Moss Point Skydiving Business In Jeopardy - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/06/05

Moss Point Skydiving Business In Jeopardy

It only takes 30 seconds for 23 skydivers to jump out of a plane.

Within two minutes, they've fallen 14 thousand feet to the ground.

Sounds scary, but it's that thrill that keeps thousands coming back to Gold Coast Skydiving at the Trent Lott International Airport in Moss Point.

"It's fun. Come out and skydive. We've made so many friends out here.It's almost like a new community," Skydiver from Lafayette, LA. Annett Gannard says.

Usually that little community does big business this time of year during Mardi Gras.

But owner Mike Igo says recent problems between him and airport leaders is jeopardizing his business.

"I wasn't able to advertise it because I couldn't accommodate the crowds that we normally draw," Igo says.

He couldn't advertise because the airport board told him to tear down his event facility where customers gear up and prepare to sky dive.

He says without that facility, he can not accommodate the thousands who travel to participate.

"Because I couldn't advertise it, it's down about 90% than it was last year," Igo adds.

When he asked airport officials for a reason,"he said,'well we have future development plans for that area.',"Igo says.

Sagging business isn't Igo's only problem, airport leaders have also evicted him after they say he failed to remove trailers from the property.

"I have employees that come as far west as Lafayette and as far east as Fort Walton Beach, FL. They stay in those trailers for the weekend because we are a weekend only operation."

Airport authorities say the trailers are a safety concern and violate Igo's contract with the Airport.

Igo says it's nothing more than a petty personal attack and adds his business brings in big bucks for the city.

"We put about 2 million dollars a year into the Moss Point economy<" Igo says.

His customers agree.

"The stores, the motels are full each weekend with all of our people out here. The restaurants, the bars," Employee Jean Underwood says.

Igo says he would hate for the city to loose the revenue and for himself to loose a business.

His customers, they just want to have a place they can call home where they feel the need for a sometimes scary but thrilling ride.

By Jaimee Goad

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