During a bright sunny day at this year’s SUN ‘n FUN, the people sheltered in the shade of the Seaplane Pilots Association (SPA) tent on Taxiway Echo all knew who owned the brightly-colored Seabee parked nearby.
Built in 1947, the Republic Seabee RC-3 (N713ET), is a four-place amphibious aircraft. A plush toy from the movie E.T. sat in the window.
“That belongs to E.T. He’s a party waiting for a place to happen,” Barb Bailey said.
Roger Olson nodded and smiled. “His name is Edgar Tello, but everyone calls him E.T. I first met him at Lake Como, Italy, on the Seaplane Pilots trip in 2016. We’re on the back deck looking out at the water and Ed showed up with beer, wine, and crackers and suddenly it’s happy hour.”
Edgar “E.T.” Tello was born in Puerto Rico and flew as a captain for United Airlines. He serves as the SPA Field Director for North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. He lives in Long Island Airpark in North Carolina with his wife Melissa.“I took my first flight in a seaplane in a Quicksilver MX in 1990 in San Francisco and then years later a friend took me to Oshkosh where I saw a Seabee,” E.T. said. “I remember seeing James Bond fly a Seabee in the movie The Man with the Golden Gun. I was hooked. It was the coolest plane I’ve ever run into.”
“I bought one in ’96. It had a weak motor. I crashed it. Bought another one in Chuckey, Tennessee — spelled just like it sounds. It took three years to restore it completely from scratch. The whole time we are living in a mobile home.”
E.T. scrolled through photos on his cell phone. “The plane had at least two other owners. I changed the engine to the Lycoming IGO-480 and I added droop wingtips.”
When asked about the paint scheme, he smiled and mentioned how much he liked the Swiss Air paint scheme with the red tail. He chose bright colors so his plane would look “like a Lego toy. I wanted a big Lego toy. Melissa calls the plane a ‘magic flying carpet’ because it takes us to great places. We fill up the plane and go camping.”
“It is the most freedom in an airplane ever,” he continued. “With an amphibious aircraft, I can go anywhere. I can land on a friend’s lake and pull up on the back yard.”