Saturday, November 11, 2017

Major General Marion Carl exhibit features restored plane he flew as student

EUGENE, Ore. -- He was the Marine Corps' first "ace" in World War II, was a decorated test pilot and was a proud resident of Douglas County for many years.

The man was Major General Marion Carl.

Directors of the Oregon Air and Space Museum hosted a three-day exhibit and tribute to the famed aviator that ended Saturday.

Marion Carl's Marine Corps career spanned 34 years - from WWII through the Korean and Vietnam wars.

“He became an ace, shot down 18 enemy aircraft, and after WWII he was a test pilot, he and Chuck Yeager,” said Oregon Air and Space Museum President Bruce Lamont. “I think he set the speed record first, then Yeager bested him.”

Lamont says the centerpiece of the exhibit is the fully restored small plane that General Carl first flew as a student at Oregon State College.

It's a 1937 Taylor J-2 Cub on loan to the museum from the Marion Carl Foundation in Douglas County.

Story, video and photo gallery ➤

Missouri high court remands dispute between aviation supplier and distributor for new trial

en banc 

Opinion issued October 31, 2017:

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Supreme Court has issued a mixed ruling in a contractual dispute between a manufacturer of aircraft instruments and a company that distributed its products. 

In a unanimous ruling issued Oct. 31, the full court reversed in part and remanded for a new trial on damages a case before Jackson County Circuit Judge James F. Kanatzar involving Sun Aviation's claims against L-3 Communications Avionics Systems.

Sun Aviation brought a four-count suit claiming L-3 violated the Franchise Act by failing to provide timely, written notice of termination; violated the Industrial Maintenance and Construction Power Equipment Act (IMCPE) by terminating the parties' business relationship without good cause; violated the Inventory Repurchase Act by refusing to repurchase inventory; and fraudulently concealed plans of its parent company's consolidation plans, which ultimately led to the dissolution of the parties' business relationship.

According to background information in the ruling, Sun Aviation distributed L-3's "gyros," which can calculate and display an aircraft's position, and power supply products. When L-3's parent company went through a consolidation process, it decided to end L-3's distributorship with Sun Aviation and directed L-3 to do so, the ruling states.

Prior to a bench trial, Kanatzar granted Sun Aviation's motion for partial summary judgment regarding liability, but not damages on the first, second and third counts, the ruling states. The case proceeded to trial on damages on those counts as well as liability and damages on the fourth count.

Kanatzar awarded damages to Sun Aviation on all counts.

L-3's appeal went to the Missouri Court of Appeals, and later the Supreme Court allowed it to be transferred to the higher court.

Regarding counts II and III, the Supreme Court held that "neither product at issue fits the definition of "industrial, maintenance and construction power equipment, as applicable in the IMCPE Act and the Inventory Repurchase Act."

Regarding count IV, the court held that "L-3 had no duty to disclose its parent's consolidation plan to Sun, which eventually led to the termination of the parties' business relationship. The circuit court's judgment on Count IV is reversed."

Chief Justice Zel M. Fischer wrote the opinion for the unanimous decision.

Original article can be found here ➤

Drone operators could be fined $25K for Alex Fraser Bridge stunts

A group of drone operators whose stunts over the Alex Fraser Bridge sparked two separate investigations last month is facing a potential fine of up to $25,000, CTV News has learned.

Members of Rotor Riot sent a drone zooming up and down the towers of the busy crossing back in October, then uploaded the video to their YouTube page. 

Both the Delta Police Department and Transport Canada launched investigations into the stunts, and on Friday the group said it is facing a stiff penalty in the tens of thousands of dollars. 

Though the video shows a steady stream of cars and trucks crossing the Alex Fraser, Rotor Riot founder Chad Kapper insists they never actually flew the drone over any vehicles.

"I would never recommend people flying over crowds of people or traffic or any place where a mistake is going to make it very dangerous," Kapper told CTV News from Ohio.

Rotor Riot believes its operators were being safe, but local drone experts and police disagree.

Rob Brooks of Candrone, which runs courses on unmanned aerial vehicle use, said the drone in the video was flown too close to cars. He also suggested the operators were breaking the rules by using first-person view goggles to pilot the device.

"Technically their drone is not within the line of sight, so that is a direct violation," Brooks said.

Delta police also feared that if the group had lost control of the drone, it could have plummeted down into a vehicle, potentially triggering a chain reaction crash on the bridge.

Kapper told CTV News the group's pilots are seasoned professionals, and have learned to fly in different climates and conditions all over the world. He did say he is concerned about less-skilled copycats trying to emulate their stunts.

"Always that possibility," Kapper said. "Am I concerned about it? Yeah, to a certain extent, but you can only do so much."

Transport Canada considers YouTube videos like Rotor Riot's to be a commercial operation, meaning they face heavy fines and are subject to stricter rules than recreational users.

The maximum fine faced by hobbyists is $3,000.

Story and video ➤

Grand Junction Regional Airport (KGJT) will keep its file on fraud case closed

The Grand Junction Regional Airport’s internal case file on its investigation into fraud allegations that sparked a federal probe will remain a closed book.

