Sunday, August 13, 2017

Demand not as high as expected for commercial drone operators

WICHITA, Kan. (KNSS) - A company in Kansas, formed in 2014 by a group of military veterans with a background in unmanned aircraft, thought their services would be in demand to operate commercial drones. So far, that hasn't happened.

The company, Blue Chip UAS, was the first company in the region to receive a Federal Aviation Administration exemption to legally operate commercial drones.

But three years later, changes in the drone industry led the group to halt its activities and those involved in the company have taken other jobs.

A key investor in Blue Chip UAS, Jim Ballard, said he initially thought the FAA would have stricter rules for commercial drone operations that would require someone with experience in operating unmanned aircraft to help companies provide imaging, three-dimensional mapping and other aerial services to the agriculture, oil and gas, construction and filmmaking industries.

Most of the contracts the company hoped to get didn't materialize, and companies that might have hired the group bought their own drones and trained their employees to fly them.

Original article ➤

New Ozarks Technical Community College aviation program opens at full capacity

Sarah Tindell found the inspiration to become a pilot next door.

She was riveted by stories from a neighbor, a corporate pilot for John Q. Hammons, and starting thinking about a career in the air. After one flying lesson, she was hooked.

"I fell in love," said Tindell, 17. "I knew what I wanted to do."

The Kickapoo High School graduate was among the first 24 students selected for a new, two-year aviation program offered by Ozarks Technical Community College. It will start Aug. 21.

With the initial seats already filled, the program is a partnership between OTC and Premier Flight Center with space and support from the leadership of the Springfield-Branson National Airport.

"This demonstrates the pinnacle of public-private partnerships," said Matt Hudson, dean of technical education at OTC. "We are so lucky to have this in Springfield."

The program, with an estimated cost of $65,000, is designed to prepare graduates to work as commercial pilots. Those jobs include cargo hauling, charter flights, firefighting, rescue operations and aerial photography.

OTC Chancellor Hal Higdon said it is unusual but not unprecedented for a community college to offer an aviation program. He said OTC decided to move forward, after two years of development, because the demand for new pilots is so high.

"We are fulfilling a need in our community," he said. "This one is an example, purely, of industry need because all the Vietnam-era pilots are aging out."

The program has received approval from the Missouri Department of Higher Education, Higher Learning Commission, and the U.S. Department of Education. They are working on approval by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Higdon described Brian Weiler, director of aviation at the Springfield airport, as the force behind the program.

"He did all the work and brought it to us," he said. "We said 'yeah, that's a great model."

Hired six years ago, Weiler arrived in Springfield and immediately identified the need for a local flight training program.

"In the aviation industry, we desperately need pilots," he said.

The 2015 Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook projects that 558,000 new commercial pilots — including 95,000 in North America alone — will be needed during the next 20 years.

"In order for this to have credibility, we needed to have someone involved and OTC was a natural fit," he said.

The airport board agreed two years ago to make the flight training program a priority and renovated an unused part of the old terminal to house the private company that agreed to partner with OTC.

"The airport is thrilled this is coming together," he said. "For me personally, working on this flight school is the most rewarding thing I've been part of."

Cindy Stephens, interim director of the aviation program, said students who complete an associate degree in applied science at OTC can transfer to Drury University to pursue a bachelor's degree.

"If someone wants to be an airline pilot, they need to have a four-year degree," she said.

Corina Everhart-Bond, general manager of Premier Flight Center, said it has offered private flight instruction in Springfield for more than a year.

"We knew we wanted to be a flight school here because there is such a demand," she said.

Students who enroll will take ground school and general education courses at OTC and flight instruction at the old airport terminal. Since the program is offered by the college, students can apply for financial aid.

Premier offers a variety of planes, including a newly painted blue and white one with a tail number that ends with "Zero-Tango-Charlie" or OTC.

Premier's parent company, North Star Aviation, has similar partnerships with colleges in Minnesota and Ohio.

Everhart-Bond said before the OTC program, there was no college-affiliated program within driving distance, meaning students would have to relocate to enroll.

Tindell, 17, said the proximity of the OTC program convinced her to sign up. "Honestly, I don't know if I would have been as interested if this wasn't around. It's an exciting thing to come to Springfield, it's something new."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average Missouri salary for commercial pilots is $66,820 and jobs are plentiful.

"There is going to be such an opening," Tindell said of finding work. "That job opening is what is driving me."

OTC aviation program

Students enrolled in the OTC aviation program will be able to earn the skills needed to pursue a commercial pilot license.

In pursuit of an associate's degree of applied science in aviation, students will take ground school classes taught by OTC instructors at the OTC Springfield Campus and flight training with Premier Flight Center LLC, located at the former Springfield-Branson National Airport terminal, 500 W. Kearney St., Suite 110.

