Thursday, December 21, 2017

Group seeks funds for consultant to help with Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (KBTR) director search

Metro councilwoman Barbara Freiberg, District 12, speaks on Item 92 concerning an emergency appointment of the members of the Aviation Director Search Committee during a meeting of the metro council,  November 8, 2017, at City Hall in Baton Rouge, La.

The group searching for the next Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport director is asking for money to hire a private consultant to help find and evaluate applicants for the job.

The Baton Rouge aviation director search committee voted Thursday to ask the Metro Council to appropriate $40,000 from the airport's budget to pay a search firm. Committee members said they will spend the next few weeks reviewing possible vendors before voting on which consultant to use.

They also agreed that three areas they would like the next aviation director to focus on are expanding the number of carriers and routes at the airport; continuing to lease airport property for an extra cash flow; and finding and securing state and federal grants.

Lining up a majority of council members to agree to appropriate $40,000 on a search firm might prove difficult, given the frustrations that arose at the Metro Council about conducting a national search for the airport director.

Some Metro Council members wanted to appoint Interim Aviation Director Ralph Hennessy to the permanent job without any search.

Although the committee should recommend three finalists to become the aviation director, the council has decision-making power over who gets the job.

Before the committee began its meeting on Thursday, Metro Councilwoman Barbara Freiberg  questioned Marston Fowler from the Parish Attorney's office about the public records aspects of their aviation director search.

Freiberg asked if people submit resumes for the job, but do not submit a full-fledged application, whether their names would still fall under public records laws. She said the airport was likely to miss out on good applicants for the job if people were concerned about their names becoming public.

Fowler referenced a high-profile lawsuit that started in 2013 when The Advocate and The Times-Picayune sued LSU for the names of the applicants who applied for the LSU president position. At the time, LSU only released the name of its "sole finalist," F. King Alexander, who is the current university president and chancellor. LSU did not respond to various public records requests regarding the people university leaders vetted and interviewed during the search.

A state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal panel ruled in 2015 that LSU was required to release the names of the four finalists for the position.

Fowler advised Freiberg about one major argument in the lawsuit, which stemmed from differing definitions of "applicant." He said the question that would arise would, again, be whether someone who submitted a resume would be considered an applicant for the job.

Original article can be found here ➤

Ocala International Airport (KOCF) flying high with plans for new terminal

Upgrade plans for the Ocala International Airport include building a new terminal, adding hangar space and, eventually, putting in a new taxiway and apron to accommodate heavier aircraft. Construction of the new terminal is scheduled to begin in July 2018.

The Ocala International Airport has come a long way from its beginnings more than 50 years ago, when the site on Southwest 60th Avenue was a peanut and watermelon field.

The facility, also known as Ocala International Airport-Jim Taylor Field, spans 1,500 acres, has a 7,400 foot runway, a $3 million tower and 25 private and airport operated hangers. It soon will have a new $5.3 million terminal, which will more than double the size of the original terminal.

The airport replaced the airstrip that once was located where the Ocala Target store now sits. That site dates back to 1927, when Ruperty Cavanas persuaded Jim Taylor to donate land to the city of Ocala for development of an airport, according to the city’s website.

Ocala International Airport is owned and operated by the city of Ocala. A five-member Airport Advisory Board is appointed by the Ocala City Council. A full-time director and staff of four manage the airport. The airport serves general aviation, corporate aviation, the air cargo industry and accommodates flight training.

“We thrive on being a top-notch, general aviation airport, said Matt Grow, the director.

General aviation means the airport provides all services of a traditional airport except scheduled commercial flights. The airport oversees about 65,000 landings and takeoffs a year from aircraft weighing as little as 1,000 pounds to Boeing 757s weighing 255,000 pounds and fully loaded.

Among the coming changes are that the original terminal will be demolished and the rental car operation will be moved to the new 17,500-square-foot terminal. The airport’s fixed wing operator, Sheltair Aviation, will move into the new terminal and overhaul its current building.

Bids for the work will be opened in January. Construction is scheduled to begin in July 2018 and be completed and move-in ready by July 2019.

“The new terminal will give us a lot more flexibility,” Grow said.

The airport generates about $1.2 million annually and uses about $850,000 for annual operating expenses. The difference is used to pay mostly for capital projects, such as the new terminal.

