Saturday, August 19, 2017

Piper PA-46-350P Malibu Mirage, N14BC, Midwest Malibu Center: Incident occurred August 19, 2017 at Hutchinson Regional Airport (KHUT), Reno County, Kansas

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Wichita, Kansas

Midwest Malibu Center Inc:

Aircraft landed gear up.

Date: 19-AUG-17
Time: 23:10:00Z
Regis#: N14BC
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA46
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)

Hutchinson, Kan. (KWCH) - Three people are okay after taking a bump landing at Hutchinson Regional Airport Saturday.

This happened just after 6:00 p.m. Saturday. Hutchinson Police and EMS responded. A spokesperson for the airport said it appeared the landing gear did not deploy, potentially causing the small plane to skid before coming to a stop.

Three people on board, including the pilot, were not hurt. A wrecker from Galva is on the way to remove the plane from the runway. Until then, the runway is shut down, forcing other flights to re-route, including one carrying Kansas Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer.

An airport spokesperson said the airport never declared an emergency landing. The flight's intended destination was Hutchinson Regional Airport. 

Original article can be found here ➤

Casper-Natrona County International Airport (KCPR) braces for 200 private planes for eclipse

On a typical day, only a handful of private planes land at the Casper-Natrona County International Airport. Only slightly more commercial planes touch down on the runways surrounded by sagebrush and pronghorn.

But between Sunday evening and Monday morning, almost 200 private aircraft with just over 1,000 passengers are set to touch down outside the Oil City.

“That translates into one aircraft landing every two minutes,” said airport manager Glenn Januska.

As of Friday, 167 of those planes were scheduled to land between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. Monday, less than one hour before the total solar eclipse will pass over Casper.

The Casper airport poses a number of advantages for well-heeled eclipse chasers wondering where to park their private jets. First, it sits in the path of totality, meaning that visitors can land and stay at the airport to view the eclipse. Second, it is one of the only airports its size — and the only one in Wyoming — with a customs officer, allowing international travelers to fly directly into Casper. Third, its past as a World War II military airfield has led to more and larger runways than most small airports.

That last element is important because it requires a lot of room to park the dozens and dozens of private aircraft looking to land for the eclipse.

Once the planes land, the Casper branch of Atlantic Aviation, a national airport logistics company, will oversee parking and accommodations for the visitors. For those planning to stay at the airport, a hospitality tent will be set up just outside the perimeter of the airfield. Food will be provided by local Arrowhead Catering, known for its beef brisket and barbecue.

Atlantic has noted on its website that both Casper and the Sun Valley, Idaho, airport are experiencing increased traffic related to the eclipse. The company is used to a crush of aircraft arriving for special events, like boxing fights at the Las Vegas airport, but this is unusual for Casper.

“Casper doesn’t get to host events,” said Atlantic’s Casper general manager Jennifer Sorenson. “It’s a really neat opportunity for our community, and it’s exciting for me.”

The last time a notable number of planes landed at the airport was during the 2012 Sheep Herder Hill Fire on Casper Mountain. Many of those were carrying emergency personnel.

Sorenson said Atlantic started preparing for the eclipse about 18 months ago. Reservation requests picked up in August — of last year. They’ve only increased within the last few months.

Most people who have contacted Sorenson about landing in Casper for the eclipse had already made up their minds that central Wyoming was where they wanted to be for the celestial event.

“They were headstrong on coming to Casper,” Sorenson said.

Atlantic can’t disclose much more information about their customers, like where they are arriving from, though Sorenson said that aircraft would be coming from around the world and both coasts.

Casper Customs and Border Protection officer Dale Leatham confirmed in March that people from 19 different countries had inquired about landing in Natrona County for the eclipse.

Januska and Sorenson said that the airport is ready for the influx of arrivals. While the number of planes coming in will be much higher than normal — air traffic control will begin communicating with the planes in Denver, well before they arrive in Casper — but that won’t require any drastic changes.

“Our duties for the airport have not changed too much,” Januska said.

Sorenson said that Atlantic had sent in more staff to handle the eclipse, doubling the standard crew to about 30 workers. The team will show up very early on Monday morning, she said, prior to when planes start arriving at 5 a.m.

“We’ll just start parking them as they come off the runway and we’ll have a very fluid and safe operation,” Sorenson said.

Air traffic will be halted for a period just before and after the eclipse to avoid any distractions or safety hazards during the event.

Januska said that he’s already fielded calls from members of the public asking whether they can view the eclipse from the airport themselves or simply come out to view all the planes landing.

“As people have heard about the number of airplanes I’ve also had people ask, ‘Can I just come out to watch the eclipse and the airplanes?’” he said. “And it’s like, of course!”

Original article can be found here ➤

Allegiant Air flight left on tarmac for three hours, passenger says

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A birthday gift turned into a nightmare on the tarmac for a New Mexico woman.