Students are expected to pay $117 per credit hour for ground school classes. Hands-on flight labs will cost an estimated $13,000 per flight course, with all four flight labs totaling nearly $54,000.

The classes include airline operations, aviation weather, air traffic control system and commercial pilot flight lab.

Agreement with Drury

A pact signed Aug. 7 will allow graduates of the OTC aviation program to seamlessly transfer to Drury University to pursue either a bachelor's degree in general studies or organizational communication and development. A bachelor's degree is one of the requirements needed to obtain an airline transport pilot license.

Story and photo gallery ➤

Boston cardiologist saves woman overdosing on flight

BOSTON - A local cardiologist saved a passenger who was passed out after a believed overdose 30,000 feet in the air.

Dr. Anil Punjabi was about to fall asleep on his flight from Boston to Minneapolis Friday, until he heard the Spirit Airlines attendant shouting for a doctor.

Other passengers alerted the crew when a woman a few rows back had been in the bathroom for a long time. When she got back, she was turning grey and slumped over. Dr. Punjabi noticed she didn't have a pulse. He was working with an OBGYN nurse also on the flight to give her mouth to mouth CPR when they discovered a needle hidden in her bra.

"We were down on the ground within 25 minutes, but at that time she was completely unresponsive,” said Punjabi.

For those 25 minutes, the crew, Punjabi, the nurse and an EMT trainee all worked to keep that woman alive.

The situation is putting a spotlight on the gravity of the opioid epidemic in Boston.

And it’s also raising serious concerns for Punjabi about whether action should be taken by airlines across the U.S. to prevent this from happening again. Punjabi and the crew kept the woman alive until the plane was on the ground 25 minutes later, but in other situations, that may not be possible.

"You need to talk to your union, you need to talk to Spirit, you need to talk to the company. I said the one thing you need to get in your med kit is Narcan,” said Punjabi.

Story and video ➤

Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport (KBRO) director: Letters needed full context

Bryant Walker, director of the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport, said letters recently sent out to residential property owners near the airport about appraising their properties should have provided more context.

The letter was sent by Garza & Associates LLC to more than 60 property owners, mostly in the Sunny Skies colonia south of the airport, to inform homeowners of the opportunity to meet with an appraiser when their homes are being inspected for appraisal related to future purchases related to the “Brownsville Airport Expansion Project.”

“The appraisal is to determine the current market value of your property, all or in part, to be purchased by the City of Brownsville,” the letter reads in part, additionally, that Garza & Associates was contracted for appraisal services by a firm called Texas Land Professionals, which would be performing the property acquisitions and making offers to owners, the purchase prices to be paid by the city.

Walker said the letters gave homeowners a big scare and should have emphasized the “future” aspect more. The “airport expansion” refers to a long-planned project to extend the primary runway to the southeast, which would require homes in the colonia to eventually be acquired and demolished because of their proximity to the longer runway’s threshold.

“The way it was worded, it sounded like something was happening next week and you have to move out by the end of the month,” he said. “None of this is happening right away.”

Walker said a new terminal has to be built first, a two-year project, then the secondary runway, which runs north and south, has to be extended to maintain the airport’s capacity once the primary runway is closed for construction. Work on the primary runway probably won’t start for another four or five years, he said.

Walker said rumors that city officials own property in the neighborhood and are pushing the acquisitions to line their own pockets are untrue and that county property records bear this out.

The reason for the runway extension isn’t to be able to accommodate bigger planes, since the airport already can handle planes up to the size of a 747, but rather to enhance the safety of the flying public by increasing the margin of error for landing passenger jets, he said.

Walker said the city has been buying farmland and a few residential properties in the area for years in anticipation of the runway project, but nothing in the colonia. For those purchases, the city contracted with the same company, Texas Land Professionals, which sent property owners the required notices “a long time ago,” he said.

Newly under contract again with the city, the company basically picked up where it had left off, which led to the most recent letters to property owners, Walker said.

“They went back into acquisition phase,” he said. “The next step was to renew all appraisals.”

Airport officials will host a meeting for affected homeowners this week, during which they’ll give a presentation on airport projects, discuss the rationale behind the runway extension, field questions and hand out information, Walker said.

“Hopefully they get an idea of why all this is happening,” he said.

Original article ➤

Friend Coming to East Hampton Airport (KHTO)? Check the Complaint Registry

by Dan Rattiner 

Twenty years ago, on a Friday night and under a full moon, I went out onto the beach, set out a blanket and looked up at the sky to watch some of my wealthy friends in the Hamptons fly into East Hampton for the weekend. It was about 9 p.m. Here they came, first a quiet buzz from the west and a dot and finally a small plane, coming across the sky to lazily circle around and land gently at the airport five miles behind me.

I wrote about it. I knew the planes. Here comes the Bush family, here come the Smiths, the Hardings. I wasn’t exactly sure I was looking at them. There might be others that had the same color plane or same configurations of the engines. But it was something to write about. The summer people of privilege had arrived.

