Sunday, September 03, 2017

Boeing-Stearman PT-17, N52813: Accident occurred September 03, 2017 at Pioneer Airport (WS17), Oshkosh, Winnebago County, Wisconsin

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA524
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, September 03, 2017 in Oshkosh, WI
Aircraft: BOEING A75N1(PT17), registration: N52813
Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot of the tailwheel-equipped biplane reported that, during the landing roll, about half way down the grass runway, the biplane "very quickly" became upside down. After exiting the biplane, he examined the runway and saw where the propeller had dug in and viewed skid marks in the grass "where it was obvious that the brakes had been applied and locked up." Subsequently, the airplane sustained substantial damage to the vertical and horizontal stabilizer.

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

The automated weather observation system about 1 nautical mile from the accident site reported, about the time of the accident, the wind was 230° at 7 knots, gusting to 14 knots. The pilot landed on runway 31.

OSHKOSH (WFRV) - The Oshkosh Police Department is happy to report that everyone is expected to be OK following a crash involving a single engine plane.

Deputies responded to Pioneer Airport around 4:00 PM Saturday on reports of a plane crash.

When they arrived, they found a fixed wing single engine plane upside down.

There were two occupants, one 56-years-old from Minnesota and the other 60-years-old and from Tennessee. Both were able to exit the aircraft safely.

One suffered minor injuries and asked to be taken to the hospital. It was not reported which individual that was.

The other occupant suffered no injuries and did not ask for medical attention.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were both contacted and will be assisting with the investigation into the cause of the crash.

Original article can be found here ➤

OSHKOSH (WLUK) -- The Oshkosh Police Department says a plane crashed at Pioneer Airport, in Oshkosh, Sunday evening.

When officials arrived on scene, the fixed wing single engine aircraft was upside down.

Two people inside the plane, a 56-year-old man from Minnesota and a 60-year-old man from Tennessee, managed to get out of it safely, according to police.

One of the men asked to be taken to the hospital. Police say the other man "did not require medical attention."

Oshkosh police say they contacted the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board to assist in the investigation and find out what caused the plane crash. 

Original article can be found here ➤

70 animals to arrive in Bay Area from Texas

(KTVU) - 70 animals are headed to the Bay Area from Texas today.

Hurricane Harvey's devastating impact near Houston caused many animals to be displaced and now, Bay Area shelters are opening their doors to them.

Charlie's Acres of Sonoma donated a private jet to travel to Austin to pick up 50 dogs and 20 cats. All of them are ready to be adopted.

They're expected to arrive in the Bay Area Sunday evening.

All of the animals were already in shelters, but the kennels in Texas are making space for animals left stranded during the hurricane. This allows them to have a temporary home in hopes of their owners finding them in the coming weeks. 

The animals will be distributed to the Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, Mad Dog Rescue, San Francisco SPCA, and Milo Foundation.

Story and photo gallery ➤

Pilots deliver baby formula, diapers during Operation Airdrop for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Americans who want to help those affected by the storm are in no short supply. Between 50-70 pilots flew their private planes to Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport on Friday for mission one of Operation Airdrop, a donation drop-off event.

A group of Fort Worth pilots organized the event in 72 hours through social media. Dozens of pilots landed their planes in the airport and personnel from The Salvation Army helped unload pounds of diapers and baby materials, toiletries and sleeping bags to distribute to storm victims.

General aviation pilot Fabio Labrada from the Fort Worth area navigated 2.5 hours in his plane to deliver 23 sleeping bags on Friday, and he also plans to deliver supplies to more airports with Operation Airdrop next week.

“This is nothing. Anybody would do it, I am sure,” Labrada said. “I feel so bad for the people who live here. They are having such a hard time, so this is the least I can do.”

Operation Airdrop was inspired by the Cajun Navy, said John Clay Wolfe, one of the event’s organizers and a radio personality with iHeart Media. The Operation Airdrop Facebook group was created on Aug. 29 by Wolfe and fellow pilot Doug Jackson, quickly attracting almost 300 private pilots—and counting—from across Texas and the U.S. who volunteered to fly donations to areas in need.

Operation Airdrop’s Conroe event is the first operation, Wolfe said, and the group intends to dispatch to Beaumont, Corpus Christi, Port Aransas, Rockport and other coastal communities more accessible by plane than by truck. Pilots will be accepting donations in their cities.

