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By Madeleine Moreau
For The Airport News

Ask Michael P. Speciale what the worst day was in his 29 years at the New England Air Museum and he pauses just a moment.
There really wasn’t one, he says.
“I love coming to work every day. That’s why I stayed that long.”
After 29½ years, Speciale, 68, will retire Dec. 1 as executive director of the largest aviation museum in the Northeast. An executive committee is searching for his replacement.
The museum was in tough shape when the Middletown native started working here in 1985. The 1979 tornado had destroyed 20 of its vintage aircraft, with many more damaged.
When Speciale arrived, there was just one hangar and it was 100 percent mortgaged.
“I thought I would only be here for a couple of years — just to get things stabilized,” he says.
That one building has grown to seven buildings. And, unusual for any nonprofit nowadays, the museum today has a healthy budget with substantial cash reserves.
That’s a matter of pride to Speciale.
“All this took a long time to do, of course. We’ve been growing nonstop. … And we’re still growing,” he says.
Sure, those open cockpit days are still popular, attracting thousands every year. Visitors of all ages eagerly climb into the cockpits of vintage aircraft, such as a World War II Republic P-47D Thunderbolt or a Lockheed F-104C Starfighter.
“It’s a lot of fun — people love it,” he says. “But we’ve added a tremendous variety of other special events,” he says.
He points to two.
There’s the museum’s annual Space Expo in March, which this year attracted more than 15 exhibitors from across New England.
This year’s event also included a visit from NASA astronaut and Connecticut native Capt. Daniel Burbank. He shared his experiences on two Space Shuttle missions.
Then there’s the popular Women Take Flight Day, held in the fall. The day features a star-studded cast of women in aviation and aerospace engineering.
“It’s very inspirational to young women,” he says.
The museum, he says, plays two key roles. First, of course, its mission is to preserve history.
“What we do here — the tangible results you can see and touch and feel. We have a lot of historical aircraft restorations … rare or unique.”
And the second role: to excite and interest children to pursue careers in aviation.
The days are long gone when the New England Air Museum was a place for “males to come and look at a bunch of hardware.”
Most people who visit today are young people who visit with their families, he says.
Does he see challenges ahead for his successor?
Fundraising, he says.
“So many organizations are chasing the same amount of money. It’s positioning yourself so you can spark the interest of industry and corporate donors. It gets harder and harder.”
As for retirement, Speciale says he’s keeping his options open. Maybe volunteer work or teaching.
“The door’s open; I am just not sure,” he says.
He is confident, though, that the museum will continue to thrive.
“We have a great board of directors, great staff — we’re in really great shape.”
His colleagues at the museum will miss him.
Scott Ashton, president of the New England Air Museum, said. “Mike has been an enthusiastic and dedicated leader of the museum for nearly 30 years. We are very grateful for Mike’s leadership and dedication to the mission of the New England Air Museum.”
Speciale “led the museum’s transformation from a small one-hangar museum recovering from the effects of a tornado in 1969, to a major cultural, educational, and historical institution serving a world-wide audience,” Ashton said.

