Saturday, June 05, 2021

Flight crews say laser pointed at jets above McCarran International Airport (KLAS),

The crews of three jets flying into McCarran International Airport on Friday night reported that someone pointed a laser at them as they approached the runway.

McCarran spokeswoman Melissa DeFrank said the incidents happened between 9:40 p.m. and midnight.

“One was a regional jet and the other two were commercial airlines,” DeFrank said, adding that “all three landed safely.”

The crews of each jet reported the matter to the McCarran air traffic control tower. The tower reported it to the Federal Aviation Administration. Las Vegas police were also contacted, DeFrank said.

FAA spokeswoman Tammy L. Jones released information Saturday afternoon on a laser being pointed at a Frontier Airlines flight.

“The crew of Frontier Flight 2135 reported that the aircraft was struck by a green laser approximately 12 miles east of Las Vegas McCarran International Airport,” Jones said in an email. “The incident occurred around 11:27 p.m. Friday while the Airbus A321 was at an altitude of 6,000 feet. No injuries were reported.”

The agency did not immediately provide information on the other two incidents.

The agency said on its website that the pointing of lasers at airliners should be considered a “serious threat to aviation safety.”

“The light from a high-powered laser beam can temporarily blind a pilot flying an aircraft with hundreds of passengers,” the FAA said.

The agency said it works with federal, state and local law enforcement to pursue civil and criminal penalties against anyone who aims a laser at an aircraft.

“The agency takes enforcement action against people who violate Federal Aviation Regulations by shining lasers at aircraft and can impose civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation,” the FAA said. “The FAA has imposed civil penalties up to $30,800 against people for multiple laser incidents. To minimize risk, pilots and crewmembers should report laser incidents as soon as possible.”

This is not the first time someone has pointed a laser at incoming aircraft at McCarran. A Las Vegas man who pointed a green laser light at aircraft at McCarran was sentenced in 2012 to eight months in prison. Michael Viera-Crespo, Jr., then 28, pleaded guilty to attempted destruction of an aircraft stemming from an August 2011 incident.

Woman arrested after reportedly trespassing at Albany International Airport (KALB)



ALBANY, New Yok (NEWS10) — On Friday night, the Albany County Sheriff’s Office arrested 34-year-old Jamie Ecker of Peru, New York. They say she was apprehended in a restricted area of the airport. Now, the airport is adamant that the breach was the result of an Allegiant Airlines representative breaching safety protocol.

NEWS10 has learned that the incident took place after the plane had been delayed by eight hours with the passengers inside. A mechanical issue—a screw or screws in a tire or wheel—caused the Nashville-bound Allegiant flight to remain on the tarmac. Reports say the environment became “rowdy” by nightfall, as the flight was meant to depart in the afternoon.

The sequence of events remains slightly hazy. NEWS10 learned that the airline gave the passengers “false hope” before eventually “ghosting” them. Many reportedly decided to pass time at the bar, leading to several altercations within the airport between intoxicated people.

The airline tried to replace the wheel, but ultimately canceled the flight and let passengers deplane after the lengthy wait. Irritated, intoxicated people could not get their baggage, and one person said they could not access desperately needed medication. Albany Sheriff Craig Apple said that an officer was hurt trying to help handle the apparent chaos.

“We had an individual—again, who was intoxicated—go into a secure area because of Allegiant Air’s negligence. So Allegiant Air jeopardized the safety and security at the airport,” Apple said. “I’m extremely upset about it. We will be taking it up with Allegiant first thing Monday morning.”

Ecker, allegedly intoxicated, allegedly followed an Allegiant employee into the secured area. Ecker slipped in behind the employee when she scanned her badge to access a restricted area. Airport safety policies mandate carefully securing passage to restricted areas by scanning individual badges.

Take a look at the full statement recounting more of the sequence of events from a spokesperson with Albany International Airport:

“The incident unfolded at 9:07 p.m. after an eight-hour delay and eventual cancellation of Allegiant Airlines’ Albany-Nashville flight.”

“Deputies arrested 34-year-old Jamie E. Ecker of Peru, NY after she proceeded to go behind the Allegiant ticket counter and chase after an Allegiant representative to retrieve her luggage.”

“The Allegiant representative failed to allow the security door to the ramp close before proceeding to the ramp.”

“The subject was able to pass through the door before it closed and access the ramp area where she was arrested.”

“This issue is being handled with Allegiant corporate.”

Cessna R172E Skyhawk, N93216: Incident occurred June 06, 2021 in Moriches, Suffolk County, New York

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Farmingdale, New York

Aircraft during banner tow landed on the beach.  


Date: 06-JUN-21
Time: 17:20:00Z
Regis#: N93216
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: BANNER TOW
Flight Phase: MANEUVERING (MNV)
Operation: 91
City: MORICHES
State: NEW YORK

Man accused of sneaking onto empty plane cockpit at Albany International Airport (KALB)



COLONIE, New York - A Bronx man hopped a security fence and got into a commercial plane at Albany International Airport around 3:30 Monday morning.

Stan Johnson, 23, is charged with two counts of criminal trespassing.

“This individual was out a little bit of a crime spree throughout the day throughout yesterday and into the early hours of this morning,” Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said. “He allegedly stole a car in Boston drove it to the Bronx, where he resides, abandoned the car down in the Bronx…Got up to Albany, was involved in a domestic dispute where he fled, ended up in the airport where he breached the perimeter fence, was able to also breach a jetway where he then went inside of an airplane."

Apple said that's when Johnson walked up the jetway and into the boarding area, where he was stopped by a TSA agent. When asked why he did it, Johnson said this:

“He wanted to sit in the cockpit and get the same feeling and sensation that they did on 9/11,” Apple recalled.

Apple said the department's K-9 team searched airport and all the planes on the ground, nothing was found.

Johnson was then taken to a local psychiatric facility for a mental health evaluation and released. Information on his arrest was also forwarded to the FBI in Albany

Apple said situations like this one make the flaws in bail reform obvious.

