We’ve seen them before—the 48-foot Windship Marine Technology, Inc., catamaran and matching Bell Long Ranger L206 helicopter owned by well-known performance-boat enthusiast John Woodruff. But we usually catch them in motion, not sitting unmanned and idle at a dock. Still, even at rest both are objects of art.
Photographer Jay Nichols snagged this image at Super Cat Fest 2014, which runs concurrently with the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Central Missouri. It’s part of his “50 Favorite Images of 2014” Flckr Gallery, which presently stands at 33 images and is still growing.
Woodruff, who has been flying helicopters since 1978, is every bit as fond of getting behind the seven-seat aircraft’s joystick as he is behind the steering wheel of his famed MTI cat. More often than not, he’s joined by his Nancy Hancock, whom he calls his life partner and the “best Hoola-Hooper” he knows.
“Other than on three occasions—Key West Poker run twice and the Pirates of Lanier Poker Run—when I had my friend and test pilot for Bell helicopter come fly for me so I could drive the boat, no one has ever cranked my helicopter but me,” said Woodruff. “For years, people have asked, ‘Where’s your pilot?’ I answer, ‘You’re looking at him.’ ”
“When I bought my first helicopter, one of the first destinations I had was the Key West World Offshore Championships—that was 1986—and I’ve been going ever since for the pure love of performance boats and the people that run them,” he continued. “After getting to know Howard Arneson—I flew my Jet Ranger to San Rafael, California, from Georgia to ride in his 32 Skater turbine he set the record on the Mississippi River—and then befriending Al Copeland, my interest in performance boats has grown to what it is today.”
Many years later, Woodruff found himself in the office of Pier 57 Marine in Counce, Tenn., with then-owner David Woods and Randy Scism of MTI. It was the first time Woodruff and Woods had met.
“I noticed on his office wall a picture of him racing in Key West in the ’90s with me in my helicopter right above him,” said “We both freaked. He gave me the framed picture and I ordered the Windship (the catamaran).
“The Windship helicopter is my ‘car’ and my passion,” he added. “I would much rather sit in the chopper all day long at 500 feet, counting trampolines and swimming pools—my kids favorite thing flying along in their seats—rather than going to Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport to board the germ bucket.”
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