Thursday, September 14, 2017

Callie On The Job: ARCH Air Medical

By Callie Carroll

SPARTA -- Even though we plan for the best, accidents still happen, at that time every second counts. Callie learns how lives are saved in this week's Callie on the Job.

Emergencies can happen at all hours of the day. It's at that time that critical care workers are on their A game. 

Kris Whitlock with ARCH Air Medical says, "When the phone rings our job is to go and take care of somebody that's having a bad day. Our goal is to be the best part of the bad day they're having."

ARCH Air Medical in Sparta is part of the Air Methods family. Providing air medical service from 300 bases across the country. Sparta's location provides 24 hour service with its staff of 4 pilots, 4 paramedics and 4 nurses. 

Whitlock says, "Everybody here loves what they do or they wouldn't be here doing this job. We love caring for people and taking care of them."

Their helicopter is a two year old single engine turbine helicopter. It goes around 150 miles per hour meaning it can get from Carbondale to St. Louis in 30 to 35 minutes. 

"Ultimately those patients need a trauma surgeon or blood products, something along those lines. Something you're not going to find at some of the smaller hospitals in southern Illinois and the best way to get them there in a quick manner is by helicopter," Whitlock said. 

The med crew is continually training so they can be as efficient as possible when they arrive on scene.

One skill they continue to improve on is Airway Training. 

Flight nurse, Teri Aguiar says they take over the breathing if a patient has a severe head injury, respiratory distress or if they are critically ill. 

"One of the great pieces of equipment that we have is video laryngoscopy, So we can actually look at an airway by video even in the worst of circumstances," Aguiar said. 

Not only does this job involve the critical care side, but it also has the aviation side as well. 

Eric Kaysinger is one of the pilots with ARCH Air Medical. When he first starts his shift he does a preflight check.

He says his job is to make sure he gets the med crew to and from where they need to go as fast and safe as possible.

ARCH Air Medical workers says this job is definitely a team sport and it takes all of them to complete the job.

Original article can be found here ➤

Ismael Bonilla fired as General Mitchell International Airport (KMKE) director: Milwaukee County investigates allegations of misconduct

Document: Read the Audit Division report of its investigation

Related: Misconduct allegations raised as Mitchell International Airport director fired

General Mitchell International Airport Director Ismael Bonilla has been released from his duties effective immediately.

Bonilla, who was on the job almost two years, will be replaced by Department of Transportation Director Brian Dranzik.

Dranzik will serve as acting director of the airport while Milwaukee County searches for a permanent replacement.

According to a county official, in late August, the county executive’s office was informed that the county’s independent Audit Services Division had conducted an investigation into allegations of misconduct by Bonilla. That investigation began in late November of 2016.

The Audit Services Division has submitted its findings to the Milwaukee County Board of Ethics for their review and appropriate action into the alleged violation of the Milwaukee County Code of Ethics, specifically, that Bonilla used privileged information in a way which may have financially benefited former co-workers, the official said.

According to the Audit Services Division report on the investigation, the airport awarded a $250,000 contract to Springfield, Illinois-based engineering and planning firm Hanson Professional Services Inc., to create a business plan for Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport. The Audit Services Division learned that Bonilla and airport deputy director Yul McNair had prior working relationships with Hanson personnel and a Hanson sub-contractor, according to the report. Bonilla has a current quasi-business relationship with Hanson personnel, outside of the Timmerman business plan contract, the report states.

Bonilla and McNair arranged for Hanson personnel to take a site visit of Timmerman prior to the release of the request for proposal for the business plan contract, the ASD report states. When the RFP was issued it did not include explicit notice that site visits were possible and the ASD report states that the division found no evidence that the three other companies that submitted a response to the RFP requested or conducted a site visit.

“ASD has determined that Bonilla and McNair, by arranging a site visit for a company prior to the publication of a RFP which did not include an option for a site visit, violated Milwaukee County General Ordinance…prohibition against disclose of privileged information,” the ASD report states.

“For six years, it has been my unambiguous expectation that county employees operate with the highest ethical standards at all times – the taxpayers deserve no less,”  Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said in a written statement. “The mere suggestion that the integrity of the procurement process was in question anywhere in county government would be a serious cause for concern. In order to ensure confidence in the airport’s operations, I have made the decision to bring in new management. We will also implement comprehensive, formal re-training on procurement procedures at the airport.”

However, while Bonilla has been fired, McNair is still employed by the county, according to Melissa Baldauff, director of communications for  Abele.

In addition, the ASD report says the division cannot make a determination if Bonilla or McNair violated the county ordinance pertaining conflicts of interest and required disclosures for professional service procurements.

“While Bonilla’s and McNair’s actions may not be in the ‘spirit’ of the county’s rules regarding conflicts of interest, they appear to be within the letter of the law due to both a strict definition of relevant terms and the lack of procedural detail for a professional services contract RFP,” the ASD report states.

Bonilla was named to the airport director role by Abele in December 2015 and assumed the position on Feb. 1, 2016.

