MOJAVE — Officials at the Mojave Air and Space Port are debating a proposed policy that would govern the ability of people to take photographs or film at the public facility.
The policy was brought up during the governing board meeting Tuesday as part of an update to the administrative code regarding airport use.
It states that the airport district “strictly prohibits unauthorized filming and photography on airport property,” and that such activity is only allowed with a license or special permit.
“It sounds like nobody’s ever going to be able to use a camera legally on this airport,” Director Bill Deaver said, asking that it be clarified to qualify the restriction to photography or filming for commercial use.
Home to a number of innovative aerospace firms, some with sensitive projects, airport officials frequently face concerns from tenants regarding public photography of their products on the flightline, General Manager and CEO Karina Drees said.
During the work week, visitors will leave the public Voyager restaurant by the exit to the flightline, then take photos of objects of their interest down the flightline from the restaurant. Airport security is tasked to handle the issue and ask them not to take pictures.
“That’s what we’re trying to avoid,” she said, adding the policy was intended to back up the tenants’ request for help.
The issue is separate from public events such as the monthly Plane Crazy Saturday, which is intended to allow visitors to see and photograph aircraft displayed on the flightline, she said.
Airport counsel Scott Nave said the policy “to a large degree” refers to commercial use. However, the ramp area is property under the airport’s control, and therefore airport officials are able to set policy regarding actions while on it. They can not, however, prohibit photography from off the airport property, taking pictures “through the fence.”
Board members disputed the extent of this authority, as the airport is a public-use airport, “the taxpayers’ property,” as Director David Evans put it.
“What about taking a picture through the window of the Voyager? We’re running into a common sense problem here,” Deaver said.
Board President Andrew Parker asked about enforcing the policy. “Are we supposed to confiscate cameras?” he said.
Scaled Composites President Ben Diachun, representing one of the companies that has long harbored sensitive projects at the airport, said his firm understands people will be outside and see anything they roll out of their hangars.
Their concern, however, is primarily for the safety of those who stray from the back door of the Voyager and venture down the flightline to get a closer look, and they appreciate the airport’s help to enforce that separation.
The board agreed to consider a revised version of the policy at its next meeting.
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