Seaplanes at Night

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kilo3bravo
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Seaplanes at Night

Post by kilo3bravo »

Curious - from a regulatory standpoint, is it permitted for (straight) float equipped/seaplanes to land on water at night? I've been through the CARs and was unable to find any mention of it specifically, other than anti-collision lights must be on while maneuvering.

Seems like an emergency situation-only kind of setting? Anyone have experience with this?
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PilotDAR
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Re: Seaplanes at Night

Post by PilotDAR »

My experience has been poor, a very experienced floatplane pilot friend had horrendous outcome. A consideration is that if it does not go well, and you end up swimming (my friend did), you may be injured, in the middle of a cold body of water with no help, and having to find your way to shore. My friend mentioned having to look for the north start to figure out which way to swim, with several broken bones. I suggest just don't.
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mmm..bacon
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Re: Seaplanes at Night

Post by mmm..bacon »

Many years ago, as a young, hours hungry, first season float pilot, I pushed the clock at the end of the summer. Fortunately, there was a decent moon, and my 'home' lake was long enough that I could set up a glassy water style landing from a long way back..
I think that I saw my first grey hair in the mirror the next morning!

As DAR says: "Just don't"
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TeePeeCreeper
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Re: Seaplanes at Night

Post by TeePeeCreeper »

Unless you are taking off before sunset and planning to land in Greenville or Lake Hood (both have water lighting) I don’t think it would be very prudent.

Ask yourself this;

“If something bad happens will my insurance company cover it?” If there is any doubt don’t do it!
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valleyboy
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Re: Seaplanes at Night

Post by valleyboy »

As stated, if you have lighted water runways there is no law against operating a float plane at night. They are very few and far between.

Like many "old time" float drivers I have landed many times after legal dark. The reason I stopped was not because of the landing after dark but what you might hit once on the water. I know of a canoe that got hit by a beech 18 in norway house. That event opened my eyes as well as the friend who was involved. The person in the canoe did not survive. It filtered down to red lake where I was flying and it's funny how all those after dark shenanigans stopped. Another lesson learned because of a tragic event.
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kilo3bravo
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Re: Seaplanes at Night

Post by kilo3bravo »

Thanks everyone - I appreciate the insight. Some sobering reminders of the risks involved.

To be clear, this is not an activity I am looking to get involved with. I was just hoping to get a better understanding how it's interpreted in the regs / and how aviators view it. This has been very helpful.
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Mr. North
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Re: Seaplanes at Night

Post by Mr. North »

Ahh yes, the dumb stuff one does in their youth with no supervision! Landing on floats at night is actually really easy. Just set up for a glassy water landing, and cross your fingers you don't hit a rock or the shoreline.
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scdriver
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Re: Seaplanes at Night

Post by scdriver »

Mr. North wrote: Tue Aug 10, 2021 9:46 pm Ahh yes, the dumb stuff one does in their youth with no supervision! Landing on floats at night is actually really easy. Just set up for a glassy water landing, and cross your fingers you don't hit a rock or the shoreline.
It’s those sneaky deadheads that’ll get ya
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broken_slinky
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Re: Seaplanes at Night

Post by broken_slinky »

Sorry for the thread hijack but does anyone have a photo or video coming into land or downwind on a lighted water runway? Having never seen one, think it'd be cool to see.
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Re: Seaplanes at Night

Post by Redneck_pilot86 »

All that is required to light an aerodrome at night is parallel lines not less than 420M long of reflectors, and a single white light at each end. This would make it legal to operate, but its still stupid.
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Re: Seaplanes at Night

Post by PilotDAR »

Egads, a night landing on the water. The last person I knew who did this, told me that he had to swim to shore using the north star as a reference as the which direction to swim, and then crawl through the forest for 1km with a badly broken ankle. And I've landed in his lake, it's always cold!

I wouldn't even consider a water landing at night. How would you know if there were any submerged hazards? If you fuss up the landing, you're swimming (at best). If I somehow got myself in the position where a night landing were necessary in a floatplane, I would look for a grass runway, and sort it out in the morning.

I'm getting old, and risk adverse....
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scdriver
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Re: Seaplanes at Night

Post by scdriver »

PilotDAR wrote: Mon Nov 29, 2021 9:02 pm Egads, a night landing on the water. The last person I knew who did this, told me that he had to swim to shore using the north star as a reference as the which direction to swim, and then crawl through the forest for 1km with a badly broken ankle. And I've landed in his lake, it's always cold!

I wouldn't even consider a water landing at night. How would you know if there were any submerged hazards? If you fuss up the landing, you're swimming (at best). If I somehow got myself in the position where a night landing were necessary in a floatplane, I would look for a grass runway, and sort it out in the morning.

