Thursday, August 24, 2017

Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (KECP), Panama City, Bay County, Florida: Behind the scenes with the Transportation Security Administration

At Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, security workers screen about 1,750 passengers a day during the summer months and will scan over 1.38 million bags in a year, largely through a single TSA checkpoint.

WEST BAY — If it all goes according to plan, both passengers and their baggage should move through security checkpoints at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) with very little notice of the “robust security protocols,” in place, both seen and unseen.

On Thursday, officials with the Transportation Security Administration gave a behind-the-scenes look at the people, processes and technology in place to help keep passengers safe and detect potential threats to aircraft. Averaging about 14 flights a day and 22 flights on Saturday during the summer, the airport screens about 1,750 passengers a day during the summer months and will scan over 1.38 million bags in a year, largely through a single TSA checkpoint.

That being said, Petar Dimitrov, a TSA officer who has worked at ECP for about eight months, said most people get through the checkpoints in minutes with little to no disruption. Here’s what goes on at each stage of security screening and what technology is being used to detect threats.

Checked baggage

The life of a checked bag at ECP is a pretty good one. After being dropped off at the ticket counter, the bags are taken for a conveyor belt ride, like a lazy river but for luggage, through a series of rooms to be fed through explosive detection machines. Computer algorithms automatically sort the bags to prevent blockages, and if a bag doesn’t trigger any alarms, it shouldn’t be touched by another person until it’s time to be loaded onto the aircraft, according to Sari Koschetz, a TSA spokesperson.

If a bag does trip an alarm, it’s separated from the herd and taken into another room, where it’s run through another machine by a TSA officer. The officer can look at the x-ray image to determine if the alarm was just tripped by a harmless, everyday item, or they can remove the item, examine it and swab both the item and the inside of the bag for explosives residue.

If the item is prohibited — say, if someone has fireworks in their luggage (Koshetz says that’s a big problem during the Fourth of July) — then the airline is called. The airline then will call the passenger, who can either take the item back to their car if they’re local, or abandon it. The airline takes possession of abandoned items, which are regularly picked up by hazmat teams and disposed of.

Once the bags make it through the maze of conveyor belts, they’re dropped onto a luggage carousel, where they’re picked up by airline employees, sorted into carts and brought to their flights.

Passenger security

While their bags are moving through their own screening process, passengers begin their TSA experience at the security checkpoint, where they meet Dimitrov or one of his coworkers. At this point, passengers have already had their names checked against no-fly lists and will have their driver’s licenses scrutinized before entering the checkpoint. Dimitrov checks the picture on the license against the person standing in front of him, the name on the license against the name on the boarding pass, and uses UV light to check for security features embedded in the license.

If their driver’s license checks out, passengers move into the Advanced Imagery Technology body scanner. Unlike previous models, the scanners at ECP show TSA workers a generic white outline, with yellow rectangles marking areas that might conceal a threat.

“There are no privacy violations,” Koschetz said.

Koschetz also added that the machines are extremely safe, emitting significantly less energy than a cell phone. To demonstrate, she sent officer Tim Justice through the scanner with his badge and cell phone, which were both clearly highlighted with yellow rectangles. The items are then x-rayed and a pat-down conducted. At any point, Koschetz said, a passenger can request a private screening or a consultation with a screening specialist.

As the passenger moves through the scanner, their carry-on bags are x-rayed and tested for explosives. As with the checked luggage, if they cause an alarm, agents go through the bag and swab it for explosives. They also can swab passengers’ hands or clothing for explosives residue and can test liquids for explosives so they can be brought on the plane, even if they exceed 3.4 ounces.

Keeping the security line moving, especially during the peak travel months, is the priority of both ECP and TSA, and Koschetz advised passengers become familiar with what they can and can’t bring on the plane before they arrive at the airport to avoid holding up the line. Not to mention some items, like guns or explosives, can carry a hefty fine.

“You slow down the line for everyone else,” Koschetz said. “We do want to keep the process moving.”

Story, video and photo gallery:

Cozen O'Connor Faces Suit Over Flightless Airplane

A Delaware aviation company is suing Cozen O'Connor over a damaged airplane that never got repaired.

Blue Water Aviation Inc. and Aero Ways Inc. have filed a complaint in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas against Cozen O'Connor, alleging legal malpractice. They are also suing their insurer, Global Aerospace Inc., alleging breach of policy and bad faith.

They're seeking damages to compensate for their inability to use a Bombardier Challenger CL-601-1A airplane since July 2013, as well as legal fees and punitive damages. Aero Ways had been leasing the plane from Blue Water when it was damaged.

Aero Ways retained Cozen O'Connor to recover for the airplane damages and resulting financial losses, after "a series of accidents" at the Bob Hope International Airport in California, the complaint said. The accidents left the airplane un-flyable, the complaint said, but Aero Ways' insurer, Global, said it would not fully repair the damage.

"Global was inclined only to approve a lesser repair that was analogous to hammering out a dent in a car door," the complaint alleged.

Aero Ways and Blue Water alleged that Cozen O'Connor gave poor advice—to sue the Bob Hope airport and the airplane maintenance company located there. Instead, the complaint alleged, the firm should have advised them to "aggressively pursue Global to make good on its duty to repair the aircraft."

"Cozen O'Connor's advice was inexplicable because, to the extent that Aero Ways was pursuing the lawsuit as a means to get the aircraft back into the air as quickly as possible, that goal was more likely to be achieved by Aero Ways aggressively pursuing coverage, or fixing the aircraft itself," the complaint said.

