Friday, December 22, 2017

Company challenging Occupational Safety and Health Administration fines in Hector International Airport (KFAR) runway death

Shawn Dobberstein, executive director of the Fargo Airport Authority, shows where a collision occurred between an SUV and a small machine operator who was painting markings on the runway Monday, July 31, at Hector International Airport.

FARGO — A Mandan, N.D., company that paints stripes on pavement is challenging $17,746 worth of fines leveled against it by OSHA following a worker's death July 31 at Fargo's Hector International Airport.

Darry Arveson Jr., 48, of Glen Ullin, N.D., was using a vehicle to paint lines on the runway when he was hit by an SUV driven by airport assistant director Darren Anderson.

Anderson, who has worked for the airport since 1997, and his passenger in the SUV were not hurt in the crash.

Arveson died at the scene.

The collision happened on the airport's main runway.

OSHA investigated the incident and issued three citations to West River Striping Co. The citations carry potential fines totaling $17,746, according to Eric Brooks, area director for OSHA.

Brooks said West River Striping has challenged the citations and the case will likely be heard before an administrative law judge in U.S. District Court.

A hearing on the case has not yet been scheduled, according to Brooks.

West River Striping Co. declined to comment on the matter.

Brooks said the citations brought against West River Striping allege illumination was inadequate at the time of the crash and the vehicle Arveson was in did not have adequate headlights, taillights or audible warning devices.

Brooks said vehicle safety was an issue in many employee injury cases OSHA investigated in North Dakota in 2017.

The Fargo airport crash was investigated by the Fargo Police Department.

Deputy Police Chief Joe Anderson said a report on the incident is not yet publicly available because the case is awaiting a decision by the Cass County State's Attorney's Office as to whether criminal charges will be filed.

Original article ➤

Agency recruiting University of North Dakota pilots early

FARGO, N.D. (AP) A federal agency is turning to the University of North Dakota to help alleviate a pilot shortage.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is offering part-time jobs to underclassmen at the Grand Forks school with hopes they will help protect the country when they graduate.

Students will work as aviation enforcement trainees and earn as much as $14 an hour while going to school. There are $100,000-a-year jobs waiting for them when they graduate.

The so-called Pathways Program is open to sophomores and juniors at North Dakota, which was selected for the fledgling project partly because it's close to the security branch that guards the northern border.

UND Aerospace Assistant Dean Ken Polovitz says the program illustrates opportunities in aviation. He says regional airlines are also recruiting students as sophomores.

Original article can be found here ➤

Ladue, Missouri updates peeping Tom law to cover drones

LADUE, Mo. – Some Ladue residents have asked Mayor Nancy Spewak how the city will regulate privacy and drone usage as the it moves into the future.

Ladue is expanding its peeping Toms ordinance to now cover drone usage. This prohibits people from peering into the windows others buildings and houses without a visible or lawful purpose.

“I think this was most enforceable ordinance we could put forth was the window peeping,” Spewak said. “We already had it on the books and we just put electronic devices in there.”

The mayor said the city hasn’t experienced any problems with drones or complaints, but they just want to get out in front of it.

“We've been very proactive,” she said. “It’s on everyone’s mind because everyone is talking about drones and in the future.”

Ladue wanted an enforceable ordinance for police to prevent drones from flying around on private property without permission of the property owners.

“This is not meant to stop package delivery in the future by drone; and real estate agents use drones to show property,” Spewak said.

The mayor said she believes a few other local cities have enacted similar ordinances and this is all about protecting citizens.

“I just think it’s important that residents understand that we take their concerns seriously and that we always want to be proactive in protecting their privacy,” she said.

Story and video ➤

Robert Scheinblum: Federal Aviation Administration awards East Texas man Master Pilot award

Scheinblum receives award for 50 years of safe flight.

GREGG COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -  An East Texas pilot flew jets, planes and even helicopters for over fifty years, and now he’s got a little something to show for it.

Today at East Texas Regional Airport in Gregg County Robert Scheinblum received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, the most prestigious award issued by the FAA to pilots. Getting the award means that all during his time as a civilian pilot, a Marine pilot, and a commercial pilot, he didn’t have one safety violation.

He says he has always loved planes.

“That’s just something that’s been inside of me since I can remember. I built model airplanes as a child. I colored pictures of airplanes when I was a child. All I ever wanted to do was fly airplanes,” Scheinblum said.

Scheinblum says he flew about 30 kinds of planes, jets and helicopters. He retired from piloting in 2015.

Story and video ➤

Geauga County Airport (7G8) has kept small-town feel in post 9/11 era

The Geauga County Airport in Middlefield Village and Township will celebrate 50 years on Sept. 29. Pictured are Patty Fulop, the board’s secretary/treasurer/manager and Board President William Meyer. 

It’s been nearly 50 years since the Geauga County Airport officially opened as part of a state initiative of then-Gov. James Rhodes to have an airport in every county.

Since that time, the 41-acre site — located in Middlefield Village and Township — has managed to retain its unique country charm.

Airports used to be a place where the public could easily hang out to watch planes take off and land, but that changed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said Geauga County Airport Authority Board President William Meyer.

“You’d see the typical kid looking through the fence, going up to the pilot and saying, ‘Hey mister, can I help you wash your airplane?’ And he wants a ride in exchange for that. This is one of the few places where that could still happen,” Meyer said. “Many airports now have a 10-foot high chain link fence all the way around it because Homeland Security wants that. But this is still an airport where people can walk up and enjoy it. I think that’s one of the things that sets us apart from many airports in the country.”

