Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Las Vegas police drones will monitor New Year’s Eve crowds

Las Vegas police will use drones to watch over New Year’s Eve celebrations on the Strip, technology the department was not able to use the night of the Oct. 1 mass shooting.

Officer David Martel said the department will use two drones — a Yuneec H520 and a Yuneec Typhoon 4 — to monitor crowds, identify suspicious packages and track any unusual activity on Strip properties.

Martel said the unmanned aerial vehicles also will check hotel windows for anyone who might try to copy the events of Oct. 1, when a gunman shattered the windows of his 32nd-floor suite at Mandalay Bay and sprayed bullets on 22,000 concertgoers at a nearby outdoor music festival. The gunman killed 58 people and injured more than 500 others before killing himself.

“The biggest thing is to provide support to our officers and to provide a better aerial view,” Martel said Wednesday. “It’s hard to get the helicopter along the Strip. Drones are a lot smaller, and you’re able to get into tighter areas.”

Those tighter areas might be especially helpful to get a closer look at unaccompanied packages, for example, he said.

Having the drones monitor crowds from an aerial view also will help police better position barricades and other pedestrian control devices, he said.

Metro drone use

Metro purchased five drones from Yuneec earlier this year for $15,000. Martel estimated the drones arrived Sept. 27, just days before the mass shooting. They were still in unopened boxes in a hangar at the North Las Vegas airport when the shooting occurred.

He headed to the hangar as quickly as he could when he got word of the shooting Oct. 1, hoping to use the drones to support first responders.

But the drones arrived to the department fresh from the manufacturer. The batteries weren’t charged. Martel said it would have taken an hour to get them fully charged, and the gunfire lasted for about 10 minutes.

Had Martel been able to take a fully charged drone with him the night of the shooting, he said he would have used it to locate people who needed help — at least one of the drones is equipped with thermal imaging sensors.

Others have a much broader vision for how drones could have helped police address the shooter on Oct.1 — though current policy and technology would have to evolve to support this vision. 

Active-shooter situations

The day after the shooting, Martel used one of the department’s drones to create a 3-D map the crime scene.

“You can kind of re-enact a scene, in some aspects,” he said. “It’s documenting evidence,” like the locations of shell casings.

Had Martel gotten to the scene of the crime much, much earlier, he said the drone could have been used to gather information about what was happening and where.

Metro initially estimated that it took 72 minutes from the first 911 call for law enforcement to the moment police breached the shooter’s hotel room on the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay, though the timeline is still under review.

Police began searching the hotel’s 29th floor before determining the gunman was on the 32nd floor.

“Think about how useful a drone might have been if we have situations like this (Las Vegas shooting) now for large events,” Brian Levin, director of The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino, told the Los Angeles Daily News in October. “You have a guy on the 32nd floor (of a hotel), a drone could have provided real-time intelligence and surveillance to what’s going on.”

However, knowing exactly where the gunman was might have been hard to pinpoint, Martel said, because every building has different ways of classifying levels. For instance, some resorts might mark the ground level as lobby instead of as the first floor, or the second level as mezzanine.

A broader vision

Ryan Wallace, a professor at Polk State College in Lakeland, Florida, envisions a much broader use for drones in situations like the Oct. 1 shooting.

“When you look at the (gunman Stephen) Paddock scenario, you have about 10 minutes of serious carnage. If you have a distraction created by a drone, you could have bought critical moments that could have saved lives,” Wallace told the Review-Journal.

In an October paper Wallace co-authored with Jon Loffi, a professor at Oklahoma State University, in the International Journal of Aviation, Aeronautics and Aerospace, Wallace and Loffi advocated using drones for tactical operations, and even equipping drones with nonlethal equipment, like tear gas or smoke canisters.

“It’s a very unanticipated type of response from law enforcement,” Wallace said. “When you’re dealing with any scenario, and especially one as well-planned as Paddock had clearly taken the effort to plan, an unexpected tactical response, like a drone, probably would have created a distraction.”

For those few seconds, the gunman may have redirected his fire to shoot at the drone, or if he was impacted with something like tear gas he may have taken a break from firing at all.

Surprise responses can allow “a tactically poor situation to be turned into a tactically superior situation,” Wallace said.

A while out

Nevada is one of five states that ban the use of weaponized drones — North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont and Wisconsin are the others, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Two others, Maine and Virginia, ban law enforcement from using them altogether, according to the organization.

The Nevada law prohibits a drone from being “weaponized” and makes it unlawful for a person to operate “a weaponized unmanned aerial vehicle.” Violators can be found guilty of a category D felony.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval told the Review-Journal in early December that weaponizing drones is “something that Metro should look at.”

“We should take advantage of all advances in technology to make sure that people are as safe as they possibly can be,” Sandoval said, adding that weaponizing drones is something he would like to discuss further.

Martel said equipping a drone with temporary blinding lights, tear gas or smoke canisters falls into a gray area.

Are those considered weapons or tools? The Nevada law does not define what constitutes a weapon.

North Dakota is the only state that allows police to use weaponized drones but limits the use to “less lethal” weapons such as stun guns.

There are currently no federal regulations against owning an armed drone.

Five drones

Metro purchased five drones from Yuneec for $15,000.

Officer David Martel, Metro’s small unmanned aerial system program manager, said that figure includes all of the drone equipment, such as blades, batteries and chargers.

He said it took the department three years to get everything in place to be able to have drones, including developing internal drone handling polices.

Martel estimated the drones arrived Sept. 27, just days before the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting.

The five drones are spread across three of Metro’s units: crime scene investigation, fatal and armor.

Story, video and photo gallery ➤

Doctor's book details plane crash, life as a medical student: Beechcraft C35 Bonanza, N5946C; fatal accident occurred August 16, 2015 in Hicksville, Nassau County, New York

 Dr. Carl Giordano, front, holding his book "Shoot the Moon" at a book release event at the Morris County Golf Club. 

Surviving a small plane crash against insurmountable odds brought into focus just how precious life is for Dr. Carl Giordano.

