Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fertile, Polk County, Minnesota: Man accused of shooting at plane, facing attempted murder charge

CROOKSTON, MN (KFGO) - A Fertile man has been charged with attempted murder and assault after a pilot discovered a bullet hole in his small plane following a flight near Fertile last week.

Chad Olson, 51, has been charged. The pilot told Polk County deputies that he heard something hit his airplane, but didn't discover the damage until the next day. There was a hole in the fuselage.

The complaint says Olson, who lives near the Fertile airport, had earlier complained to the Federal Aviation Administration about planes flying over his property and that he may have to use lethal force if he felt threatened by the airplanes.

A friend said Olson was holding a rifle after he heard gunshots and Olson told him not to say anything to investigators. The friend also told a deputy that he saw Olson fire at a plane that was flying over his home last spring and that Olson believed the planes were involved in terrorism.

Olson was released from jail after posting $15,000 bond.

Original article can be found here ➤

Greenwood County Airport (KGRD) land use ordinance gets public hearing

A proposed ordinance that would alter future development opportunities around the Greenwood County Airport will be subject of a public hearing Tuesday.

Among the most high-profile changes would be requiring new subdivisions to include a disclaimer on deeds that the property is within 10,000 feet of an airport, limiting new businesses to no more than 100 employees and mandating that owners of non-conforming structures maintain and install aviation markets at their own expense.

“The regulations set forth in this article are designed to protect, promote and improve the public safety and general welfare by preventing the location of structures or natural growth which would constitute hazards or obstructions to aircraft operating in the vicinity of the county airport. Through these regulations a general compatibility between use of property within the airport and in the vicinity thereof can effectively be brought about,” the ordinance states.

The provision has its origins in a 2012 change to the South Carolina Code of Laws, which tasked the state Aeronautics Commission to create maps delineating what types of land use may be incompatible for airport use and operations.

“The staff here has worked hard with many communities already to address the state code with local ordinance development, but our airports are not all protected with these ordinances yet. The system of airports in South Carolina represents great economic impact and as encroachments happen, that can diminish the utility and value of this critical part of the state’s transportation infrastructure,” James Stephens, the commission’s executive director, said.

With 44 of the state’s 46 counties maintaining a public airport, Stephens said officials expect local governments to review it and create tailored versions.

“As the aeronautics commission continues to have dialogue with our local airport owners, we have been encouraging them to adopt local ordinances that further protect and solidify this oversight for our airports. These local ordinances can be specific to the local airport, and should be customized to meet the specifics of the local community and airport,” he said.

A full copy of the proposed ordinance can be found on the county’s website at

Original article can be found here ➤

Laser pointed at multiple planes around Boston, Federal Aviation Administration says

BOSTON —  Pilots from two separate flights passing through Boston airspace Friday night reported having the cockpit illuminated by a laser pointer, the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed Friday night.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, US Airways flight 3787, operated by Air Wisconsin, was illuminated by a laser 30 miles north of Logan Airport around 7:43 p.m. Friday. The plane was headed to Dulles Airport in Washington from Portland, Maine.

The Federal Aviation Administration said US Airways flight 4188, also operated by Air Wisconsin, reported seeing a laser around the same time. That aircraft was headed to Portland from Philadelphia.

The Federal Aviation Administration said local police were notified and the Federal Aviation Administration was investigating the two incidents.

The laser pointer incidents happened one week after three similar incidents involving planes landing at Logan Airport using a runway that had them fly just north of Boston were reported.

On October 6th, the crew of United Airlines flight 6276 operated by GoJet Airlines from Raleigh-Durham reported a green laser illuminating their cockpit around 9:40 p.m. The crew of Southwest Airlines flight 1480 from Midway Airport in Chicago reported a similar incident around 10:08 p.m. The crew of United Airlines flight 1223 reported the same type of incident around 11:17 p.m.

Online flight records show all three planes passed just north of Logan Airport before landing safely.

In all three of those incidents, the Federal Aviation Administration said Massachusetts State Police were notified and are investigating.

Story and video ➤

Dropping turkeys from planes triggers Arkansas festival flap

To some it's an Ozark Mountain Mardi Gras that includes live turkeys being dropped from a low-flying plane to an eager crowd below. To others, it's just animal abuse.

The 72nd Yellville Turkey Trot opened Friday with questions over whether the turkey drop portion would continue. The Chamber of Commerce for the small northern Arkansas city has distanced itself from the tradition it once endorsed and is hoping a "phantom pilot" won't fly over this weekend. But that hasn't stopped thousands of people from emailing the chamber about doing more to protect the birds.

"Why don't you jump yourselves with no parachute .... Think you'll like it?" one person wrote to the chamber Monday. Others used more colorful language.

