Washington seaplane owners want role in disaster response

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by GLENN FARLEY / KING 5 News Aviation Specialist

Bio | Email | Follow: @GlennFarley

KING5.com

Posted on July 18, 2012 at 10:53 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 19 at 6:58 AM

Seaplane pilots in Washington state are hoping to put their aircraft to public use in the event of a major disaster that blocks roads and highways.

At a recent gathering on Lake Whatcom, seaplane owners and emergency responders gathered to discuss the idea and figure out just how large a role seaplanes could play in disaster recovery.

One question that needs to be answered: Just how many patients on stretchers could be loaded into a plane? How many seaplanes could be made available in the event of catastrophe? How would pilots communicate with each other and with emergency management officials about areas most in need of help ... and areas suitable for seaplane assistance?

Washington state's abundance of lakes, rivers and coasts makes seaplanes a potentially important resource. For example, the part of Whatcom County known as Sudden Valley could find itself suddenly cut off if the two roads connecting it to the outside world were destroyed or blocked by an earthquake.

The Washington Seaplane Pilots Association is helping to guide plans for how its members can be deployed.

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