On Aug. 16, 2015, Giordano was flying home to Morristown from Bethpage, Long Island, when the small plane developed engine trouble at 6,500 feet. When the plane descended to 30 feet above the ground, Giordano began to plan his escape.

“Like in the operating room, you’re confronted with a lot of difficulties and you’ve got to complete them," Giordano said. "I had my left hand on my seatbelt and my right hand just staring at the latch on the door because I knew if it’s a bumpy landing, sometimes the doors can buckle and you can’t open the door. I’m just waiting for the moment to release them both and get out of the plane. That’s the only thing I was thinking about.”

When the plane’s wing on Giordano’s side clipped a railroad crossing boom, it tore off. Going 60 miles per hour, the door opened, either by Giordano's hand or by the action. Either way the doctor dove out of the plane. A tenth-of-a-second later, the plane struck the ground, instantly killing the pilot.

Giordano suffered a broken jaw, collarbone, finger and ribs along with a concussion and a bad gash in his leg. He was back in his office working within three months and a month after that began performing surgeries again.

“I remember it all except for probably one-tenth of a second. Throughout our training, you become very robotic and that’s the way I felt in the plane. I was just waiting and luckily that’s what I was concentrating on. Whether that’s what got me out or whether I just got ejected from the plane, I couldn’t tell you. But I think I broke my left finger on the seat belt and I think I broke my jaw on the door as I exited out of the plane. And I’ll take that.”

The crash and other behind the scenes details of life as a medical student then a doctor are detailed in “Shoot the Moon: The True Story of a Look Behind the Curtain of Medical School and Residency...and Surviving the Worst in Life,” penned by Giordano and M. Rutledge McCall and published Nov. 14, 2017.

The book is the true story of the making of a surgeon. It gives the reader a better understanding of what it’s like to go through years of medical school training, followed by years of residency, followed by more years of fellowship specialty training.

Following in the footsteps of his general surgeon father, Giordano graduated Rutgers Medical School in 1986. He completed an orthopedic residency and fellowship in Spinal Surgery in 1994 at the Hospital for Joint Diseases – Orthopedic Institute in New York City. A graduate of Morristown High School, he spent the past 20 years as a spinal surgeon and currently works at Morristown Medical Center.

“I think it will be a fun read," Giordano said of his book. "I wanted honestly to tell the story of residency. I wanted people that aren’t in medicine to learn a little bit about what orthopedic surgery and specifically spine surgery is like." Giordano lives in Morristown with his wife Abbie.

“My beef with things like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is, it’s not really realistic. They kind of make the residents and the doctors look a little goofy and residency training is anything but goofy.”

“My motive is to promote the profession. I love what I do. I don’t find a lot of people who really love what they do,” Giordano said. “I want to motivate the kids and the young people to stick with medicine. I want them to see all the good stuff about it. It’s still a great profession.”

The book intertwines the horrific accident with Giordano’s life as he becomes a doctor, detailing how the unique training laid a foundation that allowed him to one day deal calmly with the life-and-death disaster. In the end, he lets readers decide for themselves as to whether he was able to survive by his own abilities or by the hand of God. Or was it perhaps a little bit of both?

“I’ll let the reader decide how I got out. I’m not going to put a feather in my own hat in that regard,” Giordano said. “Everybody came up to me afterwards and said, you’re going to retire? I said, relax, I love what I do. I’m going back to work.”

“Shoot the Moon” is available at

Story and photos ➤

Joseph Milo, left, of Westhampton Beach was killed when the Beechcraft C35 Bonanza plane he was flying crashed on Long Island Rail Road tracks in Hicksville on August 16th, 2015.

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Farmingdale, New York
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Hicksville, NY
Accident Number: ERA15FA313
Date & Time: 08/16/2015, 0745 EDT
Registration: N5946C
Aircraft: BEECH C35
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (total)
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Non-scheduled


The commercial pilot was conducting an on-demand air taxi flight. The passenger reported that, while they were in cruise flight (about 6,500 ft mean sea level, according to radar data), he heard a loud "pop" sound and saw a flicker of light from the engine area, followed by an "oil smell." The engine then began to "sputter" and lost power. The pilot attempted to restart the engine without success. The pilot reported the problem to air traffic control (ATC); however, he did not declare an emergency.

The New York terminal radar approach control (N90) LaGuardia Airport (LGA) departure controller subsequently provided the pilot with the relative locations of several nearby airports, and the pilot determined that he was closest to Republic Airport (FRG), Farmingdale, New York, but that he did not have sufficient altitude to reach it. The LGA controller then provided vectors to Bethpage Airport, an alternate airport depicted on his radar video map (RVM), and noted that, although the airport was closed, there was a runway there. The controller provided vectors to Bethpage for a forced landing, but the pilot reported that he did not see the runway. The next several transmissions between the controller and the pilot revealed that the pilot was unable to acquire the Bethpage runway (because it no longer existed) while the controller continued to provide heading and distance to it. The controller subsequently lost radar contact with the pilot, and the airplane eventually crashed into a railroad grade crossing cantilever arm before coming to rest on railroad tracks.

The investigation revealed that the runway the controller was directing the pilot to no longer existed; industrial buildings occupied the location of the former airport and had been there for several years. However, the runway was depicted on the controller's RVM because it had not been removed following the closure of the airport. If the RVM had not shown Bethpage as an airport, the controller might have provided alternative diversion options, including nearby parkways, to the pilot, which would have prevented him from focusing on a runway that did not exist. Further investigation revealed that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did not require periodic review and validation of RVMs and had no procedures to ensure that nonoperational airports were removed from RVMs systemwide. Since this accident, the FAA has revised and corrected its internal procedures to ensure all nonoperational airports are removed from RVMs in the United States.

An examination of the engine revealed that the crankshaft failed at the No. 2 main journal. The No. 2 main bearings were heat damaged and extruded into the crank cheek. The No. 2 main bearing supports had bearing shift and fretting signatures. The No. 2 main bearing had rotated in the bearing support. Contact with the crankshaft by the main bearing initiated the fracture of the crankshaft. The engine maintenance records did not reveal evidence of a recent engine repair in this area. Torque values obtained during the engine disassembly did not reveal evidence of an undertorqued condition. The engine had operated about 1,427 hours since its last major overhaul.