“Unfortunately we could only charge him with a criminal trespass, give him an appearance ticket and send him on his way. to go out and about and probably do more crimes,” Apple said. “And this is just a small incident that occurred, it could've been a larger one…It's painful it's truly painful."

NewsChannel 13 reached out to Doug Myers, spokesman for the airport. He issued this statement:  "We are conducting a full and comprehensive investigation along with Albany County Airport Authority and Transportation Security Administration."

https://wnyt.com

Police seize 174 pounds of marijuana packed in suitcases at Hartsfield - Jackson Atlanta International Airport (KATL)




ATLANTA, Georgia - Atlanta police officers with the airport drug interdiction unit found 174 pounds of marijuana inside several suitcases at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

"They were basically in the belly of the plane, in the cargo hold, and as they were being removed from the plane to be sent to baggage claim, that's where our k9 alerted to them," said Sgt. John Chafee with APD. 

Five bags were found in the cargo hold. 

In addition to the five bags, Atlanta police say two of the suspects were each carrying bags with marijuana inside, bringing the total to 174 pounds.

Four people were arrested and taken to Clayton County Jail. 

According to police, 47-year-old Nicole Golden was arrested after retrieving one bag from the baggage claim. She was found to be in possession of 21.8 pounds of marijuana and was charged with trafficking marijuana and transported to the Clayton County Jail.

Naly Tong, 29, and Keomanyvanh Tong, 33, were arrested after retrieving one bag each from baggage claim. Additionally, each was found in possession of another bag containing marijuana. Keomanyvanh Tong was found in possession of 45.98 pounds of marijuana and Naly Tong was found possessing 43.34 pounds. Each was charged with trafficking marijuana and transported to the Clayton County Jail.

Jarvis Sheppard, 32, was also arrested after retrieving two bags from the baggage claim. He was found in possession of 63.28 pounds of marijuana and charged with trafficking marijuana and transported to the Clayton County Jail.

The plane had come into Hartsfield Jackson international airport from Seattle. 

"There are several west coast cities we've identified as being ones that we will frequently see narcotics coming from. Seattle is one of them. It's something our drug interdiction officers are aware of." 

According to authorities, some of the suspects claimed they didn't know what was inside the bags.

"Some of the statements that were made indicated that at least the individuals wanted us to believe this was not their bag. That they were either asked to pick it up for someone else or someone had packed it for them and they were not sure what was inside of it," Chafee said. 

While this may or may not be true, Sgt. Chafee reminds everyone to never pick up a bag for someone or agree to transport it without knowing what's inside. 

The marijuana has a street value of about $700,000. 

The investigation is ongoing. 

Governor Kristi Noem quest for a potentially newer plane would also downsize South Dakota central fleet






PIERRE, South Dakota (KELO) — The deal that South Dakota’s current governor is trying to swing for a different aircraft also calls for reducing state government’s executive fleet to two planes from the current three.

The state Department of Transportation has hired a consultant to handle the sale of the eight-seat King Air B200 that Governor Kristi Noem frequently uses.

It is a 1988 model that state government purchased in 1994, a year after the crash that killed Governor George S. Mickelson and seven others.

Mickelson was returning from a trip to Ohio when the Mitsubishi MU-2 lost a propeller blade and crashed in Iowa on April 19, 1993, killing all aboard.

Four other governors — Walter Dale Miller, Bill Janklow, Mike Rounds and Dennis Daugaard — have since used the King Air B200 before Noem.

Also being put up for sale by Noem is a seven-seat King Air 90II. State government got the 1999 model in 2007.

State government would still have a second King Air 90. It is a 1995 model obtained in 2004.

The consultant, Verity Jet Group, has a state contract worth up to $195,000 to advise on the sale of the two planes and to assist in the purchase of a different aircraft that the governor would use.

This isn’t the first time state government has done business with the company. State records show Verity Jet Group was paid $7,500 on March 25, 2020, for three $2,500 expenses that were submitted two weeks before.

The value of the two aircraft being offered for sale isn’t publicly known at this point. Noem also has $5 million available that the Legislature gave her this year.

It’s unclear why the Noem administration wants one plane less than state government currently has. Neither the governor’s spokesman nor the state Department of Transportation’s strategic communication coordinator responded to the question that was asked several times in recent days.

Verity Jet Group, based in suburban Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Wichita, Kansas, was one of three companies that responded to a December request for proposals. The others were Elliott Jets of Milan, Illinois, and Exclusive Aircraft Sales of Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

“The consultant is currently in the process of analyzing and making recommendations to the state for both the purchase of a new plane and the sale related to current planes. In regard to the timetable, it will really depend upon the time needed to ensure that the state’s needs are being met. The final decision will be made by the Governor’s Office in consultation with the SDDOT,” the department’s Julie Stevenson said.

Does that mean the governor will be a passenger trying out a different plane before a decision is reached? “Governor Noem has no plans to participate in any test flights,” spokesman Ian Fury said.

The House Appropriations Committee on February 4 introduced HB 1282 that, in its original form, would have appropriated $5 million to the state Department of Transportation “for the purpose of purchasing a new state airplane to be used for official state business.”

The legislation was later amended down to $1 and Representative John Mills had an amendment pending that would have given appropriators the final review and approval.

Instead, $5 million was added to the Department of Transportation budget through an amendment to Senate Bill 64 that lawmakers passed on March 11. State Transportation Secretary Joel Jundt signed the contract for Verity Jet Group on March 12.

Arriving passengers held 3 hours on jet at Jacksonville International Airport (KJAX) during search for device




JACKSONVILLE, Florida – A Delta flight from Atlanta to Jacksonville early Saturday was held on the tarmac for security reasons as authorities spent three hours searching the passengers and their bags after a report of a possible device on board.

Michael Stewart, Jacksonville International Airport’s director of external affairs, said the Federal Aviation Administration alerted the airport to the report of the device around 12:20 a.m. and Delta Flight 1223 landed at 12:30 a.m. on a tarmac isolated from the airport, according to protocol, given the security conditions.

