Friday, June 04, 2021

Christian “Kit” Martin: Trial Begins For Pilot Charged In 2015 Triple Slaying In Western Kentucky



Two years after commercial airline pilot Christian “Kit” Martin was pulled off a jet at the Louisville airport and charged with a gruesome triple murder in Christian County, a jury Thursday heard conflicting accounts of the crime that went unsolved for years.

In an opening statement, special prosecutor Barbara Whaley said Martin had the motive to kill Calvin Phillips; his wife, Pamela; and neighbor Edward Dansereau; in tiny Pembroke, Kentucky, because Calvin was set to testify in a court-martial that could end Martin's Army career.

She also said prosecutors will show that a shell casing found five months after the crime was conclusively shown to have been fired from a .45-caliber handgun found in a safe in Martin’s home across the street.

Whaley, an assistant attorney general, also told the jury, which is hearing the case on a change of venue in Hardin County, that the family found Martin’s dog tags on a shelf in their historic home.

But Martin’s attorney, assistant public advocate Tom Griffiths, noted there were no eyewitnesses to the crime, no DNA and no fingerprints. And he said he will present forensic proof that the bullets that killed the victims did not come from his client’s gun.

Griffiths suggested the damning evidence — the shell casing and military ID which mysteriously were missed by police who scoured the home — must have been planted there, possibly by Martin’s angry ex-wife, who had vowed to ruin him.

The case attracted national attention when Martin, a former Army major who flew for American Airlines, was handcuffed at the airline gate as he was about to take off May 11, 2019. He was still wearing his pilot’s uniform when he was booked on three counts of complicity to murder, arson and other charges. 

The trial is being streamed live by Court TV.

The 2015 murders went unsolved for four years before Martin was finally charged — in part because of cell tower records that Christian County sheriff’s deputy told a grand jury disproved his alibi that he was home at the time of the crimes.

Whaley didn’t mention the cell phone evidence Thursday, which a defense expert has disputed.

She said Martin wanted to get rid of Phillips because he was supposed to testify in two weeks at a court-martial in which Martin was charged with mishandling classified information and abusing his wife’s son.

That trial was postponed and when it was finally held the next year — without Phillips, who was dead — Martin was convicted of less serious misdemeanors.

Whaley said prosecution witnesses will testify Martin fatally shot Calvin Phillips in his home on the morning of Nov. 18, 2015, then dumped the body in the cellar and tried, unsuccessfully, to burn it.

Whaley said he returned later that day, when Pamela Phillips returned home from her job at a Hopkinsville bank, and shot and killed her and Dansereau, who Whaley said was “just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

She said evidence will show that Martin set his alarm for 1:10 the next morning so he could get up, drive the bodies of Pamela Phillips and Dansereau in her car to a rural area 3½ miles away, and burned them in the vehicle.

A neighbor told police he heard an explosion at about 2 am and the next morning found the burned vehicle.

The bodies were so badly charred that police knew there were two of them because they found a pair of skulls. Both had been shot in the head.

Griffiths offered no explanation for why Martin had set his alarm for the middle of the night, other than to say "it was no big deal."

But he challenged the motive cited by the prosecution, noting Calvin Phillips also was subpoenaed to appear at the court-martial as a defense witness — which Whaley didn’t mention in her opening statement.

Griffiths said “anyone” could have planted the shell casing on the Phillips’ porch, and his ex-wife, Joan Harmon, had access to his guns as well as multiple copies of his dog tags he had accumulated over 30 years in the Army.

Suggesting Harmon may been involved, Griffiths said he will prove that cell tower records showed Pamela’s cell phone heading east — towards Todd County, where Harmon lives — the day after the prosecution says Pamela was killed.

“This case is unlike any I have ever seen,” he said. “This case is different because Chris didn’t do it.”

The trial, before Chief Circuit Judge John Atkins, is expected to last a month.



DJI Matrice 300 RTK: Accident occurred May 06, 2021 in Young Harris, Towns County, Georgia

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration;  Atlanta, Georgia
Da-Jiang Innovations; California 

Location: Young Harris, GA 
Accident Number: CEN21LA224
Date & Time: May 6, 2021, 11:00 Local
Registration: FA3HW43WTF
Aircraft: DJI Matrice
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 107: Small UAS

On May 6, 2021, about 1100 eastern daylight time, a Dà-Jiang Innovations (DJI) Matrice 300 RTK small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS, commonly known as a drone), registration FA3HW43WTF, was involved in an accident near Young Harris, Georgia. The remote pilot in command (RPIC) sustained serious injuries. The flight was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 107 demonstration flight.

