How The “Real Fun Of Seaplane Flying” Started For Me
Opinion Editorial written by Jason J. Baker — Even though my first exposure and introduction to seaplane flying happened in 1999 under the wings of my uncle, there is one particular flight with a former boss of mine, that had a profound effect on me and plays a big part of there being a Seaplanemagazine.com today! This one single flight did more to teach me about the passion and fun of seaplane flying than any other experience I previously had on floats or water.
Sometime from 2005 – 2006 I had the privilege of working for Ron Caruso (aka. “Mr. Cessna 402”) who owns Maine Aviation Sales, Inc. My job there entailed aircraft acquisition research and gaining my first insights into aircraft maintenance, parts sales, as well as all aspects of aircraft sales and brokerage. At the time a proud standing Cessna 206 on EDO 3400 Amphibious (N700RC) was his preferred commuter vehicle from his house on the shores of Sebago Lake to Portland (KPWM) where the company was at the time.
There Is A Free Lunch!
One sunny day he walked into my office and said: “Hey Jay, lets go get lunch!”. We had lunch often, so up I was, heading for the door, thinking we’d go to Portland for some nice soup n sub with the Tahoe. But, instead of going for the parking lot, Ron turned left and headed towards the Stationair sitting on her wheels in front of the hangar. A routinized pre-flight check and some explanations about the plane later, we had filled into the 206. Ron spent quite some time on pre-flighting and briefing me about egress and safety and off we went. Did you know that a Cessna 206 with a IO-550 in it and a RSTOL kit packs a nice punch?
Arrive For Lunch With A Seaplane
We departed Portland for Sebago Lake where one of the lakeside restaurants have a boat dock that allowed to tie down a high- wing Cessna. As we circled the lake to determine wind direction and select a perfect landing site, Ron explained the gear annunciation system and how one really never wants to silence it.
Knowing both plane and conditions on this lake like the back of his hand, he landed and step-taxied towards the dock. As if it was something Ron had done a billion times, he shut the engine down just in time for us to slowly and softly coast into the squeaking tires on the dock. People sitting on their deck watched us as we nonchalantly walked up the dock and selected our seats for our lunch.
Incredible Freedom Mixed With Adventure
As we ate lunch and talked about the company and business, I could not help but let my eyes wander toward the machine that was sitting out there, gently being rocked by the cool lake water. I thought: What the heck just happened? In some 20 minutes we had flown to an amazingly beautiful location, landed on the water and sat in a typical Maine restaurant, eating fine seafood and chatting. How could anything ever top this?
After an hour or so, we headed back outside and prepped the plane for the flight home. Well aware of the departure procedure from the dock, I was the guy doing the push and jump from the dock to get us pointed towards free water. Calmly performing his engine run up, he made everything look pretty darn easy and relaxed as we departed the lake. Ron let me fly most of the way home and under his guidance, I performed my first wheel landing with an amphibious 206 on Runway 18 in Portland.
As I was driving home from work that day, I realized that having a boss who takes you to lunch with a seaplane is a luxury reserved to the fewest. I guess Ron is about to find out what a huge impression he left on me that day, I don’t think I ever told him.
You Need To Do This – Now!
Even though I had started taking seaplane lessons in 1999, it took me until 2008 to make the jump and this one flight had lots to do with it. Remember that this fun isn’t reserved to the richest, but can be accomplished on a budget. If I had a plane I’d take a fellow pilot along for just such a flight. Many never realize what one single flight can invoke in someone. All the training I had received prior to this flight had been pure training with little focus on having fun with what amounts to be the ultimate freedom machine aviation has to offer. You can experience this in a 85 horsepower Cub, many LSA’s all the way up to very large flying boats.
Don’t miss out on this and remember – neither age, gender, skin color or which walk of life you walked before – matter one bit in making Seaplanes & Waterflying a part of your life!
Jason Baker works as a marketing & advertising consultant, translator and freelance writer with a focus on the aviation and automotive industry. He holds a commercial pilot certificate (SEL/SES/MEL), instrument rating as well as advanced & instrument ground instructor certificates. Jason is the owner & managing editor of Seaplanemagazine.com and also serves as Editor Europe for AVweb.com. For more information about consulting and writing services offered, visit Baker Aviation Consulting & Services via: jasonjamesbaker.com