Saturday, December 02, 2017

'We did not meet their expectations': Delta exit a surprise, Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport (KGRK) aviation director says

Delta Air Lines will cease operations effective Jan. 15 at the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport, bringing an end to nearly 12 years of service and leaving the area without direct access to an East Coast hub — unless travelers want to drive to Austin, Waco, Dallas or other airports farther away.

The company headquartered in Atlanta last week cited a sustained decline in air ridership as its reason for abandoning an interest in Killeen that it has continuously held since 2006.

The severing of Delta’s service is amid a backdrop of record profits in the airline industry, but those come as a result of increasingly cutthroat business tactics to remain competitive, according to the latest Federal Aviation Administration forecast highlights.

“The great recession of 2007-09 marked a fundamental change in the operations and finances of U.S. Airlines. Since the recession, U.S. airlines have fine-tuned their business models to minimize losses by lowering operating costs, eliminating unprofitable routes, and grounding older, less fuel-efficient aircraft,” the report said. “The U.S. airline industry has become more nimble.”

Delta declined to comment directly about the numbers behind its decision, but data furnished by the city of Killeen could be the best underlying indicator of what happened.


The Herald reported in February that last year’s inbound and outbound passenger activity was the weakest in more than a decade. Although the airport’s executive director has been consistent in conveying what plans are underway to correct problems, data depict a dire condition.

“This took us by surprise,” Matthew Van Valkenburgh, Killeen’s executive director of aviation, said in an email.

Even with November and December numbers left to report, 2017 is projected to extend a year-over-year slide in total passenger activity to four consecutive years. If the numbers hold, it would be the most anemic performance in more than 12 years.

It’s something airlines such as Delta are always watching, Van Valkenburgh said in August, and “if you don’t use it, you can very well lose it.”

The announcement made Monday by Delta, one of three airlines that serve the airport, will leave ticket holders scrambling to find alternative travel plans. American Airlines and United also use the Killeen airport.

The announcement comes just before December, when airline travel is typically at its highest. Although Delta will continue to provide flights for travelers into January, it is short notice for those who made plans long in advance.

George Hobica, founder and editor-in-chief of, said airlines can stop service from an airport without notice or explanation, which puts passengers holding tickets on that airline in a precarious position.

“They will get a refund on future flights, but may end up having to buy a much more expensive ticket on the remaining airlines,” he said in an email. “The only good news is that when a major airline abandons an airport it’s an incentive for a smaller airline like Spirit, Allegiant or Frontier to step in.”


For now, the financial effect of Delta’s departure on the airport is somewhat unclear, but it’s not looking good.

“Basic airline economics are simple,” Van Valkenburgh said. “Fill their seats and they make money. … Bottom line, unfortunately, is we did not meet their expectations.”

The estimated decrease in fiscal year 2018 revenue is $75,000-$105,000, but the exact number will vary depending on how long the airline is required to pay its contractual fees, he said. Until the end of the fiscal year, it is unknown what the impact will be on the Airport Fund.

Killeen City Manager Ron Olson, during an Aug. 1 budget presentation, told the council about the airport’s declining financial health, saying it was in the process of “bleeding itself dry.”

The city’s adopted 2018 budget shows a projected drop in total expenses of 29 percent, from $3.76 million to $2.66 million, but also a decrease in total revenue of 19 percent, from $3.17 million to $2.56 million.

The airport makes most of its money from rental cars (31 percent) and airport parking (23 percent), but air carrier operations and fees paid to load fuel into aircraft each make up 12 percent of the revenue pie. Landings fees are a separate 6 percent of the budget.

As of Thursday afternoon, city airport officials still had not been officially notified of Delta’s plans. The Herald confirmed the airline’s decision to leave directly with Delta.

The approximate income from American Airlines last year was $372,340; United brought in $128,274, and both remain committed to the market and community, Van Valkenburgh said, adding that he spoke to representatives of both airlines subsequent to the news from Delta.

The Waco airport, which has had just American Airlines since 2012, is on the hunt to regain United service, but the search certainly isn’t limited to that, according to Joel Martinez, Waco’s director of aviation.

“Both legacy and low cost carriers” are currently being sent information about the market with the hope of spurring interest, he said in an email.

That would mean steeper competition for Killeen, if successful.

When Van Valkenburgh was asked whether he sees a decline in the Killeen-area market, he acknowledged the drop in ridership and was aware of Austin’s draw to the south.

