He then walked toward the legacy helicopter and pointed to steam gages scattered throughout its flight desk system.

“From the outside it may be difficult, but it’s pretty easy to spot which one is newer with a look here,” Weller said as he nodded toward the controls.

The new aircraft includes autopilot to help reduce pilot fatigue and workload. It also features updated traffic and terrain avoidance systems, a moving map display and a synthetic vision to reveal the terrain of the land below.

“Day, night, clouds — it doesn’t matter, that information is always there,” Weller said. “It all helps improve our situational awareness.”

Along the helicopter’s tail are the letters “VS” in memory of the hospital’s former Chief Executive Officer Velinda Stevens, who died from cancer earlier this year.

“We’re probably most proud of that detail,” Weller said with a grin. “A little piece of her flies with us every day.”

He said other than standing in for the new craft when it’s undergoing maintenance, the legacy air ambulance will be used for training as well as promotional events.

Weller said the ALERT crew can reach patients in Libby to the west in less than 30 minutes. He said his best flight east to Browning was completed in 23 minutes. The crew also make trips to Polson, Ronan and occasionally places like Cut Bank and Missoula when there’s a need.

“We have a lot of people out in remote, rural areas. And this is the best way to get to them,” Weller said.

For more information or to donate to the ALERT program, visit

Pilot's gift to her dad

The thought of losing a father was the scariest thing that's ever happened to Frances Nagatalevu.

It was back in 2010, her father was sick and needed a kidney. His two elder daughters were pregnant and his only son, Frances' twin, was asthmatic. So it all came down to his third daughter and pilot, Frances, to give a kidney to their father.

Frances hopes sharing her story will be a lesson to others who take family for granted. She said she was able to do what was necessary through the grace of God.

"We spent three months in India, we were basically temporary residents," Frances said.

"This was one of my toughest times, the thought of losing my father was the scariest thing ever. But everything happens for a reason and for us, it brought us closer as a family and closer to God.

"The power of prayer, you'll be amazed at what the Lord can do for you if you put your faith in him."

While in India, she was interviewed to determine whether she was giving her kidney on her own free will. One of the questions focused on the possibility of her not carrying on as a pilot.

"I just told them, 'I will find something else to do'. I've always wanted to do marine science.

"But I can now say I'm a pilot with one kidney," she said with a laugh. "I didn't get here by my own strength. It's by the grace of God I get to do what I love to do and that is flying."

The Rakiraki, Yale, Kadavu native who has maternal links to Ogea, Lau said they had gone through so much as a family but she thanked God for everything He had done for their family.

Her father was a senior air traffic controller back then and so the young Frances spent most of her days at the CAAF (Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji) quarters in Nadi with her siblings.

Frances had a dream and that was to be a marine biologist as she loved the ocean. However, her parents offered to pay for her fees to attend flying school.

"After my first flight, I never looked back, I knew this is what I wanted to do.

"Being a woman in a male-dominated industry is a challenge. If men can do it, what is stopping women? I'm a very competitive person, I like a challenge. Like my uncle always says, 'if the sky is the limit, then to me the limit is the sky'."

If there was someone Frances would like to dedicate her achievements to, it would not be one but two people, as her parents have been her source of inspiration.

"My parents mean the world to me and the meaning of success to me personally is making them proud, nothing satisfies me more then putting a smile on their faces.

"They worked hard every day just so we could have a better life than they did. So everything I do now is for them."

Frances loves her career, she loves flying, she loves taking on challenges and treasures every moment of her career because they help her to look forward to every day and to what life has to offer.

"If I was to give advice about looking for a career, it would be 'whatever makes you happy'.

"I suffered a lot of ups and downs. But who hasn't? Just get back up and dust yourself off.

"God has a plan for everyone, we just need to trust Him."

American Airlines to Test 3-D Bag Screening Equipment: New machines aim to better detect threats in laptops

The Wall Street Journal
By Susan Carey
June 27, 2017 6:18 p.m. ET

American Airlines Group Inc. is testing new machines that map the contents of hand luggage with more detailed scans than current equipment, aiming to address heightened concerns over explosive devices that could be carried onto a plane.

