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  • Sunday, April 30, 2023 1:52 PM | Jennifer Kempsey (Administrator)

    Edward Jimenez

    Professional Pilot Career - 2022 Scholarship Winner

    In anticipation of this year's Safety Day, WAA Scholarship Chair, Luke Egan, followed up with past scholarship winner, Edward Jimenez, to see what he has been up to since winning The WAA Professional Pilot Career Scholarship.

    Below, Ed shares in his own words, his experiences and gratitude.

    Flight training can be very challenging and very demanding but it can be very gratifying. In my lifetime, I can honestly say It was one of the most difficult endeavors I had to face. I had to work very hard and make a lot of sacrifices along the way. Looking back at the journey however I can appreciate all those adversities that have made me the person that I am today.

    Throughput this process, I had to work three jobs that included working as a Flight Instructor, gig working as an Uber Driver, and grinding as a Line Service Technician for a Private Charter Company where my duties included washing, cleaning and handling their jets. 

    It was working for this company that they saw the hard work was I was putting in and the simultaneous time building I was completing as as a commercial pilot.  In demonstrating in every action, I made it very clear that this is all ever wanted to do ever since I was a seven year old boy. 

    I was very fortunate and blessed that they saw the potential in me and offered me the opportunity.  They invested in the training and got me type rated and today I am a First Officer in the Embraer 135 Legacy Super Mid-sized Corporate Jet.

    I want to take this opportunity to extend my appreciation to thank you and everyone involved at the Westchester Aviation Association once again for your scholarship selection and believing in me. This milestone would not be possible without your recognition. 

    Thank you, thank you so very much! 

    Thank you Ed for your response. We are grateful to have made such an impact in your life, and look forward to following up again in years to come.

  • Sunday, April 23, 2023 11:12 AM | Jennifer Kempsey (Administrator)

    In anticipation of this year's Safety Day, WAA Scholarship Chair, Luke Egan, followed up with past scholarship winner, Philip Martin, to see what he has been up to since winning The WAA Professional Pilot Career Scholarship sponsored by Performance Flight.

    Below, Philip shares in his own words, his experiences and aspirations since winning.

    As a pilot, you'll experience a unique perspective on the world - one that combines the thrill of flight with the awe-inspiring beauty of the planet from above. You'll be able to explore new horizons, conquer challenges, and connect with people from all over the world, all while soaring through the skies.

    Since I was granted the scholarship I took on a greater appreciation for aviation, flying an aircraft that I once believed wouldn’t be possible until I was well into my career was made possible by WAA. This expanded my horizon on the possibilities that the future can behold.

    Aviation was determined to be a path worth pursuing after my first time flying a simulator shortly after my dad sparked the interest. From there I knew that I wanted to make the skies interconnect with my life. The first time I stepped into the cockpit confirmed this dream and made it a reality.

    Flight training helped me understand that your best outcome will always be from peace and self awareness. As I flew more and more, my confidence levels grew, which allowed me to perform my best each time I fly. This is a valuable lesson I apply to every other sector of my life.

    My future aviation aspirations are to in fact complete my Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering, and fulfill my childhood goal of becoming type rated in an Airbus a321. Just three years ago when I started my course study at Penn State University, the best thing that I believed that I can do is study the field of aviation. Once the opportunity came to actually get my license and further my skills, I learned that I am not just limited to what I believed that I had to settle for.

    Thank you again, Philip, for your time To learn more about our scholarships visit: WestchesterAviation.org/2023Scholarships/

    Photos courtesy of Philip Martin - Professional Pilot Career Award

    Posted on behalf of Luke Egan, WAA Scholarship Chair

  • Sunday, March 05, 2023 11:03 AM | Jennifer Kempsey (Administrator)

    Interview By Luke Egan - February 2023 Runway Report

    Alec Babkine-Osterrath Winner of Safety Day '22 Introductory Pilot Award

    In anticipation of this year's Safety Day, Luke followed up with our past scholarship winner, Alec,(Alexandre Babkine-Osterrath), to see what he has been up to since winning The WAA Safety Day 2022 Introductory Pilot Award sponsored by Academy of Aviation.

    Below are Luke's (L) questions with answers provided by Alec (A).

    L: What have you been up to since you won? 

    A: Since I won the award, I have earned many achievements related to aviation along with beginning flight training of course. In my Civil Air Patrol Squadron, I have been assigned the first sergeant position and won an award for being the cadet NCO of the year for the Westchester-Putnam area. I have been progressing rapidly in terms of flying, completing 1 out of the 4 stages of my flight training. 

    L: What made you think it was possible? Was there a particular person who encouraged or mentored you? 

    A: When I applied for the scholarship I didn’t think I was going to get anything. I thought that surely someone more qualified and experienced than me is also applying for this same thing. What pushed me to apply was the hope that I’d get it and the dream of being able to fly. I credit the senior member of my squadron who suggested that I apply for this scholarship with me getting it. Because if I didn’t know about it there was no way I could’ve won it.  

    L: What are your future aviation aspirations, and, in your opinion, what is the greatest barrier to overcome?  

    A: My short-term aspiration is to finish my private pilot’s license and to start working on other ratings, such as seaplane, IFR, and a tail dragger. My long-term goal is to become a pilot in the air force or to become a mechanical / aerospace engineer after college. 

    L: If you could share one bit of information with someone who is thinking about flying what would you tell them? 

    A: If I could share a piece of information with anyone looking to start flying it would be, just do it. Go book an introductory lesson or a flight and go fly. Immediately you’ll be able to tell whether you want to fly or not. And if you want to continue, use any opportunity you can to fly. There are so many things out there that will aid you in your journey to the sky and don’t back away from one just because you don’t think you would have a chance. You never know!
    Thank you again, Alec, for your time. We can't wait to follow up with you again in years to come. We would also like to thank the Academy of Aviation for their continued support in our scholarship program. To learn more about the Academy of Aviation visit their website www.academyofaviation.com/

    About The Author:

    Luke Egan is a Westchester Aviation Association Board member, Senior Captain for Solairus Aviation, and our Scholarship Chair. For more information on Luke, check out his bio and meet the rest of the WAA Board here.

