Pilot cited for landing near tsunami dock on beach

LAPUSH — An ultralight pilot's curiosity over the 185-ton concrete dock that had washed up from Japan on a remote stretch of Olympic National Park beach south of LaPush resulted in a citation and fine.

Raymond Helvey of Forks was cited by a park ranger March 4 at the Forks Municipal Airport after he illegally landed his ultralight aircraft on a beach that had been closed to the public to allow work on dock removal, according to Rainey McKenna, a park spokeswoman.

McKenna said she did not know the amount of the fine associated with the citation.

Helvey was spotted by park employees when he landed his engine-powered ultralight not far from the dock that had crossed the Pacific Ocean after the March 2011 tsunami and washed ashore near the mouth of Mosquito Creek between the Hoh River and LaPush in December.

“[Helvey] was able to land it and lift off again,” McKenna said.

Helvey told park officials he was curious about the dock and wanted to get a closer look.

Helvey also was given a written warning by an officer with the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary because he flew below the sanctuary's 2,000-foot flight limit, a limit put in place to protect marine mammals and nesting birds, ­McKenna said.

“The man had already been cited by the [National Park Service], so [the marine sanctuary officer] did not cite him a second time,” she said.

McKenna said citations such as this do not happen that often, adding that Helvey's was the only citation given in connection with the dock.

Crews from the Port Townsend-based Undersea Co. finished removing the 65-foot-long, 7˝-foot-high dock last week.

The removal work, which started March 17, entailed chopping up the dock into smaller sections, which were then taken by helicopter to nearby Rayonier Inc. property and trucked to a Forks recycling station.
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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 30. 2013 6:09PM
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