Indiana Seaplane Pilots Association Safely Holds 2020 Splash-In, Despite Pandemic

Cessna 208 Caravan

by Randy Strebig
President, Indiana Seaplane Pilots Association
Indiana Field Director, Seaplane Pilots Association
Copyright 2020. All rights reserved!
Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine (online) – December 2020/January 2021 issue

What an AMAZING weekend. The 18th Annual Indiana Seaplane Pilots Association Splash-In at the Pokagon State Park was held September 19th and 20th, 2020. There are few words to describe how special this weekend’s Splash-In was in the shadows of a pandemic. We pivoted our activities to be considerate of this and worked with the state park personnel to develop an accepted plan to safely hold the event.   

Nineteen (19) aircraft flew in for the fly-in from as far away as Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Once again, the splash-in continues to have a 100% safety record and a lot of happy pilots and guests, even if the smiles were behind our very fun seaplane masks. We had 23 aircraft participate between both days from all over the Midwest, including the surprise arrival of Mark Wrasse from Green Bay, Wisconsin in his M7 Maule. Mark is no stranger to seaplane events, as he is chairman of the EAA Vette/Blust Seaplane Base (96WI) on Lake Winnebago, Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

A 1946 Republic RC-3 Seabee on display and on takeoff!

There were 19 different aircraft types represented this weekend, which is pretty amazing, everything from an Aero Adventure Aventura, J-3 Piper Cub and Progressive Aerodyne SeaRey, to a Republic RC-3 Seabee, de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, Cessna 208 Caravan, and everything in between. This was no particular challenge, however, for our professional aviation announcer, Jakob Mckenney. Jakob joined us for his first visit to Indiana from the great state of Maine. I met him a couple years ago at the Greenville, Maine International Seaplane Splash-In doing his amazing announcing. I can promise you that Jakob has committed to memory more about the 19 aircraft types at our splash-in than any of us will ever know. I would suspect he could probably tell aircraft owners more about their particular aircraft than they even know. He is truly impressive!

We invited Jakob to come and announce, since we wouldn’t be doing rides this year.

 

Part of our 2020 plan was to get bios on pilots and have demo flights flown by all who wanted to participate. The Coldwater, Michigan EAA Chapter set up their PA system with the help of Joe Best, and Jakob did his thing announcing to the crowd. We received such good feedback over this that we have booked him for next year’s event. Nearly every pilot who flew in provided a bio and flew a demo. This kept the water ops and sky filled with the beautiful sights and sounds of floatplanes.

A big thank you and standing ovation to all of the pilots who flew their aircraft to our event. They all did a top-notch, professional job! I would like to extend my appreciation to the community for coming out to Pokagon State Park and the Potawatomi Inn to enjoy our annual event, and some of the most perfect weather we have ever experienced this year, and for cooperating with the Covid safety requirements.

Additionally, I would like to thank the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, State Parks Administration, the staff of Pokagon State Park with leadership from managers Ted Bohman and Tami Sawvel, who were on duty throughout the event, and to Potawatomi Inn Manager Emily Burris and her staff who attended to our food needs. Thanks to Terry Hallet, who manages the Angola Airport (KANQ) and his staff, for attending to our wheel plane and amphibian aircraft needs, and I cannot say enough about all of the volunteers who assisted with set up, teardown and safety of the event. Of course, we cannot forget the 23 pilots who chose to make the trip. Fortunately, each pilot made it home safely Sunday afternoon following the event.   

Our Saturday evening “Barbecue and Bonfire” at my runway on the other side of the lake was no less spectacular with the beautiful night, and the local Land of Lakes Lions Club preparing our evening meal. We dropped two loads of skydivers into our grass airstrip (myself-included) from our seaplane flown by Allison Wheaton, and the Gravity Powered Sports Cessna 182 jump plane.

I must not forget to mention and thank the Lake James Association which has been a supporter and sponsor of this event for all 18 years running, along with the Steuben County Visitors and Tourism Bureau for their annual support, which stepped up their effort by underwriting the design and making of 500 “Seaplanes Are Fun” facemasks that were well received and worn by all.

We are grateful for the exposure and stories provided by the Herald Republican newspaper, Swick Broadcasting’s WLKI and Channel 15 TV, and Midwest Flyer Magazine.

Thanks to the many volunteers who assisted with the set-up, tear down and aircraft safety.

Thanks also to our unsung hero, Steve Whitney, who hasn’t been able to attend for a few years, but thanklessly updates our website and is rumored to be improving the website for next year.

We will be looking forward to next year’s event, September 18 and 19, 2021. Mark your calendars now!

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