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Minnesota Pilots Ticketed in Frozen Burger Run

By • Jan 14th, 2010 • Category: Burger Blog

Two Minnesota men have been charged for grabbing a cheeseburger at one of Minneapolis’ hottest eateries on Monday.  Their crime?  Illegally parking their vehicles a few hundred feet away.  But check out said vehicles:

(That shot is from Jennifer Simonson of the Star Tribune.) The Champion 7FC of Hans Meyer and the Aeronca 7AC piloted by his buddy Mike Doherty, outfitted with skis under the wheels, are parked on the thick ice of frozen Lake Calhoun, which is smack in the middle of Minneapolis and about a block away from Burger Jones, a gourmet burger joint that’s all the rage in the Gopher State.  (Feel free to check out the full write-up on the place that we did back in September.)

So it seems the pilot pals were jonesin’ for a cheebie when they decided to do a little fly-by.  “It was a beautiful winter day, and we wanted to see downtown,” Meyer said.  The pair reportedly checked with federal and state regulations and even logged on to the Minneapolis city website to try to make sure that a middle-of-the-city lake landing would be legal.  They touched down around noon, walked across the frozen lake, and bellied up to their burgs.  As they chowed down, local police and FAA officials were descending on the parked aircraft:

(Again, thanks to Jenifer Simonson of the Star Tribune for the pic.) While lake landings are common and perfectly legal on many of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes, Lake Calhoun is part of a city park.  And it’s illegal to land a plane in a park without proper permission.  Busted.

(Nice shot, KARE-TV.) Park Police Captain Robert Goodsell stated that the fugitive flyboys were “cooperative… and contrite.  [They] didn’t know we had ordinance against that.  They were very apologetic.”  “It was only until we came back from lunch that we found the police weren’t on board with it,” Meyer told reporters.  The pair was detained for a few hours, until the FAA cleared them to take off again, tickets in hand.

But the bosses at Burger Jones, sensing the public uproar that was about to erupt (and perhaps the chance to capitalize on the buzz the story might create), will be hosting a special event on Saturday in honor of “the daring young men and their flying machines.”  The restaurant jokingly announced that they will be accepting donations for the pilots’ legal defense fund as they unveil a new tribute “Mile High Club Burger” (NOT shown here in a photo by Nick Vlcek).

In reality, any cash raised this weekend won’t be part of a true defense fund, said Kip Clayton, an executive with Parasole Restaurant Holdings, Burger Jones’ parent company.  He said his company is just trying to be “a little crazy and tongue-in-cheek” about the incident and added that whatever is collected will be given to “a favorite women’s shelter that we support.  If we get $300, we’ll send it over and everyone will be happy.”

Everyone, that is, except Meyer and Doherty, the two pilots who just wanted a cheeseburger and an afternoon in the air… and ended up with citations from Minneapolis’ finest and what was surely a fun lecture from the FAA.  Hope you get your Mile High Club Burgers for free next time you hit Burger Jones.  Only next time, fellas, take the bus.

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