Tourism operator’s bold expansion bid at unique Coast site
A push to launch picturesque joy flights over the Pumicestone Passage has taken flight, in a bold tourism business expansion bid.
Paradise Seaplanes owner and chief pilot Shawn Kelly confirmed he was renewing his efforts to establish a three-month trial of Pumicestone Passage joy flights, following the success of his business on the Maroochy River.
He said he'd been working on the trial for about 18 months, and was focused on canvassing the community, listening to concerns and garnering support for the operation.
Mr Kelly had been operating his business for the past five-and-a-half years on the Maroochy River and was hoping to take two days a week of flying south to the popular Caloundra waterway.
He said demonstration flights on the Passage had won further support from previous councillors, although he said he'd had to start fresh with the new council following the March election.
Mr Kelly said he needed permits from Sunshine Coast Council, Maritime Safety Queensland and the Department of Environment and Science, processes which had proven drawn out.
He said he was engaging with community groups like Take Action for Pumicestone Passage, and resident and ratepayer groups in Golden Beach, Pelican Waters and broader Caloundra, in a bid to address any concerns they may have.
Mr Kelly said he was confident of getting "broadbased community support" once operational, as that was what had happened in Maroochydore, and the new proposed location was further from homes.
He said traffic on Pumicestone Passage was "significantly less" than the Maroochy River, and the quietness of his seaplane, officially registered at 61.8 decibels, which he hoped would work in favour of being granted a trial permit.
Mr Kelly said he hoped to have passengers embark and disembark from Apex Park at Golden Beach south.
The seaplane was then proposed to tax out, take off and land south of Military Jetty, at least 60m from shore.
Mr Kelly said he was currently allowed to fly five days a week by law, and he hoped to split that between both locations, with two days a week in Caloundra and three to the north.
He said he hoped to be flying over the Pumicestone Passage on Fridays and Sundays, as Sundays were currently restricted somewhat by sailing club meets on the Maroochy River on summer mornings.
Mr Kelly said as well as another tourism venture for the area, he hoped his joy flights would bolster the preservation efforts of the Passage, if more people could appreciate the beauty of the waterway from above.
"The seaplane is really low impact," Mr Kelly said.
"When you see it (Passage) from the air it is absolutely stunning.
"The more people that can get excited about it, the better chance of preserving it."
Mr Kelly said he hoped to have an answer back about the trial permit in "the next couple of months" and he said he had received positive feedback from most of the groups so far.