Toxicological testing detected amphetamine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, losartan, 7-amino-clonazepam, and acetaminophen in the pilot's blood and/or urine. It is unlikely that the losartan and acetaminophen impaired the pilot's judgment. The direct effects of clonazepam, which is used to treat panic disorder or seizures, did not contribute to the accident; however, it could not be determined whether the pilot's underlying medical conditions contributed to the accident. The exact effects of oxycodone on the pilot at or around the time of the accident could not be determined. The level of amphetamine was significantly higher than the therapeutic range, indicating that the pilot was likely abusing the drug and that he was impaired by it at the time of the accident. The combination of the pilot's use of drugs and his medical conditions likely significantly impaired his psychomotor functioning and decision-making and led to his delay in responding appropriately to the in-flight loss of engine power and, therefore, contributed to the accident. Review of radar data revealed that 2 minutes 18 seconds had elapsed and that the airplane had lost about 2,000 ft of altitude while continuing on a westerly heading before the pilot turned the airplane toward FRG. If the pilot had turned immediately after he realized the engine had lost power, he would have had adequate altitude to glide to a suitable runway.

Probable Cause and Findings

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

The pilot's improper decision to delay turning toward a suitable runway once he realized that an engine failure had occurred, which resulted in his having inadequate altitude to glide to a suitable runway, and the New York terminal radar approach control LaGuardia Airport area controller's provision of erroneous emergency divert airport information to the pilot.

Contributing to the accident were (1) the Federal Aviation Administration's lack of a requirement to periodically review and validate radar video maps, (2) the failure of the engine crankshaft due to a bearing shift, and (3) the pilot's impairment due to his abuse of amphetamine and underlying medical condition(s).



Recip engine power section - Failure (Factor)

Personnel issues
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)
Delayed action - Pilot (Cause)
Accuracy of communication - ATC personnel (Cause)
Prescription medication - Pilot (Factor)

Environmental issues
Controls and displays - Accuracy of related info (Cause)

Organizational issues
Equipment monitoring - ATC (Factor)

Factual Information 


On August 16, 2015, at 0745 eastern daylight time, a Beech C35, N5946C, collided with a railroad grade crossing cantilever arm and terrain during a forced landing in Hicksville, New York. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and one passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postimpact fire. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135 on-demand air taxi flight. Day, visual meteorological conditions were reported near the accident site about the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Francis S. Gabreski Airport (FOK), Westhampton Beach, New York, and was destined for Morristown Municipal Airport (MMU), Morristown, New Jersey.

The pilot departed FOK about 0720 under visual flight rules, and according to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control (ATC) transcript information, checked in with the New York terminal radar approach control (N90) Islip departure controller while passing through 1,300 ft mean sea level (msl) 2 miles east of FOK. (For the purposes of this report, all altitudes are in msl, unless otherwise noted.) The pilot requested to climb to 6,500 ft to transition to the New York class B airspace en route to MMU. The Islip controller identified the flight at 1,500 ft and directed the pilot to squawk a mode 3 transponder code of 4356. The Islip controller transferred the flight to the John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Jamaica, New York, departure controller at 0730, at which time radar data depicted the airplane was traveling westbound at 140 knots ground speed at 6,500 ft.

The pilot checked in with the JFK departure controller and reiterated his request for a clearance through New York class B airspace. The JFK controller cleared the flight through the class B airspace and directed the pilot to maintain 6,500 ft. At 0738, the JFK controller transferred the flight to the LaGuardia Airport (LGA), Flushing, New York, departure controller.

The pilot checked in with the LGA controller at 6,500 ft and was issued the LGA altimeter setting. About 10 seconds later, at 0738:43, as the airplane was on an easterly heading, it began a slight ascent to 6,600 ft while its groundspeed started to suddenly decrease. The pilot did not report any difficulty to the LGA controller, and the controller did not ask the pilot about the change in the flight profile. About 0740, the LGA controller directed the pilot to turn right heading 360°. The airplane was traveling at 60 knots ground speed at 5,700 ft at the time. One second later, the pilot responded that he was "having a little bit of a problem" and was considering diverting to Republic Airport (FRG), Farmingdale, New York. The LGA controller acknowledged and asked the pilot to keep him informed of the situation and to let him know if he any needed assistance.

At 0740:31, the pilot advised that he was going to "have to take it down at…the closest spot." The LGA controller provided the pilot with the relative locations of LGA, JFK, FRG, and Westchester County Airport, White Plains, New York, and told the pilot that he could go anywhere he wanted to go. At 0740:55, the pilot responded that FRG was the closest airport but that he was not going to make it there. At 0741:16, the LGA controller asked the pilot to verify that he was going to FRG. The pilot responded, "yeah," and then asked the controller to verify that FRG was the closest airport. At this time, the pilot had started a left turn to the southeast, and the airplane was descending out of 4,400 ft at 70 knots groundspeed. At 0741:26, the LGA controller advised that there was also a landing strip at Bethpage, New York, at the pilot's 10-o'clock position at 5 miles and that the pilot might want to try that airport. The controller advised the pilot that he was about lined up for the runway's extended centerline. The pilot acknowledged, but part of the acknowledgement was unintelligible. At 0742:36, the pilot asked the controller to provide information on the location of the landing strip. The controller advised that the landing strip was at the pilot's 12-o'clock position at 4 miles and that the pilot was set up on the runway's extended centerline. At 0742:50, the LGA controller advised the pilot that FRG was 3 miles southeast of Bethpage in the event that the pilot wanted to go to FRG. The pilot responded that the airplane was losing altitude and that he was doing the best he could to maintain it.

