July 15, 2017 – Colorado’s First Mountain Splash-In

Kenney Reservoir – Splash-In

Saturday, July 15th, opened to a beautiful Western Colorado blue sky.  By the time the day was over most of the attendees were describing the 96-degree day as the “coolest” they had ever seen.

Several hundred attendees converged on Kenney Reservoir for the First Ever Mountain Splash-In in Colorado.  As many Coloradans will tell you, the western half of the State is usually left out of these events because the ease of travel and the larger population centers of the Colorado Front Range make it much easier to draw the crowds to make events “profitable”.

Our “profit” came in the form of Mary.  Mary, in her 70’s, and very petite,  approached me and asked if she might be able to get a ride since riding in a seaplane was on her “bucket list”.  She got the first ride of the event in a 180hp Super Cub flown by SPA member, Wayne Rudd (Kenney2017CS01.jpg).  Wayne said, “The whole day was highlighted by giving Mary that ride.”

As it turned out, Mary’s last name is Kenney and it was her relatives that had built Kenney Reservoir.

A BBQ picnic provided courtesy of the Seaplane Pilots Association topped off a perfect day!

It is a good thing that Kenney  Reservoir is owned and operated by the Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District (RBWCD), a private organization that is not under the jurisdiction of Colorado Parks and Wildlife.  Colorado is the only State in the country that has a total prohibition against seaplanes in all public waters.  We owe a great debt to the people of Rangely, Rio Blanco County, and the RBWCD.  Without their support, this would never have been possible.

When AOPA’s Northwest Mountain Regional Manager, Warren Hendricks heard about our successful event, he wrote, “Imagine that! Boats and airplanes successfully coexisting!”  …just like they do in the other 49 States.

Photo credits to Images
Jeff Haitt & Chris Swathwood of the Colorado Pilots Association

Kenney 7-15-2017 Splash-in

Kenney 7-15-2017 Splash-in

Kenney 7-15-2017 Splash-in

Kenney 7-15-2017 Splash-in

Kenney 7-15-2017 Splash-in



May 20, 2017 – Second Annual Spring Splash-In

Lake Meredith – Splash-In

The Splash-In was a great success!

The weather leading up to the event was horrendous and caused the turnout to be lighter than expected.  A couple aircraft canceled fearing the weather and conditions at the lake would not be suitable.  I must confess that I too was doing a bit of panic.  But, I did something I rarely do…I believed the forecast.  Mother Nature must be a seaplane pilot, for just as predicted, the morning of the event dawned with beautiful blue skies and light winds.  The ideal day!  A hastily arranged dump truck of beach sand was poured over the worst of the mud at the park, and we were in business!

The invasive species inspection station was established at the LHX airport and performed flawlessly.  Cade Sallee, was our volunteer that obtained all the training and equipment needed to expertly manned the station.  A video of the inspection process is available on Youtube.  The video was captured and produced by Chris Swathwood.  I am told that Chris will have a couple more videos for the splash-in available soon.

After successfully completing the inspection, the Cessna Caravan departed LHX just after 8 am and arrived at the lake at 8:20 am.  I was honored with the opportunity to fly it from LHX to 11CO.  The aircraft is a beautiful example of Cessna workmanship and quality that we have come to appreciate in all their aircraft.  This was my first opportunity to fly a Caravan and it responded very much like its smaller brother the 206, except of course it can carry 10 pax and.  I highly recommend anyone that has the opportunity to jump at it.  This aircraft was provided through the courtesy of Textron Aviation as part of their ongoing support of general aviation and the Colorado Seaplane Initiative.  Thank you to the Cessna flight and ground crew!  We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Mike Smith from Kansas flew his Lake Renegade 250 to the lake.  Mike can always be counted on to support our events.  Mike is a professional crop duster and his business is in high demand most flyable days.  Nonetheless, Mike made the commitment to support our event.  Furthermore, Mike has contributed donations to the Colorado Seaplane Initiative and our legislative efforts.  He is also the only one to have brought his seaplane to both our events at Lake Meredith.  He is truly committed to water flying and general aviation.  His aircraft is featured in the invasive species video.  Thank You, Mike!

The seminars were well received and attended.  Rick Durden, aviation author, attorney, and seaplane instructor was a big hit.  His comments on instructing in seaplanes and the techniques used by seaplanes pilots to integrate safely with other water users were both informative and entertaining.  His words of wisdom were developed from years of aviation and seaplane experience.  Rick committed to us even though his schedule is quite demanding and he had to drive several hours to be with us.  Please visit Rick’s website at www.rickdurden.com.  Rick, we are honored by the gift of your time and experience…Thank You!

There were many others involved in organizing this event.  I know that I might miss someone; so, please know that all your efforts on behalf of the Colorado Seaplane Initiative and the Seaplane Pilots Association are deeply appreciated.
Bruce Hughes
Tobe Allumbaugh
Cheryl Rivard-Baker
Chris Swathwood
Cary Alburn and Molly
Kelly Sloan
Barb Marsh
and the attendees at our event…you all are making a difference!

Moving on! – Colorado’s First ever mountain Splash-in is Scheduled on July 15, 2017, at Rangely, Colorado!
See you there!

June 18, 2016 – Colorado’s First Ever Seaplane Splash-In

Lake Meredith – Splash-In

We had a wonderful and historic time at Lake Meredith on June 18th.  There were ~500 attendees and 4 seaplanes.  We established a permanent seaplane base and created an airmark at the site.  We have proven our concept of operations by establishing an inspection process that was recognized by a sitting State Senator.  Everything we accomplished was a Colorado “First”.

This success demonstrates that the general public of Colorado will embrace seaplanes, even if Colorado Parks and Wildlife will not.  This is just the encouragement needed to move the immovable.  Each of you shares in this success.  Yes, we are moving forward.  Senator Crowder will be helping us develop a new round of legislation to permanently remove Colorado Parks and Wildlife strangles hold.  The Lake Meredith Company and Crowley County are working on new agreements that will remove the “indemnity” requirement and we will convert the Tamarack Beach Seaplane Base into a public use facility; the First Public User Seaplane Base in Colorado!  As more Colorado residents become aware that seaplanes are bringing new and exciting activities closer and as seaplanes demonstrate that they are fully compatible with all other water uses, we will see a steadily expanding ring of accessible water.  This has already begun and it is because of you!

I had a lot of help putting this event together, there are far too many for me to thank each one personally.  Be assured your contributions are not unnoticed.

Anyone that has pictures of the event please send them to me.

Please join or renew membership with the Seaplane Pilots Association and the Colorado Pilots Association.  These organizations have been fighting for our rights as pilots, aviators, aircraft owners, aviation enthusiasts, passengers, in other words; All General Aviation.   The small membership fees go a long way to enable these organizations to continue the fight; but, more importantly, by becoming a member these organizations can go to our legislators with hard numbers; numbers that show that Coloradans support the aviation industry, economic growth, and seaplanes.  It is easy to ignore one person; but, the government cannot ignore thousands.