  • Thursday, February 09, 2023 11:42 AM | Jennifer Kempsey (Administrator)

    By Scott Dyer

    You’ve seen the videos and pictures of tourists hanging onto the fence at the St. Maarten airport as transport jets depart just a few feet away, and that wonderful practice (NOT!) has resulted in deaths and serious injuries.  Jet blast is awesome power. 

    The NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) files are replete with reports of light aircraft being caught in the jet blast of taxiing or departing turbine aircraft and it’s been this way for years.

    A recent report had a homebuilt aircraft taxi behind a Challenger, which was waiting to cross a runway, with ATC then authorizing the Challenger to cross that runway:

    I was cleared to taxi from via Taxiway A to Runway XXR in my [Homebuilt Experimental] tailwheel aircraft. A Challenger 300 had been cleared from the West Ramp to hold at Taxiway A1, while waiting to cross XXR to get to XXL for departure. Just as I was taxiing directly behind [the Challenger 300], Ground cleared him to cross XXR. [The Challenger 300] applied immediate power to taxi. I was directly behind him; I tried to accelerate but was unable to get past his jet blast before we were blown in a violent 330 - 360 degree right ground loop. My aircraft suffered damage to the left wing tip, both wheel fairings, and the left gear fairing. There was no prop strike and no contact with any flight controls. Neither I nor my passenger was injured.

    The cause of the problem was the Ground Controller not noting my position directly behind [the Challenger 300] when he cleared him to cross; I also believe [the Challenger 300] used excess power to begin his taxi roll.  NASA ASRS ACN: 1100774

    There are situations of light aircraft taxiing behind a jet doing a maintenance runup, being cleared either onto or across a runway, or being cleared for takeoff with the jet blast pushing landing traffic on another runway well off the runway heading while in a flare.  We’ve seen some jet blast incidents over the years at HPN, and a memorable one in recent years occurred at Boston Logan as a C172 was flipped on its back while in line for takeoff behind an air carrier jet.

    Anticipation of these incidents by the light aircraft PIC, the turbine crew and ATC, can help avoid them almost entirely.  Good airmanship requires situational awareness in all phases of flight, including taxiing before departure or after landing.  There is very little FAA flight training guidance on jet blast avoidance while taxiing, a situation that needs to be remedied.  How we can anticipate these situations is the purpose of this short article.


    We’ll start by defining some terms and the extent of the problem.

    Turbine powered aircraft use a range of power, from idle thrust while stationary or in a rolling taxi, to what’s called “breakaway thrust” to start moving, to takeoff power when starting the takeoff roll. 

    Idle thrust is the lowest setting as you would expect it to be, with the engines still generating thrust (and wind!) behind the aircraft.  Behind corporate jet aircraft at idle, you can easily experience 30kt or higher exhaust winds even 100 feet behind the aircraft.  That number can grow to 200 feet behind or more idling large and widebody transports (e.g., 757, 767, 777, A330, etc.).

    Breakaway thrust is what crews use to start an aircraft moving.  How much is enough thrust to start moving depends on the weight of the aircraft, the slope and/or contamination with snow or ice of the taxi surface, and temperature of the surface (think sticky asphalt), among other things.  The amount of thrust can and does vary, but the important thing to remember is that it is much HIGHER than idle thrust.  That means, the danger area behind an aircraft using breakaway thrust is much LARGER than one stationary at idle. 

    Here’s a Boeing chart (annotated by the Australian Transportation Safety Board) for a 737 variant that makes the point:

    You see from the chart that 75 mph winds extend back at least 100 feet from the tail, and 35 mph winds extend more than 200 feet back.  This is with minimal breakaway thrust, not a higher value that may be operationally necessary or used by crews who want to hurry onto the runway to save some time. Note to jet crews:  use the lowest amount of thrust to start motion that you can, as you won’t know what is behind you (and how close it is) on the ramp or taxiway.

    Higher thrust levels are used for takeoff, but also for maintenance runs or burning off a few hundred pounds of excess fuel on hot/high/heavy departures.  A Boeing chart for takeoff thrust shows just how large the jet blast danger zone can be for a large transport jet:

    Avoidance Techniques

    Avoidance means knowing what’s going on all around your aircraft, and what can be expected.

    Keep a good distance, perhaps several hundred feet, as you taxi behind a turbojet to the runway.  Don’t get closer than that when the aircraft ahead stops: the jet will need (at least) breakaway thrust to get rolling again, oftentimes more with the uphill slant of HPN Taxiway L heading to Runway 16, but even a level breakaway causes significantly greater jet blast than mere idle thrust. As a distance guide, the taxiway lights on straight sections of Taxiway L at HPN are spaced roughly 190’ apart.  The lights are spaced closer in turning sections.

    Switch to the tower frequency as you get closer to the runway, even before you enter the runup area.  Listen carefully, and get a picture in your mind on whether and when the aircraft ahead may start moving as you wind your way to the runup area.  You can hear if a jet is cleared onto the runway, which will cause jets behind it to move up in sequence with (at least) breakaway thrust.  You’ll want to know that before you taxi perpendicular to a stopped jet as you head from Taxiway L into the runup area for either Runway 16 or 34:  you do not want to be passing behind a jet that is powering up for further taxi, or to enter the runway, without at least several hundred feet between you and the tail of that aircraft.

    There may be some advantage to being aligned with the jet blast if you are being caught in it while taxiing rather than being cocked at an angle to the wind.  But, remember that even aligned aircraft can be flipped on their back by jet blast.  Use proper aileron/elevator position if you feel the jet blast wind just as you would for crosswind taxi, it may be all you can do at that point. The better technique is to leave enough room behind, and stay off-axis a preceding jet (and therefore out of the jet blast), rather than hoping for the best.

    We’ll treat the ends of each of our HPN major runways separately, as they are a bit different in the terms of jet blast avoidance. 

