2007-08-04 / News

Stunt Investigated: Planes Fly Under Mackinac Bridge

Two red, single-engine pontoon planes were spotted flying under the Mackinac Bridge around 3 p.m. Monday, July 30. It is the third such incident this summer.

St. Ignace cottagers Judy and Ed Kaiser spotted the two planes approaching the bridge from the west and notified 9-1- 1.

Mackinac Bridge Authority Executive Secretary Bob Sweeney said the dangerous stunt is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration. Citizens, he said, reported seeing the planes flying low over the water in the vicinity of St. Helena Island, several miles west of the bridge near Gros Cap.

"We have video of the incident, however, it didn't capture the (identification) numbers," he said. "The FAA does have other ways to track them," he noted.

Aircraft are required to keep a 500-foot clearance above and below the bridge, said Mr. Sweeney. There is a clearance of 150 feet between the bottom of the bridge, at the center span, and the water.

Mr. Sweeney said the United States Department of Homeland Security has been notified, owing to the repeat incidents.

"This is both a Homeland Security issue, because it is the third incident this summer, and it is a safety issue for our workers on the bridge," said Mr. Sweeney. "Planes or helicopters can get entangled in worker safety lines that may dangle underneath the bridge."

The incident was the second one reported in a week. At about the same time of the day, Monday, July 23, a yellow seaplane, similar to the two described in the latest incident, was reported to have flown underneath the bridge.

The first fly-under incident this summer, Sunday, June 3, involved a helicopter.

All three incidents remain under investigation.

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