He previously served as chief business development officer for Hi-Lite Airfield Services LLC in Jacksonville, Florida. Hi-Lite is an airport runway and taxiway marking contractor.

Bonilla also held positions in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Jacksonville and Santiago, Chile. He is also a 20-year Air Force veteran.

Before Bonilla arrived, Dranzik oversaw day-to-day airport operations for eight months. Dranzik took over after Terry Slaybaugh resigned just months after taking the job.

Original article can be found here ➤

Milwaukee County auditors did not refer the findings of their investigation into alleged misconduct by former Mitchell International Airport Director Ismael "Izzy" Bonilla to the district attorney's office for review of possible criminal charges, Audit Services Director Jerry Heer confirmed Friday.

County Executive Chris Abele fired Bonilla Thursday after reviewing auditors' findings that he had violated a county ordinance prohibiting disclosure of privileged information when he helped a contractor gain a "competitive advantage" in winning a contract.

Auditors determined Bonilla used privileged information to financially benefit former co-workers. But there is no indication in the report that Bonilla personally benefited from his actions.

The audit division's investigative report was submitted to the Ethics Board for action on a possible violation of the county ethics code.

The Ethics Board will meet Nov. 14 and has not scheduled a special meeting before that for any purpose, Executive Director Stephanie Hunnicutt said. Once the board reviews the audit division report, it cannot impose any discipline on Bonilla since he is no longer an employee of the county, Hunnicutt said.

The Ethics Board, however, could refer the auditors' findings of ethical misconduct to the district attorney's office, she said.

Document: Read the Audit Division report of its investigation

Related: Misconduct allegations raised as Mitchell International Airport director fired

Bonilla arranged for the contractor, Hanson Professional Services Inc., to visit Timmerman airport in August 2016 regarding a proposed business plan for the airport, according to the audit report.

The site visit was held in advance of the county publishing a request for proposals for the plan in September of that year. After the request was sent out and the project was made public, Bonilla did not offer similar visits to competing companies.

In November 2016, the county awarded the $250,000 contract to develop a Timmerman business plan to Hanson.

Auditors also confirmed that Bonilla had a prior working relationship with Hanson employees and a Hanson subcontractor.

The Audit Services Division in the Comptroller's Office began receiving complaints of misconduct by Bonilla in August 2016, six months after he started work at Mitchell.

Those complaints alleged abuse of a county purchase card, personal use of a county vehicle, and hiring his best friend, Yul McNair, as deputy director of Mitchell airport.

McNair, too, had a prior working relationship with Hanson employees and McNair participated in the Timmerman site visit, according to the report.

Timmerman is also owned and operated by Milwaukee County.

McNair remains employed at Mitchell airport.

Bonilla's salary was $175,000 a year.

Story and comments ➤

Lakeville poised to annex more of Eureka Township's airport: Water and sewer issues stymie Airlake Airport (KLVN) growth

Eureka Township in rural Dakota County is on the brink of losing a significant chunk of its airport to the burgeoning city of Lakeville.

Officials from the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), the government entity that owns and operates the airport, called Airlake, want to secure municipal sewer and water services for the small reliever airport. Lakeville can provide those utilities while the township currently cannot.

The MAC plans to petition Lakeville to annex 120 acres of airport property, with a goal to annex 200 acres more in the future.

While several township officials are resigned to the airport’s annexation, at least one township supervisor fears that it will accelerate the end of Eureka.

“I think it’s foolish of us to throw away the airport to Lakeville,” said Butch Hansen, a supervisor on the Eureka Township Board. “If we can keep the airport happy, they’ll stay.”

Gary Schmidt, director of reliever airports for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, said the airport needs city sewer and water services to remain viable.

“I don’t think we have a choice anymore,” Schmidt said. “We’ve seen a migration of tenants to other airports.”

Lakeville officials say they’d be glad to acquire more airport land because it may spur further development in the adjacent Airlake Industrial Park.

The fast-growing suburb also would gain a small amount of tax revenue and water and sewer hookup fees, said Justin Miller, Lakeville city manager.

Hansen said Eureka stands to lose much more than tax revenue, now and in years to come.

“It opens the door to future annexation down the road,” he said. “Eureka Township is no longer going to be able to sit back and be a rural community.”

Doing it themselves

Airlake — which sits on 425 acres — straddles Lakeville and neighboring Eureka Township. The airport, used mostly by recreational pilots, has more than 33,000 takeoffs and landings a year, according to MAC data.

Lakeville acquired nine acres of the airport through annexations in 1975 and 2003. The airstrip and most of Airlake’s hangars are in the township.

Obtaining city water and sanitary sewer services for hangar tenants has been a goal for decades, Schmidt said, though the most recent round of discussions started in 2015.

Part of the reason is environmental. When groundwater near the Lake Elmo Airport became polluted in the late 1980s, the airport got blamed. That accusation was proved false, but in the meantime, the MAC required hangar owners at reliever airports to close out their wells and septic systems to prevent seepage into groundwater.

