Search This Blog

Monday, November 26, 2018

NASA's Virginia facility selected as Rocket Lab’s US spaceport

     Rocket Lab confirmed that it will build its first US launch pad for the Electron rocket that will launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, located in Virginia. The launch site will be called Launch Complex 2 since Rocket Lab's Launch Complex 1 is located in New Zealand.
     The company made its final decision based on time for launch pad development, customizability for the Electron launch vehicle as well as whether it could support 12 launches a year and reach multiple orbital inclinations.
     Launch Complex 2 will be capable of supporting monthly orbital launches and is designed to serve US government and commercial missions. The site brings Rocket Lab’s global launch availability across two launch complexes to more than 130 missions per year.
     Through construction and day-to-day operations, Rocket Lab expects to create around 30 jobs immediately to directly support Launch Complex 2, with this number predicted to increase to approximately 100 as launch frequency increases. The development of Launch Complex 2 will also see Rocket Lab continue to expand Electron rocket production at the company’s headquarters in Huntington Beach, California, to supply complete launch vehicles for government and commercial customers.
     “We are honored to be Rocket Lab’s selection for Launch Complex 2” stated Dale Nash, CEO and Executive Director of Virginia Space. “There is an incredible synergy between Virginia Space and Rocket Lab and we are proud to support their missions launching from U.S. soil.”
Rocket Lab, NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility and Virginia Space are looking to launch the first Electron from LC-2 at Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) as early as Summer 2019.
      “Rocket Lab’s decision to locate this launch site and integration facility at Wallops Island reflects the Commonwealth’s strategic transportation planning efforts to create a world class, customer-oriented gateway to space,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine.  “The MARS facility is an important part of our multi-modal transportation system that serves as the platform to drive Virginia’s economy forward.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

City of Manassas Wins Governor’s Technology Award

At a conference last week, City of Manassas GIS and Airport staff received the Governor’s Technology Award for their new app,  the Regional Airport Inspection Application. This new application allows the Manassas Regional Airport to perform FAA required runway and airport property inspections electronically on their mobile devices.

The application that staff members Margaret Montgomery, GIS Coordinator, and Richard Allabaugh, Airport Operations, created reduces the need for paper reports and maps, decreases the time to transmit findings to maintenance staff, eliminates the confusion of handwritten notes, and increases the ease in locating archived records and generating maps. This app will also allow for easy archiving and greater ease of access for staff.

“This is no small achievement because the competition was even fiercer than usual,” said Jack Mortimer, Vice President of Events for Government Technology Magazine. “The panel of 12 judges from state, county, city and education faced a difficult challenge but your entry stood out as being clearly praiseworthy. Congratulations!”

The winners were recognized at the Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium (COVITS) in Richmond.

Monday, August 27, 2018

‘Wolf Hound’ scenes filmed in Suffolk skies

      The film crew arrived in Suffolk in August to capture aerial footage for the World War II action movie “Wolf Hound,” which is currently in principal photography. Mechanics, pilots and four genuine warplanes from the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach were fueled and ready to take flight so the crew could capture every maneuver.
     Director Michael B. Chait explained that the surrounding Suffolk landscape was ideal for a skirmish in Nazi-occupied France circa 1944. The wooded area as well as the historic aircraft provided the perfect backdrop for the film.
     “Wolf Hound” takes place in the course of a single day in 1944 France. An Allied pilot is escorting a B-17 bomber into Nazi territory and engages a Nazi aircraft. The dogfight cripples both aircraft, and the pilots parachute into the forest below where their cat-and-mouse game continues.
     The museum provided three warbirds for filming earlier this month: a Hawker Hurricane, MK-1XE Supermarine Spitfire and the P-51 Mustang dubbed “Double Trouble Two.” Chief Pilot Mike Spalding flew the P-51 with Maslow in the seat behind him to capture Maslow’s character flying with camera shots of him inside the cockpit.
     Military Aviation Museum Pilot John Mazza, whose call sign is “Pappy”, was flying the Spitfire between 150 to 200 knots for aerial shots of engagement moves. He said he was smiling ear-to-ear in the cockpit. When asked how the plane handled, he quoted the late Geoffrey Wellum, a veteran of the Royal Air Force during World War II who piloted a Spitfire extensively in the Battle of Britain.
    “You can’t fly a Spitfire and forget about it; it stays with you,’” Mazza said inside the Spitfire cockpit, quoting Wellum. “Now I’ll give you a Pappy quote: you haven’t flown until you’ve flown a Spitfire. It’s the most graceful, maneuverable plane.”
     Robert Dickson Jr. who is a caretaker of history, flew a P-51 Mustang he owns with his father called “Swamp Fox.” This plane underwent complete restoration for five years before the Dicksons purchased it in 2012.
     Most of the Military Aviation Museum pilots that flew for the film have been airborne since they were just children and all of them were encouraged by Chait and his crew’s commitment to authenticity.
     The Military Aviation Museum crew was excited to help bring real World War II planes to movie theaters as opposed to CGI. Chait said he used actual warplanes not just for the audience to enjoy the “excitement and awe-inspiring visuals,” but also to give “the most respectful, regal treatment to the actual veterans.”
     “It’s like a tribute and an homage to them in showing the audience what this was for real,” Chait said. “Using the actual aircraft means a lot to me as a filmmaker, just to give people not only an exciting experience but a much more authentic and meaningful one.”

