Cessna 172 Seaplane

Wind, Waves, Watercraft

Graham Palmer, VFC CFI

To many landlocked pilots this might seem like somewhat of a strange pre-takeoff checklist item; however for all of VFC’s recently rated seaplane pilots, this is a concept all too familiar to them.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to fly with pilots from across Canada, and around the world. They are always quick to comment that Southern Vancouver Island and the surrounding area is one of the most breathtaking areas they have flown in.  The combination of the Pacific Ocean, rugged coastlines, and surrounding mountain system contribute to this stunning aviator’s paradise.  I’m fortunate to have had so many incredible flying experiences in and around this area; but honestly the best way by far to fly in this area is in a seaplane.

Whether you are interested in learning to fly a seaplane solely for the enjoyment of the challenge or if you aspire for a career flying a seaplane, completing a seaplane rating is by far the most enjoyable rating a pilot can obtain. Combining your love of flying with the lure of the ocean and lakes is truly the ultimate flying experience.  

Aside from the pure enjoyment of learning to fly a seaplane, the skill, knowledge and awareness you develop during training is astounding. Enhanced awareness of each and every element from basic airmanship to advanced maneuvering and aircraft handling sharpen your fundamental abilities. Learning to survey a site in preparation for takeoff and landing, evaluate tides and current, wind and waves, how to safely navigate a busy harbor and learning the fine art of docking is very rewarding. Constantly scanning for logs and floating debris, and maintaining vigilance for submerged rocks and overhead power lines as well as other potential hazards make flying a seaplane both challenging and exciting.

With a minimum licencing requirement of only 7 hours, obtaining a seaplane rating is not nearly as difficult, nor as expensive as you may think.  The course consists of basic and advanced maneuvers, including concentrated practice of take-offs and landings, docking, beaching and sailing.  Aside from the challenge of completing the rating, enjoying our local aerial and aquatic scenery with glimpses of local wildlife both above and below sea level make this a rating worth pursuing. You are guaranteed not to be disappointed!

For pilots interested in learning more about what seaplane flying has to offer, or to experience their first lesson flying a seaplane, please call the club at 250-656-2833, or email: graham.palmer@flyvfc.com