Come On In, the Water’s Fine

It’s a typical winter situation for pilots in the Northern hemisphere. Your aircraft is tucked away in a snowed-in hangar and your instructor is in Florida, or some other winter retreat. How can you get beneficial recurrent training in your airplane during the cold winter months. There is a way; it’s not the same as flying with your task master but it is helpful none-the-less, and it’s free.

Most pilots dismiss the idea of adding a seaplane rating to their certificate because they feel there is little chance of using it after the day of the check ride. It’s hard to argue with that logic but consider this: Most pilots that fly seaplanes now had the same expectation on the day of their check ride. Life is a conglomeration of unexpected opportunities and “chance” experiences, no matter how much control we think we have. In any case, it is an easy—and fun—rating to obtain, especially in the warm weather months.

Here are a few “getting started” suggestions: Find a copy of the “Seaplane Training Directory” published annually by the Seaplane Pilot’s Association. Seaplane schools are listed by state. Concerns about the quality of the instructor can be dismissed. If the instructor has reached “insurance approved seaplane instructor” status, it is very likely that instructor is quite competent. Personalities and training methods can vary from instructor to instructor, so you may want to ask some basic questions about availability and training practices ahead of time. Remember, no day is ever the same in a seaplane, so keep an open mind to new experiences.

Prepare by reading any one of the text books on learning to fly seaplanes; there are several on the market. Look online for seaplane training courseware to get an idea of the content of syllabi or simply look at the Practical Test Standard for the required tasks for a seaplane rating.

Choose a school, schedule the training and enjoy a new experience in flying and remember; only a handful of people in the entire world are able to add this experience to their list. No matter what you do with the rating, the experience of obtaining it will open a new dimension in flying.