Today, in a different era, there’s a new way to find out who is coming in and out. A friend showed me this. Go to This site tracks not the few dozen wealthy people who came into the airport 30 years ago, but the hundreds and hundreds of well-to-do people who come in every weekend and terrify the residential community around the airport with noisy helicopters that go pocketa pocketa pocketa and circle around until they get the go-ahead to land. On this website, if you hear a chattering helicopter or aircraft up close and personal, you press a button that says COMPLAINT and the site refreshes itself. It shows your location nearby to the airport, and then it shows the aircraft that is closest to you in the sky, identifying it by tail number, number of feet it is off the ground, and, if you have another website set up where you can find the owner of a plane by its tail number, you’ll know who owns it.

A complaint is automatically filed because you have pressed the button. And off that complaint goes to the East Hampton Airport manager or some other official. At the end of the day, they can tell you if the plane or helicopter was flying too low or off-course and, theoretically anyway, somebody could give it a ticket.

It’s sort of like the surveillance they have set up at bridge toll booths where if you don’t pay they’ve got you, or if you don’t pay but have set it up to pay if you appear, they charge your credit card automatically.

Except in this case, nothing comes of it. Eventually, the complaints wind up on the desk at the FAA. They probably don’t care about the noise. I imagine they slip the complaint into the round trash basket or, if it’s on a computer, the picture of the round trash basket on the screen.

The FAA doesn’t care. But it’s fun to do. And you get to feel better.

Original article can be found here ➤

Want to see the solar eclipse from the 35,000 feet? Take this flight from Philadelphia International Airport (KPHL)

This map shows the percentage of Great American Eclipse will be visible across the United States on Aug. 21, 2017. The area in red is the totality zone where the sun's disk will be fully blocked by the moon.

Watching next week's Great American Eclipse from Terra firma is so pedestrian.

If you want an (almost) out of this world glimpse of the solar spectacle, you have to head into the sky.

And lucky for you, there an easy way to do it from Philadelphia.

American Airlines has a flight to Atlanta, Georgia that will be traveling directly through the path of totality — when the moon fully blocks out the sun — right around the same time the eclipse.

The total solar eclipse, when the moon passes in front of the sun covering its disk, will move from the northwest to southeast on Aug. 21 from Oregon to South Carolina.

AA flight 2079 is scheduled to depart Philadelphia International Airport at 12:59 p.m. on Aug. 21. The flight takes it on a southwesterly route through The Carolinas and into the main path of the eclipse. It's scheduled to arrive at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport at 3:07 p.m., a few minutes after the eclipse's peak.

The jet, an Embraer ERJ-190, is a smaller commuter plane with 99 seats. As of Sunday morning, there were still five seats left on the flight: three in economy ($154 one-way) and two in first class ($284 one-way.)

If you're wondering what the eclipse will look like from a plane, check out this story from

There's obviously no guarantee that you'll see a partial or total eclipse on the flight as there are a ton of factors at play like air speed and departure timing.

Those who prefer to stay on the ground in Philadelphia will still get to see about 75 percent of the eclipse. Remember should only look at the eclipse using special glasses or risk eye damage.

If video of the solar eclipse is not enough, sky-high view of the eclipse is available. Five specific flights will be in the area at the time of the eclipse including one from Philadelphia. 

If you can't see the total eclipse this time around, mark your calendars for May 1, 2079. A total solar eclipse will begin in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and travel on a northern arc through New England.

Read more here ➤

Air traffic control in America isn’t broken and doesn’t need to be fixed

By Max Sawicky 

Unprecedented changes may be in store for the nation’s system of air traffic control. 

The buzzword used to describe Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Bill Shuster's FAA reform plan is "privatization," but analogies to private sector commerce are a stretch.

In the world of private enterprise, entrepreneurs are driven by cut-throat competition to offer the best goods and services at the lowest prices.

In Shuster’s plan, there are no entrepreneurs, and no competition, and no prices. So what are we really talking about?

Under current arrangements, safety regulation and air traffic control are under the aegis of the FAA. While proponents say that putting regulation and operations under separate roofs is appealing, separation can hamper accountability. It becomes less easy to determine responsibility for lapses in safety, and with airplanes, lapses in safety can be catastrophic.

Instead of competition among service providers, we will now have competition for power on the governing board of the new government-certified monopoly, consisting of a variety of stakeholders, including amateur pilots, business carriers, regional carriers, and rural airports, among others, who fear being steamrolled by the big airlines. The jockeying for influence would not be conducive to good management.

The main criticism of the current system is the hope that there would be more timely service for passengers on the big airlines.

The funny thing is, it is precisely the big airlines who seem incapable of landing and taking off on time, who stand to exercise dominant influence under the new order.

Although the new entity would operate on a non-profit basis, it would be a vehicle for the airlines to exploit their monopoly franchise and shift costs to consumers, small-fry users of the system, and taxpayers.

