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Businessman challenging city on parachuting rights

Excellent. Thank you for posting this AC

November 18, 2011 at 3:38 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Businessman challenging city on parachuting rights

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

November 18, 2011 at 3:27 p.m. ( | suggest removal )