A Rap on Water Flying

By:      Norm Goyer

The tiny two-cylinder Aeronca C-3 provided my very first seaplane ride.

The tiny two-cylinder Aeronca C-3 provided my very first seaplane ride.

I love to fly seaplanes. I love flying boats, airplanes with pontoons or floats and those with the added bonus of wheels, they’re called amphibians. What’s an amphibian? A creature who lives in the water and on the land. I guess a frog is an amphibian, at least some are. My ancestors come from France and French Quebec. Growing up during the depression in New England all nationalities had nicknames, French people were called “Frogs.” Why? I haven’t the slightest idea, but it probably answers the questions of why I like water flying.

My second seaplane ride was in a Beechcraft D-17 Staggerwing.

My second seaplane ride was in a Beechcraft D-17 Staggerwing.

Before World War II I would haunt the small seaplane base at the foot of the Calvin Coolidge Bridge in Northampton, Massachusetts. I would sit on the river bank, next to my Iver Johnson bicycle, and hope that some friendly pilot would feel sorry for the kid on the bank and give him a ride. I believe that I was the first to carry a sign that stated, “Will work for a ride.” Finally “truth in advertising” paid off and a kindly gentlemen gave me a ride in an Aeronca C-3 on tiny EDO floats. The Connecticut River is the home of many boats, even in 1939, there were a lot of watercraft churning up the water. The pilot, a professor at one of the local colleges, guided the tiny plane under the bridge turned it around and headed into the East wind. This was not an STOL float plane, in fact it took a long time to get it on the step with its little two cylinder Aeronca engine banging away up front. But fly it did, and I was off on the first of many seaplane adventures. Labor Day was a big success for me, thanks to a generous owner of a Staggerwing Beech on floats. What a difference between the little 37 hp C-3 and big radial engine powered D-17. I was hooked on water flying.

I added a seaplane rating to my certificate with a check ride in a Piper J-3, 65-hp.

I added a seaplane rating to my certificate with a check ride in a Piper J-3, 65-hp.

After the Navy sprung me to the Inactive Reserves I made it official, I added a water rating to my ticket. I took a few seaplane lessons in New Hampshire and passed the check ride in Concord, NH, on a little pond adjacent to the Concord Airport. The 65-hp J-3 was a rocket ship compared to the 50-hp Cub I had been flying. I returned home with a fresh new rating in my pocket, I was officially a seaplane pilot. I celebrated by buying part interest in a 1947 Taylorcraft on EDO floats based at the same little dock where I had had my first float plane ride. My future wife Tina was still in college in Lowell, Massachusetts which was located on the Merrimac River with an adjoining sea plane base. Every weekend during the summer I would travel to Lowell via my T’craft. The J-3 was a fun seaplane, but the T’craft was a useful one, It could cruise around 90 mph compared to 65-70 with the Cub on floats. Its water handling was superior to the Cub as well.

I owned part interest in a 1947 Taylorcraft 65-hp float plane, it was a very nice aircraft.

I owned part interest in a 1947 Taylorcraft 65-hp float plane, it was a very nice aircraft.

One of my flying friends, the late Roger Atwood, owned a Sea Bee and an early Super Cub on EDOs. Then he acquired a 150-hp Colonial Skimmer, the grand daddy of the Lake Amphibian. Another friend had a float equipped Cessna 180 and his friend had a Cessna 195 on EDOs, now that was a piece of machinery. I flew copilot many times wth Roger on trips to Canada carrying a fisherman or a hunter. Of course in New England, there is no shortage of water for seaplane operations.

What did I learn about flying seaplanes? They could be dangerous in unknown waters, an accident in an out of the way location could make it super difficult to repair your aircraft or retrieve it. When the ice arrived, you had to convert back to wheels, which was a bit labor intensive and expensive, unless you had an repair certificate. You also had to learn to read the wind from other than the radio or windsocks; smoke, clotheslines and horse’s tails became very important wind indictors.

