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Bowden's Landing at Island Lake Seaplane Base

Home of the Annual Searey Inaugural Flight Anniversary Fly-In

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LEESBURG'S "Daily Commercial" news paper article of the 1st Annual SeaRey Inaugural Flight Anniversary Fly-in

Dated Sunday November 28 2010

The whooshing of a Rotax engine caught the attention of camera-ready partygoers as Kerry Richter demonstrated the capabilities of his amphibious aircraft by looping through the air.

​Aviation enthusiasts from all over the world gathered at Bowden’s Landing at Island Lake in Umatilla to enjoy food, planes, prizes and good company. Sunday’s inaugural fly-in at Thomas Bowden’s home commemorated the maiden voyage of Progressive Aerodyne’s SeaRey.

Kerry Richter, his father Wayne Richter and Paige Lynette formed Progressive Aerodyne in 1992. The three collaborated to design the SeaRey, a high-wing, amphibious aircraft in a pusher configuration, Richter said.

The SeaRey’s first flight took place on 
Nov. 13, 1992, at Klinger Airport in Groveland. The flight exceeded expectations, he said. Since then, the company has sold about 540 SeaReys.

​Richter designed and built his first aircraft in junior high at the age of 13. In high school, he took a machine shop class to practice his craftsmanship. The teacher was fond of him, he said, because he was building planes when his peers were doing small projects.

​At age 18, Richter was working on his pilot’s license. He said that the test wasn’t difficult because he had already taught himself to fly.

Richter, who is known by members of the SeaRey community for his tricky maneuvers, was once hired as a stunt pilot in the movie “Do or Die”. He said he would only perform maneuvers in an aircraft he felt was capable of doing them.

The SeaRey has abilities that other planes do not and can maneuver in ways that most other planes cannot, he said. The SeaRey is an exceptional aircraft because the pilot can land it on the water, but can “beach it” and drive on sand or pavement with wheels.

“Most people can only dream of owning a vehicle like this,” he said.

The most exciting part of the SeaRey is the lifestyle, a style that is hard to get anywhere else, he said. Richter attended Bowden’s fly-in to show his support for the ever-growing SeaRey community. 

It’s great to see everyone at the fly-ins, he said, because it’s like a large family reunion. It’s a loving, tight-knit community, he said.

Fran Cantrill attended Sunday’s fly-in and had the chance to ride with Richter in the SeaRey LSX, an aircraft similar to the classic SeaRey but has improved flight characteristics.

“It was amazing,” Cantrill said after her flight with Richter. “We have a SeaRey but this is definitely a Cadillac compared to ours.”

Bowden, who hosted Sunday’s event, said the reason he bought his lakefront property and built his home on it was because he hoped to own a SeaRey one day.

His interest in amphibious flying was sparked when he witnessed the Buccaneer seaplanes perform at Epcot in the 80s, he said. Bowden got his pilot’s license shortly after but decided to build a house before he purchased an aircraft. By the time he got the house finished, he said he didn’t have enough money to buy the plane.

Still waiting for his business and the economy to improve, Bowden said he enjoys hosting fly-ins and being part of the SeaRey community.

​He said he realized he had enough property to host a fly-in after he went to Garner’s a few years ago. Bowden decided to hold his own in February.

​He said he wasn’t expecting much but was surprised when 21 planes showed up to the event in February.

​“I said, ‘holy crap, I need to do this again,’” Bowden said.

​After discovering the first SeaRey flight flew on 
Nov. 13, 1992, Bowden decided to use the anniversary weekend to host the inaugural fly-in.

​Thirteen planes showed up Sunday, but more people arrived who drove instead. At least 50 people were in attendance, he said.

​Bowden baked brownies for the event and grilled the hamburgers and hot dogs. Neighbors and members of theSeaRey community provided the rest of the food, he said.

​Over the year, Bowden collected tools and DVDs to use as raffle prizes for the event. Each attendee received one free raffle ticket, but had the option to purchase more.

After munching on brownies and playing darts on Bowden’s back porch for an hour, Tyler Michael Small had his first SeaRey flight Sunday.

Tyler, 8, and a third-grade student at Lakeville Elementary, said he was excited to tell his friends about the fly-in and his first flight in a SeaRey. He was most surprised that everything looked so tiny from up in the air. The boat in the water looked like a toy, he said.

Rob Reiche, who took 
Tyler on his first-ever flight, said he has owned his SeaRey since 1996. Meeting new people, he said, is his favorite part of fly-ins.

“We’re out here at Bowden’s landing, a little luncheon get together, and my new buddy 
Tyler was needing to make his first flight in an airplane,” Reiche said. “He got a great one today. He was a barrel of laughs up there.”