Airport board members noted Thursday that the airport rejected a request by two tenants to see the file now that the case is over.

The tenants, Bill Marvel and Dave Shepard, who had filed a whistleblower case against the airport, sought the file under Colorado Open Records Act statutes.

The file, however, is covered under an attorney-client privilege and contains work product, said board member Chuck McDaniel, an attorney.

It also contains records of discussions with employees that were made under an arrangement that they wouldn’t be made public.

“We intend to abide by that,” McDaniel said.

Marvel said the investigative file ought to be considered an open public record, but “it’s their call and not ours.”

The records relate to an investigation by the airport, which ran parallel to the FBI investigation that became public in November 2013 with a raid on airport offices. The FBI investigation was an outgrowth of Marvel and Shepard’s case, which was filed under seal in federal court.

Marvel and Shepard’s request for the file arrived at the airport as members of the board’s compliance committee were discussing it on Monday.

Jane Quimby, who along with attorney Bill Taylor conducted the internal investigation, received the file from a former airport board member, Rick Wagner, and delivered it to McDaniel, McDaniel said.

“Before that, the Airport did not have a copy — I had asked,” McDaniel said in an email.

Wagner confirmed that he gave the file to Quimby. Wagner sat on the litigation committee during the investigation and dealt with a range of issues, including negotiating a non-prosecution agreement for the board with the U.S. Department of Justice. He also dealt with a range of other matters arising out of the federal investigation.

The compliance committee, which included himself and board member Erling Braebeck and others, were meeting Monday with Quimby “at the time the request arrived in Mark Achen’s email inbox (he attended part of the meeting),” McDaniel said in the email. “The notebook was on the table and was a part of the discussion.”

Marvel said he was aware that the airport had the file “from one of the meetings,” but that he didn’t recall anything specific.

Quimby declined to comment on Friday. Shepard didn’t respond to a request for comment.

McDaniel wanted the committee “to learn a little more about what happened in the airport that caused the investigations so we can deal with references to those times from others and to be sure we plan compliance programs that avoid repeating history,” he said in an email.

“A number of the new commissioners have met with Jane to learn about this history. Since the notebook is the record of the internal investigation, I took it to the meeting.”

Discussion about the notebook centered on how the investigation was done and by whom, and who was interviewed, McDaniel said. 

Original article can be found here ➤

Chapman Memorial Award to help student fly: Top student, Deverick Clingwall, honored by contribution to his aviation dreams

Okanagan College Aircraft Maintenance Engineering student and recipient of the Chapman Memorial Award Deverick Clingwall stands beside Michaela Chapman who established the award in honor of her husband Brad and son Florian. 

Losing her husband and son to a tragic plane crash two years ago led Michaela Chapman to contemplate how she could honour their memory. Today, an Okanagan College student is completing his education with her help, thanks to a memorial award that Chapman has established.

Pilot Brad Chapman and his eldest son, Florian, passed away in October 2015 when their Cessna 207 crashed on takeoff. In honour of her husband and son, Michaela Chapman established the Chapman Memorial Award which enables Okanagan College students in Vernon to reach their educational goals in the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME-M) program.

“Okanagan College is virtually in our front yard and I thought it would be a good idea to support our region’s budding aviation professionals and help students carry forward in their education,” says Chapman. “Being married to a pilot and also knowing many pilots, I know how important it is for them to look after their airplanes and for the industry to have people with the know-how to take care of the machines.”

The award was recently given to Deverick Clingwall, an AME-M student based out of Vernon. Clingwall is currently finishing the final 14 weeks of training at Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek.

“I was honoured to receive this award and am so deeply thankful for the Chapman family,” says Clingwall. “Being able to meet Mrs. Chapman and talk to her was very personal, it was a new level that I’ve never experienced before, we really connected.”

Like Brad and Florian, Clingwall has a passion and extensive history in aviation. From age two and a half, he knew he wanted to become a pilot and since then has achieved both his private and glider pilot licenses’ as well as float endorsements – all before age 17. Clingwall is now currently working on his commercial pilot’s license while completing the AME-M program.

“My career goal is to be a commercial pilot, which is why I chose to enroll in the college’s AME-M diploma because like any vehicle or machine, if you’re going to be operating it, you should know what makes it tick,” says Clingwall.

Clingwall recently represented the college and placed fourth in the Aircraft Maintenance Competition at Skills BC. He is active in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, volunteers with the bi-annual Salmon Arm airshow and is involved in the Vernon and Salmon Arm flying clubs.

“He’s one of the top students we’ve ever put through the AME-M diploma,” says Dale Martel, Chair of Aircraft Maintenance Program. “Deverick is extremely dedicated to aviation and well deserving of this award.”

Every year the Okanagan College Foundation distributes awards to students like Clingwall. The foundation will present 44 awards totaling $38,150 to students studying at the college’s Vernon campus in the upcoming Student Awards Reception ceremony on Nov. 15.

