Aerial view of the Reno-Stead Airport taken from an aircraft flying overhead.

Information for pilots and users of Reno-Stead Airport.

Spring 2014 Reno-Stead Airport Association Newsletter




Stead Airport Invites Drone Developers

Reno Gazette-Journal
March 11, 2014
Bill O’Driscoll

Spurred by Stead’s selection as a federal test site for developing unmanned aerial vehicles, airport officials on March 10, 2014, put the call out for developers, interested in airport land 10 miles north of downtown Reno.

The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, which owns the Reno-Stead Airport and thousands of acres of adjoining land, issued a request for qualifications from developers locally as well as nationwide.

“We’re looking to see what the market tells us,” said Brian Kulpin, airport authority spokesman. “We’re seeking large and small developers.”

The timing of the request couldn’t be better, he said, coming after the Federal Aviation Administration’s December 30, 2013, selection of Nevada and five other states as designated drone-testing sites.

“The day after the drone announcement, our phone began ringing,” Kulpin said. “We’re seeing a lot of interest already.”

Stead is one of four locations statewide, including Fallon Naval Air Station, that will focus on determining how the FAA’s air traffic control system will handle drone flights and how to develop standards and certification procedures for drone operators.

In its announcement, the FAA has said it wants the sites in Nevada, Alaska, North Dakota, Virginia, New York and Texas operating within 180 days.

Kulpin said the plan to market 700 acres of aeronautical land and 2,800 acres of non-aeronautical land at Stead comes at a time when the Airport Authority has pegged economic development as a top priority in its new long-term strategic plan.

The Stead airport has seen $50 million in improvements in the past decade, most recently in a $6 million, 12,000-square-foot general aviation building opened in December, 2013.

Kulpin cited other advantages such as Stead’s access to Reno-Sparks via a four-lane freeway and a rail spur line, factors that have made the area a key warehouse/distribution center.


Reno native Lt. Col. Rapp hired as airport drone chief

Reno Gazette-Journal

Lt. Col. Warren Rapp has been hired to lead the program management for the Nevada Institute of Autonomous Systems at Reno-Stead Airport.

Rapp said that his job will be to help get airspace, study privacy issues and smooth the way for practical uses of drones in Nevada.

His office will work with the Federal Aviation Administration, businesses and airports, “to educate them and set up infrastructure across Nevada,” Rapp said.

Rapp, a Reno native and graduate of Reno High School, is currently a commander of a Nevada Air Guard squadron that deals with drones.

He has been a pilot for 26 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and the Nevada Air National Guard.

He will retire this year and begin his new Reno job in April, according to an announcement from Reno-Tahoe International Airport and Bowhead Business and Technology Systems.

The global drone industry is forecast to grow into a $90 billion business by 2023, according to the announcement.


CBS News profiles UNR drone program

Reno Gazette-Journal
March 1, 2014

Students studying drones at the University of Nevada, Reno, got some national network love this week when CBS News profiled UNR’s new minor degree program in drones.

The story quotes student Orion Vazquez, who said he wants to be part of the future. “That’s the dream,” he told CBS. “ That’s really where I see myself in the future, and I really want to be a part of that.”

There’s also video of UNR professor Kam Leang displaying the school’s drone technology. You can see the report at (search for “drones”).


University Joins with NevadaNano for Flying Robot Sensor Project

Weekly Briefing • University of Nevada, Reno
March 12, 2014

With a new contract from the U.S. Army, the University is partnering with NevadaNano — a start-up company that grew out of the  University in 2004 — to develop a robotic flying vehicle for environmental health and safety monitoring of large areas.

The timing of the contract could not have been better considering the Federal Aviation Administration’s recent designation of Nevada as an unmanned autonomous systems test site, the launch this semester of the University’s new UAS minor degree and plans for the University’s new advanced autonomous systems innovation center moving ahead.

Why Reno, Nevada (not Arizona) is likely to land Tesla’s $5B gigafactory

Phoenix Business Journal
March 29, 2014
Mike Sunnucks, Senior Reporter

Northern Nevada is the front-runner to land Tesla Motors’ $5 billion electric battery factory, though the California automaker is still talking to Texas, Arizona and New Mexico officials about incentive packages for the 1,000-acre site selection.

Multiple business and political sources in the Phoenix area say the Reno area in northern Nevada is the odds-on favorite to land the Tesla plant, which would encompass as much as 10 million square feet and employ 6,500 workers. Those officials asked not to be  identified.

