Archive for Friday, November 18, 2011

Businessman challenging city on parachuting rights

In this 2009 file photo of Lawrence Municipal Airport, several vintage and modern aircraft are on display. Local businessman William McCauley recently filed a complaint against the city with the Federal Aviation Administration, because he wants to run a business allowing parachutists to land at the airport.

In this 2009 file photo of Lawrence Municipal Airport, several vintage and modern aircraft are on display. Local businessman William McCauley recently filed a complaint against the city with the Federal Aviation Administration, because he wants to run a business allowing parachutists to land at the airport.

November 18, 2011


There’s a battle brewing above the skies of the Lawrence Municipal Airport.

Area businessman William McCauley has filed a complaint against the city with the Federal Aviation Administration regarding whether he can operate a business that would use the airport as a landing zone for parachutists.

“I’m legally entitled to jump through that airspace,” McCauley said.

City commissioners recently asked for an update on the issue, and were told the FAA was still reviewing the complaint. But city officials have insisted that they have the ability to limit McCauley’s use of the airport for parachuting purposes.

A pair of consultants hired by the city to conduct a master plan for the airport said the city has an obligation to accommodate legitimate aviation activities, but can set “reasonable rules and regulations” for the airport.

“Maybe it could be something like a once a month deal, but if it truly were to become a regular event it would be very challenging to occur out there,” said Mike Dmyterko, a principal with Coffman Associates Airport Consultants.

The city contends that the airport is small enough that any place a parachutist lands will be pretty close to a runway. That means that aircraft in the area will have to be notified not to use the airport during those specific time periods. Because the Lawrence airport operates without an air traffic control tower, that communication becomes more difficult, the city has said.

But McCauley said that reasoning is full of “smoke and mirrors.” He cites several FAA regulations that he believes gives him the right to use the airport, especially given that the city has accepted millions of dollars in federal aviation grants that come with the requirement that the city not discriminate against legitimate aviation uses at the airport.

McCauley said communication with aircraft in the area won’t be a problem because pilots are required to monitor the frequency from the Kansas City Air Traffic Control Center, which will provide at least four warnings to aircraft in the area prior to and during a parachute jump.

“There is no reason to deny this from a safety standpoint,” McCauley said.

Neither the city nor McCauley had an estimate on when the FAA may rule on the issue.


Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

"The city contends that the airport is small enough that any place a parachutist lands will be pretty close to a runway. That means that aircraft in the area will have to be notified not to use the airport during those specific time periods."

If an aircraft in flight nearby develops mechanical problems, the pilot declares an emergency and the Lawrence airport is the only place to land that is close enough, would all the parachutists that have already jumped would be notified by radio that they need to cut the cords and plummet to the ground in order to get out of the way?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

There's another issue. You didn't recognize a facetious comment when you saw one.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

There was an unfortunate event that did happen very near here. They weren't that far from the Lawrence airport when things went wrong. If things had been only slightly different, perhaps they could have made it to the Lawrence airport.

"4 killed in Jefferson County plane crash"

The only thing I ever argued for was that the parachute jumping company carry a substantial insurance policy, in case you hadn't noticed.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

There's another, only somewhat peripherally related issue. I have spent quite some time reading Warren Buffett's letters to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway.

BRK is the sole owner of Gen Re, which is one of the companies that carries policies that cover catastrophic events that are considered to be very, very unlikely, some of which have never happened at all, but they will certainly carry unbelievably high financial liability if they do occur.

When Warren Buffett discussed that issue, he noted that it is very difficult to determine exactly what the rate should be to issue an insurance policy for an event that has never happened before, but there is a slight possibility that it could.

One of the policies that Gen Re covered was to insure against an event that carried a substantial risk of bankrupting Coca Cola, Inc. The board of directors of Coca Cola, Inc. had a vested interest in keeping Coca Cola, Inc. in business, so they wanted to purchase a policy from Gen Re.

The risk of loss on that particular policy was almost nothing. But, the potential payout was so high that the board of directors of Gen Re didn't dare to even consider what the rate should be, because that potential payout could possibly wipe out Gen Re, and BRK, being the sole owner of Gen Re, would have to cover the difference.

There was a great deal of hand wringing among the board of directors of BRK after the decision was made to take on the policy, because if they did have to pay out on it, the profits for the whole year, and some of the net worth, of every company that BRK owned would have taken a hit.

Luckily for Gen Re and BRK, that very unlikely event did not occur.

In contrast, Geico, which is a very well known company that specializes in car insurance, is also owned solely by BRK.

Geico only deals with pocket change. The board of directors of Geico never consult with the board of directors of BRK.

That is the way I am looking at this situation, very businesslike. It's not nearly as simplistic as many of the posters here seem to think.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

There is an error in the above posting. It was not Coca Cola, it was Pepsi Cola that bought the insurance policy.

"Pepsi, unable to assume the risk of actually losing $1 Billion, had an insurance company owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, the largest stockholder in cola-rival Coca-Cola, underwrite the contest, reportedly for a seven-figure premium."

The exact premium paid for the insurance policy in case there actually was a winner was never divulged. But, there was no winner.

For further info on "The Pepsi Billion Dollar Sweepstakes":

bublite 6 years, 7 months ago

That is not quite how insurance works. Rarely if ever does a company take a risk of that magnitude without reinsuring the risk. Additionally, insurance regulations in place would prevent Gen Re from insuring anything that they don't most likely have the assets to cover within Gen Re. They could not count the assets of a holding company. Legal structures would limit anyone from going after BRK for Gen Re not affording the policy.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

Gen Re - General Reinsurance, and they have the full assets of Berkshire Hathaway behind them.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

I often use business abbreviations without realizing that not everyone is familiar with them. Sorry.

