Monday, June 26, 2017

Why first commercial flights out of San Bernardino International Airport (KSBD) will be delayed by months

SAN BERNARDINO >> Prospective passengers on the first commercial flights out of San Bernardino International Airport, scheduled for this week, will have to wait out some major flight delays — months of delays.

Ultra-low-cost Mexican airline Volaris announced in April that flights between San Bernardino and Guadalajara, Mexico, would leave every Monday and Thursday starting June 29.

It was a major milestone for the airport, more than 20 years after Norton Air Force Base was shuttered and three years after the $20.5 million international arrivals terminal was completed.

But not quite everything was in place.

The airport is still looking for the required Customs and Border Patrol officers, said Mark Gibbs, director of aviation for SBIA.

It’s not clear when that hurdle will be cleared, but airport and Volaris officials still plan to begin the flights as early as possible, Gibbs said.

“Volaris remains committed to the market, which is fantastic,” he said. “It’s good for the community, first and foremost. It’s a matter of working with those guys to get the officers. We’re excited to continue working with Volaris.”

A Volaris spokesman confirmed the reason for the delay and the company’s continued commitment, although he put the responsibility for finding customs agents on the airport.

The other new flight that Volaris announced the same day as San Bernardino’s — between Oaxaca, Mexico, and Los Angeles International Airport — is still scheduled to begin this week, according to the spokesman.

November is the tentative date for service to begin in San Bernardino, according to Volaris, but Gibbs didn’t commit to a particular time.

Finding customs agents is an involved process, but Gibbs said he was optimistic.

“We’re not the only airport that customs is an issue for,” he said. “Industrywide, there’s a scarcity of resources for that.”

The Washington Post reported in 2016 that there would be “no quick fix” for a staffing shortage that led to complaints of long lines and 16-hour shifts.

Gibbs said he learned about six weeks ago that the flights would not begin on the announced date.

In 2014, Volaris began flying between Ontario International Airport and Guadalajara, putting it in competition with AeroMexico’s flights to the same destination. A second set of Volaris flights from Ontario to León, Guanajuato, started in May.

While commercial flights have been an elusive goal, San Bernardino has seen substantial increases in other areas in recent years.

Airport officials say the number of aircraft operating daily doubled from 2013 to 2016 — to 48,000 — and so far this year is 20 percent above that.

http://www.sbsun.com

Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser, N2737M: Accident occurred June 25, 2017 in Chickaloon Alaska

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Anchorage, Alaska

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

http://registry.faa.gov/N2737M

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA387
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, June 25, 2017 in Chickaloon, AK
Aircraft: PIPER PA 12, registration: N2737M
Injuries: 2 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 in the tail wheel airplane reported that he attempted to land on a 600-ft. turf surface. He overflew the landing site three times to assess its suitability.

During the touchdown, the airplane bounced, and the pilot initiated a go-around. He reduced the flaps to 10°, turned the carburetor heat off, and applied full throttle, but he could not remember the airspeed or trim position. 

The airplane did not climb and touched down in a ravine just beyond the initial landing area. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the forward left side of the fuselage.

Per the National Transportation Safety Board Pilot Aircraft Accident Report, the pilot reported that the accident could have been prevented if he had, "More training in high altitude take offs and landings. More training in go-around techniques in bush planes."

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

Cessna U206F Stationair, N71001, registered to, and operated by, American Aviation Inc: Accident occurred June 23, 2017 in Page, Coconino County, Arizona

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Las Vegas, Nevada

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

American Aviation Inc: http://registry.faa.gov/N71001


NTSB Identification: WPR17LA144
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, June 23, 2017 in Page, AZ
Aircraft: CESSNA U206F, registration: N71001
Injuries: 6 Uninjured.

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

On June 23, 2017, about 1600 mountain standard time, a Cessna U206F airplane, N71001, sustained substantial damage after the pilot executed a precautionary landing about 28 miles southeast of Page, Arizona. The two commercial pilots and four passengers were not injured. The airplane was registered to, and operated by, American Aviation Inc. as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 scenic flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and a company VFR flight plan had been filed. The flight originated from Page, Arizona.

