Fighter Jets, Tanker Planes To Provide Air Security For Super Bowl 50

With less than two weeks to go before Super Bowl 50, the athletes aren’t the only ones preparing.

Military pilots are also busy practicing their formations to provide air security during the big game.

On Tuesday, an Air Force Reserve tanker plane took off from March Air Reserve Base to practice refueling a California Air National Guard F-15 fighter jet that will be protecting the airspace above Levi Stadium in Santa Clara. CBS2’s Crystal Cruz rode along on the mission.

“Just like the football teams prepare, so do we,” said Major Andrew Scott.

The objective for the F-15’s is to ensure that unauthorized aircraft do not enter within 10 miles of Levi’s Stadium on the day of the game, Feb. 7.

The tankers will refuel the fighter jets in mid-air and will take off from March Air Reserve Base.

The pilots and crew working Super Bowl Sunday said they are enthusiastic about their mission.

Their motto?

“You watch the game. We’ll watch the skies.”

N.C. sounds off on Ohio’s flight moves

Ohio is exploring adding the Wright Flyer to its state seal

Orville Wright controls the Wright Flyer in Kitty Hawk, N.C., in December 1903 while Wilbur Wright runs along side. Courtesy of Library of Congress/MCT

We’ve been through this before.

Ohio’s license plate claims the state is the “Birthplace of Aviation.” North Carolina’s is stamped “First in Flight,” with a picture of the iconic Wright Flyer.

Ohio’s state quarter is a bit more modest than its license plate: “Birthplace of Aviation Pioneers.” North Carolina’s reads “First Flight.” (Both quarters picture the Wright Flyer.)

Now, a proposal in Ohio would add the Wright Flyer to the state seal — the latest effort to reinforce their claim on the Wright brothers.

In North Carolina, folks had a range of reactions to the Ohio proposal.

“So many of their citizens have moved to North Carolina because it’s such a better state they’re just trying to get them back,” joked state Sen. Bill Rabon, a Brunswick County Republican.

Not everyone is hot or bothered by the possibility Ohio will revise its state seal.

“I don’t have any problem with it,” said Howie Franklin, the director of the Cape Fear Regional Jetport in Oak Island. Full disclosure — Franklin was born in Long Island, New York.

“There’s some strong feelings about it,” said Franklin, a longtime Air Force steward aboard Air Force One.

Meanwhile, Ohio and North Carolina may be joined together against a common enemy and Johnny-come-lately in aviation appropriation — Connecticut.

Connecticut has claimed a powered flight aviator Gustave Whitehead pre-dated Orville and Wilbur Wright’s 1903 flight off Kitty Hawk by two years. A resolution cleared Ohio’s Legislature last month repudiating that claim.

A 2013 Connecticut law required the governor to proclaim a “Powered Flight Day” in Whitehead’s honor. The Ohio resolution rejected the idea that Whitehead ever flew a powered, heavier-than-air machine of his own design.

Contact Julian March at 910-343-2099

Report: Army aviation restructuring could keep Apache helicopters in North Carolina National Guard

By Drew Brooks Military editor (

A special commission on the future of the Army is calling for a compromise in aviation restructuring that could keep AH-64 Apache helicopters in the North Carolina National Guard.

The National Commission on the Future of the Army report was released Thursday, days ahead of its deadline to issue recommendations to Congress.

The report proposed a middle ground between the Army’s Aviation Restructure Initiative, which would have seen all of the National Guard Apache helicopters transferred to the active force, and the counterproposal made by the National Guard Bureau, which would have kept the six current National Guard Apache battalions intact.

The commission recommended keeping four Apache battalions in the National Guard. That would leave the force with 24 Apache battalions, with most in the active force and some held in reserve but able to be surged when needed.

The commission spent much of last year touring states and military installations on the issue of aviation restructuring and the makeup of the Army force.

In the end, the report recommended a mix identical to what the Army has today, with about 450,000 soldiers in the Army, 335,000 in the National Guard and 195,000 in the Army Reserve.

It also emphasized full implementation of the Army’s Total Force Policy, which is aimed at better melding the active and reserve components.

The commission cautioned that their mix of 980,000 soldiers is “a minimally sufficient force to meet current and anticipated missions with an acceptable level of national risk.”

The commission further warned that such a force can be maintained only with a budget at least equal to that proposed by President Obama for 2016.