American said Tuesday that the eight machines it is purchasing from Analogic Corp. for $6 million can measure the density of a bag’s contents and map them in three dimensions. Those capabilities, American and Analogic and said, could help airlines detect explosives or detonators hidden inside laptops and other small electronics.

For three months the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been considering whether to expand a ban on laptops and other devices in aircraft cabins, after intelligence suggested terrorists were working to smuggle explosives onto planes that way. The DHS banned devices on U.S.-bound flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa in March.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has suggested a broader ban that could cover all flights to the U.S. from Europe or all international flights in and out of the U.S. DHS has told European Union officials that airlines there may need to do additional security screening to avoid an electronics ban. Such steps could be implemented over time, a DHS spokesman said, and final plans haven’t been set.

American began testing one of the more powerful screening devices in Phoenix this month with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. Most U.S. airports and many overseas already use the technology to screen checked luggage. The technology, similar to a medical CT scan, is called “computed tomography” and hasn’t been used for carry-on bags in the U.S.

TSA intends to test a similar machine from another manufacturer at Boston’s Logan International Airport.

Steve Karoly, a TSA acting assistant administrator, said in a recent interview that the agency tested this technology with carry-on bags several years ago. But the scanners were large, costly and required a lot of power to operate. “The technology has just blossomed in the past year,” Mr. Karoly said.

It isn’t clear how long TSA’s review of the new machines could last. Airlines can’t use some aviation screening technology unless it is on the TSA-approved list of vendors.

Analogic, a Peabody, Mass., company that also makes medical-imaging equipment, said it hopes to start selling the devices later this year if they are certified by the TSA and international agencies.

American said the new scanners could make it possible for passengers to leave liquids, gels and laptops in their carry-on bags.

Why Isn't There An Uber For Air Travelers? Ask The Federal Aviation Administration

Regulations: If you've never heard of Flytenow or AirPooler, don't kick yourself. Although they were once poised to become the Uber and Lyft for air travelers, federal bureaucrats strangled these innovators in their cribs. It's yet another example of how government regulations are all too often the enemy of consumers.

In a new paper for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, senior research fellow Christopher Koopman details the short lives of these promising startups, how the Federal Aviation Administration snuffed them out, and what can be done about it.

Like their ride sharing counterparts, these flight-sharing companies hoped to leverage the power of the internet to fill up empty seats on private jets. Someone looking for a flight to a certain destination could quickly see if any pilots were flying there.

The companies took care to comply with already stringent FAA regulations. The pilots, for example, weren't going to make a profit. The extra passengers would simply cover a share of the flight costs. Plus, the FAA has long allowed private pilots to post upcoming flights on physical bulletin boards for potential ride sharers.

What's more, the European Union, which isn't exactly a beacon of lax safety regulations, has given the green light to these kinds of internet-based flight sharing services. Koopman says that these services have more than 10,000 users, including about 2,000 pilots.

This arrangement would have been ideal for private pilots who otherwise eat the cost of empty seats. And it likely would have helped make better use of general aviation aircraft, 24% of which sit idle all year long. It also, Koopman notes, might have sparked a revival in the private aircraft manufacturing business.

For passengers, it offered a possible alternative to the agony of commercial flights, plus the thrill of flying in a small prop plane or private jet. They'd also be able to check ratings of pilots from other users before sharing the flight.

Who is harmed in this voluntary transaction? Only the commercial airlines who would risk losing customers.

Nevertheless, the FAA ruled that these startups violated the government's "common carriage" rule, which would have forced them to comply with hugely expensive regulations designed for major commercial carriers if they wanted to stay in business.

Flytenow decided not to sit idly by while faceless bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., destroyed a promising new business. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the FAA, and the Supreme Court declined to hear the case this January. Flytenow is no more. In its last blog post, it lamented the fact that there is "less choice for consumers, and less innovation in general aviation."

Koopman argues that there is a way to revive these internet-based services, but it will require Congress to get involved. Lawmakers, he says, can more narrowly define "common carriage," so that these flight-sharing services can avoid the FAA's regulatory boot.

Doing that would mean confronting the major airlines — a fight weak-kneed lawmakers aren't likely to want to take on. Consumers should demand that they do.

