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1st flight - from land or water?

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1st flight - from land or water?

Old 08-03-2005, 01:19 PM
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Default 1st flight - from land or water?

This forum convinced me that my first float plane should be a Seamaster and now it is just about ready to fly. I am trying to decide if I should install the wheels and fly from the field and get everthing sorted out before I try my first ever water take off and landing. If I don't need to I don't want to drill the holes for the steerable nose gear and then have to plug them to keep water out -- maybe that is not a problem? The plane is pretty much standard with an OS 46 FX for power and a Futaba 9C for control. I did waterproof the lower section of the main compartment and all compartments forward of that and added some strengthening at the lite ply fuselage side tongue and groove joint. I used a Hitec HS-81 servo for the engine controls and its small size and reasonable torque are perfect for the job.

I have been in the hobby for about 36 yrs and would consider myself a strong intermediate flyer -- not into 3D stuff though. I am not concerned about flying the plane but I am concerned about the impact of pitch trim issues -- probably because I have never flown a plane with the engine mounted on a pylon way above the CG. So, should I fly my first flight from the field or from the water?

Please send me your cards and letters and best advice.

Old 08-03-2005, 03:15 PM
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Default RE: 1st flight - from land or water?

I'm not going to suggest either way, let someone else get in trouble. I will suggest that if you decide to go water first:: do a lot of slow taxi and gradually build up speed to see what the plane feels like in the water, once it's airborn with your experience you will know where to go next. As far as landing goes, keep a slight bit of power on and hold a nice flair, should be great. I like to fly (SEE ) the bottom of the boat/ float on landings. Next bit of advice: Stay AWAY from the GATORS. ENJOY !!! RED

Added note:: Don't force it off, if it doesn't want to get up DON'T force it, find out why then try again.

EGO'S brake planes and spirits!!!
Old 08-03-2005, 04:24 PM
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Default RE: 1st flight - from land or water?

I'll chip in my 2 cents. I'm a relatively new water pilot, but have been flying off land for <cough>20 years</cough>. I find that with my two feet on the ground, it's easy to keep everything oriented ... where I am, where the plane is, where the field is, etc. But for my primary lake flying site, I have to row out a ways from shore to get enough clearance to fly. I've noticed that I can get a bit turned around as the boat drifts and I can end up being all over the sky and have to work a lot harder to set up an approach that touches down in front of me. People that can fly from their docks probably don't have to worry about this, but it was something that kind of caught me off guard.

I'll step out on a limb and say that if you fly from land first, I think that will be a big confidence builder. You'll be able to tackle the water aspects knowing you have a handle on everything else and the plane is reasonably well trimmed out. If you fly a new plane from water and it's your first time off water, there is a few more variables and unknowns to juggle. Having said that, I managed to successfully maiden a Mariner 40 and do my first water take off and landing all at the same time, and as has been pointed out in other threads, the Mariner can be a real handful until you get it trimmed out. I'm an ok pilot, but definitely *not* a super hot shot, but I am proof that an average to mediocre pilot can do it.

So after having said all that, water take offs and landings are not all that big of a deal. With the seamaster you ought to be able to just gun the throttle, steer with the rudder, get up some speed, ease back on the stick and you'll be flying ... conceptually it's not all that much different than with a land based plane, just looks a lot cooler in the water. Landings are basically the same too ... fly the pattern ... down wind, base, watch for trees, turn final, watch for trees ... adjust rate of decent with throttle ... flair as you touch down. Again, just like for land based flying, but is much more entertaining in the water.

Of course, make sure you have a boat so you can retrieve your plane if anything goes wrong, and there is large number of things that could happen ... on an early flight I landed hard and the battery pulled out of it's socket (my fault for not packing the battery right) leaving the plane doing slow circles in the middle of the lake (engine running.) Fortunately I was at idle when I lost onboard power. I've had numerous engine outs struggling with my ebay special engine. I've run out of fuel having so much fun and had to dead stick in. I had one landing where I was carrying just a little too much side force in a cross wind (I had some uninvited spectators that severely limited my landing direction) and the snapped off the tail keel and rudder ... all things requiring a boat.

I have developed a love/hate relationship with my Mariner. It's always on the bench in need of some sort of stupid repair, but seaplane flying is sooooooo cooool ... :-)

Old 08-03-2005, 07:37 PM
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Default RE: 1st flight - from land or water?

My very first (attempted) water flying was with a top-flite Kittiwake. Designed by Ken Willard, may God bless his soul. It was not pretty. It flew very well after I put on a set of wheels. But there is a reason you don't see those anymore...

Later that same several years later, I slapped floats on my well wrung-out Big Lazy Bee. Float flying became effortless because I was flying a plane with which I was comfortable. I even got the KW to fly from water.

Do I have a point? Maybe.

My historic advice to Float Flying newbies is to slap floats on your favorite floatplane and go have fun. If you have a cub or a 4-star or even one of those Morris profile thingies, almost anything works well with add-on floats. You know how it flies, and floats may make it feel somewhat different but not completely unfamiliar. Get comfortable float-flying it. OK, now you know the flying site, what it's like to be on water, how to retrieve the airplane, etc. all with familiar hardware. THEN change one variable. Drop in your new shiny HydroSpiff 2000 flying boat. You'll be in a familiar environment trying out your new plane. With your experience you have done this before.

If you choose to skip step 1: A SeaMaster does not fly unlike a Kaos. It's reasonably fast, precise, and has no evil tendencies. If you hit the rudder right after you land it will do the most satisfying slide, at least until you back off the throttle and the outside tip float digs in.
Old 08-04-2005, 08:52 AM
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Default RE: 1st flight - from land or water?

Welcome to the waters Howard.
The less holes you drill in the plane the less you'll have to plug later. How you plan to use the plane should determine whether land or sea trial. It's designed as a seaplane. I have had over 30 flights on mine and find it the friendliest plane of all my planes. Balance it right, a bit more toward conservative, i.e. nose heavy at first. I stand on terra firma to control the plane as I dont like drifting in a raft and trying to keep track of my orientation.

Stand behind the plane, i.e as it takes off and that way you can see more easily what rudder input is needed. I give my plane full up until it builds up speed to keep it from nosing over, let up once on the steps and when you got the speed, a little up and she'll lift off. I've also had (past tense) a Mariner and found that I had to force that plane off the water. I mean full throttle and full up and a long strip of water. The Seamaster will lift off with just a touch of up and a short roll out. I also have the OS 46 fx on my Seamaster and find it a very good combination.

Of all the float planes I've flown, (5), the Seamaster is the easiest to handle. If the watter is choppy, landings can be fun. Too fast and she'll bounce, but not a real problem. I've gotten to where she settles in flat and smooth no matter what the conditions are. But then again, I wont fly off the water with 2 foot chops either or when tons of boats keep the water churning.

If you set it up for land flights and later remove the wheels, re check your balance.
Old 08-07-2005, 06:55 AM
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Default RE: 1st flight - from land or water?

I'd suggest go for the water flight. You are obviously experienced enough to know how to set up a plane so that should be no problem. I flew my seamonster off land for its first flight because I was nervous about flying off water for the first time with a new plane. It was as expected a non event. As was my first water takeoff. Basically there is no big deal about flying off water. Take off just keep the nose up a bit, landing is the same as land flying.
My next floaty's first flight will be off water.
Nothing to worry about, have fun.

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