My morning began with a smile. Bonnier Staff Photographer Jon Whittle and I headed out to Fantasy of Flight (fantasyofflight.com) to get some shots of the Splash In for the Sun n Fun 2010 photo gallery we’ve been posting at flyingmag.com this week. We had been shooting the first two days of Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland so this was a nice break in the pattern. We arrived early because I had been invited the day before to go up for a ride in an Aventura XLRII seaplane. I was to arrive by 8:45, well before the start time of the event. It’s a good thing because spectators were already arriving at 8:30. Maybe it was because the famous US Airways first officer Jeff Skiles was the guest speaker kicking off the show or maybe because it is just plain fun to watch all the action.
At any rate, Aero Adventure (sea-planes.com) was the only setup for giving rides while we were there. There were already a few folks ahead of me when we arrived. (The line remained steady the entire time we were there and the day wasn’t even half over.) And I know why. Though at first I was mildly skeptical about going up in what seemed like an ultralight with a boat hull, boy, is it a kick! I love stuff like this…seat of your pants, fun flying. There were airplanes landing here and there, and the Aero guys had staked out there own little area for takeoffs and landings, since the Aventura could get in and out without taking up too much watery real estate. No formal taxiing or radio or approach procedures. Dangerous maybe, but I felt free! I know I could enjoy learning how to fly a seaplane LSA. (This thought doesn’t’ surprise me. At one point in my yute, my dad had a Super Cub on floats and I itched to fly it but he soon turned around and sold it for a nice little profit.) Of course, I wasn’t flying the thing so it was easy for me to say. But each time I let out a gleeful laugh, pilot Travis Jay would smile. He said that he travels from Texas regularly to fly the seaplanes at events for the Rockledge, Florida-based Aero Adventure and considers it a vacation. That’s says a lot in my book. My mind was already racing with visions of owning one, not an unreachable goal given the “affordable” price points starting at $33,400. The possibilities…
But back to the Splash In. After my flight, we hung out and took in the parade of float- and a seaplanes arriving for the event. There were Cubs and Champs, Cessnas, mallards, and even a Sikorsky amphibian and Grumman Duck, to name a few. Check out the Sun n Fun 2010 Photo Gallery to see just what splashed in.