FAA Brings Mobile Air Traffic Control Tower to Key West

On Sept. 17, a mobile air traffic control tower arrived at Key West International Airport in Florida after a road trip down the East Coast by trailer from Hartford, CT. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) repositioned the fully-equipped tower to provide air traffic services for all of the aircraft operating in and out of Key West that are supporting the relief and recovery of the isolated Florida Keys in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

The FAA also has temporarily located many of the tower’s controllers closer to the airport to reduce lengthy commutes.

In addition to the mobile tower, the FAA has brought a trailer to the site to support the tower controllers with an air-conditioned break room and lavatories. Before the tower arrived, controllers were managing air traffic at the airport from a small tent.

As controllers started working the radios in the new mobile tower at Key West this morning, the FAA was making plans to pack up another mobile tower it airlifted to St. Thomas last week and temporarily relocate it to a safer mainland position in advance of Hurricane Maria. The tower will remain on a military C-17 until the storm passes and will immediately head back to St. Thomas after the storm.

The FAA also has been supporting the Florida recovery effort by authorizing drone operations around the state to aid rapid damage assessment. To date, the FAA has authorized 173 drone operations for the area damaged by Hurricane Irma, and 121 of those are still in effect. The primary authorized drone operations are supporting power and insurance companies.

Government agencies with an FAA Certificate of Authorization (COA) and private sector Part 107 drone operators who want to fly to support of response and recovery operations are strongly encouraged to coordinate their activities with the local incident commander responsible for the area in which they want to operate.

If UAS operators need to fly in controlled airspace or a disaster TFR to support the response and recovery, operators must contact the FAA’s System Operations Support Center (SOSC) by emailing to determine the information they need to provide in order to secure authorization to access the airspace. Coordination with the SOSC may also include a requirement that the UAS operator obtain support from the appropriate incident commander. The FAA may require information about the operator, the UAS type, a PDF copy of a current FAA COA, the pilot’s Part 107 certificate number, details about the proposed flight (date, time, location, altitude, direction and distance to the nearest airport, and latitude/longitude), nature of the event (fire, law enforcement, local/national disaster, missing person) and the pilot’s qualification information.

The FAA warns unauthorized drone operators that they may be subject to significant fines if they interfere with emergency response operations. Many aircraft that are conducting life-saving missions and other critical response and recovery efforts are likely to be flying at low altitudes over areas affected by the storm. Flying a drone without authorization in or near the disaster area may unintentionally disrupt rescue operations and violate federal, state, or local laws and ordinances, even if a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is not in place. Allow first responders to save lives and property without interference.


GA Pilots Aid in Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

A group named Aviators Helping South Texas, operating out of Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport (KCXO), has airlifted nearly 300 tons of water and about 50 tons of other goods to areas of Texas affected by the hurricane Harvey. (EAA photo)Among the thousands of volunteers aiding recovery efforts in the Houston, Texas, area following the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey are a few groups spearheaded by general aviation pilots and EAA members.

A group named Aviators Helping South Texas, operating out of Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport (KCXO), has airlifted nearly 300 tons of water and about 50 tons of other goods to areas of Texas affected by the hurricane, specifically Beaumont.

Started as a grassroots civilian relief effort by Kayla Perez, Michael Barksdale Sr., Michael Barksdale Jr., Vickie Croston, and Merwyn Croston, Aviators Helping South Texas soon transformed into a joint military-civilian operation when Michael Jr., a military member, arranged for Army assistance for greater lifting power.

While the core group for the aid effort was roughly eight individuals, Michael Sr. estimated about 1,000 people, between civilians and military members, helped out with the operation.

“The cooperation between the military and civilians was incredible,” Michael Sr. said. “This was a civilian-directed operation using both civilian and military aircraft. EAA members were part of the effort.”

Now that supplies can be trucked into the area as water levels have receded, the operation has ceased.

Operation Airdrop, out of Denton, Texas, is a volunteer rescue organization composed of general aviation pilots. With around 150 pilots, OAD has made more than 350 flights and delivered 250,000-plus pounds of cargo to the Houston area.

In addition to airlifting water and nonperishable food items to the Texas coast, Operation Airdrop has also relocated victims at the request of the Salvation Army.

EAA Chapter 670 in Fort Worth, Texas, has had many of its members assist with Operation Airdrop.

The Commemorative Air Force used its Douglas C-47 Skytrain Bluebonnet Belle and B-25 Devil Dog to airlift countless supplies to the Houston area as well.



2017 California Capital Airshow Connects Visitors with Regional Aviation History and Current Events 

(California Capital Airshow)The 12th annual California Capital Airshow (CCA), presented by Sacramento County in partnership with the City of Rancho Cordova, thrilled crowds on Sept. 9 and 10 at Mather Airport with the heart-stopping roar of U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet and battle-worn U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II jets above and some of the most rare and vintage planes displayed on the ground.

“We were pleased to see so many families and young people at the 2017 California Capital Airshow to experience the innovation and power of aviation through military jet demonstrations and interactive displays,” said CCA Executive Director Darcy Brewer. “Attendees learned how aircraft were involved in historic events of the past and how they are depended upon in critical events unfolding today.”

For the first time, CCA was host to the prestigious 2017 National Aviation Heritage Invitational, a competition that reviews rare and beautifully restored vintage planes against rigorous criteria developed by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. Awards are given for authenticity, quality of workmanship, attention to detail and technical merit. On Sunday, the Grand Champion Neil A. Armstrong National Aviation Heritage Trophy was awarded to the 1954 Grumman F111 Albatross, owned by Joe Duke of Ponte Vedra, Florida. Airshow attendees designated the 1944 Douglas DC-3 Historic Flight Foundation as the National Aviation Hall of Fame ‘People’s Choice’: Air and Space Smithsonian recipient.

