Parts of the general aviation community in Alaska are abuzz following the indictment of a restaurateur in Halibut Cove who is accused of using a boat to harass a floatplane that was taxiing in preparation for takeoff last summer.
A grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska charged Marian Beck with willfully attempting to interfere with Eric Lee, a pilot who operates Alaska Ultimate Safaris in Homer. The grand jury also charged Beck with operating a boat “in a grossly negligent manner that endangered the life, limb, or property of a person.”
Lee was at the controls of a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver. A video shared widely on social media showed the boat circling and swerving close to the aircraft, which was taxiing slowly. The cause of the apparent dispute is unclear.
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Alaska is known for far-flung cities, towns and territories where floatplanes are a vital part of the transportation network. Traffic congestion on the water often results in floatplanes and boats having to operate near each other, and specific rules regarding right of way are usually sufficient to keep traffic flowing without conflict.
Neither Lee nor Beck, who owns the Saltry Restaurant in Halibut Cove, responded to requests for comment.