“Today is kind of a practice round, if you will, because Conroe is accessible by ground,” Wolfe said. “Our vision is to get these planes into areas that are inaccessible.”

Jeff Marquis, planning chief for The Salvation Army, said many items will be distributed to Salvation Army locations across the Greater Houston Area, where those in need can pick up what they need.

“The need just in Harris County is going to be massive for months going forward as we try to transition from immediate disaster relief to the recovery stage,” Marquis said. “We will be helping people get registered with FEMA, helping them go into their homes, and providing them with emotional support and spiritual care.”

While civilian pilots volunteered their time to disaster relief, across the airport, personnel from all military branches have been performing various rescue and relief operations by using the airport as base. James Brown, director of Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport, said operation numbers at the airport have increased greatly in the last week, as military personnel have flown large aircrafts filled with evacuees, supplies and more to and from the airport.

He said the airport has become a hub for disaster relief in the area, as it was able to remain open for the vast majority of the storm. The airport has provided access to the region while numerous other airports, including William P. Hobby Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport, temporarily shut-down operations during the storm, Brown said.

“An airport is a huge asset, especially in a time like this,” Brown said. “This airport has been able to play an important role in this relief effort, and we will continue to be here [for military personnel].”

Story and photo gallery ➤

General aviation pilots fly in donated supplies for Salvation Army

Tim Carpay, who flew from Arizona, unloads donations from his Cessna Conquest II aircraft during Operation Air Drop on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, at Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport. 

Glenn E. Smith Jr. and his pilot friends don't own trucks and they don't own boats, but what they do have are planes and a desire to help.

"We follow that old saying, 'Do what you can with what you've got where you are," Smith, an attorney for Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, said Friday after flying into the Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport from the Dallas area.

General aviation pilots from Iowa, Arizona, Virginia, North Carolina, Austin, Louisiana and the Dallas/Fort Worth area flew in diapers, baby formula, sleeping bags and toiletries for the Salvation Army to distribute in Harris, Liberty and Montgomery counties for those in need following Hurricane Harvey. Smith expected 60-80 pilots to land in Conroe Friday.

"I thought maybe we'd have 20 airplanes. I'm definitely surprised for something that is two days old," Smith said.

Volunteers Travis Forshee, left, and Robert Johnson, right, unload donations from a Cessna aircraft during Operation Air Drop on Friday at Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport.

The project was an effort that started Tuesday morning among Fort Worth-based pilots Smith, radio host John Clay Wolfe and Doug Jackson.

"You've got people who aren't in the Gulf Coast area who want to help," Smith said. "We've been sitting there watching TV for days and you want to do something."

They put together the Operation Airdrop group on Tuesday.

Smith reached out to the Salvation Army and they requested the four specific things they delivered.

On Wednesday morning, Aug. 30, the pilots put the word out via Facebook.

Through various airplane owner groups, donations were collected and the effort spread as more pilots learned of the need.

Also on Wednesday, some of the general aviation pilots were able to transport a Salvation Army employee to San Antonio so he could fly to Florida and bring back cots. A group of pilots also brought office supplies from Dallas that were needed by the Salvation Army.

Harper Goodwin, who flew from Arkansas, unloads donations from his Cessna 210 Turbo aircraft during Operation Air Drop on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, at Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport. 

This was before any of the airports were open and the planes could quickly get where trucks could not.

One pilot from the East Coast even brought down tire sealant needed in the Rockport area.

Wolfe, one of the pilots who flew in Wednesday, has a four-hour radio talk show that is broadcast on Saturday mornings on ESPN 97.5 and THE BUZZ 94.5. The show is broadcast in five states and 17 cities, including Conroe.

The group was hoping to use Wolfe's fan base to spread the word.

"I've got this big radio network and fan base, why don't we do something with it," Wolfe said.

And Friday's fly-in effort was put together even before the group could be advertised on his Saturday morning show.

Commercials will begin airing soon and a website has been set up,

Wolfe explained the thought was to list FBOs (Fixed Base Operators) where people can drop off donations and then the pilots will fly them where needed. Wolfe saw Friday's drop-off as just the beginning for Operation Airdrop and at some point felt like the operation could be set up to respond to any catastrophe in the country.

