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Riverside County airport attempts to ban glider pilots, installs new regulations instead

July 26, 2011, 12:10 pm

Riverside County, California, attempted to ban glider pilots from using the Hemet-Ryan Airport. Officials who led the prohibition attempt stated that sailplane flights did not coalesce with the county's plans of airport modernization and conflicted with firefighting missions, which run year-round out of the airport. Between 30 and 50 glider planes were evicted by the Economic Development Agency, which serves as the airfield's management.

Glider pilots strongly opposed the eviction and ban, making note of the fact that Hemet-Ryan has served as a popular sailplane flight base for nearly 50 years. An attorney was hired by members of the Orange County Soaring Association, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) received a formal complaint.

After an investigation, the FAA announced that the closure of the runway dedicated to sailplanes was based on unsupported or flawed reasons. Riverside County received a warning that prohibiting glider traffic at the airport could cause a cessation of federal funding for Hemet-Ryan. The county conceded and set about creating new guidelines to regulate glider pilot traffic.

Pilot life insurance is not just for pilots of traditional aircraft, and glider pilots can find coverage to protect their families. According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, there were 7.2 flight accidents for every 100,000 hours flown in 2009, resulting in 1,474 total accidents.

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