Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Maine (Seaplane) Event!

Is this the best, most in-your-face float-flying event in America?

The first floatplane fly-in kicked off here in 1973, thanks to efforts from local seaplane pilots Telford Allen, Dave Quinn, Duane Lander, Dick Folsom, Chip Taylor and Charlie Coe. Its mission is "to promote fellowship, personal contact and unification among seaplane pilots, and to hold recreational and competitive events."

Float flyers are a gregarious bunch. They gather at the event for the same general reasons birds of a feather always flock together—camaraderie, flying in or watching the fun events, hardware eyeballing, which of course includes checking out the latest floats from vendors, along with enjoying various ancillary activities the region is noted for, like boating, biking, motorcycle tours, hiking and scenic flights over the magnificent, wild Maine countryside.

The "International" in the fly-in's name is no wannabe boast: Folks drive and fly in from all over the world. The event brings big bucks to the local economy. For many establishments in sleepy little Greenville, it's the make/break income week of the year.

Vendors set up their booths all along the walkway on the east side of the Cove, hawking everything from lobster rolls (a local favorite), fried dough and onion rings, to craft fairs, t-shirts, souvenirs and tons more. After an invigorating day around the lake, the fans jam into the many local watering holes and restaurants that ring the cove to kick back and revel in the day's fun activities.

This year, in spite of a broad band of nasty weather to the south—which is most of the rest of the country when you think of it—the event still receives hearty participation: roughly 170 seaplanes. In good-weather years, locals in the know expect more than 200 planes on the lake and another 300 at the nearby airfield.

Lovely, expansive Greenville Municipal Airport (3B1) lies just a couple miles or so up the road on the plateau east of town. The field plays an important role in the festivities, thanks to shuttles that run continuously up and down the hill, and not just for pilots who land there. The fans find themselves rewarded with a tantalizing mix of land and seaplanes, enough to get any winghead's juices flowing.

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