Bob Hoover Passes

R.A. “Bob” Hoover passed away peacefully early this morning near his home in southern California. He was 94 years old.

Recognized throughout the world as “the best stick and rudder man” who ever lived, Hoover was the personification of the air show industry for many years. Whether he was flying his P-51 Mustang “Ole Yeller” or the Shrike Commander (which is now displayed in the Smithsonian Institution’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia), Hoover entertained tens of millions during an air show career that lasted nearly 50 years. Tens of thousands of current pilots were inspired to learn how to fly after watching Hoover fly at an air show.


During his legendary career as an aviator, he stole an Fw-190 and flew it to freedom after escaping from a Nazi POW camp, he flew a chase plane behind the Bell X-1 on the day that Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier, and he flew as a test pilot for the North American F-86 and F-100. He lived during a time when he was fortunate to have known Orville Wright, Charles Lindbergh, Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Neil Armstrong and Yuri Gagarin; he was a living bridge between aviation’s Golden Age and today’s modern aerospace community.

Hoover is a member of the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the ICAS Foundation Air Show Hall of Fame. He is a past recipient of both the ICAS Sword of Excellence and the ICAS Art Scholl Memorial Showmanship Award. He received the prestigious National Aeronautic Association’s Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy in 2014. He is an honorary member of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the RCAF Snowbirds and the American Fighter Aces Association. For his service during World War II, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Soldier’s Medal of Valor and the French Croix to Guerre.


What’s Next For Wilmington International Airport

Wilmington Biz

Flight conditions are clear, and business is currently flying at a higher altitude than ever before at Wilmington International Airport.

Airport revenues are up; commercial passenger figures are steady; its business park is growing; and more retail is moving onto the ILM property. Still, officials are continuing efforts to add commercial flights.

“It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint,” said airport director Julie Wilsey when discussing the growth of the airport.

“Air transportation is always going to be our primary line of business. That’s what we’re known for,” Wilsey said. “But we also realize we have a growing community, and ILM has a wealth of infrastructure, community infrastructure. And we have a lot of space so we said, ‘Why not?’ We should become a business center as well. 23rd Street is a growing area. Castle Hayne is growing.

“With as many entrepreneur companies in town who rely on air service to do their business around the globe, why not have an office right at the airport?”


Beyond runway business 

Earlier this year, ILM became the first airport business park in the country to be certified an AT&T Fiber-Ready facility. That means the business park has access to higher bandwidth for data-intensive services, and network security options.

The airport is also now a magnet site in the recently expanded Foreign Trade Zone #214, which means even more tax benefits for local businesses and manufacturers that are based within the 140-acre business park.

“ILM’s designation as a magnet site provides an extra benefit to companies expanding or relocating to our area that cannot afford to wait months for approval of their FTZ site,” said Carol LeTellier, the airport’s business development director.

Thomas Wolfe, chairman of the New Hanover County Airport Authority, said he thinks the airport is headed in the right direction.

“Long-term planning dictates staff be prepared to execute our growth projections. ILM depends and works very hard to obtain federal and state grants to ensure ILM is up to date in the latest technology, facility infrastructure and the tools to handle a small regional airport serving a million-plus passengers each year,” he said.

The business park already includes a Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic, which has a staff of 260, 84 Lumber and Battle House as well as offices for Wilmington Business Development, National Weather Service and N.C. Forest Service.

Toshiba America will soon be a new tenant in the just-completed, 10,000-square-foot flex space building. Scratch on 23rd, a new restaurant, will open in that structure as well.

“The airport is a natural economic driver in our region, and we are also pleased with their work to create a business park with shovel-ready sites as well as the recent construction of a flex-space building,” Wilmington Chamber of Commerce Chairman Mitch Lamm said.

New for ILM in 2017 is a UNCW graduate student project that will explore and evaluate various strategies for optimizing the airport’s assets and create a plan for the future of ILM Business Park.

The project, under the direction of the university’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, is expected to begin with student registration in November and commence in full in January.

By the numbers 

A recent state report shows that ILM has more than doubled its economic impact in the area over the past four years.

According to the 2016 Economic Impact of Airports in North Carolina report, produced by N.C. State University’s Institute for Transportation Research and Education, ILM will contribute roughly $1.6 billion to the region in 2016.