After I relocated to California I rediscovered water flying in aircraft far different from what I had been flying. I found that a simple ultralight, such as a Drifter or Hawk, or even a Quicksilver, could be a real blast to fly, talk about being part of the environment. You were in the open, sitting on tiny plastic seat with your butt about a foot from dragging in the water. In all my flying, I still believe that a good ultralight on floats is about the most “real” flying fun a pilot can experience.

My last two seaplanes were both 200-hp Lake Amphibians. Trips to the Salton Sea and Lake Mead, above the Hoover Dam, were routine summer fun trips. Son Robert and friend Sparky both received their seaplane ratings in a Piper J-3 at Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base in Winter Haven Florida while attending Sun ‘n Fun. Consider this option, when it is time for your Flight Review, get your water rating, you will never regret it, it is just plain fun.

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Lake Amphibians, Skimmer, Buccaneer and Renegade

By: Norm Goyer

The Skimmer produced by the Colonial Company was the first "Lake" to become available. Note the nose tire used as a bumper.

The Skimmer produced by the Colonial Company was the first "Lake" to become available. Note the nose tire used as a bumper.

In 1946 two former Grumman engineers, David Thurston and Herbert Lindbad, designed the Skimmer for the Colonial Aircraft Corporation. The two men had both worked on the famous Grumman Goose and the Widgeon. The Goose was larger with two radial engines, while the Skimmer was smaller with two Ranger inverted inline engines. A limited number of Skimmers were built during the 1950 decades. The name was changed in 1959 to Lake Aircraft and the company produced the 180-hp LA-4 amphibian. The company also offered the Lake with a removable beaching landing gear. This allowed a larger payload by eliminating the weight of the landing gear system. The Lake engineers got serious in 1970 when they upped the horsepower to 200-hp with a Lycoming fuel-injected pusher engine. The new plane was called the Buccaneer. Performance was improved with the larger engine, but the improvements also greatly increased the price tag. One of the problems with the Lake was the small capacity fuel load of only 40 gallons for a 200-hp engine, the range was unacceptable until a clever engineer decided to make the two wing tip floats auxiliary fuel tanks, upping the fuel to 40 gallons plus 15 in both float tanks. Fifty five gallons isn’t outstanding but it did offer more range for the 200hp Lycoming. The new Buccaneer 200-hp could cruise 12 mph faster and increased the top speed by 15 mph. Any amphibian has extra drag, thus are not as fast as land based aircraft. The gross weight was also increased by 200 pounds. But the economic downturn was on the horizon for all aviation and hit the recreational aircraft the hardest.

Drop the landing gear and taxi up on the beach, hard to find more fun than this.

Drop the landing gear and taxi up on the beach, hard to find more fun than this.

The rough economy of the 1980s was felt very hard by the Lake Company. They decided to try various engines, to see if they could breathe a little new life into their design. In 1984 a 250-hp Lycoming was installed in the Buccaneer to became the LA-250 Renegade. The company also made some very modest changes in the size of some components. The Renegade could now seat six persons, was able to haul a higher payload. The range was increased with the new 90 gallon tanks feeding the more powerful 250-hp engine. The year 1987 saw the addition of a turbo charger on its Lycoming TIO-540-AA1AB engine. The ceiling was increased to almost 24,000 feet. At the same time the 200-hp Buccaneer was dropped from the production line. The new models were marketed under the name Sea Fury. The Sea Fury also had improvements in corrosion protection for operation in salt water. There were also two military variants, the Sea Wolfe and Ranger, which use 290 hp engines and feature hardpoints for mounting ordnance.

This is an identical model to one of the two Lakes that I owned in the 1970s.

This is an identical model to one of the two Lakes that I owned in the 1970s.

