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June 17, 2019

Cyclist suing San Luis Obispo airport for jet blast that sent bikers flying into traffic

June 12, 2019
The main airport runway at San Luis Obispo Airport. (George Rose/Getty Images)

No sooner had a new connecting flight debuted between Dallas-Fort Worth and San Luis Obispo, California, than a jet blew a guy off his bike.

Now he’s suing the San Luis Obispo airport.

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Ross Pepper, 81, was not the only one thrown to the ground by the jet blast, The San Luis Obispo Tribune reported. He and eight others in a cycling group were “struck forcefully by the blast from an aircraft preparing to depart from the southeastern corner of the runway apron of the SLO Airport,” states the complaint quoted by the newspaper.

The air blast was strong enough to throw the octogenarian, who was riding low to the ground on a recumbent bike, and spin him around 180 degrees, the lawsuit said. He landed in the southbound lane of Highway 227 traffic, suffering “severe injuries and damaging his bike and property.”

Neither airport nor court officials were available for comment, but Rita Neal, counsel for San Luis Obispo County, told the newspaper that the local government had not yet seen the suit, though they were aware of Pepper’s claims.

While the lawsuit does not blame increased airline traffic for the incident, the airport has been expanding in recent years. Most recently it added a daily direct flight from San Luis Obispo to Dallas-Fort Worth, American Airlines announced in December. The regional hub has added a new terminal, four new daily flights and three new destinations in under two years, The San Luis Obispo Tribune reported last year.

San Luis Obispo and its airport have seen increased traffic and business activity as the tech sector moves in.

The $40 million terminal project was completed recently, and passenger volume has doubled in the past three years, The San Francisco Chronicle reported in May.

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