And, as with most Ocala airport projects, Grow garnered grants and made other deals to pay for the bulk of the cost of the new terminal.

The Florida Department of Transportation will pay $2.5 million for the project. Sheltair will chip in $2 million, in exchange for 3,500 square feet of office space. The airport will pay up $800,000 for its share. The total cost is expected to come in at $5.3 million.

The new, single-story terminal will house the rental car service, expanded restaurant, meeting and banquet rooms, Sheltair and the administrative offices.

Grow said the original 6,000-square-foot terminal, which houses the rental car businesses, cannot be salvaged. It is a cinderblock building that was not designed to ever be expanded.

The current Sheltair building, leased to the aviation company by the airport, will be renovated by Sheltair and used primarily as space for the current flight school and for office space.

The airport is required by federal law to earmark money generated by the airport for only airport purposes. That means money generated by the airport cannot be used for other city government projects. It also means the airport has to charge at least market rates when it leases or sells property to other government departments.

With revenues from leases, airport hangar fees and a portion of fuel sales, “the airport is financially self-sufficient. We are not a drain on the general fund. Not at all,” Grow said.

Airport officials created preliminary designs for the new terminal in 2005, and again in 2008. The plan was scrapped when the recession hit and use of the airport declined.

As the economy improved and more people began to fly, Grow said the airport again looked at the financial feasibility of a new terminal.

He said the airport enjoys a nice mix of use. The bulk of airplanes are small, private planes, and there are many student pilots, he said. In the long run, he added, some of those student pilots eventually become commercial pilots who will fly commercial planes into and out of the airport.

The airport sees about 100 large charter planes annually. Those are made up of Boeing 727s bringing in horses for sale at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company across 60th Avenue and Boeing 757s carrying people. That does not include large private jets, Grow said.

As for the future, Grow expects demands on the airport to increase as more businesses like FedEx, AutoZone and Chewy Inc. set up distribution centers or manufacturing here. He estimates the airport will need the terminal to have an additional 8,000 square feet in 10 years. The new terminal is designed so it will be easy to expand, he said.

He also has a wait list of 20 pilots who want hangar space and said he plans to add another 20 to 25 hangar units in 2020.

In the long term, Grow said, he also wants to attract more and larger planes. Part of that goal is to attract international Boeing 767 planes bringing in horses from around the world. To do that, the airport will need a new and wider taxiway and apron. The current one east of the main runway is too narrow and already needs repaving.

The new taxiway and apron could be built in sections and west of the runway, with the first part paid for by the airport and used to attract federal and state grants to help pay for the rest, Grow said. A new taxiway and apron would cost $12 million.

“It would open the west side of the airport for heavy airport operations and also accommodate the current equine demand for horse business,” he said.

Some of the funding could come from land sales within the airport property. There currently are 150 acres for sale west of the main runway and buildings. Any new owners of the property would benefit from being so close to air transportation and the airport benefits from additional customers due to the new business, Grow said.

He hopes to build a small section of a new taxiway within five years and apply for grants after that.

In the meantime, repaving the existing taxiway will cost about $3.5 million, with all but about $200,000 coming from federal and Florida state grants. That work is slated for 2019.

Other possible projects could include lengthening the airport’s 3,000 foot long crosswind east/west runway by an additional 891 feet to each end.

Even with all the changes, there remains the question: Will there ever be scheduled, commercial flights arriving and leaving from the airport?

Grow said he would welcome a major carrier but with nine surrounding airports already providing that service, the wait could be a long one.

Ocala Councilman Jay Musleh said the goal is to make Ocala a destination and that a new terminal will attract more airplanes and the visitors and investors they carry.

“This new terminal really gives us a chance to be on the map,” he said.

Popular equestrian events such as the annual weeks-long Horse Shows in the Sun, or HITS series, and a planned World Equestrian Center and its associated residential communities, will generate more demand for air travel and the new terminal fits nicely into that mix, Musleh said.

“Matt (Grow) has done a fantastic job and has become a very strong advocate for Ocala and for the airport,” Musleh added. “We’re very fortunate to have him.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Federal Aviation Administration gives PenAir high safety marks

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — PenAir is among the first air carriers in the United States to receive approval by the FAA for its safety management system (SMS), the airline announced December 14th.

