Already a member? Please login below for an enhanced experience. Not a member? Join today

Seaplane FlyingSeaplane Flying

Seaplane Flying

Table of Contents

Fishing in Canada's Remote Wilderness
Fly in for an idyllic time at Escapade
By Tim Wright
AOPA Pilot, April 2006

Escapade is especially attractive to pilots with its 3,300-foot-long gravel runway and a protected bay ideal for seaplanes. (While floatplanes are arriving and departing in Escapade's bay, wind-driven waves in the main part of the reservoir can make seaplane operations there impossible.) Full accommodations in the camp's main building mean pilots can arrive as we did, carrying little more than the clothes on our backs. Friendly to both wheeled and float airplanes, Escapade monitors communications on 122.75 MHz on a 24/7 basis and is happy to provide local weather conditions when asked. Fuel is a precious commodity in the region, and Escapade is one of two places on the Gouin for boat fuel, and the only place on the massive reservoir for avgas.

Getting your feet wet
By Michael P. Collins
AOPA Flight Training, November 2005

A few years ago I had an opportunity to spend a few days photographing a story for our sister magazine, AOPA Pilot, on Iliamna Air Taxi - a family-owned air taxi service based in Iliamna, Alaska, about 190 miles west-southwest of Anchorage. The company was a study in contrasts, operating a new Pilatus PC-12 single-engine turboprop between Iliamna and Anchorage, and a fleet of piston-engine aircraft to nearby destinations.

President's Perspective: Finally flying seaplanes
By Phil Boyer
AOPA Flight Training, June 2005

With the knowledge gained from the AOPA and SPA Web sites, my friend and I chose Jack Brown's Seaplane Base in Winter Haven, Florida. Since 1962, Brown's has trained more than 16,000 seaplane pilots from all over the world. We soon found ourselves at the Winter Haven Airport on a Friday evening, ready to start training the next morning. Lessons would start at 7 a.m. to take advantage of the morning calm. I should mention that the weather was not at all cooperative that first day, with strong winds and several heavy rain squalls.

Living the dream
Learning, and teaching, float flying in Alaska
By Katie Writer
AOPA Flight Training, June 2005

A job for an air taxi operation in western Alaska several years earlier had given me an introduction to the Alaska floatplane environment. That job description entailed loading and fueling floatplanes, painting docks, and being a warm body at hunting camps in the fall. As a 90-hour private pilot, I realized that I needed a seaplane rating, exposure to floatplanes, and an introduction to bush flying; Tikchik Airventures in Dillingham, Alaska, was my starting point.

Beriev Be-103: From Russia With Love
Now landing in water country, U.S.A.
By Barry Schiff
AOPA Pilot, October 2004

Seaplane pilots looking at the Beriev Be-103 light amphibian for the first time express skepticism about its unusual low- to mid-wing configuration and are curious to know how such an airplane performs on water. After all, other seaplanes have wings intended to be kept well clear of the water. These pilots usually are surprised to learn that the Be-103 performs and handles extraordinarily well on water.

Cessna 206 Amphibian: Four-Wheel Water Wagon
Forget the Hummer, this is your go-anywhere vehicle
By Peter A. Bedell
AOPA Pilot, September 2004

Cessna's 206 has long been known as one of the workhorses of general aviation. The airplane can squeeze itself in and out of tight strips with ease, swallow and carry a big load, is easy to maintain and operate, and - perhaps most important - has many modifications available in the aftermarket to increase its already impressive list of capabilities. One of the many modifiers of the 206 is Wipaire Inc., of South St. Paul, Minnesota. Known mostly as a float manufacturer for everything from short-wing Pipers to regional airliners, Wipaire has expanded its business to become a one-stop shop of sorts for those looking to perform a major overhaul of various popular airframes. For the 206, Wipaire holds a number of supplemental type certificates (STCs) that further enhance flexibility and performance.

Pilotage: Smell the fish
By Mark R. Twombly
AOPA Pilot, September 2004

Mark R. Twombly, a writer, editor, and pilot, now lands on two different runway surfaces.
The epiphany hit me sometime during the first flight of the second and final day of instruction. I had been so deeply absorbed in the training, so focused on trying to master the unique techniques required for the rating, that I had not taken any time to stop and smell the flowers. Correction: Smell the fish, not the flowers.

Proficient Pilot: Water wings
By Barry Schiff
AOPA Pilot, August 2004

Retired airline captain Barry Schiff has flown 290 types of aircraft, 10 short of his 300-type goal.
Once in a while I am asked what aircraft I most enjoy flying. That's a no-brainer. My answer is always the same: "seaplanes." The sea bug bit in 1959 when my close friend, Roger Fleishman, and I responded to an ad offering seaplane ratings in Sausalito, a picturesque town on the west edge of San Francisco Bay only a mile or so north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The ad said that the average pilot could get a rating in an 85-horsepower Luscombe 8E floatplane in one day for a grand total of $100. That was a lot of money for college kids trying to make it on their own in those days.

California Flying
Seaplanes over San Francisco
By Alton K. Marsh
AOPA Pilot, March 2004

San Francisco - you know the area well and have done it all, right? Have you taken a seaplane tour yet? Didn't think so. Seaplanes still fly over San Francisco just as they did 60 years ago, thanks to San Francisco Seaplane Tours. During a recent trip I toured the usual attractions but had seen them all before. I was looking for something new and happened on it by accident.

