Seaplane pilots in Indiana are working with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the state’s Department of Transportation to open more lakes to seaplanes.
“The issue is the Indiana Department of Transportation administrative code, which contains language that prohibits seaplane landings unless you establish a landing area,” explained Randy Strebig, president of the Indiana Seaplane Pilots Association. “That’s quite the opposite of regulations in neighboring states, which permit all landings on bodies of water unless otherwise prohibited.”
According to Strebig, the restrictive code was adopted more than 10 years ago after a seaplane landed on a lake, took on water and had to be towed to shore. Although no one got hurt, someone called law enforcement and the result was the adoption of the restrictive language, he said.
Since then, officials with the Indiana Seaplane Pilots Association have worked with the state to establish a network of 17 lakes with private-use seaplane landing areas. A new proposal from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources would grant public-use status to five of those lakes.
“We have worked hard to demonstrate that seaplanes can safely and effectively share Indiana’s waters,” commented Strebig. “Indiana lags far behind states like Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota in access for seaplanes to public waters. Those states have literally thousands of public-use landing sites for seaplanes. In Indiana, where the law is ‘no landings except on lakes with designated seaplane bases,’ there are only four lakes with designated public-use landing areas – four lakes out of over 700, that is,” he emphasized.
The big issue, according to Strebig, is concern over conflicts between boats and seaplanes.
“But there haven’t been any issues in more than 16 years,” he said. “Also, no one has been reprimanded or cited, as far as I know, for landing without permission.”
Strebig noted that most pilots are careful about operating on the water. “They don’t want to wreck their airplanes or get hurt,” he said.
There is a lot of red tape to cut through if you want to land on a body of water in Indiana, according to Strebig. Pilots who wish to keep their seaplanes at their homes must file applications with the Department of Natural Resources. Once a landowner gets permission to operate a landing area, he then must grant permission to other pilots to land there. That’s cumbersome, said Strebig.
“The way it works in other states is that you can land there as long as there isn’t a prohibition on it,” he said. “We’re trying to have that be the case in Indiana as well. We’re trying to make Indiana more seaplane friendly.”
The Indiana Seaplane Pilots Association is asking seaplane supporters across the nation to send letters and e-mails of support for the change to the Indian34a Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Department of Transportation.
For more information: SeaplanePilots.org/INSPA.