Ownership of valuable government assets would be given over to the new entity, free of charge. Since financing would come from loans from private sector financial institutions, for all practical purposes the value of those assets would be transferred to the lenders.

So there actually is a privatization angle here – what’s privatized is the finance of capital improvements to the system. Instead of vendors competing to provide good service, financial institutions will be competing to manage the sale of bonds to investors, and to each other. This makes no financial sense. The federal government itself can borrow money more cheaply.

Some functions should not be left to the private sector. Air traffic control is one of them.  

To begin with, safety to the n-th degree is an imperative. Profits should have no role in air traffic control. We don’t want somebody trading off safety concerns against cost considerations.

The only acceptable number of airplane collisions is zero. Nobody in this debate denies that the FAA has an excellent safety record. Air traffic control isn’t broken and doesn’t need to be fixed.

Air traffic control is not up for competition. There can only be one service provider.

When you’re in the air, you’re not about choosing which controller business is going to guide your flight safely.

It’s not like choosing a barber. The same goes for the complex technology required. Modifying legacy systems and rotating their back-up service contractors according to performance is difficult. You’re largely stuck with whatever vendor you have chosen, much like the reality of big-ticket military hardware contracts.

The U.S. system dwarfs that of any other nation, in terms of scale – the number of flights – and complexity, with aircraft and functions of all shapes and sizes. The fact that privatization of some type has been effected in other countries does not automatically mean it would be successful here.

We’re not Denmark!

For all the talk about bringing business acumen to government, the proposed reorganization of the FAA brings increased costs, disruptive management, largesse to private parties, and threats to the FAA’s sterling safety record.

It’s bad business.

Max B. Sawicky is an economist and writer specializing in public finance and privatization.

Original article  ➤

Ohio State prepares for $20 million airport enhancement

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State is launching a $20 million project to update the university airport in central Ohio with a groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for Aug. 19.

The project includes construction of four new hangar buildings, an aviation education and research facility with state-of-the-art flight simulators, research labs and classrooms.

The renovation also includes an updated flight terminal. Half the funding comes from the Austin E. Knowlton Foundation , which provides grants to promote and advance higher education.

The airport's current infrastructure has remained largely unchanged for more than 50 years.

The new facility should be open in January 2019.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Ohio State's aviation education program and the 75th anniversary of its airport.

More than 500 Ohio State students pursue aviation degrees annually.

Original article can be found here ➤

Wildlife biologist at Tulsa International Airport (KTUL) plays vital role in maintaining safety of aircraft and animals

While making a routine loop around the perimeter of the Tulsa International Airport's airfield, Clayton Faidley spots a small hawk.

He brings the truck to a halt, grabs a pair of protective ear muffs, a small pyrotechnic launcher and shoots the screaming bullet into the air which scares the bird out of airport skies and back into safety.

For Faidley, the aiport's wildlife biologist, harassing birds into safety accounts for almost 100 percent of his job's activity. 

Originally from rural Virginia, Faidley spent his childhood fishing, playing in creeks and practically living outdoors. While he has always loved wildlife and he obtained a bachelors and masters degrees in biological sciences, he didn't know biologists were a staple job at airports until a few years ago.

He thought the job sounded "really interesting" and went to work for a few airports in Baltimore, Maryland.

"I thought 'that’s really cool' and I liked planes so it was like a perfect storm," he said. 

On any given day Faidley may have the opportunity to scare away geese, take a lost dog to a shelter, trap a hawk and set it on a new course or unfortunately get sprayed by a skunk...among many other animal encounters. 

The Tulsa airport has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to mammals near or around the airfield because they can cause a fair amount of damage. Since airports started reporting bird strikes in the early 90s, it has been found that 26 strikes occur nationally per day and because strikes aren't required to be reported over half aren't.

Additionally, Faidley said, 245 aircraft's have been lost or damaged due to wildlife interference and more than 200 people have died.

"It's definitely something airports need to be aware of and take precautionary measures against," he said. 

Anytime the airport operations department can't shoo an animal off the premises, Faidley comes out to assist. He travels to airports across the country about twice a month to train employees on how to deal with wildlife on airport property.

His training fulfills their yearly required wildlife training per Federal Aviation Administration regulation.  

Faidley is also in charge of maintaining wildlife safety at the Jones Riverside Airport, but doesn't have to interfere as much at the airport because it is smaller and airplanes take off more often, keeping the wildlife at bay. 

Moderate to larger sized airports almost always have at least one wildlife biologist on staff, Faidley said. Loomacres Wildlife Management, the company Faidley works for, has employees stationed in airports located in Ohio, New York, England and Guam.

However, just like Faidley felt when he found out about the job, people still give him an "amused, confused look" when he tells them what he does for a living. 

We asked him some questions to learn more about his unique career.