One real estate executive said Tesla may already be talking to Nevada officials about permits, zoning and land-use aspects of the  gigafactory. The executive — who also asked not to be identified — said that is not happening in the other Southwestern states in contention.

One possible Nevada location for Tesla is the 5,000-acre Reno-Stead Airport. The airport has 3,000 acres available for development, a rail spur option and sits 15 miles north of Reno. It is the site of a former U.S. Air Force base.

Tesla needs plenty of land and railroad access for the plant, which will be powered by an adjacent solar and renewable energy field.

The Reno area has the advantage of being on the railroad to Tesla’s Fremont, California assembly plant, and it’s closer than other sites under consideration — including sites in the Phoenix and Tucson areas.

20000 Army Aviation Drive
Stead, NV

The March 11, 2014, RSAA Board of Directors’ meeting ended early so 35 RSAA members could hear a “what we do” briefing by Col. Dan Waters. Immediately following was a tour of the Nevada Army National Guard Facility, with an “up close and personal” look at the various helicopters used by the unit. The briefing and the tour were very impressive and President Hall thanked Col. Waters for his time and efforts.

The Nevada Army Aviation was greatly honored to host last month’s RSAA Meeting.


The Brigadier General Fred L. Michel Aviation Scholarship

The support of budding aviation enthusiasts is important to people who have themselves developed and expressed a love of aviation through participation and appreciation. One way we can support young people who share our passion for flight is through the support of aviation scholarship opportunities.

The “Brigadier General Fred L. Michel Aviation Scholarship” was established in the Fall of 2007 by the Stead Airport Users’  Association and the Reno Air Race Foundation’s Pathways to Aviation Program, to honor Brigadier General Fred L. Michel and to assist Nevada youth in the pursuit of aviation careers.

Fred-MichelDuring his 27 years of military service, Fred L. Michel was a Captain in the United States Air Force, flying the T-34 and the T-38,  before moving himself and his family to Reno, where he flew the RF-101 and RF-4C in the Nevada Air National Guard until his retirement as Brigadier General. He was, as well, a retired Captain from United and Pan American Airlines, completing a career which saw him through the early, unfettered “good old days” of airline travel. His passion for aviation extended well beyond his careers in the military and the airline industry. A 38 year resident of Reno, he served 28 of those years as a Director of the Reno Air Races. Fred served as the second President of the Stead Airport Users’ Association for many years.

The Brigadier General Fred L. Michel Aviation Scholarship Committee will make annual scholarships available to deserving students. The principal purposes of the Foundation will be to support and make grants to and for youths who desire to seek careers in aviation. The purposes of the scholarships and grants include:

1. To promote the training, equipping and vocational support of private, commercial and military pilots and flight instructors.

2. To promote the development and encouragement on the Aeronautics and Astronautics industry in the State of Nevada including  training, research, invention, development, testing, manufacturing and marketing.

3. To establish a library for aeronautics and astronautics, including history, achievements and literature.

4. To engage in research, consulting services and related activities that address the need of aviation, astronautics and related industries.

5. To cooperate with State and Federal Government agencies including military, either for or on all of the above purposes, including those being conducted through, or in connection with, the University of Nevada, Reno.

Scholarships to be awarded are valued at $1,000 to $1,500 per year for four years. Recipients are chosen by the Fund’s Selection  Committee consisting of representatives from the education and business communities in Washoe County, Carson City and Douglas County areas. At the end of each academic year, the students must provide a satisfactory UNR transcript before receiving an award for the subsequent year.

The scholarship fund has achieved much interest from its inception. Funds will be used to assist accomplished young students, male and female, annually to fulfill their dreams of higher academic and athletic achievement with a focus on aviation.

The money to initiate the Scholarship Program was contributed by the founding entities, together with private support from many others, combined with institutional and private contributions. A large donation was made by the family of Fred L. Michel in honor of their departed husband and father.

The Reno-Stead Airport Association (“RSAA”) would like to encourage individuals or organizations to consider donating a minimum of $1,000 for an aviation scholarship in 2014. Donations can be made in memory of a loved one, or in the name of the donating organization. RSAA will work with the Community Foundation of Western as the fundholder and administrator.

