Robert Opie Lindsay honored with historical highway marker

Rockingham Now – Joe Dexter

Citizens were reminded of one of Rockingham County’s unsung heroes on July 30, during the dedication and unveiling of a North Carolina Highway Historical Marker honoring World War I fighter pilot Robert Opie Lindsay.

The marker is the 24th of its kind placed in Rockingham County. Over 1,500 state highway historical markers have been erected across the state’s 100 counties since 1936.

The dedication program and unveiling of the historical marker placed on the corner of U.S. 311 and Lindsay Bridge Road was sponsored by The Museum and Archives of Rockingham County in cooperation with the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and N.C. DOT.

Residents gathered in the McMichael Community Room of the Madison-Mayodan Public Library were taken back to the beginning of combat aviation, as historians and fellow fighter pilots painted a picture of the fortitude flowing in the blood of one Opie Lindsay – an innovator born near Madison on Christmas Day in 1894.

A man that 24 years later, become a North Carolina icon in a span of six weeks.

From September to October of 1918, just a month prior armistice of 1918, Opie Lindsay shot down six German planes, becoming the only Tar Heel pilot to earn the designation of “ace”

According to documents housed online by The University Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina Pilots flying with the Royal Air Force, French squadrons or U.S. Navy may have downed over 100 German planes during World War I.

His six combat victories were made official by ground observers during that period.

Mayor David Myers, who spoke during the dedication ceremony, gave those in attendance a vivid look into the everyday life of a fighter pilot risking life and death for his country in a primitive machine.

Myers, who rose to the rank of colonel during 30 years in the United States Marine Corps, retired in 2012 with more than 3,000 flight hours and 110 combat missions under his belt.

The accomplished compatriot credited Lindsay for creating a pathway for him to succeed in the air, as well as planting a foundation for the future of air service.

“It puts [the Town of Madison] on a new level,” said Myers, following the unveiling of the historical marker. “This gentleman laid a foundation for future aviation and fighting in air. If you look at Nellis Fighter Weapons School and TOPGUN, all of it started with pilots flying by the seats of their pants — literally. This means a lot to the community.”

Fellow pilot Mark Richardson also rose to the rank of colonel during his 24 years in the United States Air Force. The chairman of the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners shared during the ceremony that Lindsay’s accomplishments are stunning. According to Richardson, less than one in ten million Americans have ever achieved ace status.

“Even as a fighter pilot myself I cannot begin to explain all of the actions of Opie Lindsay,” Richardson said. “At that time, he flew an aircraft that was open cockpit with manual machine guns, unreliable engines and no verbal communication between aircraft. Everything in aircraft aviation was evolving and evolving very fast.

“…Your main source of protection was having a sharp eye, one that can find the enemy before they saw you. Your chariot was made of fabric, wood, wire and a very unreliable engine. You had no armor whatsoever. Some pilots sat on their helmet to provide some measure of protection. The only thing you had to protect you was having superior skills to that of your foe. To have survived even a few weeks in that environment is indeed an accomplishment and to make it through two world wars is extraordinary.”

Muriel Opie Lindsay, who paid tribute to her father during the dedication ceremony, was honored with the unveiling of the historical marker.

The Georgia resident read letters from her father’s post-war journal and gave the audience a sense of Opie’s character through a wartime letter that was sent home following an engagement overseas.

The story humorously depicted a crash in what was thought to be enemy territory. After watching his engine fail due to a spark-plug malfunction, Lindsay attempted to land his plane in safe territory by heading back towards France. His only problem was that no matter what direction he headed, his compass told him he was due north.

Lindsay lost her father at a young age but remembers him through his chronicles throughout the years.

She discovered him as a young man who thought long and deep about life. She did so through a journal he had written in for five years following the First World War.

Muriel read from those words of discovery, that never once mentioned the war, 75 years after her father first penned them.

“There really are no words,” said Muriel Lindsay after removing the covering over the historical marker prominently displaying the accolades of her father. “This has meaning beyond what I even knew it was going to. I’m just going to have to be with it a day a two. “I’m grateful and I don’t know why exactly, but that’s how I feel.”

For Richardson, gratefulness lies in the example Opie Lindsay set by exploring his own talents and making an indelible contribution to his nation. Richardson said honoring the Madison native wasn’t just right thing to do just because he was in need of another accolade .

