Sunday, June 07, 2009

Fun with floatplanes

For my birthday Maureen organized the perfect weekend. We drove up to Copperopolis, an oddly developed town on the way to Yosemite attracting golfing and boating enthusiasts. I don't care much about golfing or boating, but I was there to learn learn how to land a plane in the water.
It's hard to say what's so extraordinarily awesome about floatplanes. Maybe it's the freedom to land in the location of your choice, or the fact that it seems so absolutely impossible until you've tried it, or perhaps just the bragging rights that come with gracefully gliding into a lake at 60mph (100kmh) next to a jetskier or a speedboater who until then thought they were the hottest thing in the water. The closest comparison would be between skiing a groomer vs. off-piste, but I am not sure that does it justice.
I was lucky enough to "get it" on the first try, so we got to do a lot of really fun stuff on this 2 hr flight, including river flying (picture flying a plane along a windy river, barely off the water, with the cliffs around you towering 500ft higher than your altitude), squeezing underneath power lines and even sailing under the span of a bridge. The only regret is that we couldn't take any passengers, so Maureen stayed at the dock. That's the tricky thing about Seaplanes: they are rather dangerous and insurance constraints are very restrictive.
I'd recommend hanging out in Calaveras county more, it's a great place to hike and bike, and if you have the opportunity to hitch a ride in a floatplane while you are there, do it!
I have uploaded a short video of us taking off and landing in the pond that serves a the seabase, and a bunch more pictures here.

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