Sunday, November 25, 2018

Helicopter-Leasing Company Waypoint Files for Bankruptcy: Company says it expects to emerge from bankruptcy protection under new ownership

Michael Dell’s family investment firm is among the backers of helicopter-leasing business Waypoint Leasing.  

The Wall Street Journal
By Patrick Fitzgerald
Updated November 25, 2018 6:06 p.m. ET

Waypoint Leasing Holdings Ltd., a helicopter-leasing business focused on serving offshore oil drillers and backed by Michael Dell and George Soros, filed for bankruptcy protection on Sunday and put its business on the auction block.

Hooman Yazhari, Waypoint’s chief executive, said the bankruptcy is “the next step” in the company’s bid to restructure its balance sheet. Waypoint has been in talks with lenders for months and after putting itself up for sale has received bids from “numerous parties,” according to a statement.

The company, which will continue operating during the chapter 11 case, says it expects to emerge from bankruptcy protection under new ownership.

Based in Limerick, Ireland, Waypoint owns more than 160 aircraft, and the company’s investors include MSD Capital, Michael Dell’s family investment firm; George Soros’s Quantum Strategic Partners and private-equity firm Cartesian Capital Group, LLC.

A Waypoint representative wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The company rents its helicopters to businesses that ferry workers and supplies for offshore oil drillers. It listed assets and debts each of $1 billion to $10 billion in a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York.

Waypoint was able to weather the deep downturn in oil prices that began in 2014, which saw benchmark U.S. crude prices hit a 15-year low. Oil prices eventually rebounded, but with U.S. crude again falling to around $50 a barrel, energy companies are cutting back on production, which could hurt demand for Waypoint’s helicopters.

The downturn that began in 2014 forced one of Waypoint’s biggest customers, CHC Group, to file for bankruptcy protection two years later. The helicopter operator emerged from chapter 11 protection under the control of its bondholders in 2017.

Mr. Yazhari, CHC’s former general counsel, replaced Waypoint founder Ed Washecka as Waypoint’s chief executive earlier this year.

The company’s bankruptcy advisers include law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, investment bank Houlihan Lokey Capital, financial adviser FTI Consulting and corporate adviser Accenture LLP.

The case number is 18-13648

Original article can be found here ➤

Newly-acquired Zimbabwe Boeing 'sold to United States firm for spare parts'

One of the Boeing aircraft recently bought by Zimbabwe for a new state airline has been sold to a United States firm for spare parts, a newspaper has claimed.

Zimbabwe is reported to have acquired four Boeing 777s from Malaysia Airlines, though only two were paid for.

Kansas-based buyer

Now one of the planes has been sold to Kansas-based Jet Midwest, claims the private Daily News.

"Jet Midwest is in the business of buying used aircraft from airlines and selling them for spares, leasing them or selling them off to other players," the paper said. 

Former transport minister Joram Gumbo confirmed to the Daily News that one of Zimbabwe Airways' planes was in the United States, but would not say why.

Earlier this year one of the new Boeing aircraft landed at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, painted in fresh Zimbabwe colors, and bearing the name Zimbabwe Airways.

Looking for investor

It was unclear how the newly-named airline would operate alongside the old debt-saddled Air Zimbabwe, though both are said to be state-owned.

Since acquiring the new plane, Zimbabwe Airways has not conducted a single commercial flight, and the plane delivered to Harare was sent back to Malaysia.

Last week the government said it would float a tender for an investor to turn around the fortunes of Air Zimbabwe, the state-run Chronicle said. 

Original article can be found here ➤

On one of United Airlines' busiest days of the year, here's an inside look at the high-tech simulation hub the company uses to train its pilots

United Airlines expects to fly 2.2 million travelers this weekend. The airline will operate more than 5,300 flights on the Sunday after Thanksgiving alone.

CNBC got an inside look at the United Airlines Flight Training Center in Denver to find out what it takes to become a pilot of a commercial airline. At nearly half a million square feet, this facility is one of the world's largest airline training hubs. All of United's 12,000 pilots come through for initial training and return every nine months to stay up to date on flight procedures and safety protocols. The campus has 31 simulators, each costing $15 million to $20 million. And United plans to have a total of 40 in the next 12 to 18 months. Pilots must complete training in the simulators before flying in real planes.

Watch what it was like for CNBC's Erin Black to fly a United Airlines Airbus A320 simulator. 

Video ➤

Yampa Valley Regional Airport (KHDN) readies for winter season

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With the start of winter airline flight service three weeks away, Yampa Valley Regional Airport employees were busy Saturday dealing with the snow and and white-out conditions.

“There are some piles out there today,” said Todd Dubois, the maintenance supervisor who was overseeing six people who were trying to keep the runway clear and the parking lots safe.

Winter flights will not start arriving until Dec. 15, but the crew at YVRA has to keep the airport running for daily Denver flights at well as the commercial jets that were scheduled to arrive Saturday afternoon.

“That’s why they’re working so hard right now,” Airport Director Kevin Booth said while driving through some recently completed improvement projects.

