Kamloops skydivers look to land a new home | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops skydivers look to land a new home

The Kamloops Skydivers Sport Parachuting Club is seeking to land a new drop zone as Fulton Field runs out of space.
Image Credit: Kamloops Skydivers Sport Parachuting Club

A Kamloops skydiving club has a runway for take off, but they are on the hunt for a landing zone.

For the past year, the Kamloops Skydivers Sport Parachuting Club has had their members land parachute onto a sandbar in the Thompson River, but they are searching for landowners that can offer them a more permanent location.

With construction ongoing at the Kamloops Airport, including pipeline work and Airport Way expansions, there is no room left for jumpers to land.

"It's understandable with the expansion of the airport," Heather Sutherland, secretary-treasurer of the parachuting club, said. "(The sandbar) is just for our experienced skydivers. It isn't ideal."

Students aren't allowed to land on the sandbar, due to its size. It's also now underwater.

"We've tried with multiple farmers and some landowners, but liability is a primary concern for most people," Sutherland said. "Our liability form as been reviewed by two separate lawyers, and we've only one attempted lawsuit in 60 years. It never even went to court."

Their relationship with the airport is by no means tarnished, but it's become increasingly difficult to accommodate the non-profit club with the construction and commercial activity at the airport.

"It's unfortunate because it's a pretty active group, but we also have to ensure the ultimate safety of all the users at the airport," managing director of Kamloops Airport Ed Ratuski said. "There's too much activity on the site for them to land safely."

The non-profit skydiving club has been operating in Kamloops for over 60 years, where they first landed at Scheidam Flats, eventually moving on to Fulton Field over 30 years ago.

"As one of only three remaining clubs in Canada and the only remaining Canadian Western Skydiving Club, (the club) has been playing a significant role in the success of the sport of parachuting and helping people in Kamloops realize of their dreams of experiencing flight for the very first time," a media release from the club reads.

Sutherland said that it can be helpful to remain within range of the radio signal from the Kamloops Airport so they can coordinate with commercial traffic, but they can adapt if they must move on somewhere out of range and outside the Brocklehurst area.

Sutherland focuses on wing suit and formation skydiving, but she said that one reason she fell in love with the sport is that it has many disciplines and welcomes all kinds of people with open arms.

"Skydiving clubs steer away from being a business and driving sales; instead they focus on building community and teaching and growing the next generation of skydivers into instructors and coaches to continue the very foundation of the sport. To each other, we are known as Sky Family; our drop-zone is truly our home away from home," the press release reads.

Sutherland said the non-profit club is flexible on their location as they seek a willing landowner and adds that their needs include 2,400 feet for a runway and relatively level terrain, but until they can find a new location, the club remains grounded.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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