By Scott “Sky” Smith
Must be something in the air…or is that in the water? In the last couple years there has been an increase in people calling and asking about insurance on floatplanes. Maybe it’s because people are really concerned about the climate change or the polar ice caps are melting and the world as we know it will turn into a real version of “Water World.” Maybe it is because more people are flying shorter distances, or maybe it’s because many of us want something new to try.
Me, I grew up with ski boats, bass boats, sailboats, and canoes. If it floated, we had one of them. As a kid, I was canoeing, sailing and power boating as soon as the water warmed enough to get in with a wetsuit.
Even now I still boat. For over ten years I had a sailboat and now I have a pontoon. Maybe in a past life I was a pirate, I don’t know, but I have been around water my whole life.
I have also been in aviation since I was a kid, starting with models and getting my license when I was in high school. Being an avid boater, the next best thing would be a floatplane. I live in central Iowa and we do not have many options to get a floatplane rating. Many years ago, a Lake Buccaneer landed at the Saylorville Reservoir near where I live and offered a few lucky pilots an opportunity to get a seaplane rating.
First, the plane would get an annual inspection from a friend while the owner would book training flights. The owner’s time was limited so just a few people were privileged enough to get the education. I ended up missing my float flying opportunity for that year. The instructor and his Buccaneer never returned.
CURING THE URGE
Fortunately, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh and SUN ’n FUN in Lakeland, Florida, are both fantastic events that offer the floatplane enthusiast the opportunity to see and maybe even fly a floatplane. Where else can you get a few different floatplanes together on one lake, plus a chance for a ride or flight too?
Start planning and contacting the floatplane manufacturers and get on their demo flight list. Don’t miss out on your best opportunity to shop a floatplane.
Several years ago, I decided to write a story about learning to float fly, to cure the itch so to speak. I thought I could fly around the lake to get the urge out of my system and be back on dry land where the rubber meets the asphalt. Well, I flew around Lake Parker outside of the SUN ’n FUN event in a Zodiac 601 that was equipped with a set of amphibian floats. Amphibs are the perfect compromise allowing the owner to fly from land – with the wheels down of course – and from water with the wheels up. I could have the best of both worlds.
The timing was perfect. Spring and summer are the time when I get the question, “How hard is it to get insurance for floats on my plane?” So, I asked the question myself. I looked at a few ads, got a few quotes, and discussed the training requirements and finally the price. My hope was the thrill would subside, and I would make it through another year.
Well, it sort of happened that way. What I learned was that the real fun of float flying is taking off and landing. Flying is flying, just slower. Destinations are fun, takeoffs are fun and landings … they are really fun. A landing on the water has to be one of the biggest thrills of the floatplane experience. It was a setup on final like any other final, except for the water. A flare, a vibration, and the experience was over. You know, now that I am replaying it in my head, I think I even held my breath. I was ready to throw out the fishing line while we taxied to shore. Cure the urge? Nope! Like a fish on a line, I am hooked.
There are problems with floats, though. Since my business is insurance, the first thing I thought about was “what the underwriter would say?” With the right plane and the right underwriter, yes, I can get insurance.The rest of this article can be seen only by paid members who are logged in.
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