|A Word from our Strike Leader|
By Alex Belov
The saga of our aerobatic practice box at Sullivan County Int’l continues. The town of Bethel, the folks surrounding the airport, have filed a request with the FAA not to renew our waiver on the count that we violate it by continuously flying below allowed altitude and over their houses. They claim that we "dive-bomb" their houses and fly below 1500 feet AGL. They realize that the FAA is the only way to go to stop us from flying at MSV and they now are attacking our credentials.
These are false accusations and have no real truth or evidence to them. The aerobatic practice activities over MSV are in strict compliance with the waiver and all its provisions:
(1) The FAA waiver actually allows us to fly from 500 AGL to 4000 AGL.
(2) The only two (2) times this year that we held practice, the waiver was activated only from 1500 AGL to 4000 AGL.
(3) The type of practice was practice aerobatics by Sportsman competitors, who have an absolute hard deck of 1500 AGL and would never fly below in any case.
(4) Practice was done for the purpose of critiquing and all flying was done inside the box so that critiquing can be accomplished. (if you fly outside the box no one on the ground can critique you).
Those are the facts. Regardless of the facts the local folks still are trying to kick us out of the airport and stop our flying. The issue has now reached DC, as the local congressman is now aware of the problem. I have a headache writing about this again, and again, and again…
In our ever-shrinking sport, as it seems lately, battles like this become more and more frequent. In our neck of the woods, it is very difficult to locate a legal place to practice, we require FAA waivers to conduct aerobatic flight and once we do, local community stands up against us. Forget aerobatics, we get calls every time we take off from an airport these days. This happened in Long Island, Orange County, Kobelt, Sussex, Mt. Pocono… just to name the few places. Each surviving box is hanging by a thread and it is absolutely imperative that all of us stand up against any accusations, especially false ones, if we want to keep our sport alive and thriving in the Northeast. It is just a matter of time before your box is attacked by newcomers that all of the sudden want peace and quiet (and moving next to an airport was never a factor in their decision-making process).
What should we do? First and foremost, this requires support from all members. Our strengths are in the numbers, our wisdom is in the collective union, our perseverance is in the harmony of voices. We all need to stand up together and fight this in numbers, for the simple reasons that we are being attacked by the numbers. Now that you have the facts of the case, we are asking you for your support. This is no longer a battle by the few core members, this is becoming a battle for the entire chapter and soon the IAC. We are in danger of loosing our place of safe practice, our place of contest. We already began looking for another place for the contest and chances are will soon move to a new location but it is hard to say how successful a new place may be.
As you are reading this, the chapter is preparing a letter to the FAA in response to false accusations by the town of Bethel and. It just would be too bad to loose another place to fly as good as Sullivan. Let’s hope for the best and continue full speed ahead!
Your Fearless Leader