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December 29, 2003

AK TFR: Another TFR For Valdez

'Til Further Notice' NOTAM: 3/2230 Issued: 12/29/2003 17:09 Effective: Immediately - Until Further Notice State: AK Facility: ZAN - ANCHORAGE (ARTCC),AK. Type: SECURITY Description: VALDEZ, ALASKA.

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Saudis Deny Dive-Bomb Story

Saudi Arabia's official news agency Monday denied remarks from a British member of Parliament, who said Sunday that Saudi intelligence agents had foiled a plot involving general aviation aircraft. Patrick Mercer (right), the opposition spokesman for British Homeland Security, told the Sunday Globe and Mail that Saudi authorities had arrested several terror suspects -- among them, two men who were planning to use general aviation aircraft packed with explosives to dive-bomb a British Airways 777 at King Khalid Airport in Riyadh. “My understanding is that they were found on the flight line and that the plan was to fly them into a passenger jet, either about to land or take off,” said Mercer, quoted in the Mail.

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Glider/Piper Cub MidAir Kills 4

A tragic midair collision near the highly respected Turf Soaring School, of Peoria AZ (West of Phoenix) has killed all four persons aboard the aircraft involved -- a Piper Cub and a 1983 Schleicher AS K21. Both aircraft are two seaters and were fully occupied. While the FAA and NTSB have yet to complete an investigation, published reports suggest that the AS K21 was engaged in an aerobatic maneuver (reported as a loop) when it collided with the J-3 over Pleasant Valley Airport. The aircraft impacted just North of the runway and all four were reported lost at impact.

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British Marshals Take To The Skies

After six Air France flights between Paris and Los Angeles were grounded by terror threats last week, Britain's Home Office has decided to go ahead with deployment of armed sky marshals on domestic and foreign flights "where and when we believed it necessary." A joint statement issued by Home Secretary David Blunkett and Transport Secretary Alistair Darling hastened to add that it's still safe for the public to fly. It called the increased security precautions in the US in recent days meant the UK should propose a "proportionate and appropriate level of response."

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Suicide Dive On Saudi Jetliner Narrowly Averted

Two Islamic terrorists had already packed their GA aircraft with explosives and were intent on diving them into a British Airways 777 before they were nabbed by authorities in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. That word comes from a senior member of Britain's parliament, who says he'll provide more details after the legislative assembly reconvenes from Christmas break. Patrick Mercer, a Tory spokesman for British Homeland Security, says 380 people were on board the BA flight from Riyadh. He says the terrorists intended to crash their small planes into the jetliner as it taxied for takeoff. Mercer quoted "unimpeachable" Saudi sources in telling the story.

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Australians Okay Sky Marshals

Six armed sky marshals will soon be deployed on Qantas flights between Sydney and Singapore, according to the Australian government. The deal was reached Christmas day after lengthy talks between the governments of Australia and Singapore and executives from the airline. A similar deal involving Qantas flights to the US is also in the works, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. But money is said to be a problem.

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American Airlines Flight Evacuated

An American Airlines flight from Chicago to Indianapolis was evacuated just after landing Friday, when a flight attendant reported a suspicious package on board the MD-80. Flight 1103 landed safely at Indianapolis International Airport, arriving at 1:35 pm CST. All 62 passengers and crew slid down the emergency egress chutes to safety. They were rounded up and bused to the international terminal, where they were questioned.

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Death Toll Reaches 113 In Benin Crash

Lebanese divers have reportedly found the last of the wreckage from the Christmas day crash of a Boeing 727 just off the coast of Benin. In the meantime, Benin's foreign minister said the death toll from the watery crash rose to 113. Of the 151 passengers and 10 crew members on board, 26 are still unaccounted for. More than a dozen Bangladeshi peace keepers from nearby Sierra Leone were among the dead.

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Details On Las Vegas Fatal Accident

The six people killed when a Beechcraft B-36 crashed near the runway at North Las Vegas Airport (NV) Christmas day were all members of the same family. A relative Saturday said Henry and Vivienne Waldman, their daughter and son-in-law Susan and Steven Maini, and two grandchildren -- 12-year-old Jack and 6-year-old Michele Maini -- all died when the Bonanza crashed shortly after takeoff.

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NTSB Preliminary Report On Fatal Tennessee Crash

The NTSB has released its initial report on the crash of a Cessna 414 in Tennessee that left four people dead and one seriously injured. It happened December 11th near the Greenville-Greene County Municipal Airport in VFR conditions, according to the bureau.