The pilot in command (PIC) reported that while returning to the airport at 7,500 feet, the airplane would no longer climb; it then slowly started to descend at about 350 feet per minute. Unable to stop the descent, the pilots attempted to troubleshoot the problem, but to no avail. The PIC initiated a precautionary landing onto a dirt road. About 125 feet above the ground, the co-pilot took control of the airplane and landed softly onto the road. During the landing roll, the airplane's left wing impacted juniper bushes before it came to rest. As the pilots retarded the throttle to idle, the throttle handle came out of the control panel along with about two feet of throttle cable. 

The airplane has been recovered to a secure location for further examination.

Cessna 172S Skyhawk, N629AH, Suburban Air Corp: Incident occurred June 24, 2017 at Hayward Executive Airport (KHWD), Alameda County, California

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Oakland, California

Suburban Air Corp: http://registry.faa.gov/N629AH

Aircraft landed and struck the propeller.

Date: 24-JUN-17
Time: 20:40:00Z
Regis#: N629AH
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: C172
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: HAYWARD
State: CALIFORNIA

Cessna 305A, N4819R: Accident occurred June 25, 2017 at Ukiah Municipal Airport (KUKI), Mendocino County, California

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA364
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, June 25, 2017 in Ukiah, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/17/2017
Aircraft: CESSNA 305, registration: N4819R
Injuries: 2 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 three-point touchdown, the airplane “immediately veered left,” and he applied full right rudder. He added that he subsequently “applied power,” but as he did so, the right main landing gear collapsed as the airplane ground looped counter-clockwise on the runway.  

The right wing sustained substantial damage.  

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.
An automated weather observation station at the accident airport reported that, about the time of the accident, the wind was from 090° at 5 knots. The pilot reported that the landing was on runway 15.

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 in crosswind conditions.

The pilot of the tailwheel equipped airplane reported that, during the three-point touchdown the airplane "immediately veered left" and he applied full right rudder. He added that he subsequently "applied power," but as he did so, the right main landing gear collapsed as the airplane ground looped counter-clockwise on the runway. 

The right wing sustained substantial damage. 

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

An automated weather observation station, at the accident airport about the time of the accident, reported the wind from 090° at 5 knots. The pilot reported that the landing was on runway 15.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Oakland, California

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

http://registry.faa.gov/N4819R

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA364
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, June 25, 2017 in Ukiah, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA 305, registration: N4819R
Injuries: 2 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 three-point touchdown the airplane "immediately veered left" and he applied full right rudder. He added that he subsequently "applied power," but as he did so, the right main landing gear collapsed as the airplane ground looped counter-clockwise on the runway.

The right wing sustained substantial damage. 

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

An automated weather observation station, at the accident airport about the time of the accident, reported the wind from 090° at 5 knots. The pilot reported that the landing was on runway 15.

Unregistered paraglider: Incident occurred June 23, 2017 in the Eagle River, Eagle County, Colorado

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Denver, Colorado

Unregistered paraglider crashed into the Eagle River.  The one (1) person on board sustained unknown injuries.  

Date: 23-JUN-17
Time: 16:00:00Z
Regis#: UNREG
Aircraft Make: PARAGLIDER
Aircraft Model: PARAGLIDER
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: UNKNOWN
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: EAGLE RIVER
State: COLORADO

Champion 7KCA, N5103X, Plane and Simple LLC: Incident occurred June 24, 2017 at Centennial Airport (KAPA), Englewood, Arapahoe County, Colorado

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Denver, Colorado

Plane and Simple LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N5103X

Aircraft ground looped.

Date: 24-JUN-17
Time: 14:25:00Z
Regis#: N5103X
Aircraft Make: CHAMPION
Aircraft Model: 7KCAB
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: INSTRUCTION
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: ENGLEWOOD
State: COLORADO

Piper PA-28-181, N482A, Archer Aircraft LLC: Incident occurred June 23, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Archer Aircraft LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N482A

Aircraft experienced a birdstrike.

