FILE - Coast Guard and Gulf Shores police investigators on Monday were still trying to piece together how a seaplane got into the same airspace as a parasail.
(Press-Register/John David Mercer)
GULF SHORES, Alabama -- Coast Guard and Gulf Shores police investigators on Monday were still trying to piece together how a seaplane got into the same airspace as a parasail, cutting the tow ropes to the parasail and sending two riders floating to the water.
Detective Chad Lambert with the Gulf Shores Police Department said that either the Federal Aviation Administration or Coast Guard would determine whether the plane was too low or the parasail was too high.
Ensign Tim Miller, assistant public affairs officer with the Coast Guard, was unable to say whether the plane’s pilot might face any disciplinary action.
The Saturday afternoon incident occurred near the main beach at Gulf Shores. According to police, the plane, which carried only the pilot, struck the parasail tow line between 2:30 and 3 p.m.
"The parasailers were recovered by the parasailing boat," Miller said.
According to Lambert, the parasailers were a 31-year-old man and a woman in her 20s. After initially refusing treatment, they were checked by paramedics and one of them was transported to South Baldwin Regional Medical Center in Foley, Lambert said.
The aircraft, an Aerofab Inc. model Lake LA-250 "Lake Amphibian," received engine damage when the tow line caused a propeller to break apart.
The plane made an emergency landing in the water farther down the beach. The pilot was uninjured, according to police.
The names of the pilot and parasailers may be released today, Lambert said.
In March 2004, a banner plane flying near the Gulf Shores beach collided with the tow lines of a parasail that was 250 to 300 feet aloft.
The FAA later ruled that parasails cannot rise above 500 feet, according to an agency memorandum from November 2009.
Saturday’s accident has refocused concerns about congested air space at the beach, according to Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon.
Kennon said that Orange Beach plans to send letters to parasail operators to learn about their registration status with the FAA. Unregistered operators could be at risk of losing their city business licenses, he said.
"We’re also going to look at what height they’re pulling these parachutes at and should we limit them to below 500 feet or as low as 300 feet," Kennon said.
Information from: http://blog.al.com