Adding a sea - water rating to land pilot and CFI

Published by: Paul Hamilton on 18th Oct 2017 | View all blogs by Paul Hamilton


One of my students just bought a Cygnet so I went to Hanging’ Over Havasu with Joe Lorenzen who trained me on water. Here are some of my perspectives on this experience. Adding water trike to land trike.


It is all about the water. You search around until you find the best water and land right into the wind. Looking seeing evaluating the water and wind ON THE WATER is a key factor.


Similar to land trikes, it is best to keep the bar out to take the load off the floats for takeoff and landing.


The waves were harder than I thought they would be. I thought they would be softer.


Taxing and getting into specific locations was much easier than I thought it would be. With the Cygnet, as you taxi, it does not turn very quick. When you put the wheels down it slows it right down and now you have an extra front steering rudder that makes taxing much more responsive.


Getting the wheels up and down takes quite allot of strength.


It is easy to forget wheels up or down so this checklist for landing is very important.


I was told that landing in the water with wheels down will flip the trike over but landing with the wheels up on land is less eventful, in fact just scraping up the bottom.


It is really fun learning a new skill and Joe Lorenzen did a great job.


Additionally, Leo Fitzgerald did both of my proficiency checks for pilot and CFI. We got to do spiral recovery in the Cygnet for both pilot and CFI.


 Thanks again Joe and Leo. Really proud of both of you who I did checkrides over 10 years ago. Keep up the great work.


 Any additional comments from experienced Sea trikers is helpful.




  • Gregg Ludwig
    by Gregg Ludwig 10 months ago
    Every triker should learn to fly a trike on floats to add the their flight experience or just for fun!
    So Paul, why two (2) proficiency checks? Your CFI-wsc covers both land (wsc) and sea (wsc) if you hold those pilot ratings. Notice that your CFI certificate for trikes should show under limitations "CFI SPORT WEIGHT-SHIFT-CONTROL". No need to take a CFI proficiency check for Sea if you already hold a CFI-wsc and also hold a WSC SEA on your pilot certificate.
  • Gregg Ludwig
    by Gregg Ludwig 10 months ago
    It is worth noting also that to schedule a proficiency check is often easier than scheduling a Practical Test with an examiner because there are so many more instructors available for a proficiency check. The Proficiency check, however, does not count as a Flight Review.
  • Paul Hamilton
    by Paul Hamilton 10 months ago
    Gregg this I believe this is the case but based on confusion and just to be sure we did a CFI pro check since 61.419 states you do need a pro check for adding category or class. I was there and it was easy just to make sure. That is how I read 61.419...
  • Tom Currier
    by Tom Currier 10 months ago
    Landing wheels up on land is very uneventful (not that I've done that). The Cygnet has nubs extending out on the pontoons so there is literally no damage at all other than wearing down those nubs a bit. Grab the bow, lift it up high enough to get the wheels down and you're good to go again. Water landing with wheels down is as you state, pretty much a guaranteed flip.

    Did you do glassy water landings? You pull yourself down onto the water to find the surface (power on, tug in on the bar for a slight sink rate until you plop onto the water).

    Light wind landings are the hardest for me. The lake I fly out of is very hilly and the winds can be squirrely. Sometimes it's very tough finding the wind direction and it often differs from one end of the lake to the other due to surrounding hills and mountains wrapping the air around them.

    How did the spiral training work out? I haven't put mine into a spiral dive and am content with knowing the procedure from my training with Larry.
  • Paul Hamilton
    by Paul Hamilton 10 months ago
    Not that many WSC sea instructors but now we have one more here in the west
  • Gregg Ludwig
    by Gregg Ludwig 10 months ago
    Thanks Paul, and any flying or training is always good experience. I have flown the Cygnet with Dave Myers a few times and it sure was fun.
  • Paul Hamilton
    by Paul Hamilton 10 months ago
    Tom will get back to you on this fully booked today flying. More later.
  • Paul Hamilton
    by Paul Hamilton 10 months ago
    Tom, yes I was a little concerned spiraling the cygnet mainly because of the float area in front of the CB creating adverse yaw with a bad ending. Leo was a little goosy also so we did it at about 50 to 55 degree bank and it spiraled nicely like most wings. A little more effort with the big wing and all the float momentum but uneventful. I like to work my way up slowly to the 60 degrees which I will as a train my new water student as we bring his cygnet through its paces.
  • Doug Boyle
    by Doug Boyle 10 months ago
    Paul, The Cygnet has greatly improved the weldment on the floats over the older models. Like all seaplanes, it is imperative to check for water in the floats as the shifting of the water can create an imbalance. Many seaplanes use Bilge Pumps in the floats and include this item on the Checklist. The Cygnet does not use Bilge Pumps (unless they have recently included them) and only provide a cooper tube used to scavenge the inside area. This becomes a pain and is rarely practiced. A 12v Bilge Pump is cheap and can be adapted to operate easily for this task, and still remain "temporary" to ensure SLSA compliance.
  • Paul Hamilton
    by Paul Hamilton 10 months ago
    I an impressed as to the overall design and construction of the Cygnet. Looks like an art of engineering in float design. Allot of welds on the floats. It did come with a hand pump which is separate from the aircraft itself so great point to check the floats as a preflight. (Sidenote: As with most trikes, there is a haphazard checklists. One for the undercarriage, another for the wing, lost in the manuals. Have not seen usable checklists one as far as I am concerned for any trikes)

