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Weekend on floatsWeekend on floats

Don't let your gear go swimmingDon't let your gear go swimming

Pilots are mission-minded, and they are also mindful of weight and balance. Through trial and error, they’ll assemble and make room in the confines of a cockpit for the equipment that will work best. Check out what you need for a floatplane trip.

Gear for weekend on floats

  • Gear for weekend on floats
    Tip o' the hat: Stave off the sun and proclaim your favorite pastime. Fly. hat. $25/
  • Gear for weekend on floats
    Pilot's friend: Gerber MP600 multi-plier has a one-handed opening design, 14 tools, and a black or stainless-steel body. It's perfect to have on hand for cutting rope. $72/
  • Gear for weekend on floats
    Pockets and more pockets: A lightweight Slimerence Fly Fishing Vest Pack lets you carry survival items right on you instead of in a flight bag. $29.99/
  • Gear for weekend on floats
    Made in the shades: Protect your vision and look good doing it. Ray Ban RB3483 sunglasses have a metal frame and 100-percent UV protection coating. $200/ Also consider: Dual Eyewear (, Method Seven (, Scheyden Precision Eyewear (
  • Gear for weekend on floats
    Flotation device: The airplane key is one item you don't want to sink to the bottom of a lake. This floating keychain from Chum’s fits over your wrist, and is easily visible. $6.99/

Being belly down on a Cessna 180's straight float, fishing a screwdriver out of a lake in northern Alaska, leaves a lasting impression as a lesson learned the hard way: If it (whatever “it” is) is not physically attached to you, zipped or strapped in a pocket, or connected to a float—whatever you have on your person or in the cockpit could slip or fall and sink into the water, turning an adventure into a predicament. That's true whether scrambling onto the float to dock, or as in my case, helping with an oil change.

That's why my favorite seaplane accessory is a jacket with zipper pockets (a fishing vest works in summer—see slideshow below). As long as I don't fall in the water, my cellphone, small wallet, sunglasses, and anything else I stash in there won't get wet.

Speaking of falling in, I wear shoes with traction so that I don't slip on wet floats. Quick-drying clothes are convenient—particularly pants that roll up or zip off around the knee for wading through shallow water. Pack extra clothing or gear that's going in a float compartment in a dry bag, because the compartments leak.

Sunglasses are another key item. Forget the polarized/nonpolarized debate; wear specs that cut the sun's glare on the water.

Check out more in the 2018 AOPA Gear Guide.




Alyssa J. Miller

Alyssa J. Cobb

AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor
AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor Alyssa J. Cobb has worked at AOPA since 2004 and is an active flight instructor.
Topics: Seaplane

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