“I looked out the window and could tell we were not on the regular runway. We were on the furthermost runway the airport has,” said David Smith, a passenger on the flight. “I think it was something that had to be taken seriously.”

It’s unclear where the device might have been reported but after an hours-long search, nothing was found.

The FBI is continuing to investigate, but the agency has not responded to questions about the incident.

The plane took off from the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport at 11:24 p.m.

Bottles of water were distributed to passengers as 30 law enforcement officers boarded the plane to conduct the search. According to passengers and concerned family members, the FBI took control of the situation.

Angela Milton, a mother of one of the passengers, said the pilot first told the passengers it was a maintenance issue. Later they were told that wasn’t the case.

“They came back an hour later and stated ‘OK, it’s a credible threat that’s on the plane’ and they are not allowing any of the passengers to get off of the plane,” Milton said.

Multiple units arrived including JSO’s bomb squad and a K-9 unit from Jacksonville Aviation. They did a sweep of the plane and checked bags. Passengers were screened.

They didn’t begin deplaning until 3:30 a.m. They were then taken from the airplane to the U.S. Customs area of the airport for another hour of searching and questioning.

“We are evacuating the plane now onto the tarmac. Guns and FBI greeting us as we deplane,” one passenger told News4Jax overnight.

Around 4:45 a.m. -- over four hours after the plane landed -- passengers were released with their bags.

They eventually boarded buses that took them to the DoubleTree Hotel on airport property. JAX tweeted passengers could be picked up from the hotel.

No one was hurt during the incident, Stewart said, and airport operations returned to normal at 5 a.m.

“There was a situation. We addressed it, handled it and it turned out successful,” Stewart said.

A roadblock at the terminal was released, and Saturday flights returned to normal.

According to Stewart, passengers were not in danger. He also said this incident is most likely not connected to Friday’s incident where a belligerent passenger was arrested at JAX. In a separate incident, a Delta flight from Los Angeles to Nashville was forced to land in Albuquerque Friday afternoon after a passenger tried to breach the cockpit.

Loss of Control in Flight : Piper PA-60-602P Aerostar, N326CW; fatal accident occurred October 05, 2019 near Kokomo Municipal Airport (KOKK), Howard County, Indiana








Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Indianapolis, Indiana

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:


Location: Kokomo, Indiana 
Accident Number: CEN20FA002
Date & Time: October 5, 2019, 16:37 Local 
Registration: N326CW
Aircraft: Piper AEROSTAR 602P 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight 
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation

Analysis

The airline transport pilot arrived at the departure airport in the reciprocating engine-powered airplane where it was fueled with Jet A jet fuel by an airport employee/line service technician. A witness stated that she saw a "low flying" airplane flying from north to south. The airplane made a "sharp left turn" to the east. The left wing "dipped low" and she then lost sight of the airplane, but when she approached the intersection near the accident site, she saw the airplane on the ground. The airpane impacted a field that had dry, level, and hard features conducive for an off-airport landing, and the airplane was destroyed.

The wreckage path length and impact damage to the airplane were consistent with an accelerated stall.

Postaccident examination of the airplane found Jet A jet fuel in the airplane fuel system and evidence of detonation in both engines from the use of Jet A and not the required 100 low lead fuel. Use of Jet A rather than 100 low lead fuel in an engine would result in detonation in the cylinders and lead to damage and a catastrophic engine failure. According to the Airplane Flying Handbook, the pilot should witness refueling to ensure that the correct fuel and quantity is dispensed into the airplane and that any caps and cowls are properly secured after refueling.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's exceedance of the airplane’s critical angle of attack following a dual engine power loss caused by the line service technician fueling the airplane with the wrong fuel, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and subsequent loss of control. Contributing was the pilot's inadequate supervision of the fuel servicing.

Findings

Personnel issues Incorrect action performance - Ground crew
Aircraft Fuel - Incorrect use/operation
Personnel issues Lack of action - Pilot
Personnel issues Aircraft control - Pilot
Aircraft Angle of attack - Capability exceeded

Factual Information

History of Flight

Prior to flight Fuel contamination
Maneuvering Fuel contamination
Maneuvering Loss of control in flight (Defining event)
Maneuvering Aerodynamic stall/spin
Uncontrolled descent Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

On October 5, 2019, about 1637 eastern daylight time, a Piper Aerostar 602P, N326CW, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Kokomo, Indiana. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 business flight.

According to the airport employee who fueled the airplane, during the pilot’s approach to the Kokomo Municipal Airport (OKK), Kokomo, Indiana, he asked if the pilot wanted jet fuel, and the pilot said "yes." He said that the airplane looked like a jet airplane. When the airplane arrived, the employee parked the Jet A fuel truck in front of the airplane while the pilot was still inside the airplane. The employee said that he asked the pilot again if he was wanted jet fuel, and the pilot said "yes."

The employee fueled the airplane with about 163 gallons of Jet A from the fuel truck. The employee said that he was able to orient the different-shaped nozzle (relative to the 100 low lead fuel truck nozzle) from the Jet A fuel truck by positioning it 90° over the wing fuel tank filler necks and about 45° over the fuselage filler necks. He said that he initially spilled about 1 gallon of fuel during refueling and adjusted his technique so subsequent fuel spillage was minimal.

The student pilot, who received recurrent training from the accident pilot, said that when she arrived in her vehicle to meet the accident pilot, he was walking between the fuel truck that was parked by the airplane and her vehicle. She said that the accident pilot began training right away about 1045. They completed training, and after 1630, the student pilot drove the accident pilot to the airplane. The student pilot said the accident pilot visually checked the fuel tanks of the airplane to ensure they were fueled up and gave a "thumbs-up" to the student pilot. The student pilot did not stay for the rest of the accident pilot's preflight inspection and drove off. The student pilot heard the engines start and "they sounded normal." The student pilot did not see the takeoff. The student pilot said the winds favored runway 14, which was in use on the day of the accident.

