We’ve all heard what pilots say about flying floats: “Most fun I ever had flying!” So next time you need a flight review or just a fabulous flying challenge, add a seaplane rating to your aviation repertoire. You’ll improve your flying skills in ways that transfer to land-based aircraft, you’ll get a little vacation, and you’ll have a blast. Here’s a list of interesting places to get your seaplane rating.
Alaska Float Ratings, Moose Pass, Alaska: Moose Pass is 23 nautical miles north of Seward and about 46 nm southeast of Anchorage; fly to one of these and rent a car or arrange for pick-up via float plane. Owner and DPE Vern Kingsford has been flying for over 52 years. Students usually fly multiple aircraft with different instructors. Incredible, wild scenery: turquoise lakes, massive glaciers, and steep mountains.
Grand Seaplanes, LLC, Grand Lake, Oklahoma: Learn in a flying boat, a Lake Amphibian equipped with a WAAS-certified Garmin 430 that allows IFR training; they also can train you in your Buccaneer or Renegade. Owner/Instructor Steve Robinson is a United Airlines Airbus Captain with over 26,000 logged hours and 5,500 hours of dual instruction. Room and board is available at their cabin, and you’ll enjoy great home-cooking. Fly in to Grove Airport, or, if you airline to Tulsa they’ll pick you up in the airplane and you’ll begin your training on the way back to Grand Lake.
Kenmore Air Harbor, Kenmore, Washington: Want to fly floats as a career? Kenmore Air is an actual airline, with scheduled commercial seaplane flights to over 45 destinations around the San Juan Islands, Victoria, Vancouver, and Alaska. Kenmore Air Harbor flight school offers training in a classic 150-horsepower Piper Super Cub or in a CubCrafters-updated 180-hp Super Cub. Advanced students can continue their training in a Cessna 180 or even a de Havilland Beaver and/or earn a commercial seaplane rating.
Adventure Seaplanes, Minnesota: Known as the “Land of 10,000 lakes,” Minnesota is a great place for seaplane training. Adventure Seaplanes offers both private and commercial ratings and a great range of aircraft: J-3 Cub, Cessna 172, Cessna 185, and a de Havilland Beaver. Their new summer location is on beautiful Lake Vermilion, at the Tower Airport and Seaplane Base. Adventure Seaplanes is one of the few companies that rents seaplanes, so you can keep flying after you earn your rating.
After you get your rating, if you don’t put floats on your own airplane, you can now buy renter's insurance for float flying.
Another great resource is the Seaplane Pilots Association, whose slogan is “Putting the Adventure Back in Aviation!” That just about says it all.