Floatplane Pilot Tells of His Alaskan Adventure At Private Potluck Fly-In

Published in Midwest Flyer – October/November 2018 issue

VERONA, WIS. – Each year, retired Dane County Deputy, Tom Kretchman of Verona, Wisconsin, opens up his private airport – Sugar Ridge Airport (WS62) – to the community for a potluck dinner. The event grows each year, attesting to the general public’s fascination with aviation. This year the potluck fly-in took place on August 16, 2018. Hundreds of people attended. In addition to a variety of conventional, antique and homebuilt aircraft, there were classic cars on display.

Among the pilots who flew in were Jeff and Patty Plantz of Madison, Wisconsin, with their J1 Super Cub lookalike homebuilt on amphibious floats, powered by a 180 hp Lycoming IO-360. The couple just returned from Alaska where they had an “incident” with the plane on Naknek Lake on July 22, 2018.

Jeff Plantz said that he landed safely on Naknek Lake, then proceeded to water taxi to the dock where his wife, Patty, was waiting to secure the aircraft. During his taxi, Plantz needed to turn crosswind and when he did, the wind lifted one wing, and pushed the other wing into the water. The floats kept the aircraft upright except for the wing in the water, which kept sinking. Finally, with the wind still blowing hard on the upright wing, the plane went inverted wingtip first. Plantz was able to get out of the aircraft and hang on to one of his floats until rescuers arrived.

Since there was no significant damage or injuries, the Federal Aviation Administration ruled the mishap an “incident,” and not an accident. In fact, once Plantz was able to upright the aircraft, it was inspected and he flew it home.

Jeff and Patty Plantz hope to return to Alaska in 2019.

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