Arkansas is one of the nation's top turkey-producing states, and the weekend festival is meant to be a celebration of the bird. There is a 5K run, music and dancing, and the Miss Drumsticks pageant, in which contestants are judged only on their legs. Of course, turkey also stars on food vendors' menus.

"It means fall is here," the Yellville Chamber of Commerce wrote in an open letter. "It means a turkey dinner a few weeks earlier than the rest of America. It means homecoming for many. ... Turkey Trot is so much more than turkeys being released from an airplane."

The festival started a year after World War II as a complement to a turkey calling contest run by the local American Legion hall. During the first turkey drops, which helped the festival draw a crowd, the birds were dropped from the courthouse roof for people to chase, with some becoming pets and the others Thanksgiving dinner. But at least 50 years ago, the switch was made to a small plane.

A 1989 National Enquirer article on the flights sparked outrage and prompted the chamber to cut turkey drops from the festival lineup. But local pilots kept it up, though there were no flights for a time after an animal rights group offered a $5,000 reward for the pilot's arrest. The aerial assault resumed in 2015, and last year a Mountain View pharmacist, Dana Woods, said he was "The Phantom Pilot" at the past two festivals. He wasn't punished, nor were others who have been identified as previous flyers.

"They can fly a long ways," Woods told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last year. "We treat the turkeys right. That may sound ironic, but we don't abuse those turkeys. We coddle and pet those turkeys. We're good to them."

Wild turkeys can fly, but they typically do so from tree top to tree top. Questions over their ability to fly made for a "WKRP in Cincinnati" episode in 1978 after a radio station stunt involving birds dropped from a helicopter went horribly awry.

Last year, about a dozen birds were dropped and not all survived the fall.

"Despite officials' insistence that this is 'humane,' at least two turkeys died last year when they crashed to the ground in what was undoubtedly, for them, a terrifying fall," one critic emailed the chamber.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it hadn't been contacted by any pilots about making a run this year, as it had in previous years.

"FAA regulations don't specifically deal with dropping live animals out of airplanes, so we have no authority to prohibit the practice. This does not mean we endorse it," spokesman Lynn Lunsford said. "We sent an inspector to the first day of the event (last year) to verify that the drops were occurring where the pilot said they would. Based on that, we found no evidence to pursue an enforcement case."

A woman filed a complaint this month with the local prosecutor in an effort to prevent the flights, but nothing has come of it. Bill Sadler, a spokesman for the Arkansas State Police, said his agency typically doesn't work misdemeanor cases. Any investigation would likely occur after a flight, not before one.

"We have no jurisdiction to say you cannot put a turkey on an airplane," Sadler said.

Original article can be found here ➤

F-35 has arrived at Eielson Air Force Base with Norwegian test pilot

FAIRBANKS - An F-35 fighter jet arrived at Eielson Air Force Base Thursday on an equipment-testing mission, according to a news release from the Air Force. It's the first F-35 to land at Eielson.

The F-35A Lightning II is here to test two main types of equipment: the airplane's ability to land on icy runways and a drag-chute modification of the plane that's been requested by the Royal Norwegian Air Force, an F-35 program partner.

It is the same model that will be based at Eielson in 2020. Eielson is scheduled to receive 54 F-35s along with about 3,500 airmen, civilian employees, contractors, and military family members.

During the testing this week, the Air Force will try to demonstrate that F-35s are capable of landing under conditions known as Runway Condition Reading 7. A reading of 23 is considered a dry runway, while a reading of 5 is comparable to landing on ice. The F-35A is now certified to land at a reading of 12.

The drag chute is a modification requested by Norway to help the F-35 land under Arctic conditions. Norwegian test pilot Maj. "Taz" Amdal is at Eielson to demonstrate the drag chute.

Eielson is hosting an event on Tuesday to explain to community leaders the F-35's mission in Alaska.

Original article can be found here ➤

Cherry Capital Airport (KTVC), Traverse City, Michigan: New medical aircraft hangar to improve emergency response time

GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) -- On Saturday, dozens of people attended the official grand opening of the North Flight Aero Med Hangar at Cherry Capital Airport.

The open house offered tours of the brand new hangar and its emergency aircraft.

North Flight Aero Med is a critical care emergency service that serves both Munson Healthcare and Spectrum Health.

People were able to get an inside look at the aircraft, speak to pilots and the paramedics.

Guests were also greeted by Piper the Cherry Capital Airport K-9.

“Prior to the completion of this hangar, we were operating out of multiple spaces here at the airport,” said Tiffany Obetts, program director with North flight Aero Med. “So having the whole team together quickens our response time which is really what is best for patient care.”

The open house also celebrated the one-year anniversary of the joint venture between Munson Healthcare and Spectrum Health.