Original article ➤

Cessna 207, C-GNVZ, Chapman Corporate Air Services: Fatal accident occurred October 16, 2015 in Baldonnel, British Columbia, Canada

Leonard Bradley Chapman, 56, died October 16, 2015 when the plane he was piloting crashed during takeoff.

Florian Chapman with his wife Jillian.

VERNON - A father and son from Vernon died doing something they both loved: going ‘wheels up’.

Brad Chapman, 56, learned to fly in his 40s and passed that passion onto his oldest son, Florian, 26, who got his pilot’s license as a teenager. As key principals in the Chapman Group of Companies, flying offered them a quick way of getting around to the company’s various work sites — but Brad and Florian, both outdoor enthusiasts, also stole time when they could to fly to remote fishing and hunting locations. When it came to balancing work, play and family, Brad and Florian were the classic example of ‘like father like son’ — both found a way to live life to its fullest in all aspects. 

Something went wrong on October 16, 2015, as the pair was taking off from a gravel site near Taylor, B.C. The Cessna 207 they were in crashed and burned on the runway. Father and son didn't make it.

Brad founded LB Chapman Construction in 1989 as a one man operation and grew it into a thriving company now employing more than 50 people and boasting one of the largest gravel crushing operations in the province. Formerly a meat cutter at Safeway, Brad started the construction company with just a single excavator.

With his wife Michaela — his partner in life and in business — they raised five children on a ranch just west of Vernon. It was there that Florian, ‘Flo’ to his friends and family, learned the ethic of hard work. In his spare time, he put his heavy equipment skills to work building a state-of-the-art dirt bike track on the ranch. The Kalamalka Secondary School grad was passionate about sports and the outdoors, with snowmobiling and dirt-biking among his favourite pastimes.

The adventurous family loved to travel and have fond memories of trips to Europe and Africa. Flo’s graduation present was a month-long safari to south Africa with his brother — a trip of a lifetime that left them both with incredible stories to tell.

Travel was something Flo shared with his wife, Jillian, as well. They kept a map of the world hanging at home with coloured pins showing all the places they went together, among them Italy, Germany, Egypt and Tanzania. It was on their trip to Zanzibar in 2014 that Flo proposed. They married on Aug. 2, 2015.

Flo’s family members describe him as gentle, romantic, wise beyond his years and incredibly strong, with ‘a smile as big and honest as the sun'.

Brad was all at once the epitome of family man, businessman and community leader. He built lasting relationships with his corporate family and business colleagues that often turned into personal friendships. A successful and hard-nosed businessman, Brad wasn’t always liked by all who knew him, but he was certainly respected. He was also a champion for his community, and could be counted on to donate to local charities and initiatives around the North Okanagan.

Brad loved flying, but was aware of the potential dangers and had lost friends in plane-related accidents. Still, he never passed up an opportunity to go ‘wheels up'. In honor of his passion for flying, his family asks that memorial donations be made to Okanagan College, where funds will be used for an aviation scholarship.

Original article can be found here ➤

Julian Reiss’s Missing Airplane Engine

by Richard Tucker

Julian Reiss’s plane crash on the evening of Halloween 1958 remains one of the more unusual in the Adirondacks. While most Adirondack plane crashes involve Forest Rangers, State Police, and many civilian volunteers, this one was different. This search was over almost before it got started when the ‘victims’ walked out of the woods the next day. Shortly thereafter, the Lake Placid village police, the NY State Police and its investigation division, the BCI, became involved.

Earlier that day Reiss had picked up his plane in Norwood, MA, where it had gotten a new engine and a thorough checkout. He then flew to Immaculata College in Malvern, PA, where he landed on the front lawn to pick up his daughter Patti before heading home to Lake Placid. He stopped for fuel in Warren County and continued homeward. Around 6 pm he flew into a violent cold front with squally winds, rain, sleet and snow flurries.

He was flying level at 11,000 feet, well above the highest peaks, when ice began forming on the wings, fuselage and propeller of his Helio Courier. The plane was getting heavier and heavier. Suddenly, the ice flew off one of the three propeller blades on this single-engine plane. The engine began shaking violently due to the imbalance.

Mr. Reiss, a pilot since 1944, throttled the engine down to reduce the shaking and went into a slow descending glide. He realized how lucky it was that his propeller had three blades, not two, or it would have been far worse. About this time his air speed indicator stopped working — it was probably also covered with ice. He tried to radio the authorities, but his radio seemed not to be working either. At 6 or 7,000 feet, his radio direction finder (RDF) suddenly picked up the signal from WNBZ AM 1240 in Saranac Lake. That was good, he believed, he could follow it in to safety.

A little later, the RDF needle swung back around 180 degrees, indicating he had passed over the broadcast station. This seemed odd. there were no lights below. He directed Patti to “look for lights” – they had to be down there somewhere. Ice was making the plane heavier and heavier.

Julian Reiss, as usual remained calm, he never seemed to get rattled when flying. He lowered his air flaps to slow his air speed even more and told Patti to tighten her seat belt and shoulder harness as he spiraled slowly down between mountains looking for signs of life. Finding none, he spiraled back up to try again in a different spot.

