A couple of pilots made the news today when they landed their skiplanes on Lake Calhoun (No, the video isn't from Lake Calhoun. Go here for an image from the lake). It also has gotten them in trouble, apparently. The Minnesota Parks Board prohibits landing an airplane on any lake within its jurisdiction.
Despite being the land of 10,000 lakes, very few in the Twin Cities are open to airplanes in any season.
In Hennepin County, for example, these are the only landing spots for ski/seaplanes:
Ox Yoke Lake
Here's the full list of lakes.
The pilots who landed their planes today, apparently to visit a nearby restaurant, have a good chance of having their flying licenses revoked or suspended.
I would guess there are all kinds of rules on non-airport landings. And those with ski/float style planes might get a healthy dose of "you can not land just anywhere".
Most amphib and skiplane owners are pretty sharp and follow the regs. BTW, I BELIEVE this lake is right on the edge of the airspace for Minneapolis St. Paul that goes right to the surface. So they got pretty close to violating that airspace. I wonder if they knew that. If they did, they probably also should've known you can't land on that lake.
Their best defense at this point is to say they thought their engines were running rough and they had to make an emergency landing. Either way, they're going to have to pay a visit to the FAA.
Even though I am not a pilot, I have many friends who run the gamut from single-engine Cessnas to pilots who are captains on 747s.
I would think that part of the training/continuing education process for any pilot would a working knowledge (at a minimum) of airspace restrictions, limitations and/or avionics requirements before just deciding to fly their skiplanes into this area?
In addition to the "ignorance is not a defense" piece, I would think these two would also get a bonus visit from TSA in addition to the FAA, or am I mistaken on that one?
they don't need a TSA visit unless the TSA wants to put on a show. Light planes pose very little security risk.
That said, there ARE already rules in effect that pilots are required to know. The STar Tribune this morning asserted that no federal regulations were broken. That's utterly incorrect. Pilots are required to know everything there is to know about a flight and obviously they didn't know everything there is to know. That's probably the provision the feds will 'ding' them on.
Private pilots, unlike drivers of cars, are REQUIRED to display this knowledge via one hour of instruction and and a flight "test" (although it's called a flight "review") every two years.
I'm pretty sure we can't drive our cars on the lake either, no matter how tempting the shortcut.
This somewhat reminds me of some of the Aviation Students at my college out here in Montana have told me... There's a town, I forgot which one, that is in the mountains near Yellowstone NP that has a runway that doubles as a highway. They shut the highway down to let planes land...
These pilots' licenses will not be suspended or revoked. The Minneapolis Park Police officer brought FAA representatives out on the ice to talk to the pilots. No Federal Aviation Regulations, or federal or state laws were broken. The pilots violated a local city ordinance, and were ticketed by the Park Police.
Actually, that's incorrect. Federal Aviation Regulations were broken.
Theoretically, the FAA could argue that landing on a lake was "reckless".
That would fall under FAR 91.13.
No person may operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.
But it's Part 91.103 that they violated:
Each pilot in command shall, before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning that flight. This information must include—
(a) For a flight under IFR or a flight not in the vicinity of an airport, weather reports and forecasts, fuel requirements, alternatives available if the planned flight cannot be completed, and any known traffic delays of which the pilot in command has been advised by ATC;
(b) For any flight, runway lengths at airports of intended use, and the following takeoff and landing distance information:
(1) For civil aircraft for which an approved Airplane or Rotorcraft Flight Manual containing takeoff and landing distance data is required, the takeoff and landing distance data contained therein; and
(2) For civil aircraft other than those specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, other reliable information appropriate to the aircraft, relating to aircraft performance under expected values of airport elevation and runway slope, aircraft gross weight, and wind and temperature.
Given that one of the pieces of information that was available -- fairly easily -- to the pilots was whether the lake they intended to land on allowed landings, it would be hard to argue that they didn't violate a pretty important provision.
That they were allowed to take off and the FAA showed up doesn't mean there won't be any enforcement action against them. More than likely, they'll get a call from the FSDO in Minneapolis, and invited to come and bring their logbooks with them, the factors that led up to the decision to land, the planning that the flight entailed will be reviewed and then the FAA will decide what action to take.