“It’s the right thing to do because we need to remind our fellow citizens, especially our youth, that we have talents well beyond what we recognize on a daily basis,” Richardson said. We have capabilities waiting the opportunity to emerge. We too can make extraordinary contributions to both mankind and our country.

“We can use this sign, perhaps most effectively, as a reminder and training opportunity to remind our youth and fellow citizens of these potentials. And if we indeed take this opportunity and use this historic marker in such a way, today will not only have been a great day, it will help verify that you are living in a great place and doing the right thing.”


Former North State Aviation managers buy assets of closed company

Richard Craver – Winston Salem Journal

 A local aviation management group is attempting to resurrect for a second time an aircraft maintenance company at Smith Reynolds Airport.

Charlie Creech, president of North State Aviation Holdings LLC, said in a statement Tuesday that his group has purchased the assets of North State Aviation LLC, which abruptly went out of business March 23, eliminating 345 local jobs.

The closed entity specialized in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of large transport aircraft, with United Airlines by far its largest customer.

Creech said the asset purchase “represents a strategic opportunity for the new North State to offer maintenance, repair and overhaul services to the aviation industry.”

Creech could not be reached immediately for further comment, in particular on how challenging it could be for the new company to rehire former employees and secure previous or new contracts. Other aircraft maintenance companies, both regionally and nationally, have conducted job fairs for North State employees.

The assets of inventory, tooling and equipment were purchased in a bid process from NSA Holdings Inc., an entity that held the assets after the closing. The price was not disclosed.

Gary Smith, North State Aviation’s president and chief executive at the time of the closing, was responsible for conducting an inventory of the assets and preparing the request for bids during the wind down of the closed business. Smith said the new entity “had the full support of the Airport Commission of Forsyth County.”

North State Aviation Holdings was formed April 28, according to the N.C. Secretary of State’s website. Listed as managers were Creech and other former North State Aviation LLC officers David Coe, Russell Kota, Joel Marion and Kenda Richards.

Scott Piper, chairman of the airport commission, said in the statement that “we look forward to airplanes and employees once again occupying 4001 North Liberty St.”

In an interview with the Journal, Piper acknowledged that the new North State Aviation entity will face challenges in gaining contracts and employees.

“I’m optimistic from our conversations with the management group that they will be able to accomplish their goals, starting with an appropriate ramp-up of business to become viable once again soon,” Piper said.

When North State Aviation LLC closed, it cited an “unforeseeable significant downturn in business” in a notice required by the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. The act is a labor law that requires employers with 100 or more employees to provide a 60-day notice before plant closings and mass layoffs.

“Due to declining revenue and difficult business conditions, we were forced to take this action,” Smith said March 23. He said the company was facing increased competition for business from companies outside the United States.

The company’s second location in Kinston, which opened in September 2015, had shut down prior to the local closing. North State had pledged to hire 109 employees in Kinston and to spend $900,000 on capital investments at the Global TransPark site.

North State Aviation LLC took over the airport production space of Pace Airlines, which closed abruptly in September 2009, putting 423 employees, including about 300 locally, out of work.

The company, which opened in early 2011, vowed to have at least 308 employees within four years when it was made eligible for $300,000 in performance-based state incentives. It had 28 employees at that time.

For the Kinston project, the company had been made eligible for up to $250,000 in performance-based economic incentives from the One North Carolina Fund, along with matching local incentives.

Private planes may not be taxed under Trump’s plan


President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser said Tuesday that the administration’s proposal to modernize U.S. air traffic control “probably” would not include a tax on general aviation or business aircraft.

“We’re probably not even going to tax general aviation,” Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, told a group of corporate executives at the White House. “There’s enough money in the aviation tax rate now.”

That could help sell the Trump proposal to opponents, including general aviation manufacturers and lawmakers from rural states.

Major airlines have been pushing to transfer control of the country’s airspace from the Federal Aviation Administration to a private, nonprofit board governed by the airlines.

General aviation manufacturers have opposed the plan because of concerns about how the fee structure might affect their business, and some members of Congress oppose it because it would circumvent the standard legislative process.

Cohn said current aviation taxes were enough to support the proposed changes, which would enable a faster conversion of air traffic control from land-based radar to more a more modern GPS system.

Fixing U.S. airspace was among the administration’s top infrastructure priorities, Cohn said. He noted that other countries had already updated their systems.

