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.”