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38th Annual Greenville International Seaplane Fly-In

Float planes, food, fun, idyllic setting: magic time!

By James Lawrence, EAA 1017520, for e-Hotline
Seaplane Fly-In
Diving in after a takeoff heat for another round.

Seaplane Fly-In
Racing back to shore with the canoe tied aboard. Shortest elapsed time wins; this year it was just more than four minutes.

Seaplane Fly-In
Thousands of people come out every year to watch the water birds fly, compete, and have lots of fun.

View the photo gallery

September 15, 2011 – Imagine you park your car on the main street of the classically picturesque mid-Maine town of Greenville, walk less than 100 feet, and find yourself smack dab in the middle of what’s likely the best attended, most fun seaplane event in America, if  not the world. For the 38th consecutive year the International Seaplane Fly-In was held last weekend on a Florida-shaped, 200-yard-wide cove of water right in the middle of Greenville on the southern end of Moosehead Lake.

The fly-in is the biggest event of the year for the town. This year, 11,000 visitors – pilots and aviation lovers alike – lined the grassy-topped shores and patronized town restaurants and local businesses. More than 170 floatplanes and another 200 aircraft made the trek from all over the country and internationally. The event is beautifully run, thanks to the dedication and organizational acumen of a large group of local directors and volunteers, headed up by John Peppin.

“It’s the biggest weekend of the year for us,” he said. “People who go to all the air shows say it’s the most fun they have. It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun too.” 

Food vendors lining colorful walkways all around the cove serve a cornucopia of air show fare with a decided up-East flavor: lobster rolls, haddock, hamburgers, sausages, cotton candy, cookie dough, pizza, and lots more. Quick, my antacid! There’s a crafts fair, raffles to support local causes, and even a booth selling snowshoes.

Major float companies including Wipaire, Claymar, and Aerocet, the Seaplane Association and even Phil Lockwood’s Air Cam (a popular twin-engine, land or float-equipped fun ship) know the value of having a presence here, too.

Walk anywhere around the cove for a great ringside seat to the action – and there’s lots of it. Contests include spot landing, shortest takeoff distance, and even a canoe race involving floatplanes – a lot more fun than it sounds.

Demonstration flights included a water drop put on by Wipaire’s sister company Fire Boss, which markets firefighting floats and water-scooping systems, all wedded to a turboprop 802 Air Tractor ag plane. What a rig!

The only Piper Apache on floats in the world drew appreciative looks among the displays at nearby Greenville Municipal (3B1). Shuttles even ran visitors back and forth to the cove.

Dry, cool weather, sunshine all four days, and a great lineup of fun events - what’s not to like? The only challenge the organizers may have is how to keep it from becoming too popular for the town’s good!

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