Friday, February 2, 2018

Impossibly large bird, almost the size of a small airplane, spotted in Mendenhall Valley, Juneau, Alaska

According to several eyewitness reports, a bird with a wingspan nearly the width of Mendenhall Loop Road has been spotted in the Mendenhall Valley.

The cryptozoological curiosity stems from a post in the popular Facebook page “Juneau Community Collective,” brought to the attention of the Empire by several readers. The Empire couldn’t track down a clear explanation of what the bird was, but we did talk to some bird experts and did a little digging on similar sightings from around Alaska.

Here’s the original post, from eyewitness Tabitha Bauer:

“Attn; I was just driving by the movie theater in the Valley and there was a huge black bird flying above the road. The wingspan had to be at-least 20 feet, it was almost as wide as the road. I have lived here all my life and have never seen anything like that, it freaked me out. It was not a raven or an eagle. This isn’t a joke. This thing was HUGE, almost the size of a small airplane. Did anyone else see it?”

The sighting was backed up by several others in a long comment thread on the post. Some were poking fun at the idea of a thunderbird or pterodactyl in the valley, but others weren’t so skeptical.

Bauer, recounting the sighting to the Empire a few days after spotting the bird, said it was “like an eagle, but five times as big.” She couldn’t think of any other way to describe the odd encounter.

She spotted it around 4 p.m. on Jan. 16, what would have been dusk. Bauer was driving to the bank, alone in her car.

“Right before the movie theater, I looked ahead of me and it was towards Superbear direction,” Bauer said, referencing the grocery store in the Mendenhall Mall and Gross Alaska Theatre’s Glacier Cinema.

There was rain on her windshield, so she turned on her wipers to clear the view.

That was when she saw a massive, jet-black bird with a short tail flying level with the treetops over Mendenhall Loop Road toward her. Bauer said the bird flapped its wings, soared a little higher, and flew at a fast clip over her car about 50 feet in the air.

“I looked up and right at that point, there was a gigantic, huge black bird flying right above my truck. It was basically following the roadway along the treetops.

“I slowed down to try to get a better look at it. It was heading toward the glacier, the wingspan was almost as wide as the road,” Bauer said, adding, “It was the biggest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It was very concerning. I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Bauer said that it definitely had feathers, but she couldn’t make out a beak.

“The body of it itself had to have been six to eight feet,” Bauer said. “I know it sounds nuts — I’ve been getting a lot of crap on Facebook about it like I am crazy — but I wanted to post it in case anyone else had seen it.”

Another woman, who asked that the Empire use only her first name, Diane, said she saw something very similar — this time perched, or attempting to perch, in a tree near her house late at night a few years ago.

Diane went out to smoke a cigarette at her Lemon Creek home and noticed that all the birds in the area were excited.

“All you heard was the whooshing sound in my tree. I went inside and grabbed a flashlight. It was so large, I couldn’t even get an outline of what type of bird it was,” Diane said.

Diane noticed downed branches littered her yard in the morning.

“That sounds crazy, but it was huge,” she said. “I don’t even go camping anymore.”

Similar sightings

Both of these accounts sound similar to a national headline-making event in 2002, when a very large bird was spotted in Southcentral Alaska.

A heavy equipment operator from Togiak spotted the bird then.

“At first I thought it was one of those old-time Otter planes,” the Alaska Dispatch News (now the Anchorage Daily News) quoted Moses Coupchiak, 43, a heavy equipment operator from Togiak, as saying. “Instead of continuing toward me, it banked to the left, and that’s when I noticed it wasn’t a plane.”

So what could this be? It’s debatable what the biggest bird in Alaska is, but one candidate is the black-footed albatross, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raptor biologist Steve Lewis said. They can have a wingspan of 6-8 feet.

But it’s highly unlikely an albatross would venture into the valley. Strong winds can sometimes blow an albatross inland, but they’re generally ocean-going birds that stick to the coast, Lewis said.

“Over the water there’s a potential to see something that may have wings like an albatross, but wouldn’t be jet black and wouldn’t be over the valley at all,” Lewis said.

