Friday, October 2, 2009

Fall Seaplane Flying in Alabama

This is really the best flying of the year. We can at last enjoy wake free lakes and relatively long days. Gone is much of the bumpiness and intense heat of summer afternoons. Our weather becomes consistent for days on end, for better or worse. From the air, the changing trees create unique patterns on the landscape as they explode into color.

Fall pilots enjoy the added bonus of actually getting more of the rated horsepower from the engine—pretty exciting after enduring high density altitudes all summer.This is also the time of year to get night current again (in your land plane), as well as getting comfortable with windier days following fronts. With the season's new flying pleasures, however, comes the need for alertness to different kinds of seasonal water hazards.

As lake levels fall (typical for this time of year), the risks of boat traffic are replaced with those from unmarked shallow areas. The receding water reveals new spots which were not marked with bouys during summer's higher water levels. Be sure to do a good flying survey of your prospective landing area before committing your floats to risk. The truly shallow areas can often be seen from a low pass. It's harder to see submerged logs and pilings, so be extra observant.

As days get cooler and the water gets calmer, it's really tempting to just fire up the engine and blast off. Be sure to taxi around long enough to allow the engine and oil to warm up to a reasonable operating temperature. Once in the air, enjoy the clear days and beauty of our great country. Most of all, appreciate the privilege and freedom of flight.