Brush Up Your Summer Seaplane Skills
By BRIAN ADDIS
It’s spring flying season! Well, okay, spring didn’t arrive this year. So, it’s summer flying season! It’s time to think about those things that will keep us safe and happy seaplane users through the season. First on the list: Water temperature. The last reading on my lake registered 49 degrees Fahrenheit. I do not want to go "seaplane dumping" in those water temperatures. Brush off those procedure skills. Remember, the best defense against a "gear down water landing" is a triple check before touchdown; the last check representing your last chance for that landing. Also, check out your floatation devices and survival gear. A good preflight of this equipment should be on your list for the season.
Wind is second on the list. Too much wind, no wind and everything in between deserves respect. Practice a couple glassy water landings with wind so your skills are sharp. Touchdown attitude, descent rate, enough water in front of the airplane and enough room to get out of there—if things don’t work out—are the key factors. High wind results in mechanical turbulence. The airport planning engineer spends lots of time and money to insure trees and other obstacles are set back far enough at an airport to minimize mechanical turbulence. Seaplane pilots don’t take planning engineers with them. The seaplane pilot’s only defense against the effect of mechanical turbulence is situational awareness. Look at the site. Make some predictions based on the wind velocity; be aware and be prepared to react. Several months of great seaplane flying are in your future. Be safe and enjoy the season.
Brian Addis Chief Flight Instructor - Lake & Air Pilot Shop