The Stellar’s eagle is another candidate. Like the black-footed albatross, those can have a wingspan of 6-8 feet. They generally don’t venture as far north as Juneau, but as recently as the 1990s they were consistently spotted only a few miles from Juneau on the Taku River, near Canada.

A third, and more likely explanation is that the bird was an immature female bald eagle. Those are the largest birds that are frequently in the area, Lewis said. Young bald eagles have bigger feathers than older eagles, he explained, which aid them as they learn to fly and can make them look larger than they are.

Female bald eagles are generally larger than their male counterparts, Lewis added. Their job in a mating pair is to defend the nest, so it helps to be big and imposing to scare off potential nest robbers.

Bauer and Diane were both adamant about the size of the bird, so neither the albatross, Steller’s eagle or immature female bald eagle squares with their account. They’re both too small and the wrong colors.

The Federal Aviation Administration didn’t return calls to this story, but since both eyewitnesses described seeing this thing flap its wings, it’s unlikely it was a glider or a large drone, by their accounts.

Original article can be found here ➤

Lakeland Airport (KARV) fence project funding a question mark: Getting the project done all at once may or may not happen

The Lakeland Airport Commission had the chance last week to review the design, to this point, of a 10-foot high perimeter fence for the facility.

The fence is estimated to cost between $1 million and $1.5 million, 90 percent of it paid for with funding from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Five percent will come from the state of Wisconsin and the airport commission has approximately $300,000 set aside to handle its share.

The purpose for the fence is safety, its intent to dramatically reduce the amount of wildlife - primarily deer - that end up on airport runways, a safety hazard for aircraft taking off or landing.

Up until now, members of the commission had been under the impression they had the 90 percent in funding for the fence project from the federal government.

During the commission's December meeting they were told by Matt Yentz of Strand Associates, the firm responsible for the fence's design, his understanding was the federal and state funding probably wouldn't be available before September 2018, but he could get that confirmed with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Bureau of Aeronautics (BOA).

"Even if we were done and ready (with plans), we wouldn't bid the project until the money's available to you," Yentz said. "So it's probably a fall thing. Maybe even a winter thing. It won't take a year to design this for you but just to get all the pieces in place ... advertise it, bid it, award it, get somebody out here."

He said it wasn't unreasonable for that part of the process to take up to three months for a project like this.

"I think November would be a nice time of year to be doing the work," Yentz said.

At last week's meeting, however, they heard some information regarding funding which might mean having to do the fence in sections instead of all at once.

'What you can do'

Yentz couldn't make it to last week's meeting so Josh Pachniak of Strand Associates went over the plans with the commission, taking their input and answering questions.

Matt Messina, an airport development engineer with the BOA, also provided an update on the funding piece.

"Funding wise, we get the block grant usually around July each year," he said. "It comes in one big grant that's made up of all 90 airports, the $150,000 entitlements you guys get. All that's in there plus we get about $3 million or $4 million in 'apportioned funding' that we use to fund projects like these that are going to exceed what you guys have in entitlements. So, we use that money at our discretion so we'll have to see where the projects come out this year and we can fund this one. If not all of it, just a portion of it."

Messina said how that would be done would be "in limbo" until that point.

Typically, he said, a portion of that funding would go for what are usually considered high priority projects.

"But there's a safety factor in here, too, that we're trying to accomplish in funding the whole thing," Messina said.

"The state's five percent, you mean?" airport commission chairman Ginger Schwanebeck asked.

"No, the FAA's 90 percent," Messina said.

"I was under the impression we had been assured that this would be funded," Schwanebeck said.

"Eventually," Messina told her. "We might have to do it in ... portions. It's not 100 percent, um, sure. It's gonna be in limbo."

He said what could be done is when bids are advertised, alternates could be specified "so when we get the bid prices in, we can award what we get money for at the time."

"We can make the contractor hold the price for a certain amount of time," Messina said. "As more money becomes available, the more we can finish, the more we can change order more pieces of the fence and see how it goes. When we get closer to that time, we'll figure out how we'll break that up."

"We don't want to do any part of the fence if we can't do the whole fence, right?" commission member Brandon Baker asked.

"What's that?" Messina asked.

Baker clarified.

"We wouldn't want to do just a portion of the fence," he said.

