Tag Archives: floats

The legendary Beaver

Now I finally have some time to write a new blog-entry.
The thing I was about to do when I wrote my last post was to fly one of the most legendary aircraft out there, the De-Havilland of Canada DHC-2 Beaver.
Originally designed around 1946 they were built to be the workhorse for all the bush pilots up north. They were sturdy, had a huge wing to take the weight and fitted with a 450hp radial engine to get the plane out of even the shortest airfields. But they found their real purpose as seaplanes, fitted with floats. And over the years an uncountable number of modifications turned them into the finest floatplanes ever built, making them still the first choice for seaplaneoperators around the globe, especially where rough terrain and small lakes are an issue.
For years I wanted to fly one of these immortal Beavers. And last Wednesday I finally got to fly one.
All I can say is WOW. What a fantastic airplane. The one I flew got amphibian floats enabling it to land on water and hard surface runways. So when you walk up to them they appear quite massive and kind of intimidating.
Standing next to them the floats reach all the way up to my hips making it a bit challenging to get on top of them. Once up on the floats you got a big door allowing easy access to the spacious rear cabin. The Cockpit door is not as large but still allows for easy access to the pilot’s seat. The cockpit itself also is really spacious with quite a lot of levers and switches.
Getting the big 9-cylinder radial engine running was pretty easy, just pressurize the fuel lines, prime the engine, switch on the boost pump, engage the starter and it’s running in no time with this typical sound only this engine can produce. Taxiing again is a bit tricky as the nose wheels are not steerable and the rudder only has a limited effect at low speeds. So all you got is differential braking which takes some practice to precisely direct the plane. The take off run is shorter than you would expect of an airplane of that size. The 450hp pull the plane into the air within seconds and once airborne you don’t feel anything of the airplanes weight. The controls are unbelievably light, you hardly feel any pressure. Almost like they where hydraulically powered which they are not. It’s incredible. Every plane I’ve flown so far had much higher control loads than the beaver, even the mighty Piper Cub.
On the approach you reduce the power and lower the flaps to 35° which produces a ton of extra lift. On final approach power comes back to idle and when getting close to the surface you flare it to touch the water with the correct pitch attitude. Once decelerating on the water you hold the elevator pulled and wait for the speed to further drop until the plane falls off the step. Then you lower the water rudder to have better directional control on the water. The water rudders are quite big and are quite effective and you can turn the Beaver in tight spots but this time you really can feel the load the water is putting on them.
It really is an amazing airplane and I surely would love to have one myself but unfortunately they are more on the pricy side of the scale and so I only got one hour of flight time in this beautifully maintained 1953 Beaver.
Now I know why all the bush pilots love the Beaver, it’s absolutely marvelous. I can’t wait to fly it again, someday.

Last thing I gotta say is that this article is for entertainment and informational purpose only and does not substitute any formal training.

Beaver Cockpit

Beaver Tail

Beaver Nose

Beaver Nose 2

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Not many news…

to share with you guys. I havent been flying since I came back to Germany in November.
A lot of time is consumed by studying all the stuff I have to know for the written exam for my future european licence. Besides, the german civil aviation authorities are soo slooowww with validating my licence so that I can fly as PIC here.

The only gleam of hope was a five-week trip to Australia in February. Of course we spent a couple of days in Sydney. And, as luck would have it, there is a seaplane base in Sydney. Needless to say I paid the a visit. I talked with the company’s owner for a while and he offered me a flight in his C208 Grand Caravan Amphibian from the seaplane base to an airport close by where the plane is being washed and parked fo the night. It was just a short flight of less than ten minutes but it was a great flight. I got to sit in the copilot’s seat and we fly really low over the Opera house and the Harbour bridge.
That ten minutes were the only cockpit time in the last fife months, so I really need to get flying again. Luckily spring is just around the corner here so there’s a good chance to sit in a plane some time soon again.

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I have not been deedless…

…since I got my CPL in october.

