Known for his unquenchable thirst for flying and his passion to make meaningful positive impacts on the water flying community. Steve dreams big and will not relent until the job is done. His goal is to guide the Seaplane Foundation to achieving more than we ever believed possible as he makes the hard work enjoyable for all around him.
Mark’s skills as a editor help the Seaplane Foundation ensure that our messaging is clear and to the point. As the former editor of AOPA Pilot and the current editor of SPA’s WaterFlying magazine Mark brings a wealth of experience and perspective to helping us achieve our mission goals.
Member Care Manager
Slade joined the Seaplane Pilots Association in 2021 and has taken over member care, merchandise, and many technical jobs around the association. He began his flying career at 15, and earned his pilots license at 17 while attending the Central Florida Aerospace Academy. Since then, Slade earned his instrument rating, a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Administration, and is a Seaplane Pilots Association scholarship recipient. Slade earned his rating at Jack Brown’s in their Legend Cub!
Known for his unquenchable thirst for flying and his passion to make meaningful positive impacts on the water flying community. Steve dreams big and will not relent until the job is done. His goal is to guide the Seaplane Foundation to achieving more than we every believed possible as he makes the hard work enjoyable for all around him.
Mark’s skills as a editor help the Seaplane Foundation insure that our messaging is clear and to the point. As the former editor of AOPA Pilot and the current editor of SPA’s WaterFlying magazine mark brings a wealth of experience and perspective to helping us achieve our mission goals.
Ann has been with the Seaplane Pilots Association and Seaplane Foundation since 2000. She insures that everything runs smoothly behind the scenes. With a strong eye for organization and detail, Ann is the foundation of the foundation’s business.
Christie has been both an active volunteer and employee of the foundation since 2011. Working from California Christie travels extensively supporting our trade show and seaplane community activities.
Member Care & Event Logistics
Carter is the most recent addition to the team, joining us at the beginning of 2022. Carter handles member care duties and is the Events and Volunteer Coordinator for the association. He began flying at 15 and earned his pilots license at 17 while attending the Central Florida Aerospace Academy. Carter is a Polk State graduate with a Bachelor’s in Aerospace Administration, and is a United States Navy Reserve Loadmaster on the C-40A.
As a passionate foundation volunteer Brad has extended his significant professional expertise in photography and video production to help the foundation produce the majority of It’s education and advocacy videos. He has donated invaluable services of his production company Florida Film and Tape to help us maximize our the quality of the media we make available to our members and the public.
Phillip began his aviation career as a graduate of Florida Institute of Technology’s specialized School of aeronautics in 1982 with a bachelor of science in Air Commerce and Flight technology. He has been an active pilot since 1978 with over 3,000 hours accumulated in more than 100 different types of aircraft. Phillip has much experience in the field of evaluating and improving the performance and control harmony of Light Sport Aircraft.
Steve started flying 34 years ago adding a Commercial and Instructor ratings and accumulating 5800 hours of PC time mostly in tailwheel aircraft and seaplanes. He currently flies a Cessna 185 on amphibs along with his wife Lisa Reece who holds a commercial seaplane rating and heads up the Maine Aeronautics Association, a grass-roots pilot’s organization serving Maine and New England.
Harry opened Shannon Aircraft, Inc. in 1971 maintaining Cessna 180 and 185 straight-float and amphibious aircraft. In 1987 he went to work for Lake Aircraft in Bartow, FL, and then in 1991 he formed Amphibians Plus. In 2013, he was recognized by the Seaplane Pilots Association for his “personal commitment and passion for protecting and promoting the water flying community”.
With over 5,000 hours of flight time much of that in seaplanes, Gordon has always been highly involved in community leadership both within and outside of the aviation community. As a passionate warbird pilot and former chairman of the Texas DOT Aviation Advisory Committee, he provides the Seaplane Foundation with a solid voice of wisdom and guidance.
Chuck Wiplinger is the President and Chief Operations Officer of Wipaire, Inc. As the third generation of the Wiplinger family to lead Wipaire, Chuck’s background is deeply rooted in aviation. Ben Wiplinger, Chuck’s grandfather, founded the company in 1960. Chuck’s father, Robert “Wip” Wiplinger, is Wipaire’s Chief Executive Officer, and Chuck and Wip work closely on a daily basis.
John Drury ICMA-CM, AAE is an Accredited Airport Executive and Credentialed City Manager for Tavares Florida – America’s Seaplane City. John is credited for creating the seaplane base and marina in Tavares and in 2014, served on the National Academy Of Science, Engineering and Medicine’s eight (8) member panel alongside SPA’s Executive Director for the Airport Cooperative Research Board, to study the development of seaplane facilities in the United States. He also established and maintains the website BLOG www.seaplanestories.com a continuing collection of seaplane stories. He is married to his wife Jo-Anne and they have five children.
Born and raised in Seattle, John Gowey is the Director of Operations for Kenmore Air Harbor, the largest commercial seaplane operator in the United States. John grew up a mere two miles from the Air Harbor, and enjoyed exposure to aviation at an early age. When he wasn’t out in the back yard watching seaplanes go overhead, John would regularly ride his bike down to the Air Harbor to observe the busy summer traffic, and once in a while he was lucky enough to go for a seaplane ride. John earned his journalism degree from the University of Washington in 1985, and began work on his private pilot’s license soon after. He began working for Kenmore Air in 1990, first on the line crew and then as a flight instructor. John became a company line pilot in 1992, flying scheduled and charter seaplane flights throughout the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada in De Havilland Beaver and Otter aircraft. John served as Chief Pilot for Kenmore Air from 2003 until 2012, when he was appointed to his current position as the company’s Director of Operations. Still an active line pilot, John has logged over 16,000 hours of seaplane time, and remains both a company check airman and an FAA industry check airman. He is also an active instructor, and has recently helped train new seaplane pilots in Japan.
