Are you a wheeled plane pilots who says, “One of these days, I'll get rated on floats?” Or perhaps you are a traveler who watches seaplanes take off and land? Either way, below is a primer about some differences between planes on floats vs wheels. (Our Piper has skis, floats, and wheels).
Pre-flight checks of the floats underscore the fact that they are designed to function like boats, so many of the terms and design features are similar. In fact, we secure our float plane to an angled dock with a boat winch. In this position, most of each float is elevated above the water line, so we can inspect the keel (the bottom of the float) before sliding the plane down into the water and maneuvering it with a tow rope over to the adjacent boat dock, where we conduct the other pre-flight checks. Internally, the floats' bulkheads are divided into six watertight compartments, which must be “sumped out” with a portable bilge pump to remove any accumulated water (rain from above or seepage from below). Another chore is to check the retractable water rudder at the stern of each float. Some float planes also have a fin added under their tails for extra stability.
|The ducks coming out to say "good morning" |
to their floating friend