Okay, the first week after my checkride in the Seneca I haven’t done very much. I just needed some days to relax. But at the end of my first week as FAA certified commercial pilot I did something I wanted to do for a long time: I took a ride in a seaplane. And not just a ride; I actually got trained for the multi-engine seaplane add-on for my CPL.
Training aircraft was this STOL Twinbee. Strange looking plane but flies pretty good. Bit heavy on the elevator control but you get used to it. Our first flight wasn’t very spectacular. We took off from one of the hard-surface runways in Flagler, departed to the west and did some airwork. Slow flight, stalls, steep turns, nothing fancy just getting used to the airplanes handling. Back in Flagler we did some touch ‘n’ go’s and practiced some taxiing because it was the first taildragger I’ve ever flown and taxiing around with a Twinbee is everything but easy. But it worked out fairly well so that the next flight could take us out to the lake.
Landing on the water is different but not necessarily more difficult than landing on a hard-surfaced runway (at least that’s how I feel about it). And to make my very first water landing even more challenging there was absolutely no wind that day and the water was like a mirror (so-called glassy water, which has the highest percentage of all seaplane accidents). Looks terrific but makes landing even more interesting. The problem with glassy water is you can’t judge your height above the water just from looking at it. You need a reference point and proper landing technique to touch down safely. But my instructor had decades of seaplane experience, so it wasn’t that big of a deal.
There are other landing techniques for about any water condition someone could think of and the same goes for the take offs.
Additionally (because we were flying a multi-engine aircraft) I had to deal with one engine inoperative. No big difference to land planes there just using the same drills as for the land plane.
The next few days we just practiced take off and landing techniques for glassy water, rough water, and normal conditions; with both engines running and with one inop; idle taxi, step taxi and plow turns; and a cool thing called confined area take off. The advantage of seaplanes is that we don’t have to stick with prepared runways of certain dimensions. Rather we can take the whole lake or river if we need to and if the conditions permit. That allows us to take off in a circular arc if there is not enough space to take off straight ahead. It’s a lot of fun.
Then, after three od four days of training I had my checkride with Jon Brown, owner of the well-known Jack Brown’s Seaplane base and long-time friend of my instructor.
Checkride was no big problem and I enjoyed flying with a man whose name is known by virtually every seaplane pilot.
But that was not the last thing I did flying wise. So far I had only the multi-engine land and sea rating on my commercial. The single-engine rating was only good for my private pilot licence. So it was about time to change that. The next day after my seaplane cheride I started training for the SEL commercial add-on. Not a whole lot of things to do. Just a few new maneuvers I had to learn but nothing really complicated. It took me about four days to get them in and checkride wasn’t even one hour. Pretty easy after all the multi-engine flying. In consequence that left just one thing missing: the singl-engine seaplane rating.
It doesn quite make sense to get first the multi-engine seaplane rating and then go for the single-engine. But so far I could do everything in Flagler. Just for the SES rating I had to go somewhere else which made it easier to put that at the end.
For the SES rating I took the opportunity to do that at no other place than Jack Brown’s Seaplanebase.
They are the oldest and best known seaplane training facility in the United States so I had sort of no other choice than to train with them. And I don’t regret it at all.
They use old Piper J-3 Cub on Aqua 1500 straight floats for their training. The planes have no electric system what so ever. Only electricity on board is a little 9V battery for the intercom. And maybe the cell phone in your pocket. Everything else is mechanic. No electric instruments, no gyros, no GPS, no radios no generator and, most important, no starter!! That means you have to hand prop it (the instructors do that for you). Only instruments are a tachometer, two other engine instruments, airspeed indicator, altimeter and a magnetic compass. That’s it. That’s all you get, and that’s all you really need. It’s the pure joy of flying. The famous stick and rudder experience of a Piper Cub. Flying the Cub on float was the best experience I’ve ever had, it was heck of a lot of fun. I never understood what people meant when they were talking about the Cub. Now I know. Unfortunately, the course only includes 5 hours of training even though I would have loved to fly more. It’s been only three days since I had my checkride in it and I already miss the cute little yellow plane. That was the first but definitely not the last time I flew a Cub.
Because I already had the MES rating I wasn’t totally new to the principles of water flying (there are not that much differences between single and multi engine seaplanes. They all follow the same principles, just how you fly them is a bit different) and therefore I could enjoy the flying more than I could have if it would have been my first time in a seaplane.
To fly such a great plane and an icon of aviation history was truly the dessert after all the work (even though most of it was fun, it still was really hard work sometimes) I’ve done during the last five months.
Hope to get back there soon to get more time in that great aviation classic.

seaplanebase

CUB_1

CUB_2

CUB_3

seaplanebase and CUB

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