Original article can be found here ➤

Cessna 172M Skyhawk, N7CF: Fatal accident occurred October 13, 2017 in Ramsey, Anoka County, Minnesota

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:


After takeoff, the pilot proceeded south until reaching the Mississippi River when he proceeded to fly along the river at a low altitude. As the airplane approached a bend in the river, the pilot entered a shallow left turn to follow the river. The airplane subsequently struck power lines spanning the river that were located about 200 yards beyond the bend. Ground-based video footage and witness statements indicated that the airplane was at or below the height of the trees lining both sides of the river shortly before encountering the power lines. One witness initially thought that the pilot intended to fly under the power lines due to the low altitude of the airplane. Several witnesses also noted that the sound of the engine seemed normal and steady before the accident. A post-recovery examination of the airplane did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction.

The power lines were below the level the trees on either side of the river. Red aerial marker balls were installed on the power lines at the time of the accident. Weather conditions were good at the time of the accident; however, the sun was about 9° above the horizon and aligned with the river. It is likely that the position of the sun in relation to the power lines hindered the pilot's ability to identify the hazard as he navigated the bend in the river at low altitude. In addition, the location of the power lines relative to the river bend minimized the reaction time to avoid the lines.

FAA regulations prohibit operation of an aircraft less than 500 feet above the surface in uncongested areas unless approaching to land or taking off, and at least 1,000 feet from obstacles in congested areas. They also prohibit operations in a reckless manner that endanger the life or property of another. Based on the available information, the airplane was less than 100 feet above the river and within 400 feet of the residences located along the river during the final portion of the flight.

The pilot's flight instructor described the pilot as "reckless" because of his habit of low-level flying.

While the location of the bend in the river and the position of the sun relative to the power lines may have hindered the pilot's ability to see and avoid the lines, it was the pilot's decision to operate the airplane along the river at a low altitude contrary to applicable regulations and safety of flight considerations that caused the accident. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: 

The pilot's decision to fly along the river at a low altitude contrary to applicable regulations and safety of flight considerations which resulted in the impact with the power lines. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's inability to see the and avoid the power lines due to their proximity to a bend in the river and the position of the sun at the time of the accident. 


Altitude - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)
Monitoring environment - Pilot (Factor)
Personality - Pilot

Environmental issues
Wire - Contributed to outcome (Cause)
Light condition - Effect on personnel (Factor)
Wire - Ability to respond/compensate (Factor)
Light condition - Ability to respond/compensate (Factor)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying
Low altitude operation/event (Defining event)
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Uncontrolled descent
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

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

Additional Participating Entities:

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

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Chad J. Rygwall: 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Location: Ramsey, MN
Accident Number: CEN18FA011
Date & Time: 10/13/2017, 1734 CDT
Registration: N7CF
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On October 13, 2017, at 1734 central daylight time, a Cessna 172M airplane, N7CF, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with power lines and the Mississippi River near Ramsey, Minnesota. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from the Princeton Municipal Airport (PNM), Princeton, Minnesota, about 1705.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control radar position data depicted an airplane on a visual flight rules (VFR) transponder code near PNM. The initial contact was recorded at 1708 and the airplane subsequently proceeded south. At 1731, the airplane turned toward the southeast for approximately 1 mile before reversing course toward the northwest and proceeding along the Mississippi River. The final data point was recorded at 1733; the airplane was about 0.25 mile east of the Ferry Street Bridge and about 2.5 miles southeast of the power lines at that time. No altitude (mode C) data was available.

Ground-based video footage, taken by a witness located about 200 yards east of the accident site, depicted the airplane flying at low altitude over the Mississippi River. The airplane appeared to be near treetop level proceeding northwest along the river. It appeared to be intact and in a shallow left turn apparently to follow a bend in the river at that location.

Witnesses reported observing the airplane strike power lines as it flew along the river. Several witnesses noted that the airplane was below the level of the trees that lined both sides of the river. One witness initially thought that the pilot intended to fly under the power lines due to the low altitude of the airplane. Several witnesses also noted that the sound of the engine seemed normal and steady before the accident. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 47, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 Waiver Time Limited Special
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/24/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 
Flight Time:  300 hours (Total, all aircraft), 230 hours (Total, this make and model), 270 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft) 

The pilot's private pilot certificate was issued in November 2012. On the application for that certificate, he reported 70 hours total flight time. His pilot logbook was reportedly kept in the airplane; it was not recovered. On his most recent application for an FAA airman medical certificate in March 2017, the pilot reported a total civilian flight time of 300 hours, with 35 hours flown within the preceding 6 months.

