Triad aviation firm gets FAA clearance to work on Airbus planes

Katie Arcieri, Triad Business Journal

North State Aviation, a Winston-Salem-based aviation maintenance company that employs more than 400 people, has received clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration to perform work on the Airbus A-320 family of airplanes.

The company said it can now perform preventive maintenance, repair, inspection and alterations on Airbus 319, 320 and 321 airplanes. Other aircraft that can be worked on at North State’s facility at Smith Reynolds Airport are the Boeing 727, 737, 757 and 767.

North State President Charlie Creech said the addition of the Airbus family means “we have basically doubled the number of aircraft available for North State to maintain.”

“There are over 9,200 Boeing 737 aircraft in operation and over 7,100 Airbus A-320 family aircraft have been delivered commercially,” Creech said.

Since its founding in 2010 at the airport, North State has performed maintenance checks on more than 600 aircraft. The company has grown to more than 400 employees and now operates a second facility at the Global TransPark in Kinston, where it is expanding with 109 jobs for a new maintenance center.

North State is the largest tenant at the airport, where it occupies the majority of a former Piedmont Airlines building at 4001 N. Liberty St. and works on aircraft for United Airlines and other customers.

Record Setting Scholarships Awarded by NC Company


Ableflight, the NC based organization that supports flight for people with disabilities, has entered its 10th year and has awarded a record-setting 8 scholarhips for 2016.  The recipients come from throughout the country and face challenges from a variety of physical disabilities – seven people who use wheelchairs because of the effects of injuries, and one who is deaf.

Receiving scholarships are Johnny Ragland and Justin Falls of North Carolina, Ethan Daffron of Indiana, Scott Earley of Florida, Shafeeq Moore of Georgia, Bernard Dime of Arizona, Trevor Denning of Texas, and Shavon McGlynn of New York.  They will train at Able Flight’s campus at Purdue University.

“When I have the pleasure of calling to notify applicants of their awards, I tell them that they are about to embark on a journey that will change their lives forever”, said Charles Stites of Able Flight.  “Our program is demanding and challenging, and that’s because we work with our partners at Purdue’s Department of Aviation Technology to make it so.  When our students become licensed pilots, they know they have earned it.”

Graduates will be awarded their Able Flight Wings at EAA Airventure July 26.



Governor McCrory Announces Arrival of Dynamic Air Engineering Corporate Headquarters


Governor Pat McCrory, North Carolina Commerce Secretary John E. Skvarla, III, and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) announced today that Dynamic Air Engineering Inc. will establish corporate operations in Catawba County. The company intends to build a 46-person workforce in Claremont during the next three years, investing over $6.8 million. The company has also set further goals of adding at least seven more positions in years four and five following their relocation.
“North Carolina – where aviation was born — welcomes this family-owned manufacturer as the newest member of our defense and aerospace sector,” said Governor McCrory. “Dynamic Air Engineering shares our state’s commitment to innovation, quality and customer focus. The corporate headquarters will be a great fit for our business community.”

Founded in Los Angeles in 1942, Dynamic Air Engineering (DBA DAE Systems) is currently headquartered in Santa Ana, California where the company designs, develops and manufactures specialty components and systems for the aerospace and defense industries. Its customized, highly engineered solutions find extensive use in military, commercial and law enforcement applications, on the ground, in the air or over the water.

“North Carolina’s commitment to the military, our affordable business costs and strategic talent pipelines make us a natural choice for future-focused companies like Dynamic Air Engineering,” said Secretary Skvarla. “Aerospace products and parts manufacturing job growth has increased 32.5% since 2013 making North Carolina the fastest growing state for aerospace jobs in this timeframe.”

Dynamic Air Engineering’s new operations in the City of Claremont will employ 46-people. Positions will include engineers, machinists, and senior executives among others. Annual salaries will vary by position but will average at least $66,931. Overall wages in Catawba County currently average $38,238 per year.

“After extensive research over the past two years, Dynamic Air came to the conclusion that North Carolina offers the best backdrop for the next chapter in our company’s legacy,” said Jeremy I. Morrison, President of DAE Systems. “The State’s dedication to promoting the professional growth of its citizenry through education, combined with a willingness to work in partnership with the business community made our choice a clear one. All of us look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with the great State of North Carolina and the wonderful community of Catawba County.”

The project was made possible in part by a performance-based grant of up to $110,000 from the One North Carolina Fund. The One NC Fund provides financial assistance, through local governments, to attract business projects that will stimulate economic activity and create new jobs in the state. Companies receive no money up front and must meet job creation and investment performance standards to qualify for grant funds. One NC grants also require and are contingent on financial matches from local governments.

“Catawba County welcomes this pioneer in aviation components and the 46 high-quality jobs it is bringing,” said N.C. Sen. Andy Wells. “Dynamic Air Engineering will be a valued member of our manufacturing community.”