The questions related to Army aviation were seen by many as the most controversial for the commission.

The possibility of losing the Apaches was a concern for the 450 soldiers assigned to North Carolina’s 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 130th Aviation Regiment, said Col. Brian Pierce, director of aviation safety for the state National Guard.

Many of those soldiers have been flying or maintaining the helicopters for 17 to 18 years, he said. Pierce said those soldiers are breathing easier now.

He said officials believe the compromise bodes well for the state’s Apache battalion, given its abilities and strong relationships with active military units across the state. That includes Fort Bragg and Cherry Point, which crews visit regularly for training.

The commission praised those relationships, singling out North Carolina as a state with a mix of active, Reserve and National Guard forces.

“North Carolina was an essential stop,” the report states, mentioning the National Guard and the key commands at Fort Bragg, to include U.S. Army Forces Command, Army Reserve Command, the 18th Airborne Corps and Army Special Operations Command.

Pierce said North Carolina aviators routinely assist in training with units on Fort Bragg and elsewhere, flying for special operations units, the 82nd Airborne Division and others.

“We’re a ready force,” Pierce said, explaining how Apaches are in the air at least five nights a week.

“We’re uniquely positioned,” he said. “We have an emphasis on readiness. And we do really well.”

In making its recommendations, the commission said the Army’s Aviation Restructure Initiative cuts costs but results in a loss of strategic depth and doesn’t follow the Army’s Total Force Policy.

The National Guard Bureau’s plan would create a significant surge capacity but harm the Army’s wartime capabilities and raise costs.

The National Guard Association of the United States praised the compromise.

“We asked the commissioners to engage Army National Guard soldiers, listen to their concerns and to consider with open minds what this force can and should contribute in the future,” officials said. “Our quick initial review of the commission’s final report released today suggests the panel did just that.”

Daughter of legendary fighter pilot visits Seymour Johnson AFB

Story by Airman 1st Class Shawna Keyes

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. – Christina Olds, daughter of late Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, one of the Air Force’s most iconic fighter pilots, visited Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, Jan. 22, 2016, to speak about her father’s accomplishments in the Air Force.

Daughter of legendary fighter pilot visits Seymour Johnson AFBChristina Olds, daughter of late Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, answers questions after speaking about her father’s Air Force legacy, Jan. 22, 2016, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. Olds told stories of her father’s career as well as childhood memories of time spent with him. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Shawna L. Keyes)

Airmen from around the base came to the 334th Fighter Squadron to hear Olds recount stories of her father’s adventures during World War II and the Vietnam War, as well as the type of commander he was.

The general is rated a triple ace, having shot down a total of 17 enemy aircraft during World War II and the Vietnam War and has held the positions of squadron, base, group and wing commander as well as staff assignments in a numbered Air Force, Headquarters U.S. Air Force and the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“He got shipped off to Vietnam in late September of 1966,” Olds recalled. “His first briefing there, he just stood at the front of the room and said, ‘I’m here to lead you into combat, so you better teach me everything you know because I will be leading you in three weeks, and one guy said ‘Yea, right’ and my dad zeroed in on him and said, ‘And you are going to be my wingman.’”

Robin Olds was the type of leader that led from the front, according to his daughter. She told of how he had a different tactical approach to everything. One of the first things he did after arriving in Vietnam was devise what came to be known as the first tactics conference in December 1966. This conference was also the birthplace of the River Rats, the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association.

Olds said part of her father’s tremendous appeal was how much he loved and appreciated everyone around him.

“The very first thing he’d do when he’d get to a new assignment was go out on the flightline and meet all the crews on the aircraft,” she said. “Then he’d go into the BX, the hospital, the barber shop and the commissary. He would tromp through every single shop on the base and introduce himself to people; he’d learn their names, where they were from, and learn about their families.”

Olds also shared family photos and spoke of the relationship she and her sister had with their father and what it was like growing up in various places throughout his career.

“I appreciated Ms. Olds sharing her father’s story with a new generation of fighter aircrew,” said Lt. Col. Ernesto DiVittorio, 4th Operations Support Squadron commander. “Brig. Gen. Olds was a true warrior leader with a passion for the mission and his Airmen, officer and enlisted. As the father of two girls myself, I also appreciated Ms. Olds sharing insight into the relationship she shared with [her father].”