Date: 23-JUN-17
Time: 17:26:00Z
Regis#: N482A
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA28
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
City: FORT LAUDERDALE
State: FLORIDA

Cessna T337G, N78C: Incident occurred June 24, 2017 at North Perry Airport (KHWO), Hollywood, Broward County, Florida

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

http://registry.faa.gov/N78C

Aircraft landed and struck the propeller.

Date: 24-JUN-17
Time: 15:53:00Z
Regis#: N78C
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: C337
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: TAXI (TXI)
City: HOLLYWOOD
State: FLORIDA

Mooney M20K, N1149H, Melbourne Flyers LLC: Incident occurred June 24, 2017 at Orlando Melbourne International Airport (KMLB), Florida

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

Melbourne Flyers LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N1149H

Aircraft landed gear up.

Date: 24-JUN-17
Time: 15:19:00Z
Regis#: N1149H
Aircraft Make: MOONEY
Aircraft Model: M20
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Activity: INSTRUCTION
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: MELBOURNE
State: FLORIDA

Cessna 172M Skyhawk, N5171H, Pan Air Flying Club: Incident occurred June 24, 2017 at Florida Keys Marathon Airport (KMTH), Monroe County, Florida

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; South Florida 

Pan Air Flying Club:   http://registry.faa.gov/N5171H  

Aircraft on taxi, struck a pole.

Date: 24-JUN-17
Time: 16:30:00Z
Regis#: N5171H
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: C172
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: TAXI (TXI)
City: MARATHON
State: FLORIDA

Airbus A310-300, Azores Airlines, CS-TGV: Incident occurred June 25, 2017 at Logan International Airport (KBOS), Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Boston, Massachusetts

RZO221, aircraft landed and struck taxiway light. No injuries. No aircraft damage.

Date: 25-JUN-17
Time: 20:25:00Z
Regis#: RZO221
Aircraft Make: AIRBUS
Aircraft Model: A310
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: NONE
Activity: COMMERCIAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 121
Aircraft Operator: AZORES AIRLINES
Flight Number: RZO221
City: BOSTON
State: MASSACHUSETTS

Beech 35-A33 Debonair, N1381Z, Roll-Tech Inc: Incident occurred June 23, 2017 at Albert J. Lindberg Airport (5Y1), Hessel, Mackinac County, Michigan

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Grand Rapids, Michigan

Roll-Tech Inc: http://registry.faa.gov/N1381Z

Aircraft on landing, gear collapsed.

Date: 23-JUN-17
Time: 19:05:00Z
Regis#: N1381Z
Aircraft Make: BEECH
Aircraft Model: BE35
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: HESSEL
State: MICHIGAN

Ayres S2R-G10 Thrush, N4061H: Accident occurred June 24, 2017 in Oak Valley, Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Minneapolis, Minnesota

http://registry.faa.gov/N4061H

Aircraft, during aerial application, force landed in a field.

Date: 24-JUN-17
Time: 12:00:00Z
Regis#: N4061H
Aircraft Make: AYRES
Aircraft Model: S2R
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: SUBSTANTIAL
Activity: AERIAL APPLICATION
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
City: OAK VALLEY
State: MINNESOTA

Beech E-55 Baron, N138TL, Harvest International Ministries Inc: Incident occurred June 24, 2017 at University-Oxford Airport (KUOX), Lafayette County, Mississippi

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Jackson, Mississippi

Harvest International Ministries Inc: http://registry.faa.gov/N138TL

Aircraft on landing, gear collapsed.

Date: 24-JUN-17
Time: 14:12:00Z
Regis#: N138TL
Aircraft Make: BEECH
Aircraft Model: BE55
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: OXFORD
State: MISSISSIPPI

Cessna 441 Conquest, N441LS, Meander Air LLC: Incident occurred June 23, 2017 at Youngstown–Warren Regional Airport (KYNG), Vienna, Ohio

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Cleveland, Ohio

Meander Air LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N441LS

Aircraft on taxi, struck taxiway lights.