    Here’s a sample HPN taxi diagram to help orient you to the airport:


    HPN taxi diagram 

    Runway 34

    As you can see in the diagram above, as you  taxi down L to Runway 34, immediately past the ILS Hold Short Line, the taxiway turns left by 90 degrees.  If there is a jet in line holding short of Runway 34 with its tail around the corner, you are at risk of a jet blast upset as you taxi into the runup area. 

    Listen to Tower as you proceed down L to hear if the line of traffic holding sort of 34 is going to be moving up, in which case something more than idle jet blast from the jet around the corner is likely.  You don’t want to be perpendicular to the jet blast as that aircraft applies power, better wait to enter the runup area until you know the aircraft is stopped or there is sufficient distance.

    Runway 34 runup area, be careful of potential jet blast as you taxi behind. 

    While using the runup area is always a good option, you may be in a line of 5 or more aircraft on a summer Friday afternoon heading down L.  There is no rule against doing your runup while in line, with good practice being to cock the aircraft 30 degrees or so to not subject an aircraft following you to your prop blast This way you don’t need to enter or exit the runup area at busy times with lots of taxiway traffic.  Only do this if you are comfortable, because you can enter the runup area to take more time with preparations for takeoff with the jet blast avoidance technique above, and the strategy another paragraph below.

    Assume you don’t need to enter the runup area.  If you can turn the corner toward 34 just past the ILS hold short lines, be wary of jet aircraft in line holding short of the runway, there can be several jets lined up.  If you are on the centerline of the taxiway as you make that turn, you are likely in a prime jet blast location as you will be lined up squarely behind the jet with little distance from it.  

    If your aircraft is small enough (as is the case with most piston singles and many twins) consider staying to the left side of Taxiway L, well off the centerline, with the left main gear remaining well on the pavement. The benefit of this strategy is that it will keep your aircraft on the inside of the jet blast radius described by the turning (or stationary) jet.  We have the luxury of broad taxiways at HPN, and ½ of Taxiway L is plenty enough for most light piston aircraft…so use it!

    Staying on the left side of Taxiway L as it turns the corner to Runway 34 will usually keep light aircraft out of the jet blast danger zone for jets holding short of the runway.  Stay off-axis from the engines.  

    Now let’s assume that you use the runup area and are ready for departure.  There’s a jet or two holding short of 34 with a string of arrivals to that runway, and aircraft taxiing down Taxiway L to get in line.  If you can maneuver at least several hundred feet behind the last stopped jet on L, and you are CERTAIN that it will not be applying any power while you get in position, you may be able to line up behind that jet while still leaving 200 feet or more between you.  More likely, that isn’t going to be possible.  Rather than moving into a potential jet blast situation, call Tower on the radio to advise that you are ready for departure but in the runup area.  Tower will get you going with minimum jet blast risk in an appropriate sequence.  You’ve avoided a potentially hazardous situation.

    One last thought before we leave the Runway 34 scenario, if you pull up in the runup area at the far eastern end (i.e., closest to the runway), you may have minimal distance between you and a departing jet that is cleared onto the runway for departure.  The jet in front of you may, as it comes around to the runway heading, apply far more than breakaway thrust to get moving quickly.  That jet blast can sweep across the end of the runup area nearest the runway. It is advised to use the other end of the runup area.

    Runway 16

    We’re on Taxiway L again, but this time heading northwest to Runway 16.  Many of the same considerations for Runway 34 departures apply here, too, but there’s a lmore for light GA to worry about.

    First, L leads uphill to Runway 16, so higher jet thrust will be needed to start (and keep) rolling than on a flat taxiway. If you are in the Runway 16 line, be aware of that.

    Second, there is less room on the stub end of Taxiway L where it intersects Runway 16, than at the other end of the airport.  There is room for one jet with little distance for another aircraft behind it.  Use the right hand half of the taxiway, well off the centerline, as you come up around the corner of that perpendicular turn to stay clear of the blast coming from the jet holding short of 16.  That way you can stay further away from the jet blast danger zone.

    Just as with Runway 34, staying on the inside radius of the turning taxiway will usually keep light aircraft safer than staying on the taxiway centerline.  This is a picture of the turn just before Runway 16, and light aircraft can stay on the right side of the centerline.

    Third, the runup area for Runway 16 on the Taxiway L side is small.  Once again, you don’t want to be in the jet blast area on the far eastern side of the runup area (closest to the runway). If you are going into the runup area, use the same strategies we covered earlier when talking about Runway 34 to (a) cross into the runup area behind a waiting jet, and (b) exit the runup area for departure.


    We’ve covered main jet blast concerns when taxiing to Runways 16 and 34 at HPN.  These concerns will sensitize you to similar threats at other airports you frequent.  Be aware that maintenance/runup pads can also contain aircraft doing near- or full-power runups, and even aircraft parked on an FBO ramp can, with breakaway thrust, be felt by nearby taxiing light aircraft on established taxiways.  Those same jets doing high-powered maintenance runups can be dangerous for aircraft taxiing behind, with an area of concern on Taxiway K as it passes by Signature West with large aircraft sometimes parked undergoing maintenance with the tails toward Taxiway K.

    While this article’s focus has been on operators of light aircraft, the message to jet crews is to use the minimum thrust necessary to start taxiing, and not use more than taxi power in motion until aligned on runway heading.  Air traffic control plays a role here, too, with appropriate jet blast warnings and being a good resource for light GA pilots in getting into/out of the runup areas.

    Thank you to  Francisco Tejada and Andrew Bowser of HPN Operations for their help with photos from HPN to illustrate this article. 