A witness, on a nearby road, stated that she saw a "low flying" airplane flying from north to south. The airplane made a "sharp left turn" to the east. The left wing "dipped low" and she then lost sight of the airplane, but when she approached the intersection near the accident site, she saw the airplane on the ground.

The airport employee said that he was inside the fixed base operator building about 1620 when he heard the engines start. After the engines started, the engines sounded "typical." He said that he did not hear any radio transmissions from the pilot during his departure and did not hear an engine runup.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline transport; Commercial; Flight instructor
Age: 59,Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land; Single-engine sea; Multi-engine land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None 
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None 
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane multi-engine; Airplane single-engine; Instrument airplane
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 With waivers/limitations 
Last FAA Medical Exam: November 9, 2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 7500 hours (Total, all aircraft)

There were no pilot records provided to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Investigator-in-Charge (IIC) indicating the pilot's flight experience and a recent flight review as required under Part 61.56 received from the accident pilot's wife after two requests were made to her.

On November 28, 2008, the pilot was involved in an aviation accident that was investigated under NTSB accident identification number: ERA09CA073.

On December 2, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration terminated the pilot's designation as a pilot examiner due to sub-standard performance while conducting examinations.

On November 9, 2018, the pilot reported his flight experience that included 7,500 total hours and 200 hours in last six months as of his last airman medical exam.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper 
Registration: N326CW
Model/Series: AEROSTAR 602P
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1981 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 62P08698165008
Landing Gear Type: Retractable 
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection: August 22, 2019 Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 2 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3002.3 Hrs as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: 
Engine Model/Series: IO-540-AA1A5
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power:
Operator:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

The owner of the accident airplane stated he was supposed to receive initial training in the airplane from In Flight Review, Inc., but it never happened for "various reasons." He stated that he never gave permission for the accident pilot to fly the airplane. The owner declined to provide more information as who he gave the airplane keys to.

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC)
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: OKK,832 ft msl 
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 16:56 Local 
Direction from Accident Site: 360°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Visibility: 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 9 knots / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 140° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.01 inches Hg 
Temperature/Dew Point: 22°C / 8°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Kokomo, IN (OKK)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Kokomo, IN 
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 
Type of Airspace: 

Airport Information

Airport: Kokomo Municipal Airport OKK
Runway Surface Type:
Airport Elevation: 832 ft msl 
Runway Surface Condition:
Runway Used: 
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 40.474998,-86.063331(est)

On-scene examination of the airplane revealed the airplane wreckage path was about 328 ft in length along an approximate heading of 046° on a dry and hard surfaced fallow bean field. The wreckage and the wreckage path displayed features consistent with an accelerated stall.

On-scene examination revealed the presence of a clear liquid consistent in color, viscosity, oiliness, and odor with that of Jet A jet fuel in a fuselage tank and in the fuel lines leading to the fuel manifolds of both engines. Several of the engine spark plugs exhibited damage consistent with detonation. Flight control continuity was confirmed. The landing gear was in the retracted position.

Additional Information

The Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-38), Chapter 2, Ground Operations, stated in part:

"Jet fuel has disastrous consequences when introduced into AVGAS burning reciprocating airplane engines. A reciprocating engine operating on jet fuel may start, run, and power the airplane for a time long enough for the airplane to become airborne only to have the engine fail catastrophically after takeoff.

Jet fuel refueling trucks and dispensing equipment are marked with JET-A placards in white characters on a black background. Because of the dire consequences associated with misfueling, fuel nozzles are specific to the type of fuel. AVGAS fuel filler nozzles are straight with a constant diameter. However, jet fuel filler nozzles are flared at the end to prevent insertion into AVGAS fuel tanks.

Using the proper, approved grade of fuel is critical for safe, reliable engine operation. Without the proper fuel quantity, grade, and quality, the engine(s) will likely cease to operate. Therefore, it is imperative that the pilot visually verify that the airplane has the correct quantity for the intended flight plus adequate and legal reserves, as well as inspect that the fuel is of the proper grade and that the quality of the fuel is acceptable. The pilot should always ensure that the fuel caps have been securely replaced following each fueling."

"During refueling operations, it is advisable that the pilot remove all passengers from aircraft during fueling operations and witness the refueling to ensure that the correct fuel and quantity is dispensed into the airplane and that any caps and cowls are properly secured after refueling."

On-scene inspection of the fuel truck used to refuel the airplane revealed that the truck had markings "JET A.".

============

Location: Kokomo, IN
Accident Number: CEN20FA002
Date & Time: 10/05/2019, 1637 EDT
Registration: N326CW
Aircraft: Piper AEROSTAR 602P
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Business

On October 5, 2019, about 1637 eastern daylight time, a Piper Aerostar 602P, N326CW, departed from Kokomo Municipal Airport (OKK), Kokomo, Indiana, and impacted a field about 3.6 miles south of the airport. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces. The airline transport pilot sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was registered to Indiana Paging Network Inc and was operated by the pilot under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a business flight that was not operating on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight while departing from OKK.

On the day of the accident, the flight departed from Peter O Knight Airport (TPF), Tampa, Florida, about 0645 and arrived at OKK about 1027. The purpose of the flight was for the pilot, who was employed by In Flight Review, Inc, based in Tampa, Florida, to provide Piper PA-42 Cheyenne recurrent training to a customer based at OKK.

According to the airport employee who fueled the airplane, he asked the pilot of N326CW, while on approach to the airport, if he wanted jet fuel, and the pilot said "yes." He said the he asked the pilot if he wanted jet fuel because the airplane looked like a jet airplane. When the airplane arrived, the employee pulled the Jet A fuel truck out and parked it in front of the airplane while the pilot was still inside the airplane. The employee said that he asked the pilot again if he was wanted jet fuel, and the pilot said "yes." The employee fueled the airplane with about 163 gallons of Jet A from the fuel truck. The employee said that he was able to orientate the different shaped nozzle (relative to the 100 low lead fuel truck nozzle) from the Jet A fuel truck by positioning it 90 degrees over the wing fuel tank filler necks and about 45 degrees over the fuselage filler necks. He said the he initially spilled about one gallon of fuel during refueling and adjusted his technique so subsequent fuel spillage was minimal.

