Seaplane docked and seaplane taking off at AirVenture 2021. Photography courtesy of Nicole Lund.
The summer months bring warm temperatures across the United States. This is the perfect time to knock out a seaplane rating. A seaplane rating can be done in less than 10 flight hours. It is a cost-effective and fun way to challenge pilots to continue learning. The following six reasons will make any pilot want to hop in a seaplane this summer.
1. Access to more airports
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the United States has 481 seaplane bases. These bases can be used to dock and fuel aircraft. In addition to these bases, there are thousands of lakes, reservoirs, bays, and rivers to land a seaplane in North America. Pilots can enjoy an adventurous fishing or camping trip in remote areas with a seaplane.
The magenta anchors indicate seaplane bases. This sectional excerpt is north of Anchorage. Alaska has the most seaplane bases out of all U.S. states and territories. Graphic courtesy of Skyvector.com.
2. Develop new flying skills
Seaplane training focuses on ditching and survival more than non-amphibious training. In addition, seaplane pilots must know how to land in glassy and rough water, use the water rudders, and have knowledge of the floats.
Knowledge of these topics will make you a better pilot.
3. Improve previous piloting skillset
Short-field and crosswind landing techniques will improve while working on the seaplane rating. Seaplane pilots often takeoff and land with trees and other obstacles near the shore. Short-field takeoff and landing techniques will improve with the extra emphasis seaplane training puts on these maneuvers. Depending on the width of the lake, pilots may still need to perform crosswind landings in a seaplane. This will help pilots stay proficient with crosswind takeoff and landing techniques.
4. Ability to camp at the Vette/Blust Seaplane Base (96WI) during AirVenture
This privately-owned seaplane base is open to the public every year during AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI. The seaplane base is on the west side of Lake Winnebago. Pilots that fly into the seaplane base can camp on the grounds of the seaplane base. This campsite is the least crowded and quietest of the campsites offered at AirVenture. The atmosphere of the seaplane base is relaxing and is slower-paced compared to the events at Wittman Regional Airport during the show.
Seaplanes docked at 96WI during AirVenture. Photography courtesy of Nicole Lund.
5. Most-fun biannual flight review
Biannual flight reviews are required every 24 months for pilots to continue flying. Checkrides can also count as a flight review. Instead of doing a flight review with an instructor, challenge yourself to become a better pilot by adding on a seaplane rating.
It will be the most fun biannual flight review and checkride.
6. More opportunities for work
A seaplane rating opens the door for flight instruction and part 135 seaplane opportunities. Florida, the Bahamas, and Alaska have many charter gigs flying seaplanes. These jobs would be a great option for pilots building time or even a fun life-long career.
Warmer air and water temperatures make the summer months a perfect time of year to knock out a seaplane rating. The Seaplane Pilots Association is a great resource to find local seaplane schools. Pilots who strive to continue learning are proven to be safer pilots and have lower insurance premiums. The seaplane rating allows pilots to have more options for places to explore.