That left Airlake hangar tenants with no drainage system to dispose of plane-washing chemicals and nowhere to go to the bathroom or shower. That kept the southern part of the airport from developing, Schmidt said.

Eureka Township officials talked about furnishing water and sewer, Hansen said, but discussions with Airlake foundered. He said he wants the township to get county permission to dig a well for Airlake, and to hook up to a sewer line in Elko New Market.

Hansen said the township needs the airport for taxes it pays — about $30,000 a year — and hopes it may prompt other development.

Fellow township supervisor Carrie Jennings, who works in the water policy field, said Hansen’s ideas have been explored but aren’t feasible.

The land never felt like part of the township anyway, and the loss of tax revenue is small, Jennings said.

“I feel like we’ve exhausted all our options so I’m resigned,” she said. “There’s nothing we can do to stop them, in my opinion.”

Once the airports commission files its annexation petition — perhaps as soon as next month — it will go to the City Council for a public hearing and approval.

Schmidt, the MAC’s reliever airports director, said he’s “fairly certain” Lakeville will go through with the annexation.

“We are going to proceed down this path that we’re on,” Schmidt said. “However, if Eureka has a change of heart we are open to it.”

Dakota County Commissioner Mike Slavik said he feels bad for townships that lose their tax base and land, but “the county has no role in this one way or the other.”

Lakeville last annexed land from Eureka Township in 2008 when it acquired 99 acres for its industrial park, said David Olson, Lakeville’s community and economic development director. The city of 60,000 has no plans to make additional acquisitions of the township, Olson said.

But development is sprawling southward all the time, Hansen said, and he worries about the township’s future as it loses another parcel.

“They’re infringing on our borders constantly,” Hansen said. “Communities are going to eat us up.”

Story and comments ➤

Denney KitFox III, N827FL: Incident occurred September 14, 2017 in East Dubuque, Jo Daviess County, Illinois

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; DuPage, Illinois

Aircraft on landing on a lake, flipped over.

Date: 14-SEP-17
Time: 22:54:00Z
Regis#: N827FL
Aircraft Make: KITFOX
Aircraft Model: KITFOX III
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: MINOR
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)

EAST DUBUQUE, Ill. (KWWL) -   The Jo Daviess County Sheriff's Office says 45-year-old Timothy Petitgout, of East Dubuque, was injured.

Authorities say an unknown issue during take off caused the plane to dip and crash into the water.

The crash remains under investigation by the Jo Daviess County Sheriff's Office and will be turned over to the FAA.


Crews are on the scene of a plane crash into the river.  It happened near the Frentress Lake Marina in East Dubuque.

According to the Jo Daviess County Sheriff's Office, the pilot is believed to be the only person on the plane and is doing ok.  The plane has been pulled from the water.

Original article can be found here ➤

EAST DUBUQUE, Ill. (KCRG-TV9) - A man crashed his small plane into the Mississippi River near the Frentress Lake Marina in East Dubuque, Illinois Thursday.

The Jo Daviess County Sheriff's office said authorities responded to the area around 6 p.m. and found the plane upside down in shallow water, stuck in the mud.

A witness told KCRG-TV9 she saw the plane coming down and wing skim the water before the plane crashed.

Deputies said only the pilot was onboard the plane, and someone who knows him took him to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

Crews worked to free the plane unstuck from the mud and flipped upright. No word yet on what caused the crash.


A man crashed his small plane into the Mississippi River near the Frentress Lake Marina on Thursday.

Authorities responded to the area around 6 p.m.

The crash happened in shallow water and the aircraft became stuck in the mud. Crews worked to remove it from the water.

Witnesses say one man was in the plane and he appeared to be okay.

Original article can be found here ➤

Grant will pay for runway, taxiway upgrades at Methow Valley State Airport (S52)

A $3.9 million federal grant has been awarded to the Methow Valley State Airport to repave the runway, widen taxiways and rehabilitate apron areas.

The runway repaving is expected to begin next May and be completed before the fire season begins, to avoid interfering with operations of the North Cascades Smokejumper Base (NCSB), said Paul Wolf, state airports manager for the Washington State Department of Transportation aviation division.

Wolf said the runway and taxiway improvement projects will not require that three buildings that are part of NCSB be removed from an “object free area” at the state airport. The buildings are allowed under a waiver from the FAA.

The Methow Valley State Airport, located off Twisp-Winthrop Eastside Road between Twisp and Winthrop, is one of 16 airports managed by WSDOT, Wolf said.

“We call it our crown jewel. It’s our biggest runway,” he said. The airport runway is rated for planes that weigh up to 30,000 pounds and could handle commercial aircraft in an emergency if other airports were closed, he said.

Originally a U.S. Forest Service facility, the airport has historical value as the “birthplace of smokejumping,” where the first experimental jumps took place in 1939. “The North Cascades Smokejumper Base has quite a history there and we want to facilitate supporting them and their operation there,” Wolf said.