What's different about working with wildlife in an airport setting?

The last wildlife jobs I've had, it’s been capturing, measuring and then releasing and in has been in the woods, but here you have to be much more aware of who sees you, what’s around, and there’s big safety issues as well.

What animals do you like and don't like dealing with?

I like dealing with crows. They are pretty smart because you can do a little harassment and they’ll leave and they’ll stay gone for a while. I don’t like waterfowl (ducks, geese, etc.) one, because they are a hazard to aircraft, two because if they get up in the air they will circle a few times and they may land again.

When you say you "harass" birds away from the airfield, what all does that entail?

Harassment could just be clapping your hands, even just driving at them with the truck scares them pretty good. I have "pyro" launches as well. There’s one that’s a screamer and there’s another one that’s called a bird bomb. We have shell crackers — it looks like a shotgun shell and you can shoot it 300 to 400 feet and then it makes a boom and those work really well scaring birds.  

What are the steps to capturing a hawk, if you have to?

In the case of a kestral, I will set a Bal-Chatri trap where the hawks are, drive down a little further and try to scare them a little bit closer to the trap so they’ll see it, land on it, try to get the bait inside the trap and then after a few minutes of working around these nooses that are on top, it will wrap around their toe. You need to take them between 20 to 50 miles away — you want to get them on a new north, south migration line. 

Original article and photo gallery ➤

Letter: How about an airport on Chicago's South Works site?

Yet another plan is being suggested for the old South Works site in Chicago. 

I wonder why no one recently has considered this site as a possible alternative to Peotone for a third airport.

It could be comparable to Midway International Airport in size and provide for some approaches over water rather than residential areas. 

It could give a huge economic boost to an area that desperately needs it. 

And, above all, the site would be much more accessible than distant Peotone.

— James Furey, Streamwood

Article and comments ➤

United Airlines vs. the World: This Probably Won't End Well

During 2017, United Continental has implemented a strategy of aggressive competition. This could lead to significant margin pressure over the next several quarters.

By Adam Levine-Weinberg

United Continental President Scott Kirby is playing with fire. Since taking the No. 2 job at United a year ago, Kirby has overseen a stark strategy change. The company has significantly increased its growth rate in the domestic market while becoming aggressive about matching or even beating competitors' prices.

These moves ultimately stem from Kirby's belief that United Airlines' willingness to cut or downsize underperforming routes has harmed its financial performance in recent years. Serving more domestic routes with more nonstop flight options is critical to success as a network carrier, according to this logic. Kirby also believes that it's important to match every competitor's prices in order to avoid losing customers to cheaper rivals.

However, the result is that United is simultaneously picking fights with the likes of Alaska Air, Hawaiian Holdings, Spirit Airlines, and Frontier Airlines. This doesn't bode well for United's profitability in the next few quarters.

Taking the fight to Alaska Air

Since buying smaller rival Virgin America for $2.6 billion last year, Alaska Air hasn't been shy about its plans to grow in California -- especially the Bay Area. That would obviously pose a challenge to United Continental, which dominates the San Francisco air travel market.

United has responded with a strategy of pre-emptive growth. In late February, it announced that it would add new routes from San Francisco to several key cities, including Cincinnati, Detroit, and Hartford. For the most part, these capacity additions make sense, as these are large markets that warrant nonstop service from a major hub like San Francisco.

Shortly after United's announcement, Alaska Air unveiled plans to add nine new routes from San Francisco starting in the fall. In total, it is set to launch 13 new routes from San Francisco during 2017, most of which are currently United Airlines monopolies.

United Continental responded by increasing capacity in many of these markets -- dramatically in some cases. This may help the carrier retain market share, but it will almost certainly lead to steep unit revenue declines.

Picking a fight with two no-frills budget carriers

The battle between United Continental and Alaska Air is just starting to heat up. Nevertheless, United recently decided to pick a fight with Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines: America's two largest ultra-low cost carriers.

Spirit Airlines indicated last month that price competition has become much more intense in Chicago, Newark, Houston, and Denver recently. It's not a coincidence that all four are United Airlines hubs. United Continental is aggressively matching and even undercutting Spirit and Frontier on pricing, even though it has much higher unit costs. It's even cutting prices in markets where Spirit hasn't changed its footprint for years.

United faces a more direct threat from Frontier Airlines. Frontier recently announced a slew of new routes, with an increased focus on serving midsize cities from its Denver hub. Kirby indicated that United Continental will respond aggressively to this incursion.

United's desire to defend its position in Denver is understandable given that it is the carrier's most profitable hub. That said, United could torpedo its own unit revenue in Denver if it takes extreme measures to undercut Frontier Airlines there.