"Pilots are always looking for an excuse to fly and they all want to do something good," Wolfe said. "If you can buy their fuel (the pilots were given tax vouchers for their fuel), and give them an excuse to do something good, you're going to see a lot of people show up."

As the donations stacked up in the plane hangar, Salvation Army Lt. Jeffrey Marquis, who was deployed from Florida, called the effort amazing.

"When these type of massive events happen, you see the goodness of the American spirit come out," Marquis said. "It really is amazing. At a time when you're driving around and seeing this catastrophic situation for people, it would be so easy to get down and bombarded and wonder how on earth are we going to overcome this? When groups like these do these types of things, it lets you know that it's possible."

Marquis said the supplies flown in Friday will be distributed in the local Salvation Army coverage area of Harris, Liberty and Montgomery counties. However he noted that the items are most needed in Harris County right now.

For more information about Operation Airdrop, visit the group's Facebook page at or visit the website

For more about the Salvation Army, visit

Story and photo gallery ➤

Operation Airdrop

One of the aircraft from North Texas taking part in Operation Airdrop off loads at a small airport in the disaster zone. 

A small squadron of civilian, light aircraft filled the skies over the flooded areas of Houston, Conroe and East Texas Friday.  Between 50-70 pilots flew their private planes to Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport on Friday from Greenville and Commerce for Mission One of Operation Airdrop, an airlift event made up of pilots, aircraft and volunteers.  These heroes paid for fuel and provided aircraft.

A group of Fort Worth pilots organized the event in 72 hours through social media. Dozens of pilots landed their planes in the airport and personnel from The Salvation Army helped unload pounds of diapers and baby materials, toiletries and sleeping bags to distribute to storm victims.

Derek Price was one pilot based at Majors Field in Greenville.  Price reports “Just got back from another airdrop to Southeast Texas. Around 30 planes landed at a small country airport to deliver a mountain of supplies they needed on the ground.”  He went on to say “Light aircraft is not the most efficient way to deliver emergency supplies.  Medicine, for instance, is one thing that can be delivered swiftly”.  The aircraft overfly the clogged freeways and flooded rivers and streams.  They then land at small airports where volunteers unload and take the supplies by road or water to shelters where it is needed.

Russell Armstrong pilots a six-place airplane that is often found in the Alaskan bush.  The de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver can carry eight or nine times the amount of cargo of a Piper Cherokee.

Original article can be found here ➤

Another Peoria C-130 heads south to help with hurricanes

PEORIA — Yet another Peoria-based C-130H3 Hercules cargo plane has left to help with disaster response efforts.

The Illinois National Guard announced Sunday morning that the 182nd Airlift Wing, based at the Gen. Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport, sent the plane and its crew of seven to the the U.S. Virgin Islands to deliver key response capabilities to the islands ahead of Hurricane Irma which is headed in that direction.

The plane left at about midnight Saturday and flew to Colorado to pick up a National Guard Bureau Joint Enabling Team (JET) and then delivered it to the Virgin Islands. A JET assists in coordinating needed support to areas effected by natural disasters or other emergencies through advanced communications equipment and experts in disaster response operations, intelligence, logistics, personnel and public affairs, according to a national guard press release.

On Thursday, the first C-130 left Peoria and flew to Dallas where it has been participating in relief efforts in the wake of flooding and damage from Hurricane Harvey. As of early Saturday morning, that crew had transported more than 60 evacuees out of danger including 20 children, four disabled adults and some 3,000 pounds of personal belongings and had delivered more than 7,500 pounds of relief supplies and equipment, according to the Guard.

In addition, two guard members from Springfield’s 183rd Air Mobility Squadron flew to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida last week to help in an operations center that is coordinating the Air Force’s portion of the relief efforts. In all, 16 guard members are deployed.

Story and photo gallery ➤

Upper Peninsula Pilot in Texas helping with relief efforts

ESCANABA, Mich. (WLUC) - The personnel at Valley Med Flight and their parent company are at their best when things are bad and they are bad in Texas.

Patrick Siegle is the base coordinator and a flight paramedic at the Valley Med Flight base in Escanaba.

"Prior to Harvey ever making landfall we started making preparations for aircraft throughout our entire corporation to make sure they could respond if a tragedy happened" said Siegle. "We currently have nearly 60 aircraft and over 300 personnel in Texas.

