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Seaplane Rating TrainingJust Add Water
By Kyle Garrett
One of the easiest and most-enjoyable ratings to obtain is a seaplane rating. Thanks in part to the beautiful settings and cost-effectiveness of seaplane rating training, the rating is very popular with many types of pilot as a way to build hours and add some spice to their flying. Honestly, there are lots of pilots who obtain their seaplane rating and rarely fly seaplanes after they complete their training.
What are the benefits of a seaplane rating?
Very few other ratings require as few as five hours of training to obtain. With a relatively small commitment of time and money, a new world of challenging and fun flying will be opened to you. Whether you seek scenic mountain vistas accompanying flights to beautiful remote lakes for some fishing or a quick commute to your lake house, seaplane flying has something to offer. The sheer variety of places to fly seaplanes is overwhelming. In fact, in more rustic locales like parts of Alaska, many places are only accessible via seaplane.
What training is required for a seaplane rating?
If you already have a pilot certificate, an add-on seaplane rating is required to fly seaplanes. If you do not already have a pilot certificate, you can obtain one in a seaplane following a course that is similar to a traditional land-based flight training course. The add-on rating does not require any additional written exams, but a short practical exam covering seaplane specific training is required. Add-on ratings are available for any level of certificate from Sport Pilot on up to ATP. Typically, the only training that is necessary is on seaplane specific operations, like water taxiing and sailing. For an added challenge, you may consider obtaining a multi-engine seaplane rating. Unfortunately, while many training centers offer single-engine ratings, training for multi-engine ratings can require significant travel.
How quickly can I complete my seaplane rating training?
While the time can vary widely depending on your background, many reputable training providers offer a 5 hour add-on rating course that can completed in a long weekend. This is typically adequate for a majority of pilots, but you may find you enjoy flying floats enough to take a few more days. It is also important to note that, unless your training provider has a relationship with an examiner, it may take longer to schedule your check-ride.
Seaplane flying adds variety and new skills to your flying that are unmatched by any other rating. The possibilities of seaplane flying are widely varied and exciting. Once you're a qualified seaplane pilot, you can easily fly out to pristine wilderness, enviable fishing spots or taxi right up to the dock at your lake retreat. In short, as a seaplane pilot, you're free to experience the world.