Friday, April 20, 2018

Interim Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (KBTR) director quits, cites new offer and weariness over council delays

Frustrated after spending a year and a half as interim aviation director, Baton Rouge airport chief Ralph Hennessy announced Friday that he's leaving the city-parish.

He described being left in limbo while the Metro Council has dragged its feet, recently hiring a search consultant that could add months more to the process.

"I've been waiting and waiting, and I was approached by a firm, and I said, 'Well, let's talk," Hennessy said. "It was a deal that I could not pass up."

Hennessy said his new employer has asked him not to reveal his new position until next Tuesday. Another significant event is also happening next week: on Monday, the airport search committee will meet with their consultants to discuss hiring a permanent director, now with more of a rush on their hands.

Hennessy has been at the Baton Rouge airport for 16 years and previously served as assistant aviation director before being promoted after his predecessor, Anthony Marino, announced his resignation in September 2016.

Hennessy’s departure, scheduled for on or around May 10, will leave the public airport without a director or assistant director.

“There’s somebody on the staff that’s going to have to step up on an interim basis. Who that is, I don’t know,” said Trae Welch, a metro councilman, airport commissioner and longtime aviator.

Welch championed Hennessy's case, saying he’s proven himself to be a capable leader. Now the airport must find an interim head who to get a permanent hire up to speed and who will then have to hire a new lieutenant.

“I just think it bodes poorly,” Welch said, trailing off. “I’d just hate to see it go backward.”

Airport Commission Chairman Cleve Dunn Jr. said he was surprised to receive Hennessy’s letter of resignation Friday morning. Dunn said he thought Hennessy was prepared to compete with the “best and brightest” candidates.

Councilwoman Chauna Banks, who serves on the search committee and whose district includes the airport, said her desire to go forward with  a search wasn’t about Hennessy. Rather, she said, she wanted to act in the city's best interests by going through an equitable process to select the next permanent airport director.

The key issue for Councilwoman Barbara Freiberg was just about finding the best ideas. Could Baton Rouge attract another airline? Can it better market the land that it owns and leases to businesses? Can it reach the next level?

“I don’t know, that’s the reason for having a search,” she said.

Pro Tem Scott Wilson, who supported Hennessy, said the circumstances that led him to walk away are indicative of a larger problem. Baton Rouge allows long-serving managers to retire and be rehired and keep working while they collect benefits. People always say they hate the practice because it impedes the promotion of younger staffers, Wilson said. But in this case, he said, the city-parish passed on an opportunity to name a qualified second-in-command to a directorship post.

“There’s nothing wrong with moving up. … I think we’re losing some experience,” Wilson said. “I think we should’ve made (Hennessy) director when we had the opportunity.”

The search committee was already scheduled to hold a meeting with its new consultants on Monday at 3 p.m. at the airport. The search committee is made of Metro Council members and airport commissioners. Dunn said that with Hennessy out, they will have to expedite their search for a permanent director.

The city-parish has not advertised the position or collected any applications, commissioners said. Dunn wants to have a new director in place in two or three months, which he thinks is doable if the consultants, commission, committee and council can all work together.

The plan is to bring three finalists before the Metro Council, which has final hiring authority. Search committee members have split on whether to name a preferred candidate, but without Hennessy, some may change their minds, Dunn said.

The group also will have to come up with a transition plan to find someone to replace Hennessy when he leaves in a few weeks.

The outgoing airport leader said he wouldn't endorse a particular candidate to replace him for the time being, but if the Metro Council approaches him to help evaluate the permanent airport leader, he'd give informal advice.

Original article can be found here ➤

Butler County Regional Airport (KHAO) may break even for first time ever

BUTLER COUNTY —    Butler County’s financially fragile airport Hogan Field may break even operationally this year, a first ever officials say.

For years Butler County commissioners have dipped into the county general fund — as much as $100,000 — to bail out the airport by paying its bills. The airport has also not been able to shoulder around $155,000 in debt payments.

For that reason, commissioners fired airport administrator Ron Davis last summer. He was making $93,710 annually, with benefits about $110,000. Commissioners said they would likely hire an outside contractor — to eliminate the cost for benefits — or someone part-time to manage the airport. They haven’t yet.

County Administrator Charlie Young said the airport still can’t cover its debt payments or local Federal Aviation Administration grant matches — like the $100,000 match for the $2 million apron project that is about to start — but this year the operational costs for utilities, maintenance, mowing, snow plowing — the budget for 2017 was $288,000 — should be covered by revenues.