In 2012, the last time the report was published, the airport provided $641 million in economic impact.

In addition, the 2012 report stated that the airport supported 3,483 jobs. The 2016 report has that jobs number at 4,910.

“ILM is our region’s unsung economic development hero. It has come a long way in recent years, and its trajectory into the future is even more exciting,” Wilmington Business Development CEO Scott Satterfield said.

Closer to the runway, there is a flurry of new construction activity.

Live Oak Bank is in the midst of building its own 23,000-square-foot hangar, which is slated to become operational in early 2017.

On the other side of the runway, SeaHawk Aviation has just moved into a new 10,000-square-foot hangar to house its full-service aircraft maintenance facility.

Air Wilmington, which is ILM’s fixed base operator (FBO) serving general aviation clients, recently finished its new $3 million, 21,000-square-foot hangar.

The fight for flights

The only thing that isn’t currently expanding at ILM is its number of commercial flights and carriers.

While Delta and American Airlines, the two commercial carriers at ILM, offer direct flights to Charlotte, New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., adding more routes and a third carrier remain at the top of the to-do list for airport leaders.

“Adding new airlines and new nonstop routes are a priority for ILM. Most low-cost carriers such as Southwest or JetBlue look for a population of 1 million people or more in the MSA,” Wolfe said. “Nevertheless, we attend special industry events to meet with both existing and new airlines.”

Adding airlines is without question the most difficult aspect of Wilsey’s job as airport director.

“First of all, the airlines are in the business of making money,” she said. “They are also very sophisticated. They have data from ticket sales, they have demographic data, and they know a lot about our community and our market and the amount of yield that Wilmington produces.”

A tremendous amount of work and research goes into an airlines decision to open up shop or add routes from an existing location.

“It takes a lot of money to open a new station. It takes millions of dollars to start a new route. So they want to make sure that the business case is there, prior to investing time and planning and capitol and all that it takes to start,” Wilsey said.

“So, we talk with them all the time. We have a consultant who does this professionally, who worked for an airline in a previous career,” she said. “And we take Wilmington’s case to them frequently.”

Out of the nine commercial airports in the state, here are the largest based on total passengers.
1. Charlotte/Douglas International Airport
2. Raleigh-Durham International Airport
3. Piedmont Triad International Airport
4. Wilmington International Airport
5. Asheville Regional Airport
Source: FAA

Year                Enplaned         Total

2011                393,013           783,916
2012                389,080           773,934
2013                389,024           774,607
2014                377,784           751,584
2015                386,034           769,809
Enplaned passengers are those who departed from ILM, which the FAA tracks for federal grant funding. Total passengers include departing and arriving passengers.
Source: FAA

2006    $5,687,054
2007    $6,428,962
2008    $7,889,502
2009    $6,973,458
2010    $6,690,227
2011    $7,597,556
2012    $7,831,572
2013    $8,105,212
2014    $8,118,446
2015    $8,484,079
2016    $9,223,087
The airport’s fiscal year runs July-June.
Source: Wilmington International Airport

Work begins on homebuilt for disabled pilots

General Aviation News

On Sept. 10, 2016, members of Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 1083 in Salisbury, N.C., began building a Zenith CH 750 Cruzer at the chapter’s hangar at Rowan County Airport (KRUQ).

Joining the build was John Robinson, the founder of AV84All, a non-profit dedicated to providing access to general aviation airplanes for everyone. The Cruzer will be modified with special controls so that disabled pilots will be able to take flight.

“EAA Chapter 1083 is literally making a dream come true for AV84all,” he said. “Without their help it would take a lot longer to get this project off of the ground. They are making flying for the disabled a reality.”

CH-750. Photo by Jim Koepnick

CH-750. Photo by Jim Koepnick

Officials with the EAA chapter see the project as a win-win.

“When I was first contacted by Zenith about helping John with this special project, I felt it was a great chance to help with one of the most important missions of our chapter — to encourage, educate and promote aviation for all,” said Jack Neubacher, chapter president.

That’s the idea behind AV84All, as well. It was created by Robinson, who learned to fly in 2015 thanks to a scholarship from Able Flight.


Becoming a pilot is something Robinson has wanted to do since he was a child. He describes himself as a “basic kid” who “loved planes and fire engines.”