"Wouldn't want to but if you can't fund it all then ... you just see what you can do," Messina said.

He reiterated July is usually when most of the grant money is received and August is when bids are let for bigger projects.

"Those usually get special grants from the FAA," Messina said. "Those are for runway reconstructions and things like that. As soon as the FAA gives us the full amount for those, then we're usually OK to use our apportionment for a lot of other things. But last year, they didn't give us enough money for those runway and taxiway rehabs that we normally get so we had to use our apportionment money on those types of projects."

He said runway and taxiway improvement projects rate higher than something like the perimeter fence at Lakeland Airport.

"Unfortunately, the apportionment money got cut down a lot," Messina said. "So we weren't able to do as much. With the August bid letting, we'll know a lot more."

"We have to remind President Trump he's in favor of infrastructure," Schwanebeck said, half-jokingly.

"He is," commission member Jeff Hunter said. "He likes airports."

"The one thing you have going for you, too," Messina said, " is the project would be let (in August) and you're in 30 percent design now. Environmental (assessment) and all that stuff should be done so if we have a project that's let ... typically, we try and spend that money instead of reserving that money for a project that might not be ready."

Baker asked if there were other airports the size of Lakeland looking to do a perimeter fence project similar to the one being planned.

"Not fence projects," Messina said. "Everybody wants to do something a little different."

Monday, he provided more clarification when asked if the fence would be built all at once or in sections.

"It could be either at this point," Messina told The Lakeland Times. "We don't know if we can get everything Lakeland needs for the fence in one shot."

If the fence were to be built in sections, Messina said he doesn't know how much time there would be between construction.

"Obviously, it's not ideal to do it that way," he said. "We'd like to start it and keep it as fluid as we can. 

Original article can be found here ➤

Chico Municipal Airport (KCIC) pushes closer to commercial airline service

Chico, Calif. --- The effort to bring commercial airlines to Chico is going strong. Airport Manager Sherry Miller says the city has made contact with four major carriers, but she would not say which ones.

Miller says the city could hear from those carriers any day now. The city is working with Jet Chico, a citizen and business-based non-profit organization.

A recent study by a consultant firm, shows the Chico Metropolitan service area, which includes Oroville, Paradise and Gridley would support two commercial flights departing and two arriving each day, or about 682 passengers coming and going to the area.

The passenger study is based on information derived from credit card information and zip codes from passengers in the Chico area. The study also show Los Angeles would be the number one destination.

The last commercial service in Chico was in December of 2014. Miller told Action News Now today, "Businesses have left Chico because of no commercial air service and businesses have not come because of it. Miller says they are just beginning to work on revenue guarantee funds of a million dollars.

The money will come from businesses, and the local community. Miller says several major businesses in Chico, including Transfer Flow and Chico State University are on board with the effort. The public can help by participating in a 'ticket bank' by promising to buy tickets. Miller says people who Uber Drivers to get to Sacramento can put money into the ticket bank for a ticket guarantee.

An agreement with possible airlines could be made quickly, but it could take six months after that, as the carriers have to get Chico into the route planning and Transportation Security Administration or TSA has to set up equipment. Miller says she is encouraged, optimistic and excited at the direction the movement is going and they are prepared for any hurdles that may come. 

Original article can be found here ➤

Passenger restrained with duct tape and zip ties after storming cockpit, Federal Bureau of Investigation says

Charlene Sarieann Harriott 
Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office

A passenger was charged Thursday after federal authorities said she attacked three crew members aboard an American Airlines flight as it approached Charlotte’s airport.

The FBI charged Charlene Sarieann Harriott, 36, with interfering with a flight crew member and attendants during a flight Wednesday morning from Dallas/ Fort Worth to Charlotte.

Harriott was seated at the rear of Flight 1033 as it prepared to land at Charlotte’s airport, according to a criminal complaint. Flight attendants had taken seats when Harriott ran from the last row and toward the cockpit.

The attendants first ordered her to stop, then gave chase – just as the flight was touching down.

They eventually restrained her with duct tape and zip ties in the first-class section as the plane landed, it says, but Harriott “became more aggressive and physically violent toward the flight crew.”

