Tuesday, April 24, 2012
The Maine (Seaplane) Event!
Is this the best, most in-your-face float-flying event in America?
|Get That Seaplane Rating!|
|I've had the good fortune over the years to fly in many water-worthy airplanes. I've manned the controls of everything from a Lake amphibian to Cessna 182s and Caravans on floats, to a quick-launching Searey amphib, to float-equipped LSA, like the Legend AmphibCub and Flight Design CTLS, not to mention soloing in the '80s in an ultralight on (inflatable!) Full Lotus floats.
The freedom you feel landing into the wind—no matter where it's coming from—or carving racy arcs across a sunlight-shimmering smooth body of water is not to be missed.
So how to get the Single Engine Seaplane (SES) rating? Assuming you've already got your private, just add water, a few hours' training, money of course, stir, take a checkride with an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner, and you're good to go.
Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Jon Brown, son of the late legendary pilot who founded the now-famous Brown's Seaplane Base near Lakeland, Fla. He told me the operation he inherited from his father Jack has trained 17,000 seaplane pilots since 1963. That's a lot of webfoot flyers!
Here's what Brown's prescribes for those afflicted with the desire to land a perfectly sound airplane on water:
Contact www.brownsseaplane.com for more information.
And parked right in front of the Greenville FBO is the only Piper Apache on floats in the world. Something wonderful happens to the overall visual appeal of most airplanes when they strap on pontoons. The Apache is a stellar example. This particular early-model twin, dressed to the nines with a gorgeous paint job, draws admiring spectators every time I glance its way—which is often.
And that's sitting still. When the jet-hearted powerplant whines the prop up to speed, it's awe-inspiring. As it taxis for takeoff, I act on a hunch and hop a shuttle in time to make lakeside just before the big bird whistles by at 50 feet AGW to drop a full load of lake water (and is that a fish I see falling with the cloud of white spray?) right in front of the cheering thousands. By "right in front," I mean maybe 150 feet away, right over the center of East Cove.
It's time to sing the praises of what I consider the singular brilliance of the Greenville meet: the East Cove venue itself. This north-south elongated rectangle of water lies at the south end of Moosehead Lake, right in the center of the picturesque town of Greenville.
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Labels: Cross-Country Travel, Features, Floatplanes, People and Places, Shows and Fly-Ins, Air Races, Air Shows, Aviation Personalities, Adventure Flying