The Alaskan company, which also serves the Northern Maine Regional Airport in Presque Isle, began implementing the FAA-mandated safety management system in 2010 as a voluntary pilot project. Now, the FAA requires every air carrier in the United States to have an approved and accepted SMS by March 9, 2018.

Airline officials said via a press release that PenAir has been recognized for its accident-free safety record and the continuous improvement of their safety culture.

“This has been a huge undertaking for us but we could not be more pleased with the outcome,” said Brian Whidden, senior vice president of safety and flight operations. “Distinction through safety has been our emphasis and has driven our employees to be the very best when it comes to our #1 goal of safety, safety, safety.

He said, “Every employee has played a major role for the last seven years towards this distinction and it has paid off. We are proud to be amongst the first in the nation, and the only regional carrier in Alaska, to receive this recognition for our outstanding and distinguished safety system.”

With an SMS program, air carriers must assess and analyze potential hazards and then implement hazard controls and preventative maintenance to ensure that identified risks are mitigated to the lowest possible level. It means that the aviation industry is striving to be one of the safest industries in the country.

Whitten noted auditors with the airline’s codeshare partner, Alaska Airlines, recently completed PenAir’s bi-annual audit. He attributed its success to the safety management system.

“The auditors completing the audit indicated they have done thousands of audits and indicated PenAir was one of the best they had seen,” said Whilden. “Receiving these words of approval from Alaska Airlines as well as the FAA’s validation of our safety management system emphasizes our commitment to the safety of our customers and employees,” he said.

Celebrating 60 plus years of service, PenAir began in 1955 in Bristol Bay, Alaska. It currently serves eight communities in southwest Alaska and operates scheduled flights between Boston and Presque Isle, Plattsburgh, N.Y., and Bar Harbor.  

Original article can be found here ➤

City to request release of 337 acres of Oskaloosa Municipal Airport (KOOA) land

The City of Oskaloosa is requesting that the FAA release the city from federal obligation 337 acres of land at the Oskaloosa Municipal Airport. If the request is approved, the city will sell the land, which is designated non-aeronautical, and re-invest the proceeds in the South Central Regional Airport. The land shaded in yellow is dedicated airport land that is necessary for aeronautical operations and must stay in use until the new airport is operating.

OSKALOOSA — The city of Oskaloosa took another step toward divesting itself of Oskaloosa Municipal Airport property.

At Monday's meeting, the Oskaloosa City Council approved a resolution to submit requests to the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Department of Defense to release about 337 acres of non-aeronautical use property at the municipal airport.

The move comes on the heels of the South Central Regional Airport Agency's approval last week of a task order to have the requests prepared.

“This item provides support to the South Central Regional Airport Agency to proceed with completing the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Defense Procedures to dispose of federally obligated land at the Oskaloosa Municipal Airport that is not needed for aeronautical purposes so the revenue from the disposal of the land can be re-invested in the South Central Regional Airport,” Mayor David Krutzfeldt said. “This action will not result in the actual sale or disposal of the airport property. The disposal process requires a second action to be taken by the city of Oskaloosa and the Oskaloosa City Council at a future date and time.”

A request for release has to be submitted to the Department of Defense because the Oskaloosa Municipal Airport was once an auxiliary airfield of the Ottumwa Naval Air Station.

“We know there will be a Department of Defense clearance that we need to work through,” City Manager Michael Schrock said. “We think that will occur rather quickly.”

Council Member Tom Walling asked how long the FAA process would take.

“It's the FAA process for the release from the federal obligations that may take a little bit longer,” Schrock said. “We want to be teed up and ready to go when the FAA is ready to move forward with that. Back in 2012, we completed a preliminary request for release and submitted that to the FAA, so they're well aware of what we want to do. We've been expressing our intentions for many years.”

He added that it would be at least a year, though, because some of the land is currently leased.

“We know it will be at least a year before the release occurs because there's a lease on the farm ground itself today,” Schrock said. “We're required to provide 90 days notice within any calendar year, and we've missed that window by a little bit. So, we'll talk to that leaseholder, and we're going to talk to the Oskaloosa Airport Board next month and see where we're at with it. We obviously have to provide them notice. If that means one more year for crops, we get another year of revenue.”

A question was also raised regarding whether the land would be parceled out or sold all at once, assuming the FAA grants the release request.