The firm also failed to explain that Blue Water's primary claim should be against Aero Ways, which was obligated by the lease to fix the plane, the complaint said. And, the plaintiffs alleged, Cozen failed to advise Blue Water that because the firm represented Aero Ways, representing Blue Water would be a conflict of interest.

When Global, the insurer, had a change of heart and offered to replace the broken plane wing, Cozen O'Connor requested an appraisal of the plane, the complaint said, which Global took as a rejection of the offer.

The plane still has not been repaired, the complaint said.

Daniel Harrington of Cozen O'Connor, who is representing the firm, declined to comment on the complaint.

Clifford Haines, who is representing the plaintiffs, did not return a call seeking comment Thursday. Robert Williams of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, who is representing Global, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Original article ➤

Dixon Municipal Airport (C73), Lee County, Illinois: Board decides fill-ups won’t fix revenue issue

DIXON – The Dixon Municipal Airport Board looked into ways to boost fuel sales Thursday to help get the facility closer to breaking even, but decided that avenue was a no-go.

The goal during the past year has been to find ways to improve the airport and make it as self sufficient as possible, and the city spent about $25,000 on a consultant in 2016 to conduct a feasibility study on how to do that and to determine whether it was better off shutting it down.

Ron Price, principle of Florida-based QED Airport and Aviation Consultants, gave different combinations of options the airport could try, such as instituting different management styles and allowing third parties to build private hangars.

Included in all the recommendations was to pursue aggressive fuel pricing – basically, buying more, selling it for less and drawing a more pilots looking for the best bargain.

The problem with that is the airport already keeps prices down to compete with neighbors, and buying more wouldn’t necessarily translate into selling more unless it was heavily promoted, board member Dave Flenner said.

“It’s an impasse where there’s no real gain one way or the other,” board member Dave Flenner said.

The board discussed whether it would be worth it to have the city buy the fuel in larger quantities instead of the fixed-base operator Clay Breneman, owner of Breneman Aircraft Services who handles fuel sales, but there’s no guarantee of savings.

The airport sold about 6,500 gallons of fuel last year. To buy in bulk, it would need to order at least 8,500 gallons, which would probably save them around 10 cents a gallon, but that still wouldn’t be enough of a discount to draw pilots going out of their way to gas up, board member Brian Brown said.

Another problem: The fuel’s shelf-life is about 9 months.

Breneman said he would buy a full load if it would sell, but that’s not likely.

The board approved a recommendation to the City Council that there would be no gain for the aggressive fuel pricing model.

The board also ...

• Said talks about sharing grant funds with the Whiteside County Airport are still on hold and that Mayor Li Arellano Jr. is looking into whether a partnership could lead to economic development opportunities.

• Discussed moving forward with replacing the lighting on its main runway; the project will go to bid in October with most of the cost being covered by Federal Aviation Administration grant dollars.

• Discussed the possibility of having a flea market in front of the airport hosted by Amy Fenwick, owner of Roxie’s Boutique.

Original article can be found here ➤

Clark County, Washington: Sheriff's Office testing unmanned aircraft systems to fight crime

CLARK COUNTY, Wash. — The Clark County Sheriff's Office showed off a new crime fighting tool Thursday - unmanned aircraft systems.

According to Deputy Jason Granneman, the aircraft will be used for very specific incidents. It won't be used it as a surveillance tool over the public.

"If we have an outstanding subject, if we have an armed felon that’s running from us, of course you can’t see everything from the ground, if you have that aerial perspective, we could see perhaps where that person ran to," he explained. "It’s very important for the public to know that we’re just not out flying these around just every day and doing massive surveillance. We use these for very specific applications."

They'll also use them during emergency situations.

"If we do have a shooting just occurred and we have somebody on the run, we’re going to put those up right away because there’s a real obvious public safety issue," Granneman said. "We’re not using them to just surveil the county because we have too many people and too much time, they’re going to be used very specifically."

And don't call it a drone!

"Drones typically, people kind of have the connotation to the military. and so we don’t fly military drones ," Granneman explained. "In fact, the UAS devices that we use, any one of you can buy."

Story and video ➤

Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport (KJVL), Janesville, Rock County, Wisconsin: Airport seeks $750,000 to replace 60-year-old hangars

JANESVILLE -- Ron Burdick has been asking for a replacement for 60-year-old airplane hangars at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport for five years. So far, county leaders have said no.

The latest proposal is for a $750,000 structure to replace a metal building with an asphalt floor from the 1950s.

The hangars are storage areas for small, private airplanes -- one-engine or small two-engine planes, said Airport Manager Ron Burdick.

County Administrator Josh Smith said he has not recommended a new hangar in the two budgets since he became county administrator, but it's too early to say what he might decide for the 2018 budget.

The problem is cost. Given the lease rates for plane storage, the payback on a construction loan could be upwards of 50 years, Smith said.

Burdick said any calculation of costs should include revenue from plane storage over the decades.

“How many times have they paid for themselves?” he said.

Burdick reached out to businesses that might be interested in taking over the hangar business, as has happened elsewhere, but so far: “nothing like a high degree of interest,” Smith said.

“I think it would be great if we had somebody from the private sector to do that, but we haven't found it, yet,” Smith said.

The hangars are called T-hangars because of the airplane-shaped spaces where eight to 10 planes are stored, Burdick said.