Celena Kwitkowski calls her experience with Allegiant Airlines Thursday night "false imprisonment." She said they sat on the tarmac at the Albuquerque International Sunport for more than three hours in the heat with no water or access to the bathroom.

They were supposed to depart Albuquerque for Las Vegas, Nevada around 5 pm. Instead, Kwitkowski says they sat in a hot airplane until after 10 p.m.
Allegiant Air flight left on tarmac for three hours, passenger says

"They need to apologize for us, they need to take responsibility and ownership," Kwitkowski said. "As far as I'm concerned, this was false imprisonment."

Allegiant Air gave this explanation of Thursday's events through email Friday:

Unfortunately, it was a combination of factors that impacted this flight and made it a highly unusual situation.

Initially, there was a minor mechanical issue which caused a delay after passengers had boarded.  It took longer than expected to address, so delayed the flight a little over an hour.

After the aircraft pushed back, it returned to the gate due to an altercation between passengers. Local law enforcement was called to escort the individuals involved off of the aircraft, and those passengers' bags were also removed.  There were a few other passengers who were not involved, but also requested to deplane at that time.  All told, this activity delayed departure about another hour.  I do not have details about the passenger altercation, that would require follow up with law enforcement agency at the airport.

To your question about air conditioning, the aircraft would have been powered the entire time with air conditioning running, but the strength of the air is going to be quite a bit lower at the gate or taxiing than it is once the aircraft gets up to full power in flight.  Similar to a car sitting still and idling with A/C running vs going full speed on the highway.  Of course, given the temps in Albuquerque, the aircraft would be warm and we regret any discomfort during this unusual situation.

Our logs and reports do show that the crew supplied water (what's called a "poor service" where cups of water are distributed) during the initial delay.  Also, at the time the flight returned to the gate, the crew requested Allegiant station staff to bring bottles of water to the plane, which were distributed to passengers.

Again, this was an unusual situation which we regret delayed our customers and impacted their comfort, but thank them for their patience and understanding.  Please also be aware that because of the inconvenience caused by these delays, passengers have been issued vouchers towards future travel on Allegiant.

Story and video ➤

Breckenridge, Colorado, eyes new law to regulate drones

Breckenridge Town Council is poised to act where the Colorado Legislature has not, as council prepares to take up a proposed ordinance on Tuesday's meeting agenda to regulate unmanned aerial drones.

Passage of an ordinance clearly spelling out what drone operators, commercial or recreational, may and may not do in Breckenridge would come as welcome news for people like Mike Gamache, who runs the website

On the website, Gamache shares various videos, photographs and articles about local activities and businesses. It also serves to promote his freelance video-production business and as a forum where people may share their own experiences, videos and pictures.

Posted online are a number of Gamache's videos, some of which feature footage taken high above the ground that was clearly shot with a drone.

Reached over the phone, the videographer said he has worked with drones as recently as spring 2015, when he was sidelined by an injury and could do little else, but he gave up on drones after deciding the risk wasn't worth the reward.

"If I could understand clearly what the rules are, I might be doing it every day," he said. "But it's just not a liability worth taking on at the moment."

The Federal Aviation Administration has taken the lead in trying to get a handle on the booming drone business, issuing regulations for operators flying the machines both as a hobby and to make a buck.

Other cities and states have also passed laws regulating drones, but as highlighted at the Breckenridge Town Council's latest work session on Aug. 8, all state and municipal drone laws must run parallel with current FAA's guidelines, and Colorado has not yet taken up the issue.

The FAA rules on drones include operators maintaining a clear line of sight with the unmanned aircraft. The FAA also imposes restrictions on where people may fly, how much the drones can weigh and on their uses.

Federal law imposes stricter rules on commercial drones than it does recreational or educational flights, but the problem really isn't one of regulation as much as it is about enforcement.

That's because, according to town officials, with a small staff, the FAA has little ability to enforce laws it has on the books, save the most egregious infractions. As a result, Breckenridge town staff came to council on Aug. 8 pushing for passage of a local ordinance.

The issue came up shortly after drone flights were reportedly interfering with efforts to fight the Peak 2 fire, and on Aug. 8 town staff told council a local ordinance would allow Breckenridge police to step in and fill the gap.

The proposed town ordinance borrows much of its language from federal law, and if passed, it would address reckless and careless operation, voyeurism and interference with law enforcement, firefighting or other emergency operations.

Piggybacking on the FAA, the proposed ordinance would specifically ban drones from flying more than 400 feet above the ground; weighing more than 55 pounds, including equipment, payload and fuel; and from flying over top an individual or crowd without that person's or people's consent.

Additionally, if the ordinance passes as written, it would ban people from flying drones in a handful of restricted areas, including the Cucumber Gulch Preserve, Carter Park Dog Park and the town's golf course and Nordic center when any golfers or skiers are present.

