“Skimming Blue Waters,” Greg’s featured past column remembering Joe LaPlaca, Arizona seaplane instructor and pilot examiner


Legendary Arizona seaplane instructor and pilot examiner Joe LaPlaca of Lake Havasu City passed away last week. It seemed appropriate to remember him by sharing my column about training with Joe back in 2000. We’ll miss you, Joe!

“’Need help?’ yelled the guy in the boat.

“’No thanks,’ I replied, not daring turn my head too far, for fear of falling into the water. We were adrift in the middle of the Colorado River, me balanced precariously on the seaplane’s float, face down, pumping water out of the forward float compartments.

“Twice we had tried to take off, unsuccessfully, given today’s calm wind and glassy waters.

“‘You must not have emptied all the water from the floats,’ said examiner Joe La Placa, finally, ‘get out there and do it again.’ Great way to start a checkride, I thought.

“I was here to earn my single-engine seaplane rating from La Placa Flying Service at Lake Havasu City, Arizona…”

READ THE ENTIRE STORY in my June, 2000, Flying Carpet column, “SKIMMING BLUE WATERS.”

(An expanded version appears in my book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane.)

Photo: Joe LaPlaca congratulates me on earning my single-engine seaplane rating in his 150hp Cessna 150 on floats, February, 2000. See more photos here.

2 Responses to ““Skimming Blue Waters,” Greg’s featured past column remembering Joe LaPlaca, Arizona seaplane instructor and pilot examiner”

  1. This was entirely too distracting — I have to cut 800 words from an article and get it in tonight, but I thought, ‘I’ll just take a minute and read this article.’ Well, I enjoyed it so much I then thought, ‘I’ll just take a minute and look through the photos’ and then I got sucked in and thought, ‘Those were so good, I’ll just look at a few of his USAF photos’ and then came the old biplane photos and next thing I know it’s 9:30pm and I haven’t got a darned thing done on my article. . . . and I can’t think of a better reason for it. 🙂 Thanks, Greg! h.

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