“A country that has Silicon Valley and all of the technology entrepreneurs we have, and we’re playing catch-up,” he said. “That’s embarrassing for us.”

Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, tried to move legislation early last year to make the changes to U.S. airspace, but couldn’t get it to the House floor. Trump revived the proposal in his budget plan last month.

Congress must reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration by the end of September, and the White House proposal could be a sticking point.

Lawmakers from general aviation manufacturing states, including Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, oppose removing air traffic control from the FAA. So do members of the House Appropriations Committee, including Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., whose rural district includes numerous general aviation airports.

Moran said his concerns about the impact to general aviation and small airports remained even if there was a promise of no tax increase.

“The question becomes if it’s privatized and made up of a board of people who are generally associated with the airlines, who is there to prevent an increase in cost to general aviation?” Moran said.

Moran warned that the proposal would take away authority from Congress and jeopardize services for small airports.

“If you have a private board that is making decisions,” he said, “there still is no voice for small town airports and Congress has little or no ability to alter those decisions.”

Selena Shilad, executive director of the Alliance for Aviation Across America, which opposes the change, expressed similar concerns.

“All of these decisions would be made according to what is in the private interests of members of the board, as opposed to Congress, which has direct accountability to public citizens and communities and businesses of all sizes,” she said in a statement.

Most major airlines support the proposal. So does the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

“This is a project that is so interesting and enticing,” Cohn said. “the unions support doing it.”

He enlisted the help of the executives gathered at the White House, many of whom fly in corporate jets, to bring the general aviation community on board. He asked House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who was in the room Tuesday, to convince reluctant lawmakers.

“Everyone else in the system is going to be happy with this,” Cohn said.

Triad aviation execs to receive “golden parachute” after merger

Katie Arcieri – Triad Bus Journal

The top executive of B/E Aerospace in Winston-Salem and the company’s founder would together receive a total “golden parachute” compensation package of nearly $62 million once the aircraft interiors supplier is sold to Iowa-based Rockwell Collins for $8.3 billion, according to a recent SEC filing.

Werner Lieberherr, B/E Aerospace’s president and CEO who manages the Winston-Salem operations, would receive $29.14 million, including $12.6 million in cash; $16.4 million in equity and $140,465 in perks. The merger is expected to close this spring, after which Rockwell Collins would grant Lieberherr a $2 million cash retention award, which will become payable in a lump sum on the first anniversary of the effective date of the merger. If Lieberherr’s employment is terminated by Rockwell Collins without “cause” or he resigns for “good reason,” the retention award would be paid in a lump sum on the 16th day after his date of his termination.

Meanwhile, Amin Khoury, the founder and executive chairman of B/E Aerospace (NASDAQ: BEAV), would receive $32.4 million, including $16.5 million in cash and $15.9 million in equity.

B/E executive Ryan Patch, the firm’s general counsel, can expect to receive $8 million; Chief Financial Officer Joseph Lower, $9.9 million; Sean Cromie, general manager of B/E Aerospace’s commercial aircraft segment, $4.27 million; and Tommy Plant, vice president and general manager of seating, $3.68 million.

Golden parachutes are payments given to executives if they are dismissed after a merger is complete.

Lieberherr has a new employment agreement with Rockwell Collins, where he would serve as executive vice president of Rockwell Collins and chief operating officer of Rockwell Collins’ aircraft interior systems business unit for an indefinite employment term. Lieberherr would receive an annual base salary of $875,000 and an automobile allowance of at least $1,700 per month.

B/E is headquartered in Wellington, Fla., but is operationally run from the Twin City, where the firm houses its aircraft seating product division and commercial aircraft segment. B/E Aerospace also houses numerous core functions in Winston-Salem, ranging from strategy and global operations to human resources, supply chain and marketing.




Crew members from numerous Apollo missions expected to attend

Astronauts from the Apollo missions that put humans on the moon for the first time are expected to be at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017, as the “World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration” commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo program.

The 65th annual Experimental Aircraft Association fly-in convention is July 24-30 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

The reunion is expected to be the largest gathering of Apollo astronauts at Oshkosh since the memorable 1994 “Salute to Apollo” program that brought together 15 of the men who were the faces of the American effort to put men on the moon. Many of the activities will be centered on AirVenture’s Apollo Day on Friday, July 28, which is highlighted by a major evening program at Theater in the Woods.

