EAA Seaplane Base Watermelon Social Returns
Lead Sponsor Wipaire Celebrates 30 Years At Oshkosh
August 1, 2022
The Watermelon Social presented by Wipaire, Inc. is the EAA AirVenture Seaplane Base's big event. The gathering returned this year after a COVID-19 forced absence.
First-year EAA Seaplane Base Chairman Shane Albers estimated total attendance at 1,000 participants. The watermelons were sourced through local grocery stories and carved up with machetes. Albers said it takes about a dozen people three hours to set up the event. The Seaplane Base is presented by lead sponsor Wipaire Inc. with support provided by Honda Marine and Icom America. Albers reported 82 amphibious aircraft arrivals at the base for the week ending Saturday, July 30. Overall, 189 amphibious aircraft visited AirVenture, an increase of about 20%.
"My volunteer numbers were up as well, about 20%, and the weather was absolutely beautiful for flying after an early week storm," he added. "It wasn't uncommon to watch folks flying airplanes every day and some days, all day long."
The Watermelon Social was moved from its traditional Saturday date to Friday to accommodate Saturday evening airshow attendees, Albers said. "What I enjoy about it the most is the opportunity to just enjoy a relaxing moment."
Amy Gesch, Wipaire's product and piston sales manager, concurs. She said Wipaire employees look forward to Oshkosh every year. "Wipaire has been a longtime exhibitor," Gesch said, referring to 2022 being the company's 30th anniversary year at AirVenture/Oshkosh. "Our booth on Celebration Way supports EAA as well as our efforts at the seaplane base, and it's a great opportunity to showcase our products."
Last year, Wipaire and other AirVenture exhibitors missed many social events that were placed on hold as the industry was recovering from COVID-19 shutdowns, Gesch said. "We've really noticed our international friends and customers coming back this year," she added. "It's also great to see thousands of EAA volunteers who make Oshkosh aviation's family reunion. We get to see everyone from near and far."
Steve Guetter is general manager of Advanced Flight Training and Leasing, a subsidiary of Wipaire Inc. He's also Minnesota Seaplane Pilots Association president.
"One of the best parts about the seaplane base is that a visit there allows you to exhale and relax," Guetter said. "You can wind down and take a mini-vacation."
Last year was the first year that Guetter brought a seaplane to Oshkosh. It was parked on Celebration Way, at the Wipaire booth, where the company distributes its highly popular Fun Meters, the buttons with adjustable attitude needles. "Wipaire is the home of the original Fun Meter," Guetter said. "When we hand them out, we maxed them in the red zone. With seaplanes, how can you not have fun?"