If you or your organization would like to discuss donating an aviation scholarship through the RSAA, please e-mail President Thomas J. Hall at or Treasurer Dave Miller, at All gifts are fully tax deductible as a charitable donation.



Join us and enjoy the classics; they don’t make movies like they used to!


Saturday May 24, 2014
Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965) or TBA

Saturday June 21, 2014
Hell’s Angels (1930) or TBA

Saturday July 19, 2014
Twelve O’Clock High (1949) or TBA

Saturday August 23, 2014
633 Squadron (1964) or TBA

Time for all nights is 5:00 to 7:30 p.m.

A donation of $ 7.00 per person is appreciated. Your donation will pay for pizza and popcorn. You may provide your own drinks!

Please RSVP at (775) 232-4881.

Movie location will be in the new Reno Stead Airport Terminal.



Investigation sheds little light in crash

The Record-Courier
March 23, 2014
By Kurt Hildebrand

A 1946 Cessna involved in a fatal plane crash showed no signs of mechanical deficiency or failure not related to the impact, according to a preliminary report issued March 17, 2014, by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The crash that killed Wellington resident Joseph James Miceli, 59, occurred sometime after he texted his girlfriend at 3:58 p.m. March 8. The wreckage of Miceli’s airplane was found at 3 p.m. March 9 about six miles southeast of Carson City.

According to the report, Miceli took off for Carson City from Farias Wheel Airport near Upper Colony Road in Smith Valley on March 8 to do some shopping.

His girlfriend told investigators she expected him to return later that day or the morning of the following day, since he sometimes  stayed in Carson City. She became concerned about him around the same time his aircraft was discovered by a passing pilot.

Investigators are having trouble pinning down what time Miceli left Carson City since two witnesses gave departure times that varied by three hours and there was no way to determine which was right.

There is no air traffic control tower at the Carson airport, and preliminary searches of FAA radio communications and radar records didn’t reveal any evidence of the flight.

Miceli held a flight instructor certificate for both single and multi-engine aircraft and a second-class FAA medical certificate. He had a total flight experience of 4,900 hours.



Botswana pilot training

Northern Nevada Business Weekly
March 31, 2014

Tactical Air Support Inc., a Reno company that provides training and consulting for military air organizations, has begun the second,  eight-week phase of training for pilots of the Botswana Air Force.

The training in the African nation includes tactical skills such as bomb and rocket weapons delivery, tactical formations, basic fighter maneuvering and fighter-squadron management techniques.



The Navy SEALS’ Best Friend

PenKnifeHow valuable is a Swiss army knife?

Well, the Navy SEALs, perhaps the military’s most elite fighting force, puts the knife at the top of its wish list for survival kits to be issued to its members.

A solicitation for survival kits released last week by the U.S. Special Operations Command lists a variety of tools needed for people  stuck in the wild trying to survive. This 31-item, “worst-case scenario” kit includes the iconic Swiss army knife, first developed in 1884; a rescue howler whistle, five survival matches, Fresnel magnifying lens and a Sun button compass.



Remembering Blanchfield

Reno Gazette-Journal
March 12, 2014
By Guy Clifton

Ninety years after his death in a fiery Reno plane crash, William Blanchfield is being remembered on two continents.

In County Cork in Ireland, a float in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade paid tribute to Blanchfield, an Irish native and decorated World War I Royal Air Force pilot.

And on March 16, in Reno, the Sons and Daughters of Erin — an Irish heritage group —continued the tradition of placing a shamrock sent from Ireland on Blanchfield’s grave in Mountain View Cemetery. The public was invited to attend the ceremony.

“We’re going to have a ceremony much like we did last year, with some brief discussions of the history and the placing of the  shamrock,” said Willie Puchert of the Sons and Daughters of Erin. “We decided to do it on Sunday the 16th because a lot of people will have to work on St. Patrick’s Day on Monday.”

The tradition of placing the shamrock at Blanchfield’s grave dates back to 1925, carried out at first by a grieving mother in Ireland and a conscientious undertaker in Reno.

After serving in the Great War, William Blanchfield immigrated to the U.S. and applied for citizenship. He landed a job with the  fledgling U.S. Air Mail service and was assigned to the Reno-Elko run.

To say Blanchfield was a local hero in 1924 might be an understatement. Reno’s children knew him as “Big Bill,” and followed him about town whenever he was on the ground. Blanchfield was famous for his friendly manner and fearless attitude.

