But Others Continue To Do So, Despite Risks
Skimming... water skiing... or aqua-planing -- with a real, live
airplane -- has become famous on the internet since pictures of the
Harvard Aerobatics team, lead by Capt. Scully Levine, participated
in a "water ski" event where they aqua-planed four Harvards on
Klipdrift Dam near Potchefstroom, South Africa.
This stunt may be okay for highly trained aerobatic pilots,
under supervised conditions... but not for others. So, when Randy
Brooks crashed his Cirrus SR22 into Lake Powell approximately six
weeks ago, accusations flew that he had attempted to mimic the
Harvards' stunt. Brooks maintains he has never skimmed, and is
merely the victim of Internet rumors. In fact, he says he'd never
heard of skimming until a federal investigator asked him about
"We were sight-seeing," Brooks said. "I thought I was higher
than I was. The water was glassy smooth, I lost depth perception.
And we just lit on the water."
As Aero-News reported, the
pilot, his brother and famed Olympic wrestler Rulon Gardner
survived the February 25 accident.
There is no evidence to back up claims that he was doing
anything illegal; skimming would be considered "reckless
But it's clear some pilots do skate their planes on water. In
fact, according to local photographer Andre Delgalvis, somebody
skimmed Lake Powell just last week. Delgalvis recorded it in his
journal at 11:28 last Wednesday morning. Four or five planes roared
overhead. Two dropped to the water. One put his wheels in it. No
pictures were taken.
"And he went around a curve. And we watched him until he was
completely out of sight and his wheels were skating on top of the
water. And it was the craziest thing I could imagine," Delgalvis
said. "That was the most horrific thing I've seen on this lake as
far as people doing just totally stupid things."
Brooks continued to say deliberately skimming his model of
aircraft, a Cirrus SR22, would amount to suicide. The Internet
suspicions bothered him at first, he says, but now he's getting a
thick skin. "I just kind of let it roll off my back. The people
that know me -- know me. And that's good enough."