    About The Author:

    Scott Dyer is a Westchester Aviation Association Board member, coordinator of our quarterly ATC Seminars and an active CFI/II at the airport. For more info on Scott check out his bio and meet the rest of the WAA Board at  - https://www.westchesteraviation.org/page-18130

  • Sunday, August 28, 2022 1:55 PM | Michelle Judice (Administrator)

    by Michelle Judice

    View Slide Show

    Sarah Bailey, a 2021 WAA Bill Weaver Aviation Scholarship recipient, received the Introductory to Flight Award and she has capitalized on this opportunity. As a part of her flight training, she’s accumulated 10 hours and has enjoyed every second. “The funniest thing I’ve experienced at the Academy of Aviation was listening to the ground and tower banter between pilots and learning how to incorporate myself into the rhythm of daily traffic. It takes a keen ear to finally understand the coms but being introduced to it was definitely a fun learning experience,” she recounted. 

    While many of us can relate to this, what sets her apart is that she clinched two valuable internships as a high school senior, the first at Avports where she shadowed Operations and Airport Managers and earned hands-on experience on the airfield and the Operations Bridge. She also collected statistics which quantified the economic impact ofthe airport on Westchester County. 

    Sarah's second internship at Million Air White Plains enabled her to shadow Customer Service Representatives, Line Service and Valet where she greeted and assisted customers and built experience in FBO operations from the bottom up. Million Air was impressed with her work ethic and hired her as a ramp agent where she greeted incoming incoming aircraft and prepared departing aircraft, assisted in aircraft movement, placement and storage as a wing walker, fulfilled pilots' service requests and helped wherever needed to support line service. Lauren Rones-Payne, General Manager at Million Air says, "This was the summer unlike no other for us at Million Air HPN! We honestly could not have managed without our amazing ramp agents which included Sarah Bailey. Her energy, positive attitude and can do spirit helped to carry Team HPN through. Sarah will be missed and will always be a part of our Million Air family. We wish her continued success and hope she returns during her holiday break!"

    There was still room in Sarah's schedule to fly in various aircraft including a T-1 Jayhawk, Cessna 172, C-17 and Aero L-39 and taxi a Cirrus Vision Jet. She was all smiles even as G Forces were at an all time high during barrel rolls (see video below), Cuban 8s and loops in an Aero L-39. “Each aircraft offers a unique learning experience and environment which I’m grateful to have been a part of. From everyone who has helped me on my journey to having my first real job the aviation industry will forever hold a special place in my heart.” she says. 

    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at Daytona Beach is her next stop where she'll study Aeronautical Engineering as a freshman this fall. Good luck Sarah! 

  • Wednesday, February 23, 2022 9:07 AM | Michelle Judice (Administrator)

    by Scott Dyer

    Have you thought about flying south to watch a NASA launch with your airplane?  Taking the Cirrus, Bonanza or Cessna down the coast to see the launch from the air?  I have, and I've been daunted by the day long trip each way to the Cape Canaveral area, perhaps joined with a delay of a day, or two, or three, or more, as the launch is on hold for weather or mechanical reasons. It just seemed too complicated unless I was otherwise going to be in Florida and could do a one day roundtrip within the state.

    COVID adds another wrinkle, with the NASA passes for launch viewing being suspended indefinitely.

    But...we found another solution!  Wallops Island, Virgina on the Eastern Shore is home to NASA's Wallops Flight Facility where sounding rockets and International Space Station (ISS) resupply missions among other things are launched.  It's a relatively short flight from HPN, maybe 90 minutes to 2 1/2 hours depending on winds and your aircraft, with good refueling at Salisbury Regional Airport (SBY) in Salisbury, Maryland or Accomack County Airport (MFV) in Melfa, Virginia.  Some launches are during the daytime, others are in the evening or at night, so you'll have to take your pick and make your plans.

    If it wasn't already obvious, I'll reveal now that we took this very trip in February 2022 for the Cygnus NG-17 ISS Resupply Mission Launch.  Oh, and did I forget to mention this viewing was inflight?  

    The launch was scheduled shortly after noon with only a 5 minute window for launching...we'd know pretty quickly if the launch wouldn't happen that day.  Yes, there are TFRs, and you have to watch the Restricted Areas over Chesapeake Bay, but there is plenty of room around V1 near Wallops (WAL) to loiter and wait for the launch - when we were there no other airplane was in sight at our 4,500' altitude. We were about 8 miles away under clear blue skies when the rocket ignited and lifted off.

    You can pick your future launch by looking at the NASA Wallops Launch ScheduleThis link also shows the best locations to watch from the ground, if you want to land and rent a car for viewing at Salisbury.  

    Watch the video of our February launch excursion from HPN.

    Have a great trip!

  • Monday, January 17, 2022 7:38 PM | Michelle Judice (Administrator)

    by Scott Dyer

    Photos courtesy of Scott Dyer and David Montiverdi

    The snow started falling at Westchester County Airport a little after midnight, light at first but then picking up in intensity around 2 AM to a solid “moderate” with steady accumulations.  As of about 12 hours earlier, the NWS forecasters hit it right on the head for time of onset and intensity increases. So far, so good. 

    With the snow starting to accumulate, the HPN snow removal operation swung into the high-energy dance of clearing our taxiways and runways for the start of morning flight operations, a dance that had been planned months in advance and fine-tuned the previous afternoon for the oncoming storm.  

    We rode along with the HPN Ops snow team one January night to see how they get the airport surfaces clean for our use during and after a storm.  It's a year-long operation to get ready for snow and ice events, with planning and equipment acquisition in the warmer months through the summer.  

    Equipment to Move Snow

    The airport has been active in securing all the winter equipment that can be funded by the FAA, and then some more with other funds so that the job gets done properly.  Westchester has at its disposal 5 Sweepsters, each a 15 foot wide behemoth of rotating brush powered by a 485 horsepower diesel engine.  They can individually push 7,500 tons of snow per hour, aided by a compressor that blasts air at 300 miles per hour to get the snow away from the surface being cleaned. Those brushes wear out, as the bristles degrade from snow and surface contact after 80 to at most 100 hours of use.  It’s a four hour job for 2 mechanics to change the bristled part so this is best done before a major snow event if the bristles are getting to be marginal.

