Monday, August 7, 2017

Editorial: Threat of closing Westerly State Airport (KWST) doesn’t help an already tense situation

The discussion about the future of look and feel of Westerly State Airport has been cast in a new light now that word is out that the quasi-public agency that runs the facility has put closure on the table. That seems a bit extreme, no?

On Sunday we reported that the Rhode Island Airport Corporation had written to Westerly Town Manager Derrik Kennedy and made more than a passing reference to closing the facility as one option since residents seem so bothered by the place. Make that some residents.

We don’t want to see the airport close and most people in the region probably don’t want to see the airport close. The airport authority seems to be leaping way ahead in making statements about closing. Granted, RIAC is facing a lawsuit by some of the neighbors who have complained about its effort to clear trees on their property by eminent domain. But homeowners have a right to fight when they feel their property is being unfairly taken. Nevertheless the authority’s statements ramp up this issue tenfold.

“Given the amount of negative attention and consternation the airport seems to bring to each and every Town Hall meeting, the best solution may be to close the airport,” wrote Alan R. Andrade, a RIAC senior vice president. “Please know that closing the airport is a real option for RIAC.”

Referring to the need for RIAC to meet requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration to keep airspace around the airport safe by removing trees and other potential hazards, Andrade said, “To do so requires impacts to private property surrounding the airport. This approach has painted RIAC as being problematic and inconsiderate to the community. Please know that we will do whatever the town asks of us, but I need an answer soon. We are under pressure from the FAA to address the known hazards that currently exist to the existing runway approach surfaces.”

This threat has the folks on Block Island trembling, since Westerly Airport is often described as a lifeline to islanders for everything from medical care to take out from their favorite Westerly restaurant, not to mention tradesmen to maintain their homes. The ferry just doesn’t get it done in some cases.

We don’t want to see the airport closed either. As noted in Sunday’s story, the airport generates business for this region whether through direct employment or by facilitating employment in the manner described above. Kennedy and Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Konicki attested to that. Even the attorney representing neighbors said his clients don’t count closure as a goal.

“My clients want it to remain a small airport for local flights but it’s turned into a place with different types of planes and increased activity,” the attorney said.

Talk to longtime locals, however, and you’ll hear that a variety of aircraft have used the airport for decades. The airport has been here for well over a half century and now it’s hemmed in by Route 1, town roads, commercial and residential property. If large trees on private property have to go for reasons of safety so be it. RIAC needs to move off its eminent domain stand and negotiate a smaller safety zone with the FAA. Nearby residents need to acknowledge they moved into the airport neighborhood.

Original article can be found here ➤

Dakota Quinn: Happy birthday, you are cleared for takeoff

Dakota Quinn during the solo flight he takes as part of his advancement. Now possessing a student pilot's license at age 16, Dakota can get a private pilot's license at 17.

OTTUMWA — A couple days after getting FAA approval to fly, he’ll finally get his Iowa driver’s license.

“I’d never soloed anyone on their 16th birthday before,” said Keeley Paris, an Ottumwa professional pilot and flight instructor.

That’s the youngest age at which a person can fly a plane by themselves. As of Sunday, Dakota Quinn, 16, of Ottumwa, doesn’t even need an instructor at the airport.

“The fixed base operator [at the Ottumwa Regional Airport] is run by the Kecks; they have airplanes to rent. I can fly anywhere within 20 miles of the airport.”

That’s plenty for a sightseeing trip over the town, though he can’t have any passengers. At 16, Dakota has earned his student pilot’s license.

“My grandfather is the one who got me interested in flying. He took me to an air show, and the Piper Cub is the first plane I ever flew in. I was 8 years old.”

As a child, he asked the pilot of the 1940s aircraft about learning to fly. Les Gaskill met with the boy a couple times a year.

“My first logged entry was when I was 11 years old,” said Dakota. “Now I volunteer at the Antique Airfield with my grandfather, Dan Quinn.”

Paris is another of his flight instructors, though he has trained the 16 year old in a more modern aircraft. On Sunday, Dakota soloed in the 1940s J3 he first flew in, then soloed in the 1980s Warrior airplane. So in addition to his student pilot’s license, he’s now qualified on two airplanes — one of which was more than 50 years older than Dakota Quinn.

“These are two very different airplanes, “ said Paris. “They land very differently. To qualify in two in one day would be an accomplishment for an adult.”

Landing wrong in the tail heavy Cub can be dangerous, he added. Dakota learned that the hard way.

During training, “I did a real bad landing, and thought to myself that I wouldn’t be able to do it. But then I got better and better.”

As the sun came up on Sunday, an impressed Paris said, “he did what few people have done on the sunrise of their 16th birthday; he soloed in a 1940s taildragger airplane.”

He did great, Paris said, then changed his mindset in order to switch to the contemporary plane. But why two in one day?

“That’s what he wanted; he volunteered to do that,” said Paris.

“I wanted to challenge myself, see if I could do it,” explained Dakota.

Paris said Dakota’s grandpa, Dan, inspired him to become a pilot and later, a professional. Paris taught Dan Quinn to fly, then had the chance to teach Dan’s grandson. Paris said Dakota can take his private pilot’s license test and test flight when he is 17.

“I think I’m going to try for my 17th birthday. I like the way this worked out,” the teen said.