The projects included demolishing the old administration building to make room for a new airplane parking spot to bring the total up to seven spots.

To make that parking spot capable of supporting heavy aircraft, construction workers dug 4 feet down. They then put in 2 feet of base material, 8 inches of asphalt and then 13 inches of concrete.

“That’s what you have to have to park a 767 aircraft,” Booth said.

Improvements were done using grants from the federal government.

This season, three planes will be able to have de-icing done at the same time, which will make run the airport run more efficiently, Booth said.

He said about 102,000 people are expected to depart from YVRA this winter, which is similar to last winter.

To meet the demand, Routt County will employ about 80 people. Additionally, there will be more than 100 people working for SkyWest, which provides operational services for the airlines.

New this year, JetBlue will be servicing the airport with three flights from Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Boston, Massachusetts and Long Beach, California.

JetBlue will be operating a 150-seat aircraft and the airport remodeled their waiting area to accommodate more passengers with windows overlooking the tarmac.

Booth said the waiting area will be decorated with photos by photographer Tom Mangelsen.

Booth said JetBlue is excited to have a new destination bringing skiers to Steamboat Springs, and there are plans to have Steamboat Olympians ride on the inaugural flights.

Original article ➤

Angels in Flight: Angel Flight program helps patients get to medical appointments

The Angel Flight plane Rudy Moreno flew to Dallas in for chemotherapy treatment on November 20th, 2018.

Rudy Moreno, center, with Angel Flight Pilot Bobby Varner, left, on an Angel Flight Mission November 20th, 2018 to Dallas.

When Marshall resident Rudy Moreno was diagnosed with aggressive cancer in his stomach, he had to figure out how to access the treatment he needed.

The nonprofit organization Angel Flight South Central flew in to save him.

“It’s been truly a godsend and blessing to me. It takes the load off my family, a load off of me having to get a ride,” Moreno said. “I’m not working and it’s tough, but I can’t say enough good things about them.”

Jim Hurst, of Longview, received the Wright Brothers Award from the Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year. The award recognizes pilots "who have exhibited professionalism, skill and aviation expertise for at least fifty (50) years," according to information provided about the award. Jim Hurst holds an Airline Transport Pilot license and has accumulated more than 10,000 flight hours in fifty-three (53) years,  including; some 240 Angel Flight missions; making a solo North Atlantic Crossing to Europe by way of Canada, Greenland, Iceland and Scotland; flying to 12 countries, including South American countries; flying eight round trips to Alaska; and still flying more than 200 hours each year. 

The program

Angel Flight provides flights at no cost for patients who need to travel for treatments, said Shireen Pitassi, missions director of Dallas-based Angel Flight South Central. The organization relies on pilots who donate their time and fuel. Patients must be ambulatory and not in need of emergency care.

Jim Hurst, principal of Pegues Hurst Ford in Longview, has provided more than 240 Angel Flight missions.

Patients who need transportation for a medical treatment can visit and fill out a form, Hurst said. Once the arrangements are made the flight is posted to an online bulletin for pilots who can log on and select a flight they’re willing to provide.

Hurst flies for the South Central region which includes Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and part of Mississippi.

“So in my case I go on there and I’m thinking, ‘I’m not doing anything Saturday; I want to take a flight,’ so I go on the website and I go down to Saturday and I look at all the flights and I go, ‘Well a Hot Springs to Houston is one that’s in my area,’ so I click on it and Angel Flight e-mails me all the material — patient’s name, when they need to be there, when they need to return, how many people there will be. Sometimes a husband or wife or mother or father will come,” he said.

From there, Hurst gets in contact with the patient and final arrangements are made.

Jim Hurst's Beechcraft Bonanza plane has provided in more than 240 Angel Flights.

The treatment

Once the plane lands, Ground Angels arrive to help transport the patient to and from the hospital for treatment.

Many patients need cancer treatment, Hurst said.

“I went into Longview Regional and they found a mass, and it turned out to be stage 4 cancer,” Moreno said. “It was an aggressive cancer. The oncologist saw me and they said they had a better facility in Dallas, so it sprung up on me in the last minute. Going to treatment is pretty aggressive. It’s an aggressive cancer so it needs aggressive treatment.”

Patients such as Moreno, who are in pain and who can get sick from chemotherapy treatments, would be uncomfortable in a car for a long drive to and from treatment.

“I have flown people that didn’t have a dime. I have flown doctors’ wives, people that had plenty of money, but it’s the convenience of being able to get to your appointment in a couple of hours as opposed to having to drive or try to get on an airline,” Hurst said. “It makes you realize how lucky you are because some of these people are real sick. I’ve had them throwing up all the way back because chemo makes them sick. I don’t have sick sacks. I carry those big garbage bags. It’s not their fault they’re just so ill.”


Angel Flight is not a one-time service. Patients who qualify can continue to use Angel Flight for multiple treatments. Angel Flight South Central has provided more than 32,000 flights since 1991. Similar organizations operate in other areas around the country.

Moreno began using Angel Flight for round four of his treatment, and then again for round five. Soon, he will take flight with the service again for round six.