Like many of the state-managed airports, the Methow Valley State Airport’s primary uses are emergency management staging, sports recreation and emergency evacuation, Wolf said. “It also supports local economics, he said.

The airport has seven privately owned hangars and airport layout plans provide for adding additional hangars in the future if there is demand for more, Wolf said.

A recent study of NCSB conducted by the Forest Service concluded that three buildings located too close to the runway will need to be demolished and a new building constructed. Several of the buildings at the 77-year-old base also need to be updated, the study found. “As they do their continued planning we will work with them,” Wolf said.

The study evaluated the possibility of relocating smokejumping operations to another airport, but concluded that if funding for the improvements can be obtained, the base can remain in the Methow Valley.

Original article can be found here ➤

Expert: Air Force may never release 'classified' information on deadly Nevada crash

Lt. Col. Eric Schultz was killed during a training mission on September 5, 2017.


A pilot from Nellis Air Force Base who died in a classified training crash was known as an experienced pilot with six degrees, but little is known about the crash that took his life. 

Oriana Pawlyk, of, said it may be years before the public has more information on what caused the crash or the type of aircraft Lt. Col. Eric Schultz was testing during the mission. Adding, the air force may never release additional information. 

Schultz was killed in the crash on Sept. 5 at the Nevada Test and Training Range located approximately 100 miles northwest of Nellis Air Force Base. 

Pawlyk said officials have ruled out speculation on what the aircraft might not be. She said the Air Force said the aircraft was not an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has not been involved in a crash. 

She also ruled out the aircraft used during the mission was an F-117 Nighthawk because the aircraft was retired in 2008 and although it has been used on training runs,  it's not in a classified program. 

Pawlyk said speculation remains if the aircraft was foreign or if it is an "x-plane" or an unknown aircraft that is being tested by the military.

In a YouCaring campaign, Schultz was described as a former civilian pilot who received multiple degrees before joining the Air Force. 

He's survived by his wife, five children, and other family members. 

Original article can be found here ➤

Letters to the Editor: Williston deserves role in airport governance • Burlington International Airport (KBTV), Chittenden County, Vermont

Letters to the Editor 

I would like to respond to the statements made by Burlington International Airport Director of Aviation Gene Richards during his recent presentation to the Williston Selectboard opposing regional governance of the airport and reported in the Sept. 7 edition of the Observer (“Airport director defends ownership”).

Richards’ comments were misleading and designed to scare the selectboard away from supporting a resolution calling for the establishment of a committee to evaluate regional governance of the airport.

Richards “described the airport as a self-funding enterprise that has no direct impact on Burlington taxpayers.” This is true, and it has been that way for decades. But then he ridiculously claims that if Williston were part of a regional governance structure, it would somehow cost the town’s taxpayers $2 million per year. Obviously this is a contradiction.

Here is the real issue: Communities such as South Burlington and Williston that are near the airport and are affected by operations and concerned about its long-term economic viability deserve a seat at the governing table.

Today, the airport is managed by Richards alone, with an Airport Commission whose authority is purely advisory. A change in governance will have zero impact on Burlington residents, but will provide regional oversight of airport management where no real oversight exists today. This issue is about good government and the protection of a vital regional economic development asset.

I urge the Williston Selectboard to ignore these scare tactics and vote to support the regional governance resolution. Williston residents are affected by airport operations and deserve a seat at the governing table.

Tim Barritt
South Burlington city councilor

Original article ➤

Airport director defends ownership

Williston Selectboard considers joining push for regional control

The director of aviation at Burlington International Airport came to Williston on Tuesday to defend the City of Burlington’s record of airport ownership in the face of calls to regionalize airport control.

The Williston Selectboard is considering signing onto a resolution requesting the City of Burlington form a committee to study regional ownership to include representation from the cities and towns closest to the airport. The city councils of South Burlington and Winooski have already signed onto the resolution.

South Burlington City Council member Tom Chittenden and City Manager Kevin Dorn appeared before the selectboard in August to push for regionalization. They noted that the airport is outside Burlington city limits and argued that representation from all the nearby municipalities would free the airport from Burlington regulations, increase its bonding power and promote regional harmony.

Director of Aviation Gene Richards said Tuesday their arguments are fueled by ongoing disagreements between Burlington and South Burlington over airport property taxes and noise impacts to South Burlington residents.

“It’s more of a vendetta,” he said. “To take the airport from the city, I think that is a bad precedent to set. That’s not what Vermonters do.”

The selectboard plans to make a decision about whether to sign the regionalization resolution at its Sept. 19 meeting.

Board member Jeff Fehrs supports the idea of Williston having representation in airport governance.

“Williston is impacted by the airport,” he said. “We literally border the end of the runway. It makes sense for Williston to have representation on whatever it is that governs the airport. Why wouldn’t we do that?”

