Gyrocopter plan on safety edge

AN application to operate unpowered gyrocopters at a local airport has been lodged with Clarence Valley Council.

The Northern Rivers Gyro Club has applied for permission to conduct lessons and club meets at South Grafton Aerodrome.

The matter went before council's civil and corporate committee meeting on Tuesday.

The report to councillors listed six reasons why the application should be rejected.

They included the fact that South Grafton Aerodrome had only one runway which was used by both incoming and outgoing aircraft.

The report also stated that because unpowered gyrocopters/gyrogliders were towed behind vehicles there would be a vehicle on the runway at all times while the gyrocopter was airborne.

In addition, the report stated that airport operations were inherently dangerous and recommended council not put the good safety record of South Grafton airfield in jeopardy.

Northern Rivers Gyro Club currently operates at Evans Head Memorial Airfield.

In a submission to council, the club advised there had been just three fatalities involving gyrogliders since records began in 1970.

The club also stated that gyrogliders had a role to play in training gyro pilots and they allowed the public cheap access to joy flights.

Northern Rivers Gyro Club president Ian Collins addressed councillors at the Tuesday committee meeting and argued passionately for councillors to vote against the officer's recommendation.

Instead, councillors agreed to defer the matter for further risk assessment.

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