“Angel Flight said as long as you need us we’ll be here, and that’s comforting because I thought it was just a one-time thing,” Moreno said. “They help a lot of people. They truly are angels at Angel Flight.”

For Hurst, helping people through Angel Flight is rewarding because he gets to see their healing process and follow their journey.

“The amount of money it costs me — I could give to the cancer society and it could do well, but what you do see is this really helps one person and they appreciate it and you can see what you gave or donated really affected someone,” Hurst said. “You get to know them pretty good.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Hearing impaired pilot lands plane at Bishop International Airport (KFNT)

For the first time in 27 years, Flint Bishop International Airport used its technology to assist a hearing impaired pilot to land a plane.

Since Denese Krumm can’t hear they used a special light to communicate with her to help land the plane.

“I really appreciate this opportunity also to be able to spread awareness,” Krumm said. “You know, deaf pilots we can do everything except hear. It’s just nice to have this opportunity to spread awareness.”

Krumm flew to give her special needs friend from Flint a ride to be with his family for Thanksgiving.

She’s grateful Flint Bishop made special accommodations for them.

Story and video ➤

Pilots who use popular airport app commenting they like Western Nebraska Regional Airport (KBFF)

SCOTTSBLUFF — In today’s flying economy, pilots want to know as much as they can about an airport before they begin their flight. Western Nebraska Regional Airport has been receiving positive reviews about the airport from people who are not residents to the area through the use of an app focused on providing pilots up-to-date information and reviews on the locations they are flying to.

Airport Board Secretary/Treasurer Neal Smith said he has seen some of the reviews, which has rated The Flight Deck Restaurant, the ability to rent cars, the airline and the general facilities available at the airport. Jeff Robbins, airport board member, said it’s common for people to look ahead before traveling to see the capabilities of the airport.

“I look at fuel prices, approaches and hangar availability,” Robbins said. “I look at the comments, what services are there, amenities and then decide if I want to land there or not.”

Upon his most recent check of ForeFlight, an electronic flight bag (EFB) app, Robbins said he saw a lot of good comments about the airport. Comments included the helpful assistance of Dick Bosn, owner of Valley Airways, to how much they enjoy the Flight Deck Restaurant. One comment read, “flew in over the weekend to have lunch, gentleman fueled me up while I ate, great brisket at Flight Deck.”

An EFB is an app that replaces the large flight bags pilots used to carry. Those bags had everything a pilot needed, including paper maps, paper flight plans, paper facility directories, paper manuals and paper flight procedures. Everything was in book form. A flight bag could easily weigh 50 pounds.

ForeFlight is one of several EFBs that make a pilot’s life a little easier.

“Within that app is the ability to see virtually live post comments about different locations,” Robbins said. “It’s a replacement for the small suitcase that pilots had to drag around with them.”

Robbins uses the app when he flies, but said it was always good to know what the public perception is of your own airport to not only gauge public opinion but to be able to spot changes that may need to be made.

Smith said these apps are a valuable resource so the airport board can stay abreast of any concerns that may come up.

“It’s nice to be able to monitor the perception of people outside our community,” Smith said.

Members of the airport board asked Airport Director Raul Aguallo if it was something he could keep up on and report about. Aguallo said it is something that could be done quarterly as a proactive move to always make the airport better.

Aguallo also said the website for the Western Nebraska Regional Airport is due for an upgrade in the near future. Today, most people turn to searching for information online, particularly younger generations, and the airport is aware of the need to make their information more accessible.

“Everything is going digital,” Aguallo said. “If we don’t get there, we will be behind.”

Staff are working with a web designer on design and implementation, which would include more information about the airport through interactives, pictures and more. Aguallo would also like board member and staff biographies and pictures as well as links to vendors at the airport.

“If it’s airport-related, we should be able to have it on there (the site),” Aguallo said. “We’re still doing some research, but it is something we will certainly do.”

Original article can be found here ➤

AirLift Northwest’s Randy Nash: Flying to Save Lives

Randy Nash’s job is about as far removed as you can get from a normal 9 to 5 gig. As a medivac helicopter pilot stationed at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, he spends many workhours thousands of feet in the air, above splendid scenery, transporting patients with sometimes life-threatening conditions. It is, both literally and figuratively, a life of highs and lows.

“I love my job,” says Nash. “It’s the best job I’ve ever had.”

Nash works for AirLift Northwest, a nonprofit medivac program affiliated with the University of Washington Medical Center. The company has five helicopter bases in Washington, with Bellingham’s being the farthest north. Nash is a senior pilot at the Bellingham base, which has four pilots who all operate the EC135 Eurocopter.

“We consider ourselves a part of the community,” Nash says of the work he and other AirLift NW pilots do. “We’re very, very proud to be here and be able to serve the community when we can, in any way we can.”

Learning to Fly

An Oak Harbor native, Nash always wanted to fly. He grew up with a father who flew Navy jets, and after high school, he followed his father into the military. Nash joined the Air Force and became an avionics technician, fixing radio and navigation systems on various aircraft.

