by Michael J. “Mick” Kaufman
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is over for another year, and I would like to share a few of my thoughts with you from my perspective.
The first EAA Convention I attended was in 1965 at Rockford, Illinois. It was much smaller and different than the event is today. I have not missed the convention since 1965, and I flew my own aircraft to the event in 1967. It was an Aeronca L3 (Defender), which I bought for $425.00. I was living in Oshkosh at that time and never would have dreamed the event would move there and become the size it is today.
I have volunteered at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh for 12 years and seemed to have found my niche as “point controller” at the EAA Seaplane Base. The job of point controller is to give advisory to arriving and departing seaplanes and control aircraft water taxiing into and out of the lagoon.
My interest in seaplanes came early on in my flying career, and I was one of the caretakers of the seaplane base, once owned by Bill Brennand and Al Zebell during the mid-1960s. I paid for my flight training by working for Bill Brennand, and one of my duties was cutting the grass. For those who have never visited the seaplane base during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, it is completely opposite from the fast-paced event at Wittman Airport. The seaplane base is hidden from sight by woods with a nature trail winding its way from the main gate to the water.
This year’s seaplane base attendance totaled 91 seaplanes and approximately 20 amphibians at the airport, according to Ann Seehafer, co-chairman at the base. I started my volunteer work on the Sunday evening before the opening morning and spent most of the convention, there. The weather on several occasions forced evacuation of the point between Lake Winnebago and the bay where seaplanes are moored, because of storms, and there were not many seaplane arrivals during the first few days of the convention. Lake Winnebago can get extremely rough with north or east winds, and the roughest seaplane landing in my entire seaplane flying career was in my seaplane during arrival at the convention several years ago.
There are always certain interesting aircraft that visit the seaplane base; some of them are in rare form as seaplanes. Last year, AOPA President Mark Baker arrived in his immaculately polished twin Beech 18 on floats. This year, a cabin-class Howard and Waco were among some of the more unusual aircraft visiting the base.
Some of the rather unique aircraft, which made their début at the seaplane base over the years have included a Russian seaplane that sat so low in the water that its wings were almost hidden when stationary. Also, there was an ICON amphibian (www.iconaircraft.com), which created a great deal of interest among seaplane pilots at the show. The first production ICON aircraft manufactured was completed in June of 2014, and the first deliveries are scheduled to begin in early 2015 of the more than 1,000 orders already placed – a good sign for GA!
This year another new seaplane was the MVP and is a proof-of-concept aircraft, only, at this point. I was personally impressed with the design and if it reaches production, I would consider owning one. In many respects, the MVP has a lot of similarities to the ICON in design with numerous enhancements that add to the aircraft’s versatility. If you did not see the aircraft on display at Oshkosh, be sure to view this promotional video: http://mvp.aero/?utm_source=Introducing+the+MVP&utm_campaign=MVP&utm_medium=email
Every year, the EAA staff and management choose six volunteers for an award called the “Brown Arch Brick Award” to honor the dedicated service of volunteers. The brick is engraved with the volunteer’s name and placed at the Brown Arch, the main walkway where literally hundreds of thousands of people enter AirVenture. This year Paul and Ann Seehafer, the co-chairs of the EAA Seaplane Base, were chosen for this prestigious award. I have worked with Paul and Ann for many years at the EAA Seaplane Base and would like to add my personal congratulations to them as well. The Seehafers have been great people to work with, and are as dedicated to the volunteers that work under them, as they are to the tasks at hand.
Until EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015, fly safe! May there be smooth, but not glassy water wherever you splash down.