The Jet A fuel truck had "JET A" on its left, right, and rear sides.

The employee that was inside the fixed base operator building about 1620 heard the engines start. After the engines started, the engines sounded "typical." He said that he did not hear any radio transmissions from the pilot during his departure and did not hear an engine runup.

The pilot, who received recurrent training from the accident pilot, stated the accident pilot began training right away beginning about 1045. They completed training and it was after 1630 when the pilot drove the accident pilot to N326CW. The pilot said the accident pilot visually checked the fuel tanks of the airplane and gave a "thumbs-up" to the pilot. The pilot did not stay for the remainder of the accident pilot's preflight and drove off. The pilot heard the engines start and "they sounded normal." The pilot did not see the takeoff. The pilot said the winds favored runway 14, which was in use on the day of the accident.

A witness stated that she saw a "low flying" airplane flying from north to south. The airplane made a "sharp left turn" to the east. The left wing "dipped low" and she then lost sight of the airplane but when she approached the intersection near the accident site, she saw the airplane on the ground.

Post-accident examination of the airplane revealed the airplane wreckage path was about 328 ft in length along an approximate heading of 046° on a dry and hard surfaced fallow bean field. Components of the left side of the airplane were near the southwestern portion of the wreckage path. The wreckage and the wreckage path displayed features consistent with an accelerated stall.

The examination revealed the presence of a clear liquid consistent in color and order with that of Jet A in a fuselage tank and in the fuel lines leading to the fuel manifolds of both engines. Several of the engine spark plugs exhibited damage consistent with detonation. Flight control continuity was confirmed. The landing gear was in the retracted position.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N326CW 
Model/Series: AEROSTAR 602P
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Pilot
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: OKK, 832 ft msl
Observation Time: 1656 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 22°C / 8°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 9 knots / , 140°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.01 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Kokomo, IN (OKK)
Destination:

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: 40.475000, -86.063333 (est)

Dr. Daniel Greenwald


The estate of a Florida plastic surgeon who died when his plane crashed shortly after take off in Howard County has reached a settlement with the city of Kokomo, bringing an end to a lawsuit that alleged negligence by city airport employee and improper training given to Kokomo Municipal Airport employees.

The Estate of Daniel Greenwald will be paid a $700,000 settlement, the max amount allowed under Indiana’s tort claim laws, according to court documents filed last week in Howard County Superior Court IV. The estate and Julia Greenwald, the widow of Daniel Greenwald, have filed a petition asking Judge Hans Pate to accept the settlement agreement, which will be paid the city’s insurance. As of Friday morning, the court has ruled on the request, though settlements are usually accepted.

As a result of the settlement, the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the stated and Julia Greenwald in March of last year will be dismissed with prejudice, meaning it can’t be brought back to court.

An email sent Friday to legal representatives of the estate seeking comment on the settlement and lawsuit were returned as of Friday evening.

Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore called the incident a “devastating situation” for the Greenwald family.

“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Greenwald family,” he said in an email.

Dr. Daniel P. Greenwald, a plastic surgeon from Tampa, died on Oct. 5, 2019 when his Piper PA-60-602P Aerostar crashed in a field just south of Indiana 22 shortly after takeoff from Kokomo Municipal Airport. He was the only person onboard.

A complaint filed by Julie Greenwald and the estate of Daniel Greenwald alleges that the death was due to an airport employee putting the wrong fuel into Daniel Greenwald’s airplane.

The plane should have been filled up with Avgas, but the complaint alleges the employee put in Jet A fuel instead.

A preliminary investigation report by the National Transportation Safety Board in October focused on the type of fuel given to the plane before it took off from Kokomo Municipal Airport, though it did not list a cause.

According to the report, several of the plane’s engine spark plugs sustained damage that was “consistent with detonation,” and that a clear liquid “consistent in color and order with that of Jet A fuel” was found in the fuel lines and manifolds of both of the plane’s engines.

An employee of the airport, according to the NTSB report, told investigators he asked Daniel Greenwald two separate times if he wanted jet fuel for his twin-engine Piper Aerostar 602P because, according to the employee, the plane “looked like a jet airplane.” Both times, the report states, Greenwald told the airport employee “yes.” The report does not name the airport employee, but the Greenwald lawsuit alleges the employee was John Yount.

The estate’s lawsuit denied that Daniel Greenwald ever told anyone to put in jet fuel in his plane and that there were warnings and fueling instructions on the plane’s fuel tank apertures.

“Dr. Greenwald was a highly experienced pilot and never instructed anyone to fuel this aircraft with Jet A fuel,” the complaint reads.

In its formal response to the lawsuit, the city denied any wrongdoing.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Daniel Greenwald had been flying airplanes since he was a teenager. According to the Times, he was a “well-known well-known plastic surgeon with a private practice, Bayshore Plastic Surgery, in Tampa’s Channelside district” and was “named one of America’s top surgeons in 2009 and specialized in hand and microvascular surgery, cosmetic plastic surgery and also performed gender reassignment surgeries.”







Tampa plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Greenwald, seen here with his wife, Julia Robbins Greenwald, died October 5, 2019 when the plane he was piloting crashed shortly after takeoff in Kokomo, Indiana.

Tampa plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Greenwald (top left), seen here with his family, died October 5, 2019 when the plane he was piloting crashed shortly after takeoff in Kokomo, Indiana.

Tampa plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Greenwald died October 5, 2019 when the plane he was piloting crashed shortly after takeoff in Kokomo, Indiana. 

Tampa plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Greenwald, seen here with his wife, Julia Robbins Greenwald, died October 5, 2019 when the plane he was piloting crashed shortly after takeoff in Kokomo, Indiana. 






