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Man seeks permission to hang-glide from airport

By Nancy Glasscock
nglasscock@decaturdaily.com 340-2443

MOULTON — Isaac Jones told Lawrence County commissioners Monday that he will file a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration because the county won't let him hang-glide from the airport in Courtland.

Jones, a 53-year-old NASA grant officer, told commissioners in August they wouldn't be held liable if he were injured while hang-gliding at the county airport.

He asked the commission for the second time in two months to overrule the Airport Board's decision to ban him from launching there, which he said violates federal laws.

"Believe me, we don't want to cause problems," he said. "We don't want anyone criticized. We just like to fly."

Chairman Bradley Cross said the commission would follow the Airport Board's recommendation.

The panel took no action on Jones' request.

"I'm sure they've looked at it from every angle," Cross said.

Jones said last month that Airport Board members are worried about being responsible for his safety or worried hang gliders will deter pilots from using the airport.

While the majority of hang gliders launch from a hill, Jones uses a winch system that he believes is the only one in the state.

The system is a truck pulling a trailer with a spool holding 6,000 feet of line.

The hang glider attaches the line to himself, Jones said.

The truck drives down the roadway, usually at about 20 mph, creating wind that lifts the man-turned-eagle into the sky.

Once the glider gains enough altitude to maintain flight, the pilot releases the line.

He said the truck needs only a few seconds on the runway to give the pilot a proper take-off.

Jones said the county should allow him to hang-glide in Courtland because the airport receives federal grant money.

The Lawrence County Airport received more than $1.7 million in federal grants from 2000 to 2005, according to the FAA Web site.

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