The Largest Gathering Of Republic Seabees Ever Attends AirVenture
By Grace Huseth
EAA AirVenture 2015 hosted the largest gathering of Republic Seabee seaplanes. On Thursday, eleven Seabees took off in a special salute fly-by starting at Wittman Field and ending with water demonstrations at the EAA Seaplane base.
The Seabees were from all over North America, including South Carolina, Canada, and Texas. Seabee pilot Pete Norman traveled the farthest, logging over 2,000 miles from Lake Tahoe.
“Seaplanes are so different from anything else. To be able to take off and land in water and go anywhere is amazing,” said Edgar E.T. Tello, leader in the Seaplane Pilot Association.
Tello started flying in 1981, flew in the air force and as an United Airlines international captain. With all of his flying experience, he prefers the Seabee to anything else. He currently lives in Long Island Airpark, a community of 42 people in Catawba County about 17 miles west of Mooresville, NC.
The Seabee pilots’ passion is shared online at republicseabee.com so all Seabee owners can come together and learn more about their seaplanes. The International Republic Seabee Owner’s Club and republicseabee.com forum was created and authored by Steve Mestler. He combines service bulletins, restoration information, and archives of old newsletters dating back from the mid ‘70s. Many Seabee pilots claim Mestler’s site is more accessible and through than sifting through FAA resources.
“We want to keep our rights to the waterways. Our job is to prove we are licensed and trained and that seaplanes are safe,” Tello said.
Henry Ruzakowski specializes in work on the Seabees. He confirms that seaplanes are safe and their over-designed structure has resulted in fewer fatalities than any other aircraft.
Seabee pilots decided 2015 was the year to make the biggest splash into Oshkosh raise awareness for their community. In the future the group plans to organize many “splash-ins”. Their previous gatherings can included bases from Lake Pleasant in Speculator, NY and to down south in Guntersville, Alabama. The tight-knit group also takes day trips to each other’s seaplane bases around the country.
(Images by John Cuny and ANN Staff)