Getting Seaplanes South For Winter Training!

by Woody Minar

The weather has turned cold in the Midwest, and the snow is threatening, so it’s time for Brian Schanche’s Adventure Seaplanes operation at Surfside Seaplane Base (8Y4) in Lino Lakes, Minnesota, to head south to Florida for the winter. Three or four seaplanes are normally in the three-day, 1200-mile migration, but this fall, a fifth plane – a Twin Beech18 – owned by the new president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Mark Baker, was along for the trip. Flying with Mark to document the trip was AOPA Pilot magazine editor-in-chief, Tom Haines, and videographer, Warren Morningstar. (Expect to read about our trip in AOPA Pilot magazine. Something is already posted online, along with a video at Search for “Weekend Seaplane Odyssey.”)

Adventure Seaplanes owner, Brian Schanche, and instructors Roger Jaworski and myself, have seaplane students with us, and Thomas Walter, a German Lufthansa Captain, had a pilot with his wife getting refresher training.

The students receive training in seaplane cross-country fuel planning, which is a challenge with straight floats; airport landings are not an option. The students also learn to assess takeoffs and landings on rivers, lakes, and reservoirs; rough water, glassy water, and crosswind takeoffs and landings; and docking, beaching, and refueling challenges at boat marinas.

During our stops in Le Claire, Iowa and Guntersville, Ala., Mark was promoting general aviation to the local television station and news media, and to residents who turned out in droves to see this unusual sight of five seaplanes, let alone a 1944 Beech 18 of which only six are flying today. At the end of the trip at Lake Pierce near Lake Wales, Fla., all three of our students received their Airplane Single-Engine Sea Pilot Certificate before returning home to various parts of the country.

In late April, the migration back to Lino Lakes begins. Anyone interested in making one of these trips (which fill up quickly) should contact Brian Schanche at (

EDITOR’S NOTE: Woody Minar is a Designated Pilot Examiner for the Minneapolis FSDO, and Chief Flight Instructor at Osceola AeroSport in Osceola, Wis. (KOEO). He was the 2012 Great Lakes Region CFI of the Year and the Great Lakes Region FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year.

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