Did The Airport Commission Make The Right Call?
After months of uncertainty, Taconic Aviation has been granted space to operate a scenic flight and flight instruction business at Harriman-and-West Airport.
The Berkshire Eagle reports that the Airport Commission unanimously granted Taconic Aviation the use of city-owned hangar space at the airport yesterday, despite pushback from angry airport users and residents. Concerns from the public were about owner Alex Kelly's personal behavior and criminal history.
Alex Kelly became notorious when, after being accused of raping two students in his upper-class community in Connecticut, he was later also charged with drug possession and two counts of kidnapping. He fled the country and went to Europe. He escaped capture for years, thanks in part (according to the FBI) to the financial support of his parents.
His story was the subject of endless media coverage, including a made-for-TV movie, and he was eventually extradited back to the U.S. after surrendering to Swiss authorities. In 2007, he was released after serving a decade in prison.
Kelly was released in 2007 with credit for good behavior and has not been arrested since after he spent a decade in prison for the 1986 rapes of a 16-year-old girl and 17-year-old within the course of a week.
The state and Federal Aviation Administration do not prohibit people with criminal records from operating skydiving schools.
Kelly worked for six years, until 2014, as a skydiving instructor in Ellington Connecticut
According to a 2015 Associated Press article that was in the Hartford Courant, Kelly eventually left Connecticut Parachutists due to erratic behavior that involved punching one skydiver for touching his equipment and groping a male skydiver’s genitals.
Labor Department documents obtained by the AP through a Freedom of Information request showed that Kelly had also threatened a pilot with bodily harm in an argument over the use of an aircraft.
In August 2015, he was reported to have purchased a Cessna 182 airplane, and to have filed paperwork starting his own businesses, Freefall Aviation LLC and Para-Lease LLC.
As of February 2017, Kelly is a certified flight instructor and is the owner of Green Mountain Skydiving in Bennington Vermont.
As of May 2018 Kelly is also the owner and tandem skydive instructor of Berkshire Skydiving in North Adams. He participates in tandem jumps with both female and male customers.