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Flying Club to Disband, Form Again in La Verne

September 07, 2004|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

A popular flying club locked in a dispute with the city of Fullerton is disbanding and will reorganize elsewhere.

Ray's Flying Club, headquartered at the Fullerton Municipal Airport since 1999, will declare bankruptcy and dissolve, according to Tom Polley, general manager. Polley said he would start a new club at an airport in eastern Los Angeles County.

"The city has crippled the club so much" that it doesn't have a choice, he said, adding that the decision to move was made after Orange County sheriff's deputies served the nonprofit organization with an eviction notice requiring it to vacate the 2,500-square-foot hangar it occupies.

The action is the latest in an ongoing battle between the city-owned airport and the 100-member club, which has offered low-cost plane rentals, aircraft tie-downs and flying lessons, as well as free airplane rides for underprivileged children.

The two sides have been at odds for years, with club members characterizing the struggle as centered on the fact that Ray's charged pilots less than the airport to tie down their planes; city and airport officials described it as a dispute over safety.

A Superior Court judge in June upheld the city's plan to evict the club and a month later issued an order attaching the club's identifiable assets -- including eight leased airplanes -- for payment of attorney fees, court costs and back rent, a debt estimated to be about $147,000. The court case is moving forward, and the judge will decide what assets, if any, can be seized.

Polley said the club plans to move from the airport by the end of the week. "We're looking for volunteers to help," he said.

In place of Ray's Flying Club, Polley said, he plans to start a club under a different name based at La Verne's Brackett Field airport, about 23 miles northeast of Fullerton.

"I'm going to borrow money from some friends," he said. The club will lease at least one airplane, a Cessna 150, from a private source.

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