“We do believe it would be reasonable for the airport to cover all its costs, including debt service at some point,” Young said. “From my perspective first we want to break even from the operating perspective and the next step would be to cover the local share of the ongoing capital requirements and ultimately for it to be completely self-supporting, we’re just trying to take it one step at a time.”

The county has asked their fixed case operator Cincinnati Jet Center — the outfit that runs the day-to-day operations — to take on some more responsibilities at the airport, but the bulk of the work — dealing with the FAA and aviators who use the field — has fallen to Development Director David Fehr.

Commissioner Don Dixon said they don’t feel any sense of real urgency to hire more help because “pretty much the bleeding has stopped at the airport as far as the budget goes.”

“David Fehr has stepped in and it’s just a new management style,” Dixon said. “He’s already on the payroll, he’s already working for the county, so in our opinion it’s running better than it ever has in a long time.”

Young said they do intend to hire someone part-time for the airport post at some point because they want a county employee there to interact with the tenants.

Part of the problem the commissioners had with Davis — he filed a civil lawsuit against the commissioners this week — was his inability to bolster the bottom line by bringing in new business or develop a master plan for the future.

Fehr said he is now in talks with some people who want to build a new hangar at the airport but he doesn’t have a signed deal yet. They have also started publishing a newsletter, because their tenants were asking to be better informed about what is going on there.

In addition to Fehr’s efforts the commissioners were also able — after learning late from Davis in 2014 that the FBO contract was expiring — to negotiate higher fees to boost revenues. Dixon said the airport is evolving.

“We’re constantly looking and David is looking for ways to improve the revenue stream at the airport…,” Dixon said. “We will be doing a new master plan, but it’s not something that has to be done immediately, the airport is stabilized.”

Original article can be found here ➤

It’s a Thing: Flying a Plane Without a Pilot's License

San Diego Magazine Publisher Jim Fitzpatrick got to fly an ICON A5 around San Diego.

By Erin Meanley Glenny 
This morning, our CEO & Publisher, Jim Fitzpatrick, flew a two-seater “sport” airplane around San Diego County. It’s called an ICON A5, and the “sport aircraft” term means the person flying doesn't need a real pilot's license. You only need 20 hours of training in the air—plus $269,000—in order to buy and fly one of these things. 

It’s tiny! The ICON A5 folds up and fits on a trailer. It only goes 100 mph but you can fly for 45 minutes (427 nm).

Jim was in the Air Force, so he has 3,000 hours under his belt, and was allowed to fly. He took off this morning from Montgomery. They actually landed in the bay, and took off again from the bay. He had never flown a sea plane, but he did this on his first time!

A few years ago, we did all these stories on drones or unmanned aerial vehicles, and we wondered what the sky might start to look like if they were to proliferate. So far, not a lot of drones buzzing around. But now there’s another category of civilian aircraft that might fill our skies. For now, the price tag will keep the numbers down. Still, I was surprised to hear that just about anyone could get in a plane and navigate our airspace. San Diego has a lot of restrictions, partly because of the military. Jim said it was all digital on a screen—where he could and could not go.

Is it safe? A quick Google search reveals a few crashes in the U.S. Personally, I don't have the guts to fly in anything that small. So I sent my boss. Sport flying: it’s a thing.

Original article ➤

Kolb Twinstar Mk III, N9123R: Fatal accident occurred April 20, 2018 at Collegedale Municipal Airport (KFGU), Apison, Hamilton County, Tennessee

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

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

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 
Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Location: Collegedale, TN
Accident Number: ERA18LA134
Date & Time: 04/20/2018, 1830 EDT
Registration: N9123R
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On April 20, 2018, at 1830 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Kolb Mark III, N9123R, was destroyed when it collided with terrain shortly after takeoff from, Collegedale Municipal Airport (FGU), Collegedale, Tennessee. The private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

In interviews with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the airplane's owner explained that the pilot was supposed to perform high-speed taxi testing of the airplane, and that the takeoff and subsequent flight were a surprise to him. The owner stated that the pilot completed two high speed taxis during which he had "crow-hopped" the airplane; lifting off to approximately 10 feet above ground level (agl) and then settling back to the runway.

On the third taxi, he heard the pilot apply "full power" and the airplane departed runway 03, turned right "over the trees" adjacent to the runway, and then "leveled, banked left, and dove into the ground." According to the owner, there appeared to be no attempt to correct the dive.