Bases in the U.P. haven't seen many personnel head to Texas but that could change depending on the duration of relief efforts.

"Currently we have one one pilot that has left the Escanaba base to go down there and operate and the rest of them will be rotated out. They'll probably spend two weeks down there and then they'll rotate out."

But while personnel and resources are shifted to assist in Texas, the bases are still being covered here at home and no changes in services are expected.

"We have moved aircraft out of Minnesota and now our base in Houghton is covering that Minnesota are. The operations still go as usual at home even though we've got all these personnel down in the Texas filling in and trying to help those folks down there."

Patrick says that Valley Med Flight and their sister companies will continue to assist in Texas as long as necessary.

Original article ➤

With major roads swamped, photographer flies to Port Arthur

Port Arthur's major roads were swamped by rising waters brought by Harvey, and there were few images showing the devastation that virtually cut off the East Texas city.

So as the sun rose Thursday, that's where Associated Press photographer Gerald Herbert took his plane first.

"We heard Port Arthur got hit the worst," Herbert said, a few hours after taking a more than 200-mile aerial journey over Port Arthur, Beaumont and other communities near the Texas and Louisiana coasts. "It seemed like no one could get there."

Herbert, who joined the AP in Washington in 2002 and has worked in the AP's New Orleans bureau since 2010, got his pilot's license four years ago.

"I fell in love with a woman in Shreveport, and I found a better way to get there," he said. The two are now engaged.

While he was finishing his flight training, Herbert bought a Cessna 172, a four-seater single-engine airplane. That's the plane that his friend and fellow pilot Juan Asturias flew on Wednesday, meeting Herbert around dusk in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

They spent the evening planning their flight and were wheels up around 7 a.m., with Asturias at the controls so Herbert could safely shoot pictures.

Port Arthur sits on the Louisiana line 90 miles east of Houston, and the two found large parts of it underwater. Herbert thought the pictures were too important to hold until they got back on the ground. He transmitted them immediately from the air.

"We just kind of circled over Port Arthur while we had a good cell signal," he said.

That done, they went off to check out other communities, including Beaumont and Orange, Texas, as well as Sabine Lake, where they again found neighborhoods, businesses and roads under water. In Louisiana, they found that Holly Beach and Cameron had escaped the flooding.

"I was trying to be eyes and ears as a second navigator, as a co-pilot, for Juan as well, because there was a lot of helicopter traffic in the area," he said. "National Guard, Coast Guard, there were a lot of rescue helicopters flying in and out."

Going up in his airplane gave Herbert the chance to put his many skills to work: shooting video and still photographs, using pilot skills and looking out for traffic.

"It's a mark of pride to be able to get first light and be able to get pictures no one ese could get because of my added skill set of being a pilot with access to a plane," he said.

But he said his on-the-ground work during Harvey is what will stick with him.

Herbert has been working since Sunday to cover the storm, and has been traveling with professional rescue teams as they work to get people out. On Wednesday, he joined members of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Louisiana National Guard in Orange, Texas, for a joint rescue of eight elderly people in an assisted living home.

"What I saw was strength and ability meeting frailty and need," he said. "It was something I'll never forget."

Story and photo gallery ➤

Coast Guard Air Savannah returns home after helping storm victims in Texas

SAVANNAH, GA – Roughly a dozen Savannah Coast Guard members returned home Saturday night after a week helping people in Texas.

The Coastal Guardsmen, who serve at the U.S. Coast Guard Air Savannah, left for Houston last weekend. Although they were only deployed for a few days, Jon Magin, MH65 Delta Aircraft Commander, said his crew rescued more than twenty people.

“Honestly I don’t think I’ve really digested it yet. This was just rescuing people landing in a school parking lot, a CVS, a mall, wherever we could land to drop them off and basically just watch them get out and then it’s on to the next one,” said Magin.

Josue Valentie, AMT2 Flight Mechanic, said that he’s been serving at the Coast Guard for twelve years, and he’s never seen a storm of this magnitude.

“You find yourself sitting in there, all your senses are more heightened, you’re more in the cockpit helping the pilot, backing them up. But at the same time you’ve got to draw the line because you’re there to help people. But also you need to come back with your crew,” said Valentie.

