Mike Seipel and the Seaplane… Barefoot Blast from the Past

By Gordy Anderson
Two-time World Barefoot Champion Mike Seipel and Captain Gordy Anderson invite you to their “Blast From The Past” when they teamed up with MTV Sports for a TV video production that was aired all of 1994!

When you watch the video, you will see some radical, crazy, and amazing barefooting and seaplane flying!  Mike and Gordy hope that you enjoy their past adventure, and will share it with your family and friends!


In the summer of 1989, Gordy was planning on hanging out with Terry O’Connor who is one of his best friends!  They met at the Wisconsin State Water Ski Show Championships held at Lake Wazeecha located near Wisconsin Rapids.  The opening act was a horse pulling a water skier along the red beach.  Gordy told Terry, “I’m going to do that with a seaplane someday”!

In the early part of 1993 when Gordy was flying for Air Wisconsin, Mike Seipel was on his flight from Green Bay to Chicago and they happened to meet in the terminal.  Both Mike and Gordy had several hours before their next flights departed, so the two of them started to collaborate about using a seaplane to pull Mike barefooting.  Several months later, MTV Sports called Mike and wanted to do another stunt, film shoot with him.  Mike called Gordy, and ideas began to “fly”!  MTV Sports wanted to shoot the video in December!

Before long, Gordy was on his way to Lantana, FL where Mike had his ski school and where the video shoot was going to take place.  There was an incredible amount of planning that had to be accomplished.  Gordy had to secure the use of a seaplane, purchase insurance and apply for a FAA Certificate of Waiver or Authorization,  Mike would work with his sponsors to secure support.  Mike and Gordy spent a lot of time out on Lake Osborne determining the best take-off and landing lanes, and where to position the barefoot jump.  Lake Osborne was divided in half by an East-West bridge.  The skiing and film shoot would be accomplished on the south side.  Gordy explained to Mike that approximately the first 1/3rd of the lake would be necessary to takeoff, the middle 1/3rd for the stunts, and the last 1/3rd for the approach and landing.

MTV and Mike were working together to come up with some sort of new, radical barefoot skiing idea.  Mike called Gordy, and proposed pulling him over the barefoot jump with the seaplane!  Gordy’s first thoughts were “that’s going to be some sporty flying and barefooting”!  Let the adventure begin!!!

Through a mutual friend back at his home town of Wonder Lake, IL, Gordy was able to secure the use of a Piper Super Cub in Orlando owned by Mike Fuller.  Gordy’s 13-year-old son Adam was already locked into his passion for cameras and film.  And before long, the two of them were flying and on their way to Orlando.  Mike Fuller spent an hour flying with Gordy so he could get comfortable with his seaplane. It was a 2-hour flight to Lantana and Gordy parked the seaplane on the beach at Mike’s ski school.  After the seaplane was secured, there was an extensive meeting with Mike and the MTV crew.  Obviously, it was imperative that everyone involved was familiar with the film shoot game plan!  With Gordy being an avid water skier and boater, it was natural for him to combine the seaplane flying into the mix!

The FAA approval was from 06:00 – 12:00 for December 13-14-15.  On the morning of the 13th, Gordy started the engine on the Super Cub at 06:00!  On the first flight, Gordy wanted to make sure that the control response on the seaplane was normal, so he was only airborne a couple of feet.  Each subsequent flight was at a higher altitude and at the end of the first morning, he had pulled Mike 17 times barefooting behind the seaplane!

The “sporty flying” came the next morning when the barefoot jump was planned.  Prior to taking off, Gordy positioned the seaplane so the jump lined up with a tall power line tower.  This tower would serve as Gordy’s take-off lane (runway heading).  It was critical because once the seaplane lifted off, Gordy would lose sight of the jump.  Mike was just going to ski next to the jump the first time to see what it was like.  Later on, Mike told Gordy that the line up was perfect so he went for the barefoot jump and nailed it!!!  Later in the film shoot, Gordy pulled Mike on an 80 mph barefoot run!  Mike said, “it was like skiing on hot coals”!

Three mornings of successful flying, barefooting, and filming was “In The Can”!  The MTV Sports crew was headed back to California and now it would be up to the editors to tell their story!

“FUN FACTS”  behind the scenes!

Gordy knew a couple of supervisors that worked in the O’hare Airport control tower and was able to get Mike a tour the day they met.

There was a minimum of 45 days required by the FAA to issue a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization.  Gordy applied for the certificate 6 months in advance just in case it was denied and he would have to re-apply.  The approved certificate mandated that a rope release mechanism had to be used.  Gordy had the release manufactured by a company in Winter Haven, FL.

The supplemental seaplane insurance was good for 5 days and cost $500.  The insurance company would only cover up to the end of the ski handle, and not the skier!  Gordy went to an attorney in Neenah, Wisconsin, and had a “special waiver” drawn up that Mike would have to sign.
Gordy engineered the tow rope harness design and used a Barefoot International B108 Cable Protector & Shock Tube that was installed on the 100′ section of the rope.  The B108 foam tube was used to minimize the risk of the ski handle recoiling back on the tail section of the seaplane and possibly jamming the elevator or rudder control.
Mike started on two skies to minimize the drag on the seaplane acceleration for take-off.  He stepped off the skies when the seaplane reached the speed that he needed to barefoot.  Gordy was flying just above stall speed and did not want the airflow disturbed over the wing.  Therefore, Mike was not allowed to ski from side to side.
The orange buoys that are seen in the video were measured and placed at 80, 90, and 100 feet.  Mike takes his “rib shot” fall at about 95′!

While the seaplane was airborne, the video of Gordy’s back was taken by the MTV producer who was riding in the back seat.  The instrument panel video was taken by Gordy using a “lipstick” lens.  Mike was not skiing at the time because of weight and balance concerns that Gordy had especially with the added weight of the producer.

One comment

  1. Kelley Woolsey ex Oneill guy here trying to find Mike Seipel, world barefoot waterski champion. I am at kelley.woolsey@ gmail.com. Please and thank you to anyone that might be able to help!


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