By Paul Gable
Horry County’s ongoing litigation with Skydive Myrtle Beach isn’t as clear cut as county staffers would have you believe.
In fact, the matter is so conflicted that Aero News Network, an online aviation industry publication, did a rather extensive investigation of the ‘so-called’ facts of the case.
Their conclusion: “The matter is convoluted, contains a number of questionable statements (including charges of hazards and safety issues by county officials that appear to be highly suspect and based on less than expert knowledge of skydiving operations/hazards)…”
ANN editor in chief Jim Campbell, a veteran skydiver with USPA jumpmaster and instructor ratings, conducted a series of telephone interviews with Skydive Myrtle Beach staff and customers as well as Horry County officials.
Campbell’s conclusions from those interviews: “So far; no major safety issues have been corroborated and a number of respondents with significant skydiving credentials report few credible safety issues of any note — and nothing of significant import. However; the alleged safety issues noted by Horry County staffers, as well as some FAA bureaucrats (but not reported to SDMB staff or management until long after the alleged incidents occurred), seem questionable in both credibility as well as context…”
Campbell was so moved by his findings that he filed requests for investigation of the entire issue with the SC Attorney General, US Department of Transportation Inspector General and US Justice Department.
Horry County Department of Airports has a history of contradictory treatment of airport, especially general aviation, businesses. It put up with over 10 years of unfulfilled promises by AvCraft, reducing the rent on the hangars AvCraft leased at least three times, before deciding enough is enough.
In a letter dated February 19, 2014, Horry County attorney H. Randolph Haldi accused an attorney representing Skydive Myrtle Beach with either a “misunderstanding or misuse of criminal law.”
In the same letter, Haldi offered a short term space use permit for Skydive Myrtle Beach to continue operating at Grand Strand Airport, as long as Skydive Myrtle Beach paid the county 24% of its gross revenues.
That’s right, Horry County wanted 24% off the top of all revenue collected by Skydive Myrtle Beach.
The county charged AvCraft 5% of gross revenues and charges the same from Executive Helicopters.
You can see the discriminatory practices of the Horry County Department of Airports.
By the way, discrimination against businesses using airport property supported by FAA grants, both Grand Strand and Myrtle Beach International fall into this category, is strictly forbidden by the FAA.
The civil lawsuit between Skydive Myrtle Beach and Horry County is now in South Carolina appeals court.
Read the entire ANN article: http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?do=main.textpost&id=165ff28a-903c-4236-850e-a425e9093395