Flying will definitely be part of Dakota’s life, but he’s gone back and forth on whether he’d do it for a living. He could get his professional pilot’s license at 18.

“I’m not 100 percent sure,” he said when asked if flying would become his job. "But I think it could be."

He’s a responsible, motivated kid, said Paris. He already works part time, and Paris expects whatever Dakota does, he’ll be successful.

“If he’s successful enough,” speculated Paris, “10 years down the road, I might be asking him for a job.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Bids Opening Set For Woodbine Municipal Airport (KOBI) Taxiway A Rehabilitation—Stage II

WOODBINE - The Woodbine Borough has authorized bids to go out for the Woodbine Municipal Airport Taxiway A Rehabilitation-State II Construction Project. 

Bid opening will be Aug. 24, 2017, at 11 a.m. A pre-bid conference will be held at 11 am Aug. 14, 2017, at the Woodbine Municipal Airport, 660 Henry DeCinque Boulevard.

The Woodbine Municipal Airport received grant funding in the amount of $338,913.06 from the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s FY2017 Airport Improvement Program for this project

Taxiway A is essential to the Airport’s taxiway system. Taxiway A renders an important role providing access to Runway 1 and 31. Without this taxiway, aircraft departing on Runway 1 would be required to back taxi to the departure end of the runway. Engineering Brief No, 75: Incorporation of Runway Incursion Prevention into Taxiway and Apron Design warns against using runways as taxiways.

The FAA approved Master Plan, states that the activity and the amount of based aircraft are projected to increase over time. Airside facilities at Woodbine Municipal Airport will require an upgrade to continue meeting the existing and future demands of the flying community and to comply with safety standards.

Taxiway A is a primary taxiway which serves as the only connector between the approach ends of Runway 1 and 31.

Stage I, which was recently completed, rehabilitated approximately 1,000’ x 65’ section of Taxiway A between Runway 1-19 and Runway 13-31. This stage was funded by a $400,000 NJDOT grant. Stage II addresses the second half of the taxiway consisting of another 1,000’ x 65’. The scope of work will include repairing cracks, reconstructing portions of the taxiway that have failed, mill the top surface course, and provide an overlay of the taxiway with bituminous pavement. The project will also include taxiway markings.

“The State of New Jersey is committed to providing our general aviation with these needed improvements so as to preserve our local aviation resource,” noted Mayor Pikolycky.

Original article ➤

Toledo Police Department helicopter sale details still up in air

Specific details of a recent Toledo Police Department helicopter sale are still up in the air.

The chopper, which remains grounded at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center, sold Friday during the closing of a auction for $150,000.

The two-week auction ended Friday afternoon and brought in 24 bids, starting at $20,000.

The helicopter was sold to LHP Investments out of Montana, according to Toledo Police Capt. Joe Heffernan. The chopper’s final destination remained unknown as of Monday. Arrangements for the helicopter’s delivery have not been made.

A message was left and not returned Monday for Richard Jackson, division of purchases and supplies commissioner for the city of Toledo, regarding the sale.

With a 12 percent buyer’s premium, the total purchase price for the helicopter came to $168,750, according to the auction site.

Toledo bought the Robinson R-44 in 2001 for the department’s aviation unit, which organized that year. The chopper cost about $504,000. It has been used for the past 16 years for surveillance, search and rescue, night patrols, overseeing chases, and in other emergency situations.

The aircraft has a cruising speed of 130 mph, a range of about 350 miles, and three seats. Police equipment, such as a search light and infrared camera, fill the space where a fourth seat could be located.

The collective time on the helicopter is nearly 3,780 hours. It’s inspected annually in November, according to the sale post.

A combination of the cost of a major overhaul, retiring staff, and new technology prompted the sale.

City officials have said the aircraft may not be worth the $300,000 cost of a mandatory factory overhaul required every 2,200 flight hours or every 12 years, whichever comes first. In September, 2005, when it was four years old, the helicopter received such an overhaul. The cost of $190,000 at that time was paid with a federal grant, police officials said.

When the helicopter was purchased, there were four pilots and the chopper was flown once or twice a shift, Captain Heffernan said. The department’s sole remaining certified pilot is expected to retire in about a year.

“Buying another helicopter, we would have all of those expenses and the training of pilots,” Captain Heffernan said. “All of those factors together really pointed us to the direction of a drone.”

A drone can be controlled by a pilot using a tablet, climb to several hundred feet, fly in harsh weather, and cover a wide area.

While helicopters can be proven beneficial during patrol operations and lengthy investigations, a drone can be deployed quickly and the operator’s certification process is easier, the captain said.

The police department has been using the drone for about six months. The drone has been used in missing-person cases and at the scene of three large fires.

Story and video ➤

The buzz on drones

Carl Rocheleau, chief unmanned aerial systems instructor with Northwestern Michigan College, shows students an Aeryon SkyRanger drone during a presentation in Petoskey.

NORTHERN MICHIGAN — What’s that buzzing sound?

You may have heard it out at the beach, at one of the many summertime events that take place throughout Northern Michigan, or perhaps in your own backyard.

The sound probably isn’t that of some monster mosquito, but rather it could be coming from some kind of unmanned aerial system (UAS) — otherwise known to many as a drone.