She bit one attendant on the right forearm, puncturing the skin and causing bleeding, according to the complaint, hit a second attendant in the right forearm and kicked a third attendant in the leg and abdomen. All three went to American Airlines’ onsite medical clinic for treatment.

An arrest warrant was sealed, but court documents say Harriott was scheduled for an initial appearance before a federal magistrate on Thursday afternoon. She was being held in the Mecklenburg County Jail on three counts of assault and battery.

A federal judge on Thursday ordered that Harriott remain in custody until her detention hearing next week.

Read more here ➤

Aviation staff fined for letting no-fly woman boarding

HÀ NỘI — The Northern Airports Authority has fined two staff members of the Nội Bài Airport Security Centre for not seriously obeying regulations when they allowed a woman listed on a no-fly list to board an Aeroflot plane, traveling from Hà Nội to Moscow, on January 3.

They were fined VNĐ4 million (US$88) each under Item 3, Article 15 of Government Decree 147, issued in 2013. Additionally, a member of the staff of Aeroflot – the Russian airlines - was also penalised the same amount.

The passenger, named Phạm Thu Thủy, 36, of the northern province of Hải Dương’s Hải Tân Ward, was banned from flying between September 16, 2017 and March 15, 2018 by the Civil Aviation Authority of Việt Nam (CAAV) because she quarreled with a passenger on another Aeroflot flight, traveling from Hà Nội to Moscow last August.

After issuing the ban, the CAAV had asked Vietnamese airlines, and those which operate in Việt Nam, to refuse to transport Thủy during this period. Airports have been required to tighten security monitoring to prevent Thủy from boarding flights.

However, she was still able to board a flight on January 3. The agency has asked Aeroflot to pay more attention, to avoid repeating such cases in the future.

Tô Tử Hùng, deputy head of the CAAV’s Airport Security Office, told Tuổi trẻ (Youth) online newspaper that it had only issued an administrative fine, and the two staff members would be disciplined after the conclusion of the CAAV’s inspection to determine why the woman could slip through surveillance and board the plane

Original article can be found here ➤

Costa Rican airline Nature Air to resume operations

The National Directorate of Civil Aviation could be lifting the suspension of Nature Air flights by the end of this week.

Rolando Richmond, sub-director of Civil Aviation confirmed that Nature Air presented all necessary documentation since this past Monday where they show that they have made the necessary changes and adjustments and hired additional personnel to comply with the requirements of this entity, the documents and information are being analyzed and verified.

Back in January 11, Nature Air was notified by Civil Aviation of the suspension of its operations due to the fact that the company “didn’t have the structure to operate properly and guarantee the execution of the flight operations with safety;” in particular since they lost key personnel after the death of pilot Juan Manuel Retana (in the tragic plane crash of Dec.31) who was the Chief Trainer; the resignation of the Director of Operations, Jorge Valverde shortly after the crash, and the sick leave of Rodney Duran, Chief of Flight Security.

The news of the suspension came just 11 days after the tragic airplane accident in which 10 US tourists lost their lives.

Nelson Vega, General Manager of Nature Air, assured in an interview with national news daily La Nacion, that the suspension has resulted in losses of over $1.2 million and therefore they hope to receive the green light to begin operating again by the end of this week.

According to statistics by Civil Aviation, Nature Air absorbs a 30% of the domestic flights market which represents an approximate 8000 travelers a month (data 2016), while SANSA takes 54.9% of the total travelers, and the rest of the passengers use other smaller companies.

Even though there is a strong possibility that the company will be able to offer their services again in the next few days, the investigation regarding statements made by the former Director of Operations Jorge Valverde in his letter of resignation where he makes reference to some irregularities in the operations of the company (the details have not been disclosed) continues.

Also, the investigation to find out the cause of the plane crash that occurred December 31st is still open, the Judicial Investigative Organism (OIJ) carried out three searches in the first days of January in the offices of Nature Air at the Juan Santamaria Airport and the Tobias Bolaños Airport as well as in the offices of Civil Aviation in La Uruca to collect data related to the aircraft, the flight records, maintenance information and digital files. The engine recovered of the Cessna 208B Caravan was also sent to the manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC), and evidence was collected at the scene of the accident. 