Unfortunately, he was fifteen or sixteen miles south of the airport. His RDF was malfunctioning, perhaps from nearby lightning strikes in the sharp cold front he was flying through. Increasing ice accumulations were making the plane too heavy for his air speed. He dared not rev the engine — the propeller was already shaking the plane dangerously. They were going down no matter what he did.

As Patti recalls it, the plane narrowly missed two tall trees, snapped a branch off one and sheared the tops off two more about sixty feet up. Some 200 feet after first hitting the trees, the right wing caught a tree spinning the plane 90 degrees and flipping it onto its back breaking the tail section off.

If one had to crash in the woods, the Helio Courier was the plane in which to do it. It was an uncommonly robust bush plane. In normal conditions, it could stay airborne at a mere 28 mph. It was considered spin-proof and stall-proof; it could take off and land in extremely small spaces. It also had a rugged welded steel tube roll-cage covered with an aluminum skin. It was extremely crashworthy.

So far, they had been lucky. Reiss and his daughter, Patti, found themselves hanging upside down suspended by their shoulder harnesses and seat belts. By some miracle, despite the wild ride, they were not hurt. It was dark, and initially, they did not realize how high up in the trees they were. They freed themselves from their restraints and began moving about looking for warm clothes and materials to close off the cold air coming in. Their movements dislodged the plane and suddenly they dropped an alarming distance, a violent, unexpected event that Patti recalls as “scary.”

Despite the darkness, they quickly realized they were now situated on the ground, or there nearby, and stopped worrying about falling even further. They plugged as many holes in the cabin as they could and put on all the warm clothes they could find and prepared to spend the night.

They knew that no one would be looking for them till morning, it was already pitch-dark. They also realized that no one knew where they were. They did not know where they were, except lost somewhere in the Adirondack woods. Julian later credited his daughter with being “cool as a cucumber” throughout the ordeal.

Patti recalls him joking with her. “My dad said, ‘Oh, Patti, look what we did now. We’ll be late for dinner. Mom will be mad.’” Patti recalls chattering incessantly to keep away her fears that night until sleep finally overtook them.

Julian Reiss was a prominent figure in the Tri-Lakes area. He was well-known as the owner of Northland Motors, a car dealership with showrooms in Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake. He was the founder and owner of Santa’s Workshop, considered among the first theme parks in the United States. He had recently founded ‘Old MacDonald’s Farm’ in Lake Placid, a summer camp for children, a not-for-profit, the proceeds of which went to needy children.

He had for many years run Operation Toy Lift to benefit orphaned children at Christmas. In 1947, Governor Dewey had appointed him to the State Commission on Discrimination where he was active on civil rights and racial matters. Pope Pius XII had appointed him a Knight of Saint Gregory only six months earlier, recognizing his good works for disadvantaged children. Needless to say, nearly everyone in the region knew him and respected him. Now, he was missing and they worried.

On Saturday morning, while a wide ranging air-search was underway across the Adirondacks, Julian left the wrecked plane and climbed some nearby hills to get his bearings. He eventually found a spot where he could see Whiteface Mountain and then knew which direction to walk. He could hear search planes, his son, Peter, an Air Force pilot stationed at Plattsburgh AFB was among them, but they were all looking in the wrong place.

After returning to his wrecked plane and gathering enough clothes to spend another night in the woods, he and Patti, the latter without shoes, set off through heavy blowdown toward Whiteface Mountain. They had no idea how far from civilization they were. Initially, they bushwhacked through the woods on a bearing toward Whiteface. They did not realize they were paralleling the Northville-Placid Trail, a short distance to their right. It was very slow going with Patti in her stocking feet, her lost shoes had been high-heeled dress pumps, required footwear for girls when leaving the Immaculata campus, but not suitable for this terrain anyway.

At some point, they crossed the Northville-Placid Trail without noticing it, but picked it up later and easily followed it out to the Justin Wescott Farm on Averyville Road where they went to the closest house. It was early afternoon.

Eleanor Wescott answered the door and Julian queried her as to whether he could use her telephone. She replied in the negative, “Oh, no, sir, you cannot. We are the search headquarters for Mr. Reiss and his daughter and we cannot tie up the phone.”

Reiss apologized and diplomatically introduced himself whereupon he was allowed use of the telephone. Eleanor Wescott notified authorities, who called off the search, and then began feeding them. It had been a long, cold night in the woods with no supper and a long walk out with no breakfast.

Julian Reiss Airplane Wreckage (Peter Reiss Photo)While everyone involved was now found safe and sound, the mystery of this crash was only just beginning. The next day (Sunday, November 2nd) after flying over the crash site in his own plane, a Mooney Mark 20, Julian Reiss’s son Peter and his friend Fred Fortune Jr. hiked to the crash site. They found it 2½ to 3 miles in on the northerly flanks of Moose Mountain in a shallow ravine about 150 yards west of the Northville-Placid Trail, some distance before one gets to the turnoff for Wanika Falls.