The Geauga County Airport services general aviation and incoming charter flights. It is also home to Air Methods MedEvac air ambulance, Cleveland Soaring Society (a glider club) and a chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, made up of hobbyists who build and renovate airplanes.

“The EAA pilots fly youth at no cost just to give them an experience in aviation and maybe spur some of them to get involved,” said Patty Fulop, the airport’s secretary/treasurer/manager. Current facilities include a 3,500-foot-long primary runway, two T-hangars, one private hangar, two community hangars, a pilot lounge and restroom facility.

Future plans include new LED runway lights, additional T-hangars and a paved parallel taxiway, said Fulop.

“Safety is always first and foremost,” she said. “We have no safety issues, and we don’t get a lot of noise complaints. We are meeting all the (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations. One future project is an FAA-mandated study to see if there is an issue with deer coming onto the runway since it’s not fenced.”

Fulop, who works part-time at the airport and part-time at Lost Nation Airport in Willoughby, is the Middlefield airport’s only non-contracted employee.

But there is always something going on at the all-weather site day and night.

“MedEvac has a 24-7 operation here,” Fulop said. “They always have four or five people on staff. We have 80 builders who come out to the airport. There are three builds going on right now within this building. Any Saturday morning, this place is hopping. I’d say we have 10 to 12 businesses that use the airport on a regular basis. And there is almost always somebody out in the workshop working. We’re used for business, but primarily this is an aviation enthusiast hobbyist’s airport.

“We also do a lot of tours. The kids are just so wide-eyed.”

The airport has 40 based aircraft — 33 of which are traditional piston engine aircraft. There are also two twin engines, the medical helicopter and six gliders.

“The Cleveland Soaring Society brings people from all over to take glider rides or learn how to fly,” she said. “I think that’s a great place to start. I think every pilot should be a glider pilot first. If something happens, you still have to be able to glide to the ground (without an engine). The glider group sometimes needs people to steady the wings because they’re so long. The kids are excited to run along with the planes. Around age 14, you can start to fly here. A few have gotten their glider ratings before they’ve gotten their driver’s license.”

Although small, Geauga County Airport has a mighty economic impact.

Each year, the airport creates 72 full-time equivalent jobs and puts $10.8 million into the county’s economy, according to a recent Ohio Airports Economic Impact Study.

“The airport is used a lot locally,” said Fulop. “When you come to the airport to work on your aircraft, you have to get lunch somewhere. If you come as a visitor, you go out to lunch or you go buy a quilt or you go see Amish country, so that’s tourist dollars.”

The airport is able to sustain itself in day-to-day operations through fuel sales and hangar rentals.

“We only need outside funding from the FAA to do capital projects,” Fulop said. “The local commissioners give us some type of match for grant projects.”

Meyer said the only hobbyist you won’t find at the Geauga County Airport are the warbirds, newly built replicas of vintage military aircraft.

“We don’t have any warbird activity here because we’re not big enough,” he said.

However, Meyer said the airport’s pilots are both highly-skilled and good people.

“The MedEvac pilots are very cautious and careful,” he added. “This group is very courteous pilots, and almost all are military-trained. Another one of our regulars does Pilots N Paws. He volunteers his time and aircraft to pick up and transport animals from kill shelters to no-kill shelters. He flies a (twin-turboprop) King Air 90.”

The airport board is made up of seven trustees — three are appointed by county commissioners, three by the board itself and one by Middlefield Village Council.

Meyer, of Hambden Township, is the son of a pilot. He began flying 43 years ago, learning at what was then called Medina County Airport.

Now a freelance instructor, Meyer has flown at many different airports throughout his career.

“Geauga County is my favorite airport,” he said. “It’s a nice place to be. It’s a place to hang out for grown ups as well as kids.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Blair Municipal Airport (KBTA) Authority approves plans for possible expansion

The Blair Airport Authority approved two plans Tuesday that could make way for future expansion at the Blair Municipal Airport (BTA).

The Airport Authority reviewed drawings for the airport layout plan (ALP) with Mike Dmyterko, principal at Coffman Associates Airport Consultants in Lee's Summit, Mo. Coffman Associates, which drafted the BTA's site feasibility and master plan in 1992, also helped develop the ALP.

The 184-page, 20-year ALP gives the Airport Authority the ability to request federal funding. According to the ALP, the biggest priority is extension of its runway 1,300 feet to the north. At 4,200 feet long and 100 feet wide, the BTA's current runway is comparable to the Northern Omaha and Millard airports.

If it expands to the recommended 5,500 feet, it will be on the same playing field as Council Bluffs (Iowa), Fremont and Plattsmouth municipal airports.

The cost of the runway extension is estimated at $2.6 million to $2.7 million. Ninety percent of the cost would be paid through federal grants.

Other proposed projects include construction of additional hangars as well as a restaurant and second airport entrance.

The Airport Authority approved the ALP, which Coffman Associates will submit to the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA will review and accept the plan. Acceptance of the plan doesn't commit the Airport Authority to complete the projects.

“The signature is simply the acceptance of the plan,” Dmyterko explained.

The Airport Authority also approved the submittal of its Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to the Nebraska Department of Transportation, Division of Aeronautics.

The CIP lists similar projects to the ALP, but allows the Airport Authority the ability to request state funding.

Original article can be found here ➤

Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (KPHF) to get $2 million back from TowneBank, law firm

The Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, which backed a $5 million bank loan to an airline that soon after went under, has negotiated a settlement with the bank and its former law firm.

The airport spent $3.5 million in state funds intended for capital improvements to pay off a loan between TowneBank and People Express Airlines instead. The bank and law firm Jones, Blechman, Woltz & Kelly agreed to give the airport $2 million in cash and interest rate discounts Thursday.