Date: 23-JUN-17
Time: 01:46:00Z
Regis#: N441LS
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: C441
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Activity: CORPORATE
Flight Phase: TAXI (TXI)
City: YOUNGSTOWN
State: OHIO

Cessna P210N, N339DG: Incident occurred June 25, 2017 at Eugene Airport (KEUG), Lane County, Oregon

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Portland, Oregon

http://registry.faa.gov/N339DG

Aircraft during touch and go, went off the runway.

Date: 26-JUN-17
Time: 00:46:00Z
Regis#: N339DG
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: C210
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: EUGENE
State: OREGON

Piper PA-22, N2473P: Accident occurred June 24, 2017 at Eastern Oregon Regional Airport (KPDT), Pendleton, Umatilla County, Oregon

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA363
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, June 24, 2017 in Pendleton, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/22/2017
Aircraft: PIPER PA 22, registration: N2473P
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 a tailwheel-equipped airplane reported that, during the landing roll, the right wing lifted about 4 to 5 ft, and the airplane “pivoted on the left landing gear.” He added that, once the airplane settled back onto the runway, he applied brakes and the airplane nosed over.

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

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

An automated weather observation station at the accident airport recorded that, about 12 minutes after the accident, the wind was from 210° at 4 knots. The airplane landed on runway 11.

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 with a tailwind.

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

Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Rod Anderson Construction Inc:   http://registry.faa.gov/N2473P

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA363
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, June 24, 2017 in Pendleton, OR
Aircraft: PIPER PA 22, registration: N2473P
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 a tailwheel-equipped airplane reported that during the landing roll the right wing lifted about 4-5 ft. and the airplane "pivoted on the left landing gear". He added that once the airplane settled back onto the runway he applied brakes and the airplane nosed over.

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

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


An automated weather observation station at the accident airport, about 12 minutes after the accident, recorded that the wind was from 210° at 4 knots. The airplane landed on runway 11.

Beech B50, N8887: Incident occurred June 25, 2017 in Fort Worth, Texas

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fort Worth, Texas

http://registry.faa.gov/N8887

Aircraft on landing, nose gear collapsed.

Date: 25-JUN-17
Time: 21:16:00Z
Regis#: N8887
Aircraft Make: BEECH
Aircraft Model: BE50
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: FORT WORTH
State: TEXAS

Hughes 369, N765KV, Haverfield International Inc: Accident occurred June 23, 2017 in Dennis, West Virginia

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Charleston, West Virginia
MD Helicopters; Phoenix, Arizona
Rolls-Royce; Indianapolis, Indiana

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Haverfield International Inc:   http://registry.faa.gov/N765KV

NTSB Identification: ERA17LA209
14 CFR Part 133: Rotorcraft Ext. Load
Accident occurred Friday, June 23, 2017 in Dennis, WV
Aircraft: HUGHES 369, registration: N765KV
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

On June 23, 2017, about 1315 eastern daylight time, a Hughes 369E, N765KV, operated by Haverfield Aviation Inc, was substantially damaged during a hard landing near Dennis, West Virginia. The commercial pilot was not injured. The external load flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 133. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight.

The pilot reported that he returned to the landing zone with a conductor attached to a long line. The helicopter was in a 100-foot hover over the landing zone, while the pilot monitored a ground crewmember disconnect the conductor from the long line. The helicopter began to settle and the pilot raised the collective control; however, the helicopter continued to settle as a warning horn sounded and the engine noise ceased. The pilot then entered an autorotation and during the landing, a main rotor blade contacted the tailboom, which resulted in a tailboom separation.

Further examination of the helicopter was planned following its recovery to the operator's facility.

Helicopter crash pilot Rick Lucas loses license


MBB BK 117-A3, ZK-IED,  Heliforce




Pilot Rick Lucas, whose helicopter crashed in Porirua harbour, is grounded after having his license taken away.  

The Civil Aviation Authority would not confirm whether the decision happened after the May 2nd crash north of Wellington.

However, an Official Information Act request confirms Lucas's commercial pilot's license is "not current".