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US Attorney: Son, You In A Heap O' Trouble

This is NOT the way to win friends and influence people. Not these days. A 35-year old Dallas man is in some serious trouble after he was arrested last week on a flight from Dallas to New Orleans. Larry Thirstrup is charged with verbally abusing a flight attendant on board the Southwest Airlines flight. Even worse, he's charged with assaulting her by grabbing her shoulders. For that, Thirstrup faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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ESA Reaches Out For Help In Contacting Beagle 2

European scientists refuse to give up on Beagle 2. But they admit, there's not a lot they can do to spur it into speaking to them until its mothership, Mars Express, enters a low polar orbit January 4th. "That is the communication line that has been tried and tested," said Gill Ormrod, spokeswoman for the British government's physics and astronomy research agency. "Until they have tried that several times, they will not give up."

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Japan Gets Bulk Of 7E7 Wing Work

It's a big step for Boeing -- farming out the bulk of wing construction on its 7E7 Dreamliner to a firm in Japan. But then, the aircraft itself is seen by the company as a truly international effort. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports Boeing has never allowed a contractor to take the lead in building wings for its commercial aircraft. But it could be a big marketing ploy in a world where America isn't viewed with the same benevolence that it was in decades past.

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Two Escape Serious Injury In Montana Accident

Two men escaped with relatively minor injuries when their Beech Baron 58 went down in a field near Missoula (MT). The airport was closed briefly as rescue crews responded to the accident. It happened Monday night in dense fog, according to local authorities. The aircraft was leased by the National Forest Service from RidgeAir, Inc., a Jacksonville (TX) company. Officials said the Baron had just dropped off two pilots at the Missoula airport. Both of those remaining on board were employed by the Forest Service. The aircraft had departed Redmond (OR) and, after its stop in Missoula, was returning there, according to a spokeswoman for the Forest Service. "What I can tell you is that both people aboard were Forest Service employees and they work out of Redmond fire center," Paula Nels

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Restoring A Bridge To The Moon

It was the first American spacecraft ever to dock with another. Twenty-eight years later, Gemini 6 is back in the shop at a Kansas museum, on its way to its final repository in Oklahoma. The capsule looks tiny when compared to the Apollo relics of the 1960s and 1970s, or the space shuttles in the current NASA fleet. But getting it ready for permanent display has been a grueling, painstaking task for Jim Remar at the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson (KS). Remar and two other restorers have spent about 200 hours over the past few months, carefully cleaning the spacecraft's exterior.

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Plane Down: Victorville (CA)

The NTSB is investigating last week's crash of a Lear 24-B in the California desert near Chino, but there's little to go on. The high-speed impact claimed the lives of both crew members on board, dug a deep crater in a San Bernardino County ridge and spread debris for a quarter-mile. The aircraft had been on a flight from Chino to Idaho, according to the FAA. "The captain said he needed to return to Chino," Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Donn Walker said. "The pilot then declared an emergency. He was at 24,000 feet when we lost radar and radio contact with him at ... 9:11 am."

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Americares Responds To Deadly Earthquake In Iran

AmeriCares, one of the nation's largest international humanitarian relief organizations, is dispatching an emergency response team to southeastern Iran, where a quake measuring at least 6.3 on the Richter scale has killed an estimated 20,000 and injured 50,000. The quake struck near the ancient fort city of Bam on Friday at approximately 5:30 am local time. Bam is located roughly 600 miles southeast of Tehran. More than 90 percent of the Old City of Bam (dating back 2,000 years) was destroyed. Officials estimate 70 percent of the homes in the surrounding region have been flattened along with local hospitals.

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Iranian Helicopter Down During Quake Relief Ops

An Iranian Navy helicopter went down near the city of Bam, just after delivering much-needed relief supplies to the victims of a massive earthquake there. "An Iranian helicopter, which belonged to the Iranian navy, crashed on its way to Bandar Abbas, once it delivered its relief items to Bam," the Iranian news agency ISNA quoted local official Asadollah Iranmansh as saying.

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Israeli Flight Cadets Graduate At Historic Military Museum

Three Israeli Air Force cadets -- all women -- will earn their wings at the winter pilots' graduation ceremony Thursday. One is set to become a combat jet weapons systems engineer (navigator) and two are headed for helicopter squadrons. In the 149th graduating pilots' course, 56 percent are from cities, 19% from communal villages, 15% from moshavim, and 10% from kibbutzim. Six percent are religiously observant. Some 58% are from the center of the country, 34% are from the North, and 8% are from the south. A majority (58%) belonged to youth movements, and 27% of those belonged to the Scouts.

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Aero-News Quote Of The Day (12.29.03)

"A hijacked plane into the Vatican. An attack from the sky, is that clear? The threat of terrorism is very high in this instant. I passed Christmas Eve in Rome to deal with the situation. Now I feel calm." Source: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, describing what he says was a terrorist plot to crash a hijacked airliner into the Vatican. Berlusconi says, working with the United States, Italy averted the plot.

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