Becoming a Float Pilot

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jmd51
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Becoming a Float Pilot

#1 Post by jmd51 » Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:10 pm

So I just got my ppl. I want to ultimately work for Harbour air in vancouver and I know they dont even look at you until you have about 3000 hours on floats. Now my question is, should I do the rest of my flight training to get my CPL on floats or continue to do my CPL on a 172 and then get the 50 hour float rating? What would be the benifits of both? I was thinking since I want to do floats for a living I should go up to Kelowna and start the CPL training at Air Hart to start building time on floats, but my CFO at my school said it wouldnt be much of a difference to do so since you are still just going to be doing the air exercises and flying straight and level on your cross countrys so you are not really learning how to be a real float pilot. Im not sure what step to take next. I know I want a multi engine and IFR rating as well since YVR and Vancouver harbour have instrument approaches for their waterdromes. So I just need some advice, what should I do next to get where I want to be in the future?
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#2 Post by Colonel Sanders » Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:23 pm

3000 hours on floats
Holy crap, that's a lot of time.

I know there will be howls of outrage here, but
what I would do in your shoes, to become a career
floatplane pilot, is purchase a tube-and-fabric airplane
on straight floats, and fly the pants off it, then sell it.

Obviously this is not the best time of the year to
start float flying, but it might be a good time of
year to buy a tube & fabric floatplane and work
on it over the winter to have it ready for spring.

And, in the summer of 2014, try to fly 500 hours
on it :wink:

Again, people here will disagree with me, but for
someone in your shoes, it really doesn't matter
what type you fly. People here will tell you that
you need to only fly a Beaver or 185 or 206 but
they're really expensive.
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#3 Post by PilotDAR » Fri Oct 25, 2013 6:49 pm

The colonel is right, buy a floating "stepping stone" plane.

If you're aiming to fly floats, then fly floats. Yes, you might be flying a floatplane on a cross country, but that's still better than flying a wheelplane, if you're trying to build float experience.

To be an experienced floatplane pilot, you need to think like a float pilot. You will hone your think like a float pilot skills a lot faster if you're flying a floatplane. While flying a floatplane, you're instinctively (or should be) thinking floats. You're noticing the winds on the water of each lake you fly over, you're seeing the lee spots in which one might think to land, and you're looking for obstructions and hazards in bodies of water. Flying on wheels, you should probably be avoiding some of those places.

Take advice from a landplane instructor, with respect to float training, with a grain of salt...
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#4 Post by North Shore » Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:24 pm

Colonel speaks the truth.
Spend this winter busting your ass at work to save money, and studying for the commercial written. Start looking for a decent plane, too. Next spring, as soon as you are able, start splashing around. Save your final 20-40 hours of build-up and XC for a trip across the country to hand out resumes. ($5 says that if you were to show up at most float operations in your own T-Craft or Cub, and hand out a resume, they'd hire you...)

Save your money on the M/IFR until you're at ~1000hrs - you'll find it a damn sight easier than at 200h. Also, it gives you a little time to save for it...

Good Luck!
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#5 Post by jmd51 » Sat Oct 26, 2013 3:03 am

Hi everyone thanks for the advice. Just a thought, why would I buy my own float plane now and fly it now since I've never even stepped foot in a floatplane. Dont I have to learn how to fly it first? Are you guys saying to get my float rating first and then purchase? I dont think the purchasing option is very likely at this time since I am just a student whos already broke. Like I was saying, wouldnt it be better to just start my CPL on floats now and get the hours while im also training? Not sure how to go about this. Any other advice is appreciated.
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#6 Post by Colonel Sanders » Sat Oct 26, 2013 4:29 am

I am just a student whos already broke
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=92365

If you have no money, how are you going to pay for
your CPL? Multi? IFR? All that float time?

My point was that if you bought the right airplane, then
sold it for what you paid for it after you flew it, your
hours would actually cost you very little, compared to
running the meter at an FTU.
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#7 Post by Changes in Latitudes » Sat Oct 26, 2013 5:44 am

Don't build "excuse walls" for yourself this early in the game. Somehow you believe you are going to finance a CPL on floats, then a multi-ifr (that you do not even need at this point). I bet you could find another solid CPL-float candidate and go in on an airplane if you really wanted to make it happen. Keep in mind these flight schools charge a hell of a premium to fly their airplanes, and I am guessing if its on floats that premium will sting even more.