The purpose of the flight was to demonstrate the drone capabilities for a potential customer with a payload that consisted of a Zenmuse H20T camera and a Wingsland Z15 spotlight. The flight location was very close to a DJI GEO Zone designated as a “Restricted Zone.” According to DJI, in Restricted Zones, which appear red the DJI GO application, users will be prompted with a warning and flight is prevented. GEO Zones that prohibit flight are implemented around locations such as airports, power plants, and prisons. 



After the accident, the RPIC stated that he was initially unaware of the Restricted Zone and never saw a notification on the remote controller during the flight. He added that he only discovered the Restricted Zone after a discussion with the NTSB. The RPIC stated that he performed a normal takeoff and flew the drone to the west over a wooded area about 393 ft above ground level (agl). He stated that during the spotlight demonstration the drone was unresponsive to control inputs, so he utilized the return-to-home (RTH) function. During the RTH descent toward the home point the drone hovered about 7 ft agl over a vehicle in the parking lot and was still unresponsive to any control inputs. When the drone would not land, the RPIC grabbed onto the landing gear and attempted to physically move the drone away from the vehicle. The drone resisted the physical displacement and maintained its position over the vehicle. The RPIC requested assistance from a demonstration attendee and handed him the remote controller. With guidance from the RPIC, he attempted several times to shut down the motors while RPIC held onto the landing gear with both hands. Finally, the RPIC attempted to remove the drone batteries when a propeller blade struck his right hand several times, which caused tendon and nerve damage.

After the injury was sustained, the RPIC continued to hold onto the drone for several minutes until the batteries were exhausted and the motors stopped.

The accident flight logs and data were retrieved from the drone and will be analyzed. A preliminary review of the flight logs showed that the RTH function was initiated about 7 minutes into the flight at 393 ft agl. A Restricted Zone notification was issued two times on the remote controller during the RTH procedure.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: DJI
Registration: FA3HW43WTF
Model/Series: Matrice 300 
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KDZJ,1909 ft msl
Observation Time: 10:55 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 11 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C /8°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 330°
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility: 7 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.14 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Young Harris, GA
Destination: Young Harris, GA

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious 
Aircraft Damage: Minor
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 34.984329,-83.829269 

Eurocopter AS 350B2 Ecureuil, N841BP: Accident occurred May 12, 2021 at Clarence E. Page Municipal Airport (KRCE), Yukon, Canadian County, Oklahoma

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office;  Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 
Airbus Helicopters; Grand Prairie, Texas
Safran Helicopter Engines; Grand Prairie, Texas
United States Customs and Border Protection; Tucson, Arizona 

United States Department of Homeland Security


Location: Yukon, OK 
Accident Number: CEN21LA216
Date & Time: May 12, 2021, 15:30 Local 
Registration: N841BP
Aircraft: Aerospatiale AS350 B2 ECUREUIL
Injuries: 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Public aircraft

On May 12, 2021 about 1530 Central Daylight Time, an Aerospatiale (Airbus) AS350 B2, helicopter, N841BP, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Yukon, Oklahoma. The pilot and flight instructor received minor injuries. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 public aircraft instructional flight.

According to the crew, the flight was intended flight was for the Initial Pilot Certification course for the AS350 B2. The flight departed the Roy Rogers International Airport (OKC) for Clarence Page Municipal Airport (RCE) to conduct training maneuvers. After arrival at RCE, they conducted several approaches to the airport, including confined area and pinnacle approaches. They then conducted several simulated emergencies, which required the helicopter’s hydraulic system to be turned off; and then turned back on at the conclusion of the procedure.

After the simulated emergencies, they then proceeded to conduct a series of ‘quick stops’. After the third quick stop, the pilot reported he heard a traffic call for the runway, and the flight instructor indicated that they would expedite and clear the runway. The pilot reported that they made another quick-stop, and made an immediate left turn. During the turn, he noticed a left yaw and application of the anti-torque pedals did not correct the condition. The flight instructor reported that he pushed forward on the cyclic to gain airspeed. He also added that the “control loads were excessive,” and he noticed the HYDR light on the caution panel was illuminated.