Once they found the crash site, they recovered Julian and Patti’s personal belongings. Patti had given Peter specific orders to bring back her suitcase full of her favorite new clothes. It was quite clear to Peter that the plane itself could not be salvaged, but it seemed the engine and the instrumentation could be saved.

When he and Fred returned to the crash site only three days later on Wednesday, they were stunned to discover that not only had the propeller been removed, but the engine, the radio gear and all of the instruments were missing. The thieves had even put the cowling back on so that the missing engine would not be noticed from the air. They couldn’t believe it. How could this be? They hiked out and reported it to the police.

When NY State Police and BCI investigators inspected the wreckage, it was obvious to them that thieves acquainted with airplanes had been involved. Police suspected they could have dismantled the engine and carried it out, but they also realized that the stolen articles might still be cached nearby in the woods until the heat was off.  They systematically searched the area for the missing parts. They found nothing.

Initially, the police thought the case would be easy to solve. The brand-new engine, a 6-cylinder, 260-hp, Lycoming Model GO-435-C2B61, had only 5 or 6 hours of run-time on it; it would be easy to sell and the thieves would get a good price for it. They sent out bulletins with the model and serial numbers to all patrols in the Troop B area. Julian Reiss offered a $500 reward for any information leading to the arrest of the thieves. They would catch them at the point-of-sale.

The police wondered how the thieves could carry a 450-lb airplane engine, all the instrumentation, plus, the tools needed, through the woods to Averyville without being discovered? People carrying that heavy of a load, would surely attract notice, but after two weeks, the police had no leads. They didn’t even know if the engine was still in the woods or not. There was some speculation about whether a pontoon plane could have landed on Moose Pond and flown the parts away.

Even so, police publicly expressed confidence they would catch the thieves. They saturated the newspapers with ‘developing’ stories about the theft. After three weeks, public confidence in the police investigation seemed to be wavering. The AuSable Forks newspaper editorialized on the lack of progress in recovering the engine:

“The ones who stole it must have had the strength of Sampson and the brains of a boob. How can they possibly dispose of it? If they tried to sell it whole they would surely be suspected of having stolen it and their arrest would follow … [on the other hand] … maybe the thieves are smarter than one would suppose.”

It seemed the thieves were indeed smarter than anyone supposed. As time went on, the case grew cold: No one carrying a heavy load, or even several smaller heavy loads, was reported. No one reported a 260-horsepower Lycoming engine for sale. No one reported used airplane instruments for sale.

Their first break came around New Year’s 1959 when a Lake Placid resident brought a fuzzy photograph to the village police. It was of a red, white and blue pontoon plane that had landed on Lake Placid around the time of the crash. Neither he, nor any of his neighbors had recognized it or its pilot, so he had photographed it as a curiosity and forgot about it. He was reminded of it after Christmas when reading an article in the Plattsburgh newspaper about how police were still ‘working the case’. He wondered if his photo might be important?

The plane in the photo was clearly a Stinson and it had a 49-star American flag on the tail. The numbers on the plane were barely discernible, but they were enough for the BCI to start an investigation. It was their only lead. The 49-star flag directed them to start in Alaska where they found the initial registration for a 1947 Stinson. Subsequent investigation brought them back to Connecticut. They were getting closer.

What they didn’t know was that very soon after the Reiss crash, a man living in Massachusetts had noticed a small article about the crash in the Springfield, MA, newspaper. He wondered whether the Stinson (a newspaper error) wreckage would have any salvageable items worth his while. It happened he was a pilot and owned his own plane, a 1947 Stinson with pontoons.

He flew up to the Adirondacks to check it out. On the way, he located the crash site from the air and photographed it. Then he landed on Lake Placid and took a taxi to Averyville where he hiked in on the Northville-Placid Trail.

Using his photographs and a map and compass, he soon found the wreckage, and while discovering that the wreck was a Helio Courier, and not a Stinson as reported in the newspaper articles, he nonetheless removed the propeller and the engine. The latter, he hid in the woods. He then removed the radio gear and other instruments, packed them out and flew home.

Later, during three or four weekends off from work, he drove to Averyville in his personal car and returned to the crash site where he had hidden the Lycoming engine. Each time he disassembled the engine into pieces that would fit in his backpack, hiked back to his car with them and drove home unseen and unnoticed until all the gear was in his basement. The heaviest load, the crankshaft, had been “only” 80 pounds by his estimation. His original plan of using the Helio Courier engine in his Stinson was out of the question, the geared-Lycoming would never work in his Stinson.

Unfortunately for him, before he could figure out what to do with parts he had accumulated in his basement, the authorities traced the airplane registration number from Alaska to Connecticut and to a William John Thomson in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. When they showed up at his job at Pratt & Whitney, Bradley Field, CT, on January 8, 1959 – and after they convinced him that they knew a lot about his activities in the Lake Placid area and that they had a description of his pontoon plane – he admitted that he had the parts, but insisted he was not guilty of any crime. Nonetheless, he showed them the boxes in his basement.