Original article can be found here ➤

A new ramp and hangars for Venice Municipal Airport (KVNC)

Venice, FL (WWSB) - It's a busy scene at the Venice Airport as construction crews and pilots share the same space.

"We're removing and rehabilitating all of the old Army Air Corps ramp," explained Airport Director Mark Cervasio.

The original concrete was laid in the early 1940's when Venice Airport was used by the United States Army as a training base. The 12-inch-thick concrete is being removed and recycled.

"We're bringing that back in and we're using that as a base for the new asphalt. Not only are we saving concrete but we're also saving environmentally, by shipping it out," Cervasio said.

The project costs $4.5 million-dollars and is largely being paid for through a Federal Aviation Administration grant.

"90% FAA money, 5% FDOT money, and 5% airport money," Cervasio said.

Next to the ramp is the shell of a new airplane hangar. The airport has an extensive waiting list for it's existing hangars. The new one will provide 14 additional spots for pilots to rent.

"Assuming that it'll be full based on that waiting list; that'll be about $88,000 a year for the airport fund," said Cervasio.

That project, too, is recieveing outside financial help. It's costing $1.4 million but, 80% of it is being funded by the state.

"It's pretty disruptive but on the other hand it's really valuable," said Paul Holloway.

Pilots like Holloway say they're glad the work is being done... especially new tie downs that are being built. That way plane owners can secure their aircraft to the ground in the event of high winds.

"People have had to move their airplanes out to other parking spaces but they've done a great job and I don't think you hear any complaints with any pilots," Holloway said.

We spoke to several other aircraft owners who all shared the same sentiment, they're glad for the work... but, they'll be glad when it's over in March.

Story and video ➤

Azur Air may stop flying from March 21 — Russian aviation regulator

MOSCOW, February 2. /TASS/. Russia’s Azur Air may stop flying from March 21 if the airline does not close out all violations materially affecting the flight safety, the Russian aviation regulator Rosaviatsiya said on Friday.

Rosaviatsiya limited the term of the operator’s certificate of the Russian air carrier Azur Air by March 20, 2018, two sources on the air travel market told TASS earlier on Friday.

"Nonconformities and drawbacks pertaining to matters of supporting airworthiness of aircraft and organization of air operations were found in the activity of the air carrier in the course of the inspection performed by Rosaviatsiya in December 2017. Azur Air did not confirm the closeout of identified nonconformities and comments in full scope within prescribed terms," the regulator said. "Restrictions can be lifted in accordance with laws if all violations are cured. Otherwise, the airline may stop making flights from March 21," it noted.

The air carrier will continue its operations in full scope and perform commercial air transportations according to obligations assumed earlier until March 20 inclusive, Rosaviatsiya said.

The aviation regulator explained that in accordance with requirements of Russian air operations laws, an operator’s certificate of an airline can be limited by the term, suspended or cancelled if violations significantly affecting flight safety are found in its operations.

Azur Air will file an application for removal of this restriction shortly, press service of the airline said on Friday.

"An application will be prepared and submitted to Rosaviatsiya as soon as practicable for lifting of the restriction on the term of the operator’s certificate with attachment of all requisite documents evidencing elimination of comments," the press service said.

The airline does not see difficulties in closing out all nonconformities and drawbacks identified by the regulator during the inspection.

Azur Air carries its air transport operations in full scope, the press service said.

According to Rosaviatsiya, Azur Air is eighth in terms of air transportation in Russia. The company carried 3.7 mln passengers in 2017.

Original article can be found here ➤

Senator calls Hagerstown Regional Airport (KHGR) an 'economic hub' for the area

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen heard an update on Hagerstown Regional Airport's economic impact when he visited the facility Friday.

"I have been up to Hagerstown many, many times, but this is my first visit to the airport," Van Hollen said before a gathering of about a dozen people, many of them airport or county officials. "I think everybody here knows this is such an important part of our regional economy, and we look forward to being a partner at the federal level with the efforts here, primarily through the Essential Air Service program and other efforts that we can work with you on. ... I've been hearing from local businesses and people who live and work in Hagerstown how important this airport is to them to help connect them with folks around the country and businesses that are doing business here."