A homeowner on the northeast end of the runway witnessed the accident and reported to the FAA inspector that the airplane was over the departure end of the runway about 500 feet agl when it "turned left and dove straight…" into a slope below the grass runway-overrun area. When asked about the sound of the engine, the witness said it sounded as though the pilot had reduced power prior to the turn, but increased power in the descent. He said the airplane went "screaming" into the ground. The witness added that he heard a "flapping" sound from the airplane similar to a banner-tow as it passed overhead.

The owner subsequently provided video recordings of the airplane during ground taxi in the parking area, and the takeoff. The takeoff recording ended before the airplane's descent into terrain. The video was recorded from the point of takeoff and oriented in the direction of flight.

The takeoff roll was approximately 400 feet long. The engine sound was smooth, continuous, and remained unchanged throughout the takeoff roll and the 45 seconds of climb that was recorded. After takeoff, the video depicted a high angle of attack and a steep angle of climb. The tops of each wing were visible throughout the recording. The airplane drifted to the right of the runway centerline, but remained flat in the roll axis.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on November 1, 1999, and he reported 71 total hours of flight experience on that date.

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1995 and registered to the owner on January 4, 2017. It was powered by a Suzuki 1.3 liter 4-cylinder engine from a Geo automobile.

According to the owner, the airplane was purchased disassembled and "half restored" from what appeared to be accident damage. He and the pilot completed the repairs and assembly of the airplane using a "build manual" and a set of plans. The airplane had no airframe logbook, no engine logbook, and a condition inspection had not been completed. The owner said the condition inspection was to be completed "before the first flight."

At 1853, the weather reported at Chattanooga Lovell Field (CHA) included few clouds at 25,000 feet, 10 miles visibility, and winds were from 010° at 10 knots. The temperature was 20° C, the dewpoint was -4° C, and the altimeter setting was 30.28 inches of mercury.

Examination of photographs provided by the FAA revealed the airplane came to rest uphill of the initial ground scar, and the wreckage path was oriented about 300°magnetic. Impressions in the grass on either side of the scar were of the same approximate dimensions as the leading edge and span of each wing.

Both wings were uniformly crushed aft in compression, and the fabric covering of each wing was shredded. The empennage remained largely intact. Control continuity could not be established due to the extent of the damage to the remainder of the airframe, and the entanglement of structure and control cabling. Breaks and fractures in cabling and bellcranks examined all presented the appearance of overload failure.

The cockpit area was destroyed, and the instrument panel was separated. The engine cradle was separated and remained attached only by wires and cabling. A nylon "come-along" cargo strap was found entangled with the wreckage. According to the owner, the strap secured sand bags and a board used for ballast.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: STANLEY ERNIE SIGURD
Registration: N9123R
Model/Series: KOLB MARK III
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KCHA, 688 ft msl
Observation Time: 2253 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 9 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 20°C / -4°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 25000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots, 10°
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.28 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Collegedale, TN (FGU)
Destination: Collegedale, TN (FGU)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 35.044444, -85.020000 (est)

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

Robert's Obituary

Gillisse, Robert
10/16/1955 - 4/20/2018 
Ooltewah, Tennessee 

Robert P Gillisse, 62, of Ooltewah, Tennessee, passed on Friday 20th, 2018. Robert was born in Bay City Michigan. He is a 20 year veteran in the Army. He had a passion to fly and with Jenne traveled to world for their retirement. Robert had a passion for the Lord. He is survived by his wife of 32 years Jenne Nowak Gillisse, his parents Joseph and Joyce Gillisse, brother Roger and Sister Susan Gillisse. No memorial service is planned.

Airport officials said the pilot was killed. He has been identified as 62-year-old Robert Gillisse, of Ooltewah.

UPDATE April 21 at 2:12 p.m.: The man killed in the plane crash Friday evening has been identified as Robert Gillisse, 62, of Ooltewah. 

One person was killed early Friday evening in a single-engine plane crash at the Collegedale Municipal Airport.

Airport officials said the pilot, who has yet to be identified by authorities, was alone and taking off when the two-seat plane crashed a couple dozen yards off the airstrip. Emergency responders at the scene put up sheets over a portion of the crash as the body was removed later Friday.

"It's always sad when something like this happens," said Chris Swain, director of operations at the airport.

Previous crashes at the Collegedale Airport:

September 2014: Don Edens was killed when his plane crashed in a nearby field as a result of equipment failure.

March 2013: Local resident David Richardson, 77, fell out of an aircraft and was killed after the canopy came loose in flight. The instructor pilot landed the plane.