Burdick's plan is for a new hangar to be built to the southwest of two hangars that were built in 1980. The airport has two other hangars, built in the 1950s, and one of those would be torn down once the new hangar, with the same number of storage units, is ready.

The new hangar would have a concrete floor, heat and rest rooms. The old ones are metal sheds with asphalt floors that are crumbling, with no heat and no rest rooms, Burdick said.

Keeping the hangar temperature at 45 degrees would remove the need to preheat engines before use, Burdick said.

The old buildings are “just a metal box,” and the metal is rusting, Burdick said.

A new hangar would feature larger storage spaces because planes' wingspans have grown over the years, Burdick said.

The four 10-unit T-hangars bring in $109,800 a year when all spaces are leased, Burdick said

Current rental rates for 20 smaller units is $216 per month. Ten medium-sized units go for $230 per month, and 10 large units cost $253 per month.

Those are rates dictated by the market based on square footage, Burdick said.

The monthly rate in the proposed larger hanger would be about $307, or $3,693 a year, Burdick said.

Getting the private sector to build hangars for small planes is difficult, in part, because businesses would have a hard time recouping their investment, and they would be competing with the county's older, smaller, lower-priced units, Burdick said.

The county has discussed selling its hangars, but the income from leasing the land is considerably lower than the income from the hangar leases, Burdick said.

On the other hand, selling the hangars would reduce county maintenance costs, Burdick said.

The airport is “viewed largely as an asst by the local business community,” Smith said.

Smith noted SC Aviation, which provides private jet charters, expanded with a $37 million investment in 2015.

“It's a positive asset to the community, and with the economy improving, I think business out there improves as well,” Smith said.

At the same time, the airport has maintenance needs, including an expensive reconstruction of the runways, which probably will be needed “within the next several years,” Smith said.

If the county doesn't go for Burdick's plan when the budget is considered this fall, “then we'll get to put it on another year,” Burdick said.

Original article can be found here ➤

Piper PA-18AS-125 Super Cub, N1905A: Fatal accident occurred August 23, 2017 in Tyonek, Alaska

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Anchorage, Alaska
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Tyonek, AK
Accident Number: ANC17FA049
Date & Time: 08/23/2017, 2245 AKD
Registration: N1905A
Aircraft: PIPER PA-18AS
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Miscellaneous/other
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


On August 23, 2017, about 2245 Alaska daylight time (AKDT), a wheel-equipped Piper PA-18AS-125 airplane, N1905A, impacted remote, tree-covered terrain about 31 miles northwest of Tyonek, Alaska. The private pilot sustained fatal injuries and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 visual flight rules (VFR) personal flight. Night instrument meteorological conditions were present along the airplane's route of flight at the time of the accident and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from a remote airstrip near Telaquana Lake, located in the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, about 2130, and was destined for Merrill Field (MRI), Anchorage, Alaska.

The pilot's wife reported that the pilot was returning from a solo Dall sheep hunting trip in the Alaska Range. The pilot departed from MRI on August 19 about 1630 and arrived at the remote airstrip about 1930. She reported that the length of the hunting trip was open-ended with no set return date.

The pilot placed three separate phone calls via satellite phone to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Kenai Flight Service Station (FSS), Kenai, Alaska, on the night of the accident requesting weather information for his route of flight. The Kenai FSS is located at the Kenai Municipal Airport (PAEN), Kenai. Each call was dropped due to interruptions of satellite coverage. The same flight service specialist (FS-S) spoke with the pilot on all three occasions. The public docket contains the transcripts for each phone call.

The first phone call was at 1950 and lasted about 1 minute. The pilot reported that he was south of Merrill Pass and requested an outlook briefing for flight via Merrill Pass to Anchorage for the night of the accident and for the following day. He asked, "whether or not it's going to remain VFR from Merrill Pass back into Anchorage tonight and into tomorrow." The FS-S provided the terminal forecast for Anchorage before the call was dropped.

The second phone call, at 1956, lasted about 3 minutes. The pilot reported that he was near Merrill Pass on the west side and requested a "quick weather brief" asking if VFR flight from Merrill Pass or Telaquana Pass to Anchorage would be recommended for that night. The FS-S provided the Merrill Pass forecast, which called for marginal VFR (MVFR) conditions, the area forecast (FA), and the Anchorage terminal forecast before the call was dropped.

About 2100, the pilot contacted his wife via a satellite phone and asked her to retrieve weather information for a flight to MRI. She instructed the pilot to call her back in about 5 minutes; however, the pilot never called back.

The third and final phone call to the FSS was at 2108 and lasted about 10 minutes. The pilot asked if VFR flight across the Alaska Range or in the Merrill Pass area was recommended that night. The FS-S responded by saying, "…I don't have anything that's giving me a good report…" and provided the pilot with information from the current FA, which included the current airman's meteorological information (AIRMET) and regional ceiling, visibility, precipitation information, and information from a pilot report (PIREP) advising that VFR was not recommended on the east side of Lake Clark Pass (about 34 miles southwest of the accident site).

The pilot again asked about conditions at Merrill Pass, to which the FS-S responded with a comprehensive description of what she was seeing from the FAA Merrill Pass "low" weather camera. The FS-S indicated the FAA Merrill Pass "high" weather camera was out of service. Following a request from the pilot, she also provided a comprehensive description of what she was seeing on the FAA Beluga weather camera. Despite being asked several times about Merrill Pass, the FS-S did not provide the pilot with the forecast for instrument flight rules (IFR) ceilings, rain, and mist that was indicated for the pass in the current FA.

