First Ever Colorado Mountain Seaplane Splash-In Rangely

ColoradoPicture: Jeff Haitt

First Ever Colorado Mountain Seaplane Splash- In Was Held On July 15


Pic: Jeff Haitt, Colorado Pilots Association Member

Colorado Seaplane Splash-In Report by Ray Hawkins — Saturday, July 15th, 2017 opened to a beautiful Western Colorado blue sky in Rangely, Colorado. By the time the day was over most of the attendees were describing the 96 degree day as the “coolest” they had ever seen. Several hundred attendees converged on Kenney Reservoir for the First Ever Mountain Splash-In in Colorado. As many Coloradans will tell you, the western half of the State is usually left out of these events because the ease of travel and the larger population centers of the Colorado Front Range make it much easier to draw the crowds to make events “profitable”.


Pic: Chris Swathwood

Our “profit” came in the form of Mary. Mary, in her 70’s, and very petite, approached me and asked if she might be able to get a ride since riding in a seaplane was on her “bucket list”. She got the first ride of the event in a 180hp Super Cub flown by SPA member, Wayne Rudd. Wayne said, “The whole day was highlighted by giving Mary that ride.

As it turned out, Mary’s last name is Kenney and it was her relatives that had built Kenney Reservoir. A BBQ picnic provided courtesy of the Seaplane Pilots Association topped off a perfect day!

It is a good thing that Kenney Reservoir is owned and operated by the Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District (RBWCD), a private organization that is not under the jurisdiction of Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). Due to CPW policy, Colorado is the only State in the country that has a total prohibition against seaplanes in all public waters. We owe a great debt to the people of Rangely, Rio Blanco County, and the RBWCD. Without their support this would never had been possible.


Picture: Jeff Haitt, Colorado Pilots Association Member

When AOPA’s Northwest Mountain Regional Manager, Warren Hendricks heard about our successful event, he wrote, “Imagine that! Boats and airplanes successfully coexisting!” …just like they do in the other 49 States.

Ray Hawkins

Ray Hawkins is the Colorado Seaplane Initiative, Director and acts as the Seaplane Pilots Association, Field Director for Colorado, besides being the Seaplane Liaison to Colorado Pilots Association – Ray holds a Commercial Pilot with Instrument, multi-engine, single-engine land and glider rating. He is a CFI and CFII. Ray holds a Master’s degree in Computer and Information Systems Management, a Bachelor’s degree in Professional Aeronautics, another Bachelor’s degree in Computer Studies, and an Associate’s degree in ATC  Technology.


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4 Comments on "First Ever Colorado Mountain Seaplane Splash-In Rangely"

  1. Ray Hawkins | July 29, 2017 at 2:49 pm |

    The boat ramp was a happy coincidence. We were very fortunate. However, the ramp was almost too steep and had algae on the submerged section that resulted in the aircraft sliding more than was acceptable. The skill of the pilot is what allowed the use.

  2. Dave Marion | July 28, 2017 at 10:29 pm |

    Ray, I was just curious about that “seaplane” ramp that the Lake Amphibian is approaching in the photo above…. Was it built for seaplanes or is it just a very wide boat ramp that came in handy and the seaplanes were fortunate enough to be able to use it? It just seemed like a happy accident to me if nobody was expecting to be able to operate seaplanes in CO because of their unfortunate ban. I sure hope the success of this Splash-In helps to change so minds out there! Best of luck!

  3. Thank you kindly for the correction which we included in our revision. It is very unfortunate that none of the two groups have ever reached out to before. In fact we where made aware of these efforts by one of our readers who wondered why we never reported on it. News & Event writeups and article corrections best reach us through E-mail: [email protected]

  4. Ray Hawkins | July 28, 2017 at 1:55 pm |

    One correction…This was the First Ever MOUNTAIN Splash-In in Colorado. The Colorado Seaplane Initiative and the Seaplane Pilots Association have held two other splash-ins in Colorado, June 2016 and May 2017. Both at Lake Meredith on the eastern plains of Colorado near La Junta.

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