But after four years stuck on the ground, he decided he’d rather be responsible for breaking aircraft than fixing them. Nash went to college and then joined the Navy, where he became a pilot stationed everywhere from Florida to Hawaii. He flew a variety of helicopters, including the SH-60 Seahawk – the Navy’s version of the Army’s Black Hawk helicopter – often taking off from the backs of destroyers and frigates.

Eventually, Nash found himself back home, stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island as the officer-in-charge of a search and rescue unit. It was his last assignment, and in 2003 – after 20 years in the Navy – he retired.

That retirement, however, was only from the military. Nash looked at other types of work, and decided to try the air medical field. He applied to several programs, hoping to stay local, and after a year in Arizona, wound up stationed in Bellingham, not far from the Skagit County home he shares with his wife, a local mental health counselor.

“I love the area,” Nash says. “Family, friends; everything’s here. You couldn’t find a more beautiful place to ply the aviation trade.”

The Daily Grind

Nash works 12-hour shifts, 7 days a week, with alternating day and nighttime schedules. After a week of working from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., he gets a week off before returning for a week of 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. shifts.  The base averages two to three patient flights a day, Nash says. Once, he did six flights in a single day. Over a week of day shifts, he averages 15 trips. At night, it’s generally less busy. Some nights, Nash never even leaves the ground.

Nash and other AirLift NW pilots show up for work at a building next to PeaceHealth St. Joseph, not far from the helipad. Similar to a firehouse, they’re constantly on-call but have access to numerous amenities. There’s a kitchen, bedrooms, cable TV and workout equipment to pass the time, in addition to keeping their education and training sharp.

When their pagers go off, they’ll drop what they’re doing and head for the helicopter. Nash says pilots work hard to minimize the time between pager beep and liftoff. In clear weather, it’s usually about five minutes. Nash has airlifted patients to Portland and Spokane, but often winds up visiting Harborview Medical Center, the area’s level 1 trauma center. He also frequently travels between PeaceHealth St. Joseph and the San Juan Islands, because when ferries stop running, nighttime medical emergencies necessitate a chopper or sheriff’s boat ride.

Each flight consists of the pilot and two nurses, plus the patient. One of the biggest variables for each sojourn, Nash says, is weight. How much fuel do they need, and how much weight will the patient add to the helicopter’s load capacity and fuel burn?

The other big variable is weather. AirLift NW pilots can legally fly by Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), meaning in low visibility conditions through dense clouds. However, the Puget Sound region’s microclimates, combined with small airfields that don’t always report current weather, mean pilots must carefully weigh whether they can safely retrieve a patient.

“We have to be really professional and really smart about the decisions we make,” Nash says. “There are times when I’m sitting here, looking at the weather, and I just can’t go. Either legally, because of FAA restrictions, or just because of the weather. And it’s hard to sit here in a nice, warm building and know that somebody is out there somewhere, in a life or death situation, and you can’t help. That’s a very emotionally straining situation that everybody who does this for a living has to figure out how to deal with.”

Despite his professionalism, some situations get to Nash emotionally.

“Anytime I’m flying a child is difficult,” he says, noting he’s had to keep parents from riding with their children, unable to spare extra weight to take them along. Recently, Nash flew to the San Juans to pick up a two-year-old boy. When he got there, the ambulance doors were open, revealing the child on his dad’s lap, smiling.

“Generally speaking, if we load a youngster into the back of a helicopter, and that child is crying, that’s always a good thing,” he says. “It’s the ones who are really quiet that really make it hard.”

The job of shuttling people in precarious situations, Nash says, has changed the way he looks at life and death.

“It’s made me very much appreciate my health,” he says. “We transport patients that are my age or younger that have ailments that just absolutely shock me.”

One such instance occurred several years ago. Nash flew into a hospital to pick up a woman who’d had a brain hemorrhage. Walking into the ER lobby, he glimpsed a group of men dressed in tuxedos. In the trauma room, he saw the patient. It was her wedding day.

“It’s that sort of thing that’s absolutely, completely random, that really makes me reflect on how lucky I am to be healthy and alive,” he says.

The View from the Top

Nash can’t follow-up with patients he transports, but when working with the same nursing crew again, he’ll often ask what happened. Most of the time, patients make it through just fine. For Nash, the knowledge he’s helped someone, and potentially saved their life, is the best reward there is.

The second best reward, he says, are the spectacular views he sees from his cockpit. From witnessing sunset alpenglow over Mount Baker to pods of whales in Puget Sound, Nash doesn’t take the beauty of the Pacific Northwest for granted.

“Quite often, we’ll be flying somewhere, and I just think to myself, ‘Wow, I actually get paid to do this,’” he says. “I tell my wife all the time, ‘The view from my office does not suck.’”

So, the next time you glance skyward to see a helicopter coming or going from PeaceHealth St. Joseph, take a moment and maybe even give it a wave. It might just be Randy Nash on another life-saving flight.

Original article can be found here ➤

Auburn University Regional Airport (KAUO) takes a swing at buying land from golf course

Auburn University Regional Airport is looking to purchase land from the adjacent Indian Pines Golf Course to build a safety area to meet Federal Aviation Administration safety regulations.

