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Technique: Glassy water landingsTechnique: Glassy water landings

What's it like to land on a mirror

Flying at dawn and dusk usually brings a serene experience with still air and beautiful light. But for seaplane pilots, that stillness is a hindrance. Glassy water lacks the visual cues of choppy water, and coming in to land on a still lake with low light can be a very tricky maneuver. Doing so calls for a specific technique.
January Technique
Illustration by Charles Floyd

1. Plan the landing lane. Because the glassy water landing technique takes a longer landing distance, plan by selecting a landing lane with plenty of room. Some estimate a typical glassy water lane is three to four times the normal landing. You’ll also want to try to land parallel to shore, if possible.

2. Set up a normal approach. Begin by starting a normal approach in a standard configuration.

3. Add power. Once below the trees on the shore, add power to slow the descent.

4. Use visual cues on the shore. Use trees, houses, or any other prominent point to judge your descent rate. Try to descend no more than 100 or 200 feet per minute.

5. Wait for the water. Hold the descent and landing attitude until contacting the water. Don’t try to flare or judge your height about the water. Simply wait for contact.

6. Power to idle. Pull the power to idle and come off the step as soon as possible to stop the landing run.

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.

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