The settlement follows a state audit, the firing of the airport’s executive director and multiple resignations on the Peninsula Airport Commission’s board.

A “reasonable settlement” was one of several items Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne required before the airport could begin receiving state funds for capital improvements again.

He hadn’t read the full agreement on Thursday, but having learned the basics, he said, “That seems very reasonable to me.”

He said he would instruct the Department of Aviation to make the airport eligible for funding again and get the airport caught up on what it hadn’t been paid in the interim.

“I think this will bring it to a close,” he said.

TowneBank and the law firm will jointly pay $1.65 million in cash to the airport. It wasn’t clear how much each would pay.

The remaining $350,000 would come from reduced interest payments over 14 years on an unrelated bond the airport has with TowneBank. The airport will now owe the bank $16,913 per month versus $18,982 on that bond.

All three “expressly deny any wrongful acts, omissions or conduct on their part,” and agreed that they “acted reasonably and in good faith at the time of the loan transaction,” according to the agreement.

The airport commission agreed in closed session in June 2014 to guarantee the loan to People Express. In an open session, the commission approved a resolution authorizing the commission’s chair “to do and commit any act ” to provide for the “adequate, economical, and efficient provisions of air service and general business” at the airport.

No mention of the loan, the beneficiary or the amount were noted at the time.

The airport evicted People Express by early 2015 shortly after it started, and stopped, flying. The airport paid off the remainder of the loan, $4.5 million, using $3.5 million in state funds in February 2015. The airport’s lawyer at the time, Herbert V. Kelly Jr. of Jones, Blechman, Woltz & Kelly, signed off on the loan. Kelly was also chairman of TowneBank’s Executive Loan Committee and a member of the TowneBank Peninsula board.

A joint statement released Thursday said “all involved believed the loan, the guarantee, the actions leading up to its adoption by the (Peninsula Airport Commission), and the decisions as to collateral were proper and for the benefit of the airport and the region.”

People Express Airlines was not released from any potential liability as part of the agreement.

Original article can be found here ➤

Boeing Sold 175 Planes Thursday, So Why Did the Stock Drop?

Thursday was one of those days that seemed to be bursting with news reports from and about Boeing Co. There was almost too much for investors to pick from, and that gave them a reason to take the stock down nearly 1% on a day when the company firmed up an order for 175 new 737s. We’re not making this up.

We noted yesterday that the U.S. Department of Commerce made its final determination on a Boeing complaint against Canadian aircraft maker Bombardier for dumping the company’s CS-100 at below cost in the United States. The Commerce Department reiterated its 300% duty on imported Bombardier planes seating 100 to 150 passengers. There are still several steps before the duty becomes official, but it’s nearly a sure bet. Then there are likely to be appeals from Bombardier.

Boeing also announced Thursday that it had finalized an order for 175 of the company’s 737 MAX airplanes. At list prices the deal is worth $27 billion and includes options on an additional 50 aircraft. The order was announced as a commitment at last month’s Dubai Air Show, which means the final contract was already priced in. Boeing’s order book now shows 685 net new orders this year for its 737 family and a total of 844 net new orders for the year. That should push the company’s book-to-bill ratio for the full year above 1.1.

The company also announced that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted certification for its KC-46A tanker. The tanker is a modified version of Boeing’s 767, and the FAA certification verifies that the new tanker is both safe and reliable, according to the press release. The plane also requires a second airworthiness certification that the company and the U.S. Air Force are currently working on.

Finally, Boeing and Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer S.A. confirmed that the two companies have been discussing a “potential combination, the basis of which remains under discussion.” According to the statement, a transaction is subject to the approval of the Brazilian government and regulators, the two companies’ boards and Embraer shareholders.

The possible tie-up with Embraer is almost certainly a response to the Airbus-Bombardier deal that gave Airbus ownership of the Canadian company’s C-Series project that includes the CS-100 and CS-300 single-aisle passenger jets. The Wall Street Journal reported that the price for Embraer would include a substantial premium to the Brazilian firm’s market cap of around $3.7 billion. The figure $9 billion was tossed out by some analysts.

That’s almost certainly what caused the share price to fall. Boeing expects to rake in more than $12 billion in cash flow this year and investors apparently think they should get a sizable chunk of that. They’re not satisfied, again apparently, with a stock price increase for the year to date of nearly 90%.

What makes Embraer appealing to Boeing is the company’s regional jets that carry between 70 and 140 passengers, roughly the 100 to 150-passenger range Airbus got with the C-Series. More than anything, Boeing does not want to give Airbus an uncontested market niche, even if the niche is rather small.

Another reason for Boeing’s interest in Embraer is that it’s just about the only available choice. The Brazilian government undoubtedly will drive a hard bargain, not just on price but on other issues like factory locations, job guarantees and continuation of the Embraer brand.

Boeing stock traded down less than 1% early Friday, at $293.25 in a 52-week range of $154.96 to $299.33. The stock’s 12-month consensus price target is $291.52.

Embraer shares pulled back from Thursday’s new 52-week high of $26.25 and were last seen at $24.76. The 52-week low is $17.58 and the stock’s 12-month price target is $21.34.

Original article can be found here ➤

What happened to Richard Pompeo? Cumberland County, Pennsylvania man vanished without a trace in 1943

Thick eyeglasses may provide insight as to why Master Sgt. Richard L. Pompeo vanished without a trace.

The Mount Holly Springs man was last seen alive on Dec. 21, 1943, when he was forced to parachute out of a B-24 Liberator bomber that had developed engine trouble over the Alaskan wilderness.

The remains of three crewmates have since been recovered, and the wreckage is now part of the landscape of the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve east of Fairbanks.