Challenging Hawaiian Airlines in Hawaii

United Continental also announced plans to challenge Hawaiian Holdings in its home market of Hawaii back in early June. In late December, it will increase service on 11 routes to Hawaii. Some of the routes getting extra flights link Chicago and Denver to Hawaii. Hawaiian Airlines doesn't serve either of those markets. However, United will also add at least seven daily flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to secondary airports in Hawaii (i.e. not Honolulu).

United is adding these routes just as Hawaiian Airlines is ready to ramp up a long-planned initiative to grow its service to secondary airports in Hawaii. The carrier recently upgraded its seasonal Los Angeles-Lihue route to year-round service and it plans to launch year-round Los Angeles-Kona flights in March.

More routes overlapping with United's recent service additions are likely to be announced in the next year or so, as Hawaiian's A321neo fleet expands. Hawaiian Airlines earns a revenue premium in all of its domestic markets, so United's moves to add capacity to Hawaii could easily backfire once Hawaiian Airlines responds.

At war with the world

A targeted price-matching campaign against a single fast-growing competitor is often effective in the airline industry. While it inevitably causes some short-term unit revenue pressure, the payoff is that it may hurt the rival even more, forcing it to scale back growth.

By contrast, United is taking on numerous smaller rivals -- including Alaska Air, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and Hawaiian Holdings -- at the same time. This is an extremely rash strategy that could lead to unit revenue declines and margin erosion starting later this year.

United Continental already experienced significant margin pressure in the first half of 2017. Its current guidance calls for unit revenue growth to stall out entirely in the third quarter. With United's competitive battles set to ramp up further over the next year, the outlook for Q4 and 2018 is quite bleak if the company sticks to its current plans.

Read more here ➤

Chasing the Midnight Ghost

On an overcast day in 1927, two French pilots set off across the Atlantic Ocean all but destined to beat Charles Lindbergh in a race between New York and Paris. Then they disappeared. Now, 90 years later, has one man finally found history’s most mythic missing plane buried in New England?  By Michael J. Mooney

Harold Vining, a blueberry farmer in Maine, was outside chopping wood when he heard a roar in the sky. As it thundered closer, he wondered if it might be an airplane. It was May 9, 1927—11 days before Charles Lindbergh flew nonstop from New York to Paris—and airplanes were still a rarity in this sparsely populated coastal area. In fact, this was the first one Vining had ever heard. He looked to the sky in the direction of the rumble, trying to catch a glimpse, but the fog was too thick. He craned his neck, listening as the sound slowly faded into the distance.

Several miles away, a young couple also heard a plane that day. They were driving down the road and stopped their car to listen as it passed. Nearby, a woman was standing in her kitchen when she heard the unfamiliar grumble. A father and his 17-year-old son heard it, too. The boy thought it sounded like an old-fashioned cream separator floating through the sky.

A hermit named Anson Berry was fishing in his canoe on the south end of Round Lake when he caught the noise. He couldn’t see a plane but heard an engine sputtering overhead, followed by an unmistakable crash in the hills next to the lake. As the sun began to set, Berry returned to his campsite. It’s unknown whether anyone that day searched through the dense forest and steep inclines for wreckage.

In the decades since, legend has spread of a mysterious plane hiding deep in the woods. Dozens of hunters have reported seeing a large engine buried in a thicket beneath some trees, or covered in moss, but those are simply tales. The missing plane, the one Vining heard 90 years ago, is still out there.

Read more here ➤

Delta Air Lines loses Atlanta-based connection carrier

ATLANTA - A longtime Delta Connection contract carrier based in Atlanta will soon part ways with Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines.

Atlanta-based ExpressJet announced in a news release that the airline will not fly for Delta after late 2018.

ExpressJet, a subsidiary of St. George, Utah-based SkyWest, said that it and Delta have agreed to terminate their contract early. ExpressJet was formerly known as Atlantic Southeast Airlines or ASA.

At other locations around the country, ExpressJet operates for United Airlines as United Express and for American Airlines as American Eagle.

Original article can be found here ➤

You Can Watch Planes Land At This Underrated Restaurant In New Orleans: Lakefront Airport (KNEW)

Are you looking for lunch with a view? The Runway Cafe at the newly renovated Shushan Airport will scratch that itch.

This gorgeous building in New Orleans east will dazzle you…and serve you up some delicious meals as well!

The Runway Cafe is found at 6001 Stars and Stripes Blvd., in New Orleans East.

It opened up when the airport was completely renovated in the past few years. 

All of the areas are absolutely beautiful and will make you feel in awe of the work they did to bring the Art Deco masterpiece to life.

The cafe is open from Tuesday-Sunday from 8am to 3pm. They have some great New Orleans dishes to choose from.

Chef Leon's Signature Crab Cakes topped with two Fried Eggs & Hollandaise Sauce, served with a homemade Buttermilk Biscuit and Brabant Potatoes.

Buttermilk pancakes often show up on the menu, with a variety of side dishes to make a balanced meal.

There are also build your own omelette options, which include over 10 different add ons to choose from, including crab or chorizo sausage.