December 2012: Clarence Andrews, 82, of Signal Mountain, crashed his home-built aircraft and died.

December 2004: A single-engine plane crashed but the lone pilot walked away.

December 2004: Five leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tennessee and Georgia died when their twin-engine plane crashed just after takeoff.

Details are limited about the circumstances behind the crash, but this is not the first fatal incident at the Collegedale airport. Five other planes have crashed at the airport since 2004 resulting in 11 fatalities.

Three of those deaths came in a particularly tragic incident in 2016 when a pilot tried to recover from a botched landing just before hitting the ground, according to a report compiled by the National Transportation Safety Board. The pilot, Todd Silver, was killed along with his mother and his son. His daughter was seriously injured but survived.

The Times Free Press reported previously that a flight instructor who was flying with a student nearby witnessed the crash. He told NTSB investigators that he saw the plane coming in on a short final approach.

The plane made a climbing turn to the left near the departure end of the runway, about 100 feet off the ground, and then made a steep bank to the right with the nose pulled high.

During that turn, the plane's nose dropped and the whole aircraft rotated as it rapidly descended into the ground.

The plane then slammed into the ground, leaving a 70-foot-long scar in the ground, according to the NTSB.

Swain said both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified about Friday's crash and investigators were expected to work through the night to unpack what happened.

COLLEGEDALE, TN (WRCB) - UPDATE: One person was killed in a plane crash at the Collegedale municipal airport Friday evening.

The crash happened just before 6:30 p.m.

Channel 3 spoke to the director of airport operations about the crash. At this time the identity of the pilot has not been released and what caused the crash is under investigation.

We do know that the pilot was the only one in the aircraft and frequently used the Collegedale airport.

Channel 3 spoke with an eyewitness who lives about 150 yards from the crash site.

Morty Lloyd says he is also a pilot. He says today was nice day to be flying and he couldn’t see anything wrong with the plane. He says there was no smoke coming from the aircraft and the engine was running smoothly.

He describes what he saw from his back porch.

“He made a downwind turn and as he continued downwind he made a base turn as if he were turning towards the runway," Lloyd tells Channel 3. "The airplane had a steep dive, the engine was producing power, but the airplane never came out of the dive and it ended up hitting the hillside next to the runway.”

The FAA will begin investigating the crash Saturday at 10:00 a.m.

There will be security on the scene throughout the night.

Story and video ➤

APISON, Tenn. (WTVC) - One person is dead after a fatal plane crash in Hamilton County.  

Chris Swain, director of the Collegedale Municipal Airport, confirmed a person has died after the plane crashed on the runway Friday. 

Dispatch said the crash happened around 6:30 p.m. near 5100 Bess Moore Road in Apison, Tennessee.  

Swain said the single-occupant plane was taking off when it crashed. The plane is considered a total loss. 

The FAA and NTSB have been notified and are on the way to the scene. 

The identity of the person killed has not yet been released.  

Director Swain says that the victim has often flown from the airport. 

Original article can be found here ➤

APISON, Tenn. — UPDATE (8:40 p.m.):  Chris Swain, director of the Collegedale Municipal Airport, says a person has died after a plane crash on the runway Friday.

Swain says the aircraft was taking off when it crashed. The plane is considered a total loss.

The FAA and NTSB have been notified, and will investigate the crash. Swain says the FAA will be on the scene around 10 a.m. Saturday

We do not yet know the identity of the person killed in the crash. Director Swain says that the victim was a frequent flier from the airport.

This isn't the first plane to crash at the Collegedale Municipal Airport.

In June 2016, a small plane crashed while trying to land there, killing a man, his wife and son.

Original article can be found here ➤

Jon and Patricia Sharp: Work and marriage in the fast lane

Champion air racers Jon and Patricia Sharp designed and built the most successful plane in air racing history.

They are the Sharps and they are the “King and Queen of Speed,” but why does it matter to be the fastest?

Champion air racers Jon and Patricia Sharp designed and built the most successful plane in air racing history, Nemesis: “Nemesis set 16 world speed records and won 45 of the 48 contests it entered before its retirement in 1999,”according to the National Air and Space Museum’s website.

They are coming to the National Air and Space Museum on Thursday April 26 to talk about their work and their marriage in the fast lane.

When asked what kind of couple they are, Patricia answered with one word: happy. Do they have children? “When we got married, we talked about whether we wanted kids or airplanes, and there was a unanimous decision to do airplanes,” answered Jon.