Co-pilot Lt. Leon Crane survived his parachute jump from the plane and the harsh winter weather to walk out of the bush 84 days later in March 1944. Crane saw Pompeo’s chute deploy as the crew chief drifted to earth.

Prior mishap

What happened next? Nobody knows. But it was not the first time the son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Pompeo was involved in an aircraft mishap. The Sentinel in September 1944 published wire service articles on Richard receiving the Legion of Merit for outstanding service while assigned to the Army Air Force cold weather testing detachment at Ladd Field in Alaska.

Specifically, Pompeo was recognized for his work teaching enlisted men under his supervision. “[This] contributed materially to the creation of a highly trained ... aircraft maintenance unit necessary to testing operations under extreme Arctic conditions,” one article reads.

Another article quoted Col. H.H. Carr who worked with Pompeo from the beginning of the testing project that was established in the summer of 1940. That winter, there were no hangars on the airfield so Pompeo and others toiled often in high winds while the temperatures sank to 15 degrees below zero and colder.

On Jan. 17, 1942, Pompeo was a corporal assigned to accompany Carr on a mission to retrieve fellow pilots who were injured when they were forced to crash-land their planes.

“The ceiling was only a few hundred feet off the ground, so Carr climbed to 8,000 feet to avoid hitting mountain peaks,” the article reads. “The plane’s radio failed and they were lost, having been blown 50 miles off their course by a 50-miles-an hour wind.”

When the plane ran out of gas, it was forced down on a frozen river. The fuselage struck a snow-covered tree stump, flipping the aircraft onto its back. Carr and Pompeo escaped unhurt.

“The next day they packed their sleeping bags with snowshoes, food, [a] gun and a parachute for shelter and started walking down the river,” the story reads. “After traveling two miles of the stream, they met Jones E. Henry, a trapper. They returned to the plane for more equipment and then went 14 miles to Henry’s cabin on the Solmon River.”

Carr sprained a knee during their travels, but received medical care from the natives. This allowed Carr to walk after resting four days. Meanwhile, the two airmen secured a guide named Isaac Tritt, who was an American Indian and Henry’s partner.

Lost glasses?

Almost two years had gone by between that first mishap in January 1942 and the second mishap in December 1943 that probably claimed the life of Richard Pompeo.

The master sergeant was the crew chief of the Liberator bomber that took off from Ladd Field to record what happened to propellers at high-altitude in the subarctic. He was one of two people to bail out of the plane before it crashed into a mountaintop.

Looking back, Carr shared a memory from the earlier misadventure that could explain the fate of Pompeo. He had noticed how the missing man always walked close behind Tritt on the trail leading out from the wilderness.

“Pompeo wore thick lensed spectacles and although he never mentioned it, Carr believes Pompeo could see only poorly when wearing them and almost not at all without them,” the September story reads.

“He [Carr] thinks often of Pompeo hitting the ground in his parachute [that December], his spectacles lost in the jerk of the chute’s opening, blindly stumbling through the bitter cold, trackless wilderness, not fortunate enough in the time of his greatest peril to chance upon an Indian or a trapper.”

This is pure speculation since no one knows what happened to Pompeo after he jumped from the B-24. There has been no trace of his remains.

December crash

Much of the written record on the December 1943 crash focused on the sole survivor, Lt. Crane. Russ Vander Lugt wrote a story on the ill-fated mission that was published in the News-Miner, a daily newspaper in Fairbanks, on Nov. 8, 2010.

“While climbing through 23,000 feet, the crew suddenly found themselves flying in the clouds,” Lugt wrote. “According to Maj. Richard Reigle, officer in charge of the post-crash investigation, the crew experienced failure of the pilot-static instruments followed by mechanical failure in the number one engine.

“An unusual altitude, spin and high rate of descent followed,” the story goes on to explain. “In an attempt to correct the spiraling plane, the pilots broke both elevator actuator tubes, which exacerbated their dire situations. Pilot-in-command, 2nd Lt. Harold Hoskin, ordered the crew to bail out. Only two crew members managed to secure parachutes and get one in time: co-pilot Crane and crew chief Master Sgt. Richard Pompeo.

The National Park Service published a different version of the crash at

“At 25,000 feet, one of the plane’s four engines malfunctioned and the aircraft suddenly began to spiral out of control. Although Crane and pilot Lt. Harold Hoskins struggled with the controls, they could not right the aircraft. Buffeted by high winds and crushing centrifugal force, they sounded the alarm to abandon ship. In the chaos, Lt. Crane managed to don a parachute before leaping through the open bomb bay doors. He later recalled ... the huge blob of red flame when his plane struck the mountainside.”

In his write-up, Lugt mentioned the crash site and the obstacles recovery teams faced.

“The B-24 crashed near the headwaters of the Charley River, a tributary of the Yukon,” the story reads. “No radio contact or distress calls were successfully accomplished during the uncontrolled descent. After aerial search and rescue efforts covered nearly 40,000 square miles over the course of six days with no positive results, all aboard were presumed dead.”

Lugt wrote that, upon impact, the plane burst into flames. “Crane had no time to assist his comrades or retrieve emergency gear. Crane was unable to link up with Pompeo. The last glimpse of the crew chief was an open chute floating over a mountain ridge about a mile away. His body was never found.”

To survive, Crane had to tolerate hip deep snow and temperatures down to minus 60 degrees in an unforgiving wilderness where there was only three hours of sunlight a day.

In October 1944, Crane led a recovery team to retrieve the remains of his crewmen. While they were able to find Lt. James Sibert and Sgt. Ralph Wenz, there was no trace of either Pompeo or Hoskins.

