By Glenn Pew, Contributing Editor, Video Editor
Santa Monica, Calif., city council members this week shelved the plan they introduced two weeks ago to pay flight school operators to fly student pilots away from the city's airport for touch and go operations. The original plan would have been introduced as a test program. It would have offered participating flight schools operating from SMO $150 per flight to conduct "repetitive takeoff and landing practice" at "other area airports during weekends and federal holidays only." City council members had planned to set aside $90,000 to fund the reimbursement/incentive program over a test period of six months. But, according to one council member, "The people just don't want us to do it."
Council member Bob Holbrook cast a dissenting vote that left the council one short of unanimous approval. And in Santa Monica, appropriation measures must have at least five members in favor to be approved. Four approved the measure, Holbrook voted against it, and three other officials were not present for the vote. Holbrook, who voted in a clear minority, told the Santa Monica Mirror that "not one single person who I've received an email from or talked to, including leadership of the different groups around the airport, wants us to do this." Council members had hoped to divert traffic away from Santa Monica to reduce traffic above the airport and neighboring cities. The council has now reportedly shelved the pay-to-go-away flight training idea, indefinitely.