One of the coolest things we did on our amazing holiday in Florida was to fly a seaplane for the first time. I had researched seaplane schools in advance, as I knew that there were a few dotted about the lakes north of Orlando. I settled on Jones Brothers & Co, based in Tavares, who were really helpful by email and said it was fine for us to do half an hour’s instruction each. Their base was this cute wooden building along the shores of the lake.
Our plane – a Cessna 180 on floats – was being refuelled when we arrived. The petrol pumps are on a jetty, as you can see below!
Here’s a photo of us with the plane just before we took off!
Lee went first, and did three take-offs and landings (very well, of course!). It was so surreal to land on the water!
The views were pretty cool, though we were there more for the flying instruction than the sight-seeing. We hopped from one lake to another, landing in the middle of each lake.
I sat in the back while Lee had his turn at the controls, as you can see in this photo!
Then it was my go. We landed in the middle of a lake, and Lee had to get out of the front, stand on the float (with no life jacket!!) while I scrambled from the back into the front. I warned the instructor that I wasn’t as experienced flying Cessnas as Lee, so he might want to do the take-offs and landings, but he said it was ok and that I should have a go. I did all three of each, and was pleased with how well I got on! This video (click the image to view) shows one of my take-offs. It takes a lot longer to get off the water than it does off a tarmac runway, as there’s a lot more drag from the surface of the water.
And here’s my first landing. One of the best landings I’ve done, I think!
After I’d done three take-offs and landings, our instructor took control and took us for a rather thrilling low-level flight along a river that linked to one of the lakes. It felt so fast at that level – as you can see in the video below – and it was a great way to finish the flight.
We can now add ‘introduction to seaplane flying’ into our logbooks, which is quite a novelty!