The potential property purchase would be located at the end of one of the runways for a safety area to accommodate larger aircraft. The amount of land needed for the safety area is about nine acres, according to airport director Bill Hutto.

“The airport will need a longer safety area as we are hosting larger corporate aircraft. The standard for the larger aircraft is 1,000 (feet). We only have 300 (feet) on the north end near the golf course,” Hutto told the Opelika-Auburn News.

Whether the purchase becomes reality is dependent on acceptance of an appraised value and availability of funding from the FAA. If approved, the typical scenario for funding is 90 percent from the FAA and 5 percent from the state, Hutto said.

“We are not sure when or if this will happen, but everyone is working together to explore mutually beneficial possibilities,” Hutto said.

Green for improved greens

Indian Pines is an 18-hole public golf course located in Auburn and adjacent Opelika municipalities.

The course was first constructed in 1946 as the Saugahatchee Country Club, with nine holes, and was later expanded to 18 holes in 1951, according to its website.

In 1976, the golf course was sold to the two municipalities and was redesigned in 1999, the website stated. But the property is in need of another update, according to Lee Dempsey, Indian Pines Recreation Authority representative.

“It’s pretty much run its course and has been needing some major attention for a long time,” Dempsey said. “It might work out to where we can sell them the acreage they need to fulfill their requirements…And it might just work out that might help us raise the capital to redo the golf course. It would be a win-win all away around.”

Representatives of the golf course hired an architect to draw up plans for how the golf course could be redesigned, excluding the portion of land that would go to the airport, should the transaction occur.

“We probably already have about 30 acres of the property that’s really not being used anyway, so letting them have what they need still gives us plenty of property to recondition the golf course,” Dempsey said, adding that the total property is roughly 160-165 acres in size.

The architect’s drawings have been available for viewing inside the facility’s pro shop and snack area since the summer.

The renovation plans include items such as an improved driving range, better drainage and other features, Dempsey said.

“The golf course will be enhanced from top to bottom, all the way around," Dempsey said. "There’s no chance of Indian Pines coming out on the short end of the stick of this deal if it goes through."

Original article can be found here ➤

Mayor's wish list: North Little Rock Municipal Airport (KORK), 3 cabins

A projected $20 million in revenue from a new city sales tax dedicated to relocate the North Little Rock Police and Courts Building isn't going to cover the new building's price tag, Mayor Joe Smith said recently, citing a rise in costs and competition in the construction industry.

"We think the Police Department is going to cost $30 million now rather than $20 million," Smith said during a pair of interviews. "We have to go get that additional $10 million and have to borrow it, or take it out of our fund balance [reserves] that I don't want to do."

Smith said his plan is to seek a bond issue of about $16 million that would include two additional projects he has been considering: $3 million in improvements at the North Little Rock Municipal Airport and up to $3 million to build three cabins on a ridge overlooking the Burns Park Golf Course.

He will ask the City Council next month, he said, for approval to move forward with hiring architects, a bond underwriter and bond counsel to begin the formal process.

"There's a lot to be done before we have serious discussions about it," city Finance Director Karen Scott said in a separate interview. "The council would have to authorize going forward. It would be several months in the making.

"The earliest we could pull the trigger would be the first quarter of 2019," she said. "It would then be months before any debt service would be due."

North Little Rock voters approved the 1 percent city sales tax in August 2017. The tax was split between a permanent one-half percent for city operations, and a five-year, one-half percent for capital improvement projects. The tax is estimated to raise $40 million in its five years. Those projects were estimated at $20 million for the new police and courts building, $10 million for streets and drainage repairs, and $10 million for fire station renovations.

The new police and courts building will be built in the 2600 and 2700 blocks of Poplar Street, where the Arkansas Army National Guard's Fisher Armory and the North Little Rock School District Administration Building are now. All parties have agreed on transactions involving a land exchange and $500,000 payment by the city to acquire the sites.

"When we got the architects on board for the police and courts building, we realized it was going to come $10 million over what we have allotted from the half-penny [tax]," Smith said, adding that some of the building's size has already been reduced. "Can I save $1 million a year for four years? I can, but we'd still be short, and I'd like to have that money in the fund balance."

The construction overrun for the police and courts building opened the way for making two revenue-enhancing improvements -- at the city's airport and its largest public park, projects Smith said he has been considering for a while.

"We know we need the money for the Police Department," Smith said of the planned bond issue. "We won't need any of the money until this time next year, but we have to know if the council will let me do it. I want to catch the construction season this summer for the cabins and the airport."

The North Little Rock Municipal Airport, 8200 Remount Road, would use the money to make improvements, expand its amenities and replace some 40-year-old buildings, things that would help corporations in the city make a better impression on clients they bring in, said airport General Manager Clay Rogers.

"The facilities for those corporate clients, they're really bad, really old," Rogers said. "When they're bringing in clients and flying in, the airfield looks great and the runways and lights and everything look great because we've been getting state grants over the last 10 years for those. But the facilities, as far as the building and the operations for that, are really lagging behind. They were never really built to handle that kind of business in the first place."

