A tethered balloon located near Barnwell County Airport in Aiken, South Carolina, could pose a collision hazard for VFR aircraft, and AOPA is urging the FAA to act quickly to protect pilots.
In a letter sent to the FAA on Friday, AOPA warns that the balloon extends 2,400 feet above the maximum elevation figure (MEF) charted for the area, reaching an altitude of 4,200 feet agl. That means pilots flying at VFR altitudes well above the MEF risk colliding with the balloon.
Although the balloon is limited to daytime VFR operation and a notam will be issued any time the balloon is up, pilots must specifically request the information to receive it as part of a flight service station briefing.
AOPA members can view the complete FAA proposal online and comment on the balloon hazard before May 23, 2005. Comments should be addressed to Ronald Ruggeri, Manager Airspace and Operations Support Branch, AEA-530 Non-Rule Case Number 05-ASO-0003-NR, FAA Eastern Region, 1 Aviation Plaza, Jamaica, New York 11434.
April 1, 2005