Granted, it's not like these folks attempted murder, but the FAA is pretty prickly about these sorts of things and would likely pursue some sort of resolution with the guys. It could be a suspension of a license or it could be a required session on how to plan for a flight. But the FAA will most likely come calling.
Ask me how I know.
You're not even allowed to fly model airplanes in the parks:
PB2-11. Model planes. No model airplane flying shall be permitted in parks, parkways or on playgrounds except under rules and regulations as may be prescribed by the board. (Code 1960, As Amend., § 1010.150; Pk. Bd. Ord. No. 78-108, § 1, 10-4-78)
Bob, take a look at these statutes, specifically subpart 6:
When lakes are frozen, aircraft equipped with either wheels or skis may operate on the lakes if such operations can be conducted in a safe and reasonable manner relative to lake traffic and use."
To suggest that their pilots' licenses could be suspended (or even revoked?!) is absurd and blowing it way out of proportion. They violated NO FAA rules, only a Mpls. City Parks ordinance, and that might even be super-ceded by the MN law cited above, which they will likely have to fight in court.
This is simply a "Nothing to see here, move along" story...
Derek, federal laws and regulations typically supercede state laws/rules. Also note that the law says "if such operations can be conducted in a safe and reasonable manner relative to lake traffic and use.
Well, sitting right under the approach to runway 12R at MSP hardly qualifies as "safe and reasonable." Lake Wheretheheckami in northern Minnesota is a whole different deal.
You may think it is funny, but as a frequent flier in and out of MSP, the idea of a near-miss or a mid-air collision with a bozo in a skiplane who feels like stopping for a hamburger is just plain stupid. If someone had a medical emergency on the skiplane, I'd be a lot more sympathetic.
Operations under the floor of the MSP airspace (known as Class B airspace) have nothing to do, really, with the safety or lack of it in regards to proximity to the airspace. By definition, airspace that these pilots were operating in was exactly the same as airspace out in Lake Wheretheheckami.
Airplanes operate in that airspace all the time, john, and it doesn't endanger the MSP traffic at all.
The airspace is tiered so the approach to the MSP runways are well protected. The closer you get to MSP, the lower ot the surface the Class B airspace gets.
Around Target Center it drops to the surface. Around Lake Calhoun, if memory serves, it's 2300 feet. Go out a couple of miles it's 4,500 and around Lake Minnetonka it's anyone's game. Those figures are based on the altitude of the inboad (and outbound) jetliners. The airplanes operating -- legally -- in the airspace are no factor to the big airport.
Derek, as I already indicated, the only rules that apply here are the FAA rules. And I already cited the ones that apply here. Why exactly do you think they don't apply?
The violation of the FARs (the federal rules) encompasses the the state statute and the Parks Board rules because knowing what those rules are *IS* an obligation that's set forth in the federal rules.
The other claim that one could make is that another FAR was violated, flight below 1,500 feet over congested areas.
For those of us who fly, there's no such thing as rules being blown out of proportion. It either is a rule, or it isn't a rule.
If the FAA wants to ding these guys, they'll have no problem finding an FAR to hang it on. It's just a question of whether they want to. The FAA is *very* much interested in setting examples.
I'm sure these guys are nice guys. They've certainly got nice planes and clearly they know how to handle them. They're probably a lot of fun. Who doesn't like the veritable "$100 hamburger"? Most pilots are very interested in projecting a professional attitude towards flying. "Whoops, we didn't know," doesn't help. People make mistakes but the FAA is very interested in making sure they don't make them more than once.
Thank you for the clarification, Bob. Most appreciated.
If you're going to point out lakes in Hennepin County where you can land a plane, you should clarify which Diamond Lake is OK. It's not the one in MPLS. - that's a city park too. It must be the other Diamond Lake, the one in Rogers.
It wasn't a whoops we didn't know, it was "we contacted the MSP ATC, they not only gave their blessing, but also said have fun we're jealous." Class B airspace goes to the surface on the East side of the lake from 31st St. down to a beach on the south end. Even then it's not a big deal to conduct the proper procedures and gain entry into the class Bravo airspace The MN State guidlines allow for "Ski Planes" to land on the lake. Ref below listed website. The journalist here did a great job listing unapproved lakes for Seaplanes. They were not flying seaplanes. The facts were wrong in this article. The FAA FSDO did conduct a ramp check and found everything to be "unremarkable." The FAA had no issue with what the pilots did!!! Stating the pilots "may" have their "Licenses" revoked is a stretch. Technically according to the FAA it is not a License it is a "Certificate." They are different.
