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SJ
05-07-2004, 12:00 PM
7th May 2004

To: Montana Pilots' Association Recreational Airstrip e-mail Group

Subject: Larry Hoyer's Super Cub ice landing

The following is from Larry Hoyer regarding his trial over landing his Super Cub on the ice of Fort Peck Lake. He landed with wheels in the winter time on the ice in an area that was legal for seaplane use. He was charged with an illegal landing. Larry chose to fight the charge and the following is his description of the outcome.


Greetings: After a year and a half fight, the Hon. Judge Jerry Schuester ruled yesterday in Federal Court, in favor of the AIRPLANE in the matter of the ice landing on Fort Peck Lake. It was a long, costly, hard fought battle and I'm elated that it's over!

A big thanks to the MPA and all of my supporters. Special thanks to Lanny Hansen, Bob Lipscomb, Jim Rea, Jeff Skyberg (Circle Aviation), Chuck Manning, and the entire Valley Hangar group.

Now it's time to get on with a safe, viable Fort Peck Lake landing plan that affords all pilots the same opportunities as everyone else using this resource . This plan revision is long overdue.

Thanks Again,

Larry Hoyer

AlaskaAV
05-07-2004, 05:19 PM
Boy, the powers at be could sure have nailed us for landing our 737s on wheels on frozen lakes on the North Slope of Alaska. Would you suspect they didn't was because the huge oil industry stopped them? Money talks some say.

Ernie

N3243A
05-07-2004, 06:33 PM
Ernie, I don't think it was "big oil" that would have halted any objection to landing on the north slope lakes with a 737. I don't think that there would be any objection then. That was 30 years ago, a different time, a different mentality, and no where near the greenies we have now. Imagine trying to build the pipeline now. I doubt it could be done with the current environmental strangleholds in place.

Mr. Hoyers experience reminds me of the poor guy who landed on the ice on lower Red Lake near an Indian reservation in MN a few years back. Can't remember exactly what happened but he was either fined excessively or his aircraft was impounded or both. Makes me glad things are still relatively free up here, such non-sense just turns me off.

By the way, what was the necessary ice thickness required to support a 737?

Bruce

AlaskaAV
05-08-2004, 06:13 PM
Ernie, I don't think it was "big oil" that would have halted any objection to landing on the north slope lakes with a 737. I don't think that there would be any objection then. That was 30 years ago, a different time, a different mentality, and no where near the greenies we have now. Imagine trying to build the pipeline now. I doubt it could be done with the current environmental strangleholds in place.

Mr. Hoyers experience reminds me of the poor guy who landed on the ice on lower Red Lake near an Indian reservation in MN a few years back. Can't remember exactly what happened but he was either fined excessively or his aircraft was impounded or both. Makes me glad things are still relatively free up here, such non-sense just turns me off.

By the way, what was the necessary ice thickness required to support a 737?

Bruce.

Thanks for the comments. Appreciate them.

Didn't some private pilot get busted and fined lately for landing on a highway somewhere when he had an inflight mechanical emegency?

What I really meant was that it was big oil that "encourged" the FAA to authroize our ice operations on short notice. We knew it was safe. Gee, we had been landing on frozen lakes for some 40 years at the time with everthing from C-46s down to open cockpit aircraft. I have many photos of some of our aircraft that went through the ice and the stories about the fantastic mechanics that woud go out and rebuld them and get them ready to fly while living in tents at 30 below zero. Hey guys, that is work beyond the call of duty but they all were part of our Wien airline family.

Had we had to do it on our own, it would have taken us at least 5 years for what the oil company did in 3 months back in the early 70s. The problem was the FAA allowing a 737 aircraft to land on a frozen lake. Unheard of at the time. We only authorized three senior captains to operate those flights though and they were unbelievable and some having started out in open cockpit aircraft in the Arctic. (story of one to follow) It was big oil that wanted the operations and for us, as an airline, it was nothing new only a different type of aircraft. There were no runways to resupply the remote sites and it was too much for light aircraft and even DC-3 and C-46s to do. At that time only the C-130 was available but not enough to go around.

For those that don't know much about the oil situation on Prudhoe Bay fields in the 70s and the eventual oil pipeline, the entire project was given military proiority which had all kids of authority. We even had two C-5 operations into Prudhoe Bay on two trips carrying pipeline epuipment. Story to follow later. There were no roads, all facilitys were like camping areas, male and females used the same facilites (read showers and rest rooms). Even the oil industry was one big family since no operation like that had ever been tried before anywhere.

Wheather good or bad, I have the distinction of hiring the first female on the North Slope of Alaska oil operation. Also arranged it for another first female to operate the controls of a drill rig drilling an actual oil well on the north slope. Story later. Interesting stories and with enough encouragement from the lady readers, I might be encourage to tell them if the guys promise not to read them.

My company was not too happy with me when they found out I had hired the first lady and that she was living at our company quarters while working, they ended up sending a 737 in just to pick me up to stand tall in front of the CEO the next day. I went back to work that afternoon with a thank you from him and the company. Gee, how I lucked out at times but, I was right in what I did. Not much later aprox 25% of the oil company employees on the pipeline were female. Will not go into that story though.

Our ice landing operation was an interesting operation really. Thickness of ice? All (except for one) of the lakes at or around Prudhoe Bay are always frozen most of the winter clear to the bottom so pleanty thick.
Breaking action was the problem. Needless to say, we didn't change type of tires so we used crushed walnut shells to help. I always joked that was how President Carter got all his money. We bought his nut shells. :wink: Some of our C-46s were changed over to sawdust tires for the winter when operating on ice. Hey anyone, ever hear of that before? Sawdust aircraft tires?

Since I am no longer employed in aviation, I can now say some things I have thought for years.

In my early days in aviation management, we had some of the most knowlegable FAA personnel you could ever hope to know. They grew up in aviation and not just out of school where they were taught and thus, believed they knew everything. When we had a problem up north, we could talk to the fed on site and work out a problem and keep on flying. It was a completely different situation than today I suspect. First of all, both parties wanted the aircraft operations to continue but both also agreed they needed to be safe. Lots of pots of coffee (and well, many a cool one at times after the sun went below the yard arms), a solution was always found that would protect the flying public, keep the airline flying, and all at the same time, adhearing to the regulations. At that time, it actually was enjoyable to work with the FAA.
No need to reply how it is today guys/gals. The big eye just might be watching.

Appreciate your and all other's thoughts at any time.

:cheers

Ernie


Bruce