TerminalB_001By The Airport News

Demolition of Bradley International Airport’s Terminal B is getting underway, 62 years after it opened and four years after its last flight left for Chicago.
When it closed it April 2010, it was the oldest operating airline terminal in the country. After American Airlines and Air Canada moved to Terminal A, it housed offices of the Transportation Security Administration and Connecticut State Police Troop W.
Troop W’s move to the new airport security building in mid-July and the TSA’s move to Terminal A in mid-August cleared the way for demolition to begin, said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority.
The demolition contract was awarded to S & R Corp., of Lowell, Massachusetts, on July 30. S&R bid $12,572,622 for the project, which is expected to take 18 months.
“It was a very good bid,” Dillon said. “There will be other expenses allocated to the project … but we will be well below our $19 million budget,” he said.
The demolition project is beginning inside with the removal of hazardous substances, such as asbestos and lead. Some sections of the building might start to come down by the end of the year.
Other matters that preceded the go-ahead for demolition were the relocation of the airfield lighting vault, an agreement with the Connecticut Army National Guard to provide a holding area for international flight diversions, and an agreement with the owner of WFSB-TV to move its Doppler radar equipment to another site.
Relocation of the airfield lighting vault involved moving equipment and controls, rewiring lighting systems and cabling to the air traffic control tower, and installing new power feeds and emergency generators, according to Urban Engineers, a design firm based in Philadelphia.
The holding area for flight diversions is needed in case space is needed to house passengers of international flights that might be rerouted to Bradley temporarily. Dillon said the airport reached an understanding with the Guard and U.S. Customs to use the Army readiness center, if necessary.
At its August meeting, the Connecticut Airport Authority board of directors authorized Dillon to enter into an agreement with Meredith Corp., owner of WFSB, for leasing an airport site for its Doppler radar equipment. WFSB had planned to move its radar system from Terminal B to Avon Mountain, but those plans have hit a snag in Avon.
Terminal B, which opened in 1952, was first known as the Francis S. Murphy Terminal, named for the editor and publisher of The Hartford Times who was also.the chairman of the state aeronautics commission. He was referred to as the “father of Bradley Field.”
The demolition of the old terminal and the elevated road in front of it will make space for a new ground transportation center with a consolidated rental car facility, an enclosed connection to Terminal A, and more parking. A new Terminal B is contemplated, but is not likely until 2025, provided passenger traffic justifies it.

Connecticut’s first-ever aerospace summit will be held Sept. 21-23 in Groton. The Aerospace and Defense International Trade Summit will invite manufacturers from all over the world to attend the event. Nations expected to be represented include the United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, Spain and Canada. More from The Day of New London

RickDiegoRichard A. “Rick” Diego has been named publisher of The Airport News, the independent news publication serving the Bradley International Airport community.
Diego’s appointment comes as The Airport News celebrates its 20th year and is increasing its publication frequency from quarterly to monthly.
Diego came to The Airport News from the U.S. Postal Service marketing department. He was the periodicals expert on the Connecticut Valley District staff as the mailing standards specialist.
He grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts; served in the U.S. Coast Guard in New London; and is a 1979 graduate of the University of Hartford.
Diego started with The Airport News working to increase distribution and advertiser support. During a recent change of management, he was asked to also assume the role of publisher.
He can be reached by email at rick@airportnews.com or by phone at 860-681-5871.

By The Airport News

Passenger traffic was up more than 10 percent at Bradley International Airport in the first half of 2014, thanks to an improving economy in Connecticut and additional airline service. Airport officials are optimistic about continuing progress.
Bradley traffic was up 9 percent in May and 9.3 percent in June, the latest numbers available when Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority, gave his monthly report to the CAA board of directors in August. The year-to-date traffic increase at Bradley was 10.6 percent through June. The report compares 2014 totals to totals from similar periods a year earlier.
Dillon described the trends as “continued very good success.” He compared Bradley’s first-half gains to numbers from T.F. Green Airport in Providence, Rhode island (down 6.8 percent), Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, New Hampshire (down 13 percent), and Logan International Airport in Boston (up 4.4 percent).
He attributed the declines at Providence and Manchester to reduced flights by Southwest Airlines, which has added flights at Boston. Bradley has its own market, Dillon explained, while the other regional airports rely on “bleedback” from Boston.
“The success here is really as a result of an improving economy,” Dillon said at the Aug. 11 board meeting, “as well as our continued focus on adding additional capacity.” He said he’s working with all of the airlines serving Bradley — “as well as some carriers that aren’t operating here today” — to try to increase service levels.
JetBlue Airways launched service in June between Bradley and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. United Airlines will begin daily nonstop service in October between Bradley and Houston-George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Not mentioned in the public portion of the CAA board meeting was American Airlines’ decision to end nonstop service between Bradley and Los Angeles. The daily flights launched with a big celebration in August 2013 and were Bradley’s only nonstop West Coast destination. Service ended in mid-August.
“They weren’t making any money on the flight,” said John Wallace, the CAA’s manager of communications, even though the planes “were pretty full — almost 80 percent.” He added: “We’re hoping they come back with a new pricing scheme.”
There has been speculation in online passenger bulletin boards that American may resume Bradley-Los Angeles flights as seasonal service next summer.
Meanwhile, Bradley continues its focus on international traffic. Dillon told the CAA board that returning trans-Atlantic flights is one of the airport’s top goals. There’s strong trans-Atlantic travel in Connecticut, but much of that comes from Fairfield County, with some from southeastern Connecticut, he said.
Bradley is looking to those areas to boost traffic. The CAA is beginning a new advertising program in the southeastern and southwestern parts of the state, pitching the ease of using Bradley, compared with the New York airports. “JFK: great president, tough airport — come home to Bradley” could be the message, Dillon said.
Dillon also reported good numbers on airport finances to the CAA board in August: Year-to-date operating income was $4.7 million higher than expected, he said. Efforts to control expenses, as well as the increased passenger traffic, were a big help, he said.
“We hope for a mild winter to hang on to some of that money,” said Mary Ellen Jones, chairwoman of the CAA board.