The Essential Air Service program helps guarantee that small communities maintain a level of scheduled air service.

During the visit, Van Hollen, D-Md., heard a report from Phil Ridenour, the airport director.

The airport, north of Hagerstown, is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, Ridenour said, and is one of the oldest continuously operating airports in the United States. He said 50,618 passengers came through the airport last year, counting both departures and arrivals.

"That's one of the highest numbers we've had for quite a while," he said.

The airport's annual budget is a little more than $2 million, Ridenour said. But he said the airport's economic impact goes beyond its immediate operations and accounts for more than 1,600 jobs in the area.

About 17 entities do business at the airport, including Sierra Nevada Corp., which Van Hollen was to tour after his airport stop.

After hearing Ridenour's report, Van Hollen said the federal government needs to do its part to make sure "all systems are go" for regional airports.

"It's a really important hub, economic hub, for this area," he said of the Hagerstown-area facility. "You've got 50,000 passengers flying in and out of here every year and you've got more and more businesses, like Sierra Nevada, being attracted to this area because of the airport. So I'm pleased that, at the federal level, we're able to get grants from the FAA, about $1.6 million this past year, working on mainly Essential Air Service, so that we can continue to attract passengers and businesses to Hagerstown and to the airport. So we need to make sure all systems are go."

Story, video and photo gallery ➤

American Champion 7GCBC, N519AC: Accident occurred February 02, 2018 at Santa Paula Airport (KSZP), Ventura County, California

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Van Nuys

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Santa Paula, CA
Accident Number: GAA18CA120
Date & Time: 02/02/2018, 1115 PST
Registration: N519AC
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control on ground
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

The pilot reported that, during landing, she became distracted by another airplane performing a touch-and-go and, upon touchdown, her airplane veered to the right. She added full power to go around, but the airplane continued to the right as it became airborne and the right wing struck a parked helicopter. Subsequently, the airplane impacted the tops of bushes and came to rest inverted in an adjacent riverbed.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the both wings.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 57, Female
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 10/12/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 07/05/2017
Flight Time:   (Estimated) 1131.8 hours (Total, all aircraft), 9.8 hours (Total, this make and model), 994 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 15.1 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 9.9 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0.8 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N519AC
Model/Series: 7GCBC NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2000
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Aerobatic; Normal
Serial Number: 1295-2000
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/18/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1800 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 1052.4 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C91  installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-320-B2B
Registered Owner: Judy McCarthy & Lucia Galgano
Rated Power: 160 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KSZP, 259 ft msl
Observation Time: 1855 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 285°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 22°C / 6°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Light and Variable, Variable
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.1 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: SANTA PAULA, CA (SZP)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Santa Paula, CA (SZP)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1010 PST
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 248 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 04
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 2713 ft / 60 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Go Around; Traffic Pattern 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude:  34.345556, -119.063056 (est)

Two people walked away from a plane crash Friday morning at the Santa Paula Airport that left the aircraft upside-down in the dry Santa Clara River bottom.

Santa Paula police and fire officials said a single-engine propeller plane, approaching the airport runway for a landing sometime after 11 a.m., went out of control and traveled south across the tarmac.

The aircraft clipped an unoccupied helicopter and went down an embankment, eventually coming to rest upside-down in the river bottom about 50 yards from the runway.

Santa Paula Police Department Detective Shane Norwood said people at the airport rushed to the scene to help the aircraft’s occupants.

“The pilot walked out under (her) own power,” Norwood said.

Norm Plott, assistant chief of the Santa Paula Fire Department, said the pilot and male occupant were uninjured, refused transport to a hospital and were released from the scene.

Plott said a Ventura County air unit was requested along with crash rescue crew out of the Camarillo. Those resources were canceled, however, as the occupants were safely out of the aircraft.

Pilots were initially told to avoid the airport during the response, but that advisory was lifted just before 12:15 p.m.

According to Norwood, the Santa Paula Police Department will be investigating the incident until Monday, when it will be handed off to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Federal Aviation Administration documents show the aircraft to be co-owned by two Ventura residents.

“I think the good thing is we didn’t have anyone injured,” Plott said.

“The biggest concern was to mitigate a small fuel spill into the river bottom.” 

