You may have heard it before ... but the most fun you can ever have flying is on floats! For an RV pilot there is only one way to get a float rating and that's in a high-performance float plane. After all if we wanted to poke around we’d have built plastic airplanes!

When BFR time came around I was looking for something challenging and fun to do.

I started to look for seaplane instruction. Through the web I came across Florida Seaplanes in Orlando, Florida owned and operated by Rich Hensch.

I contacted Rich, a former Pan Am pilot who has trained hundreds of float pilots and has thousands of hours logged on water. Rich’s comment to my initial email was basically come have fun and fly high-performance vs. some of the other float operations in Florida. His attitude sold me immediately.

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When I arrived in Orlando, I found that Rich’s base of operations is just a short distance from downtown Orlando on a beautiful little lake. There’s nothing like looking in your backyard and seeing a plane bobbing in the water. All Florida Seaplane flight training is done in new, instrument equipped M7 235hp Maule high performance seaplanes with 0-540’s.

After a short ground school it was off to the plane. One thing a land-based pilot immediately notices is that once the engine starts .. the plane is moving! This makes for some interesting (and very quick) mag checks! Rich is the consummate instructor and he thoroughly enjoys teaching and flying floats.

After learning about wind, waves and other mischievous little issues that affect a float plane it was off on the step and within a few seconds the aircraft flew itself off the lake. I spent the next few days splashing around dozens of beautiful Florida lakes and incredibly scenic rivers learning how to land on floats on glassy water, rough water, currents and various wind conditions. Short-field landings and take offs as well as operating on the curves of the river. I saw literally thousands of alligators as it was breeding time in the lakes...and ate some at a great little restaurant in the swamps we flew into.

For the record, and new to me at the time, there is nothing more dangerous and challenging then landing on glassy water. You can CLEARLY see the sky and clouds when you look down but not the surface of the water. It’s an incredible sense of accomplishment when you actually look out and see the spray from the floats after touching down without realizing it as you basically fly a set speed and course, descending 50’ per minute until you fly ‘onto’ the glassy water!

Rich’s continued encouragement and super teaching style set me up for the check ride at the end of the week and I became a licensed seaplane pilot ... much to my amazement.

I’ve never had such a great time flying before, It was incredible fun and was over with much to quickly. I’ve since been back with my wife to splash around more the Florida lakes.

So why just do a basic BFR in your RV ... send the wife and kids to Disney and get out and have some wet fun! You’ll never look at a lake the same way again....now how can I put floats on my 6A?!

Rich’s web-site is :
http://www.geocities.com/flseaplanes/ and you can email him at rhensch@hotmail.com or (407) 331-5655.

Forget the BFR .... learn something new!
Get a float rating!!!
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