While domestic flights are “certainly healthy” within the United States, municipal airports have seen their share of struggles, Hobica said.

In 2007, the Salem, Oregon, airport had just one airline offering commercial flights. One year later, Delta pulled out, leaving travelers with no direct flights into the state’s capital. In 2011, Seaport Airlines tried to establish itself in Salem, but left just months later, according to the Salem Statesman Journal.

Similarly, United Airlines pulled out of Atlantic City, New Jersey, after just a few months. The airline had direct flights to Chicago and Houston, offering one flight to each city per day. Seven months later, it pulled out, leaving just Spirit Airlines.

Spirit bills itself as an “ultra-low cost carrier,” and contributed to the low airfare in America, Hobica said. More and more people, especially millennials, are willing to get in their cars and drive to cheaper flights. In Canada, many residents will drive from Toronto to Buffalo or from Vancouver to Seattle seeking cheaper flights.

With Austin and Waco just an hour away, and two Dallas airports about 2 ½ hours away, there are options for travelers.


Paul Ryder is the national resources coordinator for the Air Line Pilots Association and has been a commercial pilot for 13 years. He said pilots are often excited to fly to underserved markets and rural areas. While at one time, there might have been a shortage of pilots willing to fly to these smaller airports because of lower wages and less-than-ideal working conditions, that’s changed, as carriers saw the market negatively affected and made deliberate changes. Now, there’s a “healthy, sufficient number” of pilots.

Ultimately, however, business decisions made by individual airlines are about bringing the money, Ryder said.

“It’s always the goal to serve those communities. You want to help throughout the nation and throughout the world,” he said. “But you (have) to make business decisions. If the route doesn’t have sufficient traffic, we have seen airlines come in and out of service.”


Throughout the airport’s decline in ridership, officials have maintained that flying from Killeen is about the same cost or cheaper than competitors, but year after year, government data show the math doesn’t add up.

The latest available data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics show a continuing trend spanning more than a decade documenting higher than average airfare in Killeen.

Travelers in 2016 paid an average fare of $482 to fly from Killeen round-trip, which is about $200 more than Love Field in Dallas ($278) and $100 more than Austin ($372). Southwest Airlines is headquartered at Love Field (airport code DAL) and also flies from Austin (AUS); American’s base is Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).

Going back as far as 2006, the trend is typically the same — local prices exceeded competitors.

Van Valkenburgh said in August the airport is working on airfares with airlines to get closer to prices Austin and Dallas offer. Other core areas of improvement include: aircraft size to accommodate bags and people (airlines are downsizing fleets); working with airline schedulers to offer more flights in the Killeen market (filling current flights will help drive this); air service development to sustain and add flights; and upgrading airport equipment.

From January through September 2016, 503,981 passengers boarded planes at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, according to Austin airport figures for one-way travel. During that same stretch of time in 2017, there were 546,957 passengers boarding. Part of that could be attributed to population growth, as Austin has had an increase of about 20,000 residents per year since 2005.

Delta also added three nonstop routes from Austin in 2017: to Seattle, Boston and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. The Austin airport added 17 nonstop routes in 2017, and will add another 13 in 2018, according to airport spokesman Derick Hackett.

The Killeen City Council is moving forward with several capital improvement projects at the airport using passenger facility charges ($1.3 million) and customer facility charges ($1.6 million). Projects using passenger facility charges include upgrades to the flight information and common use system ($750,000) and rehabilitating Terminal Access Road ($291,000). Projects using customer facility charges include covered parking for the rental car parking lot ($1 million) and car wash facility improvements ($600,000).

There is no negative impact to the Aviation Fund balance because the projects are fully funded with grants or facility charges, Van Valkenburgh has said.

He remained hopeful about airline service.

“Sustaining air service has always been our primary goal with increasing service next,” Van Valkenburgh said. “We continue to meet and talk to our airlines about our existing service and the possible routes the airlines could potentially add to Killeen.”

Read more here ➤

Cessna 177RG Cardinal, N2075Q: Incident occurred December 02, 2017 in Valley City, Barnes County, North Dakota

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; North Dakota

Aircraft engine failure. Landed on interstate.

Date: 02-DEC-17
Time: 23:29:00Z
Regis#: N2075Q
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 177RG
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: NONE
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)

A small Cessna plane was headed from Fargo to Bismarck when the pilot realized he was going to have to land without his engine.

According to the North Dakota Highway Patrol the emergency landing happened just west of Valley City.

