Friday, July 27, 2012

Wisconsin - Door County Sheriff’s Department and the FAA would like to talk to the pilots of two planes that flew dangerously low at the Cana Island Lighthouse

Low-flying planes buzz Cana Island Lighthouse 

Pilots may face FAA fines, sanctions  

Authorities are looking for pilots of two small planes that they say flew dangerously low at the Cana Island Lighthouse on Thursday. 

 The Door County Sheriff’s Department and the Federal Aviation Administration would like to talk to the pilots of two small planes that flew dangerously low at the Cana Island Lighthouse on Thursday.

As tourists and other visitors looked on in alarm, the planes flew above and below the power and telephones lines between the mainland and the island, clipping the phone wire.

The FAA is investigating the incident, spokeswoman Elizabeth Corey said Friday.

“Careless and reckless operation is a violation of FAA regulations, and we can level fines and/or other penalties including suspension to revocation of their license, based on the investigation,” Corey said.

According to Cana Island site manager, Dwight Zeller, at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday two planes circled the island, flying below the tree line.

The single-engine planes then flew over the causeway that connects the island to the peninsula. Stretching across the causeway are power lines and a telephone wire. One airplane flew over the lines and the other tried to fly under them.

The pilot did not make it all the way under the wires and clipped the telephone line with the plane’s vertical stabilizer, which is located on the tail of the plane. The plane left white paint on the line and may have a damaged vertical stabilizer.

Zeller was not an eyewitness to the event.

The plane is described as a white with red trim, single-engine, high wing taildragger airplane with large tundra tires. The plane is registered in the United States and the red registration number has a 5 in it, Zeller said.

“The thing that is important is the fact that it has the tundra tires,” he said. The tires are not standard and are something the pilot would have had to modify.

At the time of the incident about 50 people were coming and going from the island, he said.

“We have two pilots operating obviously in a very dangerous manner, and it could have been a lot worse,” Zeller said.

Door County Sheriff Terry Vogel said that deputies measured the distance between the power lines and ground at 28 feet.

After the planes passed over the causeway, they circled back.

“(It’s) at that point that folks started getting a little nervous,” Zeller said.

Vogel said the department is also investigating a call Friday afternoon from a resident on Glidden Drive who snapped photos of two low-flying planes.

There is no restriction regarding how low a plane can fly over water, but over land aircraft have to be at least 500 feet off the ground, Vogel said.

The Sheriff’s Department is working with the FAA on the case. Anyone with information on the airplanes can contact the Door County Sheriff’s Department at (920) 746-2400.


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