SheratonChefShaneArnoldWINDSOR LOCKS — Shane Arnold has been appointed as the executive chef for the 237-room Sheraton Hartford Hotel at Bradley Airport. Arnold’s responsibilities include menu creation and management of all food departments throughout the Sheraton, including the hotel’s restaurant, Concorde’s. Waterford Hotel Group manages the Sheraton Hartford.
Arnold joins the Sheraton team from his most recent position as executive sous chef and assistant restaurant manager for the 409-room Marriott Hartford Downtown, a post he held for nearly 10 years. Arnold had also previously serviced as a task force chef for Waterford Hotel Group, lending his culinary management expertise to several properties in the company’s portfolio including the Gettysburg Hotel and the Andover Inn. In 2011, he was awarded the Outstanding Manager of the Year recognition by the Connecticut Lodging Association.
“We are pleased to welcome Chef Arnold to the Sheraton Hartford,” said Chris Allen, general manager of the hotel. “His culinary experience and familiarity with the day to day operations of a large hotel make him a welcome addition to the Sheraton’s food and beverage team,” he said.
Arnold holds an associate degree in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University. He resides in Rocky Hill.

By Robin Lee Michel,
For The Airport News

Officials believe continued growth in passenger traffic indicates that Bradley International Airport is becoming an attractive travel option in the Northeast. (Photo by Robin Lee Michel)

Officials believe continued growth in passenger traffic indicates that Bradley International Airport is becoming an attractive travel option in the Northeast. (Photo by Robin Lee Michel)