The pilot, Jerry Schauer of Bismarck, was able to safely glide the plane down on I94 in the westbound lanes around mile marker 280.

There was no injuries and no damage.

The FAA is looking into the incident.

Original article can be found here ➤

Unknown or Undetermined: American Autogyro SparrowHawk, N481ZK; fatal accident occurred December 02, 2017 near Eagles Ridge Airport (MS9), Hernando, DeSoto County, Mississippi

Delta Air Lines pilot Richard House (left) and his father Wayne House were killed in the aircraft crash on December 2nd 2017 in Hernando, Mississippi. 

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

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Jackson, Mississippi

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Hernando, MS
Accident Number: ERA18LA039
Date & Time: 12/02/2017, 1700 CST
Registration: N481ZK
Aircraft: Kevin Leue Sparrow Hawk
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Unknown or undetermined
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal


The sport pilot and pilot-rated passenger departed in the gyroplane at an unknown time. A hunter in the area of the accident site heard a loud sound similar to a gunshot, but dismissed it as another hunter. He left the area shortly thereafter and while walking, saw a grass fire; authorities who responded found the wreckage, which was about 0.17 miles from the departure airport.

The gyroplane descended through trees at a steep angle and the left main landing gear impacted the ground first; the gyroplane came to rest on its right side and was destroyed as a result of the postcrash fire. Examination of the flight controls, engine, and engine systems revealed no evidence of pre-impact failure or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation.

A mechanic familiar with the gyroplane reported that the pilot had repaired a fuel tank leak several months before the accident. The day before the accident, the owner reported smelling fuel while in the cabin, but stated that he had not observed any fuel leaks. Whether the pilot identified the source of the fuel smell or made any repairs before the accident flight could not be determined. Autopsy and toxicology testing of the pilot revealed no evidence of physiological impairment or incapacitation. The reason for the gyroplane's steep descent and impact with terrain could not be determined based on the available information.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
Impact with trees and terrain for reasons that could not be determined based on available evidence.


Not determined
Not determined - Unknown/Not determined (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Unknown or undetermined (Defining event)
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)


Fire/smoke (post-impact)

On December 2, 2017, about 1700 central standard time, an experimental, amateur-built Sparrow Hawk gyroplane, N481ZK, was destroyed when it impacted terrain and was consumed by a postcrash fire near Eagles Ridge Airport (MS9), Hernando, Mississippi. The sport pilot and pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. The gyroplane was owned by the pilot who was operating it as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed MS9 at an unknown time.

There were no known witnesses to the departure or the accident. An individual who was hunting near the accident site reported that, about 1700, he heard a loud sound similar to a gunshot, but dismissed it as another hunter. He left the area about dusk and spotted a grass fire. He walked to a nearby home to tell the homeowner to call 911 and report the fire. First responders who arrived to extinguish the fire subsequently located the wreckage of the gyroplane. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Sport Pilot
Age: 70, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Unknown
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Gyroplane
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Sport Pilot None
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 06/29/2017
Flight Time: 102 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

Pilot-Rated Passenger Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Commercial
Age: 43, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied:Unknown 
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 06/19/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 11722 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

The pilot, age 70, held a sport pilot certificate with gyroplane rating, issued June 29, 2017. On the application for that certificate, he reported 102 hours total flight experience.

The pilot-rated passenger, age 43, held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for airplane multi-engine land and held commercial privileges for airplane single-engine land. He held type ratings for several transport-category airplanes. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first class medical certificate was issued June 19, 2017, with no limitations. On the application for the medical certificate, he reported 11,722 total hours of flight experience.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Kevin Leue
Registration: N481ZK
Model/Series: Sparrow Hawk
Aircraft Category: Gyroplane
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: SH2004002K
Landing Gear Type:Tricycle 
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  Unknown
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1580 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: Subaru
Engine Model/Series: 2.5
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power:
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

The two-place gyroplane, serial number SH2004002K, was built in 2013. It was powered by a Subaru EJ-25 engine, which drove a three-bladed, composite, Warp Drive propeller. The gyroplane's fuel cells, made from fiberglass-reinforced polymer resin, were bonded to the cabin floor and walls.

