Now that summer is here, seaplane operations are in full swing. If you are looking to trade wheels for floats, not only will you need to add water take-off and landing skills to your aviation repertoire, but you will also need to familiarize yourself with additional regulations that govern the water landing sites you will be visiting.
As pilots, we all know that the Federal Aviation Regulations (“FARs”) govern our operation of aircraft. The FARs also regulate most land-based airports. However, that isn’t the case with water landing areas. The regulations that govern a water landing area are created and enforced by the governmental body or agency that controls that particular water landing area. The controlling agency may be the government (e.g. federal state, county, city, municipality, or township) or a private party, depending upon the body of water.
What does this mean for a seaplane pilot? Well, as the pilot-in-command and operator of your aircraft, you will be responsible for complying with the regulations that are applicable to your chosen water landing area. That means you will need to determine what agency governs and what regulations, if any, the agency has set for seaplane operations. Given the various agencies, that could be quite a task.
Fortunately, the Seaplane Pilots Association (“SPA”)and its members have already done much of this legwork and compiled the information in their “Water Landing Directory.” You can order a copy from the SPA on their website. The cost is $25.00 for SPA members and $50.00 for non-members. Although a prudent seaplane pilot will always confirm the applicable information prior to a flight, the “Water Landing Directory” certainly makes that task easier and more efficient.