The Flying Boat
One of the all-time great airplanes from aviation's golden era
By Barry Schiff
AOPA Pilot, September 2003

We called McCarran International Approach for permission to enter the Class B airspace surrounding Las Vegas.
"Sikorsky Two-Eight-Victor, you're cleared into Class Bravo airspace. Descend to 2,700 feet."
I replied by saying that 500 feet over the city seemed a bit low.
"You're a helicopter, right?"
"Negative. We're a flying boat."

Read the Water
Floatplane flying in Alaska
By Patrick Mathews
AOPA Pilot, September 2002

It was the summer solstice, and I had come to this remarkable part of the world to experience authentic bush flying and to hopefully obtain my single-engine seaplane rating. Like many pilots, I had always been intrigued by the idea of adding the float rating to my certificate, not as much for its utility as for the pure experience. So, if this was to be for the experience then I wanted the real thing - to fly the way professional bush pilots do. And I wanted real training, not just the rating.

Piaggio Royal Gull: Sky-Wide and Handsome
The CEO of seaplanes
By Mark Huber
AOPA Pilot, August 2000

"It's a phenomenal workhorse, the C-130 of amphibs," says Lance McAfee, who has flown one since 1987 and used it to supply the treasure hunting ship Arctic Explorer. Sidney Hendricks owned three Gulls over 20 years, accumulating more than 1,000 hours in them commuting between his home in California and a mountain lake cabin in British Columbia. "It's a fabulous airplane," he says.

President's Perspective: Adding A Rating
By Phil Boyer
AOPA Flight Training, July 2000

For many years I have wanted to add a seaplane rating to my certificate-mainly for the challenge and to experience water operations. Like so many things, I put off scheduling this dream until late last year when a friend and I agreed to go to a weekend school and try out the strange environment of taking off and landing on water. There are a variety of places throughout the United States that offer courses like this, but we chose Jack Brown's Seaplane Base in Winter Haven, Florida. Since 1962, Brown's has trained more than 14,000 seaplane pilots from all over the world.

Flying Carpet
Skimming Blue Waters At 200 Feet
By Greg Brown
AOPA Flight Training, July 2000

"Need help?" yelled the guy in the boat. "No, thanks," I replied, not daring turn my head too far for fear of falling into the water. We were adrift in the middle of the Colorado River, me balanced precariously on the seaplane's float, face down, pumping water out of the float compartments. Twice we had tried to take off - unsuccessfully given the calm wind and glassy waters. "You must not have emptied all the water from the floats," said Joe La Placa, the designated examiner for this ride. "Get out there and do it again." Great way to start a checkride, I thought.

Postcards: Splashdowns on Italy's Lake Como
Earning sea wings on Europe's deepest lake
By Gregory Palermo
AOPA Pilot, November 1999

Waypoints: Floats and boats
By Thomas B. Haines
AOPA Pilot, October 1998

The breeze kicks up as I feed in the throttle. Soon the wind is stinging my eyes, despite the sunglasses. Every time I turn my head to look around for traffic, the sunglasses seem about to depart my face. I quickly gain new appreciation for the strapped-down-tight goggles worn by the open-cockpit set - they aren't just for show. No doubt those silk scarves serve an equally valuable purpose beyond looking cool. At full throttle now, we're tooling along at a good clip, the cool breeze a welcome relief from the late summer's heat. The bright afternoon sun glints off the water's surface. It's a perfect day for flying.

Town and Country Caravan
Land or sea, the amphibious Cessna Caravan works well in any setting
By Thomas B. Haines
AOPA Pilot, October 1998

Enter the pattern at about 100 knots. Put the gear and first notch of flaps down. Turn base at about 90 knots; add more flaps; slow to 80 knots on short final with full flaps; set up a slightly nose-high landing attitude and reduce the power slowly; smile broadly as the airplane settles nicely on the runway. A primer on landing a 3,000-pound Cessna 182RG? No, just a run-of-the-mill landing in a 7,800-pound Cessna Caravan on amphibious floats.

Training Topics
Legal Briefing: Private Students
By James E. Cooling
Flight Training, November 1996

Life on the Water
Fun flying, and a paycheck too
By Amy Laboda
AOPA Pilot, August 1996

Seaplane School
Three-Day Skipper: Float flying in gator land
By Alton K. Marsh
AOPA Pilot, June 1995

Postcards: Alaska By Air
Flightseeing: General aviation showing off the last frontier
By Mike Tontimonia
AOPA Pilot, June 1994

An Invitation to Fly!
Expand Your Horizons
Exploring other definitions of the word "fly"
By William L. Gruber
AOPA Pilot Special Edition, 1994

Floats or Boats?
What to fly where the sea meets the sky
By William L. Gruber
AOPA Pilot, August 1993

Rock Me on the Water
By Seth B. Golbey
AOPA Pilot, July 1989

That Seaplane Rating
By Robert A. Klobnak
AOPA Pilot, September 1969

AOPA Services Developed Exclusively for Members:

AOPA Guide to Starting your Flight Training

AOPA Legal Services Plan

AOPA Aircraft Renter's Insurance

AOPA Resource Center on the Web site

Pilot Information Center


Medical Services info


Updated Monday, April 14, 2008