The Park Service article mentions how a team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command traveled to the wreckage site in 2006 where they found bone fragments later confirmed to be those of Hoskin. His remains were returned to his family for burial with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Sentinel, in its research, used the library and archives at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center. While the name “Richard Pompeo” did not appear on the computer database, there was a record of him on a roster of dead and missing from World War II.

Pompeo had a seven-digit serial number – a format that indicates that he was a regular Army soldier who entered the service prior to World War II when the serial number picked up an additional number to account for the millions of men drafted into the Army to fight Germany, Italy and Japan.

Story and photo gallery ➤

American Airlines cancels Saturday morning flights at Burlington International Airport (KBTV)

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Many people are traveling by air for the holidays. And now there are delays at the Burlington International Airport.

Things were going smoothly for most of the day Friday. But officials at the airport now tell us American Airlines has canceled all incoming and outgoing flights at BTV scheduled for Saturday morning. The airport tells us it's due to visibility, not runway conditions. Impacted customers were informed earlier today.

Because of the holidays, lines at ticket counters and security are longer, so pack your patience.

"There's going to be extraordinary lines and so getting here early in really important. So other than that, I would just say come here and enjoy this amazing airport and enjoy your travel," Richards said.

There are a few delays in flights coming in from other Northeast areas as well. Customers are advised to check their flight's status online before leaving for the airport.

Story and video ➤

Archer Daniels Midland ‘very disappointed’ in Cape Air pick for Decatur Airport (KDEC)

DECATUR — The federal decision to choose Cape Air for Decatur's next commercial airline over the recommendation of local elected officials and business leaders came down to money.

The U.S. Department of Transportation chooses Decatur’s airline because its air service is subsidized through the Essential Air Service program. Major local employers, especially Archer Daniels Midland Co., persuaded the Decatur Park District to advocate for SkyWest Airlines and its proposal of jet service to Chicago.

But the community support was not enough. SkyWest would have cost $700,000 more in federal subsidies than Cape Air, a bridge too far for the federal department, which announced its decision Thursday.

"We are very disappointed in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s decision," ADM spokesman Colin McBean said in a statement. "Passenger jet service would have been a catalyst for local Decatur businesses, helping drive economic growth and job creation in the region."

The department also rejected a bid from Air Choice One, which offered flights from Decatur since 2009.

Cape Air will fly passengers to St. Louis Lambert International Airport and O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on a twin-engine Cessna that seats nine. The airline sought $5.9 million in subsidies over the next two years.

The choice means that Decatur lost out on incentives that ADM promised if SkyWest was approved. The company said it would provide 5,000 passengers a year and up to $100,000 for airport renovations.

The agribusiness giant said many of its workers travel between Decatur and its corporate headquarters in Chicago. Company policy did not allow them to fly on Air Choice One because of its single-engine planes, ADM said in a letter to the department.

The contract with Cape Air runs from Feb. 1 to Jan. 31, 2020. Park district Executive Director Bill Clevenger said it was still unclear when the transition would take place.

What’s next for Decatur passengers with Cape Air?

"We knew it was up to DOT the whole time," Clevenger said. "I think there were positives to having jet service, and right now, DOT has issued their choice, so we'll look forward to working with Cape Air."

District changes course

Representatives of Cape Air, SkyWest and Air Choice One first shared their Essential Air Service proposals with the park board on Oct. 31. On Nov. 3, the board voted 3-2 to recommend the Massachusetts-based Cape Air to the Department of Transportation. Commissioners Chris Riley and Jack Kenny voted for SkyWest, citing the economic opportunities created by jet service.

Pointing to Cape Air’s experience in similar-sized cities, Board President Bob Brilley II and Commissioners Stacey Young and Chris Harrison said the airline would be a better fit.

Business leaders swiftly asked the board to reconsider. Just two weeks later, representatives from ADM, Decatur Memorial Hospital and T/CCI appealed to the commissioners to change their recommendation to SkyWest, saying jet service was more convenient for their employees and associates. ADM representatives also promised passengers and money as incentives.

During that meeting on Nov. 15, Brilley asked the business leaders why they didn’t reach out to the board before the initial vote. Some said scheduling prevented them from doing so, while others were not aware that the vote had already happened.

Harrison changed his vote, making the final tally 3-2 in favor of the Utah-based SkyWest. Despite the sudden change in course, Brilley told the Herald & Review that he would support the decision and submit the paperwork to the Department of Transportation that afternoon.

The board voted Dec. 6 to accept ADM’s money for airport improvements, stipulating that the contract depended on SkyWest becoming the next air service provider.

Clevenger confirmed Thursday that the district will not receive the money.
Finances outweigh support

Park district leaders provided two letters to the Department of Transportation. The first, sent Nov. 3, advocated for the choice of Cape Air, followed by one dated Nov. 15 that indicated the board changed its mind and supported SkyWest.

The department received a handful of other letters also in support of SkyWest, including a page and a half from ADM, according to public records. No one favored Air Choice One, and the department eliminated it from consideration.

Community support is important, the department said, but it is not the only factor considered.

SkyWest’s proposal called for $6.6 million in federal subsidies. It had also asked the department for a contract provision that would allow it to end the Decatur service with 120 days’ notice.

"Since the department cannot reasonably justify such an increase in annual subsidy and Cape Air's service will sufficiently meet Decatur's EAS (needs), the department will select Cape Air," the department said.

Further, it noted that Cape Air would provide service to O’Hare and use a twin-engine aircraft, both provisions that ADM had said were crucial.

Cape Air spokeswoman Trish Lorino said in a statement that the airline “trusts the process undertaken by the DOT, and looks forward to serving the Decatur community with the same level of service and commitment we have shown in all the EAS communities where we have been the selected carrier.”

