National Park Service adds life-saving float plane at Lake Mead - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

National Park Service adds life-saving float plane at Lake Mead

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A plane has been upgraded to help authorities get to emergencies faster on Lake Mead. (Kathleen Jacob/FOX5) A plane has been upgraded to help authorities get to emergencies faster on Lake Mead. (Kathleen Jacob/FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

The National Park Service now has a faster way to get to emergencies on Lake Mead. The Cessna 206 has been upgraded to include a new engine, new avionics, new paint, and floats so it can land on water.

Lake Mead has not had a plane that can land on water since one crashed in 1970. This modified plane is 12-years-old, but with new technology, it is more useful on the lake. 

“If there's a call for service, 911 dispatch call or somebody flagging me down, I have the ability to land and contact right then and there,” Park Ranger Pilot Scott Taylor explained.

This allows planes to get to remote locations on the lake quickly.

“It allows us to deliver law enforcement officers, rangers, paramedics, on scene quickly,” Taylor said.

The Lake Mead Recreational Area is around 1.5 billion acres, and rangers are responsible for looking over all of it.

“We just don't have the staff to monitor that. So our aerial observation platform has allowed us to keep an eye out for things like off-road vehicles, people digging up archeological sites, on the lake, people netting fish, things of that nature, fires where there shouldn't be fires, and with the aircraft it's going to take us kind of to the next level in terms of safety, being able to contact visitors directly,” Taylor said.

So far this summer, the float plane has only had to deal with one emergency where a boater was in distress, however, as the weeks go one, they predict an increase.

“We anticipate, over the season of this busy summer, dozens and dozens of visitor contacts out in the park,” Taylor said.

Another nice thing about the modified plane is that its engine is quieter than most planes, so it won’t disturb the peaceful atmosphere in the park.

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