The pilot's flight instructor informed FAA inspectors that the pilot was "reckless" when he flew because of his habit of low-level flying. The instructor stated that he had counseled the pilot not to fly in such a manner. The pilot's father also informed FAA inspectors that his son was in the habit of flying at low altitudes along the Mississippi River.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CESSNA
Registration: N7CF
Model/Series: 172M M
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1975
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal; Utility
Serial Number: 17265261
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 05/02/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2299 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 8 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3359.5 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT:  C91A installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-360-A1A
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 180 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

A review of the airplane maintenance records revealed that the originally installed engine, a 150-horsepower Lycoming O-320-E2D, was removed and the accident engine, a 180-horsepower Lycoming O-360-A1A, was installed in December 1984. The originally installed propeller was also changed at that time. The engine/propeller retrofit was completed under Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) SA807CE. In December 1986, the airframe was converted from a tricycle landing gear configuration to a tail wheel landing gear configuration under STC SA5433SW. In May 1996, an 18-gallon supplemental fuel tank was installed in the aft baggage compartment under STC SA615NE.

Maintenance records indicated that testing and inspection of the transponder was completed in September 2010. The records contained no subsequent entries related to the transponder. The pilot's mechanic confirmed that the airplane was equipped with automatic pressure altitude reporting equipment having Mode C capability. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: MIC, 869 ft msl
Observation Time: 1753 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 160°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 14°C / -2°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots, 10°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.1 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Princeton, MN (PNM)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Princeton, MN (PNM)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1705 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

According to data obtained from the U.S. Naval Observatory, at the time of the accident, the sun was approximately 9° above the horizon to the west-southwest (249°). Sunset was at 1831 on the day of the accident.

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  45.218056, -93.433889 

The airplane impacted a set of four power lines installed across the Mississippi River. The river was about 190 yards wide and was bordered by wooded areas on both sides at that location. The power lines were located about 200 yards west of a bend in the river. The river was oriented to the northwest (about 300°) east of the bend. West of the bend, the river was oriented to the southwest (about 250°).

The power lines were installed with dual-pole supports on each shoreline. The poles extended about 47 feet above ground level, which was about the height of the trees along either river bank. According to witness statements, the power lines were equipped with red aerial marker balls.

The airplane was recovered from the river two days after the accident; however, the wings and cabin doors had separated from the fuselage and were not recovered. A postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction. A detailed summary of the examination is included in docket associated with the investigation. 

Medical And Pathological Information

An autopsy of the pilot was performed at the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office in Ramsey, Minnesota, on October 16, 2017. The pilot's death was attributed to blunt force injuries sustained in the accident. Toxicology testing performed by the FAA Bioaeronautical Research Sciences Laboratory was negative for all drugs in the testing profile. 

Additional Information

FAA regulations (14 CFR 91.13) prohibit the operation of "an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another." Furthermore, except when necessary for takeoff or landing, the regulations (14 CFR 91.119) require pilots to maintain an altitude of at least 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a 2,000-foot horizontal radius of the aircraft in congested areas. In uncongested areas, pilots must maintain at least 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, an aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle or structure.

FAA regulations (14 CFR 91.215) require aircraft operated within 30 miles of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport from the surface to 10,000 feet mean sea level to be equipped with an operable transponder and Mode C-capable automatic pressure altitude reporting equipment. In addition, the regulations (14 CFR 91.413) specify that a transponder may not be used unless it has been tested and inspected within the preceding 24 months. The accident site was located within 30 miles of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

NTSB Identification: CEN18FA011
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, October 13, 2017 in Ramsey, MN
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M, registration: N7CF
Injuries: 2 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 October 13, 2017, at 1734 central daylight time, a Cessna 172M airplane, N7CF, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with power lines and the Mississippi River near Ramsey, Minnesota. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by private individuals as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from the Princeton Municipal Airport (PNM), Princeton, Minnesota, about 1700.

Ground-based video footage depicted the airplane flying at a low altitude over the Mississippi River about 200 yards east of the accident site. The airplane appeared to be near treetop level proceeding northwest along the river. It appeared to be intact and in a shallow left turn apparently to follow a bend in the river at that location.

Witnesses reported observing the airplane strike power lines as it was flying along the river. Several witnesses noted that the airplane was below the level of the trees, which lined both sides of the river. One witness initially thought that the pilot intended to fly under the power lines due to the low altitude of the airplane. Several witnesses also noted that the sound of the engine seemed normal and steady before the accident.

The airplane impacted a set of four power lines installed horizontally across the river. The lines were installed with dual-pole supports on each shoreline. The supports did not appear to extend above the height of trees along either river bank. According to witness statements, the lines were equipped with red aerial marker balls.

The river was about 190 yards wide in the vicinity of the accident site and was bordered by wooded areas on both sides. The accident site was located near a bend in the river. The video footage and witness statements indicted that the airplane approached from the southeast. The section of the river approaching the bend was oriented to the northwest (about 300 degrees), while the section past the bend was oriented to the southwest (about 250 degrees), requiring an approximate 50-degree left turn to navigate the river. The power lines were located about 200 yards beyond the bend as the airplane proceeded northwest along the river.

