By Paul Gable
Skydive Myrtle Beach and Horry County are scheduled to face off in S.C. Court of Appeals November 3, 2016 for oral arguments in the case of Skydive Myrtle Beach v. Horry County (2014-002491).
The basic question in this lawsuit is whether Horry County acted fraudulently in stopping Skydive Myrtle Beach from operating its business at Grand Strand Airport.
A separate court ruling from a federal Administrative Law Judge is expected to be issued on or before November 18, 2016 addressing the actions of the Federal Aviation Administration in issuing a 73 page ruling against Skydive Myrtle Beach on the basis of very sketchy information provided by Horry County Department of Airports.
The case built by Horry County Department of Airports to evict Skydive Myrtle Beach from Grand Strand Airport has more holes than Swiss cheese.
After Skydive Myrtle Beach reported HCDA to the Federal Aviation Administration in February 2014 for discriminatory actions, Horry County officials began looking to cover their tracks.
HCDA began an incident reporting system that logged 112 alleged safety violations by Skydive Myrtle Beach over the next few months.
None of the 112 alleged safety incidents HCDA insists Skydive Myrtle Beach committed were ever properly reported to the FAA, according to FAA reporting requirements.
A recent Freedom of Information Act response from the FAA to SkyDive Myrtle Beach officials goes further. It says there are no records of the alleged safety violations in the FAA reporting system.
See FOIA response here: image2016-07-07-081902
If Skydive Myrtle Beach was operating at Grand Strand Airport in such a grossly unsafe manner as HCDA claimed to local media when it evicted SkyDive Myrtle Beach from Grand Strand Airport, why are there no records supporting these allegations in the FAA system?
However, someone in the FAA apparently went along with Horry County’s plan to claim SkyDive Myrtle Beach was operating in an unsafe manner. In October 2015, the FAA issued a 73 page Director’s Determination report referring to these violations, even though none appeared in the FAA system.
HCDA used this report as its basis for evicting Skydive Myrtle Beach from Grand Strand Airport.
How did the FAA issue a 73 page report on these alleged safety incidents when none of the alleged incidents can be found in FAA records?
A county spokesperson was quoted in local media that the county was “saving lives” by evicting Skydive Myrtle Beach from Grand Strand Airport even though no injuries or loss of life was ever connected to SkyDive Myrtle Beach.
The FAA never actually shut down Skydive Myrtle Beach. Horry County did when it used what now appears to be a bogus Director’s Determination to evict the business from Grand Strand Airport.
It looks more and more like HCDA and the FAA conspired to remove Skydive Myrtle Beach from Grand Strand Airport without proper justification to do so.
Skydive Myrtle Beach is a FAA supported airport approved business type. However, it was not wanted in Horry County and it appears government agencies acted together to accommodate those wishes.
We should get a clearer picture of whether those actions were in violation of the law before this month is over.