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Planes May Be Able To Land On Lake Mitchell

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When Lake Mitchell was created, they probably had no idea that planes would someday want to land on its surface.

That idea is now being brought up in Mitchell City Council meetings, where an amendment is proposed to allow planes less than 10,000 pounds, and who stay clear of houses by 500 feet can officially take-off and land on the Lake.

The problem right now, is that unless you have an air emergency you are not allowed to land on the lake.

At 876 acres, Lake Mitchell has plenty of room for planes to take off and land on; we talked to some neighbors who said that the past history with the planes really hasn't proven to be that bad. And some residents say the people that want to land on the lake know what’s acceptable and what's not.

Lake Mitchell resident Joyce Jones said, “Knowing the people that have asked for the air plane rights, I'm sure they are well aware of boaters and what goes on during holidays, it's busy. Most of them take off towards the west end where there aren't any houses, and are basically off the water by the time they get to the populated area.”

The float plane community is small in South Dakota, so a sudden explosion of seaplanes isn't realistic.

Madison Airport manager and owner of Riggin Flight Training Morris Riggin has been flying his float plane since 1971.

Riggen said, “So, you want to be careful of the people who live on the lake, you want to try to not make too much noise like flying over their houses unnecessarily.”

So who is actually in charge of the aircraft when it is landing on the water?

Riggen said, “They have one rule and it states that boats have the right away, so the FAA said each state needs to govern their own bodies of water.”

Morris, who offers float plane training, insists the respect between residents and the pilots is a very positive interaction between the two.

Riggen said, “Well the first thing we scope out is how much housing is around it, and we try to make the exit and entry to the lake so that we don't fly over any houses.”

The vote will take place Monday, July 15.
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