“I’ve always wanted to fly, but it’s an expensive hobby to undertake,” he said. “Right before I had my accident, I finally had a good job, so I was going to get all my finances squared away and get established and then do my pilot training.”

All that changed after a car accident that resulted in him becoming a quadriplegic. Instead of pursuing a career in law enforcement, he earned a Master’s Degree and taught special education students for a number of years.


He believed that learning to fly was “gone forever,” until a friend told him about Able Flight. He says he “jumped at the chance” to learn to fly and applied for a scholarship. He became part of the Class of 2015, training at Purdue University and earning his wings at a ceremony at AirVenture in Oshkosh.

The whole experience changed his life.

“I knew flying was going to be terrific, but once you’re up there and once you’re by yourself, once I soloed, it was like ‘Holy Moly,” he said. “Let’s be real, life for people in wheelchairs can be pretty boring, there’s not too many exciting things we can do. It was just the best feeling of accomplishment of being able to land and say ‘I didn’t kill myself, that was pretty cool.’ It’s pretty intense.”

After flying sometimes three times a day during his training, it was a bit of a rude awakening when he returned to North Carolina and found that there were no aircraft he could rent. To fly, he had to travel to Atlanta — a four hour drive — to rent an aircraft with special controls from the Hansen Air Group.

That led him to look into building an aircraft that would be available not just for him, but all disabled people, to fly. He admits the project has a bit of a selfish element to it.

“I’m not going to sit here and say ‘I’m just so altruistic, I just want to give back,’” he said. “Once it’s done, there’s going to be a plane there for me to fly.”


The plane, which will be based at KRUQ, will be available to anyone to rent, once it’s complete, which Robinson estimates will be in about a year.

Charles Stites, the executive director of Able Flight, is optimistic about the opportunities this project will establish for people with disabilities.

“It’s wonderful to see this project come together, not as an Able Flight project, but as an initiative of someone who has been through our program,” he said. “And it’s especially gratifying that Zenith Aircraft, a company that also supports Able Flight, has generously chosen to  work with EAA Chapter 1083 to help make this possible. I am hopeful that the success of this project will inspire similar efforts throughout the country.”


The project wouldn’t have taken off without the support of Zenith Aircraft President Sebastien Heintz, Robinson acknowledges.

“When I asked Mr. Heintz if he was willing to work with me, he generously agreed,” he said. “When it comes to the part of making adaptable controls he was very willing to do whatever it took to make this a reality.”

Zenith Aircraft will provide an engineering review to help customize the Zenith CH 750 Cruzer to better fit the needs of the pilots with disabilities involved in this project.

“One of the wonderful things about experimental amateur built airplanes is they can be fully customized by the builder to make it one of a kind,” Heintz said. “The new EAA Maker Edition of SolidWorks is a tool that will be used for the customization of the needed hand controls for this group build project. This computer-aided design software offers a huge advantage to the owner/builder/pilot when building their own aircraft, and especially for those who have a specific purpose in mind.”

Also instrumental in the project’s success is Viking Aircraft Engines, who Robinson said called him “out of the blue” and donated an entire firewall forward package for the plane. “I was blown away,” he said.

The next big expense will be avionics, he noted.


Meanwhile, work has begun on the first kit, the tail of the airplane.

“I didn’t get the whole plane at once, I got components,” he said.

Once the plane is complete, Robinson has other dreams for the non-profit AV84All, including a ground school, discovery flights, flight training, simulator sessions and more.

But first they need to complete the Cruzer. And while he’s a bit reluctant to ask, that will require further donations.

“It’s a sad fact, but the number one need is donations,” he said. “It seems that money is what gets things done here.”

Donations can be made on the group’s Facebook page and at All donations are tax-deductible.

PGV open again for general aviation flights, no water in terminal building

After being closed since last Sunday, the Pitt-Greenville Airport has reopened for general aviation flights.

Airport Executive Director Betty Stansbury says operations for general aviation resumed at 8:00 a.m.

“The terminal building did not get water in it,” said Stansbury. “It got within about 6 inches of it. It got up to the front curb but it did not go into the building.”

Stansbury says commercial flights should resume Friday morning.

Several inches of flood waters from the Tar River covered most of the runway at PGV.

Pilots N Paws touches down Hickory

Michael Praat – Hickory Daily Record

Engines recently rumbled and tails wagged on a Saturday as Pilots N Paws touched down at the Hickory Regional Airport.