“A number of Apollo astronauts have already committed to the event, as have other people closely involved with America’s space program during that era,” said Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities and member benefits who coordinates AirVenture features and attractions. “This will be a rare, unforgettable gathering of the people who met the challenge of flying to the moon and safely returning, representing hundreds of thousands of individuals who contributed to its success. You may never get another opportunity to see the people in person, up close, as you will at Oshkosh this summer.”

It is expected that crew members representing many of the Apollo missions will attend. Those who have already confirmed their attendance include:


Frank Borman (Apollo 8)

Walt Cunningham (Apollo 7)

Fred Haise (Apollo 13)

Jim Lovell (Apollo 8 and Apollo 13)

Al Worden (Apollo 15)


Additional astronauts are expected to confirm their attendance in the coming weeks. Further details on events and schedules will be announced as they are finalized.

January 24, 1961: Hydrogen Bombs Fell Over North Carolina

On January 24, 1961, blistering orange flames light up an inky sky in the early hours.

A B-52G jet carrying a crew of eight people and two hydrogen bombs disintegrates in midair over the small farming community of Faro in Wayne County. Before the explosion, the jet was in the air for 12 hours — only halfway through its routine mission over the Atlantic Seaboard — when without warning, it lost 19 tons of fuel pressure in just two minutes.

First Lt. Adam Mattocks is 27, a North Carolina A&T State University graduate, and the third pilot on the flight. It is a routine mission. The plane is part of a fleet of about a dozen bombers in the air, ready to defend the country against the Soviet Union as part of the strategic air command.

When the fuel pressure drops, near Raleigh, the pilots set out to try to land at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro. The crew, including Mattocks, levels the jet off at 10,000 feet with a technique called “slow flight” that checks to see if the plane has enough fuel to land.

The right wing breaks loose.

While the plane nosedives and spins to the earth, Mattocks unbuckles his seat belt. The pressure of the g-forces flings him 10 feet across the plane and pins him against the floor. He prays. Lord, if I go, take me home to heaven. The copilot opens his hatch and jumps out of the plane. The aircraft commander follows. Mattocks pulls himself off the floor and heads for the hatch. He plummets into the darkness and opens his parachute.

Lit up

Newspapers interview witnesses who say the explosion looked like daylight, while others liken the spinning aircraft to a Roman candle. A farmer runs to his window and sees his field light up in fireballs. A woman drops to her knees and prays, certain Armageddon arrived. Another man thinks a plane crashed into his parents’ house. All he can see is fire.

The debris field lies north of Musgrave’s Crossroads, near Faro and Eureka.

Billy Reeves, who is 18 and lives outside of Faro, has just gone to bed when he hears a strange sound. His room lights up. He runs to the window. He sees a plane coming down, sputtering twice before it crashes to the ground.

Earl Lancaster, the assistant fire chief for the Faro Volunteer Fire Department, rushes to the scene in his fire truck. Everything burns. Within an hour, helicopters swarm the area, and Air Force officials urge everyone to evacuate. “They told us to git, and we got,” Lancaster tells the local paper.

Although five of the crew members parachute to safety, three men die. The body of 41-year-old Maj. Eugene Shelton, a radio navigator, is found two miles from the crash site, hanging from a tree by his red-and-white parachute.

The bodies of two others — Maj. Eugene Richards, an electronics weapons officer from Toccoa, Georgia; and Sgt. Francis Barnish of Greenfield, Massachusetts — are found in the nose of the plane. They worked in the tail.

Survivors believe the pilot, Maj. Walter Tulloch of San Diego, California, is also dead, but he appears just after dawn, walking out of the mucky swampland.

Meanwhile, someone spots one of the bombs, 11½ feet long, next to a tree near Reeves’s home. Five of the six arming devices have been activated.

Almost Hiroshima

Mattocks lands beside a farmhouse. He pulls off his mask and tells the family who he is; they drive him to the base. But he has no identification. The g-forces ripped his pockets off.

To the guards, he is simply a man improperly wearing a military uniform.

Officers detain him at the gate; he tries to explain. They won’t listen. Twenty minutes later, Tulloch, the pilot, arrives at the gate. He, too, has no identification.

Finally, officers call an ambulance.