According to data obtained from the U.S. Naval Observatory, at the time of the accident, the sun was approximately 9 degrees above the horizon to the west-southwest (249 deg). Sunset was at 1831 on the day of the accident.

Chad Rygwall loved flying his plane, family members said.

Jill Rygwall
Princeton, Minn., School District

Chad Rygwall on the day he got his pilot’s license.

Flying over obstacles
June 1, 2015 

To fly… to soar over the treetops, looking down at lakes and streams, roofs and roads – that is the dream of many young boys.  Chad Rygwall, of Princeton, was no exception.

Chad was lucky enough to have an uncle who was a pilot, so he was able to get a taste of his dream at a young age. He accompanied his uncle Jim on trips to the North Shore, Mille Lacs, and all over Minnesota. His favorite trip with his uncle was going to the North Shore, especially in the fall, when the leaves turned to golds and fiery reds and the blue of Lake Superior stretched out below. Chad looked forward to the day when he could be the one at the controls, and hoped for a career as a commercial pilot.

But a high school diagnosis of color blindness dashed Chad’s dreams before he could begin training for his pilot’s license. Becoming a commercial pilot when you are color blind is an unlikely outcome – most folks would say it is impossible. (The term color blindness is misleading – it does not mean being blind to all colors, but rather having difficulty distinguishing between colors.  So people who are color blind may see reds as pinks or browns, and may not be able to distinguish between different colors of green.  Since airports use colored lights to signal planes, it is important that pilots be able to tell the difference between colors.)  Chad gave up his dream of being a pilot, instead going to school for HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and building maintenance.

Many years later, with his career in full swing, Chad began to think again about flying.  When uncle Jim’s son, Brian, got his pilot’s license, Chad accompanied him a number of times on short flights around Minnesota. But a family and job kept him busy; for many years he didn’t find time to go flying.  Finally, when a health issue cropped up around Chad’s 40th birthday, he began to think again about flying.

According to Chad, his health concerns definitely influenced his decision.  “It was kind of like a bucket list,” he said.

Another flight with his cousin, Brian, cemented the idea.  “That was when I decided to go for it,” said Chad, and he began to do some research into getting his pilot’s license.

It didn’t take long before Chad found that, although color blindness may prevent a person from getting a commercial pilot’s license, a private license is not quite as restrictive.

“You do have to pass another test through the Federal Aviation Administration.  You have to learn a different way to know which color is which,” explained Chad.  The FAA also has your license flagged based on your degree of color blindness, so you might not be able to fly at night or under certain conditions.

The health issues were also something he had to contend with.  Chad had to have a medical exam, including blood tests, and has to complete a “stress test” every two years.  A medical certificate from an FAA-approved doctor every two years is a requirement.

Chad soon discovered that a friend of his cousin’s is a flight instructor.   Jason Erickson, Brian’s friend, is not just a certified flight instructor; he is the owner of Ascend Aviation, a flight school with locations in both Princeton and Maple Lake.  In fact, the Princeton location is just a few miles from Chad’s home.

Soon Chad was taking lessons from Jason at Ascend Aviation, who commutes by air between the Princeton and Maple Lake locations.

“He takes you up; you do maneuvers, steep turns, stalls, circles, all kinds of things.  After about 10 hours you learn how to take off and land.  Then there is more practice,” said Chad.  A minimum of 40 hours flight time is required in order to get a private pilot’s license.

“You also have to do a certain amount of hours of ground school and pass written tests.  And you have to do two solo cross-country trips – flying by maps,” said Chad.

The entire process took 13 months.  Then there was the test – a 2 ½ – 3 hour ordeal including a written test, an oral test, and then an air test – going up in the air with the examiner.

“You show them all your maneuvers – turns, stalls, steep turns, and emergency landings,” remembered Chad, “and if you pass, they sign off.”

Chad was thrilled that he was able to pass the first time.  He got his license on Nov. 19, 2012, and has been flying ever since.  Soon after Chad got his pilot’s license he purchased a Cessna 172 Taildragger, which, he explains, is like a bush plane. It has big tires and can land on grass, on the beach, on tundra, wherever you want to.

Chad flies now about two to three days a week, depending on the weather.  His wife, Jill, and son, Andrew, have gone with him on short trips throughout Minnesota.  They have attended festivals and “fly-ins” and have even taken trips just to go to lunch somewhere.  Since he can land anywhere with the Taildragger, he has visited neighbors and friends, even landing in a field behind his house (by permission, of course).

But Chad’s favorite trip is still heading to the North Shore in the fall – flying above the trees and along the shore, with the blue lake and the gorgeous reds and yellows of the leaves painting a beautiful and varied palette below him.

Original article  ➤

The two people killed Friday night when a small plane nose-dived into the Mississippi River in Ramsey have been identified as a couple from Princeton, Minn., who shared a love of flying.

