Holmes Beach hopes to ground flying shuttle business

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Hans Brown, not shown, owner-operator of this motorized light-sport aircraft shown, has been using the LSA to shuttle fares between Kingfish Boat Ramp and the Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach. Islander Courtesy Photo

This business is soaring.

It can fly over traffic and drop in on waves.

But Holmes Beach says don’t take off just yet.

Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said he’s spoken with Hans Brown, owner-operator of a small light-sport aircraft, who has been shuttling passenger air fares between Kingfish Boat Ramp, 752 Manatee Ave., and Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive, in Holmes Beach.

“My guys had a conversation with him,” Tokajer said at the March 1 meeting of the Holmes Beach City Commission. “They told him that’s something we weren’t permitting.”

Holmes Beach ordinances, however, leave the chief with nothing to enforce.

“I’ve looked at our ordinances and there’s nothing that says he cannot,” Tokajer said.

The flights will continue, although to alternate destinations.

Brown, a licensed pilot, said he has been told not to land his LSA at the Manatee Public Beach for now. He intends to comply until he can establish an understanding with the city, he said.

“I’m seeking a win-win for everybody,” Brown said. “We want to operate lawfully where it’s a win-win and works for everybody.”

Commissioners expressed safety and noise concerns.

“He goes low, slow and loud,” said Chair Judy Titsworth.

City attorney Patricia Petruff said there is no ordinance preventing the pilot from picking up passengers at the boat ramp.

The pilot must comply with Federal Aviation Administration guidelines regarding flights paths over populated areas and noise levels, Petruff said.

Introductory flights cost $20 and Brown offers longer flights, including a high-definition wing-cam video of the customer’s flight. Instructional courses are available along with more information on Brown’s operation at letsfly.info.

The commercial flights continue for now, Brown said, originating out of Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, 6000 Airport Circle, Sarasota, and Airport Manatee, 14108 U.S. 41, Palmetto. Just not to the public beach in Holmes Beach.

Brown wants to change that.

“Anna Maria Island is the most beautiful island in the world,” Brown said. “It’s where I go when I want to hang out.”

4 thoughts on “Holmes Beach hopes to ground flying shuttle business

  1. Leila Minnis

    Holmes Beach needs to enforce existing laws and stop making more regulations. And if the city is so concerned about noise then do something about loud roaring motorcycles on Gulf!

    Reply
  2. Patricia Shay

    Again Holmes Bach chooses to over-regulate. First e tree house and now this small aircraft.. I suppose if they don’t have a regulation, they will now rush to provide one!

    Reply
  3. Bob Moore

    The Federal Aviation Administration regulates the safety and operations of all aircraft and pilots within the United States. The Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 specifies general operating and flight rules that must be followed for safe operation. Based on the details provided in the article, the pilot is in full compliance with the rules and his actions do not pose a danger to other users of the airspace, waterway or beach. Why would the City of Holmes Beach seek to curtail his lawful operation by creating a discriminatory local ordinance barring the use of the beach by amphibious aircraft? Such a ruling is sure to encounter a legal challenge. Has not the City incurred enough legal expenses in seeking to enforce questionable local ordinances? Why pick a fight over this activity? Besides, it is fun to watch him fly by. Go ahead; take a poll of the beach goers.

    Reply
  4. John Pontier

    Apparently people have forgotten the tragic fatal crash of a similar aircraft near Coquina Beach years ago. That pilot died along with a paying passenger.

    Reply

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