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Jackson, Wyo. • The owner of a new commercial scenic air tour business based out of the Jackson airport in Grand Teton National Park says his routes will not disturb park visitors.
"We don't need to fly in the park to give people an amazing aerial tour," Peter Lindell, owner and director of operations for Fly Jackson Hole, said.
Lindell said the scenic tour side of the business is still in a startup phase, but potential scenic routes would take clients over the Gros Ventre Range, Teton Pass and the west slope of the Tetons.
"I don't want to be the guy who's buzzing the Grand," Lindell said. "My contract with the airport board does not allow me to overfly noise sensitive areas of the park, and I don't want to do that. I want to respect the nature of the park
Fly Jackson Hole entered into a three-year contract with Jackson Hole Airport in May. The airport is the only U.S. commercial airstrip located inside a national park.
Grand Teton park's lease agreement with Jackson Hole Airport includes a provision that prohibits "origination of commercial scenic or charter flights, as well as aircraft training sessions, over noise sensitive areas of the park."
Scenic air tours that come out of Driggs, Idaho, or other airports, are exempt from the rule. However, they are subject to a 2004 Federal Aviation Administration "recommendation" that pilots of noise producing aircraft stay 2,000 feet above the highest terrain in "noise-sensitive" areas.
Noise-sensitive areas in Grand Teton National Park include the Tetons and "cover most of the park," Jackie Skaggs, parks spokeswoman, told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. The FAA has jurisdiction over the airspace above Grand Teton park lands, she said.
Fly Jackson Hole, Lindell said, can follow all the rules and still provide a quality scenic tour of the area.
"I really want to emphasize ... everything that we're doing is totally legal," he said. "We don't fly in the noise-sensitive areas of the park at all, except to be able to take off and land."