At 0743:36, the pilot again asked for the location of the Bethpage airport and said he was not seeing it. The controller responded that there was a landing strip at Bethpage at the pilot's 12-o'clock position at 3 miles and that FRG was at the pilot's 10-o'clock position at 6 miles. The pilot responded that he was not going to make the 6 miles to FRG. At 0744:01, the LGA controller advised the pilot that Bethpage was a closed airport but that there was a runway there at the pilot's 11-o'clock position at 1.5 miles. At 0744:35, the pilot told the controller "you gotta give me a little better heading on that if you would." The controller advised that the runway was about 10° to the right and added that there was also a parkway nearby. The pilot then asked the controller, "and FRG I got 3 miles right?" The controller responded that FRG was at the pilot's 11-o'clock position at 5 miles. The pilot stated that there was no way he was going to make it to FRG and asked the controller to "show me this strip again if you would I'm sorry." The controller responded that the Bethpage runway was at the pilot's 1-o'clock position at less than 1 mile, that it was a closed airport, and that he had no additional information about the airport. There were no further communications with the pilot.

The passenger reported that they were in cruise flight when he heard a loud "pop" sound and saw a flicker of light from the engine area, followed by an "oil smell." The engine then began to "sputter" and lost power. The pilot attempted to restart the engine without success.


The pilot, age 59, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single engine, multiengine, and instrument airplane ratings. The pilot was issued a second-class FAA airman medical certificate on December 22, 2014, with the limitation that he must wear glasses for near vision. At that time, he reported 3,300 total flight hours.
Records provided by the FAA revealed that the pilot completed a 14 CFR Part 135.299 line check on June 18, 2015. He was listed as a single-pilot operator under the name Milo Air, Inc., conducting on-demand air taxi flights. The accident airplane was the only airplane used by Milo Air.

The pilot's family provided copies of two pilot logbooks; however, the latest logbook entries were dated May 13, 2008. No recent pilot logbooks were located.


The four-seat, low wing, retractable-gear airplane, was manufactured in 1952. It was powered by a 260-horsepower Continental Motors IO-470-N engine, driving a three-bladed Hartzell model constant-speed propeller. The airplane was modified with two Beryl D'Shannon fiberglass 15-gallon auxiliary wing tip tanks in accordance with a supplemental type certificate.

According to copies of maintenance logbook pages provided by the pilot's family, the most recent annual inspection of the airframe and engine was completed on June 7, 2015. At that time, the airframe total time was 6,979 hours. The airplane's original engine, a Continental E-185-11, was removed and replaced with the Continental IO-470-N engine on December 15, 1998. The total time on the engine at the last inspection was about 2,913 hours, including 1,427 hours since the last major overhaul.

The engine was removed and disassembled on two occasions, on February 23, 2006, and on October 24, 2007, to facilitate inspections following propeller strikes. Engine maintenance records revealed no evidence of a recent disassembly of the engine or removal or replacement of cylinders.


FRG, located about 4 nm east-southeast of the accident site, was the closest official weather station. The FRG weather at 0753 included calm wind, visibility 10 statute miles, few clouds at 9,000 ft, temperature 25° C, dew point 19° C, and altimeter setting 30.12 inches of Mercury.

Velocity azimuth display wind profile data for JFK showed that at 4,000 and 3,000 ft above ground level (agl), the wind was from the northwest at 20 knots. At 2,000 ft agl, the wind was from the northwest at 15 knots, and at 1,000 ft agl, the wind was from the northwest at 10 knots. Data at 5,000 and 6,000 ft agl were not available.


After the pilot determined that he wanted to land at FRG, the LGA departure controller advised that there was also a landing strip at Bethpage Airport, an alternate airport depicted on his radar video map (RVM) 3 miles northwest of FRG and closer to the airplane, and he subsequently provided distance and heading information to the airport. Although Bethpage was still shown on the RVM, the airport no longer existed; it had been closed for several years, and the former airport area was occupied by buildings. The accident site was about 0.25 nm northwest of the former location of the runway 15 approach end. (See the section in this report titled, "RVMs," for more information about the RVMs used by the controllers in the LGA, JFK, and Islip areas.)

Bethpage Airport was removed from FAA sectional charts in October 2012. Bethpage Airport data were removed from the N90 airport display automation database before 2001, but the exact date was unknown. There were no known or reported equipment discrepancies related to N90 RVMs. The Air Traffic Control Group Chairman's Factual Report, located in the public docket for this investigation, includes photographs of Bethpage Airport as early as the 1940s.


The airplane initially impacted a railroad grade crossing cantilever arm. The main wreckage came to rest inverted on the tracks of the Long Island Rail Road. The wreckage debris field was about 100 ft long and about 20 ft wide, oriented on a heading of 150°. All of the airplane's major structural components were found within the confines of the debris field. The outboard section of the right wing was found under the grade crossing cantilever arm, which separated from its mount structure during the initial impact.

The cockpit instrument panel was destroyed by impact forces and a postimpact fire. Some of the flight and performance instruments were separated. No useful information was obtained from the instruments. The forward, center, and aft sections of the fuselage exhibited postimpact fire signatures. The nose landing gear was found in the retracted position. The fuel selector handle and valve were damaged from postaccident fire, and a preaccident position could not be determined.

The left wing remained attached to the fuselage. A 6-ft-long section of the leading edge was separated outboard of the fuel tank. The left aileron and the left wing flap remained attached to the wing. The left aileron exhibited impact damage at its midspan area. The left flap was found in the retracted position and was crushed in the forward direction. The inboard section of the left wing was damaged by postimpact fire. The left main landing gear was found in the retracted position. The left wing fuel tank was breached and damaged by postimpact fire, and its fuel cap was installed and secure. During recovery, fuel was noted in the tank; however, the quantity was not determined. Control cable continuity was established to the aileron. The 15-gallon, tip-mounted fuel tank was breached from impact forces, and its fuel cap was installed and secure.

The right wing separated during the initial collision with the grade crossing cantilever arm at a point about 3.5 ft outboard of the wing root. The inboard half of the right wing was damaged by postimpact fire. The right aileron and the outboard half of the right wing flap remained attached to the wing. The separated section of the right wing exhibited no fire damage. The right main landing gear was found in the retracted position. The right wing fuel tank was breached and damaged by postimpact fire, and its fuel cap was installed and secure. No fuel was noted in the area of the right wing tank. Control cable continuity was established to the aileron. The 15-gallon, tip-mounted fuel tank was in place, and its fuel cap was installed and secure.