Despite being asked directly for turbulence information for the Cook Inlet and Matanuska-Susitna Valley area, the FS-S did not provide the pilot with the forecast for isolated moderate turbulence below 6,000 ft above mean sea level (msl) for the region found in the current FA. Additionally, the FS-S did not provide the pilot with the current Kenai weather radar information.

The pilot indicated that he was not in a hurry to get home, and then asked about conditions the next day. The FS-S provided a synoptic summary of frontal systems and expected precipitation and wind and indicated that she was, "…not seeing anything too much for the passes." The pilot requested forecast information valid for 24-48 hours from that time. The FS-S stated "…that occluded front basically right now still over Kodiak Island there pushing into uh Cook Inlet/Susitna Valley definitely got your rain looking at that low coming right over by four o'clock in the afternoon tomorrow right over us. I'm showing IFR conditions right in your area where you're coming from so that's around four o'clock in the afternoon now tomorrow okay that occluded front is going to be right over the top of us into Prince William Sound there's going to be isolated areas where it's going to be in the clear but they're talking about the drying of those winds the Turnagain Arm winds there drying out that moisture at the same time you got those winds cause you got turbulence going to be in the forecast there…"

The pilot asked, "So it's going to get worse is what you're saying?" to which the FS-S responded, "yeah basically…" The FS-S then stated, "…I didn't know how else to relay that to you I just cannot tell you yeah go ahead and try to come home through Merrill Pass it's not looking too good especially what they said about the Alaskan range through the Aleutian areas there so I would not chance that." The pilot then indicated his intent to, "probably go tonight" and started to file a VFR flight plan, but the call was lost before the flight plan was completed.

About 2220, the pilot's wife received a text message from the pilot stating that he was flying over Kenibuna Lake and that he should be home around 2300. She did not receive any further communications from the pilot. She reported that he was not rushed to return home nor was there any sort of emergency that required him to depart when he did.

Upon departing from the airstrip and heading to the northeast, the route of flight was over mountainous terrain. Continuing east, the route was overwater as the airplane crossed Kenibuna Lake and Chakachamna Lake. Once past the mountainous terrain and continuing to the east, the area consisted mainly of hills before reaching the Cook Inlet and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. An overview of the route of flight, along with the remote airstrip the pilot departed from, the accident site, and the destination airport is shown in figure 1. Figure 2 shows the last portion of the flight.

Figure 1 – Map of the route of flight, obtained from the onboard GPS unit (courtesy of the NTSB).

Figure 2 – Map of the last portion of the route of flight, obtained from the onboard GPS unit (courtesy of the NTSB). 

Merrill Pass, which is depicted on a VFR sectional map, is shown in figure 3.

Figure 3 – Map showing the location of Merrill Pass (courtesy of 

About 2245, the U.S. Air Force Alaska Rescue Coordination Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, received a 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal from the airplane. The wreckage was located the next morning in remote, tree-covered terrain about 1/4 mile south of the Chakachatna River as shown in figure 4.

Figure 4 – Aerial view of the wreckage (courtesy of the NTSB).


The pilot's wife reported that he was a conservative and safe pilot who was cognizant of the dangers of flying in Alaska, particularly with bad weather in the mountains. She stated that he always carried a satellite phone when he flew and would always call for a weather briefing.

In addition, she stated that the pilot had no issues with alcohol, drugs, fatigue, or stress. She further reported that the pilot was a fit, healthy person and lived an active lifestyle.

The pilot did not hold an instrument rating. A review of the pilot's logbook, as of the last entry on July 20, 2017, showed no actual instrument flight experience, 23 hours of simulated instrument experience, and 66.1 hours of night experience.


The FS-S was based at the Kenai FSS in Kenai. Her air traffic control experience began in the U.S. Navy where she served as an air traffic controller (ATC) from 1990 to 1994. Between 1998 and 1999, she was training as a control tower operator with the FAA. From 2000 to 2005, she worked as a FS-S with the FAA. From 2005 until 2006, she worked as a certified professional controller at an FAA approach control center. She worked outside of aviation from 2007 until August 2016 when she was rehired by the FAA as a FS-S and began working in Kenai.

The FS-S had completed all required training for her duties. She possessed a second-class FAA medical certificate and her last ATC physical examination was conducted in October 2016.


The airplane was not equipped for instrument flight and did not have an onboard weather system. An examination of the airplane's maintenance records revealed no evidence of uncorrected mechanical discrepancies with the airframe and engine.


An Automated Weather Observing System was located at PAEN and was located about 44 miles southeast of the accident location at an elevation of about 100 ft msl. Automated reports from PAEN during the times surrounding the accident time are as follows:

[2053 AKDT] METAR PAEN 240453Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM OVC060 12/12 A2958 RMK AO2 RAE34 SLP017 P0001 T01220122 TSNO=

[2153 AKDT] METAR PAEN 240553Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM -RA FEW050 OVC060 12/12 A2958 RMK AO2 RAB0458 SLP017 P0000 60009 T01220117 10133 20122 56008 TSNO=

[2253 AKDT] METAR PAEN 240653Z AUTO 00000KT 5SM -RA BR SCT050 OVC060 12/12 A2957 RMK AO2 SLP016 P0004 T01170117 TSNO=

[2353 AKDT] METAR PAEN 240753Z AUTO 26003KT 5SM -RA BR SCT049 OVC055 12/12 A2957 RMK AO2 SLP015 P0006 T01170117 TSNO=

At 2253, PAEN reported a calm wind, visibility of 5 miles, light rain, mist, scattered clouds at 5,000 ft above ground level (agl), ceiling overcast at 6,000 ft agl, temperature of 12° Celsius (C) and a dew point temperature of 12°C, altimeter setting of 29.57 inches of mercury; remarks included: station with a precipitation discriminator, 0.04 inches of precipitation since 2153 AKDT, no thunderstorm information.

