Couple wants to drop people over Carson City |

Couple wants to drop people over Carson City

Jill Lufrano

A Lake Tahoe-area couple wants to offer locals and tourists a birds-eye view of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada by dropping them out of an airplane and letting them float down over the capital city.

The operators of Skydive Lake Tahoe are proposing to offer their adventures from a base at the Carson City airport, but the idea has some officials concerned.

“In order for them to drop their people and have them float to the airport, they’ll be coming over the town,” said Airport Manager Yvonne Weaver. “They’d be dropping people in and over the state capital. Mixing the people with the airplanes doesn’t seem like a good idea.”

Amy Vail said Thursday she and her husband and partner, Mike, are planning to present their operations plan to the board in February.

The couple currently runs the small company from the Beckwourth Airport in the Sierra Valley by Portola, Calif.

By moving to Carson City, they would like to capture a larger tourist market, Amy Vail said.

“There are a lot more people in Carson and the South Lake tourist component of Reno and Carson is there,” she said. “The views would be beautiful.”

Mike Vail, a world champion skydiver, started Skydive Lake Tahoe seven years ago. He wanted to offer an experience where people could enjoy the sport in a relaxing and open area without the crowds of other skydiving venues, Amy Vail said.

“He wanted to have a business where people were really treated with a lot of respect and given the treatment he thought they deserved,” she said.

Customers are paired with an instructor for the tandem diving trips, Amy Vail said. The airplanes, piloted by Mike Vail, would fly around the skies above the airport until they were high enough to drop the parachuters. The small operation usually carries two teams of divers and two videographers.

“We have an excellent safety record. We’ve never had a problem with a tandem,” Amy Vail said.

Airport officials are concerned, however, with mixing parachuting tourists with the busy air traffic in the Carson area. Air safety requirements may make the plan undesirable for the airport, Weaver said.

The Airport Authority board didn’t reject the idea when it was presented last week but asked the Vails to return with more information.

“We didn’t want to just say no,” Weaver said. “These folks seem to have a good safety record, but we’re concerned with the safety of the people of Carson City as well.”

Contact Jill Lufrano at or 881-1217.