Back at the crash site, concern centers on two things: The three dead men and the two MK39 thermonuclear devices — two-and-a-half-megaton bombs — that ejected from the jet as the aircraft blew apart. The bombs are 500 times more powerful than the bomb that devastated Hiroshima, Japan.

The parachuted bomb imbeds itself 18 inches into the ground next to Shackleford Road. It is deactivated without much trouble, loaded onto a truck, and taken to Texas to be analyzed.

The other bomb, though, burrows 50 feet into a swamp owned by C.T. Davis.

The military immediately issues a statement to reporters that two bombs have been recovered, the bombs have been unarmed, and the situation is safe.

Joel Dobson, author of The Goldsboro Broken Arrow, writes later that the military didn’t tell the press the entire truth.

“In reality, only one of those things was true,” he writes. “There were two bombs.”

The Air Force digs in Davis’s swamp for the missing bomb. But after 20 feet, the hole begins to fill with water. Crews have 16 pumps; the men suck 20,000 gallons of water an hour out of the hole, but the water keeps coming.

The Air Force fills in the hole.

Parts of the bomb remain in the ground.

Digging for bombs

A half-century later, the morning of January 24 is still vivid to Mattocks and everyone else associated with the events.

“It happened so fast,” says Mattocks, who is now 78 and lives near Jacksonville.

Says Reeves, the 18-year-old who was roused from bed by the explosion: “My room became red as fire,” he says.

The government still collects samples from wells near the crash. The military purchased an easement from Davis and his heirs for $1,000. The agreement says, “no current or future landowner may dig or drill deeper than five feet or ever use the land again in any manner other than growing crops, timber, or pastureland.”

The official account from the Pentagon states that there “was no hazard in the area” but that pieces of the bomb that crashed into the swamp broke off, and one of those pieces was never found.

Dr. Jack Revelle, the officer who deactivated the bombs at the site, says that if one of the bombs had gone off, our state wouldn’t be the same today.

“You might now have a very large Bay of North Carolina if that thing had gone off,” Revelle says.

Today, when people walk by the swamp on Davis’s land, they may never know that 50 years ago that same midnight sky lit up in flames and the people of Goldsboro thought the world had ended.

This story was published on May 29, 2012 by Caron Myers. WFMY News 2 was granted written permission to republish onto its website by Myers and Our State Magazine. Myers is a former TV reporter in the Triad and freelance writer. Her most recent book is Captain Steven, The Little Pirate who Fought the Big C. She lives with her husband, Danny “Chocolate” Myers, in Davidson County.

Sam Hill, CEO Quest Aircraft

Flight Global

What sparked your interest in aviation?

I grew up next to the airport in Greensboro, North Carolina and always enjoyed watching the aircraft land and take off at the airport. My neighbor owned a Stinson Voyager and would take the local kids up on the weekends. I got the love of flying from those experiences, however, it was a very rough flight between Greensboro and Washington DC that convinced me that this was what I wanted to do the rest of my life.

Tell us about your career to date

In 1966, I went to work as a Station Agent for Piedmont Airlines. From there, I went to the Aviation Academy of North Carolina, where I earned my commercial pilot, instrument pilot, multi-engine, flight and ground instructor ratings. I spent a year at Raleigh Durham Aviation as a charter pilot and flight instructor, before moving to Continental Grain Company where I spent 10 years as a corporate pilot. After that I spent five years with AVX Corporation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as director of flight operations before returning to North Carolina to take over as general manager of aircraft and flight services for Piedmont Aviation. I then spent several years managing various aviation projects as well as evaluating and developing strategies for aviation industry investments, including piloting the launch of Mil-Brooke Helicopters. In 1995, I joined the USA-based Embraer Aircraft Corporation and held several leadership positions. I was involved in starting Embraer’s corporate aircraft division and launching the Legacy 600, the company’s first executive jet. Following my time at Embraer, I spent time with a leading aviation consulting firm as the managing director of business development. I joined Honda Aircraft as senior vice-president of sales and marketing in 2008. I retired from Honda in early 2012. I was familiar with Quest and got to know the then-chairman of the board and acting chief executive, Dave Vander Griend, who had led the initial financing transaction for recapitalisation and new investment in Quest in 2011. I began doing some consulting work with Dave and Quest, and he asked me to take over as chief executive in November 2012.

