by Dave Weiman
Published in Midwest Flyer – August/September 2018 issue
Under the leadership of Steve Guetter, President of the Minnesota Seaplane Pilots Association (MSPA), the organization’s annual safety seminar and fly-in, May 18-20, 2018 at Madden’s Resort on Gull Lake, Brainerd, Minnesota, was a success!
Safety seminars may have dominated the event, but the greatest event featured Jeff Skiles, First Officer of U.S. Airways Flight 1549, “Miracle on the Hudson.”
On January 15, 2009, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and Skiles landed an Airbus A320-214 safely in the Hudson River on what was to be a routine flight from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte, N.C. About 3 minutes into the flight during their initial climb-out, the aircraft struck a flock of Canada geese, causing both engines to quickly lose power. All 155 passengers and crew onboard evacuated the aircraft safely. Skiles, who obtained his seaplane rating following the incident, shared the harrowing experience with fellow pilots, which he believes was anything but a miracle. Rather, Skiles attributes the successful outcome to pilot skill, teamwork, training and an airplane that floated. Other special guests at the safety seminar included AOPA President & CEO Mark Baker, who was the featured speaker at last year’s banquet.
Safety seminar speakers included Rachel Obermoller, Jeff Flynn, Chris Morgan and Kevin Carlson of the Minnesota DOT Office of Aeronautics; Kevin Morris of the Federal Aviation Administration; Chris Lofstuen of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Michael Freeman of U.S. Customs & Border Protection; Richard McSpadden of the AOPA Air Safety Institute; Derwin Hammond of Lake Hood Seaplane Base; Dr. Jack Shelton, who spoke on spatial disorientation; retired air traffic controller, Mark Schreier; and retired Air Canada pilot, Pete Firlotte.
Whether seaplane rated or not, the annual safety seminar is worth attending, as much of the information presented can be applied to both floatplane flying and flying on wheels, and Madden’s on Gull Lake can accommodate both! The resort operates Steamboat Bay Seaplane Base (M16) on Gull Lake, and East Gull Lake Airport (9Y2), which is located adjacent to the resort. Courtesy shuttle service is provided between the airport and the resort (www.maddens.com).
The purpose of the Minnesota Seaplane Pilots Association is to promote seaplane flying and safety programs pertaining to seaplane operations throughout the state; promote a forum for the purpose of approaching government officials, to educate them, the legislature and the public on seaplane operations; and create safe and compatible seaplane base facilities throughout the state of Minnesota (www.mnseaplanes.com).