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Sweeps: Float-tasticSweeps: Float-tastic

Sweeps Super Cub transforms to amphib

The metamorphosis  is complete: AOPA’s Sweepstakes Super Cub, which debuted as a backcountry beauty in 2018, has taken on its final form for the giveaway this summer as an amphibian that’s equally at home on land as it is on water.
Pilot Briefing May 2019
AOPA’s Sweepstakes Super Cub  transformed from a taildragger to a floatplane in a week at Wipaire’s Florida facility.

Wipaire installed its Wipline 2100 amphibious floats and Laser Gear Advisory system at its Leesburg, Florida, facility. “You get a lot more options with the amphibious floats,” said Bill Pike, general manager of Wipaire’s Leesburg shop. Straight floats limit landing options and require advanced research for fuel availability at seaplane bases. Amphibs open the options to grass and paved runways, making cross-countries in the seaplane as easy as a land airplane.

One of the special considerations with amphibious floats is making sure the landing gear is in the correct position before landing. Landing on the water with the wheels extended would cause the airplane to flip over. To make sure the pilot is aware of the gear position, the Super Cub is equipped with Wipaire’s Laser Gear Advisory system that includes visual and audio alerts. Each float has a visual position indicator that the pilot and passenger can see easily from the cockpit. Also, the instrument panel features two types of lighted indications: At the top of the panel, an advisory display indicates the type of landing surface; at the bottom of the panel, four green lights illuminate for gear in the runway landing configuration and four blue lights illuminate for gear in the water landing configuration. An audio alert will sound as a final warning. A laser mounted in the wing “can tell the difference between water and ground,” Pike said, explaining that it will recognize the landing surface at 400 feet and illuminate the advisory display with “water” or “land” for the surface it detects. At 50 feet above the surface and below a certain airspeed, the audio alert will sound if the gear is in the incorrect configuration. If this happens, Wipaire recommends going around to set up in the correct configuration.

The system might seem eerily quiet to those who have flown with Wipaire’s traditional audio system with the repetitive “Gear down for runway landing” and “Gear up for water landing” alerts. The Laser Gear Advisory system is designed to sound less frequently and “won’t come on until you’re doing something wrong,” Pike said. “So you need to heed it.” If you do everything correctly, the audio alert will not sound.

With the airplane’s transformation complete, it’s time for the lucky winner to earn his or her sea legs with a seaplane rating if he or she doesn’t already have it. ProMark Aviation in Texas is donating training toward the rating. After all, the winner should be as comfortable on land and water as the Super Cub.

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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.

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