Saturday, March 21, 2009

Water Ups and Downs

Spring is on the way, bringing rising lake levels, slightly warmer weather, and the GA pilot’s unique perspective on the season– a terrific view of the hundreds of solitary dogwood trees starting to bloom in the middle of the woods. Seaplane pilots will soon have more lake to play in with the water up, and in a few short months we’ll be sharing the water with recreational boaters again. And that means it’s time for a few seasonal reminders.

When the water comes up, lakes and rivers turn muddier, which makes it hard to see what we are landing into. The rising water also floats out lots of shoreline rubbish from the winter– mostly sticks and trees. If the water is flowing, these slightly or nearly submerged seaplane hazards may make a different pattern of waves in the water. If you see a strange smooth or oddly rough spot, beware.

It’s also important to remember that the water on some lakes can rise and fall dramatically overnight. If you beach your plane one night, by morning it may be floating or be high and dry. If you use wing tie-downs and ropes going into the ground, there is a hazard of wing damage or your airplane sinking should the water rise quickly. You might want to check out this link to the Lake Martin water level website, which contains daily updates on water levels and other good water resource links.

Enjoy the spring, and always remember how special being a pilot really is. If you can stop and actually smell the roses, however, you may be too low and too slow.