Board member Ted Kenney believes the airport is running smoothly and did not offer support for a change in governance. The airport is one of many things that affect Williston that the town has no control over, like the interstate highway, he said. Kenney also didn’t buy into the arguments Chittenden and Dorn presented in August.
“I was disappointed in the presentation from South Burlington,” Kenney said. “It was a little more heated than I would expect if it were an objective presentation.”

Richards described the airport as a self-funding enterprise that has no direct impact on Burlington taxpayers. However, the airport relies on several city departments — such as police, finance and the city attorney — for ongoing management, he said.

Being part of a regional airport authority would come with about $2 million in annual cost to the town, Richards estimates, and responsibility for $35 million in bonded debt.

“If you do get involved, you wouldn’t be getting into it for free,” he said. “You would have to participate in a financial way.”

Original article ➤

Page Municipal Airport (KPGA), Coconino County, Arizona: Massive Storm Hits the Area

Florida, Texas and now Northern Arizona?

Thursday afternoon sure looked eerily similar to Hurricane type weather in Page and in Southern Utah! Trees were downed and the power went out in parts of Page.

At the Page Municipal Airport one hangar was literally blown away. The hangar looked like something out of a disaster movie, as it laid in pieces on top of another hangar.

The owner of the hangar had luckily pulled his small aircraft out of the hangar for maintenance earlier in the day.

The storm had huge consequences on Lake Powell, as a houseboat in Padre Canyon, near Gunsight Butte capsized. Multiple serious injuries occurred. It has been reported that one woman lost her arm from the shoulder down. Other injuries included a broken arm and some lacerations.

The worst part of the situation was that it took emergency respondents some time to reach the scene due to the storm and Classic Aviation wasn’t cleared to fly until around 1:30 PM; at least 30 minutes after the incident was originally reported.

The emergency radio also mentioned another capsized vessel.At last report that vessel was being towed to Wahweap Marina; any injuries are unknown at this time.

A flash flood watch from the National Weather Service remained in effect Thursday until 7PM.

Story and photo gallery ➤

Baltimore Police Foxtrot helicopter footage: Jurors acquit Baltimore County police officer accused of kicking, spitting on a suspect

After deliberating for about 30 minutes Thursday, a Baltimore County jury acquitted a police officer accused of unlawfully kicking and spitting on a suspect during an arrest that was captured on video by a city police helicopter.

A group of jurors then waited outside the Towson courthouse to thank the officer, Christopher M. Spivey, for his service.

“It was hands down he was innocent,” said Cindy Blanchard, 51, of White Marsh.

Spivey, in turn, thanked the jurors.

Spivey, 29, was charged with four counts of second-degree assault, each carrying up to 10 years in prison, for allegedly kicking 20-year-old Diamontae Tyquan Farrar, who led police on a lengthy car chase in a stolen car on Jan. 25 and then fled on foot. Spivey was the first officer to catch up to Farrar.
Baltimore County police officer accused of assaulting suspect defends actions at trial

A Baltimore police helicopter assisting in the pursuit captured the incident on video.

Story, video and comments ➤

Oregon Legislators ask for more drones to fight fires

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio today asked federal officials what’s being done to deploy more unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to fight wildfires raging throughout Oregon and the West.

As Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. DeFazio last year authored legislation that directed the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of the Interior, and Department of Agriculture to expedite the safe use of UAS to support firefighting operations. The legislation was passed into law as part of the FAA Extension Act of 2016.

The letter from the two Oregon lawmakers seeking answers about using UAS as a firefighting tool comes in the wake of their meetings last weekend in Oregon with emergency responders battling wildfires around the state. Wildfires so far this year have ripped through more than 7.65 million acres in Oregon and the west. One-third of the 1.5 million acres now burning in the west are in Oregon.

“These tragic yet foreseeable events make it necessary to explore all ways to better fight wildfires,” Wyden and DeFazio wrote in their letter to Michael Huerta, Administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke. “Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) have the potential to help this effort significantly.”

Wyden and DeFazio noted that UAS have proven able to assess in real time the seriousness of wildfire damage, gather essential information for firefighters and first responders, and improve safety by identifying additional hazards as well as any infrastructure, property or wildlife in the path of a fast-moving fire.

Wyden and DeFazio asked the federal officials how their agencies are implementing the law aimed at improving the use of safe UAS operations in support of firefighting and speeding approval for UAS use to help first responders.

Original article can be found here ➤

Lack of funding, usage leads to closure of Athelone Williams Memorial Airport (6G0), Davison Township, Michigan

GENESEE COUNTY, MI - Residents driving by the asphalt landing strip tucked behind a grove of trees may not even know there is an airport along Gale Road in Davison Township.

The Athelone Williams Memorial Airport has been in operation for more than 20 years, with pilots landing at the approximately 3,500-foot-long runway bordered by railroad tracks to the north and the Black Creek on its south side.

But the days of aircraft flying into the airstrip on 37 acres of land may have finally come to an end.

