Brent Carlson

Christmas day 2003.

Back: from left; Jordan, Pat, Sandy, Andrea, Brent

Front: Katharine, Amy

July 18, 2004.

Dear friends and fellow Seawind enthusiasts,

A new editor, John Ricciotti, will be taking over the ISPA website in September 2004. This site and our organization has grown a great deal during the last two years. Thanks to the unwavering support and participation of our great members, we have met the goals outlined in my first editorial letter (see below).

Among the hundreds of statements made about our group on our discussion board during my time as editor, one that stands out is the following by ISPA member Tom Thunnell: "One of the The impressions one gets upon first reading is that of a great disaster recovery effort among a few anxious souls who are stuck with kits with no where to turn but each other.

One would think that such a group would be very beneficial for the simple reason that two heads are better than one, and because the projects represent almost every stage of construction, mistakes need not be repeated. There seems to be significant expertise in the group..."

For me, this summarizes the essence of what this group is all about, and why it is so important to those of us who have so much money, time, effort, and emotion tied up in the Seawind. For the 150 or so remaining kit built Seawind owners, it is essential that we sustain this effort. Thank you all for the opportunity of being a part of this great group of people.


Brent Carlson

December 14, 2003: Following the letters from Roger Isackson about bonding panels and bulkheads made from the GRP / foam sandwiched panels, I used his method to prep the reinforcing panels inside the hull. I couldn't find one of the ball end mill cutters that Roger used, so I cut the inner skin with a Formica scribe and then tapered the foam with a sharp utility knife. The following photos show the left side panel almost ready for bonding:

October 12, 2003 | Update, A One-Year Editorial Perspective.

Hello friends and Seawind enthusiasts,

The past year has been loaded with fascinating events and new happenings for the Seawind airplane and those of us who make up the Seawind community.

Several Seawinds have been finished and flown for the first time. Tragically, some others have crashed or otherwise been involved in mishaps.

Seawind North America, the company that produces the Seawind has undergone a total and complete makeover that includes consolidating most of their many global manufacturing operations into one location in Canada. The final kit (for now) #170, was sold and is being delivered to an ISPA member.

And, perhaps the biggest impact of all is the announcement that efforts are now underway to produce the Seawind as a certificated airplane.

Seawind North America, the company that produces the Seawind has undergone a total and complete makeover that includes consolidating most of their many global manufacturing operations into one location in Canada. The final kit (for now) #170, was sold and is being delivered to an ISPA member. And, perhaps the biggest impact of all is the announcement that efforts are now underway to produce the Seawind as a certificated airplane.

During the last year, the International Seawind Pilots Association has not only stayed alive, but we've reached a new level of maturity, and become an even more important force in making the Seawind a continuing and fascinating success story. Consider the following:

  • We have organized and held two gatherings where we were able to see completed and flying Seawinds, as well as those in construction, and share our ideas about, and our experiences with this fabulous airplane.

  • We have posted 617 messages to each other in our "Hangar" discussion group (postings went from 265 in the previous years, to 882 in the last 12 months).

  • Our site has grown to include:

    • the beginning of a comprehensive Seawind registry

    • incident descriptions and incident logs

    • all of our formerly published newsletters

    • historical pages and information

    • dozens of fantastic photos

    • builder tips

    • pages including photo documentaries about our events and members

    • several fascinating letters and stories from our members

    • the addition of a "Site Map"

    • several pages some of you have not yet had the chance to discover.

Our membership numbers haven’t grown a great deal, but the quality and level of our participation and enthusiasm has undergone a profound transformation.

Let’s face it, in any era, developing a business and the manufacturing processes necessary to bring any “kit-built” aircraft to market is a phenomenal undertaking. Typically, more of these types of ventures fail than succeed. This type of accomplishment almost always comes with some monumental lessons learned along the way.