“Given the situation with the project and having some anticipated need to get some money up front quickly, I suspect we'll release the property, if given the approval, all at once, so we can get money into the project and move forward with the property acquisition phase of the project,” Schrock answered.

The total property at the municipal airport is over 600 acres. The remaining 277 acres, which is deemed necessary for aeronautical operations, would continue to operate until the new airport is operating.

“It's good to see this project continue to move forward,” Council Member Doug Yates said. “It's very important for our region, and it's great to see these steps being taken.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Funeral home employee honored by fire department: Fisher Horizon 2, N428AP, fatal accident occurred October 04, 2017 near Flying Cloud Airport (KFCM), Eden Prairie, Hennepin County, Minnesota

Eden Prairie Fire Department Chief George Esbensen shakes hands with Chad Willard of Huber Funeral Homes & Cremation Services on December 12th. 

An employee of Huber Funeral Homes & Cremation Services has been honored for his efforts in responding to an Oct. 4 fatal plane crash in Eden Prairie.

Chad Willard of Huber Funeral Homes was presented with the Eden Prairie Fire Department's Award of Recognition during the Dec. 12 Eden Prairie City Council meeting.

"Mr. Willard's role in this emergency scene was invaluable," said Eden Prairie Fire Chief George Esbensen.

Philip Schaffer's, Fisher Horizon 2, an amateur-built experimental aircraft, crashed around 11:08 a.m on the south side of Resurrection Life Church, 16394 Glory Lane, minutes after Schaffer had departed from Flying Cloud Airport.

Schaffer, a 77-year-old Richfield resident was killed.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the fatal crash, the first Eden Prairie has had since 2009.

Chad Willard of Huber Funeral Homes & Cremation Services was presented with the Eden Prairie Fire Department's Award of Recognition on December 12th.  Pictured, from left, are Fire Chief George Esbensen, Chad Willard and Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens. 

Esbensen said on the day of the incident, Willard was working at the funeral home, which is next door to the church, and heard the commotion.

Willard was first on the scene and assessed the situation. He notified authorities, used a fire extinguisher from the funeral home to try reducing the fire and secured the scene until police and fire crews arrived.

After being presented with the award, Willard said he was accepting it on behalf of all first responders.

"On behalf of all your professional work, thank you," he said.

Story and photos ➤

 Philip Anthony Schaffer

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

Additional Participating Entity:

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

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Eden Prairie, MN
Accident Number: CEN18FA003
Date & Time: 10/04/2017, 1105 CDT
Registration: N428AP
Aircraft: SCHAFFER Fisher Horizon 2
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On October 4, 2017, at 1108 central daylight time, N428AP, an amateur built Schaffer Fisher Horizon 2 airplane, collided with terrain in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The private rated pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postimpact fire. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual flight rules conditions existed near the accident site at the time of the accident, and a flight plan had not been filed. The local flight departed from the Flying Cloud Airport (FCM), Eden Prairie, Minnesota, about 1103.

According to the FCM control tower controller, the pilot had departed on runway 28R. Several witnesses reported seeing the airplane takeoff and just prior to the impact. Witnesses on the airport that saw the takeoff, reported the airplane was "unstable" during the takeoff. They described the airplane pitching up and down, and banking as it climbed out. One witness stated he was able to see the top of the wings as if the airplane was straight up and down before it made a turn to the southeast. Other witnesses who saw the airplane just before the impact reported the airplane was a in a steep nose down, left descending spiral. The witnesses reported seeing the airplane complete between 1 ½ and 3 spirals before it descended below the trees. Several witnesses reported hearing the airplane engine sound. The FCM controller also reported the pilot had aborted a previous takeoff attempt, just prior to the accident flight. The reason for the aborted takeoff is unknown.

The initial impact point was in the parking lot on the south side of the Resurrection Life Church located on Glory Lane, Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The wreckage debris path from the first impact to the main wreckage was on a magnetic heading of 30°. The initial ground impact consisted of scrape marks on the asphalt. About 20 feet further along the path was a gouge mark in the pavement which contained numerous pieces of splintered wood. The right wing was located wrapped around a light pole about 210' from the initial impact. Further along the wreckage path were the burned fuel tanks, the engine, what remained of the cockpit/fuselage, the empennage, and lastly the propeller hub. The wreckage from the right wing to the end of the wreckage path was mostly destroyed by fire. Pieces of the splintered composite propeller blade, plexiglass, and wood were scattered along the entire wreckage path. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: SCHAFFER
Registration: N428AP
Model/Series: Fisher Horizon 2
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: 
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation: FCM, 906 ft msl
Observation Time: 1605 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 225 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 11°C / 5°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots, 260°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 2400 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.37 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Eden Prairie, MN (FCM)
Destination: Eden Prairie, MN (FCM) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground 
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 44.855833, -93.483889 (est)

