Seaplane Turns Heads At Successful Great Raft Race Return

Monday, September 7th 2015, 11:07 pm
By: Emory Bryan

It was a successful return for Tulsa's Great Raft Race as nearly 200 rafts and 850 people were on the water Monday.

There was a little bit of everything, including a few people in actual boats, but most people were on something homemade with barrels or Styrofoam holding them up.

While several people implemented similar methods to keep them afloat, there was only one seaplane on the water this Labor Day.

If you weren't at the start or the finish, under the 11th Street Bridge was a good place to watch. That's where some people who had only been sailors for a couple of hours, had to actually navigate through.

9/7/2015 Related Story: Crowds Line Up As Great Raft Race Floats On

Some ended up in the water, some had to swim for it, either way the crowd loved it.

“I love the creativity of all the rafts coming through and how resourceful people have gotten too,” one spectator said.

Every manner of raft imaginable was out there, but the seaplane was clearly a crowd favorite from the beginning.

It wasn't easy to get it in the water - they backed it in, thankfully it had wheels - and somehow they got it out in the current and took off…not literally.

The seaplane was going in as the first rafts got to the finish.

One rafter said, “It was really a lot of fun. It took a little bit longer than we expected, but we really had nothing to expect, so it was a good day."

9/7/2015 Related Story: Great Raft Race Tradition Returns To Arkansas River

Several others said they had a great time and couldn’t wait for next year.

During this year’s race, the seaplane looked like it was on autopilot, but then it dragged in a shallow spot and one of the wing floats broke off.

When the crew got to the 11st Street Bridge, the wind took it sideways and they bumped a support. The plane tipped, but with some help, they leveled out and glided through.

It took almost four hours for Scott Smith and his crew to finish.

9/3/2015 Related Story: Airplane To Take Float In Great Raft Race

"It was amazing, we had tranquility, we had beauty and we had good folks along with us," Smith said.

Smith intends to fix the plane and put it in the race again next year, but the year after that, he wants to put an engine on it and fly it for real.

He said what so many other people did after this year’s race; that he can't wait for next year.