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AOPA challenges proposed overflight ban

Chesapeake City plan would hurt helicopter operators

AOPA wrote a letter to the mayor of Chesapeake City, Maryland, on Sept. 5 opposing an ordinance that would ban overflights of the town by aircraft at altitudes lower than 400 feet agl, along with a plan to prohibit landing within the town limits.

The letter was prompted by members who are concerned about the potential impact on flights to a heliport located outside the town’s limits whose one approach requires overflying the town at a lower altitude than allowed in the proposed ordinance. And a local restaurant that occasionally has customers who arrive via helicopter and floatplane would also be impacted by this ordinance.

AOPA understands that the genesis of this proposed ordinance is related to aircraft landing at Schafer’s Canal House Restaurant and annoying some members of the community, wrote John Collins, manager of airport policy. The association understands those concerns but is compelled to point out the town’s overreach in this matter, he said.

“Only the Federal Aviation Administration has sovereign control of the airspace, so the town can’t regulate the overflights. And Maryland regulates the landing of seaplanes on navigable waters in the state and the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal is not a prohibited landing area,” said Collins. “The town can regulate landing areas within town limits, but given the long local history of helicopters landing at the restaurant and also bringing Santa Claus in for local Christmas celebrations, it might be a better option to sit down and discuss concerns and collaborate with the restaurant owner, the Maryland Aviation Administration, and residents with helicopter experience on a solution before imposing an ordinance banning landing with town limits.”

Based on input received from AOPA and other concerned members of the aviation community, the town council postponed a Sept. 15 public hearing and will take up the proposed ordinance during a work session on Sept. 22 after they have had a chance to study the concerns some more. “We encourage local AOPA members to attend the hearing and voice their opposition to this ordinance and encourage the town to not adopt it,” said Collins. “We will continue to work with our local members on this issue.”

Topics: Advocacy

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