    However, I agree that pulling the plugs and checking for water should be mandatory for a preflight. Like making sure you have the proper air pressure in the tires. There are 4 plugs for each chamber, two on each side with a hand pump provided on this newer vintage so great point to add to a checklist. I am assuming water into the floats will not be a problem but one more thing to look at THANKS. Appreciate your help in my new journey into SeaTrikes. Hopefully I will not have to go to a 12 v for heavy duty pumping. Michael (the manufacturer) has been very helpful at working with me for improvements as needed. There are many compromises in order to provide an amfib for both land and water.
  • Doug Boyle
    by Doug Boyle 10 months ago
    At the Sun n Fun Splash-In a few years ago there was a pilot taking off that did not check his floats for water; they carted him off in a stretcher....My point is that water will find a way into your floats eventually. It may be through a leaking weldment, an underwater obstruction, or a hard landing.. Each float has the capacity to hold 12 cubic feet of water. At 7 gallons per cubic feet, that is an overall potential of over 1300 pounds! It only takes a shifting of a few pounds to throw your CG out of whack. Keep your "eye on the ball@ when it comes to water flying! I know you do, but just wanted to remind all!
  • Tom Currier
    by Tom Currier 10 months ago
    Nary a leak on my 2010 model. However, I did have a very scary problem when I first got the Cygnet. I'd be flying happily and suddenly shocked by a large "boom". After a bit of frantic searching around the trike to make sure the pieces were all there, I figured there was a prop strike by an unseen object. After this occurred a few times I finally figured out what was happening.

    The pontoons were so airtight that the pressure was causing a pop in the aluminum mid flight. Once I drilled out small holes in the rubber plugs on top the mysterious popping stopped.

    Yeah, airtight with no leaks in my 2010 :)
  • Paul Hamilton
    by Paul Hamilton 10 months ago
    Thanks Doug I will live and teach this important tip/reality. Appreciate your perspective on this point. Tom, so far so good.
  • Tom Currier
    by Tom Currier 10 months ago
    Paul, FYI here's my Cygnet pre-flight. As a matter of choice, I do a complete pre-flight every flying day from memory, checking virtually every nut and bolt, connections, and chassis, sail, and engine components. When I'm done, I take a little breather then dig out this review that I keep in the plane:

    Pre Flight Review

    Control frame secure
    Control frame cables and nuts secure
    Downtube not kinked or damaged
    Hang block secure, Hang block jesus cable secure at sail and chassis
    Haul Back Cable Secure
    Nose cables, swing catch, plates, o-ring secure
    Leading edge, crosstube, wing struts undamaged, bolts secure
    Wing tip secure, webbing in place, lights in place
    Washout struts secure
    Sprogs secure
    Sprog zippers closed
    Cross battens secure
    Ribs secured
    Sail condition including top
    Cracks, bending, damage to floats and wheel gear
    Pitot tube cap removed
    Carriage attachment bolts secure
    Seat belts secure
    Tire pressure and attachment
    Rudder assembly secure
    Battery, starter solenoid, back seat steering secure
    Pod secure, all pedals, brakes, accessories secure

    No leaks, fuel switch on, fuel lines not kinked
    Cap dance; Fuel, Oil, water level check
    Oil cooler secure, exhaust secure
    Prop blades – secure and no damage
    Air filter, plugs, springs all secure

    Walk around and review aesthetics to make sure everything looks as it should
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