Not just another AirVenture souvenir…

Going to Oshkosh? Is buying a Lake Amphibian on your list of things to do? How about buying the entire kit and kaboodle?

For the first time ever, the AirVenture grounds will be the site of an auction of all the assets of an aircraft line — the Lake Amphibian.

The auction, slated for 4:30 p.m. July 27, in the Vette Theater, is designed to sell all the assets associated with the production and support of the Lake line, including the FAA Type Certificate and associated STCs, engineering and marketing data, all documentation, historical information, fleet support inventory, and manufacturing capacity. The assets of the company will be sold as a whole, according to Scott Oglesby, auction manager for Higginbotham Auctioneers, which is conducting the auction for Revo Inc., a company led by Armand Rivard, who won back the Lake assets through a contentious court battle with LanShe Aerospace.

The Lake Amphibian was the brainchild of Herb Linblad and Dave Thurston, who made names for themselves at the Grumman and Republic Aircraft companies. In the 1940s, the pair pooled their talents to develop the Colonial Skimmer Model C-1. Through the years of production in Sanford, Maine, the Skimmer grew from a two-place, 125-hp airplane first flown in 1948 — and FAA certified in 1955 — to the 200-hp Buccaneer. Rivard bought his first Lake Amphibian, an LA-4-200, in 1970, and became involved in the company in 1971. Over the next three decades, the company introduced and certified the six-place, 250-hp Renegade, the 270-hp SeaFury, and the 290-hp SeaWolf.

In late 2002, the Lake line was bought by Wadi Rahim, who moved it to Ft. Pierce, Fla. About a year later, Rahim and Rivard became embroiled in a lawsuit over the sale. In July 2004, Rahim’s company, called LanShe Aerospace, shut its doors after running out of working capital. Last season’s hurricanes signaled the death knell for LanShe. At this year’s Lakeathon, an annual gathering of Lake owners, Rivard said the courts had returned all the Lake assets to him.

“I’m 70 years old now and I just want to go fishing,” he said at the time.

But why auction the company off at Oshkosh? “Why not?” asks Oglesby. “It’s the largest event in the Western Hemisphere and all the serious players will be there.”

Oglesby wouldn’t predict how much the assets will be sold for at the auction, noting the auction house will not release an appraisal on the assets. “The only appraisal that’s important is what one guy is willing to write a check for,” he says. “But keep in mind that the owner is motivated to sell.”

There will be no minimum bid for the assets. “It could be $10 or $1 million,” he notes. “Where it ends up is what counts.”

Bidders can’t just show up and raise a hand at the auction. They must “prequalify,” which means depositing $100,000 in escrow. For that deposit, bidders get a chance to look at the books, but Oglesby stresses that what bidders are vying for are the assets of the company — not the company itself. “We’re selling everything free of encumbrances,” he says.

The auction house has done due diligence to ensure that everything is above board. “Our reputation is what we make our living on,” he says, noting the 45-year-old auction house does $100 million a year in sales.

The auction house’s seal of approval on the sale could be critical to the success of the auction, as the Lake line has been embroiled in controversy — and the courts — for years.

“We’ve done our homework,” Oglesby says. “Our forensic accountant has gone deep enough into it to be comfortable with it.”

Several manufacturers have expressed interest in the auction, he says, as well as several individuals and investment firms.

The auction firm had to get special permission from EAA to conduct the auction. It is the first time such an auction has occurred at AirVenture, confirmed Dick Knapinski, EAA’s spokesman.

The winner of the auction must close the deal — which means ante up the money — within 10 days. Losing bidders will receive their $100,000 escrowed deposits three days after the auction.

For more information: 800-257-4161.

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