A mechanic familiar with the gyroplane reported that, about 3 or 4 months before the accident, the owner used PRC-type sealant to fix a fuel tank leak. The same mechanic also reported that, the day before the accident, the owner complained to him about smelling fuel while in the cabin, but the owner informed the mechanic there was no fuel leaking from the fuel tank. The mechanic asked the owner whether the gyroplane was equipped with a fuel tank vent, and the owner replied that he was not sure. Whether the pilot identified the source of the fuel smell or made repairs before the accident flight could not be determined.

The gyroplane's maintenance records were not located. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: OLV, 402 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 13 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1650 CST
Direction from Accident Site: 31°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 25000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: Calm /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / Unknown
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / Unknown
Altimeter Setting: 30.11 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / 2°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Hernando, MS (MS9)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Hernando, MS (MS9)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: CST 
Type of Airspace: 

At 1650, a surface weather observation taken at Olive Branch Airport (OLV), Olive Branch, Mississippi, located about 13 nm north-northeast of the accident site, reported calm wind, 10 miles visibility with few clouds at 25,000 ft, temperature 19°C, dew point 2°C, and an altimeter setting of 30.11 inches of mercury.

Airport Information

Airport: Eagles Ridge Airport (MS9)
Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 262 ft
Runway Surface Condition:
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Unknown

MS9 was a public-use airport equipped with a single runway, designated 10/28. The airport common traffic advisory frequency was not recorded and MS9 did not have airport security video.

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire:On-Ground 
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries:2 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 34.796667, -89.920833 

The gyroplane crashed in a wooded area about 0.17 nautical mile west-southwest of the departure end of runway 28 at MS9. The gyroplane and surrounding area sustained postcrash fire damage. Cut marks in trees in close proximity to the accident site indicated that the gyroplane descended at an approximate 70° to 75° angle to the ground.

According to an FAA inspector who responded to the accident site, the engine was still attached to the airframe and the propeller hub was attached to the engine. All three propeller blades were shattered at varying lengths, and the separated sections were recovered in the immediate vicinity of the main wreckage. The ground adjacent to the propeller displayed ground scars consistent with propeller rotation at impact. Both main rotor blades were attached to the rotor head, although a 3-ft section of one main rotor blade tip was fractured consistent with contact with a nearby tree; the fractured piece was found near the main wreckage beneath a separated section of tree trunk and limbs. One main rotor blade exhibited a smooth radius upward bend and the outboard portion of the blade was resting against a tree trunk, and the other main rotor blade exhibited a sharp radius downward bend with trailing edge buckling.

All flight controls, composite fuselage components, seats, and avionics were extensively heat damaged. The left main landing gear was broken and folded to the right, lying underneath the right main landing gear. Control continuity could not be confirmed due to postcrash fire damage; however, there were no separations at control attach points. Oil and dirt were noted on the propeller hub. The gyroplane was recovered from the accident site for further examination of the engine.

Examination of the engine following recovery revealed extensive heat damage to the fuel metering, ignition, and cooling system components. Following removal of the engine accessories, the crankshaft was rotated by hand and continuity was confirmed throughout the engine. Examination of the valve train, power section, cylinder heads, and pistons revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction. No lubrication issues were noted. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Office of the State Medical Examiner, Pearl, Mississippi, performed an autopsy of the pilot. The cause of death was reported as blunt force trauma.

Toxicology testing performed at the FAA Forensic Sciences Laboratory detected no ethanol in vitreous and no tested-for drugs were identified in the blood specimen. The submitted specimens were unsuitable for carbon monoxide analysis and testing for cyanide was not performed.

Location: Hernando, MS
Accident Number: ERA18LA039
Date & Time: 12/02/2017, 1700 CST
Registration: N7481ZK
Aircraft: Kevin Leue Sparrow Hawk
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On December 2, 2017, about 1700 central standard time, an experimental amateur-built Sparrow Hawk gyroplane, N481ZK, impacted terrain near Eagles Ridge Airport (MS9), Hernando, Mississippi. The sport pilot and pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. The gyroplane was destroyed by a postcrash fire, and was being operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a local personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the flight.

There were no known witnesses to the departure or accident. According to an individual who was hunting, about 1700, he heard a loud sound similar to a gunshot, but dismissed it as another hunter. He left the area about dusk, and while walking, spotted a grass fire. He walked to a nearby home to tell the homeowner to call 911 to report the fire. First responders who arrived to extinguish the fire subsequently observed the wreckage.