I'll admit, with a fresh private license, it looks daunting; and it's supposed to.
The people above, offering free advice, made it happen at one point in their careers while other people were building their "excuse empires". There's a very clear line between passion and interest in this industry.
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#8 Post by Colonel Sanders » Sat Oct 26, 2013 5:50 am

Hint: homebuilt time and owner maintenance hours
count straight up as compared to certified aircraft. Think
about that.

I could park three identical airplanes next to each other,
and with a magnifying glass you wouldn't be able to tell
which was certified, homebuilt or owner maintenance,
if I taped the data plates over.
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#9 Post by Bede » Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:47 am

To the OP,

I agree with Col. except I would go splits on a float plane with someone else. I would do your CPL on floats and keep flying it until you get a float job, then build time getting paid to fly.

10 years ago I bought a homebuilt float plane for $20k. It was pretty old, but the fabric was still OK. I did some work on and sold it for $25k (pretty much broke even). In the mean time I flew it as much as I could.
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#10 Post by dirtysidedown » Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:59 am

Where are the best places to look to purchase tube and fabric A/Cs or for people who'd like to do a group buy? I am in the need of building my hrs and training towards my CPL, but would like to find cheaper methods...
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#11 Post by Colonel Sanders » Sat Oct 26, 2013 8:32 am

From cheapest to more expensive:

barnstormers
copa
trade-a-plane
10 years ago I bought a homebuilt float plane for $20k
Bede is too modest to mention it (but I suffer from
no such constraints) ... he now flies for a major airline
in Canada (and has been for a number of years).

My point being that the float route is a good one. I
would wager a large sum of money that he will never,
ever fly a 777 into a breakwall at SFO regardless of
what pranks ATC and the airport operator play.

Another friend of mine, about 30 years ago, he bought a
float plane and spent a summer flying the pants off it
and sold it for what he paid. He's been flying at AC a
long time now, but he had quite a strange journey. Flew
a Navajo. Worked at an old age home for years, during
the bad times. But he never gave up, and it worked out
for him.
$5 says that if you were to show up at most float operations in your own T-Craft or Cub, and hand out a resume, they'd hire you
I'd bet a lot more than $5 on that :wink:
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#12 Post by iflyforpie » Sat Oct 26, 2013 8:59 am

Yep, you pretty much can't go wrong with buying your own plane for training.... provided you can purchase it or finance it without breaking yourself; not get stuck with an overhaul, crash, or major work between when you buy it and sell it (pre purchase inspection is a must); and have easy and cheap access to docking/beaching facilities.


Like the $1000 car or the $5000 4x4 truck.... most planes like a tube and fabric one have already done all of their depreciating..... a much better place to park some money rather than a car that will lose half of that as soon as you drive it off the lot.... or education which is never wasted money but cannot be resold. A plane you put 500 hours on might lose a couple thousand because of the overhaul times..... if you only put 50 hours on it the value won't change.

I sure wish I would have done that instead of paying through the nose for my float hours..... but I think I am going to keep float flying for fun in my retirement.
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#13 Post by Colonel Sanders » Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:23 am

I might humbly opine that a summer spent flying 500
hours on a tube & fabric floatplane - IFF you can do
it without crashing - will build judgement and stick and
rudder skills that will separate you from the herd, and
will last you a lifetime.

And you can do it remarkably economically, IFF you
choose the right one (good engine, good fabric, good
floats). All it will end up costing you is 500 hrs worth
of mogas for a little 4 cyl engine, and a few oil changes,
and a new set of spark plugs. Pennies, compared to
what an FTU will charge.

IMHO, but keep in mind that a lot of people think I'm
pretty stupid compared to them.
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#14 Post by dahspeers » Sat Oct 26, 2013 10:41 am

If I could do it all again, I'd be buying the cheapest thing on floats I could.
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#15 Post by Colonel Sanders » Sat Oct 26, 2013 10:49 am

cheapest thing on floats
I might humbly recommend:

- Lyc O-235 or TCM O-200 (or variant). Beware
that the TCM is more likely to build carb ice! Many
people have learned painful lessons about carb ice
on floats.