Steve is the President of the Minnesota Seaplane Pilots Association. Over the past four years he has served on the MSPA board in various positions. Steve is dedicated to protecting access to waterways, pilot proficiency and encouraging pilots to obtain seaplane ratings.
Steve earned a Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering from North Dakota State University and a Master in Business Administration degree from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. His career in Aerospace began as an engineer which lead him to his current role as Director of Business Development at Aero Systems Engineering, INC. in St. Paul, MN.
Steve’s passion for aviation developed at an early age. Steve obtained his private pilot certificate in 1998 and is now a Commercial pilot and Flight Instructor (CFI, CFII, MEI) actively teaching in single engine land and sea and multi engine land planes. Steve is an American Bonanza Society Beechcraft Pilot Proficiency Program (BPPP) instructor as well. He has accumulated over 2,000 hours of flight time.
Steve obtained his seaplane rating following in his wife Kjersti’s footsteps. Together they quickly found that seaplane flying is the ultimate flying adventure. They are SPA Lifetime Members and dedicated to expanding the seaplane pilot population. Steve lives in Lakeville, Minnesota with his wife and two children. They own a Beech J35 Bonanza which they fly throughout the country for personal travel.
John "Lites" Leenhouts
John “Lites” Leenhouts, CEO and President of SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In International and The Aerospace Center for Excellence located in Lakeland, Florida, is a 27-year veteran of the United States Navy with a distinguished record of service as a carrier fighter pilot. Lites passion for aviation has spanned over nearly 5 decades from hitch hiking to his first airshow as a young kid to retiring from the United States Navy in 2001 as the Commodore of the Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic. Lites holds the distinction of being the most experienced US Naval aviator of all time having successfully completed 10 major deployments and achieved 1,645 arrested carrier landings.
After his retirement from the Navy, Lites worked for over 10 years for the Northrop Grumman Corporation. He created a successful, teaming arrangement with the Boring Corporation to modify, repair and overhaul all variants of the F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet.
“Lites” became the CEO & President of SUN ‘n FUN, Fly-In, Inc. in 2011 and steered the corporation to new heights that most could only dream of. Forming and guiding the SNF team, he drove he organization to become debt free for the first time in over 4 decades. Additionally, Lites has founded and molded the Aerospace Center for Excellence, a subsidiary of SNF whose mission is to populate the aviation industry with aerospace professionals.
Lites and his wife Nancy enjoy flying in their 1930 Waco or 1964 Piper Comanche, driving antique British cars, or riding their Harleys on the many back roads of our great nation.
Stephen completed his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at California State University Northridge in 1985. Upon graduation, he worked at Accenture in computer science. During that time Stephen specialized in artificial intelligence,
aerospace and lean manufacturing. He went on to work in the software industry and currently is a managing partner at OrderPort, LLC, which provides point of sale software for wineries to manage all their sales and distribution channels. Stephen serves as President of the Washington Seaplane Pilots Association. He is instrument rated and flies an amphib DeHavilland Beaver out of Boeing Field. Stephen began his association with the Washington Seaplane Pilots while working to successfully preserve float flying at Ross Lake in the North Cascades National Park. Later he helped lead the effort to preserve float flying to Lake Whatcom in Washington State. Stephen and his wife, Kristie, have three children: Katharine, Nils and Peter. They make their home in Seattle, Washington and enjoy boating, flying and skiing in the Northwest. Stephen is also a leader in their local Boy Scout troop.
Ed has led a life characterized by business success, extreme adventure, and a devotion to volunteer involvement. A civil engineering graduate of U.C. Berkeley, Ed’s professional career spanned structures engineering, project engineer for a Chilean mine, and commercial office developer.
He has crossed oceans in sailboats, including a 50-foot ketch that he built. He has authored several magazine articles, including for Water Flying magazine, and has produced numerous films and videos with aviation and environmental themes.
Ed flew a Lake Renegade for 28 years, travelling to the Arctic and around most of Canada, the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean. He has built and is flying two AirCams, one of which is used for taking water samples in New York’s Adirondack Park and to film landscape community types for the Northern Forest Atlas Foundation.
His extensive volunteer activity includes work in medicine, education, the arts, the environment, and aviation. He chaired the Seaplane Foundation from 2009-2012.
Matt Sigfrinius is General Manager at Aerocet, Inc., the Priest River, Idaho, manufacturer of composite-construction straight and amphibious floats. Matt grew up in Arlington, Washington, where Tom Hamilton was building Glasair kits for customers. At age 15 Matt began working evenings and weekends at Glasair, and the relationship has continued uninterrupted. When Hamilton began building composite floats in the early 1990s, Matt was his only employee. He has held just about every job at Aerocet including research and development of laminate construction, developing the vacuum infusion process that Aerocet uses to build floats, building molds, building floats, and worldwide sales. Now he oversees a staff of about 50.
Matt is a certificated pilot and holds a seaplane rating.