Pilots N Paws a non-profit organization and local animal rescue Hartman’s Haven Dog Rescue provided transport to more than 300 rescue dogs.

The program takes dogs out of shelters that euthanize and sends them to non-kill shelters, foster homes and adoptive homes.


 Planes brought the animals from the Metro-Atlanta area, stopping in Hickory to switch planes, refuel, and lets the dogs eat and relax.

The pilots for the program are all volunteers, said Beverley Snowden, a volunteer with the program. The pilots used their own planes and fuel to transport and save the dogs. The majority of the final destinations for the dogs was Virginia; from there they go to their new homes.

Pilots came from all around including Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina.

Richard Lewis has been volunteering with the program as a pilot for about five years now, he said. Lewis said he looks on an online message board to see when animals need transportation and, if he is available, flies to get the dogs.

Hartman’s Haven provided 12 local volunteers to help attend to the dogs needs while they had their layover in Hickory.


By Elizabeth A Tennyson – AOPA

AOPA is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case involving aviation products liability, an issue that could have a significant impact on the cost of flying.

At the heart of the case is the question of whether juries can impose aircraft design standards at the state level in aviation products liability cases, in conflict with the FAA’s federal regulatory and certification standards.

Defective Products

“If a product is defective, aggrieved parties should receive compensation for injuries resulting from the defect, but standards set by the FAA, not by juries or the states themselves, should be used to determine whether the manufacturer is liable in aviation products liability cases,” said AOPA General Counsel Ken Mead. “To do otherwise conflicts with the FAA’s areas of responsibility and threatens the affordability and safety of general aviation.”

Sikkelee v. Precision Airmotive Corp (Gibsonville, NC)

The case, Sikkelee v. Precision Airmotive Corp., involves a 2005 airplane crash in North Carolina following an engine failure. The pilot was fatally injured, and his spouse filed a lawsuit against the engine’s manufacturer, claiming that the failure was the result of a design defect in the carburetor. In 2014, a U.S. District Court found that there was no design defect in the carburetor because the engine was certified and approved by the FAA. But in April of this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed that decision. It found that the FAA’s federal regulatory role did not preempt state law standards of care in aviation products liability actions. It also found that the FAA’s certification and approval of the engine did not eliminate the possibility of a design defect. That ruling allows juries to hold a manufacturer to state design standards, even if the manufacturer satisfied all FAA regulations and the FAA approved and certified the product.

“This case presents an important question about the states’ role in ensuring continued operational safety of aircraft approved by the FAA,” AOPA wrote in a friend-of-the-court brief submitted to the Supreme Court. “As owners and pilots, AOPA members have a substantial interest in the duties imposed upon manufacturers to address unsafe conditions in FAA-approved designs. These duties significantly affect the safety of existing aircraft and future aircraft produced in accordance with that design. Additionally, the cumulative cost effect of aviation products liability actions on manufacturers is also passed onto aircraft owners. Thus, state-law duties defined in an aviation products liability action affect the cost of purchasing new and maintaining existing aircraft.”

FAA Responsibilities

For decades, the FAA has been responsible not only for certifying new designs but also for monitoring, identifying, and addressing any unsafe conditions that may arise after an aircraft has been approved and certified. To ensure continued safety, the FAA may issue airworthiness directives and require manufacturers to make design changes in future production aircraft. It also must approve any and all voluntary changes to the aircraft’s design. In its brief, AOPA wrote that using state design standards in aviation liability actions interferes with these long-standing responsibilities of the FAA.

“It’s vitally important that manufacturers have one set of standards, established by the FAA, to adhere to,” said Mead. “Otherwise they can face the nearly impossible and very costly challenge of trying to follow a hodgepodge of potentially contradictory state standards. That’s bad for safety, it’s bad for manufacturers, and it’s bad for aircraft owners who end up, quite literally, paying the price.”

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) said it, too, planned to file an amicus brief in the case.

Pitt-Greenville Airport – 90 acre field of opportunity – Shannon Keith


Pitt-Greenville Airport is enlisting the help of city, county and ECU officials to create more jobs north of the Tar River in the coming decade.