JustNoticed 6 years, 7 months ago

Don't be ridiculous. They would just pause and complete their descent after the plane had safely landed.

rogera 6 years, 7 months ago

the city counce needs to start sky diving. this would make them see things clearer. as a sky diver, and looked at the aireal map this airport is big enough to handle it and they just might be suprised how much business it will bring to town. and the possable expantion of maybe a new building at what it will do to the loce business.

KS 6 years, 7 months ago

Someone once said, "Who in their right mind wants to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?"

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

Years ago, I worked for an aviation flight testing company, and that was stated many times by many different people!

oldvet 6 years, 7 months ago

Only two things fall out of the air... bird poop and idiots...

woodman 6 years, 7 months ago

Good one oldvet. We've heard them all. Now go back to sleep.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

"“There is no reason to deny this from a safety standpoint,” McCauley said."

That may be true. But the City of Lawrence is financially responsible for the safe operation of the airport, and I doubt very much the taxpayers are willing to take the risk of having their taxes raised in case something goes wrong.

The tax payers of the City of Lawrence have already been hit with a $1 million settlement once that they had to pay for. That was in 1986, and at that time, $1 million was a great deal of money. Of course today, it's really not all that much.

The City's insurance company paid it, but after that, the City's liability policy was canceled because of it. And then at least for some time after that, the City had to self insure.

That means, if something had gone wrong, the City would have had to pay the damages out of the City budget, somehow. And, raising taxes would have been the easiest way to do it.

But, as Mr. McCauley states: “There is no reason to deny this from a safety standpoint." So, insurance to cover all the damages in case of any problems should be very, very inexpensive.

So, a requirement that any company offering parachute jumps from the Lawrence Municipal Airport carry a substantial insurance policy would be no financial burden at all for him, and should be required.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 7 months ago

Sorry, Ron, but McCauley stating that “There is no reason to deny this from a safety standpoint" does NOT automatically equate to "So, insurance to cover all the damages in case of any problems should be very, very inexpensive." After all, it "damages" generally include death. That usually doesn't equate to "very, very inexpensive"

More important, though?? Just a little bit of research came up with the following article:

Seems that the City of Lincoln, California wanted a private skydiving (parachute) business to provide $1 million in liability insurance to cover skydiving accidents at Lincoln's city-owned airport...and supposedly there hadn't been any such insurance available in the nation since the 1980s!! Rather, all parachutists must sign a liability waiver before each they can get private jump insurance (that doesn't cover medical expenses).

The parachuting company filed an appeal with the FAA demanding the right to use the airport for jump landings. They won... ...primarily because of the unattainable insurance issue.

As an aside, it turns out that such company skydiving insurance coverage may actually exist. So...if Lawrence is going to push against this business, then they had darned well better identify an insurance possibility first...assuming they even raise the issue of liability insurance.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

I don't understand. Since it's so safe, why can't insurance be purchased?

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 7 months ago

You'd have to ask the insurance companies...but I would assume it might be because almost all parachuting accidents are fatal?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

But, I am prejudiced because of an incident that happened a few years ago.

My brother was standing right beside his 3 year old daughter when a parachutist came smashing to the ground only three feet from her.

He was very clear on this point - if that parachutist had landed on his daughter, he would have killed him right on the spot.

And, it being a small town public event, there would have been no legal repercussions.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 7 months ago

No legal repercussions? For deliberately killing a parachutist? Because it was a small town public event? That's silly. I mean, come on. No arrest? No parachutist's family suing your brother for wrongful death? Yeah, right. Sure.

Your brother was upset and simply venting hot air. There was nothing "very clear" about it. Just fantasy talk. Frankly, had his daughter actually been landed on, I'll bet he'd have been far more likely to leap to her aid. At least I hope so, for her sake.

I'll also bet there's a wee bit of guilt involved in your brother's braggadocio because he probably felt he didn't protect his little girl sufficiently...even though nothing happened to her. After all, he was right next to his little girl, and "did nothing" to remove her from the rapidly-approaching parachutist.

Regardless, the fact remains that nothing at all happened. We're just talking about after-the-fact fantasy.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

My brother was mad as hell when he told me about it, and he considered it to be very irresponsible for the parachutist to land right in the middle of the crowd at the county fair.

But, he was known to "talk real big" on many occasions.

He never saw the parachutist coming down! I saw the same parachutist doing the same thing in the middle of a crowd another time, and I thought he was nuts! Only one gust of wind would have shifted him only a few feet from the open space he was headed for!

Granted, it was a showoff stunt by the parachutist, and I tend to think he was so certain of his skills that he'd be able to land right in the middle of a big crowd that there would be no problem.

My brother was really freaked out when he told me about it, so I don't know what he actually would have done.

But, this did all happen in a very small town where my brother was very popular, and the parachutist was, well, not so much.

And, guess who would have packed the jury.

The way it works in some small towns is, if you're popular, you're innocent.

Not that I'm justifying it, I'm just describing it.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

It's quite likely that so much of my concern about parachutists in general is because of that one extremely irresponsible parachutist that kept tearing right down right into the middle of a crowd for his landing, just to show off.

If I had not been so shocked by that behavior, I would perhaps feel differently.

Steve2 6 years, 7 months ago

This is fair so long as it is the same as for everyone using the airport. Does every aircraft out there have that policy?