    These Sweepsters suffice for up to about 6-8” of accumulated snow on the runway. For more than that, the County has in its stable 4 Oshkosh heavy plows of various plow sizes  between 14 and 22 feet, plus 4 Snow Blasters that make a home Toro snowblower look laughable.  The blowers are critical in moving piles of snow well away from the shoulders of runways and taxiways, and away from areas that could affect ILS integrity.  There is a whole squad of low-tech orange markers in the ground in front of the glidseslope antennas to help technicians to determine if enough snow is on the ground to deleteriously affect the glideslope signal (not usually a problem, most winters, at HPN).

    There’s also a tanker of 3,000 gallons capacity for Potassium Acetate runway deicer (CH3COOK, a potassium salt of commonplace acetic acid) that can deal with freezing rain conditions sometimes as an anti-icer before the rain starts, and more normally as a deicer for freezing rain and some compacted snow.  The Potassium Acetate has a freezing point of roughly -50°C to power through anything that’s frozen in a zone of 90 feet either side of the centerline.  

    There are also spreaders on the plow trucks that can lay down sand 60 feet either side of the centerline when slippery conditions prevail. It is not just any sand, but (don’t laugh) special FAA approved airfield sand, material that is free of any corrosive substances and debris, specially sieved and sourced from a mine in Delaware that produces this good stuff.  Rounding out the equipment are a Loader/blower for ramp work, and the command Chevrolet truck that includes a small plow for touchups, that finish out the list.

    Seasonal Planning and User Involvement/Communication

    With the equipment in hand, there is the planning. It’s a crew of about 30 that makes the snow removal happen, sometimes with people brought in for placement overnight before the snow starts falling.  That crew complement, which changes some each year, needs to be assembled and trained in all aspects of winter snow and ice removal.

    Airport Operations runs an all-user snow planning meeting in the Fall, a meeting that comprehensively runs through the plan of attack and what users can expect.  Among other things, that meeting highlights the priority areas for snow clearing, including Runway 16/34 and the major taxiways of A, C, part of G, K and L. This priority ensures that runway access is available for all aircraft, the runway exits at either end are available, and the perimeter road and the emergency access adjacent to Taxiway C are among the first cleared of snow and ice. 

    This doesn’t mean that Runway 11/29 and other taxiways are left in the deep freeze; but it does provide a focus to the snow ops forces about what to do first.  Often, the crosswind runway is brushed, plowed and snowblown for opening the same day as an overnight snow event, even if it is not the first priority.  For major events, it may reopen the following day.

    Hours Leading Up To The Snow/Ice Event

    In the 12-18 hour period before a snow or ice event, another meeting is held for all interested parties to go over when and what will be happening, to respond to user (GA and airline) needs and to answer any questions. Special operations needs can be identified and taken into account at this meeting, and it is here that the latest information about suspension of airline operations, overnighting of aircraft and the expected schedule of snow/ice clearing can be exchanged. Interested parties can be put on the list for email distribution for Veoci airfield alerts through Airport Operations that include notifications of snow alerts, when this pre-event meeting will be taking place, runway condition reports, and the like.  

    Another great source of much of this information, with Notams, runway closures, public advisories of meetings, and the like is the Airfield Status page that can be found at https://veoci.com/v/p/dashboard/wxs3wx.

    It's Action Time

    With the snow starting to fall, the plans coalesce into action.  That’s what we wanted to see when observing snow clearing operations in the wee hours one January morning.  

    The on-field operations are run by the Airfield Supervisor driving the “Ops 39” command vehicle.  This job was being done by Dave Montiverdi, a veteran of several years in the role.  He’s a busy person, monitoring a number of different radios and frequencies, cell phone communications and occasional glances at a smartphone app showing weather radar.  Ops 39 runs the snow removal team, determines what tactics to use, measures runway surface friction for the ever-desired reports to pilots (more on that to come), coordinating runway closures and openings and contributing to Notams on runway condition.  

    The goal is a black pavement, albeit it may be wet, something that is challenging to accomplish when a gusty wind is blowing dry snow over the runway surface.  It takes continuous trips of snow removal vehicles when it is still snowing or blowing. Those snow removal priority areas (e.g., Runway 16/34 and the critical taxiways) get continuous attention from the snow removers, as the runway will close if there are Pireps of Nil braking, several consecutive Pireps of poor braking, one-half inch of wet snow or slush, or 2 inches of dry snow.

    Working with Ops 39 is an Operations Supervisor with a broader mandate of ensuring the safe, efficient and secure operation of the airport as a whole (including rescue and firefighting, and the landside snow removal contractors charged with making the airport safe for passengers and employees).  A Snow Bridge (Ops base station overlooking the airline ramp) that coordinates Notams and other team activities rounds out the structure.

    While we mentioned earlier the individual snow removal capabilities of the Sweepster monster brushes, they aren’t used alone.  They are deployed often in echelon formations, first simultaneously clearing a zone left and right of the runway centerline, and then moving to the sides of the runways for the next pass.  The idea is to maintain 15-20 miles per hour or so, being slow enough for the brushes to do a good job but also fast enough that passes down the runway don’t take forever. Lather, rinse, repeat. It takes many passes to keep the fast-accumulating snow in check and the runway grooves clear of packed snow, one trip down the runway after another with the vehicles doing a choreographed turn on taxiways at either end of the runway before starting their run in the other direction.  Visibility is often down to ½ mile or less; blowing snow from wind and from the vehicles in front make this a hard job for the drivers who have to keep just a bit of overlap with the truck in front for the best cleaning.  The last driver on the side also has the most snow to move as the preceding vehicles push or brush it over to that side.

    The cleaning gets interrupted when a departure or arrival needs to use the pavement, with Ops 39 coordinating with ATC on how that is best accomplished.  Then it is all equipment off the runway, including those working on taxiways that may be coming close to or over the hold short lines, until the aircraft operation has taken place.  Then it is back on the runway to keep things clean while the snow is still falling or blowing in the wind.