Olds ended her presentation by answering questions from the audience.

“What stunned me the most was the amount of respect toward him from all these people that had flown and worked with my dad,” said Olds. “Some of them got really teary-eyed talking about him and what it meant to fly with him, that he was leading them and getting them home safely.”

Seeing Red: Shining a Laser Pointer at Aircraft is No Joke, Officials Say

Aviation Pros .com

Back in 1973, Led Zeppelin made lasers spectacular.

Now, some people are making lasers dangerous.

Always the stuff of scientists, spy novels and rock shows, lasers with powerful beams projecting thousands of feet are now available to anybody online.

Some, whether carelessly or maliciously, point lasers directly at aircraft, possibly distracting or even making it temporarily impossible for a pilot to see out the cabin windows.

Something like that happened near Greensboro at around 9:30 p.m. last week near southern Guilford County when a Mountain Air Cargo flight reported to the control tower that the pilot saw a green laser in the cockpit.

The pilot reported no injuries, but controllers at Piedmont Triad International Airport warned other pilots to be on the lookout for the laser.

A representative at Mountain Air in Maiden said “no comment” after a call from the News & Record. Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration hasn’t received a formal complaint.

In 2015, the FAA received no formal complaints in the Triad through Dec. 11. Overall, North Carolina saw 98 incidents.

The FBI has joined the FAA in a serious campaign to warn laser owners of the possible catastrophic consequences of strikes on aircraft, reminding the public that careless or malicious owners endanger lives and risk prison and large fines under federal law.

Two years ago, the FBI mounted a two-month campaign to remind people that pointing lasers at aircraft is a felony punishable by five years in jail.

The FBI is now offering up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of any individual who intentionally aims a laser at an aircraft. The FAA can also assess a civil penalty for violators.

The reason for alarm is that the number of strikes across the U.S. has grown dramatically since 2005.

Patrick Murphy, an international lighting expert who also manages a website dedicated to laser issues, said 7,700 incidents were reported last year to the FAA.

“That’s a stupendous, surprising and baffling increase,” Murphy said.

The FAA and FBI will tell you that what looks like a pinpoint green beam on the ground can act as a flash that lights an entire cockpit, temporarily blinding pilots to outside features, especially during the most dangerous part of a flight: the landing.

Try managing that kind of problem while piloting a law enforcement helicopter a few hundred feet over Charlotte chasing a suspect.

That’s what has happened to officer W.E. Kelly. More than once.

He’s a pilot for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Aviation Unit and he regularly provides air support for officers, tracking suspects in cars or on foot. And on four occasions he has been hit with a green laser, making it difficult to fly. He has to also assume that the laser could be a sign that he’s being targeted by a weapon.

All of the lasers that hit Kelly were green, but red is often associated with weapon scopes.

“Every time I’ve been hit, we’ve been using enhanced night vision goggles so that kind of intensified it,” Kelly said.

An airliner at cruising altitude may not be as vulnerable as a helicopter. But that changes during a landing. A pilot needs sight, feel and control to set down 700,000 pounds of Boeing 777.

“Get them in a landing phase, in that critical phase of flight, the outcome can be catastrophic if the pilot doesn’t take action,” Kelly said.

One laser expert spends his off hours promoting safety with a website that explains the benefits and dangers of lasers — a technology he has been fascinated by since his college days in 1979.

Murphy, the international lighting expert, co-wrote the software for the nightly display IllumiNations at Disney’s Epcot Center.

In his day job, Murphy is executive director of the International Laser Display Association in Orlando.

As a public service, he is editor of

The website is loaded with charts, statistics and stories about lasers, what they can do and how they can hurt when used the wrong way.

Owning a laser is a privilege for many, he said.

“There’s a subculture of people who buy these and use them for their own light shows — kind of like the earlier days of computer hobbyists. Now, they have access to things only scientists and researchers had access to 20 or 30 years ago.”

The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t strictly regulate the dozens of lasers for sale on the internet. The agency says that only lasers under five milliwatts can be advertised as pointers. Anything more powerful cannot be considered a pointer. Some lasers can be promoted as tools for their ability to burn materials, for example.

The FDA does require keys or other safety features to prevent the owner from casually turning on a powerful laser that might burn skin or even a retina in an extreme case.

But for aircraft pilots, a bright light that flashes in the cockpit is the top priority. Lasers aren’t really capable of injuring a pilot’s eyes.