Airport officials want to create a commercial/industrial development — the PGV Commerce/Technology Park — on 90 acres of property the airport authority purchased for $1.8 million in 2011. The development would generate revenue for the airport and provide services and jobs for people living in northern Pitt County, said Betty Stansbury, Pitt-Greenville Airport executive director.

“We are looking for partners to help us develop the property,” Stansbury said. “We have talked with the city and county economic development people, officials with ECU and are looking to talk with Vidant as well … we are looking at any unmet needs in the community that they be able to identify.”

The airport purchased the property along Belvoir Highway, or N.C. 33 West, east of Oak Grove subdivision to prevent development that would clash with the airport’s flight patterns, such as housing, a school or church.

Thinking ahead

Officials then began to think how the land could be used to generate revenue and stimulate commercial and perhaps light industrial growth.

Airports in cities such as Provo, Utah; Rockford, Ill.; San Bernardino, Calif.; and Brunswick, Ga., have secured money from the federal Economic Development Administration that has paid for infrastructure and roadway improvements and an industrial park.


Using these grants, the airport would be responsible for site development, installing the roads, curbing, water, sewer and other infrastructure, and prospective businesses would enter long-term leases and build their own structures.

Former Pitt-Greenville Airport executive director Jerry Vickers discussed the project with the Pitt County Board of Commissioners in early March and secured a letter of support from the board to the Mid-East Commission, which assists with the grant applications. Such a letter is a prerequisite for applying for federal grants. The airport’s board directed Stansbury to continue the project after Vickers’ retirement.

“The board wants to develop something that brings higher paying jobs north of the river,” Stansbury said. “The roads and utilities are already adjacent to the property and it is ready to be developed … we just have to identify the right use.”

‘Change a community’

Before coming to Greenville, Stansbury was the director at Purdue University Airport in West Lafayette, Ind. The airport is only one of 13 university-owned airports in the United States and is the second-busiest airport in Indiana.

About 2 miles north of Purdue University’s campus is the 725-acre Purdue Research Park, the largest university-affiliated research park in the United States with almost 200 companies in numerous industries including biology, materials science and information science.

Stansbury said because Pitt County is so heavily involved in health sciences through East Carolina University and Vidant Health, the PGV Commerce/Technology Park could develop something similar on a smaller scale.

“I’ve seen this business model … and I’ve seen this business model be successful,” Stansbury said. “Part of what attracted me to Greenville was ECU and the potential that comes out of a university. A park like this very well could be where new startup companies can form through the new technologies coming out of ECU and Vidant. These start-up companies have the potential to change the world.

“I’ve seen these companies form and seen how the jobs they bring can change a community,” she said.

Stansbury said the site also is well-suited for light-industrial uses or for a company that wants to establish a corporate headquarters in the area.

“We are looking at clean industries, like companies that wash and package leafy greens,” Stansbury said. “Those types of industries require access to an abundance of fresh water, which we have there. However, other businesses, like a corporate headquarters, may require access to an airport for its executives. There are a lot of different options … that’s why we are reaching out to see if there are any unmet needs in the community.”

It’s always good to have options’

Greenville’s Economic Development Manager Roger Johnson said the city will be working with the airport to help develop strategies for developing and marketing the PGV Commerce/Technology Park.

“During the City Council’s planning retreat in January, council members directed staff to look for ways to promote economic development north of the river,” Johnson said. “We saw a great opportunity to do that when Betty Stansbury reached out to us. I think that site shows a lot of potential.”

Johnson said that even though there already are several industrial parks in Greenville and Pitt County, the PGV Commerce/Technology Park would not be competing for companies looking to locate in the area.

“Part of the strategy is the recruiting of different types of businesses or industries,” Johnson said. “Different companies have different requirements and we can suggest sites that best suits their needs. These parks will complement one another instead of competing with one another.

“Even though the property may be outside Greenville city limits, any development there will benefit all of Pitt County,” he said. “Economic development has to be a team sport and a lot of the growth we are seeing is a result of the cooperation we have here.”

Wanda Yuhas, executive director of the Pitt County Development Commission, agreed.

“It’s always good to have options to give companies looking to locate in eastern North Carolina,” Yuhas said. “The more options we have, the better it is for everyone.”

Yuhas said the county also will be assisting the airport in marketing the complex to prospective businesses. Yuhas said that recent developments, like the efforts to obtain interstate designation for U.S. 264, the CSX railway terminal being constructed in Edgecombe County and the airport’s future expansion project, potentially will attract new industries to the region.