He was as skilled a pilot as there was, which made his death all the more shocking.

On the afternoon on August 1, 1924, in Reno, a group of mourners was gathered at the Knights of Pythias Cemetery off Nevada Street for the funeral of Air Mail Service mechanic Samuel J. Garrans, who had died in an accident three days earlier.

Flying above the mourners, in his DeHaviland DH-4 biplane, was 29-year-old “Big Bill” Blanchfield. It was his idea to pay tribute to his fallen friend by circling the cemetery three times and then dropping a wreath on the grave.

He had circled the cemetery twice when something went terribly wrong. Blanchfield’s plane went into a flat spin, ripped through  telephone and electrical wires, and crashed into the side of the McKinley home at 901 Ralston Street. The force of the impact ruptured the gas tank on the plane, setting it and the house ablaze. Blanchfield died instantly.

His funeral was at St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral, and he was laid to rest at the veterans’ plot at Mountain View Cemetery, The Reno Air Mail Field, now the site of Washoe County golf Course, was renamed Blanchfield Air Field, or Blanchfield, in his honor.

Thje following spring, a package arrived in the mail of Reno undertaker Silas Ross. It was sprig of shamrock, sent by Blanchfield’s mother with a letter requesting that it be placed on her son’s grave on St. Patrick’s Day.

With the exception of one year during World War II, when Blanchfield’s mother died, the shamrock arrived each spring. Blanchfield’s sister in Ireland picked up the tradition after their mother’s death. Ross dutifully placed the shamrock at Blanchfield’s grave in Mountain View Cemetery until his own death in 1975. The tradition faded after that, but not entirely. In 1982, Barbara McKinley Rabenstine quietly rekindled the tradition and continued it for more than 20 years. Local historian Cindy Ainsworth joined Rabenstine in 1997.

Last year, the Sons and Daughters of Erin picked up the tradition and rekindled the public tribute. They worked with several people in Ireland, including Dinny Healy, a former Reno resident who retired in Ireland, in getting the shamrock shipped from Ireland for the ceremony.

“It’s a neat tradition and we’re going to keep it going,” Puchert said.



Paradise Airlines flight remembered 50 years later

The Record-Courier
March 5, 2014
by Griffin Rogers

On the morning of March 1, 1964, a few hours before 85 people were killed in Douglas County’s worst plane crash, the crew of Paradise Airlines Flight 901A was in Oakland, California preparing for their ill-fated flight.

March 1, 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the Paradise Airlines Flight 9Q1A crash into Genoa Peak.

“I remember looking out the window at the time . . .” said Bill Kingman, who lived in South Lake Tahoe in 1964 as a radio disc jockey, “and there was zero visibility. And I remember thinking no one can fly in this.

To certain descendants of the victims, Saturday was a time of reflection. To others, the date brings up memories of a tragic accident  that now only consists of debris still found at the crash site, about one mile south of Genoa Peak.

The plan on March 1, 1964, was for the aircraft to take off from Oakland and make two stops — one in Salinas, California, and one in San Jose, California — before arriving at Lake Tahoe Airport shortly before noon.

At 8:43 a.m., the plane departed Oakland. It had 81 passengers on board and a crew of four by the time it was headed toward Lake Tahoe.

At 10:57 a.m., it made radio communication with an outbound Paradise Airlines flight from the basin. The captain advised Plight 901A of “icing at 12,000 (feet)” and snow showers, according to the accident report.

At 11:27 a-m., the plane made contact with an Paradise Airlines passenger agent at Tahoe Valley Airport, which relayed the weather in the area: 2,000 feet overcast with three miles of visibility.

The last known transmission came through two minutes later, when the passenger agent heard a radio call, but he wasn’t able to establish a connection. With communications cut off, the aircraft wasn’t found until the next morning.

A captain from Stead Air Force Base spotted the plane wreckage at 7:36 a.m. March 2, 1964.

There were no survivors. Snow-covered bodies and parts of the airplane were strewn around the 8,800-foot ridge between the Lake Tahoe Basin and Carson Valley.

A headline in a 1964 Tahoe Daily Tribune newspaper called the crash site “gruesome,” and the accompanying article described the eyewitness reports of George Costa, who was the first to arrive at the scene with an unidentified companion.

“When he saw a hand sticking out of the snow he got sick and turned back,” Costa had told the Tribune.

