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Flying Seaplanes

Old 5th Aug 2013, 16:43
  #1 (permalink)  
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Location: Linköping, Sweden
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Flying Seaplanes

I love seaplanes but they seem quite touchy on take off and landing.

Can anyone explain these two videos, why this happen?

I have an interesting seaplane landing from Sweden which I will post a little later.
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Old 7th Aug 2013, 09:17
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In the first video it looks law a yaw problem of some sort. Could it have been the rudders on the floats deployed too soon?
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Old 8th Aug 2013, 11:08
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Seaplane Operations

Subic Seaplane, Inc. operate a non-scheduled charter seaplane service from the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in the Philippines
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Old 9th Aug 2013, 10:25
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Are there many/any seaplane operators around the UK?
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Old 9th Aug 2013, 10:34
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I remember these guys starting up a few years ago.

Looks like they're still at it.
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Old 9th Aug 2013, 10:38
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..and an iconic operator from my home area:

Kenmore Air ? Scheduled Air Service ? Charter Service ? Scenic Flight Tours - Seaplanes - Kenmore Air
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Old 9th Aug 2013, 19:07
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Can anyone with seaplane experience provide a description of some of the procedures used for take off and landing on water and also the difference between landing a plane with a hull and one which has floats.

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Old 9th Aug 2013, 19:50
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Second video:

Goose Crash Story
Contributed by a viewer:

Here is the story of the fouled landing of the Grumman Goose you have on
your site as: "Wild Landing!".

Please note that contrary to the comments of the reporter, the pilot of
the Goose, Hoot Gibson, is a well-known stunt and airshow aviator who
enjoyed many years of flying after the incident.

Back in the "olden days", when Tamarindo was a small village and everyone
knew everyone else, filmmaker Bruce Brown chose the town to shoot a
segment for his new movie "Endless Summer II". The sequel to the famous
surfing movie "Endless Summer" came a generation later than the original,
and, of course, featured new stars: Wingnut and Pat O'Connor, together
with one of the originals, Robert August.

Living in Flamingo at that time was a pilot, "Hoot" Gibson, who had spent
several years obtaining his commercial license in Costa Rica. Hoot owned a
vintage Grumman Goose seaplane, relic of World War II, and intended to
charter it for tours. Given the state of the roads then - and not much
improved since - a seaplane seemed the way to go to explore a country
surrounded by sea.

Robert August had a fine idea: To charter the Goose to fly the film crew
and its surfers around the coasts of Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama,
looking for unknown or little-known surf spots to shoot their sequences.
Apart from being much faster to cover more area, the aircraft was highly
superior to a boat, which could only examine the waves from the "back", or
ocean, side whereas a 'plane could approach from the landward side, too.
"Endless Summer II" was Hoot's first charter in Costa Rica, and was to
last two weeks.

On the first day, the Goose took off from the airport. The plan was to fly
out to Cabo Velas, return along Playa Grande and land in the bay near
Tamarindo estuary, where the crew would board, then to take off on their

The camera crew set up on Tamarindo Beach, ready to shoot the approach and
landing for the movie. But instead of flying from Cabo Velas, approaching
Tamarindo from the west along the Playa Grande coastline, the big Grumman
twin came roaring down the river from the north, putting on a show for the
camera. On board were the pilot, "Hoot" Gibson, and local resident and
California board shaper, the late Mike "Doc" Diffenderfer.

Approaching Tamarindo, the pilot started a right turn to follow the
estuary, but his height was insufficient. Presumably he suddenly became
aware of the power lines which cross the river at that point, and was
forced to fly below them. The right pontoon caught the water, and jerked
the aircraft to the right. Overcorrecting, the pilot put the left float
into the water, and the aircraft swerved to that side.

Gibson applied full take-off power to get the aircraft back into the air,
but it careered from the river onto the beach, where it ground-looped and
came to a stop. The whole incident was filmed, and eventually became part
of the movie.

