Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base

The team at Flymall.org planned a trip to Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base to get our Seaplane Rating.  What started out as just a simple trip for Pat and I turned out to be an adventure for a group of folks. 

Founded in the early 1960s by Jack Brown (pictured below), Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base has trained more seaplane pilots than any other place in the world. 

Pat and I headed south on Saturday morning driving our motor-home.  We decided being able to stay right there at the seaplane base would make the training that much more enjoyable and less stressful.  Our class did not start until Tuesday so we gave ourselves plenty of time to get there.  Arriving on Sunday we set up camp with a view of the lake right outside our window.  We checked in at the school to let them know we were there and eager to start training.  The folks at the school informed us that our friends Susan and Andy Beall had checked in earlier that day.  Accompanied with her flight instructor Gary, Susan flew down in her Cessna 172 and used the flight down as her long cross country for her commercial rating.  And while Susan was out splashing around in the lakes in the seaplane her husband Andy (a student pilot) was flight training with Gary in their Cessna 172 and also logging some solo cross country time.  Lin Caywood, her husband to be (Carlo), and Brenda (Lin’s flight instructor) also arrived on Sunday but their flight was not so uneventful.  Lin owns a Cessna 182 equipped with the G1000.  Well north of their final destination the alternator failed and they continued as far as they could using the backup battery.  Lin was also using the trip down to receive some flight training with her instructor Brenda.  Lin got as far as they could but did not make it to the seaplane base.  They made it to Craig Municipal Airport in Jacksonville, Florida and rented a car to continue on.  Both Lin and Susan were scheduled to start flight training on Monday morning.  While Lin was training in the seaplane Carlo (an Airframe & Powerplant mechanic) drove back up to Jacksonville to try and correct the alternator problem.  After a few trips to Jacksonville and numerous phone calls to find parts, Carlo finally corrected the problem.

 

Lin’s plane wasn’t the only plane that had issues.  One evening Pat, Susan, and I were hanging out with one of the senior instructors at Jack Brown’s discussing what to expect on our flight test.  Susan received a call from her husband Andy who was out with their flight instructor getting some night flying experience.  Instead of out flying, he was calling Susan from a bar explaining to her that on one of their landings they blew a tire and couldn’t get it fixed until the next day.  Susan’s plane is for sale if anyone is interested – click here for more information.

Mid week we were joined by Debi Dreyfuss and Linda Knowles who had also signed up for the course.  Debi and Linda flew down in Debi’s Cessna 182 equipped with the G1000 system.  Debi had the only plane that did not have any maintenance issues on the flight down.  But Debi did have 2 seaplanes break down while she was training.  By the way, I sold Susan and Lin their aircraft new when I was a Cessna dealer and I helped sell Debi her 182 just before I became a dealer.

The course is a two day class consisting of some classroom time and five hours of flying time.  Lin Caywood got a bit of a scare and learned a lesson during a session in the classroom.  One of Lin’s classroom sessions was interrupted by one of the employees barging in shouting “Quick where is the shot gun?”  Well poor Lin thought “Am I doing that bad that they want to shoot me?” It turns out that they have a snake problem at Jack Brown’s.  The Cottonmouth Water Moccasin to be exact.  They are very aggressive and will actually chase after people.  As soon as one is spotted there is no trial, nothing, they are shot on site.  One of the instructors spotted one while she and Pat were getting ready to go flying.  The video below sums it up for the snake.

The J3 Piper Cub, built in the 1940s is a very basic aircraft. 

With no electrical system, this means no starter, so you have to hand prop the aircraft to start it.

But once underway it is nothing but pure fun.

We had one day when we could not fly due to high winds and one morning we had to wait for some fog to burn off, but other than that the weather was perfect.   The worst part of each lesson was returning to the dock (the fun was over for this session).

It was very different flying experience for all involved.  We never got any higher than 500 feet above the ground.  Often while pre-flighting the plane or securing it for the evening you would see alligators on the beach or dock sunning themselves.  

All total 6 of us received our seaplane rating over the course of the week.  For more information on Jack Brown’s visit the Day Tripper section of our site or use the search box in the upper right corner of our site and search for seaplane.

 Here are some shots of the wildlife that we enjoyed seeing during our stay.

Here is a slide show with some highlights of our visit at Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base. 

Click here for Linda’s pictures of her adventure at Jack Brown’s.

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