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Thread: How big a puddle do you need?

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Default How big a puddle do you need?

    I am curious what some of the float planes will do out there. Just how big a puddle do you need to set down and get off? I was looking at some property on a lake that was long ways about 2550' (bank to bank) and I was curious what would be able to get in there? One end opens into a clearing that is probably only about 5-10' above the mean water line and runs another 500' before clearing 30-40' foot trees.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    I am curious what some of the float planes will do out there. Just how big a puddle do you need to set down and get off? I was looking at some property on a lake that was long ways about 2550' (bank to bank) and I was curious what would be able to get in there? One end opens into a clearing that is probably only about 5-10' above the mean water line and runs another 500' before clearing 30-40' foot trees.
    You can just about land a floatplane in a filled bathtub. As for the takeoff: Land on any convenient lake of generous propoortions. Taxi around and then take off normally into the wind! Circle the lake and see where the takeoff started and where you left the water. Fly the length of that takeoff run at 600-feet and at 90-mph. Check the time in seconds that it takes you to travel that takeoff path. Now you know how long that takeoff run must be. Remember that at 90-mph you are traveling about 132-ft/sec. Translating that into takeoff distance is easy, but is only academic. You are interested in the TIME, and not the ditance.

    When flying into an unknown lake, drop to 600-feet and fly the length at 90-mph, timing your passage. You should now know whether or not you will be able to use that lake, since you do know how many seconds at 90-mph translates into the distance you'll need.

    Winds and loads will affect performance, so use caution until your experience has built up enough that you will know by that experience how much the load and the winds will affect performance in your airplane.

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    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    Winds and loads will affect performance, so use caution until your experience has built up enough that you will know by that experience how much the load and the winds will affect performance in your airplane.
    And temp / density altitude.

    It also greatly depends on the surrounding terrain. Generally speaking if I have to climb over trees, I guess-ta-mate that I will need twice the take-off distance to clear a normal bunch of spruce trees.
    If there are weird shaped hills or cliffs, all sorts of other considerations kick-in. In a wide open lake a lot of wind makes for a super fast take-off....(crappy taxi ability, but a quick take-off)
    HOWEVER,,, if there are big cliffs or steep hills, all around the lake, you might get all sorts of weird down drafts and rotor turbulence going. SO you might never get off the water, or never be able to climb out on a super windy day. In the lakes across the Bay from my house, I have had a C-185 pushed back into the water from an altitude of 20-30 feet above the water. The wind was gusting to around 30 knots that hour.....(it changes every hour or so around the coast)

    Generally speaking a 2500 ft long lake with an escape path should be no problem for a C-185, C-180, Any Cub, A CGBC, 180 horse Sedan, or similar.

    Here is a photo of Loon Lake across the bay from my place. It is very low, just 200 ft above sea level. but the hills around it are pretty steep and covered with hard dead spruce trees. (Dead trees are spears, live trees are cushions) This is a photo from my float training book showing take-off distance comparisons. I use 70 mph as my timing speed since it comes out to about 100 feet per second.

    PS: The distance from the start point to the little island is about 1750 ft. The whole lake is 2450 ft long, but you need to climb about 250 feet to get over a hill covered with dead trees. That is the only low escape route on that lake.
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    cool photo FP!!