Mechanics battle to keep rattlesnakes off parked planes





LOS ANGELES, California — Battling rattlesnakes may not be in the job description for an airline mechanic, but it's become a regular fight in Southern California.

As millions of Americans take to the skies for the busy summer travel season, thousands of planes remain in desert storage facilities due to the downturn in international travel.

The non-use has led Qantas Airlines mechanics charged with maintaining the world's largest passenger jets in a Victorville storage facility two hours outside of Los Angeles to routinely find venomous Mojave rattlesnakes and scorpions in and around the wheel wells.

"The area is well known for its feisty 'rattlers' who love to curl up around the warm rubber tires and in the aircraft wheels and brakes. Every aircraft has its own designated 'wheel whacker' (a repurposed broom handle) as part of the engineering kit, complete with each aircraft's registration written on it," Tim Heywood, Qantas Airlines' manager for engineering in Los Angeles, wrote in a press release.

Wheels of aircraft in storage are wrapped to keep out snakes and spiders at the Los Angeles Qantas facility. A broom handle doubles as a "wheel whacker" to awaken any hidden critters.

Airlines store planes in the desert because of the dry climate. Every crevice and opening must be sealed, tires must be moved regularly and condensation must be removed from fuel tanks in order to protect the planes.

"Aircraft like these are highly technical and you can't just land it at the storage facility, park it and walk away. It's really important that even when in deep storage, the aircraft are maintained to the Qantas standard," Heywood explained. "The wheels, tires and landing gear legs are wrapped in protective film and all inlets and orifices on the fuselage are plugged to avoid insects, birds and even bats making themselves at home."

Planes in short-term storage require more maintenance than planes flying daily. Insects and animals can nest in a plane within 24 to 48 hours of non-use.

Wheels of aircraft in storage are wrapped to keep out snakes and spiders at the Los Angeles Qantas facility.

"The first thing we do before we unwrap and start any ground inspections of the landing gear in particular is to walk around the aircraft stomping our feet and tapping the wheels with a wheel whacker to wake up and scare off the snakes. That's about making sure no harm comes to our engineers or the snakes," Haywood added.

At the height of the pandemic, airlines in the United States and around the world stored or retired thousands of planes in what are commonly referred to as "airplane graveyards" in Southern California and Arizona. Slowly, many planes have returned to service, but hundreds of the larger, twin-aisle wide-body jets like the double decker A380 remain parked in the southwestern United States.

Southwest pilot who watched porn from cockpit taking 'fun' to new level at carrier

Now-retired Michael Haak, 60, of Longwood, Florida,  pleads guilty to a misdemeanor charge in an escapade that took Southwest's 'fun-LUVing attitude' too far.


Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino

Did you hear the one about the airline pilot who got in trouble for watching porn during a flight to Florida?

It happened on a Southwest Airlines flight from Philadelphia to Orlando last summer. And the now-retired pilot, Michael Haak, 60, of Longwood, pleaded guilty last week to a misdemeanor charge of lewd behavior and was sentenced to a year of probation and a $5,000 fine.

Federal prosecutors said that Haak left the pilot’s seat and disrobed in the cockpit after the plane had reached its cruising altitude. Then he began watching porn on a laptop computer.

At some point, he metaphorically began to bring his recreational pursuits in for their final descent in front of the female co-pilot, a woman he had first met that day.

“As the plane continued its flight, Haak further engaged in inappropriate conduct in the cockpit, as the first officer continued to perform her duties as an assigned aircrew member,” the prosecution statement reads.

Now I know why the cockpit door is locked. 

Airline pilot taking some personal time in cockpit

The passengers on the Southwest flight had no idea that their pilot was spending some very personal me-time during the flight. 

And Haak, while speaking at his sentencing hearing, made it sound like this was just some kind of good-natured camaraderie he was sharing with the female co-pilot – again, a woman he just met.

“It started as a consensual prank between me and the other pilot,” Haak said. “I never imagined it would turn into this in a thousand years.”

OK, I know what you are thinking. Clearly, he’s got an imagination deficiency.  

I mean who wouldn’t imagine – in less than a thousand nanoseconds – that getting out of your pilot’s seat to disrobe and carry on in front of a woman you barely know might somehow backfire?

That it would be more easily classified as sexual harassment than a prank?

Cockpit porn is harmless prank? 

But in Haak’s defense, this happened on a Southwest Airlines flight. 

Anybody who flies on Southwest knows that the company encourages its flight crews to imagine themselves as airborne comedians. 

The airline has a culture statement that stresses a “fun-LUVing attitude” for its employees.

Flight crews are encouraged to project light-hearted demeanors and to be creative with their public-address announcements to the passengers. Passengers seem to enjoy it, and many pass on through online posts the funny things they hear from the crews on Southwest flights.

They say things like, “In order to enhance the appearance of your flight crew, we will be dimming the cabin lights,” or “Your bags will be available on Carousel 4 in the terminal, or two weeks later on eBay.”

They tell passengers to be careful removing their bags from the overhead compartments because “shift happens.”

'Fun' at Southwest is part of the culture

Even the safety announcements are fodder for humor on Southwest. 

“Should this flight turn into a cruise, your seat cushion can be used as a floatation device,” is a common line.

The pilots get in on the fun, too: “Sorry, folks, for that rough landing,” one pilot was reported as saying. “It wasn’t my fault. It was the asphalt.” 

Another pilot made this announcement as the plane was taxiing at the airport: “If the window seat is open on your row, please move to it so that when we pass by Delta over there they will think that our planes are full."

So, maybe Haak’s “not in a thousand years” surprise that getting nekkid and watching porn during the flight was just taking the fun-LUVing to a new level.

At least he didn’t make an announcement about it.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached our cruising altitude, so sit back and relax, while I get out of these clothes and watch 'Grinding Nemo.' ”

Helping Southwest develop new announcements

Now that this story has gone viral, it’s a great opportunity for Southwest flight crews to craft jokes that give passengers the impression that all their pilots are in the cockpit, disrobed, watching porn and spending some very personal me-time during the flight.