About seven or eight years ago I met with the then current owner of the Lake certificate in Florida and flew the Sea Wolfe. It was very sluggish compared to the two Buccaneers that I had owned. It was not that much fun to fly. A few years later this person defaulted his payment and the original owners reclaimed the tooling and certificates. At the moment America’s last certified flying boat is in limbo. An expensive wing spar reinforcement was mandated by the FAA several years ago and that also had a negative effect on all Lake sales, new and used. Bottom line: you don’t screw with success, they should have left the 200-hp Buccaneer as is.

The Buccaneer 200 sits low in the water; prepare to get wet when the water is rough.

The Buccaneer 200 sits low in the water; prepare to get wet when the water is rough.

Specifications: Lake 200-hp Buccaneer LA-4
• Crew: 1
• Capacity: 3 passengers
• Length: 24 ft 11 in
• Wingspan: 38 ft 0 in
• Height: 9 ft 4 in
• Wing area: 170 ft²
• Empty weight: 1555 lb
• Gross weight: 2690 lb
• Engine: Avco Lycoming IO-360-B1A piston engine, 200 hp (149 kW)
Performance
• Cruise speed: 150 mph
• Range: 825 miles
• Service ceiling: 14,700 ft

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Aircraft of the Week


1

Jets

1988 BEECHJET 2008 CESSNA CITATION 1983 CESSNA CITATION
1987 CESSNA CITATION 1975 FALCON 1 2011 PHENOM 1
2011 PHENOM 1 2009 PHENOM 1 2011 PHENOM 3
1978 GULFSTREAM IISP 2000 GULFSTREAM G200 1968 GULFSTREAM II
1985 HAWKER 800A 1971 HAWKER 125-400 1985 HAWKER 800
1976 LEARJET 24E 2002 HAWKER 800XP 1969 LEARJET 24B
1979 LEARJET 35A 1981 LEARJET 25D 1972 LEARJET 25DXR



1983 WESTWIND



1978 LEARJET 35A



1982 DIAMOND

Turboprops

1990 JETSTREAM 1970 KING AIR 1980 KING AIR
1985 CARAVAN 1985 CARAVAN 1982 CHEYENNE
1977 PIPER CHEYENNE 1975 CHEYENNE 1981 PIPER CHEYENNE
1990 CHEYENNE 1990 CHEYENNE 2001 MERIDIAN

Piston Single-Engine

1980 CESSNA 182Q 1979 MOONEY M20K 231 2001 PIPER ARCHER
1999 PIPER SARATOGA
Piston Multi-Engine
1970 58 BARON 1980 58P BARON 1978 60 DUKE
1968 CESSNA 402 1977 CESSNA 414 RAM 1972 CESSNA 421B



1979 CESSNA 421C



1977 CESSNA T310R



2007 DA42 TWINSTAR
2006 PIPER SENECA V 1997 PIPER SENECA V

Helicopters

2000 AGUSTA A109E Po 1978 BELL 206BIII

List a single aircraft or your entire inventory on www.ACMP.com and be included in the weekly FlyBy at no extra charge.  Attract the attention of 60,000 aviation consumers and high wealth
individuals.  Contact Doug Stewart at (888) 723-1717 or doug@acmp.com for full details.

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World War II Aviation Family Tree

By:      Norm Goyer

The Grumman F3F biplane was the inspiration for the F4F Wildcat. Notice similar fuselage shape and landing gear.

The Grumman F3F biplane was the inspiration for the F4F Wildcat. Notice similar fuselage shape and landing gear.

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor they created one of the greatest tool up in aviation history. The United States was literally stuck with aircraft which were already obsolete with no new designs ready for production. America has always been able to recover in a very short time and the lack of new designs in 1941 only slowed down our country for about 12 months, then the whole world knew what we Americans are capable of when someone makes the dumb mistake of trying to trip us up. But, you’d think we would have learned from Pearl Harbor, not quite. When we sent our first jet fighter aircraft into Korea we found out the hard way that they were not capable of going one on one with the modern swept wing Russian supplied North Korean fighters.

The Curtiss P-36 was the forerunner of the P-40. Note the radial engine of the P-36.