Cape Air also provides Essential Air Service to communities in Montana, Missouri, Kentucky, Vermont and elsewhere in Illinois.

Passengers waiting in Decatur Airport on Thursday afternoon were not aware of the airline change, but said they enjoyed the convenience of being able to fly to O’Hare.

“It’s just easier than driving,” said Gaurav Aggarwal, who was in town for a job interview and flying back to Chicago the same day. “I just didn’t want to drive back and forth (to Chicago).”

Having recently moved to Decatur, Ben Lastoria was also using the airport for the first time and appreciated the convenience.

When told that Cape Air would also offer flights to St. Louis, Lastoria said he was glad because there are sometimes cheaper connecting flights from Lambert.

But before he committed to flying from Decatur again, Lastoria said he wanted to see how his first flight went. The plane was the smallest he’d ever been on.

Mixed reaction

In a statement, SkyWest spokeswoman McKall Morris said the airline was disappointed that it was not chosen to provide air service at Decatur Airport. However, she said SkyWest is “grateful for the opportunity we had to bid on service and for the positive community support we received.”

Kenny and Riley, who supported SkyWest’s bid throughout the Essential Air Service recommendation process, also said they were unhappy with the department’s decision. Harrison and Young did not respond to requests for comment from the Herald & Review on Thursday.

“I was surprised by it, but that’s the way it is,” Kenny said. “I guess they see it differently than the way we do locally, and they’re the final word.”

Riley is the director of state government relations at ADM, and previously said that he felt no conflict in voting for the same air service provider that was preferred by his employer. Bringing jet service to Decatur was a personal goal for him, as he hoped it would strengthen Decatur’s economy.

“The park board is always interested in the park district succeeding,” Riley said. “I truly hope that Cape Air succeeds.”

Brilley said he was pleased by the department’s decision. He said he was impressed by Cape Air’s willingness to create a local presence by opening a ticket booth in Decatur, as well as its approach to bringing more passengers to fly out of the airport.

If the airport reaches 10,000 enplanements, or flights that originate from Decatur, within a year, the park district will receive more federal money for infrastructure.

“I think we’ll move a lot forward than what people think,” Brilley said. “We’ll move on, work with Cape Air and make it work.”

McBean, the ADM spokesman, said the company now is looking into its next steps. 

"We are reviewing the decision," he said, "and evaluating options for reconsideration or appeal."

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Passenger traffic soars at Daytona Beach International Airport (KDAB)

DAYTONA BEACH — As the local economy continues to sizzle, and tourists pour into the area in record numbers, Daytona Beach International Airport could be winging its way toward its strongest passenger traffic count since 1997.

The airport needs 43,192 passengers this month to top its total for last year: 707,657, which was a 19-year-high.

“I anticipate we will still exceed that (2016 total) number for the year,” said Jay Cassens, the airport’s director of business development.

For the year to date, the airport has now seen 664,466 airline travelers pass through its gates, up 3 percent from 651,308, the number through the first 11 months of 2016.

Surprisingly, with these increased passenger totals, the airport may have already set yet another milestone: the most flights canceled in a single year.

On Sunday and Monday, the Volusia County-run airport saw the cancellation of four flights by Delta Air Lines because of a power outage and fire at the airline’s hub airport in Atlanta. More than 1,400 flights were canceled nationwide.

Delta quickly restored its daily flight schedule to normal by Monday afternoon, but the latest batch of cancellations boosted the total number of flights scrapped by all carriers at Daytona Beach airport this year to 108, which could be an all-time record, Cassens said.

This year, the airport saw 37 flights canceled in February, March and April because of adverse weather in the Northeast and Georgia, as well as 67 in September because of Hurricane Irma. Those cancellations resulted in 16,200 lost seats, with many of those displaced travelers booking flights out of either the much larger Orlando or Jacksonville airports, Cassens said.

Airport Director Rick Karl said he was encouraged by the strong passenger numbers last month.

“November continued the positive trend for passenger traffic numbers in 2017,” he said in a news release. Passenger traffic last month was 56,512, an increase of 3.3 percent over the same month last year.

The rise in passenger traffic at the Daytona airport mirrors the increase in overall visitors that Volusia County has been seeing in recent years. Last year, the estimated number of visitors to the county rose to a record 9.8 million.

Most of the county’s visitors travel here via motor vehicle, but Lori Campbell Baker, executive director of the Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the increasing passenger traffic numbers at the airport are a good sign for the local tourism industry.

“The airport staff does a fantastic job with nurturing airline relationships and new flights for us all, and they work very well with CVB staff to drive demand for the destination,” Baker said. “We’re very excited about the increase.”

But while a 3 percent overall increase in passenger traffic for the airport is encouraging, Orlando International Airport has seen a 5.9 percent increase so far this year, while nearby Orlando Sanford International Airport in Seminole County is reporting a 7 percent increase year to date.

Comparing Daytona’s airport with the airports in Sanford and Orlando is like comparing apples to oranges, according to Cassens.

“Daytona and the Orlando area (which includes Sanford) are two different markets,” he said.

“Atlanta is a major hub for us and when we have all these issues in Atlanta like the fire and weather, it puts a huge strain on our operation,” Cassens said of Daytona airport, which is significantly smaller than the airports in Sanford, which reported 2.75 million passengers last year, and Orlando International Airport, which counted nearly 42 million passengers in 2016.

“Sixty-four percent of all of our passengers that utilize the airport (at Daytona) flow through Atlanta, so when we have these events, it impacts our numbers significantly,” Cassens said, referring to Delta, which offers the most daily flights here, followed by American and JetBlue.