The left ruddervator remained attached to the aft fuselage. The balance weight and trim tab were in place. The elevator trim actuator measured 1.1 inches, which corresponded to a 5° tab-up trim position. The right ruddervator exhibited impact damage. About 1 ft of the outboard section was separated. Control cable continuity was established from the ruddervator to the cables in the aft fuselage that were cut by recovery personnel.

The propeller assembly separated from the engine during the accident sequence and was located adjacent to the main wreckage. The propeller blades remained attached to the hub and exhibited no rotational damage signatures.

The engine was sent to the manufacturer's facility for examination. A large hole was observed in the bottom of the oil sump. The oil pickup tube was impact damaged. The oil pump gears were intact and coated with oil. The oil filter was opened, and metal particulates were observed in the filter element. All six cylinders were intact with rust in the barrel, and the valves and guides were in place and undamaged. The rocker arms and shafts were undamaged. The pistons were intact and undamaged and had normal combustion deposits, and all of the rings were in place and moved freely.

The crankcase halves were intact with some internal impact damage noted. The right case half had cracks in the forward bearing saddle. The No. 1 bearing was in place, and exhibited heat distress, but it was coated with oil. The No. 2 bearing was dry, exhibited heat distress, and was partially melted and extruded into the crank cheek. The No. 2 main bearing supports exhibited bearing shift and fretting signatures. The No. 2 main bearing had rotated in the bearing support. The No. 3 bearing was in place and exhibited some heat distress, but it was coated with oil. The No. 4 bearing was in place and exhibited heat distress and was impact damaged. The crankshaft was separated at the No. 2 main journal and the crank cheek. The forward area of the crankshaft was impact damaged near the thrust flange. The transfer collar was impact damaged and partly separated from the crankshaft. The connecting rods were not damaged. The rod cap bearings were dry and heat distressed. The camshaft was intact and had impact damage. Torque values obtained during the engine disassembly did not reveal evidence of an undertorqued condition.


The Office of the Medical Examiner, Nassau County, New York, conducted an autopsy on the pilot, and the cause of death was determined to be "blunt and thermal injuries," and the manner of death was "accident." No significant natural disease was identified.

Toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot was performed by the FAA's Bioaeronautical Research Sciences Laboratory. Testing identified amphetamine (1.26 ug/ml), oxycodone (0.236 ug/ml), and losartan in the heart blood. In addition, 7-amino-clonazepam, acetaminophen, amphetamine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, and losartan were identified in the urine.

Amphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant prescribed as a Schedule II controlled substance for the treatment of narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Common trade names for amphetamine include Adderall and Dexedrine. Prescribers and users are cautioned about the high potential for abuse of this drug. The therapeutic range of blood levels is considered between 0.002 and 0.10 ug/ml; levels significantly higher than this suggest abuse. Oxycodone is an opioid analgesic prescribed as a Schedule II controlled substance. It is commonly available in combination with acetaminophen with the names Percocet and Roxicet. Losartan is a blood pressure lowering medication. 7-amino-clonazepam is a metabolite of clonazepam, a sedating benzodiazepine prescription medication used to treat panic disorder and petit mal seizures. It is commonly marketed with the name Klonopin. Acetaminophen is an analgesic and fever reducer available over the counter and is commonly marketed with the names Tylenol and Panadol. Oxymorphone is an active metabolite of oxycodone and is also available as an opioid analgesic with the name Opana.

Oxycodone, oxymorphone, and clonazepam all carry Federal Drug Administration warnings about their psychoactive effects and cautions against operating machinery.

Information on the pilot's medical history was requested from the pilot's widow through an attorney; no information was provided to investigators.


Air Traffic Controller Actions

The N90 LGA area controller, who was working the Harp, Nobbie, Nyack, and LGA departure positions combined, was being supervised by the LGA area controller-in-charge (CIC) at the time of the accident. The CIC had relieved the LGA area front line manager, who was on a break during the accident sequence and out of the facility. The operations manager (OM) was providing overall supervision for the N90 operating floor.

The accident flight had been uneventful when the pilot checked in with the LGA departure controller at 0738 at 6,500 ft. Shortly thereafter, the radar track indicated a decrease of groundspeed from 140 to 100 knots and a slight ascent to 6,600 ft, followed by a slow descent. The LGA controller observed the descent and directed the pilot to turn right to a heading of 360° to prevent the airplane from descending into the LGA departure corridor. The controller did not solicit information from the pilot about the reason for the descent. Immediately following the instruction to turn right to a heading of 360°, the pilot stated that he was having a problem and needed to return to FRG, even though the flight did not originate at FRG. The LGA controller advised the CIC that he thought the pilot had a problem. At that time, the LGA controller and CIC considered the flight to be an emergency.

As the situation was developing, the airplane was in the N90 JFK sector airspace but was being worked by the LGA controller because control of the flight had already been transferred to the LGA area by the JFK departure controller. When providing ATC services to an aircraft in another controller's area of jurisdiction, any deviation from the expected flightpath must be coordinated with the controller responsible for the airspace in which the aircraft is operating. Accordingly, the CIC walked over to coordinate with the JFK controller to advise of a potential deviation from the anticipated flightpath of the airplane and then to the Islip departure controller to redirect other traffic away from the LGA controller.

The pilot did not declare an emergency, and the LGA controller did not request information regarding the nature of his problem or solicit information normally associated with emergency handling. Although the controller had the option to annotate the radar data block of the flight with the letter "E" to indicate an emergency, which would have alerted all of the controllers in the sectors that could see the airplane's data block that an emergency was in progress, he reported in postaccident interviews that it did not occur to him to do so.

The LGA controller was assisted by the CIC and the OM, who both stood behind the LGA controller as the situation progressed. The OM advised the LGA controller that Bethpage Airport was closed and suggested alternate landing areas such as the nearby parkways.

The LGA controller requested information on Bethpage Airport by slewing his cursor to the emergency airplane's radar target and entering the airplane's pertinent information. Bethpage did not show up in the query for the closest emergency airport; however, FRG did.