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    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    As I am sure Grizzly1 will verify, If a lake is fairly round or oval in shape, you can often make a corkscrew or oval climb over the lake in order to clear the surrounding hills.
    One reason why I always teach folks to take-off on the side of a lake instead of right down the middle. That way you can make a J-turn emergency landing if your engine takes a dump.
    If you have steep slopes like this photo, and glassy water, you want to set a positive rate of climb and use the solid hill-side as a visual reference. Staring at the glassy water is a good way to have problems. I like to make ovals and climb during the straight sections, then level off for the turns.... Just in case...
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...1&d=1290819319
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    Those are some way cool pictures and great advice...thanks...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    As I am sure Grizzly1 will verify, If a lake is fairly round or oval in shape, you can often make a corkscrew or oval climb over the lake in order to clear the surrounding hills.
    One reason why I always teach folks to take-off on the side of a lake instead of right down the middle. That way you can make a J-turn emergency landing if your engine takes a dump.
    If you have steep slopes like this photo, and glassy water, you want to set a positive rate of climb and use the solid hill-side as a visual reference. Staring at the glassy water is a good way to have problems. I like to make ovals and climb during the straight sections, then level off for the turns.... Just in case...
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...1&d=1290819319
    Can't argue with that, FloatPlane.

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    I used to know how to make the photos large so you did not have to click on them. I can't get that to work anymore...

    If the Lake you are looking at has a glacier on the end of it, then you have a few more concerns.

    1. The glacier pretty much makes it's own weather. Often resulting in cold down-flow over the glacier that is often going the opposite direction from warmer air a few hundred feet above it.

    2. Ice chunks. (Icebergs) that can sometimes block your landing or exit.

    3. Chocolate colored water that hides everything more than 1 inch deep.

    4. And the most irritating thing,,,,, The icebergs often have HUGE granite rocks in them. Like the size of an easy chair. When the icebergs get caught or grounded, they sit there and melt. When they melt they drop these huge boulders all over the place. So one year they are not there, then the next year a huge rock rips into your float.
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    Float, if you are using the little picture attachment tool to post your images then try un-clicking the "reference images locally" check-box.

    I don't fly (yet) but I have a buddy who flies a 206 and I am trying to figure out if he would be able to get in/out. If/When I do get a bird it will probably be something between a Citabria and a 172 or Stinson 108.

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    then try un-clicking the "reference images locally" check-box.
    Hmm,,, I can't find it.....

    As far as C-172s go, the standard HP models are real dogs on the water. Their wings are designed for speed and not low speed lift. You need at least 180 horses and that means more money.
    The 150 and 160 HP citabrias (GCBC) do well on floats. But, like a Cub or Husky, you do not have much room.
    I have only flown modified Stinson's on floats. With higher HP engines. Often being near gross weight because of the modifications. So I have no clue about the standard engine models.
    An Aeronca Sedan with a 180 horse engine is a very nice and simple float-plane with lots of room and they fly like a dream. They have a huge back seat like my grandma's 49 Chevy Fleetline. I could never tell where we were going since the windows were way above me...

    About how high (altitude) is the lake you are considering and how tall are the hills around it? (google earth)
    Is all of it usable or is a lot of it grass or swamp?
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    Google earth doesn't offer much as far as elevation info on this one. Lake is at 375'. It jumps up to about 405' in a few areas but for the most part shows very little change in elevation in most areas along the shore. There is some other swamp area near by which seems to confirm that there is not much elevation gain in some of those areas but it is just as likely that the GE altitude isn't super accurate.

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    I have property on a small lake about 1300ft long. What other plane could land and takeoff besides a Supercub?16567794Y.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by alaska4ever View Post
    I have property on a small lake about 1300ft long. What other plane could land and takeoff besides a Supercub?16567794Y.jpg
    Hard to tell from the photo, of course, but the lake looks plenty big enough to accommodate almost anything on floats, though step turns may be required.

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    I agree...From what I see the lake is at least two thirds as wide as it is long with minimal obstructions on much of it. The width alone makes the lake available to most float equiped aircraft as they can take off on one float while circling the lake shore and climb out with a shallow bank if necessary to avoid obstructions. Of course hot days and uncooperative wind can make it or break it.