"If I understood what I could do, I would be using the technology to make some really cool videos to show the world," Gamache said as he expressed support for a local ordinance. "But, like I said, it's a liability that's not worth taking on right now."

Original article can be found here ➤

Smith Aerostar 601P, personal flight conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, N7108: Accident occurred August 19, 2017 at Donegal Springs Airpark (N71), Mount Joy, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; New Cumberland, Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Marietta, PA
Accident Number: ERA17LA288
Date & Time: 08/19/2017, 1642 EDT
Registration: N7108
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control on ground
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On August 19, 2017, about 1642 eastern daylight time, a Smith Aerostar 601P, N7108, was substantially damaged during takeoff from the Donegal Springs Airpark (N71), Marietta, Pennsylvania. The commercial pilot was not injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight.

According to the pilot he was hired by the owner of the airplane to reposition it from N71 to New Orleans, Louisiana. After completing a preflight inspection and engine run-up, he taxied the airplane to the active runway for takeoff. During the takeoff roll, the airplane swerved to the right and the pilot corrected to the left and aborted the takeoff; however, the airplane departed the left side of the runway and collided with an embankment.

According to a mechanic, who was hired by the airplane owner to conduct a pre-purchase inspection of the airplane; the pilot was planning to deliver the airplane and had not previously flown the make and model of the accident airplane. He reviewed the operation of the airplane's systems with the pilot, including a specific discussion of the steering and braking systems, and then left the airport. The mechanic later received a call from the pilot who informed him about the accident and during a subsequent conversation the pilot stated that the airplane "got away from him."

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the right wing was buckled, and the right main landing gear separated from the trunnion mount. Examination of the flight control system and the nose wheel steering system did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. During an interview with the FAA inspector, the pilot stated that he had never previously flown the accident airplane make and model, or any multiengine airplanes with engines capable of producing more than 300 horsepower each.

The weather conditions reported at the Harrisburg International Airport (MDT), Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which was located about 10 miles north of the accident site, included wind from 230° at 5 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, ceiling few at 6,000 ft, temperature 31° C, dew point 19° C, and an altimeter setting of 29.85 inches of mercury. At the time of the accident the airplane was departing with a quartering tail wind. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 28, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Unknown
Last FAA Medical Exam: 09/23/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 400 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1 hours (Total, this make and model)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: SMITH
Registration: N7108
Model/Series: AEROSTAR601 P
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1967
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 61P-0405-142
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 04/13/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 6000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 2 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3957 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C91A installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO540S1A5
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 290 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: MDT, 309 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2056 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 305°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 6000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 230°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 29.85 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 19°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Marietta, PA (N71)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Marietta, PA (N71)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1642 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 458 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 10
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3250 ft / 50 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None

Latitude, Longitude: 40.092222, -76.574444 (est)

NTSB Identification: ERA17LA288
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 19, 2017 in Marietta, PA
Aircraft: SMITH AEROSTAR601, registration: N7108
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 August 19, 2017, about 1642 eastern daylight time, a Smith Aerostar 601P, N7108, was substantially damaged during takeoff from the Donegal Springs Airpark (N71), Marietta, Pennsylvania. The commercial pilot was not injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight.

According to the pilot, after completing a preflight inspection and engine run-up, he taxied the airplane to the active runway for takeoff. On takeoff roll, the airplane swerved to the right, the pilot corrected to the left and aborted the takeoff; however, the airplane departed the left side of the runway and collided with an embankment.

According to an aircraft mechanic, who was hired by the airplane owner to conduct a pre-purchase inspection of the airplane, the pilot was planning to deliver the airplane and had not previously flown the make and model of the accident airplane. He reviewed the operation of the airplane's steering and braking systems with the pilot, and then left the airport. The mechanic later received a call from the pilot who informed him about the accident and indicated that the airplane "got away from him."

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the right wing was buckled, and the right main landing gear separated from the trunnion mount. A review of the maintenance records and examination of the airplane did not reveal any anomalies that would precluded normal operation.

Donegal Springs Airpark was shut down late Saturday afternoon after a small airplane went off the runway.

The pilot, who was the only person in the plane, was not injured in the incident which was reported at 4:42 p.m.

While responding crews soon deemed the incident a “non-emergency,” some fuel was reportedly leaking from the plane and the runway was shut down.

The plane came to rest just off the edge of the runway, next to a cornfield. The plane’s tail knocked down a small section of corn. 

Original article can be found here ➤

Colorado Civil Air Patrol trains for state-wide emergencies

FREMONT COUNTY, Colo. -   If a massive flood ever threatened our state - who steps in to calculate how bad the damage is? It's an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force called the Colorado Wing Civil Air Patrol.

A group of the Colorado wing met Saturday to practice a number of drills used in preparation for statewide emergencies.