The helicopter entered a spin before the main rotor blades impacted terrain. The helicopter then rolled over and came to rest on its side. Both occupants were able to exit the helicopter before a post-crash fire consumed the majority of the helicopter.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Aerospatiale 
Registration: N841BP
Model/Series: AS350 B2 ECUREUIL 
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KRCE
Observation Time: 16:15 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 
Temperature/Dew Point: 18°C /10°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 9 knots / , 20°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 6000 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.29 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point: Yukon, OK 
Destination: Yukon, OK

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Minor 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 35.491833,-97.821178 (est)

Airbus A320-214, N233NV: Incident occurred June 03, 2021 at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (KPIE), Pinellas County, Florida

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Tampa, Florida

Aircraft struck a bird on landing damaging a landing light. 

Allegiant Air


Date: 03-JUN-21
Time: 14:39:00Z
Regis#: N233NV
Aircraft Make: AIRBUS
Aircraft Model: A320
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: COMMERCIAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 121
Aircraft Operator: ALLEGIANT AIR
Flight Number: AAY1350
City: ST PETERSBURG
State: FLORIDA

Schweizer (Hughes) TH55A/269A, N41G: Accident occurred June 03, 2021 at Monroe Regional Airport (KMLU), Ouachita Parish, Louisiana

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Baton Rouge, Louisiana

CMG Helicopters LLC


Location: Monroe, LA
Accident Number: CEN21LA253
Date & Time: June 3, 2021, 12:15 Local 
Registration: N41G
Aircraft: SCHWEIZER(HUGHES)AIRCRAFT CORP TH55A/269A
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: SCHWEIZER(HUGHES)AIRCRAFT CORP
Registration: N41G
Model/Series: TH55A/269A 
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KMLU,79 ft msl
Observation Time: 12:23 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 27°C /18°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.02 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Monroe, LA
Destination: Monroe, LA

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 32.510861,-92.037667

Lindstrand 90A, N1535G: Accident occurred May 28, 2021 in Dayton, Lyon County, Nevada

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Reno, Nevada Location: Dayton, NV
Accident Number: WPR21LA225
Date & Time: May 28, 2021, 08:15 Local 
Registration: N1535G
Aircraft: LINDSTRAND BALLOONS 90A 
Injuries: 1 Serious, 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: LINDSTRAND BALLOONS
Registration: N1535G
Model/Series: 90A
Aircraft Category: Balloon
Amateur Built: No
Operator:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Unknown 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: 
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 14.4°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Dayton, NV 
Destination: Dayton, NV

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious 
Aircraft Damage: None
Passenger Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious, 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 39.296208,-119.55791

LET L-23 Super Blanik, N912B: Accident occurred May 31, 2021 at Brokenstraw Airport (P15), Pittsfield, Warren County, Pennsylvania

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Brokenstraw Soaring Club Inc


Location: Pittsfield, PA
Accident Number: ERA21LA242
Date & Time: May 31, 2021, 14:00 Local 
Registration: N912B
Aircraft: LET L-23 SUPER BLANIK 
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: LET
Registration: N912B
Model/Series: L-23 SUPER BLANIK
Aircraft Category: Glider
Amateur Built: No
Operator:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KJHW,1723 ft msl 
Observation Time: 13:56 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 20 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C /3°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots / , 270°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.3 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Pittsfield, PA (P15)
Destination: Pittsfield, PA

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 41.83294,-79.360671 (est)

Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP, N708LU: Incident occurred June 01, 2021 at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (KRDU), Wake County, North Carolina

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Greensboro, North Carolina

Aircraft made a hard landing and incurred a propeller strike. 

Liberty University 


Date: 01-JUN-21
Time: 14:43:00Z
Regis#: N708LU
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: SUBSTANTIAL
Activity: INSTRUCTION
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91
City: RALEIGH
State: NORTH CAROLINA

Planes Grounded by Covid-19 Largely Avoid the Junkyard—for Now

Airlines want flexibility to return aircraft to skies quickly, and demand for spare parts has shrunk



The Wall Street Journal 
By Mike Cherney
June 4, 2021 5:30 am ET


SYDNEY — After the coronavirus pandemic grounded air travel, many of the thousands of aircraft that were parked at storage facilities around the globe seemed destined for the scrap heap.

