Airports and State Advocacy
Despite opposition, Florida town moves to ban new flight training
The town of Grant-Valkaria, Fla., is moving forward with plans to impose a ban on new flight training schools at Valkaria Airport.
Although Valkaria Airport is owned and operated by Brevard County, Grant-Valkaria officials proposed an ordinance to prohibit flight training, including recurrent training, on the premises. AOPA objected to the proposal in a letter to the mayor and spoke in support of the airport at a public hearing June 1, pointing out that FAA grant agreements require the airport to be available for all aeronautical uses and users—including flight training. At the hearing, the town council amended the ordinance to allow training that is already provided at the airport, but the amended ordinance would still ban all future flight schools from setting up shop at Valkaria.
The town council made its changes to the ordinance after the planning and zoning board voted to recommend denying the version it considered earlier that evening. The council approved the first reading of the revised ordinance and awaits comments from the FAA. A letter AOPA sent to Grant-Valkaria Mayor Del Yonts points out that Brevard County entered into agreements with the FAA to preserve the airport for aeronautical purposes. AOPA added in the letter that “flight training activities cannot be legislated out of existence at Valkaria by the town government.”
“Any type of prohibition on flight training at Valkaria Airport would restrict pilots from complying with federal laws requiring periodic recurrent training and operational experience,” the letter says. Instead of protecting citizens, the ordinance could expose them to potential harm, it adds; the town should withdraw the proposed ordinance and work with the county to address citizens’ concerns without jeopardizing legitimate aeronautical activities at the airport.
AOPA Regional Representative Nelson Rhodes and several local Airport Support Network volunteers spoke against the ordinance at the hearing.
June 1, 2009