(Rising Sun, Ind.) – When he accepted early retirement from Comair as a commercial pilot a few years ago, Troy MacVey didn’t want to quit doing what he loved.
The Milan resident and 30-year flight veteran began his own airline, only its planes don’t use a concrete runway. They use the Ohio River.
MacVey is the proprietor of Mac’s Seaplane Service offering aerial tours of the region and a unique experience -landing and taking off from the river in Rising Sun. His 1946 Cessna 140 two-seater uses floats where the landing gear would be to land and take off from water runways.
“It’s been busy so far. We gave 20 rides last week,” said MacVey.
The water runway on the river stretches 10,000 feet, just as long as the runways at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, MacVey said. In fact, the river runway is the only river runway between Minnesota and Florida.
Currently, the new business which opened June 7 does not have an office. That could change as he works with the City of Rising Sun to build a hangar near the new boat ramp.
Dozens of people have come to the Rising Sun riverfront to witness the takeoffs and landings, according to Mayor Branden Roeder.
“It’s kind of different because not many people have rode a small plane, let alone taken off and landed on a river. It’s drawn all kinds of people,” Roeder said.
The retired pilot isn’t wasting time growing his business. MacVey has purchased larger plane, a 1949 Cessna 195 which can seat up to five people, which will arrive in Rising Sun this week. The smaller Cessna will primarily be used as a training plane to allow pilots to get their seaplane rating.
Riders can pay $45 for a 15 minute flight to sightsee southeast Indiana and northern Kentucky. Longer flights are available if the customer is willing to pay more to help cover the fuel expense. The startup has applied to FAA for a taxi operator certificate which would allow them to fly travelers to regional destinations, such as Lake Cumberland. However, that process has been slowed by FAA budget constraints, MacVey said.
MacVey is also working with the city to get Rising Sun designated as an official seaport with the Federal Aviation Administration and get lighted buoys marking the runway. If the request is approved, the runway would be the only lit water runway in the country besides another in Anchorage, Alaska.
The idea of the business was not only to allow MacVey to continue being a pilot. He wants to be available to the community and hire area teens for the summer to help as dock handlers and washing the planes. He’s also willing to sell advertising on the sides of the plane floats to local businesses.
“Anything we can do to be community-minded,” he said.
Mac’s Seaplane Service will be showing off its planes at the Shiner Pride Car Show in Rising Sun on Sunday, July 1.