About 3 gallons of fuel went onto the river bottom before the spill was stopped by fire personnel.

Crews then prepared to flip the aircraft upright, attaching a cable to the tail end of the plane, pulling it end over end.

Plott said the plane would be loaded onto a vehicle and taken into a Santa Paula Airport hangar where it will await inspection by the NTSB.

Friday’s crash is one of a handful of Ventura County incidents investigated by the NTSB in the past year.

Story, video and photo gallery ➤

To the Moon, Mars and Beyond: A new spirit of exploration, fueled by tech entrepreneurs, big plans at NASA and worries about the fate of the Earth

The Wall Street Journal
By Michio Kaku
February 2, 2018 12:24 p.m. ET

—Dr. Kaku is a professor of physics at the City University of New York. His new book, “The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality and Our Destiny Beyond Earth,” will be published on Feb. 20 by Doubleday.

A new countdown has begun in space travel. The most powerful rocket since the Apollo moon missions stands ready for a test flight, scheduled for this Tuesday, on the same launchpad used by the NASA astronauts. It’s a step toward putting humans back in lunar orbit, and still more ambitious plans are in the works. Last month, President Donald Trump signed a proclamation that commits the U.S. to a series of missions to the moon, then Mars and, as he said, “perhaps someday to many worlds beyond.”

Nearly 50 years after the first moon landing in 1969, we’re on the verge of a new golden age of exploration. But there are significant differences this time. The Falcon Heavy rocket now on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral has been privately built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. It is one of several commercial ventures working alongside NASA, which plans to launch its own giant moon rocket late next year. Returning to the moon is a first priority for all of these projects—but only as a steppingstone to interplanetary travel. It has suddenly become fashionable again to talk of reaching for the stars.

The SpaceX venture features Mr. Musk’s usual showmanship. The rocket will, among other things, blast a cherry-red Tesla sports car into solar orbit. But the launch—assuming it actually takes place next week, after several years of delay—is also a serious business.

Mr. Musk has already shown the commercial viability of his smaller Falcon 9 rocket, which can land and be reused, like the U.S. space shuttle, making it much less expensive than other rockets. He is using the same strategy for the Falcon Heavy, which is essentially three Falcon 9s lashed together. SpaceX also has just sent one of its unmanned Dragon space capsules to the international space station and back for NASA, and is vying with Boeing starting in 2019 to launch NASA astronauts.

As for NASA, it plans to test its taller, more powerful new rocket, the 212-foot Space Launch System, as soon as December 2019. The SLS is close to the size, profile and power of the Saturn V rocket used in the Apollo missions. Its first launch will send an unmanned Orion space capsule into orbit around the moon. If things go smoothly—a big “if,” considering the many delays since the program’s start early this decade—the SLS could take four astronauts to an orbit around the moon in 2022. The SLS may cost as much as a billion dollars per launch, whereas a reusable Falcon Heavy could cost a 10th of that.

‘It has suddenly become fashionable again to talk of reaching for the stars.’

NASA then plans to construct a space station orbiting the moon, dubbed the Deep Space Gateway. Current plans call for four SLS missions to build it by 2026, with the help of Russia, Japan, the European Union and Canada for key components. Mr. Musk recently added the idea of a station sited on the moon to his own plans, though he provided little detail beyond calling it “Moon Base Alpha.”

NASA intends to use its station as a base for building a rocket bound for Mars and possibly for the belt of asteroids that orbit the sun between Mars and Jupiter. The spacecraft planned for the journey employs huge solar panels to generate power for its ion-thrust engines, technology that works only in the vacuum of space. Labeled the Deep Space Transport, its first two-year round trip is slated sometime after 2033.

SpaceX calls its version the Interplanetary Transport System, to be powered by an even bigger rocket that Mr. Musk calls the BFR (with “F” standing for just what you think). As he imagines it, the ship would carry a small colonizing force of dozens of people, who would make fuel for the return trip by synthesizing materials found on Mars.

The cost of rocket technology has dropped dramatically since the Apollo missions of the 1960s consumed some 5% of the federal budget. More players, both public and private, now have the financial and technical resources to join the nascent space race.

