West Elk Air -Grand Teton's Aerial Drama - The old ABLE helicopter N708SD went from protecting the law to violating it!!

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West Elk Air -Grand Teton's Aerial Drama - The old ABLE helicopter N708SD went from protecting the law to violating it!!

Post by Brian »

West Elk Air - Grand Teton's Aerial Drama -
The old ABLE N708SD helicopter went from protecting the law to violating it!!
San Diego City sold the helicopter back in July,2020.


Armi Smith (Peter) - (scrippssmith) / Peter Scripps Smith
Owner @westelkair

The flights on June 24,2023.

https://flightaware.com/live/flight/N70 ... /KGUC/KRKS

https://flightaware.com/live/flight/N70 ... 0624/1529Z

https://flightaware.com/live/flight/N70 ... 0624/1630Z

https://flightaware.com/live/flight/N70 ... -110.72769

https://flightaware.com/live/flight/N70 ... 0624/2337Z

Man cited for illegally landing helicopter on west shore of Jackson Lake inside Grand Teton National Park

MOOSE, WY — On Saturday, June 24, at approximately 3 p.m. Grand Teton National Park law enforcement rangers received a report that a helicopter had illegally landed at Moran Bay on the west shore of Jackson Lake, inside Grand Teton National Park. Rangers responded by boat across Jackson Lake and found the helicopter and pilot Peter Smith, of Gunnison, Colorado, and a companion having a snack along the lake.

Smith was charged with two violations under the Code of Federal Regulations, “Operating or using aircraft on lands or waters other than at locations designated pursuant to special regulations” and “Use of aircraft shall be in accordance with regulations of the FAA.” Each violation is a Class B misdemeanor that could include up to a $5,000 fine and/or six months in jail. Smith is scheduled to appear in court before of a federal judge in Jackson, WY in August.

Smith was previously cited for flying a fixed wing aircraft below minimum safe altitude, against Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations in the Curecanti National Recreation, four months ago, in February 2023. Smith paid a $530 fine set by a federal judge.

The unauthorized landing of helicopters is prohibited on the lands and waters within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park in order to protect wildlife and other natural resources and to preserve the visitor experience.

Update 7-11-2023: The name of the park has been changed to Curecanti National Recreation Area, instead of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
https://www.nps.gov/grte/learn/news/man ... l-park.htm


Smith said he checked his maps before landing but the boundaries were unclear.
“We did not know we were in the park,” he said. “When you look down you see 10 motorboats circling around with water skiers, you don’t assume it’s a national park.”
Only two lakes in Grand Teton National Park allow motorized boats, Jackson and Jenny Lakes.
Smith wouldn’t discuss what he was doing in the area.

He did say he was annoyed at media reports stating that he and his passenger were having a picnic.
“All of these articles are coming up saying we had a picnic — there was no picnic,” he said.
“There was no enjoyment going on. We just landed there for 10 minutes before the U.S. Forest Service showed up. They gave us our ticket and then we were out,” he said.

https://cowboystatedaily.com/2023/07/10 ... -a-picnic/

Colorado man's 'illegal' heli landing is the latest spin in Grand Teton's aerial drama
Billy Arnold Jackson Hole News&Guide Via Wyoming News Exchange
July 14, 2023

Peter Smith, a Gunnison, Colorado, man who owns a business called West Elk Air, landed his helicopter on June 24 in Moran Bay in Grand Teton National Park.

JACKSON — When Grand Teton National Park announced Monday that a Colorado man illegally parked his helicopter on the west shore of Jackson Lake a few weeks ago, the pilot denied the park’s claim that he was “picnicking.”

Jackson Hole aviation watchdogs rolled their eyes.

https://www.wyomingnews.com/news/local_ ... 3b5b7.html

Colorado pilot facing charges after illegally landing helicopter inside Grand Teton National Park

A pilot from Colorado is facing charges after illegally landing his helicopter inside Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. The National Park Service took a photo that shows where Peter Smith set the aircraft down on the western shore of Jackson Lake. 

