A seaplane is a powered fixed-wing aircraft capable of taking off and
landing (alighting) on water. Seaplanes that can also take off and
land on airfields are in a subclass called amphibious aircraft.
Seaplanes and amphibians are usually divided into two categories based
on their technological characteristics: floatplanes and flying boats;
the latter are generally far larger and can carry far more. These
aircraft were sometimes called hydroplanes, but currently this term
applies instead to motor-powered watercraft that use the technique of
hydrodynamic lift to skim the surface of water when running at
Their use gradually tailed off after World War II, partially because
of the investments in airports during the war. In the 21st century,
seaplanes maintain a few niche uses, such as for dropping water on
forest fires, air transport around archipelagos, and access to
undeveloped or roadless areas, some of which have numerous lakes.
2.1 Early pioneers
2.2 Birth of an industry
2.3 World War I
2.4 Between the wars
2.5 World War II
3 Uses and operation
4 See also
The word "seaplane" is used to describe two types of air/water
vehicles: the floatplane and the flying boat.
A floatplane has slender pontoons, or floats, mounted under the
fuselage. Two floats are common, but other configurations are
possible. Only the floats of a floatplane normally come into contact
with water. The fuselage remains above water. Some small land aircraft
can be modified to become float planes, and in general, floatplanes
are small aircraft. Floatplanes are limited by their inability to
handle wave heights typically greater than 12 inches (0.31 m).
These floats add to the empty weight of the airplane and to the drag
coefficient, resulting in reduced payload capacity, slower rate of
climb, and slower cruise speed.
de Havilland Otter floatplane
In a flying boat, the main source of buoyancy is the fuselage, which
acts like a ship's hull in the water because the fuselage's underside
has been hydrodynamically shaped to allow water to flow around it.
Most flying boats have small floats mounted on their wings to keep
them stable. Not all small seaplanes have been floatplanes, but most
large seaplanes have been flying boats, with their great weight
supported by their hulls.
The term "seaplane" is used by some instead of "floatplane". This is
the standard British usage. This article treats both flying
boats and floatplanes as types of seaplane, in the US
An amphibious aircraft can take off and land both on conventional
runways and water. A true seaplane can only take off and land on
water. There are amphibious flying boats and amphibious floatplanes,
as well as some hybrid designs, e.g., floatplanes with retractable
Modern production seaplanes are most often light aircraft, amphibious,
and of a floatplane design.
Gabriel Voisin, air pioneer, who made one of the earliest flights in a
Henry Farman (left), in 1908
Alphonse Pénaud filed the first patent for a flying
machine with a boat hull and retractable landing gear in 1876, but
Wilhelm Kress is credited with building the first seaplane,
Drachenflieger, in 1898, although its two 30 hp Daimler engines
were inadequate for take-off, and it later sank when one of its two
On 6 June 1905,
Gabriel Voisin took off and landed on the River Seine
with a towed kite glider on floats. The first of his unpowered flights
was 150 yards (140 m). He later built a powered floatplane in
partnership with Louis Blériot, but the machine was unsuccessful.
Other pioneers also attempted to attach floats to aircraft in Britain,
France and the United States.
On 28 March 1910, Frenchman
Henri Fabre flew the first successful
powered seaplane, the Gnome Omega-powered hydravion, a trimaran
floatplane. Fabre's first successful take off and landing by a
powered seaplane inspired other aviators, and he designed floats for
several other flyers. The first hydro-aeroplane competition was held
Monaco in March 1912, featuring aircraft using floats from Fabre,
Curtiss, Tellier and Farman. This led to the first scheduled seaplane
passenger services, at Aix-les-Bains, using a five-seat Sanchez-Besa
from 1 August 1912. The
French Navy ordered its first floatplane in
François Denhaut constructed the first seaplane with a
fuselage forming a hull, using various designs to give hydrodynamic
lift at take-off. Its first successful flight was on 13 April 1912.