An AIRMET advisory SIERRA for "mountains occasionally obscured in clouds/precipitation" was issued at 2010 and was active for the accident site at the accident time.

An Area Forecast that included the forecast for the accident location was issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) Alaska Aviation Weather Unit (AAWU) at 2010. The Area Forecast included the AIRMET information, and for the region (excluding the following Alaska/Aleutian Range region) forecasted few clouds at 1,500 ft msl, scattered clouds at 2,500 ft msl, broken to overcast clouds at 4,500 ft msl, with clouds tops to 15,000 ft msl and clouds layered about that to flight level 260, with light rain, occasional broken clouds at 2,500 ft msl with light rain and mist. Along the Alaska and Aleutian Ranges, it forecasted occasional broken clouds at 1,500 ft msl and visibilities 3-5 statute miles and light rain and mist, and isolated ceilings below 1,000 ft agl with visibilities below 3 statute miles with moderate rain and mist. For Merrill Pass, the Area Forecast forecasted IFR ceilings with moderate rain and mist. For the region, the Area Forecast forecasted isolated moderate turbulence below 6,000 ft msl and isolated moderate icing between 8,000-15,000 ft msl with the freezing level at 6,000 ft msl.

Various graphics were issued by the AAWU applicable to the accident time. The graphics identified IFR or MVFR conditions (as shown in figure 5), isolated moderate icing between 8,000 to 15,000 ft msl, isolated moderate turbulence below 6,000 ft msl, and light or moderate precipitation (as shown in figure 6) at the accident location, at or near the accident time.

Figure 5 – Flying weather graphic issued at 2000 and valid between 2000 on August 23, 2017, and 0200 on August 24, 2017 (courtesy of the AAWU).

Figure 6 – Surface Chart issued at 2100 and valid for 2200 (courtesy of the AAWU). 

WSR-88D Level-II weather radar imagery was obtained from near Kenai (PAHG). PAHG was located approximately 34 miles southeast of the accident site at an elevation of about 242 ft msl. Assuming standard refraction and considering the 0.95° beam width for the WSR-88D radar beam, the PAHG 1.4° tilt would have "seen" altitudes above the accident location of between about 4,300 and 7,800 ft msl. The PAHG imagery surrounding the accident period identified reflectivity features consistent with light to extreme intensities of precipitation in the region and adjacent to the accident site as shown in figure 7.

Figure 7 – PAHG 1.4° Level-II reflectivity product from a sweep initiated at 2245:47 (courtesy of the NTSB).

WSR-88D Level-III composite weather radar imagery from PAHG for the times surrounding the third Kenai FSS telephone weather briefing was obtained. This composite imagery identified an extensive area of reflectivity surrounding the accident location and extending east through the Anchorage area as shown in figure 8.

Figure 8 – PAHG Level-III composite reflective image, from a volume scan initiated at 2056 (courtesy of the NTSB). The white dot denotes the accident location.

Astronomical Conditions

The astronomical data obtained from the U.S. Naval Observatory for the accident site, indicated that sunset was 2141, end of civil twilight was 2231, moonrise was 0918, and moonset was 2226. The phase of the moon was listed as waxing crescent with 5 percent of the moon's visible disk illuminated.


On August 24, the NTSB IIC and the Alaska State Troopers (AST) traveled to the accident site via helicopter. The wreckage was located at the base of a 100-foot-tall cottonwood tree at an elevation of about 455 ft msl as shown in figure 9.

Figure 9 – View of the empennage and the right wing (courtesy of the NTSB).

All portions of the airplane were accounted for at the wreckage site. The fuselage, both wings, and the cockpit were severely damaged with extensive deformation. Flight control continuity could not be established onsite due to extensive impact damage. The engine and propeller were buried underneath the airframe. Various hunting and camping gear were scattered throughout the wreckage.

The wreckage was recovered and transported to a secure facility in Wasilla, Alaska, for further examination. During the examination, no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airframe and engine were noted. The total estimated weight of the cargo recovered from the wreckage was about 178 lbs.


The Alaska State Medical Examiner, Anchorage, Alaska, conducted an autopsy of the pilot. The cause of death was attributed to multiple blunt force injuries.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Research Sciences Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on specimens from the pilot; testing was negative for ethanol and drugs. Carbon monoxide and cyanide tests were not performed.


The pilot's cell phone and a GPS device were extracted from the wreckage and submitted to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Division, Washington, DC, for examination. The cell phone sustained severe impact damage. The data on the microSD card was not pertinent to the investigation.

The GPS unit, a Garmin Aera 660, sustained severe impact damage. Data was recovered from the device. This data included parameters such as date, time, longitude, latitude, airspeed, altitude, and track as recorded by the device. Graphical overlays, such as figure 1 and figure 2, using the recovered data and Google Earth Pro were generated for the accident flight route. Data obtained from an onboard GPS unit for the last several minutes of flight showed the airplane conduct two descending, spiraling turns. The airplane continued to descend before the data terminated. The airspeed during the last several minutes of the flight ranged from 49 knots to 82 knots.