"There's lives on the line, so if there's ever a missing hiker in the area or in the state of Colorado and the Air Force calls on them to help, they need to be able to do that," said Lt. Col. Scott Snyder.

The drills consists of searching for missing hikers, finding a downed plane, or even capturing imagery from the sky to evaluate flooding.

"We spend a lot of time making sure our air crews, ground teams, and command staff are prepared to handle everything from a single airplane, up to seven aircrafts," said Maj. Robert Yusko, with the Civil Air Patrol.

The Colorado Wing Civil Air Patrol has more than 2,000 members across the state. To accommodate everyone, there are five separate drill days set up throughout the year to practice these scenarios. 

So far this year, the team has saved three missing hikers and two people found in a downed plane.

"Their job is extremely important and it means a lot to me, because they are all volunteers so they are giving up their time and efforts to be out here to keep our state safe," said Lt. Col. Synder.

The Civil Air Patrol performs 85 percent of inland search and rescues for the U.S. 

Original article can be found here ➤

Luxury Flights To The Eclipse: $10,000 A Seat, Plus A Lawn Chair

Million Air is whisking customers to remote airports where the moon will totally block the sun's rays for a time on August 21st. Passengers will watch from lawn chairs near the wings of the plane while an astronomer offers expert commentary and views of solar flares through a telescope. 

For the well-heeled looking for a last-minute plan to see next week's solar eclipse, a U.S. private-jet operator is offering an option for $10,000 a seat.

Million Air is whisking customers to remote airports where the moon will totally block the sun's rays for a time on August 21st. Passengers will watch from lawn chairs near the wings of the plane while an astronomer offers expert commentary and views of solar flares through a telescope.

"Our idea is that, instead of tailgating at a ballgame, we're going to wing-gate under the path of total eclipse," said Roger Woolsey, chief executive officer of the Houston-based company. "We'll load the jet up like a pickup truck, with the picnic baskets and the Dom Perignon and the snacks."

The flights reflect the solar show's bonanza for private-plane operators, which is on a par with major holidays and sporting events. The Federal Aviation Administration is putting up temporary air-traffic control centers in Oregon, where the total eclipse will begin over the U.S. as it sweeps toward South Carolina along a 70-mile band. Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a hot location for the luxury-jet set that's in the path, is out of aircraft parking spots.

'Super Bowl'

"The magnitude has a Super Bowl feel," said Brad Stewart, CEO of XOJet, which owns a fleet of 41 aircraft. "The idea of the eclipse has captured the imagination."

The coast-to-coast total solar eclipse, a phenomenon that last occurred 99 years ago, is giving an extra boost to a private-jet charter industry that already enjoyed a 6.7 percent increase in charter activity in July from a year earlier. XOJet, based in Brisbane, California, will handle about 60 flights to eclipse areas, Stewart said.

At Jet Linx, bookings to see the eclipse began a couple of months ago after a customer broached the idea, Chief Executive Officer Jamie Walker, said. Now the Omaha, Nebraska-based company has 16 flights planned. The average cost to rent out a light jet is about $4,000 an hour and $8,000 for a heavy jet such as a Gulfstream 450, Walker said.

NetJets, the private-jet company owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has about 500 bookings to and from the eclipse zones. That puts demand on par with the busiest holiday times around Thanksgiving and Christmas, Kristyn Wilson, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an email.

"We do, on occasion, experience peaks related to popular events. But demand of this nature, especially on a Monday in August, is truly out of this world," she quipped.

'Cosmic Cocktails'

Commercial carriers are also getting into the mix. Alaska Air Group Inc. is operating a charter flight that takes off from Portland, Oregon, for select astronomy enthusiasts and eclipse chasers. Southwest Airlines Co. is providing special viewing glasses and offering "cosmic cocktails" on flights most likely to experience the eclipse's maximum effects.

Pilots flying during the event will have to keep an eye out for about 100 high-altitude balloons that students in coordination with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will launch to capture live footage of the eclipse, the FAA said.

People outside the path of totality will still be able to see dramatic partial eclipses with no help from private-jet operators charging thousands of dollars. But the fever to pack up the family and fly off to a place in the path of complete darkness has been increasing as the natural phenomenon nears, said Ron Silverman, U.S. president for VistaJet in New York.

"The biggest challenge right now is finding an airport that we can get into," Silverman said.

Original article can be found here ➤

Alaska Airlines pilots plan picket over lack of compensation

Alaska Airlines pilots have reached a breaking point in negotiations with the company, and now have plans to picket outside Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

The pilots plan to picket starting at 1 p.m. Monday outside the airport in Anchorage.

Their union, the largest in North America, said the pilots are not being compensated as well as their peers at other successful airline companies.

Alaska Airlines said its pilots will be getting a significant wage increase, but the company is trying to stay competitive and offer the lowest fares possible.