These radio-controlled aircraft usually fly using three or four helicopter-style rotors, allowing the operator to maneuver and hover the aircraft — usually for the purpose of taking still images or video from small cameras mounted underneath.

These technological advancements have allowed for some aeriel images to be captured in recent years that previously would only have been possible from an airplane, or — depending on the circumstance — not at all.

They’ve become useful for all sorts of practical purposes — real estate, agriculture, utility line surveying, emergency response and many more.

Advances in technology have also driven down the cost to the point that for as little as $50, a person can buy an entry-level drone.

While the technology offers a wide array of benefits, there are some areas of concern, including safety and privacy.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has rules for drone operation. The applicable set of rules depends on the purpose for which the drone is being used.

A person using a drone for recreational or other amateur purposes is not required to have any sort of licensing to fly it.

A person who is using the drone for any sort of commercial purpose — real estate, journalism or professional imaging services, for example — is required to obtain a license from the agency.

Carl Rocheleau, the chief instructor for the Unmanned Aerial Systems Program at Northwestern Michigan College, said the license costs $150 and is good for two years.

To obtain a license through the FAA, a person must be at least 16 years old, “be in physical and mental condition to safely operate a small UAS” and pass a written knowledge test.

The process also includes a security background check by the Transportation Security Administrator.

However, Rocheleau noted, there is no skills proficiency test associated with the licensing process.

“As a pilot (of manned aircraft), we were quite disappointed that there is no standardization through flight testing, but there are so many variations (of drones), it would be very difficult,” he said.

Safety, of course is the primary concern surrounding the use of drones, Rocheleau noted. He said potential hazards include crashing into buildings or people, or interfering with other manned aircraft traffic.

Indeed, during the departure of boats for the annual Boyne Thunder event recently in Boyne City, at least four drones could be seen flying over Veterans Park near the shore of Lake Charlevoix — all while a helicopter made multiple flyovers of the area to take capture images of the event.

There are a host of rules that drone operators are supposed to follow, Rocheleau said. The rules are the same regardless of whether the operator is licensed or unlicensed. However, he noted, the licensed operator should know the rules, and puts his or her license at risk for violating the rules. An unlicensed operator may or may not know the rules, and has no license at risk.

A few of the rules that Rocheleau highlighted include:

• Drones must give way (stay out of the way) of manned aircraft.

• Operators must keep the aircraft in sight (visual line-of-sight)

• Drones must be under 55 pounds

• Operators must follow community-based safety guidelines

• Operators need to notify airport and air traffic control tower before flying within 5 miles of an airport

On its website, the FAA offers these “safety guidelines” for hobby or recreational (non-licensed) drone operators:

• Fly at or below 400 feet and stay away from surrounding obstacles

• Keep your UAS within sight

• Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports

• Never fly over groups of people

• Never fly over stadiums or sports events

• Never fly near emergency response efforts such as fires

• Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol

• Understand airspace restrictions and requirements

The FAA lists the following as “must” rules for licensed drone operation:

• Must keep the aircraft in sight (visual line-of-sight)

• Must fly at altitudes under 400 feet

• Must fly during the day

• Must fly at or below 100 mph

• Must yield right of way to manned aircraft

• Must NOT fly over people

• Must NOT fly from a moving vehicle

An operator may apply for a waiver of these rules.

Rocheleau noted that a licensed operator who violates these rules could be subject to sanctions against his or her license.

What to do?

Rocheleau said enforcing the rules set out by the FAA can be somewhat difficult in many circumstances. He said because the aircraft can be operated at a distance, it can be difficult to track down the pilot of a drone operating in an unsafe manner.

For example, Charlevoix Police Chief Gerard Doan said on several occasions he saw drones flying near or over East Park during the recent Venetian Festival — which would be a violation of the rule (or guideline) against flying over people. However, he said in such a large crowd it would be difficult to track the pilot down.

However, several area law enforcement officials — such as Doan, Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin and Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof — said they’ve handled few, if any, cases in which drone usage has been at issue.

However, the potential for such a circumstance certainly exists.

Rocheleau said if someone sees a drone operating in an unsafe manner he or she can either report it to a local public safety official, or to the FAA. Of course the FAA does not have the manpower to immediately respond to reports of safety violations, but if the person operating the drone can be identified, either by the initial reporting person or by police, a follow-up investigation could be initiated.

Additionally, he noted that any privacy concerns that might stem from a person using drones would have similar legal limitations as those that would apply to traditional photography or invasion-of-privacy laws. Essentially, the benchmark for those situations is whether or not a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in a location — such as in his or her fenced-in backyard as opposed to in a park or on a public beach.

The Federal Aviation Administration has a variety of information on its website about the rules surrounding drone usage and how to become licensed. The information is available at

Original article can be found here ➤

PenAir flight cancellation disconcerting

Several communities in Nebraska were shocked last week when their lone air carrier, PenAir, announced that it would no longer be serving those towns. 

Alaska-based PenAir filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization a week ago and announced it is closing its Denver hub. PenAir flew between Denver and North Platte, Kearney and Scottsbluff in Nebraska.

Those three Nebraska cities are now scrambling to find a replacement.

“We were caught off guard,” Mike Sharkey, manager of the North Platte Regional Airport, told the North Platte Telegraph.