Throughout 1910 and 1911, American pioneering aviator Glenn Curtiss
developed his floatplane into the successful Curtiss Model D
land-plane, which used a larger central float and sponsons. Combining
floats with wheels, he made the first amphibian flights in February
1911 and was awarded the first
Collier Trophy for US flight
achievement. From 1912, his experiments with a hulled seaplane
resulted in the 1913 Model E and Model F, which he called
"flying-boats". In February 1911, the
United States Navy
United States Navy took
delivery of the
Curtiss Model E
Curtiss Model E and soon tested landings on and
take-offs from ships, using the Curtiss Model D.
In Britain, Captain Edward Wakefield and
Oscar Gnosspelius began to
explore the feasibility of flight from water in 1908. They decided to
make use of
Windermere in the
Lake District, England’s largest lake.
The latter's first attempts to fly attracted large crowds, though the
aircraft failed to take off and required a re-design of the floats
incorporating features of Borwick’s successful speed-boat hulls.
Meanwhile, Wakefield ordered a floatplane similar to the design of the
1910 Fabre Hydravion. By November 1911, both Gnosspelius and Wakefield
had aircraft capable of flight from water and awaited suitable weather
conditions. Gnosspelius's flight was short-lived, as the aircraft
crashed into the lake. Wakefield’s pilot, however, taking advantage
of a light northerly wind, successfully took off and flew at a height
of 50 feet (15 m) to Ferry Nab, where he made a wide turn and
returned for a perfect landing on the lake’s surface.
Emile Taddéoli equipped the
Dufaux 4 biplane with
swimmers and successfully took off in 1912. A seaplane was used during
Balkan Wars in 1913, when a Greek "Astra Hydravion" did a
reconnaissance of the Turkish fleet and dropped four bombs.
Birth of an industry
In 1913, the
Daily Mail newspaper put up a £10,000 prize for the
first non-stop aerial crossing of the Atlantic, which was soon
"enhanced by a further sum" from the Women's Aerial League of Great
Curtiss NC Flying Boat "NC-3" skims across the water before takeoff,
Rodman Wanamaker became determined that the prize
should go to an American aircraft and commissioned the Curtiss
Aeroplane and Motor Company to design and build an aircraft capable of
making the flight. Curtiss's development of the Flying Fish flying
boat in 1913 brought him into contact with John Cyril Porte, a retired
Royal Navy Lieutenant, aircraft designer and test pilot who was to
become an influential British aviation pioneer. Recognising that many
of the early accidents were attributable to a poor understanding of
handling while in contact with the water, the pair's efforts went into
developing practical hull designs to make the transatlantic crossing
The two years before World War I's breakout also saw the privately
produced pair of
Benoist XIV biplane flying boats, designed by Thomas
W. Benoist, initiate the start of the first heavier-than-air airline
service anywhere in the world, and the first airline service of any
kind at all in the United States.
At the same time, the British boat-building firm
J. Samuel White
J. Samuel White of
Cowes on the
Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight set up a new aircraft division and produced
a flying boat in the United Kingdom. This was displayed at the London
Air Show at Olympia in 1913. In that same year, a collaboration
between the S. E. Saunders boatyard of East
Cowes and the Sopwith
Aviation Company produced the "Bat Boat", an aircraft with a consuta
laminated hull that could operate from land or on water, which today
is called an amphibious aircraft. The "Bat Boat" completed several
landings on sea and on land and was duly awarded the Mortimer Singer
Prize. It was the first all-British aeroplane capable of making
six return flights over five miles within five hours.
In the USA, Wanamaker's commission built on Glen Curtiss's previous
development and experience with the Curtiss Model F for the U.S.
Navy, which rapidly resulted in the America, designed under Porte's
supervision following his study and rearrangement of the flight plan;
the aircraft was a conventional biplane design with two-bay,
unstaggered wings of unequal span with two pusher inline engines
mounted side-by-side above the fuselage in the interplane gap. Wingtip
pontoons were attached directly below the lower wings near their tips.