“Congratulations to Dynamic Air Engineering on its choice of Catawba County for this significant investment,” said N.C. Rep. Mitchell Setzer. “I commend our local and state economic development partners for making this exciting announcement possible.”

Joining EDPNC and N.C. Commerce in supporting Dynamic Air Engineering’s location plans are the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System, Catawba County, the City of Claremont, the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation and the Charlotte Regional Partnership.

Chris Leggette joins “The Flying Realtor”


Chris Leggette has joined his father, Len Leggette (known as “The Flying Realtor”forming Leggette Realty Group of Keller Williams.  As a teenager growing up in Greensboro Chris helped his father build their RV-8.

Chris says, “I am so grateful for the opportunity to join my father.  We are passionate about aviation and love working with pilots and aviation enthusiasts.”

Please support one of our biggest sponsors … Leggette Realty Group.

Legette Realty sign layout 2016-06-28 (2)

Piedmont Advantage Credit Union sponsors ACE Academy financial literacy event

Piedmont Advantage Credit Union recently sponsored the ACE Academy which brought approximately sixty-five middle school and high school students to the credit union’s headquarters to learn more about credit unions and financial literacy.

Aviation Career Education (ACE) academies are held across North Carolina during the summer. Students learn about the theory of flight, aviation’s history, aircraft maintenance and new technologies. They also have the opportunity to fly radio-controlled aircraft and work on aircraft model design projects, as well as take field trips to aviation industry businesses like Piedmont Advantage Credit Union which got its start in 1949 as a credit union for Piedmont Airlines employees.

Students shared how they earn money, what their career goals are and how they plan to save money. Members from the credit union’s lending and leadership teams spoke about developing good credit, loans and the credit union difference. Students were also treated to a Chick-fil-A lunch and encouraged to take a financial pledge for their future financial wellness and savings.

To learn more about Piedmont Advantage Credit Union, go to For more information about Ace Academy, go to:


About Piedmont Advantage Credit Union

Piedmont Advantage Credit Union is a member-owned, cooperative financial institution headquartered in Winston-Salem, NC. The Credit Union serves over 45,000 members across the country and around the world through its online product offerings and extensive network of shared branching and CO-OP ATMs. Piedmont Advantage Credit Union has 9 North Carolina branch locations, with 5,000(+) Credit Union Service Center branches, and 30,000(+) surcharge-free CO-OP ATMs locations nationwide. For more information, visit:


Kim Thore
Piedmont Advantage Credit Union
3530 Advantage Way
Winston-Salem, NC  27103
Direct Line: 336.744.8455
Main Line: 800.433.7228

Why a bonding cable is so important when refueling your plane

Ben Visser, General Aviation News

In my last column, I wrote about static electricity and the need for a bonding cable. I received numerous replies so I thought I would add some additional information.

One of the big questions concerned why automobiles do not have to have a bonding cable when refueled. Back to the basics: For a spark to start a fire or explosion, one must have fuel, air and an ignition source.

But liquid fuels like avgas and Jet A do not burn. They must be mixed with air in correct proportions or air/fuel ratios to burn.

For example, if you suspend a spark plug 0.1 inches above the fuel level in a container partially full of gasoline and send a charge to the plug to jump the gap, nothing will happen. The reason is that the air/fuel ratio is too rich.

Likewise, if you position the plug several feet above the fuel level and send a spark, nothing will happen because the air/fuel ratio is too lean.

You must move the spark source closer to the fuel until you find a combustible air/fuel ratio, and then it will burn.

Photo courtesy Santana

Photo courtesy Santana

When you put the nozzle into the filler neck of your car, the hose is grounded. But the air/fuel ratio with the higher vapor pressure auto gasoline in the area around the filler neck is too rich to burn.

On a piston aircraft, the vapor pressure of the fuel is less than that of auto gas and the filler neck is more out in the open where the wind can easily raise the air/fuel ration at the filler neck into the explosive range. (The vapor pressure of auto fuel has decreased in recent years and is closer to that of 100LL).

Air BP employee refueling a Cirrus in Oxnard (Photo courtesy Air BP)

Air BP employee refueling a Cirrus. (Photo courtesy Air BP)

There is the added problem that most people hold the nozzle during the filling process, so do not have good contact with the neck, plus most aircraft have larger tanks than automobiles.

With Jet A, as with diesel fuel, the vapor pressure of the fuel is low so that the air/fuel ratio at the neck is too lean to burn, so the chance of a fire is very low.

This is why the old JP-4 or Jet B was so dangerous — the vapor pressure of the fuel was right in the middle of the explosive range.

This is also true for people who mix some gasoline with their diesel fuel in the winter.

However, many jets use a lot of fuel, so that a significant electrical potential can still be built up and jump a large gap, which can have enough fuel vapor to be explosive.