“We’re not concerned with injuries to pilots’ retinas,” Murphy said. “We are very concerned with flash blindness and glare.”

What happened a week ago near PTI, Murphy said, “seems like a fairly typical event. But like so many things in life, as you dig down you find that this is emblematic of a problem that has so many ramifications.

“It’s a safety issue.”

February 20 and 21 Private Pilot Course

Next Instrument Ground School is March 19 and 20.  If you’d like to attend either one of these, please respond to this email and let me know which one.  Thanks, and stay warm!

  • What: Private Ground School
  • When: Saturday, February 20, & Sunday, February 21, 2016, from 8 AM to 5 PM, both days
  • Where: 534 Air Harbor Rd., Greensboro, NC 27455
  • Sign-Off: We provide the endorsement required to take the knowledge test
  • Guarantee:  We guarantee students pass the private written; if they don’t pass, we work with them one-on-one until they do pass
  • Items to Bring: An E6B, a plotter, pocket calculator, and something to write with.  I have E6Bs and plotters available for sale at my cost of $11.00 for E6Bs and $11.00 for rotating plotters (or $22.00 total for both).  Please note we will review how to use the electronic E6B at 7:30 AM on Sunday if requested
  • Extras: We provide doughnuts and coffee for breakfast, ham sandwiches for lunch, and we also have soft drinks and water
  • Cost: $300.00 Cash or Check, with checks payable to Zenda Liess; fee is collected first morning before class
  • To Register: Call or e-mail (see contact information below)

Zenda Liess
534 Air Harbor Rd.
Greensboro, NC 27455
Home: 336 286-5218
Cell: 336 324-9595

FAA moves forward with flight plan switch

Elizabeth A Tennyson | Senior Director of Communications, AOPA

The FAA is moving forward with plans to require all civil domestic flights to use the international flight plan form beginning later this year. The agency has announced that it has begun making changes to flight plan software and educational materials to address the change, and AOPA is providing regular input on the process.

“We want this transition to go as smoothly as possible for pilots,” said Rune Duke, AOPA director of airspace and air traffic. “So we are looking closely at the various ways this will affect flight plan filing and working to ensure training courses are updated before the switch and that pilots are educated about the changes in advance.”

The FAA has said it is in the process of updating the training course for flying in the Washington, D.C., Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA), changing pilot knowledge exams, and updating the Aeronautical Information Manual. AOPA has asked the FAA to consider a complete update to the SFRA training course and to ensure that needed changes are in place before the switch to the new form takes effect.

In the meantime the FAA has released a new video on flight service, and the three flight service vendors—CSC, Harris, and Lockheed Martin—have also said they are preparing for the switch away from the domestic flight plan form. The FAA is also planning additional outreach regarding the changes, including attending all 2016 AOPA Regional Fly-In events, FAAST Blasts, and articles in the FAA Safety Briefing.

The FAA has set an Oct. 1 date to make the transition and end use of the domestic flight plan form, but the agency has also said it will not complete the switch until all flight service vendors are ready, and AOPA is asking for an overlap period to allow pilots to make the transition, both of which could push the final transition date to later in the year.

The international form previously was not able to address a number of situations found on the domestic flight plan form, and the FAA is in the process of making needed changes to accommodate those situations.

Software changes are being made to allow the international flight plan form to accept up to 11 characters in the destination and departure fields, making it possible to accept a five-character SFRA gate identifier, latitude and longitude, or VOR/DME radial information. The software will also be changed to accept codes for non-ICAO airports, removing the need to enter ZZZZ as the identifier for these airports. The FAA is also adding a new option for Field 8, Flight Rules, to allow for Defense VFR (DVFR) flight plans.

Pilots flying in the Washington, D.C., SFRA will still be required to type in the altitude as they do now, for example, “VFR/035,” to provide useful information for air traffic controllers and as a reminder that they are operating within the SFRA.

“We encourage pilots new to the international format to visit AOPA’s online flight planner as it offers user-friendly drop-down menus and helpful hints,” said Duke. “At first glance the form can appear to be very complicated, but after going through the process once it should be fairly straight forward. Now is a great time to learn the format as the deadline is still at least nine months away and the pressure is off.”