The design (later developed into the Model H) resembled Curtiss's
earlier flying boats but was built considerably larger so it could
carry enough fuel to cover 1,100 mi (1,800 km). The three
crew members were accommodated in a fully enclosed cabin.
Trials of the America began 23 June 1914 with Porte also as Chief Test
Pilot; testing soon revealed serious shortcomings in the design; it
was under-powered, so the engines were replaced with more powerful
tractor engines. There was also a tendency for the nose of the
aircraft to try to submerge as engine power increased while taxiing on
water. This phenomenon had not been encountered before, since
Curtiss's earlier designs had not used such powerful engines nor large
fuel/cargo loads and so were relatively more buoyant. In order to
counteract this effect, Curtiss fitted fins to the sides of the bow to
add hydrodynamic lift, but soon replaced these with sponsons, a type
of underwater pontoon mounted in pairs on either side of a hull. These
sponsons (or their engineering equivalents) and the flared, notched
hull would remain a prominent feature of flying-boat hull design in
the decades to follow. With the problem resolved, preparations for the
crossing resumed. While the craft was found to handle "heavily" on
takeoff, and required rather longer take-off distances than expected,
the full moon on 5 August 1914 was selected for the trans-Atlantic
flight; Porte was to pilot the America with George Hallett as co-pilot
World War I
Curtiss and Porte's plans were interrupted by the outbreak of World
War I. Porte sailed for England on 4 August 1914 and rejoined the Navy
as a member of the Royal Naval Air Service. Appointed Squadron
Royal Navy Air Station Hendon, he soon convinced the
Admiralty of the potential of flying boats and was put in charge of
the naval air station at
Felixstowe in 1915. Porte persuaded the
Admiralty to commandeer (and later, purchase) the America and a sister
craft from Curtiss. This was followed by an order for 12 more similar
aircraft, one Model H-2 and the remaining as Model H-4's. Four
examples of the latter were assembled in the UK by Saunders. All of
these were similar to the design of the America and, indeed, were all
referred to as Americas in
Royal Navy service. The engines, however,
were changed from the under-powered 160 hp Curtiss engines to
Rolls-Royce Falcon engines. The initial batch was followed
by an order for 50 more (totalling 64 Americas overall during the
war). Porte also acquired permission to modify and experiment with
the Curtiss aircraft.
The Curtiss H-4s were soon found to have a number of problems; they
were underpowered, their hulls were too weak for sustained operations,
and they had poor handling characteristics when afloat or taking
off. One flying boat pilot, Major Theodore Douglas Hallam,
wrote that they were "comic machines, weighing well under two tons;
with two comic engines giving, when they functioned, 180 horsepower;
and comic control, being nose heavy with engines on and tail heavy in
Felixstowe F.2A, the first production seaplane, and the basis for
At Felixstowe, Porte made advances in flying-boat design and developed
a practical hull design with the distinctive "
Porte's first design to be implemented in
Felixstowe was the
Felixstowe Porte Baby, a large, three-engined biplane flying boat,
powered by one central pusher and two outboard tractor Rolls-Royce
Porte modified an H-4 with a new hull whose improved hydrodynamic
qualities made taxiing, take-off and landing much more practical and
called it the
Porte's innovation of the "
Felixstowe notch" enabled the craft to
overcome suction from the water more quickly and break free for flight
much more easily. This made operating the craft far safer and more
reliable. The "notch" breakthrough would soon after evolve into a
"step", with the rear section of the lower hull sharply recessed above
the forward lower hull section, and that characteristic became a
feature of both flying-boat hulls and seaplane floats. The resulting
aircraft would be large enough to carry sufficient fuel to fly long
distances and could berth alongside ships to take on more fuel.
Porte then designed a similar hull for the larger
Curtiss H-12 flying
boat which, while larger and more capable than the H-4s, shared
failings of a weak hull and poor water handling. The combination of
the new Porte-designed hull, this time fitted with two steps, with the
wings of the H-12 and a new tail, and powered by two Rolls-Royce Eagle
engines, was named the
Felixstowe F.2 and first flew in July 1916,
proving greatly superior to the Curtiss on which it was based. It was
used as the basis for all future designs. It entered production as
Felixstowe F.2A, being used as a patrol aircraft, with about 100
being completed by the end of World War I. Another seventy were built,
and these were followed by two F.2c, which were built at Felixstowe.