Tony Holladay 6 years, 7 months ago

I'm siding with the city on this one. And I wouldn't think it would be a good idea to close the airport with a medical helicopter based there.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

I don't see why not. If there were to be a problem, that would an example of when the company that issued the $10 million liability policy held by the parachute jumping company would need to pay a claim.

Or, if the parachute jumping company didn't hold such an insurance policy, the taxpayers, by using the City of Lawrence's method of tax collection, would be the ones to pay for any damages that might arise because a medical helicopter was not available to get to the scene in time.

Don't forget, the City of Lawrence has already had to pay $1 million in damages to a family at least once already.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 7 months ago

Paying $1 million back 25 years ago doesn't equate to much of anything. It certainly doesn't equate to "Oh gee, darn. No big deal. The taxpayers will cover any losses, so let's not worry about it."

Do you seriously think that paying out a million dollars a quarter of a century ago has set some sort of precedent that says it's OK any time in the future because we got stuck doing it once??? Indeed, because it happened once before, I can see the City trying to avoid it happening again.

puddleglum 6 years, 7 months ago

why don't you just tell us the lore of yonder-yesterday, and spin us the tale of the million dollar boo-boo?

obx_mike 6 years, 7 months ago

The airport does not 'close' during skydiving operations. A typical freefall skydive lasts 60 seconds, followed by a 5 minute canopy ride to the ground. The skydiving pilot will not release jumpers if there are planes in the area, so you are basically concerned about the 5 minute canopy ride interfering with aircraft. It is true that the parachute has the right of way over helicopters and fixed wing aircraft because it is less maneuverable, but it must share the airspace and in no way is the airport 'closed down'.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

The airport here is supposed to accommodate business jets, which have an approach speed approximately twice that of propeller planes.

At those speeds, it might be very difficult to swerve to avoid a parachute, so I really don't think jets and parachutes are a very good mix.

It would be so much better to have the parachute jump plane take off and land here. Then, have a designated landing zone somewhere else, which would be very inexpensive to lease. Then, ground transport back to the airport could be provided.

If the operation were to be conducted in such a fashion, I think any opposition to it would dissolve.

No one has a problem with the parachute jump plane taking off and landing here. The only opposition is that many do not feel that parachutes landing at the same airport as business jets fly in and out of is a good idea.

A poster below pointed out that there is a parachute jumping operation at Osage City, Kansas. It would be interesting to know the exact number of business jets that take off and land there annually, if any. But, since the population of Osage City is only 2,770, it can't be very many.

William McCauley 6 years, 7 months ago

What part of this do you fail to understand?

(quote) A large number of airports that accommodate parachute operations also have different kinds of aviation activities taking place simultaneously, including flight training, glider and helicopter operations, helicopter emergency medical services, sightseeing operations, and aerobatic practice over or in the immediate vicinity of the airport. Many airports accommodate a large volume of transient traffic during skydiving operations.(quote)

Maybe you should research, Deland Florida's airport and compare operators on that airport.... let's see, twice as large as KLWC and 3 times the amount of air traffic, yes even jets and one of the largest skydiving places in the world along with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, one of the largest in the world, yet all those jets, skydivers and student pilots all seem to share the airspace just fine, if you like I can come up many more examples of much bigger and busy airports and airspace in the country then sleepy little KLWC. Again Ron, get a clue!

Another interesting point here: I pitched my proposal in 2009, yet according to the city and many of the good old boys club the airport is too busy for me to use it, yet according to this Lawrence Journal World story

Starting in 2008 the traffic has dropped off considerably at the airport, so sounds like you and your airport buddies want your tax payer cake and eat it too.... Gee Ron how about you stop with the party line of lies and misinformation and get a real education on the subject, many try getting your pilots license or at least reading the FAR's.

Just because you can repeat it over & over with out facts to back up your claims don't make it factual or the truth!

roadwarrior 6 years, 7 months ago

wow, cant imagine what the problem might be, you sound like such a 'get along with everybody' kinda guy. Here's an idea, if they are such jerks why not find someplace else to jump ?

William McCauley 6 years, 7 months ago

I will, when the City of Lawrence pays back the 11,5 million with interest of public AIP funding and with draws it's pending request for an additional 13.5 million in AIP funds & then makes KLWC a private & restricted airport and not open to the public for use of all types, kind, and classes of aeronautical activities.

I get along just fine with those airmen who can follow the rules.

RoeDapple 6 years, 7 months ago

Odds of getting hit by lightning or winning the lottery are higher. Let him jump.

Evan Ridenour 6 years, 7 months ago

I don't think that just because the city accepted federal grants means that he can open a business that has a model that dictates that the entire airport be shutdown so idiots can parachute out of a plane. This sounds absurd.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 7 months ago

Actually, according to the FAA, it does mean the business has more rights that we might think. (Check the links I posted above about Lincoln, California and a similar situation.)

ljwhirled 6 years, 7 months ago

The City seems to have no problem subsidizing the airport for aircraft use.

Talk about inequity and subsidizing the 1%. The City spends millions of dollars so that 30 or so guys who are so rich that they own their own airplanes can have a place to land.

Some guys out there own whole hangers with several airplanes in them. For the most part these are rich guy's toys and serve no business purpose.

Their are only a couple of businesses out there, Hetrick Aviation and a couple small engineering firms. They don't employee many people.

If he wants to build a business and is within FAA regs help him do it.

Unless, of course, the City wants to set the rules for all aircraft operations out at the site.

There is a reason the FAA is federal. It sets rules nation wide so we have consistent, and safe, regulation for the industry.

This is another case of city staff sticking their risk adverse lawyer noses into the gears of a new business and making it hard to get the business started.