He did not realize that they had been bluffing about much of what they told him. All they had was a fuzzy photo of his pontoon plane. Mr. Thomson was not a professional thief. He was not a thief of any kind. He had never been arrested, nor had he any trouble with the law. He came from a respectable Massachusetts family; his father was a bank president in Springfield. Nevertheless, he was extradited to Essex County and placed in jail to await the grand jury action on his charge of felony theft.

At his arraignment, he told North Elba Justice Harlan (Harley) Branch that it was never his intent to steal anything. It was his understanding that an airplane wreck was abandoned property, free-for-the-taking, and that he did not know that what he had done was a crime. He said he thought that airplane wrecks in the Adirondack wilderness were the same as ship wrecks on the open sea, that salvage was open to anyone willing to spend the money and the effort.

Justice Branch later admitted that he had never heard a story like that before, but he suggested Thomson obtain a lawyer to argue his case, and he set bail at $2,000 which Thomson did not have. He was sent back to jail to await grand jury action.

There seems no newspaper record whether Thomson obtained a lawyer, whether he pleaded nolo contendere or otherwise, but at his sentencing in early July 1959 before Essex County Court Judge Sheldon F. Wickes, it would seem he was given the benefit-of- the-doubt regarding his misinterpretation of International Maritime (Admiralty) Law versus the laws of the State of New York. He was sentenced to a $150 fine, restitution to Mr. Reiss, and three years’ probation, thus ending the case of one of the oddest of Adirondack plane crashes.

The police took credit for old-fashioned police work leading to the apprehension and conviction of Mr. Thomson. Perhaps that is true, but one must also realize that if not for the civic-mindedness of a single resident on Lake Placid with a fuzzy photograph, this matter would probably remain open even today.

The irony of this story is even though Mr. Thomson fulfilled all the requirements of his sentence, Julian Reiss still came up short. Thomson meticulously reassembled the engine as only an aircraft mechanic could, and he delivered it and all the other parts to Julian Reiss as required by the court. Upon its receipt, Mr. Reiss, now having no plane to put it in, and being in poor health, and having no plans to fly again, put the engine and all the parts up for sale. He sold them quickly and shipped them out.

To his ultimate dismay, the check bounced.

Story, photos, comments ➤

Silverhawk starting its own Net Jets-style program

Silverhawk Aviation has been in the charter flight business for years, ferrying around business and private customers to wherever they want to go.

Now the company is going to give those fliers a chance to own a piece of their own airplane.

Silverhawk is in the process of getting Federal Aviation Administration approval to start a Net Jets-style fractional ownership program.

Mike Gerdes
"We just saw a need," said Mike Gerdes, the company's president.

Gerdes and Gene Luce, Silverhawk's director of maintenance, bought the company from its longtime owners two years ago, and they have continued the growth that was already going on.

Since about 2010, Silverhawk has doubled its workforce to more than 90 employees, and has tripled its fleet of planes from four to 12, Gerdes said.

To deal with that growth and the expected growth from its new fractional ownership program, called Silverhawk Shares, Silverhawk is expanding its facilities at the Lincoln Airport.

The company held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning for a new 26,000-square-foot hangar, which it plans to use to house the planes for its fractional ownership business.

In addition, it plans to do a significant remodel of its existing facility. The two projects will cost the company at least $6 million, Gerdes said.

He said that if all goes as planned, the work on both buildings will be complete by next summer, at which time Silverhawk hopes to have its FAA approval for the jet ownership program.

To start, the company is selling shares in two planes. A three-seat Cirrus turboprop plane and an eight-seat Citation jet.

Customers can buy either a 10 percent share in a plane, which gets them 50 hours of flying time, or a 20 percent share, which gets them 100 hours.

The upfront buy-in ranges from $55,000 for 10 hours in the smaller plane, to nearly $500,000 for 100 hours, Gerdes said. Then there are monthly fees of $10,000 to $20,000.

The fact that there are no additional fees, such as fees for flight time or fuel surcharges, makes the program unique from other fractional share programs, Gerdes said.

It all comes out to about $2,400 an hour for flight time on the larger jet or more than $600 an hour on the smaller plane.

That may sound like a lot, but it's for the whole plane, so if the plane is full, it actually could be cheaper on a per-person basis than coach-class tickets.

And that doesn't even account for the time savings and convenience, Gerdes said.

While someone could get that same time savings and convenience by buying their own plane, they also take on a tremendous amount of risk and the additional costs of unexpected maintenance items.

The fractional ownership program offers the best of both worlds.

Gerdes said Silverhawk is targeting customers in a 175-miles radius, an area that includes Omaha, Des Moines, Sioux Falls and Kansas City.

It hopes eventually to expand its fractional ownership program to 10 planes and even has plans to buy even larger jets.

Gerdes said that if it reaches that goal it will mean the need for dozens more employees.

Original article can be found here ➤

Steve Tumlin "The Doctor": Carson City pilot to compete in international race

Carson City's Steve Tumlin is a long-time chief mechanic who turned pilot this year, competing in his second race south east of Bangkok, Thailand.

