The fun rating


Known as the fun rating, seaplane flying has an adventurous allure. Seaplane pilots venture into hard-to-reach places, such as villages in Alaska, fishing spots in Canada, Florida swamps, Amazon rivers, small bays, and Caribbean islands.

The 22nd Annual SUN ‘n FUN Seabirds Splash-In today on Lake Agnes near Fantasy of Flight was where this brotherhood gathered.

SUN ‘n FUN week also offers an opportunity for pilots to earn a seaplane rating or renew their skills. Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base in nearby Winter Haven was running all engines on Tuesday. That’s where I caught up with Jer Eberhard after he practiced glassy water landings.

Eberhard, a mountain flying instructor from Colorado, flew with instructor Roger Olson in a J-3 Piper Cub on Edo floats.

“I can’t think of a better way to start the day,” he said.

He explained he doesn’t own a seaplane “because it is illegal to land on water in Colorado, so I come here to fly.”

Except in an emergency, it is generally against the law to land on reservoirs, privately owned lakes, bodies of water in national parks, or on a bodies of water where motorized boats are not allowed. For a complete listing of safe places to land, see the Water Landing Directory published annually by The Seaplane Pilots Association.

No other flight school in the world has taught more people to fly seaplanes than Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base in nearby Winter Haven. In its 51st year of operation, Brown’s remains a family business.

Surrounded by 100 freshwater lakes in a five-mile radius, the base operates year-round and trains about 500 students a year. One could say that they wrote the book on seaplane flying, but it was actually one of their long-time instructors, John M. Rennie, who wrote “Step Up to Floats: Airplane Single Engine Seaplane Training Manual.”

If you plan to earn your seaplane rating during next year’s SUN ‘n FUN, expect to sign up for a spot in November.

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  1. ed pataky says

    The seaplane rating is great. I upgraded my Private SES to Commercial SES at Brown’s in 2007, and enjoyed it more than I can say. It’s fast (2 days), reasonably priced, the instructors are incredibly professional, the aircraft are maintained – in short, it’s about the perfect flight school. The scenery is beyond fabulous – the morning views on the deck overlooking the lake. If you’re planning on getting a seaplane rating, this is THE place to go.

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