    Fortunate, too, is that after an overnight snow event, the airport is a bit slower waking up to air operations than on a more normal morning.  It takes longer to deice the aircraft before departure, taxiing is slower, and those leaving the airport may be doing so up to an hour after the usual schedule.  All this means there is more time for the snow crew to give them the best runway possible. It is a joy to see a departure off a runway that the removal vehicles have just been working hard on and exited.

    It's All About Friction

    Many pilots grew up with the highly subjective reports of braking action, ranging from Good through Fair and Poor to Nil, and the report depending on who was at the controls, the type of aircraft, and autobraking in use, if not the phase of the moon.  Some measure of objectivity has been imposed by FAA for some contaminated runway surfaces, and a key component of that is using a µ (mu, pronounced myew) meter.

    The device, used by the Ops 39 command vehicle, is made by Bowmonk and it’s a decelerometer.  We had thought it was a simple measurement made while driving down the runway but it is a lot more sporty than that, sometimes bordering on the violent.  In each zone of the runway, touchdown (basically first 3,000 feet of Runway 16/34), midpoint (middle section, as you’d expect) and rollout (last few thousand feet of the runway), three readings are taken just off centerline.  The truck is moving about 20 miles per hour when the brakes are sharply applied, and the unit calculates runway friction.  It is the average of the three readings in each portion of the runway that is the useable value.  You can feel immediate friction, or some sliding and then grabbing, depending on the runway friction being experienced.  It is not exactly gentle but far better than trying out the braking in an aircraft. 

    µ values get added into a Runway Condition Assessment Matrix, that also factors in temperature and type of runway contaminant, to come up with a Runway Condition Code (RCC)  of 6 (clear and dry, the best) to 0 (minimal to no braking). All sorts of rules apply to when a µ reading can increase (make better) a RCC (basically the µ report can only improve a RCC of 0 or 1, not higher RCCs), but all pilots really have to know is the basic RCC number for each zone and then consult their materials to determine required runway lengths for the prevailing conditions.

    Share the Love

    Taxiways get their attention too, whether on the airline side of the field or on the west side.  While within the Priority 1 group Runway 16/34 takes the most attention, the Priority 1 taxiways get their care too especially as the snow slows.  The same echelon deployment of the snow-removers clears the taxiways.  A good leader will work an efficient pattern of turns while keeping brushes and plows in the same direction as much as possible.  There is an art to the snow clearing, not inviolate rules and procedures by any means as higher winds may cause different clearing patterns to be used, but it is a joy to see a similar finesse in the snow removal process as we see in the cockpit, with smoothness and no wasted motion.

    Wait for the Movie 

    Our visit with the snow removal crew was highly informative, and we cannot thank John Starace (who spent hours educating us on what his crews do), Dave Montiverdi and the Operations staff enough for their unstinting sharing of time and the warm welcome that we received.  Steve Ferguson, Assistant Airport Manager, provided support and jumped on the suggestion for this article.  Pilots and FBO denizens do not often have occasion to interact with the folks in Operations but they dedicated, hardworking, love aviation and are critical to our success as an airport. 

    This video is a tribute to the HPN Snow Removal Team.  Enjoy!

  • Saturday, November 20, 2021 12:51 PM | Michelle Judice (Administrator)

    by Scott Dyer

    In mid-October, I was fortunate to resume my Angel Flights post-pandemic by taking an Afghanistan veteran and her mother to visit the vet’s son in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  This was what we call a “compassion” flight, one principally for family unity for a deserving passenger, rather than for medical treatment.

    I’ve been doing Angel Flights since sometime in the mid-1990s when WAA Member Andy Alson asked me to fly right seat with him on a wintertime Angel Flight from Rochester to New Haven.  We had a Baron that evening and Rochester was a true winter wonderland with poor taxiing sightlines due to piles of snow.  But it was a good trip and I was hooked. 

    Since that first Rochester trip I’ve done hundreds of these flights in my Cessna 210, and almost every one was very rewarding as a way to use my aviation skills to help people in difficult times.  I’ve flown in 2001 a 9/11 first responder NYC firefighter so he could have a short vacation with his family in Peoria, Illinois where they were temporarily relocated; repeated trips with a little girl and her family so she could be treated in Pittsburgh (she sadly  succumbed, ultimately); a middle of the night trip for another little girl from Farmingdale to Allegheny County Airport so she could receive a liver transplant (landing just behind the aircraft carrying her new organ at 1AM); and many trips with a disabled Marine who was shuttling weekly from NYC to his home in Maine as he went through an HVAC apprentice program on Liberty Tower.

    Most of the trips though, have been adults and children going to medical treatments or evaluations around the East, from Toronto and Montreal as far south as Raleigh-Durham.  Many times, the destination or start of the trip is BOS.

    This most recent trip started out as a request for staffing to us Angel Flight pilots as a two leg trip, from Fryeburg, Maine to Fayetteville, North Carolina, with a break between flights in the mid-Atlantic.  Two pilots and planes were sought, one for each leg.  Knowing this was a veteran flight, I signed up for both legs so that she wouldn’t have to coordinate with two different pilots and be subject to differing views on weather or mechanical problems. 

    My main passenger was in her mid-50s, and she was accompanied by her mother who is caring for her (she suffered brain injury as well as losing a limb in an accident while she was stationed at Ft. Bragg in 2018).  The mother and I coordinated the trip about 10 days in advance, specifically knowing that it always possible it could slip due to weather.

    A day before we were going to depart,  a northeast/southwest cold front that I had been watching was scheduled to come across the east coast in mid-afternoon and into the evening on the day of our flight.  Thunderstorms would be popping up across northern New England around the time we’d be departing Maine, and then a squall front followed by the main cold front would harry us on the route to Fayetteville all day.  I decided to push the flight to the next day, when no significant weather was forecast for the route.

    And so we flew.  The passenger and her mother were a joy to meet.  The FBO at Fryeburg and a friend of the family were most accommodating in our loading up and we flew the first 3 hour leg, passing directly over JFK, and then over Delaware Bay to Easton, Maryland for refueling.