PenAir flew Essential Air Service routes between Denver and North Platte, Kearney and Scottsbluff, as well as Liberal and Dodge City, Kan.

Because of the terms of PenAir’s contract, it is required to continue providing service until a suitable replacement is found and can provide daily flights to Denver, Sharkey said.

Essential Air Service funding is crucial in providing air service to small communities. Without that help from the federal government, airlines couldn’t afford to make flights to rural communities.

However, as the PenAir case shows, even the EAS funding is no guarantee that those flights will be successful. And, as the PenAir case also shows, an airline can be struggling for a number of reasons that will force them to pull out of EAS routes.

These three Nebraska communities had high hopes for PenAir as the previous airline serving them, Great Lakes, had struggled to provide reliable service.

Now their air service has taken another hit with PenAir pulling out.

All of this illustrates how fortunate Grand Island is to have the air service it has with flights provided by Allegiant Airlines to Las Vegas and Mesa/Phoenix and flights by American Eagle to Dallas.

The American flights are Grand Island’s EAS routes. They have proven popular with travelers as the flights are almost always close to full and travelers have found that in Dallas they can make connections to almost anywhere.

PenAir’s pullout from Denver shows once again the great judgment and foresight that Central Nebraska Regional Airport officials have shown. They have worked closely with Allegiant to make sure those flights are a success. And they made the right decision in choosing Dallas as the destination for its EAS routes.

While other central and western Nebraska airports are struggling, Grand Island travelers are fortunate to continue to have outstanding service right here in Grand Island.

About 18 months after arriving in Humboldt County amid much fanfare, PenAir sent out a press release shortly before 7 p.m. on Aug. 7 announcing it was shuttering its route from Arcata/Eureka to Portland.

Some 72 hours later, its last plane had departed the airport in McKinleyville and the airline had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, looking to end its flights into and out of Crescent City.

"The steps we are taking today will allow PenAir to emerge as a stronger airline, while continuing to focus on safe operations," PenAir CEO and Chair Danny Sybert says in a press release.

The move leaves United, once again, as the last airline standing in Humboldt County, limiting the routes and schedules available to customers, and potentially driving up costs. It will, however, have little impact on the local workforce, as PenAir spokesperson Missy Roberts says the company only has one local employee — a longtime PenAir staffer who will have the option of relocating with the company — and contracts others through SkyWest, which has indicated it doesn't expect any staffing changes stemming from PenAir's decision.

The stakes are substantially higher up in Crescent City, where PenAir is the only airline service, offering a pair of daily roundtrip flights to Portland. But the small Del Norte County airport also has more protections, as it has the federal distinction of being an "Essential Air Service" airport. That means PenAir can't pull up shop until it gets federal approval and another airline has agreed to service the airport, a process which typically takes at least 90 days.

Del Norte County Airport Director Matthew Leitner says he expects the Department of Transportation will soon issue a request for proposals to all air carriers in the nation, seeking bids to take over Del Norte's air service. The airport's EAS status means its airlines get federal subsidies to service the market, which makes it a sought after contract for most airlines. The subsidies come from foreign overflight fees, or tariffs placed on foreign flights that pass over U.S. airspace — like, say, a flight from Havana to Toronto. The whole idea, according to Leitner, is to ensure that markets that need airport service due to their geographic isolation get it at an affordable cost.

Unfortunately for Humboldt County, we don't have that designation and there's no guarantee — and possibly only limited optimism — that an airline will step in and take PenAir's place. The good news is that Humboldt still has a pot of cash aimed at luring another carrier.

The shuttering of the route represents a relatively stunning turn of events for PenAir, which opened it without demanding a minimum revenue guarantee — the promised revenues that airports in small areas generally offer to airlines in case the companies are unable to fill seats as projected. While that move may represent a bit of irrational confidence on the part of the airline — a local official estimated it costs at least $8 million to start a new route in a new market — it also means Humboldt County still has some money to try to leverage into a replacement option.

The group Fly Humboldt has raised more than $1 million in funds to offer minimum revenue guarantees, launch marketing efforts and make improvements intended to recruit new air service options locally. Because that money wasn't spent on PenAir, it's still available.

Emily Jacobs, program coordinator for the county's aviation division, says efforts to recruit another airline to Humboldt never stopped and remain ongoing.

"We're always interested in more flights to more destinations," she says. "We've already been in contact and talking with airlines, and will be meeting with some in October."

But for the time being, those going commercially airborne out of Humboldt will do so on United flights to San Francisco. And that has a bit of a potentially reverberating impact, from the airport's grounds crew to Ramone's, which recently opened a cafĂ© there. Jacobs says United is adding another afternoon flight to San Francisco — sporadically this month and then daily in September — which will fortunately help offset the loss of PenAir.

For those holding a PenAir ticket out of Arcata/Eureka, they'll have to make other arrangements — either getting the purchase refunded or trying to channel their itinerary through Crescent City and making the hour-plus drive north. (Ticket holders can call (800) 448-4226 to explore their options.)

PenAir, meanwhile, will continue operations in eight destinations in the Alaska and Boston areas, presumably because they remain profitable, as it enters bankruptcy proceedings and looks to reorganize as a company.

Founded in 1955, PenAir is one of the largest family-owned airlines in the United States, with 700 employees nationwide.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KNEP) - The airline providing service between Scottsbluff and Denver won't fight the Western Nebraska Regional Airport Authority's quest for a new essential air carrier.

