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Need your help—Petition for Indiana Seaplane Open Waters

Last post 02-10-2009, 5:51 PM by ayeav8. 3 replies.
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  •  01-30-2009, 7:26 AM 6443

    Need your help—Petition for Indiana Seaplane Open Waters

    To GA and especially seaplane supporters everywhere:

    Short version: 

    Please sign our online petition for increased seaplane access to Indiana waters at: http://www.petitiononline.com/inseapln

    Long version:

    The Indiana Seaplane Pilots Association (ISPA) is seeking help in with a state-wide seaplane issue that is heating up.

    Last week the INDNR announced two upcoming hearings (Feb. 3 and 4), about a proposed change in status for five lakes—currently classified as private-use landing areas—to public-use.

    Indiana, as you may know, is backwards when it comes to seaplanes. Unlike WI, IL, MI, MN, etc., where the rule is (more like) "open unless prohibited", the law in Indiana is "closed unless an approved seaplane landing area (base) exists." There are only four public-use seaplane bases out of over 750 lakes in the state.

    Since 1998, Randy Strebig, a Maule-driver and Seaplane Pilots Assn. field director from Ft. Wayne, has singlehandedly fought for more access. Through his efforts and those of his organization, ISPA, over time, INDNR and INDOT have granted a pilot program of private-use landing areas on 17 lakes. You have to get Randy's permission to land, but at least they're somewhat open. (Admittedly, requiring permission from a private individual to land on public waters is a screwy situation.)

    Now the INDNR has proposed changing the status of five lakes from private-use to public-use. This is a (small) step in the right direction. There is some concern that they might simultaneously try to restrict or close access, but we're hoping for a big show of support to avoid this.

    How to help:

    All seaplane supporters, worldwide:

    __ Write a letter of support to INDNR, with a copy to
    INDOT and our organization (see sample letter on the website)

    __ Sign our online petition at:
    http://www.petitiononline.com/inseapln

    __ Send this message to other supporters

    Supporters near NE Indiana (incl. , NW Ohio)

    __ Attend and speak at one or both meetings scheduled by INDNR
    for Feb. 3 and Feb 4.

    __ Write a letter to the editor of your local paper


    For more info, there is a briefing paper on the ISPA website at:

    http://www.seaplanepilots.org/inspa

    Thank you in advance for your support,

    Steve Whitney
    Webmaster, Indiana Seaplane Pilots Association
  •  02-02-2009, 5:21 PM 6454 in reply to 6443

    Re: Need your help—Petition for Indiana Seaplane Open Waters

    Last Call (before the public meetings*):

    Our thanks to over 500 people who have signed our online petition so far. If you haven't, please take a moment and sign at:

    http://www.petitiononline.com/inseapln

    The public meetings are tomorrow (Feb. 3, Angola, IN), and Wed. (Feb. 4, Columbia City, IN). If you want to send an e-mail inviting your friends to sign, visit:

    http://www.petitiononline.com/cgi-bin/mailpage.cgi?inseapln/petition.html

    Thanks so much. We are very hopeful about this small step in the right direction for seaplanes in Indiana.

    --Steve Whitney

    * -- You can still sign the petition or send a letter after Feb. 3-4; the issue will not be decided for some weeks or months to come.

    Edited by Steve Whitney (02/02/09 06:23 PM)

  •  02-07-2009, 7:13 PM 6481 in reply to 6454

    Seaplane Access Unopposed at Public Meetings

    [Following is a press release from the Indiana Seaplane Pilots Association, www.seaplanepilots.org/inspa Thank you to all who signed our petition, sent a letter, or otherwise expressed support.  It it not too late to sign the petition at www.petitiononline.com/inseapln]
    February 4, 2009
    For Immediate Release

    Seaplane Access Unopposed at Public Meetings

    Virtually no opposition seen to opening Indiana lakes to public use

    Angola, IN – Despite adverse weather and one cancelled meeting, supporters of opening Indiana lakes to public use by seaplanes turned out to give public comments to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (INDNR) and Department of Transportation (INDOT). The support was unanimous in favor of seaplanes.

    The first scheduled meeting, cancelled at the last minute by the state due to bad weather, still brought out over twenty attendees who engaged in an informal discussion. The second, a day later, drew unanimous support from all speakers in favor of more seaplane access.

    The first meeting, scheduled for Tuesday evening in Angola, IN was called off by INDNR hours earlier, when it became apparent that roads snarled by snowbound traffic and accidents would prevent state officials from attending. Representatives of the Indiana Seaplane Pilots Association and the national Seaplane Pilots Association were still on hand, and met to informally chat with a group of nearly two dozen who arrived to find the meeting cancelled. Attendees came from five states, including Florida.

