Spring Seaplane Safety Refresher

As we get ready for the seaplane season, well…okay, dream about getting ready for seaplane season, we start to think about the skills needed to get through the spring, summer, and fall seasons safely. I’m always looking to bring some new, revolutionary, amazing safety tip to these seaplane articles. So each newsletter time I search my archives for something so profoundly innovative that CNN will be at my doorstep. Nominations for the Pulitzer Prize will arrive in my mailbox. Seaplane people will take me to lunch. Then, reality sets in as I review the accident record once more, “same old stuff.” Different people making the same mistakes, “same old stuff.” As a refresher, the best thing I can do is list the “same old stuff” that causes accidents. Here’s the “same old stuff” list:

Take-off or landing down-wind. Successful execution depends on planning, knowledge, skill and practice. Not recommended unless the circumstance leaves no other choice.

Glassy water landings. This one gets a lot of pilots each year. Good planning, good preparation, good procedures, and proper aircraft attitude are essential. Remember, if you gain reference because you’re looking at the beach 100 feet off the nose of the airplane, and you’re still in the air, there was most probably a mistake in planning.

Gear down, water landing. This is not good, but it happens every year. There are so many procedural protections available to keep this from happening. The best defense is a “triple gear check” procedure before touchdown.

Too much wind. What can the airplane take, and what can the pilot take? If the pilot is unable to quantify the answer to this question, it’s best to keep flying activity in surface wind conditions below 18 knots.

Takeoff without enough room to takeoff. Know your airplane. Know your skill level. Know your environment. Know your wind. Know the load.

Happy flying and keep your tips up!