In February 1917, the first prototype of the
Felixstowe F.3 was flown.
It was larger and heavier than the F.2, giving it greater range and
heavier bomb load, but poorer agility. Approximately 100 Felixstowe
F.3s were produced before the end of the war.
Felixstowe F.5, designed by
Lieutenant Commander John Cyril Porte
Seaplane Experimental Station, Felixstowe
Felixstowe F.5 was intended to combine the good qualities of the
F.2 and F.3, with the prototype first flying in May 1918. The
prototype showed superior qualities to its predecessors but, to ease
production, the production version was modified to make extensive use
of components from the F.3, which resulted in lower performance than
the F.2A or F.5.
Porte's final design at the
Seaplane Experimental Station
Seaplane Experimental Station was the
Felixstowe Fury triplane (also known as the
"Porte Super-Baby" or "PSB").
F.2, F.3, and F.5 flying boats were extensively employed by the Royal
Navy for coastal patrols and to search for German U-boats. In 1918,
they were towed on lighters towards the northern German ports to
extend their range; on 4 June 1918, this resulted in three F.2As
engaging in a dogfight with ten German seaplanes, shooting down two
confirmed and four probables at no loss. As a result of this
action, British flying boats were dazzle-painted to aid identification
Felixstowe F5L under construction at the Naval Aircraft Factory,
Philadelphia, circa 1920
Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company
Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company independently developed its
designs into the small Model F, the larger Model K (several of which
were sold to the Russian Naval Air Service), and the Model C for the
U.S. Navy. Curtiss, among others, also built the
Felixstowe F.5 as the
Curtiss F5L, based on the final Porte hull designs and powered by
American Liberty engines.
Meanwhile, the pioneering flying-boat designs of
François Denhaut had
been steadily developed by the
Franco-British Aviation Company into a
range of practical craft. Smaller than the Felixstowes, several
thousand FBAs served with almost all of the Allied forces as
reconnaissance craft, patrolling the North Sea, Atlantic and
In Italy, several seaplanes were developed, starting with the L series
and progressing with the M series. The Macchi M.5, in particular, was
extremely manoeuvrable and agile and matched the land-based aircraft
it had to fight. Two hundred forty-four were built in total. Towards
the end of World War I, the aircraft were flown by Italian Navy
United States Navy
United States Navy and United States Marine Corps airmen.
Ensign Charles Hammann won the first Medal of Honor awarded to a
United States naval aviator in an M.5
The German aircraft manufacturing company
flying boats starting with the model
Hansa-Brandenburg GW in 1916, and
had a degree of military success with their
two-seat floatplane fighter the following year, being the primary
aircraft flown by Imperial Germany's notable, 13-victory maritime
fighter ace, Friedrich Christiansen. The Austro-Hungarian firm
Lohner-Werke began building flying boats, starting with the Lohner E
in 1914 and the later (1915) influential
Lohner L version.
Between the wars
In September 1919, British company
Supermarine started operating the
first flying-boat service in the world, from Woolston to
Le Havre in
France, but it was short-lived.
NC-4 became the first aircraft to fly across the Atlantic
Ocean in 1919, crossing via the Azores. Of the four that made the
attempt, only one completed the flight.
