Taylor Air Sports has folded it's last parachute and closed it's doors at the Fairfield County Airport. "We told them we were not going to renew their lease when it runs out next May," said Steve Goodyear, president of the Fairfield County Airport Authority. Gene Taylor, president of Taylor Air Sports, said they decided to close the doors Jan. 1.
Taylor Air Sports provided parachute training for students and carried out jumps at the airport during good weather.
Taylor said they were running approximately 1,000 students through the school a year and providing between 3,000 and 4,000 jumps a year.
"We've been there for 14 years, and I spent the last two years there full-time trying to make it a go," Taylor said.
Goodyear said one of the reasons for not renewing the lease was concern about the number of jumps being made onto the runways with the air traffic coming into the airport, especially on the weekends.
Taylor said the closure and the non-renewed lease was partly political and partly because he just didn't want to bother with it anymore.
Ron Houser, a member of the Taylor Air Sports Skydiving team, said he would miss it.
"Taylor Air Sports has run a safe, fun and friendly operation at the Fairfield County Airport since 1988," Houser said. "Their safety record is impeccable, as any of their customers can attest to."
Houser said Taylor was the life at the airport.
"Taylor Air Sports actually breathed life into the Fairfield County Airport. On Saturdays and Sundays, when TAS was open for business, a majority of the cars in the parking lot belonged to TAS members or skydiving spectators. There were countless people who had no interest in the airport or flying at all who would come there to watch the skydivers," said Houser. "With the departure of TAS and Gene Taylor from the Fairfield County Airport, that facility will lose a very valuable resource of aviation knowledge and experience. These are qualities that any airport of that size would be proud and happy to have available to it."
Taylor said that he was looking around and trying to find a place to base the school, but it had been a tough couple of years.
"If we don't find something by the beginning of the season, sometime by April or May, we will quit," Taylor said. "It's too bad, but that's life. I quit a lucrative full-time career to pursue this, but business is tough enough without having to fight the Good Ole Boy network at the Airport Authority. It's time to move on."
Goodyear said the airport was looking to use the hanger for other aircraft.