PenAir filed a notice of termination of service for all subsidized essential air service to and from Scottsbluff with the U.S. Department of Transportation. In the July 28, 2017 filing, PenAir requests that the DOT issue an order "as soon as possible inviting proposals from carriers interested in providing essential air service to/from Scottsbluff", and then to promptly select a new carrier.

WNRA Board members voted earlier in July to petition the U.S. DOT to vacate the order awarding EAS to PenAir and issue a new Request for Proposal. In their letter to DOT officials dated July 12, WNRA officials noted enplanement numbers for PenAir improved only marginally over the previous EAS carrier, on track for about 4,000 for the year. However, airport officials also said through June 2017, 17 percent of flights were cancelled, with a similar percentage delayed more than 30 minutes and a change in schedule that didn't work for WNRA customers.

PenAir has not suffered a similar level of flight cancellations with service provided to either North Platte or Kearney. In June, PenAir officials said a pilot shortage was presenting challenges contributing to the service issues involving the Scottsbluff airport.

PenAir's filing indicated they intended to continue their Scottsbluff service until a replacement service could begin operation.

Humboldt’s soaring woes continue. After just over a year, our fastest escape route to Portland is no longer an option. 

PenAir quietly informed local airport officials today that it would cease its services between ACV and PDX. The last flights will be this coming Monday. 

Emily Jacobs, program director with the Humboldt County Aviation Division, told the Outpost that she learned of PenAir’s decision in a phone call this afternoon around the same time as did PenAir’s locally based employees. 

Humboldt is not the only airport PenAir is quitting. Jacobs said she was told that the airline told her they would be leaving all non-essential air service markets in the lower 48 states — for those keeping score, that means Crescent City will keep its cheap flights to Portland. 

“We’re definitely disappointed,” Jacobs said. “It was a very successful route, and they were pretty full. But we’ll keep on going and keep presenting our data on passengers to the airlines, and try to find something else.”

Jacobs said one of the main issues affecting PenAir is a national pilot shortage.

“The mandatory retirement age for pilots is 65. It’s such a large population that pilots are retiring – hundreds by the day. The major airlines are hiring pilots from the regional airlines.”

UPDATE: A press release from PenAir below:

Alaska-based PenAir cancels Pacific Northwest area air service

Effective Tuesday, August 8, 2017, PenAir will cease operations of all non-EAS routes in the Pacific Northwest. This includes air travel on PenAir between Portland and Redding, Eureka/Arcata, North Bend/Coos Bay or Klamath Falls. The last scheduled flights in and out of Portland will be Monday, August 7. Flights operated by PenAir between Portland and Crescent City will continue as scheduled.

“The steps we are taking with closing Portland area routes will allow PenAir to cut costs, while management continues its focus on financial stability and safe operations,” said PenAir CEO and Chairman Danny Seybert.

PenAir flies to eight destinations within Alaska, as well as the Denver and Boston areas. Passengers on all other routes can expect continued operations with no changes to flight times or services.

Passengers scheduled to fly out of the Portland markets after August 7, may contact the airline at 800-448-4226.

As a cost-cutting measure, PenAir will stop commercial air service flights and operations in Klamath Falls starting Monday, as well as all non-essential air service routes in Redding, Eureka/Arcata and North Bend/Coos Bay.

The announcement came to John Barsalou, airport manager at Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport, at about 3:30 p.m. Friday afternoon.

The last flight leaves Klamath Falls Monday night, according to Melissa “Missy” Roberts, vice president of marketing and sales for PenAir.

Flights operated by PenAir between Portland and Crescent City will continue as scheduled, according to the airline.

“The steps we are taking with closing Portland will allow PenAir to cut costs, while management continues its focus on financial stability and safe operations,” said Danny Seybert, chief executive officer and chairman of PenAir, in a news release.

EAS (Essential Air Service) routes are subsidized by the federal government. Klamath Falls is not subsidized.

Klamath Falls Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers and employees working for PenAir will be affected by the air service loss, Barsalou said.

“We were moving forward and to get that news, it was just … very disheartening,” Barsalou said.

“I'll be working with the city manager and others in the community … to see what other options we have. We'll continue to work hard at finding options. The realities are that the pilot shortage is hitting the country, not just us.”

“We loved being there,” Roberts said of Klamath Falls. “We loved the people and we loved the environment, and we just as a group of employees, we felt that there was a lot of potential.”

The commercial air service provider, based out of Alaska, has offered flights from Klamath Falls to Portland International Airport since October 2016.

Barsalou encourages those with tickets to contact PenAir, as there may be refunds available for flights already booked.

“Obviously it's a business decision on their part,” Barsalou said. “We've done everything we could do to ensure their success. I've done everything I know how to ensure their success.”

Barsalou said he plans to hold a staff meeting on Monday to discuss a way forward.

“I just want to encourage those losing their jobs or may have jobs relocated that we are praying for them and hope that things work out for them,” he said.

“I encourage them to reach out to the community to see if they can help.”

Klamath County Economic Development Association Executive Director Greg O'Sullivan commented on the announcement.

“Very disappointing and in the short term is likely setback to business development in the Basin,” O'Sullivan said in an email. “However, the national and local jobs report reflects an economy that is growing. We will persevere!”