I think I can help. Here are four sample announcements that flight crews on Southwest might want to use: 

1. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached our cruising altitude of 30,000 feet, so I’ll be turning off the pants-belt sign in the cockpit.”

2. “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m being told from the cockpit that we anticipate experiencing some turbulence over Dallas … er, excuse me, I’m being corrected. That’s over 'Debbie Does Dallas.' ”

3. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed flying you today to your destination. And I mean that. Literally.

"I really can’t tell you. That’s what my attorney says. Sorry.”

4. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Does anybody have a battery charger for a Mac laptop? 

"My battery died in the middle of my movie, and I really need to see how it comes out in the end. Thanks loads. 

"In other news, those of you sitting on the left side of the plane might want to look out of your windows. 

"That’s the Grand Canyon down below. … Oh, never mind. I’m being told by my first officer, that’s the skyline of Cleveland, Ohio.”


Former Pilot Pleads Guilty to Federal Charge in Maryland and is Sentenced to One Year of Probation for Exposing Himself to a Female First Officer While the Plane Was In Flight

Also Ordered to Pay Fine of $5,000

Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Mark Coulson today sentenced Michael Haak, age 60, of Longwood, Florida, to one year of probation, after Haak admitted that he committed a lewd, indecent, or obscene act during a flight in which he was pilot in command. At the time of the crime, Haak was employed as a pilot with Southwest Airlines.  Magistrate Judge Coulson also ordered Haak to pay a fine in the amount of $5,000.

The guilty plea and sentence were announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner and Acting Special Agent in Charge Rachel Byrd of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.

According to Haak’s plea agreement, on August 10, 2020, Haak was the Captain, that is, pilot in command, of a flight traveling from Philadelphia International Airport to Orlando International Airport. Haak was assisted by a female First Officer who Haak had never met prior to that flight.

Haak admitted that, after the aircraft had achieved cruising altitude, Haak got out of the pilot’s seat, and while still in the cockpit of the plane, intentionally disrobed and viewed pornographic media on a laptop computer.  As the plane continued its flight, Haak further engaged in inappropriate conduct in the cockpit, as the First Officer continued to perform her duties as an assigned aircrew member.   

Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner praised the FBI for its work in the investigation and thanked the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General and Southwest Airlines for their assistance.  Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney P. Michael Cunningham, who prosecuted the case.

Stranded Jet Skiers Rescued By New Jersey State Police Helicopter, US Coast Guard







A daring rescue in the mud and muck off Ocean City Wednesday evening as three jet-skiers were plucked from the mud and muck by a helicopter.

New Jersey State Police say they were first alerted of the scene at 8:20pm as troopers from their Marine Services Bureau responded to the call of three people stranded on their jet skies in the mud and muck near the Ocean City Airport. One of the skier's mothers have informed officials that the three were stranded in the marsh and couldn't reach shore.

It was quickly determined that it would take police too long to get an airboat to the area, and the tide had just gone out and thunderstorms were moving into the area. There was a definite risk of hypothermia for those who were stranded.

State Police then called for a helicopter. Here's what happened next, according to New Jersey State Police:

A short time later, pilot Sergeant Eric Schmitt and co-pilot Trooper I John Steet along with flight nurse Rich Harris and flight paramedic Tracy Connellan were dispatched to the area. While enroute, the troopers were advised by Operational Dispatch Unit that a U.S. Coast Guard vessel and sea tow vessel were in the area and had visual contact but were unable to get to the stranded riders.

When Sgt. Schmitt and Tpr. I Steet arrived on scene, they located the stranded jet-skiers approximately 200 feet from the shoreline of the airport. Due to the high levels of the mud, the victims could not walk to shore, so Sgt. Schmitt and Tpr. I Steet knew they had a limited amount of time. They quickly lowered the helicopter and maintained a hover just inches from the ground. Sgt. Schmitt and Tpr. I Steet navigated to each jet-skier, where each victim was able to climb directly from their individual jet-skis into the helicopter with the assistance of flight nurse Harris and flight paramedic Connellan.

The three were taken to the Ocean City Airport, where they were met by medical personnel,  and all were treated and released.

United Airlines sees a supersonic future

This photo provided by Boom Supersonic shows an artist’s rendition of United Airlines Boom Supersonic Overture jet. United said Thursday, June 3, 2021 that it reached a deal with startup aircraft maker Boom Supersonic to buy 15 of Boom's Overture jets. The planes haven't been built yet, but Boom says they will fly at 1.7 times the speed of sound, or around 1,300 mph.



United Airlines aims to bring back supersonic travel before the decade is over with a plane that is currently just an artist's drawing — even the prototype hasn't flown yet.

The airline said Thursday that it plans to buy 15 jets from Boom Supersonic with an option for 35 more once the start-up company designs a plane that flies faster than the speed of sound while meeting safety and environmental standards.

United hopes to carry passengers on the plane in 2029. The airline said the plane will reduce flights between London and the New York area to just 3 1/2 hours and make Tokyo only six hours from San Francisco.

United declined to discuss financial terms, but Boom CEO Blake Scholl said the deal was worth $3 billion, or $200 million per plane with none of the discounting that is typical in the aircraft business.

It has been nearly two decades since the last flight of the supersonic Concorde, which British Airways and Air France began using in 1976 to zip passengers in luxury across the Atlantic. The last one was retired in 2003, three years after an Air France Concorde crashed into a hotel shortly after takeoff from Paris, killing everyone on board and four people on the ground.

Several companies are working to come up with new supersonic jets that would be more economical on fuel — and create fewer climate-changing emissions — than the Concorde.

Boom is working to develop an 88-seat plane it calls Overture, which it says will be the first supersonic airliner to fly on so-called sustainable fuel. Scholl said that a one-third sized prototype will make its first test flight later this year or early in 2022.