Valentie also said that he’s glad his crew was able to help the people in Texas, but he’s happy to be home.

Story and video ➤

Denver International Airport (KDEN) in talks to allow bison to roam on 200 acres

DENVER (AP) — A plan is in the works to allow bison from the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge to roam on 200 acres belonging to the Denver International Airport, airport officials said.

The deal, if it goes through, would bring the bison right up to Pena Boulevard, the road that travelers take to the airport's white-tented terminal, the Denver Post reported in a story published Sunday (

"Having that wildlife refuge next door is an unbelievable opportunity for us," airport manager Kim Day said. "It is something you will not see in Des Moines."

The biggest concern is containing the massive animals inside a fence and keeping them off of the roadway.

"How do we keep them enclosed and still allow you to see them from the road?" Day said.

Gov. John Hickenlooper has supported the idea and suggested viewing stations that overlook the 16,000-acre refuge next to the airport.

Word of the potential deal comes after federal wildlife officials doubled the fenced space for the refuge's herd, which now numbers 122 bison after 18 calves were born this year.

Wildlife officials plan to import 25 more bison to the refuge in October as part of a project to restore wild bison to the West's landscape after they were nearly wiped out by hunters more than a century ago.

Expanding cities and agriculture have sharply reduced the amount of open prairie in the West since the bison's peak numbers, and their ability to roam freely has been sharply curtailed.

Yellowstone National Park has the largest wild bison population at about 5,500 animals.

Original article ➤

Bear spray discharge forces dozens from Salt Lake City International Airport (KSLC), Utah

Dozens of airline travelers wait outside Terminal 1 at Salt Lake International Airport Sunday morning after an airline employee accidentally discharged a canister of bear spray after it was confiscated from a passenger. 

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Sept. 3, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Dozens of travelers were forced to clear out of Salt Lake International Airport Sunday morning after a canister of bear spray was accidentally discharged inside Terminal 1.

Jasen Asay, spokesman for Salt Lake International Airport, told Gephardt Daily the bear spray was set off by an airline employee after it was confiscated from a passenger during check in about 10 a.m.

Five ticket counters inside Terminal 1 were closed while 50 to 100 travelers were temporarily evacuated to a loading area just outside.

After 15 minutes, the all clear was given, and passengers returned to the Terminal 1 ticket counters.

Medical units responding to the scene say they saw a few people who complained of mild eye, nose and throat irritation. None of them required medical attention.

Asay said it had yet to be determined why a passenger was carrying bear spray.

It was unclear if charges would be filed.

No other area of the airport was affected and flight operations were not impacted.

Story and photo gallery ➤

Albuquerque, New Mexico: Suspect allegedly waved gun at residents, shot at police helicopter Saturday night

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – An Albuquerque man arrested Saturday night faces a slew of charges after reportedly threatening several residents in southeast Albuquerque with a gun before directing those threats to police.

According to court documents, 35-year-old Nathanuth Mason became agitated with a homeowner on Louisiana Boulevard, shooting out a window on his car and pointing a gun at him. That allegedly happened around 5:30 p.m.

Officers were dispatched to the area, but couldn’t locate Mason before he confronted another family on Kentucky Boulevard. Police said the father told Mason to leave when he started walking towards them. Mason responded by becoming agitated and pointing the gun on them as well, then leaving when another family member called 911.

Later, according to court documents, police found a man walking in the area who matched the suspect’s description. Police said he fired at a police helicopter that was assisting in the search before waving the gun at the officers pursuing him.

Mason was later arrested on Gibson Boulevard, but without the gun. Court documents state it was found in a nearby bush, and that Mason is a convicted felon. But he “denied pointing the firearm at officers and denied pointing it at the helicopter.”

Police say Mason did admit to being involved “in an altercation” with several people earlier in the evening. Police also say Mason was “disoriented” when he talked with APD, and he said he had used “shards” earlier.

Mason is being charged with five counts of aggravated assault against police, three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, child abuse, felon in possession of a firearm and tampering with evidence. 

Original article can be found here ➤

Laconia, Belknap County, New Hampshire: Retiring mechanic has his eyes on the sky

 Terry Murphy of Belmont, who has spent the past 32 years as a master mechanic is retiring on Thursday and plans to replace fixing cars with restoring two 1940s vintage airplanes. 