Passengers scheduled to fly PenAir after Sunday should call 800-448-4226.

PenAir was founded in 1955 by Orin Seybert and operates Saab 340 aircraft with current flights to eight destinations in the United States. PenAir currently employs 700 employees nationally with 25 destinations.

PenAir has announced plans to discontinue its flights between North Platte and Denver.

Alaska-based PenAir has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization and plans to close scheduled service at its Denver and Portland, Oregon, hubs over the next 90 days.

Last week, the airline announced the termination of regional routes in the Portland area as part of a cost-cutting plan. On Monday, PenAir announced that it has requested the closure of its Denver hub, pending approval from the Department of Transportation.

If the request is approved, customers who have purchased tickets to fly into Denver will be eligible for full refunds from PenAir, said Melissa Roberts, PenAir’s vice president of marketing and sales.

Mayor Dwight Livingston said he was “very saddened” by the news of the filing. He said PenAir “is a good company who tried to provide a valuable service to our citizens.”

“We were caught off guard,” said Mike Sharkey, manager of the North Platte Regional Airport.

PenAir’s decision will affect EAS routes operating between Denver and North Platte, Kearney and Scottsbluff as well as Liberal and Dodge City, Kansas. Once approved by the Department of Transportation, the transition will take 30-90 days, according to the statement from PenAir. Sharkey said it may take longer.

He said the Department of Transportation will send out a request for proposals to other airlines to find a replacement for PenAir. Once an airline is selected, it will need to develop contracts, set up a Denver hub, figure out pricing and take other steps to prepare to take on customers in North Platte.

“I would say it’d be four to five months from today before we could expect a new airline,” Sharkey said.

Because of the terms of PenAir’s contract, it is required to continue providing service to the North Platte airport until a suitable replacement is found and can provide daily flights to Denver, Sharkey said.

He noted that a Chapter 11 filing is different from a Chapter 7 filing.

“It’s not a Chapter 7, where they just close their doors and go away,” Sharkey said. “As far as we know, we’re not going to lose our service to Denver.”

PenAir CEO and Chairman Denny Seybert said in a statement that the reorganization will “allow PenAir to emerge as a stronger airline, while continuing our focus on safe operations.”

PenAir’s first flight from North Platte to Denver took off last November, after the airline was selected to serve the area last April. Seven airlines’ bids to serve the area had been reviewed by a committee led by Livingston. The Department of Transportation then approved the committee’s choice.

PenAir also services Kearney and Scottsbluff. Scottsbluff officials have said there have been problems with the airline. Last month the Western Nebraska Regional Airport Authority requested permission from the Department of Transportation to seek new airline bids before its contact with PenAir was up. Chairman Don Overman told the Scottsbluff Star-Herald that the proposed contract termination stemmed from high cancellation and delay rates.

In July, Sharkey had defended the airline, stating that while there were some startup issues, it was improving. He said the airline’s problems stemmed from restrictions put in place by the federal government.

In separate statements about PenAir’s announcement, U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith and Sen. Deb Fischer expressed commitment to preserving Essential Air Service.

“Commercial air service is necessary to connect rural communities with the national transportation network, and today’s announcement from PenAir on discontinuing its service in Kearney, North Platte and Scottsbluff is causing understandable concern among Nebraskans,” Smith said. “I have long supported the Essential Air Service and fought against federal regulations threatening our small airports.

“Despite this discouraging news, I will keep working with the impacted airports to help ensure continued access to air service, which is a crucial tool for economic development in these communities.”

Fischer said: “Today’s news regarding PenAir is concerning for Nebraskans, especially those in our state’s rural areas and the Panhandle. Reliable air service connects our families, businesses and communities to the rest of our country and the world. As Congress considers the FAA reauthorization this year, I will continue to shore up support for the Essential Air Service program. I will also work to reduce burdensome regulations that harm Nebraska’s small and community airports by reducing the number of available pilots and increasing service costs.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Compton/Woodley Airport (KCPM) plane crash lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, California: Aviat A-1 Husky, N6090U, registered to Wyoming Services LLC and operated by Aviad Corporation, fatal accident occurred August 09, 2015

Richard Gene Gochie

Lawsuit Alleges Negligence Caused Death in Compton Plane Crash

The Los Angeles law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman has filed an aviation wrongful death lawsuit against American Airports Corporation Inc. (AAC) on behalf of a woman whose husband was killed by the fire that ignited after his plane crashed at Compton Airport in Compton, California.

Aviation attorney Timothy A. Loranger filed the lawsuit (case no. BC670969) in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of Michelle Gochie, who alleges that her late husband Richard Gochie’s wrongful death was caused by AAC’s negligence in failing to provide adequate Crash, Fire and Rescue (CFR) services that may have saved Richard Gochie’s life.

Pilot Still Alive after Banner Towing Plane Crashed

On the afternoon of August 9, 2015, Richard Gochie was piloting an Aviat A1 (“Husky”) aircraft while attempting to pick up an advertising banner. At approximately 12:35 p.m. after Mr. Gochie successfully snared the banner, but was unable to continue to climb out after releasing the banner. Witnesses say that the plane turned nose down before impacting with the ground.