Monday, June 11, 2018

Sabo named new director of Winchester Regional Airport

Nicholas Sabo
     The Winchester Regional Airport Authority announced that Nicholas Sabo will be the new executive director of the airport and will begin working July 9th.
Sabo most recently served as the assistant manager of the Frederick Municipal Airport in Frederick, Md., and taught aviation curriculum at the Community College of Baltimore County as an adjunct faculty member.
     Sabo will replace the airport’s current executive director, Serena “Renny” Manuel who has worked at the airport in various roles for 32 years. She announced in January that she will retire this summer and her last day as executive director will be July 31st. She plans to spend time traveling with her husband during retirement.
     The Winchester Regional Airport is located at 491 Airport Road and is operated and maintained with a staff of five to include the airport director, operations supervisor, account clerk and two maintenance staff. The Authority also owns and operates Winchester Aviation, the fixed- base operator for the airport, which has six employees who provide services such as fueling and parking.
     As executive director, Sabo will have to ensure that the airport complies with federal and state regulations and orders. He will also work with local jurisdictions to continue the development of the airport to accommodate growth and future needs.
     Sabo holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Purdue University and a master of aeronautical science degree from Embry- Riddle Aeronautical University.
     After completing his undergraduate program, Sabo was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force as an airfield operations officer. During his military career, Sabo managed airfield operations at two stateside locations, completed two overseas deployments, and obtained a Control Tower Operator certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Sabo is a private pilot and is recognized as an Accredited Airport Executive by the American Association of Airport Executives. In his spare time he enjoys music, travel and spending time with his wife, Mary and son, Henry.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Aviation License Plates Fund Virginia Education Programs


The Virginia Department of Aviation is transferring more than $60,000 to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center to support aviation education in Virginia.

The funds (totaling $61,245 in 2017) were generated through the sale of the museum’s license plate, which features the iconic SR-71 Blackbird aircraft.  The license plate is one of the revenue-sharing partnerships of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.  For each $25 National Air and Space Museum license plate sold to Virginia motorists, $15 goes to support aviation education at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly.  The Department of Aviation has transferred to the museum $300,000 in license plate funding over the last five years.

“This is a terrific program,” said Mark Flynn, director of the Virginia Department of Aviation.  “Aviation enthusiasts across the Commonwealth get an eye-catching Virginia license plate featuring a sleek, black aircraft streaking across it, and their purchases are supporting the outstanding aviation education programs of the National Air and Space Museum.”

Aviation is a $23 billion economic engine that supports 146,660 jobs in Virginia.  And numerous studies predict that tens of thousands of well-paying jobs (including pilots, mechanics and avionics technicians) will go unfilled over the next two decades unless more young people are exposed to aviation through such educational programs.

The Udvar-Hazy Center will use the license plate funds to provide the popular Innovations in Flight Day (scheduled for June 16); camps for middle school students to participate in STEM-related activities that include robotics, rocketry and drones, and engagement programs – such as a wind turbine design challenge, Lego Robotics and Family Game Nights – that connect communities to aviation.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport Helps Out Two Other Virginia Airports