- ok fabric. The paint does not have to be perfect.
Learn to repair fabric paint (cracked / peeled / missing)
which is not difficult or expensive, and is elementary
work on even certified aircraft

- tight floats - no leaks

- no corrosion on fuselage tubing - check aft lower
longerons, for example. Salt water is a whole different
ballgame than fresh water.
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#16 Post by LousyFisherman » Sun Oct 27, 2013 12:06 pm

Guys, no-one will give you reasonably priced insurance on a private float plane for a pilot with less than 50 hours. If I am wrong please tell me where because I will be there tomorrow. For straight liability, no hull, insurance I was quoted 10K. That's what it will cost me for 50 hours.

To the OP, I just got my rating in Kelowna, go immediately. See if you can get your rating this year. Apart from 7 hours you will meet a bunch of smart young bucks and SYTs that are doing the same thing you are "thinking about". Many of them from overseas. Of course, to me, the owner, and the instructors are all young bucks :)

Anyone got a float plane they want flown? I don't even need PIC, just 50 hours. I do have a 150 and I am will to travel. I am willing to pay off season rates to commercial pilots.with planes.
I have just recently become a true 200 hour wonder and I have 0.9 PIC and 6.1 dual hours of float time :)

I believe the most important thing I learned is that:
A smidgeon/shade/slightly high is not good but is acceptable.
A smidgeon/shade/slightly low makes the person in the right seat very nervous, very quickly :smt040

YMMV
LF
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#17 Post by Taiser » Thu Oct 31, 2013 11:14 am

reasonably priced insurance on a private float plane for a pilot with less than 50 hours. If I am wrong please tell me where because I will be there tomorrow.
:shock:

Dunno where you got your quote from. Are you sure that's for liability only??? My homebuilt (almost done) for straight liability is quoted at just over $650.00. I checked for amphibs (putting them on later on) and it's not that much more.

If your not getting "in motion" coverage then why would the insurance company care if it's on floats? I've got around a whopping 100 hours on a PPL so your cost should be close to mine, certainly not 10k! Might be a different world on a certified plane though, but not high like that? Maybe I'm missing something on my quote... :?
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#18 Post by I_Heart_Seaplanes » Thu Oct 31, 2013 2:01 pm

Just to clear up some points in the OP.

- Last year HA was asking 1500 TT, 1000 floats, 500 on type for the Beaver.

- The other way into HA is right seat in the Twin Otter, which you can get with 250TT, a basic float and multi rating. But they haven't upgraded from FO to Beaver in years, due to no PIC time.

- The instrument approaches in Vancouver Harbour, Victoria Harbour are for the helicopters. So an IFR is not necessary to fly at HA, but it might make flying at 300' and 2SM a little more comfortable.

- If you do your CPL on floats, make sure your instructor has a CURRENT instructor rating. Instructor ratings are not required to give float rating, and you'll find most either don't have one, or its not current.

and like most have suggested, buy your own float plane, do all your CPL time building in it and then sell it. I wish I had done it that way.
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#19 Post by cessnafloatflyer » Fri Nov 01, 2013 8:07 am

Ok, depending on where you live you can get in touch with local pilots who have floatplanes -- go to the float base or that side of the River or Airport, meet them, wash their planes make friends with them and then if they seem to be good, experienced pilots, then go for a flight or two with them. Then before you embark on buying a plane that will need maintenance and all sorts of financial issues that the average newly minted PPL doesn't know much about, get a seaplane rating. Talk to those in the industry and see what the lifestyle actually is, chat with a Harbour Air pilot, talk to guys who did their time up North and see if it's for you. Learn about pay, living conditions, how easy or hard it is to get the job that you want. Do the real research before you spend much money and see if it's really for you.

I will tell you this, I am in the business and we all know that there isn't much money to be made, so before you consider buying an airplane to build time when you have little to begin with (a sure recipe of not getting it done in my opinion due to maintenance costs that can at times be big, especially when you're a rookie) do 50 hours with a really experienced instructor, learn how to operate a floatplane efficiently, build a 'tool box' of techniques, learn how to navigate down low and in weather as well as what you need to know to get things done (too big to list here) then consider building hours in a shared aircraft that you own with a real plan of where you want to go and what you intend on accomplishing. Remember, much of Canada is frozen 5 months of the year. Lastly get the syllabus of the school you intend on learning from, meet your experienced instructor and find out what they intend on teaching you and where they will do it, that is how varied it will be.

lastly, try it, before you buy it -- the plane, the training, the lifestyle etc... you are a new PPL with 0 float time. DO some research. I love it! But it's not for everyone; neither are the airlines for the matter.

