A 2018 file photo shows a seaplane heading into the air from near downtown Greenville during the International Seaplane Fly-In. Credit: Stuart Hedstrom / Piscataquis Observer

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The biggest event of the summer in the Moosehead Lake region has become the latest victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The International Seaplane Fly-In, which attracts thousands of spectators and hundreds of airplanes to Greenville each September, has been canceled for the first time in its 47-year history. Organizers cited the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus and concern for the safety of the aviation and local communities as the reasons.

This year’s event was scheduled for Sept. 10-13.

“We’ve done 46 of them and this would have been the 47th year and it’s sad that we have to cancel,” said Chrissie Allen, a member of the fly-in’s board of directors.

Allen said significant planning must be done for the four-day event, with activities including competitive and recreational seaplane events along the south shore of the lake, fly-bys and displays of rare aircraft, as well as organizing a wide variety of vendors and craftspeople and a steak and lobster dinner.

“We were trying to wait and see how everything was going to play out,” Allen said. “Unfortunately for us if there was to be an outbreak and things got worse before September and then we were told we can’t do it … it’s tough.”

The International Seaplane Fly-In has been a late-summer staple in Greenville since 1973, born out of the area’s tradition of bush pilots who made their living flying sportsmen around the remote region where few roads existed at the time.

Local pilots David Quam, Duane Lander, Telford Allen, Chip Taylor, Dick Folsom and Charlie Coe were instrumental in getting the first fly-in off the ground, with other pilots from around the country flocking to Greenville to support the cause.

The event — scheduled for the weekend after Labor Day each year — has grown steadily since then, with its purpose to promote fellowship, personal contact, and unification among seaplane pilots.

The 47th International Seaplane Fly-In now is scheduled for Sept. 9-12, 2021.

“A lot of people come to the fly-in —it’s definitely grown,” Chrissie Allen said. “You have thousands of people all over town and if something were to come like a COVID outbreak up here, it would be blamed on the fly-in and we don’t want to be associated with that.”

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...