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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Seaplanes

 
In this post, I'm going to tell you about seaplanes. Seaplanes are aircraft that can take off and land on water.

A seaplane is a fixed-wing aircraft capable of taking off and landing on water. Seaplanes that can also take off and land on airfields are a subclass called amphibian aircraft. 

The word "seaplane" is used to describe two types of air/water vehicles: the floatplane and the flying boat. A floatplane has slender pontoons, or floats, mounted under the fuselage. Two floats are common, but other configurations are possible. Only the floats of a floatplane normally come into contact with water. The fuselage remains above water. Some small land aircraft can be modified to become float planes, and in general floatplanes are small aircraft. Floatplanes are limited by their inability to handle wave heights typically greater than 12 inches (0.31 m). These floats add to the empty weight of the airplane, and to the drag coefficient, resulting in reduced payload capacity, slower rate-of-climb, and slower cruise speed.
 
In a flying boat, the main source of buoyancy is the fuselage, which acts like a ship's hull in the water. Most flying boats have small floats mounted on their wings to keep them stable. Not all small seaplanes have been floatplanes, but most large seaplanes have been flying boats, their great weight supported by their hulls. A true seaplane only takes off and lands on water. Most seaplanes are light aircraft. The picture below shows the Boeing Clipper, a seaplane capable of flying across the Atlantic in one shot. This plane was built by Boeing when Pan American issued a challenge daring companies to build an aircraft that could fly across the Atlantic while also being the safest in the world.

 
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