Parachutists return to airport
June 12, 2008 · Updated 10:25 AM
"For the first time in three years, parachutists will be jumping from airplanes flown from Bremerton National Airport, following approval of a use agreement between Port of Bremerton Commission and a regional parachuting business. The agreement, approved by the commissioners Tuesday, will allow Blue Skies Skydiving Adventures, Inc., to have an office on port property and fly planes from the airport. The one-year use agreement will allow jumpers to land on approximately 30 acres of property that formerly was the site of the Norseland mobile home park, located west of State Route 3. With 24-hour advance notice, more experienced jumpers will be allowed to land on the airport and associated properties, said Fred Salisbury, director of the Bremerton airport. Port officials have supported the move despite a 1997 airplane accident at the airport that claimed the lives of five people, including four parachutists. That accident involved a Bremerton club affiliated with, but not a part of, Blue Skies Skydiving, said corporation president Kevin Pine. On Sept. 1, 1997, a single-engine Cessna 182C crashed just after takeoff, killing all aboard. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found the plane was approximately 38 pounds over the maximum allowable takeoff weight.Among the victims was Walter Yoho, a 57-year-old Port Orchard resident.Following the accident, the Bremerton parachuting club continued operating at the airport until 1998, Salisbury said. Salisbury said the accident was an airplane issue, not a skydiving mishap.Safety was a very critical issue that we looked at, and we made sure the use agreement reflected that, he said. As far as the dangers associated with skydiving, People can assume what they want.Pine, who instructs parachute instructors and has been jumping for 23 years, said his company didn't hire the pilot involved in the 1997 crash and didn't own the airplane or lease it to the Bremerton club. We weren't involved in any way, he said. They were a completely separate entity.Pine will make the Bremerton airport his home base, leasing an office in a building at the old Norseland site. Originally based in Shelton, the 12-year-old business most recently operated out of the Olympia airport, he said. Blue Skies Skydiving Adventures will do business Friday through Sunday and offers training for novice parachutists, Pine said. The business will open at its new home on Saturday. Skydiving is an airport activity, and we welcome all airport activity, said Port of Bremerton Commissioner Mary Ann Huntington. I think it's an activity that will benefit the community and will bring in tourists, she said. (Blue Skies) hasn't shown us anything to tell us not to do it. "