HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Frustrated citizens residing on the shores of Lake Chatuge attended the Tuesday, July 16 Towns County commissioner’s meeting to voice their troubled views on a local seaplane, owned and operated by Wing-N It Adventures. The group used adjectives ranging from “annoying” to “unacceptable” to describe what they consider a noise nuisance created by the company’s aerial tours.
Residents added that they believe the operation of the seaplane, which moors at a dock leased by The Ridges Resort on Lake Chatuge, could pose a safety hazard to bystanders on the water and shoreline, based on the flight patterns and maneuvers of the aircraft.
Doug Nelson, a Lake Chatuge area homeowner, publicly addressed Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, stating that the group had explored other avenues to remedy their grievances, including contacting Wing-N-It Adventures, in addition to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to no avail. “I hope the county can be proactive,” Nelson said.
Commissioner Bradshaw explained that Lake Chatuge falls under the jurisdiction of TVA, and that the county does not have the authority to enforce proposed regulations on Wing-N-It Adventures. “You’re getting the same answers I’m getting,” Bradshaw stated, referencing past communication with the government agencies.
Other residents spoke of items being blown from docks due to the close proximity of the aircraft’s landing zone, and an account was given of a seaplane appearing to narrowly avoid “clipping” an electrical wire on one occassion. “This ain’t a mountain-lake paradise,” Charles Butler, a meeting attendee, claimed. “It’s a mountain-lake hell if you live on that lake.”
Commissioner Bradshaw expressed sympathy and understanding toward the perturbed citizens, suggesting that the group meet with State Senator John Wilkinson and the commissioner to jointly address the issue in the near future.
FetchYourNews (FYN) contacted Wing-N-It Adventures, explaining that noise complaints and safety concerns had been brought forth by residents, and received the following statement:
“Wing-N-It Seaplane Adventures, in its third year of partnership with The Ridges Resort and Marina, is proud to play a small part in the growth and development of the tourism industry within Towns County. We are contributing by providing a safe and family-interactive experience for both residents and visitors to the Lake Chatuge area. Our highly trained pilots have more than 40,000 hours of combined commercial flight time in addition to obtaining recertification and completing continuing education. We comply with all Department of Natural Resources, Tennessee Valley Authority, and Federal Aviation Administration rules/regulations. We frequently operate in the presence of the DNR while they are conducting their routine patrol on the lake.
“Our main interest is not in generating a large profit. We only desire to help facilitate the growth of tourism within the surrounding areas. As such, we do not operate during especially high-traffic times such as Memorial Day Weekend and Fourth of July Weekend. The purpose of our operation is to create memories and help show off the beauty of the area. As such, we have no intentions of increasing operations on a larger scale of that which we currently perform. Year-to-date in 2019, we have only operated on eight days for a total of 31 tours which all occur between the hours of 11:00 am and 5:00 pm.”
Citizens at Tuesday’s meeting publicly questioned whether Wing-N-It Adventures were Towns County taxpayers. A visit to the Towns County Tax Office revealed no record of the company on file. Elizabeth Dillard, an employee of the county tax office, emailed FYN shortly thereafter. “For the 2019 tax year coming up, there will be a bill released for the business,” Dillard wrote. “However, the plane is apparently not located in Towns County.”
An online search listed Gainesville, GA as Wing-N-It Adventures’ mailing address.
Continue to follow FYN for updates on the complaint situation as they become available.
Feature Image Credit: Wing-N-It Adventures/Facebook