Mr. Gochie survived the plane crash, suffering non-life-threatening physical injuries, but remained trapped in the cockpit as a fire ignited. A number of witnesses ran toward the crash site to offer assistance as the fire began to grow in intensity. Unable to escape and calling out for help, Mr. Gochie died from the post-crash fire that eventually engulfed the aircraft.

At the time of the 2015 crash, AAC was under contract with Los Angeles County to operate, manage and maintain Compton Airport, which includes the obligation to have rescue and firefighting equipment and trained personnel available to give CFR services as needed by persons flying into or out of Compton Airport.

The lawsuit alleges that AAC was negligent in the management, operation and maintenance of the Compton Airport when, among other things, they failed to have working and operational CFR vehicles and trained personnel on site to operate those vehicles and to provide CFR services to Mr. Gochie at the time of the crash. According to the complaint, AAC’s failure to maintain and repair CFR vehicles and equipment rendered them unusable.

As a result of this negligence, AAC failed to prevent or extinguish the resultant fire, take appropriate and necessary action to extricate Mr. Gochie from the wreckage, protect him from the resultant fire, and to render first aid to Mr. Gochie, who suffered survivable physical injuries from the crash.

Compton Plane Crash Lawsuit Claims American Airports Corporation Failed to Provide Rescue Services

According to the lawsuit, AAC had reason to know or knew their employees and/or agents would not be able to render necessary, appropriate, and required assistance, and that their CFR vehicles and equipment were not in working order, rendering them ineffective in the event of an emergency. Likewise, AAC knew or should have known that its personnel were incompetent and/or unfit and likely to cause harm to others in the performance of the work entrusted to them, per the complaint.

AAC’s negligence created a dangerous condition at Compton Airport, which was open and available to the public, according to the complaint. The dangerous condition was created wholly or in substantial part by AAC’s negligent, wrongful acts, by their failure to properly train, instruct, supervise, and manage their employees to provide aid and assistance in the event of a crash such as that described herein and their failure to maintain, repair and have CFR vehicles and equipment available and in working and serviceable condition for use at the time of the crash.

“Witnesses describe that AAC’s employee literally stood by and watched as Richard Gochie called for help, failing to give any assistance as required in this type of life threatening emergency.  The decision by AAC’s employee not to help Mr. Gochie, coupled with the later discovery that the available lifesaving equipment may not have been operational, is mindboggling,” said Timothy A. Loranger, attorney for Michelle Gochie. “As a result of AAC’s willful, wanton, and malicious disregard for human life, Mrs. Gochie lost her loving husband and lifelong companion.”

About the Aviation Attorneys at Baum Hedlund

The law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman represents Michelle Gochie in her lawsuit against AAC over the wrongful death of her husband. Recognized for its success in litigating personal injury and wrongful death aviation cases, Baum Hedlund has successfully handled hundreds of airline, helicopter and airplane crashes across the nation.

Baum Hedlund previously handled a Compton plane crash in 2008 and 2009, when they represented three people who were injured when a Cessna lost power and crashed into their home.

Original article ➤

The widow of a pilot killed when a small, banner- towing plane crashed during takeoff from the Compton airport in 2015 is suing the airport’s managers, alleging the emergency personnel present that day were insufficiently trained to prevent her husband from burning to death.

Richard Gene Gochie, 48, of Redmond, Oregon, died on Aug. 9, 2015, from multiple traumatic injuries, according to a copy of his death certificate attached to the lawsuit that Michelle Denise Gochie’s filed Friday against American Airports Corp. Inc. in Los Angeles Superior Court.

An American Airports representative could not be immediately reached for comment on the suit, which alleges wrongful death, negligence and premises liability and seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

The crash occurred as the single-engine Aviat Husky A-1 was picking up a banner at Compton/Woodley Airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

According to the lawsuit, Gochie survived the crash, but died from the fire that engulfed the aircraft. The airport’s emergency vehicles were not fully operational and the emergency employees present did not provide immediate aid, the suit alleges.

“As a result of defendants’ willful, wanton and malicious disregard for human life, Richard Gochie was killed,” the suit states.

A preliminary investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board stated that witnesses saw Gochie pick up a tow banner successfully on his sixth attempt. Gochie then reported by radio that he was unable to climb and the banner fell to the ground, the NTSB report said.

The airplane spun to the left and headed downward and caught on fire, according to the report.

Original article can be found here ➤

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lawndale, California
Lycoming Engines; Mesa, Arizona 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Registered Owner: Wyoming Services LLC
Operator: Aviad Corporation

NTSB Identification: WPR15FA238
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, August 09, 2015 in Compton, CA
Aircraft: AVIAT INC A 1, registration: N6090U
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.


On August 9, 2015, at 1233 Pacific daylight time, an Aviat Husky A-1, N6090U, impacted the ground following a loss of control during a banner tow pickup at Compton/Woodley Airport, Compton, California. The commercial pilot sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and postcrash fire. Aviad Corporation was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the local banner tow flight.

Witnesses, who were ground personnel for the tow operation, reported that the pilot had unsuccessfully attempted to pick up a tow banner five times. He was successful on the sixth attempt, and the banner deployed normally, and the airplane's engine sounded normal. However, the pilot radioed to ground personnel that he was unable to climb. Witnesses reported that the banner released from the airplane's tail hook and fell to the ground. The airplane was wallowing left and right until it spun to the left and descended, subsequently impacted the ground, and burst into flames.


