Monday, January 11, 2010

Planes in the Middle of the City on Lake Calhoun

In a funny news item today, I drove right by Lake Calhoun today and somehow missed this. In a lake surrounded by traffic on all sides, walkers and bikers on the paths, and perhaps even a couple of ice houses in the middle of it, there are two small planes sitting on it today. According to the Star Tribune:

Two small airplanes have landed on frozen Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis for a lunch Monday afternoon and are parked there awaiting federal clearance for takeoff, authorities said.

Park Police Capt. Robert Goodsell said that the two single-engine planes are sitting on very thick ice on the north end of the urban lake, and both pilots were ticketed. The planes landed about noon on one of Minneapolis' most famous bodies of water and went to eat lunch nearby, Goodsell said.

"The pilots are cooperative ... and contrite," the captain said.

A Federal Aviation Administration official was on his way to the scene to size up the situation before the planes can take off, Goodsell said. That clearance was expected later this afternoon.

City ordinance says that the landing or taking off of aircraft of any kind is prohibited from park land without first receiving a permit.

Goodsell said the city would never grant such a permit unless it were for a special event. He said that while landings on lakes in cities as close as Plymouth or White Bear Lake might be common, planes using lakes as runways in Minneapolis cause too much disruption with traffic and pedestrians.

First of all, I never think of the ice being all that thick there - although it has been especially cold this year. But airplanes? When the lake isn't frozen over, I've seen it full of many things...windsurfers, canoes, and sailboats. But, to see two planes sitting there, that is a first.

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