Township board members voted this week to close the airport, citing lack of budget funding to complete needed repairs to cracks in the runway and ongoing costs for maintenance.

The airport is named in honor of Robert Williams' mother. The property where the runway sits was donated by the Williams family decades ago with the stipulation its usage was open to the public, according to Davison Township Supervisor Karen Miller, and became a public airport in 1987.

"We've had discussions with Mr. Williams that was donated the airport to Davison Township," said Miller of discussion with Robert Williams. "We told him about finances and the usage of the airport is way down and the airstrip was in desperate need of repair at a large cost and we only have a couple pilots out there."

Williams also donated a 100-acre parcel of land off Atherton Road to Davison Township in September 2012 that's now used a nature park and learning center by the community.

"We don't have the money to repave that airstrip," said Miller. "We have over the course of years, I can think of at least three developers, that came in and had discussions, lengthy discussions, went out and even some of them put together drawings of putting in hangars and trying to make that a feasible operation."

None of those plans or discussions by township officials to build hangars on the property and pre-lease them ever came to fruition. Miller did not have a figure on how much the repaving may cost, only stating the cost would be "substantial."

The township spent $5,600 during the fiscal year 2016-17 for insurance and maintenance at the airport, according to township clerk Cindy Shields.

Casting the lone no vote, board member Matthew Karr said he was "not ready to pull the trigger on closing it" minutes before the final tally.

Treasurer Patrick Miller, who was absent from the meeting, did not cast a vote. 

Referencing previous studies done by the township on the airport, Karr noted they included the suggestion that "Once it closes, it'll never get open again" and preferred to leave the item on the agenda for next month's meeting.

But board member Tim Elkins said the township does not have the money to pay for repairs and only two pilots currently use the airport, adding a portion of the property just north of the Lake Callis Recreation Complex sits on a floodplain.

"We couldn't get anybody to invest in it," commented Elkins. "We don't have the financing for it."

There are no definite plans on what the township may utilize the property for moving forward, Miller said. 

Story, comments and photo gallery ➤

Army instructor pilot contract award reversed

A $450 million contract to provide initial entry rotary-wing instruction support services at Fort Rucker will likely stay with the current contractor after it successfully protested a bid award to a competing company.

URS Federal Services has owned the contract, which provides student pilot instruction, for many years. The Army initially awarded the bid to provide instruction services to CAE USA in January. URS filed a bid protest with the Government Accountability Office and the companies were recently informed the contract would remain with URS.

CAE USA, which currently handles initial fixed wing instruction for Fort Rucker students at its new facility at the Dothan Regional Airport, said in a written statement it was disappointed to learn the contract had been granted to URS and would determine if a further protest is warranted after a debriefing.

The $50 million annual contract contained a total of eight annual renewals for a final total amount of $450 million.

The U.S. Army's Initial Entry Rotary-Wing (IERW) training program is responsible for providing the training required to qualify new Army helicopter pilots. Approximately 900 students annually receive classroom, simulator, and live flying training on TH-67 Creek and UH-72 Lakota helicopters before graduating to combat helicopter or fixed wing training.

Original article can be found here ➤

Fatal accident occurred September 14, 2017 near Lodi Parachute Center, Acampo, California

The skydiver who crashed Thursday after a parachute malfunction has died, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Tuesday.

Brett Hawton, 54, of Alamo was jumping solo from a plane out of the Lodi Parachute Center in Acampo. Witnesses told Woodbridge Fire District officials that his chute tangled, Chief Steve Butler said last week.

He died Friday, according to the San Joaquin Sheriff’s Office. Authorities said last week that he was hospitalized in critical condition after the Thursday accident.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the agency is investigating whether the parachute was properly packed by the appropriate person. The FAA handles skydiving regulations and investigations.

It’s the second death this year of a skydiver who used the Lodi Parachute Center as a starting point. In May, 42-year-old Matthew Ciancio died when his chute failed to properly deploy at the end of a jump in a wingsuit, a specialized jumpsuit with two arm wings and a leg wing.

Three people died in two incidents related to the center in 2016.

The August 2016 deaths of two men during a tandem jump prompted Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, to introduce legislation giving state and local authorities the option to take parachute center operators to court if they are found out of compliance with federal regulations.

Original article can be found here ➤

ACAMPO, Calif. (KCRA) — A person was injured Thursday in a skydiving accident near the Lodi Parachute Center, the sheriff's department said. 

Someone called 911 at 1 p.m. to report the skydiver was hurt near the 2400 block of North 99 Frontage Road.

The victim was alive as he was taken to a hospital, officials said.

No additional details have been released.

Several people have died in the last couple years during jumps from planes that took off from the Lodi Parachute Center.

Matthew Ciancio, 42, was wearing a wing suit in May during a jump and died when he landed in a vineyard just north of the parachute center, the FAA said.

In February, a skydiver who was on a solo jump from the Lodi Parachute Center was killed due to a parachute malfunction. Two men were killed during a tandem parachute jump in August 2016.

