Our summers wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the International Seaplane Fly-In, held annually the weekend after Labor Day in beautiful Greenville.

The event was launched in 1973, thanks to the combined efforts of locals Dave Quinn, Duane Lander, Telford Allen, Chip Taylor, Dick Folsom and legendary bush pilot Charlie Coe. It was created, in the words of the organizers, “to promote fellowship, personal contact and unification among seaplane pilots, and to hold recreational and competitive events.”

And for nearly 40 years it has been doing that in spades.

Even single-engine, land-rated pilots like myself feel a certain kinship with our seaplane brethren as we immerse ourselves in the friendly camaraderie of the weekend.

My special bond goes back over 30 years, because of friendships with the original organizers and the fact I sold a beloved Aero Commander Lark, in which I had logged over 2,000 hours, to four buddies in Greenville. This meant I had to travel there every September to see them and to visit my old plane.

For the past 10 years or more, my wife and I have combined the fun of the Fly-In with the chance to take one of our favorite motorcycle rides, from the midcoast up through Newport to Greenville, across to Jackman, and back down the Kennebec through The Forks and Skowhegan on the return trip.

It’s about 250 miles of beautiful Maine scenery, combined with the near guarantee that we’ll spot a moose or two, especially on the road between Rockwood and Jackman.

The Fly-In itself is truly a spectacle, with the thousands of attendees treated to organized fly-bys featuring vintage, modern and home-built aircraft. Competitions include take-offs, spot landings, accuracy bomb drops and two-person bush pilot canoe races (combining paddling and piloting skills).

Not only are traditional Cessnas, Cubs and Beavers present in abundance, we’ve spied a 1944 Grumman Goose and what may now be the only DC-3 on floats still flying in the world.

Downtown Greenville is abuzz during the weekend, with an ever-expanding craft fair, food vendors and other local attractions.

The main street is lined with booths, and the town common area is awash in enticing food scents.

Local restaurants have Fly-In specials, and the ambiance is that of a real hometown celebration.

Visitors not only enjoy the sights and sounds of aircraft flying low over the village as they approach the lake to land, they often get to see old friends, joined in affection for both aircraft and the spectacular Moosehead scenery. I look forward to seeing the flying/biking/skiing buddies sure to be there.

A visit to Greenville isn’t complete unless you, at least once, take the time to cruise the lake on a genuine National Historic Landmark, the Katahdin.

As the literature of the Moosehead Marine Museum says, “More than any other remaining piece of Moosehead history, (it) truly reflects the many eras, interests and businesses of the region’s past and present. Built in 1914 by the young shipyard, Bath Iron Works, the steamboat was later converted to diesel, and has become the final link to a bygone era.”

The museum houses a wide collection of steamboat memorabilia and photographs of the Moosehead area.

The Katahdin takes passengers on 3-hour cruises 12 miles up the lake, and 41/2-hour cruises 20 miles up the lake, past the 800-foot cliffs of Mount Kineo and offering views of the Spencers and Mount Katahdin.

On Fly-In weekend, the boat offers 1-hour cruises that allow passengers to see float planes up close and personal as they land and take off.

Once you’ve been to this annual event, I’m sure you’ll put it on your yearly schedule, as many of us do.

John Christie is an author and a year-round explorer of the Maine outdoors. He and his son, Josh, write in Outdoors about places to enjoy the beauty only Maine has to offer. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]