BRAINERD, MINN. – Under the leadership of Randy Schoephoerster, owner of the flight school Air Trek North at Minneapolis Airlake Airport in Lakeville, Minnesota (www.airtreknorth.com), the Minnesota Seaplane Pilots Association (MSPA) took a giant leap forward this year with its seminar and fly-in, May 15-17, 2015, at Madden’s Resort on Gull Lake near Brainerd, Minnesota. Attendance was up from years past in part due to some heavy promotion, but the association’s decision to move the dates from the first weekend in May to mid-May gave the ice time to melt. As a result, 20 floatplanes flew in, and aircraft on wheels landed at nearby East Gull Lake Airport (9Y2) and Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport (KBRD).
Seminar speakers included Minnesota DOT Office of Aeronautics Director Cassandra Isackson; MNDOT Aeronautics chief pilot, Jeff Flynn; Seaplane Pilots Association Executive Director Steve McCaughey (www.seaplanes.org); FAA aviation safety inspector, Kevin Morris; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources aquatic invasive species specialist, Jason Jenson; and float manufacturers Chuck Wiplinger of Wipaire, Inc., Jeff Voight of Aeroset, and Brian Huberty of Clamar. Discussing Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and rules and regulations affecting their operation was Wipaire chief pilot, Brian Addis. Kevin Morris of the FAA discussed seaplane accidents, Brian Schanche of Adventure Bound Seaplanes discussed flying in the Arctic Circle and Alaska, and retired air traffic controller, Mark Schreier, also spoke.
An accuracy-landing contest was held on Saturday afternoon before dinner. Brian Schanche of Lino Lakes, Minnesota took first place honors in his Cessna 185. Brad Hayden of Robotic Skies was the banquet speaker who discussed how drones can affect general aviation pilots. According to Hayden, more than 500,000 UAS are now in the hands of non-aviators for the most part. Lightspeed donated a Zulu headset as the grand door prize of the event. Wipaire, Inc. sponsored the band in O’Madden’s Pub following the banquet.
The mission statement of the Minnesota Seaplane Pilots Association is to promote seaplane flying and safety programs; to promote a forum for the purpose of educating government officials, the legislature and the public on seaplane operations; and to create safe and compatible seaplane base facilities in Minnesota.