Thursday, April 30, 2015

Skydive Tecumseh jumps to Napoleon

TECUMSEH  --   Skydive Tecumseh launched a scaled-back operation 18 miles from its home base in Tecumseh on Sunday.

Skydivers jumped from the company’s airplane at Napoleon Airport, two days after a Lenawee County Circuit Court judge ruled she could not order temporary access to Al Meyers Airport while a lawsuit between the companies is fought. The Tecumseh airport’s new owner, Andrew Aalto, banned Skydive Tecumseh from his runway in January, citing safety concerns and a desire to develop other airport business.

The flights from Napoleon Airport were described as “an additional operation” by Skydive Tecumseh’s attorney, David Stimpson of Tecumseh.

Parachuting at Napoleon Airport allows the business to survive while a permanent solution is worked out, Stimpson said.

“They don’t have the ability to operate at the same level anywhere else,” Stimpson said. Skydive Tecumseh has a building and infrastructure on its property adjacent to the Al Meyers Airport to accommodate the volume of customers it had served.

There are active discussions with other airports, he said. And a lawsuit against Al Meyers Airport is ongoing that could lead to a restoration of access, he said.

Napoleon Airport owner Anthony Hurst said he welcomes Skydive Tecumseh to his community.

“Yes, I think the restaurants and businesses in the area would welcome them with open arms,” Hurst said.

The business served 30 or 40 skydivers at Napoleon Airport on Sunday, he said. He expects Skydive Tecumseh will be flying from the airport again this weekend.

Napoleon Airport hosted another parachuting service in the past. It relocated 10 or 15 years ago for business reasons, Hurst said.

Hurst said he was impressed with how Skydive Tecumseh operated on Sunday.

“It went very well. They run a very safe operation. They’re very conscious of maintaining safety,” he said.

The two grass runways at Napoleon are comparable to the turf runway Skydive Tecumseh used at Al Meyers Airport, Hurst said. But Napoleon Airport does not have facilities to replace Skydive Tecumseh’s infrastructure in Tecumseh.

Stimpson said there is no airport in Lenawee County to where Skydive Tecumseh can relocate its full operation. The Lenawee County Airport in Madison Township has too many other operations to accommodate a skydiving business, he said.

Some of the independent contractors employed by the business will not have work this season, he said, without access to Al Meyers Airport.

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