After the LGA controller lost radar contact with the flight, he was relieved from the position, and he assumed that the airplane had landed at Bethpage Airport. It was not immediately known that the airplane had crashed. A controller from the JFK area called FRG tower personnel and asked them to be on the lookout for the airplane. They reported seeing a smoke plume near Bethpage and called 911. The OM then called the Nassau County Police Department Aviation Unit, which happened to be based at Bethpage. They were able to respond immediately to the accident site but could not confirm the burning airplane's tail number. Once identification of the accident airplane was confirmed, the OM called the flight service station (FSS) to get information from the flight plan about how many people were on board the airplane and the departure airport. According to the FSS, no flight plan had been filed. The OM initially assumed the airplane had departed FRG but was able to determine the departure airport was FOK by talking to the controllers from the Islip and JFK areas.


Although there was geographic overlap between the RVMs used by the controllers in the LGA, JFK, and Islip areas, the information on each area's RVMs was inconsistent. Bethpage Airport was depicted on the LGA RVM but not on the Islip RVM. FRG was depicted on the Islip, JFK, and LGA RVMs, but the symbology used was different. The N90 ATC standard operating procedures (SOP) manual depicted the RVMs for the Islip, JFK, and LGA areas individually. The LGA section of the SOP showed Bethpage as an airport, but the Islip and JFK sections did not. The data provided in the SOP did not correlate with the actual radar presentation the controllers were using. At the time of the accident, the LGA controller was using RVM number N90-3100C, which was included in an N90 system adaptation on December 20, 2013.

Research revealed that the FAA did not require periodic review and validation of RVMs such as the RVM that depicted Bethpage Airport on the N90 area controller's RVM. The only periodic review requirement for RVMs, as defined in FAA Order 7210.3, "Facility Operation and Administration," was a biennial review of emergency obstruction video maps. The FAA also did not have procedures to ensure that closed airports were removed from RVMs systemwide. Since this accident, the FAA has revised and corrected its internal procedures to ensure all nonoperational airports are removed from RVMs in the United States.

Beech C35 Glide Performance

The Beech C35 Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH), Chapter 3, "Emergency Procedures," includes the following maximum glide configuration procedures in the event of an engine failure:


1. Landing Gear – UP
2. Flaps – UP
3. Cowl Flaps – CLOSED
4. Propeller – LO RPM
5. Airspeed – 105 KTS/121 MPH

Glide distance is about 1.7 nm (2 statute miles) per 1,000 ft of altitude above the terrain.

Recorded radar data revealed that the airplane experienced a sudden decrease in airspeed and a deviation in altitude at 0738:43 as it was on an easterly heading at 6,500 ft. At this point, the airplane was about 7 nm northwest of the approach end of runway 14 at FRG. At 6,500 ft, the lateral glide distance at the maximum glide configuration would have been about 10.8 nm, assuming calm wind conditions. The msl altitude at the accident site was about 125 ft.

The pilot continued on a westerly heading for 2 minutes 18 seconds after the sudden decrease in airspeed, and the airplane lost about 2,000 ft of altitude before he turned the airplane left toward the Bethpage area. At the farthest point from FRG, the airplane was about 8.8 nm at 4,000 ft. At this point, the maximum glide distance was about 6.6 nm, assuming calm wind conditions. Wind conditions at the time were from the northwest about 15 to 20 knots. Once the airplane was on a heading toward FRG, or a southeasterly direction, the prevailing tailwind would have improved glide performance. Several golf courses were located at the pilot's 10- to 12-o'clock positions if he had continued to descend on a westerly heading. 

History of Flight

Loss of engine power (total) (Defining event)

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

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 59, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 12/22/2014
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 06/18/2015
Flight Time: 3300 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: BEECH
Registration: N5946C
Model/Series: C35
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1952
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: D-3307
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/07/2015, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2703 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 6979 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: CONT MOTOR
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO-470-N
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 260 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand Air Taxi (135)
Operator Does Business As:
Operator Designator Code: J80A 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: FRG, 80 ft msl
Observation Time: 0753 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 4 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 110°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 9000 ft agl
Temperature/Dew Point: 25°C / 19°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.12 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Westhampton Bch, NY (FOK)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Morristown, NJ (MMU)
Type of Clearance: VFR Flight Following
Departure Time: 0720 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class B 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude:  40.754722, -73.501111

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office second helicopter pilot set to retire after the new year: Sgt. Gregg Weitzman has served for nearly 35 years

Sgt. Gregg Weitzman

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Sgt. Gregg Weitzman, the second helicopter pilot for the department, will retire soon after the new year after nearly 35 years of service.

Weitzman began his career with the Sheriff's Office as a reserve deputy while attending UC Santa Barbara. At the time, the only option the department had, if it needed the help of a helicopter, was to call either the Ventura County Sheriff's Office or Vandenberg Air Force Base.

So how did a young deputy become such an integral part of forming what is now the Santa Barbara County Sheriff/Fire Air Support Unit?

Weitzman was sworn in as a Sheriff's deputy in 1983 and almost immediately began taking flying lessons propelled by his vision that the department needed to have an air unit for Santa Barbara County. However, ten years would pass before newly-elected Sheriff Jim Thomas assigned Weitzman to Special Operations full time so that he could work on turning his vision of a helicopter unit a reality.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Air Support Unit merged with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department in 2012 to form the Sheriff/Fire Air Support Unit.

Weitzman was tasked with figuring out a way to fund this proposed air support unit. Through the Department of Defense's military surplus 1033 program (then known as the 1208 program), the Sheriff's Department was able to acquire four aircraft. Two of those aircraft, however, needed to be fixed up in order to fly. Funding from asset forfeitures and the Sheriff's Council were used to pay for work the aircraft needed to get them in proper operating order.

Weitzman was assigned as the second helicopter pilot for the newly created Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Air Support Unit in 1996, following the now-retired Deputy Bryan Swopes. In 2003, Weitzman took a break from Air Support to work on other assignments but returned to the pilot's seat in 2009, and stayed on as pilot when the Air Support Unit merged with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department in 2012 to form the Sheriff/Fire Air Support Unit.

