By Paul Gable
SkyDive Myrtle Beach officials will address Horry County Council next week in an attempt to make members aware of the many inconsistencies in Horry County Department of Airports claims that were used as an excuse to close down that business at Grand Strand Airport.
The case for closure of SkyDive Myrtle Beach by Horry County is built around 112 alleged safety violations by the business, none of which are safety violations or violations of any other kind, according to FAA regulations.
Nevertheless, Horry County officials made what appear to be false claims to the FAA and the FAA, relying on the integrity of Horry County officials went along with the farce.
A preview of the address was sent to members of council and other Horry County officials by SkyDive Myrtle Beach last week.
Two statements at the beginning of the address tell the story:
“The County has attempted to style complaints in email only to the FAA, in order to have the FAA believe that something very dangerous is occurring at CRE.” (CRE is the FAA designation for Grand Strand Airport.)
“Not one FAA official has actually examined this process and the Director’s Decision was erroneously written, relying on the fact that the County was acting in good faith and being truthful, which they have never done in this case. You continually deny my due process with the Department of Airports, by denying my hearing before the Department, which is mandated in the County’s illegal Minimum Standards.”
In other words, the county is up to its old tricks of assuming ‘the law doesn’t apply in Horry County or, if it does, interpreting the law any way the county desires to justify its actions.’
The county depends on its deep pool of taxpayer dollars as a reserve to defend lawsuits brought by those same taxpayers attempting to seek justice.
In this case, not only local taxpayer dollars are being used by the county, but also federal taxpayer dollars included in FAA airport grants.
It is illegal, by FAA regulations, for airports receiving FAA grant money to exclude valid aviation approved activities, as defined by the FAA, from those airports. However, that is exactly what appears to be happening in this case.
Therefore, by building a false case against SkyDive Myrtle Beach and forcing its removal from Grand Strand Airport, the Horry County Department of Airports appears to be in violation of grant assurances it signed with the FAA.
Additionally, HCDA is in the process of attempting to obtain further grant money from the FAA for Grand Strand Airport. Until it decides to completely follow the law, HCDA should not get any future grant money and the FAA should deal severely with HCDA for the violations it has already committed.
Will that happen? Probably not.
The FAA has turned a blind eye on past infractions by HCDA of grant assurances. HCDA never charged AvCraft fair market value rent on the three hangars that AvCraft leased from HCDA and, sometimes, paid the rent on.
HCDA’s application for $45 million in FAA grant money for the failed West Side Terminal project included many untrue statements used to justify the grant.
And we dare not forget the claims made to the FAA by HCDA that ultimately obtained grant money for snowplows at Myrtle Beach International Airport when what the department of airports really wanted were maintenance trucks and a maintenance building, neither of which are allowable uses for FAA grant money.
I would encourage every citizen interested in good government and proper use of its tax dollars to watch the public input portion of next Tuesday’s Horry County Council meeting (available on local television channels and livestreamed on the internet.)
It could be an eye opening experience.