On Monday Lucas said his lack of license was due to having no medical certificate, and was nothing to do with the accident on May 2nd.

Lucas is also facing a charge of careless flying related to earlier incidents in the Wellington region.

He is due in Wellington District Court, charged with operating an aircraft in a careless manner over Pukerua Bay and Wellington.

Lucas, whose Helipro company was put into receivership in 2014, owing an estimated $25 million to $30m, was flying for Heliforce on May 2 when he plunged into the harbour inlet while carrying power poles. 

He escaped unharmed from his twin-engine BK117 helicopter.

Crash witness Reuben Kunst said the helicopter was carrying telephone poles when the cable snapped and hit the tail rotor, spinning the chopper around.

At the time, Lucas said he closed the throttles and lowered the lever to try to stop the rotation.

"But it was still a significant impact, and I ended up under the water. I couldn't get the seatbelt off.

"[I] couldn't tell up from down until I saw some light and I was able to head towards the light and emerge in the cockpit, so I was pretty happy."

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission is investigating the incident, and its findings are expected by the end of next year. 

Heliforce director Dave Borlase would not comment on Monday.

https://www.stuff.co.nz

Ace of Ag: South Dakota aviator operates rare ag pilot school



MADISON, S.D. — For $43,000 of tuition money and six months of your time, Morris Riggin can turn you into a certified aerial ag applicator.

He's taught dozens since starting at age 19.

Riggin, 56, owns Riggin Flight Service of Madison. The school turns out 20 to 30 ag pilots every year. It is one of only four schools of its kind nationwide. Riggin's flying history spans 100 years, with stops in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Things lifted off with great-uncle Guy Riggin, who grew up with his younger brother William (Morris' grandfather) on a 1,200-head sheep farm near Devils Lake, N.D.

Guy trained to be a World War I fighter pilot and shipped out to Europe just as the Great War ended. As the story goes, Guy used his muster-out pay to buy a train ticket "as far as he could go" from New York City. That turned out to be at Havre, Mont., where he started farming.

"He always wanted an airplane, so as soon as he could afford it he bought an old biplane" for recreation and farm use, Morris says.



Big Sky Guy

While Guy farmed at Havre, William continued to farm at Devils Lake where Morris' father, Wayne, grew up. Guy taught his nephew Wayne how to fly. Wayne solo-flew at age 16 in about 1933 and soon acquired his commercial pilot's license.

When World War II came along, Wayne became a war-time flight instructor, working for a contractor out of Mississippi. After the war, the company looked into a new market — crop dusting.

"They said, 'We don't know anything about it, but would you like to hang around and do it?' That's how Dad started spraying," Morris says.

Wayne established Riggin Flight Service in 1947. He would teach other crop dusters — often ex-military pilots, with ground flaggers.



Before crop dusting became common in the North Dakota, Wayne spent summers crop dusting in Mississippi. He'd come back to Devils Lake in the winter to help care for 1,200 sheep and hunt coyote and fox from the air for bounty money. He sold the sheep in the mid-1950s to concentrate on flying.

In 1959, Wayne's airplane hangar burned, destroying all five of his airplanes. In 1961, Wayne moved the Riggin Flying Service to Milbank, S.D.

Morris was born in 1960, the only son with three sisters. When the family flew home to Devils Lake for family events, Wayne let Morris, 8, steer the plane.

"I was flying before my feet would reach the pedals," Morris recalls. "He said, 'You just follow that compass: Devils Lake is north.' "



Aces of ag

After high school in 1979, Morris took the airplane mechanic course at what is now Lake Area Technical Institute at Watertown, S.D. He sprayed at Watertown, then Milbank, S.D., and in 2003 took a summer stint as a bush pilot in Alaska before returning to work at Aberdeen, S.D.

In 2010, Morris was hired to manage the Madison Municipal Airport, and he could keep his flight school going on the side. Riggin Flight Service has developed a niche for ag pilots as the need has grown. Planes are getting bigger and "insurance companies really insist that pilots have some formal training," he explains.



There are other schools in Georgia, Florida and Louisiana, but nothing this far north.