Smith said the airport hangars "are full now."

"Corporate North Little Rock enjoys having a North Little Rock airport here, but we have to upgrade the facilities for our current corporate jets and for future corporate jets or airplanes," Smith said. "There's not any room for one more company out there."

Rogers said improvements would be for a new fixed-base-operations building and a new corporate hangar that would allow up to four smaller corporate jets and a separate restaurant building. The airport could also demolish two sets of "T-hangars" for smaller aircraft and build new hangars.

"We will be seeking [state aeronautics] grant money for as much of this as we're able, too," Rogers said, which could reduce the amount needed from the bonds. "We've had this plan for a while. It's just been a matter of all the pieces coming together at the same time as far as funding goes."

The idea to place cabins in Burns Park is something Smith said he had previously discussed with Parks Director Terry Hartwick as an addition to help accommodate people in the dozens of soccer, baseball, tennis and golf tournaments the park hosts every year.

Smith's vision, he said, is for three rustic-styled cabins similar to what's available at Mount Magazine State Park in Paris, with two- or three-bedroom designs and a wraparound porch with a view of the Arkansas River from the back and the Burns Park Golf Course from the front.

The spot Smith said he's picked out is on a slight hill just west of Championship Drive and Tournament Drive. Hartwick said clearing away some brush, but leaving the big trees, will allow a scenic view up and down the Arkansas River. Utilities would have to be extended to the site, with underground electric lines instead of overhead lines so as not to obscure the views, Hartwick said.

"We see it as an addition to the park as an all-purpose park," Hartwick said. "We have a million people come through Burns Park in a year. And some are not staying in our hotels. We'd rather have some of them be in a cabin here where they can look onto the golf course or the river.

"We think we can keep them booked year-round, especially with all the soccer tournaments we have," he said. "Some weekends we'll have 10,000 to 15,000 people here from all over. They're always looking for places to stay."

The bond issue would be backed by the city's franchise fees collected from utilities and cable companies, Scott said. The 2018 general fund budget has $3.65 million budgeted from franchise fee revenue.

"Those two things will be revenue generators at some point and time," Scott said of the airport improvements and the Burns Park cabins. "These projects would be investments."

Original article can be found here ➤

Moreno Aguiari: Flying to remember D-Day

Moreno Aguiari shows drawings of the “Placid Lassie” on display in his office at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport.

World War II fascinated Moreno Aguiari when he was a boy. Growing up in Italy, he saw the results of the war all around him and learned the importance of what had happened there. His grandparents had seen the war firsthand.

“My grandmother always told me that if it wasn’t for the Americans, we wouldn’t be free,” he said recently. “So, I have an appreciation for what the Americans did.”

As a teenager, he developed his interest in airplanes. He wanted to learn to fly and attended a high school that specialized in aviation, he said. As an adult, he moved to the U.S. and worked as a commercial pilot. “A lot of Europeans came here,” he said. “This is the country of aviation.”

He became a U.S. citizen in 2009. As Aguiari grew older, he never lost his fascination with flying fighting machines from World War II and other wars.

About six years ago, he started a website called Warbirds News, which published online articles about vintage warplanes and the people who fly them.

He has described Warbirds News as “a group of passionate warbird enthusiasts who love the history and technology that aviation museums and flying collections preserve for the public.” Recently, the owner of the print magazine Warbird Digest purchased Warbird News. Aguiari works as the company’s marketing and business development director.

At age 42, he’s involved in another project that honors machines and men who fought in World War II. From a one-room office he keeps at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, Aguiari is coordinating U.S. efforts to fly a group of Douglas DC-3s, also known by their military designation as C- 47s, to Europe next summer for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. “We are taking them back after 75 years,” Aguiari said one recent afternoon as he sat in his PDK office, which is decorated with photos and drawings of warplanes and pilots and other aviation memorabilia.

In June, the American planes will join planes from around the world carrying paratroopers into France in a ceremonial reenactment of the invasion of Normandy, when allied troops started moving across western Europe to attack Germany in World War II.

The flyover project is called “Daks Over Normandy” because the C-47 was known as the “Dakota” and nicknamed the “Dak.” Aguiari’s involvement with the project came through the foundation that owns and operates the “Placid Lassie,” a restored C-47 that took part in the original D-Day invasion and will join the reenactment next summer. The people behind the foundation that owns the “Lassie” found the plane in a field near Covington in 2010 and restored it. They call the plane “a real war hero.” The “Lassie” now takes part in air shows around the country.

Aguiari said part of his passion for World War II and older warplanes stems from how relatively simple they are, compared to more recent planes. In those days, before extensive development of electronics and computers, he said, the men who flew the planes really flew them. “World War I and World War II aviation was still a very man-driven type of flying…,” he said. “Flying those airplanes, you had to be a ‘good stick.’ There is a saying: ‘flying by the seat of your pants.’ From 1903 to 1948, we went from zero to jets.”