That hasn’t happened. Instead, aircraft owners are junking fewer planes than just before the pandemic.

About 440 large commercial jetliners were scrapped in 2020, a roughly 15% decline compared with 2019, according to aviation-analytics firm Cirium. This year, the number of aircraft being junked is currently some 30% below last year’s volumes, said Rob Morris, Cirium’s global head of consultancy.

The slow pace highlights the challenge airlines face as they navigate out of the coronavirus pandemic. Domestic travel is returning faster than international in some markets, but the pace of the recovery will differ from region to region, and airlines must retain the ability to ramp up quickly. Airlines struggling to afford new aircraft may also need to keep older models for longer.

Another factor: prices for spare parts are low because many planes are grounded and don’t need extra components. Aircraft owners generate revenue from parts taken out of scrapped planes, so they may wait until demand for spares rises before junking their planes.

“Storing aircraft is cost-effective for airlines during a time when it’s uncertain how quickly passenger traffic will recover,” said Richard Brown, managing director at aviation firm Naveo Consultancy. “It makes more sense to park aircraft on the ground, and wait and see how the pandemic plays out.”



The biggest airline in Australia, Qantas Airways Ltd. , plans to keep its 12 A380 jumbo jets in storage for years, and aims to start flying some of them again at the end of 2023 when it expects the recovery in international travel to be under way. In the U.S., United Airlines Holdings Inc. decided to keep its older Boeing 767 wide-body fleet, with Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Nocella saying in April that “every data point we see confirms that demand will recover.”

To be sure, retirements are expected to rise when airlines get a better handle on post-pandemic travel, and many airlines have already announced plans to streamline their fleets, such as removing the A380, which needs long-haul travel to be economically viable. Deutsche Lufthansa AG Chief Executive Carsten Spohr, for example, said in March that the airline had decided to phase out 115 aircraft over the past year and was considering removing all aircraft older than 25 years from its fleet.

Cirium’s Mr. Morris said aircraft need to have started the process of being dismantled for them to appear in Cirium’s retirement database. Airlines frequently sell their old planes or return them to leasing companies, in which case the planes don’t appear in the database unless the new owners or lessors dismantle them.

Before the pandemic, an aging A320 aircraft could be sold for between $6 million and $7 million, compared with about $2 million now, said Phil Seymour, president of aviation data and advisory firm IBA. In contrast, storing the aircraft could cost as little as $50,000 a year in a remote location with basic maintenance, Mr. Seymour said. But costs can add up if dozens of planes need to be stored with little revenue coming in.

“The decisions being made in those boardrooms right now are really quite difficult,” he said.

The leasing companies that now own about half of the global jetliner fleet could be even less inclined to rush to dismantle planes, particularly at low prices, said Mr. Seymour, whose clients include lessors and financial institutions. Mr. Seymour said lessors could arrange more flexible, short-term leases for their airline customers so the airlines don’t switch to a competitor when the market recovers.

AELS, a company in the Netherlands that buys old aircraft and disassembles them for parts, isn’t looking to buy right now because it has an existing inventory of spare components, Chief Executive Derk-Jan van Heerden said.

“Why buy stuff if you have inventory and it’s not selling?” he said. “Conserving cash to sit out this crisis is a logical strategy.”

Before the pandemic, AELS usually acquired six to eight planes to take apart each year. Last year, the company acquired just one.



Engineers typically remove between 800 and 1,200 parts per aircraft, with the most valuable being the landing gear, engines and the auxiliary power unit, Mr. van Heerden said. The metal in the airframe is recycled, but that accounts for just 1% to 3% of revenue from a disassembly.

Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage, which stores planes in the Australian Outback, used a temporary overflow facility to handle the surge in demand for post-pandemic aircraft storage and expanded its main location, managing director Tom Vincent said.

Travel bubbles keep getting delayed, making it difficult for airlines to make long-term plans for their fleets, he said. In some cases, leased planes are being taken out of storage to return to the lessor, only to have the lessor put the plane back into storage.

“The net movement is more inbound aircraft,” he said. “There just continues to be issues with international travel.”