There are also a number of specialities for breakfast here, including crab cakes.

The eggs boudin include traditional eggs benedict with boudin patties.

The chef is Executive Chef Leon West, who is also in charge of catering for the weddings that are hosted here.

All of this delicious goodness is served up while planes land and take off right outside.

You are going to have a lovely breakfast or lunch here and it's perfect for a special occasion!

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Military aircraft flying over Fresno raises eyebrows

FRESNO, Calif. (FOX26 News) -- You may have seen a military aircraft circling the Fresno Yosemite International Airport Saturday.

Well, now we know why.

Fresno Yosemite International spokesperson, Vikkie Calderon tells us it's a U.S. Air Force AWAC plane doing training exercises.

She says part of those exercises includes it coming in on approach as if it were going to land and then taking off again.

According to the U.S. Air Force, AWACS are used to carry out airborne surveillance, and command, control and communications functions.

Calderon says the training will only take place Saturday.

She also mentioned that the airport is a public use facility and people will see plenty of different aircraft landing and taking off from the airport. 

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WW II aircraft restored in Caldwell, Idaho

CALDWELL — In the world of fiction, Captain America fought bravely for the country until he was frozen then found decades later. In real life, Dottie Mae, a World War II warbird, had a similar fate.

The P-47 aircraft crashed in an Austrian lake and was found 60 years later.

After an extensive recovery process, in 2008, the plane was sold to Jack Croul who then brought it to Vintage Airframes in Caldwell.

In February 2009, began the restoration process of the only known P-47 plane from the war in existence. Eight years later, the vintage aircraft is now fully restored and has 26 flight hours recorded in its second life.

On Aug. 26 and 27, it will be unveiled publicly and flown again at the 2017 Warbird Roundup at the Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa. Lt. Larry Kuhl, who was Dottie's pilot will also be present at the event on Aug. 26.


On the morning of May 8, 1945, soldiers of the 511 Fighter Squadron were instructed to fly five flights through the Alps to celebrate liberation of a labor camp at Ebensee three days prior. Although the aircraft was assigned to Kuhl, on that fateful day, Lt. Henry Mohr was scheduled to fly Dottie Mae.

The team was flying at approximately 220 mph when Mohr decided to fly at a lower altitude than the rest of the team. Unfortunately after the formation broke, as was planned, Mohr hit a lake, crashing the Dottie Mae. He managed to survive, even as Dottie Mae sank out of sight, becoming the last known combat loss in the European theater of WWII. 

Two girls and a boy who were rowing their boats near the crash site helped Mohr survive before he lost consciousness.

The sinking of the Dottie Mae however ultimately aided in its survival. In the summer of 1945 the aircraft's counterparts, another 19 surviving P-47s, were all flown to Paris and scraped there while Dottie Mae remained in Lake Traunsee for 60 years waiting for its sequel.

Flash forward to June 2005 when Brian Kenney, who lives in California, put up the money to recover Dottie Mae. After extensive deep water searching, it was found lying upside down 230 feet below the surface.

Bob Nightingale, supervisor of the recovery project, said it wasn't an easy recovery.

“It was challenging to pull the plane out," he said. "The dive team could only stay about 20 minutes at a time at that depth, and it would take them about an hour to go up and down.”

Finally, after several days, the aircraft was lifted with balloons tied to its tail to ensure proper support. Two days later, it was being shipped back to the country, Nightingale said.

Dottie Mae arrived on a sea container in 2005 to Kenney's facility in Chino, California. Kuhl was the first person to step inside the plane, Nightingale said.


Kuhl's first airplane ride was in a World War I biplane, and it cost him $5, “which was a lot of money in those days,” he said, according to an interview published in the Warbird Digest's April 2010 edition. He was working at a factory making 50 cents an hour at the time. On March 23, 1942, after about 8 hours of instruction, Kuhl first flew solo.

He was sent to Goxhill, England, in May 1944 and he flew his first combat mission on Oct. 2, 1944.

The artwork on the plane was done by Samuel Kirchenbaum who based it on the December 1945 pin-up girl of the Vargas calendar. It was named after Kuhl's first wife Dottie Mae.

The P-47 Dottie Mae was the “first big radical engine aircraft,” that Kuhl had flown. He was “disgusted,” that Mohr had been assigned to his plane and that it had crashed, while Kuhl himself was assigned an old “Razor Back” P-47 during that fateful mission, according to the interview. 

In 1991, Kuhl got to meet Mohr at a retiree convention in Las Vegas and ask what “hitting the water felt like.” Mohr pointed at a block wall and said, “Run just as fast as you can into it and that's what it felt like.”

When Kuhl first heard of the plane's recovery, he said in the interview that he thought it was a “wild idea.”


Dottie was built in Evansville, Indiana, in 1944 and was one of the 1,028 D-28 aircraft to be manufactured there. In mid October that year, Dottie was shipped off to England. 

