Growing Up With Seaplanes In The Family
Guest Editorial written by Tricia Dunham — There is no doubt that our parents influence us and though my mother has guided me in many aspects of my life, my father has also been a huge inspiration to me. Growing up with three older brothers, it was inevitable that I was going to be a tomboy and Dad encouraged that whenever he could. Through my dad’s influence, I developed a great love of the outdoors, the woods, hunting, fishing, horses and float planes.
Dad owned four different airplanes; two Champs, a little red and white Cessna 170 and the one I remember best, his copper and white Cessna 180 on floats. It seemed perfectly normal for my dad to have a floatplane when I was growing up. I mean, didn’t everyone’s dad have a floatplane? Once I realized they didn’t it became that much more special to me.
There were a few times when it was pretty obvious how special it was that he had a floatplane. Most of my fondest memories of the 180 were in my high school days. On one occasion I was at a practice for a scholarship pageant I had entered. We were rehearsing in a local community center which was located on the shores of Sebasticook Lake in Newport, Maine.
Practice was nearly over when I heard the familiar roar of an airplane as it had just landed and was coming across the lake to the community center. I peeked out the window to get a look at the plane, as was my habit then and now. To my shock, I recognized the unmistakable copper and white floatplane and knew it was my dad coming to surprise me. I told the pageant director “I have to leave because my plane is here” and obviously she didn’t believe me. After some convincing, I was able to leave practice, load up in the 180 with Dad, and fly home like a superstar. Mom had to drive home alone, though.
On another occasion, my entire high school participated in a small-scale rafting trip down a portion of the Kennebec River from Solon to North Anson, Maine. Halfway through the trip, we stopped along the river for the scheduled lunch break. Imagine a group of roughly 150 high school age kids eating lunch on the edge of a river, talking about the most important things to a kid in the mid-nineties.
Suddenly, the sound of an approaching airplane broke the rumble of conversations. Everyone started scanning the sky as the sound was getting closer and closer. Then, like a magnificent motorized bird, he appeared over the trees, following the river. There was my dad, making his grand appearance when he gave us an impressive fly-by. It was glorious! With a tip of the wing he waved to me as I waved to him from the edge of the river. The majority of the kids and teachers knew exactly who it was and those who didn’t soon found out. That was MY dad! I was very proud.
Then, in the fall of my senior year of high school I was selling yearbook ads and chose to go to the town of Greenville which was a little more than an hour drive from my house. Dad suggested we fly rather than drive. Of course! So we loaded into the 180 and in about one-half-hour we were in Greenville. It was a short ride but the autumn scenery was beautiful with the reds, yellows, and oranges of the hardwoods mixed with the greens of the softwoods viewed from an altitude that gives you the best perspective of the beauty of fall.
Dad and I both thought this was the most creative and fun way to go to Greenville for an afternoon, however we hadn’t thought ahead as to how we were going to get around the town of Greenville so I could sell the ads. Dad had landed and docked his plane at Folsom’s Hangar on Moosehead Lake. His long-time friend, Dick Folsom, came to say hi and when Dad told him why we were there Dick said, “Here’s my keys, there’s my car. See you in a bit.” After visiting the local businesses in town, we went back to the hangar, thanked Dick for the use of his car, and flew back home. Just a typical day for a girl and her dad.
Another glorious flight Dad would take me on from time to time was when we lived in Rockwood and he would fly around Mount Kineo. We would take off from Brassua Lake (pronounced Brass-way) and fly the circumference of Mount Kineo on occasion. Kineo, as we call it, is an impressive mountain/peninsula on Moosehead Lake and is quite popular with hikers and tourists. It’s small enough to be able to circumnavigate and get a view of the entire mountain that only a special few have seen from the air. It’s amazing to say the least. If you’ve ever flown around Kineo you know what I mean. If you haven’t, you should.
These are good memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. Not every young gal could say her dad is a pilot with his own float-plane but I could. I was very proud of my dad as I was growing up and now as an adult I can appreciate his wisdom and many talents and I am so glad to have these recollections to last me a lifetime.
Tricia Dunham lives in Abbot, Maine together with her husband Jim and their dog Whiskey. She works for Hardwood Products, LLC and enjoys the outdoors, hunting, fishing and also harbors a passion for horses. The avid hunter had her writing work featured in Northwoods Sporting Journal. Tricia and Jim have attended the International Seaplane Fly In in Greenville, Maine for many years. Submit your guest editorial via Email: [email protected], please pay attention to our editorial guidelines.