"We fly in a lot of wind. You need to know when to stop spraying because of the wind and the thunderstorms that moves through up here," he says.

Conversely, ag pilots now increasingly are worrying about calm winds — temperature inversions, which can lead to drift damage.

Things are more complicated today. Now pilots often put five or six chemicals in a load, sometimes mixed in a specific order. Some chemicals require to be decontaminated for several hours before new chemicals can be loaded.



Nothing new

Riggin owns 13 airplanes, but uses three in his ag training school — a two-seat Piper PA-18 Super Cub, made in 1952; a Call Air A-9, a single-seat, made in 1966; and a Cessna 140, built in 1947, for instrument training.

"We don't have any new stuff for the school," Riggin says, grinning.

Ag pilot students must be 18 to get a commercial license. The current crop is from Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas and Oregon. Students typically live in Madison and fly every day when the weather is fit. The process usually lasts six months.

Students learn in "tail-draggers" — planes with a little wheel in the back versus tricycle gears with a nose wheel up-front. "The center of gravity is behind the pilot so it's actually kind of pushing you," he says.



Heidi Stoeppler, 27, who grew up in California, has been a flight instructor for two years. She grew up in the country near Bakersfield, Calif., and watched crop dusters treating almonds, walnuts and cherries, as well as wheat, corn and vegetables.

"I'd ride my bike out to watch them spraying, and they told me I spent so much time out there, they might as well put me to work," Stoeppler says.

Stoeppler loaded planes for that company, then moved to Montana to load firefighting planes. While in the Black Hills of South Dakota, she became aware of Morris, and he offered her training and an instructor job. She's hoping to do some ag spraying this summer, perhaps in Kansas.



The basics

Riggin uses the first 40 to 60 hours to qualify students for a private license. The next 40 hours are for instrument school. Flying by instruments isn't needed for ag piloting, but graduates require flexibility to do things other than ag work.

"Then we put them through the ag school, which is 25 to 30 hours," Morris says. All of this contributes toward 250 hours to receive a commercial pilot's certificate.

Instructors teach how to find the field, then scout the field for obstacles.

"You're looking not only for stuff in the field you could hit, but stuff a mile around — towers, and now there's drones flying all over so we want to keep an eye on those."

A GPS gets the pilot to the right field. Once at the field, the pilot marks an "AB line," essentially telling the GPS where the edge of the field is. The GPS automatically divides the field into whatever the swath width is, and the pilot tells it when to move to a new swath until the end.

Part of the trick is to fly low and watch a 1½0foot-wide GPS light bar, mounted on the cowling, and keep it within 5 feet of either side of the centerline. "That actually takes a fair amount of concentration and skill," Morris acknowledges.

They teach how to "fly low" — 10 feet off the ground — and make specific, safe turns, which is one of the most challenging parts. Turning a loaded plane involves a wide swing.



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One of Riggin Flight Service's advantages is that it teaches pilots with the planes loaded with water. Students learn "emergency quick water dumps" as one of the counter-moves to engine failures and emergencies.

Morris says it takes a person with patience and attention to detail to be a pilot — especially the spray pilots. About 90 percent of the students who start the course finish it. Some aren't cut out to fly low or get up at 5 in the morning.

These days, more ag pilots are coming from the city than the rural areas. One student who didn't complete the course asked Riggin the difference between an alfalfa and a corn field.



"It's a lot easier to teach farm kids how to be a spray pilot than a city kid how to be a farmer," he says. "You do need to know a fair amount about the crops to be successful."

One dropout that surprised Riggin was a veteran Army medevac helicopter pilot who had a record of flying helicopters into "hot" war zones.

"I gave him a demo ride. We flew down across the field (one time) and on the way back, he said, 'That's enough of that: I've never been so scared in my life!' He got out the airplane, and that was it."

Riggin has two sons who are pilots, but they are in other businesses at this time. Commodity prices make a big difference in the returns for ag aviation, but that's cyclical. Beginning spray pilots can earn $30,000 a year. Experienced pilots can make $100,000.



