November 2000 Issue

Boats or Floats?

A seaplane rating may put some fun back into flying, but beware the difference between flying boats and floatplanes

They are leviathans sleeping on the tarmac. Towering amphibious floatplanes, boasting adventures of which their landlubbing cousins only dream. Nearby, small flying boats, engines mounted oddly above the fuselage, ponder remote lakes brimming with bass. If you’re pondering whether to take the aqua plunge, the next question is floats or boats?

Flying boats, or “hull designs,” splash down on their bellies and have small floats, or sponsons, under each wing for stability on the water. Floatplanes are common aircraft that sit atop two pontoons. Which you choose will depend upon your anticipated missions and your budget. The decision may also have a substantial impact on your future safety. <...

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