But the union isn’t buying that argument.

Airline Pilots Association represents more than 2,500 Alaska and Virgin America pilots.

“Alaska management has continued to insist the pilots should accept a contract that is below the market rate,” said Jenn Sutton, spokesperson for the Alaska Master Executive Council of the union.

The negotiations have been ongoing since Alaska and Virgin American began merging last year.

Sutton said the Alaska and Virgin pilots want better pay, better retirement and better job security.

“They see what the other pilot contracts are, and they work for a successful, highly respected airline, and it’s really pretty baffling to our pilots why they should not have a contract that reflects the market,” Sutton said.

Sutton said airport security regulations will limit the protest to a couple dozen at a time and pilots will be rotating in, some coming straight off their shifts from the plane to picketing.

Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Marilyn Romano said the airline is hoping to reach a conclusion to the negotiations through arbitration, but she refused to answer any questions not addressed in a two-sentence statement from Alaska Airlines.

“The picketing on Monday will not interfere with our operations and we don’t anticipate any related interruptions to passenger service on Monday,” Romano said.

Original article can be found here ➤

Technology gives legally blind Peoria boy a chance to fly

PEORIA — National Aviation Day isn’t a widely celebrated occasion, but it will be unforgettable nonetheless for Ryan Rusk.

The 12-year-old sixth grader at Lindbergh Middle School took to the skies Saturday with the help of an emerging technology that promises to have a vast impact on almost all aspects of his life.

Rusk is legally blind, but a pair of eSight glasses has restored a significant amount of his vision — enough to take the controls of an airplane as it soared over the Illinois River.

“I could zoom in on the river and the buildings,” Rusk said after the flight, made possible as part of a Young Eagles flying program. “It was still a little hard because of the brightness of the sun.”

Rusk first heard about eSight technology through social media. He immediately investigated whether the device — a combination of high-resolution video and processing equipment — could help him.

The device displays imagery in front of the glasses on screens immediately in the wearer’s sight with a video algorithm calibrated for individual conditions.

Blind in one eye and with severely reduced vision in the other, Rusk found out the technology could apply to him and set about raising the money to get one.

“I was raising money for I don’t even know how long,” Rusk said.

His own pair arrived about a year ago. With the headset and control unit in a satchel he carries, everyday details suddenly came into focus — with the ability to zoom in on objects he couldn’t even previously see.

“With the glasses, I can read newspaper-type print,” Rusk said. “Normally, I read Braille.”

Now, Rusk uses his eSight glasses all the time, but because of depth-perception issues related to his optical condition, he can’t wear them while walking.

“They’re more for zooming in and being able to see things,” Rusk said. “They feel pretty natural — it took a little getting used to, but they feel like a normal pair of glasses now.”

And the device has opened up new possibilities — including a little bit of time as a pilot.

Read more here ➤

Twelve-year-old Ryan Rusk is living out a lifelong dream of flying a plane.

"I just like going up and seeing stuff"

It's a dream difficult enough for most twelve year olds, but even more difficult for Ryan.

"Ryan was born with optic nerve hypoplasia," his grandmother, Annette Fisher, explains. "We actually started discovering it at three months. He was not following voices or people in the room and his eyes were jumping."

Ryan is Blind, but he's getting help from a new technology -- called E-sight. The device enhances Ryan's partial vision.

"It's a camera that is in real time," Annette says. "That brings it in and sets it so that its right where he needs to see it with where his vision is."

Ryan's Grandmother knew about his passion for flying and discovered the young eagles. A group that gives kids a chance to actually get in the cockpit. Now, thanks to Young Eagles and E-Sight, Ryan can see out the window of a plane.

"I just went up, and I could see more than I could see before," says Ryan. "I had never been in a plane before"

"He was able to look out and see where the river was, because they fly towards Chillicothe," his grandmother says. "Got to see where the river was and he could tell the difference in things even from up in the air with the E-sight glasses on. He's never held back. He's always done what he wanted to do, but this really opens it up more in what he can see now."

With the progress in technology, there's still hope that Ryan can have a future in aviation.

"Everything's changing. They've got cars that are going to be driving themselves real soon. I don't know that he'd ever be able to do it on his own, but there's a chance that he would be able to be a co-pilot. We'll just have to wait and see." 

Original article ➤

Wheeler Express, N246TM: Fatal accident occurred August 19, 2017 near Madras Municipal Airport (S33), Jefferson County, Oregon

Mark Rich with the plane he built from a kit and flew for decades.