Zenith Zodiac 601XL, N929GB, registered to and operated by the private pilot: Fatal accident occurred December 21, 2017 in Thompson's Station, Williamson County, Tennessee

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Nashville, Tennessee

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Thompson's Station, TN
Accident Number: WPR18FA053
Date & Time: 12/21/2017, 1307 CST
Registration: N929GB
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On December 21, 2017, about 1307 central standard time, a Gregory S. Browning Zodiac 601XL experimental, amateur-built airplane, N929GB, was substantially damaged following a loss of control and impact with terrain while maneuvering at a low altitude near Thompson's Station, Tennessee. The airplane was registered to and operated by the private pilot, the sole occupant, as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The pilot was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight departed Bomar Field-Shelbyville Municipal Airport (SYI), Shelbyville, Tennessee about 1230, with an intended destination to Whifferdill Airport (TN77), Chapmansboro, Tennessee. No flight plan was filed for the flight.

According to a family member, the pilot had flown the airplane from TN77 to SYI a few weeks earlier to have an autopilot installed. On the day of the accident the family member drove the pilot to SYI to retrieve the airplane and return it to TN77. Personnel at the maintenance facility where the work had been completed were surprised to see the pilot when he arrived for the airplane, as he had not informed them of his plans to pick the airplane up that day. Additionally, the pilot was asked if he was sure that he wanted to make the flight, as the weather was not good, with low ceilings and limited visibility; the pilot elected to proceed with the flight to his home base. Maintenance personnel reported that after the pilot had settled his bill, he started the engine, taxied to the parallel taxiway, and then departed to the south on the taxiway, rather than on Runway 18. The witness then observed the pilot make an excessive left banking turn after liftoff at a low altitude before heading toward the northwest.

About 35 minutes into the flight, the airplane impacted a stand of trees and terrain about 35 nautical miles northwest of SYI, on a magnetic heading of about 120o . A first responder, who resides about 250 ft south of the accident site, reported that she heard a very loud noise outside of her residence, after which she observed that an airplane had crashed. The responder reported that when she arrived at the accident site, she detected the presence of fuel, and that there was no indication of fire. The responder revealed that the weather in the area at the time of the accident consisted of low clouds about tree top level, with very limited visibility.

Representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration surveyed the accident site the day following the event. The airplane came to rest upright on a magnetic heading of about 120o . With the exception of the main landing gear and some small pieces of fuselage, the airplane was intact. The initial impact point with the stand of trees, which were about 60 ft high, was about 115 ft northwest of the main wreckage site. The second impact point was with additional trees about the 40-foot level. The airplane subsequently came to rest in an open field next to a residential rural dirt road.

At 1253, the weather reporting station located at the Nashville International Airport (BNA), Nashville, Tennessee, about 25 nm northeast of the accident site, reported wind 220° at 9 knots, visibility 10 miles, overcast clouds at 900 ft, temperature 13° C, dew point 11° C, and an altimeter reading of 30.03 inches of mercury.

The airplane was recovered to a secured storage facility for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: BROWNING GREGORY S
Registration: N929GB
Model/Series: ZODIAC 601XL XL
Aircraft Category: Airplane
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: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: BNA
Observation Time: 1303 CST
Distance from Accident Site: 25 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C / 11°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Thin Overcast / 1000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 9 knots, 120°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 1000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.03 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Shelbyville, TN (SYI)
Destination: Chapmansboro, TN (TN77) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 35.819167, -87.046944

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Obituary for Jerry Travis

Jerry Elton Travis, age 79, of Chapmansboro, died Thursday, December 21, 2017 from injuries sustained in an airplane accident. Funeral services will be conducted at 11 o’clock am, Wednesday, December 27th at Austin & Bell Funeral Home in Pleasant View with Bro. Johnny Trail officiating. Burial will follow in EverRest of Cheatham with family & friends serving as pallbearers.