He’s also drawn to World War II planes and fliers because they are still around. “There is a lot of it out there. You can still touch it,” he said. “World War I, it’s all in museums, but World War II, you can still talk to the pilots. You can still talk to the veterans. … You can reach out and meet the people. It’s the human aspect. I never think of the war aspect.”

So, to honor those people and the airplanes they flew, he started about a year ago to help coordinate and raise the money needed to finance the D-Day Squadron’s participation in the anniversary flight.

He thinks it’s important to remember what happened then. He saw the results.

“You cannot build a future if you don’t know your history,” he said.

Original article ➤

The evolution of Denver's Airports as Colorado continues to grow

DENVER -- First it was Stapleton Airport that sat on a 1920's era site east of downtown Denver. For the past 23 years, it's been Denver International Airport taking up land 23 miles northeast of the city.

As Colorado has grown, so has aviation. Even today DIA is forced to evolve and expand.

"Aviation in this state is extraordinary," said aviation expert Jeff Price. "It just continues to expand." 

Price just published a book, "Denver Airports: From Stapleton to DIA," which outlines the evolution of Denver's airports starting with Stapleton.

"You'll find pictures of Charles Lindbergh in this book," said co-author Shahn Sederberg. "You'll see pictures of Amelia Earhart and some amazing innovations of aircraft tested right here in Denver."

Stapleton outgrew itself and DIA took its place when it opened in 1995, but now, it is forced to expand as more and more people move to Colorado.

"With the Denver metro area in Colorado being a leader in the aerospace industry and very predominant in the IT industry, per capita income grows and so does the desire to fly and the need to fly," said Price.

The first step in that growth is the terminal redesign happening right now.

"That's going to add so much more revenue for the airport and overall, ideally lowering the cost of flying," Price said.

Price went on to explain how DIA is looking into the possibility of adding two more concourses to help with the projected influx of airlines, including more international carriers.

"Denver has the capability to handle those now," Price said. "The addition of the hotel and the addition of the RTD A-line is critical."

DIA is trying to keep up with the times in a very popular sate.

"Aerospace is coming in," said Sederberg. "Industry is coming in. It's a hot place... a good place for aviation and aerospace."

Story and video ➤

Aviation safety study to be done at Bayport Aerodrome (23N)

The Bayport Aerodrome sees about 10,250 combined landings and takeoffs per year.

The public airport is 50 acres.

It was designated a national historic site in 2008, according to the town.

The airport is also home to the nonprofit Bayport Aerodrome Society that specializes in antique airplanes.

Engineers are studying — through land and air — Bayport Aerodrome grass runway, searching for obstructions that could make landing and taking off from the historic airport difficult for pilots, Islip officials said.

The $160,000 initiative, which will be 90 percent funded by the Federal Aviation Administration, will be the first study looking for potential obstructions — such as tall trees — since 2012 at the town-owned airport that services noncommercial airplanes. 

“A new survey is currently underway to identify any obstruction on and around the aerodrome utilizing both ground and aerial imagery in compliance with the latest FAA standards,” said airport Commissioner Shelley LaRose-Arken. She added the comprehensive study will ensure “the highest level of safety for aviators who use the airport.”

The Islip Town Board hired Manhattan-based DY Consultants on Aug. 21 to conduct the study at the nearly 2,800-foot-long runway that stretches 75-feet wide.

“The study will contain very specific information about each obstruction,” LaRose-Arken said. “It will carefully identify and document the age, height, type of structure and its location, then recommend possible mitigation measures.”

Islip and New York State will each shell out nearly $8,000 for the project. But LaRose-Arken said Islip’s share will be reimbursed by the passenger facility program, a $4.50 ticket tax for passengers at Long Island MacArthur Airport, which is also owned by Islip.

The 2012 study concluded some trees were obstructing the runway, LaRose-Arken said. The analysis is expected to be completed in the spring, officials said. Some possible fixes for obstruction are topping of trees or lighting objects, LaRose-Arken said.

Residents in 2007 living near the airport were upset after a contractor hired by Islip cut down 100-year-old trees that did not violate the federally mandated height restriction of 17 feet. The town had approved an $88,000 tree-trimming project to comply with FAA requirements. The contract was for trimming trees south and east of the airfield.

Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter said neighboring residents will be kept informed of the study's findings.

“The airport administration and town are extremely sensitive to the community with respect to vegetation and trees in and around Bayport Aerodrome. Extensive community outreach will be conducted prior to any work to be performed,” she said.

Erik Birdsall, 50, lives south of the Aerodrome and moved into the home in 2008. He remembers there was a "whole uproar. The company came in and lopped off the trees to a certain height. All the neighbors were outraged,” he said.

However, Birdsall welcomes the obstruction study and its conclusions because safety is paramount.

“If they say they got to cut a tree to make it safer, by all means — cut a tree,” he said.

Original article can be found here ➤

Bryant-Denny Stadium: Alabama brought helicopters to help field conditions

Nick Saban said there was a plan for Bryant-Denny Stadium’s turf and Saturday morning, you saw part of it.