Refer to the Vehicle Recorder Specialist Factual Report in the public docket for additional information.


FSS Preflight Briefing

The FAA Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), discusses briefings that the FSS can provide and states in part:

Flight Service Stations (FSS) are the primary source for obtaining preflight briefings and inflight weather information. Flight Service Specialists are qualified and certificated by the NWS as Pilot Weather Briefers. They are not authorized to make original forecasts, but are authorized to translate and interpret available forecasts and reports directly into terms describing the weather conditions which you can expect along your flight route and at your destination. Available aviation weather reports, forecasts and aviation weather charts are displayed at each FSS, for pilot use. Pilots should feel free to use these self briefing displays where available, or to ask for a briefing or assistance from the specialist on duty.

Three basic types of preflight briefings are available to serve your specific needs. These are: Standard Briefing, Abbreviated Briefing, and Outlook Briefing. You should specify to the briefer the type of briefing you want, along with your appropriate background information. This will enable the briefer to tailor the information to your intended flight.

The AIM discusses the various of aspects of a standard briefing which is provided to a pilot and states in part:

Adverse Conditions. Significant meteorological and/or aeronautical information that might influence the pilot to alter or cancel the proposed flight; for example, hazardous weather conditions, airport closures, air traffic delays, etc. Pilots should be especially alert for current or forecast weather that could reduce flight minimums below VFR or IFR conditions. Pilots should also be alert for any reported or forecast icing if the aircraft is not certified for operating in icing conditions. Flying into areas of icing or weather below minimums could have disastrous results."

VFR Flight Not Recommended. When VFR flight is proposed and sky conditions or visibilities are present or forecast, surface or aloft, that, in the briefer's judgment, would make flight under VFR doubtful, the briefer will describe the conditions, describe the affected locations, and use the phrase "VFR flight not recommended." This recommendation is advisory in nature. The final decision as to whether the flight can be conducted safely rests solely with the pilot. Upon receiving a "VFR flight not recommended" statement, the non−IFR rated pilot will need to make a "go or no go" decision. This decision should be based on weighing the current and forecast weather conditions against the pilot's experience and ratings. The aircraft's equipment, capabilities and limitations should also be considered. NOTE− Pilots flying into areas of minimal VFR weather could encounter unforecasted lowering conditions that place the aircraft outside the pilot's ratings and experience level. This could result in spatial disorientation and/or loss of control of the aircraft.

Area Forecast

The NWS AAWU publication, "A Pilot's Guide to Aviation Weather Services in Alaska," discusses area forecasts, including the mountain pass forecasts, and states in part:

FAs are routinely issued for the entire state of Alaska including coastal waters (to 100 miles offshore) except for the Aleutian Islands west of Attu. All Alaskan FAs are produced by the AAWU located at the Weather Service Forecast Office in Anchorage. The FA is a 12-hour forecast of expected large scale weather conditions. In addition, the FA includes an outlook in categorical terms for the 18-hour period following the valid time of the forecast. Since the FA primarily deals with widespread significant weather features, it may not include localized situations which affect aircraft operations. This is particularly true in areas where weather observations are sparse. The FA serves as a flight planning and pilot weather briefing aid for general aviation pilots, civil and military aviation operations, and FAA briefers. The FA is a product which includes a SYNOPSIS, all Flight Precautions (AIRman's METerological Information [AIRMETs]/SIGnificant METerological Information [SIGMETs]), IFR/VFR Clouds/Weather, designated mountain PASS forecasts, Icing, and Turbulence.

The designated PASS forecasts are permanently assigned to one of the sectors that the pass connects, i.e., ATIGUN and ANAKTUVUK passes are assigned to the North Slopes of the Brooks Range Sector. The Alaska Mountain PASS Forecast included in the FA are:



Southeast Alaska: WHITE and CHILKOOT.

The PASS forecast will indicate whether the predominant conditions through the PASS are: VFR, MVFR, or IFR and if the ceiling or precipitation are the reason. The forecast will also indicate turbulence. For example: ATIGUN...IFR CIG BR PORTAGE...VFR TURB. The designator TURB is used when the turbulence is forecast to be moderate or greater through the pass.

Accident Climatic and Topographic Region

The NWS AAWU has published "A Pilot's Guide to Aviation Weather Services in Alaska." This document mentions that the state of Alaska can be divided into six climatic and topographic regions for aviation weather purposes. For the region the accident flight occurred, the document states in part:

Cook Inlet, Susitna Valley and the Copper River Basin are the home for a large number of Alaskans. This area encircles some of the highest mountains in North America. Summers are mild and winters are cool with moderate snowfall. Although winds are generally light to moderate, wind speeds reaching over 100 miles an hour occur infrequently. Frequent VFR weather conditions occur in the lowlands with frequent MVFR/IFR conditions in the adjacent mountain passes.

Weather Briefings

FAA Advisory Circular 00-45H Aviation Weather Services discusses weather briefings and states in part:

Prior to every flight, pilots should gather all information vital to the nature of the flight. This includes a weather briefing obtained by the pilot from an approved weather source, via the Internet, and/or from an FSS specialist.