Park rangers said when they investigated, they found Smith and a companion picnicking nearby. 

Smith owns West Elk Air in Gunnison. He told the Associated Press that bad weather forced him to land and that his passenger was ill. 
This is not the first time Smith has been charged with violations at a National Park. In February, he was cited for flying a fixed-wing aircraft below safe altitude in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Western Colorado.
https://www.cbsnews.com/amp/colorado/ne ... onal-park/

Pilot charged for illegal Grand Teton National Park landing blames bad weather
July 10, 2023
A helicopter pilot faces up to $10,000 in fines and a year in jail for making an illegal lakeside landing in Grand Teton National Park. But whether he was justified by a weather emergency or set down just to have a picnic is in dispute.
Peter Smith, owner of air tour company West Elk Air, landed June 24 on the western shore of Jackson Lake, the National Park Service said in a statement Monday.
Landing a helicopter just anywhere, without good reason, is against Grand Teton rules to protect the park's wildlife and serenity.
Smith landed at an area inaccessible except by boat or by hiking at least 10 miles (16 kilometers) round trip. Park rangers who heard about the landing reached the site at the foot of the craggy Teton Range by boat.
They arrived to find Smith and a female companion having a picnic, according to the Park Service. Park officials declined to comment on any other reason Smith might have given for landing.
Reached by phone, Smith said bad weather forced him to land, and he was within his rights to do so under Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
“We were trying to cross over the Tetons and we couldn't, so we landed. We were not having a picnic. We were landing," he told The Associated Press.
The Teton Range is “notorious for bad weather,” and his passenger was ill, he added. He declined to say where they were coming from and going and if it was a hired or personal flight.
Smith declined to discuss his Gunnison, Colorado-based business, and the West Elk Air website wasn’t working Monday. FAA records online show the company owns two single-engine Cessna planes and a Eurocopter AS 350 B3, which can carry up to six passengers.
In February, Smith flew below safe altitude near western Colorado's Black Canyon of the Gunnison and paid a $530 fine, according to the National Park Service statement.
He is now charged with potentially more serious violations: flying outside designated by regulations and violating FAA regulations, each of which is a misdemeanor punishable by a $5,000 fine and six months in jail. His initial appearance before a federal judge in Jackson is set for Aug. 15.
Grand Teton is home to Wyoming's busiest commercial airport — Jackson Hole Airport, which brought almost 500,000 passengers to the ski and national park tourism destination in 2021 — but helicopter tours aren't as common in northwestern Wyoming compared with other scenic destinations. The Teton Range is a hotspot for heli skiing, or flying a helicopter to reach remote skiing terrain, but only outside Grand Teton and designated wilderness areas in winter.
Rescuers often fly injured climbers and hikers from remote reaches of the park by helicopter.
Surprise weather can indeed make flying tricky at times in Jackson Hole, where in 2020 more than a dozen people were hurt when three sightseeing balloons crashed in a downdraft. Smith wouldn't describe conditions when he landed but suggested
that's the fate he hoped to avoid.

"If that's the safe course of action, that's what needs to happen," he said.
https://news.yahoo.com/no-picnic-pilot- ... 02266.html
Colorado man faces $10,000 fine and up to a year in jail after illegally landing helicopter in Grant Teton National Park for a PICNIC

Peter Smith, who owns tour company West Elk Air, landed his chopper on the western shore of Jackson Lake inside Grand Teton National Park at about 3pm on June 24.

Smith's first appearance before a federal judge in Jackson, Wyoming is set for August 15th.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... ICNIC.html

https://www.9news.com/amp/article/news/ ... cd5e2168f6

https://ftw.usatoday.com/2023/07/us-man ... ional-park

https://www.ktvq.com/news/crime-watch/h ... ional-park

https://www.nbc11news.com/2023/07/11/gu ... utType=amp
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