Skydiving Company Seeks Landing Zone At Airport

Hollister Municipal Airport

Free Lance News, CA
Thursday, March 25, 2004

A skydiving operation wants to move its landing zone to the Hollister Municipal Airport to avoid 10-mile drives back to town after jumps from its current drop spot in Tres Pinos.

But the city?s Airport Advisory Commission, concerned over potentially close proximity to flying aircraft, opposes the change.

The commission discussed the proposal from Adventure Skydiving Center at its meeting Wednesday.

The City Council, which would make a final decision, may consider the plan April 5, according to City Manager Dale Shaddox.

Tim Sayre, owner of the business since early 2000, previously lobbied for a location at the airport two years ago. Then, the airport commission voted in disapproval 2-1 – one member dismissed himself with a conflict and another was absent, according to Sayre.

Sayre argues the airport receives funding from the Federal Aviation Administration, and since skydivers are considered airmen the city should be obligated to allow such use, he said.

?Skydivers are airmen,? he said. ?If they?re not treated equally, the FAA could remove the funding.

?I?m trying to do this as nice as possible. I?m not trying to create enemies here.?

He also compared Hollister to the six other Northern California cities with skydiving operations.

All of them allow landing zones at their airports, he said. And out of 400 skydiving operations in the nation, Sayre?s is the only one landing farther than two miles from an airport, he said.

At least one Council member, Robert Scattini, a former airport commissioner, disagrees with Sayre?s contention – as does Gordon Machado, the chairman of the commission. Scattini and Machado were the two dissenting votes on the same issue in 2002.

They both say the airport isn?t large enough to accommodate skydiving, especially without a control tower. Scattini called it a ?safety factor.? Machado said he?s concerned about ?limited space? at the airport. And erecting a control tower, he projected, is about 10 years away.

?We (pilots) really have to observe each other,? Machado said.

Sayre pinpointed a possible landing spot near the National Guard Armory – he said it?s about 300 feet by 500 feet.

He has also shown interest in moving from his current rental space at the airport into the armory property – a logistical issue because the federal government owns the building.