William McCauley 6 years, 7 months ago

You are correct and they have been doing for 3 yrs. And my buddy Ron is clueless as to the insurance requirements, along with a number of other things....

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

Can't deny this - I am very well informed on the loss history of the City of Lawrence.

It was $1 Million in 1986.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

I think that if you were to read Warren Buffett's writings on the subject of insurance, among other things, as I have, you would become aware that I'm not nearly as uninformed on many subjects as you seem to think.

You remind me of someone I know that insisted that a Ponzi scheme was a good investment, and another person who insisted that real estate values in California could never go down.

headdoctor 6 years, 7 months ago

I have a better idea. If William McCauley wants to start a business let him buy or lease land for a jump site that isn't right in the air space pattern of the airport. He is just trying to save overhead when a private strip or maybe even a smaller airport like Vinland would be a better choice although not for low travel overhead or emergency medical assistance even though there could still be plane/jumper conflicts.

obx_mike 6 years, 7 months ago

That is discriminatory. You can't accept federal funding for an airport, then deny access to an approved aeronautic activity. That would be like telling a regional airline it can't use the public airport and it needs to create it's own private airstrip. You can put reasonable restrictions on the activity, like not landing a parachute on a runway (nobody wants to), or don't fly a parachute canopy over an active runway if you are less than 1000' above ground level. You cannot say it isn't allowed because of a one in a billion chance a skydiver would crash into a medical helicopter while the rotors are spinning up so it could fly to save nuns in a schoolbus crash.

William McCauley 6 years, 7 months ago

advisory circular 105-2d sport parachuting

  1. BACKGROUND. a. FAA-Recognized Aeronautical Activity. Sport parachuting (skydiving) continues to increase in popularity and is an FAA-recognized aeronautical activity even though parachutists are not certificated airmen. As an FAA-recognized aeronautical activity, regulations require airports that have received FAA funding to accommodate this activity unless the FAA determines that compatibility issues prohibit parachuting operations at a particular airport. See the current edition of FAA Order 5190.6, FAA Airport Compliance Manual, appendix C, paragraph 4, and appendix C, section 1, subparagraph 1.3.d

  2. SKYDIVER SAFETY. a. BSRs. The USPA developed basic safety standards and information for skydiving activities called BSRs. These standards and information are for training, checking equipment, and conducting a wide variety of sport parachuting activities. While not approved by the FAA, the BSRs are considered industry best practices and are widely accepted for use by individuals and parachute centers. The BSRs may be obtained from The United States Parachute Association, 5401 Southpoint Centre Boulevard, Fredericksburg, Virginia 22407. The phone number is 540-604-9740 and the USPA Web site is The FAA encourages skydivers to use facilities that conduct their operations in accordance with the USPA BSRs or other similar skydiving association best practices.

f. Parachute Landing Areas. The FAA recommends that areas used as parachute landing areas remain unobstructed, with sufficient minimum radial distances to the nearest hazard. The USPA has defined such distances and hazards in their BSRs.

William McCauley 6 years, 7 months ago

AC 105-2d Sport parachuting:

  1. PARACHUTE OPERATIONS ONTO AIRPORTS. a. Stipulations for Landing at or Flying over an Airport. Most parachute operations take place on airports, including having the parachute landing area located on the airport property. Section 105.23 requires approval from airport management prior to skydiving onto any airport. However, § 105.23(c) allows a parachutist to drift over an airport with an open parachute without airport management approval as long as the parachutist remains at least 2,000 feet above that airport’s traffic pattern. (Airport traffic patterns are generally 1,000–1,500 feet above ground level (AGL).) b. Additional Aviation Activities. A large number of airports that accommodate parachute operations also have different kinds of aviation activities taking place simultaneously, including flight training, glider and helicopter operations, helicopter emergency medical services, sightseeing operations, and aerobatic practice over or in the immediate vicinity of the airport. Many airports accommodate a large volume of transient traffic during skydiving operations.

c. Shared-Facility Airports. The FAA recommends that shared-facility airports have operating procedures so that each activity can operate safely by knowing the procedures for each of the other activities. Representatives of each type of activity can operate more effectively by knowing the procedures for each of the other activities. Representatives of each type of airport user group should develop procedures specific to their activity and share these procedures with other user groups. It is the airport management’s responsibility to ensure that airport policies and procedures are kept current. This can be accomplished via regularly scheduled meetings with all airport user groups.

(1) Traffic Patterns. With a minimum parachute opening altitude of 2,000 feet above the ground (and most parachutists open much higher), parachutes are nearly always open 800 feet or more above the traffic pattern altitude for any airport. Descending slowly and easy to visually acquire, parachutists and pilots have a shared responsibility to see and avoid each other. Often,procedures can be implemented that reduce the potential for parachutists and pilots in a traffic pattern to be in proximity.

William McCauley 6 years, 7 months ago

Advisory Circular 105-2D sport parachuting:

(2) Parachute Landings on Airports. Airports may designate suitable parachute landing areas. While skydivers attempt to land in such areas, at times there may be inadvertent landings in other grass or hard-surfaced areas. This could include landings on runways, taxiways, and other hard-surfaced areas. Areas such as runways, taxiways, clearways, and obstacle-free zones are not prohibited areas but should not be designated as a primary landing area and should be vacated as soon as practical. Flying a parachute over runways at low altitudes should be avoided where possible. The FAA recommends that airport management work with parachute operators to develop standard operating procedures (SOP) for activities conducted by parachutists.