At Daytona’s airport, Delta offers daily flights to and from Atlanta, while American offers daily flights to and from Charlotte, North Carolina. Passengers looking to travel to destinations beyond those cities can then transfer to a connecting flight at those hub airports.

JetBlue currently offers one incoming and one outgoing nonstop flight a day to and from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

“Just about every domestic airline serves Orlando with numerous no-stop destinations,” Cassens said. “If an airline decides to add a new city to Orlando or they add frequency between a city already served, this increases capacity. Or if they add a new international carrier, this also will increase capacity. Orlando is a large focus city of many low-cost carriers. There are just a lot more options and opportunities to increase capacity when there are so may airlines. Travel in general for Orlando has increased significantly with the added population, business and the growth in Disney and Universal attractions.”

The airport at Sanford “benefits from that growth as well, but more on the tourism side,” Cassens added. “Also, Sanford has primarily Allegiant service and that has grown quite a bit in the last few years and Sanford/Orlando is a huge focus city for them. If Allegiant adds a new city, it’s usually to Orlando/Sanford. Allegiant has been extremely aggressive in their growth over the last few years, probably more so than any other domestic airline.”

Cassens said he is hopeful that passenger traffic at Daytona Beach International Airport will continue to climb in 2018.

“We are getting an extra (incoming and outgoing daily) flight for Delta in March,” Cassens said.

Another factor that could boost more passenger traffic at the airport is the new developments in the Daytona Beach area, including the oceanfront Hard Rock Hotel set to open in February, the One Daytona retail/dining/entertainment complex and the Jimmy Buffett-themed Latitude Margaritaville 55-and-older community.

“Those are all great for driving additional demand,” Cassens said. “We just need airlines to keep adding capacity as demand hopefully continues to increase.”

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Pierre Regional Airport (KPIR) reaches milestone to qualify for $1 million in federal funds

PIERRE, S.D. (DRG News) – The Pierre Regional Airport, serviced by ADI, Great Lakes Jet Express, recently reached a milestone with its 10,000th passenger.

Pierre Airport manager Mike Isaacs says ADI’s service at Pierre has been excellent.

Isaacs says ADI’s prices are very reasonable.

The milestone reached means Watertown joins Pierre on a list of cities to receive $1 million in federal funds for airport improvement projects.

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Laser pointed at aircraft, launches federal investigation in Juneau, Alaska

JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - Airport authorities launch a federal investigation, after a high power laser was pointed into the cockpit of an aircraft approaching the Juneau International Airport earlier this week.

According to Title 18 of the United States Code, aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a federal offense. In an information release, the City and Borough of Juneau calls the act a "major safety violation."

Juneau International Airport's manager, Patty Wahto, wants the public to understand the danger in this.

"Never point a laser at an aircraft," Wahto said. "You can blind a pilot and endanger everyone's life in the aircraft."

She added that the laser was shined by a person, and not a laser Christmas lights show.

If a person is found guilty doing this, the law states they could face fines or imprisonment. As far as the investigation goes, at least the Federal Aviation Administration is involved.

Original article can be found here ➤

Former Knoxville McGhee Tyson Wing Commander Tim Dearing Looks Back on a Long Military Career with Pride

Retired USAF Colonel and former Wing Commander Tim Dearing lives in a comfortable home not far from Tellico Lake, with his wife Lisa, their daughter Harley, and three shy cats.

The house is filled with family photographs and keepsakes, sunlight, and the color of Big Orange. There is a Christmas tree dedicated to the University of Tennessee Volunteers. “It stays up year-round.” All the mementos of Tim’s long military career are downstairs, among them his Shadowbox, presented to him upon retirement. It’s about four feet tall and wide and it displays an impressive number of patches and medals. “I really have spent my whole life in the service. When I was growing up, there was a Naval air station in Hutchinson, training Navy pilots, but they transitioned that into an Air National Guard unit. I would go out to the base with my dad and go up into the control tower with the guys and watch them control airplanes.” Tim grins. “I’m not going to say I talked on the radio, telling them they were clear to land… but that probably happened more than once.”

“I Just Love Airplanes.”

Tim was born November 25, 1953 in Hutchinson, Kansas, to Tom and Shirley Dearing. Tom served in the Navy and then the Air National Guard. Tim entered the service himself in 1973, while attending Hutchinson Community College. With 60 credit hours, he was allowed to take the AFOQT (Air Force Officer Qualification Test), the pilot training test, and the navigator test. Tim qualified when he was 19 years old and was flying a jet a year later. “I was so wet behind the ears, I was dripping,” he says. When he began testing at Craig AFB near Selma, Alabama, Tim and his fellow recruits faced possible service in Vietnam, but the war was ending as they graduated in 1975. Tim went back to Kansas and started flying B-57s with a bomb group based at Forbes Field:

“Those airplanes had just returned from Vietnam and the team was switching from the bombardment part of it to electronic warfare. The airplane was full of electronic gear and the mission was to go out and find holes in the radar systems coming into the United States. So we go out, fly over the ocean, and try to sneak back into the country while the fighters come and intercept us. If we made it through, there was something not-quite-right there, and they would adjust the coverage.”

Under the Strategic Air Command (SAC), Tim transitioned to the 117th Air Refueling Squad and then flew different versions of the KC-135 Stratotanker, air-refueling aircraft for most of the rest of his career. Refueling missions for NATO took Tim out of the country for the first time in 1980: to Royal Air Force Mildenhall, in Suffolk, England; Morón Air Base in Spain; Osan Air Base in South Korea; and Cairo West Air Base in Egypt. In 1983, Tim was moving back and forth between the Air Force and the Air National Guard and spent time at the Pentagon, devising “what if” scenarios and building operational plans:

“A good example: The First Gulf War. That scenario had been looked at really hard because you had Iran and Iraq fighting all the time. And so, if that fighting spreads out of there, what are we going to do to contain it?”

