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FAQs about seaplanes

Seaplanes are a unique aircraft with the ability to land on both solid ground and water, and have played an important part in the history of aviation. While most people know about the large commercial planes commonly used for air travel, less is known about the seaplanes. To help here are some FAQs about seaplanes.
FAQs about seaplanes

What makes seaplanes float?
The seaplane gets its buoyancy from the hull (the main body of the plane) or floats which are usually a set of two attached to the main body of the plane.

When was the first seaplane flight?
Henri Fabre completed the first successful powered seaplane flight on 28 March 1910. This question is always among the top FAQs about seaplanes.

What’s the longest seaplane flight ever completed?
On 18 December 1990, Pilot Tom Casey completed the first round-the-world flight with only water landings using a Cessna 206 seaplane named Liberty.

How many people can fit in a seaplane?
It depends on the make and model. The largest seaplane built was the Hughes H-4 Hercules which was designed to carry up to 750 fully armed troops. Our Cessna 208 Caravans which are typically used for tours can fit nine people.

What are the main uses of seaplanes today?
Today seaplanes are primarily used for scenic tours, charter flights, firefighting as well as search and rescue.

What is the difference between a seaplane and ‘flying boat’?
This is one of the most important FAQs about seaplanes. A seaplane has two ‘floats’ to keep it buoyant – usually two, whereas a flying boat uses the main body of the aircraft to keep it afloat.

How much can a seaplane carry?
This depends on the make and model, the Hughes H4 Hercules was designed to carry up to 68,040 kgs. That’s roughly equivalent to ten African elephants. The Cessna 208 Caravan we use for our seaplane tours have a maximum load of 1393 kgs.

Can seaplanes land on solid ground?
Amphibious models of seaplane can land on the ground, these are typically the planes that use a set of floats instead of the body of the plane for buoyancy. These seaplanes will have retractable landing gear. Our Seawings Cessna 208 aircraft are amphibious and can land on both water and solid ground.

How high can seaplanes fly?
This depends on the make and model a seaplane, however this is typically lower than a large commercial aircraft. For example the Icon A5 can fly at up to 11,000 ft above the ground. If you’re looking at scenic tours our Seawings seaplanes typically cruise at 1500 ft high.

What is the fastest seaplane?
The fastest jet-propelled seaplane is the Sea Dart which can reach a top speed of 1328 km per hr. This is one of our favourite FAQs about seaplanes.

What is the maximum range of a seaplane?
It depends on the model. The Saunders-Roe Princes had an estimated range of 4,900 nm, however only three were ever built. Our own Cessna 208 Caravans have a top range of 955 nautical miles which is around the same distance from to Dubai to India.

What’s the world’s largest seaplane?
The biggest seaplane ever built is the Hughes H-4 Hercules with a wingspan of 97.5m and 66m long, commonly known as ‘the Spruce Goose’ it only flew once. Today China has released the AG 600 which is designed to fight forest fires and aid marine rescues. It is still small in comparison to the H-4 being only 37m long with a wingspan of 39m.

How long have seaplanes been flying in Dubai?
Seaplanes first began flying to Dubai in the 1930s as part of the British Imperial Airline route to ‘British India’ which is known today as Pakistan. There was a period when sea planes stopped flying due to advances in land-based aircraft and landing strips. Seawings began providing seaplane flights from 2007, and are the only seaplane operator in the Middle East.

We hope we answered all your FAQs about seaplanes, do you have any additional questions you’d like answered? Get in touch with us!

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