Ever wonder how floatplanes (A.K.A. seaplanes) take off from dry land after maintenance?
While it’s true seaplanes are at home in the wet stuff, they have to come onto dry land for maintenance. Landing is one thing, they can be trailered in or land on grass (which we’ll get to later) but how do they take off from land? With a trailer and truck! Cessna floatplane owner Dave Hewitt captured the amazing moment his floatplane took off from the back of trailer towed along by a Chevrolet Silverado booking it at over 70 MPH.
Check out the amazing bit of video courtesy of Dave on from the Cessna 180/185 Facebook Group.
According to Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, launching off the back of a trailer isn’t anything new and has been in practice for over 21 years.
The procedure was pioneered by Joe Sprague of Cadillac Airfcraft Services based out of Cadillac, Michigan. By using a modified ski-mobile trailer and a powerful enough vehicle to get up to 70 MPH, Joe could launch a seaplane from dry land without towing it to the water, saving time and energy.
According to Joe, the truncated take-off procedure goes something like this,
Sprague gives the truck full throttle, and just like a normal takeoff, they’ll give the airplane full throttle. He tells them to keep the stick or yoke full forward until they’re ready to take off, which he said should be about 10 knots over the speed they’re normally comfortable flying. Then, they pull back slightly on the yoke and take off, staying to the side of the pickup truck.
Sprague recommends that first-timers to this method let someone else do the first takeoff and presumably that’s what Dave is doing here, observing from a chase vehicle as his pride and joy takes to the skies, towed behind a truck.
And here’s how some, if not most seaplanes, get to their maintenance appointments, an easy grass landing.
And did you know seaplane owners can swap out those narrow pontoons for regular landing gear? Sometimes, pontoons have landing gear integrated to make dry landings on regular ground a routine thing.