Thursday, September 21, 2000

Bad weather forced a seaplane pilot from St. Cloud, Minn. to land on Storm Lake Tuesday afternoon. The plane used its floats, which take the place of landing gear, to touch down safely on the windswept, drought-shallow lake in a light rain.

The pilot said that he was notified by radio that he was about to fly into a storm cell in the midst of a long-range trip, and spotted Storm Lake as his best alternative to land safely. Once down, the pilot allowed the plane to slowly drift unpowered across the lake, prompting concern from many onlookers. Eventually, the plane was in danger of being forced into the rocks of the jetty near Sunrise Park by the wave action, and the pilot chose to fire the engine and beach the plane rather than take a chance of damage. He planned to wait out the bad conditions aloft, and attempt to take off on the lake and resume his journey a few hours later Tuesday. Onlookers, some of whom have watched the lake for nearly half a century, said they know of no other plane to make a water landing here.

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