08/30/2010

An amphibian aircraft in Geneva this weekend

One aircraft seen this weekend near Geneva airport is very unlikely to have landed there!


Aircraft have a general three character description, composed of a letter, a number and a second letter. The first, for aircraft detected around Geneva, is almost always L or H, short for Landplane (lands and takes off on the ground) or H (Helicopter). The second indicates the number of propulsion units, normally between 1 and 4 (a B52 Stratofortress has 8, but none has yet landed here!). The last is normally either J (Jet), T (Turboprop) or P (Piston).

On Saturday 28 August the ARAG detection monitor noticed several appearances of an aircraft whose description started with the letter A. A quick look-up showed that this indicates an Amphibian type of aircraft. These can be often seen in other countries, particularly in Canada (lots of lakes!) and I have seen sometimes in southern Europe some Canadair aircraft, used for fighting forest fires, touch down at sea to fill up with water. Amphibian aircraft at Geneva have, however, been as rare as the proverbial hen's tooth.

This one clearly came here to take part in the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the air crossing of lake Geneva. This crossing was made by the Geneva aviator Armand Dufaux and took place at Noville, near Villeneuve. The year before that, Louis Blériot crossed the English Channel, landing in a field near Dover (he just managed to get over the famous white cliffs!

A research on this amphibious aircraft showed it to have the Swiss registration HB-LSK. The official Swiss site for aircraft registrations shows this to be operated by the Twin Bee Club, in Thun, and to have been built in 1976 by the STOL Short Takeoff and Landing?) Aircraft Corporation. Interestingly, it had already been detected here earlier this year, on 20 June.

It seems reasonable to assume that it took off on Lake Thun and came to land on Lake Geneva. Although our intrepid plane spotters at Geneva airport are not likely to have seen it, some people have managed to take photos of it. On THIS PHOTO, it rather reminds me of the aircraft seen in the James Bond film "The man with the golden gun", where Bond lands on an island to have a shoot-out with Francisco Scaramanga.

Regrettably, I cannot quite make out the face of the pilot, nor whether he is drinking a Martini - shaken, not stirred!

 

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