"West Lake Okoboji is a designated seaplane landing lake," DNR conservation officer Steve Reighard confirmed. "They did contact my partner Jeff (Morrison) ahead of time and talked about landing."
About every other year, the DNR can expect a floatplane capable of seating 4-8 passengers to touch down on West Lake. Morrison had never seen a big seaplane land in Okoboji -- until Sunday.
The DNR doesn't have jurisdiction over water landings -- the FAA regulates flight plans. Pilot Hans Meyer was doing proficiency flying to stay up-to-date on water landing certifications. The plane's owner, Tony Phillippi, said Meyer landed on six lakes during the course of the day.
Reighard said pilots traditionally circle the lake a few times to find an area with the least amount of boat traffic. A quiet spot near the end of the July 4 weekend was harder to find.
A handful of boaters thought the plane was in distress, simply because the plane's size was out-of-the-ordinary for the area. The plane has a fairly uncommon history as well.
Phillippi calls his Grumman Albatross a "Tri-Phibian" for touchdowns on land, water and snow (using skis). It was purchased by the U.S. Air Force in 1953.
"It's been to the North Pole and it has been to the South Pole," Phillippi said.
Both Phillippi and his pilot came to the area because of connections to the Iowa Great Lakes. They spent time with friends and family during their two-hour stay near the noon hour Sunday.
"I had done some construction work there over the years and always wanted to come in and see it on the water side -- it's a beautiful lake," Phillippi said.
The plane owner also complemented the area's vitality and boaters on Sunday.
"The water was beautiful, the water quality was good and there were a lot of people there that day," Phillippi said. "That was a busy weekend. It's quite a hub of recreation there. Everyone on that lake was really fun and pleasant. They were well-behaved. We kind of got mobbed by boats and it's always a little scary about what people are going to do -- but the folks there were very helpful and cooperative. It was nice for a change."