Eight consecutive months of increased passenger traffic at Bradley International Airport have officials optimistic that the facility is becoming an attractive travel option for residents in the Northeast.
“We are pleased to see this level of consistent passenger growth over the past eight consecutive months,” said Connecticut Airport Authority Executive Director Kevin Dillon.
The trend began in September 2013 when the number of inbound and outbound travelers rose by 1.9 percent over the same month in 2012. A CAA report detailed the subsequent increases: October, 5.7 percent; November, 3.4 percent; December, 19.7 percent; January, 9.1 percent; February, 10.5 percent; March, 11.2 percent; and April 13.1 percent. May and June statistics have not been released.
Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, in Manchester, N.H., T.F. Green Airport in Warwick (Providence), R.I., and Logan International Airport in Boston did not realize similar numbers, according to CAA statistics. Of these three airports, only Logan has seen an increase in traffic, averaging 3.5 percent in January through April over last year.
CAA officials attribute the consistent passenger increase to numerous factors, including increased routes, enhanced customer service and offerings, improved passenger processing times and an improved economy. The CAA also continues to promote Bradley’s accessibility from anywhere in the Northeast.
In 2013, improved route offerings included the addition of American Airlines’ daily nonstop flight to Los Angeles, Southwest Airlines’ three daily nonstop trips to Atlanta, and JetBlue Airways’ daily nonstop service to Fort Myers and Tampa. Most recently, JetBlue introduced two nonstop flights — 6:30 a.m. and 6:35 p.m. — to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on June 17. United Airlines is scheduled to begin flying this October to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.
“We look forward to engaging with airlines to continue offering our passengers new and exciting routes,” Dillon said.
Improvements to customer service such as a Frequent Parker program and additional concessions have also played a role in attracting travelers.
Dillon said the economy sets the tone for discretionary funding on travel and its improvement has prompted passenger growth. The increased number of seats and general economic performance are much more important than specific routes, although CAA strives to provide a diverse route menu to travelers, the executive director said.
Passenger processing times have been streamlined at the ticket counter and security. The Pre-Check Program provides expedited screening to passengers who have provided additional personal information prior to arrival. The Known Crew Member program provides separate screening for pilots and crews, freeing up capacity for the public in the standard security lines. At the ticket counters, airlines have been asked to focus on a higher level of customer service.
A major multi-million-dollar project that will transform Bradley’s footprint will begin this year with the removal of the Murphy Terminal, also known as Terminal B, that was constructed in 1952 and deemed obsolete in 2010. A new four-floor transportation center will feature the Consolidated Rental Car Facility, 900 parking spaces, a customer service center and people mover to transport customers to the main terminal.
CAA is marketing the expanded offerings to emphasize the access and convenience of Bradley over Boston and New York airports. “Also we underline the lower cost of services (hotels, dining, etc.) at Bradley compared to Boston and NYC. It is advantageous for businesses to use Connecticut and Bradley as an operating base and travel to NYC and Boston for business,” Dillon said. The marketing focus is also being expanded in certain regions such as Fairfield County and Southeastern Connecticut, which are potential population bases.
“As long as additional seats are added and the economy supports people’s ability to travel, we anticipate a [continued] increase,” Dillon said.

By Robin Lee Michel,
For The Airport News

American Warriors at Bradley. (Photo by Paul Bonneau)

American Warriors at Bradley. (Photo by Paul Bonneau)

