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Air Force pilot shortage growing, top leaders say

Published: Thursday, November 09, 2017 @ 5:07 PM


            Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein prepare to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee June 6, 2017, in Washington, D.C. AIR FORCE PHOTO
Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein prepare to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee June 6, 2017, in Washington, D.C. AIR FORCE PHOTO

The Air Force pilot shortage has grown to nearly 2,000 despite pumped-up financial bonuses to retain more military aviators in the cockpit, top Air Force leaders say.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson blames one key reason for the growing losses: “We’re burning out our people because we’re too small for what the nation is asking.”

RELATED: House defense leader at Wright Patt, says AF pilot shortage growing

Wilson said sequestration, or defense spending reductions under the Budget Control Act of 2011, had eroded readiness and contributed to the woes of retaining experienced aviators.

“Sequester is still the law of the land,” Wilson said. “If we go through another sequester again, a 2,000 pilot (shortage) will be a dream. People will walk.”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said the Air Force planned to ramp up flight school production to 1,400 pilots earning their wings every year, up from about 1,200 annually today.

“What keeps me up is if we can’t move past sequestration in its current form, we’re going to break this force,” Goldfein told reporters.

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The 1,926 pilot shortage represents almost one out of 10 pilots of the 20,000 who serve in the Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, officials said.

The White House also recently expanded Air Force authority to call back the retired pilots, but in tightly limited numbers that will not come close to closing the gap.

House Armed Services Committee chairman and U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, visited Wright-Patterson last month and announced the Air Force pilot shortage had reached about 1,900 aviators.

In March, the Air Force said it was short 1,555 pilots, and of those 1,211 were fighter pilots. In response, the service branch offered figther pilots up to $455,000 in bonuses over 13 years to remain in uniform, and extended financial incentives to other areas short of workforce needs.

Wilson said the Air Force’s additional priorities are modernizing the fleet, including nuclear-tipped missiles and bombers, launching a 12-month review of science and technology research programs, developing leaders, and strengthening U.S. military alliances around the globe.

But it was the budget and the ongoing concerns over sequestration that dominated the two leaders conversation.

“Our biggest need right now is for a higher and stable budget,” said Wilson, a former New Mexico Republican congresswoman.

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Wilson said during “State of the Air Force” address Thursday that was streamed live from the Pentagon the Air Force was investigating what led to the service branch’s failure to report the military criminal conviction of two domestic assault charges against the alleged gunman, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, in a Texas church shooting massacre that killed 26 and injured 20 on Sunday.

Authorities said the former airmen died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a high-speed chase with two bystanders. One of them apparently shot Kelley at least once before the pursuit, reports said. Kelley had been stationed at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., and sentenced to a year in a Navy brig near San Diego.

The Air Force has confirmed it failed to report Kelley’s conviction to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, which would have prevented him from legally purchasing a firearm, the service branch said.

“We are looking at all of our databases and if we have problems we find, we’ll fix them,” Wilson said.

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New firefighters to join Dayton Fire Department

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 9:35 PM

The Dayton Fire Department welcomed 14 new firefighters at a ceremony held tonight, according to a release.

The members of the 2018-A fire recruit class took part in a formal graduation ceremony and swearing-in. The ceremony took place at the Engineers Club of Dayton located at 110 E. Monument Street.

The class members completed a rigorous six-month training program at the Dayton Fire Department Training Center. They have also completed training and attained certification from the State of Ohio as Emergency Medical Technicians, Firefighter Level II and Fire Safety Inspectors. 

Upon graduation, the new firefighters will be assigned to work in one of Dayton’s 12 firehouses while they complete additional training during a six-month probationary period. 

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com 

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Dayton Air Show impacts airport commercial traffic

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 8:24 PM

Airport commercial traffic is impacted by the Vectren Dayton Air Show, according to Terry Slaybaugh--City of Dayton Director of Aviation. 

There are stretches where the air space has to be exclusively used to the air show and commercial flights have to be grounded for 30 to 45 minutes at a time. It takes a lot of coordination to minimize the impact. 

All weekend long, there will be high-flying and high-speed acts in the skies at the Dayton Air Show. During this time, the Dayton International Airport remains open for business.  