The Curtiss P-36 was the forerunner of the P-40. Note the radial engine of the P-36.

The US Navy was hit the hardest in the after days of Pearl Harbor. Not only did the Navy lose much of the Pacific Fleet they also lost a large number of aircraft on the ground at Ford Island. Our Grumman F4F Wildcat was a sturdy weapon, but again, no match for the superior Zero. The Wildcat was another aircraft that was built in a hurry using elements from Grumman’s past Navy aircraft production. The Navy, before Pearl Harbor, was fixated on biplanes, with lots of bracing wire and struts. Then Brewster introduced the Buffalo, an all metal monoplane that was a dog, a real arf arf dog. Grumman seeing the possibility of their lucrative contracts going to rival Brewster, because their entry was a monoplane, quickly scrapped their new fighter on the boards which was, you guessed it another biplane. Not having the time for a ground up design, the Wildcat was pretty much a midwing monoplane with the belly and landing gear of their F3F biplane series, a real fine airplane, but, it belonged to another decade. So the latest Grumman F3F biplane was redesigned and became the Wildcat. Then Grumman built the next Navy fighter the right way. The F6F Hellcat was everything the Wildcat was not. Add the Vought Corsair F4U series and the Navy was ready to kick butt, and they did.

The Republic P-43 Lancer was the stepping stone aircraft for the great P-47 Thunderbolt.

The Republic P-43 Lancer was the stepping stone aircraft for the great P-47 Thunderbolt.

The Navy wasn’t as lucky with their new dive bomber designs. At that time the Navy had the very good Douglas SBD dive bomber, but it was slow and took just too long to launch and get to the site of the enemy who needed a little adjustment, like down the smokestacks in the guise of a 500 pound bomb. Curtiss was awarded a contract to redesign their current SBC-4 dive bomber biplane version into the new SBC2C monoplane. Curtiss, already behind deadline, used many elements of their dive bomber biplane when designing the new monoplane. It didn’t work, the new Helldiver seemed bent on self destruction. It literally took years to get the bugs out of the new aircraft, leaving the Navy stuck with their obsolete Douglas SBD dive bomber. It is fortunate that the pilots and crew of  Dauntless did an outstanding job of destroying Japanese carriers, shipping and troop transports in the South Pacific. As the new Curtiss Helldivers began arriving in numbers, the war weary SBDs were retired to training squadrons.

When the trouble prone SB2C was finally accepted they rapidly replaced the aging Douglas SBD Dauntless.

When the trouble prone SB2C was finally accepted they rapidly replaced the aging Douglas SBD Dauntless.

Several of the Army Air Force front line fighters were also the result of redesigning an existing aircraft. For instance, the Curtiss P-40 series was a direct development of the Curtiss P-36 radial engine fighter, almost identical with the exception of an inline Allison replacing the round radial.  One of the most potent fighters of the conflict was the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. Its climb to fame is the result of modifying and improving the 1935 Seversky P-35, then the Republic P-43 Lancer and finally the P-47. The North American P-51 was a clean-piece-of-paper design. It was designed as the Mustang with the only changes in the canopy and a switch from Allison to Packard Merlins. The Lockheed P-38 was another new design that seemed almost perfect from the start. Engineers did spend many hours attempting to improve an engine-out control problem by installing every combination of right and left hand turning engines. The potent Douglas A-26 started out as a much smaller Douglas Boston, which was enlarged to become the Invader then into the B-26 as used in Vietnam, basically the same airframe.

England used the deHavilland Comet racer as the basis for the all wood Mosquito bomber and embodied many of the design elements found in the Supermarine Schneider Cup winning aircraft into the famous Spitfire. Early Russian fighter designers are thought to have used the Gee Bee racer as their inspiration for their Spanish war Polikarov. Historians also tell us to compare the lines of the Zero with the Vultee fighter of the same era. Is this true? I don’t have the faintest idea, but it does make interesting comparisons.