According to Allied Fighters' website, the restoration team wanted to “preserve as much of the existing air-frame as possible.”

When the plane was recovered, it had “nine garbage cans of mud,” inside it, said Mike Breshears, owner of Vintage Airframes who led the restoration project.

It took 52,000 man hours of work and when the restoration was completed, Breshears said he was “overwhelmed.”

About 55 percent of Dottie Mae is still its original parts, Breshears said.

For Nightingale, the recovery process warranted a celebration.

“It is an incredible piece of history ... We broke open a bottle of Cognac and celebrated,” when the project was completed, he said.

If you go

Event: Warbird Roundup 2017: An annual gathering of famous WWII airplanes held at the Warhawk Air Museum. This year's event will feature the first time public unveiling of Dottie Mae, since its restoration along with a P-38 Lightning, 0-1 Bird Dog and more.

Dottie Mae's pilot Kuhl will also be at the event.

Guest Speaker: Bob Cardin of Glacier Girl restoration fame.

When: 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug 26 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug 27

Where: Warhawk Air Museum

201 Municipal Dr.

 Nampa, ID

Ticket prices: General admission - $20

Senior Citizens/Military - $18

Kids (ages 5 - 12) - $10

Tickets are available online on the museum's website.

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Will medical air transport be there for you?

By George LaRue

George LaRue is a resident of Utopia, Texas in Uvalde County, west of San Antonio. This oped was submitted by a representative of Save Our Air Medical Resources.

A Life Star medical helicopter landed at Kosciuszko Park in Stamford, Conn., on Jan. 29, 2014, to transport a patient. Such lifesaving services, including those in Texas, are threatened because of difficult business models — something a bill in Congress addresses.

It was a Tuesday in Utopia, Texas and I was having a heart attack that was going to end my life.

The day had been normal in pretty much every way. No dark clouds. No signs that it would be different than any other Tuesday, but oh was it.

I was standing in Hidden Treasures, a charming little gift shop in our small town, when I collapsed.

I had no warning. No chest pain, no shortness of breath. I don’t remember anything about it even happening. One minute I’m browsing knickknacks and the next minute I’m gone.

In our part of Texas, it’s remote living — by design. We like the wide-open spaces and the small-town feel. The trade-off though is that Utopia, much like a lot of Texas and the nation for that matter, is more than an hour by car from a critical care emergency room.

Our volunteer EMS folks do a great job, but they’re limited in what they can do and in critical situations, we all want to know that someone else is going to be there to save us.

When I collapsed, local volunteer EMTs found me and immediately called AirLife in San Antonio. The helicopter came, landed just outside the store, the crew stabilized me, and got me where I needed to go. All together it took AirLife about a half an hour, when an ambulance would have taken about twice that probably.

It’s weird when you hear people you don’t know talking about you and the miracle of your survival.

According to a gentleman named Lee Fernandez, who works for AirLife’s parent company called Air Methods, “This man (that’s me), literally had a zero chance of survival three years ago.” What he was talking about is that today, access to air medical transport, advanced air EMT training, and new medical protocols, gave me the same chance of surviving my heart attack in Utopia as I would have had in downtown San Antonio.

Just because this critical service currently exists, does not mean it’s here to stay.

Much like many rural hospitals that are faced with impossible financial circumstances, air medical transport bases are being forced to close around the nation, leaving Americans without access to life-saving care. Already, 85 million of our fellow citizens (1 in 4) can only reach a Level 1 or 2 Trauma Care facility within an hour if they are brought there by a helicopter air ambulance.

The finances of air medical services are tough because they’re required by law to deploy when they are called regardless of a patient’s ability to pay, about 70 percent of these trips are paid for by some type of government insurance like Medicare or Medicaid, and the government reimbursement rates only cover about 50 percent of the actual cost.

New federal legislation that would improve matters is now working its way through the process. HR 3378, the Ensuring Access to Air Ambulance Services Act, has been introduced by Reps. Jackie Walorski, R-Indiana, and a bipartisan group of five other members of Congress, including Dallas-based Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas. Hopefully, it’ll get enough traction to make it to the President’s desk for his signature soon.

For me, that helicopter and its crew gave me another chance at life. Another chance to go sailing and fishing with my boys and to visit all of my children scattered across the world. This whole experience has put everything in perspective.

According to Save Our Air Medical Resources, a coalition working to ensure access to air medical helicopters, more than 22 percent of hospitals have closed since 1990, with hundreds more at risk of closing. This jeopardizes access to care to millions of Americans who live in rural areas like me.

With the air medical industry under constant threat of having to close down bases servicing rural areas because of the incredibly challenging finances those businesses face, I want to ask you to join me in standing with them. Because one day, you may go through what I went through.

Protecting the folks who work in the emergency air medical industry is just like protecting yourself and your family.

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