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Fullerton officials deny improperly forcing air-combat fantasy camp out of its longtime airport home

FULLERTON – City officials are pushing back against a lawsuit alleging that they improperly forced an aerial-combat fantasy camp out of its longtime home at the Fullerton Airport, as the City Council has approved a new tenant for the business’ former hangar.
City officials on Tuesday evening released a statement saying that Air Combat USA failed to exercise an option to extend its lease in a timely fashion, contradicting a claim raised by the business in a recently-filed lawsuit that the city refused to negotiate an extension.
Attorneys for Air Combat USA, in a civil lawsuit seeking $450 million dollars in damages, allege that the Fullerton Airport manager colluded with ex-employees who had unsuccessfully attempted to wrest control of the company from Michael J. Blackstone following the death of his father, the company’s founder.
Air Combat USA, which offers fliers flights that simulate air-to-air combat, has since 1981 operated at the Fullerton Airport.
The lawsuit alleges that city correspondence received by the company shows the airport manager “collaborating” with an ex-Air Combat USA employee to craft a competing bid for the hangar used by the business.
Air Combat USA was allowed to stay in the hangar until the city decided which proposal to accept, according to the city. The company moved out Aug. 31.
The city also noted that an inspection of the hangar after Air Combat USA’s departure turned up “considerable damage.”
“A police report was filed and initial insurance reports indicate the damage is estimated at over $85,000,” the city statement said, indicating that the matter has been turned over to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for review.
The Fullerton City Council on Tuesday night approved a 10-year lease with Hangar 21 Helicopters, a company that has operated in other parts of the airport since 2015. According to city staff reports, Hangar 21 Helicopters offers aerial sightseeing, as well as rental space for weddings, and corporate and private events.
Earlier on Tuesday, attorney’s for Air Combat unsuccessfully sought a temporary restraining order to prevent the council from approving the Hangar 21 Helicopters lease. A Orange County Superior Court judge turned down the request, determining that he didn’t have the authority to prevent council members from “engaging in a legislative act.”
Source: Oc Register

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