NovaTTT 6 years, 7 months ago

Excellent. Thank you for posting this AC

Hadley_says 6 years, 7 months ago

I would respectfully suggest that Ron Holzwarth has demonstrated in a single thread how little he knows about the topics of aviation, FAA regulations and airport funding, and most of

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

That reminds me of a comment made about one of my postings on Facebook by someone that had a reading comprehension problem.

And, do you really think that I know nothing about aviation subjects after working in the avionics and aircraft flight test field for years?

We didn't flight test pokey-dunk airplanes with propellers. We flight tested business jets, starting with Lear Jets.

William McCauley 6 years, 7 months ago

Ron are you a licensed FAA pilot or hold any qualifications that are recognize by the FAA as an expert in the field of the topic we are talking about?

No? I hold a number of them and deal with the FAA regularly and I'm pretty well versed in the subject matter at hand, unlike you and the sitting members of the Lawrence Aviation Advisory Board.

Just because you once worked on an airport means you know enough to be dangerous in your misunderstanding of aviation laws and little of the facts and your continued rants only prove the point. The fact that you were under the impression that skydivers were to land off an airport and get a ride back, show how very little you in fact do know.

Have you taken the time to read FAR 105-2D sport parachuting? Hell I made it easy for you to do so by posting a great deal of the info and by providing a link.... this FAA advice on how to comply with the federal aviation laws of the land, to not only pilots and skydivers, but to airport sponsors.

An airport sponsor is what they call a city, county or anyone who offers up to the tax payers of the USA their airport in exchange for millions of dollars in AIP funding contracts and be a part of the national airways system, that means (once again) it's: of the people, by the people, for the people, .... that means if you want to open and FAA approved aviation business your welcome to do so, public funded means public, that is all the people, not just your golf buddies and good old boy club @ KLWC.

Again, the City of Lawrence is free to do as they please and refuse to allow me or any other operator the right to operate there, the FAA has the right to not only seek repayment of the 11.5 million dollars it has awarded to the City of Lawrence Ks. it also has the right to deny any additional funding requests, such as the reason the city has drafted the new master plan and has spend a great deal of tax payer money to do so, hoping to get that money back from the FAA on the 95-5% split. Guess who get's stuck with that bill if the FAA decides the City is in violation of the earlier grant funding contract for the 11.5 million in funding..... That is right, the City and the tax payers of Lawrence.

Go ahead and make it a private airport and repay the USA the money with interest and get your money grubbing hands out of the pork barrel if you don't want to play by the rules that were agreed too by contract.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

My brother was standing right beside his 3 year old daughter when a parachutist came smashing to the ground only three feet from her.

William McCauley 6 years, 7 months ago

And that has anything to do with you having a clue, how?

Steve2 6 years, 7 months ago

And I saw a guy named Ron pick his nose and eat it...

Nice straw man there Ron.

parrothead8 6 years, 7 months ago

Not that I have a vested interest in this...but Kansas is one of the flattest, most wide-open states in the country. Is there no field close to the airport where parachutists could land that would ensure they weren't "near" a runway? That being said, I know most skydiving operations are at small airports. Given that it affects such a small percentage of the population, and that nobody's life or civil rights are at stake, I think this is a good example of an issue that needs to remain at "molehill" status.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

I was under the impression that most parachute landings took place in wide open spaces, such as you suggest, and that a ground vehicle then transported the parachutists back to the airport for another jump.

I would see no problem at all with an operation that was conducted in that fashion.

I know for a fact that is the way hot air ballooning is done.

gatekeeper 6 years, 7 months ago

I have jumped multiple times from multiple airports in different states & have always landed back at the airport. You don't know what you're talking about. Heck, my first jump was by NASA in FL and there were no concerns.

ksarmychick 6 years, 7 months ago

When I have skydived I have also always landed back at the airport between the runways.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

It's maybe a good thing you didn't do that when I was taking flying lessons!

tuffyjensen 6 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Steve2 6 years, 7 months ago

No, it is not. You clearly are willing to say whatever you want to try and make your point.. true or not.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

"Section 105.23 requires approval from airport management prior to skydiving onto any airport."

I wonder how difficult it would be to get approval.

William McCauley 6 years, 7 months ago

See PAGE 19, Ron... also see NOTE ONE! At normal, business friendly community it is real easy to get permission, Ron. Most communities airport board members don't choose to lie and misrepresent the facts and aviation laws to the city staff and commissioners, nor do they try to tell the FAA that the FAA dose not know what they are talking about and try to tell the FAA the safety study they did is incorrect and not factual.


Location of Jump: Over or onto any airport

Kind of Authorization Required: Prior approval (see Note 1)

When to Apply or Notify : Applicant’s choice Airport management

Where to Apply or Notify: Airport management

14 CFR Section Reference: § 105.23b

Note 1: Verbal authorization normally issued.

On another note Ron, how many times have you seen Jets come buzzing the airport to the point of having to veer off course to avoid anything? Parachutes don't land at the end of the runways, jets don't land in the middle of the airport, they set an approach miles out and touch down at the end of the runway.... but then again you know all that with your years of experience as an aviation expert. Your so well versed in all this maybe you go get a job working for the FAA......

Michael Capra 6 years, 7 months ago

osage city ks has a parachute biz at there airport what is the differance

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

It is a much, much smaller airport that serves a city that has a population of 2,770.

That's a pretty big difference.

An airport such as the one in Osage City would be a much safer and much more appropriate location for parachuting.

William McCauley 6 years, 7 months ago

Yes and the same life flight operator is right next door to them and they seem to get along just fine under the FAA VFR flight rules and by radio use.