The family will receive friends at the funeral home from 3:00-7:00PM on Tuesday, December 26th, and again on Wednesday beginning at 10:00AM until the hour of service.

Mr. Travis was born on September 9, 1938 in Nashville, Tennessee to the late Ed and Bea Beeler. He was a retired pipeline welder and was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Jerry was an airplane enthusiast and was a pilot of his own airplanes for well over 50 years.

In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his former wife, Beverly Travis; son, Dan Travis; and step-grandsons, Joshua Petty and Tony Petty, Jr.

He is survived by his wife Carolyn Travis; sons, Lee (Sharon) Travis, and Tony (Ann) Travis; step-sons, Tony Petty, and Scott (Tammy) Petty; step-daughters, Misty (Stanley) Guess, Mittzi Baker, and Angie Taylor; brother, Roy Beeler; sisters, Joyce Stewart and Dessie Carrol; four grandchildren; 4 step-grandchildren; 2 step-great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

AUSTIN & BELL FUNERAL HOME in PLEASANT VIEW is in charge of these arrangements.

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WZTV) — Williamson County officials say one person was killed in a small plane crash Thursday afternoon.

The FAA said a Zenith Zodiac 601XL, amateur-built aircraft collided with trees and crashed in a field in Thompson Station at about 1 p.m.

Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long said the plane crashed in the driveway of a home along Casparis Road. There was only one person on the plane, that crashed about 40 to 50 yards from the home.

A witness, Trisha Reed, heard the plane fly over her house and slam into the ground.

“I heard the plane coming over," Reed said. "You could hear the engine full blast. You didn’t hear it slow down or anything, but it sounded different because it was so low. I heard it hit the trees and hit the ground. You can hear the metal crunch together."

William Gray was outside when he heard the plane crash.

"The plane was still buzzing," Gray said. "It had an ignition key, and I turned it off. The man was still breathing when I got there. He was grunting. I cut the seat belt and raised him up. He was all slumped down in it."

Reed said people jumped into help after seeing the crash, but attempts to rescue the pilot were unsuccessful.

“It’s kind of shocking and very sad," Long said. "I feel for his family. Christmas will never be the same again for them."

“It’s a tragedy," Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long said. "Anytime you have a fatality, it is a tragedy especially this time a year. When you have a loved one who’s not going to be able to be there with their family, it really strikes home to all of us."

The plane will be guarded until Friday morning when the NTSB plans to arrive to figure out what caused the aircraft to go down. Officials have not yet released the identity of the deceased pilot.

The FAA is investigating.

Story and video ➤

Leiper's Fork resident William Gray said he was working in his backyard Thursday afternoon when he heard a loud noise, looked up and saw a small plane crash into trees near his home.

"I heard something, and I looked up and the plane was going at about a 45 degree angle and real low and all at once it hit the trees and bang it hit the ground," he told reporters gathered near the crash. 

He responded and said he saw the pilot slumped down inside the plane.

"I cut the seat belt, his arm was all hanging down," he said. "I didn’t know anything else to do."

Gray said the man was breathing at first, then he stopped.

Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long confirmed that one man died in the crash Thursday. He said law enforcement are still working to determine the man's identity.

He said during a press conference that law enforcement were notified around 1 p.m. of the possible crash off Casparis Road.

Law enforcement and emergency medical responders arrived to find a small, personally-constructed plane  in a driveway on the 3900 block of Caparis Road.

"At this time, the (Federal Aviation Administration) has been notified," Long said. "They will be here this afternoon to conduct their investigation."

Long said the plane was made from a kit, but was a registered aircraft. 

He also said that one of the residents of the home whose driveway the plane crashed in, responded to the crash and tried unsuccessfully to revive the pilot.

Law enforcement are trying to determine where the plane was coming from.

Neighbor Tricia Reid, said she didn't see anything, but heard the plane crash into some trees.

She said she heard the sound of wood snapping and the grinding of the engine, but that when she responded with another neighbor it was too late for the pilot.

"Christmas will never be the same again for (the pilot's family)," she said. "I'm so sorry this happened."

Williamson County Emergency Management Agency Director Mac Purdy said, he sheriff's department was the first on the scene, then the fire department and emergency management services."

Story and photo ➤

FRANKLIN, TN (WSMV) - Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long said one person was killed in a small plane crash in the Leiper's Fork area on Thursday.