The Denver company said the plane will be capable of speeds up to 1.7 times the speed of sound, or about 1,300 mph. That is slower than the Concorde but more than twice as fast as many current airliners.

The endorsement from United is a huge lift for Boom. Another supersonic contender, Aerion, said last month that it was running short of money to get its plane, the AS2, into production.

Supersonic jets are often banned over populated areas because of the sonic booms they create. That eliminates many potential overland routes because the planes would have to fly at less efficient subsonic speeds.

Chicago-based United believes that its coastal hubs in San Francisco and Newark, New Jersey, and its corporate-traveler clientele make it better suited than its rivals to offer supersonic service.

Mike Leskinen, United’s vice president of corporate development and a former aerospace analyst, said United hopes to offer both premium and economy seating but that no final decisions have been made on cabin layout.

United is sensitive about the high fares that helped doom the Concorde, and is trusting that the cost to operate the Boom plane will come down over time as it has for other jets.

The Concorde was the pride of British and French aircraft companies, and it ushered in a new era of rapid travel over long distances. The plane had a distinctive delta-wing design that made it easily recognizable as it streaked overhead on its way to New York or Dulles Airport outside Washington.

Despite its cachet, the plane never caught on widely. The sonic booms limited its routes over land, and its high costs and relatively small size compared with other jets made tickets too expensive for anyone other than the wealthy or well-connected.

Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst for Atmosphere Research, said the Boom jet appears targeted at business flyers, but corporations are trying to cut travel spending and might resist putting employees on supersonic flights if the fares are too high.

Scholl said the Boom jet will be 75% cheaper to operate than the Concorde thanks to decades of advancements in engines and lighter fuselages.

“This is going to be a ticket that's affordable to way more people than supersonic ever has been before,” Scholl said. He predicted that the speed of supersonic flight will revolutionize air travel the way that jets replaced most large propeller-driven planes.

Not everyone who follows aviation is convinced, noting that developing a new plane costs many billions of dollars.

Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst at Teal Group, said he believes that if there were a profitable market for supersonic airliners, Boeing and Airbus would be building them.

“It tells you that the enormous, established players don't see it,” he said. “There is no reason they couldn't do this. There is no secret sauce that Boom keeps in a safe somewhere.”


New Cal Fire helicopter already showing its chops

The helicopter and two air tankers respond to wildfires and rescues in Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and Los Angeles counties.

Cal Fire pilot Matthew Miller sits in the cockpit of the new Copter 301, a Sikorsky S70i Fire Hawk, during a tour at Ryan Air Attack Base in Hemet on Friday, June 4, 2021.




It took only one wildfire for Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department’s new Sikorsky S70i helicopter to demonstrate its value to pilot Matthew Miller.

Swooping in on the nascent Coyote fire south of Banning on June 2, Miller flipped a switch that opened one of the doors of his aircraft’s 1,000-gallon water tank, dropping half the load on the flames. Soon after, he let loose with the remaining 500 gallons on another hot spot. The fire’s spread was stopped at 75 acres.

Had Miller been piloting one of Cal Fire’s Vietnam-era Super Hueys, he would have had to drop all his water at once and spend 10 minutes away from the battle to reload.

“That fire might have been off to the races,” Miller said.

On Friday, June 4, at Hemet-Ryan  Air Attack Base, Cal Fire put on display one of the 12 Sikorsky Fire Hawks it had built at a cost of $26 million each to replace an equal number of Hueys. Those Sikorskys have been deployed statewide as the danger from wildfires increases.

“We know fire season is a daily threat,” said Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington, observing the new and improved chopper

The helicopter and two air tankers at the Hemet base respond to fires and rescues in Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and Los Angeles counties.

Cal Fire meteorologists expect cooler conditions for the next month, until summer brings its usual scorching temperatures and low humidity.

“The last eight years, we said ‘That’s the worst fire season,’ but the year always ups itself,” said Capt. Richard Cordova, a Cal Fire spokesman. “Fires are moving quicker and at a more dangerous rate.”

Besides age, the Sikorskys’ advantages over the Hueys are numerous. They fly faster and farther, can carry more people and more water (1,000 gallons vs. 300) and can drop 1,000, 500 or 250 gallons at a time. They have two engines instead of one and can fly if one gives out, a feature not lost on Miller.

“To me, the big boast with this is being able to get these guys home safely,” Miller said, motioning to other firefighters on the tarmac.

Although Miller has been a Cal Fire pilot for less than two years, he and the Sikorsky — “My work wife,” said Miller, who is engaged — have a close relationship.

Miller, 43, grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, and graduated from the Air Force Academy. He flew combat and search and rescue missions for 14 years, evacuating troops while coming under gunfire and plucking people off rooftops after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the tsunami in Japan in 2011.

Miller worked as an airline pilot and flies in the Navy Reserves. Then he got the opportunity to join Cal Fire.

“The desire to serve the community has always been there,” he said. “It was a no-brainer.”

Miller and Copter 301 managed to make it through Friday’s event without having to leave for a fire. But it was just a matter of time. Cal Fire went to full seasonal staffing on Monday, Cordova said.

This year, for the second year in a row, a paid hand crew of 40 new firefighters will work out of Hemet-Ryan, helping to make up for the loss of inmate hand crew members who are tasked with building fire breaks and assisting during other disasters. Where once there were 4,000 available inmates statewide, now there are about 2,000 because of early releases due to COVID-19 and federally imposed capacity limits, Cordova said.

Cal Fire’s Riverside Unit still has crews at its Oak Glen, Norco and Bautista conservation camps, but there are fewer of them and only about 12 people per crew, down from the usual 15, Cordova said. Cal Fire hopes to add more professional hand crews, Cordova said.

For now, he said, “You’re going to see us spread kind of thin because of the shortage of inmates.”

Cordova encouraged residents to clear brush around their homes to give firefighters a realistic opportunity to save their property.

Information on making an evacuation plan can be found at readyforwildfire.org.