New SPA director gets his feet wet

September 13, 2011

SPA founder Dave Quam (left) and new director Steve McCaughey greeted fly-in attendees. SPA founder Dave Quam (left) and new director Steve McCaughey greeted fly-in attendees.

When Steve McCaughey was hired by the Seaplane Pilots Association as its new executive director on July 15, the leadership cited his “unquenchable passion” for things aeronautical as a factor in their decision. Observing him in action at the 2011 International Seaplane Fly-in in Greenville, Maine, Sept. 8 through 11 tends to reinforce that characterization.

McCaughey had his hands full fielding inquiries, recruiting, selling T-shirts, recruiting some more, and communicating with the already-recruited, but he was already looking ahead to opportunities to advance the cause of water flying.

Anybody can help. All they have to do, he said, is get out there and fly.

He said he realizes that a lot of people are worried about the economy and other concerns. They’re sitting on the fence, waiting for things to change.

“Get off the fence. Get on with your life and follow your passion,” he said. “When you start your engine, all of that other stuff goes away.”

If McCaughey sounds like a doctor prescribing a way to reduce stress and extend your life, it’s hard to argue with his formula. He asks one thing in return: Share your happy experience everywhere you go.

“We’re the ambassadors of adventure,” he says.

McCaughey will be taking that message on the road to Tulsa, Okla., on Oct. 3. There he hopes to persuade Tulsa Community College that adding a floatplane elective to the school’s aviation offerings will provide variety and promote stick-and-rudder skills in the age of glass cockpits.

“As the Seaplane Pilots Association’s new executive director, the single most important thing I can do is provide inspiration,” he said.

In the meantime, experiencing his first Greenville fly-in clearly has inspired McCaughey.

“This splash in at Moosehead Lake is a shining example of the best that we as seaplane pilots have to offer to a community, and this community is a model for the way that it has realized the value of having seaplanes in their community, and has embraced them,” he wrote in a message posted on the SPA website’s member forum.