They first met on an airplane and two years later they were married, said Patricia. “I’ve been in aviation since I was 2 weeks old; I used to fly with my dad all the time. I love airplanes; I always wanted to be at the airport; I just like to fly, and it’s my thing. So, I met Jon, and it just worked. It was meant to be.”

Jon, I know that you are a composite engineer, so how did you become interested in designing your own aircraft?

JON: Well, it actually started way, way back when I used to race anything and everything I could find: tricycles, pedal cars, cars, you name it.

So you were into racing…even as a child?

JON: Yes, I built model airplanes when I was younger, and when I was older too, and I even used to race those. So that was what sparked my interest in aviation. And a friend of mine showed up at a place where I work, and I looked outside and saw his car and he had a license plate which said “I’d rather be flying” on it. And I asked him, “You fly?” and he said, “Yeah, I just got my instructor’s rating.” And I said, “I’ve always thought about flying.” And he said, “Well, if you want to be my student, I won’t charge you for my time, you would just pay for the plane.” So that’s how I got started on flying, and it naturally transitioned from just flying to racing flying.

You were able to afford to design your own aircraft?

JON: The afford part really falls into my wife; she’s the fundraiser, so to speak.

PATRICIA: So, what I wanted to do with the first plane and also the second plane is bring in sponsors, and the sponsors were the ones that helped us be able to afford to not only build our planes, but also to race them. We gave them a lot of exposure throughout the years. And we’ve been on everything. When Discovery Channel first started, we were on Discovery quite a bit; we were on the front page of LA Times and we were on CNN. We gave them a lot of exposure because we were just something unique that people wanted to talk about.

Jon, you learned to fly later in life …

JON: I just learned to fly general aviation aircraft, because I was a member of the military, so I just learned to fly small planes: Sepnas, Mooneys, you name it. What connected me with the racing program, Racing Thoughts, was that I was getting tired of renting an airplane when I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was going to build a plane, a kid plane, and a friend of mine that I worked with, she said, “Well, there’s this neat little race plane in my hanger that’s for sale.” And so I looked at that, and I bought that plane for $5,000 way back in 1975, 1976, something like that. I was just having fun with it, flying it around, and then I took it to my very first race in 1978 in Mexicali, Mexico. And that plane eventually evolved into winning two championships at Reno; that plane, when I got it was called “Bilbo” from the book “The Hobbit,” and it eventually became named “Aeromagic” and we won two championships with it in 1982 and 1986. So we reached the evolutionary peak of that airplane, and that’s when we decided to build the first little Formula 1 Nemesis.

Patricia, can you tell me more about your role?

PATRICIA: My role with both planes was taking care of the team, making sure they had breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all the water, all the sodas, whatever they needed; credentials to get in the races, making reservations for them, picking them up from the airport and getting car passes for them. I basically took care of them, because they were what made us successful. For the second plane, I did all that, plus I became composite fabricator, so I built the parts to make the plane a full plane.

Jeremy Kinney, one of the aviation curators at the National Air and Space Museum explained to Fairfax Times why this upcoming lecture is important, “Jon and Patricia Sharp and their remarkable air racing team are the epitome of engineering creativity, innovation, and competition at the highest levels of motorsports. Their high performance championship-winning aircraft, Nemesis and Nemesis NXT, have set the standard for what air racers can and should be.”

In 2000, the Sharps began creating Nemesis NXT, or “the pink beast.” With a top speed of 415.75 mph, Nemesis NXT dominated the competition at the 2009 National Championship Air Races with a “record a day, and two on Sunday”—and it set four world speed records in 2015. Nemesis is currently on display at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center and will be joined by Nemesis NXT this spring, according to the National Air and Space Museum’s website.

“Meet the King and Queen of Speed”

National Air and Space Museum

Independence Ave. 6th St., S.W., Washington, D.C.

Thursday, April 26, 8 p.m.

Free, tickets required.

For more information, visit

Original article can be found here ➤

Liberty County establishing aviation unit for use of drones in law enforcement work

Press release from the Liberty County Sheriff's Office:

The Liberty County Sheriff’s Office has joined the growing trend across the United States among both small and large law enforcement agencies in establishing an aviation unit and utilizing the new and growing technology of small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles ( UAV) for a multitude of assignments. The Unmanned Aerial System ( UAS ) that was put into full operation this week has been placed under the command of the Special Operation Division of the Sheriff’s Office after the agency purchased a Phantom 4 Pro Plus small unmanned aircraft with funds secured through court-awarded confiscated drug money.