The FAA had originally planned to switch to the international form in October of 2015, but AOPA objected to the short notice and unresolved issues with Form 7233-4, which did not allow for filing an SFRA or DVFR flight plan, among other limitations. The FAA also provides a method to comment on flight services, including flight plans, via its website.

Aviation contractor to move 80 workers from Winston-Salem to larger Greensboro facility

Piedmont Aviation Component Services will move as many as 80 employees from a 35,000-square-foot space at Smith Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem to a facility that is more than twice that size in Greensboro.

The move from 3817 N. Liberty St. will occur by the first part of the second quarter, said Todd Schwarz, president of the company, which specializes in maintenance and repair services for regional aircraft.

He said the firm has been upfitting a leased 80,000-square-foot space at 7102 Cessna Drive in Greensboro to accommodate growth for its landing gear, machining and electroplating services.

“We needed a larger facility,” Schwarz said. “We are probably going to easily occupy 60,000 (square feet) of it and have 20,000 for expansion.”

The company will vacate the Winston-Salem facility on Liberty Street after hiring “quite a few (employees) over the last year-and-a-half,” he said.

A subsidiary of TAT Technologies in Israel, Piedmont Aviation Component Services is an Federal Aviation Administration-certified repair station.

Schwarz said the company will maintain its auxiliary power unit engine shop in Kernersville, where about 65 employees work.

The company moved key operations to the Smith Reynolds Airport facility in 2013 to improve turnaround times for customers instead of shuttling parts back and forth from Kernersville to Winston-Salem.

Future aviation tech trends include voice command, wearable avionics


We are merely scratching the surface of what we can accomplish with today’s technology. In recent years technology of all kinds has made monumental advancements and it won’t be long before these advancements transform the world of aviation as we know it. Below are just a few of the possible trends in aviation that we feel pilots can look forward to in the future. Whether that future is today, tomorrow or even ten years from now, there is the possibility for a lot to change.

Voice Command: Voice control software has become so advanced in the last year that it has been incorporated into almost everything from entertainment, cars, Smartphone’s, and even a smart home system that lets you talk to your house. There is no reason to believe that it won’t, at some point find its way into the cockpit. There could come a time when all you have to do to land your airplane, is ask.

 Fully Automated Airports: If we can accept that an airplane will someday be able to land itself when you ask it to, then it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise when we say that airports will likely go through a similar transformation. Airports run completely by machines – carrying cargo, scheduling, and all of those other little tasks taken care of by human crews. Kind of sounds like the beginning of a ‘Terminator’ film, doesn’t it?…
Avionics: Say goodbye to the instrument panel. With the popularity of wearable electronics soaring in recent years, it is not so farfetched to think that some of these products could be applied to aviation. Pilots using Google Glass to synch with the aircraft or automatically update themselves with weather changes. It was only last week we speculated on the future of HUDs. The Skylens is expected to be in service this year.

Clean energy: Looking after the environment has finally become a priority (about time). As people become more active in being “green” airlines are investing more and more into finding alternative fuels. Solar powered wings? Lithium-polymer batteries? Hydrogen power? It is surely only a matter of time before a breakthrough in this technology is reached.

Flying cars: It wasn’t that long ago that we laughed at the idea of a flying car – and if we’re honest, we’re still laughing. Companies such as Terrafugia and PAL-V may appear dubious and farfetched now, but given the speed at which technology is advancing, the “road-able aircraft” could become a reality.

Technology breakthroughs: Unmanned aircraft, ultra-lightweight aircraft, blended wing-bodies, even quiet supersonic commercial travel. NASA is researching all of these concepts and a breakthrough would likely completely reinvent aviation as we know it.

Reduced cost: The Part-23 rewrite is giving designers the freedom to create products that offer enhanced safety and at the same time, are far more cost-effective. Airplanes and avionics that cost less to produce and less to purchase will secure the future of aviation. Destination of the Week

General Aviation News

If there’s an aviator’s bucket list item that needs to be checked off for every pilot, it’s First Flight Airport (KFFA) at Kill Devil Hill, N.C.

Visit the first flight memorial monument that looks out over the site of the Wright brothers actual first flight.

Wright_Brothers_MemorialAfter landing, head to the south side of the airport and head into the pilot facility.

As an added benefit for overnight visitors, a short 20-minute walk brings you to the Outer Banks Brewing station, the first wind powered brewery.

Get the details at