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

Additional Participating Entities: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office;  Hillsboro, Oregon
Teledyne Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Mark James Rich:

NTSB Identification: WPR17FA185

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 19, 2017 in Madras, OR
Aircraft: Rich Wheeler Express CT, registration: N246TM
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 19, 2017, about 1355 Pacific daylight time, a Rich Wheeler Express CT, N246TM, impacted the wall of a canyon while on approach to land at the Madras Municipal Airport, Madras, Oregon. The pilot/owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot, the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was destroyed. The cross-country personal flight originated from San Carlos, California at an unknown time with a final destination of Madras. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot submitted a reservation request and payment to the Madras airport operations on July 22, 2017 indicating that he intended to arrive on August 19, at 1400 and depart on August 21. The pilot was planning to camp at the airport and participate in the Oregon Solarfest, where activities were being held for the viewing of the solar eclipse.

A Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) was in effect at the time of the accident, which gave instructions to pilots as to the procedures they must follow to land at the Madras airport. A Non-Federal Contract Tower (NFCT) provided air traffic control services at the airport to help facilitate the increased traffic.

The NOTAM instructed pilots that all arrivals into Madras must be conducted at the time of their assigned reservation and via the routes depicted in the NOTAM unless otherwise instructed by the controllers. When arriving from the south, the NOTAM stated that the pilot should perform the "Cove Entry," which consisted of reporting over the Cove Palisades State Park (COVE) and fly north to Lake Simtustus Resort (RESORT), then to continue inbound toward the airport (east) and enter a left downwind for runway 34 (south).

According to the controller working at the tower at the time of the accident, the pilot checked in at COVE and was instructed to report his position when he was over RESORT. Several minutes later, after other traffic departed, the controller modified the pilot's instructions and told him to proceed to a 3-mile final to runway 34. After a few minutes, the controller requested that the pilot report his position to which he responded that he was on a 3-mile left base to runway 34. The controller cleared him to land and observed a plume of smoke shortly thereafter.

Witnesses stated that they observed the airplane turn and dive in a nose-low near-vertical descent toward the ground.

The accident site was located on the north-facing slope of a canyon comprised of soft dirt and trees. The wreckage was about 1.1 nautical miles from the approach end of runway 34 on a bearing of 190 degrees. The first identified points of contact consisted of freshly severed tree limbs adjacent to the main wreckage. The debris field was primarily contained in the area of the main wreckage on a 60-70 degree slope at an elevation of about 2,350 feet msl. The area of contact was in a slight ravine in the ebb of the canyon wall. The main wreckage had been subjected to severe thermal damage and consisted of the outboard right wing, empennage, engine, and the mostly ashen remains of the fuselage. The cabin was completely consumed by fire. The wreckage was recovered for further examination.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report on its investigation into a plane crash that killed the pilot, Mark Rich of Menlo Park, and destroyed a home-built plane he was flying from San Carlos to Oregon for the solar eclipse in August.

The plane Mr. Rich was flying, a single-engine Wheeler Express, crashed into a canyon wall near the Madras Municipal Airport in Madras, Oregon, around 1:55 p.m. on Aug. 19.

He was flying in for the Oregon Solarfest and was planning to camp at the airport.

Mr. Rich followed instructions on approach and the air traffic controller cleared him to land. Shortly after that, the controller saw a column of smoke nearby, according to the report.

Witnesses told investigators that the plane had turned and gone in to a nose-dive before crashing into a slight ravine in the canyon wall, roughly 1.1 nautical miles from the runway, where the terrain was made up primarily of soft dirt and trees, the report found.

Freshly severed tree limbs were found near the crash site.

The cabin of the plane was completely burned by fire. The wreckage had severe thermal damage on the right wing, engine and the remains of the fuselage. Investigators recovered it for further examination.

NTSB officials stressed that this is a preliminary report, and any errors in it will be corrected in the final version, which has not yet been released.

Menlo Park resident Mark Rich, 58, the husband of former Menlo Park City School District board member Laura Rich, was killed in a small-plane crash on Saturday, Aug. 19, friends of the family have confirmed. 

Mr. Rich's single-engine, home-built Wheeler Express crashed under unknown circumstances near the Madras, Oregon, airport around 1:50 p.m., according to Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor.

Mr. Rich, a vice president of Connected Fleet for Airbus and a Silicon Valley veteran who had worked at Google, DARPA and Atheros, had been on his way to watch the Aug. 21 solar eclipse.​

Menlo Park City School District board member Terry Thygesen, who had served on the board with Laura Rich, said Mr. Rich had built the plane himself decades ago. "He was a very experienced pilot and he had flown that plane a lot over the years," she said.

"Mark Rich was a truly amazing person and the world has lost someone very special in this tragic accident," Ms. Thygesen said. "Mark possessed a singularly brilliant mind," she said.

Mark and Laura Rich met when she was an undergraduate at Stanford University and he was a graduate student. They married soon after her graduation, 33 years ago.

"He was a truly loving husband to his wife, Laura Linkletter Rich ... and he was a devoted father to their two children," Ms. Thygesen said. Son Tyler Rich lives in Austin, Texas, and daughter Michelle Rich lives in New York City. Both are graduates of Menlo Park schools and Menlo-Atherton High School.