This is especially true with the Seawind. The Seawind is somewhat more complex than other aircraft, experimental or otherwise. It has the capability to take-off from, and land on water or land, and flies faster than many land only airplanes of equivalent horsepower, all while exhibiting a level of design and artistic style that rivals any in history, even those of today (years later than it’s original date of conception). Oh sure, there are other 300 HP amphibious airplanes. Park (or fly) one of the others next to a Seawind at any airport or gathering and compare the reactions.

So why certification? Why now? At least part of the answer lies in the lessons learned from having had the Seawind on the market as an owner-built kit plane. The experimental category of aircraft is a gigantic Godsend and privilege for all aviation enthusiasts. Everyone, even those without any training or background whatsoever, formal or otherwise, loves the freedom to experiment and develop his or her own ideas. To have the freedom to do so in the realm of flight is just amazing.

But in ways, this very freedom, that has made the successful development of the Seawind even possible, also comes with a down side. Experimentation and modification to any part of such a complex machine just cannot be done without affecting other parts or functions. In many cases this cause and effect can cascade through many systems and parts. Inconsistency in individual builder’s knowledge, skills, and abilities also starts to enter this picture in a big way.

For example, at least one Seawind that we know of has flown, and of course subsequently broken apart, in part because the unidirectional glass reinforcement on the aft carry through bulkheads was not installed. The necessity of installing this reinforcement is clearly documented and carefully described in the builder manuals, but was somehow missed by the builder and the FAA inspection. There are several other examples that could be listed here, one of which occurred just recently.

Each time something like this happens, it not only reflects badly on the individual builder involved, but also has a devastating effect on the SNA company, because no matter how expertly (or shoddily) this aircraft has been constructed, it is still first and foremost, a Seawind. This type of thing also has a negative effect on all other owner/builders, and is probably the primary reason hull insurance is not even a viable option for any of us at this time.

Hence, the idea of building the Seawind in a factory and production setting (and eliminating all of the varying factors introduced by a myriad of individual builders) starts to come into perspective. Statistics seem to show that the current existing success record of builder centers and professional individuals who build, or help others build Seawinds is evidence and an endorsement of this type of thought. The tragedy of crashing or destroying Seawinds that have been modified or improperly built is also reinforcement for the certification philosophy.

All this not only provides some insight into certification, but also reinforces the importance of an organization like the ISPA, and emphasizes the need for rigorous and enthusiastic participation by all of us.

I am certainly not advocating that Seawind owner builders not experiment and make change to their Seawinds. On the contrary, there are so many areas where we have the flexibility to make improvements, or personalize our own aircraft in innovative and high-tech ways not affecting performance or degrading safety. For example, areas like instrumentation and avionics features, video camera capability for monitoring systems that otherwise can't be seen in flight, engine instrumentation, flight proven ignition and electrical systems, autopilots, innovative paint and finishing methods, upholstery... the list is endless. The point is, each of these innovations just has to be considered with input and insight from of those who are experts.

The same is especially true for learning to fly the Seawind. Insight from expert Seawind pilots is not only essential, it's mandatory. And the exciting part is that nowadays, it's available. If we as owner/builders can demonstrate competence and skill in building and flying the Seawind, perhaps it will again one day be made available as a kit. This is something many of us would love to see.

Furthermore, I do not want to give the impression that the ISPA doesn't embrace those who are experimenting with more complicated changes. Hence, our turbine and turbocharged Seawind pages. If one of our current builder's progress with his kit is staged as he has it planned, and if the diesel engine developers are successful as well, we may one day have a page dedicated to "Diesel Seawinds." I think this type of experimentation is great, as long as these builders are competent, thoughtful, have the knowledge and/or money necessary, and seek the help needed in making these types of changes. Note that these kinds of endeavors make association with the ISPA even more vital. Many of you who are involved in extensive change have demonstrated (in your correspondence) that you are fully competent to do so, but this appears to be a small percentage of overall builders. And, most of us are in awe of the machines that result.