“I was able to put together a unit that we could be proud of and also at the same time was able to do something that I loved,” said Weitzman.

During his career, Weitzman participated in over 300 rescues in Santa Barbara's backcountry, located a car full of inmates that had escaped from jail, and has helped raise money to help rebuilt rescue aircraft for Santa Barbara County and related equipment costs through his non-profit organization Project: Rescue Flight.

Among his many accolades and accomplishments, Weitzman served in the Sheriff's Dive Team, Transportation Unit, general patrol, and was part of the Special Enforcement Team that served to protect President Ronald Reagan at his ranch.

“We are sorry to see such a knowledgeable and experienced member of the Sheriff’s Office retire, but appreciate Gregg’s long-standing efforts to provide public safety air support to the people of Santa Barbara County," said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown. "I wish him well in all future endeavors.”

Editor's Note: This story erroneously identified Sgt. Weitzman as the first pilot of the Sheriff's Air Support Unit and has now been updated to reflect new information presented by now-retired Deputy Bryan Swopes, the first pilot of the department's Air Support Unit. This new information does not take away from Sgt. Weitzman's great accomplishments and contributions to the Sheriff's Department -- we just wanted to correct the record.

Story and photos ➤

Brock named Kansas Department of Transportation Director of Aviation

TOPEKA – Robert Brock has been selected to assume the role of Interim Director of Aviation at the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Brock has been serving KDOT and the State of Kansas while spearheading national aviation efforts as the first state Director for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Chairman of the Kansas UAS Joint Task Force. Under Brock’s direction, the division introduced the first statewide Unmanned Traffic Management to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System.

Prior to joining KDOT, Brock served over 22 years in the Air Force and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. As a military officer, he led both manned and unmanned flight operations. Brock is also an instrument-rated commercial fixed-wing and helicopter instructor pilot.

“We are so fortunate at KDOT to have such a talented and passionate person like Bob Brock to take over aviation,” said Secretary of Transportation Richard Carlson. “After already serving the state and the agency in opening new doors for UAS, Brock is in the best possible position to make great strides for aviation in Kansas.”

Representing Kansas as a national aviation leader on the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Drone Advisory Committee-Task Group Three, Brock will continue to work closely with the FAA and aviation stakeholders across the nation to support Kansas aviation. He will also oversee the Kansas Airport Improvement Program, Unmanned Systems Program, and Science, Technology, and Aviation Resource (STAR) program.

“I look forward to my continued service to KDOT and the State of Kansas,” said Brock. “We will continue to work with legislators, stakeholders, and communities to increase aviation safety and promote the growth of the aviation industry in Kansas.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Air service subsidies expected to continue in Cody and Laramie, Wyoming: But larger questions loom

Despite President Donald Trump’s budget request last spring to eliminate subsidized air service to Cody and Laramie, it appears that both airports will continue to have the cost of commercial flights covered in part by the federal government. 

U.S. Department of Transportation announced last week that United Airlines had won a bid to provide winter flights to Cody under the Essential Air Service program, and Laramie airport manager Jack Skinner said he expects Laramie to continuing receiving subsidized service when its contract comes up for renewal, likely in the spring.

“We’re always leery and trying to stay on top of what’s happening back there in Washington,” Skinner said. “But we believe they’re going to continue it because it’s been a good program for rural communities like Laramie.”

Trump’s budget request to Congress last March sought to eliminate the Essential Air Service program, which subsidizes commercial flights to rural communities across the United States. But Congress has final say over federal spending and did not choose to eliminate the program.

That’s good news for Laramie, which has all of its flights subsidized, as well as Cody, which requires a subsidy only for commercial flights during winter months when the tourism industry slows.

“There’s always proposed reductions or cuts to the Essential Air Service but Cody has performed exceptionally well,” said Bob Hooper, manager of the Yellowstone Regional Airport.

He cited the airport’s relatively low per-passenger subsidy, saying that it hovered in the $20 to $40 range, whereas some Wyoming airports, like Worland, are theoretically eligible for subsidies of up to $1,000 per passenger.

Only Cody and Laramie are currently served by the EAS program.

United’s new contract to provide service to Cody guarantees the airline an annual payment of $850,000 to provide 14 nonstop trips each week from Cody to Denver between October and May.

Hooper said the federal transportation department handles EAS contract renewals so he did not know when Laramie’s contract would be put out to bid or what the terms would be. SkyWest currently serves the university town for $2.18 million per year.
Economic benefit

While year-round commercial air services is an obvious boon to Cody and Laramie — Hooper said an official estimate pegged the benefit to Cody at $40 million per year — it also ties into Wyoming’s larger efforts to diversify its economy.

Gov. Matt Mead’s Endow economic diversification initiative has identified reliable air service throughout the state to be an important foundation for moving Wyoming away from a natural resource-focused economy.

“Commercial air service is a significantly limiting factor,” Endow’s Jerimiah Reiman said earlier this year. “There’s a lack of air service particularly to global destinations.”

The Wyoming Department of Transportation presented an ambitious fix to the state’s reliance on commercial air carriers, who can currently decide whether and when to provide service — allowing the fortune’s of Cowboy State communities to rise and fall based on the whims of national corporations.

WYDOT proposed effectively creating its own airline, determining which communities would receive service as well as schedules, ensuring, for example, that it was possible for business people to catch an early morning flight into Casper or Rock Springs.

The state would contract with the same regional providers, like SkyWest or GoJet, that United and Delta Air Lines use on branded flights to connect relatively small communities, like those in Wyoming, with major hubs in Denver and Salt Lake City. These arrangements are known as capacity purchase agreements.

“This idea of capacity purchase agreements, for decades, has worked very well for airlines,” WYDOT director Bill Panos told lawmakers last summer.
Air service obstacles

Commercial air service in Wyoming has been battered over the last decade as federal safety regulations have starved regional carriers of pilots and shattered historic business models. More, as airlines phase out older and generally smaller jets, they are replacing them with larger planes that are harder to fill on flights to and from small communities.

Lawmakers decided in October not to move forward with WYDOT’s air service proposal, choosing to maintain the current system under which all air service in Wyoming outside of Casper is subsidized either by the federal government or by the state.