Between 1999 and 2016, there were 13 deaths connected to the parachute center.

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A skydiver is in critical condition after his chute tangled Thursday afternoon near the Lodi Parachute Center, according to Woodbridge Fire District Chief Steve Butler.

The skydiver landed on top of a horse trailer at a company called Trailer Specialists across the street from the Lodi Airport.

The skydiving center in Acampo has been the starting point for numerous parachute-related deaths in the last few years.

A person died in May after jumping in a specialized jumpsuit called a wingsuit, and three people died in jumping accidents related to the Lodi Parachute Center in 2016.

In May 2016, a Lodi Parachute Center plane carrying 18 people landed upside down in a vineyard. No one was seriously injured and the incident was recorded on a helmet-mounted camera.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the incident has not yet been reported.

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New master plan approved for Tulsa International Airport (KTUL)

TULSA, Okla. - The Tulsa Airport Authority and Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust has approved a new master plan for Tulsa International Airport that includes the addition of a new third runway on the east side of the airport.

TIA Director Mark VanLoh told FOX23 the third runway is decades away from coming to fruition, and said there are other parts of the master plan the airport is looking to take on first.

The Thursday morning vote for approval of the new plan comes after two years of studying and public input on how the airport should grow. The last master plan was developed for TIA more than 20 years ago.

VanLoh said many priorities in the new master plan have been carried over from the old one, and most of the language and goals have been updated to take into account modern day operations and hurdles facing the aviation industry as a whole.

Taxiway improvement will be one of the first projects to get underway, and the airport's western-most runway will also see major improvements. Right now, the western runway can only accommodate smaller general aviation planes because it is made of old concrete. When improvements are finished in five years or so, commercial airlines will be able to land on both north-south runways again.

TIA has already made many improvements to the terminal, and VanLoh said not much needs to change in passengers areas. Expansion and improvements will mostly take place in building new facilities on the airport's northern and western sides to attract more aerospace companies to do business on site at TIA.

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St. Clair County Airport (KPLR), Pell City, Alabama: Area helps Hurricane efforts

Hurricane Irma stretched across the Bahamas, slamming into Key West before heading in a northward track across the Florida peninsula and causing damage from Alabama to South Carolina. 

East Alabama and St. Clair County were under a tropical storm warning, prompting Gov. Kay Ivey to institute a State of Emergency and for local school systems to close Monday and Tuesday ahead of potential storm damage.

Fortunately, Irma weakened into a tropical depression but still brought rain, potential flooding, and high winds that caused some tree damage and power outages.

“Last night [Monday] we had less than a dozen downed trees to be reported. Only a few blocked roads and some power lines down. There could be and probably was more trees to fall on private property that we weren’t notified,” Ellen Tanner, Director of the St. Clair County EMA stated.“[There were] some power outages mainly in the Ashville, Springville, Pell City and Chula Vista locations and mostly in the higher elevations.”

Alabama Power reported that approximately 4,100 homes were without power on Monday evening, but crews were seen out at midnight working on the power lines to restore electricity.

Thirteen safe haven shelters opened Monday and remained open until the tropical storm warning was cancelled by the National Weather Service, but according to the St. Clair EMA, no one came to any of the shelters. 

Evacuees from Florida came to Pell City, Leeds, Talladega and surrounding areas. Students from Hobe Sound Bible College in Hobe Sound, Florida located north of West Palm Beach, found refuge at Bible Methodist Campground in Pell City.  

“We are deeply grateful to Conference President John Parker, Camp President Doug Eads and all of our friends in the Alabama Bible Methodist Conference for their gracious hospitality,” a representative of Hobe Sound Bible College released in an official statement.

Talladega Superspeedway opened their campground to evacuees, which then needed to be relocated to local churches for shelter due to high winds and rain. Many local churches opened their doors. Some local restaurants also offered free meals to Florida and Georgia residents.

Flight instructors from Epic Aviation Academy in New Smyrna brought their families, pets, and whatever belongings they could and landed their planes at St. Clair County airport on Sept. 8. Around 30 people and 14 airplanes filled the available spots.

“I got a call from the FAA from Georgia; they were running out of spots to park,” Bob Brown, Director of the St. Clair County airport said. There was no availability in local Pell City hotels, so instructors and their families were shuttled to Leeds for accommodations. 

“We’re doing our best to accommodate them,” Brown said. “We’re glad to have them.”

The City of Pell City along with The Pell City Ministerial Association and Pell City School System planned to collect items for Hurricane Harvey victims on Monday, but the collection was postponed until Sept. 18 because of local severe weather threats from Hurricane Irma. They will still be accepting supplies of bottled water, bleach, hygiene items, baby items, baby and adult diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, bug spray, cleaning supplies and medical supplies such as bandages, antibacterial ointment, and peroxide.  No clothing items will be accepted please. 

Tony Lee of Springville gives blood at the LifeBlood bus.

