State says new barrier at Dillingham Airfield is for safety; skydive company calls it payback

Updated: Jul. 27, 2019 at 7:41 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A long line of plastic barriers now cut through a parking lot at Dillingham Airfield.

The state says they’re for security.

But the founder of Skydive Hawaii thinks they’re a not-so-subtle form of payback.

The rectangular barricades were placed on the property line between Skydive Hawaii and Dillingham Airfield last Friday.

State Department of Transportation officials say they’re to protect the perimeter of the airfield. But the founder of Skydive Hawaii isn’t buying it.

“The rest of the airport is not protected like this,” said Frank Hinshaw.

Although that section of airfield property is owned by the government Henshaw says he’s the “holder of a revocable permit on the property" and that he’s long used the space for customer parking.

The new barrier cuts his lot in two.

“This is retaliatory pure and simple,” said Hinshaw.

For years, he says he’s pleaded with the state to make basic safety improvements to the airfield.

“Right now there’s no maintenance facility on this airfield that can be used for the skydiving planes,” said Hinshaw. “They park outside.They’re not secured at night.”

There’s also no fire truck. He says the one that used to be stationed there was removed nearly a decade ago.

“Those kinds of things we’ve asked the state to make at our expense,” said Hinshaw. “They said no.”

The issue came to a head in June after a skydiving plane, owned by neighboring company Oahu Parachute Center crashed on the airfield, killing all 11 on board.

“I’ve been asking for the airport manager to resign. I’ve been asking for the fire chief to resign," Hinshaw said.

A spokesperson for the state Transportation Department declined to go on camera for this story, but said in a statement that “the characterization of our safety improvements as punitive action against Dillingham Airfield users is not accurate.”

Officials say the changes that were made have nothing to do with the crash. Instead, they were the result of a routine safety inspection in mid-July.

The agency said it installed the barriers “to protect the perimeter of the airfield.”

But Hinshaw remains skeptical — as long stretches of the runway remain easily accessible. He says these so-called improvements are an insult to the 11 people who died in last month’s crash.

“They should be able to know that we need maintenance facilities, we need fuel facilities, we need a fire truck. We don’t need water barriers,” said Hinshaw.

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