I'm getting old, and risk adverse....
Agreed, I am relatively young and also think it's stupid, lol. If you somehow ended up needing to land at night I would also probably look for grass. Maybe, MAYBE, you would be able to set up like glassy water and just keep it flying till you touched down on water but I'd say its more likely than not that you either drive it in to something or end up swimming. I've landed at the absolute limits of what's legal for daytime on water, and it's really not that fun. You lose some ability to spot deadheads, it can amplify the effects of glassy water - now imagine doing that in pitch darkness.
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Re: Seaplanes at Night

Post by cncpc »

I don't have a lot of float time, but I did land in the dark once at Dragon Lake outside Quesnel, which was our float base. I'd dropped some Germans off at Bowron Lake, in daytime hours, but was a few minutes late heading home. Arrived back at the lake about 15 minutes late and it was dark. I had the altimeter from Quesnel FSS, and there were shoreline lights and the base was lit up. I just did what others here have suggested, glassy water technique with a lot more awareness of exactly where I was on the approach, which was straight at the float base lighting. Landing light not much good in the glassy water attitude, but just held the speed and power for a low sink rate, and it touched down without a bounce and I taxied in.

On the dock, it did seem to still be twilight as structures were visible for a fair distance around, but it was black on the approach. I knew that lake well and knew there were no deadheads or obstacles. Lots of room and the houses you'd see in day ops were lit up and the whole scene was familiar.

I do think that the glassy water method is far superior to making a normal approach and hoping you see water in time to flare, assuming the landing light is working. I suspect you may not have time to get it all right, and you'd still have difficulty judging height even if you saw something. Even with "runway" lighting, I'd think you'd still want to use glassy water technique even between the lights/reflectors.

I certainly don't recommend doing this intentionally, but if you're caught out, don't think you're facing imminent death. Stay calm but focused, and execute the glassy water technique into what you know is safe water.
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scdriver
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Re: Seaplanes at Night

Post by scdriver »

cncpc wrote: Wed Dec 01, 2021 1:45 pm I don't have a lot of float time, but I did land in the dark once at Dragon Lake outside Quesnel, which was our float base. I'd dropped some Germans off at Bowron Lake, in daytime hours, but was a few minutes late heading home. Arrived back at the lake about 15 minutes late and it was dark. I had the altimeter from Quesnel FSS, and there were shoreline lights and the base was lit up. I just did what others here have suggested, glassy water technique with a lot more awareness of exactly where I was on the approach, which was straight at the float base lighting. Landing light not much good in the glassy water attitude, but just held the speed and power for a low sink rate, and it touched down without a bounce and I taxied in.

On the dock, it did seem to still be twilight as structures were visible for a fair distance around, but it was black on the approach. I knew that lake well and knew there were no deadheads or obstacles. Lots of room and the houses you'd see in day ops were lit up and the whole scene was familiar.

I do think that the glassy water method is far superior to making a normal approach and hoping you see water in time to flare, assuming the landing light is working. I suspect you may not have time to get it all right, and you'd still have difficulty judging height even if you saw something. Even with "runway" lighting, I'd think you'd still want to use glassy water technique even between the lights/reflectors.

I certainly don't recommend doing this intentionally, but if you're caught out, don't think you're facing imminent death. Stay calm but focused, and execute the glassy water technique into what you know is safe water.
Glassy water technique is the only way to do it, if you flew a normal approach hoping to see the water you'd be swimming. Also, depending on your airplane and landing light strength, it can be better to actually turn it off if you're in this situation. If it's bright, the reflection close to the water can really screw you up.
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co-joe
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Re: Seaplanes at Night

Post by co-joe »

When I was at Borek, I remember being told that it was quite common for high time Twin Otter captains to have to go rent a C172 to get 5 hours of night cross country PIC to get their ATPLs despite having north of 4000 hours in the log book. I was told that most had the night time but couldn't log it because it's against the CARs to land on an unlit surface. I don't have a reference for that rule, but when I heard the story it seemed legit. The story was the YVR harbour was one of the only legal water aerodromes with night lights.
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scdriver
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Re: Seaplanes at Night

Post by scdriver »

co-joe wrote: Thu Dec 16, 2021 8:21 am When I was at Borek, I remember being told that it was quite common for high time Twin Otter captains to have to go rent a C172 to get 5 hours of night cross country PIC to get their ATPLs despite having north of 4000 hours in the log book. I was told that most had the night time but couldn't log it because it's against the CARs to land on an unlit surface. I don't have a reference for that rule, but when I heard the story it seemed legit. The story was the YVR harbour was one of the only legal water aerodromes with night lights.
That doesn’t surprise me one bit. I’ve never heard of the harbour having night lights though? When was that?
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co-joe
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Re: Seaplanes at Night

Post by co-joe »

05 ish If memory serves (not that it does) but didn't KBA do all the Twin Otter flying for Harbour Air seasonally back then?
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scdriver
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Re: Seaplanes at Night

Post by scdriver »

co-joe wrote: Thu Dec 16, 2021 11:09 pm 05 ish If memory serves (not that it does) but didn't KBA do all the Twin Otter flying for Harbour Air seasonally back then?
I’m not sure when borek was doing that flying, before my time. Seems like utter madness having lights for night landing downtown but what do I know!
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