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Urban Lake Landing May Prove Costly to Minnesota Pilots

January 14, 2010Two Minnesota pilots found out Monday, January, that a typical wintertime flying activity is not allowed inside the Minneapolis city limits. On Monday, January 11, Hans Meyer, EAA 462629, of Burnsville, and Mike Doherty, of Le Sueur,  took advantage of the sparkly, sunny day and landed their Aeronca Champs on frozen Lake Calhoun near downtown Minneapolis.  Their destination was Burger Jones, an eatery across the street, for what they thought was a “$100 hamburger.”

But their lunch may end up costing much more as the two and their passenger were met by Minneapolis Park police upon their return to their airplanes.  After being informed that it was illegal to land on Lake Calhoun, the pilots were made to wait while the FAA inspected their aircraft and approved their departure, at the city’s request.

While it is legal to land on most Minnesota lakes, frozen or otherwise, landing inside the Minneapolis city limits is prohibited without a permit.  According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Meyer and Doherty did some preflight planning before making the flight by checking into federal and state regulations as well as the city’s website to see if landing on the lake was allowed. Park Police Capt Robert Goodsell said both pilots were cited for landing in a park without a permit. He said the parks department would never issue a permit for this activity unless it was a special event.

Albeit impromptu, the landing became a special event as seen in this WCCO-TV report, even providing some entertainment to a pair of ice fishermen.  The aftermath may not be as entertaining as both pilots are facing possible fines of up to $1,000. Hans Meyer contacted EAA seeking legal advice and was put in touch with a member of the EAA Legal Advisory Council.  Meyer declined to comment on the situation for now, but promises one heck of a hangar story once his pending legal issues are resolved.

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