What does a bonding cable do? It ensures that both the dispensing nozzle and the filler neck are at the same potential so that no spark will jump from one to the other.

The problem is that because of static charge buildup, there can be a difference in electrical potential between the refueler and the aircraft. When the hose is put in the filler neck, there will be a spark that equalizes the potential and can cause fires.

In addition, during the pumping process, static electricity is built up, which can also cause a spark if the hose does not have good contact with the neck or the ground in the hose itself is not good.

If the grounding point on your aircraft does not have electrical conductivity with the filler neck, then when the hose is placed in the neck or during the fueling process, the electrical potential will not be equalized and a spark can occur.

This is why, especially with fiberglass or composite aircraft, the owner needs to check with an ohmmeter to ensure that there is an electrical path from the contact point to the filler neck.

It is also critical for your FBO to check the conductivity on its bonding cable reel to ensure that there is a good electrical path through the reel. There are contact points in these reels that can corrode and result in a loss of electrical conductivity.

Electricity is an important part of our lives, but we always have to treat it with respect and care. The transfer of hydrocarbon fuels can be dangerous if the proper procedures are not followed.

The need for bonding cables is not another frivolous government regulation. It is a much needed safety rule.

NC Woman recounts plane race from Arizona to Florida

Before the Air Race Classic even began, a microburst broke the tie-downs and rearranged the planes at the airport in Prescott. All were re-inspected and deemed air-worthy. And flying over mountains was “quite an experience,” too, for Mixon, who’s used to Florida’s flat terrain.

Mixon and Squillace finished 32 out of 55, including 10 teams that couldn’t finish the race primarily because of mechanical issues.

“It was fun. It was beautiful,” Mixon said. “We were just happy to finish without anything mechanical happening or any problems at all.”

The race for female pilots has its roots in the 1929 “Powder Puff Derby,” in which Amelia Earhart and other female pilots flew from Santa Monica, Calif., to Cleveland.

Mixon and a group of about 10 other pilots lucked out when they wandered into town in Americus, Ga., for a bite to eat at the last stop before Daytona. They were seated in the Lindbergh Private Dining Room named after the famous pilot who took his first solo flight there.

“That was kind of a great memory that we’ll all have,” she said. “It’s just a really old, beautiful hotel.”

The race had its grueling moments. The pilots lost two hours the first day when they traveled across multiple time zones. Mixon and Squillace woke up early enough to be in the air by about 6:30 a.m. every day. The air was hot and Squillace’s Diamond DA40 has no air conditioning.

“In the summertime, you’re best off flying in the morning. The air is not so hot and you get better lift on the airplane,” Squillace said. “If you’re flying low, you’re sweating a lot.”

The women didn’t escape the race without penalties, but few teams did, Mixon said. One of the penalties was for not having the wings level on a flyby of the timing line and two were for flying too low on flybys. Conditions were hot and bumpy, making it difficult to maintain a perfect altitude, Mixon said.

The plane “performed beautifully” through it all, Squillace said.

“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, even when they’re airplanes,” Squillace said, playing off the name of

He wants to help aspiring young aviators take to the sky

Barry Saunders – News and Observer

It pays, as Garth Brooks reminded us, to have friends in low places.

It doesn’t hurt to have them in high places – like in the sky – as Warren Wheeler found out. A friend in the sky helped Wheeler, director of a flight school who is intent on getting kids into airplane cockpits as pilots, snare groovy jazz musician Najee to headline a benefit concert Friday.

When Wheeler was seeking a performer who’d draw a crowd to raise money for his Airolina Music & Flight Support program – but who wouldn’t demand a planeload of dough – he asked his pal, Tom Browne, for help.

Browne, in addition to being a world-renowned musician, is also a world-class good guy and licensed pilot who likes spending time above the clouds when he’s not onstage or at home in Garner. He has shared a lot of stages with musician Najee.

“Najee is a pilot, too,” Wheeler said when asked how Browne got the flautist to do a gig – that’s jazz talk for “perform” – at the Hayti Heritage Center. “He’s doing this because he wants to help. He doesn’t need the money.”

I’d be surprised if he did. In college, Najee albums in my friends’ record collections were as ubiquitous as roach clips and empty TJ Swann wine bottles set on windowsills for decoration.

The logical assumption would be that anyone as passionate about flying as Wheeler is must’ve grown up champing at the bit to get ahold of a plane’s controls, to be able to say, “Y’all sit back and let’s see if we can get this big mother in the air.” (Sorry, but I’ve always wanted to hear a pilot say that just before takeoff.)

That assumption would be wrong. “I wanted to build boats,” Wheeler said, before the flight bug bit him in high school in 1958.