In 1923, the first successful commercial flying-boat service was
introduced, with flights to and from the Channel Islands. The British
aviation industry was experiencing rapid growth. The Government
decided that nationalization was necessary and ordered five aviation
companies to merge to form the state-owned
Imperial Airways of London
(IAL). IAL became the international flag-carrying British airline,
providing flying-boat passenger and mail-transport links between
South Africa using aircraft such as the Short S.8
In 1928, four
Supermarine Southampton flying boats of the RAF Far East
flight arrived in Melbourne, Australia. The flight was considered
proof that flying boats had evolved to become a reliable means of
Flying boats of
Ad Astra Aero
Ad Astra Aero S.A. at
Zürichhorn water airport,
Uetliberg in the background (~1920)
In the 1930s, flying boats made it possible to have regular air
transport between the U.S. and Europe, opening up new air travel
routes to South America, Africa, and Asia. Foynes,
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador were the termini for many early
transatlantic flights. In areas where there were no airfields for
land-based aircraft, flying boats could stop at small island, river,
lake or coastal stations to refuel and resupply. The Pan Am Boeing 314
"Clipper" planes brought exotic destinations like the Far East within
reach of air travelers and came to represent the romance of flight.
By 1931, mail from
Australia was reaching Britain in just 16 days −
less than half the time taken by sea. In that year, government tenders
on both sides of the world invited applications to run new passenger
and mail services between the ends of the Empire, and
Qantas and IAL
were successful with a joint bid. A company under combined ownership
was then formed,
Qantas Empire Airways. The new ten-day service
between Rose Bay, New South Wales, (near Sydney) and
such a success with letter writers that before long, the volume of
mail was exceeding aircraft storage space.
A solution to the problem was found by the British government, who in
1933, had requested aviation manufacturer
Short Brothers to design a
big new long-range monoplane for use by IAL. Partner
Qantas agreed to
the initiative and undertook to purchase six of the new Short S23 C
class, or Empire, flying boats.
Dornier Do-X over a seaport town in the Baltic, 1930
Delivering the mail as quickly as possible generated a lot of
competition and some innovative designs. One variant of the Short
Empire flying boats was the strange-looking Maia and Mercury. It was a
four-engined floatplane "Mercury" (the winged messenger) fixed on top
of "Maia", a heavily modified
Short Empire flying boat. The larger
Maia took off, carrying the smaller Mercury loaded to a weight greater
than it could take off with. This allowed the Mercury to carry
sufficient fuel for a direct trans-Atlantic flight with the mail.
Unfortunately, this was of limited usefulness, and the Mercury had to
be returned from America by ship. The Mercury did set a number of
distance records before in-flight refuelling was adopted.
Alan Cobham devised a method of in-flight refuelling in the 1930s.
In the air, the
Short Empire could be loaded with more fuel than it
could take off with.
Short Empire flying boats serving the
trans-Atlantic crossing were refueled over Foynes; with the extra fuel
load, they could make a direct trans-Atlantic flight. A Handley
Page H.P.54 Harrow was used as the fuel tanker.
Dornier Do-X flying boat was noticeably different from its
UK and U.S.-built counterparts. It had wing-like protrusions from the
fuselage, called sponsons, to stabilize it on the water without the
need for wing-mounted outboard floats. This feature was pioneered by
Claudius Dornier during World War I on his Dornier Rs. I giant flying
boat and perfected on the Dornier Wal in 1924. The enormous Do X was
powered by 12 engines and carried 170 persons. It flew to America
in 1929, crossing the Atlantic via an indirect route. It was the
largest flying boat of its time, but was severely underpowered and was
limited by a very low operational ceiling. Only three were built, with
a variety of different engines installed, in an attempt to overcome
the lack of power. Two of these were sold to Italy.
World War II
The military value of flying boats was well-recognized, and every
country bordering on water operated them in a military capacity at the
outbreak of the war. They were utilized in various tasks from
anti-submarine patrol to air-sea rescue and gunfire spotting for
battleships. Aircraft such as the
PBM Mariner patrol bomber, PBY
Catalina, Short Sunderland, and
Grumman Goose recovered downed airmen
and operated as scout aircraft over the vast distances of the Pacific
Theater and Atlantic. They also sank numerous submarines and found
enemy ships. In May 1941, the
German battleship Bismarck
German battleship Bismarck was
discovered by a
PBY Catalina flying out of Castle Archdale Flying boat
base, Lower Lough Erne, Northern Ireland.
