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  1. #1
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    Default Silly question about small seaplanes

    Okay, this may be the most impractical boating question yet, particularly since it doesn't involve boats.

    Seaplanes. Or as the basic ones seem to be called, 'floatplanes'.

    Why aren't they everywhere? I don't think I've ever even seen one. I understand that the license required to fly a light plane isn't a difficult thing to come by; and the float-equipped version of a small Cessna needn't cost more than a 35' speedboat...

    ...I'd have thought the fun available from being able to take off near home (even inland) and being able to cover a hundred miles per hour with ease, landing far away near dreamy seaside spots in the UK or abroad, would appeal strongly to Sunseeker types. No?

    Or, is there some killjoy rule that prevents one landing at will? Can't one inform the air-authority in the district one wishes to vist, letting them know the expected arrival time, and just go? All a bit James Bond perhaps, but so are speedboats, aren't they?

    I'm not under the pleasurable burden of planning how to spend a lottery win, but if I was, I'd be thinking seaplanes... ...and I'd have a country estate with a lake (as a runway). My question though, is why aren't the skies full of Practical Float Owners?

  2. #2
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    About ten years ago I watched someone launch a microlight floatplane at Stokes Bay. I think it must have been a weekday because there weren't many yachts around. The pilot just taxied out into open water and took off. There was no sign of officialdom clearing a 'runway' for him.
    'The lyf so short
    the arte so long to lerne.'

  3. #3
    prv is offline Registered User
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    Because flying is almost exactly the opposite of sailing, in regulatory terms.

    You need a license, which takes a lot of expensive training and practice. Plenty of people start out on the process but never finish it. You need to use your license - if you haven't flown within a certain period of time it lapses, as you're deemed to be out of practice, and need to do a refresher flight with an instructor.

    Aircraft maintenance must be done exactly by the book, by (or at least inspected by) people with the appropriate mechanic's licenses. My dad is lucky enough to have an arrangement with a small maintenance company to do his himself, under supervision; he's about to embark on the mandatory annual inspection which will take a week and involve dismantling the engine. Most people would have to pay for the whole job. This all costs, and is a bigger consideration than the purchase price.

    You can't just fly from anywhere; you need a licensed airfield. You can fly a few days a year from "farm strips" as a planning permission exemption, but people like Dylan will do their best to shut you down because aeroplanes are noisy. I assume the situation on private inland lakes for your seaplane would be similar to private strips, except expect even fiercer objections re birds and fish.

    You cannot fly within 500 feet (in any direction) of a person, vehicle or structure, so you could probably manage to land on a flat-calm sea (how often does that happen?) but not on more sheltered water.

    These are just the regulations I know about, and I'm not even a pilot nor particularly interested in flying.

    Pete

  4. #4
    Seajet's Avatar
    Seajet is offline Registered User
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    Dancrane,

    steady on, I thought you'd be happy with an Osprey, or at least some hydrofoil nutterdinghy job !

    As PRV Pete says, flying is so over-regulated in the UK it's actually quite a turn off; I've always thought if I ever had an aeroplane I'd want an aerobatic job, as the whole point is being able to move in 3 dimensions.

    However, you'd think sailing and flying are very similar, but I've known really TOP test pilots ( with the exception of JF who is annoyingly good at everything ) who had worryingly bad ideas about sailing; as I've found flying is not that natural to me, though I love it, I decided long ago that it would be best for all concerned - not least my bank manager - if I stick to sailing.

    I think one needs to get to at least a moderately advanced level, maybe CPL, then do a separate training & licence for floatplanes; have a google & look at 'the oops list' !

    Having said that, the first weekend I had my ( big & impressive to me in 1987 ) Carter 30, staunch crew & I went to the Folly intending to pose and impress the girlies for all we were worth.

    Then a complete git turned up overhead in a float-equipped Microlight, circled the pub a couple of times waving, landed on the river, and taxied in, casually tying up to the pontoon before meeting his now adoring bunch of fans.

    And they say we shouldn't carry rifles...

    Last edited by Seajet; 20-03-12 at 21:08.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seajet View Post
    ...a complete git turned up overhead in a float-equipped Microlight, circled the pub a couple of times waving, landed on the river, and taxied in, casually tying up to the pontoon before meeting his now adoring bunch of fans.
    Thank you, all. Cheers Andy; in truth, I was only dreaming about how it would feel to actually be that show-off git!

    I'll be quite content, only flying a burgee.

  6. #6
    Twister_Ken's Avatar
    Twister_Ken is offline Registered User
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    Parked in Helsinki...



    Also seen a floatplane doing circuits and bumps in Gurnard Bay.
    Next time, it'll all be different.

  7. #7
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    There is a service that runs, or did, from Glasgow River Airport or the Clyde as it is also known. They use a pontoon in one of the basins in the centre of the city and fly up to Oban Marina and some other such destinations. I haven't seen it around much this year but it lives up on Loch Lomond. I saw it landing and taking off at Oban once and it looked very hairy to me as it seemed to dig in a bit when it touched down. It did slow down very quickly as far as I can remember.
    Derek,
    Konsort 'Rhumlady'

  8. #8
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    Somewhere I read there was one in Cardiff bay, he did tourists rides. I might be getting confused with somewhere else?

  9. #9
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    The combination of free (and widespread) landing places, made available by any aircraft's sheer speed, made it seem theoretically pretty appealing to me. But I appreciate that a plane's necessarily intense and expert maintenance schedule, reduces its slick usability.

    I wonder if the same applies to 'Ground Effect Vehicles'? Rare enough and fast enough to trump any microlite or Wally yacht...



    ...pull up in that, outside the Folly Inn!

  10. #10
    Seajet's Avatar
    Seajet is offline Registered User
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    Default Caspian Sea Monster

    Dan,

    I've always thought the Russians, whose aviation design skills I admire enormously, must have done the Ekranoplane for a bet.

    The day I see one of those things come over the horizon at 500 + knots, less than 8 feet up, I'll maybe have time to think it's a bad day for me and the pilot.

    Meanwhile, top tip; don't leave the land wheels down...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pucmWr55cgw

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=N-_rgUGKc-s
    Last edited by Seajet; 20-03-12 at 22:03.

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