The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. He held a first-class medical certificate with no limitations or waivers that was issued on July 27, 2015. The pilot reported on the application for this medical certificate that he had a total time of 2,501 hours with 367 hours logged in the last 6 months. No personal flight records were located for the pilot. The pilot submitted an insurance form to the operator dated January 21, 2014, which reported a total of 384 hours in the accident airplane make and model.

Training records for the pilot were obtained from the operator, and the training instructor was interviewed. The records indicated that the pilot began banner tow training on May 8, 2013, and he completed the training on May 26, 2013. The training included 10 hours of ground school and 8.1 hours of flight training. According to the instructor who provided the training and served as the chief pilot for the operator, after the pilot completed this initial training, he was placed on the operator's waiver to conduct banner tows. The instructor reported that soon thereafter, "safety issues started developing" with the pilot. The issues included picking up the banner with the tailwheel, low approaches, nonstandard patterns, dragging banners along the ground, adding power late, pitching up too high, multiple low misses, flying under instrument flight rules in an airplane equipped only for flight under visual flight rules during multiple ferry flights, and making unapproved repairs to banner equipment. All of these issues arose during 2014; the instructor reported them to the owner, and the pilot was retrained. The instructor left the operator in December 2014.


The airplane was an Aviat Inc., Model A-1, serial number 1300. A review of the airplane's logbooks revealed that the airplane had a total airframe time of 1,818.4 hours at the last annual inspection on April 17, 2015. The last maintenance entry in the logbook was dated July 18, 2015, at a total time of 1,878.8 hours.

The engine was a Lycoming O-360-A1P, serial number L-34663.36A. Total time recorded on the engine at the last 100-hour inspection on April 17, 2015, was 1,818.4 hours, which was also the time at major overhaul.


Compton/Woodley Airport is owned by the County of Los Angeles and is operated under contract by American Airports Corporation (AAC). AAC is responsible for the management and operation of the uncontrolled general aviation airport.

At the time of the accident, AAC's under the contract with the County of Los Angeles was required AAC to have three airport facility employees on the airport. At the time of the accident, there was only one employee on site. No other employees were available to respond to the accident site with any of the available airport equipment.


The airplane wreckage was located in the grass to the south of runway 25L and adjacent to taxiway Foxtrot. The banner system was located about midfield in the grassy area between runways 25L and 25R. Examination revealed no damage to either the banner or the tow hook rope.

The airplane came to rest in a nose-down configuration. The underside of the airplane was facing west. The tail section was bent forward towards the east. The fabric of the airplane was thermally consumed by the postimpact fire.

The on-scene examination of the airplane confirmed flight control continuity throughout the airplane. All flight control surfaces were located and attached at their respective locations. The tow hook on the airplane was examined; no abnormalities were noted. The hook was in the released position. There was no damage noted to the rudder horn or tail section.


The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner completed an autopsy on the pilot. The examination determined that the manner of death was multiple traumatic injuries.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing of specimens from the pilot, which were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and tested drugs.


Investigators examined the wreckage at Air Transport, Phoenix, Arizona, on August 26, 2015. The engine remained attached to the airframe and was removed before the examination. The engine was thermally damaged, which was a result of the postimpact fire.

All engine components were in their expected locations. The magnetos were attached; however, they were thermally damaged. The carburetor was detached due to the impact forces but was complete. Engine continuity was established from front to back. Cylinder compression was established on all cylinders. Oil was found in the crankcase, and the oil screen was clear of metallic debris. Oil was found in the propeller governor. The spark plugs were clean and intact. The examination identified no mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

NTSB Identification: WPR15FA238
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, August 09, 2015 in Compton, CA
Aircraft: AVIAT INC A 1, registration: N6090U
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

On August 9, 2015, at 1235 Pacific daylight time (PDT), an Aviat Husky A-1, N6090U, impacted the ground during a banner tow pick up at Compton/Woodley Airport, Compton, California. Aviad Corporation was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The commercial pilot sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and the postcrash fire. The local banner tow flight departed Compton at 1235 PDT. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

Witnesses to the accident reported that the pilot had attempted unsuccessfully to pick up a tow banner 5 times; the pilot was successful on his 6th attempt. The banner deployed normally and the airplane engine sounded normal. The pilot radioed that he was unable to climb. The banner released and fell to the ground. The airplane was observed wallowing left and right until the airplane spun to the left as it descended and subsequently impacted the ground. The airplane burst into flames and was consumed by the postimpact fire.

The airplane came to rest in a nose down configuration. The underside of the airplane was facing west. The tail section was bent forward towards the east. The fabric of the airplane was thermally consumed by the postimpact fire.

The on scene examination of the airplane by investigators confirmed flight control continuity throughout the airplane. All flight control surfaces were located and attached at their respective locations. The engine was thermally damaged and will be recovered and examined at a later date. The tow hook on the airplane was photographed and examined, no abnormalities were noted. The hook was in the released position. There was no damage noted to the rudder horn or tail section.

The banner system and the banner tow hook were found between runway 25L & 25R. Examination revealed no damage to either the banner or the tow hook rope.

The wreckage was recovered for further examination.