Mission of love: Ed Eisenberg donates plane to 'Wings'

BLOOMINGTON — Growing up in Bloomington, Ed Eisenberg was fascinated by airplanes, particularly those he saw flying into and out of Central Illinois Regional Airport.

“I used to be one of those kids that would come out and hang on the chain link fence and watch the airplanes take off and land,” he said. “I never got bored."

His interest carried into adulthood and in the late 1960s, he studied for and received his pilot’s license. Then, he bought his first airplane.

“I flew it for a number of years and eventually sold it and bought a Cherokee 180, which I have kept ever since,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of great people from this area because of this plane. It was the best purchase I ever made.”

But on Tuesday, Eisenberg donated the plane to Wings of Hope, an aviation nonprofit organization based in Chesterfield, Mo., that delivers resources to people in need.

“It’s been a great plane, a great hobby, a great pastime,” he said. “Flying to me, is like a mission of love.”

Eisenberg, now 83 and retired from a career in sales, last flew the four-passenger plane about 18 months ago, he said. Health issues forced him to retire from active flying.

“The government doesn’t want you flying if you aren’t able to do it,” he said. “They are very involved when it comes to safety for the planes and the pilots.”

So, Eisenberg considered selling the plane, but found a better option.

“I looked around a little bit and then made up my mind,” he said. “I had known about Wings of Hope for a long time and I know it’s a great organization that does a lot of good. So, I made the call.”

The organization was founded in 1962 and accepts about 20 donated aircraft each year, said spokeswoman Carol Enright.

“We use some in the field for medical air transport in the U.S. or overseas. Those that we cannot use for field work, we sell to raise funds to support our programming.”

Don Hoerstkamp, a pilot with Wings of Hope , met Eisenberg Tuesday morning at the old airport terminal. Officials inspected the plane to make sure it met FAA standards and then it was flown to St. Louis.

“Donations like this are what keep us going,” said Hoerstkamp. “We have very few paid positions. Most are volunteers. We have an extensive medical air transport system that operates out of St. Louis because there are a lot of sick kids around, and adults. Donations like this go virtually 100 percent toward that.”

Eisenberg said the plane travels about 140 mph at altitudes up to 4,000 feet. Cherokee planes are still being produced today, although there are more than a few variations.

“I would guess that if you bought this plane new back then, it would have cost about $40,000,” he said. “Today, with air conditioning and analog equipment, it would probably be between $350,000 and $400,000. Things have changed.”

Eisenberg said that planes similar to this one, range on the open market from $30,000 to nearly $60,000.

“It’s a neat airplane and a good starter for someone,” he said. “This plane has provided me with a lot of great memories. I had some property in Minnesota and I traveled back and forth in this. Donating it to Wings of Hope though is a good opportunity for them and a good opportunity for me. My dog and I won’t starve just because I donated it, instead of selling it.”

Cessna 172E Skyhawk, N3500S: Aircraft experienced carb icing; attempted short field landing clipped tree top; engine came back to life - aircraft flew 12 miles to home field

AIRCRAFT:    1963 Cessna 172E Skyhawk N3500S, sn 17250700

ENGINE - M&M, S/N:      Continental O-300-D   sn 28121-D-3-d

PROPELLER – M&M, S/N:   McCauley 1C172/EM7653      sn 79034

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

ENGINE:   3919.0 TT    1859.0 SMOH as of 27 April 2107    

PROPELLER:    Unk TT   66.6 TSPOH as of 27 April 2107

AIRFRAME:  3919 TT  as of 27 April 2017

OTHER EQUIPMENT:   KMA 24 Audio panel, KLN 89B GPS, KX 125 Nav Comm, KX 170B Nav Comm,

DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT:  Aircraft experienced carb icing.  Attempted short field landing clipped tree top.  Engine came back to life aircraft flew 12 miles to home field

DESCRIPTION OF DAMAGES: Damages include, but not limited to prop strike, both wings leading edges, rear fuselage, left & right elevators, horizontal stabilizer and lower nose cowl.

LOCATION OF AIRCRAFT:   Grass strip, Pink Hill, North Carolina