    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly 1 View Post
    Hard to tell from the photo, of course, but the lake looks plenty big enough to accommodate almost anything on floats, though step turns may be required.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tcraft View Post
    I agree...From what I see the lake is at least two thirds as wide as it is long with minimal obstructions on much of it. The width alone makes the lake available to most float equiped aircraft as they can take off on one float while circling the lake shore and climb out with a shallow bank if necessary to avoid obstructions. Of course hot days and uncooperative wind can make it or break it.
    I might not want to try it with one float on the water. Until the plane is airborne, I'm not sure how effective your ailerons might be. You're still below stalling speed, remember, otherwise you'd already be off the water. And, if the ailerons are effective, the inside wing will be pretty close to the water, won't it? I think I'd try to build up enough speed to get up on the step, then make those left step turns until I had reached takeoff speed. Somewhere along the line, the plane would certainly find enough distance to head in a straight line on the step for a short time. If that weren't sufficient, then another step turn and try it out of the straight run again. It IS possible to lift out of a step turn, though, right FloatPilot?

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    If a friend asked me to drop him into a 1300' lake in a Cub i'd tell him maybe. Depends on the lake, the weather, the load, and the Cub. In a 180? No way. Not even light. And I have a really good 180. In anything in between? Probably not. Too many variables in float flying. This thread is silly.

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    Member alaska4ever's Avatar
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    I needed to know for next summer. I want to take in a 6500W generator and a two man auger, leave them and return to Wasilla or wherever. If I know what kind of plane, I will have an idea looking price wise. I had a friend who flew me up last fall to check it out and he didn't feel comfortable taking off from there in his 180.

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    A friend on mine lives on a lake that looks about like that. I did his float rating in his C-185 on 3500 Aerocet floats and he is able to get in and out of that lake as long as he is not loaded too heavy. Depending on the wind.

    Those muskeg areas around the sides of the lake give you all sorts of options IF,
    A. The wind is doing what you need it to be doing. Along with density altitude and temp...
    B. You are loaded correctly
    C. You have your stuff together and don't goof.

    I would think about it more than twice with a C-180. The wind would have to be blowing like crazy....
    If I was only dropping off heavy gear and leaving light ,, I would consider doing it with a C-185 on Aerocets, up-engined PA-14, an up-engined Producer or a Helio Courier. And of course any Super-Cub or Husky would go in and out of there easily.

    Going out on skis during the winter to drop off heavy items is another option worth considering.

    If there is a larger lake nearby, it is always worth the short walk between lakes, compared to the long walk back to town after wrecking your plane.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    A friend on mine lives on a lake that looks about like that. I did his float rating in his C-185 on 3500 Aerocet floats and he is able to get in and out of that lake as long as he is not loaded too heavy. Depending on the wind.

    Those muskeg areas around the sides of the lake give you all sorts of options IF,
    A. The wind is doing what you need it to be doing. Along with density altitude and temp...
    B. You are loaded correctly
    C. You have your stuff together and don't goof.

    I would think about it more than twice with a C-180. The wind would have to be blowing like crazy....
    If I was only dropping off heavy gear and leaving light ,, I would consider doing it with a C-185 on Aerocets, up-engined PA-14, an up-engined Producer or a Helio Courier. And of course any Super-Cub or Husky would go in and out of there easily.

    Going out on skis during the winter to drop off heavy items is another option worth considering.

    If there is a larger lake nearby, it is always worth the short walk between lakes, compared to the long walk back to town after wrecking your plane.


    Winter would be fine except, I need to get in to auger holes for the foundation for my cabin. After that, I can go in by snowmachine and finish it off. There is a much bigger lake 1500 feet to the west of me but, there is a wide and deep creek between my land and the lake. My plan was to build a bridge across the creek so I can use my track vehicle to travel between my place and the bigger lake. Basically, I just need to get in drill 9 holes and I'm good to go. I'll make it happen eventually. Thanks for the info. My land is 5 miles North of Alexander Lake

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    Most winters you will have no frost in the woods in that country in the winter. I've dug many holes out in that part of the world in March. Yes, you have to work fast, but it's very doable. Way easier to haul an auger in by snowmachine than float plane.
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