The wreckage was recovered from the accident site and retained for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: Kevin Leue

Registration: N7481ZK
Model/Series: Sparrow Hawk
Aircraft Category: Gyroplane
Amateur Built: Yes 
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions

Condition of Light: 
Observation Facility, Elevation: OLV, 402 ft msl
Observation Time: 1650 CST
Distance from Accident Site: 13 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / 2°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 25000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm
Lowest Ceiling: 
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting:  30.11 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Hernando, MS (MS9)
Destination: Hernando, MS (MS9)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal

Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 34.796667, -89.920833

Richard House, left, and Wayne House were killed in a crash in Hernando, Mississippi 
(Courtesy of the House family).

Richard House
Southaven, MS

Richard House, 43, passed away Saturday, December 2, 2017 as the result of an aircraft accident which also claimed the life of his father, Wayne House. Richard was a member of Christ Presbyterian Church, a pilot for Delta Airlines and a former pilot for Pinnacle Airlines. A graduate of Delta State University, he was a former member of the Army Reserve and enjoyed motorcycles. The family will receive friends from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. Wednesday at Christ Presbyterian Church in Olive Branch. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday at Christ Presbyterian Church. The family will receive friends following the service. Survivors include his wife, Patti House; daughters, Mikayla House and Carmen House, all of Southaven, parents, Ray and Kathy Swilley of Hattiesburg; sister, Robyn Whitehead (Todd) of Nacogdoches, TX.

Wayne House

Wayne House, 70, passed away Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 as the result of an aircraft accident which also claimed the life of his son, Richard House. He was a retired band director from Southaven High School and currently worked for Amro Music. He was a graduate of Ole Miss and enjoyed motorcycles and flying. The family will receive friends from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. Wednesday at Christ Presbyterian Church in Olive Branch. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday at Christ Presbyterian Church. The family will receive friends following the service. Hernando Funeral Home has charge. Survivors include his daughter Robyn Whitehead (Todd) of Nacogdoches, Texas; daughter-in-law Patti House of Southaven; brother, Henry House of Clifton, Tenn.; grandchildren, Mikayla House, Carmen House, Emma Whitehead. He was preceded in death by his parents Henderson and Frances House and a sister Ellen Henderson. 

The two men who died in a weekend gyrocopter crash in DeSoto County were flying a small, hobbyist aircraft designed to make flight affordable for experienced enthusiasts, authorities said Monday.

Wayne House, 70, and his son, Richard House, 43, both of DeSoto County and originally from Hattiesburg, died when their aircraft crashed Saturday afternoon in the 4000 block of Malone Road in southeastern DeSoto County. They appeared to be bringing the craft in for landing, according to Deputy Alex Coker of the DeSoto County Sheriff's Department.

The victims were the only occupants of the two-seat craft, DeSoto County Coroner Jeffrey Pounders said. He said autopsies are being performed on the badly burned victims, who crashed in a wooded area. Initial reports were that there was a grass fire. 

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating. Coker said Monday there was no additional information pending the FAA findings.

It's unclear which man was piloting the gyrocopter, but Richard House was a commercial pilot. Pounders said House was a pilot for Delta Air Lines. House's Facebook page indicates he has been a Delta pilot since 2014. 

Coker said he wasn't sure if the pair were just flying around the county or were headed to a particular destination. 

A gyrocopter is a type of small aircraft also known as an autogyro, gyroplane or rotaplane. It uses an unpowered rotor for lift along with an engine-powered propeller for thrust. 

"They're usually a one- or two-seater," said Coker, an avid sky diver and co-host of the "Remote Survival" television show on the National Geographic Channel. "They're not commercial grade, by any means. It's more a hobbyist-type of smaller aircraft, something every person can own."

The Popular Rotorcraft Association says gyroplanes will not stall like airplanes, making them safer to fly at low speeds.

"Aerodynamically stable gyoplanes are much safer in turbulent winds," the association says on its website. "Landings are typically made at very low air speeds and can be made safetly in very short distances."

The association acknowledges that gyroplanes historically have a bad safety record because of pilots who taught themselves to fly in less stable designs.

"Today, pilots who fly more stable designs and earn they gyroplane pilot ratings with professional gyroplane flight instructors fly much safer," it added.

Original article  ➤

Two persons have died in the crash of an experimental gyrocopter in rural DeSoto County on Saturday evening, according to DeSoto County Coroner Jeff Pounders.

Pounders said Sunday that two individuals, one in his 40s and the other in his 70s, died when the light, experimental gyrocopter they were riding in crashed and burst into flames during impact.