Sheriff Bobby Rader explains that it has taken several months to get this program up and going. We had to gather the information that was needed to write rules and put together a policy that would address many issues. Once the policy was written we had Liberty County District Attorney Logan Pickett review it to assure it met all local and state legal requirements. The policy was then given to the Policy and Review Committee of the Sheriff’s Office to be certain the policy would meet all agency requirements, goals and objectives and to assure transparency of the UAV operations. The Sheriff went on to say he wanted to make sure the policy would prohibit the violations of anyone’s privacy rights and, in his opinion, that has been done and now additional flight training of both pilots and observers will begin.

It is stressed by Sheriff Rader that the main objectives of this program will be to save lives in the event of a disaster, find lost children and adults and help in the gathering of data needed to investigate a crime scene. The Sheriff said he believes this system has the ability to take away advantages that a tactical shooter may have in a school or commercial area. The Department of Public Safety already uses a system like this to survey fatal accidents as well as several fire departments across the nation to survey areas where there may be hazardous materials and fires so they may plan their strategy.

In November, Deputy Sean Mitchell attended a week long school presented by the Remote Pilot In Command School in Wichita Falls, Texas studying for his FAA examination which covered such subjects as aeronautical knowledge, flight characteristics, weather patterns, how to read aeronautical charts, introduction to law enforcement use of small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and a multitude of other FAA related requirements. Upon completion of the school and testing by the Federal Aviation Administration ( FAA ), Deputy Mitchell earned his “Remote Pilot Certificate” in Part 107 dealing with small unmanned vehicles and is now the Pilot in Command of the Sheriff’s new Aviation Unit.

Dep. Mitchell has already assisted in two high profile cases where photos of the event scene could be critical in a court setting. One was in assisting the DPS in a four car fatal wreck on Hwy. 321 and another where the path traveled by a child later found drowned was flown to determine characteristics of the scene.

The UAV, by FAA regulations, has a height restricted to 400’ so in addition to the pilot there will always be an observer with Dep. Mitchell to help watch for any low flying aircraft, power lines or other nearby obstructions that could create a flight hazard for the small aircraft.

As technology of all kinds continues to move along rapidly in our technical society and more demands are placed upon public service agencies, the growing use of UAV’s in modern police work is a natural progression in investigative techniques just as DNA, polygraph examinations, fingerprinting, computers and so many other devises have been.

Original article can be found here ➤

Meriden Markham Municipal Airport (KMMK) seeks funds to replace WWII-era hangar

MERIDEN — City Councilor and Finance Committee Chairman Brian Daniels asked aviation officials to bring back more details on plans to replace a World War II-era Quonset hut at Meriden-Markham Airport.

Wilma Petro, the city’s liaison to the airport, is seeking new bids on the cost to demolish and rebuild the hut that would house up to six planes. 

”It was originally $375,000 to demolish and rebuild,” Petro said. 

Petro said Russell Ford, the former facilities director, estimated the cost at $375,000 and it was inserted as a line item in the city’s capital improvement budget. But Petro thinks she can put it out to bid to lower it.

“It has to be entirely replaced,” Daniels said. “Wilma is going to get more accurate cost estimates. We’ll move it from the capital improvement budget and they can come back later in the year when they have more specifics.” 

Airport director Constance Costello said the quonset hut can hold six larger planes that require more security than a tie down. After building four new hangars in recent years, Meriden Markham still has a waiting list of 65 pilots in need of storage space. Much of the increase in small craft storage comes from airports such as Oxford-Waterbury, Tweed, and Brainard accepting more corporate jets, thus sending the smaller craft to Meriden, Robertson, and Chester. 

“We’ve been going before the committee to educate them on the airport,” Costello said. “This is an income producing building.”

Petro said although the hut can accommodate six planes, five pilots are willing to pay extra to keep only five in there and avoid having to move them. 

Costello said it was generating $15,000 in annual income but the airport can expect between $18,000 and $20,000 with a new building.

“We’re looking toward the future,” Petro said. “We’re putting up some bigger hangers. Bigger planes are flying into our airport. We are building hangars that will hold bigger planes.”

Original article ➤

Town Grounds Blade Flights to East Hampton

Two days after the East Hampton Town Board heard a presentation on how it might restrict flights at East Hampton Airport, the board revoked a license agreement with Fly Blade, which offers scheduled and charter helicopter flights to East Hampton.

The town also authorized the town attorney to file a complaint with the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings of the United States Department of Transportation asking for a review of Blade's practices and its consistency with federal obligations.