Michael Capra 6 years, 7 months ago

this guy that wants to put this in is a moron and has pissed everyone off involved he wont get any where with this send him down the road

masterrig 6 years, 7 months ago

The Big W makes a very good point. Airport officials and the skydiving community should get their heads together and work-out a plan that will work for all concerned. Skydivers are a very safety minded group of people who greatly enjoy what they do. They are also, aware of FAA regulations and what will maintain a safe atmosphere. Skydivers also support local businesses ie restaurants, hotels/motels and etc. Big events held by a skydiving group brings more business. This whole matter should be approached by both sides with open minds and put aside the 'fears' that have been brought about over time about skydiving. I'm certain, both parties involved can come to a reasonable agreement in regard to this matter.


chzypoof1 6 years, 7 months ago

I love all the armchair decision makers here, that have NO idea what they are talking about. The bottom line is if the airport received federal funding, they are supposed to allow parachuting. And it's not going to interfere with life flights. Find me an article where it has.

You people are so sad sometimes. Quick to judge things you don't understand, on the basis that "something could happen".



Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

That's strange. I've never seen any parachutes at KCI, aka MCI.

And I'm sure it receives federal funding.

William McCauley 6 years, 7 months ago

Try looking up class E airspace Ron, where skydiving take place, we could do a jump into KCI under the right conditions and FAA approval. Try looking up Noah's ark airport, less then ten miles from KCI and they jump there, in fact as parachute are coming down you can watch the commercial jets less then 3/4 a mile away. Again your talking out your backside with zero proof to back your silly claims.

masterrig 6 years, 7 months ago

Of course not! That airport is way too busy for skydiving activities. Smaller airports are more appropriate in that, there are fewer aircraft. I've seen where other airports have been met with the attitude expressed here by some folks and skydiving activities have continued with little or no consequence. Opinions formed from rumor and inuendo are of no good. People need to open their minds and educate themselves on the subject before forming their ideas. Too many people have the opinion that all skydivers are 'crazy', 'insane' or worse. Skydivers come from all walks of life and are educated people. I've known doctors, lawyers, business professionals, ranchers and farmers and so-on, who skydive. Skydiving is no more dangerous than snow boarding, water skiing, football or baseball. Skydiving is a highly organized activity. Maybe, if the folks who want to open a skydiving operation at the airport were just given an opportunity to do it, those nay sayers would see that it's really not all that bad. They should be given the chance.


Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

This is interesting, clipped from:

Yesterday I saw the stupidest thing so far in the short time that I've been flying. I rent out of a VERY busy uncontrolled field. On most weekends there are a couple of students in the pattern, banners towers flying around willy nilly, business jets on long finals, helicopters doing their against the flow of traffic thing, jump pilots entering the downwind from 3000msl and of course the skydivers themselves landing in a field just west of the runway. Exciting times.

So I call the FBO around 2:30 in the afternoon to see if there are any planes for rent because it is the most beautiful day, after a couple of weeks of low ceilings, thunderstorms, mist, rain and blaaa weather. Back side of a cold front with high pressure building across the entire area. Sweet. I can get a Warrior at 6pm.

GREAT! Off I go, flying into the setting sun, with flight following, nice greaser at a near by class D and then back to home at 2300msl. Smooth air, great visibility, air traffic controllers in a good mood, first quarter moon rising over the ocean.


Field in sight. Thanks for the flight following and have a great night. AWOS 15004. Jump plane #1 pilot calls 3 minutes to jumpers away. Perfect. Should be entering on the 45 to downwind just as they jump. Then I hear it. "Busyfield traffic. Twin Piper 10 miles out. Over flying the field at 2000. West to East." Say What? Maybe my radio is picking up a distant airport's unicom.

"Jumpers away". I enter the downwind behind jump plane #2 diving into the pattern from 3000msl (TPA is 1000msl). Then again it comes. "Busyfield traffic. Twin Piper five miles out. Over flying the field at 2000".

Jump plane #2 lands just as I'm turning base. C152 departs. I turn final and again the call. "Busyfield traffic. Twin Piper over flying the field at 2000. Trying to avoid the parachutes". Sure enough, as I'm on final here come two chutes with the Piper flying right by them. I don't know. Maybe it's just me. But directly over flying an active jump zone a 2000 feet just seems dumb.

Oh well. It was a beatuful day to fly--

  • Skipping lots!

The day I did my two jumps (1991), when I got on the ground after the second one, all high on adrenaline and excitement, people ran up to me and said "Did you see 'em? Did you see the airplanes?!"


Apparently, a formation of experimental planes flew right into the drop zone and passed so close that they broke formation to avoid me. I distinctly remembered the jump pilot reporting he was going to drop. Don't know if he called jumpers away 'cause I was dangling off the strut by then, but...yeesh... At the time, I was simply bummed that I didn't get to see the planes in formation from 4,000 feet. Now that I know better, I'd kinda like to kick one of 'em in the a.s for it.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 7 months ago

Sorry, but I'm not sure what value two forum posts from 2004...7 years ago...with one simply describing an incident from 1991...20 years ago...bring to the conversation.

FlintlockRifle 6 years, 7 months ago

The only place that had skydiving was down in Garnett I do believe about 18 years ago, they shut down and moved to someplace in western Kansas me thinks, price then was $100.00 for a mile high dive, fun , fun. Somebody told me they were diving down neat Gardner, don't know if that is true or not.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

I've been told it's the thrill of a lifetime!

But if there were airplanes flying around me, I wouldn't consider doing it.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

"Neither the city nor McCauley had an estimate on when the FAA may rule on the issue."