India sent a probe to Mars in 2014. China plans to send astronauts to the moon and unmanned probes to Mars, followed by a manned mission. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is funding his own space port in Texas for his Blue Origin project, which has successfully reused its “New Shepard” rocket for suborbital flights, on which it intends to take passengers. Google co-founder Larry Page and other Silicon Valley billionaires have formed a company called Planetary Resources to explore the commercial possibilities of landing on asteroids to mine for rare elements used in electronics.

The stated goal of the U.S. Mars program is to create a permanent base there. That is difficult to imagine in the planet’s harsh environment, which was depicted with such stark realism in the 2015 film “The Martian.”

But there are possibilities on the planet for making bases more viable. Mars explorers could use natural lava tubes in extinct volcanoes to create an underground base shielded against harmful radiation. Underground deposits of ice discovered in recent years could be used for drinking water and to provide oxygen for breathing, as well as hydrogen for rocket fuel. In theory, astronauts could eventually establish agricultural stations to create a self-sustaining colony, using genetically modified plants that could thrive in a cold environment rich in carbon dioxide.

A new spirit of exploration and discovery is certainly part of the push for this new space age, but concerns about the future of the Earth are also a motive. There is a growing realization that life on the planet is extremely fragile, that killer asteroids, super volcanoes and ice ages have nearly extinguished life in the past, and that climate change may spin out of control. Even if the Earth remains habitable, we know that one day the sun itself will expire.

So the choice ultimately will be simple: Colonize outer space, or perish. We need an insurance policy, a backup plan. The dinosaurs didn’t have a space program. We may need ours to evade their fate.

Original article can be found here ➤

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to host light-attack plane testing

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base will be the site of continued testing of two proposed light-attack planes that have been cited as potential replacements for the A-10 ground-attack jet, a mainstay of operations at D-M.

The testing is part of an ongoing effort to collect data to help the Air Force to buy an off-the-shelf light-attack aircraft at low cost.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in a news release Friday that the testing from May through July will involve the AT-6 Wolverine and the A-29 Super Tucano.

Wilson calls those aircraft “the two most promising” among four included in tests conducted last summer at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.

The AT-6 is a version of the T-6 Texan made by U.S.-based Beechcraft Defense, while the A-29 is made by Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer with assembly of planes in Florida by its partner, Sierra Nevada Corp.

The release says the new round of testing will focus on areas including logistics and maintenance requirements, weapons and sensor issues.

Davis-Monthan hosts the nation’s largest contingent of A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack jets, with one A-10 combat squadron, an active-duty training squadron and an Air Force Reserve training unit.

The Air Force has proposed retiring the A-10 but has delayed its plans amid stiff opposition in Congress and high demand for the plane, which was designed as a tank killer but is highly valued for close air support of ground troops.

Tucson-area business and civic leaders fear the loss of the A-10 without significant new missions could leave D-M vulnerable to closure as the Air Force faces excess base capacity and budget pressure.

The base contributed more than $1 billion to the local economy in fiscal year 2016, according to D-M’s latest report.

The proposed light-attack plane could replace the A-10 for some low-flying missions where air defenses are limited, experts say.

The U.S. began buying A-29s for the Afghan air force in 2013 and has delivered about a dozen of 20 expected to be delivered by the end of 2018.

Another A-10 base, Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, has been training Afghan A-29 pilots since 2015.

Read more here ➤

Hughes 369E, N618SG: Accident occurred February 01, 2018 in Wrightwood, San Bernardino County, California

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Riverside

Helicopters Unlimited LLC:

NTSB Identification: GAA18CA117
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Thursday, February 01, 2018 in Wrightwood, CA
Aircraft: HUGHES HELICOPTERS INC 369, registration: N618SG

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

Rotorcraft lost control and attempted to land, rolled over.

Date: 01-FEB-18
Time: 17:55:00Z
Aircraft Make: HUGHES
Aircraft Model: 369E
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Operation: 91

Piper PA-24-250 Comanche, N7467P: Incident occurred February 01, 2018 at Carson Airport (KCXP), Nevada

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Reno

Aircraft landed gear up.

Date: 01-FEB-18
Time: 19:50:00Z
Regis#: N7467P
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA 24 250
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91