    A rough show of hands indicated that approximately a third of the group were seaplane pilots, and another third were non-seaplane pilots who were in favor of the proposed change to open access to Indiana lakes. The remaining attendees were there to learn more about the proposal, without an opinion on it. No one expressed opposition to more seaplane access.

    The public meetings were called by INDNR to seek public comment on a proposal to change the status of five lakes, currently available to seaplanes only on a private-use basis, to public-use status.

    Indiana, unlike many other states, does not allow seaplane operations on a lake unless there is an established “seaplane base” (landing area) on the lake. In the entire state, there are only four existing public-use seaplane bases. States like Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota allow seaplanes on virtually any lake that has no local prohibition, totaling several thousand lakes.

    For the past ten years, the Indiana Seaplane Pilots Association (ISPA) has worked to establish a pilot program of private-use seaplane bases on seventeen lakes. Under the arrangement, seaplane users must request permission from the “airport manager”, to use the lake. No request has ever been denied, making the lakes effectively public-use in practice. The current proposal is to change the status of five of the largest of these lakes, Lake James, Lake Hamilton, Lake Wawasee, Lake Winona, and Lake Maxikuckee to public-use. The main outcome will not be to increase traffic significantly but to get rid of the private “middleman” needed to give permission to use what are otherwise public waters.

    The second scheduled meeting tonight at DNR regional headquarters in Columbia City, IN, was an even more impressive display of support for the plan. Over twenty members of the public attended. A petition of over 500 signatures in favor of the change was presented, along with letters from local mayors, businesses and individuals. Every person who spoke was in favor of the proposal, many favoring going even farther.

    “We commend you on this step, and suggest that you establish a partnership or task force with the seaplane community and other lake users to study ways that more lakes can be opened in the future,” said Randy Strebig, president of the ISPA. Mr. Strebig has led the effort to open more Indiana lakes for the past decade, sometimes almost singlehandedly.

    Steve Whitney spoke on behalf of the Seaplane Pilots Association, offering SPA’s help in a joint task force. Mr. Whitney also pointed out that seaplanes have a better safety record than boats. “Over 16 years in the U.S., there were over 100,000 boating accidents. During the same period, there were less than 300 seaplane accidents. Of those, only three involved people outside the seaplane,” said Mr. Whitney. “The facts are clear: If safety is your only goal, you should open up all the lakes to seaplanes…and close them to boaters,” he joked.

    Many people spoke against the imposition of any new restrictions, such as weekend bans, that might be imposed. “I am strongly in favor of opening these lakes,” said Paul Kreuter, a seaplane pilot from Lake Wawasee. “At the same time, I am strongly against any new restrictions.”

    Mr. Whitney pointed out that the case had already been proven. “These lakes have been essentially open to anyone who wanted to land on them for over 10 years,” he said. “There have been no problems. It’s easy to impose new restrictions if there are problems in the future. It’s very difficult to remove them if they are already in place.”

    The lack of opposition impressed Mr. Strebig. “If safety was truly a concern, there would be people here opposing this change. The meetings were well-publicized. The fact is, people like seaplanes on Indiana lakes. They are fun and interesting.”

    Lt. Mark Farmer, sitting in for Maj. Felix Hensley of the INDNR, said that the rulemaking process would incorporate the input provided at the public meetings into any rules changes that are put forth. Mr. Adam Fackler of INDOT was also present. He said that—if the change was approved—INDOT would apply to the Federal Aviation Administration for approval for the changes. The FAA would likely require another airspace analysis for each lake, a process that would likely take months.

    “We are very encouraged by tonight’s results,” said Mr. Strebig. “I think we may be on the verge of a significant change in how Indiana views and manages seaplanes. We need to keep pressing the issue and working cooperatively with the state and other lake users.”

    - end -
  •  02-10-2009, 5:51 PM 6492 in reply to 6481

    Ultraflight Radio interviews Randy Strebig

    [From UltraflightRadio.com:]

    Randy Strebig, Indiana Seaplane Pilots Assn.

    We talk with Randy Strebig, President of the Indiana Seaplane Pilots Association. He's been working to open more lakes for seaplanes in Indiana. Still, there are only four currently designated for public-use out of 750 in the state. He compares Indiana rules with other states in the region and talks about some of the things he has accomplished including getting an additional 17 lakes designated as "private-use" seaplane bases. Now access to those lakes may be at risk and he gives us the details. Indiana Seaplane Pilots Assn. (2/3/09)

    Link to listen:
    http://www.ultraflightradio.com/impodcast/2009/02/03/ufr090203b.mp3

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