The FSS' purpose is to serve the aviation community. Pilots should not hesitate to ask questions and discuss factors they do not fully understand. The briefing should be considered complete only when the pilot has a clear picture of what weather to expect. Pilots should also make a final weather check immediately before departure, when possible.

FS-S Checklists

FAA Order JO 7110.10Z Flight Services lists weather display products for a FS-S to use in their duties along with the required items for a pilot briefing (standard briefing, abbreviated briefing, and an outlook briefing). A review of FAA Order JO 7110.10Z found no mention of a current checklist for weather display products and the required items for a pilot briefing to be stationed at each FS-S position at an FSS.

Definition of Pertinent

A review of FAA Order JO 7110.10Z Flight Services found that "pertinent" means directly and significantly to the matter at hand. No further information was found in FAA Order JO 7110.10Z regarding the definition of "pertinent" with regards to weather data and pilot briefings for a FS-S in their duties.

Pilot Report Collection

During the weather briefing, the pilot indicated that he was at Telequana Pass and reported, "it's clear as can be." There is no evidence that this PIREP was recorded and disseminated by the FS-S. FAA Order JO 7110.10Z, Flight Services, discusses the responsibility of FS-S with PIREPs and states:

FSS specialists must actively solicit PIREPs in conjunction with preflight and inflight communications with pilots and assure timely dissemination of the PIREP information. Each facility should make special efforts to obtain PIREPs on departure and arrival weather conditions at airports within their flight plan area.

For additional information on the importance of PIREPs, refer to NTSB Special Investigative Report 17/02, Improving Pilot Weather Report Submission and Dissemination to Benefit Safety in the National Airspace System and NTSB Safety Alert SA-064 Pilot Weather Reports (PIREPs): Pay It Forward.

Composite Radar Reflectivity Information

There was no explicit requirement in FAA Order JO 7110.10Z Flight Services that required an FS-S to issue radar reflectively information to pilots during a standard briefing. The order does not discuss the benefits of using "composite" weather radar imagery during weather briefings.

Alaska Mountainous Terrain Product

There is currently no FAA product that contains a standardized extent and location of commonly used mountain ranges and mountain passes in Alaska for aviation operations. These commonly used mountain ranges and mountain passes are routinely referenced in NWS forecast products, referenced in pilot weather briefings by FS-S, and also referenced in PIREPs.

Spatial Disorientation

The FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute's publication, "Introduction to Aviation Physiology," defines spatial disorientation as a "loss of proper bearings; state of mental confusion as to position, location, or movement relative to the position of the earth." This document lists flight factors contributing to spatial disorientation: changes in angular acceleration, flight in IFR conditions, low-level flight over water, frequent transfer from VFR to IFR conditions, and unperceived changes in aircraft attitude. This document concludes with, "anytime there is low or no visual cue coming from outside of the aircraft, you are a candidate for spatial disorientation."

The FAA's Airplane Flying Handbook, FAA-H-8083-3A, describes some hazards associated with flying when the ground or horizon are obscured. The handbook states, in part:

The vestibular sense (motion sensing by the inner ear) in particular tends to confuse the pilot. Because of inertia, the sensory areas of the inner ear cannot detect slight changes in the attitude of the airplane, nor can they accurately sense attitude changes that occur at a uniform rate over a period of time. On the other hand, false sensations are often generated; leading the pilot to believe the attitude of the airplane has changed when in fact, it has not. These false sensations result in the pilot experiencing spatial disorientation.

Basic Flight Physiology by Richard Reinhart discusses spatial disorientation. This book discusses incapacitation resulting from spatial disorientation and states in part:

Spatial disorientation, as described here, becomes a serious source of disorientation, especially in instrument conditions. The physiologically impaired pilot (tired, hypoxic, using over the counter drugs, etc.) will lose his or her tolerance to suppressing input from peripheral vision. The pilot can quickly become incapacitated as a result of conflicting spatial senses.

Sheep Hunting and Fatigue

The Journal of Mountain Hunting has published an article, "So You Wanna Hunt Sheep?" by Dustin Roe. This article discusses the various demanding aspects of hunting for sheep in mountainous terrain and states in part:

Sheep hunting is without question of the most physically and mentally demanding hunting experiences available to the mountain hunter.

Mentally preparing for significant physical exertion, extreme fatigue, and emotional highs and lows will definitely increase your odds.

The American Hunter has published an article, "So You Want to Hunt Sheep..." by Tyler Freel. This article also discusses the various demanding aspects of hunting for sheep in mountainous terrain and states in part:

You first must accept that "comfortable" is a relative term. To put it mildly, you must be ready to endure various levels of discomfort and keep going. You will live entirely out of your backpack, sleeping on the ground, and often will be cold, wet, hungry and exhausted, all at the same time. You may have to spend hours hunkered under a rock to stay out of a driving rain or wake up to 12 inches of snow on your tent in mid-August. You might have to spend a night away from your tent and sleeping bag because a ram pins you down, and you may make several thousand-foot climbs only to have the ram you are after vanish into thin air. Some forms of hunting could be referred to as "casual," but not sheep hunting. It will push you beyond what you thought your limits were, and you will question whose bright idea it was to ever get involved in it.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 35, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 11/18/2014
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 05/09/2017
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 1071.1 hours (Total, all aircraft), 606.2 hours (Total, this make and model)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: PIPER
Registration: N1905A
Model/Series: PA-18AS 125
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1952
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 18-1740
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 07/06/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1499 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 4608.6 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C126 installed, activated, aided in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-320-A2B
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 160 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: PAEN, 92 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 44 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0653 UTC
Direction from Accident Site:148° 
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 5000 ft agl
Visibility:  5 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 6000 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: Calm /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.57 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 12°C / 12°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: Light - Rain; Moderate - Mist
Departure Point: Remote Airstrip, AK
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: ANCHORAGE, AK (MRI)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:2130 AKD 
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

