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Making a splashMaking a splash

A normally quiet cove became an outdoor amphitheater as thousands of spectators lined the shore at the forty-fifth annual International Seaplane Fly-In at Greenville, Maine.

  • A seaplane flies over Maine's remote landscape heading to Greenville for the International Seaplane Fly-In at Moosehead Lake. Photo by Chris Rose.
  • Greenville, Maine, is a seaplane-friendly town of 1,600 residents. Photo by Chris Rose.
  • Seaplanes converge in Greenville, Maine, for the International Seaplane Fly-In at Moosehead Lake. Photo by Chris Rose.
  • Pilots chat and enjoy hanging out by the water admiring seaplanes at the forty-fifth International Seaplane Fly-In. Photo by Chris Rose.
  • The lobster boil is a popular event at the International Seaplane Fly-In at Greenville, Maine. Photo by Chris Rose.
  • Pilots sit and chat during meals while overlooking beautiful Moosehead Lake. Photo by Chris Rose.
  • Every September, a quiet cove on Moosehead Lake becomes a hive of activity. Photo by Chris Rose.
  • As the sun sets over Moosehead Lake, all the of the seaplanes are tucked in for the night. Photo by Chris Rose.
  • Starry nights are breathtaking along Maine's Moosehead Lake. Photo by Chris Rose.

The event, which ran Sept. 6 through 9, featured seaplane flying competitions, new and vintage aircraft, educational displays, vendors, and camaraderie.

“The weather gave us a lot of help this year because it’s been absolutely beautiful all week,” said Keith Strange, a board member for the volunteer group that hosts the annual event. “That’s made it possible for pilots to get here from places as far away as Texas, Indiana, Florida, and all over Canada. We’ve got a really strong Canadian contingent.”

More than 50 seaplanes ranging from Piper J–3 Cubs to Quest Kodiaks and Cessna Caravans dropped into the Greenville Forestry Seaplane Base on the south end of Moosehead Lake, and more than 100 general aviation aircraft stayed at the hard-surface municipal airport about two miles away. The approach to the seaplane base (when landing north) involves flying base and final directly over downtown Greenville, a seaplane-friendly town of 1,600 residents.

Greenville officials installed a single, portable traffic light during the fly-in to accommodate the surge in tourism. Hotels were full, campers and recreational vehicles filled up reserved spaces at the municipal airport, and restaurants like the Stress Free Moose Pub—a favorite among visiting pilots—did brisk business.

“This place is always busy during the fly-in,” said Peter Russell, a retired audio engineer from New York who said he has attended the event 16 years in a row. “If the weather turns bad, you won’t be able to get a seat.”

Seaplane flying contests included short takeoffs, spot landings, and taxi slalom.

Strange, a 41-year seaplane pilot who works at Maine-based PK Floats, said the highlight of the weekend for him is awarding seaplane flying scholarships to deserving young people, and plaques to the contest winners.

“The trophies themselves are only $8 each,” he said. “But the recognition of their skills and accomplishments is something they treasure. We’re all competitive, but we’re all good friends, too. The camaraderie among seaplane pilots is something you’ve got to see to believe.”

Dave Hirschman

Dave Hirschman

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.
Topics: Seaplane, Fly in

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