Her name is Tanille Elaine DeLair, a very appropriate name for someone with a passion for flight. She named her light kit seaplane “Juliette.” With an FAA registration of N2269J, this may seem logical, but it’s something most men don’t do, or at least they rarely admit naming their favorite flying machine.
But DeLair is not your typical pilot, and her story can serve as inspiration to female or male, landplane lover or seaplane lover. When I recently investigated the Aero Adventure company, officials were quick to supply her name as an ideal customer.
Juliette is an experimental amphibious two-place bird powered with a 100-horsepower Rotax engine.
DeLair is based at Bayport Aerodrome (23N) in Bayport, New York, as well as Key Largo, Florida. Perhaps that rather great distance helps explain how she has logged 1,000 hours in the love of her life and why Aero Adventure enthusiastically recommended her.
Ladies Love Taildraggers
Many pilots I know are somewhat (or terribly) fearful of taildraggers. Perhaps this is not hard to understand considering nearly all flight instruction takes place in tricycle gear airplanes because they are more forgiving of landing errors. Do women pilots also have taildragger dread?
In my experience, female pilots are plenty competent but not plentiful. As an active flight instructor, I found female pilots were commonly smoother and methodical in their flying. I’m not bashing male pilots, but men tend to be somewhat more aggressive in their flying and this can contribute to less smoothness and grace in their handling of stick and rudder. Many male pilots are exceedingly gifted yet after flying with hundreds of students in my career, I’ve found females to more consistently exhibit admirable flight skills. So I say … bring on more women pilots! Even as I state that opinion, I recognize lady taildragger pilots are even rarer.
Taildragger pilots remain scarce among all aviators and if female pilots are so few, how about women taildragger pilots? Nonetheless, thanks to the marvels of the Internet, DeLair contributes to a blog called Ladies Love Taildraggers.
On this site, she wrote, “Slow and low and here we go! I just flew Juliette from Southern Florida to Long Island, New York. We took the scenic route though the Abacos and we will be returning to Florida in September.”
Talk about being committed to her beloved Juliette. She wants to encourage others to consider this modestly priced kit seaplane.
“The sky has really opened up to me, as have the waterways since I got my seaplane rating,” DeLair continued, “and I hope to share this joy with many others.”
“I am also passionate about building the Aero Adventure brand and getting Aventura IIs flying in every state,” DeLair continued. “You may have been warned that I love my airplane.”
She offers demonstration rides in Juliette to her fellow taildragging lady pilots who are in Long Island during the summer or in southern Florida during winter.
She is qualified to give those demonstration flights by virtue of many hours logged flying Juliette, according to Aero Adventure, but she’s taking her credentials to the next level, thanks to the reduced requirements incorporated into FAA’s Light-Sport Aircraft and Sport Pilot regulation issued in 2004.
“I am currently working on my CFI-S (Certified Flight Instructor for the Sport Pilot certificate),” DeLair explained, “and I hope to start my own flight school with Julliette and a LODA one day.”
LODA is FAA shorthand for Letter of Deviation Authority, a procedure that allows someone with an experimental aircraft to give compensated flight instruction. The process demands serious effort to show a well-conceived plan, but it allows potential buyers of aircraft like Aventura to be trained in an appropriate aircraft.
DeLair trained for her pilot certificate in a Cessna 172 in Paradise Valley, Montana, at the Flying Y Ranch (MT48), earning her certificate June 30, 2006.
“After taking my practical, I borrowed a 172 from a Montana pilot and flew it back to New York where I lived,” she explained.
En route, her training continued.
“I got my skydiving A license on that cross country flight home,” she noted.
Guys, you should be getting quite impressed about now. Sky diving airport facilities, call “Drop Zones” are great for overnights, DeLair noted. “This would make a great article,” she added. Somehow I don’t doubt such an article may be forthcoming.
She got her seaplane rating at the Rockledge, Florida airport (21FL). Soon after, the owner of Aero Adventure, Bob Bosman, and Bill Simmons taught her how to fly and handle the two-seat Aventura II.
“The two men coordinated with the FAA and I was able to take my ASES checkride in the Aventura II,” she said, noting she earned that endorsement March 31, 2007.
Not Your Mother’s Seaplane
About one of their favorite customers, Aero Adventure officials wrote, “Tanille DeLair is a remarkable pilot of an Aventura. Living in the Keys, Tanille takes advantage of the great weather and flying conditions offered by her location. She has made several long distance trips in her Aventura, including a recent flight to the Bahamas.”
“I bought Juliette on Feb. 14, 2013, and have been having a great time with her,” DeLair reported. “We have been as south as Crooked Island (MYCI) in the Bahamas and this year will be the third year I will fly her up to a New York airfield on the St. Lawrence River about an hour south of Ottawa, Ontario (OGD).”
“Although I do take her on long flights, the scenic slow flights on a sunny warm day are what I live for,” added DeLair, confirming what many pilots feel about their enjoyment of recreational aircraft.
An Aventura II kit starts at less than $50,000 complete with engine. Those who add options may hit $55,000, say company officials. Of course, you’ll have to assemble it, but the process is more bolting parts together than fabricating components. Aero Adventure supplies has a several decade track record with around 1,000 kits delivered.
DeLair became a dealer for Aero Adventure in 2014, completed the Fundamental of Instruction Written test on March 9, and is presently studying for the CFI-S Written. Based on previous accomplishments, her drive, and her love of flying Juliette, a fresh flight instructor credential is likely to join her other aviation documents.
Relating to a kind of flying only a few pilots may enjoy before they explore aircraft like the Aventura, DeLair observed, “Here in the Florida Keys, you can spend hours counting stingrays and sharks and turtles.”
She offers some words of advice about ocean flying.
“Splashing Juliette in saltwater does cause corrosion. I am replacing parts much faster then someone who is only splashing in freshwater.” However, she noted, “The same is said about boats and there is no shortage of boats in saltwater. It’s the price that I pay to fly over one of the most beautiful reef systems in the continental USA.”
Too often pilots may lose sight of the exceptional reasons to love flying. Sure, airplanes are great to zip around this big country of ours, but sometimes, going slower and flying low have special value and seaplanes, in particular, offer added appeal when those experience are over or near the water.
Tanille Elaine DeLair is not only enjoying her flying of Juliette. She’s acting as an ambassador for aviation, seaplanes, and Aero Adventures. You go fly, girl!