Indoor skydiving facility coming to Middletown

Start Aviation LLC, which operates Start Skydiving at the Middletown Regional Airport, has signed a franchise agreement with iFly Corp. to build an indoor skydiving facility in the city, according to Matt Eisenbraun, the city’s economic development program manager.

The new project will be one of 15 vertical wind tunnels to open in the U.S. this year, Eisenbraun said. iFly operates 24 facilities around the world, including London, Dubai and Sydney, he said, and the closest site to Middletown will be a facility in Chicago that is scheduled to open this summer

The Middletown project will likely include a restaurant with office and classroom space. While the exact location of the new project is undetermined, one potential site is Middletown Regional Airport.

The attraction will complement the growing amenities and cluster of businesses at the airport, which include commercial aviation, flight schools and Start Skydiving, Eisenbraun said. He said the undeveloped acreage at the airport allows for business expansions that could support hundreds of jobs.

The airport is a “burgeoning asset” for the city, Eisenbraun said, creating economic development through increased tourism, aviation services and offering significant opportunity for future development.

The regional airport features the longest runway in the area at 6,100 feet; and its fixed base operator provides fuel sales and car rentals.

Start Skydiving is rated No. 1 by skydivers worldwide, according to dropzone.com; and is one of the top five largest and fastest growing drop zones in the world.

School board member lobbies

Katie McNeil, Middletown school board member, joined more than 750 school board and state school board association leaders last week in Washington, D.C., to advocate for strong public schools for all students.

She was there to participate in the National School Boards Association’s new Advocacy Institute. The focus of the Advocacy Institute centers on building year-round advocacy for public education and local school board governance in the public, legal and legislative arenas.

The members urged members of Congress to:

• Ensure adequate funding for education programs, including full funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Title I.

• Eliminate federal overreach and restore flexibility and governance to local school boards.

• Reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

McNeil said Congress and the U.S. Department of Education need to work to “ensure that all students are receiving the best education we can provide.”

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