The location of the crash was so remote that personnel assisting with it were flown to the site by helicopter or driven in by snow cats. The-El Dorado County Sheriff at the time, Ernie Carlson, estimated it would take two or three days before the bodies could all be brought out.

A partial list of the aircraft victims was listed in the Tribune, and an investigation began into the cause of the accident. It was eventually determined that the plane had crashed after clipping the top of a ridge.

One pilot involved in the search told the Tribune that if Flight 901A was 100 feet higher “he would have made it.”

Later, the Civil Aeronautics Board determined that the probable cause of the accident was the pilot’s deviation from prescribed flight procedures while attempting a visual landing in unfavorable weather.


Missing-ManIn Memorium

Major General Floyd L. Edsall

Major General Floyd L. Edsall (retired), beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend to many passed away peacefully on January 29, 2014, surrounded by family. Floyd was 92 years old.

Floyd was a graduate of Sparks High School, where he lettered in three sports – track, football and basketball. He was selected as an all-state end and punter. Floyd was also the State Champion in both the long jump and the high jump. Because of his athletic prowess, he was elected to the Sparks High School Hall of Fame in 2002. Floyd went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Physical Education from the University of Nevada, Reno, and a Master’s Degree of Education from UNR. His thesis was to set up a formula for realigning the school’s athletic programs based on a study he did. According to the amount of students in the schools, he designated each school as B, A, AA or AAA. This program was implemented into the school district and is still used throughout the state of Nevada today. While at UNR, Floyd was a four-year letterman in track and field, and played for two years on the football team.

While attending UNR, Floyd enlisted in the Army OCS, having participated in the ROTC program. He rose through the ranks in the military, where he had a distinguished career spanning 36 years. Floyd was commissioned an Army lieutenant, fought in Europe and was awarded the Silver Star and three Bronze Stars. Before his return in 1946, Floyd was promoted to Captain. He remained active in the Army reserve and the National Guard, while he continued his education at UNR.

In 1954, Floyd passed from the rank of Captain to Major, and he became Lieutenant Colonel in 1959. He became full Colonel in 1964, and he was appointed Adjutant General in 1967 for the State of Nevada. He was then promoted to the rank of Major General. He Served as President of the Adjutant Generals Association from 1972-1975. In 1974, under his direction, the Nevada Military  Department Headquarters Complex was built in Carson City. In 1978, Floyd was elected to the Executive Council of the National Guard Association of the United States. That same year, he was awarded the Legion of Merit by the 6th United States Army Commander for recognition in developing recruiting incentives which were subsequently adopted nationally. He retired as Adjutant General in 1980. During his tenure as the Adjutant General, the authorized strength of the states’ National Guard forces doubled. After his retirement, President Carter awarded the Distinguished Service to Floyd, in recognition of twelve years of service as the Adjutant General, Nevada National Guard. He is also a member of the Infantry Hall of Fame in Ft. Benning, Georgia. In addition, the Major General Floyd L. Edsall Nevada Army National Guard Training Center was built in Las Vegas in his honor.

Floyd married LaYerne Stout in 1943, and they were blessed with five children. He began his teaching career in 1947, where he coached football, basketball, wrestling and track. In 1949, the Edsalls moved to Elko where Floyd taught, coached and acted as the Director of Athletics for the next eight years. In 2007, Floyd was inducted into the Elko High School Hall of Fame. In addition to his many careers, Floyd found time to manage the Elko County Fair and participate as an active fundraiser for the March of Dimes. In 1957, Floyd took over as head coach at his alma mater, Sparks High School, transferring to UNR in 1959. He coached football and track for eight years at UNR. During this period, he was a health and physical education professor.

From 1980-1985, Floyd was the Executive Director of the Reno Air Racing Association, where he established the Checkered Flag Club. He was an avid golfer and an active fisherman, teaching his grandchildren and great-grandchildren this special art. Floyd was an honest and charitable man, who always saw the positive in everything and was always ready to share a great story and tell a good joke. Floyd enjoyed life every day of his 92 years.

Floyd was preceded in death by his daughter Trudie Arentz, son Leonard Edsall and grandson Alex Lebedoff.

He is survived by his loving wife of over 70 years, LaVerne, and adoring family – daughter Cheryl Tenk (Brick); Susan McCartin (Kevin) and Brenda Lebedoff, 11 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great-grandchildren.