Post Tagged with: "Skydive Myrtle Beach"

Skydive Myrtle Beach Sues Horry County, FAA in Federal Court

February 23, 2017 5:37 AM
Skydive Myrtle Beach Sues Horry County, FAA in Federal Court

Horry County, its council, appointed officials and contractors as well as officials from the Federal Aviation Administration were named as defendants in a federal tort claims lawsuit filed recently by Skydive Myrtle Beach.

The lawsuit claims Skydive Myrtle Beach was illegally closed when Horry County Council and its Department of Airports worked with the FAA to deprive Skydive Myrtle Beach of its constitutional right to due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In 2014, Skydive Myrtle Beach lodged a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration against Horry County Department of Airports alleging discriminatory actions against Skydive Myrtle Beach by HCDA.

In response, Horry County Department of Airports reported to the Federal Aviation Administration that Skydive Myrtle Beach was the subject of 112 alleged safety violations while conducting business at Grand Strand Airport.

In October 2015, the FAA issued a 73 page Director’s Determination Report supposedly basing the report on those safety violations. Horry County subsequently used this report as an excuse to shut down Skydive Myrtle Beach operations at Grand Strand Airport.

Skydiving is an approved aviation activity at all airports receiving FAA grants, according to FAA guidelines. Grand Strand Airport and the Horry County Department of Airports receive FAA grants on a routine basis.

The only valid excuse for denying an approved aviation activity at an airport that receives FAA grants is for safety violations.

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The Case of Skydive Myrtle Beach

December 27, 2016 6:00 AM
The Case of Skydive Myrtle Beach

New court filings could provide interesting revelations in the treatment of Skydive Myrtle Beach by the Horry County Department of Airports.

As county taxpayers will shortly hear of new court actions filed by Skydive Myrtle Beach against Horry County and others, a short historical perspective on the relationship between Horry County Department of Airports and Skydive Myrtle Beach follows:

Skydive Myrtle Beach is a tandem skydiving business owned and operated by armed services veterans.

It began operating its business in Horry County in 2012 after signing an eight year lease with Ramp 66, the county’s general aviation operator of Grand Strand Airport at that time.

After Horry County government bought out Ramp 66 in 2013, it appears that concentrated efforts were made by HCDA to close down the operations of Skydive Myrtle Beach.

Tandem skydiving is a recognized and approved use of publicly supported airport facilities by the Federal Aviation Administration.

It is illegal for an airport that accepts publicly funded grants to discriminate against one type of approved aviation activity, say helicopter operations, over another – tandem skydiving.

The only excuse allowed by the FAA for shutting down approved aviation operations is that those operations contribute to an unsafe environment at the airport.

Unsafe operations was the route taken by Horry County and its Department of Airports to justify shutting down Skydive Myrtle Beach on October 2015.

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SkyDive Myrtle Beach v. Horry County in Court This Month

November 1, 2016 7:25 AM
SkyDive Myrtle Beach v. Horry County in Court This Month

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.

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Council to Hear SkyDive Myrtle Beach Officials

July 5, 2016 4:36 AM
Council to Hear SkyDive Myrtle Beach Officials

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.)

And

“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.

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More Questions About Skydive Myrtle Beach Case

March 19, 2016 7:23 PM
More Questions About Skydive Myrtle Beach Case

The more we look at the case built by Horry County Department of Airports against Skydive Myrtle Beach, the more holes appear.

After Skydive Myrtle Beach reported HCDA to the Federal Aviation Administration in 2014 for discriminatory actions, HCDA began reporting alleged safety incidents by Skydive Myrtle Beach operations to the FAA. A total of 112 of these alleged violations occurred, according to HCDA.

Skydive Myrtle Beach also filed suit in circuit court against Horry County and HCDA for their actions.

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.

The FAA has a reporting system for tower operations regarding safety violations. It is known as the Comprehensive Electronic Data Analysis and Reporting (CEDAR) system. Instructions for reporting in the CEDAR System are required if any of the below three questions apply:

“The basic considerations when deciding whether or not to report an incident should be:

Did a dangerous situation occur?
Could a dangerous incident have occurred if circumstances had been different?
Could a dangerous incident occur in the future if the situation being reported is not corrected?”
A total of 112 safety violations were allegedly catalogued by HCDA and Robinson Aviation, the county’s contractor for tower operations at Grand Strand Airport. Yet, not one of these alleged violations were ever reported to the CEDAR System.

If Skydive Myrtle Beach was operating at Grand Strand Airport in such a grossly unsafe manner as HCDA categorized to the press, why is there no record of this in the CEDAR System?

The FAA apparently went along with this fictitious plan. Even though none of the alleged violations were in the database of its CEDAR System, the FAA issued a 73 page report on these violations that HCDA used as its basis for evicting Skydive Myrtle Beach.

How did the FAA issued a 73 page report on these alleged safety incidents when none were included in its CEDAR System database?

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FOIA Documents Don’t Support Allegations Against Skydive Myrtle Beach

March 12, 2016 6:16 AM
FOIA Documents Don’t Support Allegations Against Skydive Myrtle Beach

After reviewing the 215 documents the Federal Aviation Administration sent to Skydive Myrtle Beach responding to a FOIA request for all documentation related to the alleged 112 safety violations committed by that company at Grand Strand Airport, the conclusion must be drawn that there were no documented safety violations.

The heart of the documents dealing with these alleged violations are a series of “Unusual Incident Reports” generated by Horry County Department of Airports personnel or contractors claiming Skydive Myrtle Beach clients landed in areas other than the designated landing zone. I did not see one report that listed any injuries, accidents or damage to property.