“Darwin said ‘it is not the strongest of the species or the most intelligent that survives … it is the one that is most adaptable to change,’” Yuhas said. “We are showing how adaptable we are in this area. We are transitioning from being a really big town to being a genuine city and the groundwork is being laid to accommodate that growth.

“It’s a really exciting time,” she said.


Fear of flying: GOP lawmakers worry about security gaps at Cuban airports

Global Opinions

In pursuing his historic opening of relations with Cuba, President Obama has frequently pushed legal and political boundaries. Now congressional Republicans are up in arms about another such initiative: an airline travel agreement they say exposes the United States to dangerous security gaps at Cuban airports.

Congressional committees charged with overseeing the Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration have engaged in a months-long feud with the administration over security vulnerabilities at 10 Cuban airports that have begun direct flights to the United States. The lawmakers say the lapses increase the risk of terrorists, criminals, drugs and spies entering the United States.

The security dogs that can be seen at Cuban airports are “mangy street dogs” that were fraudulently posed as trained animals, the TSA’s top official for the Caribbean, Larry Mizell, told congressional officials behind closed doors in March, according to these officials.

He also told them there are few body scanners at the Cuban airports and that those in place are Chinese-made versions for which no reliability data exists.

When direct commercial flights began in August, federal air marshals were not allowed on them by order of the Cuban government. No TSA personnel can be stationed at the Cuban airports. All of the local airport employees for the U.S. carriers are being hired, vetted and paid by the Cuban regime, lawmakers said, and the United States has not been given information that resulted from their vetting or how it was conducted.

Historic JetBlue flight touches down in Cuba

A JetBlue Airways passenger jet landed in the central Cuban city of Santa Clara on Aug. 31, becoming the first scheduled commercial passenger flight from the United States to the island in more than a half century. (Reuters)

“In an effort to secure Obama’s legacy on Cuba, they rushed to get it done without doing the proper due diligence,” said Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s subcommittee on transportation security. “Our concern is oversight, to make sure what the agency tells us we can verify. There are still a lot of things we don’t know. What we do know is troubling.”

Two TSA officials told me that agency personnel have made several visits to each of the 10 Cuban airports that have been certified as “last points of departure” for direct flights to the United States and that the agency is confident they are safe for Americans to fly to and from. All 10 airports meet the minimum standards for security under U.S. and international law, the officials said.

But the TSA officials declined to comment on any of the vulnerabilities identified by the oversight committees, citing those details as “security sensitive information.” Several congressional officials said that when Mizell, the TSA official, originally told lawmakers and staff about the problems, no claim was made about information sensitivity. But when the committee convened open hearings on the issue, officials refused to repeat the facts in public.

The TSA officials also said the Cuban government had finally agreed to allow federal air marshals on commercial flights to and from Cuba on Sept. 26. The administration has not provided the text of that agreement to Congress because it was still being translated from Spanish to English, the officials said.

In June, a group of lawmakers tried to visit the Cuban airports to review matters for themselves, but the Cuban government denied their visas. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), the leader of the would-be delegation, told me that the administration, which he said denied repeated requests for assistance and information, was ultimately responsible for thwarting congressional oversight.

“It is my responsibility to ensure that any administration puts the safety and security of the American people above all else,” McCaul said. “Like with the Iran deal and so many other times, the Obama administration prioritizes legacy building at the expense of national security.”

Only days after the lawmakers were denied visas, NBA basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal was granted a visa to visit Cuba as part of a State Department cultural exchange program.

Vintage aircraft with pilot onboard crashes in Long View

Hickory Crash


Emergency officials in Catawba County say the pilot of a vintage aircraft has died after the plane crashed into a building in Long View.

Catawba County Emergency Manager Karen Yaussy said 81-year-old George Baxter Harris of the Hickory area was the only person onboard the Culver PQ-14A when it crashed Saturday around 1:10 p.m.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the aircraft was headed to Hickory Regional Airport when it crashed, adding that it had also left from the airport earlier.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force says on its web page that the Culver Aircraft Corp. built three basic models in quantity for the Army in 1940. The PQ series was initially designed as radio-controlled target aircraft for training anti-aircraft artillery gunners for the Army and the Navy.