Mr. Rich "was a truly amazing person," Ms. Thygesen said. "He was an engineers' engineer," she said. "Not only was he a super-smart technical person and a very creative and inventive technical person, but he was a Renaissance man and he knew a lot about a lot of things," she said.

"He was a very smart, very interesting guy. He was very quiet ... but once you got to know him you realize he was really smart about a lot of things and had a really great sense of humor."

A statement posted by Jefferson County officials in Oregon says the plane was fully engulfed in flames when first responders arrived on the scene, near the top of Willow Creek canyon about a mile from the Madras Airport. A small fire was started by the crash but quickly extinguished. The plane was completely destroyed, the statement says.

County officials had initially stated there were two people aboard the plane, but their investigation determined Mr. Rich was alone.

Family friends say Mr. Rich's daughter had initially planned to go on the trip, but had not been able to go.

The Oregon State Police, Jefferson County Fire Department, BNSF Railroad and EMS personnel, as well as local volunteers, assisted at the crash site.

An investigation into the cause of the crash by Federal Aviation Administration is ongoing.

In lieu of flowers, the family prefers that memorial donations be made to the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST).

Original article ➤

A pilot killed when his small plane crashed in an Oregon canyon ahead of Monday’s solar eclipse was identified as a Menlo Park man.

Mark James Rich, 58, died Saturday after his home-built Wheel Marker Express went down a mile from Madras Municipal Airport, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department officials confirmed Tuesday.

“The Rich family has asked me to convey their request for privacy at this time,” Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins said in a statement. “I appreciate the sensitivity of the media in particular to make every effort to show respect for the family’s needs and allow them to mourn in private.”

First responders found the plane engulfed in flames near the top of Willow Creek Canyon, about 120 miles southeast of Portland. 

Firefighters quickly doused a small blaze caused by the incident.

Thousands had flocked to the state over the weekend to watch the solar eclipse, although it was unclear whether Rich had traveled to Oregon to watch the celestial show.

Officials initially reported that two people had died in the crash, but they later determined that only Rich had been aboard the aircraft. 

Federal Aviation Administration records listed the single engine plane as amateur built. 

The aircraft held a valid certificate issued in 2002.

FAA and National Transportation Safety Board officials are investigating what led to the crash.

Original article ➤

Only one person was killed in a plane crash Saturday near the Madras Municipal Airport, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday morning. 

Investigators initially believed and told reporters that a pilot and a passenger were on board the small single-engine plane that flew into Oregon from the San Francisco Bay Area. But after further investigation overnight and making contact with owners of the plane, Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins said the department is now “certain” there was only one individual on board.

“A reservation tied to the plane for two persons to stay in the local area originally suggested that the pilot and a passenger were on board,” Adkins said, in a prepared statement. “After talking to a family member who had originally planned to make the trip, but changed plans, we can confirm there was just one person on the flight,” he added.

Investigators have not yet identified the pilot or released any information about the potential cause of the crash. Many private aircraft are flying into Oregon this weekend for Monday’s solar eclipse.

The crash occurred at 1:50 p.m. in Willow Creek Canyon, one mile south of the Madras airport.

The aircraft was destroyed and engulfed by fire, the sheriff’s office said Sunday.

Original article ➤

MADRAS — A pilot was killed when a small plane crashed into Willow Creek Canyon on Saturday about 1 mile south of the Madras Municipal Airport. The identity of the pilot has not been released.

The plane, a single-engine, homebuilt Wheeler Express, crashed at about 1:50 p.m. as it was arriving at the airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. A San Francisco news station reported the pilot, a man from Menlo Park, California, left San Carlos Airport at about 11 a.m. for Madras.

Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins said the plane was traveling north toward the airport attempting to make its final approach when it crashed.

“We verified with witnesses that the plane rolled over and took a nosedive into the canyon,” Adkins said.

The crash started a fire in the canyon that was later mopped up. Only pieces of the plane were left in the canyon Saturday afternoon, as emergency crews removed the body. Crews reached the plane from the south side of the canyon and found it engulfed in flames near the top of the canyon. A local farmer was trying to put out the fire when they arrived.

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office deputies, Oregon state troopers and Jefferson County Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene.

Michele Quinn, 48, a resident of NW Birch Lane, was in her house when she heard the plane fly overhead, a sound she’s familiar with because she lives near the airport.

What she heard next was just as unmistakable.

“As soon as I heard it, I knew exactly what had happened,” said Quinn, who works for the Madras Public Works Department.

She rushed out to her backyard, which faces the airport, and saw columns of black smoke rising from the canyon.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board, which will be on site Sunday, are investigating the crash.

The Madras airport was busy Saturday with hundreds of planes arriving for Monday’s total solar eclipse.