Wyoming offers revenue guarantees to several airlines flying in and out of some smaller cities such as Riverton.

WYDOT had requested $29.5 million to $37.2 million over 10 years to implement the new air service program, according to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

Transportation committee co-chair Rep. Mike Greear, R-Worland, said at the time that while the proposal was not ready for approval he remained interested in the issue.

“The issue is not dead, and I think it’s going to keep coming up,” Greear said.

Original article can be found here ➤

Changes may be coming to a Wyoming Department of Transportation program that this year disbursed just under $34,000 to keep the wheels of United Airlines jets hitting Yellowstone Regional Airport tarmac at a brisk pace over the summer.

Airports in Rock Springs, Sheridan and Riverton are in danger of losing service, WYDOT’s Aeronautics Division says, and an expansive, if tentative, plan is in the works to help those facilities maintain commercial flights.

On Jan. 8, WYDOT Aeronautics program manager Amy Surdam will be visiting Cody as part of a statewide tour to explain modifications that may be coming to WYDOT’s Air Service Enhancement Program. 

At the Dec. 13 meeting of the YRA board, several members said the plan could face headwinds amid concerns it is overly ambitious.


Since 2004, ASEP has provided nine airports around the Cowboy State with $35 million in state funds for “improving or retaining air service,” according to a WYDOT website.

Currently, five airports participate in the program. Cody’s YRA and the Jackson Hole Airport, considered “growth markets,” get funding to support additional seasonal service. 

Airports in Rock Springs, Riverton and Sheridan, meanwhile, depend on ASEP to get commercial service at all, and are thus judged “critical need” by WYDOT.

ASEP funds finance minimum revenue guarantees that act as hedges for carriers when they make bets about the profitability of serving small markets.

When the nonprofit Cody Yellowstone Air Improvement Resources signed such a minimum revenue guarantee with United for the carrier to provide this year’s summer service from Cody to Chicago, for example, ASEP agreed to pay 40 percent of a $320,000 minimum revenue guarantee. 

That route pulled in $235,340, so United was owed an additional $84,660. ASEP covered $33,864, and CYAIR provided the 60 percent local match, or $50,796.

For “critical need” airports like Sheridan, Riverton and Rock Springs that are more dependent on the program, only a 40 percent local match is required, with ASEP picking up 60 percent of the tab.

Budgets, rules crunch

ASEP has struggled to keep providing that financial backstop as state budgets have faltered and the cost of serving small-market airports has risen, however.

Following a fatal crash, the U.S. Congress passed a law requiring commercial co-pilots to have at least 1,500 hours at the throttle, a six-fold increase from previous requirements that WYDOT says has led to a shortage of pilots for the small craft that serve Wyoming airports.

Riverton-area resident and president of the Wyoming Senate Eli Bebout said in an interview Dec. 18, “That [rule] just killed our small airlines.”

On the other side of the vise, there are state budget constraints. According to WYDOT figures, ASEP funding is now less than half of what it was at the program’s 2004 inception, even as carriers make bigger asks to provide service.

In the most recent biennium, roll-over funding was used to plug gaps left in ASEP by cuts, but money for the program is expected to run out by July 2019, Bebout said.

WYDOT Aeronautics is proposing to change how the system works for critical need airports by handling negotiations with the airlines at the state level rather than piecemeal for those facilities. 

WYDOT would find one carrier to fly to Denver from all three airports.

“They’ve got the expertise and they can do it,” Bebout said of WYDOT negotiating on behalf of airports like Riverton’s. “We’ve got to get some side boards and parameters for WYDOT to negotiate with [carriers],” he added. “[A conclusive proposal] hasn’t been formulated.”

WYDOT Aeronautics is also looking to Gov. Matt Mead’s Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming Council for assistance.

“The ENDOW Council has elected to approve $15 million in their budget request for Air Service Initiatives,” YRA member Bucky Hall informed the board Dec. 13.

Calling any ENDOW funding “one-time money,” Bebout said, “Ultimately what you want to do is not have any government funding for the program.” 

He said he hopes with increased competition, Riverton’s airport can return to boarding 15,000-passengers per year as it has in the past. Currently, the airport serves about 5,000 people per year, with many would-be travelers leaving the state to fly – a “leakage” problem Bebout said takes away revenue from Wyoming.

“When you talk about diversifying our economy, air service is critical,” he said.

YRA reactions

Details have yet to be fully released to the public, but at the Dec. 13 YRA meeting, airport manager Bob Hooper said the current WYDOT proposal calls for an agreement to serve the three critical need airports. “Growth market” airports such as those in Cody, Jackson, Gillette and Casper could also be included at a later date, he continued.

At that meeting, Hall called the idea “pie in the sky” on several occasions, questioning whether critical-need airports could produce enough demand to provide profitable service.

“Those three airports aren’t filling the airplanes right now and they’re going to get a 50-passenger [plane] instead of a 30-passenger [model currently used],” Hall said.

“[The plan] will also increase frequency from two flights a day to three,” Hooper added.

“The legislative team is convinced that we – we being the State – won’t have to write a check to the airlines. I personally am quite skeptical about that,” Hall said.

“They’re just sucking all the money out of the ASEP program,” Hall said of the struggling airports.

After the meeting, Hall said “[Mead] has identified, and correctly so, that to get businesses like Cody Labs, you’ve got to have a good commercial airport.”

But he said localities have to do their part as well. “Jackson, us, Casper and Gillette have all managed to make things work [without extensive state support],” Hall said.

Cody Sen. Hank Coe, the Cody City Council, the Park County Commissioners and members of CYAIR and YRA have all been invited to the Jan. 8 WYDOT presentation, Hooper told the board. Two days later, YRA will be asked to consider a resolution supporting the plan Surdam lays out, he continued.

After the meeting, Hall explained his view of the initiative’s prospects.

“[WYDOT Aeronautics] want letters of support to go to the legislators with,” he said. “I think most of the airport [boards around the state] are going to do it, but they’re going to do it with their fingers crossed behind their backs.”

Original article can be found here ➤