Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Just plane fun at Splash In

Along with other pilots from across California and neighboring states, Duart Slattery, from San Diego, took his seaplane for a cruise around Clear Lake on Saturday afternoon.



LAKEPORT >> When pilot Allen Low of San Francisco flew to Lakeport last weekend, instead of landing at the airport, he aimed his aircraft at Clear Lake and the plane hit the water belly-first.

But Low’s landing was anything but an emergency.

Instead of sinking or floating when the craft hit the water, the engine continued to roar and the plane slowly headed toward the shore where it taxied up a wooden ramp onto a dirt field and parked.

“I’m here to meet the local people and to have fun,” Low announced after exiting his aircraft during Lake County’s annual seaplane festival Saturday in Lakeport.

The event featured food, beverages and vendor booths along with seaplanes on display on the field, some with their pilots present and eager to discuss their aircraft.

The festival was the centerpiece of the 38th annual Sea Plane Splash In, Clear Lake, last Thursday through Sunday at Natural High Field on the shoreline near 7th and Main streets.

Low flew to Clear Lake in his Seawind seaplane that was built from a kit by someone else, making the trip in about a half-hour. The pilot flew to the Splash In during a break from his day job as a Boeing 747 flight captain for “one of the big airlines.”

Needless to say, Low loves to fly, both airplanes and seaplanes but he seems partial to the latter. “Seaplanes can go a lot more places, on lakes and land,” he said.

Many pilots saw the Lakeport location as a big advantage since they could land on the lake and taxi up a ramp directly onto Natural High Field where they parked.

“It would be nice if they kept the (seaplane) ramp and parking area here permanently,” Low said.

Seaplane co-pilot Steve Hanke of Phoenix agreed. “I think they could make this into a spectacular permanent venue for seaplanes,” he said.

The festival brought in spectators from in and out of the county, including Pamela Harpster and her two grandchildren, Jacob, 3, and Amelia, 5, of Lakeport.

“I’ve been here 23 years and I love this event,” Harpster said. “It’s one of the coolest things we do in Lakeport. We’re totally excited. We were here last night for the fly-in. It was very cool.”

But enough from the adults. What did the kids think of the Splash In?

“I like airplanes a lot,” three-year-old Jacob said. He added that he thought it was “pretty cool” to see the planes land on the water.

Not that Jacob is easily influenced by his surroundings, but when asked what he wants to be when he grows up, he replied, “A pilot.”

However, Jacob may have another career in the back of his mind. He pointed to a nearby red and white seaplane and said it was the one he most wanted to fly in.

Why?

“Because it looks like a fire truck,” he said.

Pilot Tod Dickey of Phoenix splash-landed his 1943 Grumman Widgeon, that has a red and white 1940s paint scheme, on the lake before parking in the field.

“I’ve been here every year since about 2005,” he said Saturday. “Coming here is like a pilgrimage for me.”

Dickey described Lakeport as “unique” and called the local citizens “so welcoming.”

He added, “Lakeport is one of the few places where you can land on the water and be a few feet from the parking field.”

Grant Wells, 15, of Napa, was about to go on an unexpected seaplane ride Saturday afternoon but stopped to answer a couple of questions.

There had been a raffle at the festival for a free ride on a seaplane. A Hayward woman won the raffle and gave the ticket to Wells, a Sea Scout volunteer at the event. He had assisted her earlier in the day.

“I’ve never been up in a seaplane before,” he said. “I feel really happy.”

Justina Lindquist of Berkeley was at the festival with her husband and three children, ages four, seven and nine. She heard about the Splash In online.

“We have a place on the lower part of the lake,” she said. “So, we brought our boat up here, parked in the public dock and now here we are. We thought it would be cool to check out the planes.”

She added, “The planes are awesome. It’s nice to see them up close.”

It was the first time at the Splash In for co-pilot Hanke who said he has been flying since 1980. He said of the event, “I love it. I love that the venue here is within walking distance of our hotel and several restaurants. I can’t wait to come back next year.”

When asked about his impression of Lakeport, he replied, “It’s a very walking-friendly town.”

The festival opened in the morning with a pancake breakfast put on by the local Kiwanis Club and ended Saturday night with a barbecue, awards ceremony and raffle for pilots and guests at the nearby Skylark Shores Resort.

Among the many songs played over the loudspeaker at the festival Saturday afternoon, one seemed most appropriate on such a clear, calm and beautiful day: Electric Light Orchestra’s, “Mr. Blue Sky.”

The Splash In concluded Sunday.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.record-bee.com

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