If you have ever seen a seaplane, then you will notice measurable differences between that aircraft, and regular aeroplanes.
A seaplane has its own use, design and operation, that sets it apart from other aircrafts.
What is a seaplane?
A seaplane, or a hydroplane is a type of aviation transportation. A seaplane is different from a regular aircraft, as it has the ability to take off, land and float on water. Seaplanes are therefore built with boatlike hulls that allow them to float on the surface of the water, and take off when needed.
The first seaplane was constructed in 1876, but later sank, and so later, modern versions of the seaplane have been utilized since the early 1900s, and are still often in use today. However, their popularity somewhat dropped off after the Second World War. They are now instead sometimes used to transport between islands across the Caribbean Sea.
That being said, seaplanes are still used for remote locations such as the Canadian or Alaskan wilderness, where there may be many lakes available for landing and takeoff. These types of seaplanes often work on a charter or scheduled basis, or may be flown by local residents for personal use.
How fast do seaplanes fly?
As seaplanes are designed to work as aircrafts and with floatation as boats, they are not as fast as other types of planes.
That being said, the fastest ever jet propelled seaplane is actually the Convair F2Y Sea Dart, which has a top speed of 1328 km per hour!
Are seaplanes dangerous?
For the most part, sea planes are safe, when operated correctly, and with safety measures and precautions in place. However, they are more dangerous than many other types of travel transportations.
In 2019, America’s National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) examined multiple incidents involving seaplanes, in an investigation that warned that seaplanes can be highly dangerous and may no longer be a safe form of transportation.
There are a few reasons as to why this may be, as seaplanes are notoriously difficult to escape from in the case of an accident or an emergency. In addition, seaplanes and float planes are considered by many pilots as having their own set of significant challenges when it comes to flying them.
For instance, the weather and water conditions can change quickly, and rapidly. Unlike a regular aeroplane runway, the conditions for landing are always in flux, or there may be birds, obstructions, waves or dangers on the water at any given moment. This makes landing a seaplane incredibly difficult for pilots.
Another hazard that seaplane pilots and passengers may face is that they are most often used in remote areas, where other forms of travel are near impossible. This means that pilots in these locations have to rely on other pilots to report their positions, and flight paths over radio.
This differs from regular flights where traffic control can coordinate flight paths, warn of obstructions, and coordinate landing and take off times across various planes. This means that pilots have to look out for other flights themselves, and plan accordingly, and safely.
In addition, seaplanes are often easily sunk at the slightest mistake or obstruction. If the pilot leaves the wheels down when landing on water, the plane will take on too much water and is at risk of sinking. This can also cause a mechanical failure, which can also lead to the seaplane sinking.
One of the greatest risks that you may face with a seaplane is that they are notoriously hard to escape from. If there is an incident where a crash landing has taken place, it is often hard for passengers to jump from the plane, or survive in the water afterwards, as these planes can sink very quickly due to their heavy components.
Where is it legal to land a seaplane?
Where a seaplane can be landed depends on the type of aircraft. For instance, some seaplanes are float planes, and can only be landed on water, and not on land. On the other hand, an amphibious aircraft can land on both.
Whilst a seaplane is great for its ability to land on water, and take off on water, you cannot just land it anywhere. Where you land a seaplane legally will depend on the state in which you are in. In addition, you also cannot land in National Parks, or protected areas.
In the United States, you would have to abide by local laws and regulations to determine where it is legal to land a seaplane. In many states, you can land in most bodies of water, but you should examine the Water Landing Directory from the Seaplane Pilots Association.
This will help you find suitable landing locations in popular seaplane areas: https://www.seaplanepilotsassociation.org/resources/water-landing-directory/ .