They were on a low-altitude scenic flight over the rain-swollen river around 5:30 p.m. Friday when their single-engine Cessna struck power lines over the river near the 6400 block of Riverdale Drive NW., Lt. Brent Erickson of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office said Saturday.

“Just a husband and wife out for a flight and, unfortunately, tragedy,” he said. “He was flying upriver … in a westerly direction. The skies were clear last night. … He may have been blinded by the sun. That may have played a part in him not being able to see the power lines.”

No one else was on board.

A salvage crew worked the river Saturday after sonar scans found the fuselage and one of the wings about 300 yards downriver from the power lines. High, swift water full of swirling debris prevented divers from entering the water.

The body of the presumed passenger, Jill M. Rygwall, 48, of Princeton, was found in the river shortly after the crash. The body of her husband, whose name has not been released by authorities, is believed to be in the underwater wreckage, Erickson said.

Public records identify him as Chad J. Rygwall, 47, and confirm that he has had a private pilot’s license for five years. A single-engine Cessna is registered in his name.

A 2005 article on the Senior Perspective magazine website said that Rygwall was colorblind but had dreamed of being a pilot like his relatives. It said Federal Aviation Administration rules restricted him from flying at night and he had to receive special medical certification every two years to retain his license.

Chad Rygwall became enamored with flying as a child when his uncle flew him over the forests of the North Shore, but he didn’t get his license until after a severe heart attack a few years ago, said his cousin, Brian Rygwall, who also is a pilot. “I mean, he took every chance he could to fly. He took Jill, his wife, up all the time, and I’m assuming they just went up and were having a joy ride like they always do.”

Brian Rygwall was flying back from Los Angeles when he heard air traffic radio transmissions about the crash, but he didn’t know who it was until someone called him at home.

Jill Rygwall worked in special education in the Princeton School District. She graduated in 1991 from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn.

“Jill was very kind in her work with special needs students, helping them to meet their goals,” Princeton Superintendent Julia Espe said. “She will be greatly missed.”

The Rygwalls have a son, Andrew, 13, who is with his grandparents.

The plane flew out of the small Princeton airport. National Transportation Safety Board officials are participating in the investigation.

Lora Hamilton, 83, of Ramsey, said Friday that she was dining at her home near the river when she saw the plane. “It was below tree height,” she said. Then she heard the crash.

Chad and Jill Rygwall were married for 23 years. Their deaths have devastated the family, Brian Rygwall said. “As happy as the two of them were, they were the model couple.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Chad Rygwall’s small plane was pulled from the Mississippi River in Anoka County on Sunday afternoon and, as expected, the body of the 47-year-old Princeton, Minn., man was found inside, sheriff’s officials said. 

Anoka County sheriff’s deputies solemnly packed away gear and wrapped up their efforts on the river as Lt. Brent Erickson talked to the media Sunday afternoon in Mississippi Point Park in Champlin.

Erickson said the Anoka and Hennepin County dive teams and a local salvage company tried to recover the plane Saturday evening but the swift current and swirling debris made it too dangerous.

A commercial diving company was contacted and a diver was in the water by noon Sunday. The diver reached the wreckage, attached lines and the plane was pulled from the water about 12:45 p.m. on the Dayton side of the river, Erickson said.

Rygwall’s body was taken to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s office in Ramsey about 1:40 p.m., Erickson said.

The body of his wife, Jill Rygwall, 48, had been found in the river shortly after the crash Friday in the late afternoon. The couple, both flying enthusiasts, were on a sightseeing flight, flying low to see the fall colors.

Chad Rygwall, the pilot, hit power lines that stretched across the river and the plane nose-dived into the water. The wreckage was found by sonar about 300 yards downriver from the power lines.

The National Transportation Safety Board was expected to arrive at the scene Sunday afternoon; the FAA was on the scene and helping with the investigation, Erickson said.

Erickson said the water was about 12 feet deep and about 52 degrees.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen [the river] this high in the fall,” he said. “This is more indicative of spring levels.”

The Rygwalls’ flight originated from the Princeton airport. 

Rygwall had had a private pilot’s license for five years and the single-engine Cessna was registered in his name.

Original article can be found here ➤

It will be some time, of course, before federal investigators release the cause of the plane crash near Ramsey last evening, in which a Cessna plunged into the Mississippi River, the fourth fatal plane crash in Minnesota in 2017.

But the Star Tribune’s report from a witness provides a possibility.

Witnesses who called 911 reported the plane was flying low — at or below the treetops — and heading upriver when it hit power lines stretched across the river and “did a nose-dive into the river,” he said. According to witness statements, the plane did not appear to have engine trouble.

“Why the pilot didn’t see the power lines or why he was flying low … we are unsure,” Erickson said.