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Travelers flights still have to go on at the airport terminal during the air show. “It’s something we start working on way before the show,” said Terry Slaybaugh.

For jet teams like the Blue Angels or other supersonic fighters like the F-22 to be in the air, the airport closes its airspace for an hour at a time and no other planes are allowed to take off or land so the jets can practice safely and alone. “We’re shutting it down for a very large area. Five miles around the airport and five miles--or five thousand feet--over the airport there’s no activity,” said Slaybaugh. 

RELATED: Dayton Air Show forecast

There were three closure times scheduled tonight and there will be more this weekend. The airport tells airlines when those closures will be so carriers can schedule flights around those times to minimize any delays, but there’s a little more flexibility when propelled planes perform. “We have two parallel runways so we can actually put up the slower speed aircraft, the turbo-props. We can put them up, they can practice, and we can still operate commercial flights on our other runway,” said Slaybaugh.

All of this, plus constant communication between the air show and commercial pilots and air traffic control is what makes sure the air show weekend stays safe. “It takes a lot of cooperation from a lot of people,” said Slaybaugh.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com 

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Dayton International Airport’s bond rating down graded

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 3:05 PM


            A traveler enters the Dayton International Terminal as recent renovations were under way. KARA DRISCOLL/STAFF
A traveler enters the Dayton International Terminal as recent renovations were under way. KARA DRISCOLL/STAFF

Fitch Ratings has downgraded the rating of the Dayton International Airport’s revenue bonds.

The rating has been changed to BBB from BBB+, and the rating Outlook has been reduced to negative from stable.

The change was made because of what Fitch Ratings says is continued weakness in the airport’s operating performance. The firm pointed to “multi-year declines of the enplanement base.”

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The airport faces challenges including the recent loss of Southwest Airlines, the access to alternative airports such as Cincinnati and Columbus and service area demographics, the firm said.

“In Fitch’s view, the airport’s financial flexibility is potentially more at risk to be pressured with rising costs per enplanement as well as lower coverage as higher debt service costs are now factored into the annual budget,” the firm said.

This news organization is reaching out to the city for comment and will update this story.

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Big check means big things for Dayton Gem City Market

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 7:05 PM


            Supporters celebrate a $100,000 donation to the Gem City Market, which plans to be Dayton’s first food cooperative. STAFF/CORNELIUS FROLIK
Supporters celebrate a $100,000 donation to the Gem City Market, which plans to be Dayton’s first food cooperative. STAFF/CORNELIUS FROLIK

A giant cardboard check presented tonight was a giant leap forward for efforts to open Dayton’s first food cooperative, the Gem City Market.

KeyBank announced it has awarded $100,000 to help with the project to build a community-owned, full-service grocery store on the 300 and 400 block of Salem Ave., which is located in one of the largest food deserts in the state.

With KeyBank’s commitment, the market has now raised about 40 percent of its $4.2 million capital campaign goal.

“Our partners at KeyBank are joining the fight” against hunger, said Tony Hall, with the Hall Hunger Initiative.

RELATED: Could Gem City Market end Dayton’s food desert? 5 questions answered for you

But that’s not the only good news that was shared at the market’s community meeting tonight.

The food co-op has now sold about 1,385 shares, which is nearly 70 percent of the its membership goal.

The market seeks to have at least 2,000 members by the time the grocery store opens, which is planned for 2019, supporters say. The market had about 920 memberships in mid-May.

Gem City Market will be built on a vacant lot on the 400 block of Salem Avenue and will involve the former Ken McCallister Inc. art supply property at 300 Salem Ave.

Market supporters say do not yet know if the vacant art supply structure will be renovated and incorporated into the project or if it will be demolished.

This is the second major financial boost the market has received in the last 10 days. Last week, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley accepted a $150,000 CommunityWINS grant, from the American Conference of Mayors and Wells Fargo.

RELATED: Mayor Whaley accepts national grant for Gem City Market

KeyBank wants to lift up the communities it serves, and this will give the community a place where it can get healthy food, said Joey Williams, KeyBank president.

“I think Gem City Market will be an incredible addition,” he said.

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