Hemet-Ryan plans to ground gliders

September 3, 2009

When the glider FBO at Hemet-Ryan Airport in Hemet, Calif., closes its doors Oct. 1, local glider pilots could be left out in the cold. The glider runway is scheduled to close on the same day.

Concerns about compliance with FAA standards led the airport sponsor, the Riverside County Economic Development Agency, to plan to close the glider runway and only allow landings—not departures—by non-motorized gliders on Runway 5/23. AOPA is asking the FAA to review the situation to determine the best way for gliders to continue to operate at Hemet-Ryan.

“(W)e request that your office make a determination as to the reasonableness of the sponsor’s restrictions on glider operations,” wrote AOPA Manager of Airport Policy John Collins in a letter to the FAA. “Further we recommend that a collaborative effort be made by all parties concerned to come together to address these issues and come to an equitable arrangement.”

The glider FBO at Hemet-Ryan will vacate its lease at the start of October, a year earlier than expected, and the Riverside County Economic Development Agency decided to close the glider runway at the same time in an effort to comply with FAA standards. Airport licensing inspections by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Division of Aeronautics had cited the non-standard parallel runway spacing and unlicensed landing areas in between the two paved runways at Hemet-Ryan as areas of concern.

The Riverside County Economic Development Agency told the FAA in an Aug. 18 letter that it would “not consider continuation of unpowered glider operations that depart from the Hemet-Ryan Airport.” AOPA expressed concern that gliders will not be adequately accommodated at the airport and asked the FAA to review the agency's decision.