“Back in those days, they were selling airplanes, and for some reason my sister and her friends convinced a dealer that they might be interested in buying a plane,” he said, laughing while recalling the incident. “The dealer brought one from Charlotte to Raleigh and I sat in the backseat and that was the end of that. From that point on, I wanted to fly.”

Wheeler earned his private pilot’s license at 15 while still a student at Hillside High School. He attended N.C. A&T State University briefly – very briefly.

Why’d he go there for such a short time? “I was told that they had an ROTC program there and you could fly,” he said. “They did and you could, but only as a senior. I didn’t want to go to school for four years to learn what I already knew. So I went to a flight school in Texas.

“My father was not happy that I didn’t go to Morehouse College, his alma mater,” Wheeler said, “but he was very happy when I got hired by Piedmont.”

Wheeler, a licensed flight instructor at 19, said he was the first African American pilot at Piedmont Airlines when he was hired in 1966, and he was also the first black dude to start his own airline, the regional Wheeler Flying Service. He did both jobs simultaneously, as well as serving as a flight instructor for Piedmont when it merged with USAir in 1989.

Not every kid has a father who is president of a bank, or a big sister who can convince an airplane salesman to take her friends, her little brother and her on a test drive in a plane. That’s why last year Wheeler started the program to pique and cultivate the aviation interest of students between the ages of 12 and 19 – students whose lives may be earthbound but whose imaginations are unbound.

“I’m interested in kids having the same opportunities I had,” he said. “When I was in high school, I think the cost was about $12 an hour for lessons with an instructor. Now, it’s like $170” an hour.

There is not only a lack of opportunity, he said, but there is also an impending shortage of commercial pilots. “It’s acute right now, and it’s getting worse. The military is not turning pilots out the way they used to – and they’re holding onto them when they do have them,” he said. “The FAA raised the retirement age from 60 to 65 about 10 years ago, and they’re talking about raising it again to 68. That’s just kicking the can down the road.”

Wheeler is picking up the can.

“Ten years from now,” he said, “if you’re flying on JetBlue, Delta, American or some other major airline, don’t be surprised to see one of these kids coming out of the cockpit as a pilot.”

Since I sincerely believe that Najee and Tom Browne will both still be drawing crowds a decade hence, wouldn’t it be cool to jet to the Bahamas on a flight piloted by an alumnus of the Wheeler Flying Service?

The school doesn’t have its own plane – yet – so Wheeler leases one from a company at the Person County Airport. When they’re not actually flying, the students train on a flight simulator that he keeps at the Hayti Heritage Center. You’ll be able to check it out Friday night if you go to the benefit concert Friday or contribute to the school at

Here’s another benefit you can derive from going to the benefit concert: When the stewardess rejects your plea for an extra bag of peanuts, you can truthfully inform her, “I partied so that that pilot could go to flight school. Now hand me them nuts.”

Vote for your favorite air show

USA Today is holding a reader poll to find the best air show in the nation: “You don’t have to be an aviation enthusiast to appreciate the mid-air stunt shows that headline the nation’s biggest and best air shows. Dozens of such events take place each year around the country, and 10Best has teamed up with a pair of air show experts to narrow the field to the best 20 in the nation. Now it’s your turn to vote. Cast your ballot once per day until voting ends on Monday, July 18, at noon ET. The top 10 winners will be announced on Friday, July 22.” Find out more here, then cast your vote.

Author provides answer for why airplanes go bump in the clouds

Sandy Selvy-Mullis – The Stanly News & Press

Former Stanly County resident William Braley has released his first book, a children’s work called “Why Airplanes Go Bump in the Clouds.”

Braley, a 1974 graduate of North Stanly High School who now lives in neighboring Montgomery County, explains that the idea for the book came to him on a plane ride back from Salt Lake City, where he had been as part of a greeting card business of which he is involved.

“This was the roughest plane ride I’ve ever been in,” Braley said. “We went through a thunderstorm on our way back to North Carolina.”

Braley encountered a young girl who was scared. She and her father were separated by a few seats on the flight, so Braley offered to switch with her so she could sit next to her dad, who just happened to be a part-time pilot.

But besides giving up his seat, Braley found another way to comfort her even more.

“I just sort of made it up,” Braley, now 60, remembers of telling a story about airplanes to ease the 9-year-old girl’s fears.

Braley said the pilot and flight attendants were later telling him how his story would make for a nice children’s book.

So he began recalling the story when he returned home.

“Nobody thought I would ever write a book,” he said. “I had my doubts, but I did it anyway.”

He dedicated the book to the young girl.

Braley has written short stories and poetry off and on for years. He says he first began writing when he was 13 and even wrote a graduation poem for his class. He also wrote an inspirational poem that he says is often used at funerals. It was inspired after the loss of one of his grandchildren.

“Why Airplanes Go Bump in the Clouds” retails for $12.99 and is available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Braley said he has already started a second book that is more motivational.