|Seaplanes that took part in the 2010 Clear Lake Splash-In in Lakeport, Calif. Photo by Terre Logsdon.|
LAKEPORT, Calif. – The skies over Lakeport will soon be filled with the sounds of seaplanes as pilots arrive in town for the annual Clear Lake Splash-In.
The 33nd annual event, organized by the West Coast Seaplane Pilots Association, will take place this weekend. It’s the oldest and largest seaplane gathering in the Western United States.
Mike Dunlap, the event organizer and acting president of the pilots association, said registration will begin at noon on Friday, but he anticipated planes will begin arriving in Lakeport on Friday morning.
Planes will land on Clear Lake and then use a temporary steel ramp at the Natural High School property on N. Main Street to roll into the field there, where they will stage for the festival. Regular aircraft will fly into Lampson Field.
Dunlap said the bulk of the events will take place on Saturday, with Sunday being a departure day.
Dunlap said there were 29 planes registered to take part as of Thursday evening, with another plane, a Grumman Albatross, set to come from Santa Rosa. Another half dozen planes are to land at Lampson Field.
Pilots are coming from Arizona, Oregon, Nevada and Northern California, Dunlap said.
The association handles the quagga and zebra inspection process for the pilots, issuing their mussel inspection stickers. “We’ve had 100 percent compliance for three years,” he said.
New this year will be a $2 admission fee for the public to enter the Natural High field, where the planes will be on display. Dunlap said that fee, along with increased fees for pilots, was necessary to help cover expenses.
He credited the Lake County Chamber of Commerce and the Lakeport Main Street Association for their efforts to support the splash-in, and also recognized the Lakeport Public Works Department for being one of the event’s biggest supporters and always helping make it happen.
“It’s a large undertaking,” but also an event that benefits the community, Dunlap said.
On Saturday night, there will be a tri-tip dinner, silent auction and raffle for participating pilots at Skylark Shores Resort.
At that time the Seaplane Pilots Foundation will announce the winners of the Tyler Orsow-Chuck Kimes Flying Forever Scholarship, which is meant to fully fund training for a single-engine sea rating.
Kimes, a former splash-in organizer, and Orsow died in a crash in the United Arab Emirates in February 2011 while taking a 1940s seaplane from the Middle East to Texas, as Lake County News has reported.
At Thursday night’s Clearlake City Council meeting, Vice Mayor Jeri Spittler encouraged community members to attend the fly-in.
“It’ll blow your mind,” Spittler said.
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