Please note the first statement:
Subpart 1. Scope. This part covers only seaplane operations on all public waters within the following counties: Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington. This part does not apply to aircraft equipped with either skis or wheels when public waters are frozen
Dump the rhetoric about the FAA, that is a dead end leed.
The true issue is jurisdiction. The State Law, states that said pilots are legal to land on Lake Calhoun. Park Board Ordinance states you must first have a superintendents permission to land. The question is who trumps who?
PS try and look up "landing permission on Lake Calhoun" on any City/State Govt website. Good luck trying to find this "Park Board Ordinance." If the City wants to make their own rules about aviation they need to properly notify the FAA so that the information can be disseminated through the proper channels to pilots.
I assume you're a pilot, Ian. Can you point me to the FARs whether the distinction of open water vs. frozen is made. I can't seem to locate it at the moment.
Here is a FAA website for both Seaplanes and Ski Planes.
For the non avaition savy folks it's akin to applying the the rules that apply to motorcycles and applying them to a person driving a semi. Yes they both have wheels and a engine but they are different machines.
The FAA makes a distinction between what type of aircraft shall be used on water vs frozen. You cannot land a ski plane on water and you cannot land a seaplane on ice. The issue is the type of aircraft used. The previously stated minnesota website does this differentiation as well. It does state that seaplanes are restricted, it however does give relief for Ski planes.
Hey Bob. After reading your article I have to complement you on your surpurb speculative journalism.
Lets look at the laws in question from the top down. Starting at the federal level, in case you didn't know, A spokesperson from the FAA went on record Monday evening stating the pilots did not violate any FARs. Did you check on who the FAA officials were that came to the lake for the pre-takeoff inspection? My money is that they were from the MSP FSDO! As for 91.13 careless and reckless. The feds let them take off right? Also the park police said, on record, the lake was virtually void of obstacles. As for the low flying restriction... Geez Bob, as a pilot yourself you ought to know that 91.119 says minimum of 1000ft over congested areas vice the 1500ft you quoted above. I'm confident you also know that the altitude limitation is exempt for purposes of take off and landing.
Now lets have a peek at the Minnesota statute 8800.2800, subpart 1 and 6 are of interest and also grossly misconstrued in your original article. If you read it carefully you will see that ski and wheeled planes actually are allowed on Lake Calhoun whilst frozen.
The only issue here is between the pilots and the Minneapolis Park Board.
After reading your comments it sounds like you have a personal beef with these pilots. Why? You seemingly want to hang them out to dry on a FAR 91.103 technicality.
Perhaps you should let this pass and invite them to chew the beef over a burger sometime.
Hi Jack. I can't debate you because you're asking me to defend a position I've never taken. I've already mentioned what I think about the pilots (it was favorable), but that's irrelevant. What I wrote (in a post while the planes were still on the ice) was the FAA could ding the pilots *if they wanted to.* Is the FAA pretty aggressive in these things. Yes, they are. That's why the first thing we do is head for the nearest NASA form any time there's the least possibility of an infraction. You're a pilot. You know that.
I said what 91.13 said and that's what it said. 91.103 is what it says it is, and describes what pilots are required to know before the flight.
Is not knowing acceptable to the FAA? Apparently. But from the FARs, as I said, *if* the FAA wanted to ding these guys, that's what they'd use. I didn't write the FARs, I'm just telling people what they are. How and whether an authority chooses to apply them is entirely up to them. I've got better things to do than campaign for action against pilots.
The facts are what the facts are and have nothing to do with whether I do or don't want something to happen. That said, it was wrong to say there was a 'good chance' of FAA action. There is, obviously a chance. BTW, I skidded on ice on a hold-short line a few weeks ago and I was still allowed to take off. That didn't preclude me from getting the opportunity to meet my new friends at the FAA.
Personally, I'd rather have general aviation portrayed in a more positive light but that's the way it goes; Things don't always go the way we'd like.
Thanks for writing. I appreciate the corrections and clarification.