Good luck!
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#20 Post by angry inch » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:46 am

I included a Seaplane Rating & training in my CPL and rented a c-172 floatplane to time build for the 200hr CPL requirement & ended up with 40-50 hrs (been a while, can't remember exactly) of float time by the time I reached the 200 hr TT mark... That could position you to get an entry level Seaplane job with a fresh CPL.
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#21 Post by ragbagflyer » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:09 am

Buying a small floatplane to build time on isn't quite as simple as the Colonel suggests. That's not to say it can't be done; it certainly can but the obstacles and costs are more then many people make out. You need to be prepared to deal with unexpected significant maintenance items. Will you have five or ten grand extra to drop into it at any given point? That's after buying the thing and putting every cent you have into routine maintenance and fuel.

500 hours of recreational flying in a season is next to impossible, and should you somehow have that much time and money to dedicate to flying your machine that much it would become extremely tedious. I've done a lot of 500 hr float seasons (for work) and I can guarantee you that volume of flying is all consuming. It means working all day every day.

If you want to fly floats just go get a job flying floats. You'll probably have to go work in Northern Ontario so you might as well just accept it and get on with it. Don't buy into that 50 hr bullshit gospel either.

Harbour Air is a very successful and professional operation. They've perfected minimizing the risk of float flying. Unfortunately, when company procedures are coupled with the already tightly regulated lower mainland/Victoria airspace procedures that means all the freedom and a lot of the challenges and decision making that make float flying so rewarding and fun are gone. I can't over emphasize this point. Keep that in mind, and if you still want to end up there, don't be in a big rush. Enjoy the journey there because once you are at Harbour Air it doesn't really pay to leave and come back if you're trying to maximize your salary, and get the schedule and base of your choice.
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#22 Post by PilotDAR » Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:31 am

Cessna and ragbag have offered very good advice.

That first 50 hours of float time is all important in terms of rounding out your knowledge. It is impossible during the basic float rating to train all of those aspects of judgement and decision making which are called upon when you're by yourself, and deciding to land on a remote lake.

Remind yourself (as the insurers already know) that if you're landing on the water, there's a better than 99% chance you're doing it at a place other than an aerodrome. There are a lot of observations to be considered in the context of the present conditions, and decisions made. The landing site is not offering you the "normal" information, which you have come to expect around an airport. Getting it wrong will leave you stranded away from help, with a very expensive job to remove a damaged plane. They insurers know that they will be on the hook, not only for the cost of a hull insured plane, but the cost to remove it, which could be twice the hull value - and that presumes no one was hurt.

Despite a fresh float pilot's eagerness to fly, really, a dozen hours of carefully observing from right seat will really be a benefit. New pilots might be able to buy their way into a "fishing trip" where owners often venture to remote areas. One or two of those trips can be very educational!

I did some floatplane mentoring flying a few weeks back, with a pilot who actually did his initial PPL on floats. He was supposed to be flying to build his skills, but he kept asking me to demonstrate what I was describing. When I did, he could then repeat the same thing very well, having seen how I did it.
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#23 Post by CB1100F » Sat Nov 09, 2013 11:14 am

I bought experimental small two place plane for myself, if there is no one to help you how to pick plane, ferrying plane, finding right insurance, finding place to park.it is hard. For sure if you can make it, this would be great asset for your experience. I flown my mini plane after work 3-4 days a week. I think I build 150 hr/summer, 4 gallons /hr $1.80 fuel, plus insurance. It seems lot cheaper..but if people have a hard time getting money for licence..I think this would be tough choice for them. But I would do same thing again what I did. Especially getting to know other home build plane owner was fun to chat with.
I sold my plane few years back and miss it.
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Re: Becoming a Float Pilot

#24 Post by CB1100F » Tue Nov 12, 2013 5:48 am

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