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Fri, Sep 24, 2021

Dillingham Airfield Will Stay Open For Skydiving At Least 3 More Years

The Community Came Together, Passion For Aviation And Skydiving Prevails

USPA informs the sport parachuting community of some great news for general aviation and skydiving enthusiasts in Hawaii. September 17, the Hawaii Department of Transportation - Airports Division revoked its termination of the lease of Kawaihapai (Dillingham) Airfield.

The news gives tenants and businesses at least three more years to utilize the airfield, while the US Army and HDOT work on finalizing a joint-use agreement that will look towards a long term lease.

Located on Oahu’s North Shore, the atmosphere boasts steady trade winds, opening landing areas and stable, clear weather. Now, there are currently 11 businesses operating at Dillingham Airport that employ more than 130 people. If this airfield closed, the Civil Air Patrol Operations and air-sports programs like the Young Eagles would have had to pack up and close down.

The announcement follows a year and a half of advocacy meetings and a passionate display of love for aviation and skydiving.

“At USPA, it’s our mission to ensure continued rightful access to this incredible sport we love while supporting safe skydiving and all those who enjoy it. Skydivers know that we who share the air are family and, more than anything, that feeling and connection is what saved Dillingham Airfield,” USPA Executive Director Albert Berchtold said. “We’re thrilled that the Hawaii DOT is supporting general aviation in Hawaii, and we look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with them and with the Army.”

More than 50,000 tourists and locals visited the airfield in 2019 for skydiving, and all of those people contribute to the local economy in the surrounding areas via shops, restaurants and places to stay. Dillingham Airfield is the only airport on Oahu that can accommodate skydiving and is the only suitable airport in Hawaii for large-scale skydiving businesses.

HDOT manages the Dillingham and leases the land from the military, and in January 2020 gave notice that it would terminate its lease effective June 30, 2020. After the efforts of USPA and others, HDOT subsequently postponed the lease termination to June 30, 2021, and then again to December 31, 2021.

In a letter sent to the U.S. Army on September 17, that decision came: The DOT revoked its termination of the lease exercised on January 6, 2020, and with this revocation, the termination date of the lease is now the original term-end date of July 5, 2024.

USPA gives credit to the many who helped in saving this airfield, thus saving the recreational activities and boost to tourism that have created memories for so many people over the years, and now can continue to do so.

FMI: www.uspa.org

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