The board charged that Fly Blade, Inc., with which the town entered into a license agreement in 2016, is deceptively marketing itself as offering scheduled passenger service to East Hampton Airport. The airport is not certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to accommodate scheduled passenger service.

Edward Burke Jr., a Sag Harbor attorney representing the company, issued a statement on Friday that Blade had not been notified of the change by anyone from East Hampton Town. He also said that the company complies with Department of Transportation requirements.

As of Friday afternoon, Blade's website offered scheduled flights to the South Fork, including a 5:30 p.m. flight from the West 30th Street Heliport to East Hampton Airport, at $795 per seat. A 5:15 p.m. flight from Manhattan to East Hampton via seaplane, at $695 per seat, was sold out. Seats to East Hampton Airport could be booked as far out as late August.

A statement issued by the town on Thursday said that Blade has previously been investigated by the Department of Transportation and was "determined to have violated federal law by engaging in air transportation as a direct and indirect air carrier without economic authority." As a result of the violations, the company signed a consent agreement with the department and paid a $40,000 fine.

In an add-on resolution on Thursday night, the town board voted to revoke the 2016 license agreement and said it would not issue Blade a new license until the company complies with Department of Transportation and FAA rules.

"Our small, local general aviation airport is not designed for scheduled air service" and that the town "will not tolerate operators violating the law, especially when the safety of the flying public is jeopardized by unfair and deceptive business practices of operators," Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, the town board's co-liaison for East Hampton Airport, said in Thursday's release.

"The town faces a steep increase in air traffic through businesses that appear to offer, in advance, scheduled passenger service to the airport, either through smartphone applications or by offering scheduled passenger service to the public directly," Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said in the release. "It has an obligation not just to ensure that the airport remains safe for all users, but also that adequate disclosures are made to the travelling public with respect to commercial arrangements at the airport."

Councilman Jeffrey Bragman, the other co-liaison for the airport, said in the same release that, "Until such time that they prove that they are in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, they have no place at East Hampton Airport. Ride sharing of helicopters which masquerades as scheduled service is damaging to our community and small airport."

The town's decision followed Tuesday's long discussion between the board and Bill O'Conner, an attorney assisting the town with an analysis known as an FAA Part 161 study, which airports must perform when proposing local noise or operational restrictions on aircraft. The study is part of a new effort to exert control over noise that has long plagued people living under East Hampton Airport flight paths.

The board is focusing on potential ways to restrict, or even ban, aircraft deemed noisy, including helicopters. Officials hope that the Part 161 study will be completed and be ready to submit in the fall.

Original article can be found here ➤

Horry County councilor's contract with county increases 32 percent in one year

Al Allen, of Horry County Council and Allen Aviation, talks about the unique customers at each of the four county airports at the Conway-Horry County Airport.

Two Horry County councilors have companies that make money off contracts with Horry County, according to their statements of economic interest. And one saw his contract increase by more than 30 percent last year.

Those statements must be filed by March 30 of each year, and cover all elected officials’ sources of income and assets during the previous calendar year as well as the amount of any government contracts they have.

Al Allen, a county councilor since 2007, disclosed $65,625 from Allen Aviation’s contract with the county. Council Chair Mark Lazarus’s waterpark, Wild Water and Wheels, has a $19,500 contract.

Allen’s wife, school board member Shanda Allen, is the president of Allen Aviation. Al Allen is the registered agent and chief pilot. Al Allen's county biography says he started the company in 2000.

In 2016, Allen aviation got $49,550 from the county for mosquito spraying. In 2017, the amount increased 32 percent to $65,625.

From 2014 through 2016, Allen Aviation charged 55 cents per acre for areas sprayed by a single-engine plane and 60 cents per acre for areas sprayed by a twin-engine plane, according to the company’s contract.

But in April of 2017, the rates increased to 75 cents per acre for the single-engine plane and 90 cents per acre for areas sprayed by a twin-engine plane, according to the contract. County records show all the 2017 flights were conducted after the contract rate increase.

Despite the rate increase, Allen Aviation was still the lowest bidder.

Williamsburg Air and Clark Environmental Mosquito Management also bid on the work, and both submitted a higher price per acre than Allen Aviation. Williamsburg Air offered 96 cents per acre for twin-engine and single-engine plane spraying. Clark Environmental would have charged more than a dollar per acre for spraying.

Allen would not talk on the phone, citing spotty cell phone coverage.