LACONIA - After 32 years spent under the hood, Terry Murphy whose Court Street Auto has been a fixture in the city is hanging up his wrench.

Murphy, who will turn 67 next month, locked up the three-bay garage for the last time on Thursday at 5 p.m.

"It's been trying at times, but satisfying," Murphy said of his years as a master mechanic.

While Murphy's retirement will mark the loss of an independent automotive repair shop, the property owner, Stafford Oil, plans to continue to offer full-service gasoline sales. Two Citco branded stations remain the only gas stations in the city where you don't have to fill your own tank.

His interest in what makes things tick came from his late father, a Marine pilot who went to school to learn aviation mechanics when his service ended.

Murphy made his livelihood fixing motor vehicles, but the wild blue yonder sang its siren song to him as it did to his father before him.

He earned his private pilot's license in 1972, and in his retirement he plans to finish restoring two 1940s airplanes he owns.

His 1947 Aeronca 11-AC single-engine two-seat fabric-covered plane is nearing completion.

In his younger years, Murphy said, he'd work 70 hours a week at the station and still have enough energy to come home and spent a couple of hours at night working on the airplane.

"Now I'll be able to get back to work on it," he said, standing in the shop that has been his workplace for more than three decades. He bought the business, which includes a convenience store, in 1992, after working there since 1985.

The second plane is a 1948 Piper Vagabond that has been in his family since 1961. His father acquired it after it crashed at their home airport in Connecticut. He rebuilt it. The family moved to New Hampshire in 1987.

The Vagabond is true to its name, said Murphy, explaining first his dad owned it, then his uncle, then they jointly owned it. When his uncle had a student pilot at the controls during a practice landing, they touched down with such force that one of the wheels snapped. The instructor throttled the plane forward to take off again, and began circling Murphy's house gesturing at the flapping wheel, flying low enough that he was able to yell for them to come to the airfield.

The plane continued to circle until it was nearly out of gas and touched down on one wheel. As it slowed, Murphy's father sprinted alongside, supporting the wing on the wheel-less side. The engine was shut off with the propeller horizontal, preventing any further damage.

Once his planes are restored, Murphy hopes to find a small airfield where he can enjoy taking to the skies without having to worry about high-speed corporate jet traffic. He's looking forward to working on his planes without a deadline to get the repairs completed.

During his years as an automotive mechanic, Murphy said more components became electronic. He also saw design changes fostered by more stringent emission standards and safety requirements for insurers.

While Murphy has sold the majority of his specialty tools to Curtis Hodgman, a fellow mechanic who has spent the past 10 years working at the shop, he plans to bring his fabrication tools and hand tools to his Belmont home to work on his planes and to tackle a growing "honey-do list."

The shop's hydraulic lifts were sold and removed on Aug. 26 and the tire balancing machine was sold on Tuesday.

Terrance Agrusso, who tended the gas pumps for Murphy, will continue in that role for Stafford.

"I'll miss my customers; many of them have become friends over the years. A number of them have come in wishing me well and bringing in presents. I have enough gift certificates for restaurants to last a year," a grateful Murphy said.

Original article can be found here ➤

Drones Play Increasing Role in Harvey-Disaster Recovery Efforts: Unmanned aircraft are inspecting roadways, checking railroad tracks, assessing the condition of power lines

The Wall Street Journal
By Andy Pasztor
Sept. 3, 2017 5:29 p.m. ET

For drone users, hurricane Harvey is likely to be the event that propelled unmanned aircraft to become integral parts of government and corporate disaster-recovery efforts.

In the first six days after the storm hit, the Federal Aviation Administration issued more than 40 separate authorizations for emergency drone activities above flood-ravaged Houston and surrounding areas. They ranged from inspecting roadways to checking railroad tracks to assessing the condition of water plants, oil refineries and power lines.

That total climbed above 70 last Friday and topped 100 by Sunday, including some flights prohibited under routine circumstances, according to people familiar with the details. Industry officials said all of the operations—except for a handful flown by media outlets—were conducted in conjunction with, or on behalf of, local, state or federal agencies.

One person familiar with the details said certain applications were processed within hours—an unusually fast turnaround for federal safety regulators accustomed to days or weeks of analysis for such decisions.