"At this point," said August, "we saw fuel spraying from the aircraft onto
the sand, and there was a distinct danger of a fire or explosion. As we
approached the 'plane, the doors opened and Hoot and Doc jumped out,
fortunately both unhurt. From a nearby beach house, a resident came
running, carrying a big club and shouting at the pilot that he was in a
national park, and polluting the beach. We managed to calm him down, and
the incident ended at that point."

Eyewitness Dean Butterfield adds: "I was up the hill looking over the
estuary, watching Hoot Gibson fly the plane through it. He was doing touch
and go's in the estuary, I was wondering why he felt he had to do that in
there. As he came out to the mouth I think he saw the cable stretched
across at the last minute and tried to duck under it. He caught the wing
tip and stuffed it into the sand.

By the time I got down to it, there were a lot of people around. I took
pictures and made a T-shirt from one."

Officials of Minae also attended the site very shortly after the accident,
and charged the pilot with flying in a protected zone (Parque Marina las
Baulas). As a result, Gibson's license, obtained over several years, was
withdrawn after one brief flight.

"As it happened, the club-bearing resident did quite well out of the
crash." August continues. "The plane suffered damage to a wing and one of
the propellers, and parts for a vintage seaplane are not procured at your
local NAPA store, so the aircraft had to sit for a year or so while
repairs were made. During this time the aircraft was parked in the
resident's back garden, he and his family being paid for caretaker duty
against theft or vandalism. I believe someone of the family slept in their
garden ornament every night."

The day after the accident, filming continued with a scene where supposed
crash passengers August, Wingnut and Pat O'Connor climb cheerfully from
the Goose, carrying their boards, and run off to the surf.

Seriously concerned that accident investigators or other officials might
confiscate the film shot up to that point, Director Bruce Brown hired a
friend to hop a Sansa flight to San José, thence to Los Angeles for
processing. Fortunately, the film escaped customs examination but,
arriving in Los Angeles, it was delayed a couple of days en route for the
processing studio by the Rodney King riots, which occurred in the vicinity
of the studio.

The Goose was eventually repaired and flown out of Tamarindo.
Goose Crash Story
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Old 10th Aug 2013, 08:34
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Thank you zondaracer.

Do you think that landing seaplanes with floats, like the Cessna 206, is more difficult that landing one with a hull, like the Grumman Goose?
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Old 11th Aug 2013, 20:34
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The Beaver crash was also the result of filming it, the owner of the plane wanted to do the scene, the director insisted on a "hotshot stunt pilot" he nosed in the floats and well you can see the results
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Old 11th Aug 2013, 21:54
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Is this the "HOOT" the article is talking about?

I met the man himself in Reno, he handled his racer Sea Fury engine failure like nothing had happened, I can't believe a former Shuttle commander would had left himself out for such a [email protected]


Last edited by drag king; 11th Aug 2013 at 21:54.
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Old 11th Aug 2013, 23:09
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Here is a good source for seaplane and skiplane procedures.

Seaplane, Skiplane, and Float/Ski Equipped Helicopter Operations Handbook

Last edited by HEMS driver; 11th Aug 2013 at 23:10.
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Old 12th Aug 2013, 11:23
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HEMS driver thank you for the link, shall take some time to read through this.
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Old 14th Aug 2013, 00:06
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For the first video, I think Hell Man had it. A small float plane has three rudders, one for the air and two for the water.

The two water rudders are at the end of each float, and they are supposed to be lowered only for Idle Taxi. A set of rudders that can steer you at a couple of knots are going to steer you really, really fast at 70 knots.

It looks like he just forgot to raise the water rudders.
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Old 14th Aug 2013, 01:48
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I don't agree, if you look at the last few seconds of the video you can see that the water rudders are up.
I think that he was too fast and not stabilised at all, touched down with assymetry and the instant drag caused it.
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Old 17th Aug 2013, 12:31
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Originally Posted by rigpiggy View Post
The Beaver crash .. he nosed in the floats and well you can see the results
I have replayed the video many times but still cannot see the floats being nosed in, as in the front of the floats digging into the water. Am I missing something?