In the end analysis, certification will be a tremendous benefit for all Seawind owners, as is participation in this viable and exciting organization. The ISPA is more important and valuable today than ever before. We have not yet met all the goals set out in the editorial below, but we’re clearly on our way. These goals haven’t changed during the last year, if anything; they have become even more valid and worthwhile. With everything that has transpired this year, the year ahead looks like it is going to be exciting and fun. Thank you all for your continuing support and participation. Above all, fly safe.

Sincere kind regards,

Brent, Kit #71

Pat Carlson starts his skydiving business, Ogden, Utah, July 3, 2003.

July 4, 2003

Greetings Friends,

Above, I have posted pictures taken the evening of July 3, 2003. During the last few months, my son Pat has been working to establish his own skydiving business. Shown are photos of Pat in flight under the canopy and the turbocharged Cessna 207 (N311EV) that he has spent hours refurbishing.

Fly safe,

Brent Carlson

Site editor, International Seawind Pilots Association

The Carlson Family

Brent, Katharine, Jordan, Patrick, Sandy, Amy, and Andrea (inset)

November, 2002

December 11, 2002

Dear Friends,

The year 2002 will forever be marked by both triumph and tragedy for many of us. The top of my list for my not so pleasant memories has to be the crash of my son Pat's Cessna 175 in the Great Salt Lake. The top of my list for the myriad of things I am grateful for is the fact that Pat, Sandy, and I are all still alive and healthy. In the short time (about 45 seconds perhaps) from when we were flying quietly and gracefully over the glassy water of the lake, in the warm light of the setting sun, until all motion abruptly stopped when we hit the water, we all became profoundly aware that the value of life and good health exceeds that of everything else.

The top my list for pleasant memories from 2002 includes traveling to Oshkosh with my daughter Amy, meeting many of you, and seeing your beautiful Seawinds there. Then, traveling with Katharine to the Seawind Splash-in at Manteo, NC, and meeting with all of you for an opportunity to become acquainted and share some especially great times together.

As we go forward, I want to extend to each of you our best wishes for a warm and pleasant Holiday Season and a happy, prosperous, and peaceful New Year. Thank you all for your continuing participation in, and support of the International Seawind Pilots Association.

Holiday regards,

Brent Carlson & family

October 27, 2002

Greetings Friends and fellow Seawind enthusiasts,

Thanks primarily to the members of the International Seawind Pilots Association, the Seawind endeavor is more alive and viable than ever before. This airplane and this organization both have long, colorful, and fascinating histories. Amongst our members, we have millions of dollars, billions of man-hours, an abundance of emotion, and hopefully years of fun and excitement tied up in these fabulous amphibious airplanes.

As of September 21, 2002, I am the new administrator and editor of the ISPA. I do not take the administrative / editorial responsibility of such a diverse and important organization lightly.

Building a Seawind these days is far different than it was for our first owner / builder pioneers in the late 80s and early 90s. As I read through the newsletters from the early days of this organization, I am in awe of the expense, experiences, and frustrations those of you who went before had to go through. The information that is readily available to the current builders came at an enormous price for many of you.

As your new administrator, I have several goals for the ISPA. They include the following:

  • Provide information about the Seawind to all who are interested.

  • Grow the ISPA membership and extend our pool of information and resources.

  • Improve and enhance the ISPA site in order to provide a user-friendly environment in which we can all share information and establish a historical record.

  • Organize and present the information in a way that makes it easily accessible to those who need it.

  • Establish a Seawind Registry and promote the Seawind to enhance its value for all of us.

  • To help this organization do all it possibly can to improve the safety of the Seawind. This will involve providing thorough and completely accurate information about Seawind safety records and incident reports to our members. So far, some of the most effective safety information we have comes from Seawind incidents. Don’t underestimate the importance of this objective. Every time we strap ourselves (and our loved ones) into one of these birds, we must do everything we can to ensure the experience will be as safe as possible. For all of us, this starts with the building process, and safety can never be out of our thoughts.

I invite all of you to join me in the making this organization the best tool it can be, in making the Seawind airplane the best it can be, and in making both the Seawind and the ISPA envies of the aviation world. Thank you for your confidence, help, and support.

Best regards,

Brent Carlson