Also new in 2017, loyal fans and first-time spectators received a special surprise when the massive Boeing E-4B made its first-ever airshow fly-by demo. Often referred to as the Doomsday Plane, this is one of only four Advanced Airborne Command Posts specially modified to serve as a survivable mobile command post for the National Command Authority.

The California Air National Guard and other branches of military brought pilots and planes straight from rescue missions in Houston, Texas, and in route to areas anticipated to be impacted by Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose and other natural disasters and threats. National Guard highlights included an aerial demonstration of the F-15C Eagle fighter jet, MAFFS-equipped C-130 Super Hercules and an on-ground MQ-9 Reaper display showcasing the 66-foot unmanned piloted aircraft.

“There’s no better way to learn how our military and regional public safety organizations save lives during response and recovery efforts than to talk with the pilots and crew directly,” Brewer said. “It’s especially gratifying to see how the commitment and bravery of these men and women inspire the youth who attend our airshow every year.”

The Saturday and Sunday shows were headlined by the Patriots Jet Team, which features former U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, U.S. Navy Blue Angels, and Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds pilots. Highly celebrated and talented pilots Steve Hinton, Bill Stein and Kent Pietsch also wowed the crowds with aerobatics and iconic planes of the past.

CCA proceeds fund charitable group donations and educational youth programming throughout the year, as well as scholarships awarded to students across the Sacramento region who are interested in pursuing education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and aviation and aerospace.

Special thanks go to Sacramento County, the City of Rancho Cordova, Sacramento Jet Center, Elliot Homes, Lasher Auto Group, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Budweiser, FOX 40, iHeart Media, Atlas Disposal, Teichert and Raley’s.

About California Capital Airshow

Established in 2004, the California Capital Airshow uses the power and magic of flight to entertain and amaze tens of thousands of attendees annually at historic Mather Airport for one of the largest and most prestigious demonstrations of military and civilian aircraft on display and in the sky. Year round, the California Capital Airshow 501c3 is dedicated to inspiring a life-long passion for STEM education and careers, with a variety of youth events, presentations and scholarships that help drive the future of aeronautics and encourage young people to reach for the stars. For more information, visit .




Reno or Bust! Championships Races and More Set for Sept. 13-17

The Reno National Championship Air Races is set for Sept. 13-17. Along with some of the fastest racing in the world of aviation sports, the Championships offer entertainment, drone racing and military displays, along with vender operations.

The National Championship Air Races has partnered with Costco and members can now purchase two-discounted one-day Saturday or Sunday General Admission tickets to this year’s National Championship Air Races.

“This is great partnership for the National Championship Air Races,” Reno Air Racing Association COO Tony Logoteta said. “Not only does partnering with Costco online allow us to expand the area where our fans can purchase tickets, but it also allows Costco members who perhaps haven’t seen the Air Races an opportunity to do so at a discounted rate.

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NBAA Notes Newest Round of Concerns Raised Over ATC Privatization Bill

As Congress considers H.R. 2997, a bill to privatize the nation’s air traffic control (ATC) system, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) noted that myriad concerns over the legislation continue to be raised, most recently by a top House Democrat and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a non-partisan scorekeeper on a bill’s cost to taxpayers.

Rep. Richard Neal (D-1-MA), the top Democrat on the House Committee on Ways and Means, flagged an important issue in a July 12 letter to the committee chairman, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-8-TX). Brady has waived initial jurisdiction over H.R. 2997, even though it makes significant tax-policy changes.

In his letter, Neal noted that the bill would shift jurisdiction of nearly $14 billion in air transportation excise taxes to a private board, which would set the user fees that all airlines and their passengers pay to utilize the ATC system. Those matters are currently under the purview of the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over taxes and revenue.

“While we may disagree on the merits of Chairman Shuster’s proposal with respect to privatization, I believe we share a strong interest in maintaining and enforcing the Committee’s jurisdiction,” Neal wrote. “Specifically, we should not waive jurisdiction over matters of revenue collection. The Committee’s exclusive jurisdiction over revenue measures reflects the grave importance of their consideration in the Congress; we should work together to ensure that these issues receive the Committee’s full attention.”

Neal noted that the bill would impact jobs across the United States, and he emphasized that the committee must do its best to ensure that the bill doesn’t harm the economy.

“I urge that any consideration of H.R. 2997, including a possible tax title that could be added to such legislation, be undertaken under regular order, including discussion in a public hearing and a full legislative markup,” he said.

View Neal’s July 12 letter in its entirety at

Neal’s letter came on the same day the CBO issued a report, which estimated that legislation to privatize the ATC system could swell the federal budget deficit by more than $20 billion, from 2018-2027.

NBAA has long held significant concerns with the notion of privatizing ATC, which would turn control of the system - a natural monopoly that currently serves the public’s interest, and is overseen by the public’s elected representatives in Congress – over to a new entity governed by private interests unaccountable to congressional oversight.

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said these most recent developments serve to further heighten skepticism over the controversial legislation.

“These red flags are in addition to the serious reservations about H.R. 2997 that have already been expressed by more than 100 aviation organizations, as well as groups on the political right and left, legislators from both parties at the federal and local levels, and most American citizens,” Bolen said. “Everyone wants to continue modernizing the nation’s aviation system, but we shouldn’t confuse that with what is clearly a privatization plan that carries risks on a number of levels.”

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