Ian Twombly

Splash and go

May 21, 2008 by Ian J. Twombly, Associate Editor

Pop quiz. What school trains more seaplane (floatplane to those in Alaska) pilots than anyone else in the world?

It’s not in Russia, or even in the Netherlands where they have so much water. It’s Jack Brown’s in Winter Haven, Florida. Brown’s has trained more than 20,000 seaplane pilots since the late 60s. To put this in to perspective, that’s roughly 10 students a week, every week for the past 40 years. Oh, and they have an off season where only a few students show up at a time.

Brown’s does all this in an unlikely airplane, the Piper J-3 Cub. Although it’s not something you’d want to go fly the backcountry with, it’s a fantastic training airplane, as I found out yesterday when doing splash and gos around the local lakes with one of the school’s instructors. I was at Brown’s to work the latest installment in our series A Day in the Life of America’s Airports. But you can’t go to Brown’s without getting in an airplane, and instructor Erik and I bounced from lake to lake in a 20-knot wind. It was great fun.

Look for the full story in an upcoming issue of the magazine. But for a sneak peek, let’s just say the “office” is a house on a pier, there are lake bums (from the same clan as the airport bum), and everyone has a great story to tell.


One Response to “Splash and go”

  1. Gordon Says:

    The single engine sea training was the most fun I have had in my nine years of flying. The Browns make you feel like family. It seems like you are just getting started and you are done. Their training syllabus covers the basics for flying the J3 on straight floats and has been refined for maximum learning with minimum expense. I did not want to leave!

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