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The 41st Annual International Seaplane Fly-In

Friday Afternoon September 6, 2013
Moosehead Lake
Greenville, Maine



We had no idea there even was a Seaplane organization let alone an annual gathering in the northernmost parts of Maine.


When I originally called the campground to see if we should make reservations for this week, I was told that they were totally full for the weekend because of the International Fly-In.  I had NO idea what she was talking about but said we’d take 5 days however, if they had a cancellation, would she please call me.   And happily they did and she did.

So we didn’t know what to think the first day we went to town and saw this sign at the top of the hill above the little town as we drove down to it.


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Today after our spectacular morning moose hunt, we decide to check out the early warm up for this event.  As in most gatherings, the biggest days are Saturday and Sunday.  Since I’m not much for crowds I don’t want to go on Saturday and we will be leaving on Sunday.



We head down town to see what’s up. HA!  Things are starting to come together but apparently nothing like what will be happening tomorrow.  The craft fair starts then and all, rather than some, of the vendors will be here.



Happy One Hundredth Birthday next year to the the Katahdin! 


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The main town parking lot is at the dock for the old steamship Katahdin which now offers cruises up the lake under its non-steam power.  It is a center piece of the town’s economy bringing in tourists from all over.  The Katahdin underwent a $432,400 hull repair in 2012 and is looking very fine every time we see her when we drive through town to go hiking or kayaking. 


She was launched on Moosehead Lake in 1914.  In her 98 years, she has been an early working ship moving freight, mail, people and animals up to outposts on the lake when water was the mode of travel.  Later she was turned into a tug boat to corral acres of logs into booms to cross the lake to market. Historians note it was the sole ship to make the last log drive on the lake in 1976.  Shortly thereafter,  local businessmen got together and formed the Moosehead Marine Museum and put the Katahdin back to work as a pleasure craft .


She now runs cruises five days a week, from the last of June through Columbus Day weekend. These include sold-out rock-’n’-roll dance nights and weekly excursions to Mount Kineo in Rockwood, as well as sunset and foliage cruises.  One week at Moosehead Lake is just not enough time to do all the great things here.  And the Katahdin is surely one of them.



Ok so what’s up with all this fried dough??


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We have been seeing signs for Fried Dough in all the little Maine towns.  We think perhaps it is Fry Bread that we have loved at Pow Wows.  Or maybe it is funnel cake a staple of state and county fairs.  so when we see the stand set up right next to where the Katahdin is docking from a cruise we decide to try some.  $2.50 to split one. 



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Turns out it isn’t really either though it is like both.

We sprinkle maple sugar, powdered sugar and cinnamon in the hot fried dough and it is delicious.  But then maple sugar on anything would be delicious.


An interesting aside is that this food booth is a fundraiser for the West Cove Ice Racing Association of Greenville.  Every Saturday at noon when the lake is frozen they race cars on the ice down a mile track.  I was just flabbergasted at this.  Must be something like a demolition derby on ice.  How can they race and not spin out??  The things they think up to do during a long cold winter.



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We’re heading over to the Stobie Seaplane Airport where the rally is headquartered.   As we walk through the parking lot, I see this police vehicle.  Only here I think to myself.   All, and I mean ALL, of the dirt roads for miles and miles are ATV roads.  Remember Jon’s house?  On an ATV road.  Remember Wally World?  On an ATV road.  This is BIG ATV country.  And in winter snow mobiles use those same roads.  All that noise in such beautiful solitary country is sort of a shame I think but don’t dare say that up here.  Even the police use ATVs.



We reach the hanger area and the seaplanes are everywhere. 


Here’s one for sale if you are interested in owning one.  Looks like the guys are discussing it.   Don’t think you could full time in one though from a look at the 6 seat interior.  Might make a really cool toad though don’t you think??  According to SeaPlaneMarket.com, Prices run from a low of $109K for a 1963 Cessna 282 Skylane to a cool $6,200,000 for a 2011 Dornier Seastar.


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As we are standing at the open doors of the seaplane above we hear a motor start up just to our left.  Some one is taking a plane out.

I am surprised that the noise isn’t ear deafening loud or perhaps it’s just that my ears are so bad it doesn’t seem they are as loud as a motorcycle. 

Look at the little bitty wheels it rides on out to the water.  I was amazed at how small they are. 


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It just drives right into the water.

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Into the water on the pontoons.

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Turning and starting for take off.

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There she goes!





There are a lot of seaplanes here in all sizes and colors and designs.


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You can hear them taking off.  You can hear them flying over.  You can hear them land. 