The Mississippi River — any winding river, really — has always been inviting to pilots to fly low along its winding course. The scenery is beautiful, the sense of speed of an airplane is enhanced, and the perspective is unmatched.

It’s also exceedingly dangerous.

“Those lured by low flying often do not consider the possibility of tangling with wires or striking birds, the likelihood of which increases as one gets closer to the ground,” Barry Schiff, an airline pilot and columnist for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, writes. “Another problem is that low-flying pilots do not allow sufficient time and altitude to cope with mechanical problems that can develop. Inadvertently running a fuel tank dry might only be an annoyance at altitude, but the same experience at 100 feet can force a landing with little or no choice of landing sites.”

But some pilots do it anyway.

Power lines across a river are indicated on pilot navigation maps, but a lot of pilots no longer use the maps or pay attention to much detail, depending on a GPS instead.

I had a friend a few years ago who posted a video of his flight down the Mississippi south of St. Paul, skimming the surface no more than a foot or two above the water. He was lucky because there aren’t many power lines across the river in that area once you get past the Wakota Bridge. I doubt whether he knew it one way or the other.

We urged him to stop doing it and, at the very least, take the video down so the Federal Aviation Administration wouldn’t see it.

One problem is the Federal Aviation Administration regulations are vaguely defined. Pilots are required to fly at least 1,000 feet higher than the tallest structure over “congested” areas and fly at least 500 feet high over “other than congested areas.” The rules allow them to fly lower as long as they don’t come any closer than 500 feet of any person, vehicle, or structure.

The Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t define what constitutes a structure. Is a power line a structure?

In the absence of such detail, it expects pilots to use common sense, fly safely, and listen to the old-timers’ admonishments that just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

Original article and videos ➤

A couple from Princeton was in a Cessna 172M Skyhawk that crashed into the Mississippi River in Anoka Friday evening, according to the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.

Jill Marie Rygwall, 48, was found Friday night and pulled from the water by witnesses. Resuscitation efforts failed and Rygwall was pronounced dead at the scene. Her husband, believed to be the pilot, has not been found or identified, the sheriff’s office said Saturday. The couple has a 13-year-old son who is currently in the custody of his grandparents.

Police responded to a call around 5:30 Friday night about a plane down two miles northwest of the Ferry Street bridge over the Mississippi. Witnesses reported the plane had hit a power line before going down into the Mississippi. There were no indications of mechanical issues with the airplane prior to the crash, according to the sheriff’s office.

The plane took off from the Princeton Airport Friday afternoon, but because the airport is unregulated, the sheriff’s office does not know the exact time of takeoff or the destination.

Recovery efforts have been limited by the high water level and extreme current conditions, the sheriff’s office said. Divers arrived to help, but reported it was unsafe for them to enter the water. Sonar equipment was used to locate the fuselage and one wing of the plane.

“Rescue efforts are really being hampered by the fast current. The location of the wreckage is in about 12 feet of water, so that hampers the efforts as well. It’s not shallow,” Anoka County Lieutenant Brent Erickson said Saturday.

Erickson said the recovery efforts may last several days.

Original article can be found here ➤

Luxury jet buyers think resale value in tough market

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Members of the elite private jet set are customizing their planes with full-sized showers, beds and windows - but when it comes to decorating, an increasing number are steering clear of gold panels and gaudy features, opting instead for the airborne equivalent of beige.

The reason, industry executives said at a convention in Las Vegas this week, is fear of getting stuck with a highly personalized aircraft that will not fetch a good price in today’s competitive market for used business jets.

To win sales, planemakers like Brazil’s Embraer SA offer interchangeable seats and arm rests to make the planes easier to resell, but still have original design options for their elite clients with names like Sky Ranch and Kyoto Airship.

“If you make it Moulin-Rouge on the interior it’s going to be a (multimillion-dollar) refurb in the aftermarket, so that’s a problem,” said Jay Beever, an Embraer vice president for interior designs, referring to the historic Paris cabaret.

The low prices of used aircraft have limited demand for new jets, forecasters said. Deliveries of new planes are seen staying flat until 2019, even though profits on the S&P 500 have grown at a double-digit rate over the last two quarters.

“We see that customers are going toward a more simplified aesthetic when specifying their business jets because they are becoming savvy with respect to the residual or resale value of their aircraft,” said Anna Cristofaro, a spokeswoman for Bombardier Inc. business aircraft.

Financiers have a strong preference for generic aircraft without highly configured interiors or garish color schemes because they are easier to resell in the case of default, said Paul Sykes, director of FlyFunder, an online site dedicated to aircraft finance.

Ken Hill, chief executive of California-based Business Aircraft Sales Corp, which repossesses aircraft for banks, recalled how he once seized an all-black Cessna plane for a client that had to be repainted for about $65,000 before it could be sold.

