Local Skydiving Business in Peril

Justin Silvia opened Chattanooga Skydiving Company four years ago.

He claims his business brings in more than one million dollars to Marion County.

He says he contracts locally to maintain his airplanes.

His seven employees are hired locally and his skydiving business is thriving.

"I would say that we are 90 percent of the air traffic at the Marion County airport at this point with 14 hundred takeoffs and landings in 2014," Silvia said. He says they’ve had more than 20 thousand jumps without one safety incident.

But local officials are asking Silvia to close up shop citing complaints from neighbors that skydivers are landing on their property.

"The FAA recognizes that 99 percent of parachute activities, we land right in the landing area we are supposed to but occasionally some weather issues could pop up," he said.

Lotchia Jones has cattle that graze near the airport.

He told News 12 the skydivers frighten his cows and destroy his fence.

A recent exchange between Jones and Silvia took a violent turn.

"It caused a great disturbance the day that we landed on this particular property," Silvia said. "He pointed a gun at me and assaulted me."

Silvia claims skydivers were actually fired at.

"Fired a gun at us now from adjacent property to the airport and we had to file a complaint with the FBI over this," he said.

Silvia said skydivers have landed outside the airport property less than 12 times in four years.

Silvia also said he’s willing to pay for any destruction of property the skydivers cause.

"I worked very hard to do this," Silvia said. "I have a lot of money tied up with it. Alot of time and expense with my family and it’s just a great thing for the Marion County public to watch or participate in."

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