Land or Water?
Q: Is landing on water more or less difficult than on land?
A: Both! With water having many times more drag than a typical paved runway, more attention and skill is needed to contact the water smoothly and at a safe speed. Waves and boats also challenge the pilot when he lands on water. However, other factors, such as strong crosswinds are typically more challenging on paved runways since runways only point in one direction. Seaplane pilots often have the flexibility of choosing where, and in which direction to land, since there is no official runway. With this flexibility, the pilot can land directly into the wind, avoiding a difficult cross-wind scenario.
Q: How is the seaplane able to land on both water and land?
A: Our Cessna 206 “Stationair” has amphibious floats. Quite simply, our pilots operate an electric switch, activating an electric hydraulic pump, which creates the hydraulic pressure to actuates pistons that lower and raise the wheels. Each float has one larger main wheel in the aft, and one smaller front wheel that is free castering, used to steer.
Q: How high in the air do we fly?
A: We typically fly between 2,000 and 5,000 feet, depending on current conditions. Wind typically varies both in speed and direction at different altitudes. Depending on which direction we are heading, a certain altitude may have the most favorable wind to give the favorable “tailwind” which helps speed the plane to its destination. To give perspective, most jet airlines fly 10 times higher than we do.