Air Base in the Sky

Tim was a Major in 1990 when he was deployed to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and immediately assigned to help plan the air refueling missions for fighters flying into and out of Iraq. The protocol for refueling: The jet flies underneath the fuel tanker, 22 to 25 feet below, as a telescopic boom is lowered into the fighter’s fuel tank. The logistics of this task are daunting, to say the least:

“Some of them refuel in the 20’s [20,000 feet in altitude], some of them can’t get that high and we’ll refuel in the teens. You agree with the other pilot to meet at this certain point in the sky at a certain time. I helped coordinate that. All these planes had to be separated by miles and altitude and it had to be choreographed to the second.” Tim points to his Bronze Star. “The reason I got this is that during the war, we did not lose one sortie.

The Gulf War was personally challenging for Tim. He says in all his time flying in the military, he never really worried that he would be shot down and that anytime something went wrong on a flight. his training kicked in and he always landed safely. But it’s obvious that Tim’s time at war weighs heavily on him. “I don’t think anyone really understands that, going to war. Knowing some of the things you’re doing, and for me, the challenge, knowing where all those airplanes are going and knowing which missions are the most dangerous missions, and putting a name… I still think about it. Those are your best friends, I always worried about signing their death warrant.”

For several years after the war, Tim, then a Colonel, moved around a bit: to Hickam AFB in Hawaii and Elmendorf AFB in Alaska, as Tanker Task Force Commander (a highlight of that posting was flying F15s in Alaska); back to Forbes AFB as Maintenance Commander, then Operations Group Commander; and then to Tinker AFB in Oklahoma, under the Pacer CRAG project. Under Pacer CRAG, the Stratotanker was being refurbished and upgraded, specifically with a glass cockpit. Tim helped write the requirements and specifications for potential contractors and he test-piloted the airplanes as the upgrades were made.

The Best Thing

In 2000, Tim had one year left before he could retire and he had three choices for the next phase of his career: going back to the Pentagon in planning; working for the Defense Logistics Agency; or coming to Knoxville McGhee Tyson’s Air National Guard Unit as an Air Force Advisor. “I actually started my career in Knoxville. In January 1974, that’s where officer training was held. For eight weeks I was here, and became a Second Lieutenant. I loved the Knoxville area back then and my wife had been here; we had a lot of friends here from the military, people I’d met in the Gulf War, so we made the decision: ‘Let’s go there.’” The year went by and Tim’s work with the Pacer CRAG project continued here in Knoxville with the 134th Air Refueling Wing. He was prepared to retire, but the Wing Commander asked him to stick around another year to prep for an inspection. That year went by and then a new Wing Commander asked him to stay on to assist with the transition. In 2004, Tim gave up on retirement when he was asked to become Wing Commander. “I think it was the best thing I ever did in my career.”

It should be noted that Tim really likes to fish. In 2009, he was contacted by the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW). The FLW brought their National Guard team to the base at McGhee Tyson and Tim took them on a refueling flight. “After that, I decided to be a co-angler, competing against all the other guys who were in the back of the boat. They put me on the National Guard team to do that, and I got to travel all over for two years prior to leaving the military.”

In 2011, Tim was offered a promotion to General, which would involve a move to Washington, DC. He talked to his wife Lisa about it, and she said, “Would you consider retiring? I know you want to fish. You know, you’re not that young anymore.” He laughs. “She talked sense into me. One of the hardest things I had to do was call the General up there and say, ‘We’re not coming.’ In the military, that’s unheard of, to turn down a promotion.” He finally retired with 37 years and 9 months of service and is nothing but thankful for that career. “To get to fly and do all the things that I did, I got to serve in Tactical Air Command, Air Defense Command, Strategic Air Command, Air Mobility Command, Air Force Material Command, I got to see how those all fit together and operated.

The Fisherman

After retirement, Tim found success as a professional angler and lived the fisherman’s dream until early 2016, when he hurt his back: a rough boat ride on Lake Champlin started the process, “but what really aggravated it, and this is ridiculous: I was buying 50-pound bags of potting soil and was loading my truck and twisting and I ended up damaging some discs.” The injury put an end to Tim’s professional fishing career, but led to an opportunity to work for Lowrance, a company making and selling fish and depth finders. “Because of my background in flying and avionics, working these fish finders is just second nature to me.”

Fishing aside, Tim’s love for airplanes endures and he remains a pilot. “I got into remote-controlled airplanes. There’s an airfield over at the Maryville landfill. I love flying World War Two airplanes and they’re good-sized airplanes. So, we meet over there, fly until about noon, go have lunch, and then after that, I’ll go pick up my daughter from school. Tough life.” Tim seems truly pleased with and grateful for that life. He says his mentors in the military taught him to treat his people well, to see every opportunity as a chance for growth, and “to not self-eliminate.” Tim has four children, three from his first marriage. His son Tom serves with the USAF at Knoxville McGhee Tyson. His youngest daughter, Harley, wants to be an astronaut and engineer; she’ll soon be back at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, for the third time. Tim challenged her to build a remote-controlled airplane and “to make it better than it was out of the box. And she did. I mean, it impressed me. She even redid the wiring, figured out a better way to wire the receiver to make it work better. I was like, WOW. I hope she pursues that. I have always tried to instill in her: Never self-eliminate. See the vision. Always strive to get there.”

Original article can be found here ➤