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Water Flying – It’s Magic

April 17, 2009

A Sun ‘n Fun Guide for those pilots who haven’t yet experienced the welcome splash of a beautiful alighting

To the causal observer, seaplanes sometimes appear to be the “stealth” aircraft of the aviation world.  They’re not often found on the ramps of popular hometown airports.  Seaplane enthusiasts don’t routinely seek out the front porch rocking chairs of the local FBO’s.  Water flyers are much more at home on the shores of a pristine lake casting for bass or flying a few feet off the cat tails along a remote wetland.  These craft often live in the lakeside backyard seaplane bases of their drivers, rather than air field tie-down areas.   

Fortunately for us all, Sun ‘n Fun has become the country’s premier locale to experience seaplanes up close and personal in their natural habitat.  Seaplanes are not only very visible at Sun ‘n Fun, they’re fast becoming a star attraction.  For the second straight year, the Sun ‘n Fun campus has expanded its domain to include the waters and shoreline of world famous Fantasy of Flight, just a 4-lane highway, easy 30-minute drive from Sun ‘n Fun.  Throughout the entire week of Sun ‘n Fun, seaplane lovers will gather on the shores of Lake Agnes, adjoining Fantasy of Flight.  Many water flying enthusiasts are camping near their seaplanes throughout the week on the shore side acreage. Come on over and experience the world of water flight first hand.  The seaplane base at Fantasy of Flight provides a beautiful alternative change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the Sun ‘n Fun campus.  And it’s all included in your Sun ‘n Fun daily admission.  Catch a tram and come on over.

Thursday, April 23, seaplanes own the show!   Water and aerial seaplane demonstrations will be presented throughout the day on Thursday (see Sun ‘n Fun’s schedule).  Seaplane contests will provide the nation’s most avid water flyers many opportunities to impress the judges and wow the crowds.   And the festivities won’t end with sundown.  Be sure to stay for the Seaplane Dinner Thursday evening held inside the main showroom of the Fantasy of Flight facility, co-sponsored by the Seaplane Pilots Association.

The Sun ‘n Fun main campus is also loaded with seaplanes.  Walk in the shadows of the “Golden Age of Aviation”, when seaplanes dominated commercial aviation worldwide.  The era of the great flying boats like the ocean-crossing China Clippers, the massive Spruce Goose, and great passenger seaplane liners spawned magnificent recreational flying boats of the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s.  Flying boats like the Albatross, Grummon Goose, Wigeon, and Mallard.  See these beautiful aviation legends on display near the War Bird Ramp.  And visit the nearby Amphibian Aircraft parking area to the south of the core area, near the Antique Aircraft area.  Here you’ll see seaplanes of every type, both large and small, but all equipped with alternative wheel landing gear to provide for the option of runway operations when they run out of water.

You will find other seaplanes among the Light Sport Aircraft category scattered throughout Sun ‘n Fun, both hull type flying boats and float planes.  Light Sport seaplanes, regardless of their configuration, have only two seats and have maximum weight limitations.  But their pilots are extended more liberal flight training and medical requirements, and their costs are generally significantly lower.

Seaplanes aren’t invisible, they just seem that way to the uninitiated.  But Sun ‘n Fun is definitely the perfect place to experience the excitement and adventure of water flying first hand – to get your feet wet in that aviation realm where flying is just plain fun.  Be careful, though – the water’s fine, but it’s highly contagious.

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