I wonder who is doing air traffic control here?  Or is there any?? 


“Up in the air Junior Birdman”. 
Anybody remember that?? 
Or know where it comes from??


Sometimes they are just above the trees.  Sometimes they buzz the hanger and sometimes they are over the mountains.


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The local loons are none too happy with all of this. 

Every time one of the sea planes takes off the loons scream.   Not their haunting call but their scream.   They apparently DO NOT like this activity.  I wonder why they don’t leave their spot in the middle of this end of the lake before they get run over and come back on Sunday night?   Poor darlings must be scared to death but there they float, 3 of them right out in the middle screaming their heads off.



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Some of the planes need people power to get to the ramp.


We watch two guys move this sea plane into position to take off.  Not sure why they don’t drive it unless they can’t for whatever reason.  Its wheels don’t turn? 



They pull the plane forward from its parking place to the short paved sloped ramp.


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Then push it to turn it into position to go down the ramp.
This plane is really low to the ground.


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They jump inside and off they go.




Notice his propeller is up high and in the back rather than on the nose. 

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In she goes.  Right onto her belly.  It looks like she might sink.

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But nope.  Off she goes to the take off spot.  Apparently there was a take off line up because I leave before seeing her go up in the air. 


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This fly-in is sort of a cross between an RV Show and a Rally.  


There are brand new Sea Planes on display, used Seaplanes for sale and in the air hanger today are all the sea plane gear vendors.  Traffic today late in the afternoon is fairly light but there are lots of guys looking at the wares.   I think the craft fair tomorrow is mostly to entertain the women in their lives.  I know that sounds sexist but from observation that’s how it appears.  I don’t see any women pilots and only one woman who might be talking shop.  Although there must be more.  Perhaps they’ll be out front and center tomorrow and Sunday on the BIG days.


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Like a rally they have a T-shirt.   I love it!  After this morning’s moose sightings, I “almost” wish I’d bought one just for the MOOSE!


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We walk on back to the end of the lake where they are taking off and landing.   At Thoreau Park, there are tables and benches with good views.    The pub next door, The Black Frog,  has a water side deck.


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We watch a few planes landing and then it’s time to go home for dinner.  But we’ll come back tomorrow for one final look around to see the Fly-In  in full swing.  I’ll tell you more about “Thoreau Park” then.




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Perfect landing, right in between the red runway marker balls.

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They really are cute aren’t they?  
How can you not just love this face??


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  1. Oh, my gosh, here I am again! I'm usually the last one to comment.

    Honestly, you really never know what you are going to see, do you? Previously, I've always associated sea planes with "Miami Vice." (Yes, I loved that show then and still do. I'm not ashamed to admit it!) Those were all flown by drug runners, so I'm happy to see some sea planes in a pristine, wholesome environment!!! But poor loons . . .

  2. it is indeed a cute face! hahaa AND " But then maple sugar on anything would be delicious." is absolutely right on.

    I have flown in a seaplane and the sensation is awesome! if they offer such ... do it.

  3. Thanks for taking all those airplane pics for guys like me. The ones with tiny wheels are called Amphibians. Many have crashed due to landing on water with the wheels down, instant flip upside down. Some have crashed trying to take off with them down and yet most operate safely for years with pilots who respect them. You are hitting a lot of events along this trip.

  4. Mouse and Sea Planes all in one day;o)) What fun you two are having?!?!?!

  5. Would maple sugar make J-M-C ice cream taste better?

    With all those seaplanes buzzing around, it's no wonder the moose are in hiding and hard to see!

    But then, maybe a seaplane would make a great toad. You go first... ;c)

  6. We have been on a seaplane twice - once in Alaska and once in the Dry Tortugas- they are very cool.

  7. Fried dough sounds like a donut to me. I hope I can try it some day. As for the seaplanes taking off and landing, I'd be with the loons on this one.

  8. Mike would like to see that car race on ice. :-)

  9. It's always nice to come upon an unexpected festival.

  10. I actually flew in a seaplane from Seattle to Victoria BC and back. A very bump take on rough water.

    “Up in the air Junior Birdman”. I remember this ditty from Girl Scouts.

    Love how you two just fall into the right place at the right time.

  11. Neat planes! I like how you stumble on these events.The planes aren't as pretty as birds but I can see the allure of taking off from water. Wonder who the people are who come annually to the fly-in? Interesting folk with time on their hands, I suppose :)

  12. I have no idea where "up in the air Junior Birdman" comes from. Do tell! But speaking of Junior Birdman, does anyone remember Sky King?


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