By Paul Gable
The deadline for the Federal Aviation Administration to provide Skydive Myrtle Beach with copies of the alleged 112 investigated safety complaints against the company passed yesterday with silence.
The FAA issued a 73 page report, allegedly based on the safety violation documentation from Horry County Department of Airports. Horry County officials used the FAA report to shut down operations of Skydive Myrtle Beach at the Grand Strand Airport.
Skydive Myrtle Beach initially sought to get the documentation on the alleged safety violation reports through an FOIA request to Horry County. The response from Horry County attorney Arrigo Carotti was that the only information the county had was the 73 page FAA report.
According to Horry County officials, none of the underlying documentation, upon which the report was allegedly based, was available from the county, the governmental agency that supposedly documented the 112 safety violations in the first place.
Beginning last August, Skydive Myrtle Beach sent an FOIA request to the FAA for all documentation related to the 112 safety violations and any other documentation used to generate the 73 page FAA report.
The FAA denied the first FOIA request in October 2015 stating the request was too broad. A second FOIA request was sent by Skydive Myrtle Beach to the FAA, which was accepted.
The following FOIA status report was sent by email from Duke Taylor of the FAA to Skydive Myrtle Beach owner Aaron Holly on January 21, 2016:
“On Jan 21, 2016, at 3:49 PM, [email protected] wrote:
“Mr. Holly by statute your response is due February 2, 2016.
“At this time our tracking system shows the status as Search and Review.
The FAA provided no explanation to Skydive Myrtle Beach why the deadline for production of FOIA materials passed without comment.
With the failure of the FAA to provide the information sought in the FOIA request by its own acknowledged “statute” time limit, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the information does not exist.
The question arises how was a 73 page report generated by the FAA if there is no underlying documentation on which to base the report?
Was there collusion between Horry County officials and FAA officials to generate a report of alleged safety violations on which Horry County could base its decision to shut down the operations of Skydive Myrtle Beach?
Skydive Myrtle Beach officials, accompanied by their attorney, are meeting with South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson tomorrow to provide information that will, hopefully, be used by state officials to investigate what real facts justify Horry County’s actions with respect to Skydive Myrtle Beach.
This issue could become much more interesting before it is concluded.