Pilots Operate Legally, Safely, Says Manager
Smith said he's spoken with the parachute pilots about the hunters' concerns and is convinced they are doing everything possible to avoid trouble. He said he's worked closely with them to design safe operating procedures that keep them from conflict with regular aircraft and to his knowledge they've been completely cooperative. The pilots have not chosen to take a literal stance on the procedures and regs and used them as justification for harassing the neighbors, "But they have to come in and land," he said. Since the gun-pointing incident, at least one of the pilots said he's started climbing steeply on takeoff and is avoiding all areas that might cause trouble. When he returns, he said he drops directly into the airport from altitude. Smith said he's been trying to convince his local county council to approve money for a runway extension but he's not sure whether the proposal (which has thus far been rejected) has increased tensions with the hunters. "Unless someone comes out and tells you that, how do you know?" he said.