Floating planes

After the Wright brothers finally took off . The engineers of that time went in a hurry to try to make a plane capable of taking off and landing on water without sinking.

:Cessna Skywagon

The first successful powered seaplane flight occurred in 1910 in Marseilles, France. Henri Fabre invented the Hydravion (French for seaplane/floatplane). Fabre’s aircraft was equipped with plywood floats that enabled the lightweight plane to take off from water, fly approximately half a kilometer, and land safely on water. Henry Fabre himself piloted his new plane and it worked successfully as planned. The Curtiss Model D,was developed by American Aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss and was mainly a land plane with a central floatand buoyancy sponsors. It was awarded the first-ever Collier Trophy for US flight

At the expense of extra weight and complexity, plus diminished range and fuel economy compared to planes designed for land or water only. Some amphibians are fitted with reinforced keels which act as skis, allowing them to land on snow or ice with their wheels up. Many amphibian aircraft are of the flying boat type. These aircraft, and those designed as float planes with a single main float under the fuselage centerline

The Loening OL

They require outrigger floats to provide lateral stability so as to avoid dipping a wingtip, which can destroy an aircraft if it happens at speed, or can cause the wingtip to fill with water and sink if stationary. While these impose weight and drag, amphibious aircraft also face the possibility of these getting hit when operating from a runway. A common solution is to make them retractable as those found on the  however these are even heavier than fixed floats. Some aircraft may have the tip floats removed for extended use from land. Other amphibians, such as the; Dornier Seastar use stub wings called sponsons, mounted with their own lower surfaces nearly even with the ventral “boat-hull” shaped fuselage surface to provide the needed stability, while floatplane amphibians usually avoid the problem by dividing their buoyancy requirements between two floats, much like a catamaran.

:Two floats for stability

An occasional problem with amphibians is with ensuring the wheels are in the correct position for landing. In normal operation, the pilot uses a checklist, verifying each item. Since amphibians can land with them up or down though, the pilot must take extra care to ensure they are correct for the chosen landing place. Landing wheels up on land may damage the keel (unless done on wet grass, a technique occasionally used by pilots of pure flying boats), while landing wheels down on water will almost always flip the aircraft upside down, causing substantial damage.

:The Vickers Viking

Amphibious aircraft are heavier and slower, more complex and more expensive to purchase and operate than comparable landplanes but are also more versatile. Even if they cannot hover or land vertically, for some jobs they compete favorably with helicopters and do so at a significantly lower cost. Amphibious aircraft can be much faster and have longer range than comparable helicopters, and can achieve nearly the range of land based aircraft,as an airplane’s wing is more efficient than a helicopter’s lifting rotor. This makes an amphibious aircraft, such as the Grumman Albatross, useful for long-range air-sea rescue tasks. In addition, amphibious aircraft are particularly useful as “Bushplanes” engaging in light transport in remote areas, where they are required to operate not only from airstrips, but also from lakes and rivers.

:The Grumman hu-6 Albatross

Today’s modern seaplanes are primarily light amphibious aircraft equipped with floats that enable pilots to land in remote areas around the world. Rescue organizations, such as coast guards, frequently use modern seaplanes in search and rescue missions

:Piaggio Royal Gull, Oshkosh 2019

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