     Kudos to Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport (CHO) Executive Director Melinda Crawford and her team  for helping improve navigation at Hanover County Municipal Airport and Hampton Roads Executive Airport.  CHO is donating a Localizer (LOC) to Hanover County Municipal Airport and Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) and an equipment building to Hampton Roads Executive Airport.
     A Localizer is the lateral component of the instrument landing system (ILS) for the runway centerline when combined with the vertical glide slope.  Aircraft use DME to determine their distance from a land-based transponder by sending and receiving pulse pairs – two pulses of fixed duration and separation.  DME and LOC are typically paired to provide an accurate distance-to-touchdown function.  
     Vernon Carter, the Virginia Department of Aviation’s security and facilities manager, said, “Most likely associated with development issues surrounding Hanover County Municipal Airport, the localizer system failed the latest flight check inspection due to being out of tolerance.  The most viable solution to correcting the problem was to replace the existing eight-element LOC antenna system with a 14-element system.  An idle 14-element system was located at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport where airport management saw the need at Hanover County Municipal Airport and generously stepped up to help.  In addition, Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport is giving Hampton Roads Executive Airport the DME and equipment building to be used for the installation of an ILS there.  This is truly a great partnership.”
     While CHO donated the equipment, the Virginia Department of Aviation is providing the funding and expertise to dismantle the systems, move them from Charlottesville to Hanover County and to Hampton Roads, reassemble the systems and get them operational.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

New Tax Laws Will Impact General Aviation

The new federal tax law that took effect this month includes several provisions that impact the various segments of general aviation, from private owners with small airplanes to corporations with their own fleet of jets. Buyers of business aircraft now can immediately write off the entire cost of  their new or pre-owned aircraft. That’s good news for GA, says AOPA President Mark Baker. “We think the inclusion of immediate expensing for used as well as new investments will effectively spur economic growth and create good jobs, especially in aviation and the aircraft industry,” Baker said.
Overall tax cuts for businesses, not necessarily specific to aviation, already are driving growth in aviation, according to Ricky Sitomer, CEO of Star Jets International. “The private jet charter market is on fire right now,” Sitomer told Forbes. “The tax cuts that are fueling the market are fueling the private jet growth for Wall Street and Main Street alike.” The new tax bill also eliminates a long-standing rule that allowed deductions for certain entertainment expenses, if they were directly connected to the taxpayer’s business activities. NBAA says the change could affect many business-aircraft owners.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Virginia Department of Aviation gets new Director

Mark Flynn, a general aviation pilot and an attorney in private practice, has been named the new director of the Virginia Department of Aviation by Gov. Ralph Northam.  Flynn replaces Randy Burdette who served 13 years as the agency’s director.  Flynn was sworn in January 13th following the inauguration of Ralph Northam as Virginia’s 73rd governor.
Governor Northam said, “Mark is an accomplished local government attorney with extensive experience in aviation matters and is a licensed single-engine aircraft pilot with instrument, commercial and instructor ratings.”

Mark Flynn said, “I’m excited to be serving as the new director of the Virginia Department of Aviation and look forward to building on the many successes the agency had under Randy Burdette.  There are a number of challenges and opportunities facing aviation in Virginia, and I am honored to be Governor Northam’s choice to lead this progressive and forward-thinking agency.”
Flynn served 18 years as general counsel and chief lobbyist with the Virginia Municipal League, where he guided local governments on effectively serving the public.  He has also served as county attorney in Tazewell County and as city attorney for Winchester, Va.  More recently he provided local government legal services through his law firm, Woodley & Flynn, and lobbied for local governments through Advantus Strategies.  Flynn is the past president of the Virginia Local Government Attorney’s Association and the 2013 recipient of that organization’s Edward Finnegan Award for Distinguished Service.  He earned his bachelor’s degree at Virginia Tech and his juris doctorate from Washington & Lee University Law School.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Director of Flight Operations Receives Water Salute

   The Director of Flight Operations and Safety, Steve Harris, will retire in February after five years with the Department.
   The Director of Maintenance, Jeff Taylor, coordinated an honorary water salute for Steve's last flight with DOAV. As you can see in the photo, two fire trucks make an arch of water as the airplane passes through. The staff gathered outside despite the cold weather to congratulate Steve.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Virginia is one of the two test sites for the Aurora Orion UAS

The U.S. Air Force has awarded a new $48 million contract to Aurora Flight Sciences for the continued development of the Orion Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). The new contract funds the development of a certified version of Orion that will be suitable for deployment anywhere in the world. The work will be performed in Columbus, Mississippi, and Manassas, Virginia.

Orion is a twin-engine high performance UAS that can stay in the air over 100 hours at a time with payloads in excess of 1,000 pounds. Development of the Orion started in 2006 and its first flight was in August 2013.

In December 2014, the Orion established the current UAS world endurance record with an 80-hour, 2-minute and 52-second flight. A single Orion UAS can perform two days of persistent surveillance when operating from bases over 3,000 miles away from the target of interest.

Boeing acquired the Aurora in October 2017, giving the company the much needed financial and sales leverage.