After battling unfavorable field conditions last week, the Crimson Tide brought it air support. A video posted Saturday morning by athletics director Greg Byrne showed helicopters flying low near the playing surface to dry the field after heavy overnight rain.

Alabama kicks off with Auburn at 2:30 p.m. CT in the Iron Bowl.

Rain leading up to last week’s 50-17 win over The Citadel left the turf in rough shape. Players were slipping all over the place with divots from goal line to goal line.

"Yeah, we did have quite a few slips,” Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs III said. “Coach (Josh) Gattis mentioned after warmups that the field is not the best this week, so we had to focus on our footwork, and eventually in the game the grass got the best of us sometimes."

Saban on Wednesday said there’s some burden on the players themselves.

“I also think players have to learn how to play in those conditions,” Saban said Wednesday. “I played on a lot worse fields than that. You have to plant off the right foot and there’s a way you have to be able to play on surfaces like that.”

Story and video ➤

Cessna 170A, N1264D: Incident occurred November 24, 2018 near Yakima Air Terminal (KYKM), Washington

MOXEE, Wash.- Local authorities say a plane had make an emergency landing near Moxee.

The Yakima Sheriff's Department was alerted by Yakima Air Terminal that a Cessna 170 plane flying near the Yakima Training Center lost engine power.

Law enforcement agencies from the Yakima Sheriff's Department, Union Gap Police Department, Moxee Police Department, Washington State Patrol and East Valley Fire blocked off Highway 24 between University Park way and Beaudry Rd. to create a makeshift landing strip.

Yakima deputies say the plane never showed, so police and air patrol searched for the lost plane.

They say two people were inside the plane, the pilot and his wife.

Yakima Deputies say the plane ended up landing safely.

"They landed in a very soft field out here adjacent to Highway 24 mile post 22. The plane sustain no damage other than the engine problem it has," said Yakima County Sheriff Brian Winter.

"Cole did everything that he was trained to do and flew the airplane precisely to the ground. There was no damage, nothing scratched. It was a perfectly controlled landing," said Flight Instructor Mike Butterfield.

Butterfield says he taught the owner of the Cessna 170 how to fly planes.

Yakima deputies say neither the pilot nor his wife were injured in the landing.

Original article can be found here ➤

MOXEE, Wash. — A Yakima couple were uninjured Saturday afternoon when their Cessna 170A glided into a plowed field 16 miles east of Moxee.

Cole Reason reported that the engine had quit on the aircraft around 2:18 p.m., prompting the closure of a 2 1/2 -mile stretch of State Route 24 and an aerial search involving the U.S. Army and the Civil Air Patrol.

Reason, 36, was flying with his wife, Kathy, back to the Yakima Air Terminal when he reported engine trouble about 7 miles north of the highway, said Yakima County sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Gray.

Sheriff’s deputies, East Valley firefighters, and police from Union Gap, Moxee and the Washington State Patrol closed the highway between Beaudry Road and University Parkway so Reason could use it as an emergency landing strip. The closure was lifted 10 minutes later when the plane did not show up, Gray said.

An aircraft from the Civil Air Patrol, a volunteer pilot and an Army helicopter crew from the Yakima Training Center conducted an aerial search, Yakima Air Terminal Director Rob Peterson said.

Peterson said the helicopter crew spotted the aircraft sitting in a field on the north side of the highway, and firefighters, sheriff’s deputies and an airport crew went to the field.

Gray said the plane, which Federal Aviation Administration records show was built in 1951, was not damaged during the landing.

Among those who headed out to search was Mike Butterfield, Reason’s flight instructor from Yakima Aerosport. Butterfield, who got involved when he learned Reason was having trouble, said Reason told him the engine quit and that he glided to a landing in the field.

“Kathy was so proud of Cole for knowing what he was supposed to do,” Butterfield said.

Butterfield said he helped Reason secure the plane in the field, and the plan was to remove the engine Sunday, repair and replace it, and fly the plane back from the field.

Original article can be found here ➤

YAKIMA- A small plane had to make an emergency landing in a field after the engine lost power.

Around 2:17 p.m. Saturday a pilot reported to have lost engine power to his aircraft approximately seven miles north of State Route 24 near Moxee. 

Units from the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, Moxee Police Department, Union Gap Police Department, Washington State Patrol and the East Valley Fire Department responded and closed State Route 24 between University Parkway and Beaudry Road to provide a landing strip for the airplane.

When the aircraft did not arrive, units conducted an area search. The Civil Air Patrol also had a plane conducting a grid search for the lost aircraft. A short time later, information was received that the plane had landed in a field at mile marker 22 along State Route 24.

The pilot, a 36-year-old Yakima resident, stated that his 1951 Cessna 170’s engine suffered from a mechanical problem and the aircraft lost power. He notified the Yakima Air Terminal tower of his situation and found in which to land. The plowed field ran along the north side of State Route 24 at mile post 22 east of Moxee.

The plane was not damaged during the landing. Neither the pilot nor his 39-year-old wife suffered any injuries in the incident.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were notified of the incident.

Original article can be found here ➤