The largest flying boat of the war was the Blohm & Voss BV 238,
which was also the heaviest plane to fly during World War II and the
largest aircraft built and flown by any of the Axis Powers.
Kawanishi H8K, 1941-1945
In November 1939, IAL was restructured into three separate companies:
British European Airways,
British Overseas Airways Corporation
British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC),
British South American Airways
British South American Airways (which merged with BOAC in 1949),
with the change being made official on 1 April 1940. BOAC continued to
operate flying-boat services from the (slightly) safer confines of
Poole Harbour during wartime, returning to
Southampton in 1947.
When Italy entered the war in June 1940, the Mediterranean was closed
to Allied planes and BOAC and
Qantas operated the Horseshoe Route
between Durban and
Short Empire flying boats.
The Martin Company produced the prototype XPB2M Mars based on their
PBM Mariner patrol bomber, with flight tests between 1941 and 1943.
The Mars was converted by the Navy into a transport aircraft
designated the XPB2M-1R. Satisfied with the performance, twenty of the
modified JRM-1 Mars were ordered. The first, named Hawaii Mars, was
delivered in June 1945, but the Navy scaled back their order at the
end of World War II, buying only the five aircraft which were then on
the production line. The five Mars were completed, and the last
delivered in 1947.
Hughes H-4 Hercules
After World War II, the use of flying boats rapidly declined for
several reasons. The ability to land on water became less of an
advantage owing to the considerable increase in the number and length
of land-based runways during World War II. Further, as the speed and
range of land-based aircraft increased, the commercial competitiveness
of flying boats diminished; their design compromised aerodynamic
efficiency and speed to accomplish the feat of waterborne takeoff and
landing. Competing with new civilian jet aircraft like the de
Havilland Comet and
Boeing 707 proved impossible.
The Hughes H-4 Hercules, in development in the U.S. during the war,
was even larger than the BV 238, but it did not fly until 1947. The
"Spruce Goose", as the 180-ton H-4 was nicknamed, was the largest
flying boat ever to fly. Carried out during Senate hearings into
Hughes's use of government funds on its construction, the short hop of
about a mile (1.6 km) at 70 feet (21 m) above the water by
the "Flying Lumberyard" was claimed by Hughes as vindication of his
efforts. Cutbacks in expenditure after the war and the disappearance
of its intended mission as a transatlantic transport left it no
In 1944, the
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force began development of a small jet-powered
flying boat that it intended to use as an air defence aircraft
optimised for the Pacific, where the relatively calm sea conditions
made the use of seaplanes easier. By making the aircraft jet-powered,
it was possible to design it with a hull rather than making it a
Saunders-Roe SR.A/1 prototype first flew in 1947 and
was relatively successful in terms of its performance and handling.
However, by the end of the war, carrier-based aircraft were becoming
more sophisticated, and the need for the SR.A/1 evaporated.
Berlin Airlift (which lasted from June 1948 until August
1949), ten Sunderlands and two Hythes were used to transport goods
Finkenwerder on the
Hamburg to isolated Berlin, landing
on the Havelsee beside
RAF Gatow until it iced over. The Sunderlands
were particularly used for transporting salt, as their airframes were
already protected against corrosion from seawater. Transporting salt
in standard aircraft risked rapid and severe structural corrosion in
the event of a spillage. In addition, three Aquila flying boats were
used during the airlift. This is the only known operational use of
flying boats within central Europe.
The U.S. Navy continued to operate flying boats (notably the Martin
P5M Marlin) until the early 1970s. The Navy even attempted to build a
jet-powered seaplane bomber, the Martin Seamaster.
BOAC ceased flying boat services out of
Southampton in November 1950.
Bucking the trend, in 1948,
Aquila Airways was founded to serve
destinations that were still inaccessible to land-based aircraft.
This company operated
Short S.25 and Short S.45 flying boats out of
Southampton on routes to Madeira, Las Palmas, Lisbon, Jersey, Majorca,
Marseille, Capri, Genoa,
Montreux and Santa Margherita. From 1950
to 1957, Aquila also operated a service from
Southampton to Edinburgh
and Glasgow. The flying boats of
Aquila Airways were also
chartered for one-off trips, usually to deploy troops where scheduled
services did not exist or where there were political considerations.