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

Latitude, Longitude: 61.194444, -152.027500 (est)

NTSB Identification: ANC17FA049
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 23, 2017 in Tyonek, AK
Aircraft: PIPER PA-18, registration: N1905A
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 23, 2017, about 2245 Alaska daylight time, a tundra tire-equipped Piper PA-18 airplane, N1905A, was destroyed after impacting remote tree-covered terrain while en route to Merrill Field, Anchorage, Alaska about 31 miles northwest of Tyonek, Alaska. The pilot, the only occupant, died at the scene. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 visual flight rules personal flight. Dark night, visual meteorological conditions were reported at the Kenai Municipal Airport, Kenai, Alaska about 8 minutes after the accident time, and no flight plan was filed. The Kenai Municipal Airport is located about 44 miles southeast of the accident site. 

The flight originated from a remote airstrip in mountainous terrain near Telaquana Lake, located in the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. 

In a conversion with the wife of the pilot on August 28, she reported to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) that the purpose of the flight was for a solo sheep hunting trip. The pilot departed from Merrill Field on August 19 about 1630 and arrived at the remote airstrip about 1930. The wife reported the length of the hunting trip was open ended, with no set return date. On August 23, about 2100 the pilot contacted the wife via a satellite phone and asked her to retrieve various weather information. The wife instructed the pilot to call her back in about 5 minutes and she would provide him the requested weather information. The pilot never called the wife back. About 2220, the wife reported that she received a text message from the pilot stating he was flying over Kenibuna Lake and he should be home around 2300. 

Sunset on the day of the accident was 2137; the end of civil twilight was 2227.

About 2245, the U.S. Air Force Alaska Rescue Coordination Center received a 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal. 

On August 24, a U.S. Air Force HH-60G helicopter was dispatched to the 406 MHz ELT coordinates and confirmed the location of the wreckage about 0625, located in remote-tree covered terrain about 1 quarter mile south of the Chakachatna River. On August 24, the NTSB IIC and the Alaska State Troopers traveled to the accident site via helicopter. The wreckage was recovered and transported to a secure facility for future examination of the airframe and engine.

Jason J. Walkush 
March 09, 1982 ~ August 23, 2017

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Update - Aug. 25., 3:45 p.m.:

On Friday, at approximately 3:25 p.m., the State Medical Examiner's Office identified the deceased pilot as 35-year-old Jason Walkush of Anchorage, according to the Alaska State Troopers. Additionally, AST says next-of-kin have been notified.

According to NTSB's Clint Johnson, the body was recovered Thursday evening. And now, the investigation has entered the "wreckage recovery phase," he said.

In the upcoming week, Johnson said NTSB will attempt to arrange a helicopter recovery of the plane wreckage. From there, he said the parts will be dropped off in either Anchorage, or Wasilla, where the investigation will continue.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Update - Aug. 24., 4:05 p.m.:

NTSB received notification of a plane crash, between Tyonek and Port Alsworth, at approximately 11 p.m. Wednesday, according to NTSB Alaska Region Chief Clint Johnson. He confirmed the death of the pilot, after the Rescue Coordination Center arrived on scene Thursday afternoon.

More specifically, the plane crashed about 50 miles west of Tyonek, near the east end of Chakachamna Lake, according to Johnson.

The identity of the pilot is not being released currently, as AST is still working on notifying next-of-kin, said Johnson. He was able to confirm that the pilot was the sole occupant of the plane.

Additionally, Johnson described the downed Piper PA-18 as being personal-use.

"Things are very preliminary at this point," said Johnson. "We're tying to put those pieces of the puzzle together, but we just started the investigation."

While NTSB does not yet know how, or why, the plane crashed yesterday evening, Johnson did explain that rescue teams were able to locate the aircraft, because the plane emitted a "406 ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) hit."

By tomorrow morning, Johnson is hopeful that investigators will have more information about the crash.

"State Troopers and NTSB are actually on scene, as we speak right now," Johnson told KTUU. "They will be there pretty much all day recovering the remains and also starting our initial investigation."

This is a developing story and will be updated with further information.

Original Story - Aug. 24, 12:47 p.m.:

A plane has crashed between Tyonek and Port Alsworth and trooper helicopters are en route to locate the sole occupant aboard.

The plane went down sometime on Wednesday and did receive a search and rescue call overnight.

"There's a lot that we don't know right now," said Clint Johnson, Alaska chief for the National Transportation Safety Bureau.

"Probably about three minutes ago, the trooper helicopters took off to head to the crash site," Johnson said Thursday afternoon.

Right now, the identity and condition of the pilot and sole occupant are not yet being disclosed. The damage to the plane is not known.

The plane in question, a Piper PA-18 Super Cub, is "a very very popular aircraft in Alaska," Johnson said.

The cause of the crash is not immediately available, but Johnson noted that weather in the region is not favorable and has slightly slowed the investigation.

While the general area of the crash is known, investigators do not have a concrete location of the downed aircraft. The plane's flight path and departure location are also not available at this time.

Original article can be found here ➤