    The Easton FBO was likewise wonderful, quickly refueling and helping us assist our passenger with egress/ingress of the aircraft and use of a golf cart to move her into the FBO.  There must have been 4 people helping us get into the FBO and then on our way.

    The last leg was a 2 hour flight to Fayetteville, with the same excellent service from the FBO.  Watching my passenger meet her son, who she hadn’t seen since she was injured a few years ago, and his new wife, I was touched by the joy on all sides.  I had been impressed on the way south by the gentle strength of the family in dealing with my passenger’s injuries and needs; now there was a happy reunion of mother, son and grandmother where only a few short years before there was likely little hope of my passenger’s survival.

    Following the late afternoon drop off in Fayetteville, I headed on the short flight to Raleigh for an overnight (and dinner!) before heading home the next day.  The trip home was unexceptional with some unforecast moderate turbulence on final to HPN Runway 34 making me work a bit harder just before landing than at any time on the flight north.

    All told, this was “just another” Angel Flight, and in a way it was.  As I pulled into my tiedown back at HPN about 27 hours after leaving the previous day, I felt satisfied and happy at using my skills for a greater good.  What I remembered, too, is that each patient flight is special and this one won’t be soon forgotten.

    (Scott Dyer is a WAA Board member, and a CFI/II based at HPN, who flies his Cessna 210 for both Angel Flight NE and Patient Airlift Services.)

  • Monday, August 23, 2021 8:44 PM | Michelle Judice (Administrator)

    by Michelle Judice

    Vladimir Vallejo has worked at Westchester County Airport since 2015 and chances are you may have spoken with him without even realizing it. He is an Air Traffic Control Specialist at “Westchester Tower” who admittedly loves his job because everyday is different. His career is taking off and he leaves us in August to continue his role at one of the busiest airports in the nation...LaGuardia Tower. The move is a career enhancement that will provide a fun challenge and what’s more, his new “office” offers a view of the Manhattan skyline and NYC bridges from the state-of-the-art facility.  

    It all started when an airline pilot friend suggested he become an Air Traffic Controller.  He didn't know anything about the profession but moved ahead full throttle and applied to Vaughn College and was accepted into the ATC program. Essential skills for a controller are the ability to listen and talk at the same time, absorb a lot of information at once, quickly organize your thoughts and develop a plan and most notably, work under pressure. Although that may seem overwhelming to you and I, Vladimir assures me that experience and repetition enable him to prioritize which makes the job less stressful. Besides, he doesn’t think about this because he’s too busy!

    The best part of his job at HPN was meeting and working with a great group of people. He's been known to pop into an FBO to talk with the pilots of a particularly cool airplane. I am told by an anonymous source that the coffee might have something to do with this as well. Kidding aside, his favorite aircraft are the HondaJet, Cirrus Vision SF50 and the Cessna 208 Caravan with floats.  

    Vladimir has also appreciated the support that Airport Operations provides to ATC. They facilitate dialogue, answer any questions thrown their way and in general, have been an ally to his team. This may explain the good friend he found in Airport Operations Supervisor, David Montiverdi who speaks highly of "Vlad" and his character. He says, "If you ask around, you will find plenty of pilots who can speak to how well liked and accommodating he has been over the years. Very cordial, he often makes conversation with the many familiar voices in and out and even makes a point to know the names when he can."

    Not surprisingly, assisting with Tower Tours was a highlight during his time here. He enjoyed the chance to educate pilots about useful information but more importantly, explain why controllers issue these instructions or restrictions. There is a reason and it usually relates to flow control, entrail spacing, weather or the controlled chaos of coordinating the arrival and departure of everything from light aircraft, helicopters and flight students to scheduled commercial flights all at the same time. Tower Tours are not currently available but will resume when safe to do so.

    Good luck Vladimir from your friends at HPN!  Maintain your best forward speed.

  • Tuesday, April 27, 2021 10:38 AM | Michelle Judice (Administrator)

    by Dan Shamir

    What’s better than a flight in a single-engine airplane on a beautiful spring day? A flight in a single-engine airplane to a special destination! Whether your flight mission be the $100 ($300) hamburger, a Pilots N Paws dog rescue flight, or flying someone who has never flown in a small airplane before, having a great destination can elevate your flying experience exponentially. 

    One such destination that I frequent is Cherry Ridge Airport (N30) in Honesdale, PA. Located just 75 miles straight-line distance northwest of HPN, Cherry Ridge is close enough, yet far enough to constitute a satisfying day of flying. Once you take-off from HPN, head west to the Hudson River for a nice view of the Tappanz...I mean Mario Cuomo Bridge. From there you can practice flying a VOR needle on the 128 degree radial inbound to Huguenot (HUO). Once you reach station passage over HUO, track the 294 degree radial to N30. Of course you can also stop pretending that it’s 1981 and dial in N30 on your new (and expensive) GPS panel or iPad and fly directly to the field. Either way, remember to look out the window for some exciting scenery like the Delaware river and the High Point Monument located to the south as you fly overhead HUO. 

    Cherry Ridge airport is located about 6 miles due north of beautiful Lake Wallenpaupack. The lake is a good size and becomes an easy landmark to find while airborne. Surrounded by sprawling fields of grass with a few wooded areas, a 2986’ paved runway awaits you in good condition with the numbers 36 and 18 freshly painted on the pavement. The airport is actually a fly-in community with a connecting taxiway that leads to a number of houses with hangars. There’s nothing tricky about flying into Cherry Ridge airport but the simplicity is much of the charm and allure. Located on the field is a genuine mom and pop restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. The huge paved ramp area in front of the restaurant makes parking a breeze even on the busier weekend days. The restaurant offers fresh, wholesome food at very reasonable prices. Almost every seat in the joint has a good view of the runway for a pleasurable dining and airplane spotting experience. 

    Another benefit of this airport is that the restaurant is open on Mondays, which is a rarity. Be advised that the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, however there is a small lounge in the building that remains open, providing access to a seating area and bathrooms. 100LL fuel is available via a recently updated fuel pump located across the ramp from the restaurant. There are also a couple of maintenance shops on the field, which make the possibility of having a maintenance issue a little more palatable. 