I tend to think it's going to take so long that Mr. McCauley is going to make the decision to open his business elsewhere, where the city is more accommodating.

skyjumpenfool 6 years, 7 months ago

I started Skydiving over 35 years ago. I've flown out of and jumped over airports all around the world. Some busy controlled airports, and some small private ones. In all my years in aviation, (yes, skydiving is a federally recognized form of aviation) I've always been amazed at how various disciplines of aviation are able to successfully share airspace. It can be done! In fact, it is being done all over the world. If you're fighting this business from happening, I'd be questioning your reasons for doing so??

All of us in aviation are fascinated by the thrill and allure of flight. Whether you're a helicopter pilot, experimental aircraft pilot, light aircraft pilot, balloon pilot, or canopy pilot, we all love to fly. And, we all have the right under federal law to use federally funded airports. What's most important here is to understand that this can happen safely! We can all use the same airspace and we can all learn to get along. In fact, each aviation business at any given airport is strengthened by the other. If you sell gas, this new business will buy your gas. If you train pilots, they will walk over and take your lessons. If you rent hanger space, they will rent your space. It's a WIN - WIN situation for everyone if you're willing to work together.
Mike Livieri C-15131

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

I've been told that there are two big advantages of being in the air instead of on the ground:

1) The licensing requirements are MUCH stricter.

2) There are no stop signs or red lights for the idiots to run.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

The real truth is this: Except from reading, which I have done a lot of, and yes, I am aware that only about one out of perhaps 80,000 jumps results in an injury, is because of the irresponsible actions of one single individual. That's why I'm so prejudiced!

In addition to the time my brother told me about, when he missed landing on my 3 year old niece by about three feet, once he came right down out of the sky with no warning into the crowd, and landed only about twelve feet in front of me. I couldn't believe he had done that!

As I understood it, he was doing it in order to "promote" his flying and parachuting business.

I certainly hope that if we ever do have a parachuting business here in town, that everyone involved shows a great deal more responsibility for their actions than he did.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

I am very sure that the middle of the crowd at the county fair is never a designated "Drop Zone"!

DillonBarnes 6 years, 7 months ago

I do now have an urge to push someone out of a plane.

NovaTTT 6 years, 7 months ago

I am a business owner, a father of seven and an active member of my church and community.

My brother began flying in 1980. I began skydiving in 1985. I don't like flying and he doesn't like skydiving, but we don't hold that against each other. But one thing we agree on after these many years of enjoying our respective past-times is that airplanes and skydiving can peacefully co-exist on the same airfield. We also agree and recognize that skydiving is as equally valid and FAA approved/sanctioned aviation activity as are private piloting, commercial piloting, soaring, helicoptering, ballooning, etc.

I have jumped at dropzones and airports all over the east, including several in and around metro Atlanta, home of one of the busiest airports in the world.

I have jumped at small grass-strip airports as well as large 'corporate' airports, some very busy, some very quiet. Some of the busier airports I've frequented are in Rome, GA, Covington, GA, Monroe, GA, Dallas, GA, Carrollton, GA, Zephyrhills, FL, Deland, FL, Lake Wales, FL, Palatka, FL, and Titusville, FL, which is less than 20 miles from the Kennedy Space Center and used to drop skydivers DURING space shuttle launches!

I cannot say that in my 26 years there have not been aircraft v skydiver incidents, but I can say that those very rare incidents were faulted to the pilot and not the skydiver. I can also say that those very rare incidents were completely avoidable.

It is my further experience that skydivers, given the self-regulation and inherent risk management of the sport, are deeply concerned about all aspects of safety, including and especially regarding aircraft, aircraft maintenance, proximity and flight patterns. I have personally witnessed over the past 26 years dozens of drop zone owner/operators exhibiting the same care and diligence for their operations as I have seen in other businesses.

But all of this notwithstanding, I am astounded at the risk the airport management takes (on the backs of the local citizenry) in disallowing an FAA recognized and approved aviation activity at a federally funded airport. I hope the local citizens speak to their local government representatives and the airport management/board to speak out against this apparent illegal discriminatory practice.

Skydiving is a federally recognized aviation activity and is entitled to the same rights and access as any other approved aviation activity. I hope the citizens of Lawrence and Douglas county speak out in defense of Mr. McCauley and his business: the hubris of government is blind and it is up to We the People to check our government when it exceeds the authority we give it.

Timothy B. Forster, Albany, NY Member USPA, FAA certificated senior parachute rigger

Shaunsmith_99 6 years, 7 months ago

Very well said, TTT. It amazes me that the city would take this fight, on the backs of the local citizens, to fight the FAA on denying an activity the right to use the airport which the city didn't even pay for...

William McCauley 6 years, 7 months ago

In all fairness ,yes the city paid for it and got it from KU back in the 70's I believe. However in the 90's they took 11.5 million in AIP funding to fix the place up and make the runways longer and build the public terminal building and the big hanger they call the "community hanger" and a number of other improvements. Generally the grants are a 95 to 5% match, the fed's pay 95% and locals pay 5%. That means citizens tax payers in other states are 95% in ownership, while local taxpayer citizens are 100% owners. This what gives the right to those rich people to fly their business jets up here from Texas to watch KU get beat the, right to do that. Just the same as a local person can fly to Osage KS and talk to a dzo over there and see the same life flight operators other helicopter parked right next door. That is how the national airspace system works, we all are afforded the rights to use and enjoy it, as long as every one follows the rules the FAA sets for each type, kind and class of aeronautical activity. ;-)

