I've been asked by several people to post our story on the boat rebuild. Now that magazine is out and released I can. Looking forward to putting together the final part - grand finale piece of that great ride this weekend. Thanks to Dave and that beautiful Seminole boat for driving me so I could focus on getting photos. Joyce and Laurie got more great photos and a video and I'm sure they will get posted up on our website later this week.
Copyright Airboating Magazine - believe me it looks better in the magazine - I don't know how to attach a photo so here's just the text version.
Transformations From Simple Acts of Kindness
by Laurie Hauke. Photo credits: Robert Stanfield, John Cantelli
35 years ago, the actions of a few men transformed the lives of so many victims of the Eastern Airlines Flight 401 crash. Now the kindness and caring of the airboating community has helped to transform not just an airboat; but hopes and dreams. I suspect it is not just Bud Marquis and his wife and family that have been transformed by this incredible effort; but the lives of those who took the time to care and to act and to motivate and drive an idea into an amazing reality. A reality that included a long overdue recognition of heroic actions; a reality that included hundreds of strangers working together to help a fellow airboater; the reality that transformed an airboat laying in the grasses dreaming of skimming the skinny water again with it’s pilot.
I am the airboat and this is my story. I was not forgotten, I was still
loved! Each year, my owner renewed my license sticker and placed it
with loving hands on my aging hull. Together, we would remember and
hope to once again get out there into the beauty of the Glades. Time
passes and age takes its toll on all things - man and machine. Then one
day, things changed. A stranger arrived at the house and talked to my
long time friend and partner. While they were sitting on the porch, I
saw as this stranger quickly transformed into a friend. As friends, they
exchanged memories, stories and hopes. I watched and listened from
the yard; liking the sound of my partner’s voice talking about our times
together in the Glades. One day this stranger came with more new
friends, only this time they did not just sit on the porch and talk, they
came to me. They carefully cleared away the grasses that had grown up
around my trailer and cleaned out my hull and hooked me up to a truck
and away I went. It was good to be moving, to feel the wind against
my hull, pushing through the cage to tickle and jiggle my rudder.
But where was my pilot and partner? Where was I going? Was I going to
go back to the water to skim across the Glades again? Anticipation
tingled in my worn parts and my Lycoming heart dared to hope.
When caring and skilled hands worked on my engine; the Lycoming
responded and fired up. Once again, my hull and cage vibrated from
the power of my Lycoming heart. More caring hands were taking me
apart, cleaning, welding, sanding, painting. It felt so good to be so
pampered and fixed and I loved listening to them talk and joke and
tell stories while they worked on me. My old cage, that I had worn for
so many years, was replaced with a new blue cage that complemented
my new paint job. Damn, I am lookin’ good... like in the days of my
youth. My Lycoming heart purred as a new propeller; just like the
one that pushed me across the Glades in days past was attached. Now
all fixed up and looking fine I got to go for what these people from
Diamondback called a test ride. It felt good to be skimming across
the water, yet I longed to feel the hand of my partner on the stick.
Soon, I was loaded back on the trailer, which had also been restored
to like new and looking good.
Again, the wind was pushing past my hull as I moved down the highway, heading south as cars and trucks sped past. I was heading home! I could smell the Glades again. I had heard them talking and knew that soon I would be back with my partner and pilot and together we would again be riding the Glades!
"The first time Bud showed me his Airboat, I could tell he couldn’t wait to get back out on it again. Whenever he would talk about his boat he would perk up a
little and kinda get that sparkle in his eye. He would say things like ‘All I need is a prop and a battery and she would be ready to go again.’ It's like he had hope
all those years, his boat meant everything to him, but his health and time were just not on his side. When we were out on my boat at the crash site with the National
Geographic film crew doing the documentary on the crash, Bud told me that he almost did not let us take his boat. He didn’t want it to leave his yard. I think every
now and then, he would just go and look at it and remember all the ol’ memories and joy it had brought him. It really says something that he kept the registration up
to date. I know I have said this before, but the change in Bud has been incredible. Thank you all for making a difference in his life, and just in time.” John C.
Thanks to the following for making this boat rebuild possible.
First and foremost would be Bobby and Fran at Diamondback
Airboats and their team - Bernie, Vinnie, Adam and Scooter.
Also special recognition and thanks to: Mike Thurman for
the engine rebuild, Innovative Powder Coating, Hamant
brothers, Sensenich Propellers for the original style prop,
LaCourt Sandblasting and Powder Coating, anonymous
Southern Airboaters in Fort Pierce who fixed the trailer, and
from Louisiana who funded a large portion of engine repairs,
SouthernAirboat.com, John Cantelli, Robert Stanfield,
George Leinhart, Ken Johnson, Dusty Brewster, Dave
Markett, Ben Symons III, Tonia Suarez, and everyone else
who donated boat parts, money, skill, muscle, time and