    Cherry Ridge airport can also be more than a day trip destination. In the quaint town of Honesdale, you’ll find antique shops, motor lodges, restaurants, and more. In the summertime, nearby Lake Wallenpaupack offers all the attractions of water sports and boating. In the winter time, there are some small ski resorts in the vicinity. Cherry Ridge airport has been one of my favorite “fly-in” destinations for years. Check it out for yourself and it may become a favorite of yours, too!

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Presentation created by the WAA on the Westchester County Airport and all of the benefits it brings to our community

HPN PowerPoint December 2020.pdf

11/29 Runway Closure Update

HPN Airports Operations has decided to take the advice of the WAA's very own Scott Dyer and cancel the Notam closing Runway 11/29 during tower closure periods.

Effective Wednesday, October 21, 2020 Runway 11/29 will be open during the tower hours of operation 0700-2200. Thank you, Scott for continuing to keep the lines of communication open between the General Aviation Community and the Operations team at HPN.

11/29 Runway Closure Update

HPN Airports Operations has decided to take the advice of the WAA's very own Scott Dyer and cancel the Notam closing Runway 11/29 during tower closure periods.

Effective Wednesday, October 21, 2020 Runway 11/29 will be open during the tower hours of operation 0700-2200. Thank you, Scott for continuing to keep the lines of communication open between the General Aviation Community and the Operations team at HPN.

HPN Traffic Conflict-A Teaching Moment

A traffic conflict situation we can all learn from occurred one morning recently at Westchester County Airport, when it was operating as a non-towered airfield.   We at the Westchester Aviation Association ("WAA") hope that a review of this situation can be useful in causing us to think about safe operations and how our actions can contribute to professional operations.


The field was VMC, with 10 miles visibility and a 4,600' broken ceiling.

The essence of the incident is that a jet departing HPN taxied to Runway 34, in the dark, shortly after 5AM. The jet had obtained a "hold for release" IFR clearance for its short repositioning flight. In the meantime, a twin turboprop under VFR flew a right base to runway 34, turning about a 2 mile final. It made CTAF calls in the blind on a 4 mile right base, and on a 2 mile final. The jet called Approach to state it was ready to depart. It was released, with a void time 9 minutes later. It requested, and was granted, an early right turn direct to DPK VOR on departure rather than flying the Westchester 7 departure. The jet reported that it was "rolling". ATC told the jet that it showed traffic on a 2 mile final, at 1,000'. The jet acknowledged the call but did not report the traffic in sight. The jet then stated on CTAF that it was departing Runway 34. Words were exchanged between the twin turboprop and the jet, complaining about the jet taking off with the turboprop on short final. The jet responded that it had a void time clearance. The jet completed its flight, and the twin turboprop landed on Runway 34.


Non-towered operations at HPN require a high level of cooperation among aircrews and high vigilance in avoiding traffic conflicts.

  1. In the recent situation, the jet departed with traffic on a 2 mile final, or less, that would cover the distance to the runway in about 30 seconds. That departure clearly caused the arriving turboprop to be concerned about separation from the jet on the runway. Such a traffic situation could require a very low altitude go-around by the turboprop if the jet delayed its departure at all, or had any issue that would cause it to abort its takeoff. It can be assumed that Tower controllers would not have cleared the jet for departure with the twin turboprop on short final at 1,000' or below. While it is not known if the jet had the arriving traffic in sight, either way would counsel that the jet should have delayed its departure with no other aircraft reporting in the pattern.
  2. A void time of any duration should not have caused the jet to depart with traffic on a short final. The void time was 9 minutes after ATC release. A delay of departure of several minutes by the jet would have eliminated any potential conflict, especially since it had already been granted an expeditious routing that avoided having to fly the SID, and would have easily complied with the void time restriction. One reason ATC gave as lengthy a void time as 9 minutes for the jet may have been that the controller saw the traffic on final and planned that the jet would depart after its arrival. Even were the void time only a few minutes away, safety suggests that the departure not occur and a new void time be obtained because of the traffic situation
  3. The turboprop flew a non-standard pattern to Runway 34, flying a right based to a 2 mile final. All arriving VFR aircraft are required to observe the standard pattern for the HPN runways (e.g., left hand traffic) when approaching the airport to land, unless instructed otherwise by the tower. In this case, the tower was not operating so VFR operations should have used left hand traffic patterns. While the pattern used int his case did not seem to contribute to the conflict situation, there have been recent occasions, when the Tower has been closed in busy periods, when some traffic is flying left and right patterns, with base legs pointing aircraft at each other. Please fly left traffic unless instructed otherwise by ATC.
  4. Arguing on the frequency, either pilot/ATC or pilot/pilot, accomplishes no purpose and is contrary to safety. As understandable and right as objections to an operation may be, it is far better practice to talk about it once on the ground whether by telephone with ATC or through call to the owner/operator/chief pilot of the other aircraft. And, a corollary: profanity should never be used on the air.

We at WAA encourage all of our airport users to fly safely and cooperatively. And we hope that you will join us at the December 10 7:30 pm virtual WAA/ATC meeting, details of which are available here: Click Here to register for the meeting. 

The Northeast Virtual Aviation Safety Stand Down 

This WAA sponsored event took place on Saturday September 12, 2020 via a Webinar and was attended by 170 guests. This live event took the traditional aviation safety stand down to the next level! The event included multiple different live presentations, each followed by Q&A. The WAA would like to thank Gene Benson for his partnership on this informative session.

WAA Members are able to login to their accounts and view the recording Here.

HPN Corporate and Jet Avoidance of VFR Aircraft

Please take a few moments to watch this detailed video created by Scott Dyer, WAA Board members and CFI. The video details what corporate and jet crews need to know about avoiding VFR aircraft around Westchester County Airport, including inbound/outbound VFR routes, transition routes and practice areas. Much of the battle of avoiding conflict is knowing where the VFRs usually are.


Westchester Aviation Association is a non-profit organization.

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