Airplanes and Minnicock Lake
By Brian Hicky
Some of you are aware that I have been working on my pilot’s license during the past year. This has been a challenging undertaking that is often described as equivalent to a year of university in terms of cost, commitment required and time. A friend of mine has landed his floatplane on Minnicock Lake once during the summer of 1997 and on Wednesday, July, 1, 1998. Both of these landings were handled in a safe and legal fashion.
On Monday of the August long weekend this past summer, many of us were shocked when a floatplane buzzed Minnicock in an illegal and dangerous low-level, full-power fly by. I received a phone call from a concerned neighbour who thought I might be associated with this activity. I have no idea who was flying this airplane in such a reckless and dangerous manner, and unfortunately was not able to identify the airplane’s registration to report the illegal activity. If anyone did note the registration I will gladly report the incident to Transport Canada.
Since this incident, our Newsletter editor asked me if I could write an article for the fall edition to explain some of the facts and rules associated with floatplanes. I gladly complied and the following are some basic facts associated with the legal operation of floatplanes.
It is the pilot’s responsibility when landing, to maintain a 500 foot vertical or horizontal distance from boaters, swimmers etc., on a lake’s surface. While taxiing or taking-off on water, boating rules apply to the airplane. Airplanes are not designed for recreational water activities and should only be used for take-off and landing purposes.
Ecological Concerns: Numerous studies show floatplanes do not pose a threat to a lake’s ecological system or wildlife. The airplane engine is an air-cooled four-stroke design similar to an automotive engine and exhausts into the air, unlike a boat motor which typically directs its exhaust into the water to reduce noise. The plane’s floats are the only contact with the water.
Noise: Landing and taxiing create a noise level similar to small boats on Minnicock Lake. Noise during take-off is certainly much louder, although lasting approximately 30 seconds similar to a brief thunderstorm or the fireworks we occasionally hear at the lake.
My Plans: I do not plan to keep a floatplane on Minnicock Lake, although I would like to occasionally land on the lake in a safe and legal fashion. Most residents I have talked to are not opposed to this activity. If anyone has concerns I would certainly like to hear and discuss them. We appreciate the tranquility of the lake and certainly do not want to upset any of our neighbours if we arrive by airplane rather then by automobile.