Owner moves skydiving business from St. Marys Airport to Palatka

Published On: Sep 02 2012 10:17:36 PM EDT   Updated On: Sep 03 2012 12:20:20 AM EDT

After months of fighting, a skydive scuffle gets even more heated. The owner of a southeast Georgia skydiving company says she's had enough.

ST. MARY'S, Ga. -

After months of fighting, a skydive scuffle got even more heated on Sunday.

The Jumping Place has been in business since 2006 in St. Mary's, Georgia. But the owner, Cathy Kloess, just temporarily moved her her business to Palatka.

She said the owner a competing company, Skydive Palatka, allowed her company to  use their property until she figured things out.

The move came after the St. Mary's Airport authority board, who were appointed to oversee the city owned and federally funded airfield, voted to revoke her company's permit in St. Mary's.

The problems began when two skydivers accidentally landed off-target on the nearby Kings Bay Naval Base. There have been incidents involving seven skydivers landing on the base since the business started, said Kloess.

The Navy gave a stern warning in writing, "Let me be clear: Parachutist intrusions on the base must be eliminated."

The board said Kloess hasn't cooperated and broke the rules, which caused safety hazards.

In an e-mail to Channel 4, Authority Board Attorney James Stein wrote, "Because of the serious issues of security at the Base this is a most serious matter being addressed by the St. Marys Airport Authority...Repeated violations can not be tolerated if it is in the interest of national security."

Kloess said they're discriminating against her, trying to force her business out.

So now skydivers have to jump from Palatka. A good two hours south of St. Mary's.

Kloess had filed a complaint with the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Authority, claiming the airport authority board had no authority to shut her down. She says she was also considering filing a lawsuit. She is now looking at other airfields to permanently relocate to.

The board's attorney said he couldn't say much about the dispute, because the matter is now in the hands of the FAA.


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