Though not as widely used as they once were, seaplanes still serve a few key purposes today including providing access to roadless areas. But the downside of a seaplane is that it can’t land or take off on solid ground. Or can it? This crafty pilot proves that only one of those disadvantages holds true (landing). As you will soon find out, with a truck moving fast enough, a seaplane can actually take off from an attached trailer.
How the Sea Plane Pilot Made This Take Off Possible
It’s fairly simple to see how this seaplane is able to take off. The trailer basically gives it it’s own set of wheels to generate enough speed from the truck towing it to get lift. The sloped blocks at the front also help so that the plane doesn’t slam into the back of the truck when it’s attempting to take off, which would obviously lead to a disastrous result.
A Little History on the First Powered Seaplane
The first seaplane was built in 1898 by Wilhelm Cress of Austria. However, it was unable to get of the ground with its two 30-horsepower engines. It wouldn’t be until 12 years later that the first powered seaplane had a successful flight. This plane was built by Frenchman Henri Fabre. Later named Hydravion, Fabre flew the plane for roughly a third of a mile in it’s initial flight. Here are a few of it’s key specs:
- 50-horsepower Gnome Omega rotary engine
- Two-bladed propeller
- 28 feet long
- Wingspan of just under 46 feet
- 3 wide floats attached
- Reached a top speed of 55 mph.
What are This Seaplane Specs?
It’s tough to say what model of seaplane this is, but it looks similar in size to a Cessna 172 floatplane, which has the following specs:
- 150 horsepower
- Top speed of 94 knots (108 mph)
- Gross weight of 2,200 pounds
- Range of 481 miles
- Takeoff ground roll of 1,620 feet
Shortly after the invention of the first powered seaplane, the flying boat was invented. In contrast to floatplanes like the first powered seaplane and the one featured below, which has floats mounted under the fuselage, the flying boat primarily uses its hydrodynamic fuselage for buoyancy along with small floats mounted to the wings for stability. These boats were much larger than floatplanes and would become invaluable in both World War I and World War II due to their ability to patrol for submarines, spot gunfire for battleships, and provide air-sea rescue.
People realized the limitations of seaplanes (only being able to take off and land on water), which led to the invention of amphibious planes shortly after the first seaplanes were produced. These more versatile planes were critical in both World Wars as well, starting with the British-produced Vickers Viking in 1919. This 34-foot long aircraft with a 50-foot wingspan was equipped with a 450-horsepower V-12 engine that propelled it to a max speed of 113 mph.
Seaplane Usage Today
Due to the increase of land-based airports and the increased range and speed of land-based planes, seaplane usage declined significantly after World War II. However, they still serve a critical purpose today. As mentioned, they can provide access to roadless areas, but they are also commonly used in firefighting and sea rescue as well.
It’s pretty cool that they were able to get a successful takeoff from a trailer. I guess it would beat hauling it to the water after you just bought one or took it in to get some repairs? It does seem dangerous though and probably took a skilled pilot to pull it off.