In an email, Allen said, “Many factors contribute to a rate increase in this type of service such as insurance cost, fuel cost, along with supply and demand as with any other business.”

The acreage increased as well. In 2016, Allen Aviation sprayed 90,000 acres using only a single-engine plane, according to county records. In 2017, under the increased rates, the company sprayed 92,500 acres, including 12,500 acres with the twin-engine plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration puts restrictions on single-engine planes used for agricultural purposes over "congested" areas, which may account for the twin-engine flight.

Neighboring counties pay a little less for spraying. Charleston county pays Williamsburg Air 88 cents per acre for spraying done from a twin-engine plane, according to Charleston County spokesperson Shawn Smetana.

Williamsburg Air also contracts with Georgetown County for mosquito spraying and charges 77 cents per acre for spraying done with a twin-engine plane, according to Georgetown County spokesperson Jackie Broach.

Original article ➤

Piper PA-28R-200 Arrow, N8564N: Incident occurred April 20, 2018 in Myrtle Beach, Horry County, South Carolina

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; South Carolina

Aircraft reported oil pressure loss and landed on a highway.

C & W Flying Inc:

Date: 20-APR-18
Time: 16:50:00Z
Regis#: N8564N
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA 28R 200
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: NONE
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Operation: 91

Pilot Donald Crotty hugs a Myrtle Beach International Airport employee after performing an emergency landing in his private plane on International Drive in Myrtle Beach on April 20, 2018. 

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Donald Crotty and his wife made it to the Myrtle Beach area, although they were roughly eight miles short of their intended landing zone.

The Pennsylvania couple were traveling to the Grand Strand with their dog in a single-engine plane when the aircraft started losing oil pressure mid-flight.

Crotty, who has been flying for 40 years, knew he had to find somewhere else to land, since making it to the airport didn’t look to be a possibility.

Fortunately, he saw the still-under-construction International Drive, which was free of any vehicles.

“All you could say was good place, really,” Crotty said when recalling how he felt when he spotted the road from the air.

Crotty landed the plane on International Drive Friday afternoon, and he, his wife and their four-legged companion were able to walk away from that landing.

“You’ve got to have nerves of steel,” Crotty said.

Shortly afterward, the veteran pilot admitted he was still shaken up by the experience, but credits a higher power with the safe landing.

“God was with me. God was with me,” he said.

Crews with Horry County Fire Rescue and North Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue responded to International Drive near Highway 31 after the small airplane landed on the road.

Story and video ➤

Sherry Crotty and her dog Rocky after Crotty performed an emergency landing on International Drive in Myrtle Beach on April 20, 2018.

A couple on their "freedom flight" to celebrate retirement landed their plane on an unfinished section of International Drive outside of Myrtle Beach after the engine blew.

"You don't panic, you don't panic," said Sherry Crotty. " You just look for a place to put it down safely."

Sherry, her husband and pilot Donald and their dog Rocky all escaped injury in the incident. The plane landed on the road near S.C. 31 at about 1 p.m. on Friday. 

The plane came to a stop about a mile from the Academy for Arts, Science and Technology in a section still being paved and not open to traffic.

Sherry was complimentary of her husband, noting he didn't hit an orange construction barrel that lined the roadway as he landed the plane.

Donald said they were about eight miles from the Myrtle Beach Airport when the engine blew.

"It just stuttered, shut off and you could see smoke coming off the engine cockpit," he said.

He said he told air traffic controllers about his plan. At about 1,700 feet he spotted the unused road, which Donald described as the "safest place in the world" to land.

Before takeoff, and at landing, Donald said he says a little prayer when he flies.

"God was with me," Donald said.

The couple traveled from Hagerstown, Maryland to Myrtle Beach and planned to spend 12 days in the area.

Sherry Crotty said the two sold many possessions, but not the plane, which they've owned for 40 years. Both hold pilots licenses and Donald has a commercial license, Sherry said.

About a year ago, the engine blew and was then overhauled, Sherry said.

The wings will be removed from the plane and the vessel will be taken by truck back to the Pennsylvania home, Sherry said.

James Major lives three miles from where the plane landed. A friend called him as the plane had difficulty in the air over their homes.

Major, who flies himself and lost loved ones in a plane crash, tracked the flight online as it descended. He initially through it landed in the trees only to arrive and see it landed safely.

"It's my worst fear," Major said about watching the plane lose altitude.

Horry County Fire and Rescue, North Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue and Horry County Police responded to the scene.

Story and video ➤