The scope and pace of approvals—advocated by drone proponents as essential tools to help search and recovery teams during natural emergencies—likely will boost momentum for longer-term industry and congressional drives to open up more airspace for broader commercial applications.

“They’re being used in a lot of different ways we’ve been talking about for a long time,” said Brian Wynne, president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the leading trade group.

Now that recovery efforts are under way, Mr. Wynne said relying on drones can help a wide range of industries pinpoint and repair damage, adding that “it’s in everybody’s interest that they get up and running” as quickly as possible.

Before the devastation throughout southern Texas, lawmakers and trade groups representing drone manufacturers specifically urged the FAA to adopt policies providing swift regulatory exemptions in the event of emergency applications.

Since the FAA began clearing the way for unmanned aircraft around Houston, people familiar with the details said at least one company has received the green light to survey coastal damage using drones operating beyond the sight of ground-based pilots. Such flying techniques are strictly banned under normal rules governing commercial operations.

On Sunday, an FAA spokeswoman said she didn’t have a detailed breakdown of the latest authorization totals.

To reduce delays and bureaucratic processes, the FAA has issued some single, blanket authorizations to fly different types of drones for various missions across the same designated airspace.

Despite FAA flexibility, drone industry groups have called for further easing of rules. A trade association called the Small UAV Coalition on Friday said some of its members already are helping “ensure continuous communication capabilities for first responders and the public.” But unmanned aircraft also have “immense potential” to assist help with “delivering food, water and medical supplies,” the group said.

From the outset, several large property insurers enlisted drones in trying to quickly estimate damage and anticipate claims. Dozens of drones making thousands of weekly flights are expected to be part of the strategy.

To protect the multitude of government helicopters and manned aircraft that initially responded as hurricane Harvey pummeled large chunks of the state, the FAA slapped a temporary but extensive no-fly zone over Houston. All drone operations were prohibited without specific FAA approval, and the FAA explicitly warned that “flying an unauthorized drone could interfere” with official rescue and recovery efforts. Operators “could be subject to significant fines if (they) interfere with emergency response” functions, the agency said.

But as the hurricane dumped historic amounts of rain, lingered over Texas and Louisiana and the extent of recovery needs grew, agency officials accelerated case-by-case approvals to drone operators for storm-related flights. That occurred while the FAA continued to receive numerous new requests from drone users.

Now, even with temporary flight restrictions lifted or slated be eased, drone flights to assist the recovery still require advance FAA approvals over much of Houston. That’s because as before, large swaths of airspace are reserved for traffic in and out of the region’s two primary commercial airports.

Long before Harvey made landfall, FAA rulemaking regarding drones was stalled as a result of White House directives effectively pausing major new rules governmentwide. Before the November 2016 elections, the agency had solicited and analyzed public comments and was on track to issue long-awaited rules covering drone flights over populated areas by January 2017. Now, that schedule has been scrubbed and the U.S. Department of Transportation website doesn’t show a projected date for release of a final rule.

Original article can be found here ➤

Purdue University Airport (KLAF), Tippecanoe County, Indiana: We want to bring commercial air service to Greater Lafayette

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — For the first time in years, Purdue University Airport leadership says it's ready to land a commercial airline. 

As recently as last year, airport officials said that was a lost cause, primarily because Indianapolis and Chicago airports were close enough to Greater Lafayette to serve leisure and business travelers.

The new airport manager, Adam Baxmeyer, has a different view — and he's ready to fight for commercial air service. 

"Obtaining a level of commercial service is very possible at our airport," he said. "I also believe that it is an uphill climb and will require the support of more than just Purdue University. While it is true that we are relatively close to Chicago and Indianapolis, that doesn’t mean that air service is not viable here." 

For the past few months, Purdue has been reviewing data related to university travel and started to assess what improvements would be needed at the airport to support carriers.

Once that's done, Baxmeyer said, the airport plans to engage community and business leaders and make pitches to airlines. 

After years of soaring economic development and commensurate population growth, Greater Lafayette is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country without commercial air service. 

"We have a great story to tell and share with potential airlines, but it will need to be a community effort," said Baxmeyer, who was hired in October. 

Competing airports see this market as ripe for the picking. 

