Sunday, September 20, 2009

Forced to move

On September 1, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted to grant a six-month extension for soaring at Hemet-Ryan, with a possible three-month extension beyond that. It looked like we had some time to work with the FAA and AOPA and SSA on helping the airport management understand the value of soaring to the airport and the Hemet community.

This week we found out what the word of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors is worth - absolutely nothing! On Friday they abruptly rescinded the extension, and all gliders are to be off the field by the original deadline - October 1.

I suppose this should not be surprising, since we have already seen that the Economic Development Agency is also behaving dishonestly. In a letter to the FAA dated August 18, 2009, the EDA states they have had "extensive dialogue" with the glider pilots. This is a lie. I expected better from the elected Board of Supervisors.

In late August, a new organization was formed called the Hemet Airport Community Association. This group has already met with glider pilots, power pilots, members of other pilots' associations, and aviation attorneys. HACA has initiated a legal fund and has engaged an attorney to continue the fight with the county. I think some of the power private pilots are concerned that the county's misguided attempt to convert Hemet-Ryan into a business jet airport will threaten their right to fly light aircraft, just as it is threatening the glider activity. Although our club is being forced to leave, the battle is not yet over.

Fortunately it appears that our club now has a viable option for soaring from another airport, and we could be flying club ships there as early as next weekend. I won't say more about that until the arrangement is formally announced.

So instead of flying yesterday, a bunch of us spent the day packing up the contents of our clubhouse and moving it to temporary storage.