LAKE JAMES — An aircraft that was expected to take the post-World War II private plane market by storm will be the featured plane at this year’s Indiana Seaplane Pilots Association Seaplane Splashin at Pokagon State Park on Sunday.
The Republic Seabee RC-3, which was in production for only two years following the end of the war, is a unique amphibious plane with a rear, push engine.
It is a flying boat type of plane that has retractible landing gear.
“It’s a hulled aircraft as opposed to a pontoon aircraft,” said Randy Strebig, Splashin organizer and Indiana’s representative to the national Seaplane Pilots Association.
Owner of the Seabee, which was built in 1947, the final year of production, is Ed “ET” Tello of Lake Norman, Long Island, North Carolina. He is North Carolina’s representative to the Seaplane Pilots Association.
Strebig said he and Tello have gotten to know one another through various seaplane events.
“We’ve just become friends through the seaplane world,” Strebig said.
People around the Lake James area will probably start noticing seaplanes in the skies on Saturday when many out-of-town pilots start to show up for the event, which is expected to draw some 30 planes if the weather allows.
“It has to be good weather for about a 200-mile radius, coming and going,” Strebig said.
The event itself runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., though some pilots have been known to stay past the 4 p.m. end.
In addition to the featured aircraft, Strebig said their might be some other special aircraft show up, but he was not going to show his cards in the event the planes could not arrive due to weather.
“It’s going to be a real impressive beach,” if all aircraft show, Strebig said.
Aircraft that have only pontoons park at the beach in front of Potawatomi Inn. Other planes, the amphibious, can park on the lawn in front of Potawatomi Inn.
People attending the event are able to get close to the aircraft and may meet and converse with the pilots and crews. There are also drawings for seaplane rides.
“No one else in Indiana does what we do,” Strebig said.
The event is put on with support from Pokagon and Potawatomi Inn with a big assist from the Steuben County Tourism Bureau and the Lake James Association.
People who arrive by boat are asked to stay clear of the landing area in the lake in front of the Potawatomi Inn beach. For those arriving by vehicle, the standard entrance of $7 per Indiana licensed vehicle and $9 for out of state vehicles is charged.