Nothing can stop Steve Tumlin from soaring.

After a one-year hiatus after a plane crash outside of Minden — and making a comeback by competing in his first race at the Reno Air Races —the Carson City pilot is preparing to fly "Feisty" in Thailand skies against 17 international professional pilots.

"With the truly world-class caliber of pilots going head-to-head for the title, it promises to be an exhilarating competition," he said.

From Nov. 17-19, Tumlin, 55, is contending for the Best Air Racing Pilot title in the Air Race 1 World Cup at U-Tapao airport — southeast of Bangkok — in his 1979 Cassutt IIIM named Feisty.

Decked out in a turbulent yellow, with illustrations of No. 52 and a scruffy black cat by the cockpit, Tumlin might be easy to spot in the tangled terrains.

"Flying it is like giving a cat a bath," he said. "She will bite and scratch you, but it's a smooth flying airplane."

His daughter, Sierra, will be by his side as crew chief; an element of success also comes in the designers, engineering teams and ground crew support in the pits.

To ensure a fair competition between pilots, each plane must be built to a specific formula that covers most aspects of the race plane's characteristics, including wing area, weight, and engine size.

"My biggest obstacle is flying as safe as I can," Tumlin said. "But at the same time, it's no different flying around the mountains. I've had good training."

His gained skills from Steve Temple, a long-time Air Force, airline, and racing pilot in Northern Nevada and California areas. Temple also will be racing in Thailand with Tumlin in his "Quadnickel" — also a Cassutt IIIM.

"Without the confidence, I wouldn't be doing this," Tumlin said. "I got a concussion from the crash and I thought I was done for."

But along with Temple, Tumlin raced Feisty in his first air show competition in September, at the 54th annual National Championship Reno Air Races.

Tumlin placed fourth in two Formula One class race events.

"I may be on the back of the bus, but at least I'm on the bus," he said.

Although this is his first year as a pilot, Tumlin's fervor for flying started at age 8 and influenced his long-time career as a chief mechanic.

Because of his skill and passion in the field, he received the nickname, "The Doctor," from aircraft enthusiasts.

"I worked on 80 percent of formulas in Reno throughout the years," he said. "If people needed parts or had issues with an aircraft, I became the doctor. I always help diagnose issues."

Although Tumlin lived in California for 37 years, he moved to the Carson City area for specific reasons.

"I moved here for air racing," he said. "My flying buddies also live here and I needed to be closer. It was a natural progression and I wanted to adapt their skills."

As a technical and mechanical guru in aircraft, Tumlin has always been a part of races, including Air Race 1 competitions.

But now, Tumlin is making his dream come true as an air race pilot — something he's always wanted to do, he said.

"These races are not for everyone," he said. "I won't know until I get there, but I can do this."

Story and photo gallery ➤

Rutan Long-EZ, N754T: Accident occurred November 11, 2017 at Weedon Field (KEUF), Eufaula, Barbour County, Alabama

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Vestavia Hills, Alabama

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Location: EUFAULA, AL 
Accident Number: ANC18LA008
Date & Time: 11/11/2017, 0935 CST
Registration: N754T
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Part(s) separation from AC
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On November 11, 2017, about 0935 central standard time (CST), a Cloud Jeffery Ferrell Long EZ airplane, N754T, landed short of the runway during a forced landing at Wheedon Field (KEUF), Eufaula, Alabama. The private pilot and passenger were not injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The flight was being operated as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 visual flight rules personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed Marianna Municipal Airport (KMAI), Marianna, Florida, about 1000 eastern standard time, and was destined for Falcon Field (KFFC), Atlanta, Georgia. However, due to deteriorating weather conditions en route, the destination was changed to KEUF. No flight plan had been filed.

According to a statement from the pilot, while flying about 7,500 ft msl, about 9 miles northeast of KEUF, "suddenly and without warning the aircraft violently began shuddering." The pilot immediately shut down the engine and turned the airplane towards KEUF. During the turn, he noticed the right rudder control surface was damaged. Due to winds and orientation to the runway when the engine was shut down, the airplane was unable to reach the runway and landed about 200 ft prior to the runway edge in a rough, grassy area. Upon exiting the airplane, the pilot discovered a portion of the trailing edge of the propeller had separated and penetrated the lower half of the right rudder control surface, which resulted in substantial damage. The separated portion of the propeller was not located.

The wood propeller, manufactured by Ed Sterba Propellers, was removed from the aircraft and sent to the US Department of Agriculture's Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin, for examination under the NTSB supervision. The examination determined that the propeller was manufactured from laminations of defect-free hard maple lumber that was absent of any decay. An inspection of the separation surface, using a low magnification hand lens, indicated that the individual layers of the propeller were laminated together using an adhesive that resulted in a light-colored bond line. The failure surface included an exposed portion of the bond line between two wood laminae that had failed. Examination of this bond line showed minimal wood failure about eight inches in length and between 1/8" and 1/4" wide. It was noted that the amount of cured adhesive observed varied considerably along the length of the failure surface's bond line, with an area of the bond line having minimal adhesive coverage.