In the course of seven years, the dreams of 1,000 World War II veterans have been fulfilled thanks to American Warrior, a nonprofit organization based in Norwich. On April 26, 78 WWII veterans and 20 Korean War veterans made the day trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the National World War II Memorial and other memorials established in their honor.
This most recent trip brought the total to the goal set in 2006 by Connecticut resident Christopher D. , who founded American Warrior. That was the year that he and his wife, Nergina, visited the World War II memorial and noticed there were few veterans of that era present. His own grandfather and six great-uncles never saw the site.
Coutu, who was 30 at the time, did not want the surviving servicemen and women to never have the opportunity to visit the memorial, whatever the circumstances. He was determined that his last surviving family member who served, his uncle Edward Coutu, would see the memorial. Although Edward Coutu was in a long-term care facility, using a wheelchair, the young man vowed to get him to Washington.
“My vision started off with the idea that we could send a few WWII veterans. I wanted to honor them and show that we all can make a difference,” said Chris Coutu,
Coutu himself is a veteran, having served in the U.S. Air , and is still an officer in the Army National Guard. Founding American Warrior and with community support and his own savings, the first Day of Honor was held Sept. 15, 2007, with 100 WWII veterans and 49 guardians — escorts — taking the excursion, his uncle among them.
“Our original goal was to send 1,000 WWII veterans to visit their memorial and we surpassed that with our [2014] trip,” said Sue Ponder, treasurer of the American Warrior board of directors, data manager and primary logistics coordinator.
Day of Honor trips are funded by donations and American Warrior gladly accepts contributions from anyone except the veterans themselves. “We believe that these veterans have given enough,” Coutu said. Guardians, who are family members, friends, caregivers or volunteers, pay $300.
This year, the veterans — whose average age was 87 — were from 53 Connecticut towns, Rhode Island, New York and Massachusetts. The oldest traveler was 99 and the youngest was 74. The group included three female WWII veterans, including a Navy nurse. Branches of service represented were Air National Guard, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, Naval Air and Navy Armed Guard.
A total of 47 guardians and 35 Navy volunteers accompanied the veterans, which included more than 60 people in wheelchairs. One guardian, Adrian Hendrickson, has traveled on all 10 trips. Among them was Coutu, who since he founded American Warrior served from 2009 to 2013 as state representative of the 47th House District, representing Canterbury, Sprague, Scotland .and part of Norwich.
The day began with the travelers gathering at 7:30 a.m. at Bradley International Airport, where they boarded a chartered U.S. Airways flight, an Airbus 320, and were honored with a water cannon salute. Upon arrival at Reagan National Airport, the plane taxied through a second water cannon salute and was greeted by hundreds of supporters as an orchestra performed patriotic music. The buses were accompanied by a motorcycle escort to the WWII Memorial and a wreath was laid at the Connecticut pillar in honor of those men and women who never made the journey. Lunch followed, and the day continued with visits to the Korean, Navy, Iwo Jima and Air Force monuments.
“It is a 14-hour day for these great warriors, but even when they arrive at Bradley and march to the homecoming of 300-plus people waiting to welcome them home, they are wide awake and loving every minute of it,” Ponder said.
As time goes on, the numbers of Korean veterans wishing to participate are increasing. American Warrior anticipates transitioning the focus of the trips to be on the Korean vets as the numbers of WWII veterans dwindle. Each veteran is allowed to go once.
Presently there are 22 WWII veterans on the list for April 2015. It takes at least six months of planning to contact and organize the veterans and guardians. For this year’s trip, there were originally 103 WWII veterans on the list, but ultimately only 78 participated. The roster was changing up to the final week.
American Warrior is an all-volunteer organization, with 99.9 percent of all the money raised going to support the Day of Honor. Corporate sponsors of the 2014 trip included Five Star supermarkets (ShopRite and PriceRite), Pfizer Employee Grant Match, Cablevision, Northeast Utilities, Naugatuck Bank Foundation, Wal-Mart, Dime Bank and the A&E TV network.
An estimated 2,000 small donations were made. Contributors and fundraisers included Connecticut Town and City Clerks, Enfield Cost of Freedom Walk, Spc. Wil Perez Jr. Golf Classic, Norwich Chapter 3636 of AARP, Red Hat Society, Odd Fellows, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, businesses, individuals, schools, civic organizations and many others. Photographer Paul Bonneau donated his time in documenting the day.
Day of Honor is a huge undertaking, Ponder said. “if it were not for the help and coordination of everyone at Bradley, U.S. Air and TSA [Transportation Security Administration], the day of the trip would not be such a smoothly run event. They are extraordinary and all should be applauded from the top down,” Ponder said.
For the second consecutive year, the Day of Honor continued at a reunion event. On June 21, veterans, guardians and family members gathered at CL&P to watch a video about the trip and reminisce. At the 2013 event, two men who had been best buddies during the war were reunited, Ponder said.
The American Warrior experience has prompted some veterans to share their personal memories for the first time, 60 years after they occurred. “The stories are amazing,” she said.
American Warrior has expanded its mission by establishing Operation Freedom Legacy, Operation Make a Difference and Operation Welcome Home, which promote patriotism, volunteering, sacrifice and freedom. Thousands of schoolchildren have learned about these values through visits to classrooms and veterans have been honored by their communities with parades and ceremonies.
“We [have] succeeded by motivating thousands of students and volunteers to honor these heroes, before it was too late,” Coutu said.
“My only regret is not motivating even more supporters to help us fly another 1,000,” Coutu said. “Unfortunately, many of my WWII friends (all eight family members) are gone. I like to believe their final days were a bit more special because of our efforts.”

