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SW Aviator Feb/Mar 2001
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Back to Basics
The Right Choice for Seaplane Training

Although there are a limited number of flight schools in the Southwest offering SES and MES ratings, understanding your choices is an important first step towards your rating. Each flight school is unique, offering different environments, aircraft, and approaches. Taking the time to find training that fits your needs will make your experience more enjoyable and have a direct effect on your piloting skills.

The following points of consideration, offered by the Seaplane Pilots Association, are an excellent place to begin planning.

Define Your Goals
The first step to take in choosing a flight school or instructor is to define your goals. Do you plan to fly seaplanes after you get the rating, or are you simply interested in another endorsement on your certificate? Do you plan to fly floatplanes or hull-type seaplanes? Amphibians or straight seaplanes? Single or twin engine? Are you planning to fly on lakes, rivers or bays? In mountainous terrain? Perhaps in congested waterways? Commercially?

Train to Meet Your Goals
Choosing a flight school or instructor that conducts training in an aircraft and environment similar to those you expect to fly in will significantly improve the relevance of your training. This is especially true if you're planning to buy a seaplane or fly commercially.

After the Rating
Pay particular attention to the flight schools that offer solo rental, particularly if you don't plan on buying a seaplane. Don't forget to ask about restrictions on solo rental –they are often numerous and important.
If your plans include ownership of a seaplane, try to find a flight school in the area you're going to fly in that offers instruction in the airplane you want to buy. Alternatively, buy the seaplane and then hire an instructor to give you training in your airplane. Most insurance companies will require instruction in type regardless. Don't settle for an instructor who doesn't have substantial experience in the model of seaplane you own.

Going Commercial
If your plans include commercial seaplane flying, it will pay off to keep a couple of things in mind. If you get your rating from the company you want to work for, your will have a tremendous advantage over other candidates with otherwise similar qualifications. Short of this, train in aircraft that are similar to those you would like to fly, and preferably in the same area you would like to fly in. Seaplane operators generally prefer to hire pilots with knowledge of the local geography and conditions as well as experience in the seaplanes they have in their fleet. One other thing will give you a significant edge: get to know people in the industry. Also, keep in mind that many seaplane pilots start out working on the docks or in some other aspect of the business. Don't let pride in your superior piloting skill blind you to the opportunities of working up fromsomething other than a flying job.

Seaplane Training In and Around the Southwest


La Placa Flying Service
2945 Maricopa Avenue
Lake Havasu City, AZ 86406

Sheble's Riviera Aviation
600 Highway 95
Bullhead City, AZ 86430


Ace Aviation
397 Smith Ranch Road
San Rafael, CA 94903-1956

Bigfoot Air, LLC
291 Geary St., Suite 300
San Francisco, CA 94102

Commodore Seaplanes
242 Redwood Highway
Marin County Seaplane Base
Mill Valley, CA 94941

Norcal Aviation
3600 Carol Kennedy Drive
San Andreas, CA 95249

Salton Sea Air Service
Highway 101-111
Desert Air Drive
North Shore, CA 92254


Port Cherokee Seaplane Base
Route 2, Box 826
Afton, OK 74331


Duggan Air Seaplane
P.O. Box 1224
Frankston, TX 75763

Jacksboro Nautical Aero
Route 4, Box 18
Jacksboro, TX 76458

For more information, visit
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The material in this publication is for advisory information only and should not be relied upon for navigation, maintenance or flight techniques. SW Regional Publications and the staff neither assume any responsibility for the accuracy of this publication's content nor any liability arising fom it
SW Aviator Magazine • 3909 Central NE • Albuquerque, NM 87108
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©2001 Southwest Regional Publishing, Inc.