The crash was reported just before 1 p.m. at 3999 Casparis Road. The sheriff said a neighbor saw the plane and heard it crash.

The crash happened about 50 yards from someone's home. A neighbor tried to help the pilot.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board is responding to the crash.

Story, video and photo gallery ➤

LEIPER'S FORK, Tenn. - A pilot was killed in a plane crash in a remote part of Williamson County. 

The crash was reported around 1 p.m. Thursday in an area south of Interstate 840, about ten miles west of Thompson’s Station, in the Boston community.

Federal Aviation Administration officials said the plane was a Zodiac 601XL, amateur-built aircraft. They confirmed only the pilot was on board. Local officials confirmed he passed away.

A witness said she heard a loud boom near Mobley's Cut and Casparis Road in Leiper's Fork. She told NewsChannel 5 a small aircraft crashed into a tree then a field, not far from a barn. 

Officials from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office confirmed they were called out to investigate, but additional details were not available.  

The National Transportation Safety Board was sent to determine the probable cause of the crash.

Story and photo gallery ➤

THOMPSON’S STATION, Tenn. (WKRN) –The Williamson County sheriff said one person was killed in a small plane crash in Thompson’s Station Thursday afternoon.

It happened on Casparis Road, just south of Interstate 840, around 1 p.m.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the amateur-built aircraft collided with trees before crashing into a field. Sheriff Jeff Long said the crash site is about 40 to 50 yards away from a home. No one inside the home was injured.

According to Long, a neighbor saw the plane going down and called 911 before rendering aid to the victim.

“It’s a tragedy ... Someone has lost their loved one and that hits home for all of us,” he said.

The crash victim’s identity has not been released.

Long said there was no indication the pilot tried to land the plane prior to the crash. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Long said it’s been at least eight or nine years since the last plane crash in Williamson County.

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Cessna 172M Skyhawk, N4491R, Monroe Aviation School of Flight: Accident occurred December 21, 2017 at Custer Airport (KTTF), Monroe County, Michigan

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; East Michigan

Monroe Aviation School of Flight LLC:

NTSB Identification: GAA18CA097
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, December 21, 2017 in Monroe, MI
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N4491R

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

Aircraft was substantially damaged during crosswind landing on runway 21. Flight instructor and student pilot were not injured.

Date: 21-DEC-17
Time: 17:45:00Z
Regis#: N4491R
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91

Three people were uninjured in a plane crash at Monroe Custer Airport Thursday.

The crash occurred at 12:46 p.m.

Monroe Fire Chief Rob Wight said preliminary investigation indicates the three were up for a training flight and the flight instructor had to take the plane over at one point.

The plane sustained damage to the propeller and one of the wings.

“Thankfully no one was injured,” Wight said.

The Federal Aviation Administration was called to conduct an investigation.

Emergency crews were on scene for about 25 minutes before they cleared.

Monroe Police and Monroe Community Ambulance were also called to the scene to assist. 

Original article can be found here ➤

A student flying a small plane crashed while trying to land at a Monroe airport Thursday afternoon, police said. 

Lt. John Wall said the call came in at 12:46 p.m. on Thursday for police to dispatch to Custer Airport at North Custer and North Telegraph roads.

Wall said the student was coming in for a landing when the senior pilot on board relayed there was a failure in power or malfunction with the plane. 

"The wings hit the runway, once one hit, it bounced to the other side, hitting the other wing on the runway. The prop struck the runway and the front landing gear broke."

No one was injured in the incident and police are not sure what caused the malfunction and found no fluid leaking from the plane. Wall said the case was turned over to the FAA and the plane belonged to Custer Airport. 

"There was some type of mechanical issue, we really don't know...just glad it was not a fall-out-of-the-sky crash," he said. 

Original article can be found here ➤

MONROE, Mich. - A small plane crashed Thursday afternoon at Custer Airport in Monroe during flight instructions.

According to police, a Cessna crash landed at about 1 p.m. at the northern end of the runway.

Two people were on board. No injuries were reported.

The plane suffered minor damage.

The pilot indicated a power failure as the plane was about to land. 

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Madison, Wisconsin picked for F-35 fighter jets

The future of Madison’s Air National Guard base was bolstered Thursday with the announcement that it will become home to a squadron of $100 million F-35 fighter jets.