A typical comment on these so-called incident reports said, “At 0922 Local, 3 parachutists jumping with Skydive Myrtle Beach landed outside the landing zone…Skydive Myrtle Beach received permission from CRE tower to retrieve wayward jumpers.”

This is not a safety violation. It is not a violation at all!

Below is the pertinent FAA Advisory Circular dealing with parachute landings on airports.

“Advisory Circular – Subject: Sport Parachuting, Date 5/8/2011, AC No. 105-2D

Below is Section 6(c)2 of the advisory circular:

“(2) Parachute Landings on Airports. Airports may designate suitable parachute landing areas. While skydivers attempt to land in such areas, at times there may be inadvertent landings in other grass or hard-surfaced areas. This could include landings on runways, taxiways, and other hard-surfaced areas. Areas such as runways, taxiways, clearways, and obstacle-free zones are not prohibited areas but should not be designated as a primary landing area and should be vacated as soon as practical. Flying a parachute over runways at low altitudes should be avoided where possible. The FAA recommends that airport management work with parachute operators to develop standard operating procedures (SOP) for activities conducted by parachutists.”

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Horry County Council Looking at Deficits

March 10, 2016 6:15 AM
Horry County Council Looking at Deficits

Horry County Council is taking a close look this week at projected deficits in the Horry County Solid Waste Authority and Horry County Department of Airports.

The HCSWA board heard of a revised projected deficit of nearly $600,000 for the coming fiscal year earlier this week.

The deficit comes mainly from higher costs, including personnel pay and benefits and increased construction cost projections for the authority’s landfill expansion.

However, the recycling agreement with Charleston County also continues to operate in the red.

The airport deficits all come on the general aviation side of operations, according to a report by HCDA to the Horry County Transportation Committee earlier in the week.

According to HCDA statistics, Grand Strand Airport is losing approximately $304,000, Conway Airport approximately $200,000 and Loris Airport approximately $100,000. The only thing keeping the fixed base operations at Myrtle Beach International profitable are fuel sales to military aircraft using the facilities.

The above number for Grand Strand Airport does not include approximately $165,000 spent in legal fees during the current fiscal year for the ongoing lawsuit with Skydive Myrtle Beach.

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Skydive Myrtle Beach Wait Continues

February 26, 2016 5:35 AM
Skydive Myrtle Beach Wait Continues

Another month is passing and Skydive Myrtle Beach still has no documents from the Federal Aviation Administration with respect to an ongoing Freedom of Information request.

The FOIA seeks documents that were used by Horry County Department of Airports as the excuse needed to stop Skydive Myrtle Beach from operating at the county’s Grand Strand Airport.

In 2014, Skydive Myrtle Beach lodged a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration against Horry County Department of Airports alleging discriminatory actions against Skydive Myrtle Beach by HCDA.

In response, Horry County Department of Airports reported to the Federal Aviation Administration that Skydive Myrtle Beach was the subject of 112 alleged safety violations while conducting business at Grand Strand Airport.

According to Aaron Holly, a principal of Skydive Myrtle Beach, his business had never been notified of any of these violations and still has not received any official paperwork relating to any of them.

In October 2015, the FAA issued a 73 page Director’s Determination Report, in response to Holly’s original complaint, supposedly basing the report on those safety violations. Horry County subsequently used this report as an excuse to shut down Skydive Myrtle Beach operations at Grand Strand Airport.

But nobody can produce documentation of the alleged 112 safety violations.

Horry County claims not to have the documentation even though it was the government agency that ostensibly generated them.

The FAA has failed to produce the documentation even though the agency acknowledged February 2, 2016 was the date to send it out. Since February 2nd, one outrageous excuse after another has been the FAA’s tact.

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Skydive Myrtle Beach FOIA Deadline Passes

February 3, 2016 5:37 AM
Skydive Myrtle Beach FOIA Deadline Passes

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, duke.taylor@faa.gov 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.

D”

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Who Has Information on Skydive Myrtle Beach?

December 27, 2015 7:09 AM
Who Has Information on Skydive Myrtle Beach?

The ongoing dispute between Skydive Myrtle Beach and Horry County Department of Airports has taken interesting twists and turns in recent weeks.

In 2014, Skydive Myrtle Beach lodged a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration against Horry County Department of Airports alleging discriminatory actions against Skydive Myrtle Beach by HCDA.

In response, Horry County Department of Airports reported to the Federal Aviation Administration that Skydive Myrtle Beach was the subject of 112 alleged safety violations while conducting business at Grand Strand Airport.

According to Aaron Holly, a principal of Skydive Myrtle Beach, his business had never been notified of any of these violations and still has not received any official paperwork relating to any of them.

In October 2015, the FAA issued a 73 page Director’s Determination Report, in response to Holly’s original complaint, supposedly basing the report on those safety violations. Horry County subsequently used this report as an excuse to shut down Skydive Myrtle Beach operations at Grand Strand Airport.

County officials said FAA grant funding was in jeopardy if the Department of Airports didn’t act to shut down the business.

That’s not exactly true. A letter from Michael O’Donnell of the FAA to HCDA director Pat Apone, dated November 13, 2015, states in part, “The FAA also requested Horry County to submit a “corrective action plan incorporating acceptable risk mitigation measures and revised procedures under which safe skydiving operations may resume.”

The county was only supposed to suspend skydiving operations until a mitigation plan was submitted.

And the problem for HCDA gets worse.

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