The longest charter, in 1952, was from
Southampton to the Falkland
Islands. In 1953, the flying boats were chartered for
troop-deployment trips to
Freetown and Lagos, and there was a special
trip from Hull to
Helsinki to relocate a ship's crew. The airline
ceased operations on 30 September 1958.
Saunders-Roe Princess G-ALUN at the Farnborough SBAC Show in September
The technically advanced
Saunders-Roe Princess first flew in 1952 and
later received a certificate of airworthiness. Despite being the
pinnacle of flying-boat development, none were sold, though Aquila
Airways reportedly attempted to buy them. Of the three Princesses
that were built, two never flew, and all were scrapped in 1967. In the
Saunders-Roe also produced the jet-powered SR.A/1
flying-boat fighter, which did not progress beyond flying prototypes.
Australia operated a flying-boat service from Rose Bay to Lord
Howe Island until 1974, using Short Sandringhams.
On 18 December 1990, Pilot Tom Casey completed the first
round-the-world flight in a floatplane with only water landings using
Cessna 206 named Liberty II.
Uses and operation
See also: List of seaplane operators
De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter
De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter float plane in West Coast Air
Numerous modern civilian aircraft have a floatplane variant, usually
for light-duty transportation to lakes and other remote areas. Most of
these are offered as third-party modifications under a supplemental
type certificate (STC), although there are several aircraft
manufacturers that build floatplanes from scratch, and a few that
continue to build flying boats. Many older flying boats remain in
service for firefighting duty, and Chalk's Ocean Airways operated a
fleet of Grumman Mallards in passenger service until service was
suspended after a crash on December 19, 2005, which was linked to
maintenance, not to design of the aircraft. Purely water-based
seaplanes have largely been supplanted by amphibious aircraft.
Planes in Vancouver
Seaplanes can only take off and land on water with little or no wave
action and, like other aircraft, have trouble in extreme weather. The
size of waves a given design can withstand depends on, among other
factors, the aircraft's size, hull or float design, and its weight,
all making for a much more unstable aircraft, limiting actual
Flying boats can typically handle rougher water and
are generally more stable than floatplanes while on the water.
Rescue organizations, such as coast guards, are among the largest
modern operators of seaplanes due to their efficiency and their
ability to both spot and rescue survivors. Land-based aircraft cannot
rescue survivors, and many helicopters are limited in their capacity
to carry survivors and in their fuel efficiency compared to fixed-wing
aircraft. (Helicopters may also be fitted with floats to facilitate
their usage on water, though they are not referred to as seaplanes.)
These are even more limited in range.
Water aircraft are also often used in remote areas such as the Alaskan
and Canadian wilderness, especially in areas with a large number of
lakes convenient for takeoff and landing. They may operate on a
charter basis, provide scheduled service, or be operated by residents
of the area for private, personal use. In the Western Hemisphere,
there are numerous seaplane operators in the
Caribbean Sea that offer
service within or between island groups.
List of seaplanes and amphibious aircraft
List of seaplane operators
Ground effect vehicle
Wikimedia Commons has media related to seaplanes.
^ a b c Gunston, "The Cambridge Aerospace Dictionary", 2009.
^ de Saint-Exupery, A. (1940). "Wind, Sand and Stars" p33, Harcourt,
Brace & World, Inc.
^ The Oxford English Dictionary defines "seaplane" as An aeroplane
designed to be able to operate from water; specifically, one with
floats, in contrast to a flying boat.
^ Dictionary definition, "Flying boat"
^ Dictionary definition "Floatplane"
^ Dictionary definition, "Seaplane"
^ a b c d e Flying Boats & Seaplanes: A History from 1905,
Stéphane Nicolaou[page needed]
^ Naughton, Russell.
Henri Fabre (1882–1984)." Monash University
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