Are seaplanes more dangerous to fly than wheeled aircraft?
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Old 1st Sep 2013, 15:50
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This boat-hulled amphibian available to buy new in Russia:

AeroVolga LA-8 RA-0778G in Gelendzhik
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Old 4th Sep 2013, 19:34
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The Beaver was landing on what is called glassy water. This is where there is no wind, and the surface of the water is like a mirror. Under these conditions there is no depth perception and it is preferable to set up an approach using power and reduced flap and 'drag' the airplane in in a slight nose up attitude until it touches down. I forget the whole story behind the Beaver accident but rigpiggy is essentially correct. The company decided to use one of their own hot shots - who I seem to remember had a brand new float endorsement - instead of an experienced pilot, with the results you see there.

The correct procedure for a glassy water approach with the Beaver is to use climb flap and enough power to maintain 70 - 75 mph in a slight nose-up attitude with about a 300 fpm rate of descent. (I seem to recall about 20 -22 inches of manifold pressure and 1800 RPM.) The airplane will actually begin to round itself out as you enter ground effect. The touchdown should be just forward of the float step, with the heels of the floats about parallel to the surface of the water. In the video the pilot touches down in too level an attitude and the airplane goes squirrely on him. He appears to try and correct the yaw at which point he ceases to be a pilot and is now along for the ride.

I won't comment on the second video. I've never flown a Goose, but if the guy is as good a pilot as it is said, I guess he had a bad day As an old friend once told me, "Sometimes you bite the bear and sometimes the bear bites you."
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Old 9th Sep 2013, 09:48
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pigboat - Only trouble is it has made me a bit concerned about trying seaplane flying, it seems dangerous?

I thought this was interesting -

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Old 10th Sep 2013, 00:36
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YBB seaplane flying is inherently no more dangerous than landplane flying, the big difference of course being the condition of the alighting surface. Glassy water I've mentioned, the other condition that can cause you grief is the sea state, if you're landing on a large open water area. You learn to judge the sea state by checking the wave action along the shoreline, and the wind velocity. If you want to try float flying I say go for it, and I wish you the best of luck. Any good float flying school can give you instruction. A few things I would emphasize would be the afore mentioned glassy water landings, sailing an airplane backwards when it is too windy to turn around on the water and how to judge the swell conditions and wind velocity by wave action. You may never have to use any of those tricks if you just want to putter around on a fine afternoon, but they are something you should have up your sleeve if you find yourself in a situation where they may be called for. In Canada you would need a minimum of five hours instruction on a seaplane, with a minimum of five landings and takeoffs to obtain a bare seaplane rating. That isn't much time and should be looked upon as a license to learn.

That's an interesting video. I've taken off off the dolly with the Beaver and the C185. We used to employ the truck to tow the airplane out to the end of the runway and retrieve the dolly after the airplane had departed. Personally I would refuse a towed takeoff like that. A dolly takeoff is not without a certain amount of inherent risk but in my opinion that truck out front of the airplane simply doubles it. You can't hit a truck that isn't there. There are some airports who refuse to allow a take off without the truck on the grounds that the dolly will possibly take out some runway lights after the airplane has flown off it, but to me that argument is specious. Not to say it hasn't happened, but if the dolly doesn't remain on the runway after the airplane has departed it simply means it wasn't lined up properly at the start. The technique we always used was to have the run up completed, shut the engine down, position the airplane on the runway center line and disconnect the dolly tow bar. Have all your pre takeoff checks done, because now once you start the engine you no longer have brakes and the airplane will begin to roll as soon as you add anything more than idle power. The trick is to add the power smoothly while holding full right rudder to counteract P effect. The rudder becomes effective at low airspeed, with the Beaver and Cessna I seem to remember around 20 kt, so you have full rudder control very early. At that point you're simply driving a landplane with no brakes. When you reached takeoff speed simply allow the airplane to fly off the dolly - there is no need to horse it off - but lift off should be positive, you don't want to settle back down. Our dolly was equipped with brakes that were actuated by a lever that popped up when the airplane lifted off, so after a few hundred feet it rolled to a stop. If you were unfortunate enough to have the dolly run off the runway, you bought were required to buy the maintenance guys a case of beer, the same as landing with the water rudders extended.

Last edited by pigboat; 10th Sep 2013 at 00:37.
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