What are the highlights?

Working with Mil Moscow Helicopter in Soviet Union/Russia to introduce them to how to do business in the West and to support Mil Helicopters in the field. (not that they took advantage of what we shared with them). Being part of the senior management team responsible for the successful privatisation and financial turnaround of Embraer and being part of the successful financial turnaround of Quest Aircraft.

The lowlights?

I have loved every chapter of my aviation career, however one of the biggest disappointments was not being able to deliver a HondaJet to the dealers who worked so hard to stay in the programme even though US Federal Aviation Administration certification was delayed beyond my tenure at Honda.

Asset Image

Quest Aircraft

What does your current job entail?

As chief executive of Quest, I am responsible for all aspects of the business – manufacturing, sales, customer support, new business development, etc. However, our team is very capable and they handle all of the day-to-day details. I am very fortunate to work with such a capable senior management group.

Was it hard breaking into the single-engined turboprop market with so many long-established players?

Quest was started because there was a need for a modern turbine aircraft to replace the tired piston fleet used in Mission Aviation groups in remote areas of the world. The Kodiak was perfect for this purpose. Later this translated into a great niche aircraft for many purposes. Today, we have aircraft serving in almost all categories: special mission, personal use, government, commercial operations, and mission and humanitarian operations.

How is the sector faring today?

Competition is very strong, but we feel that the Kodiak 100 is proving that it competes very well in the market place.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

After 50 years in the industry, I still look forward to interacting with the people who love aviation as much as I do. We are very fortunate to be part of this relatively small group of special people.

You are set to retire in February. What are your plans?

I will be staying on as an advisor to Quest and also as a member of the board of directors. In addition, I will continue to be involved in other entities of Quest’s parent company, Setouchi Holdings. One of those is the recently launched SALT – an aircraft leasing and financing company, where I also serve as chief executive. I am also looking forward to less time traveling and more time at home.

From The Air, NC Wildfires Are Dramatic And Gloomy

David Boraks – WFAE

Unhealthy air is now covering the region, as smokes creeps east from wildfires in western North Carolina. You can see it as you walk down the street. From above, it’s even more dramatic, says . WFAE environmental reporter David Boraks. He flew over the fire zone Friday and has this report:

Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins tries to get up in the air every few weeks or so to photograph environmental threats along the river.  The flight plan today includes another item: Checking on fires that have burned nearly 50,000 acres across western North Carolina since Oct. 23.

“We are going to fly over most of the upper Catawba River basin and we will shoot kind of east northeast, go around south mountain state park, and should be up wind of and have a good shot of the wildfires,” Perkins said.

It’s sunny and hazy as our single-engine Cessna takes off from Shelby-Cleveland County Regional Airport. Pretty quickly, we’re up a thousand feet.

The first thing you notice is that there IS a blue sky up there this week.  But there’s also a blanket of brown smoke, in some places so thick you can’t see the ground or the mountains.

It crawls up mountainsides and fills valleys. Some peaks are tall enough to poke above the gloom.

Pilot Pete Stauble says it’s easy to make out where it’s coming from.

PETE:  I can definitely see a little open path here between the two fires.

DAVID Do you know which fire is which?

PETE: This would be South Mountain State Park over here and that would be Lake Lure over there.

The South Mountain, or Chestnut Knob fire has burned about 6,000 acres about 10 miles south of Morganton.  The Lake Lure, or Party Rock fire, covers about 6,700 acres around Lake Lure and Chimney Rock.

Altogether, 15 fires are still burning across the western part of the state. Authorities think many were man-made, some possibly arson.

Perkins said smoke from the fires is the worst he’s seen in North Carolina.

It’s amazing. Usually you can see more than a mile or two in the distance and you can get a beautiful lay of the land. Today is just way too thick to see anything.

Stauble has a word for it: “We’re flying in the soup. It was quite heavy today as far as the smoke coverage.”

At one point Stauble had to turn the plane away from an ominous cloud over the South Mountain fire.

That’s almost scary, Perkins said. “It’s like something out of a Harry Potter book or something an evil dark cloud that you can’t go near,” he said.

Gov. Pat McCrory says the state already has spent about 10 million dollars fighting the fires. And it could get worse before it gets better.

Weekend winds – with gusts over 30 miles an hour – could fan the flames, and cause the fires to spread.

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.


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.