The new an improved airport master plan that was just presented to the city commission, was done as a requirement to apply / ask the FAA for millions more in AIP funding for more "fixer upper" projects. But there is so much traffic there it is dangerous to allow parachutist to be there and land parachutes

Here is how busy it is according to the local experts:

jrpraeter 6 years, 7 months ago

I am a third generation aviation business person and am intimately familiar with the airport compliance handbook that is applicable to ALL federally funded airports and for this type of airport all recognized aeronautical activities are protected and MUST be granted access to an airport that accepts federal funding save an FAA decision that shows that the activity greatly impedes or causes unsafe conditions for other types of aviation activities. The airport authority and management may restrict certain aspects of a business (ie; leasing existing buildings, etc.) but certainly cannot deny access without a proven study conducted by the FAA that clearly shows that a certain type of protected activity causes any of the above problems.

I concur with NovaTTT in the hopes that Mr. McCauley might have the community behind him in supporting something that is simply, the law. If rights can be arbitrarily denied for Mr. McCauley, they most certainly can for anyone.

rogera 6 years, 7 months ago

well i have only read about half the comments posted. but as a sky diver it would breat to see a DZ open there i know i would come visit. just think of how it will help local business as well. but we have waited to jump due to other air traffic but we also know to look around and watch out for other traffic. so personally oonce again the city councel is out of line. oh yes i lived there for a few years.

Katara 6 years, 7 months ago

I think this would be an excellent way for the city to attracts those retirees!

William McCauley 6 years, 7 months ago

Hey Ron,

Here is yet another question for you to duck & dodge....

(quote)I know for a fact that is the way hot air ballooning is done. (quote)

Dose a hot air balloon have the right to land on an airport? If so where in the airport property can he do so?

kugrad 6 years, 7 months ago

When the city accepts tax dollars to finance the airport, they essentially agree to allow legitimate flight-related businesses. They don't have the right to refuse an allowable business to operate just because they don't like that type of business. Mr. McCauley has a safety study showing that the airport safety would not be adversely affected. The airport has long been a good-old-boys club of insiders; I suspect that is much of the reason he has been stonewalled in his many attempts to bring his right to operate a skydiving business to the attention of city officials. If he was financed by some well-known Lawrence investor, they would be giving him a tax incentive to locate at the airport. Skydiving isn't some kind of crazy fringe activity. President George H. Bush has skydived. There is a long-standing parachute club at K-State operated safely by students for years. If you want to skydive, planes have to take off and land from somewhere. A small community airport is just the kind of place well-suited for this activity. The city is on the wrong side of this and I don't buy safety concerns as the main reason they have been blocking the progress of this business application. Sounds to me like someone at the airport has an easy job and doesn't want to make it any more challenging.

Shaunsmith_99 6 years, 7 months ago

Again, I do not know of a single Dropzone operating in the US that offers this imaginary "$10,000,000" liability insurance. So, what this Ron character is proposing, is an insurane policy that would more or less drive a skydiving company bankrupt. It goes back to the basic principle that you cannot leverage a requirement against one user of the airport and not the other. What other businesses at the Airport carry this insurance?

Skydiving is like flying. You leave the ground, and incur risks. To require one operation to have an absurd policy and not the other is discrimination. When you rent an aircraft, is your family given $1,000,000 automatically if you crash it, regardless of fault? Really? What's the point of a release of liability if folks think that a parachute fatality results in an instant payout?

If the city of Lawrence wants to deny McCauley the right to use that airport, then they should never have accepted the Millions in Federal funding. You accept that money, and you agree to allow citizens to use the air port for general aviation activies. The FAA does not discern between Skydiving, flying your family 172, or flying a hot air balloon. They all fall under general aviation. and are entitled to the use of public airports. This has been proved time and time again in court, when airports have tried to deny right-of-use to other parachute schools. They city takes X-Million dollars, they agree to open the airport up to airmen to use. If Lawrence takes this to court, they will lose, just as countless other airports have lost that think they can take Federal Money and deny citizens the use of the facites.

diver 6 years, 7 months ago

Well I have seen about some of the most stupidest comments by people who don't have a clue as to what they are talking about that I think I have ever seen in comments on a news story.

Your precious Life Flight copter will be just fine with skydivers around. Skydive Alabama in Cullman shares the airport with a Life Flight copter. I know of an airport in Georgia that serves 2 skydiving companies and they are close enough to Atlanta that you would think traffic could be an issue but it's not.

Personally if it was me. I'd go someplace else to open a dropzone and forget Lawrence. And why ya'll are at it, since you want to run the airport your way and not under the guidelines set forth by the FAA how about you give back the tax dollars you have taken from the Feds? I didn't think so.

Bet most people don't know but the amount of money an airport gets from the Feds is partly based on the number of takeoffs and landings an airport has. So just having a dropzone there will increase federal funding to the airport.

Then there's the money skydivers spend on going out, eating, hotels, gas, etc... And the fuel sales at the airport will go up as well. But since the economy is so great in Lawrence I guess you don't need any extra cash being spent in your town.

William McCauley 6 years, 7 months ago

If you think these public posts are really stupid, you should watch this video of the commission meeting and listen to their over paid airport consultant say some really "great advice" to the commissioners.

You'll have to let it load and then go to the very last, it's the first topic after the 5 min break.

In a nut shell, their advice was to change the minimum standards to ban or limit all jumping but for only one day a month... It's amazing to hear such poor advice come out of an airport consultant. You know this is such a busy jet hub, there are no windows of of time to allow jumpers in a 24 hr day.

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