Forced Landings on Land and Lakes

Power Off Landings (water)

Power Off Glassy Water Landing

Forced Landing on Land

This isn’t quite as bad as you might expect.  Picking a “soft” spot to land on, such as a golf course, soft marsh, or even a paved runway all can result in minimal damage to the floats or hull.  As you might expect, plan for the floats to cause some drag against the surface and you may feel like the airplane wants to flip.  Once you make contact with the surface, ease in full yoke or stick back to try and keep the nose up (you won’t be able to, but it does help somewhat).  The floats stick out far enough that on solid ground the float plane (or hull plane for that matter) will not flip over.  Some advise adding in a small amount of power once you contact the surface to increase the airflow over your elevator and help keep the nose up as you decelerate due to the friction with the surface (of course you may or may not have engine power to use).  Consult your CFI if that applies to your particular aircraft.  The “standard” approach to land a float plane on solid ground (if there is such a thing) would be a slightly flatter than usual attitude and just ever so slightly higher approach speed, and of course preferably into the wind.

Night water landings should be considered only in an emergency.  You are better off landing your seaplane on a paved lit runway at night accepting a small amount of damage to the floats, rather than attempting to land where you cannot see the surface of the water or obstacles in the water.

Emergency landings in the water

Similar rules apply to emergency landings on land.  Unlatch doors prior to landing in case they are bent by impact and cannot be opened.  Passengers sitting near the doors should hold liferaft/survival bag/etc in their lap so you’re not looking for it after you are upside down.  Floatation gear should always be worn so you are ready to inflate it once you egress the airplane.  Ensure you give thorough passenger briefs prior to departure (it’s a bit distracting trying to convey important information you should have given on the ground to someone once you are in the air and have a real emergency).