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DeHavilland F-88 Comet

By:      Norm Goyer

DeHavilland produced a total of five D-88 Comets. This is a restored original.

DeHavilland produced a total of five D-88 Comets. This is a restored original.

The British aviation community received a good boost with the Supermarine S-6 winning the long running Schneider Cup Trophy. There was a huge depression slowing down the commerce of the world and England thought, and rightfully so, that air racing, and winning, was a great form of promotion. The upcoming race, which caught the eye of the British aviation industry, was the newly announced MacRobertson 11,000 mile event from Mildenhall, England to Melbourne, Australia. The problem was that no single British aircraft currently flying was capable of making the trip in record winning time. The de Havilland company accepted the challenge by offering to produce a limited run of 200 mph racers, if three were ordered, by February 1934. The sale price of £5,000 each would by no means cover the development costs. In 1935, de Havilland suggested a high-speed bomber version of the DH.88 to the RAF, but the suggestion was rejected. (de Havilland later developed the de Havilland Mosquito along similar lines as the DH.88 as a high-speed fighter/bomber.

The race course had these required landing airports.

The race course had these required landing airports.

DeHavilland did receive the needed three orders and started to produce the Comet. The interior structure consisted of a wooden frame covered with spruce plywood, then covered with fabric. A long streamlined nose held the main fuel tanks. The two cockpits were set low in the central portion of the fuselage which formed an unbroken line to the tail. The engines were essentially standard Gipsy Six used on the Express and Dragon Rapide passenger planes, tuned for best performance but with a higher compression ratio. The propellers were two-position variable pitch, manually set to fine before takeoff and changed automatically to coarse by a pressure sensor. The main landing gear retracted upwards and backwards into the engine nacelles. The DH.88 could maintain altitude up to 4,000 ft on one engine.

This is the original winning Comet on display at the British Shuttleworth Museum.

This is the original winning Comet on display at the British Shuttleworth Museum.

De Havilland managed to meet the tight schedule and flight testing of the DH.88 began six weeks before the start date of the race. Three distinctively colored Comets took their places among 17 other entrants ranging from a new Douglas DC-2 airliner to two converted Fairey Fox bombers.

The first take off was at 6.30 a.m. on October 20 with Jim and Amy Mollison at the controls of their own G-ACSP Black Magic. They made a faultless journey to Baghdad, and reached Karachi at around 10 a.m. on the second race day, setting a new England-India record. Problems began for the Mollisons when their landing gear failed to retract, and after returning Karachi for repairs they were again delayed by an inability to navigate at night.

The very familiar bright red G-ACSS was the property of Mr. A.O. Edwards and was named “Grosvenor House” after the hotel which he managed. The plane was flown by Charles W. Scott and Tom Campbell Black. When the Mollisons ran into problems at Karachi, C.W.A. Scott & Tom Campbell Black took over the lead and were first into Allahabad. Despite a severe storm over the Bay of Bengal, they reached Singapore safely, 8 hours ahead of the DC-2.

The Comet used two de Havilland Gypsy Six engines with increased compression.

The Comet used two de Havilland Gypsy Six engines with increased compression.

The bright red Comet took off for Darwin, but over the Timor Sea lost power in the port engine when the oil pressure dropped to zero. Repairs at Darwin got them going again, although continuing oil warnings caused them to fly the last two legs with one engine throttled back. Their lead was unassailable despite this, and after the final mandatory stop and more engine work at Charleville they flew on to cross the finish line at Flemington Racecourse at 3.33 p.m. (local time) on October 23. Their official time was 71 hours 18 seconds.

England had done it again, captured a major air race with a specially designed aircraft which proved to be unbeatable, similar to the Supermarines in the Schneider Cup Trophy Races. DeHavilland built a total of five Comets with several now undergoing restoration. In addition, a replica was built at Flabob Airport, near Riverside, California a few years ago and thousands saw it first hand at AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. In my opinion the Comet was one of the most beautiful aircraft ever designed.

Specifications:

Performance

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