St. Cloud is a city in northern Osceola County, Florida about 26 miles southeast of Orlando. The City’s Lakefront Park hosts a marina, swimming beach, restaurant, fishing pier, boat ramp, performance stage, as well as other amenities. In 2015, the City began the process of developing a Seaplane Base as a way to draw visitors to its lakefront and downtown areas.
Starting with concept development and permitting, the City enlisted AVCON in 2016 to assist with the license application and guide them through the process of obtaining an Airport License from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Aviation Office. This license allows the City to begin operations as a seaplane destination and move forward with the development of a seaplane base on the southern shores of East Lake Tohopekaliga, locally called East Lake Toho.
During the development of the licensing application package, AVCON established a sea lane situated about one mile north of Lakeshore Park. The sea lane runs east west and is 3,000 feet long by 200 feet wide, and it will remain unlit as most seaplanes travel during daylight hours.
AVCON coordinated with the FAA for the performance of an airspace analysis to ensure the new sea lane would not interfere with other established air traffic patterns to nearby Orlando International and Kissimmee Gateway airports. AVCON also notified airports and other nearby landing areas to make them aware of the development and, in some cases, be able to develop interlocal agreements.
Owners of properties in the vicinity of Lakefront Park were also notified to ensure they were aware of the proposed development and allow them input into the process. Additionally, AVCON worked with the City and the FDOT to develop safety and security protocols for the seaplane base.
In late June 2020, the FAA provided the Seaplane Base with a Locator Identification (3FL), which was the last step in the airport licensing process with the FDOT.
The City is now officially offering a Seaplane Base which places them on a national registry, and they encourage visitors to fly in on East Lake Toho and enjoy all the amenities the City has to offer, including their Lakefront Park, Marina, and Historic Downtown.
The next step in this revitalization project for the City will be the completion of a Feasibility Study and the preparation of a Master Plan for the proposed Seaplane Base Facility. The City also intends to build a seaplane ramp and parking areas at Lakefront Park and will eventually provide fueling services as well. Until these facilities are built, seaplanes will be encouraged to anchor at Ralph V. Chisholm Regional Park located on the southeast corner of East Lake Toho. From there, it is a short shuttle ride to Lakefront Park on an already established bike path.