"A few years ago when corn was really high priced, we were putting fertilizer on corn, micronutrients," he says. "Corn isn't so high (priced) now. We haven't sprayed any corn in two years."

There are 4,000 spray pilots in the United States — only a handful of women. The average age is 56 — Riggins' age. It will take 200 to 300 new pilots to replace them as they retire, and the industry is not keeping up. Riggin says he's doing all he can to change that. 

For information, go to www.rigginflightservice.com

http://www.mitchellrepublic.com

How Wilderness Holdings beat CemAir




The original intention was never to sell off Air Botswana, fresh information has revealed. Paper trail seen by this publication points to a Presidential Directive that directed the Ministry of Transport and Communications to turn Air Botswana into a company with private shareholding, and Wilderness Holdings was to be a partner with the Government of Botswana.

Notwithstanding the decision by Wilderness Holdings to withdraw its expression of interest in Air Botswana, the Public Enterprise Evaluation and Privatization Agency (PEEPA) is already working on a process to turn Air Botswana into a company, and a draft constitution is already circulating for comments.

One of the objectives of turning Air Botswana into a private company is to engage the private sector in the ownership and management of Air Botswana to ensure continued provision of air travel services in the domestic, regional and international markets by a viable and efficient airline.

Furthermore the intention by government is to sustain business travel within and to Botswana and also support and grow tourism travel to the country. Importantly it was emphasized to interested bidders that government was looking at reducing its future financial commitment in the airline.

Bidders were to further grow the aviation sector and its contribution to the economy through private sector participation. An objective of the government that turned away some of the potential partners is the one that calls for “retaining of the brand Air Botswana.”  The colors, brand, and name Air Botswana are to be retained.

Wilderness Holdings was mentioned in the Presidential Directive as the preferred partner after it was presumed to have satisfied the stated objectives ahead of CemAir. The bid assessors looked at previous experience in the provision of Airline Services; understanding of airline operational and market realities; access to resources; and the extent to which local participation in ownership or operations is possible.

How Wilderness Holdings got the nod

Wilderness Holdings and CemAir’s business models were compared and the model by Wilderness Holdings was found to be the better model of the two to address what the Government intends doing regarding identifying a partner for Air Botswana. The Ministry is of the view that Wilderness Holdings have aviation experience through Wilderness Air, which provides small aircraft charter services tourists. 

“Wilderness Holdings also have direct contact with tourist’s right from places of origin. They also have the potential to develop tourism air travel to and within Botswana as well as to build onto the existing Air Botswana network and capabilities,” argues Kabelo Ebineng, the accounting officer at the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

Ebineng points to the fact that CemAir’s business model showed that they are well-established, profitable aircraft leasing organization, with a small scheduled operation (seven routes) in South Africa. He says they also have an existing relationship with Air Botswana through the extended lease of a CRJ100 aircraft. “However, they lack international marketing and distribution experience,” says Ebineng.

Sharing on the aviation experience of Wilderness Holdings, Ebineng does not hold back, “Wilderness Holdings Limited began life as Wilderness Safaris in Botswana in 1983. It listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange with secondary listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on 8 April 2010 and is widely recognized as one of the world’s foremost tourism businesses.

Wilderness Holdings Limited is the holding company for the ecotourism brands of Wilderness Safaris and Wilderness Collection – and the non-profit trusts of Children in the Wilderness and Wilderness Wildlife Trust. 

Operating some 45 safari camps and lodges, and 10 scheduled overland safaris in Botswana, Congo (Brazzaville), Kenya, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.”  

On CemAir, Ebineng writes: “CemAir is a licensed International and Domestic Scheduled and Nonscheduled air carrier with approval from the South African Department of Transport and Civil Aviation Authority to conduct operations throughout Africa and the Middle East as part 121 and 135 Operator. In addition CemAir is a licensed Part 145 maintenance and repair organization with in house capabilities to maintain all of our own aircraft.” 

Some within Government are persuading the powers that be to lobby Wilderness Holdings to reconsider its position of withdrawing from the muted partnership.

http://www.weekendpost.co.bw