The bodies of the two men were burned beyond recognition. Firefighters were alerted to what was first reported as a grass fire, believed to have been caused by the crash.

"We know who they are, we just can't make a positive identification," Pounders said. "They were flying one of those experimental gyrocopters — we don't know exactly what happened. The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) are both investigating the crash."

Pounders said according to the DeSoto County Sheriff's Department, the crash occurred around 5:30 p.m.

Emergency officials arrived on scene about 6:20 p.m. Pounders was called about 7:30 p.m.

The crash site is located near Cleveland and Malone Roads in a heavily wooded area.

The area has been cordoned off, due to the ongoing investigation.

Pounders said the bodies were burned so badly that a positive ID may be difficult and DNA as well as dental records may be instrumental in that identification.

Due to lack of positive identification, Pounders said he was not releasing the names of the two men, although family has been made aware of their demise.

As of Sunday afternoon, Pounders had still not talked with family members.

Although the DeSoto Times-Tribune has firsthand knowledge of the identities of the deceased, there is no official release of their names.

Out of respect for the families, the newspaper is not releasing the identities of the deceased at this time.

Pounders said he expects the names of the deceased will be released soon.

Original article can be found here ➤

Two men are dead after a gyrocopter crashed in DeSoto County Saturday. 

Wayne House, 70, and his son Richard House, 43, were both killed when the aircraft crashed coming in for a landing, according to DeSoto County Sheriff's Department spokesman Alex Coker. 

DeSoto County emergency responders were called to a grass fire around 5:30 p.m. Saturday. 

Love Volunteer Fire Chief Shawn Witt said his department responded to the area and had to hike to where the fire had spread.

"While checking the perimeter I saw a large fire and thought it was just some brush, but once I got closer I saw the propeller and one of victims," Witt said. "I immediately called (Federal Aviation Administration) and (National Transportation Safety Board) and checked for missing aircraft as this property was about 500 yards from Eagle Ridge airport/landing."

Around 6:20 p.m., the crashed experimental gyrocopter was found in the woods near the 4000 block of Malone Road, near Holly Springs Road and Cleveland Road.  Responders said the aircraft was a two-seater.  So far the cause of the crash has not been determined. Coker confirmed the FAA is involved in the investigation.

Original article can be found here ➤

Rock Springs-Sweetwater County Airport (KRKS) in running for airtankers

ROCK SPRINGS — The Rock Springs/Sweetwater County Airport could potentially house seven HC-130H aircraft to be used as airtankers to battle fires.

The airport submitted a letter to the U.S. Forest Service about two weeks ago, Airport Manager Devon Brubaker said.

“It’s very, very preliminary at this point,” he said.

If the airport is chosen, it could “result in quite a few jobs” and a lot of growth opportunities for the airport. Plus, it would help support firefighting capabilities in the area, Brubaker said.

The winning location could see an estimated 100 contracted positions open up. Three U.S. Forest Service and five U.S. Coast guard personnel would also be stationed at the base.

Airports in 11 states will be considered — Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Oregon, Washington or Wyoming — “due to proximity of the majority of firefighting activity and representative training terrain,” she said.

The next steps for procuring the airtankers will begin in February 2018. It will include conducting a market survey of qualified locations. The site selection will be announced in October 2018.

Original article ➤

Boutique Air moves toward twin-turboprop aircraft in Cortez, Colorado: Airline reduces number of single-engine turboprop flights

One year after introducing a line of single-engine aircraft to the Cortez Municipal Airport, Boutique Air has increased its use of twin-engine airplanes.

When Boutique first started flying out of the Cortez airport in October 2016, it had two twin-engine King Air 350 planes in its fleet, but did not use them in Cortez, instead relying on the single-engine turboprop Pilatus PC-12 aircraft. The company started using the twin-engine craft for some Cortez flights toward the end of the year, according to airport manager Russ Machen, and by October of 2017, about 80 percent of all Cortez flights were performed by King Airs. The company also recently added two new King Airs to its fleet.

When the Cortez City Council first considered Boutique’s bid for air service in 2016, some Cortez residents said they were concerned the company’s single-engine aircraft might not be safe. Machen said the model has an excellent safety record, which includes use by air ambulance companies, but he has expressed a different concern about the Pilatus planes to Boutique. They don’t always have enough space for passengers’ baggage, he said.

“You’ve got a lot of hunters coming in with guns, and when they go back out, they’re going to have a cooler full of meat,” he said. “You load, during ski season, five, six, seven people and their ski equipment and whatnot, you could also have a problem there.”