Go west, young man

While Purdue airport leadership stubbornly insisted that commercial air service would never return to Greater Lafayette, an airport in another college town west of here — roughly the same distance from Indianapolis and Chicago — took a contrarian view. 

That work paid off, and now Willard Airport at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana is welcoming new carriers and new routes. 

"We get out in front of every airline we can," Executive Director Gene Cossey said. "We make them aware of the demand that's here. We look at 30-, 45-, 60- and 90-minute drive times from the airport, and we show them what the demand in those different counties are, so that — if they do invest in establishing a new station or putting a new aircraft here — they know we have the ability to make them successful." 

Baxmeyer said Willard's growth is especially impressive because, in addition to major airports in Indianapolis and Chicago, Willard has four other airports with commercial service within a 90-minute drive — Bloomington/Normal, Decatur, Springfield and Peoria. 

"There are many similarities between our communities — comparable metropolitan areas, robust economies and both have university-owned and -operated airports," he said. "Champaign’s recent successes in air service serve as an example and support the idea that we can accomplish similar success here."

In other words, if Champaign-Urbana can have nice things, so too should Greater Lafayette. 

But don't pack those suitcases yet, cautions Michael Boyd, an aviation industry expert and president of Boyd Group International Strategic Aviation Solutions in Evergreen, Colorado.

As airlines focus on larger cities and pull out of markets even larger than Lafayette, landing service with American, Delta or United is unlikely to materialize, Boyd said. 

"Ain't happening, guys," he said. "In this environment, it is every bit as likely as an Elvis sighting."

Leading the charge

In hiring Baxmeyer to lead its airport, Purdue University selected a manager with a rich background in commercial air service. 

Baxmeyer graduated from Purdue's aviation program in 2002, at which point he became airport operations supervisor in Traverse City, Michigan. He worked there until 2006, when he became director of operations and facilities in Bloomington/Normal. 

While a student at Purdue, Baxmeyer worked at United Express — parent organization of United Airlines' regional carriers — from 1999 to 2001 at the West Lafayette airfield.

"While I had the chance to visit the community many times in the 14 years between my graduation and return as airport manager, I am still amazed at the positive and continued development in all of Tippecanoe County," Baxmeyer said. 

The good news: Should a carrier be convinced to give Greater Lafayette a try, ramping up operations wouldn't be difficult. 

"At the current airfield infrastructure — runways, ramps and taxiways — we currently have everything in place to handle commercial service," Baxmeyer said. "The biggest challenge is revisiting the current terminal, which was constructed in the 1950's at a time when airport security was much different."

But even that's not a deal-breaker, as post-9/11 security was in place through 2004, when a regional carrier for American Airlines took off for the last time. 

The only way Greater Lafayette gets commercial air service is if the community rallies behind the idea, Baxmeyer said. 

"The manner in which airports most often obtain service is to assemble data that is key to the airlines, partnering with community leaders to establish a common goal and message, and then conducting visits to airlines," he said. "To return commercial service to the Purdue University Airport, a similar approach will be needed."

Original article and comments ➤

Disruptive passenger forced to pay Hawaiian Airlines more than $97,000 in restitution

James August used a cellphone outside the Honolulu federal courthouse, Feb. 6, after pleading guilty to interfering with a flight crew.

A passenger whose disruptive behavior prompted the pilot of a nonstop flight to New York to return to Honolulu in November owes Hawaiian Airlines $97,817, a federal judge ruled Monday.

James August of New Jersey pleaded guilty in February to interfering with flight crew members and flight attendants. The government says August’s disruptive behavior started before the airplane left the ground.

During the flight he threatened his girlfriend, her children, other passengers and crew members, and had even made contact with a flight attendant on her shoulder with the back of his hand. U.S. District Senior Judge Susan Oki Mollway sentenced August in June to three years of probation.

On Monday she ordered August to repay Hawaiian Airlines the extra costs it incurred for turning its plane around. Those costs include fuel, maintenance, ground crew, replacement flight crew, landing fee and re-catering.

The restitution also includes what Hawaiian paid to find seats for passengers on other airlines. But it does not include $46,900 worth of meal vouchers the carrier handed out to the delayed New York-bound passengers and the passengers scheduled to take the return flight to Honolulu.

Original article can be found here ➤