Seaplane Landings Draw Rebuke

Richard Bangert    This seaplane, operated by a Mill Valley company, has landed at least twice at Breakwater Beach. The city sent the company a notice of trespass.

The tour operator of a seaplane who landed at Alameda Point found himself in hot water with the city recently. A 1992 Piper single-engine seaplane landed and took off twice in the harbor near the USS Hornet Museum on Saturday, Feb. 3. The plane’s identification was reported to the city by the Alameda Point Harbor Seal Monitors. The group had photographed the same plane in October after it landed near the harbor seal float.

On Feb. 14, the City of Alameda sent a cease-and-desist letter and notice of trespass to Saul Singer, who operates Sea Plane Adventures of Mill Valley. 

“Your aircraft was observed flying below the minimum safe altitude, touching down and taking off in and around Alameda Point,” Alan M. Cohen, Chief Litigation Counsel for the city, wrote to Singer. “Your activity endangers the health and safety of both people and wildlife … and violates the deed restrictions imposed by the United States Navy when the property was conveyed to the city.”

Just 40 minutes prior to the plane touching down at 10:24 a.m. on Feb. 3, about 20 outrigger canoes shoved off from Breakwater Beach and passed directly through the soon-to-be landing path of the plane. Kayakers were also beginning to shove off just as the plane approached over the bay from the west, banked and came over the rock wall and beach for a landing,

During summer and fall, it is common to see flocks of 50 or more California brown pelicans, a bird ill-equipped to suddenly avoid a plane strike, moving about en masse in the harbor diving for fish. 

The Navy once used the harbor for recreational purposes, which included boat docks and a nearby campground. The Water Emergency Transportation Authority is building its Central Bay Operations and Maintenance Facility ferry not far from the harbor. Navy seaplanes stationed at the Naval Air Station took off and landed in the nearby ship channel until the squadron was decommissioned in 1958. 

A video of the plane landing and taking off is posted on the harbor seal monitors’ Facebook page at