Right now, the airline’s policy is to put bags that don’t fit on an airplane on a later flight to the same destination. But the King Air planes have more room, not only for baggage but also for passengers.

While Pilatus airplanes have the capacity to seat nine people, most of the ones in Boutique’s fleet have replaced the ninth seat with a restroom. The King Airs have enough room for both a ninth seat and a restroom.

In late fall of 2016 and early spring of 2017, Machen said, about 25 percent of flights from the Cortez airport were on King Airs. Starting in April, that number had grown to almost 70 percent. From July through September, 80 percent of the flights were on King Airs, although they decreased slightly in October.

“We’ve had a shift toward the King Air as our bulk supplier,” Machen said.

Although he said this is primarily a good thing for the airport, it did cause trouble in recent weeks, when some of the King Air planes experienced mechanical problems that resulted in long delays. Because the fleet contains only four King Airs, Machen said it’s harder to find replacements when one is in the shop.

The number of flights from Cortez has gone down since Boutique raised its ticket prices in August, reaching a low of less than 600 in October. But Machen said the number of tickets sold at the airport over the entire year is still nearly double what it was this time last year. He expects ticket sales to go up again for the holidays, especially since Boutique’s prices have gone down again recently.

In his presentation to council during the Nov. 14 budget hearings, Machen said the airport has received record high numbers in revenue this year, although it has also experienced higher maintenance expenses. Still, he expects the 2018 budget to be mostly a “carbon copy” of this year’s.

Story and photos ➤

Skydiving Santa's Medical Bills

Unfortunately ... G's skydiving mission to assist Santa in delivering Kristoff (a young girl's elf on the shelf) and a bag of Spalding volleyballs to the Tampa Bay Beach Bums volleyball tourney supporting the "Operation Santa" toy drive in Gulfport yesterday was interrupted by a tree and light pole. 

After giving us a HUGE scare as he hit the tree and pole ... with concerns that far more damage could have been done ... we have good news that G is now out of surgery, in good spirits and recovering in the hospital with release expected Tuesday.  

It appears that only his leg was broken (both Tibia & Fibula ... one of the worst breaks ever seen by medical personnel onsite) but over time, he expects to make full recovery. 

Please help the Tampa Bay Beach Bums in raising funds to cover his out-of-pocket medical expenses (currently anticipated at $12,500).

G is a great guy and beloved Beach Bum Original.

Please help him out however you can this holiday season! Thank you so much!! 


This campaign is trending ➤

A male skydiver was injured this morning attempting to land on Gulfport Beach in the 5000 block of Beach Boulevard S during a “Winter Wonderland” event.

The incident occurred at approximately 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 2, 2017.

The man, dressed in a Santa outfit, was attempting to land at the Tampa Bay Beach Bums Volleyball Tournament.

Many spectators witnessed the incident at the event. Witnesses reported that while attempting to land on the beach, the skydiver struck a pine tree and light pole on his approach to the beach.  Two other skydivers landed safely.

The man in this 30’s was assisted by bystanders then treated by paramedics and transported by ambulance to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg with non-life-threatening injuries.

The man did experience a significant leg injury.

Additional information if/when available.

Story, comments and photos ➤

South Alabama Regional Airport (79J) runway repair completed quickly

The runway at South Alabama Regional Airport re-opened Thursday, significantly ahead of schedule.

Runway 29 was closed to allow for an airport improvement project to repair a bump.

The project consisted of milling the existing surface on each side of the bump.

The issue with the runway was that there was a bump where the old runway and the runway extension connected, which provided for a rough transition.

The bump was some 2.16 inches higher than it should be.

The cost of the project is around $135,000 with 90 percent being paid for by the Federal Aviation Administration, 5 percent by the Alabama Department of Transportation and 5 percent from local matching funds.

Local contractor Don Bullard, along with subcontractor Wiregrass Construction, completed the project in just a few days. It was expected to take 30 days to complete.

Michelle Conway of Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood said they milled on Monday and Tuesday and paved on Wednesday.

“Four pilots flew,” she said.

Among the pilots were John Roberts and South Alabama Regional Airport Authority Board member Donald Barton.

“There was not much to feel,” Roberts said.

“It didn’t throw you in the air,” Barton said.

Conway said everything went well and that they would do a final inspection and put up permanent markings in two-and-a-half weeks.