This is the fourth fatal plane crash in Madras since 2005, according to an NTSB database.

Almost a year ago, the pilot of a biplane crashed and died at the Airshow of The Cascades at the Madras airport. The pilot, Marcus Bruce Paine, 61, was flying a Boeing Stearman on Aug. 27 when he crashed. According to one spectator, the plane was doing a very low-altitude loop with the smoke trail, and about three-quarters of the way around the loop, Paine tried to pull up but the bottom of the plane still hit the ground.

The air show this year is scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

Original article ➤

The pilot of a small passenger plane that crashed near Madras on Saturday was the only fatality, investigators said Sunday.

Officials initially said that two people died in the crash near Willow Creek Canyon near the Madras Airport. The plane, engulfed in flames, was completely destroyed.

Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins said that a family member had initially planned to be on the plan but changed plans.

The plane crashed about 2 p.m. Saturday near the top of the canyon about 1 mile south of the Madras Airport runway. 

A fire is now burning in Willow Creek Canyon near the end of Bear Drive, Adkin said. That's about one mile south of the airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating. 

Here at the Madras Municipal Airport (S33) they are expecting a lot of planes to fly in today. The Federal Aviation Administration has set up a temporary tower.

MADRAS, Ore. — The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office says a small plane crashed near the Madras airport in the Willow Creek Canyon area, killing two people Saturday afternoon.

Officials confirm the pilot and passenger did not survive the crash, and that they were the only two aboard the plane. Willow Creek Canyon is a very steep and remote area.

Emergency responders reached the plane from the south side of the canyon and found it fully engulfed in flames.

Officials say a small fire resulting from the crash is no longer a threat to the area and is being mopped up.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, Jefferson County Fire, Jefferson County EMS, Oregon State Police and Madras Police responded to the scene.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to travel to Madras this weekend to view Monday's solar eclipse, and a large viewing area has been set up at the Madras airport near where the crash occurred.

Original article can be found here ➤

MADRAS, Ore. (KOIN) — An airplane with 2 people on board crashed near the Madras airport just before 2 p.m. Saturday.

The small airplane did not make it to the airport and crashed about a mile away, down in the Willow Creek Canyon Area. The impact sparked a small brush fire, which Jefferson County Fire crews extinguished quickly.

Both people who were on board died in the crash.

“I heard the plane coming in and I heard it sputtering some — which is not uncommon, we hear it quite often, so I didn’t really think much about it — and then a few seconds later I heard the impact,” Madras resident Michele Quinn told KOIN 6 News.

Visitors who were golfing nearby saw the plane take sharp turn before it crashed into the canyon.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the plane was a single-engine, homebuilt Wheeler Express that was on its way to the Madras airport when it crashed.

Investigators are working to determine why the plane crashed.

More than 200,000 people are expected in Madras for the solar eclipse on August 21. 

Original article can be found here ➤

The pilot of a small airplane and a passenger died in a crash near Madras Municipal Airport early Saturday afternoon, Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins said.

The plane crashed just before 2 p.m. in a steep and remote area about one mile south of the airport's runway, said Lisa Goodman, a spokeswoman for the Central Oregon Joint Information Center.

When first-responders arrived at the scene of the crash, near the top of Willow Creek Canyon, the plane was engulfed in flames, with a local farmer trying to put out the fire, Goodman said.

As of 3:30 p.m., officials were not releasing any information about the plane or the pilot. Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were on their way to the scene. No information was yet available about the cause of the crash.

Several people saw the crash, and investigators are interviewing them.

Original article can be found here ➤

A plane has crashed roughly one mile south of the Madras airport, killing both individuals on board and igniting a brush fire, according to officials.

The plane crashed in Willow Creek Canyon near Bear Drive on Saturday just before 2 p.m., according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. 

A local farmer was on scene and fighting a small fire when emergency responders arrived at the scene, according to Julianne Repman, a spokesperson for the Central Oregon Joint Information Center.

The fire has been extinguished and officials said it is no longer a threat to the area.  

Officials confirmed the pilot and one passenger died in the crash. 

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified of the crash. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is maintaining control of the scene at this time.

Repman could not confirm what type of plane crashed, but said it was one of hundreds of planes that flew into the region for the total solar eclipse.

Some 400 planes were planning to land at Madras Airport for the event, according to Lysa Vattimo, the lead eclipse planner for Madras. The airport usually does not have a control tower, but a mobile one was brought in for the eclipse.

Kurt Chapman, spokesman for the Joint Information Center for the Eclipse at Deschutes County, said he did not know the travel plans or direction of the plane.

A year ago, the pilot of a vintage biplane died at Madras airport while he was performing a low altitude loop as part of the Airshow of the Cascades. Pilot Marcus Bruce Paine, 61, crashed his Boeing Stearman on Aug. 27.

This year's air show is Aug. 25 and 26.

Original article ➤