WASHINGTON — Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, projects summer 2014 air travel to rise to its highest level in six years, with a record number of passengers traveling internationally on U.S. carriers. About 210 million passengers (2.28 million per day) are expected to fly U.S. airlines from June 1 to Aug. 31, up 1.5 percent from 2013. This includes 29.9 million travelers (325,000 per day) on international flights – an all-time high. Published airline schedules show Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan, respectively, as the top five nonstop destinations from the United States.
“It’s a great time to fly, as air travel remains one of the best consumer bargains in America, given its superior speed and affordability,” said John Heimlich, A4A vice president and chief economist. “U.S. airlines are well prepared to accommodate the increased travel demand in the summer months by adding seats and continuing to make customer-focused investments in their product.”
During the first quarter of 2014, nine publicly traded U.S. passenger carriers collectively reported a net profit of $401 million, resulting in a 1.1 percent net profit margin, improved from a collective net loss of $552 million during the same period in 2013, A4A said. Operating revenues rose 3.7 percent year-over-year due in large part to a 1.1 percent increase in the number of air travelers, the equivalent of an additional 21,000 passengers per day. Fuel remained the largest and most volatile cost for airlines, accounting for 33 percent of overall operating expenses.
Despite entering 2014 with about $72 billion of debt and coping with some of the worst winter weather on record, modest financial progress enabled carriers to continue significant levels of reinvestment to further enhance the customer experience. First-quarter capital expenditures for the nation’s airlines totaled $3 billion, on track to meet the $12 billion in reinvestment expected for the full year. Advancements include 1,751 new aircraft, of which 255 are scheduled for delivery in 2014 or the equivalent of roughly one aircraft received every weekday of the year.
“The modest margins are enabling airlines to shore up their balance sheets while accelerating reinvestment in people, products and technologies that enhance the overall travel experience,” said Heimlich. “In the first quarter, airlines did a great job meeting the needs of their customers despite facing severe winter weather, including two of the worst aviation weather days ever recorded.”
Heimlich noted that, while U.S. airline finances are steadily improving, the industry still faces significant financial challenges.
U.S. passenger airlines’ operational performance remained strong, improving from January to February to March as meteorological conditions improved, A4A said. According to the Department of Transportation, from January to March the rate of completed flights rose from 93.46 percent to 98 percent; the on-time arrival rate increased from 67.72 percent to 77.6 percent and the share of passengers having their bags properly handled rose from 99.4 percent to 99.6 percent.

WINDSOR LOCKS — The Connecticut Airport Authority has announced the debut of new daily, nonstop United Airlines service between Bradley International Airport (BDL) and Houston-George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) beginning Oct. 15. This addition to Bradley’s route structure continues the CAA’s commitment to provide its customers with a robust menu of service offerings.
“Anytime an airline announces new routes at Bradley, that’s good news for Connecticut and the Greater Hartford regional economy. By offering additional options for airlines, routes and nonstop service, Bradley is quickly becoming the go-to for more and more travelers and tourists alike,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. “In turn, this increase in activity translates to new jobs, economic development and business opportunities for the state.”
“We’re pleased to add new United Express service between Houston and Hartford,” said Jim Compton, United’s vice chairman and chief revenue officer. “The new flights complement our existing service to Bradley from our Chicago, New York and Washington hubs, providing Greater Harford-area travelers with more nonstop flight options, as well as convenient connections via the Houston hub to more than 75 other destinations in Texas, the U.S. West Coast and Latin America.”
“The CAA strives to provide its travelers with access to the nation’s most desirable destinations,” said CAA Board Chair Mary Ellen Jones. “The addition of daily, nonstop United Express service to Houston provides evidence of the CAA’s focus on providing the highest level of customer service.”
“The decision by United to increase its footprint at Bradley International Airport with such a popular route is indicative of the airport’s high standing in the region,” said CAA Executive Director Kevin Dillon. “The CAA will continue exploring these types of opportunities to bolster Bradley’s offerings and connect our passengers to new adventures in our nation’s top cities.”
The flights will be operated by Mesa Airlines using Embraer 175 aircraft with 76 seats — 12 in United First and 64 in United Economy, including 16 Economy Plus extra-legroom seats. Service will begin with the first flight from Houston to Bradley at 3:40 p.m. on Oct. 15. Bradley’s inaugural departure to Houston will begin on Oct. 16 at 7:20 a.m.