The first of the 18 planes is scheduled to arrive at Truax Field on Madison’s North Side early in 2023 after an environmental impact study that will include a public comment period as it examines everything from jet engine noise to air emissions to social and economic impacts.

Gov. Scott Walker said he looked forward to hearing the “sound of freedom” flying over the Madison area.

Local politicians and business leaders have been campaigning to win the high-tech aircraft as a way of securing jobs and other economic benefits.

“I congratulate the dedicated men and women of the 115th Fighter Wing,” said U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison. “I have been proud to play a lead role within the Wisconsin Congressional delegation advocating for the 115th, and I am pleased that the Air Force has recognized the tremendous strategic, geographic and economic capabilities that Truax offers.”

Baldwin’s Republican counterpart, Sen. Ron Johnson, of Oshkosh, said the jets would benefit all of southern Wisconsin.

“I look forward to Wisconsin playing a major role as the Air Force modernizes and enhances its capabilities to keep America safe and secure,” Johnson said.

Huge cost overruns plagued the F-35 program early on. As production picked up, the 2014 per-plane price of $108 million began dropping and hit $94 million recently, a Pentagon procurement office spokesman said Thursday. A year ago, when President-elect Donald Trump blasted the costs, independent analysts said when all costs were included the price tag was closer to $138 million.

Last month, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that 250 F-35s had been deployed with plans to triple the number before 2022, but the effort is plagued by problems including the aircraft’s inability to meet performance standards in trials, and that shortages of spare parts kept planes grounded 22 percent of the time.

Training grounds seen as advantage

The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and a support group for the base, Badger Air Community Council, raised money to push for Truax.

“We are extremely proud and excited about today’s announcement for the 1,200 airmen of the 115th Fighter Wing, as well as for Greater Madison’s economy,” chamber president Zach Brandon said.

Truax employs 445 men and women full time in addition to 700 Guard members who participate in periodic drills. The chamber has estimated the base delivers $100 million in annual economic impact. It also provides emergency services for the adjacent Dane County Regional Airport, and area colleges benefit because Guard members receive government tuition support, Brandon said.

Mayor Paul Soglin predicted the new aircraft will maintain Truax’s economic stability for decades.

Community support and Truax’s relatively short distance from the training range at Volk Field were important selling points, said Jeff Wiegand, recently retired commander of the 115th and Badger Air Community Council executive director.

The Air Force announced last year that the base was one of 18 Air National Guard locations being considered for the growing fleet of F-35 jets. The field was narrowed to five finalists in December 2016.

Truax now is home to F-16 jets that are among the oldest still in operation. Being selected as an F-35 site should help protect Truax when the military re-evaluates its needs. The base was scrutinized in 2005 during the last national base realignment process.

Louder or quieter

Air Force studies show F-35s can be louder or quieter than F-16s depending on flight paths, use of afterburners and other factors. The federally mandated environmental impact studies usually include detailed projections of how loud the F-35s will sound in various locations around an air field.

Madison residents, especially those on the East Side, have often complained about the roar of commercial and military jets. The county airport and the Air National Guard have said they take steps to minimize noise.

The governor said he didn’t expect F-35s to produce substantially more or louder noise around Truax Field.

“As someone who lives in earshot of this, I’ve got to tell you, it’s not that frequent,” Walker said. The Executive Residence in Maple Bluff is about 7 miles southwest of Truax.

Walker also said the fighter jets and $20 million in federal dollars to upgrade the base would be like “pouring jet fuel” on the Madison-area economy.

Walker said no taxpayer money was offered to persuade the Air Force, and he would not say how much money was spent lobbying. He said the lobbying was largely done by the state’s federal delegation.

The Chamber of Commerce contracted with two advisers with military expertise in Washington, D.C., and raised $100,000 for its efforts to bring the fighters to Madison in conjunction with the Badger Air Community Council.

The Air Force on Thursday announced another new F-35 site, Dannelly Field in Montgomery, Alabama.

“Putting F-35s at these two Air National Guard bases continues our transition into the next generation of air superiority,” said Air Force Chief of Staff David L. Goldfein.

The other three bases announced in December 2016 — Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho; Jacksonville Air National Guard Base in Florida; and Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Detroit — are considered “reasonable alternatives” to Truax and Dannelly.

Original article can be found here ➤