GREENVILLE, Maine — A special link was missing from the International Seaplane Fly-In held over the weekend, but people whose lives were touched by the late Telford Allen Jr., a fly-in founder, stepped forward to help fill the void.
Their efforts resulted in one of the best-attended and well-organized fly-ins in its 37-year history. About 9,000 people from throughout the country including a contingent from Sweden attended the event, according to organizers.
There were more than 170 airplanes at the airport Saturday, including a copy of a World War II patrol airplane and a Falcon 900 corporate jet, and there were many seaplanes on Moosehead Lake. As in the past, there were no accidents related to the fly-in.
While this year’s fly-in was held to educate, compete and have fun, it also served to help celebrate the life of Allen, who died Aug. 1 during a landing on Moose River in Rockwood.
“Telford knew a lot of people, and he was the type of guy that could go in and sit down with a person of any stature and be at home with them,” Duane Lander of Greenville recalled Monday. Lander had joined David Quam, Chip Taylor and the late Charlie Coe, Dick Folsom and Allen in founding the fly-in in 1973.
“Telford was a very colorful guy who had tremendous experience and people looked up to him for his aviation abilities. We’re going to miss him,” Lander said.
When he died, Allen was working on securing about $30,000 for an arrivals building at the municipal airport, according to John Pepin, vice president of the fly-in association. That project now has taken on new life with the town and area pilots working to raise the remaining funds to construct the building and name it after Al-len.
While Friday’s weather temporarily grounded some fly-in pilots in outlying airports, Pepin said the sky was full Saturday. “There were more people here around the fly-in than I’ve ever seen,” he said Monday.
“Overall it was a really great year, and we got a lot of comments from people who came and who were very, very happy with the events,” Pepin said.
“The fly-in helps the town every year in a variety of ways — the local businesses and the retail shops look forward to this and they most regularly report that the Saturday of the fly-in is their single busiest and most profitable day,” Greenville Town Manager John Simko said Monday.
Greenville Police Chief Jeff Pomerleau was praised by Simko for his emergency planning. Simko said Pomerleau took the lead in putting together a formal emergency action plan based on National Incident Management System training, but that plan never had to be executed. Despite all the traffic, “there were no accidents or injuries,” the town manager said.
Simko said he “bumped” into people over the weekend who had attended the event over the years and he also met people who had came for the first time, such as a group of Swedish pilots.
Many of the Swedish pilots stayed at the Greenville Inn. Jeff Johannemann, who along with his wife, Terry, operate the inn, said Monday that the 14 adult friends came specifically for the fly-in.
“Every year we are always full, usually three or four nights or longer,” Johannemann said. “Some people come back year after year and every now and then we get people from different countries,” he noted. “It [the fly-in] appears to be a very well-known event in the international aviation community.”
Johanneman said the fly-in is important for Greenville and the entire region.
Lander agreed. He figures that those who came to the fly-in pumped about $1 million into the local economy. Some businesses made their taxes this weekend, he said.
“The economic impact is great now so it just goes to show what people working together can do,” Lander said.
Many volunteers, including Civil Air Patrol cadets, donated countless hours, and there was great support from the aviation community in the state, Lander noted. Many of the approximately 1,000 people who attended the Saturday night celebration gave their time in remembrance of Allen.
Along with Max Folsom of Greenville and the late Dick Folsom, Allen was “probably one of the most experienced pilots in the world,” Lander said. “There’s an empty spot now.”
While pilots have a love of flying, “It’s something you have to realize that sometimes, you know, it’s a high-risk business and it’s not very forgiving,” Lander said.