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Tethered balloon request withdrawn

March 18, 2011, 03:06 am

The Arizona defense company that submitted a much-contested request to place a tethered balloon in the airspace near Camp Verde, Arizona has withdrawn its request, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. 

The balloon would have been 2,500 feet above ground level and located near two general aviation airports, which potentially could have created a visibility obstruction for pilots, some groups argued.

One of the groups that fought against the presence of the tethered balloon was the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

"While this action mitigates the concerns of pilots in the Camp Verde area, tethered balloons remain a concern across the country because they are not evaluated for their impact on VFR flight operations and are not subject to public input and comments," said Tom Kramer, AOPA's manager of air traffic services. Kramer expressed that the AOPA will continue to work with the FAA in order to develop some sort of public comment process to discuss the potential obstacle tethered balloons can pose.

Obstructions located above ground level may pose a serious threat to pilots and could potentially result in fatal accidents, both by limiting their view and also as a physical obstacle. Such tragedies sometimes leave pilots' families financially unstable, particularly if they did not have pilot life insurance coverage prior to the accident.

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