“FAA and ALDOT will do their inspection,” she said.

Original article ➤

North End area of Boston, Massachusetts: Christmas Parade Canceled as Organizer Abruptly Retires

Santa will not arrive by helicopter this year due to the cancellation of the North End Christmas Parade. The photo above is from the kickoff of the 2016 parade.

The North End Christmas Parade will take a year off in 2017 as a leader of the organizing group, North End Athletic Association (NEAA), was named in reports for the misuse of state resources. Longtime NEAA volunteer Robert “Teddy” Tomasone, is retiring as clerk magistrate from Somerville District Court amid the accusations, according to a court spokesperson.

NEAA officials said there was not enough time for someone else to take over this year’s North End Christmas Parade, but they are hopeful that the 46-year-old tradition will return next year.

The NEAA was one of two organizations named in reports that Tomasone allegedly worked on with his secretary during court time, resulting in a suspension and investigation. The other group named was the Committee for Better Government.

Tomasone’s charity work in the North End is well-known and he has received several awards for his years of community service. The NEAA organizes little league baseball and soccer programs for hundreds of local youths.

Santa arriving by helicopter is the highlight of the North End Christmas Parade, drawing thousands to the event that usually takes place in early December as part of local holiday festivities.

Story, comments and photo ➤

Mooney M20J, N201P : Incident occurred December 02, 2017 near Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport (KSGH), Clark County, Ohio

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Springfield, Ohio

Aircraft landed in a field.

Date: 02-DEC-17
Time: 22:00:00Z
Regis#: N201P
Aircraft Make: MOONEY
Aircraft Model: M20J
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: NONE
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)
State: OHIO

SPRINGFIELD — A small plane landed in a field this evening not far from a local airport.

The plane touched down around 5 p.m. in the area of Blee and West Jackson roads, near Ohio 72, according to a witness.

There were no reports of injuries, and it’s not clear why the pilot was not able to reach the nearby Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport at 1251 W. Blee Road four miles south of the city of Springfield.

Original article can be found here ➤

The heart of an airline: Inside Allegiant's new control center

LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — At the Allegiant ticket counter, the afternoon rush is about to begin. The folks checking in have no idea that much of the work that gets them to their destination happens miles away in Summerlin.

“Currently, we have 61 airplanes airborne. We use around 70 today. 292 flights, that equals roughly 36,000 passengers,” says Mike Wuerger, Allegiant’s Vice President of the Operations Control Center, as we look at a huge computer map showing every plane the airline has in the sky.

Wuerger runs what’s known as the “OCC.” We’re standing on what’s called the “bridge,” where the heads of the airline’s various control room sections are seated, looking out over banks of computers monitored by dozens of Allegiant employees.

This room is located at Allegiant’s Summerlin headquarters. It is highly secure and highly important for an airline that runs at least 300 flights a day.

“This is the heart of the airline. Everything starts and ends here,” says Angel Morales.

Morales runs dispatch, in charge of the flight plans for every Allegiant aircraft.

“Our job is how will the plane get from point A to point B,” he tells me as we stand by his bank of monitors.

Running an airline is a logistical symphony, coordinating 2,000 pilots and flight attendants, and also maintaining its more than 90 aircraft.

The airline says maintenance, which had triggered an FAA review last year, is a big priority, coming after a handful of mechanical issues over the past couple years that put the airline on the defensive. In 2016, the FAA said it found some minor issues, but no systemic concerns. Allegiant has said it is a safe airline to fly and getting safer.

“I think we're improving every day,” Wuerger says.

One way its improving is by ditching its aging fleet for newer planes.

By the end of next year, every aircraft will be a new Airbus that will virtually talk to mechanics.

“It downloads 2,700 different items and with the help of Airbus, it can tell us that down the road the next couple days, weeks, or months, that part needs to be replaced,” Wuerger says.

It is technology which makes the airline run smoothly like it was on the Thursday I was visiting. America, it turns out, was having pretty cooperative weather.

“Really good day so far. Running about 90 percent on time, pretty strong day coast to coast for us,” said Rick Barth, an operations control center manager.

It's not always like that. In September, a hurricane hit Florida, Allegiant's other hub.

Blake Kline was on duty.

“We had 42 planes we had to move out. And so we had to get the planes out of Florida, get the passengers out of harm's way,” says Kline, the OCC’s Senior Manager.

And they did.

Which here, is just another day.

Story, video and photo gallery ➤