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Protect Our Waters

April 13, 2009

Without water to land on, a seaplane is of little value. The function of SPA, its Board of Directors, its Executive Director and the Field Directors is to preserve and enhance the ability to operate seaplanes. This falls into to categories. The first is to keep open those waters currently available for seaplane use. The second is to obtain seaplane operating rights for those waters not currently open.

Water landing rights are either expressly granted as by historical transportation use in rivers and natural lakes, or specifically granted such as that given by man-made reservoir owners. The task for the SPA then is to prevent the prohibition of seaplane operations on the first type of waters and advocate for seaplane use from the second.

There are many reasons why public officials elect to prohibit seaplanes from operating on the waters under their jurisdiction. Historical examples have been noise, perceived safety threats and perceived difficulty of “controlling” seaplanes. Recall that boats have to launch from the shore, and the law enforcement officials feel comfortable dealing with the errant boater at the shoreline. Seaplanes on the other hand, leave the water by going into the air and the law enforcement officials have lost the element of control. Their solution then is to prohibit seaplane operations so they don’t have to deal with the situation. SPA and the seaplane pilots have done a good job in convincing the lake managers and the general public that we are considerate, safety conscious operators.

A new threat to seaplane operations has come up, the transmission of Invasive Species by seaplane. While boats can be inspected at the shoreline before they launch, seaplanes arrive from the air and cannot be inspected before they enter the water. There have already been several lakes in California where seaplane operations have been denied due to this issue and more lakes are being considered for this restriction.

SPA and the seaplane pilots again need to become proactive with this issue also. SPA has been doing a very good job bring this issue to the membership though articles on the SPA website, in the Newsletters and in the Water Flying magazine. We seaplane pilots need to do our part as well. Suggested preventative measures for seaplanes can be found at: . Let’s each take the initiative and again show the public officials and the general public that we are concerned, caring stewards of the environment in which we operate. Remember, we also need to “protect our waters”.

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