Clovis city officials are investigating allegations that their airport manager violated a series of flight regulations while conducting city business last month, Attorney Dave Richards said.
Robert Thorn, a pilot who has been critical of Airport Manager Kyle Berkshire and city operations at the airport, made the allegations in an email to city officials on Sept. 21.
On Sept. 20, Thorn alleged in his email, “Mr. Berkshire flew his airplane to Albuquerque International Airport from Clovis Municipal Airport and then back.”
“Now these flights would have been perfectly legal if he had his private pilot certificate,” Thorn wrote.
“However, Mr. Berkshire is just a student pilot.”
Berkshire declined to answer questions about Thorn’s allegations.
“All I will say is that they are making false statements,” Berkshire said in a text message.
Thorn, a pilot who’s rented a hangar at the Clovis airport since 2010, said his information has come from “witnesses at the airport.”
Thorn wrote in his email that Berkshire’s alleged actions were “the equivalent of a city employee driving their personal car that is not registered doing city business without a driver’s license to Albuquerque and back.”
City Manager Larry Fry referred questions to Richards.
“The City has received the emails of Mr. Thorn,” responded Richards via email. “The City is in the process of investigating and verifying the facts relating to the allegations. Appropriate action will be administered when the inquiry and verification process is completed.”
Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration did not respond to a request for information on Wednesday.
This is not the first time Thorn has had disputes with Berkshire and the city regarding airport issues.
In August, Thorn was vocally opposed to the city taking over fuel operations at the airport from a private company and he has publicly criticized Berkshire for airport conditions that he says are not up to industry standards.
Problems, he said in an email to city commissioners, “can all be attributed to your Airport manager.”
The city has scheduled a special executive session for 5:30 p.m. on Monday.
City officials declined to say if the Berkshire matter would be discussed during the private meeting.
Notice from the city reports only that “topics of discussion will be pending or threatened litigation, … the acquisition or disposal of real property, … and Limited Personnel Matters.”