While the market has taken a conservative turn, private jet company executives said there remains an elite cadre of wealthy customers who want it all --queen-sized beds, showers and, in one case, a holographic projection system.

Bedrooms are popular on Bombardier’s long-range Global 7000 jet, which lists for almost $73 million and is sold out until 2021.

Embraer offers versions of its Lineage aircraft that integrate wood and brass nautical accents for yacht lovers, and a Japanese-themed plane with a sushi table. The separate bedroom on an Embraer Lineage 1000, a business jet converted from an Embraer E190 regional jetliner that lists for $53 million, is an attraction for female chief executives who want to sleep apart from male co-workers, said Beever.

“There are certain individuals who don’t care because they just want what they want,” said Beever. “So the challenge is to come up with ways to personalize and customize (those jets) so they get what they want, but maybe make it easier to refurb later.”

Beever recalled how the availability of a 20-inch-by-36-inch (51 cm-by-91-cm) window helped persuade one customer to buy a Lineage after years of shopping around. Embraer makes the oversized window using borrowed technology from the jets it modified for search and rescue for the Brazilian coast guard.

“Not one of those conversations ever (focused on) resale value,” Beever said. “Though, what he has is resellable.”

One customer request Beever said he could not fulfill was the use of holographic technology on board that would produce the appearance of a ghostlike image similar to scenes from the “Star Wars” movies.

“That was an exotic request for me.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Airline passengers accused of hiding cocaine in their neck pillows

NEWARK -- Two airline flyers face drug distribution charges after customs officers found more than 6 kilograms of cocaine sewn inside the neck pillows they were carrying at Newark Liberty International Airport, federal officials said Thursday.

Rafael Francisco Bautista Perdomo, and Brenda Alyssa Mancebo, both 20, were arrested Wednesday after they arrived on a flight from Las Americas International Airport in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, according to authorities.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers discovered approximately 3 kilograms of cocaine in each of two neck pillows, which the duo brought as carry on items on the flight, authorities said. Officers uncovered the contraband during routine baggage screening.

Perdomo admitted he agreed to transport the drug-filled pillow from the Dominican Republic to Newark in exchange for about $10,000, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case. He claimed not to know Mancebo

She also initially told federal agents she didn't recognize Perdomo, but that claim was apparently debunked by photos that investigators found on her cell phone, the court document stated.

"Law enforcement conducted a lawful search of Mancebo's phone, where law enforcement discovered multiple pictures of Perdomo that appeared to have been taken by Perdomo himself," a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations said in court papers.

There was also a saved photo of the pair together days before the arrest, according to the compliant.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Perdomo and Mancebo were ordered detained without bail after a hearing in Newark federal court.

Story and comments ➤

Mohnton, Berks County, Pennsylvania: Man gets thrill from foreboding flight

Six months ago, Paul Borish bought a one-way ticket to HEL, and on Friday the 13th, sitting in row 13, he made the trip.

Borish, 60, of Mohnton was on board Finnair flight AY666 from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Helsinki on Friday.

Take-off was at 1300 hours (1 p.m.).

"Almost a third of the people that I told I was doing this just acted like they couldn't hear me, they were so freaked out," he said.

To the relief (or perhaps disappointment) of everyone on board, there was no system malfunction or devilish mischief of any kind, and they touched down in Helsinki ahead of schedule.

Borish went to Copenhagen specifically to take the foreboding flight, and he decided to plan a short vacation around it. He'll be in Helsinki until Monday. He said he likes to make plans by ear and wait until he's on site so he can talk to locals and look up the most popular attractions. There's an island near the city that he said he might check out over the weekend.

Although he'd never taken this particular flight before, Borish, who works at Reading Hospital, is a frequent traveler. A few weeks ago he spent a weekend in China, and before that he was in Vancouver, B.C., with his wife and daughter. Earlier in the year, the family traveled to Iceland and Spain.

"That's kind of the best part of this hobby, being able to show my 10-year-old daughter the world," Borish said.

Borish said that although some people couldn't believe he would willingly choose to board a flight numbered 666, others weren't surprised. He's had a number of dangerous adventures in his life, including a three-year stint living in the Alaskan Bush. During that time, he said he once hitched a ride on a small mail-delivery plane during a snowstorm.

"We were actually (flying) sideways a few times," he said. "I had a death grip on the seat of the plane."

Finnair has operated AY666 from Copenhagen to Helsinki for 11 years, and in that time the flight has fallen on Friday the 13th a total of 21 times.

On Oct. 29, AY666 will change to AY954. Finnair said on Twitter that the company is making changes to flight numbers because the business is growing and adding new flights, not because of superstition.

In a tweet announcing the safe landing of AY666, Finnair left followers with a teaser:

"Farewell to Finnair AY666, but remember, we still have a flight from SIN to HEL ;)"

Story and photo gallery ➤