It was going to be an awesome video. I had seaplanes taking off and landing right on the front lawn of the Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon! I captured them splashing down, taking off, flying low right over our heads, close-ups of pilots doing final checks, ground crews pulling planes to shore, children playing in the sand with rows upon rows of seaplanes behind them. I had it all. Apparently it was so good, that my five-year old couldn’t resist taking the camera into his own hands once we got home and no one was looking, and umm, adding to it. In his excitement to be part of the action, he deleted it all…every last perfect fall day shot of the 14th Annual Fly-In!
Luckily, I did snap a few photos too, so all is not completely lost. An event like this is hard to find anywhere let alone in a small northern Indiana community. But yet, it’s been going strong for more than a decade, thanks to Randy Strebig, a local seaplane pilot and president of the Indiana Seaplane Pilots Association. Part of the success is also due to the fact that Lake James (the lake on which the event is located) has been designated a public seaplane base. That means anyone can fly in instead of getting private permission in advance to attend.
My family and I have made an annual event of attending rain or shine, in warm or cold weather. Believe me, we’ve come in our share of bad weather. To their credit, the pilots and their planes always show in great numbers and put on a great event. They’re truly an accessible lot, opening up their aircrafts for spectators to look inside. Often they’ll allow people to climb inside to test out the pilot’s seat and see everything up close. Most of the pilots are more than willing to share stories of their experiences and answer any questions.
While the Fly-In is a great chance for seaplane pilots to congregate, it’s an even bigger chance for the general public to get a first hand look at something most landlocked people don’t often get to see. There’s also a drawing for several chances to take a ride in many of the planes.
I don’t know much about seaplanes, but it’s still a lot of fun watching all the different kind so planes come in. Some are very old with historical significance, others are state-of-the-art with all the bells and whistles, and a good deal of them are experimental. What’s that mean for us? No two are the same. So there’s always something new to watch as they take off and land.
Which brings me to the land…as I mentioned before it takes place on the lawn of Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park. The event itself is free, but normal fees for getting into state parks apply—unless of course you have a state park pass (good at all Indiana State Parks). Pokagon is located just off I-69 at exit at 450 Lane 100 Lake James, Angola, 46703. But my favorite directions for the event are those posted for the pilots: Fly direct to Angola airport (KANQ) in the far northeast corner of Indiana, then fly out runway 05. You will overfly some water but keep your eyes out for an island with a house on it, then look 30 degrees to the north and you will see a large inn with a red roof!
Make plans now to join the fun next year—always the last Sunday in September. You might even make a weekend of it and plan to camp at Pokagon or stay at the hotel!