Aviation

Petition to gauge interest in opening Kansas lakes to seaplane activity

The state’s aviation office is exploring whether to open up Kansas lakes managed by the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers to pilots flying float-equipped airplanes.

A petition is being circulated to measure the level of interest in opening the state’s lakes to seaplanes.

It’s the first step in a long process.

That initial step aims to understand the amount of interest in opening the lakes in Kansas to seaplane activity, information about the petition site said.

Iowa is exploring the same issue.

Pilots who sign the petition aren’t obligated to pursue a seaplane rating, the petition said.

Those signing are “simply stating that they support the effort to have the Corps consider opening up their lakes in Kansas and Iowa to boaters and pilots alike,” it said.

It comes down to whether the Corps of Army Engineers determines there’s enough market demand for it, said Jesse Romo, director of the Kansas Department of Transportation's aviation division.

Several pilots are interested as is a company in Topeka that wants to offer training to assist pilots who want to earn seaplane ratings, Romo said.

“We believe there’s a market for it,” he said. “Right now, we’re trying to document that demand.”

Boats and seaplanes can both enjoy the lakes, Romo said.

The seaplanes land in open spaces on the lake, then operate as a boat on the water, he said.

“The two can work in harmony,” Romo said.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @mmcmillin.

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