According to the propeller manufacturer, the propeller was carved by hand using hard maple lumber. The adhesive used was Weldwood® Plastic Resin Glue. Weldwood is a ureaformaldehyde product that is advertised as "ideal for interior wood application." In a letter to the NTSB from DAP Products Inc., the adhesive manufacturer, it was stated "DAP has not qualified this product for use on any aircraft component such as hand-carven wooden propeller, nor has it been tested for applications where extreme temperature fluctuations, pressure and vibration would be expected."

The closest official weather observation station is Columbus Airport (KCSG), Columbus, Georgia, which is located about 35 miles northeast of the accident site. At 0851, a METAR was reporting, in part, wind 090° at 11 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; clouds and ceiling clear; temperature 50° F; dew point 39° F; altimeter 30.35 inches of Mercury.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 47, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: BasicMed Unknown
Last FAA Medical Exam: 11/06/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 02/06/2016
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 248 hours (Total, all aircraft), 177 hours (Total, this make and model), 210 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 21 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 8 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CLOUD JEFFREY FERRELL
Registration: N754T
Model/Series: LONG EZ
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental Light Sport
Serial Number: 1763-L
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 08/05/2017, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1425 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 177.4 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C91  installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-235-L2C
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 118 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KCSG, 392 ft msl
Observation Time: 0851 CST
Distance from Accident Site: 35 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 16°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 10°C / 4°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 11 knots, 90°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.35 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: MARIANNA, FL (MAI)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: ATLANTA, GA (FFC)
Type of Clearance: VFR Flight Following
Departure Time: 1000 EST
Type of Airspace: Class E

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 285 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry; Rough
Runway Used: 18
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5000 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing:  Forced Landing 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None

Latitude, Longitude:  31.958611, -85.128333 (est)

EUFAULA, AL (WSFA) -  A small plane crashed in a Eufaula field Saturday morning.

According to the Eufaula Alabama Police Department Facebook page, an experimental type aircraft had engine trouble about four miles north of Eufaula while traveling from Marianna, Florida, to Atlanta, Georgia. 

The pilot managed to glide to Weedon Field, but a gust of wind forced the plane to the ground just short of the runway. 

Eufaula police and fire crews responded to the scene, and the airport was temporarily closed. 

The two people on board the plane sustained minor injuries. 

The crash will be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board. 

Original article can be found here ➤

A plane went down near Eufaula Saturday morning.

Weedon Field was temporarily closed as the Eufaula fire department and police department responded to the crash.

According to Eufaule PD’s Facebook page, an experimental type aircraft en route from Florida to Atlanta experienced engine trouble approximately 4 miles north of Eufaula.

The pilot was able to glide to the airport where a gust of wind forced the plane to the ground just short of the runway.

Two people on board walked away with just minor injuries.

The incident will be investigated further by the National Transportation Safety Board.

LETTER: Opposed to proposed aircraft fee

To the editor:

I read the Alaska DOT's proposed new aircraft registration/fee (TAX) as published in the Legals small print, back page section of the Alaska Dispatch News on Nov. 5. I am definitely OPPOSED to the proposed changes of a new Aircraft Registration section (17 AAC 41) which would add aircraft registration and fees for aircraft in Alaska.

The Walker’s Administration/ADOT proposal to implement a new registration requirement witha proposed annual fee (TAX) of $150-$250 would seem to be illegal (circumventing the normal requirement for the legislative, rather than the executive branch to implement new taxes on Alaska’s citizens). Simply calling it a “fee” rather than its true effect of an additional significant “tax” on Alaskan aircraft owners seems to be a deceitful means for the administration to unilaterally impose a tax on Alaska residents without going through a legislative approval. There is already a federal registration system with tri-annual fees/taxes for keeping track of airplanes in the USA, there would be no additional purpose for an Alaskan registration system other than to impose additional taxes on Alaskan aircraft owners.

It is my understanding the state has serious financial problems and there are costs with operating the state’s airports. Although I do not favor an increase of any taxes, it is my understanding the Governor’s Aviation Advisory Board looked at various options to help increase revenues and supported increasing the aviation fuel tax (which based on a recent poll, apparently over 3 times as many pilots across the state found more acceptable 67% vs. registration fees 20 percent, although a significant number opposed any increased fees or taxes).

A new state aircraft registration requirement/tax would not be a fair or effective method for raising additional state revenue. Additional state bureaucrats would need to be hired to collect and enforce the collection of this tax, reducing the net income to the state. The Mat-Su Borough also tried a similar aircraft registration/tax, but ultimately repealed it in 2012 as it was not deemed to be a fair tax on this single segment of the population and it brought in a relatively small amount of income after subtraction of the borough’s collection costs in implementation. Unlike the state’s current efforts, the addition and subsequent repeal of this aircraft registration fee/tax program was approved properly under the governing body (assembly) rather than being imposed without legislative approval by strictly the Walker administration.

— Sigurd Colberg


Original article can be found here ➤