Looking forward to future potential severe weather situations, the Pell City City Council approved application for a grant that would potentially supply weather radios to the community at the regular City Council meeting Monday night. Outdoor tornado warning sirens are proving not to be as effective in warning the public about potential severe weather, and the city will work to promote alternate channels of notification. While local schools and St. Clair County Courthouses were closed on Monday, the Pell City City Council met at their regular time, despite the blinking power. 

“I want to congratulate everyone in the city for acting so quickly,” Pell City Mayor Bill Pruitt said. “The Pell City Police Department collecting supplies, the Fire Department had already sent several people to help [with Hurricane Harvey relief]; people coming from every corner trying to help. I am real proud to see how quickly everyone mobilized on that.”

As Irma continued to be downgraded and moves further north, evacuees from Florida and Georgia will return to their homes, to see what remains. Residents of St. Clair County will continue to help with relief efforts, collecting supplies, volunteering, giving their money, time, and even blood in times of need. 

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Meagan Harr: High goals and lofty dreams

Meagan Harr was simply trying to conquer a fear of heights when she decided to take flying lessons. But she fell in love with it and went on to complete her training in a Cessna 150.

For someone who was once terrified of heights and of flying, Meagan Harr faced and conquered her greatest fears in a surprising way. A lifelong Blountville resident, Meagan took a flying lesson in 2012 for the sole purpose of getting over her fear of flying.

Not only did she accomplish that, but she embarked on a new adventure that would change her life.

“I had no intention of pursuing flying,” Meagan explained. “But when I landed I said, ‘Oh my gosh, how long does it take to get a license?’ It was so neat to be able to say that I did it!”

Although she never dreamed that flying would be a part of her life, Meagan flies at least twice a week. She currently is a student pilot and will be getting her private pilot certificate later this month. She believes that flying is ‘in her blood’ since her cousin and great-grandfather were pilots during their lifetime, and her uncle is currently a pilot for Century Aviation. However, she has the proud honor of being the first female in the family to take flight.

“I didn’t even know that my now-deceased great-grandfather, Clayton Douglas, was a pilot until we found his pilot training book while going through his belongings after my great-grandmother passed away,” she said. Meagan proudly displays a picture of him in her office, along with his book.

Meagan’s training included several solo cross-country flights, the longest of which was at least 150 nautical miles and included three full stops to different airports. Also displayed in her office is the shirttail off of the shirt that she wore on her first solo flight. She explained, “After your first solo flight they cut the back of your shirt off. The reason they started that long ago was that they used to have the instructor sitting behind the pilot, and whenever the instructor needed to correct or advise the pilot, he would tug on his shirttail.” After a pilot’s solo flight, he/she no longer needs as much instruction.

“It’s like saying, you can’t tug on my shirt anymore because I know what I’m doing!” she added. Her training school, The Flying Service, is at Tri-City Aviation (TCA) where she is employed. Meagan is an administrative assistant at TCA, where she assists aircraft owners with acquiring hangar space, manages customer accounts, provides customer service to the visitors of TCA and facilitates activities. The company, located at Tri-Cities Airport, provides fuel, rental cars, catering and maintenance to pilots or passengers who may need it.

A graduate of Sullivan Central High School and ETSU, Meagan originally planned to be an elementary school teacher. She worked as a pharmacy technician for 13 years until she got a job at Tri-City Aviation in 2015, three years after her life-changing flying lesson.

“It’s crazy, but flying is a big part of who I am now,” she said.

Meagan was recently awarded a scholarship from the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of women pilots that was founded in 1929 and headed by President Amelia Earhart. Meagan plans to use the scholarship to further her pilot education and earn milestone ratings as a pilot. A local chapter of the Ninety-Nines, The Appalachian Aviatrixes, was recently formed in the Tri-Cities area.

Only six percent of pilots today are females, better known as aviatrixes. Because of her passion for flying and teaching others, Meagan is spearheading an upcoming fundraiser to raise public awareness and financial support for women who are interested in attending flight school. The special fundraising event will take place this week - Sept. 11-18 - at Tri-City Aviation. The week-long event will feature the Arizona Wing Commemorative Air Force and their B-17, Sentimental Journey, along with a P-51 Mustang fighter plane.

“People will have the opportunity to have their picture made in a 1940s-era photo shoot next to the planes,” explained Meagan. All proceeds from the fundraiser will go the Ninety-Nines Appalachian Aviatrixes chapter for their flight scholarship fund.

Meagan has come a long way since taking her first flying lesson. She is now an experienced pilot, the treasurer of the local Ninety-Nines chapter, the Public Affairs Officer for the Civil Air Patrol, and the Airport Support Network Ambassador for the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association). Her passion for flying is evident, as is her love of teaching and wanting to help other women achieve their goals. Her dream is to become a certified flight instructor, combining her love of teaching and of flying.

“I want to help people learn to fly; to be able to teach them what I love. To share my love of aviation by contributing towards the earning of someone’s wings is the ultimate reward,” she said.

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